Wednesday, September 30, 2009

thank you for being my friend

It was 30 years ago last month that I moved in to your home.

I was only eight-years-old at the time and I thought that my sister and I were just visiting South Carolina for a vacation. But when we didn't fly home and my mother and brother drove down from Massachusetts to join us a few days later, I knew that my life was about to change, forever.

Those were the most tumultuous days of my life. But you were solid ground. You made us feel safe and secure and welcome. You helped us to start over again. You showered us with your love and hospitality. You showed us, through your example, how a husband should cherish his wife and family, unconditionally.

Everyone has a story about you and just about everyone will say that you are the most amazing man that they have ever had the privilege of meeting. Children adored you. Adults did, too. You were kind and gentle and patient. You were humble and soft spoken. You had an incredible gift of making everyone feel important and special. And whatever you had happening in your own life, would be put on hold if someone needed your help.

Whenever you would talk with people, you were never distracted. You were always present in the moment. You are who I strive every day to be more like.

You were honest and respectful. You brought laughter in to all situations. You worked so hard and were motivated. You would stand up for people who couldn't stand up for themselves. You defended my family as if we your very own. You had an innate sense of knowing when to lend advice or support, a gentle ear, or a shoulder to cry on.

You saw the good in everything and in everybody. Even though you were given a terminal diagnosis, you never stopped trying. You lived each day to the fullest and you inspired everyone around you to do the same. And up until the very end, you kept your sense of humor. This past weekend, when my mother was visiting and she asked, "Is there anything I can do for you?" you gently laughed and said, "You could trade places with me."

There is little doubt that you are the most successful man I have ever met. But what defines success? Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote,
"To laugh often and much;

To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;

To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.

This is to have succeeded."

Your daughter, Margaret, called me at sunrise to tell me that you left us at 2:45 this morning.

But you haven't really left us. You'll never leave us. You'll always be a part of us. When I hugged you tightly last month and told you, through my tears, that I love you, you smiled and warmly said, "I know, Dear. I know you, do. Thank you for that. " If I'd had more control over my emotions, I would have said, "No. Thank you."

Thank you for taking us in and making us feel like a part of your family.

Thank you for looking out for me, and my siblings, as we grew up.

Thank you for taking me pony shopping when I was nine-years-old in your yellow MGB.

Thank you for being a shining example of what I should look for in a husband.

Thank you for being my advocate and friend.


No one lives forever.

But Uncle Bill ... you will forever live in my heart.

Five years ago, my Uncle Bill was diagnosed with nonsmokers lung cancer and given three months to live. When he heard that I was doing the 3-Day Walk, he told me that if not for clinical trial medications that were developed by the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, he would not have survived for as long as he had.

In recent months, the highlight of my conversations with Uncle Bill surrounded how much money we have raised to fight this dreaded disease. So to all of you who have generously donated to the various events that I have participated in this year, my most sincere thanks for helping to bring joy to one of my favorite people in the world.

what's in you wednesday

Earlier in the year, I crossed internet paths with Lani.

Lani has toddler triplets and she was questioning whether or not she could complete a marathon through The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training. The cause was so important to her, because several people in her life had been effected with blood cancers and she felt like she wanted to do something to honor them, and raise money to combat this brutal disease.

My advice to Lani was GO FOR IT!

She could definitely run a marathon - or at least walk it - and she could definitely do the fundraising. But I didn't know if she was convinced. So when I recently learned that Lani is registered to run the Walt Disney Marathon in January, with Team In Training, I was so happy and proud of this woman I had never actually met.

At the moment, Lani is in full-on fundraising mode for her run. Because she is involved with a number of different blogs, including the increasingly popular Multiples .... and More!


... and Who Knew Reviews, Lani is gaining a lot of publicity for some of the fun giveaways that she is hosting. She currently has a rocking blog party underway. Here's a link to the action:


For instance, if you are in the market for a new double stroller, you could have the chance to win this sweet ride. Not only would your children look awesome in this stroller - you would look awesome pushing it.


I just love it whenever I see people who have a passion to do something great for a cause near and dear to their heart. Like last month, when I was registering for the 3-Day Walk, I noticed that the top fundraisers are recognized on the main web page. Out of curiosity, I clicked over to see how much money the top fundraiser had managed to raise.

Her name is Barbara Jo Kirshbaum.

In the past 12 years, she has completed 100 long distance walks, which works out to 5,120 miles. That doesn't include any of the training walks that she probably put in, to prepare for the event walks that she has completed. Based on my own training regiment, I would suspect that in training, Barbara Jo has probably walked at least four times further than 5,120 miles. So it is quite possible that this one woman has walked a distance equivalent to one lap around the earth, and in the process, has raised over $1,026,000.00 for a cure to cancer.

Did I mention that Barbara Jo is 70 years old?

