Sunday, September 30, 2007

when I don't sleep well

Charlie got up to play tennis this morning before the sun rose. He asked if I would mind him taking off to play and because I slept poorly last night and wasn't fully awake, I really thought he was asking if I wanted for him to make Belgian Waffles and bring them to me in bed.

To which I responded "Yes. That would be WONDERFUL."

When I woke up 30 minutes later to several children crying "Come get me!! I go poo-poo, need new diaper!!" I waited for a solid five minutes for the other adult in the house to go do the dirty work before I realized that I was the only adult in the house.

The only feeling that comes close is being thrown in to an ice cold pool.

I got up and dressed the kids, fed the kids, cleaned up and changed what seemed like 12 dirty diapers. All the while, I was thinking that our triplets are going to be three years old in exactly two weeks and I need to get myself in really good shape if I'm ever going to stand a chance at keeping up with them.

I haven't worked out in an eternity and am really starting to look and feel old. It seems like I've aged 10 years in the past two and a half years and another 10 years in the past three months.

Charlie called before coming home to ask if there was anything that we needed from the store. I mentioned that we could use some more diapers and I'd love it if he could bring me home a "little" something sweet.

My husband swung by Target where he purchased five different kinds of diapers. He bought Pull-Ups for girls and Pull-Ups for boys. He also bought night-time diapers in size 5 and size 6 because we've learned that Pull-Ups are not particularly absorbent for a 10-hour stretch. And then he bought size 3 diapers for our little Henry. While Charlie was at Target, he also picked me up a 45-ounce bag of M&M's because he knows that I've had an unrequited sweet craving ever since I've given up ice cream.

And the reason I've given up ice cream is because I'm TRYING to lose weight.

Now as much as women love presents, here's a tip: a 45-ounce bag of M&M's ... which was close to my premature child's birth weight ... is not the best gift for your wife who is feeling motivated to improve her physical health.

If in fact you give her a gift like this, don't be surprised if she pummels you with candy. After she eats a pound hand full. Or two.

While we unloaded supplies, Charlie told me that he bumped in to our neighbor who has a baby 4-weeks younger than Henry and was impressed that their baby is sleeping 10-hours through the night and waking up at 7 AM.

What Charlie says he said was "Isn't it great that their baby, four weeks younger than our son, is sleeping all night?"

What I heard was "Maybe you should stop nursing, because if Henry was on formula, I would finally get a good night sleep."

Even though he swears he didn't say that, and even if he did, he never would have said "I" because he knows that although his wife is awake at night, opening his eyes once when I get out of bed to pick up our hungry child, before he rolls over and falls back to sleep, doesn't constitute, "being awake".

This afternoon, once we had fed the children lunch and put them down for a nap, I settled down to nurse Henry. Charlie sat down on the couch next to me, put his feet up and was searching for the remote control to watch Sunday football, when I casually mentioned that sometimes what we say is not what the other person hears and sometimes, men and women really are different.

What Charlie says he heard me say is "You lazy sack of beans. Why are you sitting on your duff watching football when lunch is still all over the counter? Go clean up and get me my M&M's!"

Oh well. Maybe that is what I said.

Friday, September 28, 2007

the art of doing too much

I've noticed that the more I do with the kids in the morning, the better they nap in the afternoon.

And well, I'm all about good naps.

Earlier this week, I took the children to feed the ducks about a mile from our house.

I could have just brought the single stroller for Henry, but I decided to bring the double just in case someone needed to hitch a ride. It took us a little less than 20-minutes to get to the duck pond.

It took us 2 hours and 40 minutes to get home.

We stopped and had a snack on the middle of the sidewalk.

We stopped and watched sanitation engineers clean out the storm drains on our street.

We stopped and looked at worms and spiders.

We stopped and looked at leaves and pine needles.

The children rotated through the open seat in the stroller and I would walk no more than 100 feet, before my rider would climb out, a new one would climb in and the third one would want to be carried.

Because I couldn't walk away while my offspring laid on the sidewalk crying, without eventually having to walk back again, I would pick them up and carry them.

Until they saw a ladybug. Or a pine cone.


Then they'd kick and squirm like mad to get down. Their strength was restored!! It was a MIRACLE!! Until we started to walk again and they'd collapse.

And I'd continue carrying them.

The kids took a 2.5-hour nap after this adventure. I tried to do something useful, but was so tired, I instead found myself sitting on the floor and staring at the wall while eating a plate of O'Henry Bars.

Did I mention that we bought Skippy peanut butter at Costco and tried it out on the kids for the first time last month?

Turns out, the kids don't like crunchy peanut butter with their jelly.

So, unless I want to throw away the equivalent of a 1/2 gallon of peanut butter, I need to use it up.

Do you know how many trays of O'Henry Bars a 1/2 gallon of peanut butter makes??

Here's a two-word clue.

A. Lot.

That afternoon just as the kids were stirring from their slumber, I received a call from PBK notifying me that a special order I had placed last month was available for pickup. So, yesterday morning, bright and early, I got the kids loaded up and drove the 45-minutes north to the store.

I made the mistake of assuming that the store wouldn't be crowded at 10 AM on a Thursday. When in fact, the store was more crowded than the Saturday before Christmas.

I also made the mistake of assuming that I had bought everything worth of value while in the store, previously.

When in fact, the store was just recently stocked with "Fall/Winter 2007" items, which are slightly unlike "Spring/Summer 2007" items.

But cool! And new!

There were several educational toys that I thought we should have. I tried to be discreet in my purchase - with the intention that I would wrap the toys up and give them to the children for their birthday.

But, our kids are like bloodhounds.

They found everything that I had tried to hide beneath the stroller within a matter of minutes and they were oh, so happy.

I foolishly thought that these new toys would keep them entertained forever.

They'd never fight anymore.

They would instead sit quietly and play with their new toys and get smart.

I continued to believe this until we got home, they were bored within 10 minutes, tossed their new toys behind the couch and promptly started screaming at each other.

It is then that I wonder, for the umpteenth time, why I spend money on toys at all - when the children would be just as happy, if not more so, playing with a $0.99 box of Kleenex??

But while I was at the mall, I thought it would be good to let the children expel as much energy as they could.

Because at the root of almost everything I do, is the hope that I'll at least get a reprieve in the afternoon while they are napping.

After playing at PBK for a half hour, I let them ride the toy train three times, before taking them to Burger King for an early lunch. We then made our way over to a life-sized sea lion statue, where the kids played for another 30 minutes. I could tell that they were starting to get tired, so after chasing everyone down, we made our way back to the car.

Loading everyone inside, I turned on a movie, because it was paramount that they NOT fall asleep on the ride home.

But they did.

Five minutes from our house.

Even though I was tapping the brakes and the car was jerking in an attempt to keep them from settling into a slumber.

And the windows were rolled all the way down.

And the radio was blasting "If You're Happy And You Know It!"

They slept through it all.

The rest of the afternoon was a total blur.

I was completely exhausted while the children were completely wired.

When Charlie arrived home, I tried to lay down and sleep, but only nodded off for 5-minutes before Henry needed me.

It makes me wonder, if the kids can be energized after a 5-minute power nap ... why the heck can't I, too??

And if nothing else, why can't they at least enjoy sitting quietly and staring at a wall??

