Thursday, March 29, 2007

Breastfeeding Basics

Unless you have nipples of steel - breastfeeding hurts like $&*#@*&$%^&# in the beginning. No one ever told me that, so I learned the hard way.

Some other things I learned were that the herbal supplements Fenugreek and Lecithin are important to help boost your supply and thin your milk which may prevent clogged ducts.

The prescription Reglan will further boost your supply, if you had a low supply to begin with - or - if you need enough milk to nourish a small community.

Until you "toughen" up - lanolin is great for cracked nipples and gel pads can make any clothing (except a wool bra) that comes in to contact with your chest more tolerable.

Cabbage leaves (although not something I've ever tried) are purportedly a wonderful aid for engorged breasts.

A hands-free pump bra is a must have if you intend to pump - and a great conversation piece at boring dinner parties.

If you suspect that you have mastitis - a fast diagnosis and treatment with an antibiotic (i.e. Keflex), is critical.

This concludes my breastfeeding public announcement. If you want to hear more about my personal experience ... read on.


For a long time, I've been wanting to write about my experience nursing our triplets.

In case you are wondering - no - I didn't put them all "back on the boob" even though the thought had crossed my delirious mind after our sixth straight month of sickness. But even I'm not that crazy to attempt re-lactating for our 2-year old triplets when I'm 6-months pregnant.

Crazy enough to think and write about it ... definitely not crazy enough to do it.

Instead, I wanted to write about my decision to breastfeed our triplets and how I accomplished this seemingly monumental task.

Within two days of our babies being born, I was visited by a team of lactation consultants in the hospital. They arrived in my room with a hospital grade pump, an instruction manual and an assortment of goodies that were intended to make my nursing experience that much more enjoyable. The assortment of supplies they provided me included gel pads, nipple cream, and a coupon for $5.00 off a hands-free pumping bra.

What they forgot to put in that goodie bag was a bullet to bite. Because in all honesty, I think that a bullet in my goodie bag would have provided an excellent segue for how - in the beginning - breastfeeding a baby, might be the most excruciatingly painful thing you've ever experienced.

In your entire life.

Yes, even more painful than seeing and hearing Sanjaya and knowing that he'll still be around ... next week.

My lactation consultants - bona fide cheerleaders who waved flanges instead of pompoms - emphasized the importance of sitting down with my feet up as much as possible - and that any time I sat down to nurse or pump - I should have a big glass of water to sip on.

They showed me how massaging the breast and nipple prior to pumping or having your baby latch on will help with "let down". They told me that warm compresses can also help to facilitate let down and they stressed that although I might not recover much milk in the beginning ... it was critical that I begin pumping immediately, and continue every three hours, round-the-clock.

They suggested that I start taking the herbal supplement Fenugreek, three tablets with every meal, and they also suggested that I keep a nursing journal - so that I could keep tabs on how my milk supply was increasing with time.

Before they left, they told me that not all breastmilk is created the same. My breastmilk, was perfectly formulated for our babies at that exact point in their lives. I learned that with time, my breastmilk composition would change to fit the nutritional needs of our children. So, when our babies were full-term, my milk would have a different chemistry and fat base to satisfy their needs, than it would when they were 31-week preemies.

Never once did they warn me that hooking a manual pump up to my naked chest - or putting a hungry baby to breast - would be anything like unleashing a ravenous tiger on fat vulnerable prey.

Oblivious to what I was in for - and anxious to get started - I hooked myself up to the pump and sat on my hospital bed, fully expecting to see the little 2-oz bottles that they provided me with, instantly fill up with milk.

Instead, after a solid 20-minutes and nothing to show for my efforts, I decided that maybe I hadn't massaged enough or maybe the pump wasn't set at an intense enough level.

So, I massaged more and pumped more.

And more.

And more.

Still, nothing.

Even though I did everything that the lactation consultants told me to do - I still had not produced a single drop of breastmilk after two days and a grueling amount of time hooked up to the torture equipment I had set on "high".

By this point, our babies were still receiving donated breast milk - I was feeling like a complete failure that I couldn't produce the milk that was needed for their survival - and my nipples had almost completely chafed off my chest.

Although there was nothing I could have done to control our babies from being born 9 weeks prematurely, I felt like I could control (or at least try to control) my body's ability to produce breastmilk - which according to the lactation consultants, was the most important thing I could provide for them. So I kept on pumping, despite the agony.

And finally - colostrum appeared. Although at first sight, I thought it was the liquefaction of my breasts from all the pressure they'd been subjected to over the past week.

Within a week from the appearance of colostrum, I was producing approximately 8 ounces of milk a day. This continued to go up with time, and because our babies had not yet mastered the suck, swallow, breathe reflex - I was able to record the volume of milk I was producing.

After a few more days, the lactation consultants put me on a prescription for Reglan, in addition to the Fenugreek I had been taking. Incidentally, Reglan was the same prescription that our newborn girls were on for reflux - but in my case - it was intended to help boost my breast milk supply even more. As was the oatmeal, beer and large volumes of Mother's Milk Tea I was devouring. Later, I also added Lecithin to my diet, which was another herbal supplement used to thin breastmilk and help prevent clogged ducts. (I didn't learn about this until after my second bout of mastitis.)

Within a few more days, my supply had increased to approximately 20 ounces a day ... and continued to go up, topping out at approximately 70 ounces per day. Considering our babies were consuming more and more with each feeding - I was just barely able to keep up with their intake. However, I was told that my milk supply would go up even more, when I finally transitioned the baby to breast - because apparently - a baby does a better job extracting milk than the best pump on the market.

After everything that my nipples had been through with a hospital grade pump - that seemed unbelievable to me.

Unfortunately, just as I was preparing to put our babies "to breast", I broke out from head to toe in hives. At first my doctors thought that perhaps I was having a relapse of HELLP Syndrome, but it was soon discovered that in my quest to be a milk machine ... I had overdosed on Fenugreek. During an exam, one of my perinatologists caught a glimpse of my barren chest and told me that it looked like someone had slammed my boobs in a car door. Much to my dismay, I was given strict instructions to eliminate Fenugreek from my diet and cut back on my marathon pumping sessions.

When I was finally able to attempt nursing, the reality of my experience was not at all what I had envisioned. It certainly wasn't like any of the movies I had seen where a newborn hungrily latches on and the mother smiles contentedly.

Instead, I sat with my compulsory Boppy Pillow (which I never liked) and my premature newborn who was 1/2 the size of my engorged breast. With one hand on the baby's head - I tried to use my other hand to maneuver a nipple in to my baby's tiny mouth.

All told, out of 100+ nursing sessions I attempted - I was able to sucessfully have a baby latch on twice. And both times, the baby promptly turned blue - setting off numerous alarms - and I was convinced that my boobs would ultimately be responsible for the demise of my child.

So, I gave up on nursing and continued to pump. For several months, I continued to pump. Despite two cases of mastitis, cracked nipples, and an overwhelming desire to sink my breast pump to the bottom of the ocean.

One day, after the babies had been home for two months, Charlie and I went out shopping. While we were at the store - Carolyn reminded us that we were rapidly approaching feeding time. We quickly made our way back to the car and when I opened our cooler and realized that all of the bottles were ice cold - I panicked.

Because it would take at least 15 minutes to warm up the bottles and 30 minutes to drive home, I decided that I had two options: 1) Give our babies cold milk ... or 2) attempt nursing. After Carolyn spit her cold milk at me and continued to wail - I had no choice but try Option 2.

In the backseat of our van, I gingerly brought her up to my chest and as I wracked my brain trying to remember how to maneuver the nipple in to her delicate mouth - I was absolutely shocked that she latched on with such ferocity I fell backwards in the seat. What was even more shocking was that my once tiny baby, had developed such a strong reflex, she could have easily sucked the chrome off a bumper.

