The Last Day of the First Year

It’s hard to identify exactly when a journey begins, but in my mind Avery and Lily started being born on December 27, 2011. They weren’t physically ushered into this world until a few weeks after that, but the process got kicked off just after Christmas. Fraternal twins are usually in separate amniotic sacs, as was the case with mine. Avery was located “closer to the door,” and Lily was riding high, just beneath my rib cage. On that fateful day in December, Avery decided it was time to break her water and get the party started for real. I was admitted to the hospital, thankful that I was not in actual labor, but devastated that I would be confined to Memorial Hermann’s antepartum wing until I delivered. The doctor informed me that I could stay in that state for up to a month unless I spontaneously went into labor, developed an infection, either baby showed signs of distress, or, God forbid, Avery stuck a hand or foot out. Why they would tell me that was a possibility is beyond comprehension. That thought plagued me for weeks. Even worse, every time I mentioned it to a nurse, hoping to be assuaged of my fear, she would then spout off about some case that she had witnessed in which that very thing had happened! All of you medical professionals out there, I’m not saying you should lie, but you should really gauge how much truth a patient can take! Of course, Lily was blissfully unaware of the shenanigans her sister had pulled, and she floated comfortably until she was rudely removed from my womb by the on call OBGYN in the wee hours of the morning.

Knowing that the last weeks of my pregnancy would be spent trapped in a hospital room was utterly depressing. I cried and cried. I was so looking forward to Noel’s and my last days as just the two of us. I have a strong need to honor passages of time and acknowledge when one chapter of life is closing. Noel and I would be forever changed the day our babies were born, and I so wanted us to cherish those days of being somewhat carefree, even though I was looking forward immensely to being a mom. Noel tried and tried to comfort me, reassuring me that staying in the hospital was for the best since my pregnancy had been so difficult.

New Year’s Eve of 2011 will go down in my memory as one of my most fun New Year’s Eves ever. No, we did not break out of the hospital for a wild night out on the town. I didn’t even get to go have dinner in the hospital cafeteria, since I wasn’t allowed to leave my room and risk exposure to infection. Noel got us each a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, chocolate chip cookie dough for me, and we watched silly reality TV shows until after midnight. We sat with his arm around me and my head on his shoulder in that sterile hospital room and celebrated our last New Year’s Eve as just the two of us. He slept over on the luxurious hospital cot in my room so we could be together to ring in the new year.

Today is New Year’s Eve of 2012. I can guarantee that we will not be having some wild night out on the town. We probably won’t even stay up until midnight. We will tuck our little angels into bed, watch silly TV shows, draw goofy pictures for each other on Draw Something, and talk about how we have the two most beautiful children in the world. Sounds to me like this year’s will replace last year’s as my favorite New Year’s Eve.

Lily

Avery

Christmas Day Pictures

Sisters

Avery and Lily are 11 ½ months old. I cannot believe this year is almost over, and we’re about to celebrate their first birthdays. They are about as fun as two barrels full of monkeys! Lily is pulling up on everything and can stand for a long time. She doesn’t mind taking a tumble and getting right back up. She loves to clap.  She claps her hands; she claps her hand and foot; she claps her hand and tummy; she claps her hand and head. It works out well because Avery loves applause! Avery is more judicious with her clapping. She will clap twice, and then she looks at you as if she’s waiting for you to applaud her applause. Avery will stand with assistance but resents it. Avery uses her feet as a second pair of hands, so standing on them just seems wrong to her. She has mastered the art of rolling and scooting and prefers no other means of transport. She can roll while holding toys; she can roll over large objects and people, namely Lily; she can push off the walls, furniture, or any person or object and spin herself in any direction she chooses.

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Avery and Lily have also learned to work as a team. Their favorite activity is raiding the changing table. Avery is relegated to searching the bottom shelf, while Lily ransacks the second shelf. Lily generously drops everything down to Avery after she has inspected it. The result is usually diapers strewn throughout the room. Lily also retrieves their pacifiers and will distribute them to herself and her sister. Avery also likes opening the door of their wardrobe, with her feet, and will remove all of their shoes. She likes to lay amidst a pile of their Mary Janes and Converse. What can I say? She loves shoes, like mother like daughter.

