Sunday, April 30, 2017

Safest Approach

Memaw took this picture while I was out of town... in my opinion, I think Caroline had a very clear handle on everything going on in the house in my absence and finally just decided that "See no evil" was the safest approach.

 Luckily Mama is home now.  But a huge thank you to my Hubby and Mother-in-Law for manning the home front in order that I could take this work trip.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

First Time

So... today marks the first time I am doing an overnight work trip since before Tracey was born.

I have been away from Tracey a handful of times since she was born -- usually for just one night at time (except for the trip a few months ago where she and Hubby went to St. Louis together for a few nights).

I have never spent a night away from the twins since they were born, and I have never left Daddy in charge of all three kids for more than a few hours at most.

So, we've called in reinforcements -- Hubby's mom and a friend of hers have arrived to help run the ship while I'm gone and I'm sure things will be fine.

I will admit, I felt like I was written out a battle plan for both Hubby and his mom to execute in my absence.  What time children to what, who goes to bed with which item, don't forget to put Tracey's hair up before she goes to school or it will be a rat's nest at the end of the day... and more and more and more details.  I'm not sure they will actually read my three pages of suggestions... but they have them to do with what they will.

As for my trip, I am a little stressed about the length of the drive that I'm doing with seven other people in the school vehicle... but I am excited about a night in a hotel without the little ones... and the chance to wake up on the morning without the little ones immediately needing something.

I know I will miss them like crazy... but hopefully this will give me a little R&R from full-time motherhood in order to come back with a little more sparkle.

For a laugh... maybe Hubby will have a night like this:

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Dance Class

Every other week the local dance studio offers a free Parent and Toddler dance class.  I always wanted to take Tracey when she was really young, but I always had to work on those days.  Once the twins were born, I was on maternity leave, so I took her for the first time when she was almost two, and I had help at home to watch the twins for an hour.

Then, when my help left, I kept taking Tracey but I would bring the twins with us.  A year ago, when they were just a few months old, I would bring the stroller and they would sleep the entire class... most of the time.

Then, this past fall, when the twins were eight and nine months old, I would bring a playpen with toys.  That proved not only difficult logistically to lug around, but also Tracey often wanted to climb in the playpen with Howard and Caroline instead of participating in the dance class.

Finally this past January, I decided to take a break from dance class until both Howard and Caroline were confident walkers (which is when they officially become "toddlers" who can participate in class).  I knew it would be tricky to try to have three young kids participate, but I thought it would help Tracey focus on the class to be a helper and a big girl example for Howard and Caroline who were now old enough to participate.  It was a good call on my part.

Finally in April, I felt confident enough in the twins' walking, and gathered enough of my own energy and courage to take all three kids to dance class.  There were definitely times when I don't have enough hands for kids... but we all had a really good time, and the other parents and kids were understanding of the fact we were all doing our best.  Frankly, mine were not the only children cutting to the front of the line or having trouble listening to the teacher, which is part of the fun of these Parent and Toddler classes -- everyone is in the same boat.  And, just as a thought, Tracey started behaving much better at dance class when Howard and Caroline were old enough to participate.

All that to say, I can never get pictures during class because I hardly have a free finger let alone a full free hand.  But, at the end of class, the kids get to choose instruments, and the teachers plays a fun song with colorful lights flashing, and all the kids dance around and play with the instruments.

During that part, I was able to take a few pictures:

The class is so funny to me because their little personalities are shining through more and more.

Tracey really does so much better when she has the job of helping her siblings.  She would frequently follow the teacher's directions to walk across the floor like a flamingo, and then when she had reached the opposite end of the room, she would hold her arms out and call out her siblings names for Howard and Caroline to come to her, so they would know where they were supposed to go.  She also took great pride in helping the teacher clean up and gather instruments -- sometimes forcibly taking instruments from children who were not quite ready to give them up (we'll have to work on that...)

Howard wants to do everything Tracey can do, and wants to be with the big kids all the time.  If Tracey does somersaults on a mat, Howard puts his head down on the mat... and the proceeds to crawl across it on all fours.  If Tracey walks across the floor like a flamingo, Howard will usually follow her.  He does not miss a thing, and he does not want to hold Mama's hand.

