November 30, 2012

From Thanks...

November 26, We Are Thankful For:
Ryan: Bumble.  Ahhh.  We have returned to his first love.  It feels right, after days of forgetting, for this to be his answer again.
Allie: Ming Ming.  From Wonder Pets.  She actually really struggled at first.  She couldn't think of something for which she was thankful.  Finally it came to her.  She does love that little duckling.
Me: Returning to real life.  I don't necessarily enjoy it.  I so enjoy being surrounded by people I love. I enjoy a house full of chaos and laughter.  I enjoy the special adventures that come along with visitors.  And I especially love the break I always give myself from the usual housework.  Aside from doing dishes (so we can eat future meals) and general picking up (so we can move around the house), I want to spend my time spending time with people with whom I don't get to spend enough time!  But the day after everyone leaves it is time to return to the real world - especially catching up on laundry!
Making Christmas Cards.  I needed a project for the kids.  I needed to get things accomplished, but I didn't want them to watch tv all day.  I remembered a container of winter-themed, foam stickers (some of them glittery) in the craft room, and we had some card-sized card stock left over from another project.  So I handed it over to the twins and invited them to make some Christmas cards.  I thought they would make enough to send grandparents and cousins - maybe even the great-grandparents if I was lucky.  They loved it and made over 50!  I'm thinking all I need is another morning and I might have enough for our entire Christmas list...I didn't think we were going to get cards out this year, but I might be changing my mind now that my little elves are so enthusiastic about making them!
My favorite of the turkey pictures.  I saved it to put up for Thanksgiving...and then forgot.  So I'm using it now (since I don't have many pictures for this post).
November 27, We Are Thankful For:
I completely forgot the twins AGAIN.
Me: Items Shipping. Okay, last year the children really convicted me by asking what we would give to Jesus for His birthday.  In their innocence they got something that I felt I had really missed.  I have been thinking ever sincer about how I wanted our Christmas to be one that is outward focused, and ways to bring that about.  One of the things I had wanted to do was make sure that everything we asked for was a gift that gave back in some way - a portion of the proceeds going to charity, etc. (which turned out to be more difficult than I thought, but that is another long story).  Then we figured our Christmas budget and I didn't have the money to do what I wanted for my kids.  Conflicted isn't even the right word to describe what I felt.  We believe that everything we have (including and especially the money Lucas earns) is from God, and really is God's.  We try to be good stewards and to give generously wherever we can, knowing that our needs are really few.  But suddenly I wasn't sure I could provide the Christmas that I wanted, and all that flew out the window.  I wanted to hoard money, to stop being generous, to save it all for them.  Is it bad to want to give my kids good things?  No.  But I was completely losing sight of the exact thing that I wanted to infuse into our Christmas!  It took some wise words from my mom and a lot of prayer for me to even start to realize that my attitude and example would really determine what my children took away from Christmas far more than the presents they receive.  In the end, some savy shopping got us the amazing table AND the train set (for about half its price) - making it possible for us to do even more than we originally planned for Christmas (although not much...just because we can doesn't mean we should.  I don't want the volume of presents to take away from the value).  The kicker for me was when I received the e-mail, from the website where we ordered the train set, telling me it was on the way.  At the bottom was a little note telling me that for every order they ship, they also provide 3 meals of nutritious  organic food for a child in need.  It was like a gentle reminder to me that it was possible to look for good deals, to give my children good things, and to still give back - even in small ways.  It was the nudge I needed to continue in my plans to infuse this season with a spirit of giving.  And with that, I'm going to tell you all that you should hop over to and see if you can do any of your Christmas (or birthday or anytime) shopping there.  Because my order might only have provided food for a child for one day, but every order adds up, and if I can add to that by encouraging others to shop there, I will.
November 28, We Are Thankful For:
Allie: Mommy, Daddy, and Ryan.  There is a story here.  Lucas was actually doing bedtime.  I was taking a night off to just relax.  Thankfuls were (once again) completely forgotten.  Suddenly I hear Allie say, "I need to say what I'm thankful for!  I'm thankful for mommy!  Mommy!  I'm thankful for you!"  Melt my heart.  It took about 1 second for me to close my laptop, come out, and help them fill out their thankfuls.  Then Daddy felt sad that no one was thankful for him...and soft-hearted Allie asked me to add him and Ryan (to pre-emptively ensure Ryan wouldn't feel sad).  Best bedtime ever.
Ryan: Mommy.  Seriously, could they melt my heart any more?
