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2.5 years old.

My sweetie pie honey bunch is 2.5 years old!  And as you can see from these photos, she’s rock’in toddlerhood!  My Dhara-dear is a precious, precious gift to Greg and I.  We love hearing all the interesting things she has to say.  And boy does she have a lot to say!  Since her brothers arrived, she’s learned to play on her own more since mama is busy with two babes.  It’s fascinating to watch her use her imagination.

Speaking of brothers, I love how she loves on them — I happened to walk in on her one day as she says to one of her sweet brothers in a crackly old lady voice, “Hey there little fella!”  She loves kissing them and just being near them.  She showers them with, “Oh, you are so cute!”  She always wants to hold them — not a very safe idea because she puts her arms around their midsection and lifts without a care.  Not a good thing!

Dhara definitely seems older than her 2.5 years.  She loves being outside, she loves being in her pajamas, and she loves chocolate.  And like always, she loves to be read to.  Some of our favorite books these days are the Little House on the Prairie children’s books like, “Dance at Grandpa’s” — which I didn’t know existed until Greg and Dhara brought it home from the library!  Love it!  Can’t wait to start the series with my girl…

Her hair is getting long.  I’ve never cut it, but I’m debating whether I should or not because I’ve heard cutting keeps hair healthy?  Although I know I’ll feel really bad cutting it because I love seeing her wear her twisted chignons proudly and beautifully.  By the way, interesting to know that her daddy is, by far, the best at putting her hair up — even better than my mom or I.  [Thanks to Greg’s mom who bought Dhara the cute tutu dress.  I’m not a big tutu fan, but this one is adorable!]

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strawberry picking.

I recently got a much needed break — Dhara and I went strawberry picking along with a new friend from church, Juanita, and her kids, Owen and Julia.  Yes, it’s fruit picking season, and I’ve really been looking forward to desserts made with freshly picked fruit.  So yum.  After picking to our hearts content, we headed back home to make jam!  We made 4 kinds — plain ol’ strawberry, strawberry orange, strawberry pear, and spicy strawberry.

strawberry brain freeze

smith twins: 3 months old.

It seems that blogging is much harder to do when you have more than one child, at least that’s been the case for me.  Gone are the days when I had all the time in the world when it was just Miss Dhara and I at home during the day.  These days it’s all about putting babies down for naps, taking short walks around the house with them when they’re awake because they love to look at the world around them, feeding, making meals interesting to my daughter, cleaning, cleaning and more cleaning.  The cleaning never ends.

But what’s the most exciting part of these last 3 months?  My baldy boys are over their colic/gassiness, well for the most part!  It feels sooo good to put them down for naps that last longer than 10 minutes!  They also smile alot now, and coo, and baby talk — oh, let the fun begin!  I was waiting for this stage, and whew, we’re finally here…

Rohan, not as serious as in the photo set above.  He is actually quite the opposite. I imagine him to be of the jolly sort when he’s older because he is all smiles.  His smiles consume him, as if he’s going to fall over from the sheer joy of it all.  I wasn’t able to capture any of it in this shoot because he was so enthralled/stunned by the camera.  I think he’s going to be a talker — he absolutely loves being in your arms, looking you right in the eye, and making conversation.  Rohan is also my squishy one.

Kieran is energetic and also loves being near people like his daddy.  These days he’s pretty enthralled by his fist and what it tastes like.  When you move his hands from his mouth, he’ll give you a charming smile like he knows he’s doing something he’s not supposed to be doing.  He also loves standing on his legs.  Kieran is generally very laid back and chill, but when he’s mad, oh he’ll let you know!  And Rohan is generally happy and cuddly and super expressive, but when he’s sad he makes it known.  Let’s just say that both boys have quite the set of lungs, and use them well!  It’s so amazing to Greg and I how different our two boys are.

the aunty who helps me with the kids loves to sit on the floor (in true Indian fashion), and dhara loves it too, so all on the floor they go!  dhara reading to the boys with her book upside down.

smith twins: 2 months old.

