Wednesday, October 31, 2007

halloween preparations

Take a ride on the humongous pumpkin slide at the local pumpkin patch? CHECK.


Purchase more pumpkins than there are people in this family? CHECK.


Buy a candy carrier for each of our four children? CHECK.


Procure 16.8 pounds of candy? CHECK.


Coordinate matching costumes for our children? CHECK.


Implement exercise regiment that will be necessary to help lose weight gained from nibbling candy from three of four carriers and all of the candy from the fourth carrier - because that child ain't got no teeth - and QA/QC "testing" at least two pounds of candy from our distribution stash because I would never want to give out sub-par candy to the children of our neighborhood, and consume remaining 10 pounds of candy that are not handed out because there is no way we'll have 600 trick-or-treaters? PENDING.

Monday, October 29, 2007

burned out

Charlie ran a marathon in 2004, a few months before the triplets were born.

He told me that he "bonked" at the 20-mile mark. I hear this is quite common with marathoners.

They're running along - and then - they hit the wall of complete physical exhaustion.

I think that same phenomenon happens in parenthood. I'm sure of it, because the exact thing happened to me, this past week.

I totally bonked.

I was exhausted and overwhelmed. My body ached. I felt a lot like Wiley coyote, trapped underneath a huge rock. I couldn't get out. Worse yet, I didn't want to get out. All of the motivation and adrenalin that I had been chugging along on, was spent.

What was the point of doing laundry? There would only be more to do, tomorrow.

What was the point of bathing the kids? They would only get dirty again.

What was the point of cooking any meals? They wouldn't eat them, anyway.

Why bother watering the plants? The kids are sure to kill them.

Why get any one, including myself, dressed? We'll be going to bed, again, later today.

Why mop? Why vacuum? Why dust? Why break up fights? Why put toys away?

Why bother doing anything?

The energy required was so great and it was nearly impossible to be successful. I might as well try to hold back the tide with my hands. Or blow out the wildfires.

When I imagined myself as a mother, before we had children, I always envisioned a clean and tidy house. I could see our well dressed children that sat down, orderly, and colored with crayons. Or cooperatively built tall towers out of blocks.

Well-balanced meals that our children would actually eat magically appeared on our dining room table, which was free of sharpie marks. I looked beautiful. I was always well dressed and had abs of steel. I preferred carrot sticks over a bowl of ice cream and craved a pitcher of ice tea over a carafe of wine. My arms were never flabby, nor did they jiggle for a full second after I stopped moving. We would all sing "Doe-Ray-Me" over and over again. When the phone would ring, I would answer it with good cheer.

Last week, when I looked at myself in the mirror, I saw a person who looked old and haggard and aged beyond her years. My smile lines were overshadowed by frown lines. Around me, the house was a disaster. There were mounds of laundry. The kids would sit down to color and then break all the crayons. They were throwing their blocks at each other, smacking one another in the head. The only food they would eat were graham crackers smeared with peanut
butter. They would drink milk and spit it on the table.

Not a single person was singing "Doe-Ray-Me".

Instead, I was running around in circles yelling "Holy crap, what now?!"

What. Now.

WHAT NOW?!

The baby was crying. The kids were crying. The phone was ringing off the hook.

I didn't want to talk. I didn't want to listen. I didn't want to do anything, but sit in the corner and get past the first chapter of my new book "Eat, Pray, Love."

While shoving my face full of chocolate.

That's all I wanted.

But I didn't get it. Instead, I got abbreviated naps and another day that was worse than the one before. When we finally did get out of the house, I was approached by a woman at Target who said "Look at all those children, are they yours?! I could never imagine!! How do you do it?!"

Instead of graciously smiling and giving a witty response like "Prayer and wine!" I responded "Of course you would do it, if you had to. Seriously, what are my options? Can I turn them out on the street and say 'You are free! Go fend for yourselves!'? I'm pretty sure I'd get put away for that."

The woman gave me a look like I was loony. Which I was.

I know a Mexican woman with 12 children and she never complains. She is so darn happy that she has clean water and a roof over her head. Nothing seems to faze her. She is like a workhorse, prodding along, day after day. She makes all of her food from scratch, including tortillas. She never screams. She always smiles. She doesn't even drink tequila.

I really don't know how she does it.

Parenthood is an incredible adventure. There are times when it's not at all what I imagined it would be. There are days when it's a million times better than I expected, and there are days when it's a million times more challenging.

Honestly, I didn't think it would be this challenging and our kids are still in diapers.

Quite often, when you're at the bottom of the mountain, you can't see the top. There is no end in sight, just a long, long, long trail that seems to go straight up. That's when having a positive attitude is more important than ever.

Now where the heck did I put mine?! Or did the kids break it, along with the remote?

Actually .... this week is already looking much better for me.

The air has cleared, the sun is shining.

Our home was spared from the fires.

The Red Sox are the World Series Champions.

There are only 1,035 days left until Kindergarten. Or, 670 if I decide to start them early.

We got out of the house first thing, this morning. I ran the kids until they couldn't run any more, and then I fed them a picnic lunch. Then I brought them home, washed their hands, changed their diapers, read them a story and put them all down for a nap. Including Henry - who screamed blue bloody murder for 30 minutes before falling asleep in his own crib and not on my chest for the first time, ever.

It isn't always easy. Actually, it's very rarely easy.

But I know what to do and I know how to do it. Although sometimes, it is damn hard to grab yourself by the bootstraps when you're stuck under a rock and the world around you is burning to the ground.

That's when it really helps to have a supportive husband.

And a freezer full of Rocky Road.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

dear children

Dear Children (whom are aged 36 months):

A little over 15 months ago, I wrote a heartfelt post in which I said, if I could, I would have 20 of you. At the time of the writing, I was completely stricken by how quickly you were growing up and evolving from infancy in to toddlerhood. It was bittersweet for me and I wanted to have so many children that we would need a bus to travel on family outings.


Since that time, I've reconsidered.

A few weeks ago, before your third birthday, I started to jot down a few thoughts about sacrifices, that I had intended to turn in to a blog posting. I wrote how your father and I met. How we fell in love. How we were married and attended graduate school together. How we started our careers and excelled in our fields. How we tried for years to start a family. How we were met with failure and heart break, repeatedly. How once you came in to our lives - our careers were no longer paramount.

Once you came in to our lives, we made sacrifices.

We replaced our convertible European sports car with a minivan. We stopped taking lavish vacations and eating out at the finest restaurants. We reduced our income by more than 60% so that we could stay home with you.

I recently passed up an opportunity to transfer our family to Houston, Texas and your father passed up a big opportunity in petroleum exploration. Because in our opinion - it was more important for us to be home with you than to accept jobs that would take us away from you for more than 40 hours a week.

Children, your father and I miss the money that we were making. Especially since these days, it seems that there is a vacuum on our house literally sucking cash out the door. But we have had no regrets. Not even when as we were passing up promotions and opportunities that would allow us to retire as millionaires by the time we are 50.

Up until this past week, I wanted to resign my job and stay home with you full-time. I even considered home schooling you. We would have such fun traveling to various museums and I could re-learn algebra. Although I'd be sacrificing my career, I would much prefer to give it up, than miss out on any of your childhood.

A lot has happened since I first started jotting down my thoughts. We have been house bound for almost a week because of raging fires and poor air quality. Your 3-month old baby brother, who weighs more than you did at 12-months, has been keeping me up all night and you keep me running non-stop all day. You turned three and your personalities have blossomed, just like the atom bomb.

Since you've turned three, your favorite past time involves screaming. You also enjoy fighting. Hitting. Punching. Throwing yourself on the ground and kicking your feet. Particularly in public.

