Saturday, May 31, 2008

are you happy?

I don't know what's come over me the past few weeks ... but I've been treasuring each and every day while keeping at the very front of my mind just how fragile and short life really is.


Perhaps it's the knowledge that my little baby Henry will soon turn one, or perhaps it's watching the transformation of our triplets in to "real" people that when not whining, are becoming capable of having real conversations about real things.

Perhaps it's the realization that I've been in California for 17 years. I don't know if I've ever written about my move to California, but I was only suppose to be here for a semester and now, I've spent almost half of my life in this state.

Perhaps it was the terrible motorcycle accident that my younger cousin Joey was in three weeks ago today, that landed him in the intensive care unit - in a comatose state - kept alive by the miracle that is a respirator and a feeding tube.

Or perhaps it was my dear friend who was recently diagnosed with melanoma and their future is now punctuated with uncertainty. Or perhaps it was another dear friend, the mother of two young children, who at the tender age of 37, had to go in for major heart surgery on Tuesday. Or perhaps it was a work acquaintance that operated our local postal supply store who was diagnosed less than a year ago with cancer, and was laid to rest this past weekend.


Perhaps it is just me, growing older and wiser and realizing that you blink and 10 years have passed. And during that time, parents age, children are conceived - born and grow up, gray hairs and wrinkles appear and joints ache.


Everywhere around me are people that are so busy with their lives, their jobs, their families, the process of getting from point A to point B. And during that time, the sun rises and sets, seasons pass, real estate markets soar and crumble, fortunes are made ... and lost.


So the question is quite simple.

Are you genuinely happy in your life?

And if you're not, what do you need to do about it?

Friday, May 30, 2008

charles in charge

My husband was pretty wound up when I arrived home from work tonight at 6:30. I had planned to be home much earlier in the day, but was unable to leave a meeting as soon as I had anticipated. The triplets were literally bouncing off the walls when I walked in, and moments before I arrived, in the split second Charlie had taken a pizza out of the oven and turned to put it on the counter, Henry quickly crawled over and stuck his hand on a hot oven door.

The baby was crying.

The triplets were brawling.

The poor guy was frazzled.

Together, we put the children to bed and just as we finished a glass of wine to unwind from the day, we heard William call out that he had wet his pajamas, Elizabeth call out that she needed her TWO bunnies, and Carolyn call out that there was a big poop in her bed. When I went to investigate, I discovered that she had TAKEN IT OUT of her diaper and lost it somewhere under the sheets. While I searched and searched for the elusive poop, all I could think was thank heavens for wine because I might not have been able to handle that situation very well if I hadn't been a tiny bit intoxicated.

Later, I convinced my husband to sit with me tonight and tell me the details of his day. Perhaps he would find that by putting his day in to "words" it would help him see that things really aren't as bad as they might seem when you're in the thick of it.

So, he did.

These are his words.


I took the kids to the YMCA to go swimming today. The swimming part was fine, but it's the locker room that gives me trouble because men are pigs.

While trying to get Elizabeth dressed, I noticed an old, damp multi-colored pair of underwear in the corner and before anything even happened, I knew there would be trouble. Before I could stop it, Elizabeth picked them up, smelled them and yelled "EWW! PEE-PEE!" And I'm yelling "AAAARGH!!! DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING!!!"

This is just what I say whenever we go in to use a public restroom because men.are.pigs.

I mean, we don't need to sit on the things, so who cares if our aim isn't perfect?

I'll tell you who cares! Fathers who have to bring their little children in to use these bathrooms. What do you do when you have a kid marching in place and saying they have to pee? You've got to put them on something. It's not like you can just hold them up. I tried it once and it didn't work.

You know, I really notice differences in people. For instance, when I have the kids women will turn and say "Oh, how cute! Can I help you?" But I don't get the same reaction from men. Old men in the locker room have NO qualms about disrobing and walking by - totally naked - mumbling under their breath "What are these kids doing in here?" while my precious daughters stare unblinking and wide-eyed and all I can think is "Oh GOD please let me just get them dressed and OUT OF HERE."

I truly feel that being a stay at home parent is the hardest job in the world. You've got to keep your head on straight. You've got to be able to roll with the ups and downs and not go completely off the deep end when your child unrolls an ENTIRE roll of toilet paper in the toilet. I mean, come on! WHY do they do that stuff?

It's the small things that add up and you find yourself pulling your hair out over something that if someone saw from the outside, they might not think it is a big deal, but it IS. When you're IN IT, it IS a big deal. Then, I've got these kids that are looking at me to be even keeled and man, that's hard. You can't just shove them outside in the back yard and lock the door.

I tried that once too and it didn't work, either.

All I can say is I'm really looking forward to going in to work tomorrow.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

working from home

Shown below are two videos that I filmed earlier this week.

The first one was when I was trying to capture Henry doing patty-cake and in the process, caught Elizabeth pulling the full-sized comforter off her bed. I love the way she smiles and waves as she walks past the camera, dragging her pristine white quilt across the kitchen floor.



Meanwhile, Carolyn and William are completely emptying the contents of their dressers on to the floors in their bedrooms. Because that's what our children do, several times a day. I'm beginning to wonder why I even waste my time folding clothes. I should just keep them in a big bin in the family room.

Charlie, who had been "working" in our dining room, graciously stepped in to intervene - in his pajamas - because I was in the midst of filming patty-cake and didn't want couldn't put down the camera ... and well, this small clip perfectly captures what it's like working from home around here.

Chances are, you're in your PJ's, stepping in to help with whatever at a moment's notice. Oddly enough, even with the domestic distractions - my productivity is higher at home then when I'm in an office.

The second one was when I was trying to capture Henry walking behind his corn popper. This was the first time he had completed this feat, as evidenced by Elizabeth yelling "Henwee WALKING!!!" And in the process, caught Carolyn upset that William had taken - of all things - a banana.



Once again, Charlie is there to intervene and I'm thoroughly happy that we are both home as much as we are these days ... because a 2:1 ratio is quite often a whole lot better than a 4:1 ratio particularly when you have "fruity" toddler situations that need to be diffused and an adorable nearly-toddler to be videotaping.

Besides that, happy hour is a whole lot happier with another adult around.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

more of a good thing

Because I'm all about passing on good information when I receive it, here are some things that might help improve upon your life.


My friend Lorie, always one to keep me abreast of all things hip and cool, informed me of the Free Family Film Festival.

From the Regal Theatres website: "When school's out, kids around the country visit selected Regal theatres for the Free Family Film Festival. It's a fun-filled nine weeks of movies for kids and parents. Since 1991, Regal has provided this service to the community, and best of all it's FREE! Selected G & PG movies start at 10AM each Tuesday and Wednesday during the festival. First-come, first-served seating is limited to theatre capacity. The Free Family Film Festival is safe, lots of fun and a great way for kids to spend a weekday morning in the summer."

What's that you say?


You have small children in diapers and there is NO way you'd take them to a movie theatre??

A while ago, I downloaded several Pampers Gifts to Grow rewards - in the form of Blockbuster Night Cards. The reward included the rental of two movies, a tub of microwave popcorn and two 20-oz drinks. ALL FOR 50 POINTS.

