Monday, January 21, 2013

the sibling game

We've had a bit of trouble lately.  Barnes is great.  Frances is great.  Combined, however, they have produced lots of toy stealing and pushing and chasing and knocking over.  Frances has shed several tears over the past few weeks over Barnes's antics.  Some days it just seems that they can't get along.  And on those days, I worry...that they won't like each other, that they will be sick of each other before they even turn two.

But then they surprise me.

This morning we had our first baby dates.  Dad and Frances spent some time at Starbucks; Mom and Barnes explored the bookstore.  They both loved their individual attention, even if they were a bit confused.  Frances arrived home about 5 minutes before Barnes, and her apprehension regarding where her brother was apparently grew.  When Barnes finally walked into the kitchen, without any encouragement, Frances walked straight to him and gave him a hug and a kiss.  Despite the brotherly pestering, she adores her twin.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

january 16th

I love this day.  It may seem quite ordinary--just another day in the coldest month of the year--but we will always try to make January 16th a little special.  Two years ago today, after all, is when I met my amazing twins.  This is the day they came back home with us, the day we officially became pregnant.  While it wasn't the most traditional way to build a family, it was oh-so-beautiful.

And what better way to celebrate with 16 month olds than with pancakes?!

We love you Barnes and Frances, and we are so incredibly thankful that January 16, 2011 was a success.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

man's best friend

A boy calls his parents from camp: "There are some dogs here, and one is little and is getting picked on by all the other dogs.  Can I bring him home?"  Unsurprisingly, his parents do not give their consent to this plan, yet a few days later when their son gets off the bus that brought him home, they see that his arms are not empty.  The dog has already made its way into his heart, as it soon would theirs.  Rocky Top, "Rocky" for short, would quickly become a treasured part of the Shafer family.  

It's true that not everyone is an animal person.  But for those of us who are, dogs are some of our most precious companions.  Dogs become members of our family, a part of our familial fabric and routine.  We love them dearly, as they exude many of the very qualities we wish that we as humans could perfect.  They are unfailingly loyal.  They can be fun and playful, yet cuddly and vulnerable.  They forgive almost instantly.  They stick with us through the good and the bad, always ready to listen or curl up next to us on the couch.  For many of us, our dogs have seen us through life's milestones in a way that no person ever could.  We love them because they are so, so good.  But did they choose this goodness?  Did they consciously decide to be gracious and faithful?  No.  It's in their very nature.  You see, we love dogs because, when cared for and loved, they are perfectly themselves.

But maybe there is more.  Maybe part of the reason we are so attached to our fur babies is because their very essence reminds us of the love of our Lord.  A dog's love is unconditional.  When we fail to walk them one day, when we are unable to give them the time or attention they deserve, when we are short with them or leave them at home alone for too long, a pup's love remains.  Hasn't Jesus promised us this and so much more?  God's love for us doesn't depend on what we do for Him.  It is there, always and constant.  Yes, our Lord delights in the time we spend with Him, but he doesn't love us less when we fail.  God stands ready and hoping to listen to us, to experience life with us.  

Rocky was an incredible dog, seeing Andrew & Elizabeth (and even the not-so-fond-of-dogs Rebecca) through so many life events.  He was loyal and faithful and playful.  He taught Andrew the value of a pet, a lesson that my own children are benefitting from greatly.  Painfully, however, dogs cannot live forever.  But even in their passing, they teach us great lessons of love and faith and grace.

We will miss you, sweet Rocky.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

dating my kids

I'm not big on new year's resolutions.  They always seem to be the same--pray more, eat less--and they rarely pan out for more than a month.  But this year I am making a promise, both to myself and to my little ones.  I am resolving to date my kids.

While pregnant, I did lots of twin research.  Most of it has been forgotten (along with almost all other parenting research I pored over), but one thing stuck with me.  A book written not by a doctor or psychologist or specialist, but by a mom, recommended that you make time for each child individually. That you make sure that each twin has one-on-one time with each parent every once in a while.  This probably seems super simple to most of you with multiple children...while the older one is at preschool, you get alone time with the younger one; one parent takes the younger one to his music class each week.  But it's different with twins.  Because they are the same age, twins are constantly enrolled and involved in the same activities.  They go to the same mommy-and-me class, the same music class.  They want to play and eat and nap at the same times.  Since they are identical in age they are usually identical in schedule, which makes carving out individual time much more difficult.

So this concept stuck out to me when I first read it, and I noted in my head that I wanted to make this part of our routine.  But ease won.  Though we sneak in individual time as often as possible, we have failed to make it a priority.  So now I am resolving to be intentional, deliberate, about planning special alone time with each child.  Once a month, we're going on separate mommy/daddy/baby dates.  It's not a lot, but it's a start.  And hopefully it will become ingrained into our family culture, and as the twins grow older, it will remind them that they are loved and valued not just as a pair, but as unique individuals as well.