Tuesday, January 27, 2015

winter fun


No words necessary.

Happy winter everyone.
- Bethany :)

Friday, January 23, 2015

Children.

Thursday is TV night.

A younger-than-me friend comes over on Thursdays and we usually watch a couple of shows, always ending with my personal favorite, Parenthood.

Last night, though, was a night I won't soon forget and it had nothing to do with what was on the screen.

About halfway through our first show, I heard what I thought was a whine.

But then nothing.

A few minutes later, I heard a slight cry.

As I paused the TV to go check on which kid was upset, slight cries turned into a big ol' shriek, coming unmistakably from Lola.

I figured it was a nightmare and kind of rushed in to hopefully help her out before she woke up her little sister.

I opened the door to the girls' room and immediately I knew, "Oh, Millie must have filled her pants." One of those unmistakable smells of toddlerhood.

Except...

Except...

Lola was crying?

I flipped on the light switch, prepared for a diaper change.

I was not prepared for what was everywhere.

On everything.

On everyone.

Yeah, so apparently, her nighttime pullup was not, um, put on correctly.

I basically turned around and walked right out, laughing so hard I could barely manage to holler for Ray to come help.

Within moments, we got the bath going and the girls got washed while my TV night quickly turned into several-loads-of-laundry night.

Meanwhile, my friend, who patiently waited for us to finish disinfecting children and bedroom materials, said, That confirmed it; she's never having children.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

connecting the dots

We wrapped one of Lola's Christmas gifts in a decorative box filled with hundreds of coins. I don't remember why exactly -- I think to make it jingle when she shook it -- but it was a big hit.

The problem came when Millie opened her most treasured gift, a set of pretend cookware featuring all things Minnie Mouse. For whatever reason, Millie thought these coins would make a great substitute for water and food and she spends lengths of times moving the coins from her cooking pot to the strainer, scooping them up with a ladle or measuring cups and stirring them around with the whisk.

So they have kind of become Millie's "toy" -- and while we've talked a few times about us probably replacing the real money with a fake version, she just really likes the weight and jingling sounds.

The other day, we were in the kitchen; I was cooking while Millie was playing with her own kitchen set.



Now, look a bit carefully at that third picture and you will see the design of the toys, pink with white polka dots.

She started hollering for us to look at what she had done...

She took her coins and placed them perfectly atop all of those white dots.



She was so pleased with herself.

What a cutie-pie.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

questions...

I started this new thing at the dinner table a week or so ago.

We were all sitting around excitedly talking about Disney and every now and then you could tell that Millie was trying to inject her opinion too, but she is very easily overshadowed -- and out-talked -- by her very spirited older sister. It's not that Lola isn't a considerate older sister -- she is, the best! -- but the kid can talk. And talk, and talk, and talk...

So I silenced that one (momentarily) started asking Millie some questions.

Do you want to go on rides? Or meet Princesses?
Rides.

Do you want to go on fast rides or slow rides?
Slow rides.

Do you want to go on scary rides or happy rides?
Happy rides.

Do you want to meet Elsa or Ariel?
Elsa.
And Ariel.
And Anna.
And Rapunzel.

Do you want to meet Mickey Mouse or Elsa?
Mickey.
And Elsa.

Do you want to give Mickey a hug?
Yes.
And a kiss.

Do you want to go on rides with Mommy or Daddy?
Lola.

Do you want to go on rides or go swimming?
(Tough one, lots of hemming and hawing on this one. The kid loves water.)
Rides.
And then go swimming.
With Mickey.
Go swimming with Mickey.
(Somehow, a few weeks ago, her dear  sister gave Millie the impression that Mickey is physically in the pool with the kids, so they all swim together... We're working on this one.)

Do you want to go on a flying ride or a boat ride?
Boat ride.
(Good thing because Mommy forgot she wasn't tall enough yet for Soarin'.)


This went on for a while, as you can see. And it was super awesome to watch her not only get excited about the trip, but as she got even more worked up, she was signing less and talking more. Signing is too slow, you see, and she knows that. So this is great for her. And us.

This has now become our nightly dinner conversation, a Disney version of Would You Rather.

Millie always gets to answer first, to work on talking of course. But then Lola gets to chat away for a while about her answer(s) too. And sometimes they bicker about it, in their own special little language. It's cute.

