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!!

thoughts on pregnancy

… very post partum!

The girls will be nine months old next week and I find it interesting how frequently I think back on my pregnancy, the delivery and the weeks following.  I suppose the fact that my dear friend VIcky is going through some pregnancy concerns may have triggered some of these thoughts (if you pray, please pray for her and sweet baby Bubbles and her husband Tim and their little boy Caleb).  But anyway, in no particular order, the things I think about are:

How strangely calming it was to be on hospital bed rest.  Perhaps that’s where the phrase “peace that passes human understanding” comes from. And while I’m sure I was not always peaceful about it, the way that I remember it was that I didn’t have much anxiety about the situation most of the time.  I remember being alone in my room a lot, looking out the window at the office of my childhood pediatrician. The memories of my childhood pediatrician are pleasant, although most memories involve being home from school sick.

Aside from actually being sick, I usually liked being home from school sick because it afforded a sneak peek into a world I didn’t usually get to enjoy.  It put the world into a new context for me – a glimpse into what adults did while I was at school. Often I would look at the clock and think of what I should be doing in class and compare it to what was going on in the world around me – the mailman delivering mail, neighbors out walking, adults going to the store and so on.  I would hear my bus stopping near my house, dropping off all of the other students who had gone to class and I wondered what it would be like if I had been at school that day and was disembarking the bus at that moment, instead of tucked away in my bed.

And really, that’s what it was like on hospital bed rest.  The world was going on around me and I was watching it happen from my adjustable hospital bed. I tried not to think too much about work, although I checked in frequently to make sure that everything was OK. It was as though if I could just make it another day and just stay pregnant a little bit longer, it would be so much better for our girls.  I made it ten days.

I also think a lot about the labor and delivery. I remember it like I was watching things happen to me and not actively doing something about the situation.  As a matter of fact, I spent much of my mental energy trying to stop the freight train of labor so that Frank could be there for the delivery.

I was apprehensive about delivery because I felt like there was a big question mark hanging over the outcome. I wondered, somewhat fearfully, what my children would look like.  I wondered if they would look like real babies and if the image of alien-looking babies would follow me for my entire life.  It made me sad to think that their birth wouldn’t be “normal” – that a trip to the NICU was a certainty.

I remember the doctor announcing I was “complete” (ready to deliver), but was only measuring 9 cm (normally you measure 10 cm before you push).  Then I realized that the reason I was “complete” was because they were expecting me to deliver very, very small babies.  I was filled with dread.

When they wheeled me into the operating room to deliver and told me to start pushing, I was suddenly confused and unsure of how to do it.  I had thought about this moment over and over in my head, but I found myself afraid to push.  Not because I was afraid of pain, but I was afraid I’d push too hard and hurt the babies.  Silly, right?

I pushed anyway. The girls were born within 20 minutes.  I remember wondering, as I was pushing, whether they would cry when they were born.  When Ellie was born, I found myself holding my breath, waiting for her to take her first breath.  Oh, and when she cried, it was the sweetest sound I’d ever heard.

And when just three minutes later, Carrie was born, screaming and all angry, I was flooded with relief.

Yes, they were small, but OH! they looked like real life babies! I was so relieved.

I did get to hold Ellie in the operating room for a few seconds – long enough to snap a picture.  I think about that moment a lot – how surreal it felt. How different that moment felt than I had ever imagined.

I also think pretty frequently about getting to go see my girls in the NICU after I spent time in recovery. My entire pregnancy, the thing I couldn’t wait for was hearing the lullaby played over the intercom system at the hospital.  But all the times I had imagined it, I was holding my babies with my husband.  Instead, the first strains of the song rang out as I was being wheeled to the NICU through a long, winding hallway.  The doors of the NICU ward opened and directly ahead of me painted on the wall was an excerpt from the poem “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers” by Emily Dickinson:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—

And oh, how those words chilled me.  I remember seeing those words when we toured the hospital two months earlier.  I remember seeing those words on our tour and saying a quiet prayer in my head that I wouldn’t see them again.

