Wednesday, January 30, 2008

the new Me; a new year

This change had been coming. It had been festering. I needed something different.

I'd like to thank Angie for rocking this new banner and for really helping me identify what I was after. I wanted a room of my own, a view of my own to inspire my own writing and thinking and believing in myself and my world, again. (Thanks, Angie!)

But, I didn't want to let go of the idea of these letters completely. I just didn't want to feel confined to writing letters.

Between the Lines ... it's the rest of life, isn't it? How much goes unsaid between people? I think about all that happens in my day -- a mere 12 hours -- and how much of that I cannot easily convey to anyone, including my husband.

Sure, I give the highlights -- Jadyn's drawing circles; Liana's making piles -- but me, my thoughts, this motherhood trench, gets lost in all of the day's energy.

But, here ... here, is where the rest -- the stuff between the lines, between the acts -- unfolds.

Not much will change -- only everything, just like every day.

Edited to add: Couldn't you just sit under that tree all day?

Thank you for visiting today.

Did you like this blog post? Please consider subscribing here:

Subscribe in a reader

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Pardon this interruption, but ...

I am just completely dumbfounded by the decision for Judith Stadtman Tucker, who publishes The Mothers Movement -- an online resource dedicated to the advancement of mothers everywhere -- has endorsed Obama for president.

Read it for yourself here and then return and tell me what you think of her decision to NOT endorse the only candidate who is a mother.

(By the way, I am not saying that Obama isn't a good choice.)

Thank you for visiting today.

Did you like this blog post? Please consider subscribing here:

Subscribe in a reader

Monday, January 28, 2008

Me Time -- Part Deux

When I was in high school, I knew I would go to college. I didn't know how. I didn't know where. I just knew it was for me. No one else in my family has graduated from college to this day.

It was in me.

With some help from tuition assistance from the university where my mom worked, I was able to work and save up for my first semester of on-campus life and worked to pay the bills the rest of my college years as well. It was not easy juggling late night bar tending and waitressing jobs while rising early for 8 a.m. classes and pulling all-nighters writing papers for college courses. But, I did it.

It was in me.

When I graduated, my dream was to write for magazines. I've mentioned before how that life took a turn, and that recently I've gotten back on path.

It was in me.

Each day I look for new ways to find that "something" that is in Jadyn and Liana. I see how Jadyn is careful and meticulous and Liana is wild and crazy in their scribbles.

As they develop and become more eager for activities -- and we do many in our house -- I see the role that I've longed to have as a mother -- their teacher, their guide, their inspiration.

Sure, they may see me as just a mom. They may never understand why I climb two flights of stairs to sit at a computer for hours. It is no coincidence that the very month that I became a stay-at-home mother, I also became a freelance writer. It was intentional. It was planned -- though not directly. I had to be something more.

It was in me.

But, the truth is, writing -- working -- is my Me Time. I dream of nothing more other than my husband and children. It sustains me. It guides me. It inspires me. It moves me.

It's in me.

What's in you?

Thank you for visiting today.

Did you like this blog post? Please consider subscribing here:

Subscribe in a reader

Me. Me. Me!

By late Saturday morning, the LTMD household seemed like it might be headed to Normal Land, where the tantrums and crying only minimally cause moments or hours of insanity -- not days, which is where we were for the last 9 to 10 days.


Other than to go to the doctor's office for the routine checkup that turned into the discovery of both girls having ear infections, I did not leave the house all week.

Back to late Saturday morning. The girls went off for a short car ride with their dad and I cleaned and it felt so absolutely amazing. The sun shined in through the curtains I opened and it felt like the Dawning of a New Day. Truly.

I made pizza for dinner and we all gobbled it up with our running noses and coughs taking a slight backburner to enjoy it. We felt anew.

That night we even almost slept through the night. Not quite, but it was better.

Then, smack dab in the middle of Sunday's CVSing, gasp!, I got a horrendous feeling of fever and illness. So much so that I didn't give $6 in coupons and only realized that later in the day. Imagine my disappointment.

But, this post isn't so much about all of that as it is about Me Time and the fact that I have been in need of Me Time for well over a month or two. I can't remember the last Me Time, in fact. I do not count grocery shopping as Me Time. I should be expected to, either.

More than that, though, we are lacking in We Time as well.

So, I want to talk this week about Me Time and We time as part of Mamablogga's group writing project.

My issue is this: How do we fit it all in? Where's the time? The energy? The money?

