Monday, July 31, 2006

Adventures at Home Deep-in-debt Depot

I've decided that I like shopping at Home Depot better than shopping at Lowe's.

If for no other reason, Home Depot has race car shopping carts that the kids absolutely loved.

I probably could have fit all three kidlets in to one cart (someone sitting in the "basket" with a seatbelt) but that wouldn't have been nearly as much fun as sitting in the "driver seat" and steering.

Because I knew that I would be at Home Depot for at least 45-minutes, I needed to minimize the amount of screaming optimize the kids excitement with our shopping experience. As such - everyone got their own steering wheel.

(Besides, I needed all the space I could get in the cart, what with all the "home improvement supplies" I would be picking up during my outing.)

The "home improvement supplies" I was specifically sent to the store to pick up were namely:

1) Plants for our backyard, and

2) Lattice for the structure Charlie was building around the air conditioning unit.

(Yes. This outing was last week. But. I've just had so many other things going on that I haven't had an opportunity to post about this yet. I've literally got a backlog of postings for at least a month. I'm prioritizing, you see...)

Even though I only had two items on my list - that didn't stop me from perusing the isles and looking at all the other "home improvement items" that I realized we need. I didn't realize just how badly we needed these items, however ... until I was standing in the store looking at them.

Lucky for me, the kids were happily entertained with their steering wheels. So armed with Snacktraps and mini-sized snack boxes of raisins ... I was able to spend a glorious TWO hours at Home Depot. I am now entirely convinced that this is the store where more Americans go completely bankrupt.

Here's a partial listing of the "essential house improvement items" I discovered I couldn't live another day year without:

1) A new shower - for our bathroom;

2) A new bathtub (a jacuzzi tub would be especially nice) - for our bathroom;

3) All new tile work around the shower and jacuzzi bathtub - in our bathroom;

4) Marble countertops - in our bathroom;

5) New windows;

6) French doors;

7) A new barbeque (in the form of an outdoor kitchen);

8) New patio furniture - in the form of solid Teak with comfy cushions on the chairs;

9) Hardwood floors to replace our nasty a$$ carpet that covers 40% of our house;

10) Roll-out doors for all of our cupboards;

11) A pressure washer. It just looked really cool;

12) A treehouse;

13) A big tree for the treehouse to go in;

14) New paint ... both inside and out; and last but NOT least ...

15) A second story. As in - a whole 'nuther level to our home.

The thing is ... we've lived in the same lovely little house for the past 9 years. It's a cozy abode with as much charm as you can squeeze from a tract-home in Southern California.

(In all honesty - it's a great house ... in a great neighborhood. We love it here.)

Even though we bought this house new, after 9 years, and the addition of three children to our family ... it needs a bit of work.

Our house is a 3 bedroom, 2 bath with ~1700 square feet. When we found out we were expecting triplets, one of the first things we did (after freaking out) is start looking at larger homes. Unfortunately, the real estate market is so prohibitive in California (a 4 or 5 bedroom house would cost ~$800K in our neighborhood) - we decided to stay put and make do.

All along, we've been thinking that eventually, we need to move. Eventually, we need to get a bigger place. But ... funny enough ... we're making it work right where we are.

We love that our house is a one-story with a great floorplan. There are no stairs, so no need to worry about toddlers toppling down a flight, and because of the size, it's relatively easy to clean ... provided we stay on top of minimizing clutter. (HOWEVER - that doesn't mean I still wouldn't like to get my own House-Elf.)

Best of all - we aren't drowning in a mortgage payment and are able to "make-end's meet" with two part-time jobs. (Yeah, it's a pretty ideal situation.) So, even though a little extra space would be nice ... the advantage to staying where we are, far outweighs moving.

Like I said ... this house is perfect for us right now. It just needs a little bit of work.

I didn't realize just HOW much work it needed, until I went to Home Depot.

THIS is why I should never go shopping, alone.

Although, had Charlie been with me, he might have co-signed the Home Depot credit application and I would be sitting in a jacuzzi tub right now, instead of updating my blog.

Ah. If only my April Fool's joke wasn't a joke.

I checked out of Home Depot only $132.00 poorer than when I went in (as opposed to $98,930.00 poorer had I bought the other 15 "essential household items" that I deemed necessary), and drove home.

The very next day, after the plants started to wilt from sitting on our back patio in the blazing sun were acclimated to the climate in our yard, I set out planting.

Fortunately ... I had three little helpers that made my job go remarkably fast. If you consider "fast" to be the speed at which grass grows. Or ... paint dries.

The kids then rapidly turned their attention to "helping" Charlie with his construction activities thankfully, giving me an opportunity to finish the planting.

Charlie quickly realized that it's a difficult to do construction related activities when you have three toddlers doggedly determined on playing with the tape measure and level. After Charlie tried unsuccessfully for 15 minutes to measure a small section of lattice, I stood in the doorway and sang out "Who wants ice cream?!" until all the kids ran in the house.

