Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A Few Little Points to Ponder

Although a layman might not know if our child wants a banana or the sharp scissors sitting on the counter - I have a pretty good clue by the way they look at me and shout "ARGH!"

Despite our best efforts at teaching the kids sign language, they communicate with us by yelling. Except for when they hear running water. Sprinklers, toilets, the washing machine or dishwasher ... send our kids in to fanatical baby sign language marathon of "Bath."

Taking down the 14-foot long baby gate that separates our playroom (aka: family room) from our kitchen might have been premature for a few reasons:

1) There are few things more challenging than unloading a dishwasher with 3 toddlers underfoot. Unless, your goal in this task is having 75-pounds worth of kids on top of the dishwasher door ... eagerly pulling out all of your glassware ... and sharp utensils.

2) There are few things more challenging than opening and closing a refrigerator with 3 toddlers underfoot. Unless, your goal in this task is having six little hands pull everything out of the door and off the shelves with warp speed.

3) There are few things more challenging than sweeping a floor following meal time with 3 toddlers underfoot. Unless, your goal in this task is to embark on a game of tug of war over a broom with three small children. While, simultaneously, keeping them from eating all of the food - and dust - and dog hair - that are now in disorganized piles across the floor.

When hard pressed for something to do to keep kids occupied (while you attempt the tasks above), little stools propped in front of a light switch work great. Provided, lights getting turned on and off in rapid succession don't give you an intense migraine.

It's getting a lot harder to keep toddlers happily engaged. It's getting a lot harder to divert attention away from the refrigerator, dishwasher, broom, sharp scissors, biting one another and smacking each other in the head with any object handy ... then it was last month.

The Wiggles can be considered educational television.

The concept of time out (TO) doesn't work too well when the child enjoys the experience so much that they throw a temper tantrum when you bring them out.

Administering eye drops to a baby sounds a lot easier than it actually is. It takes Charlie and I, and a lot of force, to put two drops in to Elizabeth's eye ... three times a day. I think that we'd have an easier time getting Elizabeth to spell "conjunctivitis" then we would treat her for it.

If I don't post on my blog for more than three days ... one of the following has occurred:

1) We have gone on vacation;

2) My *paying* job has completely consumed me;

3) Our computer and/or internet is dysfunctional.

Nothing fills up the curse cup faster then when Blogspot will not accept photos ... at 1 AM. Currently, IOU the curse cup $7.75 from my Memorial Day blog posting experience last night. Hopefully, the technical difficulties that I was encountering will 'self resolve' and I can post my pictures and story soon.

If you don't take a shower first thing in the morning before the kids wake up ... it's a guarantee that you'll still be in your pajamas at noon.

William just pulled an entire stick of soft butter off the table and is eating it. Note to self ... maybe little stools in the kitchen aren't such a good idea, after all.

Memorial Day Weekend

I love weekends. I especially love three-day weekends. In my typical fashion, I tried to squeeze as many things as humanly possible in to the time spanning from Saturday morning, until Monday night. We accomplished a lot. Here are some of the highlights...

Saturday, we spent the better part of our day at Coronado Beach, recently rated the second best beach in the United States. We parked the van directly across from the beach, in front of a little house that was up for sale. When I say "little" I mean it looked like a one-story beach bungaloo. I couldn't imagine that this house, construction circa 1960, was more than 1,800 square feet. Imagine our shock and horror surprise when we saw that the sticker price for this "little" house was $8,000,000.00 (that's EIGHT MILLION dollars). I don't know what confused me more. The fact that they were asking $8.0 million dollars for a house which looked to be less than 2,000 square feet ... or the fact that they actually had fliers hanging from the Century 21 sign in the front yard. Hmmm...?

It took us a few seconds and some quick number crunching to recognize that moving to Coronado Island on two part-time salaries is out of the question. It took us a few more seconds to recognize that we don't need no stinkin' bungaloo, directly across the street from the second best beach in all of the United States. Now, if it was the BEST beach in all of America - THAT would be a different story.

After several hours of eating and playing with sand, taking turns pushing strollers across the beach (and over each other), covering Dad's piggy toes, and climbing all over the lifeguard tower ... we enjoyed dinner at a cozy Mexican restaurant. We're getting extremely proficient at eating out.

Dining at a restaurant with toddlers isn't too bad, so long as you keep these pointers in mind:

1) Have a means for keeping the kids somewhat occupied until the food arrives;

2) Only dine at those establishments where you can expect fast service;

3) Don't worry too much about leaving a mess.

I'm a neatnik by nature ... so that last one is hard for me. I find myself tidying up before we leave, stacking the highchairs, wiping down the table and picking up food and half eaten crayons off the ground.

I hate the thought of someone having to cleanup after us, so we've started leaving an even more generous tip then we normally would, to help offset some of the guilt.

Sunday found us hosting a barbeque. Our good friend, Virginia, came down for the afternoon and our kids loved having someone new in the house. As bedtime came calling - I scooped the babies up, brushed their teeth, got them in their jammies, and put them in their cribs.

This rapid exit from what they considered to be the best party of their entire lives didn't go over too well. Infact, it didn't go over ... at all. After 10, 20, 30 minutes of hysterical screaming ... I conceded that they weren't going to go to sleep.

Take II.

Babies came out of their cribs. They were allowed to run all through the house. While eating triple fudge brownies.

Now THAT'S more like it.

After the kids excitedly covered Virginia in chocolate kisses for 30 minutes, they were returned to their cribs, where they cried for less than two minutes, and promptly fell asleep.

Each day I am learning more and more that the name of this parenting *game* is flexibility.

Rigidity when it comes to bedtime is no good. No good at all.

ESPECIALLY when you've got company over.

Monday, we loaded everyone up in the van and headed off to the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. Once I was old enough to understand the significance of the Memorial Day holiday, I've always tried to do something to reflect on the sacrifices that so many people have made for our country. You know ... something other than using the day off from work as an opportunity to get "No payments, no interest for three years on a new refrigerator!" Or car. Or whatever.

This year, we spent the morning of Memorial Day paying tribute to the brave soldiers that have fought and died for America.

As I was walking among the headstones and lives I've never known, I felt overcome with sadness. One marker really stuck with me.

A young man, aged 21, died on May 19, 2003 during "Operation Iraqi Freedom". There were still flowers on his grave, probably placed there by family on the 3-year anniversary of his death. I wondered what compelled this young man to join the service, maybe 9-11? What was he doing in his life before he was sent in to a war zone? Did he leave behind siblings, a girl friend ... a dog?

I can barely remember the person I was when I was 21-years old. I've changed and experienced so much since that time. I'm absolutely certain that those who loved this person are still raw from the loss of his passing.

Here I was, an absolute stranger, mourning his death and the life that he will never have ... the marriage, children, and grandchildren he will never know.

The headstones were lined up, almost as far as the eye could see, thousands of them ... for people that have served the United States. And this is just one of a hundred or more military cemeteries...

So many of the markers, were for young people, in the prime of their lives, that died while in service to this country. As I stood there, with tears in my eyes, I couldn't help but think of the families that these soldiers left behind. Particularly the mothers. Every single ounce of my body aches just thinking of what these people have lost.

It made me feel good to be at this location, on this day, honoring the sacrifices that so many have made. In addition to that - this Memorial Day was one of the most beautiful days that I can remember in recent months.

Fort Rosecrans is situated on the end of Point Loma, a peninsula in San Diego. The cemetery is on a bluff, overlooking the Pacific Ocean on one side, the Bay and City on the other side. It probably sounds odd ... but there was something revitalizing in seeing three little children running around the headstones on this picture perfect day. I saw firsthand, that our kids brought a lot of smiles to people's faces that were sitting in the cemetery, reflecting over their lost loved ones. There's something about a pack of one year olds ... running around with "Snack Traps" full of goldfish ... that just makes you grin.

On the way home, we decided that our eating out skills are always up for some fine tuning. So, we stopped by Joe's Crab Shack. (Worthy to note ... I am convinced that we do a better job at home cooking up meals - - than anything we can get eating out).

The name of this restaurant says it all. Point #2 in our list above for "successfully eating out with toddlers" was seriously lacking at Joe's.

Carolyn Grace wasted no time letting us, and everyone else in the restaurant know that she was extremely unhappy with the service.

Considering there were only two other tables occupied, I can't help but wonder if the goal of our food server was to see just how long she could hold off on bringing out the cornbread before our kids erupted in to a heap of despair.

I tried to make light of the situation by joking that crabs weren't ONLY on the menu. I don't think our waitress appreciated my humor ... so I didn't feel the same pang of guilt walking away at the end of our meal, from what appeared to be a macaroni and cheese explosion beneath the table. (I love this picure of the kids sitting around the table. Doesn't William look positively thrilled to be eating out ... again?!)

Wrapping up our weekend, we gave William his 8th haircut - which wound up being a 2-person, 45-minute hack job.

