Friday, January 14, 2011

Brilliant Mommy (a.k.a. Stupid Mommy Part II)

It happens once in a blue moon.  That rare occasion when you can outwit those little collaborators, who I am confident spend time plotting and planning through the bars of their cribs when they should be sleeping or huddled together in the play-yard when they should be playing.  I was set to believe that today was one of those days.  I am not sure whether it is 'up' or 'over' or 'out' or some other concept he has recently discovered, but my sweet little boy persists in pitching every stinkin' toy out of the play-yard he shares with his two sisters.  This has been going on for a few weeks, and I realize it is just another one of those things that plays out very differently for mommies of multiples than it does for those mommies who just have one baby at a time.

If my sweet little boy was the one and only pumpkin in the patch then he could throw his toys out of his play-yard to his heart's content.  Then when he was sitting in the empty play-yard investigating fuzz and whatever crusty stuff is glommed onto the  graying carpet that had been a pre-baby lovely cream color I would look on empathetically and lovingly with that "Mommy-told-you-so" look in my eyes.  However, because we have two other very nice pumpkins rolling around the play-yard I find myself with a dilemma.  I feel incredibly guilty every time he grins his little wolfish grin at me after I say the "n" word for the bajillionth time two minutes, but I am in a quandary as his sisters are peering around the empty floor of the play-yard and warning me that their patience is wearing thin.

And then today I had a flash of mommy-brilliance (soon to be renamed the what-the-hell-was-I-thinking incident).  Standing in the living room pondering amidst the shrieks of toy-pitching glee and the wails of toy-searching despair I wondered if I could redirect the toy pitching into a box or some sort of plastic tub.  I remembered somewhere in the basement were two pink plastic tubs that came home from the hospital with me after the babies were born.  They had been in my room holding assorted doo-dads, and since I knew the hospital would be billing us at a rate of some undoubtedly ridiculous amount like $60 dollars a piece for them I threw them onto my cart to go out to the car when I was discharged.

Having no idea what I would do with them but anticipating they might come in handy some day for cleaning or holding baby goodies or some other equally useful task, I found them tucked into a corner of the basement.  Proud with my mommy-ingenuity, and at long long last (16 months) having found a use for my tubs, I unstacked them and carried one upstairs for its new job.  Cautiously optimistic that my mommy-brilliance would be just the solution rather than just the next projectile launched over the play-yard I smiled bravely and held up the pink tub.

At first there was pulling and tugging and whining and fussing and screaming.  Ah.  To be expected.  Limited resources for six little hands.  Leaning over the play-yard I tossed a few toys in and then pulled them back out.  A few more turns of this, and the magic happened!  I saw six little hands working together and toys going in and coming out.  Going in and coming out.  Going in and coming out.  A-HA!  I was brilliant.  Reveling in my success I smiled to myself and went on about my things-to-do-today.  Then there it was.  The sounds of whining and fussing and screaming.  I stopped what I was doing to investigate.  Oh.  One of my darling angels had found a comfy spot sitting in the pink tub, and another of my darling angels had found a comfy spot sitting on top of her sister sitting in the tub.  Apparently, this did not work for either of them since darling angel number one was being squished and couldn't flap about freely, and darling angel number two couldn't fit herself entirely in the tub and was being pinched and gouged and and pushed by the squishy flapless angel.  Note:  Darling angel number three was quietly observing this all but stayed completely unengaged. . .so far so good.  At least he wasn't adding to the melee by attempting to pitch the pink tub over the play-yard while both of his sisters were in it.

Ignoring the taunting whisper in my head I traipsed back down to the basement realizing there was only one more pink tub.  Two tubs and three babies does not a happy mommy make.  We have a rule at our house.  We either have one-of-something or three-of-something.  Never two.  With one we learn to share and take turns, or with three everyone has their 'very own' and can play without a fuss.  Hahaha. . .on Mommy.  While that certainly sounded like a good rule in naive-mommy-theory, what I quickly learned was that three-of-something results in the exact same outcome as one or two-of-something.  It goes like this:  one or two babies either sneak in or launch an offensive to hoard more than their 'very own one', and someone is still left whining and fussing and screaming because his or her 'very own one' is in the clutches of a hoarding brother or sister.  So although I was cringing with anticipatory terror at what I was sure would happen I thought, "What else can I do?  If  I am very very lucky then this might work.  (Hahaha)  And if not, I can always try to find another box or something for darling angel number three (please refer back to the above sentence about hoarding for evidence of  this situation decompensating as seen by delusional-mommy-thinking)

