Tuesday, December 25, 2012

merry christmas

Last Christmas we had babies.  This Christmas we have kids.  

It's been a truly magical day.  Frances smiled from the moment she turned the corner in the kitchen and spotted her new toys until the second we tucked her into her crib.  She was truly giddy.  She loved each new thing she found, but couldn't get over the fact that she had her very own car.  She sat in her pink car for most of the day, laughing and playing and babbling.  

Barnes was mesmerized by it all.  He played with his new toys all day, never once going into the living room to check on his old ones.  He cooked in his kitchen for much of the day, and he definitely loved his car and new crayons, but he was obsessed with his new stuffed dog.  Barnes drug his dog (which is as big as him) all through the house.  He took it on rides in his car.  He made it sit on the couch.  He hugged it and kissed it and used it as a pillow when he got tired.  

Christmas was more wonderful than ever before.  It was the kind of day that makes you think, "How could I possibly want more kids?  The two I have are so perfect, and they are to such a fun stage."  It was the kind of day that makes you think, "How could I possibly not want more kids?  The two I have are so perfect, and I would be honored to get to do this whole thing again."

I pray that your Christmas was full of love and wonder.  Wonder for your families, your children, your friends, your abundance.  And wonder above wonder for the Christ child sent today.

Merriest of Christmases from our family to yours.

making breakfast

my very own car
b and his dog
race time

my sweet miracles

Sunday, December 16, 2012

finding the perfect tree

Last December, I was determined to find the perfect tree for the twins' first Christmas.  So Andrew and I drove to several tree lots, taking turns getting out to check out the options, while the twins slept in the back of the car.  This year, I knew the shape and fullness of the tree wouldn't matter as much...it just needed to withstand the terror of two toddlers.  And there was no leaving the twins in the car while we quickly surveyed a lot.  Nope.  This year, we had lots of help.


For the past few days, I had been thinking, "I really need to blog.  Something light and happy and cheerful.  I need to lighten it up a bit around here."  And then Friday happened.  There is no light when 6 educators have been shot.  There is no light when 20 six and seven year olds have been killed.  There is no light as I read this morning that the youngest victim, a six year old boy, had a twin sister who survived. 

Reading these stories makes us feel heavy and sad and hopeless.  This tragedy darkens our world, even at a time when we are preparing to celebrate the most joyous occasion. 

Jesus was born to bring true light to our world.  The light of love and goodness and truth.  How do we reconcile His presence, His love for us and for every child of God, with this massacre?  Well, for me at least, the two are irreconcilable.  For years now, I have eschewed the common phrase that "everything happens for a reason."  Instead, I choose to believe that sometimes bad things just happen.  God didn't intend them, and he mourns right along with us. 

But I do believe that, when we let Him, God can teach us and mold us when we feel we are facing the ugliest of circumstances.  This tragedy reminds us that we truly are all a community.  In our neighborhoods, our cities, our states, our country, and even our world, each life is intertwined.  We are all neighbors.  And Jesus was clear about this--we must love our neighbor as ourself (Mark 12:31).  So in the days that follow, as we continue to process this unthinkable act, I pray that we would all examine how we are doing as neighbors.  How do we support those who grieve?  How do we protect the most vulnerable among us?  How do we help those who need it most?  How do we set examples of love and service in our own homes?

May we all hold the victims and their families in our hearts this season.  May God bring them moments of comfort and light as only He can.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

poor santa

We are still sad.  We are still lost.  But life continues.  Most importantly, life continues to get more and more interesting for our sweet b&f.  We never want them to be affected by any of this--we want to guard them from our sorrow--so we are careful to fill their days with fun just as we always have.

This week we got to tag along while Andrew attended a conference in Chicago, so b&f got to meet Santa.  The real one.  The one at Macy's Santaland.  He was storybook perfection, with his jingle bell suspenders and wispy white beard.  I'm not so sure that b&f appreciated how special he was:

a less traumatic moment atop the john hancock building.  i promise this is not posed.
just a rare moment when sibling love shone through.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

the post i never wanted to write

When Andrew and I began our path through the life of infertility, we made a conscious decision to live that life out loud.  When we got pregnant with the twins, we took that to a whole new level, sharing our experiences in this blog.  Since that time, countless phone calls, conversations, emails and messages have assured me that God is using our story.  We are no different from any other couple facing difficulties while building their family, except that God has given us the grace to be transparent about it.  And in small ways, I believe that God is using our transparency for good.  But here's the catch--when you decide to live out loud, when you decide that God has called you to transparency, that means you must share the good and the bad.  You must be honest about both sides of the infertility coin.  After all, not every treatment works.  Not every IVF (or other treatment option) ends with a beautiful baby in your arms.  Fertility treatments are never a guarantee...not even close.  So with a heavy heart, I feel compelled to share the latest chapter in our journey.

