Tuesday, July 31, 2012

8 Months with E & E

The little E's turned 8 months this week. For the first time since having twins, I can honestly say I am well-rested and completely, blissfully happy. This past month has been a dream.

After sleep training the first week of July, our lives completely changed. The babies sleep like champs and only occasionally wake up in the middle of the night for a feeding. The past two nights, the little guys slept 14 hours solid! Naps are a different story, but I have no complaints as long as the babies sleep at night.

Ezra still only has one tooth, and Elliott remains toothless. They crawl all around the place, but neither of them can sit for very long (which I find pretty amusing). They are the happiest babies and only seem to cry when they are being fed solids. These tantrums occur because Ezra and Elliott are so impatient to eat and they hate taking turns. Watching their brother get a spoonful of sweet potatoes is torture! Ezra typically screams the most, while Elliott kind of stares at him, as if to say, "What's the big deal!?" This problem is easily solved when we have two people feed them at the same time. 
 Ezra is our little spitfire. When I say that, I mean he is spunky, but he also loves to spit. Anytime we feed the twins, we expect to be covered in baby food at the end of the meal. Ezra just cannot stop from blowing bubbles and spitting--even while eating. It's cute because it is typical Ezra behavior, but it is also quite messy. Ezra enjoys scrunching his face up when he is excited and breathes rapidly. It is adorable. Despite being the "little" brother, he seems more interested in being the leader. He wants to constantly move, he wants to play with every toy, and he always wants to make noise.

Although Elliott looks identical to Ezra (for the most part), he has such a different personality. Elliott is very laid back. His facial expression seems to constantly say, "I'm here. I'm happy. I'm chill." 

He cannot get enough of Ezra! Elliott will watch his brother move around with a huge smile on his face. He is fine playing with one toy, while Ezra performs his various tricks. Just this week, Elliott learned how to protect his toys from his curious brother. For a few weeks, it seemed like Ezra always took the toy Elliott was playing with. Finally, Elliott decided he had had enough and started rolling (with the toy in hand) away from Ezra anytime he tried planning a sneak attack. 
I love how the predictions I made during pregnancy were mostly accurate. I felt like Ezra would be our feisty baby, while Elliott would be our pacifist. These conclusions were based on the final months of pregnancy, where I would lay awake for hours as Ezra furiously punched and kicked inside of me. Meanwhile, on the opposite side of my stomach, Elliott lay so still that I often worried about him. Every ultrasound, I almost cried with relief when the technician told me that he was just as healthy as his brother. In fact, Ezra was so active in utero that he switched from being Baby A to Baby B (Baby A is alway the presenting baby (the one closest to the cervix) and the other one is Baby B.) 

Somehow, we've lasted 8 months of nursing and pumping. I say "we" because I could not have done it without Nathan's support. Only four more months until I reach my new goal of a year. 

I'm excited for the rest of twin life. I know there will be difficult hurdles, but I feel like most things will be pale in comparison to the past few months of stress and sleep deprivation. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Family of Five

While we were in Seattle, Megan took a few casual photos of our family. Even though Nathan and I are accidentally wearing matching shirts, I really love these picture. They are the first family photos since December (when Megan came to visit!), and all three children have definitely changed over the past seven months.

 Eliza couldn't sit still for very long, so Megan started their bubble machine. All three children loved the bubbles, and Ezra and Elliott couldn't stop watching their big sister dance around.

 Eliza could have chased bubbles all afternoon. I love that she is a little blurry in this photograph. Typical Eliza. She is always in constant motion.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Glasses For Eliza

A couple of months ago, Nathan noticed Eliza's eyes cross for the first time. While concentrating, her left eye went inward and then straight again as she tried to focus. I asked my mother, a nurse at an eye clinic, about the situation. She recommended that we continue to monitor Eliza's eyes and to immediately schedule an appointment if we noticed it again.

We went a couple of weeks without another incident, but we soon saw her eye's crossing again--particularly her left eye. The closest pediatric ophthalmologist is nearly two hours away and the soonest appointment I could schedule was in late August. I was worried about waiting to take care of the problem and delaying help for Eliza.  My prayers for an earlier appointment were answered yesterday when I noticed a sign advertising "eye care for children" at the local health clinic. Apparently, our little town has a new eye doctor.

