Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The good, the bad and ... the ugly

I think I'll start in reverse order because I never like leaving on an ugly note.

Charlie was up and out before 7 AM this morning, while I was completely unaware that he had left and snored through his departure blissfully slept in. I woke up, took a quick shower and got the children dressed.

It was the kind of morning that gave me the feeling that this was going to be a gorgeous day. We had a lovely breakfast. Homemade waffles, fresh fruit, yogurt. I put on everyone's shoes and took them outside to the garage and loaded them in their stroller for a quick walk around the block. I went to feed Molly and as I walked up to her dog food, I stopped in my tracks.

THERE WAS A HUGE RAT STUCK IN THE RAT TRAP CHARLIE HAD SET UP TWO DAYS EARLIER AND THERE WAS BLOOD EVERYWHERE.

The good news: the rat was dead and it looked like a quick death.

The bad news: there was blood everywhere and Charlie wasn't home. I screamed for him, but he was apparently out of ear shot ... nor were there any people in our neighborhood available to come over and assist. Trust me. I ran out in the driveway and did a quick scan - looking for someone - ANYONE.

Last year, about this same time, we had a rat visitor in our garage. I was a new mom and I imagined that this rat might be a mom, too. So, I was totally opposed to killing it, even though it left poop on our garage shelves and was making a mess. But when the rat destroyed Charlie's $400.00 ski boots with custom orthotic inserts - our war cry became "Kill the bastard!"

After two weeks and an increasingly disgusting smell, Charlie deduced that we'd killed ourselves a rat. He pulled out our garage shelves and found the corpse. Being the manly man that he is - he threw it out and didn't complain. We wrongly assumed that this was the total end of vermin in our garage. When poop started showing up on the shelves around the dog food last week, I knew we had another visitor. Rather than wait to see what this new rat was going to destroy - Charlie set traps on Sunday night.

I don't know how to even ... um ... "write" the noise that I made upon seeing the HUGE DEAD RAT stuck in the trap this morning. For a whole 10 minutes, while my beautiful children were strapped safely in their stroller ... I stood in front of the HUGE DEAD RAT and freaked out. The trap had snapped so hard it flipped over and the big pool of blood beneath it's head was only partially coagulated.

I. COLD. HARD. FREAKED. OUT.

I wondered how in the world I was going to get the HUGE DEAD RAT off of our shelves and in to the trash, without touching it - or feeling it, in ANY way. All the while, running through my mind was "Doesn't it figure TODAY was Charlie's day to work?! I ALWAYS work on Tuesdays. Damn him for making me switch ... I bet he KNEW this was going to happen. Loading the rat trap with beef jerky and peanut butter. Of course any rat would be tempted by that kind of goodness..."

It was an ugly sight - and it was an ugly noise that I was making trying to figure out how to dispose of the bloody mess. But the children thought it was hysterical seeing me walk around in circles, smack my head and shout "ARGHHHH!!!!! Gag! Gag! Gag! ARGHHHHH!!!!!!" They sat in their stroller doubled over in laughter - while I did everything I could to hang on to my fresh fruit and waffles. And yogurt.

Ten minutes. It took me 10 minutes to figure out that my best option was to put on a pair of rubber gloves, with work gloves over those - and use a plastic bag. I picked up the end of the trap (without a snapped head) and after trying, unsuccessfully, to flip the 12-inch long tail in to the bag ... decided that I'd just tip toe to the trash and throw the whole thing out.

As I gingerly walked outside - looking all the while down at the HUGE DEAD RAT in my hand - I walked squarely in to a HUGE spider web.

Charlie and I are always amazed by the gargantuan Golden Orb spiders that inhabit southern California in the late summer and early fall. Usually by July, we can see the little itty bitty Golden Orb spiders spinning their webs. By August and September, they have fattened up so that their bodies are about the size of a prune, or - small nectarine.

Better stated - they are ^&*#^*&#$@ huge.

It often happens that these spiders will spin their webs directly outside of our door - so we always have to exercise extreme caution at this time of the year when we go out.

Usually, we do exercise extreme caution. But there wasn't a whole lot of caution being exercised this morning when I stepped outside with a hand full of HUGE DEAD RAT and directly in to the perfectly symmetric web of the Golden Orb spider. I could feel the web around my head, my shoulders, my arms and hands. I could have absolutely sworn I felt the 3-pound Golden Orb spider climb down the inside of my shirt.

I'm really surprised the police didn't show up. Had anyone heard me (and I really wonder how they didn't???) - I think they would have surely thought I was being butchered.

Thank God in heaven - the rat remained in the trap and didn't fall when I screeched and jumped two feet off the ground once I realized that I very well could be the next victim of the Golden Orb. I'm equally thankful that after flinging the rat in the trash can - and running frantically around the yard batting my head, shoulders and arms furiously for another 10 minutes ... there was no sign of a monstrous spider on my body.

The children were laughing so hard they couldn't breathe. I think I might have seen somebody turn blue, but who really knows. All of my attention was focused on getting "nature" off of me. Sorry kids, you're choking? I'll get there in a minute. Or two.

The moral of this story is that I could never live on a farm. Never. Ever.

So, we go for our walk. We come home, I unload one, two, three children from the stroller who all instantly run inside the house. I close the garage door and walk inside - where I instantly realize that I forgot to close the door for our hallway bathroom.

I hear splashing.

Looking around the door, I see all three of my beautiful children with their hands in the toilet up to their elbows ... splashing. And then ... they pick their beautiful little hands up and stuff the entire things in their mouth.

ALL THIRTY FINGERS. IN. THEIR. MOUTHS. SOAKED. WITH. TOILET. WATER.

They look at me and excitedly say "Yummmm!!!!"

For the second time, in less than 30 minutes, I wonder why the police don't show up on my doorstep.

Can not one single person in this neighborhood hear my screams?!?

My gorgeous morning had been transformed to the ninth circle of hell.

