Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Clean house, clean heart

I read a book as a girl that talked about cleaning the house in preparation for Easter Sunday. I love that idea. It always makes sense to clean before the holidays, but for more superficial reasons, like having a nice clean house for company or for holiday activities. The idea of cleaning the house in order to welcome Jesus, resurrected, is really beautiful to me.

Since we have two little kids, it feels like our house is constantly being cleaned, yet is never actually clean. As with many things, I'm choosing not to aim for absolute perfection...well, let's be honest. In my head, there are glowing visions of a perfect, sparkling clean house, with shining floors and immaculate furniture. In actuality, I'm going to sweep and mop all the floors, the kitchen, the bathroom, and the bedrooms. Our house is small, and it shouldn't take too long. It probably means that a lot of things will end up camping out in the garage for a couple of days, but that's okay too. I count the garage (and its non-see-through door) among our many blessings right now, because we have never had that much storage space in our lives and it's awesome. One of these days we might even decide to put the car in there! But for now, it helps life in a little house feel cozy and sane. So in any spare time I have over the next few days, that's what I'll be doing! Maybe you'd like to join me?

There are a lot of things that I love about Lent and the preparation for Easter, but the idea of cleaning one's heart, and more visibly one's home, is one of my favorites. My heart is nowhere near as clean as it ought to be to deserve such a sacrifice, but that's just another reason to love Jesus all the more. 

I'll probably post once or twice more before Sunday, but I'm going to try and take as much time as possible to focus my heart where it needs to be this Holy Week. I hope you are all enjoying your preparation for the Easter season! 

What traditions does your family carry out for Holy Week and Easter?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Emily and Erin's 9 Month Update: Twins on the move

Erin-left, Emily-right. It's hard to get a still picture of both girls at once!
Emily and Erin are 9 months old! Well, actually, they are 9 months and one week, but let's not get too technical. In the past month, they've become very mobile and extremely curious about the world, and they've started to seem more and more like toddlers instead of babies. They're constantly exploring our house, and everything fascinates them. Everything goes in their mouth, and I mean everything. Erin even tried to eat a snail that found its way into the living room via our step-stool (stored in the garage). Other notable "snacks" include jewelry, especially the cross and medal I have around my neck, and the edge of our laptop. I'd chalk it up to teething, but they seem to have definite preferences when it comes to teething. I wish I knew the brand of their favorite teething rings because they are awesome - they are shaped like an apple and a strawberry, and they are safe, soft plastic that can be chilled for baby's comfort. Emily cut 4 more teeth right around their 9 month birthday, so we've been using her strawberry a lot! If you've got a teething little one of your own, these and these are very similar to what we have - I think they're the same but I don't remember the package.

When I came home from work on Saturday, all of their "baby furniture" was in the garage - they wouldn't stop climbing it, so Dan removed it. Pulling up and climbing is their newest trick. Emily pulled herself up on the edge of the bathtub about three weeks ago, and Erin followed suit a few days later. They love the bathtub for standing because it's the perfect height. I don't love it so much because there's nothing soft for them to land on underneath, but they're not really interested in my opinion right now. Their other new mobility is on the changing table - they seem bound and determined to escape. Distraction sometimes will work, but you have to be quick either way. I can't decide if it's easier to work with cloth or disposable diapers when your baby is trying to escape - on the one hand, you have speed on your side with the disposable, but the cloth diaper has weight and doesn't slide away as easily. Either way, we're using disposables full time right now, so I have to work on my positioning skills to keep the diaper where it belongs during the change.
Playing with Mommy's pots and pans to try and keep them from climbing in the cupboards - distraction is key!

First night of big girl jammies! Erin-left, Emily-right. They love them, but it's been too cold for anything for footie pajamas lately.
Size wise, we had their 9 month checkup last week and both girls are still growing well. Emily is now the smaller baby by a significant amount, which is surprising only because she was an inch longer and a pound heavier at birth. She is just over 17 lbs now and 27 1/2 inches long. Erin is a whopping 18 lbs 10 oz and just over 28 inches long. She has tripled her birthweight and then some! It's really impressive to see how big they've gotten, especially when it comes to length. Truthfully, they are not very heavy (only around the 20th-30th percentile) but they are in the 60th percentile for height. The pediatrician says that tall and thin is a good thing, so not to worry.

Emily's favorites: singing, cuddles with Mommy, pointing at everything with her index finger, eating out of a spoon, playing with the spray from the shower head at bath time, chewing on rubbery toys, riding in the swing at the park, talking to her sister
Erin's favorites: eating everything but peaches, having her hair blown on or blowing in the wind, crawling, climbing in cupboards, climbing on the coffee table, the Xbox controller, playing with noisy toys, smearing food on her tray, holding things we're holding, riding in the swing at the park, talking to her sister, taking Emily's toys away (we're working on that last one!)
Holding the Costco bottle of ranch was the highlight of her day-  or maybe the week!