Thursday morning Andrew and I were in Chattanooga hoping to continue building our family.  When we did IVF in January 2010, we had two embryos transferred (our sweet B&F).  On the day they were transferred, three other embryos were still growing.  Overnight, two of those arrested, leaving only one.  That little fighter, who we have always known as bittiest, was frozen through a process that was, at the time, state of the art.  

Since the day this embryo was frozen, we have longed to have him home with us.  So in August we set the date--December 6th--to have him transferred.  For four months we eagerly anticipated this day.  Our doctor said that the embryo was of great quality when frozen and believed we had a very good chance of getting pregnant.  We tried to manage our expectations, but were already so attached to this little one that it was difficult.

I started medication in mid-November to prepare my body.  While the medication protocol is much more manageable for a frozen cycle, it is still not easy.  The exhaustion and the pain from the shots were quite difficult while caring for two 15 month olds.  Then, on Wednesday afternoon, we headed to Chattanooga.  We knew there were three possible outcomes: 1) that the embryo wouldn't survive being thawed, 2) that it would survive but we wouldn't get pregnant, or 3) that we would get pregnant.  We were in no way prepared for what ended up happening.

As we arrived in the waiting room, I received a phone call.  It was our embryologist.  Trust me when I say that you never want to get a phone call from your embryologist on the morning of your frozen embryo transfer.  Before I even got through the door to the office, she held me as I sobbed.  She didn't try to stop me, so we knew it was bad.  When they thawed our embryo, about 90% of it had already arrested.  It was most likely damaged during the freezing process, so it never had a chance.  As our luck would have it, however, a tiny sliver of it remained alive.  Let me be clear--this is not a viable embryo.  With this damage, it cannot result in a pregnancy.  But they couldn't tell us that it was 100% gone.  So we had to make a difficult decision.  We could leave it there to arrest, have it transferred and stop meds (which would hasten the end), or continue as planned.  The embryologist said that she personally wouldn't have it transferred; the ivf coordinator said that she personally would.  At the end of the day, it wasn't about trying to have this baby, but doing what we could live with.  So we chose to have it transferred.  I felt more comfortable allowing it die in its intended home...we wanted it to come home with us in whatever way it could.

Clearly we wanted this baby so much.  But with the outcome we are facing, it would have been much easier if it had completely not survived.  It could have been over.  Now I will continue medicine for 9 days and have to confirm what we already know with a home test.  It's going to be a long couple of weeks for us, and we appreciate your prayers.  We are heartbroken right now for the child we longed for, and a bit lost as well.  It's unclear where we can or will go from here.  We desperately want more children, but our resources are quite honestly drained.  We do not feel that our family is complete, but are trying to adjust our expectations to what may be our normal.  

Monday, December 3, 2012

why every baby should be a twin

When B&F were teeny, I never thought I would say this, but now I truly believe that all babies should be twins.  Maybe the world would be a smidge better if every little one came with a built in partner.  Why?

  • Twins have an automatic playmate.  They don't depend solely on their parents for entertainment. They have a best friend from the moment of conception.
  • Twins learn to share very early.  As soon as they recognize that there is another little human around, the process of learning to share begins.  I'm not claiming that b&f have sharing down to an art at 15 months, but we are already seeing glimmers of generosity that warm this mommy's heart.
  • There is always someone to eat the food that they don't want.  Frances loves grapes....like, is obsessed with grapes.  Barnes likes them, but gets over them rather quickly.  When Barnes is finished with his grapes, he knows he can pass them over to Frances's high chair, where they will be disposed of properly.  
  • Twins are forced to realize that the world doesn't always revolve around them.  Even at a young age, they see that they may not always get what they want.  As sad as it sounds, sometimes I have to let one of my kids cry.  If the other actually needs me, then one may be left on the floor in tears.  And do you know what usually happens?  By the time I can get to the tantrum-throwing twin, he or she has picked himself up and began playing again.  I truly believe that learning this lesson early in life will serve them well.
  • Twins have a partner in crime.  Our little monkeys are already quite mischievous, and they feed on each others' sly ways.  I can only imagine that this will be loads of fun for them as they grow.
  • Both parents get to hold a baby...all the time.  This doesn't always feel like a benefit, but at the end of the night, when both Andrew and I are sitting and reading to a child one-on-one, I realize how special it truly is.
Having twins is a unique adventure--one that I never imagined I would experience.  But I am thrilled that I get to experience the craziness of raising more than one baby of the same age, with all of its joys and hardships.

