Parenting Tales, Points to Ponder

Dear Kids…Fall 2018

Dear Dan, Andrew, Heidi, Joey, and Josh,

Here we are again, ready to launch into a brand new school year. Summer went by in a flash…actually, the last year went by in a flash, didn’t it? Eleventh, tenth, eighth, and sixth grades. WOW is all I can really say. Y’all are growing up way, way , WAY too fast for me.

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So, what do I want to tell you all before you head off on that exciting, sometimes nerve-wracking first day? First and foremost is that I love you like crazy and am so proud of each of you. Don’t you ever forget that. I’m not sure how this flawed, ordinary lady got blessed with such great kids, but hey, I’ll take it. No, I don’t think any of you are perfect (none of us are), but you do make me proud in so many ways that you probably don’t even realize. Keep on being great kids, whether that be with the big things in life or just the little everyday stuff.

Try your very best, whether it be in playing an instrument, learning new math skills, working in shop class, or writing an essay. I realize that not every subject will thrill you, but you are still to give it your best effort. No, I don’t expect anyone here to be perfect, but I do expect diligent work and not slacking off. Keep on reading and never be ashamed of your love for books.

I know I also say this every year, but be kind and respectful to each of your teachers, whether they are your favorite or not. Same goes for each of the staff members at your schools. And your classmates?? Yup, you are to show kindness to everyone, even the kids that get on your nerves (hint—they may be the ones who could use it the most).

Continue to be little lights for Jesus. We are now in the throes of middle and high school and though we try to protect you, I would be naïve to think you are not being exposed to at least some of the temptations and ugliness of this world. Please be extra strong in your faith and stand up for what you believe in. It just isn’t worth it to follow the crowd on so many things. I may be “old,” but I do know some things by this point, and that one I know for sure. You know what is worth it though? Having a firm foundation in the Lord and living for Him, not for the world. Believe me, people will notice and wonder what it is that makes you different. Hopefully you can tell them that it is Christ in you that makes a difference.

Well, that’s it for now. Know that I pray for each of you daily as you venture out and will continue to do so all of my days. Remember that Dad and I are rooting for you. We’re always here to listen, to help, and to love on you, no matter what. Good luck tomorrow. You’ll be just fine, even though you may be a little nervous. I’ll miss you, but am excited for a new year together!

Love, Mom

 

Parenting Tales, Points to Ponder

Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018

Happy New Year everyone!

I pray that you have experienced a joy-filled holiday season and are eagerly looking forward to a brand new year. I’m sure I’m not alone in that this time of year makes me pause and reflect on happenings within the past year, plus look forward to some new things as well.

Here are some highlights from our year as a family:

*Our oldest two boys were able to go to Sea Base, a high adventure base in the FL Keys. They had a wonderful experience there, including paddling across the ocean in a canoe, snorkeling, deep-sea fishing, and kayaking. They loved it. Oh yeah, it was the first time they’ve ever flown as well. My highlight was watching a video someone took of my boys’ faces that first time the plane really took off. I was dying!!

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*My husband left his job of many years and began afresh in a completely new career. This time last year we had no idea what the future held in this regard. God is SO good and brought about a new place of work that has been a refreshing change for him, and for us as a family. (Plus now he brings home really cool wood and makes things out of it.)

*My oldest turned 16! And got his learner’s permit! Want to feel completely powerless? Be a passenger in a vehicle where your oldest child is driving YOU for the first time. We’ve been cursed at, almost rear ended, had a line of traffic behind us multiple times, and passed in dangerous ways about every time we venture out. Fun times.

*We are experiencing our very last year in elementary school. We have loved it there, but I’m certain my littler guys are ready to move on. Me too.

*My daughter and I took a day trip to New York City. It was the first time her and I did something like that. Though it rained a good part of the day, we still had fun and got to see many neat things.

*We had a couple day excursion to the Jim Thorpe area. It was a good way to wrap up the summer all together.

Some things we are looking forward to:

*A vacation out west. Yup, this is my main one. This has been on our family bucket list for years and we decided that this is the year to just do it! The plan is to fly (instead of driving many days cross country), rent a vehicle, and spend most of our time near Zion National Park. We also plan to visit the Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon National Parks, plus maybe a couple of other things. I’m super excited!!

