thoughts on pregnancy

… very post partum!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

evolution

For those of you who were guessing that my post would be an announcement of another pregnancy – you are very wrong.

Frank would lose his ever-loving mind if we had another child barely a year younger than the twins.

Nope.  This is not a clever blog announcement about a pregnancy.

I started this blog the same month that Frank and I became engaged to be married.  I was 22 years old.

I had been out of college for less than one year.  I had been working for less than six months.

I am not even really sure why I started the blog, other than that I had a weird fascination with the idea of having a diary.  And I’m not even sure why I had that weird fascination.  I’m a terrible correspondent.  Ask anyone who has tried to correspond with me.  I found letters from my darling college roommate, Kelly, and nearly wept at the beautiful notes she would write me.

I doubt that she could make the same claim about the letters I wrote her. Because I didn’t write.  I was a horrible pen pal.

If you look at my blog from 2003, you will find that it was nothing more than a documentation of shopping excursions, what I ate and how I felt about it, and who could forget my rankings of area shopping malls?? (answer: just about anyone and everyone could and should forget it)

I don’t go back to those early postings very often.  Sometimes I do re-read various posts from our wedding planning.  But truthfully, my most pressing concern (if I’m being honest) was finding a tube top so that I would tan evenly.  Heaven help me if I had strap marks while wearing my strapless wedding gown!

I look back on those early years and I wonder at how Frank and I managed to make a life together.  I mean, considering how seriously the odds were stacked against us (under the age of 25, for starters) and then reading my blathering thoughts at the time, it’s a wonder that we managed to move across state lines, find full time employment and not critically hurt ourselves in the process.

But here we are.

I look back on those early years – my immaturity and my self-absorbed interests – and I am struck not by how much I’ve changed, but how much more aware I am that I haven’t changed as much as I should have.

Yeah, this post is not about patting myself on the back.

“Way to go, self, you managed to generally stay clear of the Emergency Room for most of your adult life. Bravo.”

No.

I think a lot of life is about peaks and valleys.  Peaks offer a moment of clarity where I get to see where I am going and where I have been – and realize that the road in both directions is long, winding and generally uncertain.

And valleys remind me of my own humanity.

I think that I am on a momentary peak.

The K-Fam, for all intents and purposes, is doing very, very well.  Frank is employed.  I am employed.  The girls are healthy and growing and developing and have clean diapers on (at the moment).  We have food and shelter and enough extra cash to afford a brand new Starbucks addiction (as long as I keep brewing at home…).

Our coffee cup runs over.

But in this rare moment of clarity, I see my life as it is.  I’m not sad about it or angry or hurt or feeling guilty.  I am just aware that I was young and like pretty much all young people I know, I was blissfully unaware.  And now I am approaching middle-aged.  Or, if I am honest, I am probably middle-aged already (I’m 30 – does that count?).

Whatever.

The point is that I see myself driving home from church, work, wherever – I see the sun shining and the wind rustling the leaves on the lush green trees and even though I have many responsibilities, I feel unburdened. I feel light.

And I am becoming aware that being unburdened is a rare, precious gift; I feel that while I am in the sunshine, enjoying the beauty of this world, there are people whose burdens are great.

Reading the news is a buzz kill.  You are bumping along in life all concerned about what is for dinner or wondering whether or not you remembered to pay the water bill, when all of a sudden a news anchor calmly, matter-of-factly explains that 32 girls in Ghana were rescued from a baby factory where their brand new babies were sold into slavery or as human sacrifices.

The juxtoposition of my life and theirs is hard to grasp.  How can my brain comprehend such disparity of the human existence?

God has been working on my heart, opening my eyes.

Am I going to end human trafficking in this world?  No.

But how can I do nothing?  How can I enjoy a warm summer day spent going for a walk or teaching my baby girls how to build sand castles, while other men, women and children are in such total darkness?

Many children find themselves sold into slavery because their families cannot afford to eat.  They are sold so that the rest of the family can survive.

And yet so easily, I can go to McDonald’s and enjoy a fruit and yogurt parfait, oatmeal or a warm cup of coffee.

While I am contemplating ways I can get involved (more to follow over the next few weeks), I cannot help but realize how mindlessly I eat.  I think very little about what and how much I put in my mouth.  After fertility treatments and a twin pregnancy, this is definitely starting to show.

I have a lot of weight to lose.  Fifty pounds to be exact.

Yeah, that’s right.  Fifty.

Not fifteen.

FIFTY.

Ugh.

What’s sad is that I’ve lost pretty much all of the baby weight.  The weight I have left to lose crept on slowly at first.  I slowly gave in to the weight gain.  “It’s just a pound.  Or two.  Or five.”

Or fifty.

Working out my body is just as important as working out my mental muscles.  The discipline I use for walking and running (and not eating dessert after every meal) helps me be more disciplined in other areas of my life, like time management or finances.

Getting involved in helping to stop human trafficking isn’t going to happen over night.  I won’t find a solution by writing a check for $5.  Big problems like this require persistent and unrelenting action.

In 2001 I started Weight Watchers.  I lost 60 lbs over the next 8 or 9 months.

I did not lose all 60 lbs in the first week.

Every week I lost a little bit and it all added up.

