Wednesday, 19 February 2014

A Day in the Life with Four Kids

Note: all times are approximate and only in a very vague way represents a "typical" day...

10:00pm - 4:30am Not even going to guess how many times I was up to nurse or put another baby back to bed...

5:00am (ish) Notice Lucas getting into our bed and falling asleep. Take Lisa back to her crib.
5:50 Leila up to nurse, doesn't go back to sleep.
6:10 Take Leila to bathroom in her rocking chair so mommy can have a shower.
6:20 Shower done, Lucas is up. Go to get changed and find Lisa awake as well.
6:30 Everyone in the living room except for Elena (still sleeping) Nurse Lisa.
6:45 Elena gets up. Change twins diapers, clean up kitchen and start getting breakfast ready. Fruit and juice for Lucas, banana and granola with milk for Elena and mommy.
7:00 Lie babies down in their pack n play with bottles of milk, while we eat breakfast.
7:15 Make oatmeal with apples and cinnamon for the twins breakfast.
7:30 Dressing older kids for school and feeding babies.
7:45 Getting everyone cleaned up, shoes on, hair done and into the car.
8:00 Leave for school.
8:15 Return home with twins. Leila fell asleep in the car, Lisa follows about 10 minutes later.
8:30-10:00 Mommy cleans up the house, does dishes and has second breakfast (finally, a cup of tea!), while babies nap.
10:15 Lisa is up from her unusually long nap. Leila follows about 15 minutes later.
10:30 Nurse Lisa and then Leila.
11:00 Wash dishes and prepare lunch for babies.
11:30 Lunch for babies - rice, carrots, broccoli and beans. Fruit for dessert.
12:00 Bath time for twins. It's much easier to give them a bath in the morning when the older kids are at school!
12:20 Bottles for babies
12:30 Play time
1:00 Lisa goes down for a nap, Leila is tired, but resists.
1:00-1:30 Alternate between eating lunch and trying to put Leila down for her nap.
doesn't she look tired?
1:30 Try lying down with Leila to rest a bit. Doesn't work.
1:50 Give up with the napping and buckle Leila into the car seat to go pick up the kids from school. One minute in the car and Leila is sleeping. Lisa stays (sleeping) at home with daddy.
2:10 Return with kids.
2:15 Leave big kids with daddy and buckle Lisa into her seat to go to the doctor.
2:30 Leave for doctors appointment. Spend ten minutes driving around the office trying to find parking. Nurse Lisa while we wait to see the dr.
3:45 Finish at doctors (routine check up) and head to the pharmacy to pick up a few things.
4:15 Home again, nurse Leila.
4:30 Wake Elena from her nap.
5:20 Whip up some supper for the twins.
5:30 Supper for the twins and making supper for the rest of us. Elena helps to feed the twins as I run back and forth between them and the stove.
6:15 Supper - whole family at the table, twins having their fruit dessert.
6:30-7:00 Kids watch one of their favorite TV shows, Jelly Jamm.
7:00-7:45 Big kids have baths with daddy, mommy gets twins changed and ready for bed, nurses Leila and then Lisa, dressing the big kids in between.
7:45 Daddy takes the big kids to bed, mommy finishes getting twins to bed, one more bottle and some medicine for Lisa.
8:15 Twins are out.
8:40 Big kids are out.
8:45 - 11:00 Mommy enjoys a cup of tea, conversation with hubby and a TV show before hitting the sack (a little later than usual - and it caught up with her when all the kids woke up before six the next day!)

If you made it all the way through that, congratulations! Today is shaping up to be pretty similar - at least until 10:30am - twins are waking up from their nap now. Onward and upward we go! Have a great day, readers!

Friday, 14 February 2014

7 Quick Takes + A Giveaway!

A lot of people have a bucket list called "30 before 30" or something similar. I don't have a list like that, but one thing that seems to be a recurring idea is to make sure you go to a concert of a favorite band or artist. As I was reading this point on someone's list, I thought to myself, well, it would have to be someone I really like for me to get to a concert. (Being more of an introvert, not particularly liking huge crowds, plus the issue of babysitting...)

So, to make a long story short...
I am so excited to see The Piano Guys with David! If you haven't heard of them, you should go check them out! I have been a fan of theirs for a long time. I've even played some of Jon Schmidt's piano music. A big thanks to David's parents for gifting us the tickets and offering to babysit our troop while we enjoy an awesome date!