This year, she is planning to walk in 14 events, including five of the Breast Cancer 3 Days.

One woman, who didn't even start fundraising walks until she was 58-years old, has raised over one million dollars for cancer research, education and treatment. Barbara Jo walks because she cannot walk away and because she believes that research MUST stay ahead of this disease.

Now that is inspiration.

(Am I the only one with the chills?!)

Sorry Good Witch of the North, but you've got nothing on Barbara Jo Kirshbaum. I just figured out who I really want to be for Halloween.
And lucky for me, that should be a much easier costume to sew.

******

What do YOU hope to accomplish in your lifetime?

And if you haven't bought a silicone bracelet yet, why not?

I've got to catch up to Barbara Jo.

And to do that, I need to sell a mere 204,840 more.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

the case for chocolate

We've hit a phase where children who have to go potty, will resist going potty until the last absolute possible second. Even more than the girls, the boy is especially guilty of this action.

It is particularly bad if he is engaged with something. You name it - a toy, a book, a game, a dead fly. He will squirm and cross his legs and bounce. But if I ask him if he needs to use the restroom, he'll say, "NO. NO. I'm fine. I'm just .... dancing."

I try to coax him to just go sit and try, but he won't listen. Until another few minutes have passed and his dancing turns in to a full body convulsion and he screams out in a panic, "I HAVE GOT TO GO POTTY!!!" and then his arms start flailing around in the air and he gets hysterical.

"ARGH! HELP! ME! HELP! ME! I HAVE GOT TO POTTY!"


To help encourage the children to use the restroom - before their bladder explodes - I have initiated this little game of asking the kids if perhaps the food that they eat changes the color of their "output." If they have orange juice for breakfast, as soon as I see them start to do the potty jig, I will tell them, "I'll bet that your pee-pee is going to be orange today. Quick, let's go check!!" Or, if they eat blueberries, I'll suggest that maybe it will turn blue. Watermelon surely will make it pink. This almost always works and the kids will excitedly run in and see if perhaps today they will see a new color.

They never do.

(Except for that day they drank their body weight in carrot juice.)

A few weeks ago, we went to a birthday party. At that birthday party was a cake. And on that cake was some themed character, I can't recall who. But it was lavishly decorated in blue and yellow frosting. The kids loved it and ate at least two pieces, each.

The next day we went out to a restaurant for dinner.

While I brought the girls in the bathroom to wash hands before we sat down to eat, they both informed me that they needed to go potty. So they did. As I'm standing outside of their stall doors, fighting the urge to rush in and lift them up and down off the commode in my expedited fashion, I hear Elizabeth yell out, "Oh my gosh! My poop is GREEN!" Just then Carolyn yells out, "Oh my GOSH! My poop is green, TOO!"

Surely the kids are just kidding around I think. But when I go in to help them flush, I take a quick glance and sure enough, their poop IS green. Think Kelly Green. Saint Patrick's Day Green. BRIGHT green.

My first thought upon seeing my children's BRIGHT GREEN poop was that they must be fighting something. Maybe they had some kind of virus?

The girls wash their hands and we rejoin Charlie and the boys at the table. The situation is forgotten until later, when we are walking out to the car. I catch sight of a bright green car zooming out of the parking lot and I remember.

"Charlie, it was so weird, when I took the girls in to the bathroom they both went poop and it was bright green. Like grass. I don't remember ever seeing anything like that before." My husband looked at me with a surprised expression and said, "Really? That is crazy because William went poop and his was bright green, too."

We continued walking to the car, quietly debating why our children's poop was bright green. They certainly didn't seem sick and their appetites were just fine. When I asked Charlie if they'd eaten anything unusual in the past few days he said, "The only thing that I can think of is the cake that they had at the party." I stopped in my tracks and said, "You mean the birthday cake with the blue and yellow frosting smothered all over it?"

He gave me a puzzled look and said, "Yeah. Why?"

The light bulb went off.

"What happens when you mix blue and yellow?"


The kids, who were listening to all of this, yelled out "YOU GET GREEN!"

And THAT is why our cakes will be frosted with chocolate, forever more.

I've since discovered this website, which included a piece written by a guy working towards a degree in biochemistry. He conducted a study while he was in college and recruited several students that would eat various dye-laden food and then record what color came out the other end. My conclusion that the green poop came from mixing blue and yellow was erroneous. It actually had to do with the metabolism of blue dye.

Suffice to say, you can find anything on the internet and the blue Buzz Lightyear cake we had considered for the children's birthday is downright out.

I dunno. There just seems to be something unhealthy and toxic-like going on in your digestive system when bright green poop is produced.

Wouldn't you agree?

why do i bother?

I absolutely love one-on-one time with the kids.

Whenever I have them together as a group, I often feel a little overwhelmed, like I am facing a total mob scene. But when I can have them all alone, it's a completely different scenario. I get to see their personalities in full color and it is such a treat for me.

