Thursday, December 27, 2012

belated Christmas wishes

every other Christmas
we pack ourselves up 
and head down to North Carolina
to spend the holidays with our family there

this year was one of those NC Christmases
we always spend Christmas day and the couple days before / after it with Daniel's extended family
there's a fun Christmas eve dinner with uncles, aunts, cousins and grands
where we eat a great food, 
catch up on each others' lives
and play the classic gift exchange game

then we spend Christmas morning with the grandparents
eating a fantastic breakfast (we all know how i feel about breakfast)
giving and opening presents together 
visiting with random family who stops by
taking in the beautiful country setting...
it's really lovely

but spending time out in the country with the fam means no internet
which is actually just fine by me - it gives us an opportunity to focus on being together

so, even though it's not the actual day, i still wanted to wish you a merry Christmas
i hope you got a chance to remember the reason we celebrate*
 and enjoyed your family as much as we enjoyed ours - all four generations' worth!  
*read the Christmas story in last year's post here

Monday, December 17, 2012

Thanksgiving at Christmastime

sometimes i lack the words for thanksgiving
because i feel like my heart is about to burst with joy over what He has given me
and i sound like a bit of a bumbling fool as i trip over my words and sentiments

other times, i lack the words for thanksgiving
because i can't see through the fog of my grumbling 
and recognize the evidence of grace in my life

sadly, i've spent more of this past year  in the latter scenario than i'd like to admit

but there have been glimpses sunshine poking through the clouds of my sin
and those moments were sheer grace, where the Lord reached through despite my attitude
and carried me, gently and patiently teaching me about who He is and who I am in Him

this morning was one of extreme thankfulness
for my baby girls, who can be such a challenge, but who are SUCH a joy and a blessing 
for my family and friends, who have gotten me through this tough year
for Jesus and His goodness and His grace and His provision His work in my heart and life
for truth and the gospel - literally, the good news
for forgiveness, 

there have been a few themes that the Lord has been hammering into my heart this year
grace is undoubtedly one of them
i thought i understood grace, and have always been thankful for it
but now, more than ever, i am learning just how amazing it is
i can't even put it into words

this excerpt from a sermon I was listening to over breakfast with the girlies this morning
puts into words a bit of what my heart and mind have been digesting over this past year

"here's the truth...God's grace does forgive you when you fail, but most of the time it's God's grace empowering you to be who you cannot be, to do what you cannot do, by a power you do not possess...the grace of God empowers you to be a new person. yes, God's grace is there to forgive you when you fail, but it's there BEFORE you fail - to change your heart, to change your mind, to change your desires, to reorient your course of life, to make you a different person, to give you meaning and value and purpose and pleasure:  that Jesus is with you, that Jesus is in you, that Jesus is for you that if you do fail, Jesus will forgive you. 
but because Jesus is with you, you don't have to say yes to sin, you can say yes to Jesus. you don't have to say yes to condemnation and guilt and shame and waking up and thinking, "is there any hope for me?" yes there is! and the hope is FOR you, it's not IN you, it's FOR you, IN CHRIST AND THE GRACE OF GOD....
so the Christian life is not something you live for God, it's something that God lives for you in Christ; it's something that Christ lives in you, it's something that Christ lives THROUGH you. and this leads to an explosive, passionate, joy-filled life - this is the best life of all: there's no shame or guilt or condemnation in it and there's eternity at the end of it."

is that not so awesome?!
notice, though, that the grace of God does not promise that life will be a walk in the park
because trust me, it won't be.  
in fact, the Bible warns us that we will face trials
but the Lord uses those trials to shape us and teach us and change us
for our good and for His glory

this is nothing new to me,
but apparently i needed a refresher course
or maybe there's a deeper truth that He's revealing to me through this
i don't know 
what i do know is that i can trust Him
and that i will fail
and that's ok
because even when i am faithless, He remains faithful
and He will sustain me.

and so i am thankful
choosing to be thankful is one of the ways i have gotten through some really dark and discouraging moments
i was once told to look for evidence of grace in life
because if you don't get into the practice of looking for it
you take it for granted and begin to grumble
so i try to be intentional about recognizing the goodness and grace that has been poured into my life
so that i can rejoice in all circumstances
and glorify Him in through doing so

