Category Archives: twins

The Twins are FOUR!

Okay, so before we get to that exciting title, I’ll try to put you out of your misery on the wood (and “wood”) samples that I teased you with last week.

I showed you these three options and hinted (okay, flat out told you) that only one of them was wood.

wood floor labeled

It’s the one on the right. Which…was my favorite (BUT I totally forgot to write down the name…sorry). But it’s also over twice the price of the other two, not to mention about half as practical.

It’s actually engineered hardwood (which means only the top layer is real wood), and we considered laying it in part of the downstairs, but ultimately, as much as I love the white-washed plank look, I think I’m better off going with something super durable in the kitchen and dining.

SO!

At this point, we’re seriously considering going with this combo instead.

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That would be Option 1 (on the top), which is a Shaw porcelain tile product called Napa Noce in Cask, in the kitchen/dining and Option 2 (on bottom…y’alls fave by far) in the rest of the house (minus the bathrooms). It’s actually a laminate wood product by Mohawk (Rare Vintage Fawn Chestnut), which is supposed to be super-durable (but still is not ideal for kitchens since you can’t wet-mop it, and, boy howdy, do we put the wet in wet-mopping round here. “Flood mopping” might be a more apropos term for what the boys do).

It’s hard to see from this picture with the harsh fluorescent lighting and angle how closely the two tones match, but they really do. They’re a different width, but there’s a cased opening between the kitchen and the living room, so our plan is to run a plank under the opening to create a divide between the two “woods” and then have porcelain on one side and laminate on the other.  (Contrary to what the picture suggests, they will be running the same direction, not perpendicularly). Even the owner of the lumberyard was impressed with how closely the styles and tones matched in person.

Also…remember how I mentioned how consistent I am once I like something (i.e. picking the same paint color we were already considering from across the room at Lowe’s)? Well, I went to a different store the other day juuuuust to see if they had something I liked better at a comparable price and picked out a “similar” look…which…when the sales rep actually looked up the name, ended up being the Fawn Chestnut AGAIN! Just change my middle name to consistent and/or obsessed.

So! That’s the current plan. It could change. But I think, no matter what we finally end up with, I’ll probably go with a wood-look tile in the kitchen, since it gives me the style I want with the price/durability our big, mess-making family needs.

(Unless, of course, some of you have laminate in your kitchens and have had a great experience with it, in which case…CONVINCE ME!).

Oooooookay! So, that was pretty much a blog post all its own, but I couldn’t let the week completely get away without blogging a belated Happy Birthday to the twinsies.

They turned 4 on Saturday, and it’s still a bit surreal to think that it was that long ago that this happened.

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(Oh man, I look tired…and they’re sooooooo TINY! And look at Nola’s double-chin!! I am suddenly very proud of how much protein I ate during that pregnancy to give a TWIN that level of chub)

Of course, they are tiny no longer.

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(Evy, left. Nola, right. This was from our homeschool co-op’s Nerds vs. Rock Stars day, and the twins were only too happy to, ahem, rock their “wock star gwasses”)

I’ve admitted here several times before the unique challenges that I’ve encountered with mothering twins–especially after they hit age 2 1/2 (up to which point they were actually considerably easier than I expected).

It’s been a constant process of adjusting and tweaking and finding new ways of implementing old tricks. Oh, and prayer. Lots and lots of prayer.

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{Nola, left. Evy, right. All the girl cousins on my side of the family, decked out in Peppa Pig gear)

On the one hand, they are some of the most joyful little creatures you’ll ever meet. Smiling and jumping and squealing with laughter. They’re suuuuper snuggly and thrive on attention and loving touch.

But all of that touchy-feely emotion definitely has its downsides, and we’ve muddled through a good 18 months of meltdowns and tantrums the likes of which I would love to say my kids never do, but–um–apparently they do.

It’s been getting steadily better for the last six months or so, but we’re still privy to an impressive display of fireworks every so often (or 4 days in a row, depending on how rested they feel).

Still, I know that the experience of parenting two very sensitive, very quintessentially female  little humans ((who are very different from their mama in this respect) has been so, so good for me.

And seeing their characters develop–their desire to help and nurture and mother (Evy) and encourage, cheer-lead, and comfort (Nola)–has been such a testimony to the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness in my children’s lives.

And mine.

Because motherhood is sanctifying. And hard is not the same thing as bad. (Can I get an amen?).

Honestly, I’m excited about year 5 for the twins. I can’t wait to see their personalities blossom and their friendship with each other (and others) deepen.

I have great confidence that he who began a good work in them (and me) will carry it out until it is completed. (Philippians 1:6).

Praise God for that!

Now, I just need to find someone to teach one how to play violin and the other one to play cello, and I’ll be all set.

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Mining for diamonds

Remember when I talked about how Evy and Nola are finally kind of living up to the “double trouble” hype now that they’re both in full-on threenager mode?

Yeah. That.

We’ve been doing a little better recently (they’re playing together in the guestroom currently with a minimum of squawking), but there were definitely moments in the last 3 weeks or so that tested my resolve not to run screaming for the hills (or the chocolate). Most of those moments involved a fair bit of screaming of their own–in toddler form. Usually while we were all imprisoned in the same car, and the complaint had something to do with the fact that said toddler(s) had asked for a banana, and I had given her one.

If you don’t have a toddler, you’re probably like…huh? If you do have one, then you’re nodding your head like, “Yup, sounds about right.”

Remember that Christina Aguilera song: “What a girl wants, what a girl needs, whatever makes you happy sets you free?” (I do, but only because my sad post 6-kids brain keeps the junk and boots out the important stuff like Bible verses and the location of my keys). Well, good ol’ Xtina had no idea she was writing about toddlers. But she was.

Except the opposite of that.

