Tuesday, October 03, 2006

What to do ... what to do?

There's a lot on my mind so I'm going to ramble. There may or may not be any rhyme or reason to what I write but then again, there seldom is.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record ... the house is a disaster.

Again.

I swear, it doesn't matter what I do - I cannot stay on top of it. There is no question that it was easier when the children were infants and not in to everything, because then - when I would clean the house, it would stay clean.

The problem now is that they ransack the place and anything that we had out on the counters - must be moved in to higher piles on the counters - in order to keep the kids from getting in to it. As a result, there are these disorganized piles all around our house that consist of anything from a tape measure, to a sharpie, to knitting needles, to chapstick, to sunscreen, to our gas and electric bill.

It takes every ounce of restraint to not pick up all this junk and throw it in the trash can, which I must then lock down so the children can't pull it back OUT of the trashcan and strew it about the house.

Even with our piles that are perched high on the shelves ... these kids are starting to use tools. They will flip over their little toy baskets and use the additional 6-inches to climb up and grab a say ... steak knife. Or tape measure. Or knitting needle. Or ... gas and electric bill that they will then partially consume. Thank goodness we receive our bills electronically too - or I would be forced to sift through tomorrow's diaper looking for the balance owed to SDG&E.

The clutter is driving me nuts. I am an anti-clutter freak, so this is literally killing me. Yes. I know that the children are only small once, forget about the house and enjoy this time. Blah, blah, blah. All I want is a floor that I can walk across without sticking to, for 24 hours. I want to fold a basket of laundry and not have it be unfolded and thrown all over the house - to the point that I can't distinguish between clean clothes and dirty clothes, so everything either gets washed again ... or stuck in drawers out of desperation.

Is that really too much to ask? A floor that I don't stick to and a blouse that is washed only once or that I think is clean but is really drizzled with maple syrup Aunt Jemima syrup?

A couple weeks ago, I opted to save the $140.00 a month we were paying for someone to come clean the house every other Friday, because within moments of her leaving - the house looked like it had been hit by a train. Besides, after a few months of having someone else clean our bathrooms ... I actually missed it. Yes, I missed scrubbing the toilet and knowing that the bowl was clean enough to eat from. Because - around here, you never know...

The children are napping right now. I suppose I could use this opportunity to go de-clutter and sanitize the house, but ... I don't want to make too much noise because if they woke up prematurely, the rest of my day would be shot. So instead, I blog.

And I wonder ... what could I, should I, ought I be doing differently??

Here's the thing: The outside world when it's just me plus the three of them, is a scary, scary place. I only venture to the outside world when I absolutely must. As an example - we are having tacos for dinner and we have no shells. Or hamburger. Or lettuce, tomato or salsa. Infact, we don't even have cheese or the little flavoring pack. All we have is the notion that tacos for dinner sounds good. That kind of dilemma would constitute a trip to the outside world. Although, on more than one occasion when faced with a similar situation, I will find myself saying "Tacos would be good. But the effort of getting the stuff to make tacos is far outweighed by the hassle of going to the store. We'll do tacos next week. Tonight for dinner, we'll have ... scrambled eggs."

I want to stay home with our kids. I want to be a constant in their lives during these critical formative years. But, I also wonder if I am robbing them of interaction with the outside world? If I enrolled them in a Mother's Day Out a couple mornings a week, would that expose them to positive educational things ... or ... would that expose them to hand & mouth disease?

What to do. What to do??

I think that it would be great to enroll them in some kind of class. I love the idea of getting them OUT of the house first thing in the morning - but I am usually hard pressed debating where I can take all three of them, by myself. I'm also very apprehensive to leave them somewhere until they are old enough to communicate with me, if there were something wrong. The few times I've left them - it's been a colossal disaster.

Mom recommended taking the kids to the library for story time, but I cannot rid myself of the image of three toddlers running around, climbing on top of tables, ripping books off the shelves and emitting their ear piercing shrieks. All the while, I'd be standing there like a deer frozen in the headlights, clutching my diaper bag and wondering how to exit as expeditiously and yet, gracefully as possible. I'm sure I'd be nervously laughing "Oh ... ha, ha ... we're not ready for this yet. Ha. Ha."

