Monday, April 29, 2013

P&C Week 16: The Better to See You With

The 16th week of this year was all about Drew, his eyes, and his new glasses.

We tried a couple of pairs before we found the right fit...



Got it!

Well, sort of.

They fit--minus...

1. Thursday's trip to the eye glass store to repair the nose piece that broke off while at school.

2. Friday's trip to the eye glass store to repair the bent right arm that also happened at school.

3. Three calls and two stops to different eye glass stores to see if they carried flex frames for kids, yielding exactly zero results for flex frames in his size.

4. Drew chewing off nose piece on Sunday when all eye glass stores were closed.

5. Drew hiding the glasses and sending us all on a scavenger hunt through the house until they were found.

But, when they're on and in one piece...

They make me smile--like Peas and Cheese.

P&C Week 15: Floaties

There's nothing quite like being able to sneak away for the weekend, like deciding to take a spur-of-the-moment trip to the beach, to a beach with a hotel with a heated indoor pool and lazy river (and still offering off-season rates).

And that's just what we did recently when we packed a small suitcase (okay, only 1 big suitcase for the 4 of us) and headed to Myrtle Beach for the weekend.

(Oh, and we brought along Grandma, Papa, Kaelyn, and GiGi).

(And Kelly and Tanner were already down there).

(Yes, it was a family affair).

Emily, Drew, and Kaelyn loved it all, but the pool was definitely their favorite part.

It was their first time in floaties.

Lots of fun and lots of love.

Weekends away. Oceanfront views. Family. Water babies in floaties. Makes me smile--like Peas and Cheese.

P&C Week 14: Dressed in Our Easter Best

This wasn't my favorite picture from this Easter...

This one was...

Because it's not about the bunny. Because our new clothes are just an outward representation of the new life offered through Him. Because they are master egg hunters. Because they shared their peanut butter eggs. Makes me smile--like Peas and Cheese.

P&C Week 13: Pictures before the Pictures

As I have admitted before, I am a sucker for pictures.

I take lots of pictures (most of which are sub-par quality).

I buy lots of pictures (of much better quality).

Currently, I am getting pumped up (read--I am shopping) for our yearly family picture session.

With all of the pictures, I don't need to buy the kids' school pictures.

But I usually do.

Even if I don't buy them, I get them dressed like I am going to buy them, and I always make sure we take our picture outside before they leave for school.

Yes. I take pictures before the pictures.

Given this series of pictures, perhaps you'll see why I usually buy pictures other people take...

Take 1--Both kids are at least in front of the door although one is way more interested in the train car than looking at the camera.

"Drew, look at the camera!"

Drew's cheese face

"Now put your arms around each other."

We'll take it! Just one more!

Mommy wants just one picture with her in it. Sure, she hates getting her picture taken. She's way too self-critical. She'll notice her wrinkles, the dark circles, her roots, her crooked smile...

But only for a passing moment.

Then she'll smile.

Waking up for another picture day. Holding my babies in my lap. Real life. Real imperfections. Real beauty. Makes me smile--like Peas and Cheese.

Monday, April 22, 2013

It's My Party, and I'll ____ if I want to...

Okay, so it's not technically my party.

It's really Emily and Andrew's third birthday party I am talking about, but they are turning three. Their concept of birthday parties is limited to singing "Happy Birthday" (over and over) and knowing that cake is involved.

But, for me, birthday party planning is serious business.

Marty thinks I am insane.

"They're turning three. They don't know. They don't care. What a waste of money."

(blah, blah, blah).

What a party pooper, I say.

When it comes to their birthdays, I just can't help myself.

For their first birthday, we threw a backyard beach bash.

Last year, I outdid myself by baking and decorating the cupcakes and the cake. I was so tickled, I had to invite Elmo. Seriously, how are we going to outdo Elmo?

Before I give away this year's theme, let's stop for a minute and consider the question of guest lists for kids who don't even really know they are having a party.

