Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Pennie




I think it's about time I did a post on Pennie, seeing as she's now three years old! 

It seems like only yesterday that I found myself laying in a dark, warm room, gazing up at a screen in the corner, waiting to see our baby and learn if he or she was healthy and on schedule for growth.  I remember it like it was yesterday, anyway.  And I'll never forget the first time I saw those two little bodies on that screen.  Looking back on all that's happened since that day in 2010, I treasure the memories so much.  I remember on the drive back home, having just found out we were having identical twin girls and how I now had to pick out two sets of girl names, and two sets of names just echoed in my heart seemingly out of nowhere….I remember the next time I saw our girls, and how I just felt so favored and privileged.  I looked at each of their faces in my womb and was so happy that I could call each girl by name, instead of Baby A (Pennie Jane) and Baby B (Olivia Caroline).  It was such a wondrous thing, feeling both of my girls move simultaneously inside of my womb. I will never forget those days! And Pennie is here with us, bringing jubilation and glee with her everywhere she goes!

Pennie is our joy and sunshine.  She is such an incredible blessing! Everything is new and wondrous and fabulous to her, whether it be a pair of ducks walking down the street or a surprise lollipop from Mama.  She delights in all things, even if it's only a pretty pink balloon from the grocery store.

Samantha took advantage of a rare sunny day in our neighborhood to take some pictures of Pennie.  Pennie was outside "helping" the girls work in the yard, and she was showing Samantha how dirty her hands were.  I think these pictures are so precious!



I particularly love this picture.  I really, really hope to get a print made of it and frame it! I'm so taken by the way the sunlight gilds her sweet hair so golden as to make it look like it almost glows! She realized here that Samantha had the camera and the look on her face is precious!



She had a little bowl of peanut butter with her, which is one of her favorite snacks, and some grass had gotten into it.  She was telling Samantha about the grass and picking it out.  She's very particular about things like that, very detail-oriented for a three year old.  Everything has to be just right for her!



Sweet little sunshine girl!



Her precious face and her cute little nose just about melt my heart.  We're so, so blessed  that the Lord allowed her to live with us. I'll never, ever get tired of snuggling with her or seeing her eyes light up over things.  She fills my heart and when I look at her, I know that there is a little girl in Heaven at Jesus' side that is the mirror image to Pennie.  I know that Olivia is reflected in Pennie, from her blonde curls to her little snub nose to her beautiful eyes.  I know that when my heart longs for Olivia, I can just scoop up Pennie and love on her, and it does ease my grief on those hard days.


Chip time!


Pennie is growing up in leaps and bounds.  She is super smart and she's curious about everything! The other night Daddy took her and some of her sisters to the store and she was walking around picking stuff up, and she had an armful of fondue and cheeses and crackers, just shopping away! She loves going places and she wants to see everything and touch everything.

Her speech is still developing, and she's a bit behind in this.  She has a lot of trouble with certain sounds, and we think it just makes her sound cuter! I always want to remember the way she says "ovlis" (olives) and "vanilla" (Nutella) and "chowk" (couch) and "ojin" (orange).  She loves to tell stories and has a very vivid imagination.  If she asks for something she wants and I say no, she begs for it! She'll keep saying "please" several times.  She's super great at identifying colors too. She thinks everything is pink! HA!

She's really tall for her age.  She's wearing a size 4T in pretty much everything because 3T isn't long enough for her.  She wears size 9 shoes.  A few weeks ago I got her some hot pink cowgirl boots with sparkly stars on them, and the first thing she does when she wakes up in the morning is put those boots on! She wears those boots pretty much all of the time, whether she's dressed or not! She loves dresses and skirts and bright, sparkly shirts.  With her white blonde hair and her big blue eyes, she looks so beautiful in the neon colors that have come out in most stores.  She's very girly-girl.

Pennie's favorite thing to do is dance to music.  She's quite expressive and so fun to watch! We have a video of her around Christmas, just dancing away.  She loves a lot of different types of music, and to hear her sing along with songs is so cute! She's loves to climb and I have to watch her really closely because she'll climb just about anything.  She loves to run up and down the hall in her little princess panties and her hot pink boots!

Another interesting thing about Pennie is that she's very, very organized and her world is right if everything in it is just so.  She has to have her blankets and pillow just so before she can settle down and go to sleep at nap time and night time.  She likes to line up her Little People and hates it when anything is out of order.  She'll be a good organizer some day!

