all you need is love…

It was much easier for me, when I was younger (and dumber), to determine what would make a marriage work.

When I was 22 years old, I would’ve told you, even if you didn’t ask, that a marriage required love. Squishy, delightful, schmoopy love.  Also? I would’ve told you marriage required an investment of time and hard work, but only because once I heard someone say that and I found something oddly romantic about this puritanical angle to long-term relationships. I would’ve told you that marriage required mutual sacrifice (mostly on the husband’s part… thus mitigating the “mutual” part).

Now?

Lots of scientists and philosophers and people generally smarter than I have created an entire cottage industry on why and how and who and when and where marriages work best.  There are endless top 10 lists of things that promise predict the seemingly inevitable demise of your union.

Smash the wedding cake? BAM. Divorce.

Pick a the wrong first dance song? BAM. Divorce.

Does your spouse wash their hair first in the shower while you wash your face first? INCOMPATIBLE! FAIL!

When Frank and I were getting married, though, we were high on LOVE. Every element of planning the wedding was a beautiful adventure on our way to our storybook wedded bliss.

There we were, traipsing through this loveland, la-la-la-ing our way to September 19, 2003 when BAM, we walked faced first into the sliding glass door of our pre-marital conference at church.

Picture this:

Emily and Frank, young, thin and in love, holding hands and sitting amongst other engaged couples.  Eight round tables were placed throughout a large conference room with eight couples per table (plus or minus). We looked at the other couples seated with us and glowed at them – you are like us! we are like you! we are in LOVE! yes! And the other couples looked at us and said back, “stop looking at us like that.  You’re creeping us out.”

At the front of the room was a podium and an earnest professor-type opening up our session in prayer and sharing wisdom and trying to impart the mechanics of marriage on people who were more interested in the difference between a fresh fruit cake filling and a jam cake filling.  Decisions, decisions.

We embraced this conference – we were determined to get an A+ in pre-marital counseling.  We were overachievers.  We were in love!

The conference director said, about halfway through, “OK, raise your hand if you are over 25.” Nope. We were 22. “OK, raise your hand if you have college degrees.” WINNER WINNER! Our hands shot straight up. “OK, raise your hand if you make over $50,000 per year, combined.” Nope.

“If you do not have two out of three of these items in your favor, your marriage is more likely to end in divorce.”

Frank and I sat in stunned silence. Did we fail at marriage before we began?  How is that possible? I have no idea what else what they said at the conference – I was still trying to figure out if we could get extra credit in order to make up for the two of the three we missed.

Originally I thought it was kind of like that summer before my freshman year that I took a keyboarding class and got a B+.  I started my  high school career knowing that I could NEVER be a valedictorian… or a court reporter.

And there is something freeing in that – you know, knowing you won’t be the valedictorian. Or a court reporter.

But the part where I got an F- in your premarital counseling class has less of a silver lining.

Fast forward nine years: we have, so far, defied the odds.  We have our moments, for sure.  We’ve traversed bravely some of the things often described by marital experts as potential marriage enders.

Is there really a magic recipe for a marriage that works and a marriage that fails?

I really don’t know.

Tonight, in a moment of top-of-the-mountain reflection, I watched my brother and his bride rehearse for their wedding.  All while watching them practice walking up the aisle and learn their roles in the ceremony, I was thinking about what I wanted to tell them – what I would wish them to help ensure a long and happy union.

Do I tell them, “Never go to bed angry.” Or do I tell them, “Never say Divorce.” (woops. I said Divorce. Woops. I said Divorce again. And again. I’m in trouble.) Or how about, “If you’re the wife, lower your expectations and if you’re the husband, step up to the plate?” (yikes.)

Upon further reflection…

It just seems that marriage is like flying an airplane.  There are all these logical reasons  an airplane flies. Lift and drag and speed and atmosphere and blah blah blah. (Can you tell I failed my aviation ground school?) But when I see a plane or a bird gliding through the air successfully, doing what it was made to do, the only real explanation that makes any sense is the one that my pilot husband gave me: Pure Freaking Magic.

