People are ALWAYS asking me, "how much easier is this pregnancy than your first?"  And it's been very different I can tell you. Not always easier, but different.  First and foremost, here's the current situation.
S t a t s

Twin Pregnancy: Emmy and Bennett
Born at 36 weeks and 4 days.  Was measuring 47+ weeks.
Induction because of Cholestasis.
Babies weighed 6 lbs 3 oz and 6 lbs 5 oz.

Singleton Pregnany:  Margaret (Maggie)
TBD :) I am currently sitting at 39+ weeks and measuring right at 40 weeks.
Lots of Braxton Hick's contractions the past week, but nothing huge.
Going to try for natural VBAC delivery.  Wish us luck!

With the twins, it was not only my first pregnancy, but it was a high risk one and one that none of my close friends or acquaintances had been through.  I was overly cautious, aware and called in to the triage line with all kinds of questions and concerns during the later months of the pregnancy.  I was also working full time days at the time and it was more convenient for me to go over to labor and delivery at KU if I wasn't feeling like something was right.

I didn't drink caffeine, watched very closely what I ate, and was a GEM at taking weekly baby bump pics.  I even had energy and motivation to work out all the way up until I was about 30 weeks! It was as straight forward a pregnancy as you can get, until the end where the Cholestasis hit and my emergent delivery (for more on that, check back to January 2016 posts for my birth story).  I remember the weeks leading up to the delivery:  it was winter so the weather was dreary, cold and unforgiving.  I struggled with things to wear (maternity stuff is great and all, but finding things that were comfortable and didn't look like a sack of potatoes was hard for me).

I was LARGE, ladies and gents.  For those of you who don't remember... here's a couple of belly pics right before they were born.
This was taken my last day of work with the twins.  I stopped working just before hitting 34 weeks and it needed to happen.  I was too big and too uncomfortable to do my job well and ended up needing those few weeks to rest and try to gear up for life after the twins.  Although, I did go a bit stir crazy, that I do remember.
4 days before they were born!  I felt really good that day.  Probably because it was Christmas Eve and that's my favorite holiday.  So thanks for being born around then JC.  Helped me out.
I just remember hating how big and heavy my belly was.  And pregnancy means a heavy belly, I get that.  And it is such a short amount of time feel uncomfortable for such a beautiful miracle (in our case 2!) of bringing babies into this world, but at the time, I couldn't get in and out of bed by myself, off the couch, into the car normally, or even just sit normally.  When sitting down becomes even uncomfortable, well I'll let you imagine.
Day before they arrived!

Hard to really see the true comparison of my belly with both pregnancies since I was NOT great at taking belly pics this time around.  I took a few and here they are next to the twins.

18 weeks with Twins
18 weeks with Maggie
21+ weeks with twins on left and with Maggie on right
34 weeks with Twins
34+ weeks with Maggie
With my current pregnancy, I'm already farther along then I have ever been.  Sitting at 39 weeks now, I am ready to meet this little girl like crazy!  Alex thinks she will maker her appearance on the 5th- Cinco de Mayo and her Grandpa's birthday!  I would be super happy with this week- as long as she is healthy and I want a safe, smooth delivery.  It's definitely testing my patience and my inner planner is a wreck.

37 weeks with Maggie
38 weeks with Maggie
39 weeks with Maggie! 
Overall, this pregnancy has been pretty straightforward.  Besides my bout with Pericarditis in November, things have been very normal.  I haven't had any signs of the Cholestasis returning, I've felt big but NOTHING compared to the size of my twin belly.  The hardest part of this pregnancy has been keeping up with the twins (shoutout to the blog name).  Toddlers have some ENERGY.

I would say the biggest difference for me has been the size of my belly and missing out on the weekly ultrasounds to keep up with weight gain and see the babies.  I haven't seen Maggie since her 20 week ultrasound and it seems so long ago!   I'm so eager to see who she looks more like, if she has hair, how much she weighs, yada yada.

Can't wait for the next blog post... which will be after Maggie is here and I'm so excited to introduce her to everyone!  Hope everyone is enjoying the Spring weather (FINALLY) and gearing up for what will be an awesome summer, I just know it.
Until next time,
Lauren, E, B, & MJ
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Hi friends!  Feels good to be back and writing again.  I'm sorry I've been MIA but my computer broke and it's been super hard to find ways to blog without it.  So here I sit, on my anniversary gift from Alex finally getting back into blogging!

Yesterday marked Alex and I's 3rd anniversary.  I feel like every other day I am saying how surprised I am life moves this fast.  And it's true.  Looking back on those pictures and reminiscing makes me so happy.  The day was perfect.  Everyone we love and care about were at the party and it was everything I could have imagined and more.

Just the best wedding party  E V E R.

L i f e

Saturday we were blessed to have a little "sprinkle" for Maggie!  It got us even more anxious for her arrival.  I'm almost 38 weeks and I am just itching to meet this little girl.  But not from Cholestasis!  Thank GOD no signs of it this time around.  My belly has been a bit itchy but I think it's just from the stretching.

People often say, "whoa! you're big!" and I don't really care because all I feel is that I'm LOADS smaller than I was with the twins.  Hell, I didn't even see 37 weeks with the twins!  They were born at 36 weeks and 4 days!  It is so surreal to me that I am having a "normal pregnancy" after having a high risk one and that being all I knew.
My rock.  Alex has been so great spoiling me throughout this pregnancy.  He's so patient, helpful and determined to make me as comfortable as possible being pregnant and mothering 2 toddlers.
I cannot wait guys.  

T w i n s   U p d a t e

One of the most common things I hear from people is, "are the twins ready for the baby?"  And my response is always the same... they have no idea what's coming.  But really that's not 100% accurate.  They know there's a baby in mama's belly, named Maggie.  They know she has a room, decorated and full of cute clothes and diapers.  But I don't think they understand she will be another permanent addition to our lives in just a few (hopefully short) weeks!

B & E are growing like weeds.  We bought little potty's for them awhile back to get them interested in   but so far we have only had one successful pee from Bennett.  We are working with Emmy on just being comfortable pooping in her diaper.  She had a terrible bought of constipation and it hurt for her to poop for awhile.  So now we are just encouraging her to not hold it in.  Our pediatrician told us a half cap of Miralax a day mixed in her juice can help if she's gone a few days without being able to poop comfortably.  For now we are putting potty training on the back burner until Maggie is here and well established.  We don't want to train and spend that time, only to regress and have them want diapers after seeing Maggie in diapers.

They are talking like crazy, having somewhat regular conversations, understanding Alex and I more and of course, arguing with each other.  I try not to laugh but when they get mad at each other, they will send each other to time out.  It's hilarious.