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Until last night, neither child has ever been sick. It’s almost miraculous that we’ve gotten this far without any colds, stomach viruses, rashes, etc. At 1 AM, Avery “presented” with a stuffy nose. Noel and I sprang into action. Noel deftly wielded the nasal aspirator to remove the boogies from Avery’s nose, and then he set up the Vicks vaporizer in the nursery. My job was to restrain Avery while her daddy siphoned the snot from her nose, and then I got to snuggle and rock her. Frankly, I enjoyed that snuggling, because Avery has never been much of a snuggler. She likes to be held but wants to talk and play. Lily has always been our cuddle bug. While all the commotion was going on, Lily pulled up on the side of her crib so she could see the action. Once I settled in the rocking chair with Avery, she plopped back down.

As I rocked Avery, I got to experience one of the more precious moments of my life. Avery and Lily called out to each other. This may sound strange, but it reminded me of whale songs. Avery started it by calling out in a kind of moan that followed a repetitive cadence of one long note then a short, lower note. She repeated the sound over and over again. After Avery had made about three of these sounds, Lily joined in with her own sound; it was five short, low notes then a pause. They kept this up for a minute or two, briefly pausing then Avery beginning it again, each calling out in her own intonation. It was amazing to hear one sister calling out and the other sister reassuring her. I know Avery felt comfort in my arms, with her little hand over my heart, but I know she found comfort, too, in the sound of Lily’s sympathetic tones.

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25 Years Ago

It was twenty-five years ago today that the most definitive event of my life occurred.  I was seven years old, and I had brain surgery.  I had a tumor that had caused me to stop growing for about two years.  I was the same size in the second grade as in kindergarten.  I developed piercing headaches that would wrack my tiny body.  The memory still burns brightly in my mind: writhing on my parents’ bed with a cold cloth on my face, certain that I was dying, my mother sitting  next to me silently, helplessly.  I may have been a little girl, but even I knew something was terribly wrong.

The tumor was removed.  The surgery left me with a non-functioning Endocrine system, a 40% loss of my visual fields, the loss of my sense of smell, and my life.  Through the years I’ve wondered what I would be like if none of this had happened to me.  Who would I be now?  Surely the trauma, the lifelong medical problems, shaped who I am physically and emotionally.  What would I look like? Act like? Feel like?

People find solace in the idea that everything happens for a reason.  Honestly, I do not believe that, no more than I believe that God causes bad things to happen to us.  I do believe with every fiber of my being that God can take any situation and use it for good.

I do not know what I would be like if I’d never had a brain tumor, but I do know that I am blessed with a loving husband, two beautiful daughters, and a body that lets me live the life of my dreams.  Surviving a medical crisis is part of the tapestry of my life, a thread that can neither be extracted nor ignored, as it was the point at which the path of all future events was determined.  This one thread combines, woven together with thousands of other experiences, to form a picture of grace, love, and joy.

I was at least a head shorter than all of the other girls.

I was at least a head shorter than all of the other girls.

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Nine Months

Happy Halloween from

Strawberry Shortcake & Rainbow Brite


It’s almost impossible to believe that Avery and Lily are 9 months old.  They are at such a fun age.  They are working on crawling and sitting up by themselves.  They are experts at rolling and can get across any room in a flash.  They both have two teeth on the bottom; however, Lily seems to be cutting her top canine teeth before her top front teeth.  That seems odd to me, but I don’t get any say in which teeth come in at what times!  They are babbling all the time and have conversations with each other.  Avery says “Da Da,” and Lily says “Ma Ma.”  It really is hilarious.  They love those soft, squishy books for babies, but Avery is constantly stealing Lily’s even if they both have their own.  Avery has also learned how to fake cough and fake laugh (see video at the bottom).  Lily has perfected the no-handed back bend by arching her entire body off of the floor, only supported by the top of her head and her toes.

