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Friday, August 29, 2008

Don't worry, about a ting... Every little ting, is gonna be alright.

I'm pretty excited that "Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley just came on the radio (Sirius satellite channel 30 - acoustic coffeehouse or whatever)! It's not surprising since overall today is a pretty dang good day. Not for any particularly exciting reason - well, other than the fact that I'm photographing Robert Randolph and the Family Band tonight, one of my and Kristian's favorite bands. KK's coming with me and I'm looking forward to spending some time with him, at a show, one of our most favorite things to do together. If I'm lucky and the beer is cheap enough, I may even get to see the white boy dance! You know my round self will shake it no matter what. Other than that, though, the day has been pretty uneventful - there's just a nice energy to it - you know those days where you just feel, good. I managed to get some laundry done and get a little work out in, all the while making headway on the voluminous editing I have on my plate. Nothing like a little productivity to lighten the spirit, right? We also received the letter in the mail from Wash U about the testing they did on the babies during the 12 week scan - and the numbers look great for both babies - significantly diminished likelihood that either baby has Down's Syndrome or Trisomy 13/18. Very good and relaxing news. Also, the ball is rolling with the basement project - we're converting the back half into my office space, the front half into living/play space, and then both "bedrooms" upstairs will be a nursery/bedroom and another playroom. I think we just might make it work in this house! We get to spend time with my good friend Annie who is in from Ohio (I just photographed her wedding in Minneapolis in July, see the beautiful Mr. and Mrs. Anne and Kris Morrow - by the way, KRISTIAN took this photo - isn't it beautiful?! We printed and framed this image for them as a gift to give them when we see them, hope they love it.) on Sunday, along with both sets of parents who are both fantastic people to be around.

Tomorrow I get to work with Jon, which is always a good time, fam coming over to hang out on Sunday evening and Monday we get to go out on the boat and enjoy an actual full day off. Sure the rest of September is sheer chaos for me, but I'm used to that and I kind of welcome it, you know? I complain about editing, but I truly love my job, it still flatters me that people place such a responsibility in my hands (and my eyes) and I work hard every wedding to get the best images I can. It's always a challenge, and always a delight. Spending time with two people on the day they marry each other is really amazing. Anyhow, that's about it for now, and to end it on a lite note....Pretty hilarious, I can always depend on Frankie to crack me up with his emails. PS, after a pretty direct and brief conversation in the car that consisted of me barraging Kristian with both potential boy and girl names for our children; we have, in fact narrowed it down. And KK wants it to be a surprise. Who knew he was so nostalgic? So you'll find out in the birth announcements I guess. :) Have a wonderful weekend everyone. Lots of love, Joanna

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Happy Birthday Gretchen!

6 mos and hilarious!!
I'm two and I love the cake mommy made for me!
Mmmmm, La Pizza with Daddy and Tia Juana...

I just cannot believe that today is my niece Gretchen's THIRD birthday. It freaks me out how quickly time flies. What a sweet, beautiful, insanely smart little girl she is, and I look forward to watching her grow into a sweet, beautiful and even smarter young woman. What a blessing she is to our family, a riot and joy to have around, even if she does pee on your floor every once in a while. No biggie. Can't wait to see Gretch and her mommy and daddy Mike and Sue, along with Jimmy, (my other bro), g-friend Marissa, and "Gram-Bonnie" and Harry on Sunday for a little BBQ and R&R. Love you guys! Happy birthday baby girl! xoxxoxoxoxo, Tia Juana (what Gretchen calls me).

PS, Gretchen is a cool name, isn't it? I'm so stuck on names right now, and I'm sure you parents can empathize with me, does it not seem that just no name is quite good enough for your child? Just kidding, we have a bunch, faves right now - and please chime in if you love or hate any of these - are: Boys: (in order of favorites ranking): Oliver, Isaac, August, Carlin, Clinton, Quincy, Lincoln. (Again, I'd love some feedback - leave me comments dammit!). Girls: Audrey, Lauren, Raya, Kennedy, Emille, Whitney, Dorthea, Etta, Faith...(Disclaimer, anyone else pregnant out there - since I just publicly announced that I'm fond of these names, they're off limits.) :) Ugh, so many names and only two kids. We're money if they're both boys, but not many of you jerks seem to think that will be the case - I know the 2 of you that voted were just being nice. (I'm just kidding, you're not jerks, I love you all.) I have never in the history of talking with anyone about this fiasco heard "I think you're having two boys." Except for Ashley, and she just wants me to have two boys because she has four of her own! We shall see, hopefully in three weeks!

It happened.

