Wednesday, July 29, 2009

we made it

The total flying time from San Diego to Atlanta was just shy of four hours. Still, our total time of travel, from doorstep to doorstep, has taken over 12.

Oh, how I wish I could write about all that has happened today - and post pictures to go with the story - but it's late and I'd wake up my sleeping family if I turned on lights looking for my camera and cables. So the pictures will have to wait until later.

For now, I want to convey that the toughest part of our day was walking around for over an hour in the massively huge Atlanta airport ... with four small children and 12 pieces of luggage ... while trying to find out where the rental car counter was.

And then, spending another hour, in gale force winds and a torrential downpour, finding our van - realizing that two of the three rented carseats were installed improperly - and the third carseat was missing an entire strap. So, we'd need a new carseat and the replacement process would take 30 minutes.

As as we were waiting for the carseat to be ready, the car rental representative pointed out that the weather is rather treacherous and if the car feels like it is being blown off the road by wind, we should seek immediate shelter beneath an underpass, get out of the vehicle and run to the lowest lying ditch that we can find. Then, she demonstrated how we should lay flat as a pancake and cover up our head with our arms.

As we were leaving, she sweetly added, "Welcome to Georgia, Y'all! Thank you for choosing Hertz!"

By now, all of our travelers were hungry. But the mere sight of pretzels that everyone had been eagerly snacking on earlier, which are now the only food that we had remaining (along with one pulverized banana and a bag of M&Ms), caused a tremendous amount of crying. So we fed everyone M&Ms. And then drove to the nearest McDonald's and loaded the kids up on french fries and milk shakes. And then we had to stop for two separate potty breaks.

It took us a longer amount of time to get out of the Atlanta airport and drive to South Carolina, then it took us to fly from California to Georgia. Henry screamed from the backseat for the last hour of a three-hour drive. And because I was unable to safely focus on my driving, I had Charlie hook me up with an iPod and headphones. So while I jammed out to Cold Play, my family heard "WAH Hold You!" (translation, Hold Me!) on repeat for a solid 60 minutes.

It might seem cold to drive while your child is in hysterics in the backseat. But I knew that if we stopped ... we'd ... NEVER ... get ... there. So we drove and drove.

We no sooner walked in the door, when Henry, ripped off his clothes and ran around looking for a potty. I took him in to the bathroom and perched him high on the toilet, but something didn't feel right for our little guy. So while I forgot for a moment that I had a child who was in the midst of potty training, and turned to greet my mother and Jim, Henry slipped off the toilet and climbed in to the bathtub where he had a gargantuan poop.

Everyone, including Henry most of all, cheered.

All told, this has been an awesome day. Everyone is healthy. Everyone is safe. And Henry didn't unload on the white berber carpet.

We couldn't be any happier.

(Hopefully, this post is coherent. I think I fell asleep midway through writing it.)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

preparing for the invasion

I am typing this post at 1:30 AM, when I should be in bed doing this...

By the time it publishes, we (hopefully) will be safely aboard our direct flight en route to Atlanta, Georgia. After our situation last year of getting trapped in Dallas-Fort Worth for the night, I've decided that from this point on, so long as I am traveling with small children, direct flights are the only to go. Even if it means that once you arrive, you need to rent a car and drive two plus hours to your final destination because direct flights from San Diego to Greenville-Spartanburg are ... how shall we say, nonexistent.

Even though tomorrow - or rather today, will be a busy one of travel, I'm having a very difficult time sleeping because my mind is filled with thoughts of Jack and Deana.

I am so sad to think that a woman in the prime of her life was struck down by the ruthless disease that is cancer. It will haunt me forever that those two little boys have lost the mother who went through so much to have them. I hope that they will grow up knowing how much she loved them and how much she wanted to stay.

I just wish... I just wish she were still here and cancer was a disease that could be easily treated with a dose of something that is served up in a cookie.

I'm hopeful that one day.

One day, we will cure it.

Because we are leaving tomorrow on vacation, I spent the latter half of the day cleaning.

At the moment, and for the first time since the LAST time we went on vacation, the house is totally picked up and everything is done. The floors are mopped, the area rugs are vacuumed, all of the furniture is dusted and our plants are sitting in the sink with a small amount of water, to keep them sufficiently hydrated for the time we are away.

All of the bills have been paid. A stop has been placed on our mail. The water heater has been turned down. The refrigerator has been emptied of perishable items. And the water to the ice maker on our refrigerator has been turned off. Neighbors have been informed we'll be out of town and have been asked to keep a look out for our house.

A total of twelve bags have been packed. All of these bags we intend to bring ON THE PLANE with us tomorrow because the thought of paying $240.00, on top of the $400.00 plane tickets, to check our bags is absolutely ludicrous. We'll also be bringing one carseat on the plane and a stroller - that we will check at the gate. Charlie printed out our boarding passes tonight, and all six of us, will be in a single row from 27A through 27F.

Chances are, there will be a lot of bananas and Teddy Grahams consumed during the flight. Possibly peanuts and a whole bunch of pretzels. If things go awry, I plan to toss handfuls of M&Ms and chewable Benadryl in the air.