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*Turning 40. This happens in May. Pray for me. My 20’s were terrific, my 30’s have been great, what will the 40’s bring? Who knows?? I don’t really feel “almost 40″…time flies.

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*Having another driver in the house. It terrifies me a little, yet I am ready for someone else to be able to take on chauffer duties a bit. Even if the oldest just drives himself to work and his own activities, that will help.

*Having kids all on the same bus/school schedule. I’ve had approximately one school year where everyone was in the same building, and that year the twins were in half-day kindergarten, so I still had 3 different bus times to worry about. Since then it’s been 4 different bus times. When they hit middle school this fall, everyone will have the same bus time. I may feel like I’ve gained another hour each day! Woo-hoo!

Well, those are the main things, but really, it’s a lot of little everyday things sometimes, isn’t it? I pray that you will have a blessed 2018, full of lots of those moments that bring joy. May you look forward to what the Lord has in store for you this coming year.

 

 

 

Parenting Tales, Points to Ponder

Making Your Home a Refuge

Refuge. That word has been rolling around in my mind for the last several days. It keeps popping up in my thoughts and, though I have not blogged in awhile, I knew I had to write about it.

Here’s what got me started….

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This building in the picture. St. Paul’s Chapel, New York City, NY.

My daughter and I took a bus trip to NYC this past weekend. We visited a lot of the main tourist spots you would likely think of—Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square, Central Park, and so on. But this place, St. Paul’s Chapel, was one of my favorites. I have no explanation why, other than it felt like a place of refuge to me. It was used as a refuge for many on the day of 9/11, plus for rescue workers in the many months following that tragic day. It was used as a center for rest, meals, sanitation, etcetera round the clock. Entering it for the first time almost 16 years later, I could see why it felt like a refuge. For myself and my daughter, hustling around NYC all day, it certainly felt like a refuge as well. It was beautiful, fairly quiet, and not completely humming with activity.

Since then the word refuge has stuck with me, and since I am a Mom, specifically the question, “am I making my HOME a refuge?” I sure hope the answer is yes. You see, we don’t exactly live in a war zone or anything like that. It may seem like quite the opposite, as we live amongst rural, beautiful farmland in a relatively conservative area. However, we aren’t locked up in our own little world all the time. I have a husband who dutifully goes to work every day, providing for our family. My kids all attend public school, plus are involved in other activities. I work part-time, plus attend to the myriad of details that come with running a household of 7. We certainly don’t live in a bubble.

Here’s why I hope my home is a refuge. The world out there can be tough–for the grown-ups as well as the kids. They need somewhere, after a long day at work or at school, to feel like they can rest, be refreshed, be loved, and not feel bombarded by the world. As my kids keep getting older (funny how that happens, eh?) I see the need for them to have a refuge more than ever. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard one of them say after coming in from school, “Oh, I’m so glad to be home!” Or I’ve heard my husband say, “It’s so good to be home.” This is why I’ve made it a point to be home when my older guys get home. Some of the best and most open dialogues we have had is that first hour after school. This is why I try to have a nice cooked meal (and a hug) awaiting my man when he gets home from work. This is why I try to keep things at least semi-organized and not chaotic feeling. There’s enough chaos out in the world, they don’t need it at home too.

Sure, our house is no showpiece. It won’t be on the cover of Better Homes & Gardens any time soon, and that’s okay with me. My crew is comfortable here and they don’t feel like they live in a museum. My kitchen is not perfect, but it’s well used….like, all the time. I’m not serving up gourmet fare, but no one goes hungry and they all seem to enjoy my meals. We’re not always wearing the trendiest outfits and my kids might wear the same three shirts all season long (their choice), but the laundry is kept after and we’re not in debt paying for superficial things we can’t afford. We’re not perfect parents, or even the perfect husband & wife, but we try our best and try to honor God in what we do.

It’s important to me that each child feels unconditionally loved, secure, and refreshed by coming home. Same goes for my husband. My greatest role is still as a Mom and a wife to these precious ones, even though they aren’t exactly little anymore.

Am I making my home a refuge? I hope so. And I hope yours is too.

