Friday, August 31, 2007

with a quick detour to pukeville

Having only made my theatrical debut today, I proudly present an unplanned encore.

With a re-reappearance of Participants:
Child 1
Child 2
Child 3
Child 4
... with guest appearances by The Dog and Two Crazy Geese.

Scene is at the kitchen table. It is now dinnertime. The family has reunited after a rather rocky afternoon, following nap time. Father had taken Child 1 and 2 to Costco, while Mother remained at home with Child 3 and 4.

While Father was out shopping, Mother decided to take Child 3 and 4 and The Dog on a walk to feed the ducks. Mother grabbed the bread heels that had been put aside, a couple bottles of water, and The Dog's collapsible water bowl.

On the half-mile walk to duck pond, Child 3 ate two of the four bread heels and drank one bottle of water. When The Dog stopped to take a poop, Child 3 ran over and was in the process of picking the poop up, bare handed, before Mother swooped in with a bag narrowly averting a horrible disaster that would have put a prompt end to the outing.

Arriving at the duck pond, Mother ties The Dog to Child 4's baby carriage, before handing bread heels to Child 3.

Child 3 excitedly waves the heels of bread in the air, attracting the attention of several ducks and Two Crazy Geese. The Geese weren't crazy at first glance, but became crazy when they saw a small Child 3 with food and decided to charge.

Child 3 screams and runs the other way - Two Crazy Geese begin to follow - but suddenly, spot The Dog and take low flight in to the pond.

The Dog, who is securely fastened to Child 4's baby carriage, starts to run in to the pond after Two Crazy Geese, before Mother screams a few expletives and steps on The Dog's front right paw, effectively stopping The Dog.

After comforting Child 3 for several minutes, the Mother puts Child 3 down with the heels of bread and they proceed to feed the ducks and Two Crazy Geese, together.

On the walk home, Child 3 wants to *help* push Child 4's baby carriage. Child 3 is weaving in and out in front of Mother, and although Mother tells Child 3 to "Pick a side of the carriage and stay there" Child 3 does not listen. Eventually, Child 3 walks in front of a wheel and although Mother tries to stop the carriage, does not do so in time, and Child 3 falls knees first on the sidewalk. Screaming ensues once Child 3 sees tiny drops of blood.

Mother takes Child 4 out of the carriage and puts them in a baby carrier and puts Child 3 in the carriage for the rest of the walk home. Moments later, Father pulls up alongside and offers to drive Child 3 the rest of the way home. The transfer is made. As Father proceeds home, with Child 1, 2 and 3 and a car full of groceries, Mother can hear Child 2 screaming for "MOMMY."

The car stops. The doors open. Father climbs out, and releases Child 2 who runs over and climbs in the baby carriage. Child 2 seems happy, but seconds later is crying for "BUNNY." As Father is driving away, a stuffed bunny comes flying out the window and directly in to the hands of a now smiling, Child 2.

Arriving home, Child 1, 2 and 3 hack in to the box of dog cookies and feed The Dog at least five cookies, each, before Mother realizes what they are doing.

After a long, long, long time, everyone is finally herded in to the house. While Father is putting away groceries, he draws the conclusion that the freezer on the inside refrigerator is failing. All of the frozen goods are transferred to the outside freezer, while Mother sets about feeding Children 1, 2 and 3 ... and nursing Child 4.

But not before Child 1 does something (who knows what??) to Child 3 that makes Child 3 cry and makes Mother yell at Child 1, because Child 1 is now dancing around like a clown and acting very naughty.

Dinner is concluded and Father decides to make a strawberry and banana ice cream shake.

Everyone is happy.

Before the shake is fully consumed, Child 3 coughs once and then throws up all over the table, chair and floor. Mother and Father look at each other and say "oh no!"

Mother and Father have a lot of experience with throw up. They are both openly praying that this throw up is not the kind that will spread through the whole family and last for two weeks.

Father gets Children 1, 2 and 3 down from the table and ushers them in to the bathroom. He fills up the tub with water and then hollers to Mother, who is cleaning the kitchen, that Child 3 has thrown up, again. Meanwhile, Child 1, who hasn't pooped in two days because they are on a self-imposed poop strike (not to be confused with constipation), cannot hold it any longer and poops in the tub.

The tub is throughly cleaned.

Children 1, 2 and 3 are reloaded and scrubbed from head to feet.

Children 1, 2 and 3 are released from the tub. Their teeth are brushed, stories are read, sippy cups of ice water are handed out ... and Mother places waterproof pads all around Child 3 and hands them a bowl, just in case they were to throw up, again.

Mother realizes that Child 3 has a better chance of hitting a home run than throwing up in a bowl, but this doesn't stop her from hoping

Mother is concerned for Child 3's health, but is equally concerned for the welfare of the new linen set she just sent a small fortune on.

Once Children 1, 2 and 3 are in bed, Mother and Father sit down, look at the shambles that is their home, and discuss how it seems life sometimes appears to be unraveling before them.

They question if it wouldn't be a good idea to fork out the small fortune necessary for daycare. They could both go back to work, make lots of money, and not watch their hair fall out and their possessions be destroyed, right before their very eyes. But then they remind each other that they LOVE this life they have chosen for themselves.

While they are trying to remember why on God's Green Earth they haven't brought in a team of trained professionals to help with the savages children, they eat a bowl of ice cream and watch TV, which is partially hidden behind ten loads of laundry.

Soon, they'll forget they had this conversation.

Until tomorrow night.

on the road to insanity

Because I have nothing better to do today, I am thrilled to present this sequel to my debut "the demise of patience."

With a reappearance of Participants:
Child 1
Child 2
Child 3
Child 4

Scene is at the kitchen table. It is lunch time. Mother is still wearing her pajamas, Father is wearing a bathing suit and his feet are caked with mud. Probably due to the HUGE mud puddle in the back yard that his children created.