So my wonderful mother-in-law just got back from a trip to Canada/US and, as always, offered to bring some things back for me. Without thinking I asked for some chocolate chips for baking. (Not available here or cost prohibitive :)) Unfortunately I didn't realize just how hot it was going to be when she came back. Let's just say my chocolate chips are a little less like chips and more like a, um, block? Nothing a little fridge time can't cure though. :) I may just have to eat some of the more melted ones.

Poor Elena is going through a tough time, being in the middle of the family. Not quite big enough to keep up with Lucas and often bears the brunt of his teasing. Now at times she is also tormented by the twins; they love crawling all over her if she lies down on the floor.
What do you do when your babies start crying? Especially if you can't pick them up or attend to them right away? In our house there seems to be a special quality to one particular children's song that just quiets my babies down right away. I'm not sure what it is about "The Wheels on the Bus" - but it works like a charm every. single. time. (It also means I sing this song a lot!)

While many people in the northern hemisphere are suffering through lots of winter storms, we are having a rather hot summer here. And what's better on a hot day than a nice slice of watermelon?

Did you know this week was Random Acts of Kindness week? Neither did I, until I read a friend's blog. Anyways, do something random and kind for someone today.


Here's my random act of kindess - a "random" Giveaway for a $15 Amazon Gift card. Use the rafflecopter below to enter. For an extra entry, like us on Facebook. Should a US resident win, they will receive an gift card, a Canadian will will an gift card.  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Another iPhone Photo Shoot - V-Day!

Although we don't celebrate Valentines Day here in Brazil I thought it would be fun to put together a little photo shoot with the twins. We do celebrate a similar "holiday" in June, but it is much more focused on couples rather than friendship and love in general, (and less candy which is good!) It is hard to believe that this time last year David took me out for breakfast - long-haired and big-bellied and now my little ones are almost 9 months old!

Anyways, enough sentimentality for now. We have a nice stone/brick wall in our parking space outside and it's a great place for setting up a shoot. I made a simple heart garland backdrop with four colors of cardstock; red, dark pink, light pink and white. Each heart was taped to a string and the strands hung up with masking tape. It was pretty windy so some of the other hearts had to be taped down as well.

Since my last "photo shoot" with the twins in December, they have gotten a lot more mobile! Making it that much harder to get a good shot. Also it's quite difficult to get them in position and then run back, pick up the phone and get the shot before they move. Difficult, as in, impossible. Twin photo shoot tip #1 - have at least one baby-wrangler on the scene!


Props are always a good idea when working with babies. Obviously they thought my backdrop was fair game too. I was hoping the blocks would keep them in one spot, but they kept coming after the "love" blocks I wanted in the foreground. My ideal shot was one of them holding "x" and "o" with the "love" in the foreground. Didn't happen.

More attempts...
More toys brought out to keep them immobile. Finally I resorted to cookies.

This is the best I got! Lisa is just incredibly hard to capture because she is always on the move!

I'm still glad I got to capture them at this exciting stage, because they are growing up so quickly and I can only imagine how much harder a photo shoot will be when they are walking!

Happy Valentines Day Everyone!! Spend it with someone you love. :) 

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Speaking Grace

Grace. It's kind of my word for the year.

Do you ever look at your children and feel like you are seeing them with fresh eyes? Almost as though you are seeing them for the first time, again? You notice the curve of their slightly upturned nose, the unique shape of their head. When I consider my children, they are Grace personified to me. I truly don't deserve them. They are not mine, but they are a gift to me. From the true Giver of Grace. And when I am struggling in the trenches of motherhood, feeling unworthy and under qualified, I am reminded of how much I need God's grace in my own life.

I want to speak grace.

I never really saw myself as overly impatient or quick to speak rashly or harshly. That, of course, was before I had kids! Somehow, in a matter of seconds, events escalate and I realize I am not speaking to them gracefully or graciously. Acknowledging that we are all sinners in need of a Savior has truly impacted the way I see my children - yes, they are beautiful, smart, unique, capable of many good things, but they are also sinners. And it is my job to guide and lead them to the only source of true goodness; a saving relationship with Jesus Christ and the work of His Holy Spirit to change their hearts. The way that I demonstrate this is often through my words - I want to speak of His love, His amazing grace. A book that my hubby and I are reading right now has really helped us to frame our everyday conversations (and confrontations) with our kids through the lens of grace. It's called (not surprisingly) "Give them Grace" by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick.