 

Parenting Tales, Points to Ponder, Uncategorized

The Weight of Words

I should’ve seen the comment coming, but I didn’t.
Usually it happens that way. Sometimes there’s the usual suspects that you can brace yourself for and know something not-uplifting will likely come out of their mouth upon seeing you.
Then there’s the ones that take you by surprise.
Surprise or not a surprise, those words sting. A lot. And it doesn’t matter if you’re 4 years old or pushing 40, they still hurt. If you’re anything like me, though they may have been forgiven decades ago, those words can still smart at the oddest times many years later.
I’ve been wanting to write about the weight of our words for a long time now, but something happened last night that prompted my heart to write about it in a vulnerable way this morning.

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You see, it started like this….
We were up at my parents’ house last evening for a Memorial Day picnic. Things were going fine and we had the surprise of an older gentleman who worked with Jeff and I  years ago showing up to eat dessert and visit with my husband and I and generally catch up with everyone. When he had his visit in, he got up to leave and shook Jeff’s hand, then came over to me for a hug. This older man gave me a long, heartfelt squeeze, then loudly proclaimed, “Boy, I’ve always loved big women.” Everyone laughed. I could feel my cheeks starting to redden, and he went to joke about how my husband must like them too and made a joke about big barns or barn doors or some such nonsense. Everyone seemed amused at his antics. Everyone except me. I think I was a little flabbergasted and most definitely embarrassed. I saved my tears for later on when everyone was in bed and then broke down in front of my poor neighbor at the bus stop this morning.
Why oh why did this affect me so dearly? Especially as a supposedly confident, grown woman now pushing forty? I know I’m not alone. I have tons of sisters out there who have had to deal with similar things throughout their life and I’m sure can testify to how much it hurts.
I’ve never been petite, or svelte and willowy, or lots of the other things our culture reveres as a standard of beauty. Growing up as a tall, big kid, I have always had to field similar comments here and there. I have heard a whole litany of them. I can remember almost every one too. Even if 10 people could tell me they think I’m smart or kind or beautiful, that one comment about my weight or whatever else can easily drag me down in a tailspin and make me stew and generally feel terrible about myself. I could write a whole article (or series) about the topic of weight/size/etc, but I’ll save that for another time.
Here’s what I have to say to everyone—watch your words. Words hurt, even if they weren’t meant in a mean-spirited way. And I’m not just referring to weight, though that is a majorly sensitive one, especially for women. If I’ve gained weight, you really don’t need to tell me. I can assure you that I realize it already and am probably trying to quietly work on it. Though weight is a main one, it can really be anything. Maybe it’s parenting. Or your job status. Or your house. Or name-a-subject. Words are powerful, especially in this day and age where we are bombarded with them. Whether spoken or written, let’s use them wisely.
If you’ve used your words in a way that hurt someone, whether intentionally or no, please consider apologizing to that person. I am far, far from perfect, so I’m sure that I’ve said (or written) my share of hurtful words in the past. I know I have. I apologize to anyone that I may have hurt in this way, truly I do.
Parents, we especially need to watch what we say directly to, or in front of, our kids. You never know what they will hold onto, whether it be good or bad. We have a responsibility to build our kids up, not tear them down. I’m amazed at what my kids remember me saying to them or just in earshot of them. Usually it’s a very humbling experience to hear back what they remember me saying. Though I’m generally one to speak love and encouragement to my kids, I’m far from a perfect parent.

Lord help us all, right?
Lastly, I’m going to address those of us who have been hurt by words from someone else. They may sting for a long time, but let’s try to forgive. We live in a fallen world and these things are going to happen. What’s most important for me to remember is how much God loves me and treasures me. He thinks I’m awesome, no matter how imperfect I may be. And he thinks you are too!
Let’s use our words wisely this week.

Parenting Tales, Uncategorized

Mother’s Day Card Humor

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms, Grandmas, and Moms-to-be out there!

I love Mother’s Day. Not because I get showered with lavish gifts and pampered silly by my family. Um, no….that usually doesn’t quite happen around here (though my husband does typically knock out a lavish breakfast for me, so there is that…).