You enjoy whining. Loudly. Frequently.

Pretty much non stop.

Your afternoon nap that once was a solid two hours has reduced to 30 minutes.

You insist on helping me with everything I do. But your idea of "help" and my idea of "help" are at the opposite ends of the definition spectrum.

You like to climb on the counter and take a single bite out of every single apple, while I am cleaning up pee-pee that sloshed out of the potty receptacle that your sibling picked up while I was busy helping your other sibling put on their shoes ... and feeding your other sibling.

You like to grab things like say ... a broom ... and knock pictures off the wall and then tell me that you are dusting. For reasons that completely elude me, you are infatuated with the toilet. But instead of using the toilet for the purpose in which it was designed, you like to put things in it. Like your face. Or your sippy cup. Or your baby brother's teething ring.

Your father seems to think that you are just exerting yourself and testing your limits. But if you keep "exerting yourself", please understand that I am going to exert my hand across your bare bottom.

You can thank your baby brother for being here. Because if it wasn't for my ability to look in to his little eyes and remember that you were once vulnerable infants that I swore I would always love and protect, you'd be gone by now.

My fellow triplet mom, Debbie, has a blog and across the top is a passage that Mark Twain wrote in 1879. "Sufficient unto the day is one baby. As long as you are in your right mind, don't ever pray for twins. Twins amount to a permanent riot. And there ain't any real difference between triplets and an insurrection."

I love you, children.

But I am sorry to say that I don't like you very much at the moment. Your "violent uprisings" have taken their toll. Your constant screaming of "NO!" for anything and everything has worn me thin. And because I don't want to spend three back-to-back life sentences in a penitentiary, I am going to start looking in to preschool for you. Even if preschool is going to cost me the equivalent of a mortgage payment, I will find a way.

So help me God. I will find a way.

I also don't think that there will be any more of you. Because I have seen, first hand, how adorable little cubs soon turn in to flesh-eating beasts. Particularly when they are cooped up in a small house for days on end.

For the final time ... you cannot play with any sharp object you hijack out of the kitchen drawers. Dirty diapers MUST be changed. Sitting on my lap while I eat breakfast, only so you can assume control of my fork and spit partially chewed eggs back on to my pile of scrambled eggs is socially unacceptable and will no longer be tolerated. Those plastic covers on the handle of the doors are to keep YOU out. Naps will not kill you. I, however, might if you stop taking them.

With much love and hope for your continued success on this planet,

Your Mother

ps: It's been a tough week. A really, really tough week. Let's hope next week is better and the weather clears out all the smoke in the air. Now, let's go Sox!!!

Friday, October 26, 2007

going out (of my mind)

We left the house yesterday. Although I would have much preferred to have spent our first time outdoors in 96 hours at a local park, we were completely out of diapers so our trip was to the local Target.

Just me. And all four kids.

It took me a solid two hours to get everyone ready to leave. Dirty diapers needed to be changed, shoes that were put on - were taken off - and put back on - on the wrong feet. Children that I got dressed were soon standing before me, naked. Henry was hungry. Elizabeth was thirsty. Carolyn had to go on the potty. William insisted on wearing one thing and then changed his mind seconds before we left. And then Henry was hungry, again.

I'm so tremendously glad that we never had to evacuate. I just can't imagine having to get out of the house in 15 minutes or less. I think I'd have better luck flapping my arms and taking flight.

When I opened the doors to the van, the action kicked up large amounts of ash, which coated our children as they were standing at the door waiting to load. I tried to pat them off, but that only smeared the mess. Everyone was crying that they were dirty. Being dirty was such a huge problem for them that they insisted on having new shirts. No problem. What's another 10 minutes when you're already 120 minutes behind schedule?

Once we arrived at the store, I unloaded them from their car seats and had everyone "touch the van" until we could walk in to the store, together. Although I would have preferred that they "touch the van" with their fingertips, they instead ran their entire bodies along the length of the vehicle, rolled around with full body contact, and soon looked like three little chimney sweeps. For whatever reason, being dirty wasn't nearly as big of an inconvenience as when I had coated them with ash, 15-minutes earlier.

Rather than riding in the cart, the kids insisted on walking, so I put them all in their safety harnesses and strapped Henry in the Bjorn. I then told them "ALL ABOARD!!" and my three sooty children jumped on the shopping cart that I pushed rapidly through the store. We were in and out of Target, with a full shopping cart, in less than 15 minutes.

I would have loved to stay longer and peruse. There were a ton of Halloween items that I could see having on our front lawn. But have you ever been successfully leisurely shopping with three 3-year olds?

Neither have I.

If you've got any tactics to keep them quiet and not touch every.single.thing .... that doesn't involve Ambien or high quantities of candy or duct tape .... I'm all ears.

At one point, I looked down at Elizabeth and noticed she was chewing ... something. I hadn't given her anything, so became alarmed and with one hand cupped under her mouth demanded "What do you have?! Spit it out!!" She stuck out her tongue and on it was slightly-used gum, coated in ash, that she had plucked out of the shopping cart.

Oh, YUMMY.

We came home from Target and while I unloaded the car, Carolyn ran in to use her potty chair. At the same time, Elizabeth grabbed a hold of my keys and set off the emergency call button to the van, William opened the refrigerator and pulled out a container of mustard and Henry was howling to eat.

I pried my keys away from Elizabeth, pried the mustard away from William, dumped the contents of the potty chair, fed the baby, and started to unload my Target spoils. Just then, I heard a noise coming from the bathroom. When I went to investigate, I found my son, with his hands on either side of the porcelain rim blowing bubbles in to the toilet while his sister was trying to "wash her sippy cup" in the bowl.

Drinking unfiltered apple juice makes them gag and they won't touch mashed potatoes. But they can blow bubbles and soak their cups in toilet water and chew ash covered gum from a shopping cart.

Someone, please tell me. At what age, exactly, does civility kick in?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

house arrest

I pride myself on getting out of the house with all of the children at least once, every day.

Yet for the past three days, we've been stuck inside. We haven't been able to open the doors or the windows because the smoke and ash are still bad. The television has been running almost constantly with the news and we've transformed our family room in to an indoor playground. Although it might seem that staying inside would be a relaxing change of pace ... I am completely exhausted. I don't remember ever being this tired. Except for the moment immediately before I lost consciousness when placed under general anesthesia.

From the time the kids wake up in the morning, I am counting the minutes until they go down for their nap and when they wake up from that, I am counting the minutes until they go to sleep for the night. In unprecedented fashion, I've been taking naps when the kids nap. Which makes me even more tired.

I feel like I'm running in quick sand and my head is in a fog.

I'll spend a few minutes getting the kids started on a project that I hope will keep them entertained for an hour, and they'll bore of it within five minutes. I will then spend 10 minutes cleaning it up and preparing the next project. And the next. And the next.

Puzzles. Forts. Books. Playdoh. Crayons. We've done it all.

It really makes no sense to me how they can do all of this ....


And yet, I'm the one that looks like this.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

desperate times

Greetings from the War Zone!

We are still at home and doing well, although I use that phrase very loosely.

If you think it looks bad outside our house, you ought to see it on the inside. It's incredible the destruction that three pent-up three year olds and a fussy three-month old are capable of inflicting on furniture AND psyche of their weary parents.

This whole experience has been surreal and quite the nail biter.

I stepped outside today briefly and looked at the sky which had an ominous orange hue. Chunks of ash were drifting all around and although there were cars lining the streets - it was completely quiet - because everyone was inside, glued to their televisions.