I immediately called and asked for the soonest available appointment. I was thrilled when the receptionist said they could see us at 8:00 the very next morning. We let Eliza know she would be going to the eye doctor and that she would most likely be fitted for glasses. Fortunately, there is a Yo Gabba Gabba episode where Muno gets glasses, so Eliza knows all about them and what they do.

She was a dream at the appointment. All of the nurses kept saying, "She is so cute!" and she would reply, "I know. I'm beautiful. Thank you!" She thoroughly enjoyed being in the spotlight (which is rare when we go out with the twins these days). Before the eye exam, the nurse asked her a few initial questions, and Eliza was able to explain that her left eye sometimes "felt funny" and didn't work as well as her other eye. The nurse then said, "Well, let me get the book of symbols out. Too bad she doesn't know her numbers!" Eliza quickly said, "I know my numbers!" The nurse took out a flip book with numbers, and Eliza proved that she could properly identify each number. The nurse was impressed and congratulated Eliza on a job well done. Eliza was beaming with excitement. 
Once we established that she could identify the numbers with both eyes, we began one of the initial exams. We covered Eliza's left eye and she was able to get all of the number right except for a couple (she confused 9/4 and 7/1). We then covered her right eye, and Eliza recognized less than half of the numbers. Her confidence and happiness disappeared for a moment as she looked at me and said, "Mama, help me." Of course, I started crying. I tried to keep Eliza from seeing me cry, but I felt so guilty and sad that she was having problems seeing. More than that, I hated that she realized she was getting the answers wrong.

The nurse and I were quick to praise her for getting the answers right and let her know she was a smart girl. Instantly, she was happy again. We did a few more vision games (this time with symbols), and Eliza continued to enjoy herself until we covered her right eye and moved the symbols further away from her. When the doctor came in to do a quick vision test himself, he immediately noticed she was very farsighted and had a severe astigmatism in her left eye and mild astigmatism in her right eye. He then did a game, and again, she looked at me for help when she realized she couldn't tell the difference between a plane and a house. We continued to give her positive praise and by the end of the "game," she was smiling as she shouted a made-up answer. Her vision was really so bad that she couldn't even guess.

Then, it was time for the fun part. In order to get an accurate reading for her prescription lenses, Eliza's eyes had to dilated. Five separate drops were put into each eye, and Eliza did not cry or even move. She was so amazing that I couldn't stop hugging her. I felt so proud of my big girl. We then took a break (it takes about 30 minutes for the eyes to fully dilate) and went to pick out her glasses.
She instantly fell in love with some beautiful pink Ni-Hao, Kai Lan glasses. Of course, our insurance did not cover any of the "fancy" brands, so I was left with the choice of paying full price for a pair of glasses she loved or taking a pair that she liked somewhat for no out of pocket expense. The decision didn't take but a couple of seconds to make. How could I say no to this?
She couldn't stop smiling, so we knew we had a winner! Even if our budget is shot for the month, I know that the money was well spent. Glasses are going to be a big change for Eliza, so I really want her to love the pair we get.
I remembered my little brother wearing glasses and could hear my mother saying, "Always have two pairs!" We found another pair that we both liked that was covered by insurance. Although she initially wanted two pairs of pink glasses, I think I convinced her that clear glasses are also cool. Success!
Sure enough, when I called my mom to let her know Eliza was getting glasses, the first thing she said was, "Make sure you buy two pairs." Got it covered, Mom!

We went back for a final evaluation and the doctor did the exam to find out the prescription. As it turns out, Eliza can barely see out of her left eye (things in the distance, at least). Her right eye is better, but not by much. The doctor explained that the full prescription would overwhelm Eliza's eyes and brain, causing headaches. Because of this, the prescription will be cut in half and then gradually increased over the course of a year. Even though she won't see perfectly with the first set of lenses, they will still greatly improve her current vision.