What I love most about it (besides just spending time with my offspring) is the fun handmade cards I get from my kids. Though I don’t keep every blessed thing they have ever made, I do usually hold onto the Mother’s day cards they make, especially the ones that give me a chuckle.

There’s nothing like a Mother’s Day card made by your child that can either elate you– or deflate you. Or just make you crack up laughing. Their perceptions of me are usually very elevated (usually the younger they are), or sometimes a little too real.

Here are examples from my own kids that I’ve held onto…

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First up is something that I have 5 versions of. We were fortunate enough to have all of our kids attend the same preschool, with a lot of the same teachers along the way. I have one of these from each kid. My hand print with their little hand print inside of it. The text reads “Hand in hand, We will be, Together forever, You & me.” So sweet. I would love to hang all of these up, framed and in an obvious location, but I’m sure it would now embarrass the daylights out of most of them.

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Then there’s this. Though many of their praises involve my cooking for them, according to Joey his favorite thing to do with me is “Go to Burger King.”

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I think this was from two years ago. The school bus was kinda cropped out of the picture, but what you’re seeing is a Mommy heart greeting and hugging her little hearts as they get off the bus. How sweet, right? Well…this is the example of reality mixed with sweetness. If you can read the word bubble, one of my little hearts is immediately asking “what’s for supper?” Absolute truth. This is really what they ask almost every single day as they get home. Though sometimes “What’s for snack?” comes before the supper question. You can see where their priorities lie, right?

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Now we come to the fill-in-the-blank ones. These are usually good.

Though with one like this, it kind of forces them to be sweet. According to this child, I am “pretty as a princess.” Hey, I’ll take it….

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According to the same child, I am as awesome as a police car. I’m not sure what that means, but hey, a little boy thinks police cars are way cool, right?

His twin wrote this…

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I’m also awesome as transformers. For some reason I’m rather glad he didn’t try to depict me as a transformer…probably not a pretty picture…

I don’t have a picture of it, but a couple years ago one of them wrote that “My Mom’s favorite thing to do is _______.” He filled in “laundry.” Maybe because he sees me do it all the time! Oh well, I’m glad they think I like it I guess.

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What you can’t see in the above picture is the wording before my not so great picture. It reads, “My Mom is smart. She knows________.” My son filled in “a lot of health.” I have no clue where or how I know a lot of health, but I guess that’s good???

My most favorite card is an example from my oldest, probably when he was in about first grade. I don’t have the example of this anymore (unfortunately!), but I laughed every stinking time I came across it.

His fill in the blank read as follows: “My Mom is an _________________” He filled in “awsm runr.” Translation=awesome runner. I died laughing when I read it. Dear friends, I don’t run. At all. I like to walk, and I can do so at a pretty brisk pace, but I DON’T run. The same kid wrote that my favorite thing to do was exercise. Um, no….he also wrote that I like to cook rice a lot. Well, apparently I do know “a lot of health,” so there you go!

This year didn’t boast as many cards (yet), but one kid came home with something about how great a driver he thinks I am (no offense, Dad) and that Mom “almost always cooks supper for us.”

Well, I shared some fun little examples of what my children think of me.

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I may not really be the Best Mom Ever (who is?), but I’m just proud to be their Mom.

Parenting Tales

Raising Up a Timothy

Today you can read an oldie but goodie from my archives. I can’t believe I wrote this nearly 4 years ago already!

I recently thought of it again as I got several very sweet, very humbling messages from my 8th grader’s teachers. Basically each of them told me what a great kid he is and what good character he displayed. I as his Mom wasn’t exactly surprised, but it still brought tears to my eyes. (You know, one of those moments where you feel like you really are doing this parenting thing right once in a while?) Another thing that brought this article to mind was a conversation I overheard between two of my other kids. I forget what they were discussing, but it was something they happened to see on TV. Their wording was something like, “well, since I’m a Christian I know better than to believe that…” Then the other child piped up with, “I’m glad we’re Christians. A lot of people aren’t and they fall for other things too easily.”

So, after sharing my something “out of the mouths of babes,” take a gander at this little article I came up with a few years back.

