Friday, June 30, 2006

Kid Kamp Khaos - Supersized

I took the babies to the gym today even though my intuition told me not to. Of course if I always listened to my intuition, I'd never step foot outside.

Carolyn has been out of sorts the past few days because I think her molars are giving her trouble. She's been hypersensitive (if you couldn't tell from our post yesterday) - hardly eating - and has been running a low grade fever. Since the other two are fine, I'm blaming it on her teeth. Sometimes it can be so difficult to figure out why they are fussy.

In my book, when all else fails, it's teething.

Even though the little voice in my head said "stay home" I really, really, really, really, really, really wanted to get out of the house. But more than that, I wanted to go to the gym and get in a really good work out. It's bathing suit season and I have a ways to go before I feel comfortable strutting around with out wearing a huge sarong draped around my lower half. Also, I recently noticed I was almost as buoyant in our pool as the hippo at the Zoo.

So, I went to the gym. Intuition be damned.

Getting to the gym is a lot easier now than it was the first time I went. Although it's a major cardio workout just getting me and the babies fed, dressed, with our appropriate bags packed and out of the house ... before noon.

Today, I arrived at the gym at 9:10. I unloaded the babies from their stroller. William and Elizabeth take off running, exploring, having fun. Not surprisingly, Carolyn in her sensitive state, is holding on to the stroller. I pick her up and take her to play in the little kitchen. After about 10 minutes of getting her acclimated to the environment and talking with the five counselors at Kid Kamp (watching over 10 kids), I sense that I am in a good position to make my departure without anyone noticing that I've left being overly upset.

While all three are looking the other way - I run for the door. I don't stop running until I get upstairs in the gym and settled on a stationary bicycle. I put on my headset, blast my Disco tunes, and start pedaling. No more than five minutes pass and I think I hear them calling my name over the PA system.

My initial confusion at hearing my name in this huge gym - is instantly replaced with dread. A host of horrible things that have just happened to one, or all three of my babies, go racing through my mind.

I run down the stairs and in to Kid Kamp. Carolyn is standing in the middle of the room screaming. Tears streaming down her face. There is a counselor standing two feet away who gives me a look and says "She's upset."

Yeah. Do you think?

After scooping her up, giving her blankie, and calming her down ... I ask the counselor what happened. "Well, she realized that you weren't here, and she started to cry."

Sure, I understand that. I use to babysit ... I remember how little kids would get upset when their parents left. But, I also would try and engage the child ... you know ... get their mind off of it. If all else failed, I would pick them up and hold them. I wasn't judging the counselors at Kid Kamp. I was just thinking I would have handled the situation a little differently. That's all.

A few minutes pass and Carolyn wants to get down. She smiles at me and runs off to play near the little kitchen area. I spot William and Elizabeth having a grand time and I stand there for a moment debating if I should just leave. My intuition is saying pack up and go home. But ... gosh, I'd like to do something that at least resembles a workout.

I run out of Kid Kamp, up the stairs and settle for a treadmill because all of the stationary bicycles have now been taken by other riders. I put my headset back on ... crank up my Disco tunes ... and start walking. Five minutes later, I hear my name on the PA system.

My mind starts racing again.

I hop off the treadmill, run down the stairs and in to Kid Kamp where I see the counselor, holding a crying William. "He got pushed by a little boy and he bit his tongue." I can see in his mouth, and barely visible is a spot of blood. I take him from the counselor, give him a sip of my water ... and seconds later, he struggles to get down.

Once again I think back to my days of babysitting, where a child might hurt themself. Did I instantly pick up the phone and tell the parents that they needed to come home, or did I make an assessment on the severity of the situation - the child's demeanor - and go with my gut? I wasn't judging the counselors at Kid Kamp. I was just thinking I would have handled this situation a little differently, too. That's all.

Carolyn is engaged doing something. Elizabeth is engaged doing something. William takes off running away from me. I stand there for another moment debating if I dare leave again. My intuition is saying pack up and go home. But ... gosh, it would be nice if I could at least break in to a little bit of a sweat, first. I tell the counselor at the front that I will be back in no more than 20 minutes.

For the third time, I run out of the door and up the stairs. All of the bikes, treadmills and ellipse machines have been taken. I run back down stairs and decide I'll lift weights, instead. I know time is of the essence, so I quickly jump on the hamstring machine. Instantly, I realize that my legs won't reach. I get up, move the chair back to a different position and sit down. Now, it's too close. I stand and try again. I sit back down and feel comfortable. I set the weight amount to lift ... and press 1, 2, 3, 4 .... and then I hear my name on the PA system.

No, I'm not making this up.

I walk back in to Kid Kamp to see what's going on. They smile when they see me and say "We have a poopy diaper."

Big sigh.

Grabbing the diaper bag and supplies, I go back in to one of the changing rooms to inspect the poop, which is so negligible, it doesn't even require a fresh diaper. I pluck out the poop pellet, do a quick wipe, and all is well. (It always drives Charlie nuts when I do this - but really. The diaper is clean, minus this little poopette that is easily removable. What's the big deal?)

It's the policy at Kid Kamp not to change diapers, which is fine by me. At home, I try to change dirty diapers as quickly as I can. But, I don't drop EVERYTHING that I am doing to change a dirty diaper, unless it is a complete blow-out. If it happens while I'm cooking dinner, I'll finish cutting my vegetables - or whatever, give the pooper an opportunity to finish their business, and then change the diaper. If I'm out for a walk or driving, I don't pull the stroller or car, to the side of the road, unload the baby and change them on the spot. I wait until I get home. Sometimes 15 or 20 minutes might lapse. Maybe 30. But, there's never any harm done.

Maybe it's because I change a lot of diapers in my current job as a triplet mother. Maybe it's because I'm somewhat immune to the potency of a poopy diaper. Perhaps my telling the counselor that I'd be back in 20 minutes wasn't good enough. Whatever the case, I wasn't judging the counselors at Kid Kamp. I was just thinking I would have handled yet THIS situation a little differently, too.

After being called back in to Kid Kamp for the third time in about 30 minutes, I decided that maybe I should just call it a day. I packed the kids up in their stroller and left. On my way back to the car, I contemplated what had just happened and then I did exactly what I said I wasn't going to do ... I judged the counselors at Kid Kamp.

I judged them really, really hard.

And I've continued to judge them the rest of today ... as I've been stewing over the sweat and elevated heart rate that never came to be.

I realize that these counselors are probably under strict orders by the gym. I'm sure that the gym sets limits on what they can and cannot do, and their job descriptions are well defined. But relying on my own experiences as a paid child care provider, I know that sometimes you have to step in and take care of business. I guess times have changed since I was a babysitter. Now a days, there must be standards for babysitting in a public forum - and these standards have to be very black and white.

But that begs the question ... do we honestly live in a world where if a babysitter picks up and holds a child because they are crying, that would be considered wrong? Or, is it considered such a tremendous liability that if a child gets knocked down, the parents must be immediatley notified?? Are they afraid I'd sue them if our child was in a poopy diaper for more than 15 minutes???

Did these counselors actually think they were doing the right thing by calling me down to Kid Kamp every 5-minutes? Am I that hard pressed for some "me" time that I am completely blind to how good these babysitters actually are?? Maybe my expectations are too high. Or, maybe I just really would have liked to have worked out for 15 minutes, consecutively.

