Sunday, August 31, 2008


I woke up to feed Lily at 6:15a.m. and was glued to MSNBC and the reports on the conditions of Cuba and neighboring Caribbean territories, Hurricane Gustav, and our own coastal states such as Louisiana.  I am speechless and terrified for these people.  Millions are being forced to evacuate their homes, leaving behind photographs, furniture, and their homes.  We try to live our lives, hopefully, bearing in mind that "things" are not what matter but what about when this means that everything you own will perish?  I shudder to think about making the decision to leave behind such invaluable things in my home such as my great great grandmother's painting and living room furniture that has been passed down to family members for generations.  Of course family is what matters most and also pets.  Thankfully this go around the residents of New Orleans are allowed to carry on their pets to make the trip on public transportation but it doesn't mean that they are being taken to some place comfortable.  The old, the sick, the children... how will this affect them?  It is a sad and dreary contemplation of our brother and sisters and what they are about to go through.  I am already asking mysellf, "Lord, what can I do to help?"

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Heck Yes Saturday

I slept until 9:30a.m.
My Love prepared bacon, eggs, hash brown casserole, and coffee flavored with Tiramasu creamer just for me and kissed me real good in the kitchen this morning.
My babies are AMAZING.
We are going to watch The Bucket List after breakfast.
A good friend is in town for dinner tonight.
And Alabama Football starts tonight at seven.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Who Elected Me?

To Have Twins?
God or Science?

A little bit of both I think.
People ask me if I was taking fertility when we conceived two babies.  No.
People ask me do twins run in the family.  Yes.  Nick and I have great grandparents on both sides that were twins.  I guess it was bound to happen, biologically.
But there has to be a deeper and more divine reason that I had twins.  Not because I am a "super mom" - this is my first time being a mother and I am no better at this than anybody else. There are lessons to be learned among singleton parents and mothers of multiples.  For me the lesson is to be comfortable with imperfections and to know that even abiding the most rigorous schedule will have it's surprises.
I'll steal a line from Stephanie, "to outrun the feeling of being needed beyond my ability to give" is impossible, but manageable.

The past two days, the twins have "woken up."  They need a little more than just a diaper change and a feeding before drifting back to sleep.  They need to see me and hear me.  They need to be held, stroked, sung to.  I can do this but at times it is very difficult when there are two lives to mold, not just one.  To tend to one infant can mean to neglect the other.  This is where the concept of "taking turns" comes into play.  My girls are learning this at a very young age.  Harper came with a partner.  Lily came with a partner.  
Did you know that babies can get bored?  Keeping them in the same spot all day, even if they are just sleeping, is not good.   So we have "stations" now.  The crib.  The boppy.  The swing.  The packnplay.  Mommy and Daddy's bed for tummy time.  Keeping them in a rotation seems to help their boredom and maximize nap times.
I am thankful that I have a husband who reminds me that just because they cry doesn't mean that I am a bad mom.  I myself told him when they came home not to be frustrated or feel the need to "bounce" them if they cry because it is their only language right now - let's listen.   But somehow I forgot that over the past couple of days.  I am learning it all over though and I am sure the minute I think I am getting the hang of things another growth spurt will come along and they will change the language again.   But I am here to listen and learn.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

What's Going on In My Neck of the Woods

Wow last nights storm was really something.  Winds knocked down a few branches in our backyard as well as a section of fence between us and our neighbor's house.  Ali took it upon herself to explore the uncharted land and mark it.  These particular neighbors complained to us once when we mowed a small section of their grass so needless to say I'll be wondering over with a Publix bag in a little while to confiscate any incriminating fertilizer.