Yesterday, I took William to the store.

We went to the store because I needed to replace a needle on my sewing machine. I feel so domestic writing that. A needle on my sewing machine. But please don't be fooled in to thinking that I actually know how to sew.

The last time I sewed was about 14 years ago when I made my own Halloween costume. I was Little Red Riding Hood and Charlie was the Big Bad Wolf. The red cape that I made for myself looked like it had been made by someone who was totally blind and lacking hands. And you know, as I'm typing that, I'd be willing to bet that somewhere on this planet, there is a blind seamstress that with their feet, could sew perfect stitches around me.

I pulled my sewing machine out yesterday, dusted off 14 years of lint, read the manual for 30 minutes to remember how to secure a bobbin and then fired it up to fix a cushion cover for our couch. The cover had separated along the seam because it has been repeatedly washed and if I didn't stitch it closed soon, it was just a matter of time before the kids ripped the whole cushion apart. Our kids tend to be a little tough on the furniture.

As I'm sewing, I start to notice that the needle isn't going up and down. And instead of stopping and trying to figure out what might be wrong, I thought that perhaps the material was just thick and I needed to keep depressing the foot peddle.

Harder.

This is a photograph that Charlie snapped off a millisecond before the near tragedy that almost took out my eye when the needle snapped in half and an airborne piece of steel ricocheted off my cheek. (Lesson learned: ANSI rated safety glasses might be something to consider if you have no idea what you're doing with a sewing machine.)

(Does any one else struggle with putting their vacuum away? Although I'm rather fiendish about putting things away that aren't in use, for some reason, I leave the vacuum out a lot. Probably because I don't like the idea of dragging it out of the closet three times a day.)

Not one to be dissuaded, I grabbed the manual - my pocketbook - a band aid - and declared that whoever got their shoes on first could come with me to the store to buy a replacement needle.

William won.

But when it comes to getting shoes on first, William always wins.

(I don't know what it is with the girls and their shoes. Unless I do it myself, it will take no less than 15 minutes for them to accomplish this one seemingly simple task on their own. We're not talking about complicated lacing or buckles. We're talking about sandals. That are marked with arrows so they know which shoe goes where. And even when they finally do get their shoes on, 7 out of 10 times, they're on the wrong feet. Drives me berserk.)

William gets in to the car and comes with me to the store where we buy sewing needles and thread. And on the way out of the store, my young son happens to catch sight of the Halloween costumes and begs that we please walk down that row.

William spots a costume that in his words, looks "bad and scary."

He wants it, desperately, so I pick up the bag and review the contents.

It's a Transformer costume. But interesting to me is that my son has absolutely NO idea what a Transformer is. Still, he likes what he sees and for the past 36 hours, all that he has talked about is going back to the store and buying this Transformer costume. Because when he gets his mind on something, he doesn't let it go.

Last year, he dressed up as Buzz Lightyear for Halloween and for the next three months, he wore that costume almost everywhere that he went. Here he is the week before Christmas with Big Bird and Elmo from Sesame Street, in none other than his Buzz Lightyear garb.

Now, in my mind, I'm thinking that perhaps this year for Halloween, I can coordinate the children's costumes, once again.

Like old times.

When they would let me dress them up in adorable matching outfits.

But try as I might, I absolutely cannot convince my son to be anything other than what he wants to be. I've suggested that perhaps William could dress up as Prince Charming with his two Princess sisters but he scoffs at that idea.

"That sounds like a girl thing. All that girls want to do is spin around and have people clap. Mommy, I am really not doing that. It's goofy."

So tonight, when we are sitting around the dinner table, I broached the subject of Halloween costumes by telling the children the story of the Great Wizard of Oz. With excruciating detail, I created the image in my children's minds of Dorothy and her little dog, Toto. There was a big storm and a tornado. Dorothy was lost. She met the Scarecrow who desperately wanted a brain. She later met the Tin Man who desperately wanted a heart. She then met the Cowardly Lion who desperately wanted C-C-C-Courage.

Together, they voyaged to the Great Wizard of Oz along the yellow brick road.

(Imagine me singing the song. And for the record: I sing about as well as I sew.)

Along the way they met Belinda, the Good Witch of the North and the scary green Wicked Witch of the West with her flying monkeys. As I was telling this story to the children, they were completely engaged, listening to every word, with their beautiful blue eyes fixated on me.

I fully expected that by the time I finished the story, I would have them hook line and sinker.

The girls would be Dorothy and the Scarecrow, William would be the Tin Man and Henry would be the cuddly lion. I would be the the Good Witch of the North (or the Wicked Witch of the West - depending upon how I'm feeling that day), and Charlie would be the Wizard.

Awesome.

Family themed costumes.

So cool.