There I was, facing those words and hearing the song playing over intercom and my heart was so sad.  “This is not how I imagined it!” I wanted to say.  But there were no words.

As they wheeled me into Ellie’s room, the second lullaby started playing for Carrie. They wheeled me up to her incubator, a glass box, and there was my very small, but very beautiful, baby girl.  She was hooked up to monitors and an IV and wearing only a diaper.

They placed her in my arms and I think about that moment, too.  I was so sorry.  I felt like she was hooked up to monitors and IV’s and I didn’t do everything possible to stop it. I came up short and she had only been alive for a few hours.

Carrie hadn’t been cleaned up yet or fully observed, so I didn’t get to hold her.  I looked at her through the glass, marveling at her tiny, perfect features.

I think a lot about going back to my hospital room on the Mother & Baby floor.  All of those rooms, in my mind, were full of babies and their mommies.  And I was going back empty and alone.

I think about swallowing all of those feelings and thoughts when I saw my little girls. They needed me to be strong.  They needed me to be happy when I saw them and to cover them in love. This whole thing wasn’t about me any more.

I think about the next day when they explained to us that the girls would need feeding tubes. While we were sitting in Carrie’s room, they ran her feeding tube through her nose and into her tummy.  She screamed these fragile, tiny baby cries that broke our hearts.

I remember the sound of the breath leaving Frank as he watched them run the feeding tube.  The “oomph” was like he had been punched in the gut.

I think a lot about the nights when we first had them at home.  The nights sort of blurred together. On the morning that Prince William and Catherine Middleton married, Carrie woke up at 3 a.m. Frank and I wound up watching the entire wedding, thanks to Carrie.

I turn these moments over in my head, over and over.  I think about what they mean, how they changed me, and wonder what would’ve happened if things went differently.

But what happened is what happened, as un-profound as that is. Months and months later, the girls are doing great. They are healthy, vibrant, active little girls.  They laugh and squeal and chatter.  It’s hard to imagine that they were born a minute before they were meant to.

The more I talk to people and hear their stories, the more I realize that life rarely turns out as expected or planned. Perhaps that’s what John Lennon meant when he said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

Life is fragile and delicate and rough and sharp and beautiful.

k stories: rituals of love

I wanted to document some of the special things we enjoy with the girls that may not be event-specific: On-going rituals and experiences that we love as a family.  Just a couple of my favorite rituals that come to mind:

Spa Bath Time

Bath time with Mom? Warm water in a bath tub.  Wash hair, rinse.  Wash baby, rinse.  Splash in the bath tub, towel off baby, lotion, diaper, and put on pajamas.

Bath time with Dad?  Akin to a fancy spa experience.

First, Frank plugs his iPhone into speakers in the girls’ room and sets the Pandora App to “new age” spa-type music.  He dims the lights ever so slightly and gets one bowl of soapy water and one bowl of warm fresh water.  If I am home, I sit in the rocker with one baby and Frank begins the sweetest and most tender ritual of giving the twins sponge baths.  He dedicates one wash cloth to the bowl with soapy water and one wash cloth to rinsing.  He washes their faces and necks, and then rinses.  The girls LOVE it.  Then hands, tummy, legs and feet.  He liberally applies lotion all over their tummies and legs, combs their hair and dresses them.  Watching him give them their baths is one of the sweetest and most tender acts of love that I have ever seen.

Good Morning!

Every morning Frank and I listen to the girls gabbing in their cribs.  We try to sneak in a few more minutes of sleep before we have to get going with the day, but as they get louder, we know that we are on borrowed time.

Frank usually runs downstairs and gets breakfast prepped.  I start getting ready for work if it is a work day.  When breakfast is ready, Frank comes back upstairs and together, we stand outside the girls’ door.

“OK, ready?” one of us usually says.

We push open the door and Frank flips on the light switch.