We have LOVED going to Toddler Storytime at the local public library.  It's a 30-45 min program where the librarian leads them in stories, singing and dancing to themed songs, and little hands-on activities like the noise sticks above.  They were super nervous about it at first but now they expect it every week! 
Indulging in donuts!
The hat lasted for 2.5 seconds.
Emmy's true love: Belle.  Just as I loved Beauty and the Beast, she is equally (maybe even more) obsessed.
Playdate with the Walters!  We have loved having playdates with people as the weather's been getting nicer.  It wears the kiddos out and ensures they get a good nap (and I can get some rest too!)

Papa Murphy's has these "Mini Murphy's" kids pizzas that come with the dough rolled out and toppings so kids can make their own pizzas!  So cute and such a good idea.  They loved it.  Thanks Mom!

We don't have huge plans for the last few weeks before Maggie gets here.  I just want to relax, take in Spring, spend time with Em and Bennett and try to enjoy the last few weeks of being pregnant.  

Until next time, and maybe with a baby in my arms...

PS: Pics of the nursery!  Alex painted the room and it turned out super cute, could be one of my fave rooms in the house.  Baby girl- we can't wait for you to see it!

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As some of you may have noticed, my footprint on social media has disappeared the past few weeks.  I've decided to give it all up entirely for Lent and deleted it off my phone.  I wanted to share this with you all before I left but I felt that was even defeating my purpose for doing it.  I did it for clarity of mind, for myself.  To reconnect with silence, boredom, and my kids.  To show them that when I have a free second, it's not sucked up by the brightness of a phone screen.  I didn't want to broadcast it to the world.  I didn't feel the need to.  But here's a few things I've noticed so far, and it's only been a few weeks.

1.  I still find myself staying close to my phone.  Even with it stripped of it's "scrolling endlessly" functions, I still find myself checking my email more, looking online for recipes and communicating/ texting with people.  I still feel the need to have it close by.  Hopefully this detachment will happen over these next 40 days and I can go without needing it on my person.

2.  My battery life lasts longer.  I used to have to charge my phone halfway through the day.  Now, I'm not using it near as much as I used to and saving battery life.  It's a small plus but still noticeable.

3.  I notice more people sucked into their phones.  With the more "free time" I have without mindlessly being on my phone, I notice the world around me on theirs.  It honestly doesn't bother me, it just seems so robotic and it takes human experience out of things.  The first time I felt awkward without having the media on my phone was in the doctor's office waiting room.  Every single person waiting was on their phone, busying themselves with the apps I'd given up.  I was left with my email and the unread magazines on the tables.  And guess what?  I survived.  Would you believe it?  I won't say that it's been easy.  I know I'm missing some announcements (babies, birthdays, engagements, etc)... but I know what's going on in my best friend's lives and I'm more than okay with that.

That being said, I'm planning on doing a couple "invisible posts" on the blog.  Hinting at the fact that they won't be shared to social media and all who stumble upon them, just stumble upon them.

Life update:  I am about 30 weeks along with Maggie Jo and she's getting so big!  We are MORE than ready for her and so excited to be a family of 5.  I know our biggest challenges in life have yet to come but I am ready for them and can't wait to tackle them head on.  B & E are super excited too.  They will be 2.5 when she's born and they already know her by name.  Potty training has taken a backseat for now.  We don't want to push anything too fast.  We will be ready when they are.

Hoping everyone has a happy end of February!  This month can be a hard one.  But we are almost done and on to March!  Spring, basketball tournaments and St. Pat's!  Some of our faves.

See you soon!
Lauren, E & B (and MJ)

We had the most snow we've had in a few years and naturally we wanted to introduce E and B to it.  They were pretty skeptical at first.  In fact, Bennett hated it.  But after a little time, they warmed up to the freezing, powdery fun and helped Dad shovel the driveway.

We are almost finished with our first 8 week stretch of swim lessons at the Rec Center.  The twins LOVED it.  Besides the timing (8:50 AM Saturdays) I am so glad we did it.  So worth it.  They are already way more comfortable in the water than they were 2 months ago.  Making me that more excited for sweet sweet summatime. 

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Happy New Year Everyone!

I kind of strongly don't like the whole "new years resolution/ new year, new me" yada yada that happens every year, sorry to start off negatively.  To me, it's setting myself up to fail.  Because let's be honest, I'm still going to end the year spending too much money on things I don't need and eating delicious foods that aren't really that great for me.  BUT... I am going to try and tackle something this year: debt.  When the babies were really tiny and I was able to actually listen to a podcast, I listened to Dave Ramsey.  I like the way he teaches people about money, especially someone like me, who's view of money is totally out of whack.  Anyways- more on that to come in another post.

2018 is going to be one hell of a year, I just know it.  Let's talk about where we're at and where we (think) we're going!

E m m y  &  B e n n e t t

 THEY TURNED 2!  Can you believe it?  We celebrated on their actual birthday: Dec. 30th.  We took them to Winstead's, a local KC diner, with our families then back to our house for cake, presents and drinks!  It was the perfect night because we didn't overdo anything.  Last year was so crazy with almost 60 people here for their 1st birthday.  AND if you can remember, Bennett had a bilateral ear infection that day and we ended up missing the beginning of the party being in the ER.  

This year was much better.  I made both of their cakes (from a box, but homemade frosting- mom win) and they turned out super cute.  Here's the link for the frosting I made- super easy, and tasted amazing, even days later.  Bennett's was Pooh themed and Emmy had a Trolls cake.  I found the toppers on Amazon for super cheap.

(Pics courtesy of my Mom and Olivia Morgan)

Now that they are two, it feels like the next step for them is to potty train, learn how to communicate better and take them to more social experiences to learn how to be around other littles.  That's the 'perfect plan' and it'll go off without a hitch right?  HAH.  I'm tired thinking about it even as I type this.  But everything will come with time.  I'm not putting any time frames on anything.  It would be nice to have both of them out of diapers by the time MJ comes but it would also be nice to have a private island.

They're doing sooo great with their skills.  Alex has taught B how to shoot baskets and sweet Emmy can sing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" in it's entirety.  I'm so proud of how they act in public and around people.  I would be lying if I said they played together nicely all the time though.  We are still working on sharing and not screaming when we want things, but hey... they just turned 2 right?  Plenty of time for that.

M a r g a r e t   J o a n

I'm 22 weeks today with baby girl and May still feels like an eternity away.  126 days left seems short though, and I know it'll be here faster than I know.  Alex finished the nursery over winter break and I love it.  Probably my fave room in the house.  I will share pictures closer to her arrival.

18 weeks
20 weeks
*** I haven't been keeping up with belly pictures QUITE like I did with the twins, but here are a few... better than nothing amiright?