Schools have been canceled for the entire week and most businesses have closed. Air traffic arriving in to San Diego has been re-routed to the north. Our internet was down for much of the day and unless you go to the higher cable channels, the only thing you can watch on television is "BREAKING NEWS" coverage of the wild fires.

A big thanks to all the people who have left comments and offered their prayers. A big thanks also to those 50 or so people who have called to check in on us and inquire if we were crazy for not leaving. The reason we didn't leave has nothing to do with bravery. It does, however, have something to do with the small amount of common sense we possess.

Many of the roads leading out of the area were closed, and the ones that were open were backed up with evacuees, and emergency personnel were strongly requesting that unless you were evacuated you remain off the roads. Since our neighborhood was never evacuated, we didn't want to be away from home, with four small children and a dog, aimlessly wandering in our minivan.

We are packed though, so if we are asked to leave, we can do so quickly.

The picture that I posted last night was taken from our backyard, but the flames were approximately three miles away. It looked a lot closer, but that just shows how fabulous my new camera is. I was up almost all night tracking the progression of the fire and watched as it headed north away from us, over San Miguel Mountain.

Today, for the second straight day, I had the television on and was in frequent communication with our neighbors while Charlie worked. And then, around noon, my husband suggested that he leave and drive a half hour north to meet with one of his co-workers and finish a project they had started.

I told him that was a fantastic idea and I'd be sure to tell my SECOND HUSBAND how committed my first husband had been to his career, before he perished in a fire.

That moment of insanity aside, rest assured, if I thought for a moment that our life was in jeopardy - we would have been in the car and heading for the hills. Or ocean, so to speak, since all the hills around our house were on fire.

At the moment, things are looking a lot better although the air quality in our area is still bad. We think the wisest and safest approach is to hunker down and stay inside. However, if the air doesn't clear up within the next day or two, we will load up the entire family ~ and the dog ~ and take a road trip.

Again, we aren't in danger.
But if it wasn't for Molly, we probably would have left already.

Ever since Henry arrived, we can no longer fit our entire family in our Toyota Tundra, which for the past several years, has been our designated "dog-mobile". Loading up four children and a 90-pound dog in a seven-passenger minivan would be a tight squeeze. Despite what many people have suggested, in good conscience we cannot leave our dog at home, by herself, or under the care of neighbors that still might have to evacuate if the winds pick back up and shift.

The thing that amazes me the most during these times of crises, are the heroes that emerge.

There has been a tremendous show of heroism over the past few days. There are the fire fighters that are working tirelessly to put out the raging infernos, the volunteers that are giving of their time and energy to help those who have been evacuated, the businesses that are donating critical supplies, the reporters that are flying in from all over the country to help cover the story and give our local reporters an opportunity to sleep, the strangers that are grabbing a garden hose and valiantly attempting to squelch a fire that is threatening someone's home.

And then ... there is my awesome cousin, Regina.

Not only does she have tickets to the World Series, she has offered to take us with her. If things don't get better soon - or if the news continues to show only fire footage - we just might have to load up the van with our children ~ and the dog ~ and drive straight back to Boston.

After all, Game 1 starts tomorrow night.

Monday, October 22, 2007

our bags are packed

All day we've been glued to the television, watching homes throughout San Diego burn to the ground. The air has been so terrible that we've remained inside, with our fan on circulation and all the doors and windows closed. Still, the smell of smoke is present and we haven't been able to see the sun since 8 AM.

The kids suspect something is up because there have only been a dozen fights and minimal whining. Of course Pixar films have been running all day on a television somewhere in our house.

Friends, all over the area, have either been evacuated or are standing by to be evacuated. Our eyes are stinging and our throats are dry. Charlie sprung a nosebleed despite the multiple humidifiers that we have set up. We've spotted several neighbors standing on ladders and hosing down the eaves of their roofs. We've been on the phone with several other neighbors discussing and reviewing our exit strategies.

Within the past hour, I can see flames on the nearby mountains. Ash is falling all around our house and if it wasn't for the 80+ degree temperature, one might think it's been snowing. With these high winds, an airborne ember can land on a roof or wood fence and spark. That is how the fire has been jumping and moving so fast.

Several of the neighborhoods around us have been evacuated and I wouldn't be surprised if our neighborhood will be under evacuation, soon. We may decide to leave before that time, but the issue of getting out is very complicated.

The majority of roads leading out of the area are closed. The roads that are open are backed up with traffic. I can't think of any place I would rather NOT be, than on a freeway in bumper-to-bumper traffic with a car full of children and an out-of-control wild fire that suddenly shifts in my direction.

That's why we are waiting and thinking about where we would go. Because this is the fourth fire that we've experienced in our 13 years of living in San Diego, we are also asking ourselves why in the world we live here?!

I suspect that if we evacuate, we'll head west to the beach. I don't want to drive north to Los Angeles because the traffic getting out of San Diego is horrible and there are fires up there, too. I also don't want to head south in to Mexico for a number of reasons. We might head east to Arizona for a few days until the smoke clears - but that is still under debate.

We are packed. We've got clothes for the kids, clothes for us. We've got our toothbrushes. We've got sleeping bags, pillows, a tent ... and a cooler packed full of water and some food. We've got essential paperwork - social security cards, birth certificates, insurance. We've got video tapes from important times in our life. We've got dog food for Molly and a leash. If and when we do leave, we'll unplug our computer and take it with us. I also have my new Nikon camera. And the owner's manual because heaven knows I REALLY need that.

Nothing makes you realize the unimportance of material possessions until your life is on the line and you have to leave them. The way I see it, so long as we have our pictures and our health, everything else can be replaced.

Although it's bad, it could be worse.


We could be out of wine and ice cream. The Indians, or worse yet - the Yankees - could be on their way to the World Series. Last year on this very date, all three of the kids and Charlie were laying on the floor completely incapacitated with Rotovirus. I can't imagine having to deal with that kind of nightmare on top of all this. Add to that, this photo was taken from our backyard within the past hour. The area that is on fire, is the "preserve land" that is backed up to the house we almost bought back in March.

Yeah. I'd say it could be a whole lot worse.

déjà vu

Four years ago - the third week of October:

The Red Sox were in the ALCS.

Wild fires were out-of-control and scorching much of San Diego County.

The air quality was terrible and flames could be seen in the nearby mountains.

Our neighborhood was under "voluntary" evacuation.

We had received our first negative result from IVF and while our neighbors packed up their belongings and fled the area, I sat at home on the couch watching the news, drinking beer and crying.

Charlie was freaking out that we need to leave.

I wouldn't budge. I honestly didn't care.

Now...

The Red Sox are in the ALCS.

Wild fires are out-of-control and scorching much of San Diego County.

The air quality is terrible and our neighbors reported seeing flames in the nearby mountains.

Our neighborhood isn't yet under evacuation.

Charlie is busily working on a project for work oblivious to the impending danger.

I'm packing up our pictures, clothes, diapers and food supplies and thinking about when we are going to leave, where we are going to go, and how we are going to get there - since many of the roads and highways in Southern California are closed.

The difference between 2003 and now?

Four years.

Four children.

I'll actually care about the World Series this year.

News reports say that these fires will be worse than previously, because of the powerful Santa Ana winds.

Instead of Charlie trying to convince me - I'm trying to convince my husband that we need to drive north. In to Canada. And never look back.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

shoot ... me

It seems that my strategy of "buy now, decide later" extends beyond clothing. Similar to how I'll buy clothes without first trying them on, it seems I will also buy expensive electronic equipment and then figure out how well it suits my needs.

I don't suggest this approach.


However, this technique does tend to work quite well if you have not devoted a lot of time to research. Because once you make a purchase - if you are at all like me, you will then research the item down to the last minuscule detail - and then decide whether or not to keep it.