Because the joy of toddlers is that giving them what they want does NOT make them happy half the time, and doing everything to make them happy all the time only ends up imprisoning them in a cycle of entitlement and discontentment. (Come to think of it, that’s true of just about every age).

Toddler tyranny is real, y’all. And I have only to watch my 3-year-olds’ sweet, (seemingly) guileless, cherubic little faces melt into a mask of ugly, purple rage at the word, “No,” to be reminded that sin nature is real, yo. (As if I needed a reminder when I have so many mirrors in my house).

So, why the discourse on the seedy underbelly of the toddler temperament?

Because I want you to understand that I get it. I feel your toddler-angst. Sometimes way down deep into my toenails (I miiiiiight have possibly referred to one of my children as an “emotional terrorist” after the 5th consecutive day of 20 minute car tantrums that resulted in ringing ears for everyone in a 2 miles radius).

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“Don’t believe a word she says about us. We never do anything wrong. Except maybe put our shoes on backwards.” (Every. single. time)

It’s how I felt one day when I was out and about with only the twins and Theo, and I ran into the dad at Chick-fil-a whose 2-1/2-year-old twins looked angelic enough with their giant blue eyes, glossy auburn curls, and matching Texas-sized red bows.

He saw my girls and said, “Twins?” I nodded, and our eyes locked in a moment of complete understanding. And then he noticed Theo, and said, “But hey! Look at you go! You had another one! Not us. We are so done.”

I smiled and tried to decide whether I should tell him that there were 3 more before this batch. He made the decision for me when he said, “How is it with 3?”

And I said, “Good! But I actually have 3 more already.”

There was a moment of quick math, and then realization dawned all over his face, and he started shaking his head, looking a little panicked. “Six? You have six? Wow. Just wow. Oh man. No.”

I cannot emphasize enough how offended I WASN’Ty’all. Please do not read this as a gripe post because nothing could be farther from the truth.

This poor guy was clearly overwhelmed, and the thought of more than two was enough to make his eyes bug (or maybe it was the thought of 6…either way).

I smiled even wider and said, “You know, though, pretty soon, they’ll be 4, and they can buckle themselves and wipe their own bottoms–because they’re potty-trained, which is awesome. And then they’ll start helping with the dishes and telling you cool stories. And yeah. It’s really fun!” (Yes, I know. It’s not all “fun” at any age, but this guy needed to see some light).

He cocked his head, unconvinced, and said, “Well, that sounds great. I’m just ready for it to not be so hard all the time, you know? My wife stays home with them, and I just don’t know how she does it.”

As much as I appreciated his giving props to his hardworking wife, I wanted him to leave encouraged, so I said, “Yeah, I totally get. (Duuuuude. I get it) But I promise that it gets easier. I have a 9-year-old and a 7-year-old who are so great. They’re really funny and sweet, and they help around the house a ton–dishes, laundry, mopping. They even change diapers sometimes!”

The man chuckled at the thought and then looked a little worried and said: “Well, if mine are ever changing diapers, then we have a problem.”

I’m not going to lie: while I was still completely UNoffended, that last statement made me sad.

Have you ever seen this?

Three-feet-from-gold

I feel like this is a really good metaphor for children. Not just one time, either. But many times over. (Because doesn’t it feel like no sooner have you hacked your way through all of that rock and found a bit of diamond than the whole tunnel collapses on you, and you’ve got to start all over?)

There are so many times when you think, “Nope. This is too hard. I cannot deal with ___________ for even a second longer, Lord. Surely, you can’t expect me to. It’s too much.”

And you pretty much have two choices: 1) walk away (whatever that looks like: giving down to the toddler, eating the entire bag of chocolate, losing your temper and yelling just to get the emotional release) or 2) keep chipping away. Just keep persevering. Just keep pressing on. Just keep swimming (that Dory, though; quite a philosopher, that one).

I’ve done both. I’ve quit too early. And I’ve kept on plugging along. And I’ve always regretted the former and always been so thankful for the Lord’s mercy in the latter.

Because I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been absolutely convinced that the discipline is not working, that they’re just not getting it, that they will never EVER choose right on their own, and then–BOOM!–the 7-year-old is crazy-helpful in Walmart and tells you that it’s because he wants to be like Jesus, and your heart just explodes. If that’s not hitting the mother lode, y’all, I don’t know what is.

This post has nothing to do with how many children you have, so I hope you don’t get sidetracked by that. Kids can be tough, whether you have 1 or 20. But I do wish I could have had an honest conversation with that man about why he didn’t want any more children. Because, the best I could tell, his entire reasoning was that: kids equal hardship. And I don’t want that.

Don’t get me wrong, either. This guy seemed like a good egg. He was patient and kind with his daughters and sweet to his wife (at least in the brief snippet of life that I saw portrayed in a public setting). He wasn’t an ogre. He was just human with a human’s naturally shortsighted view of “suffering.”

Me too. When Nola is wailing like some sort of malfunctioning smoke alarm, all I want is for her to quit. I’m not particularly interested in learning some sort of deep spiritual lesson.

My oven broke last night. And I want it fixed. Period. I am a busy mama who does not have time for broken ovens.

But you know what? If the toddler never screamed like a banshee, then I would be infinitely less likely to throw myself on the mercies of Jesus and say, “Help me, Lord! I can’t do this on my own!” (Although it’s no less true when she’s being docile). And if my oven just kept doing its thing, I might never take a moment to be grateful for the magical contraption that usually cooks my food perfectly every time. And to pray for the mamas who don’t have anything like that luxury ever.

I think Romans 5:3-5 says it best:

“…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Hope does not put us to shame. I love that!

Of course, the truth is that I have no idea what actual suffering looks like. Compared to 95% of the world, my life is a cake walk. But I am so grateful that the Lord takes my piddly little trials and works them for good in my life, patiently chipping away at my selfishness and impatience.