Was it possible that my baby was actually nursing? Was it possible that she was getting all of the nutrition she needed - directly from me - and without a bottle?? How would I know if she'd had enough to eat - I certainly couldn't gauge how many ounces she had consumed?!

Despite my worries, after 10 minutes, she stopped nursing - let out a big burp - and promptly fell asleep with a drunken smile across her precious little face.

I felt totally vindicated. I could DO this!!!

Because I was anxious to rid myself of the pump, I instantly made the decision that I would try nursing two babies during each feeding session. The third baby, who I would rotate through, would receive extracted breastmilk and a formula supplement, from a bottle.

The advantages to this new feeding approach were tremendous and I could see my life transforming before my eyes.

I would be saving a huge amount of time ... no more pumping and THEN feeding!

No more flanges, bottles and nipples to wash!!

With my spare time - I could maybe start a scrapbook. Or, clean the house. Or take a nap!!!

Best of all - I would be bonding with my babies!!!!

Yet after less than 24 hours, I thought for sure I was dying. The pain of anything (including gel pads) touching my nipples was absolutely excruciating and water spray from the shower was pure torture, despite smothering myself beforehand in Lansinoh lanolin.

When I placed an emergency call to La Leche League, I was informed that although breastfeeding might be "uncomfortable" it most definitely should not be painful. After telling a consultant that whenever a baby latched on, I had to bite a cloth diaper to prevent from screaming - and my toes would curl up underneath my feet - the woman on the other end of the line told me that I was obviously doing something wrong.

For days, I tried to figure out what I could do better.

I spoke with girlfriends, sisters - my mother. I called the Lactation Consultants at the hospital. Everyone that I spoke to would tell me that although breastfeeding might be a tad bit uncomfortable - they didn't remember it feeling like someone was trying to cut their nipples off with a pair of rusty scissors.

Which made me question what my problem was. I mean really, how in the world has humanity survived thousands of years if breastfeeding was such a brutality??

It made no sense.

But then again - in the history of humanity - how many women (except wet nurses) attempted to breastfeed more than one baby at a time??

In the midst of this chaos - I contemplated throwing in the towel. I didn't want to keep up with the pumping and I certainly didn't want to subject myself to the torture of nursing. All three of our babies had been successfully supplemented with Similac Isomil, due to William's lactose intolerance, and I knew that they would grow in to healthy, happy babies just fine on a formula diet. But I was stubborn.

After a week of nursing hell, William spit up blood all over my shirt. At first I was terrified that he was bleeding internally ... but then Elizabeth and Carolyn spit up blood all over Charlie's shirt. I did a self inspection and couldn't see that I was bleeding - so placed a frantic call to our pediatrician. When I told him what was happening, he assured me that the blood was most likely coming from me. He also warned that I'd probably come down with another case of mastitis in the next few days because bacteria from the babies' mouths would cause an infection.

It turns out, I had cracked nipples and although the blood wasn't immediately visible - when our children latched on with their little mouths that are infact, the best damn pumps available, they were sucking so hard they drew blood.

My children drew blood.


Sure enough, the very next day - I woke up with the tell-tale symptoms of mastitis. Since this was my third case, I called my doctor - informed him of my diagnosis - and dashed off to pick up my prescription of Keflex. The pharmacist - having seen me several times over the past month - shook his head and asked "Why do you keep it up?"

I responded, "Because - I know that it's got to get better. It sure as heck can't get any worse." With my sincerest thanks to all the powers that be, eventually, another week or two later - it did get better.

It got to the point that I wouldn't break out in a cold sweat and stuff cloth diapers in my mouth whenever I brought a baby up to my chest ... my toes wouldn't involuntarily curl up underneath my feet ... and I stopped looking at the clock with pure dread as feeding time drew near. Amazingly, I soon would learn to feed two babies at once and found great satisfaction in knowing I, alone, could calm a fussy baby down in a matter of seconds.

With time, I stopped pumping all together and I reduced my nursing from every feeding ... to only three feedings a day. I would nurse all three first thing in the morning - one at lunch - and all three just before bed. As I reduced the volume of breastmilk they were receiving, I increased the amount of formula they were consuming.

Although I know women who exclusively breastfed their triplets ... this was not something I wanted to do. I did not want to be "tied" to the breastpump after every nursing session - which would be necessary to help keep my supply high enough for three babies. I also craved the freedom to get out and do things during the day, without having to lug a pump along with me. Bottles, particularly Podee bottles were my saving grace at these times.

I also know a lot of women who exclusively formula fed their babies. Some feel guilt about this decision, some do not. In my opinion (borrowed directly from my mother), it's not as important what you feed your child - as how you feed your child.

You can nurse your baby with love - just as you can bottle feed them with love.

If you are a stress case because you want every meal to be breastmilk - and you are up round-the-clock with a fussy newborn, that may not be the best solution. Sometimes women do not produce a sufficient amount of milk - sometimes they have issues with a baby successfully latching on - sometimes a baby is allergic to their mother's milk - or sometimes the pain, frustration and exhaustion is so great they decide to stop.

I was doggedly determined to breastfeed. But because of the challenges I faced, I can easily see how women beat themselves up when they feel like they are not able to accomplish this task which should be second nature.
Despite my overwhelming desire to breastfeed, I didn't nurse exclusively because I firmly believe that formula is not a bad thing.

I'm pleased that I stuck it out, but I nursed when I wanted to nurse - not necessarily when the babies needed to eat. If I had nursed them whenever they needed to eat - I would have been glued to the couch for the first 6-months of their lives. In the end, I feel like breastfeeding our triplets helped me to quickly lose the 100-pounds I packed on during my pregnancy and it also gave our babies a much needed boost to their fragile immune systems. More than that - I will always have fond memories of snuggling with a baby in the early morning - or just before bed - and holding their little bodies close.

Even though William weaned himself after approximately 11 months, I continued to nurse Carolyn and Elizabeth two times a day until they were 16-months old. I suspect if I hadn't decided it was time, our girls would have happily nursed until they went off to Kindergarten.

And well, that might be a little awkward.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Part X: A Waddle In Time

Although I can remember with extreme accuracy and precision our children's stay in the NICU before William was first released ... the two weeks following his re-admittance and Elizabeth coming down with NEC, are a complete blur.

The one bout of clarity I can recall during that haze, when I was feeling severely depressed, was the day after William was re-admitted to the NICU.

Coincidentally, less than 24-hours after visiting three separate hospitals with our son, I came down with my first case of mastitis. I woke up at 4 AM with chills that were so severe, the only way I could get any comfort was to sleep in a scalding hot bathtub. The water was so hot - there was steam billowing around the room and the mirrors and windows were instantly fogged.

As I lowered my aching body in to the tub - I noticed that my right breast was engorged at least two times larger than my left and was extremely painful, red and swollen.

That didn't look right.

I climbed out of the tub, zipped on my hands free pump bra and tried to express milk with the aid of my hospital grade pump. After a grueling 15 minutes, and less than 2 ounces extracted, I had a suspicion something was amuck. But I was so tired and in such discomfort - I opted to deal with it later. Rather than wake up Charlie or place a call to my doctor, I climbed back in to the scalding hot tub and fell asleep for several hours.

When I woke up in a heavily pruned state, my mother - stepping through the mist of the bathroom came to me and insisted that instead of draining the tub and adding more scalding water, which is what I really wanted to do, I get up and call my perinatologist.

After a futile argument with mom, which was lost when I realized I had morphed in to a flailing idiot, I begrudgingly climbed out of the bath.

I described my symptoms and shockingly, 104 degree temperature, to my perinatologist and he diagnosed me with mastitis and told me that I needed to continue pumping and he'd be calling in a prescription for Keflex, immediately.

