Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Swagger Wagon and other updates

It's official. We're old. We are now the proud owners of a mini-van. The Swagger Wagon. Karyn has spent the past couple of months searching for vans and she finally found one she liked. It's a 2003 Mazda MPV. We were looking at Honda but in the end, this one fit our needs. It's not too big, not too small, and it rides great. It has an outlet in the very back for Jay to be able to charge his iPod. Rear A/C control to keep Isaiah busy. Two captains seats in the middle for the twins. Perfect. We're as excited as people who own a mini-van can be. I never thought Karyn or I would be driving a van but here we are. We don't have a choice if we want to go places as a family. We are soon to be a family of six and cars/suv usually only seat 5 unless there's a 3rd row seat. Usually suvs with a 3rd row seat guzzle gas. Now if Karyn will let me paint it like the A Team van, I'll be happy.

Grammy and Grampy (Karyn's parents) are coming into town this week for her brother's ordination. We have several things planned for their visit. There's really never enough time to spend with them since they live so far away. We're excited to see them and I know Karyn can't wait for someone, other than me, to rub the magic belly. She's getting big and pictures don't do it justice. You have to see her in person. She's 21 weeks now and growing. None of her old clothes fit her anymore. She is beautiful and now there's even more of her for me to love!

We're getting bunk beds for the boys. Scary thought. My brother and I always shared a room growing up and bunk beds were always our favorite. I preferred the bottom bunk and being older, I got it. My sons already have began arguing over who gets the top bunk. I think Jay will win since he's older and less likely to fall off climbing up. We still have to get the bedrooms "twin ready" and we're running out of time. Our schedules were already busy and now they're jam packed with "to do" items. It feels like we never stop moving. We'll rest when we retire, I suppose. I don't know about Karyn but I plan on golfing. A LOT when this 8-5 life ends.

We go back to the doctor for the twins on October 7. That will be the beginning of the bi-weekly appointments. That means we're getting close. Between October 7th & the end of the year is the period where we have to monitor Karyn for signs of early labor. With twins, the risk is always there. I will be taking bets on how many times we go to the hospital for Braxton Hicks. I'm a bit overprotective and I'm sure I'll be in panic mode everytime she grunts. She grunts a lot. Like a sasquatch with a bellyache and it'll only get more frequent. She's doing great under the circumstances and I'm proud of her.

When I said prayers with Isaiah last night at bed time, we prayed for the twins. We asked God to bless Audrey and Bailey. Isaiah said "Hehehe, Bailey." I asked him if he likes the name Bailey. He said "Yes!". I asked if he liked the name Audrey, he said "Meh." I guess you can't win them all. Both boys are very excited and anxious for their sisters to get here. I know they'll be great big brothers and look after the twins. I just hope they learn quickly that girls won't always laugh at their farts like brothers do. Poor girls. We'll keep praying for them.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Audrey Lynn & Bailey Kaye

Twin A & Twin B now have names! Audrey Lynn & Bailey Kaye. A & B. Fitting, we think. I know I had talked so much about Caroline but how could I name only one of my princesses that? We thought since they're twins and these names end in "ey", it would be perfect. We both love these names and agree that this is the right choice. We may never agree on two other names. The middle names are after mine and Karyn's moms. Laura Lynn & Janis Kaye. After all, we wouldn't be here today without our moms. I can't even begin to tell you how much my mom has meant to me. I will try though.

When I was a baby, I was sick a lot. I had tubes in my ears, my tonsils removed, and diagnosed with epilepsy (I outgrew it). There were a lot of nights when my mom would sit up all night with me and comfort her crying baby boy. She worked two jobs at times to support us after her and my dad divorced. She did her best to keep me out of trouble and when she failed, she was there by my side until I was back on track. When I've been at my lowest points, one thing has been constant. "Mommy". She instilled in me this love of kids and family. I wouldn't be the man I am today without that woman in my life. When myself, my brother, or my sister had friends visit our home, they all called my mom, mom. She's given birth to three kids and has adopted three more. She is what I've modeled my parenting after. She's a wonderful Christian woman and her prayers mean the world to me. I'm blessed and honored to have one of my daughters named after her.

I want to tell you about Karyn's mom but instead, I'll let her tell you what she's meant to her. I'm proud of the woman my wife is and I know a lot of it comes from "Mother".


*Note from Karyn*

My mom was always our glue. I don't know how else to explain it. My dad was in the ministry and always had an extra job or two, and with 4 growing kids at home, my mom had a lot to keep up with. Yet she would never let you see it. When the ministry called my dad elsewhere, she packed up everything and followed him without a second thought or complaint. We didn't have annual vacations or expensive clothes but my mom was the one who taught us those THINGS aren't what matters; and showed us what did. God, then family, then others. I never felt like I did without. She did what it took to keep us in line and made sacrifices so we wouldn't go without. She taught me the importance of being a lady, showing respect, and biting your tongue. She's the strongest woman I know.. she's our glue. Now our daughter will share her name.


