Tuesday, January 7, 2014

No matter what I do, my heart is filled with you

Looking back, all of the achievements the girls had reached by age one pale in comparison to what they are up to now!  That said, I don’t want to diminish everything they did before.  It’s just that I had no idea how much could change in such a (relatively) short period of time.

Grace and Zoe are now walking masters, if not running queens, and really starting to talk.  Zoe, especially, will really try to say a word after you prompt her.  She may get only the first syllable, but she really is giving it a try.  Grace is a bit more hesitant, which is funny, since she was always the one to do things “first.”  But not when it comes to talking – here, Zoe has the upper hand.  Some of the words that Zoe has now mastered are Mama, Mom, “G (pronounced like Jah)” for Grace, pad-pad (for iPad), and all sort of body parts: head, hair, ears, eyes, nose, teeth, feet, hands.  There are so many more that I am probably forgetting, but those are the ones that she really has down pat.  Oh, and she has a lot of animal sounds down. Lately she has started to say “poop”, though if you ask her if she has pooped, she shakes her head no. J  I think my favorite thing to get Zoe to say, though, is Pout-Pout.  It just sounds so cute coming out of her. 

Grace has really developed a vocabulary in just the last two weeks.  She went from what Kris and I dubbed her “Mama, Ball and Moo” phase to really differentiating between things.  For a while, every person was “Mama,” every object was a “ball” (said with a very southern drawl – no idea why!), and every animal said “Moo.”  She still uses Moo for most animals, but she is slowly getting the hang of other sounds. 

I think what has been the most amazing part of this phase in their lives is the level of understanding they can demonstrate.  I mean, even though they don’t have the words to speak, they really get what you’re saying to them.  I can ask them to pick up something and bring it to Mama and they totally get it.  I can ask them to find something in a room (a very messy, torn apart by two toddlers, room) and they will go looking for it.  If we tell them to put their books back on the shelf, they’ll do it.  And dear, sweet, Grace, will (unprompted) bring Zoe her blanket if she is crying and upset.  Grace loves to be helpful.

In addition to really developing their vocabulary, they’ve both been working on asserting their independence.  In doing so, they’ve really been trying to test their limits, both with each other and with us.  We’ve really gotten a glimpse of the future, I think.  Poor Grace will take so much time to position herself juuuust right on the couch, with one of her favorite books in hand, just to have Zoe walk up and snatch the book away.  Much crying ensues when we take the book away from her and give it back to Grace.  Zoe definitely feels that the injustice was against her.  Sigh.  Lately we’ve had a lot of standing on the couch/ottoman/chair, touching the [fill in the blank with something we’ve repeatedly told them not to touch], and just a general lack of sharing.  And granted, sharing may be a concept that is a little beyond their age, I would argue that they know what they are doing when they steal something from the other.

They have been so much fun to be home with.  It’s not an easy job being a SAHM (even part time), but I have to say that getting to watch all of this amazing growth unfold before me has been a blast.  I think they really like having each other to play with now.  I am mesmerized by their games – for instance, they’ll take a deck of card and “trade” cards back and forth for 10 minutes(!).  They make each other laugh, even when one of them has been in the throws of a fit.  So, despite all the toy taking, they still love each other.

Lately I have been going back to the video I made of the girls for their first birthday (posted in Kris’ earlier entry), and I can’t stop thinking about the friendship that the girls are going to have as they grow older.  Knowing that they’ll always have each other brings me a lot of comfort.  I look forward to watching that unfold. 

“The way you take my hand is such so sweet…. No matter what I do, my heart is filled with you.”
“I can’t image what it’d be like living each day in this life without you.”
-Colbie Caillat “You Got Me”

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Letters to my girls.

In honor of our girls turning one.

Dear Grace & Zoe,

You've both taught me so much in just one year-- and we're only getting started.. It's amazing how much life has changed. Nothing is important as you now; I feel like your arrival has put everything in perspective. Some days as I work in my office, I count down the hours and minutes until I can be home again and see you. Weekends and days off are such a joy. You are so much fun and you fill my soul with such happiness.

While I will worry about you for my entire life - your health, your happiness, your safety - you have taught me to no longer sweat the small stuff. It all pales in comparison to you. One of my colleagues told me, "nothing matters as much [once you have kids]." She was talking about work, but it seems so true in so many aspects.

You are such a blessing in my life. Please know that I will always be here for you and will always love you.