Saturday was just the kind of day we needed at the Casa de Mielke.  After the 6a.m. feedings I was able to sleep late until 9.  After brunch I "tackled" a few chores that needed to be done a long time ago.  I sorted and organized the linen closet.  I put the old ragged towels in the laundry room to be used as mess cleanup rags and I color coordinated the "nice towels" and placed them on assigned shelves along with bed linens.  Then I moved onto the laundry room which I am pretty sure had not been cleaned or swept since before we moved in last April.  I used hot rags to collect and remove the millions of lent balls that had cemented themselves to the dryer and sorted through and reorganized the two shelves - compartmentalizing such bins as the tool box, bug killer/sunscreen, misc. box, and paint/putty/and picture hanging wire box.  Finally I swept and mopped the floors.  Then it was onto the master bathroom where I stripped the counter tops of all the clutter and proceeded to scrub and Windex and made it shine brand new.  THE SHOWER... TILE shower needed a lot of hands and knees scrubbing.  I have never been able to clean the tile and grout up to satisfaction until yesterday.  CLR, my friends, actually works.  Spray, walk away, scrub, then rinse with cold water.  You can notice the results immediately and the best part is the solutions keeps working even when you are done.  Our case was so severe that I will need to do this again and again over the next couple of days to see it look brand new and then do weekly follow up cleanings to maintain.  Not too much to ask.  BBC's "How Clean is Your House" really has some helpful tips such as taking a toothbrush and any baking soda toothbrush to the grout which I tried and found works pretty well too... this also leaves behind a nice minty aroma when you are finished.  The rest of the house would have to wait till today because after you clean a bathroom you immediately want to get back in the shower and clean yourself.

Dinner.  Hot, gooey, Southern, delicious.   I looked up a recipe in a family cook book my mom gave me for Christmas one year and decided to try Beef Tips on rice.  Easy recipe:
2lbs. of sirloins beef, cut into 1 inch cubes
Mix 1tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, 1/2 tsp. paprika, 2 tbsp. flour in a large plastic bag or tupperware, add beef and shake.
Heat 2 tbsp. vegetable oil in a large soup pot and add seasoned beef, cook till brown and one large chopped onion till soft. 
Add 1 beef boullion cube to 3/4 cups boiling water and add to beef in pot.
Add broth to seasoned beef and onion, cover, and simmer for 2 hours and serve over rice.
(we wanted a thicker gravy so we SLOWLY added one more tablespoon of flour to the hot mixture and whisked until desired consistency)

We also had greens beans and then Ben and Jerry's icecream.  We started "21" the movie but I feel asleep and zombie crashed into the bed at midnight until the babies woke up at 3a.m.

I actually slept until 10 because Nick so generously took over until I got up.
Today has it's own events in which to look forward to; more on that to come.
Happy Sabbath!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Ali, I Don't Think We are in Alabama Anymore...

Is it really only 78 degrees outside... in August... in Alabama???
Wow.  It feels really really good.  I think we sort of deserved to have a summer like this one bearing in mind the extreme heat and humidity we suffered through last summer.  October is my favorite month of the year and I think maybe just maybe we might have the kind of fall perfect for jeans, flip flops, and my favorite long sleeve t-shirt!

Glamourous Maple
Every leaf, star of the show.
Let greens turn to gold.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

End of Something Good and on to Something Else That is Good

So I debated to blog about this topic, breast milk, and decided to go ahead with it since it is a very real and the most current topic on my mind lately.  

With some regret we have decided that it is time to switch to formula feeding for Harper and Lily.  They have been feeding exclusively on breast milk for 3 months and it has been my utmost joy to provide this nutrition for them.  Since I began pumping on May 15th I have become a more conscious consumer of food and beverage knowing that each nutrient that I put in my body would be converted into nourishment for my children.  I developed a love for whole fruit smoothies, spinach, grilled fish, and continued taking my prenatal vitamins.  Setting aside time to pump, approximately 20 minutes every 3-4 hours, was at times inconvenient but again, being  reminded of the benefits for the babies encouraged me onward.  However, lately I simply have not been able to keep up with them.  I had surgery to remove a benign breast cyst when I was in high school and as a result was not able to express milk on my right breast so essentially I was only able to produce half of what they needed.  Also, because the babies were in the hospital for two months and bottle fed I was not able to actually nurse which means that any attempts to nurse since we have been home has ended in irritated, tired, hungry babies and a disheartened mommy who gave into the bottle and said, "fine, it'll do."  We started them on Enfimil "Gentle-ease" formula a couple of nights ago and I was pleasantly surprised when the girls did not even flinch at the changeover.  If they haven't noticed any changes in taste maybe this will be easier than I thought.  Instead of taking 3 ounces of breast milk they are feeding on an ounce of formula every 3-4 hours.  I guess this is because formula is a little "heavier" than breast milk and fills them up faster.  Also, they spit up more and haven't been having as many poopy diapers.  Other than that everything seems to be fine for them.

