Sunday, December 29, 2013

Goodbye, High Chair.

Well, someone decided that she was too big for a high chair.  Apparently Evelyn wants a seat at the big kid table, because she climbed up in the big chairs and refused to sit in her high chair.  We still have a couple of booster seats strapped in for the big kids (very useful when they are eating something messy like cereal or soup), and she has taken a liking to these.  I guess we will be selling the old high chair soon.  I can't really say that I'm sad to see it go.  One less large piece of plastic in our house is a welcome change to me.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Evelyn's Dedication

Earlier in December, we finally had Evelyn dedicated.  It was a wonderful event to celebrate our baby (and about 10 other babies in our church) and focus on our family values.  Part of our homework before the dedication was to create a list of our family's top values.  These are things that we ask that our friends and family come alongside us in emphasizing with our children.  Admittedly, this time around was even more hectic than with Miles' and Vivienne's dedication, but we still took some time to talk it through, and here are our top five (in no particular order).

  • Vulnerability - I have been a huge fan of Brene Brown's writing on vulnerability and the human experience.  I hope that we are examples of how to be vulnerable with our children (apologizing when we make a mistake, admitting that we are not perfect, sharing our struggles and our strength, respecting one another, experiencing joy) and create an environment where the kids can feel safe being vulnerable and real and know that they are lovable no matter what.
  • Kindness - We want the kids to learn to be kind to one another and to others, to love other people like God loves us.
  • Generosity - We hope that our children will learn to be generous with their possessions, their time and their energy.  We haven't been great examples of this in the past few years because so much of our time and energy is pulled into having small children.  But as we create more margin in our lives, we hope to spend more time volunteering, especially as a family.
  • Integrity - We want all of our children to learn to have integrity, to be honest, to mean what they say, and to be known as people who are trustworthy.
  • Thankfulness - It seems so critical in life to be thankful for all the gifts and blessings that we receive every day... even the small things that go so easily unnoticed.  I know I have a much better attitude about life when I stop to thank God for everything I have and just marinate in the gratitude for a while.

 As a part of the dedication, we were also instructed to think of two habits we would like to practice.  For us, these were:
  • Quality family time, regular family meals, encouraging family discussions/interactions as part of the natural rhythm of our family
  • Prioritize our marriage and not let "us" become a background story to the kids
Evelyn with her Daddy at the dedication.  The lighting was terrible so it was hard to get a photo.

I'm so thankful for a church that encourages us to be intentional about our lives and our priorities.  I hope that we are able to focus on these things as a family, and that we reflect back on them frequently and reevaluate how to instill our children with the values that are important to us.

Friday, December 13, 2013


I know that I have mentioned this before, but Miles is obsessed with space shuttles.  But when I say obsessed, I mean that he is completely, head-over-heels in love with the space shuttle.  One of his favorite activities is to watch real space shuttle launch videos on YouTube over and over and over.  He will literally do this for hours on end until we tell him to turn it off.  While he watches the videos, he will hold his toy space shuttle and an airplane belly-to-belly (like the shuttle and the boosters), and move them along with the shuttle on the screen as they take off.  It's pretty stinkin' adorable.

If he's not being allowed to watch space shuttles on TV or the computer, then he's pulling out his stomp rocket in the foyer and launching it over and over and over again.  He loves to make it fly up and get stuck in the upstairs hall (our house has a very open layout, obviously).  Then he will run upstairs and throw it down (despite my requests to not throw it from the second floor) and resume his launching repeats. 

It will be interesting to see if he maintains his love for space shuttles and airplanes and rockets.  Right now, it's definitely safe to label it as an all-out obsession.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I'm Different.

On Sunday afternoon, Vivienne was sitting at the table with Jason.  Out of nowhere, she said, "I'm different."  Jason said, "You're different?  Who told you that?"  She explained to him that, "Jesus made us all different."

