Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Thanking a Spouse

I once heard that to make a marriage work well, each spouse should put forth 100% effort toward pleasing his/her mate above all else. At first when I heard that, I rolled my eyes. Someone would get gypped - what a sucker. As I discussed my pessimistic viewpoint with whomever started the conversation (sleep deprivation removed the sharpness of my memory long ago), I was asked to think about the grandness of both giving 100% for one another - always putting the other's needs first.

Sure, as soon as one begins to put himself first, the balance is upset and someone gets gypped. But how about making that your aim in your marriage - both agreeing to try it? My DH and I talked about this very topic tonight on the phone as we made some compromises due to our hectic scheduling these days. Neither of us is enjoying the constant running, but we're kind of stuck for right now. I'm relieved that we can openly talk (often on the phone, boo hoo) about why we're determined to support each other and not let circumstance damage our marriage. I'm so thankful to be married to the nicest guy I've ever known - he's even nicer than my dad, who's pretty darn sweet as he is.

All around us, marriages are in trouble - one after another. Family. Friends. Colleagues. Hunting buddies. Knitting sisters. This week alone, we've learned of two marriages on the rocks that are mighty close to home. I can only pray that they figure out how to get back on track before too much damage is done.

Talk about a reality check. I am so very thankful for my own great fortune in finding my Darling Husband/Awesome Daddy. I am also very prayerful right now. Our loved ones are hurting and it's not something DH or I can fix for them. Do me a favor and go kiss your spouse and tell him/her your favorite things about your marriage tonight. And then say a prayer in appreciation.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Plant Disasters

After an exhausting past few days of some special personal and work events, I brought the kids home from daycare tonight hoping for an easy evening. Grandma Barb, our daycare sweetheart, told me about the wonderful day everyone had, including the 3-hour naps. Silly me, I was an optimist.

During our 'toup (soup) dinner tonight, Breanna simply could not resist splashing in her bowl. No matter how many times I instructed her not to. And Lillian simply had to spoon broth onto her arms. Repeatedly. Both soon reverted to their earlier childhood and found it fun to drop food over the side of their highchairs. Mean Mommy took away the trays and left the girls to sit in strapped-in splendor while she rushed Baby Grant off to the tub. He was wearing more supper than he ate.

While I was bathing Grant, the girls had a screaming contest to see who was loudest and could hold their scream the longest. And then came the quiet. By the time I raced back to the kitchen, I saw that Breanna had scooted her highchair over to my favorite plant and pretty much demolished it. There are about three twigs left and perhaps a leaf or two. Dirt everywhere.

I yelled so loud my throat still hurts. I startled poor Grant, who joined in on the noise. When I asked Breanna why she ruined Mommy's plant, she said, "Breanna naughty. Funny naughty." And she laughed and laughed. For the first time, I actually considered a bare butt spank. Luckily, I'm too exhausted. Both girls went into the tub and then into bed. And they prayed so beautifully that I'm grateful I didn't spank her - the guilt would have killed me as I watched her fold her hands and say the entire "Now I lay me" prayer.

So, I've come downstairs to avoid the dirt and soup. It will suck to clean up because of the wetness and the noodles - they never sweep well. I suppose, enough procrastinating. Up I go to scrub, and then straight to bed. I'm single parenting tonight and I just need to crash. Sweet dreams.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Gramma Pamma

My girls are totally obsessed with my mother, a.k.a. Gramma Pamma. Each day, they ask where she is. They see cars they think are hers. They look for her outside the window. They tell me on the way to daycare each morning that we're going to Gramma Pamma's house.

This weekend, they were in their glory. We celebrated my grandmother's 88th birthday with some family and nurses and residents at the Memory Care home in Brainerd. Everyone was in great spirits and the children brought a lot of life into those walls.

From there, Gramma Pamma drove my van and let me drive her sports car to Unc'a Billy's house, where Daddy and Papa 'tebe were replacing windows. We spent the rest of the day and evening with Gramma Pamma, playing and laughing a lot. When we left at bedtime, all the kids crashed right away, and thankfully, I did not.

When we arrived at our house safe and sound near 10:00, Breanna woke up and immediately asked where Gramma Pamma went. When I said she was at her house, she asked why. Question after question, she finally asked if Gramma Pamma went night night at her house with her pillow and blanket and bunny, to which I replied yes indeed. She then showed me the baseball-sized stone she'd brought home from my folks' house. Gramma Pamma's rock.