Let's grab our calculator for a moment ... shall we??

The cost of two movies alone is $9.00 (including tax in California). Add to that a tub of popcorn and two drinks and you are looking at around $15.00. Compare that to the LL Bean or Starbucks $10.00 gift cards which are 100 points and 110 points, respectively.

For 100 points, you can get a $30.00 Blockbuster value.


Hence I therefor to art proclaim that absolutely, positively, the Blockbuster Night Cards are the best value of all the Pampers Gifts to Grow rewards.

Quick!! Go buy them now. Supplies are limited and I just ordered 10.

You might be tempted to use your Gifts to Grow points to donate lifesaving vaccines to UNICEF - and if you do that - BRAVO!! But, if you feel like you really need to have a date night with your spouse and watch two Blockbuster movies and eat a tub of microwave popcorn while sucking down two 20-oz drinks, do not despair.

You can still make a positive contribution to the planet when you visit the Breast Cancer Site (a button is provided on the top left of my blog) because after you donate free mammograms ... you can peruse all the other charitable tabs that are available through this fantastic website.

For instance.

The Hunger Site. You click daily. Sponsors pay for cups of food. Funds are split between Mercy Corps and America's Second Harvest and aid hungry people in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and North America.

The Child Health Site. You click daily. Sponsors pay for health care. "Your daily click funds the administration of Vitamin A to prevent life-threatening childhood illness and disease as well as one preventable cause of childhood blindness; the manufacture and fitting of children's prostheses so that a child injured by a landmine or other accident can still walk, run and play and still has a fighting chance to be a productive contributor in his or her society as an adult; eye surgeries that can reverse one kind of childhood blindness; and HIV testing that will alert medical personnel that a mother may pass the infection onto her child at birth so that she can be treated and the newborn spared of this terrible disease."

The Literacy Site. You click daily. Sponsors pay for books. "Education is a lifelong gift that empowers people to ultimately improve socioeconomic conditions for their families, communities, countries, and future generations. Through the opportunities that only an education can provide, we can break the cycle of poverty, one child at a time. Together, The Literacy Site and its international partner, Room to Read, provide books to children in some of the poorest regions of the world, including Tibet, India, Vietnam, and Laos."

The Rainforest Site. You click daily. Sponsors pay for habitat protection. "Your daily click funds the purchase of rainforest land by The Nature Conservancy, The Rainforest Conservation Fund, The World Parks Endowment, and Rainforest2Reef. These organizations work to preserve rainforest land in Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Paraguay and other locations worldwide."

The Animal Rescue Site. You click daily. Sponsors pay for food and care. This site provides food and care for a rescued animal living in a shelter or sanctuary.

As for me, after I watched The Miniature Earth video, I was reminded just how lucky I am to be one of the THREE that have an internet connection and I spent an hour on the Breast Cancer website donating food, books, and vaccinations.

I'd say that my daily visit to the Breast Cancer website has become a habit for me.

Each day, I go to the site and click on all the charitable causes FIVE times. Until I do that, I can do nothing else. Much like when I was in graduate school and I couldn't work on the next chapter of my thesis until I won three consecutive games of Spider Solitaire. Which, interestingly enough ... I haven't played since.

And no, even though I was suppose to ... I didn't go running tonight.

But after all this love I'm sharing, why do you have to go and try to make me feel bad?

Monday, May 26, 2008

let the record show: I'm TRYING

To hear my mother tell the story, when my sister Beth was around four-years-old, all she would eat was peanut butter. Nothing more, nothing less. One day out of sheer desperation - and frustration - my mother opened the kitchen window and heaved the jar of peanut butter through it, while telling my traumatized sister, "Buh-bye peanut butter!! BUH-BYE!!"

I don't know if that drastic measure to immediately expand my sister's palate actually solved the problem ... but I can certainly understand why I launch various things through our kitchen window on a daily basis. I can also understand why whenever I see a box of Hostess cupcakes, I shudder.

Growing up in our house, you could always tell when mom was serving up something particularly heinous daring for dinner, because that's when the cupcakes would appear. "Now, here's your liver and onions. And if you don't eat that, you can forget about having a Hostess for dessert."

Up until I had children of my own, I never really thought about bribing kids to eat. I never thought it would be a bad thing to let them eat whatever it was they wanted. I also never thought about how to get various foods in to their diet. But now that I have kids, I feel somewhat responsible for insuring that they have well rounded meals throughout the day.

I have read Deceptively Delicious and have become a master at whipping up spinach smoothies. But, to date, our children's culinary repertoire does not knowingly encompass dishes that include more than one ingredient ... or involve the color red, orange, yellow or green. This tends to be frustrating when we are planning meals because we only like to prepare one thing - that everyone will eat.

Sure, they love ice cream and O'Henry bars. But they would rather eat weeds and dirt from our yard, than eat salad. Or barbecued chicken.

Between the three of them, they can put away a single 27-ounce tub of yogurt in one sitting. If they are hungry enough, they can put away two. They will eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, grilled cheese, and cereal. They will eat a large variety of fresh fruits - but two of the trio won't touch any vegetables ... minus home made fries ... with a 12-inch chopstick. It's interesting to me because although she won't eat much, Elizabeth will at least try a bite of everything on her plate.

Meanwhile, the other two will back away as if the food we have served them is spitting hydrofluoric acid and their bones are at risk of dissolution.

So, today we went for a hike.

Once we decided what we wanted to do, and we got the children dressed appropriately and everything packed in to the car, we realized that an hour and a half had lapsed and lunch time was less than two hours away. Because we were anxious to leave - and we hadn't packed a picnic lunch - we decided that we would swing by a sub shop and pick up a large sandwich to share.

On the way out, Charlie and I had a discussion regarding what kind of sandwich the children would most likely eat. Sure, they'd eat peanut butter and jelly. But, what kind of children are we raising here? It certainly seems that we are catering to what they will eat and in doing so, are raising children that are extremely picky.

During the course of our discussion, we concluded that if a child is an overly finicky eater, it is the fault of the parents. If a parent only gives their child what they know they will eat, then the child will never be pushed to expand their tastes. And if there is one thing that we definitely don't want ... it's a finicky eater.

Finicky eaters drive me nuts.

People that will declare "Oh, I don't eat that." Or kids that sneer at food before exclaiming "YUCK!" Personally, I think it's rude and a poor reflection on the parent's ability to expand their child's tastes - or teach them to at least try different things.

Today, we were steadfast that we were going to nip this finickiness in the bud. We would not have picky eaters, so we bought a grilled chicken sub to share. Charlie had them put everything on it including pepperocinis, pickles, tomatoes, lettuce. It was delicious and we were adamant that the kids would EAT it and they would ENJOY it and that would be THAT. We even bought a small bag of potato chips to bribe entice them with.

Instead, the kids went on a food strike and for the next three hours, they didn't eat anything.

Not even a single potato chip.

But because I feel guilty about starving our children in the name of variety, when we arrived home, they ate yogurt, apples and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

And now, I'm ready to throw myself out the kitchen window.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

sweet stuff

So. I've been running. Although, I definitely wouldn't characterize myself as a runner ... even though I bought new running shoes and and new running socks and new running shorts and a new running top with a built in bra and a new running windbreaker and a new running watch and a new running iPod holder.

