The Christmas Jar & A New Year's Resolution

The night before we left for the Texas Tour 2009, we were cooking dinner when we heard a knock on the door. We weren't expecting anyone so we didn't exactly sprint over to see who was there. When I did finally make it to the door, wiping spaghetti sauce off my hands, I found no one at the door, but instead a beautiful Christmas bag.

Bewildered, I carried inside to show Matt and not to be one to hesitate when opening presents, I immediately tore into it. I didn't see a card which was confusing to me --- but inside I found a large plastic jar brimming with dollar bills and coins...and a book called "The Christmas Jar".

Ever more confused, I started flipping through the book trying to find some indication of what the gift was about and who may have given to us. After skimming the intro and then the back pages (a cardinal sin to someone like me who is a HUGE reader), I discovered the purpose and meaning of the jar.

Someone (and we'll probably never know who) had collected change all year long and then prayed about who should anonymously receive the jar --- and that was us.

At first I was confused. I looked over at our Christmas tree which had a group of presents underneath ready for family and friends.

Why us?

And then we realized.

Not us.

For Matt's parents.

If you've read this blog for awhile, you may know that both of his parents were diagnosed with cancer within the last 2 months. Couple that with some other financial hardships in their lives, and well..it's been a tough year to say the least.

We fully believe this jar was intended for them and we were able to give it to them this past week along with a copy of the book "The Christmas Jar". The coolest thing is that his mom is now carrying the book around in her purse and has shared with all of her friends what it was all about - and has probably inspired many others to start Christmas Jars of their own.

Sometimes I am just blown away by people. Just when you think this world may be going off the deep end with people becoming more callous and bitter every day, God just up and reminds you that His Love is shining through ordinary people -and they're doing extraordinary things.

I wish I knew who gave us the jar - but I'm not sure a simple "thank you" would be enough. The money is wonderful obviously and will be incredibly helpful for Barbara and David - but more than that, it was a jar of Hope to us - and a reminder of all things good.

This year, as everyone makes their New Year's Resolutions and pledges to do all sorts of things for ourselves - exercise more, eat less, or quit smoking - why don't we do something to help others? Visit www.christmasjars.com and learn how you can be a blessing in another person's life next Christmas. Maybe dust off that empty mason jar or clean out that old coffee can, and start throwing in your extra change. We can all be lights of Hope next year.

Have a blessed and safe New Year,

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Random Christmas '09

Well, Christmas 2009 consisted of our usual "Texas Tour" - wherein we travel the triangle from Houston to Austin to Dallas and back to Houston. We feel incredibly blessed to be back in Texas so we can even attempt the TX tour, but I must admit it is pretty tiring - and I am already looking forward to next year when everyone comes to Houston for Christmas. No way I am throwing two 6 month olds into the car for that extravaganza. So it will be our selfish year.

Anyway, Christmas was wonderful. We began in Austin to see Matt's family and to catch up with a few friends. Fun as always, but a little bittersweet because of his dad's health. We managed to throw back our share of tamales (a Clanahan Christmas tradition) along with other wonderful goodies. With everything going on in his family, we all decided to forgo gifts for each other - except for our princess niece Riley, of course - and just concentrate on what is truly important, which is each other. While there is something special about finding that "perfect" gift, it is definitely wonderful to just be able to enjoy each other's company as a gift. On the Wednesday before Christmas I went and had a manicure with Riley and my mother-in-law. So fun and Riley was an angel the whole time. She had her special chair and the manicurist treated her to snowmen on her toes and Santas on her fingers. Too cute.

Christmas Eve morning we packed up again and headed up to Dallas amid rumors of afternoon snow showers. Sure enough, as we made our way up 35 - down came the snow flurries. So pretty! Of course, we had to stop at our favorite Czech bakery off of 35 and pick up a few kolaches. Normally I don't allow myself such a luxury but being pregnant has completely destroyed any sort of willpower I previously had.

And it was scrumptious.

The feeding frenzy continued all through Christmas thanks to my mom's cooking and my sister-in-law's mad baking skills. I must have eaten a pound of white chocolate. In fact I get a little nauseated to even type "white chocolate". Somehow it became perfectly normal to have breakfast and wash it down with an Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookie. As always, spending Christmas up at my mom's was absolutely wonderful. I just love all of our traditions and I can't wait until Matt and I can have our own traditions for our kiddos. We were completely spoiled by presents from my mother as usual, but it's not so much the actual present that means so much - but her heart and thought behind it.

Top of the list had to be the amazing little camcorder to start recording memories of our soon-to-be family. What a great gift - and so appreciated - love you, Mom! Of course, that favorite is quickly followed by an amazing pair of maternity pants she got me, appropriately named "The Perfect Pant" --- which are by the way, perfect. They have not left my body in 2 days so I am semi-obsessed. But to wear a pair of pants and not have to hold in my stomach --- well, I just can't explain the sheer joy I feel about that. Especially considering the non-stop eating as of late.

