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.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

for our daughters

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to run in a women-only event.  It was something I've always wanted to do...running 13.1 miles alongside more than 1,400 other women seemed like a fabulous way to spend a Saturday morning.  And it was.  I ran (perhaps jogged or cantered would be a more appropriate verb).  More than a thousand other women ran.  And while we all moved at different paces, with different styles, we all moved together.  Without words, we supported one another in our collective march forward.

Running gives you an abundance of time to think.  During the first few miles, I began to wonder about the physical experiences and challenges each of my fellow runners had faced.  How many were mothers?  How many had given birth, or nourished a child with their very body?  How many had dealt with infertility?  How many had battled cancer, and won?  How many had bravely held a partner's hand as he or she battled their own disease?  As I ran, I dwelt on and celebrated the strength of women.  Ladies, we are quite amazing.  Our bodies are capable, our minds are strong, and our emotional capacity is staggering.  So I ran...and thought...and celebrated women.  The strength of women.  The strength of me. 

You see, this race fell at a unique time.  August 31, 2010 was, without question, the worst day of my life.  On that day, I learned that my first child was most definitely not viable.  I was cursed at by a doctor.  I was given medicine to rid my body of my first little one.  On that day, I lost all confidence in my body.  All trust in my physical self was destroyed.  And on September 1, 2012, practically two years to the day later, I felt control returning.  Running a half-marathon is not easy for me.  I'm not a natural runner.  Every step is difficult, and no matter how much I have trained, the last few miles are always surprisingly challenging.  But I finished.  I asked my body to do something, and it did.  And at around mile 9 when I knew that I was actually going to finish this thing, I realized that this race was so very important for me.  It wasn't about my time, or even about fitness.  For me, this race was about beginning the process of learning to love my body.  Learning to appreciate that, despite the fact that it failed several times, it also provided a safe home for B&F for 34 weeks.  It provided food for them for over 9 months.  And today, it continues to care for them each day, picking up, comforting, embracing and playing.

As I was surrounded by women, I could not help but think about the most important female in my life.  Although she is not a woman yet, sweet Frances, who babbles and wobbles and blows bubbles all day, will eventually grow from a toddler to a girl to a young woman.  And as the woman she will have known the longest, I feel a deep responsibility to shape her in a positive way.  Women are hard on each other.  It starts young, with mean girls and cliques, and continues into adulthood with mommy gossip and comparisons.  And women are even harder on ourselves.  We set unrealistic expectations for ourselves--comparing our bodies to those we see on television and our parties to the perfect images we find on pinterest--making our best feel never quite good enough. 

I want to set an example for my daughter.  I want her to be like the women I ran with.  I want her to move with others, not against them.  To run behind them, not just stand on the sidelines.  I want her to know that strong is beautiful.  You can control strong--you can be strong in body, in character, in conviction.  You can control strong...and strong is beautiful.