Monday, March 31, 2014

The Creeping Crud: March 30, 2014

We kind of knew March would be a rough month.  Third month in a new house is always kind of a bummer.  The euphoria settles down into a realer kind of house love, the kind with long neglected repairs and big bills and oh-no-looks-like-it-needs-a-roof unpleasant surprises. 

The honeymoon is over in the new town, too, as you have had a few genuinely unpleasant experiences.  Like the very visible tantrum in the YMCA for which you had to drop the girls back off in the childcare and march number one son to the Family Restroom for painfully obvious reasons.  Or the time you drove 9/10 of the way to Baltimore to pick up Craig's prescriptions, decided to go the rest of the way to pick up some Caribou Coffee, and spent $22 in tolls getting lost and finding out that your favorite beans are 20 feet away but you can't get any because it would be murder/suicide to park and get out with three kids on this particular block of the dirtiest, nastiest, most crowded city you've ever been to (and you're from California).

Old friends have stopped sending housewarming presents and touching little how-are-you-doing notes and your new friendships are still too shallow to risk a get-it-off-my-chest gripe conversation.  So in the middle of all the newness you're tired and kind of lonely.
In the middle of all this, the miraculous bubble of wellness that sustained us through the past six months and nearly the entire flu season went POP.  First we thought it would be Melina, who had an inexplicable hour of fever/chills on Tuesday morning.  That ended up being just a little teething fever, as she was well by naptime and never developed other symptoms. 
This dynamic duo has been the most well of all of us.  They're over the moon to be in underwear and have taken to them much like their shoes.  Which ones will they wear today?  Dora?  Princesses?  Kitty-kitties (hello kitty)?  Will that do it, or will they want different ones after naps?
No, it was actually Birthday Boy who's been coughing this week.  We even cancelled his playdate on Friday to make sure we weren't a contagious household. 
We made our chicken soup and ate it when Craig took his first sick day from work.  He got what Devon had with a high fever.
It helped, to a point.  Mommy had the high fever, the cough, and a houseful of people to take care of.  I finally broke down and saw a doctor today when I finished my large bottle of Mucinex severe cough and cold and could only wear a sports bra because my chest hurt so badly.  The diagnosis: sinus infection and bronchitis.  The prescription:

1.  Antibiotics for the infection.

2.  Prednisone for the inflammation.

Doctor: It may make you feel like you have a lot of energy.  Take Benadryl if you need to fall asleep.
Mommy: Lots of energy?  Bring it on!  You'd be appalled at the hours of television my kids have watched this week.  I am!  And don't worry about me falling asleep.  I spent twelve hours in bed last night. Before that the Cats made it to the final four but I only saw seventeen seconds of it (actual seconds, not seconds of regulation play) because I was chasing two well kids and one only mildly sick kid up and down the stairs....

3.  An inhaler for the airway narrowing.
4.  Rest

Mommy: Bwaaaaahaaahhaaaahaaaaaaah!  That's a good one!  Please don't tell me another, though.  It hurts too much to cough!

Happy Birthday Devon: March 29, 2014

We celebrated a big birthday this weekend.  Devon turned a big four fingers with a family party and a yellow cake with chocolate frosting.  We had plans to have a few friends over on Friday but had to cancel because of a cough that we've been passing around, but we enjoyed a playdate with a friend.
Devon's cake had real new toys on top of it.  I had to go with whatever Walmart had.  Good thing, because I barely had time to pick them off the cake and wipe off the frosting and he was running them across the fireplace.  Sweet boy loves his "drivey things".
Wow!  We have a four-year-old!  It feels like he's matured a lot in the last week. 
Bedtimes, outings, and many other moments have been much more compliant, and therefore much more enjoyable. 
I made some prints of my favorite pictures of the year and made a display on our French door.  It's such a fun activity to see how far he's come and what we've enjoyed doing with him this past year.  The Vero Resort Character Breakfast... Touch A Truck.... many trips to the park... Brain Freeze...  It was also a good way for Devon to remember things he enjoyed doing in Florida so we can find similar ones in Maryland.

Devon: Mommy, I want to go to Brain Freeze!
Mommy: Should we find a Maryland Brain Freeze and go there sometimes!
Devon:  Yes!  For example, we could go there for special Devon and Mommy time.

