mother’s day

When we were going through infertility treatments and struggling to get pregnant, this day was so bittersweet. I have a wonderful mom and a great mother-in-law. But the pain of feeling excluded from this day, because of the challenges we faced having a child, weighed on me.

This year is different for two obvious reasons and I am beyond grateful for our twin girls. They are smiling, cooing and starting to develop a little bit of personality.  It definitely helps make the long nights worthwhile.

But since I had the twins, a realization that had started to take shape when we struggled with infertility has continued to become more clear to me.

Motherhood does not happen to you, it happens in you.

Yes, it sounds totally cliché and trite, but bear with me. I did not magically become a mother on February 19th of this year. There was not a moment in the delivery room where a rush of hormones released a locked part of my brain, making me a mom.

Becoming a mom started a long time ago when I watched my own mom care for my sister and tried to imitate her with my doll I named Karen. It started in preschool when I pretended to be the mom when we played house. It continued to develop when I would babysit my siblings and neighbors. In my career, my instincts to mother grew as I learned how to nurture my coworkers and help those who reported to me achieve their goals. In volunteer work, I practiced and developed mothering skills with teenagers – one of the toughest and most rewarding groups to work with.

That being said, on February 19th when the doctors gave me my daughters to hold, I was filled with the requisite awe and wonder at our infant daughters. And while I loved them immediately, the moment was not transformative as I had previously imagined it would be. Sure, now I had the title, but it occurred to me that I had been doing the job, in one way or another, my whole life.

Am I saying that being a mother isn’t full of responsibility, challenges and difficulty? Certainly not. After being up most of the night with the twins, I have new appreciation for my own mother. I also have an even greater appreciation for my husband who was up with me, changing diapers, making bottles, rocking and burping.

But I also have a great appreciation for all the women in my life that have mothered me without having the official title. From teachers, bosses, mentors and friends, I have been fortunate enough to have a fantastic biological mother in addition to an army of women who have come alongside me and used their mothering skills to help me grow and flourish.

Mothering is encouraging, growing, nurturing, challenging, comforting, loving and caring for others, with little to no reward.  For the women out there who feel excluded from this day because they do not have children, I hope that this realization affirms the wonderful women that they are. It may not take away the pain and heartache of not having a child in your arms, but I want you to know that the amazing work you do in the lives of others is not, and will not be, forgotten.

And for everyone out there that has had the great fortune of having an army of mothers as I have had, I hope that you can take some time today to thank some of those outstanding women.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the women who mother – you are all a wonderful treasure!

wait, what?

Some of you may know that I am currently hanging out at the hospital, trying to keep my legs crossed and keep the babies from spraying out alien-style.  For those of you who do not know that – I am in the hospital on bed rest and trying NOT to give birth.

And here is how this came to be.

I’ve been warned against trying to find all of the things that I could’ve, would’ve or should’ve done to avoid finding myself in this current situation.  It’s hard, as the primary care giver for your little ones, to not go down that path.  So hopefully, without too much self-blame, I can relate the story of how I came to be sitting in the mother-baby unit, still attached to both of my babies.

Since last Sunday, I’d been getting up way more frequently in the middle of the night, noticing that my stomach was very hard.  A few times, I was even up every 30 to 45 minutes, which was kind of concerning.  I realized by Tuesday night that the reason I was waking up so much was not necessarily to use the facilities as much as it was because I was experiencing abdominal discomfort.

Wednesday at work was fine – I put my feet up at my desk and cranked on some projects.  By Wednesday night when I arrived home, I was noticing that same tightness in my abdomen.  I told Frank to feel my stomach and he noticed it was really tight too.  So we sat on the couch for an hour and counted about 4 or 5 “contractions”.  They didn’t hurt, so I figured it was normal – after all, my uterus was measuring full term for a singleton baby.

Wednesday night was horrible.  I was up very frequently and had a hard time sleeping.  I eventually gave up and took a shower at 4:30 ish in the morning, with the intent of going into work early.  The shower seemed to calm things down, though, and I took a little bit of a nap.  Considering the tightness and how much I was up, I decided it was probably appropriate to see the doctor just to be sure that everything was OK.

I called the doctor, expecting an afternoon appointment, but instead, they wanted to see me as soon as I could get in.  Completely believing that it was just the usual case of neurosis for me, I decided to wait until 10 a.m. to go in so that I could get a few things taken care of at work.