See, I believe that when you are dressed in the appropriate gear and you look good, you are more apt to succeed. Even if you resemble the Pillsbury Dough Boy squeezed in to Nike apparel and stumbling from a hot oven.

One thing I've noticed is that when I stumble run more than a mile, both of my feet promptly fall to sleep. Much like when I go down hill snow skiing, or spend more than five minutes on the ellipse machine. In fact, any form of exercise that requires my legs - minus cycling or swimming - cause my feet to fall asleep. I looked up my symptoms last week on Google, and I discovered that this problem could be the result of shoes that are too tight, a blood flow impediment, a pinched nerve, or a tumor.

So, either I need larger shoes with arch support and an aspirin, or ... I need to get my affairs in order.

I'm going to see a doctor later this week about correcting the problem (provided it can be corrected) and I really hope that they can help. Even though I never particularly like going out to stumble run, and the stumbling running itself can be a little painful ... I've discovered that the jolt I have after I've run is empowering. Especially once the feeling has returned to my lower extremities.

I've also discovered that if it wasn't for the group of fitness fanatics women that are cheering me on as I stumble along every week, I would have given this up the first week I started. And that would be really pathetic if I gave up a sport before I cut all the price tags off my new gear.

********

We went to see the new movie Iron Man on our date night. Our neighbor arrived just as we had put the kids to bed - and although I had told them earlier in the day that Charlie and I were going out to see a movie that evening - I didn't mention it again, before we left.

Because I know better.

I know that if I had told the children, as I tucked them in, "Daddy and I are going out and Sydney will be watching you and we will be back very soon and here when you wake up" they would have insisted that they come with us and/or loudly protest that we leave.

And the amount of time that it would have taken to console the children would have meant that we missed the movie altogether and/or had claw marks on our bodies that our children inflicted as we walked out the front door. And of course, our baby sitter would have been traumatized by three screaming children and our highly anticipated date night would have vaporized before our very eyes.

So, I didn't tell them.

And I'm glad.

Because the movie was great, the time away was awesome, and when we returned home, Sydney said that we hadn't been gone more than five minutes when the children were up. First it was William - looking for a drink of water - and then, Carolyn - because she heard her brother. But Sydney handled the situation without a call to us, which was fortunate because there was poor cell phone coverage in the theater.

Not to mention, we would have been hard pressed to leave after having just spent $21.00 on our tickets and another $12.00 on popcorn and a drink.


*********

Last night, I added a button for the breast cancer website to the top of my blog. I put it in such a highly visible place for three reasons:

First: To remind me. Breast cancer is the largest cause of cancer-related deaths among women and overall, one woman in every nine will get breast cancer at some time in her life. Screening for breast cancer by mammography can detect very early breast tumors when they are too small to be felt. Most of the breast cancers detected by screening are at this very early stage, when they are relatively easy to cure. An annual mammogram is recommended for women once they are 40 and studies have shown that women who take part in frequent screening are more likely to have breast cancer diagnosed early and are more likely to have it cured than those women who do not take part in mammography screening. If breast cancer is detected early enough, such as Stage 1 breast cancer, then the 5-year survival rate is as high as 98%-100%.

Second: To support others. I've seen an e-mail circulating around for the past several years that mammograms are available free of charge, to low income women, per click to the breast cancer website. After having received one of these e-mails the other day, I went to the website - checked it out - did a little research and decided that this was a cause worthy of my support. When you click the pink button on my blog, you will be directed to the breast cancer website, where you will be prompted to click the button below:




Third: So I may always remember. There have been too many women in my life affected by breast cancer. A little over twenty years ago, I lost my godmother and daughter's namesake and a little over two years ago, I lost one of my closest friends. Seeing the pink button at the top of my blog, will serve as a daily reminder to me, of my beautiful Aunt Carolyn and dear friend, Julie.

********

We had a surplus of dough the other day, and I whipped up some pretzels.


Because I'm a patient and loving mother - who hasn't considered abandoning her children in another country for 36 hours - after I drizzled the tops with melted butter, I let the kids help me sprinkle the tops with cinnamon and sugar.

They turned out pretty good ... but not good enough to write about.

The next time we made them, I let Carolyn drizzle melted butter on top, and when I peered over her shoulder, I noticed that she had drizzled an ENTIRE stick over two pretzels. At first, I was alarmed thinking that she was wasteful and OH! now I'd have to throw them away.


But instead, I sprinkled them with cinnamon and sugar and stuck them in a preheated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.


Wouldn't you know ... those two pretzels that were saturated with butter were the best ones in the bunch. Which is why I suggest that if you make pretzels, you use a lot of butter.

And oh. You might also want to take up running.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

¡Aye Carumba!

Every time I write a new post about how this phase of my life is especially difficult and oh, wow, when is it going to get better ... I almost don't publish because really, how many times should I say the same thing over and over again? Aren't you sick of me yet??

Then, I do publish and feel like a heel that I'm openly complaining about these beautiful children that I've been blessed with after having wanted for so long.

But here's the thing.

My children ... or rather, OUR children?


They are making me question my level of mental competence. Whenever I'm around them, I feel like I am skating on the thin ice of sanity and it is AFRICA hot outside.

Yesterday, I worked most of the day. Charlie was with the kids. I mention that because I wasn't even exposed to them that much. But when I was trying to get everyone ready for bed last night - with Charlie less than two feet away - I started to go mad. I don't even know what the children were doing that caused me to combust, but it was ANNOYING.

More than ever, I pray a lot.

I pray for people, situations, moments. But mostly, I pray for myself. I pray for guidance and strength almost constantly through out the day. Yet even with all this prayer and the request for God in my life AT ALL TIMES, it seems like the devil has a way of creeping in.

Seriously.

Today, while I was trying to load the children in to the car after swimming lessons and Elizabeth picked up a handful of dirt and threw it in Gracie's face ... and Gracie grabbed the third seatbelt that hangs from the ceiling in the back of the van and whacked Elizabeth in the head ... and William ripped the built-in privacy screen completely off the window ... I had a vision of driving down to Mexico and dropping them off.

That's right.

I envisioned abandoning my children in Mexico before picking up some carne asada, a case of Corona and hightailing it back home, over the border. While my children cried and searched for me, I'd be home sucking down a beer and cooking steak on the grill.

In a quiet, peaceful environment.

And this made me take pause.

Aren't mother's supposed to love their children above anyone else?? What kind of mother entertains the thought of abandoning her children in a third world country?? Worse probably yet than entertaining those thoughts ... was that I told them that if they keep up their behavior, they are going to go live with a new family that speaks Spanish.

When I called Charlie to tell him that I was having these horrible thoughts, he said "Jen, don't feel badly. It isn't abandonment. It's second-language immersion."

The fact that he can see where I'm coming from??

That's got to be the work of the devil.

So tonight, Charlie and I are going on a much needed date. It's the first time that we've ever left them with someone who isn't related to us. Once we feed the kids and put them to bed, our good Christian neighbor is coming over to read a book in our living room and hold down the fort. We're thinking of going to see a movie. Or maybe we'll drive south to Mexico.

