Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Secret to Weight Loss - Week #4

Well, I made it through. I wish I could say that had attended every day, but our time schedule just would not allow it. I did however, walk out the door with a smile on my face, and ten pounds less on my body. Yay! I have been calorie counting so that helped. But what boot camp did for me is remind me how good it feels to exercise. I have adopted a new motto: "Get fit, live fit, stay fit, pants fit." Mostly I have liked the feeling of ‘having’ exercised, not necessarily actually doing it. Sometimes that is still true. But now I am a little bit closer to wearing the clothes collecting dust in my closet. I hope they are still in style when I can fit back into them.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Secret to Weight Loss - Week #3

I no longer think he is trying to kill me. That would ruin it all for him. No, instead. He is keeping me alive so he can continue to torture me. Mock Nordic Track-like movements, lactic acid buildup inducing squats and midget jumping jacks pepper a work out like no other. Yes, I am down eight pounds. Yes, I want to keep getting fit and lose more weight. Yes, I hate sweating and pain. Oh, and yes, I paid him to do this to me. 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Helping Parents in the NICU This Season

"Your single good deed, big or small, can inspire others and cause a ripple effect of kindness that continues to grow as others join in. Start something today — the more people who take action,  the larger your ripple will become."
~ Yahoo! Motherboard, The Kindness Ripple

When our triplets were born 11 weeks early, it was as though we had been yanked off the planet and thrown into some alternate universe with large crashing waves all around. We had no knowledge of the local language, the customs or the people. Our crash course introduction lasted, oh, say, five minutes, and then along with the three new little people who had also been yanked out of their realm, we were all delivered to this new environment. 
The NICU. Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Intensive was right, but we soon came to realize “care” was the real deal.
Yahoo!’s generous $100.00 donation to spread kindness and encourage a ripple effect had me thinking hard as to where it should go. The NICU that literally saved our children’s lives felt right. We have great respect for the hospital, but this is for parents who will take the same chaotic journey we traveled. The only thing you wish for is your child’s health. Despite gnawing belly hunger, you often feel unable to leave your baby to get a snack. Bewildered, sleep deprived eyes play across your child and you make any and all deals with anyone you think will listen if it makes a difference. You go home alone and don’t sleep because your child is not within reach, despite confidence in the medical staff. 
We decided to add $200.00 to the initial $100.00 (three seems like a good number to us!), and purchase disposable cameras and snacks for NICU parents. Nurses can take pictures when parents aren’t there so no moments are missed. Stepping into the hallway for a snack doesn’t require the parent(s) to go far. Or go hungry.
The social worker who assisted us back in 2008 was kind enough to support this idea, and I am looking forward to delivering TO the hospital this time, not IN it. As of this writing I have yet to, but am hopeful that, I can convince a local merchant to cover photo printing or online delivery of completed cameras. During the holidays it can be difficult to be away from family. Our greater hope is that other NICU parents will find some measure of comfort, however small, from what we can drop into the waves that crash around them.

Disclosure: I was given $100 to perform my own random acts of kindness by Yahoo!

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Secret to Weight Loss - Week #2

He is trying to kill me. I swear it. I recovered from the pain of last week, or so I thought. Then I went again this week because I committed to it. Eye on the prize, eye on the prize. My legs almost gave out about 20 minutes in. I wasn’t even really out of breath. But then, how could I be if I couldn’t move? “Keep going!” bellows Aron, our super fit instructor. When he demonstrates the exercises it looks so freaking easy. It probably is. If you have no body fat and do them many times a day. Which I don’t. Two to three times a week is plenty for me. I’d like to be able to put my skates on come Sunday.

One of the gals in the class turned and asked me if it was my first time there. I shook my head. “Nope, fourth”. Was it that obvious? I looked in the gym mirror and it WAS that obvious. Red-faced, lumpy, and hair flying everywhere. That’s me. Former skating competitor turned middle-aged suburban blob. For Halloween I had the best costume. It was so easy I didn’t have to do anything. I went as a MILF, cleverly disguised as an un-showered, overweight housewife. I was a hit. I just wasn’t sure if they were laughing because it wasn’t true, or because it was juts a funny idea. Whatever. After that, I decided I’d rather not be cleverly disguised any longer. Now I’m doing ‘suicide drills’ on the command of Aron, while he yells that we shouldn’t let the person next to us do better than we are doing. “Don’t be the one who can’t keep up!’ Was he yelling in my direction when he said that? I was panting even in my thoughts.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Secret to Weight Loss – Week #1

 I discovered the secret to weight loss. Pain. No, not the kind of emotional pain that  makes  you forget to eat. Much more superficial than that. Boot camp pain. Day one was pretty  good. I joked with the instructor how it was easier than learning new tricks in ice skating.  He said, “I’m going to make you eat those words!” I smiled, but secretly wondered if he  would. I had no idea that not only would I eat my words, but that would be the last thing I  ate.

I was excited to finally focus on my fitness, and high on endorphins, the day sailed by. I  knew 5:30am tomorrow would come with a whole new appreciation for pain. Only, tomorrow came that night. My husband and I went to dinner (low cal entrĂ©e choice of course), and a movie. I felt relaxed, happy and ready to hit the gym again. Then, as the credits rolled, I stood up from my seat, correction, I tried to stand up from my seat. My husband could barely contain his chuckles at my obvious discomfort. I told him to can it, and he said that was the best he could do.

The other five women in my class had regaled me with stories of trying to sit on the toilet after their first day. No problem. I have strong ice skater legs, right? Wrong. Hamstrings are strong. Quads? Holy crap did they take a beating.

Day two had me drifting in and out of sleep around 4am, anticipating my 5:30am class. With the alarm I realized that for three years, we have been groaning about our early bird triplets. Yet I was voluntarily up before they uttered their first, “Mommy, come get me!” of the day.

