Saturday, April 14, 2012

Running with the bulls

Over the years, Brad has done a GREAT job introducing the girls to sports.
Brad is very athletic and wanted to make sure that his girls were exposed to sports, not just to give them physical activity... but I'm pretty sure he is grooming them to be his bike/hike/snowboarding companions over the next few years.

Ana and Keira at Nature Center : Favorite Destination
Either way, the girls have amazing endurance.  You see, if you run your kids around constantly, they get tired and sleep well.  If you keep running them around, they gain endurance and need more... running around.

At this point, the girls can handle 4 hours of swimming, riding bikes and still need to run off energy.
Brad is CONSTANTLY taking them to their physical limits and is always pleasantly surprised by the results.
Climbing to the top of Enchanted Rock at age 2 1/2?  Of course.
2 1/2 hour bike ride through mud?  No problem. 
8 hours of ski school?  "Daddy, can we play outside in the snow when we get back?"

They're incredible children.

Good news: Our girls are GREAT at hiking and demanding sports activities.
Bad news: We’ve never submitted them to mall-walks and adult shopping, so they’re like feral, wild children being brought to civilization.
Bull in a china shop.

Photo: BBC
Today's jaunt to REI went as expected.
We were TRYING to get warm weather clothes for the girls for upcoming hiking trips.  In the end, I think I brought them outside for a "talking to" once, made them sit on the ground with their hands folded twice, shook my finger in their faces with promises to End All The Fun Things, and finally... finally... I see it... a tent.
They ran to the other children in the tent and zipped themselves inside.
Thank you, REI... for making a cage for my feral children so appealing.

Tomorrow... tomorrow I go to the mall to buy pants for myself.
What will start as just a depressing expedition to buy Mom Pants will end in me stomping out of the mall, past Cinnabon's sweet smells and drooling patrons, past the part-time helpers offering free lotion testers... holding the hands of two scolded, feral children.
I will sit in the car and wait until I hear the click of the seat-belts and I'll make a thin vow to myself to never ever go to the Sad Place With The Pants again... and then I'll hear a faint question from a sorry little girl in the back seat, "Mommy?  But do we get to ride bikes when we get home?"

Saturday, February 18, 2012

"They're coming out of the walls..."

I'm glad I got the girl's hair cut.
They were starting to look like Newt.

Keira working on her 1st quilt (and a bad picture)

Saturday, February 11, 2012


You could say that I struggled with infertility.  The problem here is that “struggled” is an inferior word. 
I struggle to get the lid off a jar of pickles.  I struggle to remember the name of my High School English teacher.
You do not struggle with infertility.   
You wage a full out war.

Many battles were lost for years.  Brad and I would retreat, refocus, come up with a battle plan.
The analogies are endless here.

Needless to say, I was at the end of 4 ½ years of war when my Doctor told me to surrender.  Her words were, “Wrap your brain around not having kids.”  She told us that we would have 2 more chances.  I had the three months between October – December of 2005 to prepare myself for the last battle.

In November of that year, I came up with a post-war plan.
First, I would buy a Mercedes… a nice Mercedes… and I would name it “Daycare”.  Average daycare costs are around $800 a month per child, so I thought that I could buy into a nice car for that much.  It was going to be spectacular.
I also decided to spend a lot of money on quilting projects.  My friend, Dianne, watched in horror at the Houston Quilt Festival as I filled multiple bags with projects.  I, of course, stayed away from children’s quilts.  (Another stab through the heart).

That next January, I became pregnant with my children.
It was not the case of “just relax and it will happen” that so many people quoted to me over the years. 
(If you have ever said that to me, take a few moments to beat yourself around the face and neck.  Also, piss off.)
I got (and stayed) pregnant from an arsenal of hormones, controlled daily checks, self injections, weekly Doctor visits and modern medicine.
There was no relaxation in this process.

So, here we are… 6 years later… and DAMMIT I still have a LOT of projects to finish from that festival!