Next, why every baby should be an only child....

Saturday, December 1, 2012

a house full of thanks

For Thanksgiving this year, Andrew's family made the long trek from South Carolina to West Lafayette, and we had a wonderful time celebrating together.  I am so, so lucky.  My in-laws are nothing like the jokes or horror stories you often hear.  They really aren't in-laws at all....just fabulous people that I inherited when I married Andrew.  We are ever so grateful for the few days we were able to spend together this holiday.

pajama party with aunt e

watching the parade with my best friend, stella

starting the day right with a little beverage and the black friday ads

thanksgiving kisses from brother

sliding with gigi

my big girl

our family of six

three generations of shafer men

we got to eat at the big people table...i wasn't impressed

and then we got to break out our holiday wear

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

thanks, dollar tree

What do you do with two kids who are tired of having colds when you really need 30 seconds to scarf down some food (and maybe even go to the bathroom)? You let them pull every tissue out of two brand new tissue boxes, of course! Guess we better stock up.

Desperation or genius? Either way, it worked!

Friday, November 16, 2012


Last year on Thanksgiving Day, I wrote: "I have never, however, been more thankful for the path my life has taken."  And I was thankful.  But I was thankful for the destination--the end of the path.  I was thankful to have my adorable, healthy twins in my arms.  This Thanksgiving, I am learning to be thankful for the journey as well.

At some point in the future, Andrew and I hope to expand our family.  We are completely unsure of how or when that might happen, but we both earnestly desire more children.  This fall, when the months during which we went through our roller coaster of miscarriage hell rolled around, I realized that I had never properly processed all that we experienced to become parents to the children we already have.  I never stopped to examine my spirit, to let myself really feel the grief.  I feared that if I let myself stop, I would never get started again.  And I wasn't willing to take that risk.  Once we got pregnant, I couldn't let myself go to that dark place.  I had to protect my mind and my twins.  Then, once the twins were here, the whirlwind began and "processing time" was a luxury I just didn't have.

So this fall, when it became blatantly obvious that I still had some processing to do, I made it a priority.  I knew that I owed it to myself, to Andrew, to Barnes & Frances, to our future children, and most of all, to the children we lost.  So I let myself grieve.  I let myself dwell on who they might have been.  And in the midst of the sadness, God has shown me so much.  He has shown me that He is faithful.  That He can make beautiful things out of ugliness.  He has taught me that healing is possible.  That you can be grateful for something that you never would have chosen in a million years.

In the book One Thousand Gifts, the author's (Ann Voskamp) brother says, "maybe you don't want to change the story, because you don't know what a different ending holds."  This has become my mantra, and I can now finally say that I would not change my story.  The story I lived resulted in Barnes & Frances.  I believe in God, but I also believe in science.  If we had not done IVF, we would not have had twins.  Moreover, Barnes & Frances were created from one specific egg and one specific sperm.  If we had done IVF at any other time, any resulting children would not have been these two miracles.  Only by having three miscarriages the way we did, all in a row and all with the babies living mere days past my positive pregnancy tests, then we would not have done IVF in January 2011.  And we wouldn't have B&F.  It's a bit mind-boggling, but it's true.

So as we enter Thanksgiving week, I feel such deep gratitude.  Gratitude for all the same things as last year, but in a new and deeper way.  And gratitude for a Lord that can make the ugliest ugly the most perfect creation.