When I arrived, the other instructor was there (they switch off days) and I said, “I got run over by a truck name Aaron yesterday”. She replied, “Today you’ll get run over by a small car.” Huh. That chick was no small car. Day two proved to be far more painful. Stopping at the market on my way home, I grimaced realizing I needed to buy milk – in gallon containers. Weren’t 10-pound weights enough? Nope. The kids need their calcium Momma.

My only muscles that didn’t hurt were the ones for smiling. The same muscles I would chew food with – if I could lift a fork to my mouth. See? Instant weight loss. All I could do at this point was smile. I smiled when I hoisted the milk into my cart. I smiled when the coffee gal said, “Have a great day!” I smiled at the check out when bag girl asked if I needed assistance to the car. Oh God yes, do I. But I smiled and said. “No, thank you”. I even smiled as I attempted to gracefully step up into my SUV without drawing any attention to myself. The grunting didn’t help. I smiled as I watched my children drink their nutrition. I weakly wobbled my coffee cup to my mouth and sipped, not gracefully. I felt pain throughout my whole being. If my pain plan works, that will eventually turn into, “Wow! You have triplets? You look amazing!” And I smiled.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Gone Viral

Ah, the doe eyed days of sweet motherhood. In the days that followed my children's first day of preschool, I was relieved, nervous, excited. I had visions of indiscernible, marker-streaked, paper art, macaroni decorated cards and birthday cupcakes for the whole class . . . (insert loud record scratch here)
Five doctor visits, three prescriptions, numerous grocery store trips for more Pedialyte and one late night drugstore run for a new vaporizer later, those doe eyed days seem like a story I read somewhere. Oh right. I read it in my head.
We've managed to survive two ear infections, pneumonia, a sinus infection and three colds in only five weeks of school. Geez, my kids don't even go every day. This is no small way a big FAT “Thank you!” to the sweet little girl in my kids' class who is routinely there with thick ribbons of yellow snot running down her face. WTH?? My whole family is sick now. I asked the teacher why this child was allowed to be there? The reply? “Her mother said she was ok”. THAT is not ok. I am not one to complain about the circumstances of my life no matter what they are. But this was too much. With all we already have on our plates, I was really upset. I had heard about the preschool germfests, and the ‘virus of the week’ making the rounds when your kids finally start school. But please. I was beside myself that someone could leave their child at school when she was clearly unwell. Should I send mine in when they are sick because ‘oh well, they are all sick anyway?’
Everyone says that by the time my kids get to kindergarten they will have super tough immune systems because of this. I worry extra that my CP son will have difficulties with an infection in his shunt. There are days I feel like a super tough parent. There are days I don’t. This day I did not. It’s super tough to get six people over that much illness all at once. Viruses don’t respond to antibiotics. They are super tough. I’m going to have to become a virus. 

Monday, August 23, 2010


I am so looking forward to the new Sesame Street Wii games coming out soon. My kids are crazy for Elmo and Cookie Monster, and I am really interested to see how using the Wii remotes will help their coordination. We get therapy in our home a few times a week, and it will be helpful for them to have something to focus on instead of just stretching. Here's a preview:

School Days . . .

I was always consumed by the school supply aisle when we went shopping. I could stand there for hours, or at least until my mom dragged me away, ogling the pencil cases, folders and the latest fad at that time, White Out. How I longed for just one more ball point pen, in blue ink of course, and perhaps another pink pearl eraser. If I was lucky, I could borrow a colored pencil from a friend and color in some of the pictures on my yellow peechee folder.  I loved to make fake nails with glue on my plastic ruler. All you had to do was drop some glue into the curved indent in the center and watch it take shape. Then I pressed them on my nails and voila!

Fast forward . . . my stepson has been experiencing back to school for many years now. As he enters 8th grade, he is pretty much over school supplies. He coordinates what he needs but really he just wants to sleep. This year his school district has shortened the school year. So while other kids are going back in August, he has another full month before he starts. He finished his summer reading long ago and is now comfortably bored.

At the other end of the spectrum are my little ones. At two and a half with a January birthday, I didn’t expect to send them to preschool until next year. But with the therapy schedule one of them has, I am gone so much that the other two being stuck at home seems like a less good idea than a social/school environment. So school it is! They are super excited to go to school with their friend Kelly, and even more so to take their lunch bags along. I was worried they would not be ready, but they sing songs, know their ABCs and count to ten. Plus my daughter will climb to the top of anything, so I am guessing the yard slide won’t be an issue. I think it’s me that isn’t ready. Anyone relate?

All of a sudden I don’t need my sitters any more. All of a sudden my kids are close to potty trained. All of a sudden I might not need to buy as many diapers. All of a sudden my kids won’t be home as much. How in the heck did they get to be almost three?!?! What will I do with myself? All of a sudden I am giddy with thoughts of lining up lunch bags, small snack packets, sandwiches, juice boxes, and yes, wait for it . . . the school supply aisle! Ok, so they won’t be ready for that for awhile. But it’s been a long time since I could linger there and actually need something. I am simultaneously wistful and excited. But I know that one day they will be graduating high school and my husband and I will look at each other and ask, “What just happened??” until then, there’s a cute ladybug lunch bag on sale at Toys R Us, and pencil cases in a variety of colors for $1.99, and  . . .

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Four Seasons

I found the driver in baggage claim as instructed. I was super excited to get to the summit and meet all the other mom bloggers! “Yahoo!”, I was thinking, as we left the airport. Watching the bright, summer urban landscape slide by as we headed for the Four Seasons, I could already envision the comfy bed and a night or two of actual sleep. Well, that is if I don’t stay up late gabbing. And drinking wine. And eating chocolate. All appealing choices to be sure. What I most look forward to is meeting the amazing women who write for this group. I count myself fortunate to be part of it. I reflected on the California terrain I had seen changing from summer brown, to fall/winter flat, to spring mountainous and green during the short flight, and I dozed off . . .