Wrapping up the story, I tell the children that after a number of distractions and detours, everyone finally arrived at Oz and got to meet the Great Wizard. Each person got to tell the Wizard exactly what it was that they wanted. "I want a Brain! ... I want a Heart! ... I want Courage ... and then there was sweet Dorothy and her dog Toto. All that they wanted was to go Home."

I pitch the idea of costumes to the family and the girls jump on it. Carolyn will be Dorothy, Elizabeth the Scarecrow. They buy in to the idea that Henry will be the lion and William will be the Tin Man. Charlie was distracted by this point with Monday Night Football, but when I asked if he'd be the Great Wizard of Oz he said, "Sure, whatever."

Which means he'll be fine wearing this.


(Certainly after he's had one of these.)

William climbed up on my lap and in a very serious voice said, "So, the Great Wizard will give people whatever it is that they want?"

I smiled and asked,
"Whatever it is. Son, tell the Great Wizard of Oz what it is that you want!"

Without hesitation, he said, "Mr. Wizard, I would like a Transformer costume. PLEASE."

The point of this post: I cannot sew. I cannot sing. I cannot convince my son of a single thing.

Monday, September 28, 2009

this decision is an easy one

I would love to start this post out by saying, "WOW, you all really helped me with the tough decision of going {or not going} on my upcoming business trip!" But did anyone take a look at those comments?

Could they have been any more evenly divided?!
Go on your business trip. Disneyland can wait- until next week.

I would go with the kids. They won't be little long.

It's the celebration and not the day that matters. Celebrate early or late.

Your job is just a job. The triplets will only turn 5 once.
Since I have 30 hours before I have to decide, I still haven't made up my mind. Infact, I doubt I'll actually make up my mind until 29 hours and 57 minutes from now. And then, I'll change my mind at least twice more in the remaining three minutes. If you've read this blog for any length of time, my inability to make a decision should come as no surprise.

Although, I think it's important to add that our children get in to Disney for FREE on their birthday. But the catch is - it has to be their actual birthday. Not the day after, not the day before. Birth certificates will be required. And since I'll be on a business trip the week AFTER their birthday, I couldn't go at that time. And since I'll be gone for the next two weeks, I couldn't go the week BEFORE their birthday, since I'll have a load of things to do before I leave. And only crazy people go to Disney on the weekends.

Instead of spending any more precious time worrying about what to do, I'm thinking I should just head out to the store and buy a few Powerball tickets. Did you know that the lotto is up to $170,000,000.00?

170 million.

That would definitely cover a few new pairs of shoes.

(AND plane tickets for the whole family to fly with me to Virginia.)

Too bad I don't believe in gambling.

Oh wait!

Yes I do!!

Look at what my children helped me to accomplish this weekend.

These are just some of the magnificent pictures that they colored for all of those wonderful people who bought a silicone bracelet for our fundraiser. (FYI: The whale does have two eyes. They are just on opposite sides of it's head. And that's not a sun in the sky. It's a red floating smiley face. Not creepy. Cute. Although, I have no idea what that brown thing is in the picture, above. A bug maybe? Definitely not a levitating poop. I hope.)


If you haven't yet entered that totally legal contest, there is still time.

(One week, to be exact.)

If you do decide to enter this contest, not only do you procure yourself an awesome new silicone bracelet, you stand a chance at winning a beautiful set of wooden blocks and ... this is quite possibly the best part ... you get a personalized drawing from our four-year-old artists.


In my humble opinion, there is nothing better in this world than four year old art.

Although, winning a $170 million dollar lottery might be close.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

crossroads

I am at a major crossroad in my life.

I've seen it coming.

It's been on the horizon for the past several years. I just felt like by the time I finally got to it, I'd know which way to turn. Alas, I've been sitting at what I perceive to be an intersection, with my blinker on for the past few months while the car behind me is laying on the horn.

Should I go left?

Should I go right?

Should I go straight?

If it wasn't for those tire spikes behind me, I'd throw this ride in reverse and back up.

For more than 20 years, I have worked, at some capacity in the environmental industry. I have worked in laboratories, consulting firms, and for a short stint with a governmental agency. Eight years ago, I was hired on with a major oil company and began what has been a dream job.

But once I had children, something happened.

The passion I once had for my career has been replaced with a passion for being a mom. (And then, writing ad nauseum about it.)

Although I had the advantage of working part time for the past few years, since May of this year, I've been back to full time work. Not because I wanted to, but because I had no other choice.

In the beginning, my workload wasn't very heavy, but with time, it has continued to grow. Over the past two months, there has been a lot of traveling, a lot of meetings, a lot more responsibility than I've had in the past five years, and from all predictions, my workload will only be increasing with time.