Friday, November 9, 2012

14.5 months

It's been a while since I caught you up on what our twins were doing, and they are currently up to oh-so-much.  Here's the rundown on the happenings of two sweet 14 month olds:

  • They are MUCH more stable on their feet.  Of course they still fall sometimes, but the crash landings have decreased.  And they are picking up speed, definitely inching towards running.
  • They can point to their bellies and their ears.  Sometimes their belly ends up being their chest, but it's definitely close enough to count.
  • They love saying "Stella."  Cooper, on the other hand, is doggie.  I guess they have determined that his name is just too hard to try.
  • They are truly obsessed with the dogs.  Like it may be a problem obsessed.  They look for them everywhere (even at restaurants).  When the dogs go outside, they stand at the door and wait for them to return.  I can only imagine how much fun they will all have once the twins figure out the difference in petting and pulling.
  • Other than Stella, doggie, mama and dada, there are really no other discernible words.  But LOTS and LOTS of babbling.  I know they get frustrated sometimes that we can't understand what they are "very clearly" telling us.
  • They love music class.  We go once a week, and they are mesmerized.  Frances has learned to "pat on her lap," and they both love clapping and dancing.  Barnes is obsessed with the teacher's guitar, trying to take everyone's turn playing it.
  • Frances is on a milk strike.  She hates taking milk from cups, so we are trying to sneak calcium in wherever we can.
  • They are both getting molars.  And they are not happy about it.
  • At classes and playtimes, Frances has developed into the more independent baby.  She has no fear, exploring new situations all on her own.
  • Barnes loves women.  When we go to mommy-and-me preschool, he wants all the other moms to hold him.  Maybe he's shopping around to replace me.
  • During bath time, they now love to give each other kisses.  I have never seen anything so precious.  Ever.  Just further proof that every baby needs a twin.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

where are my babies?

Do you ever stop and think about how much your children would be capable of if you would just get out of the way?  A couple of weeks ago we took b&f to the pediatrician to check on a nagging cold.  While there, we somehow revealed that our little ones were still receiving two bottles a day.  The doctor said to stop.  Now.  Before they got anymore attached.  But they are only 14 months old?  How will they get enough milk?  They don't like drinking milk from a cup!  How will they sleep?  Despite what I found to be well-reasoned protests, the doctor didn't budge.

So when we deemed them well enough, we gave it a try.  Instead of preparing two bottles the night before, we got one of their sippy cups ready.  And despite some confusion, they did fine.  They had no trouble sleeping.  They didn't cry or ravage the cabinets searching for their missing bottles.  Nope, they were ready.  Mom & dad, however, were less prepared.  Giving up bottles felt a bit like giving up their last bit of baby-ness.  Babies get bottles.  Toddlers only get cups.  My babies now only get cups.  Hmmmmm....

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

spooky little monkeys

trick-or-treating in downtown lafayette

happy sock monkey

"frances, get your act together"

so i get candy tonight???

pretty excited about her pumpkin

the sweetest sock monkey around

fun with mom

fun with dad

a little different from last year

but mom, they gave me the cheap candy!

miss independent doesn't need help trick-or-treating

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

mean girls

We had a major milestone yesterday--the twins voted in their first presidential election! Well, maybe mom and dad officially voted, but B&F were excited to be part of the experience. They even got an Election 2012 Barbie to commemorate the occasion. And while standing in line to vote, we had another first...Frances's first encounter with "mean girls." Here's what went down:

Lady: "How old are your boys?" 

 Me: "It's a boy and a girl, and they are 14 months." 

Lady: "You really need to dress her in more pink." (Note that Frances was wearing denim leggings, a shirt that said Frances, and pink shoes.) 

Me: "I think she's okay."

Lady: "No, she should wear more pink so she won't look like a boy." 

Approximately three minutes later, lady is talking loudly to the woman next to her while staring at Frances. 

Lady: "Well I guess she does have on pink shoes, but I can't believe she is dressed that way. Girls should only wear dresses. She looks like a boy. Etc., etc., etc." 

At this point, I may have made a rude comment about how a person wearing a t-shirt, frayed jeans, and a "windbreaker" tied around her waist should probably not be handing out fashion advice.

 I have never been more thankful that my children understand very few words. When did it become acceptable to berate a small child (or her mother) over what she was wearing? Anyone who watches the news knows that our country is in the throes of a bullying crisis. Countless teens have committed suicide due to the actions of their classmates. We wonder why things have gotten so bad, why kids believe it's okay to treat others so poorly. We should really be looking at ourselves. Children mirror the behavior they see. If they see adults making fun of others, they will surely follow suit.

