Thursday, December 29, 2011

smile for the camera!

I seriously don't know what happened, but in the last week, whenever you pull out the camera, Gabe starts laughing--the cutest laugh you've ever heard, and Alex gets the biggest grin on his face. Oh, I love my boys! Here's Alex (gotta love the drool) with Cece, who has lost interest in the camera!   IMG_4976



Saturday, December 17, 2011

not quite what Cece thought

We took all the kids to the Ostrava Christmas market today. Cece saw this ride, and she got really excited to go on it. It was 20 kc, which is like one dollar, so we, as her parents, were like, "sure"! Her reaction was priceless!

Brian putting Cece on the ride: IMG_4934

Cece's anticipatory look:

Her fake smile:

The boys waiting for her: IMG_4939

Brian realizing this is not going to go well: IMG_4945

All of the sudden, we hear, "I want out!": IMG_4946

This is her on the word, "out": IMG_4948

Here she is really happy on solid ground feeding a goat! IMG_4954

(She did finish the ride; took some parental cheering her on, high fives, and jumping around, but she made it.)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It's hard to believe this is our second Christmas in the Czech Republic. I was just talking to a friend tonight about how much we really do love it here. However, we continue to feel far away from those of you whom we love so much. We would sure love to have you here this Christmas!

Since that is not possible, we decided to take you on a walk with us through our town of Frýdlant nad Ostravicí. Watch our video, see where we live, and hear about our ministry and life here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

the twins: they are so different


For about a week after I found out I was having identical twins, I was really creeped out. I kept imagining these two identical children running around, acting exactly the same. Maybe it was pregnancy hormones, but the idea of having two children who were exactly the same was a little scary to me (and yes, I did worry that I wouldn't be able to tell them apart, and no, that has never happened).

While the boys are similar in a lot of ways, I just love how different they are. They don't look exactly the same, which I really love. Besides, Alex being a little smaller, they both have slightly different features, and they each have their own personalities. I wish I could capture more of who they are in videos and pictures. Here's a little snap shot.

Alex is army crawling, and he's very determined. He sees what he wants, and he scoots himself over there (meanwhile, Gabe gets mad because he doesn't move quite so well). Alex has already had three black eyes (one from when Gabe kicked him in the face, but the other two were because he was so into what he was playing with that it bonked him in the face). Alex loves toys with noise. He is also a little sensitive. He gets tired easily, and if he doesn't sleep well, then, he doesn't eat well. He's also a bit of a mamma's boy. There are times when I look over at him, and he's just smiling away at me. Brian always gets a little jealous. If I put Alex in my lap, he just settles right in!

While Alex is a bit of a mamma's boy, Gabe is more like, "hey mom, what's up!" The child winks at me (with both eyes), I swear. I will look over at him, and say, "Hi Gaber!" He gets all excited, and then, "winks". He is a little bit more laid back than his brother. The kid fake cries too; I'm not kidding. He squints up his eyes and tries to force a sob-story (Alex cries for real). Gabe is a snuggler--head on your shoulder, thumb in his mouth. And, his checks, oh my goodness, they are just so kissable!

Then, there is the diva of the family who just turned three. Oh, my goodness! If I was "good", I'd save this picture, but I can't help myself, I just have to share it now! More on her third birthday to come, but here's a picture of her (props to Claire for taking such an amazing pic) on her special day that I think belongs in a magazine (or wherever it is the most amazing pics end up these days).


For someone who waited so long and went through a few significant scares, I just love my kids. But, I am so sure that no matter what your story is, you just love your kids too, and that's right and good.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


My family is not the family that I imagined when I was a young girl "planning my family". That's just true, but oh, how thankful I am--like moved to tears thankful for the family that I have been blessed with. One thing that was really a huge part of my growing up is my own siblings. I love my brothers, oh so much. I can't force my own "things" on my kids, but moments like this literally overcome me!