That was the first time I have heard her make a statement about Jesus besides something like "That's baby Jesus!" when reading a book.  It made me smile to hear my girl talking about Jesus on her own.  I know that they probably taught her that on Sunday morning at church, and it's really neat to see that it's soaking in and that she knows Jesus made her very special.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Singing Her Sister Goodnight

I took this picture a few nights ago.  Vivienne loves to help put Evelyn to bed and sing to her (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and sometimes a little Jingle Bells).  She says, "Goodnight, Baby Evewyn!"  She is an incredibly sweet, gentle big sister and she loves her Baby Evewyn dearly.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Evelyn FINALLY Walks!

It has been like pulling teeth to get Evelyn to try to walk.  She has been an avid crawler for quite some time now, but just seems to lack the motivation to walk, even though she has pretty good balance and strength.  It has been (and continues to be) a bit maddening, because we go to playgrounds almost every weekday, and it would be so nice for her to be able to walk across the mulch or mud instead of crawling through it (not to mention that she is wearing out the knees of all of her pants).

A couple weeks ago, we finally got her to take 5 or 6 consecutive steps without falling.  It was so fun to see her finally take some solid steps.  But in the past couple of weeks, she has probably done this less than 10 times, and every time she does it we have to coax it out of her.  She seems to consider it on her own every now and then, but then she just drops down to her knees and crawls to whatever she is after.  She seems to have figured out that crawling will get her there more quickly, and she seems more interested in efficiency than advancement (which isn't incredibly surprising).  She loves to walk behind things, but just still doesn't take initiative to try to walk on her own much.

So she can virtually quote Shakespeare and sing an opera (well, her language isn't THAT good yet), but she won't walk.  I guess everybody has to be bad at something.  :)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Potty Training

Potty training has been... well, unpleasant for all of us, I think.  Twins give you twice the love and fun, but also twice the opportunity for potty training accidents and twice as many pairs of pants and underwear to pull up and down and up and down.  They also give you twice as many diapers, though, so getting out of diapers was high on my "to do" list.

After quite a few months, we're virtually accident-free with pee.  That's incredible, because for a while there, I thought we would never arrive at this place.  Vivienne even went #2 in the big potty yesterday (which was the first time EVER)!  Whoohoo! 

Both kids love their little potty., but honestly that thing just grosses me out.  Pouring their business into the toilet to flush it and then cleaning out the little potty is not my favorite thing to do.  However, if that will give them enough of a thrill to use the potty, then I will gladly deal with it instead of dealing with their diapers.  But I'm glad to see that we're getting closer to more use of the regular toilet.  Maybe someday...

(I literally just heard, "Mommy, I need to go poopy!" from the top of the stairs.  I went up and she went again on the big potty!  Make that TWO times that we have poop in the big potty!)

Miles still insists on pooping in a diaper.  This is frustrating for me, but I think this is fairly common and the general consensus seems to be to not make a big deal out of it.  He should outgrow this eventually. 

So, we're getting there.  I have to say that potty training has not been fun, but I think we're past the hump. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Happy Halloween 2013!

Halloween this year was an absolute blast.  Evelyn wasn't too keen on it yet, but Miles and Vivienne were very aware of what was going to take place and they were ridiculously excited about it.  Leading up to Halloween, Miles decided that he wanted to be a space shuttle.  (He will literally watch about 45 minutes of real space shuttle launches on YouTube and then ask for more.  Can we say "obsessed"?)  I spend a few nights making Miles a homemade space shuttle costume, and I think it turned out great.  I even put the flag backwards on the right-hand side of it.  And it said "Miles" on the right wing where the names of the shuttles usually are (well, depending on which shuttle pain job you referece... on the Endeavor, for example).  While he refused to wear it at first, he quickly warmed up to it and absolutely fell in love with it.  I put it a lot of time into it, and it was so nice when people complemented me on it.  Quite a few people told me that they thought it was the best costume they had ever seen.  It made me so happy that it made him so happy.

Vivienne said that she wanted to be a princess, so I bought her a box of princess dress-up clothes on Craigslist for $10.  Of course, the day before Halloween, she watched a Dora Halloween special and was inspired to be a bee like Dora.  After chasing down a bee costume, she decided to stick with princess for the morning and Piglet (loaned from a friend) in the evening.  For her princess costume, I curled her hair and pinned it up (first time wearing hair pins) and put on a *tiny* bit of mascara and blush.  She looked adorable.

