Fearless Faith, Mission Motherhood, Uncategorized

JOY

WOW.  Putting aside time to write has felt near impossible these past few months.  Between the baby being a baby and the two-year-old being a two-year-old and the seven-year-old actually being very helpful and the dogs and the kitten and my husband also having interests, along with a job to support our not-so-tiny family…when is there time for me to sit at the computer and get my thoughts out?  If I don’t have time to clean the bathrooms, do the dishes, get caught up on laundry, vacuum, or any of the other “housewifey” things that I feel like should be simple tasks to complete– how can I justify spending 45 minutes in front of the computer?  I’d be the first to tell another busy mom (or dad, for that matter) that self-care is not selfish…but when taking my own advice, I obviously struggle.

IT’S A NEW YEAR, FRIENDS!!  Can you believe it!?  2018? 

Like most of everyone, I’d assume, I did some careful reflection over my 2017.  I had a friend suggest to write things that I wanted to thank God for…and, in the midst of a heavy year, I found so many things that were more than worthy of praise.  –In this activity, I had to quickly realize that acknowledging that I’m grateful for events while mourning the death of a loved one does not negate the pain I still feel.  To me, after a few deep breaths, it felt like an unnatural but necessary part of grieving that I likely wouldn’t have taken the time to do had this friend not literally handed me pencil and paper as she posed this question.  Following the question about thanksgiving, she asked: “What in your life needs to die for new growth to emerge?”  …These two questions churned hard in my heart.  For what do I need to give thanks and what do I need to bury to start fresh?  Christians likely think of Jesus’s suffering on the cross, being buried, and raised again to life so that we, too, can have everlasting life.  Atheists, agnostics, and individuals of other religions or beliefs might have an easier time thinking of a tree.  (This was the analogy that I immediately thought of, honestly.)  I’m not even sure if this analogy is true or backed by science, but I heard one time years ago that a tree lets go of its leaves not because they’re unneeded during the fall and winter months, but because their branches would be too heavy to support the weight of the leaves in addition to the ice or snow that often falls during the colder months.  In order for the tree to bear the weight of the snow, it must let go of the leaves grown in the previous season.  It’s because of this defense that the tree keeps its branches and is allowed to produce new leaves and new life each year.

“What in your life needs to die for new growth to emerge?”  

For me, the answer wasn’t one that I wanted to hear…but it was an immediate lump in my throat and I knew that I had to put pen to paper: ego, pride, self-reliance, and comparison.  Between Pinterest and Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat and self-help sections and DIY projects, it is so easy to find myself buried in a pile of “oh-my-God-how-am-I-ever-supposed-to-get-all-of-this-done-in-15-minutes-and-the-veggies-are-burning-and-why-is-there-snot-all-over-your-face-son?”  And, instead of asking for help, I’ll look on Pinterest to find ways to make my one person become so efficient that I’m able to complete the tasks of several while still caring for my children and modeling for them the values that I want so badly so soften their hearts in a world that suggests toughening up.  Why do I look on Pinterest?  Why do I ask for recommendations on Facebook about organization and quick meals?  Why do I think I should do it all and why do I think I have to EARN a break by completing everything?  In teaching, I know that students perform better if they’re given frequent breaks.  Why would I think it would be any different as an adult?  I also tell my children regularly, “Do not yell at me.  Do not whine.  If you need help, all you need to do is use your words and ask.  I’d be happy to help.”  I was on the phone with my mom a little over a week ago, and she said, “Dani, why don’t you ask me to help you?  I’d be glad to come watch the kids for a while.  You just need to tell me when you need me.”  My mother in law, aunts, grandma, friends, neighbors, etc. have all said the same thing.  Why is it so hard to ask for help?  Ego.  Pride.  Self-reliance.  “I got it.”  “I can do it.”  Or the worst of all: COMPARISON.  “But I saw on Facebook– SHE has kids…THEY goes on vacations…HER house is clean…HER meals are perfect…THEIR bodies are flawless…SHE is a better mom/wife/Christian/daughter/friend/person than me…THEY ARE BETTER.”  I know I’m not the only one who does this.  Right?  Right.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

For the past several years, I’ve chosen a word to focus on through the upcoming year.   Each year I’ve experienced transformation.  The first year, my word was “INTENTION.”  Year two: “IDENTITY.”  Last year: “PEACE.”  This year: “JOY.”

