bedtime

At first, they were quiet.  It was 8:35 p.m.  Well past bedtime.

And then they were talking and singing.  I ignored it.

And then I heard the first footsteps thunk on the floor over my head.

Crap, I thought.

The footsteps were quickly joined by their matching pair.  The footsteps padded around the twins’ room.

Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle.

And then, almost without warning, the footsteps were running at a frenzy down the hall and to the stairs. Bum da bum da bum bum bum bum bum.

“MOOOOOMMMMM!!!” shouted both girls.

“What?” I asked firmly, trying to walk the fine line between yelling and pleading.

“There is a GHOST! We saw HIM!” said Carrie, appearing around the entry of the living room, her eyes wide, but her lips betrayed her as they were curled up in a smile.

“Seriously? There isn’t a ghost,” I told her.  A curly red head popped around the same corner.

“Yes, yes there IS!” Ellie testified.

“No, there isn’t. C’mon girls, go back to bed,” I directed them.

Sensing that I knew that they were making the whole thing up, the twins scurried up the stairs.  I heard their footsteps round the corner of the banister and chase each other down the long hall to their room.

Whispering, talking and then outright hollering ensued.  I sighed.

THUNK! 

I cocked my head to the side to listen to hear if there was a follow up scream of pain. Nope.

And then there was the dull staccato of little feet running on the carpet, flying around the banister and drumming down the stairs.

“MOOOOM!” Oh, the whining.  Frank and I have been trying to break them of it.  Every word is stretched out by at least one or more syllables, often with sentences beginning with the word, “Buhhhhhhh-t!” (“But” is the original, un-mangled word). We correct them nearly every time the whining surfaces, sometimes even demonstrating for them how absolutely annoying the whining is.

So far, we’ve only been met with blank stares and more whining.

Parenting appears to be a lot of repetition without a lot of immediate gratification.  I’m guessing in 30 years the twins won’t even remember to thank us for breaking them of this nasty habit – they will just be consumed with the whining in their own homes.

But I digress.

“What now?” I asked. Again, working hard to maintain a firmness in my voice without sounding desperate. If they could please, please, please sleep, I could get some of the long, long over-due thank you notes done.

“Ayeeeee. Neeeeed. Waaaahhhh-ter!” complained Carrie.

“Stop whining, please.  You can get a glass of water.”

“Mooooom.  Ayeeeee. Neeeeeed. Kleeeenexxxxxx!” called Ellie.

“Well, first, please stop whining.  Second.  Please, for the love, go get a Kleenex.”

As far as I could tell, the feet and voices obeyed.  The footsteps wandered back to the twins’ bedroom. Another loud THUNK.

I sighed.  I put down the pen I was using to write out thank you notes.

Up the stairs I went, flipping off the light in the twins’ bathroom at the top of the stairs.

Their bedroom is at the far end of a long hallway, giving them ample time to hop into bed and to pretend as though they never left it in the first place.

“Girls,”I said upon arriving. “Get. In. Bed.”

Carrie stared back at me, deciding whether she was going to heckle me by stating the obvious.

“We are, Mooom.”

Oh no, she didn’t! I thought.

“You weren’t three seconds ago. I can HEAR you walking around and singing and hollering,” I told them.  Ellie’s eyebrows inadvertently shot up.  This was news to her.

“Girls. I am very, very disappointed to find you both out of your beds, wandering around and playing…” so began my lecture.

I am sure I said many wise and important Mom-things from the doorway to the twins’ room.  In response both girls tried to explain that they were only playing with the doll house.

But as my gaze around the room took in both the chaotic mess of their room (So.Many.Stuffed.Animals!), my heart softened as I looked at their little faces.

“Please, girls, go to bed.  We can do so many fun things tomorrow, but you need your rest so that you can enjoy them.” I finished.  Not quite General Patton, but I was severely limited by my own lack of stamina and restrictions on appropriate word choices (the twins’ expert-level use of the phrase “sons of bitches” is not what I want to get called into pre-school for this year).

“But Mom, remember when we went to the park with Daddy and the lightening and the thunder and we had to hurry home and it rained?” said Carrie as quickly as she could.

I started to interrupt her.  I started to tell her that the story about the storm was irrelevant, but then I stopped myself.

Her big blue eyes were serious. Playing at the park and leaving because of a storm was one of the riskiest things she’d ever done in her life so far. It was not a secondary detail, but an important thing to remember while I was telling her about future plans to play at the park.

“Yes, and everything was OK.  It was scary, but you made it home and everything was OK.  Now let’s go to bed and get rested for the busy day tomorrow, OK?”

There was some more whining and some more negotiating, but in the end, there were two girls in two beds, attempting (as far as I could tell) to sleep.

I went downstairs, stopping at the kitchen for a snack.  As I walked back to the living room, I had a realization that I am sure that every parent has.  It isn’t a new or unique or extraordinary.

It is as common as the way that time marches onward.

I realized that there will be a day when the twins and Annie are gone.  They will be at college or in their first apartments or wherever, but what’s important is that they won’t be at home. Around bedtime on that day, I will probably wander into the kitchen for a snack or a glass of water.  I will turn off the lights in the kitchen as I leave and round the corner to the living room, passing the stairs as I go.  I will look up those stairs and I will realize that there isn’t a light on, dimly, in the hallway for little girls to find their way to the potty late at night.  I will wander up the stairs, around the banister and to the end of the hallway.

I will stand in the doorway of the twins’ room, remembering that years ago I told them to please, for the love of all that is good, go.to.bed.

