Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Things the Books Don't Tell You

When I was pregnant for the first time, I went out and bought all the books about what to expect from my infants that would soon grow into toddlers and then preschoolers. Well, maybe my cheap self just spent lots of time in Barnes and Noble reading all the books without buying them, but doesn't everyone do that? Anyway, I liked to read the books that would tell you what to expect at each stage of development. You know, so you could know what to be looking for and things like that. Things like rolling over, sitting, and walking all happened during their requisitioned times and I admit I felt pretty smug knowing exactly what my little triplet terrors were going to do next. No way were they going to surprise me with something totally out of the blue that I wasn't ready for, no sir-ee Bob. But, despite all my careful preparation, I was blindsided. Once those little buggers started opening their mouths and intelligible words started coming out, I was doomed. Gone was my world of predictable milestones  and time lines. I now entered every public situation cautiously, unable to predict what my little trio might do or say at any time. Life became ....


For those of you who know me and my love of control, you can see the shudders coursing through my body as I read the capitalized word above. There is nothing I loathe more than being out of control. Luckily, I serve a God with a sense of humor and he chose to give me, the Queen of Planning and Control, four children in under 17 months. If that doesn't force you to give up control to the One who really IS in control, nothing will. Anyway, I am reminded of my not-in-control-ness every day by the sporadic and unforeseeable episodes that riddle my life. So, without further ado, here are a few examples of the things the books don't tell you will happen - the random, every day occurrences that have become the screenplay of my life.

You will have to talk to your children WAY earlier than you think about certain unmentionable body parts. I thought this stuff wasn't going to happen until years down the road, but I was totally floored when it surfaced before age two. All I can say is to know in advance what you are going to call certain body parts and be completely comfortable with that terminology because your children will undoubtedly be saying those choice words every day. Very loudly. In very public places.

Your children will need help doing the strangest things. I anticipated the booty wiping after the potty and cutting up all of their food into tiny morsels (Anyone know when that ends? Because I think I'm developing carpal tunnel from the constant fork and knife gripping), but some things just throw me for a loop. For example, I spent half of lunch time last week trying to pick a piece of apple out of Sam's teeth that he insisted was there and that I absolutely could not see. However, he simply would not take another bite until it was gone to his satisfaction. I think I used 25 yards of floss (as well as a fork prong and the pointy end of a toy fire truck ladder) trying to get it out.

Your children will be afraid of the strangest things. I was all prepared (via my books, of course) to comfort them when they started having nightmares and visions of monsters in their closets, but that never happened. Instead, I have one child who is afraid of the electric mixer, one who is afraid of any dog under 15 pounds, and one who started crying hysterically yesterday because, as she put it, "The lights were going to get her!"

Here's Adah the moment she heard me say "mixer."

You must be very, VERY careful what you say around toddlers and preschoolers because you never know when they will actually begin to take you literally. Peyton, in particular, is our literalist. I have now successfully made her terrified of parking lots because one time (ONE time people) I told her that a truck would run her over if she didn't hold my hand in the parking lot. I'm sweet, I know - but I was lugging a 30 pound baby and trying to get all of them across the street in one piece, etc, etc. She now has started shrieking if any vehicle comes within 100 feet of us and one time almost ran into oncoming traffic while trying to avoid one of these cars that was "out to get her." Nice. Glad the books warned me on that  one.

So, basically, all I can say is that reading those developmental books are great up until about the end of year one. After that, you may as well toss them out the window. I've started to figure that there must be so many development books out there because absolutely no one really knows what they are talking about. No book was there to warn me about the fear of lights or having a child who refused to poop for a week, so I guess I just have to go at it on my own. Maybe I'll write my own book one day to join the multitudes that are already out there. My working title is: "The Unknown World of Raising Toddlers: Mommy, I have a  _____  (insert choice reproductive organ title HERE)!" What do you think?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Picture of the Week - September 26

I wanted to try and start a tradition of capturing and posting a "picture of the week" on this blog. I want this picture to simply be a moment or emotion that I want to remember from the week. Something that made me or someone in my family feel something significant, a facial expression I don't want to forget, or an image I want to remember forever. The images don't necessarily have to be monumental, they just have to elicit emotions and memories that I don't want to forget.

The first shipment of pumpkins have arrived at our local grocery store and Luke was very eager to check them out. He refers to them as "apples", but that's what he calls any type of fruit these days!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Jackets, Picnics, and a Clean Car

Aren't lazy weekends sometimes the most fun ones of all? We definitely had one of those this past weekend. Nothing of much substance going on (besides football, of course), but it was so fun just hanging out, playing, and relaxing together with our family.