In the previous years, I’ve mediated and prayed about my word because I wanted to pick the perfect word for the most drastic spiritual transformation.  This year, I didn’t do anything to receive my word.  –I have not been able to get away from my word for MONTHS.  It literally keeps showing up everywhere.  I know, you’re probably thinking, “Well, Christmas was just here…and ‘JOY to the World’ and JOY-this and JOY-that…”  But it’s been more than just the typical Christmastime sightings.  And it started prior to Christmastime festivities.  So my focal word for 2018 is JOY.  As a noun, it’s great…of course: “a feeling of happiness”–but as a verb…that’s truly where I’m going to place my focus: “rejoice.”  Can you imagine how much less stressed and resentful I would feel if I would stop comparing my dirty dishes to yours or hers or his or theirs…and instead took a minute to rejoice?  It sounds hokey.  But I’m going to try it, because it can’t hurt.  I’m going to rejoice in the dishes that show my family has eaten today…Rejoice in the laundry that shows my family has plenty of weather appropriate clothing…Rejoice in the aching shoulders and arms that show my children feel comforted in my care….Rejoice in the many friends and family who offer to help and say YES because self-care is not selfish.  Rejoice in the knowledge that I’m not so important that another person can’t watch my kids or load the dishwasher or fold the laundry…Rejoice in the recognition of some control issues and the ability to ask for help instead of drowning because I refuse to let go of the idea that I can complete everything on my own.  Rejoice in letting the dead leaves fall to the ground (ego, pride, self-reliance, comparison) in order for fresh leaves and new life to emerge (JOY).

 

 

 

joyDo you have a word for 2018?  If you haven’t yet chosen one, I encourage you to choose a word that resonates with your soul.  Choose a word that encourages growth and demands action, but is gentle enough to tuck away at night and allow you to sleep
peacefully.  If you have already chosen a word, I’d love for you to comment with your word.  No explanations.  Just the word.  I believe in support…I believe in the power of prayer…and I believe that the simplicity of a single word can be extraordinarily impactful.

Until I get the chance to write again, from my heart to yours, Happy New Year!

xox,
Dani

Mission Motherhood

I can wear a baby, but my shoes have to come off?

Navigating airport security is a bit of a cluster with little ones. Since Christmas will soon be here and many of you may be traveling I thought I’d share my perspective on flying with babies. My family recently took a week long trip to Orlando, Florida with our 11 month old twins. This was our first experience flying with them and I have learned a lot about how to make the process easier.

Things to keep in your carry on bags:

  • Change of clothes for mom and dad – if a baby has a blow out while they’re in your lap, you’ll need a change of clothes too. 
  • 2 extra outfits per baby
  • Extra pacifiers 
  • Snacks – we used the 3 compartment formula holders for a variety of snacks (gold fish, corn Chex and Cheerios) 
  • Empty baby bottles and extra bottles of water (Make sure you take them out of your bag and put them in a separate bin when going through security. Tell them you have water for babies and they will allow you to take it through after testing the outside of the bottle.)
  • Sippy cups if your babes are drinking water – it’s easy to get dehydrated while traveling. 
  • Books and small toys – preferably something they haven’t read or played with in a while. 
  • Changing pad for airport bathroom diaper changes. 
  • Gas drops. Our girl has a tendency to get gassy and squeals about it. So for the sake of the other passengers keep some on hand if your babes are prone to belly bubbles. 
  • Tylenol in case of unexpected teething pain. 

Tips and tricks for navigating the airport:

  • Have your travel partner or a family member drop you off curb side rather than parking in long term parking. My husband dropped us curbside and then took our car to long term parking and rode the shuttle to the terminal. It was easier for him to ride alone than it would be for us all to lug babies and luggage onto a shuttle bus. 
  • Take a stroller that will hold your infant carrier car seats (if you’re going to have to travel with car seats). We took the Baby Trend Snap n Go for easy airport transport and rented a double jogger stroller at our destination. 
  • Take wearable baby carriers. We used the Ergobaby carriers. As you near security strap those babies to your chest. Security will want the car seats and stroller to go through the x-ray machine so it’s easier to already have the babies out of the stroller when you get to that point. 
  • Wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off because getting shoes on and off while baby wearing can be annoying. 
  • Put the babies back in their car seats/stroller while navigating to your gate. 
  • When you get to your gate, make bottles up and have them ready for takeoff because it’s is obnoxiously cramped on the plane to try to hold onto a baby and fix a bottle. We wanted our babies to have bottles for take of to aide with releasing pressure and easing ear popping. 
  • As soon as your flight starts boarding, get the babies back in their wearable carriers. Put your stroller and car seats into their “GATE CHECK” bags
  • Board as early as they let you. (We flew Southwest which we loved, but we didn’t check in ahead of time because we assumed we could board first with family boarding. With Southwest families board after zone A boards. If we checked in ahead of time we may have had the opportunity to load in group A.)
  • Sit accross from the aisle from one another or in front of/behind each other (depending on the size of airplane). We were on a 757 and they have 3 seas together on either side of the aisle. There are only 4 oxygen masks for the 3 chair groupings so they won’t let you have 2 lap children in the same row.
  • Keep your diaper bag with toys, snacks and bottles between your feet. 

Happy traveling, Mommas! Stay calm and go with the flow. Things can go awry even when you’re prepared. Although it still helps to be mentally prepared! 

Mission Motherhood

Are they twins? 


Moms of multiples everywhere can totally relate.  Generally about everywhere we go we get some sort of comment or question  from about 5-10 different people. Here are some that I’ve heard recently and my silent sarcastic quips I’d like to throw at poeple:

  • Are they twins? Well, I bought a double stroller and thought I’d bring the baby I found in the parking lot because shopping with 2 infants seems like a lot more fun. 
  • Do they run in your family? No, do you generally ask new moms about their genetic history?
  • You have your hands full. Not as full as my heart. 
  • Better you than me. If you have the heart to say this, you don’t have the heart for twins. So it probably is better. 
  • Do you breast feed two at a time? I don’t ask you what you do with your boobs, don’t ask me what I do with mine.
  • How did you find out you were having twins? Modern medicine. 
  • What was your response? What would your response be?
  • Did you want twins? Uhh, I wanted children so I guess the answer is yes. 
  • How far along were you before you delivered? 35 weeks (ok – no sarcasm here)
  • Did you have them naturally? When you say naturally do you mean – did they come from my vagina vs surgical methods? Did I use drugs or essential oils? 
  • Are they both yours? Actually, this one is mine and that one is my husbands. It’s been rough on our marriage to raise his lovechild, but we’re trying to make it work. 
  • How close in age are they? Approximately 8 min. 
  • I don’t know how you do it. Some of us are capable of putting on big girl panties and getting shit done. 
  • You have two babies there. Uhhh, thank you?!
  • Oh, two boys? Yeah, I make one wear pink so I can tell them apart. 
  • General comments about their differences (this one has dark hair and that one has light hair, this one is bigger than that one). Thank you for describing the physical appearance of my children to me. 
  • I’ve always wanted twins. I would be an awesome twin mom! Yeah… maybe. 
  • Do they have different personalities? Do your children have different personalities? You don’t have children? Do you and your siblings have different personalities?
  • Do they nap at the same time? Only if God wills me to take care of the rest of our household. 
  • A boy and a girl… so one and done huh? As if this is the perfectly magical combination of children that everyone strives for so why would I ever dream of having another?

My most favorite from a recent trip to a local second hand store involved a few gray haired ladies wearing loud floral prints:
“Are they twins? Let me get a look. Oh they must be identical.”

Me: Actually they are boy and girl twins so there’s no way they’re identical.

“Oh, but they look just the same. They both have blue eyes.”

I have no hate for those who are fascinated by the idea of carrying, birthing, and caring for two babies… but golly, it amazes me how much people lose all social filters when they spot twins. I will always put on my happy face and respond kindly, but that doesn’t mean I won’t come up with more ridiculous and sarcastic responses that will never come out of my mouth (of which I get to share with you).

What weird questions have people asked you mommas?