Every single day I am blessed by what God has given us.  I feel like I repeat myself, but I am still blown away by the birth and lives of these babies.  I look at their faces and see tangible evidence of God’s goodness.  Then I look in the mirror and see another example of God’s goodness.  Not only did God bring these babies into this world through my body, He has restored me to some of the best physical health of my adult life.  God took me from a bed in the ICU to totally healthy in less than a year.  Only by His grace,  I am able to take care of two babies full time, keep our home in decent order, complete hour-long aerobics classes, go to work at my office (even if it is just one day a week), and stay pretty much on top of the laundry.  Praise God for that!  Of course having twins is hard work, but I can feel God using them and this experience to shape me on a daily basis.  I surely do feel like I’m in the fire sometimes, but I try to remember that the junk has to get burned off somehow.

Zechariah 13:9 

And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God.

An Uncomfortable Truth

Sorry but this post is not about the antics of Avery and Lily. I could fill volumes about their smiles, and teething, and crawling attempts, and waving. I feel that I have a message that I need to share.  I’m actually hesitant to post this and do not know how it will be received. I got out of bed at midnight to write this down, because I feel it is that important and frankly the Lord isn’t going to let me sleep otherwise.

Sometimes a very simple truth is not simple at all, but fathomlessly deep. I feel like God was forcing me to open my eyes to just such a truth yesterday.

Yesterday afternoon, some of my relatives came over for a visit. One of them is a cousin whom I haven’t seen since we were small children. We’re about the same age, and she is married with three young children. They are missionaries to Amsterdam. Her precious children led us in prayer in Dutch! She later explained that they reach out to the Northern African population in their area. Immediately, my heart said, “Not them!” It was like my mind was saying to shut down that train of thought fast. Once everyone had left, I let the thought come back up and realized that I had to follow it down the rabbit hole.

When I moved to Belgium, I realized that there was a large population of Moroccans in the city where I lived. I had no prior knowledge of this people group but quickly learned that they were particularly antagonistic towards Americans. Upon arriving to Belgium, I chose a charming townhouse in the shadow of an immense Gothic cathedral. I envisioned a European lifestyle in which I could walk to restaurants, parks, stores, and the like. What became my reality was that almost every time I ventured out alone after dark, I would get harassed by groups of Moroccan men. There was hardly a time I walked home from a dinner with friends that I didn’t get insults hurled at me. Let me be clear, Americans stand out. You can dress head to toe in European clothing, but we stick out from a mile away. It’s the way we walk, the way we interact with others, our facial expressions, everything. I ended up moving out of the downtown area to a village because the harassment had escalated to the point where I no longer felt safe. One evening, I was watching “The Amazing Race” at a friend’s apartment, another single American woman. When I headed home, a group of half a dozen Moroccan men started following me and yelling threatening insults. They followed me until I made the final turn to my front door. I truly feared that the harassment would go past hateful words. I’m American, but I speak French so I understood exactly what they were saying to me.

As I let my mind explore what was bothering me about my cousin’s mission field, I felt like God was leading me towards a profound truth that I thought I knew. Jesus didn’t only die for me. Obviously, He didn’t die specifically for Americans. He didn’t only die for the refugees of the Sudan. He didn’t just die for the little girls in Chinese orphanages. Just as much as He died for those people and me, He died for that angry, anti-American, anti-woman, anti-Christian, 25 year old Muslim. As I was embracing that truth, it was like God said to me, “That’s good, but you have to go a little further.” The word “deserve” came to my mind. I cringe now just recording it. I really thought, deep down, that that Moroccan man doesn’t deserve Jesus. Then God pushed me that one last step. Do I think I deserve Him? I wanted to turn away from that thought. I felt myself saying, “God, don’t show me this ugliness that is inside me.” But like cauterizing a wound, I realized I had to see it and acknowledge what is really there. Just as there is no mission field more deserving than another, I do not deserve Christ and His sacrifice. As painful as it was for me to see the evil within me, I rejoice in my God for saving me from it.

