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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Taco Salad, Christmas Lights & Cooking

Happy Thankful Thursday yo! It's that time of the week where we sit back and reflect on a few of the countless things we could be thankful for! Another week has come and gone, which means we're that much closer to finding out the gender of our twins! I'll stop there so as to prevent rambling and move on to the real topic of this post.... thankfulness! What are you thankful for blog readers?! Here's our lists:

Monica's List:

I am thankful for taco salad! I don't know that I could get enough of it right now! It tastes so good! I've already had it twice this week for dinner! I try to sneak in as many tomatoes and as much lettuce as possible to get in even more of my veggies. These kids may just come out with a taste for taco salad if I keep this up! :)

I am thankful for the Christmas season! I just love everything about it! The music, decorations, holiday cheer, buying gifts for others, food ;), togetherness... most of all I am thankful that Jesus humbled himself and came to the Earth to die for my sins! This is one that is hard for me to wrap my mind around! I can't imagine giving my child for the sins of the world! I am so thankful for the sacrifice and will never truly know the extent of the price He paid.

I am thankful for a smooth pregnancy! People often ask me how I feel and the answer is always, "I feel great! I'm just me... with two babies growing inside of me!" I hear about women who have had such difficult and hard pregnancies and it makes me realize how fortunate I am! I really don't have a thing to complain about! I don't physically feel all that different from before I was pregnant. Sure my body is growing (in more places than one), I have been having some decent leg cramps that wake me up in the middle of the night (anyone have advice on those?), and after a long day at work I may be a little more tired now than I was before... but I have energy, haven't been sick, I am not moody, I am happy, I am not craving sweets or "bad" food... the list could go on and on. I had more of a sweet tooth before I got pregnant. That alone is so wierd to me but I'll take it!!! I know things are going to get more difficult in the next few months as my belly gets huge! But no matter what I refuse to complain! I have been given the most precious GIFTS, gifts that I have prayed for for over 4 1/2 years! I am blessed and will continue to just be SOOO THANKFUL!!

Jeremy's List:

I'm thankful for Christmas lights! I love decorating the outside of the house with Christmas lights! Monica has to keep me grounded or I'd go CRAZY! We saw a 12 foot tall inflatable snowman at Garden Ridge last week.... I was SOOOOO excited! I didn't get it though. :( Next year! I love to put up lights though! Monica likes simple, one color, classy, elegant.... I like loud and in your face! Our house is not a loud and in your face house.... yet! Little by little I keep adding to my arsenal every year. This year I had probably 5-6 strands of lights die on me. It would have cost more to replace all the burned out bulbs than replace them. I am moving to all LED's! YEA! Anyway I love doing it, and when I'm finished I will post a picture of the finished product on here for all to see.

On a side note, my neighbor was asking Monica about the lights on our bushes. They are LED's that have 20 different lighting patterns on them. Right now I have them on "Sparkle." Our neighbor said they're the talk of the neighborhood! :) Everyone keeps asking him if he knows where I got them. Makes me feel good! :)

I'm thankful for a wife that can cook! I really was genuinely concerned about this before I got married. I'm a picky eater, and like certain things. I never lived on my own and so never really learned to cook, other than the very manly skill of grilling! Monica is an excellent cook! She takes it upon herself to make me expand my horizons when it comes to eating. I'm really glad she does this! I don't want picky eater kids. I've learned that I really like grilled asparagus with some EVOO, garlic salt and black pepper. Anyway, I'm thankful that my sweetheart can flat out cook! She'll make it a cake that will knock your sock off with it's looks and taste too!

Lastly I'm thankful for the success of our Indiegogo campaign that a friend of mine suggested we start. It has been doing really well. It's humbling how many people have helped by sharing and donating to our cause! If you wouldn't mind after reading this, click the link below or in the top left corner of our blog, watch at least the first 8 minutes of the video and copy/paste the link on your Facebook/Twitter/Google+/Pinterest/email/wherever! Thanks everyone!