And instead of big blue eyes peering up at me from a lovely mop of blond hair or piercing blue eyes looking back at me framed by a mane of wild red curls – there will be two perfectly made twin beds.  They will be well-worn and indented in the middle from where two little girls grew up tall and strong and smart and brave.

I will stand in that doorway, holding a cold glass of water with the condensation making my hand wet and I will stare at that room for a really long time, remembering.

And I know, without a doubt, I will wonder, maybe even aloud, “Where did all that time go? How can they be gone already?”

So tonight I sat down in the living room, put away the thank you notes, and wrote this down.  Not just for me, but for my girls so that they know how deeply and profoundly loved they are – and as Frank says to them whenever he puts them to bed, “you can’t do anything to change that.”

I love you Elliana, Carrigan and Annabel. Every minute, of every day.

annie: two months-ish

Hello Annie!

You are two months and three weeks old. The Baby Center email updates are a wonderful reminder of the time that is passing.  Even though you have been here for a short period of time, it seems like you’ve been here forever. I commented to your dad that it seemed that our family was sorely missing you – and we didn’t even realize it! He agreed – you have been such a gift!

You are a lovely, delicious baby.  You have soft reddish hair that stands up on top of your head because, quite frankly, your daddy brushes your hair that way.  Your sky-blue eyes dance whenever I make funny noises at you.  Your plump little cheeks fluff out whenever you are smiling and delighted.  You have a smooth, expressive voice that coos and grunts and sings to me throughout the day.

You are a fantastic sleeper.  Sweet heavens to Betsy, please always be an excellent sleeper! You sleep through the night, much to the surprise of the doctors.  Since you are tipping the scales at 14 lbs 12 oz and are 24 inches long, the doctors have reluctantly decided that your sleep habits are just fine – albeit somewhat out of the ordinary. “Well, NORMALLY, if a baby was sleeping through the night THIS early, we’d be concerned, BUT, since she’s clearly gaining weight and eating well… I guess it’s OK.”

Miss Annie at 2 months 3 weeksish... Sleepin' like a rock star!

Miss Annie at 2 months 3 weeksish… Sleepin’ like a rock star!

Like all babies at your age, you prefer to be held, but if I can’t hold you, your second choice is to have a view of all of the activity going on around you.  You soak in your sisters wacky, loud antics while kicking your little legs to make your bouncy chair rock back and forth.  You seem to enjoy them for their entertainment value, but I’ve noticed you get a little concerned when it appears that you think I am handing you off to one of them.  You should be concerned – I’ve seen what the twins do to their dolls, so I’m not about to leave you with them unsupervised. (Carrie’s bitty baby hasn’t had clothes on since the second day she’s been here, and Ellie’s bitty baby has spent a lot of her time face-down in a stroller…)

It’s good to get to know you, Miss Annie.  While I can’t wait to see who you will become – I am certainly enjoying this time with you now.

Love,

Mom

it is monday night

It is Monday night. The street lights flickered on a few hours ago, lighting the way home for a few weary travelers.

It is Monday night and the children are asleep… finally. The twins made their last several trips down the stairs to report that they needed water or a song or a snuggle.

The baby, in her easy sweetness, fell asleep with a smile that lingered there even after her heavy lids closed reluctantly.

It is Monday night and the house is humming along with the dishwasher. The lights are dimmed, the counters cleared and the TV silent.

I feel content.

This is a rare feeling for me. I usually have a million things I’m thinking about and working on and wondering on.

But right now, in this moment, I am content.

I’ve felt this contented feeling before and squandered it with worry. This contentment resembles the achy happy tired feeling after a worthwhile day of work in the yard and a much-deserved shower. It feels fresh and exhausted.

Right about now – just as I am about to let out the long sigh of relief and happiness – is exactly when I want to start thinking about the next thing. But I won’t.

Maybe I am getting wiser with age. Maybe I finally learned to live in the moment.

Maybe.

But it doesn’t matter right now – just being here, in this space and in this gentle peace, is enough.

annabel

I’ve wanted to write this post for weeks now, but every time I try to sit down at the “big computer,” I decide to sleep instead. And also it is really hard to type with one hand.

A Birth Story

On May 8, we went to a regularly scheduled OB appointment and discovered that the baby was transverse – lying across the uterus instead of in the preferred “head down” position.  The fact that I had a lot of fluid and a misshapen uterus (thanks to a myomectomy and a twin pregnancy) made it very easy for the baby to swim into whatever position she preferred.  Dr. G had already performed a “version” (changing the baby’s position) in the office at 37 weeks, but the baby happily shifted by the next day. Knowing that the baby moved so quickly, Dr. S suggested that once we achieved 39 weeks gestation, we should schedule another version followed immediately by an induction.  In the meantime, we were advised that I should try hard NOT to go into labor and that if I did go into labor, or my water broke, we should go straight to the hospital due to risk of umbilical cord prolapse.

Thus began my maternity leave.

The first available date for the version and induction was Wednesday, May 14 with Dr. G.  We were signed up for a 7:30 a.m. time slot.

In between the appointment and the induction, I managed to injure my neck, causing me considerable pain and insomnia.  The day before the induction, we visited our friendly neighborhood chiropractor who attempted to mitigate the pain and gave Frank some suggestions for assisting me with pain management during labor and delivery.

We both woke up bright and early on Wednesday morning, ready to meet our third child.  It was an absolutely beautiful morning and a perfect drive to the hospital. I was so happy to walk into Labor and Delivery, instead of being wheeled into L&D in complete terror (as was what happened with the twins). We were set up in our room, I changed and was put on monitors … and then the fun started.