I was verbally recognized as pregnant by people in public. --------------- Okay I'm not going to deny that I'm rockin' the preggo pooch. And 99.9% of the time I love it! It really is an amazing, beautiful event in a woman's life - I am personally involved in perpetuating the human race, as we speak. I have felt the babies ever so slightly fluttering around and cannot wait until I can feel them "for real" and really distinguish who is who and hiccups and feet and knees and the whole 9. I am blessed to have this happening to me, a blessing I do not take for granted - I love an cherish my kids already and they're only the size of lemons. (Thanks for the update BabyCenter - yep, I'm back. You'll be glad to know that the conversation most recently has been reduced to mini-vans.) So anyhow, here's my situation yesterday: I left the house feeling pretty actually, wearing a long brown skirt (you'll see me in it, trust me, it's awesomely comfortable) and a small tan sweater over a yellow shelf-tank top. I love my accessories of course, so I pulled out a beautiful, simple shell necklace that I purchased in Hawaii in 2002. I was going to shoot photos of a 15 mo. little girl, and overall felt really comfortable in what I had on, although I noticed in the mirror before I left "I totally look pregnant." (I'm being so descriptive about my attire because, as you women know, it's actually really important). The tank and the skirt hugged my "shape" so there was no denying it. I get to Forest Park and meet mom and Bella, a gorgeous baby girl, at the Grand Basin, and there is a couple behind us just hanging out on the steps - the gentleman pipes up, "Wow, she is so beautiful!" "Isn't she?!" I responded, excited about shooting. "And it looks like you're next, eh?" So there you have it, the first time anyone has officially accused me of being pregnant, in public. The cat is out of the bag. It's official. My internal response was a mixed sense of a sort of accomplishment or rite of passage, and impending doom. And so the following starts running through my head: "There's no turning back. And I'm only going to get bigger. Oh my God I'm only 13 weeks along and everybody can tell... Just how crazy big am I going to get? Am I really going to look like a parade float? Will I even be able to walk around? Will they have to widen the doorways to get me out of the house to get to the hospital?" Well, it was bound to happen, and it has. It really is sort of a rite of passage I guess, and I should be proud of my big, round self. I happen to be one of those people who think pregnant women are breathtaking. And so I will continue to remind myself as I catch myself in mirrors - in honor of SNL's Stuart Smalley. -------------------- Other items: everything stinks. Literally. My sense of smell is sheer insanity. Things that used to smell good, now do not (Boca Chicken). Some things that really smell great though, are paradise to sniff i.e. fresh peaches, fresh tomatoes. Things that really smell bad, though, (no stretch of the imagination needed), make me want to run the other way while spewing - not a pretty site. -------------- Lastly, please, pretty please, leave me comments. I want to know what's on your minds, and it gives me an excuse to take a break from editing while I'm on the computer. Have a great day everyone - it's gorgeous outside! Yay August in St. Louis!! WHAT?? Who would think we'd ever say something like that!

Monday, August 25, 2008

This may one day be me.

So I'm sure that I've mentioned that I cry over everything, right? Well today is no different, as I sit, editing a wedding, I come across an image that immerses me even further into the reality of what's going on in my life right now. This woman very well may be me someday, dancing with my son, at his wedding, once again crying my eyes out - out of utter, indescribable joy. A wedding is a pinnacle, however. Of course I'll cry my eyes out if I am blessed with the opportunity to dance with my son at his wedding. Or, both of my sons their weddings. It is also the little things, those smaller, everyday instances of joy that I'm beginning to realize I get to be a part of soon. Thus far I've just been so involved with the fact that I am, in fact, pregnant... with twins. That's a lot to digest folks. Well I've signed up, and I'm pretty much over the fact that I'll never sleep again, and I may not escape the first 5 years with my sanity. We have jumped in, feet first, ready or not. It's alright though, because it comes with the territory, and there is so much more to it. I was watching YouTube the other day - I just searched for "twin births" and of course a thousand clips pop up..... I found myself, for the first time, sobbing uncontrollably over the prospect of finally meeting my babies! Finally holding them, touching them, kissing them, gazing at them, being with them.... Being... a family. Taking their feet prints, sending out birth announcements, taking their first photographs, witnessing their very first smile.... And then I'll snap my fingers, as my good friend Kathy has, and I'll be doing dishes in the kitchen, and my teenage son or daughter will come up behind me, reach his or her arms around me in a tight hug and tell me "I love you mommy." Is that not what life is about? I'll sign up for that every single day. ------------------ In other news, I'll be 13 weeks along tomorrow, the countdown has begun until 9.16.08 - the next ultrasound and hopefully the day where we can learn the genders of our kids..... Our (my) grand plan goes like this: family jewels will be clearly visible but I will instruct the ultrasound tech to have us turn away during the investigation of the nether regions. He or she will then write our much anticipated news down on the beautiful card that I have brought along with me. He or she will then seal the envelope with said card, and the information will remain confidential, until, 9.24.08, our 3rd wedding anniversary. We will sit at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse together, as we have for the past two years on that date, and open the card, together, and find out what the genders of our children are. We will also salute Big Joe since it is also his birthday. Pretty cool plan, eh? I'll be so grateful if that's how it really happens. I've put a lot of heart into that plan. So cross your fingers, do a dance, you get it. And I'd love for you to, if you haven't, vote!! You'll see your chance to vote on the right of this page - down a ways.... Out of the 4 people who have voted, 50% of you think we're having 2 girls - which ruins my chances of dancing with my sons at their weddings dammit. -------------- Other noteworthy items.... I was yelled at by the husband of a bridesmaid at my wedding on Saturday (which was really beautiful and a sweet shooting day for me), for drinking a Monster energy drink. He congratulated me on the twins, news of which had spread like wildfire throughout the day, like usual, and then proceeded to tell me "You should really lay off the Monster though" as if he were a good friend who was privy to a Monster-binge issue that I have been struggling with. "The tuarine and ginseng and guarana aren't good for the babies." I was so tempted to counter with "I know, and neither is that gallon of vodka and RedBull you drank today. Your liver is pissed." The only time you'll ever catch me drinking Monster is on a wedding day, through which I would not make it, upright at least, without a little help. The babies will be fine. Mostly I found it humorous, especially after he fell over on Molly the Trolley, and chalked it up as the first installment of many unsolicited pieces of advice that I will continue to get throughout this pregnancy. ---------------- Have a great evening everyone! And if you're in the market - you should try Low Carb Monster energy drink - it's a lifesaver when you have a 12 hour day in front of you carrying around 50 pounds of gear to 5+ locations and you're pregnant with twins. -------------- LASTLY: Check out my YouTube page to see the video I shot of the babies at my 12 week ultrasound last week. It's not great video, but if you watch close you can see Baby A move around. So cute!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Reading is bad for your health.

