It is Wednesday night in the suburbs of Chicago.  Specifically, it is 7:45 p.m. on a Wednesday night – the time when the somewhat late Chicago commuters are briskly walking to their cars in a twilight parking lot.  Late, but not too late to kiss the kids good night.

But I am not a part of that fray.  Maybe in a different life.

But not this one.

In this one, I am lying on the floor of my twin daughters’ room.  Sprawled, almost like a bad crime scene.  I am dressed like a mullet – half loungewear on the bottom and half work attire on the top.

It is dark.  It is dark because the heels of my hands are pressed on my eyes, rubbing methodically.  I hear two sets of feet running down the hall.  One set stops at the door and one set stops next to my head.  I slowly remove my hands. I see a bottom.

A clothed bottom.

Which, as a parent of toddler twins, a clothed bottom is about all you can ask for when presented with a derriere in your face.

This particular derriere belongs to Ellie.  She is in position to do a summersault.  She turns her head to look over her shoulder to make sure I’m paying attention.

I flip her and land her on my legs.  She hops off.

“Again!” she pronounces.

Carrie has returned from her adventures in the hallway.  She is holding Super Pickle: a plush pickle that used to belong to Frank when he was young, but who has now come into favor with Carrie as her new stuffed best friend.

“Pickle, Mama! Super Pickle!”  She makes Super Pickle fly.

Ellie is at the door now, about to embark on an adventure.  She turns to me before she departs and I hear her say, “I want some socks Mama!”

I furrow my brow.

“Socks are in your closet, Ellie.”

She furrows her brow.

“I want some SOCKS Mama.”

I lay my head down on the floor again and replay the words over and over in my head.



Carrie understands, though.  She goes to the door to leave as well.

“I want some socks, too, Mama!” says Carrie.


“SOCKS! I want some socks.”

“Socks?” I ask again.

Carrie repeats herself at least a half dozen times.  She is so emphatic about the words, she is drooling, but somehow looking at me like I am crazy the crazy one.

And then I realize what she wants.


Never, ever have my children pleaded fervently for footwear.

I should’ve known.

We are down the stairs and snacking within seconds and my children are relieved.  They were probably wondering if they had a remedial mama and subsequently wondering what they will tell the other kids on the playground.  I can imagine the scene at the top of the slide:  The girls huddled with two of their best slide-riding buddies, whispering, “We asked for snacks and she kept saying socks. Do you think the Park District has a program for her?”

I want to explain to them that I can’t read lips and even a southern accent is difficult for me to understand. Nothing else major is wrong with me, I want to explain to them.  Well, nothing too major.

But, there are some surprises better left for when they are older.

So they have some puréed fruit and I sweep the floor and we all three consider entirely different lines of thought.

Ellie counts to ten.  Then says her ABC’s. And then congratulates herself on her tremendous accomplishments.  I tell her how smart she is, but it is just icing on the cake.  Girlfriend is independent.

Carrie investigates the shapes she can make squeezing the fruit on the table until I stop her.  She may be boisterous and tough seeming on the outside, she has a big, sensitive heart.  After I take away her fruit and firmly (but nicely) admonish her for dumping it out, I hug her and squeeze her.

Back up the stairs we go.  Snuggles. A round of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” More snuggles.

It’s hard to believe they were ever tiny.  It’s hard to believe that Carrie’s weight actually dipped a little below 5 lbs in the NICU before she came home.

I remember living through the moments with them, listening to them breathe while they slept on my chest, and I thought, “I will never forget how tiny they were.”

And while I know they were tiny, I can’t remember it.  I can’t imagine it.

If you’ve seen the twins lately, they are little girls.  They rode their first carnival rides.  Ate their first carnival food, even.  #ParentsOfTheYear #OnlyOrganicCarnivalFood #BAHAHAHA

My parents and their parents and their parents all warned me.  “You will age.  It goes so fast.”

And I remember just not comprehending it when I was younger. I knew I’d age, but for some reason I thought time would always be ahead of me. But now, there are 32 1/2 years of time behind me.

