Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Icky Sicky

Our household has the crud that everyone else around us also seems to have - going on 8 weeks now. I feel pretty bad for these kiddos, as everyone is drained and just not themselves. We're all starting a stronger antibiotic today, so hopefully it will do the trick once and for all. What a long fall/winter.

We moved Lillian's bed into her new bedroom in the basement this past weekend when we had our Nelson family cookie bake, which was fantastic in every way. We're excited to see that Lil loves her new room!

Because Breanna was feeling so icky on Sunday morning, she and I stayed home from church and watched it on TV. It was the TV Mass that I produce at work, and I was so proud of her for recognizing the cross on TV as the one in the chapel/studio at my workplace.

After TV Mass was done, she and I went into her new bedroom, which is still furniture free (at least until DH transfers the bed and dresser from Breanna's current bedroom upstairs). I asked Breanna where we should put her new bed and she said, "Right next to Lillian's bed in her new bedroom."

Ah, no. No way. Not a chance. Not even if pigs fly. They'd be up all night for years on end.

We opted for the second choice - using the window overlooking the pond as the headboard.

DH is going back into contracting full time as of Monday - meaning less than a week. That means no more evenings/nights at the factory. It also means that things around our house might start to be done, such as moving Breanna into her new bedroom, which has been completed and clean for a couple months now. Hooray!

Wish us luck as we all adjust to having a healthy house and two parents home each night again.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Where have I been?

I've been trying my darnedest to keep up with my crazy busy trio, who have been battling colds for the last month. Because I don't use a computer when the kids are around/awake, that means I've been pretty lax on the social networking end of blogland.

Besides rocking and reading to coughing kiddos, we've all been enjoying the new developments in our children. Grant is telling knock knock jokes like crazy, and is also potty training himself.

Breanna and Lillian are bringing home homework and special requests for stuff from preschool every Tuesday and Thursday. They're also having a ton of fun learning Christmas songs and the difference between uppercase and lowercase letters. We've moved Lillian into her new bedroom into the basement and will test out the new room tonight. Breanna's moving down next, once we (meaning DH) move her stuff into her room.

Besides starting to get ready for Christmas and building a huge website for my company in my freetime, I'm also recovering from a recent surgery on my other foot. A hobbling and elevating and icing I go.

So that's where I've been. Certainly not in a mode that's relaxing or peaceful, but survivable and kind of fun nonetheless. Once this dang website is done, I'm taking some vacation time from work and am going to decorate my house finally and maybe some other "me" stuff.

If I don't get a chance to wish it to you in the next week or two, have a wonderful Christmas!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

If only they knew

The kids are chatting up a storm these days - never stopping even to breathe, it seems. And the things they say are, well, let's just say it's good they don't know what they're saying in "grown-up speak."

This weekend, Breanna was whining to us because our neighbor boy "keeps trying to turn me on." He was chasing her around with toy keys. He kept taunting, "I'm going to turn you on," clearly not realizing why we grownups were having such a chuckle.

That prompted his mom to make a comment about Lillian's funny statement to the neighbor dad. The week after my foot surgery, the neighbor dad took my van and picked up my kids from daycare each night. Apparently, one night, Lillian asked him if he was going to sleep over with Mommy. We continued our chuckles last night and his cheeks pinkened.

Then this morning, Lillian wanted to be with me while I got ready to go to church. I curled a chunk of her hair with my curling iron - something we've never tried before. She loved it, but we didn't have time to curl the whole head, so I told her we would curl the rest after lunch.

After church, Breanna commented that she wanted crows. Crows? Yes, lots of crows on her head. I asked if she meant curls. No - crows. Huh? She explained that they are noisy birds and she wanted me to put a lot of them on her head. Uh, ok. Perhaps not.

Grant appears to be not much of a talker, unless you tune out the chatterboxes and listen to him. He's much quieter with the softest little honey of a voice, but he's got a lot to say. He keeps imitating noises, such as a train, Dad's diesel truck, my coffee bean grinder, the garbage truck, the hair dryer, the flushing toilet, and the washing machine, to name a few.

The fun continues...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lillian's Eyelids, Breanna's Marriages, and Grant's Chair

Tonight my Lillian kept walking around, telling me her eyelids were dirty. She couldn't see out of them. They needed to be washed in the bathroom sink - and she needed her privacy. Wise mom that I am, I went in with her, only to learn that her "eyelids" were actually her green binoculars.

Breanna has been telling me each day who she just married. "I got married yesterday," is the line. So far she's married our daycare lady's son (who happens to be extremely punk/alternative, complete with spacers in his ears and tattoos galore), Auntie Lissy, Dominic (her classmate from preschool) and Daddy. Hmmm.

And, they're getting into knock, knock jokes. They don't understand them quite yet, but they roar with laughter when they get each other going. The favorite right now is, Knock, knock. Who's there? Cow. Cow who? Moo. They find it to be the funniest thing in the universe.

Grant isn't talking nearly as much as the chatterbox twins, but he's trying really hard to get in a few two-syllable conversation pieces. He's enjoying saying body parts and pointing to them. When he points at his diaper, he says, "Dirty. Poop. Pe-ew." Even when he's all clean. I honestly think that's what he thinks the name is. Poor kid. Hopefully we won't be worrying about that complex for long. He's peed in the potty chair about five or six times now. And he'll tell us now when he has to poop. Not that we make it to the chair in time very often, but once so far. Keep your fingers crossed.

The little tykes are growing up quickly. Our evenings and weekends are full of these things. What a treat!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Halloween at Home

We had a lovely Halloween at home this year, and my dear ol' Daddy Do was able to join us for our fun day. My poor mom was battling the bug, so she kept her germs at home. Lillian was beyond elated to be a lollipop. Breanna was ok with being a peppermint, but she kept changing her mind. In the last month, she wanted to be a puppy, no kitty, no monkey, no toaster, no pumpkin, no sunshine...

I thought Grant was going to wrap up the theme in his cotton candy costume that I'd spent a couple hours working on -- until he boycotted it, that is. He was terrified of the bag; he wouldn't let me near him with it and when I snuck up to try it on him, he threw himself to escape and ran and hid behind the recliner. Plan B - he wore Lillian's puppy costume from last year. All was good.

After the trick-or-treating was done, we celebrated my dad's birthday with a smiley cake and then some presents in our new basement family room - what a treat to hang out by the fire together! All in all, the "holiday" was a real treat for all of us.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Are we the only ones?

DH and I saw each other for about 15 minutes this afternoon. It was a lovely little date. And we had a great visit. About our "normal" state of chaos.

I've had a nasty cold the past week or so, and it's really done a number on me - I think the cold medicine has made me particularly panicky about dumb stuff. Stuff like Lillian's special bag, among much other stuff. Poor DH must be beyond frustrated with me at this point.

On Thursday when we picked up the girls from preschool, Lillian came out with a canvas bag. I had her bring it back to her teacher to ask if it was supposed to be left there. The teacher said it was a Sharing Bag or something like that and that it was mentioned in the newsletter. Lillian was expected to bring it back on Tuesday.

This weekend, I dug through all kinds of papers and artwork and newsletters and junk mail, but to no avail. No newsletter explaining this bag. So I sent the teacher an email, asking for more specifics. Do we need to bring it back with stuff to share (i.e. snacks) or something of Lillian's to share for a Show and Tell type of thing? No response. And of course, the newsletter section of the school website is empty. I finally gave in and bought a big pack of snacks to bring incognito in case that's what's needed. And I helped Lillian pick out a special toy to share. Wonder how it will go...

I mentioned all this to DH this afternoon and he chuckled, commenting that the teacher would understand - life with preschoolers is chaotic. Then I pointed out that our life is way more chaotic than most, which is why I'm becoming neurotic in so many ways. He questioned me. Duh.

I work full-time days with a workload that could easily take at least 80 hours a week to fulfill. The kids are shuttled between daycare and school. I raise them and have all the house duties on my shoulders alone in the evenings. He works an evening job for 40 hours a week, and spends his daytime hours trying to start his contracting company here in a new community, as well as finish up our basement (which I'm convinced will never be fully complete, but that's another post). We still haven't moved into half our house, which means our three-stall garage is still full of boxes and I'm still parking outside. In our freetime, I'm having foot surgery and colds and other dumb stuff, trying to find some "normal."