While Charlie, my mother and I prepared to go pick up my prescription - and then head up to the hospital so I could visit the babies (which no one thought I should be doing - but nothing was going to stop me from seeing my children), our postman dropped a package off at the front door.

It was a package for me - from my friend, Julie. Inside, there was a letter. It read:

Dear Jenna -

I hope this reaches you and finds you and your family well. How lucky Elizabeth, Carolyn & William are to have been born in to a loving home - as you know it's love that will nurture and protect them - in whatever form it comes. I hope you like the enclosed that I created - it's like a little reminder to call upon and to thank our Guardian Angels. I send this to you and your family with the very best of wishes.

Love - Julie Maggi

My dear friend had created a picture with a heart surrounding a moon and a sun, and a caption written across the heavens that read:

As day turns to night
And night to day
I sleep and I dream
I learn and I play

And though
I can't see them
I know they exist
My Guardian Angels
Ever so near
In the mist

Their love is forever
And it always will be
This little group of mine
My Guardian Angels
And me.

This gift from my friend came at the absolute perfect time. It was a time when I felt so defeated, all I wanted to do was slip under the scalding hot water in my bathtub and have the misery of my mastitis and ailing babies in the NICU - that I could do nothing to help - end.

After enduring years of infertility, a long pregnancy that ended much too soon, a slow recovery from HELLP Syndrome, four torturous weeks of seeing our tiny babies hooked up to machines and struggling for life in the NICU, our little boy readmitted to the hospital after less than three days home, our little girl struggle to overcome an infection that could be fatal, and now - mastitis ... I'd had enough.

Yet this one simple gift completely transformed my outlook.

Not only did I have Guardian Angels that I could see ... my husband, my mother, my family .... ever so near in the mist were Guardian Angels that I couldn't see.

I just had to find my lost faith to believe that they were there.

My mentality changed dramatically. Rather than thinking of the NICU as a place that my children needed to hurry up and get out of ... I appreciated that they were under phenomenal care. The blood transfusions that all three of them would need - from their Dad's Superblood - was going to make them stronger and was not something I needed to fear.

I was reminded that once the babies came home ... they were 100% our responsibility ... and I could kiss the peace and quiet of our house goodbye. (I could also kiss goodbye any kind of organization or cleanliness - but that storm wouldn't hit for another 12-months.) With such a radical shift in my mindset, I tried to savor the remaining time that our babies were under the exceptional care of the NICU staff. It wasn't very soon after receiving the much-needed morale boost from my friend Julie, we received a call from our neonatologist.

Carolyn was being released.

Because she was still having apnea events, we were given the option of spending the night in a Parent's Room at the hospital to become familiar with the monitor she would need to wear when discharged. Instead, we opted to receive training with one of the equipment manufacturer representatives ... and within an hour - with a prescription of Reglan for her reflux, and Caffeine for her apnea in hand, our baby girl was ready to go home.

It was Monday and for the next two days, we would relish having a newborn to dote upon. Two days later, on a Wednesday - we received another call from our neonatologist.

William was being released.

Our little guy who had been so terribly sick just a few weeks earlier - was being released without an apnea monitor and without any medications.

For the next two days, we relished having two newborns to dote upon - and began to fool ourselves in to believing that caring for multiple newborns wasn't so hard, after all.

The day after Thanksgiving - we received another call from our neonatologist.

Elizabeth was being released.

Similar to her sister, she would be coming home on an apnea monitor and with prescriptions for Reglan and Caffeine.

In less than a week, we went from having no babies at home - to having all three.

By the time Elizabeth was discharged - it had been exactly six weeks since they had been born. Although they spent a month and a half in the NICU - when they arrived home, they were still three weeks premature and extremely vulnerable to infection. But with my mother in town to lend her assistance and Charlie on a 12-week extended leave from work - we thought that with a 1-1 ratio of adult to baby, taking care of triplet newborns would be a breeze.

What we didn't consider was that there would be some minor disagreements in the way my mother thought things should be done - versus the way we thought things should be done ... which would create a minor amount of unrest and tension. To the point that mom was prepared to fly home the day after Elizabeth was released - which caused Charlie and I to fall in to a fit of bawling crying despair.

We didn't consider that the release of our babies from the hospital coincided with the height of RSV season, so we were especially paranoid about anything and everything coming in to contact with our preemies. Including Jim, who flew in to town to stay with us and immediately came down with a cold. And as such, was immediately asked to leave and stay in a hotel. Since Jim was unfamiliar with the area - mom went with him ... leaving us alone with the babies.

We didn't consider that babies waking up at various times and apnea monitors going off at all hours of the night would prevent us from sleeping more than two hours at a time.

We didn't consider that the trauma of a triplet pregnancy - the roller coaster ride that was the NICU experience - the exhausion of having three premature newborns to care for, would drive us to the absolute brink of desperation.

We didn't consider that although it would have been a tremendous help, we would be too paranoid to let anyone, other than the three of us, take care of the babies.

We didn't consider that William might be diagnosed, three weeks after his release, as lactose intolerant - which would make feeding time absolute torture for him and an absolute nightmare for us.

I didn't consider that the thought of being left alone with my longed after babies, that weighed less than 15 pounds collectively, when my mother went to visit her girlfriend, or Charlie ran off to the store - would cause me to hyperventilate and have a trembling panic attack.

I didn't consider that when I would tell my mother how nervous I was - she would respond "It's wonderful! You are going to have so much fun!!" I would furiously tell her "It's wonderful for YOU because YOU get to go home soon!!!"

I certainly didn't consider that less than a week of having all three babies home - I would look at my husband through bleary eyes and confess "I didn't sign up for this ... I wanted one baby, not three."

But here they were. They were ours. And like it or not, nobody was going to come by and take them back.

What we never considered was that - as a team - Charlie and I would survive the first few months of triplethood, even after my mother flew home to South Carolina.

We never imagined that by the time Charlie returned to work, and with the aid of a handy-dandy Excel Spreadsheet, our babies would be on a fixed schedule that had them napping three times during the day and sleeping 10+ hours at night.

We never imagined that I'd be successful at breastfeeding all three of them (with a small amount of formula supplementation) or that we would dodge any and all ailments for the first year of their life (with the exception of a bilaternal hernia repair for William when he was 10-months old).

We never imagined that with time, our lives would regain a new kind of "normalcy" and we would feel empowered to do anything.

We never imagined that although we were outnumbered by children ... we would quickly realize that we were blessed beyond measure.

We never imagined that our once three-pound premature infants, that needed a gavage tube to eat, Caffeine to keep their hearts beating, or Reglan to battle reflux ... in less than three years, would be able to polish off 10 pancakes at a sitting; a dozen banana muffins in the blink of an eye or three gallons of orange juice in a single week.

We never imagined that our tiny babies - would blossom in to adorable toddlers that find extreme joy singing to each other in their cribs, holding hands and dancing in circles, or comforting one another when they are hurt.

But what we most definitely never imagined, was that once again ... my mother would be right: Triplethood is wonderful and we are having the best time of our lives.

Although we certainly didn't sign up for "this", I'm convinced one of our Guardian Angels did it for us.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

It was a year ago today...

... I started this blog.

It was intended to be a little something to help me pass the hours minutes while our children napped, yet serve the greater good of keeping our family and friends apprised of our children's recent developments.

It has pretty much remained a little something to help me pass the hours minutes while our children nap and has been an excellent means to stay in touch with family and friends. The vast majority who have never left me a comment.

But that's OK. Beth, Michelle, Frank, Mary, Linda, Greg, Andrew, Suzanne, Sylvie, Candy, Amy, Bob [all five of you], Marla, Joel, Felicia, Emily, Karen, Dave, Jean, Janet, Ron, Cathy, Donna, John, Jennifer, Sandy, Lisa, Tim, Grace, Eileen, Christine, Steve, Jim, Rob, should I continue??