And I am so grateful that the Lord sees fit to keep digging through the tunnels of my heart looking for diamonds. I know they’re there because He created me in His image.

He is so kind to this child of His. May I follow His example with my own children.

P.S. This has nothing to do with this post, but we just made a new print all about COFFEE (hey, tired, overwhelmed mamas need caffeine sometimes to keep mining for those diamonds; maybe it is related to the post).

art prints collage1See it there on the bottom right? I don’t even drink coffee, but I love it so much, I’m thinking I may just have to find a place for it in my house.

ANY orders placed by the end of today get entered to win a $15 Starbucks gift card + a Cup of Cheer print + other goodies (see more on the Paint and Prose Instagram).

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Evy and Nola are THREE!

I’ve been trying to get this post done since last week…last Thursday when the twins     actually turned three…to be exact.

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But, well, you see, there are these twins (plus four other small humans) always hanging around that seem to prefer that I feed them and read stories to them and wipe their bottoms over editing pictures and writing about them.

Totally backwards priorities, clearly.

Anyhoo, as I’ve thought about what I wanted to actually say about the twins’ newly minted status as threenagers, the entire mental dialogue has felt a bit surreal. Like: What? I have 3-year-old twins? I have 3. year. old…TWINS??!

I always wondered what life with twins was like whenever I observed mamas pushing their multiples through the grocery store, and, even now, if I spot twins out and about, I think, “WOW. That’s a special challenge. Wonder how she does it?” And then, I’m all: “Oh. Yeah. Duh.”

Mostly, it’s just my new(ish) normal. But then it strikes me again that I have twins, and I just shake my head in wonder.

So, what is having 3-year-old identical twin girls like?

Well, it’s fun. And I mean that with zero sarcasm.

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And it’s hard. And I REALLY mean that with zero sarcasm.

Up until the past 8 months or so, twins didn’t really feel that “bad.” In fact, if you read last year’s “The Twins are TWO” post, I made it sound pretty darn rosy. And it was/is. I mean, sure, when they were babies, the sheer constantness of the feedings and changings and burpings and shushings on repeat was…a lot. It just wasn’t as overwhelming for me as I always assumed it would be.

Only recently do I feel like my twins have fully lived up to their (in my mind) “twin cred.”

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How so?

Well, imagine, for a moment, one three-year-old–with all of the usual WANT it!!!/DON’T want it!!! meltdowns and picky food preferences and kamikaze attempts at independence followed instantly by death-grip clinginess…

And then add in another one with all the same ingredients for crazy but with just enough of a different personality twist to drive her twin (not mention her mama) a little insane…

And you’ve got the idea.

Don’t get me wrong: I love my girls to distraction (ha!), and there are entire days that having twins feels like a super-fun privilege. But those days are sometimes a precursor to 3 full weeks of arched back screaming fits every. single. time we get in the car to go anywhere. Fits that often take place in stereo.

And then, there are the occasional cat fights. HO.LY cow. I think some of their death matches could draw a hefty audience on Pay Per View. The screeching and the hair pulling and even the rare biting episode.

I realize that I’m making them sound downright feral, and believe-you-me, these displays of, um, spirit do not go undisciplined. But the honest-to-goodness truth is that they both have sweet natures. They’re not what I would call “wild” (although the potential is there, I think). And that’s not just a partial mama talking. They’re cheerful little girls. Ask anyone who’s met them.

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But they are typical little 3-year-old sinners (lots of ME! MINE! NO!), and the mere fact that there are two of them the exact same age, constantly jockeying for the same territory, the same lap, the same toys (never mind that there’s probably an identical toy at hand), the same CUP (for the love…while 20 others mope in dejection in the drawer) creates an environment ripe for conflict.

Case in point: at the grocery store last night, while the boys were at soccer, I had all three girls stuffed in the bottom of the basket, with Theo’s car seat clicked into the top portion. And all of them were getting along beautifully…until suddenly they weren’t–complete with hair-raising banshee shrieks and writhing and flying elbows. At just that moment, a man walked by, and, without missing a beat, offered me the case of beer he’d just bought.

Now, I’m a teetotaler, but I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if the phrase: “driven to drink,” was invented by a mother of 3-year-old twinados.

Of course, I think if I only had Nola, I might be feeling a bit at my limit for 3-year-old hormonal issues. Girlfriend is the sweetest thing you ever did see until she gets a bee in her bonnet, in which case, clear the room! Her capacity for tantrums is impressive, to say the least.

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Tantrums? ME? Never.

Evy is a bit of a different story. She’s capable of a good ol’ throw-down herself, but her rebellions are a tad more subtle, usually.

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I feel like this is a quintessentially Evy expression. Slightly mischievous. A little bit thoughtful. And a wee bit ornery.

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Evy is quite happy to go along with Nola’s bossy britches ways, until she’s not.

Of course, I feel compelled to balance all of this threenager talk out with the fact that, no sooner have the twins finished rolling around in a snarling ball of fury than they are playing primly side-by-side, chirping: “Here you doll, No-wah.” “Dank you, Eh-vy!”

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They just love each other to death. Almost literally sometimes.

And you’d better be ready with a another one for her twin if you ever hand out a treat because, inevitably, a little hand will shoot out for round two with an expectant, “And Eh-vy’s?” And off she’ll trot to deliver her sister’s loot.

And heaven help anyone who tries to separate them for long.

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So, basically 3-year-old twins are delightful.

And exhausting.

And exhilarating.

And infuriating.

But more than anything, 3-year-old twins are sanctifying.

(But that’s pretty much true of every kid, now isn’t it?)