(The lengths to which I'll go to get things done around here, never cease to amaze me. But if you read my blog, you already know how the rest of my evening went.)

Even though these activities happened last weekend ... Charlie and I spent the better part of today, learning more about hardwood floors.

We've mutually decided that if we are going to stay in this house for another few* years ... it would be more comfortable for us, if we updated a few* things. (* We're not entirely sure how to quantify "few").

I don't know if we'll purchase all of the 15 "essential household items" I summarized above. There's a chance I could be talked out of the tree house. And pressure washer.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Chain Gang

Yet once again ... my short term memory loss comes in really handy.

Especially on a lazy Saturday afternoon when I am home alone and have three toddlers who are climbing the walls of our house ... while Dad is at the gym.

I figured that if I was ever going to be in a position where I could leave the house with the kids sans baby stroller ... we need to work on staying upright and not falling all over ourselves and each other our coordination with the safety harnesses. Post haste.

Truthfully, we had much better success walking around the block this time.

Perhaps most importantly, I remembered to bring my camera.

Everyone kinda stayed on the sidewalk - and I made the brilliant decision to tether the babies together, so I was only holding on to one "harness" and not three separate leashes straps.

There were only a few topples and one major pile-up.

The most notable topple came at the start of our voyage, when they ran in three different directions, and all wound up on the ground - looking at the sky. They quickly realized they had to move as a pack to prevent that from happening again.

The pile-up occurred when Elizabeth, who was the leader of the pack (with her ever faithful "Bunny" I didn't even realize she had him until I took this picture) ... came to an abrupt halt because she spotted a Cheez-It.

We love Cheez-It's.

But, we don't love Cheez-It's when they are on the ground and covered with ants. I would have stopped her before she picked up this tasty treat and stuck it in her mouth ... but these kids are lightening fast.

The Omniverous Ones strike again.

Several cars slowed down to gawk ... a few beeped their horns and waved ... and some actually stopped.

It took us 90 minutes to go 1/2 way around our block, so we were walking at a pace of approximately 0.005 miles per hour.

Stated another way ... the ants on the Cheez-It's were covering more ground than we were.

Fortunately, there were no rabbit droppings to worry about.

I'm thinking a cute Halloween costume would be to dress the kids in black and white pinstripes and load them in to their safety harnesses. Charlie and I would be Bailiffs.






Saturday, July 29, 2006

God's Fingerprints

Everynight before bedtime ... we say our evening prayers. They go something like this:

"Now I lay me down to sleep ... I pray the Lord my soul to keep ... healthy and happy in every way ... with love and laughter filling each day. Please fill our hearts with compassion, tolerance and patience - especially for our Mom & Dad (they need LOTS of patience). Please look over all of our friends and family and ALL the children of the world, tonight. Amen."

I've been saying an evening prayer with the babies for as long as I can remember. Our prayers follow the same script, almost every time. It's only been recently that they too, will fold their little hands in prayer as soon as I start and they will babble along with me.

My day never feels entirely "done" until I say an evening prayer with the children. Even when I'm out of town on business, I ask that Charlie recite a prayer with the babies before bedtime.

Evening Prayer is that important to me.

I'll dive in to my thoughts on God and spirituality in another post ... but for now ... the important thing is that I most definitely believe in God. Infact, one of my favorite quotes - of all times - is "Everything has God's fingerprints on it."

Everything has God's Fingerprints on it.

That's pretty powerful.

When I think back on our years and years of infertility - I couldn't see the "holiness" in our struggles ... but now, I do.

When I think back on the serious health scares that both Charlie and I faced early in our marriage - I couldn't see the "holiness" in those struggles ... but now, I do.

When I think back on the ups and downs of life - including family feuds and Wars abroad - I couldn't see the "holiness'" in those struggles ... but now, I do.

The majority of the time - even in the most dire of situations - I am somewhat able to wrap my mind around the "holiness" and find comfort in God's presence. I'm not sure if this mentality makes me an optimist, or a believer. I'd like to think I'm a little of both.

But try as I might, I absolutely cannot wrap my mind around the horror that has rocked Utah the past few weeks. Lured away from her own back yard ... a beautiful little 5-year old girl ... was taken from her family. Forever. A monster that lived a few houses away ... a 20-year old beast from hell ... stole this little girl. He strangled her and then sexually assaulted her body, and stuck her in a trunk in his basement. Destiny was nothing to him. Nothing.

Because I don't watch the news or television, I didn't know about this kidnapping. But when I was 'blog-hopping' today over lunch, I learned of this event - and the tragic outcome. So if any of my co-workers might be wondering, this is why I burst in to tears while sitting at my desk - and started yelling profanity at my computer monitor.

Destiny was five. Five. Years. Old.

She was quite possibly, not yet in Kindergarten.

She was quite possibly, at an age where she still needed her Mommy and Daddy to help her take a bath at night and get dressed in her pajamas.

She was most definitely, at an age where she still slept with a lovey.

She was five years old.

