Wait! What?!! 21 years ago today?!

Twenty-one years ago today the birth of our twin boys began a journey for all of us that would create a family. We would make memories, laugh and cry, hope and despair, hug and fight, play and work, worship and question, celebrate and comfort, support and encourage always, love unconditionally.  And go to many many baseball games, cross-country and track meets, field trips, class parties, band and chorus concerts and swim meets too!  All good things . . . all good things . . .

I can remember so many details about the boys’ first few weeks at home — like skinny little chicken legs, raspy newborn cries, lots (and I mean lots!) of diapers, night blurring into day and back again, then smiles and eventually laughs, eating – – lots of eating! We were so proud of our baby boys – what a gift we had received from God!  What a new appreciation we had for our parents!

With the help of our families, our sleep and sanity were restored after some time.  They helped us through the bumpy first months and we all thrived on their love.  The fear of the unknown and being first-time parents eventually began to balance out and we found a new rhythm to our days – – our life as a family.  We joyfully added to our family with the birth of our daughter six and a half years later.

And here we are today – 21 years later – a stronger family for the things we have been through together, grateful for the memories we have made and looking forward to making many more.  We are still so proud of our boys – – they have grown into independent, generous, loving and strong young men.  We continue to transition through life; and we know there will be challenges ahead, but two things remain constant – – we have our faith and we have each other no matter what – – after all, isn’t that what being a family is all about?

Happy 21st Birthday, Jonny & Joseph!

J and J April 2014

I am blessed and honored that God chose me to be your Mom!
I love you forever! XO

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Occupation and Industry?

Occupation-IndustryHow does any mom answer this question?  Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or you work outside the home, you’re always and forever a mom!

I was filling out some forms recently when I came across a field to enter my occupation.  I wanted to enter “Professional Mom.”  In the past, I might have joked about being a “Domestic Goddess,” but seriously all that the role of a Mom encompasses should not be ridiculed.  There are many occupations a Mom fulfills such as comforter, nurturer, diaper-changer, baby feeder (this was my job the summer of 7th grade at a neighbor’s who had infant twins), nurse, chauffeur, advocate, meal planner, Room Mom, cheerleader (even at sporting events when it’s 50 degrees and raining) healer of hurt bodies and hearts, playmate, confidante . . . . this is just the tip of the iceberg –- not nearly enough room on the form to describe the occupation of a Mom, so I guess Professional Mom will have to suffice.  Even though I work part-time at home now that my kids are older, I still feel like my “Mom” role is my true vocation.  It’s an ever-changing, ever-evolving role that has taught me more about myself and life than I could ever have imagined.

And when it comes to the question of industry?  I’d like to fill in the blank with “LIFE,” specifically the Department of Raising Children (to be compassionate, responsible and generous adults who will make the world a better place).  Unfortunately, all that won’t fit on the form.

I just want to acknowledge Moms for all they selflessly do for their kids and families.  We may never know how far-reaching our love is, but we always know it’s the most important thing!

A Card Table and a Blanket

I’m trying really hard not to complain – – really, I am – – but this winter will not end!  The temperature has not gone above 30 in several weeks – yikes!  It’s going to feel downright balmy when we hit 40 degrees.  I’m almost giddy just thinking about it.  The sun is feeling warmer these days, and I just know we’re going to turn the corner soon – – right?  RIGHT??!

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We had a winter like this 20 years ago when J & J were babies. Being my first winter as a stay-at-home mom, cabin fever would set in often.  I would bring my double stroller into the house, bundle babies in snowsuits, cover the stroller with warm blankets and head out the door.  Sometimes is was only a 20-minute walk – – shorter if the neighbors had not shoveled their sidewalks.  But it made all the difference to my day – – just a bit of fresh air and exercise not only made me feel like I had accomplished something, but I just felt better!

When the boys were toddlers and in pre-school, the blanket fort saved many a day!   All we needed was a card table (or two chairs back to back) and a blanket – – sometimes there would be a picnic, sometimes special stories or coloring and maybe a nap (if I was lucky). Hanging out in there was an adventure.