For me to speak grace into their lives, it needs to be working in my heart as well. I find myself mulling over this precious truth of God's grace in my life and praying for it to overflow to my kids. I want them to have a sense of grace in their lives and to see it at work in me.

So what does it mean to speak grace into the lives of my kids? It starts in my heart, receiving God's grace, allowing it to affect every area of my life. I pray for the fruit of the Spirit to be evident in my life; speaking with love, joy and patience. Being kind, gentle and compassionate. Always speaking the truth so that my kids can trust me. Using self-control when situations start to get out of hand. And in all things, good and bad, pointing my kids back to the heart-truth - that only through God's grace can I give grace to them.

Of course, I fail. All the time. I raise my voice, react too quickly, speak without thinking.

And that is what's so amazing about God's grace. He doesn't treat us as we deserve. Instead of seeing the sinful, broken being, He sees Jesus' righteousness and blesses us. This is the kind of grace I want to show my kids. And when I fail, His grace is sufficient for me.

He is working in my weakness to demonstrate His strength.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

The 3 E's of Easy* Parenting

Parenting is one of those things you go into without knowing exactly what to expect. An often easily attained title, being a parent is not easy. It's a call to lay down your life for the good of another; to put off selfishness and put on the virtues of patience, grace, mercy and compassion. It's a life-long role you fulfill in creating and guiding the precious lives of your children. And while it is something many, many of us experience, it is also a deeply personal journey; for every family, every child, is different.

When I consider parenting, I think of the commonly used phrase, "it takes a village" - and in our day and age our "village" is considerably bigger than it used to be. For we are not only connected to our immediate and extended families and neighborhoods, but through communities, schools, books, articles, media, news, internet, blogs and videos, we are exposed to so many different ideas and styles of parenting. Rules, tips, projects, schedules - whatever you're looking for you can find in spades!

This is what I've been thinking about as I raise my kids in a foreign country. There are cultural differences in the way we are raising our kids. And there is just so much information available about how to parent that it feels overwhelming. While it is amazing to have the whole world at your fingertips, there is danger as well. Time spent reading or researching can take time away from parenting. How many times have we sat there, scrolling through Pinterest for the perfect project, only to lose the time to actually do it?

As we look for answers to our questions, we can fall into the trap of setting up unrealistic expectations for our family and our kids. No one's life is "pinterest perfect"and we can't expect it to be. Having unrealistic expectations also leads us to compare our lives to others, coveting their apparently immaculate play-room or well-mannered children.

This is not to say we shouldn't use Pinterest, or Google, or participate on forums, or share ideas and tips on raising our kids. We should, however, be discerning when it comes to what we read, and how long we spend online. This is something I struggle with as my mind is always going a million miles a minute and I'm thinking about new recipes to try, projects for the kids, blog posts to write and wondering how many naps should my 8 month old twins be taking? 

So in an effort to simplify my parenting "style" I've been concentrating on three "E" words

Engage - Put everything else down and engage with my kids, in whatever stage or phase they're in. Cuddle my babies while they're young. Create Lego, paint and draw, play hide and seek and invest in my kids lives. Enjoy this stage, because it is going to be gone before I know it. Interact with your kids and invite them to be a part of what you're doing. This is not to say you can spend every minute with your kids, but they need to spend some time with you with no distractions.

Embrace - This season of life is short. Already my five-year old feels so big and my twins, babies no more. Treasure your kids for who they are, love on them and show it! Literally, embrace them each and every day. Embrace your role for this season. It means dirty diapers, snotty noses, potty accidents and lots of spills to clean up. It also means late-night snuggles, reading books with your kids on your lap, watching them discover the world, taking first steps and finding their place in this world.

Evolve - This parenting gig is one you take on with no previous experience. You are learning on the job. It's a steep learning curve which never really ends. Don't get bogged down by "rules" but be flexible in finding what works for your family. If it doesn't work, try something else. You shouldn't need to defend your parenting to anyone else. If you feel defensive, maybe there is something you know you should change.

There is no one "right" way to parent. Be wise with your time and your mind; fill it with Biblical principles, advice from those you look up to and trust. Read good books, find worthwhile articles and spend more time parenting than reading about parenting! While I am far, far away from having this parenting gig figured out, I'm finding that having these three words to think about helps to direct my time and focus my attention on what really matters; my precious kids and this privileged vocation called motherhood.

And now I've got to run as my twins are clamoring for my undivided attention! I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.
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