After 4 full days in Dallas, we finally headed back yesterday to Houston. However, as soon as we got back, Matt turned around and left for Austin. His father is now in the hospital and has a few different scary things going on. I will be heading there soon as well. Please continue to keep their family in your prayers - and specifically pray that his Dad will be comfortable and out of pain.

Of course, through the midst of all of that, our little miracle M&M's continue to shine hope into our lives. I had an appointment with the OB this a.m. and finally had my first abdominal ultrasound --- no more probing, yay!!! (My FE's office only had the probe kind of ultrasound). The babies both measured wonderfully with great heartbeats - and they were moving around like crazy. Guess they must be like their daddy and actually be morning people. Definitely not like their mom, for sure!

Baby B had both hands up the entire time like he/she was on a little roller coaster and Baby A kept trying to stick his/her fingers in their mouth the entire time. It still boggles my mind that you can see all that! I have an ultrasound scheduled again for the 25th of January to find out what "flavor" the M&M's are. My patience is certainly being tested with that but I guess if I waited 2 years to even get the M&M's in my belly, I can wait another few weeks for that appointment. I'm a little sad that I won't see my babies every week like I have been used to, but kind of relieved that I only have to go to the OB every 2 weeks for now instead of every week. Anyway, that's all the baby news for now!!!

Hope you and yours had a wonderful Christmas holiday and cheers to a blessed 2010 for you all!

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Graduation Day!

Today was a big day. I officially graduated (sans cap and gown) from my "baby-making" doc and have been released to my "baby-maintenance" doc. What a huge relief to finally get my walking papers after 3-4 loooonnnggg months! Although I must say it was sort of bittersweet -- after all, the staff there has literally held my hand every step of the way. I sincerely love them and will miss seeing their smiling faces every week. They know so much about me and have held my hand through the tears and the joys.
I brought them some Christmas cookies and candies today as a thank you - but as soon as I handed it to them with my little card - it just seemed so insignificant. I mean, just how do you thank people who had a hand in actually creating life inside you??? I don't think Betty Crocker's finest quite does the trick. Oh well. I gave them the gift anyway and choked out my heartfelt thanks as I sprinted out of there before I completely lost it.
But onto the next chapter - and oh, that magical 12 week mark that I hit this past Saturday. It hasn't been as magical for me yet as it is for some people. I am still insanely exhausted with twinges of headaches that threaten to blow up on me. But 12 weeks does bring a huge measure of comfort and relief that wow, kids... we have made it this far! Only gosh, what - 28 weeks to go? Seems like forever. Patience has never been my most redeeming quality.

I know I haven't posted in awhile. I have had tremendous blogger's block, coupled with that aforementioned exhaustion - so my urge to write has been somewhat comprimised. Did I mention the headaches?

Seriously, there should be another word for them - headaches, migraines, whatever. Doesn't do it justice. At least it didn't last week.

Last Sunday I woke up with the all too familiar dull pounding in my head. Popped a couple of Tylenol which seemed to hold it at bay for awhile. Then my jaw started killing me. (I have horrendous TMJ thanks to years of stress-induced nightly teeth grinding and nothing.works.to.cure.that). When the jaw pain sets in, that is usually a sign that it is going to travel right back up to my head.

And sure enough Monday, that's what it did. I had just enough energy to make it through the day Monday - but by Tuesday.... oh. my.

Nothing could cure this bad boy. Not all the Tylenol with codeine in the world. Once I started getting nauseated and could not eat anything, then I just started getting frustrated. I called my OB who couldn't see me until the next day. No good. So I jumped in the car with blinding pain and drove myself to the urgent care - ONLY TO BE SHOWN THE DOOR BECAUSE THEY DON'T TREAT PREGNANT WOMEN DUE TO THE LIABILITY.

Thanks for nothing.

Got home, called my ob again and begged for relief. Without seeing me, she didn't want to prescribe anything else and asked me who my neurologist was. What?? Dude, I maybe had one or 2 migraines a year before this little thing called pregnancy. Neurologist is one of the few types of doctors I've never seen. So anyway, her final rec - go to the ER.

At this point, I was so miserable she could have told me to drive out to the beaches of High Island, jump in the water and do handstands for 30 minutes and I would have done it.

So I called the poor hubby (who has gotten more phone calls like this than I care to admit) and told him that I needed to go to the hospital. I am sure he was just thrilled. But he came home anyway and off to the ER hell we went.

I'll spare you most of the details of our 6 hour ordeal, but I will leave you with one bit of advice. Never ever say you just have a headache. That throws you down to the bottom of the list so fast your head will spin. Next time, I think I will mention that I have a little abdominal pain (which I did - but from nausea) and oh, by the way - I'm pregnant with twins. Actually, they knew that, they just didn't care since it was "just" my head.

Anyway, once we finally saw a doc, after crying to the poor accounting woman who just came in our room to collect the copay, they gave me what was supposed to be my savior shot of morphine and some anti-nausea thing. I asked how long it would take to feel some relief and they said about 10-15 minutes.

10 minutes passed. Nothing. 20 minutes. NOTHING. 30 minutes. DID IT JUST GET WORSE??

So I writhed in pain for an extra 30 minutes until they mercifully gave me some other shot with a name I can't pronounce -- but safe for babies, let me just say that.