More than anything, I’m just praying for the grace not to wish this stage of twindom away. I have to actively remind myself that this very well may be my only shot at mothering 3-year-old twins. And as much as a part of me goes: “YIP-EE!”…another part already feels nostalgic for four identical, chubby little hands, the way they both pad into our room (lately, at approximately 5:30 every morning…zzzzzz) with soft little voices chorusing: “I hongrey,” the way both of their solid little bodies feel wedged up against mine when we read on the couch in the mornings, and the way I can never, EVER kiss one without her sister demanding her fair share as well.

So far, so good.

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Twins Are Twice as Sweet 2nd Birthday Party

I wasn’t sure until maybe a week and 1/2 before the twins’ 2nd birthday party materialized a) whether we were even having a party and b) what it would be like if we did.

Last year, I planned a big outdoor shindig for their 1st birthday...

And then it rained, for like the first time in 2 months…pretty much exactly and only during the hours of their party.

So, we moved everything and everyone upstairs to our big room, which I am so grateful to have. But, I’m not going to lie: it was crowded, nothing was particularly cute (despite hours of prep for several days ahead of time), and I was borderline pouty about the whole business.

This year, I didn’t have the energy for that kind of pressure (cough, pregnant, cough), so when I finally did decide on a semi-applicable “theme”–which then meant that there needed to be a party  to accompany it–I knew I didn’t want to go big. At all.

Of course, I also wasn’t planning on going quite as small as we ended up being after two of the invited families ended up with sick kids on the day of the party. What a bummer!

The plus side? The weather was absolutely gorgeous (which only slightly lessened the grudge I’m still holding against last year’s thunderstorm) and we got to eat yummy food and play with family and friends. Which is really all that little kids (should) care about.

The boys and I had fun making no-bake treats as a supplement to our homeschooling (um, hello? fractions, measuring, reading…it’s practically a flippin’ SAT prep course!) several days in advance, and the rest I did a little at a time throughout the week (up until the ultimate all-day-long, can’t-sit-down, too-much-to-do push of the day of).

The results were pretty much what I’d hoped for: cute, simple, and–you guessed it–very sweet.

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The best part was that I already had almost everything you see on the table here (which was the only thing I decorated, so be prepared for shots from every angle). The wrapping paper I used to cover the ugly folding table…the striped bags for the favors…the party cups…the napkins. Practically all of it, I had either collected on super-clearance over time or had leftover from another party, and it felt pretty good to just toss all of it together in one big, sugartastic explosion of color!

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It’s hard to get much more on-the-nose with a “Twins are Twice as Sweet” theme than pretty glass jars full of very sweet things–in this case, chocolate-dipped pretzels, jelly beans, Lemonheads, caramels, gumballs, and homemade caramel popcorn. twinparty2

 

I had ordered a grab bag of items from Pick Your Plum months before, not having a clue what I’d get. But several cute party accessories were included–like those yellow cookie-holders. Okay, so I don’t know what they’re actually intended for, but they were the perfect size for the chocolate-dipped morsels of death by marshmallow fluff cookies that the boys and I made, so I went with it.

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Another fun item from the same PYP haul was these cupcake wrappers/embellishments. They fit perfectly in with all the bright colors and candy-related theme.

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I already had a pretty decent stash of pretty paper straws leftover from bygone parties, so I tucked them into those white laser-cut holders from the Target Dollar Spot.

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You’ve seen this chalkboard make several appearances already, including in my family command center and my fall-themed buffet reveal.

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I didn’t really do much with the chalkboard trend when it first started, but now that’s it’s been going strong for a while (and is probably petering out, honestly), I’ve been having a lot of fun playing around with different fonts and embellishments. Although I’m not much good at coming up with the pretty stuff on my own, I usually have a design in mind and am decent at hodge-podging together elements that I scrounge from Pinterest or Google searches. At least, I’m happy enough with the results. twinparty8

I borrowed the small candy jars from a sweet friend, but the large apothecary jars were my one big splurge for the party, since I knew I could use them again and again, both for future festivities and for decorating/useful purposes in between. They were 1/2 off at Hobby Lobby, but they still cost about $22 each. Honestly, though, after doing quite a bit of looking around both online and in stores, I couldn’t find a better price for something of this size and quality.

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Those little double mint cookie balls were a major labor of love (AKA: a pain in the bohonkus) but I kind of adored how cute they were when all the fussy parts were done. Oh, and they were YUM-MO! (I’ll share more about some of these treats soon).

Of course, pretty-looking treats can only serve as (forgive me) eye candy for so long…

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Eventually, they must be eaten.

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Not too surprisingly, none of the party guests complained too much about that task…

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And the birthday girls seem happy to do their part as well.

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Not that I didn’t try to do my fair share. (This is the plate I made for me and Shaun, but I was so tempted to caption it: “It’s for the baby”).

It was such an enjoyable evening right up until the moment that I crawled into bed and realized that my raging allergies from the week leading up to the party had morphed into something else entirely (evil).

But, after spending the weekend downing Echinacea and Vitamin C and taking as many naps I could cram into a 72 hour period that was already pretty full of schedule obligations, I feel a whole lot better. At the very least, I can breathe out of one nostril at a time for longer than 30 minutes. And that, my friends, is progress.

Ultimately, I’m happy that I made the effort to do something fun for the twins’ birthday, but I’m not so sure they’re getting another one until they’re at least five!

Do you guys throw a party for your kids every year? We don’t. But neither do we really have a system for when we do. Simon and Della get somewhat gypped every year because their birthdays are so close to Thanksgiving (Simon’s is actually on it this year). But we did manage to throw them a mega-bash a couple of years back. And Ezra has gotten something resembling a party every couple of years or so since he was born. I suppose some day, we’ll have to figure out something that makes it more “fair,” but, for the most part, my kids don’t seem to notice too much if one gets a party and another doesn’t. A cookie, though? Well, that’s another matter entirely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Twins are TWO!