As has been customary lately, the weather was absolutely gorgeous. It still gets pretty warm once the afternoons roll around, but since there is no humidity it's not bad at all. And the mornings ... oh the mornings!! My husband and I fight over who gets to walk outside to get the paper every morning so we can just stand out there for a while and enjoy the cool air. We spent Saturday morning outside and enjoyed the great weather. There is nothing better than sitting outside in your sweatpants, drinking a cup of coffee, reading the paper, and watching your kids run around and play. We could have stayed out there for hours ... well, I guess we did! Fall is definitely my favorite season. I can't wait for the apple festivals, pumpkin picking, tailgating in the cool weather ... everything about it is fabulous (I don't use that word much, but there is nothing else to describe it!).

Here's some evidence of the cooler weather (notice the jackets!)

Peyton working on her Strong Woman title she is preparing to defend next month ...

I think we ate more meals outside than inside this weekend!

Sine we couldn't get enough of the great outdoors, we decided a picnic was in order as well. Next thing you know we'll be living out of a camper trying to set the world record for consecutive hikes up and down the Appalachian trail. OK, maybe we're not that crunchy, but we did have our fair share of granola going on this weekend.

Of course, we were never too far removed from civilization. What you fail to see just to the right of the picture above is our new friend that we must take everywhere, even on a picnic in the great outdoors. Here, I'll show you the same picture from a different angle.

There he is!! Our friend the potty. Good thing he is nice and portable and has an easy-to-empty feature. I am hoping that dumping his contents into the dirt doesn't teach the kids any bad habits (it was just #1, so relax). Plus, I always kinda enjoy having the potty along for myself ... you know, just in case. It gives me an added piece of mind. I haven't had to use it yet, but I definitely would if needed. I have been caught in way too many situations in my life where I needed a potty and there was none to be found, so believe me that I would use it in a heartbeat if the situation necessitated it!

Sunday rolled around with some more gorgeous weather and after church we again decided to take advantage. I gladly accepted my husband's offer for some free slave labor help to wash my car. The kids were more than happy to don their bathing suits and help out. Sure, they may have only washed one square foot of car between the four of them, but that was one square foot less that Matt had to wash.

All the cars ended up getting a good scrubbing including the mini-Mercedes and the Cozy Coupe. Sam took a lot of pride in the job he did on "his" cars.

Sam also helped Matt wash the roof of the van. Don't worry, I was dancing around the edge of the car as he was up there acting as his spotter. I mainly wanted to add this picture because of the background. Do you see the tree behind Sam in the picture? See what color the leaves are?

That's right folks, those are some RED leaves! I am so excited to live where the leaves change! Not looking forward to raking them up so much, but I think the prettiness will make up for it. Can't you just smell the pumpkin spices and hear the crunching leaves right now? OK, I'm a freak about the fall stuff, but just let this Florida girl have her moment please.

Of course we finished up the evening with a little dinner outside and then we paid our slaves little helpers in the only way they see monetarily fit at their age ...

Needless to say, they were happy with their compensation!

Hope your weekend was as FABULOUS as ours!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Picture of the Week - September 19

I wanted to try and start a tradition of capturing and posting a "picture of the week" on this blog. I want this picture to simply be a moment or emotion that I want to remember from the week. Something that made me or someone in my family feel something significant, a facial expression I don't want to forget, or an image I want to remember forever. The images don't necessarily have to be monumental, they just have to elicit emotions and memories that I don't want to forget.

Sometimes you just need a Diet Coke ...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Potty Wars

Luke is confused ...

Why are there are suddenly so many dang potties in his house! There are two in the bedroom, one in the playroom, and there's a funny looking seat on the one in the bathroom. And why is his Mommy always talking about going "potty" and keeping our pants dry? Luke thinks his tushie feels pretty darn dry when enveloped by his ultra-absorbent diaper that makes it impossible for him to feel wet even when his diaper is sagging far enough to be mistaken as a third leg.

His consensus: Potties are overrated ... for now, at least.

Mom's Update:
After being at it for a week, Peyton is officially potty trained! Excuse my excitement, but I was so happy to get at least one kid trained. For some reason I was somewhat anxious over having to train the triplets all at once, so the one-kid-at-a-time philosophy is working best for me. Peyton has got it down (almost too much ... she tends to have to "go" every 10-15 minutes) and is happy to be such a big girl!