Child 1, 2 and 3 are dressed and looking adorable. Child 4 is asleep in his bouncy chair.

Lunch of peanut butter and jelly is served.

Child 1 and 3 eat their sandwiches while Child 2 makes a choo-choo train out of raisins. When Child 3 is still hungry and Mother realizes that they have no bread, because although she bought one of everything in the new health food store yesterday - she completely forgot bread - she distracts Child 2 and swipes one of their PB&J squares.

This does not go unnoticed. Child 2 screams for their sandwich - although that Child never had any intention of eating said sandwich. Mother is in a dilemma because Child 3 will never give the sandwich square back and quickly licks it, to lay claim.

Mother instead makes a PB&J treat for Child 2 using blue tortilla chips which seems to appease the Child.

Although not a culinary genius, Mother is very resourceful.

Lunch is concluded. But not before Child 1, 2 and 3 have covered themselves with peanut butter. Mother gets a wash cloth to clean them up before nap time, and notices that Child 4 is just starting to stir from a brief nap and appears hungry.

Mother picks up Child 4 and becomes aware that they are soaking wet. And then, notices that the wetness is due to a blow out poop that is now covering them and the bouncy chair.

And Mother.

Father, meanwhile, changed his clothes and is on hold in the dining room with the electronics department trying to troubleshoot the fancy entertainment system he purchased last month. He whispers to Mother that he hasn't told them he has 2-year old triplets for fear it will void his warranty.

Mother wipes Child 1, 2 and 3's face and hands and puts them to bed.

Mother then bathes Child 4.

Mother repeatedly tells Child 1, 2 and 3 to go to sleep. PLEASE.

Mother finishes bathing Child 4 and sits to feed them.

After 25 minutes, Mother in her sing-song voice, softly inquires why Father is still on hold when his children are bouncing off the walls.

Father says something, but all Mother hears is buzzing, like her head is about to pop. Mother puts down Child 4 and goes to investigate.

Child 1 is asleep in their bed along with every single stuffed animal they own.

Child 2 is jumping up and down on their bed.

Child 3 is jumping up and down on their bed.

Mother threatens Child 2 and 3 that if they don't go to sleep, they will go in to the crib. The children laugh.

Because Mother doesn't like being laughed at, she picks up Child 2 and walks in to Child 1's room where the crib is located, but then decides that because she doesn't want to lower the mattress which has been raised to the top, nor risk waking up Child 1, she is in a predicament.

She remembers that she has a very small convertible bassinet for Child 4 in her bedroom.

She brings Child 2 in to the bedroom and rips removes the bassinet conversion, before depositing Child 2 in to the tiny crib.

Mother then tells Child 2 "GO TO SLEEP!!!"

Mother leaves the room and prays that Child 2 doesn't get back in to her make-up drawer, again. Not that it would really matter since Child 2 has already inflicted irreparable damage on Mother's makeup last week - when she used Mother's lip liner as a crayon all over the wall.

The same wall that Child 2 scribbled all over, today, with a dry erase marker.

Mother ponders where to put Child 4, who has been temporarily strapped to the changing table while she sorted out her other three children. She then decides to leave them where they are because the bouncy chair is covered with poop - and their sibling is in their bassinet.

Mother also doesn't want to put Child 4 in the crib in the same room with Child 1 because if Child 4 were to wake up - it would most likely wake up Child 1.

Who would then, wake up Child 2 and 3. And Mother would be very sad, indeed.

Mother retreats to the dining room and finds Father has finished his customer service call and is now asleep on the couch.

Mother realizes that every room in the house, minus her bathroom, is taken up with someone sleeping.

Mother asks aloud why she isn't sleeping and why she is still wearing her pajamas that are covered with poop.

Mother quickly gets dressed and then grabs her laptop to complete the conclusion of this theatrical production while hiding sitting in an empty tub and eating another chocolate covered biscotti.

the demise of patience

A Theatrical Debut, By: Jen

Child 1
Child 2
Child 3
Child 4

Scene is at the kitchen table. It is breakfast time. Children 1, 2, 3 are sitting before bowls containing a new organic cereal that the mother bought at the new "health" food store down the street. When they were at the store and the representative was handing out samples, Children 1, 2 and 3 loved it. They couldn't get enough of it. They all cried for "MORE! MORE! MORE!!"

Mother was happy to be buying a new organic cereal that was healthy for her children. Mother was not so happy to be spending $3.00 on a box, when she could spend $6.00 on a box of Honey Nut Cheerios that contains eight times as much, at Costco.

But mother loves her children, so mother bought it.

Twelve hours later, Children 1, 2 and 3 take one taste of their new, expensive organic cereal and spit it out all over the table, while rubbing their hands across their tongues and yelling "ICKY!!" Suddenly, the cereal that they loved the day before, now tastes worse than dung, because Mother pried rabbit dung out of Child 1, 2 and 3's mouth less than two weeks prior.

Because Mother has taken a load off and is nursing Child 4, while Father is scheduling a doctor appointment, Mother sits helplessly while Child 1, 2 and 3 IGNORE their mother's please of "No, No, NO!!!" and dump their bowls of expensive organic cereal all over the table and floor.

They then take their Parmesan bagels that their Father had drizzled honey across - and rub them atop their heads.

Father returns. He rolls his eyes and says "What are we gonna do with these children??" Mother replies "I don't know what YOU are going to do, but I'm going to finish feeding Child 4 and then, I'm going to do a load of laundry."

Father grabs a towel and a mop and cleans up the expensive organic cereal from the table and floor. Father then asks Child 1, 2 and 3 if they would like a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios. They all scream "YES!!!" until he pours the cereal in to three clean bowls, adds milk and sets it before them. Then, they all scream "NO CEWEAL!!" and simultaneously, flip the bowls of cereal over on to the clean table and floor.