She's a mover and a shaker, I can already tell.  I'm not sure if she really has more room in there because the twins stretched everything out but she moves SO MUCH and I love it.  I often find myself just staring at my belly and watching her jabs, imagining she's saying, "I know the twins are ganging up on you, but I got your back Ma!"  No, in all seriousness, it's pretty amazing to feel the movements of one compared to two.  In the early weeks with the twins, I never knew who was kicking or moving.  Towards the end I could tell more, but I just feel a different bond with MJ already.  And I am beyond excited to see her.

F a m i l y   L i f e   &   Y e a r   a t   a   G l a n c e

Christmas Eve Mass
We are coming off "winter break" as Alex went back to school today.  It was bittersweet.  I have absolutely LOVED having him home.  We did so much around the house and spent so much time just being together.  Christmas was amazing and exhausting.  We had so much family time, which was amazing and so needed.  Sinking back into normal life is nice too.  We put away all our Christmas stuff earlier than last year, as we were ready for a clean slate and the simplicity of January.  Once all the Christmas stuff was gone, Alex kept saying how "bare" things looked around our house and truthfully, it was!  But I love it.  The space to create, move and grow as a family and open up our lives for Maggie is there and ready.

Family Pic Outtakes
Alex's Christmas Party
Annual trip to the Train exhibit at Union Station 
Things with Santa went...
Literally 2.5 seconds after the Santa pic and candy canes in hand!
Dinner on the Plaza!
Alex will begin his next semester of grad school in the next few weeks and the twins will start indoor swim lessons Saturday!  I'm actually psyched for that.  It'll probably be a disaster but getting them started early was the advice I was given, and so we will go.

I'm starting this year with no huge expectations, lots of diffusing of oils and candles, more blogging and keeping things simple.  I wish everyone the best and can't wait to share what this year has in store for us.
See you soon!

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You guessed it... we are pregnant!  And excited as ever for baby #3.  Even as I sit here and type that, it's weird, awkward, scary and somewhat amazing at the same time.  I don't feel like this is baby #3 since Em and Bennett seem like a package deal.  Wrapping my head around this pregnancy was very different than with the twins.

We didn't plan for the twins, as they were expected to arrive 9 months after our wedding.  Everything about that pregnancy was just "different".  Since we planned this pregnancy and it's definitely only one baby, it all seems very new and somehow foreign.  I started showing around 7 weeks (to myself) and now at 17 weeks, it's no longer, "did Lauren put on some winter weight?"  I have started to feel a little movement and in the ultrasound at 12 weeks, that kid was jumping all over the place.  Must be like moving into a huge new apartment made for two, by yourself.  That or the little babe just knows it needs to practice up for getting away from E&B so it's working on it's moves.

We waited to share this news and chose this as the main outlet because we feel like pregnancy announcements on social media can be so joyous for most people but can also touch the most vulnerable parts of others.  That's a direct quote from my husband Alex.  Please don't mistake our secrecy for un-excitement (if that's even a word).  We are thrilled and so ecstatic for this little one to join our clan.  We just want to remember there are people out there that are struggling to get pregnant, or have had traumatic experiences regarding child bearing and we just are especially sensitive to that.

This pregnancy has had it's many ups and downs so far.  Alex and I had a miscarriage this summer, very early on, within a few weeks of finding out we were pregnant actually.  I won't say I didn't feel inadequate or that I didn't question every thing I ate or did during those two weeks, because I did.  Of course those ugly feelings of guilt come around but thanks to Alex, family and my close friends, we were able to move on, gather ourselves and be able to start trying again.

The first trimester was difficult.  I found out I was pregnant right away (at 4 weeks) and we were so excited.  Nervous, but excited.  The early symptoms started around 5-6 weeks.  Fatigue, round the clock nausea, upset stomach, dizziness, zero appetite, etc.  These guys were the starting line up.  The most frustrating symptom, however, was the dysgeusia, or a the metallic taste in my mouth.  All food sounded bad and tasted horrible.  Nothing sounded good, even water.  I lost like 10 pounds just from not eating and feeling nauseous all day.  I just tried to find things that sounded good and go with them.

When I hit weeks 10-11, I was feeling better.  Now, as I sit at 17 weeks, my biggest pregnancy symptom is being tired.  But I have a feeling it's because of the 2 gremlins I chase around on a daily basis.  We hit another road bump the weekend before Thanksgiving when I woke up with sharp chest pain.  The day before I had some shortness of breath and some pain that I attributed to heartburn, which I had with the twins.  But Saturday night, the pain became paralyzing when I laid down and I knew something was up.  Sunday morning Alex and I went into the Emergency Department to be met with a diagnosis of Pericarditis.  HELLO MEDICAL TERMS, what does that mean?  The Mayo Clinic's definition is the swelling and irritation of the pericardium, the thin, sac-like membrane surrounding your heart.  See their picture below.

Sometimes, fluid can fill up in the space and causes compression on the heart and can create a pericardial effusion.  I had a little bit of that.  My biggest symptoms were sharp pain on inhalation and when laying flat, shortness of breath, and weakness and numbness to my left arm and shoulder.  I was told the cause of this most of the time is viral, but it can also just happen, which is terrifying.  The treatment for me so far has just been ibuprofen around the clock for 3 weeks and next week I will have a repeat ultrasound of my heart.  My cardiologist didn't seem too worried about me and thinks this could just be a one time thing.  But, I'll be seen for checkups for the time being to ensure it's getting better and not worse.

The whole fam came and kept me company in the hospital.. We even took a family nap which was actually glorious.
We ended up having a fantastic Thanksgiving despite our issues.  We traveled to see my family in Indiana.  My cousins all have kiddos around the twins ages making this year the best Thanksgiving yet.  It's so great to see my babies playing with their babies just like we did growing up.  I know that's sappy but it was so special for me and I loved every minute of it.

Cousins: Emmy and Lilly 
Kids table!  

We recreated this cousin photo from back in the day- 
We grew up... and added lots of kids!

Movie time-- aka parent hang time.
We will see how the rest of this pregnancy goes, I am hoping and praying pretty uneventful.  Our technical due date is May 10th.  However, I decided to have a scheduled c-section because of the last delivery.  And I am measuring about a week ahead of where I'm supposed to be.  That being said, I'm going to be ready to see this baby by the end of April!  And we will be finding out the gender and we already have names... so stay tuned y'all.

Since I haven't had a blog in awhile, here's some recent pics from this fall-

Twins first zoo experience (out of the womb)

Buddy.  Loved.  These.  Guys.