My dad is teaching on the 3rd chapter of John in his class at Bible Way Baptist Church and thankfully we’ve had time to discuss it over the past week. Sometimes we have to let the power of a familiar verse be renewed in our hearts.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

I thank God that He loves the whole world, and I praise Him for the pronoun whosoever. None is deserving, but all are accepted.

Questions

 

I must come across as a very approachable person. Every time I leave the house with the twins, at least one total stranger will approach me and ask a very personal, somewhat impertinent question. Below are some of the best, or worst, depending how you look at it. Keep in mind these are strangers approaching me in public places!

Are they natural twins?

I quickly realized that the real question here is did you conceive these kids the old fashioned way or were they created in a lab. Now, I don’t make it a habit of asking complete strangers for the stories of their children’s conception, so I find this a very strange question. Luckily, I’ve hit upon a great response. I don’t answer yes or no; I simply say with a smile, “My mom is a twin.” This reply completely satisfies the questioner, who inevitably responds, “So twins run in your family.” It, somehow, makes them look at Avery and Lily as if they are more authentic twins than if I had done IVF. What an interesting issue for our day and age!

Are you breastfeeding them?

Wow, is this ever a hot button issue!! What I love is the reaction when I say that the babies take formula. It’s always, “but they look so health!” It’s Similac folks, not arsenic. I do not intend to debate the benefits of nursing, but to think that baby formula is somehow damaging to a child is just nonsense. Avery and Lily are 8 months old and have never been sick. NEVER.  A few months ago, I caught a raging stomach virus. Noel came down with it the next day, and my mom got it two days later since she had been over to help us. Neither baby caught it. They are above the 30th percentile in size on the full term growth scale, not the preemie growth scale! As far as breastfed babies being more intelligent than formula fed babies, well, I think it has more to do with the mom’s brain than her breasts. Anyway, I’m not out to dissuade anyone from nursing or to seek validation because my babies take formula. I just wish people would get fired up about real issues instead of creating new ones.

Did you have a C-section?

Come on people. Why would you ask a total stranger about anything below their belly button and above their knees?

Is that one a boy?

For some reason, people have the idea that all sets of twins are boy/girl. Well, they’re not. Both of mine are girls. My grandma, Momaw, told me that girl/girl fraternal twins are the most common. I don’t know how reliable a source she is, but she seemed sure of herself. It’s funny to see how disappointed these strangers are that I have two of a kind instead of one of each! Noel and I have agreed to just say yes, and allow them to think that one of the babies is a boy. What difference does it make? 8 month olds don’t really look like boys or girls. They’re just babies!

Is it hard work?

Really? Really? Nope, it’s a breeze. Actually, I’ve started saying that it’s not hard work at all just to see the look on people’s faces. Maybe I’m mean, but it just seems like a very ridiculous question.

Are you tired?

I figure that at least 97.325% of the world is tired at all times. Honestly, who isn’t tired? I’ve been tired since the 7th grade except for my sophomore year of college, which was pretty easy. Yes, I am tired.  I have TWO babies; if I were not tired that would mean I wasn’t doing my job!

Are you doing anything to prevent getting pregnant?

This is for real! I have been asked this question by two different people, one a complete stranger and the other my facialist. I know they both meant it humorously, but give me a break!

 

Well, I guess people see me and the babies, and think to themselves, “There’s a woman with answers! Let me go ask her some questions.” It’s good to appear friendly, and I do enjoy it when my babies are admired! So, go ahead folks. If you see me pushing my double stroller, walk up and ask me anything!

Roatan

Avery and Lily are officially world travelers. On August 18th, 14 members of my family boarded a plane bound for Roatan. Roatan is a small Caribbean island, belonging to Honduras, that has some of the world’s best SCUBA diving and snorkeling. Our party included Noel, Avery, Lily, and me; my dad and David my 24 year old brother; my oldest brother Houston, his wife Lyndsay, Rachel (6 years old), and Michael (4 years old); and my older brother William, his wife Kerry, Lauren (6 years old), and William, a.k.a. Dubs (4 years old). We were quite a crew!