It's not to say that I lack courage and don't expose our children to positive educational activities. For example, this morning, I fed all three of them cereal in a bowl with milk and spoons. Three children that aren't yet two, perched at the table, over a recently mopped floor with cereal in a bowl with milk and spoons.

A short while later, I let all three of them stand on kitchen chairs while I made a batch of my mother's famous banana nut muffins. Because our kids have recently started to rebel against eating bananas, and I did not effectively communicate this to Charlie, for several weeks in a row - he continued to buy bananas, even though they were not being consumed. As a result, we had 20 over-ripe bananas in our freezer. Today, I made 10 dozen banana nut muffins and 3 banana nut bread loaves which I had intended to distribute to our neighbors, this afternoon.

Once I finished chopping the walnuts, I let the children help me add the walnuts in to the batter. I noticed that for every handful they would put in the bowl, a handful would go in their mouths. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw William put a handful of walnuts in his mouth ... chew ... take them out - and before I could stop him, throw them in the bowl. If I wasn't using our Kitchen Aid mixer, which was automatically stirring all the ingredients together, rest assure I would have scooped out the partially consumed walnuts. But darn if those nuts weren't mixed up before I could even absorb what had happened. And less than three seconds after that - Elizabeth decided Bunny needed to take a spin in the mixer, too.

Honestly. I don't know what to do with these children during the day so that they are positively stimulated. And I sure as heck don't know what I'm going to do with 120 muffins and 3 loaves of banana nut bread. Tell me about it William ... tell me about it.

**************
Here's my mother's famous banana nut bread recipe, in case you are one of my neighbors who are now not going to receive a batch of bread, but want to make your own:
1/2 c. oil
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
3 ripe bananas
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped (preferably not chewed) walnuts

Blend all of the above ingredients together and mix until smooth. Pour in to a greased bread pan (or muffin pan with liners). Place in a 350 degree (F) preheated oven. Cook for loaves for ~60 minutes, muffins for ~25-30 minutes. Serve warm with cream cheese.

23 comments:

  1. Jenna-
    I sure do wish we lived closer! When are you guys moving up here?

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  2. Dear Jenna: Having raised my 2 ( and my 2 step daughters) mostly by myself and working full time......
    One truly saving grace for me was: Co-op day care. I worked there 1 or 2 days a week and it was cost effective. The biggest benefit though, was to see my daughters interact with their peers, and learn so many priceless tools for their future. Myriads of doors opened for them daily. I was the Puppet Show Master and still do this today for my grand critters.
    My sister, bless her soul, never, ever would send her only child, Tommy, whom you've met and is normal now, to any outside activity EVER! She was afraid he would get germs or get hurt, etc.
    It took Tommy years to forgive her as he was sick all the time later in school as he had built up no immunity (your mom will probably agree.) Also he did not learn any coping skills with other children. Children also need their own space to form their own identity.....away from ours and our expectations of them as parents.
    They also need their swing set from these grands!
    Love to all of you and......this too shall pass.
    Kathleen, another grand.

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  3. You make me laugh out loud. I know that's probably not your intent, but oh man.

    You need to write a book.

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  4. Michelle in OR10/3/06, 4:46 PM

    I have a Word document on my desktop with "rainy day" and "sunny day" activities. Do you have a fast food playground near your house? I spend a lot of time there. Yes, they are infested with germs (which REALLY bothers me), but I good handwashing and clothes change after makes it doable. I also do a music class for toddlers and the library and I guarantee the teacher won't mind if your kids run around like crazy. Just make sure you pick one that doesn't require the kids to sit still for more than one short story at a time. I made that mistake for a couple of months. Now I go to a different library. I also go to the mall and walk around, then let my son play on the playground there.

    You've blogged about some great ideas! I love the merry-go-round idea, Costco, playing in the backyard with sand and water, going to the gym (it gets easier, trust me), etc. You are such a good mom!

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  5. Doing the whole classes thing is a freakin' nightmare with triplets. First, fees x 3 is a BUNCH of money. Second it's a requirement that you are there ON TIME (which I know you can be, but the stress of it sucks). Third, there is only one of you and 3 of them, which means if any part of the class needs parental involvement...well, you can imagine. Fourth, it sucks to have to see the sympathetic, poor you looks from the Moms of singletons. Fifth, if they don't get 100% out of it (like, say, having a tantrum instead of clapping along), it's pretty damn annoying, because you PAID and you were ON TIME. So I say IX-NAY on the LASSES-CA. :)

    However, all the other ideas are great - malls, library (they're used to kids running amok), just in the backyard, etc. I also contacted our local mothers of multiples group, and they had more than one multiples playgroup available (where trust me, nobody cares what you or they look like). If the group doesn't have one, but does have a newsletter - advertise! Start a playgroup where you rotate houses, etc. Above all remember that germs won't kill them. I promise.

