Tuesday, December 11, 2007

mental purge

If not for Henry's ability to eat while vertical - and his need for me to sit still - this blog would be non-existent. This past week has found me insanely busy and there is no end in sight.

Because of mountains of laundry.

And Christmas shopping.

And picking up the ornaments that have been scattered all over the house.

And the 200 pictures I will be sending out to friends and family of the children with Santa.

Once I take the children to see Santa.

And I write my annual Christmas letter.

One thing is for sure, unlike Clement Clarke Moore, the creatures in our house are stirring.

Especially the mice.

Charlie is coming up with new and ingenious ways to capture the rodents that are penetrating our home. He is on a killing spree. This morning he trapped a mouse under the sink and yesterday he trapped a huge rat in the garage. He also noticed that two traps were activated without snagging a long-tailed trespasser, so he has multiple traps set up - side by side - loaded with peanut butter and salami. Last night at 2 AM, he shot out of a dead sleep to tell me about some kind of shallow bowl trap that he dreamed about that will capture multiple vermin.

He's going crazy thinking about all the ways he is going to catch rats and mice.

I'm just going plain crazy.

I think that my days suddenly seem so chaotic because Henry has started eating solids. I never realized just how delicate my well-oiled schedule machine was, until I had to carve 20 minutes out twice a day to feed my baby rice cereal and some organic vegetable. Who would have guessed that adding solid food in to my baby's diet would cause the collapse of civilization?

This minor tweak to our daily regiment and my house is filled with savages.

The kids out of control behavior might have something to do with their refusal to nap. Or, I should say - they go and lay down and after an hour of tossing and turning, they will fall asleep for an hour. I've started giving them a nap every-other-day because although they might not need the downtime, I do.

More than the air I breathe, I need our children to nap.

The advantage of no napping during the day is that when we put them to bed at 7:00 PM, they are asleep within 5 minutes. As opposed to putting them in bed at 7:00 PM and they are completely wired until almost 10:00 PM. Some people might suggest giving up the nap altogether and question if the two hour break in the afternoon is really that important to me.

To those people I say why yes.

Yes, it is.

And then there is potty training.

My mother tells me that I can't get discouraged with William. But seriously, I put him in FIFTEEN pairs of cotton underwear yesterday, not all at the same time - although I probably should have.

I know he knows how to go. He's done it before. Yesterday, I tried to be upbeat and positive when he would stand in front of me and say "Mommy!! Look!! I go pee-pee on your sock!!" but after he sprung numerous leaks in various parts of the house, I was ready to wring his neck with the soggy underwear.

Speaking of William. Not sure what to do with the lad. He is incredibly bright but he is also hell on wheels. Our pediatrician tells me that he is advanced for his age. His language skills far surpass those of his sisters and I swear he's verging on the ability to read.

But he's become aggressive. Really aggressive. Yelling and screaming and hitting. Most of the time, I can tell that his behavior is provoked. He will be playing with something and someone will want it. Or, his sisters will continually pester him when he is trying to focus. Then, he'll explode like dynamite.

I'm trying to teach him that he needs to relax and not yell when he gets angry. Sometimes, I can see myself intervening and I think "Wow, great way to handle that situation, Jen!!" and then there are those times where his behavior infuriates me to the point that I'm ready to toss him through a window.

Yesterday at the park, he karate chopped a 20-month old because the little boy made the mistake of toddling too close to him. It's bad enough when he behaves poorly with his own siblings, it's something altogether different when he acts that way with a non-family member.

What I wanted to do was pick him up by his arms and throw him in the car. What I did was have him apologize before putting him in time-out for three minutes. And then, we left. That time out was more for me than it was for him. While he stood in the corner, I was taking deep breaths and repeating "You love your son. You stood vigil by his side in the NICU. Don't kill him."

This crazy behavior isn't just limited to the boy.

One night last week once the kids were in bed, I heard Elizabeth scream. When I ran in to the girls' room, Carolyn was kneeling on top of her, with her thumbs jammed in to her sister's eyes. Just a little bit more pressure and I'm convinced they would have popped clean out.

I pray that this psychosis is just a function of their age and that they outgrow it soon. Maybe these are primitive survival tactics they are exercising because they certainly aren't learning this stuff from any PBS television shows they are watching or stories that I'm reading to them. Unless there is some hidden martial arts message that I'm missing in "Green Eggs and Ham."

With three at three, it's like a mutiny all day, every day over here.

I have said "Let's go wash our hands" one million times if I've said it once. The same applies to "Don't hit your sibling. Play nicely. Eat your lunch. Drink your milk. Don't throw food. Leave on your clothes." They hear perfectly fine, but they don't listen. But oh, are they smart. They'll tell me something that happened three months ago like it was yesterday.

