11 Months + 1 Year

Twins 11 months

I took this picture on May 19th last year, the boys’ 11 month birthday (back when a turn of the calendar constituted a new milestone). As I recall, they were just beginning to take first steps and I spent my days watching them step and fall, get up and repeat.

Step, fall, get up, repeat.

They slipped, bumped heads, hits corners, and collided when momentum took on speed without brakes, but still they would get up and do it all again. Perhaps knowing that if they just kept trying, kept putting one foot in front of the other, something miraculous would happen.

Now they charge ahead without caution or boundaries, unaware of danger or perpetrators or objects moving at a speed capable of ripping apart our world in seconds.

I both love and fear this stage.

twin boys

I feel like I’ve spent the last 11 months + one year in survival mode, and on what is metaphorically the eve of their second birthday, I’m wondering when exactly my babies became little boys.

I’ve been wandering into their room late at night to watch them sleep. I put my hand close to their noses or gently rest it on their bellies to be sure of their breathing, just as I did when they were infants. Once upon a time, one crib held them both with room to spare but now they look like giants stretched across separate beds.

The thing about raising twins is that rituals and routines become more like assembly lines, which causes everything to happen lightning fast, and this has maybe been the most difficult part for me — the surrendering of a sense of authenticity, of an organic flow to our days, always having to choose who needs me more in that moment. There’s a kind of freedom, a sense of luxury, that comes with a singleton that I didn’t even notice until I had twins.

But then there’s something else too.

These boys speak their own language, something secret and exclusive (or maybe it’s Turkish). They converse mostly in gestures and laughs but every now and then I catch them chitchatting in their native Turkish and it catches my breath, knowing the moment is rare and fleeting. The other day our new neighbors came over with their two year old boy. As we were talking grown up talk, I turned around to see Wyatt and this little boy engaged in a back-and-forth conversation (turns out he speaks Turkish too). Pretty soon Luke wandered over and joined their conversation. And it really was a conversation. The little boy would say something and my boys would wait until he was finished before responding. And the more I watched, the more it became clear to me what my boys were saying: “Look, we like you and we’ll hang out with you, but mess with my brother and it’s over.”

I’ve always said that I might not be able to give them all of me but I gave them each other. To finally witness this bond take shape makes me realize that assembly lines or not, we’ve always had our own little luxuries.


My Mother’s Day

(Yes, I realize we are nearly a week past Mother’s Day. Where does the time go?)MeandMia




“Are you awake?”


“Is it morning yet?”



Mia snuggled closer to me and flung her arm around my neck, wisps of her wild hair tickling my lips. The night before — on Mother’s Day Eve — she could barely contain herself, so excited was she to give me her presents. I already knew that one of these presents was a small bag from her room, which she used to collect random things from around the house — hair ties, a paperweight, a picture she had colored, and a Clementine book (“So you have something to do when I’m not here”). Just when Mia fell back to sleep, the boys woke up, and no one knows so well how to wake up a house — screaming and laughing and babbling back and forth. I grabbed my bathrobe, hurried to their room and took them downstairs so they wouldn’t wake Mia.

Zach made coffee and told me to go back to bed, but I sat down on the couch instead and two little boys proceeded to climb on top of me. Wyatt did that thing that toddlers do — he sort of patted my arm and beamed up at me. And while I was beaming back at Wyatt, Luke grabbed my face and planted a sloppy and lingering kiss on my mouth. I decided I didn’t need to go back to bed.

A little while later, Mia came downstairs and jumped up and down while I opened my presents from her — the aforementioned bag and a flower pot she made at school.

Zach made pancakes for the kids while I sat at the table with my coffee.

Later, we went to lunch with my family where my grandparents announced that they both have cancer in the way someone might announce that a mutual acquaintance has cancer. They were more concerned about the lack of butter on our table than the disease infiltrating their bodies. My grandfather’s is skin cancer and from what I can gather, treatable. My grandmother’s is also believed to be a form of skin cancer at this point, but she’s having the lump removed next week and we’ll know more then.

After lunch, the boys took a nap and Mia and I left to hang out with my mom. We got cupcakes and went to the bookstore and we didn’t talk about cancer.



That evening after I got Mia to bed, I wandered into the boys’ room and was thinking they looked like giants sprawled out in their cribs, when I heard Mia crying from her room. I found her curled on her side, clutching her bunny and blanket, and whimpering like a starved kitten. I turned her to me and pushed the hair out of her eyes.