Less than six weeks ago, we returned home from our South Carolina vacation and since that time, I have traveled every week on a business trip. I spent one week at a hotel in San Diego for a meeting and then for the next two weeks, I was in Los Angeles at a trial. For the past two weeks, I've been gone to various meetings in Orange and Riverside Counties. Most days I'm gone before 6 AM and don't return home until after 6 PM.

In the middle of October, the same week that our triplets turn five, I am supposed to be at a meeting in Virginia. And the week after that, I'm supposed to be at a meeting in Santa Barbara. And although I recognize my attendance and participation in these meetings is critical for my career development, my attendance and participation in my children's lives is critical, too.

Oh, I know I'll just be gone for a few days.

I'm sure Charlie and the kids will be fine.

But will I be fine?


How will I do, knowing that I'm missing days upon days out of their childhood?

It feels incredibly unnatural to be away from the children for such a long period of time. But therein lies the complexity of this situation. When I'm working, I want to be with the kids. But then when I'm with the kids ... well ... sometimes I'd rather be sipping Chai Tea in a pedicure salon.

I keep waiting for things to get better and slow down at both work and at home, but it's like I'm caught in a vortex of crazy and I'm getting closer and closer to the center while things are going faster and faster. Does it help that my husband is starting up a company at this precise moment in time?

Absolutely not.

Although I do hope that one day he will be hugely successful, that isn't going to happen over night. So, in the meantime and unfortunately at this point in life - despite my fervent prayers for patience and compassion - I'm not the most pleasant person to be around. I want to be an encouraging mother and wife - but I'm frequently the exact opposite. Tonight, during one of my less than stellar moments, Charlie asked, "WHAT DO YOU WANT?"

Do I want to work?

Stay home?

Home school?

Move to a new house, new state, new country?

Sell everything and tour the world in a Winnebago?

Honestly? I don't know.


(Although I do know I'd like to have some trees.
Real ones, mind you. Not the kind that you buy in a 5-gallon bucket, plant in your barren front yard and maybe - if you're lucky - in 10 years, will give you 45 minutes of shade during the longest day of the year.)

I don't know if I have the courage to give up my career. I definitely couldn't do it now, since I'm the primary breadwinner. But maybe by next year, that will be an option for me. And if it is, do I have the patience and ability to home school? Do I seriously have the courage to do something totally different with my life?

The time is looming where I will have to make that decision.

This past week I had my annual review. For the past eight years, I always looked forward to my boss calling to tell me that my performance was exceptional and I was in the top third of the company. But this year I could tell that I was slipping. I wasn't carrying nearly the same number of projects and when special assignments would come up, I would run and hide.

Since Henry was born, I just haven't had the same work gusto.

When I return home from a 12-hour work day, instead of firing up my computer and checking e-mail, I curl up and read stories to my children. We eat dinner together as a family. Charlie and I talk while we get the kids ready for bed. I'll spend a half an hour tucking everyone in and saying evening prayers. And then, whatever energy I might have had to continue working has totally dissolved. And so I sit down and mindlessly update my blog and sip wine.

(It's cathartic. And it saves me a fortune in therapy. Thank you blog world. I love you more than you could ever possibly know.)

When my boss told me that my ranking had slipped, I felt genuinely embarrassed. Sure, I suspected it, but once I heard it, it felt like my privacy shade went flapping up and everyone could see I had morphed in to a total slacker. Almost immediately, I began strategizing what I could do to improve my overall ranking next year.

The very next day, I had a meeting with one of my coworkers. She is young and has no children. She is an absolute workhorse for the company, putting in 60+ hour weeks, routinely. She is a top performer who will be relocated within a matter of months to a new assignment.

She is who I was a few short years ago.

She is who I was before I had children.

See, I know exactly what it takes to be a top employee. I've done it for years. But I'm just not willing to do it now, because the sacrifice is too great. Although it has taken a while for everything to come in to focus, it is abundantly clear to me that I cannot be the best employee, the best wife and the best mother.

Something's got to give.

Because I am currently the primary breadwinner, I need to work. But I know that in the next few years, my position will be completely phased out. So at this moment, I have the choice of throwing myself in to my career with hopes of climbing up the corporate ladder and securing myself a new assignment when my current assignment ends. Or, I have the choice to continue treading water until my job dissolves and pray that Charlie's endeavor takes off and SOARS.

(The problem is, I'm not very good at treading water.)

(None of the women in my family are.)

(Whenever we do something, we like to do it well.)

One thing is indeed for certain. My job will not be here forever. But when I look at my small children, I know that they won't be here forever, either. And if I'm not giving them my absolute best, then nothing else I do right will really matter much at all.

(Please Mom, don't blow it!)

We were planning to do something special with the children for their birthday. Originally, we were going to take them on a cruise. But those plans have changed and now we are thinking of taking them to Disneyland. The question is, do I miss my hugely important (my boss's boss's boss's boss [and maybe even his boss] will be there) meeting in Virginia so I can take my children to meet Mickey on their 5th birthday?

