*He loves to be outside.  If he hears the doors open he will come running (stumbling) down the hall saying “si si”.  We think he is trying to say outside.

*His favorite book is ‘Goodnight Moon’.  He’ll bring it to you to read then when you try to read a different book, he’ll let you get about halfway through, push it aside, and hand you ‘Goodnight Moon.’

*He loves his bath and prefers the water to stay running.  He likes to stick his head under the faucet and drink the water.  His two favorite bath time toys are a rubber ducky and a plastic starfish.

*He likes to get attention, even if it’s negative attention.  Sometimes when you tell him, “NO”, he will look at you and smile, then repeat the activity, because he knows he’s getting a reaction out of you.

*He will sometimes “belly-up” to the kitchen table, where I keep the diaper bag, and suck on his pacifier, even though it is still attached to the diaper bag.

*He is obsessed with toilet paper and any other bathroom paraphernalia: The metal container which holds the toilet scrubber, the tissue holder, and the toilet bowl flusher.  I get very afraid when I see I have forgotten to close the bathroom door.

*He loves stuffed animals and anything soft.  He will sometimes pull his favorite blanket on the floor and roll around in it.  He loves to sleep with his favorite stuffed animals- bun bun and lamb lamb.

*He loves to hold your hands while you’re rocking him.  He will rub your arms and fingers, and hold onto your hands while stroking them.

*He has about a three to four letter vocabulary.  Dada, hi, and bye.  He will occasionally say Mama.  He used to babble Mama until he discovered saying Dada.  It’s been all about Dada ever since.

A Wedding. And a Divorce.


A few weeks ago, one of my best girlfriends got married. It was an honor to be there for her special day, and to be able to stand next to her as a bridesmaid.

Also standing next to her as a bridesmaid was our other very dear friend. She is going through a divorce.

The dichotomy of the two still sends chills down my spine.

In the midst of the celebration of two amazing people finding love, another life is falling apart because of a lack of love. While one man in a tuxedo proudly proclaimed his love in front of a hundred people, another man in sweats is sneaking around, cheating on his wife.

There were several moments during the day when my sweet friend had to leave the festivities to just weep. The “Father/Daughter” dance was especially hard.

My heart just ached for her.

It’s hard to know what to say in moments like those. She has two children. Young children. And her life is falling apart before her eyes.

So, sometimes, it’s better to say nothing at all.

Instead, I weep with her. And I hold my children a little tighter. And I give my husband a kiss, and say “Thank you.”

I once heard someone say that if everyone was forced to put all their crap in a big pile, take a step back and look at everyone else’s crap, every single one of us would gladly go back to the pile, and grab our own crap back.

Behind every smile, is a load full of crap. Be nice to someone today.Britney bridesmaid


The twins have been taking swim classes and have completed six classes. When they first started, Natalie would not put her face in the water and they were both swimming with floaties. Now they both swim underwater without floaties and are working on different types of strokes. Natalie can swim across the pool under the water or above, Julian only likes to swim under the water. Natalie is also very efficient at swimming on her back; Julian still has some work to do in that area. As the teacher says if we put them together we would have a swimmer!

This summer they have really grown up a lot. Not only has their swimming improved, but they also have mastered characters and the setting of a story. The next goal I have for them is to learn how to spell and write their last name, they already do that with their first name. I have made up a song, but it may take a bit longer to master it. I also need to work with them on their phone number and zip code. Other than that I think they are ready for Kindergarten, which they will start a year from now.

It is just amazing to think about the progress they have made from their time in the NICU. I have not had them professionally tested, but from everything I can see they are not behind. Brian thinks they do so well, because I have stayed at home with them. I do not know if they would be more advanced if they had gone to a full time preschool, but to me it does not matter. I have enjoyed every moment of being a stay at home mom. I think it has gotten easier and easier as they get older in most ways. Mainly, I found if I can get 8 hours of sleep I can handle almost anything. There are those days that I have lost my temper, and have been ready for a day off, which for the most part does not exist for me. I mostly have to give the credit to the children, because they are just a joy. Overall, they are very well behaved, play well with others and are very thoughtful as well. This makes my life much easier.

I was at my brother’s condo pool taking care of my twins as well as his two children, when a girl came up to me to tell me what a good mother I was and that she hoped when she became a mother she would be like me. I took that as a great compliment. These days the highest complements I can receive are on my children’s behavior and now my parenting. As we venture out into public, it is an often occurrence, the twins are complimented on their looks. I have taught them to use their manners and thank the people, but have also told them the highest compliment they could receive is on their behavior and that our behavior reveals our true beauty.

