Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I Don't Want A Lot For Christmas...

It would seem that "blogging is dead" as one friend of mine put it. I don't want that to be the case. It is just that I don't make the time to sit down and enjoy this ole' hobby like I used to. Another friend posted in his blog about writing letters to Santa. So here is mine.

Dear Santa,

I know I have been a naughty girl this year, and the year before that, and the year before that. But hopefully there are some nice things I have done that will out-weigh all of the bad. I watched "Miracle on 34th" last night and smiled at the end when Doris signed off of Susan's letter to you saying "I believe in you too." So if I deserve to make any requests here is what I am asking for, though none of it can be wrapped and be put under our tree...

A new year with new attitudes and new changes that will make my life better (this is not a resolutions post). I mean it. I want to really experience and express gratitude every day both for what has been given to me and for what I have worked for. I want to learn to share. I want to clean out what is not needed to make room for what truly is. I want to stop being my worst critic. I want to make goals and actually follow through in achieving those goals. I want to start making and keeping promises. I want to stop complaining. I want to learn to forgive. I want to stop being afraid, nervous, and anxious at times. I want to do something I didn't think that it was possible for me to do. I want to go to church. I want to everyday with my husband and my babies to be the best day. I want to teach my children lessons that they will use when doing good in the world. I want to start writing things down for them. I want to start writing captions on the backs of photos like our ancestors did and making photo albums. I want to hang a lot of pictures on the walls like families do in the movies.

That is really all I can think of right now. It isn't a complicated list and like I said, you can't wrap any of this up for under the tree and you can't unwrap it and show it off to your friends. But I have given it thought, and am still giving it thought, and for Christmas this year, these are the things that I really really want.

Sincerely,
Laura

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day. We went to my mom and dad's house and visited and filled our plates! We ate a non traditional meal of standing rib roast, mashed potatoes, green beans, rice pilaf, spinach souffle, and of course pecan pie. My favorite dish was the from scratch green bean casserole my dad made with "real" green beans, cream, mushrooms, butter, and home made onion rings. It was so good I had two large helpings. We took our mom and dad Christmas picture as seen below. After lunch the babies played in the fall leaves. Every year I have more and more to be thankful for which is sometimes just overwhelming. This time last year my children were battling RSV and pneumonia and just barely over 8 pounds. Now they are so healthy, walking, and asking "wha's Daaa!?" for "what's that!?" Also, I think Harper has picked up some of my language and started saying, "das shwee" for "that's sweet." Love it.

Today Nick is out picking up our Christmas tree for our traditional day after Thanksgiving Christmas decorating. I am really really looking forward to this Holiday season because the babies will be true participants. They stare in wonder at the pink tree in their room. They enjoy ripping paper and they listen to stories. We have the perfect Nativity for them to hold and play with as they get older as they listen to the story of how baby Jesus was born. I picture my Nativity being passed down to my great great grandchildren and their mother telling them they can hold the lamb and the shepherd and her thinking how special it will be that generations of little sticky fingers have played and listened with these little figurines.





Friday, November 06, 2009

Just the Way I Like It.

Lately. It has been a whirlwind of events. So much that I wish that I had been posting all along but I didn't so now I will give abbreviated versions.

A much needed vacation. Last weekend I spent 4 wonderful relaxing days in Destin with my family. This was the first beach trip I have taken in 5 years... and I LOVE the beach so much. This was also the first time Nick and I have ever been to the beach together... and of course the first time the babies have ever been as well. Harper and Lily were so perfect on this trip. They napped well, they ate well, they played well, they went to bed awesome! I took long walks on the beach. I read a book. I ate a lot of delicious (not so low cal) foods, I drank wine, I played Bananas, watched football, ate at a really fancy restaurant, and even did a little outlet mall shopping. This trip came on the heels of a pretty stressful first 11 weeks of work/school year...

The job. My co workers and I were all reassigned to new schools and I picked up 5 new schools to serve... total is 7. This is really really exciting news for me. Not only do I get to meet and work with a new caseload of kids but these kids have disabilities and other issues that are sure to challenge me personally and professionally in a good way... one that will make me a better teacher and coworker. I cannot express how excited I am to start this new journey/chapter in my career. November 4th marked the 5 year mark in my job and these five years have both crept and flown by... kind of weird. I'll tell you all about it sometime... come over, have a glass of wine... there are way to many details to spill out here.

While at the beach...my mother said, "is that your makeup caked under your eyes or are those just really dark circles?" (gee, thanks... but no, really thanks) Answer: "probably both." A long time ago I gave up spending too much on things I don't really "need." Under eye concealer was one of those things. I started buying a cheap brand at the grocery store and moved on. But Mom's question sealed the deal... it is ok to spend a little more on a product that "conceals" fatigue and makes me feel better about myself... and actually works. So while I was at the outlet mall I splurged a little and bought my favorite cosmetic: Bobbi Brown face touch up kit... includes concealer, blemish corrector, base, and yellow finishing powder...a dab of all of it for under $50. So worth it. I kid you not, the very first day back to work I had people that have seen my tired face every day for 3 years say, "you look great... so rested and so happy." I just smiled and said, "I feel good inside and out."

My babies. They are sick tonight. They both have colds and respiratory flare ups. This really isn't that uncommon in our household but what makes this time different is that they are bigger and older now and don't deal with pain and discomfort as well as they do when they are tiny infants and they don't know any better. Lily is so much more active now that she is a walker and it is impossible to explain (or make) an 18 month sit still long enough for her little congested wheezing lungs to heal. Harper, on top of this crud, has a condition that is giving her a urinary tract infection. We are treating this with 2 ointments and hoping that we won't need to have a more invasive "procedure" done in the future... so if you are the praying type please lift up the babies.

The Biggest Loser I Know. I am really proud of my friend Jason. He is showing me every day what it means to make health a top priority... making better food choices and getting up and moving...did you know that doing both of those things will help you lose extra weight and live longer?

T.V. I really enjoy The Biggest Loser, SYTYCD, Project Runway, Top Chef, Mad Men, and Jeopardy. I just recently started tvoing Dr. Phil again... he has one more chance but the next time I see T.D. Jakes or "the Doctors"... delete delete. Also, I watched the latest episode of Modern Family and think I could get into this. I am really excited about when Friday Night Lights will start airing re-runs.

The Bible. I have been reading it a lot lately (not to pat myself on the back). Wow. There is so much to learn from it. And there is a reason that it is called "living." I have really been going back to passages on "Simon/Peter" and "Lazarus" over the past month and what I have learned from them has changed my life.

Dr. Charles Stanley... thanks to him I a) read the Bible b) understand what I am reading.

Tonight. I am thankful for a great day at home with my babies... being a mom really is the best job ever for me. Pizza and a movie with my Love.

Tomorrow. Absolutely no plans. Just the way I like it.




Monday, October 12, 2009

Because I need to stop grumbling...

I'll list things that make me happy right now:
-seeing Lily walking 8-10 steps
-seeing Harper go from the "keep to herself" baby to the clingy one and saying Mama, curling up on my chest and then sucking her thumb
-reading a good book on my lunch break
-upcoming volunteer opportunities
-seeing Nick in his final semester of grad school
-having amazing friends that invite themselves over and bring pizza and cookies to bake
-watching Jeopardy at night with Nick
-three quarter length cotton sweaters and big earrings
-"Assets" (like Spanks-have you tried these!?)
-pajama pants at 4 in the afternoon
-upcoming beach trip with my family
-Jazz apples
-friends' new babies

This post started out as a rant fest.. but I deleted it and started over because really all of my "problems" are still just luxuries...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

It seems that blogging has moved so far down on my priority list that I can't even feel the desire lately and that makes me sad. It is kind of like yard work... it will always be there to get done tomorrow but you really wish you had the energy to get it done right now.

I wrote in my last post that my life has been emotional lately. It still is but it is better now. I have finally accepted the loss of my friend Sully. A few times I have wanted to pick up the phone and call her and had to remeber, I can't. But in those moments I pause and go over in my head what I would say to her and what she would say back to me if she were here and it is kind of like having her still around, though not really.

