Wednesday, August 26, 2009

You Snooze, You Lose

Today I booked the boys birthday party.

I know, I know -- it's still four months away! But, what can I say ... I'm a planner.

At our annual Junior League of Cincinnati Gala this past April, Dan and I bid on and won a party for 40 people at the Cincinnati Fire Museum through the silent auction. So we got a free birthday party plus a tax deduction -- not too shabby!

The only snafu is that the museum is only open from 12noon-4pm. That is smack in the middle of the boys nap time -- yikes!! But, I went ahead and booked it anyway.

What's a nap when you can participate in a "hands-on" bucket brigade, take a turn on an old style hand pumper, ring a fire bell, wail the siren, flash the lights and "drive" to a fire inside a real fire truck cab, and slide down a fire pole?

Honestly, I'm more worried that Hayden will still be saying "Fire $%^&!!!" instead of "Fire Truck!!!" than I am about a missed nap.

When I called this morning, the receptionist told me that someone already had a tentative hold on the date but had not put down a deposit yet. I was BUMMED -- I had really wanted the party to be on the Saturday before the boys birthday so we avoided the upcoming Christmas party schedule crush.

I asked if I could be put on the wait list for the date in case the people didn't put the deposit down, and the receptionist told me that if I put a deposit down now I could have that date. Woo HOO!! I whipped out my credit card so fast.

I kinda feel bad, but like the receptionist said, "You snooze, you lose."

So, now it is off to find fire truck themed birthday invites, decorations, and such!

I just know my friend, Kathy, at Busken is going to be able to do such a cool cake for me! She did our wedding cake, the boys 1st birthday Baby Einstein cake, and Dan's 40th birthday party cake.

I already snatched up a bunch of "Elmo Goes to the Fire Station" books for party gift bags -- any other ideas of what I can put in them? Maybe mini Matchbox fire trucks?

I definitely need to find fire hats for all the kids to wear!

Do you think a dalmatian pinata is overkill? (I love the fact that it talks ... hee hee.)

And moms of multiples ... this is where I really need some advice: How do I handle gifts? I know people are going to be wondering if they should bring a gift for each boy or just one gift for all three? What is the protocol? Part of me thinks that each boy has a birthday so each boy should get a gift, but then I think, "Three gifts! Holy cow, that's a lot to ask of people!"

And a question to all moms ... I know birthday party standards are that the child can invite as many friends as years he is old. That would mean each boy can invite three friends ... that is nine kids right there for a total of twelve kids at the party. Doesn't that seem like too many?

What if the party is for close friends (and their children, of course) and family, and I have a separate birthday thing for the boys at their preschool, too, just for those kids? After all, there are only twelve kids in their preschool class, and they are three of that twelve! (Personally, I find it hilarious that they make up 1/4th of their preschool class!)

Ugh ... I might be an excellent planner, but I'm also a very good worrier!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Blessing of the Backpacks

Today at church was the annual "Blessing of the Backpacks". We were pretty psyched that we got to participate this year since the boys start preschool next month.

The boys were very proud of their Winnie the Pooh backpacks. (These are "props" if you may ... the boys not need real backpacks for preschool this year.)

After the service, our church has a big family festival to celebrate back to school. It was ... a fiasco.

Three crazy toddlers, two parents, and a busy four lane road right next to the festival did not make for a good combination.

But, we stayed for a couple hot dogs, some cookies, and a turn or two in the bounce houses.

First up to try out was the simple train shaped bounce house that had a very small slide. (In these first two pictures, you can see just how close this road was to the festival -- enough to give a mom a heart attack.)

Yeah ... unfortunately, that didn't hold the boys attention very long, so we moved onto the obstacle course bouncer with the really high climbing wall and slide.

All in all, it was a good morning, but I think I might drop a few suggestions to the church for the festival next year -- like having it in the back of the church instead of in front next to the main drag.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Up Close and Personal

Today was PERFECT weather in Cincinnati, so we packed up the boys and headed to the zoo.

The boys love to visit the animals, and since I had my internship there in undergraduate school, I have developed a pretty good system to get us through the zoo quickly while hitting all the "popular" animals yet avoiding the big crowds. Amazingly, I still remember feeding times for certain animals, so we time it to hit the exhibit right when the critters have been fed.

We did our typical stops ... elephants, giraffes, monkeys, lions, gorillas, big cats, tropical birds, etc.

The boys were wearing their alligator shirts, so we made sure to stop by the alligator to say hi.

When we came to the bear exhibits, we were the only ones there. The keeper was still getting the areas ready, and all the bears were up and about.

We got to the polar bear exhibit and were disappointed that there was already a crowd in the underwater viewing area. Two of the polar bears were sleeping, and Icee, my favorite polar bear, was swimming around but didn't seem too interested in anybody and wasn't coming very close to the glass. We almost turned around and headed out, but for some reason we decided to stay.