We then talked about how almost all the other preschool kids are dropped off by moms in workout clothes and big fancy SUVs, clearly not ladies headed for the office. No wonder they always seem so calm and slow-moving. And no wonder we always seem to be on the run. But I guess it's par for the course. It's the decision I make each night - to read and work puzzles with the kids, to enforce bedtime routines and ensure we all say prayers - instead of plunking the kids in front of a TV and working on unpacking and organizing. It's a conscious decision, and though there's some sacrifice of sanity, I do deep down believe we're going in the right direction.

But man... is there hope? Will we ever get to be just a couple of 40-hour/week workers on the same schedule, eating as a family and visiting without one of us having to be home on sick leave in order to do it? Some day...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Patience of a Saint

It's a phrase I hear often - in the top 10 of most repeated phrases. "You must have the patience of a saint." And each time I hear it, I smile. Not because I actually am patient - in fact, I am one of the least patient people on the planet - at least on the inside. The reason I smile is because that phrase brings to mind my mom, every single time I hear it. Because she IS as patient as a saint. Perhaps she is just plain a saint. Too early to know for sure.

I had the wonderful opportunity to see Mom's patience in action just this past weekend. She took me in to the surgery center at 4:30 a.m.(!) on Friday to get my foot operated on. And when I woke up, she stuck with me as I faded in and out, never getting frustrated when I'd stop the conversation mid-sentence.

Throughout the weekend, I was not a model patient - well, maybe I was a good patient, but not a good hostess. I sat back and let Mom and the kids wait on me, and Mom wait on the kids, and also do some major slave labor. With a song and a smile, she just kept asking how else she could help. Even when the kids were whining, not feeling good, fighting, being toddlers, she smiled and tried distracting them with games and activities. All the while, she had the washer/dryer going all weekend and scrubbed stuff every time the house quieted with nappers.

If any of you know my mom, this doesn't sound like anything new. After all, she's been the Mrs. Cleaver role to many of our childhood friends. She's one where you just know that her true calling is to be a mom, whether to her own children or someone else's, she's always a mom. She nurtures, she has wise advice when she's asked for it, she doesn't push, she doesn't pull, but she always helps keep the big picture in perspective. She's one of those people who, when she says she's going to pray for you, you know she's going to do it diligently.

This semester, she's teaching a few college classes on top of her full-time career. Building a stronger base for her retirement (see? wise...), she's swamped every day, weekends included. Her patience is getting a real run for the money and poor Mom is simply dumbfounded by all this. And yet, she politely responds with the ultimate appropriateness, sounding patient as ever, continuing to lead by example.

I sure hope I pick up more of that patience trait as life goes on - it seems to really suit her well. May God bless my patient saint of a mother.

Thursday, October 01, 2009


As the kids and I snuggled into a pile of blankets on the floor with a pile of books tonight, Lillian looked up at me and grabbed my nose. "Mom," she said, "You have a big nose. It's almost as big as Daddy's."

Breanna piped in, "Almost, but his nose is big big big, like this," as she extended her arm all the way out to show how incredibly long the nose is. "His nose is like bumpernickle's."

"Bumpernickle?" I asked.

"Yes, that naughty boy who didn't tell the truth," she explained.

Lillian quickly corrected her, "That's not his name. It's Radicchio. Silly girl."

None of them noticed that I was laughing so hard I had tears.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Time to Cleanse

I just returned from a TEC weekend in Belle Prairie, MN. I helped staff a Christian retreat that has held a spot in my heart for the last 16 years; I was a resource, which means I guided and journeyed along with a small group of people experiencing TEC for the first time. The people on this weekend's retreat were amazing - beautiful souls - wonderful hearts. The spiritual director made me proud to work for the church and honored to be part of the experience. I made a lot of new friends and enjoyed working with some folks whom I really respect.

I had not been back to the TEC center for nearly four years - the last time I worked I was newly pregnant with the twins - it was there that my belly "popped" and I began to show.

Since my last retreat, I had certainly experienced a lot. My life is completely different now than it was then. Thankfully, a few important things have remained constant. My faith life has remained strong, my husband has grown even more cherished to me, and my family has continued to be awesome.

As I began to mentally recap the in-between years, I realized why I'm so tuckered out these days - life has been absolutely wild. There's been a lot of good and I SO greatly appreciate it. But there have also been a huge number of hardships - some really big ones - in a very condensed period of time. I was stricken with sickness, had babies who faced death, got "fired" from our first daycare provider, survived a really tough first year of preemie life (times two), started working for and soon left a totally nutso ad agency, gave away my dogs of 7 years, lost half my grandparents on the same day, dealt with way too much alcoholism from my in-laws, watched a couple cousins get cheated on, sold a house, built a house, lost my biggest client ever and sold the new house without even moving in, took a job on "the client side" - nonprofit - church, no less!, uprooted us all into central MN to take a job where those who need me the most don't want me there the strongest, inherited an explosive employee who actually tried to sabatoge me, learned that our hiring freeze meant that getting rid of crappy employees simply means I've doubled my workload, watched my poor husband give up his thriving company and move here at the worst possible time, became a single mom each M-F while my DH took a "factory job" working evenings, struggled with the massive pay cut that resulted from DH's giving up his company, spent a fortune on the kids' teeth to fix the prematurity problems, juggled myself between docs trying to find a way to fix my face, developed killer bunions, watched some loved ones suffer from cancer, etc.

No wonder it's felt like such a long road.

During this long road, I haven't given myself the time to process it all and grieve - the last time I'd even cried was when I was still in the hospital with the twins - heavily drugged and extremely foggy due to the physical pain. This past weekend, I finally had the luxury of time to let myself deal with it all and rejoice in surviving it.

I am so relaxed and so grateful for the opportunity to finally let go of some of that baggage. And so exhausted. I'm pretty sure I'm a little disfunctional, since I only seem to let go that freely at the TEC center, but perhaps it means I just need to go back more frequently than four years at a stretch. Next time, I'm bringing DH with me.

If you love yourself even the tiniest bit, you owe it to yourself to attend one of these retreats. It's based on Christianity, but I know of a couple people who went there as atheists who even had great experiences. It's the best investment of less than $100 I can possibly imagine.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The toad

My kids are a little too sharp for their own good, I'm afraid. When I drove up to daycare yesterday, all three kids nearly knocked me down in excitement to show off the toad Breanna was holding. I asked his name and Lillian replied, "Frog." Breanna said, "No, toad."

They then announced that they were going to bring him home with us. Uh, no. Smarty pants that I am, I explained that he doesn't have a carseat, so we couldn't buckle him in. Breanna quickly retorted, "I'll put him in my cup holder. See? He fits?" Oh, no no no. When I had her remove him and take him back outside, she commented, "I can use my shoelace to buckle him in. He'll be nice and safe."

She stumped the mom here - pretty good logic for a three-year-old. I talked her and Lillian into leaving their new pet in a box with some leaves. They each kissed him goodnight. Thankfully, no prince appeared.

This morning when the girls were dragging, not wanting to put on shoes, I reminded them that we'd better get to daycare to check on that toad and see if he needed breakfast. With that, they leapt into their shoes, raced to the van and buckled in before I even had MY shoes on. Another day in the life...

Friday, September 18, 2009


This crazy life is crazy. Not in a wild, drug-dealing, night-club dancing kind of crazy, but a much less subtle, equally-as-wearing kind of way. I miss "normal." Along with normal, I miss alone time with my hubby - awake alone time. I miss my patience. I miss work-free evenings once the kids are in bed. I miss down time. I miss my energy.

With my DH working evenings, I try to get home at lunchtime a couple days a week to have a quick bowl of cereal and then visit with him for a half hour. I miss him so very very much. Then the weekends come and we try to catch up on life and what's all happened in the past week. We end up talking logistics of children and work and always seem to run out of time for just "being" and laughing. He tries to give me a break from the kids, yet they all want to be all together, so I end up exhausted by the time Sunday night rolls around.

The last several weekends, my DH has been gone - working or hunting - which means I've been a single parent all week, and then the weekends, too. Needless to say, I've crossed into the realm of beyond overwhelmed with our three precious children. I feel it in my crabby voice, in the way I holler, the way I snap and the way I don't sing to or with them much these days. It's so sad and I feel awful that the situation has gotten the best of me, and yet, even when I pray about it, I only seem to mellow out for a few minutes before yelling at whoever dumped cinnamon all over the floor. It's a constant race and I'm absolutely drained.