Emily and Andrew have a limited number of friends outside of family. I don't think this is too odd at this age. Lots of my friends have children that are close in age so I consider them friends by proxy. Together, I consider all of those friends to be a pretty cool guest list.

Two weeks ago, Emily received a birthday party invitation from a little girl in her class. My first thought was, "Oh, wow. I hadn't really thought about inviting kids in her class." She is just now talking about her friends and school and calling them by name. Would it be odd if the kid showed up at the party and I don't even recognize him/her or the parents?

My second thought was, "Poor Drew. Since the room split, he isn't on the party list." Try explaining to an almost- three year old that sissy is going to a bounce house party and he's not.

I know. I know. Being a twin doesn't mean that you get to automatically share friends. But, this invitation was to the whole class--the whole class that Drew was in.

I am not that parent. I wouldn't show up with him uninvited or ask if he could attend. My plan was to take him somewhere special by himself while Emily went to the party.

Thankfully, we were busy this past weekend, and the whole issue became a nonissue since neither one of them could go.

But it did leave me wondering about the proper party etiquette at this age. Invite the whole class or no? In our case, we'd be inviting two classes!

Back to the fun stuff...

Like, where!

At this point, I must make a confession. This year, I am guilty of party plagiarizing!

Party plagiarizing?

You know, when you see a cool party idea and totally rip it off--with credit of course!

If I had found the idea on Pinterest, I wouldn't feel the least bit guilty. That's what Pinterest is for--taking other's ideas to make yourself look creative.

But I actually know this mom! Granted she doesn't even live in this state, but still. I feel kind of shady.

Mandy--you know what they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

In January, Mandy threw her awesome twin girls an amazing fourth birthday party at a bounce house. The theme? Monkeys Jumping on a Bed!

What's better than jumping monkeys at a bounce house? Jumping monkeys at a bounce house--in pajamas!

A pajama party at a bounce house, complete with yummy breakfast food.

(For the record, I think a morning party for kids who still nap is the way to go! Without a nap, my kids are *crazy* by 2 PM--the time most parties start).

So, ta-da!

Two little monkeys jumping on the bed--
One smiled at the other and the other said,
"Let's call our friends and see if they're free
To celebrate the day we turn three!"

Pajamas. Breakfast food. Jumping monkeys, I mean, kiddos.

And, my gift to the moms--I promise we'll wear them out just in time for NAPS!

Marty says I can make any thing complicated. Stay tuned as I turn a simple party into a complicated affair. It's going to be fun making it hard!

I am so stinking excited about their birthday gift that I am practically jumping around like a monkey on a bed!

Anybody want to guess?

I'll give a hint. Then you'll just have to wait for a blog post--because this gift deserves its own post!

This year's present involves giving the monkeys a place where jumping and swinging are not only okay but encouraged!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

In and Out of Focus

I was a terrible photography student.

It wasn't that Shannon didn't try. I just didn't get it.

I couldn't even master the simple stuff--like getting photographs in focus.

Focus should be simple enough, right?

Use your auto focus. Focus on the subject. Make sure the light is sufficient so the shutter isn't open too long, causing you to miss the precious action shot. Steady your camera. And, don't forget depth of field--unless you want your subject to be only thing you see clearly.

But surveying my photographs, I see my focus is...






I realized today that my focus in life is much like the focus of my, out--fleeting, inconsistent, frustrating, and beautiful, even in its imperfections.

Join me as I focus in, and try to capture a picture of what I am talking about...

About a month ago, I was running late to pick up the kids from school. Almost as soon as I got on the road, a school bus pulled out in front of me and stopped. Great.

Then it just sat there. And sat there.

I drummed my fingers on the steering wheel and sighed heavily. I remember muttering something that sounded a whole lot like, "Jesus!" (and not in that biblical sort of way).