The Yahoo! signature ‘purple’ carpet arrival and the sleek black limousine were the first indicators of a classy ‘do’. Since the birth of my triplets two and a half years ago, I have learned to keep an open mind and adjustable expectations. I was just happy to have a break. But this was already exceeding anything I could have imagined. Connecting with other mom bloggers, we all grinned passing through the Yahoo! guard gate. The amount of treats, sweets and snacks we found inside at our disposal, was overwhelming. Not to mention the free espressos and lattes. Holy caffeinated conference!

Panels of Yahoo! directors and the Motherboard creators imparted much wisdom and provided inspiration for attendees on marketing, monetizing, online safety – you name it. So much information, that everyone needed a drink, or three, later at dinner. Pitchers of hurricanes dotted the dinner table, which naturally led to strawberry ginger mojitos, pool side chats, and of course, karaoke. Twitter was ablaze with energy since none of us could keep it to ourselves.

The most revered treats were the cupcakes. Mmmm. Cream cheese frosting, fancy decorations, and plenty of them. The lasting effect influenced some of the gals to watch a cupcake show long after the festivities ended. The Four Seasons has a reputation for luxury, and they did not disappoint. Soft pillows, fluffy bedspreads, deep bathtubs, and TVs in the bathroom. I’d never leave my bathroom if I had that at home. Wait, yes I would. I don’t like bathrooms that much. But I digress. The ‘stitch and bitch’ after party was laden with candy and wine and cute flower crafts to make. If only life were always this  . . .

 . . . BEEP! . . . BEEP!  . . . BEEP! . . . what the hell IS that? I awoke slowly, wondering if that annoying sound was generated by the airplane. Then I panicked about it, and quickly looked around hoping I hadn’t drooled on my seat mate until I realized my surroundings looked nothing like a plane.

I was I in a hospital room, lying on a bench/bed, next to a crib in which my son lay recovering from his 11th brain surgery. I shook my head and took a deep breath. Ohhhh geez. It all came back to me in a rush. The vomiting, the screaming, the CT scan, the ER. His wails as they poked him with a needle to start the IV. Getting moved to the Pediatric floor at 3 a.m., and surgery at 8 a.m. to repair his yet again failed VP shunt. This was the fourth such incident in six months. When does this kid get a break? I looked over at him and he smiled his flirty little smile and said, “Hi Mommy!” in his impossibly high voice. I melted and wanted to cry at the same time from relief.

Though disappointed to miss the YMB Summit, the irony lies in that my son is the reason I was even invited in the first place. I am a mom. There is no way anything is more important than him. Commonplace as these hospital visits have become to us, diminished is not the fact that it is indeed, brain surgery. While I would have loved to frolic, drink and learn (not necessarily in that order), a higher purpose was at stake. And I have high hopes.

I hope that my son does not have to endure this again for a very long time. I hope that I can keep being strong for my son and my family when they need me. I hope that I can be the mom he needs. I hope that I can sleep in my own bed (if not a fluffy hotel bed), and not a hospital couch. It might not have been the Four Seasons, but one is enough for me - Spring. Spring is the season of hope. And hope springs eternal.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ikea - A Bad Idea

“Ikea’s customer service department is currently closed. IKEA customer service can be reached every day from 9am to 9pm.”  It was 9:11 a.m.

This shouldn’t surprise me. Yesterday’s adventures in trying to give IKEA money were no better. I called one store to request a piece of furniture that is available in two other stores, each over 5 hours driving from us. With two and half year old triplets at home, I rely on the value and (sometimes) quality of IKEA’s merchandise. But I am gravely disappointed in the service.

When I spoke with the store's service gal, she told me the item I wanted could not be brought in from another location. “That’s just our policy.” She agreed with me and said she didn’t understand it either, but could not help me and I should go to another store. I don’t know if she meant another IKEA or another retailer. I’m pretty close to going to another retailer.

She then told me that only Seattle and Houston ship furniture, so I should try calling them. Guess what? They DO NOT ship out of state.  Of course they don’t.

Next I tried the online ‘Anna’ customer service. The answers from her came up so fast it was hard to believe that the system was actually registering my questions. Instead it appears that it picks up on key words and gives standard answers. It suggested I check stock availability online. I typed in that I already did that, and the response was, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t talk about things like that”. Huh??

Now I am willing to purchase it over the phone and have a friend pick it up for me, and I get the phone message with which I started this letter. But as you might guess by now, IKEA will not take a phone order. And if I call the catalog order phone number, I am guessing I would have to pay shipping that I would not have to pay IF I could actually get the item AT the store. It’s kind of ironic that IKEA will not take my money every possible way I have tried to give it. But with a catalog order they will happily take a little more of it. The customer service gal from San Diego was quick to tell me that she is “Sorry for the inconvenience”.  I couldn’t’ disagree more. She was not sorry. It was a scripted answer that only served to cement my rapidly growing annoyance with IKEA.

I'm not the only one who feels this way. The internet is littered with sites and comments like these. So what is it IKEA? You're a franchise? You're cheap? You don't care? That should not be the customer’s problem. In this kind of economy, and frankly in any economy, who can afford to turn away business? Apparently IKEA.What a bad idea.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

One Potato, Two Potato, Three potato . . . No More!