Once there was a clear spot, we put all three boys up on the cave wall next to the glass. What happened next was utterly cool ... Icee came right over to where the boys were, put her nose up against the glass as to give them a bear kiss, and then swam up the glass wall.

She did this several times, and the crowd around us was itching to get their kids up on the glass wall for their turn with Icee, so we took the boys away so other kids could have a turn.

But as soon as the boys were gone, so was Icee. She swam away and rested on her log. She didn't do the glass wall drive-by for anyone else.

It's probably a fluke, but still a really kickin' cool fluke that the boys loved.

Hmmmm ... maybe we will adopt a polar bear for the boys for their birthday?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Have I Mentioned I Love Puddle Jumpers?

Once again ... best purchase decision EVER!

Yes, that is Tanner and Noel jumping off the diving board with Hayden swimming around the in the deep end of our pool.

Puddle Jumpers have changed our summer completely!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My Own “Sermon on the Mound”

"Don't judge, so that you won't be judged” ... Matthew 7:1

I am so fortunate to belong to one of the coolest groups of women I know called TriState Multiples. We are women who all have triplets or quads. I cannot tell you how awesome it is to be able to talk with other triplet moms who “get it”, “been there, done that”, and a whole bunch of other clich├ęs that are applicable.

TSM has helped me through some very rough times as I evolved as a triplet mommy … bedrest, the NICU, breast feeding, sleep deprivation, developmental milestones, RSV, starting solids, dropping the bottle, discipline, playdates, potty training, etc, etc, etc.

Every question I posed to the group was answered with thoughtfulness and great advice. No matter how stupid my question … and I asked some whoppers! … people gracious responded to my requests with their perspective and ideas.

The great thing was that I got different advice for each question … and I would pick and choose what would work for me and the situation I was in.

Because we all have different parenting techniques.

I don’t know if I have one technique that defines me … I’m a mutt, a hodgepodge of methods. I’ve found some great guidance from Raising Godly Tomatoes, Attachment Parenting, Happiest Baby/Toddler on the Block, and of course, from my fellow triplet moms.

I also pay it forward by answering questions posed by other members of the club. I expect those triplet moms to take what I suggest in the same manner that I give in … with the intent to help and guide, but not to state that my way is the absolute way.

Recently, a triplet mom posed a question about how to stop one of her triplets from biting.

And I posted this response:
“This will NOT be for everyone, but it worked like magic for us.

Hayden started biting and nothing could stop him -- time out, denying treats, Dan even swatted him through pants and a diaper when he bit Noel so hard he broke the skin and made him bleed.
(Yes … we do swat butts when safety is involved like biting or running into the street.)

What finally worked? Tabasco.

I put one, tiny drop on my fingertip and rub it on his bottom lip outer gum, and then put him in time-out. It took only two times and Hayden has not bitten anyone since. In fact, when I was "pretending" to eat Tanner's toes the other day, Hayden came over and said, "No bite, Mommy! Hot mouth and time out for TWO minutes!"

Again, this may not be for everyone, but it worked when nothing else did for us.”

Is it controversial what I posted? Maybe. Is it primitive? Yep. Did it work? Hallelujah, yes.

Did I expect a different, new triplet mom to post this in response:
“That’s horrendous!”

Ummmm … Hells no!

My first inclination when I got this response to my post was, “Meh … she has one month old triplets and is probably sleep deprived. She didn’t really mean to say horrendous – she must have meant to say different – ingenious – interesting.”

After all, a couple of my triplet moms said on my Facebook wall recently, I practically have a fan club of triplet moms. (Thank you, Julie and Trish – that was very sweet to say.)

But then I thought if I were a new mom reading my post, I might have though the same thing as this new mom. I remember bashing my mom when I was a new parent and she told me the story of how she stopped my biting.

Flashback with me to a time 30 years ago to an Air Force base preschool far, far away in Plattsburgh, New York.

There was a boy who kept sticking his finger in my mouth. I told him that if he kept doing it, I was going to bite him. He kept doing it, soooooo … I bit him.

Yes, I was defending myself because ewwwwwww!!! – he was sticking his finger in my mouth!

But, I had been warned before about biting, I still bit him and therefore my parents had to follow through and punish me … by washing my mouth out with soap and then making me sit on the top of the stairs for five minutes with the soap still in my mouth.

I have vivid memories of screaming from the top of the stairs. “You’re killing me!”

What I don’t have memories of are my parents downstairs agonizing over the fact that they HAD to follow through with the soap or else their words would never really have consequences.

Is it controversial what they did? Maybe. Is it primitive? Yep. Did it work? I never bit again.

