Sunday, July 26, 2015

Monday, June 29, 2015

Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach, California...
I'd love to say I was here right now,
but I'm not. This is a photo I took about 3 years ago,
and I uploaded it to Pinterest.
It's also on my Instagram page,
and it's my Google + profile photo.
Yeah, I love this place!
(I found out today that someone else had 
claimed it on their website,
so I thought I'd put it on here and reclaim it) :)

There's nothing special about the photo,
other than the meaning for me and my husband
of an anniversary visit back to the place we met.
If you ever get a chance to visit
Manhattan Beach, you're gonna love it!!
Have a beautiful day :)

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Simple Homemade Gifts

 This is a repost...because baby love is in full bloom around here :)
I have made so many of these in the last couple of years!

I love homemade gifts and I also love *Simple*...
 so when I discovered these sweet gift ideas, I wanted to try them.

 I'm not one to take on anything too complicated at this point in my life;
the busyness of a large family means I might not complete it,
but these were very quick and easy.

 You've probably seen different versions of this diaper burp cloth in blog land,
but there is a wonderful tutorial over at Chickpea Sewing Studio, (thanks so much!).
 You can visit the link and get the complete tutorial there.

The stitching is just a simple zig-zag.

She also has a free download for a cute little reversible bib pattern
that takes just minutes to sew up.

I've made several sets of these over the last few months...
it seems a few of my friends are becoming grandmothers :-)

I like to use flannel, but you could use a pretty cotton fabric too.
If you know of anyone having a new baby, these make great little gifts.

*Have a wonderful weekend my friends*

(I've been doing a little blog cleaning, so bear with me as I redo photos to
some old posts, and do some editing too)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Tips for New Moms of Multiples...

I've been thinking of the best advice I could've received when my twins were babies,
and here are 14 tips I came up with. Hope they help.

1. Nothing can prepare you for the 24 "hourness" of a new baby. 
Let me say that again. Nothing can prepare you for the the 24 hourness
of TWO babies!! Nothing! (Oh yeah, I changed it up a bit).
Prepare to be unprepared!! (I could almost end this post right here).

2. No one else has it together either, not even moms of singles, though it
may look like they do. (I know, I was one of those 4 times
before our twins came along...never once did I have it all together).
Just remember, this is your family.
You and your husband decide. Seeking advice is good, but you know your
babies better than anyone.

3. Never turn down an offer for help, because it might be your only chance
to take a short nap :)

4. Never turn down an offer for someone to watch your older children for you.
They need to get out too :)

5. Pray. This should really be number one on this list.
Pray about everything. Pray without ceasing. Pray for your children. Pray
for your husband. Pray, pray, pray, pray, pray. Prayer is best advice for just about
any parenting question :)

6. If someone wants to give you a really special gift, don't ask for a new double
stroller, you can pick a good one up at a yard sale or on Craigslist. 
Ditto on the extra crib.
Ask for a weekly PROFESSIONAL CLEANING SERVICE for the first 6 months. 

7. Important!! When one baby wakes up at night to be fed, wake the other one up 
right after you've fed the first. I do believe "the feeding schedule" was created
by a mom of twins. (You'll thank me for this in about 3 weeks).
It's the best way to guarantee some solid sleep...
for you :)

8. If you have older children, your are blessed. 
You have instant entertainment for the babies
so you can cook a quick dinner, or throw in a load of clothes, 
or change out of the pajamas you've been wearing for 3 days :)

9. If you've always done the grocery shopping, this might be a good time for your 
hubby to learn. However, it was a huge break for me to get out of the house.
Since my twins are the youngest of six,
I would take one or two of the older kids with me,
and leave the rest with daddy. I think my twins were 4 before they saw the inside of
a grocery store. They were filled with wonder and was like 
Disneyland for them! "Oh, this is where we get all this magical stuff we call FOOD!"

10. When you do venture out with the twins, be prepared to be stopped by everyone!
However, if they mention that they too are parents of 
multiples, feel free to pick their brains for all the tips they can offer.
It's okay, because they stopped you, after all.

11. Strangers will ask to hold your babies. Perhaps with your first child, you would 
have been shocked at this thought. However, if something possessed you and your
husband to go to a buffet type restaurant with 6 children, and a 
kind grandmotherly type lady sitting at the table next to you asks you if you'd
like her to hold one of your crying babies so that you can hold the other crying 
baby while your husband takes the other kids for refills...
Your husband is going to get the kids dessert anyway, and since you'll be going
home with 4 sugar high children,
take her help now, because you can't take her home with you!
(Haha, don't ask me how I know this).