Father grabs his head in his hands - tugs at his hair - and bites his tongue to stop from screaming. Mother sits in her rocker with Child 4 and gives a big sigh and then, a chuckle. Father asks Mother what the children should eat for breakfast since they haven't consumed anything. Mother tells Father that she wouldn't feed them anything more ... they are obviously not hungry and lost their chance.

Father disagrees and opens the refrigerator looking for the next batch of food to be wasted. He spies the squeezable expensive organic yogurt that was purchased at the health food store. He inquires aloud "I wonder if they'd like some yogurt?" and the children delightedly squeal "YOGUT! YOGUT!! Me want YOGUT!!"

Father removes the box containing two varieties of yogurt - strawberry in a pink wrapper; boysenberry in a purple. Child 2 demands "I WANT PINK ONE. I WANT PINK ONE!" Father opens yogurt and hands in to the child.

Child 1 demands "I WANT PINK ONE, TOO!" Father opens yogurt and hands it to the child, when the child changes their mind and screams "NOOOO PINK ONE. I WANT PUPLE ONE!!!" Father goes to hand the open pink yogurt to Child 3 when the child screams "NOOOO PINK ONE!! I WANT PUPLE ONE!!!!"

Father turns the pink yogurt on himself, eating the entire tube.

Father then reaches in to the box, removing a purple yogurt, opens it up and hands it to Child 3, who has again changed their mind and now declares, "NO PUPLE ONE. I WANT PINK ONE!!" Father hands the open purple yogurt to Child 1, who promptly squeezes the tube so hard, yogurt shoots out all over their hands, face and table. Child 1 then screams "OH NO!! MESS!!! I NEED TOWAL!!!"

Father breathes a deep sigh, hands Child 1 a wet towel and opens a packet of pink yogurt for Child 3, who has again, changed their mind. Father bellows "NO PURPLE YOGURT. ALL GONE. Here is PINK yogurt. YUMMY YUMMY PINK YOGURT!!!"

Tears spring from Child 3's eyes, drip on to the table, and screaming ensues.

Mother, sitting in her rocker gently suggests that perhaps the children aren't hungry and they should go outside to play. She makes this recommendation in a sing song voice because Mother never gets angry. She is wonderful and looks beautiful, all the time.

Mother finishes feeding Child 4, sits them in bouncy chair, and gets up to clean the kitchen.

Father wipes Child 1, 2 and 3's faces and hands and takes them out of their booster chairs. He goes to get their clothing for the day, but then decides, instead to put everyone in cotton underwear, since they'll be playing in the yard.

Father picks up Child 3, sets them on the changing table, removes their pajamas and diaper and begins applying sunscreen. When Father bends down to fetch a pair of cotton underwear from beneath the changing table, Child 3 gets a hold of the sunscreen container and dispenses sunscreen all over the table and Father's head.

Child 3 is reprimanded and placed on the floor, wearing cotton underwear.

Father runs after and finally grabs Child 2 when Mother trips blocks the Child from sprinting out the back door. Father lifts the Child on to the changing table and removes the pajamas and diaper and begins to apply sunscreen. Child 2 has a toy in their hand that accompanied them to the changing table, which they stick in their mouth and begin to gag on. Father removes the toy and makes an underarm, blind throw behind him, where it smacks Child 1 on the head.

Child 1 begins to scream.

Child 3 wet their cotton underwear and is standing above a puddle that they begin to stomp in.

Child 2 is crying because their toy is gone but then spots the sunscreen stick and flash-quick grabs it and smears it all over the wall.

Child 4 begins to stir from their slumber and starts rooting for their hand. Mother feels the tingly sensation that lets her know Child 4 needs to eat. Again.

Father removes Child 2 from the changing table, while Mother replaces the cotton underwear on Child 3. Father then grabs Child 1 and repeats the process of pajama and diaper removal, sunscreen application.

When Mother notices that Child 2 is not visible, she sets off looking and finds Child 2 in Father and Mother's bedroom with a magic marker, drawing all over the wall. When Mother grabs the magic marker and starts to move Child 2 out of the room, Child 2 says "NEED POTTY" a millisecond before springing a leak all over the floor.

Mother cleans up the puddle while wondering how Child 2 got the door open, replaces the underwear and with a big smile drags walks Child 2 back to join their siblings.

Father then herds Child 1, 2 and 3 outside while Mother makes the beds, starts a load of laundry and takes a moment to feed Child 4, while updating her blog.

Mother hears screaming coming from the back yard. For a moment, she hesitates, feeling guilty that Father is outside by himself in the blazing sun with Child 1, 2 and 3 who are fighting over the garden hose. But then, she remembers that Father is returning to work, full-time, in less than two weeks and Mother will be home, all by herself.

Father opens the door and informs her that Child 1, 2 and 3 have made a HUGE mud puddle in the back yard, have filled their wading pool up with dirt and are driving him crazy. Father tells Mother that he wants to come in side and let Child 1, 2 and 3 watch a movie. But alas, Father is reminded that Child 1, 2 and 3 have pushed so many buttons on his brand new entertainment system, that a picture is no longer visible on the television screen.

When Father says he still wants Child 1, 2 and 3 to come inside, Mother asks "WHY? So that they can drive us BOTH crazy??" Father gives an exasperated sigh and turns back to the yard.

Mother is annoyed by all the noise. She checks the thermostat and when she sees it is 80 degrees in the house, she turns on the air conditioning, closes all the doors and windows and sits down, gazing lovingly at Child 4 while eating a chocolate dipped biscotti and blocking out the muffled screams that suggest her presence is needed, elsewhere.

Mother doesn't have pictures of the breakfast fiasco for this production - but includes pictures of the dinner fiasco, from last night. Also shown are pictures of Mother and Father's new wine glasses. They wonder if it wouldn't be more effective to put a straw directly in to the bottle....

Thursday, August 30, 2007

the transition

We transitioned the children out of their cribs this week.

It only took 15 weeks for the conversion kits that we ordered to finally arrive.