Thank God DH will be home with us tomorrow for a whole day. I know some quality family togetherness would be lovely, but I'm using the time to take a break. I'm going to the salon in the morning and then finding someplace to wander around aimlessly. It's my only chance for the week. On Sunday, DH is going to run back to Fargo for another day of work, so I'll be at it alone again. But come next Friday, I'm going to do something really exciting! I've signed up to work a TEC retreat - which I haven't done since having kids. I'm elated just knowing the kinds of refreshment comes out of those experiences. And I'm delighted to truly get a break from the kids!

I know that with the way God works through TEC retreats, I will come away most likely with a renewed focus - not on what I'm missing but what I'm blessed with. And that's what I miss the most. I'm so thankful to know of a do-able means to getting that perspective back in check.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

First Day of 'cool

I'm beat after the twins' first day of pre-school today. Once I finally got them to bed last night, I was able to pack their backpacks with all the stuff on the list from school. And pick out clothes. And iron little pants. And prep for breakfast (since we'd be getting up almost an hour earlier than normal in order to make this all fly). It all added up to a late night for me.

The girls are in separate classrooms across the hall from each other in our local Catholic elementary school. I was delighted when the teachers called a few weeks ago to say they have so many students they had to open up two classes and that meant I had the option to keep the twins together or not - my call. Hooray for options! The decision to go with different rooms was natural for us - they are such opposite kids.

When we went in to wake up Lillian this morning, she popped up and excitedly asked, "Do we get to go to 'cool today? Today?" Yes, finally, the day had come after many weeks of buildup. Up early, we had a lovely family breakfast of real opeemeal (oatmeal) with fresh blueberries and cream, yogurt, and bacon. The dropoff of the kiddos at school went well, as did the dropoff of Grant at daycare - alone.

The pickup was uneventful, too. Both girls were exhausted by the time 11:30 rolled around and nearly conked out on their way to daycare. Both had a great time (and Grant loved having Grandma Barb to himself all morning, too).

Neither twin exhibited any anxiety about her sister (I was so curious), but they did talk a lot about each other. For show-and-tell, Breanna brought her little watering can so she could talk about all the "plowers" she and her sister helped water this summer. Lillian wore her green admission bracelet from our trip to the farm on Friday. She told her class about how the crabby donkey tried to eat Breanna's finger but he tasted some blood and decided not to bite it off. Thankfully, there were no stitches needed for show-and-tell.

I guess this means we officially have a couple of big kids and a toddler. I don't know if that's better than three toddlers or not.... will have to get back to you on that one.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My cousin's inspiration

I have a pretty cool cousin out in Washington. Even though I haven't seen her in person in at least a decade, probably more, I know she's cool because we've connected through Facebook/blogs in the last couple years. We've even visited on the phone and hit it off famously.

She recently started a blog that simply states things she's grateful for that day. Simple, but beautiful. Now I'm inspired.

I've been struggling with trying to figure out the relevance of Twitter in my life, and this might just be the connection I've been searching for. I haven't been drawn to tweet in the least, but I kind of feel like I need to use the technology just for the sake of understanding it. Aghghghgh - the pressures of being a communications consultant. This might be my ticket, though. Do-able and not much of a chore at all.

Thanks, Barbie. Wish me luck! Today, I am grateful for your inspiration.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

My obsessive research topic of the month

As my dear husband would say, I'm dabbling in voodoo. After consulting with an MD who also has a naturopathic medical degree, we've agreed on an experimental treatment plan to kick me the rest of the way back from this Bell's Palsy crap that has been hanging on since April 19, 2o06. I went in to him because my podiatrist insisted I have a family doctor before he does surgery so he can have someone to send the results to. I told him to just send the results to me. We went round and round on that topic, as well. But that's besides the point.

I had a strategy on this one. The doc I picked is very well-rounded - traveling the world to learn different approaches and often lecturing on new and unique treatments that most American MDs have never bothered looking into. So I went in for a "family checkup." When he asked why I picked him, since he books out 4 months, I told him I really was hopeful he'd notice my BP and have some magic suggestion for how to get rid of it.

Aha. The more we talked, the more he explained that based on a lot of factors I'd shared, he'd be willing to bet I got BP due to Lyme disease that had been dormant in my system, but deep in my tissues. Once the twin pregnancy got to be a major strain on my body, the Lyme came out fighting and damaged part of my facial nerve. (I was delighted to hear this, because earlier this same year I had been to a different naturopath who diagnosed Lyme disease - dormant - through EDS - and helped me kill the virus homeopathically.) It made sense. Finally something that added up.

I asked if he thought surgery would open up my affected nasal passage so I can breathe through that side of my nose again and his eyebrows shot up. Surgery? Don't you think it's a little drastic? I told him it's been three years and I just want my nose to work. If my smile looks like a smirk forever, I can handle it. If my eyebrow never works again, ok. True, I'll never be hit on again by a stranger, but really, I'm married and I can handle it - I've had three years to get used to that ego blow. I just want my nose to be able to breathe so I can eat a meal and be able to chew with my mouth shut for every bite - and not have to wear a very unsexy BreatheRite strip to bed for the rest of my life.

So he came up with an untraditional treatment plan that is making me stink like vitamins, poop way more frequently than I'm used to, and clean out my savings account more quickly than I'd prefer. One of the protein products makes me gag, then shiver at it's grossness each time I take it - twice a day. I shivered just now as I wrote about it. If ever you get an inkling to drop 60 bucks to try K-Pax - listen to these words of wisdom - nothing could be grosser - it's like drinking someone else's puke. Add to that, 4 mega-concentrated fish oils, 4 lipioc acids, 4 CoQ10s and a D each day, as well as 5 portions of veggies and 3 fruits. Now as if that doesn't sound icky enough - I'm also doing something I consider to be extreme.

I started an IV therapy this week - 250 grams of Vitamin C and a concoction full of other mega healing properties. Next week I go in for 500 grams, the next week for 750, and then 8 weeks of 1000 grams. To put this into perspective, the daily recommended value is 60 milligrams. To convert what that means, I'll be receiving 1 million milligrams. It's expected to take around three hours to get that much into my system each time. Whoa.

So, between last week's appointment and this week's first IV, I've been researching online every free moment (not that there have been many at all - I've been SWAMPED at work). This is a treatment that natural-type people use to treat cancer. Needless to say, I'm cautiously optimistic. If it doesn't work, fine, I'm out a few thousand bucks and I'm stuck with a face that doesn't fully work but can live with. But at least then I'll know to just give up and finally allow myself to grieve and face the reality.

If it does work, though, wow - what a great investment! So, please say a prayer for this to work and for me to not get consumed with anxiety over it all. My wonderfully supportive husband is usually awesome, but he's really skeptical on this and less than happy with the amount of money I'm investing in it. I'm trying to explain that while he pours his extra money into hunting gear and trips out West, we can consider this my hobby. (It's still less than what he spends on hunting, I'm guessing.) But he is worried that I might grow a tail or start spouting green hair on my nose or something. Guess we'll just have to wait and see...

Friday, July 31, 2009

The way they talk

I'll be the first to admit, I am easily amused by my kids. The things they say and the way they pronounce them makes me chuckle at least a half dozen times a day.

They love talking about tooting and vehicles and babies and God and water towers and baking and all the wonderful places they spot letters and the size of poop and how much they love the dentist. They've just started roleplaying, Lillian always wanting to play baby Jayda and Breanna is a different kind of Jayda. When they sing the alphabet, each time they get to L they automatically sing "L for Lillian."

Some of my favorite mis-pronunciations include plutterbys and pink-o-lows (sprinklers) and me-plection (reflection) and tattoons and nicnacs (picnics) and neck-a-nicks (necklaces) and many more. Their F sound always comes out as a P sound, so that alone makes stuff sound silly. Life in our house is punny (funny).

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Summer Fun

Here are a few of our summer memories so far, captured.

1. We survived our first family trip to the strawberry farm in late June. You probably can't tell in the photo, but I'm carrying Grant in the lead - he couldn't make it even one step without having to stop and snack.

2. The kids artfully made "trees" out of the bag of zip ties Dad left out the morning of July 4 - all in the time it took for mom to pour and deliver a cup of coffee to Dad, who was sleeping in.

3. Fourth of July was spent at home, with the family enjoying the wild and crazy sprinkler.

4. Grant tried out his vintage surfing suit and we all crashed in exhaustion after that afternoon.

5. We rearranged our living room, leaving just enough room for a hiding spot small enough for Grant. He loves peeking out of there!