I broke down in tears. I couldn't stop crying. Not at work - and not during the entire drive home. I had flashbacks to Polly Klaas in 1993. That horrible event unfolded only miles from our house while Charlie and I were at college in Northern California. Yet, I felt more grief than imaginable thinking of Destiny. Maybe because I'm a Mom now, and I think of my own children. The horror, pain and nausea that wracked my body today - it was real.

I talked with Charlie about my "reaction" tonight over dinner. I started my sentence with "I just can't imagine what her family is going through ...." and then I stopped myself. I can imagine what they are going though. They are living every parent's worst possible nightmare.

When our babies first came home from the hospital - I happened to have some "down time" (i.e. I was vegging out in front of the TV while pumping) and I caught a segment on Oprah. This was the one Oprah show, I wish I had missed because I've never been the same, since. The story was about sexual predators. Oprah had an individual on her show that had set a trap and busted a man, beast, monster, scum bag who had paid $10,000.00 to have sex with a 5-month old baby.

That's right. Five. Months. Old.

Yay that they caught THAT malicious, piece of evil crap. But the fact that these creton exist who would commit such heinous crimes - literally keeps me awake at night.

The mere existence of these monsters is what makes me triple check every night before bed that all the doors and windows to our home are locked.

The mere existence of these monsters is what makes me check the internet to find out where convicted sexual predators live in our neighborhood.

The mere existence of these monsters makes me realize that not all of them have been caught ... and as such ... I must exercise diligence ALL THE TIME.

Even with all the precautions I have in place ... most nights ... I will get up, at least once, to check on our children, as they sleep.

How any one could possibly harm one of God's most perfect creations - an innocent child - is completely beyond me.

Even though I pray for patience, tolerance and compassion every single night ... when it comes to these monsters ... I have nothing of the sort. "Throw them to the dogs" ... that's what I say. "Public executions" ... that's what Charlie says. As much as I try to have love and compassion in my heart - no where, in any shape or form, do I see God's Fingerprints on these horrific situations.

Never will I stop my prayers for all the children of the world. But tonight, I am praying especially hard for beautiful little Destiny and her family. May they find peace and comfort ...and somewhere in the ugliness of this situation ... may they also find God's Fingerprints.

I desperately wish I could.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Grandpa (aka: Granddad, Papa) Alex

The past few days have been spent with Grandpa (aka: Granddad, Papa) Alex, Charlie's Dad.

As I'm writing this ... there is turmoil in our home. Charlie and I are divided on how we are supposed to refer to his Dad, now that we have children. Even though there are 10 grand children in Charlie's family, apparently there is no clear consensus on the appropriate nomenclature for "Grandfather".

Really ... it's little surprise that there are so many names for one person. Papa's first name isn't even Alex. It's George. Yet, he was Confirmed Alex, and that name has stuck with him for the better part of his life. My husband is actually William Charles. But, his family calls him "Guy" and all of his friends call him "Charlie". Only telemarketers call him "William" and sometimes, they'll shorten it to "Bill". That's when I know to hang up, straight away.

For the purpose of this posting, I'll refer to Charlie's Dad as Papa. Because, that's what I call him ... and since I'm the one that updates the blog ... I win.

Sorry, Charlie.

We had a wonderful time seeing Papa. Charlie got to spend some quality time with his Dad which included playing 9-holes of golf yesterday morning (Charlie shot a birdie on his last hole, not bad considering he hasn't played golf in four years) - and going on a shopping excursion to Costco yesterday afternoon. The babies got to crawl all over their Papa ... and I had a chance to talk with a man who would undoubtedly be my first choice for a "life-line" if I ever made it on to the game show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?"

Papa is a wonderful story teller and we learned some interesting things about him while he was visiting...

We learned that during his summers growing up in Toronto, Canada ... he was a golf caddy. Carrying two (2) bags for 18 holes ... would earn him a hefty 65 cents. The Canadian conversion for 65 cents, is a little less than a Loony. (Or is it a Toony?) Considering the year was 1942 ... that was pretty good money.

We learned that Papa is a World War II buff. In large part, because he and his Dad, who was a veteran of World War I (in the Canadian Corps of Engineers), would sit and listen to the radio together, every night.

We learned that as a boy growing up, he loved to play football and ... and as a true-blue Canadian, he loved to play hockey, the most. We learned that when he was at University studying for his degree in Electrical Engineering ... he played intramural sports.

We heard again, the wonderful story about how Papa had met Charlie's mom (Jeanne). How both of their father's had worked for the same company ... and during Papa's apprenticeship in America, the two were introduced. Slowly but surely, Jeanne fell for Papa and the two were married. Susan came along shortly thereafter ... and George came two years after Susan. Steve was seven years later ... and then William Charles (aka: Charlie or "Little Guy") arrived five years after Steve.

We learned that Papa's Mother absolutely loved babies. If she were still here today, she would be in heaven having our triplets to play with. When Susan was born, we learned that there were hurt feelings when Papa's Mother stepped in to do things "her way" and Jeanne protested. (That doesn't sound familiar. Not at all.)