There are no guarantees, however, that we'll be back.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

my true calling in life

After all the years that I spent in college and graduate school working for my BS and then MS degree... the tremendous effort exerted to obtain my state registration ... the years and years it took me to reach this level in my career ... today ... while I was sitting in an important business meeting forecasting the budgets that will be required for environmental compliance on the 35 service stations I manage in San Diego ... all I really wanted to do was finish the conversation I had started with one of my consultants regarding how to get his eight-month old daughter to sleep through the night.

The rest of the stuff that we were discussing?

Meaningless.

COMPLETELY MEANINGLESS.

I'm thinking that it might take more time than I expected to transition back in to this whole "working" thing.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

i'm an addict

Hi. My name is Jen.

It's been two days since I last inhaled a box of Trader Joe's peanut butter cups.


In my defense, I wasn't even PLANNING to eat that box. I had bought a lone box to send to Mandi in Texas. Yet when I came home from the store and deposited a grocery bag on the counter with the box of peanut butter cups perched on top, before running out to the car to grab another bag, Charlie took it upon himself to OPEN the box and eat one. Of course I was so angry I grabbed the box and ate the rest of them while asking my husband in between bites, "What made you think ... hmff chomp chomp ... THESE were for YOU?"

The boxes that I bought today, aren't for me. I'm sending them off to a few of my family members that live in areas where they can't get a TJ fix any old time they want. And of course, a box is for Mandi.

I'm seriously trying to wean myself from peanut butter cups. The past 24 hours haven't been easy, but with a race that I'm training for and all that exercise stuff I'm doing, I figure now is as good of time as any to start working on my diet. In lieu of peanut butter cups, I'm inhaling a bag of Philippine Brand Mangoes every two days. They are nutritious.


And lightly coated in sugar.

It seems that I've got an addiction to sugar. When I don't eat it, I get really grumpy. And when I do eat it - even if I'm grumpy - my mouth is so busy chewing I can't say anything derogatory.

Now here's something that might surprise you.

The kids are killing me. They are sucking the life right out of my body. I don't know what is happening with them, but every day seems to be a little more insane than the day before. Maybe it has something to do with our "new" schedule - or the weather - or their age ... but whatever the case, for the first time, I am thinking that the money we are spending for school in the fall is a DEAL.

What I'm dealing with is parenting to the extreme. I've got three three-year-olds that are dead set on acting their age and a baby that crawls almost as fast as his siblings run - that will not let me out of his sight - or he will wail - louder and more ear piercing than I ever imagined possible from such a small person.

When we came home from swimming lessons today, I was less than two minutes behind them with Henry and our pool gear, and when I rounded the corner to our family room, the kids had broken in to our movie collection. Elizabeth was pulling a VHS tape out of the plastic housing and Carolyn was flinging DVD's across the room. William was running around acting goofy. I don't know how to accurately describe this behavior. But it isn't cute ... it's obnoxious.


When I have them one at a time, they are totally different kids.

When I have two at a time they are totally different kids.

But wow, you get the three of them together and the gates of Hell open before my eyes. I haven't been handling these situations too well, lately. Nor do I handle it well when they pull each other down to the ground and wrestle like a bunch of rabid apes.

I know. I know.

These days will pass and one day I'll miss them. (Highly, HIGHLY doubtful. But whatever.)

Right now, I feel like I'm on a bad carnival ride and all I can do is close my eyes, pray for it to be over, and hope that I don't throw up.

Oh, LOOK! There's a box of chocolate. How convenient!

i was the one furiously taking notes

Before I keep diving in to organizational tips, which believe you me - I will continue to do - I want to quickly jot down some thoughts on a meeting I attended today. Actually, it wasn't a meeting so much as it was a training session. Regardless, I learned a lot that I thought was important enough to pass on.

The session I attended was an 8-hour "refresher" course for HAZWOPER (Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response) which is required for my job. Ever since having first obtained my 40-hour HAZWOPER certification in 1996, I have attended this 8-hour refresher course which is required to keep my certification - every year - for the past 12 years.

Sometimes, the course is so boring I will run a brand new pen completely out of ink drawing figure eights in my handouts. Other times, like today, the class is so fascinating - I am perched on the edge of my chair waiting to hear what the instructor will tell us next.

For the most part, we watched movies of catastrophic work place events that were completely preventable, in rapid succession. This was really troublesome because NONE of these events should have happened and as a mother, I kept thinking, "What if that was my child, inside?"

We saw footage of the Texas City fire at the BP Refinery in March of 2005 which claimed the lives of 15 people. We then watched a re-creation of the rocket fuel explosion at the Pepcon facility in Henderson Nevada in May of 1988. Here's the video. Sadly, the man that made the call to 911 was wheel chair bound from polio and perished in the explosion. We watched a video on a propane tank facility explosion in Korea. And then we watched a video on the fire at the EQ facility in Apex, North Carolina in October of 2006, that required the evacuation of 16,000 townspeople.

At one point, my co-worker leaned over to me and whispered "Holy Crap. This is like disaster porn."

We learned that up until recently (and perhaps even still?) many hard candies have high levels of lead because the molds used to make the candy are made with lead, and when the hot liquid is poured in, the lead leaches out. And the acidic content of the candy can cause further leaching.

We learned that much of the jewelry from the Oriental Trading Company and Limited Too, were made with between 87% and 100% lead. So, if a child ingests a clasp on the necklace - it could be fatal. Sure, much of this stuff was recalled last year. But I didn't get that memo.

Did you??


The maximum lead allowance is 0.06%, or 600 parts per million. However, the levels that were showing up in various toys were 11% or 110,000 parts per million. Almost twice what has been allowed by law for the past 30 years. This is why I believe in playing with natural wood toys and giving our kids pots and pans and a spoon to bang them with. This is also why I've spent the past 30 minutes evaluating all the toys on the Parents Recall website (for the past few years), to insure none of those items are in our home.

We learned about safe tips for fueling your vehicle. Things like ... explosions from static electricity igniting gasoline are a lot more common than one might think and 78% of those explosions involve women who are either getting in to their car while they are pumping gas to check on their children, grab their purse - or get out of the weather. We learned that to safely fuel your vehicle you should:

1) Always shut off the vehicle.

2) Once you've started pumping fuel, do NOT re-enter the car. Remaining outside of your vehicle will help to insure that you do not overflow your tank, and also - will decrease the chance of static electricity building up.

3) If you do need to re-enter your vehicle, touch either the metal door of your car - or the dispenser - to discharge the static, BEFORE you touch the gas nozzle.

4) Never leave the nozzle unattended.

5) Never smoke. (Preferably never ever. But definitely not when you are fueling up.)

6) Put away your cell phone. Although there have been no documented cases of cell phones causing an explosion at a dispenser, it could happen.

7) Do not overfill the tank or "top" off.

8) Use only the latch on the nozzle for holding the nozzle open. Don't pry a rock or keys in to the equipment.

9) Get fresh air/ventilation. Do your best to minimize inhalation of gasoline vapors.

10) If there is a fire from the nozzle leading in to your gas tank, DO NOT remove the nozzle. Instead, identify the emergency shut-off switch for the dispensers (usually located on the side of the gas station, by the door) and turn them off. Of course you'd also want to notify the attendant.

