the twins’ birthday: a day in pictures

About a week before the twins were born, Frank snapped my last pregnancy pictures in my super fancy, extra-large hospital gown.  What can I say?  I’m a trend setter!  For anyone wondering why most of my smiles look so pained, all you need to know is that I had a scary cervix.  A very, very scary cervix.

 

 

Then there was the morning of the twins’ birth.  The first picture is of my mom and me and the second is of my mother-in-law and me.

Grandma Mary Kay and me

Grandma Sandy and me

Then, after wondering if Frank was going to make it to the birth – he arrived!!  Hurrah! (note to self: pictures of me lying down are not the most flattering…)

Baby Daddy and me

After sitting around for about 90 minutes, the doctor determined that it was go-time!

Ready to have some bebez!

After pushing for about 20-30 minutes, sweet baby Elliana was born:

Baby Ellie

And then just three or four short minutes later, sweet little Carrigan made her way into the world:

Dad and Carrigan

In just under an hour, our little family of two became a family of four!  Mom holding Elliana and Dad holding Carrigan:

Our first family photo!

 

refocused

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  ~Micah 6:8

I was having a rough day emotionally.  Really, a rough week.  I’ve been over-tired and that makes the days long.  Being tired distorts the lens through which I look at life.  Little things seem big and big things seem gigantic.

Tonight I was letting myself just get worked up.  I can’t even say what I was worked up about because it’s sooo inconsequential to anything.  And I decided to go on BibleGateway.net to see what the verse of the day was and it was the verse I posted above.

It was like drinking cool water on a hot summer day.

Sometimes I over-think things (this is not shocking news to people who know me) and I find myself worrying about things that I should not worry about.  Telling me “don’t worry” is seldom effective in turning my attention from my generally inane worries.

Saying “don’t worry” makes me try to find ways to justify my concerns.

But God, in His infinite wisdom, put the verse from Micah in front of me tonight just when I needed it.  The verse does not say, “The Lord requires you to be awesome all the time, to never make mistakes, and to win popularity contests.”  What the verse does say provides a lot of freedom.  God has shown me what is good:

Act Justly.

Love Mercy.

To Walk Humbly with our God.

In the simplicity of the words, there is so much beauty.  God does not explicitly list of rules and regulations, but He gives us wisdom.  Am I seeking justice?  Am I being merciful?  Is (whatever behavior) allowing me to walk with Jesus?  And the thing is, more often than not, if I am being honest with myself, I know when my actions are good – and when they fall short.

If you read the rest of Micah 6, he spends a lot of time reminding the readers of all the things God has already done for them.  How easily I forget all that God has done!  Writing down 100 joys over the holidays was a great reminder of the abundance of blessings God has put in our lives – big and little.

And so I think about what was troubling me before, and I know that it was just a distraction.

 

100 joys (88-90)

Another day, another chance to rack up a few more joys before the end of the year!

joy #88

Frank’s enchiladas!  Oh, sweet heavens to Betsy – they are SO good!!  And tonight were Frank’s best enchilada’s yet!  Now, I must confess, the above is not a picture of his actual enchiladas.  I lack the skill and self discipline to 1) take an appetizing food picture and 2) stop myself from diving in so that I can find the camera and snap a picture.  Just trust me, his enchiladas are outstanding and I could eat them all day long.  And since there are leftovers, I just might…

 

joy #89

Godiva.  Heaven on earth.  Especially when you belong to their club where you get a free truffle once a month.  Holy cow.  We had a dinner guest this evening who brought a box of chocolates from Godiva.  Frank and I tore through that box like we’d never seen chocolate before – it was SO good!  It’s like having an adult Disney World in your mouth – so much fun, you can hardly stand it!

 

joy #90

Listening to NPR brings me joy.  Seriously, it does.  I don’t know what it is about NPR’s microphones, but all of the reporters sound the same.  A subtle lisp on the “s” sound and a slow, steady, deliberate way of speaking that says, “What I am saying is LIFE changing.  Listen carefully.  Once you hear about Joe the donkey in Brazil that carries cocoa beans, you will NEVER be the same.”  Listening to NPR makes me feel the same way I do when I pick up a leather bound book in a mahogany librarythe distinct feeling that I am being enriched and improved.  But just to be sure, I try to balance my NPR time with a little bit of conservative talk radio.  You can never be too careful!  I remember in one day, I heard a report on conservative radio about a study that was done regarding teenagers and how biased and horrible the study was, and then I flipped to NPR and heard a vastly different type of report on the same study.  I don’t know who is wrong or who is right – I didn’t care enough to research it – but let’s just say, I listen to both channels with the same level of cynicism.  Gotta be fair and balanced and all that jazz.