My peers are noticing this reality, too. Many have especially commented on the kids’ music today. And the clothes. And the catch-phrases. Sometimes they don’t hear themselves saying the words.  Sometimes they do.  And then they repeat themselves – just to hear it again. The words are eerily familiar and yet, the words are not their own.  The words are those of our grandparents and great grandparents saying, “I told you…”

I tend to believe that the ones who have gone before us would also tell us a whole lot of other things about life. How precious it is.  How fragile it is. How you can’t ever really know the first two things until you’ve lived it for a while.

I look at the little girls tucked into their beds. I know how it happened that they are not little babies any more – how they grew up.  I know that it happened over a series of Wednesday nights, much like this one.

Wednesday nights here are like driving through downstate Illinois. Fields and fields of corn, as far as the eye can see. Fields that seem to stretch on, all the way to forever, until you pull off the highway at your destination and you realize you’ve traveled 300 miles without ever noticing it.

We are a long way from where we were.  I’m glad we have a long way yet to go.

100 joys (91-100)

In a change from how I’ve been documenting my daily joys, I’m switching gears and am going to cover the top 10 joys of 2010 (in no particular order) to round out the list, and the year.

joy #91

Last January, Frank and I were ecstatic to learn that we were expecting a baby in September 2010.  We were filled with wonder, hope and joy at the thought of finally being blessed with a baby.  While Lily’s life ended at 9 1/2 weeks, I still look back at the time we were pregnant with her as such a treasure and a joy.

joy #92

This summer we hosted a party and loved gathering our friends around for cocktails and desserts.  We really enjoy entertaining and it was a highlight of the summer for us!


joy #93

This was Frank’s crashpad in Atlanta.  Why is that in the past-tense?  Because, blissfully, Frank is no longer based in Atlanta.  He no longer has to commute Chicago to Atlanta!  His commute is an easy 90 minute drive to a nearby airport.  Oh, what a joy to see my husband more than six full days a month!!


joy #94

Our Church family.  We continue to look for ways to be more plugged into our Church and we are excited about the future at our church.  As always, a particular joy for us was attending our church’s Christmas service this year.  We were so blessed that our friends Rose and Al came along for the ride!


joy #95

Our Friend family.  Many of our friends have made up my 100 joy list, but there are so many that I didn’t include that are also joys and delights!


joy #96

Our family-family.  Everyone, at the time of this writing, is healthy and happy and safe.  It has been more than three years since my dad had his stroke and he is approved for driving, bike riding and general getting-into-troubleness.  All of our parents are up to their usual antics and getting excited to welcome the twins into the family.  My sibs are up to their usual antics, as are Frank’s sibs.  It was such a joy to spend time with our families this year and we are looking forward to more time together next year.  Not only is it a great joy, but a huge blessing.


joys #97 & 98

When we had a positive pregnancy test for the second time this year, we were ecstatic and when we found out we were having twins, we were over the moon!  This pregnancy, and everything about it (nausea, food aversions, heart burn, back pain – you name it!) has been a joy.  We are hopeful that our babies will stay put until late March 2011 and we plan to enjoy the next 88 days as we prepare to welcome them into the world.


joy #99

Aw, c’mon, y’all knew that Frank would be one of my top 10 joys, right?  Stop gagging for a minute and bear with me.  For as much as we’ve been through together – infertility treatments, family health issues, job changes, etc, being with Frank has made all of it a joy.  He is my absolute best friend and most favorite person.  While I treasure all of the stuff he does for me, I am most blessed by just spending time with him.  He is just a fantastic person.


joy #100


This year there were many times when I wondered, “WHY do I have to go through this?  WHAT am I supposed to learn?”

There was a song we sang at church where the refrain was “God is good all the time.”  It’s so easy to believe that God is good when things are easy.  It’s so easy to believe that God is loving when things are going your way.  But a lot of times, life doesn’t go my way.  This year, we experienced a lot of heartache, too.  There were times when my heart was just broken.  I would look at the mess I was in emotionally and wonder, “How am I going to piece this disaster back together??”  And sometimes it seemed like there was no winning.  But God has consistently shown Frank and I over the course of our lives that He is always good, sometimes especially when we don’t get what we want.  Frank and I can both cite example after example of God blessing us by closing doors that we desperately wished were open.