Following two hours of "games," exams, machines, trying on glasses, and then mild torture (she didn't like having her eyes dilated, which is understandable.), we finally left. Eliza was definitely ready to go and even asked for a nap.  I was anxious for her to sleep and rest her eyes.
It's hard to keep flimsy sunglasses on a two year, but absolutely necessary when one has such huge pupils!
After talking with my mother about the diagnosis, I realize we are lucky to have caught the issue so soon. With glasses, the astigmatism and farsightedness could possibly go away after a few years. My brother had the same exact condition (sorry for the bad genes, Eliza), and the matter was corrected after two years of glasses.  20 years later, my sister and I still like to post pictures like this on Facebook and smile at his cuteness :)
(And now you can see why our family always teases him about his "huge noggin." Love you, Hudson!)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Ezra and Elliott started semi-crawling late last week. Ezra started first, and Elliott followed him the very next day. They roll all over the floor and prefer to play anywhere other than the soft blankets and mats we put on the floor. Obviously.

I have been checking for little teeth every morning (for the past two months or so), and this morning, I felt one before I did my daily look. Ezra has a sharp little tooth! Eliza had her first tooth around 7/8 months, so I was expecting one to show up any day now. Because they are identical twins, I wonder how similarly they will develop when it comes to things like teeth. We'll see, I suppose!

Eliza also reach a developmental milestone (in my opinion, at least): she memorized her first book! She now can tell anyone the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. It is just about the cutest thing I have ever seen. She loves to say, "Pop! Out of the egg came a tiny and very hungry caterpillar." My favorite parts are when she says the word "cocoon" and explains that the tiny caterpillar had a stomachache. She is so dramatic!

Here is a picture of the caterpillar with a stomachache (after eating a ton of sweets, you see). It also makes me laugh. He looks so miserable! Way to perfectly capture a feeling, Eric Carl.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Out of the House

Eliza is a very loved little girl.

Nathan and I have done our best not to spoil her, but the reality of the situation is that she certainly has a number of things that she wants. I love a good yard sale, so I have amassed quite the wardrobe of princess dresses, princess shoes, puzzles and books for her. Additionally, Cheryl, my mother, and Eliza's great-grandmothers love to give her little things.

I realized last week that I often buy Eliza presents because it is the way I show love to others. If you have ever heard of the book, 5 Love Languages, you will know that "gifts" are one of the ways people express love. I am one of these people. If I am feeling sad that I have spent all day nursing/playing with/loving Ezra and Elliott and slightly neglecting Eliza, I will often try to smother my little girl with "gifts" like chocolate milk and a lollipop. I'm horrible, I know.

I realize more and more that the relationship between Eliza and me isn't what I want it to be.  She is certainly loved and played with during the day, but it usually isn't me that is taking her out on walks and jumping on the trampoline. Perhaps it is due to nursing (and low iron?), but I constantly feel weak and tired, so I usually volunteer to do the things that require less energy. We color, bake cookies, play dress up, and talk to the babies. Nathan and Eliza do all the running and jumping outside, and Nathan is always actively engaged with her. They laugh, they tell jokes, and are downright silly. I realize I am not the "fun" parent, and I want to change that. Although Eliza and I enjoy singing and reading books together, I have wanted to do more than our indoor activities lately. I'm still weak feeling, but now that the boys are sleeping, I definitely have more energy. I decided it was time to work on developing a few of the other love languages.

Like I said earlier, there are five love languages. These are words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and gifts. While the concept of love languages was originally created to apply to marriages, the author, Gary Chapman, has also written that these five methods should be ways we show love to our children. He encourages parents to use each language "fluently." He says that a well-adjusted child becomes a well-adjusted adult. If a child is showered with all five types of love, he/she will grow up and recognize love in any form. Obviously, this will be a great thing for future relationships.

Nathan and I talked and realized we try to show love to Eliza in all five ways already. Additionally, we see how she already responds so well to each type. She loves hugs and when we play with her hair. She lights up when we tell her how proud she makes us or congratulate her on completing a puzzle. When we help fix a broken toy, mend a ripped princess dress, or cook her favorite meal, she cannot stop thanking us. Without a doubt, she appreciates gifts. And lastly, she comes to life when we spend quality time with her. I know quality time is the area I need to work on regarding my relationship with Eliza. Of course, I spend time with her, but I would like to change our scope of interaction.