So that part of our journey is done. On to the next part. In four short months (or less), we'll be preparing to welcome Audrey and Bailey into the world. We can't wait. We have a lot to accomplish before they get here so we better get going. Thank you for your continued prayers and love.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Daddy's little girls

I'm speechless. As you know, that's not like me. We found out Friday that the twins my wife is carrying are both girls. Daddy's little girls. We had an 8:30 appointment and arrived a few minutes early. They checked all of my wife's vitals and weighed her. Everything looks good. We go into exam room 5. An ultrasound room with a large flat screen on the wall to project the images seen on the monitor in front of the nurse performing the ultrasound. She said she's been doing ultrasounds for 20+ years so I'm confident in her expertise. She has Karyn lay back on the exam table and squirts 2 gallons of liquid on to her swelling belly. It caught her off guard because it wasn't cold. They keep the liquid in a warmer.

We started with Twin A. She's the one closest to my wife's cervix. She measured her head, her fibula, and we looked at her face. We could tell that her nose and lips are normal. We got to see the blood flow to her brain and the arteries in the umbilical cord. It was incredible. The nurse asked if we wanted to find out the sexes. Uh, yeah. How could we not? We're expecting twins and have two boys at home. She proceeded to scan Twin A's backside. I asked what we're looking for. We're looking for something or nothing. The only ultrasounds I've seen so far always have something. This one had nothing. IT'S A GIRL! I have chills writing this. We're having at least one girl. Karyn won't kill me. Yay! She told me that morning that I better wear my tennis shoes because "If they say two boys, you had better run." My wife is the constant joker. Not really but she has her moments. I wore my tennis shoes just in case. The nurse spent about 30 minutes after we found out the sex of Baby Girl A scanning and measuring and listening to her heartbeat. I was in awe. Baby Girl A was beautiful. As beautiful as an ultrasound can be. As beautiful as we can imagine her to be. I was ready to know about Twin B.

She moved over to Twin B and starting scanning. Heartbeat, measuring the head, measuring the bones, cord, and spine. All look great! It felt like an eternity waiting to know. We turn our attention once again to the backside. Once again.. There. Was. Nothing.... IT'S A GIRL! Wow! She's beautiful. TWO girls. Daddy's little girls. Two little Karyns. Fantastic. Incredible. Shocking but then again, not. We had prepared ourselves for whatever we may find out. I don't think we fully expected the news but were thrilled. How exciting. I wanted to keep watching the little movie stars on the big screen but I also knew I had to let the Grandmas know. I texted my mom and emailed my mother in law (at the exact same time , of course). I just said "GIRLS!!!". Then I posted "Daddy's little GIRLS" as my status. I may have temporarily broke the internets because my phone blew up. I had to turn it to silent so we could finish with the ultrasounds.

The girls look great! They both weigh 10 ounces and one measured at 19 weeks and 1 day. The other measured at 19 weeks and 2 days. They are neck and neck. That's exactly what we want. They're both getting the nourishment they need from Mommy. During the ultrasound we noticed that Baby Girl A kept kicking Baby Girl B in the head. Not cool Baby Girl A. No fighting with your sister! It's too soon for that. There will be plenty of time for that when you are teenagers. Ugh. We will be raising two babies, two two year olds, and two teenage girls as some point. Pray for us.

I'm so happy and excited! I don't really know what to expect. I know how little boys are. I know about baseball games, football, scrapped knees, and wrestling. I don't know a whole lot about hair bows, dresses, and make-up. I just know from what I've seen growing up with 5 sisters (2 older, 3 younger) and from watching my brother's daughters grow up. He has 4 daughters and my older sister has a little girl. They make me excited about having daughters of my own. I'm pretty sure we're going to need a house with 6 bathrooms. I'm pretty sure I will run off any possible boyfriends when they're teenagers. I'm positive they're going to have me wrapped around their tiny fingers. It's a new chapter in this Daddy's book. A new story to be told. A story that's kind of hard to tell when Daddy's little girls leave him speechless.

Friday, September 2, 2011

I Am Tennessee

Here it is. Football season. My favorite time of year. My favorite team is the University of Tennessee Volunteers. I was born a mile from the stadium at Ft. Sanders Hospital. So were my sons. My dad took me to my first game when I was 3 years old and I've been to too many games to count. I've taken both of my sons to games every year since they were 3. I love everything about it. The Vol family is indescribable. My friends and I always tailgate in the same spot. Sweet real estate right in the shadow of Neyland stadium. We all grew up going to Vols games. We've been coming together on Saturdays since Clinton was president. We all (our base group) have kids. My buddies, Charlie, Cliff, Richard, James, and myself. Last year, we had kids who played every level from grasshopper football all the way up to a Sr Lineman for William Blount (Cliff's son, Wildfire, AKA Justin). Most of us have played some football as some level at some point. We all live this game and BLEED ORANGE.