As I rounded the corner from the kitchen and walked into the sites of the darling angels I saw darling angel number two's face break into a big grin, and she began giggling at the sight of pink tub number two.  As she came toddling across the play-yard to grasp at the pink tub in my hands I tried to ignore the fact that darling angel number one's face also broke into a big grin, and I knew what that meant.  Hoping against hope that I was just plain ol' wrong, I leaned in to put pink tub number two on the ground, and as darling angel number two placed one foot carefully in the bottom of it with the anticipation of plunking her bottom down, darling angel number one firmly grabbed onto one side of her sister's tub and yanked hard.  Out of the tub, against the side of the play-yard, and down onto a heap of toys came crashing darling angel number two.  Thus ensued a tug-of-war with darling angel number one whining and fussing and screaming while darling angel number two held her own.  Like a flash, feeling a bit like whining and fussing and screaming myself, I hurdled over the top of the play-yard, pried the tub out of little vice-like grips, scooted darling angel number one across the floor in her tub just beyond reach of pink tub number two that was quickly repositioned on the floor with darling angel number two being neatly folded into it.

Wait for it. . .ahhh.  Peace and quiet.  Okay, peace and giggling and babbling, but definitely no whining and fussing and screaming.  I managed to run and get the camera to snap a few photos of the evidence of my mommy-brilliance. . .before it all came to some sort of disastrous-ending, which I had no doubt would be happen at any moment.  So far so good.  One minute and no disaster.  Minute two passed with still no disaster.  Minute three was sounding good. . .except what was that crunching sound?. . .Coming out of my slump on the couch I investigate further and see darling angel number two playing nicely in her tub, of course.  Then I see it.  Darling angel number one has discovered she can push her feet forward in this little flimsy tub from the hospital, and as it flexes the edges crackle and break apart.  WHAT FUN!!!  After a few words of attempted discouragement and rising panic that we would be back down to one tub shortly, my rational-thinking returned and I realized that one tub could not possibly be worse than two tubs so 'what the hay?'  Okay, darling.  I informed my sweet little 16 month old, as any rational mommy would, that the 'natural consequence' of breaking her tub would be she wouldn't have one to play with anymore while her sister played on.  I am not sure she was listening because she continued to grin and push.  Okie dokie.  I continued on with my tasks.  Hmmm.  Now what?  It sounded as though the cracking had a new timbre.   Investigation mode again.  Ah.  Darling angel number three had finally left his observation post and now determined that darling angel number one was making those cracks in the tub just for his fingers to explore.  In the work of a quick moment he had his fingers caught and pinched as evidenced by his whining and fussing and screaming.

Okay, well now how in the world was I to have realized that the plastic tubs from the hospital are not quite as durable as the ones you can buy at a store for household use?  I don't have time for all this thinking.  I am a mommy to triplets, for goodness sakes.

As I sit typing this from the couch I peek over the play-yard top and see darling angel number one has curled up on a blanket on the floor and has whined and fussed and screamed herself into a post-pink-tub-fun nap.  Darling angel number two is rocking on her princess pony, and . . .where is darling angel number three and his mangled fingers?  I have to peer around one of the play-yard panels that is solid so I can see what is causing him to be so. . .well, quiet.  And I see a slightly-worse-for-the-wear pink tub between his legs as he is patiently pitching toys into the tub and then taking toys out of the tub.

Mission accomplished.  I am Brilliant Mommy!  Maybe I should just pick up a couple of extra heavier-duty tubs next time we are shopping. 

. . .oh wait.  Now the tub is on his head.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow Angels

It is snowing!!!  And I LOVE snow. 

I don't think I ever told this story, but almost two years ago we had what my mommy friends would recall as being the infamous "I-am-not-wasting-a-dollar-on-a-Dollar-Tree-home-pregnancy-test-when-I-AM-NOT-pregnant (and-it-is-not-to-be-mentioned-again)" incident.  It was February and we had a big snow.  I kept thinking that even though I didn't have any other symptoms I must be getting sick because I was DYING from feeling overheated.  In retrospect, it now appears as though the three little sniglets were doing their thing in there and warming me up.  We had been trying to have a baby for a little over a year at this point, and my doctor's reassurance that I was perfectly healthy and with time we 'were certain' to get pregnant didn't quell the anxiety raised by the 'specicalists' sighs that while all the tests said I was perfectly healthy the fact was I was 'old'; therefore, I "must" have rotten eggs.  My acupuncturist growled that this was pure 'hooey'. . .well she said 'hooey' in a Chinese medicine sort of way, but while I wasn't ready to give up yet that particular month saw me in a less than optimistic mind-frame.

