100 joys (#71-80)

What a wonderful Christmas we had!  I’m still recovering, so please forgive me for the lack of pictures.  I will also post a 25 week babies update tomorrow and, if I get my stuff together, there may also be a belly pic included, too.  Consider yourself warned: the belly is on the verge of epic (although, not quite legendary).

joy #71:

Frank was home for Christmas!  It was a little bit touch-and-go, but Frank was never called up to fly and so we were able to spend the entire holiday together.  It was such a wonderful blessing!  In the morning we went to my parents’ house to open gifts, then off the Frank’s parents’ home for lunch, and then back to my parents’ house for dinner.  It was so much fun to be able to do all of these things with Frank and it just made the whole holiday all the brighter.

joy #72:

Frank’s good friend from high school, Garrick, and Garrick’s girlfriend Kelly (sweetest girl ever), stopped by Frank’s parents’ house and gave us gifts for the twins.  They gave us a Dr. Suess book, movie and then “Thing1” and “Thing 2” tees for the babies.  It was such a perfect gift – Frank had been calling the twins exactly that for a while and we are excited for them to wear these shirts in a few months!

 

joy #73:

Every year, Dr. K (Frank’s Dad) dresses up as Santa.  I think the older kids might be on to him, but it was cute to see my youngest nephew look at him with terror amazement this year.

 

joy #74:

Yes, we had a white Christmas this year!  It was really a nice treat, especially since the roads were pretty dry and clear.

 

joy #75:

My mom made 20 lbs of prime rib this year – as per usual.  And it was soooo delicious.  The above photo is not her prime rib – I forgot to snap a picture.  Does it matter, though??  It was delicious, amazing, heavenly prime rib.  Nothing says, “Happy Birthday Jesus!” like a ton of red meat.  And twice baked potatoes.  And warm dinner rolls.  And mayonnaise salad.  Yeah, you might be judging me a little bit for loving mayonnaise salad, but I don’t care.  The only thing less healthy than mayonnaise salad is just eating the mayonnaise straight from the jar.  Thank goodness for lettuce leaves, right?

 

joy #76:

Yeah, that’s right, we did it.  We went to the Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale today.  Frank was in desperate need of shoes for work (read: he no longer had tread left on his other shoes!), so we ventured out to The Mall with the rest of The World.  And I must say, it wasn’t half bad.  And, combined with the sale and coupons, we saved about 80% on a pair of shoes for him.  Victory was had.  Joy to the world, indeed.

 

joy #77:

So, as someone who has been CRAVING Papa John’s pizza, I wasn’t sure how I was going to like Domino’s Pizza tonight.  I mean, I have been eating Papa John’s about once a week – that’s how bad it has been.  But since I had a gift card for Domino’s Pizza, we figured we’d buck the trend and try it.  OMG.  I knew that Domino’s was re-working their pizza recipe (apparently they realized their pizza sucked) and their new pizza is FABULOUS!  Forget you, Papa John’s!  I’m loving me some Domino’s Pizza!  Even Frank was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed the pizza, too.

 

joy #78:

To celebrate Boxing Day, we boxed up all of our Christmas decorations and put them away.  Yes, that’s right, we are sitting in a Christmas-free zone right now, folks!  And I love it!  Christmas, and all of its trimmings, are wonderful up until 11:59 p.m. on December 25th.  As soon as the last carol has been sung, the last pound of prime rib eaten and the last present opened, Christmas feels instantly stale to me.  Instead of merry Christmas decorations, it feels more like clutter.  For the last 7+ years of our marriage, Frank thought I liked having the decorations up until New Year’s Day.  Truth is, I’d start taking them down Christmas night if it didn’t feel like I was violating some sort of sacred holiday law.  When I told Frank last night that I would love nothing more than to take down the decorations, his eyes grew wide and a smile spread from ear-to-ear.  So happily today we put everything away and it feels like we are living in a new house.  I love it.  Bringing in the new year in a fresh house is a delight, and dare I say, a joy!