The visit to the doctor’s office was pretty uneventful.  They hooked me up to the monitors and naturally, I didn’t have any contractions while I was sitting there (not surprising – mornings have been pretty quiet for me) and the babies seemed to be having a grand old time bouncing around.  The doctor did a fetal fibronectin test which predicts with 99% accuracy whether or not a patient will go into pre-term labor within the next two weeks.  She also checked my cervix and noted that while it was still long, I was dilated to 1 cm.  Hrm, I thought.  That’s kind of surprising.

Back to work I went.  I decided earlier that week to do all of my maternity leave debriefs a bit early, just because I am having twins.  Who knew that Thursday afternoon would be my last day in the office??

While I was sitting in my office, I noticed a few more “hard stomach” moments, but nothing crazy.  I went home to Frank and had some dinner.  Then he went out to visit with a friend and I settled down on the couch to write thank-you notes and watch TV.

Within a few minutes of writing the notes, I noticed that my stomach was getting hard at regular intervals.  I logged on to contraction master and decided to just keep track of how many times I was contracting and for how long.  After two hours of writing thank-you notes and watching HGTV, I had a very consistent pattern of contractions/tightness every 4-5 minutes, with a few instances of less than 3 minutes.  The tightness was lasting 30-45 seconds, sometimes longer.  My doctor had told me if it went on for longer than an hour, to call… at two hours of contracting, I figured I finally had to face the music.

See, I hate calling my doctor.  Loathe it.  It seems like every time something like this happens, it’s after hours.  Blah.  I told the nurse about the situation and she said she would talk to the doctor and get back to me.

Thinking it would be a while, I called Frank to tell him the scoop and advise him that he should probably start coming home.  By the time I hung up with him, the nurse already called back and told me to head to Labor and Delivery immediately.

And of course, the only thing I hate more than calling my doctor is actually going to the hospital, especially when I’m not 100% sure that this “tightness” I was feeling was really “contractions” or just “typical twin pregnancy stuff.”  Ugh.  I mean, my uterus was measuring full term for just one baby – perhaps this was just all part of the joy of twins!

We didn’t pack anything because, really, I didn’t think I had to pack for an overnight stay.  I figured I’d go in, they’d tell me I was nuts, and we’d be home in time for the 10 p.m. news.

On the way to the hospital, I had a few more “tightness” situations.  We got to the hospital and of course, just like when you take your car to the mechanic, everything started feeling better.  By the time they sat me down in the bed in Labor in Delivery (in the ridiculous gown that opens in the back) and hooked me up to the fetal monitors, I was 100% sure that they were going to tell me not to come back until the babies were crowning.

I actually said that to Frank: “They aren’t going to let me come back until the babies are crowning.”

Funny story.

While I was sitting in the bed, feeling ridiculous, I was having contractions 3 minutes apart.  The OB on staff came in and did a cervical exam and announced that I was 3 cm dilated with a bulging sac.

I looked over at Frank and just said, “Well, that’s not very good.”  And Frank knew that wasn’t very good because we already took the class and because he’s a good husband, he remembered what effacement was and what dilation meant and well, a bulging sac just never sounds good.  So he looked back at me with wide eyes and nodded and we just sort of sat there, taking it in.

And then that’s when the craziness started.  IVs were brought in, I was unceremoniously turned over and given a steroid shot in my tush.  Then they started the magnesium and the contractions got worse.  They were, at some points less than 2 minutes apart.  The doctors wanted me to try to sleep and let the magnesium drip take affect, so they gave me an ambien, but the pain was pretty bad still and I definitely couldn’t sleep through it, so they gave me some pain medication.

I don’t remember sleeping a lot, but I think I got a few hours in.  At 7 a.m., the contractions were still 5 minutes apart.  We were getting nervous and still had four more hours until the next steroid shot could be administered to help mature the babies’ lungs.

Around 8 a.m., the contractions finally started to space out and we were able to breathe a sigh of relief for the moment.  They kept the magnesium going and finally, everything seemed to be moving in the right direction.

So let me tell you about magnesium sulfate.  It works because it relaxes your uterus – and everything else, too.  Also fondly referred to as “mag”, this delightful concoction makes it harder to breathe, blocks up your sinuses and generally makes you feel like a wet noodle.  Oh, and when mixed with Ambien, it causes hallucinations.