Next time, I absolutely must remember to bring a squirt gun in the car.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

at 12 weeks

Henry is weighing in at 17 pounds.

He is ready for a size 3 diaper.

Clothes that fit him last week, don't fit this week.

I have an unopened box with 228 Size 1 diapers I bought online.

And another 300 Size 2 diapers sitting in the garage.

I'm not sure what to do with all these diapers.

I sure wish they were bigger because I could certainly use them.

Since I'm on a PTBC hiatus, I'm back to changing at least 24 diapers a day.

And, I'm still wiping up messes off the floor.

Everyone loves the baby and are very protective of him.

William jumped in when a friend's little boy tried to bounce Henry in his chair last week by saying "You no touch MY baby Henwee!!"

At least he's not calling him "Robby" any more.

The kids love to read him stories and hold him.

It is nearly impossible to keep them away.

The baby caught his first cold from his doting siblings and has a bad cough.

Still, he smiles constantly.

Except for when I walk out of sight. And then he'll cry.

When I come back in to view, his eyes light up, he pulls his hands up to his face and his whole body wriggles.

He coos and sings and is turning in to a real chatterbox. He's also starting to chew on his hands.

He's sleeping better at night, although no more than 4-5 hours at a stretch.

He typically goes to sleep for the night between 7 and 9 PM. I'll feed him once more before I go to bed and then he'll be awake for another feeding between 3:30 and 3:35 AM. GUARANTEED.

I still pull him in to bed with us when he wakes up and keep him next to me until we get up for the day.

But I'm not bothered, in the least, by the fact that I haven't had a good night sleep in several months. Because I know one day all too soon, these days will be a distant memory.

And my little baby will no longer be a little baby.

So I'm enjoying him completely.

He will wake up for the day between 7 and 8 AM and needs a nap at around 9 AM.

I can tell because he gets fussy, unless I'm holding him.

But as soon as I put him in his crib, he'll wake up crying.

Since I'm not yet ready to let him cry-it-out, I'll relent and let him sleep in the Bjorn.

He spends about five hours a day hanging on my chest. He typically nurses four out of those five hours.

Which might explain why he's 17 pounds at not quite three months old.

His sister Elizabeth - who is almost three years old - weighs 27 pounds.

She can only tolerate holding him for a minute or two before he starts to crush her and she'll cry "Aw done Mommy. AW DONE!!"

He likes Charlie, too. But Charlie rarely has the opportunity to hold him, since he is almost always with me.

A year ago at this time, I had absolutely no idea what was in store. I was a little worried how I would handle another baby.

But now, I couldn't imagine my life without him. I also couldn't love him any more than I do.

But I bet tomorrow, I will.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

bagpipes and jenny lake

If you ask any one in my family, they'll tell you that I'm a hypochondriac.

But I'm not sure why they think this.

When I was a six years old, I had a stomach ache that I complained about and everyone told me to "BE QUIET." (At least that's what I remember).

It was only when I threw up in the swimming pool and my mother put me in to her bed (the only room in the house with an air conditioner) for a nap with my sister Beth - who had just had her wisdom teeth removed - and Beth rolled over and put her arm across my stomach and I started screaming - that someone looked at me.

It turns out my appendix had ruptured.

And turned gangrenous.

I had to have an emergency appendectomy and was in the hospital for weeks. I don't think anyone came to visit me. Except my Aunt Carolyn. She brought me a toy Evil Knievel that I raced up and down the halls on the Children's Floor, from my reclining wheel chair.

I still have the scar. It's an awful thing.

When I was 10 I had to have my tonsils and adenoids removed. Because my mother was working as a nurse and wouldn't be off work for a few hours - my Aunt Grace came with me to the hospital. I remember coming out of the anesthesia in the recovery room and feeling terrible. I really thought I was going to die and asked for my mother and a priest.

My recovery nurse grabbed my Aunt Grace, who looks very much like my mom - and said "Here's your mom, honey. Here she is."

That only made it worse because not only did I think I was going to die, I wondered if I was so bad off that I couldn't recognize my own mother?

No one ever listened to me about my ailments. They still don't.

At the moment, Charlie is blowing off my ingrown toenails like it is no big deal ... but I'm soaking them in hydrogen peroxide and rubbing Neosporin all over them twice a day, because I wouldn't be at all surprised if I got sepsis.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that if I was looking straight ahead and diverted my eyes to the left or right, it hurt. So, I kept doing it to see if it went away. When the pain didn't go away and only intensified, I started to worry that there was something seriously wrong.

Like, a tumor.

I told Charlie about my concerns and like always, he blew it off. "Jen, I doubt you have a tumor. Maybe your eye just hurts because you're looking after kids all day long and don't get enough sleep. Have you thought of that?"

No, I didn't think of that. But I highly doubted that looking after kids would make my eyes feel like they were going to fall right out of my head.

A tumor made much more sense.

So instead of going to bed and getting sleep, I stayed up late in to the night worrying that I was on my way out. It made me terribly sad thinking about our little children growing up with out a mother. So sad that I decided I better hurry up and finish my Will. Because if my Google searches yielded any valid information about my eye pain ... there was a very good chance I wasn't going to be here six months from now.

Completing a Will has been on my "To-Do" list ever since the triplets were born. But I'd been putting it off for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, I felt like once I got it finished, there would be nothing stopping a meteorite from falling out of the sky and hitting me. Or, an aneurysm from rupturing. It makes perfectly good sense that by not having a Will in place, an invisible force is preventing anything bad from happening.

Second, I didn't have the time. Or rather, any time that I did have - was quickly taken up by things I'd prefer to do. Like - washing the windows inside and out. Or, flossing my teeth.

Third, I didn't want to be sad. I can't think of anything more depressing than making my own final arrangements.

Fourth, All of the information I'd seen about pulling together a Will seemed terribly expensive. One of my friends who had recently had hers finished said that the attorney they hired cost $2,500.00.

So, in a nutshell ... I'd be spending a lot of money on something that would take me a lot of time to complete that I didn't want to do, I'd be crying, and once it was finished - I'd either be crushed under a 4.6-billion year old rock that flew out of orbit from some far away asteroid belt, or drop dead instantly from an aneurysm.

But something about my eye pain made me realize that if something were to happen to me before I had a Will in place - especially if Charlie was to be consumed by a pool shark - there was no information regarding what should happen to our children.

Ultimately, they were my motivation to get something in place.

Researching the internet, I found a website ( that allowed me to complete my entire "Estate Plan" for the bargain basement price of $34.95. Included in my Estate Plan is:
  • Last Will and Testament (this covers the disposition of my remains and any final wishes, it also appoints guardianship for our children, and defines an executor of my estate and family trust);
  • Advanced Health Care / Living Will (this outlines what I want to have happen if I'm in a vegetative state);
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Finance (this assigns a person(s) to handle all of my finances);
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (this assigns a person to implement my Advanced Health Care Directive and Living Will).
I also paid an additional $9.95 for an annual subscription. This allows me to go in and make any changes I want to any of the four components of my Estate Plan, without an additional charge.

Now, provided I don't die first, I might decide that it is worth the $2,500.00 to have an Estate Plan professionally prepared by an attorney. But until such time that I find an extra $2,500.00 laying around ... at least I have something in place, now. Because although my eye healed and my doctor also thought that the pain was due to a strained muscle ... what's to say my ingrown toenails don't take me out?