 

joy #79:

Yeah, that’s right.  I’ll admit it.  Not only do I LIKE naps, but I LOVE them.  I need them.  There is no shame in my game.  These kids (and the holidays) darn near wore me out.  I took a strategic Christmas night nap from about 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., allowing me to be a descent human being to the rest of my family for a few more hours than normal.  I took another strategic 2 1/2 hour nap between shopping and taking down decorations so that I would, again, be a descent human being to my hubz.  I have NO idea how I am going to make it through the work week, considering how important these naps are seeming to become.  I am sure that I will survive, though.

 

joy #80:

I love reading people’s Facebook statuses.

I love the mundane updates: “Just ate dinner. Yum. “

I also love the vague updates: “Thank God that’s over!”  What’s over?   What happened??  Usually three or four people comment asking for specifics.  Their inquiries are often unrewarded.  The people who post updates like that WANT you to wonder.  So whenever you see that kind of vague update, they are probably referring to a herpes outbreak.  I mean, what else could they possibly be talking about?

Last, but not least, I love the social commentary status updates.  Like this one: “How low can reality TV go? Bridalplasty. Yep.”  It makes me feel good that I am friends with people who recognize the bottom of the reality TV food chain.  It is because of people like this that I think, “Hum, I should probably turn this TV show off because it is not socially acceptable to watch this…”  Who said Facebook couldn’t be an integral part of my moral compass??

 

100 joys (#62-70)

OK, this is going to be my epic joy post.  Grab a cup of hot cocoa and a warm blanket – it’s all joy, all the time!

joy #62:

Last night, as I mentioned before, we went to church for the Christmas service.  It is one of our most FAVORITE Christmas traditions in the K-Fam.  Because our church has 12 Christmas Eve services over the course of 8 days, Frank and I are always able to find a service we can attend, no matter what Frank’s schedule looks like.  At the last minute, we were able to include Al, Rose and Rose’s sister, Sara.  Seated way up in the 3rd balcony at Willow Creek, I was a little bit concerned that we wouldn’t get a good view of the service.  It turns out, being seated way up high was the BEST view of the service.  It was awesome!  The service included a drama that was the modern telling of the story of Jesus’ birth.  It was absolutely amazing.  When the Angel was telling Mary that she found favor with God and would be giving birth to Jesus, the song in the above video played.  It was absolutely magical!  The whole story was told with the underlying theme of “Don’t be afraid.”  What a joy to go to that service!

joy #63:

After church, we went to Steak ‘n Shake.  Now, I have to say, if I owned a restaurant within a 5-10 mile radius of Willow Creek, I’d definitely find out when big events were happening and then get prepared!  Unfortunately, that was not the case at our friendly neighborhood Steak ‘n Shake and they were just a bit overwhelmed by the crowd that came through their doors last night.  After waiting a while to be seated, and then waiting even longer for someone to come to our table to get drink orders, etc., Frank jokingly told our waitress that it was free shake night at Steak ‘n Shake if you had to wait more than 5 minutes for your server.  She laughed and then said, “Really? OK.  Free shakes and drinks then.”  And the shakes WERE free!  It was a Christmas Miracle!

joys #64-70:

Oh, how my family does bring me joy!

Familial joy #64 was my sweet niece singing tonight at the Christmas Eve service at the church that Frank and I were married at.  With her white-blond hair and cherubic smile, she melts everyone’s hearts.  And of course #65 was my nephew who gets taller and cuter every time I see him.  He’s my first-ever nephew and has a special place in my heart.

#66 and #67 are my sister-in-law Kathryn (or K2; K1 is her sister Karen) and her husband Dave.  As the parents of my dear niece and nephew, of course they are a joy!