September has ended and I am in the in between stages of wanting to be excited about Fall and the Holidays but this Indian Summer we are experiencing is making me feel like the excitement is on hold.

My routine of walking in the mornings before work has been nonexistent over the last few weeks and I am feeling the consequences. Tired, sluggish, and FAT. Thursday night at Target, Nick and I were cruising the isles and coming up with a morning game plan that will start Monday that will include both of us getting our workouts in first thing. This has been a challenge before considering one of us has to be here with the babies while they sleep in before going to the babysitters. I'll let you know how that goes.

JMG posted about fiber. A couple of ways I get mine is by having a 100 calorie flatbread (6 g fiber) in the morning with a piece of fruit and a whole grain wrap (9 g fiber) with a salad chocked full of broccoli, cauliflower, red and green bell peppers, and olive oil vin. for lunch. Also, I have popcorn and other fruits throughout the day then a side of couscous or wild rice with my protein for supper.

I stayed home with Harper yesterday after we took her to the doctor. Seems that she has had a 24 hour stomach bug. She is feeling better today but I might have a strain of it myself... can't tell yet. Nothing serious. While I was rocking her yesterday before her nap, she looked to the corner of their room and said, "buh-der-fwi." I was shocked and impressed! For the past couple of months we have been pointing to "light, fan, balls, butterflies" and as a speech therapist I know that a baby's receptive language develops a lot sooner than their expressive and certainly articulation but for my 17 month (14 month adjusted age) child to mutter a three syllable word that has a medial L-blend is really really exciting! They have been saying Mama and Dada for a while and signing when they are "finished" but under "Harper's first word" I will definitely be writing October 9, 2009 "butterfly." Jackie made the comment not to brag TOO much to Harper about this later in life for fear that she may come home from spring break when she is 16 with a butterfly tattooed on her butt or (worse) breast bragging, "it was my first word!" ALAS.

Saw David Sedaris last night in Birmingham... not just out mind you. He was doing a book reading/signing thing and a couple of friends and I made the drive, had dinner, and enjoyed his satyrical accounts of his experiences serving on jury duty, shopping at Costco, emailing a disabled sister, and a fable about a pissed off turtle and toad. I am glad I got to go... if you get the chance you should stop in a see him. I have to admit that for me, I have to really concentrate to comprehend what he is reading about and to understand the punchlines... his writing is packed full of analogies and often on topics like politics and current events that just don't naturally register in my brain but like I said overall I enjoyed myself. Short car rides are always fun with friends too... we all did a little venting and a whole lot of laughing. Definitely one of those evening that will probably always get referred to as , "remember the night we..."

And so nothing too spectacular going on today. Getting showered and ready to be with friends and watch football, doing some laundry, and maybe taking a stoll later on. Tomorrow a church young adults farm party before back to work on Monday (sigh)... but that is a whole 'nother post... that will probably never get written... stop by and see me on my porch for details on that.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Wake Me Up, When September Ends...

September has been... too deep for words. But I'll try.

On September 9th I was present for the birth of one of my best friend's baby girl. I have to admit that I sort of hung around in the delivery room until she asked, "do you want to stay?" in which I eagerly replied, "oh please let me stay! I'll sit in the corner and I won't say a word the whole time just please let me watch." The moments leading up to the birth were phenomenal... watching the mother work so hard, hanging on to every breath, working, breathing, never complaining, but one word describes seeing a new life come into the world, "spiritual"... awe inspiring really. To watch a baby being born is so cool on so many levels. If you haven't seen it yourself, or experienced your own child being born, then you can guess how the emotions are. I trembled and laughed through my tears as I watched a family embrace this new little person and welcome her into their lives. To hear the baby cry and see her father's eyes shine with pride and mother's eyes glisten with anticipation is a remarkable experience that at the end of the day left me saying, "thank you Lord for letting me be a part of this..." and the to the parents of Campbell, "thank you."

***

This past Thursday I was at work and asked by an abnormally high number of people, "How is Mrs. Sullivan? Have you talked to her?" "No, not lately, She needs her space, but I am going to call her today." I called my dear friend whom many of you know about... a lady that I taught with for 4 years who you could say is my true Godmother.

Flash back. Every day while we worked together, we shared diet cokes, popcorn, laughs, tears, prayers, and gossip. She taught me about what it means to endure life's hardest trials: divorce, illness, death of loved ones, except all with a smile and a never faltering faith in God and His mercies and multitude of blessings, in the form of specific answered prayers and in the small things in life that brings us joy like lunch with a friend and a Bloody Mary or a hot piece of cornbread and home made vegetable soup. You see, "Sully" had beat so many health obstacles such as cancer and a brain aneurysm that one could argue what faith could you have left after so much pain and suffering? But she never asked "why me?" She never troubled people with any complaining. When she told me about her sufferings and conquerings she always said, "God made it a piece of cake... I don't want to do it again, but it really wasn't that bad." She helped me see that nothing we worry about day to day is really even worth our time.

She retired from teaching at the same time that I took my maternity leave in May of 2008. I didn't know that it would be our last year together and I am glad I didn't. Over the past year up until now, she kept a secret: the cancer was back and this time was determined to take her life. Remember what she said about the chemotherapy? "It wasn't that bad, but I don't want to do it again."

Around the time that the floods happened in Montgomery in May of 2009 I spoke to her on the phone about attending my babies' first birthday party. She sounded weak but sincerely sorry that she wouldn't be able to come. She said she would be spending the weekend in a hotel because the rain water had ruined her home and staying there was not possible. I said, "Sully, a hotel? You know you are welcome to stay with us..." She said, "No Mielke, I need to be alone. Peace and quiet. God and I have some serious talking to do." She needed to know what was coming and who would be taking care of her son Christian, 30 something and living with Down Syndrome - totally dependent on his "Mama." The party went on but she was missed. I wanted so badly to see her white spiked hair and pink eye shadow and big bright smile as she would have sat under the shady tree giving God all the credit for these miracle babies being celebrated on their first birthday. I called her the following week. Thankfully she answered her cell phone, in the hospital where she would stay for the next 3 months. I went to see her one evening and I wept because there was my Sully in a medically induced sleep, tubes and ventilator and all... for the next couple of months she slept and lost weight and even in her sleep appeared to be going through more pain than anyone could endure. I asked that dreaded question, "why?" So that is how the summer went... I'd wait on Nick to get home from work, we would play with the children, feed them, put them down for bed, and I would drive to the hospital and sit beside her, read to her, tell her about my day, and how much I missed her and knew that she would pull through this. I'll never hear Cold Play's "Lovers in Japan" without also being taking back to what it was like to drive down the Troy Highway with the windows down, summer's sweltering hear causing me to perspire while I sipped on cold icey lemon flavored water, wondering, "how will she be tonight?" But one spectacular night I went to visit and her eyes were open! She couldn't speak because of the trachea tube that was in her throat making it possible for her to breathe but she could mouth simple phrases. I crept up beside her bed and I said, "hey Love!?!" She mouthed these words, "Thank you Lord" as she held her hands up and looked to the sky. After that she would ask for water which I couldn't give to her because of her condition. She was so thirsty and she twisted in bed because of the pain of her stomach, neck, back, and shoulders. She coudn't remember my name or any other simple questions I would ask her... sheer confusion about where she was and what was going on but something prompted me to ask her, "Sully, do you know who your Father is?" She mouthed, "God." Then I said, "Sully, do you know Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death..." and she put her hands up again, looked to the sky, and began saying it with me... word. for. word. It was amazing. This person who didn't know what day it was and shook her head when I explained that she had a tube in her throat, knew every word of this Psalm... Proof that God's Word was truly written on her heart.

