April 30, 2012

April Showers

What else would one do, on the last day of April, but play in the puddles of an April shower?
The twins recently acquired rain gear.  The boots they have had forever (I made a mental note to catch the fall sales last year and got them for a great price, but it meant the twins have been looking at them and begging to wear them ALL winter).  The coats, however, are new.  And the twins have been itching to wear them in real rain. 
 There have been a couple of acceptable rains (i.e. no lightning), but I felt it was still too cold.  Tonight, however, I knew that we were going to go straight inside to a warm shower (and that I had an empty washing machine in which we could throw their wet clothes as we passed by).  So I let them splash - while I stood in the street, under an umbrella, taking pictures.

 Now, the twins are NEVER allowed this close to the street (we have a line in the driveway they are not allowed to cross), so they were hesitant...and hopeful, since the end of the driveway had the big puddles.  I told them this was a special occasion, and that I would allow them that close to get to the big puddles only because I was standing in the street to make sure they would be safe (our street is not busy).  This forbidden treat definitely pushed the experience up a bit on the adventure scale.

 My 2 disappointments are that 1) the hood on Ryan's coat is WAY too small...like infant small, and it makes his coat ride up and doesn't cover his head.  The thing that frustrates me the most about this was that I saw the most adorable Cars rain hats at Wal Mart the other day and thought, "Ryan would love that, but I can't justify buying it when he can just put up the hood on his coat."  Grr....  2) I had my camera on the complete wrong setting.  I couldn't figure out why the pictures were turning out over-exposed, but in all the fun never thought to check all my settings... 
 My disappointments in no way detracted from the fun.
They splashed and ran and jumped and laughed until they were soaked clear through.  And then I announced it was time to head in...after one last jump...

My favorite quote from the evening?
Allie: "The rain tickles me and makes me grow - just like a flower."

April 22, 2012

Adventures in Art

I mentioned in the previous post that we had another adventure in the afternoon. I started a project with the twins that had been bouncing around in my brain for a while. Actually, since this post almost a year and a half ago! Lucas had let the twins color on the wall because he didn't want to squash their artistic expression, and while I wasn't thrilled that their art was all over my walls, floor, and even a few doors it sort of stuck with me. Suddenly I remembered this hallway/stairway at the school where I went for most of my elementary years. Every year, the seniors (in art class? I'm not sure the qualification) got to collectively paint a mural. Because it was in the high school portion of the school, and therefor a place we rarely traveled, it seemed an exotic and magical place. I remember catching glimpses of seniors painting, looking at every detail, and dreaming about the day when I would get to paint on the wall. Of course, I was at a different school by the time I was a senior, so that never happened. But there has always been a secret desire in me to paint on walls.

So I looked at the walls in the basement, a good portion in the main room being cement (which we would probably never hang any artwork on anyways). And I thought about how a simple coat of paint would make the room neutral once again should we ever want to sell. And I thought about how much my children (and I!) would enjoy painting on the wall. And I started to plan.

The last few months I started to really have a desire to put the plan into motion. To just let them paint. So, I've been on the lookout for inexpensive paint to start our project. A fortuitous trip to Lowe's and a stop at their discount paint provided the perfect start. A quart of paint in a beautiful blue. Even better? It was the special (expensive) No VOC, paint and it was only $3! I bought it, and then I got the twins ready to paint as soon as we were home. They were as excited as I was!
The beginning of our mural. 2 very different styles.
Soon they began to spread out and fill the white space.

Allie decided 1 brush wasn't enough to paint everything she wanted to paint.
Soon after, she decided that she needed to be more "hands on" with her artwork.
Ryan thought that was brilliant and joined in.
And it wasn't long before they were painting more of themselves than the wall...at which point I called it quits!
I love it. I really do. They are so excited about their artwork and showing it off. I love finally having color on the wall. Lucas wants us to add to the "mural" as well. And I found more paint in our furnace room for us to add more colors and layers soon! I, of course, had a talk with them before and after about how we don't paint on any other walls (unless I say...because I have other walls in mind...), and hopefully that sticks. But I feel happy to have provided them with the opportunity to live out my childhood artistic dream :)