 

Ready to go to the hospital!

Ready to go to the hospital!

Dr. G is sort of a legend in our area.  My mom actually went to his practice many years ago in hopes that he would deliver her third child, my brother Andy, but unfortunately she went into labor on a day that he wasn’t on duty.  He is an older gentleman, with a sweet and kind demeanor.  His old-school training made him more likely to try things like a version, something that only one of his colleagues would also attempt (Dr. S). He was optimistic that he could shift the baby’s position, but he was also realistic.  He’d seen enough versions that should’ve been easy that failed, and other versions that should’ve failed, work. Within minutes of locating the baby on the ultrasound, he began the process of shifting her position.  We watched in awe as her little shape moved into a perfect head-down position.

Once it was confirmed that her head was in the best position possible, Dr. G broke my water and began pitocin.

Hanging out, inducing and stuff...

Hanging out, inducing and stuff…

Everything was pretty uneventful after that.  Frank and I watched a movie, texted, played games, and just sat around waiting to meet our baby. Frank left for breakfast and lunch breaks, and finally by about 2 p.m. we decided to get the epidural.  At that point I was dilated to 2 cm and everything was looking good.

At 5 p.m. Dr. G was leaving for the day and he wanted to see how things were going with me before handing me off to Dr. S.  I was dilated to 3 cm and everything looked fine. After he left, though, my nurse and I both noticed a deceleration with the baby’s heart rate on the next contraction.  I bit my lip nervously as I waited for the heart rate to return to normal.

A few more contractions came and went without decelerations.  The nurses changed shifts and the new nurse wanted to check my cervix.  While she checked, a worried look crossed her face.

“Did the doctor mention anything about feeling facial features when he checked last?” she asked.  I shook my head.

I’m not a doctor, but I knew enough to know that you shouldn’t feel a baby’s facial features during a cervical check. Crap, I thought.

The next contraction, as though the baby knew, involved another heart rate deceleration.  I furrowed my brow. Frank was now pacing next to my hospital bed.  The nurse called the hospitalist (the doctor on duty for the hospital).  The hospitalist arrived quickly.

“Yes, I feel a forehead… and eyes.  What does the OB want you to do?” the hospitalist asked the nurse.

“Turn her on her side and stop the pitocin and call the OB in,” said the nurse, reaching to turn off the pitocin as she said it. The hospitalist nodded. Within 30 minutes, my OB was in the room.

Dr. S was a very professional and still very kind doctor.  She is one of those doctors that instills a sense of authority while still being very compassionate at the same time.  She spent a long time assessing the situation.  During her check, she attempted to move the baby’s chin down in order to shift her head into a better position.  She attempted to push the baby’s head back into the uterus.  Neither effort worked – the baby was fully engaged.  Dr. S could tell that the baby’s head was becoming swollen from the pressure from the contractions.

Dr. S looked at me with sad eyes and I knew before she even said it.  “We have to do a C-Section. I can’t move the baby’s head.  There is a risk that if the baby is allowed to be born this way, she might break her neck,” explained Dr. S.

My heart dropped. My poor baby.  All I could think of was this poor, sweet baby trying to be born into this world and being stuck and injured.  Frank and I took a few minutes to talk and to pray.  I knew I had to do the C-Section, but even though I had tried to mentally prepare for that before we were induced – I just couldn’t wrap my head around it.

I’ve done a lot of difficult things. Not climbing mountains or anything, but I’d had surgery before, been through challenging seasons of my life and so on. I’d created ways to mentally push through those difficult situations by outlining steps in my head.  Just get through this, this and this. Once you do those three things, you will be done.  But being awake for a major surgery? I knew what the steps were and I just couldn’t see my way through. I actually thought, so then they will put your organs back in… sweet heavens to Betsy… my organs will be on the outside… on.the.outside.  I couldn’t see my way through it. I started to panic.

And then I remembered that the last time I had a similar surgery to a C-Section (a myomectomy), I had been horrifically sick.  I threw up for hours by myself in my hospital room after surgery.  I remembered texting Frank and telling him how sick I was. Frank had asked if he should come back to the hospital. For what reason?  I remember thinking.  To watch me puke up jello into a kidney shaped blue bowl while I try not to hurt my already aching stomach muscles?  It was the kind of lonely misery that would not be improved by a spectator.

At the memory of my myomectomy recovery, I became scared of puking on one side of the operating curtain, while my actual stomach was exposed on the other side.  I couldn’t handle it.

I will say, my doctors were amazing.  Upon hearing of my nausea/vomiting fears, they took every step possible to reduce any chance that I would become violently ill while delivering my baby.  Not once during the C-Section did I even think of vomiting.  I was grateful.

Once I signed off on the paperwork for the C-Section, I was prepped and wheeled into the same operating room in which I delivered the twins.  I was moved from the L&D bed onto the narrow operating table.  The anesthesiologist began the spinal through the same port as my epidural and the final work to bring our baby into this world began.

Frank joined me by the head of the table, but he watched the entire surgery, not missing a moment of our baby’s delivery.  The thing about a C-Section is that while you do not feel pain, you feel your insides being moved around.  It’s a totally surreal situation – knowing that on the other side of a thin piece of blue fabric, your insides are on the outside.

But, oh heavens, at the first gurgling cries of sweet Annabel – it was all worth it. At 7:18 pm on May 14, 2014 she made her way into this world.

"Seriously you guys, what took you so long??"

“Seriously you guys, what took you so long??”