God’s love and patience with us as we struggled at times this year was almost palpable this year.  Without these struggles, we wouldn’t have stopped to pay attention to what God was doing.  We would have happily continued onward – and I am not sure that would’ve been the best course of action for us.

So my hope for the new year, and for you all, is that when we encounter new struggles and when hope seems lost, that we would remember that we have a loving Father in Heaven that only gives us good gifts.  And like all parents, sometimes the things that are good for children (vegetables, for one…) are not always what we want.

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 (13-17)

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

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

Joy #13

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

Joy #14

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

Joy #15

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

Joy #16

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

Joy #17

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

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.


I read a book called Lamb over the weekend.  The author, Christopher Moore, put together a hilarious take on Christ’s life as told by Christ’s best friend, Biff.  It was gritty and colorful (both in its telling and in its language – read: lots of swearing and sexual situations).

I loved that the story was gritty because I believe that life is gritty and raw.  I believe that more often than not, life is messy.  Life is change and evolution and growth and development and loss and loosely controlled chaos.

We are all on the verge of being tagged out of this great game of life – and yet we mostly live our lives with a somewhat misguided belief that we are immortal.  That’s why we’re shocked when something bad happens.

Sure, there are some of us who are better at faking the control.  There are some who might say, “aw, Em, cute – but I have this all wrapped up!”

But I believe for the rest of us, despite our best efforts, we often find ourselves putting out more fires during the day than checking things off of our “to do” lists – and that’s ok.  My dad liked to quote a Beetle (or someone) who said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

So I loved the grittiness of Lamb.

And I loved that Jesus had a sense of humor in the story.  Yes, the book still portrayed him as innocent, but I loved that his best friend taught him sarcasm (which he used very moderately in the book).  The Bible is great at telling us a lot about Jesus – what he did, his virtues and character – but I kind of wonder about his sense of humor.  Was he playful?  Did he ever play pranks on the disciples?  I wonder if he ever short sheeted Peter’s bedroll or teepeed John’s tent.  Did Jesus spend time on the banks of the Jordan, hanging out with his friends and pondering some of the great mysteries, like: if Elijah and Moses were in a cage match – who would win?

Why does it matter if Jesus had a sense of humor?  I dunno.  I guess I just like the idea of knowing the person of Jesus – I like to imagine what it would be like if Jesus walked in the door and said hello.  Would he have a booming voice or a quiet disposition?  Would he shake my hand or give me a big hug?

I loved that Lamb painted a picture of Jesus that was so much richer than what I am able to glean from the Bible because so much of the Bible gets lost in cultural translation.  Perhaps there ARE elements of Jesus’ sense of humor embedded in the stories about Him – but humor in each culture is so subtle, it’s hard to pick up just by reading without studying the culture further.  And we all know that when you have to explain the joke, it really becomes less funny anway.  I am sure “That’s what she said” would be completely lost on ancient Jews.  And I can only imagine how future generations will interpret our jokes.

But I also felt convicted while reading Lamb.

Not because I was reading a story that was an irreverent and somewhat scandalous telling of Jesus’ life, but because as I read this story,  I was struck by Biff’s unbelief.  I don’t want to ruin the story in the case that you decide to read it, but generally speaking, I was surprised that this character Biff could literally WALK with Jesus for practically of his life and so miss the point on so many occasions.  It reminded me that I often miss the point.  It reminded me that I so frequently forget who Jesus is and get distracted by my own selfish desires.

I don’t know if the author intended for this result – I think the author wrote this book to provide a humorous explanation for what happened to Jesus between the ages of 6 and 32.  And perhaps the author knew enough Christians to know how many of us often spend all of this time learning about Jesus and God and MISSING THE POINT; there are so many of us who KNOW much, but BELIEVE little.

The disciples didn’t always understand what Jesus meant, but they believed in Him.  They were willing to stake it all on Him.  They believed He was who He said He was.

So yeah – I liked Lamb. It’s not for everyone, but it’s great satire.


We interrupt our regularly scheduled emotional roller coaster for a brief recap of our adventures in Vegas.