It is a strange emotion letting "the milk dry up."  For the past three months I have worked really hard and sacrificed a lot of time to pump for them.  While they were in the hospital it was the only thing I could physically do for them that made me feel good about their weight gain and development of immunity and antibodies.  Pumping has become a part of me and I know that sounds strange but it is kind of like getting a drastic haircut - Maybe you have waited a long time to see how long you can grow your hair and then all of a sudden you just want to chop it and you are excited for the change but nervous at the same time because you worry that you won't like it.  I am excited to be done with pumping... I look forward to taking a nap or going to bed at night knowing that if the babies sleep for 6, 7, 8 hours so can I because I don't have to wake up to a full aching breast.  I can have company over to my house or go someplace else and not have to make a plan for when I can pump and how I can store the milk if I am not home.  On the other hand I am just nervous to let it go because I wonder in my head, "did they get everything that they needed from me?" and also I think I will feel responsible and guilty if they experience any gas pains and/or constipation from the formula.  What does make me feel a lot better is the fact that I trust Nick and his opinion is that it is time to switch to formula for a lot of good and justified reasons.  I know that if he had any reservations he would say so and I would still be pumping.

So this week I'll return the Medela Symphony to Storkland and put the rental fee of $54 per month towards formula which is so expensive by the way!  $23 a can for the kind our pediatrician recommended.  Target makes it's off-brand for half the price of the brand name so we absolutely will be switching to Target formula before the week is over!  And the good news is milk comes back with every pregnancy so "next time" when there is just one baby to feed I can experience breast feeding entirely differently and know what to expect!  

So, there will be no crying over a little dryed up milk.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Let's talk about it.

Health Insurance is a topic that seems to be coming up lately.  Campaigns, new jobs, life decisions.  All people need it, few can afford it, more people do not have any at all.  

It seems that a country so resourceful, where people walk right by loose change lying on the ground, should be able to meet the people's health needs.  However, lately I have heard some real horror stories about the costs of insurance and where the money is really going.  The purpose of insurance is to guarantee that should something go wrong you have sufficient means to an end, right?  If the deductible is as high at $1500 in some cases and a single visit to the emergency room can start at $1000 isn't that unfortunate?  

The cost of single coverage may not be so bad but for anyone wanting to start a family and not being able to afford health and supplemental insurance really makes for a "catch-22."  I mean it is really sad when one's insurance premiums make up a third of one's annual salary!  This is much more common among employees of small businesses which is ironic to me because it seems like Americans are really given a bad rap for being a nation of consumers and told that we should buy local... support small, private, family owned businesses right?  It is the middle class hardworking Americans working 9-5 with little or no thanks that are struggling to make ends meet due to high insurance premiums and ridiculous taxes (but I won't go there).

I am grateful that I work for the city and therefore have cheaper insurance premiums than most people.  TRUST ME I am grateful.  Grab a chair and sit down because I am about to tell you the total cost of my stay in the hospital plus the birth and care costs for Harper and Lily while they were in the NICU for 62 days...$600,000.  I'm serious.  And so in my family, it makes sense that I carry the family insurance based on the fact that monthly premiums and deductibles are low and my husbands are HIGH but this makes the choice to stay home full time to take care of them impossible.  If I were to quit my job to take care of their basic needs... I couldn't because we wouldn't be able to afford basic health insurance for them on top of also responsibley paying the bills...

Darn shame.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What I I Have to Say About...

John Edwards.  Just shut up.  Classic case of someone who is only sorry because they got caught.  I'm sorry, but seriously.  It is great that you and wifey are "best friends" and "soul mates" and so on and even renewed your wedding vows (whew - vows are upgradable!) but it's too late in the eyes of the public, at least with me it is.  I'm sure you don't care John Edwards because I am not the one married to you.   Is everyone else saying, "how stupid do you have to be to be skirting around with the other woman when there is paparazzi and tabloids just mouth watering for the chance to bust you!?"  Affairs are bad in any case but I just don't ever have any sympathy for such high profile individuals who reason on the level of a junior high school kid.  Not to mention this man was running for president!  Did he not consider that PRESIDENT at one time was THE position that Americans looked up to?  kids wanted to become???

Michael Phelps.  Being named "the greatest athelete of all time" is a stretch for me.  I have no doubt that he is an INCREDIBLE swimmer.  But this guy is still new and has more time to put in, plain and simple.  Comparing him to such great names as Muhammed Ali, Michael Jordan, Jackie Robinson, etc. is just a little uncomfortable for me.  Prodigy turn legend over night, meh.
  What are your thoughts?