Maybe I need to un-enroll our kids and use the $30.00 a month that we're spending on Kid Kamp, for a babysitter to come to our home when I go to the gym. But ... then again, I really like the idea of taking the kids to a different environment and letting them play outside of the house now and again. I think it's good for them.

When I called to whine and complain tell Charlie about my experience at the gym ... he thought he'd make the situation better by coming home at lunch and surprising me with a Cheeseburger, French Fries & Frosty from Wendy's.

He is a good guy. But really. It's no wonder I can't wear a bathing suit without a sarong.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Balls, Biting & Bugs

Despite the fact that there are over a hundred toys to play with at our house - whatever someone else has - instantly becomes what everyone else wants.

This is human nature.

Of course it makes no logical sense for us to have three of everything for a few reasons:

1) We don't have the room;

2) Generally speaking - the kids get bored of what they are playing with in 10 minutes;

3) Having three of the same item would not solve the problem. Part of the dilemma is wanting what you don't have.

So, we're working on the concept of sharing.

Within the past week, the babies have become very proficient at throwing. Suddenly, they love to throw and they have figured out that almost everything, can be thrown.

They throw blocks, books, balls, little cars, little people, sand, dirt, water, stuffed animals ... and of course food.

Which means that meal time at our house has turned in to the biggest disaster imaginable.

Today, the object of desire was a ball.

The babies really love to throw a ball, because it bounces and depending upon what they throw it against, it comes back to them.

The problem with throwing a ball when you are a 20-month old triplet, is that once it leaves your hands - it is fair game for two other babies to pick up - and quickly waddle away with.

The notion of something you were enjoying and playing with just seconds earlier, being swooped up and enjoyed and played with by someone else ... is no good.

No good at all.

And rather than your mother stepping in to help, she reaches for her camera ... well, that makes the situation even worse.

I've attached a series of photos, which were taken over a span of about four minutes.

This is the scene that unfolded ...

First Elizabeth had the ball. (Note: William had a ball too, just not the ball that Elizabeth had.)

Then Carolyn.

Then William.

Then Carolyn.

Then Elizabeth.

Then Elizabeth was bit on the ear by William, who quicky regained control of the ball, before his mother put down her camera and put him in time-out.

Elizabeth got the ball back.

Carolyn was still dismayed at having lost the ball in the first place, and Elizabeth brought it back and gave it to her.

Sharing is a Success!

With all these lessons in "sharing" ... biting has become common place.

Actually, William and Carolyn bite each other and Elizabeth with great frequency. Elizabeth is never a biter, but is often the bitee. Typically, I can stop the biting before it starts. I possess this ability of sensing the pending bite because it usually happens whenever we have one (1) object that everybody wants.

In those rare instances when I can't stop the bite before it happens ... I always know when it has happened. I also know who did it, because the biter is standing off to the side with their hands up to their mouths and their eyes open wide ... while the screaming bitee stands a few feet away, covered in saliva and teeth marks.

If my kids biting each other wasn't enough to worry about ... it appears that with all this warm weather we've been having, bugs that are suppose to live outside - are starting to migrate inside.

Actually, not all the bugs.

Just the big, black wolf spiders with huge fangs and hairy legs. In the past 3 days, we've killed 6 wolf spiders. In. Our. House.

I placed a call to the Bug-B-Gone company and they'll be coming out on Wednesday.

This sets off a whole new set of worries because although I don't like the idea of huge wolf spiders in our house ... I also don't like the idea of spraying "Methyl-ethyl-death" which will require us to vacate the premises for the better part of a day.

Even though my research has shown that the pesticides are safe once dry - I'd much prefer to teach the bugs to stay outside.

I mean ... if I can teach 20-month old triplets how to share ... the sky's the limit ... right?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

It's an ANIMAL!!!

Dyson Animal, that is.

I've been hearing about this vacuum cleaner for a long, long time. How GREAT it is. How it NEVER loses suction. How it maneuvers easily around furniture. How wonderful it is to never have to change vacuum cleaner bags, again.

Aside from that, Charlie really likes the guy's commercials and the way he says in his British (Scottish? New Zealand? Aussie? South African?) accent "I just believe things should work properly."

Armed with Charlie thinking the commercials were good ... a 20% off coupon from Bed Bath & Beyond ... a 5-year old Kenmore canister vacuum that is on the fritz ... and the fact that we've got enough dog hair in our house to knit a full body suit (Kink Numero Duos) ... I headed off to buy a new vacuum cleaner today.

Not just any vacuum ... a Dyson Animal vacuum.

The vacuum that I purchased is apparently the "Baddest Ass" vacuum on the market. It brags a DC15, with root cyclone technology, the "ball", telescopic reach, and is the most powerful upright for pet hair. At least that's what the box says.

I'm not entirely sure what a DC15 is ... it sounds like a jet engine. But what's really neat is that it looks like a purple robot!

Wasting no time, we rip open the box and drag out this costly apparatus. There is a lot of plastic and several booklets with instructions and the history of Dyson. I've tucked those items away to read at some later time or when I can't understand how to use the telescopic reach. (Am I the only one that never reads the instruction manual? Maybe I'd know what a DC15 is, if I took 5 minutes to read the brochure.)

I then sit back on the couch with a bottle of wine and my trusty camera, while Charlie demonstrates what a vacuum with root cyclone technology is capable of accomplishing.

It's really incredible what I can get away with in the name of "research" for my blog. Thank you, blog. Thank you. During my course of "research" tonight ... my husband vacuumed our living room. And bedroom. And guest room. And hallway. And all the oriental rugs in our dining room and family room. And I decided that Rodney Strong makes a marvelous Cab.

I must admit, at the conclusion of my research, I was thoroughly impressed and equally grossed out. The way the vacuum maneuvers around the furniture is awesome and seeing the amount of dirt on the floor ... it was horrific.

Now maybe it's a visual thing ... because I could actually see all the nasty dirt, dust, Cheerios, and pet hair that was sucked in to the cyclone. With a bag, you can't actually see what you are vacuuming up. But since we just vacuumed our floors two days ago, I was disturbed with the amount of gunk that was on the ground - in one room - tonight.

The house will be vacuumed every single day from this point on.

Or, at least until we forget how grossed out we are, at this very moment.

This concludes my public service announcement on the Dyson Animal vacuum cleaner. It's pretty cool. If you've got a lot of carpet in your house - and a dog - and $480.00 (after you use your 20% off Bed Bath & Beyond coupon), I highly recommend it.

Most importantly, it really does work properly. From what I could tell, it never once lost suction. Of course I could probably tell you more if I read any of the instruction pamphlets.

The fact that I'm getting excited about a vacuum - and posting a story plus pictures about it on my blog, does that make me a Domestic Diva, or a loser?? I really can't tell ...

Monday, June 26, 2006

Molly's New Life

Death is exhausting. Not for the one that has died, of course ... but for the ones that are left behind.

This weekend, not surprisingly, was exhausting for us. When something happens that is emotionally draining, like losing a loved one, there reaches a point where you are physically drained, too. There's no doubt about it ... being sad consumes a lot of energy.