I had already been ready to pay for a sitter so Dan and I can have a date even if it's to McDonald's (because that McNuggets rap commercial has worked on me). Then, I knew I was overdue in Me Time as well and needed to work that in to the equation as well.

But, week nights after 12 hours caretaking of the tots and neglect of myself, all I want to do is sleep. Usually I have to get some work done, as well. Remember: I work during the girls' naps (when they honor me with such a perk to this job).

So, week nights in the winter, at least, are just not good for me for either date night or Me Time.

Then, the weekends are catch up to everything that didn't get done during the week. The laundry, the cleaning, the errands.

Factor all of that in to the fact that we're finally together as a family for once all week. I want to do things as a family, which is a whole heck of a lot easier than juggling outings by myself.

I just feel like it's an endless cycle and that Me Time and Date night are just not that easy to make happen since we don't have family to rely on.

We are going to hire a sitter as soon as we are all well again and we don't care if the girls stay up and cry all night, either. It has to be done. Our last date was February 2007. We need to get out of this house!

But, I'm also going to make Me Time happen this week -- as soon as I feel better.

How about you? How do you make this all happen? What's your secret? Do you have relatives to help you out with either babysitting or errands or cleaning?

Thank you for visiting today.

Did you like this blog post? Please consider subscribing here:

Subscribe in a reader

Friday, January 25, 2008

Simple Math Equations

Or, 10 Things I hate about the past week:

10. A Sleepless night (times 6)
9. Two babies crying, needing held and only one Mama around to do it all day.
8. Vomit (times 4)
7. Runny noses (countless)
6. Coughs that sound like they will become No. 8 (dozens)
5. Sleepy Tantrums in the middle of the night (3)
4. Co-sleeping (times 4)
3. Feeling like my head is being squeezed in a vice due to the cold I caught.
2. An ear infection (times 2)
1. 1 Tsp. of Disgusting Pink Stuff Twice A Day for 10 Days (Times 2)

Thank you for visiting today.

Did you like this blog post? Please consider subscribing here:

Subscribe in a reader

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Full of venom -- a post I may regret

It's been one of those days.

It's been the kind of day that I honestly think to myself that I want to quit this job, this mothering thing. I fantasize how I can escape, how I can beat it.

It's been the kind of day I just want to curl up in a hotel room and sob and hide under the covers and dream of the days that didn't involve throw up and tantrums and half-hour naps and snotty noses and two toddlers crying for an hour straight for no apparent reason.

It's been one of those days when I wonder what I was thinking when I wanted children so badly. It's been one of those days when I wished I didn't have twins.

It's been one of those days when the venom inside me permeates so strongly that I can taste it in my mouth. I can feel it bubbling to the surface. And it all leads back to this: that my mother isn't here to help me. That she will never be here to help me. That she hasn't been here to help me since the first week we came home from the hospital.

I recently told her that I am at peace with this fact. And, every other week but this one, I am. But this has been the kind of week where patience wears thin after night after night of sleepless nights and endless bouts of crying. The pushing and pulling of two toddlers at my clothes, on my legs, in my hair ... the whines and cries of two toddlers in the kitchen, the bathroom, the bedrooms, the living room ... the tug of war over my cell phone, a stuffed animal, a curtain, a chair, a sticker.

It's the kind of week where I resent people. I resent them for not being here to help us. I resent them for missing out on nearly everything in my daughters' lives.

It's been the kind of week where I just want to give up, move far away and change my name and never speak to anyone ever again.

And, if we could sell this house, I might do just that. Not that that would help me get more sleep or help stop the crying -- unless, of course, I move to warm climate where winter and all of the germs it riles up is just a distant memory.

Help a girl out, will ya?

OK. I honestly love all of you. And, now I need your help. Life is so crazy right now as I have landed two GREAT assignments this week for national publications. One was my idea; the other, not so much.

So ...

I need your help.

I already have a nice list started, but I'm curious to hear what you would put on a New Dad's To-Do list. Things already taken: wash bottles, do laundry, change diaper pail, tell mom you love her and that she's doing a good job, bring home chocolate, and take the baby for a walk.

There's plenty more, I know, so I'm curious to hear your thoughts and ... if your answer is unique and interesting, I just might ask to interview you!!

Thanks! Hope you all are having a better day than I am!!

Thank you for visiting today.

Did you like this blog post? Please consider subscribing here:

Subscribe in a reader

Monday, January 21, 2008

You've got double trouble!?