The next few weeks were the same. Confusion, thirst, discomfort. Then one day the nurses told me she had been moved to another hopsital. When I showed up at her new room I braced myself for what I might see but the opposite conditions were observed. I walked in and sitting up in bed, using a knife and fork to cut a pork chop, she looked up at me and I said, "Well look who is back!?" Her first words were, "When is the party? What do the babies need?" I said, "Sully, it is August now. The party was in May." "Oh, I missed it" she said. "Yea, you did," I laughed. For the next two hours we compared our experiences of what the past three months had looked like for both of us. I told her (though without gory details) about how I visited her and wanted her to open her eyes and talk to me. I told her that she asked for water and I couldn't five it to her. I told her that she had recited Psalm 23. She stared in amazement and said, "Mielke, if you asked me to do that right now I couldn't tell you how it even starts, I never was good at memorizing Scripture." She said that the she didn't remember a single visit nor did she remember any pain or anything about any hospital at all. She said that all she remembered was being at the lake, with all of her friends and family, and wearing diamond and other jewel adorned gloves. She said the image of the sun on the water and the shimmering of the jewels was so vivid that it could not have been a dream... it was real. She was somewhere else in her deep deep sleep. While I stood at her side in grief she basked in the sun.

In August she was released. The next couple of weeks she spent time at home, rehabilitating to some degree, but more importantly she spent time with Christian watching Charles Stanley on t.v. and enjoying being "lazy bones" together as she always said was her favorite thing to do. But three weeks ago she took a turn. Back to long term care she went. I spoke to her mother in law a few times who said, "Hunny, I'm afraid this time it is worse than before." Worse!? How could it be worse?"

Flash forward to Thursday September 24th. "How is Mrs. Sullivan?" they asked. On Thursday I drove directly from work to see her at the hospital. Her room was dark, the machines were loud. She was asleep again, and this time her eyes would not open. I told her I loved her and that I would be back every day until she was sitting up eating pork chops in bed again. I left at 5p.m. just after Jay-Z and Barbra Streisand sang on Oprah. When I got home I talked to Jo, her mother in law, staying with Christian, and she asked if I would go with her to the hospital the next day to talk with the nurses and doctor and discuss the hard topic of hospice and DNR. I was in shock. I held it together on the phone but when we hung up I melted into Nick's loving arms because my heart was breaking... was this the end? At 9p.m. I took my phone to my nightstand where I plugged it into the charger and I walked back to the den to do some winding down and watch T.V. with Nick. At 10:15p.m. it was time for bed, one last check on the phone for Twitter updates and text messages, and there was missed call from "Sully at Home" and a frantic message from Jo, "Laura, the doctor wants me to come up to the hospital, come if you can."

I walked into the room at 11p.m. and for the next 55 minutes, myself and a handful of close relatives embraced, cried, laughed by sharing stories, and each took a turn talking to Sully. I sat right beside her and looked into her now open eyes. Did she see me? I can't tell. Her eyes were fixed on me but I didn't see her in there. I wondered, "How long will we be here? 1 a.m.? 3a.m." At exactly midnight, her breaths became shallow and further apart. The four of us laid our hands on her and all kept saying, "Go now, go Home, we love you and will miss you but it is time for you to go Home." I shook and my head fell and I heard myself cry out, "Oh Sully!?!?" and I promise you at that moment a light flashed before my tight shut eyes and the wind was knocked out of me... I felt light headed, but not weak. I don't remember hearing anyone else in their crying out... I looked up at her face and we all knew, she was gone. Spiritual, phenomenal, thankful.

***
Such beautiful moments in time: a birth and a death... all in the month of September. Has my life changed from being witness to the beginning and end of the circle of life? YES. But how? I am not sure yet... still processing it all. I may never be able to tell anyone what this month has meant for me but the feelings I am having right now are very very real:

Spiritual, phenomenal, thankful.


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

35 minutes

Today marks a full week (and a day) of getting up earlier to go walking at the gym before work. I get to the gym at 5:15 a.m. and walk on the treadmill for 35 minutes. It may not sound like a lot but going from a pretty sedentary lifestyle (exercising maybe once a week, sad I know) over the past 3 years to going to a gym 5 days a week is HUGE. The thing is, the first two years of our marriage, we threw money at another gym every month and honestly? Money WASTED. We never went and by never I mean once every 2 or 3 months because "we really should." This time, when we joined - contract free- and with so many other amenities such as pool, aerobics classes, tennis, yoga, childcare, and access to the many other in town locations we knew we really couldn't lose. My gym is a 9 minute walk from my house and about a 2 minute drive. I'll admit that I didn't use the facility as much as I should have this summer but as I have mentioned before when not on a "routine" I go all out and do nothing. Being back in the swing of work and being inspired by JMG and his weightloss endeavors I have a realization last week... I am not getting any younger, I am not as happy with my shape as I could be, and if I don't get moving now my body may never gain the health benefits I will need in my later years. 35 minutes in the early morning is a small sacrifice for the positive changes I hope to see soon and over the years. It is funny, the first night I set my alarm with the intentions to get up and exercise I was giddy. At 4:45 a.m. my eyes POPPED open and ever since then I have even tried to convince myself to snooze but the truth is... I don't want to. I really really enjoy going. I see the same faces. I use the same machine. I listen to the news on CNN. I stretch and work out the kinks in my neck and shoulders that have been causing these "cricks" in my neck that I used to never have when I was more active...granted I believe they are caused by the constant lifting I do having twins 18 pound pounds each now... so that and inactivity puts a lot of strain on my neck, shoulders, and back. I hope to incorporate some weight lifting at night in the coming weeks. I have some good friends at work that are also getting up and getting moving and we are weighing in every Monday and keeping track of pounds gained and lost.

I feel like talking about exercise and weight loss among women is kind of "tacky" like talking about money can be tacky sometimes. Women have an innate bashfulness when it comes to patting themselves on the back because we don't want to come across as braggy or over confident. I really just wanted to share this because this is a really positive thing happening in my life right now and to say that if you are close by and need a morning walking partner then I would love for you to join me!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

My List of To Do's

My blogging friends have starting a list of what they want to do when the grow up. My turn.

-birth another child in my 30's.
-adopt a child from my community (currently reading "The Women Who Raised Me" by Victoria Rowell, amazing memoir about adoption/foster care in the 60's and Maine's laws against a white family adopting a black child)
-get my Master's degree (special education? speech? general education?)
-live in an old house
-take one good trip every year, with our children
-learn to ride horses
-do something teaching and aiding young mothers
-participate in an excursion where you swim/play with dolphins
-go on a silent retreat (thanks Steph, have always wanted to but probably wouldn't have thought to post it if I had not read it on your post)
-start a new career (???? although I love my job I have an underlying feeling that it isn't what I'll be doing for the next 20 years)
-quit smoking (once and for all - for those of you who don't know, yes, I do, ug)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Funny Story

Everyone of course is freaking out about H1N1 Swine Flu right? Don't touch this, sanitize that... my mom said she was at the grocery store last week and saw a woman with a mask on pushing her cart with her rubber gloved hands. I chuckled when she told me and took to heart her advice to "watch it" while I am at work at an elementary school where kids don't care that they sneeze at you and/or on you. I wash my hands and use hand sanitizer probably at least once a day... that's enough right?

WELL this morning, before work, I was at the YMCA doing my work out thing and when I was finished on the treadmill I followed YMCA/H1N1 protocol and "wiped down" the machine I used with the disinfectant and paper towels they provide. I walked over to the mats to stretch and cool down and as I was chugging a bottled water I also took in a breath and got choked up. At first it was the muffledtryingtokeepitcool type of cough but it turned into the kind of cough that you are kind of embarrassed to have in a public place... when I tell you I almost felt threatened by every eye in the place I mean I kind of felt like I had to bury my head in my t-shirt but what I really wanted to do was scream, "I don't have the flu!!! I choked on my water!!!" Seriously? Everyone looked at me like they wanted me to die and burn my body right then and there.

Monday, August 24, 2009

For bloggin's sake

I like how JG did his last post so here I go:

a few things to remember about me:

- i love asking "what's for supper?" (usually followed by, "do we have any money?"
- sometimes Nick and i get really absurdly tickled making funny faces at each other and talking to each other with a lisp
- i hate thinking about having to run errands after work... i like to come straight home
- pjs and watching a t.v. with Nick while he plays with my hair is my favorite
- i take bubble baths after i exercise
- i usually hate talking on the phone; i would much rather you just come by
- i am embarrassed by how much American (or World for that matter) history I should know but don't
- i get anxious and down right irritable when I am hungry
- fall festivities (carnivals, hayrides, pumpkin spice latte's, fleece jackets) give me butterflies in my stomach
- it has been 5 years since i went to the beach... but in October we are going with my family... excited is an understatement
- two of my closest friends are pregnant with baby girls
- lit candles in my home makes me feel cozy and at peace
- people at work consider me a positive person, which, although flattering, i think is a true sign that they really don't know me that well... my closest friends and family would probably say i am a natural worrier
- i perform tasks best under pressure/i procrastinate
- i can usually humor those around me by making impressions
- i miss church


Saturday, August 22, 2009

What I (do I ) Do?