Thankfully, they do have their endearing moments. Like when they are asleep. Although, they just woke up. So now I've got to get ready for round two.

Ding! Ding!


  1. Ok, I can't help but laugh reading this!! What has happened to our perfect little children!! I was going to write a post earlier titled "When exactly is it supposed to get easier"??? We are on a stinking nap strike here too!! I just all of a sudden happened last week and I feel like my world is crashing down!! For MAJOR mental health purposes I still need that time to myself. Even if they are in their room, if they are still awake...I can't relax. KWIM!!
    The girls are also gearing up for the WWF!! They have never attacked each other so much, wrestling around like crazy kids. I have got to find more for them to do!! :)
    Hey, I'd love to exchange christmas cards, if you are interested shoot me an email and we can exchange addresses.

  2. Jeez! Sounds like the day I had a preschool today. There is a boy there who acts just like you described. I think all that togetherness and sharing is too much for kids that age to handle at times. I feel like blowing up after a long day at school too.

  3. For a little help with the mice/rats problem if you put peppermint oil in the ares you are finding them, that usually keeps them away. Apparently it is a trick cleaning ladies use. It worked for us when we had a mice problem.

  4. I love that you said you would like to consider tossing him out the window... I use that expression daily much to my mothers disbelief. It makes me feel better just saying it when I am annoyed at something my daughter is doing. The only trouble was the other day when she returned... "okay, Mommy throw me out the window"... I stalled for a minute then opened the sliding glass door and said "OUT!"... She was very surpised as she stepped out into the pooring down rain on our little tiny porch. However it worked wonders for the rest of the day she didn't push any more buttons. The only trouble with it was having to change ANOTHER outfit. I understand the potty training wars very well since were are in the middle of them at my house.

  5. Okay, you just gave me a much needed laugh! And a "I'm not alone!". Thanks so much!!

    As I've said before, your life is a bit like mine, but minus a toddler. So I can almost relate to alot of what you say. And oh the potty training. Don't you feel like you are just stuck in it forever? Someday tho!! Someday they will be trained!

  6. You need potty training rewards. The treats and audio acknowledgements were power incentives to fully potty train our son. Here is the website www.pottytrainingrewards.com

  7. Have you tried letting them read books (or something quiet) in bed for the hour at naptime, and then getting them up before they fall asleep? Then you'd get at least an hour break during the day, plus they'd go to sleep fast.

  8. Have you thought about just waiting with William and keeping him in Pullups awhile longer? He sounds like he's just not ready yet. We went through this too. Give yourself a huge break and try again in three months, maybe?


  9. Life is so crazy at the holidays! EEEKKKK! In reference to naptime...I too would suggest the whole book thing. If you get them trained that its time to read and look at books by themselves they might be able to keep themselves "entertained" while you get the downtime you need. It might be a lot of work at the beginning but it would be worth it. My sister had my nephew doing downtime like that after one day when he refused to nap and decided to pull everything out of every nook and cranny in his room. The straw that broke the camel's back was when he found thumb tacks (which she didn't even realize or know were in the closet...or maybe didn't think the topshelf was accessible to him) and scattered them around the room...later that day after everything was cleaned up my brother in law turned the ceiling fan on and was tacked in the forehead! There was only downtime from that day on and naps only when necessary.

    In reference to your pest problem...There is a thing that you can plug into the wall that creates a buzzing sound (you wouldn't even really notice it) that drives the mice crazy. They can't stand it so much that they refuse to return. We had a little pest problem last year and bought some and haven't had it since. We paid about $10 each for them. It was well worth the investment.

    Hopefully, the craziness gets a little better!


  10. Since we are professional field mice catchers, we know the trick! It's those plastic little mouse traps that you buy at Home Depot, stuffed with Velveeta cheese...yes, we have that processed Velveeta yuck stuff on stock because not only do our neighborhood mice enjoy it, but my hubby does too! It catches a mouse in my van everytime! One night, it caught 7 in a row in our garage. Snap.snap.snap...I love it!

  11. I swear I laugh so hard when I read your blog. You could go back one year ago and read almost the same passages on my blog. Remember when I diagnosed Amanda with Oppositional Defiance Disorder? I should have diagnosed her as a three year old BRAT! I am sooooooooooo incredibly happy to be a year ahead of you. YOU HAVE NO IDEA!!!!

    Okay, keep your game face on, Jen. You've got like 10 months to go. In 10 months, your kids will be lovely like mine, and I'll still have feces brown carpeting and you'll still have hardwood floors and WHO WILL BE LAUGHING THEN?