Day 1:

My mom arrived at 6:15 a.m. to take me to the airport.  She’s a peach.  She watched me give myself my trigger shot and then helped me wipe off the dripping blood and gently confirmed that I gave myself the shot in the vein and “man, it’s already bruising!”  Awesome. Uneventful (blood-free) time at the airport.  Had a snack.  Got on the plane.  Mechanical issue.  Lovely. Had some soda (delish).  Arrived in Vegas.

First of all, Vegas wants your money.  If you didn’t know that about Vegas, they make it apparent the minute you step off of the plane.  “Emmmmily – oh, Emmmmmily!  Come play our slots!  Your bags are going to take a while – have  a seat, get out some quarters and let the good times roll!”

My will power was too much for them.  I walked past the slot machines with hardly a backward glance.  Hardly.

I picked up my bags at the carousel, called Frank and got on a shuttle to the Bellagio.  Arrived at the Bellagio, found husband, changed, went on a mission for food.  Emily was VERY hungry.  Mmmm.


Then we proceeded to walk most of the strip, all the way up to the Venetian.  This is one place where one block of walking equals 12 blocks.

We saw 10,234 slot machines on our little adventure.

The below picture is us being awesome at the Venetian.


The nice thing about the Venetian: indoors and air conditioned.  Dry heat is still heat, my friends.  Don’t give me crap about dry heat when it is 105 degrees outside.  Heat is heat.

I was glowing (or perspiring like a mo-fo).

After our sweaty trek, we went back to the hotel and got ready for dinner.  Because we are connoisseurs of the buffet, we were naturally looking forward to tables and tables of meat and cheese and other delightful confections.  First stop: the Wynn Buffet.


This picture is me trying not to be too obvious about how hungry I am.  This is at the atrium of the Wynn hotel.  It was my favorite hotel in Vegas, hands down.

And this picture, well, this is me preparing to eat my husband for dinner.  And I don’t mean it like that.  Well, maybe I do.  You tell me: is this a “come hither” look or is it a “I want my dinner” look?

Finally, after 45 minutes of hoping and dreaming and praying that we would one day be at the front of the line – we were!  Eureka!

Our delight over our first meal resulted in two of the only food photos of the trip, but I am not going to post those here.  I don’t want anyone to be jealous (and also, Frank didn’t upload them to our Flickr account – dirty!!)

Then we walked back from the Wynn and decided to try to take in a very scandelous free show outside of Treasure Island.  Lots of gyrating female and male dancers in skimpy clothing.  Good thing people brought their kids.  “Hey kids, look what you can be when you grow up!”  Awesome.

Anyway – here is me outside of the Wynn.  Love. It.


And ladies, don’t get jealous – he is all mine:

Then we stopped at the Bellagio to take in the famous fountain display. For a desert, that sure was a lot of water.


And then… bed time.  Cuz we party like rockstars, yo.

Day 2:

Got up, tried to go for a run.  While Vegas is a town that accepts only beautiful people (naturally attained or otherwise), they sure don’t want to do a lot to help you get beautiful.  Because when you are running on a treadmill, you can’t play the slots.  And if you are not drinking or gambling, they are not making money.

What I am trying to say is that the fine folks at the Bellagio wanted us to pay $50 for both of us to use their fine workout facilities.

No. Thanks.

Instead, I opted to sit at the pool and consider life. And read a saucy romance novel.


And here we are together, hanging out by the pool. Frank is trying not to angry about the lack of frosty beverages in his hand.

Once we were finished with being awesome poolside, we decided to enjoy yet another buffet. Mmmm.

And then we walked the strip.  In the Dry Heat.  Not so dry when you’re sweating through your socks, though.

Which leads us to Caesar’s Palace.  “Caesar, let’s go that way!” “No, Frank and Emily, let’s go THAT way!” Well, the Roman empire is no more, so I guess we all know how it turned out. Should have listened to us, Mr. Caesar.


