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Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas highlights

I figured I'd squeeze one last post into 2012 by forcing you all to read about giving you a glimpse into our Christmas adventures.

Brian and I exchanged gifts on the 21st before we left town to celebrate with our families. I opened mine first and was pleasantly surprised to find a gift certificate with my name on it for a pedicure AND a prenatal massage!

My gift to him was a reservation for the babymoon package (one-night stay) at The Houstonian in February. Yes, we already took our official babymoon, but as you might recall, it wasn't exactly relaxing, so this will be considered Babymoon Part II. And the best part? It includes a massage for Brian and a(nother) prenatal massage for me. It's safe to say I lucked out on that gift exchange!

We spent the first few days of our Christmas "break" with Brian's family in La Grange, where we did a lot of sitting, eating, and talking. The more adventurous members of the group (my SIL included) went out to shoot guns one day, while the rest of us continued to sit, eat, and talk :)

We also had a unique gift exchange with the family this year thanks to that same SIL. Everyone e-mailed her with the initials of what we wanted most for Christmas (for example, if you wanted one million dollars, your initials would be OMD). She then assigned everyone a person to buy for and only told them the initials of what that person asked for. From there, we had to do our best to guess what the initials stood for, spending a maximum of $10.

My initials were "BB" for "baby bedding" (which obviously was above $10!), and my mother-in-law was assigned to get my gift. As you'll see in the picture below, she got the "baby" part right!

Me posing with the bottle of baby bath

Brian's initials were "TSB" which allegedly stood for "Texans Super Bowl" or "Two Sweet Babies." His grandfather was assigned to get his gift and believe it or not, guessed correctly with two sweet babies (dolls, that is):

This was much more entertaining to me than a normal white elephant exchange, so in case you're looking to switch things up next year, you should give this idea a try! Thanks, Shannon!

After the gift exchange, Shannon very patiently did an impromptu photo shoot of Brian and me in front of the Christmas tree. I rationally declared that every picture either made me look like a beached whale or made Brian look like he was allergic to me, which meant that we ended up doing a lot of retakes:

Let's try to be normal.

Apparently he's a magician.

This picture had a lot of potential... hard to pinpoint where things went wrong.

I think this is my favorite.

We look progressively less and less comfortable with one another.

I call this the sassy fat girl pose.

Shannon told us to look lovingly at each other... which would have worked out well if we were capable of being serious for more than 2 seconds at a time.

And that's a wrap.

You're welcome for that photo montage.

We spent a few days in Austin as well, but sadly I took no pictures. Good thing I have a twin sister to do that for me

So that was that. Hope you all had an equally merry Christmas and that you're getting pumped up to ring in 2013. Happy New Year's Eve!

Wait! You didn't think I would leave these two family members out, did you?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from our family TWO yours!

 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” - Luke 2:14

Monday, December 24, 2012

The (pretty cute) ghosts of Christmas past

Much as was the case at Halloween, we don't have any cute pictures of our own kiddos at Christmas to share with you YET, so for this year, you will have to settle for Christmas pictures of us as cute little kiddos.

You can hardly tell I was wearing a diaper under those PJ's, right?

Clearly, opening all of those toys was hard work.
Contrary to what this picture suggests, we do, in fact, have a real brother. And he is not, in fact, a jack-in-the-box. Also, to answer your question: Allison is on the left and I am on the right!

Same sweet Christmas tree outfit, different day apparently (judging by my hair style change).

 Here is the whole Nelson fam posing for a Christmas pic. See, I told you my brother was real? Also, that's me on the left and Allison on the right in this one.

I know you'll find this hard to believe, but I never actually worked as a child model. But I totally should have, right?
Unfortunately I don't have access to as many of Brian's childhood pictures, but I had this one, and for obvious reasons, included it as well. Must have been one crazy (1980's) Christmas that year!
Can't wait to spoil Colby and Clara and take embarrassing pictures of them this time next year and for many years to come... merry Christmas Eve, all!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Life and times of a pregnant woman

- On two occasions last weekend, I had to sit down because I was out of breath… from standing still and having a conversation.