June 11, 2010

DSC00686A year or two ago, I interviewed babysitters very differently than I do now. Two years ago I was willing to hire a sitter because she had CPR and claimed to love children. She proceeded to sit on my floor and pat my kids on the back while watching soap operas. One down. The next one got cozy on my couch and decided it was ok to change what was recording on our TiVo because she wanted to watch something else. Meanwhile, my kids sat on the floor and looked up at her with curiosity. Two down.  I hired a doula who is my mom’s age, and she was wonderful. She came over twice a week, made me something to eat and insisted I go take a nap. While I fitfully slept, she folded laundry, tidied up and fed the babies. But she was ghastly expensive and I desperately needed more help. Three down. All this within the span of a month. Over the next few months I tried one more gal, who seemed great at first – then called in pregnant one day. Four down.

Somewhere along the way in that first couple of months, KK came along. She was laid back, and at first I thought maybe she was not so motivated because she came across as very mellow. Boy howdy was I wrong! She is one of the best things that happened to my kids and our family. This girl walked in and started laughing with my babies, and was equally at ease laughing with me, even though she is young enough to be my daughter (notice I didn’t say I am old enough to be her mother). Over the past two years I also hired two more amazing young ladies, and they all work a few hours a week so I can get out to the store, meet a friend for coffee now and again and they provide extra energy to the kids when I feel just worn out. From them all I have re-learned things I used to know and thought I still did. They are all closer to having been babysat and been children than I am. They are more in touch with playing games, blowing bubbles and drawing with sidewalk chalk than I am. I was so sure I was. I wanted my kids fiercely and I love them with all my heart. But no one tells you how hard motherhood can be. And truly, you can’t know anything about anything until you are actually there. 

Due to the kids’ therapy requirements, I needed to have help. But I could not decide if I wanted one full time person or an occasional sitter. What I did decide, was to have a few college age gals who all do a few part time hours. Then if one got sick, quit or went on vacation, I had back up. Having energetic young sitters around to help me care for and play with my kids has been the best choice I could have made. On days I felt too tired to function, they showed up with songs and games in mind. On days I had more energy, we all walked to Starbuck’s for coffee. But more than just providing energy, they became part of our family. It’s not an office job, they don’t have to dress up. They do have to be on time, they do work for money. But the job of caring for someone’s children, and being able to entrust my kids, my entire home and its contents to someone, is a huge deal. While we are already a family of six and not looking to expand, learning to be comfortable with sitters was not easy at first. 

On the eve of watching two of our girls prepare move on to ‘real world’ situations in their lives, I find myself thinking again about interviewing new people. This time around I will ask tougher questions. I will watch more closely how my kids respond when the girls arrive for interviews. I am no longer desperate for another person to be with me and my ducklings all day. When I find the right person, I wonder if they will fit into that narrow space that requires them to be professional when they arrive, yet quickly become comfortable with our family. But not so comfortable that they become couch potato number five.

Getting Out

June 07, 2010

Black Crowes 018I often underestimate the power of getting out of the house. I’m less motivated to take my kids out when I am alone for several reasons, not the least of which is that I cannot run in three directions if they all take off on me. This is bound to happen sooner or later, but most of the time they are their own play group. Being naturally more solitary, I’m content to stay home. Working at home gives me balance, besides the ever present opportunity to wipe snot off my shirt and pick up empty bottles. Don’t get me wrong, I take the kids on play dates. And we visit the children’s room at the local library once a week (it is a contained room with toys, books and games). This being my comfort zone, I often forget that it is also a vacuum, where it’s pretty easy to avoid drama and have a peaceful existence, outside of the requisite crying and sibling rivalry. 

So when I was offered tickets to a Black Crowes concert, I hesitated. I confess, I actually had to look them up and listen to some samples of their music to see if I recognized any of it. I did, but I still wasn’t sure it was my thing. Since my kids were born, I have struggled to do anything new, opting for things of comfort and security. I decided I would reach out. I invited a new friend I don’t know well, who I would like to know better, and who I knew could also use a night out. She has twin one year old boys and hasn’t lived here for too long, and agreed to join me. We chatted about motherhood and related issues on the drive to the concert, noting that making new friends is sometimes like dating – trying people on to see how they fit. It can be tough to connect with people. At 40-something, I figured the Black Crowes would not really be our thing. But where it got comedic was when the Dolby Surround Sound truck offered us a listen in their rolling theatre. I hadn’t exactly expected that we would end up drinking wine that was chilling in a cooler in the Dolby guy’s car trunk. As I anticipated, the music turned out not to be for either of us. Watching the opening band and the Black Crowes, all old guys with too much beard, flannel shirts and incense floating around made us realize that it was pretty late. We had fun, and it was nice to be out and about. But five a.m. comes all too fast when one and two year olds decide it’s time to start the day. I don’t underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep.

Ice Cream as Punishment?

May 12, 2010

Ice creamThe timer goes off for the nutritious lunch I have put in the oven for my little ones. Once they are safely ensconced in their high chairs, I casually move the Ben & Jerry’s container into which I have been digging for that elusive ribbon of caramel, over to the other side of the fridge so they cannot see my gluttonous indulgence. 

What I realize as I shovel in the very tasty and oh so satisfying treat, is that I used to do this in college when I was a young and angry girl. Down with every spoonful or forkful of attractiveness prohibiting food I ate, went my misery, anger, sadness, whatever the negative emotion of the day was. My lips coated in sugary caramel, I ponder that which has been eating at me (pun intended) of late. Family issues rooted in childhood. Ok, now that sounds pretty much like everyone I know, so why is this still lingering? I could answer that, but I won’t here.  I already know the answer. The problem isn’t that I don’t know the problem, or the answer. It’s how it works its way into my mouth instead of out of my head. 