    As for the mess...wish I had an answer for this, but I don't. I'm right there with you on the clutter front. *sigh* I've been known to literally sweep whole piles of stuff right into the trash. :) (And see above comment about germs.)

    Michelle

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  6. Hi, I'm new to your site and I love it! I tried to write a comment but it grew to epic proportions, so I put it in an email, which I just tried to send to you, which didn't work.

    I tried jen3@amazingtriplets.com

    How should I contact you? Or would you just like the largest comment in history?

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  7. Oh man....you have said it all in this post.

    1st of all...the house. I think it's easy to SAY you just get used to the clutter but it's just NOT that easy. I dislike clutter, don't get me wrong (i'm not OCD or anything though) but I've learned to adjust to what the "norm" is around here. (Although there are times I go into Brittney's room and just FREAK out and she's 9!!!)

    As far as getting the kids out, it would be really expensive for mother's day out (believe me, I pay for 2 kids, 2 days a week for 4 hours and I make SURE they make it there). We do the gymnastics class EVERY Saturday morning too...I enjoy getting out of the house early too, it just gets us up and moving. BUT again, I pay for 2 kids, once a week and I make SURE we're there.

    I think you're doing a fantasitc job!!!! Your kids seem so loved, so well taken care of, and the "real world" can wait. It's really over-rated.

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  8. I love their hair cuts and the muffins were made with a "little bit of Love" as Mary Anne says.
    I think you are doing a great job.
    They have Music in Greenville for children under 5 put on by the Greenville symphony once a month. Give the Library a try---I was there today and there were lots of kids in the kids rooms. Story tellers there also. Maggie is helping a Mom in a special "mothers helpers" thing from her school. Call the school and see if they have something like that in SD. The kids would love to see a new face. Take them to the beach and let them walk around in the sand and throw rocks in the water.
    Love,
    MOM

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  9. My dear, tornadoes live in my house too. Not only do they wreak havoc at every turn, but sap my energy as I try to do damage control. I also enjoy a clean house, but have had to lower my standards considerably.

    Check into your library and wee if they have a "toddler time" story time. The one at my library is a little more interactive and, more importantly, is held in an assembly room, away from the books. It's a lifesaver.

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  10. Grandma Shirley10/4/06, 12:15 AM

    Jenna,
    When I want to laugh and be cheered up I check out your blog. The "Kids" remind me so much of our "Kids". Hang in there you are doing a great job. Hope to see all of you soon.
    Love,
    Shirley
    AKA Darin, Kirk, and Vance's Grandma

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  11. Grandma Shirley--I second that emotion!

    Jenna, you're doing an amazing job!

    p.s. would you be mad if i told you i burst out laughing when you wrote this:
    we are having tacos for dinner and we have no shells. Or hamburger. Or lettuce, tomato or salsa. Infact, we don't even have cheese or the little flavoring pack. All we have is the notion that tacos for dinner sounds good.

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  12. I feel like I should NOT be offering you advice, since my recent posts are evidence that my kiddos are kicking my tail lately..HOWEVER, I find that getting OUT of the house is a huge mental health break for them and me. Having a college student 2-3 afternoons a week works GREAT for us because she enables us to go places that would otherwise be difficult AND she enables me to escape & leave them with a new playmate while I run errands.

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  13. One more thing, we do go to Kindermusik class and have done Gymnastics...and the kids LOVE it..but you MUST take an extra set of hands to avoid the scenario emzegee describes. (I take a homeschooled 13 year old from down the street for $5)

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  14. Jen,

    Here is advice from one triplet mom to another....

    Forget the house. It's a lost cause. My house used to be so clean it was like living in a laboratory. Now it's like living in a petri dish. The piles never go away. But the kids get taller and taller. I'm looking at my mantel and I see a nose suctioner, car keys, sunglasses, cord to computer, camera, little cars the baby can choke on, and a lot of dust.