April 21, 2012

Spontaneous Adventures

I broke my glasses the other day. Well, I didn't really break them. They pretty much just randomly fell apart. That's what I get for choosing cheap glasses... The good news is I have vision coverage, and I found a great new eye doctor, and I got new glasses that are uber-durable. They came in the other day, and so Lucas and I planned a morning trip to pick them up. We figured we would make it an adventure and take the kids to McDonalds (to play on their favorite playplace). Then, as we were getting ready to leave we thought it might be a nice day to visit the zoo. So we decided to extend our adventure. Then we thought it might be nice to meet up with someone. So we sent a few texts and our friends ended up being able to meet us there!
L watching the lemurs.
We watched these tigers as tiny cubs on webcam! They were excited to see them in person.
Look, mom! He's sleeping!
The zoo was busy (lots of Earth Day field trips), so we sort of went wherever the crowds were not. We really love this zoo because it is so easy to see all (or most) of it in a morning, and have a relaxing time doing so. They also have recently built and are in the process of adding new exhibits.
A new addition since our last trip - the black rhino!
Their peacocks are always wandering around. I seem to have startled this one while trying to pass it on the sidewalk (I think it might have been my blue coat - he thought I was one of them?). The result was a gorgeous display, but he was clearly ticked. This was made worse by the fact that there were tons of school children nearby who had no clue they should stay away and were petting his outstretched feathers...
He stood in my way on the sidewalk (guarding his territory from me, I assume), and I was blocked by a wall of excited kids and adults on the other, so I got separated from our group. Here is a picture of the twins (watching the peacock from a safe distance) through his feathers as I (unsuccessfully) tried to sneak by.
I finally escaped. The peacock settled down. And we went on our way.
Checking out the ostrich.

Notice how they are holding hands? It was tricky to stay on the ledge, so Allie got up and got steady and then helped Ryan up shouting, "We will work together!" Too bad the otters weren't in the display after all that teamwork...
Watching the resting arctic foxes.
We left the zoo and went to our friend's house (they live about 5 minutes from the zoo) for lunch. It was such a fun morning, and, as we were heading home, Allie dubbed our time "The Morning of 3 Adventures." McDonalds, the Zoo, and a visit to our friend's house. We ended up having another spontaneous adventure after getting home, but that is a story for another time. Hooray for spontaneous adventures and friends that join us for them!

April 18, 2012


Out of all of the sports/activities for kids, there are only 2 I feel really adamant about the twins doing. One is piano lessons and the other is TaeKwon-do. I started reading about it a few years before the twins were born - a bit on a whim. I loved the way it focused on more than just physical fitness or even self defense, but also on things like balance, concentration, safety, responsibility, and character. It sounded like an amazing foundation for anything. So, you can imagine how thrilled I was when my friend contacted me to let me know that there was going to be a preschool class offered locally for a bargain price! I immediately signed us up!

Last night they had their first class. It was more of a meet and greet/introduction, but the twins really had so much fun!
Although it was only a short while before she was wanting to jump in, it took a while to get Allie away from the bugs. She was fascinated.
They played several games - duck, duck, goose (my kids' first time ever...it took a little while for them to get the idea), Sah Boo Says (Simon Says), and Frogs and Flies (seen below - while everyone closed their eyes, the instructor would tap someone to be the frog. That person would then stick their tongue out and knock down the "flies" while a "fly catcher" tried to figure out who was the frog).
Eyes closed!
She had been holding her tongue out for several rounds, so it was great when she finally was the frog!
Ryan was such a powerful frog, he knocked himself down!
The twins' favorite thing was when they got to practice kicking!

At the end, the older kids did a demonstration of the things they know at their levels. When we got home, the twins showed me their interpretation of the demonstrations. Adorable. They are so excited, and I am too! It will be even better when they get their uniforms!

April 17, 2012

Adoption Update

I suppose it is good time for an update on the adoption front.

The great news is that we completed our home study! Yay! It took us so much longer than I anticipated. When we had our first orientation call she said that it takes families 3-6 months to complete the home study. I thought, "Oh, well, we will do it in 2.5 then." Wrong. It took us almost 6 months exactly! But it is finished, and approved, and sent in!

The next step is to submit our application to USCIS. We have everything set. We are just waiting to hear back from our social worker that our form looks correct (to save us time rather than sending in an incorrect form and having them contact us to tell us to refile, etc.), and then we are done! We are hoping to send that in the next day or so. And then we wait. Not forever. At some point before CIS gives us the approval to move forward we get to go and have official fingerprints taken. And I assume we will finish getting together the items for our Dossier so that will be all set once the approval comes. But after the frenzy of appointments, seminars, and paperwork of the home study, I already feel like I'm twiddling my thumbs...

What better to do during this time then work on fundraising! Every time, during the home study, that I would find the process taking longer than I expected (or a week would be lost due to sick kids that required my attention and energy), I would find myself thinking, "It's ok. This is just more time we have to save money." Because, as I've mentioned, it costs a lot. And I sometimes begin to get overwhelmed with the cost. I find myself wondering where the money will come from and worrying about how it will all come together. But then a gentle voice inside my head reminds me that if God calls, He will provide. He has provided so much already. I know He won't just leave us hanging at the very end. It's just hard to remember that when I'm staring at numbers on a sheet of paper...and hoping if I stare long enough they might change to $0 :)