Dear Grace,

I will never forget the moment you were born: the doctor lifting you up so I could see you and your little squished face. You started to cry, due to the shock of it all, and I started to cry, because I couldn't believe how beautiful you were. I had dreamed of becoming a mama for years, but I had no idea what the actual moment of your birth would be like. When they put you and your sister on me, I felt whole for the first time.

You, my darling Grace, are such an amazing, strong, and beautiful girl. You've had such a strong personality from the moment you were born. You always seem to know exactly what you want (or don't want) and you let me and your Mom know. You are certainly your Mom's little buddy. Even when you were small and your tummy hurt, if you slept on her chest, you were a happy camper. I love to watch the two of you interact - you can make each smile so big.

Oh your smile, my Gracie. It's amazing. It lights up the whole room. When you are happy, the whole world knows it. You have had an infectious smile and laugh since you were very small. You are always so determined. You learned to crawl and walk out of sheer will, I think. You have such purpose to your movements and decisions.

You watch everything and take it all in. Even when we hold you, you are looking around the room, as if you're memorizing it. Much like your Mama, you don't like being taken by surprise. You are a creature of home and routine. You love your Moms, of course, and all your grandparents. You have an adorable sideways "shy face," as we call it, that you use as you warm up to family or strangers. When you were small--and even now-- there was a time when you would only be calm if I held you. You are a cuddler and a great hugger. You have so much love in you.

You were named after my grandmother -- your Grandpa's mom, whose first name was Grace. She was one of the sweetest, kindest women I ever met, and I know you have so much of her spirit in you. With your feisty nature and amazing laugh and smile, you also remind me so much sometimes of your Gram's mom. Your great-grandmothers would have loved you so.

You never cease to amaze me - with all that you see and the way you look at the world. You have loved to read since you were small and can spend ages flipping through books. You love to sleep and eat -- though you can be particular about what you eat! You make the best sounds! You make a little noise whenever you are excited (especially if you see a cat!) and another that alerts us to the fact that you are considering something forbidden. You have a noise that lets us know you’re sleepy. You wear your heart on your sleeve, and I hope the world never takes advantage of that.

My dear Grace, you are a total joy to me. I live to make you smile and to snuggle up with you. I have so enjoyed this first year of being your Mama.

Love, Mama

Dear Zoe,

I still remember the doctor telling me that I was having twins and then finding out that we would be having two girls. I never imagined being a Mama to twins, but now I couldn't imagine it any other way.

Oh my Zoe, you have had such personality from the moment you were born. You had your little hand next to your head, as if you were pondering the meaning of life at a mere few hours old. You were awake so much more than your sister, as if you couldn't bear to let the world pass by while you slept. You are such a sweet little girl. You have always been active--even before you were born, I could feel you moving around inside me at all hours. You moved around in your crib when you slept, even at such a young age! You are always turning to sit sideways in a chair, or sticking a hand through the slat in your crib. I swear your little limbs are elastic.

You are such a good natured girl, my dear Zoe, and your smile can cheer up the soul. You are a little ham, who loves to make all of us laugh. If your Mom and I do anything silly, you laugh, and it is such a beautiful sound. When you were small, you had a way of laughing that was perfectly timed - as if you were following along with our conversation and injecting your perfect comedic timing. You have the best expressions; you make a variety of faces, and we have no idea how you learned some of them. It’s amazing!

You are an independent little gal, but you love your Moms so much. You love to hug -- you even hug your stuffed animals. You definitely do your own thing, and sometimes when we tell you no, you just laugh at us. Your Mom and I think you will be trouble when you get older!

You love music and have since you were just tiny. You will listen to anything, from Sesame Street to Alabama to Mark Erelli to the Avett Brothers. You bop your little head and dance away. You've done this ever since you were small. Sometimes I'll see you dancing and realize that somewhere far away there is music playing. I think you'll have a great imagination, as I often find you playing with your toys and jabbering away. I know you're already making up stories, just like your Mama did when she was small.

When your Mom and I found out we were having twin girls, we decided on the name Zoe for you. It was just a beautiful name that we both loved, and it fits you perfectly. Our fun-loving, sweet girl. We think you're an old soul, my dear Zoe, as you sometimes seem wise beyond your ways. When I look at your watchful brown eyes, I know you have some of your Aunt Katrina in you, too, and that makes me happy.

