Monday, November 15, 2010

Fall activities and colors

We've really enjoyed this fall. The kids really like their weekly activities, and the weeks always fly by for me and AJ. Friendships are continuing to grow, and we're feeling more and more at home here. My favorite weekly activities have been the marriage course we took at church the last 10ish weeks and MOPS. It's been great to have scheduled time to talk about deeper issues with AJ. It feels like our marriage is better than ever! My friendships at MOPS have been a big blessing. It's a place where I feel at ease and enjoy the relationships I'm forming there. I also really miss Midland friends lately, but I know it takes time to allow friendships to grow.

I'm not sure what Drew's highlight has been this fall. Maybe the morning that the trash truck comes by our house. He's been pretty happy wherever he goes, as long as they have trucks and choo choo trains. I love Wednesday nights with him. We go on a date while his sisters are at AWANA and Daddy works. If you ask what we do on our dates, he'll tell you we give kisses (such a treat to just hold one kid and love on him a bunch!), go on walks in the stroller, and go shopping. The church where we go to AWANA is a long way from our house so we spend the evening doing errands. Drew's beginning to sing (his favorite is "Hot Cross Buns") and remember books that we read often which are the books with trucks or trains.

The girls' favorite part of the week is AWANA. It warmed my heart recently when we were reading bedtime stories, and they starting quoting AWANA verses that correlate with the Bible stories we were reading.

A few weeks ago we had the huge privilege of bringing home Cubbie Bear (actually two of them). Each week one kid (or one set of twins) gets to take Cubbie home to take care of him. I think it may have been the biggest highlight of the girls' little lives so far! Big hug for Cubbie from Jenna.

Gymnastics has been another big highlight, and it's been helpful to learn some skills we can work on at home too. We're in our last month of taking gymnastics because it's too expensive, but we'll keep doing gymnastics at home.

And this is the view I've enjoyed out our kitchen and dining room windows in the last week. We love living in the woods!

Another big highlight this fall was last weekend. The kids went to stay with Grandma and Poppie's. AJ's brother and wife and a Midland friend and his fiancee came to visit. We went to see Wicked together and just hung out, talked, and played games. It was so refreshing! When they headed home, AJ and I redeemed a gift certificate we received at Christmas and went to a lodge on Arkansas's highest point: Mt. Magazine. The fall colors were beautiful, and we loved the one-on-one relaxing time!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pumpkin Patch

We definitely missed the fabulous Fiddlesticks Farm in Midland, but we enjoyed a trip to a pumpkin patch last weekend. We actually got to pick our pumpkin from a field, which was a fun treat! The kids also liked the hay ride (Is anyone else used to calling it a hay RACK ride? AJ says I'm the only one he's ever heard call it that!) behind a tractor, the corn box, and the hay maze.

It's beautifully green here (and beginning to turn orange, red, yellow, amazing!), but I decided black and white was a fun look for this set of pictures.

Drew was determined, a commonly seen trait in our son, to pick up this large pumpkin.

He loved to run around the hay maze and laughed so hard anytime someone found him. We love to hear him laugh!

The girls enjoyed being buried in this corn

Drew spent some quality time with this old, sweet dog.

Riding behind a tractor!

The reason it always looks like I'm squeezing the life out of this boy in pictures is because tickling him is the only way to get a good smile for a picture.

Jenna adores him...really we all do. I love watching him be a daddy!

The Blackburns' Fall Visit and Finger Sucking

My parents came a couple weekends ago, and we had a great time with them! A couple highlights were the car they brought after rescuing it from a neighbor who was giving it away and an air show. Our kids can't get enough of time with their Grammy and Grandpa!

Unfortunately, the only speed avaiable is quite fast, so here's my mom running next to crazy driving Lydia.

Jenna preferred to stay out of the car and hold Grandpa's hand.

At the airshow, Drew was in heaven! Trucks, planes, firetrucks...his dream world!