After spending the majority of the day Saturday mourning (i.e. bawling our eyes out), we spent Saturday afternoon at the Pet Supply store. We picked Molly up two new beds (one for inside, one for outside), a few new toys, a new brush, a couple new bowls and a hodge podge of doggie treats. Molly then got another bath and was ushered in to the house ... where she was immediately swarmed by toddlers.

Now, when I use the term "swarm"... imagine walking in to a bee hive covered in honey. Molly was the one covered in honey. Our triplets were the bees.

Molly has always been a pacer. She paces, constantly. Monty on the other hand, would lie down when ever and where ever he had the opportunity. In that way, our two dogs couldn't have been more different. But even as a pacer, there is only so much pacing you can do, before you need to take a load off. Of course as soon as Molly would stop her pacing to take a rest for a moment, she had three curious children touching her tongue and her collar and her eyes and her nose and her tail and her teeth and her ears. And, last but not least, climbing on top of her like she was a pony.

From what I could tell, she loved every second of it.

Even though it appeared Molly enjoyed the attention of being front and center, we have been extremely cognizant of her need for space and we are very cautious that the babies are gentle with her. Charlie and I sound like a broken record constantly repeating "Gentle kids, GENTLE."
In return for Molly letting the kids swarm her, they have been indulging her with all kinds of goodness from the kitchen table. I came to the conclusion on Saturday morning that we may be able to permanently retire our broom and mop. As soon as a crumb lands on the floor, it is instantly picked up by Molly.

However ... there are definitely a few kinks to our new lifestyle we need to work out.

Kink Numero Uno: Even though Molly is a good replacement for our mop and broom, I don't think it's a good idea for her to be in the house during meal time. Having a dog patrol the kitchen table causes several areas of concern for me.

First. I don't want Molly to balloon up to the size of a house, which she will if she feasts off of our kids floor scraps. (Have I posted a picture yet of mealtime? I'll have to do that, soon.)

Second. I don't want the kids to find entertainment in throwing food off their tray for the dog to gobble up - especially since they find enough entertainment in throwing food off their tray, as it is. The last thing I need to do is add fuel to THAT fire.

Third. I don't want Molly to start taking food out of the babies hands. Yes, she is gentle. But I can imagine she would get highly excited if a pudgy hand offered her something tasty like say, a half eaten Ritz or a Cheerio.

Kink Numero Duos:
Dog hair. I didn't realize just how much dog hair there was, until I looked at our kids after they rolled around the floor for 5 minutes. Dog hair on the kids clothing is one thing. Dog hair on their sippy cups and loveys, both of which go in their mouth ... one word - three syllables.

Dis.Gus.Ting.

And here's another thing with the sippy cups ... as much as I enjoy seeing the babies offer one another a sip off of their drink, I'd prefer NOT to see them extend the same generosity to the dog.

Molly, never one to turn down anything remotely consumable, will eagerly lick the cup - and then the babies always turn it back around and take a sip while I am (graciously) flying across the room to try and stop this hospitable exchange. Might I add ... NEVER, EVER do I make it on time. Nor, do I have my camera handy.

Did I read somewhere that a dog's mouth is cleaner than a human's? At this point, all I can do is PRAY that it's true.

Kink Numero Tres: The backyard. You already know where I'm going with this ... don't you? So today, I had some work to do. While I was working in the back office, I heard Charlie outside playing with the kids and Molly. They were having a grand time, running around, chasing a ball, playing in the sandbox ... all was well. Then I hear Charlie exclaim "OH OH! OK kids, over here. Over here."

I hear Charlie run in the house for a bag, I hear him run back outside - to presumably - scoop up the "Oh Oh!". Then I hear the hose come on, to wash down any residual "Oh Oh!" that might be left on the grass. A few minutes pass and I hear Charlie yell "OH NO!!!!"

What I later learned is that William had located another fresh pile of "Oh Oh!" that Charlie had missed. William found the "Oh Oh!" and picked it up in his pudgy little hands and squished it. Suffice to say - playtime in the backyard came to an abrupt halt. William's hands were completely scrubbed down, washed numerous times with soap and water, and smothered in Purell. I didn't actually need for Charlie to tell me what happened. I could hear him gagging from my safe spot in the back office.

The fourth thing, which is preventable by keeping the bathroom door closed, and hence - isn't really a "Kink" but which I believe deserves honorable mention, is the task of keeping both the children AND the dog, out of the toilet.

Just this morning, I heard a splashing sound emanating from the bathroom ... which I incorrectly assumed was Charlie. When I went to investigate, both Carolyn and Elizabeth were splashing in la commode up to their elbows. I picked up both of my daughters, soaked with toilet water, to carry them out, while using my legs to block William from wandering in and continuing with the splashing. Meanwhile, Molly ducked in around both me and William, and proceeded to take a drink from the pot.

So. There you have it.

Not only is it exhausting grieving the loss of our beloved Monty, it is exhausting trying to figure out how we are going to succesfully incorporate Molly in to our lives, as an indoor dog. Although, I feel I should add that she will continue to stay in the garage at night, because we can't get any sleep with her pacing and tags rattling. We did try ... for about 20 minutes.

I am now open for suggestions.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Monty our Dog 7/26/93 - 6/23/06

We had to put our beloved Lab, Monty, to sleep last night.

The pain of his passing is intense. I feel such a wide range of emotions. Grief. Regret. Guilt. Love. Joy. Relief. All of these emotions are wrapped up tightly and soggy with tears.

I think it will really help me to write out some thoughts on Monty. I'm not really sure where to start, so I guess I'll go to the beginning.

Charlie and I met at college in northern California in 1991. We quickly fell in love. Soon thereafter, we did what a lot of people told us not to do ... we cohabitated. Charlie had just graduated from school and had started a job, I had one more year left. I still have the letter that my mother wrote telling me that it was wrong to enjoy the fruits of marriage without a license and if we weren't careful, we'd soon hear the pitter-patter of little feet in our house.

Pitter-patter? Little feet? Why - she must mean a DOG!

I had always wanted my own dog. Growing up, we once had a family dog, but he was given away and when my parents divorced, getting a new dog was out of the question. Both of my parents knew - and would tell me - that dogs are a lot of work and require a lot of attention. They knew what was involved raising a dog. Giving a dog a good life just wasn't feasible, at that point in our life.

But now that I was an "adult" and was living on my own ... it made perfectly good sense to me. I approached the subject with Charlie. "Wouldn't a dog be fun?! We can get a dog that would share our lives with us ... a puppy!!"

It wasn't an easy sell. Our next door neighbors bred Rottweilers and I tried to talk Charlie in to getting one of their puppies because since he was working, and I was still in school, there were many nights he wouldn't be home until late, or, he'd be gone on business for a few days. A dog would keep me company, and protect us.

After seeing the dogs, there was no way Charlie was going to get one of our neighbor's Rottweiler pups. The guy was actually breeding the sire with offspring in order to "enhance" the dogs’ features. Translated to read … the family dog tree had no branches.

This tactic worked to turn out beautiful looking dogs (albeit with slightly oversized heads) that would attack and kill a tomato plant. Charlie was right. We couldn't get a dog that was being bred strictly for looks and aggression, and from the looks of the sire, flung buckets of saliva every time he moved his head. If we were going to get a dog, we needed to get a family dog.