In Atlanta, we'll be renting a twelve (12!!) passenger van that will be equipped with three rented booster seats for the triplets because why drag three carseats cross-country when you can rent them? The big van is to accommodate my mom and Jim - and the rest of their homeowner's association - if any of them should care to join us for a trip to the beach, or mountains, or grocery store ... next week.

Once in Greenville, South Carolina - we will be settling in with my mother and Jim in their two bedroom, two bathroom condominium. Now before you go thinking that things will be tight, I'd like to interject a quick story.

When I was in high school, I was actively involved in Amnesty International through our church. One evening, during my sophomore year, a woman from our church called my mother and told her that through Amnesty International, there was a young woman who lived in China that was coming to the United States as a refugee. This was a few years before the massacre at Tienanmen Square, but tensions were on the rise and both of her parents had recently been assassinated.

When my mother hesitated that she didn't know whether or not we would have room for another person in our small home, the woman from the church kindly said, "Oh Mary, you have so much love in your heart. Surely you can find space for this young girl."

That is how Yen came to live with us. And how I came to sleep on the floor. Which I'll probably be doing tomorrow night. Just like old times.

In reality: I don't care where I'll be sleeping. It's been almost a year since we have seen Noni and Jimbo and I've never been so excited to get home. Only one noodle left to go!!

Posting may be light for a while, or completely absent. I'm really not quite sure what kind of computer access I will have while I'm away. So until we meet again, be good. Be safe. And as Jack says, hug your loved ones for no reason at all.

And maybe say a prayer that our trip going and coming will be perfectly safe and blissfully uneventful with children that sleep the whole way so I can take a nap after having only slept six four hours the night before we left.

I might have to start drinking coffee.

By the gallon.

Monday, July 27, 2009

our sweet deana

I received an e-mail update from Jack Reynolds today, that his beautiful wife Deana, passed away earlier this afternoon. Although I have always held hope that Deana would make a miraculous recovery, the past few updates that Jack had posted on their CaringBridge website, made me realize that the complications associated with Deana's cancer, were terminal.

It might sound odd, but my first reaction when I read Jack's words were relief. The past few months have been so difficult for Deana. In addition to the unrelenting chemotherapy, she has had pneumonia three times, sepsis, and just last week, had to begin dialysis because her kidneys were shutting down. Her mouth was covered in sores. Her body ached.

Today, initially, there was was relief that she is no longer suffering.

But now, there is sadness.

Terrible sadness.

It was less than a year ago that Deana was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. It was less than a year ago that she was put in a hospital and told that she had a 90% chance of survival. It was just seven months ago, that we received the most inspiring Christmas card I had ever laid my eyes on.

Ever since Deana was diagnosed with Burkitt's Lymphoma in August of 2008, her husband - her two little boys - and her parents, have remained devoted to her recovery.

They have remained devoted to her.

One of the most amazing things that I have witnessed in this past year - was the incredible love between Jack and Deana. The unwavering devotion that Jack had for his wife, was so transparent in all of his posts about her. Although doctors predicted that Deana could not be saved, Jack went to the ends of the earth trying to prove them wrong. And Deana's parents were there - every step of the way, doing whatever they could to support their daughter.

In today's post on CaringBridge, Jack shared the following lessons that he has learned in Deana's triumphant ascension to Heaven. I hope that any one who is reading this, will take Jack's lessons to heart:
1. Have blood or platelets? Donate them. There is no greater gift you can give nother human, but a chance at life.

2. Hug your family. Do it often and for no reason at all. You will all feel better.

3. Family and friends are everything. With them at your side, ALL things are possible.

4. Never, ever quit. No matter what, rise to the occassion. It's what makes life worth living.
Tonight, my heart is heavy that Deana's body is gone. My heart is heavy that Zane and Zachary will never feel their mother's loving arms around them again - that Jack will not be able to hold his beautiful bride's hand - and that Bruce and Martha will not see the light dancing in their beloved daughter's eyes.

But I find solace in the fact that Deana is no longer in pain and the knowledge that her spirit will live on. It is a well known fact that energy can neither be created nor destroyed.

Just as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow, Deana's spirit will always live on.

I love you, girl.

your vote is requested

When I first found out I was expecting triplets, I joined a "High Order Multiples" support group (i.e. triplets or more), here in San Diego. The last I heard, there were over 70 triplet (and quadruplet) families that claimed membership to The More The Merrier.

In the early days, this group was a wonderful source of support for me. But as our children have grown older, I have broken off from the larger group and formed much smaller connections with three other women who have similarly aged triplets.

I've been friends with these women for the past five years. We began getting together for play dates when our children were small babies and over the years, as our children have grown, we have developed a very good friendship and noted a lot of commonalities. For instance, aside from the fact that we all have triplets that were born within a few months of each other, all of us were married within a few months of each other, 15 years ago.

There's Jessica and her trio, plus one older brother (Jessica is gut splittingly funny).

There's Jeanmarie and her trio (Jeanmarie is totally awesome except she's a Yankee fan.)

There's Debbie and her trio (that recently returned from a year abroad in England).

And me (who is wondering what to wear to her 20-year high school reunion on Saturday.)

Between the four of us, we have 14 children aged six and under.