From what I understand, they walked them here.

All the way from North Carolina.

One of the cribs was converted to a full-size bed for the girls ... one of the cribs was converted to a toddler bed for William ... and the third crib will remain a crib for when Henry gives up residency from the bassinet in our room.

Charlie set about setting up the beds on Tuesday while I tried to keep the kids distracted in the backyard. When it was time to walk them in to their rooms for the grand introduction, William hesitated as he walked past the girls room, took one look at their full-sized bed and started yelling "MY BED!! MY BED!!"

When I informed him that was actually his sisters bed and brought him in to his own room (that he will eventually be sharing with his little brother) he looked at his bed - which was no different than his crib except with one side gone, and shook his "Nooooo. Dat bed is TINY. My bed da BIG bed!!"

I could see it in his eyes. "Oh, you silly fool. You don't know what you are talking about!!"

That's when I knew we were in trouble.

That's when I cursed myself for breaking the triplet cardinal rule "Thou shalt not do for one nor two what thou hast not done for the third."

That's when I started to wonder WHY I hadn't bought fancy new sheets for William - the way I had for the girls - when I went to PBK on Sunday?!

That's when I debated leaving the house, at 7:30 PM, driving an hour north to PBK and buying whatever I could to convince my little boy that his "tiny" bed was really the coolest of them all.

Instead, I tried to convince our son that his bed was AWESOME.

LOOK! LOOK!! He could get in and out without having to climb over the side!!

He could ...

Well, that was about it.

William quickly re-joined his sisters and although I doubted that the three of them would ever fall asleep together, my heart wouldn't let me say no. I absolutely couldn't sequester William to his 1/2 a crib while his sisters got to sleep on the bed of all beds.

So for the next several hours, the kids romped and frolicked and jumped and rolled and wrestled and laughed and squealed and had sweat pouring off them like I've never seen before. Every five minutes, I'd poke my head inside the room and firmly tell them "GO TO SLEEP!!"

I may as well have been asking Henry to get out of his bouncy chair and go fetch me a beer.

Finally, at 10 PM after listening to the children's 2.5-hour raucous, I broke up the party. It wasn't easy. There was a lot of crying. A lot of screaming. A lot of tears. William was put in his bed. Elizabeth wound up in the crib. Carolyn was in the big bed. All three of them were completely unconscious in less than two minutes.

Yesterday, William accompanied me to PBK. My primary purpose for going to the store was to return the clothes that I had purchased on Sunday.

Fortunately, I came to my senses and decided that if $35.00 was too expensive for a shirt for myself, it was much too expensive for our children that will outgrow it in less than six months.

I had thought that by returning the four shirts, two jumpers and two overalls, the $300.00 from clothing could be applied towards some items for William's room. And the rest of the refund would be used to pay for a month's worth of gasoline.

I brought William along because I thought that I'd let him pick out his room decor. That way he'd REALLY love it.

After an hour and a half in the store, I could tell that like me, William loved PBK.

But unlike me ... William, it turns out, also loves airplanes.

Because I apparently lack ANY self-control in that store, I now owe PBK an additional $250.00 AFTER my clothing returns.

I owe them a small scale panic attack every time I look at the airplanes on my son's bed and fervently hope that Will Brown's premonition, while sitting in 10th grade Geometry, was wrong.

But mostly, I owe them my gratitude for making such awesome kids stuff, our son's room is now the coolest of them all.

least he thinks so.

And really, how important is food and a mortgage, anyway??

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

every day is party day

I may have mentioned the children's love of a birthday party.

Actually, I don't think that they grasp the concept of "birthday" they just love a party.

Preferably one where there is a cake.

And candles.

And everyone is singing.

We've gone through about 3 boxes of 36 candles in the past two months. Each night, there is a ritual that we will stick a candle in whatever it is that the children are eating for dessert - and sing happy birthday.

Ice cream sandwiches are not recommended as a candle receptacle because after singing Happy Birthday 20 times, the ice cream usually melts and the candle falls down. This might work better in a colder climate. Or, if a child only has the need to sing Happy Birthday once.

Or, can sing fast.
When Carolyn was having a particularly rough morning last week and I thought she might benefit from some quiet time, Charlie took William and Elizabeth for a bike ride, leaving us at home. Moments later, my sister Beth called and when she could hear Carolyn shrieking in the background - she suggested that we have an early morning birthday party.

Hence, I have discovered that sticking a candle in ANYTHING and letting a child sing to their heart's delight ... is a sure fire cure to the common tantrum.

It may seem like I'm rushing her to hurry up and blow out the candle - but this video clip was made with her third candle - after the first two burned down to nubs. The children will turn three on October 14 and I'd be willing to bet money (or PBK linens) that it will take no less than an hour to get all of the candles blown out on their cakes.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

why i must work

After having not played tennis for almost a year, I bid Charlie farewell Sunday morning at 7 AM so that he could rejoin a group of neighborhood guys that get together and "hit" every weekend. He said he'd be gone a few hours, probably home in time for lunch.

Although I've taken care of all four children, by myself, for several hours on a few separate occasions, this was to be the first time that I would be taking care of all four children, by myself, from the break of dawn.

Considering the morning shift is the hardest time of the day, because everyone is waking up - breakfast needs to be prepared - all four children need to eat and get dressed - I need to eat and get dressed - and Henry usually nurses nonstop from 8 AM until 11 AM - it's not an easy job.

Especially since I don't drink coffee.

In return for this grand gesture of being a mother taking care of all four children, by myself ... Charlie promised that in return, I could go to the mall and complete shopping for the linens to the "big beds" that we are transitioning the triplets to, later this week.

Provided I don't come to my senses and instead install steel grates on the top of their cribs to keep everyone in for another three years.

It has been several months since I've done any kind of shopping and after sorting through the children's clothes last week, I was aghast at how lean their wardrobes had become. Although Elizabeth can still fit in a size 2T, Carolyn has hit a growth spurt and shot up 2-inches since May. She is now comfortably fitting in a size 4T, a whole size larger than her once was bigger brother.