You are an open child, who loves everyone. You love family gatherings and places where you can be the center of attention. You know how to work a crowd, even at age one! You also love dresses and tutus and jewelry. When I hold up a new outfit, you get so excited and clap your hands. Whenver you want more of something, you and your sister flap your hands so excitedly.

Just like your sister, you never fail to amaze me. Your kind heart, your wise eyes, and your amazing ability to go through life so happily. In return, you never fail to make me feel happy. When you toddle over to give me a hug, or grin at me as I walk in the front door, I feel complete. You have no idea how much you give to others with your dear attitude. I hope the world always nurtures that beautiful, kind, and musical spirit of yours, sweet girl. I know your Mom and I will do so for all of our days.

Love, Mama

Friday, August 2, 2013

Our girls are one!

So, somehow, our girls are one. I cannot believe how this year has flown by -- in some ways, it seems like it was very long and in other ways, it seems like it was only moments ago that they were born.

I want to write more about these amazing gals, but for now, some pictures from the big day (July 16th) and their first birthday party the following weekend.

Birthday fun!
Birthday girls

With Mama on the big day
Birthday self-portraits with Mama

Mama & Zoe

Mama & Grace

One year photos!


Birthday party
Birthday party prep

Birthday cake!

Birthday party fun

Birthday party fun

Kate made this amazing video in honor of the girls turning one. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A few April and May milestones.

I kept holding off on writing this entry until I uploaded pictures to our flickr site, but I'm so behind, and at this rate, I'll be posting this entry as the girls turn sixteen.

I have been terrible about capturing their milestones, so just wanted to get a few things down.


-By early May, was very good with her ma, da, ba sounds. She chatters constantly now. She has a "di di di" sound she makes when talking to herself or her toys
-She also has a cute little "hah" sound she makes when excited
-She has a funny little grown she makes when tired, especially if given her bert (pacifier)
-She loves waffles and pancakes
-She loves puffs and yogurt melts. She adores those crunchy "sticks" Gerber makes
-She is now fascinated with the cats. She recognizes the word "cat" and will look around to find the nearest one
-She has a very cute shy grin and a face she makes when feeling proud or accomplished
-She started crawling on 4/7
-She can pull herself up on nearly anything (crib, bookshelves, couch, ottoman, etc.) and she has pretty much mastered getting back down
-She cruises along the couch holding on to the top
-She snuggles against you for a hug when you put her to bed
-She can sign "more" sometimes in context, especially for sticks
-She loves computers - she gets excited if we lift up a lid to a laptop. She loves to bang on the keys (if allowed)
-She also loves the iPad mini (she watches Sesame Street podcasts on it) and can recognize when I take it out of its case
-She has two teeth (came in April)
-She loves her berts and will just rotate them in and out of her mouth if you give her a couple
-She just started wearing 18-month footie PJs (!)
-She is still stealing Zoe's toys and then crying if reprimanded (sigh)
-She loves books! She will surround herself with a stack of them and look at them and chatter. She is also pretty good about listening to stories

-Started crawling by the end of April (4/29). She is super fast now and can keep up with Grace
-She is getting better at pulling herself up, though it is still a work in progress. Getting down still presents a challenge
-She will eat nearly any finger food! She especially loves pasta and gets it everywhere! She rubs her hands in her hair when she eats and becomes a hot mess
-She chatters to herself and cracks herself up a lot
-That laugh! She laughs easily and generously
-She loves music and will dance (bop her head and sway) to music. She is starting to recognize the word "dance"
-She listens to our music (Katy Perry is a favorite) but she also loves "Elmo's Song" and "Rubber Ducky"
-She is still very good natured and charms everyone. She is pretty easygoing about being picked up by most everyone
-She loves to crawl to the magnets we keep on the bottom of the fridge
-She loves to blow raspberries - both in general, or in response to you
-She also loves books
-She has a hilarious "scrunchy" face she makes when happy
-She is still my little nursing champ at night before bed... I want to keep her little for as long as possible sometimes
-She loves to feel wind or air in her hair. She loves being carried around outside

Just a few pictures. I'll catch up someday!
Grace and her beloved laptop
Grace & her beloved laptop

Big girl Grace!
Big girl!

Typical Zoe, post-eating
Zoe Eating

Playing with their magnets
Beloved pastime

So grown up

Reading time

And some videos:

"Sharing" in action

Zoe's early days of crawling

Zoe dancing

Grace starting to crawl

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Mini-vacation to Williamsburg.