Here's a photo of our most recent family get together. While our husbands built bird houses...

Our children painted them ... and each other. (Thank you Auntie Beth for the smocks. Our paint party looked like the pediatric ward.)

This November, the four of us ... and hopefully other friends and triplet moms that live in San Diego that we can convince (i.e., Terrell and Heidi) ... are planning to participate in the 3 Day Breast Cancer Walk in San Diego. We'll be walking sixty miles (60) in three days. The primary purpose for completing this walk will be to raise awareness for breast cancer and money for breast cancer research. So yes - we will be reaching out to you.

And you.

And you.

With prizes such as this one-of-a-kind bird house, that will be up for auction.

(Oh come on. You know you want it!)

But before we do any of that important fundraising stuff, we need to come up with a snazzy name for our team. Charlie suggested, "Triplet Moms Have The Biggest Boobs" but this was vetoed by my group of fellow walkers because we may invite people to walk who AREN'T the mothers of triplets. Or, women, for that matter.

Besides that - and quite sadly I might add - my husband is totally delusional.

To the top left of this blog - you'll notice that I've started a poll that will end on Wednesday. Please cast a vote for what you think we should name our team ... or, leave a suggestion in the comments section on this post.

Me and "the girls" thank you for your input!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

potty training the second, fourth time around

Have I mentioned that Henry, who turned two-years-old less than a month ago, is now potty trained?

It's true.

Granted, he can't go to sleep without a diaper and if he is dressed in anything that resembles a onesie, he might have trouble. But if he is wearing clothes that he can easily pull off, he is a potty using SUPERSTAR.

Considering it took me over four years to obtain potty training success with the triplets, I am amazed at how fast my two-year-old has grasped the concept of voiding in a pot. Although I still believe that children will potty train when they are ready and not a moment before - as I'm watching Henry learn - I can't help but wonder if there was anything that I could have done differently with the triplets.

With the triplets, I think I missed out on their readiness cues, and hence, a window of opportunity. When the triplets were Henry's age, they were almost always dressed. I had so many reservations about having naked children running around. So, I would wrestle to put them in a diaper and a onesie, or thick cotton potty training underwear.

Or a costly swim diaper when they were in our own private backyard.

In hindsight, I think part of the reason toddlers are so keen on being naked is Mother Nature's way of helping nurture the potty training process. With Henry, I am much more willing to let him strip down to his birthday suit. Although I initially resisted having a naked toddler running around the house all day, I soon realized that when he was stark naked, he was consciously aware of his bodily functions.

Sure, I had to clean up the rug a few times, but very quickly, I noticed that Henry would run over and plant himself on his small potty seat. Now, whenever we are home, he is naked (by his choice) and he is consistently going both poop and pee in the potty, throughout the day.

All told, I would say that this entire process took less than a weekend to sink in. There was lots of praise. But there were no timers, no potty training books or videos, no reminders, no tears (mine or his), no flooding his little system with hydrating agents, no candy, no stickers, no rewards.

The most beautiful part of this whole experience, for me, is that whenever Henry does go in his little potty seat, his triplet siblings go crazy with excitement. Then, once Henry jumps up to see if he has left a deposit, one of his siblings will bring his potty seat in to the bathroom where they will dump the contents in to the toilet, rinse out the potty seat with water, and flush it all away while saying "BYE BYE PEE PEE!" or "BYE BYE POO POO!"

I'm hardly doing anything.

But this is my reward for struggling through potty training three children at the same time. It is my reward for chocolate syrup laced with laxatives. Enemas. And poetry.

Now that I have four children who know how to successfully use the toilet, my advice to those who are embarking on this milestone is simple: allow your child to run around naked.

And if all else fails, find a family with four-year-old triplets that your potty-trainee can understudy. (We are now accepting applications.)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

look at me, mom!

Today is a new day and I feel great.

I knew I would.

All it took was for me to jot down a few thoughts, watch "Touched By An Angel" on the Hallmark channel, take two tablespoons of cough medicine spiked with codeine, and fall sleep for the next 10 hours.

Today, Voila! I am new again.

Although watching sappy television and sleeping from sunset to sunrise certainly helped, I would also like to take a moment to thank the inventors and makers of antibiotics. For without them, I would be unable to breathe through my nose, talk without choking, and my sinus region would be under attack by tiny jackhammers.

This morning, I've been in the backyard watching our children on their swing set. This has caused me a small amount of consternation because I'm afraid they might hurt themselves and the way they flip their little bodies over the rings make it seem like they don't have bones and the laws of gravity don't apply.

Look at me! Look at me! Look at me, now!

It's fun to have fun but you have to know how!

After my three weeks of gymnastics training, I still can't do a flip on the rings.

So that's not making me feel any better.

But the children can. And they do.

It's like they are taunting me with their strength and low body weights.

Oh no. Not the baby, too!

Why can't you do this, mommy? It's so EASY!!

Yes, just like it's SO EASY to make breakfast, tie shoes and wipe your own bum?

Keep it up kids.

Keep it up and you'll be on your own.