Me: Laundry Complete.  Because of our stupid water softner, we can only do 3 loads of laundry before we have to recharge the softner (otherwise it starts to leave rust stains).  When I haven't done laundry for almost a week, this makes catching up difficult.  It felt good to finally be there!
Feeling Good.  Something I haven't talked about much is this major change I made about 7 months ago.  I changed my diet.  For years (5 or so) I have struggled with chronic pain.  I haven't had a dr. come up with an explanation yet.  Last year I finally started working with a dr. here to try to find a solution, but in April we had only found dead ends.  I was discouraged.  And then I met a friend of a friend who had struggled similarly (she was luck enough to get a diagnosis, but whatever), and had been able to control her pain primarily through diet.  So I jumped in (literally, 2 days later).  Within days I felt like a different person.  I have (for the most part ) stuck with the diet for 7 months now.   If I cheat (I have) I can usually feel the pain within 30 minutes (and now that I feel good I can't believe I lived with that level of pain constantly for so long).  I know now that I am only cheating myself.  For me, the time I felt the worst was during the winter - and I really struggled during the holiday season when the exhaustion from being in pain all day long collided with a much heavier schedule than normal - which all collided with the expectation I place on myself for Christmas and the things/memories I would provide for my children - creating a perfect storm of pain and mommy-guilt tat clouded the holidays.  I'm still not 100%.  I still have pain (MUCH less). I struggle with sticking to the diet (in case you were wondering it is no gluten, no nightshades, no citrus fruits, no onions, no pork, no caffeine (I'm down to 1 cup of half-caff coffee a day and working on going caffeine free), no eggs (although I have found that farm-fresh don't bother me, or at least not as much as store-bought), and no sugar (not sure I will ever fully give up this one) - a LOT of things to give up).   But today I did some cleaning, some organizing, some projects with the kids, some Christmas decorating, AND had energy left over in the evening.  It honestly was more than I used to be able to do in a week stretching my energy as far as I could.  Being able to feel, see, and enjoy the vast difference made me so thankful.  Ask Lucas.  I was practically bouncing all evening because the difference was so amazing and made me feel so happy.  And feeling this good is making me really excited for Christmas this year.
November 29, We Are Thankful For:
Ryan: Daddy.
Allie:  Daddy.  Apparently tonight was Daddy's night.  I didn't even ask if they would include me.  They are in such a mommy phase right now that I thought it was nice for Daddy to get the spotlight for an evening.
Me: Moms Group.  Yeah I started it, and coordinate it, and perhaps it is basically just me making friends for myself.  But I really enjoy the mornings getting together with other moms.  I enjoy the laughter and the opportunities to support and encourage each other, and the fun my kids have with their friends.  Best morning of the week.
Our tv Night.  Thursday night is the night most of the shows Lucas and I watch together are on tv.  Some of them we have watched for years and watch out of loyalty even though they aren't as good as they once were.  Some of them were shows I liked first, and he grew to like. Some of them are shows at which we once turned up our noses...and now they are a guilty pleasure we wholeheartedly enjoy.
November 30, We Are Thankful For:
Allie: Mommy and Daddy.  She rounded out the last night of thankfuls with both of us.  Sweet girl
Ryan: Trees.  Lucas asked if he meant Christmas Trees?  Ryan said nope.  Just trees.
Me:  Helping a friend.  I have a friend who has been having some medical issues and needed to have some tests.  I was not only able to help her out by having her son over to play while she was at the hospital, but she happened to know the tech who was working in the department where she needed tests and she got rushed through.  She ended up having enough time to do her tests, go to the chiropractor  and run some errands - all in less time than she originally told me the tests would take!  And then we got to hang out and talk while the kids played.  And then we all went to lunch together at the church.  It was a great morning!
LIFT.  The night of the church bonfire, a few ladies thought it would be nice to hang out and decided to start a new group - Ladies In Fellowship Together, or LIFT.  We had the first get-together and it was wonderful.  Sharing a warm cup of tea and delightful conversation with the women of our church was wonderful.
Last-minute productivity.  With an entire week between Thanksgiving and the beginning of December, I felt like I had plenty of time to 1) work on presents and 2) Get my advent activities together.  But somehow the week got away from me and I was nowhere near where I wanted to be.  I spent the evening pulling together our December schedule/advent activities/making the advent calendars....although I fell asleep before I completely finished.  Good thing the one I have left to finish isn't needed before bedtime...
A shot of the finished Thankful Tree
And that concludes our month of Thankfulness.  If the next month wasn't Christmas (with it's own theme/projects) I might continue.  It was a lot of fun, and I especially loved the twins getting into the habit of saying every night before bed, "Wait!  I have to write what I'm thankful for!"