A lot of people miss the magic.  They are caught up in the mechanics and the science and the logistics – and they miss enjoying the moment.  A party planner who never dances at his parties. A writer who never reads his books. A painter who never sees the art around him.  It’s easy to do the same thing in marriages – to amass “stuff” and to check checklists – and never savor the relationship.

But, oh, the moments where I stopped and wondered at and drank in the magic of it all: lazy Saturday mornings, long car rides, dreaming of our future, holding our babies, lying under the Christmas tree and holding hands on the way to somewhere exciting. How we met and fell in love and stay in love and live in love – that is simply Pure Freaking Magic.

When my brother brought Lauren home, we knew he was a goner.  You could tell it in his eyes and his smile.  It was magic.  And when Lauren laughed heartily and genuinely at his jokes? That, too, was magic.  Pure. Freaking. Magic.

My hope for them is that they marvel at what they have, all the days of their lives.  And that when they see an airplane flying or a bird soaring or a humming bird floating that they would be less concerned with the details and more enthralled with the Pure Freaking Magic of it all.

To Andy and Lauren: I wish you a marriage full of magic and wonder and joy.

PFM, always.

Love,

Em

the time when Frank ran a marathon

Last Sunday, armed with body glide stuff to prevent chaffing (I didn’t ask… you probably shouldn’t ask, either) and band aids and ibuprofen and bizarre space energy-type food and water, Frank lined up with 45,000 of his besties and ran the Chicago Marathon Bank of America Chicago Marathon (hey, they didn’t pay good money for naming rights to have me mess it up on my blog that three people read…).

Being the loving, caring, amazing wife that I am, I dragged my sorry pa-tootie out of bed at 6:30 a.m. on a Sunday and schlepped myself all around town.

I have the pictures to prove it.

There may or may not have been some adult libations at the half marathon point.  Not for Frank.  For me.

Also, somewhere between mile-marker 13.1 and 26.1, I may have had a delicious egg white & spinach & swiss & mushroom omelet with The Most Heavenly Corn Bread Muffin Ever.

By “may”, I mean that I DID have the aforementioned breakfast before bolting without paying (I’ll catch ya on the flip side, dear brother) because I realized that I might miss Frank crossing the finish line and then I’d have to say, when he asked, that I was stuffing my face while he was running a MARATHON.

Considering that I have acquired quite a rap sheet, I figured that Sunday, October 7, 2012 was not the day to add to it.

All told, I walked about 9 miles on Sunday.  Frank ran 26+.  He got a medal and his name in the paper.  I did not.  Life is not fair, right?

Without further adieu/whining, here is the photographic evidence from this weekend. Future grandchildren, please enjoy this evidence that your grandfather DID run the Chicago Marathon.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t start this post with a picture of the site of the McDonald’s where Frank and I enjoyed our first married breakfast. Please note, in 2003, it was the “Rock and Roll McDonald’s”. Now it is just The Giant McDonald’s.

A dude inspiring and motivating the volunteers at 6:30 in the morning. God bless them all!

A helicopter circling overhead to catch a glimpse of Frank!

These are the awesome wheelchair racers! Can you imagine pushing yourself with your arms for 26.2 miles? Picking up a can of soup is a triumph for me! Watching these folks race was so awe-inspiring and amazing, I couldn’t even cheer because I was on the verge of crying giant, meaty tears of amazement.  I had never seen anything so excellent and perfect and inspiring – a raw tribute to beauty formed through challenge – fire refining gold.  But I didn’t sob big snotty sobs. I guess I figure that the only people allowed to cry at the marathon are the people who actually have to haul their tooshies 26.2 miles.  Everyone else can be strong, right?  ::sniff::

The elite runners are SO FAST that I don’t have a clear picture of them. As my sister-in-law Lauren said, “I don’t run across a room that fast for a donut!” These runners ran sub-5 minute miles for 26.2 miles STRAIGHT! Me? I walked really fast to the diner for breakfast.  Did I mention the cornbread muffin was out of this world???