We hope everyone is having a great week!  I'm trying to finish my Christmas shopping by this weekend, but one can wish.  I can't believe it's December 1st already.  I'll soon be turning my attention to a 2 year old party for my sweet loves.  Ah what is life.
See you soon!
Lauren, E&B

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Hey guys!

We have been loving fall here in KC and been enjoying parks, libraries and being outside without the fear of being eaten alive by mosquitoes or suffocating in the humid Kansas summer heat.  Fall is when I feel most alive.  I know it's cliché and very basic to say fall is my favorite holiday but pardon my french, I don't give a s***, I'm gonna say it.  I feel alive, rejuvenated, fresh, and the most myself I ever am in fall and with that... comes all good things.

I don't know if this is a new trend that will eventually catch on or if she literally doesn't get it, but she wears her glasses upside down and it makes me so happy she's mine.
Buddy, takin care of sis.  Putting her purse on.  Characters, they are.

Em girl- full of SASS.

I've thought about doing a post like this forever with some current things I'm loving, as a mom and human. And with that....

1. French Vanilla Lattes

Guys.  I'm normally suuuuch a PSL (pumpkin spice latte) girl but this season, it's not my thing.  Haven't had ONE.  Don't get me wrong... I am still loving all things pumpkin BUT this sweet, simple drink is my jam right now.  It's just a vanilla + hazelnut latte.  BUT the barista at Starbs told me to order a French Vanilla latte and it's the same thing.  It's so good.  And so fall-ish.

2.  Toddler Talk

Em and Bennett are talking like, all the time now.  Mini sentences even.  "Dada work" (when Alex leaves for school),  "Mama water" (when I have my water bottle around), "No go downstairs" (when Bennett doesn't want to go in the basement).  And Emmy girl can count!  She can count by herself to 11! After that, she starts over at 8?  It' the cutest dang thing ever.  I think she picked it up from Sesame Street.  Bennett is so good about asking for things and always including Emmy.  We have also hit a stage of biting, and so "sorry" and "I love you" are heard round the clock in our house.  They are pretty good at making up.   I haven't figured out our discipline for that yet.  TBD.

3.  Apple Crisp

This one's easy.  But lately, the craving has been stronger than ever.  We went with our awesome neighbors to an apple orchard and got some apples (and apple cider donuts obvi) and my taste for this sweet goodness overwhelmed our household.  Below is my Aunt Nancy's recipe for an incredibly easy apple crisp that more of a dessert and is best with warm cream or even better: vanilla custard.  It's not the apple crisp you may be used to but it's easy and delish.

4 C. sliced and peeled Granny Smith Apples
1/4 C. water
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt

Topping (You can use any streusel topping)
1 C. sugar
1.3 C. soft butter
3/4 C. sifted flour
Sprinkle of cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350℉.  Arrange the sliced apples in an ungreased 8" square pan.  Mix together the water, cinnamon and salt.  Sprinkle over apples.  Mix the topping with fingers until crumbly.  Spread over the top of apples.  Baked, uncovered for about 40 minutes.

To their HIGHEST delights, they has Wizard of Oz characters at the orchard and I seriously thought they were going to faint when they saw them.

We can't get enough of our neighbors.

Two happy, happy, sugar filled boys.

4.  Disney Movies

I'll say it again: very cliché of this 90's baby to like and want all the disney movies for my kids.  They have seen Toy Story, Ling King, Aristocats, Beauty & the Beast, Bambi and countless more and I'm pleased to say, they are loving it.  Dad, not so much.  Those dang movies are all like $20 online and digital is the way to go nowadays.  Ugh.  So it's been a slow collection of the movies but with the holidays and birthdays approaching, maybe we can add a few.

5.  Coloring Books

We hit up the dollar store recently and I'm so glad we went.  They had disney and sesame street coloring books, crayons, flashcards, and we only got through one section of one aisle!  I know it's mostly kinda junkie stuff BUT the nice thing is that everything is a dollar!  And I don't feel bad if the pages get ripped, or barely colored on, or lost.  Which is nice with two 22 month olds.

6.  The Public Library

We recently discovered how awesome libraries are.  And it used to be a fear of mine to bring my babies there since one of their favorite pastimes was pulling all the books off their bookshelf every day, multiple times a day.  BUT we found a library close to us that caters to little ones as early as 6 months old.  They have a toy kitchen, activity area with coloring books, toys, building blocks, dinosaur action figures (Bennett's jam) and so much more- they even change it with the seasons!  They also have toddler story time on Tuesday's- we haven't been but are planning to go soon!  And best of all?  It's FREE!  Research one close to you!  I'm sure they have activities for tiny humans just like ours.

7.  Spiced Cider Candle from Anthropologie

This one is self explanatory (and not an ad).  But seriously... if you want probably the most potent and beautiful smelling autumn candle, this is it.  Yes it's a $30 candle but I'm here to tell you: if you are a candle person and a fall person, this is your spirit scent and it's worth every single penny.  Per Anthropologie's website, here is the description:  nutmeg, clove and cinnamon are layered over fresh apple and juicy orange notes... I mean COME ON!  Love it.  And the jar is so pretty- can't beat it.

8.  Quilts

Seasonal love.  Alex's sweet Grandma has such a talent for quilt making.  She gave me my first one when I graduated from nursing school and our second for a wedding gift!  I love how cozy they are and after being washed a handful of times, quilts only get better and softer.  She even made tiny quilts for the babes and we used them as tummy time quilts when they were little.  Joan, thank you for your love of quilts and for sharing your talents with our family.

This is the pattern of our quilt for our wedding.  It's my favorite.
9.  Work/ Flexible Schedule

This is a weird love right now... very weird.  BUT I'm feeling thankful for my job.  I recently worked an all night case and it just solidified my love of where I'm at with nursing.  And I'm just super thankful for the time I'm able to spend with my kids.  I know that's not the case with most people, so in this season, I'm counting my blessings.

Our favorite thing to do during the days, if we aren't at the library, is frequent parks.  We've found an AWESOME park that caters to toddlers.  It's a newer, redone park and I think that's why.  There are 2 separate playgrounds, one for ages 2-5 and one for 5+.  Normally when we go to playgrounds, the babies always want to climb to the highest spot and give mom a heart attack from the ground.  I spend most of my time racing up rock walls and slides to get to them and make sure they don't fall.  With this park, I can breathe easier and let them roam and explore without the fear of them getting too high.

My advice?  Research parks online in your area.  Lots of times people will rate them and leave comments about how well they work for certain age groups.  There's also an app: winnie that I found that caters to "modern parents" (whatever that means).  It's basically a community that helps you find kid friendly places to eat, local activities or even the closet changing table to your location.  It's been pretty great to use and I haven't even used the whole app yet!

