Sunday, September 7, 2014

Speak Softly

And don't worry so much about the stick.

I've realized recently that there's something I'd love to be able to learn from my son. He has this very soft, very sweet voice, and uses very deliberate (even when wrong) diction. When he speaks, anyone around has to listen very attentively and very careful to what he's saying, and while he occasionally shrieks or screams as any two-year-old might, it's his gentle enunciation that really grabs your attention. I know, as he grows up, his voice will change and he'll learn to pronounce all his words correctly, but I hope that he can keep that very rare quality of quiet command.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Poetry of Two

We've hit this golden stage - and part of me hopes it will last forever - where the kids have enough vocabulary to describe just about anything, but not enough to know the actual names for everything. Steven in particular comes up with these amazingly apt workaround descriptions for things. On the drive home one day, he was excited to spot the "light moon" - the full moon visible in the daylight sky. He went on from there to sing a little song, "Moon inna daytime, I put in my backpack. Moon inna daytime, I put in my backpack."

Eleanor makes up little songs, too - today it was "Oh no! He's rollin' (holdin'?) my toe!" to a very catchy little tune.

They have utterly eloquent little narratives about how the rain lives in the clouds and comes down sometimes with a "boom," and today after Sunday School they told me the story of Anna and Baby Jesus and... the guy holding Baby Jesus (Simeon), and Baby Jesus's mommy and daddy.

I heard a funny conversation going on the other evening while I was making dinner, so I stuck my head through the passthrough from the kitchen - Eleanor was on her toy phone, having a lengthy conversation with Jimin (their Korean aunt).

A few minutes later, they were crouched together over a broken pinwheel, trying to put it back together to "make a craft" for her. (If you read this, Jimin, WE MISS YOU!)

Apropos of nothing, I'm actually really proud of that haphazard-looking stack of books on the shelf in that picture. Because Steven picked up all those books and put them away himself. I'll take that any day!

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Sweet Summer

This isn't from today, but it could be.

I love days when we're home together and I manage to get us out to do enough stuff to get the kids thoroughly worn out.

Since my last post, the kids have taken a week off from MDO to take swimming lessons, which they loved:

Learned to buzz a trumpet mouthpiece like Daddy:

Had a crash course in air hockey:

(The Stevens)
"Attended" Vacation Bible School (ate dinner, got the t-shirts, hung out with Mommy at the registration table):

Been slightly traumatized at Chick-Fil-A:

Built elaborate cities because what other possible purpose could there be for this big board and length of blue fabric:

Made progress on the climbing wall:

Learned to sew:

Eaten a lot of ice cream:

And enjoyed each other.

It's been a good summer so far!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Mean Mommy

The truth is, I have a feeling my kids won't even notice that I did this. But it's making me feel like the meanest mommy. See, most of their toys are currently in these bins, in this closet:

The playroom has been seriously out of control, to the point where they were having trouble walking through it. They don't really seem to play with most of the toys, at least in the way they're meant to be played with... most play in the chaos has been just sort of dumping things from whatever container they might be in, and dumping things into other things. And on a more selfish note, I've found myself moving them to a reasonably uncluttered background while they're doing cute things so I can take pictures without being completely embarrassed by the stuff surrounding them... even cropping doesn't help much any more. For instance, this was the cleaner-background-but-not-out-of-her-mind-thrilled version of the photo that I put on Facebook:

While this was the real reaction to the doll, but the floor was just too awful:

I decided to try to just... pare down a little, and contain things in a way that I can bring out a little bit at a time, and not bring out more until the first bin is put away. I actually started filling the bins while they were eating dinner, and the minute they were done with dinner, they ran into the playroom and... dumped them out. Not to get to anything in particular, but just for the joy of dumping. Sort of confirmed my plan. I recruited them to help me re-fill the bins, then spirited them away into the closet as they were filled. I did leave one bin, the cradle of stuffed animals, and all the books and crayons/paper, although I also brought down their bookshelf to see if it'll help keep them under control a little better than our previous non-system.

I'm interested to see whether they notice tomorrow - I honestly think there are enough toys in here they might just notice it's cleaner without missing anything.

In related news, anyone interested in a re-decorated magazine bin? It worked great for a while, and is a little shabbier-chic now, but still very cute. 