Full body scouring. Playtime. Lunch. Naps. Shopping at Walmart for diapers that I wasn't able to purchase at Target on Sunday because of the spontaneous simultaneous combustion of three toddlers on Aisle Five. I finish my shopping and make all of my purchases - despite the fact that two of my three have again - spontaneously combusted during our "outing".

Lugging a shopping cart loaded with stuff AND pulling my triplet stroller. Through Walmart.
While doing my best to smile at people and ignore the full-blown temper tantrums and Teddy Grahams being launched in every which direction.

I honestly considered starting cocktail hour at 3 PM today.

Tonight, I finished the four packages I'll be mailing to South Africa, tomorrow. (Actually, I'm sending them to an address in California, where they'll be brought back to South Africa. Ah, details.)

In each package is a knitted blanket, a footed terry sleeper, two onesies, two booties, a tube of diaper rash cream, a rattle, a bag of hard candies for mom - and a toiletry bag for mom that includes body wash, moisturizer, facial soap and lip gloss.

I'm seriously contemplating including a super sized bottle of Excedrin and whiskey in my care packages - should these poor South African mother's ever experience a day like I experienced ... today.

Weekend Recap @ 22 months

Happiness is:

Taking a half day on Friday so we can all go to SeaWorld, for the first time.


Seeing Shamu jump out of the water, for the first time.



Eating popcorn, for the first time.


Figuring out that shoelaces work great as dental floss - after eating popcorn - for the first time.


Saturday morning cartoons while sipping orange juice, in the big bed.


A 2-year old triplet friends birthday party on a Saturday afternoon. (As an FYI - there were 4 sets of 20-24 month old triplets at that table ... all sitting perfectly still and eating. I never would have believed it if I hadn't witnessed it with my own two eyes.)


Playing with a balloon, for the first time.


Jumping in a ball pit, for the first time.


Sitting in a jacuzzi, for the first time. (Sorry - mom didn't bring her camera to the pool. Too bad, this was a really cute scene.)

Picnics on a lazy Sunday beneath a shady tree.


Running through a fountain at our local park, for the first time.


Kicking a ball with dad, for the umpteenth time.


Drawing with sidewalk chalk, for the first time.


These are the best days of our lives and I don't want the joy and excitement over experiencing simple things for the first time - to ever end.

But, the full-out-temper-tantrums with arched backs and legs kicking when we left SeaWorld. And the birthday party. And the pool. And the park. And while in the middle of Target with two things crossed off my list and twelve more critical items to go ... I'm ready for those to end. Infact, it would be nice if they ended tomorrow - because I am in dire need of diapers.

Friday, August 25, 2006

100 Tips for my Amazing Trips

As my 100th blog posting loomed ever nearer … I’ve been in a quandary regarding what I should write about to commemorate the occasion. I could follow suit of many other bloggers before me, and write 100 tidbits of fascinating information about myself. But if you've read my profile or taken the time to read any of my previous 99 blog postings, you have a good idea of who I am. I don't have much more "fascinating" information beyond that ... and if I do - I have to hang on to it for future blogging material.

So after contemplating this milestone for the past few days, I’ve decided to capture 100 of the best tips for living a happy life that I’ve heard, read, or realized myself.

I am drawing (or in some cases, directly quoting) from the works of many great masters ... so upfront, I must give credit to Max Ehrmann (Desiderata); H. Jackson Brown (Life’s Little Instruction Book); Richard Carlson (Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff); Don Miguel Ruiz (The Four Agreements), and of course - the Bible. These are just a few of the resources I have tapped in to and try (big emphasis on the word TRY) to live by … in my quest for having a happy and rich life.

As our children grow older and move out in to the world, these are just some of the tips that I hope they will learn from us – and which I hope they will always keep in their mind and heart.

********** ************** **********


1. Your body is a temple. Take good care of it.

2. Do unto others, as you would want them to do unto you.

3. Be kind. Be gentle. Be compassionate.

4. Be courageous and confident.

5. Be honest. Your reputation is your most valuable asset.

6. Take pride in who you are and in your appearance.

7. Stand up for what you believe in.

8. Help to defend those who cannot defend themselves.

9. Always do your best.

10. Avoid loud and aggressive people. But do not tolerate bullies. If you are ever in a fight – hit first and hit hard.

11. Laugh often. A good sense of humor can cure almost all of life’s ills.

12. Do not do drugs and don't associate with those who do.

13. Learn from your mistakes, everyone makes them.

14. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

15. Show respect for all living things, including this planet on which we live.

16. Conserve energy and recycle.

17. Remember and contribute to those less fortunate than yourself.

18. Honor fallen soldiers on Memorial Day and always remember that they gave their lives so we could live free.

19. Relationships can be difficult. Just because your heart has been broken, doesn’t mean it can’t love again.

20. A book can heal your soul. Have a good collection of books and fill your soul, frequently.

21. Music can heal your soul, too. Have a good collection of music and fill your soul, frequently.

22. Keep a journal. Life moves fast and writing down your thoughts, feelings and experiences can be incredibly grounding.

23. Be extremely mindful of what you say or write – some words cannot be retrieved.

24. It's okay to go to bed angry. Sometimes a good night's sleep is the best cure.

25. Communicate clearly and try not to carry a grudge.

26. Sometimes being a friend means just ‘being’ there. Words aren’t always necessary and silence can be golden.

27. If you know you’re wrong … admit it.

28. Don’t allow yourself to be dragged down by someone else’s cynicism.

29. As much as possible, avoid vulgarity. Keep a “Curse Cup” available for when you can’t and donate the proceeds to charity.

30. Choose your friends very carefully.

31. Stay connected to those you love.

32. Look for the good in people.

33. Always back the Boston Red Sox.

34. Support the underdog. (Unless they are playing the Red Sox).

35. Don’t gossip.

36. Choose your life’s mate very carefully. From this one decision will come 90% of your happiness or misery.

37. Marry only for love.

38. Listen to others and to children.

39. Do not compare yourself. There will always be greater and lesser persons than you.

40. Enjoy good food and wine – but always in moderation.

41. Never underestimate your ability. You can do anything you put your mind to.

42. Set goals for yourself.

43. When things seem out of control, just remember – “This too shall pass.” (It has been my mantra for the first two years of your life.)