After getting quite worried that I missed Frank, I saw him emerging from the dense fog of runners – along with brother-in-law Dave! (bright orange jerseys) So happy to see them – and they seemed pretty happy to see me, but this was only mile 2. Even I’d be happy at mile 2…

Dave and Frank. Frank and Dave.

Frank, “Wanna sing a running song? You know, get into the spirit of the marathon?” Dave, “Um, do I know you?”

There were quite a few funny/cute/interesting signs along the route, but this one was particularly amusing. I also liked the one that said, “Because 26.3 is just CRAZY.” (Joke Explainer: the marathon is 26.2 miles. That extra .1 would put the whole event over the edge. Is the joke not funny any more? OK. Good. Onward)

While waiting for Frank to run by at the 1/2 marathon point, I wanted to artistically capture the conflict between me and my inner runner. Based on this representative photograph, I think it’s safe to say that I have restrained my inner runner inside a cage and she will NEVER get out to run a marathon. Phew.

While we (Andy (my bro) and Lauren (my sis-in-law-extraodinaire)) were waiting for Frank at 13.1, we were also enthusiastically cheering on other runners. By “we”, I mean “me”. Andy was trying to get some artistic, beautiful shots of the raw athleticism streaming toward him. As he reviewed his pictures, he found that my hand (in the shape of a giant “thumbs up”) was prominently featured in most – if not ALL – of his pictures. Ha ha ha. Ha. I rule.

FRANK! So far, so good. Despite some leg injuries prior to the race, he made it to the 1/2 marathon point without a trip to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Or Rush. Or Cook County. Or wherever they would’ve taken him. Way to go Frank! And, he looked pretty jubilant to boot!

Around mile 8 or so, Frank and Dave were separated. I tried my best, but only got a few shots of Dave heading down the final 200 meters. Hi Dave!

There he is, right behind lime-green dude. Way to go Dave!

And… THERE HE IS!! Frank heading down the final 200 meters! I saw a couple cross the finish line hand-in-hand and I thought, “Wow, that’s amazing!” And for like, a nano-second I thought, “Maybe Frank and I could do that one day…” and THEN I thought, “No, the only way that is happening is if I jump this fence and run with him right now…” and then I thought, “Who are we kidding? I’m never going to jump that fence.” So yeah, maybe we can settle for a DVR marathon of great fall TV… that’s more my speed, anyway…

And of course, none of this was possible without the generous support of folks who donated to Frank’s Team World Vision goal. Frank has a heart for those who live on less than $1/day and the 1 BILLION people around the globe who do not have access to clean drinking water. Kinda hard to be all like, “you’re STILL training for this marathon??” when your spouse is all like, “Yeah, for THE PEOPLE WITHOUT WATER!! Geesh.”

 

So there you go.  Frank’s marathon in pictures.  He made me promise to remind him not to let him run the marathon again.  He made me promise to remind him of his three lost toenails, blood blisters, chaffing and his general inability to use the stairs the next time he says, “Babe, I’m thinking about running a marathon.”

Time will tell.

nine

So I’m a bit late on this one.  Between work, Frank’s travel schedule and, oh yeah, TWINS (BAM! I played the twins card!), I didn’t have time on 9/19 to write a gushy, mushy post about the amazing love affair that is our marriage.  Our marriage turned nine years old on 9/19.

Yep.

#WifeFail

But Frank, my awesome, amazing, excellent husband DID send me flowers at work and DID write a sweet note to go with the flowers about he’d do it all again – exactly.the.same.

As sappy and mushy as that sentiment seems to be, I couldn’t agree more.

Sure, we’ve had lots of warm, cozy, snuggly, and, dare I say, schmoopie moments over the course of the last nine years of togetherness-foreverness. But we’ve also had plenty of times where the statement, “I will be with you until the END OF TIME” could’ve been construed as both a promise and a threat.

Like, you know, how long is it until the END OF TIME? Is it time on this particular reality, or does that pass on to the next life?

You gotta really get these fine points ironed out, ya know?