“I don’t want to leave Kindergarten,” she said, her whimpering escalating to a hard, gasping cry. “I don’t want to leave Mrs. B’s class and I don’t want to go to first grade.”

What could I say? Because the truth is, I’m not ready for first grade either. Wasn’t it just yesterday that she climbed onto the bus for the first time? I look at her and think she’s still so little. She’s still my baby. But first grade sounds so big. I didn’t say this to her. I didn’t say much of anything for fear of the crack in my voice that would give me away, so instead I held her and let her cry.

“I don’t want to go to first grade,” she cried into my hair, “Because you have to do hard things in first grade.”

So this is what I told her:

You can do hard things. How do I know this?

Once, you were terrified to put your head under water, but you practiced little by little. You took swim lessons and let your teacher help you. And one day you were ready so you took a deep breath and submerged your face in the water, and you were so proud of yourself when you came up for air.

Last year around this time, you didn’t want to leave your preschool friends. “What if I don’t have any friends in Kindergarten?” you asked. But that first day you ran down from the bus and announced that you made 25 new friends.

Unlike reading, math does not come without challenges for you. You want so badly to pass Math Challenge, so we worked together and talked about taking your time and checking your work, and last week you passed level 2 of Math Challenge.

You take care of your brothers without being conscious of your mothering instinct. You share with them your snacks and toys and books. You let them sleep with things you like to cuddle. You read to them. You teach them. You run back for kisses from the morning bus stop when they call your name.

And you (usually) do all these things with grace and kindness and very little bribing from my end.

So we can do first grade, you and I, because we can do hard things.

I took a deep breath as I finished my spiel and waited for Mia to say something, but when I looked down at my lap where she was resting her head, I realized she was barely hanging on to this side of awake.



“Are you awake?” …

**If you follow me on Instagram you’ve already seen these pictures, so I apologize for the repeat. P.S. I haven’t figured out how to add an Instagram button but if you’re on Instagram you can find me at lara_joylovelyjoy.

Bits and Pieces: a Mother’s Day post

It’s been raining quite a bit here lately, which means Mia has been sneaking into our bed most nights (something Zach doesn’t love but I do). She always comes to my side of the bed — half asleep and clutching her beloved blanket and bunny — and I help her climb into our bed. I’m transported back to when she was three years old tip-toeing into our room and reaching up for me. In my sleep-induced haze, I could swear she is that three year old again, reaching up for me in the half-light. So much so that I want to nudge Zach awake and ask if I’ve lost my mind.

We cut the boys’ hair in anticipation of summer. I don’t have pictures yet because we just did it, and the boys have been incredibly difficult to photograph lately — always MOVING. Sometimes I laugh to myself at the irony of my goal with this blog (to be mindful of the present, to capture joy and reflect on it) and the physicality of my kids — growing and running it seems always away from me, toward something more interesting and far away.

play tent

Those eyes. That smile. This should be on the cover of a candy bar. Or at least diaper ointment.

play tent

Waiting your turn can be so hard. Never mind the other window. Or the DOOR.

play tent entrance and exit

Because who needs doors?

I had planned to post a few of my wish list items for this day but I have a little girl standing outside my door wanting to give me my present. Since Friday afternoon she’s been telling me, “Don’t look in my play room in the corner by the window because that’s where your Mother’s Day present is.” Also, I realized yesterday that this is the first Mother’s Day that Mia doesn’t pronounce it Muh-ver’s Day.

Sorry for a somewhat sporadic post but I’m going to unplug now and go be a mom. Happy, happy Mother’s Day to all the mamas out there.

Lunchbox love note of a different sort

Shhh…I’m not here.

I’m working on a deadline for tomorrow. Actually, while I’m here I might as well tell you that these pages will probably be peppered with lighter content while I work on a project.

So why am I here now?

Because when I opened Mia’s backpack yesterday after school I found something horrifying. It practically knocked me to the ground, and I’m still learning to breathe since its invasion.

I found an honest to goodness love note. To Mia. From a boy in her class.

It said:

Dear Mia,

I love you.

It was sprinkled with hearts colored by the hand of a boy who hasn’t much experience with such delicate things.

I find myself sort of loving this boy now.

Mia love note

Can’t say I blame him