Since this is singlehandedly the No. 1 comment/question I receive as a Mama of twins (I am not alone, I know) I just thought I'd share that I do finally understand why this is uttered so very much.

Because after three days and two illnesses with one child ... I think we're about to do it again, with the other.

Stay tuned. I may need a blogging break this week. I'm sorry. I have a VERY NEW AMAZING, WONDERFUL deadline due along with two others this week and I'm sleep deprived.

Someone send me coffee. Please!

And, chocolate.

Thank you for visiting today.

Did you like this blog post? Please consider subscribing here:

Subscribe in a reader

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Anchored to the earth

The air was so cold this morning that when the wind caught my face I lost my breath for a bit. The breeze stung against my cheeks. My thoughts froze in the moment as I waited for the air to fill back up through my lungs and not hurt.

The sting, though, felt good after a weekend of feeling helpless. First, my own illness that left me dead to the world, and, heartbreakingly, to my daughters. Then, one of them, too, got swept away in a virus that holds no punches.

Her little face pale, her eyes drooped. She'd lift her head to watch her silly sister or crazy father, only to quickly lay it back down again on my chest or my shoulder or my stomach. She'd twitch and turn and flop to get comfortable and then do it all over again in a minute.

I lay anchored to the earth beneath me, praying for her comfort, praying for my stillness to soothe her, praying for my ability to move freely again some day.

She cried. She moaned. She wrestled with the pains of the fever, she tried to take cover from the fierce, animal-like cough that belted out of her little body, and she grew angry at each sliver of fluid that dripped from her nose.

She broke my heart a million times in two days that put playing and food and drink aside to just lay with her Mama.

Tomorrow, dear girl -- tomorrow will be better.

It has to be.

Thank you for visiting today.

Did you like this blog post? Please consider subscribing here:

Subscribe in a reader

Friday, January 18, 2008

Yes, dear girls, winter sucks!


(note the "vintage" snowsuit poor J has to wear ... it was mine when I was a baby.)

Oh, and you aren't really crying about the snow ... just the idea of having to actually wear hats for once!

Thank you for visiting today.

Did you like this blog post? Please consider subscribing here:

Subscribe in a reader

Posted by Picasa

Sick ... very sick

I woke up yesterday not feeling right ... and while I suffered through the morning taking the girls on a very big field trip that meant no break or nap at home, I managed to be OK. Then, at 2, when we got home and they were ready to play, I wasn't. All I could do is lay on the couch and close my eyes.

I made sure to open my eyes often enough to make sure they weren't doing anything too crazy. The house was a wreck and I managed to barely feed them dinner. Standing resulted in me feeling very, very sick to my stomach.

I slept most of the night and am now up, but barely. I am not even well enough to read your comments from yesterday. Boo-hoo!

I am looking forward to your responses, though. And learning more!

Thank you for visiting today.

Did you like this blog post? Please consider subscribing here:

Subscribe in a reader

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

the Art of Coupons

We are not extravagant people by any means. We -- as in I -- like gourmet food, which means I like more costly foods like avocados and goat cheese and parmigiana reggiano. I watched so much Food TV in my single life that I still see mostly repeats of my favorites.

We do not wear expensive clothing or buy expensive anything. In fact, we have deprived ourselves of just about everything we've needed or wanted in the last two years in order to make ends meet. We seriously thought there was no more room in our budget for anything.

Over time, I became miserable just worrying about what we needed and couldn't afford. We know that selling and moving is the No. 1 thing we can do to relieve our situation -- for many reasons, mainly to be closer together during the day.

Our situation is rooted and all aspects are interconnected in ways that are impossible to write easily.

I have always read lots of blogs because I am in love with bloggers of all types. As a writer, I find it inspirational to see other people writing about their life and what they care most about in life. Then again, as a journalist, I dig for people's stories anyway.

The result is that I have been everywhere in the blogosphere. It's where I go first to search for tried-and-true recipes or when I want to watch You Tube with my girls but don't know where to begin. Blogs are the real voice of human beings -- and as a newspaper girl, I can say that with an air of confidence.

During National Blog Posting Month in November, I stumbled upon a blog where the mom said she feeds her family of four on $35 per week. I was dumbfounded. I couldn't believe it.

I am not sure how it happened, but I ended up returning to her site, eventually.

And that is how I "met" Crystal at Money Saving Mom. And she is the reason I am now sold on living a frugal life.

Crystal is a devout Christian. And, while my we -- my husband and I -- do not define ourselves as Christians, I trust Crystal's words and even agree with much of what she has to write about on her Money Saving Mom blog.