Frank asked the Egyptian Santa for a flat screen TV for Christmas. We will see if Egyptian Santa delivers.   (I’m not betting on it – he looked a little shady)


And then, in the middle of the desert, we have the NYC skyline:

Later that night, after I showered (again), we went out to the Palms.  The Palms was very cool.  We went up to the Playboy Club (which was more tame (visually speaking) than any of the casino bars, by far) and had a cocktail.  Then we headed over to the other tower of the Palms and went up to the Ghostbar, which was Frank’s favorite bar of all.  He was giddy with excitement.  Giddy.  I’m not kidding.  Have you ever seen Frank giddy?  Well, I have.  This is what it looks like:


I know. I wish he’d just calm down.
And here are more pics of Vegas from that night:


Day 3
The Grandest Canyon of them all. And probably the best day of our trip. I loved, loved, loved it. Except for the part where I almost puked. And the part where we got stuck in the rain. But whatever – a small price to pay, in my opinion.  I’d do it all over again (but with an umbrella).

Our airplane:

The Hoover Dam (ha ha):

A view from the ground:

“Emily, look off into the distance at the other side of the Grand Canyon, really feel it. Work it. Noice.”

We were RIGHT. THERE. We were here, and the Grand Canyon was right THERE. Whoa.

Oh, and then it rained.

But the storms made for some cool views on the way back.



Tired, mostly dry (but a little wet), we made our way back to our hotel.

Because seeing one of the most magnificient wonders of God’s creation wasn’t enough for one day, we also went to see Cirque du Soleil’s “O”. “O” is the phonetic speaking of the french word “Eau” which means “water.” (Not sure why I used all the quotes, but really – if you stayed with me this long, you probably don’t care. You probably just want me to end this torturous play-by-play of our vacation and put you out of your misery. Quotes are the least of your problems if you made it this far.) Anyway, the point being, the stage was water. Or, more accurately, it was a pool with an adjustable floor that went up and down depending on the scene.

“O” reminded me of two things: 1) I am not flexible. The most daring feat I accomplish is touching my toes. Touching my toes while balancing on the forehead of a woman who is balancing all of her weight on her big toe, which is securely placed on a trapeze – well, that’s why they made the Darwin Awards. 2) I am a spoiled brat. After the first two amazing sequences where people were swinging through the air, attached to another human being by only the friction created by their leg hair and their abnormally strong big toes, I started to be less impressed with, say, diving off of a several story platform, into a pool of water. I can barely bring myself to jump into a pool from the side, much less a diving board SEVERAL stories in the air.

My own personal guilt aside, it was a beautiful show. I really enjoyed it.

Day 4:

Went home.


And I’m spent.  Thanks for reading about our Vegas adventure!

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Day Two – God is Gracious

I am definitely feeling better today than yesterday. Praise God!

I realized after talking to a few people that I am doing better when I am not talking to people about it. I know that sounds weird, but I feel at peace when I am not explaining how this all unfolded. When I try to explain the process of how I’ve gotten through it, it seems like well-meaning people seem to jump quickly to telling me why I am wrong or should think of it differently. And what I am trying to tell them is how I got from point A to point B. And yes, I know, I make mistakes along the way and I know that I could have a better attitude and I know that God’s will will be done. I know that whatever happens, I need to find a way to be at peace with it. And that is what I am working through.

I think the challenge is that I think externally and I think I need to learn how to manage this situation more internally before speaking. Sometimes I need to blog/write it down, sometimes I need to talk it out. And I am a planner. I like to have a lot of different possibilities and options on the table. I want to be prepared to deal with the worst and the best and everything in between. Some people organize their cupboards, others go running – but I fold laundry, hash things out with God and figure out all of the different rearrangements of my life.

When I get dealt this kind of situation, I crave information on it. I read blogs, I check WebMD, I soak up other people’s stories. I’d like to think that centuries ago, women did that same thing. Except they had a lot less science.

I have been loving my Chris Tomlin CD that I got at Women’s Retreat Fall of 2007 (where Margot Fiesler said, “You are either in a crisis, coming out of a crisis or going into a crisis.”) The lyrics that are sticking with me tonight are, “Oh Great God, be glorified, Our lives laid down, Yours magnified, Oh Great God be lifted high.” I hope that through all of this, God will be glorified.