Just when I felt like laying down on the horn, the back of the bus opened up and the wheelchair ramp was lowered to let a boy who looked to be 10-12 years old out.

At that point, I felt like the ground should open and swallow me for being such an impatient, heartless...


I looked up and asked God to forgive my short-sighted, self-centered thinking, and I thanked Him for the two healthy children I was about to pick up (albeit late).

I drove on, in focus...

As I walked into school, the director stops me and pulls me into her office. Surely she wants to share something cute and funny my kids did today.

What? Results from an eye screening? What eye screening? I knew about it. I am sure I did. Okay, so maybe I forgot. What results?


Drew. Serious issues indicated. Follow up as soon as possible with an eye doctor. Emily's fine. Drew. Bad. Eyes.

OUT, really OUT.

It's 4:30 on a Friday. I am freaking out. Calling pediatrician for a referral. Calling the eye doctor for an appointment--for thirty minutes ago. Texting. Googling. Freaking...


Sometime later (maybe days later), the focus came back


Almost everything I read or heard indicated that the issue was treatable, maybe even correctable. Early detection and treatment were critical, and we'd definitely caught it early.

Thank goodness for screening. Thank goodness it was his just his eyes.

What were patches and glasses when I watched too many people around me deal with real tragedy--traumatic brain injuries, kids lost to freak accidents, friends battling cancer?

Who was I to whine about eyes and cosmetic concerns?

My focus was so...


After several weeks of waiting, our appointment with the pediatric ophthalmologist finally came.

This morning, I held Drew as the doctor dilated his eyes and looked at his pupils 47 different ways--47 different ways that all said the same thing...

My baby has a bad eye.

And just like that, my focus was way, way...


Drew has pretty severe hyperopia. This is a refractive error that many people call farsightedness, but the doctor says farsightedness really isn't an accurate term for what Drew experiences. While there is serious misalignment in his eyes, he can actually see okay up close and far away. The problem is that it's mainly his left eye doing all the work. It's compensating for the difference, and this difference is causing amblyopia, which is often called "lazy eye."

Because Drew's eyes look so normal, he's the classic example of why they do the camera screenings in preschools.

Without treatment, the amblyopia can lead to permanent vision loss in the weaker eye.

I must stop the medical explanations at this point to confess that only half of this information was intelligible to me at the appointment because my eyes were watery and my focus was completely, utterly...


While we waited for the drops to dilate his eyes, I came somewhat back


focus, as I digested what the doctor had said. We'd start immediately with glasses. After six weeks, we'll recheck and see if alignment is improving once the hyperopia is addressed. If not, we'd talk about patching the good eye to help the "lazy" eye strengthen. How could I not be IN when there was a plan? How could I not be IN when I was blessed enough to have the means to pay for his treatment, to fix a problem that so many could only hope to correct?

I was


for 30 minutes.

Until the doctor signed the prescription and handed it to me with paper sunglasses for Drew to wear until his eyes recovered from the dilation. And just like that, I was...


How will he handle the glasses? What about sports? What about kids picking on him? What about...

My depth of field was so shallow, so focused on what was right there but really so far away...

As I smiled on the outside and told Drew how cool his glasses were, inwardly I was so fuzzy, so blurry.

In the middle of the blur, I took a call and learned that yet another friend is now facing cancer. And, just like that, God corrected my focus yet again.




I'll take the glasses. I'll take the disappointment. I'll take the uncertainty.

Because, right now, right here, I see very clearly, very sharply, how blessed I am.

Glasses. A bad eye.



Just like my photographs, I was focusing on the wrong thing.

I moved too quickly.

I didn't let the light in.

I only focused on what was right in front of me instead of seeing the whole picture.

My prayer tonight is that I can maintain the focus, that I can continue to see what is most important, that I can continue to keep this beautiful picture called life

IN focus.

Oh, and while I am praying, I am also going to ask God for a little help persuading a certain almost 3 year old to keep his cute new glass ON his face once they come in next week!

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