You guys. NO lie. It seems like about a month ago that I was absolutely desperate to meet my twin girlies. They’d been riding around comfortably (they were comfy, but their poor mama sure wasn’t; turning over in bed was an 8-point, 45 second process by the end) for 39 weeks and 4 days, and I just couldn’t wait to see what they looked like, hold two armfuls of heavenly smelling baby goodness, and see if the names we’d picked out the very night  we found out it was twins would fit. (And this from the woman who begged God not to give her multiples!)

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{Evy’s on the left; Nola’s on the right}

Thing is: that wasn’t a month ago. That was 2 full. years. ago.

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{I’m not sure the girls believe it either}

That’s right. It’s been two years since I wrote about the 5-day-long process that was getting those stubborn little sweeties out of my belly.

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And if the time has flown for me, then I’m guessing you’re a bit flabbergasted too (since other people’s lives always seem to pass much more quickly than mine).

But this much I can tell you: long or short, every moment of my time with my precious girls has been a unique and unexpected blessing from the Lord.

Maybe that sounds like romanticizing things or glossing over the bad parts, but really, there haven’t been any that I can even remember. Yes, having two exactly the same age when I already have 3 has been challenging. Yes, it’s a pain to go places in public. Yes, screeching (even the happy kind) in stereo is really, really obnoxious. And, yes, yes, YES 2-year-old tantrums X 2 are as nerve-shredding as they sound.

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{Tantrums? US?? NEVER}

BUT. Challenging does not = bad. And, in the case of my girls, it has meant quite the opposite. Jesus, in His mercy, has used these blue-eyed, smiley little miracles to grow my patience (this is a never-ending process), deepen my love for all of my children, and give me a peace about His will like I’ve never had before.

All of my children have slept through the night from an early age, including the twins, but before them, it was something that I stressed about. As bedtime neared, I would feel anxiety rising in my throat, even after they had established a pattern of sleeping through the night.

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What if my baby didn’t sleep well? What if I had to face the next day sleep-deprived and cranky? What if…? I mean, really, what’s the worst that could happen? I napped when they did instead of getting something done? Big whoop. (That sounds like my idea of fun these days).

Except that hormones speak so much more loudly than logic when you’re a young, new mom, and you’ve just birthed a helpless little human. A tiny tyrant from whom you’re more than a little desperate to escape for more than 2 hours at a time. And yet to whom you are completely enslaved by the bonds of love.

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But with the twins, I expected to get no sleep. To be nothing more than a glorified milk factory. To be exhausted and hollow-eyed. To completely lose my sense of self in the care of not one but two tyrannically helpless humans.

And you know what? In that complete surrender of any expectations for normalcy, I found so much joy in serving my daughters. I didn’t dread nighttime like I had before. And even when, on the bad nights at the beginning, I alternated between feeding them one at a time on the hour every hour, I still felt complete and total peace that, “This too shall pass. We’re going to be just fine.”

And let me just say, y’all, that this is not bragging but instead boasting in the Lord because not one ounce of that peace came from anything that my personality is naturally inclined to do.

It was a lavish example of God’s grace on me during a daunting, uncharted period of motherhood for me.

I can honestly say that, not only is having twins not nearly as “bad” as it sounds (in terms of difficulty), but it’s about a million (trillion?) times better than anything I could have dreamed up.

I halfway expect for #6 to come out and me to say: “Where’s the other one?” (Which, I suppose, would be fitting in some ways). I’m not so sure I’ll know what to do with just one baby!

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{Sometimes, it sounds like three cats trying to fight their way out of a paper bag when the girls are all playing upstairs. But then, there are moments like these}

We’re having a little “Twins are twice as sweet” themed birthday party for the girls tomorrow, and that phrase pretty much sums up the last 2 years for us. I love all of my children fiercely, but I am just so stinkin’ grateful to have the unique opportunity to watch these two grow up side-by-side, so different in their personalities…

f     twins6

{Evy, the (Over)Thinker}

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{Nola, the Social Butterfly}

…but both so connected and equally cherished.

twins shoes

So…Happy Birthday, Evy and Nola!

You have given this Mama’s life a double-shot of sweetness, and I am so thankful God saw fit to make you mine.

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The Twins are 18-months-old!

Two things:

1) Thank y’all so much for your sweet comments on Monday’s shelf post. I’m glad you guys thought it was as awesome as I did. But darn you all for wanting a tutorial! Just kidding. I did want to say, though, that I will do my best, but since my husband made it all sneaky-like, I won’t have much in the way of pictures, so be prepared to try to understand my convoluted written directions.

and

2) GOTCHA! I can definitely say that Tuesday (April Fool’s) was one of my most enjoyable blogging days to date. As the, “I totally fell for it!” comments came rolling in, I was practically chortling (just used that one in Words With Friends, so it’s fresh in my mind) with glee. I just love the fact that I received a concerned text from a friend because she hadn’t had a chance to read all the way to the end of the post. And then there were the obviously-didn’t-actually-read-it shares on FB that  went something like: “See?? I KNEW it. STOP THE OIL PULLING.” Snort. I even fooled my pastor, y’all. That was fun. Of course, now you’re expecting it, and I think it was the very fact that I’ve never done a post like that before that made it so believable, so I’ll probably never do another one (or will I?….muahahaha).

Anyhoo, thanks for playing along and being such good sports with my little prank. Y’all are rad.

In other news, last night, I watched Nola sitting in a big person chair eating Lil’ Smokies out of a big person bowl, simultaneously all nonchalant and, “Hey, look at me and bad self” and wondered when my baby morphed into a little girl.

At one point, she almost knocked the bowl off the table but stopped it and pushed it back from the edge and then resumed eating with even greater nonchalance and bad-selfness. And I almost shed a little tear for the fact that my “twinnies” (Della’s word for them) are babies no longer.

