Sunday, December 28, 2008

A fabulous Christmas!

Well, the van Riessen family thoroughly enjoyed our first Christmas waking up in our own home. What a wonderful holiday and it was a real blessing to spend it with my parents who flew down from Canada. On Christmas Eve we celebrated Jesus' birthday with a cake and Molly watched the old claymation Christmas cartoon "The Little Drummer Boy". Then we put out cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer, and Molly begrudgingly went to bed.
On Christmas morning, we were all up before Molly. In fact, she didn't arise until 7:30 in the morning. She was pretty shocked to see the cookies and carrots gone and was more than willing to start opening her presents. She really savored her presents, and preferred to play with each gift for 5 minutes before opening up the next one. In fact, she was so slow and methodical that we had to take a break from the gift opening to eat breakfast to prevent the pregnant Mommy from passing out with low blood sugar. We scarfed down a rather large breakfast casserole and then finished opening our gifts.

Molly had many favorite presents, but the biggest hit was definitely her pink guitar that she had been asking for over the last 2 monthes. She loves it (as your can tell from her picture below)!

It was really special to share our Christmas with my parents, who were an AMAZING help to me. My energy level and mobility has basically tanked, and not only did my mom do most of the cooking and cleaning while she was here, but my parents went on a cooking marathon and filled our freezer with casseroles. Molly LOVED having them here and after dropping them off at the airport she shared that she was very sad Nani and Papa left on the airplane. Thankfully, I was able to take some portraits of my parents while they were here, including some with Miss Molly!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More Christmas Festivities...

Well, we have definitely enjoyed a fun string of Christmas festivities over the weekend. Saturday Steve had to work, so I decided to take Miss Molly to the Sacramento Santa Parade downtown. It was Molly's first parade, and she definitely enjoyed it. She loved all the horses and the fact that people would throw candy at her. At the end of the parade I asked her how see liked the Christmas parade and after spouting off a list of things she saw she said, "Where's Jesus?" Good question Molly. Anyway, here we are together watching the parade, and then there's a picture of Molly waving to the people going by.

And then on Saturday night, we went to one of our friend's annual Christmas party (leaving Molly with Emily... thank Emily!). They do an ornament "white elephant" exchange every year and the ornaments range from traditional to tacky to creative. I recieved one of the more creative "homemade" ornaments. How ironic is it for a woman who's pregnant with twins to recieve a condom ornament? (photo taken from Andrea's blog) I think we'll leave that one off of our Christmas tree...

Then Sunday night we attended Steve's staff Christmas party, once again leaving Molly with a sitter (thanks Paige & Oscar). Two nights out for Mommy and Daddy in one weekend! Whoo whoo! Anyway, his company hosted a wonderful meal at a nice restaurant, and then held a Christmas raffle with gifts ranging from Home Depot gift cards to a flat screen TV! Steve won a $100 gift card to the Sportsman Warehouse, so we'll be using that to get him a new winter jacket!

The last couple of days have been busy preparing for Christmas and the arrival of my parents who will be flying in this afternoon. Molly and I have kept busy getting groceries, planning meals and cleaning the house. Here's some classic pictures of Molly assisting me with the laundry by donning every pair of underwear from my drawer.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Twins... and Christmas parties...

Hey everyone. A quick update on the twins. First of all, we have finally named them! Baby boy is going to be Garrett Steven and baby girl is going to be Paige Denise. We had our 30 week ultrasound yesterday (our 5th one so far), and both Garrett and Paige are doing great. They are about 3.5 pounds each, which is right on target. Unfortunately they're both breech now (feet down) so it's starting to look more and more likely that we'll be having a C-section. No big surprise really. Anyway, here's the 30-week profile shot (yikes... I should have put some lipstick on before this one):

And then tonight was our last Life Group (Bible Study) meeting. Actually it was more of a Christmas party then a meeting. They are such a fabulous group and it has been a hard decision for Steve and I to step down from leading and hosting, but with the twins coming... it was time. It's hard to believe that we've been leading this group for three and a half years now! Each and every one of our group has impacted our lives in some way! Anyway, here's a classic picture of our group from tonight.

One of the highlights of the evening (other than the awesome food) was our annual White Elephant gift exchange. And one of the most hilarous gifts of the evening was definitely the "Jesus Action Figure".

We ended up stealing this particular gift for Molly and by the end of the evening she had Jesus and Cinderella paired up. I just had to get a picture...

Monday, December 15, 2008

It's Christmas!

Well, this Sunday was our church's annual Christmas service and it included a really cute children's program. All the little kids got dressed up and Molly was a "townsperson" decked out in pink. She looked pretty stinkin' cute! Here she is with her buddy Ava.