(Cece and Alex):


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Schedule at Six Months Old

Several weeks ago, I posted "the schedule" for the boys when I was in the hospital with them. Oh, how things have changed. I have waited a long time for the "four hour schedule". Today, I was working on writing up the directions for taking care of my three kids. Yes! It's really happening; Brian and I are getting away, and Hayley (with the help of her family) is watching all three kids for two nights! I mean, I just can't express how amazing this is.


Change diapers and get dressed
Awake time

Boys down for a nap

Change diapers
Awake time

Lunch for Cece

Put Cece down for a nap 
Boys down for a nap

*This is an amazing part of the day--two hours where all three kids are napping!

Change diapers
Awake time

Wake up Cece if she’s not already up

Boys down for a “cat nap”
Wake up boys if not already up



Boys down for the night

Cece down for the night

While the four hour schedule really is wonderful, when it's all written out, I'm like, whew! Next time, Brian asks, "what's your plan for the day?" I'm going to email him this (with a lot more details--like laundry, cooking, working, etc. Just didn't think all of you needed that information). 

Friday, November 11, 2011


I am no master by any means, but I have been practicing for awhile. When Cece was just a year old, we took her to this African braiding shop in Denver. The woman took one look at this JCrew White Girl and took me for a ride. I specifically asked for a style that was age appropriate. Well, she put in these little tiny braids (that were super cute), but now, after all my education about hair, I know they were very damaging to my baby girl's hair! She also charged me way too much. Then, I moved to Czech, and well, I had to figure it out for myself. Thanks to some really great blogs, I started to learn some things. Like, toddler hair is too fragile for small cornrows. Well, now Cece's hair is strong enough to handle some smaller cornrows, not tiny braids, but small cornrows. It's not perfect, but . . . . IMG_4804 IMG_4808 IMG_4813

Thursday, November 10, 2011


I am so excited about what our church here in Frydlant is doing, and Cece and I got to go check it out last Thursday night.

Several years ago, Josiah Venture started a ministry to reach out to unchurched youth through a network of evangelistic rock/gospel choirs and performing arts groups called “Fusion”.  

Our church here in Frydlant now has a Fusion group. My dear friend, Lauren, is leading the choir. There was so much energy in the room when we were there. I just love this. It's really a brilliant idea. It provides an opportunity for students to be a part of something--a group of young people learning to perform together.  In the context of working together to become a performing arts group, Christian youth and Christian leaders are able to build real relationships with non-Christians and show them the love of Christ.  

Cece has been singing the songs all week.



Thursday, November 3, 2011

Schedule One Week Old

The boys are six months old now, and I'm already forgetting things, but I have a little more time, so I decided to post some of what I do remember, now.

Recently, I came across a note that I had on my phone from when I was in the hospital with the boys. Because they were so tiny, I had to feed them separately. They also weren't latching well, but I needed to try, so I would nurse one, then, supplement with a bottle, nurse the other, supplement, and then pump, so I had milk to give in the following supplements.

Here was the schedule:
5:15am Alex 6:00 Gabe
7:30am Alex 8:00 Gabe
10:30am Alex 11:00 Gabe
1:00pm Alex 1:30 Gabe
4:00pm Alex 4:30 Gabe
6:30 Bath
7:00pm Alex 7:30 Gabe
10:00pm Alex 10:30 Gabe
2:00am Alex 2:15 Gabe

These are some pictures from that time (Alex and Gabe):



I still can't believe they were that tiny, and I can't believe that was the schedule.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Cecelia Story

I have so many things that I want to blog about, but there is just not enough time. Here's a quick Cecelia story though. She's not a baby any more!

Cece: Mommy, Tan (can) I watch a movie?

Me (pausing to think): Yeeess, you may.

Cece: Tan (can) I watch it on the big TV?

Me: No, you may not.

Cece: Why, Mommy?

Me: Because I don't want to watch, Sid (Sid the Science Kid), Honey. You can watch it in the guest bedroom.

Cece (leaves for a few minutes, returns with Sid DVD case in hand): Mommy, it says right here on the back that you hafta (have to) watch this movie on the big TV. You tan't (can't) watch it on the guest bed.

Me (laughing): I don't think it says that, Cecelia.

Cece: Yes, it do.