A few days later, while at the park, we saw a beautiful dog. A big yellow, perfectly proportioned dog, that was absolutely and completely in love with a tennis ball. We approached the owner and inquired what breed he was and enthusiastically heard back "He's a Labrador Retriever. Greatest dog in the world!" Even though this was 13-years ago, I clearly recall rattling off a bunch of questions that included first and foremost "Does he drool a lot?" Followed by "Does he shed a lot? Is he protective? How is he with kids?"

Charlie and I smiled at each other. Labrador retriever. If we were going to get a dog, this would be a good breed.

I had never bought a dog before and hadn't the first clue where to start. Of course, this was before the days of the internet ... so I was stuck to two sources, the phone book and the newspaper. My research revealed a few options. The first option was the humane society. This was a good possibility for getting a dog, but I really wanted a puppy. More than that, I wanted a Labrador Retriever puppy. The second option was the Pet Store. I didn't dwell on that option too long because I had heard and was tainted by the images of puppy mills, which is purportedly where Pet Stores get a large percentage of their dogs. This information could be right – or it could be wrong. I was 22-years old at the time and easily persuaded. My third option was the local newspaper.

I started scouring the newspapers where I found something that looked promising. A litter of yellow Labrador, AKC, puppies, $350.00. I picked up the phone and called. The puppies were only a few weeks old, they weren't ready to be weaned from their mother yet and they still needed their first set of shots. We could put in our name and they'd call us when the puppies were ready. Three hundred dollars was a lot of money. I was still in school, Charlie was fresh out of school … money was something we didn’t have a lot of.

Charlie still wasn't sure about the whole thing - but my name went on the waiting list, because I was able to convince him that we'd just go "look." Suddenly, it was real, it was happening. We were going to go "see" about getting a puppy!

Now, in the off chance that we did get a dog, we needed to do something hugely important. We needed to come up with a name. A good name. At the time, our lives were consumed with geology, since I was still in school and Charlie was a recent graduate, working in the field (both literally and figuratively).

I give all the credit to Charlie who came up with the perfect name for our new puppy, if and when we got a new puppy. Holding open a geology book Charlie looked at me and said “Montmorillonite." We froze for a minute and then simultaneously shouted “MONTY! That’s it!!” For those not in the know, montmorillonite is a type of clay that is usually white, with a hint of yellow and there is no more perfect name for a yellow puppy, owned and loved by two geologists. If, two geologists were to have a dog.

The day finally came around when I could go see the litter. As fate would have it, Charlie was out of town on a business trip. I didn't want to go alone, so I dragged along two of my girlfriends (Lorie [aka: Geologychick] & Laurie).

So long as I live, I will never forget walking in to that yard full of excited little puppies and knowing in an instant ... there is no way I am walking out of here without a dog. To this day, even as the mother of adorable triplets, I have seen few things - if any thing – that rivals the sheer cuteness of 6-week old yellow Labrador Retriever puppies, jumping, falling, stumbling and chasing each other (and their tails) around a yard. These little fur balls of energy would run over to their tired looking Mama dog, climb on top of her, suck on her teats that almost reached the ground, nip at her legs and ears, and take off running again around in circles. I felt a lot of sympathy for that tired Mama dog, she looked like she was in need of a looong vacation. Little did I know, how closely my life would resemble hers in just a few years…

I was wearing a pair of Ked shoes, with leather laces, and within seconds, a little puppy came over and plopped down on my feet and started chewing on my shoes. My heart melted. Here I was wondering how in the world I would pick out our next family member from this litter of adorable puppies, when rather, I was picked out. With one hand, I scooped him up and looked in to his perfect puppy face. He struggled to lick me while I examined his bright little eyes, razor sharp little teeth, and infamous puppy breath.

Yeah. Right. I’m here to “look”. Instead of putting him back down, I said, “Hello, Monty. Are you ready to go home?”

The next thing I know, I’m writing a check for $350.00. I’m driving to the pet supply store with Laurie holding Monty in the back seat, where he christened her. Then, I’m at the pet supply store with Monty in my arms, picking out a bowl.

And a leash.

And a collar.

And dog soap.

And a brush.

And food.

And toys. And toys. And toys.

And a bed.

And a crate.

And a host of other items that I needed for life with my new dog. And then, I’m writing another check for $400.00.

We got Monty home and I gave him a bath in the sink. I toweled him down and he turned even more white and fluffy than he had been. Feeling refreshed from his bath he took off running around the house in crazy zigzag patterns, taking a short little break only to pee and poop on the carpet. (I'd get use to this.)

It got to be late and my friends were kind enough to spend the night, seeing as I was scared out of my mind to be home alone, with a new puppy. I put Monty’s new bed in to his new crate, in the bathroom. I gave him a kiss goodnight, tucked him in, and closed the bathroom door. As soon as I fell in to bed I heard the first “YELP!” which only grew louder and more persistent. I dragged the crate in to my room, where he could see me, and tried to go to sleep again.

“YELP! YELP! YELP!!”

I sat up and looked at the clock. I remember it was late. Actually, it was early. Very early. I had class the next morning. My friends, who also weren’t sleeping, had class the next morning, too. With a prayer that I would stay dry, I took Monty out of his crate and brought him to bed with me. My fluffy white puppy ran all around the bed and as I laid down thinking I’d never get to sleep, he stumbled up to my pillow, wrapped his little body around the top of my head, and promptly conked out.

The next morning, I woke up dry and still wearing my puppy “hat”. I got ready for class and then made the decision that I’d take him to school with me. I suppose I should add in that advanced geology classes are exceptionally relaxed environments. Besides, this was a sedimentary petrology lab class – where of all things – we were studying montmorillonite. What better place to bring my Lab puppy, Monty?

My classmates and instructor were smitten with our new family member. He was extremely well behaved, minus the one souvenir he deposited at the front of the room. Monty continued to accompany me to class until Charlie returned from his business trip a few days later. Instead of giving me a hard time for picking a puppy from the first litter that I visited, he instantly fell in love with Monty. Just like I had.

Monty was our kid. We would take him for walks every day and when he was too tired to walk, we’d carry him. As a puppy he snoozed all the time, especially after eating (or during eating). He slept in our room, waking us up every morning with his head perched on the side of our bed. He laid at our feet whenever we sat still long enough for him to settle down, and he graced us with an ‘aroma’ that would often drive us from the room screaming, “Oh my God my nose is on fire!” We took him on vacations, Charlie took him on business trips, and he was there –when Charlie dropped to one knee and asked me to marry him. When I had to go away for 6 weeks to summer field camp following graduation, I was wrought with homesickness. I would carefully look through my clothing and pluck out white dog hairs from my Monty. Even though I was far away – it was like he was right there with me.

When Charlie and I were married in Massachusetts, and had to leave Monty at a kennel in California, we called every few days to check on him and requested that they do something special for his 1-year birthday, which we were so sad to be missing. Monty moved to San Diego with us and he would lie across our feet and keep our toes warm while we studied all though graduate school. As time went on, every month Monty would let me bury my head in his coat and cry my eyes out because once again, I wasn’t pregnant. He was our dog. And he was solidly our best friend.

Graduate school proved to be very time consuming. On top of that, both Charlie and I picked up part-time jobs because the cost of living in Southern California was high. Especially since we threw big parties every weekend and spent the better part of our financial aid on a Sea-Doo. As we started spending more and more time away from the house, we decided that Monty needed a companion. Dogs are "pack" animals, afterall.

