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. www.cmtec.org

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.