*Sob*

In fact, at 18 months (as of the 24th of March), I’d say they’re officially toddlers. And, although I am at a complete loss as to how I ended up with identical twin toddler girls when I am absolutely certain that they were tiny and bald and utterly helpless, like, yesterday, it doesn’t change the fact that I’ve got a couple of awfully cute little girls (babies, no more) on my hands.

Here’s proof:

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{Evy, pink; Nola, blue}

You may recognize this bridge from my Sisters post. Not only do I like the look of it, it’s basically in the back yard, so to speak, of the gym where I work, which makes it awfully convenient as photo shoot locales go.

All of these shots were taken in a whopping five minutes, both because the girls tend to yank any bows or clips out of their hair in much less time than that and also because, well, they’re two 18-month-old toddlers. Photo sessions lasting longer than 5 minutes are met with much resistance (aka: weeping and gnashing of teeth + elaborate escape attempts). Plus, I had to go teach class right after we took these pics.

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Even so, I managed to snag a few cute ones, although I’m pretty sure this may be the only one where they’re both facing me (although not both looking; that would be asking too much, apparently).

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{That random black thingy by Evy’s feet? Yeah, I didn’t notice it until we were almost done}

I think I just happened to catch Nola in this pose, but she might actually be admiring/showing off her adorable Joyfolie shoes (which I received at a steeep discount for a review way back before the twins were even born). Both the twins are shoe-obsessed and will find random pairs in all shapes and sizes around the house and bring them to you and thrust a foot out with plaintive little, “Schoooo, schooooo?” requests.

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{Their dresses were a recent clearance buy from Old Navy, by the way}

For some reason, I really love this next one. They’re both just focused and in their own little adventuring world.

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Sometimes, that’s pretty accurate, but they’re usually a bit clingier than that. Or at least one is at a time. They trade off. Fortunately, although they’re Mama’s girls (which I love), they’re also content to be carried by/played with/fussed over by their big brothers and sister, all of whom happily oblige.

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“You coming, Evy? Oh, and quit making that face, or it might freeze like that, and I would totally be the prettier one for keeps.”

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“See? Toldja.”

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Honestly, they are pretty much the best babies toddlers (choke) imaginable. They sleep all night (in the same crib) and never make a peep at bedtime (probably because they can’t wait to get in bed and whisper secrets). They also take awesome naps during the day and wake up happy and jabbery.

They eat well (Nola, especially; I think she’s just trying to maintain that pound-ish lead she’s always had on her sister), play really well much of the time, have the sunshiniest personalities, and are very liberal with their kisses.

But for all their similarities, they are also vastly different. I’ve mentioned a few of their distinctions before, but most notable is Evy’s tendency to close her mouth primly and emote with her eyebrows and eyes, whereas Nola’s mouth is almost always open (usually because she’s shoveling food in it), and she is prone to gesticulate wildly and bounce around in her seat. Their voices, too, have become different enough that unless both are crying at the same time, I can tell who is who even from another room. Evy LOOOOOOOOVES to “draw” (I have to really stay on top of her because she seems to have a radar for markers and pencils), and Nola is big into baby dolls (she walks around most of the time with one tucked under her arm). 

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Mostly, though, they are both just huge blessings in our lives. I know I’ve said it many times before, but I will say it again: I was so shortsighted for thinking I didn’t want something just because I knew nothing about it, and it sounded hard, and I’m so glad the Lord paid me no mind. Hard, it is, sometimes, but it’s always so, so worth it.

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Twins: A Year in Review

Confession: I’ve been an absolutely no-good, awful, downright pathetic blogger this week.

Why?

Because the twins turned 1-year-old on Tuesday, and I didn’t make a single peep about it here. Or much of anywhere else, unless you count this grainy pic I tossed up on Instagram and Facebook.

twins sick birthday

I’m actually pretty embarrassed.

But here’s the thing: they were under the weather earlier this week (they’re better now), and both had fevers on their actual birthday. Believe me, if it sounds sad for a 1-year-old to be sick on her birthday, it truly is doubly sad when it’s twins (double your pleasure…double your pain). And I didn’t do much blogging that day for obvious reasons. Hence: no fanfare whatsoever for quite a momentous landmark.

I mean…seriously. 1 year ago, I gave birth to TWINS. At home. With no pain meds. (And it was my best birth yet).

twins newborn pic

(Ack! They’re so tiny. It makes my heart squeeeeeze)

And then I figured out how to feed both of them (they’re still nursing in case you’re just dying to know).

And I got kind of used to this:

twins screaming

We even managed to all get dressed at once and take pictures of it (I’m not going to say the process didn’t involve a mild nervous breakdown…or three).

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They got cuter…

twins sleeper cuteness

(and quite advanced…see Nola waving hi?)

…and cuter…

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And I got pretty darn good at holding them both at the same time.

twins held together

And then I mastered the art of grocery shopping with twins in my basket and a 7-year-old pushing another cart into my ankles behind me. And I got new crow’s feet and a slight crick in my neck from smiling and nodding at the 478 occurrences of, “You have your hands full,” and, “Bless your heart,” every time we went anywhere in public.

twins shopping

And they just kept growing…

twins 4 months

And Growing…

TWINS SIX MONTHS

…and GROWING!

twins 9 months

They even tried their hands at a little blogging:

twins blogging

And you know what?

The process—this whole keeping-twins+3-other-kids-alive-for-a-whole-year business—it’s been amazing. Yes, some days are crazy hard. Or at least as hard as they can be for a mama with a grocery store 15 minutes away (they sell chocolate, after all), a supportive husband, a mama who takes her three oldest for a day every single weekend (oh yes, she does), and some of the sweetest kids on the planet. But mostly, it’s fantastic. I kind of want to make a t-shirt that says: “Everybody needs a set of twins. They make life more fun. (And harder too).” But that’s a bit longwinded for a t-shirt design, and I think anyone who hasn’t experienced it might think I was nuts (not that they’d be wrong). So, I guess I’ll just restrain myself to blabbering about it here to you guys. Because a whole lot of y’all have been here from the beginning, and I think you know what I mean.