November 10 marks the 5th full year I have been employed as a Speech Therapist working at the same elementary school. My drive to work is a very peaceful and uplifting part of my routine. I used to take the congested Taylor Road route but a year ago started cutting through Bell Road/Montecello and on the way I notice green pastures, ponds, and even buffalo... if you are familiar with Montgomery you know the house I am talking about. There is this one house that seems to have never been inhabited that sits back off of the road that I drive past and think is my dream house. It is two story, gray siding, wrap around porch, wooded back yard, long driveway. There is just something about this house that is perfect to me. In town yet secluded. On cool mornings I put the sunroof down and listen to NPR while I sip my coffee and drive 45 thinking "what a beautiful morning." Once I am at school I dig through my purse for my classroom keys and walk up the sidewalk, say hello to the bus drivers and crosswalk guards and head inside where I am washed over with the aroma of waffles and syrup. On the way to my room I watch tiny students bobble down the hallway with their huge backpacks as they pull their pencils out of their pockets to show their friends - new sharpened pencils can be a symbol of status when you are five. My room is always 70 degrees and smells like apple cinnamon. I check my email first, heat up my oatmeal, and start shuffling through the day's progress notes of who is coming in and what we will be working on. A lot of times my lesson does not match up completely with what is on the IEP because my students' needs are so much greater than single phonemes. I teach of lot of syntax, basic concepts, and pragmatics. Reading and listening comprehension, turn taking, and conversational skills are big targets in my classroom. I have never given out candy as rewards. Stickers and certificates mean more to the kids and aren't as bad for their teeth. If a student is really good and returns his homework he might earn a turn on the computer playing a language based game on a website called Grammar Crackers. I have friends at work too. There are a handful of ladies that I can talk to about babies, church, weight loss and gain, other students, and plans for an upcoming holiday. In between sessions I'll give Nick a call and ask how his day is going - who is he eating lunch with, how did his meeting go, what comes on T.V. that night...

Occasionally there is a student that really touches my heart. Last year I fell in love with a little girl I'll call Jan. Jan is 6 years old and lives with her mother, twin sister, and 15 year old brother. I have visited their house before and as I sat on their sofa talking with her mother I looked around, trying not to gawk, and noticed that there were no pictures on the walls or end tables, each kitchen cabinet door was open but there was no food in it, and the carpet was stained and bare in some spots. Jan's bed that she shares with her twin sister was simply a box spring and mattress with tears and rips and a single flat sheet. Jan would talk to me about seeing her mother go in and out of the hospital for "laughing too much." It is no secret to the faculty that her mother suffers with addiction - on and off. Jan has a foster mother and father but is no longer allowed to visit the foster mother because she is abusive. The times Jan has visited her dad in Georgia she said she didn't like staying there because she didn't like listening to her dad and his girlfriend do it. She said that she doesn't like that her dad lies to his wife and that she has to keep a secret. Jan has asked me about God and if I believe in Him and it is so hard to try to explain to a child in such circumstances that we have the same loving Father... she doesn't understand why she is scared and sad all of the time and she has begged me to let her come to my house.

One day in the summer I was thinking about Jan as I folded towels. I told God, "Lord, if you want me to, I'll take Jan, and her sister too." Then the thought came to me, "Impossible. Impossible. Two little black girls from the west side coming to live with a white family on the east side - plus I am one of her teachers? impossible." In that moment I felt strongly led to go and read my Bible... my daily devotional that is more like every other weekly devotional. I stopped what I was doing, turned to that exact date's daily reading, and there looking me in the face was the verse, "Jesus replied, 'what is impossible with man is possible with God." Luke 18:27. My blood ran cold through my veins and I put my hand on the page and looked up. I closed my eyes and made God the promise, "if you bring her to me, I'll take her as my own."

Jan is at a different school this year. Her mom found an apartment zoned for a different Title I school. I took her folders to the speech therapist that will be seeing her but before I left I went by her classroom. She ran from the door to grab me around the waist and she said, "oh Mrs. "Mikee." She didn't let go for a solid 10 seconds. She grew a few inches and gained a few pounds but her face is still the same. She tried to tell me how to get to her new house and that her brother doesn't go to school and that he got bitten by a police dog this summer for trying to rob a BP station. She asked how my babies are doing and I showed her a video clip on my cell phone of the babies playing in their nursery after bath time. She said, "ooh look at all those toys." Before I left she hugged me again and said, "ooh I love you." I bent down and said, "I care about you so much and I'll be coming to see you again soon." As I drove away I repeated the verse, "what is impossible with man is possible with God..."

It is mind boggling to me to think that her world and mine are just 12 minutes away.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dining In

This little arrangement of photos is something I have recently put together in our dining room. Top left is a picture of my grandmother Laura Kelly (one of the women I was named after). Diagonally from across on the bottom right is her with my mother Mary Prue. Bottom left is Mama with me. Top right is me with my daughters, and of course in the center, my babies when they turned one year old. This morning I framed a picture of my Great grandmother Laura Brightman but have not hung it yet. 4 generations of women and their daughters. The idea came to me when I was a little girl sifting through my mother's pictures. I found the two of them with their babies and imagined that one day I would frame all three of us together. I guess you could say I have had the dream of being a mother for a very long time and all it's duties and joys have definitely lived up to the dream. If I had a home with a staircase in the main entrance I would cover the walls, like they do in the movies, with old and new photographs but for now, my dining room wall is my pallete.


Also, I have started "setting the table." We do a lot of dinner hosting in our home. Not always for a large crowd. Most often it is just us and a friend or two but around the holidays especially our home is a place where everyone ends up. It seems like, in this day in age, eating around the t.v. with dinner trays is the easy and most comfortable way to dine, however, I have set a personal goal for our family to start dining at the table. Jason gave us a decorative plaque for our first home that reads "blessed is the home that shelters a friend." I like this idea because I love food and I love our friends. The dinner table should be a place where food and fellowship provide emotional and nutritional comfort and one way for me to stay motivated to do this is to keep a theme on the table. With each season I hope to have a matching floral arrangement and salt and paper shakers. I am not crazy about table cloths but eventually I will add to our place mats and napkins instead of the same ole' black place mates we have had for years. My favorite salt and peper shakers are two little silver Christmas trees I found at a flea market for $5. The two little birds you see in the picture were a gift from me to Nick last Christmas because we have a recent little obsession with birds ever since the babies were born. It seems like every time I walk into a flea market I find my way to table setting "things" but since I am not a fan of clutter I have always talk myself out of buying the ones that catch my eye. However, I do like the idea of collecting specific small inexpensive things so salt and pepper shakers may be just the items to fit that desire.


There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort. ~Jane Austen

Friday, July 31, 2009

Sympathy and Will

It is hard to write this post because there really is no way that I can understand the feelings and emotions that the Ramer family of Opp is going through and I certainly don't want to belittle their story or make it into a freak show. If anything I just want to post my support of their feelings and to say honestly, I am praying for them.

Thursday, a friend of mine called me to ask for prayers. A child-hood friend of hers was at home, watching T.V. and went to check on her two year old twins, one boy and one girl. What she found changed her life forever. Both babies had managed to sneak out of the house and drown in the family swimming pool. This all happened Wednesday and today both babies are in Heaven. When Tara told me this news on Thursday... before it was on T.V. or in any newspapers my heart sunk. I haven't been able to shake this blues feeling for the mother and father that are missing their babies. And for the mother especially who must be blaming herself. God Bless you Ramer family.