You can tell everyone seems pretty dang excited and is getting more excited with each day.

It's funny, each night, we put the kids to bed and inevitably Lola runs back out 10 minutes later to remind me we forgot to X out the day on their countdown calendar. (I swear she's afraid that she'll have to repeat that day if we forget to mark it as done.)

But it's getting so much closer!

Just a while longer kiddos, just a little bit longer...

Monday, January 19, 2015

my weekend

My top five moments of the weekend.

5. Each day. Cuddles. The girls were so cuddly this weekend. More than once every day, I'd take a brief rest on the couch and Millie would crawl up right next to me, resting against my right side while Lola would hop up onto my left. The dog, of course, claimed my lap and the four of us would just snuggle in together for a few minutes of quiet.

4. Saturday morning. Lola spends an hour (or two) trying on and modeling each and every single outfit possibility for Florida. She was so serious every time we had to consider two or three choices that had to be whittled down to one. She was very helpful, both at deciding what goes and what stays, and also retrieving things every time I needed help. And she was so excited, telling me which outfits were for each Disney park. It was cute. Now we just need the weather cooperate!

3. Saturday afternoon into the evening, the girls spend the whole day in their swimsuits. After unearthing them for packing, Millie (who loves all things swimming) freaks out and insists on wearing hers. Lola, of course, follows suit (ha, pun intended, sorry, English geek) and the two spend all day in their swimwear, running around indoors as we get a new batch of fresh snow.

2. Sunday afternoon. After two days of fake-packing and trying to weed out the unnecessaries, the final weigh-in for the one big bag came in 2.8 pounds under my weight limit. I have a few more things to add and move around between bags, but at least I know I'm in the ballpark...

1. Friday afternoon. As I was picking up the kids from daycare, just about to start the weekend, their teacher stopped and asked me, "Is this yours?" before handing me my external hard drive. The drive, which unbeknownst to her had been missing for two weeks, prompting several tears and at least one breakdown, was suddenly back in my hands. It is the only file I have of all of our family photos, from 2007 to present, not to mention several imporant docments (not like legal, those are all safely preserved elsewhere, but important-to-Bethany files, like master addresses, medical histories, and the like). Just having it back was awesome, but it got the weekend off to a super-great start and it carried through the days to come.

And now it's Monday. One more day closer to vacation...

Thursday, January 15, 2015

my new toy

I blame Disney. Ha, no, not really, but my newfound interest in all things craft-y started with Disney.

Scrapbooking started for me as something that my mother-in-law and I could do together, when we would gather together. The Rays would sit and talk, watch sports or some random TV show, and she and I could go scrapbook a little bit, usually just a few pages at a time. We probably spent more time talking then cutting, but it was something we could bond over together. If I remember correctly, it started with our trip to South Dakota. Together, she and I made a book recapping our adventures. We always had a good time together and I got to learn all sorts of things I never knew I didn't know.

And then we went to Disney.

It was always a given that we'd make a scrapbook afterward. She and I tried to work on it. But, now that Lola was older and we had Millie, and we only had a day or two together at most, it was a long, slow process.

Eventually, she was kind enough to send home with me some papers and cutters so I could finish it up.

This was more than a bit daunting. I mean, I can trim photos and tape them to a page, stick on some stickers and call it good. But Jean was the one who made all the colors match and work together. Yes, I was learning (slowly) but she taught me how to not just pick pretty designs but to pick the papers that made the photos pop. And now I was supposed to do that on my own.

(It is a bit like dressing myself. Ha. I can get myself presentable enough most days, but for any kind of special occasion, I need my mommy to steer me into the right direction and put the whole look together.)

So at home, I stared at all of these supplies and, eventually, decided to give it a go.

And that is when things changed. Just working at home, in my own timeframe, in my own space, I kind of let it all go and figured, How badly could I really screw this up? Sure, the colors weren't always perfect, but I was doing it, and the more I did it, the more I liked it.

As life happens, I collected more and more supplies and eventually, sadly, finished that Disney book.

About three seconds later, I decided I was going to embrace this whole scrapbooking thing and go back and do our lives, from the time Ray and I met to present. (I am very far from finished, but I've gotten a good chunk of it started.)