Monday, July 20, 2009

I yelled back

While at the podiatrist today, talking about my upcoming bunion surgery in October, he tried having a little "chat" with me about the types of shoes I wear. He was shocked and disappointed that I showed up at my orthotic fitting wearing sandals. He implied that I didn't even want to get positive results from the upcoming surgery.

Our conversation went kind of like this.

"What kind of athletic shoes do you wear?"

You mean like tennies? I don't wear tennies.

"What do you wear when you work out?"

I don't have time to work out. I have three little tiny kiddos and a husband who works evenings. Are you kidding?

"Well what do you wear when you're running after kids?"

Whatever I can slip on and chase them in. Sometimes just socks. Never anything complicated.

"What about when you go shopping?"

I pay $20k in daycare annually and my husband took a 75% paycut to move here, and that's the extent of my shopping money.

"What about groceries?"

I try to order them online.

"Well then how do you stay so slim?" (as if he didn't believe me)

I chase after three kiddos and rarely have time to eat. Plus, if you saw me naked, which you never will, you'd know that my bones may be small, but the rest of me is plenty squishy. I clearly do not work out.

"Well then you need to get into some good athletic shoes. I'll write down a couple brands for you to look at and then buy them at one of these two stores."

The $100 sandals I'm wearing came from one of those stores and was recommended by the clerk to be supportive for bunions. Plus, the second I walk in the house with anything with laces, my kids will sniff them out and promptly unlace them and tie them in knots before we even get up the stairs. Plus, I wear dress clothes in my career - I can't wear tennies. We even have a dress code that says so.

"They come in different colors besides just white, you know."

Yes, but have you ever seen lace-up loafers look appropriate with a skirt? Can't I just avoid sandals and instead go with some nice slip-on loafers. Do you know how tight my hamstrings are after back surgery years ago? I think I'd ache forever if I had to wear flat shoes.

"You don't really expect this surgery to be the cure-all if you're not going to at least try to help the situation, do you?"

Well, you don't really expect me to dress like a grandma just to please you, do you? Who's your biggest competitor in town, anyway? I'm finding someone else who will support me in my lifestyle instead of listening to someone talk down to me and not even consider a discussion about finding a solution to fit MY life.

And off I went. And after work this afternoon, I promptly came home and plunked my new orthotics into some lovely slip-on loafers to break them in for the first hour - I even set the timer. See, I AM a good patient who listens, but only when the talk isn't nonsense. Flat tennies, my foot.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Spooning Rainbows

As I drove into my peaceful neighborhood after a lovely dinner with a woman whose children I used to babysit all those years ago, I was mesmerized by the double rainbows taking up nearly half the skyline. They were vibrant, fresh, and awe-inspiring.

For some reason, I couldn't help but think of them as being like DH and me. In a mushy, reflective mood, I drew the parallels - the brighter, stronger rainbow stretched across the sky, full of life and energy. The more subtle, soft outer rainbow cozily tucked around that bold one, not smothering, just comfortably near. So different, yet so complementary.

The pictures don't do them justice, but then, never do the ones of DH and me together.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Yo God...

From the voice of my oldest three-year-old in bed tonight, about 10 minutes after we prayed and tucked into bed:

"Yo, God. Pix my broken toesies now and make 'em nice and shiny again. Got it?"

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Where do the checks go?

It's been a year where I've written out more checks to medical providers than anyone else, including our daycare lady, who I pay each Friday. Not a good sign.

Between dental disasters with the twins and a new crown and upcoming filling for myself, new contacts (more than twice as expensive as those I used to wear), meeting the $1000 deductible for each of us, a lump on my uterus that magically disappeared the day after an ultrasound, exploration of naturopathic care and chiropractic for Bell's Palsy, the upcoming visit to a podiatrist (tomorrow - to see about fixing these damn bunions) and an upcoming trip to an ENT to talk about fixing my Bell's Palsy symptoms, I feel broke. And sick of running.

Last month, I honestly wrote out more in medical/dental bills than either of my paychecks brought in. What do people without savings accounts do? Is that why so many people have rotting teeth? Maybe I just need to find a few more hours in my weeks to pick up some more freelancing. Or not. (I do wish I could squeeze in a little more writing - not for the money so much, but the relaxation. Oxymoron of the month: it's too stressful to try to fit in time to do something relaxing and rewarding.)

I realize that none of these issues is earth shattering. Nothing is critical or unbearable or deadly. For that, I am truly grateful. But man, they are expensive when you add them all together. I'm hoping for a good visit tomorrow and some quick results to get back to feeling somewhat normal again. Someday...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The buzzing in my brain

If you know me at all, you know there is no 'turning it off' time for me. I don't have a TV in my house and I don't read fiction. If my kids are asleep and my husband is working (every week night), I'm thinking about work and ways to improve how it all comes together.

A main priority of my office (the communications office) is to redo our website. The current one is more than a decade old and hasn't been improved upon since the initial build. Needless to say, it's horrible. Everyone I know is convinced that we just need to start from scratch and build a new one from the ground up - and do it right with the ability to adjust it as user needs change.

Unfortunately, the team of 12 who hired me have no idea what our needs are, in terms of skills, technology, personnel, etc. I recognized that the entire group is near retirement age, so when I interviewed, I purposely understated my capabilities (I secretly was hoping to not get the job offer because it would be such a huge change, plus I knew that if I did the job, it would be way more rewarding to exceed expectations rather than the opposite). I bluntly said that I do not have graphic design skills, nor do I have website design skills. I have an eye for design and a head to comprehend the big picture and getting the right message to the right audience. And I have a great understanding of the importance of web content, ease of use, and so on when it comes to a website. And I can write web copy well, which is a totally different writing style than ads or brochures.

Shoot, what these folks need is a cross-platform IT person who is also a graphic designer and a PR specialist and a public spokesperson and a writer and a marketing manager and a videographer and about a million other specialties. When they told me about the robust staff who handles all of the graphic design and web design, I was relieved. I could handle the rest.

Little did I know that I was inheriting a "graphic designer" who had community college training back in the day when folks literally cut up pictures and taped them onto paper and made copies in order to make an ad. And that the website guy has a master's in theology and just happens to tinker on computers at home after hours, but has no formal IT training. Plus, he doesn't even work in the communications office - so any time he gives is borrowed from his office. He's an awesome smart guy, but our structure makes the whole thing screwy. The "designer" has since quit during our hiring freeze, so now it's all me.

I am bucking the idea of having to learn how to code a website. In a big way. Ick. Icky pukey ick. And I'm against using some lame template system that doesn't allow for the classy artistic design we've been establishing as our brand. As I'm trying to figure out where to go with all of this, I've been enlightened by a few people who are way smarter than me in this area, and now my mind is swimming. I'm going to do my darnedest these next couple days to simply ignore the whole issue. It really is overwhelming and tiring and daunting. So on to focusing on very unrelated things. Like accounting work. And press releases. And networking/schmoozing opportunities. And a manicure. And making sure I have fresh creamer for coffee in the morning.

Boy oh boy.

Friday, June 12, 2009

June 12th - the most emotional day of my year

My darling daughters, who turned three a full 6 weeks ago, were due to celebrate their birthday today. And each year since their birth, their due date has brought on an onslaught of tears and hugs and an overwhelming ache of relief.

Six weeks early. Who ever knows what prematurity is until you visit a baby in the NICU who is too fragile to even stroke, much less hold. Just remembering the intense fear of having to bury our babies, whose odds were less than shitty, my heart is pounding and it hurts to breathe.

I had a really tough time playing the mean mom role tonight. With DH working nights and me being a single mom each evening, bedtime is certainly not fun for any of us. The girls, Breanna especially, really pushes - often not staying in bed for good until 11 or later. (Thankfully Grant is the most wonderful little guy in the universe - he likes to cuddle for about 1 minute, give a kiss goodnight, and then nuzzle into his blanket and go to sleep.) With the twins, though, it's a constant, draining battle, both physically and emotionally. Like most nights, tonight I just wanted to rock these miracle babies without having to worry about the consequences of overtired kids tomorrow. Unlike most nights, however, I let my emotion dictate the decision to rock the girls to sleep late into the night.

As I smelled their soft, clean hair and stroked their smooth little hands, I couldn't hold back the tears of gratitude. Thank God for letting these children live. And live so well! They overcame every obstacle the doctors told us to expect and really, they are perfect little beings.

June 12 will never be the same.

Monday, June 08, 2009

A week in the life...

I woke up late on Sunday morning to the smell of bacon. Not only had my extremely wonderful husband let me take a turn sleeping in, but he also got up with the kids and made a real breakfast. And then delivered a plate to me in bed. Honestly, could there be any sweeter gesture?