At 10 a.m., the perinatologist and OB came in to assess the damage.  They wanted to keep me on the mag drip until I had my second round of steroids to mature the babies’ lungs.  Then things kind of get foggy and blurry.  At some point, I tried to go to sleep for the night, but was having a hard time sleeping because I was so hot (another mag side effect) and I couldn’t breathe.  So they brought me a cool wash cloth and an Ambien.  Hello, hallucinations. I woke up several times that night trying to get out of my bed, unsure if I was pregnant and wondering if the monitors I was wearing were guns or … monitors?  I doused myself with a washcloth full of water, threw pillows on the floor and asked the nurse if I broke my water.  I also asked the nurse if I was having triplets.

The nurse thought I was hilarious.

On Saturday morning, the perinatologist and OB had a pow-wow and determined the side effects of the mag were far worse than going into pre-term labor and so they stopped the drip.  And then we started waiting again.  Over the course of the next few hours, the nurses slowly disconnected me from the catheter, IV drips, etc.  By Sunday, I was completely wireless and essentially contraction-free!

Since then, it’s just been a waiting game.  The doctors feel that we’ve cleared a major hurdle and probably have at least another week before the babies make their grand entrance.  This will let the babies’ mature further and spend less time in the neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU).

We’ve been so blessed with so many of our friends and family praying for us and thinking about us – it’s been such a boost!  While this whole situation isn’t ideal and has both of us a little bit ragged, we are both keeping positive attitudes.  Our doctors and nurses have been great and everyone has been very impressed with the babies’ activity levels and heart rates.  And if these babies miraculously stay in until 34 weeks, I’ll get to go home because the doctors will no longer try to stop labor if it starts again.

three things: my fabulous hubz (winter edition)

I’m sure some of you out there are saying, “Barf.  It’s going to be one of those blogs where you’re all like ‘I love Frank’ wah wah wah. I want dish on how freakishly huge your belly is and when those kids are going to burst forth out of your belly all Alien-like.”  The babies update will come in due time.

And a few of you are probably asking, “What’s a hubz?  Where do I get one?  Nordstrom’s?”

While many a fine item can be purchased at a Nordstrom’s (ie. super big girl sized shoes that are also somehow still a little stylish), a hubz cannot be purchased at a Nordstrom’s.  A hubz (aka, a husband) can usually be found sitting in front of a TV playing a video game or watching a football game.

But not this hubz.

1. thing one: the hubz that cooks

For realz.  My sweet hubz is downstairs making chicken in a red wine reduction, steamed spinach and cooked carrots. And he is a manly cook.  He uses lots of spice, lots of fire, and real ingredients (none of my mamby-pamby splenda  and low-fat sour cream cr@p).  Gentlemen, if you are still looking for a good woman, ask Frank to teach you a few of his cooking tricks and you’ll be hitched in no time.

2. thing two: the hubz that shovels

I’m sure a lot of you have hubzes that shovel.  But until you’ve had to shovel 6″+ of snow in Wisconsin by yourself after working a full day – with the tears that are streaming down your face freezing on the end of your nose – you simply cannot appreciate the amazingness that is having your hubz home from work when the slushiest, iciest, heaviest wintry mix coats your driveway, front walk and steps.  And then when your hubz goes outside for 40 minutes and valiantly tackles this wintry mix (both with shovel and snow plow) without saying a peep about it – that is hotness right there!

3. thing three: tumz

After casually mentioning to the hubz that pretty much every night I want to vomit when I lay down thanks to this thing called acid reflux (thanks baby a and baby b for parking your cute selves on my stomach!), it was a joy to come home to a container of TUMS! While Frank is thoughtful, this particular maneuver might also stem from self-preservation: after hearing all of the middle-of-the-night projectile vomiting stories from my parents (and there are many), I’m sure it’s occurred to Frank that he could be my next victim.  The Hubz is wise and knows his wife well.