Halloween morning, our friend, Julia, had an amazing party at her neighborhood club house.  They had ghost bowling with pumpkins, a bean bag toss into a pumpkin and a costume parade, not to mention a ton of delicious Halloween treats and story time.  Julia is an amazing photographer and got a beautiful shot of me and my kids (a rare treat, seriously like a once-a-year treat).

 After the Halloween bash, we came home for naps.  Then I woke Miles up a little early (because Viv and Evelyn were ready to go) and we went to Jason's work to trick-or-treat at the cubicles.  The kids had a blast and loaded up on tons of candy.  They really liked being at Daddy's work, and they really liked the candy.

Then we came home and were greeted by Grandma, who is probably their favorite person in the world, so that made their day.  They played with her and showed her their costumes for a while before we headed over to Hippsley Manor (our new neighbors from Ireland) for a little pre-trick-or-treating fun.  For the evening events, Vivienne decided to dress up as Piglet (who is the same character as her precious lovey, Bea).

Then Jessica and Nathan came over to join us for the biggest event of the day - trick-or-treating.  Miles and Vivienne were absolutely delighted to run from house to house and get their treats.  Miles kept his space shuttle costume on the entire time, and he would run back from a house and show us his pumpkin and say, "Mommy, Mommy!  I got MORE candy!"

This photo is terribly out of focus, but you can see the joy in her face as she runs.

Eventually Evelyn tired out, so Jason brought her back home for some one-on-one time with Daddy and bedtime.  Miles, Vivienne, Jessica, Nathan and I made the round until about 7:45.  One of the last houses we went to had a really spooky voice and a guy that jumped out of the bushes, and that was about enough for Vivienne.  By the time we got home, the kids had probably walked about a mile (with Miles wearing his space shuttle nearly the entire time).  Their pumpkins were so full of candy that they asked us to help them carry them. 

Halloween this year was probably one of the most fun days that the kids have ever had.  It was a blast all day for them, and Miles woke up this morning and asked, "Can we go trick-or-treat again?"  Next year, buddy.  Next year.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Evelyn is 15 Months!

I just took Evelyn for her 15-month checkup yesterday.  I can't believe we're about to celebrate her second Halloween (but her first with an actual costume - fun!).  She's a pretty big baby.  Here are her stats:

  • Height:  31.75 (85%)
  • Weight:  23 lb. 4.5 oz (77%)
  • Head Circumference:  18.4 in (78%)
She has lots of words now.  These are the words that we're fairly certain she knows the definitions of (because she points to them and says them without prompting or us saying it first).

  • dog
  • bird
  • cat
  • fish
  • bear
  • duck (which she also uses for chickens, but she can't say "chicken" yet... poor chickens)
  • light
  • mama
  • dada
  • grandma
  • up
  • milk
  • pumpkin (though this sounds more like "punk")
  • bye bye
  • ball
  • book
  • shoes
  • grass
  • baby
  • purse
I'm sure there are some other words, but I haven't understood them yet (or I can't remember them now).

She loves to feed herself with a spoon or fork now.  She isn't coordinated enough to scoop things up well, unless it's something like applesauce and she can just kind of slop it up with a spoon.  If we load her spoon or fork for her, she eagerly puts it in her mouth (and she will often eat things that she will not eat without using the utensil - I think mainly because it has new novelty with the utensil).

She still doesn't show any signs of walking any time soon.  She has great balance and very strong legs, but just seems more comfortable crawling for now.  And that's just fine with us.

She is a very adventurous baby.  One of her favorite things to do is to go into the bathrooms and climb up on the step stools so that she can see herself in the mirror.  It's fun to watch her do this, but I also try to keep the doors shut because I am worried about her falling from the stool and hitting her head on the tile floor.  Evelyn also enjoys playing on large play structures, often climbing the biggest slides and sliding down them (usually on her belly).  She romps with her older siblings in the sand boxes and loves to swing and doesn't seem to notice that she is a baby.  (I will still call her "baby" until she is at least toddling.)

