Thursday, December 25, 2014

Favorite Christmas Photos

They don't come often - in fact, for us it may be the only night of this year, but some nights are for sitting around, indulging sentiment, and being thankful. After laughing over most of our Christmas photos, I chose to (peruse over the family photo bloopers and unbelievable Christmas morning aftermath and...) pick out the ones that reflect the beauty that the gift of Christ has inspired in me tonight. *Note, I found 6 photos out of approx. 300. **Also note: This is real life, and sometimes that's the proportion of beauty to mess.**
Thank you, Lord, for the depth and beauty found only in and because of You. 


Thursday, October 23, 2014

TBT: A special wedding weekend

Throw back Thursday! Remember that time when... 

Our friends Adam and Becca got married! We do - and always will! Cary and Adam grew up together. Adam was a groomsman in our wedding, and he's a near-famous rocket scientist now. Cary was delighted to be at his side in the wedding and to be a part of his big weekend. I was happy for them to have an excuse for guy-time and reminiscing, and left blinking and befuddled when all of a sudden my other half disappeared for 48 hours on a very exciting weekend.... Just Mom and her 2/3 of her boys!

48 hours of Mom and Boys, including get-ready-for-wedding time. WE DID IT! 
Spiffed up: head to TOE

*Things no one tells you*
I have no pictures of the actual wedding event. Turns out, this is a pattern in my adventures in parenting/photography. I ALWAYS miss the main event! (Kids are so darn distracting; when you add wedding attire, bouquets and adoring bridesmaids to the mix, what's a Mom to do?! Not to mention the fact that they fill your photographer arms, unless they are not in your arms in which case they need your undivided attention, and they're just so cute, you have to snap photos.) *Read on to find out how I missed most of the ceremony* Maybe this is how wedding photography first came about... Luckily, there was a super photography team there, and tons of beautiful photos of our friends to enjoy later. Now... on to MY photos of the day.

Smelling the roses

Cute little cabbie

 *We spotted Daddy!*
Sweet Daddy moment: After a long wedding weekend, we were all missing Daddy. During the ceremony, the boys lit up when they saw their Daddy walk out behind the groom. They tapped everyone beside them to point him out - so very proud of their celebri-dad. A few minutes later after the entrance of the bride, everyone was engrossed in the ceremony -except for Gabe who was looking around for someone he could point out Cary to. "Daddy!" Yes! I nodded. The serious nature of his face made me nervous, and that's when I caught the slightest quiver in his cheek. He was overwhelmed with emotion at seeing his spiffy Daddy up front, but not being able to get to him, and the emotion appeared to be growing. An unsuspecting Uncle Pete was holding him, and I leaned in close: Gabe, it's ok! It's ok! No use. He was sucking air, so I clamped my hand over his mouth and mouthed to Pete, Run! Poor little Gabe went off like a siren as we cleared the sanctuary doors. I explained to him we'd be with Daddy very soon. He put on a brave face and I wiped his tears, but when I asked him if we could go back into the sanctuary where he could see Daddy without him crying, each time he'd shake his head, no. *Precious thing!* And so, we waited outside for the rest of the ceremony, and when the twins finally spotted Cary they went running.

Special Mommy moment: Watching my son watch the father-daughter, and mother-son dances, I thought of how many times I've been warned of just how fast the rest of his life would fly by. I believed that all too soon I'd be looking into that precious face, a full grown man on his wedding day. (Would I be remembering this moment? Could I ever love him more than right now?) I bawled.

Time to lighten up, Mom. Photo spree!

It was a fun day to celebrate Adam and Becca, and a special day with each of my boys:

*Highest of Gabe compliments to the cupcake chef*

Happy Thursday!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Back Seat: Occupied

My facebook newsfeed has lit up recently with friends who are traveling to Ethiopia to meet/bring their children HOME. I am flooded with appreciation for the way God places orphans in families, for all I've learned about Him since He called us to adopt (pure gold!), and for the joy that it is to have my little ones with me every day.

Over a year ago now, while we were waiting (and WAITING) for "the call" to go and get our boys, I wrote THIS post: Empty Back Seat. Now, here we are - our whole lives whirring by - doing it together, Hill Family of 4.

I'm taking pause today to give thanks and beyond for the following, recognizing how much beauty there is in the present. Lifting up all the moms out there with hearts that are swollen today with the vision God has given them while they still have to wait, and THANK YOU Lord, for my sisters who today get to GO!

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." - James 1:17

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Things I love...

There just isn't time to sit down and document all the things I appreciate in a day. (I give up.) But here again, I blinked and before me are two older, amazing toddler people with sharp minds and hilarious personality. Here's a rambling list of all the little things that are common smile catalysts around this place, but may change by the time I next blink. Things Mommy loves:

I love...