Provided he had his lovey blankie available to chew on, William did fine managing his fear of the electric clippers (which were really Charlie's battery operated goatee trimmer. Did I mention that the battery died 1/2 the way through the haircut ... forcing us to complete the rest of the "procedure" using dull kitchen scissors? Oh, I forgot to mention that??)

If we are going to cut our kids hair, we really need to get some training on how it is suppose to be done. Honestly, our son has the most beautiful golden locks of hair, and here we are chopping it off, all the while asking,

"Does that look even?? Oh no!! How 'bout now?? OK, OK ... I give up. YOU fix it!!"

Thankfully - it always grows back fast. And, he's too young to know any better.

PS: After struggling for much of the day trying to upload photos ... I finally made the switch to Mozilla FireFox and PRESTO! I am a picture uploading fiend. I'm pretty illiterate when it comes to computer stuff ... so for those who don't know - Mozilla replaces Internet Explorer ... and as far as I can tell ... it works great.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Hurricane Toddler Classification System

Our trio will be 19.5 months old, tomorrow. I thought that the first year of their life went fast. That ain't nothing compared to how this second year is clipping along. I wish I could throw on the brakes to slow things down, because I just cannot believe that in 4.5 short months ... our babies will be two.


From what I understand, *these days*, kids are "terrific" when they're two. I don't know what happened to the "terrible twos" but I hope that people *these days* aren't switching the nomenclature as some kind of joke.

During our last pediatrician appointment, Dr. J told us to be prepared that as our kids approached their 2-year birthday, they were going to have increasingly strong opinion(s) on matters. His analogy was the Hurricane Classification System. Right now, we're only at a Class I. But come their second birthday ... we'll be looking at a Class III. I was confused.

"Aren't there five classes of hurricanes?"

He chuckled. "Yes, there sure are. But you won't see the more destructive phases until they are three years old."

That really hit a chord with me. "The more destructive phases." See, Charlie and I had just had a conversation that our children are like a pack of carpenter ants. They literally work together as a team and mangle everything in their sight. I honestly believe that they are dead-set on destroying, or killing, every single item in this house. Our plants are rapidly withering away - their leaves in shreds, top soil all over the ground. If they could talk, the plants would undoubtedly ask "What did we ever do to deserve this?"

My question is simple. How in the world could our children be any more destructive than they are ... right NOW?

I've received at least 15 e-mails in regards to the yard sale we had last weekend. People were writing to me, inquiring how we were planning to transition our kids out of their cribs. I was dumbfounded.


I went back and re-read my posting and believe the confusion stems from us selling all of our crib sets. I need to clarify. We sold the crib bumbers, dust ruffle and comforters from all three of our cribs. The babies were becoming extremely proficient at escaping by using the bumper pads as a leg up. Even without the bumper pads ... William escaped from his crib for the THIRD time the other night. I heard a thump! and within a matter of seconds, he was cruising out of the nursery with a big smile on his face.

Panick, like nothing I've ever experienced, sets in whenever I think of the absolute mayhem that would rein, should our children not be confined to sleep in their cribs.

A friend of mine suggested that in lieu of crib tents, I flip the crib over, upside down ... so that the only open part of the crib is now on the floor. Charlie recently constructed an ingenious cover to protect our stereo, from the wrecking crew, using plexiglass. Another friend recommended that we purchase more plexiglass and place it over the tops of their cribs (secured with velcro), to keep them in.

Would it be awful to say we've seriously considered both of these options?

My mother slept in a crib until she was seven years old. Of course, she was the youngest of nine children ... and grew up during the Depression when money and bed availability (of the non-crib variety) was tight. I don't know if we'll be keeping our kids in their cribs until they are seven. But, maybe until they're four. Or five. Or, at least until the "eye" of this Hurricane passes.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Got Milk?

We've got milk. We've got lots of it. But, ever since Operation Bottle Wean, the babies milk consumption has gone from a staggering 127.82 ounces (1 gallon) a day to a mere 4 ounces (1/2 a cup). There is ONE reason, and ONE reason alone that this significant reduction has occurred.

The receptacle from which the babies receive their milk has changed.

Out with the bottle. In with the sippy cup.

I know that our kids are getting adequate hydration because I'm still changing about 12 diapers a day. But, because I'm a "new" mom ... I worried endlessly that they weren't drinking the volume of milk that I thought they were suppose to be drinking. They need whole milk for the Vitamin D, calcium and probably most important - for the fat that is critical to their developing brains.

Everything I'd heard and read said that a toddler is *suppose* to consume between 12 and 20 ounces of milk a day. I'm lucky if over the course of a week ... our kids consume 20 ounces a milk ... across all THREE of them. So, despite every thing I'd tried - - including every kind of sippy cup on the market - - we were falling way short of the required consumption of this hugely important toddler dietary staple.

As I was debating what to do to get the kids to drink milk, minus their bottle, I stumbled across what I thought to be a wonderful piece of advice. Someone on a parenting board I visited had posted that their pediatrician recommended adding a scoop of Nestle Quick in to the baby's bottle. Why, that seems harmless enough. I'll give it a shot!

I didn't have Nestle Quick ... just a bottle of Hershey's. I added about 1 teaspoon per sippy cup ... and low and behold ... the babies sucked the whole thing down. Thinking this was a fluke, at the next feeding - I filled up their cups with milk again, added another dash of chocolate magic ... and again, they polished off their milk and looked ready for more. I called Charlie at the office.

"I figured it out!!! I figured out how to get the kids to drink their milk!!!"

"You're kidding?! What did you do?!"

I hesitated. "Well ... I added a tiny little dash of Hershey's syrup." I barely whispered the words.

"You've got to be joking. You're giving our babies chocolate milk?!"

He didn't whisper the words back.

"You ... YOU ... the one that won't feed them white bread or give them so much as a hot dog ... are giving our kids chocolate milk. You are unbelievable!"

"Yes. But. They are DRINKING it!"

"Of course they are! It's chocolate milk!!!"

Our milk consumption again soared to 1 gallon a day. The babies loved their milk. And I was loving the fact that they were getting the Vitamin D, calcium and fat for their developing brains. When they'd sit down in their highchairs they would frantically point at their sippy cups and point at the refrigerator. I thought that I had cracked the code and all was good in the world.


We went to visit the pediatric dentist.

I wasn't kidding when I said I felt like crawling under the table when I told her that the only way we could get the kids to drink their milk was to add a splash of Hershey's Syrup. You'd think that I'd confessed I drove around without putting them in their carseats and the car doors wide open. She told me that not only was chocolate milk bad because it was loaded in sugar ... I was also developing the babies taste for sweet foods, at an alarming rate.


Out with the chocolate milk. Down with the milk consumption.

I chatted briefly with our pediatrician, Dr. J, and layed out my concerns on this whole milk topic. ("Whole" being as it pertains to our overall milk consumption ... and "whole" being the kind of milk they should be consuming at this age). Dr. J, once again ... helped to ease my mind.

He told me that the reason the kids need to be drinking milk, is for the calcium. He said that if they aren't drinking milk ... give them orange juice fortified with calcium. So for the past week, every morning at breakfast the kids get a sippy cup filled with orange juice. They love it. Almost as much as they loved their chocolate milk.

We're still trying to get them to drink milk - - but we're not quite the stress cases we were last month. The babies are getting lots of yogurt (Yo-Baby made with whole milk), tons of cheese, and I've started giving them a fresh fruit smoothie made with a dollop of ice cream and whole milk in the afternoon as a snack. It's all good.

Regarding our sippy cups. We really tried every brand on the market. I've decided that my favorite are the simple Gerber plastic ones. My least favorite are the Nuby's. Maybe it's just me ... but I had a monster time getting the lids screwed on correctly. More than once, I'd hand a baby a cup, they'd turn it up to take a sip, and whatever was in their cup - - was now all over them.

It was because of the Nuby cup that Charlie instituted the "Curse Cup". Everytime one of us curses ... we have to put a quarter in the Curse Cup. Suffice to say ... I've put in almost $10.00 all thanks to the Nuby. Charlie's put in $0.50 because he dropped a bottle of beer ... on his toe.

The message I'm trying to send is that milk is not as critical to their diet as I thought it was. The primary reason I wanted to get the kids off the bottle was because I thought they were drinking too much milk - and not receiving enough nutrition from other food. Since we've discontinued the bottle, our kids eat like CHAMPS. And, I'm only now realizing that they are getting the Vitamin D, calcium and fat that they would be getting from milk (if they were drinking it), from other sources.

We're still working on their appreciation of milk ... just devoid of the chocolate magic.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Yard Sale!

We are making every effort to stay in our 3 bedroom, 2 bath house as long as possible. Because space is an issue, I've become a bit fanatical about getting rid of stuff that we are no longer using. Or, stuff that we are not using as much as we should (or that I think we should).

I have become the anti packrat.