Saturday, December 15, 2012

one year later...sort of

well, I meant to post this yesterday, 
since this photo was taken December 14, 2011
but it's just as well
since today's the girls' 11 month birthday
and that's pretty special too 
happy 11 months, girlies!
my how time flies...
(see one of our favorite recipes in my original 33 week post here)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

baby curls on baby girls

my parents always say I was practically bald for my first year of life
and i think the girls take after me
but, after ten months of working at it, 
they finally have some official curls coming in
don't believe me?  see for yourself! 

she's well on her way to looking like a certain someone i know...

Saturday, December 1, 2012

today's picks

sorry about all the photo-vomit lately
i've been working through this year's worth of pictures
and i'm pretty sure i suffer from the fear of missing a moment
so anytime i think of it, i grab Marcos (my camera) and snap away
anyway, these are snapshots are from back in may
the girlies were around five months old
i love how you can see each of their personalities coming through
and i love that they're mine
i promise i'll get back to more beefy blog posts soon, 
but for now, i'm spending every spare minute on these. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

meeting the great grands

two months ago, we packed ourselves up
and dared to travel with twins under a year lap children!

actually, the travel part was much less stressful than we thought it would be
(although, if you do choose to  be as crazy as we were, I'd recommend getting an extra seat if you can afford it so that you can trade babies off and get a break now and then!)
but you'd be surprised at how friendly (and willing to help!) strangers can be
between all the volunteer helpers, extra snacks, small new toys (novelty is a wonderful distraction), and pacifiers for take-off and landing, we got there and back with minimal tears

but that's besides the point
the point was getting four generations together
we flew down to introduce the girlies to Daniel's extended family:
his grandparents, 

they drove in from all over the place
showered us with hugs and love and even little presents for the girlies 
Daniel's parents graciously hosted us (read: spoiled us rotten) and his sister cashed in her vacation time to visit with us - it was a real treat!
even their neighbors came by to visit, loaned us baby gear to make our stay easier, even showered us with gifts!
we certainly felt blessed.

and watching the girls meet their great grands was so special,
i was camera happy, as always
the girls were surprisingly friendly and un-shy (hooray!)
and a good time was had by all

Monday, November 19, 2012

And again...

just a few more shots of my cute-as-a-button nephew
because i love him 
and because Daniel helped out a ton with the girlies this weekend
so i could power through some photos
still not done, but i'm so thankful for the time i got to carve out
and for the amazing husband he is, of course

Saturday, November 17, 2012

southern snuggles

just looking through some pictures from our last trip down to NC and this one was too cute not to share
apparently, this little bug has an affinity for southern women
that's all for now - hope you're having a great weekend!  

Thursday, November 15, 2012


today my littles are ten months old ....will it ever stop taking me by surprise how fast the time flies by?!?  i started this letter to them two weeks ago, and never published it...better late than never, right?  

Dear baby girls,

You are now nine and a half months old!  I know, it's kind of a weird "milestone," but you're growing and developing new skills so fast, it's hard to keep up.  You can sit up really well now, so daddy and I went out last weekend and bought new "sit-up" toys to keep you busy from your new perspective.  You seem to really like them - as soon as I sit you down in your playpen, the squeals and giggles begin.  Although, they're also forcing you to learn to share...which I know will be a good thing in the long run, but right now it means random shrieks and a few extra tears here and there.

Speaking of your playpen - boy, has that thing been a lifesaver!  I love having a space where I know you can play safely while I catch a bite to eat or quickly get something done.  You tend to want me to sit in there with you towards the end of the day, though, which can sometimes get in the way of dinner-making, but some days I can't help but cave.  We play with your toys or read together or practice sitting down and standing up (you LOVE that game!).  And when daddy gets home from work, he usually jumps right in there and you climb all over him - once, we even had our dinner sitting in there while you played happily beside us.  I guess you just like knowing we're near sometimes - must get that from  your mama.  