Unfortunately I missed the entire thing because I was up on stage behind the kids playing keyboards with the band. But Steve snapped pictures and took video. He didn't have a great angle of Molly from where he was sitting, but you get the idea. Like most of the kids (the majority of whom are under the age of five), she wasn't exactly singing out at the top of her lungs, but I was proud that she at least sat up there in front of everyone without freaking out! Not bad for a two year old!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Fun with Puppies...

If any of you follow my photography blog, you will have seen that I recently did a photography session with a family that had NINE golden retriever puppies. Molly and Steve were with me for this shoot (it was a coworker of Steve's) and Molly was in total puppy heaven. Just imagine her running in circles INSIDE of the puppy coral with nine furry bodies chasing after her. She was completely joyous. Since I had my gear set-up we shot a couple of photos of her with one of the dogs. Obviously she wasn't dressed for a photo session, but she was more than happy to pose with her new friend...

I had a doctor's appointment today and everything is going great with the twins. My blood pressure, glucose tolerance and protein levels are perfect. My doctor even commented that usually twin moms are anemic by now, and my iron levels are great. The babies are both healthy and measuring within an ounce of eachother. My uterus is pretty much measuring the same size as someone who is full term pregnant with one baby (I'm measuring at 38 weeks)... so that explains my lack of comfort. The scary part is that I'm going to get bigger! Ack! Anyways, at least the babies are doing great!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A quick twin update...

Just thought I'd jot down a quick update on the twins. We're at 28 weeks pregnant now... which means we have about 7 to 9 weeks to go. The babies each weigh around 2 1/4 pounds now and are around 15 inches long. I haven't taken a recent profile picture, but here's the 28-week diagram from My tummy is measuring around 36 weeks pregnant so let's just say that I'm definitely getting "uncomfortable".

I've had some interesting comments lately from people that I thought I'd share:

1. A boy and girl? How exciting! Do you know if they're identical twins? (I've been asked this MANY times.)

2. Are you sure there's not three in there? (Ummm... thanks. I'm actually not even as big as I was full term with Molly.)

3. I would shoot myself if I found out I was pregnant with twins. (Thanks for the encouragement)

4. Twins? You didn't make your babies in a petri-dish, did you? That stuff is nonsense. (Ummm... when is it okay for a total stranger to ask this?)

I actually find all the comments kind of funny. A LOT of people have asked me this week if I'm having a Christmas baby and it's really fun to see their reactions when I tell them that I'm not due for 2 more months and I'm just big because it's twins. People get really excited for you. And with Christmas just around the corner, it's inevitable that time is going to fly by and the babies will be here before we know it. I'm getting more and more excited. Now if only I had more energy...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Crazy Thanksgiving weekend...

Hey everyone! Happy belated "American" Thanksgiving everyone. For those of you who don't know, we celebrate Thanksgiving in October up in Canada. Steve and I had a busy, but productive long weekend. Thursday morning was spent cooking sweet potato casserole and Nanaimo bars for the feast that evening at Steve's aunt & uncle's house. We joined 15 of his extended family for the holiday, and ate enough to feed a small army. Yummy!

Then on Friday, Steve and I decorated our place for Christmas. Molly had a blast playing with the nativity sets and is currently obsessed with all things having to do with Baby Jesus. It's been fun to talk to her about what Christmas is really about. Today she decided that we need a cake AND balloons on Christmas day to celebrate Jesus' birthday. But I notice that she still asks EVERY day for Santa to bring her a guitar at Christmas, so she definitely has a taste of the holidays' commercialism too! Anyway, she had a blast helping decorate the Christmas tree and it's so fun to see her get into the Christmas spirit!

On Saturday, we spent all day getting organized for the arrival of the twins. Molly officially moved into her new "fish themed" bedroom. I'll have to take some pictures to show you how cute it turned out. And we gutted the bedroom closets and organized things to make room for all the twins "stuff". It's become apparent to me that becoming a parent means getting rid of all your stuff to make room for your kids stuff... especially if you have a small house like we do. Anyway, I'm proud to say that we are relatively organized now, including going through all of Molly's old baby clothes and sorting them by size and season. Now we're ready to paint the nursery! Yay!

On a more sober note, we found out today that my grandfather (my mom's dad) passed away this weekend after a battle with congestive heart failure. It was sad news but we have peace knowing that he is no longer suffering and is with God now. Please keep my family in your prayers over the next week, particularly my mom and my Grandpa's wife Rosemary (second marriage). Although we all have peace about him moving on and not suffering anymore, it's always sad to lose a family member. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Birthday Steve!