Monday, May 26, 2014


I'm asked sometimes whether my kids ever talk.

OH yes, they talk. They talk about elephants, and bees, and chocolate bunnies. They talk about coffee (Steven will take his with one Equal, please) (not really, he picked that up from Daddy) and offer you "more?" and "more?" and "more?" and "more?" until you're nearly shaking from the imaginary caffeine from all the pantomimed refills. They talk about Grandmas (or "Gran-maaaaaw," to my mom's exasperated delight) and Grandpas and their cousins and aunts and uncles and dogs. They talk about P(in)occhio and "Lion Cub" (Lion King) and Dumbo and Batman, frequently inventing stories where Pocchio eventually turns into a "weal-ife lion!"

They talk in voices, experimenting with pitch and timbre; they talk in song, exploring ways to play with words to change meaning and create silly nonsense (did you know the corn on the bus goes clink clink clink?); they talk in sweet hushed voices I can't hear from the front seat of the car. They talk in bed, telling each other stories in the dark for hours after bedtime, waking each other (well, her waking him, and me, and Daddy) early every morning with a top-of-the-lungs "A-B-C-D-E-F-G I LOVE YOU YOU LOVE ME WE'RE A HAPPY FAMILY."

Eleanor will tell you all about her new camera (pronounced "grandma," to my mom's utter befuddlement), and Steven will tell you all his favorite things to eat (Pi-sah Booty, Goldfish, chocolate bunny, sammich, chocolate bunny, pee-dah buttah, chocolate bunny... Easter had a big impact around here) - but only if you've hit the mysterious magical Threshold of Familiarity. Believe me, you'll know when you get there... you'll never hear the end of it.

Monday, March 31, 2014


At church yesterday, even though I'd been involved in worship planning during the week before, somehow I was taken by surprise when we started singing "Stronger." It was one of those moments that takes you back in time so instantly, you don't even have time to catch yourself.

Two years ago, I was sitting in a hospital room. In fact, I'd been sitting in a hospital room for six weeks.

I was scared, and sick of my four walls and window (even though we'd brought pretty much an entire house's worth of stuff to make it homey and entertain me), sick of the giant flag flying over the La Quinta that was my only view, being diagnosed seemingly every day with some new multiple-pregnancy complication, and just praying we could all hold out a little longer.

The first day I'd been admitted, my mom and sister made me a "Twin Playlist" on my phone, and they'd been adding to it throughout the six weeks. I listened to it constantly on repeat, and the song that kept repeating in my head at night, when I was supposed to be trying to sleep, was always "Stronger."

So when we started singing it in the service, I was in two places: two times. I was then, there, scared to hope and so hopeful, and I was here, now, with my two hoped-for, prayed-for, nearly-2-year-old munchkins getting up to every kind of shenanigans and making every moment an adventure.

Stronger, indeed.

Thursday, March 6, 2014


If there's one burden I've wished I could bear for my sisters, it's infertility. If I had to go through it, it should only have been fair that they wouldn't - why should it happen to more than one of us? Infertility (as the link above explains so well) is a peculiar, particular kind of grief, overwhelming and recurring, nearly impossible to ever really process. Sharing that grief can alleviate it a little, and can also draw everyone suffering even further down. Sharing that grief with a sister means that each is grieving their own child... and their nieces and nephews who have been not-to-be. Over the years, my sister has grieved with me and for me, and I with her and for her.

When my kids came along, they were (and are) my greatest joy, and I know my sisters take every joy in them as well, but we all grieved that they wouldn't have same-age cousins to grow up with. As we experienced growing up, close cousins are something incredible - they're siblings, but siblings who aren't all up in your business all the time - how awesome is that?

When my kids were 9 months old, Little Man came into our lives. He was the sweetest baby, and we all loved him, and my kids loved having a cousin, but he wasn't Forever. Shortly before he went back to his family, Avery came along. He was scared and confused, and it took a while for all of us to get to know each other, but when we went to Colorado over Christmas, it happened.