Then she looked up and discovered the little lights in the night sky. It was the most beautiful night we've seen in ages and so we sat on the front step (Lilli and Grant were still in the van, sound asleep). We followed an airplane with our fingers and Breanna asked if it was Gramma Pamma's airplane. Then we just snuggled in and watched the stars. It was one of the most peaceful moments I've experienced in a while. I'm warm and smiley just remembering it. To make the night an ultimate, Grant didn't get up until 7:00 this morning, meaning he slept 11 hours straight. Yes!! Now let's see what tonight brings. It's midnight and he's been sleeping since about 8:15.

Motherhood rocks.

Friday, September 26, 2008


Last night I had an awesome networking opportunity - I rubbed elbows with about 500 of Mlps./St. Paul's richest Catholics. I went to the preview of the Vatican Splendors exhibit at the MN History Center, along with the top donors to the Archdiocese's Foundation. While I was extremely tempted to invite my husband as my "And Guest," I decided to be a little more politically savvy. I instead invited a fellow communications director at a nearby university. We were by far much younger and much poorer than nearly everyone else in attendence, but it still was neat.

The conversation there and back wasn't nearly as entertaining had I been with DH, but it was still nice. We compared baby notes - his first son was born this summer. And we discussed lots of ways our two entities can collaborate resources.

The exhibit was wonderful. It was multi-sensory, complete with just the right ancient sounds - you could even smell the age in some of the more porous materials. Seventy percent of the artifacts have never been shown outside this exhibit - not at the Vatican or anywhere. That alone made my heart pump a little faster.

The wine was mighty nice, as well, but nothing ever could top the apple crisp at the end of the line. It came with cinnamon whipped cream and was simply divine.

I look forward to taking DH to the museum when we can go at our own pace - in much more comfortable shoes, without the hobknobbing aspect. I also thought of several other folks who would really enjoy it - my folks, the Jeffreys, Uncle Cliffy...

If you get a chance to go, do it. It's not a stuffy musuem experience in the least and the emotion it stirs is pretty powerful. I'm so thankful to have had the break in my icky schedule to do it.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Buckets of Giggles

As I gracefully single parented tonight, we had what some might call a disaster in our bathroom. I prefer to think of it as help with cleaning.

I was burping Grant in the hallway, where it was a little darker than the bright and giggly bathroom during bath time, where he'd been trying to fall asleep, exhausted from growing another tooth over the weekend. His tilly tisters were having fun pouring pishies (plastic fish) of bubble water over each other's head. All the sudden, the noise level went up about 20 decibles.

Huge splashes!

Uproarious laughter!

Little girl snorts!

Startled crying from Baby Grant!

Those crazy twins had grabbed the hair-rinsing bucket and were pouring bathwater onto the floor faster than you can imagine. All over the clean jammies I had laid out for them. And the dry diapers for the night. And the hoodie towels. And my pretty new slippers. In the few seconds it took for me lay Grant down in his crib, turn on his mobile, and race back in to the waterworks, every inch of bathroom floor was puddled. And the girls were laughing so hard they were out of breath and crying.

How can you yell when they're having so much fun? I tried really hard to have a stern face, but my goodness, their laughter was infectious! I thought about spankings, but honestly, they'd have been too slippery anyway. I just had to shake my head and herd the dripping girls into their bedroom to prepare for bedtime.

All I have to say is that at least it wasn't toilet water.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Breanna the Italian?

Our little multicultural family is keeping the laughter alive. Breanna has added an "eeuh" sound after all her nouns.

"Hi, Mommia."

"Big lellow school bus truckia."

"Silly green froggia (pronounced poggia)."

Now if the twins start crossing speech patterns, we might get really comical. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

le French Lilli & her Tilly Tister

My little Lillian has begun speaking with a French accent this week. Everything starts with le or la, and then has the accent. It's adorable, although I have no idea where it's coming from.

She and her silly sister (pronounced tilly tister in our house) are really getting into jokes, now, so we sure have a lot of laughter and eye rolls. When the underground sprinkler guys were setting up this morning and we were loading into the van, Breanna called out with purpose, "Good night, girls," to the installers (three men). Then she giggled and said, "Noooo, good morning, guys." It's non stop!

Baby Grant has been just as smiley as ever, and he tasted his first honey teriyaki pork chop last night. I think he fell in love with it. He's getting bigger each day and eating more than I imagine can fit into his strong little body - and he's even sleeping for 6-7 hours in a row from time to time. But when he wakes up from a long stretch like that, look out - he's absolutely famished and very loud about it.

We've all had the luxury of having Daddy home a whole bunch lately and it's been fantastic. I'd forgotten how much I love being flirted with, and now that we actually have a little time to breathe, our flirtation is back. He's promised to only have one overnight trip to Fargo each week from now on, and that, I can handle. Plus, he's on the ball with vacuuming. Way more than I am. And I so greatly appreciate it.