Her hair is pretty long now, hanging way down in her eyes.  She usually pulls out clips, so I'm resigned to putting her hair in a ponytail on top of her head.  It is super cute, but she sort of looks like she has a hair umbrella on her head.  She has 8 teeth that are all the way through, and I have no idea if there are any molars back in there because I never remember to check.

Evelyn loves to eat meat and beans and cheese.  She also likes almost any fruit, but she doesn't care for many vegetables these days.  We completely skipped purees, which was marvelous.  She went straight from breastfeeding to drinking out of a cup with a straw, so we completely skipped sippy cups with her as well.  Feeding her has been a piece of cake, and I'm thankful for that.

Evelyn is a super easy-going kid, and has been from the day she was born.  She is full of giggles and grins, and very rarely cries (usually only when someone has taken away her beloved bear or when she is hurt).  She is just full of joy and warmth, and I'm so glad that I get to be her mom. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Monkey Hear, Monkey Do

Evelyn has gotten very good at saying quite a few words.  Often, we will say a new word only a few times, and she will correctly say it back to us.  It's unclear whether she realizes what all these words mean, but I think she has the right object-word association on most of these words and can say them:

  • duck
  • truck
  • light
  • mama
  • dada
  • bear (her lovey)
  • book
  • bye bye
  • dog
She also has what almost sounds like "milk" and maybe "water" consistently, but we're not ready to call those yet.  When she says "duck" and "truck", she even pronounces the "ck" sound on the end.  I'm fairly certain that when Miles and Viv were her age, they would mostly just say "du" instead of "duck."  Evelyn definitely seems to be picking up language faster.  However, she seems to have no interest in walking (though she does walk behind walking toys very enthusiastically and has excellent balance).  We make very little effort to encourage her to walk, but I think it will be fun when she eventually picks it up and starts toddling around the house.

Friday, October 4, 2013

First Salon Haircut

A couple weeks ago, we decided to let the kids have their first salon haircut experience.  Miles hair continues to be a challenge for me (even though I have cut Jason's hair for over 5 years now... he has not been to a salon once in at least five years).  So I thought I would leave it to the professionals.  The kids were both really excited to sit in the big chairs.

And Miles looked ridiculously cute with the smock over him.

The hair dresser did a great job with Miles' hair, and I asked her a few things to help me with the next cut.

I have no idea what was happening here.  I guess Viv was making faces in the mirror?

And Evelyn seemed a little sad that she wasn't joining in on the fun.

We were going to have the lady pretend "cut" Vivienne's hair so that she wouldn't feel left out, but we decided to go ahead and let her have a real haircut, too.  She was tickled pink.

Oh my goodness, this was just cuteness overload.

Seriously, this post is becoming a Fantastic Sam's commercial, isn't it?  We left with two very happy kids with lollipops to boot.

TotFusion Yoga

Miles and Vivienne have been taking a class called TotFusion on Fridays.  It's a kind of yoga class for preschoolers, but also includes music and books.  Miles and Vivienne really enjoy it, and it gives me a wonderful opportunity to take Evelyn for a run in the stroller and get some fresh air.  Today we did just over 3 miles while the kids were in their class.  Last week during our TotFusion jog, we saw a bald eagle (the first one I have ever seen in the wild), and it was the highlight of my day.

Here is a photo of Viv in savasana.  She's one cute little leaf, if I do say so myself.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Apple Orchard

A few weeks ago, our preschool co-op did a week on seeds.  The kids had a cantaloupe and an apple for their snack, and we saved the seeds to put in plastic bags.  We took the plastic bags home and taped them to our windows so that the kids could see how the seeds would use the sunshine and water to sprout.  They loved it.  Our field trip that week was apple picking at a nearby orchard.  The kids had a great time picking apples, and then we all enjoyed a picnic lunch on the porch of the little apple shop.

I love how Evelyn is munching away at an apple in this photo.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Evelyn's First Night Away (Kid Free Evening!)