Listening to the chaos out in the kitchen, I felt guilty, so I picked up my plate and joined the rest of the crew in the kitchen. Grant was wearing no pants. Neither was Lillian. And Breanna had on her jammies upside down with two different colors of socks. Gotta love it.

With DH working evenings M-F, our time together as the whole family is pretty limited, which is why we really treasure our weekends. It's also the only break I get from our three little darlings, so I often find an errand I need to run - even if it's just to the grocery store - alone. Or the hardware store. Or anywhere.

Last week was really exhausting, but I had a very brave week, and I'm still questioning why I felt such a desire to get out. Luckily, our out-of-home adventures all turned out ok. No one was abducted or injured, so I guess you could say we had some successes.

On Tuesday night, I took the kids to my office, where the production crew was filming TV Mass. I've hired a wonderful young man to take over that aspect of my office, and it was his going to be his first night without me being there for the whole thing. The kids were curious and cute and having a ball looking for God in the chapel as I made sure everyone was comfortable and ready for me to depart. The girls also searched for God up the stairs. And in the closet. And at the candy machine, where my dear colleague rejoiced in teaching them how fun it is to get Skittles from the machine and eat them all at once. They were hilarious little jumping beans for hours afterwards. From there, we came home and our sweet next door neighbor, who is a beautician, made a house call and cut the girls' shaggy mops. Luckily, she was able to bounce with them on their sugar highs and the bobbed haircuts turned out really cute.

The school where the twins will be attending preschool had it's spring picnic Wednesday evening, so I packed up all three and off we went. I was shocked to see 300-400 people. Sheer madness! But the kids had fun and I just accepted that I couldn't see all three at all times. Thankfully Grant wanted to be held a lot, so I only had to keep an eye on the twins. But what a heavy 25-pounder to lug around all evening. My blood pressure was probably very near stroke stage, but we made it and the kids had a BALL! They even got to jump in an inflatable jumphouse and eat cotton candy and go potty in little toilets for little kids in the little school. (Lillian blurts the last sentence to anyone who asks about school. More like squeals it out. Loudly. And then has to take a really big breath.)

Thursday night was catch-up night and bath night, and then Friday we went to a surprise 50th birthday party for a friend of ours from the TEC (Together Encountering Christ) retreat program. It was out in the middle of a bunch of gravel roads, complete with beanbag-tossing folks who rode 4-wheelers and drank beers and the works of true country living. Again, as a single parent that night, I was a little panicky, but it went well. Our dear friends stepped up and helped me to relax and enjoy a bit before I packed the kids up and headed home. We made it home just as it was getting dark, so everyone conked out right after we brushed our teeth. That NEVER happens that easily, so I was delighted.

This week, we're staying home so I can recuperate.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Status Quo

No one will ever accuse us of overbooking ourselves nor living exotically. Our basic routine is pretty darn comfortable, and though often challenging just based on the logistics of having three little ones always underfoot, it's still nice enough.

We've unofficially boycotted a summer of racing all over the place, trying to squeeze in time with various family members at various lakes, constantly packing and unpacking. It's taken us a few years, but we're finally getting wiser, although certainly not more popular.

This isn't to say we sit home and repeat our days, but in the big frame, we're pretty predictable. We still do a trip to Grandma and Papa's here and there and are bound to make an appearance at my folks' cabin once or twice, but we're doing way more weekends at home than away. The kids are happy. We're happy. We're tired. But not extra tired due to the packing and unpacking. Hooray!

This weekend, we're staying home

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Who's Clever?

Who's clever? Not the parents in our house, that's for sure. We thought so, but our oldest daughter, at the ripe old age of just-turned-3, showed us we're so out of our league.

On Sunday night, we the perfect plan. Or so we thought.

The neighbors down on the end of our cul-de-sac were having the first bonfire of the summer and all the neighborhood was going. Since we have the three youngest out of the 16 total kids, we decided we'd be the lone parents and get our kids to sleep before heading to the party, just three houses down. The fire started at 7, and by 8, our house was quiet and peaceful.

DH and I each grabbed an ice cold beer and sat out on our front porch, visiting, basking in the serenity as we watched the sun drop lower in the sky. At about 8:30, we checked once again and all was quiet. I cleverly called DH's cell phone from mine (unlimited mobile-to-mobile, after all). I left my cell phone on top of the hamper in between the girls' rooms, which are right next to each other. DH then set his phone on speaker and we skipped off to the neighbors, ready for another beer and some s'mores. (And Jiffy Pop.)

At a little after 10, I decided I'd check on the kids, even though the phone was nice and quiet. Plus, I had to tinkle, so it was time to head home for a little bit. As I walked up, I realized the lights were on in our house. I could see a small child's silouette in our entryway, sitting on the floor. When I opened the door, Breanna looked up and calmly said, "Hi, Mommy."

I asked what she was doing and she replied, "Just playing with some shoes." With a little prompting, she told me she'd woken up from her nap and was playing Hide and Seek with me. She asked where I was, so I told her I'd been outside. She said, "Oh, fixing Daddy's lawn and pulling his weeds?" Sure. Not filling up on s'mores and popcorn, but working on the yard in the dark. I asked if she could see how dark it was outside and she simply replied, "Yep. I better go to bed then." And off she went, all by herself. Within about 38 seconds, she was snoring softly.

Once she was out of sight, I nearly fell down laughing silently with full force. As I began shutting off the lights (she'd turned on every single one in the whole house - even in Lillian and Grant's room - they were sound asleep, thankfully), I remembered the cell phone. Our very clever daughter had pushed the mute button. Her "clever" mom hadn't even realized it had mute functionality until that night.

If she can outsmart us at age 3, I can only imagine what the high school years will bring.

Friday, May 15, 2009

I get to go home

I get to go home this weekend and I'm practically doing cartwheels in my jammies as I think about it. Due to our daycare lady's vacation, we've been working some creative childcare hours to accommodate DH's and my differing work schedules this week. Last night I brought my kiddos to my folks' so they could enjoy Gramma Pamma's day off with her today. And then I left, gloriously driving a car - as in - low-to-the-ground carseat-less freedom - all the way to the mall and then shopped my little heart out for a tiny bit before grabbing a Starbucks and hitting the road home.

For the record, I snatched up the steal of the year. It is a bulky, wool, beautiful cable-knit red turtleneck sweater. At Christmas time, I ogled and drooled, but the $178 price tag was just too much for my level head to wrap itself around. Last night, I discovered a pile of these very same sweaters on a wonderful rack at Herberger's - all priced at $2.99. Not two hundred ninety-nine. Read it and weap: under three bucks. Woo hoo! Patience finally has paid off!

I gleefully drove home, talking on the phone to a dear friend the whole time, and then enjoyed putting the kids' laundry away with the lights on and not having to be so incredibly silent when opening and closing drawers. And then I went to bed with all the doors open. What a liberating night!

Now this morning, with a cup of coffee in hand and a full 45 minutes to myself with no kidlets under foot, I can enjoy a blog posting and the start to the day in which I get to go home. Right after work tonight, I'm going to head up there for the weekend. A dear friend is going to join us for pizza tonight, then tomorrow, I'm going to help my dad build a fence. That means that my wonderful DH will be home alone all weekend, able to work on our basement with no interruptions. Hooray for all of us! Happy weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Middle Jesus and God Who Already Went to Bed

Absentmindely, I forgot my cell phone at the office yesterday. I didn't realize it until after I unloaded the kids at our house after daycare. Darn! So after supper, they had baths and the kids all got into jammies, then we piled into the minivan and went to Mommy's Work. It was their first time seeing where I spend my days.

As we walked into the Pastoral Center, the girls saw the open doors to the chapel where we film TV Mass, the sun welcoming them through the windows, so they raced in. "Look, you have a church in your work," exclaimed Breanna. They explored all over the place, overflowing with questions. Lillian spotted the crucifix up above and said, "Look, Jesus is here." Breanna told her that that was not Baby Jesus. Lillian said he's Big Jesus. They argued about it a little bit, and since that particular Jesus is about as tall as the twins, they determined he's "Middle Jesus."

A few moments later, Breanna asked, "Where's God?" I replied that he's right here with us. "Where?" she asked. I told her he's with us everywhere we go. She said she didn't see him. I asked if she could feel him. Lillian put her hands out in the air, trying to "feel" him. Then Breanna spotted the door to the sacristy and explained that God was back there. She asked to go see him, so, knowing the door was locked, I encouraged her to go see if he was there. She tried it, found it locked, and proclaimed in a loud whisper, "He already went to bed. We have to be very quiet and not wake him up." And off the girls went, exiting the chapel.