This mentality has been both a blessing and a curse. On the upside, I'm highly organized. On the downside, I've gotten rid of stuff and then kicked myself because it turns out we really DID need that item. Such as a pair of shoes. Or ... a kitchen table.

Because we don't have the room, and I can't stand to let things pile up, I've never been able to hold on to stuff long enough to participate in a yard sale. Usually, once I have a garbage bag full of stuff we're no longer using (or wearing), I'm off to Goodwill. My frequency at these "Goodwill Runs" has me on a first name basis with the guys at the drop-off station.

Baby equipment is a different animal. Most of these items, we've purchased ourselves, and spent a small fortune on. I'm not as good about giving away a $90.00 exersaucer that I bought less than a year ago ... or a $280.00 crib set that looks brand new. Going against my very nature, we've been stockpiling baby equipment in our garage ... with the intention that we would participate in our community-wide yard sale, held the third Saturday ... every May.

My friend Debbie, who lives less than a mile down the road, missed the deadline for registering for the community-wide yard sale, so asked if she could throw a few items of hers - in to our sale. Considering she has 16-month old triplet boys, you can probably imagine the volume of baby paraphernalia we had on our driveway.

Our garage door opened at 6:15 AM, so that we could start moving everything out to the driveway. Witnessing the rush to our house once the garage door was open, has convinced me that there are people in this world, whose #1 goal in life is to be the first one to hit a yard sale on Saturday morning. These people mean business. Within seconds ... the first cars stopped. Charlie's dusty power tools (router, drill press, circular saw) were the first items to go.

What surprised me the most is that there were teams driving around our neighborhood, scouting out all the different sales. They would communicate with one another via walkie-talkies and Nextels. I overheard one of the conversations. It went something like this: "Breaker 1-9, Breaker 1-9 ... we've hit the MOTHERLODE for baby equipment. I'm counting SIX mobiles! Multiple walkers, exersaucers, bouncy chairs, swings, crib sets, and good Lord ... is that a breastpump?!"

We'd sold off half of our stash before the babies even woke up at 8:15 AM. I got everyone dressed, set their highchairs up in the garage, and brought the kids out to enjoy breakfast watching people pick through the equipment that was so critical for our success their first year of life. People would walk up to the house, eye all of the baby gear, look at us perplexed and say "Gosh, you've sure got a lot of baby stuff, don't you?" and usually before either of us had an opportunity to respond, one of the kids would catch their attention and they'd say "HOLY SMOKES! I SEE WHY!!!"

I'm not one to judge ... usually ... but one woman's attitude irked me. This 40'ish something woman, with long braids, birkenstocks, and a tie-dye shirt that read "Hug A Tree" was perusing the table with *baby stuff for under a buck*. She picked up one of our dishwasher baskets, the kind of thing you can wash sippy cup lids, pacifiers, nipples, etc. in ... and asked "What is this?" I told her that it was a dishwasher basket and it worked great to clean nipples. The woman actually looked DOWN HER NOSE at me and said "Well, if you'd breastfed, you wouldn't have a need to wash nipples ... would you? There is nothing better for your baby than breastmilk."

I'm not going to get too sidetracked with my philosophy on breastfeeding ... but I will say that I'm glad I did it, as much as I could. I also am not ashamed, in the least bit, that our babies consumed formula. I figured out three months in to their young lives, that if I was ever going to sleep - they needed to get nutrition from a source other than me ... ALL THE TIME.

I appreciate that there are so many advocates for breastfeeding out there, but if there is one thing I cannot stand ... it is a "Holier Than Thou" attitude. Especially when it comes to breastfeeding a baby. I swear I think some women pull that crap just to make themself feel superior. Or whatever.

When this woman made her snide comment, she had not yet seen the "Board of Directors" lined up eating their breakfast in the garage. But within a few seconds, William flung a waffle at her - and her gaze fell upon our magnificent trio, perched in their highchairs.

She looked back at me and said "Oh my ... are those ... triplets?" Charlie stepped in and said "Yes, they are triplets. And my wife just weaned them from breastfeeding three months ago. We also used bottles sometimes and that's why the dishwasher basket came in so handy."

She gave Charlie this really weak smile and said "Wow, I am impressed." To which Charlie responded "I'd never try to make someone feel bad because they didn't breastfeed their child. I think most mother's have enough insecurities already, without adding to it. Know what I mean?"

Really - that's why I love the man. The only thing else that I wish he would have said was "So, put THAT in your peace pipe and smoke it."

Overall, we had a good day. The kids had a great time seeing all the different people, and enjoyed one last play date with their retired toys set up in our driveway. So as to not confuse anyone, I would say "The baby is just modeling how the Jumperoo works. She doesn't actually come with the item."

Because we were ready to get on with the day and it was starting to get really hot ... we shut down the sale at noon, All told, we raked in $287.50. Not a fortune, but not too bad, either. We wound up giving a lot of stuff away ... including 70 baby bottles and nipples and a huge collection of Nuby sippy cups. I've decided I didn't like that brand, after all. (I'll be giving an update on our Operation Bottle Wean later this week). Any items that we didn't sell - - were promptly carted off to Goodwill.

We'll be filling the space in the garage that was left by all of these items, soon. Infact, we ordered a new kitchen table that will be delivered, this week. Because we want to start sitting together as a family at meal time, we'll be using booster chairs during feeding. Which means, the highchairs will be moved out to the garage.

And thus begins the cycle of stockpiling baby stuff ... again.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

G'bye boobs ... hello healthy gums!

Charlie being the wonderful husband that he is ... took time off on Wednesday so that I could have an entire day, to myself. Like any normal woman ... I wanted to go shopping.

He opted for me to have a weekday, as opposed to a weekend ... because the weekends are sacred for us as a family. Moreover, there are less crowds on the weekday ... so perfect shopping and parking conditions.

Had I not been in such DIRE need of new clothes, I probably would have decided to spend my "free day" getting a massage in the morning and the afternoon at Coronado Beach. However, most days, I live in a pair of Champion sweatpants. The days I'm not wearing my Champion sweatpants - and when I really feel like getting spruced up - I'll wear my Adidas sweat suit. I even have the matching sports bra top to go underneath, for special occasions.

What does that tell you?

The last time I updated my wardrobe was with maternity clothes. Which is why I was mortified during my recent business trip to Palm Springs when I realized I had nothing, other than exercise apparel, to pack. (Keeping in mind that I generally work out of our house. When I do have to go out for work related activities, I am usually sporting a pair of jeans).

Standing in front of my closet with an empty suitcase at my feet… my eyes fell on my maternity clothes. These were the newest, hippest, non-exercise clothes in my wardrobe. Unfortunately, they are also the clothes that I wore when I was PREGNANT WITH TRIPLETS and weighed 100 pounds more than I do, currently.

After discussing my predicament with Charlie, he convinced me that it would be ludicrous to wear maternity clothes to a professional business meeting, especially since I am no longer pregnant. Instead, I opted to pack my suitcase full of the clothing line from Winter, 2002. I was donning brown, red and black suede. In Palm Springs. In April.

I would have been more comfortable in my silky maternity Hawaiian print.

Fast forward to this week. After taking care of some "work" related items Wednesday morning ... I jumped in the shower, pulled on my trusty Adidas sweat suit and headed out the door. I felt positively giddy. A full day of shopping, by myself, lay before me. In the middle of the week, nonetheless.

I wander in to one of my favorite stores ... Talbots ... and am greeted by the bright colors of spring and summer fashion. "Oh, yippee!" I grab every single color of Capri pants they have ... daisy yellow, shamrock green, hot pink, light pink, turquoise, sky blue, purple ... with the adorable matching tanks tops. I traipse back to my dressing room, arms overflowing with all of these fresh, new clothes. I whip off my shirt, and for the first time - under the bright fluorescent lights - get my first jab of reality.

It looks like my bra is too big. Way too big. How can that be? I just bought this bra, when I weaned the triplets, three months ago. It dawns on me that maybe I should've waited a little longer than a week after weaning to go buy all new bras.

I try on the daisy yellow tank top and then I encounter hesitation as I try to pull up the pants. I must've pulled them off the hanger in such haste I forgot to open the zipper all the way. I check the zipper. It's open. All the way. I heave the pants up and am surprised that there is a lot of room in the waist, but not anywhere else. In fact, if I didn't know better, I might think they were a bit too tight. I spin around to look at myself in the mirror.

I don't look like the mannequin.

I am greeted by a huge, over ripe banana getting squished in all the wrong places. I peel off the pants and try on the hot pink set. And then the sky blue. And then the green. And then I tried on every other color that I had picked up when I first entered the store... anticipating that ONE of these damn pants is going to fit me right. And then I think really hard.

Denial sets in.

These pants - - why - - they must all be the wrong size. I fit in to this size before I was pregnant, splendidly. I don't understand. I've lost ALL my pregnancy weight, and then a bit more. Did I dream that?

There's a knock on the door.

"How is everything?"

"Uh. Well. I really don't know. I think there might be an error with your sizes."