So it’s been nine years.  Good, bad, awesome and ugly.

There was the time when we had an epic fight via text message over how Frank lost all of our little spoons.  He still hasn’t admitted to losing said spoons, but we all know the truth.

There was a time in the middle of the last nine years when the greatest tragedy that had befallen us to that point was the loss of ALL of our freshly put down grass seed.  An absolutely horrific rainstorm flushed about a THOUSAND dollars worth of seed down the Milwaukee County sewer system.  I like to think that there is a beautiful green field at the end of that pipe, and that we had something to do with it. Sometimes I’m a little too optimistic. I digress.

Not to worry, time taught us that grass seed was small potatoes in the scheme of things.

My dad was sick.  Frank lost his job not once, but twice in the same year.  We moved. I changed industries.

We lost Lily.

It was hard. And messy. And gross.

What we did with those hard, messy and gross times is our story.  We stuck together. Frank and Emily VS. Crappy Stuff.  Frank and I have outlasted all of those other temporary, crappy situations.

Frank and Emily: 9, Crappy Stuff: 0.

I know, kinda sounds like a downer.  But it’s not.  It’s honest.  I’ve been thinking a lot about the face we present to the world.  It’s important to both Frank and I to be on our A-Game as often as possible.  To not dwell on the negative.  To stay positive and happy and forward-facing. We know we’re pretty darned blessed, no matter the circumstances.

The best part of the past nine years wasn’t all the times we made it to church on time or all the times that our kids looked cute and put-together in pictures.  The best part of the past nine years was going on this outrageous adventure together.  Loving and laughing and crying and arguing as a team, a partnership and a family.

That. Is. Life.

So when Frank says to me that he would do this whole crazy thing over again, and do it all exactly the same, that means more to me than anything else he could’ve said via a Hallmark greeting card.  That is true love.

And, babe, I agree.

Happy ninth anniversary. TM, A.

how we say “i love you…”

When Frank and I were first dating, we thought it would be incredibly insightful to read the book The Five Love Languages. We were being all academic about love.

We bought the books… and then?

And then we spent the last decade making up our own love language.

Yes, that’s right, Frank and I have been hanging out romantically for a decade now.

Whoa.

So to celebrate a decade of smoochin’ and snugglin’ and stealin’ each other’s desserts – I thought I’d kick things off right with the top 10 ways we say “I love you.”

In no particular order:

10. Snuggles.

We snuggle all.the.time.  It’d be annoying if it wasn’t so delicious. There are nights where we follow one another from one side of the bed to the other and back again.  We’ve even named some of our favorite ways to snuggle.  That way, like good little quarterbacks, one of us can yell out, “SWEET SPOT!” and we assume the position.

9. The Clean House Maneuver.

This maneuver works great on both of us. It’s not complicated: clean the house while the other spouse is out. That one gets me every time!

8. The Clean Car Maneuver.

Similar to #9, but with either or (if particularly amorous) both vehicles. It differs from #9 because we have, on occasion, let our cars get particularly yucky.

7. Sweet Texts.

I’m sure in the olden days, spouses would have to find a piece of paper and pen and ::GASP:: write a note. Us? We just grab our phones and shoot over a text message.  Some of my favorites:

Frank: 11:30 a.m. doctor appointment for the twins.

Me: OK.

Frank (a few hours later): It’s Herpes.

Me: What?!

Frank: Nevermind. Girls are fine. Love you!

Frank is, as you may know, a pilot.  Occasionally (frequently…) I forget where he is going, until he gets there and texts me:

Frank: Love you in SFO (San Francisco)

Me: Oh, good. I didn’t know where you were going. XOXO.

On the first Tuesday of every month, the state tests tornado sirens.  Every first Tuesday at 10 a.m., I get a text that looks something like this:

Frank: DISASTER IMMINENT!! SEE YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE!! LOVE YOU!!

Me: Shhh. In meeting.