You'd think that since I work for a major oil company - I'd know how to safely fuel my car. But alas, it's only by the Grace of God I haven't been burned to a crisp because I always, always, ALWAYS return to sit in my car whenever I fuel up. But after watching several videos today where uninformed people would start to fuel up - return to their car - exit their car - touch the nozzle and cause a shock - ignite the fuel - pull the nozzle out and be instantly engulfed in flames ... I so solemnly swear I will never leave the nozzle again while it is delivering petrol to my vehicle.

I also know, from first hand experience, that if you ever have an oil fire while cooking, it's best to put the lid back on the pan and turn off the heat. My best friend in high school and I discovered that putting our burning french fries under water will only cause the flames to grow from 6-inches to SIX FEET and create an inferno which will ignite grass wallpaper.

That incident which cost several thousand dollars of smoke and fire damage, was the last time I was left at home on a Friday night for years.

We learned that one of the most common causes of death in workplace accidents (where chemicals are involved), is because one person succumbs to vapors and passes out ... and another person sees the downed person and tries to rescue them before succumbing to vapors and passing out. So the lesson here is, if you see someone passed out in a chemical plant - or where you are unsure of the atmospheric conditions - it's best to not rush in and try to save them until you know what you are dealing with.

And oh ... if you are in a part of the country where you have 911?

ALWAYS CALL FROM A LAND LINE. And if the line to 911 is ringing and ringing and you don't think anyone will ever answer, DO NOT HANG UP. You're better off to leave the phone dangling because the operator will trace the call and dispatch help. But if you hang up, they'll never know how to find you.

The problem with calling 911 from a cell phone is that the calls (at least in California) are routed to Highway Patrol and those folks have a lot going on. It is their priority to respond to the officers in the field before they respond to the general public. So, if there is an incident taking place with their guys - your call regarding a car accident, or heart attack, will have to wait. I know every time I've ever tried to call 911 from a cell phone, I've either had a busy signal or have had the phone ring for a solid 10 minutes before anyone answered.

The lesson here is if you have a cell phone, you are better off to program the number of your local police or fire department directly in to the phone because you'll have a much better chance of rapid response in the event of an emergency.

And do you know the number for the American Association of Poison Control Centers?? If not, it's 1-800-222-1222.

We learned that all accidents are preventable. Except of course, those that are the result of Mother Nature. Accidents usually occur when people have a lack of experience, expertise or are attempting to save time or money. They also occur when people work too much and are fatigued. To identify those people at greatest risk of an accident, we should evaluate whether there is:

1) A tolerance of safety deviations

2) Complacency

Seeing as I smile and nod when my children are QUIETLY playing with scissors and I grab my camera when my three-year-old climbs on top of our cabinets to reach an indelible magic marker ... something tells me I'm teetering on the brink of disaster.

Monday, May 19, 2008

an amazing trip trick: organization (part iii) the kitchen

In my dream house, there is a walk in pantry with ample space for cans, Costco-sized boxes of cereal, infrequently used appliances, a locking door, aromatherapy candles and a chaise lounge where I can relax and eat chocolate in peace.

Because I don't know when we will move in to our dream house - if we ever do - we are doing our best to make this house, the one where we live right at the very moment, be the house that we've always wanted. Even though it is about 30% the size of what we'd like it to be.

A few years ago, before we had children ... in fact, right around the time we thought for sure we'd spend the rest of our lives childless and never need to move in to a larger house ... we put in granite counter tops, installed the sink of all sinks, and because once we started upgrading - we couldn't stop - we replaced all of our perfectly functioning appliances with new stainless steel ones.

Less than a year later, we had triplets.

Very soon after our babies came home from the hospital, I could see that storage space in our cabinets was going to be a significant issue. We only had a few shelves to store food and appliances, and accessing the food and appliances was extremely difficult. Moving food outside to our garage wasn't a viable option because we had dogs in the garage - and every so often - rats that are the size of house cats.

Besides, the one time we had tried to store a brand new gallon of olive oil in the garage, some furry life form ate clean through the bottle.

One day while I was standing in our kitchen, asleep on my feet, I had a vision of a pantry consisting of large drawers, built in to an area that was currently occupied by a useless desk. So, out came the desk and we installed a four-shelved pantry system that now holds more food and appliances than the rest of the cabinets in our kitchen, combined.


Equally important as that upgrade - was the installation of roll-out drawers on select cabinets. This relatively simple and inexpensive upgrade has expanded the usability and efficiency of our kitchen more than I could have ever imagined. It has also saved my back and knees from having to bend down and hunt things out from the far back of cabinets.


We moved all of our bulk dry goods (i.e. flour, sugar) in to plastic canisters with labels so that they are readily accessible, the contents are clearly visible, they stay fresh longer, and are easily stored. We also purchased canned-good risers, which are plastic tiered shelves that allow you to position canned goods higher, so you can see what you've got. These are available at most home stores (Bed Bath & Beyond comes to mind), although you could also create your own by using 2x4 pieces of wood.


We went through our cabinets and got rid of things that had expired (like this apple cider vinegar that went bad THREE years ago) and consolidated duplicates.


We scrutinized all of the appliances that were taking up valuable storage space and made the decision to part with certain items ... like a cracked fondue pot that hadn't been used in 15 years. We also moved a vast majority of our canned goods (tamper proof) outside to our garage to free up space in our cabinets for the children's arts and craft supplies. I then moved all of the children's plates and bowls in to their own drawer, and stock all of their sippy cups in a large basket. We stock bibs and face cloths for the children in a large basket, too.


To recap:

1) We identified a space in our kitchen where we could better utilize the space by constructing a pantry. Although this construction project cost us ~$2,000.00 ... it was a lot less expensive than selling our house and moving because we had no place to store bread. Another alternative here would have been to put in an open-face shelving system and use large baskets for storage.

2) We installed roll-out shelves which made the functionality of our cabinets substantially better. This improvement cost around $70.00 per shelf, but I've seen metal mesh roll-out shelves that cost half as much.

3) We cleaned out, consolidated and containerized whatever we could. We used canned good risers so we could see what we had in the cabinets, more easily. Dry bulk goods, cereals, nuts and similar items were put in containers that store the material better and are stackable. I then labeled the containers with the contents on the front. Personally, after trying a lot of various storage systems, I like the Sterilite Ultra Seal Food Storage set and have two full sets in various sizes. The plastic is grade 5 polypropylene, as opposed to grade 7 polycarbonate (which may contain BPA).

Eventually, once I work up the courage, I'm planning to move the children's cups to a lower shelf in our kitchen, so that they can help themselves to drinks of water from the door dispenser on our refrigerator - whenever they need it. But I'm not there yet.

Seriously? I can't imagine that I will trust our children with running water, whenever they want it, anytime in the next five years.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

moments like these make (almost) all the challenges vanish

Every night, I'll sit and say a prayer with the children before they go to sleep. After we pray for our friends and family - and for love and patience and compassion - I'll tell them that I am so thankful that they came to live with us.