"If you are going to go through hell, keep going."
- Winston Churchill 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Keep Exploring

Columbia (STS-107) did not land 9 years ago this morning. It was an awful, sinking, hopeless feeling to watch the news footage of it breaking up over Texas. Within 15 minutes, I was at work...

Over the next few months, my coworkers scoured the fields of East Texas looking for pieces of the broken orbiter.  We documented the debris.  We cataloged the imagery. 
We hunted, desperately, for cameras.
In 2003, we were still flying film cameras onboard the shuttles.  These cameras, and any found film, were priceless to those of us working in Building 8 at NASA's Johnson Space Center.

I remember holding a Hasselblad that was delivered to me by a tired, hopeless coworker.  I held the charred camera.  The film back was still intact.  There was likely film in it.  The camera was exposed to the catastrophic reintry to the earth's atmosphere, heat, plummet to the earth, impact and then the elements of East Texas for weeks.  Rain, heat, cold... none of it was good for the film, likely ruined inside.

I was right.  The film was charred on the outer edges.  Most of the film on either side of the leaders were destroyed.  Only a few frames of the film in the very inside of the film magazine survived. 
This image:

The crew portrait.  Each crew takes one while onboard the shuttle or station.
The tears that were shed the day we found this portrait are beyond counting.
I'm not one to look towards the heavens to do anything but look at the stars or be humbled by it's vast expanse... but this?  This image that survived?
I needed that. 

I needed it to keep working and to mourn the death of my coworkers and friends.
I was at work, because Human Space Flight is the most important thing we humans do. We owe it to our friends and coworkers that we lost that morning to remember them and remember why they (and so many others) risk their lives for space travel.
Hug your fellow astronaut today.
Keep exploring.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Rock bands from the 80s would disagree

Quotes from Keira while watching tennis, "Nadal punched the air. Nothing will actually happen if you punch the air."

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Master Of The Obvious

Keira, like most 5 year olds and many members of my immediate family, tends to state updates on what is going on around her. 
In my family, you can easily be labeled as MOTO... Master Of The Obvious.

Keira.  aka "MOTO"
This morning, Keira was simply rambling about her observations when Ana gave a heavy sigh and said, "THANK YOU, person who tells me things I already know!"

And so it begins.

Monday, January 23, 2012

"I've got to go to potty from all this"

Ana can ride her bike!

Could I get her to ride without training wheels?  No.
It took seeing one of her friends riding to give her the courage to try.  Peer pressure FOR THE WIN!

As soon as Ana saw her friend riding her bike, she BEGGED me to let her ride. 
Just the next day, we have this:

Keira can clearly ride on her own, but she was really not motivated by peer pressure to ride for longer than a few minutes without training wheels. (Lack of peer pressure for the win?)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Good news. It's not a train.

I am a long time lurker of quilt blogs, book blogs, twin blogs and the like.  I started my own blog to tell the girl's stories to my distant family members.  It morphed to be a little online record of my girls...and then I promptly ignored it to pursue other interests... mainly quilting, reading and raising twins... not in that order.

It wasn't until my friend Kellie (a famous quilt designer and blogger) said, "Oh, this is my friend Maura... but she doesn't have a blog" that I blinked.  I have a blog, I thought.

Do I dare take the plunge into blogging about my quilting projects or reviewing books that I have read?
Is this another happy symptom of my girl's age and growing independence at age 5?

Just a few years ago, which can be measured with my children's
A lifetime ago, I would NEVER have imagined having "free time" in which to quilt, read and post on the internet.  Life was a brutal struggle of basic needs and daydreaming of sleep.

A lifetime ago, I didn't need a date night.  I NEEDED someone to watch my kids so that I could take a nap.
Books?  HA!  Quilting?  Can you do that instead of shower?

Is a new life really here?  Am I really back as a person?
Please note the shirt says, "Yes, I have my hands full."
It seems that I'm picking up long abandoned projects.  Reading books that have been on my list since... well... we won't count decades here.  Depressing.
Reading a book about raising kids to the girls (2006).  It was not effective.  They didn't get it.