It took me a long time to decide how I want my remains handled. Several years ago, I was convinced I would be cremated. But after Charlie and I were sitting on our patio under neath the space heater last winter and watched a moth get burned alive, we both decided that maybe burial was the better way to go.

Then I couldn't decide where I'd be buried. My father has purchased several plots at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts - and he invited Charlie and I to come rest with him, eternally. But during a recent conversation, Charlie informed me that Sleepy Hollow is too dark and spooky. He'd much prefer to be someplace bright and sunny.

Me too. But then again, I'd much prefer to be ABOVE the ground then BELOW it.

When I was completing my Will, I decided again that I'd be cremated. Because ultimately, I think cremation is more environmentally sound than sticking a casket in a concrete enclosure in the earth. Besides, if I were to die tomorrow, it would be a huge hassle to have my body hauled off to some Funeral Home - fitted for a casket - and then, transported to my final resting spot.

That's a lot that has to happen over a very short period of time as opposed to having my body cremated and ashes returned. No big rush.

Some other things I've specified in my Will include the distribution of my ashes over Jenny Lake in Wyoming, right at the foot of the Grand Tetons.

Because I like options, I indicated that if it's more convenient, I'd be happy sprinkled off Butterfly Beach in Santa Barbara. But only during an off-shore breeze.

I also indicated that I'd like a donation made to the San Diego Zoological Society and I want my name on a bench somewhere in the zoo. Preferably not near the flamingos, they are too stinky.

I want bagpipes to play "Amazing Grace" and because I think it is important for people to have a peaceful spot to go and reflect on the one that has passed, I want a headstone at the Santa Barbara cemetery, which is situated on a cliff overlooking the Pacific. This is hands-down one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited and happens to be where Charlie's mom is buried.

Last but not least, I want my headstone to read "See, I told you I was sick."

Because if my ingrown toenails don't kill me, I have a rash on my neck that looks suspicious.

Monday, September 24, 2007

it's a good thing I'm not easily offended

During a recent phone call with my mother, she told me that I sounded like a man on the video clip I uploaded of Henry.

When I asked "A man?!" She said "Well, either a man or someone that talks through their nose. You sound very nasally."

Maybe that explains why every time I try to sing to the children they'll yell at me "NO SINGING!!" and if they are close enough, they'll try to put their hands over my mouth to keep me quiet.

And here I thought I had a lovely voice.

Apparently my appearance isn't much better.

This morning when I walked in to the kitchen, William's eyes lit up and he exclaimed "Mommy! You a TELETUBBIE!!" When I asked "A teletubbie?!" He responded "Yeah!! You BIG like Tinky Winky!!"

My young son compared me to a Teletubbie, based solely on my size. It had nothing to do with the color I was wearing, because Tinky Winky is purple and I was dressed from head-to-toe in brown.

Which turned out to be a good thing.

Because when I took Henry to his third hearing evaluation (which he thankfully passed), he had the hugest blow-out I've ever seen in my entire life on this planet ... while I was holding him. It was so extreme it came out the back of his shirt and down his pant legs. And when I went to change him, he had poop on his shoulder blades and underneath his arm pits.

And it was all over me.

The technician who was completing the hearing screen smiled and said "Well, it's a good thing that your pants and shirt are the EXACT same color."

Ah yes.

Sh*t brown. That would be the predominant color of my new wardrobe.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

the sabbath

A few weeks ago, we went to church for three consecutive weeks. Each time we'd drop the kids off in the nursery, and retreat to the parent-viewing room with Henry, I felt like I was playing a game of roulette.

Would this be the week the children get sick ... again??

Three days following our third Saturday in attendance, the runny noses began and then, a few days later, the deep-seated (any way you choose to spell it - it was bad) cough that kept the kids up late in to the night, hacking.

Charlie picked this bug up last weekend, and was completely leveled for two days. Despite my fanatical hand washing, I felt myself starting to go down the tubes. I immediately began loading up on Vitamin C and Zicam, which I'm convinced is the greatest home health care product since the Band Aid.

(As a side note, Zicam is miraculous. I am the kind of person that would get a cold and be knocked out for at least two weeks. Now, whenever I feel a cold coming on, I'll start using the nasal swabs and typically, be 100% within a couple days. I swear by the stuff.)

Yesterday, Henry started coughing. I could tell that it wasn't just a superficial cough, it was a deep-in-his-chest sounds like the dreaded bronchitis cough.

Once they were home from the hospital, our triplets didn't get sick their entire first year of life. Although it might seem that keeping three premature infants healthy would be much more challenging than one full-term baby ... it is very difficult to keep an infant healthy when you've got three little people that are determined to kiss him on the lips.

Today, I really wanted to get out with the children. It has been a week since we've had a "big" outing and I thought it would be good for everyone's spirit to go ride on the carousel and train at Balboa Park. I especially wanted to get out because I knew, within minutes of him waking up, that William was going to be our problem child, today. Every day there's a new one. Sometimes two - but always one. It's like they take turns.

"OK, so I drove mom and dad sh*t-batty today. Who's got tomorrow?"

This morning, Charlie went to play tennis and didn't get home until 9:30. By the time he was showered and dressed and ready to leave, it was 10:00. By the time we loaded four children in to the car, unloaded them and changed four dirty diapers, reloaded them, and pulled out of the driveway, it was 10:30. Less than two-miles from our house, Henry started to cry and quickly, started to scream.

Typically cool under pressure, I tried to give him his pacifier, turning around from the front passenger seat while feeling every muscle in my back and neck start to spasm. Henry couldn't be consoled. He was screaming and coughing and turning red and sweat was beading up all over his head.

I directed Charlie to pull over in a parking lot and hopping out of the car, I removed Henry from his car seat. For the next 10 minutes, he screamed. For a baby that rarely cries, I could tell he was terribly distressed. My mind was reeling with what to do. I tried nursing him, I tried burping him, I tried laying him across my legs, I tried walking.

Meanwhile, in the back seat of the car, William was having a conniption fit, screaming and crying "I. GO. TO. PARK. I. RIDE. ON. CAROUSEL. NOW!!! CLOSE. DOOR. MOMMY. I. GO. NOW!!!" Charlie was very patiently trying to explain that the baby was sick and although the girls were gravely concerned, William was oblivious to anything but his own want.

He was kicking the seat, throwing his blanket, flailing his arms and swatting at anything that came near him, including his sister's sweetly outreached hand.

Then, the girls started screaming, too.

Within a matter of minutes, I sent Charlie home, with a van of screaming children, to retrieve the Infant Tylenol, while I stayed behind with Henry in the desolate parking lot.

Instantly, there was quiet.

The baby stopped crying. He looked up at me, smiled and promptly fell to sleep. For the next 20 minutes, I walked around the parking lot, alternating my gaze from the beautiful infant in my arms to the beautiful blue sky above. It was an absolutely perfect day and I felt at peace.

Completely and throughly at peace.

And then, the hell storm on wheels pulled back in to the parking lot.

While William continued with his whining, I loaded a sleeping Henry in to his car seat, gave him a dose of Tylenol, and we continued on our way. I had considered returning home, but I decided that if I was at home, I'd be listening to the whining so why not take the show on the road?