A blanket fort is magical!  It can distract even the crabbiest little one and save a mom’s sanity.  (Totally worth the mess vs. reward in my opinion.) Besides, any reason to act like a kid again is good for me 🙂  The forts became quite elaborate as the boys got older – – often they would use just about every blanket, sheet and cushion they could find – – sometimes duct tape too!  I knew I could count on some peace and quiet when a fort was in progress, and sometimes the fort would stay up for several days becoming a home unto itself.

Blanket Fort

Two by Two

I started buying things in “twos” almost immediately after finding out I was having twins. It was a new way of thinking for me, and ironically it continues today. It probably started with things like animal crackers and juice boxes. I had to be sure to have the same item for each boy or risk a TT (temper tantrum). I couldn’t bear the thought that things would be unfair (gasp!).

I was grocery shopping last week and realized after 20 years I am still thinking in “twos.” Grocery shopping is not on my list of favorites, and I will often put it off until I absolutely must go. Then I find myself buying things in twos (maybe this is my subconscious taking over to prevent me from having to shop again soon).

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While I was standing in a very long line waiting to check out I started to analyze just how much time and energy grocery shopping really takes. I had to do something to entertain myself while my frozen items slowly defrosted. I figured out there are six actions for every item I put in my cart! Imagine you are a box of cereal – first I put you in my cart, then load you onto the belt, then you go back in the cart, then into the car, then into the house and finally into the cabinet. This must happen with every item I purchase! Now if you take into account that it’s snowing, the wind is blowing 40mph, and I have purchased two of many items, I think it’s safe to say this counts as my aerobic exercise for the day (maybe even for a couple days!). Imagine if I was getting paid to do this! I could be in the Bahamas right now – Ha!

A Culture of Life

I was five years old when the Supreme Court ruled on the issue of abortion – too young to understand until I reached my teen years.  Roe v. Wade. I listened to a broadcast today by Focus on the Family which includes audio of some of the actual court proceedings from 1973.  It is well worth 25 minutes of your time.  If you haven’t guessed by now by reading my blog, I am a Catholic/Christian and I believe that life begins at conception.  I recently learned about a program supported by Focus on the Family called Option Ultrasound.  This program helps women in crisis SEE, BELIEVE and CHOOSE LIFE for their precious preborn babies!  Remember how much more bonded you felt with your babies when you saw the first ultrasound?  This program has saved an estimated 230,000 lives over the last 10 years!

It saddens my heart that many young girls and women are convinced that the “easy” thing to do is terminate a pregnancy.  Many women are desperate for a solution to an unexpected pregnancy and so they must make a choice.  Why must the choice be between life and death?  I have been blessed to have cousins, nieces & nephews, in-laws and many friends who were adopted, and I am grateful that my life has been enriched because someone I will never know chose life for their unborn children. To learn more, I encourage you to read/share The Sanctity of Life – a great resource for all stages of life from the womb to the tomb.

Upon reflection today, I realize how blessed I have been to carry and give birth to three beautiful children – my twin sons and my daughter.  Parenting isn’t easy; it’s downright scary at times. But it also gives us beautiful moments and opportunities to grow and reflect God’s love back to our children. He gives us the grace to do the best job we can. There is no greater honor than witnessing God’s creative handiwork!

A dear friend of ours lost her 84 year-old mother this week.  This woman was truly a “voice for life,” and her legacy will live on through her 10 children, 65 grandchildren and 30 great-grandchildren.  She was a beautiful, faith-filled woman who trusted God and loved her family.  Just to be around her made me feel closer to God.  Whenever I saw her she made me feel important and was interested in my family – an awesome trait that she has passed along to all her children.  She and her husband were a beautiful witness to the value and dignity of all human life.

We’re Rich with Snow!

The holidays wore me out – – honestly!  The snow and the record-breaking cold have forced me to slow down for a couple days and I am grateful.

I took the kids sledding last week (yes, the 20-year-old boys and their girlfriends and my 14-year old daughter!) and it brought back some great memories.  I even bravely went down the hill once.  Since I didn’t get hurt or wet my pants, I decided not to tempt fate and just enjoy watching.   I had the same sense of delight seeing them have fun now as I did when they were little.  I was happy to see that they are still kids at heart, and I hope for them that never goes away!