What I have learned from Crystal -- and her readers -- is the Art of Coupons. She taught me this first by showing me the ins and outs of CVS Pharmacy. I have since mastered CVS and am now schooling myself in Walgreen's and Rite Aid.

What I learned quickly is that what I was spending on just shampoo and conditioner alone before November is the same amount that I can buy a cart full of items. But, it takes work and planning and ... gasp ... math!

I have spent roughly $30 at CVS for more than $150 worth of stuff in the last two months and our depleted stash of things like toilet paper and toothpaste suddenly are now sitting and waiting to be used. Same with shampoo and conditioner and dish detergent, including for the dishwasher. And, the best part is that if I do everything right, I will rarely have to spend another dime in that store again.

No, actually, the best part is that by learning the ropes of coupons -- the dos and don'ts -- I am now saving roughly 33 percent at other stores as well. Dan did the math.

The tricks are in what you do not know -- what the stores and manufacturers do not tell you.

Here's what I've learned so far: My Top 5 Ways to Save, which is unrelated to my 25 Ways to Save.

1. Collect Coupons: If you see a coupon in the store grab it. You don't need to use it that day or even in that store. Buy one Sunday newspaper for the coupons, but on the really good coupon days buy two and ask friends and relatives for theirs. It's not that difficult once you establish people.

2. Watch for sales: The trick to coupons is mixing manufacturer coupons with store coupons and store sales. So, if Jif Peanut Butter is on sale for .99 and you have a coupon for $1/1 -- free peanut butter. And, in our case, it's the kind we use. You can't beat free peanut butter. Once you see what is on sale this week, build a menu mixing those sale items and what you already have on hand. Oh, and in case you don't know it: You don't really have to buy X number of items to get the sale price. You can just buy one.

3. Push your luck: You have to take risks to save. The stores will not hold your hand so you have to ask questions, dig around, and be adventurous. This means if your store is having a Buy One Get One sale, and you have a Buy One Get One coupon, you will get both items for free. Or, if the sale is buy 3 for $3, you can use 3 coupons making the deal sweeter, or possibly free.

4. Watch for deals online: For Christmas, I got some great deals once I became a convert (ie: dissing the buy generic idea). Inexpensive magazine subscriptions, restaurant gift certificates and even a free tool set for Dan.

5. Sign up for freebies: There are sites all over the Internet offering free things. While they are not usually spectacular, some good ones do show up in the mail now and then. Last week I received a free Coffee-Mate creamer coupon. Our store had them on sale and mixed with another coupon, I got two for .50 cents. The coupons that come along with freebies are often better than the freebies.

Bonus Tip: Get over your brand loyalty. Seriously. Now. This doesn't mean buy things you don't need or want, but it's been worth it to me to try new products and learn that they are, indeed, very good, if not better than what we had been using. In fact, we stumbled upon the best toothpaste after getting it free at CVS. This toothpaste is so good Dan and I were squabbling over whether he could take a tube to work yesterday.

Now, obviously, you're going to have to pay full price for some things if you really want them -- like fresh produce, which I need to be as fresh as possible. But making radical changes like buying a whole pineapple instead of canned makes me feel great and I do think it lasts a bit longer -- or it should, anyway, except that it is so yummy that everyone eats it up quickly.

The bottom line for me is that I'm now schooled in the Art of Coupons. And, like I said, to really see a difference, it takes time -- all day some days and weeks, even, to see a real change in your buying habits. Crystal promises me that it will get easier, though. I'm holding her to that.

What matters most to me, though, is the confidence I now have about money and that is carrying over into the rest of our lives as well.

In my next post, I'll talk about budgeting and meal planning a bit more. These are very hard to do, indeed.

Thank you for visiting today.

Did you like this blog post? Please consider subscribing here:

Subscribe in a reader

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

In which I can't write a blog post

A big part of my problem lately -- and I know you've noticed -- is that my mind is focused elsewhere.

I used to be able to wake up and go through my day and easily sit down and digest it and write about it. That is no longer the case.

Writing got in the way. Professional writing, that is.

Life got in the way. The frugal life, that is.

You see, last November I started handling our family finances. Since I do all of the spending, we realized it made no sense for Dan to handle the money. All along he could tell me we had XX amount in the checking and I would hear him, but then would disregard it and tell him that we needed XY and Z this week. He'd graciously move that money from savings or do whatever and I would get XYZ that week.