 

“It’s a girl! And she’s a big baby!” announced Frank and the doctor, laughing.

They brought a screaming, healthy baby Annie around the curtain so I could see her for the first time.  Frank laughed, “Boy is she angry!” The swelling in her forehead gave her a particularly angry scowl.

They cleaned up Annie and weighed her – 9lbs 3oz and 21 inches long – and brought her over for a more formal introduction.

"Hey, Mom, wassup?"

“Hey, Mom, wassup?”

Frank, Annie and me.

Frank, Annie and me. All of our best angles.

Annie and Frank hung out in the nursery waiting for me to get cleaned up and after two hours of recovery, we were all reunited.

"Mmm... Pain Management rocks!"

“Mmm… Pain Management rocks!”

Annie and I snuggled while Frank tried to forge for food (a nearly impossible task).  In between coos, I hit the button for pain medication every ten minutes. I’ll tell you what, C-Sections are no joke and I am grateful for the excellent pain management (the PC way to say “large quantities of pain killers”) that I was offered at the hospital.

The twins were excited to meet their new sister.  Poor Carrigan, confused and concerned by the logistics of birthing, immediately asked if Annie was going “back in.” We assured her that Annie was here to stay.

Party of 5!

Party of 5!

Annie and I hung out in the hospital for four days and were discharged, happily, on May 18.

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

Frank and his girls!

Frank and his girls!

"Let's rock and roll mom and dad!"

“Let’s rock and roll mom and dad!”

Sisters

Sisters

About the Name

Annie’s first trimester was more exciting than we had hoped.  Early on, we were very concerned about some bleeding issues that went on for nearly four weeks.  During that time of worry, I felt peace at church and felt that her middle name would be Ruth.  We knew we wanted an “A” first name, and it was between Abigail and Annabel.  I’ve always loved Annabel and it’s literary history.  We both loved that the name could be shortened to Anna, Ann, Annie, etc.  Annabel is actually a variation on the Scottish name Amabel, meaning loving.  And she definitely is a little lovebug!

Two weeks old, poolside

Two weeks old, poolside

Eight weeks old

Eight weeks old

on the cusp: a letter to the future

The scheduler at my OB/GYN’s office was explicit in her instructions: no food or drink after midnight.

Oh, but prior to midnight…

And so, at 11:17 p.m. on the night before you were born, dear baby K, I enjoyed our last bowl of mint cookies and cream ice cream with chocolate syrup.  It seemed fitting because throughout the duration of this pregnancy, you seemed to be only satisfied by carbs.  Which I am absolutely fine with, by the way.

As our third child, you will no doubt notice that I slacked off on the weekly and bi-weekly updates on your growth and development and the minutia of your existence.  Your sisters enjoyed a high level of micromanagement for their 32 weeks of gestation and then much of their first year post-partum.

It’s a good thing that blog posts and belly pictures are not the primary indicators of being loved and wanted and adored.

When I was barely five weeks pregnant with you, I started bleeding. I was horrified and scared and deeply, deeply saddened. I thought I lost you before I knew you.

Weeks of ultrasounds followed, showing first a small 1 cm bleed that grew, without good reason, to 3 cm.  Weekly ultrasounds revealed a dark storm brewing next to the hopeful flashing of your sweet, flickering heartbeat.

I was full of so much hope and so much sadness, all at the same time. It was a strange time for your dad and me because while we felt so full of love and happiness with your sisters, there was such a deep longing in our hearts for you. The idea of our family without a you in it seemed so sad and empty. It was around that time of so much conflicting emotion, perhaps week seven or week eight, that I was worshipping in church.

I know Who goes before me
I know Who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always on my side
The One who reigns forever
He is a Friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side
~Chris Tomlin, “Whom Shall I Fear”
The words of the song resonated in my heart and I felt that those words were, in that moment, a message to me about you.  I had an overwhelming sense that God was protecting you.  I also had an overwhelming sense that you were a girl, but you know, we’re still waiting to see if I was right about that one.  (Just remember, if you are a boy, .500 is still a great batting average.)
The next ultrasound revealed that the bleed was reabsorbing into my system and that your happy little heartbeat seemed to be blissfully unaffected. The doctor overseeing the ultrasound was visibly relieved. “You know,” she said to me, a smile lighting her face, “I really thought you maybe had a 50/50 chance with this one.  I think you’re going to be OK.”
I watched the days tick by through this pregnancy.  You and I would have little one-sided chats where I would tell you that I loved you. And sometimes, if we were alone in the car, I would also give pointed advice about driving, using other drivers as an example.
I think that driving advice will come in handy.
Thanksgiving came and went. Christmas came and went.  Then the New Year, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter.
Here we are in May.  May is a lovely and enchanting time in Chicago.  It’s the time of the year where, no matter how wretched the winter was (and this one was terrible), Chicagoans invariably forget about the preceding frosty weather and race outside in tee-shirts and shorts in 45 degree weather.
May is a great month for a birthday.  Your dad was born in May and now, so will you.
You and I have already had a good run of it together.  I poke you, you kick me back.  We have a good relationship like that.
Your dad is giddy to meet you.  He is like a kid on Christmas Eve – excited to hold you and love you.  For someone who is generally so stoic and professional, your dad is already a softy when it comes to you and your sisters.
Speaking of which, your sisters are excited to see what all the fuss is about.  I suspect that they will go through phases of coming to understand what it means to have a new little brother or sister in their midst. I would guess that there might be a few rough days and nights ahead, where one or both of your sisters may ask when it is we are going to send you back.
That’s just how siblings are. And over the years, they will come to scarcely remember a time without you.  Your histories and lives and futures will be forever intertwined.
So here we are: the night before you will be born. Just you and me in a quiet house.  I should be sleeping.  Truthfully, I tried sleeping, but this is our last night hanging out like this – me eating ice cream and you kicking my bladder.  Tomorrow (5/14) is a big day, little one.
Birth is an excellent, albeit quick and dirty, bootcamp for life: There’s a lot of discomfort, maybe some swearing and general disorientation, followed by joy and tears and excitement.  Get ready; it’s a beautifully messy ride.
I love you already.
Love,
Mom

three

The twins are three years old.