(That's it. Blame it on Talbots.)

"Really? What size are you trying on?"

I quickly pull on my Adidas sweat suit and step outside, trying to close the door behind me so that the saleswoman can't see that I have the front half of the store, hanging in my fitting room.

"Here's the thing. This is the first time I've been clothes shopping since I gave birth to triplets." I need sympathy.

The 50'ish year old sales woman first opens her mouth in shock and then says "Triplets?! Oh good Lord. Honey, don't worry. You'll get your body back, one day."

ONE day?

She asked me which of the items that I had tried on "didn't work". I sheepishly opened the door, and handed her the daisy yellow, shamrock green and hot pink pant and top sets.

"OK then. Is this it?"

Who am I kidding? "Uh, no. Here's the rest. Like I said, I think the sizes are wrong."

I hand over the light pink, turquoise, sky blue and purple pants and tops.

While I'm contemplating my dilemma and looking at myself from every possible angle in the 3-sided mirror, the saleswoman comes back with a different "style" pant. She hands it to me and says, "Let's see how this one works. If you like it, THEN we can go pick out different colors."

I close the door and try on this next "style" of pant. My saleswoman is remarkably kind and patient. Not only did she not get miffed at me for wasting her time by having to put away 7 pairs of pants (when I could have figured out after trying on 1 that they didn't fit), but also now she waits outside my room so that I can model the next "style".

"Come out. Let me see how it does."

It was awful. The pants were HUGE in the waist ... too small in the caboose. But I put myself in front of this woman so that she, as a professional, would concur that Talbots has screwed up the entire line of size 10 pants. Just barely noticeable to the naked eye, I detect a cringe. I know what's coming. I can sense that what she is about to tell me, is going to hurt her almost as much as it will hurt me.

"Honey, I think we need to go up a size."

I really like how she said "we". It's as if *we* are in this together.

I’m indignant. "I don't understand though. I've lost ALL my pregnancy weight. How come up I need to go up a size?? I've always had plenty of room in a size 10. In fact, I could fit in a size 8!"

"Yes, but Honey, after a woman gives birth ... her body changes."

Yes. Obviously, I knew that. But I guess I didn't really understand what it meant, until right there ... under the bright fluorescent lights at Talbots. I found that it was especially hard to hear this news from a woman, even if she was 20-years older than me, that looked like she was no more than a size 4.

I begrudgingly go up a size. The pants fit. But, not in the waist. The saleswoman runs and gets me a belt. As luck would have it, my waist size is a 6. My caboose is a size 12. These measurements would be fine, in a Marilyn Monroe kind of way, had I been able to keep my size 40D's.

So much for my sultry pear shape. Ever since I've weaned the triplets, my big boobs have fled south and are apparently residing in my rear. I have assumed the proportions of a triangle.

I make my purchases at Talbots and head over to the shoe store. My feet are the only part of my body that has not drastically changed shape since the babies were born. As I was trying on shoes, my mind jumped back to this woman I had recently seen on TV. While she was pregnant with her son, one of her feet grew, while the other foot stayed the same. Following the birth of her son, the foot never shrank back to it's original size. So here was this poor woman that had to buy 2 pairs of the same exact shoe. One in a size 7, the other in a size 10. No kidding.

I was still dwelling on post-partum body dimensions during my semi-annual dentist visit on Thursday. I was given the good news that my gums, which bled like banshees during my last four cleanings, have healed up and look fabulous. Apparently, the hormonal surges during pregnancy and breastfeeding do a real number on your gums. I thought that was just a myth. Turns out, it's true. Just like that "myth" that a woman loses her body following the birth of her children. Who knew?

Charlie called tonight on his way home from the gym to tell me that he stopped by the store to pick up some diapers. I don't know why that comment struck me - but it did. Diapers. My husband had to pick up diapers. Because, we've got babies in the house that need them.

I feel pretty confident that like my gums, my figure will come back ... one day. In the meantime, I realize that had it not been for this disproportionate body of mine, Charlie wouldn’t have had a need to stop by the store on his way home from the gym. For diapers.

Our first visit to the pediatric dentist

A few months ago, I saw a public service announcement that babies need to visit the dentist by their 1-year birthday ... or once they have teeth.

Shortly after seeing this public service announcement, I was talking with a neighbor and was shocked to hear that they'd just forked out $2,000 on a bridge for their 3-year old daughter. The trauma of the procedure was terrible for the little girl. The trauma for their daughter and wallop to their checkbook was terrible for the parents. I spoke with our pediatrician at the babies’ 16-month checkup and when he echoed the recommendation to see a pediatric dentist as soon as your child has teeth, I was convinced.

For the most part, we're pretty good about dental hygiene. This came about quite by accident. Our kids are notoriously difficult on the changing table. In an effort to stem babies from flipping over and crawling off the table in the middle of a particularly messy diaper... I started handing them a toothbrush with a splat of toddler toothpaste. I was intrigued that this would keep them occupied for the entire diaper change, and that I'd usually have to pry it out of their hands because they were so content chewing on it.

The romance with the *manual* toothbrush lasted only a few weeks. It got to the point where I'd hand them the toothbrush, they'd suck off the toothpaste and then fling the toothbrush over their head. "Thanks for the treat. I'm going to roll over HERE now ... C-YA..."

Yet, whenever the kids were within earshot and I was brushing my teeth ... with an electric toothbrush ... they'd come running from wherever they were in the house, and stand looking at me with mouths wide open. A little light bulb went off. "I wonder ... if they make electric toothbrushes for kids?"

Of course they do!

Sesame Street wouldn't pass up an opportunity to market their logo, would they? Come to think of it ... it's only appropriate that the cast of Sesame Street is all over our babies toothbrushes. They are all over our Pampers, too. Now at diaper changes ... we are surrounded by the cast and crew that resides at 123 Sesame Street. Big Bird, Grover, Elmo, Cookie Monster, Bert, Ernie, and that yellow critter with the necklace and ponytails. Who is that? She definitely wasn't around in 1975. But I digress.

The babies love their GUM electric toothbrushes. We've been using them for the past several months and thus far, I don't see the romance ending anytime soon. We hand the babies their toothbrushes at diaper changes ... and also, make an effort for them to brush their teeth every night before bed. What I really like about these toothbrushes, is that they do a better job cleaning the teeth than a regular old toothbrush. Even if they are just chewing on it, the bristles are rotating and scrubbing their teeth and gums.

And nose. And ears. And hair. And wall.

Considering the babies scream like blue-bloody murder whenever I take the toothbrush away and try and clean them ... I felt confident that these electric toothbrushes were doing a good enough job, on their own.

I will admit I was a bit confused what was going to be accomplished by taking our kids - with no more 24 teeth across the three of them - to this appointment. But when I called to schedule the visit, they told me that the pediatric dentist will review our brushing habits, family history, do an examination to verify that the teeth are "erupting properly" and perform a quick cleaning. I just laughed. "You're going to try and clean my babies teeth! Are you kidding??"

Going in to this, they told me that our dentist really has a "way" with children. So, I expected that they'd have the baby recline in a tiny dentist chair and let them watch Teletubbies through a headset while they did the exam, kind of like the treatment I receive when I go to the dentist.

Not surprisingly, I was mistaken.

When we went to the appointment yesterday, I held a baby on my lap and sat knee-to-knee with the dentist. Then I leaned the baby back on to her lap, and held their arms down. I was wondering how she was going to get their mouth open, but I didn't wonder long. During the course of screaming, she had full access to count all of their teeth, check on those teeth that are *erupting*, evaluate whether there were any cavities, do an assessment of plaque build-up (or lack of on 2 of the kids ... I was surprised at the amount of plaque on William's teeth), scale, floss and do a fluoride treatment.

Despite the kids less-than-positive reaction to the dentist, I'm very glad that we went and highly recommend it.

Here are a few important things that we learned.

1) Saliva production decreases significantly at night. Because saliva is the mechanism that flushes out our mouth and "cleanses" our teeth during the day ... it's very important to brush your teeth at night before bedtime.

2) The enamel on a baby's teeth is very, very thin. Not nearly as "thick" as the enamel on an adult's teeth. Which is why it is so important to avoid processed sugars. If you give juice, dilute it. Don't feed candy, fruit roll-up type snacks (which stick to their teeth and can speed decay), or sugary gum. Apparently, snails, earthworms and crayons are not hard on teeth enamel. Whew. What a relief.

3) After you eat processed sugar ... it remains in your mouth for 15 minutes after the food/beverage is consumed. As an example ... let's say you sip on a soft drink over the course of an hour. Each time you take a sip ... you reset the clock. Take a sip ... 15 minutes of decay. Take another sip, another 15 minutes of decay.

4) It's OK for the kids to hold their toothbrushes during diaper changes - - but we (Charlie or I) need to get a hold off that toothbrush and do a thorough brushing once a day. Preferably at night, immediately before bed.