We brought Molly home when Monty was 19-months old. He didn’t know what to make of this black fur ball of energy and tried very hard to ignore her. In the beginning, Molly was nothing more than an annoyance to Monty. She went after HIS tennis ball. She ate HIS food. She drank HIS water. She competed with him for OUR attention. She tried to suck on his teat, which it turns wasn’t a teat at all. She climbed all over him, she took up space on his bed, she chewed his ears and his tail and licked him constantly. But eventually, Molly won Monty over. They would chase each other around the yard – pull on toys together – and set out destroying our house, together.

The next few years, our world revolved around our two dogs. But we soon realized that having two dogs was a lot harder than having one dog. The amount of work and energy to care for two dogs goes far beyond twice the amount of food, twice the amount of poop. Taking two dogs anywhere, including for a walk, was a challenge. Having two big dogs run through our house and yard meant that we were constantly cleaning the house and yard. But we were able to care for two dogs because we had the time, and we were living in a rental and not overly concerned with things like … old carpet.

Two dogs became an even bigger issue when we moved out of our graduate school bungalow and in to a brand spanking new house. A new house where everything was white … except the off-white carpet. While Monty and Molly set out digging up the back yard, I was feeling more and more reluctant to let them in the house. They were often dusty from their romps through the yard and when they would walk through the house, they’d rub the walls smudging them with dirt as they went. As soon as they would come indoors, it never failed that they would drop to the ground and scratch their backs on the carpeting, while tuffs of dog hair floated all through the house.

The beginning of the end of the life that Monty and Molly once knew, commenced when I was awoken – for the fourth or fifth time – to the awful sound of “Hccck! Hcccck! Hcccccccck!!!!” I jumped out of bed and tried to grab Monty by the collar and drag him outside before I heard “Blaaaaarp!”

I was too late.

Dog barf. All over our new off-white carpet.

Again.

As I was scrubbing the carpet I decided that I didn’t want to have our brand new house filled with the smell of dogs. I didn’t want to have our nice things covered in dirt, hair, and have barf stains on the floor. I went out and bought two new dog beds and moved the dogs to the garage. Where, slowly, they started staying for longer and longer stretches of time.

Charlie and I got pulled in to our careers. We worked long hours. We slept in late on the weekends. We fed the dogs, who had officially moved out to the garage, twice a day – in the morning and at night. We took them for walks, almost every day. We sometimes brought them in when we were home, but sometimes, we didn’t. Charlie constructed a dog run along the side of our house, because after we spent a small fortune landscaping our back yard, we were infuriated when the dogs got back there and ripped up a large portion of it. We would still let the dogs out to play in the back yard, but only under our scrutinizing eye.

Years passed.

All the while, I carried around this burning feeling of guilt that our dogs deserved better. They had had better lives, once upon a time. Before we moved in to our “new” house. Before we had our “careers”. Before we grew in to adults that realized just how much work a dog is. And how much more work two dogs are. Now they had each other - and that was enough to keep my conscience at bay.

Even though they required a lot of time, our dogs were good dogs. They were well trained. They never jumped on people, although they were guilty of an occassional goose. They stayed with us whenever we went on walks - never tugging on their leash, and coming right back to us when we took them off leash to run around.

We could tell that Monty has been slowing down. For the past several years, I’ve noticed that it has been increasingly difficult for him to get up and to move around. When we’d go for walks, Monty could only do the “small-loop” anything more than 1-mile would be way too much for him, and he would struggle to walk the following day. But through it all, he’d wag his tail excitedly whenever we saw him. He’d try desperately to run for his ball, his back legs often collapsing out from beneath him. The days of taking the dogs to the beach ended because there was no way Monty could make it from the car, across the sand, and to the water. What really pained me is that because Monty’s health was deteriorating, our relationship with Molly was deteriorating, too. We couldn’t take one dog out and leave another dog at home. It wasn’t fair. Monty always knew, and protested whenever Molly was taken somewhere without him. But it wasn’t fair to Molly, either. She was and still is, a vital, strong dog.

So what did we do? We almost forgot that we had dogs. We still loved them. We still fed them. We still walked them. We still gave them baths. But our worlds no longer revolved around them the way that they once did. Once we had babies, our dogs dropped even further down on our priority list. With three premature babies in the house, the dogs didn’t stand a chance of coming in because we were always in a constant state of “heightened cleanliness awareness”.

As the babies started to walk, the back yard was almost completely closed off, too. Even though I was careful about cleaning up after the dogs – there was always the off chance that I’d miss something and the babies would find it. Sh*t happens.

Since the first day time that I’d said “Hello” to Monty, I knew that one day, I’d have to say “Goodbye”. The knowledge that day would happen, absolutely terrified me. I kept thinking that it would get better, that our dogs would come back in to our lives more. I figured that the babies will get older, they will understand they can’t eat dog poop in the millisecond it takes for it to be deposited and for me to clean it up. Eventually, I promised myself, the dogs will come back in to the house, because I’ve come to realize that with three toddlers running around, off-white carpeting is not meant to be.

Last weekend, Charlie gave the dogs a good bath and we let them in the house. Two dogs plus three babies was extremely chaotic. But we also had a revelation. We may never again have to wrestle the babies for a broom. Once food hits the floor, it is instantly consumed by our canine companions. Monty and Molly’s lives were in the process of changing. Again.

Yesterday, when I went out in to the garage, Monty didn’t look well. His face was sunken and he didn’t stand up. He could barely lift his tail to wag it in greeting. I was in the midst of feeding the babies breakfast … welcoming our housecleaner … and seeing Charlie off to work. During the afternoon, when I was outside playing with the babies, I saw Molly at the dog run. Monty was no-where to be seen, which isn’t unusual since he’d much rather lay peacefully on his bed, than be chased by a herd of 1-year olds. I can’t say that I blame him.

Like always, the day sped by. When Charlie came home and we got ready for our evening walk, he mentioned that Monty didn’t look well. I agreed, having seen him earlier that day. I walked out to the garage and when I looked in his eyes, I knew instantly that he was dying. It was almost as if he was pleading with me to make it end. The babies were fastened in their strollers and Charlie went in to call the vet. When he returned, he told me that the vet could see him tomorrow. Tonight we were going for a long walk. Tonight was bath night. Tonight was pizza night. Tonight was a bottle of red wine. Tonight was relaxing after a long week. That stuff didn’t happen. Because for the first time in a long time, Monty wasn’t going to take a back burner to our lives.

“No, no, NO. He has to be seen tonight. Monty is our priority.”

While Charlie went back in to call the vet, I sat on Monty’s bed and I wept. I pulled his big dopy head on to my lap, and I rubbed his ears, stroked his back and caressed his face while repeating over and over again how much I love him and how so sorry I am that he has taken a back seat. As I sobbed, my tears covered him. The babies sat by quietly and didn’t make a peep. It’s as if they knew that this was the end of a chapter in their mom and dad’s life. The time had come to say goodbye. Monty was not coming home again.

Charlie carefully loaded Monty in the front seat of the truck and drove to our vet. He called me an hour later, completely choked up. “He has no muscle tone. His arthritis is out of control. There are things that we could try, but the vet thinks we should put him down. Jen, he’s in pain.”