Everything is low to the ground, and easily accessible for little ones.  

 This particular playground has interactive sound makers too.  Such a huge deal for toddlers who are hands-on (which is basically every toddler ever).

10.  Holiday Books

This is a new love and inspired by my Mom and her friend Nikki.  Growing up, we would have Christmas books that would make their appearance in our home when the decorations came out.  Nikki has been so generous with the babies and bought them books for holidays.  (PSA: books are the best gift you can ever give kids... seriously... their parents will love you).  I've decided that we are going to start collecting books per holiday and I'll put them away with the decor to get them out so the kids can love on them again.

Anyways, hope maybe this list sparks something in you.  Anything.  Working on another post already for the beginning of November!  See you soon!

Lauren, E&B

We went to Alex's school's auction this weekend and the theme was, if you can't tell, Mardi Gras.  Alex was the emcee and he was the hit of the party with that giddup.

I even got a selfie with the Archbishop... he asked ME for one. Such a sweet man.

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We had quite an eventful Labor Day weekend... and not in a good way.  My sweet Bennett had a febrile seizure.

Thursday we were gearing up for my Dad's party on Friday night and we were laying low.  Bennett was feeling warm and acting a bit off.  He is always the one getting sick of the two and so naturally, I suspected a bug coming on, gave him some Tylenol and we started upstairs.  We had a normal nighttime routine, brushing teeth, bedtime stories, and cuddles... and as I laid Bennett down to sleep, he turned on his side, eyes rolled back and started convulsing.  I yelled to Alex, "he's seizing!" and grabbed him up out of his crib.  In the panic, Alex took him to the floor and turned him on his side, holding him gently and making sure he knew we were there.  Immediately, Alex started a timer... a key component to seizures.

I frantically called 911 and felt like I couldn't even stutter a word.  I was laying next to Bennett, not taking an eye off him.  Within a minute, Bennett stopped shaking and his breathing slowed, but never stopped.  He became drowsy and lethargic.  After what seemed like an eternity but was really like 5 minutes, paramedics and firemen were in our house, assessing and offering a sense of comfort to the room.  The whole time this was going on, sweet Emmy was right there in her crib, watching.  I remember hearing her say, "buddy?!" and just telling her it's alright, even though she didn't understand, and truthfully, I didn't know it was alright either.

The paramedics were fantastic.  They were calm, collected, organized in their questions, and were reassuring to Alex and I that things were under control.  I was so worried about how sleepy and groggy he was.  They told me it's typical after a seizure.  The brain and body are recovering.  We loaded into the ambulance and were headed to KUMed.  Alex called his Mom to come sit with Emmy and until she got there, our wonderful neighbor, Pelina, came and sat with her.  As I walked with Bennett out of the room, sweet Emmy lost it.  She was yelling out for him and to this day, it breaks my heart to think about it.

Once in the ambulance, we strapped Bennett into the gurney, he looked so tiny and was scared.  I quickly remembered to have Alex grab Pooh and thank God... that was a huge comfort to him.  We left the house after a few safety checks and a quick explanation of febrile seizures to a terrified mom.

Education time:  F E B R I L E   S E I Z U R E as defined by WebMD is a seizure that can occur in children when they have a rapid increase in body temperature.  Most commonly it affects kids from 6 months to 5 years of age and normally the fever gets to above 102℉.  The highest we clocked his temperature before the seizure was 98.9℉ about 20 min before bedtime.  Nothing to even really think twice at, right?  Not even a fever really!  By the time we reached the hospital, he was 101.4℉ and that was after some Tylenol.  The paramedic explained to me it can often times happen and not happen again.  The biggest thing we can do it control the fever and make sure it doesn't rise again.  They explained they usually last 1-3 minutes (Bennett's was 1 minute) and usually won't cause any damage to his development or brain.

After a quick ride to KU and watching Mary Poppins on my phone, B was already looking more himself.  We were triaged, vitals taken and he was given Motrin.  Then came the wait.  They just needed to watch him and see how his fever progresses or digresses.  We were at the hospital until 1:45AM.  After sleeping a little in the room and getting assessed by different docs, they were discharging us with the diagnosis of febrile seizure related to a virus.  We were ready to get home and as we walked out of the ED, Bennett was waiving and smiling at every nurse we walked past.  I was so dang proud of that brave little bubba.

Of course, Alex had to take some pics of us... passed the heck out.  

As a nurse, and a nurse that works mostly in emergent surgeries, my response to his seizure surprised me.  I am trained to remain calm, act swiftly and efficiently, and know my course of action is helping the situation.  It changes with your children, or relatives for that matter.  You become clouded and scared and all the what-if's clog your brain synapses.  I was so thankful to have Alex there to be so calm and collected.  I learned a lot that day... about febrile seizures, about my husband's strong ability to act on a situation and about how freaking tough Bennett is.  The poor kid has had more issues than I can count on both hands, yet still manages to light up my life in ways I couldn't even imagine.

Thanks for the prayers and support, we feel so loved.  B is doing 100% and kicked that virus to the curb... only to get a cold this week.  Ah what is life with toddlers.

See you soon,

Now, a little point of view from Dada Keith:

Nothing can possibly get you ready for all of the things that parenting brings...
When we first found out that we were having twins my first instinct was to read books and articles and try and soak up as much information as possible. After almost 2 years of being a Dad, I now realize that while books and articles have their place, there is no training manual that will tell you how to react in high pressure situations. When Lauren screamed my name as Bennett was seizing in her arms the only thing I could think about was the last time I was around a seizure and how everyone else reacted.

It was last fall when a freshman football player had a seizure at practice. I was standing about 10 yards away from him and when the kids started yelling for a coach, I ran over. I couldn't for the life of me remember what I was suppose to do. My fellow coach, Matt Joshi was standing by me and immediately told someone to call 911, got the student to his side, took out his mouth-\\guard and started timing on his phone. As I watched him I was reminded of all the things I was trained on. It had always bothered me that I wasn't quicker to react, that I froze when I should have been acting.

Fast forward to the night of Ben's episode and I was channeling my inner Joshi. I honestly thought of my experience the past fall and felt completely comfortable getting him to his side, telling Lauren to call 911, timing it and making sure his little head was not hitting the ground.

The following morning Ben was doing much better and I decided to go into school that day. My lesson plans had changed just a little bit. We started all 5 of my classes that day with the story of what happened and what to do if you were to be around someone who had a seizure. I hope that my students can live vicariously though the story and be ready and alert if they are ever in the situation.