****

I struggle a lot with the big question "why?" In my own life and certainly in tragedies like these. I never asked "why" until my own children were born prematurely last summer and I didn't know if they would live. It is a big big world and there is a lot of suffering that we don't want to imagine and can't explain. And people say, "It is God's will" but I don't believe that. I don't believe that God WILLS sick babies or fatal accidents or suicides. When we look at Genesis we see that God willed a perfect place for humans to live... no shame, no wants, no needs, except to live in harmony with Him and His creation. But, as the story goes on, Satan came in, tempted, convinced, and ruined that perfect will. We messed up and stepped outside that perfect will. And we have been living outside of it ever since. To me, I guess, that is why.

So then, "why didn't he change it or stop whatever from happening, why me?" Well... I tell myself... he didn't stop it from happening to His own son... why would He stop it from happening to me? I am not saying that everything is left to chance... I am saying I don't know how it happens... why some people are healed and some people aren't. Why some people are fed and some are starving? I don't know and I'll never know... it is WAY too big for my little brain to understand. I have to be careful not to let myself think that one day the "other shoe will drop." Nick says I am bad about that-cruising through life thinking, "this is all going too good... surely something bad is going to happen to me." But it has worked before... when I was pregnant I was cleaning my kitchen one day and thought, "two babies girls inside of me... this is too good to be true, Lord, I am scared." Didn't I know something was about to happen? When I had them at 27 weeks and looked at their 1 and 2 pound bodies in the incubator I thought to myself, "I knew it, I knew it Lord! It was too good to be true." All I could do was hang on and watch what was going to happen next. That is really what this earthly life is... watching each day unfold and doing the best we can to contribute to what is "good." It is not waiting for the other shoe to drop (how miserable to live a life so paranoid?) Jesus said, "I have told you these things so that in me you will have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

It comforts me to know that Jesus knew His purpose and His fate from the start of His life. He was not afraid or bitter or angry. If only I could have that faith, to touch the hem of His garment and live in that peace for a moment... for the rest of my life... to teach my children to live that way...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Reconstruction

My house us under reconstruction... but not the type you typically think of. It sounds typical... banging, hammering, vacuuming, whistles, and horns not by large equipment and not by the tearing down of walls but by babies on the move. As I sit outside enjoying my morning coffee and checking on blogs I can hear what sounds like nails being hammered down in my den because just ten feet away from me the babies have discovered cause and effect. If I hold two blocks and clap them together I get sound! If I push this button I hear horns! If I roll this cup I see movement. Also, if I try to stand up on slick wooden tiles wearing these long pj's I go boom and CRY! We have entered the realm of nonstop movement and exploration and while this is a wonderful time for them it means gone are the days of just propping them up and getting other stuff done for me! Reconstruction = babies with new abilities. The ability to move... themselves and things and I am the project overseer and it is a big job!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Picture Post of the Weekend

Working our way backwards and starting with...

-Sunday I helped host a baby shower at my house for MTS. We had an excellent turnout and to say that this was an easy and fun event is a huge understatement. Pictured below is mother to be and all of the hosts. Count'em! That's THREE babies you see and all are related! Little cousins: baby Campbell, baby Jake, and baby Houston hiding out in the back. Mommies MT, Racheal, and Kelly are all due within 8 weeks or so of each other!

-Paula Dean strawberry cupcakes I prepared! Google the recipe and try it yourself... REAL pureed strawberries mixed in with the white cake mix batter... so good and so easy. Usually I would have prepared from scratch the cream cheese icing but the last time I did this I used 6 boxes of confectioner's sugar and had ants in my kitchen for a month afterwards! This time I took the easiest route and bought whipped strawberry icing and garnished with fresh strawberries... still a hit with half the mess (and time!)

- Campbell's piggy bank, flowers and punch.

- Also at the shower, a great picture of my sister Meredith who lives in Memphis and my beautiful mommy and me.


- Saturday, after my brother's wedding, time for a breather...this is me reading to the babies one of their favorite books "The Very Quiet Cricket." A week ago the babies developed nonstop runny noses that I hoped would cure itself but alas... more ear infections. This time, Lily's is so bad her ear drum in bulging with fluid which means we have had a couple of sleep interrupted nights. All is well though. Benedryl works miracles to stop runny noses and induce deep sleep plus we are also on a 10 day round of antibiotics.

-Friday night Nick and I attended a wedding rehearsal dinner for my brother Will and his beautiful bride Colleen. This is me and my handsome date before dinner.

-A snap of the bride and groom: Will and Colleen. Beautiful aren't they? I chuckle to myself at how gorgeous their babies will be after a war between our light hair light eyes/her dark hair dark eyes genetics. Amazing how all of that works.

So there you have it. The thing about being anyone with a lot going on is that somehow you muster the energy and attitude to pull it all off. It was jam packed from Thursday to Sunday but nothing is really on the radar for the upcoming week except hopefully getting back into the swing of early to bed early to rise since this is the last week before I go back to work! I am excited about it... those of you who know me well know that I am a creature of habit and routince. I perform best when there are few suprises and time for meditation and preparation.

I have been working on creating a personal and family mission statement that will spill over into work as well. I'll write more on this later as it will surely deserve it's own post. Today, the babies are napping off their colds and their is laundry to be done. Also, I am trying to finish "American Wife" a fantastic novel that I have taken way too long to get through. Any suggestions for my next read?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Weekend Things...


You know it is a busy weekend ahead when you start making plans for little things on the previous Monday. All week I have making little check marks and swipe throughs on my long detailed list of "to do's." It is Thursday now and I am about to dive head first into a non stop celebration on several fronts!

Today, I need to pick up the house and put everything in it's place. I need to go out and about for a little bit to find a top to wear with a fabulous little black pencil skirt I found yesterday at New York and Company - which I never shop at but for what it is and the price it was it is perfect. Also, at Kohl's, I found two precious pairs of "every girl should have" black shoes. One pair of black patent leather peep toe heels and one pair of black strappy sandal heels. The best part of the shoe purchase was that each pair was originally close to $66 and I bought them for a combined total of $42. WIN! Finally, taking first place, I found a fabulous "little black dress" at Ann Taylor Loft originally $78 on sale for $39.

Friday, the girls will be at their sitter's house while Nick and I clean the house. Friday evening Nick and I will attend my oldest brother Will's wedding rehearsal dinner. The dinner will be at a local restaurant... the same little place that Nick and I had our dinner. I am excited to go for a few reasons. One, I'll get to meet the bride's family and hopefully see some extended family of mine that I haven't seen in quite a while. Will's dating and engagement to this gal has been pretty consistent to how my family does weddings which is quickly and simply. I am excited for him to be taking this step in his life because quite frankly I don't think I have ever heard of him being this happy. Since he joined the Marine Corps almost two years ago he has struggled with the question of did he make the right choice? Will has never been too far from home for all of his life... went to a small private school here in Montgomery, then moved to Auburn and attended Southern Union, and now is serving as a Marine in South Carolina. He was the "big fish in a small pond" for most of his life until college and now certainly as a Marine which brought on a storm of emotions that he has dealt o.k. with. He misses home but knows that he is committed to military duty for at least the next 2-3 years. Marrying Colleen will give him peace and stability that he so desperately wants and needs being so far from home by providing a "home" away from home with someone he loves very much. For that I am thankful. I sincerely wish them all of the best from the bottom of my heart.

So the wedding is Saturday. We will be dressing our little ladies up and eager to show them off... sorry bride... you might have wanted to specify on the invitation for guests to keep their "oohs and ahhs" on you but you didn't but then again you may appreciate sharing the attention because being a bride can be a bit overwhelming... at least it was for me anyway. But seriously, my stepmother and most of my aunts and uncles have never met my children so to be able to bring them to this event and visit with them all is exciting.

Saturday evening is still on the "let's touch base" status. Ideally the babies would come home after the wedding and snooze a bit so that we could get back out and about and head to my mother's house to see my sister Mere who is in town this weekend also.... (not my mother and sister on my dad and brother's side). We may be able to swing over and have some late afternoon pool time, appetizers, and drinks with Auntie, Moompsy, and Popsickle (my sis and parents) if the babies aren't completely worn out and are willing. Then LATE Saturday evening I will need to be in the kitchen baking in preparation for Sunday's events...