Devon is happy that his best friend, Ally Kitty, came with us.  The two still have "space issues" but are working on setting boundaries.
 Devon's first present of the day was from Mommy and Daddy.  It's a nightlight that projects stars and constellations on the ceiling.  It was a big hit!
Surprisingly, Devon wasn't a big fan of his cake.  After one piece, the girlies and I finished the rest of it over the next several days.  I had bought enough for two cakes but didn't make the second.  Instead, Devon got to go to the store with Mommy and pick out some donuts for his actual birthday.
He is, at least, a huge fan of candles.
Present time was after dinner.  He was very excited to see what was in all of those bags!  We decided to save the B-I-K-E for a non-rainy day, but he still got some cool new toys.
The girlies were very excited, too, and hard to keep out of the middle of things. 
Look at that smile!
And that one!
Our outing of the day was to go to Chick-fil-A.  Afterwards, mommy took Devon into Walmart for a few last-minute presents and Devon got to pick out a balloon.  He chose a DocMcStuffins balloon over a Cars movie balloon.  He even declined two balloons.  This kid knows what he wants!
We took several shots of the kids together.
Many turned out like this.  Devon's expression is just like Mommy's at this point.
The sleeper hits of the birthday were the vintage trucks from Craig's past.
Carrie photobombed.
Melina latched onto the cool toy that nevertheless wasn't the favorite: a toy vacuum cleaner.  Soon she was sucking up imaginary crumbs in the living room. 
Carrie found the discarded DocMcStuffins balloon and ran it around the house.  Devon saw someone playing with one of his toys and went to grab it.  He stopped.

Devon: Oh.  I didn't see that you were playing with that.  You can play with my DocMcStuffins balloon.  I don't mind!
That's what I mean when I say that my little guy has matured a lot in the past month.  He's becoming much more caring and sensitive to the feelings of others.  It's such a joy to see the nice kid he's becoming!  Sunday morning was a nice, relaxing time.  Craig and I sat with our coffee, a rare time, as the kids played with the influx of new toys that a birthday brings. 

We even have the promise of more new toys to look forward to, as an amazon order was mistakenly sent to Florida and more presents from family members are arriving over the next few days.  So much fun!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Do the Panty Dance: March 22, 2014

Well, hello there!

The snow is all melted and it's supposed to break 70 degrees today.  Not only am I poking my head out of doors without a coat, but I feel like I'm finally poking my head out of the bathroom for at least a few hours every day.  You see, two weeks ago I was felled by a stomach virus that woke me early every morning to bond with the toilet for a few hours.  When I could finally emerge, drained and dehydrated, Craig was leaving for work and the kids were peaking in energy.  It was a rough week.  At the end of it, the girls decided that it was time to potty train.

Yes, last week I potty trained a set of twins.  What did you do with your week?

Perhaps it was good that the schedule forced me into blog silence, because those who did hear from me last week didn't find that I had many positive things to say.  There's nothing like spending ten minutes in the bathroom bent over a child that insists they need to potty and then giving up and finding another child standing in a puddle in the kitchen.  Or taking three toddlers outside to fend off the stir crazies, seeing two run in opposite directions and duck behind trees, and slowly realizing what they have just hid from you to accomplish.  Or having to drop trou a few dozen times a day in every room of the house to show the girls when they ask yet again that, indeed, Mommy is wearing her panties and today they have butterflies (or stripes, or flowers, or holes because they're old...).  For a two-week-long period, I was in the bathroom about every seven minutes from seven in the morning 'till eight at night. Our floor was littered with more undergarments than a Hollywood portrayal of a frat house.  I made a large dinner casserole on Monday and we ate it five nights in a row.  I didn't clean anything unless it was going to leave a stain.  As soon as the kids were in their beds, I went straight to mine.

And now it's over.

The girls wear a diaper at naptime and nighttime.  They've been to Chick-fil-A, MOPS, the YMCA, a St. Patrick's Day social, the park, and playgroup.  Accidents on outings are not happening!!!  I guess the advantage of waiting until 2 1/2 is that the period of going-every-fifteen-minutes is mercifully short and extended bladder control is doable once it is learned.  We're over the hump and already phasing out rewards for going because it just makes them want to go more often.