I live my life as an optimist, Lauren would say to a fault, probably. Even though my glasses are rose-colored, I know that there are going to be 1,000 more more stressful situations in these kiddos lives. These kids, as weird as it sounds, are hardwired for struggle and difficulty. It is how growth happens. Us as parents have to remember that as well. We are hardwired the same way and by design have good instincts to guide us through the traumatic times. Hopefully some new mom or dad, who was freaking out like I was, will stumble across this and be reminded that they are more than capable of going though the most challenging parts of being a parent. There is a little hero in all of us, don't be afraid to tap into yours.

I feel weird writing, so I'm going to give it back over to the woman who proof reads (rewrites) my important emails.


Father/Daughter relationship.  She's obsessed with him and him with her. 
Lots of cuddles for bubs. 
Sweet Em, with momma's glasses.  This girl barely gets sick, mosquitos don't bite her and her skin is perfectly soft.  What else could be better in life Em Lou?
Like father, like son.

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Hey all!

Wanted to touch on something that seems to always be a part of our lives: messes.

Toddlers are messy.  And to no real fault of their own.  They are figuring out what every single thing in this world is and their ferocious effort to figure all of the things out is both exhausting and incredible to watch.  I guess I would have that much energy if I slept 12 hours every night... I don't know.
My friend Olivia took the following pictures with her Dad's old camera that uses film.. i know... FILM!  What is this?! They are the most beautiful pictures and I love her like crazy for helping document these two crazies!

I've always been a pretty tidy person.  Keeping things picked up, clean and organized keeps me calm and content.  So you can imagine the change in my life when I found out we were having twins and now, twins that are on the move.  They definitely provide a challenge for a tidy home, to say the very least.   But we somehow manage, for the most part.  I wanted to share some of my tips and tricks for keeping things tidy and making sure your home doesn't resemble a daycare center.  If that's the look you're going for, then have at it.  But I like to still have some resemblance of our "style" and plan to keep it that way... even when we add more kiddos.

1.  Less is more.  Cue the eye-roll, as all moms probably know this but know how hard it can be to uphold it.  From the get-go, we were blessed to have very generous friends and family that gave clothing, toys, etc. and we were loaded down with everything plus the kitchen sink for twin babies.  As they have grown and are 20 months now, (whaaaa) we have been shedding "things".  For example, as soon as we could, we moved the babies to booster seats at the table and put the high chairs in the basement.  That change was not only good for our poor tiny dining area, but good for the babies to be at the table and to make meals family time!  Another area we have downsized a bit is the toy department.  At one point in time, we had enough toys to keep a dozen kids busy, but thanks to my mom, she sorted through them and pulled out all the "baby toys" including teething rings, rattles, etc... things toddlers don't need or use anymore.  I also went through the MOUNTAIN of books we had in the basement and kept the durable, loved ones while donating some of the repeated and unused books.  Keep tip here: clean out and get rid of the toys/ books that are no longer relevant, played with and used frequently.  This will keep the clutter to a minimum.  I do it about every 6 months.

***I have to call out a tool I used earlier this summer, that really may have helped me with this restructuring of our house.  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo is nothing short of brilliance.  I read this in less than 2 days (which is saying a lot for me) and got to work, starting in our bedroom.  Her methods of keeping a tidy home are fool proof, if you follow her advice to a T.  I'm still working at it, as having E&B makes it a little more challenging.  But.  Her methods have really helped me in deciding what is excess and what is necessary, what to discard and what to store away.  I HIGHLY recommend it.  

2. Change up the space of play.  Our living room used to look like a bomb went off daily (and still some days does).  We used to have a box of toys under the TV and almost every day it would be spread across our upstairs, in the couch cushions, under the table, pretty much resembling a daycare.  I decided to move all the toys downstairs in one confined area.  That's not to say the twins don't bring toys upstairs and spread things around the house, BUT there's a play area and its specifically for their toys and everything has a spot down there... away from the main living space.  It also will help us as we teach them to put things away.  Someday.  Maybe.  That will be the day.

In the basket under the TV are diapers and wipes... that shelf used to be overflowing with toys, books, stuffed animals...  
The other view... crayon explosion!
One side of our basement is basically La Petite.  This is actually pretty tame and considered "picked-up" 
The other side is the adult oasis of relaxation!  Jk. But we try to keep it toy free... that happens like 20% of the time.
3.  Creative storage.  I was handed down an old chest built by my Great-Great-Grandfather....  It has been painted more times than we can count and can hold tons of storage.  I think it's pretty easy to find these old chests, antiquing, garage sales, and if you can, I think they are AWESOME for just throwing a bunch of toys in and hiding them away.  Plus it's a great one to help with the first tip:  weeding out the un-played with toys.

4.  Life is but a beautiful mess.  My husband has helped me with this one and I don't even think he knows it.  Growing up, I was the kid that wouldn't go outside without shoes, a food fight at school terrified me and the thought of voluntarily getting messy didn't seem like fun (ahem, finger painting).  I know.  Kind-of a wet blanket.  But as I became a wife and mother, I think I've lightened up a little.  Every mess can be cleaned.  Eventually.  It might mean an extra bath or shower, or a good scrub with the magic eraser.  But most messes (with food or crafts) can be cleaned.  Most.  I'll update when I've come across something otherwise.  So end-all-be-all here is, live life and don't be afraid of the mess.  Once I changed that, I have been living a bit more at ease.   Look at how much fun your kids are having and (within reason) let them explore, make a mess, dump the crayon box out and put each one back in one at a time (Bennett).

90's day at the park... not really.. just for us...

We've been parkin' a lot lately and I don't hate it in this nicer weather!

Hope everyone is ready for FALL!  We definitely are.  My favorite season!  Tomorrow is September and I have a feeling we are closer than we think.  More updates this fall :)

See ya'll soon!

Lauren, E&B

Buddy and his rock collection... guys. I have no clue how this started. But its so cute how protective he is over them.

Just tryin it on for size... 
Kinda big...
Neighbor play date!  We have the BEST neighbors and we love how much our kiddos look up to them! 

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If you're tuning in for the first time, WELCOME to Keithing Up With The Twins!  We are in part 2 of our trip to Italy (just my husband and I) and it's continued below.  If you are here for just sweet babies pics and updates, scroll to the bottom of this post... and the next post will be a big one with more updates on all things babies...

Firenze (Florence)

We left Rome the morning of our 5th day in Italy and took the fast train to get there in time for lunch.  The views from the train were unreal.  We were getting into Tuscany and I could tell.  Alex got some much needed sleep on the train but I couldn't stop looking out the window.  I couldn't believe people called this place home.

Leaving Rome!  The train stations there were unreal.  So many people and so many languages.
From the train window!  Hello wine country!