Friday, July 24, 2009

this isn't my most upbeat post

I really hesitated posting this. Because I feel like I shouldn't admit that I'm tired. Perhaps it's the sinus infection that I'm battling and the lack of sleep I've had over the past few years days. But whatever the reason, or host of reasons, today I feel like I've been physically and emotionally hit by a freight train.

Tomorrow I will feel better.

But today, I am tired.

I'm tired of working full-time.

I'm tired of feeling like I am robbing my husband of his career.

I'm tired of feeling like we live too far away from family.

I'm tired of picking up after people

I'm tired of wondering what I'm going to cook for dinner.

I'm tired of making meals that go uneaten.

I'm tired of grocery shopping.

I'm tired of laundry.

I'm tired of waking up at 3 AM to children who wet the bed.

I'm tired of children changing their clothes 40 times a day.

I'm tired of all the missing socks.

I'm tired of all the clutter.

I'm tired of not eating better.

I'm tired of worry.

I'm tired of worrying about my mom.

I'm tired of worrying about my dad.

I'm tired of worrying about my Uncle Bill.

I'm tired of worrying about Deana.

I'm tired of worrying about money and the bills.

I'm tired of worrying about our health and the health of our planet.

I'm tired of worrying about the economy.

I'm tired of worrying about world relations.

I'm tired of worrying about saving for retirement.

I'm tired of worrying about college tuitions.

I'm tired of worrying about whether our children will go to school.

I'm tired of worrying what other people will think.

I'm tired of feeling like I could be a better friend, sister, daughter.

I'm tired of feeling like I could be a better mom.

I'm tired of feeling like I could be a better wife.

I'm tired of feeling like I could be a better human being.

I'm tired of feeling like I am not doing enough.

I'm tired of seeing and feeling my body age.

I'm tired of feeling like this blog isn't better than it is.

I'm tired of beating myself up whenever I let the children watch television.

I'm tired of trying to control things that are outside of my control.

I'm tired of not realizing when things are outside of my control.

I'm tired of children waking up for the day at 5:30 AM.

I'm tired of children that don't nap. Or nap long enough.

I'm tired of doing things, only to have the children undo them.

I'm tired of asking children to do things over and over and over again.

I'm tired of saying, "FINE THEN! I'll do it myself!"

I'm tired at my lack of patience.

I'm tired at my lack of discipline.

I'm tired of comparing myself.

I'm tired of politics - at every level - every where.

I'm tired of the bad people in the world.

I'm tired of people that seems so perky! and together!

I'm tired of feeling like I never get a break.

I'm tired of not having enough time for myself.

I'm tired of feeling like everyone needs a piece of me.

I'm tired of a toddler that wants to nurse at the most inopportune times.

I'm tired of the knowledge that I'll never have these days back again.

I'm tired that I don't live in the moment more.

I'm tired of feeling like I need to put on a happy face or I will appear ungrateful.

Tomorrow I will feel better.

But today, I am tired.

However, I am NOT tired of baking and eating a plate full of chocolate chip cookies in a single afternoon.

And that ... is a real problem.

now i lay me down to sleep

Tucking the children in to bed is by far, my favorite time of the day.

I'm sure it has something to do with seeing the light at the end of the long day tunnel and knowing that very soon, Charlie and I will have some quiet time to ourselves.

But more than that, there is something so awesome about those few minutes when I sit on the edge of the children's beds and say an evening prayer with them. I give them a sip of water, sing a song or two, talk about the days events, what exciting things we have in store for tomorrow, and listen to them sleepily jabber about life.

They are freshly bathed.

Their little teeth are brushed.

They are squeaky clean and everyone is verging on drowsy, yet they are full of anticipation for what the next day will bring.

If I've had a particularly challenging day with the children, bedtime is my opportunity to make amends and remind them how much they mean to me and how much I love them. It's their opportunity to cuddle close, stare in to my eyes, and twirl my hair around their finger, while reminding me that they will be five soon and they want a pirate cake, a princess cake and a witch cake and a jump house and and and a piƱata and a lot of presents. WITH BIG BOWS.

Bedtime is my best opportunity to sear in to memory the sweetness of this age. It is also my best opportunity to remember that nothing my children could ever do or say would alter the pure adoration I have for them.

My heart absolutely runneth over with love.

For today, for tomorrow, forever and always.

At bedtime, there is no more whining...

There is no more crying...

There is no more tattling...

There is no more moodiness...

Everything, and I mean everything, is good in our world.

I am convinced that bedtime is nothing short of magic.

Because when I step out of the children's bedroom and in to my bedroom and discover that someone has burrowed in to my makeup supply and spilled the contents all over our white bedspread; and someone snapped the wristband off of my $85.00 triathlon watch; and my point-and-shoot camera is sitting inside the silverware basket in the dishwasher, I'm hardly annoyed. If any of those things had happened at 2 PM as opposed to 8 PM, I'm certain I'd need restraints. But at bedtime, my spirit is peaceful and my heart is light.

And on the kitchen counter, there's a full glass of wine.

Just waiting.

For me.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

what's in you wednesday

It wasn't until Friday of last week, that I realized I had forgotten to write a "What's In You" post on Wednesday. What a slacker I am, I am.

So. Do you want to know what's in me?

OK, I'll tell you.