I'm so grateful for Pennie Jane.  She makes the world a brighter, better, more joyful place for me.  I can't wait to get some pictures of her printed out and framed.  Someone suggested that I get a picture of her all dressed up and kissing herself in a mirror.  I've thought about this, and I think it would almost be like having Olivia here again! Pennie is so sweet and so funny……she's so many blessings rolled into one little person!


Monday, April 7, 2014

Diapers

Okay, let's talk about diapers!

Since I can't do a "Jack Update" due to the fact that the new pictures the girls took of him are nowhere to be found, let's talk about diapers.

Picking out diapers can cause a mama's head to spin! There are way too many choices out there, touting everything from extra absorbency to streamlined fit, to even killing odors! 

Having 9 children, I guess this makes me a "seasoned mama".  I don't know about that, but I do know that I've used literally every single brand of disposable diaper under the sun.  I've used them in every single situation and every single circumstance too, from playing in the water in them to a baby being sick, to even regular, every day usage. We received a lot of different brands of diapers as gifts before Jack was born, and that was a great way for me to log in to some different brands and really firm up my likes and dislikes when it came to diapers!

Here is a review of the major brands of diapers out there, from my least favorite to my most favorite.


First off, let's talk about these diapers.  I noticed that for Jack, with other diapers, every time he would go pee-pee, the diaper would start to smell really strange, like old pee.  This was every single time, no matter if he had just gone or what.  This was also true for most of the diapers I tried, except these ones.  These diapers never smelled at all.  They also held a LOT of pee-pee.  I could leave these diapers on Jack through the night without them leaking at all….however, those two pros are the only good things about these diapers.  As soon as Jack would go poo, these diapers leaked it out, and it would get all over his clothes! I was having to change his outfit at least 4 times a day.  He'd leak all over everything else, and I was also having to change my clothes a lot with these diapers.  These are my number one least favorite diapers.  Yes, they are chlorine free and "earth friendly"….but they are also very expensive and we'd have to change him a lot, thereby using a lot of these spendy little bun covers! Save your money and don't even try these!



Luv's diapers are very inexpensive.  They come in big packages. On Jack, since he's still really little at 3 months and he's very skinny and long, these fit his waist very well.  But those are the only things I liked about these diapers.  They also tend to run small, so he wore a size 1 when he was wearing size newborn in other diapers.  These leak terribly and smell awful and they really did tend to sag badly after Jack went pee-pee even once. Poo leaks out of these like crazy, and we had to change outfits on him and me a lot too.  These used to have Blue from Blue's Clues on them, and that was okay with me, but they changed when Blue's Clues went off the air, and I care about the pictures and characters on my son's buns!!



Pampers has a few styles to choose from.  I liked these for Jack when he was in the newborn size because they fit really well and were very absorbent. That's all I can say about these though.  They were pretty bulky and even more bulky when he'd go pee-pee in them.  They stunk the worst out of all the diapers we tried.  We also tried the other types that Pampers offers, and they smelled awful too.  And another thing, I'm particular about the pictures or characters that are on the diapers I buy, and frankly, I despise Mickey and Minnie deeply.  I don't like two stupid looking mice on my son's buns! Yes, that is a bit of a quirky thing, but it matters to me!



These diapers are available at Fred Meyer and Kroger stores.  They were okay…just okay. There wasn't anything about them that stood out to me. They were just ordinary, average diapers.  The large bumble bee/mouse creatures on these diapers were stupid too….



Now, these babies are my second favorite diapers.  They fit Jack perfectly and didn't sag after he goes pee-pee.  They never, ever leaked once, not pee or poo.  I never had to change his outfit once when he was wearing these.  When he was born, none of the other diapers we had fit him but these.  He wore the newborn size until he was two months old.  Like I said before, he's skinny and long and the fit of a diaper is important, and these seemed that they actually contoured to his buns and his waist.  These never sagged at all. I didn't mind the Winnie the Poo themed characters on these, I thought they were rather sweet.  The only two things I didn't like about them was the price and the fact that after a few pee-pees, they started to smell bad.  These actually were the most expensive diapers we've had, and that's a downfall, for me.