Monday, March 25, 2013

What I Wore Sunday: Palm Sunday Edition

Cardi: Target
Blouse: Ralph Lauren (thrifted)
Jeans: Citizens (thrifted)
Boots: Anne Klein
I'll keep this short, since it's taken me until Monday to get it written, but we had a pretty great Mass experience today. We went to the parish we'd attended most of our lives instead of the Newman Center today, and it was really crowded at 11am (probably due to the NCAA basketball game the night before...funny how that works). We got there a little late because we had to park a few blocks away. Loaded down with the diaper bag, Erin in the Ergo, and Emily in Dan's arms in a blanket, we found ourselves standing in a corner outside the sanctuary. After the first two readings, two girls politely offered us their seats on one of the pews for families with little kids, and we found ourselves sitting next to another young mom with a school age daughter and a son we found out to be just a month older than Emily and Erin. It was a really refreshing change from being one of only two or three couples with children at Mass on a weekly basis, and I felt like we had an easier time focusing because I didn't worry every time one of the girls started to talk - there was plenty of ambient baby noise around us! I've never felt shunned for bringing our babies to Mass wherever we've gone, but I've felt a little self-conscious for the amount of chattering they've done lately.

I got to use my Laudate app during Mass to follow along with the Gospel reading - I still can't believe it's free! The story of Christ's Passion always moves me, but trying to follow along from the very back with a baby girl trying desperately to climb out of the Ergo and go make friends with the little boy next to us meant I had to see the words to keep my focus. Of course, as soon as I got my phone out, Erin's attention shifted to the phone and how she could get her chubby fingers on it. "Ahd! Ahd!" (I'm pretty sure this is baby for "want! want!"). I had to sit on my phone before the end of the Gospel to keep her from throwing a full-on fit. I suppose that's my fault, though! Emily and Erin traded parents mid way through Mass, and Erin got to practice standing with Daddy while Emily played with my necklace. We had to hide our palm fronds from the girls, too, but it was worth it - we have some pretty little palm crosses now! Yesterday's lesson was, once again, that we should leave about 15 minutes earlier than it seems like we'd need to. Point taken. We'll be going to 7:30 am Easter Mass, so...we'll be getting up very early! Overall, I'd give Emily and Erin both an A- for Mass behavior, and a gold star to the girls who gave us their seats.

I'm linking up with Fine Linen and Purple for What I Wore Sunday! Thanks for hosting, Emily and Kendra!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

7 Quick Takes, Volume 35: Nine months, sadness, humility, and YOLO

Thanks to Jen for hosting!