I have to submit my RSVP by Monday morning.

What would you do?

Friday, September 25, 2009

the great inquisition

I recently read somewhere that an average four-year-old asks three hundred questions a day.

Times three, for us that would be around 900 questions a day.

Which I honestly think might be on the low side.

"Mom? Mom? Why don't octopuses have bones?"

"Well, octopuses are invertebrates. That means that they don't have a backbone, like you and me and instead they have ..."

"Mom? Mom? Why do birds lay eggs?"

"Well, that's just how their babies are made. They grow in eggs. Other animals, like humans for example, have babies that grow in ...."

"Mom? Mom? What is dirt?"

"Well, dirt is a whole bunch of things. But mostly, it is big rocks that were broken down in to very, very small rocks and sand. There are all kinds of ..."

"Mom? Mom? Where does yogurt come from? Why is tape sticky? Why does the door bell go DING DONG? Why do flowers smell pretty? Why do I have toes? Why is milk white? What is THIS? What is THAT?"

"Well, uh, yogurt is dairy so it comes from a cow, tape is sticky because - I have no idea that's just the way it's made, the doorbell goes DING DONG because there is a small bell inside that is rung when someone pushes the button, flowers are ..."

"Mom? Mom? Stop talking please. You are hurting my ears."

"I am hurting your ears? Oh, that's novel. My ears are still buzzing and I can hear you talking when you are in bed ASLEEP."


"Mom, your ears are buzzing and you can hear me talking when I'm asleep?"

"Yes Dear. That's what I said."

"Really? Are you telling me the truth?"

"Mom? Mom?"

"MOM!
"

Thursday, September 24, 2009

what's in you wednesday

Last week, I had a meeting in Orange County.

In order to get to that meeting, I had to leave my house at 5:30 in the morning.

My job was to meet with five of my co-workers (three men and two women) and review invoicing and contracting operations for a consultant that does work for our company. We needed to review files. We needed to review procedures. We needed to cross-reference time sheets against invoices against contracts to insure that we were being billed correctly.

This was a full-fledged audit.

Throughout the day, we called in an assortment of consulting staff for interviews in an effort to insure that they understood what they were supposed to be doing. And the people we were auditing were definitely on edge. Because even though they had everything in place - and the findings from their audit revealed that they were fully in compliance - going through an audit is a bit nerve wracking.

My coworkers and I were behind locked doors with boxes upon boxes of information that we needed to scour. And at least once an hour, I, or one of my coworkers, would pick up the phone to call the Vice President of the consulting company, who was the representative delegated to answering all of our questions. And if for some reason he couldn't answer our question, it was his job to find someone who could answer our question, STAT.

Lunch was brought in and while we ate, we worked. But about an hour or so after lunch, I could feel the energy begin to leave my body. At one point, I glanced up at one of my female coworkers, and we exchanged a look that was absolutely undeniable.

Words weren't even necessary.

I picked up the phone and called for the Vice President of the Company.

When he answered, there was a tinge of nervousness, because I have a reputation that precedes me. He knew that he was dealing with a hardcore professional.

This is how our conversation went.

Me: "Uh. Hi."

Him: "Is everything OK?"

Me: "No. It's not. It's really not. We have a rather significant problem here."

Him: "Oh oh. What's wrong? Should I come in?"

Me: "Sir? Where is the CHOCOLATE. There is no CHOCOLATE in this room. There is no CHOCOLATE anywhere in this office. I've looked EVERYWHERE. There isn't even a VENDING MACHINE. I am starting to FREAK OUT. Do you hear me? I am FREAKING OUT. We are under INTENSE time pressures to have this audit completed today. You do realize I cannot leave the premises?! So, how do you expect this audit to go well, under these seriously sub par conditions?!"

Him: "Yes Ma'am. I am sorry. We will have the situation corrected immediately."

A few minutes passed, but no more than five, and there was a soft knock on the door. When I opened the door, there stood the receptionist - and in her hands - was the largest bowl of chocolate I have ever seen. Larger, even, than the bowl I use at Halloween to hold 400 pieces of candy. In that bowl there were Reese's, Snickers and an assortment of gourmet chocolate imported from Switzerland.

I hugged her and kissed her, twice, on the cheek.

Interesting to me, is that myself and my two women coworkers, literally dove in to the bowl of chocolate. There were orange wrappers flying around, through the air, as we inhaled chocolate.

The men? Not at all.

They just sat in their chairs and continued to flip through invoices and time sheets, oblivious to us women-folk, as we got our much-needed fix.

The bout of craziness passed and all of our energy levels were restored. Our brains were able to function normally again, and so we continued the audit, without further incident.

This week, I power walked to Trader Joe's to pick up some critical supplies.


