Friday, September 21, 2012

Tongue Twisters: September 21, 2012

On the way to the Splash Pad on Tuesday Melina figured out how to shimmy her chest buckle down to her waist, shuck off her shoulder straps, and inch her way out of her infant seat using her heels as leverage.  I looked in my rear view mirror and saw her stand up and reach for the ceiling and had to pull over.  The girls are a few pounds shy of the weight limit of an infant seat, but I still decided to move them up to their convertible seats this week.  Here's a peek inside the remodeled second row of our Toyota Sienna.  Melina hasn't attempted any more escapes, although I can't say she's shown similar restraint in her exersaucer, high chair, Combi stroller, or little red wagon. 

Melina sits in the middle.  She's still the lightest and easiest to hoick up into the middle seat.  If Devon decides to engage in sibling rivalry behavior while safely buckled out of Mommy's reach, Melina is also capable of defending herself.

One more year and I'll have three in front-facing car seats.  I'll open the doors and let the kids climb in their seats by themselves and wait for me to help buckle them.

I have one two-year-old and two one-year-olds.

I can't say it five times fast.  Can you?

Devon has finally warmed up to his Magna Doodle.  He loves to sit with Mommy in the comfy chair and watch her draw pictures.  This time he asked for "Mommy, Ba-Weeners and the OTHER Ba-Weeners!"

It's a fairly accurate rendition of us walking into church, although the smiling stick figure at my side usually decides that he "needs hugs" and Daddy carries him.

Last Sunday after church I popped into Devon's classroom to talk to his teacher.  When Craig came out of the baby room with a girl on each arm, he was mistakenly told I had left.  He reached the car, extracted his keys, opened the door, and buckled the girls safely in without dropping anybody.  I was impressed when Devon and I walked up a minute later.

After Sunday dinner we realized that to accomplish all this he'd had to drop the diaper bag in the parking lot, and forgot to retrieve it before we drove away. 

Looking back on this week's pictures I realize that both the girls are officially walking!  The last time I remember Melina crawling was at a weekend birthday party at the Fort Pierce Causeway. 

When we dangled her feet in the inlet Melina plunked down and started crawling.  I walked beside her as she went deeper, the water swirling around her shoulders and then her ears, lifting her scrawny rear end.  As her head went under I grabbed my sputtering girl and took her back to a safer depth.  Lesson learned: none of the kids went too deep again.

The girls made silly faces when they tasted the salty water.

Craig and I took turns wading with the girls and following Devon as he ran three circles around everyone and everything like a Family Circus cartoon.

This is Melina's recent favorite thing to do: folding her skinny legs indian-style and hunkering down in the drum.  Carrie and Devon are skeptical yet tolerant.

"Meeners is in Bum the Drum again!" Devon tattles.

She quickly decided she couldn't fit the lid on top of herself... she settled for bringing lots of toys in with her.  When she tired of the game and climbed out, she left a teacup, a plastic orange slice and Little People polar bear.  She was sitting on them like eggs waiting to hatch.

Carrie has discovered her tummy.  She loves walking around the house with her fingers in her belly button, ruffly pants exposed.  Two weeks ago she went into her room and chose her shoes from the shoe basket that holds her pink ones and Devon's white ones.  She presented them to me triumphantly and said "Shoes!"-- her first word!

Since then I often find her walking around the house with a shoe in each hand, saying "Shoos!  Shoos!"  I'm not sure if she just likes items of clothing or sets of things that match.  After the kids get up from their naps and drink their sippies-- I call it "happy hour"-- she collects up all three sippies and walks around triumphantly.  Sometimes her hands get too full of things and she loses her balance.  She's sporting a shiner on the top of her right cheek because she overbalanced while carrying squeezie bear, starfish, and a cup of Cheerios and bumped her head on the wall.

This is Melina's teething face.

This is Carrie's. The girls are getting their upper molars, so evenings have been loud and bedtimes pushed way back.  They can't seem to get comfortable.  Nothing makes them smile like a pink dropper full of Children's Tylenol.  I've been pondering the implications of raising a generation of addicts.

