Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving Day One Year Ago

On Thanksgiving day one year ago, Cary and I boarded a plane 
to go meet our sons for the first time.

It feels like another life when our feet really walked the streets of an ancient, beautiful, weathered country. 
Unbelievable that we got to meet our sons there. 

How can it only have been a year since we first looked into the faces of those 
sweet, vulnerable, perfect Mighty Men for the first time?


It is so hard to remember life before we knew the constant joy of our sons' faces, 
their giggles, their dynamic personalities...   


I can't believe that in a year, my twins have gone from babies to boys. 

My heart is heavy and full. So much I could never have imagined or hoped for myself has been given to me. I know that my expression of it all falls short of the greatness of theses good and perfect gifts, but I am overwhelmingly thankful.
"...let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe." - Heb 12:28

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Zeke and Gabe Go to DC

Washington DC is my place. (Yes, I realize I share my place with umpteen million other people.) Every time we drive into the city, I feel the same rush - so much history, so many people moving with purpose and influence and hope and determination. I like to go to remember the things our country was founded on, to celebrate freedom, remember the brave, see the diversity the pinnacle of our melting pot creates, drink in the sun setting over memorials of great things... Since it's always been a special place to me, it became a special place to Daddy and I, and now it's a special place to our family of 4!

We went to NOVA with our friends from church for a conference that helped give us vision for our education program, and then when everyone else headed home, the Hill family extended our stay to introduce Washington DC to MIGHTY MEN Zeke and Gabe.

Zeke and Gabe Go to DC

First we walked to church at Capitol Hill Baptist

Next, we headed down to the mall - we were excited!


 First stop: The Capitol - where we exercised our freedom of speech, and sword play

At the other end of the mall we gazed at the White House and pondered the happenings inside.


On our stroll back from Pennsylvania Avenue, the boys picketed the city, collecting smiles and hellos from street vendors, policemen, and passersby. The wind blew a lot of dust across the mall, so we hopped one block over. Just like he does anywhere else we go, Gabe chattered away, and the sweet sound of his busy babble bounced off of the buildings. As is also typical, Zeke rode quietly beside him, sometimes adding addendums to Gabe's song, but mostly giving silent approval of Gabe's many announcements. It hit me all of a sudden that you Mighty Men were adding your sound - leaving your own mark - on the streets marked by so many Mighty Men before. What a fantastic introduction to our capital city. DC, the Mighty Men Zeke and Gabe. Mighty Men, Washington DC. We'll be back.

Monday, November 25, 2013

We Are Thankful

 Thanksgiving is almost here! The holidays change the mood in the air, and we get to channel that excitement in whatever way we want - extra hustle and bustle, or extra occasion to slow down and breathe it in. As we gear up for Thursday, I'm going to take time each day to process some of the recent things I'm most thankful for in one of my favorite ways - blogging! (Props to those of you who have been posting thankful thoughts all month - I enjoy reading them, and I'm impressed. It's all I can do to pull my thoughts and organized energies together for a week!) There's a super post to follow this one with some of my favorite pictures from this year. Today's pictures aren't so bad, either. ;) 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

20 months

Mighty Men Z and G, you are growing into such strong and fabulous little boys. Mom can hardly keep up with you (the day I was cautioned about has arrived - you are literally running in two different directions all day long)! So how could we expect Mom to blog all your latest experiences and accomplishments?

A couple weekends ago Uncle Lee and Aunt Kristen came to town, and while we were sharing some of your cutest stories, Aunt Kristen reminded me that I should stop to record those sweetest of moments. (I've been paralyzed from blogging these past months since there are so many big things to document - I don't even know where to start!) But it's true that the brief things you do or hilarious things you say are the treasures that slip away the quickest. So, with that in mind... I'm spending today's nap time (not cleaning up the table or kitchen counter or living room or sorting laundry) documenting some special happenings of recent in the Hill household.