Me at the International Quilt show with the girls in 2007.
I see the light at the end of the baby-years tunnel... and it was not a train.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


This past week, Ana was student of the week.  The teachers put up a picture of Keira.
They’re fraternal twins.   
They do not look alike.

That is usually the comment that I get about the girls.  People expect that twins will be the same in looks and personality. 

To begin with, my girls are fraternal.  So, although they were born at the same time, they were created by two separate eggs.  They are siblings born at the same time.  They’re even physically different… Ana is short, muscular, dark hair, and dark blue eyes.  Keira is taller, lanky, blond hair, and light blue eyes.

Secondly, I can tell you that identical twins ARE IN FACT DIFFERENT PEOPLE.  My nephews are identical and are two very different personalities.  Their separate personalities and likes are actually making them develop differently.  Eric is starting to bulk up with weight lifting.  Sean is a lean runner.  Just to review… even identical twins are different people.

Now,  when you raise two people (from the same parents) in the same environment (and at the SAME TIME), you would EXPECT similarities.  Genetics and the study of epigenomes have taught us that very fact!  That is not the case here.

My girls are night and day.   
Morning person, night person.   
Chocolate and vanilla.   
Barbies and Spiderman.   
Anastasia spends her time coloring and Keira spends her time finding bugs… I am forced to make a package of vanilla and chocolate pudding for dessert, since neither likes the other sibling’s choices.

One would think that they were intentionally picking the opposite of their sister to be “different”… but no.  I’ve watched them for 5 years.  They are really just the Yin-Yang of siblings.   
They were even in the “Yin-Yang” position in the womb.  

I am just amazed as other people when I see the extreme differences in my children. 
They are, in fact, so very different.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 : Bigger on the inside

Oh, 2011... you were a blur.
People have told me that time will fly as the girls get older.  They weren't kidding!

On the girl's birthday in September, I blinked... and then I woke up and it was 2012.
I swear to you.  It has been a complete blur of giggles, glitter and activity since the beginning of Fall. 
If I were a Dr. Who companion, this would all make sense... right?

The only thing I have to show for this year is the photos... and my lack of blogging is so painfully highlighted right now.

Here we go!

We started the year with an epic camping trip to Enchanted Rock.  It was below freezing and raining... our tent leaked and we made Ana go to the bathroom outside the tent in the rain in the middle of the night.  It was not our finest parenting moment but it was memorable... and it also showed us that Ana is a trooper!
We went on so many trips to the zoo and Moody Gardens.  Memberships are a great thing!
Brad always leads our adventures.  The girls ADORE him!

 We took the girls skiing for the first time in March!  They did a fantastic job!  What a great family trip.  I can't wait to go again!

 While in New Mexico for our skiing adventure, we stopped to see my parents.  We did a quick hike to the top of the Petroglyphs...a feat that took the girls mere moments, since they are so unbelievably used to hiking and the great outdoors.
What year would be complete without 8 million birthday parties at bounce houses?

Brad and I both had memorable years on the job.  I need to work on getting pictures of him on the job in the symphony!  Here is a picture of Walt Cunningham, astronaut from Apollo 7.  Who doesn't have Apollo astronauts drop by their office for a chat?  It is an odd and interesting job.  I get to meet amazing people... and some of those people are legendary!

The girls turned 5 in September.  I remember water, cake and squealing.  I'm glad I blogged about the party... what a blur!

This year we said good-bye to the Shuttle Program.  It was a difficult time for me.  Here is Keira in front of the Shuttle vertical trainer before it was dismantled.

The girls and I turned into super heroes on Halloween.
Here are the girls speaking to Santa.  They were telling him about Barbies... they forgot to tell him what they wanted!  (A cute side note: Santa pictured above is JSC Center Director Mike Coats... what a sport!)
Keira and Ana - Mothers of Multiples Party

I hope that your year was as full and as adventurous as ours.  I'm looking forward to another blurry year packed with fun, squealing, snuggles and adventures with my family.

Just like the Tardis, 2011 was bigger on the inside.