6. Laughing at the Same Jokes Over and Over and Over Again…

We have a cycle of jokes that is on endless loop.  Just like when I was kid and my sister and I watched Howard the Duck on an endless loop until my mom “dropped” the VHS tape, Frank and I can’t get enough of some of the same old jokes.

And there is comfort in that. Singing goofy versions of Kenny Loggins song Danny’s Song (“Even though you look kinda funny, I don’t care cuz you’ve got money!”); Frank chasing me up the stairs saying, “I’m gonna getcha!” while I freeze-up laughing, unable to move; holding hands and trying to be the first to tuck our thumb in between; responding to the other with “yer mom”; and the list goes on and on. No matter what we’re going through – there is always a small, sweet way that we can say “I love you” that brings a smile to both of our faces.

… Juvenile as it may be…

5. Holding Hands.

When snuggling isn’t an option, we often have to settle for holding hands. We hold hands everywhere we can – even in the car. We talk about how if we have to be in separate beds in the nursing home that if we can’t snuggle there, we’ll hold hands all the way until the end. Pity the nursing home peeps that try to get in between us. We will go all ninja old people on them. That’s how we roll, yo.

4. The Postcard.

You guys:  Frank and I have never discussed this.  Ever.  It’s one of the rules of Postcard Club: we don’t talk about the postcard. Seriously. I was worried that if I shared the postcard, it might lose some of its magic, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take so that our children and our children’s children will know exactly how nuts we are. 

In 2005, I took a trip to Utah for work.  It was a lovely trip, but only a 2 day adventure.  I bought a postcard that I intended to mail to Frank, but never did because I would get home before the postcard would.  I gave Frank the postcard and thought it was the end of the postcard. Until I found it tucked in one of my drawers.  So I put it in his overnight bag.  And he put it in my work bag.  And I put it in the cupboard next to his cereal and he put it in my pillowcase.

This postcard has made it through at least 3 moves and 7 years without being lost.  Which is more than I can say for about half a dozen spoons, three dinner plates and a shelf.

Whenever I find the postcard, sometimes months between sightings, it always makes me smile.

3. Spanish Radio.

Yes.  You read that right.  Nothing says, “I love you” like 105.1 FM in Chicago.

See, because we use our SUV for carting around the twins and our sedan for lots of driving/chores/what-have-you, we tend to swap out cars a lot.  And even if we aren’t swapping out cars, Frank often is nearby my place of employment to drop off the babies and from time to time, he stops by my car, turns the radio to Spanish Radio and cranks the volume.

While some people live in fear of turning the key in the ignition and a bomb going off, I live in fear of turning the key in the ignition and being bombarded with the music stylings of an enthusiastic mariachi band.

But as soon as I peel myself off of the ceiling of my car and get my wits about me, I remember that it is just a small way of Frank saying “I love you” using the only Spanish he remembers from high school.  Note: Aside from finding Spanish Radio formats on the dial, he can also say “The cat is on fire” and “The cat is in my pants.” What can I say? I’m smitten…

2. Our Rings.

For most married people, their wedding bands are a symbol of the promises they made to one another.  You know, the part where I lied and told Frank I loved to cook and could not wait to cook all.the.time? (And now Frank does 99.9% of the cooking)

But for us, our rings are also a symbol of our love (which is probably what it symbolizes for everyone else, too… we aren’t very original in that department… but whatever this is our top 10 list!).

I’ll spare you most of the schmoopy details, but basically it went like this:

Me: I love you, Frank.

::Cue the music, the soft lighting, the raw romance. Soap operas and love stories could learn something from this kind of passion.::

Frank: Aw, I love you, too babe.

After a few seconds of analysis.

Frank: If you were to quantify your love for me, how much would you say you had?

Me: This much!

Frank: (furrowing his mighty eyebrows) Which way?

Me: (exasperated) Always!

And so when Frank and I were engaged, we each separately decided to engrave a message on the inside of the other’s wedding band.  On the day of our wedding, after the vows and rings were exchanged, we couldn’t wait to slip off our rings to see what the other wrote on the inside. When I slipped the ring off of my finger and turned it into the light, I saw that, magically, we both wrote:

“I know where you live.”