Being Jacob

So I knew that today was likely to be difficult, but part of me thought that we would just sort of “hammer out” treatment options and everything would be all set. That is simply not how it went.

Let’s start at the beginning. Wednesday I received a phone call from my doctor’s office. When you have pending test results, a phone call is not a good sign. Really, you want your doctor to send you a card in the mail or post the results online – you do NOT want a nurse to leave you a message to call back. And the message was vague, also not what you want. When I called back, the nurse let me know that my testosterone levels were slightly elevated and that the doctor wanted me to come in to discuss treatment options.

What does slightly elevated testosterone even mean??

So I asked the nurse and she let me know that it meant that I likely had Poly-Cystic Ovary Syndrome. My response at first was, “Oh, ok.” After hanging up, I thought, “Wait a second, I don’t even know what that means!” Using trusty and Google, Frank and I quickly understood that PCOS is what it sounds like – I am growing cysts on my ovaries and this is causing a disruption in my hormone levels and might lead to infertility.

This morning I went in to meet with Dr. K (my ob gyn, not my father-in-law) to discuss the ramifications of PCOS. Frank was kind enough to text me a few last minute questions for the doctor since he couldn’t be there.

Dr. K’s office is very spa-ish. Most doctors’ offices are very clinical, but the practice that I go to is very cozy, in my opinion. Dr. K is a tallish woman – about 5’9″ or so and very thin. She’s probably in her late 30’s and is very professional and collected. I think I like that she is collected because if nothing else, you want a doctor who has her wits about her. She reminds me of my last doctor in Wisconsin (who I LOVED – Dr. L).

Anyway – at first the nurse had me sit up on the exam table and prepared to take notes, but when I let her know I was here for a follow up, she nodded, folded up her lap top and went to get Dr. K. I felt silly sitting up on the exam table, so I opted for the 3/4 size chair. That’s the thing – because I am tall, some of these waiting room chairs seem like they are almost big enough… but not quite. Anyway, I sat there, playing brick-breaker, waiting for Dr. K.

When she came into the room, she was reading through my information. “Ok, well, it looks like you were having irregular periods and your testosterone levels came back slightly elevated. Ok.” She sat down in her doctor chair with her laptop.

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“Well, some people just have higher levels of testosterone. And some people who are very heavy can have hormone levels that are not in line. And sometimes people might have PCOS.” That last option she said a little slowly. She said a little bit more about PCOS – all stuff I learned on WebMD.

“So are you saying that you think that I have PCOS?” I finally asked.

“Yes, it would appear that you have a few of the symptoms. Now if you weren’t trying to get pregnant, we would put you on birth control to try to help control the hormone levels. But since you are, we’ll want to get you enrolled in our fertility program and considering clomid and meta (something – can’t remember the drug – but it treats type 2 diabetes).”

“Ok, so is this what you are recommending as treatment? I should enroll in the fertility program?”

“Yes – they will check your insurance and confirm what is covered. Now the fertility program does require that you are able to get ultra sounds, blood draws, and your husband will have to do a semen analysis [joy]. With your husband’s schedule, you’ll need to determine how committed you are to getting pregnant.”

“What do you mean?”

Dr. K: “Well, you will be on clomid and you’ll need to be able to be together on your ovulation days. It doesn’t make sense to put you on the drug and then risk him not being around. You could maybe stagger the months if you know he’ll be around and not take it on the months that he won’t be around. You will just need to see how committed you are to this.”

Me: “Since his schedule isn’t very reliable or consistent, are there other options? I don’t want this to drag on and get expensive and find out at the end of it that we’ll just ahve to do IVF.”

Dr. K: “Well, we can certainly look at insemination [ugh] and try to time it out. We don’t let this go longer than 6 cycles before we refer you to a fertility specialist if it’s not going well.”

There was more to our conversation than that, but that gives the gist of it. I am going to work to control my diet and eat better to help manage the hormone levels, but it sounds like we will need to get the help of professionals in order to have a family.

Writing it down like that sounds so matter-of-fact: We will need to get the help of professionals in order to have a family. Considering how rational that statement sounds, what happened after the doctor’s appointment was anything but.