Ok, did anyone hear about or see the cute, little, pigtailed, Chinese girl that sang "Ode to the Motherland" at the Olympic opening ceremonies? Read about it here.
Basically, the original vocalist wasn't deemed cute enough to stand in the spotlight at the opening ceremonies so the little girl that we all saw was just miming the words.  That is just wrong.

In local news, a school bus in South Alabama overturned while driving down a MUDDY, unpaved, backwood dirt road.  Students only suffered minor injuries but parents are in uproar and demanding seat belts be placed on school buses.  The state superintendent is telling the public that in order for a decision such as mandatory seat belts to be implemented it must be backed by research so a study is being done at the University of Alabama to test the effectiveness of seat belts on school buses and this study is going to take three years... OK????  First of all, I would hate to load my child up on a bus that had seat belts knowing that they were only there for research on effectiveness.  Is someone standing around hoping that a bus runs off of a bridge or gets hit by a train to see how well the seat belts work collectively after three years so that then MAYBE we can put seat belts on all school buses because, "well, yep seat belts saved lives."  Second of all, how about pave your driveway.  I'm not talking to the individual families here but a school bus wasn't exactly designed for off-roading, you know? 

Does anyone have any good news? 

Monday, August 11, 2008

Monday morning and taking it easy all day.
Last week and this weekend was probably the busiest stretch we have had in a long time.  Dinner guests every night, doctors visits, Target runs, etc. on minimal sleep.   So here are todays duties: feed, change, do laundry, read my book.

I am keeping up with the summer Olympics.  I love watching swimming!  It was really really exciting and was pretty monumental to watch Phelps and swim team USA win the medley with such an outstanding finish.  The men's basketball team won against China, another exciting game.  The female gymnastics team need our support as they have been reduced from a team of 6 to a team of 4 due to injuries suffered during the preliminaries.  The games have me thinking... I pretty much always expect to win.  Is is the optimist in me or is it because I am an American?  I can't tell.  What I mean is I can remember playing volleyball in high school and winning more times than we lost.  The same went for football... if we played at home I just had the attitude that of course we would win.  Then came freshman year at Bama, Dubose's last coaching season and unfortunately Bama's most recent "good season."  I went to all of those home games at Bryant Denny and stood there watching sure we would win.  I can't wait for that feeling to return in regards to the Tide -( to commentors, if you can't say something nice don't talk to me).  When I watch the Olympics I also expect to win.  It is weird to watch Hoff get second and to think that our gymnasts may not even place.  It's just that I literally expect greatness and nothing less than gold.  So am I cocky, arrogant, naive?  There is a little voice inside of me that says, "You are pretty darn lucky to not know what it feels like to lose or go un-noticed."  Of course, I am not talking about ME personally... I am talking about being anything American.  Is this a good thing?  Do you know what I mean?  


Thursday, August 07, 2008

The need for change...

Don't be fooled by the title...I'm talking about HAIR.

This morning I watched a rerun on Oprah about the "Great American Haircut."  Shaggy bangs, angled bobs, lustrous colors, shiny glosses Oh My!  Some gals may have a fetish for shoes or manicures but mine is HAIR.  "How strange, Laura has the plainest hairstyle of all time: a brown ponytail???" you may be saying to yourself.... this is the problem.  I want a new do so badly but I have no idea what to get or where to get it.  I want a cut that is stylish and modern, easy to fix, and color that is fabulous.  Nick laughs at me when I say on certain days, "Doesn't my ponytail look cute today?"  Isn't that SAD?  My PONYTAIL has different looks.  The most common is the wet slicked back look (my least favorite) but it is because 1.) it is summertime and 2.) I have two newborn babies.  Even if I took time to blowdry it and style it, 5 minutes later I would be tucking it behind my ear most likely with a huge gob of spit up for "maximum hold."  

JL and LJM have fabulous haircuts from salons within in an hours drive... an hour's drive yes I am willing to do it.  I really am not all that "plain Jane" but my hairs begs to differ.  That is all I have to say about that.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


Books, movies, and church.  These are three activities that are giving my life true enrichment right now.

Nick would always laugh at me and tell people how different we are in that if I am tired at 8p.m. and am done with "house stuff" or other busy stuff I'll just go to bed because to me, the day is over.  But Nick likes to stay up and read, watch t.v., play a game, etc.  I have always been a sleeper when I am bored or have the blues so it was easy to just "check out" and wait till the start of a new day when I could get busy again.