I know they're there.

Because when I talk with my brother and he tells me about his bad back - he feels compelled to add that he didn't throw it out during the conception of a child ... or when Charlie bumps in to a neighbor at the grocery store - he congratulates him on our pregnancy that has not yet been announced.

Except on the internet.

And I blush. Because the written word comes a lot more easily to me than the spoken word. Although, I tend to be overly profuse with both. (No need to agree).

Along the way, I've *met* a lot of people who have left me comments - or - sent me e-mails. These strangers lives are as varied as their geographical locations.

Some have children.

Some want children.

Some don't know what they'd do with children.

Some have triplets, twins, quads - or quints.

Some are fellow bloggers.

Some are in the U.S.

Some are in Africa, Asia, Europe or the Middle East.

Some have stumbled upon Amazing Trips through some search engine, when they typed key words like "Children, Lick Toilet Brush", "Feed Children Off Floor" or "Children, Dog Poop". (Which makes me wonder, based on the title, what do they think this blog is about?? Should I worry about Child Protective Services contacting me??)

Although this blog has been a good vehicle to chronicle the challenges and joys of our daily lives - above all - it's been the best way I can find to share stories of the amazing trip that life has been ... since we've become parents to our Amazing Trips. It's incredible to look back through the archives and see how far we've come. With just over 52,000 visitors (and almost 100,000 hits) in the past year, I sincerely hope that all of you are enjoying the trip, too.

The way we see it ... the future's so bright, we've got to wear shades.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Whatta Croc

"A few random complaints thoughts."

- By Jen


My Dear Fellow American Citizens:

Whoever is voting for Sanjaya Malakar on American Idol ... please stop.

I honestly cannot stand the torture anymore.

If he makes it through again next week, I will surely drown myself in a bowl of curry.


Recently, our City built an awesome park a mile or so from our house.

But to get to the park, you have to cross a very busy (i.e. 45 MPH speed zone) street.

We noticed that when the park was being constructed, they put ramps on the sidewalks immediately adjacent to the entrance, so we were under the impression that eventually, the City was planning to paint cross walks to the opposite side of the street, so that people (and children) visiting the park would have a safe place to cross.

After weeks turned in to months and still no cross-walks appeared ... and the only way we could access the park was to scramble across the 5-foot planter filled with various bushes and seasonal flora ... and dart across the 45 MPH speed zone - with our bulky triplet stroller and dog - we decided that a call was in order to the City Planning Department.

We left a message for the Traffic Control Engineer and when he returned our call, two weeks later, I was shocked when he informed us that there were "most definitely NO plans to put in a cross-walk."

Apparently, cross-walks create a "false sense of security for pedestrians" and they thought it was in the best interest of public safety to forego said cross walks in front of this park. Infact, any place they are resurfacing - except in front of schools - they are not restoring cross walks.

Can you believe that?!?!

According to the Traffic Control Engineer, it's a lot safer to have pedestrians (including children) dart like George Costanza in a game of Frogger across a 45 MPH speed zone - where cars have NO obligation to stop.

I'm appalled that cars on this speedway don't even slow down for people (ME) crossing the street - with a BABY CARRIAGE and a dog. Despite my best efforts at being a good role model for our children - you can often hear me yelling at these cars and shaking my fist. I know that's not enough. So, I'm planning to contact our State Representative and Congressman to complain.

Right after we finish our wills.

If it's the last thing I do ... I WILL GET A CROSS WALK.


Charlie took the children to a different park today, while I was at work. When I came home this evening, he recapped his morning. It went something like this:

Fed the kids breakfast.

Cleaned up the kitchen after breakfast.

Got the kids dressed.

Packed a picnic lunch.

Got himself dressed, while the kids undressed themselves, destroyed the kitchen and tried to hack in to the lunch boxes and eat their picnic lunch.

Loaded the kids in to the car.

Drove to the park.

Chased three toddlers all around the park.

Picked up two young straggler children (aged 24-months and 36-months, respectively), whose mother was totally oblivious to their whereabouts as she sat leisurely flipping through an interior design catalogue in her designer sunglasses and wide-brimmed hat.

Called over to aforementioned oblivious mother numerous times and asked if her young children could go in the tot swing - since they were hanging on to Charlie's hand and begging "Swing! Swing!"

When ignored by oblivious mother - proceeded to walk around the rest of the park to play on various equipment with our three toddlers - while followed by two young straggler children - and wondered what would happen if some nut job scooped these children up and took off?

How long would it take oblivious mother to notice??

Attracted other various children to the meandering triplet entourage - although none of the other children were being blatantly ignored by their caregivers.

Made lots of new friends.

After being followed around the park for 90-minutes by young straggler children - and their mothers who were amazed that a father was able to take care of three toddlers, by himself - loaded our three children back in to the car and drove home.

Speculated how going out with triplets, is like being a huge meandering-kid & awestruck-mother velcro patch. This is not so bad of a thing ... except for when parents totally ignore their meandering children and assume that you will not only watch your three - but theirs as well.

Like he doesn't have enough to do. Jeesh.


When I was expecting the triplets, the only shoes that I could wear were flip flops and Crocs. Not even my adjustable Birkenstocks would fit on my gargantuan feet.

But in my unending quest to find the "perfect" shoe - I purchased a lot of them.

Our children love shoes. They absolutely adore them.

They'll raid our closets every day and prance around the house wearing various footwear.

William particularly loves the girls black patent leather shoes, which he enthusiastically refers to as "Whale Shoes." It took me a while to figure this out - but I realized they are shiny and black ... kind of like a Killer Whale. And since Sea World is one of our favorite spots in the world - it makes logical sense that these shoes remind our son of Shamu.

He's a smart little guy.

A few weeks ago, while I was at the park (the one sans cross walk), I was talking with a fellow dad who commented how adorable our children are and was inquiring how old they were. "Let's see ... I'll bet he's three and the girls are maybe two?"

To which I replied "Exactly how much did you want to bet? We're trying to buy a new house."

After I told him that they were infact triplets and I was expecting a fourth ... he staggered backwards and then cautiously inquired, "Two girls and a .... boy?"

The gender of Carolyn and Elizabeth, who were dressed from head to toe in pink and carrying their baby dolls, was easy enough to distinguish.

William, however, was wearing his denim overalls - his red flare skirt - and his infamous "Whale Shoes" that he absolutely insists on wearing pretty much every time we damn near step out of the house. Unless I want to deal with a full-body temper tantrum, screaming, and a child who is capable of going completely boneless ... I'll usually relent and let him wear his "Whale Shoes" and watch him giddily dance around.

After I responded that "Yes, two girls and a boy" I felt compelled to add, "Our son prefers to wear his sister's shoes."

The man laughed and told me that it wasn't uncommon for a 2-year old to wear unusual things and I really shouldn't worry. He then went on to add that a few weeks earlier, he had met another parent at the park whose little boy insisted on wearing a pair of girls shoes.

Oddly, this made me feel better. Like maybe our son wasn't the only one in the neighborhood with a crazy fashion sense. Because honestly - I've never seen another child at the park dressed nearly as outlandish as our boy.

When I went on to tell the guy that William refers to his shoes as "Whale Shoes" ... he paused and then blurted out "OH! I bet it was your husband I met!! Does he have a goatee and wear a Boston Red Sox hat?!?"

Yeah. That would be him. And if in 15-years our son still has an affinity for black patent leather shoes and wearing skirts over his pants - I might be prepared to drown myself in curry.


Due to my huge shoe collection, I recently noticed that William also favors my Crocs. Because everything has to do with animals in our household ... these shoes are referred to as "Alwygator Shoes."

Because - there is a picture of an alligator on the ankle strap.

