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The People's Voice: We were doubly blessed

On Monday, our photo chief, Alex T. Paschal, took a new mugshot of me, upon my request.

Check it out in today's newspaper. That’s one happy dude. Why? you might ask.

Well, I love it here. Throughout my time in sports, I met a lot of incredible people. Then I came over to news and was offered the chance to write a column on people in the Sauk Valley. Boom. More incredible people met.

I’ve been humbled to sit down with timeless treasures like Cletus Terveer and Capt. Grant C. “Jack” Young. One of my favorite column subjects was the uber-charming belle Carole Patton. For my first column, I got an exclusive interview with Santa Claus. My latest? I got a ride in the Chicken Car. You know, the one from TV.

But if you avert your eyes to the other photos packaged with this column, you’ll see the little miracles that put that smile on my face.

See, 364 days ago, two little girls became my favorite residents of the Sauk Valley. Truth be told, they pushed the bar to an unreachable height. At 3:32 and 3:33 p.m. Aug. 10, 2013, I fell in love in a way I’ll never experience again. That’s when my daughters, Anna Elisabeth and Elise Rae, were born.

Game changed. Over the next 72 hours in the hospital, I experienced different brands of pride, love, hope and fear than I’d encountered. The day my wife, Kayla, and I got to bring the girls home, I lost it, somehow managing to say (blubber, really) the words of appreciation for changing our lives forever.

Since the girls arrived, I’ve fielded innumerable requests to write about them. The first came the day we went home from the hospital. While Kayla’s mom took care of her, I zipped to Walgreens to buy her pain meds. A woman working in the pharmacy’s drive-thru told me she didn’t care for my sports writing, but then promised to read if I wrote about the girls.

I’m pretty sure her tongue was in her cheek. The baby fog makes it hard to remember. Either way, how could I not make good on the request? There’s no better subject matter.

So what would you like to know? Elise is the thinker. Anna is the ham. But they’re both such bright-eyed, social spirits. They’re threatening to walk. They’re little lovers.

They’ve made life as easy as we could have asked for – at least life with two infants at once. We’ve had our rough spots. Sleep-training and teething? Yeah. The struggle is real. Although I strongly recommend the former, for all you aspiring or expecting parents out there.

Putting weight on them was the most intimidating undertaking of my life. But today, they’ve made the curves. Happy and healthy is a massive understatement, on both fronts.

They’re so stinking smart, clearly making the most of their mother’s genes. In that same vein, as you can see in the photos, we’re likely missing out on our meal ticket by not hiring agents to get them into baby modeling.

They love going for runs with us, having even endured as many as 7 miles at a crack. They’re champion eaters. (Hello. They’re their parents’ children.) They roughhouse and mess with each other. They love blankets and adore their “big brother,” our black lab, Dexter. All told, the giggles far outweigh the cries every day (true even during the dreaded Wonder Weeks).

They might be the most hilarious people I’ve met, big or tiny. They like to descend on anyone who dares lie down on the floor and then try to re-arrange the subject’s face. Or envelop their target’s nose with their entire mouth. Like so many things, it’s as bizarre as it is hilarious, and even tender. There’s something oddly endearing about the way they kiss, their mouths agape.

One of their new favorite pastimes is putting a plastic ball in Dad’s mouth. He shoots it into the air like a whale blasting Jonah from his blowhole, sending both peanuts into laughter that only gets louder with every subsequent trick.

All of these attributes and observations, along with several thousand more, are in a journal I’ve been tapping away at since we got home from the hospital.

Sure, I’m a journalist at heart, so it makes sense that I wrote down everything. But I can’t recommend enough that new parents write things down, when they can spare a minute. Naps are a great time.

Take pictures. Lots of ’em. Once upon a time, I thought that on the day the girls were born, I’d take pictures in only the delivery room, in order to make sure I didn’t miss anything. The next thing you know, I’m sharing first pictures of both girls, then pictures of them with mom in recovery, then pictures of them snuggling in their first bassinet. Like beautiful flowers, troping toward each other like the sun.

With every press of the “post” button, my family in northeastern Wisconsin, my friends on the East Coast and overseas, they were all right there with me on the biggest day of my life.

Now here we are, several thousand pictures and videos and a solitary day shy of a year later, and life just keeps getting better. There are hills and valleys. That’s life, and it’s never going to change. But on the whole, with every passing week, every month of revelation, the meaning of life becomes clearer and clearer.

So if you see me, there’s a pretty good chance it’s the greatest day of my life.

Thank you, Anna and Elise, for making that possible.

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