Later in the week, I power walked to another store to pick up more critical supplies. And then, I had to turbo-charge power walk home so my critical supplies didn't totally melt.

Hello. My name is Jen and I am hopelessly - I mean, HOPELESSLY, addicted to chocolate.

Recently, I've come to terms with the fact that I might never fit in a size two. Or four. Or six, even. Because until the day that chocolate stops tasting so darn good, or ceases to bring me an intense amount of happiness and joy, I am resigned to eating it. EVERY DAY.

Sooo. There you have it.

What's your addiction?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

the key is consistenc ... OH ALRIGHT

There is no doubt, our lives are just one series of adjustments after another.

Everything is dynamic.

Everything is always changing.

First there were the years of infertility.

Then there were newborn triplets.

Then there were toddler triplets, a surprise pregnancy with 100 pound weight gain, and a home remodel, with every appliance that we own, breaking.

Then there were toddler triplets and one newborn and a poop eating dog.

Then there were preschool aged triplets and one toddler.

There were full time jobs, part time jobs and no jobs at all.

Then there was the tentative, oh my gosh I sure hope this works out because it is costing an awful lot, start up company.

How we handle each passing phase is unique. But it seems that there is always the common thread between Charlie and I. We mustn't lose our mind. We mustn't try to figure it all out at once. We must take it one day at a time. We must do our absolute best to smile, laugh and enjoy the ride.

And whatever we do, we mustn't have more than one glass of wine at night. Because if we do - we might go a little nutso and turn the entire blog pink.

(That's a little love for my upcoming 3-Day Walk.)

Recently, we have been going through a rather difficult patch with Henry. Although his communication skills are exploding - and he is capable of speaking a lot words - Henry has these episodes of extreme frustration where he will throw himself on the ground and scream.

He wants what the triplets have.

He doesn't get it?

SCREAM.

He doesn't want to go in the bath.

He goes in the bath?

SCREAM.


He wants to stay in the bath.

He comes out of the bath?

SCREAM.


He wants to stand on the table.

He is removed from the table?

SCREAM.


He wants to run around with a pair of scissors.

Scissors are removed from his hand?

SCREAM.


He wants to come and sleep with me at 4:00 AM.

I leave him in his crib?

SCREAM.


He wants to be left alone.

You are looking at him?

SCREAM.


Do you see where I am going with this?

SCREAM SCREAM SCREAM.


Henry's screams are ear piercing and they will drive me to my knees in agony.

Because of that, for a while there, I would give Henry whatever it was that he wanted.

I'd actually take toys away from the older kids and give them to the baby. I'd give him a bath at a later time and then, I'd let him stay in the bath for as long as he wanted. I'd stand by the table to make sure he wouldn't fall off. I'd shadow him as he toddled around the house with scissors and do my best to distract him with other shiny objects so I could make the exchange without tears. I'd scoop him up at the first peep and bring him in to bed with me where he would nurse for the next three hours. I actually allowed myself to become a human pacifier.

All told, I created a monster.

Sure he is cute and adorable and oh, so sweet.

Except for when he SCREAMS. Because then, he's nothing but a demon child and it takes all of my maternal grace and loving powers to not toss him in to the garage and lock the door.


For the past few weeks, I've been throwing down the hammer on Henry's tantrums. Whenever he starts to wind up and go in to a SCREAMFEST, I will put him in his crib - or stand him in the corner. But usually, I'll put him in his crib, because I know that he'll stay there. And for anyone that feels compelled to warn me that I don't want to make his "safe place" a spot for punishment, save it.

It's either his crib or duct tape.

Know what I mean - jelly bean?

I am trying to wean. A little here, a little there. I'm not ready to stop nursing altogether, but I'm also not prepared to keep nursing whenever Henry wants. Which - if I abided by his wishes - would be several times throughout the day and ALL night. So instead, I am ignoring his cries when he wakes up screaming at 4 AM.

Funny me!!

I thought that if I just let him scream, he'd eventually go back to sleep because that's what ALL of our other children have done. But that defies the Law of Henry. Instead, he wakes up the entire house. And by 4:45, there are three groggy children standing next to my bed wondering if they can watch Curious George and eat pancakes.

&*%(^#$&^#* PANCAKES.

AT &$%*(^$)%*&^$#(*& 4:45 IN THE MORNING.

You've never seen ugly until you've seen me being woken up two and a half hours before sunrise being asked for PANCAKES and CURIOUS GEORGE.

If only we had a larger house, with one room that I could make TOTALLY sound proof by spraying with insulating foam, I'm sure that I could get Henry on a good sleeping schedule with no trouble. Because he would soon learn that I cannot hear his cries and therefore, he'd just surrender to the beauty that is sleep. But alas, he knows that I can hear him because I think that he hears me praying, "Dear God, won't you please SHUT that child UP?"