Carrie fell asleep at midnight on Monday after Mommy gave up on a reasonable bedtime and took her to Walmart at 10:15 to grocery shop with the crazies.  This picture was taken right before we put her down and Melina popped up in the crib next to her, bright-eyed and ready for a three hour fussfest.

Meeners isn't the only one who gets overwhelmed and feels the need to catch a nap in the middle of the day.  It's cold comfort that the girls are getting enough sleep if they do it in shifts and Mommy stays up with them around the clock.  I used to call this tag-teaming.  When in college I took longer naps than some nights of sleep I've had this week.

 I'm tiring quickly (no pun intended) of the sleep deprived fog that wrecks my normal brain function.  Last Wednesday after cooking the pasta I turned the gas burner all the way right to "low" instead of all the way left to "off".  I figured it out the next morning when the empty pasta pot I'd left on the stove overnight felt warm to the touch when I picked it up to wash it out. 

Every once in a while things ease up and I'm able to get one or two seven hour stretches of sleep or work in a nap in the afternoon.  When I do, I sometimes wonder what challenge ahead I'm resting up for.  I usually find out a few hours later.  God gives me what I need when I need it.

Sometimes what I really need is the kindness of strangers, like the pastor's wife who rescued our diaper bag from the church parking lot.  Kind people surround me whenever I am out with the kids: doors magically open, the cashier at Chick-fil-A jumps over the counter to follow me to a seat with our kids meals, and the checker chases me out the door with a bag of groceries I forgot to put back in the cart.

My friends watch out for me, too.  On Wednesday I buckled the girls into the car after dropping Devon off at "school" and drove away, leaving the Combi stroller sitting empty in the parking lot.  Half a block away I glanced in the rear view mirror and realized my mistake.  I circled back to see my friend Erika wheeling it inside to keep it safe for me.

People always wonder "how we do it."

We just do.

Some days we make it look easy, and others we just manage to get our family of five safely home.  We've left a stroller and a diaper bag, but we've never left anyone behind.  That's the answer to the question we hear people whispering after us.

We remember the important things.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Spontaneous Regeneration: September 16, 2012

Page 54 of Mark Kurlansky's new book The Big Oyster: Heroes on the Half Shell details the misguided efforts of New York fishermen to protect the area's marvelous oyster beds from their worst natural enemy.  Whenever their harvests brought up starfish they'd remove them, cut them into pieces, and fling them back in the water.

Much later the oystermen learned they were unintentionally producing a population explosion.   Each part of a starfish cut in half regrows its missing parts.  They even split themselves up deliberately when threatened.  Today we learn about spontaneous regeneration in seventh grade science.  It's hard  to imagine the befuddlement of those well-meaning seamen whose efforts didn't seem to be working.

I can empathize.

Devon is closing in on 2 1/2. A few months ago I promised myself to never use a certain "t" word often associated with this age to describe my son or life with him on my blog.  That's okay. I've been getting a lot of practice "letting my 'yes' be yes and my 'no' no" so I'll keep that promise.

But here's the thing: I'm an English major. I have a thesaurus. Lots of words mean pretty much the same thing.  Challenging.  Frustrating.  Discouraging.  Sometimes I look up from a thirty minute power struggle over breakfast and wish my parenting didn't feel so adversarial. It probably doesn't have to be if I just stop creating more problems.

I'm ashamed to admit: I've been cutting up the starfish.  

It's difficult to realize that a master manipulator moved into my house about six weeks ago and I never even noticed.  I kept making breakfasts and filling sippy cups while my son was learning how to play me like a well-tuned violin.

Devon ignored Mommy's command to stop climbing over the side of The Pen and wait until she could open the door for him.  He executed a triple flip as he went over the side and fell on his Radio Flyer tyke bike.  Devon cried because his shoulder hurt and Mommy cried over the two pieces of the special tyke bike that all the kids had in their one-year-old pictures.

Last week at the library Devon decided to run away from Mommy to see what she would do.

Family walks haven't been too much fun because our one child who is old enough to walk for himself fights like a squirrel when we hold his hand.

When given a request and expected to comply Devon's face goes blank.  He stares back with cool, distracted interest.  What?