Yesterday I cleaned house for the first time in two weeks, one of those six-hour, mucking-out-the-stall cleanings that are so cathartic in a house with young kids because everything finally gets put back where it goes.  The baskets of the foulest laundry imaginable are cleaned and put away.
I even attempted a somewhat festive Easter mantle.  It's a really good sign when I've stepped off Maslow's lowest rung and actually care about how something is decorated, not just that the bathrooms smell like lemon 409.  The best part was that the pullup diapers we'd been crutching on for the past month are all moved to the second floor bathroom for our twice daily needs.  Since I just bought diapers before our usage dropped so dramatically, we may not ever have to buy more again!!!!

I feel like cheering!  Let's try the one we used to motivate the girls...

2     4     6     8
Who do we appreciate?
Panties! Panties!

Having all the kids in underwear makes them seem so much closer in age now.  They've been playing together much more lately, capping off a two-month period where Devon and the girls were a bit at odds.  They wouldn't bathe together, play together, or sometimes even occupy the same room without some major issues.  It was frustrating, especially in the evenings when Craig and I would split off and spend time with the kids separately to keep the peace. 
So we're treasuring the Saturday mornings that look like this now.  If Devon gets up early, he helps me make pancakes.  Then comes the jarring noise of the girls getting up and throwing their baby dolls down the stairs and walking down after them.  They run/dance to Mommy for a hug and Melina whispers in my ear:

"When we wake up, we wear panties!"
Devon still feeds Ally kitty and lets her out of her closet.
After breakfast, they often like to play 'Night 'Night in the Spare Room, a game they invented themselves.  Mommy loves it because the spare room is right off the kitchen.  She can wipe the table and load the dishwasher and see and hear their play.
Having kids that play with each other instead of needing me every second is making a huge difference.  I feel like I have a long list of things I can now do with the kids awake.

1.  Get the stamps out of my purse and put them on the day's mail.
2.  Carry a basket of laundry up the stairs.
3. Take something out of the freezer and put it on the counter to defrost in hopes that during naptime I can cook it.
4. Clean a toilet.
5. Empty the dishwasher
6. Transfer a load of clothes from washer to dryer

I'm waiting for that magic #8 Make a Phone Call.  That old joke about there not being a better time to call back for five more years is totally true.  When they're in bed, nobody you need to call is still open.  Grrrr...  Especially frustrating because a newly moved family has a billion calls that need to be made.  The DMV.  The power company.  Yet another call to our incompetent propane company that insists that we owe them $1200 for a tankful of propane that Maryland law states is gifted to us at the closing of our house.  

The Elkton Library has super fun outing offerings for preschoolers.  Now that I've officially joined the local moms group, I feel much more in the loop.  The kids make crafts, play with toys, and generally get to any activity and immediately demand to eat their snack that they know is packed in Mommy's purse.  Never mind the half-dozen eggs, four slices of toast, and quart of yogurt that they managed to decimate right before leaving.
Sigh.  Yes, I feel a frisson of pride when the girls read to their babies, or beg to be read the same book over and over.  This was not my highest moment, last week when I rounded the corner to find the kids setting Melina's baby in the stroller and teaching her how to play a music app on the LeapPad.  Nice.  That, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the kind of month it's been.  My personal low was the worst day of stomach virus when I turned on Disney Channel the moment Craig left for work and off after noon when I had lunch on the table. Then, of course, came the potty training days when it was imperative to keep the kids calm and relatively close by, and above all keep Devon out of the bathroom so the girls can concentrate.  Not easy for a boy who always needs to be the center of attention.  Out came the LeapPad.  On went Disney Channel.

Ugh. That is not how I parent.  I'm the mom who will let the kids play in the snow for ten minutes even if it takes twenty to get the warm clothes out and twenty more to put them away.  I was definitely the mom that thought the AAP Guideline of one hour per day of technology for their age group was not strict enough.

Then I had kids.  Normal ones.  The kind that need supervision and attention all the time.  And life goes on when the kids are small.  Being jailed for not filing our taxes would seriously hamper my ability to do what I do, care for the kids all day every day.  So my ideals have hit reality and adjusted. 
In the meantime, I tell myself that my kids will have enviable interpersonal skills, honed in the fishbowl of being Irish triplets.  Last week Carrie was sick so I took Devon and Melina to church.  A kind lady asked "Are they twins?"  I'm sure she wasn't expecting my answer: "Well, yesss, Melina is but Devon is not..."