I decided she and I would have a fun date--quality time with just the girls. Between Nathan and I working opposite schedules and the children's various naps, it was tricky finding the perfect time. I knew all we had was 10:00-12:00 (when Ezra and Elliott nap and before Eliza's nap). I fed the boys, did our nap routine, and planned an escape to the pool. I hurriedly put on her swimsuit, applied sunblock, and ushered Eliza into the minivan. She was so excited.
Of course, I had told her that we were going swimming and played up how much fun we were going to have. As we made the short trip to the community pool, she was laughing and singing songs. It felt so good to make her happy without buying her anything. All she wanted was time with me--doing something other than reading!

Walking hand and hand, we went toward the pool. As we approached the main gate, one of the lifeguards said, "Oh, we aren't opened until 12:30. Sorry. It's swim lessons for intermediate swimmers and then lap swim after that." I don't think I said anything.  I turned around, still holding Eliza's hand, and tried to quietly explain what was going on to her.

I felt crushed. We wouldn't be able to come back most likely (due to work), and I didn't have the heart to tell Eliza we weren't swimming. I wanted to tell the pool the schedule was ridiculous for allowing families to swim only 5 hours of the day. What kind of policy is that!? As soon as Eliza saw we were headed back toward the car, she began to cry. It was a real cry of utter disappointment. The tears were huge, and I almost cried myself.

She sobbed the entire ride home and yelled, "You told me we were going to go swimming! You said we were!" She was devastated (like a two year old would be), and all I could say was, "I'm sorry" and "We'll go again, I promise." I began to think about how much I wanted to protect her and make her unhappiness go away. I wanted to solve the problem immediately, although there was no good solution.

I knew I could have a pity party and join Eliza in crying or I could take control of the situation and turn things around. I decided I wouldn't let this deter me from having fun with Eliza. We were going to spend quality time with one another one way or another. I continued to talk to her and then rearranged our schedules in order to return to the pool. We decided to defy nap time for the boys, and our entire family went swimming. Nathan left early and took the little guys home while Eliza and I played for 30 minutes together. I know 30 minutes doesn't sound like much one-on-one time, but it was amazing. She definitely enjoyed her alone time with me, and it felt good to know I can easily give Eliza the attention and activity she certainly deserves.

At the end of the day, the initial trip to the pool was long forgotten. It wasn't even a bump in the road in Eliza's eyes. All she remembered was swimming with mama and going under the water for a second. I hope this is the first of many trips to the pool this summer.

Seattle Visit

Don't you love how small the world is?

Over two years ago, I started a job at SirsiDynix in Provo. The position I filled was for a girl who had gone on maternity leave. She would be returning in a few weeks, but the company decided it would be nice to have another person working in the department. I sat at her desk for the first month of my job and heard stories about how funny she was, how cute she dressed, and how amazing she was at her job. Everyone loved Beckie.

I was a bit intimidated, but I hoped she would like me. It's hard(er) to make friends when you are older, and everyone needs a friend at work, so I crossed my fingers that we would hit it off. Beckie came back to work, and I instantly liked her. She was just like everyone described and we did, in fact, become good friends. Going to work was fun because she was there, and we always found something to talk and laugh about.

A few weeks after Beckie and I met, we realized we had a mutual friend. Beckie had grown up with the only friend I had from Washington, Megan Harvill. I know Megan because she is the wife of Nathan's best friend, Ben. Ben and Nathan grew up together in Othello and have remained the closest of friends for 22 years now. Crazy connections.

Well, this weekend, Beckie came all the way from Georgia to visit Washington. Nathan and I decided it would be nice to see the Harvills and Beckie, so we drove three hours to Kent (right outside of Seattle) and stayed with Ben and Megan. It was perfect. Nathan spent all day talking to his best friend, and I had the opportunity to go see Seattle with two of my best girl friends. Eliza also had a great time because she was able to play with Noah (Megan's son) and Henry (Beckie's son). They all love trains.
I love when everyone is happy.

We went to Gas Works and saw a great view of Seattle.

We also visited some touristy areas like the troll under the bridge in Fremont.
We then spent the rest of the afternoon shopping. It was perfect. Hanging out with friends is nice.