Breakfast - always yogurt, banana, and eggs/waffle/pancake, or muffins for a special treat
Lunch/Dinner - you are table food champs! (Even using forks for things like scrambled eggs.) No more purees or rice cereal.
Preferences - potatoes (regular or sweet), kidney/black beans, pot roast, and BREAD! It has become clear that you do not actually like all the same foods. Zeke enjoys veggies and pasta, while those things are instantly rejected by Gabe. (Literally, his tongue reappears right out of his mouth with the undesirable objects on it.) Gabe likes meat and potatoes. And did I mention, bread?!
Progress - You are both drinking from sippy cups like you born knowing how to do it. I can't believe this felt like such a challenge a couple months ago. (We wondered if you would ever do it!) You drink 2-3 full sippy cups of whole milk every day, some water, and occasionally a little bit of juice with lunch.

First, you should know - you have become expert tooth-brushers. After bath time and having your ears cleaned, you guys sit by the tub and let Mommy have a turn brushing those little chiclets, and then it's your turn, and you LOVE it! Now, how many teeth are you brushing... Remember how at 17 months you both had two upper and lower teeth that had been in for awhile, and I said your third and fourth uppers were on their way? Well, Gabe - you've been focused on other things. There are no status updates on that cute little mouth of yours. Zeke on the other hand has been dedicated to growing some teeth. Z, you have a mouth full of 12 teeth, my friend. And when the moment is right, you flash them very well. When you scrunch your nose and smile, we can even see those molars in the back. ;) (That's your "smolder." Gets the ladies every time!)

-We're singing a lot of the same songs (Wiseman, Boy Named David, Itsy Bitsy Spider...)
-A special addition as of late is "Row, Row, Row Your Boat." It might kill me. Every time we're in the car, you specifically request "Wo, wo, wo." And I can hardly finish the phrase, "Life is but a dream-" before Zeke exclaims, "-'gain!" Oi. The thing that keeps me singing it is your participation. The other day, Zeke was singing "Wo, wo, wo," with me each time, and then wait until I got to "Merrily, merrily, merrily" to come in with that sweet lil wandering head voice. To die for. So we keeeeeeep singing it. :)
-My favorite newbe is completely original. I call it your "new song every morning." You guys have become quite find of composing your own tunes, which you mostly perform while playing toys. The lyrics are generally variations of the words, "Daa-da,""A-da, or "Baa-ba," but the rhythms and melodic choices are impressive.

It's a little sad to realize that as you become more and more verbal, we're moving away from sign language. We've dropped "All done" and "Oh my," but we're still heavy users of all the rest. The most impressive addition that you sign is, "please" -and you use it all the time. When we pick you up from the church nursery, we almost always get asked what you were signing to them all morning - 'please'!

Words - Did I mention you were so much more VERBAL! You've added...
Your own names, "Zee" and "Geh"
Oh, yeah!
No (Yes. We've learned the dreaded word.)
And while those are the words you freely offer up any ole time, you'll repeat just about any word we ask you to. Also, there's a whole lot of babble going on around here. Like, full babble sentences, and we're starting to get the idea that you two know what you're saying, while we still don't.

Sounds (What does the _______ say?)
Turkey (gobble, gobble)
Fish (mouth opens and closes - you take it very seriously)
Cat (finally, you "meow!")
Fox (A response to the most popular youtube video, Daddy taught Gabe to say "Wap-ap-ap-ap-ap-apow!)

Movin' and Groovin'
Gabe is running! He took his time letting go of our fingers, but when he did he was a super stable walker. (Don't get me wrong, this kid is not afraid to fall. Hard.) But fearless Gabe had been independently toddling only a couple of days before he tried running. (For awhile it looked like you were running to catch up with your own momentum!) But you've got it all worked out, and just like when you were crawling, you, Gabe, are FAST.

Zeke is a crawling pro. In fact, crawling is old hat. He stands in his crib, cruises on furniture, and even pulls up to standing and pushes the toy walker across the floor! The truth is, he's actually a walker - but he's a pretty stubborn  kid, and he's been very stubborn about walking by himself. For weeks he's demanded two fingers to hold if he was going to walk on his own, which he really prefers to do. The past week, we responded with a similar mandate: one finger, or nothin'. And so, he's been walking assisted by only one finger! In PT we're working to get him free-standing, and then - just like with crawling, we know he'll take off and never look back.

