Sunday, August 24, 2014

trolley party!

We had an amazing weekend celebrating our twins turning three. So many friends and all four grandparents were here to shower our littles with love...and enjoy trolley rides and snow cones. Barnes and Frances loved their party, loved having little people to play with, LOVED having their grandparents in one place, and loved the affection and attention they received this weekend. Thank you to all for making their third birthday so perfect!
who doesn't love a trolley ride?

such a fun family day

many of the friends who joined the celebration

our family of five


Barnes & Frances,

Today you turn three. Three. Oh my goodness, that sounds so strange to me. While many people call them the terrible twos, I can honestly say that this past year has been the best yet.

I love the people you are growing into. You are so fun, with huge imaginations and never ending stories to tell. Your energy constantly amazes me, and your creativity is staggering. All day long, you make up games and go to the store, you take care of your babies and stuffed animals, you cook food for me and your "friends," you drive around town, you build houses and libraries. There's never a dull moment in our house.

Physically, you are such big kids. You run and jump and spin. You walk on balance beams and climb up slides. You ride your new tricycles and leap over our make-believe rivers. And emotionally, you've grown so much. You still have your moments, but your ability to understand and empathize is developing. I love how you worry about each other, how you comfort each other. There are few sweeter sounds than hearing one of you say, "It's okay, sissy/bb." And you are such incredible siblings to Shepherd. Although he sometimes messes up whatever you are trying to do and frustrates you a bit, you love him so very much. You help him and hug him and play with him. You make him laugh, and you try to comfort him when he's upset. He couldn't have asked for a better big brother and big sister.

Frances, my sweet little girl, I love the independence you are developing. You are becoming more and more comfortable with branching out on your own, though you still prefer to do everything with BB right by your side.You have the most beautiful heart--I can already tell that you will be kind and compassionate. But you aren't necessarily "soft." You are determined and brave and tough...and cuddly and funny and delicate. You have become quite the goofball, and your laugh is infectious.

Barnes, my precious boy, you amaze me each day. The things that your brain makes up, the sentences that come out of your tiny keep us laughing. You play hard all day every day. You truly never stop. You love dirt and water and anything that can be a bit messy--but then you immediately want to be cleaned. You have a slight obsession with "wet wipes." You give the best hugs and kisses, and you ask for one more about 20 times when mom or dad is leaving the house.

Little ones, I am so proud to be your mom....please remember that always. There is nothing that you could ever do to make me more proud or less proud--being your mom, just the way you are, is the greatest honor of my life. I can't wait to see where this next year takes you. I look forward to seeing you grow and change and learn. I pray that you will realize more and more how loved you me, by your dad, by our whole family, and most importantly, by our God. I can't wait to continue to share your discovery of His creation over the coming years.

I love you more than you can possibly imagine.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

shep is on the move!

I think it's safe to officially say that Shep can walk. He is still crawling more than walking, but most all of his adventures now begin with 3-8 steps...followed by a tumble...followed by his trademark head-down crawl. This kid has no fear and endless energy. He tries his best to keep up with the big kids, and he is already doing quite a good job. I love watching his adorably chubby legs try to find their balance then inch forward one at a time. Just too precious. Within the next month, the walking to crawling balance may well be tipped the other way.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

fighting for joy

To my sweet little ones:

You are too young to understand. We live a life of privilege, a life in which heartache for you means an hour with a sitter or a misplaced toy. But this blog is my letter to recording of the things I hold dear, the things I know to be true. On these pages I try to capture the lessons I want to pass to you. So even though you are young now, you won't always be. And this is so important. It's life or death important. It's full or empty important. 

This week, a comic genius lost his battle with depression. He made the world laugh, but his world was filled with darkness. Sweet littles, please know that mental health is real. Depression,'s all real. I pray that by the time you are old enough to understand, the stigma has passed. That people will know, with certainty, that treating the sadness that may inhabit your brain is just the same as treating a tumor that might inhabit your brain. Neither are optional. Either requires treatment for your best life. But just in case people are still afraid....just in case those that seek help still do so in the shadows....

After Shep was born, things went a little haywire for me. I had this precious son, but I also had a crazy amount of change. New city. New house. Back to pumping. Feeling like a failure. And I got anxious. Really, really anxious. And then lots of unprocessed grief rolled into this anxiety ball and made it bigger and bigger and bigger. We are taught throughout life to be help lean towards selflessness. But sometimes we all need help. When your well is dry, or more accurately, when it feels and looks and seems dry to you, despite the fact that you know water is present, you have to get help. Sometimes the only way to love your family is to relearn focus on getting yourself well. Babies, I was so lucky to have your dad. He knew I needed help--more than he could give. He helped me find a professional, a counselor, to guide me back towards truth. 