November 27, 2012

The Last Few Days

I can't decide if I like this early Thanksgiving thing or not.  On one hand, it always feels like Christmas rushes in on the heels of Thanksgiving and it has been a relief to realize I still have several more days before December begins.  On the other, I feel very ready for Christmas for the first time since the twins were born and I'm chomping at the bit for December to begin (because for some reason it just doesn't feel Christmas-y in December...).  Regardless, the 30 days of thankfulness continues no matter where Thanksgiving falls.

Although, I will confess that I have forgotten to get the twins' thankfuls every day since Thanksgiving.  As you will see, we were very busy!

November 23, We Are Thankful For:
Me: A relaxing day.  We were going to go and get our Christmas tree, but I felt like we all needed a lazy day.  So we decided we wouldn't do anything.  Granted, by the end of the day we were up for some adventure, but I will get to that.
A Husker Win!  While it wasn't a pretty win (none of them have been...) it was an important one.  We were certainly all happy!

Black Friday Deals.  I am NOT a black Friday shopper.  I don't particularly enjoy shopping on a good day, but I am most likely to enjoy shopping when the store is practically empty and I have all the time in the world to browse and make decisions.  So, as you can imagine, Black Friday shopping is pretty much the last thing I would want to do.  But I did want some fabric for something I want to make for the twins, and we were heading to eat dinner down the road from Joann's.  So we popped in (during the last few hours they were open), and I managed to get the fabric I wanted for 75% off!  Plus a cute storage cart for the massive amounts of preschool stuff that has been overtaking our kitchen.  Score!  We also enjoyed a yummy dinner at the Chinese Buffet, playing at the toy store, and a quick drive-thru of our favorite lights show (which, if I may say so, is a total rip off when the winter wonderland isn't open.  We will be going back).

November 24, We Are Thankful For:
Me: Our Tree!  Last year we went on our first ever real tree hunting adventure.  Which, consisted of going to the tree farm and picking one of the trees they had already cut.  This year, we wanted to cut our own...and I figured going when we had reinforcements would probably be a good idea.  It was!
The hayride to the trees.  I was too close to get really good pictures of the group.

Allie and Ryan balancing on the stump of an already-cut tree.  This was how they passed the time while we got the inside info on the trees and the farm.

It didn't take long to realize that we all might have different ideas in mind when it came to what tree we would get...
Ryan: "This is the biggest tree!  I want the BIGGEST tree!"
 Allie kissing a "baby" tree.
We walked around for a while.  Every tree was too tall or too fat or too thin or disproportional or something.  I really thought for a while that we were going to have to look at every tree...and by then we would have forgotten where all the possible trees were and would have to look at them all again!

The kids were getting tired and I was getting tired and it seemed like no tree was good enough (when I knew that pretty much any tree would look beautiful once it had lights and ornaments on).  Then Ryan found it.  The perfect tree.
Yes, Allie hugged the saw too tightly and it bit into her coat.  Mommy fail.
Cutting it down.
We spent the afternoon decorating the tree and setting up the train set.  We were all delighted with the finished product.
 Papa fixing the train...which has fallen apart a couple times.  I see super glue in our future.
 Baby Jesus getting a train ride...what more could he want for his birthday?
A wonderful evening.  In the evening, we turned off all the lights except the Christmas trees.  We put in our fireplace dvd (which we purchased in our seminary apartment days and, thankfully, didn't throw away during the time we had a fireplace in MA!), turned on the Christmas carols, and enjoyed hot chocolate and cookies.  Is there a more perfect way to start off the Christmas season?  I submit that there is not.
November 25, We Are Thankful For:
Me: Safe travel, once again, for my parents.  They and my sister-in-law traveled together to Chicago to spend a night there.  They arrived safely (even though they failed to call and let me know...).  I was sad to see them go, but knowing they will be back in a month sure helps!
Potluck.  4 months in a row I have managed to bring something that someone else has brought.  Not always the same person, but at least one other person has the same thing.  This time I succeeded once again.  But I brought 2 things to make up for it.  It is becoming a bit of a church joke.
A Chance to Bless.  I won't go into full details, because I don't want to ruin the anonymity.  I will just say that it is amazingly fun to be a part of surprising someone with something you know will bless them and turn their week around.

Ta-da!  Caught up!  For now...

November 26, 2012


First, I apologize for the lack of pictures.  I was doing great...and then I got distracted by the food...and the next thing I knew, the day was over and I hardly had any pictures, very few that were any good, and none of the majority of the people there.  Oops.

The day started out really nicely.  I had prepared the majority of the food the day before, so we got up and got the last few food items together (one being the turkey), and prepared for a fairly relaxing day.  I thought to myself, at one point, that I should feel more nervous than I did.  I've done the Thanksgiving dinner a number of times, but I had no clue how true that thought would be!  

We popped in the turkey and went out for a walk while we waited for Nana, Uncle Logan, Aunt Mindy, H, and D to arrive!