Poor kid, I thought.  He just doesn't understand me yet. 

I honestly believed a kid who can delight his entomologist father by pointing at a beetle and saying "Scarabidae!" on a walk could not understand what his mother means when she says "Devon, come here!" 

I gave him the benefit of the doubt.  Always an overachiever, I really outdid myself in this respect.  I moved into denial like it was a state in the union. My early tentative skirmishes with the strength of my son's will were weak and ineffective snips at his disobedience, behavior that deserved my quick and decisive intervention.

This week I finally started to contemplate his blank look and notice other things: the subtle set of the chin, the sly crook of his right eyebrow, and the firm resolution of his mouth.  One day I called his bluff.

"Devon, come here!" I said mildly.

Devon ran the other way.

 I explained what it means to come when called in terms a two-year-old can understand.  We practiced.  When he "didn't get it", I disciplined him.

The wave of opposition that totally knocked me head over heels was proof that he already understood me.  He just didn't want to obey.

I've been letting him get away with a lot.  More than I care to admit.  Just like Devon, I'm having to deal with the consequences of my own actions.  Like the New York fishermen I was cutting up the starfish and tossing them back in, hoping to see results.

I let him refuse a dinner he is capable of enjoying and then successfully beg crackers an hour later.

I let him stare at me uncomprehendingly and sing the "Clean Up Everybody" song while I alone picked up his toys.

Every time he said something to me that seemed a bit disrespectful but I was just too tired to call him on it. 

Snip.  Snip.  Plink.  Plink.

I taught for eight years.  I read Dare to Discipline to help me deal with my students.  When they acted up, I'd blame their parents and vow that my unborn children would act better. 

It used to really irritate me when parents would ask me if I was a parent and then come back with "Well, then you can't possibly understand!"  That was no excuse for how their children behaved in my class, but they were right.  I didn't understand.  For years I assumed that the real-life experience I was getting in the classroom would prepare me for parenting, making me into some kind of future superparent.  Then the clock would strike four and I'd go home, put on clean clothes, eat an uninterrupted meal with my husband, and plan an evening of discretionary time.  I was far removed from the fourteen-hours-a-day realities of conquering the will and shaping the character of someone who totally outmatches me in energy and completely lacks impulse control. 

Now is the time to get my act together.  Sometimes I see "times two" floating magically over Devon's head as he dangles his feet over the edge of the time out chair, camping out as close as possible to the line I have drawn for him without crossing it and bringing on more discipline.  I've got one two-year-old for six more months.  On the horizon I see a distant but approaching four month period I've already dubbed "THE EYE OF THE STORM," where I have two one-year-olds and one three-year-old.  (Children are no respecters of calendar and I have no guarantee that ANYBODY will be acting well, but I cling firmly to my delusions and refuse to dwell on the challenges of tomorrow.)  Then I've got another year of two-year-olds, and if I believe anything my friends tell me the girls will each test my authority in completely new ways, rendering all I've learned completely useless.

They're getting an education watching big brother.  Devon even uses affection as a power play.  I try to cuddle with him in the chair each morning. He jumps down and grabs my hand.  We run excitedly through the house for an hour and a half.  Then the girls wake up and take my undivided attention.  Suddenly he dissolves into tears and climbs into my lap.  "Need hugs!  Need hugs!"

"Devon, I love you, I'm here for you, and it is my job to inform you that you are NOT THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE!" I say in exasperation.  I move him to the booster so I can finish feeding the girls their oaties.  He whines back his disagreement.

As my back is turned, Carrie and Melina confer.

"Silly Devon," says Melina, grabbing the forgotten bowl of oaties and sticking her hand in it.

"Yes," counters Carrie as she grabs Melina's sippy so she can have TWO sippies, "Everyone knows that WE are the center of the universe!"

Several of my friends comment how nice it must be for me to raise kids used to being one of three.  They get used to not being catered to every minute of every day and learn to ask politely for things or entertain themselves until I'm free, right?