A couple days ago, it was Jason's birthday.  To give us a child-free night out, my parents had all three kids spend the night at their new home.  Grandma and Grandad have bought a new home and moved out of their rental house.  It's only about 15 minutes from us, and the kids are very excited about "Grandma's new house."  Miles and Vivienne have spent the night in my parents' rental home, but not in the new house yet.  And Evelyn had never spent the night away from us.  But now Evelyn is weaned and very, very consistently sleeping through the night, so we figured she would be just fine.

Their night at Grandma and Grandad's went very well.  The big kids slept in a big bed together for the first time (a queen-sized bed instead of the twin beds we have at home), which I think is just adorable.  And Evelyn slept all night in her pack n play without a peep. 

Jason and I celebrated his birthday by going for a run together (which we never get to do).  After that, we checked out a new (to us) restaurant, Dalat.  It's a Vietnamese hole-in-the-wall in Raleigh and it is very good.  I found a dish there that I loved from a restaurant in Alhambra (Los Angeles) that I haven't had in a very long time.  Jason enjoyed a Thai tea with boba (which I only took 2 sips of, which required a great deal of restraint, let me tell you). 

Jason's birthday gift this year was registration for us both to the Tobacco Road Half Marathon in March.  I'm looking forward to running another half marathon, because I haven't done that since we lived in California (7 years ago - how did that much time pass???).  We'll see how fast I can run a post-baby (or post-three-babies?) half marathon.

It was awesome to "sleep in" (aka get up at 7 am) and relax in the morning.  The kids absolutely loved their night at Grandma's, of course, and didn't want to leave.  It was a win-win for everybody, except for maybe Grandma and Grandad who probably needed a good nap the next day!

Thanks for a baby-free night, Mom and Dad!  And happy birthday to my sweet, hard-working husband!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Weaning Evelyn

Evelyn is now weaned.  She probably stopped nursing completely about 4 weeks ago.  It has been a long, slow taper, and she was clearly losing interest.  If it had been up to me, she would have nursed for a lot longer, but that's not the way it worked out.  She may be my last baby, so it is sad to think that I may not nurse again.  It's such an intensely intimate and magical thing, and I definitely miss it.  But it also comes with a new freedom that is welcome.  I kind of feel like I have been nursing or pregnant for about 4 years now, so it's nice to have a little more independence.  Maybe Jason and I will have to get away for a weekend sometime soon - finally!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Potty Training Miles

Well, we're getting there.  Miles and Vivienne are doing much better with the potty training.  Vivienne took to it first, and then Miles followed a month or so after.  We still use diapers or pull-ups for naps and at night, but our days are in "big kid underwear".  The kids are doing pretty well using the potty, but we definitely still have accidents.  Some days they do great and then other days it just feels like I'm cleaning urine off of the carpets and furniture all day, which is exhausting and frustrating.  I would say the kids use the potty about 80% of the time.  We're getting there slowly but surely. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Space Shuttles

Miles and Vivienne (especially Miles) have found a new favorite show:  watching the space shuttle launch over and over and over on YouTube.  I have to say that the aerospace engineer inside me thinks this is pretty darn nifty.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Screened Porch

Jason and I have wanted a screened porch since we started looking for a house to buy in Cary in 2008.  This year, we finally bit the bullet and built it.  This was quite a decision for us, because we are usually very frugal (like making our own detergent frugal and cloth diapering three kids frugal and saving my egg boiling water to dump on my plants after it cools frugal).  But we are so, so glad we did it.  It's a beautiful addition to our home, and we are finding ourselves living out there.  I don't think we have eaten a single meal inside our house since the porch was finished.  It is also the preferred location for the kids to play and for our craft time.  This space is probably going to be the most used space in our home besides our kitchen.

Our first meal on the porch was without Daddy, because he was in San Jose for work (have I mentioned that he has a new job?). 

Monday, September 16, 2013


Evelyn is starting to use words more often.  She still is mostly babbling and chattering away in her baby gibberish, but she occasionally will give a reasonably clear "mama", "dada", "grandad", or "dog."  I'm also pretty sure that she has a word for "bird" but I haven't heard her say "bird" clearly yet.