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I remember the days it took at least 30 minutes to dress both boys to go out to play – – snow pants, then boots, then mittens (mittens first so the cuffs would be under the coat sleeves), then coats, hats and scarves.  “Let’s build a snowman!” I would say with great enthusiasm.  They would be excited about that for about 5 minutes before they would become distracted by their footprints or how far they could throw the snow or what the snow tasted like (no yellow snow, please!!).  I would find myself crawling around the yard rolling up a snowman because we had to have something to show for our outing.  Jonny enjoyed tossing the snow up in to air and yelling, “We’re rich with snow!”  I have never forgotten his simple joy that day.

Inevitably and all too soon, one of the boys would need to go potty or lose a glove or a boot, and I would hustle them into the house looking like powdered-sugar covered donuts.  I learned quickly to have an empty laundry basket near the door to catch all the snowy gear, which would eventually make its way to the dryer.  Then it was off to get dry clothes and a meal or snack and then hopefully a nap!  Two hours of work for 20 minutes of fun!  When your kids are small, that’s about all you can expect.  The older they got, the fun lasted longer and I could watch them from the window.  If I was lucky, I could get them to shovel the driveway with the promise of hot chocolate when they came in.  I’m so glad I was able to play with them and teach them how to have fun– to be “rich with snow.”

Sometimes I long for those days – – I no longer stand at the window to watch them play and build snowmen in the yard.  Now I stand at the window to wave as they drive off in their cars.  I pray for their safety and their safe return home . . . and I remember we are indeed “rich with snow” and many other blessings.

RED and BLUE

Red-Blue StockingsWhen our boys were born, there were not the choices of clothing for babies and toddlers that there are today.  It was pretty much primary colors for boys and that was it.  So . . . we often dressed the boys in red and blue – – red for Joseph because he had dark hair and blue for Jonny because it brought out the blue in his eyes.  I’m not sure when it became consistent, but when the 2-year old neighbor next door started calling them “Red” and “Blue” instead of using their names, I realized how often I dressed them that way.  It was easier to keep track of what belonged to which boy.  Even though they weren’t identical, the people who didn’t see them very often began to count on recognizing them by the color they wore, too.  Funny how these things happen without us even realizing.

Their first Easter, I spent naptimes and stayed up late every night for a week to finish knitting them Red & Blue sweaters.  I didn’t have much that was predictable during those days, but Red & Blue was the one thing that was consistent, so I went with it.  When you’re raising twins, anything that simplifies life is helpful!  They wore Red & Blue windbreakers and winter coats (I loved Land’s End!) for years, and I could look out the window and see who was where in a split second without even seeing their faces.  As they got older and started choosing their own clothes, they were highly amused when I would call them by the wrong name because they switched colors on me.  I still call them by the wrong name once in a while, and it has nothing to do with the color they are wearing now – – ha ha!

Joseph’s favorite color is still red – – the first car he bought was red!  Jonny (the artist in the family) has branched out a bit and really likes all colors, but blue still brings out the blue in his eyes.  Their stockings are – – you guessed it – – Red & Blue!  I guess they’re stuck with those for a while, but they don’t seem to mind.

Don’t Forget the Baby!

All the controversy about Santa and Elf on a Shelf swirling around on the internet, Facebook and the blog world has been curiously interesting and disturbing to me.  I understand every family has their own beliefs and traditions – – that’s the beauty of living in a free country. And just for the record, my kids did believe in Santa (gasp!).  But what about the baby?  There would be no Christmas without the baby.

When I was a child, one of the ways my siblings and I got ready for Christmas was to make a Baby Jesus Blanket.  It was a weaving of construction paper strips with a space for each day from December 1 to December 25.  We would choose our own colors and fringe the edges and then tape them to our bedroom door.  Our mission was to put together a “blanket” of love to give to the baby Jesus on Christmas day.

Baby Jesus Blanket

We could earn a shiny star each day for doing something special for someone, helping out at home, showing a small (or big) kindness at school to a teacher or student – – basically acts of love for other people.  It helped us to remember that Jesus came out of love for us – – what better gift could we give Him than showing love, too?!

I continued this tradition with my kids when they were young, and I hope they will do the same someday with their families.  They were always excited to bring their blankets to the manger on Christmas Day and give Baby Jesus their gift.  I hope this tradition helped them to realize that the Baby Jesus was the most important part of Christmas.