***You boys are book CRAZY! Toys run a distant second to reading time. The cutest part is that when you pick up a book, you expect the nearest adult to assume "criss-cross-applesauce" so that you can back your little selves into their lap and be read to. The funniest tales are on Zeke, though- he starts backing up from quite a distance, and is not a great judge of direction when he's in reverse. Blessed is the adult waiting for Zeke to navigate his own little bum into their lap. It's hilarious.
***Bah-ble: Our night-time routine is my favorite part of every day, and warrants it's own blog post. But for reasons beyond ourselves, you have both come to look affectionately to the book of untold treasures, your Jesus Storybook Bible. Every night when we get up to your room and say "Time for pjs," or "Ni-night time..." we hear little chants of "Bah-ble," and when we affirm, yes - it's Bible time - you giggle and spin in circles and Gabe does his "fast feet" in place. Just last night we discovered Gabe can go retrieve the Bible from the top of your play shelf himself - and everyone was excited about that. Nothing makes Mommy or Daddy's heart gush like seeing you respond to God's Word already. Praises to our God who has already chosen to work in your hearts!
***Interestingly enough, you've each chosen a favorite animal! We were so surprised and figured it would fade, but so far, you're consistent. Zeke loves the zebra. In books, he combs through the pages to find it, points and says, "Zibra." (-It kind of comes out as one syllable.) Gabe fell in love with the plastic toy giraffe we have, and always favors the "jaffe" when it appears other places. (Mrs Mills will be so proud of your choices!)
***Since one day I'd had enough of Zeke's whining, instead of telling you, "No," again... I just leaned into your face and mimicked the whine, which you thought was hilarious. (Also, it worked - the whining stopped!) However, a new game was born. Now, you both love to pretend whine so that I'll copy you, we pause to laugh, and so on.

20-month-olds. Where did all the baby go? Every day I am looking into the faces of two precious toddlers, but I still feel shocked that the baby-faces that were looking back at me just a couple days ago have so quickly matured. You're curious and adventuring, learning and growing every day. It's a special time in your lives, and I'm lovin' it.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Zeke and Gabe Go to the Zoo

Last July we took the boys on their first trip to the zoo at Natural Bridge. What? Some people post photos from July trips in July? Psht. Where's the suspense? I present to you this November night, a warm summer visit to meet the animals with the cutest-ever twin boys.

Zeke and Gabe Go to the Zoo!

Zeke: Why do I feel like there's something behind me?

Hidden tiger, sleeping... tiger:

A day at the zoo: hip-hip(popotamus), hooray!

Thanks to this hilarious, attitudey (over-visited and overfed) creature, Zeke and Gabe learned to make their first "GrrrrrrR" sound when we ask, "What does the BEAR say?"

Grandmarmy's favorite animal! I could not believe they were giving elephant rides - but they were!! 

Head shots!

And we met other twins! (No, not this pair of zebras. Just other twins, at the zoo.)

Watching Zeke and Gabe react to each different animal was so much fun. We were pleasantly surprised at all there was to see, the cute reactions they inspired, and how interested Z and G remained in the diverse creatures that God created.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Twins' First Halloween

Happy First Halloween sweet boys! Oh, my cutest-ever money bags, what else could we have dressed our little treasures as this year? (I'll spare you the endless "worth more than gold, "our little gems," idioms, and tell you that you were the cutest little waddlers that have ever been dropped into pillow cases. From behind you reminded me of the Fantasia mushrooms.) But seriously, this season we have been so aware that just ONE YEAR ago this time, we were waiting to get a court date from a judge in ET - permission to get on a plane and come meet you for the first time. Oh, how our lives would change. We knew it was for the better, but had no idea what priceless joys you would bring to our lives! (-There, I did it again. Priceless. It's just too easy.)

Look! It's our people. One BIG happy house. I think we're finding our groove, this family of 8, and I'll tell you more about it when I get back to blogging soon - for real. But the short version is, this multi-generational living is beautiful. It's real messy. (I think the bottom right corner captures it the best.) But it's real beautiful. Just look: