Monday, April 30, 2007

it's the little things

The other day, I was thinking about a few things that drive me absolutely crazy. This is a small sampling of what came to mind:

It drives me crazy when I put the kids down for a nap and the girls hop out of their cribs, for the next 90 minutes (or more), despite my pleas to every power in the Universe for them to remain put.

It drives me crazy when I prepare a nice (or even quick) meal, only to have the children fingerpaint with whatever it is I am serving, and then put their plates - with whatever food remains on it - on top of their heads.

It drives me crazy that every time I clean a room, it is reduced to shambles within 5 minutes. Usually less.

It drives me crazy when someone wants something that someone else has - and rather than wait until their sibling tires of that toy, they bash each other over the head with wooden blocks and scream.

It drives me crazy when I give the kids crayons to color with, they feel obliged to color on the table, walls and any other stationary object, EXCEPT paper. And if they do color on paper - it's not the paper I intend them to color on. It's something important like ... our tax return.

It drives me crazy when I find nice "indoor" toys, outdoors. After the sprinklers have come on.

It drives me crazy when we're at Costco and I ask Charlie to go pick up a box of cereal and then, clearly specify "Not Cheerios. Get the Special K with berries in the RED box", and he meets me at the checkout line with a monster size box of Cheerios. AND THEN, has the audacity to defend his position. Because he heard "Cheerios".

It drives me crazy that I don't have twelve more hands, four more eyes, and have lost my ability to put on socks.

But then, I started thinking some more.

I love when after hopping out of their cribs for 90 minutes (or more), the girls finally fall asleep and five minutes later, William wakes up. I love that he will walk out of his room and clutching all of his beloved stuffed animals and blankets will sweetly say "Hi Mommy!"

I love when after I prepare a nice (or even quick) meal, usually before the children dump their plates on their heads, they will fold their little hands in prayer and shout "AHMEN!" and then happily exclaim "YUMMY!!!"

I love when after I clean a room and the kids quickly pull every toy off every shelf and flip the box with 10,000 Legos in it upside down on the kitchen floor ... they will sometimes, put a Lego or two back in the box and yell "I DID IT! I HEPPED!"

I love that every so often, in the midst of chaos, someone will acknowledge that someone wants something that they have. And rather than fight over the toy - they will graciously give that toy to their sibling.

I love that when our children are handed crayons, they will furiously scribble with some shade of yellow, and then stand back and proudly exclaim "SUNSHY!"

Although I can't say I love it, I am impressed that the majority of indoor toys I find outdoors, are books. With all that Mr. Brown can do, it would be great if he could also withstand 15 minutes of sprinklers.

I love that my husband, despite his inability to effectively hear all the words that come out of my mouth, puts clean pajamas on my pillow every single night and replaces the head on my toothbrush after two months. Just because.

I love that although I don't have superhuman powers, Charlie and I are managing to do this, by ourselves. I love that we have the flexibility with our careers that we can cut out of work at 11 AM on a Tuesday to attend a dance class, or 3 PM on a Thursday to attend an arts & crafts class. I love that we can take a long lunch on Friday and ride the carousel, or go for a walk on the beach Wednesday morning.

I love that despite my mounting discomforts of pregnancy, I am able to do just about anything and everything that I want. Except put on my socks. At this point in my triplet gestation, I was on bedrest in the hospital with a drip of magnesium sulfate.

The little things can certainly drive us crazy. But like everything, it's all in the way you look at it.

I for one, am extremely grateful for all of my "little" things.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Another Day in Paradise

Charlie's at a class all day today.

Because I can't stand the thought of being cooped up in the house and time always moves a little bit faster when you have things to do, I decided to keep myself busy this morning.

First, I took the kids for a walk around the block. With two in the double stroller and the third child walking free - with Molly the dog - we did a loop around the block. As suspected, once we were about midway from the house ... I was in such dire need of a restroom ... I thought for sure I would spring a leak.

Trying to get the kids to pick up the pace and move forward 5 feet every 5 minutes, as opposed to 5 feet every 20 minutes, I tried to put my mind elsewhere. I focused on the birds chirping, the trees blowing in the breeze and wondered if maybe I shouldn't plan a trip to Costco, as soon as we returned home.

After a grueling 40 minutes, and trying to minimize small talk with friendly neighbors who slowed down to let me know that I've "popped", we finally arrived home.

With two kids in the stroller - and one free - I decided to load them directly in to the car, before running in to the bathroom - because I know all too well that once all three are in the house, it will take an hour to get them back outside. And because my window of opportunity was closing fast before naptime, I had to prioritize.

Even if I'm in agonizing pain.


Carolyn was the free child.

William and Elizabeth were in the stroller.

Carolyn was perfectly content playing with Molly, so I decided to load Elizabeth in to the car, first. I lifted her out of the stroller and hefted her in to the far backrow of our van and was just about to buckle her in to the carseat, when out the side window of the van - I see William, in the stroller, flying down our moderately steep driveway and in to the street, screaming "Wheee!!!!"

Even though I had engaged the handbrake and had the stroller turned at an angle, he had leaned forward and launched himself off the car.

THANKFULLY, no one was driving down our street at the moment, because by the time I was able to dislodge my huge body from the far back row of the van and run after him - he had bumped in to the sidewalk in front of our neighbor's house, across the street.

When I returned to the car, Elizabeth was in the driver seat, crazily pushing every button that she could get her hands on.

I strapped a wriggling William in to the far backseat, a screaming Elizabeth in to one of the captain's chairs and returned to the garage to get Carolyn.

Although she had been playing with Molly, she became distracted by the new 44-pound bag of Iams dogfood that was sitting on a shelf. There was a miniscule tear in the bottom of the bag - that she decided needed to be a little bit bigger.

In those two and a half minutes it took me to get William and Elizabeth secure in their carseats, Carolyn caused the unauthorized release of approximately 10 pounds of dry kibble, all over the garage floor, with more coming - because the bottom of the bag was ripped open.

While Molly was desperately trying to eat as much of the food as she could, before mean old fat lady stopped her, I grabbed Carolyn and secured her in her carseat.

I then set about cleaning up the dog food - because if I didn't - Molly would have eaten every single kernel that was on the floor and/or came out of the bag. All 44-pounds of it.

Guaranteed.


I made my way in to the house, joyfully planted myself on the pot, and then ... contemplated taking a nap. The house was quiet. The kids were safely contained in the car. There was a cool breeze blowing. We live in a safe neighborhood.

Remembering that we were almost out of milk, I grabbed my purse and headed to the car.

I drove to Costco, after turning off my hazards, blinkers, windshield wipers, heated seat, and stereo (that Elizabeth had cranked to maximum) ... and found a parking space despite the million other people that decided to go shopping, today, too.

