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Thursday, July 26, 2012


Can't sleep.  Maybe it's because it's 3am and everyone in my family is either watching cartoons or eating...
but it's not. 
Truth is, I've been awake and have had a hard time sleeping the past few nights.

I don't want to be a stay at home mom.
Shocker. Collective gasp.
I want to be a stay at home family.
For the past six months, I have spent every single day with the loves of my life.  Our mornings are spent at the kitchen table laughing and indulging in Rick's homemade biscuits, gravy, bacon, and eggs.  (No wonder I can't lose any weight!!)  We explore our neighborhood on our early morning walks, sometimes getting lost on the side streets.  We take naps in the middle of the day.  Rick and I place the middle cushion of the couch in between us to share.  We take trips to Target, play in the baby pool, and make dance videos.  At night, we watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy.  Rick and I go back and forth about who gets the answers right first.
So many of the things we've been doing have become routine, but they never get old.  The reason they never get old is because we still have the spontaneity of us

As a new school year approaches, I have this sick feeling lurking in the pit of my stomach.  I'm ridden with a lot of anxiety about driving away from my family on that first morning back to school.  

I don't want to leave them.  

And why should I?  They are such a source of joy, love, acceptance, and positivity.  They are so much fun!  In my eyes, they're perfect.  In their eyes, I am.

I equate the feeling to when I was 9 years old and I went to stay the night at a friend's house.  I so vividly remember having to call my mom because I was homesick.  That's exactly what's starting to creep into my thoughts at night as I try to sleep.  It's like I'm a child all over again.
But then, I think about this:
I'm going to be celebrating my 10th year of teaching! That's a milestone...to me.  
In those 10 years, I've been many things to many students.  I look back on the teacher and the person my students have perceived me to be.  One year, a student nominated me for Disney's Teacher of the Year.  I didn't win, but what a huge honor to be nominated!  Another year, I received an award from a student at his church.  Leading this particular annual award ceremony was my 8th grade Social Studies teacher!  A couple of years ago, a student's dad hung a banner from his roof in honor of the year his son had had in my classroom.  Recently, a mother whose older son I had taught, shared that despite having the option to send her youngest son to another school, she didn't move him because she wanted me to be his 4th grade teacher. And then, there's the student who comes back year after year, as her mother patiently waits outside my door, and gets advice on everything from boys to AP classes.  
Who is that teacher?
What did she do that made such a difference?
If I'm going to have to drive away from my family on the morning of August 15th, you had better believe that every second I spend outside of the best place on earth (and no, I'm not referring to Disney!), is going to count.  I want to be the kind of teacher I want my children to have.  I want the parents of my students to see that I value the 7 hours a day their children spend with me.  7 x 180 = a whole lot of hours (sorry, not up for even simple math at 3am, people) to help inspire, shape, love, motivate, and teach a child.  I pray that I am only so lucky to have that kind of teacher for my daughters year after year, that their teachers will realize the extent of the influence they have on my children.

So, as I begin my 10th year of teaching...
As I prepare to start working after the best 6 months of my life...

I'm going to pray that God helps me get in touch with that teacher I want to be.  I'm going to pray that when I feel homesick, He helps me remember that importance of what I'm doing.  I know I'm going to see God this year.  

He hasn't let me down yet...

Not that I think He would.  :) hehe.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Little Girl's Self Image

When I was in middle school, I went through a very awkward stage.  I had glasses and braces and the cruelty of the pre-adolescents around me was, as I look back on it, pretty significant.  I mean, I still remember it after all these years so it's fair to say those hurtful comments have followed me through my adulthood.  For me, one of the saving graces of those hard years was when I got contact lenses.  My glasses were put away and I felt a new confidence.  Since then, I have never gone more than a day or two without my contacts.  They are my vanity crutch.  For 20 plus years, I have associated my glasses with a lot of the hurtful things children said to me in my childhood, therefore, wearing them makes me very uncomfortable.

That's why when the eye doctor told me on Tuesday that I had an eye infection that would render me contact-less for 6 to 8 weeks, I almost cried.  But I didn't...I sucked it up and got over it real fast because...

Did you know that one of the biggest factors impacting a little girl's self image is her mother's own self image and perception of beauty? In other words, if I want Gabriella, Marielle, and Genevieve to have a strong self-image that is capable of conquering the unhealthy images of perceived beauty around them, I have got to (for lack of a better phrase) get it together! I can't afford to let anyone or anything be a bigger influence on how my children feel about themselves than me.  Each time my daughters hear me scrutinize something about my appearance, it sends a message.  Over time, those little messages send bigger messages.  Those bigger messages help shape their self-image. 