We learned that Papa and Jeanne's decision to move to Santa Barbara was because after having lived in Canada, Illinois and Ohio ... they were sick of shoveling snow. We also learned that Papa loves real maple syrup ... and was dismayed to hear his son won't touch the stuff.

We talked about how devastating it was for him to lose Jeanne, after 40-years of marriage. When she died in 1992, at 62-years of age from a brain tumor ... he felt completely alone. We talked about how after losing a loved one - life goes on. Whether we want it to, or not.

We talked about Papa's wife, Kathleen. He told us that Kathleen has brought him a tremendous amount of love and happiness and they have a very good life together, in Arizona. We learned that Papa and Kathleen are active in the Buddhist Sangha and that Papa has learned to meditate. It turns out meditation is important for him to stay grounded with the work he does on the Board of Directors for the local hospital ... and during the five games of golf he plays each and every week. In the Arizona heat.

We saw first hand that retirement hasn't slowed Papa down, at all.

We thanked Papa again, for the incredible generosity he showed to Charlie and I when we were first married. He and Kathleen had picked out a house for us in San Diego - and paid for our first year's rent - so we would have a place to live while in Graduate school. We will never forget their kindness ... and only hope that we are able to extend the same support to our children one day.

During our visit with Papa, we ate popcorn. We drank lots of good wine. We savored the filet mignon steaks that Charlie barbequed for us last night. We finished the evening with hotfudge brownie sundaes, on our back patio beneath a cloudy sky - that drizzled warm raindrops on us.

I have respect for Papa. He is a gentle soul and a kind-hearted man. He is a bona fide gentleman with a lot of class. Much like his son.

Seeing Papa genuinely happy ... made us genuinely happy.

Next time you come visit Papa ... please bring Kathleen. And remember to bring your shoes without laces. In the meantime ... set the record straight and let us know what you would like to be called.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

an amazing trip trick: eating out with small children

Feeding toddlers while out and about.

Easy, right?

Well – it is easy … if you have the right gear.

These are a few items that have worked GREAT for us while we are on the run:

Snacktrap: This little contraption is brilliant. Not only does it keep a hungry toddler at bay for minutes on end (that’s an eternity in my world) … but it also keeps snacks from getting all over the place. The little cup has a rubber stopper on top that “theoretically” allows the child to remove one snack item (i.e. goldfish or animal cracker) at a time. Whenever our kids see their Snacktraps – they break in to joyful “yeeee!!!”. When I’m out and about … I offer the kids their Snacktraps just as they are starting to get fussy, and I can be guaranteed another 15-20 minutes of (relative) peace. The only complaint I’ve heard about the Snacktrap is that kids figure out how to remove the lids. To date - that hasn't been a problem for us, which means that tomorrow it probably will be. You can pick up these gizmos at Babies R’ Us, or at the link provided above.

Spork … or is it Forpoon? Either way … we love these “re-use or lose” plastic spoons and forks from The First Years. We’ve been offering the babies utensils to hold during meal time, ever since they were old enough to hold items in their hands. We have found that giving a baby a spoon makes meal time a whole lot more enjoyable for EVERYONE involved. However – we’ve realized that scooping watermelon, cantaloupe or macaroni and cheese up on a spoon isn’t the easiest thing to do … especially if you are 21-months old. These little plastic sporks (rounded fork) allow the babies to jab their food …yet are they are much easier to use than spoons. What's nice is that the fork isn’t too sharp that you’d need to worry about babies hurting themselves.

Or you.

Or a sibling.

Or the dog.

Disposable placemats. I’ve posted about these nifty things a few times in the past. Disposable placemats have transformed our dining out experience. You just peel back the plastic strips on either end of the placemat, stick to the table, and presto. When you're finished with your meal - wrap up the food and throw them away.

The ONE drawback is that everytime sometimes the kids will try to peel the placemat off (as William is expertly demonstrating in the photo to the left), so I will wrap the bottom of the placemat beneath the table. You could also use some duct tape to secure down the edges. 

Most restaurant tables are positively disgusting – even after you wipe them down – so these work really well to reduce the plethora of germs your kids would otherwise be exposed to when dining out. If your child isn't yet at an age where they understand the concept of keeping a bowl ON the table ... these are great. You can them up at Target, Walmart or your local grocer.

Snacktrap. 

Spork. 

Disposable Placemats. 

These items are a must-have in our diaper bag at any and all times when there are self-feeding infants and small toddlers in tow.

Also, a roll of duct tape - which is especially necessary if the restaurant doesn't have booster chairs or similar devices to keep your child stationed at the table.  

Oh, but I kid. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Do-It-Yourself! (Bath Night)

Tonight Charlie was busy constructing a lattice cube that we intend to put around our air conditioning unit. The reason he had undertaken this manly multiple-tool-involved task is because I am scared silly that one of our children will stick their curious little fingers – or object – in to said air conditioning unit and we will have a major injury on our hands.