I loaded the kids in to the shopping cart and with a list in hand, did my best to steer 85-pounds worth of children and a weeks worth of food around the store. Halfway through my list, I was again struck by the urge to use the restroom.

There was no way that I would leave the kids in the cart while I ran in to the bathroom and there was no way I could steer the cart in to the bathroom, so once again, I tried to put my mind elsewhere. While trying to focus on anything other than the overwhelming desire to abandon my cart and run to the restroom ... I was stopped no less than 10 times, by friendly people who wanted to know if it was possible, our children were triplets.

I was stopped no less than another 10 times, by friendly people who wanted to know how much older our boy was than our girls.

I was stopped at least another 10 times by friendly people who wanted to tell me that I most definitely had my hands full - and when they pointed to my stomach - wanted to know if there was "one, two, or three in there?"

I was stopped once by a woman who asked me where I had found the monster size pack of shredded cheese.

I in turn, stopped a sales rep once and asked where I could find a monster size pack of Depends.

After a grueling fifty-five minutes in Costco, I headed to the check out. I was informed by the clerk that because William was sitting in the cart, with food strategically placed around him, it would be best if I could remove him so that they could load the groceries without running the risk of hitting him.

I may as well have been told that I needed to keep track of a wild cat on a beagle farm.

William was removed from the cart and immediately takes off running away, directly to the food court, while screaming "SHAKE!! SHAKE!! SHAKE!!!"

I abandoned the girls in the cart, ran after William, and lugged him back to the checkout line with me. With one hand over his mouth to muffle the squawks of "SHAKE! SHAKE! SHAKE!", I swiped my debit card, entered my pin, collected my receipt and manuevered my way over to the food court.

I stood in a long line.

While I waited, with a hand on William's overalls so he couldn't run away again, I watched people dash in to the nearby restroom and come out looking refreshed and happy.

After several minutes, we placed our order.

One fruit smoothie. TO GO.

When I took the smoothie from William to share with his sisters, he stood back and with his head down low, would run full force in to my bladder, while screaming "WILLIAM SHAKE!! WILLIAM SHAKE!!!"

I passed the smoothie around to the children to share and made a futile attempt at holding the straw intact so that they wouldn't crush it. My effort failed. Instead, they would suck so hard their heads would tremble and their faces would turn red. After several minutes of frustration, I removed the top, only to have Elizabeth grab the cup from me and spill the majority of it all over her and her sister.

And her brother, who was standing beneath the two of them, in front of the cart.

On our way out the door, and with my children drenched in fruit smoothie, I bumped in to my girlfriend. She has a little girl who turns four, next week. While her mother and I chatted briefly and I tried not to obviously prance about like a racehorse, the little girl interrupted and sweetly inquired, "How come you're having another baby?"

I squatted down and looking her square in the eye responded, "Because God has a really funny sense of humor."

Friday, April 27, 2007

some things defy gravity

There are few things more enjoyable than a warm, sunny day at the pool. Especially when the water has been heated to 85 degrees.

And you are extremely buoyant.

I've been making it a habit to go to the pool several days a week.

Or rather, since I went Wednesday and again today, I clearly see a habit developing.

I'll swim a few laps ... teach the children to blow bubbles ... feed everyone a picnic lunch ... let the kids frolic in the showers while I drizzle shampoo on them ... get them dressed in warm, dry clothes ... and see if I can make the two minute drive home before all three are sound asleep.

Although I may defy gravity when I'm floating in the pool, our children's eyelids most definitely cannot stay up after spending a few hours there.

It's almost as if they weigh 200 pounds.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

some things defy logic

I'm not quite sure how it is possible that I've gained so much weight during this pregnancy. When I visited the doctor this past week, I had almost reached 200 pounds.

I can't remember exactly what Charlie said when I told him, but when I asked him to repeat it, this morning - he responded "I told you that you were a beautiful, glowing, pregnant woman."

That's not what I recall.

I think it had something to do with the fact that we might need to put an extra beam for support beneath our mattress.

My craving for peanut butter ice cream has subsided and in it's place is a much healthier craving for strawberries with whipped cream. And when I do eat, I'm not really taking in that many calories.

For every bite that I consume - at least three go to my children.

Yet twice now, I've had to repair the seam in my maternity pants.

If I wasn't going out to Extraordinary Desserts tonight with a few of my fellow triplet moms - I'd probably opt to wear my mumu. But, it's good to look presentable in public.

First thing tomorrow, I'm going to write a letter to the Gap regarding the poor workmanship in their maternity apparel.

Surely it can't be me.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Laundry Day

There are some things around here that are nearly impossible to keep up with.

Laundry is one of them.

Three two year olds is another.


Unless I fold laundry at night when the kids are sleeping (assuming I have the energy and inclination), then my best bet for getting anything put away ... is to throw random toys in the drier for them to search out.


It's a wonderful distraction.


This diversion is definitely on par with my method of keeping the children happily entertained while I'm on the phone. All it requires is walking around with a box full of Cheerios and throwing small handfuls in to the air for them to pick up and nibble.

Of course I could just turn on the television.

But that would be too easy.

Socialization

Our family, as a whole, hasn't been doing too well in the social arena as of late.

Last week, as I was packing for my business meeting, I incorrectly assumed that I could pull off wearing regular-sized panty hose, despite a midriff that is measuring 46-inches. Funny enough, they fit me perfectly fine when I was standing up. It was only when I would sit down that they would cinch around my waist and almost instantly cut off the circulation to my legs.

Considering my circumference has extended by approximately 20-inches since I've last worn this pair of hosiery, I was a bit uncomfortable and distracted. Because my entire focus was centered on the pain raging around my abdomen, I was completely oblivious to the people seated all around me. Instead of excusing myself to the restroom to remove the undergarment which was cutting me in two, I grabbed a hold of the nylons with both hands, and pulled with all my might until a rip echoed around the room.

Followed by my big sigh of relief.

Today, Charlie and I took the children to their creative dance class. While we stood in a circle and danced like elephants, dolphins and giraffes, our children played on the ballet bar.

They laid on the floor.

They chased each other around a small corner of the studio.

They played with the blinds.

They did everything except dance.

While Charlie and I danced with all the other 2-year olds, who were more than anxious to participate in the class, our children would scream whenever another human being came within 3-feet of them.

I'm hopeful that the kids will embrace this activity, soon. Otherwise, Charlie and I will be the oldest participants in the upcoming recital.

After the dance class let out, we headed over to a local park.

While I chased two toddlers from play equipment to play equipment ... Charlie stood at the swings and would take turns pushing which ever child wanted a ride. As I was running past, I was lucky enough to catch a conversation he was having with a woman standing next to him.

She said, "Hey, wait a minute. That isn't the same baby you were just pushing, is it? I thought a minute ago you were pushing a blonde boy and now you're pushing a brunette girl!"

Charlie responded, "No, this is a different child. I have three kids and each one is taking a turn on the swing. My triplets are 2.5-years old and my wife..." he waved over to me, "is expecting our fourth."

And then he added, "I'm a swinger."

The mother gasped and a second later, Charlie gasped even louder.

He tried to take it back, but it was too late.

"Wha ... wha ... what I meant to say is that I SWING children!! I'm not a swinger!!"

Another couple weeks from now and I guarantee that the convulsion of laughter I fell in to, would have resulted in a puddle around my feet - overshadowed by my 4-foot girth.

We either need to get out more ... or wait until everyone forgets who we are before stepping foot in public, again.

Monday, April 23, 2007

You know it's spring when:

Bunnies are frolicking in our yard...

Only sometimes do you need to wear a hat...

The jasmine and bird of paradise are in full bloom...

Flats of vibrantly colored petunias are on sale at Home Depot...

Amended soil can be found in flower beds, regular beds and on each other...

Our children are on a mission to pick and smell 98.5% of the flowers that they encounter...

Little hands enthusiastically pull up flowers that I just planted are eager to help...

My orderly mind is turned completely inside out each time handfuls of dirt are thrown on the ground and blooms are yanked off a stem - and it takes every ounce of restraint to not holler "STOP TOUCHING!!!"

Ah, yes ... spring is in the air.

If the rabbits don't kill the flowers ... I know for sure our toddlers will.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

They are scaling the walls

Even though we've got the girls confined to their room by a baby gate - they are fully capable of climbing out of their cribs and running all over the place.

At first, I was diligent about going in and putting them back in their cribs whenever I heard them climb out.

With time, I've let them play - surprised that when they were done playing, they would either climb back in to their own crib ... or fall asleep in a heap on the floor.

Charlie and I have talked about transitioning them to toddler beds. Seeing how effortlessly they can climb in and out of their cribs, I see no reason to keep them in, anymore.

But still - I hesitate. I'm just not ready for them to be out of their cribs ... yet.

What happened to my 3-pound babies??

How did they grow up so fast??

Today, after a long walk around the block and a picnic at the park - we came home and put the children down for their naps. That was at approximately 1:00 PM.

It is now 2:30 PM and I have deposited the girls in to their cribs no less than 10 times each.

I have removed Carolyn from Elizabeth's crib (when she was standing on top of her semi-conscious sister) ... and Elizabeth from Carolyn's crib (when they started fighting over a blanket).

I have plucked them off the top of their dresser, three separate times, which they had scaled in order to reach and dump all of the books from their bookshelf.

Transitioning our children to toddler beds is one hurdle. But the thought of our children outgrowing their nap during the afternoon, is another hurdle altogether.

No naps?

I'm suddenly dizzy and nauseous and I can't feel my legs.

And I have an overwhelming urge to drink a martini. Or twenty.

Lucky Me

This week I hosted a meeting for 15 of my co-workers in downtown San Diego.

Because the meeting began at 7:30 AM and didn't end until 6 PM and I would have been faced with an hour of traffic coming and going each day - I opted to stay in the fancy hotel, go out to elegant dinners where I didn't have to worry about the person sitting next to me flipping my plate on my lap or jabbing me with a fork, and sleep in a perfectly quiet environment remain downtown, instead of making the commute.

I left Tuesday morning for my meeting.

Tuesday afternoon, Charlie took the children to their first dance class. But not just any dance class ... A Mommy & Me creative dance class.

Apparently, Elizabeth did great. Carolyn and William, however, hung to his legs and wailed the entire time. Charlie cut out of the class after 20 minutes because he was wearing attire that was not conducive to remaining up, and quickly succumbed to the forces of gravity as two toddlers pulled on each leg.

Wednesday afternoon, Charlie took the children to their third pediatric dentist appointment.

Wednesday evening, the kids came down sick with the first cold they've had in several months - undoubtedly picked up while at church, this past weekend. When I called Charlie, from a major league baseball game, he didn't mention that the kids were sick - because he knew that I would have come home.

Thursday morning, Charlie cleared away all of our clutter to prepare for the cleaning women who were due to arrive later in the morning. While the women cleaned the house, Charlie took off with the kids, and hit several stores to prepare for a scavenger hunt he was secretly planning, for my birthday.

Thursday afternoon, the kids had finally settled down for a nap and were sleeping soundly - and because Charlie didn't want to disturb them - they missed an arts & crafts class I had signed them up for Thursday afternoon.

While they slept, he baked.

I returned home Thursday evening after having learned a great deal of new information and having spent some quality time with my co-workers, that I only see once a quarter.

The house was spit-spot clean, the children were fed and ready for bed - dinner was waiting on the stove.

This morning, when I woke up, Charlie handed me a birthday card. Inside was a poem he had composed full of clues ... leading me on a scavenger hunt to collect the numerous birthday presents he had strategically placed around the house.

A new book.

A new movie.

A set of tiny booties and several onesies for our baby that is due to arrive in a few months.

A new pair of Maui Jim sunglasses to replace the pair that Carolyn snapped in two. Hidden in the same location were a multitude of birthday cards and presents that had been arriving all week from friends and family.

While I was eagerly opening my cards and presents, Charlie was making breakfast, getting the kids dressed, packing a diaper bag - and preparing for a day out.

This afternoon, we had lunch at a 50's burger joint, we then took the kids to the science museum and to their first 360-degree IMAX movie. The children sat open-mouthed and completely transfixed by the experience until the huge fish came swimming out of the screen.

And then ... there was screaming.

Lots and lots of screaming.

Fortunately the tickets were free, because we only got to see the first 10 minutes of the movie before making our hasty exit. And fortunately, it was extremely dark in the theatre, so the other 200 moviegoers didn't catch the free show when William pulled my top down to my protruding navel as he scrambled on to my lap in a state of hysteria.

We drove home. In the rain. We pulled in to our neighborhood and saw the most beautiful rainbow stretch across the sky.

We all took a nap in the car, in the driveway, because we were too tired to walk the 15 feet in to the house.

Tonight, we had a spaghetti dinner and a birthday cake - brought to me by our dear friend, Virginia.

The children sang happy birthday. We ate cake. We ate ice cream.

We ate more cake - even after I accidentally flipped it upside down and it landed on the floor.

We watched the rain sputter out pea-sized hail, that coated our entire backyard. We stood outside, shivering, and questioned if we could ever live in a climate where it dropped below 50 degrees.

We got the children dressed and put them down to bed.

We hosted our small group and we talked about how God is working in our lives. We discussed that as crazy as our circumstances can be - we must always look for the good.

As is always the case on my birthday, I reflected on my life circumstances. Tonight, when I looked at my husband, I know that on this - my 36th birthday - I have been blessed beyond measure and the majority of my wishes have been far exceeded.

Now, if only we could refrain our children from disrobing us, in public...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Jen's A, B, C's of parenthood

Because I'll be out of town the rest of this week at a business meeting - this is a big post which I started a few days ago to commemorate our children turning 2.5-years old on 4/14. Hopefully, it will take a couple days to read, so by the time you finish it - I'll be back from my trip with an update on Charlie and his first week of taking the kids to a "Mommy & Me Creative Dance Class" that I signed him up for earlier in the month. (Considering he doesn't dance and isn't a mommy - I can't express in words just how thrilled he is.)

On Saturday, I started jotting down a few of the things I've learned along this parenting journey. I know I've still got a long ways to go and lots more to learn, but as first-time parents by immersion to triplets, these are some important things I've realized over the past 2.5-years. Because the alphabet song is a favorite in our house at the moment, I proudly present my A, B, C's of raising children.

*****

A = Attitude. Good or bad, my attitude and how I decide to face each day and each situation, is entirely up to me.

B = Breastfeeding. Or, Bottles. Do what works for you, and your baby, and leave the guilt behind. Which ever you decide - or if it is a combination of the two - get in to the habit early of Brushing your child's teeth. (And, then get them to see a pediatric dentist when they are 12-18 months old.)

C = Camera. Our digital camera is my most coveted piece of electronic equipment in the entire house. Even more valued than the computer. I love that it is small enough to fit in my purse (aka: diaper bag) and has the capability of taking videos in addition to still photos. I've snapped over 5,700 pictures, an average of six per day, and have taken more than 100 hours of video footage over the past 30-months. I feel extremely fortunate that images from this precious time in our life, with wee-little ones that wreak havoc every moment they are awake, are preserved.

D = Discipline. As our children have grown older, I'm learning as I go what works and what doesn't. I've decided that I'm not much of a spanker - and when I do spank - 95% of the time it stems from my own frustration. Interestingly, I don't think that spanking accomplishes alot. Instead, it hurts our kids and makes me instantly feel bad that I wasn't able to handle the situation differently. I've discovered that consistently nipping our children's bad behavior in the bud is key because these little people are incredibly smart and will quickly learn that you may not always be consistent. Getting down at their eye level and firmly telling them what you expect and what you will not tolerate, works well. If they keep up with their bad behavior after one warning, I will completely remove them from the situation. It takes a lot of perseverance (especially since there is more than one), but persistence pays off. At least it did with our puppies...

E = Energy. The path of least resistance sometimes involves laying on the couch and watching television. I have to constantly challenge myself to dig deep and find the energy and enthusiasm to turn off the television, pull out the finger paints and crayons, or get outside and explore. I never regret it, when I do. I've found that the more energy that I have, the better I can efficiently burn off our children's energy ... and that's a good thing.

F = Food. We try to offer a healthy and nutritious selection of protein, whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruit with with every meal. Even if our children don't eat everything that we give them - we keep trying. I've noticed that our children don't always devour everything in front of them everytime they sit down - but they will eat when they are hungry - provided they aren't filled up on snacks. With rare exception, we feed them whatever it is that we are eating, which saves us time from having to prepare two - or more - meals to suit their tastes and will hopefully, get them acclimated to eating a wide range of foods. Not long ago, Carolyn wouldn't touch eggs - now they're her favorite. Elizabeth wouldn't touch fish - now she asks for salmon. William ... well, we're still working on him. But I have faith he'll come around. If not, his body composition throughout childhood will consist of pancakes and cantaloupe.

G = Groups. My salvation when our babies were little, were on-line support forums. I visited the Resolve Parenting After Infertility website and Carolyn's Board, every day, and participated in numerous discussions with other new parents. Some of my closest friends, when our babies were young and I was house bound because of nap schedules, were women that I never met and were spread far and wide across the world. As our children have grown older, I have developed a camaraderie with parents whose children are the same age as ours - and we frequently get together for playdates and friendship. The importance of becoming involved with fellow parents (whether online or next door) to share joys and concerns, ask questions and offer support, cannot be overemphasized.

H = Hobby. Having an outlet other than changing diapers, folding laundry and chasing babies has been critical for my sanity. Whether I'm knitting, blogging, cooking or reading - doing something for myself is something I need. Every. Day.

I = Individuality. Spending one-on-one time with your children is important for them and for you, too. Our kids are totally different when they are removed from the "group" and we are totally different, as parents, when we are interacting with one child, as opposed to three. Whenever possible, Charlie and I try to take just one child out to do something special, while the other parent does something special with the other two. Even if something "special" involves running off to the store to pick up more flour tortillas - while the other two kids remain at home and jump on the couch. It's a nice break for everyone.

J = Just DO it!! As a mother of triplets, one of the greatest challenges for me has always been how I'm suppose to get anything done. How do I go to church with three babies? How do I go to the store with three babies? How do I go to the park with three babies? How do I go out to a restaurant with three babies? How do we fly cross-country with three babies? How do I do anything, without another ten sets of hands to help?? What I've learned is that you just do it. If we let our fear of not being able to handle a situation keep us in the house - we'd never leave. But getting out and succeeding, is extremely empowering. The more you go for it - the easier it becomes. And if nothing else, it provides great material for stories.

K = Kisses. Make time for your spouse and find romance. Chances are, the relationship that you had with your partner existed long before your child (or children) arrived in your home ... and God willing, will exist long after your child (or children) leaves your home. I recently read that the first seven minutes of dialogue that you have with your husband or wife at the end of the day, will set the tone for the entire evening. Make it good and greet them with a big hug and kiss.

L = Laughter. Quite often, I am so overcome with frustration - if I don't laugh, I will cry. Like Saturday night, when we went out to dinner with our kids at one of those all-you-can-eat soup and salad buffets and our son took off running away from us, up and down the 50-foot salad bar dodging in and out of the fellow diners, while one of his sisters took off running for the men's room and the other dashed towards the exit. It wasn't until Charlie yelled "STEP ON HIM!" that someone was finally able to slow William down. Instead of feeling ashamed that we lost control (which happens to a lesser degree, quite frequently) and leaving the restaurant - we laughed about, as did everyone else that witnessed the scene. Humor abounds in parenthood. Some parents are so uptight or concerned with what other people will think or are so fixated on control, they can't find it in themselves to just laugh, relax and enjoy the ride. You may as well laugh - because chances are - people will be laughing at you.