...the beginning of our days: I hit my snooze once around 7:30 (on glorious mornings, twice!) and wait to be beckoned out of bed by this chorus. "Mommmy... MOMMM-yyyyyyyy.... MOOOMMMMMMM-yyyyyyy.... Up! Peeeeez...... UP! Peeeeeez." It's pretty sweet. ((Exception days go like this: Gabe gets us up between 6 and 6:30, or sometimes, if one twin is standing up in his crib, and the other would have as soon enjoyed a few more winks, I hear "MOMMM-yyyyyy," interrupted by the other twins' 'NO!" which normally ends in twin tears over this difference of opinion. Then I open the door, and tell you boys to try getting our day off to a better start.)
...prayer. During the day, you pray with Mommy before breakfast and lunch and for random things. You repeat the prayer Mommy begins, and then fill in with your own ideas (usually thanking God for each individual family member by name, and baby cows, choo-choo-trains, motorcycles and helmets.) Every night, the whole fam (of 8) is seated round the table, we hold hands to, "Pray?! Pray?!" (from your 2-year-old voices). Sometimes you boys make a quick charade of being undecided about how ready you are to hold brother's hand. We all pretend not to be amused while we wait for you to decide in your own time to hold hands after all, and Daddy begins to pray. Gabe lowers his head and squints his eyes, sometimes checking to make sure that's what everyone else is doing. Zeke unabashedly looks around, eyes wide open, not even apologizing if your peek meets his stare. (After all, aren't YOU supposed to be closing your eyes?)
...hearing you name each other. "Z-Z?" is normally what Gabe sounds like when he's calling Zeke. Oddly enough, Zeke calling Gabe also sounds a lot like "Z-Z?" -It's a strange consonnant that's pretty close to "Gt!" ...But also sounds like a fast, "Zete!" Maybe my vocalist friends can help me IPA it.
...cyclic conversation, mostly with Zeke. It goes like this: "Mo-mma! Momma!!" Yes, Zeke? "Mo-mo-mo!" Did you see a motorcyle? "No. Mo-mo-mo!" Does Daddy have a motorcycle? "Ya." Does- "'el-met! 'elmet!" Does Daddy wear a helmet? "Ya. 'Elmet!" That's good. That keeps him safe. "Ya. Momma?! Mo-mo-mo!" ...And we're off for round two of a very similar discussion.
...that Gabe walks around beatboxing the rhythm to his apparent theme song. It seems to follow him around most when he's playing outside.
...hearing, "Yes, ma'am." On an ordinary day in the middle of our ordinary lunch, I asked Gabe if he wanted a (I don't remember - insert food item here)... Seconds later, I stopped and realized he'd answered me, "Yeh-eh." (Translation: Yes ma'am.) I was shocked! We have modeled this for the boys many times, but never thought to make it an expectation yet - it seems so early! But Gabe has kept up the use of his finest manners, and Zeke has begun answering that way too. Of course no one else would know that's what the boys are saying, but it's the unprompted gesture of two tender little hearts that swept this mommy off her feet. Mommy LOVES...
...common toddler words. They're just cuter when your kids say 'em! "O-tay!" "No-uh-uh" (No thank you) "Outside?!" "Play?!" "Wa-wa?!" "Wa-won" (Wagon) "Hum?" (Help?)
...that we finish every meal-time with our version of the "clean-up" song. When I taught the twins, they didn't talk! So instead they sang, "A-ta, A-ta, eh, eh, eh, eh." And while I sing "Clean-up, clean-up, everybody everywhere," those are the words they sing to this day.
...that when Gabe is running around the room, he banks his turns - literally tucking one elbow, tilting and extending the other. Maybe he's got a natural feel for aviation. Regardless, it's impressive. 
...Echoes. You have to appreciate the days you hear your OWN words come out of your kids' mouth. To avoid an overly harsh sounding "No," I sometimes gesture to what the boys are getting into and say, "Att-at-at-at-at..." I don't know where I got this. It might be odd, but it's effective. I gained new perspective on the phrase, though, about 2 weeks ago when Zeke picked something else and asked me, "Ya?!" and I shook my head, no. He nodded confidently, wagged his little finger, and said, "Att-att-at-at-at. No-no-no-no-no."
...Twin reading. We were floored this week when Gabe pulled out "Brown Bear, Brown Bear," but unprompted, HE started reading it to us! It went precisely like this. "Ba-ti! Ba-ti! Wa, too, ahh?!" On every page. :)