It's not just mothers who hold the power, though.  Fathers have a huge influence on how their daughters feel about themselves, too.  Fathers have to make a conscious effort to think about what messages they send about women to their daughters.  It's no coincidence that Gabriella's face lights up when Rick tells her she's beautiful.  Seeing all the ways Rick can find beauty in the women around him is shaping the image Gabriella has of herself. 

Five years ago, if faced with the same glasses wearing 'sentence' I would have come up with a variety of excuses to keep me from being in public.  Not this time around, though!  I can't let my own discomfort send any little messages to my girls.  So, I'm rockin' the glasses!  In fact, I asked Gabriella how I looked in my glasses and she said, "Mommy, you look beautiful!"  

You know what?  She's right.  I do!

Thank you, God, for letting me find You in my beauty.  Because of that, I hope GG and the twins will see You in their's.


And since we're on the topic of beauty, a few pictures of GG putting on her chapstick or "liptik!"

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Just Us

If you read my previous post, you knew that my and Rick's anniversary was approaching.  On Saturday, we made our 24 hour getaway and celebrated eight years like it had only been one.  

However, to celebrate our actual anniversary day, I HAVE to tell you what Rick did!  I don't want it to seem like I'm bragging, but it really was the adventure of a lifetime!  First of all, he whisked me away on a PRIVATE jet to Napa Valley.  Rick has a friend who was doing business in the area and said we could join his caravan to California.  We had ONE day to pack in as much excitement as we could!  When we arrived, we started touring the vineyards immediately!  Rick had arranged for private tastings at some of the area's best locations.  The highlight was when we had dinner in the middle of the most amazing vineyard I had ever seen.   On our little picnic blanket, we listened to our own harpist and watched the sunset in between the vines around us.  
It was amazing...

Ha!  I'm sure some special couple spent their anniversary this year in a very similar and romantic manner, but it sure wasn't us!  I'm sure they were sipping the finest wine, watching the most spectacular sunset, but again, that sure wasn't us!  Instead...

Rick and my dad worked for 6 hours to mount our new television on the wall.  This was a painstakingly difficult task because the space above our fireplace is open.  They had to build some sort of super concoction to hold the mount and TV.  All this because our ever-growing family needs more space in our newly arranged living room.  :)

While Rick and my dad were working so hard, I was working on my own special project: a collage of pictures and wall signs.  I've been wanting to do it forever and finally got around to it!  I l.o.v.e this wall because each picture and sign was so carefully chosen as I wanted each to be a reflection of our family.

And finally, there was Chinese food and a dance party.  I put the self-timer on for some of the pictures because, sometimes, I don't feel like being behind the camera...I want to be included in the memory my family is making.  :)

So, that's it.  
No jet.
No wine.
No sunset.
No harp.
Just giggles.
Just random 80's and 90's music on On-Demand.
Just fried rice and lo-mein noodles.
Just us.
My hope for you is that when you take away the fancy shmancy extras of life, the us that you're left with is enough to rival any other experience.  

I see God in the 'just us' of my family.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Rick and I Exchanged Letters

Some couples exchange gifts on their wedding day.  Rick and I exchanged letters.  

Right before I walked down the aisle, each of us received a letter from the other to mark the occasion.  Since then, it has been our tradition to exchange a letter every year on our anniversary.

Sometimes, there's a theme to the letter.  

Other times, it's just whatever we feel like writing.

Every year, we read all of the previous letters before we share the most current.  I know that traditional and modern society have a list of gifts it is appropriate to give: paper, clocks, bronze, linen, china, crystal, flowers, etc.  We tried following this on our first anniversary, but somehow the letters meant so much more.  Now, we don't even pretend that we're going to give each other anything.   Instead, we spend our money on something that will help us make a memory and...

we give each other the letter.

As we prepare to celebrate our anniversary next week, I went ahead and started looking for the letters. You'd think we would keep them in the same safe place, but they tend to move around from year to year.  This year, I couldn't help myself and started reading the letters early, all by myself.  