The more I scrapbooked, the more I tried some new things. I tried making a few cards and after spending a little bit more every month on more stickers and letters and embellishments, I somehow managed to convince my husband to buy me a used Cricut Mini, a cutting machine that cuts various letters and shapes, as you purchase the various cartridges or online images. I loved my Mini. I did. But after a while, I got a wee bit frustrated because it wasn't super duper precise. And it wasn't really doing exactly everything I wanted.

Meanwhile, Ray and I decided we should go back to Disney.

And because I'm a dweeb, I almost immediately began planning ways to make more Disney shirts for the girls.

Remember when I did these the first go-round?

Yeah, I wanted to do something like that, but different. And as my ideas got more involved, we began scoping out online sites where you can design and order your own shirts.

But Ray never really pulled the trigger on it, and on Christmas, I learned why. He got me a brand-new Cricut for Christmas (thanks Babe!). The Cricut Explore.

And since then my whole scrapbooking thing has been placed on the sidelines as I discovered the endless possibilities of vinyl and iron-ons. I made a bumper sticker and I made several personalized shirts for the girls, as I learned more about the machine and how to make things come together.




I am far -- very, very far -- from being super good at this or anything (seriously, just Google or pinterest Explore creations and you'll laugh at mine) but I'm having a lot of fun.

This week, I finally felt confident enough to focus on the Disney shirts.

And I could not be happier with how they turned out.

Ray, too, likes them and is happy that I'm happy.

But I'm sure, if he's honest, he'd probably think it would have been a lot cheaper to just order the dang shirts online, haha.

February cannot come soon enough...
- Bethany

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

the great whale debate

After the girls got bunkbeds, we moved Millie from her under-the-sea-inspired nursery into the girls' room.

I, eventually, then converted her old room into a crafting room, but that didn't last too long before I (we) moved the guest room upstairs and the craft room downstairs. Which, really, is a much better fit for all involved. Now, when we have guests, I really only half to clean half the house, because they stay upstairs with us. Win-win!

I never truly got transformed the room as much as we just swapped out furniture, but it seemed to work OK.


Well, about two weeks ago, after several months (really, years) of discussion, Ray and I committed to purchasing a new bed. We both have some back issues and neither of us has been sleeping well.

It was time.

And we knew that if, and when, we made that leap, that would prompt the repainting and design of the "guest room."

But we kept getting tangled up in the debate of the whale.

Yes, the big whale debate.

I love the whale mural. I'm not sure what specific reason there is. Maybe it's because it's simply beautifully done. Maybe it's because I feel like I helped Ray get it just perfect, as he got stuck a little bit on the shading for a while. Maybe it's because it's a mommy and baby whale. Maybe it's because it's whales, underwater, who communicate in ways beyond speech. Probably, it's a combination of all of these.

But I did not want to let the whales go while Ray believed we should get rid of the whales, when we painted over the other murals, as we would paint it a traditional (boring) khaki or cream, a more grown-up.

So then I suggested we create a fabric wall. I dunno, I saw something on HGTV I think, when you use curtain rods and hang curtain-y sheets or big pieces of fabric of some kind across the walls. This way, the whales would be out of sight, but I could still open the drapes and see them any time I wished.

I think Ray thought this sounded like a lot of ridiculous work (and expense) so he said we should just keep the whales and paint over the rest of the murals. And I was OK with that. I even got out the power-sander myself, sanded them down and got a coat of primer on there, before my parents came up and Dave finished painting the walls for me (and fixed the stroller and the downstairs sink and...) Yes, I'm spoiled. I happily admit that.

Anyhow, I did have to spackle and paint some more, we got the new "whale room" all finished. We ended up getting rid of the old (very old) guest queen bed and replaced it with our older, but not as old, current king-sized bed, which is being replaced with our new bed.


I'm not 100 percent sure the colors all jive. But it was all free. This was all bedding and stuff I've had, I just wasn't using.

The only issue wsa the not-white, but off-gray wierd color bookshelf. It didn't match anything at all. I tried to paint it white but couldn't find the right white in my house, so instead, I just painted the top the same light blue as the walls. I think it works?

I might still need some decor in there. But for now, it's rather perfect.

But not nearly as perfect as "my" room.

My room was a disaster. Seriously.


I don't really hang kids' pictures on our fridge or anything -- it looks so cluttered -- so the girls several years ago began giving them to Ray to hang on "his" wall. And it was cute. For a while. Until it went from three and four pictures to thirty.

