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

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.

how we say “i love you…”

When Frank and I were first dating, we thought it would be incredibly insightful to read the book The Five Love Languages. We were being all academic about love.

We bought the books… and then?

And then we spent the last decade making up our own love language.

Yes, that’s right, Frank and I have been hanging out romantically for a decade now.

Whoa.

So to celebrate a decade of smoochin’ and snugglin’ and stealin’ each other’s desserts – I thought I’d kick things off right with the top 10 ways we say “I love you.”

In no particular order:

10. Snuggles.

We snuggle all.the.time.  It’d be annoying if it wasn’t so delicious. There are nights where we follow one another from one side of the bed to the other and back again.  We’ve even named some of our favorite ways to snuggle.  That way, like good little quarterbacks, one of us can yell out, “SWEET SPOT!” and we assume the position.

9. The Clean House Maneuver.

This maneuver works great on both of us. It’s not complicated: clean the house while the other spouse is out. That one gets me every time!

8. The Clean Car Maneuver.

Similar to #9, but with either or (if particularly amorous) both vehicles. It differs from #9 because we have, on occasion, let our cars get particularly yucky.

7. Sweet Texts.

I’m sure in the olden days, spouses would have to find a piece of paper and pen and ::GASP:: write a note. Us? We just grab our phones and shoot over a text message.  Some of my favorites:

Frank: 11:30 a.m. doctor appointment for the twins.

Me: OK.

Frank (a few hours later): It’s Herpes.

Me: What?!

Frank: Nevermind. Girls are fine. Love you!

Frank is, as you may know, a pilot.  Occasionally (frequently…) I forget where he is going, until he gets there and texts me:

Frank: Love you in SFO (San Francisco)

Me: Oh, good. I didn’t know where you were going. XOXO.

On the first Tuesday of every month, the state tests tornado sirens.  Every first Tuesday at 10 a.m., I get a text that looks something like this:

Frank: DISASTER IMMINENT!! SEE YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE!! LOVE YOU!!

Me: Shhh. In meeting.

6. Laughing at the Same Jokes Over and Over and Over Again…

We have a cycle of jokes that is on endless loop.  Just like when I was kid and my sister and I watched Howard the Duck on an endless loop until my mom “dropped” the VHS tape, Frank and I can’t get enough of some of the same old jokes.

And there is comfort in that. Singing goofy versions of Kenny Loggins song Danny’s Song (“Even though you look kinda funny, I don’t care cuz you’ve got money!”); Frank chasing me up the stairs saying, “I’m gonna getcha!” while I freeze-up laughing, unable to move; holding hands and trying to be the first to tuck our thumb in between; responding to the other with “yer mom”; and the list goes on and on. No matter what we’re going through – there is always a small, sweet way that we can say “I love you” that brings a smile to both of our faces.

… Juvenile as it may be…

5. Holding Hands.

When snuggling isn’t an option, we often have to settle for holding hands. We hold hands everywhere we can – even in the car. We talk about how if we have to be in separate beds in the nursing home that if we can’t snuggle there, we’ll hold hands all the way until the end. Pity the nursing home peeps that try to get in between us. We will go all ninja old people on them. That’s how we roll, yo.

4. The Postcard.

You guys:  Frank and I have never discussed this.  Ever.  It’s one of the rules of Postcard Club: we don’t talk about the postcard. Seriously. I was worried that if I shared the postcard, it might lose some of its magic, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take so that our children and our children’s children will know exactly how nuts we are. 

In 2005, I took a trip to Utah for work.  It was a lovely trip, but only a 2 day adventure.  I bought a postcard that I intended to mail to Frank, but never did because I would get home before the postcard would.  I gave Frank the postcard and thought it was the end of the postcard. Until I found it tucked in one of my drawers.  So I put it in his overnight bag.  And he put it in my work bag.  And I put it in the cupboard next to his cereal and he put it in my pillowcase.

This postcard has made it through at least 3 moves and 7 years without being lost.  Which is more than I can say for about half a dozen spoons, three dinner plates and a shelf.

Whenever I find the postcard, sometimes months between sightings, it always makes me smile.

3. Spanish Radio.

Yes.  You read that right.  Nothing says, “I love you” like 105.1 FM in Chicago.

See, because we use our SUV for carting around the twins and our sedan for lots of driving/chores/what-have-you, we tend to swap out cars a lot.  And even if we aren’t swapping out cars, Frank often is nearby my place of employment to drop off the babies and from time to time, he stops by my car, turns the radio to Spanish Radio and cranks the volume.