Yesterday, I returned the digital camera I had purchased on Friday night. By the time I left the house (with Henry), I was fully prepared to purchase the Canon S5IS.

But of course I didn't.

Because if I had, that would have meant that I had actually made my mind up about something ahead of time. And despite the anguish this flaw in my persona causes me, I am not capable of doing that.

Once I was in the store, with the Canon S5IS in front of me and my debit card in hand, I decided instead to purchase the Nikon D40x. If I had not purchased an SLR, I absolutely, positively, without a doubt would have purchased the Canon S5IS. In my opinion, it took the best pictures of any non-SLR cameras I tried out. And I tried almost all of them. It was easy to hold, had a great zoom, clarity, and many advanced settings that gave it an SLR-type feel.

I liked it so much, Santa might still bring Charlie one.


Ultimately, I decided to purchase the Nikon D40x because although I don't know much about cameras and photography, I do know that in the right hands, no camera can do what an SLR does. At this point in my life, I take an average of 30 photographs a day - so I want to have a camera that I can grow with and that is capable of capturing these fleeting moments with our young children.

With an SLR camera, you have the power to adjust so many components to produce your picture. I always loved my Nikon N50, but it would aggravate me that after I took a picture, I wouldn't know the results until I developed my film. By the time I got my pictures back, I could never remember how exactly the photo was taken. Yes, it probably would have helped if I'd taken a photography class, but I never did. Although, I still might...

With digital SLR's, you can see your pictures instantly. And the pictures, WOW, the pictures!!! These are just a sampling. Don't worry, there are a lot more where these beauties came from.

But first, I need to go read the 126 page instruction manual.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

when the stressed go shopping

I've been a little overwhelmed lately.

Why?

Well ... Charlie's started a new job and has been working out of the house ... three year old triplets that have been increasingly difficult every day since their birthday ... our poop eating dog ... a badly infected toe ... my adorable 20-pound, three month old baby that nurses every two hours 'round the clock ... career choices ... a broken digital camera ... ninety six loads of laundry ... this, that, this and that.

This afternoon at 4:00, I left for the camera store. I had done all the research I could do on the internet, now I needed to get in and hold the various cameras and find out which one would work best for me.

It's no mystery that I'm technologically challenged.

But that doesn't stop me from knowing what I want.

For the past several years, I've used the Kodak DX6490. I've never been particularly happy with the camera, but then again, I'm not much of a photographer. Even so, I thought the response time between shots with the Kodak was way too slow and it didn't work well in low light. Although it has a relatively good zoom (10X), for every 10 pictures taken at least 5 were out of focus.

Before I received my digital camera as a Christmas gift in 2003, my primary camera was a Nikon N50. I loved the picture quality that this camera produced. Even though I didn't know what I was doing, the majority of my pictures turned out really good. The problem was that this camera required film and why use film if you don't have to?

Especially since I still have several rolls of undeveloped film from ten (?) years ago.


At this point in time, I want a user-friendly digital camera that is capable of taking awesome pictures. I want to be able to zoom in super close on an object. I want the option of an object to be perfectly crisp and clear and the surrounding image to be blurry (shallow depth of field).

I want to be able to take pictures really fast, without delay. I want to take pictures at night when our kids are sleeping and have the lighting look like it's actually nighttime and not high noon. I don't want to use my flash. Ideally, I'd also like to have a video component to the camera, because although I have a nice camcorder, I don't like taking two cameras with me when we go out.

I had a limited amount of time I could be away since Charlie was home with the children. The first store I went to clued me in that SLR cameras don't have a video component. My Nikon is an SLR, so you'd think I'd know that ... along with the 27 minutes of research I'd done on the internet. But, technology is so advanced these days, I thought maybe they'd made strides.

There were several cameras that looked good - but I couldn't decide.

After an hour, the guy finally told me that he thought I should check out the Canon PowerShot S3IS. But they didn't have it at "that" store. The closest store was at the mall, five miles away.

It was 5:15 PM.

I call Charlie. The kids are fine. Henry is awake but content. Charlie gives me his blessing to go to the mall and check out the Canon.

I jump in my car and zip to the mall. I run to the store. I check out the camera. It's very nice. But it takes 4-AA batteries. The other cameras only take two. The camera doesn't allow me to zoom in as closely on things as I'd like, while keeping the object in focus - like the SLR does. I take pictures of everyone in the store.

I take pictures of things in the mall. I'm going nuts taking pictures.

I still can't decide.

Of course I can't decide. I can't ever decide on anything.

I really like the features of the SLR. But it's big. The smaller cameras are nice, but I want a really good camera. And if I'm going to be forking out several hundred dollars - what's a hundred or two more?? The sales staff don't seem to know much. With every camera they pull off the shelf they gush "Oh, this one is REALLY cool!!"

Maybe I should get two cameras. Sure, that's it. I'll spend $1,500.00 on cameras. What am I?

INSANE?!

All I want is to get a camera and leave. But I want it to be the perfect camera. What I really want is a SLR in the size of a micro point and shoot, with digital capabilities and a rechargeable battery.

It's been two hours since I've left the house. I'm asking questions, but not hearing the answers. Surely the baby is hungry. The baby has to eat. My God, the baby has to eat. But, I don't want to leave the store without a camera. I have to have a camera. I've been without a camera for almost a week. I call Charlie and he tells me that the children are climbing off the walls. They are driving him absolutely insane. He cannot guarantee their safety.

Suddenly, a man appears. He has a big camera case. He is looking to purchase a $2,000.00 lens. He is clearly knowledgeable about cameras. I turn to face him and say "Please help me. I need a camera. I don't know what camera to get."

I tell him my criteria. He tells me that I really need an SLR. But until I'm prepared to make such a purchase, I should get a small point-and-shoot type of camera. After another 30 minutes, and seeing that I've missed two calls from Charlie, I settle on the Nikon Cool Pix P4. I select this one because I'm totally frantic, my chest has sprung a leak, the camera has rechargeable batteries and they threw in a free carrying case.

I literally run out of the store. I run to the parking lot and can't find my car. My shirt is sopping wet. I call Charlie and can hear children screeching in the background. I feel totally irresponsible leaving him at home with all the kids, by himself.

I've never been gone this long from the baby.


I. Must. Get. Home. I. Must. Get. Home. I. Must. Get. Home. I. Must. Get. Home. I. Must. Get. Home. I. Must. Get. Home. I Must. Get. Home. I. Must. Get. Home. I. Must. Get. Home. I. Must. Get. Home. I. Must. Get. Home. I. Must. Get. Home. I. Must. Get. Home. I. Must. Get. Home. I. Must. Get. Home. I. Must. Get. Home. I. Must. Get. Home. I. Must. Get. Home.


I still can't find my car. Finally, in desperation, I hold my car keys over my head and hit the panic button. My car is directly in front of me.

I jump in and drive home - the whole way - I'm second guessing my purchase. I arrive home to a howling Henry. I'm nursing the baby and trying to take pictures of the kids. I'm unhappy with the 3X zoom. I'm really unhappy. I'm crying. I spent all this time at the store and now I am not happy with my choice. Everyone is concerned. The kids are giving me hugs, Charlie is getting me a glass of ice water. I'm wondering why I'm crying over a camera. On a Friday Night.

It's now five hours later. I'm sipping wine and feeling better. But I must go to sleep. Because tomorrow, I'm going to go return my camera and buy a new one.

Shopping!

I never guessed it would be so much fun.

Friday, October 19, 2007

and then, there's the dog

Molly.

She is our dog.

A black Labrador retriever.