Also, Beckie is kind of famous. She just started out her own fabric line and has an amazing Etsy shop. Her pillow cases have been featured in Apartment Therapy and on the cover of Country Living twice!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Bible Story Interpretations

Eliza has a nightly routine or a rotina  as she calls it in Portuguese (pronounced "ho-chee-na"). This consists of changing into pajamas, drinking a final cup of water, brushing her teeth, reading books, singing songs, and saying prayers. She loves to list the steps of her routine and check off what we have done. She is definitely a planner already.

Reading books is, without a doubt, her favorite part of the night. She always tries to get me to read 10 books instead of the allotted 3, and I usually give in because who doesn't love to read and want their child to love books? Recently, though, Eliza wants stories in addition to books. I make up some pretty amazing tales involving "Princes Eliza," but lately, I have been telling her Bible stories. 

A couple of weeks ago, I told her the story of Jonah and the whale. I began by saying that God asked Jonah to go to Ninevah, but Jonah did not want to go. Instead, he tried to run away from God and ultimately was swallowed by a whale (or a really big fish according to some scholars...I let Eliza know about that theory, too).  Eliza was highly entertained. I showed her pictures of the story in her children's Bible (which neither of us like because it is so simple that it doesn't really tell a story at all!), and she stared in disbelief and amazement at Jonah inside the whale. The next night, she asked me to tell her the Jonah story again. She listened intently and seemed satisfied after hearing it for a second time. Since then, we have moved on to other Bible stories and she hasn't asked about Jonah again.

And then today, she brought up Jonah again, and thoroughly surprised Nathan and me with her intelligence and ability to apply concepts. I know all parents think their children are geniuses, but this particular conversation with Eliza made me say "seriously!?" out loud several times.

We have a pretty strict policy that no children are allowed to touch the DVD player or DVD's, and Eliza knows that only Nathan and I are supposed to start movies (we have had far too many disks ruined). Today, I was bouncing Ezra, singing to a crying Elliott, and trying to get The Little Mermaid to play all at the same time. The boys needed to go down for a nap, but I wanted to get the movie started first so Eliza was entertained for the 10 minutes I was gone. As I leaned down to press "play," Eliza hurriedly mashed buttons. She was tired of waiting and thought she was helping. The screen instantly went blank, and I told Eliza she was going to have to wait until I put the babies down in order to watch the show. I didn't have time to skip through all the advertisements again, and she needed to know there are consequences when directions aren't followed (I feel like such a mean mom after reading this, but I really don't want all of the DVD's ruined!).

As I put Ezra and Elliott into their cribs, I could hear her crying. I went through our nap routine as quickly as possible and ran back to the playroom where she was. She looked up at me with tears in her eyes and said, "I didn't go to Ninevah! I didn't listen to you! I don't want to get eaten by a whale!"

I didn't know what to say! I just stared at her and asked, "Did you just say Ninevah?"  How did she remember the word "Ninevah?" I only said it twice, and it was just a detail of the story. I assured her that she wouldn't be eaten by a whale and gave her a huge hug.  I don't think she actually thought she was going to be swallowed by a whale for disobeying--she just did not want to be in trouble.  I then reminded her that it would be a good idea to listen to me because I just want to help her when I make rules. I let her know that God knew what was best for Jonah, and sometimes, I know what is best for her. She seriously said, "I can do that, Mama. I can listen." She is so wise, this little one.

Popcorn and lemonade were a good peace offering. I love Eliza. She is such a good little girl and friend. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

So What Do We Do Now?

Now that our kids are going to bed at 7:00-7:30 and sleeping through the night, Nathan and I have an absurd amount of "free" time on our hands. I'm not sure why I put free in quotation marks, but time never seems free, so it seemed fitting. After we tidy the house and start the laundry, it's only 8 PM or so. Considering the past few months have consisted of our children constantly being awake, we have no idea what to do with so much time.

The past couple of days, I have spent these hours foolishly watching episodes of The Mentalist or playing geography games because I am a nerd. I used to take any opportunity I had alone to read, but I'm not there yet.  It's like I am slowly coming out of a sleep-deprived catatonic state; I feel the fog lifting, and it is amazing.  I plan on enjoying mindless entertainment for a few more days before I buckle down and find something productive or fulfilling to do with the day's extra hours.