Well, yesterday was Steve's 35th birthday! Unfortunately, he has been suffering with an allergy induced sinus infection so he wasn't in super "party mode", but we managed to make it a special evening. For dinner we went out to the restaurant of his choice... the Squeeze Inn! If you're not from the area you're probably not familar with this place, but it's been voted the "Best Dive" in Sacramento for the last 6 years by Sacramento magazine. It's also been featured on the Food Network on "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives" and is best known for the "Squeeze with Cheese", a burger with a cheese "skirt" grilled right onto the bun. Mmmm... heart attack on a bun...

And as if that wasn't enough cholesteral for one day, we finished off the evening with a birthday cake from the Cheesecake Factory - Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake to be exact!

And of course Molly helped Daddy open his presents. She was also very adament that we buy him balloons as well. Because apparently in her eyes, a birthday isn't a birthday without balloons and cake.

Happy Birthday to the best husband, father and friend that a person could ask for. I love you Steve!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Girls just want to have fun...

I am starting to come to the realization that my daughter would ALREADY rather hang out with her friends than with me. Now don't get me wrong... she's still Mommy's little cling-on. But when her buddies are around I'm definitely second rate. It's interesting watching her social side come out. It's a good thing that she's getting siblings because something tells me they will all be close! Anyway, here's some cute pictures of Molly and her buddy, Isabelle. Most of the pictures of those two looked something like this (goofy, goofy girls):

At least they complied for a one particularly cute shot!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Maternity Pics...

Hey everyone! Today, our family went out with my photography buddy (DeAnna) and her family to swap photography for Christmas cards. DeAnna got some great photos and Molly was surprisingly compliant. I won't post any of the family pics because I'll save those for the Christmas cards, but DeAnna also took some maternity shots. I figured if we want to document this pregnancy, we'd better do it now before I'm overly huge!

On the baby front, we had another ultrasound this week. Being a "high risk" pregnancy, I get a full ultrasound every four weeks, which is kind of fun. The babies are measuring right on target (they take around 5 different measurements), although the femur lengths are measuring a week and a half longer. The sonogram tech said that looking at Steve it seems the babies have inherited his long legs! We thought that was pretty funny! Anyway, it's just nice to know that everyone is right on target! Yay! And it's also nice to confirm that they're still and boy and a girl.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The latest and greatest...

Hey everyone! Life here is trucking along! We are enjoying the fall weather, which for Sacramento includes warm afternoons and cool, crisp mornings & evenings - perfect weather for warm bubble baths (see photo below). We are making headways on Molly's new "fishy" bedroom (a theme that was her request). This weekend we painted the walls light yellow on top with light blue waves/water on the bottom. Very cool! I'll post some photos when it's all done.

On Friday, Molly and I made our second trip up to Apple Hill. This was our annual trek with some of Molly's church buddies. Imagine 5 minivans, 9 parents (8 moms & a dad) and 15 kids (ranging in age from a couple of months old to 5 years old) making the 45 minute trip into the foothills. It seemed like there were kids everywhere, but was made easier by the fact that all of the parents help out watch the kids and keep them in line. It was a good example of how it takes a community to raise a child! And of course, Molly not only loved being around all her little buddies (see photo below with her friend Kaya), but she got to ride the ponies yet again, which is pretty much heaven for her!

And the twins and I are doing well. At the request of my ever persistent sister (Trish), here is the latest belly picture of me at 25 weeks pregnant (see below). No laughing please...

I am indeed starting to get pretty uncomfortable. And although I'm only 25 weeks along, I could be having these babies in the next 10-12 weeks (twin gestation), which seems pretty darn fast to me. Also, when you look at the picture below of twins at 24 weeks, it explains my growing discomfort. They're each just over a foot long now and I occasionally have the horrible feeling that my abdominal muscles are being ripped apart from the inside out. Not a pleasant feeling... ouch! My muscles and skin just can't seem to keep up with the rapid rate of growth. At least it will all be worth it in the end!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween Everyone!

Well, today was a fabulous day! For Halloween Molly was a "Fifi doggie" (in her own words)... also known as a pink poodle. I really enjoyed Molly's excitement for Halloween and her insistance for wearing her costume almost every moment I would let her. The day culminated with dinner at our friends' house. We had hot dogs and homemade macaroni & cheese (a traditional Jarquin Halloween meal) and Molly was in heaven. And then we hit the streets with her little buddy Winter to get some candy. The first few houses Molly was very timid and was pretty scared by some of the older kids' ghoulish costumes. But she got over it when she realized that people were throwing candy in her bag (although Daddy still carried her most of the way at her request). Then she finished up the night by downing a Kit Kat with some milk and heading home to bed. If I were a two-year old, I would say it was the perfect day. And I got so much joy watching her smile all day long!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Watch out Celine Dion...