Enter: Wake Up Call. By doing the bills myself I see firsthand how little we have to work with -- until we sell this house, anyway. But, it also gives me a weekly project to see just how creative I can get to get what we need and want, without sacrificing our savings.

The truth is that we've been tight -- living on the edge -- for as long as we've been married. When we had less bills and more income, it was tight because we spent too much. Now, with more bills, less income, it's still tight -- and yet we're making it.

What I learned, though, is that as the cook and grocery buyer, I have a lot to do with making it or not making it and everything between. I'm also someone who gets what she wants.

And so in the last two months, I've discovered a world of frugal living. I'm collecting coupons and comparison shopping. Instead of rushing to the nearby newest grocery store that has top of the line everything, I've become an Aldi-lover.

But, all of this is very time consuming. Sundays are now spent searching all store sales for the best deals and clipping coupons and shopping. Meal planning, too, is very important.

And, since I see it working and we're seeing a dramatic change in our outgo, it's become rather addictive. Honestly, I dig getting good deals and, as it turns out, am pretty good at it.

Now, my days are torn between planning toddler activities, making meals, planning pitches to send to magazines, writing for current clients and searching for the latest deals for things we need.

There is so very little time leftover and when there is I'm spent and heading off to bed.

We didn't know when we bought this house that twins were going to come along, which would change our financial outlook completely. We didn't know anything that we know now, which seems like everything. I know it isn't.

But, we know what our values are and where we want to be, which makes it easier to be frugal. We have purpose to save now when in the past we didn't.

So, if you do not hear from me for a day or two, I might be plotting how I can get to the Aquarium or Zoo this summer for cheap because I refuse to give up my lifestyle altogether!

I want to give a great big thanks and hug to Bella for awarding me with a Daily Dose award, which lately I'm sure I do not deserve.

I will bestow this honor on a couple others later this week ... since this laptop isn't as nice to work on than my office computer which is TWO FLOORS UP, people.

And, I will probably surprise you with who I confess my true daily -- or more than daily -- reads really are. I mean, besides the obvious several who get links from me all the time.

Thank you for visiting today.

Did you like this blog post? Please consider subscribing here:

Subscribe in a reader

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Two years ago ...

This was my life:

Thank you for visiting today.

Did you like this blog post? Please consider subscribing here:

Subscribe in a reader

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Birthday wishes

Dear Jadyn and Liana:

As I write this, you are fast asleep after another long, long day of being 1. But, just a few hours after you wake in the morning, you will soon turn 2. Having zero experience with twin 2-year-olds, I am not sure what to expect. I mean, I've heard both that it's a very hard age and that it's not too bad. Either way, I am prepared -- prepared to just sit back and watch you continue your quest to learn -- and turn -- the world inside out.

Jadyn: You continue to be my easy-going girl, though, lately have become a bit attached to my hip. I adore these cuddle sessions most of the time, but you and I both know that your sister needs some Mama time throughout the day.

If knowledge is power then you are going to be one very powerful little girl. You seem to know everything, including things we didn't teach you. You are now repeating nearly everything -- gasp! -- said aloud in your midst. One of your favorite words is butt. I think you say it, at times, 20 times in a row. It is a funny sounding word, though. You also say all gone and awesome, which both sound the same and so I have to listen carefully for the context.

You are very social, too. You think nothing of holding your arms out to a room of children and adults for hugs. You are strong and adventurous, too.

Liana: Is it safe to call you a Mama's girl even though we fight so much? You couldn't be more strong-headed, strong-willed and stubborn and while those traits frustrated me, I understand them immensely. You are not afraid to speak your mind and I know this will land you in some trouble some day. But, you have persistence and I find that to be a key to success.

You are a very thoughtful girl, too. Just this week, at our library playgroup, you experienced playing a real drum and thought it was a wonderful thing to do. So, you ran across the large room and grabbed your sister, who was coloring, and pushed her toward the drum to experience the fun. She indulged your wish. There have been other times, too, when you have shown empathy toward her when she is upset and crying or hurt.

You say many things just like Jadyn, but my favorite word is bonkey. I think you mean blanket, though I know I've heard you use this word in other circumstances. You are a bit more restrained in the outgoing department and then do stand back from other kids when it's time to play. But, you do watch and share and try to get along with others.

The two of you are so lucky to have each other and I see that special bond forming. Honestly, I am envious of it. I hope that your father and I can continue to show you the importance of family and being supportive to each other even as you grow up and lead separate lives. I hope that we can prove early that you have to nurture that sisterly bond your whole life. While being twins is certainly not that rare anymore, it is still very special.