  12. "Don't hit your sibling. Play nicely. Eat your lunch. Drink your milk. Don't throw food. Leave on your clothes." Love and Logic for Early childhood (by the Fays)could totally help you with all of these. They help you talk through enforceable statements instead of feeling like you are constantly repeating yourself.

    We had some WWF here today,too. I am glad you said your girls do it to, or I would just think it is all the testosterone.

  13. there's no reason you have to expect all three to be trained at the same time. maybe giving yourself a breather with your triplet sons potty training would help alleviate the stress of the other big change in regard to their nap schedule. my trips. gbb turned four in september and are just now fully trained. one of my boys trained at 3 and a half and my other son and daughter were closer to four. you also have the big change in your schedule with your baby's eating.
    even the slightest reversion to something that will make your day easier will go a long way in a long day!

  14. I discovered a few years ago that three times two and three times three do NOT equal 6 or 9 - it equals insanity. Fast forward to 4 and you'll hit mathematical order of things again, honest!

    As for the rodent problem - 2 words - house cat. I had A mouse 4 yrs ago. Next day Cocoa came to live with us - and we are not cat people at all. But we are even less mouse people. I have since to have any inside rodents. Although Cocoa has brought a few outside up to the porch to brag.

    Just a thought.

  15. Love your blog - seriously entertaining.

    My dad used to leave little coke bottle caps full of Coke where the mice would be able to drink them. He said their stomachs couldn't handle the carbonation and it would take care of things. As far as I know it worked. Good luck!

  16. When we had mice in our garage, my father recommended baiting the traps with Payday candy bar pieces (peanuts and nougat covered in caramel) and then extra peanut butter on top. The peanut butter lures them in, but the Payday sticks to the trap because of the caramel, so the mouse/rat has to pull in order to try and get it, and - SNAP! - dead rodent.

    Once, when the mice got too smart, Dad superglued the peanuts to the trap. THAT was the end of those mice.

    My kids are almost 4 and 28 months, and the fights they get into are almost reaching ultimate fighting level. My daughter has size and weight on her side, being older, but my son is a scrappy, no-holds-barred fighter, and he bites. It has been a bad combination. Fortunately, he still naps even when she skips a nap, so they are at least separated for a time.

    I believe that they will outgrow this. At least, I pray fervently on my knees daily that they do.

  17. Just wait until you're using expressions like, "Your brother's penis IS. NOT. A. TOY."



  18. Love your honesty!!! My six month old just started solids a few weeks ago and it completely wrecked any bit of schedule we had going (and I only have two). We are in more of a groove now, so hopefully the same will happen to you as well!

  19. I agree with the books in their room for an hour of "quiet time". I got a kitchen buzzer and put it in my twins room and set it for one hour and they could not get up until it went off. It wasn't perfect...sometimes I could hear them being rowdy, etc...but it was a LOT better than nothing!!! I stopped naps for the same reason you are describing...when they napped, bedtime was a disaster. I opted to give up the nap to preserve their 7:00 bedtime because I am DONE by 7:00 and had no patience for their nighttime antics.
    My SIL once told me that ages 5 to 13 are ridiculously easy. My twins just turned 5 and I agree...so there is a light at the end of the tunnel! My only problem is I also have a 6 month old so I am basically starting over the countdown to 5 with her!!!
    As far as the mice/rats I have no idea. My husbands entire family lives in San Diego and they all deal with them as well. We don't have mice/rats here in Houston...just big, fat cockroaches. UGH!

  20. I agree with the books in their room for an hour of "quiet time". I got a kitchen buzzer and put it in my twins room and set it for one hour and they could not get up until it went off. It wasn't perfect...sometimes I could hear them being rowdy, etc...but it was a LOT better than nothing!!! I stopped naps for the same reason you are describing...when they napped, bedtime was a disaster. I opted to give up the nap to preserve their 7:00 bedtime because I am DONE by 7:00 and had no patience for their nighttime antics.
    My SIL once told me that ages 5 to 13 are ridiculously easy. My twins just turned 5 and I agree...so there is a light at the end of the tunnel! My only problem is I also have a 6 month old so I am basically starting over the countdown to 5 with her!!!
    As far as the mice/rats I have no idea. My husbands entire family lives in San Diego and they all deal with them as well. We don't have mice/rats here in Houston...just big, fat cockroaches. UGH!

  21. Oh no - boo to the rodents!

    I think that potty training three year old boys is akin to solving world hunger. I'm surprised all boys don't have diapers or accidents until at least college.

  22. I just love it that you are writing what we are all thinking when our kids behave that way...I sometimes get "reprimanded" by others (my mom) for "saying things like that" but its not like I do those things, at least not most of the time :)

    Hope they start behaving and that William catches on to PT soon.