M = Music. I've tried to limit the amount of television our children watch to a short video at night while we're preparing dinner. (Although, this has been a bit more difficult since the Easter Bunny brought the kids Dumbo - which they chant all day long). Instead of having the television on throughout the day, we fill our home with all different kinds of music. Classical, Children's, Rock and Roll, Blues, Disco, African Safari - the list goes on. Charlie received an iPod last year for Father's Day that he hooked up to our stereo and every morning, I'll set it to "random" play and enjoy a fine selection from over 4,500 songs. I love that our kids will stop what they are doing and dance to ABBA - and that their faces light up when they hear "The Itsy Bitsy Spider".

N = Naps. Don't let them trick you ... children need their sleep. We were at three naps a day until our babies were 9-months old, two naps a day until they were almost 24-months old, and even though Carolyn is currently trying to convince us that she doesn't need to nap once a day, I know better. If I still need to take a nap at almost 36-years old, I'm fairly certain she still needs one at 30-months old.

O = One minute, one hour ... one day at a time. When our babies first came home from the hospital, I would have panic attacks at the thought of being left alone. But taking every step of parenthood one minute, one hour, one day at a time - has been some of the best advice I've ever received. Realize that everything you are facing shall eventually pass. Although, I recently read that in so far as the toddler years, time might "pass" like a kidney stone.

P = Patience. Sometimes when I lose my patience - I'll start to beat myself up over it - and then remember I need to be patient with myself, too. Becoming a good parent is a process, it doesn't happen automatically, and it takes practice. All I can do is try my best and learn from my mistakes. So bug off!!!

Q = Quiet Time. The "filter" on my life can so easily become clogged with the day-to-day activities of being a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and employee ... that I lose sight of what is really important. When I take quiet time for myself, go to church, participate in a small group, or write in my journal, my priorities realign right before my very eyes. Having a spiritual outlet has been a true saving grace for me. The fact is, I have to believe that there is a Higher Power. Otherwise, I may as well throw in the towel, right now.

R = Reading. You can never have too many books. Each day, sometimes several times a day, I will sit down and read to our children. At a minimum, story-time is a ritual that we have every night before bedtime. Our house is loaded to the brink with various children's books and I keep a plethora of books in a location where they can access them. One of the many highlights of motherhood thus far, is watching our children read stories to each other, just as I will read to them.

S = Schedule. Life works better for everyone when you have your children on a schedule. More than that: children thrive on a schedule. When I hear people say "our children won't nap ... won't eat ... won't play ... won't, won't won't..." I always think to myself, "Your children will. It's you that won't!" Our kids wake up, eat, play, nap, snack, bathe and go to bed at about the same time - every day. Although there are times when we might go to bed a little later or plan naps around long rides in the car, we have found that when we continuously disrupt our children's schedule, we disrupt the routine and consistency that they have come to rely upon.

T = Team Work. I would not be nearly as successful, or be having as good of a time on this parenthood journey, if it were not for Charlie. We go together like Cheech and Chong, Ying and Yang, Peas and Carrots. If I didn't have such a supportive husband and friend, I'd have to call in for reinforcements. I sincerely do not see how any one can raise small children, completely on their own, and maintain any degree of sanity. The time when children are young passes so quickly and parenting should be fun. If it's not - get help.

U = Understand
. Understanding what drives your children is paramount, especially since no two kids are alike ... at least not in this house. With time, I have become extremely in-tune with our children. When they were infants, I quickly came to understand that a baby should not cry uncontrollably immediately after they eat. I came to understand that they should not be awake for more than a certain period of time, before they needed to sleep. Now that we are in the throes of toddlerhood, the better I understand their cues (frustration, fear, hunger, exhaustion), the better I can diffuse a problem (i.e. temper tantrum) before it starts.

V = Vocalize. Unfortunately, no one I know, possesses the ability to read my mind. As such, I have found that when I need help, I usually need to ask for it. If people ask what they can do to help you - tell them. And if no one is asking - tell them anyway. Even if you aren't requesting help - talking through your feelings is extremely important for your mental health ... especially when you have small children that depend on you to be mentally stable!

W = Walk. Ever since our babies have come home from the hospital, Charlie and I make every attempt to go for a walk in the evening. This allows us a great opportunity to reconnect after a long day and has the added benefit of giving us rock hard bodies. (If you consider lava to be a rock.) When our children were babies, we'd load them in to their strollers and set off. These days, it's rare that we can get them all to sit in their strollers long enough to make it around the block, so instead, we'll let them ride their scooters and/or tricycles. Regardless of how we do it, this has become a daily tradition that everyone has come to expect - and enjoy.

X = eXhale. Take a deep breath and then (this is key) remember to breathe in, again. Our breath is the breath-of-life as we received it from God. Whenever I get particularly tense or frustrated, I take five deep breaths and hold each for three seconds and then release. As I breathe out, I repeat the word "peace" outloud. I tried "SERENITY NOW!" but that didn't work quite as well.

Y = Yearly Appointments. I've found that it's so easy to get caught up in parenting that you simply forget about yourself. Although our children are on track for all of their immunizations, I recently discovered that I am 4-years overdue for a tetanus shot and have no idea what my cholesterol levels are. In addition, during my last hair cut, I was informed that it had been over two years since I'd had my hair highlighted. It's no wonder I looked like crap. My goal is to live to a ripe old age, watch our children grow up and meet our grandchildren. I also hope to look nice in pictures taken during my children's childhood. Having the appropriate appointments with my doctor - and hairdresser - are important to insure I meet those goals.

Z = Zoo and Zinfandel. Taking off and going somewhere fun with your children is good for their spirit. Making it a priority to relax and unwind at the end of the day, is good for your spirit. However, if you indulge too much on either of these things - you will end up with a hangover.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Remembering Jeanne

Tonight, I wrote about Charlie's mom.

It was a beautiful post that I cried most of the way through. But just as I was about to save it - my laptop crashed and the entire post vanished. It is now late, my laptop has been catapulted in to the trash thoroughly chastised, I am working off our desktop computer - and there is no way I can recreate my words.

But I also cannot let this day pass, without remembering Charlie's mom, Jeanne.

It was 15-years ago, today, that Jeanne died. It is amazing that it has been 15 years. In so many ways, it seems like an eternity ago - and yet, it seems like just yesterday.

Charlie and I had only been dating for a short time when I learned about his mother's terminal illness, due to an inoperable brain tumor. Jeanne was given a year to live and although it was a very sad year, it was also extremely beautiful that everyone who knew her, had an opportunity to say goodbye.

During that last year of her life, Charlie and his mother would take walks on the beach, hold hands, and tell one another how much they loved each other. Jeanne told Charlie that the hardest part about her dying, was that she would not see the person that he would become.