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Of the many, many things I can thank my parents for over the years, one is that they didn’t name me Eunice. Granted, I went through a temporary spell in my preteen years where I didn’t like my name, but have since embraced the name they gave me. Now, I’m not totally knocking the name Eunice. In fact, I’m sure there are some quite wonderful women out there named Eunice. I don’t personally know any, but I can tell you that I’m impressed with a Eunice that lived about 2,000 years ago in a town called Lystra. This Eunice also had a mother named Lois and a son whom you may all have heard of–his name is Timothy. If you’re familiar with some of Paul’s many letters in the Bible, there are 2 books/letters that bear Timothy’s name. This Timothy was a young leader in the early Christian church, a beloved protege to Paul, and the son & grandson to Eunice and Lois.

Why in the world am I choosing to write about these 2 women? Really, we don’t know much about them at all. My research in them has turned up little information as they only are mentioned by name exactly once in the Bible. However, as a mother and a grandmother, their influence was far reaching as they trained up Timothy to be a God-fearing man in a town that was known for worshipping many gods. Here is what the word has to say about these two ladies:
I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you , so that I may be filled with joy. I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1: 3-7 NIV
As a Mom, I am greatly encouraged by these words. You see, I know that one of my most important roles as a mother is nurturing my children not only emotionally and physically, but spiritually as well. I’m also encouraged by the wisdom in Proverbs 22:6: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is not old he will not turn from it.”

You see, the world today may look different from the one Timothy lived in many years ago, but the people really aren’t any different. As I mentioned earlier, Timothy grew up in a town whose people worshipped many gods. I’m sure that Eunice and Lois had moments of great worry, discouragement, and fear for young Timothy growing up in such an environment. However, apparently these women kept on teaching him scripture and about God, and their efforts certainly were not in vain! We too are raising our own “Timothy’s” in a world with many things vying for their attention that are definitely NOT glorifying to God.

So, what’s a Mom (or Grandma) to do? I’m encouraging you today to keep on raising up those little ones in the ways of the Lord. Pray for them. Pray with them. Let them see you learning the Word. Teach them the Word. Worship God together. Be bold and courageous in your beliefs. Strive to be a woman of faith. May God bless you in a special way today as you raise up your own little Timothys.

Parenting Tales, Points to Ponder

Not for the Faint of Heart

Having just celebrated my twin boys’ 5th birthday, I’ve been mulling over some of the things I have experienced since having twins. Now, granted, I was not a parenting veteran when Joey and Josh were born. We had a 5 year old, 3 year old, and a toddler who already broke us in pretty well. However, from that first shocking ultrasound where I saw not one, but two little bodies, we knew we were in for a wild ride. (Check out the back story of our guys here.) And a wild ride it has been–full of ups, downs, and all kinds of craziness, good and bad. Mostly good, just wild and woolly at times. I recall seeing a t-shirt online when I was pregnant with them that read “Experience Wildlife. Raise Twins.” Oh, how true it is. Here are just some quick anecdotes and factoids about my twins. I could tell many, many stories on them, but these are the ones that first pop into mind.

(Warning: If you are easily grossed out, embarrassed, judgemental, prissy, or a germophobe, you may want to skip this post. If not, do read on!)

*When they were @3 and still in diapers, I went out for an evening and left all the kids home with my man. Upon returning, I heard the sound of our washer running, which is not normal at all for nighttime at our house. “Why is the washer running?” I asked my husband. He let out a big sigh. Then he proceeded to tell me that while he was in another room, one of the twins came in and said, “Hey Daddy. I need your help in here.”

“What’s going on?” he asked.

“Well, Joey pooped and I was helping to change him. See…” He walked into our bedroom and saw why help was needed. Let’s just say our bed comforter was in need of some major washing. Apparently one twin was trying to wipe the other one and had poop smeared everywhere. (See, I told you not to read if you are easily grossed out!) Oh, and don’t worry–that comforter is NOT on our bed anymore.

*Right after my guys were born, I quickly learned that you can not discreetly nurse two babies at once. Ever. Especially if you are out and about. I was once nursing them in the front seat of my van, parking at what I thought was far away from other vehicles and using a big blanket to cover up with. Well, some poor guy pulls in right next to my van and happened to look over at the wrong time. One of the boys had grabbed a corner of the blanket and yanked it away from everything. I’m not sure who was more embarrassed. I’m sorry, dear stranger, if you are now scarred for life. By the way, there’s a funny old episode of Friends where Joey (the character, not my son Joey) is visiting someone in the maternity wing of the hospital and happened to accidentally see a woman nursing twins. “It’s like a freak show around here!” he says. Yep, pretty much.