    Secondly, just go. What't the worse that can happen? I was once in Children's Place outlet and had all three screaming at the top of their lungs. The cashier asked me if they were always like THAT at home. I said, "What THIS? This is NOTHING!"

    I was escorted out of the library by the librarian at our first story time. I thought it was a successful outing and went back the next week. She told me she thought she'd never see me again. HA! I pay my tax money! I PAY her to help me.

    I take them to the store at least 3 times a week. Did you know if your child breaks a $15 bottle of organic olive oil at Trader's they won't make you pay for it? AND you don't have to clean it up either. See?

    Just put on your game face. That's what I do. I'm cool as a cucumber. People think I'M A SAINT! Just don't look at the vein on my neck!

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  15. The answer to all of your questions is yes...and then no...and then yes again. The uncertainty of motherhood....
    I took my daughter to an in-home daycare 2 days a week instead of preschool.
    Cleaning the house while your children are young is like shoveling snow in a blizzard, and that could be dangerous, you know.
    I have learned to look at the football pads in my formal dining room and say to myself "this is the phase of life I am in. I will miss it when it has passed."
    Whatever you decide, please remember, you are a good mom. You are a good mom. You are a good mom. You are a good mom....

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  16. Now I only have one so there is no comparison. I know this. But we just joined a Gymboree class. You should see if they have one near you. It is clean. The teachers are cloroxing left and right before and after class. IT is "structured" in that if the kids participate with the parent it is great, but if they explore it is safe too. Screeching and the like are not looked down upon. I am pretty sure the cost of enrolled kids goes down with each child. AND in our town at least they have "open gym" which is not a class but you can bring your kids to let them run around and have some fun.

    Just a suggestion. But like I said, I don't have three so I don't know if you could do it by yourself. We have twins in our class and the instructor will take one of the kids during the circle time part. Maybe you could sit in on one to see how it is?

    I don't think your kids are missing out on getting into the outside world. I think you could use the time out of the house too ;)

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  17. You are an awesome (and hilarious) mother. Keep up the good work!

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  18. Delurking to say: you are amazing. I have twin 18-month old boys, but I'm thoroughly convinced that triplets are much, much harder, ofr all kinds of reasons. People often offer to help me, but my friend with triples says people are too busy staring to remember to help. I really enjoy hearing about your adventures, even as I wish I could give you a hug sometimes.

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  19. First, my house is always a disaster and I feel like I am always cleaning it. That's the reason I don't home school . I have to choose between cleaning and educating and I choose cleaning, sad.
    Next, skip the library. It's a nightmare. When they are three maybe but for now just stay home and enjoy them.
    3rd, taco bell drive through?
    Lastly I didn't know your name was Jenna, so is my DD #3, that's not a super common name but so pretty.
    And, as usual, your kids are darling!

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  20. All I can say is . . ."word".

    The dilema: The children are a nightmare in the house all day and need outings . . . yet taking them out by yourself is all but impossible right now. I have help during the week while I'm working - but when I have 'em - I usually have 'em alone as Derrick is usually out with Tate - adding a preschooler to the toddler triplet dynamic is an additive of chaos and insanity in an of ifself. Anyway - feel your pain on the outings, the grocery store (many a humbling moment there), classes . . .

    Anway . . . "word"

    Jessica

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  21. I read your blog quite often. I have been a nanny for a while and now I teach. I teach 18 months to 2 1/2 years old at a child care center. There are 2 teachers at all times with 8 - 10 children. I was going to recommend doing art activity everyday because at the age painting or gluing is so much fun. You could do it in the kitchen and let them use sponges or paintbrushes and it would be fun. Its fall so you get a trace pattern for leaves and cut out leaves have them paint or pumkins. Going to the library would be fun or a music class. The children in my class have music once a week and it is so much fun. If you want some other ideas just email me at laquetha@gmail.com

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  22. duncan saw that picture of william and thought it was him.

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  23. I would try a mother's morning out type program. My younger one started at 18 months and there were triplets there. Occasionally she brought only 2 of them and kept one with her. I think she also got a tuition break for them - it would certainly be worth asking.

    And/or as someone else suggested, get a teenager or even a preteen to come along and help as you corral them on outings.

    I never did classes. The mother's morning out did way more for my sanity for less money.

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