Another big step we've taken is putting in you separate cribs...I'm not sure if I'm ready, but it's probably better for you at this point (even though my heart is dragging it's feet about it  - how did you get so big, so fast?).  At least I'm the only one upset here - you're pretty cute about it and peek over at each other from your suddenly-much-bigger cribs.  I took a picture of your first time sleeping separately on daddy's iPad - it is such a blessing it is to be able to grab quick snapshots of your life, even when I don't have time to grab the fancy camera.  Ives, you were definitely ready for your own space and Aria, I'm sure you'll get better sleep out of it - in the mean time, you can cuddle with your pillow instead of your sis.  (please don't send me hate mail / mean comments about that - she loves it because it smells like daddy, and she knows how to turn away from it ...I promise you, I would never do anything to endanger my little ones!!!)  

Girlies, I'm just now starting to look through some pictures we took during your delivery and in those first days with you and I can't believe how far we've come.  Let's be honest, some days are really tough and draining, but the Lord has been so good and I'm learning to look to Him when I fail or when feel like I just can't be the mother you need me to be and He pulls through every time.  Life with you two speaks volumes about His faithfulness; never before have I been able to apply scripture so practically to my life (and watch it's transforming work), and for that, I am SO thankful!

At any rate, I'm so glad to have so many memories captured in those pictures - they really do tell a thousand words; I don't think I realized how valuable they would be to me, and it's not even been a year since they were'll be so fun to show them to you and tell you stories about yourselves when you're older!  I'm beaming just thinking about it.

Anyway, I need to get going - never enough time to get everything done, but such is this season of life and that's just fine.  I love to the moon and back, girlie cues!

your mom

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

whole wheat pumpkin cream cheese muffins

i love muffins
but not the kind that is basically a cupcake without (or sometimes with!) icing
i like a hearty muffin
something i can grab on a busy no-time-to-eat-until-these-kiddos-nap kind of morning
or a guess-its-a-no-nap kind of afternoon

i also love fall produce 
all the squash, apples, pomegranates, persimmons, brussel sprouts, etc, etc, etc
  and pumpkin...i adore pumpkin!
roasted baby pumpkin
pumpkin bread
pumpkin pie
pumpkin spice latte
you really can't go wrong with the stuff!

so it's no surprise that i found myself craving pumpkin spice muffins the other day
i turned to google, found a good looking recipe, tweaked it to suit what i had around the house
and vwalla! 

these guys are not-too-sweet and a good nutritious snack  
the only thing i might do differently, is maybe make a smidge more cream cheese filling
Whole Wheat Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
(borrowed and adapted from this recipe)

makes 12 large muffins


- 3 oz light cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp ground pumpkin pie spice
- canola oil cooking spray
- 2 cups white whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp unsulfured molasses
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large eggs, lightly whisked
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup 2% milk
- 1/2 cup nonfat greek yogurt
- raw, unsalted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or sunflower seeds

- Preheat oven to 350* F. 
- Lightly coat a 12-cup muffin tin with the cooking spray or line with paper cups.
- In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, sugar and pumpkin pie spice until well mixed and set aside.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

hello friends,

it's been too long 
we had sick babies
and i thought "i'll have to put blogging on hold until they get better"

then they got better
and i learned a valuable lesson
if sick babies = busy, then healthy babies = crazy busy!

these little bugs are getting into everything all of a sudden!
it's fun and exhausting all at the same time
 and boy is it time consuming

i've also been using whatever spare time i can scrape up to work on some personal projects
one of which had me looking through old pictures of the girls
i ran into these to from back in june and just had to share 

this mama's heart is just gushing  :) 

Friday, October 19, 2012

It's his birthday!

today he turns 28
nine years ago, i told him "happy birthday" for the first time
we had just met, but i knew him enough to know he didn't have much of a sweet tooth
what i didn't know, was that he made an exception for cookies
which is why is mom made a "cookie cake" or "pizookie" every year for his birthday

fast forward a couple of years
we're newlyweds, and his mom lives clear across the continent
so i decide to carry on the tradition

it's taken us a couple of years to find the perfect recipe
but we did, and now we refer to it as "THE" cookie
perfectly chewy, just the right amount of sweetness and whole wheat, believe it or not!
Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