One of the ways God has provided is through many generous people. Through the donations for our yard sales last summer (We will be having more sales this summer...at least 2...partly because we had so many donations I have 2 closets stacked full of bins!). Through gifts - even as little as $5. Through donated airline miles. Every bit has been a blessing. One person that God has recently provided is my friend Marcy. I've known her since college (we lived in the same dorm freshman year). She is a 31 consultant, and when she saw on facebook that we were adopting, she immediately messaged me and said she wanted to do a fundraiser for us. In the midst of home study madness, I asked that she wait until we were finished so I could focus better and suggested April. April 1st she contacted me to get things set up! Now, if you don't know how a 31 fundraiser works, it goes like this: the 31 consultant donates their commission to the cause. This wonderful friend is going to all this work to put this together and travel to my house (she lives in northern Ohio) just to donate whatever profit she would receive to help us adopt. I really feel blessed to know such wonderful people.

Of course, for her to have anything to donate, people have to actually buy 31 products, and here is where the plug comes in (I know, I hear the groan. I feel badly that it always seems like I'm plugging a fundraiser. So if you will feel pressured to buy in any way, just stop reading! Then you won't have the info and you don't have to feel pressured!). This Saturday (the 21st) we are having an Open House at my house from 5-9. If you are around (which, lets face it, if you are one of the friends or family members who read the blog, you do so because you live far away!) stop by! If you can't make it or live far away (which is more likely), you can shop online and have it go to the cause. Just click THIS LINK and it will take you Marcy's 31 website. Then go to "My Events" (its the second thing listed under her profile picture and contact info). You will see several events, one being "Miller Adoption Fundraiser Open House." Click on the "Shop Now" button and your order will be included! The fundraiser closes April 23rd...so there is a little less than a week to get the order in. And, if you aren't big on 31 products, or don't have the money to spend right now (which I understand), but have a friend or two who love 31 products, maybe direct them to Marcy's website and our event?

And in case you are wondering, the big milestone in our adoption adventure will be receiving our approval from USCIS to most forward! I will definitely keep you posted and let you know when that exciting event happens :)

April 13, 2012

Fire Safety Day!

A few weeks ago (or a month) we visited the fire station with the moms group. I think I forgot to post about that. Fail.
Well, they watched a video that suggested that we should be doing fire drills at home. At first I thought, "Really? At this age I'm trying to keep them confined, not teaching them all the ways to get out." But, the more I thought about it, the more I started to think it was a good idea. What if I was injured, or couldn't get to them, or the furnace (which sits under our bedroom) exploded? My children had the best chance of survival if they knew what to do. Then we attended a fire safety dinner that, quite frankly, scared the bejeebers out of me and I decided that we needed to have a fire safety day right away...as in the next day.
Hooray! It's Fire Safety Day!
You know me and theme days. I love them! I wish I would have had more time to put some things together. I would have reserved books and materials from the library, collected some fun items, maybe done some shopping and purchased things (like fire blankets, which I'm currently convinced I need). But I pulled together what I could.
We started after their morning quiet time with snacks and a few kid-friendly fire safety videos from youtube!
From the videos I wanted 3 things: 1) pictures of firemen in full gear. I had heard it could be scary for little kids to see them like that and many hid. I wanted my kids to know it was helpful firemen inside! 2) both real and cartoon kids acting out the steps I was going to teach them 3) a catchphrase or two I could use for later training to connect it all.

After videos we began practicing our fire drill.
They started in bed, pretending they were asleep.

I would push the test button of the smoke detector in their room and they would jump to action!

Test the doorknob with the back of the hand to see if it's hot.
For the most part, we practiced what to do if the doorknob wasn't hot (as you will see below). Why? Well, because we keep our windows locked, and even with a step-stool I couldn't get them tall enough to unlock them. And if they could unlock them, our windows are heavy, and they wouldn't be sturdy enough on the step stool to get the leverage they need to open it. And if they did open it, we have screens on the window that are tricky to pop out. And that would require such herculean effort that they would probably be too tired to get out. But they needed an option if the doorknob was too hot, right? Well, we practiced that too (with a heating pad to warm up the doorknob and everything!). I taught them to jam their blanket under the door to stop the smoke, and beat on the window yelling, "We're in here!" until someone came. Not the best solution, but better than nothing, and the best I have until they are a little bigger...
Stay low and go, go, go!
The biggest thing was teaching them to open the front door. It's heavy, and it sticks. Sometimes it's even a little tricky for me to get open. But I taught them how to push with one hand against the wall while pulling the door handle, and we practiced a million times, so I think they have it!
Hold the door for each other - I taught them to work together.
Run to our meeting spot!
Hold onto the tree. Stay there until mommy and daddy come. Don't go back into the house for anything!
They loved it. They are at the age where they love to repeat something over and over - which was perfect! I know the number of times we repeated was well into the double digits! I finally convinced them we should practice something else, so we switched to stop, drop, and roll!
In the afternoon we made cookies for our local firefighters. The twins just happened to paint a couple dozen card-sized, watercolor paintings yesterday, so we turned them into cards! I taught them to say, "Thank you for being heroes," and we took them in. It was so cute!
The firemen were wonderful. They talked to the twins about what they learned, showed them the firetrucks and ambulances, let them see their gear, and then gave them fire hats! I wanted to at least get a picture of the twins with the main fireman we spent time with, but I forgot both my camera and my phone! Fail! We also went to the library to pick out the 1 fire safety related book they have there.
By the end of the day, they were getting a little silly...