They were a gang. They were Cousins. They were nearly inseparable, and got up to all kinds of shenanigans as a threesome. My kids suddenly picked up a TON of new words on that trip, and all three of them just chattered nonstop to each other all the time, swapped preferred breakfast items, had impromptu raves and truck races in the hallway. They were a unit, different but just as cohesive as The Twins can be.

Cousins at MY cousin's wedding
Two days ago, Avery became ours. Ok, he became Abbey and Dane's, but he became ours, too. He's officially Family, he's officially a Forever Cousin, and he's already enriched our lives more than I can say.

Welcome, Avery Joel Daniels. We love you.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

My little people

You know one of my favorite things about watching my kids grow up... 

The minute a baby is born, it starts: He has his daddy's eyes! She has her grandma's nose! His head is shaped just like great-uncle Bob's!

As they grow, those features grow too, and may change, or may deepen in resemblance. But as they get older, their features really grow to look like... themselves. As we get to know them, they may still have mommy's mouth or daddy's hair, but increasingly, their features are their own, unimaginable in that particular combination on anyone else.

What I've started seeing, though, is that in their utterly unique personalities, they also have funny little habits that they've picked up/inherited from us. Eleanor squeaks "Oh my goodness!" or even "Goodness gracious!" with perfect inflection when something surprising happens, which she's picked up from... any number of people, actually. Steven plays with sounds like I do - he'll pick up a phrase and repeat it, then repeat it again with different consonant sounds beginning the words, then again with another consonant. He'll hum a song with nonsense syllables... num num num num num num num, ba ba ba ba ba ba ba, dee dee dee dee dee dee dee, doo doo doo doo doo doo doo, num num num num num num num, la la la la la la la (Twinkle Twinkle/ABCs, if you're curious). 

Oh, and? He loses his mind over Aunt Suzy's buttercream.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


I meant to write about Christmas. I really did. I meant to write about our awesome trip to Colorado after Christmas. I think I even have a draft saved where I started, and it just didn't get finished. But I will! Maybe even right here, after all.

Clever girl

What happened? Well, I started a new job, which is amazing, but involved some big changes for us. I have to wear pants to work, and the kids are now going to Mothers Day Out three days a week, and staying with their grandmas one day a week (this morning when I dropped them off, Eleanor jumped into my mom's arms and waved insistently, "Bye mom! BYE MOM!" Okay, okay, I can take a hint...), and they're just thriving. It took Steven a few days to adjust to being dropped off at MDO, but it didn't take long before they'd both run in to their favorite toys and not look back. Most days, when I get there to pick them up, they're running around holding hands. They're learning SO much, and they're so bright - their teachers say Eleanor picks up everything they say and parrots it back, while Steven listens silently all day long, until it's time for naps, and then he sits with his head against the side of the crib and talks. And talks. And sings. And talks. Everything they've taught them, all day, all week, comes pouring out while all the other kids are (or are supposed to be) asleep.

Helping me organize my garage sale pile
So, Christmas. Was pretty amazing this year. We had a pretty low-key day with family, and the kids had a great time baking with grandma:

And checking out Christmas cards:

And generally spending time with our family. The next day, we embarked on our epic adventure: the kids' first vacation! We packed a huge van with two car seats, two toddlers, 7 adults, and about a ton of luggage, and drove to the YMCA of the Rockies. It snowed the first night we were there, and we woke up to this wonderland:

We all had a great time playing in the pristine snow.

We stayed in a cozy cabin, and the kids (for some reason) really loved playing in the hallway where the bedrooms were. I think because it went right off the living room/kitchen, so we could always see them, but they could feel like it was their own little space. They'd race cars down it, and have little dance parties where they flipped the lights on and off (their favorite feature of the cabin: low light switches), and generally work themselves into hysterical laughter every 3 minutes or so. My mom made all 3 kids snuggly fleece sleep sacks, and they love them - they call them their "cozies" and still beg for them every night now that we're home. 

We were only there a few days, but of course we had some opportunities to walk around downtown Estes and eat great food. 

And of course there was just a tiny bit of goofiness (, all the time. The whole trip. Pretty much every minute.):

We didn't want to leave, but we were happy to get home. Although heaven help us if Steven notices we have a fireplace at home too - we might have to start using it.

Bonus frog song that I get to hear all the way to work and all the way home now (sorry, my voice is really loud):