Who knows? Maybe I'll start exercising? Realistically speaking, though, I'll probably just find a new book series that I enjoy. Oh, words, I am so happy at the thought of reading you!

I should also consider going to bed before midnight. It's hard to retrain the body and mind into believing that sleep is real and isn't going to be interrupted!

People That Care

Yesterday, I called my former doctor's office in Provo in order to pay off a medical bill from last June. I had so many different visits that I guess one slipped through the cracks somehow (on their end). Luckily for them, they remembered to charge us one additional time! Fortunately for us, the bill wasn't bad at all.

A familiar voice answered the phone, and I couldn't help but smile as the receptionist introduced herself. I knew she probably wouldn't remember me, but I let her know my name so she could pull open the account. As soon as I said "Cecilia", she interrupted and said, "Cecilia ROBBINS!? The girl who was pregnant with twins?"

I laughed and said, "That's me!"

She had been working when we first discovered we were having twins and walked out of the ultrasound room hysterically laughing and nearly crying with excitement. She was the one who had organized all of my medical papers when we moved and made me two copies in case I lost one. She was the kind soul who listened when I called crying, asking to be seen again because I was so sick. And when she told me she wished me the best at our final office visit, I knew she meant it. 

So yes, I really like this woman.

After her initial question, she went on to say: "I was thinking about you just the other week. We all have been wondering what happened with you and wishing you the best. I kept you in my prayers for weeks."

When I told her Ezra and Elliott (she loved the names) were perfect, healthy little boys, she laughed in delight. When I told her the brief version of our crazy delivery and how neither baby went to the NICU, she gasped in disbelief. She kept saying, "You are so blessed, Ms. Cecilia! I am just so happy for you!"

I'm happy for us, too! And it really is amazing how great the kindness of others can make you feel. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Idaho Getaway

This weekend, Nathan and I had the opportunity to go on a much needed mini vacation. My wonderful in-laws offered us their timeshare in the mountains of northern Idaho. They also offered to watch all of our children so we could fully relax and take advantage of all of the amenities offered by the resort. Yes, I realize I am incredibly blessed to have such amazing in-laws. Additionally, Ty, Jenny, and little Anna also come, which made the trip even more enjoyable. We are so lucky that our brother/brother-in-law and sister-in-law are two of our best friends.

When we arrived at Stoneridge Resort, my first thought was "Dirty Dancing!"
It really felt like we were at the resort featured in the movie (except for the whole dancing bit and Patrick Swayze). There were a number of activities to do, a meet and greet, and the atmosphere was very family friendly. Nathan and I mostly enjoyed the typical vacation luxuries: the salt water pool (so much better than chlorine), hot tub and sauna. We also had fun playing a number of shuffleboard matches and a game of miniature golf.

As it turns out, we both love shuffleboard. We are officially 70 years old, I know.

We ate good food, celebrated Ty's birthday, stayed up way too late, slept in, and enjoyed ourselves. 

One of the highlights of the trip was playing racquetball with Ty for over an hour. Afterwards, I could hardly walk. Two days later, I was forced to crawl up the stairs because my thighs and entire body continue to ache. I think this means I need to start working out. The other highlight was eating Ty's delicious birthday cake that Jenny made. Imagine a giant Oreo...two layers of chocolate cake topped with butter cream Oreo icing. It was heavenly.

As always, though, it is good to be home. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Parades, Waves, and Smiles

When we lived in Provo, the parade on Independence Day was one of the highlights of the holiday. We only had to walk two blocks to attend the festivities, which included everything from cheerleaders and a marching band to storm troopers. Luckily for us (and Eliza), Othello also has a parade on the 4th of July. Although it mostly consisted of tractors and horses, Eliza was not disappointed. Her initial boredom turned into pure delight once she realized candy was being thrown by the various participants.
She would wave...and then run for the candy!
She would prance out into the street and pick up as many candies as her tiny hands could hold. We couldn't stop laughing at her "candy dance." Notice the little hops here.
So cute.
Eliza also enjoyed the homemade ice cream we made later on in the day and then was excited to watch fireworks for the first time that night.
Ezra and Elliott enjoyed being outside and were their cute, smiley selves. 