In the last month, we've been working hard on helping the girls quit their finger sucking habits. We're seeing great success, and two pieces of advice were most helpful.
1. Sticker charts: we had to divide the day into several parts so that they could have some success, but this was the key in making them active participants in the effort to quit. They were quite motivated by a sucker or a trip to the dollar store with Daddy!

2. Band-aids: when it's time to sleep, we put a band-aid on their fingers to remind them not to suck. Someday we'll have to do it without band-aids, but both girls are working toward their final reward by going several days and nights in a row with no sucking! Yippee! Success...finally!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Drew prays

Here's the other precious one that makes being a mom worth all the work.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Sweet Jenna

Sweet Lydia

I have the best job

Today I started the day pretty grumpy. It's my day to take my kids to a friend's and have the morning to get things done alone. But we both have sick kids, so I needed to keep them with me. It's turned out to be a fun day, though. Everybody's feeling better today so we went to run errands including a donut shop. They patiently waited while I picked out the supplies to make a fall wreath, and we found some cute bedding for Drew's big boy room. Then, out of the blue, this came out of Jenna's mouth during lunch. The girls say it every so often, but I'd never videoed it. I decided it was time. Scroll up to "Sweet Jenna" to see this video.

Then, Lydia liked the idea of being on camera, so Jenna captured "Sweet Lydia." (scroll up)

In other news, we've started our fall activities and are having fun. I'm still questioning if we're doing one too many things, because the kids are pretty worn out at one point in the week. We'll have to keep evaluating. We're doing library story time, a marriage course at church (it's our best option for a date night right now because they include dinner and childcare in the cost for the course), MOPS, AWANA, and a ladies Bible study at church. The girls' definite favorite is AWANA--they love it!

No, they don't always match, and they don't usually sit so still right next to each other. But I had to seize the moment this week at story time.

Oh, and the girls just joined gymnastics. We've been pursuing non-surgery options for treating Lydia's strabismus (eye crossing), and we went to see a developmental optometrist in a town 2.5 hours away (it's the closest we could find). She helped me understand the implications of Lydia not using her eyes together, primarily a lack of depth perception. She says surgery can fix the cosmetic problem but doesn't address the brain problem of using the eyes in sync. So... she says this can lead to trouble with eye-hand coordination, tracking when reading, etc. This all rang a bell based on what we had noticed in Lydia, so we're ready to follow her suggestions in hopes that her brain can be re-trained to use both sides and also both eyes at once. One idea was to start gymnastics because she says using both sides of her body's large muscles will start to train the brain to do the same with the smaller muscles. She's also put tape on the inside of her glasses in hopes of giving her feedback when her eyes do cross and make them want to straighten out so that she can actually see. So, that's why we've started gymnastics for both girls. What a fun therapy option! We're praying for wisdom in knowing what steps to take next, especially since this doctor is so far away and isn't in network with our insurance.

Boy or Girl?

We've decided not to find out! We're getting crazy and going for the surprise this time around. Everybody who's done it both ways says it's totally worth it, so we'll see for ourselves. I'm planning a VBAC again, and I'm thankful to have found a doctor here in Little Rock who agrees that this is a great plan for us.

Here's a picture from 13 weeks. I'm now 16 weeks and feel great! My belly got big fast, but I don't think it's grown too much since then...I hope! AJ even asked me the other day if we're sure we're not having twins. Stinker!

The girls continue to talk to the baby regularly. When they hear a song with the word baby, they say, "Baby, this song's about you!" And of course Mommy gets to help the baby talk. Drew loves to pat the baby and sometimes claims he has a baby in his tummy.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Colorado, Montana, and home again

While AJ enjoyed views like this on a trip to Glacier National Park with his dad and brother,

and impressing everybody he met at a Chick-fil-A training in Atlanta to be a Grand Opening Trainer,

the kids and I went to stay with my parents in Colorado Springs for two weeks. AJ was so sweet to orchestrate the details so that we weren't left home alone. I didn't do a very good job of taking pictures, but here's a few.