--- 1 ---
Emily and Erin are 9 months old! I have yet to get a picture of them with the "9" stickers on their chest. This is for a few reasons: I put off laundry this week so we didn't really have anything cute clean, we've had lots of appointments and work, and it's just hard to get them to be still and pose for a picture. I know, I know. I'll do it tomorrow (well, today for most of you reading this, probably!) along with a whole lot of other things that need doing. I love having these month by month shots, so any effort is well worth it!
--- 2 ---
On a sadder note, Dan's grandpa passed away this week. I'm so glad he had a chance to meet Emily and Erin this past summer. We were very blessed to have the time with him that we did. It's hard to think about our time on earth as temporary, and to realize that we do not know the number of days we have with those we love and care about. There are so many sayings to this effect: "live every day as if it were your last", "live as if there were no tomorrow", and the current favorite, YOLO. That last one isn't my favorite, for obvious reasons, but it's a good point. We miss you, Grandpa Sam, and we know you're smiling down on us.
--- 3 ---
I haven't watched much TV lately, which is a switch from the past year. I spent most of my pregnancy with activity limits, so I found myself on the couch watching TV a lot. I don't know that it was a bad thing - I learned a ton about cooking! - but it wasn't a good habit. I don't like feeling as though the TV is always on and a part of everyday life. Emily and Erin love to watch "Sesame Street" and other toddler shows, so it's fun to treat them sometimes when I really need to keep them in one place (see #4).   This change is certainly for the better overall, but it's still fun to relax (um, collapse) and watch TV.  I just don't do it very often anymore!
--- 4 ---
Erin and Emily are constantly on the move these days. If they're on the floor, they are crawling and exploring the house. If they are sitting in their high chairs, they're smacking the trays and trying to stand. If they're anywhere near a shelf or the coffee table, they're pulling themselves up to get things that look interesting. Their favorite pull-up spot is the edge of the bathtub - it must be just the right height. They stand and stare at the baby tub or at sister splashing in the bath. The bathmat is a terrible landing area, though, so I'm careful with that one. Hey, at least I know my girls love bathtime!
--- 5 ---
We got a baby gate this week, which has completely changed our life. Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but...maybe not! Knowing that Emily and Erin are confined to one part of the house, without the aid of furniture, is pretty awesome. Cooking still makes me nervous, so I try to make sure they're in their high chairs when I'm making dinner. Trying to keep your kids safe is definitely a full time job once they get moving on their own!
--- 6 ---
I'm really bummed about Google Reader going away, but I just downloaded the Bloglovin' app and I'm pretty happy so far. It sends me a summary email of all new blog posts every night, and it let me import all of the awesome blogs I was following through Google! I need to add Bloglovin' to my blog - after we do the 9 month picture tomorrow. Priorities!
--- 7 ---
I'm still very much in awe of Pope Francis' humility. I never imagined a pope, or even a bishop, who would travel by public bus and eschew the finer things that come with such a position. Growing up, I occasionally took the bus. We live in a smaller city, and I grew up in a walkable neighborhood, so we walked a lot. I tended to avoid the bus because of inconvenience - unless it was really raining hard, it was often faster to walk. When I moved to Portland for my first year of college, I didn't have a car and I took the bus all the time, to all kinds of places. I know many people, however, who have hardly ever (or never!) taken the bus and really look down on it. Obviously, in many other countries, access to private transportation is much more limited, but taking the bus is still a mark of a humble man. Truly humbling ourselves to live as God wills us to is an important step of a Christian life - we are very blessed to have such a wonderful example in Pope Francis.

Have a great Palm Sunday weekend, everyone!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Thoroughly Thankful Thursday: Pope Francis Edition

For the last few weeks, the eyes of the world have been on the Church. This is a change, to be sure. There are over a billion Catholics in the world, but there generally isn't much attention given to the Church on a day to day basis. Turning on the news this week to live reports from Vatican City was pretty awesome! 

This morning, those news reports were extra special. In case you've been living under a rock for the last 24 hours, the conclave of Cardinals chose Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina as the new Pope. This all happened just as I was leaving for work yesterday, so I missed the live telecast for the most part. Thanks to Catholic radio, I did get to hear the new Pope's first blessing. Emily and Erin got to watch the whole thing with their grandma. I'm so thankful for all this modern technology. Imagine how special it would be to actually stand in St. Peter's Square for a new Pope's first blessing. Thankfully, since most of us will never get to do that, there's TV to take us there. That's the first thing I'm thankful for today.

The second is my baby girls, who are doing more "big girl" things every day. We just replaced their infant car seats with toddler seats this week. I installed them by myself (just a little mama pride here!) and I can already tell a difference. Instead of gymnastics and cajoling to get the girls strapped in and the seats snapped in, I just have to put them in and fasten the straps. They love the new seats, especially Erin, who was on the verge of being too tall for her old seat. There is a certain amount of convenience associated with infant seats, being able to take them in and out of the car and snap them into strollers and grocery carts, but we found a new fold-up stroller that will take the place of our carseat stroller frame. As for the grocery carts, both girls sit up reasonably well on their own now, so I have a seat cover for one to sit in the cart and then I can use the Ergo to carry the other. After yesterday, I don't think Erin will be the one riding in the Ergo - she spent the whole time pushing up to a stand on my hips. We were only at the store for about half an hour, but she was very irritated that she couldn't see where we were going like Emily could. If we'd been there any longer, I'm sure there would have been a meltdown!
First ride in their big-girl carseats!

We went to the park and tried out the toddler swings earlier this week, too. Though both girls were more or less dwarfed by the seats, they had a lot of fun swinging. Erin loves having her hair blowing (a lá convertible commercials) so that was her favorite part. Emily just liked to swing back and forth and didn't seem too excited about her hair blowing. (To be honest, she doesn't have that much hair yet, but she does seem to be getting a little more every day!) 

The distance between the swings made it hard to get a closeup, but both girls had a great time!
The third thing I'm thankful for today is the fantastic weather we've had this last week. It's finally warmed up, and we've had some really spring-y days with highs close to 70 degrees! It's supposed to cool off and start raining today (after all, it is Oregon) but it still feels like spring. I love it. It's been great to have lots of time outside with Emily and Erin. I'm excited for weather like this all the time soon! 

Now it's your turn. What are you thankful for? Share in the comments or link to your post below!