- I woke up in the middle of the night on Monday night with a Charlie horse so painful that I was certain I was going to die from it. I writhed in pain for a few seconds before frantically whispering Brian’s name and asking him to help me. Thankfully he was able to help me stretch out my foot and consequentially prevent my impending demise, but that didn’t stop him from laughing at me the next morning and accusing me of “thrashing around wildly” in the bed.

- This book came in the mail yesterday (pictured below)! It's called "Who's Who" and it's a children's book about twins... could it be any more perfect? A friend spotted it on Zulily recently and shared it with me, and I knew Colby and Clara had to have it (although admittedly I ended up getting it on Amazon because it was cheaper :)!

- After last week’s appointment, I officially commenced “Operation: Make Clara Grow.” Based on a little research and the suggestion of some pregnant/recently pregnant dietitian friends, my main objective in this operation is increasing my protein intake. This is all fine and good, except for the fact that I get full very easily. As in, a bowl of cereal leaves me hiccupping dramatically as if I just polished off a steak dinner. Regardless, if any of you have any high-protein food suggestions, please send them my way! Two things to consider: (1) I am not an adventurous eater and (2) relatedly, I do not like yogurt.

- Brian felt one of the babies move for the first time on Sunday! He was excited of course, but when I asked him if it felt like he expected it to feel, he said, “I’ve felt babies move before…” as if he was an OBGYN in a past life that I didn’t know about. When I inquired further, he reminded me that he was the mature age of 5 when his mom was pregnant with his little sister. Oh, SORRY, didn’t realize you retained that memory for 24 years. (But really, he was excited… I’m just giving him a hard time as usual.)

- As I was getting ready for work Monday morning and listening to the news coverage about the Sandy Hook shootings, my heart sank when I thought about the fact that it wasn't more than a few years ago that some of those parents were feeling their babies move for the first time, imagining what they would turn out like, and now their babies have been taken away from them.

However, I was reading a devotional that same night that talked about how no matter how much we love our children, God still loves them more. It was an encouragement to me in my current state of worry about our own babies, and I pray that it would be an encouragement to those parents as well. Even when God's plans don't make sense to us and we think we know better, God knows best and still loves them more. Rest in peace, little ones!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Baby names + a prayer request

A few important details to share with you:

1. Today is my favorite sister-in-law, Shannon's, 24th birthday! Please join me in wishing her a very happy day, because she most definitely deserves it!

2. We had another ultrasound yesterday, and confirmed that we are, in fact, having a boy and a girl. As was the case with the first ultrasound, the boy was more than willing to show off his "business" (as the ultrasound tech called it), while the girl was a little more lady-like, but thankfully eventually we still got a peek at her "business" as well.

Here's Baby A, the boy (who is actually head down):

Here's Baby B, the girl (who is actually breech, feet down):

3. Oh, so were you wondering what their names are? I suppose we can fill you in on that. Allow me to introduce you to the tiniest members of the Joiner family,

Colby Wayne Joiner and Clara Lane Joiner!

For the sake of brevity, I'll just give you a quick summary as to how we came up with the names:

- Having 'A' and 'B' names ourselves, we thought it would be fun to stick with the alphabet theme with our first child. When that "child" turned into "children," we couldn't come up with any 'D' names that we really loved, so we decided to stick with C&C instead!

- "Colby" is just a name we like, no real significance behind it, and "Clara" was my great grandmother's name.

- "Wayne" is Brian's middle name, Brian's dad's middle name, and Brian's grandfather's first name. "Lane" is Allison's middle name, my mom's middle name, and my grandmother's middle name. My middle name is "Jane," so we thought it would be fun to carry on the twins-with-rhyming-middle-names tradition.

So there you have it! Here's an ultrasound picture of both of them together. Looks a little crowded, doesn't it?