It’s that kind of discipline – making one more person aware, getting one more person to care – that adds up.

A little bit of kindling added slowly builds a big fire.

My goal is to become more disciplined and aware of what I eat, which will simultaneously help me work out the mental muscles needed in order to be dedicated to a cause as important as ending human trafficking.

It’s a weird way to connect two things, but it makes sense to me.

If you ask my mom, she’ll tell you I’ve always been annoyingly persistent. When I want something, I usually find a way to get it.

For every pound that I lose, we (Frank and I) will donate $10 to end human trafficking.  It’s a weightlossathon.

If you want to join me in this effort – either by losing weight yourself or donating money for every pound that I lose, please do!  Let me know in the comment section if you are “in” and what you are doing.

And if you aren’t interested in joining in, if you could keep me in your thoughts and your prayers as I go down this road – both weight loss and figuring out how to help raise awareness of human trafficking issues – I would be so grateful.

Thank you.

the twins’ birthday: a day in pictures

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

 

 

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

Grandma Mary Kay and me

Grandma Sandy and me

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

Baby Daddy and me

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

Ready to have some bebez!

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

Baby Ellie

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

Dad and Carrigan

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

Our first family photo!

 

wait, what?

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

And here is how this came to be.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Funny story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The nurse thought I was hilarious.

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

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

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

100 joys (88-90)

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

joy #88

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

 

joy #89

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

 

joy #90

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

 

100 joys (81-88)

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

joys #81

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

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

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

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

 

Joy #85

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

 

Joy #86

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

 

Joy #87


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

 

Joy #88

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

100 joys (#71-80)

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

joy #71:

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

joy #72:

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

 

joy #73:

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

 

joy #74:

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

 

joy #75:

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

 

joy #76:

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

 

joy #77:

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

 

joy #78:

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

 

joy #79:

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

 

joy #80:

I love reading people’s Facebook statuses.

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

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

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

 

100 joys (#62-70)

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

joy #62:

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

joy #63:

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

joys #64-70:

Oh, how my family does bring me joy!

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

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

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

100 joys (54-57)

I’m such a joy-slacker.  I totally thought I’d have more time to document joys today, but instead took a 3 hour nap… Which, really, probably counts as a joy… I just don’t have a picture of it!

joy #54:

Big time joy today – it’s the first game we’ve gone to this season where the Hawks brought in a W!  We were both very happy with the final score of 4-1 over the Predators.  I would’ve been happier if there had been a really good fight on the ice.  You know, the kind where gloves come off and the players hold each other up while beating each other senseless (because if you go down, the refs can break it up).  Even if the ice girls (wannabe figure skaters who shovel excess ice shavings during breaks while wearing nearly nothing) decided to rumble, that would’ve counted.  Oh well.  There’s always next year!

Go Hawks!

joys #55 & 56:

Meghan and Mark.  Mark and Meghan.  They are both truly joys for us.  We both love hanging out with them and having “drinky-poos” (although, my “drinky-poos” have been non-existent for the past 6 months or so…).  They are a fabulous couple and are getting married in March 2011.  Frank and I are honored to be a part of their bridal party and we hope that the babies do not decide to make an appearance AT their wedding.  Some things (water breaking, woman in labor) are not really meant to be a part of a wedding album…

joy #57:

Yeah, so my hubz is one of my biggest joys most of the time – it sort of goes without saying.  He’s just awesome!  Today we did our K-fam tradition of having a nice dinner downtown and seeing a Hawks game (GO HAWKS!).  We went to Carnivale for dinner beforehand and really enjoyed ourselves.  We talked a lot about how the twins will be here in only three months… maybe less… I think it’s really sinking in!

100 joys (50-53)

It seems like the days just get busier and busier as we get closer to the holidays – but that’s OK!  That is part of the hustle and bustle.  That, and 14 phone calls tonight from my brother regarding various Christmas present purchases that he is working on making.  Love it!

joy #50:

This is our nativity set.  I love our nativity set.  My mom gave it to us when we were first married and for our first three Christmases, it was the only Christmas decoration that we could fit into our small apartments.  I love it because of its sentimental value, but I also love it because of the story that it represents.  I love that it represents one brief moment of time where all of the people involved knew they were on the cusp of something important, but none of them could really imagine how it would all turn out.

 

joy #51:

I love this video.  It makes me smile and cry.  Holy hormones, Batman.

 

joy #52:

Tonight we received some sad news that a friend’s dad passed away.  In the era of the social media frenzy, her Facebook page was instantaneously bombarded with friends and family members consoling her, offering their sympathies and asking if they could do anything.  One friend wrote, “I am carrying you in my heart.”  I thought it was the most perfect way to express friendship in a time of trial because all too often, as a friend reaching out to another, it does feel like our friends are in our hearts.  And what a beautiful picture that creates – all of us carrying our family and our friends in our hearts, wherever we go.  That is such precious cargo!

 

joy #53:

Imagine a picture of something that says

“30 degrees fahrenheit”

right HERE.

I’ll try to find something that says that.  But I can’t right now and it’s super late and I NEED to go to bed.  I want to say, though, that today it was 30 degrees Fahrenheit and it was AMAZING.  I felt like I was in a sauna.