Mission Motherhood

What we’ve learned: our first year with twins

Today in our Facebook memories, I found a list of things that my husband and I learned in our first week as parents.  We felt totally clueless in that first week, still learning what cries mean… the trial and error or satisfying a fussy baby.  We’ve learned a lot in that one week and we learned so much more in the weeks to come.  Screen Shot 2017-12-05 at 9.00.56 AM

Here is what we have learned in year one:

  • Becoming a Stay-at-Home-Mom was the best thing we could do for our marriage and our children. I don’t say this to discredit working moms. Working moms are the strongest women I know. I’m just not good at it… the pressure I put on myself at work and at home was just too much for me to deal with and still be productive in each of my roles as a supervisor, parent, and wife. My husband tells me I’m my worst critic and he may be right about that.
  • Getting out of the house can be therapeutic.  (Therapeutic in the way that sometimes a deep tissue massage can feel painful, but you always feel great a few hours later and it carries on into the next few days) Life with twins is hard.  Getting out to do the simplest things is so much more complicated when you have to get 2 babies out.  But getting out of the house and learning to navigate life in my new normal was therapeutic.  Was it easier to stay home… definitely… but it’s great to feel human and make a trip to Target.
  • People say the most ridiculous things to twin parents. My most favorite was from a young waitress at dinner the other night, “Have you thought about what you’re going to do for their senior pictures? There are so many cute things you’ll be able to do.” Uhhh…. we have about 17 years to think about it and we probably won’t make them do senior pictures together because they are indeed individuals.  (See my past blog for more ridiculousness)
  • Don’t expect all of those people who offered to help to show up.  I would say about 25% of those that offered to help were there to help.  So many family members came out of the woodwork when they found out we were pregnant with twins… but a small handful have been present.  I’m totally happy with this because the handful that are present are such significant people in our lives and will continue to be in the lives of our children.
  • Making 3 months of freezer meals was the best thing I did to prep for the babies. It was so nice to not have to pull dinner together or run to the grocery store to buy something to throw together.
  • Communication is important, but it may not be as important as sleep.  Our first six months of being parents was so challenging.  Neither one of us knew what we were doing and both of us were so prideful that when the other made recommendations of things to try we would typically just snap.  How dare you make a suggestion and insinuate that I don’t know what I’m doing!!! We are both perfectionists so hearing that we weren’t doing something right was difficult.  We stopped being so touchy when we started getting more sleep.
  • Pumping is hard.  I was an exclusive pumper and I wish I would’ve offered my babies breast milk for their first year of life.  I stopped pumping at 8 months. By the time they were mobile, it was more difficult to pump and I would have to get up 2-3 times during a 20 min pump session to get one baby off the other or keep them from getting into something. I felt like a brand new woman when I finished pumping and I felt like I gained so much more valuable time with my babes.
  • Unsolicited parenting advice will come at you from all angles. Be kind and take it with a grain of salt. You know what is best for your children and your family.
  • Month 0-3 is the absolute hardest. Things get easier in the 6th month and a whole lot more fun in the 8th month.  And for us, the sleeping through the night was a game changer at 10 months.
  • People are generous. So many people gave us baby things in the last year.  Friends that I haven’t seen since college messaged and asked if we needed clothes or baby items.  It was amazing.  We really didn’t have to buy hardly any clothes.
  • Buying second hand is the best! Babies use things for such short periods of time it seems so silly to spend the money on new items. But as a stay-at-home-mom, budgeting is important. We utilized a number of consignment sales in our area like Rhea Lana, Just Between Friends and Savers.
  • Prayer is an absolute necessity for me. Bringing some peace into what feels like a chaotic life is much needed. Praying did that for me.  When I would wake up anxious about why the kids didn’t get up for a bottle… and when I couldn’t go back to sleep because the kids would be up soon for a bottle anyway… I prayed. Prayed for my healthy babies, for peace, for restful sleep, for my husband, for milk production, and so many other things.
  • We can still do more than I ever thought we could.  I said this after our first week and I say it now… but now I say it to include the babes too.  They are little rock stars. Their pediatrician tells us that she never would’ve guess they were premature because they are excelling in so many ways. They do things daily that impress me. As a family we still do things that surprise some.

In all that I’ve learned in the last year, it is incredibly difficult to deal with the urge for more babies.  Looking back and reminiscing on what our last year has been like makes me want to experience it all over again.  But I guess I’ll wait for the emotions to pass before we try to make that decision just yet.

Mission Motherhood

Twin Delivery: My Birth Story

On this day last year, our twins were born.  Today has me reminiscing, so I thought I’d tell my birth story.  It’s a long story, so bear with me. Hopefully it can help ease the minds of soon-to-be twin mommas.