So a good number of women in today's Age of Information know about the famed Babycenter.com site, where you can, the instant you discover you're pregnant - or even before, go and gorge yourself with information about the magical event of pregnancy and childbirth.... There really is a wealth of information on the site, and they'll send you, if you sign up, a weekly newsletter telling you that your baby (or babies in my case) is (are) the size of a lentil bean, then blueberry, then fig, then lime, so on. I'm convinced it's an attempt to coerce us into eating more produce, because all we really want to eat is brownies, crab Rangoon and Apple Jacks cereal. There is also a board that you can go on where you can talk to other pregnant chicks - a lot of innocent back and forth about everything and anything you can imagine pertaining to the topic of pregnancy and childbirth, (examples of topics: "how to deal with rude pregnancy comments," "cool cribs," "will you carry your baby around in a sling?" "have you been in the mood?" "My experience with hemorrhoids." Seriously, no stone goes unturned with these chicks. "TMI! TMI!" I find myself thinking. Although, there are a lot of times (otherwise I wouldn't visit at least once a day) where I learn something - especially from the moms who have other kids, and also especially, if not exclusively, from the March Multiples board. There are some great ladies on there who are all in the same boat as me, a lot of them pregnant for the first time, with twins. We all kind of keep an eye on each other and post belly pix and ultrasound pix (okay, I really only care about the pictures, let's face it) and talk about how we're feeling and how fat we're getting. I'm one of the thinner of the bunch, which is always encouraging - because I'm vein like that. Kidding. Not really. ---------- Although my experience with this board has been really positive - I really feel like I'm part of a little community within this group of women - sometimes it can turn into a train wreck. I bring this up because I just recovered a few minutes ago from an episode of uncontrollable sobbing due to the news posted by one of the ladies that her nuchal translucency scan (the "blah blah blah" scan that I referred to in my last post), came back extraordinarily high on one of her babies, like a 5.6 or something (they like for the number to be closer to 1). I can't tell you what that number means but I can tell you it's not good. It means that it is highly likely that that particular baby has Down's Syndrome, or worse, Trisomy 13 or 18, which in most cases results in death. Even worse (yes, it gets worse) is that that particular baby, Baby A, just may in fact die in utero, causing, of course, irreparable heartbreak to mom and dad, but also putting mom's and Baby B's health in jeopardy. ----------- I know things happen. I know that everyone has a plan. But situations like this make me want to question that - and enclose myself in bubble wrap and sit on the couch for the next 24 or so weeks. This woman's story breaks my own heart - I don' t know her, or her husband, or her son (which - again it gets worse - is a surviving twin from a previous multiple pregnancy that was reduced from triplets. Mom delivered tragically prematurely at 24 weeks, proving the demise of one of the twins and leaving the surviving son to struggle in the NICU for 115 days - he's now a healthy 5 year old). I don't think she's ever robbed the Shriner's Hospital trust fund, or ran over an old lady and drove off not reporting it.... She didn't mention any of that anyway. Just a regular woman, wanting so badly to have a child. Tragedies where children are lost are infuriating to me, although I understand that those cases are supposed to teach us humility, and that life is fragile. I find myself praying, a lot... more than I ever have before.... And I just hope it's enough to keep my children safe. That's about all we can do, right? There really is only so much a person can take, I feel, before their soul is damaged beyond repair. I'm not sure that you ever truly recover from burying a child - regardless of how old. Sorry if this brought on bouts of uncontrollable sobbing for anyone, back to puppies and roses on the next post, promise. Lesson: you can, in fact, read too much. I'm taking a break from Babycenter for a few days.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Who would have thought......