These are my favorite diapers.  These are Kirkland Supreme diapers.  For our large family, we go to Costco every two weeks when we get paid.  These diapers are the most inexpensive ones, which is great, and Costco often has a coupon for them in the coupon book.  They're great diapers for so many other reasons too.  They have never leaked once.  They are extra, super absorbent. I know I can leave Jack in these all night and his clothes will still be dry.  They are very slim and they fit Jack's tall, skinny body.  They never sag, no matter how much they've absorbed.  They have cute pictures of zoo animals on them.  These diapers are very stretchy and so, I know they'll fit Jack for a long while.  They have never stunk when he goes pee-pee, no matter how long Jack wears the diaper. The smallest size Kirkland offers is a size1-2, and Jack's still wearing these at three months old. The only thing I don't like about these is that there is no newborn size at all, and they were way too big for Jack for the first two months of his life.  That may be something to consider when you buy your diapers for your newborn.  That said, these still remain my favorite diapers.  

So, to wrap up this post, my favorite diapers are Kirkland Supreme diapers and Huggies Little Snugglers diapers.  I buy Kirkland diapers almost every time I go to Costco, even if I don't need them! I guess I'm paranoid that they're going to suddenly discontinue them, as they did with their Whisk laundry detergent and their Joy dish soap, both of which are my favorites and it was a mild life crisis for me when they stopped carrying those two things, but that's a rabbit trail…..now, where was I?? Oh, we were talking about diapers!! LOL!


I hope this post has been helpful for you.  I hope you consider my advice if you're a new mama, or if you know someone who is a new mama.  Maybe you can use this post as a reference when buying diapers for your friend's baby shower or for your local crisis pregnancy center.  Crisis pregnancy centers always need diapers for their clients, so this is a great gift for them too!


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Loves

Today I'm going to talk about new makeup items on which I've got a crush.

I've discovered some things that have really made me look great and I can't believe I didn't know they were out there before now! My husband gave me leave to buy some new makeup since I needed it and I do like wearing makeup.  I just wish I wasn't so lazy so that I could wear makeup every day!

First off, there's this:

This powder is truly one of my favorite things ever.  I have super, super dry skin and have tried every makeup on the planet, just about, and it all just got soaked up by my super thirsty skin.  In addition to a really good cleanser and a really good moisturizer (which we'll talk about in a minute), this powder has made a big change in the way I look.  I just use it over the top of my moisturizer and I'm good to go.  It isn't cakey or heavy at all.  I have freckles and it doesn't cover them up, it just makes my skin look dewey and more even.  It IS a bit of a splurge at about $34, but I hardly ever buy makeup, and when I do, I know that it will last me for a very long time, especially if I keep my brushes clean.  I got my "Hello Flawless" powder at Ulta, but you can get it at Sephora or even online on the BeneFit site.



Now, like I said before, I have really dry skin.  I've used a lot of cleansers to try to combat this annoying problem, all to no avail.  This is called DHC Deep Cleansing Oil. This cleanser was "love at first use" for me.  It IS olive oil based, but it doesn't leave my skin feeling oily at all.  In fact, it leaves my skin feeling really soft and super hydrated, which is something my skin craves.  I had never heard of this stuff before, and one day I came home from running errands and the girls said I had gotten a catalog and a few samples.  I used the samples and fell in love, and I ordered some of this cleanser the very next day! It's $23, and like I said before, it'll last me forever.



This moisturizer has really changed the texture and look of my face.  I was very skeptical when the gal at Ulta told me it would be the best moisturizer for my dry skin, because I've used so many "perfect" moisturizers.  But this thick, rich cream is really the right answer for me.  I love that it hardly has any smell to it and it's so rich. The gal told me to give it a couple of days and I'd see a huge difference, and I really have!  I got a "kit" that has all of the basic BeneFit cleaner, toner, exfoliated and other things for dry skin.  Everything came in small trial sizes and I already love a couple of things.  I don't use everything that came in the kit, and some of the things I just don't even like. This moisturizer is by far my favorite moisturizer I've used.  I try to use it twice a day.  I use a very small amount and even this really small pot of it will last me a long time, as I use straight olive oil on my neck and chest.  The kit with all of the small sizes of products from BeneFit was $24.