Ha ha.  Just kidding.

We each engraved: “This Much, Always. 09-19-03”

I mean, occasionally we do get things right.

And so, when we look at our wedding bands, it is a constant reminder of our love – and that I don’t cook. Ever. Except when I get in the mood. But really, let’s be honest: dude has to cook all of the meals.

And, last, but not least:

1. We Love to Make Each Other Laugh.

Sure, I guess that’s been the under-riding theme of this entire post.  But truly, nothing delights either one of us more than the other being delighted.

These are the kinds of pictures that Frank sends to me with some sort of funny caption.

Eventually Frank’s series of Panda captions became his Anniversary Card to me one year.

And for Frank’s Golden Birthday, I surprised him with a few of his closest friends and some bread pudding.  He was delighted!

I always get a laugh out of Frank when I make that face.  What can I say??  I’m a charmer.

***

And so, in summary, we are probably certifiably crazy.  But that’s OK: we’re crazy together.

To Frank, I say, “Thank you for being my friend!”

… “Travel ’round the world and back again.  Your heart is true, you’re a pal and a confidant!  And if you threw a party! And invited everyone you knew!  You would see, the biggest gift would be from me and the card attached would say, ‘THANK YOU FOR BEING MY FRIEND!'” (Sung loudly, totally off-key and with heart because really, if you don’t sing it with heart, what’s the point??)

Extra Credit: Name that TV show theme song.  Nate? You got this one?

three things: bodily functions

A few months after having the twins, Frank and I were out on a mini-date, and during a lull in the conversation, Frank said, “You know, having twins wasn’t quite the poop storm I thought it would be.” (He didn’t say poop… but you know, what I mean)

And, really, it wasn’t a total poop storm.  Except on the few occasions that it was literally that: a storm of poopies. Or barfies. Or whatever.

Just today, I was thinking that I didn’t want to write something my kids would be embarassed about later.  But just like Carrigan cannot resist the siren song of the TV remote control, I cannot resist telling a few scintillating baby stories that I am sure will make their weddings all the more memorable.

Story #1: Everybody Poops

At some point, we realized we couldn’t both get up for every feeding, so we started taking shifts in the middle of the night.  One night Frank came back to bed and I rolled over, half sleeping, and asked him how the first middle of the night feeding went.

“I got poop on my face.”

In my sleep-induced fog, I couldn’t quite figure out the mechanics of that statement. I was vaguely aware that poop just typically doesn’t go on your face.  Or my face.  Or anyone’s face.

In the morning, certain that I was having weirdly realistic dreams, I dismissed the memory as fiction.

But over breakfast, appropriately, Frank gave me the low-down.  While changing Ellie’s poopie diaper, he dropped it dirty-side-down on the carpet. Annoyed and without thinking, he bent over to pick it up, putting his face dangerously close to Ellie’s behind. Being a gassy little love, Miss Ellie chose that moment to let a wet one loose, resulting in poop on Frank’s face.

The way that Frank tells it, there was a long pause where he reflected on the situation, absorbing the reality that it was 2 a.m. and there was poop on his face.

Story #2: Diapering 101

One night, after many nights of not getting a lot of sleep, we were bathing the girls and getting them ready for bed.  Or maybe we were just changing diapers and it was dark.  Or maybe we were changing diapers and it was the middle of the day.  Who knows?

The important thing is that one of us (Frank) took a few liberties with the diaper changing process.  Namely, he didn’t really secure the diaper to Carrigan’s itty-bitty behind.

I was sitting on the rocker, holding Carrie on my leg when it happened.  It began as a subtle warming on my leg, spreading  quickly. When I finally realized what was happening, Carrie had peed through her clothes, my pants and onto the floor. 

Her diaper, however, was hanging around her knees and was totally dry.

Story #3: The Barfies

Our twins had reflux from the time they came home from the hospital until they were 9 months old. Seriously.  You can’t make that crap up.