Three years ago, almost to the day, we were bringing our tiny babies home from the NICU. Three years from now, we will be sending our girls off to first grade.

It’s amazing to think that they’ve grown up so much, and yet I haven’t aged.  It’s a miracle!

All about Ellie at Three

Elliana, the oldest by four minutes, is a very sweet, very engaged little girl.  She knows all of her letters and has even started writing some of them.  She has lovely little conversations with me and makes sure we don’t forget to pray before meals and bed time.

Her curly red hair shows no signs of fading away. Despite all of the stereotypes about redheads, Ellie’s most “redhead” trait is her fierce desire to stick to a plan.

She is a sensitive soul and has taken to saying, “You’re breaking my heart!” whenever her sister is gruff with her or we tell her she can’t do something.  She loves broccoli and pasta and meat.  She can take or leave dessert (more often leaving it).  She loves to “snuggle in” and watch a favorite show or read a favorite book.  She has seen frozen approximately three times and is trying desperately to sing along with the songs.

All about Carrie at Three

Carrigan is my little sparkler.  She has this shimmer in her eyes when she’s about to do something hilarious-or-dramatic-or inappropriate.  Her creativity is astounding.  Everything she touches can become something magical in her imagination; even dinner. This has lead to quite a few discussions about how inappropriate it is to play with food and that fingers dipped in peanut butter are NOT dinosaurs (Rawrrrr!!). But it has also lead to some very delightful discussions about imaginary scenarios.

She has developed a particular fascination with dinosaurs and tells me her favorite is the brachiosaurus.  She plays well by herself, but loves to drag her sister into an involved session of Paw Patrol. Her creative playtime is enthusiastic and vocal – it’s hard to hear oneself think while she’s growling like a dinosaur or hollering “Ryder! Come quick! We have an emergency at the beach!”

Carrie is a little social butterfly.  She loves to introduce her family and friends to new people.  We had pizza delivered the other day and she proudly told the pizza, “This is my friend my Mom and this is my friend my sister Ellie and I’m Carrie!” The pizza delivery guy was somewhat amused, but being a teenager, he wasn’t really sure how to respond.   It was adorable!

 

We celebrated the girls’ birthdays with a few small family gatherings with Frank’s family and my family, but for the first time we had a very low-key shindig at the Park District for the twins and a few of their friends.  They played on a tot gym, enjoyed some cake and colored.

The simple pleasures!

Happy 3rd Birthday Girls!

three things: sociology 101

Frank and I were lying in bed, writing a grocery list and figuring out what needed to be accomplished an afternoon last weekend when he squinted at my (mostly) dark brown hair.  The following conversation was documented on my Facebook page:

Frank: man. You’re going gray.

Me: I know.

Frank: I mean really. Wow. Like remember when I used to count them? Only God can count them now.

Ladies and gentlemen: he’s a keeper.

For the record, our whole conversation made me laugh. I am aging.  Every passing day and passing year is testament to that fact.  Frank, not immune to the effects of time, is also aware of the effects of time’s passage on his own person. Our faces are looser, our bodies are definitely outside of our prime.  We are tired from running after two jobs, two kids (soon to be three! whoa!) and life.

But the laugh lines and smile lines are also taking hold, happily, etching their places at the corners of our eyes and creating parenthesis around our grins.

Life is good.  Even when it hasn’t been, we’ve laughed together and been each other’s best friends.

People who know us, know what I write here is true.

I posted our funny exchange dryly on my Facebook page, smirking while I hit “post.” Before the first responses came back, I was chuckling to myself about my funny husband.

And then… Then I learned three things about people in a small microcosm of social media. To be certain, I am not naive – I have witnessed some of these behaviors in other spaces and places, but it hit a nerve watching the responses unfold in response to an every-day humorous exchange between Frank and me.

Thing one: Domestic Violence Is Not OK.

A friend flippantly commented that I should “slap” Frank for his remark.

For some reason, this seems to be a thing among women: it is OK to make threats about striking men – or even actually hitting a man.

That is ugly to me.  I cringe on the inside.

How can we, as women, say it is NOT OK to hit women, but at the same time say that it IS OK to hit men? While we complain about double standards I think it might be time to examine the double standards that women also use.

I also played through the response as though it was a man telling another man to slap his wife.  Certainly there would be absolute outrage about a comment like that.  But the thought of me hitting my husband was met with silence.

Of course, you could go down a rabbit hole with this one, but that is for smarter people than me. Suffice to say, I do not advocate for any violence against humans. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you and all that.

 

Thing two: Small Rudder, Big Ship.

I am reminded of the childhood playground mantra, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me!”

That horse crap mantra never worked. We are humans and at the essence of who we are is that we relate to other people. Words are part of that relationship and words can hurt, deeply.

In the Book of James in the Bible, there is a passage that refers to the tongue as a small rudder that steers a large ship.

That is truth.