A BABY SHOWER being hosted at my house! I have never hosted a shower so I am really looking forward to this event. I remember how special I felt at my babies' shower and I hope that I will be able to pull this one off. I have some great help among the other 8 hostesses and have learned by watching other's. The most important part in planning a party I think is keeping your "cool" and knowing that what needs to get done will and what doesn't does not matter.

So that is my weekend forecast for you. Pictures and reviews to follow! Have a great weekend everybody!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What A Year It Has Been

Well this video has been a long time coming. For one, I just took the time to figure out how to work iMovie using Nick's Macbook. Two, I had to do some sifting through photos and video. And Third, after I decided on all of my favorite pictures to use I had to go and cut some because there were just so many and I didn't want to make my first video longer than 5 minutes so that people would actually watch it. So here it is. Enjoy!

P.S. I had a lot of fun!

Music by Andrew Peterson and The Beatles

more about "What A Year It Has Been... on Vimeo", posted with vodpod

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Sleepless While You are in Seattle

(Title is a shout out for Mr. and Mrs. Lucas as they vacation way way up and to the left of our state in a place called Washington)

It has been a busy past couple of weeks. July is very different than June. June was the first 4 weeks of my summer vacation and it was very very nice and routine - there's that word again. I went to bed at reasonable hours and woke up 7ish, coffee and journaled while babies played and the laundry spun... remember that really motivated post I made about being the best "tourguide mommy ever?" Well then the HEAT set in and it became easier to just fill the kiddie pool in the back yard than load everyone up in the car and find somewhere to go walk around. July has felt... off balance. I can't seem to committ to a routine. I go to bed late. I wake up at different times every day. I eat whatever is in the fridge because it is easier to just make something rather than plan a meal and go to the grocery store to stock up. Also, Nick has been at a work conference all day and nights till midnight since Monday and won't be home until sometime Friday. I am a creature of habit and routine and don't like many surprises (unless they are wrapped in little boxes with big gold bows). The biggest thing that makes a difference in my mental health is SLEEP. My husband is a night owl and I am just the opposite. I would rather go to bed at 8 and be up at 5 than stay up till stupid ours and "sleep in." My 17 year old sister has spent of couple of night with me this summer and slept until 1pm!!! I let her do it because I want her to feel safe and rested when she stays with me but in the back of my mind I was thinking, "Good gravy what is wrong with this child!?! Exhaustion, alchoholism, depression!?" No- just teenaged. Recently we had friends spend the night on their way from Boston to Atlanta. I had a "you know you are out of practice when..." moment when we all stayed up till(only) 1 a.m. and I (only) had 3 glasses of wine and felt like "you know what" all the next day. When we first moved into our house 2 1/2 years ago and would have friends over we would easily stay up till 2a.m. sometimes later with no problem - sometimes on weeknights with work the next day (gasp). There is something about having kids and HAVING to get up every three hours for 2-3 months straight that just takes it out of you. And I am NOT complaining about this - I do however feel sorry for those people that are putting off kids or may not even want kids because they feel like having kids is the end of your life... that really isn't the case. Yes your life changes... but no it is not the end. I actually saw an episode of TLC Baby Story (which I used to love and now LOATHE) and a mother in labor was crying her face off saying, "my life is about to be over! Promise me when this kid is 5 you will take me to Disney World just the two of us! SOB" How sad is that!?!? Did she grow up AT ALL before she decided to get pregnant!?!? Anywho... so yea. If there is every a time when I wonder when did these bags and circles show up under my eyes I can probably say with certainty May 15, 2008... bags of joy is what I'll call them to make myself feel better... that and Boot's Under Eye Cream from Target.

On a lighter note...

Doesn't every new parent wonder why books are made with "newborn" printed on the label and think to themselves "What newborn is going to read? Does it really make a difference to read to your infant?" The answer is YES it does make a difference. We have several little picture books that we have read to the twins since they were teeny and Harper especially loves for you to lie on the floor with her and read to her. Now, I can walk away and do a few chores, come back in the room, and she has found it all by herself and is flipping through it. Lily, on the other hand, eats the book. Lately I have been telling people how different the two are... H likes personal space and L is my cuddlebug. L likes for you to build block towers so she can knock them down and grin at you waiting on you to clap and cheer her on. We have affectionately named her "demolition Lily." Harper studies the block towers and will poke at them as if she is "testing" how many times and with how much force she can tap each block before the tower crumbles.


It is fun watching their little personalities take their own unique shapes.

So that is about all I have to say at the moment. For those of you that like to leave comments, what are some of your daily routines that make or break your sanity if not kept?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Premenstrual Haiku

Under my blanket
Hormonal hibernation
Please do not disturb.

Monday, June 29, 2009

This was supposed to be a post on procrastination... hold on.

...so this post started out as a post about procrastination and then it turned into something deeper. (don't get too excited, it's nothing controversial, just a stream of thinking...)

Sometimes you put something off for so long that you actually dread doing what your are putting off so much that you keep putting it off. And the thing about procrastination is that normally, the thing you have been putting off isn't that bad once you get started and finally finish. Balancing a checkbook, going to the grocery store, organizing your kitchen drawers, calling a relative, writing a blog...

Believe it or not, I am a "doer." Not to be confused with a "goer." I get this from my dear mother. I am perfectly content being at home creating little projects and or revisiting old ones. I like little tasks and I like chores. I like the feeling of being done with something. I like the feeling that I just made my surroundings more simplified and more comfortable and more clean. Stacey and Clinton (TLC What Not To Wear) say that your wardrobe should reflect who you are as a person (working on that soon too) and I believe that your house should too. You don't have to have a lot of money or the nicest most modern decor in your home to say that you are put together and with the times... that isn't what I am talking about. I am talking about how, for me personally, when my house has clean countertops and floors I feel happy. When clutter is either thrown away or has it's own place, I feel in control. When my bills and calendar are color coded and stacked neatly on the desk I feel like we are one step closer to this idea of "financial peace." When a candle is lit and there are vacuum lines in the carpet, I feel relaxed. When my closet is organized I don't feel like I have nothing to wear. You get my drift.

It isn't all I do though. Obviously, I have two children. People always say, "I don't know how you do it with twins!?!" I have always said, "I really don't know how you do it with one." When Harper was in the hospital with pneumonia and Nick and I alternated staying with her and staying with Lily at home... I felt very "off" taking care of one infant at home... like I wasn't doing enough.

You have heard that things that happen to us in our childhood shape who we are as adults...
I remember going to visit my dad and step mom on the weekends. My STEPmother was a compulsive obsessive cleaner... to the point that I have very vivid memories of waking up in the mornings and making my bed... like I would do at my house, la-ti-da would go play, then coming to my room later and the bed had been "undone" and "re-made" - straighter, tighter, better. And my clothes that I had stacked on the dresser I couldn't find. They had been hung up or folded and put back in my suitcase, in the closet. That always hurt my feelings. I mean, I can see where she was coming from... but the point in telling you all that story is this: my girls will have chores and tasks to do around the house, like make their beds and put away their laundry. But it won't be about how well they do it... just that they do it. I don't ever want to teach them about responsibility and then squash their self esteem by saying "not good enough."

Ok, seriously, I am not like storming off crying and punching the walls saying "not good enough!!! not good enough!!!! I am going to make an omelette and finish watching the Today show :)

Sunday, June 07, 2009

This Will Have to Tide You Over...

-Starting at about 1:00p.m. today I won't see my husband very much until about noon on Wednesday. It is Annual Conference time for the Alabama West Florida United Methodists. Nick and about 1,499 other Methodists will be worshipping, fellowshipping, and taking care of church business ( you didn't know that church had business to handle did you?) at Frazer from today through Wednesday. For you this means 1.) you should say prayers for this event 2.) I most likely won't be doing any major updating on my blog between now and then.
"WHICH IS WHY...WAIT FOR IT, WAIT FOR IT...
I started a Twitter!
and it's gonna be legen-dary" ... if you don't watch How I Met Your Mother, start Net Flix'n it immediately.
I have the next 7 weeks for summer vacation to be spent at home and throughout my day I would catch myself saying one line descriptions of my activities, or something funny a baby just did, or maybe I would hear something ridiculous on the Today show and want to share... so what the heck.