Wedding Day...
"Anyway, you know I love you and we're only hours away from being married.  Just imagine life with your best friend..." -Rick
"So as we begin this journey together, I promise to try and never let you down, to always make you laugh, and to stay by your side until your dying day.  I will never leave you..." -Me

1 Year Anniversary, Theme: Top 10 Reasons I Love You...
"10. And last but not least, you're a hottie!" -Rick
"8. singing and laughing..." -Mary

2 Year Anniversary...
"Every day we spend together, I thank God for..." -Rick
"It feels me with such pride to tell someone that you are my husband..." -Mary

5 Year Anniversary...
"Now we bring this little wonder into the world after 5 years of marriage...with the love and caring that both of us show, we can make our family complete..."  -Rick
"We still laugh and sing and play!  I thought those things would end eventually, but they haven't."  -Mary

7 Year Anniversary...
"You truly do complete me and I cannot wait to see what our future holds..."  -Rick
"Nothing comes close to making this, what we have, seem anything less than extraordinary. Life with you is enough.  It will always be enough."  -Mary

The last sentence in my letter last year:
"I can't wait to see what this next year has in store."

Two weeks later, we found out I was pregnant.  Eight weeks after that, we found out we were having twins.


I think the reason I cherish the letters so much is because they're the tangible part of our history together that won't ever let me forget what we've been through. 
When we wrote those very first letters to each other, we didn't have a clue about where life was going to lead us.  Come to think of it, we still don't.  The only thing we really know is where we've been and where we are.
We don't know where we're going... 
What I do know is that wherever I am going, I want to go there with Rick.

So, cheers to another year...
I see God in the letters that represent each precious year of my marriage.


Monday, July 2, 2012

The Chaos of Now

Gabriella had been down for a nap.  After about an hour, I heard her usual cries and yells that let me know she wanted me to come get her.  Typically, I like her to have some independent time when she first gets up, so I try not to run at her first attempt.  Well, she was yelling.  Probably the usual, "Mommy, come get me!"  The twins were getting fussy at this same time so I needed to tend to them, as well.  In addition, it was the hottest day of the year and Rick was outside washing the car with no sunscreen.  I, of course, had to go outside and let him know that he had to put some on before he got skin cancer on his head!  All the while, Gabriella was yelling.

When I finally made it up to her room and listened outside of her door, I didn't hear the familiar calling.  Instead, "Mommy, I poo-poo'd and my diaper came off!"  


The thought of the mess awaiting me behind that closed door had me thinking about whether I really even wanted to go in there.  You know, I could just go back outside, pretend I didn't hear anything and have Rick go upstairs to get his darling daughter.  Is that bad?!

But...I took one for the parental team and charged inside only to find Gabriella in tears holding onto the fasteners of her diaper.  She hadn't let it fall!  She had held that diaper up, avoiding what could have been the yuckiest mess of all time!  She looked at me and whimpered, "Look Mommy!  I held my diaper so it don't come off."  As I took her to the changing table praising her, she continued, "And I didn't touch my poo-poo Mommy!  And I didn't EAT it!!  Can I have a Happy Meal?"  She was so genuinely proud of herself and so was I.  And now that I'm relaying the story to you, I'm about to actually write something I never thought I'd write in a million years:
I was so proud of my daughter for not eating her poo-poo.

That, my friends, is crazy.


The reactions people have when they see our family has twins and a 2 1/2 year old varies.  Some people light up, like they would with any children.  Some people share about their great uncle's best friend's wife, who also had twins.  Some people ask if Marielle and Genevieve are identical.  Some people ask what kind of big sister Gabriella is.

Some people (more than you might think), in a most exasperated voice, sigh, roll their eyes and talk about how we must not get any sleep (and they say it in a way like they secretly hope we aren't).  They declare how hard our lives must be...how full our hands are kept...and how if we can just ride out the next few years (some have said up to the age of 21!), everything will all be better.  One lady actually said she felt sorry for us! 

This reaction hurts my feeling the most.  

Granted, it is crazy around here, but not so much that it isn't fun.  Our hands are full, but not so full that we would, for one second, wish part of it away.  I don't want to wait in anticipation of a calmer, easier time because there's so much fun to be had in the chaos of now.  I mean, after all, I never thought I'd find such pride in my daughter's poo-poo eating restraint. 

The bottom line is, if you see us out and I look frazzled or the babies are crying or we're pushing two carts through the grocery for only a loaf of bread and milk...

Don't feel sorry for us.

Don't encourage us to wish this time away.

Don't tell us it will get better.

We're livin' the good life...as crazy as that may seem!
And no picture could say it better than the one below!! ha!

I see God in the crazy details that make my life with three children under 2 1/2 so unpredictable.