Everyone arrived and we enjoyed an afternoon together.  A couple of times I worried about the turkey - something felt really off to me (I learned later that it felt off to my dad as well) - but I trusted the cook book.
Cousins playing in the beds - a big hit!

About an hour before we were planning on having dinner I realized that I READ THE COOKBOOK WRONG...and the turkey was not going to be ready in time.  My dad went online and we found a Turkey Emergency article that was really helpful.  We came up with a plan of action...and a backup plan to that plan...and did everything in our power to make sure that dinner would only be pushed back an hour.  Thankfully, our first plan worked.  Dinner was only an hour late!  It really could have been so much worse.  While I have always said mistakes like this just make for good stories, this was a lesson that I will never forget.  For the record, I also forgot to set out the rolls to rise (the extra time for the turkey saved me there), and forgot to put a cookie sheet under my pie (There was smoke).  There was also a smoking hot pad incident (the wrong burner was turned on and the hot pad was sitting on the offending burner - this one wasn't my fault!).  We weren't short of story-worthy moments!

While we got to see the majority of both of our families and have them with us for Thanksgiving, there were a few family members that were greatly missed.  Uncle Matt, Aunt Lala & Uncle G & H &T, and Poppy.
At the end of the day Allie says to me, "Mommy, know why I am making this face?  Because I miss Poppy SO much and it makes me sad."
November 22, We Are Thankful For:
Ryan: Train.  While he has been stuck in a transportation theme, perhaps his thankful for today is because of the conversation we had during our walk.
Ryan: In Chicago the train went, "PSSSSSSS," and it was loud and it made me cry.
Papa: You know, Gigi and Uncle Matt and I are riding the train to see you at Christmas.  Do you think Uncle Matt will cry.
Ryan: Yup.
Papa: Do you think I will cry?
Ryan: No, Papa.  You are a grown up!
Poor Uncle Matt...the twins are convinced he isn't a grown up yet...
Allie: Venison.  For lunch I put out a veggies tray, crackers, cheese, and venison summer sausage.  Allie ate a large portion of venison...and apparently liked it.  You know you live in Michigan during deer season when your child is thankful for venison...
Kim: Family
Plenty of good food
Internet and the helpful information on it.
Being surrounded by love, laughter, and fin.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving too!!

November 25, 2012

They're Here!

 November 21st, We Are Thankful For:
Kim: Safe Travel for my parents.  It is a lot of hours, and they were traveling on little sleep...and tired...which I knew because my dad had been working really hard to get the beds finished in time.  They arrived, and we were so excited, and as my Dad unloaded (with a little help from me and Lucas), Gigi pulled out the bags of special things she had picked up here and there for the twins (stickers, pajamas, church clothes, etc.).  Which brings me to Ryan's thankful:
Ryan: Lightning Pajamas.  Yup.  He has outgrown all of his other Lightning McQueen Pajamas (he had 4 pairs last year).  Getting him to get ready for bed has been a challenge (he liked his other pajamas for about a week, and then he wanted his Lightning McQueen back).  Gigi showed up with brand new Lightning pajamas and all was well with the world again.  Unfortunately, only 1 pair.  I see a lot of laundry in my future...
Kim: Yes, I realize the format is a bit different...but it is to allow me to tell the story through our thankfuls in the order of their occurrence.   I am thankful for My Dad.  Who immediately got to work putting together the beds that he made. 
 Let me tell you a little about these beds.  Way back when Lucas was in seminary and we had no children I saw an Ikea catalogue with a picture of a kids room.  It had a loft bed with a tent and a cool reading nook underneath and I thought it was the most amazing kids room I had ever seen.  Fast forward about 5 years and the twins were getting too big for their cribs, and I was starting to think about putting together their "big kid" rooms.  I could not get that picture out of my head.  I wanted a loft bed that would leave their entire floor space open for play and that would create a cozy nook-like environment for a reading space.  But I wanted them to be super sturdy (kids are kids seem especially), and I wanted them to be really nice.  So, last Christmas, I talked with my dad about what I wanted.  We hashed out some points of design, and then he got to work.  Basically, he made my dream beds/room a reality.  He's pretty amazing.

Allie: My New Bed.  The finished product was AMAZING.  The kids literally could not get enough.  The adults couldn't either.  Honestly, I'm writing this 4 days later and they still can't get enough of their beds.
On the ladders.  They LOVE climbing up and down!

 Under the beds.  It really is cozy under there!!