A good dog. A kind dog. A dog that only barks when she sees her own shadow.

Once upon a time, not very long ago, Monty and Molly were our world. We took them everywhere with us - to work on the weekends, to the beach several times a month, on long hikes in the local mountains and on vacation - provided there was no air travel.

Over the past few years, our dogs have slowly migrated outside to live in the garage. When we would be gone during the day - the dogs were outside - and when we'd come home at night, they would be in with us - and then they'd go back outside to sleep. We never imagined that we make our beloved pets sleep in the garage on dog beds, but after they vomited, several times, all over our new carpet, we didn't want them inside any more.

Last year, after we put Monty to sleep, we made the commitment that Molly would be an inside dog. She would be a part of our everyday lives. She would sleep inside and be inside with us, whenever we were home.

That arrangement lasted for a couple weeks.

Immediately, Molly was hacking all over the place, begging at the table, and doing the butt-scootch across our floors. Whenever she was running free in the back yard with our kids, she was pooping on the lawn, eating grass and throwing it up again.

I tried, but ultimately, it was too much for us to take.

Molly moved back in to the garage and accompanies us for walks every day. Sometimes, we'll let her come in to the house, but she is moved outside again promptly at meal time. Provided she doesn't go out sooner, because of her constant pacing.

We let her in the back yard to play. But, usually, she is in the garage and has our side yard as her dog run. I don't want her to have free reign of the back yard because she absolutely destroys our landscaping with her digging. And then there's the poop that I try to scoop up, but wind up missing a nugget or two, which inevitably gets stepped in. And tracked through the house.

Molly will be 13 in December but she still gets around well. We've looked in to finding her a new home, but no one wants to take in a dog that is 13 years old. Especially when this breed rarely lives longer than 12 years. We've thought about taking her to a non-euthanizing animal shelter, but - we can't get ourselves to do it.

Charlie and I feel terrible about the life that she now has, even though she is showered with love and affection from the children. We would much prefer that she received more attention - but we honestly don't have it in us. I know we aren't giving her the best life, but we feel obligated to keep her. This whole "what to do with Molly" issue has weighed very heavy on our hearts.

Yesterday, I was walking around and nursing Henry when William tells me that he needs his "cahwocell." It only took me ten minutes, while my son completely lost his patience, to figure out what exactly he was saying, because it certainly didn't start out sounding like "cahwocell."

It sounded like ... who knows what.

As it turns out, his "cahwocell" or toy CAROUSEL as is more common to the English speaking population, had recently been moved by me, his mother, to the garage.

More specifically, to the TOP SHELF of the garage.

While I'm walking out to the garage, with Henry in the Bjorn and three small barefooted children directly behind me, I notice that Molly has hauled in one of her huge poops from the side yard and dropped it smack dab in the middle of the floor.

Right on top of the nice multi-colored special-order (aka: expensive) interlocking mats that we bought the children for Christmas.

As soon as I get past the narrow opening of the garage door, all three barefooted kids dart around me, so that they are standing directly beneath the shelves and pointing "Dare Mommy!! Up DARE!!"

I see the poop.

My children do not.

I shouldn't have said anything.

But I did.

My exact words to my three barefooted children were, "Guys, watch out. Don't step back or you might step in the ... NO!! NO!! DON'T STEP BACK!! STOP!!! RED LIGHT!!! DON'T MOVE!!!"

And just then, while the kids were looking wildly confused and stepping in every which direction, SPLAT.

I closed my eyes and felt myself start to gag.

Because as bad as it is stepping in canine feces while you are wearing shoes, it is far, far worse to step in it when you are barefooted. Or worse yet, your child steps in it while barefooted and you, the mother, have to clean it off their little feet, hopefully before your child tries to wipe it off with their hand. Which they will then - without a smidgen of doubt - draw up to their nose for a sniff.

All this time that I'm trying to move children out of the way, while doing my best to control a very sensitive gag reflex, I'm wearing a half comatose, milk-drunk Henry in the Bjorn.

Pleading with the kids to NOT MOVE, I run in to the house to deposit Henry in the crib, before I return to the garage. Henry does not like losing his feeding source and begins to wail. Offering my apologies to the baby while I run back to the garage, I estimate I was gone no more than 15 seconds.

When I return to the garage, Molly is standing over the squashed pile of poop and despite my cries, she proceeds to chomp it off the floor. The vet tells us that Molly is completely deaf. But I think that one or two of her auditory neurons must be firing because she jumped when my cries turned to screams of "OH GOD NO!!! BAD BAD DOG!!!"

What I don't understand is how a dog that only eats two cups of dry kibble food a day, and is taken on two walks each and every day, wherein she expels the equivalent of two cups of digested kibble, has the ability to expel the equivalent of four additional cups of digested kibble, in our side yard? To me, this defies logic.

What about mass in = mass out??

Meanwhile, the baby is crying, the children are completely dumbfounded wondering WHY in the world the dog would be eating poo-poo, I'm ready to throw up on the floor, and the dog is running around in circles with her head pumping back and forth trying to eat all the poop before I can stop her.

Lucky for you, I still don't have a camera. Unlucky for me, I had to clean up a HORRIBLE mess and am further stressed about what to do with Molly.

Who, last night, decided to eat the better part of her dog bed.

I am extremely overdue for a vacation.

a boy and his brother

Still no camera. But, I think I've narrowed it down to the Nikon D40x and the Canon EOS 400D. Both have received rave reviews - at least from what I can tell in the 27 minutes I've been able to devote to camera research.

I really like the look of some of the smaller compact cameras, and am planning to ask Santa for a back-up at Christmas. I'm also planning to ask for a winning lottery ticket, if Saint Nick has one laying around.

In the meantime, here's a picture I took before my camera passed from this life.

I love baseball. Especially when it's the post-season.

And the Red Sox are playing.

We've been watching baseball every night that it has been on for the past two weeks. We've even got the kids excited about it and love to hear them yell "Go Sox!!" I tend to be a little superstitious in the post-season when the Red Sox are in contention, so I won't tell you my theory.

At least not yet.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

god speed

I am still camera-less. But thanks to the awesome advice I received yesterday, I hope to acquire one on-line (through upromise, of course) within the next few hours. Provided I possess the mental clarity to make such an important purchase.

Today has been a particularly long day. So while Charlie is giving the kids a bath, I'm having some "down time" which involves nursing Henry and quickly updating my blog.

What I set out to tell the internet tonight is that I had to go back to the podiatrist this morning and have my infected toe inspected. I thought my doctor would give me a super-strong antibiotic cream and send me on my way with a guarantee of full and complete healing.

Instead, he gasped and said I had a "horribly nasty abscess" and the entire nail needed to come off. The amputation avulsion of my toenail required more ethyl chloride (not liquid nitrogen as I mistakenly stated previously) and then, two shots of lidocaine at the base of my toe to completely numb it.

Have I mentioned before that I have a low threshold for pain?

When the doctor pulled out the needle, I started gasping and had to shove my shirt sleeve in my mouth to keep from screaming out loud. With both hands grasping the chair and my shirt clenched between my teeth, my doctor laughingly asked "So, tell me again how many children you've brought in to this world?"

Delivering a baby does not require a needle in your toe.

Have you ever had a shot in your toe?!

Did you know that there are more nerve endings in the hands and feet than anywhere else on the body?? Good Lord in Heaven high. My whole life flashed before my eyes.

Thankfully, he was quick about the procedure. Within seconds I felt a tug, tug, TUG and then he was holding up the bloody, puss covered nail and saying "Let me show you what I removed..." when I felt lightheaded and nauseated all at the same time.