It was kinda preachy for me to say that my parents were wrong to do what they did because I hadn't experienced what she was speaking about.

Matthew 7:1 works both ways. The new triplet mom shouldn’t judge me on what I suggested, but I shouldn’t judge her on her response either.

I forgot the "support" part of the support group concept … we are there to support and help each other, not to judge each other because it is not what we would do or want to hear.

It’s a universal lesson that is so hard to understand: We all need to be careful not to judge without first understanding.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

He'll Go Stag

Dan and I "teach" Sunday School every third week at our church. I say "teach" because we are currently in the toddler room where all we really teach is God doesn't like it when you eat the crayons.

Anyway, this past weekend we had our pastor's granddaughter in the toddler room with us. "This little girl is so quiet, so gentle, and so well behaved", I thought to myself as I watched my boys throw puzzle pieces across the room while screaming "Elephant has a LONG nose!" at the top of their lungs.

We had an extra large class with 14 toddlers. We tried to make sure our boys were entertained, so we could pay attention to the needs of the other children since we are not as familiar with their cues and signals.

A sure way to entertain Hayden for a long period of time is to give him a fire truck. So, on this busy Sunday School day, I gave Hayden his favorite fire truck to play with while I went and played dolls with the girls.

Foreshadowing: While Hayden is an excellent talker, he is having trouble with his "tr" sounds, especially when it is a two syllable phrase.

Near the end of the class, our pastor's wife walked into check on their dear, sweet, innocent granddaughter. Ironically, it was the exact same time that Hayden choose to scream out, "FIRE TRUCK!"

Only he didn't say truck ...

He said the mother of all swear words ... and very loudly at that.

Thankfully, everyone just kinda ignored it and went about their business.

Hayden really doesn't know it's a bad word ... he just really likes to talk about trucks.

"Big truck coming!"

"Get the truck out!"

"Big truck ... no honk!"

I actually have him on video saying all these phrases -- I'm looking forward to threatening to showing it to his prom date as blackmail.

One thing I am very sure of ... our pastor's granddaughter won't be his prom date.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Okay, Now I Feel Old.

I've always considered myself "in shape", and dang good for having triplets, actually!

Well, at least I don't get winded walking up a flight of stairs, and I can hide my muffin top very well with strategically paired skirts and tops.

But, I have to bow down to the master.

My awesome father is about 25 years my senior ... after running the Flying Pig Marathon for a couple of years, he has moved on.

Now he does triathalons. Triathalons ... you know swim, bike, AND run.

Triathalons make people with those little 26.2 stickers on their cars look like sissies.

Last weekend Dad ran a triathalon over in Indiana. He came in 67th out of over 450 people in swimming. That's insane!

He ended up coming in the first 1/2 of all finishers and fourth -- FOURTH! -- in his age group. Are you kidding me?

I'd still be trying to get up the first hill of the biking part (assuming that I actually made it out of the water after the swimming section).

This would so be where I would end up.

Rock on, Dad!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

We're Famous!

Well, no, not really.

But we did make the front page, first headline of the Saturday Cincinnati Enquirer!

I was interviewed on how I felt about having the boys participate in the H1N1 vaccine clinical trial here at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center -- we are trying to get the boys into the study.

Crickets chirping ...

I know many Moms out there are wondering what the heck am I thinking. Well, here is what I am thinking ...

Dan and I are scientists by education and training, and we have done much research into vaccines and the safety of clinical trials.

My husband even worked for a company which conducts clinical trials, and he now works for a company that is involved with vaccine production.

In my job with the school district, I am part of their District Incident Management Team. Our district has worked extensively with the city, state, and federal government to be prepared for a pandemic flu long before H1N1.

Knowing how potentially devastating a pandemic flu could be, I feel that our participation in a clinical trial is our way of helping to protect millions of people. And hopefully protect my sons as an added bonus.

Honestly, I am more fearful of my sons being harmed in a car accident to and from the church than I am from side effects of a vaccine clinical trial.

That being said, I will only have my children participate in the NIH sponsored clinical trial for this vaccine at Children's Hospital. I feel extremely comfortable with NIH, Children's Hospital, and the particular vaccine producers for that trial.

And I will only have the boys in the study after I have seen the Patient Information Sheet that would state if the vaccine type is attenuated, acellular, or inactivated, and if there are any adjuvants such as squalene, thimerosal, or alum in the vaccine. These facts will weigh heavily into our decision to participate.

As we continue to gather information to make an informed decision, we are also still actively weighing the risks and benefits.

When the paper decided to use us in the story, they sent out a photographer to take a bunch of pictures for the article. They ended up just running the straight story with no pictures, but the boys still loved meeting the photographer and playing with her camera. She was such a good sport.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

But Who's Counting?