When one of the responses called my sweet, funny husband an “ass” and demanded that he get a raise so I can pamper myself monthly, it hurt me and it irritated him.

Something to know about our marriage: we refuse to call each other names. I give Frank the most credit for maintaining this level of decorum in our arguments.  If you know Frank, you know that he is a professional, first and foremost.  He is professional in all facets of his life, even in our marriage.  This doesn’t mean he isn’t wrong at times or that he doesn’t make mistakes or that he hasn’t said things he’s later regretted.  But he does not scream to dominate an argument, he does not resort to name calling to distract from the true issue at hand and he keeps his language generally clean.

So to see those words written out and directed at my husband – my much better half, to be honest – left a bitter taste in my mouth.

This isn’t the first time that I’ve heard or witnessed such behavior from people, sadly. I’ve seen it live and in person. No matter the context, it is always off-putting and upsetting.

Those small words steer a large ship indeed.

 

Thing three: Humor.

Of course, throughout the responses were appropriate responses from people who know us best. One of my friends jokingly commiserated. A few cajoled Frank about his lack of gray hair due to his absolute lack of hair. One said that our humor was the sign that we were the best of friends.

One of the first times that Frank and I went out together, I remember thinking, “I have never laughed with anyone else like this – ever!” Our chemistry has always been punctuated by jokes and games and funny things we do to make the other smile. It is our way. (I documented a few of our quirky “I love you’s” a while ago)

In fairness, I did not include a smiley face or emoticon or other emotional clues to indicate that our conversation was funny.  I simply assumed that others would firstly, know us well enough to know that it was meant as a humorous exchange, and secondly, that even if others did not know us well enough, that they would assume that I would not post a conversation like that out of anger, hurt or some other negative emotion.

Perhaps the conversation may have been sort of a Rorschach test, revealing more about the people responding than it did about the people having the conversation. I don’t know.

I deleted the conversation in its entirety from my Facebook page because it brought out some negativity that I personally didn’t enjoy and, well, it’s my Facebook page and I’ll do what I want to.

Emily, out.

year in review

In short:

It was winter & it was cold.

The girls turned two.

We bought a house and sold a condo and moved.

Everyone knows that the actual moving part is the worst part of any home purchase.

It was appropriately terrible, especially with my ear infection that WOULD NOT GO AWAY. But has. So we are all good now.

We frolicked at the park any time it was over 30 degrees and under 120 degrees.

We laughed, we cried, I cut my hair, we took some selfies, we laughed some more and then we found out we were pregnant with #3.

This was not a surprise.

We planned it.

But still.  THREE KIDS. OMG.

What were we thinking??

And now, the year in pictures.  Beginning January:

2013 01 Haircut Carrie 2

Carrie’s First Haircut

2013 01 Haircut Ellie

Ellie’s First Haircut

2013 02 2nd Birthday

Twins turn Two.

2013 02 Birthdays

Grandma Sandy, Julia, Elliana and Carrigan all celebrated birthdays together. (and took a lovely picture with Luke and Joshua)

2013 02 Carrie Bling

Carrie loves her pretties! (aka bracelets and jewels and sparkly things!)

2013 02 Carrie Cool

Carrie is also VERY busy, babe. So, like, leave a message or whatever.

2013 02 Ellie Cool Glasses

Shades and a binky NEVER go out of style.

2013 02 Selfies Carrie

Carrie’s February Selfie. So now.

2013 02 Selfies Mom and Ellie

Ellie and Mommy selfie together.

2013 03 Easter Egg Hunt Ellie

Ellie hunts the elusive Easter Egg.

2013 03 Easter Egg HuntCarrie

Carrie has concern for the elusive Easter egg. Where is it? What is in it? These are big questions.

2013 03 Easter

Easter brunch with Frank’s parents. Delish!

2013 03 Frank and girls

A trip to Water Tower Place in Chicago.

2013 03 Hockey

Hawks Game!

2013 03 Mom and girls

Story time with Mom in March

2013 03 Night out

A much-needed night out in March to see The Book of Mormon.

2013 03 Snow

Boo! Snow in March!

2013 04 Carrie Pig tails

A warm day in April means a trip to the park – and pigtails for Carrie!

2013 04 Carrie Selfie

A mommy and Carrie selfie in April

2013 04 Carrie

A trip to a bakery in Lincoln Park. Yum!

2013 04 Ellie

Ellie scoping out Lincoln Park. Future Blue Demon??

2013 04 Horsey ellie

Cowgirl Ellie takes the reins…

2013 04 Horsey

Cowgirl Carrie is on the move!

2013 04 Picnic small

An outdoor snack in April. Loving the warm weather!

2013 04 Selfie Carrie Hat

Carrie stylin’ a new hat from Grandma Sandy.

2013 05 Carrie Pancake

Carrie can’t believe the WHOLE pancake is for her!

2013 05 Carrie

Early morning Carrie is the best!

2013 05 Ellie Asleep

Ellie tuckered out on a car ride home…

2013 05 Flowers 2

Enjoying the “snow” of flower petals in May.

2013 05 House

We bought a house!

2013 05 K Fam

Just the four of us… for now!

2013 05 Park Carrie

Carrie loves the park!

2013 05 Park Ellie

Ellie also loves the park.

2013 05 Picnic

“Dahling, isn’t picnicking just the bees’ knees?”

2013 05 Tea Party Ellie

A tea party between Ellie and Michael. He’s such a good sport!

2013 05 Twins Beds Carrie

Carrie in a toddler bed!

2013 05 Twins Beds Ellie

Ellie in a toddler bed!