They barfed all the time.  Sometimes, just when you would think to yourself, “Oh, it’s been an hour since their last feeding, certainly they can’t possibly get sick” is usually also the time where they would unload the motherload of vomit. So. Awesome.

 I smelled barf everywhere I went for a very long time.  Even now, I sometimes sniff my clothes just to make sure I don’t have barf on them somewhere.

While many people experienced the twins’ epic barfies – my family members started bringing extra clothes with them when they came for a visit- the best barfing extravaganza happened to my dear friend Eve.

Eve came over to visit while she was still 6 months pregnant with her little Josiah.  Probably expecting a zen evening of snuggling babies, I don’t think that Eve really understood what was in store.

“Want to give Carrigan a bottle?” I asked her. Said another way, “Want to pull the pin from this grenade?”

“SURE!” 

Eve fed Carrigan a bottle. And Carrigan, equal to the task, gulped the whole bottle down in record time.  She gave a few demure burps, batted her eyelashes, opened her mouth as if to yawn and …

BARFED ALL OVER EVE.

It went down the back of Eve’s shoulder and the front of her shoulder.  It cascaded like a rancid waterfall onto the couch.  It went down the front of her shirt.

And Eve, being six months pregnant, began gasping, coughing, dry heaving and generally reacting to being coated in a thick layer of regurgitated formula. 

If the quantiy of barf expended by my children was directly proportional to the amount of love they feel for a person, my dear twins must love a lot of people VERY MUCH.

life right now

Right now…

the twins are sleeping peacefully in their beds.

Right now…

their daddy is on his way home from a brief jaunt in Fort Meyers, FL.

Right now…

I’m reading my friend Heidi’s blog and reflecting on the long way we’ve both come since we first started reading each other’s blogs three and a half years ago. From infertility to holding beautiful daughters – the journey has been incredible.

And life right now is excellent.

There is a lot that has happened and there is a lot to look forward to – and this very minute, standing in between what has happened and what will be, is very sweet indeed.

But the right now is awesome.  Tonight I was putting the twins to bed the same way I usually put them to bed.  We often sit on the floor of the nursery and flip through books and chatter together before I put them in their cribs for the night.  The girls take turns sitting on my lap and showing me books and giving me little snuggles – and it is the most peaceful, beautiful part of my day. Anyway, tonight I was sitting on the floor holding Carrigan and she was showing me the book The Mitten, taking her tiny index finger and pointing to words in the book the way that she has seen Frank and I do when we read to her.  And my heart was full!

Carrigan learning how to use a straw.

I looked up from my reading exercise with Carrigan and saw Elliana opening and closing the drawer on her nightstand.  I could tell that she was watching the mechanics of her effort very carefully and something was coming together in her mind about how the world works. I am so in love!

Elliana investigating a toy.

And to top it all off?  Frank will be home any minute.

Yes, right now is excellent.

happy thanksgiving: road trippin’ with two infants…

While we (Frank and I) would love for everyone to live under the impression that getting out of the house with two infants is, “no biggie” and “easy-peasy”, I think it’s time to blow that myth out of the water.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving at the K Compound less than an hour away from our house. Throw a few babies and some food in the car and go, right?

Ha.

Newbies.

First, we have to assess our laundry situation.  While letting the kids roll around in vomit-stained onsies is A-OK for most Thursdays, we actually have to make the kids look somewhat presentable for Thanksgiving. Which means that we have to find two coordinating outfits (yes, coordinating – don’t judge) and two coordinating back up outfits (I mentioned they [well, really Carrie] still vomit, right?). The vomiting has improved somewhat, which means that we just need pants and shirts. We are willing to gamble that they will not vomit so profusely that we will need to change their socks. (Which has been known to happen)

If they vomit that much, we’re coming home.

Second, Frank and I have an on-going battle regarding some of the girls’ accessories. Frank seems to be under the impression that there is such thing as A Bow That is Too Big. (From Frank: “This bow is literally, LITERALLY the size of their already off-the-scale large noggins. Add the extra cheek weight and the poor kiddos can barely hold their heads up. Normal bows, people say ‘aw, how cute’ – these bows, people say ‘aw, those poor kids.'”)