I also got this eyeshadow palette.  I really splurged the day I went into Ulta! I really needed some makeup supplies, and I know the benefit of good makeup.  I don't like anything that is super full of icky ingredients or has trashy names or is highly pigmented. The gal at Ulta recommended this one to me, and I tried it and loved it.  I think my palette is called "Into The Light", and it comes with an eyeliner too.  The eyeliner that came with my palette is called Damsel and I adore it.  It's just plain good eyeshadow.  I use the brown down on the bottom to fill in my eyebrows because I over tweezed them a time or two….but this eyeshadow is great. It has a bit of sparkle to it, and it's great for green eyes.  There are a few different palettes to choose from. 


This is BareEscentuals blush, and my color is Golden Gate.  It's a powder pot, and the beauty of it is that you can open it, sift some into the lid of the pot, and then after you're done using it, you can close the sifter lid and put it back in your makeup bag! I love the peachy, pinky color, and it's really subtle so you don't look like a clown.  It's also got a bit of sparkle to it.  I've also used Warmth and liked that color too, which is perfect for the summer time.


One more thing I'm loving this early spring is cherry Icees! We get them here at the Target in the adjacent town.  I had one yesterday and since I'm battling a bad cold, complete with laryngitis, anything icy and cold feels good on my throat.  Of course, I don't have one every day, because they're loaded with icky stuff I'd rather not put into my body….but once in a while, cherry Icees really do satisfy! And, since I'm starting concert choir and an opera workshop at our local college on Monday, another cherry Icee might be in the forecast for me.  I really need to get my voice back!

What are your favorite makeup items or hair stuff that you love right now?







Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Our Life

Wow, it's been over a month since I posted!

Yeah, what a surprise.

I want so badly to keep my blog current.  It really is a place where I can come and vent and share opinions and likes and dislikes and even pictures of my family (now that I'm figuring out how to do that) without being disrespected or challenged.  I do love my blog, it's just keeping it current.  I have a schedule in my head that I want to write out and stick to, so I'll start that in April.  We'll see how that goes!

For now, I'll update you on what we've been up to around here!


This is Lucie.  She's 5 now and she is SO cute.  She says the most interesting things lately! One day she said to me "Mama, I don't want to have babies when I'm married because I don't want them to come out of my buns."  Ahem.  Wow.  Another day she was staring at Russell, who will be 19 next month, and she noticed that he's getting a mustache.  She said, "WHAT'S that??"  She answered her own question by saying, "Russell's getting a BEARD!"  I told her it was really a mustache, and I asked her if she liked it.  She sadly shook her head and said "NO!"  She told me that he needed to shave it! She's super smart and she's growing in leaps and bounds.  She's a lot taller than any 5 year old we've ever seen…hmm, must be because her Daddy is almost 7 feet tall, and that's the truth, he really is that tall! She loves to draw and is learning how to read with Hooked on Phonics, which I highly recommend.



This girl….oh, this girl! Of course this is Pennie, and she's 3 now.  She is definitely high energy.  When I look at Pennie, I think that God gave her all of Olivia's personality plus her very own too.  She's a perfect mixture of herself and her twin sister! She wants to know what everything is and what everyone's doing and where everyone's going.  The thing we've noticed about Pennie the most is that she absolutely hates being alone or left behind by her big sisters.  She has a deep fear of being left and she is not one to play by herself most of the time.  If she gets to go somewhere with Daddy, she'll constantly say, "wait for me! Wait for me!" Or, "Don't leave without me!" This is quite unusual and it isn't something we've ever noticed before in any of our other kids.  My heart tells me that she needs to be with her sisters all of the time to fill that empty place in her that Olivia left when she went away to Heaven.  She sings ALL of the time, I mean constantly, and she loves entertaining us that way.  She isn't at all shy.  Before she was born, our perinatologist told us that she may have had a small brain bleed, and that bleed would probably manifest itself in the form of cerebral palsy.  The doctor said we wouldn't know until she was two or three years old.  We've noticed signs of slight cerebral palsy in her, in that her left foot turns in quite a bit, while her left hand is weak and she has to struggle with her fine motor skills quite a bit when she's stacking blocks or coloring.  Her left hand shakes when she tries to do anything with it, but it hasn't held her back at all.  I talked to a young man who was born with cerebral palsy, and he said it didn't hold him back in the least, and that it actually made him a better person.  The doctor told us the cerebral palsy would get worse as she got older, and we've noticed that it has gotten subtly more pronounced.  We were considering treatments and therapy for her, but after much research and my providential talk with that young man, we've decided not to seek outside therapy or medical treatment for her.  She isn't affected in any other ways, and she's smart as a whip and is learning her colors and songs and we feel that she's the biggest joy and blessing in our lives.  She talks up a storm and is seldom silent.  She's learning to go potty on the toilet and really wants Big Girl Princess panties!