While I know Frances had no idea what was going on as she shook her little booty in line, I couldn't keep myself from reminding her of how beautiful she was, both inside and out.  I hope that I, as a mom, can help keep her inner beauty bright by modeling kind behavior.  I pray that I can keep my tongue in check, teaching my little ones to always lift up and never tear down.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

like little children

A few weeks ago at church, the priest was discussing how Jesus continually exhorted his followers to be like little children.  He pointed out that children do so many things well--including loving themselves.  He noted that children don't find themselves too big or too little or too dull or too anything.  They suspend judgment, even judgment of themselves.  He said that from his vantage point, he saw families walk into church late each Sunday, and while the parents' faces bore traces of embarrassment, the children came in smiling.  At this point, he said, "Children are really incredible."  And right on cue, Barnes let out a loud, angry scream, causing the entire congregation to burst into laughter.

But really, since Barnes's homily I have been dwelling on the life lessons my twins have to impart.  We worry so much about educating our little ones, but if we sit still and observe, our children are true teachers.

Yes, they love themselves.  They think they are funny and special and talented.  The pride they feel when they do something new (or even something not so new) is incredible.  Wouldn't it be wonderful to feel that proud of yourself once in a while?

And they don't just love themselves, they love everyone.  They wave and smile at friends and strangers alike.  When we shop, Frances literally rolls through the store waving at everyone she can find.  They don't notice what someone is wearing or driving or which political bumper sticker they have on their car--they only notice a person's warmth.

They are persistent.  The twins received an awesome racer (thanks, Leah!) for their birthday, and for weeks now Barnes has been able to push himself backwards.  He couldn't, however, figure out the whole forward motion thing.  But he never stopped.  He got on his racer every day...he stared down at his feet...he touched the ground while I pushed him forward.  And this week he got it.  Couldn't we all use a dose of that spirit?

Children come into this world pure and whole.  They are a blank slate, free from the insecurities and prejudices that weigh us down.  I pray that in the hours I spend with my two children, a bit of this sweetness of spirit can rub off on me, and that I can learn to be more like my twins.

Monday, October 15, 2012


October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  Today, Andrew and I honor and remember three tiny lives that left this world almost as soon as they began.  We will never know whether those babies were boys or girls, what they would have looked like, whether they would have been quiet or feisty.  But we will carry them in our hearts always, loving them fiercely.

When asked how many kids I have, I always say I have twins.  It's neater--less messy.  But I am the mother of 5 precious children.  My sweet twins, my firstborn(s), the loves of my life.  And my first three angel babies, so dearly wanted, whose conceptions were joyfully celebrated, whose endings were grievously mourned, and who led me down the precious path to b&f.

Monday, October 8, 2012

pumpkin time!

The weather is getting cool and leaves are bursting with color, which of course means one thing... time for the pumpkin patch!  We explored our local pumpkin farm yesterday, and Barnes and Frances were literally in heaven.  I have never seen them enjoy anything so much.  They waddled all around the pumpkins, stopping to bang on each one; they dug through the straw, making sure to taste every few pieces; they pushed a wagon around; they rode the see-saw together.  Frances was having so much fun, she actually cried when we left!

Here are a few pictures of our fun fall day:

this one looks about right!

so excited I lost a shoe!

trying to get Mom to eat some hay

occasionally we actually work together

this girl loves to teeter totter

Saturday, September 29, 2012


You people are so nice.  You take time out of your life and actually read this blog, and it amazes me.  When I first started blogging, I was fairly certain my audience would never be wider than my mom and Andrew (though even he didn't always read).  But now friends and strangers follow along on our journey with our twins.  And I love it.

But sometimes I worry that I am giving a false impression.  Many women, especially other moms, have read my blog and proceeded to compliment my parenting.  I love compliments, and I think I'm doing a decent job raising B&F, but one of my primary goals is honesty.  And I am not supermom.  Not even close.  So to ensure that this blog doesn't put too glossy of a coat on our lives--to guarantee that no mom ever feels worse about her own parenting because of something I've written--below are my confessions.  Some shortcuts I take.  Just a few of the things I do that would definitely not qualify me for mother of the year.