12. If you have identical twins, mark all of your photos!!  You'll be glad you did this.
We dressed our boys in different colors almost from the start, but we had so many
gifts of "lookalike" clothes, that this wasn't always the case.
We got creative and sometimes put their pacifiers in the photo next to them,
because those were different. When they were about a year old, we got ID bracelets,
and placed them on opposite arms.
This is the only means of identification in some
of our photos.
We do think they are both going by the same name
they came home from the hospital with :)
(However, there was that one time when our older son switched things up, so,,,.)
Just sayin :)

13. We forget.
What I mean is, when we pass one stage of life with multiples, we forget
the details of that stage. Of course there are things that stand out (as #11 proves),
things we will never forget, but the day to day details have changed enough
in our own lives that we truly forget how difficult those first few months/years can be.
You WILL get through it, and before you know it....

14. PUBERTY hits...
and you find out all over again how different being the mother 
of multiples can be...
um, can you say "TWINAGERS!"
(btw, getting them to pose together for photos at this age is almost impossible!!)

Never forget that they are two VERY different and unique people,
and of course, always remember...

Good luck!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Brother Bravery

The first fight I ever remember seeing, took place on the playground 
of my school when I was in first grade.

I was spinning around on "the bars", as they called them,
and a 5th grader and known bully, walked up and started throwing a football 
at me and a couple of the other girls playing there.
He hit me hard and I started to cry.

Within about a minute, my brother, a 4th grader, was there beside me.
Someone had told him I'd been hurt, and he was checking on me,
...and then he asked me who did it.

I pointed to the boy, who was bigger and older than my brother,
and the next thing I knew,
my brother had thrown his jacket off 
and was challenging this boy to a fight.
He didn't wait for him to answer. 
He let him know that he crossed the line when he hit his sister.

I watched in shock. My brother took on this boy...for me.
My brother, who was known as a kind boy...
was going to tear this bully up. 
I loved him more in that moment than I ever had before.

A teacher showed up quickly and broke up the fight.
And then, almost even worse,
the boys were taken to the dreaded "Principal's Office".
I yelled that he was protecting me,
that the boy was bad...
but both of them were taken away.
It was back in the days when a Principal had a paddle...
and everyone feared it.

I watched him walk away, and I cried again.
This time it was for what might be coming his way.

As it turned out, the Principal was a wise man.
He listened to the story of "why" it had happened,
and he understood boys...and honor. 
He just made them shake hands and make up, which they did.

They never fought again, and I don't remember that boy giving
anyone else any trouble. 
I know things would be handled differently now, 
but I'm not sure the results would be any more successful.

My big brother has always been there for me. I've always known he had my back.

I can't say that I've done the same. 
I'm the younger one, and a girl,
and all too often, I didn't think that way,
but he did.

When our mom passed away last summer,
my big brother took care of everything...once again,
 just as he always had, because that's the kind of person he is.

He's experienced his fair share of trials.
For those who might remember, a few years ago, his son Jordan,
lost his legs when he stepped on an IED in Afghanistan. It is difficult
to watch your own child going through such pain.
We were thankful that Jordan survived.
He had a long, hard road ahead of him, which he has walked 
with dignity, never giving up. He is doing well now.

Earlier this year, my brother was diagnosed with cancer.
That terrible disease that everyone hates. Cancer is an awful word.
He has undergone radiation and chemo,
and thankfully, his prognosis looks good, but the treatment has been hard.
I am so proud of him for facing this cancer bully...
and fighting it just like he fought the bully on the playground so many years ago.
He too, has faced this challenge head-on, with dignity.

A few days ago I was able to hang out with him.
I'm so thankful that he's starting to feel better,
and especially thankful for the best big brother God could've ever provided...
I love you Kev!!

There is a song I want to share by NeedtoBreathe called "Brother".
The words express the love and thankfulness I have for my big brother.

And it describes the brother he's always been to me.
The one who's there for you, no matter what. 
Please listen, it's beautiful. The lyrics are included below.


Ramblers in the wilderness we can’t find what we need
Get a little restless from the searching 
Get a little worn down in between
Like a bull chasing the matador is the man left to his own schemes
Everybody needs someone beside em’ shining like a lighthouse from the sea

Brother let me be your shelter
I’ll never leave you all alone
I can be the one you call
When you’re low
Brother let me be your fortress
When the night winds are driving on
Be the one to light the way
Bring you home

Face down in the desert now there’s a cage locked around my heart
I found a way to drop the keys where my failures were 
Now my hands can’t reach that far
I ain’t made for a rivalry I could never take the world alone
I know that in my weakness I am strong, but
It’s your love that brings me home

Brother let me be your shelter
I’ll never leave you all alone
I can be the one you call
When you’re low
Brother let me be your fortress
When the night winds are driving on
Be the one to light the way
Bring you home

And when you call and need me near
Sayin' where'd you go?
Brother I'm right here
And on those days when the sky begins to fall
You're the blood of my blood
We can get through it all