44. Use your time wisely and be efficient.

45. Don’t procrastinate. If something needs to be done, do it.

46. Finish what you start.

47. “Have patience” is a lot easier said than done. Practice your patience and always keep your temper in check.

48. Save at least 15% of your income.

49. Live within your means.

50. Everyone has greatness within his or her soul. Find your passion.


51. Always remember - tomorrow is a brand new day.

52. Trust your instinct. If something feels wrong – it probably is. Someone once told me “A gut feeling is God whispering in your ear.”

53. Realize that there are always two sides to every story.

54. Everyday, spend some time to stretch.

55. Enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables, daily.

56. Find a way to express yourself artistically.

57. Avoid soft drinks and consume lots of water instead. A vast majority of the population is chronically dehydrated.

58. Brush your teeth and floss daily. See the dentist for a professional cleaning at least once every six months.

59. Don’t allow clutter to overtake your life. Donate your discards to charity.

60. Remember other people’s birthdays. Especially your siblings!

61. Be prompt to write thank you notes.

62. Depression is real. When you consistently feel down, do something to lift yourself back up. Talk with friends and family, go to church, exercise … if necessary, see a doctor.

63. Live in the NOW and don’t let the past – or future - haunt you.

64. Don’t be a complainer. If something is wrong, fix it. If you can’t fix it – move on.

65. Realize that the only person you can control is yourself.

66. Get a good night’s rest.

67. Before making a big decision, learn all the facts … and then sleep on it.

68. Frequently take inventory of your priorities and make sure that they are aligned appropriately. No one ever said on their death bed “I wish I’d spent more time at the office.”

69. Make your bed in the morning and never go to sleep with dirty dishes in the sink.

70. Take vacations and spend quality time with those you love.

71. Take a lot of photographs and consider using the date stamp. You might quickly forget when things happened.

72. Take videos of your loved ones. Capture their movements, laughter and voice on tape.

73. Study hard. A good education is important for success and is something no one can ever take away from you.

74. Don’t ignore your body. If you don’t feel “right” see a doctor.

75. Remember that you only come this way once. Try to live each day to the fullest.

76. You, and you alone, are in charge of your attitude.

77. Don’t be afraid to question authority.

78. Be humble. A lot was accomplished before you were born.

79. Find the beauty in nature, every day.

80. Nothing will make you appreciate the amenities of home like a camping trip.

81. Sometimes a new haircut and outfit can make all the difference in the world.

82. Carry a cell phone.

83. Have a firm handshake and look people in the eye when you talk to them.

84. Learn CPR and basic first aid.

85. Learn how to cook at least three good meals.

86. As much as possible - sit together with your family at meal times and always give thanks.

87. Honor traditions.

88. Have respect for cultures and lifestyles different from your own.

89. Find a sport that you enjoy and stick with it. (Except skydiving, swimming with sharks, bungee jumping – or any other activity that will keep me, your mother, awake at night.)

90. Become part of a community.

91. Volunteer some of your free time to a good cause.

92. Remember that God’s Fingerprints are on everything.

93. Have faith. Whether or not it is clear to you now, no doubt the Universe is unfolding as it should.

94. Be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be – and in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

95. Think before you act and stay safe.

96. Always drive safely and wear a seatbelt. Never be a passenger in someone's vehicle that drives recklessly. Do not be afraid to make them stop the car so you can get out.

97. Play, sing, dance and laugh … every day.

98. You can always count on your dad and I. If you are in a situation where you need help, please do not be afraid to reach out to us. Regardless of the day or hour - we will be there, or will do whatever we can to help you.

99. Know this. You are my greatest miracle. I have waited my whole life for you and until the moment I first held you in my arms, there was a void in my heart. More than the sun and the moon, the earth and the stars … my love for you is endless.

100. You were brought in to this world with your siblings. Stick together, support and always love one another.

Can you feel the love?

Within the past month, our kids babies have started to display affection towards one another and towards us. Of course, they're also smacking and biting each other more than ever ... but every so often, we get a glimpse of a hug - or a kiss - and it melts our heart.

As for me, I particularly love the huge hugs that I get when I pick them up, and they wrap their little arms tightly around my neck and rest their head on my shoulder.

Ah, my babies.

These are the very moments I've waited my whole life to experience.

(Yes. They're still babies to me.)

It's nice to see these acts of compassion, although sometimes the compassion is on the heels of victimization.

As a purely hypothetical example (which very well might have occurred at least twenty-two times, today): William is playing with a new toy truck ... Gracie sees new toy truck, wants new toy truck, takes new toy truck. William cries. Gracie, with new toy truck in her grasp, runs off and retrieves William's blankie, which she then hands to William, gives William a kiss on the head ... and then sits and happily plays with new toy truck. While William continues to mourn the loss of the new toy truck.

Suck it up, buddy. You've got your blankie, right?!

William recovers. William spots Mom's cell phone that is sitting precariously on the counter. William maneuvers cell phone off the counter and smiles happily at his prize. Elizabeth sees William with cell phone, takes cell phone away from William, sending William in to a fit of crying. Elizabeth with cell phone in her grasp, runs off and retrieves William's blankie, which she then hands to William, gives William a kiss on the head ... and then sits and happily plays with Mom's cell phone. All the while William continues to mourn the loss of Mom's cell phone.

Life can be tough for William with two younger sisters that insist on tormenting him. It's just that William always has his eyes scanning the horizon for things to play with. Unfortunately, his sisters appear to be incapable of finding fun stuff to play with for themselves ... and thus they lie in wait to take away whatever he finds.

And so it goes.

There are few things cuter than seeing our children give one another a kiss ... a hug ... or greet us when we come home from work with a peck on the cheek. Affection is finally being shown to one another, and reciprocated to us.