During an outing last week at one of my all-time favorite stores ... I found "Alwygator Shoes" that were just about the right size for our children. Since I was also picking up a birthday present of Croc shoes for Poppa ... I decided it would be nice surprise to purchase the same kind of shoes for the kids, too.

Low and behold, the children absolutely love their new Crocs.

They can put them on all by themselves - albeit not always on the right feet - and they will gallantly trip gallop around the house chanting "ALWYGATOR!!! ROARRRRRR!!!!!"

So, so cute.

Not so cute is the price for these "Alwygator Shoes" that our children will probably outgrow by the time of the summer solstice.

I think it borders on criminal that a shoe 1/4 the size of Poppa's ... costs the exact same amount. Now that's a CROC.

It is my intention to write to the manufacturer to complain.

Immediately after I write to our State Representative and Congressman.

Right after I finish our wills.

If only Santa granted me the second item on my wish list...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


I've already mentioned that when I was pregnant with our triplets, numerous doctors talked with us about "selective reduction". In other words, we were given the option of reducing one or more of our fetuses because some have argued that a twin pregnancy is lower risk than a triplet pregnancy - and there is a greater chance a woman can carry two fetuses longer than three, hence giving the remaining children a better shot at life.

Although Charlie and I were totally shell-shocked that I was pregnant with triplets - the thought of "reducing" one of them was unfathomable. It was absolutely something I could and would never, ever do.

But that's just me.

I know a few people that have reduced from quadruplets to triplets ... from quadruplets to twins ... from triplets to twins ... or from triplets to a singleton, for the very reason that they were concerned with the risk (for themself and their unborn babies) that would stem from a high order multiple (HOM) gestation. (It's important to note that not all of these pregnancies and resulting "reductions" were for women that became pregnant with medical assistance. Some of the HOM's were naturally conceived).

I also know a few people that have reduced from triplets to twins ... or from twins to a singleton, because the thought of more than one baby at a time to care for ... was completely overwhelming.

The fact is - there are choices available for how people choose to manage their pregnancy. And because these choices are available, this topic will remain highly controversial.

And highly personal.

I've also mentioned that while I was pregnant with our triplets, we discovered that all three of our babies had choroid plexus cysts on their brains and William, had an echogenic cardiac foci on his heart. We were told by a genetic counselor that these features were considered "soft markers" for birth defects. Namely, Trisomy 18 and Trisomy 21 (aka: Down Syndrome).

Once again, Charlie and I were shell-shocked. After all that we'd been through to get pregnant ... there was now a chance that not one, but all three of our precious babies could be born with birth defects so severe, they might not survive their first year of life.

Our only option of ruling out these birth defects was to perform an amniocentesis. But, if we did an amnio, there was a risk that we could lose one - or all - of our fetuses. And if we were willing to take that chance ... what would we do with the information, if it came back that there was a problem?

Would we terminate the pregnancy?

Thankfully, Charlie and I have been on the same page from the beginning. Although we were willing to do just about anything to get pregnant ... we were not willing to reduce one of our fetuses. Likewise, we were not willing to do anything that would in any way - put my pregnancy at risk. And if that meant that we would give birth to children with grave birth defects - that was something we would deal with, together.

So, we skipped the amnio ... we prayed fervently that our children would be born healthy ... and we tried to put our thoughts elsewhere for the remainder of my pregnancy. It wasn't easy.

Now that I'm pregnant again - so many of the fears that I had with my triplet pregnancy have resurfaced. Even though this singleton pregnancy has been the antithesis of my triplet pregnancy.

With my triplet pregnancy, I received a detailed ultrasound once every two weeks and had my doctor's office phone number memorized and his private cell phone number programmed on to my home phone. In contrast, I doubt I'll have more than two ultrasounds in my singleton pregnancy and would be hard pressed to find my doctor's telephone number in less than 10 minutes.

With my triplet pregnancy, I was under the constant supervision of a team of Maternal Fetal Specialists (aka: Perinatologists) that would spend the majority of each appointment talking with me about the importance of laying low. In contrast, with my singleton pregnancy, I've got one OB/GYN, on the brink of retirement, that spends the majority of our appointment talking with me about sports.

There is no comparison between the two.

Except my overwhelming desire to eat ice cream.

Because I am an "advanced maternal age" I was presented with the option of performing an amniocentesis a couple months ago. It turns out that not only does your chance of conception decrease as you pass the milestone of age 35 ... the chance of delivering a baby with birth defects increases.

If that's not a kick in the teeth, I don't know what is.

When the doctor asked if I was interested in performing an amnio - I immediately responded "NO." Once again, I was not prepared to put my pregnancy at risk for information - if once obtained - showed that there was a problem with my unborn baby.

But it is on my mind. The potential exists we could deliver a baby with special needs. And this is very scary for me because I am afraid of what a child with special needs would do to our family.

To me.

I am afraid of what a child with special needs would require - and if I have the patience and compassion to handle such a challenge.

I am afraid of what a child with special needs would grow in to ... and what would happen to this child once Charlie and I are gone? Who would care for them?

When I was in high school, I sponsored a child in the Special Olympics who had Down Syndrome and was autistic. Although I don't remember his name, I do remember his family. I remember that on the day he participated in his events - his mother and father both took the day off of work. His older brother and sister took the day off of school. His grandparents were there, his aunts and uncles were there.

There were at least 10 people from his family present to support him ... a frail 7-year old boy who couldn't talk and was unable to feed himself. The love and support for this child was overwhelming. I remember thinking to myself, "Wow. That's a special family." And I also remember wondering if the family was always so close - or if having a special needs child brought them together?

In my life, I've met a lot of people who have conquered cancer. The majority of these people have told me that although they wouldn't wish the disease on their worst enemy ... facing a significant health challenge has been one of the most empowering experiences of their life and they wouldn't trade that experience for the world. Similarly, I've met people that have a special needs child in their life. And these people have told me that although they never would have wished for a special needs child ... now that they have one - they wouldn't trade their experience for the world.

This is something that I hang on to - whenever I think about the possibility of us having a special needs child. Although it may not be something we wished for - it comforts me to think that our lives might be enriched because of the experience.

On the Chinese Lunar Calendar, 2007 is the Year of the Pig. It is not only the year of the Pig, it is the Year of the Golden Pig. According to Chinese Folklore, this is an event that occurs once in every 600 years and will ensure that a baby born on this year will experience a prosperous and wealthy life.

That's good to know.

Maybe it's because I am expecting and I tend to notice these things ... or maybe it's because everyone is rushing to have babies during the Year of the Golden Pig. But everywhere I look, I see pregnant women.

Friends from high school.

Friends from college.

Friends from work.

Neighbors and relatives.

Two weeks ago, I heard from a friend of mine that she was also expecting and due five weeks after me. It turns out that she had not yet told anyone - except her husband - of the pregnancy. Her family did not know, none of her colleagues at work, none of her friends at the gym knew.

Even though a lot of people wait until they pass the first trimester to share news of a pregnancy - my friend wanted to wait until she had obtained the results from her amniocentesis. She was sharing her news with me because like my pregnancy - she joked hers was also a case of Divine Intervention. In her situation, she has two children and was on birth control.

As far as she and her husband were concerned ... they were done having babies.

My friend will turn 40 a month after her baby is born. Although she never completed an amnio during her previous pregnancies, she knew that at her age, the risk was 1/100 that she would give birth to a child with Down Syndrome. But because an amnio is usually not performed until 18 weeks and the results can take two weeks to come back ... my friend would be five months pregnant before she learned whether or not her baby was normal.

Yesterday, I was checking my e-mail and a note came from my friend. Her amnio results came back and they were positive for Down Syndrome.

When she first learned that she was pregnant - my friend was in disbelief. But slowly, she became excited about the prospect of having another baby ... despite it's mixed blessings. Now, she knows that her child would be born with special needs and she is faced with the decision of what to do.