(Yes. I do say those things. To God, even.)

The triplets no longer nap during the day. Except for today when Elizabeth took an almost two-hour nap and now, at almost 9:00 at night, she is trying to convince me that I should make her a big bowl of popcorn and paint her toenails red.

I keep thinking that one day we will have this whole parenting thing figured out.

But today is clearly not the day.

And now, I need to sign off so I can go paint my daughter's toes and pour myself another glass of Chardonnay before I scoop my two year old son up and nurse him.

Don't judge me.

Don't you dare judge me.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

homeschool: grooming the green thumb

So, as I was writing my post the other day about wooden blocks, I remembered that I had once promised that once a week I would write about the various 'homeschool' activities we do around here.

And well, I got distracted and forgot.

(Like I often do.)

This past weekend, during our lemonade sales, my friend Mary came to visit us. While we were talking, Mary mentioned that she was really interested in my knitting posts, because she was teaching herself how to knit again. And, what ever happened to my knitting posts?

(Mary, it was really nice to see you. Thank you so much for dropping by. Here are the knitting posts I've written so far. Now that the weather is starting to get cooler - hahaha who am I kidding it was 96 degrees today, HELLO Fall Solstice! - I'll start up on that knitting thread - note the pun - again very soon.)

So where was I?

Let's see ... Charlie's cooking blog.

No, no. That wasn't it.

(But that will be soon. I promise.)

Oh yes!

Homeschool activities.

What I have discovered is that the more "real" life activities you can get your children involved with, the more likely they will enjoy it. For instance, the kids have a lot of fun washing dishes. So I'll pull up a chair to the sink, fill it midway with warm water, load it up with nonbreakable items, hand them sponges and soap and let them have at it.

We're talking MINUTES of soapy, watery fun.

I have also solicited the children's help to care for plants both inside and outside of our home. But because I think it is important that they have tools that are sized just right for them, I purchased children-sized watering cans, gloves, trowels and spades.

Does this sound idealistic?

It totally is.


But please, stick with me.

The children have a small watering can that they use to water the indoor plants each week - and I have them spritz off the leaves and wipe up any excess water that might drip on to our hardwood floors. Whenever the leaves on the plants start to turn brown or we need to cut off wilted flowers, I'll hand the children their blunt-edge scissors and they help me prune.

I believe that having children learn about plant care is a valuable life experience. Not only are you teaching children respect for another living thing, you are teaching them that with nurture and care, something can grow and thrive.


(Or, get hacked back to it's roots.)

I like having the children work in our flower gardens because it provides them a great opportunity to be outdoors and combat 'nature deficit disorder'.

Our children absolutely love examining all of the life that is teeming within the garden, just outside of our door. Worms, caterpillars, beetles and snails.

Working in the garden gives children a wonderful excuse to get dirty and pull weeds out by the hand full. But don't feel too discouraged if the weeds that they are yanking out are actually your imported herbs.

There is definitely a learning curve for children, and a patience curve for any adult that must be obtained in order for multi-generational gardening to be a success.


I love to see our children working with plants - and they love it, too.

But don't expect that gardening will be a full day activity for children.


Because like all things, after a while, they will get distracted.

And soon, they might start telling stories like, "I once caught a fish THIS big."

And you might wonder where in the world your child gets his short attention span.

(Surely it couldn't be me.)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

the pink lemonade project

If you're ever in need of a good fundraising idea, might I suggest a lemonade stand?

But to make it really successful, you might need to gather up several sets of triplets ...


Dress them alike ...


And set up shop in a busy pedestrian location.


Then, lead half of your similarly dressed children around the grounds in a "parade" while they carry homemade signs which advertise your cause...


And have the other half remain at the lemonade headquarters, looking adorable.


If you bring your fellow merchants ice cold glasses of lemonade, they might be so appreciative that they give you a show...


Or paint your face (and hands and arms) with glitter.

Keep in mind: the goal is to make money, so you don't want to eat ...


Or drink too much of your product.


It's great if you have some bruise-resistant fathers available to play with the children ...


So that mothers who wear pink pirate hats (that they had to pry out of their four-year-old daughters hands) ...


Can sell lemonade ...


Until they pass out cold.

All told, we made and sold about 20 gallons of lemonade which works out to about 300 cups.

There were so many highlights of my weekend. Watching our beautiful, healthy children run around and help drum up attention for this important cause was one. Seeing people generously contribute to something that has impacted so many of their lives was another. But the woman who had a mastectomy 12-years ago, that embraced me in a tight hug and thanked me - with tears in her eyes -was the most awesome experience of all.

Whenever I would ask people which cup size they preferred, more often than not, they would look at their chests before answering. Several women would wistfully say, "You know I always wanted a "D" cup!" and this weekend, it brought me SUCH JOY to tell them, "Well, today is your LUCKY day!"