Every morning we are met with squeals of delight.  Carrie usually lifts her head up high in the air, flashing a big smile and scrunching her nose.  Ellie kicks her feet excitedly and sporting her own wide gummy grin. Frank and I each pick up a girl and we stand in the middle of the room, all four of us squealing and laughing.

It has to be the absolute best way to start a day!

eight

On a beautiful Friday eight years ago today (9/19/03), Frank and I were married. It was the last Friday of summer – the kind of Friday that you wish lasted all year: sunny, warm and fragrant.

I remember feeling peaceful on my wedding day.  I remember being happy and content. Was it perfect? Not at all.  I believe that God uses the engagement and the wedding to prepare you for what is to come.  I think of the engagement as a boot camp of sorts – how to deal with the family, the friends, the job, etc – how to set precedents.  

Frank and I didn’t live together, which is how I prefer it.  As unpopular as it is to not live together these days, I wouldn’t do it any other way. I’ve had roommates before.  I know about globs of toothpaste in the sink, one tablespoon of milk left in the jug before it was put away (I mean, really? Just drink it!), missing food, too-long showers – etc, etc, etc. I was friends with Frank for four years before we started dating.  We dated for nine months before we were engaged. We were engaged for six months (almost exactly) before we were married.  If he was a jerk, living with him wasn’t going to expose anything I shouldn’t have already known.  And if leaving the toilet seat up (which he doesn’t really do anyway) was going to be a deal breaker, well, gee whiz, I need to examine my own heart first!

So really, our wedding was the beginning of a new era for us.  Our lives were about to radically change in very real, tangible ways. And there I was (as someone with major anxiety issues) feeling peaceful.

Peace, as I’ve learned over the past years, is precious.  Shalom, the Hebrew word for peace, does not necessarily mean the absence of conflict.  Instead, it means fullness or completeness.

On our wedding day, I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy, but I knew it would always be worth it.

At last my love has come along, my lonely days are over and life is like a song

Oh, those were the words that were supposed to float over us while we danced our first dance as husband and wife.  But alas, our DJ, who swore he had five copies of the song, came up empty handed when we took to the dance floor.

Watching in slow motion, as you turn around and say, my love, take my breath away…

Instead, we danced to Take My Breath Away. You know, the hot, steamy, cheese-errific song from Top Gun (oh, the pilot cliches!). Also the title song for my junior prom, it was the only song we could come up with in the two minutes we had to come up with a new song.  Oh, the agony.  Through gritted teeth and pained smiles we hissed at each other on the dance floor through the entire first verse of the song.  But then we laughed, realizing that it was silly to get all worked up.  By the end of the song, our smiles were genuine and we knew we would laugh about the first dance mishap for years to come.

It was like God gave us our first lesson as husband and wife – gently telling us that life would not be perfect, but as long as we could laugh together through it, it would be so worth it in the end.

When we were first married, we would lie in bed, listening to the wind rustling through the vertical blinds in our apartment and the distant sound of train horns, and we would talk about our future.  Frank would hold my hand and say, “I just feel like we are on the launching pad – we’re getting ready for a great adventure – we just don’t know what it is yet.  I can’t wait to go on this adventure with you!”

And oh, what an adventure it has been!  It has not turned out the way we imagined it would – there have been curve balls and disappointments and challenges and victories – but it has been so worth it in the end.

So, to Frank, on the occasion of our eighth anniversary:

I love you. This much, always.

three things: dancing emily-style

It has become apparent to me today that Frank and I desperately need dance lessons.

This is not just for us – it’s for everyone who has to watch us dance.

And it’s not because of Frank.  Standing at 6’9″, Mr. Frank can cut a rug seven ways until Sunday.

No.