Considering a large part of my "other" job involves analyzing situations and assessing the potential safety risks of what could go wrong ... babies and a steel air condition blade, positioned 30-inches above grade (i.e. at their eye level) and spinning at 4000 RPM - no surprise, raised a flag. A BIG HUGE FLAG.

It was prudent that this lattice structure be constructed as soon as possible since I 've been losing days off my life every time the babies step foot outside while the air conditioning is running. Couple that with the fact everyone is a sweaty mess whenever we turn the air conditioning off and the temperature in the house quickly climbs to 150 degrees.

Something had to be done. Quickly.

Because I didn't want to interrupt Charlie as he was completing this important task, I took it entirely upon myself to simultaneoulsy bathe the babies … by myself.

Now for all those other triplet mother’s out there that bathe all three of their babies simultaneously, by themselves … and are wondering “What’s the big deal?” … kudos to you. I am not one of “those” mother’s. Ever since we've started bathing all three babies at the same time (without their bath rings), bath time has evolved in to a two-person job around these parts.

But since there might be a handful of people out there who wonder how in the world to bathe 3 21-month old children by yourself … I have condensed the process in to 50-easy steps.

1) Get all the items that you will need before going in to the bathroom. Towel, diapers, clean pajamas, baby soap, baby lotion.

2) Chase all the babies in to the bathroom.

3) Close the door if you have a door. If not, put up a baby gate to keep everyone in one area.

4) Undress one baby at a time. Realize that you need to remember to add “baby wipes” to Step #1 … in the off chance that you have a poopy diaper that was not detected before Step #2.

5) While one partially clad baby and two siblings run around closing themselves in the closet … RUN to the nursery and grab baby wipes.

6) Remove the diaper of the first baby, wipe their little bum, deposit them in the bathtub.

7) Turn the water in the tub on at a slow trickle to keep the baby in the tub occupied.

8) Call out “Come here, come here, come here, come here, come here, come here” before finally chasing down and undressing baby #2.

9) Be glad that you have diaper wipes handy for a second poopy cleanup. (How did I not detect two poopy diapers?!?)

10) Remove the diaper of the second baby, wipe their little bum, deposit them in the bathtub.

11) Call out “Come here, come here, come here, come here, come here, come here” before finally chasing down and undressing baby #3.

12) Remove the diaper of the third baby, be happily surprised that there is no poop to clean up, and deposit them in the tub.

13) Lather up one baby at a time.

14) Recognize that the debris floating around the tub is not ravioli from dinner and most likely baby #3 has finally contributed their fare share of poop.

15) Groan loudly.

16) Drain the tub, entirely, while three soap-covered babies try to stand up and climb out of the tub.

17) Refill the tub with warm water.

18) Rinse off all three babies.

19) Remove the drain from the tub, so it slowly empties of water.

20) Take out the first baby from the tub, towel them off.

21) Give yourself an “attaboy” for knowing how to put a diaper on a baby … while they are standing up.

22) Set the first baby loose to run about the bathroom while you remove the second baby from the tub and towel them off.

23) Give yourself another “attaboy” for knowing how to put a diaper on a baby … while they are standing up.

24) Pluck the first baby off the rim of the tub before they climb back in to join the lone baby in the tub.

25) Set the second baby loose to run about the bathroom while you remove the third baby.

26) With one hand on the third soaking wet baby, pluck the first and second babies off the rim of the tub before they climb back in to the now vacant and devoid of water, tub.

27) Towel off the third baby.

28) Give yourself another “attaboy” for knowing how to put a diaper on a baby … while they are standing up.

29) Now that they are all diapered … set about getting the three babies in their pajamas.

30) Realize that pajamas with snaps along the legs are not a good choice. Slip on pants or a zipper would have been a better decision.

31) Take down the baby gate and chase two babies in to the nursery.

32) Realize that there should be three babies.

33) Go back to the bathroom looking for the third baby.

34) Find third baby hiding in the closet.

35) Go back to the nursery and find no babies.

36) Find other two babies hiding beneath kitchen table.

37) Eating raviolis that were still on the floor.

38) Covered in marinara sauce.

39) Pluck two babies up and deposit them in their cribs.

40) Chase down third baby, who is now sitting on the floor eating ravioli.

41) Covered in marinara sauce.

42) Wash the marinara sauce off all three babies hands and face.

43) Brush their hair.

44) Brush their teeth.

45) Read a bedtime story.

46) Say our evening prayers. Include an extra vigilant prayer that diapers put on while babies were standing up – were put on correctly and don’t spring a leak at 2 AM.

47) Give out hugs and kisses.

48) Say good night.

49) Go to refrigerator. Open beer.

50) Update blog so that the world is informed on the simplicity of bathing toddler triplets. On your own.

See, it's simple.

Any questions?

Monday, July 24, 2006

A Few Little Points to Ponder (II)

Just a few more little points to ponder...

I waited so long to be a mom.

I endured numerous surgeries, shots and days, weeks months of bedrest.

