Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Light at the end of the tunnel

I wrote a blog post while on the airplane to Oklahoma. I didn't post it. I was upset at Karyn's doctor. I felt like she wasn't getting the care she deserves. The specialist that she's seeing for her thyroid tumor is on vacation and we're anxiously awaiting news. Any news. Something that will tell us where we stand. When she needs to have surgery. I blasted the doctor pretty good. It helped me to get what I was feeling off of my chest. It was hateful though, so I didn't post it. Karyn got a call on Monday from her OBGYN. He had received the results from the specialist office. He wants us to wait until after the babies are here for surgery. The tumor is "active" but slowing progressing. I still lean toward a second opinion but I know Karyn trusts this doctor and so do I. He's not going to take any chances. The specialist will continue to monitor things during the pregnancy and she'll have surgery after the twins are here. Keep praying for her. Pray for her doctors too. They have a big responsibility and they are only human. I sometimes get a big head and think we're the only couple on the planet expecting. We have to do things in God's time. I trust Him to protect her and the twins.

I just got back from a work trip to Oklahoma. It's a trip where we visit customers that are several months past due on their mortgages. We visit when we have no other contact with them. It can be a little scary at times but the overtime is good. With twins on the way, any extra money coming in is a good thing. We were chased by dogs, ignored by some customers, and cussed by others. It wasn't too bad though. I've been on worse trips. I missed Karyn and the boys a lot. I could tell they were as excited to see me as I was them. I love to travel but coming home always feels great. I don't think I'll be going on anymore work trips this year. Karyn is getting pretty far along now and I want to be here to help. Football season is here too so my Saturdays are taken. Don't judge me unless you've been to Neyland in the Fall. There's nothing, anywhere, like it.

Karyn's car was totaled out by the insurance company from the hail storms we had in April. It's a blessing and a curse. We're happy to have that piece of poop paid off but finding another vehicle is tough. I think we're going with a mini-van. Neither Karyn or myself are excited about a mini-van but it's needed for a family of 6. We're trying to find a reliable one at a reasonable price. It seems that most in our price range have higher mileage than we would like. Once again, we shall pray. I've mentioned a station wagon to Karyn but get the "stare of death". I don't think I could talk her into it if there was one available that baby-sat while you grocery shopped. It's a no go. A short bus would use too much gas. Mini-van it is. The search is on. We may have to rent a car for her until we find one. They're calling us to schedule a pickup of her car.

We're a little more than one week away from knowing the sex of the twins. I can't wait. We're both very excited. Karyn is now 18 weeks. It seems like forever since we found out we're expecting. This will be our next big mile marker on the road to delivery. Karyn is doing a great job of keeping her sanity. I can't (and won't) even explain everything we've been through in just the past month. It's been a roller coaster ride of ups and downs. Our emotions have traveled a bumpy path. We'll continue to be a rock for each other and lean on God. We pray. When I feel anxious or overwhelmed, I get quiet. I've had several people check on me since I haven't been my outgoing self. I'm ok. It just feels like I'm in a haze sometimes and just coasting through. My brain shuts down and I run off of instinct. Work has been a nightmare lately. They keep adding stuff to my duties and while I appreciate that they trust me to take on more, I can only do so much. I don't want to get burned out. I love my job. I just have to balance everything. Easier said than done, I suppose.

Thank you to everyone for your continued prayers. I know there's light at the end of the tunnel. I feel like we're the ones in the birth canal. Hoping someone will pull us out and smack our bottoms soon. Ok, maybe we could skip the spanking. I think life has given us enough of those for now.