So when my mommy friends sent messages and emails hinting, asking, and then demanding a test after I began feeling significantly unpleasant I curtly (with all the love in my heart) informed them that I was not nauseated, there was no way I was pregnant, and I was NOT, under any circumstances, wasting my dollar on a home pregnancy test that would sit on the edge of the bathroom sink mocking me.   Which brings me to the front door of our house on this snowy day two years ago.  I had opened the front door and after gazing longingly out at the lovely coldness I was pressing any parts of my exposed skin that I could press - without frightening passing motorists or neighbors - against the storm door glass to try to cool down.  After some time, and when I realized that this technique wasn't quite cutting it I had an amazing idea!  I decided to run down to the basement, dig out one of my ski-suits, and go outside for a bit.  That must have been a grumpy day in our house because I remember my husband peering at me with that look in his eyes and asking (which really wasn't a question) with that tone in his voice if I really thought it was such a good idea to go out in the cold when I didn't feel well.  I informed him that YES, I DID REALLY THINK IT WAS A GOOD IDEA.  So out I went with a long sleeved shirt under my ski suit, some warm wooly socks, my snow boots, mittens, and earmuffs. But definitely no coat.

I walked into the backyard and stood there in ecstasy. . .almost.  And then decided I really could just sit down in the snow and get a little cooler.  I plopped myself down onto the beautiful cold snow and sat there in ecstasy. . .almost.   After sitting for a while and contemplating the situation I decided I really could just lay down in the snow, and that might be even nicer.  And it was.

At some point during my cooling-ecstasy I decided to make a snow angel.  As I lay there flapping my arms and legs in the snow I enjoyed every cold wet moment and contentedly smiled that I was right.  It really was a good idea.  Later I traipsed back outside on a whim because I had an urge to take a photo of my snow angel. 

Ten months later we had the Oklahoma Christmas Blizzard of 2009 with over a foot of snow.  This was only the 13th time in recorded Oklahoma history when actual snow was on the ground, and the previous record for Christmas Eve snow was 2.5 inches in 1914.  And in that Christmas snow three little miracles lay bundled up in snow suits and wiggling their mittened hands making snow angels.  Later, after I poured over the scads of photos from that wonderful Christmas I sat staring at the pictures of them in the snow, and I realized -  this was their second snow angel.  Their first one was last February in the mounds of backyard snow with Mommy and her mittens.

Hmmm. . .where are those mittens.  Today looks like a good day to go outside for a bit. . .

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The 'Do Not Feed to Triplets' List (a.k.a. Stupid Mommy)

There are now two items on our banned food list. . .a.k.a. the 'Do Not Feed to Triplets' list. Upon disclosure I am confident there will be knowing nods of "ahhhhhhh" and possible choking on laughter. This list is a fairly new necessity in our home and just another one of those things that I am not sure that parents without multiples have to consider. Interestingly enough, both items earned their ban status within the same month. More specifically, I recognized my stupidity during the super-busy chaotic window of weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Because, really, I was feeling the need to add just a little more work to my tasks for each day.

For the most part, I think others would say the babies have fairly healthy meals and snacks. I pureed and froze all of their baby food until after their first birthday. They drink milk and water and on rare occasions have a small splash of juice mixed into their water. They love fruits and vegetables and eat whole grains with very little canned or processed foods. And the day that item number one provoked the need for our "list" started out like any other day. After diapers and breakfast and face-washing and clean outfits I was bustling around trying to get organized enough to scurry three babies out to the van and get moving on our long day of errands. In between folding diapers and pouring bottles I managed to get six little feet into three pairs of socks, secure two pigtails on a bouncing and twisting blur, and attach one pink bow to the top of a very cute head.