...I'd be starting a brand new blog, knowing that I would have a whole lot more to talk about (if that's even possible), after receiving the news that not only are Kristian and I expecting our first child, but that we are expecting our first children. I'll back up just a bit, to early June. I took the above photo ("Three Little Birds") in my back yard during a very mild, gorgeous evening, ironically enough while I was sitting wondering if and nervously hoping that a child would grace our lives soon. I love this photo because the bird in flight is getting ready to land - symbolic of the moment I was in at that very instance. I don't believe in coincidences and I'm happy that I was aware enough of what was presenting itself to me - and that I had a camera. The bird in flight couldn't, I'd soon enough find out, be taken too literally, since he didn't have a friend with him! (The birds on the right are obviously mom and dad). -------- The day I (finally) got a positive home pregnancy test (I swear those things are like crack), was no doubt a joyous one, although I'm a bit disappointed in myself for not waiting for Kristian to actually get home before I told him.... I called him while he was fishing with Nick. The conversation was pretty brief as I don't think either of us knew what to say. I could hear his smile though. It is an indescribable feeling telling your husband, your best friend, that he is going to be a dad. It was the first of many days through this experience (even as short-lived as it is at this point) that truly felt like Christmas morning. -------- Our first ultrasound was scheduled for July 15th, with me at 6 weeks along. We had been counting down the days to see our tiny little "Leroy" as we had been calling him or her and just sat there grinning from ear to ear at each other in the waiting room of my OB's office. The ultrasound experience in itself is incredible - seeing the tiny, indecipherable blob that is the beginnings of your brand new child... And seeing the tiny, beautiful flicker of it's beating heart - affirming that it is really happening, you're really pregnant, you're really going to be a mom, and the Yahoo next to you is going to be your baby's daddy. :) I really don't ever remember feeling such a pure sense of joy as I did at that moment - except maybe for when Kristian and I married each other, but we were dressed better that day, certainly. I seriously could have laid there all day, I was fascinated, humbled. Then...... (and this is where the proverbial shit hit the fan - cue Airplane scene), the cutie ultrasound tech, Nicole, ever so matter-of-factly made her way over to... "And you know what this is over here, right?" Baby B. As in, there is also a Baby A. "SHUT UP!!" I yelped, throwing my hands over my face which had exploded with simultaneous laughter and crying.... What followed is kind of a blur - you know like when you can't remember what happened after the car first crashed..... I don't even remember poor Nicole leaving the room - although I'm certain I hugged her before she exited. All you ever really remember in those scenarios is how you feel - and what I felt was overwhelming fear, joy and disbelief. I'm not sure how long we stayed in the ultrasound room - it felt like three minutes but it was probably closer to 15 - of which I wish I had video. Stunned mothers were called first, then the rest of all of the family members, and then mere days later, pretty much everyone else on the planet. I would wait, however, 12 weeks to start the blog. :) ------- Yesterday was another day full of nervous anticipation - our 12 week anomaly/nuchal translucency scan (blah blah blah). I was just excited about getting to see the babies again - we've finally settled into the mind set that this is really happening to us, and that we wouldn't want it any other way. I have been a broken record since, oh, our last ultrasound: "I can't wait to see them, I hope they're okay...." "Why wouldn't they be?" Kristian firmly comforts me, everyday. I was pleasantly surprised with the bonus that Dr. Streiff, my OB, also wanted to do an ultrasound! Our appt. was scheduled before the blah blah blah scan, so what a relief to see them before I expected to - and to see them, beautiful, growing, thriving! They looked exactly what they needed to look like, exactly what I anticipated. Baby A is a mover and a shaker, Baby B was in chill mode. Check them out below - does the profile of Baby A (bottom baby) not look like KK?! Whoa.

They are so beautiful. So anyhow, if you made it through this novella, you've made the team. I'm so excited about chronicling this journey - there will be many peaks and valleys I'm sure.... We really do draw on the strength of our bond with our friends and family, so please leave as many comments, well-wishes, advice, scolding, suggestions, etc. that you deem neccessary! We feel blessed beyond words for what God has given us - not only recently with the twins, but through our whole lives - having met each other, lived a beautiful, fun and love-filled life together, armed with the knowledge that it only gets better from here. Thanks for taking the time to share in our joy.