Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Grand Old Bookcase

I have been sitting here looking over all the books propped up on the shelves. When we first walked through this house, the large built in bookcase that takes up an entire wall completely caught our eyes. You see, we love books. All different types of books. And to think that we could have a permanent, grand bookcase in our living room that we could fill up with all sorts of precious words really sealed the deal for us. We talked about filling it completely with books and adding to it every year as we collected more books so that in time it would turn into a family library.

The bookcase used to be a cream color and it matched all of the beautiful wood trim in our living room. But since we have remodeled the living room and bedrooms, all of the wood trim is now painted a bright snowy white and rests against walls of red wine and sandy beige. Now, this bookcase pops out like it is the showcase in the room. It says, "Come look at me!" (The poor fireplace is beautiful, too, but it just isn't as grand as the bookcase.)

By itself, the bookcase is something to see. There are three sections to it and each section contains 6 shelves and the middle shelf is staggered meaning that its shelves aren't level with the shelves on either side of it making it visually more interesting. The top is trimmed with what looks like crown moulding and it finishes the entire piece. Surely a previous homeowner created this permanent fixture and we will always keep it for as long as we own the home.

It didn't seem possible that anything could make the bookcase look better until my husband began unpacking our boxes of books and started setting them on the shelves. With every book that was placed on the shelf, the colors, size and textures of the books made the bookcase become something more than furniture but a showcase of information, knowledge and entertainment. I scanned the books as they were placed on the shelves getting excited when I would come across something that I hadn't seen in years or never finished reading once the girls were born. We have all sorts of paperback fiction books, books left over from college studies, various self help books, extra Bibles, small group books and some keepsake books.

It was amazing to look over all those pieces of literature and see how each represented a specific time in our lives. It describes far better than a picture or even one of our fleeting memories about what we were doing and more importantly, what was on our mind. I can look at some of those crazy self help books that we read while we were trying to lose weight, get in shape, figure out our finances or try to climb the corporate ladder. Just seeing some of those titles makes me remember it all because those words in between the cover influenced me in some way. I know that upon closing a book after reading the final word, I was forever changed.

Does that mean that I agree or take to heart everything that I read? No. But I can always appreciate someone's experiences and gain a deeper understanding why others may do what they do. Or I can close the book and inventory my own philosophy better because I have been introduced to another way of thinking. So, no matter what, reading a book can change a person by swaying them to agree with the author or by helping to make their own opinion more concrete by the introduction of other viewpoints.

Books can inspire, uplift or empower us to change the world. Books can also frighten, create caution or provide impending doom about our world. Words can change a person's mood and set in motion the "mind's eye" to dream about what characters really look like and what voice you imagine that person to really have. Ever been completely disappointed by a movie that was based on a book? No producer can ever come close to re-creating the amazing relationship that lives between the pages in our beloved book and the imagination that swirls in our mind.

Books bring back memories of life altering changes. Like, when I was in high school and questioned the Bible and was angry with God about the death of my father. My book choices reflected my interest in seeking more answers in the world and other religions trying to find some sort of sense. And then there is a newer section of books that shows how I fell back into His arms grateful to be home again. (There is one book that will never sit upon this shelf and that is my personal study Bible...its in use.)

All of the books on the shelf make sense. Every book shows our likes and dislikes. There are books about wine, travel, jazz music and Frank Sinatra along with books about buying a home, fly fishing, knitting and gardening in the Midwest. They show the transition of two, crazy twenty-something kids into somewhat older, (still crazy) thirty-somethings with...wait a minute...something is different...

I walk over to a whole new shelf of books that I don't recognize. None of these books are from my youth or my husband's youth. They are actually quite brand new looking. Stories about green eggs, alphabets, children's Bible storybooks and nursery rhymes.

Another transition.