“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. “
Proverbs 31:30


Stats: 24 lbs soaking wet (approximately 3rd percentile). Currently wears size 12-24 months, with a lot of 24 month items still being too big. Jeremy says she’s nothing but bone and sinew. Our pediatrician said she’ll likely only be 5’1” or 5’2”, which is about the size of her genetic mother.

Personality: much bigger than her frame. She’s feisty and funny, but will only show that side if she’s comfortable with you. She’s suspicious of new people and situations. She can be very helpful and sweet and likes to have things in order. She will make sure doors are closed as needed, that Grant has his water bottle and toys are cleaned up properly. She fidgets a lot and can have trouble relaxing. When she’s comfortable, she will show her funny side doing things like a silly monkey walk. Maria does things on her own time and terms. She does require alone and one-on-one time and likes to spend time with me coloring and working puzzles while Grant is watching videos with Jeremy.

Regularity: whenever she feels like it; no set schedule. After a massive poo one day Jeremy asked her if she just waited until she could wait no longer and she emphatically said “YES!”

Favorite shirt: cupcake shirt; I have to make excuses as to why she can’t wear it or hide it. She’s very opinionated about her clothing.

Musical tastes: anything that has a video with animals. She’s also into singing ABCs and Jesus Loves Me.

Favorite TV show: anything with Elmo.

Favorite books: Green Eggs and Ham and the Bible. We have a Children’s Bible story book that is written much like a love story from God that has great artwork that she loves.

Favorite sport: not really into anything in particular. Likes to ride her bike and push her baby doll on her bike. She’s not all that coordinated, so we’re not really sure how she’ll do with sports. She enjoys swimming so maybe that will be an option.

Favorite food: right now it’s watermelon aka “mo mo”; she’ll eat an entire small melon in one sitting if I let her. She’s also a big fan of broccoli, cheese, and popcorn aka “pop pop”. If we’re struggling to get her to eat something, we just start to move her food to Grant’s plate, and then she’ll eat it.

She loves her baby doll, “Baby” and her blanket. She has hoarding tendencies and will try to carry as much stuff with her as humanly possible. She must sleep with her hello kitty, dolly, Baby, pony, and two blankets. She’s still on her pacifier for sleeping and we might have to cut the end off of it to break her from it. Grant bit the end off of his and it was surprisingly a non-issue and he’s binky free. She is quirky and funny and can be very sweet in spite of her intensity. Some of my favorite times with her are when we play peek-a-boo. “Hide, Mommy!” she requests and then lets out a great laugh when I “unhide”. She has laugh that comes from her belly and seems like it leaps from her without control. Her face lights up, eyes twinkle and she sparkles.


I often talk about Grant and Maria together, because they were a package deal. However, they are two very different individuals and I thought it would be good to give each their own profile. Because he was born first and is alphabetically first, Grant will get the first profile.

So here are some facts about Grant:

Stats: 29ish lbs. These are 29 solid pounds. He feels more like 40. I think he’s going to be stout as he gets older; this might explain his massive box like feet. He’s going to need a strong foundation. Currently he wears anything from 24 months to 3T. It’s frightening how not big a 3T is on him.

Personality: sweet and silly and all boy. He loves trucks and balls and is rather destructive, especially with books. He’s quick to offer hugs and when he doesn’t feel well, he just wants to cuddle. He’s more of a follower than a leader, and can be rather stubborn with following directions and gets easily distracted. He loves to figure out how things work and gets a priceless smile when he figures something out. He does have a fiery temper that can get him in trouble when he doesn’t get his way.

Regularity: loaded diaper every morning upon waking. Without question.

Favorite shirt: red t-shirt with trucks on it. I bury it in his drawer and he still digs it out.

Musical tastes: enjoys guitar and drums. He loves watching music videos on YouTube with Jeremy. In the evenings before bed, they will often watch a couple. He recently got his first exposure to Weezer and Alien Ant Farm; he seemed to enjoy. His favorites are Hillsong’s With Us, Needtobreathe’s Signature of the Divine and Keep Your Eyes Open and Travis Barker doing Soulja Boy…variety is the slice of life, right?

Favorite books: Opposites by Sandra Boynton; he loves to say the last word of the book – “Goodbye!”, Elmo and Friends at the Zoo, aka ELMO ZOO!, Green Eggs and Ham, and Animal Sounds. He has all the sounds down and when he and Maria do them together, it’s hilarious.

Favorite TV show: Sesame Street. It’s actually the only one we’ll let them watch. Sesame Street can allow chores to get completed in relative peace.

Favorite sport: soccer and basketball, but baseball and football are not far down the list.