Needless to say, she did not watch it on the big TV.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Finally Keeping My Head Above Water

Whew. I feel like I'm finally keeping my head above water. While I have been posting regularly on facebook, I realized that I haven't blogged for awhile. Here is a little glimpse into our life recently.

When I was a teacher, I never used sticker charts. I had other ways of motivating students to read. It wasn't that I was necessarily opposed to them philosophically, but I just didn't need to use them. Then, I had my own child.

I began to notice that Cece wouldn't stay focused when "reading" by herself. She did great when I read to her, but in these last months I have wanted her to be able to sustain focus on an activity without me. Hence, a bribe. Yep.

I made her a reading chart. For every 15 minutes that she read (listened to audiobooks, used her Leapfrog Tag reader, or "read" her own books) she received a sticker. 5 stickers equaled an ice cream treat. I was thinking that she would be getting a treat every few days.

I was wrong.  The little stinker proved me very wrong; she can focus alright.  She read straight for an hour and fifteen minutes in one afternoon, so she could have an ice cream treat that day! 

We've been seeing a lot of this lately:

That's Alex laughing at Brian.

This picture really captures how cool it is to have twins.

During fall conference (more details in our update to come), we had the Hall family stay with us again.  Brian and Justin spent most of their time up at the conference, while Gretchen and I tried to keep our sanity with six kids in this house.  It rained most of the time they were here, but we made the most of it.  Cece loved her time with "her friends".

There were a few other JV moms here because of the conference, so we headed to the zoo like we did last year.  Here's the photo from this year.  From left to right (women in the back): Gretchen, serves in Albania; Kristin, serves here in Czech; Ashley, serves as the JV kids coordinator; me; Kristy, serves in Ukraine. 

Finally, here's dad and sons watching football (Alex on left; Gabe on right).

Now, that I finally have my head above water, I sure am enjoying these moments in life. Feels good.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

"You Just Have to be Really Structured"

I was talking to my brother, Rollie, on the phone a few weeks ago, and something he said to me reminded me that "my way is not the highway". Nothing like a brother to bring my head out of the clouds. The conversation went something like this:

me: There's nothing really new here besides kids, kids, kids. We haven't really had consistent babysitting yet. That will change soon, but the twins were so much work at the beginning; who would we have left all the kids with?

Rollie: Not with me. I wouldn't know what to do with two babies. One baby, I can sit with and find interesting videos to show, but two?

me (laughing): Well, Rollie, what it takes it's a lot of consistency and really sticking to a schedule. With twins, you just have to be really structured.

Rollie: That's funny because I could imagine someone with a different personality saying, "with twins, you just have to be flexible".

My brother is right, and the more I watch my kids grow, the more I realize that some aspects of parenting are really about what works for your family. (Others, however, I think are super important no matter what, but that's for another post.)

When I was pregnant with the boys, I had this idea that I would blog all the time after they were born. Partly, because I have already forgotten so many details from when Cece was a baby. Also because when I was pregnant, I couldn't find any blogs that really shared what mothering twins was like. Now, I know why. Who the heck has time to blog when they are taking care of twins (and a toddler)?

So many things have happened since the boys were born that I'm really hoping to document at some point (for my sake more than anything), but I decided that I just need to write a few things now and then when I have a chance. The rest, hopefully, I'll remember.

Well, I agree with Rollie, and I could probably stand to be a bit more flexible in many areas of life; however, both boys are sleeping through the night--they go to bed at 8pm and most mornings, I wake them up at 8am. Gabe has been doing this for a few weeks, and Alex for about a week. (We were waking Alex up before we went to bed to get one more feeding in him--just because of his size. He probably would have slept all night, but we just want to give the poor guy a chance to catch up with his "big" brother.)

I feel like a different person. After all those weeks of interrupted sleep, to go to bed and not wake up until 7am or even 8am is oh so wonderful.