I’ve gotten some questions about how we managed to travel internationally with 7 month old twins.  Having 8 adults in the group helps a lot! Packing was tricky, but, knowing me, I began strategizing early on. We took 2 large suitcases, 2 small suitcases, 1 duffle bag of SCUBA gear, 2 backpacks, and 2 umbrella strollers. 1 large suitcase was mine and1 large suitcase was Noel’s.  I packed all of the babies’ clothes in one small suitcase. The 2nd small suitcase was full of baby formula and baby food. I didn’t know what to expect as far as baby formula and food in Roatan so I came prepared. Also, every spare inch in any suitcase was filled by a diaper. I packed both backpacks with burp clothes, more diapers, wipes, formula, 1 change of clothes for the babies, and an extra shirt for me. I rarely make it through the day without being spit up upon, so I thought it wise to carry a t-shirt for myself. Avery and Lily drink Similac Sensitive in the ready to pour, liquid version, meaning it’s in quart bottles. I figured on taking 14 quarts, 12 packed and 2 carried on, since they consume a combined 40 ounces daily, and we would be gone 7 days.  I’d have 2 full quarts to carry on the plane for the return trip. The small suitcase with the 12 quarts of formula weighed like 35 pounds, and the zipper busted open partially in transit. However, all of the jugs of formula stayed intact, and the suitcase zipped right back up. The best part was that suitcase was empty by the end of the week, so packing to come home was a breeze. The villa had two pack and plays for the girls to sleep in and one high chair. We rented a mini-van and reserved two infant car seats. When we arrived at the Avis counter, the clerk was befuddled. They had no car seats at all. They didn’t know anything about any car seats. Perhaps, the clerk suggested, they could find someone with kids from whom we could borrow them. They reassured me that there were no car seat laws in Roatan, so we could legally hold the babies on our laps. I did not feel reassured. When in Roatan! We saw many families of 3 on mopeds, toddler in between the two parents.  Clearly, Avery and Lily went on very few outings.

We rented a villa on the beach with 6 bedrooms/ 4 bathrooms. We could walk out a pier from the beach, hop in the water, and were surrounded by an amazing coral reef. Snorkeling around “our” reef, we saw lobster, moray eels, cuttlefish, starfish, conch shells, and thousands of rainbow colored fish of all sizes. William and Noel are both SCUBA certified and got time to do 2 dives.  If you love snorkeling or SCUBA, Roatan is the place for you! There’s really not much else there. For the most part, the island has one road that winds up and down the hilly terrain with hundreds of hair pin curves. This road even goes through a parking lot. We thought it was a dead end, but no. You pass through a parking lot, and then it becomes a road again. Nonetheless, it’s an amazingly gorgeous place.

Avery and Lily did not snorkel on this trip, but they did get to spend time in “our” pool. They loved being in the water so much that they even fell asleep in our arms! Rachel and Lauren were awesome helpers. They fed the babies; they held the babies; they entertained the babies. The boys got in on it too! Dubs even let Avery hold his best buddy Amigo the Hippo and Michael let them play with his stuffed sting-ray named Pizza. It was like a 24/7 fun zone! Dubs took on the job of shooing flies away from them. Roatan is full of bugs. Several flies made it into the house and were very hard to get rid of. Dubs stood watch over Avery and Lily, flyswatter in hand, and did his best to keep the flies from alighting near them. It was a bit scary at times, since he was batting a weapon at a high rate of speed near the babies’ heads, but he never whacked them!  One morning the girls were getting cranky and needing their nap, so I said, “Stick a fork in them. They’re done.” Dubs yelled out, “No!!!!!!!!” I assured him that I was not going to literally stick a fork in either of my children. What a sweet cousin.