- 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter (I sometimes pull it out of the fridge a bit early so it's easier to cream)
- 1 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips 
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour (Trader Joe's has the best price I've found)
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup brown sugar (I sometimes use a tad less if I want something less sweet)
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 large egg

- Preheat your oven to 350*.
- Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.  
- Using a hand or stand mixer, cream the butter, brown sugar and vanilla extract on medium speed until well combined - about one minute.  Increase mixer speed to high and beat for 15 seconds.  
- Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the egg.  Blend on medium speed for 30 more seconds.  
- Add the dry ingredients and combine on low speed until just a few dry streaks remain.  
- Add the chocolate chips and mix for a few seconds until combined. 
- Scrape the batter into a greased 10-inch round cake or pie pan.  
- Press the batter into a smooth and even layer and bake until lightly golden and puffy around the edges (the center should still be quite soft) for 18 to 20 minutes.  
- Cool for 10 minutes then run a knife around the edges to release the cake.  
 - Try to let cool a bit before digging in, it tends to fall apart when still warm. (we're not so great at this step...)


 happy birthday, daddy; it's been a heck of a year!
we love you so much and are so happy to celebrate you today - here's to another year of adventures together.
love, your girls

Monday, October 15, 2012

three quarters of a year down

these little bugs turned 9 months old today!
i took these pictures at lunch
i love their sleepy, we-just-got-up-from-a-nap faces
i love how their hair is now long enough to get a little "messy" now, maybe even to curl a bit!
how they light up when they see family and friends, 
how they make silly faces, 
how big-girl they're looking with their teeth coming in
even though they're still so small (their outfits today were newborn onsies and 4 month pants!),
how every month that goes by, we get to see more of their little personalities.
and let me tell you, they've got some spunk to 'em!
what i don't love, is that their sick (again, i know!)
pretty sure it's just croup so it's not a huge deal
but they're pretty sad about it
and their appetites are suffering a bit
so if you have a minute, we would appreciate your prayers!

happy 9 months, girly-cues...feel better soon!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

this heart was once dead, and now it overflows

this one's gonna be long 
so grab yourself a mug of something warm and have a seat, 
i want to share with you a bit about a journey i've been on

because my heart is full,
but my words feel clumsy
and i have never been very articulate,
despite having much to say

the past nine months of my life have been a roller coaster
full of emotions i can't control
and i like control, so it's actually been a bit of a rough go

countless times, i have looked at daniel, tears tumbling down my face, and said,
 "this is the hardest thing i have ever done"
"God obviously has more faith in my ability than i do"
"this isn't fair!"
etc etc etc

i've struggled so deeply
with stress about not being able to be "the perfect mother"
with comparisons to others who seem so pulled together
with loneliness and guilt
with fear about not being able to care for my babies properly
with despair about the ugliness that lies within me because of my sinful nature
the anger
the frustration 
the insecurity

i've also experienced much joy
in those early morning quiet moments when i've stolen a moment with the Lord
in those late night cuddles when i've nursed happy, healthy babies
in the midday business that's yielded so many firsts...
...smiles, rolling over, teeth, sitting up, babbling, "twinspeak"...

with the girls being born in january, 
i've had a chance to experience life differently this year right from the beginning
there has been much anticipation, anxiety and excitement about what lies ahead
"what will the next season with my littles be like?"
i wonder, pray, dream...

let me tell you, it hasn't been at all like what i thought it would be
the first few months were a blur
dark, cold and sleepless days and nights 
led to breakdowns, postpartum blues, anxiety, panic attacks

then we hit spring, 
still not much sleep, but a bit more rewarding 
the longer days were uplifting
but not as uplifting as the family and friends who literally put their lives on hold
to support me 
hold my babies 
listen as i rambled on about my fears and struggles
put up with my irrational and often harsh words 
reassure me
pray for me
send encouragement my way
bring me little things to brighten my day
wash my dishes, (because i never could keep up with the bottles, pump pieces, etc)
change hundreds, probably thousands, of diapers
fly countless miles so i could take a break now and then
make sure i'm eating
and the list goes on...