Tonight, I told them that an angel brought them to live in my tummy when they were itty bitty teeny babies ... and they grew and grew until they were finally born. I told them that I was so happy I called out to the angel, "Thank You for sending me these babies! Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!"

They sat looking at me for a moment, before William reached up and with a gentle hand touched my face and said, "You're Welcome."

And to think ... earlier in the evening I was prepared to lock them in the garage.

Friday, May 16, 2008

while we're on the topic of unorganized thought

I haven't really posted anything cohesive for a while. You know, where the entire post follows one topic or train of thought. Sure, I could - but then I'd only be updating my blog once a week and that definitely won't do.

Now that I'm working again, I'm trying to juggle my career in with everything else that I've got happening. To date, I haven't yet reached the "cruising altitude" where I am successfully implementing days of flawless execution. Instead, it feels like I'm caught in a pocket of turbulence and there is dirty laundry and bushels of clothes that the children have outgrown but have yet to be organized - flying everywhere.

They are covering up my car keys, wallet, and cell phone with the dead battery.

I can't go anywhere, buy anything or talk to anyone. One might think I'd be able to get a host of things done under those circumstances, but I haven't been able to summon the quiet peace of mind that is necessary for me to create any kind of cohesive post (regarding organization, perhaps? Four weeks later?). Yet, because I have so many things to report on (and so little time), I'm clumping everything together in one blog entry and calling it good.

But also, over there, << , on my sidebar, I'm posting little mini blogs (140 characters or less) through Twitter. I know that there is a whole lot more that you can do with this program than what I'm doing ... but for now, this works great for me. It's like a rapid river stream of consciousness. Because when I've got a lot on my plate, I like to distract myself with more ways to not get things done. That's just the way I roll.

*********

On to the subject of nicknames.

For my children, William goes by Will, or, more recently, "Will the Pill." Elizabeth goes by Beebay, or Zizbeth. Although, come to think of it, these aren't nicknames as much as they are her siblings trying to sincerely pronounce her actual name. Carolyn is Gracie. Or, more appropriately, Gwacie, to William and Elizabeth.

I'm all for nicknames and although we largely use our children's formal names, sometimes I will call them an abbreviated version of their name. Some people don't like nicknames because they think it is too confusing for the child ... which I can understand.

Then there are people that have nicknames that are completely unrelated to the child's name at all. Sometimes, I'll call our kids "Love Bug" or "Little Peanut" just because these are terms of endearment for me.

Yesterday at the park, a four-year-old boy was playing with our children. His mother came over and introduced him as "Pooh Bear." I thought that was really cute, because he did kind of resemble Winnie with blond hair and a round belly. But all along, I was thinking, surely that's not the child's real name... that's got to be a term of endearment.

But at one point, he started to run away from his mother and in to the parking lot. She was calling after him, louder and louder to the point that she was hollering "POOH BEAR!! STOP!! RIGHT NOW!! POOH BEAR!! IF YOU DON'T COME BACK HERE, WE ARE GOING HOME!! POOH BEAR!! DO YOU WANT TO GO HOME?!"

If there is one time I would unequivocally use our children's full name, it would be when they are running full speed in to a parking lot. So, if that is indeed his name, unless he opts to go by "PB", something tells me that not only is this kid going to be ruthlessly teased, it's going to be tough finding "honey" when he grows up. Much like the girl I met whose name was Syphilis. No kidding, it was pronounced "Sih-phyllis." Her mother picked out the name after reading it on a sign in the doctor's office the day she learned she was expecting.

*********

Have you heard of the Sinus Rinse?

It's similar to the Oprah-endorsed Neti Pot, but purportedly better??

Earlier this year I had the flu. It lasted, with variable intensity, for almost 12 weeks. For three months, I was sick. I fell ill a few days after I crowed about how to STAY HEALTHY!! and was so sick I could hardly pick my head off the floor. Then, I had bronchitis and a sinus infection so bad I thought for sure I was on my out.

One day, while I was at the pharmacy aimlessly searching for something to make me feel better, I spotted the Sinus Rinse. It was right next to the Neti Pots that I'd heard my mother talking about (after she saw them on Oprah. Of course). So, I picked one up and read the label.

I made the purchase - brought it home - followed the instructions - rinsed my sinuses - had the sensation of snorting a nose full of sea water - and felt better almost instantly. Within a few days, I was 100% better. Charlie started to feel sick a few weeks ago and I convinced him to use my Sinus Rinse. Which he was vehemently opposed to because Charlie does not like sharing ANYTHING that pertains to personal hygiene. But because he was slipping fast, he gave it a shot. He did it again over the course of the next three days and boom, the cold never manifested.

This could be purely coincidence, but I think not.

The argument that I've heard as to why nasal irrigation works, is because colds and flus originate in your nose. Nasal irrigation helps to mechanically clean out the "nooks and crannies" of your nasal passageways, which can provide relief from colds, allergies, and a host of other sinus troubles.

While at Costco last week, I felt like I'd hit the jackpot when I saw that they were selling a package containing two Sinus Rinses for those families that CANNOT share personal hygiene items for around $18.00. This was a great deal, considering I spent $14.00 on one at our local pharmacy. (Sadly, the Costco twofer deal is only in California).

Because I have a streak of practicality much like my mother who thinks that toilet paper is a great gift, I bought several of the two-pack Sinus Rinse kits and plan to give them away at various birthday parties I attend this summer.

Happy Birthday! Here's a douche, for your nose.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

life with sisters

Whereas the girls were striving to be pretty princesses...


William's intention was to be a scary monster.


In pink crushed velvet Dora pajamas with faux fur sleeves.

hear me out

If you are doing something that you know - or suspect - is wrong, don't do it.

But if you feel that you must, don't document your activities in writing or take photographs of yourself in the act. Even though you might think that your words and pictures are safe, there is always the chance that they could be forwarded to an unintended recipient. Or, your computer (or cell phone) might fall in to someone else's hands and they will hack in to your system and discover all of your secrets.

So just ask yourself this...

Is this "thing" that you are doing something that you would want for everyone that knows you to know about? How would you feel if your "little secret" was presented to a court of law - or broadcast on television? If the prospect of that makes you a little uneasy, then whatever you do, do NOT put your thoughts in writing and/or upload electronic pictures of yourself.

For instance, if you work for a chemical company and you are trying to cover up toxicological data that shows certain substances definitively cause cancer ... don't send out an e-mail directing your personnel to "Destroy any and all data immediately!" If you do, there is a good chance that the police will come knocking on your door, and slap you in cuffs.

Similarly, if you are having an affair, don't write all the details of your encounters in e-mail and include racy pictures of yourself. If (or more likely - when) you get caught, there is a good chance that your infuriated spouse will print out every single e-mail and photo, make multiple copies and hand these copies out (in tidy 1-inch binders), to everyone you know.

A little common sense goes a long way.

*****

If you have a healthy baby, your child should be capable of sleeping through the night by the time they are 10-months old.

Yes, they should.

They should not be waking up at 11:00 PM, 1:00 AM and 4:00 AM to eat.

No, they should not.

If you enjoy having a child wake up numerous times throughout the night and disrupt your sleep patterns, that's one thing. But if you are exhausted and irritated and losing patience with your child - and your spouse - and anyone who comes near you - do something about it. Prolonged sleep deprivation will wreak havoc on your emotional, physical, familial, and marital well being.