Children come into the world recognizing self as the center of everything.  For about the first year, everything in their experience confirms this.  They are hungry, and food magically appears.  They make a huge brown stain on a frilly pink dress and someone jumps up to clean them, powder them, and dress them in another equally adorable outfit.  They cry for four hours and someone takes a picture of them crying to post on facebook where they get thirty-seven likes and twelve LOL's.

Around two years of age kids learn the world can be a very conditional place.  If you hit other children, they will not play with you.  If you make a mess, you have to clean it up.  If you  misbehave, your parents love you unconditionally but change their treatment of you to teach you the correct way to behave.

It's a tough life.

I remember having lunch with a friend and her unmanageable toddler before I had kids.  Her daughter screamed and kicked and made things miserable for everyone in the restaurant.  My friend smiled sheepishly and quipped "That's Sally for you.  If you want a fight, she'll give you one!"

I understand her frustration over her daughter's behavior that day.  I've been embarrassed by Devon's behavior and my need to discipline him in public several times this week.  However, I don't agree with the attitude behind her statement.  It should be the other way around.

If Devon wants a fight, I'll give him one.

He needs to recognize the leadership of parents and teachers in his life.  When given an age appropriate command, he needs to obey.  If he refuses, I need to be up for the challenge to my authority and unwilling to back down.  I need to pick my battles and win decisively.

I have the important task of shaping our kids' character through loving discipline without unnecessary harshness.  The sooner he learns to respect authority and follow directions, the happier his life will be.It's not cruel to expect obedience, or even to spank him if he defies me.  It would be cruel to set him up for failure in his career, relationships, and health by letting him form unhealthy habits of behavior.

Sometimes I stop in the middle of a frustrating morning when we're on the fifteenth minor skirmish over the silliest thing. I say "Devon, I love you!" and he'll cheerily reply "Mommy, I love you, too!" before resuming his former stinky attitude.  There's no real malice behind this onslaught.  We're playing out the roles that have been given us.  He is the child and it is his job to test me to see if I mean business.  I am the parent and it is my job to convince him that indeed I do.

At night when he's finally asleep I stroke his head and whisper more words of love over him.  I beg God for wisdom to parent wisely, grace to be gentle under enormous pressure, and forgiveness for my many mistakes.  I thank Him for the opportunity to love Devon, demonstrating to my children how God loves us even when we act our ugliest.

I pray for the strength to expect obedience and never back down, and that the firmness of my expectations would be surpassed by the strength of my great love.

As I sit by his bed in the darkness I try to forget the day's failures and focus on the success:

1. We ate lunch in the mall food court and Devon without prompting ate his whole kids meal and drank his milk without throwing anything on the floor.  He did not throw a fit and demand an ice cream cone.  Therefore, he received one and ate it neatly with a spoon even though I would've been fine with a drippy free-for-all.

2. The month-long struggle to get him to say "please" appears to be over.  I no longer have to pause before the cookie lady at Sam's Club and then drive away in the cart because my son won't ask politely.  He intuitively figured out that "thank you" would be next and started saying it without a single prompt.

3.  Devon delightedly fed the girls Cheerios from his own snack cup when he didn't think I was watching, saying "Here you go, babies!"

Things are improving.

New York oystermen finally stopped cutting up starfish and throwing them back.  They started drying them out in the sun, grinding up their hard little bodies, and using them to fertilize the fields.

With time, persistence, and diligence, I can do the same.

Here's an important distinction: in my extended metaphor, children are not the starfish.  They're the ocean.  Children are wonderful just like the ocean: pure and refreshing, calming and peaceful, powerful and exciting, mysterious and deep.  We enjoy them and let them grow unhindered, spontaneously developing the nature God placed in them.

However, sometimes as parents we see things growing in the ocean that we do not like: infestations of disobedience, pollutions of disrespect, epidemics of rebellion. We can snip a bit here and cut a bit there, and the problem just seems to get worse.  That's not a sign of failure, and giving up isn't an option.  We seek advice from the right places and try different things until we find what works.  Pretty soon we find ourselves rooting out pesky intruders, grinding them up, and using them to fertilize the seeds of a healthy personality and good character.