Why then, do I not turn to something with protein, like chicken? Or steak? Food like ice cream is supposed to be bad for you, and supposedly I am punishing myself by eating it instead of working it out in some other manner, like exercise, as a healthy person might. (I do exercise, but it is just not enough to account for what I eat.) Therefore, I am indeed punishing myself. When I am at the market next time, picking up more ice cream for my husband (it was his stash I delved into), I will inevitably see a magazine with a skinny bitch airbrushed on the cover and sigh because I would give my eye teeth (what IS that anyway?) to look like that. The truth is, I would like to know what it feels like to look like that, but I am apparently unwilling to do the work it takes to get that way, minus the airbrushing. So I stand here, hiding behind the fridge, eating my punishment, which feels so much like a reward it’s no wonder women have a hard time with body image. It’s a mixed signal I am not sure I want to figure out.

Clearly I ought not be eating this, or like this, but I do nonetheless. Hypocrite that I apparently am, I sneak it thinking my kids won’t figure it out. After all, I can’t have them picking up my bad habits. 

I Work for Free

May 06, 2010

Break_freeI like working at home. I also like working for free. I know you’re sitting there thinking, “What is she talking about?” But it’s true. Years spent in corporate management yielded traveling, high salaries, free hotel rooms, TONS of accumulated mileage, great clothes, shoes, parties. Right, what’s the downside? I also was alone a lot, I missed TONS of family events, my friends and boyfriend(s) moved on when they got tired of waiting for me, and I was a slave to the paycheck. I was also a slave to the corporate culture. I had to act a certain way, be there on time, chant the company lingo and mantra at every opportunity, throw myself on the grenade for the good of the company (someone actually told me to do this once). What can I say? I was young, I needed the money. Or so I thought.

Of course I needed to put food on the table and have decent clothes to wear. Everyone has that need. But what I really needed was the freedom that comes from what I do now. Living my life. I have a strong work ethic and belief in self discipline and delayed gratification. This has served me well and still does. However, this does not mean that it must be used in nine to five circumstances. Since it only took me a couple of decades to figure that out, I was glad I didn’t have kids until I had come to that conclusion. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I would have been a horrible mother trying to have it all. 

One day, after 13 straight years in corporate leadership, I turned in my AMEX card and quit. A few days later I began coaching skating, and eventually carved out a career of sorts for myself in the world of figure skating, where most are volunteers. I believed I was headed for creative bliss on the ice and no more desk jobs, yet very shortly after I started this venture, I found myself being pulled into leadership again. It was different this time though. There was no money involved except for coaching. I could set my own hours. I rarely if ever saw my co workers, and I collaborated with people nationwide on projects instead of the daily routine.
I have been going about my life this way for over 12 years now. It’s great! I meet with everyone a few times a year, and the rest of the time, no make up, no dress up, and no early wake up! Well, that last part was true until my triplets came along.  A few days ago I returned from our annual meeting. I am exhausted, but so very satisfied. This morning, sitting on the floor with my kids, feeling like my legs are made of jelly, I smiled, realizing that I could get up and write an email right now to my group and come across as informed and articulate. No one would know how tired I am, or that I am wearing yesterday’s sweats and I have toddler snot on my shirt and smashed Cheerios under my butt (they're a carpet, they're a food, they're a carpet, they're a food . . .). . I like it this way. I work for free. Correction, I work for freedom.

Noise and Routine

April 20, 2010

NoiseMostly I can’t stand the noise or the crying. It doesn’t always bother me if they are upset. I can deal with whatever they have going on. But I feel like I have to keep taking these deep breaths and sighing and exhaling to stay calm when the noise level reaches a point where I can’t hear myself think any longer. What to do, what to do. I can’t hide in the garage, they know how to open the door. I can’t go outside, they want to go too. I can no longer put them in a pack-n-play, they can escape. 

I have recently changed our morning routine to keep them more occupied, with ‘distraction and action’ as my new mantra. Taking advantage of the time change, I have been trying to get my seemingly naturally early risers to sleep later.  That seems to be working mostly. After a later breakfast, or a second breakfast if they don’t eat enough the first go around, they play, then we read. When we sit down to read, we all prop up on pillows, cover our legs with blankets, and everyone takes a nice, deep breath. Genius! Once we have plowed our way through the same 10 books, they play some more, and then – it’s nap time. I live for that some days. 
This is, unfortunately, one more thing I am trying to adjust. Being very early risers follows with late morning naps instead of after lunch naps. This means we can’t go to classes anywhere because all the programs for their age group are held in the mornings. Play dates are tough to squeeze in with this schedule too. After lunch, it is one lonnnnnnng  stretch of backyard bubbles, fighting over toys and indoor noise until dinner and bath time. Then we do it all over again the next day. Most days it’s ok. But some days I just want world peace, err, peace in my world. 

Poo-Pooing the Potty

ElmopottyMarch 30, 2010

I hate toilets. I have always hated them. I don’t like being near them, I don’t like touching them, I get out of the bathroom as fast as I can, especially public bathrooms. This has all been very amusing to my husband, who was eager to see how I would handle diapers, poop and all things smelly baby related. Multiply that by three and I was in fear for my delicate nasal sensibilities my whole pregnancy. Surprisingly, diapers and their inevitable contents have not been that difficult for me. Changing them is no picnic, but I can do it pretty quickly, and my husband is kind enough to empty our fast filling diaper pail often.  But looming ahead of us is something I have always dreaded even more than diapers and toilets.  

Potty training. 

I am so not looking forward to this. I have heard that if you start potty training a child at two years old, they will be trained by three. And if you start training a child at three, they will be trained by three. Mine are a little over two now, so I am not in any big rush to get this going. But watching the Elmo’s Potty Party dvd, or whatever it’s called, daily, has apparently been so inspiring to my kids that they are starting to ask about sitting on the potty. While Elmo’s daddy sings, “Put your body on the potty”, and, “Everyone has accidents”,  I watch as my now toddlers look around for the potty door in our house that Elmo comes out of so they can go in it. This has resulted in tape around the door knob safety device so they cannot pop it off and go stick their hands in the toilet. Ewww. There is not enough anti bacterial gel to overcome that.