*****

Don't spend more than you earn. Putting yourself in to dire financial straights is very seldom a good idea.

For instance, if you buy a house and then decide that you can't afford the house, don't think for a minute that it will help matters if you take out cash advances on every single one of your credit cards.

Your bad financial situation will be a whole lot worse when you've got $100,000.00 in credit card debt on top of your mortgage.

*****

Don't waste your time or money on mini peanut butter cups. Twenty mini cups are the equivalent of two standard peanut butter cups. Not only do the mini peanut butter cups cost more per volume - they melt all over your hand when you grab them by the fistful.


And really. It's not like you could ever eat just one.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

10K training. With triplets

I took the kids to the park today, thinking that maybe if I brought a few balls with me - they could chase after the balls - while I ran laps around the soccer field. Although they love to do this every other time we've ever been to the soccer field ... today, chasing balls wasn't an activity they were willing to embrace.

Instead, they wanted to catch a ride on the front of the jogging stroller while I ran back and forth. If it wasn't their turn to ride on the front of the stroller, they would run screaming after me, "Don't weave, mommy! DON'T WEAVE ME!!"

Although I did my best to convince them that I would never leave them in the park (which now that I think of it, is contradictory to what I told them yesterday - when it was time to go and I said I would leave them if they didn't get in the car), I only managed to run back and forth across the field twice before my children were worked in to a three-year-old hysterical crying frenzy. Yet, once I stopped running, the kids were perfectly content to look at beetles scurrying through the grass. And fill our potty chair to maximum capacity.

In the middle of a field.


They could have sat and looked at beetles while I ran laps around them ... but, no. That would have been much too convenient for me. So, I pulled out our trusty kite and ran with it while the kids chased after what I told them was Mr. Ray's shadow, and that is how I finished my 20-minutes of running.

Running after three kids is much different than running with three kids.

To accomplish the latter, all it takes is a little ingenuity, a portable potty chair, and the ability to not trip over kite string.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

all I need is a larger dog door

I noticed that our children have been squatting down and peeing whenever they go in the back yard. When I saw them doing this yesterday, I asked why they weren't using the potty chair that I had put outside. All three of them started bouncing around, barking and excitedly exclaimed "Cuz' we are DOGS!"

Because I think quick on my feet, I told them that if they were dogs, maybe they'd like to eat dog food for dinner. Surely, they would take one bite of Molly's lamb and rice formula and decide that no, maybe being a dog wasn't a good idea, after all.

Of course they loved the sound of this. And as it would turn out, they loved the taste of kibble. Now, that's all they want to eat. For breakfast, lunch and dinner I hear, "Mommy, can we have DOG FOOD?!"


Because the potty training isn't going too well for one of the trio, I took someone's advice from a few months ago and recently handed my child a packet of wipes to clean up their own poopy bottom, after they went in their diaper. I thought that they would be dismayed at the thought of cleaning up their own mess, but alas, they enjoyed it.

So, I took someone else's advice and told my child that the next time they went poop in their diaper, I was putting them in a cold shower. I didn't believe that I could actually do this, I mean, it seems so cruel. But when I was awoken early in the morning one day last week, by my daughter who was laughing about the HUGE poop that she'd just made, I caught a glimpse of my desperate and frustrated self in the mirror with crazy hair and crazy eyes and was a little surprised that I was beyond excited about creating serious discomfort for my offspring.

Turns out, she loved the cold shower and has been asking to take one every day, since.

I've since decided that my life would be a whole lot easier if I just left out a big bowl of kibble and let them do their business in the yard.

Monday, May 12, 2008

a few little points to ponder (iv)

If a child doesn't like to eat the crust, they will eat an interesting pattern around the rim of their bread. Or bagel, which doesn't even have a crust ... but that is neither here nor there when you are three.


I don't know why our children don't like to eat the crust of bread. This isn't something they've learned from me ... because I love the crust. I think that an aversion to crusts is the nature of children. Much like it is in their nature to scream "ECHO!!" or "AARRGHH!!" whenever they are in any area that might cause a reflection of their sound waves.

Like a public restroom.

Or a canyon.

Or a church sanctuary.

Interestingly enough, when you take heels of bread - which are the texture and consistency of crust - to the pond to feed the ducks - those very children who have an aversion to crusts, will confiscate the bag of heels and stealthily try to consume every last one. They will delight in eating food that just a few moments earlier - during a picnic lunch - caused absolute repulsion.

So, if you are having a difficult time getting your children to eat their vegetables, try feeding them to the ducks. (The vegetables, that is.)

********

When I was at the store this past weekend, by myself, I saw a father shopping with his 2.5-year old twin girls. As I stood at the checkout counter next to him, I watched, with a gleam in my eye, as this man tried to purchase a few new pairs of pants and a pair of shoes, while keeping his children from pulling everything off the counter. It was difficult to contain my laughter because the girls were so cute and the father was so flustered.

Sometimes, I don't think our children are very cute. When I'm in an environment where my kids are pulling everything off the counter, I don't think they are cute at all.

But to onlookers, they probably are.


The lone parent who is doing the best they can to keep their children contained while they complete a simple errand without terrible disruption, may not realize that they are providing validation for someone who really needed it that day.

And quite possibly, a smidge of comic relief.

********

So, I'm training for this "big" race on the Fourth of July, right?

I ran last Saturday with my "team" and then I didn't do anything - not a single thing - except eat an untold number of peanut butter cups and worry "How am I EVER going to get ready for a 10K race in less than two months time?!"

This past Saturday, I skipped the weekly training session with my team because Charlie was still recovering from his hurt back and we had a garage sale that needed to be managed. No running the first week and missing the second team meeting?

That's called being off to a LOSER start.

Yesterday morning, I received an e-mail from my running buddy and fellow triplet mom, Jessica. This is from her e-mail:

"OK - so at yesterday's run ... during "group" (which I did stay for after all) we were continually mentioned in the same breath as the woman with the 5 week old (now 6 week old). e.g. . . "Well. I am finding this running so challenging but I told myself if a woman with a new baby and 2 triplet moms can do it - I can do it!" etc. etc. And now for the topper . . . [our coach] was discussing her group with the President of the whole running group (nationally) - and she wants to FEATURE US (you and me baby) in the National newsletter for June. Oy. Get ready...!"

I ran on Sunday, minutes after receiving Jessica's e-mail, and I'll be running again, tomorrow, Thursday and Saturday.

Because I'm not a runner - never have been a runner - and don't much like the idea of running ... although I love the idea of having a runner's physique and endurance ... I have embraced the "Couch-To-5K" plan that Christine and Lisa suggested. Except I'm doing Couch-To-10K, but I'll be following the same principles of the 5K training outline. Currently, I can't run more than 90 seconds without feeling like my limbs are going to fall off and my lungs are going to explode, but I'm sure that will improve.

It has to.

Nothing motivates one to put down their peanut butter cups and lace up their running shoes like knowing they are going to be FEATURED in a national newsletter in less than a month.