As a bonus, we also got a video clip this time! This is a video of Colby with his mouth wide open- it almost looks like he's laughing (in a semi-creepy skeleton way). My favorite part, however, is that you can see him kicking at Clara on the left side of the video and Clara's leg dangling by his head on the right side. The sibling rivalry begins!

We are so thankful that both babies have all of their parts and don't appear to have any major medical issues. We do, however, have one small prayer request:

Clara is currently measuring on the smaller side (at about the 9th percentile), while Colby is measuring a little more normal (for a twin, anyway) at the 27th percentile. Her measurements put her about a week behind Colby in growth. This means that there is currently an 18% difference in their sizes.

It is not uncommon for fraternal twins to be different sizes and even grow at different rates, but the perinatologist is a little concerned about the disparity and about how small Clara is measuring. We are supposed to go in for ultrasounds every 4 weeks, but she has requested we come in 3 weeks from now instead. At that time, depending on how the babies are measuring, they may start to monitor me more often (as in, weekly).

Unfortunately there isn't really much I can do on my end, other than get plenty of rest and keep passing on as much nutrition as possible. What we can do, however, is pray, so that is what we will do! We would love it if you would join us in praying that Clara catches up and that both of them are measuring right on track at our next appointment.

Thanks for continuing to read along about our journey... more adventures and updates to come!

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." - Hebrews 11:1

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Oh yeah, and we got a new car

This past weekend was fairly monumental for two reasons:

1. Remember that test I was talking about? You know, the one that was in large part responsible for my brain almost exploding? Well I took it on Friday, and praise the Lord, I passed!

I cannot tell you how much of a weight it has been off of my shoulders to have that behind me. Now I can spend my time stressing about important things like what kind of cookies to make for an upcoming cookie exchange and which colors to use in the babies' nursery.

2. We got a new car! After several weeks of research on Brian's part, we decided it was time to bite the bullet and bid my beloved Jetta farewell:

We were both a little sad to see her go, but we knew it was for the best. And saying hello to our new friend, the Pilot, made saying goodbye a lot easier:

I can't say the actual car-buying process was a blast and a half, especially because it took 2.5 hours. Only about 30 minutes of that was spent looking at and test driving the car, so I can only imagine how long it takes when people come in not knowing what they want!

Brian did the negotiating (while I squirmed uncomfortably in my chair) and thankfully was able to get us a good deal on our trade-in and on the cost of the new car. I was surprised at how serious my normally very laid back husband was about the whole thing... he even told me we needed to wait in a remote part of the sales floor so that it would be harder for the salesman to find us when he came back from talking to the business manager. He said it was a psychological trick and made us look like less of an easy target. Clearly he came in with his game face on!

Something else that made me laugh: when the salesman was showing us the car, he said, "I don't know if you still use CD's, but in case you do, there's a CD player and CD recorder in here." I'm not sure if the more embarrassing fact is that he thought we were old enough still use CD's... or the fact that we do still use CD's. Ha!

Anyway, we are very excited about the new car and relieved that the twins won't have to sit on each other's laps in order to fit in the backseat. And a big thank you to Brian for doing all the homework to make the purchase happen!

PS- Happy 30th birthday to Erika!! Let's pretend we bought this car as a gift for you instead, ok? :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pictures from the real camera

As promised, I finally got around to uploading pictures from the real camera from our trip. Remember that we are still learning how to use this camera, so bear with us as we figure out the settings!

Actually, first I'm first going to share a few practice pictures we took when we first got the camera:

Davis saying "cheese" for the camera... don't you want to eat him for dinner?

Up close and personal with Buster... don't you want to eat him for dinner, too?

Noah, clearly loving life- it's safe to say he is the more serious of our two pups.

And one more of Buster for good measure. Don't worry, he isn't dead.

Ok so here come the New Orleans pics! This is one of the mansions in the historic district- surprisingly (and disappointingly) not that many of them were decorated for Christmas!