A 1/2 pan of O'Henry Bars that I consumed earlier today.

But in my defense, when Charlie came home with a jug of Karo Syrup a few weeks ago from Target, what else was I supposed to do? Just stash it in my cabinets while I wait for Thanksgiving to roll around and I can make a pecan pie?!

I've never even made a pecan pie!

This afternoon, I realized that eating a 1/2 pan of O'Henry's isn't a good thing to do. Particularly if you are going to see the doctor for what you suspect is a sinus infection and you want to combat it with heavy doses of antibiotics before you fly back to South Carolina in less than a week. Because when you go see that doctor, the fit nurse will take your temperature and your blood pressure and then will ask if you'll jump up on the scale.

And when you say, "I'd rather not!" the two nurses that were in the station will laugh at you. And then, they'll pay extra close attention as you take off your shoes. And place your keys and your cell phone in your purse. And remove your sunglasses from the top of your head. And spit out your breath mint. And take the small clip out of your hair. And remove your earrings, watch and engagement ring. And pat down your body to figure out if there is anything else that you can remove to shave off the extra ounces that might put you over the amount you weighed the last time you were in.

It turns out all of my efforts were in vain. Because today I weighed five pounds more than I did the last time I saw my doctor in March.

And in case you forgot, since March, I walked ran a marathon.

What this tells me is that I am consuming far more than I am burning off. AND, I am still nursing a child. I mean, WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN when Henry finally weans?!

I'd like to publicly announce that once I get over my sinus infection, training starts - HARD CORE - for my triathlon in October. And I will cease (or, at least consider ceasing) my weekly consumption of hot fudge sundaes.

As such, this very well may be the last picture you see of me smiling for a long, long time.

Are you happy where YOU are in your current physical state of health?

If not - what are you going to do about it and when?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

homeschool: block puzzles

For Christmas, I bought the children a simple block puzzle from Plan Toys that they absolutely love. What I love is that this puzzle keeps the children engaged because there is more than one solution. Once they find one solution to the puzzle, they challenge themselves by mixing it up and trying different configurations. For instance, if they move the black rectangular piece in to the middle of the puzzle, versus either end, or midpoints along the way - they will get a different solution, each time.

To add another component of learning, I cut out rectangular pieces of paper and have the children color with their crayons, the various solutions that they have found. At a later time, I will give them the "solutions" that they've drawn to see if they can use the "key" to solve the puzzle the same way.

Although they might think that they're just coloring, they are actually learning shapes, order, problem solving and spatial dimension. And, it's a lot of fun.

i am nothing if not totally random and easily distracted

Do you want to know what I think is really hilarious?

One night last week, when I was away during my business trip, I opened up my blog and I started this post with this exact title. I had every intention of writing it then, too. But instead, I turned on the television in my hotel room and noticed that they were playing Sixteen Candles. And well, that promptly concluded my blogging for the evening.

Since then, I've noticed this very post just sitting under my "Compose" file, but I haven't come back to it. Up until tonight, there have been other important things to write about, so this one post about how I'm so easily distracted just keeps getting shoved to the back burner. That's how it goes with me. I wish I could figure out how to do a screen shot of my "Compose" file, because you'd see that I have 20 blog posts that I've started, but have yet to finish.

Some of these posts are over three years old - and totally outdated - but I can't stand to delete them - because one day I might feel compelled to call upon the memories surrounding the dead bird that Charlie and I found in a swimming pool when the triplets were infants.

We later discovered that the dead bird was actually a Cockatoo that someone was offering a $500.00 reward to have returned. Charlie had scooped the dead bird out of the pool and thrown it in to the bushes before either of us knew that this bird was a valued pet. But once we saw the sign, my husband contemplated going back and digging the bird out of the bushes and putting it in a ziploc bag before calling the owner and telling them that he found their bird. And yes, we'd like that reward because we have three babies in diapers. Then when he returned their deceased and highly valuable cacatua alba, he'd ask, "Can you really put a price tag on closure?"

We didn't do that, of course.

And since I just relayed the contents of that post, I suppose I can delete it now.

Great! Now I'm down to 19...

Anyway. The point is. This post is intended to answer the questions that were posed to me last week during the Q&A session. And, I threw in a few other random questions that weren't posed during that post - but which I've received over the past few months.

This question came from Wendi:
Are you able to FLY with your BOB? Can you fit it through the security check in the airport? If you could let me know, I would soooo appreciate it! We have a trip to Colorado in a few weeks and I'm debating whether we can take it?
YES we are able to fly with our BOB strollers and we have, many times over!

Although the single BOB stroller can be collapsed and placed on the security belt and scanned through the x-ray machine, often times, the double BOB needs to be inspected by hand and with a wand. Either way, just roll your stroller up to the security line, unload your child (or children) and the agents will help you do the rest. Depending upon the size of the x-ray machine, you may need to take the wheels off your single stroller before putting it on the conveyor belt, but it's easy enough to do with the quick release system.

Once you roll up to the plane, just unload your child, collapse your stroller, put the claim ticket on it, and the luggage handlers will put it under the plane for you. When you land, they will take it out and have it sitting there waiting for you. Now, unless you have the Revolution, you may find that you have a difficult time getting your double stroller through the doors on the jetway. With the exception of over-sized handicap doors, we've had to remove at least one back wheel to fit through. Of course this is an inconvenience, but in my opinion, having your stroller available as soon as you step off the plane is worth ANY hassle.