5) Fluoride treatment doesn't start until kids are 3 years old. Until then, they get sufficient fluoride in regular tap water.

6) The NUMBER ONE injury to teeth and mouths in infants/toddlers/young children ... come from falling on a coffee table. The dentist told us that she receives at least two calls a month for an emergency consultation with a child that smacked their mouth on a coffee table. With that tid-bit of information, we got rid of our coffee table. It was causing too many problems, anyway. "William, no climbing on the table. Elizabeth, no climbing on the table. Carolyn, no climbing on the table."

Two minutes later ... "William, no climbing on the table. Elizabeth, no climbing on the table. Carolyn, no climbing on the table."

Two minutes later ... "William, no climbing on the table. Elizabeth, no climbing on the table. Carolyn, no climbing on the table."

Two minutes later... "William, no climbing on the table. Elizabeth, no climbing on the table. Carolyn, no climbing on the table."

Get the picture? I could go on ...

7) The vitamin with iron supplement we'd been giving our babies since they've come home from the hospital, has stained their pearly whites. We've noticed, but haven't been overly concerned, with a brownish hue that was slowly developing on their teeth. Although this staining doesn't compromise the integrity of their teeth, we spoke with our pediatrician who suggested we start using a standard non-iron containing vitamin.

8) The information I posted about in Operation Bottle Wean sums up the reasons why bottle usage should be discontinued by 18-months, and this was confirmed by the pediatric dentist. When she queried me on our bottle usage, I was extremely proud to say that we've had the babies completely off their bottles since they were 18-months old, to the DAY. I wanted to hide under the table though, when I informed her that the only way we could get them to drink milk now was with a dash of Hershey's syrup.

9) Baby teeth ARE important. If a child loses their baby teeth prematurely, it can mess up the jaw. Baby teeth allow the natural growth and development of the mouth.

We will be going back to visit the pediatric dentist in six months for another assessment and cleaning. I haven't yet added the babies on our insurance plan for dental coverage. As such, we paid $25.00/per baby for the exam. Not too bad considering the edumikation we acquired ... and squeaky clean teeth for all three kids.

From the dentist office – Charlie headed back to work and I brought the troops home where they promptly went down for a 3-hour nap. THREE HOUR NAP. It could be that they are fighting off a bug – or it could be that we need to go to the dentist everyday. I’m not sure which…?

When they woke up from their nap, I took them for a 3.5-mile walk around our neighborhood. Charlie came home from the office while we were out, and hopped on his bike to come meet us. As we were walking (he was riding), one of our neighbors pulled up along side us, rolled down her window and yelled “You have GOT to be kidding me. You mean to tell me that SHE is pushing a carriage with two babies – with one more on her BACK … and YOU are RIDING a bike?! OH MISTER.”

That comment ... coupled with the entire Mother’s Day I spent on the couch with a sick baby, is what earned me a FULL day of shopping, today.

By. My. Self.

The highs and lows of that experience will be the subject of my next posting.

Monday, May 15, 2006

It's been a long day ...

It's been about three weeks ... but I finally ordered extra Bunnie Squeakles tonight. I know what I said about needing to get them ASAP ... but like so many things in life, I've just been side-tracked. Three weeks is pretty good for me. I still haven't put our wedding album together, and we'll be married 12 years in August.

Today was a tough day. The ratio wasn't optimal, by any stretch of the imagination.

Three sick babies.

One somewhat healthy adult - functioning off 4 non-consecutive hours of sleep.

There was so much crying. I don't remember there ever being so much crying. Of course the first thing that came to mind is EAR INFECTION. It's got to be an ear infection. But ... they are eating. And they are drinking. These are two things they "typically" don't do when they have an ear infection. And they aren't screaming like they do with an ear infection. They are just whining.


I know they're not feeling good and it would really help if they could tell me what is bothering them. So often - I'll dash off to the pediatrician ... and I'm learning to wait. Let's see if this is something viral that clears up on it's own ... while I treat the *symptoms*. It's so hard, though. How people functioned before baby Tylenol and antibiotics is completely beyond me. I just can't imagine. Actually - I can. It's awful to think about. Baby Tylenol is a staple in this house. We may as well live without water. Or Hersey's Syrup. I'll post about that necessity in a few days.

Today, I ran some errands. I loaded everybody up because I was certain that I was going to start crying too, if I didn't get out of the house - immediately. We first went to the post office to ship a box of clothes to my brother for his 10-month old twin boys ... and then we went to the grocery store. I've taken the kids to the post office before, but they generally don't like it. I can't say that I blame them considering I usually stack the boxes and stuff that I have to mail on top of them, because there is never room in the carriage basket. (Honestly, I think that basket underneath my triple stroller is purely cosmetic. I can't even fit a diaper bag in there. Who designs these things, anyway? Note to self. Another potential career consideration. Stroller design engineer.) The first couple minutes are OK. They're intrigued with this box on them. And then - they shove it off. So, I rotate it and put it on the next baby, who is intrigued for a couple minutes and then they shove it off. On to the lap of the next baby it goes. And so on and so on, until it's our turn in line. We're always a source of great entertainment for the people standing around us.

Unlike Costco, our local grocery store doesn't have a shopping cart that easily holds three two babies. As such, I was forced to either drag a shopping cart behind me ... or opt for a small hand basket. I thought that I'd only be picking up a few items ... so went with the hand basket. As I made my way to the checkout with my 2 containers of Pedialyte, 1/2 a watermelon, 2 boxes of popsicles, basmati rice, 2 boxes of lasagna noodles, a loaf of french bread, a gallon of 2% milk and a box of Benadryl ... my arm was ready to snap in two. I don't know why they can't make those darn baskets more ergonomic. Really. It's a plastic square with handles that are composed of nothing more than coat hangers. Surely I'm not the only one that goes to the store ... uses one of those things and winds up buying stuff 10X heavier than I thought it would weigh. Am I?? And, it's not like I'm buying a toothbrush and some Pop Tarts. Those are the kind of items I put forethought in to ... the kind of items that are on my weekly shopping list - when I'm using a cart. I'm dashing in for some milk and pedialyte. And a watermelon. How heavy can that stuff be?

As soon as we stepped foot in the door, the whining started again. Which means, today, we had TWO naps ... instead of just one. (Sorry kids. Mom really needs a break.) When they woke up from their late afternoon nap, they absolutely feasted on watermelon. My arm finally stopped throbbing when I saw that my effort lugging around 10 pounds of fruit was not in vain. The watermelon at dinner time was a highlight of their day. Another highlight was the bath that they got tonight, in the sink. We typically do baths every-other-night but today was just one of those kind of days, where I could only hope that a nice soak would restore some order and ... if only for a moment ... stop the barrage of "wahh. wahhhh. wahhhh. wahhhhh."

Which brings me back to Bunnie Squeakles. Elizabeth's bunny has had a pretty tough go of it the past few days. What with her being sick and all - she wouldn't let him go. Not even for a moment. He accompanies her everywhere ... including her highchair, where he is dragged through every course on the menu. Bunny even made it in to the bath tonight (quite by accident). This bunny was so gross that he was able to stand up, unassisted. I made the decision he was getting washed and Elizabeth would have to make-do with "Lamby". She had other plans.

After crying ... non-stop for 30 minutes (hugely unusual at our house when bedtime rolls around), Charlie scooped bunny out of the soak cycle, completed his *wash* in the bathroom sink ... and then threw him in the drier for 10 minutes. He was still damp when we gave him back to Elizabeth ... but finally, silence.

That is one powerful bunny.

I immediately went online and ordered 3 more, such that in the off chance bunny needs to be washed in hot, hot water and fully decontaminated, we have a replacement available, STAT. Heck ... if my wedding pictures screamed at me the way Elizabeth did ... I would have had that album finished YEARS ago.

Again, I'm again sending out a HUGE thanks to Christine, Jen, Casey and Lorie. If it wasn't for you fine people, I'd still be searching the internet for an illusive bunny that squeaks. I doubt I would have even realized that this creature had a name. You ladies are the wind beneath our bunny's wings ears. I'm forever in your debt.

Tomorrow, bright and early we have the babies very first dentist appointment. I'm interested to see how that goes. If they don't appear at least 75% better tomorrow, than they were today - I'm going to take all of them to see their pediatrician, Dr. Johnson (who we lovingly call Dr. J). If nothing else, I want him to check their ears. Just to make sure. As I'm typing this ... I'm pretty certain a visit to Dr. J is in order. I can hear Carolyn - - our best sleeper ever - - coughing in the nursery. UGH.

As for right now ... I'm trying to unwind from a LONG day. The longest day I've had in a quite some time. It takes me back to the early days of spit-up. When Charlie would come home from work, and I'd be laying on the floor completely comatose. (I'm looking at this picture of me and wondering why in the world I'm smiling?! Look at me!! I look like a piece of burnt toast, with spit-up on my shoulder!) The upside to the present ... is that I'm no longer nursing. Which means, I can suck down a bottle of booze enjoy a glass of wine and reflect on the day's events.