My husband has had potty parties a few times when he has gotten the kids to tell him they have a poopy diaper. Once he changes their diaper, they follow him in a pied-piper-like procession that moves to the bathroom where the offending excrements are ceremoniously deposited in the toilet and one of the little ones gets the privilege of flushing it. They wave ‘bye bye’ to the poop and march back into the living room proudly to tell me all about it. I informed him that he can continue this, but I will not be following up with it during the day. 
And perish the thought of the day I will have to toss perfectly good Cheerios or Apple Jacks into the commode for aiming practice. The only thing worse than being in the bathroom is being in the bathroom with food. That’s gotta be about six kinds of wrong, or more. But hey, perhaps it’s a good dieting strategy. I mean, who wants to eat in a bathroom?

I suppose it’s all going to happen whether or not I like it. But I can’t imagine liking it. Sigh. In the everlasting words of Elmo’s daddy, “What you gotta do, do”. 


March 23, 2010

ChangesI visited a pre-school the other day. It was nice, everyone was friendly, and the rooms were neat and filled with children’s artwork and imaginary play toys. It was kind of an out of body experience until I realized that MY children’s artwork would soon be hanging on those walls. MY children would soon be running willy-nilly around the cute playground. And I will be the parent worrying that the gate can be pushed open for my oh-so clever escape artist child to take off through and make his way into the world. The gate itself is actually secure. Even if he tried to push the bar that opens it, he will not be successful in getting out. But one day, he will be allowed out, and will push other bars open on other doors, actually making his way in the world. This alarmed me as I am sure it has with mothers before me and those to come after me. Was I waxing too philosophical? How can they be two years old? How can they almost be ready for a pre-school class? 

Once upon a time I was a day camp director and had files upon files of medical release paperwork for the kids attending camp. Medicine lists, allergies, physical considerations, etc., all telling me what to do in case of an emergency. Not that I was nonchalant by any stretch, but I can say now that looking back, I had only a simple concept of what that paperwork meant. I was responsible for those children, and I took it seriously. But what it really meant was that I was a temporary ‘parent’ for the day. Those parents all trusted me and the companies I worked for to handle their children carefully. Though I cared for hundreds of children before my own, the responsibility I now feel for my three is more weighty than I could ever have imagined. Now that it is my own children, I must fill these forms out and trust that “in case of”, what I write down will be followed and my kids will be ok. But I can’t know that. We can’t ever really know that can we? We can only trust that we are making the right choices for them until they can do it on their own.

Splish Splash

February 22, 2010

LexiFrom time to time when I am washing endless bottles and sippy cups, I feel the warm water running over my hands and think about how nice it would be to just sit in a Jacuzzi, or a hot bath. Then I think about what it would take to get to the point where that would be possible. Sigh. After feeding, dressing, playing with and refereeing between three two year olds all day, it’s all I can do to get THEM bathed. No fair. They get to splash around in a bath tub, make a mess, NOT clean it up, then wiggle into fleecy jammies and go to bed listening to soft music.

The bed and bath time routine covers a nightly rendition of the clean up song (we have to sing it every night to put all the toys away), a disrobing where my daughter decides she is suddenly amped and ready to run around the house until we can catch her and steal the clothes off her body, and a special march into the bedroom to put Panda and Barney in bed before hopping into the tub.

For many months now I have been eyeing our hot tub in the back yard with a longing I cannot put into words. Unfortunately, cleaning up the water in it and maintaining it just isn’t high enough on the priority list. Things like groceries and doctor appointments keep getting in my way.

Perhaps that is why when my kidlets make such a huge ruckus in the tub, toss their toys out laughing, I sometimes don’t have as much patience as maybe I should. Tonight I smiled at it, remembering that they are having fun. It’s pretty great to see them bonding with each other. I just wish I was the one bonding with the hot water.

The Kitchen Symphony

February 14, 2010

LexiKids love routine. It turns out, so do adults.

Wash the bottles
Make the coffee
Cut the fruit and waffles up
Serve some to each kid
Clean the counters
Put away the high chairs

That’s breakfast.

I can barely hearken back to the days I slept late and meandered to the coffee shop before work or on weekends. I remember it, it just seems like it was someone else’s life. In those days the biggest decision was what to wear and which of my Starbucks coffee cups I felt like drinking from that day. I suppose that was a routine of sorts, but the choices only affected me.

Once we get naps underway, and oh yesss, the routine is in full effect for that dance, I have a little time to do whatever I want around the house. That usually involves some sort of getting on the computer with every intention of writing, doing a little work, or paying bills. Sometimes some of that even gets done.

Lunch and dinner are the same kitchen symphony. The cookie tray makes its metal banging noise as it the heat rises in the oven for the chicken nuggets, the pan sizzles as food is cooked, the forks get smacked against the high chair trays, the refrigerator doors open and shut in their own rhythm. I often find myself moving around the kitchen to the beat of it all, picking up fallen food and dropped water cups. Then I realize, I depend on this routine too. Though free and easy might sound good at times, on the whole, routine is what makes running a house full of kids work well. And the carefree choosing of a coffee cup just can’t compare to playing dress up with my kids, reading books with them and hearing their goofy laughter when they jump off the couch together. I count on it. 


January 28, 2010

This past holiday season was the first one where my kids opened presents. Before that they didn’t knowPanda  what a present was. After one day they were asking, "Presents, Mama, more presents?" I tried to go easy with gifts, but I got a little carried away.
I ended up filling a bin with toys that have outgrown, and another with some of the new stuff. I need to start rotating toys in and out of play. Three kids alone is enough, forget about the toy mess. Goodwill here I come. All they really needed was the paper. Then I got the bright idea to take the used wrapping paper and re-wrap the toys they already have so they could keep opening presents. Not sure if that was clever or if it will perpetuate the desire for ‘more’, but they had fun. I wonder how many years I can get away with that?