After church, we moved on to my Uncle Steve (#68) and Aunt Judy’s (#69) home for some delicious homemade corn chowder and general merriment.  My cousins Meghan (previously mentioned as joy #40) and David (#44) were also there, along with my siblings (Caitlin, Andy & Sarah – also previously mentioned joys in a variety of places).  While we were there, nearly everyone got to feel the babies kicking, which I would like to call joy #70.  It’s one thing for me to feel the babies moving around, but it’s such a delight when others get to experience it, too!

100 joys (58-61)

So much joy, so little time!

Today I will go in chronological order:

joy #58:

What to you may be just an innocent bottle of concentrated orange drink is, in fact, one of my least favorite beverages.  Sure, it has undertones of the McDonald’s orange drink I remember from my youth, but unfortunately they do not serve it with chicken nuggets and french fries that I would prefer.  I will know in a few days if I passed or failed the dreaded gestational diabetes test.  But, I count it as a joy because we made it to 24 1/2 weeks with the twins and I get to take the test.

 

joy #59:

I am not the world’s best story teller.  I think ALL of the facts are important and sometimes I forget the order in which things occur.  So I often find myself backtracking mid-story to share what I think might be an important part of the story so that the punchline makes sense.  Frank is often victim of my long, winding, nonsensical stories.  He tries really hard to stay with me when I’m telling the story, but then, after about 5 minutes of meandering, he finally can’t take it any more.  He nods, gestures and generally tries to cue me to wrap it up.  Unfortunately, that only derails the story further as I cannot multi-task while story telling.  The result is that I eventually slow down the story and forget where I am at while I’m trying to read his physical cues.  The result?  A great many Emily stories that end with, “So, uh, yeah, I just thought you’d want to know or something.”

 

joys #60 & 61:

Mr. Al and Ms. Rosie went with us to church tonight.  It was a wonderful service and it was great to go with friends.  It’s awesome to see how much they love each other and I really enjoy seeing their marriage in action.  They are truly a sweet couple!

100 joys (13-17)

The great thing about doing this project is that every day I find myself excited to look for all the joys in my life!  The not-so-great thing is that this has been a particularly busy week and so it has been difficult to find time to document all of the joys.

That’s ok!  It’s a good problem to have 🙂

Joy #13

My shampoo and conditioner.  If you recall from yesterday, I find my Mary Kay skin care to be a joy because it takes care of some dry skin issues I’ve had in the past.  Unfortunately, this dry skin shenanigans is not limited to my face and has, at times, invaded my scalp.  Ugh.  There is nothing worse than not being able to put your hair in a pony tail on a hot summer day because of how dry your skin is!  (Ok, there are plenty of things worse, but stay with me)  I tried lots of things over the years – expensive shampoos and conditioners, scalp oil, etc.  The expensive (ahem, Aveda) scalp shampoo only dried out my hair and didn’t greatly improve my scalp situation.  Then one day, in a fit of frustration, I used Herbal Essences.  Instantly, my hair was shiny and soft again and my scalp was much healthier!  Every day that I wash my hair, I am delighted that my finicky head craves the cheap grocery store brand of shampoo instead of the super-expensive variety.  Love it!

Joy #14

AirplaneI know, Frank makes the list nearly every day in some form or another, but seriously – this guy is fabulous.  A lot of snow had blown onto our driveway in the past couple of days and when I came home from work tonight, Frank had completely tidied up the driveway.  He’d also taken care of several other chores around the house, which is such a treat!  He makes the bed every day and I love coming upstairs to see the made bed.  Frank is the source of a lot of little joys!

Joy #15

Note: This is not our dishwasher, but it looks close enough.  After having experienced life without a dishwasher, it is such a joy to load up the dishwasher, turn it on and… walk away!  Take that, sink full of dishes!

Joy #16

I had a visit with the doctor today and got to hear the babies’ heartbeats!  I love hearing them – it is such a sweet reassurance.  Baby A’s heart rate was around 140 and Baby B’s heart rate was around 150.  Plus, the babies have both been quite active today – another big blessing and joy! Because we are having twins, we are now going to have appointments every two weeks.  Yay!