For as much as she loves new people, Caroline is cautious around crowds and does not enjoy the hustle and bustle of the big kids like Howard does.  She keeps a very close eye on Mama, and often wants to be held.  Now, that being said, I was able to put her down more in yesterday's class than I was during the class two weeks ago, so we're making progress.  She also stood next to Tracey a few times while I chased after Howard without starting to cry.

Dance class is now done for the year, but will start up again in September, and it will be fun to see how all three of my little ones have grown up when we attend class again this fall.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Monday, April 24, 2017

What's Going On

I don't really want to write this post, but for better or worse, this blog has sort of become a record and family history of our Hubby and my journey together, so without revealing specifics, I do want to share some of what's going on in our life right now.

Hubby and I received some medical news a few days ago that may turn out to be nothing, and may turn out to be something pretty big.  We are just processing things and praying and making appointments to gain more information and get a firm diagnosis as fast as possible.  That being said, we really don't know anything yet... we just know we need to get more testing done.

So, we've been on a roller coaster the past few days, and Hubby has still been trying to complete graduate work like a madman -- so things are a little stressful around here.

All that to say, a neighbor brought me food last night.  She was very sweet and brought me two big pans of enchiladas and cookies.  It was very very nice of her, but as soon as I accepted the food, the first thought in my head was, 
"Wow... someone is bringing me food... this really must be a big deal and bad news if people are starting to bring me food."

The truth is, most of the time I think I'm fine, and I'm not having trouble trusting God until I say something out loud -- like when I tell Hubby about the research I've done, or tell my parents about a doctor's appointment, and then I get choked up... which is weird because I just read this stuff twenty minutes ago and I had no emotional reaction at all, but now when I'm saying it out loud, I'm getting emotional.

Also, this is the first time that I'm getting calls and texts from family and friends reaching out to me to check in on us.  It is also the first time that I'm feeling the need to turn off my phone at certain points, because I just need a little break from all the other people wanting to talk about this right now.  Sometimes I want to talk -- sometimes I want to ignore the text messages on my phone, cuddle with my kids and watch Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood without thinking about this situation that we don't actually know what's going on yet.

Most of the time, I am not emotional at all because we really don't know the facts yet, and it doesn't make a lot of sense in my head to become emotional when we don't know the facts... at least that's how I feel most of the time... ask me again in five minutes and you might get a different answer. 

So please keep us in your prayers knowing that God knows all of the specifics and so your general prayers for our family are perfect and very much appreciated.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Painting Project

I have done a few painting projects with all three kids before but they have involved my painting their feet or hands - one at a time, and my placing their respective little hand or foot in a very specific, contained location and creating a little craft.

Well, yesterday was the first time I actually handed all three children paint brushes and watched what happened.

We did a family painting project, and I'm actually impressed with how little paint ended up all over our kitchen.  The twins ate plenty, and Tracey later panicked when she saw "red spots" on her face in the reflection in the mirror, but all in all, I'd say the painting project was a success.

I can't show pictures of the final result yet, because its a surprise... but the painting project was a success.


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Verse For Today

This is on my heart today and it is my prayer for anyone reading this as well...


Friday, April 21, 2017

One Focus

Our household is completely consumed with one focus right now... Hubby finishing his graduate program to earn his Masters in Educational Administration.

He has been working toward this masters degree since I was pregnant with the twins... but to paint a broader picture, he has been working on earning masters degrees in other specialties since before we were married... so this will be a tremendous accomplishment.

His semester ends April 30th, which means all of his final Capstone and Practicum tasks and requirements have to be completed, graded, and passed before April 30th.  We can have none of that turning in the final paper at 11:59pm on April 30th, because everything has to be graded and passed before then.

We have had a course assignment check list on our kitchen white board for nearly a year, and we started a final task and daily count down at the end of March to keep us motivated and keep the end in sight -- I say "us", but the fact that its in the kitchen where I see it all the time... its really for me.  I need to see that progress is being made every day and be reassured that we are nearing this end goal.

Hubby is down to his final four tasks, and his final nine days... although its really less than nine days, because again, nothing can be turned in at the last minute.

So, one reason I have done about five blog posts in a row about Easter and Easter pictures is because the only thing I can think about right now is how close we are to the end of Hubby's graduate school... and how stressed I am about him finishing while still working full time, checking in with us from time to time, and sleeping ever few days.

This is like the last 5 miles of a marathon, where we are so close, but we still have to run those last 5 miles.