It certainly beats the alternative.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Story Time

I think that our 22-month old toddlers love of books is pretty awesome ... to the point that I'm willing to share my *secret* with the world for getting our babies hooked on books. Or, I'll at least share my *secret* with everyone who visits Shannon for all of the great advice that is dished out each and every Wednesday.

If you want the condensed version of this post: Read to your child every day, make it a habit. Surround yourself with books. Every night, put your child to bed with a book that they can flip through as they go to sleep. Rotate those books frequently. But most importantly ... read to your child every day. (Did I say that already?)

If you want the unabridged version of this post: Read on. My recommendations for 'must-have' children's books are summarized with hyperlinks to Amazon.com for your expedited shopping convenience. It works for me!!

***************

There is no doubt that our children's favorite toy is a book. Rivaled only by our cutlery set. And our computer. And our telephone. Any type of fragile glassware. Any kind of electronics. Any kind of power tools. Any type of trash can - the dirtier, the better.

Let me rephrase that.

There is no doubt that my favorite toy for our children, is a book. Although it really helps that they enjoy books, too. This makes sense, considering my favorite toy as a child ... was a book. Growing up - I was surrounded by books and was blessed with a mother who always read to me. In sixth grade, even though I was a grade level behind in mathematics ... I was six grade levels ahead in reading.

Before we even had children - we had books for children. Some of these books are remnants from when I was a kid. Some, I've picked up along the way. I pride myself on an almost complete collection of Dr. Seuss. I also have a fine assortment of hard back books that I will indulge our children with as they grow older.

Including but not limited to our collection are the children classics: Where the Sidewalk Ends, Where the Wild Things Are, The Giving Tree, You're All My Favorites (this is a must have book for any one with triplets), and the mandatory tear-jerker Love You Forever. I doubt I will ever be capable of reading Love You Forever, without sobbing uncontrollably. No matter how many times I read this book - it always has the exact same effect and I am 1/2 a Kleenex box down.

As our kids grow older, they will have the complete collection of Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary at their fingertips. They will also have the entire collection of Michael Crichton, John Grisham, Anna Quindlen, Tom Clancy, J.K Rowling, and Lance Armstrong. Not to mention a whole lotta books by Nicholas Sparks, Mark Twain, Anita Diamant, William Shakespeare, Simon Singh, James Redfield, John Horner and Rick Warren.

Suspense. Sports. Physics. Religion. Romance. Fiction. Economics. Paleontology. Politics. We're ecclectic that way.

The point is, our house is FILLED to the brink with books and every kind imaginable. Every single room in our home has a bookshelf - and most of those bookshelves are spilling their guts. But does that stop me from going on Amazon and buying more, more and yet more ... HECK NO!

I think it's safe to say that one of our goals as parents is to not only raise the most tolerant, responsible, compassionate human beings we are capable of ... but to also teach them a love of reading. A love of literature. A love of books.

I love books, especially good ones. My sincerest apologies to Morris, Abbott and Haderlie, but I just couldn't get past the first chapter of "Intertidal Invertebrates of California." Although, I will admit - the pictures were nice. That's why I always try to include photographs with my blog postings. Even though people in cyberspace may think my writing stinks ... at least they'll have pictures of adorable children to see.

I began reading to our babies within days of their birth. For the six weeks that they spent in the Neonative Intensive Care Unit, during each of my visits, I would bring along a book that I would read to them. Sometimes, I'd just read aloud the insert that came with my pain relief prescription. But I was always reading. Or snoring. Sometimes both - simultaneously.

Once the babies came home from the hospital, I'd line them up in front of me in their bouncy chairs and I'd spend hours minutes, every day, reading to them. Even though our children were in the "larval" stage and did little more than poop and sleep, story time was as much a part of our daily ritual - as eating.

It still is.

Usually our choice of books are brightly colored and vibrant stories that contain animals. To accompany my reading, I have a menagerie of stuffed creatures that make noises when squeezed. If the story contains a duck - I have a duck that goes "quack!" If the story contains a frog, lion, cow, tiger, dog, bear, pig, leopard, cat or panther ... I have stuffed animals that will "ribbit, ROAR!, moo, ROAR!, woof, ROAR!, oink, ROAR!, meow and ROAR!"

I never realized how many animals roared until I wrote that sentence.

By about three months of age, the babies eyes would fixate on me whenever I would read to them. It got to the point that all I'd have to say is "Brown Bear, Brown Bear ... what do you see?" and I'd have their rapt attention. They knew what I was saying and I quickly recognized that my babies were brilliant. For those who have inquired how I get all three of our children to look at the camera when their picture is being taken ... that's my secret. I just recite a passage from a book that they enjoy.

There is one particular book that is like crack cocaine for our kids. From what I know, crack cocaine is one of the most grossly intoxicating and addictive drugs known to man. Similarly, this one particular book is both intoxicating and addictive - which is why I only bring it out when my world is collapsing around me. (Probably a bad metaphor - but bear with me...)

I first started reading What A Wonderful World when the babies were 8-months old. This book is illustrated to the classic song (made famous by Louis Armstrong) and rather than read to them, I would sing to them. It is because of my children's overwhelming excitement each time I break in to song, that I am seriously contemplating auditioning for the next American Idol. Really.

Whenever our children see this book - they go absolutely crazy. They laugh, they scream, they clap their hands, they run around the room, they (try) jumping up and down. When I read sing it to them, they gaze off in to space and go limp.

Unfortunately for them, this book is comprised of paper pages and I realized that leaving it in their possession for any length of time means that pages will be ripped, torn out and instantly digested. When I put this book back after story time, I have witnessed temper tantrums and tears like I've never (ever) seen before. The only thing that comes close to the desperation displayed by my children ... are the poor souls who are going through drug intervention and withdrawl week on the Discovery Channel.

Which is WHY I draw the analogy between this simple book and crack cocaine. There is no better weapon I have in this house to mellow out over-stimulated, exhausted toddlers ... than this book.