If you know me, and you know Frank, then you know that the source of our dance move mojo… issues… is me.  And here is my amateur diagnosis of what goes wrong on the dance floor…

thing 1: rhythm

A major element of dancing is rhythm.  You know, keeping a beat.  It’s a fundamental element of dance. As in, required. Oddly enough, my inability to keep a beat (and carry a tune and sing & clap simultaneously) was a leading factor in my decision to end my orchestral career after 8 long years of torturing a variety of dedicated musical professionals. Tonight, for example, there was a song playing and everyone was clapping along with it.  Some people were even stomping and clapping.  Me?  I was clapping.  Was I clapping at the same time as everyone else? No. And I certainly wasn’t stomping at the same time as everyone else.  As a matter of fact, I probably wasn’t even dancing to the same song as everyone else on the dance floor.  It probably looked like I was having a stroke.

thing 2: mah moves

I think that dance class would be beneficial in helping me develop more than four moves. “What are your moves, exactly?” you might ask.  Well, generally my “moves” involve looking at the people dancing near me and trying to do what they are doing. If I can’t do what they are doing, I do some sort of variation on aggressively stepping to the left and right, twitching, anxious hair adjustments and grinding on my husband’s leg.  The last dance move has been banned in some of the more conservative states in the Union, but my lawyer is appealing on grounds that I can’t help myself.

thing 3: leadership skillz

If you thought that my lack of rhythm or any dance skillz at all would’ve stopped me from trying to lead on the dance floor, then you’d be wrong. I have serious control issues that manifest themselves in trying to take over during slow songs.  Frank, being the alpha male-type that he is, often fights me for control.  Lucky for him, I also don’t have a good sense of balance, so usually he can regain the lead while I am trying not to fall on top of the cute 80 year old couple doing the foxtrot next to us. Our struggle for the lead has resulted in a lot of clenched smiles as we hiss at each other “one-TWO-three-FOUR” and “NO! ONE-two-THREE-FOUR!!!”

So… any suggestions on where to take dance lessons?  We still have three more weddings this year (although one is tomorrow, so we are probably too late on that one).

the girls: five month update

Another month has gone by!

And finally, the girls are sleeping through the night.  Sure, “through the night” appears to be a fairly approximate term and really means “5+ hours consecutively” but I cannot complain.  The girls are eating between 6 to 8 ounces and are starting to enjoy their oatmeal with pro-biotics (hey, when you have girls with BM issues, you take whatever advantage you can get!).

But more than just sleeping and pooping, the girls are starting to get more defined personalities.

Ellie is our more reserved, seemingly introverted baby.  She loves the mornings and always greets me with a large gummy smile.  Her red hair appears to be permanent – even her little eyelashes are still red.  While she seems to have a fiery Irish exterior, she has a more stoic Scandinavian interior. Something that I’ve noticed recently is that if I am watching TV while I feed her, she is craning her neck to get a good look at the action.  She really seems to like watching reality TV, probably because they show so many faces.  And also because she has good taste in TV like her mama.  Needless to say, I will be turning off the TV more frequently while feeding them – no need to get them hooked early!  In other Ellie news, she rolled over for real over the weekend.  Sometimes babies roll over “accidentally” when they have acid reflux because their bodies are so tense.  Now she is rolling over because she really wants to, which is awesome!

Carrie is smaller than Ellie and very bald.  While they both have sparkling blue eyes, that is about where the similarities end.  Carrie is a ham.  While Ellie makes you work to get a smile out of her, Carrie thinks everything is absolutely hilarious.  Both girls started to belly laugh over the past month, especially when their daddy makes them do funny dances, but Carrie really lets loose.  While Ellie loves the morning, Carrie seems to be able to party well into the night.  She loves looking around and engaging in her surroundings.  She has yet to roll over, but she definitely wants to.

What has been really cute to see is how the girls are starting to interact.  They are starting to look at one another, grab at each other’s hands and play a little bit together.  As you can probably tell, it is hard to describe one baby without inadvertently describing what the other is not.  I suppose that is a hazard of having twins, but also a joy.  I hope that as they grow up, even though they are likely to be so different, to enjoy each other as much as we enjoy each of them.

Mom, Dad, Ellie & Carrie