Only 142 days, 14 hours, and 48 minutes until it's Christmas!


I'm actually pretty set for the boys ... thanks, Target Summer Toy Clearance Sale!!

But, I think I found one of the BEST ideas for gifts I have seen in a long time for people over the age of three. I'm sure I blogged, Facebooked, or Twittered about it before, but I had to post it again.

It's called "Rent Mother Nature".

The concept is simple: The company sets up a lease agreement between you and local farmers of various food products. You are then guaranteed a minimum yield of the product you choose.

The farmers send you pictures and progress reports of how your particular rental is doing.

You can rent a Pistachio tree for nuts, a coffee tree for beans, a beehive for honey, a lobster trap for fresh lobsters, and even a berry patch for jars of homemade jam!

I have so many friends and family that are at that point in their lives where they just don't need any more stuff. I thought this was a fun and different idea that also helps support local farmers and growers.

I might even lease a Vermont cow for the boys ... I think they would get a kick out of knowing that they "own" a cow (plus we get three wheels of cheddar or brie). Then maybe when they get older, we could go to Vermont and visit our cow.

I guess we could always simply adopt the boys an animal from the Cincinnati Zoo. That's a hard decision for me -- I interned at the Cincinnati Zoo as an undergrad and came away with mixed emotions about zoos.

I became very, very attached to Alex, my baby Fennic Fox ... Penny, my Potto ... Mama, my Slender Loris ... and Scooter, my Aye-Aye.

But THAT is a story for another day.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

PSA for Parents of Triplets

The daunting first year of parenting triplets definitely includes but is not limited to:

... feeding and/or changing three babies every three hours

... weekly trips to the (fill in the blank) medical specialist

... slapping away a random stranger's hands when they want to touch your babies to see if they are "real"

... struggling with CIO (cry-it-out) to get them to sleep through the night

... creating a maze in your house with baby gates

... baby proofing cabinets-doors-etc with contraptions that would keep even a seasoned burglar out of your home, but can't seem to keep three toddlers out

... dodging unwanted sippy cups as they are hurtled at your forehead amongst screams for their "milky bottle"

... and them learning to climb out of their cribs.

The last challenge of that first year actually gives you options: crib tents or toddler beds. This is the quandary we faced when the boys started scaling their cribs and running down the halls during nap and bed times.

With one toddler, you can move them to a toddler bed and convince them to stay there with a couple days practice.

Or you can turn their crib upside down on top of them like my in laws did with my husband.

But with three, it becomes increasing difficult to get all three toddlers to stay in their bed for any length of time more than a nanosecond. They tend to follow the two codes of multiples: "Monkey See, Monkey Do" and The Wonder Pets philosophy of "Teamwork".

(I wish I could insert the picture of Hayden holding the kitchen stool while Noel climbed up the stool onto the counter and then handed the prized cookies on the counter to Tanner to demonstrate this "Teamwork" thing, but I was too busy trying to chase the boys down to recapture the cookies to grab my camera.)

Essentially, if one gets out, they ALL want out ... and they will work together to make it happen.

So unless you have three spare bedrooms hanging around ... Buh-bye, nap time! Hello, cranky and overly-tired boys!

So, on the seventh day, God invented crib tents. And it was good.

Crib tents?

"Like, you crate your babies?", as my husband's boss put it so tactfully.

Yup -- we crate them. But we think of it more like camping for toddlers. Here's tent city at our house.
They boys LOVE their crib tents ... so much so that when something goes wrong with a crib tent, it can be damaging to your ear drums.

Which brings me to my two-part PSA about crib tents.

(1) If you choose that crib tents are right for you, there is a company called Tots in Mind that will give you a 'Buy Two, Get One Free' deal. I recommend going with the Crib Tent II, but there is an early version still available as well.

(2) If your crib tent ... oh, I don't know ... gets a hole in it from 'Finding Nemo' keys being poked through the mesh, or gets torn on the side from 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' book being shoved through it, or the zipper gets caught and broken because "I want to do it!" one too many times, the company will replace your crib tent FOR FREE! That's the kind of warranty I wish I had on all baby and toddler products. Hello, Nuby sippy cup company, are you listening?

(I actually love Nuby cups, I just don't like having to replace the silicone straws once a month from my boys using them as teething soothers for their 4-year molars.)

Last night, Tanner's crib tent zipper broke. And it was like the world was coming to an end. Hayden is not so picky about being zipped up, so we did a quick crib switch-a-roo (because pinning Tanner's crib tent with safety pins was NOT "zippered up", as we were told by Tanner at the top of his lungs over and over and over again).

I immediately emailed Tots in Mind and our crib tent replacements should be here by Saturday.

And that's music to my ears.