After 5 days (I started him a couple days after Peyton), Sam is about 90% potty trained. We still have an accident here and there, but for the most part he understands what he's supposed to do. Both he and Peyton have gone for 2 days at school with no accidents! You don't understand what a relief it is to show up at school to pick them up and everyone is still wearing the same clothes I dropped them off in!! I know it sounds small, but it's a big deal for me. We have officially gone from diapers straight to underwear, which was my goal (Pull-ups are super-expensive ... way more than diapers!).

Adah is next. I have a feeling she may be pretty tough though because when I ask her if she wants to go on the potty and wear big girl underwear, she looks at me, thinks, and says, "No, I'm still too little." Nice try honey. I'm hoping she'll fall under the spell of M&M's, chips, and other forms of food bribery that worked with the first two. Fingers crossed ...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Summer Days, Driftin' Away

School has begun here in North Carolina and that means that summer is over. Even the weather has gotten the memo and provided us with low humidity, low 80's during the day, and high 50's at night (I can hear my Florida friends and family gasping as they read that). If we have to endure some snow and ice in the winter, the least Mother Nature can do is give us a break from the humidity as the calendar turns to September!

Anyway, we tried to soak up those last few summer days with some fun. The kids and I took many trips to the park, ice cream shop (or is it shoppe? - Sounds too high end for me), and the Y. I guess the Y isn't exactly a "fun" summertime destination, but the kids did spend more days there in the summer because they weren't in school! One of our favorite outings is always Reynolda Gardens. It's such a beautiful place and we're so lucky to live right around the corner. We always have such a great time inspecting the new flowers and gardens and splashing around in the fountains.

Isn't it beautiful? This is the Children's Garden section ...

We love traipsing around the paths (or through the plants, but who's watching, right?) and "smelling" (read: "picking") the flowers. My kids are serious flower stalkers. The inside of my van is littered with dried up flowers that they have picked and stashed in their car seats for safe keeping.

The groundskeepers at Reynolda were also generous enough to line their garden paths with lots and lots of very fine dirt. My washing machine thanks you, groundskeepers.

As previously stated, my kids are masters at finding any bodies of water. Thankfully no one fell in (this time).

I am just noticing the sign behind Adah in the previous picture. I'm pretty sure we didn't follow many of the rules that day. I'll chalk it up to the kids' illiteracy at this point in their lives. I may have a hard time claiming the same excuse for myself though.

We did take a little time-out to practice our acrobatics along the way as well. Nothing goes together like a forward roll on a slab of concrete.

We cooled off after our jaunt in (yet another) fountain. The kids entertained themselves by diving for pennies and I got to take a nice rest in the shade. Sounds like a win-win to me!

Just last weekend Matt took the kids down to Charlotte for a fun day with Mimi, Ken, Bogey, and Marmee. They had a blast visiting the Nature Museum. I'm not really sure what was happening in this picture at the museum, but I love that Adah looks like she is seriously tattling on Luke. Can't wait for THAT to start soon ....

After lunch there was a lot of fun to be had at the park. Give my kids a couple swings and a slide and they'll be pretty happy.

The park they went to in Mimi's neighborhood has a neat splash area in it. So cool! I want to live in this neighborhood! I don't see any adults in Matt's pictures of the splash area though, so does that mean I wouldn't be allowed in?

Apparently they got pretty wet (no kidding) and Sam took off his shirt because it was soaked. Peyton decided that SHE wanted to take HER shirt off too, so her request was obliged. I guess if we let Sam wear princess dress-up clothes with the girls then we can let Peyton take off her shirt with the boys. I just hope this desire of hers rectifies itself within the next couple of years. I don't want Joe Francis and Girls Gone Wild knocking on my door in the near future.

And what could be a more perfect ending to a day of fun in the sun than a good old-fashioned Rocket Pop? The answer ... Nothing, my friends. Simply nothing is better than that.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Picture of the Week - September 12

I wanted to try and start a tradition of capturing and posting a "picture of the week" on this blog. I want this picture to simply be a moment or emotion that I want to remember from the week. Something that made me or someone in my family feel something significant, a facial expression I don't want to forget, or an image I want to remember forever. The images don't necessarily have to be monumental, they just have to elicit emotions and memories that I don't want to forget.

Someone has discovered his shadow ...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


With how many pictures I take, outtakes are inevitable. I am of the philosophy that the more pictures you take, the more chances you have to get some good ones. I used to delete these pictures, but now I've started to laugh at them and save them. Sometimes the best pictures are the ones that didn't turn out as planned. Here are a few of the PALS best outtakes from the last year or so.

Drool. It ruined many a picture of mine over the last couple of years. Luckily we have passed out of drool stage, but there was a time when it literally marred every one of my pictures.