I am of the school of thought that there is no such thing as A Bow That is Too Big.

We spar for a few minutes on this topic, which involves me accusing my entire family of loving Frank more than me, a love which leads my family members to falsely state that they agree with Frank’s opinions on infant girl hair accessories. I tell ya – you live with people your entire life and BAM – they side with your spouse.  Bah. But that’s a blog post for another day.

Once we get their outfits planned, next comes the task of trying to figure out how many times the girls will need to eat and then packing twice as much in the off-chance that we stay longer than we think we will, etc, etc. Packing bottles and formula, gathering snacks, selecting mushed up nasty infant food containers, finding clean spoons, figuring out what else to feed the girls and how many bibs to bring (the magic number today was SIX, for those of you playing along at home) and then tracking down the beloved bunny-kin baby china set (yes, you read that right – the girls have inherited infant china from their GRANDFATHER from when HE was a child…).

Oh, and then we had to wash down the girls high chair seats because, as you may have heard, the girls tend to vomit/spit up/do the technicolor yawn ALL THE TIME (their highchairs detach from the bases and then plug into a portable base that attach to regular dining chairs). You’d be amazed at where I found vomit/food/mysterious substances.

Then, because both girls are on the move and OH.EM.GEE getting into EVERYTHING, we have to bring the baby corral.  And a blanket to put on the floor so that the aforementioned vomit doesn’t stain the carpet because when Carrie gets excited or moves quickly or laughs or does ANYTHING, she urps. (We asked the doctor about this at their last visit and the doctor said, “Well, is she upset about it?” and we said, “No, but we are!” and she shrugged her shoulders and said “put on your big boy/big girl undies and deal.”  OK, she didn’t say that last part, but that’s essentially what she said. And then Carrie puked. No seriously. Right there. For dramatic effect – and then she smiled proudly.)

So then we pack diapers.  I get a little over-zealous in this department and pack twenty for a three hour visit and then Frank dials it back to ten. And we pack toys. And pacifiers. And an extra blanket because well, if the twins do a big urp, we might need to switch out blankets for a fresh one.

While we are hunting down all of these items, we are realizing that even though WE JUST DID LAUNDRY, most of the items we need have to be washed!! Ah!

And then we stand there and look at the mountain of STUFF and realize that we STILL NEED TO GET OUR STUFF TOGETHER.

OK, so all that gets done and all of the baby stuff that can be placed by the door is placed by the door and then we make a check list of all the other stuff that is in the fridge or that has to be assembled in the morning so that we don’t forget ANYTHING.  We put the babies on the checklist because, and please tell me we are not alone, we are secretly VERY afraid that we will load up the car sans babies and not realize it until we are pulling up at Frank’s parents’ house an hour later. (“Aw crap, not again!”)

So, three hours after our “poop is in a group*” I am hiding upstairs writing this all down so that I can say to my children in ten years, “This is why Mommy cries.”

Frank is in the basement writing his memoirs entitled Why do Babies Need China Dishware? And Other Pressing Questions From a Pilot. I’ll let you know when the book gets picked up by a publisher.

Tomorrow, though, we will load up the car and splash on some perfume/cologne to hide the subtle yet nagging odor of vomit that seems to follow us everywhere, and act like, “Oh em gee, we rolled out of bed and the girls were fresh as daisies** and the car was packed and I don’t wear mascara*** – my lashes are totally this long always!”

Sure, it seems like a major headache to get out of the house with two infants, but in the end, it is totally worth it. Great times with family, wonderful memories made and delicious dinner enjoyed. And I am particularly thankful that this year Frank has Thanksgiving off and we can do all of this packing together.  Cuz lemme tell ya, both of us have had to do it alone and it is not pretty…

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!!

*Poop in a group, as I just learned recently, is a very nice way of saying something else bad.

**This is a total falsehood.  Frank gave them a very thorough Frank-style bath tonight.

*** Love me some Mary Kay Mascara!!