While some people live in fear of turning the key in the ignition and a bomb going off, I live in fear of turning the key in the ignition and being bombarded with the music stylings of an enthusiastic mariachi band.

But as soon as I peel myself off of the ceiling of my car and get my wits about me, I remember that it is just a small way of Frank saying “I love you” using the only Spanish he remembers from high school.  Note: Aside from finding Spanish Radio formats on the dial, he can also say “The cat is on fire” and “The cat is in my pants.” What can I say? I’m smitten…

2. Our Rings.

For most married people, their wedding bands are a symbol of the promises they made to one another.  You know, the part where I lied and told Frank I loved to cook and could not wait to cook all.the.time? (And now Frank does 99.9% of the cooking)

But for us, our rings are also a symbol of our love (which is probably what it symbolizes for everyone else, too… we aren’t very original in that department… but whatever this is our top 10 list!).

I’ll spare you most of the schmoopy details, but basically it went like this:

Me: I love you, Frank.

::Cue the music, the soft lighting, the raw romance. Soap operas and love stories could learn something from this kind of passion.::

Frank: Aw, I love you, too babe.

After a few seconds of analysis.

Frank: If you were to quantify your love for me, how much would you say you had?

Me: This much!

Frank: (furrowing his mighty eyebrows) Which way?

Me: (exasperated) Always!

And so when Frank and I were engaged, we each separately decided to engrave a message on the inside of the other’s wedding band.  On the day of our wedding, after the vows and rings were exchanged, we couldn’t wait to slip off our rings to see what the other wrote on the inside. When I slipped the ring off of my finger and turned it into the light, I saw that, magically, we both wrote:

“I know where you live.”

Ha ha.  Just kidding.

We each engraved: “This Much, Always. 09-19-03”

I mean, occasionally we do get things right.

And so, when we look at our wedding bands, it is a constant reminder of our love – and that I don’t cook. Ever. Except when I get in the mood. But really, let’s be honest: dude has to cook all of the meals.

And, last, but not least:

1. We Love to Make Each Other Laugh.

Sure, I guess that’s been the under-riding theme of this entire post.  But truly, nothing delights either one of us more than the other being delighted.

These are the kinds of pictures that Frank sends to me with some sort of funny caption.

Eventually Frank’s series of Panda captions became his Anniversary Card to me one year.

And for Frank’s Golden Birthday, I surprised him with a few of his closest friends and some bread pudding.  He was delighted!

I always get a laugh out of Frank when I make that face.  What can I say??  I’m a charmer.

***

And so, in summary, we are probably certifiably crazy.  But that’s OK: we’re crazy together.

To Frank, I say, “Thank you for being my friend!”

… “Travel ’round the world and back again.  Your heart is true, you’re a pal and a confidant!  And if you threw a party! And invited everyone you knew!  You would see, the biggest gift would be from me and the card attached would say, ‘THANK YOU FOR BEING MY FRIEND!'” (Sung loudly, totally off-key and with heart because really, if you don’t sing it with heart, what’s the point??)

Extra Credit: Name that TV show theme song.  Nate? You got this one?

how to date like Frank and Emily

You might be asking (although, probably not) how Frank and Emily keep the love alive after nearly 8 years of wedded bliss.  Although, you are more likely asking yourself what is for lunch, dinner or when the next season of Mad Men will start (sometime in 2012, sorry folks).  While I can only answer one of your other pressing questions, and I can suggest a myriad of restaurants and delicious recipes for your first two questions, I am able to give you a glimpse into a romantic interlude between my Romeo (Frank) and me.

First, let’s describe the setting.  While many of you are probably used to having dates that take place in the fading light of a romantic sunset (read: best lighting for making everyone look attractive), Frank and I enjoy seeing each other in the stark, raw honesty of late morning sunshine.  We scoff at all of you who fight for reservations to a hot restaurant on a Friday or Saturday night.  Fools!  You can get any table you please on a Thursday morning, as long as your desired restaurant serves breakfast items.

Surrounded by men in business suits having important breakfast meetings, catty middle-aged women gossiping about their non-present friends and elderly couples, Frank and I feel that the mood is ripe for romance.  And, oh, is it!  In between bites of hash browns smothered in onions and cheese and over-sized egg-beater omelettes stuffed with jalapeño peppers, we both come to terms with the fact that our food selections suggest that there will be a pious good-bye kiss at the front door.