Now, sun up and sun down are my favorite times of the day because they are the only quiet times I can have alone or with Nick to enjoy reading a good book, such as "Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen.  I love this book.  It is about a vet school drop out who runs off with a circus during the time of the Depression.  Coming of age, love, scandal, this book has it all if you are like me and like fluffy page turner fiction with small chapters.  Two of my girl friends are reading the book also and we are scheduled to meet in the middle of the month and at the end of the month to discuss.   Let me know if you want to join in on the book club or if you have any book club suggestions!

Our "movie night" last Thursday featured "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner."  I fell asleep during the most crucial part of the movie towards the end but felt I had seen enough to say that I enjoyed it and would like to watch it again.  Well low and behold the very next day I had just finished feeding the babies at 5a.m. and saw that Oxygen was showing the movie at 7 so I set my DVR and got curled up with a cup of coffee and watched it again from start to finish.  This time I didn't miss the scene where "Dr. Prentice" talks with his Dad and "Mr. Drayton" tells his dinner guests what's on his mind.  OH I don't have words for how much I love this movie.  This one could be up there with "To Kill a Mockingbird" for me.  I cried and cried over the outcome of this movie classic and would recommend it to anyone.  I am looking forward to Thursday night when we watch another Top 100 AFI movie.

And tonight I will go to church for the second week in a row.  Short service in the chapel at FUMC followed by dinner in the fellowship hall.  Organized worship and fellowship have not always been something I have made a priority to participate in and quite frankly are not events that I have necessarily enjoyed... for lack of better words.  I enjoy small groups open for discussion and usually I can't sing very well, although it is all a joyful noise to Him.  However, last week was exceptionally enjoyable because I didn't go alone and I didn't even go with Nick (he was home with the babies).  I went with two good gal friends who both have a thirst to know God more and the plans for their lives, like me.  It was rejuvenating to go and experience "fullness" with them and I hope that Wednesday night chapel will become a tradition.

After I feed the babies at 9a.m. we are going to Target to get a couple of things needed around the house.  My goal is to find diapers, coffee creamer, and an exercise DVD all in one store and to not spend over our gift card amount.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Let the Healing Begin

For many nights I have "let the sun go down in anger."

But yesterday was a very significant day for me and my relationships with two important men in my life... (sparing names.)

I'll try my best not to sound boastful but I succeeded in putting myself aside and after much prayer, introspection, and long time coming confrontation I was able to voice some serious concerns for a few people in my life that for a long time I have not been able to "love" with my actions.

When you are witness to someone or someone(s) you love self destructing it starts to wear on your own personal happiness and sometimes daily functioning.  Harboring resentment and bitterness is poisenous and must eventually be resolved in order to experience the fullness of love and of God's love.  

At the risk of sounding cliche I'll admit that in order to be forgiven one must be able to forgive.   Demons have not yet been cast out however I am sure they have begun to tremble at the possibility that "change" is on the horizon.  They say ignorance is bliss but this is not always true.  Sometimes ignoring a problem only feeds the destruction and to admit that there is a problem is the first step in recovery.  

How things appear on the outside almost never reveals the true condition of what is going on inside.  We are all so good at compartmentalizing our concerns and packing away our "dirty laundry" for another day or until someone else can provide a remedy.  But  yesterday I let my guards down and risked my own reputation of being the "other sister" - or maybe I confirmed being "that sister" who won't keep her mouth shut but for God's sake someone had to say what needed to be said...

Friday, August 01, 2008

Peace Is...

Peace is being up at 5a.m. and watching your two newborns eyes look to you for nourishment and comfort...

Watching your little adopted furry friend stay in her bed even when the kennel door has been opened to let her out and she stays because it is her comfort zone...

Seeing your husband in a deep sleep beside you and knowing that even if you woke him up to help he would remain calm and glad to offer a helping hand...

Sitting on the porch sipping hot coffee, watching the sun rise, and listening to the neighborhood wake up...

Knowing that your biggest responsibilities in a day are to hold the ones you love the most and prepare the home...

Watching a great movie such as "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" with friends and enjoying good food and wine...

Cherishing my mother and sister and our friendship and knowing they are only a phone call away...

Being able to log onto the internet and read the "goings on" of close friends and being able to comment, never feeling left out or out of touch...  

Seeing a ministry so dear to my heart grow, change lives, and desiring to take part...

Reading a good book