Their second birthday followed the holidays a month later. Given my daughter’s long standing obsession with panda bears, it seemed inevitable that she would receive more than the one she already has (that we have to pry from her death grip sleeping fingers as she lays on it at night in order to wash it). And she did. One dressed in a cute ice skating outfit, and another that talks. And two books with a panda on the cover. God help us all when one of the boys gets ahold of panda. Mayhem breaks out in the form of, “Paaaaan-daaaa!”and “PAN-da!” and “Pan-DAHHHHH!” When panda is safely nestled back into her loving arms, the sounds turn to a cooey, “Pandaaaaaa” and huge smiles. The boys each got an animal of their own this time around. A frog for one, (Hop Hop), and Barney for the other. Suddenly I am grandparent to a frog, a purple dinosaur and zoo animals as they all parentally feed, clothe and care for their menagerie.
Amongst the birthday spoils was a doctor kit from their beloved sitter KK, who taught them how to use the pieces in it. Daily we are now getting our hearts and ears checked, along with temperatures and pulses. Of course the ‘babies’ are getting checked too, and receiving shots as needed. At two years old they are mimicking everything we do (gotta watch the language). I’m just glad they also got brooms and a dustpan in their gift pile.

The Fish Oil Diaries

January 06, 2010

We were stunned at the 7am wake up yesterday. This morning, when I heard the first cry from the kids’ room, I groaned as I rolled over, dreading the reality check the clock would no doubt soon provide me. We were stunned yet again as I blinked in amazement that it said 6:30a. Ok, 6:25am. But damn close! For the first time in practically forever, my husband had to scramble to get his things together to go running with my brother. Usually we are up long before their planned meeting time. I felt the knot in my stomach as he readied himself, knowing I would be alone with the kids screaming, fighting, stealing bottles.

But OMG. I could actually feel my soul breathe a sigh of relief as I made some coffee and watched my usually crazed and screaming daughter calmly play with her toys and her siblings for almost 2 hours after they woke up. I wanted to shout, “It’s a Festivus miracle!” not that it has anything to do with any particular holiday). But that was the first funny exclamatory comment that popped into my head. We watch a lot of Seinfeld what can I say?

Amazingly, they also ate every single thing I put on their breakfast plates. Seriously. Not one scrap on the floor. And when I took a bathroom break, the two that usually rock hard in their chair to get the chairs to move? Nada!

We looked at each other as we rolled out of bed and wondered aloud what we did differently. My husband suggested we write down whatever we are doing in the next couple of days and then follow it religiously. The only real thing that has changed though, is giving the kids omega 3 fish oils. After two days of this, the changes are apparent. I have been thinking about this for some time and finally did it. Like I said, OMG! Not only did they sleep longer, play more nicely and not demand bottles first thing out of bed, but we got EIGHT HOURS of sleep ourselves! Though there is a small voice in the back of my mind questioning how long this will last, in this euphoria of the novelty, I am idealistic and hopeful. We are looking at a 2010 filled with a 13 year old’s angst and the ‘terrible twos’. But believe me when I say HAPPY new year!

On the third day however, they woke up at 5:30am, didn’t eat as much, napped one short stretch and generally were cranky. This left us scratching our heads as to what we did or didn’t do differently. I don’t actually expect miracles, but I am sure hoping . . .

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Something's Fishy

Even our pediatrician and neurologist couldn’t answer the question. How much fish oil is good for my little ones?

I probably worry too much. But increasingly, as my little ones become bigger ones, I wonder about their brain development. They are all strong in the vocabulary department. It’s the pronunciation that eludes them. For example, one of my boys says “hocks” instead of “socks”. When we say, “Ssssssssss-ocks”, he will repeat, “Ssssssss-Hocks”. It makes us chuckle but I still wonder what I can do to help it along. I have been assured that this is all normal. Okay. I can buy that. After all, I can’t imagine he will be meeting his future wife at the altar saying, “I promith to wove, honow and chairwish you . . .” It will change eventually.

Since my other son had a stroke the day after the triplets were born, I figure omega-3 fish oil is probably good for him. There are plenty of articles and blogs on this topic, including information from the respected Dr. Sears. Yet none of the medical professionals our children see could answer my question. How much do I give them? The rationale for not answering was that studies are ‘unpublished’. Eventually I did get the answer. I got it straight from Dr. Mehmet Oz himself when I had the chance to briefly interview him last week.

Dr. Oz is a fast talking, extremely accomplished and knowledgeable man. So I posed the question to him: What doses of Omega 3s are recommend for different ages and what are the benefits? Though he also told me that fish oil studies are as of yet unpublished, the data shows Omega 3s contribute to cognitive memory increase. Clearly this supplement has value. “Omega 3s are wonderfully effective”, says Dr. Oz.”I give them to my kids daily. They are the most important supplement you can take.” Finally!

I searched around on the internet to find a good price and settled on Dr. Sears’ liquid fish oil for kids. I figure I can sneak it into their milk and then watch them and see if any changes are obvious. While I have no idea what to expect, or any idea in what time frame to expect or not expect any changes, I do know that it can’t hurt them. Their toddler language is often unintelligible to me and their math abilities consist of, “I have one and you have one, and I need the one you have so I have more”. I don’t expect them to suddenly speak multiple languages and do algebra. I guess I just hope that it gives them the brain power necessary to overcome being born so premature.