[Overdue May 25th Post/Photos].  My baby boys are growing into chubby little fellas.  It’s weird to think I gave birth to tiny 5 pound babies when my daughter was a 9 pounder!  Now, at 2 months old, they look alot like Dhara when she was born [in terms of their size].  This last month was really rough.  My poor babies were colicky/ gassy.  They still cry alot, and don’t sleep very long before gas pains wake them up.

This second month was the month I was supposed to be on my own with the kids since everyone at home works.  (Eeeee!  Home alone with colicky twins and a toddler is a scary thought).  The first month was covered with Greg staying home for 3 weeks, and then my super helpful sister who took off a week of work to help me with the kids.  This second month would have been a nightmare had it not been for my mom who was prayerfully determined to find help.

So we hired a Liberian woman named Cecilia to help me with the kids during the day.  After a week we realized that wasn’t going to work out.  Next, we immediately found the sweetest Indian aunty to help us with the kids.  She’s a godsend, I love her!  And she loves the kids like they are her own grandchildren — I love watching her with them.  The funny thing is that I only speak English and she only speaks Malayalam (our native dialect) — but we make it work and it’s better than I could have imagined — thank you Jesus!  So with her help, the both of us have managed to run around the house like crazy women consoling these two little ones.  Even though it’s been rough on the boys and us, these little guys have really begun to carve themselves into this family, and we love them for it:

Rohan: A sweetheart.  He’s sooo cuddly + squishy, just look at those cheeks!  He’ll give you a full blown smile, and it’s the most endearing thing.  He reminds me of my dad + brother.

Kieran: Also a sweetheart!  He’s strong + serious, yet will smile at you from the corner of his mouth revealing a very charming smile.  He reminds me of myself + Dhara.

rohan / kieran

practicing their synchronized swimming moves

on one of the quilts grandma sandy made for each of them

 

outdoor dining.

A very happy happy birthday to my little sister, Becky, also known on this blog as Zuma or Zumie.  My sister is a special girl through and through. She’s thoughtful, sensitive, and always thinks about the well being of others.  She’s got a servant’s heart times 10.  Even if she doesn’t want to do something, there’s something wired in her blood that lays her will down for the sake of the other person — sadly not something I can say I fully have, but her example to me has really shown me how it’s supposed to be done.

She’s also grown into such a classy lady.  There was a day when she would run to my closet for an outfit, but now I go to hers!  It’s neat to see how our tastes are alot more in line as we get older — I’d like to take some credit for rubbing off on her in someway or another over the years.  : )

Her dedication and devotion to Jesus this past year has also grown in such a beautiful way.  It’s a wonderful thing to see someone actually lean on Jesus.  Not just in words, but also in action and deed.

In honor of her birthday this year, I rummaged through the home goods section of my belongings in my parent’s basement (yes, I put up signs in my parent’s basement) and chose some special linens and an array of vintage dishes for a quaint backyard dinner surrounded by 8 of her closest girlfriends.  With the help of a couple friends, I cooked up a meal of spinach strawberry salad, stuffed mushrooms, bread, grilled chicken tandoori tacos, spring vegetables, a vegan dessert mousse, banana dream cake (and it was a dream!), and lastly a Whole Foods strawberry shortcake (thanks Gifty!).  Supper was scheduled to be served after sunset.  After the sun set, the outdoor lights were turned on, the candelabra lit, I donned my apron, and the table set for a cozy dinner surrounded by the cool night air.

There is surely something romantic and cozy about outdoor dining.  It’s something Greg and I hope to do lots of when we move to our own place.  I’d love a backyard patio adorned with twinkly lights, hanging vines, wildflowers, and an outdoor farmhouse table always set for a meal to share.  I love bringing out the good dishes when I plan a meal.  Sure there are tons to wash afterwards, but it makes dinner all the more special.  The way I see it, planning a meal takes thoughtfulness and creativity — the whole process of bringing people together around a table to break bread is special and totally worth all the effort and time put into it.

mama day 2012.

[…I’m a week late in posting this — unfortunately my blog time has been cut in half!  But I’m hoping to update it at least once a week from here on out.]