Of course, I have seen all of these books before as they have been gifted to the girls at showers, birthdays and Christmases. To see them all lined up, having a place of their own ready for the girls to crack open the cover and get lost in their own imagination, makes me excited. These books represent a change in our lives and perspective, but also they represent a whole new beginning. The girls are starting a collection of their own and I can only pray that they fall in love with books, too. And in the years to come we will all add to our family library and continue to be forever changed by the thoughts of another.

There are many empty book shelves in this grand old bookcase. It will be a long time before we can fill it up completely. But those empty shelves are a promise. They are a promise there will be new stories, new ideas and new experiences waiting for us to find. What will we read ten years from now? What books will the girls curl up with when they are teenagers?

I can't even imagine but as I walk away, I hear the grand old bookcase say, "I will be ready. I will be ready."

Sunday, February 22, 2009

This post is part of a series titled "Twinmama's Lifestyle Challenge". For more information about how the challenge works, please visit related links here and here.

Week Seven: How Did It Go?

After discussing my schedule with twindada, we have decided that it would be best for me to work in my running schedule in the morning if possible. Of course this week it has been bitter cold again, so running in the wee hours with the coaches (my twin girls) is not a good idea. We got out a couple times when the temperature was a little warmer and it was a great time for all. I will continue to work on the best schedule so that I can spend time alone running and bringing along my coaches for moral support.

This week I was also given a specific person to pray for, so I have added this person to my prayer requests.

Week Eight...cue Mission: Impossible music...

Category?: Personal/Family

What?: Put chores in perspective. I will time how long it takes to perform certain tasks around the house so when I am dreading doing something, I can have an idea how long it will really take to get it done.

Why?: Procrastination is a big problem for me. I will put off doing certain chores and while the task stays unfinished, the stress builds around it. It is far easier to do many of the tasks around our house and just get them done than it is to pine over doing it. (15 minutes to fold the laundry or frustration trying to go through the basket to find that specific article of clothing I just have to wear and I can't find it and I have to leave in five minutes...)

How Do We Go About Doing the Challenge?: I will think about the various chores I have on a daily or weekly basis and when I do them next, I will note the time and jot it down on a notepad. Next time I have to do this chore, I can look at the amount of time that it will take to perform this task and remind myself that it is a small piece of time in my day as opposed to the stress it could have on my entire day.

Who Does the Challenge Include?: Me!

Resources to Help:

TLC Weekly Challenges start on Mondays and continue indefinitely. I will post my results along with the following challenge next Sunday. Remember, you are invited to participate in my weekly challenge or create your own and tell me about it! Also, if you find better ways to accomplish a weekly challenge, please drop me a comment. Good luck, fellow TLC-ers!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Happy Birthday Peanut & Jelly Bean!

My little duo are two years old today. I am amazed how quickly two years flies by. We never could have imagined the blessings these two little girls would bring to our lives and I am so happy they are my kids. I am a proud and grateful mama.

Wanna read our birth story? Go here and then here and finally here.

Now, a little gift for my babies...

There once was a time that I didn't know you
Didn't think there would ever be a day
That I would see two precious little girls
Smiling and giggling while they played

Two years ago you both came into our world
You were a mystery, even your names
When I was told that I had two daughters
I knew life would never be the same

You both have filled my heart with love and joy
and these past two years have taught me so much
How God's loving plan is always at work
With every hug, kiss, smile and touch

You both are special in your own way and
Blessed to come into this world with a friend
Remember your mama and dada are always here
In joy and when your hearts need to mend

Happy birthday my little duo
I wish a wonderful, blessed year you will see!
For the two little babies, who have stolen my heart
My little A and my little B.

Happy birthday girls. Wow, I can't believe it has been two years...

(I am going to go cry now.)

Monday, February 16, 2009

This post is part of a series titled "Twinmama's Lifestyle Challenge". For more information about how the challenge works, please visit related links here and here.

Week Six: How Did It Go?

I decided to start this week off praying for our good friends who left for the mission field mid-January. I am a prayer partner for their ministry regularly, but I know they provided us recently with specific prayer requests as they start their work. (If you are interested in learning more about their mission, go here.)