My fellow pregnant twin mom, Alexa, took this for us- the blurriness is the fault of the camera, sadly.

Only in Louisiana!

Jellyfish at the aquarium

I spy two hootie owls in this pic

We don't like asking strangers to take pictures of us together. This is the result.

I'm pretty sure this catfish was posing for the picture.

This outdoor open-air parakeet area would have been Brittany's worst nightmare. I was admittedly a little afraid of being attacked and/or pooped on myself!

St. Patrick's Church (aka: where the stranger asked to touch my stomach)

Festive building in the French Quarter

Self-pic in front of Jackson Square

A very eager stranger offered to take this pic for us if we would return the favor for him. I looked around thinking his wife/friend would be nearby, but nope, he just wanted a picture of himself in front of Jackson Square.

Our street entertainer at Jackson Square... pretty sure this is his day job.

The end!

Monday, December 10, 2012

20 weeks

How is it possible that another 4 weeks have already passed? Guess time flies when you're growing human beings. 

Once again, taking these pictures is harder than I thought it would be. I think I need to stop wearing dresses for my pictures because unless the dress is form-fitting, it's not very easy to show the actual shape of my stomach (which is normally ideal, but not when you're trying to track progress!). 

I took the following picture this weekend as well, and even though I hadn't bothered to fix my hair, I think the camisole I'm wearing might give you a more accurate idea of what the bump looks like. Also, I typically only dry/straighten my hair 1-2 times per week, so this also probably gives you a more accurate idea of what I look like in general :)

How far along: 20 weeks and 1 day

Total weight gain: 10 pounds. I told my doctor last week that I was a little worried about not being bigger at this point, but he just smirked and said, "Don't worry, the weight will come." So I guess I have that to look forward to.

Maternity clothes: Yes, yes, and yes. I wore a non-maternity top the other day and I'm pretty sure it just made me look like I had a beer belly.  
Stretch marks: Not that I've noticed.

Sleep: Ugh. Sore subject. I slept really well when we were in New Orleans, which I'm guessing is because I was exhausted from walking around so much. And the fact that we had a king-sized feather bed probably didn't hurt. Santa is allegedly bringing me a body pillow for Christmas, so I'm hoping that will help!

Best moment this week: Passing my PHR exam! Oh, wait, this is supposed to be about the babies, right? The babies' daddy surprised them (ok, me) with an early Christmas present from Amazon - an owl baby blanket for the girl and a dinosaur baby blanket for the boy:

Miss anything: I'm still going to go with sleeping on my stomach. And being able to wear flats to work. Unfortunately all of my maternity pants are too long!

Movement: Yes! It felt mostly like gas bubbles at first, but now it is getting easier to distinguish. 

Food cravings: Nope... just still preferring salty to sweet. 

Symptoms: The back pain has started. Argh! The only time it doesn't bother me is when I'm wearing my Uggs, but (a) the temperature has been in the 80s, and (b) my Uggs are not exactly work appropriate. Also, this isn't exactly a symptom, but I have already noticed that it's getting harder for me to get up and down. I feel like an 80-year-old.

Anything making you queasy or sick: Eating sweet food in the mornings. And apparently my body has a new concept of what constitutes "sweet," because skim milk is on that list.

Happy or moody most of the time: Happy

Have you started to show yet: Considering a stranger asked to touch my stomach and another one congratulated me on my pregnancy without me saying anything (bold move), I'm going to say yes.

Boy or Girl: One of each! We have another ultrasound with the perinatologist this week, after which we plan to announce their names, so get excited!

Looking forward to: Getting another peek at the babies this week, figuring out the nursery/bedding, and Christmas (unrelated to the babies, but still)

Monday, December 3, 2012

We're halfway there... livin' on a prayer

Yep, you read that right. As of yesterday, I am 19 weeks pregnant. I'm no mathematician (hello, Spanish degree!), but if the doctor says we won't deliver past 38 weeks, then that means we are halfway through this pregnancy... crazy!