You won’t usually see me in photos — let’s just say I’d prefer to stay behind the camera.  However, after Dhara was born, I started thinking that for posterity’s sake, I needed to be purposeful in being in the occasional family photo, like here and here.  Even though I dislike being in photos, I think it’s important that my children have photos of us together.  I want them to have photos of a young mama with her young kiddos.  There’s something beautiful about seeing a picture of your parents when they were young parents.  I want to make sure that in all the hustle and bustle of this life, my kids have a few pictures of me to look back on — even if it means only once or twice a year like Mother’s Day and Christmas.

Mother’s Day this year was pretty swell.  It started off on Saturday with Greg’s parents coming into town and cooking us an amazing meal of grilled barbeque and teriaki chicken, grilled steak, grilled pork tenderloin, beans, quinoa, cornbread, lemon meringue pie, cherry pie and a large bowl of delicious fruit.  What a blessing that was!  Thank you Dad and Mom, it meant so much to us!

On Sunday (Mother’s Day), we ended up staying home from church because the boys have been really fussy due to gas.  Greg let me get a few hours of rest while he watched the boys — a real treat since sleep is so hard to come by these days!  I was also given the gift of an awesome, awesome retro pistachio colored Kitchen Aid Artisan stand mixer.  And lastly, my darling husband and daughter got the garden ready for this year’s small crop — there was no way I could do it with the twins this year.

love how my little busy bee, dhara, is perched on the edge of the garden bed

[If we’re friends on Facebook, you may have noticed my love for Instagram.  Been using it everyday since I got the app a couple weeks ago — it’s such a great way to capture life everyday, because for the most part I don’t have a camera handy, but I do have a cell phone!  Love it!]

Mother’s Day got me thinking…  In the 4 years we’ve been married, we’ve been blessed with three children.  I always wanted kids, a large family even.  However I must say that child rearing is hard — the hardest thing I’ve ever done — and my kids are young, all two and under!  The challenges only get bigger from here on out.  Motherhood means laying my life down for them on a daily basis — not an easy task!  It takes discipline and selflessness.  And yet, there’s a joy that comes when I look at my children, even though I know life isn’t easy.  There’s a love that grows for them every single day.

I feel so blessed to be called a mother, and be given such a cool and out-of-this-world-rewarding job to care for these little treasures. [2011, 2010].

smith twins: 1 month old.

rohan [left] / kieran [right]

rohan [left] / kieran [right] by CHP

The boys are already a month old!  It’s the weirdest thing to look at the two of them and know they are mine — these two sweet sweet baby boys.  I know the common term among little boys is that most are “mama’s boys,” but I never really liked that term — maybe it’s because I usually like to go against the grain of tradition.  Dhara is my mama’s girl — she’s my buddy, my little partner in crime.  However, Greg tells me that in time these boys will occupy a part of my heart that not even my little girl can.  I’m excited to see what that feels like.  We shall wait and see.  : )

Rohan is my baby with the stormy blue-grey eyes.  He’s the elder and the smaller of the two.  He smiles all the time in his sleep — his smiles revealing two huge dimples which I love.  He makes the funniest old man noises when you move him around in your arms — I joke that it’s because he hates being manhandled.  The past few weeks have been hard on him because he seems to be having a bad bout of gas which often wakes him up from his slumber.  If he’s not troubled by gas, he seems to be a very content baby who loves watching his surroundings with great big curious eyes.

Kieran is my sturdy boy.  He’s strong and contemplative and loud.  His sturdiness reminds me of Dhara when she was born — she was also a strong little baby.  Most people who see Kieran say he looks like me.  He loves when you talk to him.  He’s beginning to smile more and more, and like Dhara, he’s got one dimple on the left cheek.  He loves to sleep and can sleep for a few hours at a time during the day.