Monty would be 13 next month. From what I hear, 13 years is a long time for a big lab to live. It makes me so very sorry that the latter half of Monty’s life was spent the way it was. Tucked in our garage with his dog run on the side of the house. Monty deserved more than that. I know it – and I’ll continue to beat myself up over it, for a long time to come.

When Charlie came home from the vet, he was broken. He recounted how the vet had gently given Monty a catheter in his front paw and how she gave him a shot of anesthesia before she gave him the euthanasia. Charlie told me that he stayed with Monty the whole time, rubbing his head, looking in his eyes and telling him how much we both loved him. He stayed with Monty after he passed, remaining in the room for another 30-minutes rubbing and loving our dog. I wish so much that I could have been there, too.

Charlie and I held each other and we cried, most of the night. We looked at pictures of our puppy. We reminisced the days when our lives revolved around Monty. We brought Molly in the house and she camped out at our feet, filling the room with an aroma that made us think our nose was on fire. Just like the good old days.

Nobody in the house slept well last night. I heard Charlie up again this morning, before the sunrise, looking at photos again. Remembering our dog. Monty will be impossible to forget. Not only do we have a ton of pictures and warm memories, but we have white dog hair that will be around for a long time to come.

We have promised ourselves, each other – and Molly - that she will no longer be sequestered to the garage. We promised her that she is a part of our family the way that she use to be. I just wish it wasn’t too late for her big brother.

As our children grow older and want dogs, I will remember our experience. Like my parents, I will not give in easily. I know, firsthand, what is involved raising and caring for dogs ... it is not something to be taken lightly. A dog is a living, breathing animal that requires a lot of attention and love. Yet, they also have the capability of filling our lives with immeasurable amounts of joy. Our dogs have taught us the true meaning of unconditional love. It is because of Monty's faithful companionship that making the decision to say "Goodbye" has been the hardest one we've had yet to make.

Monty’s ashes will be picked up next Friday. We are going to take him to the beach and sprinkle them in the ocean. Monty always loved the beach. And we will always love Monty.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Let's Talk. Food.

We have triplets. Toddler triplets.

I'm not sure if I've mentioned that before.

They are 20-months old and at an age where they eat anything and everything in sight. Sometimes, the things that they ingest are MEANT to be consumed. Sometimes not. But, I've already spent enough time dwelling on that.

The point is ... we are always on the look out for healthy food to feed these children whose appetites are increasing.

DAILY.

Three small children, who I could once nourish entirely from my breastmilk, are now eating us out of house and home. We went to Costco today and spent TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS on food. Mostly fresh fruit. All of this fruit will be gone by Monday of next week. I can guarantee it.

Our children love fresh fruit. Pineapple, apples, oranges, mango, strawberries, blueberries, bananas, peaches, pears, kiwis, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, grapes. Did I miss anything? If so - they love that, too. Unless it persimmons.

Since we've weaned the babies from bottles, I think that William's body composition has gone from 98% milk to 99% fresh fruit. That's pretty much all he will eat.

The girls, however, will eat anything that we put in front of them. But as the babies have grown older - they have become better at eating. As such, my dilemma is, what do we feed our children that is:

1) Healthy

2) Fast & easy

I fear that question is an oxymoron.

When they were first learning to eat solids - I was extremely cautious about what I fed them. If they were eating grains - they were whole grains. Everything was fresh. No canned foods. I tried to do organic as much as I could. But within reason. I couldn't see spending $4.00 for a pound of bananas when I could spend $0.88 for the non-organic variety.

Does this make me a bad mother? Let's not go there. Please, forget I asked.

Slowly, but surely ... the following "foods" have crept in to our repertoire. It all started at Costco with a bag of Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies. No kidding.

I'm truly embarrassed admitting this, because these foods are the epitome of processed "crap" I swore up and down and a million times around - I'd NEVER feed our children.
  • Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. It gets worse. Kraft Easy Mac because I'm usually too strapped for time to boil a pot of water.
  • Hot Dogs. The good news is - they are turkey franks. Although, I have NO idea what part of the turkey these things come from.
  • Tyson Teriyaki Chicken. A close examination of this "chicken" reminds me of a sponge.
  • Yummy Yummy Dino Buddies Chicken Breast Nuggets. The monster sized value pack from Costco. What are they? Breaded chicken sponges, in the form of dinosaurs.
  • Eggo Waffles. Need I say more?
  • Aunt Jemima syrup on top of those waffles, noted above. I actually spent $11.00 on a small bottle of "real" maple syrup and Charlie - who is FROM Canada - didn't like it. He said it was too runny and didn't have the "flavor" he liked. I think the "flavor" he is referring to is derived from corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, cellulose gum, caramel color, salt, sodium benzoate, sorbic acid, artificial flavors and sodium hexametaphosphate devised by a team of highly educated chemical engineers.
  • Peanut butter. Jiffy. I tried the "real" kind - and it was GROSS. We eat 56 ounces of this stuff, each and every month. I know that this volume will only go UP with time. Isn't peanut butter a staple in every child's home?
  • Kirkland Brand Chemically Altered American Sliced Cheese. I don't think that's what it says on the package - but that's what it is. Charlie has recently informed me that this cheese, which we use at least 3 to 4 times a week in our babies' grilled cheese sandwiches, is translucent. The orange is most definitely a color that they add.
  • Heinz Ketchup. OK, that's not too bad, provided you eat it in moderation. Our children actually scoop it up on their spoons and eat it like it's soup.
  • I'm sure there's more, the kind of stuff that would make you gasp "Oh my HEAVENS! Not THAT!!!" But, it's late and my mind is foggy from the day.
We do TRY to provide healthy foods. We'll make baked spaghetti, using whole grain pasta. I make the "real" oatmeal - the kind where you have to actually boil water. We make omelettes and toss in lots of vegetables. We try to give them fresh vegetables whenever we can, including home-made french fries (Yukon Gold potatoes diced and baked with a dash of salt) and raw corn-on-the-cob. But, I fear we are stuck in a bind of giving them the same food ALL the time. Quesadillas. PB&J. Grilled cheese. With varying "side" dishes, that come from a can and/or involve mixing a packet of "flavoring."

Now for the irony. Our children, eat far better than we do. They get three (3) square meals a day, plus snacks. Meanwhile, our dinner tonight consisted of left over Yummy Yummy Dino Buddies Chicken Breast Nuggets, popcorn, a bottle of Chardonnay ... a bowl of Rocky Road ice cream for me, and an ice cream "drumstick" for Charlie. You don't believe me? Here's the proof.

So indulge me. Please. Feed me your ideas on healthy food - easy to whip up - that I can feed our growing children. And us.

Or, at least tell me that feeding them this *stuff* isn't all that bad.

An update. Of sorts ...

First and foremost - here's the yarn I purchased last week. The basket is full to the brink. I started my first blankie last Tuesday, and although I *said* that I would post a picture of a 1/3 completed blankie tonight ... alas ... I am posting a picture of a 9/10 completed blankie. All I have left to do is "cast-off" ... weave in the ends ... and crochet the border. Voila! My first blankie is about 2.5 feet x 2.5 feet and super wicked soft (that's for all you New Englanders).

But really people. Not a single razz. If I can't count on you - who can I count on?? As you can see, the kids have not been a huge help in this effort. The fascination with a skein of yarn can last for hours. No kidding.