Today, you will open your first present: a playhouse. I hope you create lots of special memories hanging out in it over the next few years. Please do not fight in it. Or over it. Or about it.

In fact, please do not fight at all. It makes me very sad. (and frustrated)

Tomorrow, you will open your second present: An easel. You both love to color and I hope this will inspire you to find your inner artists and create beautiful pieces of art.



Thank you for visiting today.

Did you like this blog post? Please consider subscribing here:

Subscribe in a reader

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Rising

This Friday, around 2 p.m., I will celebrate being a mom for two years. I am going to throw myself a small party during the girls' nap by watching my favorite TV show and drinking a cup of coffee with my mom's yummy biscotti.

I will spend a great deal of time thinking back over the past 24 months. I started new with practically everything in the last two years. With friends. With family. With socializing. With organization. With writing. With not writing. With living. With sleeping. With not sleeping.

Much like when I was in 7th grade and walked into the middle school gym as a new student, wearing my best jeans and spanking new Reeboks ... I have been awkward since becoming Mama. I've walked with my head low, my shoulders slumped and my hair in disarray.

But something has changed in the last few weeks. Something has changed in me. I am different, but in a good way. I am still Mama. I am still frazzled most of the time. But, I am walking more proudly. I feel lighter. I see more clearly.

I am practicing loving-kindness and not even willfully. It's just happening. Perhaps it is influenced by a wonderful book Dan gave me for Christmas called, "Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday," by Thich Nhat Hanh. Some parts of the book make me laugh out loud because it's very obvious this Zen Master hasn't raised twins. But, in spite of it all, his simple words are transcending me into mindfulness almost naturally. I can only assume it has to do with this book. I may be hooked on his wisdom.

I'm being less hard on myself and have caught myself saying the following to myself in times that might have otherwise left me feeling down (hopping on the scale) or negative (will I ever get to leave the house, again?):

"It will be all right."
"It will happen."
"You'll be OK."

I'm trying to be less hard on others as well. My expectations -- visions, really -- of what this life with children would be like was based on movies and novels, not reality. It has taken two years for me to realize it. I am learning that people give only what they can and I should not expect anything at all.

This inner peace could be happening because I'm waking up and meditating and doing yoga instead of rushing into my to-do lists. Perhaps it's because I've been off caffeine.

Perhaps -- just perhaps -- it's because I'm settling into my role as being a mother. Maybe I have found my voice. My self-confidence.

Maybe, I am a mother, Rising.

It could be, too, that I have found my village and see another on the horizon.

Thank you for visiting today.

Did you like this blog post? Please consider subscribing here:

Subscribe in a reader

Sunday, January 6, 2008

One flurry; two storms

It's hard to believe that Jadyn and Liana will turn 2 this Friday. I'm truly just settling into Age 1 and now I must prepare for the next storm of growth and development.

Before church this morning, we walked along one of my favorite trails at a local college. Bordered by Weeping Willows, this path follows a quaint little creek. I love it because it's serene but in the middle of an urban area. In other words, we can get a dose of nature without traveling far from home.

In my heels, ready for church, I walked as my daughters ran. Breeze whipped through their hair as the sunlight hit those strands just right. Smiles were everywhere on their faces.

They still toddle when they run. Their feet sway out to the sides as if they aren't bending their knees very far. I still think it's one of the most adorable things they do -- of course, it's always when they are running free and wild and crazy. Times like those I'm hardly needed. Times like those are so very rare as they have both become clingy and attached at all hours of the day and night.

After church service, someone asked us, "So, is it getting any easier?"

The short answer is that it has in a way, but in many ways it's still very hard. It's hard to get up each day knowing that at at least one point in the day two babies are going to want to be held and cuddled and that one will, ultimately, have to be put on hold or told not right now.

My answer to the question, though, is very true.

We're stronger. We have survived. And it has been the hardest, yet most thrilling two years of our lives.

On Saturday, we will celebrate this highest achievement of reaching Age 2.

Cupcake, anyone?

Thank you for visiting today.

Did you like this blog post? Please consider subscribing here:

Subscribe in a reader

Thursday, January 3, 2008

In a word(s)

Words around here right now are very important. Just today I learned that Jadyn and Liana knew how to say "Wall." As in ... Jay-Jay hit her head on the wall and got a boo-boo. (Not fun for a girl who we suspect is getting an ear infection.)