Besides. I really, really needed to get out.

Even though it was now 11:30 and nap time begins at noon.

I'm not quite sure what I was thinking.

Obviously, I wasn't.

We arrive at the park and Charlie takes the children on the carousel, while I stay with Henry who is still sleeping soundly. After a few minutes, I load him in to the stroller and rejoin Charlie and the kids at the train.

The children are having a great time. We are having a great time.

We decide to take a walk. Which turns in to a really long walk that has us on the other side of the park. We're not really thinking about the time. Or, the fact that the only stroller we have is designed for holding one baby. And it is occupied.

Of course it happens that when we are at the farthest point from our vehicle, the children start to have a meltdown. This makes perfect sense since they've just walked two miles and it is now 2:30. Charlie and I give each other looks that say "How could we be so stupid?"

Turning around we start our trek back to the car just as William and Carolyn go boneless, Elizabeth runs in the opposite direction and Henry wakes up.

Henry is transferred to the Bjorn, William is loaded in to the stroller, Carolyn is put on Charlie's shoulders and I tie a rope around Elizabeth.

Once we get back to the car, it is 3:15 and the children can barely keep their eyes open. All three of them are asleep before we pull out of the parking lot.

Because I knew that we would be home in less than a half-hour and our kids would wake up as soon as we pulled in to the driveway, I thought it would be a good idea to capitalize on whatever nap time we could get by driving around for a while.

Soon, we were driving by Costco and when I remembered a few things that we needed for the week, I suggested Charlie quickly run in while I stay in the car with the kids. Just as Charlie tried his best to gingerly close the door when I dropped him off at the front, Elizabeth woke up crying. Which woke up William. And Carolyn. And Henry.

It's debatable what causes more physical pain.

Giving three two-year olds a 15-minute nap after they walked close to four miles?

Or, trying to find a parking spot at Costco on a Sunday, after the football game?

Lucky me, I had both.

And a baby that was crying again.

I circled the parking lot several times, before I noticed that a car was just preparing to leave. Since the car was directly in front of me, I felt confident that I had "marked" this spot before anyone else. Because, there was no way anyone could see the "reverse" lights unless they were directly behind the car.


As the car backs out, I proceed to pull forward when just then, a black Toyota Sequoia with tinted windows and spinners on the wheels, puts on their left blinker and tries to pull in to my "marked" space.

Now. Here's the thing. I'm not sure if having a new baby has done it to me ... or, if having four children in less than three years has done it to me ... or, if skipping the kids nap has done it to me. But today, I diagnosed myself as psychotic.

Because that's the only way I can explain why I would have cut off a black Toyota Sequoia with tinted windows and spinners on the wheels - and when they laid on their horn at me - I showed them that they were number one.



For all I know, the people in the black Toyota Sequoia with tinted windows and spinners on the wheels, were packing pistols.

I know better. I do. Really.

I'm rational. Right??

I know it's JUST a parking spot.

Here I am, a person that would go to church religiously, if only their children didn't get sick 33.333% of the time. I'm a kind person who makes Apple Crisp for neighbors. A generally non-aggressive person that prays before every meal and bedtime each night. A person that is registered as a blood marrow and organ donor.

And although I'd be more than happy to give the person driving the black Toyota Sequoia with tinted windows and spinners on the wheels my bone marrow - or a kidney - there was no way on God's green earth they were getting my parking spot at Costco, today.

While I watched in my rear view mirror, I saw that they found another parking spot one row over. I only quickly lost my breath when I watched a 350-pound Samoan man step out of the car and glare in my direction. And then, I said aloud "Yeah buddy. You come on over here. I'll open a can of whoop ass like you ain't never seen before!"

I'm sure the man heard me and could have mowed me down like a blade of grass. But he continued in to Costco, glancing over at my car like there was a total psychopath on board.

Which there was. With my four screaming children.

I've thought about this for the past several hours and not only does it disturb me, it makes no sense. I love our children more than life itself and want nothing more than to live and see them grow up. I want to be a positive, influential role model in their lives.

So, what happened??

For the first time ever, I can understand why my mother didn't realize that she was stopped on railroad tracks, even when the crossing gate came down on top of her car full of children and broke in half. It was only when a police officer knocked on the window did mom notice that we were about to be hit by a train.

Mother's who have child-induced psychosis must have angels watching over them.

I know I did in the parking lot of Costco, today.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

enjoying fruit of the vine

A love for the red grape ...

Is independent of age and positively endless.

Friday, September 21, 2007

my do it!

One of the most common phrases heard in our home these days is "MY DO IT!"

Because, at almost three years old, our triplets are becoming fiercely independent.

On the one hand, it makes me incredibly proud to see our children grow and want to do things themselves. But on the other hand, when I'm in a rush to get someone a drink, or assist someone with taking off a dirty diaper, or escort someone to the bathroom with a potty receptacle full of something, or nurse a hungry baby ... usually all of which are occurring at once ... there is only so much time I can devote to a little person who is becoming more and more frustrated as they try desperately to pull up a pair of pants with two legs shoved in the same hole.

If I step in and try to help them, they will have a fit. They want to do it themselves and usually, they will figure it out and the sense of accomplishment that flashes across their face is priceless.

Sometimes though, they fall down in hysterics, twisted like a pretzel and screaming for "MY MOMMY!!" to help.

Over the past month, I've been preparing myself for how I would take care of the children when Charlie returned to work. Similar to when I was first left at home alone as a new mother with our triplets, I was a bit panicky wondering how, exactly, I was going to successfully incorporate a new baby in to the daily juggle that is life.

I mean, there's a lot to do.

Even with Charlie's flexible work schedule ... in a day, I'm usually preparing breakfast, lunch - and often times, dinner - before Charlie gets home. I'm preparing snacks for the morning and the afternoon. I'm running at least two loads of laundry, folding and putting that laundry away.

I'm chasing after three children, breaking up fights, coordinating and participating in various activities, and strategizing what we are going to do next, when the children get bored of whatever it is they are currently doing.

Usually 10 minutes after they started - give or take 5.

I'm trying to get the children to go down for a nap - at the exact same time - and sleep for hopefully, the same amount of time.

I'm trying to clean the house as I go and make sure that all of the bathrooms have sufficient rolls of toilet paper and that the refrigerators are adequately stocked - while trying to figure out what would be a good use for a carton of cottage cheese and a 1/2 gallon of V8 juice, before it goes bad.

And then there's paying the bills.

And feeding and walking and cleaning up after the dog.

And updating my blog.

And sleeping. Although this doesn't get as much attention as it should.

Even though Henry is a very easy going infant, he needs to be held, changed, fed and burped. If it wasn't for his incredible ability to vertically nurse while I update my blog (and when the triplets are napping) ... there's no way I would be able to provide any updates.

I'd also never go to the bathroom.

A few weeks ago, before Charlie returned to work full-time, I was really afraid that I wouldn't be able to handle all of the responsibilities, by myself. So, I placed a call to a woman who had indicated that she might know of some people that would be available to come and help.

Since that time, I've reconsidered.

The more I thought about having someone come in to help everyday, the more uncomfortable I became. In quintessential two-year old fashion ... I want to do it myself.

Now there are several reasons for why I think that I am better off being at home alone with the children. And none of them have to do with martyrdom.