He wrapped the toe in a thick bandage and gauze and gave me "Post-Op" instructions that involved soaking my foot every night for 10 minutes. I was also given a special sponge to wash it and an antibiotic medication I need to apply for the next seven days. He added Extra Strength Tylenol and ice cream will help with any discomfort.

I climbed off the chair and hobbled to the elevator. While I was standing there, a little boy - about three years old - dressed in galoshes and a raincoat came skipping out of the pediatric office with his father. He was so excited to push the button that I chuckled at his enthusiasm. When the door opened and six of us crammed in to the elevator, he ran to the panel to push the down button.

Since I have several children the same age as this boy (all of which were at home with their father), I know how a simple thing like pushing an elevator button can be the highlight of their day. When I pointed out which button he should push, because his father was busy talking on his cell phone and oblivious to the fact that his son was prepared to hit the EMERGENCY CALL switch, the preschooler flashed me a big smile.

And then ... this is the best part ... he started jumping up and down excitedly.

I am convinced that there is some kind of Law in the Universe that if you have an injury, things will gravitate and cause further harm to that injury.

Things like say ... a preschool boy who is jumping up and down in an elevator in his galoshes.

Even though my toe was completely numb, I still shrieked when the kid landed smack dab on my foot. Because almost instantly, the entire right side of my body felt hot.

I had planned to go from the doctor's office to the mall and browse for a new camera, but instead, I crawled home and peeled off the gauze and bandages that my doctor had applied. I only slightly fainted when I saw the copious amounts of blood, undoubtedly due to the pouncing my foot had been subjected to while in the elevator.

Smearing some of the antibiotic lotion on my toe, I loosely applied a new dressing and hobbled out to the living room and on to the couch, where not one - but three of my four children - sat or stepped on it over the course of the next few hours.

A highlight of my day was when a huge box arrived in the mail addressed to the kids. Inside there were several helium Happy Birthday balloons and a Curious George stuffed animal. I have no idea who sent this package - because the place that shipped it didn't include a gift card. Because I'm a stickler for sending thank you notes, I plan to contact the company and see if they can clue me in. If not, I hope that whoever sent it reads this blog and can step forward to accept my sincere thanks.

Now, I need to tuck our children in to bed and hopefully, come back with a clear mind and make a decision on a digital camera.

This blog cannot survive without pictures.

And at the moment, I cannot survive without Extra Strength Tylenol and ice cream.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

greetings from crazyville

My digital camera broke.

After over 8,500 pictures - including the birth of all four children - my first digital camera ever is now a thing of the past. It flashed "ERROR 845: Consult Owner's Manual" after I dropped it it slipped off the changing table on to the hardwood floor, Sunday morning.

For a few minutes it continued to flash this message and then everything on the display screen went black. When I looked up ERROR 845 in the owner's manual, it said something about, "Irreparable damage. All of the intricate thing-a-ma-jigs have been destroyed."

Suffice to say, I am now in the market for a new digital camera.

The timing is good, but not great. I was hoping to get a new digital camera for Christmas and planned to use the next few months to research the market extensively so that Santa could make an informed decision. Now, I need to get a camera post haste, because not having a means to take pictures, is the equivalent of not having air to breathe. Yeah, it's that bad.

Digital camera suggestions and recommendations are welcome.


In other news, Charlie started a new job three weeks ago and has been working from our dining room table until he finds a new office. It's a good thing that he has been home and within earshot, because he overhears the conversations I've been having with the children and provides me frequent reality checks to help me from going completely insane.

For instance.

Elizabeth fell down outside and scraped her knee. There was a droplet of blood but from her reaction, you'd think she was on the verge of losing her entire limb. When I went to her rescue, she was screaming "I NEED BAND-AID!! MOMMY I NEED BAND-AID!!"

I dashed in to the house to grab the first aid kit and when I went back and knelt down by her side with the Neosporin and a band-aid, she screamed "NO BAND-AID!! NO BAND-AID!!" and started to shoo me away fanatically. If her language allowed, I think she would have also added "You idiot! What makes you think I need a stupid band-aid?!"

I stood up and started to put the band-aid back in the first aid kit when she started screaming "NEED BAND-AID MOMMY!! NEED BAND-AID!!"

Again, when I bent down to put it on her scratch flesh wound, she starts swatting at me and screaming "NO, NO, NO BAND-AID, I NOT WANT BAND-AID MOMMY!!!"

This dialogue went back and forth for a solid 15 minutes before the wound completely healed and there was absolutely no evidence of trauma.

At bed time, they want all want to take a bath. But as soon as I run the tub, they jump up and down and scream that they want to take a shower. I turn on the shower and they want the bath. Or, two want a bath and one wants a shower.

No, wait ... no one wants to bathe. They want to run around the house naked.

Dinner time. They want a fork. They want a spoon. Not that spoon. THAT spoon.

I NEED TWO SPOONS.

MY SPOON. MY SPOON.

They want their food in a bowl. No, on a plate. Not that plate. THAT plate.

They're not thirsty. They're not hungry.

They want to watch a movie.


But the jury is split on what movie to watch. No one is happy with the selection.

They want to read a book. NO, NOT THAT BOOK. THAT BOOK.

It's time for a diaper change.

After they eat, because now they HUNGWY.


They want to wear the Princess Pull-Up. No, they want the Cars Pull-Up.

They want to go poop on the potty. But they don't. They run around the house holding their bums and yelling for a diaper. But when I try to put them in a diaper, they insist on underwear.

They want Princess UNDERWEAR.

They want Nemo and Dory UNDERWEAR.

Oh, wait!! Those are Elizabeth's underwear.

Will Elizabeth share?

Yes. No. Maybe so.

William wants a red balloon. We don't have a red balloon. Heck, we don't even have balloons. He starts screaming. Elizabeth and Carolyn start screaming. More loudly than you've ever heard screaming before. It's a scream off over an object that we don't even possess.

FOR PETE'S SAKE. WE DON'T EVEN HAVE ANY DAMN BALLOONS!!!

I put everyone in time-out and they promptly poop in their underwear.

Charlie comes in to check on me and jokes that my eyes are flashing "ERROR 845: Consult Owner's Manual." That means that I'm verging on collapse.

A stiff drink is necessary. And maybe some electric shock therapy.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Happy 3rd Birthday to our Amazing Trips!

Today is your third birthday.

Yesterday, we celebrated your birthday at a local farm with 30 of your closest friends. The morning started out rainy and although there were some scattered showers, once everyone arrived, the day couldn't have been more perfect.

It was slightly cool and a bit foggy, but the ideal "fall" weather.

You had such a wonderful time climbing mountains of sand, taking a hay ride, exploring the pumpkin patch, pretending to milk cows, petting various animals and eating cupcakes ... that you were too wired to sleep on the car ride home. As a result, you were in bed - fast asleep - by 6:30 last night. When you didn't wake up until 9:30 this morning, your father and I, for the first time ever, considered ditching your afternoon nap.

If you'd sleep this soundly every night, we also said we'd reconsider our position on moving to a farm.

This has been an absolutely incredible year of growth and change for you in both body and spirit. It seems that over night, you have made the emergence from babies to bona fide little kids. You no longer sleep in a crib, your vocabulary has exploded, and your personalities are in full bloom. You get jokes. Sometimes, you even tell jokes. Like when William tells me that he loves the Yankees ... that's a joke.

Albeit not a funny one.

Sometimes A lot of the time, you drive us absolutely crazy - but moments later - you possess the incredible ability to completely melt our hearts. It is good that you have this capability, because otherwise we would ship you off to live with your Aunt Beth.