For old times’ sake, I made a blanket for myself this year (pictured).  It’s helping me keep things in perspective.

Please . . . Don’t Forget the Baby!

 

Giving Thanks

Giving Thanks

I remember the first time we packed up our baby boys to visit our families for Thanksgiving.  Both sets of our parents lived in the same town about 30 minutes away.  We were confident that we could visit both houses in one day (ok, stop laughing).  The planning and packing actually started the day before and the diaper bag  was filled to overflowing:  diapers, wipes, toys, teething rings, baby food, sippy cups, bibs, TWO extra sets of clothes, bottles, burp diapers, pacifiers, blankets, pjs, etc., etc., etc.  That was just the diaper bag!  We also brought along both high chairs and a playpen.  Oh, and a jello mold and a pumpkin pie.

This all made its way into the trunk of a two-door 1985 Pontiac Grand Prix, thanks to the most amazing packing skills of my husband.  By the time we dressed ourselves and put both boys in their snowsuits and loaded their car seats, we had been getting ready for about 2 hours.  I realized their only nap would probably be in the car once we hit the tollway.  I was wearing out, and we hadn’t even left the house yet!  But, never fear!  The Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles were waiting with hugs and kisses and warm shoulders for my little guys to lay their heads on!  No one even minded getting drooled on!  Somehow, we pushed aside our exhaustion and made it to both houses, and the boys thrived on all the love and attention.  We knew the next day would be tricky getting them back on schedule, but it was totally worth it to see how much joy two little baby boys could bring to our families.  It was just so good to be together.  It doesn’t seem so long ago that we celebrated our first Thanksgiving as a family, but here we are already.  On Thanksgiving morning, the boys ran in a Turkey Trot fund-raiser (as they have for several years) to fight hunger – I’m a proud mama! No, I did not make them wear matching hats!  That was all them ;).

J J ThanksgivingNow that Thanksgiving is over, I want to hang on to a thankful spirit throughout the Christmas season.  The hustle and bustle seems to rush over me, and I just want to hold it off and bask in the Thanksgiving peacefulness a little longer. I am so thankful for all our family and friends who have walked along with us on this parenthood journey.  It’s easy to remember the good times, but it’s the challenging times that teach me the true lessons of motherhood and help me remember to be thankful for all the good I am blessed with in this life.  Join me in holding on to gratitude in the weeks to come!

I Made Ice Cubes!

Making ice cubes was my big accomplishment one day about 4 weeks after I delivered my twin boys.  I know it sounds ridiculous, but anyone who has ever taken care of two (or more) newborns can understand how even the smallest tasks can seem monumental when you are sleep deprived!

We were very fortunate to have lots of help from our family for the first few weeks.  But, eventually, everyone had to get back to their jobs – – especially Daddy whose family had doubled in size!  So, I was on my own when I realized we were out of ice cubes (gasp!).  It was June!  I was nursing and needed to drink a lot of fluids!  Who wants room temperature beverages when it’s 85 degrees?  So I added it to my to-do list for the day. My to-do lists for the last several months had all been baby related and because I spent two months on bed rest, they really weren’t even my to-do lists.  They were more like honey-do lists.  The things I used to do BB (before babies), including making ice cubes, were starting to come back to me.  I was finding a new rhythm to my days.

By the time Joe came home from work (my favorite hour of the day for many years!), I had two relatively happy, fed, clean, diapered and dressed little boys and fresh ice cubes.  Nevermind that I was still in my pjs, hadn’t washed a single dish or done a load of laundry all day.  “I made ice cubes today!” I proudly announced.  Thankfully, Joe knew to respond with enthusiasm and great appreciation.  Somehow, we still seem to run out of ice cubes (no automatic ice-cube maker in this 22-year old fridge!) and the kids will actually argue over who is going to make them.  “Not to worry,” I say!  “I know the recipe by heart!”  (Can you hear their eyes rolling?)

Being 100% responsible for two tiny babies can be overwhelming even for the most organized, disciplined person.  I learned to take one day at a time – – sometimes one hour at a time – – sometimes one ice-cube tray at a time.