Everyday, I make it a point to read to our children. With time, I have surrendered to the fact that our their books are going to be ripped to shreds. The pages of what I once thought to be indestructible board books disintegrate before my eyes like cardboard soaked in water. Because, these books are made of cardboard ... and they are soaked in saliva. Every day.

It doesn't matter. Books are replaceable and the fact that our babies literally devour them - brings more joy to me than I could ever possibly express. They have full access to all baby books, with the exception of What A Wonderful World. I'd be replacing that book weekly - if not daily - if I let my little junkies get a hold of it.

One of the BEST shower gifts I received when pregnant, was a box full of "must-have" books for babies. Some of the books that were included in that gift box are our favorite books, today. Paper page books aside, this is a partial rundown of our favorite board books (from birth to 22-months old):

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?

Goodnight Gorilla

Dear Zoo

Any of the Bright Baby books

Where's Spot?

Smile!

Any of the Roger Priddy and Priddy and Bicknell books

Pat The Bunny

Where's Baby's Belly Button?

Baby Signs (First Signs, Mealtime and Bathtime)

Baby ABC (sung to the alphabet theme song)

Any of the Touch & Feel books

Peekaboo Kisses

Additionally, my talented sister-in-law Kathy, who created Bath Aprons for us ... also made books for each of the kids.

She printed out pictures on 8.5 x 11 paper, added captions like "This is my sister / brother", "This is my Mommy", "This is my Daddy"... had the pages laminated - folded them in half and then sewed the crease with heavy duty string (dental floss?).

Our kids positively love flipping through these homemade books and looking at photos of people within their life.

What I positively love is that these books are extremely durable and show no sign of wear.

Every night when we tuck our kids in to bed, we leave with them a few books for their perusing leisure. I think this ritual of bedtime reading is in large part why our kids enjoy going to bed at night. They know that they'll have in their possession - coveted books that they would never have the opportunity to thoroughly enjoy ... uninterrupted ... during the day. Similarly, each night when Charlie and I retire to bed ... we bring along whatever book we happen to be reading.

Regardless of the age, there is something so gratifying about dozing off to sleep - with a good book in hand.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Another update ... of sorts

Just a quick re-cap on some happenings around here.

We went back to church again, last weekend. We even participated in the barbeque, following the service. The key to our success was extremely simple. Complete and utter containment of the children. They remained in their Peg triplette stroller ... Charlie and I ate food that other people cooked for us, mingled, ate some more, and then didn't have to lift a finger to clean our own kitchen that night. It was heavenly ... both literally and figuratively. We really enjoy this church and plan to go again, soon. The only challenge that remains is getting our kids to embrace the nursery. They ain't so nuts about being left behind.

My neck has healed, but not without a bit of discomfort lots of complaining for several days. The only thing that offered any pain relief was ice cream. Specifically, Ben & Jerry's peanut butter cup. With all of those extra 'healing' calories, I suspect the next time I attempt to roll this body over my neck, I'll completely crush myself.

The advice offered to put our kids pajamas on backwards was brilliant. The only glitch is when you have to change a diaper at 11 PM without waking up a sleeping child. It's tricky when you need to flip the child over on their tummy to unbutton them ... flip them back over to put on the diaper ... and then flip them on their tummy again, to button them up. However, my minor inconvenience was definitely worth it when you consider the alternative of three toddlers undressing themselves and fingerpainting with whatever *supplies* they had available.

As of this week, we're down to one nap. Typically, I've been holding the kids up until lunch, and then putting them down by 12:30'ish. They usually nap until about 2:30 or 3:00. However. If I notice that during the morning, they are crabby, I'll put them down at 10 or 10:30 ... and then give them some quiet "crib time" at 3:30 or 4:00. Even with this later afternoon "quiet time", the kids are still going to bed between 7 and 7:30, most nights ... and they don't wake up until 8:00 or 8:30, the following morning. Which means, I don't wake up until 8:00 or 8:30 most mornings, either.

I've knitted four blankets and am starting on my fifth. A couple months ago, I was able to round up some fellow triplet mom's to join me in a stitch & bitch fest.

We had a great time.

Unfortunately, since then - everyone's been busy with vacation, sick kids, traveling spouses ... and life. I hope to coordinate another knitting fest soon ... but regardless - I will be shipping off my first box of blankets, clothing, and miscellaneous baby supplies to South Africa in early September.

Thankfully, I feel somewhat humanitarian knitting blankets. In the picture of the blankets, you might notice a white box. That is from the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society, an organization I support wholeheartedly. However. They called me during an exceptionally hectic time (kids biting one another, kids climbing and falling off the the table, Molly crapping in the back yard - which took all my attention because I need to know where to go clean up) and asked if I wouldn't be a neighborhood volunteer for their fund raising effort. When I told them "send me information" I didn't expect that they'd send me 25 envelopes to mail to all of my neighbors asking for money. I don't mind being solicited, per se. I'd just prefer not to do it myself. Even if it is for a good cause.

Now for my question: Would it be too awful if I skipped the solicitation of my neighbors and just mailed them a check for all the money I think I'd get ($10.00) ... plus the $50.00 I'd kick in??

The new bunnie squeakles is making headway. Very slowly and cautiously, I've seen Elizabeth pick him up and give him a "squeak! squeak!" He certainly isn't interchangable with "bunny", yet ... but Rome wasn't created in a day. Appropriate analogy for a stuffed animal, huh?

All I know is that this child loves bunnies. In any form or fashion (note headband in first photo, above).

After some considerable thought - and one of our contractors asking if we were crazy when he came over to give us a bid during mealtime and got stuck in the crossfire of a toddler triplet feeding frenzy - we've decided to hold off on any interior upgrades. We are contemplating painting the outside of the house and sprucing up our back yard, but that'll be it. For now.