PS: Jen (fourjmh), If you're reading this ... I happened to see your BFP post on the RESOLVE board. Bravo & a huge congrats!!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother's Day Weekend. 2006.

I'm sitting here on Sunday night ... barely able to remember what I was doing two nights ago, at this same time. Wait. It just came to me. I was updating my blog while sipping on a nice cab. Kind of like what I'm doing again, tonight.

Saturday, we spent organizing. We've got a community yard sale coming up next weekend - and we have a load of stuff taking up space in our garage that we're anxious to move. By the time we'd finished - it looked like a daycare center went belly-up. Three baby mobiles, three crib sets, an exersaucer, a walker, a jumperoo, three infant tubs, three bath rings. The list goes on and on. Fortunately, I'd also donated a lot of stuff to the NICU where our children were born ... or people might think we'd robbed Babies R' Us.

By Saturday afternoon - the natives were getting restless, so we loaded them in the van and headed out. Destination ... someplace. We didn't really know where we were going, but we figured a drive on a beautiful day would be nice. We ended up at Chevy's Mexican restaurant. I’m keeping a running log of all the topics I want to post about on this blog. One of these topics is the art of dining out with toddler triplets. It's insane to me that a restaurant like Chevy's would only have five highchairs. Two were being used ... we took the other three.

Note to self: keep booster chairs in the car at all times for situations like this.

William went nuts over the rice and beans from our fajitas. He also snacked on a blue crayon. Quite a delicacy, those crayolas. Carolyn enjoyed the chicken and tortillas. Elizabeth didn't touch a thing. This child can usually pack away more than her brother and sister combined. When she's not eating ... it's a pretty good indication something's up.

(self adhesive placemats are a must-have for dining out. Except for when the kids pull the placemats up and stick them to their head ... like William is in the process of doing, in the photo above.)

We get home and get the babies ready for bed. We put them to bed. We sit and relax. We head to bed at around 11:00 PM. I am awake up at 12:43 AM. And, I remain awake, minus a few quick snoozes here and there ... until the sun comes up at 6:30 AM. With Elizabeth. With a temperature of 102. I don't know how, when or where she picked up this latest bug. Maybe it is a delayed response to the bug that I had two weeks ago.

Today, Elizabeth spent the majority of the day, camped out on my chest. Not in her crib, not playing with toys. Laying on my chest. This was perfectly fine by me. I had nothing better to do then hold my baby, all day. Charlie had wanted me to go spend a day alone - shopping, getting a massage, reading a book. But, my time was better spent at home. On the couch. With Elizabeth.

William and Carolyn appeared to be feeling OK. Chasing each other all around the house, babbling up a storm and being plain adorable. Carolyn is turning in to quite the little mother, with her doll “baby” and William loved playing with his new truck with the telescoping ladder from Noni. Charlie went for a run this afternoon, and took the two of them in our double jogger, while I stayed home with Elizabeth. By the time Charlie came home from the run, William and Carolyn both had a temperature of 101.

So. Here we go. Again. If someone could tell me how to get off this "sick-train-from-hell" I'd be most appreciative.

Tonight, I gave everyone a tepid bath in the sink. Cool compresses. Lots of fluids. I just pray that this is some *quick* virus that isn't accompanied by runny noses, a cough and the dreaded ear infection. I pray that everyone feels better by morning. I also pray that Charlie and I don't get struck down by this latest round of crud. By the time they went to bed, I could tell they were feeling a little better. (Some good news is that Elizabeth and Carolyn appear to have struck a compromise on playing with baby strollers).

As I was giving the babies a bath, I started thinking about my mom. My mother always had a knack for making me feel better. Whether I was sick, or not. Whether I was 3 or 33. Her presence. Her loving eyes that could assess what was wrong with me and how to correct it, before I even knew there was a problem in the first place. Sometimes, it was her cool hand on my forehead, or a gentle rub on my back. Or maybe, just her words.

After our babies were born, William came down with necrotizing entercolitis (NEC). A nasty infection that affects the intestines and is common in premature infants. The neonatologists at the hospital were preparing us for the worst. Surgery was highly likely. It could be fatal. Our 4-pound baby, less than two weeks old was very sick, and we were scared to death. Never before have I had that kind of fear surge through my heart. Never before have I felt so completely helpless.

There was nothing that we could do, except wait.

Because I delivered the babies so early, my mother wasn't in town yet. She was 3,000-miles away, on the opposite side of the country. The day she finally arrived, we met at the hospital. As soon as I saw her, I completely broke down. Emotionally and physically. It was as if I was carrying around this heavy burden and once she arrived - she took it from me. Nobody else could do this. That's the kind of super hero power that only my mother has.

Being that it's Mother's Day, I'm in a reflective mood.

On this Mother's Day, I am so grateful for my mom. She is and always has been, a bright light in my life. She makes my world a better place. More than that, she makes the world a better place for every person that she touches. My mom has one of those nurturing, kind spirits. My mom is a gentle soul who has taught me to always be kind. Perhaps it's because she's a nurse. Or, maybe it's because she's the mother of seven children. I think it's because she's just an amazing person and I am so thankful that I was blessed to be her daughter. I love you, Mom.

On this Mother's Day, I am completely in love with the three healthy, beautiful babies that arrived in to our lives, 19-months ago, today. And, I am so thankful for the maternal instinct that I have inherited from my own mom. Tonight, with three ailing toddlers, I knew exactly what to do. I hope and pray that I am always as good of a mother and teacher to them – as my mother has been to me.

On this Mother's Day, my heart aches for all those mom's, the world over, whose children are sick. Those mother's that feel no sense of control and whose hearts run cold with the fear of helplessness. As of late, my mind is consumed with positive, healing thoughts for my friends - Sara, Lori and Zanne. All three have baby boys that are giving their mom's a terrible scare.

On this Mother's Day, my heart breaks for all those mother's that have lost a child and who never believe that they will be whole, again. A friend, who lost her baby girl to NEC, has a saying that there is no foot too small that it doesn’t leave an imprint on the world. Another friend has a saying that everything has God's fingerprints on it. Those are beautiful sentiments and the only way that I can grasp the apparent senselessness of losing a child.

On this Mother's Day, my heart is full for all those mother's who are waiting for the arrival of their child. And waiting. And waiting. I know, firsthand, the longing that these women feel. The sense of absolute desperation, frustration, sadness and anger. I hope that one day soon - all of these mom's will be united with their babies.

According to my online thesaurus ... the synonym for mother is protector, nurse, and advocate. On this Mother's Day, even with three sick babies that I anticipate will be awake at some point during the night (hopefully, not at the same time), I am so thankful to finally be one.

There is no greater reward than in giving ... and there is no greater gift than being a Mom.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Blog Tag ... Who ME?!

I'm still relatively new to this blogging thing, so whenever I saw that I'd been *tagged* to play a blog game by the ever-so-talented Nettie ... well ... I'm honored. It's like that feeling that washes over you on a playground when you've been picked by one of the cool kids to be on a team. Although, in this case ... I didn't even know it was recess!

The FOUR Tag

Four jobs I've had:
1. Swimming Instructor at the Cleveland Street YMCA
2. Waitress
3. Graduate Teaching Assistant
4. Geologist (environmental industry – project manager)

Four movies I watch over and over (and over and over and over and over):
1. Baby Neptune
2. Baby Bach
3. Baby Beethoven
4. Baby Mozart

Four places I have lived:
1. Massachusetts
2. South Carolina
3. Wyoming (For 6 weeks. Does that count?)
4. California -> Northern and Southern

Four TV shows I love to watch:
1. American Idol
2. My Name is Earl
3. The Office (Difficult to watch sometimes, very awkward, very hilarious!)
4. Comedy Central

Four places I have been on vacation:
1. Hawaii
2. Bahamas
3. San Felipe, Mexico
4. Whistler-Blackcomb, BC, Canada

Four places I'd Love to Go to On Vacation:
1. Switzerland
2. Ireland
3. Australia
4. Alaska

Four websites I visit often:
1. (we have almost 200 points in <4 months!)
2. (not a member? JOIN!)
4. A hand full of blogs and parenting bulletin boards

Four favorite foods:
1. Fruit and vegetables. Pretty much anything, so long as they're fresh.
2. Kimball's Farm hot fudge sundae
3. Thanksgiving Dinner (except the neck or gizzards)
4. Shrimp and fried rice from a Japanese steak house

Four places I would like to be right now:
1. Right where I am. At home while Charlie strums his guitar next to me.
2. Zion National Park
3. The little cabins along the south rim of the Grand Canyon
4. The Cook Islands

Keeping with the spirit of "blog tag" ... Red Rover, Red Rover ... I'm tagging over ...