First: I have noticed that the children behave so much better when it is just me and them. And so do I. In fact, as soon as Charlie walks in the door after a day at the office, everyone's behavior erodes rapidly. From what Charlie tells me, the same is true when he has them on their own. With just one of us, they are well behaved and obedient.

What this tells me is that having one person as the "control point" makes a big difference in our home. Or, the children understand what is going on and have sympathy for us.

Whatever the case, since Charlie has been back to work, the children have been absolutely wonderful to be around. They sleep better, play better and eat better. There has been little to no screaming, fighting or other behavior that would make me want to crack open a bottle of beer at 9 AM.

Well, except the Weeble Wobble fiasco.

Second: I know what's going on. I know what's been done and what needs to be done. I know where the children are and what they are doing. I know that when I walk out the door with the children, I am solely responsible for insuring that everything is packed appropriately. It never ceases to amaze me that although Charlie and I are in pretty good sync, we will forget things like bathing suits for the beach - or the Baby Bjorn at the zoo - when we work in tandem.

One day last weekend, the kids didn't eat breakfast until almost 11 AM, because we were both busy doing other things and thought the "other one" had it covered. That is the same reason two of our four children didn't have their diapers changed all day and why one of our children was able to play with the contents of a shampoo bottle, unsupervised, for a solid five minutes.

When we are home alone, we don't make any assumptions for what has or has not been done, or who is watching the kids.

Third: As much as I appreciate receiving help - and sometimes it truly is necessary - I feel like I am very easily distracted from what needs to be done when there are other people here. Since I've been home by myself the past two weeks, I have accomplished more things than I have all summer. I've washed the inside and outside of all the windows, I've organized all of the children clothes and toys, and I've tackled a load of chores I had been putting off for months YEARS.

Our wedding album?

It's almost done.

The house is more organized than it's been ... ever ... and we've been eating healthier meals and snacks throughout the day. I've also been doing a lot of activities with the kids that I didn't think I could do, on my own. We go to the park almost everyday, I've taken them to the store shopping and very soon, I'll be taking all three of them to the zoo.

Everyday, I make a schedule for what's on tap and I stick to it. If there was another person here, even paid help, it would just be one more body to "get on board" and I know it would slow us down.

Fourth: No one does things the way that I do things and I am very particular about the way I want things done. Yes, people are trainable and yes, perhaps I am a little too uptight. But I don't want to be looking over anyone's shoulder. That just takes more time and energy than if I were to do it myself.

I know where everything goes.

I know how I want laundry folded, dishes washed, and diapers stacked.

I know that not all the toys get thrown in to the same toy basket.

I want the trains go in the train drawer, the stuffed animals in one bin, the dolls in another.

Once Henry was born, I canceled the cleaning service that had been coming once every two weeks, throughout my pregnancy, to clean our house. I canceled their services because I've always believed that I could do a better job than what I was paying them to do.

Besides. I saw that they were using our dish sponge to clean the counters.

And they used Pine Sol to clean our bathroom, instead of Comet.

And whenever I saw one of the cleaning women struggle with our Animal, to the point that I thought she was going to break it, I wondered what exactly would I do if a person that I pay $70.00 for three hours, destroys my $600.00 vacuum? Do I tell them that they need to come and clean our house, free of charge, for the next eight and a half weeks?

Now, I've taught the children how to vacuum and they do a great job. Except for when they suck their siblings hair up the wand. Or ice cubes. Or, put the wand inside the diaper pail.

But let's not focus on the negative.

One of my fellow triplet mom's has a live-in helper and she was recently telling me that over the past two and a half years, her helper has destroyed three entire sets of nonstick pots and pans. She also washed and shrunk an expensive chenille blanket and several throw pillows.

But she reassured me that the good this woman does, far outweighs the bad.

I know that if you have people come in to help, you have to realize that they might not do things the way that you would do things. And unless you want to be a control freak dictating everything that they do - and hence risk losing the help altogether - you need to be prepared to just let go.

Perhaps it's because Charlie and I have lived away from our families for so long, that we've learned how to make things work - with just the two of us. Because after a good amount of soul searching, I've discovered I'm not prepared to let go. So, not only am I not very good at asking for help, I'm apparently not very good at receiving it either.

However, I am good at enjoying my little baby, since I could look at his beautiful face all day long. Lucky for us both, he enjoys being worn almost constantly, because otherwise, I'd never get anything done.

Now, I just hope that the motivation I've had since Charlie has returned to work doesn't wear off anytime soon. Because if it does, I'll be the one falling down in hysterics, twisted like a pretzel and screaming for "MY MOMMY!!" to help.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

looking forward to winter

I have started a list that is honestly two pages long of various topics I want to cover, but I keep getting sidetracked. It is no exaggeration to say that each and every day, I am bombarded by a plethora of new things to write about. But because I'm currently lacking the mental capacity to discuss anything of value, I instead want to jabber about my day.

I had a doctor's appointment this morning to check out my two ingrown toenails. Since I haven't had an ingrown toenail since sixth grade, I'm convinced pregnancy edema is to blame. Considering I had to go up an entire shoe size during my pregnancy with Henry, I think that my toes swelled up - the nail bed expanded - and then when the swelling went down, the nails were ingrown.

That makes perfectly logical sense to me.

The doctor also checked out an ingrown eyelash that I have. It's the oddest thing. I have a little bump on my eyelid and if you look closely you can see that there is a hair inside. But whenever I tried to pluck it or set Charlie (who is very handy with a pair of tweezers and finds intense joy in squeezing or digging things out of people's bodies) on the job, I thought I was going to die.

Lesson learned is that the skin on your eyelids is extremely, extremely sensitive and I think it would have been less painful to drop a cleaver on my foot.

My doctor is a nice enough guy. But the only reason I went to go see him is because in the world of HMO's, I need to see him first, in order to get a referral to the doctor that can actually help me.

Today, he talked to me about this crazy allergic reaction I have seemed to develop with gold. Ever since Henry has been born, I can no longer wear gold without developing a terrible rash. Which means, I can either tolerate the raised eyebrows I get whenever people look at me with four children and no wedding band - or - have all of my ring settings transferred to platinum.

I'm opting for the latter.

My doctor also gave me an antibiotic for my toenails. And, a different antibiotic for my eye. He also referred me to an opthamologist and a podiatrist.

My opthamologist appointment is next week. My podiatrist appointment isn't until January.


Well, it's a good thing my toes are only slightly excruciating to walk on. And there is only a little bit of puss oozing out with each step. I can't believe the podiatrist is so backed up. Are that many people having problems with their feet??

Following the doctor appointment, I swung by The Sports Authority to pick Charlie up a new pair of tennis shoes. And a new watch, because his beloved G-Shock broke last month and he hasn't been on time for anything, since. While I was at The Sports Authority, I noticed that they were having a big sale on Columbia Sportswear. I decided to browse and see if there was anything that jumped out at me.

Well, I'll be damned if half the women's department didn't jump out and land itself in my cart. Unlike last year when I was in the mood to fill the majority of my closet with lime green and hot pink ... this year, I'll be dressed predominantly in brown and off white.

And black. Because I loaded up on my all-time favorite black drawstring sweat pants that can be used as an all around the house, yard and playground pant.

Or, dressed up with a cardigan and pumps. This is a very nice look indeed.