I have placed not one ... not two ... but three phone calls to Estate Lawyers. My goal is that by the end of the month (I'd prefer not going to commit expand on which month), I will have our "details" squared away. It's been four months since I first posted about this - but since my lag factor is 6 months to facilitate sleeping in until 8:30 every morning I'm way ahead of schedule.

If only I could apply that same logic to laundry...

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The family table

If I could go back to the time when I was expecting ... and those exciting days of registering for "critical" baby equipment ... there is so much I would tell myself.

For starters, I would say "Don't get the $200.00 Italian infant carrier/carseats that our kids will outgrow in less than 9-months and we will use no more than ten times." Yes, infant carriers are convenient ... but $600.00 invested wisely could grow to $5,500.00 in 18-years. Especially if that money is invested in Proctor & Gamble (Pampers, of course).

I'd give myself the same advice about skipping the $190.00 Italian highchair. "You'll need three of those, and $570.00 would go a lot further in a college fund, then for a highchair the kids will outgrow in less than a year."

Let me just think about that for a moment.

Rather than purchase highchairs and infant carriers - invest that money in the stock market. In 18-years ... we could, theoretically - have $10,000.00. That's a lot more than the $120.00 I was able to "negotiate" from selling our three carseats. And, the amount I'll recover from selling our highchairs ... which are still in the garage. I'm not an economist, but I'd have to say $240.00 as opposed to $10,000.00 is not a very good return on the dollar.

Even if I didn't invest that money and stuck it in a box under my bed ... in 18-years, I'd still have $1,170.00. Right? Yes, provided the kids didn't find the box, open it up, eat all the money, and leave me blaming Charlie that he spent our children's college fund on coffee from Starbucks. The point is, knowing what I know now ... I'd much rather schlep around three infants for a few months and have a week of college paid for in 2022. Or, a year of coffee for Charlie.

Anyway. It's best not to dwell on these things. damn! too late.

When the kids graduated from their bouncy chairs to their high chairs at 8-months, mealtime took on a whole new dynamic. We sold our table that we'd bought the first year of marriage, and lined up all three babies in highchairs across our kitchen. There was no way our kitchen was big enough to fit a 2-person table AND three highchairs, so Charlie and I would lie sit on the couch to eat dinner.

One of the items we did receive from our baby registry - that has been a fantastic gift - were the Fisher Price Healthy Care Booster Seats. These are small, compact, and easy to clean. All of these characteristics are a plus, plus, plus in my book. Up until a few months ago, the only time we used our booster seats was when we were traveling. When we weren't jet setting across the country - these $22.00 space saving/time saving/money saving gems - were tucked in our garage.

In May, we went out to dinner with the babies. As we were all sitting around the table together, Charlie and I noted that at some point - hopefully in the near future - it would be great if we could start eating together as a family.

Of course the first thing we'd need is a table. Unless we wanted to roll the kid's highchairs in to the family room so they could sit with us in their diapers during mealtime while we ate off of our TV dinner trays and watched "Ernest Goes To Jail".

Because we are really good at buying things (and would much prefer to purchase things we don't need than have Proctor & Gamble stock) ... Charlie and I loaded the kids up and went out on a sunny Saturday afternoon looking at new tables.

After four stores and only a moderate amount of screaming, we found a beauty. The table that we ultimately purchased, is 38-inches high and ~6-inches taller than a *standard* table. It has six chairs, and a butterfly leaf - which means the leaf stays inside the table when you fold it. and is one less thing I'll have to find room to store in our incredibly shrinking house

The table was delivered, the highchairs were traded for the booster chairs in the garage (because I wasn't fully prepared to just give up our highchairs, that's a big step, you know?) and we began eating as a family.

With a small caveat.

It's hard to eat as a family when you have three little dictators in diapers that are ready to start eating as SOON as they get placed in their chair. Usually, it requires a lot of planning by Charlie and I to get meal times coordinated such that we can all sit down to eat at about the same time and we're not jumping up to get this. And that. And this. And that. And this. (And that).

Eating together as a family is a good thing. Not counting the car - our mealtimes are the only time we are all gathered together for at least 15 minutes ... we're sitting still ... we're not distracted by outside influences (i.e. The Wiggles) ... and we're conscious. Aside from those benefits, it allows us an excellent opportunity to work with the kids on their self-feeding skills and social etiquette around the dinner table.

As you can see, we still have a ways to go.

We could most definitely have done with out the highchairs and the infant carriers. But as our children grow up ... meal time around our family table is one thing we will never regret.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Then ... and Now

When I was growing up, I was really in to gymnastics.

It would drive my family absolutely crazy because whenever they'd take me to the grocery store, I would run down the food isles doing round-offs and back handsprings, narrowly avoiding the canned goods with my size 5 K-Swiss.

People would look at me and smile. At the time, I thought it was adoration ... now I know it was most likely a grimace as they were thinking to themselves, "Would someone PLEASE control that little brat?!"

My love of gymnastics extended to every inch of my life - and every inch of our house. I used the shower curtain as a "bar" - as well as the towel rods on our wall. I would vault over the couch ... practice cartwheels on the curb outside ... and do press handstands on the rim of the tub.

Happiness at the age of 10, was a big living room devoid of furniture and the Meatloaf "Bat out of Hell" album on our record player. Nadia Comaneci was my idol. The 1984 Olympic Games were my goal. Fresca and Cocoa Puffs were my fuel.

The depth of my energy supply was positively staggering.

Then my gymnastics team got new leotards. Mine was a ghastly purple that didn't fit right and constantly rode up on me - so I stopped going to practice. That was the end of gymnastics and sadly, my Olympic career.

I haven't done gymnastics in ... let me think ... umm ... 25 years. I haven't really thought much about gymnastics ... how good I once was, or how long since I've done it ... until yesterday.

*************

Our kids are so adorable. They are starting to do this little stunt where they'll bend down and put their head on the ground. Yesterday, thinking this would be a great opportunity to teach them how to do a somersault - I lifted their legs up over their head and helped them to roll.

THEY LOVED IT.

They'd jump up, put their little heads on the ground and stare up between their legs at me. So, I'd roll them again. And again, and again, and again.