The boys are amazingly happy (that is when things are "on schedule"--hmmm . . . did I make them that way?). Really. Most days, the don't ever cry. They eat. They smile. They fall asleep while laying peacefully in their beds. Don't get me wrong; it's still a lot of work, but it's easier to get through the days when you have two of the cutest boys in the world smiling at you all the time (Gabe on left; Alex on right)!





Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sleeping Through the What?!

Sleeping through the night.

It's like pretty much my ultimate goal. (And, please, please resist the urge to tell me to enjoy those "precious middle of the night feedings". If you love them, great; I don't. I like to have my precious times during the day.)

When Cece started sleeping through the night, I remember it felt so great. I was so excited, and it was pretty uneventful. It just happened one night. I'm not even totally sure what week it was, but I think I considered her completely sleeping through night before she was 12 weeks old.

Well. I've begun to realize that it will look a little different with three kids. Here was my night:

3am: Hear Alex. He's not crying, just making noise.
3:20am: I hear sucking; oh, no, Alex broke out of his swaddle.
3:30am: Having an inner conversation about my love/hate relationship with swaddles.
4:00am: Still hearing Alex. Thinking I should just go re-swaddle him, but then nervous that might really wake him up.
4:20am: Decide it's really silly to lay there awake; go and re-swaddle Alex.
4:30am: Re-swaddling worked; I don't hear Alex.
5:00am: Alex wakes up. Decide to give him his pacifier, but worry that might be selfish.
5:20am: Alex is sleeping. Tell myself that if he was really hungry, he'd be awake and crying.
6:00am: Hear Alex crying. Decide to feed him. Gabe is still sleeping. For the first time, decide NOT to wake up Gabe.
6:05am: Hear Cece. Go in her room. Sing a not so sweet version of Jesus Loves Me. Tell her it is NOT time to wake up.
6:15am: Feed Alex. Put him back to bed.
6:30am: Hear Cece. Go in and sing an abridged version of Jesus Loves Me.
6:45am: Wonder when Gabe is going to wake up.
7:00am: Start to hear Gabe.
7:05am: Give Gabe a pacifier.
8:00am: Feed Gabe and Alex (this is the time I want their day to start).

So, technically, Gabe slept through the night. He made it until 8am (with a little help). Whew. Sure doesn't feel like he did!

Not every night is like this! Some nights I sleep, hear someone crying around 4 or 5am, get up, feed them, and go right back to bed. Some nights, Brian does that feeding. I just think it's a little ironic that Gabe's best night was not my best night!

In all seriousness, the boys are doing incredibly well. They are 13 weeks old (7 weeks, adjusted age). Just had a visit to the doctor yesterday. Gabe weighs in at 11.5 lbs, and Alex weighs 9.5 lbs. They are doing so well.

Here are some pics I just took today! Enjoy (Alex on left; Gabe on right).




Monday, June 20, 2011

Email Update: Father of Three

Dear Friends and Family,

Father of Three (Aleisha)
Sunday, June 19th was Father's Day and our seventh wedding anniversary. Seven years ago we never would have believed that this picture would be our life.

This Father's Day Brian was the father of three! When I married him seven years ago, I knew he was a great man, but after this particular year of marriage, I am overwhelmed at how amazing he is. We are on quite the adventure together, and while some days are hard in this crazy season of life, I am one lucky girl!

Eight weeks ago, Alexander James and Gabriel Roland were born at 34 weeks.

After all they had been through it is amazing that they were born so healthy; however, I don't think anyone could have prepared us for the challenges of having premature babies. The past weeks have been some of the hardest of my life. Recovering from a C-section, the NICU, having a cross-cultural birth, an extended hospital stay, ensuring that both boys are gaining enough weight, travel to and from the hospital, transitioning from one kid to three . . . . These weeks seem like a blur now, and it's crazy to think that all of that has happened.