I carried three babies for 31 weeks.

I endured fainting, spontaneous nose bleeds, intense swelling, carpal tunnel, heart burn, PUPPPS, HELLP Syndrome, magnesium sulfate.

I visited my premature infants in the NICU every single day for 6 weeks.

I pumped breastmilk for them, every 2-3 hours, round the clock.

I woke up with them every 2-3 hours for the first 12 weeks that they were home.

I nursed all three of my blessed children from my breasts until my nipples BLED.

I endured clogged ducts, mastitis, and the worst pain imaginable to continue nursing.

There is no doubt about it. I love these children more than life itself.

I absolutely rejoice in seeing their little faces everyday and hearing their little voices.

But.

Now - more than ever ... I feel like I'm about to get washed out to sea whenever they wake up.

Why is it, that if I love these children more than life itself ... nothing makes me happier than when they are asleep?

How come?!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

APB: Dobby the House Elf

Last night, I went over to our friend's house to baby sit their 4-year old son and 16-month old daughter, while my girlfriend picked up her husband up at the airport. His flight arrived at 10:00 PM, so I showed up at 9:30, after the kids had already been put to bed.

As soon as I stepped foot in the house, I noticed something.

I noticed that their house was immaculate.

Everything was perfect.

Not a single item was out of place.

All of the kid's toys were neatly organized away - there was no clutter on the counters - no baskets of laundry yet to be folded or washed - and I heard the gentle hum of the dishwasher in the background. Just as my girlfriend was about to leave, she started up her little "Rosie Roomba" robotic vacuum cleaner ... which she informed me, would 'superficially' clean all of the floors ... all by itself, while she was gone.

How 'bout that?

She left, and I made myself comfortable on their couch while my eyes were scanning the family room.

I noticed that they had several floor lamps - not surrounded by immovable objects (mandatory at our house, unless we want the lamps to be pulled over on to wee bitty little heads), a few plants at ground level, and a coffee table. Had it not been for the Leap Frog Learning Table nestled in the corner (with an INTACT purple flip door ... our purple flip door lasted all of about 3 minutes once it was removed from the box before it snapped off), a stranger might not know that children live in this house.

Two and half hours later, my girlfriend and her husband returned from the airport.

My mind was aflutter with questions. The first being - "How in the WORLD do you keep your house so neat?!" She gazed around the room and replied "Oh, heavens. I actually need to clean this place. It's a mess!"

What th...?

She continued.

"Our daughter is such a messy eater. She throws food all over the place. Our son never did that. I've actually seen her pick food up and eat it OFF the floor. It's disgusting!"

I kept my mouth closed that I had seriously considered serving our children's food ON the floor, and saving myself a step during the nightly cleanup.

The rest of my questions seemed redundant (How do you keep your walls so clean?! How do you keep your floor so clean?!), suspecting that I already knew the answers, I said goodbye, and made my way home.

As soon as I stepped foot in the house, I noticed something.

I noticed that our house was a disaster.

Everything was scattered.

Not a single item was in place.

I walked in to the kitchen, looked around and realizing that I was too tired to do anything, went straight to bed. In the four seconds it took me to fall asleep, I was thinking that the state of our house is a really sad situation. Especially since we had two women at our house on Friday, that spent four hours cleaning.

That's right.

Four hours. Cleaning. Our house.

Two women.

Just the day before.

When I woke up this morning, I thought back to my girlfriend's tidy bungaloo and I was motivated to get our house super-clean, too. I was even more motivated to get my cleaning self in gear once I realized that we if by "we" I mean Charlie had forgotten to run the dishwasher the night before. I scrubbed the kitchen, organized the playroom, pulled down all of the items above our cupboards and dusted. When the kids went down for their nap, I moved the refrigerator out and cleaned behind it, too.

I was a super freak cleaning machine. It was almost as if I was hosting a triplet play date ... or something.

Then the kids woke up from their nap and I fed them lunch.

The next thing I know, there is apple sauce on the walls, macaroni and cheese stuck to the chairs, and random fruit being thrown about the kitchen.

From the depths of my mind ... I remembered a phrase I'd once heard. "Trying to clean the house while your children are growing ... is like trying to shovel the sidewalk, while it's still snowing." Even though I live in Southern California - where it never snows - I can appreciate that statement.

It's like a blizzard here. All day. Every day. White out conditions.

If you've ever ready Harry Potter, you are familiar with Dobby the house elf. He is a pint-sized little fellow that cooks and cleans and does everything that you don't want to do. He doesn't take up much space ... and right about now ... I'd give my Animal for him.

We don't need a nanny. We don't need a maid. We don't need a Roomba.

We need a house elf. If nothing else, I suspect he would have reminded me to turn on our dishwasher last night.

(edited to read: there are few things in our world more horrifying, than realizing first thing in the morning that we forgot to run the dishwasher the night before. There are no clean sippy cups. No clean bowls or spoons for the kids breakfast. All of these items have to be washed by hand, usually while the kids run around and chew on their arms.)