Each day more and more words come to life and I'm truly flabbergasted with the amount of knowledge Dan and I have taught these future American female leaders. Not just words, but pictures and concepts, too. I guess I hadn't realized kids were this smart at (almost) 2.

Which makes me realize that I need to be on my best behavior ... even when they both cry incessantly like they did this morning.

After gazillions of written drafts in my life, handfuls of jobs, failed relationships, and mountains of mistakes I can truly look into their eyes and see perfection. Finally, I got something right. Finally.

Is it possible to give these girls the world without spoiling them? Without ruining them? Without setting them up for failure? For disappointment?

If 2008 is the Year of the Writing then this year's word has to be even more meaningful. But, surprisingly, it's not going to be about writing at all.

Or, perhaps that isn't surprising. What might be less shocking is that I can't choose just one, but instead, have to have a theme of words.

My words for 2008 (hereby called the Three Cs):


Thank you for visiting today.

Did you like this blog post? Please consider subscribing here:

Subscribe in a reader

2008 -- The Year of Writing

2003 -- The Year of the Wedding
2004 -- The year of Infertility
2005 -- The year of Pregnancy
2006 -- The year of Twinfants
2007 -- The year of Staying Home

And now, 2008, the year of writing and becoming a woman, again.

Goals for 2008


Write 2,000 words a week in my already-started novel. I just want to finish this sucker. It's been on my plate for 10 years. One might say that it wasn't meant to be ... or that if I had it in me to finish, I would have by now. But, I am one to know when something isn't going to work out and I just can't put this away. The timing has never been right ... and it never will be. I know that now. I just have to make it work. I'm not dedicating any time of day or week to write ... only that by Sunday night at 6 p.m. I better have written 2,000 words that week. I will keep a log. Marta is nagging me anyway so unless I want her emails to be moot -- which would be wasting her precious sweet energy -- I better get cracking. Thanks, Marta!

My second goal, related to the first, is to actually write the book proposal. I'd like to make this a goal to meet by Spring so that I can start sending it out ASAP. Plus, I read that writing the proposal is a great way to get the book's outline sealed nice and tight. I think I could use that exercise.

Third goal: One idea and one publication at at a time. I have a tendency to jump in with both feet to everything before checking out the waters first. My head is filled with more ideas than it could ever possibly execute. This is a serious problem for me. It also affects my mothering, my marriage, my inner peace. My mind is seriously like a movie in fast forward. The only thing that helps is meditation and I do not do that nearly enough, though I am making that a goal for this year -- a personal goal. Anyway, by giving myself only a goal of breaking into one national magazine this year (not counting any that I've already broken into), I am alleviating myself of that constant need to find the perfect fit for me. If something comes along and I have the time, the energy and it won't affect my mothering skills, then sure I'll jump on it. I have four magazines with great contacts right now ... my goal is to find that fifth this year -- but only once I've worked hard on the four that I have now. By July, I think I will be ready to start on that fifth one. No pressure before then. After all, my job is to be Mama and that does still come first. But, in the fall the girls will start pre-school, I suppose. That will ideally free up some time to do some writing in the coffee shop down the street, right?

Fourth goal: I've had an idea for an e-zine for months now and I've not done much about it. The topic is very dear to me and while there are some publications out there like it, none are quite the same. So, I am giving myself a goal to start up this ezine this year. It will be free, but with advertising sponsors. And many of you will totally dig it, I'm sure.

Finally, I have a children's books series idea that came to me last spring when I was searching for something to read to Jadyn and Liana. There isn't anything like it on the market -- that I have found -- and I do think it would be popular. My goal here is to write the book proposal since it is less about writing and more about collecting.

Personal goals

I'm quitting coffee. Thanks to a cold I've been off of it now for a week or more. I don't mean none ... I mean I'm not going to only get out of bed to get that first sip anymore. I've known for a while that that addiction is more emotional than needed. Half the time I don't even drink caffeinated. Instead, I want to wake up and do yoga and meditate. I'm going to follow with a nice cup of tea. Then, when my second job starts at nap time, I am allowing myself that nice cup of coffee, which I find helps me get through the afternoon better anyway. By doing this, I think I will save calories, eat a better breakfast and save money. I will be drinking one cup, not two, a day and some days perhaps none at all. We'll see how long this lasts.