Baffled by all this, I wondered when and how they made the connection between God and church. It was then that I realized I haven't been the best mom at church - I haven't been explaining what we do or why we do it - I simply expect my kids to sit angelicly and take it all in. With all the wiggling and playing and teasing that occurs in our pew, I am absolutely shocked and delighted that they are able to put it together, with no help from me, mind you. How fast they're growing up!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

As our birthday season wraps up

What a wild rush of birthday fever!

Earlier in the week, the daddy of our house turned 29, so we surprised him with a lunchtime visit. We grilled and then ate out on the new kiddo picnic table and sang him happy birthday over his favorite cake, which the girls helped make. We gave him some gifts, which the kids unwrapped for him, and wished him a wonderful day before heading back to daycare and work. He seemed to really enjoy the time.

On Friday, one of my cherished colleagues (who has lots of grandsons but not a single girl) gave me her fancy teapot and dish for holding the teabags, just in time for our tea party birthday party for the twins this weekend. As I set the table with her pretty pot, I realized I was a dope in not thinking about inviting her to join us. She lives out of town, but what if she was looking for something fun to do, especially since it's so icky out outside. Someday, I hope to be graced with more grace and thoughtfulness at the right times, instead of always being after the fact.

We did have a fantastic tea party for the girls, with nine little girls and a grandma and two aunties and three neighbor moms and myself all present and pretty. We had grownup treats (cream puffs, petit fours, piroulenes, mini eggrolls, and meat/cheese skewers) and licorice tea and orange spice tea in fancy teapots, complete with real cups and saucers for every girl. Each cup came with a pretty necklace to keep and a goodie basket, too. Our neighborhood gang is just wonderful - even the older ones play well with the little pumpkins.

We played hot teacup with purses (like the hot potato game) and visited and had a truly lovely day. After church today, the girls asked if they could have a tea party again since it's so darn cold outside, so we had more tea in the real cups and saucers, complete with cream, sugar cube, and a piroulene on the side. Easy to please!

Now that birthday fever is done in our house for a while, I look forward to finding a slowdown. Although, I suspect it will likely not happen until we become empty nesters. Is it terrible that I'm thinking about empty nesting already? Gosh these kids tucker me out.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

And the Terribles are Gone

Now that the girls are officially three, I hope this means we're officially out of the terrible twos. I've heard that the reality of twins is that it's more like the terrible threes. We'll see. So far, so good. Mind you, it's only been three days.

It was a mushy gushy kind of weekend for me. More so than the girls' first and second birthdays. I just kept thinking about their odds of survival - less than 5% we'd even have one make it. That's a really horrible statistic. And to think they've come out completely healthy and beautiful and curious and creative and perfect, it really is overwhelming.

I've used the example of the miracle of their survival with lots of friends and family lately, as they've been dealing with some scary health issues. What a beautiful example of how anything really is possible with the power of prayer. You just never know what God has in store.

The girls had a wonderful birthday - we went to church, which is one of their favorite activities - they're both so very social. Actually, we all really enjoy it. Grant made the lady in front of us swoon with all of his eyelash batting and giggling. After church, we came home for a nice lunch and a surprise visit (at least a surprise to the kiddos) from my folks. They brought a kid-sized picnic table, complete with a red and white umbrella, which the kids all love. We spent the evening out in the yard with half the neighborhood, marveling at what a wonderful neighborhood we have, how great the kids all play together, how fun it is to see our three goslings come up on shore, and how very blessed we all. The kids tumbled and danced and ran their little hearts out. What a joy-filled day for all of us.

The fun will be extending - we're having an official tea party for the girls this Saturday and inviting the neighbor girls and their moms. I'm not sure yet how many are coming, but I'm certain we'll all have fun. That means I still have lots to do before then, so it's time to sign off. Here's to a great rest of the week to us all!

Monday, April 27, 2009


We rented a movie over the weekend and watched in on a laptop in bed. Still with no TVs in the house and happy with that decision, we do love our laptops.

We watched "Doubt," which is a film about suspicion about a priest within the Catholic Church that takes place around the Vatican II changes. Interesting flick - I think perhaps the first one where I actually enjoyed Meryl Streep.

After we closed the laptop, I had a hard time falling asleep. Perhaps too much coffee on a cold and rainy Sunday. Perhaps too much to do in the weeks ahead and way too little time to get it all done. Perhaps a movie that got the wheels turning. Regardless, I got to thinking about my own doubt. Or to state it more accurately - my lack of it. Remarkably, I don't second guess much. Curiosity - yes, plenty to go around. But true doubt? Eh, not so much of that. I can honestly say that yes, I know God will provide. How much and how rewarding to me at the time is up for debate, but I take great comfort in knowing that he will always provide enough.

When I decided to go to the client side this past year - nonprofit - church at that! - I just had a feeling of peace and faith that it would be ok. Much like I felt when I realized I'd fallen in love. Much like when we found out twins! I wonder if it doesn't somehow go back to my rationality and system of logic in my daily life. No matter what, I will always have a roof over my head and food in my belly. If ever a situation led to such dire straights that the house wouldn't be my own, there are enough good people in this world who would lend a hand.

Even amidst the calamities of evil-doers you hear about in the news, I believe in the greater good of humanity. It feels good to be good, and the majority of us truly want to be good and do good. Sure, everyone gets caught up in the not-so-nice from time to time, but in the big picture, we want to be kind. And for that kind of certainty, I am thankful.

Friday, April 24, 2009

My Brilliant Business Idea

No one has ever accused me of being original or unique, but that's ok. Here in our new town, there are only two coffee shops with drivethrus. McDonalds doesn't count. I'm talking real, yummy coffee, as in Starbucks/Caribou. There are two main problems: 1. There are only 2 drivethrus for the community population of nearly 200,000. 2. They are located in the crappiest places where the traffic is ALWAYS congested...places I avoid at all costs because it's such a waste of time.

I'm trying to convince my darling of a husband to consider opening up some coffee huts, like the Northstar or Mountain Mudd fame in Fargo. I don't know how much profit they post, but it must have been something or they wouldn't have stayed in business all these years. He could build little fishhouse hut himself and invest in a couple of good espresso machines and some beans and hit the ground running.

Anyone know anything about this? Can you imagine living in a community with no drivethrus? I'm dying to toss my money at baristas, but darn, they're so inconvenient around here that I often have my first cup at work instead of on the way to work - and the office stuff is icky bitter Folgers. What do you think? Am I just insane? I welcome all feedback on this topic.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Who I'm praying for today

I always keep a running list of people I'm praying for. The list grows, because I never feel like I should stop praying for someone once I've started - I mean really, who is more worthy than others?

In looking at my list in my little notepad, today I've topped more than 500 people who I pray for each day by name. Some of them, I've never even met. Some never even lived outside a womb. Some are in a worse place than when I first started praying for them and many others are much better.

Over the weekend, I spent two full days with some of the dearest women in my life - a handful of the Mothers of Multiples from the Fargo area. I learned that the fairness in fertility blessings is all out of whack and that I need to open my heart much more to those who face conception hardships. It can run a lot deeper than simply having to invest in some expensive medical help. I've added a few to my list, for whom I'm praying for peace.

I've begun saying a "freestyle" bedtime prayer with our twins before bed, starting with, "Dear God, thank you for this beautiful day. We ask for your special blessings upon..." The girls LOVE it and we often cover some of the people already on my list. I've said the "Now I lay me" prayer, but now they ask for the God prayer right afterward.

Today, we prayed twice for my Auntie Boonie, who had surgery to eliminate her breast cancer today. We prayed for her doctors, as well as her husband and sons. When we listed Alec and Jake, Breanna hopped off my lap and ran to the refrigerator, yanked off pictures of the boys and brought them back to us. Without prompting, she held them to her heart and of course, tears dripped off my eyes, right onto Lillian's head.

They get it. They're so little and still can't sleep through the night without wetting the bed, and yet their pure and tiny hearts are so capable and willing to love and to pray. I really couldn't be more blessed. Isn't this truly what it's all about?