Favorite food: he’ll eat pretty much anything we put in front of him, but is particularly fond of any kind of berry. Loves carrots; ate one out of the dog bowl the other day. I suppose there are worse things.

He loves to climb and hang from playground equipment and thinks that water guns are the best thing on the planet. He tolerates the heat well and tans just thinking about the sun. His hair is almost blonde this summer and if we let it grow he has lots of curls. My favorite times with him are at night rocking him before bed and I say that it’s time for me to put him down he’ll look at me smiles and whispers “no”. So, we rock for a few more minutes.


One of the challenges and sometimes fun part of having toddlers is figuring out what they are saying. Their language is progressing each day, but there are still times when I don’t have a clue on what is coming out of their mouths. Grant’s “yeah” has evolved to a Fargo “ya” and is now clearly “yes” with a bit of a smarmy French accent.
If you are around my kids and need help in interpreting their words, here’s a bit of a guide:
“I hummy” = I’m hungry
“Homey” (which is very close to “hummy”) = hold me
“Coley” = color
“Cowey” (not to be confused with “coley”= carry
“Baball” = basketball
“Peas” = please
“Dwank”(Maria) = drink
“Swank” (Grant) = drink
“Swee” = swing
“Sly” = slide
“I wan kick at Nono’s” = I want to kick (swim) at Nono’s
“Twee” = treat
“Pop pop” = popcorn
“Mo mo” = lawn mower
“Ca” = cart
“Twuck” = truck
“Ree” = rain
“Lellow” = yellow
“Powwy” = potty
“Me!” = Maria’s response when we ask her to tell us her name
“Bubble” = bubble or Bible
“Neigh!” = horse
“Awwy” = Ally or any other feline related animal
Things that you don’t need help understanding:
“Bye bye poo!” – Maria
“I can do it!” – Maria
“Thank you”
“No!” – Both, sometimes in stereo
“I’m two!” – Grant, holding up either one or four fingers.
I’m sure they’ll come up with something new by the time I get home and always love hearing an enthusiastic “HI MOMMY!” when I come through the door.


Happy Father’s Day!

I am so blessed to be married to a man who is so happy to be a father. This father’s day, I wanted the twins to really participate in the gift. So this year we made him a special picture book with many quotes from them, so here is what they think about their dad.

Thoughts from Natalie:
My Dad is 60 years old.
His hair is blond.
He weights 40lb.
His favorite food is pancakes and cereal. His favorite place to eat is Pizza Inn.
He is smart because he reaches stuff up high that I cannot get.
He likes to smile.
I love my dad because he lets me hang on him like a monkey on a branch of a tree.
I am proud of my dad because he swims underwater.
Dad always says, dang it and hush to the dogs.
My dad and I are the same because we both go underwater.
My dad is really good at fixing things.
It makes my dad happy when I clean things up.
The pickle monster makes my daddy laugh.
My favorite thing to do with my dad is to swim.
My dad is a special dad!
He is good at playing basketball.
My dad makes me laugh when he tickles me!
I know my dad loves me because he is not afraid of storms and he holds me.
If my dad was a superhero he would be Superman because he is a super dad to the rescue!
He is the best Dad because he loves us! (My favorite!)

Thoughts from Julian:
My Dad is 84 years old.
His hair is black.
He weights 32lb.
His favorite food is waffles.
He is smart because he loves me. (My personal favorite!)
He likes to work.
I love you dad, and I am going to pick a flower for you!
I am proud of my dad because he makes yummy food.
Dad always says, I love you and he calls me Justin Keith instead of Julian Keene.
Dad and I are the same because we both like to wrestle and we are different because God made us different.
I love my dad because he loves me.
My dad is really good at swimming.
When I giggle it makes my daddy laugh.
My Dad makes me laugh when the birdies show tricks, such as Raphael.
My favorite thing to do with my dad is to play baseball.
My dad is a great dad!
He is good at showing tricks.
Swimming with me makes my daddy happy.
I know my dad loves me because he wrestles.
If my dad was a superhero he would be Supergoof because he is a super dad !
He is the best Dad because he plays sword fights with me!


Julian asked me the other day when he would start Kindergarten. Then he wanted to know when they would be going back to preschool. They are out for the summer, but miss it already. I hope they always love school and have great teachers as they did this year.

I was feeling pretty bad for him, but then we got in the mail a VBS that was going on this week. I am happy to say, that will keep them busy this week. We will also be going to Splash Country with friends and family, and will have swim lessons as well. I hope we can find enough to do this summer and the countdown to school will not be something Julian asks about too often. Who would have thought he would miss it already since we have only been out for about a week.