I want to drop our grocery, gas and other miscellaneous expenses by 50 percent. I will talk more about this in a future post, but I am doing some serious research in this area and have learned that I have more power than I think over these non-bill areas. It's not a matter of over spending; it's a matter of taking extra steps to buy what you need. This includes living frugally and, as I discovered, frugal doesn't have to mean cheap. Once we move to the new house -- assuming that happens this year -- I will have learned some valuable money-saving techniques from this crisis that will continue to help us finally start to save again.

This is going to be like 2003 for me. It's going to be the year I lost weight. By using Weight Watchers, I lost 45 pounds before our wedding. But, staying home with the girls and not being very active and eating too much (though half the time my lunch is bread crusts and what the girls do not eat), I have gained most of that back. I still cannot afford a health club membership, but I do have videos, including Yoga, Cardio and walking. I hope to buy a yoga and kids DVD this month to get the girls participating because they do love them some Yoga poses. Still, I have to do more than that because I know they will not always give me that daily 20 minutes. My goal is to get up and work out each morning with one of these tapes and then hopefully do yoga once or twice a week with them as well as once on Saturday mornings with my yoga class. In the spring and summer and fall, I walk a lot so I will need to start watching my food intake before then. My goal is to drop 30 pounds by August 18. I will talk more about how I'm doing this for free on my other blog.

Building a budget: One thing about not having any money ... it's really hard to budget. Things pop up and suddenly there's nothing left. The needs pile up on top of one another. Thankfully, I have been earning some income over the last year or else we would have had to foreclose on our mortgage by now. That income has been essential. But, as we start to lower our daily expenses, we are finding a very small amount of wiggle room. That means that each month has to be precisely calculated. No extras -- like that rug I just bought over the weekend -- can be bought. Even if it means a house less than perfect goes on the market once again. The budget must work and I need to find balance between buying what we need right now and buying what we are going to need soon.

Meditate: I have to do this for my sanity. I am so preoccupied with the future that I have a very hard time settling down and just loving this minute I'm in. I know I am not alone; that many humans do this. I'm just trying to take control.

Tend my garden of friends around the globe: I do have a friend nearby who I neglected to mention last week in my funk. She's a mom of twins who are about the same age. Our schedules are a little different but close enough to make regular playdates work. I have some other good friends from this blog and my hope is to really build on those this year. I mean more than a blog post ... establishing friendships and maybe even, gasp!, talk on the phone!

Thank you for visiting today.

Did you like this blog post? Please consider subscribing here:

Subscribe in a reader

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Here me roar!

Enough of that sad stuff around here ... getting up, dusting off and moving on. OK?

Now, this year is a big year for me. When I graduated from college, ehem, 11 years ago, I had goals. Yes, I had me some very big goals.

My main goal was to write for magazines.

But, to get published in magazines, I needed to have published clips. You know ... that lovely Catch-22 that plagues writers daily around the globe.

So, to get published, I thought I'd try freelancing for my local newspaper. In a meeting with the editor about that he offered me a job. A full-time job. Um, he wasn't even hiring. He saw something in me, he said later.

So, I became a reporter, and a pretty good one at that. I won awards. I climbed the reporting ranks and soon found my way to a bigger newspaper, where I would eventually meet Da!, also a newspaper person. It does take one to know one.

I quickly grew to love reporting and writing and uncovering people's stories. So many of those stories molded me into the person I am today, actually.

They led me to this peak where I stand daily with my personal beliefs on faith, spirituality, humanity, politics, economics, and sociology. To witness the things I did as a young woman, to sit down and grieve along side complete strangers whose relative or friend just died time and again taught me early about what matters most in life. More than the Bible could. More than any self-help book could. More than any preacher could.

I have built a life -- married a man and mothering two daughters -- made of principals built on the shoulders of real human beings who know tragedy, heartbreak, survival, discrimination, fear and contentment. Without those people -- all of them -- I would not be the person I am today.

Trust your marriage. Love. Follow your passions. Live for the here and the now because tomorrow IS NOT guaranteed. For God's sake, do not judge. Do not compare. Accept people's differences. Respect people's personal beliefs. Wear your seat belt. Don't speed. Don't drink and drive. Don't do drugs. Have faith in yourself.

Now, as 2008 calls out to us to start fresh, I will finally see my name in magazines. Not just one. Not just two -- but, a handful or more. These will be small bylines; hardly a blip in the national publishing scene.

But, they will be stepping stones for this next chapter in my life. I can't imagine whose shoulders I will lean on for guidance as I walk this new path.

Tomorrow: My writing resolutions for 2008.

Thank you for visiting today.

Did you like this blog post? Please consider subscribing here:

Subscribe in a reader