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 (37-46)

I have lots of joys to share from this weekend, so without any further ado (and in no particular order):

joy #37:

Tea!  I went with my sisters-in-law, mother-in-law and niece to a wonderful tea at the Drake.  It was really a lot of fun!  I always enjoy going to tea there and it is such a treat.

joy #38:

Before anyone gets worried that I’m outside ice skating in my “condition”, I would like to first say, I am NOT ice-skating.  However, work hosted a free ice-skating event this weekend and it went great!  It was a lot of fun to see all the kids out ice-skating and throwing their bodies around the ice like weapons.  So many kids went down HARD on the ice, but after looking around with dazed looks on their faces, most of them got back up and kept skating.

joys #39-44:

Some of my favorite joys stopped by the ice-skating event to say hello. Since I don’t want to short-change anyone, I figured I’d make them all joys.  Here they are (in no particular order, lest I hear about it later):

Joy 39: Sarah – my baby sister – is always a little bundle of joy.  She’s the smallest of us kids, but she makes up for it in the amount of energy and noise she can generate.  She’s a doll!

Joy 40: My cousin Meghan is a genius.  No, seriously, she is.  Sometimes I think I can get a contact-smart off of her if I sit by her long enough.  She scored a perfect on her ACT in 2nd grade.  Ok, maybe it was 3rd grade.  Whatevs.  Meghan rocks and she flew in from DC to be here.  For Christmas.  It just worked out that she also came to the ice-skating event.

Joy 41: My amazing sister Caitlin.  She rocks.  She’s taller than me, which makes me happy.  She’s also the only one of my family members who will read this and think, “Really?  Why THIS picture of me??”  Hey, it’s my joys.  This picture is from our awesome vacation to Marco Island in 2009.  Happy times, indeed!  She came out to our ice-skating adventure as well because she’s fabulous.

Joys 42 & 43: Frank (the taller fella and my dear husband) and Andy (the smaller fella and my brother).  I picked this picture from our wedding because, well, I can.  So there.  Frank and Andy are really long lost brothers.  Both of them have had to deal with two older sisters growing up (although Andy had the added bonus of a younger sister, too).  Both of them are easy-going, smart, funny and charming gentlemen.  They both made the trip out to the ice-skating event and, as usual, made me smile.  Way to go, guys!

Joy 44: My cousin Dave.  Also a genius (like his previously-mentioned sister Meghan), Dave is studying to be a lawyer.  Dave made the trip out to see our fun winter festivities.  Dave is awesome.  Dave, thanks for being awesome.  Oh, and Dave?  We need to work on a few legal matters.  You give a hefty discount for family, right??

joy #45:


I’m not entirely sure what is going on in my uterus, but whatever it is, it sure involves a lot of kicking, punching and flopping – and I love it!  It’s great to feel the babies moving around.  I can actually see them moving, too.  This morning while I was still sleeping, Frank put his hand on my belly and Baby B was kicking him.  Such a sweet joy!

joy #46:

It’s official – we have fewer than 100 days until we meet our babies!  Tomorrow (12/20/10), the babies will be 24 weeks along and will be considered “viable” with a 90% survival rate (with medical intervention, of course).  Hurrah!  Way to go, babies!  Praise God!

100 joys (32-36)

What a long week!  I feel like it was a marathon of activity and I cannot wait to nap.  So here are a few things that brought me joy today (and then I am going to bed!!):

joy #32

Frank and I discovered a fantastic website called Cozi that allows us to share calendars, journal our menu for the week and create to-do lists. Love it.

 

joy #33

OMG.  Have you seen this show?  You should watch the first season, but don’t expect much until you get to the end of the first season.  Sorry, it just wasn’t their best.  But something magical happened towards the end of the first season and we’ve been hooked ever since.  It appeals to both of us – I love time travel/universe swapping sci-fi angles and Frank loves love stories.  Hrm.  No.  I got that wrong.  I love time travel/universe swapping sci-fi angles and Frank loves Peter Bishop (played by Joshua Jackson).  Hrm. Well, whatever the reasons we like to watch the show, you should be watching it too.  You’d be much happier if you did.

 

joy #34

Since I’ve started down the path of shows we like to watch, I may as well be 100% honest with myself (and those of you reading this blog), we watch a lot of TV shows.  This is largely due to the technological wizardry known as the DVR.  Love it.  This means on Friday, after a long week, Frank and I can park ourselves on the couch and catch up with some of our favorite shows while only moving minimally and grunting occasionally when whomever has the remote control forgets to fast forward through the commercials.  So, that being said, we are LOVING Modern Family. Perhaps it’s because we identify with the characters so well.  Specifically, it seems we have the most in common with Cam and Mitchell. What can I say, I have the flare for the dramatic like Cam and Frank is emotionally… ahem… reserved – like Mitchell.