Kim: The new beds.  Words cannot express how much I love the new beds and the new room!  The kids LOVE sleeping in them.  It has made bed and naptime easier.  The beds look amazing - and the room looks really amazing and more put together with them.  The reading nook is perfect.  
The kids love reading and playing under there.  I do too.  They already have piles of stuffed animals and pillows to snuggle in.  I love it.   But the thing I love the most?  The imaginative play that is happening in these beds!  Within 24 hours the beds had been a boat, a plane, and a bus.  They are not only a great piece of furniture but a favorite new toy!  Best of all, they aren't just something nice we bought at a store.  They are handmade by someone we love...and who loves us a lot!  I love being surrounded by things that were made by people we love (like the flags we put around the bed and their blankets that were made by Aunt Mindy).
We love the beds!
Thank you, Papa!!!

November 21, 2012

The Last Few Days Before...

...Family starts to arrive!!!
Update: I wrote this post BEFORE my family arrived, but never uploaded pictures...therefor, it never got published.  More updates will be coming...soon.
This is pretty much my countdown.

November 18, We Are Thankful For:
Ryan:  Monster Trucks.  Apparently, he has found something new on which to fixate.  This morning (Sunday, for the record), he was desperate to wear his monster truck shirt (or fire truck...either would do).  We have 1 rule about getting dressed - they are allowed to pick their clothing (within reason i.e. weather) every day BUT Sunday.  Because on Sunday I like for them to look nice.  And I'm willing to negotiate on Sundays BUT we don't wear shirts with pictures to church.  Almost anything else is game.  But no monster trucks.  Plus, this Sunday I had a whole new wardrobe of adorable shirts and ties that I had picked up at a garage sale and I couldn't wait to dress him up.  But he threw a fit.  The only way I convinced him to wear what I picked?  I promised daddy would wear the exact same thing.
Seriously.  How many years do we have when wearing the same thing as daddy is cool?  Gotta take advantage of it while it works!
Allie: My Baby Bumble.  She has taken up Ryan's torch and is running it.  I'm seriously starting to wonder if my kids had a talk and decided that they would make sure a/the Bumble/caterpillar made it onto the thankful tree each day...
Me:  Children's Church.  This year, since the twins were of that age (as well as a host of other children who had grown up/started attending since we have come), I pitched in at church to teach the preschool Sunday School class as well as Children's Church during the service (every other Sunday so that I don't miss EVERY service).  While I felt it was a real need, and I truly felt God calling me to these ministries, I will confess that there have already been times when I have felt burnt out.  These Sundays have felt, especially this week, a little more like a drudgery or chore than something I was looking forward to.  Sunday School I have down to a science thanks to a slight tweaking of a kids Bible Study sent to me by cousin Lauren.  But Children's Church involves a wider age range of kids...which is difficult when that range is found in a smaller number.  There is one boy especially who I desire to reach, but who comes with a set of challenges.  Some Sundays I just needed enough helpers to keep him contained in the space.  I have been really paying attention to what really captures his attention and trying to always lean my lesson more toward his needs, and to give him a little extra of my time and attention.  This Sunday may have been a lucky coincidence, but it was the blessing and encouragement I needed.  He joined in the songs.  He listened to the story.  He not only participated in the craft (something I now ALWAYS do because he loves crafts), but he helped Allie and made an extra one for me.  He even played the game at the end (which made me nervous because last time he ended up getting upset and refusing to play anymore, but this time I tweaked the way we did his turn and he loved it so much he took 3 turns!!!).  Biggest breakthrough of all - he didn't try to run away once.  Sometimes all you need is to know you are reaching just one kid to make it all worthwhile...
A day of fun and rest.  Honestly, this past week I have really been trying to get my house in order.  For once I want to feel like I'm not putting up the Christmas decorations (which I LOVE) over clutter.  But I took the day off to relax (another nap!), enjoy friends (we went to a 40th anniversary party!), and just enjoy my family.
The twins helping me put together some of the food ahead of time to make Thanksgiving less busy.
Juicing oranges for cranberry sauce.
 Putting the marshmallows on the sweet potatoes...or eating them...they ate more than they actually put on...
November 19, We Are Thankful For:
Ryan: Tuck.  The turtle from Wonder Pets.  In all honesty, I'm not sure if this is actually what he was thankful for.  He was playing in his room and didn't want to come out.  Allie said she would take care of it and went running to their room yelling, "Ryan!  What are you thankful for?!"  She came back and said, "He is thankful for Tuck."  But that might have just been what she substituted for his lack of answer...
Allie: Baby Siddeley.  Working her way through her babies.
Me: Preschool time.  The month of October was somehow more busy than September and really threw us off our preschool routine.  At first, it was no big deal, but then the lack of structure started to show in the twins...and then in me.  I didn't like how our days were looking, and resolved to do a Thanksgiving theme this week.  A little less intense (we are getting ready to host the Thanksgiving meal at our place), but providing the few hours of structure that seem to make all the difference.