Hopefully, we never have to use the things we practiced today, but at least I feel more confident in my children's ability to stay safe if there was a fire. They might not remember everything, but between the 2 of them, I'm sure they could do a pretty good job :) Next on the emergency preparedness list...tornado drills? We are entering that season...

April 11, 2012

Easter for the Twinners

I figured our Easter posts would end with the Twinners since, let's face it, they are the main attraction. They have been so excited about "Easter time" - as they called it - arriving. Mostly because I was in charge of the church Easter Egg hunt and they saw the plastic eggs and bags of candy every day for about a week (yes, I hid them...they kept finding the spots...). For them, Easter meant candy. And since they had JUST eaten the last of the Valentine's candy earlier in the week, this was big.

I'm going to start earlier in the week because this year I really wanted to start telling the twins what Easter was about. On Thursday, our church always does a Maundy Thursday service. Every day, we talk about Jesus' love and showing it to others. So, I asked them if they knew why this day was special, and then told them it was because this day Jesus had his last meal with his best friends. He told them He was going to have to leave them, and wouldn't be there to show everyone His love in person. He gave them a new commandment (or mandate...where the word Maundy comes from) to love everyone like He had loved them. I told them that is why it is so important for us to show people Jesus' love. He asked us to especially because He can't physically be here to love them Himself.

On Friday, we missed the Good Friday service because I had to take them to the pediatrician. Ear infections. Lovely. But we did talk about why this day was special. I know that they have no real concept of death at the moment, so it was tricky. I simply told them that this day was important because it was the day when Jesus rescued the whole world. I said it was a sad day because his best friends thought He was gone forever. I said that Jesus knew what was going to happen, but everyone else was very confused. It wouldn't be until Easter Sunday that it would make sense. Then we read the story from the Jesus Storybook Bible. I'm telling you, best Bible ever. Seriously, get it. Even for yourself!

Saturday morning was the community egg hunt. You may remember last year, when they ended up filling their buckets with dirt instead of eggs...this year was COMPLETELY different! They almost filled their buckets. There was a bit of a snag when Allie accidentally popped one open and discovered there was candy inside. She looked around like "why are we picking up he eggs when we could just be gathering the candy?" But we got her back on track!
Part of our entourage. Nana made it! She hasn't missed an Easter yet!
Gathering the eggs!

Holding up their plunder!
Checking them out.

They spent the rest of Saturday with Nana and Little Grandma, who were helping us out by watching the kids so we could go to the wedding and really get to spend time with all of our friends there. Sunday morning we got them ready for church. And then headed off bright and early to church for our traditional Easter breakfast. I didn't get any pictures because I was busy chatting and meeting people. This year our church sent out invitations to our Easter festivities to about 3200 homes. So there were some new faces to meet (not 3200, but enough to make it worth the effort!). I was in charge of the post-service Easter Egg Hunt, so during the service I left Ry-guy with Nana and Allie with Auntie Becca and went out to hide the eggs. I missed the majority of the service (it took longer to hide 460 eggs than I thought it would!), but Stina took this beautiful picture of Lucas doing the children's message:
As I was hiding the eggs, I noticed that it was a bit windy. A beautiful day whenever the wind wasn't blowing, but a bit chilly when it was. My concern at the time was the wind moving some of my eggs (I hid a few in low hanging tree branches). When we unleashed the kids and they ran outside, I realized I should have had a very different concern. We happened to go out right when there was a huge gust of wind. And when I say huge, I mean blowing the children over. It reminded me of Nor'easters when we lived in MA. It was strong. Allie fell over and started crying. Kids were fighting the wind to get to the eggs. This picture below is my favorite that shows the wind (note: because she was a visitor and I don't even know her mom's name to ask for permission to post, I blurred her face...in case you were wondering):
The wind died down a bit, and the kids were able to continue the hunt and find all the eggs...including a few that had been hidden in past years and were never found...they were pretty disgusting in side, if you can imagine! And if you are curious to see how different the twins look from last year, you can see them at the church egg hunt last year here.

This Easter was so special because we got to enjoy it with so many friends and family. In fact, we had so many guests that we ventured away from our traditional Easter meal (pizza), and I made food that was a little more common (ham, cheesy potatoes, green beans, rolls, salad, etc.). It was the prefect way to celebrate the resurrection! He is risen!