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Monkey on your back...

A few years ago, Charlie was hospitalized for what everyone thought was a ruptured disk in his back. Fortunately, it turned out to be a severe muscle strain which did not require surgery. Since that time ... he has religiously performed yoga and stretching exercises every morning.

The upside ... Charlie's back is stronger than it's ever been.

The downside ... I don't know how much longer Charlie's back will hold up with 80 pounds of children on it.

The backside ... something I caught a glimpse of when William slid off and trying mightily to stay on, grabbed Charlie's pajama bottoms. I was relieved to see that I'm not the only one afflicted by clothing mishaps.

These photos were taken at 8:30 this morning. Really, it's no wonder we're exhausted by noon.

It's also no wonder I write Odes to Charlie.

Friday, July 21, 2006

"I think they sense fear..."

... those were the first words out of Charlie's mouth this morning, once he'd had his cup of java and became aware of his surroundings.

Elizabeth woke up this morning at 6:15, which is very early by our standards considering we are use to sleeping in until at least 8:00 AM.

What a bunch of lazy sacks.

I brought Elizabeth in to bed, and while she proceeded to crawl all over the two of us... we tried, rather unsuccesfully, to continue sleeping. Why she couldn't sense our intense desire for sleep and just lie her cute little head down with us and close her eyes for another two hours few minutes, is completely beyond me. Rather than laying there peacefully as we were hoping, Elizabeth decided to summon her siblings.

That's right. She summoned them.

If one of our babies is awake and in a different part of the house - and the other two are still sleeping - the one that is awake will emit an ear piercing screech that sends our dog Molly in to a tizzy.

Without fail and usually within a matter of seconds - the other two are fully awake and respond in kind, with an ear piercing screech that sends Charlie and I in to a tizzy.

It's important to note that when the babies are all together in the nursery and one wakes up crying - very rarely does this disturbance have any effect on the other two that are still sleeping. But. If that child is removed from the nursery - the other two are keenly aware of their absence and thus ... the summoning begins.

One of the many things that we've noticed with multiples - is that they have this innate ability to communicate with their womb-mates.

If you've ever seen the movie "Jurassic Park" just picture the raptors, calling one another.

But instead of scaly dinosaurs screeching ... we've got pudgy toddlers.

If your eyes were closed, you'd think for sure you had only mere seconds to live. Raptors and our 21-month old triplets freakishly sound exactly the same.

Because I had a busy day at the office, Charlie was scheduled to be home - alone - with the kids. I could tell he was a little nervous, and rightly so. After having Mom & Jim with us for the past two weeks, we had become accustomed to having a one-to-one ratio with the babies.

Now, Charlie was on his own.

Here he was with a pot of coffee, a dog running around in circles... and three babies who knew that they had their Dad outnumbered.

I'm certain that within a day or two, we'll be back in the game and fully capable of running zone defense with our toddlers.

Funny. They really look harmless enough.

It Takes A Village

My Mom and Jim flew home to South Carolina early this morning.

Although I didn't cry saying good bye to Mom (which I always do), my lack of tears had a lot to do with the hour.

I wasn't completely awake at 4:45 AM ... and saying goodbye seemed like a dream.

After dropping them off at the airport, I drove home, crawled back in to bed and fell asleep for another two hours.

When I woke up again ... it dawned on me that Mom and Jim really were gone.

The house seemed eerily empty.

We brought the babies out of the nursery and they cruised through all of the rooms with their little hands turned up like they were looking for something.

Or someone.

I am from a large family. As the youngest of 7... with 40+ first cousins on my mother's side alone, I was always surrounded by family growing up.

They lived in the same house, same town, same state. At a minimum - our family lived in the same "region" of the country.

Charlie is also from a large family... albeit, not quite as large as my Irish Catholic cavalry.

When I moved to California to go to college, I left behind the majority of my family - who are scattered from Massachusetts to South Carolina.

When Charlie and I were married and moved to Southern California for graduate school, we left behind the majority of his family - who are in Northern California, an 8-hour drive away.

Our time in Southern California was intended to be "temporary".

Once we graduated with our masters ... we would make a move to be closer to family, again.

That was 12 years ago.

Along the way we bought a house ... started our careers ... made friends ... put down roots.

It's always been in the back of our minds that we would like to be closer to family, because we vaguely remember the sensation and security of having relatives nearby.

Whenever we are near family - we are reminded how nice it would be to live close to them. And then time goes by ... and we slowly forget.

Since our babies have come in to our lives - our world has changed a lot. We are in a routine. There is a rhythm to what we do. We don't get out as much as we once did and we are somewhat isolated from the outside world.

But after spending two weeks with my Mom and Jim, we had a taste of what it might be like to live close to family ... what it might be like to be part of a "Village."

Some of the things that we experienced during these past two week include:

Taking down all of the baby gates.

Babies wearing training pants (that'll be a separate post!).

Bright red polish on baby toenails.

Water dripping from the hose for hours on end, every day.

Water on the slide for fast rides.