What a blessing he loves to learn and that they like the school they go to. Natalie did complain about a little boy who was mean to her in her class and she was not looking forward to see him. That too is unfortunately a part of the whole school learning experience. I wish I could protect them from everything, but since I can’t I will just rely on God.


• Grant and Maria are talking up a storm; only about 50% is comprehendible. One major victory with speech was teaching the word “help”. They now say help (sounds more like “hope” from Grant) when they need help. This is a much better alternative to screaming.
• R’s and L’s are still the biggest challenges. Maria calls our dog “Chawie” and has now started saying “NO Chawie” when he gets too close to her food.
• They both like to help getting themselves dressed, and by help I mean they like to do it themselves. If you try to intervene before they ask for help, you get “No mine!” or “No me!” from them.
• They both like to climb in their booster seats and car seats. Again if you try to help we get “No mine!” or “No me!” I resisted this at first, but this skill ended up coming in very handy over the last week.
• On Friday, April 13, we put our house on the market. 8 days later we had a contract on it. I’m thankful for this because keeping a house “show ready” with two two-year olds is nearly impossible. The downside to having it sell so quick was that we had to kick it into high gear when it came to finding a new home. Long story short – this has not been easy. We have had contracts on two houses and threatened to walk from #2. I’m hoping our issues are resolved and we move forward. Living in limbo is no fun.
• I attribute living in limbo and my subsequent indulgence in bad food and caffeine to appendectomy I had last Sunday night. I have a high pain tolerance and after being doubled over for hours and knowing that the immediate care center doc was wrong – I did not have a virus – Jeremy took me to the ER instead of out to dinner as planned. 8 hours later I was home, minus an appendix. Apparently, I had an ovarian cyst explode and hemorrhage, which in turn irritated the bottom of my appendix. I would still argue that my appendix would have been fine, but I also can’t deny how much better I felt after surgery. When I fall off the wagon with food and caffeine, my ovary gets angry. Nothing like surgery to kick my butt back into gear!
• I told my surgery nurse about embryo adoption and that Grant and Maria were frozen for 7 years. I think she thinks it was the medication talking.
• I have a 15 pound lifting restriction for two weeks. Did I mention I have two two-year olds?
• After 8 days, I started lifting them up again. I feel good and am careful not to overdo it.
• Maria weaned. My belly bandages freaked her out and the milk must have tasted bad after all the meds. She doesn’t want to nurse anymore. I had to borrow my sister-in-law’s pump to get relief the 2nd day. That hurt worse than my incision. It was an abrupt end to our nursing relationship, but she seems fine. She still wants to cuddle during her normal nursing times, which is fine by me. 25 months was a good run.
• They both pull up my shirt and point to my incisions and say “uh-oh”.
• Grant peed on the potty yesterday. I’m not sure he really cared, but we still made a big deal of it. He’s more interested in sitting on the potty sans diaper than Maria is. I think we just had good timing yesterday. However, it does give me hope of a diaperless future.
• I hope life calms down soon.


Even though Grant and Maria are nearly two years old, I still find myself struggling with how to answer certain questions about them. It’s not uncommon for someone who doesn’t know about their beginning to ask who they favor with regards to appearance. I find this a difficult question, not because I don’t want to share about embryo adoption, but because it’s not always convenient to explain our story, especially to someone who saw me pregnant. I’ll blow the question off with a shrug of my shoulders and just say something like “not really sure” or just never really answer the question. Because I don’t want to seem like I’m trying to hide something, I don’t like shrugging it off and I think I need an “elevator speech” for embryo adoption…something that can be done in 30 seconds or less. When I do explain I say “We actually adopted them when they were frozen embryos; they are not genetic to either Jeremy or me. It’s pretty awesome that I got to give birth to my adopted children.” This will generally garner one of two reactions: blank look followed by agreement, or lots of questions. Again, I don’t mind the questions, but sometimes it’s just more than I really care to get into at any given time.

Another thing that I’ve encountered with is people still don’t truly understand the concept of embryo adoption. I’ve found there’s a lot of people who think we used donor eggs or sperm. This came up recently when someone commented on Grant’s tan and I said he is one-quarter Lebanese. From there the look told me she didn’t quite understand I said they were not genetic to either one of us. She was surprised because “they both look like Jeremy” and assumed we just used donor eggs. So, I explained that no, they were actual embryos and spent 7 years frozen and the light bulb came on, “So they were already put together…that’s so cool!”

I assume this is normal in this “brave new world” of embryo adoption and donation. I just wonder if other adoptive parents have had the same experiences and how they respond to such questions and comments?