Particularly if you are from the motherhood camp that thinks a ponytail looks fashionable.

I also picked up three pint-sized tennis rackets for the children's birthday, because I think three is a good age to get them out on the courts and watch them chase after balls and hit each other on the head with a Prince. Tennis might even surpass their current favorite past-time of laying on the family room floor under every single blanket that they own.

Lastly, I picked up a new bag. Because I have recently realized that I have an addiction to buying bags. Backpacks, mailbags, purses, duffel bags. Even wallets. And little bags that hang by a string around your neck. The newest bag to my family of bags is a smaller sized backpack that will work perfectly as a diaper bag. I think a possible new career move for me would be a bag designer.

Driving home, I could tell that Fall is in the air. The weather dropped to the high 60's today, so I felt fully justified dressing the girls in their winter tights and jackets before sending them out to a play date with Charlie this morning while I went to the doctor.

Now unless you live or have lived in Southern California, I don't think it is possible to appreciate the slightest weather shift that represents a change in seasons. You also could not possibly fathom how quickly a person's blood thins and temperatures in the high 60's with a cool breeze, will send them running for their hats and scarves.

Today, there were clouds in the sky and I think it rained last night. These are all prime indications that Old Man Winter is just around the corner and we need to make sure that there are lots of candles and canned goods on hand. It's also that time of year to make Apple Crisps for the neighbors and dust off our Crock-Pot for hearty beef stews. And, peruse the LL Bean catalogue for new flannel pajamas.

That's all I've got.

Now I'm off to finish up the birthday invitations for a little gala we're planning for the children next month. But not before I try on all the clothes I bought while out today, that I couldn't try on in the store since I was wearing Henry.

It's such fun to buy clothes without trying them on. In my mind's eye, I can see how great I'm going to look in the various outfits. Why, I'll look even better than the model. Because in some rare twist of fate, pant sizes that would been too snug someplace or another, now fit perfectly.

Whenever I buy clothes without trying them on first, I always leave the store in a good mood. I'd rather save myself any disappointment until I get home and realize that the only thing that fits are a pair of wool socks. Which I probably won't wear until I get my toes repaired.

In January.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

the submarine parent

Because it is extremely important for my mental health to get out of the house at least once a day with the children, yesterday I loaded everyone up - just after breakfast - and headed to a local park.

With our picnic lunch in hand, we arrived at 10:00 AM.

There was a local playgroup meeting at this same park - so I would estimate that there were roughly 25 kids running around. Within a few minutes of arriving, we were joined by a little boy named Brandon, who had just turned four years old.

Brandon climbed on all the play structures with our children ... took turns going down the slide ... hung on the bars and made noises like a monkey ... and shared a swing with William.

An hour passed.

Although I was definitely looking, not once could I see an adult who was supervising Brandon.

Because it was getting close to lunch time and the temperature was heating up, I herded my children over to a small covered picnic table, beneath a play structure, and pulled out their sippy cups of lemonade and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Little Brandon saddled up next to them and sweetly inquired "Where's my lunch?"

As is always the case, I had enough food with me to feed a small colony of children. I had three full sandwiches, a ziploc bag full of apples, a sleeve of Fig Newtons, three granola bars and two oranges. But, I have no idea if Brandon has food allergies - OR - what his guardian/parent would think of some absolute stranger feeding their son on a playground, so I told him "Brandon, I'm so sorry! I had NO idea that you were going to be here today or else I would have packed something for you to eat, too!"

While my children sat down and ate their lunch and drank their ice cold lemonade, Brandon watched. At one point I asked "Brandon, who are you here with?" And he responded, while pointing at a covered picnic area 100 yards away, "Mommy. She's over there ... somewhere."

I stood up from where we were seated beneath the play structure and looked again, and although I could see a clump of people standing around talking, I couldn't see anyone that so much as glanced in our general direction.

Another hour passed.

Several people left the playground and a few more people arrived. I was busy pushing the children on the swings, spotting them as they climbed up structures that were designed for kids between 5 and 12 years old, and generally - trying to keep them all within eye sight.

I was also trying to keep Henry, who was sleeping in the stroller, protected from a 20-month old who felt obliged to come over and try to shove his pacifier in my baby's mouth. When I reached my hand down and said "Oh that's nice but he doesn't need your pacifier" the toddler's mother walked up and informed me "Timmy has a 7-month old baby brother at home and he loves to share his pacifier with him."

That's nice.

When little Timmy tried again, and again and again to give Henry his pacifier, I finally decided that it was time for Henry to be put in the Bjorn where he would be out of Timmy and his pacifier's reach. As I was lifting Henry up, Timmy's mother gave me an offended look and said "I always let Timmy help out with his little brother."

That's nice, too.

But here's the thing. After having premature newborns that spent six weeks in the NICU, I'm a bit of a germophobe when it comes to babies.

And here's the other thing. Timmy isn't Henry's brother. I've never seen Timmy before. And for all I know, he drank toilet water for breakfast and was just licking the ground. If one of my children so much as tried to touch a strange baby's face - never mind give them THEIR pacifier - it would only happen once. I'd make sure it never happened again, even if that meant physically removing our child to a different part of the park.

Meanwhile, Brandon continued to play with our children, for the next half hour. Not once did his mother come over to check on him ... or to find out if the woman who was obviously looking after three young children - with a fourth strapped to her body - was in a good position to be pushing her son on a swing.

At 12:30, it was time for us to head home for naps.

Because in the two and a half hours we were at the park, I had yet to visually confirm that Brandon had a guardian, I walked over to the covered picnic area and asked "Hi, is someone here Brandon's mom?" A woman who was facing the opposite direction, was tapped on the shoulder by another woman before she turned around.

I said "Hi, are you here with Brandon?" and when she nodded yes, I said "OK, because I'm getting ready to leave and I wanted to make sure that he had someone here who was looking after him. Otherwise, I thought we'd just bringing him back to our house where he could spend the holidays with my family."

She laughed and then turned around to rejoin her conversation.

Brandon actually started to follow us out of the park and towards our car, before I had to stop and tell him that his mom would be very sad if he left. After a certain amount of convincing, Brandon walked back to the park and sadly waved goodbye. It took a lot of restraint to not at least toss him an orange or sleeve of Fig Newton's before I pulled out of the parking lot.

On the drive home, I decided that if I'm a helicopter parent, Brandon's mother would have to be the antithesis, a submarine parent. She just drops her child off and then dives, dives, dives. If she comes up to periscope depth, she might be able to spot her child. But chances are, no one will be able to spot her.

In a way, it's too bad we found Brandon's mom.

William would love to have a big brother.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

moments of brilliance

So why hasn't anyone told me that Pull-Ups are great?

Oh, you have??

WHY wasn't I paying attention?!

Yesterday, after putting our area rugs back down and putting the triplets in Pull Ups, all the while trying to find the good in having our children in diapers indefinitely, Elizabeth came strolling up to me with her little potty receptacle full of something that looked like ...

I had to rub my eyes and give a closer inspection...

Why, it was a puddle IN the potty!!!

BRILLIANT!! Pull Ups are underwear diapers!!

Kids can pull them up and down and if they aren't yet ready or if they have an accident, it's not on your FLOOR. Or your RUG. Or, inside your Weeble Wobble Tree House.