On November 9, 2016 I was on my way to work and I was feeling a bit fuzzy, light headed and I was seeing bright lights in my periphery.  I thought it was food related and my body was mad at me for not eating enough breakfast.  When I got to work I ate something and told my boss I needed to run to the nearest CVS to check my blood pressure.  My blood pressure was 159 / 96 and it continued to get worse in the 10 min that I sat there and checked it 4 times.  I called my OB’s office and they asked me to have someone drive me to Labor and Delivery (although I stubbornly drove myself).  After arriving at Labor and Delivery at 9:00am, it seemed like they were just going to keep me overnight for observation like they did 3 weeks prior.  However, by 3:00pm I began having contractions (that I wasn’t feeling) and I was dilated to 5 cm and 90% effaced.  I was at 32 weeks and 3 days.  My husband rushed to the hospital from work and by the time he arrived they started me on steroid shots for the babies and magnesium sulfate to stop my labor.  They told me I would be getting the “mag” for 48 hours, long enough to complete the steroid shots to help give the babies’ lungs a fighting chance.  I wasn’t allowed to eat until signs of labor subsided, and I was forced to use a bed pan because they didn’t want me getting out of bed on the magnesium sulfate. It was that or a catheter and I chose bed pan. By 8 pm that night, the head of the NICU and one of the NICU nurses came to our room to talk to us about what it would look like to have babies in the 32nd week of pregnancy.  We were terrified to say the least.  They informed us that they had a room for them in the NICU prepared, just in case. They told us to expect to be in the hospital until our due date, Jan 1, which would be nearly 2 months. My OB said that my body could go back into labor as soon as the 48 hours of “mag” was completed.  So we prayed…

Despite huge fluctuation in my blood pressure and a couple hours of the day where contractions were happening every 10-15 min, we made it another day…. and then another day after that…  My OB said we wouldn’t be leaving the hospital without babies, but he wouldn’t let me go longer than 37 weeks and if we made it that far we would induce at 37 weeks.  They rolled a long term bed into my room, which may have been the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in, and began my wait.  I was in good spirits and thankful and grateful that I was able to rest up and keep the babies in.  I was taking everything one day at a time and keeping myself occupied.  I took two naps a day, spent a few hours a day working on my laptop, reading, working through puzzle books, watching movies and Netflix, and eating… A LOT.  On the 18th day (November 26) I began getting cabin fever.  I needed to move, stretch, wear real clothes, get out of the room and hallway I had been confined to for 18 days.  I was given permission to take a wheel chair ride outside and to the cafeteria, and I got approval to take a bath in the hospital jacuzzi tub which is generally reserved for post postpartum mommas.  We ate dinner in my room and we tried to watch a movie.  It was a good day and I had convinced myself that this is the best it’s going to get and every other day from here on out will just be blah.  I just began falling apart… sobbing… “how do they expect me to do this for 14 more days?!”  At some point in the middle of my breakdown, my nurse Stacy came in.  This God-send of a woman gave me a big hug and a bit more faith. She gave me a pep talk and convinced me that 35 weeks was a huge accomplishment.  We decided rather than focusing on how many days we had been there, we were going to focus on how many days we had remaining until we got to meet our babies (the 37 week mark).

My husband and I finished our movie and went to bed.  I woke up around 1:00am and had a hard time going back to sleep… so I watched the baby monitors for a while and got up to use the restroom.  I suspected my water broke, or maybe one of the babies had pinched off my bladder causing what felt like breaking waters. I decided to eat graham crackers and a cliff bar, just in case.  I climbed back into bed and felt like I was still leaking so I called Stacy.  She was so excited for me. She turned on the lights and checked to confirm it was amniotic fluid. My husband woke up from his tiny little bed and says… “what’s going on? what time is it?”.  Stacy says, “We’re checking to see if her water broke.”  He yells, “Why didn’t you wake me up?” I didn’t want to wake him up until I knew for sure it was amniotic fluid. After Stacy confirmed my bag of waters broke, she brought in a handmade gift from the night nurses and techs.  They had made me a paper chain for the next 14 days filled with encouraging words and I was to break off a paper link with each day.  She hands it to me and says, “I guess you won’t need this anymore”.  She called the on call OB and he told her to keep a close eye on me and page him if I got closer. My husband began frantically packing our room up anticipating delivery at any moment, and Stacy gave him a hard time for it because she knew we’d have plenty of time to pack. Stacy left at 7am shift change and I was so sad to see her go, but my nurse Christy tagged in to take over and she was phenomenal too.