Joy #17

Not exactly the best picture of my parent’s living room, but this is a glimpse into what my parents’ house looks like at Christmas.  They set up one lonnng table to seat about 20 people and Mom makes an amazing prime rib with all of the fixings.  SO GOOD!  And such a great time with family.  It is a joy that I am looking forward to!

k-fam’s favorite chili!

This fall, Frank and I have been enjoying some delicious chili.  It’s one of our favorite things to make before watching a movie or hanging out.  We based our recipe on a recipe we found on AllRecipes.com, but then made some alterations to make it more k-fam-friendly.

  • 1 Tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 pounds ground beef (we get 1/2 ground turkey, 1/2 lean beef)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 2 1/2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 (8 ounce) jar salsa
  • 4 tablespoons chili seasoning mix
  • 1 (15 ounce) can sweet corn niblets
  • 1 (15 ounce) can dark red kidney beans

In a large dutch oven, heat up oil and add onion until tender and then brown meat with onion.  Drain grease.  Add in remaining ingredients.  Mix well, then reduce heat and let simmer covered on the stove for approximately 30 minutes.  SOOO good!

We like to enjoy it with cheddar cheese on top and warmed corn bread.  YUM!  Who doesn’t love comfort food??

beer cheese fondue…

First of all, I’ve been craving CRAVING beer.  Obviously I can’t drink it, but I found a cheesy substitute that gives me enough beer flavor to keep me satisfied for at least 3 days.  Maybe 4.

From Tasty Kitchen (The one, the only: Pioneer Woman’s Cooking website – love it!)

  • 1 loaf French Bread, Cubed
  • ¼ cups Chopped Onion
  • 1 teaspoon Minced Garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 1 cup Beer Or Nonalcoholic Beer
  • 4 cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon All-purpose Flour
  • 4 Tablespoons Half-and-Half Cream, Divided

Place bread cubes in a single layer in an ungreased 15-in x 10-in x 1-in pan. Bake at 450F for 5-7 minutes or until lightly crisp, stirring twice.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, saute onion and garlic in butter until tender. Stir in beer. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low.

Toss cheese and flour; stir into saucepan until melted. Stir in 2 tbsp. half and half.

Transfer to a small ceramic fondue pot or slow cooker; keep warm.

Add additional half and half if fondue thickens. Served with toasted bread crumbs. Yield: 3 cups.

Nom nom nom nom. (that’s me eating a lot of melty cheese)

**NOTE: I boiled the beer a little bit longer than probably needed just to be sure I cooked off the alcohol… but I’m sure it’s not a big deal!  I’m not drinking the cheese… or am I?… **

 

a new love affair

I have a new obsession.  A new love.  I think about it all the time.

No, it’s not Bejeweled Blitz (a terribly addicting game on Facebook).  It’s this:

Whole Foods.

I love it there.

The produce is beautiful and delicious.  The meat counter – Heavens to Betsy! – is unrivaled by our local grocery chain.  The cheese stand – oh, if only cheese did not wreck havoc on my digestive system – I would’ve eaten the whole stand. The. Whole. Stand. The gelato isn’t just gelato – it’s sexy gelato.  This gelato romances me from across the bakery, glowing all hot and sultry-like.  This gelato says, “Emily, please, just take a look.  Just a little look.

And then there’s the nut butter.  Fresh ground nut butter.  Nut butter the way that God intended.  Pure, unadulturated nut butter.

Heaven help me.

And let me tell you – this is true love.  I know a few of Whole Food’s faults already.  I know it is pricey.  I know the take-and-bake pizza is terrible.  I know that Annie’s Rice Pasta and Cheddar Mac & Cheese is nothing like Kraft’s.  Nothing.  Not even in the same ballpark.  It is sacrilege that they put this Mac & Cheese in a blue box as if to suggest that they are comparable to Kraft’s neon orange bliss.  Consider yourselves warned.

But these few faults are like finding out your husband is leaves the seat up.  You still love him, you just know to check before you sit in the middle of the night.