To keep up the momentum, I have organized a "Stitch & Bitch" group. I have promised anyone that wants to learn to knit ... how to knit ... provided that they make one blanket for a baby in Africa. So far, I've talked a handful of neighborhood women in to joining me, along with several of my fellow triplet (and quadruplet) Mom's. The current plan is that we will get together every other week, for a few hours to stitch, bitch, eat chocolate and drink margaritas. Doesn't that sound like a good time?! Doesn't everybody wish they lived close so they could join us?!

And now, to answer some of the burning questions that have either appeared as comments on my blog ... or arrived in the form of e-mails from people who are either to shy to post a comment, or can't figure it out. Here you go:

Q1: How in the world did you get three babies to sit still for pictures?

A1: We didn't. They scrambled all over the place. I've started carrying around a huge roll of duct tape that works like a charm to not only keep them still, but to also hold up errant clothing including toddler skirts that are too big, or drawstring pants on a playground (I'm only partly serious. Can you guess which part?) In reality, we got extremely lucky with a good photographer who completely knocked herself out jumping up and down - running around the room - and dangling feather dusters in our babies' faces. The pictures will be ready on 7/5.

Q2: How in the world do you get a baby to sleep in until 9:00 AM?

A2: Take them to the zoo and only let them have a 30-minute nap the day before.

Q3: Are you seriously considering leaving Charlie at home, alone, and going on a business trip for a week?!

A3: Despite my horrific fear of flying - and the sadness I will experience being away from the babies for 5 days - I just recently received a link to the hotel where our meeting will be, in Santa Fe. It's a crappy little 5-star resort/spa and I know it will be absolutely dreadful. Charlie will not be flying solo the whole time. Rather, my mom and her beau (God bless them) will be coming out from South Carolina to lend a hand and I'm sure they will have a grand time in my absence.

As an added tidbit of information, I really and truly intend to have my will (or trust, or whatever we go with) finished BEFORE I depart. For some strange reason, the thought that things are "in place" makes me feel a lot better about leaving. And by the way ... statistics DO NOT HELP my situation, in any way, shape or form. I know the statistics for how *safe* flying is. Just tell that to John Denver, Buddy Holly, Ricky LaBamba, Lynard Skynard, Payne Stewart, John Kennedy Jr. & his lovely wife & sister-in-law ... and a host of other unfortunate souls that met their early demise aboard these "safe vessels of the air."

Q4: How is back-up Bunnie Squeakles coming along?

A4: Not so good. He's been washed with every single load of laundry since arriving in our house, and he has yet to pass the "Elizabeth test." I'm a little apprehensive to let the dogs loose on him, or back our van over him ... because these Bunnie Squeakles are a rarity, a precious commodity in the Baby Boyds world. I'm optimistic ... we'll get there, eventually. He'll probably be "broken-in" just about the time Elizabeth outgrows a lovey.

Q5: How is the nap situation coming along?

A5: Funny you should ask. Depending upon what we have going on, they will take 1 or 2 naps. They will typically go down around 10:30 or 11, following a little snack. They usually sleep until about 1:30'ish. They eat lunch ... and depending what we have going on that day, I might opt to put them down for another nap at around 4:00. They don't always sleep at this time. They'll usually either quietly flip through books in their crib, or try to catapult themself over the side of the crib. Lately, it's been more of the latter.

Q6: How were the brownies?

A6: Not very good, they were overcooked. And probably overmixed. If that's possible. We bought a KitchenAid mixer to make the Babies 1st birthday cake (I'll post about that some other time) and I try to use it whenever I can, to justify the mortgage I paid for this thing. Yesterday, between getting the kids diapers changed, serving them lunch, and cleaning the house - I threw all the ingredients in to the KitchenAid. The ingredients probably mixed for at least 45 minutes before I had time to scoop them out in a pan and stick it in the oven. Speaking of the oven. Have I mentioned that William figured out how to turn it on and off, AND increase the temperature? When you think of it, turning the oven on and off isn't that much harder than turning the computer on and off. My challenge will now be to figure out how to make dinner without burning everything to a crisp ... or ... losing track of how much time something has been in the oven because one of the kids has reset the timer. What's nice is that now I can blame my horrendous cooking on the children.

Q7: Have you attempted going to the gym, by yourself ... again?

A7: Why, yes I have!! OK - I'm cheating ... nobody asked me that question, but I was feeling extremely proud of my accomplishment and had to share. I took the babies to the gym again, by myself, last week. It went a lot better than the first time, considering I worked out for a solid hour and I remembered to close all the doors on the car. However. I stayed on the ellipse machine right by the entrance the entire time, so if anyone tried to snatch a baby, I'd be on them before they got out the front door. I'm no where close to taking a shower there, yet. At least not with the kids in tow. Did I mention Charlie bought me a new razor? He's such a good guy and the wounds on his face are healing up quite nicely.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Hosting A Triplet Playdate, 101

The phone rang this morning, waking me up at 7:30. I could barely make out the message ... "One of our babies is sick, maybe we could move the playdate to your house, instead?"

This morning Charlie was up and out of the house before the crack of dawn. I'm not exactly sure what time that is, but it's definitely before 7:30 AM. He needed to get an early start on the day because today was supposed to be a "split day." Meaning, I have the morning shift with the kids - he has the afternoon - and we indulge on a banana split ice cream at the shift change. Not really. But that ice cream treat at mid-day is a damn good idea...

The reason we needed today to be a "split day" is because I had meetings scheduled for the next 3 days with a co-worker who was flying in from Texas, with a scheduled arrival in San Diego at 1:00 PM. Charlie would work until noon ... and then I'd have the afternoon to meet with my co-worker. That was the plan.

Sometimes, waking up in a queen sized bed, all by yourself, in a quiet house ... is a luxury. So as I laid in bed this morning, thinking about how nice it was to stretch out with all kinds of room - and a load of pillows all to myself - I was thinking "I'm so darn comfortable. What play date?"

Then I remembered. Vaguely.

There are a few of us, here in San Diego, with 1-year old triplets. We've decided that it would be good to start getting together on a frequent basis - to help:

1) Develop our children's social skills;

2) Develop our ability to go out with our triplets to social events; and last but not least ...

3) Get out of the house with our three 1-year olds who are often on the brink of driving us NUTS.

I had told the other triplet Mom's that I wouldn't be able to participate in this play date, because I was going to be working in the afternoon. Charlie, however, may opt to bring the babies - depending upon how his morning went.

NOT.

To Charlie's credit - he has gone to play dates, by himself, before. He even brought homemade chocolate chip cookies. But, it's not something that he really enjoys doing. I mean, he is a guy, after all.

I lugged myself out of bed ... tiptoed past the nursery ... because the babies were still sleeping ... and picked up the phone to call Charlie.

"Hi Love. I just got a message from Debbie. One of her boys is sick. She can't host the play date at her house ... and wanted to know if we could host it here. Would you be OK to do that?"

He paused.

"Play date? Uh, how many babies will be there?"

"Let's see. Jessica. Jeanmarie. Debbie might come up with her two. And ours. That's not too bad, is it?"

"Well, uh, how many babies is that?"

He's smart.

"Maybe 11."

"ELEVEN? How old are they?"

"Well, they're all less than two. They're our kids ages."