The majority of clothes they've been wearing for the past few months are hand-me downs and as much as I appreciate saving a buck when I can ... I'm long over due for color coordinated clothing on my offspring. Besides, I've come to accept that there is something about Fall and the migration of kids back to school, that awakens the shopping giant within me.

The children were calling for me seconds after Charlie walked out the door. I quickly got dressed, throwing on the same pants I had on from Saturday and brushed my teeth. I then got the triplets up - changed their diapers - got them dressed, and started to make breakfast, all the while nursing a ravenous Henry.

While I was cooking oatmeal, I looked outside and watched the blue sky turn dark gray before it began spitting drops of rain. Moments later, it was pouring. It never rains in San Diego in August. At least I don't remember it ever raining in San Diego in August, and I've lived here for 13 years. So that must make me some kind of meteorological expert.

Another 20 minutes later and Charlie walked back in to the house dripping wet.

That concluded his Sunday outing.

Now, it was my turn.

Skipping my morning shower because I had no time to spare, I loaded up Henry and took off for the mall. By this time, the rain had stopped, the clouds had cleared, the sun was shining, the baby was sleeping, and I was leaving a house where three children were in the midst of huge temper tantrums and oatmeal was caking the walls and floor.

All was good in my world.

Except in my haste to leave before Charlie changed his mind, I forgot to put on deodorant. Or, brush my hair. Or change my pants that I had been wearing the day before and which were spattered with spit up. And something, unrecognizable, that the children had wiped on my leg.

I may not have looked that good, but I was feeling great.

Arriving at the mall, I made a quick detour in to The Children's Place. This wasn't a scheduled stop, but the sign out front advertised "SALE!" so I couldn't not look.

Nine pants, four skirts, twelve shirts, three belts, three sweaters, six pajamas and a Halloween costume later ... I left The Children's Place.

The good news - I saved 10% off my purchase because I opened a charge account.

The bad news - 10% didn't even cover the sales tax.

More bad news - my cell phone battery died, so I couldn't call Charlie and inform him of how adorable our children were going to look as we head in to the Spring of 2008 and how he might need to pick up a second job.

I skipped to the car, dropped off my goods, nursed Henry - changed a diaper - and skipped back in to the mall. Because I was planning to purchase bedding for the full bed we're converting one of the girl's cribs to later this week, and PBK was on the opposite side of the mall from where I had parked, I decided to bring our double BOB stroller that was in the car. Henry could catch a ride (outside of the Bjorn for once), and I would have cargo space to transport my purchases.

A few years ago, I never would have imagined that I would get so excited about purchasing something for someone other than me. But when I walked in to PBK with a $50.00 rewards check in hand, I felt like it was my birthday.

I absolutely adore that store. I adore it so much, I wonder if there isn't a 12-step program out there for people like me.

Walking in to the high quality children's furniture-linen-toy mecca of the world, I was stopped by a sales associate that commented on how tiny Henry looked in such a great big stroller. She laughed when I told her that my primary purpose for transporting him in the stroller was so I could have the space for toting merchandise.

Soon, she was showing me the wonderful Emma Dot Collection. The quilt, the matching shams, the throw pillows, the dust ruffle, the night light, the duvet covers ... and the assortment of sheets - solid hot pink, light pink gingham, light green gingham - that all went so well together.

So well that I couldn't make up my mind and ended up loading all three sheet sets on top of the BOB. Because what if I needed to change sheets in the middle of the night? Don't I need a back-up set of sheets??

Or two??

My sales associate, Grace, and I spent the better part of two hours together. We were looking at different combinations of fabric and furniture, and the next thing I know, we've wandered over to the clothing section.

Sensing that I needed some time to remember my credit limit browse, Grace made three separate trips to bring my linens (and every single accessory that matched the bedding) to the register. Meanwhile, I set about gleefully picking out coordinated outfits for our children.

As I was perusing, a well dressed woman approached me and cautiously asked if I was Jen. My first thought was that Charlie, who has a sixth sense about the financial damage I am capable of inflicting whenever I go shopping alone - particularly when I run out of the house wearing the clothes I wore the day before - had put out an APB once he couldn't reach me on my cell phone. In my mind, I was formulating a response for why it was critically important that our children wear beautifully coordinated outfits and sleep on the finest of linens.

In three separate colors.

With matching shams, throw pillows, dust ruffle and night light.

Instead, I met Christy - a woman who lives in San Diego and recognized me from my blog.

She recognized me.

Considering I've posted very few picture of myself and the last photo had the caption "Death Warmed Over" I think it is high time my sister-in-law Kathy, stop her idle threats of nominating me for "What Not To Wear" and call the producers, immediately.

If there is anyone who needs a fashion makeover - it's got to be me. These days, my idea of dressing up is wearing my black sweat pants with a button down shirt. But, I probably wouldn't be a good candidate for the show since my fear of flying is at an all time high and my fear of a 360-degree mirror is even worse.

I was dumbfounded and extremely flattered that someone, other than my mother and I, finds enjoyment from this little hobby of mine. And then, I was flabbergasted and extremely disturbed that I let myself walk out of the house looking like I had run away from three toddlers who were in the midst of throwing a fit and oatmeal all over creation.

As I was talking to Christy, I was admiring her neatly styled hair, pressed pants and shirt, sandals and manicured nails. Since Christy is the mother of 2.5-year old twins, if she can look that good - I should at least be capable of brushing my hair.

After another hour at the PBK, and in dire need of an intervention, I made my way to the cash register and checked out. My $50.00 rewards barely covered the cost of the throw pillows.

I was handed my bags and a receipt that was longer than Henry.

I put two bags on top of the stroller and two bags inside. Little Henry had to be evicted just to make room for my spoils and the strap from my diaper bag was used as a tether to hold everything in. There were bags underneath the stroller and I had a bag hanging from each arm.