Unfortunately, by day 4, Avery was suffering from delusions of grandeur and believed herself to be the all-important, center of the universe. She demanded being held at all times and learned how to spit while being fed in order to get more attention. Lily just wanted more space so she could roll around, growl, and flap her arms like a penguin. When I’d put them down for naps, I’d try to go snorkeling with Noel or other such activities; however, every time I returned, Avery was being carried and doted upon instead of napping (ahem Pa). It was rather hilarious. My dad would hear her cry, go get her out of bed, wrap her in a beach towel to protect her from bugs and sun, and they’d hang out in the cabana watching the big kids swim. When I’d walk up, Avery would look at me as if she were the queen of the world! I reinstated a closer version of the at-home schedule and reined those babies back in. I’m sure the whole house appreciated it since Avery had decided 3 AM was time to get up. I also had to move their beds into a closet so that they weren’t disturbed during nap time!  How can the center of the universe nap when everyone else is splashing around in the pool?

My younger brother David should win the MVP award for the trip! He got up early every morning and made coffee for all of us caffeine junkies. He even took on baby detail! When Avery began her spitting routine, and feeding her was like being showered with baby food, David stepped up and would offer to feed her. He would stand behind the high chair! Avery was perplexed as to how the spoon was floating to her mouth, but at least David didn’t get sprayed with peas. Just his hand would be covered in the green goo.

It was certainly a trip of a lifetime. I loved seeing all of my nieces and nephews with my babies.  I’ve always loved being an aunt. It’s a very special relationship. Rachel and Lauren, being 6 year old girls, wanted a list of what Uncle Noel had done for each of our anniversaries and a ranking of the most romantic things he had ever done. They were pretty impressed that he made a heart out of Christmas lights on our roof! But they most approved of his proposal to me at top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and how all the other tourists were shouting “He’s proposing” and “Did she say yes?” I loudly said yes and nodded my head so all would know. Lauren told me she would say yes too. Smart girl.

On our last full day, I spent a long time in the pool with the big kids while the babies were napping in the closet. I impressed them with my ability to float effortlessly on my back, which they attributed to some athletic prowess rather than my buoyant body type. The coup de grace was when I did an underwater handstand and then walked on my hands. I resurfaced to four cheering kids, as if I had won an Olympic gold medal. Michael told me I was the champion of the world. It was a very nice compliment and made me feel good even though I know an underwater handstand is not a true acrobatic feat. Kerry told me that, once back at home, Dubs told one of Lauren’s friends that his aunt can walk on her hands underwater. It’s nice to have made such an impression! I can only imagine how Rachel, Lauren, Dubs, and Michael will shape Avery and Lily. We’re so blessed to have these wonderful children in our lives.

Yes, I believe it was a trip of a lifetime. I’m sure more family vacations are in our future, but it won’t be the same. The kids will be older and not impressed by underwater handstands. I’ll have to bring my A Game, underwater backflips.

No Medication

Our precious blessings are seven months old today. I cannot stop thanking God for this miracle. From my brokenness, He brought forth life.  Not bodies struggling to live, but healthy, whole, and vibrant life. I keep remembering the white board next to their beds in the NICU  and seeing the words the nurses had written: “No Medication.” Thank you Lord.

The Lies Disney Told Me

The sweet song of a lark chirping outside my window rouses me from a restful night’s sleep. As I sit up, stretching my arms wide and batting my long eyelashes, a bevy woodland creatures scamper in with my custom mouse-made dress for the day. I’m coiffed by blue jays, bunnies, and rabies-free rodents who effortlessly tame my locks into obedient tendrils and bring me my size 6 ½ satin slippers. I float downstairs to the kitchen where I burst into a musical number with my enchanted appliances, which have made me a piping hot cappuccino with perfectly steamed milk in anticipation of my arrival. Avery and Lily frolic downstairs on Bambi’s back and alight in their high chairs with giggles and smiles and clean diapers. Noel, dressed in a crisp white uniform complete with golden epaulettes, kisses us each on the forehead on his way out the door to slay dragons or other such beasts. Our fairy godmother flutters through the air, waving her magic wand and liberally dispensing pixie dust, insuring a nothing less than gleefully happy day.

What are you looking at?