  • Bath time for two tiny babies can seem like a real hassle.  Before B&F were crawling, we simply avoided baths as much as possible.  We literally bathed our children twice a week.  Twice.  Even now that they are walking and eating and sampling dogfood each day, we still try to get away with only doing baths every other night.
  • I love Sprout.  For those of you better moms that don't ever turn on the TV, Sprout is a 24 hour kids channel from PBS.  At least once a day, Sprout comes on in our house.  I'm sure that at some point before the birth, I made a comment about "no TV until at least age 2."  Yea.  Sure.
  • And speaking of TV, we bought a DVD player for the car.  And it's awesome.  We try our best to only use it on long trips, but...
  • We don't buy them organic produce.  I wish I could say I had some special scientific reason for this, but I don't.  We buy them regular, plain fruit.  And most of their veggies are actually frozen veggies--gasp!  It's easier, faster, and doesn't require me to use a knife.  Sign me up.
  • I do not "dress" my kids every day.  Some days, many days, B&F are in their pajamas until it's time to change into new pajamas for bedtime.  Classy.
  • Sometimes I know one of the twins has a dirty diaper, yet they are playing so happily.  So I just ignore it for a couple of minutes to enjoy a few more moments of bliss before the diaper battle begins.
  • I've implemented Verizon time in our house.  Not familiar with that?  Well, it means that on nights and weekends, Andrew changes all dirty diapers.  I highly recommend it.
Do you have any mommy shortcuts that you've always wanted to confess?

Friday, September 28, 2012

and then there were 2

Just a little over a week after his sister figured it out, Barnes has officially been declared a walker!  This week he went from a few steps at a time to cruising right across a whole room.  As of yesterday, he is walking more than crawling and truly in "toddler" status.  All it took was a really bad cold to slow him down enough to let him figure out how to balance his adorably large head.  We are oh so proud of our two wobbly walkers!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

a little walker

Have I mentioned that we officially have a walker?  And have I mentioned that the walker just so happens to be a girl?

Yes, my friends, Frances is a true walker.  I'm not sure exactly when it happened...last Wednesday at mommy-and-me class, I noticed she was walking quite a bit, maybe as much as she was crawling.  Sometime between then and Sunday, she completely converted and we love it!  Watching her waddle around is like watching my favorite movie--I could put it on repeat and let it play over and over again.  With this newfound skill has come a tinge of precociousness...we never know where she will sneak to next, and she beams with pride when she manages to get into trouble.  But watching her maneuver her barely 18 pound self around the room is more than worth the added caution required.

And though I never want to encourage competition between the twins, I am a bit relieved that Frances reached this milestone first.  During their first year, Barnes achieved everything first--being born, rolling over, sitting up, crawling--sometimes by mere hours and sometimes by weeks.  I love that now Frances will have her very own first.  But she better enjoy it while it lasts, because Barnes is right on her heels.

Friday, September 14, 2012

an ongoing battle

It's funny how life works sometimes.  When I first began thinking about where I would go to college, the University of Tennessee was barely on the radar.  By the time high school graduation arrived, though, I was decked out in orange and Knoxville-bound.  For so many reasons, I know this was the best decision for me.  The University of Tennessee gave me a fabulous four years filled with friends, football, and a little education.  But, most importantly, it gave me Andrew.  My sweet husband, my partner in life, my most undeserved blessing.

Those of you who know Andrew know just how unique he is.  He is filled with positivity.  He gives everyone the benefit of the doubt, reminding me often that each person has hardship in his or her life.  He knows how to balance bravery with caution, and each decision he makes is precisely measured.  He works so hard for our family, and his abiding faith is an inspiration to me.  But he's not all serious.  He is also playful, adventurous and a complete goof-ball.

People are drawn to Andrew.  They are pulled to his service-oriented, positive spirit.  What most don't realize, though, is that many days, most days, are a battle for Andrew.  You see, when he was 15, Andrew was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.  For over fourteen years, his pancreas has not produced the insulin necessary for life.  He wears an insulin pump all day every day.  He pricks his finger to test his blood sugar at least 5 times a day, and every two to three days he has to remove and reattach the very long needle through which his insulin is delivered.  I may have endured a few weeks of shots for B&F, but for Andrew needles are a way of life.  Even more taxing, though, are the highs and lows.  As his blood sugar fluctuates far beyond the range we all experience, his energy and physical well-being are compromised.  Yet he never complains.  Ever.  I have never once heard him gripe about having diabetes.  If he could choose to not be diabetic, of course he would, but he knows that life doesn't work that way. So instead of bemoaning this ongoing battle, he fights back.