Four friends, tag ---> you're it:
Sara (who needs LOTS of prayers right now)

Friday, May 12, 2006

Stroller Psychosis

Every so often, my mother (Noni) volunteers some of her free time at the church thrift store. Once in a while, she will come across great finds. A bonus of her volunteer work is that she has the advantage of seeing items available for sale, before they hit the showroom floor ... so to speak. It's a church thrift store, afterall.

A couple weeks ago, someone donated a baby doll carriage. A real fancy one ... the kind that the baby lays down in, with a little canopy over the top and a basket underneath. I think Noni said that she bought this baby doll carriage for a whopping $3.00. Maybe it was $5.00. Anyway. She takes the doll carriage to the post office to mail it - and it was going to cost $85.00 ... 17 times more than it was worth. Our Noni lugged this doll carriage to several different "We-Ship-For-You" companies until she finally came to UPS ... where they said that they would mail it for $14.00. Only 3 times more than it was worth. Yay for UPS!

I received the package this week. I eagerly opened the box, pulled out the carriage - assembled the handle, screwed on the canopy and put the little doll that it came with inside. Charlie was out on a walk with the kids - so when he arrived home, I waited for the kids to recognize this new plaything. Elizabeth came in to the room first. She hesitated, and then walked over, peered inside and looked at me with a huge grin as if to say "Can it BE?!" Less than two minutes later, Carolyn came in to the room.

OK. Stop.

Maybe it's the insane amount of food our kids put away - or genetics - or a little of both ... but within the past month, Carolyn has actually grown TALLER than William. He might still weigh a couple pounds more than his younger sister, but what she lacks in weight, she makes up for in passion. We use to joke that William was going to grow up and work for the IRS, because he would take away anything that someone else had and that he wanted. "Oh oh girls ... better run ... here comes the TAX MAN!"

These days, it's a different story. There is no doubt about it ... Carolyn is the alpha leader in our pack of babies.

Back to my story.

Elizabeth looks over at Carolyn and screams. She knows what's coming. Her moment of undisturbed joy with the baby doll carriage is ending - in a matter of seconds. She tries to run away with the carriage, but Carolyn intercepts her exit and ... just as I expected ... straight arms Elizabeth to the floor. I wasted no time running over to tell Carolyn "Be gentle with your sister!" while I scooped up a sobbing Elizabeth.

What Elizabeth doesn't remember is that Santa Claus (or maybe she does remember, but chose to forget after being traumatized by the Patron Saint of Children) visited us this past Christmas. And, well, unfortunately, two of his reindeer fell ill and the only way that he was going to make it back to the North Pole, was if he unloaded the remaining contents of his sleigh at our house. It just so happens that one of the items Santa left behind was a baby doll carriage. Elizabeth didn't remember this baby doll carriage because 15 minutes in to Christmas morning, Mommy realized it was not age appropriate for 14-month old toddlers and stuck it in the back of her closet. Where it remained, until now.

I pulled the Santa doll carriage out of my closet and Elizabeth's happy demeanor was instantly restored. She placed bunny in and stood back looking at the stroller and her lovey, with pure joy. I let her enjoy a few quiet minutes playing with this doll carriage before I brought her back in to the lion's den playroom. Once she was reunited with her siblings, all eyes were on the NEW doll carriage. William and Carolyn started to circle Elizabeth, who stood in the middle of the room clutching the carriage, eyes diverting left and right, fully aware of the impending danger.

Then something happened that I never expected.

Our little Elizabeth, who weighs 6 pounds less than William, 4 pounds less than Carolyn ... defended not just one, but both of the heavy-weights off.

She opened up the biggest can of whoop-ass I've ever seen.

With arms flailing, feet stomping - she pushed Carolyn to the ground with one hand (other hand was planted firmly on the carriage), and then turned on William and said "You want some of the THIS?!" I was shocked. I've never so much as heard her utter "Mama" and yet I could have sworn she straight away challenged her brother to a fight, right there in our playroom.

William's no fool. He tucked tail and ran over to play with Noni's baby doll carriage, while Carolyn processed what had just transpired.

Sadly, for William ... he didn't get to play with Noni's baby doll carriage for long.

The pecking order has been established. Carolyn remains the alpha leader for all matters, except baby doll carriages. Her baby doll carriage is the one that Noni mailed out this week. Elizabeth remains passive and sweet, unless someone comes near her baby doll carriage, the one that Santa had to unload at our house this past Christmas. William, meanwhile, has resigned himself to playing with toy trucks fastened to a belt.

Get use to it little guy ... you're outnumbered.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Sanctity of Sleep & Scheduling

This blog posting (ahem, novel) was inspired by my friend Sara and her beautiful son, Imri ... born on October 14, 2005 ... a year to the day, after our trio made their debut. Kinneret, this is for you ... and for all other Mother's (including JJNY) who are having a hard time getting their little bundle of joy(s) to GO TO SLEEP!


After the excitement of learning we were expecting triplets, Charlie and I were both filled with a sense of dread. We had a few fears, of course. Among them were:

  • Will I be able to carry three babies?
  • Will their health be OK?
  • Will my health be OK?
  • How will I nurse three babies? Especially since I only have the *equipment* to nurse two!
  • What is this going to do to my body?
  • How many diapers will we go through, in a day?
  • How much baby equipment will we need?
But the number one fear on our list, and that which threw us in to a tailspin was ....

How will this affect our sleep?

See, the thing is ... we love to sleep. Both of us. Some people can exist off of 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night. We aren't those kind of people. Not by a loooong shot. As we're rapidly approaching 12-years of marital bliss, I'm starting to get asked more and more ... what is the secret to our happy marriage? My response is simple: We communicate well and we fully understand the importance of a good night sleep. The world is a happy and bright place to be, when you're well rested.

Not only do we love to sleep ... we are both extremely good at it. Infact, my uncanny ability to sleep has often had me concerned that I might be suffering from an undiagnosed case of narcolepsy. As a kid growing up, I spent a lot of time with my father on his boat, which should have been named the SS Minnow. I have memories of summoning the Coast Guard during these outings, and have heard of a few rescues that I was not privy to experiencing first-hand. It was a long running joke that as soon as the boat left the dock, Jenny would konk out. When Charlie splurged on an ocean kayak adventure, complete with our own tour guides, everyone was amazed that I fell asleep, in a two-person boat, as we were being tossed around in 8-foot seas with a whale breeching 40 feet off our bow. Maybe it's a defense mechanism for me ... when I get the slightest bit scared or overwhelmed, I fall to sleep. It's as if the very air I breathe is laden with tryptophan.

Not only do I fall to sleep easily ... I stay asleep. Anyone that has spent any time at our house knows that Charlie is a very loud snorer. When we were in college studying Geology, we would frequently have field trips in remote locations. The class would wait to see where Charlie set up his tent, before hiking 200-yards in the opposite direction to set up their camp. No kidding. Yet, his snoring doesn't affect me in the least. The funny thing is - he often wakes himself up - but not me. I can sleep through pretty much anything .... a kayak being tossed on the open ocean ... a plane bouncing around the sky at 38,000 feet while air masks dangle from oxygen lines ... my dear husband sawing logs 12-inches from my head.

Early in my pregnancy, as we were settling in to bed one night, Charlie looked at me and asked "Do you hear that?" I was alarmed. "Hear what?! Is someone trying to break in to the house?! I don't hear anything!!" He smiled and said "Exactly. It's quiet. Beautifully, heavenly quiet. A few months from now, we aren't going to be able to close our eyes, go to sleep, and slumber undisturbed until 7:00 the following morning. We need to bank our sleep, right now."

Charlie got to bank his sleep, all right. He slept like Rip Van Winkle during my entire pregnancy. I, on the other hand, did not. The latter half of my pregnancy was spent on the couch in an upright position, with a supersized bottle of Tums in one hand - a remote control in the other. It's no big surprise that I didn't sleep too well during the period of incubation, but I'll save that story for another day.

I've read that the discomforts a woman feels during pregnancy and her inability to sleep soundly, is just one more way of nature *preparing* the mother to be up during the night once her baby is born. I actually believed this. While Charlie was banking his sleep, I was banking on the notion that my defense mechanism for managing stress didn't kick in. I feverishly prayed that instead of slipping in to a deep slumber - I'd be be able to stay awake at night when our house was full of needy newborns.

When all three of our babies were finally home from the hospital ... I was a nut job. I was so afraid that something was going to happen to them - that they'd stop breathing in the middle of the night, or get wedged in a corner of the crib. No, they weren't yet mobile - but that didn't stop me from placing a baby monitor in the crib, and waking up every 10-minutes to run in and check on them. At one point, I was such a stress case, that I loaded the babies in to clothes baskets and brought them in the room with us. That didn't help matters any, because we might as well had a litter of puppies next to our bed. Even though they were asleep, the squeaking they made had me on pins and needles ... all night. There was only so much of being AWAKE that I could handle, before I started to cRaCk.