Monday, November 26, 2012

My Motivation

Motivation: A motivating force, stimulus or influence: Incentive, Drive

Different people all over the world are motivated to do different things. After all, that is how things progress. Motivation is one of the the driving forces behind innovation and invention. People are motivated to make things work better or more efficient, to challenge themselves, to win, to prove someone wrong, to make possible the impossible.

People are motivated to lose weight, to get in better physical shape, to become healthier.

People are motivated to excel at their careers.

People are motivated to make a difference in the world.

Motivation comes from various sources.

My motivation comes from God and my family. For the last 3 months I have doubled the amount of treatments I do. I have been running 4 days a week (except the last 2 weeks because of New Orleans and Thanksgiving) for a minimum of 3 miles each time. Today I went back to the clinic since I began the endeavors of becoming healthier.

My FEV1 went from 61% to 64%.

My initial reaction was almost that of disappointment. I had to catch myself. We can allow those feelings, those emotions to take over and ruin us. I had an increase in my PFT's. They went up, not down, and did not stay the same. Although it was not the increase I was looking for or expecting, it was an increase nonetheless. My doctor was happy, which makes me happy!

That 3% may be small, but it is that much more lung function that I have. Which interprets into that much more time I will get to spend with my wife, my twins (whom I CANNOT WAIT TO MEET) and my friends and family. That in and of itself is motivating!

Every time I lace up my running shoes and start to run, I think of my wife. I think of my twins. Every single time I run, I tell myself "This is for them, you push yourself the best you can.... for them." It's that simple. That's how I have been able to get up at 5 am before work and do treatments, and run when my legs hurt and I'd rather be a couch potato. I remind myself who it's for.

Lastly, I have peace. I have a peace that surpasses all understanding. I know that as long as I am doing my part to stay healthy, God will do His. His plan for my life is far better than anything I could dream up on my own. There is a peace in knowing that. There lies my motivation. To be on this earth as long as I can to be with my wife and kids, and see God's will unfold in my life. All I have to do is my part. Pretty simple when put that way isn't it?

My goal is to see and FEV1 > 70% by this time next year. When I was looking at my PFT record, I noticed that I haven't blown a 70% since 2008. There was one fluke a year and a half or so ago where I blew exactly a 70%. Both PFT's before and after that one were not close to 70%, so I write that one off. We'll see if I can accomplish it.

This kind of post is not my usual fashion, but it's what is on my mind. That initial flash of disappointment was replaced with joy and a feeling of accomplishment. I feel the best I have in a long time! Hopefully this post will help motivate some of you to go stronger and more diligently after your own goals!

So..... what motivates you?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

18 Week Belly Pic

We're officially 18 weeks pregnant with our twins!!! Everything has been going great so far! Monica has been having a few "growing pains" here and there still, and it seems like the day after these pains, her belly sticks out another inch! Not literally, that is an exaggeration.

The twins woke her up for the first time a couple nights ago moving! I know it's not fun to be woke up in the middle of the night, but it was exciting for us! We're are also pretty certain I got to feel them move about a week ago.

Every evening we usually sit on the couch for a little while after dinner, talking and watching a little TV. I always sit with my hand on her belly just in case! I had been thinking I was feeling some rolling around in her tummy, but it's really hard to tell if it's your own hand slightly moving or the twins because it was so subtle. We were just watching TV when all of a sudden there was a little "boop" on my ring finger just below my first knuckle! Monica and I both looked at each other as soon as it happened and in sync said "Did you feel that?!"

It was the tiniest little bump, but we both felt it! It was awesome! I cannot wait to feel more! Not a day goes by that I don't think about holding them, kissing them, staring at them while they sleep, and all the other stuff new parents do with their newborn babies! We are so incredibly excited! In a little over 2 weeks we'll know what they are too! Make sure you check back on December 15! That's when we'll post what gender they are! For now, here's our baseline, 16 and 18 week belly pics!