For some reason Sam always finds the most out of place thing in any situation and manages to turn it into something phallic. I am attributing this to the "boy humor" he will be sure to have in the future that concerns all things bathroom-related (why are all boys like this?).

There's something about my kids and food that just screams outtake. Here they are about to take out their dad while trying to get at their birthday cake. Notice the looks of surprise on the faces of the those in the background (whether it's shock at the kids' super-human strength in almost pushing their dad over or from surprise at their appalling behavior, we'll never know).

Apparently we need to teach them (mostly Peyton) better table manners as well.

Just say no to ... you know the age-old joke.

This is what happens when one of my kids gets out of line (kidding, kidding). I swear this was the result of a legit fall outside.


Of course, most outtakes really don't have any logical explanation. They are what they are.

So next time you take what you think is a "bad" picture, make sure not to delete it so quickly. You'll probably find that those are the pictures you look back on and laugh at the most!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Picture of the Week - September 6

I wanted to try and start a tradition of capturing and posting a "picture of the week" on this blog. I want this picture to simply be a moment or emotion that I want to remember from the week. Something that made me or someone in my family feel something significant, a facial expression I don't want to forget, or an image I want to remember forever. The images don't necessarily have to be monumental, they just have to elicit emotions and memories that I don't want to forget.

Yes, I know it's late, but I figured the long weekend gave me an excuse. Plus, I wasn't going to ask Matt to post a picture when he was up to his eye balls in diapers and sippy cups this past weekend (though he should get a standing ovation for managing to post a "guest blog" while he was alone).

While downloading some picture today from my old, forgotten camera (the one that stays in my purse in case I forget the monstrosity that is the Canon Rebel), I found a cute picture of the triplets. This is from about 6 months ago, but I thought all of their faces were hysterical. I wonder how many years it will take until we can get a picture with everyone looking at the camera (much less smiling) at the same time.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Man v. Toddler, Part I

This is the first guest entry in the history of this blog, although I'd say it's a stretch to be referred to as a guest - I am, after all, the dad.  As Joanne has mentioned in some previous entries, August is my busiest time of year.  Working in a college environment, that's to be expected I guess.  So back in July, when I was supposedly thinking straight, I gave Joanne a plane ticket to Jacksonville for her birthday.  It was my weak attempt to "compensate" for all of my time away from home in August.  Joanne left Thursday night and will get back on Monday afternoon. So that's 96 hours of dad time with the hard can it be, right?  No sooner did Joanne board the plane when I realized this was war: Man v. Toddler.

If you've ever seen the Travel Channel's Man v. Food, you know that each episode, Adam Richman battles a food challenge, with the result being either "Man Wins," or "Food Wins." I realized that my life for the next four days would be eerily similar to Adam's conquests.

There is no rest for the weary men in this house.  Day 1 of my adventure brought a significant challenge - the first day of school.  Seriously, this is like getting called up from the minors and to pitch a road game against Nolan Ryan (sorry all, say goodbye to the reality TV analogies, this is my post).  Is this fair? I went to "meet the teacher" day a few days ago to get the lay of the land.  The kids love their teacher and classroom, so I'm feeling much better after the walk-through.  In our house, I take care of breakfast for the kids, so this morning, I'm pretty much in my wheelhouse. Joanne set out the kids clothes the night before (Not sure if she was really being a caring wife or if she was fearful how I would dress them). It's 8:00am, we're fed and changing diapers, putting shoes on, the whole bit.  I am cruising through this thing.  Then, I meet my nemesis:

The dreaded rubber band.  This thing strikes fear in the hearts of least on the same level as watching Oprah. At first, I panic.  I've got Peyton in front of the mirror, and my hands seize up.  I send her back down and bring up Sam for a confidence boost.  Nothing like a classic hair part to get my head back in the game. I decide against starting with Peyton.  My logic - the longer the hair, the steeper the problem. Adah's up first for the great hair bow brigade.  My first attempt:

Well, 'nough said on that one.  The voices of doubt are getting louder, and the clock is ticking.  C'mon Clifford, you can tie a neck tie, this is like the same thing, except 1/100th the size and made of titanium-reinforced rubber.  Attempt #2:

Epic fail. Time is progressing at an exponential rate.  I can't call Joanne after she's been gone for 12 hours and tell her I couldn't even get them out the door for school.  So I dig deep, pour through all my mental and physical faculties when it comes to me.  Why didn't I think of this earlier - the barrette!  This thing was made for guys...I mean, it's basically a paperclip for hair.  Even I can do this.  So, no bow for the girls, but they did get to school looking beautiful, as usual:

So, in this showdown of Man v. Toddler...toddler wins!