By 9:00am my contractions had subsided and zero progress was being made.  My OB said that most twin deliveries require pitocin because a woman can deliver twin A and her body can stop laboring which can put twin B in danger, so they give pitocin to keep labor progressing.  Since I was going to have to get on the pitocin later in delivery, he said we could go ahead and start it now and try small amounts of it to keep things moving forward.  We gave it a try and nothing. I remember watching Golden Girls and listening to the Hillsong United – Empires album. They slowly increased my pitocin and by 1:00pm I was ready for an epidural.  The epidural stick was way more painful than ANY of the contractions I had up to that point. The first one he blew out so he had to stick me again.  I was leaning over Christy and squeezing her harder than I thought I ever could and glad I didn’t cause her permanent damage.  The epidural felt great for about 45 min…. and then I could feel everything on one side. At one point I sat up in bed through such a pain that I couldn’t even suck in breath. My husband called the nurse and I told her to get that “effer” back in there to fix it.  So for the 3rd time, he placed an epidural and finally I felt great.  I took about an hour and a half nap and when I woke up I was at 9 cm.  Within an hour I had progressed to a 10 and we were ready to start pushing.  So they got my husband dressed and wheeled us down to the Operating Room, leaving my mom behind in the L&D room. As they wheeled me in, the strongest sense of determination came over me. I was calm, and more focused than I have ever been in my life. They transferred me to the most uncomfortable bed in the warmest room in the hospital. There had to be 15 people in there… 3 nurses for me, OR techs, a couple nurses and respiratory therapist for each baby. It was a packed house.

I was so in-tuned with my body and so focused. My OB said we would push at the start of each contraction for the count of 10.  I could tell him when they were coming before the monitors could, which surprised him. He cheered me on and coached me through it and he was fantastic. I have never felt so empowered.  I pushed for about 40 – 45 min before twin A was delivered. And my husband shouted “She’s so big!” because he had envisioned such a tiny baby. She was quiet… and I was scared. They said she was likely stunned from being in the birth canal for so long. My husband kept peeking across the room to get a visual on her and within a few minutes she was crying.  I couldn’t see because as soon as she was delivered I had two nurses on my belly to prevent twin B from rotating.  It took one push for him and he came out wailing. My husband walked over to where he was laying and twin B grabbed daddy’s hand.  They were both breathing great so they brought them to my chest… first twin B, then twin A. I looked up at my husband and said “this is the coolest thing ever!”

They walked us back to our room where my mom was anxiously waiting.  They informed us that it wasn’t likely that the babies would need any NICU time, and we were in awe. God had answered SO many prayers… and every single day confined to that room was WORTH IT.

 

 

 

 

Fearless Faith, Mission Motherhood

One Body

Lately I’ve found it difficult to communicate that I feel like I’m currently incompetent in my job.  No one likes admitting a struggle…especially when (in my mind) so many people would be like, “What are you talking about?!  You’re a stay-at-home-mom!  How can you be incompetent at staying home?!”  Well, I have a 7-year-old who is at school during the day, but I’m home with a 2-year-old and a 2-month-old and I feel like I’m drowning.  My entire adult life has been devoted to working with children and learning about children and playing with children and helping and laughing and guiding children.  So in this time that I’m home with my own two children, why is it that I feel like I’m not enough?  Why is it that I feel like I’m unable to provide the consistency, structure, flexibility, and grace that I’d be providing in a classroom?

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I start working when the first kid wakes up…which on some days is 4:00am…some days is 7:00am…  Eventually they nap, and IF I’M LUCKY it’s at the same time…so then I clean…and, by the time I think I have a second to get my thoughts together enough to read or write or take pictures or stare at the wall for 30 minutes– 52 seconds have gone by and one of the kids is awake again.  I typically smell of coffee breath and baby puke…and there have been times when I’ve felt resentful toward each and every living thing in this house– including my children and the dogs…because they are yet another thing that I stress about as I’m drifting to sleep at night:  Do they [the dogs] have food?  Have they had any water today?  Oh my God, I don’t think I let them out after dinner…wait…DID THEY GET FED?  How is October still alive?…but, really, does she have an ear infection?…and what is that rash on her belly?–She is SO old…HOW IS SHE STILL LIVING?  Oh my Jesus, Tommy will be devastated when she dies…I HAVE to make sure I’m the one to find her.  Geez, then what will I do?  I can’t lift her……  I wonder if Tommy gave her meds tonight…because I gave her meds…did I unintentionally overdose her?  Can dogs have kidney failure?  Oh my GOD, Summit had to have just pooped on the floor…No?  THAT was just GAS?!  Uhhhhhhhh why am I not sleeping?!  …DID we overdose October?  I hope she’s okay…Uggggh…I’ll just get up and go check on her…