My day actually begins a little differently. When I wake up in the morning, my hair stands straight up as if I were electrocuted in my sleep. For the first ten minutes of consciousness, my right eye refuses to open, so I stagger around with only my left eye open and hair standing on end until I make it into the shower. Usually Noel is the only person who sees me in such a state, and he’s used to it by now. Sometimes he chuckles as I shuffle past, but then he gets the one-eyed scowl. Please do not show up at my house unannounced before 8 AM. You’ll be standing on the porch a long time before I manage to get myself in a presentable state. The biggest question of the morning is always,

“How much time am I going to invest in my hair?”

Sunday-going-to-church hair includes shampoo, conditioner, a wide tooth comb, a round brush, a blow dryer, a flat iron, and five hair products.

May I help you?

The other end of the spectrum involves water, comb, and a multitude bobby pins. After the hair issue is settled, usually with an army of bobby pins and a plaintive prayer to God along the lines of “Lord, it’s not right to change a woman’s hair after 3 decades,” I find some reasonably clean clothes and my size 10 Crocs. Yes size 10. My mom has size 5 ½ feet, so it’s really an injustice. I would like to clarify one point. I wear the cuter, ballet flat style Crocs, not the big, clunky clogs.When I get downstairs, I down a Slim Fast in one gulp while waiting on the coffeepot to finish brewing. By this time, Lily has started screaming bloody murder. I run back  upstairs to retrieve her. The absolute best part of my morning is the look on my girls’ faces when they see me, hair tamed and both eyes open. It’s pure joy! I tote Lily downstairs and get her set up with her bottle in her high chair, then run back up for Avery. Breakfast includes some mixture of organic brown rice cereal and baby food and always ends up being some horrible color.  By now Gigi is barking to be let outside or inside or needing water or food or something. The only part of the “Disney” morning that is even remotely accurate is Noel kissing us all goodbye. He may not wear epaulettes, but he always looks sharp. After breakfast, I take on the job of cleaning up the girls. They always end up with food on their foreheads, under the chins, up their noses, on the back of their necks, behind their ears, and sometimes in their armpits.

Cool it Dr. Lechter.

Mmmm Tasty

After this first round of cleaning, I take each child individually and burp her. I bounce her, pat her, twist her, and gyrate her until she expels her gas and possibly some of her breakfast. Usually by this point in the day, one of them has pooped. My life seems to contain a great deal more encrusted baby food, spit up, and poop than the lives of Disney characters. Cinderella may have scrubbed some floors, but I don’t remember her trying to keep a baby from sticking her foot in the poopy diaper she just removed. Snow White did a lot of cooking and cleaning, but I’m fairly certain none of the Seven Dwarves ever threw up all over her. Disney may not be putting out a totally realistic portrait of the life of the modern mother.  Oh yeah, the princesses aren’t moms, and the stories end with the weddings. I may not have a talking tea pot or dress-making mice, but I have hair to cover my scarred scalp, feet to carry me through this world, and thank the Lord in Heaven a rodent-free home. I’m not so sure I want the life of a Disney princess anyway. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t trade my less than enchanting morning for a Disney morning, because my morning is real, and it’s mine.

Now Avery has something to say.

So a lot of you are probably thinking I make a big deal about my hair. You just might think I’m exaggerating about the whole “situation.” I will call your bluff. I will put my money where my mouth is.  Here is a photo I took of myself on Sunday July 22, 2012 at 7:30 AM. This is the real deal folks. No kidding. I really do wake up like this. This was not staged or posed, obviously. How many of you are willing to publish a picture of yourself first thing in the morning? Should I receive some award for courage and honesty? Perhaps.

Now here I am at 10:30 AM, before walking out the door to church. Not too shabby, right? Just five hair products, 3 utensils, and 3 styling tools later, and I look pretty good. Artfully tousled? Perhaps.
Seriously people, less than one year ago I had STRAIGHT hair, straight like the caucasian woman in a Pantene commercial!  The Lord sure works in mysterious ways.

If I can transform myself from picture #1 to picture #2, it’s all because of Kharissa Stevens, stylist to the stars, and the detailed instructions she gives me on how to style my own hair. Seriously people, if you live in Houston you need to go to her. This is not a paid endorsement.