But it is between being seated and paying the bill that the real magic happens. Dates are not just about having delicious food and wearing clothes sans spit up stains.  Dates are about the meaningful heart-to-heart conversations that, deep down, we all desire.

Me: So, yeah.  Not such a bad night with the girls, right?  I think this acid reflux thing is behind us.

Frank: Yeah, I think so too.  Thank goodness, I was tired of wearing a rain coat during feedings.

Me: So.  There’s that.  Hey, did you hear about the new animal that was born that is like half giraffe and half zebra? It’s called an okopi.

Frank: Really?  (Gets out his cell phone to verify that I am not pulling his chain.  We have a long history of telling each other things that aren’t true, just to see if the other one repeats it.)  Well, how about that.

Me:  Yeah, it even has the tongue of a giraffe, which is blue.  And super long.

Frank: A giraffe’s tongue is blue?

Me: Yep!  See?  (Now my cell phone is out and I’m showing him pictures of giraffe tongues.  He is impressed.)

If you really want to get hot and bothered, keep reading because our discussions about the logistics of taking care of twins are practically rated PG-13.

Me: OK, so you’re going to go running at 11 and then I’ll pick up the girls at the sitters and then I’ll go running and then you’ll watch the girls and then you’ll go up to the airport for work and then I’ll watch the girls.  But I need $30 (conveniently, I know that is all the cash that Frank has in his wallet at the moment).

Frank: That’s all the cash I have at the moment.

Me: I know.  (Sly smile)

Frank: OK.

(Ten minutes later Frank tries to hand me the $10)

Me: Um, you’re about $20 short.  Wait, why are you giving me the money?  Aren’t you picking up the girls?

Frank: No, you’re picking up the girls.

Me: I am?

Frank: YES!

Me: Oh, yes, you’re right.  You’re still $20 short.

Frank: Grrr.

And lastly, because every moment can become a fun game that annoys your partner to no end, I use these tactics (among many others) to keep our marriage fresh and exciting.  But, brace yourself, we’re getting into NC-17 territory

Scene: Getting ready for a mid-morning nap sans kiddos after our hot brunch date.

Me: … and so then in my dream last night the hotel wasn’t really a hotel after all, it was the house I grew up in and then there was…

Frank: uh huh…..

Me: (not missing a beat) a big picnic set up in the backyard but it wasn’t really a picnic because there wasn’t food there were PICTURES of food and my first grade teacher was there, or, at least I think it was my first grade teacher but she looked like my 7th grade English teacher with shorter hair.  You know, a pixie-type cut but a little shaggier in the back – kind of like a mullet, but not.  So yeah, my first grade teacher was there and she was like, “Um, Emily, you still didn’t turn in your homework.  You can’t graduate from college.” And then I was like, “What?” and then my mom was there and she was mad and my sister pulled my homework out of her MOUTH…

Frank: uh huh… are we almost done?  I really wanted to take a nap.

Me:  Oh, OK.  Fine.

Frank: Great.  Shhhh.  Sleepies.

Me: SHHHH.

Frank: Shhh.

Me: Sh.

Frank: Sh.

Me: (waiting a few seconds) sh.

Frank: (waiting a few more seconds) sh.

Me: (very, very quietly) sh.

Frank: (trying to be even quieter) sh.

Me: (even quieter than Frank) sh.

Frank: (laughing) OK!  C’mon!  Sleepies!

Me: (giggling) OK… (waiting a few seconds) Shhh.

Frank: ARGH!

Me: And then my DAD was in my dream yelling at my sister for eating my homework.  But it wasn’t my sister any more, it was Gwenyth Paltrow…

Frank: I can’t win.

So yeah, in a nutshell, that’s how you keep the love alive.

Smooches!

100 joys (13-17)

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

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

Joy #13

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

Joy #14

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

Joy #15

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

Joy #16

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

Joy #17

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

beautiful things

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then I think of Frank.

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

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

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

It’s just how guys are.

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

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

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

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

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

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

so much to say!

Ok, in no particular order:

1.  I am running again.  Well, jogging.  Very, very, very slowly.  At this point, it’s as much for my physical health as it is for my emotional health.  I find that when I run, I am able to process things better and have more energy.  So I am committed to running/jogging/moving my booty every other day.