Additionally, I have been able to read a lot more to the girls lately which has been really great. Jelly Bean, in particular, still loves to sit with a book and look at the pictures. Peanut enjoys looking at the book, but prefers to point at each thing on the page and say, "Dah?" In return, my job is to name the object or creature. (This can go on for a very long time.)

My water consumption has gotten MUCH better! I have been drinking a lot of water and it makes me feel so much better. Soda really weighs me down and makes me feel bloated, so water has definitely helped me a lot.

Week Seven...cue Mission: Impossible music...

Category?: Personal

What?: Time to hit the pavement! Since we moved, I have not kept a regular running schedule. It is now time to start!

Running is my way of keeping healthy - it is good cardiovascular exercise, burns fat and clears my head.

How Do We Go About Doing the Challenge?: Set a schedule and ask for help from Twindada to watch the girls or keep me going. If I have a certain time/day that I am running, then it is already built into my schedule so there are no excuses. I have often thought I would just "fit things in", but I have learned that as a busy mother, it is impossible to fit things in because I am never the priority. So, I must make time.

Who Does the Challenge Include?: Me!

Resources to Help:

* Note: If you are just getting started with an exercise routine, consider talking to your doctor to make sure you are healthy to start. Also, start with something you enjoy doing and we will figure out all the nitty gritty stuff later. My challenge this week is to figure out a schedule and start running, that's it. I will build in other exercises, consider cardio versus fat burning, etc. at later times. Remember, little by little! Slow and steady wins the race! - Luv, twinmama

TLC Weekly Challenges start on Mondays and continue indefinitely. I will post my results along with the following challenge next Sunday. Remember, you are invited to participate in my weekly challenge or create your own and tell me about it! Also, if you find better ways to accomplish a weekly challenge, please drop me a comment. Good luck, fellow TLC-ers!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Helene is hosting a giveaway!

Helene at I'm Living Proof that God has a Sense of Humor is hosting her very first review and giveaway. She reviewed the product called Sambucol Black Elderberry Immune System Dietary Supplement. This product has worked very well for her kids and everyone has kept well through cold and flu season, so go check it out! She is giving away to one lucky reader an "Immune Booster Gift set." Just follow the directions for entering the contest on the post and good luck!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Friday Funny

I came across this video late tonight and just had to share. As I watched this, I had visions of my little Peanut doing something like this. She is my fearless, ornery one who would probably get the biggest kick out getting stuck. Check it out to see what I mean...

(Sorry, the descriptions are in Spanish. I think it means (loosely) "techniques to remove a teddy bear." All Spanish speaking folk can correct me on this one though.)

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Dirty Little "M" Word

What? Moron? Menace? Micky Mouse?



I loath this word. I shudder every time anyone under three feet uses this word in any context. I have made serious effort to never use this word. We have always said, "This is Mama's." "Dada's shoes." If one of the girls is playing with a toy and her sister tries to take it, we have always said, "Sissy is playing with that toy right now. It is Sissy's toy." Things have been going so well that both girls will walk around and point out ownership to items around our house.

"Mama's cup." (Points to my drinking glass.)

"Mama's." (Points to my, uh, laptop...hee hee...anyway)

"Dada's cup." (Points to twindada's beer bottle. He LOVES this one! Ha ha!)

Anyway, the point is that I have gone through great pains to never say "mine" to the girls so they will not use this word.

Why would I do that?

For the very reason why this week, Jelly Bean ripped a toy out of her sister's hands yelling, "Mine!" Or the time when Peanut got hold of some fresh laundry and when I went to retrieve it, she yelled at me shouting, "Mine!" (For the record, the item was one of my socks. It did not belong to her at all.)

Where did they learn this?

I am blaming Noggin's Lazytown and Max & Ruby. Both shows this week showed children saying the word. Shouldn't the censors be on that? Don't they know that in the pre-school world, "mine" is as dirty a word as other more adult four letter words?

My critics will say, "well, who let them watch TV in the first place?"