Brother let me be your shelter
I’ll never leave you all alone
I can be the one you call
When you’re feelin' low
Brother let me be your fortress
When the night winds are driving on
Be the one to light the way
Bring you home

Brother let me be your shelter
I’ll never leave you all alone
I can be the one you call
When you’re low
Brother let me be your fortress
When the night winds are driving on
Be the one to light the way
Bring you home
Be the one to light the way
Bring you home

...I love you Kevin :)
Your Little Sister

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Fear, Faith, Oceans, Snakes and...Miracles

I always loved missionary stories as a kid. 
God seemed to do amazing things through people who stepped out in faith.
I feared the stories too. I feared that I loved them so much
that it might mean God was going to send me somewhere...
like Africa. 
I feared Africa. I feared the snakes in Africa.
I feared the heat in Africa. I feared the scorpions in Africa. 
I really feared that I might be going to the African desert :)

When I was 18 years old I signed up to go on a one month mission trip 
with a group called Teens With a Purpose..TWAPS for short.
They sang in churches, did construction work,
and generally served where they were needed.

My motives weren't pure though.
The mission trip was to Hawaii, 
a long time dream location for this Cali beach gal.
A place I didn't fear. A place I longed for.
I went, and spent a month there,
falling in love with the people and the place.

I distinctly remember standing in the airport in Maui 
waiting to get on the plane to go home 
and hearing that little voice inside my head say "STAY, just STAY." 

I didn't.

I had paradise in my grasp, but I didn't trust the voice. I wasn't brave.
Fear of being on my own at that young age was just too strong,
and my faith wasn't strong enough.
As it turns out, I wound up in the desert after all,
instead of paradise.

In the desert where there is heat, and snakes and scorpions.
Oh, the irony :)
Kind of like the Israelites in the wilderness...
"Don't get the desert. You missed the Promised Land.
You get Plan B."
(which He knew I was going to take the whole time)

I think that God must have a great sense of humor
when dealing with our foolishness :)

However, even after growing up a beach girl,
now residing in the desert for oh so many years,
(with surfboards stacked in my bedroom)
and missing my early "opportunity" to live in Hawaii,
I've found the desert isn't so bad.
In fact, it's home, even if it isn't Hawaii.
I have still been very blessed.

I have children who are much braver than I was,
and have traveled to many corners of the world,
serving where God has led them.

I have friends who have done the same.
People who are brave.
Cody and Tiffany are two of these people.
They are friends of ours who have lived their lives in faith, not fear.

They have a blog called Hurting Hearts, Helping Hands.

My oldest son worked with Cody for awhile,
and the stories he would come home and tell are legendary in our household.
We hold Tiffany in equally high esteem because it takes
a very strong woman to be married to such a daring man :)

Cody and Tiffany went to Sri Lanka to help
right after the Dec. 2004 tsunami hit.
They fell in love with the people and the place,
and THEY listened to the voice that told them to go back.
We met them during the time they were waiting to go.
They were working hard towards that goal.
And they finally made it, several years ago.

They are surfers giving back...
through an organization called Surfing the Nations,
ironically based out of my beloved Hawaii :)
Over the last 4 summers, my youngest daughter has
also volunteered with STN. They are reaching into all corners of the world.
They have even gone to North Korea to teach surfing there.
Yes, you read that right. NORTH Korea.
(You'll see their little icon there on the side of my blog,
along with my favorite music apps) :)

Last year, while in Sri Lanka, Cody was bit by one of the deadliest
snakes in the world...the Russell Pit Viper.
I'm including his post, which breaks down what happened.
When he was bit, word was spread to his friends worldwide via Facebook.
We didn't know if he would survive...because few do.

Snake Bite

Russell Pit Viper: Based on several factors, including lethality of venom, aggressive behavior and number of human fatalities it is responsible for, it is commonly agreed upon by herpetologists that the most dangerous snake in the world is the Russell's Viper. Also known as the Chain Viper, the Russell's Viper ("Daboia russelli") causes thousands of deaths each year. When the Russell's Viper bites a victim, it can deliver up to 112 mg of venom which can cause pain, swelling of the area around the bite, vomiting, 
kidney failure and an inability for the blood to coagulate. 
These symptoms or even death can occur very quickly, within 
two and a half to 10 minutes from the time of first being bitten.

My miraculous story as I look back over this death defying week…. It was a normal night here in Sri Lanka and my family was headed over to our friendJohnson's house for dinner. It was 7:30pm and I opened my shed and reached around the door to grab my motorcycle helmet. As I reached in, I felt something bite me on my ankle and made it feel like it was on fire. I quickly turned on the light to find nothing but my clean shed room that I had been working in all day. Still not knowing what bit me, I asked Tiff to bring me a flashlight and our snake bite kit. I turned my shed upside-down and looked in every corner as I had the venom suction syringe attached to my ankle. I have been bit/stung by snakes, spiders, jellyfish, scorpions, stingrays, sea urchins, and centipedes; so maybe I was a little bit calloused to the reality, but after not finding anything I just shrugged it off as most likely being a centipede. So I said "lets go to dinner." 