Here I was thinking that the reason these things were so neato is because they came in larger sizes and couldn't be whipped off so easily by the occupant.

Later in the day, she did it again. And again. AND AGAIN!!!

But today, not once.

I think today she realizes that her underwear are also a diaper.

So what?!

She knows that she can pull them up and down and practice to her heart's content.

And I, do not have to wash 30 pairs of underwear a day!!

And, our area rugs are in no danger of being destroyed!!

William and Elizabeth also had a stroke of genius yesterday when they discovered a loop-hole in the rule "Thy shalt not hit thy brother and sister."

While I was making lunch, I watched William smack Elizabeth with his Big Bird stuffed animal. He quickly looked over at me and when he saw that I was watching ... reprimanded Big Bird by saying "Big Bird!! No HITTING Ewizabedh!! You in TIME OUT!!"

He marched Big Bird over and stood him in the corner. After a couple seconds passed, he kissed Big Bird and told him to go apologize to Elizabeth.

While Big Bird was trying to make his apology, Elizabeth smacked William in the side of his head with her Elmo and then yelled "Elmo!! No HITTING Villyum!! You in TIME OUT!!"

I'm surrounded by brilliance.

Now, all I need is for someone to invent a spray on sunscreen.

I wasn't expecting such an outpouring of support with my last post ... you guys are much too kind.

And to think, I had considered writing a post that simply said if I ever went over to the home of my boss and scribbled on his Ethan Allen dining room table with a sharpie, pooped inside his Weeble Wobble Tree House, tried to flush his car keys down the toilet, shoved mozzarella cheese sticks inside his hot VCR, repeatedly stuck blueberries up my nose that he had to fetch out, pulled every leaf off of every plant in his house and yard, popped keys off of his laptop, dumped five pound bags of rice on his kitchen floor, pulled a full pitcher of lemonade off his counter and hung on his pant legs whining while my two co-workers were trying to feed his dog Legos and then decided that instead, they'd like to eat the dog's food ... I wouldn't be at all surprised if he lost his patience.

Especially if I did something similar the next day. And the next.

And then, I asked for a BIG raise.

Because in addition to being a real chore, I'm extremely expensive.

But I'm worth every dime. Because I'm cute. And, brilliant.

Monday, September 17, 2007

doing what's right

This morning started off like every other morning for the past nine days here at PTBC central. Once the children were up, I got them dressed in their underwear and pointed out where their potty chairs were neatly lined up against the wall before handing them their sippy cups full of Vitamin D fortified orange juice.

I then stepped in to the girls' room - which is located immediately next to our family room, where the children were playing - to make their bed. I could hear the children happily playing with their toy birthday cake and Weeble-Wobble Tree House.

And then, there was a moment of silence.

Around here, when the children are awake ... silence is never golden.

I quickly threw the pillows on the bed and was making my way back in to the family room when I heard someone exclaim "Wow!! Dat's a HUGE poo-poo!!"

Hoping against all hope that the poo-poo would be in the potty chair receptacle, I was only slightly dismayed that what was indeed a HUGE poo-poo, was all over the floor.

And inside the Weeble-Wobble Tree House.

And one of my helpful children, had grabbed a piece of cake from the all fabric birthday cake, and tried to "wipe" it up.

Suddenly, it dawned on me. These kids aren't ready yet. Or if they are, I'm not ready.

I'm not ready to keep cleaning up piles and puddles while they stand smiling before me with dirty hands ... not showing the slightest bit of interest in getting that pile or puddle in the pot.

I am ready, however, to put them in some kind of Pull-Up diaper that they can't just whip off like they do with their regular Pampers. Because in the past month, they have taken a keen interest in pulling the tabs on their diapers to complete a visual inspection of whatever contents are inside.

Since they are able to access their diapers so easily, I'm also ready to dress them in clothing that they, themselves, cannot remove without mechanical equipment and a full grasp of the English language.

Which would be necessary if they wanted to understand how to operate a hacksaw.

After a whole week of intensive potty training (minus wearing diapers when we go out to the park or store), I am now ready to throw in the towel. So less than 10 days in to PTBC ... as of 0800 hours, this morning ... I am now a PTBC-DO.

That would be "Potty Training Boot Camp Drop Out."

We'll revisit potty training again in a month or two. Until then, the all white potty chairs and character underwear are going to be temporarily retired.

Let's see. What else is new?

This morning I received a comment from someone, in regards to a blog posting I made back in February wherein I confessed that sometimes, I crack like an egg. The anonymous commenter wrote "Shame on you for not having the same control that you require of your children."

Indeed. Shame on me.

In this world of parenting, there are a lot of things that I could be ashamed of.

Shame on me for going through in-vitro fertilization and transferring six embryos.

Shame on me for not having "selective reduction" and hence a healthier, longer pregnancy when I found out I was expecting triplets.

Shame on me for not bringing in help when our triplets were babies and I thought I could do it all myself.

Shame on me for not getting a babysitter and going out on a date with my husband.

Shame on me for not allowing relatives to take our children away on an overnight visit.

Shame on me for going back to work.

Shame on me for not buying a bigger house where our children would have more space to run around.

Shame on me for giving our kids hot dogs for dinner last night and strawberries that weren't organic.

Shame on me for allowing our children to watch television while I cook dinner or need TEN MINUTES to get ready for an outing.

Shame on me for not using birth control, after never believing I could get pregnant without intervention, and having a baby that was completely unplanned.

Shame on me for putting Henry down in his crib today, after he'd been awake for three hours and kept falling a kept falling asleep while nursing, and listening to him cry for a solid 10 minutes.

Shame on me for picking him up and letting him fall asleep in my arms.

Shame on me for planning that very soon, I am going to "sleep train" Henry and that will probably involve listening to him SCREAM until he learns to self-soothe.

Shame on me for doing that same exact thing to our triplets.

Shame on me for giving up too easily on potty training.

Shame on me for getting SO frustrated with our toddlers, that I've wanted to wrap my hands around their necks and squeeze ... just for a second or two. Or ten. But no more than sixty.

Shame on me that once in a blue moon, I spank my children.

Shame on me that I don't spank them more often.

Shame on me that as a breastfeeding mother, I drink a beer every night. Or a glass of wine. Even though I've seen conflicting articles on whether or not it is harmful to the baby.

Shame on me that at some point, at least once a week, I feel my patience start to wane and I raise my voice.

Shame on me that instead of doing a load of laundry and cleaning up the toy room, I'm sitting here, updating my blog.

Shame on me that not all mornings, I get up before the children and am prepared for the day ahead. Instead, I lay in bed until the last possible minute.

Shame on me that I have stopped going to church because every time I go - our children get sick.

Shame on me that despite my imperfections, over population, global warming, the cost of college tuition, a small house and a van that is filled to capacity with car seats, I might have another baby.

Shame on me that I admit I am not perfect on my blog.

Being a good parent is the hardest job on the planet. I look at our children - once tiny, extremely vulnerable and helpless premature infants that are quickly growing in to their own. And I know that I am the first and the most important teacher that they will ever have.

That's a lot of pressure.

Although I may share in the glory of their successes (like when they were sleeping through the night as infants) ... I also look at their failures and wonder, "What could or should I have done differently?"