I invite you to please join us in praying for my family. We've been bombarded with cancer this winter and it's cruel stuff. I also encourage you to start a list. I hope you are filled with as much peace as I am when I walk through my list each night.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

It's in the air

We all have a little spring fever these days, although for the twins, it began long before it was above freezing outside. I have learned I need to hide their "twimming tuits" if I don't want them to come home from daycare every day and quick toss on their suits before I even get my shoes and coat off. They wear them every chance they get. In fact, they've mentioned swimming in our pond now that the ice is out, but thankfully, we have them convinced that the pond is only a bathtub for the animals and that they'd chase us out and bite our butts if we tried to go swimming there. Thankfully, they believe us.

The kids and I took the wagon to our neighborhood park this afternoon and had the most relaxing visit there. What a joy to be outside again!

Monday, April 13, 2009

As the twins approach three

These girls of ours are growing to be more and more different each day. Their voices. Their hair fullness. Their tastebuds. Their approach to eating. Their preference in colors. Their styles of shoes. Their linguistics.

Breanna is the bolder of the two when it comes to people, and it appears Grant is following in those footsteps. She's friendly and truly pleased to meet new people. Solid and determined, she's very confident. She likes bold prints and bright colors and fistfuls of food. When she talks, which is nonstop, she describes with lots of adjectives, including her senses and memories. She demands answers instead of asking questions. She boldly takes anything that interests her, often pulling it apart as quickly as possible and putting it into her mouth. She's the last one to bed and the first one up with the biggest smile and loves to share coffee with anyone who offers. She writes in big loops and long lines, always picking the brightest colors she can find. She cannot make it through a book without trying to grab it away, but loves to help read along with the ones she's read before. Always making noise; if she's not gabbing, she's singing fast, zippy little tunes.

Lillian, on the other hand, is a softer being. She prefers clean white clothes, dainty little shoes, eating one pea at a time after she's lined them up in a row and counted them. She doesn't talk much unless Breanna's away, and when the floodgates open, look out. She bubbles out questions nonstop. Her memory is impeccible, especially when it comes to how people feel about things, "That makes Auntie Lissy so happy when I rock with her at Auntie Lissy's house" after having not been there for months and months. Quick to fall asleep and very slow to wake up, she quietly whines and whimpers when she's tired. When Breanna swipes a toy or snack from her, Lillian finds a grownup and pleas for them to get it back. She won't fight back no matter how many times we tell her to. She loves to build tall towers with blocks and boxes, and then send them crashing down once they hit their peak. When she writes, she makes polka dots, yellow and pink and other soft colors. She cuddles and rocks and loves to be sung to (her favorite is Rockabye Baby), perhaps more than she loves to read - off by herself. She likes to read a book at least twice in a row, often more. Such an intense student in every area of life, it's almost like she's memorizing every detail around her.

Strangers often ask how we can tell them apart. I respond, "How could we not?" They are still so tiring, but so wonderful. Their wonderful differences just make each one that much more lovable. I just thank God every day for giving us an easy son after these two little turkeys. The hopping continues.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Nice and Shiny

On a light note, our twins had minor urinary tract infections a couple weeks ago, so we went to the doctor. Last week, Breanna told our daycare lady that she'd been to the doctor and he looked at her butt.

Barb simply asked, "Yeah? And what did he see?"

Breanna replied, "He said, 'Looks good, nice and shiny.'"

(For the record, he said nothing whatsoever about shininess.)

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Fog is Lifting

I'm all out of tears after my recent visit to the Fargo/Moorhead area. But I'm coming away hopeful, as the wonderful leaders and residents in the community appear to have found a way to outsmart Mother Nature, who seems to have a deep and nasty grudge against the area.

After being glued to the AM radio coverage I had live streaming round the clock, I felt I needed to get up to F/M and pitch in. It was consuming me, I wasn't able to concentrate on work, and in the big picture, they were desperate for help. I have plenty of vacation time, and frankly, rebuilding a website or sprucing up the TV Mass atmosphere could wait.

I sent out an email last Tuesday, inviting my colleagues to join me in the trek to the valley. To my dismay, I heard from a small handful of folks who mentioned they'd like to go, but they had meetings scheduled, etc. The rest didn't even acknowledge the email. Not even to say they'd say a prayer or anything. To say I was disappointed is an understatement to say the least. I work for the church, after all.

Wednesday afternoon, I tearily began to prepare for being out of the office, when one of my colleagues who had shown some interest stopped in to offer her support. As we talked a little bit, my tears spilled. Normally Little Miss Self Control, I was embarrassed and surprised at my inability to contain myself. My kind colleague gave me a tight hug and left. When she returned about 20 minutes later, she dropped a fat wad of cash on my desk. It was from her department. They asked if I would put the money toward whatever was needed most up there. I cried some more. About 10 minutes later, she walked in with another pile of dollars. And a few minutes after that, she arrived with even more. This kind soul went around to all the offices and rabble-roused enough to get folks to see that even some prayer would be helpful at that point.

The next morning, I used funds to buy granola bars, bags of nuts, and bottled waters. And then I stopped at Fleet Farm to buy some knee-high rubber boots, which proved to be the best investment of the year for me.

I left a beautiful sunny Saint Cloud and headed up I-94 early in the morning. About 75 miles outside of Moorhead, I hit an insta-blizzard. Traffic was about 40 mph the rest of the way in, with little visibility, except for a clear image of all the ice on the roads beneath me.

As I drove into Moorhead, I was glued to the news radio and quickly realized that I'd better stay on the Minnesota side. If I crossed into ND, I might not make it back out. I drove into the north end of the city - cars lined the sides of the roads for miles, meaning volunteers were all over the place. The driveable roadway was narrowing quickly as water was coming onto the road. The whipping wind and snow were certainly not helpful.

Each time I saw a large gathering of workers, I stopped and handed off boxes of granola bars. A few people mentioned that they were starving - hadn't daring to take a moment to look for something to eat. The Red Cross has been fantastic with supplying meals to the folks working on the main dike that's intended to save Fargo/Moorhead proper or in the FargoDome filling sandbags, but they haven't been able to be everywhere. In the development where I was working, many of the people in the area had been working through the night. Many had tears of appreciation and exhaustion in their eyes. I watched one couple in their 50s as they left their home, throwing in the towel as the water surpassed their sandbag wall and consumed their home. Absolutely heartbreaking.

I made my way to the house of a friend of mine. I'd never been there before, but I know I enjoyed her friendship when I was in the Mothers of Multiples club in Fargo. Like me, she has three little ones, twin toddler girls and a baby boy. She was evacuating the kids so she could get back and sandbag. I worked with her husband and her father-in-law to get their belongings up as high as possible. To get to her house, I had to wade through a driveway of knee-high ice and water. I had to walk slowly so the water didn't come over the top of my boots - there was about an inch clearance. As the water continued to rise, I decided I needed to leave to ensure I could get back home to pick up my kids. The road I left on was fully submerged and was closed by the authorities about 10 minutes after I left. Closer to Highway 10, I stopped and helped sandbag at the home of some strangers for about two hours, and then headed home. I wanted to get out of the blizzard before dark. On my way back, I saw numerous military convoys heading to Fargo.

My friends went to their in-laws' house in South Fargo after being asked to evacuate that night, only to be woken in the middle of the night to be evacuated from there, as well. Now that the first crest occurred - and much lower than predicted - we are celebrating! But the drama is not over, and this community is still dependent on those dikes holding all that water back.

I ask you to please spend as much free time as you have these upcoming days and weeks keeping these folks in your prayers. Also please remember to thank God for providing most of us with a safe, comfortable place. To those who have been praying already, thank you so much.

My sister and her family are still there, along with hundreds of our friends, relatives, colleagues and clients. All are physically safe as far as we know, but they are facing a lot of devastation via property loss, revenue loss, business loss, etc.

I hadn't realized that I consider F/M to be my hometown, but this confirmed it. In the town where I grew up, I know maybe a dozen people still, if that. Our family left over a decade ago and I really haven't spent any time there since. Fargo's where it's at folks. God bless the whole community.

Here are a couple of links to see some of the pictures.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Icky Diet Plan

Knowing that so many of those most dear to me are battling Mother Nature in Fargo right now has completely ruined my appetite. The last few days, nothing sounds good - not even ice cream. I have such an unsettled feeling that is just consuming me.

I feel completely helpless here - I'm too swamped at work to just leave right now - I am running a one-woman-shop to make a three-person-show go on. And yet, I really want to be in the thick of it, filling sandbags, feeding volunteers, praying together with those who are so scared right now.

May God be gentle on all those who are in the thick of it. And may the prayers from afar make a great difference in these coming days.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Please don't ask

Please don't ask my kids about the president. Don't even utter the words president, Barack, or Obama.