While in Colorado, the kids loved gardening, playing outside in the beautiful weather, playing with friends, yummy treats homemade by Grandma and from the ice cream truck, and lots of playing with Grandpa, Grammy, and even Great Grandma who came to visit for a couple days. The big memory from the trip was the wild bunny AJ found on the road in his few hours at my parents' between his two trips. My mom suggested that we let the kids have it for a pet while at their house. Unfortunately, it didn't even live the one week we had left there, but they still loved having a pet for a short time.

The day after Drew was released from the hospital for some more breathing issues, my mom and I made the trek with the girls to Cheyenne, WY for AJ's cousin's wedding. It was a big treat to see so many family members, and my dad was so kind to keep Drew so that he could recover at home.

Here's a shot of the great grandkids of Great Grandma Maggie's who made it to the wedding.

Another big highlight was a trip to The North Pole the day before we left for Arkansas. It's an amusement that's really geared for small kids, and we had a great time!

When asked what they want for Christmas, they just stared. We'll enjoy it while it lasts!

The kids loved this tram even though it went high above the ground. As long as things don't go fast, we can handle them!

This was Drew's favorite. There were no lines, so when he finished riding the bus, he'd yell (that's really the only volume he uses) for the firetruck or motorcycle and rode it many times in a row.

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for a fun memory and for hosting us for two fun weeks!

Friday, September 3, 2010

A summer in Arkansas

Well, it's been hot and humid, but we've enjoyed getting to know new people, spending time with family, and a few visitors too. May was full of trips then we were mostly home for June and July then went to Colorado for a couple weeks in August (post coming later). Here's a few picture highlights.

We were thrilled to have Julie Brown (a sweet Midland friend, favorite babysitter, and discipleship teammate) come visit for a long weekend.

Julie and the kids on a hike at Mt Magazine

We love living closer to family and having opportunities to see them more often!

Hugs for cousin Alexandria

My friend, Sarah, and I have been swapping babysitting to give each other a break once a week. It's been nice, and the kids have a good time together!

Lydia and Matthias

Popsicles are a definitely summertime must!

The new Mr and Mrs Chaney came to visit in July. Travis was a huge hit with the kids!

Making dinner with Auntie Gigi

And my favorite summer pictures of the kids:

Reading stories to their babies. Everyone's dresses were made by my mom--adorable!
The girls are starting AWANA this year and love going to story time at the library, playing with friends, and dancing, singing, and playing with their sister and brother at home.

Drew loves to stand at the counter and be my helper. He loves trucks and choo-choo trains. His favorite thing to do is stand by a road and pump his fist asking trucks to honk at him (Daddy taught him one day, and it's a cute guy thing they like to do). He plays more and more with his sisters, has strong opinions about most things, and is very loud pretty much all the time. We think he's so handsome, and we laugh at him a lot.

In other news, he's been diagnosed with reactive airway disease which is pretty much asthma in little ones. We're hopeful that he will grow out of it with time, but for now any allergy season or cold brings lots of inhaler puffs, concerns about having to go back to the ER, and a need to watch him very carefully.

All in all, we're doing great and really enjoying our current life stage!

A baby! A baby! A baby!

When I found out I was pregnant, the thing I wanted to do most was tell the girls the exciting news! However, I knew I had to wait unless we wanted the whole world to know right away. The day of my 8 week appointment, we decided it was time. I made these stick people pancakes to represent our family and used sprinkles to decorate, including a special design on everyone's shirt using their favorite color. When we brought the kids down, they immediately named everyone then got to the little person on the end. "Who's that?!" We told them that Mommy has a baby in my tummy and that they get to be big sisters again. Jenna gave my belly a strange and confused stare then both girls were full of big smiles. Then came our favorite comments:
"Mom, God answered my prayer!" -Jenna
"I'm SO excited!" -Lydia

The girls continue to check on the baby often, asking if she's hungry and quickly telling me to start eating. They've also asked if the baby will be okay when I'm driving and if it hurts the baby when they touch (or elbow during story time) my tummy. Drew loves to pat my belly and say "Baby!" I'm 12 weeks now, feeling great, beginning to show, and super excited! And...AJ's working on my stamina and is trying to convince me that we should wait til Baby's birthday to find out the gender. I'm pretty sure he's going to win this with his logic, just like he does most arguments.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Do Re Mi

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The tap dance house

Here's a few pictures of our new home. We closed Friday and plan to move in mid-April. We hope to clean a bunch and do some repairs between now and then.