********

Like a bolt of wisdom from the heavens, I recently realized that the reason that Henry hasn't been sleeping very well - is because I am putting him down way too late for his naps. Once I made a minor tweak to his schedule - I remembered that this is exactly what I had to do with the triplets and I couldn't believe that I'd forgotten the fundamental principle for getting a baby to sleep.

Henry wakes up at around 5:00 AM to be nursed. I bring him to bed with me, and he'll nurse and snooze for the next hour and a half. He wakes up, and I try to feed him breakfast by 7:00, no later than 7:30 AM. Up until a week ago, I was keeping him up until 9:00 to go down for his first nap. I know realize that I should have been putting him down before that time, because he was overtired.

And although it seems counter-intuitive, a baby that is overtired doesn't sleep well.

He now goes down for his first nap by no later than 8:00 AM. The first time, he stayed awake for 45 minutes - with a variable amount of crying - before falling asleep for 45 minutes. But since then, once I put him down he will usually fall right to sleep with no crying and will sleep for a solid hour and a half. He is awake again by 9:30 or 10:00.

His second nap of the day happens right after I feed everyone lunch, around 12:30 or 1:00 PM. Although "ideally" I would put him down for his second nap around noon, I keep him up a little later to coincide with when the triplets take their nap.

Henry will sleep for anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours in the afternoon, while the triplets will sleep anywhere from two to three hours. Sometimes, I'll give him a pacifier to extend the nap if he wakes up earlier ... because although I said before blah blah pacifiers ... I'm constantly changing my mind about things.

Last week, I could never imagine wanting to have more children. But now that I've got a whole hour and a half to myself during the afternoon, I could see having four more. Hence it appears that not only am I indecisive ... I am mentally unstable.

********

This past weekend during an outing to Balboa Park, we all wore our new Life Is Good t-shirts. We also all wore our Columbia wide-brimmed sport hats, cargo pants, and (those that are walking) Keen shoes. I thought we looked so cool, the six of us, in our matching garb.

We were out of our car for no more than five minutes when a woman came up and started to photograph us. Then, another woman walked over and said "You are SO cute in your matching hats and shirts. Oh my gracious, what a cute, cute family!!"


Charlie shot me a look before pulling off his hat and putting on a sweatshirt. Then, he exasperatedly said "Jen, I am not cute. Nor will I wear things that will provoke absolute strangers to come up and tell me that I am. I'll never do this again. Wearing matching outfits is CORNY."

Yesterday, as we were driving in the car, the song "Green Eyes" by Cold Play came on the radio. Charlie told me that he has been practicing this song on his guitar and has changed the words from "Green Eyes" to "Blue Eyes". He said that this song brings tears to his eyes every time he hears it. But even still, he is planning to sing this song while strumming his guitar, at both of our daughter's weddings.

*chortle*

I bet the girls would love that.

So long as he isn't wearing his wide brimmed Columbia hat, that wouldn't be corny at all.

If both of our daughters elope ... the mystery isn't lost on me.

Friday, May 09, 2008

we're possessed

The only time that I ever lose my patience with our children, is when I have something to do and they are interfering with my completion of that task.

For instance.

I need to fold the laundry. I fold it and put it in the basket, they take it out and scatter it around the house. I need to clean up the floor because contractors are coming any moment, to rip out and replace some of our hardwood. They are two steps behind me making twice as large of a mess as what I just cleaned up. I need to make a phone call. They run around screaming like banshees at the top of their lungs. I need to sit down and pay the bills. On the rare occasion I don't pay online, I reach for my checkbook and it has been hijacked and decorated with PWINCESS stickers. I want to go to sleep. They don't. I need to go from Point A to Point B. They take off their shoes, often times - all of their clothes - and run in the opposite direction.

They pick up and chew used gum from the sidewalk, lick the receiver on a public pay phone and cause sheer chaos at every turn. Just because.


When they were infants, it was definitely easier. I could secure them behind a gate and there they would stay while I did what I needed to do.

Today, when I was cleaning up from lunch and I thought the kids were napping, I looked outside to see Elizabeth sitting naked in the sandbox playing with random parts of Charlie's new BBQ that have not yet been assembled because my husband is incapacitated.

Then there's Carolyn and her refusal to poop in the potty. She's not constipated. She is perfectly able to go, she just won't until she is in a diaper. A diaper that she must wear at night because otherwise she will wet the bed that she shares with her sister. The one time I tried to use a waterproof pad at night, she wound up sleeping on top of the blankets and drenching her quilt and down comforter. This is quite unlike William, who also wasn't constipated, but declared an all-out poop strike and wouldn't go at all and would stress and strain and grunt and groan just to keep it in.

Good times, people.

Good times.

I'll never forget my mother telling me, when the triplets were babies, that I always need to be kind to them. That sounded simple enough when I was looking at my helpless premature infants. Of course I would always be kind to them, why would I not?!

Now I know.

I am trying to get something, anything done, and they make the completion of even the simplest task infinitely more difficult. I'll tell them "Children! Children!! I want to spend every waking moment focused on you and only you. But I must have a few moments to myself so that I can complete this one thing. I must prepare food for us to eat or we will all perish. Believe me, if we would all thrive eating Doritos, meal time would never be an issue, again!!"

So I lose my patience on a colossal scale, because when I turned around to take out ingredients from the refrigerator, someone knocked the baby down and he hit his head on the floor. And somebody else is bending the curtain rod because they are using our drapes to swing like Tarzan. And somebody else just pulled an entire dozen of eggs off the counter and they splattered all over the floor. And that empty paper towel roll that I had moments earlier, lovingly handed to them to use as a telescope is now something that I snatch back and smack them over the heads with.

Oh, they try to run. But their little legs are not NEARLY as fast as mine.

As I'm doing this, I'm beating myself up for being a terrible mother, yet find myself unable to get a grip. Then, there is the verbal barrage that is now being directed at my invalid husband who gives me a look that says "You might be overreacting just a bit" and although I know I am overreacting, I am tired because I haven't had more than four hours of sleep in at least a year and I am frustrated that he tried to lift a five-burner grill ALL BY HIMSELF on to our wagon for transport to the back yard, while I was at the park with his spawn children.


He knows not to do this kind of lifting on his own, because he has a bad back. But does he ever listen?? The correct answer is NO, instead of waiting for me to come home and help, he tried to do it all by himself so he could surprise me with a nice dinner.

I'm absolutely certain he told me that so I wouldn’t kill him on the spot.

Add to that, we have our neighborhood yard sale tomorrow morning and although this was something Charlie was excited to handle, it’s now something I must handle. And at this point, watching the kids while also trying to manage a yard sale sounds more painful than trying to run two-miles in under 30 minutes.

All of these topics, and then some, come in to our conversation.

The $350.00 glasses that he lost at the swimming pool, the bunny that Elizabeth lost at the museum, the giraffe that Carolyn lost at the park, the one shoe that William lost when he kicked it out of the back of the car before I closed the sliding door - from the front.

The mind that I have lost, long ago.

I was talking with a co-worker about this absolutely insane period of my life and why it is that things seem so chaotic. Then it dawned on me.

I told her "You know what I need?"

She nodded her head and said "A nanny."

And I said, "No. An exorcist."