Charlie comes home from work and I'm rolling kids all across the carpet.

At some point, I had this brilliant realization that maybe I could teach them to roll on their own, if they could see me do it.

Their mother was once an aspiring Olympic gymnast, don't you know.

So, I bend down at the knees, place my forehead on the carpet and roll forward. It's simple. It's a somersault ... basic gymnastics. Rudimentary stuff ... this comes before you learn to "dip" on the balance beam.

The kids laugh so hard at me doing somersaults that they fall down. I can just imagine what's going through their little heads, "Mommy rolling on the floor, did you ever?! Bawahhhaaaa!!!!"

Charlie kicks off his shoes and joins in the fun. He puts his forehead on the ground, kicks his legs in the air and rolls. But, he adds a twist. At the end of his roll, he jumps up and puts his hands in the air and shouts "TA-DA!"

The kids are laying on the ground in absolute hysterics.

The former gymnast in me comes out. Not one to be outdone - especially when it comes to tumbling ... I pull my hair back in a ponytail (that always means business), tuck down, roll and pop up. Just as I'm coming out of my somersault - I feel this unusual sensation - kind of like jolt of electricity shooting down my neck, shoulders and back. I stand up and turn around and my world goes black - white - and then starry.

searing. pain. engulfs. my. entire. body.

"HOLY ^@!^*%$*&@$#^!!!! WHAT DID I JUST DO?!?!"

Here's a tip: I did three somersaults in a row - after having not done any form of gymnastics for twenty-five years. That would be a quarter of a century or, one fourth of 100 years. 25. YEARS. I rolled my entire body, that two years ago at this very time, was carrying three babies in it, over my head ... supported only by my neck.

Who the hell do I think I am ... Nadia Comaneci?!

Cut to today.

This morning, when I woke up, I couldn't lift my head off the pillow. I could barely raise my arms up to put my shirt on. I most definitely can't turn my head to the left or right ... and I have to grab a hold of something with both arms if I want to look up or down. My wardrobe had to be carefully coordinated around a neckbrace. I looked like a whiplash victim when I hobbled in to the office at 10 AM.

What has this experience taught me?

Happiness at the age of 35, is a heating pad and Jack Lim's Qi Energy Music on my headset. Yogi Bhajan is my idol. The ability to do Utthita Trikonasana is my goal. Zinfandel and Vicodin, thankfully left over from my c-section, are my fuel.

The lengths to which I'll go to amuse my children are positively staggering.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Monkey See, Monkey Do. Monkey Do. Monkey Do.

It's becoming increasingly clear that the kids imitate whatever we do - and - whatever our dog Molly does.

Seeing our children trying to carry around a clean tennis ball in their mouth is adorable. Seeing my beautiful baby boy kneel down to lap up a puddle like our dog, makes me cringe. But it also makes me grab my camera.

What does that say about me? I hope it says that I'm all about capturing the moment. We have a lot of moments around here and I capture quite a few of them. Thank goodness for digital cameras. (Honestly - we'd be living in a tent if we had to pay to develop all the pictures I've snapped off since our children have arrived.)

Speaking of moments ... this was the scene in our kitchen last week. But the same scene played out this morning, too. Infact, the same exact scene plays out each time we sit down to eat. If there are bowls on the table ... I'll bet everyone's Cheerios that before too much time, there will be kids with bowls on their heads.


I knew it wouldn't be too much time before Elizabeth taught her brother and sister the art of undressing. As I cleaned up breakfast in the kitchen this morning, Elizabeth skillfully peeled off her snap-up pajamas. Carolyn Grace was next ... and William, a bit later.

Since we can't use nightgowns... and now, zippers and snap-up sleepers have been conquered, I'm not sure what to do. I think I might have found another application for duct tape.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Upgrades

We are seriously contemplating some major renovations to our house.

Pause.

Yes. We have toddlers. Three of them. Who are in the midst of destroying just about everything in this house.

What did we have on our mind (that we have apparently lost)? Well ... painting, possibly replacing our floors with hardwood, upgrading our bathroom. All the stuff that I've realized we can't live without since I was at Home Depot last month. We've had contractors showing up on our doorstep with their bids in hand, every day for the past week.

We're just gathering information. You know ... getting a flavor of what we'd be in for ... if we did decided to do a *little* work.

Glutton for punishment. Right here. That would be me.

I'm starting to question if a remodel is a good idea ... at this point in time.

Tonight, when I came home from work - Charlie was trying to feed the kids dinner. We've decided that although mashed peas are a good self-feed food for them ... peas of the non-mashed variety aren't. In the nine seconds it took for me to greet Charlie and turn to wash my hands ... I was pelted in the back of the head by handfuls of peas.

Welcome home, Mom.

I never would have believed that a little 22-month old child's hand could hold so many peas.

Molly doesn't like peas. Neither does our Animal.

Neither do I ... crawling around our hard tile floors and cleaning them up before they get squashed any further in to our grout.

Charlie tells me that this morning, he found Elizabeth standing in her crib ... wearing a smile. Apparently, that's ALL she had on. Her diaper and pajamas were thrown over the side. When he went in to the nursery following the afternoon nap, he found her wearing only her smile. Again.

Now that Elizabeth has mastered the art of removing all of her clothes and diaper ... I'm sure it's just a matter of time before she teaches her brother and sister. Which means, we probably should skip serving O'Henry bars for a while. Unless we want to clean up a mess that would make peas seem like peanuts.

Following dinner, we unloaded the kids from their booster chairs and tried to corral them in to the bathroom. That's when all three of them showed us their newest trick, which I have dubbed "Rubber Legs." Obviously, they were much more interested in picking up and continuing to throw the peas from the ground ... than they were in taking a bath.

Have you ever tried to walk with a child, who is fully capable of walking, but completely goes limp and slides to the ground? Have you ever tried walking with two ... make it three ... children that do this? And the ground is covered with peas?