-My sister called me from the Cold Play show in Nashville last night. The first time she called was during the opener, Life in Technicolor. The second time was during Lovers in Japan... I could hear people commenting about the paper butterflies. It kind of made me tear up a little and really miss that night at Oak Mountain - minus the overwhelming blanket of clove smoke, perfection.

-I should mention how absolutely in love with my two daughters I am. I am having so much fun rotating from station to station in the house during the day and going on little quick outings like to Shakespeare or the YMCA. During the times when we are on the floor or in the back yard I talk to them and help them build block towers or read a book... but about every 5 minutes I just close my mouth and watch them with this big grin on my heart. They are so beautiful and becoming such little people. I told Nick the other night to enjoy holding them at night time because before we know it they will be so long... still holdable, but cradling a toddler is not the same as rocking an infant. Parents... agree?

-Today I am attempting to begin on closet organization. Is there such a thing?

I leave you with the most beautiful faces I have ever seen.

Harper's little nose has a tickle

Lily devouring her giraffe


babies

Harper saying, "Pick me Mommy, pick me!"


Harper on the left, Lily on the right

Lily, I can really see her hair is getting lighter

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Owie

Seriously, I am lying on my back, on our bed, with the laptop propped up on my knees/balancing on my stomach... why? Because I have the 2nd worst crick in my shoulder blade and neck I have ever had in my life. The worst was when I was on bed rest for 10 days last year before the babies were born. But this one is pretty bad... not awful. I can still move... but very rigidly and if every move is thoroughly planned out. I will say it is very hard to lift the girls. Typically I carry them with my left side. Seeing how this is the injured side I am having to scoop with both arms and swing child to the right side... but since I can't really turn my face to see her on my right side I end up like... holding her butt with my left hand and her head with my right hand so she is like... lying down in my arms perpendicular to my body while I quickly shuffle from point A to point B. Yikes. It is going to be a long day.

How did this happen? I am not sure. I can say that I have been extraordinarily busy since Monday. Exercising, lifting babies, doing some (though not much) house chores. It could be just one of those things that happens due to over-activity. How the heck do I treat this? Thus far I have had one round of heating pad today and one Icy Hot rub down. This sounds really really bad but I have been saving my last painkiller pill from my CSECTION for a time when I really might need it. Today might be the day... is that a big deal? I really really am hurting.

Suggestions?

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Got Underwear?

So I was reading a friend's blog this morning and she posted about a patient of hers that has Alzheimer's Disease and it made me think back...

Did you know that my first "grown up" job after college graduation I worked as an Activities Director at an assisted living/Alzheimer's care facility? I didn't appreciate it at the time. My position was short lived because I let the pressures of scheduling and community contacts and being a people pleaser break me down, but I do have some really great memories of my relationships with the residents and some of their bittersweet mistakes they made as a result of dementia. (For the record, I was not fired. I resigned after I heard of an opening position with my current "company".)

One of my favorite residents was Rose. Rose had the beginning stages of dementia. She was Italian and lived most of her life in New York. She had to move to Alabama after her husband died - her daughter's husband was serving in the military, stationed here in Montgomery. Rose would come to me almost every single morning and ask,

"Have you seen Ri-chaaad!? He didn't come home last night and I bet he stayed out too late with his friends. If you see'em, tell'em I'm lookin' for 'em!"
I would have to tell her "Rose, Richard is dead. He passed away two years ago, remember?" She would raise her hand to her forehead and say, "REALLY!?! JE-sUUUUUs, how could I forget that!? Oh well... I'm gonna go read the pay-pah now ok? I'll be in they-ah" and she would point to the living room with her cane and hobble off. I know it sounds really sad that someone would have to get the news that their husband died everyday... but in all honesty, she took the news really well, every time.

But my favorite "Rose" story was one day while I was in my office she came in frantically saying...

"Uh, Miss? Miss? Miss, someone stole my unda-way-uh!"
I asked, "Someone stole your underwear?"
"Yeee-ah. I went ta look in my droo-ah this mornin' and I heee-ad only one clean pay-ah."
"Oh, ok. Some one stole your underwear, and you are right, one clean pair is not enough.
Come on, let's go to your room and I'll help you look, maybe you just put them in a box or drawer someplace and forgot to look there."

We walked down the hall towards her room and had to pass by the activities room. Something bright caught my eye as we strolled past. I turned to look and there across the back window overlooking the courtyard, like a birthday banner, were 8-10 pair of huge white "granny pannies" hanging to dry on the blinds, each secured with a wooden clothes-pin. I told her to go on to her room and that I would be right there...

I walked over to the window and sure enough, in the most scribbly black permanent marker handwriting was "Rose" written in the elastic waistband of each garment.
She must have hung them to dry after doing her laundry late the night before. Of course, I took them to her but didn't explain how I found them... it didn't matter how I found them. If she couldn't remember hanging them in such a public place as the Activity and Recreation room then why embarrass her by telling her the news?

Ah Rose, rest in peace.


Tuesday, June 02, 2009

new book breeds new desires

... because it is what you should do when you have a little quiet time in the mornings when babies are sleeping.

While I am still in the middle of one novel, I have started another book this morning by Donald Miller. It is called "prayer and the art of volkswagen maintenance." The title is not capitalized on the cover of the book so I am not capitalizing here either... also, I wanted to underline the title but haven't figured out how to do that. I wanted to share one neat little passage from page 10 that I liked and that I wish I had known about yesterday when I posted about it being the arrival of summer vacation for me. It goes,

"After that we have no plans except to arrive in Oregon before we run out of money. We share a sense of excitement and freedom. Not a rebel freedom, rather, a deadline-free sort of peace. There is no where we have to be tomorrow. There is no particular road we have committed to take...

Clearly, this book is about two guys on a cross country road trip with no jobs and no kids... who does that? I am not considering quitting my job or giving up my kids but experiencing that "deadline-free peace" with them, YES. It may just be a trip to the Farmer's market with them or strolling to the water's edge of the pond at Shakespeare but this summer I want to feel and do things that awaken my inner child and feed my soul. The babies' are too young to finger paint or help me cook... all of that will come in time... but until then I can enjoy the fact that they are just "along for the ride" and be the most awesome tour guide mommy ever... they just woke up from their naps... I think I will take them to the pond... why not?

Monday, June 01, 2009

Summer, Day One

Do you remember that feeling you would get as a little child the night before Christmas or just before going on a big trip? The anticipation... the excitement... the urgency to just get there!?! And then feeling so sad when it was over that you almost wish that everyday was "the night before?" That is kind of what today is like for me. It is day 1 of summer vacation and I have really been paying attention to the clock today and doing things I love to do because 8 weeks is all I have to enjoy being off work. I don't want to sound "braggy" in this post because I am sure everyone reading will think, "must be nice" to have vacation that lasts for 8 weeks when a lot of people can't even get one free evening to do what they want. It isn't bragging... it is just a fact that being a teacher is the best place for me to be at this time in my life. I have complained before that I wish I didn't have to work but if working full time is where God has me right now then working full time as a teacher is the next best thing to being a stay at home mom. I am not bitter anymore about not getting to stay home full time with my kids... I am not even bitter about how expensive child care is. I am just thankful. My heart is full. This morning I made a promise to myself that I would not waste this time. It would be nearly impossible though to feel as though any of this time is wasted seeing that I am home with the two most beautiful baby girls in the world. I have three "big To-Do's" on my list for this summer that will require discipline but they are goals I can achieve. Looking forward to days ahead and living in the moment!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

This Time Last Year


This time last year I was spending my first night in the hospital. TODAY, one year ago, my journey was beginning. I know that may sound silly but I don't even count the day I found out I was pregnant as the start... nor the day I found out it was twins... it was the day I went to the hospital. I remember going to bed on May 4 around midnight (too late, pregnant or not) and being so tired and so swollen and feeling in my heart that something was not right. On the morning of May 5 I called my boss and told her that I needed to go to the doctor and get my blood pressure checked. I went to my OB's office and immediately the nurse looked at me and her words were, "Oh, Laura, you don't look good."