Good luck and have a fun time in Colorado!

This question came from Katie:
We sold our house in NJ and we're moving out on Aug 31. You'll never guess--the two places that we can live for my husband's job are CA and MA, specifically around the San Fransico CA area or around the Concord, Sudbury MA area. Now, for the million dollar question--which one would you choose?? I have never lived in either place and they will both be new for me. We have three children 4 and under.
Wow. This is such a difficult question for me to consider, and I've lived in both places. Charlie's family predominantly lives in northern California. My family predominantly lives in New England. I love both areas. But, I haven't lived in an area where there is snow for any extended period of time since I was ten. Which HELLO, that was almost 30 years ago.

Where does the time go?!

The advantages to Northern California: It is absolutely beautiful. Darn expensive, though. You are close to wine country (this comes in useful with three children under the age of four) and you are close to the Sierra Mountains - which are spectacular if you are in to hiking, skiing or the great outdoors. If you were me, you'd also be close to my sister-in-law Kathy, who is an amazing baker and a plethora of nieces and nephews who would be recruited to babysit.

The advantages to New England: It is absolutely beautiful. Darn expensive, though. You are close to the Cape, which I love, and you are close to the quaint mountain towns throughout Vermont and New Hampshire and the beautiful Maine coastline (and the awesome LL Bean outlet). Another advantage, for me, is that I love US History and I am always enthralled how this part of the country just abounds with it. If you were me, you'd be close to my cousin Anne Marie, who is an amazing baker, and a plethora of nieces and nephews who would be recruited to babysit.

Both places offer the great outdoors.

Both places offer seasons, although they are more extreme in New England.

Both places offer an abundance of culture, good hospitals, and beautiful sights.

New England has awesome ice cream.

California has awesome wine.

According to my Uncle Bill, he would be happy anywhere that he went, so long as he had my Aunt Grace by his side. Being with the people that you love is the most important thing of all, where you are really doesn't matter. I know he's right. However, selecting the place where your family will grow up is a very tough call so I'd probably eat some ice cream, drink some wine and flip a coin.

Good luck and please let me know what you decide!

So many questions that I receive come in the form of e-mails. Please tell me again where you bought your children's hats? Would you please share more recipes with us? Are you going to keep up with your cancer fundraising, and if so - how? I've been knitting a blanket since January and still don't know how to end it. NO PRESSURE, but are there any plans to finish those knitting posts?

In short order:

We bought our children's hats at the San Diego Zoo, but you can buy them here.

Yes, I will share more recipes with you. Infact, now that Charlie will be home more, he is looking in to various creative outlets. At some point, hopefully soon, he will become a contributing author to this blog and it is his goal to post various recipes that he, himself, has concocted - or, adopted and adjusted along the way. We might start a new blog, just for him entitled, "Chez Charlie." Just ask anyone that has spent any time at our house ... my man can cook.

I'm happy to say that we will be continuing our cancer research fundraising efforts. I think I may have discovered a rather large loophole in the whole "illegality of the online raffle" thing. Stay tuned. More details are sure to follow.

One of the 19 posts that I have remaining has to do with how to cast-off. I actually filmed the video clip of me casting off and wrote out some detailed instructions, but I have yet to upload all of the photos to the post. I'll get around to it, soon. I promise.

In the meantime, I've been holding on to the baby blanket that I completed for Kim and her baby who was born earlier this year. Kim, if you are reading this, please send me an e-mail with your address so I can get this blanket off to you before your sweet baby girl is walking and conjugating verbs.

OK. With three blog posts within 24 hours, I think I've written enough today.

Oh ... But wait!! ... Would you look at this ...!!!

Charlie just revealed that a new movie from Netflix arrived. Don't worry. I'll be telling you about that later. Since I wrote this post, we've watched another 12.

Oops, I lied. One last thing. Aren't these posts without pictures BORING?

I think so, too.

So here's a picture of my husband introducing our two-year-old son to coffee.

Notice the tongue...

(There's nothing quite like sharing a beverage with a toddler.)

I can't stand the stuff, myself.

But Henry on the other hand ...

He loves it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Last night, when I should have been in bed sleeping, I was visiting a few blogs that I haven't checked in on in a while. One of those blogs is Lots of Scotts, which is authored by the beautiful JMom, who is the proud mother of adorable 5-year old BBG (boy, boy, girl) triplets.

JMom is a very strong and faithful Christian. As such, she is one of the most kind, tolerant and compassionate people I've ever met through blogging. Last night when I was catching up on her life with three little ones, I was absolutely stunned at an encounter that she had this past weekend.

I've written on more than one occasion about my run-ins with rude people. But to be perfectly honest, I really have been placing a lot of blame on myself. Maybe I'm saying something - or doing something - that is causing an inflammatory situation? Maybe I am too outspoken and need anger management? Maybe if I was better at practicing the lessons I learn in church every week, I would be more immune and more able to control myself. Or at least, diffuse a situation by responding with love.