Last weekend, Kate and I took the girls on a mini-vacation to Williamsburg. We wound up having a really nice time! I was so pleased. I was a little worried about how the girls would do being off their routine -- and away from any sort of home base for much of the weekend -- but they were troopers. We took the trip so that Kate could take a three-day continuing legal education course in Estate Planning. It seemed like a fun idea to get out of town for a few days!

We left on Friday right at 9AM, so the girls fell asleep pretty quickly and took their morning nap in the car. Grace woke up a little before we stopped for an early lunch, and Zoe actually woke up when we got there, so that worked out well. We stopped and had lunch at a Subway, the girls had their 11:30 bottles and some puffs, and we could do diaper changes and all that. We got into Williamsburg around 12:15, 12:30 and found where Kate's course was located. It turned out to be in the heart of Colonial Williamsburg, which was so cool! We got the girls in the stroller and went inside to get Kate settled and then the three of us walked all around Williamsburg - through Colonial Williamsburg and up to the College of William & Mary and then back. It was really fun! They both dozed for about 45 minutes in the stroller, which was adorable. The girls and I had a little picnic behind the Lodge at one point and they had their 3:30 bottles. I forget when Kate got out, but then we headed to where we were staying to check in.

The place we were staying was pretty nice! We'd found the place through a Living Social. I guess it's normally a timeshare destination. Anyway, it resembled little mini apartment-style condos: our suite had a full kitchen, living room, dining area and two bedrooms - one with a bathroom inside and another with an adjoining bath. It worked out so well! We had a fridge for milk, a dishwasher, a sink for bottle washing... we even made breakfast the first two mornings. The girls had their own room, with a door, so we could close their door and not have to sneak around all evening.

By the time we were in and had all our stuff hauled inside (good lord, we cannot pack light anymore!), it was nearly 6, so we nixed the idea of going out. Kate ran out and picked up Sonic and we gorged on that while the girls ate. All in all, not a bad day! I couldn't believe how good Grace and Zoe were. They loved riding in their stroller and looking at everything. By the end of the day, my fitbit said we'd gone 7+ miles. Not too shabby.

Kate went to her seminar the next day, and the girls and I stayed at the condo. We played and ate and took a walk around the complex. Kate brought us lunch back from The Cheese Shop. Then the four of us went to the nearby Outlets. Wow! They were packed. We had to park far away, which was tough, since we had to Bjorn the girls (stroller won't fit into any shops). We wound up basically just going to Gymboree, Carters, and Osh Gosh. Remember the days when we went shopping for ourselves? Me either! But we found the girls some good summer clothes and used some coupons, so not bad. They were really good, too.

That evening we went from the Outlets to some steak place Kate had read about in one of those restaurant brochures. It was very old-fashioned inside and the waiter looked like he'd been there since the restaurant opened. We were clearly his only customers for quite some time (in his defense, we were eating on the early side) and he would stand right by our table, watching us. The girls were quite the hit with everyone there and they loved the high chairs with actual trays. The food was good, though probably not worth the cost, but it was a fun, amusing experience. We got Sweet Frog after (yes!), took a walk with the girls at home, and then everyone crashed.

Sunday we had to check out, so we were up and packing like mad. Left around 9ish, so the girls slept on the way to the Lodge. Kate went back to her seminar, and I stayed in the car while they slept for a bit. Grace woke up rather early, but she played in her car seat for a while, and I finally got them out of the car and in the stroller around 10:30. We walked around Colonial Williamsburg again and down to Merchant's Square, which was fun. It was very bustling on a Sunday morning. We wound our way back and met Kate as things ended. We ate at Quiznos on our way out of town, fed the girls, and they slept for a good chunk of the trip home. We were probably home by 3 or 3:30.

It was a crazy trip, but I've come to accept that any trip with the girls won't be restful, per se. Still, I was so proud of how good they were and how they adapted on the fly. Plus, we had two days without laundry and didn't have to clean as much, or worry about the cats - it was great. Most of all, I'm proud of us for trying. Sometimes it's just good to get out of the house.

Here are some pics from the trip. You can find all the photos here.
Colonial Williamsburg
Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Sheep

Zoe was so in love with the sheep. She's trying to get out and get them in this photo
Zoe loved the sheep

Happy in their stroller
Happily walking around Colonial Williamsburg

Picnic time
Picnic Time

It's great fun traveling with two pack and plays!
Traveling pack-and-play show

At the Outlets
Our family

Eating Out (Z)
Eating out

Eating Out (G)
Eating out

Ready to walk on Sunday
Another day, another walk!