I thought about writing this post about what the Volunteers mean to me. my game day experiences. The thrill of the team running through the T, The Vol Walk, Salute To The Hill, Vol Village, Tailgating, Rocky Top sung, in unison, by 100,000 people. Then, my friend Nikki forward me an email. It was written by an unknown (to me) author. I read it at my desk. I had chills. Eyes teared up. It was about me. And you, Vol fan. I thought it was absolutely beautiful. So I decided to post it here. If anyone knows the writer, I want to shake their hand. I will still write my own someday, but this must be shared. Go Vols!

I am Tennessee

I am Tennessee. I am the 30 year old couple coming back to campus for the first time with both little ones in tow. One wears her orange and white cheerleader outfit; the other wears #16 even though he's too young to understand why.

I am the 50 year old man who hoped no one saw tears in his eyes when the T was formed by the band. I was too choked even to sing "Rocky Top". For a moment I felt foolish and then I didn't care. God, I love this place.

I am the 60 year old woman meeting her freshman grand-daughter who is now the 3rd generation of UT students in our family. Despite my age, I'd strap it on Saturday and hit someone if it weren't for my gender and this blasted arthritis.

I am Tennessee and I have always believed I was different. You can see it when you look up into the stands. My orange is not the same as Florida's or Auburn's . But the differences go much deeper than my colors.

Read my creed. What other school has one? I genuinely believe in these things.To be a real Tennessee man or woman speaks of character, not of geography. All are welcome to walk though my gates, not just the wealthy or the elite.

Georgia and Alabama may have their nations, but we have always been family. Make no mistake, we loathe defeat, but even in defeat, we would rather be a Tennessee Vol than anything else.

We are family and you are the sons of Heisman, the sons of Majors and Neyland.You come from a long line of brothers whose names include White, Gault, Wilson,Manning, Shuler, Nash and Mahelona. It is a great heritage.

So this Saturday, when the warm ups are over and the prayers and amen spoken,when you hear my thunder growing in the stands above you, when you stand in the tunnel and the smoke begins to form, listen for my voice when you run on to my field.

Behind the frenzy of the shakers and deafening roar, I will tell you something in a whisper you may miss. I will be telling you that you are my sons and I am proud of you for the way you wear the orange and white. I am telling you that you are my sons and I love you.

Tennessee is so much more than a state or a school or a team or a degree. It is something that, once you have experienced it, will live inside of you forever and become a part of what makes up who you are. It is driving into town on a game day.

You may have come from hundreds of miles away and as you get closer and closer to the city limits, you feel it rising inside of you. Other cars on the highway proudly display their Orange and White flags or magnets or car tags, and you honk and wave at them, because, for that one day, you are all on the same team.

It is the smell in the air and the ritualistic act of tailgating...catching up with old friends, making new ones, and invitations from perfect strangers to try their ribs or watch their satellite TV showing all of the day's important match-ups...of course, all being secondary to the one that will occur in the great cathedral of Neyland Stadium later that day.

It is the Vol Walk...where you might just see 300 pound men overcome with emotion and weeping with pride, because you have come there to cheer them on. As they walk by, you might exchange a glance with one or two of them, and you can see it in their is going to be their day.

It is the students...dressed in their best, because going to a Tennessee game is like going to church for Tennessee show the same respect as you would if you were in God's house. Those students remind you of the days when you were walking in their shoes and Tennessee was your home...but then you realize, in many ways, it is still and always will be HOME. It is that lump that rises in your throat when the band plays Rocky Top as the"T" is formed.

It is walking around on a "foreign" and sometimes hostile campus. You are easily identified (Tennessee people always are) and the enemy jeers and shouts things at you to mask their feelings of intimidation. But just then you happen upon a friend you have never met before. You know they are your friend by the colors they wear or the shaker in their hand. You exchange a "Go Vols" and a confident grin, because he/she knows what you know.

It is when your heart leaps with every touchdown, field goal, sack, and interception...because those are our boys. And win or lose, they will always have our un-dying support. After all, it is those boys that you are really there for and not a coach or a logo or a trustee or a president.

It is the complete and utter exhilaration of walking away victorious over a worthy opponent...that feeling of pride and accomplishment as if it were your own feet that had crossed the goal line scoring the last points yourself...that feeling of wanting to scream "Go Big Orange" at the top of your lungs and hug complete strangers...and then there is the ultimate high of defeating your most hated foes from across the state.

No words can describe what this feels like, but you know because you have experienced it. It is the sheer agony of defeat as the last minutes tick off of the clock and you realize that all hope of a victory is gone.

You feel like crying and maybe you do...then you hear the faint sounds of a cheer that grows louder and louder...."Its Great To Be A Tennessee Vol."

It is knowing that year after year, no matter how things change in our hectic lives, you can always come back to "the Loveliest Place on the River"... the place where you came from...your home.

It will probably look a little different and there will be new names on the backs of the jerseys, but deep down, no matter what, it is still the same. You still love it as much as you always have, because Tennessee is as much a part of you as your arms and your legs and the orange blood that runs through your veins.

And, finally, it is the feeling you have right now as you read these lines....the anticipation inside of you, because you know its almost time....Its about to start all over again...but then it really never goes away, does it?

Unknown Author... But it's all of us Vols fans, isn't it?
Go Big Orange!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!