While I walked through the mall, I could see people staring. Since Henry was strapped to my chest and not visible behind all the bags, I saw several people point and I could imagine they were thinking "That right there ... that's a person who is totally out of control. For goodness sake, she doesn't even have a BABY!"

When I arrived home and carried in the 10 or so bags from my day at the mall, Charlie lamented that he hasn't been clothes shopping for himself in over a year, we have been sleeping on the same sheets since the last millennium, and his shoes have holes in them. While I considered what he said, it dawned on me that this was the first time I've ever spent so much money (in a store) on something that wasn't for me. Or my husband.

Charlie added that although he is glad I went shopping, he doubts that he would have spent quite so much money. Apparently, my husband possesses more self-control and financial savvy than I do.

Or at least that's what I thought until yesterday.

On Monday, we went to a play date at the home of some fellow triplets. While we were there, we coveted spotted several toys that our children do not have. There was a playhouse and a large slide that our children swarmed for several hours. And then there were a plethora of ride on toys. And a swimming pool with jacuzzi.

At one point, Charlie pulled me aside and said that for our children's birthday, he'd like to see about buying a playhouse for our yard. He then added that in order to accommodate the playhouse that he has in mind, we need to break out our existing patio, re-route our sprinkler system, re-do the drainage and carve out a play area on our lawn with a bark base and railroad tie perimeter. We will also need to have a new patio installed with a built-in gas barbecue, fire pit, awning, and exterior stereo system ... so the children can listen to Veggie Tales, in surround sound, while they frolic in the yard and he cooks them hamburgers on "our" new grill.

When I mentioned that the money I'd spent yesterday was negligible compared to what he had in mind, he gave a deep sigh and said "Well Jen, everything I do - I do for our children."

Ah, but of course.

It's for the children.

Those little people that live in our house, eat our food, draw on our furniture, keep us awake at night, make small scale disasters everywhere they go ... and are the very reason Charlie and I will still be working when we are 80.

Thankfully, they bring us joy.

And since they've reached the SCREAMING phase, a bit of hearing loss, too.

Monday, August 27, 2007

the highlight of their weekend, week, YEAR

Two days later and they still haven't stopped talking about Shamu.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

cleaning my closet

Yesterday, I cleaned out my closet.

This was the first time I have attempted such a feat in over ... let's see, we moved in to this house in 1997 and this was the first time I've really cleaned it out since then.

I once read that if you don't use something for three years, you should discard it. Applying that principle yesterday, I had piles upon piles of clothes that I pulled out for Goodwill.

I had a few more piles of clothes that I thought about donating to Goodwill, but then decided to keep, because they looked so good on me when I was able to fit in them 10 years ago, and eventually, I will be back to a weight where I can wear them.

I'm really not a pack rat since I don't have enough space in our small house to neatly store mementos away and I cannot tolerate clutter. Still, there were several things I found in my closet that I had a hard time discarding.

I found the handwritten instructions from our doctor outlining the medication and surgical timing for our third IVF cycle. I don't recall tucking those instructions in to a shoe box, but there they were. Since the third IVF cycle was our charm - I decided to snap off a picture of this handwritten note, for posterity, before I chucked the note in the trash.

I found my Nikon camera. This was a Christmas gift that Charlie gave to me in 1996. For the past three and a half years, it has been on the top shelf of my closet, buried under miscellaneous hats. When I took it out of it's dusty case, and found three rolls of undeveloped film (containing who knows what) and a couple extra rolls of 35 mm film, I was immediately thankful for digital photographic technology.

At the moment, I have 7772 digital pictures on our computer. I also have three shoe boxes full of pictures that have yet to be sorted or placed in photo albums. That doesn't even include the 500+ photographs that I need to go through and organize from our wedding day 13 years ago.

That's right. I still haven't put together our wedding album.

It's on my To-Do list ... along with potty training the triplets, getting a quote from a diaper service (just in case I still have four children in diapers at Christmas), completing our wills and losing enough weight so I can fit in to clothes from 10 years ago.

I'm guessing that I take on average, ten photos a day. It gives me an anxiety attack thinking of how overwhelmed with pictures I would be if I didn't have a digital camera. I have no doubt that we'd be spending the equivalent of a mortgage payment every month on purchasing film and having it developed.

I'd be totally overwhelmed with pictures that are in no particular order and stuffed in to various boxes, with negatives in an entirely different location. Of course I would try to keep all these pictures in order and matched with their negatives, but like oil and water, eventually they would separate.

Then, I'd be holding on to thousands of negatives, wrapped up with a rubber band, that I doubt I'd ever use ... but wouldn't want to throw away, because negatives are one of those things you're never supposed to discard. Like owners manuals. We still have the owners manuals for everything we've ever purchased ... ranging from our VCR (that still flashes 12:00) to our stapler.

Suffice to say, without our digital camera, we'd be missing a lot of photo opportunities because I wouldn't want to waste film. I mean seriously, would I take a picture of Sharpie scribbles on our dining room table* or poop floating in a pool? Or for that matter, a handwritten note regarding my medication protocol for our third round of IVF??

It's quite unlikely.

Although if I didn't have a blog - I probably wouldn't have been taking those pictures, anyway.

During my cleaning spree, I found my dental retainer from when my braces were removed 22 years ago. I soaked it in Listerine for half an hour and when I tried it on, was surprised that it didn't fit me as comfortably as it once did. In fact, I almost broke two of my teeth trying to get it on. I haven't worn this retainer in 21 years, but there was an invisible and impenetrable force preventing me from throwing it in the trash.

Dr. Lewis would be proud.

When I came across the myriad of scented body lotions that I've received over the past 10 years as part of perfume gift boxes, I hesitated. The bottles are so pretty, I suspect they must have been expensive. Even though I haven't yet depressed a single drop of scented body lotion on my body in 10 years, maybe tomorrow I'll be feeling in a dress-up mood, so I decided to hang on to these.