But then I read what happened to JMom, a southern woman, with good manners to the hilt, who is infused with the Holy Spirit. And I spent the next several hours wondering what Jesus would do in a similar situation.

In a nutshell, JMom took her children to a restaurant this past weekend. While her husband was securing their boat (they were on a lake), JMom took her children inside to get a table. This is an excerpt directly from her post,
As I was making arrangements with the seating hostess the children were playing a few feet behind me. It took less than a minute.

Just as I had finished with the hostess I heard P crying behind me. As I picked him up he said, "Mama, that grown up was so mean. Why was he so mean?"

"What? What happened, buddy?" I asked.

"That mean grown up pushed me."

"A grown up pushed you?"

"Yes. He told me to move, then he pushed me. He was so mean."

I turned back towards the adults standing where the children had been playing--right in front of a brightly lit arcade game. Realizing that a 5 year old could have misinterpreted a situation, I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt and clarify the situation.

"I am sorry, did something happen with my children?" I asked.

Suddenly a tall, salt and peppery haired man stepped toward me and gruffly said, "Yeah something happened. I'll tell you what happened. These kids of yours are over here pushing all over me and I got sick of it. I told them to move and when they didn't I moved 'em."

Not sure what to say, I looked to P, still in my arms and encouraged him to apologize to this man. P was leery.

"I am scared, Mama."

After a little more prompting he apologized.

Hoping this would satisfy the man, we started to walk away until he brusquely said, "Look! They are doing it again." He was exasperated. I got nervous. At that moment I saw K, working her way between the man and the bright, flashing arcade machine again.

"I am sorry, sir. K, come here." As he huffed and puffed I felt such anger welling up in my chest. It was starting to sink in that this man pushed my child. Yet, my children were watching wide eyed as I dealt with a bully. He was over 6 feet tall and angry. And I was alone with my children.

As I gathered my little geese at my feet so we could get out of there I said, "I am sorry. They are 5. Kids do things..."

"Not if their mother knows how to control them they don't," he spewed.

I have to tell you, I really wanted to punch him in the nose at this point...but this would have likely resulted in my being pummelled. I wish I had a great story of how I loved him like Jesus, but instead I looked him right in the eye and said through gritted teeth, "I hope you have a great night."

"I will as soon as you and these punks get out of here," he replied.

There is no doubt this man was angry and he was out to intimidate. And from past experience, I know that I don't respond well to these types of situations.

Why, it's like throwing water on a grease fire.

So chances are, I would have told this bully straight up that he was a jackass. But I'm absolutely certain that would have caused a scene. Although I doubt that the man would try to hurt me in a public place because there are witnesses and I would HOPE at least someone would leap to the defense of a woman with three small children.

When I asked Charlie what he would do, he told me that he'd tell the man, "My kids aren't punks, YOU are a punk. And if you threaten me or them again, I will call the police and press charges for harrassment." Then, he said he would whip out his cell phone, and stand armed to press buttons.

A few weeks ago, we attended a sermon at church that focused on highlighting the warrior that is within all of us. The minister said that all people have it within them to fight and be a part of a cause.

God created within you the heart of warrior.

Every warrior has a cause to fight for.

A warrior without a cause to fight FOR will find the wrong thing to fight AGAINST.

There are two ways that a warrior fights:
Sometimes your throw a punch. Sometimes you take a punch.

There is ... a time for war, and a time for peace.
- Ecclesiastes 3:1, 8 (NLT)

I've really thought about this over the past several hours, and I don't think that Jesus would have walked away from the bully in the restaurant. But I do think that JMom handled herself very well in the situation and exercised incredible control. When a situation like that occurs, so fast, I don't think that very many of us have on our tongues, and in our hearts, the exact right words to say when you need them.

I know that calling someone names isn't the right solution.

I know that small eyes are on me, learning from my every move.

I suspect that in my lifetime, there will be times when I am faced with a difficult situation and I will react without first thinking what the RIGHT THING is to do. The RIGHT THING that will insure I am safe. The RIGHT THING that will insure my children see that I am going to protect them. The RIGHT THING that will insure this individual knows that what they are doing is unacceptable. The RIGHT THING that will insure I handle it in a manner that is ... well, pleasing to God.

So, what do you think the right thing is to do when someone goes after your children?

Do you remind the person that they were once a child and you will pray for them?

Or do you tell them to BACK OFF or you will call the police and a coroner?

this perfectly sums it up

Last night, as we were preparing for dinner, I happened to catch a sight of my children doing things that perfectly capture who they are, at this moment in time. Their personalities are so dynamic, yet I can see certain traits emerging that truly define them.

There was Carolyn, playing quietly on the computer. She will often steal herself away, and if we would allow it, play for hours and hours on word games through the PBS website. She is studious and thoroughly enjoys quiet time alone.

There was William, who was dressed in his eighth outfit of the day, standing alongside his father and chopping vegetables with his rounded butter knife. He was pretending to be a sous chef and was animatedly talking my husband's ear off. He is extremely imaginative and loves to discuss the world as he sees it.