And I say, "Well, me, but that isn't the point..."

Ultimately it all comes back on the mother, so whatever, I guess the fault is all...mine.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

This post is part of a series titled "Twinmama's Lifestyle Challenge". For more information about how the challenge works, please visit related links here and here.

Week Five: How Did It Go?

Like many people, I have a list of little things that urk me, however there is one that reigns supreme over all of them and that is dog hair. We have two shepherd mixes and they are an endless supply of hair. I spend a lot of time sweeping, vacuuming and picking hair off everyone and everything and I am tired of it. I decided since I am not allowed to get rid of them or shave them (twindada wouldn't let me...), I would go to the source of the problem and dedicate time to brush them with a really good undercoat rake to help reduce the amount that comes off in the house. This task requires some time and dedication on my part, but the amount of dog hair that I have been able to brush away has made me realize this is the best way for the hair to not end up on my couch. And that makes me happy.

Week Six...cue Mission: Impossible music...

Category?: Faith

What?: Ask someone how I can pray for them. I pray for my family and friends as things arise, but sometimes I don't know if someone is in need of prayer.

Often people won't ask for prayer because they don't want to burden others, come across selfish or just don't think they need it. By asking someone if I can pray for them, they will know that I am thinking about them and want go to God on their behalf to help them with anything.

How Do We Go About Doing the Challenge?: Identify a person that doesn't necessarily ask for prayer often, someone who is in trying times or anyone.

Who Does the Challenge Include?: Me and the person I pick.

Resources to Help:

"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should" Colossians 4:2-4.

"I urge, then first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. … I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing" —1 Timothy 2:1-4, 8.

TLC Weekly Challenges start on Mondays and continue indefinitely. I will post my results along with the following challenge next Sunday. Remember, you are invited to participate in my weekly challenge or create your own and tell me about it! Also, if you find better ways to accomplish a weekly challenge, please drop me a comment. Good luck, fellow TLC-ers!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Commonly Heard Phrases in Twinland

Toddlers learn to talk by imitating the words they hear from others. Whatever expressions parents, grandparents, other family and friends say, children will say, too. That is why I am convinced the following phrases are quick to become part of my girls' vocabulary.

"Close it."
"Drop it."
"Not for you."
"You may not ___."
"Quite touching that."
"Don't eat that."
"Eat your dinner."
"Sit still."
"Come on."
"Come here."
"Don't run away from me."
"Get your hand out of the toilet."
"Give sissy her bear back."
"Be nice to your sister."
"Be nice to me."
"Get your hand out of your diaper."
"Come back."
"Get down."
"Don't grab that."
"Leave the doggies alone."
"Don't throw that on the floor."

I could go on, but you probably get my point.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Making a Lemonade Stand

At the beginning of January, my husband came home to tell me that he was laid off from his job. I wasn't shocked that this had happened because he prepared me a couple of months before that it could happen in 2009. However I was a little surprised because I don't think that I thought it was going to occur so soon.

We both went through a range of emotions. There was surprise that it had happened right after the first of the year. There was relief that he didn't have to make that 3+ hour round trip commute anymore. And there was concern about what we were going to do financially.

I think like most people we needed time to decompress and figure out our game plan. We knew we needed to sit down and discuss how we were going to provide for our family and stay in our house. Also, there was the question of what my husband was going to do now that he was unemployed. Was he going to look for another job closer to home? Was he going to be forced to look at jobs that would give him yet another considerable commute? Or was there something else that he should now do?

It usually takes some sort of drastic change (usually not by our doing) to initiate a complete perspective change. A decision, realization, loss or any other moment when our thought processes shift from thinking one way to having a whole new appreciation for something else forces us to consider that maybe there is another way. Maybe there is a way to be happier. Maybe there is a way to do what we have always wanted to do. Maybe that time is now.

He was at a crossroads.