*The first 4 days that they were home from the hospital, they went through 80 diapers. Yes, 80. That doesn’t even count the diapers and pull-ups that our toddler and 3 year old were going through.

*Our twins are very much identical, but there has always been something that has helped us tell them apart. For starters, their head shapes were different. We also left their hospital bracelets on until they had almost outgrown them–Joey’s was on his right wrist and Josh’s was on his left. When we had to cut those off, I painted Joey’s big toenails red for awhile to help me. Once that wore off, I was pretty good at telling who was who.

*Also, when they were a little over a year old, Josh fell off a riding toy and chipped his front tooth. I was devastated, but when I told their Daddy, he said something like, “Good, now I can tell them apart.” Even now our older boys can hardly tell who’s who, but our daughter is usually pretty good at it.

*Besides being nicknamed Joey and Josh, we call our guys “the Bubbas.” We’re so used to it that we don’t even think about it. If our other children mention “the Bubbas” to someone who doesn’t know us well, they usually get a quizzical look. I can see them thinking to themselves, “the Bubbas?” They then explain that “the Bubbas” are their twin brothers. (Yes, we may be just a tad bit redneck around here!)

*In my twin pregnancy, I carried them for 38 weeks. They weighed 6 lb 5 oz and 6 lb 3 oz and were both close to 20″ long.

*A couple of years ago I was brave enough (or crazy enough) to purchase a pool pass and take everyone to the community pool by myself a couple days a week.  One of those days I had taken the youngest three kids in the bathroom with me. Well, the twins locked themselves in one stall and supposedly couldn’t unlock it. I tried and tried to coach them to get it unlocked to no avail. Finally I had to shimmy under the stall door on the skanky bathroom floor to go in and rescue them–in my bathing suit, no less. Since then I have a whole plethora of public bathroom stories where these boys have embarrassed me to some extent.

*This past winter their favorite thing to do right after dinner was run to the downstairs bathroom, strip down naked, and do what they called “the naked parade,” followed by the “butt butt dance.” They even had very choreographed moves and their own music that they made up as they went along. Both of them thought this was hilarious and would laugh wildly as they did their moves. Fortunately they moved on to other things since then.

*We took a little vacation as a family when the twins were one. One night we took the kids to a steakhouse for dinner. They were doing so well and we were so proud of ourselves–that is, until the Big Blowout happened. I went to lift Josh out of his highchair and felt that his back was wet. I looked and saw that he had a huge blowout. So, I grabbed the diaper bag, held him at a distance from my body, and hustled him into the bathroom. I got his nasty outfit off, changed the diaper and wiped him up, put on a fresh diaper, and then went rooting in my bag for a clean outfit. Did I find one? Oh no, I did not. Not even a clean t-shirt or onesie. The only thing I found to wrap him in was his sister’s yellow cropped silk short-sleeve jacket (from her Easter dress outfit), which happened to be in the diaper bag. The poor child–I did take a blackmail picture of him in it, but will not post it here. It’s a real shame. Luckily he was too young to remember it.

*My guys went through another short phase back in the fall that cracked me up. Whenever we were headed anywhere, I would hear one say to the other, “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” It would be followed by the other twin saying, “I don’t know, are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Then they would both laugh like hyenas.

*Since being potty-trained they have discovered how handy it is to pee outside. We’ve been trying to teach them at least some outside pee etiquette (if there is such a thing). Not too long ago they were watching TV and we heard the front door open. Joey was holding the front door open with one hand, peeing outside the door, and had his head turned towards the TV–all so he wouldn’t miss whatever was on TV at the moment. I apologize right now to my poor neighbors who I’m sure have witnessed some of this.

There’s so many more stories I could tell, but I’ll stop there for now. Since having those two we have had our share of heart-warming, scary, funny, cute, gross, and so on. One thing is for sure, though–raising twins is not for the faint of heart!