A wonderful conversation with our adoption agency.  If you ask (even if you don't), I will tell you that I LOVE our adoption agency.  Not only are they organized and informative and very kind, but they pray for us, for all their families, daily.  That means so much.  They have been doing a great job of communicating with all of their families - especially those on the waiting list...because waiting is hard but information (usually) helps, and because Uganda is an ever-changing program.  The last e-mail was...disappointing.  We didn't move up on the list, and the tone seemed to imply that things would get slower before they moved faster.  Disappointing doesn't even begin to describe the range of emotions. The whole process is a bit like finding out you're pregnant - but not knowing when the baby will be born.  It could be 9 months, it could be a year, it could be two...but "Congratulations!" now enjoy the just gets hard sometimes.  Our social worker always follows up with a call...that I usually miss because I can't find my phone.  She has apparently realized that Lucas is more reliable and called him first, and then me at home.  We talked about how it is going slow, and how that is hard.  Apparently, Lucas (wanting to know the options), had asked about switching to other countries, etc.  She wanted to encourage me in whatever we felt was God's will for our family.  In all honesty, I truly still feel that God's will is for us to adopt from Uganda.  I don't want to wait.  I don't want the wait to get longer.  I don't want to hear the twins talk about how they will have a new brother or sister for their birthday, and hurt because I know they won't and I don't want their enthusiasm to be clouded with disappointment...or mine.  I don't want to wonder or worry about my other children half a world away, completely outside my care while we are here, being a family, in a warm house with plenty of food and lots of love - especially when I know its possible that they have none of those things.  I don't want the process, the waiting, to be difficult or hard because difficult and hard things - while often good - are not fun.  But I have had Uganda children in my heart since I went there almost 10 years ago.  I took care of those babies and toddlers and held them and fed them and played with them and loved them and said, "Someday.  Someday I will come back and take some of you home."  And that someday is now a reality.  I've waited this long.  I can wait longer.  Especially when I know that the timing is in the control of the one who Holds us all in His hands.  God may change the plan - He often does - and call us to adopt someone else somewhere else.  We are open to the possibility.  But until He does, I will wait - even though I don't want to.  It was such a comfort and a relief to have someone say, "I know it's hard.  We are praying for you.  We are working for you.  I will support you however you need.  I'm in this with you and we will do this together."   Seriously, I'm thankful for and I honestly love Lifeline!
A relatively easy bedtime.  They were super tired.  They aren't feeling 100%.  And they want to be really good because Papa is bringing their new beds.  So it wasn't a surprise that bedtime was pretty easy.  Just a nice respite.
They found a ball of's worse than having a cat!
November 20, We Are Thankful For:
Ryan:  Monster Trucks and Trains.  See...part of the reason that I think Tuck was Allie's answer is because he holds true to a theme...
Allie: My Seahorse.  That she sleeps with.  She loves her seahorse.  She doesn't play with dolls very often, but her seahorse is her baby.
Me: Lots of cleaning.  I know I've been doing a lot of cleaning lately.  You probably think it is for Thanksgiving.  It isn't.  I mean, I like to have the house clean before people come, but everyone coming is close family and has seen my house worse.  Really, I'm trying to get everything cleaned (and organize, and deep cleaned) so I can put up Christmas decorations.  Before kids, I deep cleaned everything before putting up Christmas decorations.  I loved having my house super clean and beautifully decorated.  Since kids, I have sort of stumbled from fall through the holidays, "Wait, it's Halloween?  Wait, it's Thanksgiving?!  WAIT, It's CHRISTMAS??!!"  Suddenly, it would be time to put up decorations, and I wouldn't have the house anywhere near as clean as I wanted, and I wouldn't have the time to get it there.  I would go into the already busy Christmas season feeling cluttered and behind.  This year, I have been planning since September - determined to ENJOY the Christmas season by planning ahead and being prepared.  Starting with cleaning and organizing like crazy.  It still isn't where I would like it (and I like to start putting up decorations Thanksgiving night...), but it is SO much better than past years.  So after almost a full day of cleaning and scrubbing and organizing, I'm calling it good and moving on!
My parents are coming!  They are on the road!  They will be here tomorrow!  I can't wait!

November 17, 2012

Ready for Thanksgiving

I keep getting on to post thinking that I'm all caught up and just posted yesterday...and then I look at the dates and realize that 3 days have gone by.  How is that possible?!
This turkey was donated to the church for a decoration, and the twins LOVE it.  I promised they could get their pictures taken with him, and it was all they could talk about until it finally happened!
Perhaps because we have been busy getting everything together for Thanksgiving.  Friday we went grocery shopping and picked up all the staples for the meal - turkey, yams, green beans, stuffing, cranberries, etc.  We saved up a month's worth of grocery money for the trip, and it was so much fun to splurge a little (I'm not very good at I figure I can save the rest to splurge for Christmas!).  Then we went to the library to pick up A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving - not only is it a classic Peanuts delight, but it covers the history of the pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving in a kid-friendly way.  While there, I discovered a few Thanksgiving books that I had missed the last time we went.  So I grabbed those up too!  So we are watching Snoopy celebrate Thanksgiving and reading "'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving" and preparing for a wonderful celebration of thanks with our family!
What does Tom see?