I also decided to hang on to all of my maternity clothes for the same reason I opted to forgo a tubal ligation and scoffed when my doctor proposed a 10 or 5-year IUD, during my appointment last week. There may come a day when my clothes from 10-years ago fit me once again, my teeth are perfectly aligned, our wedding album is complete, we have a functional darkroom, and I smell like a rose.

And just maybe, I might need the spare pregnancy test from the 2-pack that Charlie purchased last October. Because I've decided to hang on to that, too.

*I should have mentioned in my post on Thursday that once I saw Elizabeth & Carolyn's handiwork on our dining room table, I immediately started yelling "WHERE IS THE MAGIC ERASER?! I NEED MY MAGIC ERASER!!!!" Although the Magic Eraser has worked magic on removing Sharpie from our spanish tile floors, when I tried using it to remove the marks from our dining room table, it scuffed the finish. I haven't yet tried hairspray - I'll do that, today. But if that doesn't work, I'm thinking that the Sharpie looks better than scuff marks. So, for the time being (translation: until our children have outgrown this destructive phase or move out of the house - which ever comes first), I've opted to leave it alone. The scribbles in two separate locations, does indeed add a certain degree of character to our cherry table, which was a gift my mother bought Charlie and I when we moved in to our home.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

attention span

This is how three 2-year olds that don't quite grasp the concept of "sharing" or "taking turns" walk one dog.

This is how three 2-year olds while out on a walk with one dog, stop to inspect a spider spinning a web.

And this is what happens to our beautiful solid cherry Ethan Allen dining room table, when the mother of those 3-2 year olds take a moment to update her blog and the 2-year olds get a hold of a Sharpie magic marker that their father had been using the night before and forgot to put in a child-proof place, although that is probably an oxymoron, because I don't think any place in this house is "child-proof" anymore.

I didn't take a self portrait, but imagine me - with smoke coming out of my ears - while 3-2 year olds run around saying "OH-OH!!" and Charlie denies having ever seen the magic marker before. Because I know I haven't used a magic marker since ... uh, yesterday ... when I was sending a package to my mother containing her passport. And I'm fairly certain I put that marker some place safe.

While I'm writing this, I'm nursing Henry. And when I stopped to ask Charlie how in the WORLD I'm going to manage when he goes back to work in a couple weeks, Henry started laughing.

My 7-week old baby was laughing at me with a look in his eyes that said "Oh lady, you are in SO over your head!!"

So, the point of this post is to show you how three small children walk one dog.

And to see if anyone knows how to get indelible marker off of a solid wood table without ruining it - or sanding it down and re-finishing it?

And to find out if anyone has any good tips for how to keep tabs on 3-2 year olds that doesn't involve duct tape?

If you've got any good fast & healthy recipes, I'd love to hear about those, too.

Now I am starting to doubt my own attention span.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

me NO say cheese!

When will I learn that it is not advisable to bring three two-year olds in to have their pictures professionally taken? Obviously, not yesterday, since that's when I made the appointment for today.

I thought it would be nice to have a professional portrait taken of all four children so that we could include it with the birth announcement I have yet to send out.

Similar to our last photo-going experience, the kids did fine for about two minutes and then they all started climbing in different directions. Unlike our last photo-going experience, my demeanor this time around wasn't nearly as pleasant. Probably because this time around, I was only going off of four hours of sleep from the night before and I was frustrated that our toddlers kept dropping their 7-week old baby brother. Fortunately, they were only sitting on the ground, so the fall was no more than 3-inches.

While the photographers were trying to cajole our children with various props, I promised them ice cream cones if they'd be good and sit still for a nice picture.

When that didn't work, I started threatening them with TIME OUT if they didn't sit still and stop touching and licking every.single.thing.

Including the lens on the camera.

I really didn't expect that Elizabeth would jump up and down and yell "Yay Mommy!! I want ME in time out!!"

So if the photography experience was bad for me ... if time out was a better proposition ... than the photography experience was just as grueling for the children. Clearly, my expectations for our little children's ability to sit still and follow simple directions are way too high.

Hopefully, the next time I am struck with the desire to bring all of our children in to have their pictures professionally taken ... I will at least be prepared with nail polish remover (in case William's toes are still painted red) and coordinated outfits that don't make it look like we rode in on a tractor.

I also hope that I won't be foolish enough to think that I can cut their hair in a straight line. Because if they can't sit still for a picture, they certainly can't sit still when I'm coming after them with scissors and an electric clipper.

Unfortunately, I was reminded of that again today, too.

fall 2007 fashion preview

The kids are starting to dress themselves ... which has been an exercise in hilarity. This is what Carolyn came out of the nursery modeling today, following nap time.

At dinner, she was still wearing this get-up. In fact, she insisted on it.

As you can see, this garment is extremely versatile. Depending upon which arm holes you choose to place your legs, you could have a shiort (two arm holes); or a shress (neck hole).

You could, of course, also wear it as a shirt - but that's a little boring.

If you think you'd like something like this and are unable to find it in your hometown, please let me know. I'll be standing by to take orders.

Monday, August 20, 2007

the gift

I am absolutely, positively, inexplicably in love. I never would have thought it would be possible that I'd have enough love in my heart for another child.

But I do.

My feelings surrounding our little baby are so intense, I don't even know that I can begin to describe them.

But I'll try.

He is amazing. He is beautiful. He is pure magic. He is divine love. He is a gift unlike any gift I have ever received and I am treasuring each and every minute of each and every day with him.

Even those minutes that span from 2 AM until 6 AM.

I am extremely thankful for the privilege of experiencing motherhood, with an infant, again. It is incredibly different with a singleton. More different than I ever hoped for or imagined.

I am able to devote all of my attention to one baby.

When I am not wearing him, I am holding him in my arms, or on my lap. Or, bouncing him in his chair with my foot.