I made it to my car and sat down, fighting tears. I called Frank to tell him what the doctor said and found it difficult to say the words. Even though I had prepared myself for the conversation with the doctor – even though I knew we’d probably have to start some rounds of clomid and get more blood work and tests, the reality of the situation hadn’t fully sunk in.

The thing about Frank and I is that we have been having the SAME fight for about 7 years. I think he is insensitive and he thinks I am too sensitive. We communicate alright normally, but when it comes to situations like this that are so incredbily emotional for me, I struggle to put my words and thoughts into rational sentences. I also need Frank to talk to me with empathy and emotion. And really, I needed him to be at that doctor’s appointment today and he wasn’t able to be there.

So I started to tell Frank about our appointment with the doctor and started to tell him about the treatment. He asked a question he believed to be totally rational and positive, “Do I need to be there on the exact days you ovulate for clomid treatments?” And like a rocket, I went off.

See, to Frank, he was saying, “This isn’t bad news, even if I can’t be there exactly on the right days, we have a chance.” What I heard was, “I hope you don’t expect me to make this my #1 priority and drop everything to be there for this.”

Even though we were discussing logistics, I was still processing this tremendous amount of sadness in my heart about this whole situation. I wanted Frank to say, “Babe, we are going to get this taken care of. Don’t you worry about it. Whatever we need to do, we will make it work.” And in his way, that’s what he was trying to show me through finding all of the opportunities for this to work.

After having a conversation that was basically Frank telling me not to be dramatic about the situation and me telling him to have a heart, we left it off on bad terms. I went to get my hair cut and colored, hoping that beautifying myself on the outside would somehow help lighten things on the inside – but no dice.

I left the salon between scattered thunderstorms and drove home. My cell phone decided not to work the entire way home. I was so annoyed. Ah, the injustice of having to listen to the radio instead of talkin
g on my cell.

When I made it home, Frank called to clear the air. He was right on some things and I was right on others, but in the end, we were still in this place of “what next?”

I recognize that this is not the end of the world. I definitely do. We could get pregnant quickly on clomid. Or maybe we won’t. But there is still a good chance of something working out.

So after I hung up with Frank, I went downstairs to fold laundry and cry. I was crying so hard, that it was difficult to breathe and for a moment, I thought I might throw up (but thankfully, I didn’t).

With the news today, I just have an overwhelming feeling, as though I am standing at the base of a mountain, looking up. The fact that others before me have climbed this mountain is not as comforting as you would think. Yes, the fact that others can do it is fantastic! But there are so many people who get stranded on a summit or at an impasse. There are so many people who start climbing this mountain thinking it’s a day trip and it slowly turns into days, weeks, months and years before they realize that they can’t go back down, either. The costs of infertility are staggering and so many people rack of thousands of dollars in bills before they even get to the cost of IVF.

I don’t want to get caught in the avalanche of fertility. I don’t want to get pulled under and surface, only to find that I am in my late thirties and no closer to having a family than I was 10 years ago.

My mom is always telling me not to be stressed out, or we won’t get pregnant. When she says that, I get even more stressed out. But what if this is because of stress? Or what if it is because I’ve put on some weight? How ridiculous is it that I put cookies and treats ahead of having children?? Or what if we waited too long? I’m still young, but maybe we would have had a better chance a few years ago instead of right now.

Because I am well-read and educated, the thing that came to mind when thinking about this was in one of the Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis, the Lion (symbolizing God) says, “I don’t tell people what should have been, but rather what it was.” (totally paraphrasing) And that was comforting to me because there is nothing I can do about anything except what I have in front of me now.

So while I was in the basement, folding laundry and crying, I was arguing with God. Well, at first I was actually arguing with Frank at first. But then I realized that I wasn’t actually arguing with Frank. I was wrestling with God.

Why, God, does this have to happen on YOUR timeline? Why can’t this happen on my time line? Why is this so hard? Why are you making this difficult? Why?

And with that line of questioning, a whole bunch of images came back to me from this past week. God had been talking to me and preparing me for today, all week.

The biggest preparation was in His word. Our small group is reading Gensesis and we were on chapter 32 Thursday. That chapter is about Jacob wrestling with God. At the end of the “match,” God wrenches Jacob’s hip from his socket. See, God loved Jacob enough to wrestle with him.