My friend informed me that her decision is to terminate the pregnancy. Obviously, at 20 weeks, this will not be easy. But, that is a choice that she has available to her.

My choice is to love and support my friend.

Although her decision is not one that I would make, I am certain it will be the hardest one she will ever face.

Monday, March 19, 2007

ramblings of a burned-out mind

Because I can't quite tell if the horse is dead yet ... I thought I'd give it another swift kick.

This art of finding the "perfect home" I've deemed is a huge waste of time. Because we spent another fine weekend looking at houses ... and didn't find a single "perfect" one for the price that we want to pay.

Not. A. One.

The kitchens were too small.

The bedrooms were too small.

The floors were ludicrious. Why would anybody think that white tile looks good with red grout ... in their dining room?

The yards were tiny.

The views of the ocean ... if the upstairs windows were spotless clean, you squinted really hard, and the leaves on the trees were aligned JUST so, was questionable.

The price tags of $850,000+ were mind boggling. Particularly when you'd have to spend more money to replace the nutty floor job.

The house-hunting expedition ... which led us all over San Diego County while the kids napped and watched The Lion King twice ... was a colossal waste of a beautiful day. At the end of the voyage, we were again planning to move out of state and buy a ranch in Montana.

Or, completely change our lifestyles so that we could swing THE house we really liked.

Or, scrap it all and stay where we are.

It's a scary proposition to sell our house. A house we know and love ... that we've lived in for the past 10 years .... and can happily afford. Albeit a house that feels very cramped and will feel even more cramped in the coming months.

When I spoke with various realtors and told them that our plan involved selling our house - and moving in to a new house before our baby was born in July - they looked at me like I was absolutely crazy. Especially when I followed that statement up with "We haven't listed our house yet, because I'm a total chicken and afraid it is going to sell in a week and THEN what?!?"

The reality is ... this pregnancy has been completely surreal for me.

Yes, I've had several tests show a positive result.

Yes, I've seen the heartbeat and I've heard the heartbeat.

Yes, I've been to the doctor and seen the baby via ultrasound.

Yes, I've had carpal tunnel syndrome, leg cramps at 2 AM and insane cravings for mu-shu pork.

Yes, I've packed on a whooping 32 pounds, none of my pants fit and I've gone up three cup sizes in a bra.

Still - it didn't seem real that I could get pregnant without medical intervention.

It doesn't seem at all possible we would have four children in less than three years.

Sometimes, I completely forget that I'm pregnant ... in large part because this pregnancy is so incredibly different than when I was expecting the triplets. With this pregnancy, I don't have spontaneous nosebleeds. There has been little to no nausea, little to no heartburn, and although I do get tired in the evening - I credit that to the fact that I chase three 2-year olds all day long.

Six months in to my triplet gestation, I was measuring full-term and was on self-imposed bed rest. I had a handicap placard for my car and would use the electronic carts that beeped when you backed up - whenever I went to the store.

Six months in to this gestation, most people can't even tell that I'm pregnant. Except for the fanatical nesting and mood swings ... this pregnancy has been barely noticeable. But now, all of a sudden it is real.

And the reason is because I feel baby Nemo all the time. He kicks, he squirms, he flips in circles. The other night while laying in bed with the remote control perched on my stomach ... he kicked so hard that the remote went flying to the ground.

At first I was worried and tried to remember what in the world I had eaten to upset my stomach such that it was capable of launching electronic equipment across the room. Then I was reminded of the mosh-pit feeling that had been my stomach when I was pregnant with our trio.

And I remembered.

We're having a BABY.

A baby that ideally, I'd like to have in his own room - so that his triplet siblings are not trying to climb in and sleep with him. (I know for a fact - they will attempt this.)

The other day, I had a complete meltdown in the garage. I had walked out to talk with Charlie, who was in the midst of washing the car, when I spotted a baby mobile. I started to babble where in the world the crib would go - that the baby mobile needs to fit on and I couldn't think of a single place.

Soon, I was hyperventilating ... running in circles and trying to sweep up dog hair. Dog hair that covered almost everything in the garage, including the brand new mats I bought for our kids to tumble on ... the toys that are temporarily on out-rotation ... and the boxes of baby clothes that I'm stockpiling for our newest addition.

A pile of dog hair that was larger than the pile I swept up two days prior and would easily cover our floors, wall-to-wall. I don't know how it's possible a dog can shed so much.

Recently, we transferred William back in with the girls. This is not an ideal arrangement, by any means, but is mandatory when we have people come from out of town that sleep on the pull-out couch in William's room. Because we have people lined up to visit from now until the end of April - we've decided to leave William in with the girls rather than break down and move his crib five separate times.

Which means - nap time has once again, turned in to a free for all.

Even though the new baby will sleep with us for a while in the beginning, I don't plan on keeping him in our room indefinitely. So - unless I want to wedge another crib in to a 10x10 room and have an infant sleep next to a toddler (makes me shudder thinking of the sleeping schedules) ... the only other option is to keep William in with the girls.

Which means - nap time will remain a free for all.

The morale of this story is that we need to move in to a larger house.

And don't even get me started on the toys that overflow from our house to our garage, to our backyard to our car. I seriously don't know how they have so many toys - since I never buy them. It's like they're breeding and multiplying ... almost worse than dog hair.

But, unless we want to return to work, more than full-time for at least one of us (hence requiring us to bring in additional help during the day), we need to stay right where we are.

I've decided it will never be an easy time to move. I can't imagine it will be any easier with four children, as opposed to three. Not next year, not two years from now. Probably not five years from now - provided I last that long and don't implode.

And when we do move ... unless we plan to move out of California ... we need to be prepared to spend a fortune on a house. That's the plain and simple harsh reality of the real estate market.

If we stay where we are for the next few years - we can both continue to work 20 hours a week. We can take off for the beach at 11 AM on a Wednesday. Or, go to the Zoo at 2 PM on a Friday.

Best of all, we can raise our children - together.

Although, I wonder if we have it in us to remain cramped for a few years so that we can continue working part-time and spend this time with our children before they head off to school.

That is the question.

For the next month, we're going to ramp up our work hours so that we are bringing in the kind of money necessary to support the mortgage if we were to move in to THE house. Because, we want to see what kind of change our work schedule would make to our daily lives and the amount of time we have available with the kids ... if we're working 15-20 additional hours a week. The extra money that we bring in - we'll apply to our current mortgage, so it will be paid off that much faster.

Unless, we decide that we really need a vacation and head off to Hawaii.

And, wouldn't that be wonderful?!

To have the kind of flexibility that we could take incredible vacations with our family and not be tied to a mortgage payment??

Wouldn't it be glorious to take off on a moment's notice and go somewhere grand??

Because - after having gone out a total of three times to dinner and a movie since our children have been born (without them), we might be struck with the desire to jet set all over the world. Even though the thought of leaving the City without them makes me queasy.

After hosting a triplet playdate at our house a few weeks ago and watching 4 sets of 2-year old triplets play in our bathroom ... I questioned, again, how much space we really need.

If I can fit 12 2-year olds in a tub ... or have my trio sleep in diaper boxes ... I again wonder if my priorities for having a BIG house are in the right place.

There is a feeling of peace that comes with knowing we can live in San Diego, but don't have to work all the time to make ends meet.

That feeling of peace is slowly rapidly eroded when I think of where the crib and baby mobile will go. And when I see Elizabeth climbing out of her crib carrying me a dirty diaper - that belongs to her brother. Removed by his other sister. Who is in his crib.

That's my cue. The kids are up from their 25-minute nap.

Oh, if only I could have a glass of wine.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Morning Has Broken (me)

Charlie and I were up past midnight finishing our 2006 tax return.