All three of them get their million words a year of parental interaction, even though I feel much of it is "Don't touch that!" and "Stop sitting on your sister!"  Not sure what that means for their future IQ's.

I finally started to teach them their facts, something I imagined starting well before age 2.  Just in time to turn four, Devon can answer that he is three years old.  He knows his address, city, phone number, parents' names, full name, and birthday.  He's working on counting to twenty by himself but regularly skips fifteen.  The girls know their ages, birthdays, and that's about it.  Pronunciation is their greatest limitation right now.  That's okay.

Carrie: Fuss
Mommy: Do you want to cuddle with your momma?  Come here...
Carrie: No! My Mama lives in Tennessee.  I want to cuddle with my MOMMY!
Mommy: Sigh....

Melina: Mommy, I need to go peepee.
Mommy: Just a second, sweetie, the baby (Carrie) is on my lap.
Melina: She's not a baby.  She's a little girl.

Mommy: Okay, fine.  If you need to sleep with Poohbear, run down the stairs, find him quickly, and come right back up.  Quickly.
Devon: Mommy.  We do NOT run down the stairs.  We walk down the stairs.  And we hold the railing.
Mommy: Okay, Devon, walk with all due haste down the stairs and get Poohbear.

If they know enough to correct me with such evident delight, they can't suffer from too low intelligence.  The professions that require the gift of argument are usually well paid...

Craig learned from listening to NPR that one of the largest predictors of a child's future intelligence and success is the ability to delay gratification.  A test that researchers developed is to set a treat in front of a small child and promise to give them TWO treats if they can look at it for five minutes without eating it.  Craig, fascinated, tried this on Devon against my better judgement.  He set Devon at the table with a blue peanut butter M&M and a digital clock, telling him to wait until he saw the number five to eat the treat.  Devon sat there, poking the M&M occasionally but not eating it outright.  With one minute to go, he picked it up, gave it a longing lick, and then set it back down.  Craig and I watched, entranced.  When the buzzer went off, we praised Devon.  We reached for the bin to give him a reward and got air.  We found Melina around the corner, one skinny arm buried up to the shoulder in the jar and the other fist cramming M&M's into her mouth.  She was so stuffed that we were afraid that making her spit them out would cause her to gasp and choke, so we froze and watched the wad in her mouth slowly diminish like a snake digests an ostrich egg.  Finally, she flashed us a triumphant smile.  "Yum, yum, I get behavior treats!" she crowed.
Might as well say a few words about Melina's Baby and Carrie's Baybee.  They joined the family shortly after we moved.  I now spend at least ten minutes of bedtime or naptime looking for one of the babies.  They sit in chairs at the kitchen table.  They hang out in the stroller in the empty parlor.  They hide from me in the toy bins in the third floor bathroom. If I'm not super careful enforcing the no toys at the table rule, they get fed dinner.

Melina is the much more maternal one.  She walks her baby around by the arms, letting her feet skim the ground.  She leaves her in disturbingly lifelike poses around the house: crawling, pulling up on the furniture, getting a diaper change, sleeping with a blanket tucked to her chin and a stuffed puppy beside.  

Carrie talks about her baby constantly.  I love asking her what her baby's name is to hear the cute way she says "It's Baybee."  She holds her baby, sits on my lap, and narrates.  Baybee got an owie on her knee.  Baybee wanted her mommy because it was bedtime and she got scared and she wanted her mommy.  Baybee is crying because she wanted to watch Disney channel but it wasn't time to watch Disney channel.  Baybee is cold because she took off her clothes because she wanted to go peepee in the potty.

 We're counting down one more week to birthday for this smiley boy!  Sooo glad to have the hectic days over with so we can focus on this week of celebrating him.
Mommy had a peaceful three hours shopping alone this morning and picked up this hot little number for the big day.  I came in flushed with my success and thoughtlessly announced to Craig that Devon needed to stay out of the garage.  Of course you can imagine what happened ten minutes later.  

We told Devon that his friend left his bike at our house, and that maybe when Devon got a little bigger he could have a bike like that.  Like maybe when he turned four....