I always thought it was sweet when people who accomplish something thank their families... but now I actually understand their situations.  Our entire family is in this together... every member of our family is making sacrifices in order for Hubby to complete this degree.  Our children do not see Hubby right now for more than a few minutes a day because he is working all the time.  Tracey has learned that when she sees Daddy in the morning, she should say, "I'll see you tomorrow, Daddy," because he's not going to come home until she is in bed that night... or later.  I definitely have times when being the only parent for several days on end really takes its toll on me and the degree of patience I show with the kids.

One of the hardest parts about this process for me has been the fact that I'm not the one earning the degree.  I'm the one crossing off tasks that someone else does... I'm watching the kids, I'm trying to encourage, motivate, nag when needed, but I am not the one completing the work -- all of this rests on Hubby's shoulders.  It is hard to sit on the sidelines when someone I love is working so hard.

So... all that to say, we have one focus in our home right now, and its all I can think about -- Hubby is almost done with graduate school... Hubby has nine or less days to finish all the assignments... Hubby hasn't slept in three days, I hope he's still making sense when he writes grad school assignments...

Please keep him and our family in your prayers as he completes the requirements for this degree and finishes strong.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Past Easters

I saw someone post a cluster of family Easter pictures from the past ten years and it was so cool to see how their family changed from past Easters.  Sometimes Easter pictures are harder for me to find than other past Holidays because sometimes Easter is in March, sometimes in April...

But, I was able to track down Easter pictures from the past five Easters, and I thought it was pretty fun:

Easter 2017

Easter 2016

Easter 2015

Easter 2014 
Back when I was still learning how to hold a newborn in ruffles

Easter 2013
At a sunrise service on the mountain, before I was even pregnant with Tracey

What a wonderful and blessed progression of Easter celebrations.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


In order to get this Easter picture of our family:

We got a lot of these pictures of our family:


Tuesday, April 18, 2017


I enjoy the show Dancing With the Stars each season.  I used to just tune in from time to time, but when Sadie Robertson from Duck Dynasty competed a few years ago, I tuned in religiously (she finished as first runner up in the finals) and got pretty hooked on the show.  I don't always tune in on Monday Nights, and often end up with two or three DVR recordings waiting for me to catch up, but I do enjoy the dancing, the music, and watching the stars grow over the course of a season.

Last night was Disney night on Dancing With the Stars, which is always an audience favorite.

A star I had never heard of before this show, and I still can't remember her name -- she is a POP star, danced a Pasodoble to Mulan's "I'll Make a Man Out of You," with Donnie Osmond performing.  In my opinion, it was the showstopper of the night.

In the little dance I've learned from Dancing With the Stars, a Pasodoble is a very powerful Spanish dance originally designed to simulate a matador and a bull in the ring, in a challenging and acrimonious dance where the matador ends up defeating the bull.  What a perfect dance for "I'll Make A Man Out of You," which is a song about soldiers learning combat.

Then, to add to the appeal of the dance, it was a wonderful example to little girls of all that a Disney princess can be.  Sure, she can sing and dance, and she can also fight, climb, and be strong.

I hope you enjoy this clip as much as I did:

Monday, April 17, 2017

Our Easter Celebration

We had a wonderful Easter celebration over the weekend and here are some pictures:

Tracey was really into decorating eggs this year, for the first time, so that was fun to do together.

Community Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday

Sunday breakfast at church

Our family picture where we all look dressed up, clean and happy -- which is how we want to remember these years with our children... it doesn't show all the chaos before and after the picture, but that's okay.

In this picture, Tracey is actually giving Caroline an egg... which is a really nice alternative from Tracey taking things from Caroline, which happens in other pictures.

Fun Easter baskets with spring and summer goodies -- jump rope, a soccer ball, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, Easter books, and water shoes.

Also,  a bicycle and helmet for Tracey...

And tricycle/scooters for the twins... the tricycle we had already, but now all three kiddos are ready for fun outside all summer.

We have some shelves in the yard that blew over, and I haven't moved them or picked them up because the kids have so much fun playing with them.  In this picture, Tracey was pretending that Caroline was a bear at the zoo, and the bear was in a cage and she wanted her picture taken with the bear.

In this picture, both she and Howard were bears in their zoo cages.

Hope you had a wonderful Easter weekend.