P.S. Sorry for the lighting. We will have to start taking them in the evening.

18 weeks

16 weeks

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Trouble 1 & Trouble 2 hit The Big Easy!

Saw these outfits and couldn't resist! They're just plain ADORABLE!
Monica and I went to New Orleans, LA two weekends ago! I was giving a presentation at the national respiratory convention called the AARC Congress. The presentation went spectacular, and we had tons of fun! Here's a few highlights of our trip!!


Gotta get me one of these!

Had to try some Gator meat! It was GOOOOD!!

YEA St. Louis......MO

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Babymoon, Pregnancy & P90X

Hey all you awesome people that read our blog! It's Thankful Thursday time! I apologize sincerely for not posting one last week. The Parks household was a little crazy. So this week we will make up for it, by each posting 20 things we're thankful for! Just kidding! Hahaha I crack myself up! Anyway, on to the lists!

Jeremy's List:

I'm thankful for a pregnant wife! It was a dream of mine as I was growing up to have 4 or 6 kids. Once I read that 98% of men with CF cannot have children I was crushed. I was doing a research paper on CF at the time. I soon learned of in vitro. This brought a glimmer of hope. I knew because of the cost I would probably only get one shot at it.

For a long time, Monica and I prepared ourselves to hear the news that it didn't work. We weren't being pessimists! Just realistic. I am an optimistic person, but I also know that reality is... well.... REAL. There was a very REAL chance that Monica and I would not get pregnant. I can't tell you the countless number of stories we read of CF couples who had no luck after several attempts.

All we could do was pray and hope that it indeed was God's will for us to have children. That prayer was answered and we are pregnant. It still astounds me to hear the words come out of my own mouth. Monica. Is. Pregnant. To watch her little belly grow and to see our beautiful twins grow through each ultrasound has been astonishing! I am so thankful that my wife will have the experience of being pregnant and birthing 2 gorgeous children! I was thinking about it on the way home from work today, just how amazing it is that she is pregnant with TWINS! I'm thankful for that!

I'm also thankful for P90X! It's freezing in Missouri right now!!! It's only going to get colder, which means running outdoors is out of the question most of the time. It also gets dark at 5:30, which doesn't help either, lol. I'm thankful I have something that I really enjoy doing, that is indoors, gives me results, and is good at getting up secretions! Thank you Tony!

Monica's List:

I am thankful for our "babymoon" getaway to New Orleans! It was the last trip we will be able to take before the babies get here. We love to travel and really enjoy opportunities to escape our hectic schedules and just be together! Jeremy truly is my best friend and I would rather be with him than anyone in the world! It was a very fun, relaxing trip and I'm just so thankful that we were able to spend that quality time together!! I am so proud of him! He did such a wonderful job on his talk and I couldn't help but be so thankful to call him mine! He is gonna make one Amazing daddy!! I can't wait!!

I am thankful for my new iPhone! Yes, I am slowly catching up with the rest of the world! This is my first smart phone and I must say it is pretty handy and convenient. I'm still getting used to it and I'm sure I'm not using it to it's potential quite yet... but I'm getting there. Jeremy is probably more thankful for it than I am because now I don't bug him to look up stuff for me anymore! ;)

I am thankful for our growing twins! I'm pretty sure they will be on every Thankful Thursday I ever do now.... so get used to it! :) Yeah.... they are pretty much everything to us already! I know it's only going to get worse once we can hold them in our arms! My belly just seems to be getting bigger all the time! It's taking me a little time to get used to the changes that are happening to my body, but our babies are worth anything! I know that means they are growing and doing good, so I couldn't be more happy! Evidently they are going through a growth spurt right now so it makes sense that my belly is too! :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Belly Pics: 16 Weeks

I know we are a week behind! Last Friday Monica was officially 16 weeks pregnant. Whoo-hoo! I was invited to speak at the AARC Congress 2012 in New Orleans, LA. Also known as NOLA, Nawlens, The Big Easy, you get the idea. It was an experience let me tell you! We had a blast seeing the sights, and enjoying the food! That's for another post though. Before we left, we took our 16 week belly shots. Here they are! Baseline, 14 and 16 weeks. That way you can see the overall change and the change from 14 to 16 weeks. It's crazy! Them babies are a growing! :)

                            Baseline                                                                               16 weeks

                                                                        14 weeks

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Twin Update!