It was a lovely sight. Take my word for it.

I get the kids upright and they start pulling everything off the counter.

Since when could they reach EVERYTHING on the counter???

I'm not entirely sure when this growth spurt occurred ... but heaps of stuff that I had tucked up there thinking was safe, was being pulled to the ground. Fruit. Cutting boards. Miscellaneous kitchen supplies that made a loud sound when crashing to the floor.

Fortunately, the ground was tile. Not brand new hardwood floors.

All three of the kids looked at me with huge eyes and in unison said "Oh, Oh." Usually I only reserve "Oh, Oh" for when something happens that was not planned. You know, you do something - unintentionally.

Our kids don't understand that yet.

They love to toss out "Oh, Oh" for each and every time they consciously drop, pull or throw something to the ground.

If I'm annoyed ... Gracie will chant "E-I-E-I-Oooo." And then look at me with a coy smile. She knows that she's in trouble. And I know - that she knows - how funny it is when she does this.

But there's NO laughing. At least not that they can see.

As far as the kids are concerned ... I'm annoyed tonight, because they continue to reach up with their grubby little pea-covered hands and pull everything else that they could reach, off our counter. All the while singing out, "Oh-Oh. Oh-Oh. E-I-E-I-Oooo. Oh-Oh."

Charlie told me that the fastest way to land both of us in a mental institution, is to take on a remodel job to upgrade our house, with three toddlers underfoot. The remodel will most likely drive us to the brink ... and three toddlers will push us right over the side and in to the abyss.

Three toddlers that I've determined, just today, have been upgraded to Hurricane Level III status. Gee ... that was fast. We were only upgraded to a Level II, on Thursday...

Monday, August 14, 2006

Triplet Awe

We took the kids to the zoo yesterday.

Once again, they received more attention than any of the animals in the whole place.

It never ceases to amaze me the amount of attention we generate - each and every time we step foot out of the house with all of our kids.

I've become extremely accustomed to people stopping what they are doing and (sometimes literally) running over to see our children. And since I'm a ham for attention, I have no problem with the stir we cause.

Usually
, it's a lot of fun.

Me by myself - plain Jane.

Me with babies - instant celebrity.

Me with fellow triplet mom's and all of our babies - evening news worthy.

It didn't dawn on me just how much attention we attract, until I went to the store with one baby. For the first time, I "blended" with the general population and it was an odd sensation. Rather than appreciating the anonymity, I was surprised that at the first opportunity I had to talk with someone and they would comment on my "beautiful baby" I couldn't stop myself from quipping "They're a TRIPLET! I have two more babies at home that are just as beautiful!"

I love being out by myself and seeing a new mother with her baby. If an opportunity presents itself, I'll drop the *triplet bomb*. It's great entertainment to watch a new mother's face turn 20 different shades of color and then say "Sweet God in heaven ... I don't know what I'd do with THREE babies."

What's even more fun is when I see someone that has twins. Usually I'll comment "Aren't they adorable! How old are your babies?" and the parent, who is asked about their multiples all the time gives some canned response. Unable to contain myself (really, I've tried), I'll casually mention ... "I have toddler triplets."

And then I savor the triplet awe.

This makes me extremely obnoxious. I know.

What wasn't much fun is the time I was out for a walk around the neighborhood with all three babies (I think I've mentioned this encounter before) and a woman banked a u-turn in her Suburban and inquired if our babies were triplets. When I proudly exclaimed "YES!" she rolled down her tinted windows and introduced me to her QUADRUPLETS.

I've decided it's a lot of fun to trump. It's not a lot of fun being trumped.

Especially when she added "Triplets would be easy!"

Aw, shut-up.

I told her that quads wouldn't really be that much harder, because I'm already outnumbered. Charlie looked at me like I was an absolute fool. "Are you kidding me, woman? You don't think one more baby would be that much harder?! Where have you been for the past 22-months?!"

I love having triplets. LOVE IT. LOVE IT. LOVE IT. If we had quads, we could never fit all four of them in the front seat of the grocery cart at Costco. And, "Amazing Quads" isn't nearly as good of a blog title as "Amazing Trips." At least not in my opinion.

We never refer to our children as "triplets" except for when we are talking to absolute strangers. Being the parent of triplets is such an honor and a great conversation piece. It helps to always have pictures available of all three babies together, because 9 out of 10 times, people don't believe that you have triplets until you can flash a picture and say "Here's the proof."

My favorite picture to flash is our Santa photo.

When we are out with all three kids, we've heard just about every comment imaginable and most of them are wonderful.

Comment: "Wow - are those TRIPLETS?! You have been richly blessed!"

Response: Yes we have!

Comment: "Wow - are those TRIPLETS?! You have such a beautiful family!"

Response: We couldn't agree more!

Comment: "Wow - are those TRIPLETS?! You look fantastic!" (This is one of my favorites...)

Response: Uh, you wouldn't say that if you saw me in a bathing suit!

Of course we also get:

Comment: "Wow - are those TRIPLETS?! You must be exhausted!"

Response: No way, we are energized. Our babies have been sleeping through the night since they were 4-months old.

Comment: "Wow - are those TRIPLETS?! Do you have any other children?!"

Response: Not yet!

Comment: "Wow - are those TRIPLETS?! What kind of help do you have?!"

Response: Well, unless you count a dog that licks the floor after every meal, it's just me and my husband!

Sometimes, the "triplet awe" can attract negative attention. Usually the naysayers will comment:

"Triplets? *Scoff* Better you than me!"

"Triplets? *Scoff* I think I'd hang myself."

"Triplets? *Scoff* I'm sorry."

Depending upon where I am - and what I'm doing at the moment (i.e. dealing with three children that are in the midst of a temper tantrum, hence prompting the negative comment in the first place) I'll usually respond, "Not every one is lucky enough to have triplets. Now that I have them - I couldn't imagine my life without them."

It's the honest truth.

I don't know how we got so lucky and even though they are our children ... we undoubtedly stand in awe of them the most.