2013 05 Twins Wishing Frank Happy Birthday

The twins wishing Daddy a happy 33rd birthday!

2013 06 Carrie Ride

Do we have a future motorcycle chick??

2013 06 Ellie Ride

Ellie enjoyed her bike as well!

2013 06 Furniture

Improvising with furniture during the move. Camp chairs are so in right now!

2013 06 George

Saying goodbye to our trusty Honda Accord, George in June.

2013 06 Girls Room

Lounging in their new room.

2013 06 Hanging with Kelsey

Carrie and her buddy Kelsey chilling.

2013 06 Hockey

One game to the Stanley Cup!

2013 06 Lunch

We love lunching outside!

2013 06 Packing

Packing is never dull when you are packing with twins two year olds!

2013 06 Park

I love the PARK!!

2013 06 Rain Carrie

Mommy and Carrie watching the rain!

2013 06 Rain Ellie

Ellie catching the rain!

2013 06 Train Twins

Riding the train at the July Jaycee carnival in Hoffman Estates!

2013 07 Carrie at the beach

Carrie playing on the beach, with appropriate jewels, of course!

2013 07 Ellie eating brekkie

A healthy breakfast is the best way to start the day!

2013 07 Getting Ready in the morning

Getting ready for work with Mom!

2013 07 Hanging with my sibs

Sibling night … PUT THE PHONES AWAY! That is all.

2013 07 Post Bath Discussions

The girls deep in discussions post bath in July.

2013 07 Riding the bus to church

The girls love to ride the bus to church. Church is also one of their favorite places to go – they ask to go all week long!

2013 07 Summer Concerts

Ellie and Mom taking in a very hot summer concert together – so much fun!

2013 08 Beach Time

The girls loved their beach time in August!

2013 08 Beach

Carrie particularly loved the pier and looking at the fish.

2013 08 Cousins visiting

Cousins Luke and Julia came to visit in August. They had so much fun!

2013 08 Ellie visiting Caycay

Ellie visited Auntie Cay-cay and raided her amazing costume jewelry collection.

2013 08 Emilys Haircut

I chopped my hair!

2013 08 First Day of Playschool

The first day of Playschool for the twins!

2013 08 First Day with Mom

The girls couldn’t wait to go inside!

2013 08 Mommy Potty Training

The first day of potty training. It was harder on Mom (and Dad) than it was on the girls.

2013 08 Park Carrie

Carrie cruising at the park in August.

2013 08 Potty Training

Potty training bootcamp.

2013 08 Trikes with Carrie

Carrie giving her trike a tune-up in August.

2013 08 Trikes with Ellie

Ellie in August.

2013 08 Visiting Caycay

Carrie also raided Auntie Cay-cay’s jewelry. So glamorous!

2013 08 WI State Fair Ellie

Going to the Wisconsin State Fair was exhausting…

2013 08 WI State Fair

… and delicious!

2013 09 Fire Trucks

Ellie and Carrie explored their first fire truck!

2013 09 Prego

Holy positive pregnancy test, batman! It was a September to remember!

2013 09 Tea Party

Tea Partiers.

2013 10 FLying

Does someone have a future in aviation? Perhaps!

2013 10 Selfies Ellie

Mom and Ellie Selfies in October.

2013 10 Selfies

Mom and Carrie Selfie in October.

2013 10 Sports Carrie

Carrie enjoyed her first sports camp. Bend it like Beckham!

2013 10 Sports

Ellie is ready to take on the entire team. Solo. With one hand tied behind her back. Game on, girlfriend!

2013 11 Carrie in the Pantry

Carrie loves the pantry in the new house nearly as much as I do.

2013 11 Pool Carrie

Carrie is a future pool shark in the making.

2013 11 Pool Ellie

Important life skillz.

2013 11 Thanksgiving

The twins ready to celebrate Thanksgiving with Grandma Sandy and Grandpa K.

2013 11 Vegas

Frank and I enjoyed a lovely visit to Vegas in November. So much fun!

2013 12 Christmas Twins 2

Twin love at Christmas.

2013 12 Christmas Twins

Say Cheese! Say Merry Christmas!

2013 12 Christmas Twins 3

Santa came!

2013 12 Drawing Carrie

Carrie, our little lefty.

2013 12 Drawing

Ellie drawing.

2013 12 Hawks

Frank and I at a Hawks game. With that guy. Yo.

So, there you have it: 2013 in pictures.

It was a good year.

The forecast for 2014 calls for less sleep, lots of new baby snuggles and big sister hugs.

What a ride.

contextual learning

***DISCLAIMER: THIS IS A PG-13 POST.  PLEASE READ WITH CAUTION. PLEASE DO NOT READ IF YOU ARE NOW OR EVER HAVE BEEN A PASTOR OF OURS (HI BILL). OR IF YOU ARE MY MOTHER-IN-LAW. INSTEAD, READ THIS.***

As an observational-type learner, I tend to glean information and learn from day-to-day interactions.  This has generally been a fine way to learn, with only a few missteFps along the way.

At the age of four, I remember my dad talking about someone getting fired at work.  In my four-year-old brain, I imagined a horrifying scene of someone being actually set on fire.  I felt awful for my dad’s former coworker and his family. I couldn’t believe how casually my dad spoke of something so absolutely terrifying!

At 22, I entered the work-world.  While most of my coworkers enjoyed straight-swearing with a few creative twists or flourishes, there were a few that modified their language so that the words were almost swear words, but not quite.