 

100 joys (81-88)

Oh yeah, just two more days left in 2010 and I have 20 joys left to document…. Where do I begin?  Oh, yes, the only logical place to begin: Birthing Class.

joys #81

You might be saying to yourself, “Did Emily just post a baby doll with an umbilical cord and placenta (aka Joy #81)?”  And I would have to say, “Yes, yes I did.”  So on Monday, my dear friend Allison was all like, ” Emily, let’s have dinner this week and do something fun and girly!” (Allison is just fun and girly like that.)  I looked at my calendar and I said, “Sure, Allison – let’s get dinner on Tuesday… oh, and you can come with me to my birthing class.” I mean, what could be more girly than babies?  So Allison, always up to the challenge, said, “Sure!”  I think she might have agreed out of morbid curiousity.  And oh, how my class did not disappoint.

I knew going into the night that we would get to watch the 1979 classic, “We’re having a baby on film!” starring Daddy Mullet and Mama “Farrah Fawcett” Hair (aka Joy #82).  However, what not even I was  prepared for, was the instructor’s VIVID recreation of the birthing process in a monologue called, “Me pretending to have a baby in front of the class complete with grunting, breathing and commentary (aka Joy #83).”  Just for those of you trying to imagine this scene, picture a 65 year old woman wearing bright pink lipstick, a dark pink top and black slacks, sitting on a chair in front of the room with the above pictured doll + placenta on her lap as she tries to “push” them out.  Her re-enactment was so vivid that at one point I wanted to encourage her, “Keep going!  I can see the baby’s head between your knees!  You’re almost there!”

I could barely look at Allison’s face (which was a combination between mildly horrified and moderately amused) for fear that I might laugh out loud.

Which leads me to Joy #84 that unfortunately came at someone else’s expense.  See, since I’m having twins, I get to take the class early (hey, I’m a ticking time bomb!  Who knows when these kids are going to explode out of my body!) So while I’m only 25 weeks, some of these women are just days away from delivering.  Sally (not her real name) across the room from us was 34 weeks along and, it appears, just realizing that this baby she’s been carrying around is going to come out and it’s not going to be an altogether attractive experience.  While watching the movie, I’d look across the room and watch Sally’s as shock, disbelief, disgust and horror flashed across her face in a series of expressions that were priceless!  Ask me how I feel about all of this in 10 weeks, though…

 

Joy #85

I found a new favorite blog (I have a lot of favorite blogs… how can you pick just one???).  This woman is HILARIOUS!  I love reading her posts about her twin pregnancy (she’s delivering tomorrow at 32 weeks – if you can, please keep her in your thoughts and prayers) and I love how she words things.  I want to be her friend.  We could go shopping and she could say funny things and I would laugh.  It would be amazing.  But I think that it would be weird to be like, “Hi, I like your blog, be my friend.”  So instead, I’ll just lurk.  And you should lurk, too.  You will laugh until you cry, I promise!

 

Joy #86

Now that it is officially winter in Chicago, I have found joy in the fact that it will be another year before it will be winter again!  And, the days are getting longer, too.  Anyone else ever wonder why the shortest day is not also the coldest day?  And, vice versa, the longest day is not the hottest day?  Think about it – December 21st is usually frosty, but it’s not until mid-to-late January that it is painfully cold…  And likewise, you can still have some pretty cold days in June, but during July and August in Chicago you can cook an egg on the sidewalk (I wouldn’t eat them, though – I draw the line there).  It’s called thermal inertia!  The earth is still cooling down in December, but after a few months of shorter days, we get to our coolest.  It takes a while before the days get long enough to affect the temperature.  I think it’s pretty cool!

 

Joy #87


Ah, the cell phone.  My marriage would not be the amazing marriage that it is today if it weren’t for God and cell phones.  See, God teaches us both about grace, forgiveness and love while cell phones help us communicate those principles to each other.  With Frank gone as frequently as he sometimes is, sometimes our only contact with each other is via our phones.  Thank goodness for roll over minutes and unlimited nights/weekends!

 

Joy #88

So I believe I may have mentioned before our love-affair with Oberweis milk.  We love it.  YUM!  But tonight my joy is less about Oberweis and more about not having to cry over spilled milk.  Specifically, after purchasing my milk today, I picked it up from the counter and the bottles clanged together and then one BROKE.  Shattered.  Milk started spraying out of the bottom of the bag, all over the floor.  I stared at the bag in stunned silence.  Woopsie!  The check-out lady couldn’t have been nicer and went and got me a new bottle and sent me on my way.  Such a joy!

100 joys (#71-80)

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

joy #71:

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

joy #72:

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

 

joy #73:

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

 

joy #74:

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

 

joy #75:

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

 

joy #76:

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

 

joy #77:

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

 

joy #78:

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

 

joy #79:

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

 

joy #80:

I love reading people’s Facebook statuses.

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

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

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

 

100 joys (#62-70)

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

joy #62:

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

joy #63:

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

joys #64-70:

Oh, how my family does bring me joy!

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

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

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

100 joys (58-61)

So much joy, so little time!

Today I will go in chronological order:

joy #58:

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

 

joy #59:

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

 

joys #60 & 61:

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