When your father measured you today, he was astounded that over the past 12-months, William has grown by 3-inches, Elizabeth by 4-inches, and Carolyn by 5-inches.

This helps to explain why we are spending $200.00 a week on food.

After three years, we still find it hard to believe that there are three of you. After three years, we still cannot believe that God has blessed us so richly. You are magic to us and we adore watching you grow. We love you with everything we are and are so thankful that you are here. For the record: even though the title may not be appropriate anymore, you will always be my babies.

This montage, is just a tiny snap shot of your third year.

It was a wonderful year, indeed.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

3rd birthday party update

Looks like we'll need our Gortex, too.

It's a good thing we have a sense of adventure.

And wine.

Friday, October 12, 2007

'twas the night before the party...

Tomorrow is the BIG third birthday party celebration.

We estimate there will be approximately 34 people in attendance.

Of which, 20 are 2- and 3-year olds.

It will not be at our house.

It will instead be at a local pumpkin patch.
I'm glad for that.

Really, really, really (times 10 to the one hundredth power) glad.


To prepare, Charlie and I have pre-ordered ten large pizzas, for delivery tomorrow morning at the pumpkin patch, at precisely 11:45.

We are blowing up 47 balloons.

12 orange. 15 red. 20 yellow.

Colors of the fall.

We've bought 60 big plates, 60 little plates and 500 napkins.

In orange, red and yellow.

We've got two "BIRTHDAY GIRL!" pins and one "BIRTHDAY BOY!" pin.

We've got three decorative party hats.

We've got 100 juice boxes and 60 bottles of water.

Three fruit platters and one veggie platter.

One hundred plastic forks and one hundred plastic knives.

We're baking 60 cupcakes.

30 vanilla. 30 chocolate.

The vanilla will be frosted with chocolate.

The chocolate will be frosted with vanilla.

Because we're crazy that way.

At the moment, we're drinking hot tea and chatting it up.

We're marveling that three years ago on this very night - we watched the Red Sox in the ALCS, while I was laying in a hospital bed - awaiting the birth of our three babies.

Much like tonight, we watched the Red Sox in the ALCS.

But unlike tonight, I wasn't baking cupcakes and trying to figure out the best way to transfer them from the pan to the cooling rack.

Without scorching my hands or crushing the cupcakes.

Thankfully, Charlie bought three boxes of cupcake mix.

Because I dumped 12 cupcakes all over the floor when trying to flip the pan on top of the cooling rack. Quite unsuccessfully.

The cupcakes fell to the floor and completely disintegrated.

I really (times 10 to the one hundredth power) hope that doesn't happen with any of our birthday honorees, tomorrow.

Although they are almost three and that type of behavior has become remarkably familiar.

But if that should happen, we will also have wine.

For us, of course.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

things i didn't expect

It's been a little over a month since we've transitioned the kids out of their cribs. I thought for sure it would be a crazy disaster with children jumping on their beds, running around their rooms and creating mass havoc.

Instead, bed time has been transformed in to a relaxing and beautiful experience.

Carolyn and Elizabeth are sharing a double bed and although they'll sometimes wrestle each other for several minutes before falling asleep - they love sleeping in the same space.

But then again, they always have.

If one of the girls wakes up before the other from a nap or for the day, they will carefully climb over the one that is still asleep so as to not disturb them, and then either play quietly at the toy kitchen in their room, or stand at the baby gate across the door and scream at the top of their lungs for me to come get them.

This, inevitably wakes up the one that is sleeping.

It usually also wakes up the baby, the dog and the partially deaf neighbor three houses down.

William is in his own room and he thoroughly enjoys going to bed. The primary thing that I have to worry about with him is that he'll stay up too late flipping through books. Although, he also manages to contort his sleeping body around the rail on his bed and will fall out every so often. After several loud "THUMP!" and "wah!!"(s) at 2 AM, we've put pillows on the floor so the landing isn't quite so hard.

Since the kids have been transitioned to big beds, they are sleeping considerably better. Reminiscent of the days before they were climbing out of their cribs ... every day, they take a solid nap that ranges from an hour and a half to three hours, but typically hovers around two hours - from 1:00 until 3:00. They also go to bed at night around 7:30 or 8:00 and sleep in until 7:00 or 7:30, each morning.

It seems that recently, a lot of people have been telling me that once their child turned three, they stopped taking naps. And, they started waking up earlier in the morning.

Yeah, well.

That whole "drop the nap" phenomenon isn't going to happen in our house. Even if our kids stop *sleeping* in the afternoon, I am still going to insist that they go to their rooms for an hour of quiet time. And the rule here is ... no one gets up before 6:30 AM.

Unless of course, it's Christmas morning.

*********

Once I took the pressure off myself from PTBC, Carolyn and Elizabeth have asked to wear underwear almost every day. Even if I put them in a Pull-Up or a diaper, the vast majority of the time, they'll run over to the potty chair and do their thing. Neither girls have committed to going poo-poo on the potty, but I know we'll get there. Eventually.

Earlier this week, we went for a walk around a nearby lake and during our trip, Carolyn who was in a diaper because I didn't want to inconvenience myself take the chance of bringing a potty-trainee out in public unprepared, informed me that she needed to go pee-pee on the potty. When I told her that I didn't have a potty and that she could go in her Pull-Up, she instead decided to hold it for an entire 45 minutes, until we got home.

I may have unlocked the secret for a child who typically takes 10 minutes to get out of the car because I don't think I've ever seen her move so fast as she did running inside to plant herself on her little potty.

Reminded me a lot of myself.

William on the other hand, has absolutely no desire to do anything with, in, or near the potty. For him the potty chair is merely an object to stand on to better reach things that I purposefully put out of his grasp.

My son is proof that the whole notion of "potty training peer pressure" is a crock.

For now, he is content in a Pull-Up and even though it might be so saturated it hangs down to his ankles, he will fight me tooth and nail to change it. In the past few days, I have resorted to holding him down with one arm whenever I need to change a particularly offensive diaper - because otherwise, he will get up and run away.

You haven't experienced life until you've held down a 30-pound child to change their dirty diaper. You also haven't wished so fervently that someone else would be there to do it - so you could instead do something useful like ... eat a donut.

Since the girls have started to grasp the concept of using the potty - I have had to take a travel one with me everywhere we go. When the urge strikes - it is important to be prepared.

Even if that means we're on a sidewalk 1/2-mile from our house on the daily stroll.


*********

When I went in to see my ophthalmologist two weeks ago to remove an ingrown eyelash from my eyelid, I dropped in on the podiatrist, who is in the same building, to see if they could squeeze me in before January.

I had all four children with me.

I'm not sure if they thought that I really was in bad shape and decided to get me in sooner, or if my threat of coming back every single day, with all four of my children, until they found an opening was enough to persuade them. Regardless, they got me in the very next week.

Last Monday, the doctor cut out three ingrown nails, which he told me were in fact, the result of pregnancy edema. It hurt like H.E.L.L. Not the whole cutting thing, but the liquid nitrogen spray that he numbed my foot up with, beforehand.

Holy cannoli, it was almost as bad as my c-section.

Thinking that everything would be dandy once the nails were cut back, this week I have an abscess on one of my toes and the joint is so stiff and swollen, I can't bend it. Not to mention, Charlie keeps reminding me of his great-uncle that died in 1920'ish ... just before the invention of penicillin ... from an infection that started from a blister on his heel that he sustained while playing tennis.

Like I've been saying, my ingrown toenails may be the end of me.

And to think people say I exaggerate.

*********

My neighbor called me today and asked if I liked country music. When I told her that I knew all the words to "Coward of the County" and "The Gambler" I think she assumed I did.