summer brought sunny, warm days 
(after a crazy cool june, that is)
the girls continued to grow,
and despite being super small for their age, they were healthy
and learning new things every day
it was exciting, busy, better

i finally began to look past myself and my struggle to see all that the Lord had done
the roller coaster of emotions and struggles carried on, but i was beginning to see His hand in it all:
His provision, His sovereignty, His grace, His goodness, His love
and to be truly grateful for it all 

"I am the LORD, and there is no other, 
besides me there is no God; 
I equip you, though you do not know me, 
that people may know, from the rising of the sun
and from the west, that there is none besides me; 
I am the Lord, and there is no other.
I form light and create darkness, 
I make well-being and create calamity, 
I am the LORD, who does all these things."
Isaiah 45:5-7

And now, as we move into fall and winter,
which are usually the toughest seasons for me to face, 
i've been battling my "end of summer meltdown"
(you know it's bad when you have a name for it)
it happens every year

but this year it's been...different (surprise, surprise!)
i can't even really explain how
it's been more of a back burner feeling than an actual moment where i melt down
maybe because i really don't have the time to sit down and deal with it; 
there are mouths to feed, bums to change and tears to be soothed away
but it's still hard to ignore the resident knot in my stomach...
i know it may sound silly to most people, 
but to me, it's a real life battle that i face
and it makes living harder
and if i'm not careful, it gives satan a chance to sneak into my head
to steal my joy, to turn my focus inwards instead of upwards, to keep me from giving thanks in everything

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.  Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour...And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 5:6-8 and 10-11

this morning, as the girls were napping 
(thank you, Jesus!)
i sat down with my Bible in one hand and my coffee in the other
 (once again, thank you, Jesus!)
and as i read, the Lord began reminding me of His goodness, His grace, how He has redeemed His people,
 how He values me and my cares (no matter how silly they are!),
how His grace is sufficient to carry me through anything that i come up against

 But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for  my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

when i started this blog, i promised myself that i would be real on it
that i would speak my heart and share both my highs and my lows
in hopes that at the very least, it would serve as an outlet for me, but more importantly, it may make a difference in the lives of others who feel the same way

the first three-quarters of this year have been the most difficult months of my life so far
and i'm just now getting to a point where i have the strength to share a glimpse of what has been on my heart and mind
but early on in this role of motherhood,
the Lord laid on my heart that I should share my experiences to minister to and encourage others
so here i am
because trials should not be wasted, but redeemed.

i know He is not finished teaching me and working on my heart
i know there is still so much to learn 
i know that i am on a journey of redemption and this is a season of much work in my heart

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. 
Philippians 1:6

i wish i could sit down and tell you all the details, 
but between my memory failing me and there not being enough time in the day,
this snapshot will have to do
i hope it encourages and challenges you
but more importantly, i hope it draws you to Him and tells you of how wonderful He is.
that He has a plan 
that we can trust Him
that He always comes through and He's always on time, 
even if it doesn't look that way
even if we don't see it come full circle in our own lifetimes

because when it's all said and done, its all about Him.  

Sunday, October 7, 2012

its been too long...

Well, I've done it again.  I've dropped off the radar for far too long.  I'm beginning to realize that at this stage in my and the girls' lives, that's just going to have to be the way it is.  

I love this blog:
the creative outlet it allows me,
the place to write and speak my mind and work through my thoughts,
the sweet little community of readers who've come along
--its wonderful.

But I'm going to have to come terms with the fact that consistent posts with two busy (read: non-napping) babies is just not going to happen.  There will be periods when I'll get to post often and periods when the girls get sick / we have to get ready to travel / new teeth cut through / things just get busy / etc, which is exactly what happened between the last post and now.  

I have, however, had my trusty iPhone by my side and a healthy Instagram addiction documenting little bits and pieces along the way.  And now that we're home from another lovely trip to see the fam in NC, I've finally been able to find a moment to share a glimpse of our past few weeks:

my little sickies
two front teeth! 
pretty scenery along the way
our time in NC


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