Since his diagnosis, Andrew has been actively involved with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), an organization that raises vast amounts of money to fund research to find more advanced treatments of and an eventual cure for type 1 diabetes.  In 2009, Andrew began participating in JDRF's Ride to Cure Diabetes Program.  Through the Ride, Andrew trains and rides an exorbitant number of miles on a bicycle, and our friends and family pledge to support him with their thoughts, prayers and resources.  It's an amazing event that raises both awareness about this disease and millions of dollars that go directly to research.  Andrew rode in 2009 in Sonoma, California (I actually rode that one with him), and in 2010 in Death Valley, California.  After taking a year off for the big birth last fall, he will be back on his bike in November in Tucson, Arizona.  He will attempt to ride 100+ miles to fight back against the disease that takes a daily toll on his life.

To be honest, Andrew is quite nervous about the Ride this year.  We haven't really figured out the logistics...should we all go, should just Andrew go....  We DEFINITELY haven't figured out where he will find the time to train for hours and hours on his bicycle--training with twins in tow is vastly different than in our child-free days.  But the very thing that makes it more difficult this year also makes it oh-so-much more important.  Now Andrew must be healthy, not just for him, but for Barnes and Frances.  The long-term effects of type 1 diabetes can include kidney failure, blindness, nerve damage, amputation, and stroke.  We must do everything possible to minimize these risks for Andrew and for the approximately 3 million other Americans with type 1.  B&F need a healthy dad.  They need a dad who will still be walking when Frances makes her trip down the aisle, a dad who will be able to see Barnes receive his college degree.  This year, we are fighting diabetes not just for Andrew, but for our precious twins.

Each day, 80 new people are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in the U.S.  Diabetes is not caused by anything these people did or didn't do, and there is no cure.  Please consider joining our family and all of them in our fight against this chronic disease.

Click here to learn more about Andrew's Ride to Cure Diabetes.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

the faces of snack time

As you could see from the birthday pics, B has turned into quite the little ham.  His amazing animation never ceases to make me laugh.  Here's a little summary of the show I received at snack time this week:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

the last/first page

As soon as we made our official pregnancy announcement, I started this blog.  Since then, it has served many purposes.  It keeps our friends and family up to date on the twins.  It provides an outlet for me to "communicate" with adults.  It allows me to post as many adorable pictures as I want without completely annoying all of my facebook friends.  But none of those are the real reason I document our set of shafers.  From the very beginning, this blog has been my love letter to Barnes and Frances.  My way to tell them, over and over, how precious and loved they are.

Now that the birthday party pictures are up, the first year is officially documented.  So the blog (thus far) will be making its way into a book.  It's a limited edition...just two copies to be printed.  And at some point, many many years from now, those two copies will make their way to their intended owners--Barnes & Frances.  Maybe they will think it's the silliest thing ever.  But maybe, hopefully, they will read the words that were written when they were itty bitty ones, and they will get a better understanding of our family.  Hopefully they will read the early entries, the ones before they arrived, and know how fervently they were wanted.  Then they will read the entries from their birth, and they will see the joy that couldn't be contained on a page.  They will read entries from the best days...days filled with learning and new adventures and amazement...and they will get a glimpse into what we were like in the days before their memories began.  They will read entries from the hard days, the ones that seemed slower than the rest, and they will know that no matter how crazy life was, no matter how challenging two infants could be, we always loved them.  That Andrew and I always tried our best.  That while I'm sure we've done so much wrong, we really really tried.  We tried to always do what was best for them. 

So this is the last page of our book...or at least, our first book.  The last page of the great adventure that culminated in two amazing one year olds, but the first page of so many more adventures to come.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

party pics

One of the best things we did at the twins' first birthday party was hire a photographer.  This enabled me to put the camera down and really focus on my two precious babies and the new friends that had come to celebrate with us.  Here are a few (okay, maybe more than a few) of my favorite images he captured on our special day.