I let everyone around know what happened so they could keep an eye on me and then we proceeded to have an amazing meal of shrimp hand caught by Johnson,Babu , Spencer, and myself. During our time there a National Geographic commercial came on about poisonous snakes and I jokingly said "maybe it's a sign." Two hours later we were headed home to go to bed after a long day. As we all unloaded off my motorcycle, Koda said "Mom there's a snake. I thought it was a big pile of dog poop, but it's not, it's a snake." It was at our front door step under our brightest outdoor light in a place that we could not miss it. (Miracle #1; I was headed to sleep; if we didn't find this snake literally on our front door step I would have not gone to the hospital). 

Thousands of emotions and feelings flooded through me as I recognized it as being one of the top 4 most lethal snakes in the world, a Russell Pit Viper. I knew I needed to stay calm to prevent the poison that had already been in my body way too long, not to be pumped throughout my body; but I also knew I needed to kill the snake so that I could take it to let the doctors identify it. As soon as we saw the snake, Tiff called Johnson to come pick us up and take us to the hospital. Johnson said over and over on the phone to not kill the snake, because one of the Sri Lankan myths about snake bites is if you kill the snake that bit you, you will surely die. (Johnson's big brother was bit and killed by this viper or one very similar). You can imagine how scared he was for us. 

We dropped off our kids with Johnson's wife and it was then when I felt the emotions of "this might me the last time my boys will get to see me." They were already scared and I didn't want to scare them more, so I lightheartedly gave them hugs, told them I loved them and wished them sweet dreams. "Hardest moment in my life thus far." 

We arrived at our local hospital to find out they couldn't help, and sent us on an hour and a half ambulance ride to a bigger city hospital in Ampara. Babu begged to come in the ambulance with us and I am so glad they let him so he could be with Tiff and help translate. In the ambulance Tiff got on the phone to get family and friends praying and to get our Doctor friend Matt's number. Within five minutes Matt was on the phone with Tiff walking her through everything she needed to know as I was copying and pasting on our computer things she or the doctors might need if I was to go into shock or pass out. 

When we arrived the doctors looked at the snake and looked at me and didn't understand why I was not dead. At this point they assumed that it must have been a dry bite without venom or else I would either be having severe reactions or be dead. Therefore they didn't want to give me the anti venom. They started running blood and urine tests and thats when they realized I did have venom in my blood. However, they still didn't believe it so they ran the same test again with the same results. (Miracle #2- I should have been going through death like side effects, but nothing.) 

They were finally convinced and immediately gave me 10 viles of viper anti venom, which they also said would have really bad side affects. With epinephrin shot in hand, all the nurses and doctors watched in amazement. Thirty viles of anti venom later and there were still no severe side effects. (Miracle # 3- No side effects to the anti venom). 

Soon my blood was back to normal and as they were still continuing to monitor all my systems for effects, they were convinced that my brain, heart, kidneys and other organs were miraculously unaffected- ( Miracle #4). Three days later I'm at home, back on my feet, entertaining all of my loving Sri Lankan family/friends who have come to see this walking, living Miracle. What do I have to say about all of this? 

Well….. my Jesus Rocks and I give him all the credit he deserves, even when some might say "why would he let you get bit in the first place?" My response is this: Jesus wanted to show off and to show others that don't know him how much he loves his people and how he can do the impossible, the supernatural. Thank you first off to Jesus for saving my life. Tiff you were amazing and I am so proud of how you handled the situation; I am so lucky to have you. Dr. Matt, you are my hero and my family and my life has been so, so blessed by you. Thank you for doing what you do. Friends, family, and people that I don't even know who prayed for me, I am overwhelmed by your love. Your prayers were answered and you now have a personal testimony of Jesus's amazing healing power. Share it with everyone you know. I love you all. I love you Jesus. 
Some scriptures people shared that were powerful during this time. 
Psalms 91, James 5:16, Acts 28. Psalms 56:3. 

Miracles...they happen when we least expect them.
They remind us WHO is in control.

My favorite song in the world is called Oceans....
(surprise, surprise)
It's beautiful, and I have listened to it hundreds of times.
It's about trust, and being brave...
I especially love the line that says
"Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders"
I think it represents Cody, Tiffany and Surfing the Nations 
very well, along with many others 
who ARE brave...

Enjoy :)

Hillsong United ~ Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Oh, Jesus, you're my God!

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine...

Btw, the photo at the top of the page is of the
Surfing the Nations Sri Lanka Surf Club :)