One Year Ago, Today

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One year ago today, I thought my twin pregnancy was finally getting easier — or, at least, manageable! My nausea had subsided, I was getting off the couch for longer periods, and I was celebrating the news our twins were boys.

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One year ago today, we had not officially decided the names of our boys. We had settled on Noah Ryan for our Baby A, but we were still deciding Baby B.

One year ago today, I had my first appointment with the maternal fetal specialist, an appointment I wasn’t really prepared for, an appointment I went to alone because I was told “not to worry,” and that it was “no big deal.”

One year ago today, Rust was out of town traveling for a few nights.

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One year ago today, I ended up being at the maternal fetal specialist appointment for three hours while they had a long anatomical ultrasound for both boys. The ultrasound tech spent forever looking at Baby B, and as I watched her spend so much time measuring him, my heart cried out, “Something’s wrong with Grayson!” and I knew that was his name.

One year ago today, my maternal fetal specialist very gently told me about Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome, how our boys were showing signs, and how I would need to go to Cincinnati for further evaluation while I cried.

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One year ago today, I drove around after my appointment, crying, calling Rust, not even sure where I was driving, coming home to sweet joyful girls, not sure what to think.

One year ago today, Rust cried on the phone with me, prayed for me, and later texted me James 5:11, “As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”

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One year ago today began the long second-half of my pregnancy, full of ups & downs, tears and hope, unknowns and new friends, hospital visits, long worrisome nights, wrestling with faith & hard questions, travels & bedrest, finally culminating in our baby boys’ early births & NICU stay, then home home home where — one year later — life is FINALLY seeming “normal”.

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One year later, our family is so much closer because of what we have gone through.

One year later, I get to spend my day with five joyful souls who are loud, cheery, and brimming with life.

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One year later, our life is still chaotic & unpredictable, but this time I have two almost-mobile, almost-sleeping-through-the-night boys to thank for that — not constant doctor appointments, hospital visits, or fear of the future.

One year later, I watched yesterday at an allergist appointment as Grayson gave open-mouthed slobbery kisses to the nurse who was holding him, while Noah gave me an open-mouthed slobbery kiss as the doctor was trying to talk to me, and I thought, “I love these kids.”

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One year later, I have the honor to take my boys to their nine-month check-up this afternoon, and as much as it is a lot of work, I am joyful that I get to do it.

One year later, I am a changed woman, who the past year saw God love us, and love us, and love us again through our family, friends, church community, and beyond.

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One year later, I am more in awe of Him & the way He works — how He unites the horrible, hard, and scary and somehow outlines it in beauty, shades it with goodness, and uses it to amplify His grace and love.

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A Longing for God Minibook

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This minibook is very dear to my heart. I completed this minibook over a year ago, and it is still one of my favorites. I love using minibooks to not only record special times in my life, special  days, or seasons, but also as a “house” for  verses & spiritual encouragement.

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This idea for this minibook was prompted by two quotes from my favorite book on homeschooling, Educating the WholeHearted Child by Clay & Sally Clarkson. These quotes stirred my heart as a mother who spends all day with her children…

“…your first responsibility as a parent is to lead your children to the life-giving presence and reality of Christ in your heart and home. Your desire should be to implant a longing in their spirits for God that can be satisfied only with the water and bread of life in Christ. No matter how good your church may be, a few hours each week cannot create the longing for Christ that God has uniquely designed you to impart to your children. You are to be the primary life-giving presence of Christ to your children, through his Spirit living and working in your life as a Christian parent and through his Word, just as Christ imparted life to those who came into contact with him: ‘The words I have spoken to your are spirit and are life.’”

And —

“Your children are asking you to give them a taste of real spiritual life-the same life of the Spirit that they see at work in your own heart. They want to learn from you not just how to live for Christ, but also how they can have the life of Christ they see in you in your own lives.”