We have been together for over eight years and the entire time that I have known him, he has wanted to start his own business. There are certain people that are just born with that entrepreneur heart and he is definitely one of them. Entrepreneurs can create, set in motion and manage something without the fear of failure. They can take a step out away from the pack to pursue their heart's desire without the security of a corporate backing or company health benefits. It's a risky world, but it is also the most fulfilling place for an entrepreneur.

Years ago when he approached me with this idea, I was completely against it. I didn't like the lack of security or feared it was too outside what "everyone else does". Despite this, he continued to dream about the opportunity while building his skillset as a corporate recruiter with several good companies.

Again, the topic was revisited and this time we both knew that it felt right. We have been praying a lot to God for direction, guidance and resources and I get a completely content feeling about him pursuing this. Should I be this content? Probably not - we have 2 children and a mortgage which we didn't have before, but I think that is why I am so supportive. I have spent eight years getting to know my husband and I have learned many things, but this one is the most important of all - I trust him and know that he will provide for us.

It's amazing how much things can change and how if we pray for guidance, God will give us not only direction, but the comfort in knowing we are making the right decision. I pray twindada's business thrives and it is able to provide for our family. I don't pray for anything beyond that, I just want God's provisions. Some may question starting a business in today's market, but I feel this is the best time to start! Having a presence in the market right now will set him up for the future when job growth picks up again. It is those who ran away at this time that will not come out on top when the economy turns upward.

So, if you find that your life has taken a change that you weren't expecting consider the old saying, "If life gives you lemons, make lemonade." It is so true that our reaction to something weighs far greater than the event itself. We must push on despite the economy, loss of jobs and trying to stretch money that doesn't seem to want to stretch. Life goes on and we have to be ready to accept God's blessings and learn from His guidance. Wow, do I know this lesson. I get "educated" in this several times a year. (You would think I would have learned by now?)

We are embracing the opportunity to change our lives forever. My husband gets his "shot" to see what he can do in the business ownership world and I get my family all under one roof. (Which for those who know me well understand that I am a homebody and like all my birds in the nest, so I am in heaven.)

Life took an unexpected turn and we are taking the chance to stop dreaming and start doing.

Time to start squeezing.

Monday, February 2, 2009

This post is part of a series titled "Twinmama's Lifestyle Challenge". For more information about how the challenge works, please visit related links here and here.

Week Four: How Did It Go?

Yet another crazy week, but things are starting to get into a new routine. Twindada was laid off from his job early in January, so we are adjusting to everyone at home. It has been good to have him close because I was tired of the 3+ hours round trip commute he was making everyday. The girls have enjoyed having him at home, too. I worked this week on trying to identify the best times to get the girls' attention so we could read books. At almost two years old, they have a lot energy, a little stubborness and compete for my attention, so sitting quietly with one girl to read has proven to be a challenge. This week, I am going to start a routine of reading to them before naptime and bedtime and see how that works.

Week Five...cue Mission: Impossible music...

Category?: Personal/Family

What?: Eliminate a stressor! I will identify something that makes me feel stressed, overwhelmed or frustrated and work on ways to improve it in my life.

Stress is a nasty little thing that corrodes our physical and mental well being as well as causes strife in our relationships.

How Do We Go About Doing the Challenge?: Like most people, I have some things that just make me crazy. I will pick one and concentrate on fixing it. Instead of being on the defensive, I will go to the source of the problem. I will pick something that I have the ability to control or cause change.

Who Does the Challenge Include?: Me.

Resources to Help:

TLC Weekly Challenges start on Mondays and continue indefinitely. I will post my results along with the following challenge next Sunday. Remember, you are invited to participate in my weekly challenge or create your own and tell me about it! Also, if you find better ways to accomplish a weekly challenge, please drop me a comment. Good luck, fellow TLC-ers!

Oh My Gosh...

I owe you all a TLC post this week along with more twinperspective stuff. I have been really stinking it up as a blogger lately and I promise that I will get back in the saddle very soon.

The new TLC will post later tonight as soon as I get my head out of the snow!

Thanks for sticking with me, Blogging Buddies!