I know that not a day goes by that Charlie doesn't think about his mom. I know that he wishes she could have seen him graduate with his bachelor and master degrees, attend our wedding and visit our home. But most importantly, I know that he wishes, more than the world, that his mother could have met our children.

Although Jeanne is no longer with us in body, her spirit lives on. Her artistic creations, in the form of blankets and sweaters that she lovingly knit and crocheted are in our home, as are her poetry and handwritten recipes. Charlie keeps his mom's memory alive by keeping up traditions they had when he was young, and he shares stories about the things they did together when he was a teenager ... how she would take him grocery shopping and buy all the best stuff and how all of his friends adored her.

When Charlie's three best friends flew in to attend his mother's funeral and I still hear them talk about her, to this day, it reinforces just how awesome this woman was.

This morning, I was surprised to read the message in Our Daily Bread because the passage was identical to the question I was pondering, myself. A young man is trying to understand why his mother must undergo brain surgery and asks the age old question "Why must bad things happen to good people?"

The response, is "Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" —Job 2:10

It's difficult that adversity can be so blazingly painful. Even after 15 years.

Tonight, I'm thankful that albeit brief, I had an opportunity to meet the woman who brought my husband in to this world and who is the namesake of our daughter, Elizabeth Jeanne. I am thankful that she raised four of the most wonderful, caring, conscientious people I've ever known. And I'm thankful that I have one more, gracious and dignified woman, as an influential role model in my own life.

I am absolutely certain that Jeanne would be extremely proud of the man her youngest son, has become.

He's certainly the most amazing man I've ever met.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Another Good Friday

I had a conference call at 6 AM this morning.

It was especially hard dragging myself out of bed at 5:59 AM, having had only 4 hours of sleep because I was up working on a project half the night that I was due to talk about with my colleagues who were calling in from around the world ... at 6 AM.

But once I was up, as is always the case, I felt like a superstar.

There is something extremely empowering about being awake before anyone else and having a brand new day before you. Everytime I wake up early - I am inspired to do it again the next day.

Until ... the next day rolls around.

And because I don't have 10 people calling in from around the world that are expecting me to be on a conference call - there is no reason, except to get a jump start on unloading the dishwasher, for me to get out of bed.

So, I don't.

Instead, I'll curl up next to Charlie, ecstatic that I can close my eyes for another 90 minutes.

But today, I was up early - and it felt great.

I didn't hear a peep from the rest of the house until 8:15 AM, which allowed me ample time to complete my conference call, respond to the 35 e-mails I'd received since yesterday at work, get dressed and unload the dishwasher.

When Charlie and the kids rolled out of bed - I whipped up my breakfast specialty of Cheerios, bananas and strawberries. I then informed the troop that today ... we were all going to the pool. It is a beautiful blue sky day and because I'd accomplished more before 8 AM than I usually do before noon - we were going to celebrate. The kids love the pool and we love the pool. We especially love it when we are the only people there and it's like our own private resort.

Similar to me wondering why I don't get out of bed every morning at 6 AM ... I wonder every time we go to the pool - why we don't swim every day.

It's perplexing - until I remember that I'm lazy.

While Charlie and I took turns sitting in the jacuzzi, or soaking our feet - as is my case because I don't want to get my core too hot, and watching the kids splash on the steps - the other one had an opportunity to swim laps. (I'm really not that lazy).

We took a break to eat a picnic lunch and I struck up a conversation with a woman (who mom would love) from Massachusetts. She lives right down the street from us, and is the proud grandmother of 2-year old twin girls, who live an hour north in San Diego County.

After talking with this woman for a half-hour about everything from potty training to crib escapees, we were discussing a tot park where she likes to take the twins to play, in their neighborhood. I told her that I'd been to that very park, when Charlie and I were looking at open homes, three weeks ago. And while at that park, we were approached by a family who confused Carolyn and Elizabeth with the twin girls that live in the neighborhood and whose house was directly across the street from the one that we were looking at.

Two and two were put together... and it turns out the twin girls are the grandchildren of the woman I was sitting next to in the jacuzzi, today.

I don't know if I was more intrigued by the notion of what a small world it is, or - that there is a loving grandmother that lives a few blocks away from us, who misses her 2-year old grandchildren desperately when she is away from them ... and has lots of experience with potty training and crib escapees.

My day just kept getting better.

After spending two hours splashing in the pool, we dressed our exhausted kids and brought them home. While Charlie dashed off to work this afternoon, I put the children down for a nap and for the first time all week, there was no struggle.

Maybe it was because they were asleep on their feet after a morning at the pool - or maybe it was because they knew that resistance was futile, now that we've installed a baby gate across the den. Once Charlie and I conceded that the girls were no longer confined to their cribs and discovered that they were stealthily escaping their room and waking up William in HIS room, we hard-mounted the baby gate that was once extended 14-feet to block our kitchen from our family room, across the 6-foot opening of the den.

At first the girls were struck by the novelty of a gate across their room.

That quickly wore off when they realized they couldn't get out and heard their evil mother laughing "HA HA HA HA HA!!!! My little hellions - you are TRAPPED!!"

Back to my awesome day ...

After spending a little time cleaning up the house (for a second bible study group that we will be hosting at our house, beginning tonight), I jumped in to take a quick shower.

When I came out - the children were sleeping , the house was blissfully quiet and my car keys were safe.

I rubbed on Neutrogena Sesame Seed Oil and checked out the tan that I picked up, while lounging in the sun, poolside today. Even though I was awake before the birds this morning, I don't look or feel tired. Infact, I look and feel great.

Kind of like a huge glazed ham.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A boy and his bear

You'd never guess, in looking at this picture of the adorable child sleeping with a big stuffed bear ... that when that adorable child is awake, he himself, is a bear.

It is true.

This peaceful child - when awake - is either the cutest child you've ever seen, or, the embodiment of a terrible 2-year old.

NO!

MINE!

WILLIAM DO!!!!

WILIAM CEREAL!!!!

WILLIAM SHOES!!!!

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

ARGHARGHARGHARGHARGHARGHARGHARGHARGHARGHARGH!!!!

I will admit that when this beautiful child wakes up, and starts screaming, I have no greater wish - than to slip in to a six-month hibernation.

World peace? No.

An end to poverty and hunger? No and No.

Tranquility and harmony, in our little house ... or car ... or shopping cart at the store. That's all I want.

Is it really too much to ask??

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A self-portrait at 28 weeks...

And quite flattering.

No?

Sisterly Love (*In honor of National Sibling Day)

* This post has been edited to reflect my friend Lorie's comment. Why of course I knew that yesterday was National Sibling Day. Just like today, we will be celebrating Eight Track Tape Day. Now, if only I could remember where I put "Meatloaf"...

*********
Charlie moved William in to his own room again, earlier this week. Between the adjustment with daylight savings time and the excitement of multiple roommates, our children have not been falling asleep until 9 PM, which is approximately two hours after we put them to bed.

Tonight, we tucked the kids in to bed at 7 PM. After a half-hour of silence, I heard the girls quietly laughing. When I checked in on them - they had both climbed out of their cribs, with their blankets and dolls in hand, and were sitting next to one another "talking". Although I may not understand everything they say - they have their own language and communicate with each other just fine.

I suspect that they might have been discussing the days events - how their dad took them to the zoo and they ate a picnic lunch next to the polar bear exhibit...

Perhaps they were discussing how much they enjoy playing with their new pink scooters that the Easter Bunny brought...

Or perhaps they were discussing that mom is going to get really mad when she sees we've climbed out of our cribs ... yet again. But isn't it FUN to be FREE?!

I like to think that somewhere in their toddler dialogue - they were telling each other how awesome it is to have a sister and that they will always be best friends.

It is my hope that the bond between our children grow stronger with time and that William is able to share the same kind of closeness ... with his little brother.

Upper cut!!

Hold my hand and come with me ... the best of life is yet to be!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Spring Cleaning: Home, Body & Soul

You'd probably never have guessed it ... but I've been in a funk.

Maybe it's the three "free roaming" 2-year olds that are taking a toll on my existence.

Maybe it's the work schedule that I can't catch up with and the plethora of action items I need to accomplish for a large meeting I'm hosting next week in San Diego.

Maybe it's the unending housework that has completely barreled me over, sprinkled me with dust and a few dozen loads of laundry - and left me to die.

Maybe it's the insatiable nesting instinct to get our chaotic living space ready for a brand new baby.

Maybe it's the pregnancy and a rapidly changing body that weighs 40 pounds more now - than it did last year at this time.

Maybe it's my diet, which although should be packed full of healthy and nutritious food for a gestating body - has consisted of O'Henry Bars, Honey Nut Cheerios and the crust from grilled cheese and PB&J sandwiches.

Maybe it's the lack of exercise. I've given up on the gym, but even brisk walks that I was taking around the neighborhood have become nearly impossible, considering all three of our children insist on "walking" too ... and when I do walk more than 15 feet ... I like to know that I'll be within at least 30 feet of a bathroom because the baby has set up camp on my bladder.

Maybe it's wanting to enjoy every waking moment with our toddlers - and savor every aspect of this pregnancy - but lack the energy to do both - and struggle with guilt because I don't feel like I'm doing either, very well.

Maybe it's the moral dilemma of what to do with our 12.5-year old dog, Molly. As much as we love her, she has slowly moved back in to the garage, full time, because the dog hair and constant hacking - all through the house - got to be too much.

Maybe it's that my feet have grown by a 1/2 size in the past few months and my favorite shoes are too tight.

Maybe it's the lack of "me" or "us" time.

Maybe it's the uncertainty of our future - if we will move, where we will live, when it will happen.

Maybe it's the feeling of desperation, that manifests itself in my very psyche and makes the simplest of tasks - like preparing dinner, picking up Legos, or finding a competent someone to come in and "help" - seem insurmountable.

Maybe it's all of these things.

But something I've really noticed is that there is a strong connection between physical health, mental health and financial health. When one of these things gets out of whack ... everything in life goes topsy turvy.

So in an attempt to pull our lives back in to focus, and after taking a 3-month hiatus, we've returned to church.

We took a break because after six continuous months of our children being sick, we opted to ride out the rest of winter in quarantine. Apparently, it worked - because our kids haven't been ill since February. But because we ditched church, again, yesterday - on Easter Sunday, of all days - to avoid exposing our children to the swarm of germs from other children (whose parents only go to church on Christmas and Easter) I promise to put an additional $20.00 in the poor box next weekend. Really, I will.

Charlie and I are glad to be back at church. Our kids aren't.

Without fail, they will start screaming as soon as we pull in to the parking lot, go completely boneless once we take them out of the car, and scream the entire length of the parking lot - through the church - and in to the nursery.

Even though I tell them that we're going to a party to see their friends, they will cling to us like they are about to be thrown in to a pit of starving lions.

Every week I feel a twinge of guilt about leaving the nursery staff with our 3-2 year olds who are the only children crying, but that feeling quickly vanishes once I catch a whiff of the after-service cookies hear the heavenly music.

Last week, the sermon that we heard was about options. The minister was telling us that in life, we give ourselves far too many options and as a result, we become incapacitated to make a decision. This sounded eerily familiar to the last sermon that really struck a chord with me.

This time, the analogy our minister provided was eating out. He said that people will become familiar with a restaurant and the menu, and chances are - they will order the exact same thing time and time again. They know what they are going to eat before they even get there.

YES. That would be the LARGE MOLCAJECTE. And make it snappy. Please.

So why is it then, that people cannot make a decision about the important things in life?

Like, say - where they want to live?

In life ... options are good.

But
too many options are bad. Which is why I firmly believe that whoever came up with the *brilliant* notion of a 30-page menu at the Cheesecake Factory needs to be strung up by their toes and smacked with a mozzarella stick.

After hearing this particularly applicable sermon, Charlie and I decided to limit our options.

We decided that unless my company relocates us - our best option is to stay where we are. The cost and headache of selling our house, moving, and establishing ourselves in a new environment are more than we want to take on, at this point in our lives.

You can imagine my surprise then, when I told my boss I was "open" to domestic relocation - he told me that there was an excellent chance he could have us in Massachusetts by September.

Darn!

If only I thought that moving 3,000-miles cross-country while still on maternity leave with a newborn and 2.5-year old triplets was a fun time, I'd be all over that opportunity like white on rice. Especially if I wasn't such a chicken about pulling up stakes from a geographical location that does not have a fluctuation of more than 30-degrees in a year ... to a geographical location that can have a temperature fluctuation of 30-degrees in a day.

For now, yet again, we've decided not to move ... not to the million dollar house and not to the house across the street.

We have decided that routinely bringing a cleaning crew in every two weeks is a good decision, because if I have the option of spending a weekend cleaning our house or laying in the backyard and watching the clouds with my husband and children, I'd chose the latter. Even if it means we have to de-clutter before they get here, and they get to do all the "easy" work.

We have decided that because our kids need more organized socialization than what they are receiving at home, I opted to sign them up for two classes: a creative dance class and an arts and crafts class, that meet one day a week.

We have decided to maximize our space and reorganize our entire house and garage, from top to bottom. All of our discards will be sold at the neighborhood garage sale, or donated to charity. (We have also promised ourselves that we will repeat this process every six months.)