If we keep at it, good things will grow in time.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Poop: September 7, 2012

Last Saturday night somebody pooped in the tub.  Only one of my kids ever does it.  I don't want to say who lest they be branded with that characteristic, which is not at all defining even though it was really inconvenient at the time.  When I do bathe all three kids at once, getting out is an intricate and complicated dance that involves rinsing, toweling, lotioning, and not getting more than an elbow away from anybody in case they slip.  Not when poop arrives on the scene.  I turned on the shower, held everyone up under the flow to be rinsed, and punted each to the bath mat where all three took off for the twins' room naked and shivering.  They found the bin of the girls' socks, dumped it out, and started tossing the little sock balls up in the air again and again.  It took twenty minutes to lay hands on each of my children, sniff them, dry them, dress them, pick up the soggy sock balls, and safely install the kids in the pen so I could return to the bathroom to clean up the mess.

I opened the bathroom cabinet to take out an extra bath towel.  Out came twenty little brown pellets.

More poop.

Not the kind I am constantly wiping off things/people and throwing in the Diaper Champ.

Mouse poop.

Deep breath.

I replaced the towel.  I closed the cabinet door, and the bathroom door behind me.  I washed my hands.  Really well.  Then I let my kids out of the pen and we played tea party picnic until it was time to go to bed.  As Carrie and Melina play-ate pie and Devon tipped the teapot to hear the sound it made my mind filled with unpleasant images of giant rodents crawling through the walls and coming out at night to glean the Cheerio dust from the living room carpets. 

Craig and Devon played "Little Mousie Looking for a Housie" (Not Here? tickle tickle tickle  Not here?  tickle tickle How about here? tickle tickle).  I wanted to break in and say "Yes, indeed, they are looking and apparently their search led them to our house where they're camped out between the extra hair dryer and the bottle of 409."  I didn't bring it up until all three kids were in bed.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know that my family is going through a phase where absolutely NO cleaning can take place when any of the kids are awake.

I already spent two nap hours that afternoon on the most comprehensive cleaning job possible with young children at home.  This has been aptly compared to brushing your teeth while eating oreos.  Ten minutes after the kids wake up, the house doesn't look much different.  It capped off a really long day where it was a struggle to make everyone play nice.  As the kids were stepping into the bath and putting foam letters into their mouths and blowing fistfuls of bubbles at each other I was thinking I would enjoy a few moments of fun playtime with the kids.  I was looking ahead to picking up a few last stray toys and collapsing on the couch in front of the Netflix dvd that's been sitting on our bookshelf all week.

I was thinking that I just really didn't have much left in me at that point.

Apparently I was wrong.

I DID have it in me to put the kids calmly and lovingly to bed, break the news of the infestation to Craig, and spend the next three hours cleaning up the mess.

We googled "mouse poop", stared at pictures of mouse poop, and measured the poop with an actual ruler to make sure it was just mouse poop and not rat poop, squirrel poop, snake poop, etc.

We found the roll of toilet paper that had been shredded by tiny mouse claws and lots more poop, but no actual mice.  Whew.

We washed the extra towels in super hot water with color safe bleach over and over, and then pondered throwing them out and buying new towels anyway.

We put on rubber gloves and threw away a box of miscellaneous junk that smelled like mice.

We scolded the cat for slacking off on a job she's performed competently since she joined our family eight years ago, and then felt bad because it's not like she really feels she can roam the house much anymore.  I wonder if the kids seem to her like a bit of an infestation.  We don't let her do anything about THEM.

We washed the bath mat and my old Caboodle in Ajax with Bleach in the kitchen sink.  Every woman my age probably had a Caboodle to hold her makeup and hair products in junior high and high school.  As it soaked, I read my personalization on the inside of the top cover:  "Krista Weimer-- and NO ONE ELSE!"  My, how things have changed, and not just the maiden name.  It's hard to even remember a time where my things belonged to me and no one else.  Lately anything mine from my coffee cup to my shoes to my iphone gets taken down off the table by the toddler and passed to the walking twin and on to the crawling twin.  Even before I had kids my sewing scissors disappeared for a few months.  I found out Craig was using them in the greenhouse to cut grass to feed his research caterpillars.