It's so much fun to take pictures of happy babies! 
As you can see, we had a great day! (and yes, I did manage to watch Independence Day three days in a row)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A History of my Fourths of July

The Fourth of July has always been one of my favorite holidays. As a child, I looked forward to the fireworks, hamburgers, watermelon, and trips to the lake with my cousins. One of my favorite traditions, though, was watching movies. We would watch Jaws or have Star Wars marathons,  and sometimes, we even went to see a new release in the theater.

I often laugh when I think about watching Independence Day on opening day back in 1996. My older cousins had come to visit from North Carolina, and I was excited to go to a movie with the "big kids." I was only ten years old, so hanging out with 20 year olds was a big deal! As we made our way into the packed movie theater, we realized we would have to split up. My cousin, Eddie, and I went to the far left of the theater and sat beside a couple in their mid-20s.

I know most of you have seen the movie, but there is one particular scene that is meant to surprise the audience. The government officials are touring Area 51, and the alien has escaped during an operation which was being performed by Data (or the actor who plays Data in Star Trek). Everything is quiet until suddenly, Data is slammed against a glass panel and says, "Release me!" 

I'll admit--I was scared. I was ten...of course, I was scared! However, there was someone who was definitely more (outwardly) terrified than I was. The young man sitting beside my cousin Eddie literally jumped into his lap during this scene....as in Eddie had a stranger sitting in his lap screaming like a young child. I will never forget how unbelievably ridiculous the entire scenario was. We all felt awkward. The man hurriedly sat back in his seat and his girlfriend hid her face in shame. I was too embarrassed for the guy to actually laugh at the time, and Eddie had a "did that just happen" look on his face. Fortunately, we made it through the movie without anymore incidents.

Although that is a tough memory to outdo, I must say that I have one more that is even better than that. Four years ago, I was single and loving life in Provo. I knew Nathan from church, had a crush on him, and also knew that he was engaged. I was downtown with some friends, enjoying the evening, when I walked past Nathan. He looked so sad. Little did I know that he and his fiance had just broken up about 10 minutes earlier. I felt like I should say something, but I wasn't sure what to say to someone I  hardly knew. So, I looked at him, smiled and awkwardly said: "Cheer up, Charlie."

Cheer up, Charlie!? Where did that come from?! I'm not sure, but I guess I caught his attention! Later on that night, he joined up with our group of friends to watch the fireworks. We didn't talk much, but we definitely started our friendship. And now we are married and have three kids.

While those are two of my favorite memories, I cannot help but think of what was going on last 4th of July weekend. I know I have had several "one year ago, this happened" posts, but I really am in awe  of how much life can change in a year...for the better, that is. 

We began the month with my feeding tube insertion. Cheryl, who had been helping us for a month, left for the weekend to attend our niece's baptism. We thought we would be fine for a few days, but we really hit rock bottom. Less than 24 hours after going through the trauma of receiving the NJ tube, I vomited up half of the line. I was gagging, choking, panicking, and freaking out. Nathan was quietly freaking out as well. I will always be grateful to our friend Tina for coming over to watch Eliza while we went to the hospital. I was dehydrated, but had no good veins, the infusion center was closed for the holidays, and I was told a second NJ tube would not be a good idea due to radiation and the fact that I couldn't keep one down. That night, I lay awake in bed for hours and cried. I prayed for an end to the pain, and I prayed that I would live and be able to have healthy baby boys. I've said this before, but in all honesty and without exaggerating, I thought I was going to starve to death (sorry to be depressing, but it was the lowest of lows in my life). I could tell Nathan was worried as well because he had no jokes to lighten the mood. He blogged that day, which seldom happens, and admitted that he felt defeated. In the post, he stated:

I guess the point is: gratitude. So cliche, I know. So trite and non-glamorous. But that's it.  And while it never makes you feel better to say "it could be so much worse," it is true. Cecil will get better, the twins will be born, and someday we'll all be able to go on a walk. And who knows, maybe we'll even get to go boating.