Drinking ice-cold lemonade from "big" cups.

Enjoying ice cream cones every afternoon.

Rides on the merry-go-round and toy train.

Splashing at Dolphin Beach.

Seeing the love in Mom & Jim's eyes, and hearing their laughter.

Every. Single. Day.

Some of the things that Mom and Jim experienced during the past two weeks include:

Being awoken by a herd of 21-month olds storming in to their bedroom.

Witnessing the demolition of a nursery in less than five minutes.

Seeing spots after riding on the merry-go-round.

Having their eyes, nose and ears constantly poked by thirty curious fingers.

Repeating ~ or hearing ~ at least 100 times a day "No biting. Be gentle!"

Prying eyeglasses and sunglasses out of six chubby hands.

Instant destruction of the daily newspaper whenever left in the wrong spot.

Prying remote controls and telephones out of six chubby hands.

Sharing each item of food and beverage with three little children that insist on touching everything BEFORE consuming.

Waking up to a house full of baby babble and laughter.

Every. Single. Day.

Now that Mom and Jim are gone ... Charlie and I once again, have the full responsibility of taking care of three babies all by ourselves.

Two weeks ago, we had forgotten what it was like to be close to family ... what it felt like to be part of a "Village." Now, we've been reminded.

After having a taste of what living near family would be like, suddenly, being the parents of toddler triplets seems like a daunting task.

After a mere three hours of them flying home, we all miss Mom and Jim.

That's when the tears started.

That's also when we put all the baby gates back up.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

an amazing trip trick: podee feeding system

One of the most staggering dilemmas in raising infant multiples, is how in the world to feed all three at once???

In the early days, I would nurse, then pump, then feed one of the babies with expressed milk in a bottle - while nursing the other two. This worked pretty well ... but, I found that I was constantly on the couch with a baby (or two) attached to me. Slowly, I began feeding the babies with bottles during the day, and nursing them in the evening and early morning. Once I made the transition to feeding all three of them with a bottle, I struggled with how to get all three of them fed at once.

Enter ... Podee Bottle.

(Imagine the clouds parting and a ray of sun shining on my weary face).

Podee Anatomy: The Podee is comprised of two tubes, separated by a disk, that are attached to a nipple and screwed on to a bottle. When a baby sucks on the nipple, milk goes up the tubing and in to their mouth. This allows for completely hands-free feeding, which is especially helpful when you have more babies than you do hands. And ... they are all hungry!

Podee Dynamics: I've heard some people say "I tried the Podee and it didn't work."

I always respond "Huh?"

So long as your baby has mastered the suck, swallow, breathe reflex (for our babies that wasn't well developed until they were a couple months old), a baby can use the Podee. People will say that they see the milk going "back down the tube" and assume it doesn't work. Here's my best attempt at explaining fluid mechanics:

There has to be a constant vacuum on the nipple to keep the tube entirely filled with milk. The fact is, babies aren't always sucking. They are swallowing and breathing. So, during those times when they swallow & breathe, the milk appears to be going back down the tube. When they do suck, they fill up the "reservoir" of the nipple - so there is always milk for them to swallow, when they suck again. If you ever wonder if they are really getting anything, just keep your eye on the volume, and you'll notice it's going down. If the volume isn't going down, there could be a problem with the nipple***. Read on ...

Other Podee Tips: You don't need to buy the "Podee" bottles. All you really need are the disks (or discs) that screw in to the collars - the straws (the short one that goes in the bottle, and the long one that goes to the nipple) and the disks (there are 2 disks per "feeding system" ... on screws on to the nipple part, and holds the long hose to the nipple - the other screws on to the bottle part - connecting the long hose to the short hose).

The cheapest route to go here - is to buy regular Gerber (Playtex) Bottles (9 oz) and just use the collars with the Podee disks and tubes. You'll need 2 collars PER bottle, though - so what I did is purchase the collars separately (directly from Podee). ***We used the hospital issued nipples rather than the Podee nipples. We found that these worked better. You just have to be sure they have a completely flat bottom (no ridges) to keep a good seal with the disk.

The Podees took some time to clean, but like everything else, we had a system in place. I had about 30 Podees. I used 12 Podees a day (3 bottles x 4 feedings a day) so I did not have to wash bottles every single day. The tubings were rinsed after each feeding (to remove gross contamination) and stockpiled in a cup. I would then clean all of the dirty tubes once every 2 or 3 days and reassemble the tubes, disks, and nipples, so I could just grab a Podee, attach it to a bottle and GO! GO! GO!

Podee Summary: This single invention simplified our life with infant triplets - more than I could have ever possibly imagined. Not only could we feed all three babies at once (which became increasingly important the older they became and would not tolerate waiting to be fed), I could prepare the rest of their meal while they had their bottle, and because they were fed while sitting upright, they had less incidence of gas and spit-up. Additionally, I could clip their nails while they'd eat, and I could easily feed the babies at home OR while on the go. 


Oh, Podee Bottle. How I love thee!