Between that and the whole mess of the black table next to the TV that is a hodgepodge of electrical cords and boxes that don't fit, I was ready to just de-clutter and clean the whole room.

Ray created another of his perfect shadow boxes for holding the cable box, DVD player, Wii, etc., which allowed us to put the table elsewhere.

Take down yet save the kids' drawings, add in some fresh touch-upped paint and, of course, the new fancy-pants bed and everything now is just ... perfect.

It's so much better.

And, most importantly, Ray slept better than he has in months last night.

So worth it. 
- Bethany

Thursday, January 8, 2015

speechless?

Aye uh i er! Aye go ah-ee!

Got that?!

No, probably not.

But let me translate for you.

"I'm a big girl! I go potty!"

Seven words. In a row. Holy crap.

I can't begin to tell you the pride she felt.

Not when she said it. No, when she said it, she was cautious, very deliberate, a little anxious maybe.

But then, when I repeated it back to her, all translated, she erupted.

All smiles, so very proud.

So happy to be understood.

She is good at mimicking sounds, inflections. She isn't saying words as much as she's making sounds.

But she is doing amazing.


I know it can be hard to understand in writing. Here's a (very short) video that shows some of the ways she communicates: through signs, gestures, cute little eye-raises (those are my favorite), and words (or approximations).


We love her to pieces; we are so very proud of her.

Friday, January 2, 2015

2015 - new beginnings

The girls fought at dinner last night.

Not a real fight: It was a play one, a pretend one, a game-like one.

Millie was pretending to be mad at Lola, as they sat side-by-side on their bench at the table.

She crossed her arms and squawked at Lola, making some sort of indeterminate noise, but one that was clearly intended to express displeasure.

Lola repeated it right back at her, the same silly-angry noise, as she set her hands at her hips.

And for the next two or three minutes, the girls eyeballed each other, making mad-ish sounds at one another, their faces slowly inching closer to one another's, clearly bickering, perhaps supposedly yelling at one another.

It was a little grating on the ears, I won't lie. But I let them continue. Because even if Millie wasn't "talking," she was verbalizing -- and it is always a treat to hear her voice.

(It's also a treat to watch Lola interact with her sister. You hear from time to time about how newborn or infant twins/multiples seem to have their own language, seemingly communicating with each other before they can truly talk. This is what Lola does, or seems to. She communicates with Millie, somehow, someway, even though her sister doesn't (yet) clearly speak. But they do, they have this give and take that I'd love to understand, this secret sister language that keep them up too late every night, us adults privy only their frequent giggles and shrieks of delight.)

Millie is growing more confident every day. She now jumps and dances all the time. I asked her a few weeks ago if she would ever want to do gymnastics like her big sister -- it would be good for her motor development -- and she indicated no, that she'd much rather join a dance class.

She loves to run and twirl now, preferring her Princess nightgowns to fancy dress-up clothes. She picks up the fronts of her nightgowns and curtsies, before tearing throughout the house in a fascinating half-jogging, half-dancing routine.

After the Frozen scavenger hunt, she and Lola had an impromptu Elsa-themed dance party. And Millie attempted to sing along with the words on the soundtrack, not really coming anywhere close to the actual lyrics, but mimicking the tone of her voice and the length of each sound to what she could hear. Could anyone have been able to tell that she was singing "Let it Go"? No, not at all, but they'd be able to tell she was singing -- and that alone is a huge accomplishment for her.

The next day, at my mom's house for Christmas, Millie "borrowed" (read: stole) a cousin's Frozen karaoke machine and sang some more.


There was something kind of special about this machine. I'm guessing the Elsa and Anna? I mean, she will, on occasion, repeat some sounds and work on speech with our play microphone at home, but she's never willingly or excitedly reached for it to sing or talk. But with this karaoke thingamajig, she was absolutely smitten.

Again, you couldn't understand her -- but that isn't the point.

She's trying. She's pushing herself, she's learning.

It used to be that she reserved her voice for mostly just Ray, me and Lola, shying away from any kind of public utterances.

But that's changing. She's singing now in a room full of people. She was talking to others in line at Joanne's the other day. She is fewer signs these, preferring her words over her hands.

She's growing up and catching up.

A little more every day.