I'd like to present Molly's singing debut for your listening enjoyment. In her latest efforts to pursue a passion for music, she has begun making up songs about random subjects. And usually the subject of the song is the only word that is understandable by normal English speaking people. You'll notice that she is standing on our elliptical machine while she's singing, because apparently it makes the perfect stage for her performance. You'll also notice that at one point she stops to check her "microphone" and say "check, check, check". She must be watching Mommy pretty closely during worship band practice!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Home from Portland...

Hey everyone! We're back home from Portland and we had a wonderful trip! We thorougly enjoyed our visit with Steve's sister Christie, Scott and Hailey. And let me tell you... Hailey and Molly had a blast together. For the first time they actually really enjoyed interacting with one another and we'd occasionally catch them exchanging spontaneous hugs without any parental prompting. It was pretty darn cute! And of course, Portland is a fabulous city with tons to do. On Saturday we went to the Farmer's Market and enjoyed some awesome food! Here's some pictures from that outing!

And then on Sunday, I had a fun time shooting some family portraits for their family (I'll post more of that session later on my photo blog when I've done some editting). Christie picked this great park for the pictures, and all the trees were changing colors and dropping leaves. It couldn't have been a nicer setting! And of course Molly had to get into the action so I couldn't resist snapping a couple of her too!

After the photo session, we went to a local farm to enjoy some fall festivities. The kids enjoyed seeing the farm animals, going through the maze of straw bales, and picking out their own mini-pumpkins to bring home.

And then on Monday morning we let the girls paint the pumpkins that they picked out. They were very serious about their artwork as you can tell from the picture!

We got home late yesterday (Tuesday) and are still trying to get back in the swing of things here. It was sad to say goodbye, particularly because we know we won't be able to get up there again for a while. This is pretty much our last trip before the twins come. The day that we were leaving I was telling Molly that after her nap we would be getting on the plane and going home. She said, "Hailey plane?" and I told her that Hailey would be staying there at her house. She simply said, "Molly sad" and hugged me. How's that for a tear jerker. You can tell those two little girls love eachother very, very much!

Friday, October 10, 2008

A trip to Apple Hill...

Today Molly and I went up to Apple Hill with our friend Katie and her daughter Chloe. For those of you unfamiliar with Apple Hill, it's a collection of ranches in the foothills that sell produce and have "attractions" for the kids such as animals and pony rides. It supports a huge cottage industry and people sell everything from crafts to homemade jam, pies and fudge. It's the epitomy of fall with pumpkins, caramel apples and straw bales everywhere!

The kids had fun taking in all the action and Molly particularly enjoyed her first homemade apple fritter. Yum! And Katie and I got laughs at the MULTIPLE people that asked us if we were sisters, or if Molly and Chloe were sisters. I guess we're all just so stinkin' good looking that we look related - hahahaha!

But the highlight for Molly was DEFINITELY her very first pony ride. I was so proud of her. She wasn't scared at all and was very serious about hanging on tightly. And when she got confident, she'd even reach down and give her horse some gentle pats. I may have enjoyed watching her more than she enjoyed the ride (which may explain the 50 pictures I have of her on that horse). It was heart warming!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

IT'S A......

... girl AND a boy! Yup, this morning Steve and I had our diagnostic ultrasound, and thankfully the twins were cooperating and let us see their "goodies". We were able to clearly see that we are having a boy and a girl. Very exciting! Twin A, the lowest twin, is a girl and will be born first assuming that I can deliver normally. She's hanging out on my left side. And Twin B is on my right and he's a "he". I've been having dreams about them being a boy/girl set, but I must admit that when they told us the first one was a girl, I was a little worried that we might not get a boy too. I must admit that I got a little teary when they said we would get our boy after all!

So I'm now 20 weeks pregnant and probably have around 16 more weeks to go. I'm about the same size as I was at 30 weeks pregnant with Molly.

And for those biology geeks (like me), here's a cool diagram of what the twins may look like in there at 20 weeks (this is taken from We have ultrasound pictures, and when I get them scanned in I'll post some. The babies are each around 6 to 6.5 inches long now from head to bottom, and about 10 inches long from head to foot. This pregnancy definitely feels like it's going by much faster than my first one!

I told Molly after picking her up from preschool that she was having a brother AND a sister. She smiled at me and then ran off. I guess that's her level of excitement. I suppose that a 2-year old doesn't really understand that her world is about to be rocked!