We had our OB appointment yesterday! Everything went really well. We got to hear their little heartbeats again! 162 and 156. Does that mean boy/girl twins?! The old wives' tale says if your babies heart rate is above 160 it's a girl and below is a boy. I put absolutely zero faith in wives' tales but it would be awesome to have one of each.

Overall everything looks good! Monica's blood pressure is normal. She gained a little bit of weight, which the doctor was happy about. Judging by the doctors comments, it seems as though she wants Monica to gain quite a bit of weight, lol! She has been having some "growing" pain lately and seems to stick out a little more the day after each set of pains. She's been able to feel little bits of movement that she describes as "flutters" for a few weeks now, but they are getting more and more obvious to her. Makes sense as the babies are getting bigger and bigger.

Just this morning, she was laying on her side and had moved her hand to the side of her tummy. Where she placed her hand, she felt a tiny little "poke." One of the babies was not happy about mommy taking up her stretching room obviously. Whoop! Just realized I typed "her" without even thinking about it. Uh-oh! Wonder what that means, lol!

We misunderstood the doctor about our ultrasound appointments. We thought she wanted one in October, November and then at 20 weeks. Turns out she doesn't want one til 20 weeks, then every month after that. Our bad! We kind of got a little annoyed over the whole deal. It all comes down to our being spoiled at the IVF clinic where we saw them every other week. Guess we'll have to wait 4 weeks. On the bright side, we'll find out what we're having then!!

Thanks for reading! Pictures will hopefully be up Friday of Monica's 16 week twin tummy!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Exciting week!

This week is going to be a very exciting week! We are so blessed and have a lot to look forward to this week. This evening, some friends invited us over for dinner. It's a friend of Monica's that she went to high school with, played volleyball with, and is close to. We haven't seem them in probably a year or so and are very excited to spend the evening hanging out!

Tomorrow we have an OB appointment! Who would have thought that I would get so excited about going to see that kind of doctor! Man how things change the older you get. I'm so excited to see how our babies are doing! I can't wait to hear their heartbeats and hopefully get to see them again! It has been WAY too long! We haven't seen them since they were 10 weeks old!!! That was over a month ago! We are super excited and should hopefully get to schedule an appointment for an ultrasound in a few weeks to find out the genders! WHOO-HOO!! It seems to be flying by. Monica's belly seems to be poking out little by little these days. I can't wait to post some 16 week photos this Friday!

I have my last set of double header softball games this Thursday. I really enjoy playing, especially when we win!

Friday we are off to New Orleans! I have the privilege of getting to speak at a respiratory conference at the national level about living with CF. I'm really excited to have several days with Monica. Things have been pretty hectic around here lately, and I can't wait to have 5 days away with each other. This is one of those times that CF has been a blessing! If I didn't have CF I would never have had this opportunity or all the others I've had this past year to speak to people about CF. This will be the second time I've gotten to travel to speak. It's very humbling. I can't wait to see the bayou! To hear the music, eat the food, and who knows.... maybe catch me an alligator! I'm very excited to try alligator too, by the way.

All in all it's going to be a good week! I'll keep you posted as things unfold!

Friday, November 2, 2012

15 Weeks!

We're 15 weeks pregnant today! WHOO-HOO!!! It seems to be flying by! We have an OB appointment next week, that will hopefully include an ultrasound. We haven't seen our babies since 10 weeks! It's killing me! We can't wait to see them moving around and hear the heartbeats again!