By the third night, out of pure exhaustion, I turned the baby monitor off and figured that if they needed us ... either me, Charlie or my mom (who was in town lending a helping hand), would hear them. Before our babies were sleeping through the night, there would be a few times that one of the babies would be fussy, and we would be so dead tired, that we'd pull them in to bed and try to console them. Inevitably, we would all fall to sleep. Now, I've heard some women say that they always knew, on some subconscious level, that their child was co-sleeping and they'd never roll on top of them. Unfortunately, I lack that maternal instinct - in all of it's entirety. Especially during those early days when I was so completely sleep deprived. A baby in our bed may as well have been a throw pillow.

On more than one occasion, when our babies were tiny newborns, Charlie or I would wake up in an absolute panic because we had dreamt that a baby, who had been sleeping with us, was inadvertently kicked to the foot of the bed and was buried beneath the sheets and comforter. Nothing makes your heart skip a beat like waking up to your spouse jump out of a sound sleep, pull the covers off the bed and in a frenzy yell "Oh my GOD, where's the baby?!?! ... Where's the baby?!?! ... OH MY GOD!!!" Never once did we find the baby at the foot of the bed. After frantically searching the bed, one of us would run in to the nursery and realize that all three babies were actually asleep in their crib. But these dreams were so unbelievably real. We vowed that we would never fall to sleep with a baby in our bed because we were scared to death of what could happen.

Sometimes, I would nurse them in bed, but we never slept together ... I would always bring them back to their crib. Yes, it would be nice to stay and "cuddle" but even during those times when I tried to *lightly doze* I couldn't get comfortable, for fear I'd roll on top of them. As the babies got older - there was this baby in bed that would roll on top of me. Suffice to say, co-sleeping wasn't an option for us.

Our babies came home from the hospital on a 3 to 4-hour feeding schedule. The routine was pretty simple. They'd sleep, they'd eat, they'd poop. Then the routine started all over again. We would keep the babies up in the family room or bright living space, during the day time (in bouncy chairs, swings, under their Gymini, or holding them) - but we always put them in their cribs for sleeping.

This simple routine has evolved over time, but is essentially the same today, as it was 16.5-months ago. When the babies were 14 weeks old (corrected age 5 weeks), they slept through the night for the first time. (I know this because I just went back and looked at an e-mail I sent out to everyone I know ... shouting from the rooftops "THEY SLEPT ALL NIGHT!!!") When I say they "slept through the night" I mean we fed them at 8:00, "dream fed" them at 11:00 (they didn't wake up), and we woke them up the following morning at 7:30 AM.

During this time, on of the things that I figured out, is that our babies slept better on their tummies. Yes, I know that "Now-A-Days" everyone knows that babies must sleep on their backs because of the increased SIDS risk with tummy sleeping ... but our kids slept so much better on their stomachs. I think that belly sleeping helps to get gas up and they are more comfortable, all around. The Cardinal Rule of caring for a newborn in the 21st century ... I never abided by. I put our babies on their tummies from the time they were 4 weeks old and that was that.

When I was pregnant, I was devouring anything that didn't more. I had a huge appetite for food AND for learning what to expect as a new mother. I read both "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" and "BabyWise". I thought that they had some good information ... but I particularly liked what Dr. Weissbluth had to say about the amount of time babies a certain age, should be awake. It was like a lightbulb went off. Babies really can't be awake for longer than a few hours (even less when they are younger), before they need to sleep. People that would come to visit us were surprised that after our babies being awake for 2.5 hours, I'd put them down for a nap. "But didn't they just wake up?" Yes ... it seems they did. But during that time, they've eaten, they've pooped, they've had stories read to them, they've been held and talked to ... and those activities take a lot of energy when you're 4, 5, 6 ... etc. months old. By getting good sleep - babies will be more able to, eat well, poop well, play well ... and surprisingly, SLEEP well, too. The old adage couldn't be truer. Sleep begets sleep.

It wasn't easy getting our kids on a sleep schedule. But, our sanity - and more importantly, our survival depended on it. Like I said, they were on a 3- to 4-hour feeding schedule, round-the-clock. As an example, we'd feed them at 7 PM, and then we'd feed them again at 11 PM, 3 AM and 7 AM (+/- an hour here and there). As they got a little bigger, I tried to eliminate that 3 AM feeding ... so I'd feed them at 11 PM, put them to bed ... and not wake up until THEY woke up hungry. And when one up hungry - we'd wake everyone up and feed them, in an effort to keep everybody on the schedule. Otherwise, as soon as we'd put one down - another one would wake up and chaos would ensue.

Slowly but surely, we were able to eliminate that middle of the night feeding. Elizabeth was our hold out. She has always been the smallest, and would sometimes wake up for a feeding in the middle of the night. But, even then, I'd nurse her, and put her right back in her crib - - where she would continue to sleep until everyone woke up in the morning. Once that middle of the night feeding was eliminated, we started working to back our 11 PM feeding down to an earlier hour. Gradually, this feeding was 10:30 PM, then 10:00 PM, then 9:30 PM. Then, it just merged with the 7:00 PM feeding. So instead of feeding the babies 6 times a day ... we were feeding them 4 times a day.

  • 7 AM
  • 11 AM
  • 3 PM
  • 7 PM

Following the 7 PM feeding, they'd go to bed. Sometimes, there was crying. We would go in and check on them ... rub their backs, maybe pick them up and hold them for a few minutes ... but then, we'd put them back in their cribs. And - there might still be some crying. Like I said, it wasn't easy. But ... we stuck with it. We'd check on them after 5 minutes ... 10 minutes ... 15 minutes. The thing is/was - we knew that they'd been fed. They'd been burped. They had a clean diaper. They were dry ... not too hot and not too cold. Continuing to go in and pick them up, rock them, hold them, cuddle them was delaying the inevitable. They needed to go to sleep. The more we fiddled with them, the more overstimulated they would get. That reminder was a golden nugget to prevent me (or Charlie) from running in and scooping them up every time they peeped.

I'll add in that every now and again, Elizabeth will wake up in the middle of the night (interestingly enough, William and Carolyn never do). If I know that she's got a clean diaper, isn't hungry, has her lovey bunny, and not running a fever ... I let her cry-it-out. Sometimes, I've gone so far as to close our bedroom door to muffle the cries. Yes, it sounds awful. But here's the thing. There was a time when she was waking up, whether hungry or not, to come in to our bed at 3 AM because I would nurse her. It was almost as if she was programmed to wake up at that time - because she did it EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. We had to nip it in the bud. And the only way we could do that ... was to let her know that we weren't going to come and get her at 3 AM so she could come in to bed with us. It was very hard. One night, she cried on and off for 30 minutes. That's an eternity in the middle of the night. But ... after a couple nights - she stopped waking up. And so did we.

Once we got the babies sleeping through the night, we started working on their daytime nap schedules. They'd wake up between 6 and 7 AM and we'd feed them. We'd bring them out in to our family room - and we'd read to them ... sing to them ... dance with them ... play with them on the floor. At around 8:30 or 9 - we'd put them down for a nap, in their crib. There might be some crying, and we would check on them ... but we *required* 45-minutes, at a minimum, of sleep time before we said "Nap time is over." If necessary, we'd put them in their baby swings to relax them ... but as soon as they started to doze off - - in the crib they'd go.

I feel it's important to write all of this out for a few reasons.

First: sleep is critical to a person's well being. The better the quality of sleep you get ... the better you are going to be able to function in every aspect of your life ... children and adults, alike. When Charlie and I start to get flustered with one another ... 9 out of 10 times, it's because we are overtired and "cranky." Drink some water and take a nap. That's our motto.

Second: It is possible to have a baby sleep well, in their own crib. I've got 3-18 month olds sleeping peacefully in the other room as proof of that. They've been consistently sleeping 12 hours a night from the time they've been (adjusted age), 2 months old. In addition to that, they take solid naps during the day - that have ranged from 45 minutes to 3 hours, for a total of 15-16 hours of sleep - every day.

Third: I've never seen a baby embrace a crib the way our triplets do. It's not just at home, either. We've traveled with them extensively their first year of life - and they would sleep just as well in their playpens, as they do at home. I'm convinced it's because we have been extremely consistent about putting them in their cribs to sleep (with their loveys and a familiar lullaby playing in the background) from the very beginning. This ability to get our babies to sleep, is my proudest parenthood accomplishment, to date.

Sleep patterns are very dynamic with children. As soon as we think we've got it figured out, it always changes. Currently, we're dealing with the transition from 2 naps to 1 ... and it's not going too great. We've got babies waking up at odd hours during the night - and I'm blaming it on them not getting enough sleep during the day (no, I don't think it's teething!). I've realized that insufficient sleep during the day, can wreak havoc on their nightime sleep, too.

To be perfectly honest - I don't know if we would be as successful getting one baby on the sleep schedule that we have established with our three. There are a lot of things I might do differently with a singleton, that just aren't an option with triplets. But I'll forever maintain that there is nothing better for your body, spirit and soul ... than a good night's sleep.