A quick glance at the kitchen clock evoked a sigh with the realization that, as with most days, the morning was slipping away while I checked off the tasks on my list before we could walk out the front door. Considering my cranky-prevention options since lunch would soon be heading our way I remembered a quick snack I had grabbed off the shelf at a store the day before as we were wrapping up our shopping when Cranky-Snout, Crankapotmus, and Crankodile informed me they were tiiiiiiiiiiired and hunnnnnnnnnnngry. Pushing their stroller and pulling our cart, I did a quick scan of the shelves and snagged what appeared to be a good hand-held snack. Strawberry toaster pastries. Ahhhhhhh. Tearing open the package and dispersing half a sugary treat to each snatching hand of a gnashing Crank, I dropped the box into my cart and convinced myself that a little goodie now and then was okay. After I made it home that night and got the babies to bed I unpacked the shopping bags and set the box of toaster pastries on the counter thinking we probably would never finish the last three.

Until that next morning. Hmmm. Quicker than toasting up some bagels. Neater than an almond butter sandwich. Okay, why let them go to waste? Strawberry toaster pastries it was. Tearing open the shiny silver packet containing these deceptively safe snacks I took them in to my little darlings. What happy faces! What pleased shrieks and giggles when they saw their treat! Yes, I am a good and smart mommy. We were all dressed in our fun new Christmas outfits, our hair was still neatly brushed and pig-tailed and bowed on the appropriate heads, and my list of things that had to be completed, collected, and transported to the van before we left for our day was almost done. Pleased with myself, I handed the snacks over the top of the play yard to eagerly grasping fingers, and I turned to finish up a final few things. In my last peaceful moments of oblivion I headed to the office to write a check for a bill, ran downstairs to start the washing machine for the third time that morning, and checked the back door to make sure all doggies were inside and the door was locked. Whew. I was finally ready to load up the small ones and try to make it through our long list of things to do in the last crunch before the holidays.


Strawberry toaster pastries educated me on the existence of banned food lists. In the matter of no more than five minutes my precious little love-muffins had transformed themselves into canvases for a red gooey crumbly sticky explosion. I still don't know how the pastry part disappeared because I didn't see anything resembling easy to pick up cream-colored chunks of pastry. Instead I saw lumps of red smashed onto tops of heads, clutched in grubby fists, and glommed ONTO PREVIOUSLY CLEAN CUTE OUTFITS! Upon closer inspection, it appeared as though there had been sitting and crawling and walking and laying on toaster pastries because there was red sticky chunks and smears on backs and elbows and knees and noses. There were chunks clinging to eyelashes and nesting in pigtails. Lint and fuzzes and doggie hairs appeared to be captives of the red goo and decorated some of the chunks with a funky fuzziness. Twinkling eyes and toothy grins looked up at me as I sat down on the couch. As a wave of feeling overwhelmed washed over me I don't think I was processing efficiently because all I could think about was how long it was going to take to clean up three babies, re-dress them, restyle their hair, and clean up the play yard and carpet. I zombie-walked into the bathroom to get a washrag and drug my feet all the way back to my chore ahead. Hmmm. Baby number three's head seemed the most immediate concern as I considered the rather large lumps of gummy gunk matted into her hair. Thinking I would just use the washrag to wipe the gunk out of her hair I thought, "Okay, this isn't that bad. Just focus, and we will get done and head out for our errands." Hmmm. I paused when I immediately found that the strawberry goo from strawberry toaster pastries apparently hardens into a gum/glue-like substance when it comes into contact with air. . .or triplets. . .or my triplets. I have not yet had to deal with gum in hair, but I felt certain that this was infinitely worse. Okay. So the washrag was not going to wipe the gunk out.

Finally, as the shock was wearing off the reality set in. And I sat down. Hard. Kerplunk. On the floor. Strawberry toaster pastry - 1, the Mommy - 0. It actually took a few minutes for my brain to begin firing again, but when it did I resigned myself to reorganizing our schedule and shifting all the errands to the next day. After calling the daddy to explain the situation, stripping the babies, soaking off the red gooey crumbly stickiness, starting the washing machine for the fourth time that day, and settling three babies, two doggies, and one mommy down for a much deserved nap I began to drift off with a new list formulating in my head - 'Do Not Feed to Triplets' (at least unsupervised in carpeted rooms. . .while they are dressed. . .and have hair): 1.) Strawberry toaster pastries.

Strawberry toaster pastry - 1, the Mommy - 1.

Slipping into sweet sleep I thought, "Aw, I don't really need a list. This was a valuable learning experience, and I am not going to make that mistake again."

. . .One word. 'Nutella.'