Won't be long now until we will find out the gender too! They say as early as 16 weeks you can sometimes tell. Hopefully in the next 2-3 weeks we'll get another ultrasound and have a big reveal!

We'll also continue to post photos of Monica's growth, as I'm sure it will start to take off here soon. As well as new photos of the twins that we get.

No new developments otherwise. Monica is doing great! The normal side effects that come with being pregnant, but nothing too terrible. We've been looking around a little for vehicles. Trying to get an idea of what we might want, and a price range. We'll probably wait til after the first of the year to actually sell ours and buy anything, but it's nice to look. I'm thinking I may go down the van route. I like the GMC Safari's, but I think they stopped making them. We shall see. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

P.S. What do you think of my beard?!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Baby Stuff, Nature, Ultrasounds & Soup

It's that time of the week again! Time to share some things that we are thankful for! This week is no exception from any other. We have a lot to be thankful for. Aside from our health, jobs, home, etc., here are a few other things Monica and I are thankful for this week. Ask yourself, what are you thankful for? When you think of something leave a comment letting us know what it is! Without anymore pre-thankful chatting, here are our lists!

Jeremy's List:

I'm thankful for the generosity of people we know. Throughout our IVF process our friends and family have been there for us. We have been given several very nice gifts. We were given boxes of clothes, books, 2 car seats, a highchair, a stroller, a Babybjorn baby carrier. It was given to us instead of taken to a Goodwill. We were very thankful for that. Just yesterday, someone gave us a brand new Rocker/Glider! Can you believe that?! We've been given a crib mattress, the thing you put in your buggy when you go to the grocery store so your baby doesn't have to sit on the hard buggy seat. Someone gave us one of those vibrating bouncers. We are very blessed and thankful for all the generosity of the people who did this for us.

I'm thankful for second hand sales! My mom and I went to a baby mania event at a local high school, where we found another Babybjorn carrier for only $20! It looks brand new! In stores those things go for over $100! There's no way we ever could have spent that kind of money on them, and we now have 2! I'm really excited too, because that is the one thing I absolutely wanted! I can't wait to go places and walk around with my baby chillin on my chest! :) Monica found a motorized rocker that plays music, forest sounds, frogs & cricket sounds, and beach sounds at a resale place for $4. Yes only $4. It works awesome and looks like it was never used. Our little second bedroom/nursery is becoming very full. For that I am thankful!

I'm thankful for nature and it's beauty. It's fall here in Missouri and the leaves have been all shades of orange, yellow and red for a couple weeks now and it's gorgeous! Last night the moon was incredibly bright. After I took out the trash, I just stopped and stared at it for awhile. The clouds were gathered underneath the moon and it was so bright, it was beautiful. I love soaking in those moments when God's beautiful design is on display. Those moments mostly occur when I look at my wife! :)

That's all for this week folks! Let's move on to my beautiful wife's list! What are you thankful for?!

Monica's list:

I am thankful for ultrasounds!! I will be 15 weeks pregnant tomorrow! Woo-hoo!! The last ultrasound we had was at 10 weeks. It is killing Jeremy and I waiting for our next one (maybe Jeremy even more than me!) ;) We can't wait to see our precious little twins again! It is the most exciting and amazing thing! At 12 weeks they did a doppler and their little hearts were still beating away! We haven't actually seen them in 5 weeks though!! Most women don't have ultrasounds as often as we were used to having them, but we have been spoiled. There are some communication issues going on with my OB and the Perinatal ultrasound center, soooo..... I'm still not sure when our next ultrasound is going to be. I have a doctor's appointment on Tuesday, fingers crossed they decide to do one that day! :)

I am thankful for soup! I have been eating a lot of "light" soups for lunch and thankfully they are still hitting the spot! I tend to get tired of food really quick, so I'm glad they have a large variety of different flavors to pick from. Plus soup is just good during the Fall! I like soup! ;)