2.  For anyone wondering about my sugarless lifestyle, yes, we are still sugarless in the K House.  I have to say, there have been quite a few moments of weakness, but we are proud that we haven’t caved.  The only sweets we had were for FK’s 30th birthday.  Hey, that’s a pretty special occasion, right?  So we busted out some cinnamon bread pudding and homemade whipped cream.  Soooo good.  I was worried that it would become some kind of gateway drug – you know, leading to other sugary delights – but we stayed the course and did not venture any further into Candyland.

3. There have been lots of different themes floating around in my life.  I want to write extensively on every single theme, but right now is not the time.  Here are some highlights:

a. Definitions.  I’ve been wondering a lot about how to take control about how I’m defined, both by others and more importantly by myself.  This concern is on a personal and professional level.  Personally, I’m not afraid of being defined as someone who has had a very difficult time having children, but I AM afraid of being defined as ONLY that.  And maybe “afraid” is the wrong word.  I think if people only saw me for this trial, that would be a very limited way of looking at me and that I, and others, would miss out on the bigger picture of what God is doing in my life.  I also think about this a lot professionally, too – the woman who did my job previously really only focused on one particular area, whereas I’ve branched out and brought an entirely different skill set to the game.  I’m concerned that my success is being defined only based on area, without taking into consideration all of the other things I’m bringing to the table.  I have ideas on how to resolve my professional dilemma, but it’s a little bit more difficult to resolve the personal side of things.

b. Attitude. I’ve been battling attitude a lot lately.  For a great many reasons, it’s been particularly difficult for me to keep my attitude in check.  The running is helping with cleaning out any emotional overload, allowing me to refocus my energies when I feel myself slipping into a swirling vortex of sadness.  I think it’s a difficult one to balance, though, because I do believe that I need to be where I am, and not rush through it.  Said another way, I’ve spent a lot of my life checking things off of lists.  I like to do that.  But living a life of checking things off of lists sometimes means that I rush through things to just to get through the list.  A conversation I had tonight reminded me that life is really a series of processes and experiences, not a neat and tidy notebook of lists with check marks next to each item. Discontentment is being in one place, but believing that I should be somewhere else.  I kind of wonder if I would be more content if I just said, “Ok, this is where I am today, and that is ok” – with an understanding that I would not be in this same emotional place forever.  What does it look like to live a more contented life?  Hm.

c. Fluidity. In 2004/2005, I was working a lot of hours.  A lot of hours.  Even when I was not at work, I was mentally at work.  My brain was constantly thinking about things going on at the office; looking for solutions to problems I was having.  It doesn’t help that I worked in advertising and our world is inundated with ad messages.  Even if I didn’t want to take work home with me, it was everywhere.  But when I look back at that time and remember trips we took or things we did, I don’t remember the pervasiveness of work.  I just remember the fun things.  It’s amazing how my brain can edit out work and make my memories into a nice, clean 30 minute montage.  So why do I bring that up and what does it have to do with being more fluid?  Well, I realize that I have a selective way of remembering things.  I remember the joys of the simplicity of life being young when I feel overwhelmed.  But when I really remember what it was like to be me in second grade, I also have to remember that I was totally overwhelmed by simple things then (which were not so simple to me at the time).  I remember lying in bed one night, tossing and turning because I forgot to bring a worksheet home from school.  I knew I would get a “zero” for the assignment.  I finally went into my parents room really late at night (probably 10 p.m.) and told my mom what I was thinking about.  She laughed and told me about times when she felt the same way. The adrenaline from worrying about that worksheet left a bitter, metallic taste in my mouth.  The same taste I get even now when I realize I forgot something or am on a tight deadline.  We edit our memories.  Things do seem better in the past and more hopeful in the future.  Life is constant change.  People are born, people die, people move away, people move in… The sooner that I am comfortable with the idea that nothing is permanent in this life, the easier it is to roll with the punches.  I was not born as a person who is comfortable with being fluid, but over time I’ve come to be better with it.  I think being married to a pilot has expedited my personal growth in this area.  Let’s not go crazy though – I have hardly mastered being fluid and I still love a good check list, but in the realm of things I cannot control, learning to be fluid has been an excessively helpful trait.

So yeah.  Just a few thoughts.  No particular order.  More on some of them later.  Or maybe not.  Well, you can be 100% assured that I will likely talk about running and sugar again.  I’m predictable like that.