Here I am, asking God why I can’t have a baby now. God is sovereign, the God of the universe and the Creator of all things. And I am crying in my basement, while I fold laundry, angry that my heavenly Father did not give me a baby today. What?? And God is so gracious that he heard me out before I even spoke. God is so faithful that He prepared me this week to know that it is OK to wrestle with Him. It is OK to be Jacob for a while. And at the end of wrestling, God is still God and I am still me.

After God dislocated Jacob’s hip, Jacob asked for God’s blessing and God changed Jacob’s name (which meant deceiver) to Israel (wrestles with God). And so my thought is that maybe after wrestling with God, I will be changed and I will be renewed. Jacob still screwed up after wrestling with God (we will get to that next week!), but God is still God.

So after I cried in the basement (and ate some ice cream), I came upstairs and grabbed my 2 liter of Diet Cherry 7-up and crawled into bed. I watched Ugly Betty. And then I wrote this post. And the song in my head right now is, “God of wonders, beyond our galaxy, you are holy, holy, the universe declares your majesty, you are holy, holy, Lord of Heaven and Earth. Early in the morning, I will celebrate the Light, and as I stumble in the darkness, I will call Your name by night.”

what is happy vs. joy?

I have been thinking on this a lot. I have been asking people what they think about it, too.

What is happiness?

I think happiness is an emotion. And I have learned that emotions are temporary. Ask anyone who has ever had a fight with someone they loved. The anger is real and fiery – and by the next morning, it almost always vanishes. Any remnants are just smoldering, and everything is much more manageable the next day. If such a powerful, all-consuming feeling like anger is temporary, then to me, it stands to reason that happiness is just as fleeting.

So, why pursue happiness if it is just an emotion?

I think what we are really pursuing is joy. But I think joy comes from inside. Sometimes I do not always have The Joy (thank you, JLN), but it’s something that I am working on. Joy is more useful, I think, than happiness because joy is finding happiness in any situation and seeing the good in it. Sometimes I may not be smiling during these difficult times, but in my heart, I can see the good and I can be thankful. Unfortunately for me, I struggle with joy during difficult times (as many people do, I am sure). I am a striver. I am always looking for the next thing to do, the next place to go. Figuring out the next thing is always on my mind. But perpetually looking around the corner is not helpful in my quest for joy. Striving means that I am not finding the joy in what God has provided and it means, for me, that I am looking for satisfaction outside of the Lord.

But, to be clear, I don’t think that happiness is bad or wrong or un-acheivable. I think happiness is very real, but is a by-product of joy. But if you look at other uses for the word “happy” – it can also be synonymous for words like luck and fortune. But luck and fortune are arbitrary events that are outside of my control. And happy also describes quick, thoughtless action – ie. “trigger-happy.” If someone is trigger happy, there is a connotation that they are thinking very little about the consequences of their actions – they are not considering the long-term effects.

When I have joy in my soul, I am happy. Maybe not always happy. You know, like how a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not always a square?

I looked up joy in the dictionary and it actually had a verb tense which said: to rejoice, to be glad. You know what’s interesting? Happy doesn’t have a verb tense definition in the dictionary. I can HAVE a happy mood, but I cannot DO happy. According to the dictionary, I can joy in the Lord. Sure, it’s an old way of using the word joy, but it’s interesting to me that it is both a noun and a verb.

So, all of this reminded me that the apostles Peter and Paul both say to rejoice in all things, even though we suffer now, we know that there is a salvation that awaits us. And both urge us to find joy in suffering, because we are refined in fire.

As I mentioned, it is sometimes difficult for me to be joyful in my life sometimes. I don’t think this is unique, but I think it is often exacerbated by the fact that I sometimes have such a short-term view on life. I forget that my joy is not in finding material happiness in the next 30 days, but rather, my joy is in the Lord and from the Lord. He is eternal and I need to think of life in eternal terms and not in short-term time frames. But I am tired and I have a feeling that this will now balloon into further thoughts on eternal vs. immediate mindsets… So, more on that later.