Monday, August 23, 2010

Birthday Weekend Fun

Each year, our family tradition is to head up to the lake for birthday weekend, usually the second-to-the-last weekend of August. My mom, my cousin Bill and I all have birthdays in the same vicinity, so we share our celebration and kick back. Every year that I can remember, Mother Nature has been mighty kind to us, including this year.

Billy wasn't with us, but we sure missed him. The kids spent a ton of time turning into prunes, I ate a three-marshmallow s'more, and stayed up until 5 a.m. having heart-to-hearts with my husband and brother-in-law around the bonfire. We enjoyed some tasty "Poke Cake" and grilled dinner, went on a couple boat rides, visited with friends and neighbors, opened some pretty nifty gifts, and generally had a super-nice weekend.

Poor Lillian sobbed as we left Sunday night, never wanting to leave the lake, but especially not wanting to leave Gramma Pamma. Within a half hour of departing on our two-hour drive home, I had three sleeping kiddos and a fresh coffee. I listened to public radio and enjoyed the shooting stars. Upon returning home and unloading my three munchkins, I unpacked the cooler, brought the wet clothes into the laundry room, and plugged back into the internet and caught up on the news. Just before bed, I read through all the kind thoughts my Facebook friends wished me - my birthday ended on a great note. The only thing that would have made it any better would have been if my dear hubby was by my side instead of staying up in Fargo to work this week. I miss him already. So far, my 34th year is off to a pretty good start.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Weird shift in peers

When we lived in Fargo/Moorhead, I had my "special-interest group." The Red River Valley Mothers of Multiples were my gal pals - my home away from home. Though we came from very different backgrounds and shared very different lifestyles/goals/attitudes/careers  (or lack thereof), we had the most important thing in common and that was being the best parents to twins/triplets/quads possible. The friendships I made there and the support I gave and received were immeasurable and truly so treasured. Gone more than 2 years now, I still love my MOMs.

When we moved to the middle of Minnesota, I figured I'd hook up with the local MOMs club and find a new group. Little did I realize until that first new club meeting that the club I'd left behind was super special and very, very unique. Though the club in my new town was smaller, it had a totally different tone and very different approach - this was moms' night out to go drink vs. moms' support group to share ideas on how to be the best parents. I went to two meetings before calling it quits. Then I tried the next-closest MOMs group - in Brainerd, a full hour's drive away. While these ladies were very nice and welcoming, logistically, it just wasn't feasible. This group was small too, but didn't have the strong online community I'd grown to love in Fargo. So, I just mourned and dealt.

Then about a year ago, I was invited to a luncheon group called Forum of Executive Women. All motivated movers and shakers in town. Wise, kind women with great business minds. Nothing to do with parenting, but fulfilling to say the least. Less than a year after joining, I was asked to be on the Board and I'm so glad I said yes. It's filled a different spot in my life and it grows each week.

I've always been a huge supporter of businesswomen and this group has very-much gratified all I've thought about the topic. Yay for business. Big yay for women! Super big yay for a growing camaraderie as we work to support one another and grow our strengths. I've already learned so much from these wise women and I'm sure that will continue.

Even though I'm not getting my twin parenting questions answered by experts any more, I'm recognizing that parenting is getting easier and that winging it with the kids is becoming more and more comfortable. Having twins is special, but it's not the only identifying factor about me and for that, I'm very grateful.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Weekend Magic

This past weekend was a time of pure magic. Our very-dear family friend, Katie Jeffrey, married a wonderful man named Jon Shibata. Woo hoo! They shared their formal celebration with us at the fancy-pancy Grand Hotel in Minneapolis. Everything and everyone was absolutely beautiful. Stunning, in fact. But beyond the visual, the tone and the feel of the entire event was what really was impactful. There was such love, support, respect, and true joy in the bride, the groom, ALL their family, ALL their friends. It was something that left us glowing, even now, days later.

We all enjoyed getting dolled up for the wedding. The twins and my niece all had princess dresses, Grant got his first suit, Dan wore his tux, and I got to wear a fun party dress, too. It was great! My wonderful parents and my dear sis and niece were also there, and DH's super-cool cousin even joined us for a while; she generously went back to the hotel room with the sleeping little tykes so us revelers could revel. My dad, DH and I were the last in our group to finally hit the sack - around 4 a.m., I suppose. The whole thing rocked.

Upon our return, we came home to our every-day life as bumpkins. As a family, we blanched and froze corn on the cob, chopped a bunch of rhubarb for wine, and even disposed of a dead toad tonight. Yep, Lillian, our bug and critter lover, loved and petted her new friend the toad tonight - to death. "Look at how gooey his tongue is, mom." When I asked if he's still alive, she replied, "Of course. He's just tired." DH, being the good husband and dad that he is, took the cue to bring the creature down to the pond so he could go find his brothers and sisters and join them for some swimming. Welcome back to reality!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

So grateful

As I've met some new friends on some spiritual and emotional journeys this summer, some of the conversations eventually have led to the story of our miracle babies. Yes, I know all babies are miracles, but not all of them overcome less than 1% odds that they'll survive like my dear daughters have.

I've relived some of it, reflecting on the magnitude of the miracles for us. Why did it all happen? I hadn't questioned it until recently. My theory is that God knew I wouldn't be strong enough to cope with losing the twins. Or strong enough to handle major long-term health concerns with enough grace.

As I've seen so many loved ones face their own mortality in recent months, I've finally allowed myself to process the enormity of what we all went through. And I've finally grieved. "Grieve over what?" some might ask. Over not getting to enjoy a normal pregnancy, delivery, breastfeeding, nuzzling, cooing, "normal" family life. Over having to drive to the NICU every day to see them, day after day, week after week (wearing an eye patch, no less), not even holding one for the first couple weeks. Over having to handle a full year of colic times two - often all by myself. Over my own vanity when my face became disfigured and my girlish figure became squishy as a result of those precious little souls.

Just a couple weeks ago, I visited with a treasured colleague on a long car ride back from an out-of-town meeting. As we discussed social media and the role it can play in catechesis, I shared with him what a wonderful outlet this blog was for me. I told about how my readers are still across the globe and how much joy I receive from looking at the analytics of the site traffic. I explained why/how I first started the blog and how quickly things went from great to horrible to supter-de-dupter awful and scary within just a few short weeks of starting to journal. And how awesome the support was that I received from my dear readers. (Thank you, again.)

My colleague asked for permission to read the blog and to perhaps use it in a class he's teaching this summer on the East Coast somewhere about how social media isn't always so bad. Sometimes it works to create a community of church online when it's impossible to have that kind of support in person (such as being in a NICU with very restricted visitors). Just think about what CaringBridge has done to change communications.

I gave him my blessing to snoop away, then decided to go back to the beginning and read to today. I intended to start at the beginning post and check for typos and any need for editing. I stayed up until nearly 3 am reading it, bawling, praying, re-reading, not editing a thing. I hadn't realized until that early morning reading that even in my exhaustion I was a PR lady at heart. I didn't let on to my true agony. I shared hopeful, pleasant messages. I spared all the gore  - heck, I didn't even go into how near-death these babies were or how incredibly sick I was. Or how alone and completely terrified I felt that the babies would die on my watch. Or for how long I was in debilitating pain from my nerve damage. And how I didn't ask directly enough for the support that I really should have been begging for.

Talk about a huge summer of reflection. I have learned so much from myself and I am really grateful for having had the time to finally process it all. I've also learned a great lesson in perspective. I am going to be sure to thank God each day for just how incredible this journey has been and pray for peace and healing for all my friends and loved ones who haven't had the kind of recoveries we've been graced with.