I remember calling Nick on my drive across Taylor Road to Baptist East and saying something like, "Uh they are sending me to Baptist East... triage!?? I have no idea what triage even means? I don't know for how long... maybe you should call in to work and tell them you aren't coming in today and get up here and be with me."

Of course I won't go into the details of tests and checks I endured that day but end of story that day was, "Cool I'm gonna stay a couple nights in the hospital... off work...Chappy's dinners... gotta great book...crossword puzzles...I can do this."

Text messaging from friends and family out the waazooo yada yada... know I idea that just ten days later my life would be so drastically different.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

a peek into my childhood

Friday afternoon was the normal getting off work and heading home at the usual 3:30p.m.
When I got onto Taylor Road just about to turn onto my street I kept driving... and driving. I decided I would take a small detour-out Vaughn Road, right onto Ray Thorington, right onto Pike, right onto the road that takes you to the Troy Hwy., right again on Taylor, then home. You know sometimes when you are driving with the windows down it just comes over you to DRIVE? So that is what I did... the wind and sunshine were just perfect and the tunes were perfect too.

Also, and I know I am not alone on this one, I love the smell of pastures and cow manure. It reminds me of being a child but also of God's open spaces... the places that still look the way He made them. What you may not know about me is that half of my childhood, and some of my college years weekends, were spend at my dad's house which was in Snowden, Alabama on several acres of cow pastures or in their "new house" in Pike Road, Alabama. The Snowden days took being a child "playing outside" to a whole different level. In town, at my mom's house, we played outside running through neighbors yards, jumping in and out of swimming pools, riding bikes on pavement, and never really being out of any adult's sight. In Snowden, we ran around barefoot - knowing we would "get stuck by a mock-orange branch," we waded in ponds, we built our own "forts" - until Dad built us a tree house!!! (which was really like a deer stand in the middle of our tree less back yard but still AMAZING), we threw rocks at the old mossy trees hoping to disturb the gigantic salamanders, and we grew tired of riding our bikes because there was no pavement and because the gravel was too hard, the hills too numerous. So instead, we took turns pulling the others (me and my two brothers) in the red wagon. When it was your turn to pull you were miserable but riding was so fun. I have a very vivid memory of being 8 or 9 and sitting at the edge of the barbed wire fence and watching an old cow stomp her back leg and chomp grass. I remember being absolutely amazed at how much grass she could rip up with one bite and how LOUD she chewed... the thick drool hanging from her bottom rubbery lip. And, I also remember how dark it was at night. This is a true story: my little brother came to me one night and said he had to show me something he was afraid of. We climb up on his bed and he told me there was a secret big black road that only came out at night... we peeked out of his bedroom window and I saw what he was talking about... indeed a huge black "road" stretched out into the backyard... as black as black could be. We pondered and at some point I realized it was only the shadow of our big house being cast onto the yard by the full moon overhead. Of course, I let him believe it was a secret road.

These are the kinds of memories I have and crave when I go driving around "in the country" because back then, anything North of St. James school was "the country."


Sunday, April 26, 2009

This Time Last Year...

"This Time Last Year"

This is the title for my new series of posts. The idea came to me while I was strolling the babies around the neighborhood working on my Vitamin D synthesis (see last post, scroll down). I was thinking to myself how beautiful the day is and how I love the feeling of a good sweat met by the breeze and the smell of neighbors grilling out and little girls and boys running through the sprinklers in their yards. It made me think, gosh I love this time of year. Gosh...remember this time last year!?! I recalled going to watch Hunter G. play little league baseball out at Ray Thorington baseball park with Nick and "Jay-c" and Faye. Me, sitting in a fold up lawn chair, basking in the sun, 5 months pregnant, loving the attention for big "twin sized" belly in my summer tank top, and naturally, eating an entire baggie of hot salty boiled peanuts... because hey, if you can't do this when you are five months pregnant at a little league baseball game in Alabama, when can you?

This time last year the Ledford's came for a visit. Emily, Yvonne, Brea, Ali, and myself... oh! and don't forget little peanut sized Sloan (they had just found out) all played out in the back yard enjoying Spring.
This time last year Nick and I were getting the nursery ready. Picking out wall colors and crib sets and closet organizers. We had just found out "they" would be "girls" and we were thrilled.
This time last year we were expecting...

But not expecting THIS:



Yes, those are my feet, which at the time I affectionately named "Puffers" in all their swollen glory. As I strolled the 2.5 miles today with my girls I thought to myself "this time last year I wouldn't have dreamed of being able to squeeze into these same shoes much less walk 2.5 miles even if barefoot and being chased by a pack of wolves." Notice how in the second picture of my ankle-less ankle, "cankle," the couch has left an impression on my skin. OWWIE! Oh- and those little marks in the first picture? Flip flop indentations.

This time last year...sigh.

Omega 3 and Vitamin D

Today I am stacking up on Omega 3's and Vitamin D.
First off...for brunch I baked 4 ounces of salmon, 2 cups of spinach, and 2/3 cups of whole wheat/whole grain pasta with 1/2 tablespoon of half butter (1/2 EVOO, 1/2butter). One thing that I have been trying to do lately is make every bite count. It was 10:30a.m. and I had been up since 7a.m., skipped breakfast (shame), and didn't want to wait until "lunch time." After all my body was sending me hunger signals. So, it is not even noon yet and already I have had a rich dose of omega3 rich protein, leafy green vegetable, and whole grains.

Second, the sun is brightly shining and we are in April in Alabama which means the days of enjoying your time in the sun are numbering down. So I am loading up the babies and we are going for a stroll. Did you know that the sunlight activates the production of Vitamin B in your skin? I work in a concrete office with NO windows, not the slightest possibility of natural sunlight for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. So Vitamin D PLUS a sun kissed glow what more can a girl ask for? Also, I have gotten into the habit of drinking a tall glass of cold skim milk every night before bed. After child bearing and now that I am pretty regularly weight lifting and exercising it is very refreshing to know that I am putting back in my body what my bones so desperately need, especially on down the road.

Just thought I would share. I feel like I just wrote a mini commercial ;)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Mother's Address a Cold Beer

Yes it is Thursday night at 6:25p.m. My babies are feeling SO MUCH better. Harper has been on the Augementin for 3 days now (?) and doesn't even seem as if she was sick. Lily is on day two of her antibiotic that we give through a shot at the doctors office for three days. She was vomitting every time we gave her the Augmentin which obviously was doing no good for her double ear infection. Tomorrow should be the last day of her antibiotic and as for the throat ulcers she made it through the entire day without needing any tylenol or motrin or "magic mouthwash" (benedryl + malox for the ulcers) Still drooling and drooling and drooling. But hey, I'll take drool over vomit any day of the week. Last night was the first "normal" night as far as sleeping goes this week. They both went down fairly easy at 5:45p.m. and we did not hear a peep until they started chatting at 7a.m. So, no pain - check, eating - check, sleeping - check. Pat on the back to LJM for emergency babysitting Wednesday morning and also to my Mama this morning. When mother's arms can't be enough a God-mother or a Grand-mother will do just the trick. Also, a shout out to all my "go to Moms" -Lindsay, Stephanie, and Tracy - sound "I've been there before advice" and a good warm hug is always welcome. And of course, thank you to all of my blogger support. I sound like I am winning a major award here...

I'll say this too about my adorable and delicious children... they may fall hard at times but boy do they bounce back. I guess that goes for all kids but seriously these kids have been through hell and even in the worst of their trials they are still so incredibly sweet and loving and for the most part easy to manage.

And can I just say that now that H&L have been sleeping 10-12 hours for the last 6 months and then experiencing three nights of getting up every hour I CAN'T believe I did that and functioned for the first 3 months they were home? Seriously. To all my "soon to be parents" readers out there you won't know you are miserable but when you DO sleep again, you will wonder how the hell you did it when you did for as long as you did. You will amaze yourself.

So NOW my hair is wet, the sun is setting on this PERFECTLY SPRING evening, my grass has been PROFESIONALLY chemically treated for weed KILL (THANK YOU NICK!!!!), Ali is content lying in the grass, and the beer (soon to be as as soon as I finish typing this post) in my hand is COLD.