I remember one of my bosses referring to a particularly messed-up client situation as a “cluster.” Cluster seemed appropriate. So I began to use the word freely to describe other situations that also seemed to have characteristics of a cluster.

“What a cluster!” I would lament at the grocery store, waiting in a long line behind someone paying for $400 of groceries with a check.

“Isn’t that a cluster?” I would comment to strangers about a particularly frustrating Packer’s game.

I was even freely using this new word at church. Cluster this, cluster that. Until, of course, Frank alerted me to the fact that cluster, in the context I was using the word, was usually a part of a longer word combination.  And that second word was the f-bomb.

Whoopsies!

Considering my long history of contextual and observational learning, you would think that Frank would have been smarter about his word choice for describing the period of time from December 26 through December 30. You would think he would at least thoroughly explain his word choice to avoid me using the word casually in conversations.

You would think all of that and be totally and completely wrong.

The conversation with Frank went something like this:

“Yeah, this time of the year is kind of a bummer. It’s the taint of the year,” said Frank, nonchalantly.

“Taint? Why?” I asked, curious to know more about this new word.

“Yeah.  You know, tain’t Christmas, tain’t New Year’s. Taint.”

“OH!”

Armed with this amazing new word that perfectly described in-between situations, I casually texted a friend of mine and asked if she wanted to get together during the taint  of the year.

I was so proud.

She was a little… surprised. Seeing that she was unfamiliar with this swanky terminology perfect for describing this in-between time of year, I explained it to her the same way Frank explained it to me.

There was a long pause in her response to me. “Sure, yeah, we can hang out.”

Later that same day, I told Frank that I would be getting together with my friend in the Taint of the Year. He raised his rather large eyebrows.

“You didn’t actually USE the word taint, did you?” he asked carefully.

“Well, yeah, sure, that’s what this time of the year is, right?” I was confused. And I was starting to become a little concerned as well.

He started to laugh. I was really concerned. He laughed harder.

When he finally wiped the tears from his eyes and pulled himself together, Frank explained that the taint is a somewhat common slang term used to describe a specific region of anatomy.  (Google it if you must…  I dare you.  Do it at work.  Use image search.)

I was horrified. I started wondering if I had used this word in any work emails.  Like, “Hey, I’ll be working during the taint of the year, so email me with whatever you need…” or something like that.  But I was afraid to search Outlook to see if I had, in fact, used that word.

So. There you go.

Happy Taint of the Year to You and Yours.

baby fever

Let’s be real: the reality of baby #3 has not totally sunk in.

You’d think 15 weeks in, post morning sickness, post exhaustion, post first trimester, I’d be all like, “Woot, woot. We gotta bay-bay cookin’!”

Only sort of.  I mean, yes, I totally know that I am pregnant.

And I understand that being pregnant often results in a baby.

The part I’m having trouble with is imagining what our life will look like with baby #3.

Perhaps I should’ve had a more solid vision of life with baby #3 before we began this process of getting pregnant.

Truthfully, I have a vision of life with child #3 – although I glossed over infancy and toddlerhood in my vision.  I love having two sisters and a brother.  I love the gatherings we have when we get together and laugh and giggle and talk and argue and laugh some more.  We are siblings and friends.

The twins have a unique and wonderful bond with each other because they have never known even a minute of existence without the other. Just tonight, we were driving home and Ellie was in a fowl mood.  Something about apple pies and Christmas trees really honked her off.  Ellie was muttering and sobbing in her car seat for about five minutes when Carrie yelled at her. Not in an angry, “What the heck?” kind of way, but in a mocking “this is how dumb you sound” kind of way. It worked.  Ellie found Carrie to be hilarious.  The next ten minutes of our ride was still filled with screaming, but mixed with fits of giggles as they made each other laugh.

It was the best.

It was why people have twins and siblings for their children.

When I think of this third child, I think of road trips and family vacations and Frank tossing the kids into the pool.  I think of three pairs of eyes peeking over the edge of our bed on Christmas morning, pleading with us to let them open their gifts from Santa.

I think of the twins teaching this child new things and this child being a joy to them. And a pain. And an annoyance.

The good and the bad… Family.

When we were in the midst of this whole having babies business the first time, I could barely dare to dream that we’d have a family – much less dream of a family of five.

When we decided to try to have a third baby, it seemed like less of a choice and more of a prayer that we tossed heavenward. And then we wondered.  And we hoped.

And God, being the funny and merciful One that He is, said, “Yes.”

Amazement. Awe.

More hope. More prayer.

Last night was an outright debacle. Nothing went as planned – not even close. After a “quick” stop by Walgreens for a prescription turned into a 30 minute fiasco and I brought my sobbing children into the house a full hour after bedtime, I felt totally outnumbered. I’d put one in bed, the other one would get out.  Finally, I had them both in bed and went on a quest for Jingle the Husky Pup.  I returned to mass chaos.

Carrie was sitting up in bed, crying and staring at Ellie.  Ellie was screaming and her nose was bleeding on EVERY THING. I carried her to the bathroom and stopped the bleeding, cleaned her up, stripped her bed, made her bed, put her back into her bed and then stood in the middle of their room. They looked at me and I looked at them.

And it felt like together we all thought, “So, Mom, what happens when you have a third infant in a carrier that needs a bath and a diaper and dinner and pajamas and bed? What about when that happens?”

I doubt I would’ve made all of the same choices that got me to the point of utter meltdown, but I also know that I can’t plan for everything.

There will come a point where a similar scenario plays out.

I’m glad I have six more months to get my “poop in a group” because right now, I am so not ready.