Your car belongs in this driveway for a visit!

We call it the "tap dance house" because of this front room where our realtor taught the girls to tap dance one time while we were looking at the house.

I love all the light in this kitchen/dining room!

Another favorite part of the house is the way it's so wooded in the back.

A laundry ROOM (not closet)!

This is the extra bedroom upstairs. We'll use it as a playroom...something we were really hoping for in our Little Rock house. The floor is laminate, and I'm not sure yet how I'll make it cheery and fun in here.

We're grateful for the chance to call this house our home for now. Thank you Lord!

Friday, March 19, 2010


It's been a super fun week! Last Friday was my birthday. I had lots of fun helping the kids make a cake then enjoyed dinner at Pei Wei with AJ and the kids then shopping at a twin consignment sale. Last weekend we went to Fayetteville to spend time with Ben and Maggie and a few other great friends. The kids laughed so much while playing with their doggy cousin Tusk. It kind of makes us want a dog, but only kind of.

This week has brought some fun people to Little Rock. We had family pictures taken by a high school friend of AJ's who was in town from California. A college friend, Meredith, from Kansas came through last night, and we loved catching up with her over dinner, games, and of course some music. And the Smiths (some dear friends from Midland who grew up in Little Rock) are here for Spring Break. This morning the kids and I went to the zoo with them, and tomorrow we get to have dinner with them! The fun parents will be here this weekend to spend their spring break with us. We're so excited!

Drew is doing much better now! We're almost done with the medications and breathing treatments that were prescribed as we left the hospital, and he's so happy and fun now that he's feeling better. He loves dogs and trucks and makes my day each morning when I go into his room and he says, "Hi Mommy!" Not sure why he loves to wear these necklaces, but he puts them on several times each day. I'm sure he'll grow out of it!

Saturday, March 6, 2010


We're home and so happy to have Drew in a place where he can safely crawl around and play. He's adjusting to breathing treatments every 4 hours. He's been taking lots of steps today too! Thank you, Lord, for his improved health and for family who are close enough to come take care of the girls while we were at the hospital!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

While I have time...other news

First, a few fun Valentine's day shots. We had fun baking heart cookies and taking them to neighbors and friends, making our traditional cheesecake (this one was Chocolate Raspberry, and it's the best we've ever made), and dinner out with the kids.

The Midland house is SOLD! I can't even say "our house" anymore. Sad. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all the wonderful friends who have helped us finish up with moving, cleaning the house, getting keys to the right people, etc. We're praying that we'll get to come back to Midland someday. We miss doing daily life with you.

Our offer on a house in Little Rock that we really like has been ACCEPTED. It's a short sale, so we're waiting to see what the inspector says since we get the house "as is". We have to be sure it doesn't need expensive fixes, but if everything checks out okay, we're scheduled to close March 30. I need to get a picture of it.

We now have furniture! I missed the washer and dryer the most, but it's fun to have things like the couches, dressers, the piano, etc. It's really exciting to think of really settling in the house we'll buy, but this is a very comfortable in-between.

We had fun celebrating AJ's birthday. It was simple...a painting from the girls, his favorite dinner, cake, but we had fun loving on the best hubby and daddy in the world!

We're loving being so close to AJ's family. I went to visit them while AJ went to Midland to move our stuff to Arkansas. We also went to the Little Rock zoo with Grandma, Poppie, and all the cousins last weekend and had a great time. What a treat to get together more often.

Picnic at the park after the zoo

Drew is walking! He took 7 steps then 10 steps two different days before he got sick. I think he'll take off once he's feeling better. Video to come.