Florence Walking Tour

We got to our hotel, it was a much larger room than in Rome, but still 2 twin beds pushed together for one bed.  We were energized to get out and see the city by this point.  Grabbed lunch at a place right by our hotel and paired it with red wine.  I tell ya what... a girl could get used to wine with every meal.  But I guess that's crazy talk right?  Yeah.  Alex told me when in Florence, red wine and when we get to Venice, white wine.  And that advice held so true.  Every glass/ bottle we had was perfect.

We started out walking tour of Florence!  Alex knew where to go first.  We started walking and all of a sudden this beauty popped out in front of me.  The Duomo, also known as The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore.

It's one of the biggest sights to see in Florence, and one of the most beautiful.  I was absolutely taken aback from this church, it was unlike anything we saw in Rome.  We started our Rick Steeves walking tour here and continued on through the city.

There.  Were.  A.  Ton.  Of.  People.
Apparently we were here during the busiest season for tourists and it definitely showed.  Still, we were warned and so we ignored the mobs of people and still saw everything we wanted to see.  Along with like 100,000 other people.
Doors to the Baptistry, across from the Duomo.
At this point, it started raining, for the first time on our trip.  We grabbed some gelato and popped a squat under an awning.  People watching was hilarious.  Some people ignored the rain and kept going, and other people ran like a bat out of hell.  I guess fashion is everything in Italia?
Beautiful church that used to be a granary.
My love, by the Arno River.

The Ponte Vecchio, one of the oldest bridges, drapes across the Arno connecting 2 sides of Florence.  It has shops all up and down it, and was flooded with people.  Fun fact, courtesy of my cute, personal tour guide:  Bridges along the Arno were knocked down during WWII per Hitler's orders but when they got to this bridge, they didn't destroy it, only blocked it off because it's historical and beautiful richness.  

Water, water, water.  It was pretty hot this day so we kept finding the water spikets and staying hydrated.  God I wish we had this here.  I never felt more hydrated in my life.

We wanted to rent a Vespa so bad in Florence but we didn't bring our driver's license's!  So remember to grab yours if you do.  Literally everyone drove these.  And we had serious FOMO.


After getting lost trying to get back to our hotel, we showered, cooled off, bought a bottle of red wine and sat outside our hotel.  We were heading to Settignano, the town Alex studied abroad at in 2011 with Benedictine.  We jumped on the #10 bus (my now favorite bus) and headed about 20 minutes north of where our hotel sat.
I have a problem.  I love wine and I have a problem.  We drank about 14 bottles total on our 9 day trip.  And that doesn't include the glasses of wine at meals.    
And the views in Settignano were heavenly.

The Villa where he lived.

It ended up being locked and we think people were on their break in between the summer program and fall start.  So we grabbed some pictures and walked around.  I cannot believe he called this place home for 3 months.  It was beyond words, beautiful.

All.  The.  Feels.  
After walking around in this quiet, tourist free town, Alex remembered the little restaurant he knew and would frequent during his stay.  We decided right then and there: fancy dinner.  Outside.  With wine.  And boom.  My favorite night of the trip commenced.  It was like a dream.  We sat, enjoyed the stillness, remembered and savored each flavorful bite of the 3 course meal and reconnected with how blessed we were.  Feeling a fluttery, warm feeling after finishing off the bottle of wine, we jumped back on the bus, headed down the hill and home for the night.

The owner of the restaurant, Michaelé, was a fantastic host.  He even remembered Alex and treated us like family coming to visit.  His little place was adorable, well kept, had an extensive wine list and even better food.

The food here was out of this world.  What we wouldn't give for this little place to be in Shawnee.  We started the meal with cold cuts and cheese.  My absolute favorite. 
The Basilica de Santa Croce

The morning of our next day we jetted out on the bus again, hoping to end up at the next basilica to see in Florence:  Santa Croce.

We jumped on the #23 bus (my least favorite bus ever) and ended up riding it out of town 30 minutes, only to realize that we were on the wrong bus.  After an hour on public transit that we didn't need or want to see, we jumped off... right where we started.  And decided to walk for the rest of the day... and that worked out just fine.

Michelangelo's tomb
Galileo's tomb

The Basilica was incredible.  I couldn't believe how many people were buried inside one church!  The floor was painted with various people of the church marking their graves.  Very surreal.
Again with the doors.  They were massive, yet welcoming.  
After the beautiful walk around the basilica, it was time to get our shop on.  We jetted out to the leather market in search of a purse.  We ended up finding some pretty great things and the people watching was incredible.  Every kind of person you could imagine was in that market.

We found ourselves walking across the Ponte Vecchio and found an awesome little sandwich shop for lunch.  Amazing meat and cheese sandwiches on fresh foccacia bread.  And wine to pair, for lunch... a dream.  And of course, gelato afterwards.  After a slow walk around the Pitti Palace, we set out back home, showered and geared up for another fun night.

Piazzale Michelangelo

After another (successful) bus ride, we found ourselves at the best outlook in Florence: the Piazzale Michelangelo.  We shared a bottle of wine and overlooked the city, permanently etching the picturesque view into our heads to never forget it.

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As some of you know already, Alex and I just returned from a trip to Italy, just us two.  It was an incredible trip, jam packed with adventure, wine, foreign language and all the proscuitto my heart could desire.  

We only took backpacks as carry-on's which terrified me when Alex first suggested it.  Ten days in Italy with a backpack?  Hell.  No.  I need my things and I need options.  But after further research and thinking of the logistics of the trip, it really was the best thing we could do (and now that I'm back, I am so glad we did!).  I'll share a few of my packing "must have's" in part 2.  They really saved me on the trip.

I'll share pictures and the trip in 2 posts so here we go with the beginning!

Trip to Rome
We left KC early on Wednesday morning, leaving 2 sleeping kiddos at my mom's house.  They were going to spend half the time with my mom and the other half with Chris and Becky, Alex's parents.  Our flight was at 6 AM to NYC, LaGuardia.  After a non-eventful flight, we met up with our good friend Mikey, who lives in NY with his family and happened to be on assignment for a job at LaGuardia.  Alex and Mike went to grade school and high school together.  It was so great to see him and have him point us in the direction of a New York bagel.  We jumped on a bus and ended up in Astoria for one of the best bagels and lox I've had.  We had a very long layover in NY and had to switch airports.  Our flight to Rome was scheduled for 7:30 PM from JFK.  So we knew we could get into the city, see something and make it in time.  We decided to go see the Public Library, since we didn't see it last time we were in NY.  We took the bus to Manhattan, then jumped out at a stop and walked about 4 miles, wandering, people watching and seeing the city.  We were loaded with our backpacks, so the warm NY day got to us pretty quick.  We got to the library, grabbed a seat in a quiet section and relaxed for awhile.