After making sure it was truly better and that I was holding down food, they finally released me much to my exhausted hubby's relief. On the way home, I had a hankering for Chick Fil A... and well, let's just say, their whole "holding down food" test didn't quite work. It was a fun car ride home. And a fun night. I was so irritated to have broken my non-puking pregnant woman streak that I almost forgot about my head. Almost.

Until I woke up to that all too familiar pounding the next morning. And I promptly went back to sleep for 5 more hours. I'm happy to say that the migraines have been kept away as of recent, thank God. I am none to eager to visit the ER again soon, especially since I have picked up a lovely little cold - my first in a couple of years - from my little foray.

And now your day is probably complete after reading this inane post on my migraine trauma.

And if it's not, perhaps this will just make your day - my 12 week belly pic - which looks more like my "ate 14 Christmas cookies followed by 3 slices of cake" belly. But it is what it is. Actually, it's less for you than it is for me - I have decided the chances of my children getting some sort of beautifully made scrapbook is about nil and the best I can do is have this blog printed into a keepsake book.

Thus the pictures. And all the stupid details on just seemingly ordinary "stuff". They might care one day that they sent their mom to hospital with "just" a headache.

Or they may not.

And that's ok, too.

12 week pregnant belly pic.

The kiddos are the sizes of limes this week. Pardon the elastic band jeans. They are comfy. Although I feel strangely that I am 3 years old again and should be wearing a diaper with the stretchy band. Oh, and there's no face shot. There won't be until my skin decides to be on it's best behavior again.

Hope you all are enjoying this magical holiday season. And in case I don't post again before Christmas (which based on my track record as of late, there's a pretty good shot at that), have a wonderful and blessed Christmas Day!

In Him,

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An Unexpected Gift

So today I had my weekly ultrasound and I received the most unexpected gift.

If you've read the past few entries of this blog, you know things have been kind of rough in this neck of the woods. Matt's parents are both ill and I apparently have lost all semblance of reason and crash cars through garage walls. Today was an especially tough day because Matt's dad had his first appointment at MD Anderson and we are expecting to find out the course of treatment and prognosis sometime tomorrow.

So things haven't exactly "light" around the house lately to say the least. And I have been in kind of a funk, which doesn't help matters. I am totally in that bad self-esteem pregnancy stage where I am just feeling chunky monkey and all the food I am eating is going to my face and thighs and not my belly. And couple that with the new fresh array of zits lighting up my face... well, yup - let's just say I am not glowing yet. Although someone told me the other day that my face "looked beautiful and just like a moon". Ummm, excuse me, but that doesn't really sound like a compliment to me --- moon face??

Anyway, moving on before I dive too deeply in my pit of self-despair.

So I think the babies knew that Mommy & Daddy needed some good news today. I had a nice little chat with them on the way to the appointment. I told them I would pretty please like for them to smile nicely in just one picture with the 2 of the together. I also told them to be total show-offs, show us all what you can do and how much you have grown. (Side Note: This should not be considering a forewarning for me being a stage mom, right??)

Ok, back to the probe/ultrasound - right away the two most adorable aliens pop up on the screen. That's the only way to describe them at this point. Alien-like (although they are the size of kumkuats this week in case you want to look that up) But they are bascially huge heads and bodies. The huge head part doesn't surprise me - they're coming from Matt & I's stock, and we have notoriously large noggins.

So as he is doing his thing, capturing heartrates (166 for B) (158 for A), and take measurements, I am just starting at awe at the camera. Then.

"What was that? Did you just move something around"

"Nope, that was all baby moving around there."

AWWWWWW our babies are moving - quite a lot in fact. It touched me in a way that was unexpected. Today I just thought I was going in for the weekly deal, check it all out, make sure we still had heartbeats and growth and then be out of there. So to see this, on a totally unexpected day, was completely amazing for me.

Tears did flow for the first time since we initially saw our "spots" on the sonogram.

In the midst of all the darkness, chaos and the storms in our lives, there are 2 growing little babies, discovering new things everyday as they develop into our children. They are blissfully protected from the outside stress - so that's my biggest goal right now - not to let my stress affect one iota of their development. That's my job now, The Protector. Couldn't think of anything else I'd rather watch over than these precious two.

I only wish that during all their movement they somehow could have held up a little signal, like "Hey,I'm a girl" or "Here's your boy!". I guess that would have been too much to ask :) 6 weeks and hopefully we will know and then this can really get serious.

Anyway, that's all I gots for right now - it's late and I have the pure excitement of driving to the courthouse tomorrow morning to plead my case as to why I should be exempted from serving on a jury. Those M&M's will serve as primary reason #1 and #2, followed closely by my argument that I am allergic to eggs, thus cannot receive the H1N1 vaccine and shouldn't be around people at all. And I have a couple of others in my back pocket just in case that's not enough for them. I feel bad, 6 months ago, I would have been happy and perhaps even excited to give it a shot. Right now, no. Not a good season. Try me back later Fort Bend County.

Y'all have a great week. Please continue to keep my Father -in-law, David in your prayers.


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