Does that sound familiar?  I know I’m not the only mom who does this.  I’m sure there are dads that ALSO do this very thing…but not in my house, because my husband can fall asleep in about 45 seconds and will not wake until ready to be woken.  Doesn’t that sound AMAZING?!  I hear EVERYTHING…and, as soon as I’m awake, the cycle of thoughts starts all over again: Please tell me there aren’t wet clothes in the washer…I think I switched them…but I really don’t want them to smell like mildew…I should get up and check…but what if Jett hears me?…wait, when did Indie eat last?…should I just go ahead and feed her while I’m awake?…oh, she’ll be due to eat in 30 minutes or so…I might as well just stay up……

At small group a few weeks ago, we read 1 Corinthians 12:12-26– And, while I’m sure the author did not intend for these words to apply to household roles, I couldn’t help but feel a wave of comfort as I allowed this scripture to sink in.

Unity and Diversity in the Body

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it,25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

–I’d love to say that I immediately relate this piece to my relationship with the world…or with the church…and how I can be Jesus alongside everyone and to everyone because we all have something vital to offer…sometimes what I need to do is bring it down reeeeeally small, put on my egocentric shades, and apply it to where I am right now.  This might not be the case for you, but for this stay-at-home-mom, it’s easy to let my mind drift to:
“Well, I’m not earning a paycheck…”
“Well, I’m home all day…why have I not gotten the laundry caught up?”
“…Why are there still dishes in the sink?  …Why has the vacuum not left the closet in three weeks?  …Why does the bathroom smell like urine and why is there toothpaste residue?”
“Well, I’m home all day…why does my barely-two-year-old not know his colors, shapes, and alphabet?”
“Why is dinner not ready?”
–But, after reading this, I’m trying to give myself more grace and to give God more credit.  I have always felt equipped to work with children…the difference now is that I am working with the same children every minute of every hour of every day for years– and it often feels like there are no true breaks. There’s no clocking out…and my role rarely changes. I am “Mom.” And even though “Mom” wears so many hats, the role is still “Mom.” Everyone in our home has a role…everyone has a job… Is my job any less important because I’m “not earning a paycheck?”  Is my husband’s job any more important because he does?  Am I failing miserably at my job because I’m unable to mark every single task off my to do list every day?…or is my husband failing miserably because he’s continuing to wear clean clothes to work and therefore producing laundry?  …Just as my life would be significantly impacted if my husband suddenly quit his job, his life would be significantly impacted if I suddenly quit mine.  Even when I think I’m getting nothing accomplished, I’m drowning in baby puke, and I’m a lousy excuse as a stay-at-home-mom…I need to remember that: “As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” No single person makes our family the unit that it is– it’s a collective effort from each part to produce one body from our house and transform it into our home.

Isn’t it amazing how a piece of literature from thousands of years ago has the ability to be this breathable document that can provide so much peace and clarity to present day circumstances?–and it might not provide that to anyone else…but, for me, it was exactly what I needed to hear. Has there been an instance in which you’ve stumbled upon the perfect scripture to shine light on a current or past dilemma in your own life? We would love to hear your stories! Feel free to comment below or join our Facebook group of the same name: Birds of a Feather. Thanks for flocking with us!

Mission Motherhood, Mom Must-Haves

Packing for a week long vacation with twins

I’ve been MIA for the last week and a half because we just spent the last week in Orlando, Florida.  Packing for this trip was super stressful. I could not figure out how I was possibly going to pack 7 days worth of stuff for two 11 month olds. I managed to get my husband and I’s clothes in one suitcase and the twins’ clothes in one suitcase.  We also took a small rolling carry on and a back pack. I’ve lived to tell the tale and here are my recommendations:

  • Pack 3-4 outfits in gallon sizes ziploc bags. Sit on the bags and zip while sitting on them. (It’s not an attractive process but it worked for me!)  I decided that when I do this in the future I will take extra gallon bags. Some bags were ripped while taking the clothes out of the bags. When packing to come home I tried to use the same bags but couldn’t get the air out of the bags because of rips in the bag. 
  • Buy diapers and formula when you arrive to your destination. We literally went to a Walmart directly after we picked up our rental car to get diapers, formula and food. But be mindful of how many diapers you are likely to use. I over estimated and ended up having to find space in my suitcase for about 35 diapers. I would prefer to have to make another Walmart run to buy more than have to lug them home. 
  • Pack high chairs! I know it sounds crazy, but we took these high chairs because we stayed in a condo and cooked a lot of our meals to save money.  There are places that rent high chairs but it’s expensive so I sacrificed some suitcase space and bought some inexpensive foldable high chairs. It maybe took up a third of the suitcase. 
  • If you have easy access to a washer and dryer only pack half of the weeks clothes. I took about 6 outfits for each kid and 4 pairs of PJs per kid. I did laundry in the middle of the week and it worked out great. If we didn’t have access to a washer I would’ve had to pack a lot more and likely would have had to check another bag. 
  • One piece outfits are ideal as it saves on packing space so take as many rompers as you can! 
    My babes in their rompers
  • Pack minimal toys! We took too many toys and they preferred playing with the diaper box, a laundry basket, water bottles… and exploring the condo. I found that the best way to contain them in the suitcase was to take an empty Huggies wipes box and put the toys in it. 
    Contains: 4 mini books, 7 little people farm animals, a teether, set of keys, small ball, bath book, and tiny Tupperware cup.
  • Pack n play sheets were essential. The condo we stayed in had pack n plays available but they didn’t have sheets (other than a standard flat hotel sheet). I took our own pack n play sheets and waterproof covers
  • Pool floaties are so worth fitting in. We have the floaties that fold together like those windshield covers that take 4 tries to fold up just perfectly. I was able to fit them into an outside pouch on the kids’ suitcase. 
  • Baby nail clippers. (How do baby finger nails grow so freaking fast?!) When packing baby toiletries don’t forget to throw the clippers in. We probably cut them twice a week or they get out of control and they scratch themselves and each other. 
  • Silicone bibs were a game changer. I bought these Ashtonbee silicone bibs specifically for this trip and I have no idea why I didn’t get these sooner. They are an easy clean up and roll up pretty small making them easy to pack. 
    Baby girl using her Ashtonbee silicone bib at Giordano’s before it was covered in lasagna.
  • Enough bottles and sippy cups per day is ideal. We took 8 bottles and 2 sippy cups. We packed ours in our carry on bags. 
  • Pack a diaper bag for each of the babies. We took one back pack (diaper bag) on the way to Florida. We ended up buying a second back pack there and flying home with a second diaper bag. A lot of planes have 3 seats on either side of the aisle but we weren’t guaranteed seats together (even though we flew Southwest and were able to board early). There aren’t enough oxygen masks for 3 adults and two babies in a row so we couldn’t sit in the same row. 
  • Take your baby carriers for the ease of  moving through the airport and security.  We used the Ergobaby carriers. This could be a blog all on its own, so stay tuned if you want to know the easiest way to twin through the airport. 
  • Buy car seat and stroller gate check bags to pack in your carry on. We got some very affordable car seat bags and a stroller bag off of Amazon. The Southwest counter could sell them for $15 each but there is no guarantee they have them at the ticket counter which means you could be risking the fabric on your car seats and stroller. 
  • Take a stroller that car seats can sit on. We used the double Baby Trend snap n go. It was helpful in the airport and getting the babies in and out of our 6th floor condo. We rented a double jogger in Orlando from a company close to our condo. There are a ton of stroller rental options in Orlando but call and book ahead for the cheapest deals. 
  • Don’t forget a second set of clothes in the carry on bag. We’ve all had experiences with those dreadful blow outs, which my husband and I like to call “shit-uations”. If a baby has a blow out while sitting in your lap, you’ll likely want a change of clothes for yourself too. 

Gallon bags of clothes across the top. High chairs across the bottom. Pack n play sheets and covers on top of high chairs. Huggies box o toys, handful of swim diapers and sippy cups in the middle.

Whew! That was a lot to digest! Thanks for hanging in there. Vacations with little ones can feel overwhelming but stay organized and don’t stress! If you have any questions about my methods I’m happy to help. If you have suggestions to add I’m excited to hear them… I’m certainly not an expert and love efficiency improvements!