After we laid the kids down to bed tonight, and all was mostly quiet, DH came racing down the hallway to grab me from the living room. He was laughing hysterically and silently all at once. As we tiptoed down to Lillian's room, he explained breathlessly that she was talking to herself.

"Why is President Obama brown? Because Gramma Pamma pooped on him."

We obviously have some exposure issues and we need to spend a little more time outside of our almost completely caucasian community. I am shaking my head as I write this.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

And the lepers lept about

Happy St. Patrick's Day! We only have what my dad describes as a "very wee bit" of Irish in us, but we still celebrate the holiday with the rest of the world. We all wore a bit o' green today and enjoyed some wonderful Irish Soda Bread, which I baked late last night for a potluck at work. I doubled the batch and brought a loaf to daycare and left one here for DH, too. It was a hit all the way around.

When I picked up the kids from daycare this afternoon, they bounded out the door and nearly knocked me over. They were bubbling and babbling about how the tiny little lepers came during lunch and left green hamhocks all over the house and the lepers are so tiny you can't see them and they do silly things and they are tiny and...

I nearly fell over laughing.

At supper, we talked about ice cream - the girls requested to have white ice cream in pine cones. And then Breanna said she wanted to have some "opie meal" (oatmeal) for breakfast tomorrow. I sometimes wonder about their speech dysfunction, but they're so funny, I'm going to cross my fingers this stage lasts for a while.

Here's my soda bread recipe if you're interested. It's one of my new favorites.

Irish Soda Bread (with a little Finnish Flair)

4 c. all-purpose flour
4 T. white sugar
1 t. baking soda
1 T. baking powder
1 t. cardamom
1/2 t. salt
1 stick margarine, softened
1 c. buttermilk
1 egg
1 c. currants (or dried cranberries or raisins or apricots)
½ stick butter, melted
¼ c. buttermilk
a few pinches of sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a large baking sheet.
2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cardamom, salt, and margarine.
3. Stir in 1 cup of buttermilk, egg, and dried fruit.
4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Form dough into two rounds and place on opposite ends of a sprayed baking sheet.
5. In a small bowl, combine melted butter with 1/4 cup buttermilk; brush loaves with this mixture. Use a sharp knife to cut an 'X' into the top of the loaf. Sprinkle top with sugar.
6. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. You may continue to brush the loaf with the butter mixture and sprinkle with sugar while it bakes.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Why I love my family

They're just plain fun to be around, and that pretty much sums it up. My kiddos hug and snuggle with each other, and with mom and dad, too. They try to tell jokes. They start repeating Spanish out of the blue. They pray - and it makes sense. The girls are compelled to swing their fresh haircuts, just like I do. And Grant has picked up some hilarious dance moves that make us all smile.

We took the kiddos to the Home Show at the Civic Center this weekend and had a great time. We're all quite social, so these kinds of things are fun. Today our outing was church, and then grocery shopping later in the day. Nothing was momentous, but it sure was fun.

After a low-key weekend at home like this, I am reminded of just how incredibly blessed I am...we all are.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

No more babies in the house

It's hard to believe that Baby Grant is officially a toddler now. Honestly, he's been one for several months - he's been walking and eating tons of table food for ages, even grunting for meat, after all. And when I try to hold him and soothe him at night, I'm often fearful he'll leap right out of my arms and I won't be strong enough to hang on. The lunker is only two pounds lighter than Lillian, for pete's sake.

He's still our little honey, though, and I just can't get over how deeply in love with him I am. I still remember with such clarity the day I found out I was carrying a boy. I thought, how on earth could I have a penis in my uterus and how on earth would I handle dirt and noise and trucks and all the boy stuff that I really don't enjoy? How on earth will he be able to be heterosexual when I'm such a girly influence? And now I look back and wonder how I could have been such an idiot. Oh well.

We had a few lovely little birthday celebrations. On his actual birthday, Breanna was miserable with a cold, so we had a tea party/birthday party with just the five of us. We'd planned a birthday party for friends and family the following weekend, but by then, the other two kiddos picked up Breanna's cold, so we postponed another week. The real party was smallish, but nice nonetheless. My folks and my sister and niece came over, as well as our very-loved next-door neighbors.

Amidst all the colds and chaos, the girls have been making me question the logic of the English language, and I've realized that perhaps I wouldn't make such a great grammar teacher after all. Last Sunday, since Daddy wasn't feeling good, he and Grant stayed home from church. Once church was done, I called home and they were both napping, so I decided to take the girls out for lunch. They're social and they just go crazy for any kind of outing and that way we wouldn't bring our energy home and shake up the place.

We went a place called Pacific Wok - a very clean - very Americanized sushi/Asian grill. I figured the girls could eat stir fry - they love veggies and meat - and I'd seen pineapple skewers on the menu - perfect. Little did I know that each girl would dump her water out all over the table at different times. Little did I know that they'd refuse to eat the carrots, meat, rice, etc. etc. They only ate pea pods. Not even the pineapple. And then they started confusing themselves (and me) as we talked about pea pods and peeing in the potty. They sound very alike, after all.

Two women across the fairly empty restaurant were compelled to come over and let us know how entertaining we'd been. Lovely. And then came my favorite phrase, "I don't know how you do it. Glad it's you and not me." Had I not had two very impressionable young ladies with me at the moment, I might have considered going off about judging people and manners, etc. Instead I just replied with a very sweet smile, "Yeah, me too." And then I turned from her and busied myself with the twins. One the way home, they started asking about pushing buttons (to get someone upset) and pushing belly buttons (to get someone to laugh) and about eating buttons on shirts (to get an owie tummy). Too many buttons for my taste. Literally and figuratively.

Enough on that for now. Enjoy the photos. And have a fantastic, safe weekend.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Still Kickin'

In case you've been wondering, we're still alive. Busy as hell, and that's no understatement, but still here. The kids and DH are all sick with nasty colds. And very sleepless nights. We've even had to postpone Baby Grant's first birthday party. I'd hate to spread the wealth of ickiness.

Since my assistant quit a few weeks ago with no notice, I've been running a very big ship at work. Add to that that we've had weekends sprinkled with family visits, weddings, etc., and so it's been nuts.

It all equates to very little free time. I'll post more once I get my head on straight. And here we go again, someone just woke up with a cough and a cry. Gotta run.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Family Weekend Ahead

We get to go to a Valentine's Day wedding this year. I know most of you are probably rolling your eyes, but the folks getting married come from a mighty fun family, so we're almost guaranteed a fun event. It's my third cousin - his mom and my dad have been close from the start. We've got a babysitter lined up to come back to the hotel with us so that once we get the kiddos to sleep, we can sneak back to the reception for some boogieing.

To add to the excitement, my sister and my new little niece are coming, and perhaps my brother-in-law, too. It's been a LONG time since I've seen them and I've been so very lonesome for them. I look forward to just being together, all of us. My folks will be there, too.

Then come Monday, some bank holiday (which particular one, I forget), my office is closed, as well as the bank that my sister-in-law works at. We're meeting at a waterpark in the Twin Cities for the day with each of our hubbies and three kids in tow. Should be fun!

Hooray for things to look forward to on the weekends. The stress of workweeks can sometime drain even me, but by figuring out little reasons to celebrate, everything comes into perspective. I am truly blessed with a wonderful family, some very terrific colleagues, a handful of amazing volunteers, and oodles of fantastic friends. The people you surround yourself with truly make all the difference. Have a great rest of your week, my friends! And enjoy counting your blessings!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Silly Lilly

Our Lillian has some cute little quirks, and some really funny moments, too. Her voice is the sweetest, softest, ittiest bittiest little girl voice in the world. When she does something like the following story, I can't help but just scoop her up and smother her with kisses.

On Friday afternoon, after returning to our house with my mom and our friend, Vivian, Lillian came in and saw DH's paper face mask that he'd been using while painting earlier in the day. She promptly strapped on top of her head and remarked that it was a party hat for Jesus' birthday party.

When we arrived home from daycare today, the girls were very interested in the rain and the puddles that showed up as a result. I had Grant with me and was already in the house when I looked over my shoulder and saw Lillian bend over, dunk her hand in a puddle, and do the sign of the cross, "Name ub da padda, da ton, holio holio pidit, amen."

Perhaps there's a future nun in the family. Or perhaps our conscious examples are paying off. Either way, our silly Lilly is just the sweetest little peanut you could find - for a two-year-old anyway.