She is recently much more interested in waving and she loves to "twinkle her stars" (open and close her hands) when we sing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" (or any other song, for that matter).  It's pretty stinkin' adorable.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Goodbye, Summer 2013!

We just got back from our last trip to Holden Beach this summer.  This time, Grandma and Grandad came along with us, and we had a blast.  Miles and Vivienne seem to love the beach more and more as they get older, and Evelyn also seems to enjoy the sand and surf (though for not quite as long as her older siblings).

As soon as we arrived, we headed for the sand.  The kids were eager to dig in their toes.  Evelyn had a blast, crawling all over the beach, plopping her hands in the sand and water, stopping occasionally to hand me a sea shell and then crawling some more.  She covered quite a bit of ground that first day.

And because we didn't get a single photo of me on the last trip, Jason took this one.  It proves that I do indeed participate in my family's vacations.

Evelyn was looking just darling in her beautiful swimsuit from Grandma. 

Grandad brought along some binoculars for the kids to use, and they were completely enamored with them.  They didn't part with their "noculars" for quite a while, even insisting that they sleep with them on their bedside table.

Daddy got down to business with the shovel and dug out three islands for the kids, complete with a trench that opened it up to the waves.  They were very much stuck in a "destruction" mode, however, so we didn't get too elaborate with the sand creations this time.  Next time, I think a proper castle is probably in order.

Miles was most often seen with sand flying in the air (preferably away from by-standers, though this was not always the case, much to my dismay).  You will notice in the shot below that you can see the sand flying off the scoop.

And Evelyn did plenty of her own sand slinging.  She also tasted quite a bit of sand.  Nothing says "comfort" like a sandy thumb.  Yuck.

We also took the ferry across to the Fort Fisher Aquarium.  It's a nice little aquarium that is perfect for young kids with small attention spans.  Also, our membership there gets us into the zoo for free as well - a great deal for us.  On the boat ride home, we also fed the birds off the back of the ferry - always a hit.

Evelyn decided that she wanted to keep Grandad's Boeing baseball cap.  I have to say that it probably looks a little better on her (no offense, Dad).

One evening after a long day of beach play, Miles and Jason stayed out on the beach for about an extra hour.  Miles loved tossing the frisbee back and forth with Daddy, and then he said that he wanted to sit out in the water.  And so they did.

We were lucky enough to see the volunteers close out a sea turtle nest, so the kids experienced this yet again.  They aren't even 4 years old and they have seen tons of sea turtles making their way out into the big blue.  (You can see the roped off sections in the background below as we waited for the turtles to start their big adventure.)

This is our attempt at a family photo.  You will notice that you cannot actually see the faces of any of our children.

Daddy also dug some very deep holes for the kids to play in. 

On this trip, we discovered a new fun activity - boogie boarding! 

Who would have known that a 3-year-old would like to boogie board, but Miles really got into it.  Jason would set him up on the board and push him in front of a wave, and Miles would ride the wave to the sand (only 10 feet or so, but I was still impressed).  He loved it.  He kept saying,"Again!  Again!"

They also loved it when we pulled them along the surf on their boards.  Vivienne would try this out, but she was too nervous to try the solo boarding on the waves on this trip.  Maybe next time.

We took one afternoon to go to Calabash for some awesome southern fried seafood.  Captain Nance's never disappoints.  Afterward, we stopped at St. Nick Nacks, a gift and Christmas shop.  The kids were completely in awe of the Christmas wonder that awaited us inside.  They kept saying, "It's so beautiful!" and "Look!  Look!"  Luckily they have no concept of just how far away Christmas really is.

We also enjoyed plenty of sweet treats on this trip.  Miles and Vivienne devoured (and painted themselves with) countless ice cream cones.

And I close with another family photo with only one child screaming and the other two protesting the picture a little more quietly.  Hey, we're all in the same frame.  I'll take it.

Goodbye, summer 2013!  Now on to pumpkins and turkeys and trees!