You see, no matter how much I told myself it was okay, that I was blessed, that I had everything I ever wanted (literally), I couldn't just talk myself out of my anxiety. That's not how mental health works. Dad can't talk his pancreas into working--he takes insulin to "treat" his diabetes. Likewise, mental health diagnoses need treatment. It's not about being tough enough or smart enough. It's not about praying enough or having the right kind of faith. God gave us resources. There is no shame in using them. 

Here's the thing--I love Jesus. I believe Christ is our light and truth. But I know that being a Christian does not guarantee a "happy" life. Happiness is not permanent. Happiness is based on circumstances, and circumstances change. What I do believe is that we can find joy in our Lord. We can hold on to that joy and memorize the way it feels. And hopefully, when the joy feels far away and the darkness closes in, we will remember that the joy does exist. And that it's worth fighting for. 

My little ones, I feel certain that each of you will face moments when life is just too much. When these occasions arise, never be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. We are not meant to do life alone, and we are certainly not meant to do the tough parts by ourselves. Please, please ask for help. From me. From dad. From each other. From anyone. Asking for help is the bravest thing you can do. And remember how much you are loved. And how great the joy can be. And when the darkness comes, as it inevitably will at some point, please fight. And know that I will always be fighting beside you.

I love you so deeply,

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

the yester-time elephant

In case you haven't noticed, I have had trouble keeping up with my blog. I guess it's true what they say...the second (or third-ish) time around, it's harder to capture all the memories. But it's not because you care less. Or you love the moments less. It's because you are living them more. With three under three (for two more weeks), we are doing lots of "living" and not much "reflecting." But still, there are things I want to capture; things I want to never forget. We have two big milestones quickly approaching--the third birthdays and the first birthday. So before these tiny ones are all grown and before these fun little nuggets they share with me each day pass from my overcrowded brain, I want to get them recorded.

Shepherd is quite literally the happiest baby. We never go out without someone commenting on his sunny disposition. We go to family gymboree class on Mondays, and he is fiercely determined and independent. He crawls up the slides, climbs on the mat, tries to nose dive off high surfaces. He crawls away from mom to sit in the middle of the group. He claps and smiles and dances to the music. This child loves attention, and people love to pour it on him. Shep gives the best head hugs...he leans his little head toward you and buries it in your shoulder. He has learned to wave recently and does so quite dramatically with his entire arm. He says "dada" when he hears Andrew's voice over the phone--he is still quite the daddy's boy.He loves his brother and sister and now tries to wrestle with them and follow them everywhere they go. He has taken one step about a million times, and two steps at least once, so we won't be surprised if he takes off on two feet soon.

Frances has music in her soul. This girl sings and dances through every day--Jesus Loves Me and booty shaking are constants. She is spunky and wild and loves to be active. She has more energy than I can possibly describe--I am not sure she ever sits still (except during her iPad time). She loves to take pictures, mostly of herself or her kitty cat lovie. She is getting quite the sense of humor...on a recent walk, we were talking about what animals eat, and when I told her that turkeys eat worms she responded, "I like gummy worms!" She loves to make Shep laugh and I often catch her in my rearview mirror making faces and giggling to him. She is quite the planner...she likes to know what is coming up throughout the day, who is waking her up from nap, who is waking her up in the morning, where we are going today and tomorrow....and she has started making her own plans. Just today, she told me that on Saturday we were going to get a popsicle and go to the park. She talks all the time now, and I can understand most every word she says...but she still has her quirks. My very favorite is that for anything that happened in the past, she says it was "yester-time." Maybe not correct, but definitely precious. And she says everything as a question with the cutest little inflection. I wish I could bottle up her precious voice forever.

Barnes is a character. His creativity amazes me. For a few months, we have had a fox going through our trash at night. But Barnes decided it wasn't a fox, it was an elephant. And he's seen the elephant in the backyard. It comes to our house via car, but it has to ride in a car seat to be safe. Of course it does. He is such a smart, meticulous kid--he wants everything in its place at all times. He is quite particular about what he wears and demands to pick out his own outfits. He loves running and jumping and getting dirty and water and all things outside. He also really, really loves blue. Everything has to be blue, and if something is blue, it is automatically his. He still has a crazy thing for stuffed animals, though he loves them and leaves them. We're never sure who the flavor of the week will be. Last week it was Mr. Moose, this week it is Mickey. But don't worry--no matter who is his current favorite, he makes sure each of his stuffed friends has the proper paci. Barnes is quite the talker and narrates our day all day every day. Barnes is a mommy's boy right now, and wants me to be anywhere and everywhere he is. It's trying at makes me feel terrible to leave him...but it's also sweet to know how much he loves me. I love that I make him feel secure and hope that is always true.