Sunday, April 14, 2013

First Trip to the Park

I forgot to mention in my March post that we went to the park on the very last day of the month! Grandma and Grampa came with us. It was a beautiful day, and we decided to go in the late afternoon. The girls were a little tired before we left, we thought -- apparently they were very tired, as they fell asleep on the car ride to the park. It's only a three-minute drive or so! Kate and I were quite amused. They were so exhausted that they didn't even wake up as we got them out of their car seats.

First trip to the swings!

First trip to the swings!

They both eventually woke up as we waited around for the swings. Zoe, however, was not too sure about this swing contraption and looked like she'd rather be asleep-- at least at first!

First trip to the swings!

She would eventually warm up a bit! Grace cried at first (much like Grace's reaction to any new thing), but then seemed to have quite a good time.

First trip to the swings!

First trip to the swings!

First trip to the swings!

Zoe perked up a bit. (Side note: she looks so much like my Mom as a baby in this picture - so funny!)
First trip to the swings!

Overall, we had a great time. Mostly, I cannot believe my little ones are big enough for parks and the swings! They are growing up so fast. We definitely want to check this park out again. It's just a few minutes from our house, and had a nice playground. I think it will be a fun thing as the girls get older!

First trip to the swings!


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Our March

This is part 4 (and hopefully the last) in my series of "blog catchup entries." You can find part 3 here.

We had a very nice -- and rather busy -- March! The girls seem to be growing faster each and every day. Here are a few of the highlights:

First women's basketball game
We went to our first women's basketball game early in the month. The girls had a good time, and we even won a free waffle cone thanks to me tweeting a cute picture of Kate and the girls!

The winning picture
Mom & her girls
Zoe & the cone
At a UVA women's basketball game
Grace testing it out
At a UVA women's basketball game
Fuzzy family portrait
At a UVA women's basketball game

A Visit to Maryland
Kate had a week off from work, so she and the girls made a (solo!) trip to Maryland to see Aunt Karen, Uncle Dave, Robyn, Zack, Nana, and Pop. I cannot seem to find the pictures, but they had a nice time -- and tried cheese for the first time! That was a big hit.

Turned 8 months!
Seriously: they are so big now!
8 months old!

8 months old!

Happy Grace


More snow!
We had a lot of snow for March!
Snowy family


Mom & Grace

We even lost power for a while - not fun! Brr!

Met Grampa for dessert
Grampa had his gall bladded removed, so we didn't get to see as much of him. But he did meet us for dessert one day when we were in Harrisonburg!

Zoe & Grampa

Trip to Brightwood
While Mom had a much-needed spa day, the girls and I took a trip to Brightwood. We had a lot of fun seeing Aunt Peg, Uncle Len, Andy, Great Grampa, and Gram. The girls were worn out by all the attention!
Sleeping @ Brightwood

Trips out to eat

We had a fun day in Harrisonburg and even went to Red Lobster!
Red Lobster trip
We took a trip to Culpeper, and the girls went to Ledo Pizza for the first time (yum)!
Ledo Pizza!
Friday night at Which Wich
Friday night Which Wich trip

Lots of moving and rolling! 

The girls truly started to move around this month! Grace practiced her "crawl" (mostly, she went backward) and Zoe used the "rolling method" to get where she needed to go.




Sweet Zoe


Trip to meet the Easter Bunny

We went to see the Easter Bunny at the mall
Mall Girls
This picture was taken shortly before Grace burst into tears.
First visit with the Easter Bunny

First ride in the shopping cart
Grace took her first ride in the shopping cart. With Zoe in the Bjorn, it makes shopping much easier (than bringing along the double jogging stroller)!

First Easter
We celebrated Easter with family at Brightwood. It was a really nice day! The girls had fun dressing up.
Easter Girls

Easter Girls

Easter Grace
Easter Zoe
"Hats" courtesy of Uncle Andy
Silliness at Brightwood

Here are some of my other favorite photos. You can find all of the March photos0 here on flickr.

Big girl Grace
Sweet Grace
Sweet Grace
Happy Grace
Cheerful Grace
Silly Grace
Grace & Mom
Happy Grace
Mom & Grace

Silly Zoe
Happy Zoe
Lovely Zoe
Mom & Zoe
Sweet Zoe
Zoe face
Dear Zoe

Sweet Zoe
Sweet Zoe face
Happy Zoe