It's not that I don't like country music, I just don't listen to it. Even though I received an "A" in a square dancing class I took in college and enrolled in a line dancing class through our community center a few years ago.

It turns out my neighbor has tickets to go see Tim McGraw in concert on Sunday night and wants me to go with her. When I enthusiastically said "Oh, yeah!! I saw him on Dateline the other night ... he recently divorced Renee Zellweger!" my neighbor clued in that I know not the first thing about country music.

Which would explain why I told the man standing behind me in the security line at the Oklahoma City airport a few years ago that I recognized him as a quarterback in the NFL. Apparently, I'm not very good with recognizing sports stars, either - because the man laughed and then clued me in that he was actually a musician.

He said his name was Garth Brooks ... something or other.

Ever heard of him?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

a real live teddy bear

Now, I just need for the temperature to drop below 80 degrees.

Regardless of how cute he may look, it's not wise to dress my 3-month old in a fleece snowsuit when his siblings are still running around in their bathing suits.

I just hope it still fits him once the weather finally is cold enough.

Monday, October 08, 2007

rescue me

We took the children to the open house at our local fire station on Saturday.

Upon our arrival, a kindly man from the Senior Volunteer Patrol, who didn't look a day older than 95, smiled brightly and asked our children if they wanted to be a "Junior Fire Chief" for the day?

When they all responded "YES!" he very carefully peeled a badge looking sticker off a roll of 1,000 and affixed it to their shirts. He then shot me a confused look when all three of the kids immediately peeled the stickers off their shirts and started to eat them.

What this man didn't realize is that when you are an almost three year old triplet, whose diet consists predominantly of strawberries and peanut butter, metallic stickers fill some kind of nutritional void.

Over the course of an hour, we climbed on to various fire trucks, watched a team of fire fighters use the jaws of life to peel the roof off of a car, and inspected the inside of an ambulance. All the while, Charlie and I kept up our running commentary that as great as it was to see the equipment and trained professionals in action, we hope with every fiber of our being that we never need it.

And then ... it was time to leave.

Unlike my previous outing experiences with our children, this time, there was no forewarning to the meltdown. One second they were happy and the next, they were screaming and running in every which direction. They were yelling at other kids inspecting the fire trucks "MY TWUCK! DAT MY FIRE TWUCK!! MOMMY!! I NEED WOWWIPOP! NOW!! I NEED WOWWIPOP ... WED ONE. NOW!! GIVE IT TO ME NOW!!!"

I've never seen anything like it. Charlie's children were laying on the ground, kicking their feet and thrashing.
We concluded that even though it wasn't yet noon, we needed to feed the kids their lunch and put them down for a nap.

Ten minutes ago.

We very calmly tell the children that it is time to go home and we are leaving. We also tell them that when we get home, we'll feed them lunch and read them a story before their nap. Making our way back to the car, I ignored the stares of people who were clearly trying to figure out if they were all ours - or if we were stealing them. And if so, why?

To get back to the car, we had to cross a street which was being managed by a team of retirees from the Senior Volunteer Patrol. Charlie was behind me, holding hands with both Elizabeth and Carolyn who were screaming "Mommy DO It!!" But when I tried to hold their hands, they screamed "Daddy DO It!!!" So, with a smile and the words "Good Luck!" I let my husband escort his daughters across the street.

I was midway through the cross walk when Elizabeth bolts away from Charlie and tries to catch up to me at the same time Carolyn pulls away and tries to run across the driveway in the opposite direction. Fortunately, Charlie has lightening fast reflexes and was able to grab both of the kids before they darted in to traffic. Holding them by their arms, he pulls them along, while they continue to scream.

I was walking with Henry in the Bjorn and William by the hand, who was whining extremely loudly about something that I absolutely couldn't understand. Soon, his whining turns to the intelligible demand "I need a dwink! Mommy!! I need a dwink NOW!! YOU GET IT FOR ME. NOW!!!!" Rolling my eyes up to the heavens I responded "William. It is I who need a dwink. I NEED A HUGE DWINK. NOW!!!"

He pulls his hand away from me and tries to lay down in the middle of the street. Which leaves me no choice but to bend down, grab his arm, and drag my limp child out of the cross-walk.

The kindly man who gave our children their morning sticker snack less than an hour previously, gives us the free advice "It would be easier if you just told them it was time to go and they need to hold your hand!!"

Do you think so??

Because with three kicking and screaming kids, I was thinking it would be easier if we just locked them in their rooms and never left the house again.

Not learning our lesson on Saturday, we left the house again yesterday morning and took the kids to a local outdoor mall for a walk. Because it was approaching noon, we opted to feed the kids lunch at the Food Court before heading home for naps. Charlie grabbed a table in the shade and was holding Henry while I took the three kids in to a small enclosed restaurant to place our order.

I tried to encourage the children to stay with their father, but they insisted that they follow me and cause my stress level to be 10 times higher than necessary.

Just inside the door, all three of the kids realize that the louder they talk, the more of an echo they create. While my eyes are quickly scanning the menu so I can place the order and leave, my children's little voices are escalating, escalating, ESCALATING. What started out as a hushed whisper of "Shhh. Please be quiet!" turns in to me hissing between my clenched teeth "FOR PETE'S SAKE BE QUIET!!!"

They get louder.

And louder.

I grab them by their hands so tightly I worry for an instant that I crushed them ... until I look down and see that their eyes are literally dancing with smiles and mischief.

Pulling them to the counter, thirty little fingers start frantically grabbing at straws.

And napkins.

And ketchup packets.

And anything else they could reach.

Sweet and Low.

Splenda.

Salt.

Pepper.

Lemons.

I get down at their eye level and holding their faces in my hands firmly tell them "KNOCK IT OFF or you are ALL going in time out!"

They straighten up and stand like obedient little soldiers at the counter, which is situated right at their eye level. The clerk taking my order gives a forced smile and comments on how "sweet" my devils little children are in their matching hats.

The words no sooner left her mouth when all three of them stick out their tongues and start licking the counter and laughing hysterically. I shriek "Ugh!! What are you doing?! Ick!! Icky!! Guys!! PLEASE don't lick the counter!!!"

Elizabeth runs over to the drink machine where she is standing on tippy toes trying to depress the ice machine lever. Carolyn walks over to a plant and starts pulling off it's leaves. William, for the second time in a week, spots a piece of chewed gum on the edge of a trash can, picks it up and holding it in front of his face yells "Mommy!! GUM!!!"

Ice shoots out of the machine while I try to grab Carolyn away from the plants and William who is now covered in a web of chewed gum.

We should have just gone straight home and fed the kids peanut butter, strawberries and metallic stickers, because they didn't eat a bite of their $12.00 lunch. Although they liked hot dogs a mere five days ago - yesterday you'd think I was trying to feed them cauliflower.

No surprise, this morning, every one - including the baby - is sick.


I don't know if the cold that they had from two weeks ago has resurfaced, or if the kids have passed on to the whole family an aggressive virus that they picked up from licking the counter in a mall restaurant, yesterday.

One thing I do know is that Henry has just taken a two and a half hour nap with my nipple in his mouth and our triplets will be three years old in less than a week. From what everyone has been telling me, three is much more challenging than two.

If their behavior this past weekend is any indication of what's to come, I'm in trouble.

I also fear that I'm going to see up close and personal the inside of one of those ambulances as they cart me off to the nut house.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

i need an intervention

By the time William is ready for school, one of two things will have happened:

1) I will finally learn how to cut hair.


2) I will finally learn my lesson and take my child to a professional.

Until someone stops me, or William objects, I'll continue to practice.

And be thankful that the Red Sox are having a good post-season.