In the meantime, I was happy to hear Dr. Oz’s three simple rules for daily living:

* Stretch every day
* Include a ton of fiber in food to stabilize metabolism
* Have a purpose to what you pursue – when the heart has no reason to beat, it doesn’t

My mind stretches daily from too much worry, I am pretty sure there is no fiber in my non fat lattes, but now I can rest easy that what I am pursuing keeps my heart beating (if slightly too fast).

Crash! Boom! Bang!

My kids keep picking fights with large, inanimate objects, against which they have zero chance of winning a fight. What to do, what to do? I wish I knew. Our pediatrician assures me this is normal behavior for almost two years old. That doesn’t stop me from worrying. My friend Jason was horrified to learn that my kids climb into the window sill. Of course they have to get onto and over a gym mat, a mattress and a couch to get there. But does that stop them? Nooooo! If they decide they want to reach something, they will stack up toys, boxes, whatever they can find, if they are unable to climb up on to do it. Jason asked me if I have 50 heart attacks a day. Close, Jason. Close.

I must say that the time period of being sleep deprived was difficult. I was tired but they weren’t mobile. Taking care of the triplets was by far easier than it is getting to be now. Today my daughter smacked her head twice and slammed a finger under a toy. The first head smack was so bad she immediately developed a one inch, purple and ever growing lump on her forehead. After the initial BOOM against the wall, the shrieking was enough to give me a headache. I carted her off to the doctor who is just five minutes from our house and had her checked out. All good. Back home less than an hour later, she smacked the side of her head. In the very same wall spot as the first crash. More shrieking.

In the meantime, the boys are all over the place. One cannot yet walk, but is in a gait trainer and getting around quite nicely. When he is on the floor, he scoots pretty fast on his bottom using his feet to pull him. I can barely keep up with making sure there are cushions behind him in case he falls over and smacks his head on the tile floor. More worry.

The other little guy has already had stitches in his forehead, and all three of them have scrapes and bruises on their knees and chins from running around in the yard. I know this is normal, but with three of them it just feels like so much all at once. The good news is they are keeping my absurdly low blood pressure at a ‘normal’ rate.

I try to keep it light. If I didn’t I would lose my mind. The underlying stress for me is that one of the boys had a stroke the day after they were born. Despite neurological issues, he is cognitively intact and doing remarkably well! However, every time one of them falls I get huge knots in my stomach for worrying of more head injuries. Not sure if this is a common reaction for parents of stroke kids, but it’s how I feel. Sooo, not good with dwelling on the serious lest I increase my blood pressure that much more. But may I offer you a humorous comment? It’s to the point where I hear my heart going Crash! Boom! Bang! as often and almost as loud as the kids running into each other, the wall, tripping over toys and plowing their way into toddlerhood.

Black Friday

Since were up at 5am anyway, we changed the kids and went to the mall. Yes, we took our one and a half year old triplets to the mall on ‘Black Friday’. Before you tell me we’re crazy, please remember that we have been functioning in a sleep deprived haze since the kids came home. Granted we are getting more sleep these days, but having triplets and a 13 year old, well, it’s all crazy making. So what difference could there really be going to the mall on this, the grandest shopping day of the year? The answer is, none. It was actually tamer for us to have the kids in strollers and wander through the mall than it would have been to stay home and follow our regular breakfast routine.

When I take the kids anywhere, they are usually pretty reserved, whereas, at home, they scream and romp like little banshees on crack. They climb into the window sill, they fight over toys, steal each others’ bottles, and various other energetic activities that leave me breathless and breaking a sweat. Good thing too, because I no longer have time to go to a gym. Anyway, the point is, they are fairly calm in public, and I am happy that it is this way and not the other way around.

So as we ‘braved’ what we expected to be a mob scene, the kids quietly observed the environment, taking in all the shoppers, lights and letting out a steady stream of “Uhhhhhhhh” whenever the strollers went over bumps and tile cracks. Surprisingly, though probably not good for the retailers, the mall was about as busy as a regular Saturday afternoon, except it was 6:45am. Now, I don’t shop much as it is, and if I did I would likely not be doing it in the middle of a crowded weekend afternoon. I would definitely not be doing it at this early hour ANY day. Maybe if I was single, in my 20s or something I would get up that early. But for the life of me at this point in my life, I would not actively choose to get up to go shopping at this hour.

We chuckled as we looked at the checkout lines. Some were a bit long, but the stores were not overcrowded. We didn’t buy anything, but browsing was easy. We often take two strollers out when we go out with all the kids, and it almost feels like we are incognito as people tend not to notice a single baby or what they think are twins. When we go out with our triple stroller it’s as wide as golf cart and hard to miss.

We ambled along, sipping our coffee, took our time, and had fun. It was great people watching, and interesting to see how many people were dressed up, made up and milling around. Lots of teens being dropped off by parents who I would guess went home to go back to sleep. One woman come out of a store with more bags than she could reasonably carry and shuffled off to her car. I wondered aloud if she was dropping them off and going back in for more.

Before we left my husband decided he had to have Chinese food (for breakfast?) and asked me to drive so he could eat it. The kids could smell it and all they had was their milk. Sorry babies. I had zero appetite for Chinese food at 8am, but, to each his own.

On the way home we drove past a furniture store, let me repeat that, a furniture store, where we saw a line that went all the way down the side of the store in the parking lot, and had a police car parked near the door. In case of a fight breaking out? Because the ottoman wars are all too common in the suburbs right? Also because it’s so likely that someone will run out the door with a sofa.

Honestly, this was probably one of the most pleasant shopping experiences I have had in a long time. Of course, we didn’t spend any money, didn’t stand in any lines and we were out the door by 8am. When I shop online at home I can barely make it through scanning a page for anything for all the crying screaming and general mayhem. Hmm, maybe this should be how I shop from now on . . .

From now on when I need a break from the noise, I will consider going to the mall.