*Note* I've posted 8 times a month, every month, since starting this blog. August will only have 7. It's a good reminder that sometimes what you DON'T say is just as important. The missing blog post means something too.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Back to the country

It's been a little while since I posted. It took some time to get caught up from our trip to my grandparents. The trip was incredible. Better than I could have ever dreamed. Everyone had a great time spending time with everyone. Dad took the grand kids on a ride on Grandma's golf cart. They seemed to really enjoy that. They got to feed apples to miniature horses, they caught lizards, frogs, praying mantis, and they got to see a black widow up close. It's fun getting back to the country. Back to nature. What kid wouldn't love being outside with all of the animals? The bigger kids (me, my brother, my sister, and our spouses) had a great time as well. Me, my brother, and brother in law took turns target practicing with my AK. My uncle Steve has a huge farm and there's a corner set aside to shoot stuff. It's amazing how relaxing that can be. I had left my clip at home so we had to manually load the shells in one by one. It didn't seem to bother anyone. Isaiah got his first chance to shoot a rifle (with my help, of course). He was thrilled. Spending time with Brian and Matt makes me want to schedule a "Man's Weekend" every year. I know several families that do it and I will make it happen, if possible.

Karyn stayed indoors as much as possible. The A/C is just too great to pass up for a pregnant woman. I can totally understand that. That allowed time for bonding with my sister and sister in law. They seemed to have a great time chatting with Grandma and watching Grandpa sleep in his favorite recliner. It was a lot of fun seeing reactions to the kids bringing their latest capture to show off. My Grandma isn't a big fan of things that crawl or hop. My grandma awoke Sunday morning to a frog in her sink. Not sure how it got there. We're going with "He found his way there on his own." Who knows. My family of four (plus two in the oven) stayed at their house. My brother and sister got hotel rooms. This gave me a chance for some one on one conversations with Grandma. I cherish these and I always will. I'm sure I'll write all about it soon.

Grandpa looks great. Last time I saw him, he wasn't doing so well. With the help of physical therapists and regular nurse visits, he's back on the right track. He sang a song to my brother. A catchy little ditty about something. Every morning he gets up and finds Grandma to give her a kiss. She said he does it every morning and every night before going to sleep, he touches her on her shoulder and says "I love you.". Inspiring. He talked to me about coming to East Tennessee some years back and visiting Norris Lake. He remembers catching all the blue gill. They loved him there and he was told to come back fishing there anytime. He was allowed to fish in a spot that you're not usually allowed to fish in. The game warden allowed it. Must be the Smith charm but we do get some pretty sweet perks. My grandpa worked hard in his life. He was in the Army. Horseback. People have come from Fort Campbell to interview him about his time in the Army. I haven't had a chance to see the interview yet. I will track it down, though. Grandma told me of how she "stole" him. They went to church together and he was seeing another girl. She went up to him and gave him an ultimatum. The other girl came up to him after church service and asked if he was coming with her. He left with Grandma and the rest is history. 68 years of marriage later and you can tell they still love each other the same. Absolutely priceless.

I went to the Titans game with my brother in law and had a great time. Karyn took the boys swimming with my nieces while we were gone. I picked them up after dropping Matt off.We all joined back up on Sunday for breakfast before hitting the road back home. My dad will be going back to Brazil in the next week or so. We're back at work. I've called Grandma a few times since we left. I miss them already. I can't wait to go back. Maybe the twins will be here by then. I saw a picture there of my cousin Ben holding his twin babies. One was 4 lbs 2 oz and one was 4 lbs 5 oz at birth. I haven't seen Ben in forever but we used to get in trouble together. We once set one of my grandparents' neighbor's houses on fire with stray bottle rockets. To which my grandma defended us with her life. She told them it wasn't us. No way. He and I need to catch up. Life does go on. Way too fast. Enjoy your family while you have them. Once they're gone, they're gone. Only memories survive. I have so many great stories to tell my kids about my family. I'm so proud.


Karyn's doctor's appointment for her thyroid has been rescheduled. We were planning on knowing where we stand on urgency of surgery. As of now, we're still in limbo. If we're going to do it during the pregnancy, it has to be soon or it won't be as safe. She's still having issues with breathing and her throat feels scratchy. We were able to get the doctor to approve a temporary disability tag for her. At least she won't have to walk very far from her car to get where she's going. We've been feeding her cravings of Dunkin' Donuts, funnel cake from IHOP, and lots of fresh fruit. I know how badly she would like a Starbuck's right now but she's able to resist the urges for the well being of the babies. She is a wonderful mother and I'm so proud to call her my wife. Isaiah is getting used to kindergarten. He has a first year teacher and she seems to really love him. He's a lot more tired at night since he's been at school all day. We'll call that a win. Jason is loving 5th grade so far and seems to be doing well. He's a typical boy. Always coming home with bumps and bruises. I love my boys.