kieran [left] / rohan [right] by CHP

I’m not going to lie — caring for two babies (and a toddler) day in and day out is not easy.  I never thought it would be easy, but I never thought it would be this hard!  The looong nights of feedings, the endless diaper changes, constant bouts of gas, and two babies crying at the same time.  Whew!  Sometimes I just want to give up.  But the thing is, I can’t give up — this is a train that’s going whether I like the grueling pace or not — no stops, no breaks.  I know this newborn stage is rough, especially since they were born 4 weeks prematurely.  Even though it’s rough, I know it’s also fleeting and will be done before I know it.  A part of me is looking forward to a couple months from now when they are more engaging and sleep longer through the night!  All in all, we are totally in love with them and feel so blessed to be given two little boys even though it may be hard at times.  They are a gift and we are grateful.

rohan [left] / kieran [right] by CHP

A huge thank you to Chelsea Hudson Photography for the amazing photos of the boys!  If you remember our love story from a month ago, we won a photo shoot and we chose to use it on the boys!  Love her stuff!!!  Check out her blog for more of her lovely work.

rohan hudson + kieran tozer.

Our twin boys are finally here!  Meet Rohan Hudson + Kieran Tozer.  (First names pronounced “row-haan” and “keer-in.”)  And 4 weeks early too!  Rohan and Kieran, fraternal twins, were born at 36 weeks gestation via cesarean section on Saturday, March 24th, 2012 because my water broke at 3 AM that morning.

Rohan, the elder of the two [by a minute], was born at 9:32 AM at 5 pounds/6 ounces and 19.25 inches long.  Kieran, was born at 9:33 AM at 5 pounds/13.4 ounces and 18.5 inches long.  Greg and I are truly in awe of these little people. It’s the sweetest thing to see our two boys laying together in their cot, forehead to forehead like best buds.

Like Dhara’s name, it was important to us that we choose meaningful names that represent our heritage.  The boys’ first names are Indian.  And if you are wondering about their middle names, Greg was keen on naming them after mighty men of God who lived their lives for the glory and honor of God.  Men who made an impact for the Kingdom.  Men who the boys can look to as a godly example and inspiration as they grow into men.  When Greg told me of his idea for middle names I immediately fell in love with it, hence the names Hudson and Tozer!

Rohan:  in Sanskrit, it means the one who takes the higher path; ascending; it also means healing, medicine / Hudson: after Hudson Taylor; radical missionary to China, man of faith, purpose, and resolve — a man who changed a nation.

Kieran:  in Sanskrit, it means ray of light / Tozer: after A. W. Tozer; Christian writer, a man of clarity and understanding, a man who knew God, encouraged others and helped others passionately pursue God.

our little smith dudes

Health-wise, we are so thankful that the boys have normal levels of jaundice, unlike what we went through with the Dhara-girl.  And my incision from the c-section is healing nicely.  Exciting news — we also may be going home today! [We joke that the babies aren’t really ours until we have permission from the hospital to take them home — until then, the babies belong to the hospital.] Overall, we are so grateful for all the prayers and love we received these past 9 months, and are so excited to now be a family of five!

pregnancy, post birth + baby must haves.

There is always a word on the street — always people giving their opinion on what product is good and what you need for every season of your life.  I really appreciate recommendations and reviews because it helps me make a decision.  Well, the word on my street is that the following is my personal running list of must haves for pregnancy and post-birth.  I relied or am currently relying heavily upon all of them:

Pregnancy Must-Haves:

  • red raspberry tea or Mama’s Red Raspberry Brew – I purchased my organic tea in bulk from Bulk Herb Store — it’s something both Greg and I enjoy drinking before bedtime — here are the benefits of red raspberry tea
  • calcium pills
  • DHA pills
  • wheat germ
  • evening primrose oil
  • belly salve – I use Mama Bee Belly Butter
  • rice sock – handmade in my Bradley Method Class
  • yogurt – Greek yogurt especially is high in protein

Post-Birth Must-Haves:

for breastfeeding:

  • Mama’s Milk Tea – if you plan on breastfeeding, this is a tea that helps in the production of milk — purchased in bulk from Bulk Herb Store
  • oatmeal – oatmeal also helps in the production of milk
  • cloth breast pads – as a nursing mom, I went through so many disposable pads, that I ended up investing in cloth pads or you can make your own
  • Medela nursing stool – this is one of those items that worked out so well for me! it was sooo very helpful with nursing a baby!
  • Boppy nursing pillow – this time around I made sure to have 2 — one for home, and one for the car
  • breast pump
  • Maternity nursing bra – unlined, cotton, soft, so easy

for a comfortable baby:

  • pacifier – I know some moms have a problem with pacifiers, but this was so helpful at calming baby and putting her to sleep — after 4-5 months she weaned herself off it
  • warm mist humidifier – great for fall + winter months when babies’ noses get too dry
  • Aden + Anais OR Luna Lullaby Blankets – these are GREAT swaddle blankets; now that I’ve been using these, the typical sized receiving blankets seem worthless to me — for some reason I’ve noticed the Target brand of Aden + Anais are made of a better quality than the regular Aden + Anais blankets
  • kimono onsies + tops – love my kimono onsies from Kate Quinn Organics and Nature Baby
  • changing table – as a recommendation from my cousin, I got my Pottery Barn changing table off Craigslist — I LOVE it!  It’s been my most used and loved baby must-have
  • changing pad covers – along with a changing table, I LOVE my quilted covers from Land of Nod — I would never go back to any other cover!
  • a soft, smooth diaper rash ointment – cooling – Burt’s Bees Diaper Ointment
  • pre-bath oil – Burt’s Bees Apricot Oil or jojoba oil
  • baby sling and/or baby carrier – we love the Ergo carrier

What is something that you recommend as a must-have for pregnant women, new mommies, or baby?  I would love to hear!

35 weeks pregnant with twins.

Only a few more weeks before we see 2 of everything — for the rest of our lives.

Today marks my 35th week of pregnancy, and I can truly say I’m so ready to meet these little guys.  While I’m SUPER excited to be a mom of twin boys, I’m also intimidated at the thought of how my life will change taking care of two babies in addition to a toddler, and how I’ll ever love them as much as I love Dhara.  How can that much of me go around, and go around thoroughly?  I hear this is a question most moms wonder when pregnant with their second child.  But it’s truly a valid question, and one I am anxious to find the answer to.

As of now, I’m having to go into the city for monitoring and ultrasounds twice a week!  This weeks’ monitoring proved that one twin sleeps while the other takes the night watch — they aren’t usually awake together.  Position-wise, Baby A is breech, and Baby B is transverse — if they decide to stay in these positions I am quite certainly a candidate for a c-section between 37-38 weeks.  I’m coming to terms with this if it’s what needs to happen, but I’m still praying for a miracle!

In other baby news…  We get the question quite often, “So have you picked out names???”  Sadly we have to tell those folks that the boys’ names are a secret until their birth — it’s more fun that way.  Though one thing you can be sure of is — our names don’t rhyme — no matter how much my grandma would like them to.  : )

My sweetie-pie grandma also tends to think twins should always dress identically.  I was initially super against this notion of dressing twins identically because I’m a real proponent of having one’s own identity and being your own person.  BUT, as I’ve shopped around for boys clothes these past few months I’ve found that I can’t just buy one really cute outfit because the other twin would need to look equally as cute.  : )  SOOO, on occasion you will find my twins wearing identical outfits or outfits that are identical but in different colors.  Speaking of boys clothes, I’ve finally discovered I love little boys in cardigans and I love stripes!  The options for cute boys clothes are so limited because most come adorned with little funny characters or cars, trucks, and dinosaurs.  Good thing there are still stripes!  And leather suspenders are definitely a plus.  ; )

Also, we are officially owners of a mini van!  Never wanted to be the mom driving a mini van — we wanted something more like a Suburban — but after driving the van for a few weeks now, I can vouch that it’s a very, very comfortable ride.  Plus, I can’t imagine toting 2 carseats back and forth from a Suburban — can you?

As these last couple weeks come to a close, I still have to wash baby clothes and cloth diapers, hang the swinging bassinet cradle, possibly find a king bed on craigslist, steam clean our bedroom carpet, and pack my bags.  Crazy that two will be joining us in no time at all…but oh so exciting!