November 15, We Are Thankful For:
Allie & Ryan:  It didn't happen.  I was gone for the evening and even though Lucas was planning to remember, when bedtime rolled around he forgot.  Oh, well.
Me: More Organizing.  I was supposed to go grocery shopping in the morning, but the twins were cranky, and my back was still iffy, so we put it off until Lucas could join us.  Instead, I used that time to finish some of my organizing projects.  It feels so good to get so much stuff cleaned out!  
Time with friends.  I got to spend part of the evening with a friend I haven't seen enough of recently.  It was less than 2 hours, but it was still wonderful to catch up.
Reliving the glory days.  I sort of accidentally became the alumni adviser for the women's music honorary that I was part of in college.  I hadn't had a chance to meet the girls that voted me in, so I went to one of the meetings.  It brought back so many wonderful memories from college - especially since I discovered that they still do many of the things we started during our time!  It also made me feel a little old.  Even though I don't feel like it has been that long, a lot has changed...
A kiss.
 A "smile."
November 16, We Are Thankful For: 
Allie: My Other Baby Bumble.  Yup.  Allie has Bumbles too...and she is thankful for her other one (don't ask me which of the two is the "other" one...)
Ryan: Trains.  Honestly, he originally said candy again...and while I could take Bumble every single say of the month, candy was too much.  So I asked if there was anything else?  He looked at me like I was crazy.  Then Lucas told him that he could be thankful for anything he wanted.  So Ryan picked trains.
Me: "New" Clothes.  I completely switched out the twins' wardrobes the last few days - bringing up all of the next size of clothes out of the bins where they were waiting downstairs.  While this switch is always a little traumatic for me - I hate saying goodbye to my favorite clothes of the twins - it was made a lot easier as I helped the twins pick out their outfits this morning.  They were so excited to see (essentially) a whole new wardrobe, and they were so excited to pick which "new" clothes they were wearing.  I say "new" because 95% of their wardrobe is hand-me-down/garage sale.
Groceries.  It always feels good to have the fridge and pantry full again.  And Lucas was able to come along and help out...which was huge since we were stocking up for Thanksgiving.
"Game" Night.  We haven't had a monthly game night in a while, and we had a free Friday, so we sent out an invite.  In the end, everyone had sick kids or couldn't get a babysitter or was hunting..and only one friend showed up (with her adorable baby).  We didn't play any games, but we enjoyed a night of good conversation and reminiscing  (did I mention this is a friend from college who played a crucial role in Lucas and I getting together?).

November 17, We Are Thankful For:
Ryan:  Monster Truck.  Now that we've gotten him out of Bumble/Candy groove he is really off and running.  Not surprising that they are all in the transportation theme.
Allie:  My Big Caterpillar.  Yet another of our beloved Bumbles.  Actually, this one was in Ryan's Easter Basket their first Easter, but it has somehow become Allie's over the years.
Me:  A quiet day.  We made sure to set aside this Saturday so that we could have an entire day to catch up/relax - and we spent the entire day alternating between the two.  It was wonderful.
A nap.  I stayed up much later than my normal bedtime the 2 nights before, and I was struggling.  Allie had been begging me to snuggle with her in the new "bed."  So I did.  Naptime is amazing.
A successful dinner.  I made venison...for the first time ever.  I've eaten it before, but never cooked it.  I was oddly nervous.  It turned out great and was delicious!  Phew!
Thanksgiving is right around the corner.  Best of all, only 4 days until my parents arrive (and the holiday really begins)!!  I'm thankful for family (Lucas' and mine), and the time I will get to spend with them next week...and I realize I am thankful in anticipation, but I really can't wait!

November 14, 2012

An Attitude of Gratitude

Part of what I'm trying to show the twins during our month of thankfulness is that thankfulness is habit.  Taking time to stop and recognize what we are thankful for each day quickly turns into (pardon the rhyme) an attitude of gratitude that overflows into the rest of your day.  I find that it happens each November.  I spend so much of my day thinking about how thankful I am for things, and what I want to be most thankful about from each day, that soon there is a current of gratitude running through my day and changing my perspective.  I have seen, this year, that the twins are saying more often during the day, "I think I will be thankful for this," or "That makes me feel thankful."  Now to get that to overflow into the rest of the year...