We've started the process of "nesting". We're trying to clean every inch of this house like it's going to stay clean for the next 4-6 months for the babies' arrival. We stay so busy with everyday life since we both work full time jobs that it's hard to keep up. I have a bunch of projects to complete before they get here. Repairs, painting, and shelf building to name a few. We'll get it done. There's a lot of stuff that I write that doesn't end up in this blog but will end up in the book I make for the twins. I can't say enough how much I appreciate the support of our friends and family. Our life wouldn't be possible without them. The counseling, the prayers, and even the shoulders to cry on from time to time. I thank you.

Oh and it's 13 days until FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE! I'm sure several posts will be dedicated to the Big Orange. It wouldn't be a blog from my perspective without it. Trust God. Love your family. And Go Vols.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Life is too short

God and Family.

That's all that matters. I pray my children understand this. God will get you through the hard times. He'll often use family to help. I remember being at my lowest point. I was getting divorced, I was unemployed, I was hurt. My sister gave me a greeting card that she had written little quotes and bible verses in. One of the quotes was "God won't close one door without opening another." Those words still give me chills and I still have the card. I ended up spending forever with Karyn. What a great door he had opened for me. For the most part, my family is close knit. We have our moments like any other family. There are some members that won't talk to other members. That's none of my business. Sometimes I feel like I'm stuck in the middle because I want a relationship with my entire family. I won't hold a grudge. Life is too short. If my family doesn't take the time to keep up with my life, that's ok. I still want to know that they are safe and healthy and I would do anything for them.

I'm not perfect in any way. I'm going to make mistakes as a parent. I pray that my children will forgive me when I screw up. I can't imagine living a life without my kids being a part of it. I promise to forgive my children's mistakes and help them get back on track. I've learned a lot from my parents. Hard work, sacrifice, respect, understanding, love, and forgiveness. To name a few. I can't tell you how many jams my parents bailed me out of. I'm trying to raise my children in an environment that nurtures them and demonstrates the value of God and family.

We're visiting my grandparents this weekend. My dad's mom and dad. My grandpa will be 95 this year and my grandma will be 87. They've been blessed with a long life and a long marriage (68 years). They are what I aim to be. Down to earth, Christian people. My grandpa struggles to speak most of the time but when he does, he reminds me of the importance of being faithful to God. He tells me to be good to my wife. He's a great example of what a man should be. I'm very proud of him. My grandma is the most precious person you would ever meet. Everyone loves her. She doesn't get around very much but in her prime, nobody could cook better. Whether we had just ate or not, she would always prepare a feast upon our arrival. She taught me to gamble. Haha. There was game we would play called "Hulligull". She had a jar of pennies that was always less full after I played with her. I have to admit that she probably let me win. I've always felt loved around her. They were both fantastic gardeners. Grandma's flowers and Grandpa's tomatoes will always grow in my heart. I pray they get a chance to meet the twins.

I would love to see everyone united but it's out of my hands. It's in God's hands. Life is too short to carry around that useless load. If you are a member of my family or close circle of friends and you are reading this, I love you. I will always love you. I'm here for you and I always will be. After all, isn't that what family is all about? I think so.

15 Week Check Up

I arrived at 3:30 for a 3:45 appointment. My wife (always running late) arrived at 4ish. I'm sitting in the waiting room with 9 women. All but one seem to be expecting. As always, the tv is on Dr. Phil and he's mad about something. I'm typing on my Blackberry trying to ignore him. I've gotten a few strange looks. I want to tell them that I'm supposed to be here and I'm not weird. Not sure they would believe me anyway. This is just a check-up appointment so we should be out of here pretty fast. My wife is out of breath walking from the parking garage to the office. It's only going to get tougher from here. I suppose it would be a good idea to start riding together and drop her off at the front. I'm an idiot for not thinking of it sooner.