I still haven't unpacked any boxes at all in September and all three garage stalls are still full and I still haven't found half my suits, but oh well. We'll get there. I only have two more weeks of heavy-duty wrap-up of my large freelance committment, which happens from 8 - midnight after the kiddos are in bed each night. Come October, I don't know what I'll do with all that free time.

Oh yeah. The garage. Perhaps I'll find my missing pots and pans.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Those Calls

Don't you just love those phone calls that take you out of your chaotic life and calm you? I had a voicemail from a dear friend in California yesterday morning that really made me smile. Then last night, I heard from another dear friend, this one in Wisconsin. We traded stories of potty training, work, money, spouses, faith, etc. After months of no contact, we picked right up and talk about refreshing!

I reflected this morning on my way in to work about all the places I have these kinds of friends. I think the furthest is California, or perhaps Florida. And then a smattering all across the middle.

Cheers to the technology that enables us to stay in touch - even in unconventional ways. Hooray for emails! Blogs, too! Simple as they are, text messages are great, as well. Thank you nerd pioneers. And thank you, my pals, for keeping in touch. You help me feel much less lonely as I continue to parent solo in a new community. Please come visit in person when you can. I do have a spare bed set up (although sheets and a mattress pad might be a challenge).

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Jump Hoppers

What a fun evening of chasing jump hoppers across our driveway! Breanna followed them with each jump, which was a delight until she landed on one. She picked up the smushed grasshopper and looked at it quizzically, questioning, "No jump?" She then handed it to me and asked me to fix it. Good thing I could distract her with a poggie (frog) that came hopping to the rescue, landing right on Lillian's shoe. Thankfully, the giggles were gleeful and no one screamed.

Now that the weather has finally given us a break, I've been much more apt to get outside with the kiddos. We ate our supper on the front porch this evening in 66-degree sunshine. The start of the sunset was just too beautiful to watch from the dining room.
Here are a couple recent photos from a morning visit to a local rose garden. My kiddos were subjects in a photo shoot for the upcoming Respect Life campaign. The silly photographer (who is actually a reporter and not a photographer), tried to get the kids to pose, with comments such as, "Now hold the flower in your right hand and turn to look over your shoulder," or "Put your hand on her shoulder and then give her a kiss on the cheek." Silly gal obviously doesn't have kids, or any experience photographing two-year-olds, anyway. We still came up with some cute shots, though. The girls particularly enjoy the granite fountains that had a smooth, wet edge at the perfect splash height.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Still Whirling, But Smiling

I found the trick to travel sanity, thanks for some forced creativity for a weekend roadtrip to close up the cabin. My cousin and her 1-year-old daughter joined my kiddos and me for the smashed-into-one-little-green-van trip, so we put Breanna in the back back with Baby Grant and Lillian and Baby Chloe in the middle, with us big girls in the front to hop back to pop in nuks and dole out snacks and toys.

I didn't even consider suicide once. For real. We had a great weekend with lots of close conversation and plenty of bonding. The kiddos all were good, and even those who were teething were really fun to be around. My sister and her new baby were there, too, so we enjoyed a lot of mommy talk. It's hard to believe that I have the big kids - and they're only 2!

After we returned home Sunday night, I got the kids off to bed and then realized that I had a couple hours of free time until DH returned from his fruitless antelope-hunting trip. I got laundry going and then curled up with a cookbook. Aah, the glory. For 15 minutes anyway, until Grant woke up and insisted on being held the rest of the night while his new teeth tried to work their way out.

Labor Day was spent just hanging out and doing the 10 million loads of laundry we'd all created. The girls are getting into joining us for praying, so we practiced the sign of the cross quite a bit, along with the "Now I lay me" prayer. We also worked on colors and counting (got up to 10 - holy crap!) and we did our animal noises, too. We all know now that antelopes say "wee wee." Breanna has become close friends with Grant's "tubba bear," which sounds sometimes like "taco bar." Both girls continue to talk about all the "lucky" things, such as poop and buggies and snot bubbles. Lucky indeed.

Although DH technically moved in with us full time for real, he's leaving tomorrow morning to go back and work in Fargo for a few days. He still hasn't lined up a place to stay - brave man thinks he can just "crash" somewhere. I wonder if he realizes everyone he knows now has families and isn't really into the bachelor lifestyle any more. These jobs are dragging out forever, it seems. One day when we're all together all week long, I'll finally get in to get my highlights done again. Until then, I'll continue my progression toward looking like Brittany Spears. Yikes. Trailer city, here I come.