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What could I pray over my children that would help “implant a longing in their spirits for God” as the book said? I spent months pondering that question & collecting my favorite verses that have, in my own spiritual path, breathed Life into my spirit & helped me hunger for the presence of God. These verses are beautiful, powerful, comforting, & challenging to me.

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I combined it with my favorite pictures I had taken over the course of the girls’ lives. (When I finished this, I had not yet discovered I was expecting our twin boys!–but I sure want to make them a minibook like this, too!)

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Cherished photos & cherished verses… my favorite combination.

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The mint + gold + gray color combination is also one of my favorites!

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Valentine’s Decorations

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Other than some chalkboard verses hanging on the wall, we have never decorated for Valentine’s Day. This year, though, my oldest (she’s 6 1/2) wanted a few decorations.

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So I pulled out a simple paper + doily banner from a few years ago, some lovely Valentine’s artwork our favorite babysitter made with the girls last year…

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…and wrote out one of my favorite phrases from one of our favorite children’s Bible, the Jesus Storybook Bible…

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We’ve been reading the book of Matthew from The Message & stories from The Jesus Storybook Bible during our lunch — it has become a great time to slow down, listen, and chat over what we’ve read.

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Annalou was pretty satisfied with our very simple Vday display!

 

A repost: Vday Chalk + Thoughts

Last year’s Valentine’s Day, I was in the grip of twin pregnancy nausea, and my own memory of Vday is only that a sweet friend who watched the girls for me helped them each make a sweet Valentine’s Day surprise for me, which is already on display this year! : )

This is a repost from two years ago. Rereading this post was what I needed to give me that push to brainstorm & plan celebrating Valentine’s Day with the girls this year. I am still working out what we will do for that day, but reading this gave me a great place to start!

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Rust & I have never gone crazy over Valentine’s Day for various reasons. We’ve never done anything fancy, and the first Valentine’s after we had gotten engaged, we began the tradition of just staying in & enjoying take-out pizza. In a sense, we kind of “skip” Valentine’s Day every year. The day is just not a big deal. Yet this year was the first year I awakened to the fact that even if I don’t feel like I need an over-commercialized day to be a time for me to be validated & affirmed that I am loved & remembered, I have three little hearts who are constantly looking to be filled up with love & delight. I have three very big, very precious love tanks in need of filling! And while Rust & I seek to do this daily, through our care & nurture of our little girls, why not GO BIG on Valentine’s Day? Especially since Anna was brimming with excitement over pink & hearts & little cards & sweets?

So, my goals for this Valentine’s Day became:

  • Share with them God’s deep, incredible, steadfast, overflowing love for them.
  • Share with them that we treasure, love, and delight in them, because they are our precious daughters and because God gave them to us.
  • Help them see that they have so much love to give to those around them, and that we can love freely, because God freely loves us; and that by loving others, we not only impart God’s love, but we also express our love for God.

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So we made pink cupcakes with red sprinkles for ourselves & for friends and family. We cut out hearts & colored them for others & delivered them around our neighborhood. We had a pj day because the girls love their jammies. We talked about verses from the Bible of God’s amazing love (on the chalkboard above). We appreciated the sweet Valentine’s cards & treats & gifts from friends & family. Rust surprised the girls with heart balloons (Anna’s favorite!). And we followed an inspiring mom‘s example and did a little experiment to illustrate God’s love pouring over us. (She has other great ideas I can’t wait to try in the years to come!) (She is one of my favorite bloggers!!)

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I’m so thankful my girls’ infectious excitement helped change my ho-hum attitude about Valentine’s Day. I’m thankful they spent the day in eager anticipation for what was next. I overheard Anna say to Noelle, “I just LOVE Valentine’s Day!” I do, too, now, little girl, thanks to you!