There was Elizabeth, who had snuck outside and mischievously emptied a large portion of soil from our potted tomato plant. Adding just enough water for a massive mud puddle, she then set about covering herself from head to toe, moments before we sat down to dinner. She is fascinated with texture and touch and is hellbent on making the biggest disaster, ever.

Then there was Henry, who had stripped himself down to his birthday suit and was running around the backyard stuffing pebbles through the fence to our neighbor's dogs while yelling, "HIYA DOGGIE!!!"

I don't know what to say about this little guy, except that at two-years-old, he is fascinated with nudity. And rocks. And speaking very loudly. All those things, all the time.

Except for when he is sleeping.

Monday, July 20, 2009

homeschool: calendars & noodles

We try to start out every day with a review of the calendar.

I bought a large dry erase board that allows me to recite the months of the year with the children, and all the days of the week. Each day, I write in the month that we are in, and point out any important holidays and/or birthdays and/or upcoming events.

Since I usually have to re-write this calendar once a day - since small children love to wipe off whatever I have recorded - the level of detail I include on any given day may vary.

(As may my penmanship.)

Next week we are flying back to South Carolina for my 20-year highschool reunion. But more importantly, we are flying back to South Carolina next week to see my mother and Jim, Aunt Grace and Uncle Bill, and cousins Margaret, Lisa, George, Bill and Karen.

We are so excited.

To help the children grasp the concept of time and the days remaining until our trip, once we go through the calendar, we will count how many days until we get on the plane (which will take off and land without issue and fly safely through the sky), with the use of pasta noodles.

You can do a lot more with penne than just toss it with marinara.

Since we have eight days remaining until our trip, today the children counted out eight noodles, which they then strung up. (Yes. William is in fact wearing a velvet Christmas skirt in size 2T. Just in case you were wondering, we're very casual here at home school.)

Tomorrow, we'll take one noodle off the string, leaving seven. Although we could also count out seven new noodles. Then take the eight noodles off our string and subtract seven from eight.

Either way you calculate it, we'll be one day closer to leaving.

And thus, one day closer to my next panic attack.

the homeschool

We've been homeschooling our children for the past seven months. And although I've been wanting to write about this topic since January, I've been at an absolute loss how to start this post. Or what to include in it.

I finally decided that there really is no simple way to disseminate everything that we have done over the past several months as we've embarked upon this homeschool adventure. So instead of trying to write everything in one post, I'm going to start out by simply writing how we've set up our "classroom."

As you read through this, I think it's very important to keep in mind that we live in a 1,600 square foot house. Space is at a premium. And although I would love (emphasis on the word love) to have a large room dedicated to educational materials - that are strategically placed on low shelves where children can easily access them - that wasn't an option for us. Unless, we got rid of our couch, dining room table and blocked off at least half of our kitchen cabinets.

Instead, we looked at the way our house was set up and we did a major rearrangement, while trying to use what we had, as much as possible.

We hired electricians who moved chandeliers and ceiling fans from one room to the next. What was once our family room, became our dining room. What had been our formal dining room became our computer area and what had been our living room became our family room. I moved small tables in to each of the rooms so that ultimately, every non-bedroom space in our house, became a space where learning could transpire. But our primary "learning" space is what we call our homeroom. Which was once our family room. But is now our dining room. And primary library.

And every so often, gymnasium.

Still with me?

The cabinet that once housed our television, stereo and associated equipment, was converted to a space that held many of our educational materials. Those materials that have a lot of pieces and/or could inflict significant damage on our furniture or walls if in the wrong small hands, were stored high in baskets.

On one shelf we have all of our wooden supplies including puzzles, beads and more puzzles. On another shelf we store all of our workbooks and worksheets. On another shelf there is space designated for our mats and clipboards, which we use extensively.

There are wicker baskets on several shelves that hold magnets, lacing cards, science equipment and assorted supplies that I have organized together. Roll-out drawers along the bottom of the wall unit hold play food supplies, wooden vehicles and a small portion of our children's library.

Using old CD holders, I organized other supplies such as crayons, colored pencils, flashcards, paints, brushes, Playdoh, rulers, triangles, scissors and compasses that can be safely tucked out of the way when not in use.

There is a children's sized table in our 'classroom.' As well as an easel, that I recently moved outdoors to our backyard because the kids love painting in the sun and I love having them outside.

Next to the garden hose.

Far, far away from our light-covered upholstery.

I will write about all of these things in more detail later, but for now, I just want to mention that in our classroom, there are wooden blocks. And a bookshelf filled with various books. There are comfortable spaces for the children to sit and read to their heart's content. We have a wooden doll house and a play kitchen. And Legos that I finally moved to an area that are readily accessible to the children, because thankfully, the triplets have outgrown the stage of scattering these small plastic blocks all over creation, and Henry never once has shown an interest in stuffing them inside Charlie's acoustic guitar.

My plan going forward is to begin posting, several times each week, homeschool activities that we do with the children. Tonight, I calculated that I have photographed at least 100 separate blog posts worth of information. Of course, turning those photographs in to actual posts is a whole different story. But I can rest easy knowing that if I'm suddenly struck with writer's block, I have enough material to last me until the New Year.

Wait a minute. Writer's block?

Something tells me that so long as I have small children in the house, that will never happen.