To say that God has been gracious to our family is to that say that the sun is bright. It’s such a vague, weak little facsimile of the truth. As hectic and wild as much of this year has been, I don’t think I’ve ever felt more aware of His abundant blessing and love for me, a girl who doesn’t deserve a shred of it and who fails more times than she can count, every. single. day.

Praise God that his mercies are new every morning!

I don’t know what the future holds, but this I can tell you:

Today is very good indeed.

twins birthday dresses

{I dressed my poor little feverish girls up in their birthday duds and took a—very fuzzy—picture for posterity. Some of them came out better than this, but I just love their long-suffering expressions here. They do a good job of humoring their goofy mama}.

And now I’m off to craft some various something-or-others for their party tomorrow and make a cake that I’m not entirely sure is even going to work out (but I guarantee it’ll taste good).

There’s no linky party today (sorry, guys!), but I hope you all have an absolutely LOVELY weekend!

Pssst…I’ll probably be posting sneak peaks of the party details all weekend on Instagram if you want to follow along.

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Try-it Tuesday: EASY Ribbon Bow Headband

First up, thanks so much for all your suggestions on yesterday’s Twin Birthday Inspiration post. Y’all had some awesome ideas!

Speaking of the twins…

I was about to claim that I love getting my girls dressed up in froofy outfits as much as the next mama. But it’s just not true. While I do enjoy dressing my little princesses up every now and then, all I have to do is look right and left at the grocery store to see that I’m way behind the curve in the baby accessorizing department.

So much so that Liz, a sweet nursery worker at our gym, bought the twins hair bows because they always show up bowless and shoeless.

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{But they match! Surely that counts for something}

I’ve already talked about my aversion to the head-swallowing bow trend so prevalent here in Texas. I think it’s cute enough on other people’s kiddos (although, I’m not gonna lie—when it’s a newborn who looks like she’s about to buckle under the mountain of tulle and ribbon on her head, I’m definitely not a fan). But I prefer smaller embellishments for my own girls.

Which is why I really love today’s headband. I’m calling it the…

 headbandswatermarked

Here’s what you’ll need to make some of your own:

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    • Hot glue gun/glue
    • Scissors
    • Ribbon (two coordinating colors/patterns in smaller/larger size)
    • 1/8” elastic

{See? Easy!}

::STEP 1::

Cut a length of the thicker ribbon, keeping in mind that you will be folding it in half. I didn’t measure, but I started with somewhere around 3-4”.

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::STEP 2::

Fold the ends of the ribbon back until they just barely overlap and the underside of the ribbon is completely hidden. Then secure the folded over ends with a dab of hot glue.

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::STEP 3::

Take your thinner ribbon and secure it in the center of your folded over ribbon with another bead of hot glue.

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Wrap it all the way around the center, tightening a little to create a slightly “cinched in” look for the center. Then, glue it in place and trim the end with your scissors.

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At this point, you’ll have this:

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::STEP 4::

Measure your little cutie’s head and cut a length of 1/8” elastic to size. Then—yup, you guessed it—attach it to your bow with yet another dab of hot glue.

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::STEP 5::

Slap the world’s easiest-to-make bow headband on a baby (or two, if you’ve got another one handy).

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Marvel at their happy adorableness for the .02 seconds it lasts.

After which time, you’ll have this:

unhappy twins collage

(I made these originally for the twins to wear at Shae’s wedding, and they did happily. But they’ve only worn them once since, and apparently, when you rarely put headband on your babies, they don’t care for it much when you do it for photo shoots).

I think the best thing about these headbands is that, yes, they’re super-simple, but you have endless options to fancy them up a bit.  You could add a bit of sparkle with glitter or rhinestones (as long as your baby is not of the headband-gnawing persuasion), layer different patterns of ribbon in thinner sizes, or even glue little flowers or butterflies to the top (again, careful with any add-ons that your baby could choke on). Also, they work well with practically any kind of ribbon. I used grosgrain and a silky ruffled ribbon mostly, but I could see these working great with satin or even velvet.

Now, if only I could remember to put them on the twins before we leave the house…

Ah well. Can’t win them all.

But, considering that these headbands take all of 5 minutes to make, I’m going to call it a win, even if they only end up on a baby-noggin once a month.

What about you guys? Are you good at accessorizing your munchkins? Or are you good to go if they have a fresh recently changed diaper and semi-unstained clothes on? (Totally guilty of this one, most days).

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Move-it Monday: Twin 1st Birthday Party Inspiration

In less than one month, Evy and Nola will be 1-year-old. Are you shocked? Because I’m not. I’m something a little closer to completely-blown-away-and-in-utter-denial. How in the name of ridiculously small newborn diapers and night-time feedings has it already almost been one full year since this happened?

How in the world did they get from this:

birth pics

to this?:

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I don’t know. Because I’m pretty sure they were doing their best impressions of (adorable) sleeping little sluglettes only yesterday. And now, they’re crawling and teething and standing up (Evy is doing some really awesome “surfing” these days) and babbling and saying their brothers’ names (I’m trying not to take it too personally that Nola decided to say “Ezra” before she even gave “Mama” a fair shake).

So, with all this almost-oneness comes the looming prospect of a 1st birthday party TIMES TWO!

I’ve been plumbing the shallows depths of my mama brain to come up with a completely original, totally great, kid-friendly, fantastically awesome Twin Party.

In other words, I’ve been on Pinterest. (You can find me here).

And here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

bloomers

{via}

Love the bloomers and the balloons (actually, everything in the shot is absolutely gorgeous!).