Charlie tells me that I'm a baby hog and I can't refute it. Nor do I try.

He is my little buddy. He sleeps in a bassinet next to our bed until 2 AM most mornings. And then, I scoop him up and nestle him in bed next to us, where he remains until we get up for the day.

I don't worry about rolling on to him the way I did with our triplets.

I'm not as completely exhausted with him as I was with our triplets.

I can hear his breathing, even in my sleep. My motherly instinct with co-sleeping that I'd heard about and called phooey before, is firing on all cylinders, this time around.

I nurse him whenever he needs it.

It seems I nurse him all the time.

And I love it.

I love holding his tiny hands and his tiny feet. I love his corn niblet toes. I love the new rolls of fat that are accumulating on his legs and arms. I love his fat cheeks. I love his bright blue eyes, pug nose and peach fuzz baby hair atop his perfect head.

I love his ears. The tiny little ears that need to be tested for a third time at Children's Hospital because it appears there might be hearing loss in one of them.

But that makes me love them even more.

I love the way that his legs curl up underneath him when he is on my chest, resembling the fetal position he maintained for 40 weeks, in my womb. I love that he rarely cries, probably because I am never more than five feet away, but when he does, I love the sound of it.

Six weeks and a few days later, I am in absolute awe that God has blessed us, again, and I thank Heaven, constantly.

I never want this time to end. I don't want for our baby to grow up and not need me the way he does at this very moment.

But he will.

And I am sad, to the point of tears, because I know how fast it will happen. He's doing it right before my very eyes.

In the six weeks since his birth, he has already grown 3.5 inches and hasn't fit in newborn diapers for almost four weeks. It makes me realize just how important it is to treasure all of this. To relish all of the changes, because he is changing so fast.

I am seeing things with him that I didn't see with our triplets.

Our triplets didn't even come home from the hospital until they were six weeks old. And when they did, they were still three weeks premature. I was in a daze of exhaustion and fear with three premature newborns.

I have never felt so confident as I do with our new baby.

At six weeks, Henry is smiling and starting to coo.

He recognizes us and his eyes light up when ever he focuses on my face.

His little arms flail around without control and his little legs work furiously like he is pedaling a bicycle. When I nurse him and he is particularly hungry, his little head bobs like a woodpecker and shakes rapidly from side to side until he is latched on. And then, his eyes will roll back and his entire body goes limp while his hands open wide revealing tiny fingers. He is gaining neck control and will lift his head for brief moments, when placed on his tummy.

He is soaking up the world around him and all of his family is soaking him up.

The children absolutely adore him. They ask for him first thing in the morning and insist on kissing him before bed each night. They run to find his pacifier if he is crying and will tuck his blanket in beneath his chin.

When I hold Henry, my heart aches for more children.

I want to be able to experience this magic ... again and again.

And again.

I wish that I could have had the same kind of bonding with our triplets that I am having with their brother. I wish that I could have showered all of my love and affection on each one of them - the way I am showering love and affection on my newborn. But, then again, our triplets shower each other with love affection that I can't even match.

Albert Einstein once said that there are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.

I am surrounded by miracles. I see them everywhere I look.

It is a miracle that any of our children are here.

It is a miracle that with three two-year olds, that have the ability to drive me nucking futs several times a day, I yearn for more babies.

Charlie tells me if we have more children, we have to get a new car. He also tells me that there are only four sides to our growth stick. From what I can tell, those are his only valid arguments. But then he adds, with four children, we will have lots of grandchildren that we can dote on.

So even though I am holding a newborn on my chest, I'm thinking about how wonderful it will be, thirty years from now, when we can have our grandchildren come stay with us for a few months days.

And then, I predict I will be writing Dear Abby letters for advice on how to convince our children to let me take my grandchildren. They are mine, after all.

But for right now, I'm savoring our young children. I'm also doing my best to savor the moment, which as I watch our babies growing up ... I am reminded is a gift.

Isn't that why they call it "the present"?

Friday, August 17, 2007


When will the word poop, the thought of pooping, the act of pooping ... and poop itself ... stop being the focus in our home?

When will our children be old enough to understand that it is not acceptable to pick up a rabbit poop, stick it in their mouth and say "YUM DEWICIOUS!"?

When will our children be old enough to understand that poop does not belong on their arms, legs, face and/or bedroom wall?

When will our children be old enough to understand that when so deposited in a toilet, poop is to remain in the toilet and is not something that needs to be fished out of the water and held high above their head while they shout "Yay I did it!!"?

When will Charlie and I learn that taking little children to Costco is enough of a challenge in and of itself and doesn't need to be complicated by allowing little children to walk instead of ride in a cart where they are securely safely contained?

Because when these little children are free to walk, they will make a bee-line for the neatly, yet precariously, stacked $119.99 bottles of Dom Perignon.

And the parents of these little children very well might poop themselves.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

ever wonder...

Where the term "sandwich" comes from?

Or, how come young children have enough energy to run around like wild banshees, but their legs go out when it is time to leave?

Or, why you can remember to pack everything that you might need for a day at the beach, and then completely lack foresight to notice something - like say - the water being located a mile from where you parked your car and at the end of the day, your four children will most likely need to be carried back to said car?

Or, why you might forget, at the most inopportune time, that six weeks prior, you had major abdominal surgery. And, you are not suppose to be wearing a backpack, while lugging a bag full of beach gear in one arm, dragging a stroller with a toddler nibbling chocolate chip cookies with the other, and wearing a baby in a carrier on your chest?

Because if you were to remember this recent abdominal surgery, your husband might, hypothetically, be forced to run back across the blazing hot expanse of sand to get the bag and the backpack that you abandoned midway.

Why is it that children, who get carried around a large portion of the time and have their parents wait on them hand and foot, are the ones who fall asleep before the car is even started?

Yet the most important question of all ... where exactly does the sandman get his supply?