  23. hang in there, kiddo. the idea of quiet time with a timer might be the best suggestion yet.

    that way they know they are "locked up" for an hour or so ... and they will get to bed earlier too!

  24. One of many cuzzins!12/12/07, 5:16 PM

    Hi Jenny...er, Jenna!

    My son, now 16, was 3.3 when he was totally potty trained. I started him the summer he turned 2 and it was a constant struggle. We tried lotsa crazy gimmicks to peak his interest in the art of big boy urination...Like, aim for the Cheerios bullseye, spray the M&M's and see them swim like fishies, what zoo animal does your floating (or sinking) poo-poo resemble?... He didn't care...he was content wetting & pooping in his pants. Those thermal type training underpants were the best. He felt the uncomfortable wetness against his skin, but I was not inconvenienced by pee puddles on the floor.

    One day we were at my sister Peggy's and my 3 yr old son was wiggling. I asked his cousin, then about 12 yrs old, to take him up to the bathroom. After about 5 minutes my pre-schooler came bolting down the stairs announcing with utmost glee that he went potty. I couldn't believe it! Well, it seems his cousin gave him a full demonstration. They stood in tandem and took a bonding squirt. Together. At the same time. That was it! So, what you need is a 10-12 year old boy, preferably someone you know, to take William into the bathroom to relieve themselves together. Simultaneously. Hey...whatever works! To this day, he has not had an accident...well, not to my knowledge anyway!

    William will get it sooner or later. Don't get discouraged and try not to make him feel bad. Eventually, he will realize that it just isn't cool to pee on himself!

    Payback is a bitch...you have all these entries to wave in William's face when he is a teenager. All this fun information about him that you have revealed on the world wide web. Infact, as soon as I post this, I shall summon Andrew to come read your blog! Hello son!

    Merry, merry....
    Ho, ho, ho!!

  25. Have you thought about going and sitting in the room with the kids and have them rest on mats while you read? that is what they do at Montasorrey sp.
    It works great and they do rest for 30-45 minutes.
    I like the idea of you getting a ----CAT?

  26. Hey. I have three boys as you know and ALL three of them were potty trained the summer after thier 3rd birthday's. My wonderful pediatrician told me what to expect and he was right!! Remember the SUMMER AFTER his 3rd birthday.

    Next year this will all pass. Let me assure you -- my 18 year old can now go potty all by himself!! And everyone knows how protective I have been w/him! (by the way the other 2 are doing fine too)!

    It's tough for these little guys; they have to stand for this and sit for that!! A lot to remember when your only 3!

    Love ya'll and have a wonderful blessed Christmas! Marg

  27. PS By the way...they are working against you! It's not in your head - the three 'darlings' plus Henry! yep, little cutie pie is in on the WHOLE THING! (hate to tell ya but even the mice and bugs are in on it too!)

    I've been told it doesn't end until they are 40+. Good luck w/that one. I'm sure that's helpful ;-) Love, Marg

  28. I responded over on my blog to your question (in the comments) but on the heels of this post wanted you to know the reason I video taped it was because they are not generally that nice to each other.

    I do think all the togetherness is rough though. Have you tried making them play seperately for 45 minutes or so a day? It seems to help "reset" things around here. (temporarily anyway)

  29. Hey Jen,

    I've still been keeping up with your crazy life and you still continue to crack me up.

    I just posted (finally) about how all of the sudden the boys are doing so well with potty training. I think it's something that just comes when they want it to come. I haven't pressured them at all, but I've consistently bribed them. Sometimes they want the tootsie roll bad enough and sometimes they don't. I let them choose. It does help seeing the other boys and girls at their mother's day out going on the potty.

    Naps are precious around here. I have to lay in their room until they fall asleep. I usually get a 30 minute catnap in while waiting. I use my stern voice and no one is allowed to get out of bed, read, play ... NOTHING. It's nigh-nigh time only! I usually have to raise my voice only once and they just know!

    Anyway, I hope the mice get outta there quickly. BTW we have a lot of WWF around here too! I think that's just normal 3 year old behavior!

  30. Gawd. I hear you with the solids thing - totally screws up my day too, and only have one toddler and one baby! I have to remember to feed her solids too, as I am just so used to feeding her myself I forget she is getting bigger!

    As for the behaviour - you have made me very, very afraid. I wasn't liking the Twos - please tell me the Threes are better?!!! My son is angelic towards his baby sister, but take him to playgroup and he takes out all his (apparent) angst on the poor babies there. He says sorry, but I don't think he actually *means* it, it's just something to say. Help!!