My lovely wife is sitting beside me talking nonstop about how she needs to pee. I say "go pee." She replies that they're going to need a "sample" and she'll just wait. I'm sure those babies resting on her bladder can't be much fun. Great. Now I have to pee just thinking about it. Wonder if anybody wants my sample?

This office is kind of plain. Yellow walls, brown chairs, black and white photos of babies. The decor is calming. They say music soothes the savage beast. I guess yellow soothes the pregnant woman. Whatever works. They put us in room 9. It's an exam room where they check on my wife's progress and talk about the pregnancy. I'm sitting in a chair in the corner that has a curtain hanging down that you can pull around and enclose yourself from the things the daddy doesn't need to see. Karyn has taken her spot on the exam table (seat thing) with stirrups. Man, I'm glad I'm a man right now. Always, but more than ever at this moment. I have great respect for what is happening.

The nurse checked her blood pressure, listened to her heart, and weighed her. They stuck her finger for the 2nd trimester screening. The 1st trimester screen was negative! YAY!! Thank You God. The nurse asked if there were any issues with Isaiah. My wife said no. I said there's one thing. He has the biggest, bluest eyes you've ever seen and can get anything he wants from anyone he meets. That, of course, is not what she meant. My wife told me that if I didn't stop joking so much, I wouldn't be invited to the next visit. Hormones.. *shrug*.

The doctor came in and we listened to heartbeats. They sound great. He said everything looks normal. Our next appointment is September 9th at 8:30. That's when we'll find out the sex of the babies. The wait is on!!! It's going to be a long 4 weeks. I can't wait to blog about it. If I'm allowed to come back. :)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

There's never enough

Car seats and band aids
Diapers and such
Pacifiers and bottles
There's never enough

Swings and walkers
A bear to hug
Cribs and beds
And a mobile above

Bath tubs and bibs
Maybe hair bows too
Night lights and monitors
To listen for you

Sunscreen and wipes
Johnson's "No Tears"
Tylenol for all of us
That's just the first year

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Northern Lady & A Southern Man

I was born and raised right here in East Tennessee. I grew up VERY southern. Fried chicken, sweet potato pie, and RC Cola. My wife is a northern girl. A transplant. She was born in IL, raised in Cleveland, OH, and later moved to NH. She eats things like parogies, snickerdoodles, and some kind of ginger ale that I can't remember the name of (Update: Vernors). This got me thinking about how our children have and will have the best of both worlds.

I'll show them The Great Smoky Mountains, Vols football games, how to golf on hills, and all the beauty that this area has to offer. I'll teach them about Andrew Jackson, Davy Crockett, and Sam Houston. I'll read them classics from Mark Twain. We'll count Baptist churches and Waffle Houses and see who has the most corners occupied. We'll probably spend some time in a rocking chair, whittling. We'll get our behinds dirty sitting on a muddy bank while we try to catch some bluegill. I'll have them out shooting guns and riding four-wheelers. We'll go to Nascar races. And Dirt track races. They'll get to experience southern music, the home of Elvis, and the gulf of Mexico. We'll sit in the sun, eating a hotdog, at a Braves game. There's a lot to say about the south. Mostly, it's the people. We make it what it is. Our people are strong, independent, lively, God fearing, "help your neighbor" spirited blessings for everyone to enjoy and admire. That's how I feel about it, anyway.

Karyn can teach them some of the things she grew up doing. I'm sure at some point she'll take them to see the house that they used in the filming of A Christmas Story. We'll take them to see the Red Sox play. She'll teach them to talk funny. "Pahk the cah in tha cahpaht". She will want to show them where the Browns play. Maybe visit King's Island or Cedar Point like she did as a kid. Share her love of lighthouses or take them to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She'll pass down the motherly love that was passed down to her. The kids will learn to love the northern people. Even if they are different from what they'll be around most of the time. They are fast paced, often unfriendly, unsweet tea drinking, hard working, family oriented, wind blown patriots. That's just the way I see it. ;)

There are some things that are common between the north and the south. We all love good food. Karyn and I both grew up watching John Wayne movies and both our parents had 40 foot long station wagons. Everybody loves a warm fire and spending time with the people we care about. At the end of the day, we're all Americans. Even if our cultures are worlds apart. I hope my kids respect and appreciate their heritage. On both sides.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

13 and a half weeks

We've had a busy week in the Smith house.