 

joy #35

We’ve loved Chuck for a long time.  Chuck is witty, smart, geeky and fun.  It’s everything that we enjoy, but recently I’ve found Frank’s TV affections are wandering.  I still love Chuck, but Frank has proclaimed that he is “over” Chuck and is on the market for a new show.  Whatever.  I still love Chuck, even if we’re reliving the same plot lines again and again.

 

joy #36

Every day I have at least one of these.  I love them.  They are delicious.  They make me smile.  Yum.

 

 

100 joys (18-31)

OK people, you know the drill!  Working on 100 joys STAT!  Had to take some time off – late night yesterday and the hubz needed some attention. Only 83 joys left to go!

joy #18

I love milk.  I love it in cereal.  I love it ice cold with Oreo cookies.  I love it alone, I love it with dinner, and I loooove it in hot cocoa.  Love. It.  I especially loooove Oberweis milk. It just tastes better.  No growth hormones, no other funny business – just 100% straight-from-the-cow deliciousness.  Yum.  When I drink milk, I am in my happy place.

 

joy #19

Computers make me happy.  Can you believe that there was a time when people had to TYPE letters on a TYPEwriter??  It blows my mind.  I’ve asked people who worked in offices before computers about what they did without computers and their eyes glaze over as though they are remembering a time that even their brain doesn’t want to recall.  “You know, we just, um, got stuff done.  I don’t know.”  Did people work before computers??

 

joy #20

Where do I begin?  Voicemail, email, text messaging, pictures, video, applications… what did we do without smart phones??  How, heavens to Betsy, did we stand in line at the grocery store without something to fiddle with so that we don’t have to talk to other annoying people standing in line?  But even more importantly, how developed are our brains that we can use just our thumbs with the skill and precision to get to level 22 in Brick Breaker?  I mean, we as the human species have really come a long way!  And just when I thought life couldn’t get any better, I got a new work phone and it has SODUKO on it!!!!!  JOY TO THE WORLD!!!

 

joy #21

Chocolate chips.  Yeah, you think I’m going to wax poetic about all the things you can do with chocolate chips, specifically Nestle’s semi-sweet chocolate chips (cookies, flourless chocolate cake, peanut butter spoons topped with chocolate chips, chocolate covered Oreo cookies…).  But no, I’m not going there.  In our house, chocolate chips are certainly for cooking and baking and the spreading of happiness – but chocolate chippies are quick, sweet smooches.  Ahhh… joy!

 

joys #22-31

Sweet friends (from our Bible Study Cookie Exchange):

#22 – The sweet Miss Rosie-licious!

#23 – Ms. Tammy, always in action!

#24 & #25 – Baby Gianna and mama Dorothy

#26 – the always fabulous Toni!

 

Those were all the wonderful ladies that were able to make it tonight to our cookie exchange.  And they are a joy!  With our combined ADD, it’s hard for us to stay on track in conversations, but someone always remembers enough to help us find our way back to what we were originally talking about.  Not pictured were joys #27 (Allison), #28 (Kim), #29 (Nikki), #30 (Jackie) and #31 (Caroline).  They are such blessings and joys to me!

100 joys

One of my favorite Bloggers, Slightly Cosmopolitan, started working on 100 Joys which she found out about from Sarah Markley’s blog.  My friend Allison also saw a similar idea and is inviting our small group to participate via email.  It’s such a wonderful idea, I thought I would participate both on my blog and via email.

So here we go…

Joy #1

This little gold ornament was hand-decorated by my sweet husband when he was a little boy.  This ornament has hung on countless trees in his parents’ home when he was growing up and now hangs on our Christmas tree.  It’s hard to read in the picture, but the ornament just says “Frank” in glitter. It makes me smile!

 

Joy #2

The newest ornament on our tree this year was a gift from a dear friend, Meg.  She found this ornament while shopping with her fiance and they couldn’t resist.  It is a happy reminder of things to come in 2011.

 

Joy #3

Following in the theme of ornaments, this one is from one of my dear friends Erin.  She gave this to me when we were in college and somehow, between moving home, getting married and moving 4 times, we’ve managed to hang on to this ornament.  It makes my heart happy because not only does it remind me of Erin, but it also reminds me of all of the wonderful friends that I have made throughout the years!