God bless America -- but at the times it (and I) feels less blessed, I'll be ok with that. Because there really is an overwhelming amount of things to be thankful for. You/I/We all have it so good.

A year later, we are grateful for our healthy sons and the fact that my own health improved greatly. I wish I could explain fully how happy these little ones make us. And today, we even went on a walk. Like he said, there really is so much to be thankful for.

Happy Fourth of July, everyone! Thank for reading the world's longest blog post :)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Last Minute 4th of July Treats!

Tonight at church, we had a small celebration for the 4th of July. It was a fun gathering, and we enjoyed singing songs, playing American history trivia games, and eating great food. Cheryl and I made my most favorite sheet cake, and I thought I would share the recipe since it is so easy, festive, and delicious!

For the cake, all you need is a white cake mix. Follow the directions accordingly and bake in a 29 X 12 inch pan at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. After the cake cools, ice with the most amazing frosting. This is what really makes the cake.

  • 2 packages of cream cheese
  • 4 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 large container of cool whip (I think it's 16 oz...make sure it is the large container or else the frosting is too thick)

Preparation Instructions

Use a mixer to blend the ingredients and then frost your cake! For best results, chill the cake for 2-4 hours before serving. And, if you would like to make your cake patriotic, place strawberries and blueberries like so:
If this seems too time consuming, you could always dip strawberries into white chocolate and then coat them with blue sprinkles. So cute!
The final dessert I love is a healthier option from the Pioneer Woman. It's a wonderful yogurt cream that is perfect with strawberries and blueberries.


  • 1-1/2 cup Plain, Unflavored Yogurt
  • 1-1/4 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 cup (to 3/4 Cup) Brown Sugar
  • Blueberries (or Other Fruit Of Your Choice)

Preparation Instructions

First, pour the yogurt into a bowl and then add the cream.  Carefully whisk the two ingredients until it is nice and thick.
After this is done, sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the top of the yogurt mixture. This is very important: do not stir the mixture. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and tightly seal the edges. Place in the refrigerator for at least three or four hours.
Once the mixture has chilled, whisk the ingredients all together and serve over blueberries and strawberries (or any fruit of your choosing).
Enjoy! I hope you have a wonderful 4th of July!

(p.s. Ezra and Elliott slept for 13 hours last night!)

Monday, July 2, 2012


My mother always told me to marry the smartest and kindest man I knew. While kindness is an obvious trait to desire in a husband, intelligence isn't always listed as one of the most important qualities in a future spouse. My mother told her children that we would appreciate intelligence more than anything, and we would be thankful for smart children. My father is one of the smartest people I know, so she obviously followed her own advice. (Thanks, Mom!)

Something I love about Nathan is the way he applies his intelligence. He is unique, he is creative, and he always finds a way to solve any problem (a different way than me, I might add). For instance, today, Eliza came home from an outing with grandma with a small bottle of bubbles. While playing, she knocked the bottle over and the bubble liquid all spilled out. She was so sad.

I suggested that we run to Walmart, but Nathan just quickly mixed together water and Dawn. The bubble action was back, and Eliza was thrilled. 
After a little while longer of blowing bubbles, Eliza said she wanted bigger bubbles. The tiny ones just weren't cutting it. A short while later, Nathan came back outside with a container of water/Dawn solution and a baby toy. He had discovered a new way to blow bubbles.
This little ball made the largest bubbles ever! Some were stuck together (and looked like Mickey Mouse to Eliza), and we had so much fun seeing all the various shapes and sizes of bubbles. Eliza was entertained for 4 hours playing with this stuff!

The boys enjoyed watching their sister play and even Grandma and Grandpa joined in on the fun.

And to think I wanted to go to Walmart...

Oh, and in case you are wanting an update on our children, here is a quick one! Eliza has been going to bed at 7:30 (instead of 8:30-9:00), and she slept for 13 hours last night. Ezra and Elliott woke up to nurse at 3 AM last night (after sleeping 7 hours) and then slept until 8:30 this morning. Ezra did cry for a while when he first went to bed, but tonight no one cried! The babies happily went to sleep. They have been asleep for 4 hours, and our house is silent. I am not exaggerating in the least when I say that my life has completely changed. I am so happy (and well-rested).