"Of course honey. Anything you want."

I'm not sure if this is exactly what he said, but that's what I heard.

As soon as I got off the phone with Charlie, and committed him to hosting a play date at our house with three other moms’ and their 1-year old triplets ... my cell phone rang.

Apparently, there's been some flooding in Texas, and the airport is closed down. My co-worker won't be coming after all. The meeting has been canceled.

Which means ... Charlie doesn't have to come home at noon.

Which means ... I'll be home all day by myself with the babies.

Which means ... I am hosting a play date in a few hours.

Which means ... I need to clean the house before everyone gets here because it looks like a tornado swept through it. There's no motivator more compelling to clean your house than the knowledge that it will be FULL of toddlers.

I called Charlie back to let him know that he was off the hook and he was overjoyed. There is no other way to describe it.

Because of the long day yesterday at the zoo... the babies slept in until 9:00 this morning. (Yes, I was amazed, too.) With that time - I started cleaning the house up. Folding and putting away laundry, mopping the floor, organizing all of the toys that have found their way in to every nook and cranny of our house.

Now before you ask "Why bother?" Here's an interesting tidbit I learned about myself recently...

When posed with the question "What kind of person are you?" I was interested to learn that I am the kind of person that would rather have company show up at my doorstep, and I am still in my pajamas with a clean house ... than have company show up at my doorstep, and I am fully dressed but the house is in shambles. This shouldn't have surprised me, considering I can go to work after exercising vigorously for two hours and having not taken a shower ... because I left my razor at home.

The babies woke up from their 14-hour slumber FAMISHED. I got everybody up, got them dressed, and plopped them in their booster chairs. While they were out-of-control screaming for food ... I divvied up a banana across the three of them. It was instantly consumed. Another banana. And another.

A container of Yo-Baby yogurt. And another. And another.

Eight ounces of orange juice TIMES three.

Two English muffins smothered with jelly.

Two cups of diced grapes.

Meanwhile, the oatmeal that I had started to cook was just about ready. But, by that point, the babies were full. They've recently learned the sign for "No-More" and swept their hands across the tray, scattering all of the food (jelly side-down, of course) to the floor that I had just mopped.

Make no mistake ... I LOVE IT WHEN THEY DO THAT.

I wash their faces, plop them down on the ground and they take off running around the house, pulling out all of the toys that I had just put away and tucking them into every nook and cranny, where they apparently belong.

The oatmeal is finished cooking and since I realize that I haven't yet had anything to eat ... I scoop it in to a bowl and sit on the couch for a moment of quiet (who am I kidding) to enjoy my breakfast.

The babies STOP what they are doing and come stand in front of me. William climbs on top of my lap and gives me a big hug. It's just a guise, I know it. Then he sits back and looks at my bowl of oatmeal. Looks at me. Looks at my bowl of oatmeal. Looks at me. And smiles. And before I could stop him, he puts his grubby little hand in my bowl of oatmeal and grabs a fistful that he then shoves in his mouth.

Funny. He wasn't hungry just a moment ago.

I feed William a good ten or twenty spoonfuls of oatmeal before he decides that he's had enough. He slides off my lap and Carolyn takes his place. She looks at me. Looks at my bowl of oatmeal. Looks at me. And smiles. I feed her from my bowl of oatmeal ... wishing that I had a camera mounted on top of my head to capture this moment. Once Carolyn has reached her oatmeal quota ... she slides of my lap and is replaced by Elizabeth. Who, eats the rest of my breakfast.

So much for having a quiet moment. Or, having any breakfast.

During the next three hours, the kids pull out every single toy that I had put away. AND THEN SOME. Leaving me to wonder "Why did I bother cleaning up in the first place, at all?!"

When they go down for their morning nap ... I SCRAMBLE to get the house squared away. Again. I vacuum all the Cheerios off the floor ... clean up the jelly on the tile ... put all the toys back away ... organize the toys in the backyard, dump all of the sand back in the sand box that the babies had thrown OUT of said sandbox, sweep the patio, clean the dog-run, pull a few weeds, put up the umbrella on the table, blah blah blah. Bottom line, I worked my A$$ off.

Babies wake up. Diapers changed. Eat lunch. Throw food all over the floor and wipe peanut butter across the table. It's cool. Happens everyday.

I try to quickly clean the house, again, before everyone is scheduled to arrive. And, on top of that, I whip up some brownies. (Which I'm sitting here feasting on, with a glass of red wine, because ... come to think of it ... I haven't had anything to eat today.)

This is how the next few hours went:

First set of adorable triplets (ours, of course) set out ransacking the house, AGAIN, before everyone arrives.

Second set of adorable triplets arrive.

Third set of adorable triplets arrive.

Fourth set of adorable triplets make a guest appearance at our front door, but don't come in because they are afraid they will contaminate the other three sets of adorable triplets.

Adorable triplets that are in the house, duck and weave around the adults standing by the front door talking to the fourth set of adorable triplets, and take off running out of the house and in to the yard, shouting in baby babble "We're FREE! We're FREE!"

Adults go chasing after all the babies before they run in to the road.

All in all ... it was a good time. No pictures were taken because, seriously ... who has time to take pictures when there just a just a few adults and TWELVE 1-year olds? Maybe two weeks from now, at our next "organized" play date.

Organized ... really, that word is hugely overrated.

If I could rewind, 12 hours ago ... I would have slept in until the kids woke up, not cleaned the house one iota, and eaten my oatmeal in the bathroom. With a glass of red wine.

(Sorry about the font changing throughout the post. I'm noticing it - not sure if others are, too. It's driving me crazy. Why? Because I'm anal about this kind of thing, especially when I can't figure out how to correct it. This is what happens when I type my story up in Word and try to copy it over. Small stuff. I must try not to sweat the small stuff...)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

An Ode to Doggy Daddy


As far as Dad's go...
There ain't non greater...
If Daddyhood was a political race...
Our's would easily beat out Ralph Nader.


He cooks and he cleans...
He does laundry and picks up dog poo...
He reads us stories and gives us baths...
And took us to the World Famous Zoo.


He's worried about germs...
And always washes our hands with soap...
He carries Purell in his pocket...
And can hold all three of us on one rope.


He comes to our side at night...
Or whenever we are crying...
He'll happily change our stinkiest diapers...
When Mom's fast asleep (or looks like she's trying).


He's kind and he's gentle...
And although he has yet to win a spelling bee...
He never complains and he's friendly...
The kind of person we hope to be.


He taught us to assemble puzzles...
How to kick and throw a ball...
He takes us to the pool and park...
And always catches us before we fall.

He makes the best grilled cheese...
Omelettes, milk shakes, french toast...
He whips up waffles and quesadillas...
Thank goodness you cook. Have you tasted Mom's pot roast?!


He loves to play his guitar...
Read books and ride his bike...
He ran a marathon once and plays tennis...
There are very few things he doesn't like.


He's so good to our Mom...
He makes her laugh and often rubs her feet...
He's extremely patient when she updates her blog...
And will bring her wine and sweets to eat.

He works only part-time...
He says it's important to see us grow...
He takes us for long walks...
And we appreciate him more than he'll ever know.


Whether we're calling him "Doggeee" or "Daddeee"
We hope he knows that's it true...
There ain't no better one in the land...
Than OUR Daddy. That's you!