Nervous we would miss our flight, we set out to the airport.  We got lost for a bit, found a train and arrived in plenty of time for our flight.  We started boarding, grabbed our seats, got comfortable and started going through the movies we could watch.  Everything was going great until they announced we were delayed for a bag needing to be taken off the plane.  We waited about 20 minutes before they then told us there was a problem with the engine starter for one engine and they were having mechanics come up to look at it.  We had access to the movies at this time so we waited and just dove into La La Land.  After a little more waiting, they came across the intercom and told the plane we would need to deplane because the engine needs a part that is only in Atlanta and it's being flown up.  By this time it's 9 PM and we are just so tired of waiting.  The part is estimated to get there around midnight and we have a new departure time of 1-2 AM.  We took that for what it was.  These things happen.

Deplaned, got some Shake Shack (which is totally awesome, by the way) and a couple beers, grabbed a corner and camped out.  People were busy calling cruise lines, arranging delays in their trip and trying to pass the time.  Around 12:30 AM, someone came over the intercom and announced that our plane was fixed, but we don't have a pilot to fly us, as ours timed out.  Our flight was cancelled.  Frustrated, tired and upset, all 200+ passengers ran down the terminal to get another flight sorted out.  Thankfully, Alex and I were in the front of the group and we were told we would have another flight out the following day at 3:30 PM.  We were put up in a hotel, 40 minutes from the airport and arrived there a little after 3:30 AM.  Exhausted, we crashed and slept hard for 5 hours.  Shuttled back to the airport in good spirits.  We were going to go to Rome today!

We arrived with plenty of time, got some breakfast after getting through security pretty swiftly.  Our plane was there and we were anxious to board.  Most of the people on the flight donned the same outfits from the day before.  We were freshly showered and changed (another perk of carrying on all your things).  We boarded the plane, got comfortable and settled into La La Land again, picking up where we left off.  Intercom perked up again after about 30 minutes waiting onboard and we were told that what was fixed yesterday on the engine is now malfunctioning again.  AGAIN.  After 20+ hours it still wasn't fixed.  We were told to deplane, as they were going to turn off the A/C and it would get hot.  We deplaned and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  People were started to yell at the Delta people and I seriously thought we were just not meant to go to Rome.  And also that the movie La La Land was bad luck.

They then told everyone to head to another gate, they had another plane for us.  That plane needed to be cleaned and checked for safety and after about 4 hours, we were on the plane and backing out of the gate.  We didn't dare watch La La Land and decided we would try that on the way home, after we'd already taken off.  We left 24 hours after our scheduled time.  People cheered as the plane took off.  Me?  I applauded once we landed.
Not the most flattering photo, but once we landed, the trip became real!  First picture in Rome!


Flying into Rome was like a dream.  I really didn't think we would ever make it after that ordeal.  I felt like I had to share that craziness to show you how badly Alex and I were needing this vacation.  We were shuttled to our hotel, arriving around 11 AM and knew our tour of the Vatican Museum was only a short 2 hours from then.  We changed clothes and took off making it just in time!  That first walk through Rome was HOT.  And fast since we were trying to race the clock.  We used the metro while in Rome.  It was so easy to use and pretty much took us everywhere we wanted to go!  That first day was tough, as the jet lag hit us pretty hard after the time at the museum.  We hit an early dinner on the way home and were in bed by 7:30 PM.

We slept for 11 hours.  It's been awhile since Alex and I can say we did that.  We started day 2 with Mass at St. Peter's Basilica.  It was in Italian but the priest started out by saying it's okay if you don't speak the language, Jesus is the language.  Love.  It was powerful to be in such a beautiful place, the epitome of architectural genius, having mass and surrounded by people from all over the globe.  Breathtaking, to say the very least.  I felt so incredibly warm, welcomed, humbled and small.  Truly one of my favorite mornings of the trip.  We walked around the basilica and even made the trek up 500+ steps to the top of the dome.  I didn't think I had a problem with tight spaces and heights until we did this.  Not for the claustrophobic.  The views were incredible.

St. Peter's Square, looking out from the Basilica
Right after mass... The crowds were starting to thicken.

Saint John Paul II's tomb
Michelangelo's Pieta, behind bullet proof glass.  A mad man went at it with a hammer in 1972 (and who I found out was never charged with a crime... seems nuts) and ever since, it's been protected and safely away from the public.

Halfway up the dome!  Inside and right above the high alter... the people are like ants.  And those letters?  They're 7 feet tall.  Mind-blowing.

View from the top of the dome.  We could see the crowds gathering to hear the Pope speak...

After a quick lunch outside the Basilica, we started our heart of Rome walking tour, thanks to Rick Steeves!  Alex downloaded a bunch of free podcasts done by Rick that took us through the city, highlighting some of it's biggest and oldest treasures.

The Pantheon
The Pantheon inside dome, one of the oldest domes in the world.  Natural light coming in and that hole? It' completely open.  When it rains, water that comes in drains through holes in the floor.
Trevi Fountain
Tourists being tourists.

The Spanish Steps! (Above)

One of the coolest things about Rome is the accessibility to water.  Rome's water has been supplied by aqueducts since the 3rd century.  The city has little fountains and spikets all over with drinkable water!  We brought our Swell bottles and never went thirsty. 
We walked through Rome, stopping for gelato, shopping and slowing making our way back to the hotel to shower and get ready for a fancy meal.  The food on our trip was some of the best I've ever had.  It helps that Italian food happens to be pretty high on my favorites list.  All.  Of.  The.  Cheese and cured meats.  For real, I needed a break for 24 hours when getting home.  But I'm back at loving it.  And paired with wine?  COME ON.  What is this crazy, beautiful life we get to experience????

Just all of the love for this man.  He was the best personal tour guide for this trip and spoiled me rotten.  He made sure I had gelato every day.  Damn, feeling extra lucky.
We wanted to see some of the sites we saw during the day, at night too!  So we walked backwards and saw them all again... ending with gelato... because, well, we could.

The Trevi fountain all lit up at night!

St. Peter's at night... I kinda liked seeing it without all of the mobs there.
The next day, we hit the Colosseum and Roman Forum.  Unbelievable, the magnitude and height the ancient Romans could achieve.  Very hot this day, and rocky.  If you're going here in the future and have plans to see these, wear tennis shoes and take the hit for looking like a tourist.  Your feet will thank you.

I kind of had a fascination with the doors in Rome.  Seems like a very "mom" thing of me to have but they were intense, huge and held some very special things to the culture.  These particular doors are still swinging on their original hinges in the forum.  Like what?  I have doors at my house that need screws tightened and we've lived there almost 3 years.
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