 

Joy #4

What may not be clear in the above picture is that I am showing off my elastic waistband.  Elastic is one of my smaller, but still important, joys of the season.  I simply do not know what I would do without elastic considering my expanding waistline.  I love you, elastic!

 

Joy #5

We love the Chicago Blackhawks.  Love them.  Frank has been going to see them since he was a young boy.  We’ve been seeing the Hawks together for 8 years.  We’ve seen good years, bad years and awesome years.  We are not just-on-the-band-wagon fans, but rather long-term, committed fans.  I love seeing the Hawks play – win or lose.  I especially like it when the gloves come off and there is a great fight… especially when both players are trying to hold each other up while punching each other (cuz if they go horizontal, the fight is over…).  Nice.

 

Joy #6

There was a fantastic speaker at church a few months ago who talked about peace not being the absence of conflict, but rather, wholeness with God. I loved this concept and this season of the year reminds me of this all the time.  We live in a fallen world where there will always be conflict of one variety or another.  But we can have peace.  That gives me great joy!

 

Joy #7

Fundraisers where the kiddos sell cookie dough.  Talk about saving some time!  If that isn’t joy, I don’t know what is!

 

… Too be continued…

beautiful things

This morning at church they played a song by Gungor called “Beautiful Things”.  The lyrics were really simple, but really poignant:

All this pain / I wonder if I’ll even find my way / I wonder if my life could really change at all / All this earth / Could all that is lost ever be found / Could a garden come up from this ground at all

You make beautiful things / You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things / You make beautiful things out of us

Even though we are pregnant now, I still think a lot about our struggles with fertility. I think about how tested I felt and how alone, even in the midst of knowing quite a few people going through the same things.  I think about how often I wondered why we were going through this challenge.

A lot of the time, I think about how I could’ve done it better.

Maybe I could’ve been more positive and more optimistic.  Maybe I could’ve made it easier for the people around me by not talking about it or by talking about it more or by talking about it more positively.  Maybe I could’ve put on an attitude that was happier and more joyful, even when I was hurting.

And I kind of wonder what would’ve been accomplished.

It’s been occurring to me more and more the importance of reaching outward in difficult times and of being honest about where I am at, even if that location is not exactly lovely.  Glossing over feelings and putting up a front of being happy and in control is great if my goal is to make people feel like I have my crap together.  But it doesn’t do anything to draw people in, to connect with others or build community.  Of course, I believe there is a time and a place for being emotionally honest (ahem, losing it at work is not an option).

And then I think of Frank.

Frank loves to help people do projects around their homes.  He’s really good at helping, too.  He is much more coordinated than I am, so he is definitely more of an asset than a liability in pretty much any home improvement project.  He is smart, but he is not someone who thinks he has all the answers – which means he’s willing to problem solve and take direction.

Whenever he’s been asked to help with something and he’s not flying, he willingly and joyfully obliges.

And the thing about when he helps people is that it builds community.  He gets to know the other guys he’s working with and they usually feel like they are closer friends for having done the work.  I would argue that it is more effective for guys to build relationships working alongside each other than it is to go on a double date with their wives/girlfriends.

It’s just how guys are.

But imagine if no one asked him to help?  If everyone could just do it on their own?

I have a friend Rose, who you’ve read about here on my blog.  She and I have struggled with starting a family for some time.  She’s probably one of the sweetest girls I know.  And I doubt we’d be as good of friends as we are if we had not struggled through this fertility stuff together.  If she had said, “yeah, everything is WONDERFUL for me” and I’d lied and said the same thing, we’d probably never know each other as well as we do.

We share in the struggles together.  We cheer each other onward.  We rejoice and we grieve together.

I would also suggest that sometimes it’s the small things that bring us together.  Yes, the holidays are a great time for families to come together, but I also think that casual Tuesday night dinners and birthday dinners and celebrations of day-to-day things also brings us all closer.

So I don’t think I did the fertility stuff perfectly.  I didn’t keep myself together in a perfect little package of happiness.  But I don’t regret the struggle.

The song at church today reminded me that God uses all of this life we live to make beautiful things.  Out of the dust of our sadness and pain, God has grown friendships, strengthened our marriage and rooted us more deeply in our faith.  Our God is a faithful God, no matter the circumstance.