...Twin SINGING! It was amazing and unexpected when you started filling in words at the ends of phrases during your ni-night lullabies, but now you are singing along with us on most of our songs. "Da Lord (is my shepherd), I'll "Wat" (with Him) always! Always, always, I'll wat, always." "If you were a boat my darlin', a boat my darlin', I'd be the wind at your Bok!" "Amen, Amen, Amen..." (+ clapping).... The list goes on, but I love it. you can dub over the facial expressions Zeke is making and he'll keep his facials going to match your story.
...Time out. Sounds strange as a "Mommy love," item, but this is how it goes. "Z/G, was that a good choice?" (Shake of the head, no.) "Ok, time out." (And you go sit your cute little self down for the next 45 seconds, quietly assuming responsibility.) "Ok, stand up!" (You bounce to your feet, when necessary, you go give your brother a "Sorry" and a hug, we talk about how bad choices have been forgiven by God, and you bounce off to play!) It's precious to see you boys take ownership for the things you know in your heart are wrong, and sit yourselves down in the sweetest pitiful posture I've ever seen. It's taught Mommy so much about the joy of redemption, and I value the reminder in our daily routine!

Friday, May 16, 2014

10 Years Today

May 16, 2014

On this day 10 years ago I started dating Cary Hill. We were 17. He made a very gallant gesture of asking me out on a sunny Sunday afternoon. (There were crutches and bare-feet and gravel...) We didn't know for sure on that day - but kind of did - that the joy of being together would only increase with time. Once we realized we were running after the same things in this life, we'd never want to do it apart.

 Last night we stole a couple of hours away to celebrate all God has done in the past 10 years (THANKS P&A!),  revisit some of our favorite dating spots, continue an old photo tradition, and then to play in the rain. (We'll opt for more sophisticated dates someday- give us 10 more years.)

Year 10! Having just as much fun celebrating at the VT Pylons as we did...

Year 5
and Year 4

and Year 3

 and Year 2

and Year 1

Cary, what a blessing it has been to walk beside you, to love you and be loved by you these past 10 years. I could never have imagined the joy God had in store for us.

 Here's to many more...

Monday, April 28, 2014

26 months

Mighty Men... We are long overdue for an update, and there's so much to say. You are 26 months strong, wise, and FUN! You're walking (running, galloping...), talking (both traditional lingo and non), and budding with personality! These days you are best buds, filling the days with interactive play. Take a look at all God is doing in you these days...

-You are great eaters. We still start every day with half a banana, yogurt, and something hearty. After that, you eat whatever Mom and Dad eat for lunch and dinner. (And lots of it!)
-Sweets are still a no-go. You had your first cupcake at your birthday party, but we still stick to the good stuff most of the time.

-Gabe finally has 4 top and bottom teeth, with two more top teeth that recently cut through, and all 4 molars leaving only two mystery spots on the bottom. Of course, we know Zeke has long had all of his teeth in... Grandad Clayton calls him "Womper-Chomper."
-Even better than seeing all those pearly whites every day is the huge variety of smiles we see on a daily basis. Smirks, "cheese!" pouts, you name it... The cutest expressions I've seen in my life are appearing around here every day.
While we're talking about teeth, can I pause to note that I have figured out the right regimen for taking care of your hair? Look how beautiful handsome!! This also gives me an excuse to share more pictures: Z's curls from behind (amazing), and finally a non-blurred shot that captures G's hair (yes - you had to be asleep to catch that!)
I might be MOST excited about the music that's pouring out of you. (At the moment, Gabe is behind me humming the middle of "Twinkle, Twinkle" - perfectly on pitch. Yessss!) We love to sing...
-"If You're Happy and You Know It"
-"I'm in the Lord's Army"
-"Jesus Loves Me" (Knock, Knock, Rattle, Rattle)
-John McCutcheon's "Kindergarten Song"
-(You both love the Mozart theme to) "Twinkle, Twinkle," and the "A, B, C" song. Gabe sings the melody randomly when he's making songs up, too.
-Our favorite is that you now participate in singing our favorite songs, ("Let it Go,""Love is an Open Door" - Zeke loves to do the "-with you-" echoes) and best of all; "The Boat Song." Here's a melt-my-heart audio clip Daddy took the first night you started singing with me, Gabe. (You were on his lap, and while mommy's singing across the room, you're filling in the words at the end of each phrase.)