JV Council and Spring Conference (Brian)
The same day the boys came home from the hospital was the first day of our bi-annual JV Council meeting with leaders from all eleven JV countries. This was immediately followed by our annual JV Spring Family Conference for our North American missionaries. I attended as much of the Council meetings as I could, and then Cece and I attended the entire Spring Conference. This is one of the four events each year that our team plans and hosts. This conference provides an opportunity for our North American missionaries to come together as a family. It also allows us to see and hear about the movement of God across Eastern Europe. Some of the highlights of the week for me:
  • Slovenia, one of our hardest spiritual countries, had an opportunity to share the gospel with 18,000 Slovene's in one amazing week. To hear the update, click here. To read about the event, visit our JV blog "Who is Praying for These Students" and "Praying for the Walls to Come Down".
  • Our team in Serbia reminded us, through their Gypsy Camp, that no culture is overlooked by God. Please visit our blog and read "A Culture Overlooked".
  • The young families of JV: We had over 200 people at the conference and over 60 of those people were kids. Most exciting, 12 of those kids have been born in the past year (we represent 2 of those!). Josiah Venture has a group of amazing young families reaching Eastern Europe.

  • Serving JV: On Friday morning we had our In-House session (think of it as an all-employee meeting). Our team got to (or had to!) listen to me speak for over an hour about HR, insurance, taxes, websites, email, expense reports, Google, etc. It was this amazing confirmation for me - sitting with my JV Family and using my gifts to serve them... and loving every moment of it.
It was a long week (especially since every night included 2AM feedings with the boys). But the wonderful thing was I left the week with energy and strength. Our entire team felt the same way. As we reflected on this a few weeks later, we realized that we all slid into our giftings, and when we served from that place, we actually grew in strength. I love this team and how we work together!

Living in Community (Aleisha)
While this season of life is certainly keeping me on my toes, I have been overwhelmed with the way others have cared for us. For several months now, I have been thinking about and learning more about Christ-centered community. I have been really wanting to be intentional about really living life with other people--in community. Well, without me really doing anything (except having twins), it has happened. We have had so much help, and we have been loved so well through this. The word community hardly does it justice.

When I have a moment to stop and soak it all in, I can hardly believe that I am the mother of three!

Prayer Requests
  • Sleep! We assume that every parent prays for more sleep, but please pray that despite two newborns, we could both get good sleep.
  • Patience (for Aleisha)! Please pray that I would be a great mom to all three of my kids. Pray that I would remember the things that are most important to give to my kids.
  • Protection! Pray that God would protect our family, especially in the area of health.
  • Effectiveness! Despite a very crazy season of life, we desire to continue to serve well and to love others.
When I think about that very first email that we sent asking for prayer for these boys, I get tears in my eyes thinking of how all of you joined us in fighting for our family! Thank you for supporting us, our ministry, and most importantly, standing with us when we need it the most!

We love you,
Brian, Aleisha, Cecelia, Gabriel, and Alexander

Monday, May 30, 2011


I started babysitting when I was ten years old, for a neighbor. Yes. Ten. I also stayed home with my brothers, but that wasn't babysitting; that was survival. I babysat all the way through college; I was even a nanny for a year after college. I was good at it. That might sound a little cocky, but it's true, I gave my heart to every child that I took care of. I always hoped that someday I would have a babysitter for my kids that did the same.

Over a year ago, we moved here, and we hired Hannah (a missionary "kid") to watch Cece about 10 hours a week, so that I could take language lessons and take on other responsibilities on the Bteam. I get tears in my eyes when I think about how well Cece has been loved and cared for by Hannah. And, also Hannah demands the same respect from Cece that we do. To say that Hannah (whom Cece calls--Nanno) is amazing is an understatement.

Hannah is leaving for college in the states in just a few months. We are so going to miss her! (Her sister, Hayley, and brother, Noah, are on deck to take over for her, so our kids are in good hands! But, it won't be the same without Nanno!)

She is extremely gifted, and she recently did a photo shoot of the twins. Taking infant photos is not easy, and this was her first time--with twins! The photos are amazing. Check out some of her other work on flickr. (If you live on this side of the ocean, she is hoping to make some money before leaving for college!)

This is my favorite; if you look closely, you'll see that the boys are mirroring each other. They did this on their own. (Alex, left; Gabe, right)










Thank you, Hannah, for everything! You are a very special part of our family, and we are eternally grateful for all you have given us! We love you!