We rung in the completion of the 19th week in New Orleans on our babymoon, so that was fun. It didn't end up being the relaxing trip we envisioned (lots to do and see, all of which required walking around), but we still had a good time. We did, however, decide that we might need to do a babymoon part 2 somewhere nearby... somewhere involving a massage and minimal physical activity :)

I didn't have time to upload the pictures yet from our (new!) camera, so for today you'll have to settle for the ones I pulled from my iphone. 

We stayed at a great hotel downtown called Le Pavillon, and in case you didn't read about it on facebook, you might be amused to learn that upon our arrival, the bellman that helped us with our luggage informed us that he had never heard of boy/girl twins. He literally said this was the first time he had ever heard of such a thing happening. A housekeeper got on the elevator with us mid-conversation and unlike us, was not afraid to tell the bellman that he was sort of being a moron!

Anyway, the most important thing to note about the hotel is that they serve PB&J sandwiches (along with hot chocolate, milk, and chocolate milk) every night at 10 pm. Greatest tradition ever? Yes. And even though staying up until 10 pm was admittedly a bit of a struggle for me, I powered through and we made it down all 3 nights.

This picture was taken immediately before I burned my tongue on the hot chocolate... oops.

I'm honestly not sure if Brian was more excited about the PB&J or the chocolate milk... probably a toss-up.

The hotel was decorated for Christmas, which also brought me great joy:

The Shops on Canal Street were also decorated for Christmas, so of course we had to take a blurry self-pic in front of their tree:

We of course partook in a lot of eating, the highlight of which was a stop for beignets at Cafe Du Monde, complete with a serenade by a nearby sax player on the sidewalk, aka: Brian's favorite part of the trip:

(not pictured: the sax player)

He also really enjoyed breakfast at a local hole in the wall, and when I say hole in the wall, I mean that they only accepted cash and referred to me as "baby" and him as "partner." 

Something else funny to note about this meal: our hotel gave us a copy of the Wall Street Journal every morning, and just before we left that morning, I noticed that Brian didn't read it while I was in the shower as I expected him to. When I asked him why, he said he was saving it to bring to breakfast. Um, I didn't realize that I'm such poor company that a boring newspaper trumps me in the entertainment department? I pointed this out to him (lovingly, of course), and thankfully the WSJ did not accompany us to breakfast.

I realize that it's lame to eat anything other than local food when you're on vacation (especially in New Orleans), but thanks to a few gift cards that needed to be used, we did make two stops at Starbucks. The first one was just a quick break for a snack and a chance to rest our legs. The second one was on our last afternoon there and ended up lasting somewhere closer to 2 hours because we were just so worn out from all the walking around. 

The best part about that stop (other than the relief for my legs) was this little gem:

Chocolate peppermint cake pop... my new favorite holiday treat!

Don't worry, however, because we made sure to do our duty as tourists and see as much of the city as we could in a short time span. We especially enjoyed our afternoon of shopping and people watching in the French Quarter/Jackson Square:

I mean seriously, EVERYTHING is better when it's decorated for Christmas, wouldn't you agree?

Other tidbits from the trip:

- A stranger asked to touch my stomach while we were entering St. Patrick's Church. She was very sweet and promised to pray for the babies. We'll take it! I wasn't as weirded out by the request to touch my stomach as I thought I would be, but it made me wonder: what is the appeal? You're not likely to feel the baby (or babies) kick, so are you just interested in feeling what a fat, semi-hard stomach feels like?

- There are a LOT of smokers in New Orleans.

- We got to meet up with a new set of friends that we met thanks to the ol' blog (although technically the wife and I met back in college unknowingly) that also happen to be pregnant with boy/girl twins! They are from Houston but live in New Orleans now, so we got to see some of the city with them while swapping twin pregnancy stories!

- Vacations are fun, but there really is no place like home. Especially when home includes non-public restrooms and two sweet puppy dogs. And no smokers.

That's all for now. Will post a little more whenever I take time to upload the actual pictures!