Documenting Your Love Story with Minibooks

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Two years ago I shared four ways to document your love story with minibooks. Looking through these again reminded me a) it’s probably time to do a Love Letters Vol. II and b) I love Rust-&-me-centered minibooks! We’re so covered up with kids now we hardly get any pictures of just us! ; )

Here are the posts if you want inspiration on documenting your own love story!

Let Me Count the Ways Minibook

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Love Letters

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30 Reasons I Love You

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5 Years Anniversary Mini

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Cupcake Liner Award Badges

Cupcake Liner Badges

Last week the girls and I made a simple little craft — cupcake liner badges! Fun + festive. They’ve been playing giving each other imaginary awards for all sorts of non-existent contests: the waffle contest (who eats their waffles the fastest), the sock contest (who puts on their socks the fastest), etc., etc.  They would take play coins and tape them to themselves — which is fun & imaginative! But I thought we could try our hand at award badges so they could have something more “real” to use.

Here’s what my Pinterest feed looked like for a few days while I gathered ideas — so much inspiration!

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I only used what cupcake liners I had. Polka dotted & striped liners would have been beautiful! But this is all we had so we made it work. : )

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We just flipped the cupcake liners inside out, layered them, then the top layers because all my liners were the same size. Then the girls added a spot of glue between each layer. I helped cut out cardstock paper for the tails, and then remembered I had a bag of scrap ribbons for the last one. Then we added a heart or flower or circle on the top. Simple!

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(Does anyone else let their kids wear pj’s straight through the month of January??)

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I then taped part of a large safety pin to the back so we could pin them to their clothes.

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Three Valentine’s Minibooks

Valentine’s Day is drawing closer! I remembered I had these three little mini’s that I made up during the summer: they are perfect for a little gift to your loved one!

These are different from any other minibooks I’ve offered in that most pages in the kits already come with simple embellishments: all you need to add are your photos (3×3 or 2×2 Instagram photos would be perfect!) + words + anything else to ‘finish’ the pages!

You & Me Mini $10.00

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Love Notes Mini $10.00

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The Story Mini $10.00

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Secret Watercolor Messages for Your Kids

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With a house full of little ones, and monotonous gray January days, I have tried to find simple, fun activities for me & the crew to do. We are in the midst of a watercolor craze over here, and I wanted to give my oldest — who is a bit of a reluctant reader — a fun way to practice reading. We have done this for several days, and it still hasn’t gotten old!

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This is simple + fun! All you need is: paper (I have used both watercolor paper & mixed media paper), a white crayon, watercolors (+ brush & water cup), and an eager little painter. : )

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Write your message in white crayon on your paper. I have written mostly sweet notes.

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I have also hidden a special treat somewhere in the house and written its location on the paper. Then I told them they must paint the paper & read the secret message to find their treat.

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(Anna read Noelle’s for her. Noelle’s my little crafter/painter/artist girl, so she couldn’t bear to pass up a chance to paint something!)

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Anna’s 2nd Year Mini

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Another quick minibook project with minimal embellishments, so the pictures do the talkin’! These feature the 4×4 black & white photos I displayed at Anna’s second birthday party. I LOVE black & white photos! I wanted the emphasis to be on them, so I chose a black & white color line, Dusk/Dawn — another old collection from My Mind’s Eye.

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Again, you may notice my style: really simple! Extra paper + labels + photos + words. This mini is 6×6-inches with 4×4-inch photos. Somewhere between Anna’s party and when I did this minibook (four years later), her 14th & 15th month photos went missing. Oh well!

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Anna’s First Year Minibook

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I love these! At each of the girls’ first (and second) birthdays, I loved displaying their photos month-by-month. But what to do after the party with these special photos? I turned them into simple minibooks. Here are Noelle’s & Cate’s.

And here’s little Annalou’s… all that was needed was a little extra paper + labels + some stickers thrown in.  It’s a nice, simple overview of her first year with minimal journaling.

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Something like this is very simple to put together and very satisfying because it is quick to complete!

first year 2What do you do with pictures you’ve printed for parties?