I'll be the first to admit that when I am refreshed and feeling good, I am much more capable of handling a child that bites their sibling, steals a toy, throws a plate of spaghetti off the table, or poops on a toy ... then when I am tired and depleted.

Even Jo Frost, the Super Nanny, I would be willing to wager has her moments of weakness. I'll bet that if they had a hidden camera set up that was taping twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, threehundredandsixtyfivedaysayear with a house full of children, you might hear her raise her voice. Maybe once. Maybe twice.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if she also doled out a smack on the bum for a child that was dead set on destroying things. Or, running away while in a park.

For the large part, our children are very well behaved and obedient.

AND - this is the most important thing - they are happy and well loved.

But they have their moments - just like me.

Although some people might be shamed in to believing that "losing your cool" is completely unacceptable ... I know that it is par for the course as a human being. And it happens a lot more when that human being becomes a parent.

Never once have I not tried to learn from my mistakes.

But I will also not beat myself up over them.

And I won't let someone else try to do it, either.

I am doing the absolute best job I can and some days, I do a whole lot better than others.

By and large, I am extremely proud of how well we are raising our children while keeping our marriage and sanity intact. I am also extremely proud that although I really would have liked to, I didn't start drinking at 8 AM, this morning.

With a Weeble-Wobble Tree House full of poop, I think there are very few people who would refuse a bottle that is smiling at them.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

a new strategy

Shrek and donkey have been pooped on. Several times.

Princess has been soaked.

Nemo and Dory were abandoned in the garden.

So much for the character underwear.

I've tried to dress the children in only a t-shirt and their new underwear to make accessing the potty that much easier, but it's turning in to a free-for-all over here.

Kids are running around naked, and I'm seriously afraid of what is going to happen to our couch.

Although not consistently, the girls certainly seem to be getting this whole potty-training thing a lot better and faster than the boy. I've heard that girls train faster than boys - but William is so darn smart, I thought for sure he'd be leading the charge.

I mean, while we were at the zoo today, Charlie and I were looking at one of the less popular animals and couldn't remember the name when William pipes in "Dat's a Malayan TAPIR!"

Seriously. When it comes to animals, this kid is Tonight Show material.

Yet when I gently remind our zoological prodigy, as I see him start doing "the dance", that he needs to go poo-poo in the potty ... he'll snap "ME NO GO POO-POO in the POTTY. I GO POO-POO ON DA GWOUND!!"

Yeah. Like a Malayan Tapir.

I have really wanted to avoid rewarding the children with sweets during this whole potty training endeavor ... but tomorrow, I'm going to go buy chocolate.

Lots and lots of chocolate.

(And a plastic cover for our couch.)

If that doesn't work, I'm going to take Cesar Millan's advice and spread newspaper on the floor and make them sleep in a crate.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

potty training boot camp

Potty training boot camp (PTBC) started last weekend.

We went cold-turkey on diapers. Essentially, putting them completely away except for when the children took a nap or went to bed for the night.

Very soon - pretty much immediately - we could see that potty training our trio, with the possible exception of Elizabeth, was going to be no easy task. I suspected that there were going to be problems when after pumping fluids in to them for an entire morning ... they would throw a fit if I so much as suggested they sit down on the potty for a few minutes.

There have been a load (no pun intended) of people tell me that they had their child potty trained over the course of a weekend. Other people have told me that one day, their little child no longer wanted to wear diapers - and that was that.

Since potty training wasn't entirely successful during the time my mother was here, and since none of our children have come out and told me that they are ready to bid farewell to their diapers ... I thought I'd give it a little more time.

Because I've heard that (most) children will embrace potty training at around three years old (which we almost are), I had really high expectations that our trio would be through with diapers - once we went cold turkey - in a matter of hours. That was before I fully understood the attachment that our children have to their Pampers.

Although there was once a time that our children's digestive systems were totally synchronized and they would all have dirty diapers at about the same time every day - in the past year, that synchronization has gone the way of the Dodo bird.

It always seems to happen that someone will have a dirty diaper during our morning walk to the park. And then, I would just be ready to load them in to the car and drive somewhere, when I would notice that someone else had a dirty diaper. And then, just as soon as I'd put them to bed for the night someone else would need to be changed. So instead of having three dirty diapers once a day - it seems like they are scattered throughout the day.

I am constantly changing diapers.


However, since we've started PTBC, all three of them will go at precisely the same time. Because, as it turns out, they're holding on until I put them in a diaper for bed. And then, they have the audacity to lie about it.

When I ask them "Did you go poo-poo in your diaper?" They'll shake their head vehemently and point to everyone else in the room. They'll thoroughly deny that they dirtied their diaper, even though visible fumes are emanating from their back side. These children are oh, so smart. They might have some people fooled in to believing that they are totally naive, but NOT ME.

They know darn well when they need to go, when they are going, and where they went.

As for yours truly, ever since PTBC has begun, it's a guessing game once I see dripping underwear to figure out where and when they went. Usually, I find the spot once I start slipping across the floor. It's a darn good thing we no longer have carpeting because I would have ditched this whole potty training effort the day it began.

But I am steadfast and determined.

Which is another way of saying
stupidly stubborn.

Yesterday, while Charlie was at home sick in bed battling a fierce head cold, I loaded up all four children and took them to out. The purpose of the outing was to purchase a third, matching potty chair ... because although we had three potty chairs ... they weren't all exactly the same ... and unbeknownest to me it is impossible to sit on a chair that is not completely white with a little bear on the front.

I also purchased a much smaller, completely white potty chair with a little bear on the front, to put in our car so I would always have one available.

Assuming we ever get to that point where our children go in a potty.

We then headed over to another store where I purchased $56.00 worth of character underwear. My logic is that if the children had some say in their underwear selection, and if they had a specific character that they like all over them, they would be less likely to get them dirty.

So, with these goals in mind, and with mounting desperation for the sake of our new hardwood floors, I took all four children shopping.

Although I remembered to grab my camera, I completely forgot to grab the straps for the safety harnesses. In case you didn't know, safety harnesses do absolutely NO good without a strap attached.

It's like trying to fly a kite without a string.

Or, being 20 feet underwater and having a scuba tank without a regulator.

But I had my camera. How's that for priorities?? Don't think for a minute I don't care about you people in blog world.

Once William picked out his Shrek underwear ... Elizabeth had her Dory & Nemo underwear ... and Carolyn had her princess underwear - they all were so, so very happy. They told me over and over and over again just how happy they were. We weren't in the house for two minutes, and they were trying to pull their new underwear up and over the clothes that they had on.

When I asked them if they would keep their new underwear clean and dry, they all nodded in agreement. Of course they would!! How could they possibly dirty their favorite character?!

That would be sacrilege!!

But apparently, it is acceptable to pee all over the floor and then deny that the puddle they are stomping around in, came from them. Or their sibling.

William repeatedly told me "No poo poo on da ogre!" So I'm guessing one of two things are going to happen. Either the kids will embrace their new potties and learn to "let go" in a parental approved location ... or, they'll hold it from the time they wake up until the time they go back to sleep.

I think the fact that I took all four of the children to two separate stores by myself to get the proper equipment, shows just how desperate I am for this to be a success. With one week of PTBC behind us, the one piece of equipment I really could have used is a pair of boots with no-slip soles for myself.