This morning, I had a conference call at 8 AM. I had to put my fellow callers on "mute" when ride-on-toy races spilled from our kitchen in to the dining room, where I was set up with my laptop. Round and round they'd go ... and then there would be a bump in to the table leg, and milk would slosh from my Special K on to my Day Planner.

Charlie eventually corraled the kids back in to the kitchen, fed them breakfast, got them dressed, and as he was loading them in to the car to run errands ... I participated in another call and Net Meeting.

At 11:50 AM, Charlie returned with a car load of famished children. My husband was scheduled to be at the dentist for an appointment in 10 minutes, I had a third conference call scheduled in 30 minutes - with participants calling in all the way from Australia. Days are never this busy - but once in a blue moon they are - and when it happens, it requires all kinds of organization and dumb luck to proceed from one thing to the next seamlessly.

My goal was to get the kids fed, washed up and down for their naps before my next call commenced.

Piece of cake.

I said goodbye to my husband and locked the front door behind him. I then polled the children who wanted grilled cheese for lunch and they unanimously cried "I DO!!!"

And so it shall be.

I buttered some bread, threw it in a pan on the stove and turned the heat on medium. Looking in to the refrigerator, I realized that the new package of cheese was in our second refrigerator - in the garage. I walked 20 feet to the garage and when I opened the door, immediately saw Molly, with her front paw stuck up in her collar, hobbling around.

I left the garage door slightly ajar behind me while I went to free our dog.

Just then, I could hear the pitter patter of little feet coming down the hall, looking for me, and before I could do or say anything, I heard the door close and the "CLICK" of the push-button lock.

Our three children were in the house by themselves.

The stove was on.

The front door was locked.

The garage door was locked.

All of the windows were locked.

I had no cell phone or means of calling Charlie and telling him to come back with the keys.

I was in the garage with a happy dog and a Costco-sized package of cheese slices.

And, almost instantly ... a pair of dirty underwear.

Taking a deep breath and spotting a shovel that I was fully prepared to use to break out a window and hoist my pregnant self through ... I walked around the back of the house. I checked the sliding glass doors and much to my relief - our bedroom door was open. I'm not sure how or why ... and I don't care ... because I always lock the house up at night and had not had an opportunity to open any of the doors yet.

While I darted inside to a smoking pan, I couldn't help but think "What If."

If the door hadn't been open, I would have smashed a window with the shovel. Although, I'm not sure if I would have done this before or after I ran to our neighbors house and used their phone to frantically call Charlie. Even though he was only 3-miles away ... I doubt he would have heard my screaming.

The lesson learned from this experience is that we should leave a key outside in a secure spot should one of us ever get locked out of the house, again. Particularly when our three children are inside - with a stove on.

The other lesson learned from this experience is that if we moved in to the new house ... I would have no need to go outside to fetch cheese from our second refrigerator. Because, the new house has space for a second refrigerator off the massive pantry. And in the event there was a fire ... our kick-ass interior sprinkler system would activate and save the day.

Not that these facts alone are justification to move in to the new house ... but, they are certainly something to consider. Now that I am breathing normally, again.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

the family weighs in

This past weekend, Poppa Alex flew in from Arizona to lend his parental wisdom on our most recent quandry. Charlie called his dad on Tuesday night to tell him that we were seriously contemplating purchasing a new house, and it would be great if he and his dad could have some face-time.

By Saturday afternoon ... Poppa Alex was here.

One of the great things about this blog is that our friends and families are totally in-tune with our lives. Infact, they are dialed-in to the challenges and decisions we are facing each-and-every day, because that's usually the stuff I write about.

Fortunately, because of this blog, Poppa Alex already knew alot of the background on why we feel compelled to move. He knew about the house across the street ... the concerns with taking on more debt than we might possibly should ... and how our seemingly dwindling home is slowly driving me clinically insane, despite my best attempts at embracing a small space.

So, rather than spend a lot of time catching him up to speed on WHY we need to move ... we were able to spend a lot of time watching the kids play with the fuzzy scarves, shiny pocketbooks and beaded necklaces that Grandma Kathleen sent. Yet as much as the children loved their new toys, for the first time ever - they were more enamored with having a new person in the house that they could follow in to the bathroom and have read to them.

After visiting with Poppa Alex for a while, Charlie and his dad went to look at the new house we are considering.

The brand spanking new house that is on a cul-de-sac and backed up to preseve land that will never be developed.

A 3,200-square foot sprawling one-story with 5 bedrooms and 3.5 baths that is surrounded by beautiful parks, and some of the best schools in San Diego.

Equipped with an interior fire sprinkler system, the most gorgeous gourmet kitchen I've ever imagined and a laundry room that is the size of our current nursery. Not to mention a three car garage and a walk-in pantry that could double as a sixth bedroom.

A home that costs almost twice what our current home would sell for - giving us a mortgage payment almost three times what we are currently paying. But man oh MAN is it nice.

Poppa Alex even thought so.

After seeing the house, discussing finances, and gushing over how we would have wonderful parties for years and years to come around the 8-foot center island ... Poppa Alex thinks that we should wait for at least a year until we move. Not because this house is ridiculously expensive (which it is) ... but because I am 6-months pregnant and putting our house up for sale within the next few days seems ludicrious. Especially when we might have to get it ready for potential buyers on a moment's notice ... when it looks like this.

My mother, who has been religiously reading my blog while vacationing in Florida, has been calling every couple days to inquire if we've made a decision, and then adds her two cents. "You're absolutely crazy to consider moving and should stay right where you are and pay off your current mortgage, completely! But, I say nothing."

My friends tell us to DO IT.

Our family tells us to WAIT.

My boss told me that I have job security for at least the next 30 years (the term of the mortgage) and if we do buy this house, he wants to come to a lavish party.

Our tax accountant thinks this new house is doable, but we we might be biting off a bit too much since we're both planning to continue working part-time.

Our realtor wants to show us other houses that might be a good intermediary step. Provided I wanted to move now ... and then, again at some later time. Which I don't. Moving is physically and financially draining and a complete hassle. I'd be perfectly happy staying where we are - if we only had the room.

In hindsight ... we went about this house buying stuff all wrong.

What we should have done ... is figure out what we can comfortably afford and then look at homes in that price range. Instead, we looked at a dream house and are now trying to figure out how we can afford it. At this point in the game, all the other homes that we can comfortably afford look like crack-houses.

In defense of this back-asswards approach I would like to add that we have found a house that we could truly see ourselves living in ... forever. Therefore, although it might be a financial stretch now, eventually ... in say, 10 years ... we will undoubtedly feel comfortable with the expense. Provided our children don't need braces. Or glasses. Or new shoes. Or, have any desire to go to college.

Besides, if we're going to move ... I've decided that this is the new sink I want. I could put all four kids in it ... should our other two bathtubs, or whirlpool tub, be unavailable.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Nudists on the loose

I was scrolling through some old pictures today and found it humorous that not quite a year ago, one of my greatest challenges involved trying to keep our babies off the coffee table.

Less than a year later, I've pretty much given up on trying to keep the children off the coffee table. Now one of my greatest challenges involves trying to keep their clothing, or at least a diaper, on ... while on the coffee table.

I can only imagine what this next year has in store for me...

Hopefully, it will involve only a very small number of puddles and slick spots on the floor.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

One boy, boy for sale. He's going cheap.

I worked from the house for part of the day today while Charlie was on kid-duty. By 8:30 AM, he leaned his head in to my office (aka: dining room) and asked how much I thought a set of cute triplets would fetch us on e-Bay.

From the moment William came out of his crib this morning, he has been a terror. Infact, if this keeps up tomorrow, I'm taking him to a church to have him dunked in Holy water to rid him of the poltergeist that has obviously inhabited his body.