November 12, We Are Thankful For:
Ryan: Candy.  In all fairness, he said his caterpillars first.  But Lucas was taking care of the thankfulness leaves this evening and he suggested Ryan try to be thankful for something else...and Ryan's backup was candy.  He has only had 2 answers thus far.  Apparently, he holds few things truly dear, but what he loves he REALLY loves :)
Allie: All My Babies.  While she has had varied answers, she is fairly consistent as well.  And I love that the things they are thankful for most are the toys for which they feel a love and protectiveness.  
Me:  A productive morning.  I don't know what it is about Mondays, but it frequently feels like the pace of the week is established on Monday (and realistically, the morning is key.  I am at my most productive in the morning).  If I don't get much accomplished on Monday morning, the whole week tends to be less productive.  But if I can start my Monday strong, there is a good foundation for productivity throughout the week.  Monday morning I managed to get the laundry under control and organized a bunch of clutter-catching spots in the house, and did some dishes.  I tackled several projects that had been in my mind to get finished.  By naptime, I had accomplished a lot...which was good...because during naptime I somehow hurt my back and it killed the majority of my productivity the rest of the day...
Craigslist.  I can't decide if it is a little awesome or sad that this isn't the first time craigslist has been featured on my thankful list.  But craigslist was truly a lifesaver.  The glass top on our oven cracked, and the crack went through 3 of the burners.  We were sort of limping along with the 1 burner, but I kept wondering if maybe we should check into fixing it.  I finally did some research online and discovered that 1) it was really dangerous to be using even the burner without the crack and we should stop immediately, and 2) while you can buy replacement tops, they tend to be expensive and most people opt for a completely new oven.  Yikes.  Our budget didn't have the room for a brand new oven, so I started looking on craigslist and found almost the exact same stove, a newer model, by a dealer who guarantees his product!  Hallelujah!  I also had been looking online for months for a specific kind of table that I could turn into a train table for the kids for Christmas (real train tables are crazy expensive, and I felt pretty confident I could make something else work just as well for a lot less).  I happened to find the PERFECT table!  Basically, through craigslist we got an oven and train table for the price of what a new train table usually costs!
Time with friends.  It just so happened that the town where we had to go for our new oven is the town where our dear friends moved a little less than a year ago.  So we stopped in and had a quick visit with them.  Even if it is short, time with these friends is always a blessing.  The laughter alone is worth the trip :)

November 13, We Are Thankful For:
Ryan: Candy.  Now that his focus has switched...
Allie: Tree.  She was pointing to the Thankful Tree when she said I'm assuming she is thankful for the tree documenting their thankfuls.  Or she might just be thankful for trees.  She does really love them...
Me: TV.  It's so sad that I'm thankful for this again!  But I hurt my back (again), and I really needed to be immobile and on ice or heat.  On a good day I could have come up with something other than tv to occupy them, but they seemed crankier than normal and I was exhausted (daylight savings really throws us for a loop every year sleep-wise).  So tv was a lifesaver. 
A great afternoon of ministry.  Sometimes it is just nice to know that God is using you where He has you.
Swim Lessons.  The twins love it.  I get to see my friend.  And Allie wore her goggles to help her go under the water (for the first talk not to go in the water without their floaties really worked...).  She looked cute and she dunked her face!  A perfect evening.

November 14, We Are Thankful For:
Ryan: Candy.  I asked him if he was thankful for anything else, and he responded, "Mom,  said candy.  Just candy."  He knows what he likes...
Allie: My Orange Seahorse.  Another garage sale treasure.  The girl loves seahorses.
Me: Feeling better.  I have so much I want to get done before next week (and to start working on Christmas presents - like the train table)!  But first the virus was dragging me down and then I hurt my back! I finally felt better enough to start tackling some of the projects - namely organizing my craft room (to have space to work on the train table) and organizing the twins room (to get ready for the new beds that Papa made).  Both were accomplished (as well as 4 loads of laundry and the dishes and weeding out the too-small clothes from the twins' closet).
Grace.  Sadly, the twins seem to have picked up colds.  They were up during the night coughing and had runny noses and scratchy-sounding throats all day.  At one point Allie felt like she might be running a low-grade fever.  The lack of sleep and cranky kids made the day difficult.  And since I was trying to accomplish a lot while not feeling 100% myself, there were some moments where I got grumpy.  Grace from my children and husband is much appreciated.  They forgave my moments of breakdown.  Grace from my heavenly Father is even more appreciated.  Knowing that I receive unending forgiveness and grace from Him makes every day worth living.  I will keep trying to focus on Him and pray that he changes me to be more like that I need to request forgiveness and grace from my family less.  Clearly the attitude of gratitude hasn't overflowed into EVERY moment...