Isaiah starts kindergarten. We weren't as prepared as we thought we were. Mentally or otherwise. When we went to sign him up for school, we realized we needed the certified copy of his birth certificate. We took a trip to the health department. It was then that we saw the hospital had misspelled my name on Isaiah's birth certificate. They have me down as "ason". We have to file an amendment. We did get the copy we needed and took it to the school. We had to get shot records, dental records, and there's testing for kindergarten now. I didn't realize you could fail "Napping 101". His "testing" is later this afternoon. I took off half a day to be there. It's hard watching my baby grow up so much. It seems like just yesterday that I held him in my arms at the hospital. I was there for Jay's 1st day and Isaiah's 1st day. I wouldn't miss it. It made me think about how anyone can show up at 1st day or graduation but it's the days in between that matter. I'll be there for the days in between too. Just ask Jay. He started 5th grade. Wow. I have a 5th grader. I'm getting old. He went back to school yesterday. It seems kind of early in August to be back at school but he seems excited about it. He looked handsome in one of his new outfits. I reminded him to start the year off on a good note. To be nice. Even when you don't want to. Even when you don't have to. It's for your own good. I told him that the decisions you make today will follow you. Make the right ones. Decisions you can be proud of. I think he will.

I've spent the better part of this past week with my brother Brian. He's been helping me with Karyn's car. She had to have several things fixed on it and it's still a work in progress. Three straight days under a hood in 90+ degree heat is hard. I did it because I have to. It's my job. My brother helped because he wanted to. That's what family is all about. Looking out for each other. I pray my kids are all close. Siblings are pre-made best friends. I've had a blast spending time with my brother even if we were busting our knuckles in the process. These are times we can't get back and we have to savor them.

Aunt Shannon (my wife's sister) went into labor this morning. Her and her husband are expecting their second child. A boy. What an exciting time for our family. I can't imagine being a grandparent but I bet I would love it. And all these new grand babies within 6 months. Wow.

Speaking of grandparents, I just wanted to say how grateful I am for our family. They're so good to us. I came home the other day from work to find two huge boxes on our doorstep. They were full of packs of diapers from Grammy (Karyn's mom). Unbelievable. What a blessing. She also bought us a crib for the twins. I think we're getting the other crib from my sister, Angela. I cherish her. My mom has already volunteered to keep both babies when it's time for Karyn to go back to work. I'm not sure if she really knows what she's getting into with twins but neither do we. We'll all learn on the fly. I spoke to my grandmother who lives outside of Nashville yesterday. She offered some encouragement that was much needed. I ended the call with tears in my eyes. I have to get over and see her and my grandpa soon. She has impacted my life in ways I can't even explain. Family makes us who we are and I'm so proud of ours. Thank you for being awesome.

(Update on Karyn)

We really don't have any new news. We haven't been to the baby doctor in a while. We're in between visits. Her belly is growing a LOT. More than I expected. She's absolutely beautiful. She's craving things that she's never really cared for. Like popcorn. She tears through a bag like she's mad at it. She stays out of breath because of her thyroid. That issue is still unresolved. The specialist still hasn't called us back to tell us whether we need to wait on surgery or not. Hopefully, we'll get a second opinion regardless. Life is too precious to depend on a doctor to remember us (her) over his jet ski. We've discussed going to the "Cleveland Clinic". We've heard great things about it but with school being in now, not sure how we could make that happen. We are looking everywhere at specialists and will keep everyone updated. Our next baby doctor appointment is August 12 and Karyn has a follow up with throat specialist on August 19. Thank you for your prayers and please keep them coming.