I held the megaroll of tape for Craig as we tried to plug the hole around the pipes that the mice had certainly used to come in.
I brought out the bleach and cleaned the poopy tub and every surface in the entire bathroom until my nostrils burned.

Some days I'm spread so thinly I feel like a jar of peanut butter covering a football field.  Then I find out I need enough of me to cover the stadium, the parking lot, and the highway interchange, so I grab a knife and I just start spreading some more.

The most dedicated workaholic at the most exhaustive job still can't compare her schedule to that of a mother.  Most moms find their world completely rocked by their first child.  More come, things get even busier, and by some miracle we adjust.

Multiples moms have extra challenges.  "When baby sleeps, Mommy sleeps," goes the old saying.  Another multiples mom friend of mine rewrote it for her family.  I agree: "When babies sleep, Mommy works like a crazy person so that everyone can eat, wear clothes, burn off their energy in meaningful activities so nobody gets hurt, and live free of the risk of catching a third-world poor sanitation disease from the growing stack of dirty diapers on the floor."

Needs are many and constant.  Our store of energy seems unequal to the task.  Many of us have given up exercise and cut corners on nutrition because we're too busy with kids.  Yet, somehow we make it.

I make it.  That Netflix dvd sits on the shelf for a few more days, a dusty monument to a time when Craig and I could schedule in some entertainment.  If I do get a few quiet minutes, I sit and think in a quiet house with nobody whining for me.  I realize I've become a person that thirteen-year-old girl writing on her Caboodle would hardly recognize.

But here's the thing: I like myself.

Yes, my schedule is ridiculously demanding, but I do more with a day than I ever thought possible.

Yes, children are needy, but there's nothing like being the person that God put on this earth to meet their needs.

Last night I kissed the kids goodnight at 9:30 and started cleaning.  At 11:30 Devon and I were still carrying on a conversation in snatches every time I passed his room.  He found it hard to sleep with me making so much noise.  (It begs the question: When am I ever going to clean the house, if I CAN'T when they're awake and I CAN'T when they're asleep?)  At midnight Melina woke up crying and getting her up woke Carrie and so the three of us ate fish crackers off the coffee table.  We're trying to help Melina's walking catch up to Carrie's, so I did laps around the kitchen and living room holding Melina's hand as she walked and Carrie led the way.

When I tucked them back in at 2:30 I was relieved that Devon had been up so late, too.  Surely that would mean that everyone would sleep in?


Devon stumbled into the kitchen as Craig was making the coffee at 7:10 am.

By the time I joined him at 7:30 he was in fine form, looking for new ways to try out his Favorite Word of the Week.

"Should we make the oaties?"


"Do you need a sippy?"


"Did you sleep well after Mommy stopped making so much noise?"


 I suppressed a yawn and made breakfast, Devon expressing wholehearted approbation every time I picked up a spoon.  It was okay.  Really.

I'm the Mommy.

I got this!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

...And Share Alike, September 4, 2012

Many thanks to those far away who watched the Tropical Storm Isaac footage on TV and wondered if we were all right.

 Last Monday while the kids and I were sitting in the pen watching the power blink on and off we got a text from Craig saying that he was on his way home because the heavy rain was about to flood the last open exit to the parking lot at work and they sent everyone home to make sure they could still leave. I had dressed the girls in their monogrammed onesie shirts so that if they were swept up by the storm and landed in Oz the other munchkins would be able to tell who is Carrie and who is Melina.

When Craig got home, he finished his workday on the laptop with a cup of fresh coffee. Other than that, our first tropical storm experience wasn't a big deal.

The stormy weather sent lots of fabulous Atlantic shells up on the beach, so our evening beach walks have been more frequent and eventful.

Many thanks also to kind friends from all over who said an extra prayer for Devon and his sleeping schedule over the past hard weeks.  I'm happy to report that things are getting better.  Devon usually goes down for the night between eight and nine and sleeps through.  I'll take it.  I usually wake up to him playing with his trains in the doorway of my bedroom around seven in the morning.  It's a pretty enviable toddler sleep schedule, or so say many of my mom friends who have to convince their kids to stay in their rooms past the first ray of dawn.