-You can say ANYTHING! The longest word you say every day is "Mo-mo-mo." (Motorcycle.) Since the weather warmed up and Daddy got his bike out, it's the talk of the house every day.
-You have your own version of almost every common phrase. Even though you can say "Thank-you," perfectly clear, these days you both chirp, "Thank-en!"
"Pweez!" comes out nice and clear, you're good about "Yes ma'am," and "Yes, sir." But no thank you comes out, "No-uh-uh..." And combination phrases, like "Milk, please," turn to "eh-ehhhhh." It's all about the inflection around here.
-(Speaking of inflection...) My favorite thing to hear (and I hear it alot!) is, "Hi-i-i-i!" The sweetest, pure and innocent up-down tones of a greeting a person could hope for.
-You are both counting to 5 consistently, Gabe counts "3,4,5!" before running or jumping or sliding... 
-You love to sing (and have Mommy sign) the "A, B, C's." You recognize your letters, G and Z.

Movin' and Groovin'
-30 lbs each! At your 2 year appointment you came in the 78th percentile for height!
-Zeke's first steps were in December, and while he was toddling and still crawling just a little bit in January, by your birthday the waiting game was over.
-NOW Z you are always on your feet. When we pull in any parking lot, you start shouting, "Wak! Wak!" to be sure I won't try to carry you. You are a big boy, and you love to walk! You also love to run - particularly when we're in your room and you can chase Gabe in circles. Our favorite addition to your movement lately is the elbows. For some reason, you recently started flapping your elbows as you toddle excitedly. It kind of resembles the walk of a hurried old man, but maybe because you're ALWAYS smiling as you go, it works for you.
-Gabe's walk is old news, and his run has turned from a bouncy bubbly toddle to a big boy stride.
-Gabe runs and gets serious air when he's jumping. But the latest, is the "gallop." We were playing outside one evening when I showed Gabe how to gallop like a horse. He spent the next three days galloping EVERYWHERE. Got him out of his crib, feet hit the floor: gallop. Gabe, come get in your highchair! Gallop. Gabe, you look sleepy. Want to come rock? Sleepy gallop.
-You boys ask for, "Outside!? Outside??" every day. The uneven surfaces have strengthened your stride! Your Dad is SO happy that your love of the great outdoors was as instant as he'd hoped.
-"Duck, Duck, GOO!" - Your new favorite game that begins anytime someone is sitting on the floor. One of you runs up to pat their head with a suspenseful "Duck... GOO!" and then you BOTH run and expect to be chased.
-(All that action will wear two cute lil guys out! You are napping from 1-3 or 3:30 these days.)

-Bedtime is just super fun. There's so much routine... Climbing on Daddy's back while he does push ups, tickling of toes when we take off socks, carrying dirty clothes to the closet, getting your Bibles down off the shelf, sitting in laps to read, turning on our night light, "Tu-ttle," singing, rocking, and praying together at the end of another great day.
-While I'm often saying things like, "Boys, go play!" I love that right now you always want to be where I am. If I'm making dinner, you're asking to be "Up, up!" -You are super kitchen helpers, but when I tell you Mommy doesn't need help, you sit on the kitchen floor playing with canned soups and chip clips. When I'm (writing a blog post) you want to be right in my lap, in on the action, or pulling me over to the toys you want to play with. And I love it.
-Friday mornings I get you out of your cribs, you each hold your Elmo and trail your blankets as we walk to Mommy and Daddy's bed to snuggle and watch youtube videos of Elmo's songs.
-Zeke just started exclaiming "Oh!" every time he is corrected (as if you had NO idea that you were in error). It's hilarious and devious since it's at times when I've said, "Eat your snack at the table," and you are suddenly sitting beside me on the floor with snack in hand. I remind you, "Zeke, you're supposed to eat your snack at the table," and you say "Oh!" Very smooth.
-Gabe is always pulling out his bag of tricks to get a rise out of his audience. Our favorites these days are his Cosby face, his "Heyyyy," (pointing both index fingers at you and squinting one eye), and his ability to copy anything he's seen once. Which brings me to my next anecdote.
-It was pointed out to me once years ago that when I pray, I used the syllable "Um," a lot.  Well, this month, YOU pointed out to me that I say it around the house a lot too. One day when I asked, "Gabe, would you like some milk?" You said, "Ummm.... (and rolled your eyes up to the side while you considered) ....Yes." What is that about? I wondered. But when I asked if you were all done, or if you slept well, or asked you anything... I got the same, "thoughtful," "Ummmmm.... Yes." Or, "Ummmmm..... No." It began to frustrate me. Do you want another cracker or not? Just spit it out! I was about to ask Cary where this new habit originated when it hit me -- it didn't come from him.

Well, I've used up a nap time and bled into your playtime, so I think blogging time is up! Suffice it to say, life with you is FUN. Your Daddy and I were pulling you in your red wagon on the Huckleberry trail the other night, figuring that these may very well be the best days of our lives. We're not taking them for granted. Thank You, God, for all of the LIFE and LOVE we have found in our amazing two year olds.