We have decided that financial freedom is where it's at.

We have decided to put away all of our credit cards and make every attempt to pay for things with cash. Going through the process of scrutinizing our finances to see what we could afford in a new home, was a real eye-opener for how much money we were spending on things that we don't use (i.e. a gym that I haven't attended in nine months). Because our perhaps "lofty goal" is to own our home (whatever and wherever that home might be), outright, before our children graduate from high school, we are buckling down hard - now.

We have decided that if we need to do work in the evening, after our children are put to bed, that is something we will do - so that we can have time during the day to do something for ourselves ... like go to the gym.

I have decided that my new pair of Keen shoes that I purchased this weekend, are the most comfortable things I've ever had on my feet - and I hope that my feet don't shrink after this pregnancy - because then my new favorite shoes would be too big. (I think it's very odd that they are flagged "Waterproof" what with the gaping holes all around the footbed.) If that were to happen, I would opt to give my new shoes to my mother - and I'm certain she would think that they are the most comfortable things she's ever had on her feet. Even if she'd also thought that they were ugly. Which, I'm pretty sure she would.

All told, I'm feeling a lot better now than I was a few weeks ago.

I attribute the improvement in my overall "health" to having our house and garage cleaned and organized, buying a new pair of shoes which I feel comfortable walking in (while I do fast laps around our house), successfully completing our first entire month of "cash-only" living ... and most importantly, returning to church to receive a huge helping of soul food each and every week.

Charlie and I have come to terms with the fact that there are those things we can control - and those things we cannot. We can control our finances. We can control calling in people to help us when we need it. We can control making time for ourselves - eating right, exercising - and going to church.

There's no doubt - with four children under the age of three - we'll have our work cut out for us for the next several years. But, these times - the magical joy and the sometimes uncontrollable chaos - will one day be a distant memory. So we have opted to write this chapter in our lives as a time when we were happy as opposed to constantly overwhelmed.

Although, I have told Charlie that if he ever comes home again with a 1/2 gallon of SUGAR FREE lime sherbert, because he thought that eliminating peanut butter ice cream from my diet, might help improve my self-image ... the only option I will have available is to string him up by his toes and smack him with a mozzarella stick.

(Which I will then eat, because I love mozzarella sticks.)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Easter Miracle by: W, E & C

Within the past 24-hours:

We came within 30-feet of the Easter Bunny;

We ate a small amount of lunch, threw the rest all over the kitchen and watched joyously while mom and dad cleaned up;

While our mom ran to the store, we desperately tried climbing across the counters to put our hands in the bowl while dad made brownies and guacamole;

We accompanied our parents to our neighbors house for a barbeque - even though our parents have sworn up and down and around the world that they'd never take us to another house that isn't "babyproofed";

(Mom says darn her short-term memory)...

We made our parents publicly repent for taking us out in a social setting before we were 10-years old ... particularly when we tried to climb the 8-foot cat condo, take a bite out of several plums that were strategically placed at our eye-level, picked up every breakable item that we could possibly get our hands on, kicked the cat food bowls, tried to escape upstairs an untold number of times, ran around screaming "NO!!" - just because, and spit out the lovely food that our hosts made for us - all over their clean floor;

We cried and cried and cried when our parents wouldn't take us out of our booster chairs following dinner - so that we could run around and continue ransacking our neighbor's house;

We watched our mother convince our father to RUN home, grab the new movie "Happy Feet" that she had just picked up, RUN back and let us watch television ... in our neighbor's house ... so that everyone could finish their dinner in peace;

We sat in our booster chairs ... in our neighbor's house ... while quietly watching Happy Feet and heard a big sigh of relief from all the people in the room that were over the age of 2.5 years old;

We cried and cried and cried when 10-minutes later, after the novelty of the movie wore off and all we wanted to do was play tug-of-war with our neighbor's ceramic vase collection ... mom and dad decided that it was time to bring us home and put us to bed;

We listened to our mother politely explain that as much fun as it is going out - it is MUCH MORE fun - if everyone were to come over to OUR house for the next barbeque;

We came home - ran around the house like a bunch of wild banshees - and climbed out of our cribs, continuously - until 10:30 PM;

... and now, for a cameo, by Elizabeth ...

I woke up at 3:30 AM, climbed out of my crib - wandered in to my parent's bedroom and scurried on top of my daddy's sleeping head;

I laid perpendicular across my parent's bodies and while kicking my little feet for the next 3.5 hours, contemplated if the reason my parents didn't catapult me back in to my own bed is because they really, really love me ... or because they were too tired to move (?);

The two times I did doze off, I quickly woke up and screamed "BUNNY!", jolting my parents from their shallow sleep, because that rascally rabbit has a way of creeping more than 0.5-inches from my face;

... joined now by my sister, Carolyn ...

I climbed out of my crib, thankful that our nursery is a den conversion and COMPLETELY DEVOID OF ANY DOORS OR MEANS TO CONTAIN ME, swept back the curtain, and joined my sister who had taken full control of the big bed;

I laughed when I saw that mommy was hanging over one side of the mattress - daddy was hanging over the other side ... and Elizabeth was entirely spread across the middle;

Using my highly-developed pincher grasp, I pulled my daddy's closed eyelids open and yelled "AKE UP, JOOCE!!!" directly in to his face;

While daddy climbed out of bed and mommy groaned "Surely it can't be morning yet - is this a nightmare?! We HAVE to move!!!" I climbed in to the spot daddy had kept warm and pulled the blankets over my head;

... joined now by big brother, William ...

I heard a racket - started making a racket of my own - and was quickly reunited with my fellow womb mates;

While our parents tried to keep their eyes open, together, the three of us ran around the house, chasing each other - pushing each other - fighting with each other, hugging each other, biting each other, kissing each other - and then ... we spotted NEW STUFF in the living room;

Apparently, that fluffy character that we don't like too much, decided to pay us a visit. Maybe it was the Easter Bunny that woke Elizabeth up at 3:30 AM!

We rejoiced over our new scooters and tricycle - and the baskets that were stuffed with all kinds of goodies;

We quickly started fighting over our new scooters and tricycle - and the baskets that were stuffed with all kinds of goodies;

With joyous voices we tried our best to say "Happy Eata" and "Tank-YOU Eata Bunny!";

We watched as our mom presented our dad with an Easter Basket that she swears, if she'd had more time to go shopping, wouldn't have been predominantly stuffed with items that were laying around the house or left over from Christmas;

We listened to our mom and dad tell each other that despite the four hours of sleep they were functioning off of ... and their hope that we take good naps today ... watching our excitement made this their best Easter ever.

The fact that they're planning to keep us?

Our parents agree - that's got to be the greatest miracle of all.