Naps are going better, too.  As evidence, it's four p.m., I'm typing on the laptop, and the house is quiet. It's been a struggle to enforce a late afternoon quiet time.  Devon spent a couple of naps whining while I camped out on the couch around the corner listening for him to get out of bed so I could swoop down, tuck him back in, and repeat in the next few minutes.  He'd fall asleep long enough for me to pay the cable bill and then pop back up asking for treats.  I spent many anxious moments second-guessing my resolve and wondering if this cranky child was The New Devon.  Apparently not.  I believe those who say that loving and consistent discipline will result in a happy, reasonable child if you stick with it long enough.

It also makes me understand why so many people have the kind of children I see running around Walmart at eleven p.m. on a school night.  Consistency is HARD.

It's also hard to make sure these new boundaries don't make Devon feel insecure or unloved.  Mommy has really upped her game in the play department so that Devon knows that when he cooperates with his parents and the rules they have made in his best interest, life is FUN!  Thomas the Train Table arrived on the scene a week ago, and we've been making figure-eight tracks, helping Sir Topham Hatt direct the trains, and listening to Devon soberly and precisely name every car.

Sodor Line Caboose!

Gold Sifting Car!

Sodor Weather Tracker!

The babies are naturally very interested in Devon's new toy, and can't wait until he goes to bed so they can dismantle the tracks he built and climb on top of the table.  They show lots of interest in the table while Devon is awake, too.

"Babies want their nursies!" shouts Devon as Melina sidles up to the table and reaches for a stop sign.  "Mommy nurse Carrie-and-a-Rina!"  Yep, he knows what will keep them busy and out of his space for twenty minutes.

A month ago when the girls turned one, they were feverish and too sick to have the party we had lovingly planned for them.  When they didn't get better in a few days, we decided to cancel and have the party a month late.  It was a tougher thing for Mommy than it was for the girls, and I was definitely glad they were too young to understand.

Last Saturday we finally held the rescheduled party at our house.  Our kind friends overlooked the inconvenience of being invited to a party, told to stay away because we were too sick, invited again, and then rescheduled yet again to make sure we didn't pass around a two-week respiratory bug with the birthday cake.

In Devon's book, any excuse for more cake is a good excuse.

I am also thankful for the fact that the girls have some new toys in the house.  They were really excited, too.  They giggled as Teapot sang "Rule Brittania." The pouring noise it makes when you tip it over to pour some tea brought Devon over to investigate.

Then he saw the talking picnic basket and got really excited.  He decided to bring out a new word he's been using lately.

"Mine!" he said.

"Not yours," I replied.  "It belongs to the girlies!"

"Babies want their nursies," he countered.

Sometimes they play well together, all three of them.

That's the beauty of three kids close in age.  They all like the same things.  Peekaboo still amazes all of them.

It's also the difficulty.  They all want the same thing at the same time.

"I want All Dese Toys!" Devon says.  That's his other new word, meaning anything over seven.  He knows his numbers up to seven, even though he doesn't always use them correctly.  Anything over seven is just too many to count.  Infinity.

I'm trying to come up with Rules for Sharing.  It's tougher than I first thought.  If Devon and Mommy have spent forty-five minutes making a complicated train track, it's understandable for him to be upset if the girls want to take it apart and chew on the pieces.  It's also understandable that the girls would be upset if Devon runs around grabbing every toy they've decided on and yelling "mine!" just because they have it.

Thankfully, the girls' new toys have given us a chance for a life lesson.

"Mine!" shouts Devon as he grabs Little People Farm away from Melina.

"You're right," I say, "Little People Farm is Devon's toy."  I watch the smug smile spread across Devon's face as I put the babies in the pen away from All Dese Toys.  Then I scoop Devon up and carry him around, picking up Teapot and Picnic Basket and Shape Sorter and four new books and all the girls' new toys from the party.  I put the new toys in the pen with the babies and let them play with their toys.  Devon and I watch from outside.

"You can't have it both ways, Buddy-O.  If we never share, then other people won't like to share with us.  That's why we share our toys," I say. 

You know what they say about turnabout.  Devon says he wants to share, so the two of us join the babies in the pen.