Here's a picture of Pennie on Lucie's old bike.  That day was so incredibly gorgeous, and the flowering cherry trees which line our street were just beginning to bloom, and the grass was brilliant green…..it was the kind of day we very seldom see around here in the early spring.  I think she looks so….well, so vibrant!


We've had some really good times so far this winter and early spring!! I'll leave you with some pictures of our life so far…..I hope you enjoy them!

























Tuesday, February 25, 2014

New Link

Apparently the link I gave yesterday to The Lewis Note didn't work.

And nobody told me it didn't work.

So, I fixed it and if you want to read it, you can go back to yesterday's post and click on the link and it works.

Thank you for reading it. I think it's a subject that needs to be talked about. I think the stigma of abortion, stillbirth and miscarriage needs to be shattered.  And this post will give some good ideas about how to comfort those who have been on that journey, as well as expose and break some misconceptions too.

Thanks for reading it!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Yes

I stumbled across this blog this morning while looking at my dear friend's Facebook page.

Wow.

Please read it.  Please.

I was deeply, deeply touched…..I have a friend who had an abortion many, many years ago and still regrets it and thinks of her baby often.  I have many friends who have experienced also the grief and questions of a miscarriage.

I had never looked at the topic from this woman's point of view, but I'm intensely glad that I read this post.  

Please, if you're pro-life, be pro-life for those who've experienced abortions as well as miscarriage or stillbirth, at any stage.

Thanks.

The Lewis Note

Friday, February 21, 2014

Thoughts

Yesterday was Pennie's 3rd birthday.

I brought her a chicken nugget kid's meal, complete with fries and a drink…you would have thought she had just won the lottery! She was so cute when I came in the door with the red and white bag from Wendy's! She squealed and jumped up and down.  I also got her a sucker from my favorite coffee place.  She always loves those suckers and feels so special when I get her one.

Sigh.

The truth is, I've been thinking about Olivia a ton lately.

If you want to read about our journey with twins, go here.

It's been a long time now since Olivia went to Heaven.

But I still think about her.

She was the other half of Pennie's shell.  She is perfectly reflected in Pennie's face and eyes and smile and hair, and this is comforting to me….and at the same time….

It isn't.

I still struggle with wanting both of those babies.  I struggle with feeling slighted, with feeling cheated.  I took such possession of both of them right away! I prayed for them! We had prayed for twins for years! But the real story is, Olivia was not for this world.

Oh, but I wanted her with every fiber of my being!

I do have to say that if there was anything easier in losing one of our twins than any of our other stillbirths or miscarriages, it's that Olivia and Pennie were identical and sometimes it feels like getting a glimpse of Olivia when I look at Pennie.

Maybe it's just because Pennie's birthday was here that I'd been thinking a lot about Olivia.  I don't know.

I can sometimes vividly imagine the two of them together.  I imagine how they'd be together, how they'd share a special bond and how they'd be each other's best friend.  I imagine how proud I'd be to be the mom of twins!  We were so ecstatic when we found out I'd be having twins.  I felt favored and glowing and like I could take on the world!! 

The truth is, none of my imaginings got to happen and I'm feeling a bit blue because Olivia's not here today.

Anyway.

I have only a couple of ultrasound pictures of Pennie and Olivia together in my womb. Right after we found out that we were having twins, I made a scrapbook page of some of their ultrasound pictures.  After Olivia went Home, I had to put the page away.  I had to hide it.  It was just so deeply wrenching to see it, to look at it, and to be stared at by all of those unmet expectations.

And I have to be honest, I secretly wish to have twins again.  I wish and occasionally tell the Lord that I'd love to have two living, breathing, healthy twins.  I know that it's a very, very slim possibility now, at my age…..

Maybe as slim a possibility that I'd have random, natural twins in the first place.

I miss Olivia. 

But she lives on in my heart and in the precious, dear face of her other half, Pennie.