This invitation is pretty stinkin’ adorable too.

twice the fun invitation 

{via}

As is this one:

owl birthday invite

{via}

Owls seemed to be a common twin theme, although I don’t think there’s any explanation for that (in my brief Google “research,” I didn’t turn up any support for owls being born in pairs). But, while I think this invitation is crazy-cute, and I’m a fan of all the owl-dorableness (groan), my trend-bucking tendencies pretty much won’t allow me to do something that’s so popular right now.

Speaking of been there, done that…

thing one thing 2

{via}

Yup. Not too surprisingly, Thing 1/Thing 2 was the most common twin-themed party idea in all of Pinterest-land.

Oddly enough, I didn’t see a single entry for these guys:

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Okay, so maybe it’s not so odd. After all, who wants to throw their darling babies a party based around a pair of dour, bowling-ball-shaped brothers? I mean, even if you are into dressing up your little ones in primary colors, flag-topped beanies, and floppy collars + bow-ties, your twins are going to be too busy being grumpy about the atomic wedgies they get from those red, armpit-level pants to enjoy their cake. Plus, how do you decide which one has the misfortune of being Tweedle-DUM?

So…obviously, I’ve mostly managed to figure out what I DON’T want to do.

Of course, I could always just go with my husband’s suggestion and make this little cutie our 1st birthday mascot.

Armadillo[1]

 

According to him (and, again, Google) armadillos are the only mammal who gives birth to identical quadruplets…every single time. (Poor Mama Armadillo).

While that’s super-interesting and all, I took it upon myself to remind him that armadillos are gross and that we don’t have identical quadruplets. Also, armadillos are gross.

Then again, I think I know what the cake would look like:

armadillo cake

{via}

And then our signature party colors could be “blush and bashful.”

That’s it. Our party theme is SET. It’s going to be epic.

Ahem.

So, I do like the idea of customized birthday onesies. These are cute:

twin onesies

{via}

And I think my favorite idea so far is to avoid a specific theme altogether in favor of a general theme of the “Two are better than one,” verse from Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 that I wrote on the little chalkboard in their room.

So, here’s where you come in. I’ve got some ideas already, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on things that are better in pairs (or, at the very least, come in pairs…and don’t look like armadillos).

Just leave me a comment with your suggestion, and then, when I do a party post, you’ll see which ones I ended up using! Thanks ahead of time for your help!

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Trying to believe it Tuesday: The Twins are 9-Months-Old!!

Somehow, some way, although I cannot begin to fathom exactly how it came to pass, it’s been 9 whole months since I gave birth to—in my humble and completely unbiased opinion—the world’s most adorable, cheek-squeezingly winsome identical twin girls. EVER.

9 months.

Three-quarters of a year.

75% of the time it takes for the earth to completely orbit the sun.

My mind is blown.

I’m not particularly sentimental. In fact, one of the ways that this blog helps me is by reminding me to document important (or sometimes trivial) moments in my children’s lives that would otherwise be lost forever by my tendency to let them slip by unnoticed and unrecorded.

But as I was carrying the twins down the stairs this morning, an abrupt wave of sadness washed over me at the thought that they won’t be babies much longer and that I will likely never again have the privilege of watching two little halves of one person grow and develop like I’m doing now. And, yes, I know that sounds like a challenge to God (Twins: Part II, coming right up, Abbie), and it’s not a sensation I often experience.

But the girls are at such a fun stage—learning, growing, interacting—with such a genuine love for people—especially their family—that it’s hard not to mourn the fast-approaching day when their eyes will no longer dance and sparkle simply at the the sight of their mama coming through their nursery door in the morning. It makes my stomach clench a little to think of the day when they won’t clamp my sides with their little feet when I hold them, even curling their toes a bit to get a better grip.

Not that I have any business worrying about tomorrow. Or that it does any good. Which is why I decided to take another round of pictures and dwell a little on all of the delightful things the twins are doing today. Things like:

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I shot these pictures earlier this morning when it was the kind of humid that makes each inhalation feel like you’re drinking your air rather than breathing it, and I didn’t realize that my lens had fogged over until I’d already done a whole round of shots…which is a real bummer since this little gem of Evy came out a little hazy.

But I still love her expression here. This is quintessential Evangeline. Pixie-ish and a wee bit shy, but always with a glint of fun behind her eyes.

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And then there’s Nola. Or Big Nola as we call her on the days when we don’t worry too much about how many quarters we should be adding to our Future Therapy Bills Piggy Bank.

nola9months

Nola is an open-mouthed, whole-bodied smiler and is currently the more Mama-obsessed of the two. It’s really sweet. And kind of a pain. All you mamas with children who have fixations on you know what I mean, I’m guessing.twins1

They’re starting to interact more and more (especially if by interact, I mean, “Oh, look at that toy she’s holding; I think I’ll take it. And maybe pull her hair while I’m at it”).

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I live in the South: AKA the land of head-swallowing little girl hair ornaments, but I never really got into the whole bow-bigger-than-your-noggin trend. Which is probably why I get asked a lot if the girls are, in fact, boys. As they bat their long, girly lashes. While riding in their pink, floral car seats. And wearing dresses.

Face palm. 

Maybe I should have them wear their ginormous flowers more often.

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{Not a bagboy in the land who would mistake them for boys in that getup}

The twins don’t have particularly big feet, and I’m definitely thinking they missed out on their Mama’s (and Softa’s) sasquatch genes. But those adorable metallic bow sandals? They’re an Old Navy size 0-3 month, y’all. Yes, you read that right. 0-3 months. That’s messed up.

twins2   

Oh, and as a further illustration of their personalities, this is what happened when I told them we were about ready to wrap up taking pictures.

twinsopera 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go squeeze some cheeks.

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