He would throw himself on the floor in a full body temper tantrum if anyone so much as looked at him. He wanted more pancakes - but when I gave him more pancakes - he threw his plate across the table and screamed. He'd kick his legs when you'd try to pick him up, he'd kick his legs when you tried to put him down. Forget about trying to get him dressed ... there was no way he was going to wear anything. When his sister's came within two-feet of him ... he would run at them with his arms flailing and fists clenched.

Truly, a joy to be around.

At one point, he noticed that he had a microscopic scratch on his hand that needed a boo-boo bunny. No, it needed a band-aid. AND a boo-boo bunny. But not the blue boo-boo bunny, the yellow one.

No, the blue one.

He had an even more microscopic cut on his foot that needed a boo-boo bunny. The yellow one AND the blue one. And, the boo-boo bear. And a band-aid. But, it was only after a solid 45-minutes of trying everything under the sun to appease him ... that I figured out what he needed. Oddly enough, I have a really hard time deciphering "MOMMY. NOOOOOO!!!!!"

When his demeanor had not improved throughout the morning or after his nap, and I could see Charlie was at his wits end, I loaded him in his carseat and took him with me to the office for the rest of the day.

That's right.

I took the suddenly ghoulish child with me to work - leaving Charlie at home with our two angelic daughters - who were still sleeping. That act alone, should alleviate me of any guilt, when I request that my husband fetch me chicken chow-mein at 10:49 PM ... or startle him awake with "HOLY SH*T, I'M DYING!!!" at 2:15 AM when I need him to massage out the intense leg cramps that paralyze me.

Although William's attitude slightly improved while at the office ... I've decided it's really hard to get any work done with a 28-month old child running free. While I took 3 minutes and 17 seconds to print out a few documents ... William got a hold of a red indelible magic marker and painted warstripes on his face. He then unloaded a box of 5,000 rubber bands on the floor, removed a large portion of soil from my potted plant, called someone in India, dumped a box of binder clips in to the printer tray, and unraveled 25 meters of double-sided scotch tape.

In 3 minutes and 17 seconds.

When I came home from the office with William and his warstripes, the girls were happily playing with their dolls and Charlie was savoring an afternoon cup of coffee. Apparently, he had enjoyed a long bike ride with them earlier, in the new bike trailer.

I need to come up with something better than chinese food and a massage.

William returned to his possessed self as soon as we stepped foot in the door. Tonight, we had all three of them fed and in bed by 6:25 PM. Approximately an hour earlier than normal.

Perhaps William is taking out his frustration at me for trying to save a buck by giving him another hair cut yesterday. I'm actually afraid to post pictures of what I did to my beautiful son's golden locks. Luckily - he looks good in a hat.

But, if we are ever going to make the mortgage payment on the new house we're making an offer on this weekend ... every dollar counts. And if William doesn't shape up, and a dip in Holy water doesn't help, he might find himself on e-Bay by Saturday.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Actually, I DO need that. Over there.

At around the same time our children were stable enough on their feet, such that they no longer had to hold on to the wall to balance themselves, they have used their little hands to collect things.

Each and every day, they will either push around a cart that is chock full of goodies, or, they will carry around buckets and bags that they will stuff with Legos, books, blocks, snails, crayons, sticks, leaves, spoons, dirt, refrigerator magnets, rocks, toy trains, Fisher Price Little People, scraps of paper, Kleenex ... pretty much anything that they get their paws on.

And then, they will guard their stockpile as if their very lives depended upon it.

When my sister, Beth, sent the kids small backpacks, their hoarding skills were taken to an all new level. Now, they are able to put all of their prized possessions in a backpack - which they then require me to cinch up and help them put on - and they'll strut around the house looking for even more objects that need to be added to their stash.

This art of searching out objects that they can carry around with them - is an event that will literally keep them occupied for an hour (or more) at a time. At the end of the day, once the kids are securely tucked in to bed, the art of returning all of the miscellaneous objects to their original locations - is an event that will literally keep me crawling around on my hands and knees for an hour (or more) at a time.

Sometimes, I'll take a break from "restocking the kids ammo" and while laying flat on the floor and watching the ceiling fan go 'round and 'round, wonder how much longer our children are going to find such great sport in making a mess of the place. It is no exaggeration to say that everything at or below their eye level - is strategically OUT of place. This uncanny ability to spread random objects near and far doesn't stop with the house. The yard and car is part of their stomping ground, too.

If I can't find the remote control from our stereo and it's not under the couch, beneath the cushions on the sofa, or in the planter in the backyard ... there's an excellent chance it is sitting on the floor in the van. Along with some Tupperware, a metric ruler, a potato masher and the spray nozzle from our garden hose.

I didn't put those items there, nor did Charlie. We'd much prefer to sit in our living room - rather than in the hydrangeas - watching American Idol. And as it turns out, neither of us think that the car is the most convenient place to make mashed potatoes.

These days, the entranceway to our house is littered with all kinds of objects that I have to pry from our kids fingers on the way out the front door. But what I find interesting is that sometimes, I don't even notice that the kids are walking out of the house with a cache of items, which leads me to believe that they are hiding it. They must be tucking the goods inside of their overalls - knowing full well that if I see it - I'll make them leave it at home. Not only are they pint-sized schizophrenics ... they are pint-sized kleptomaniacs, too.

Due to an unfortunate event, I've initiated a "pat-down" before the kids are buckled in to their carseats. I'd rather know before we pull out of the driveway that the kids have hijacked Charlie's set of car keys ... as opposed to when we are 14 miles down the road on the way to a playdate and my husband, who is now late for a meeting, calls me in a panic.

Yesterday, I took this picture of Carolyn - on her way to the Zoo with Charlie - walking out the front door with a potty chair. If you recall, she isn't potty trained. Alas, not even close ... despite my efforts at getting at least one of our children out of diapers before July. It seems that as far as our kids are concerned, the potty chair is yet one more vessel, conveniently equipped with handles, that they can fill with random treasures.

But if only they would fill it with ...

Ah, never mind.

Monday, March 05, 2007


Our beloved digital camera conked out on me Thursday.

After 3 years, 3 months, 7 days and 5,442 pictures ... I was attempting to take a photo of Elizabeth, looking like she was about to do something, while sitting on the potty chair. The camera made a horrible whirling noise when I tried to turn it on and an even worse coughing noise when I turned it off. After freaking out that I'd miss capturing my child's first evacuation in a potty chair, I anxiously shook the camera a few times and tried again.

That didn't help.

Neither did pounding it with the palm of my fist and saying aloud "COME-ON!"

Luckily, Elizabeth decided that she didn't want to use the potty chair for the purpose in which it was designed. She was perfectly content to sit and watch her mother sweat bullets and question why she doesn't also have a camera phone, or why her father forgot to charge the camcorder.

I may still be lucky enough to photograph Elizabeth's first void in something other than a diaper. I'm sure she'd be terribly disappointed, if I missed capturing that monumental event on film and would hold it against me in her teenage years.

When the camera still didn't work on Friday, Saturday and Sunday ... I begrudgingly made plans to go purchase a new camera, today. I mean ... I absolutely must have a dependable camera. This blog depends upon it.

This morning, the children were playing with bubbles in the yard. They were so adorable, I wished that I could take a few pictures. Figuring I'd give my camera one last try before I sacrificed it to a pack of toddlers as a bona fide electronic "toy" ... I said a little prayer to God.

"Dear God.
I really need a sign. If we are meant to stay in - or - leave this house ... please let my camera turn on."

And then, the camera turned on.

Although I was extremely grateful for the ability to take pictures, I'm not sure I understand the answer to my question. Doesn't it figure ... my hugely important plea to the Almighty One, completely lacks any specificity.

Still ... a miracle is a miracle. And our three children, with bubbles on their chins from trying to lick the wand, are proof of that.