Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Fun in the Sun

While we were in Hawaii, despite all the sadness we did manage to have a little bit of fun.  My mom and Kate really wanted to take Abigail, now two, to the zoo and it turned into a family outing.  The Hilo rainforest zoo is small and has limited animals, but it's free and was still fun.

Kate, Abigail & Mom & Dad
Hope & Isaiah in their matching blues

Ellie & Mama

Avery & Mommy

Staying out of the sun =)

one of many wandering peacocks
(we did get to see one with tail feathers spread!)

the zoo is also like a botanical garden

so many pretty orchids
On the way home from the zoo we all stopped for lunch at Lucy's Taqueria.  It is owned by our friend Dani's old roller derby buddy and is the best Mexican food on the island.  If you find yourself in Hilo make sure that you stop by.  It was also one of Matt's favorite places to eat.  We also stopped by Rainbow Falls so Hope could see it.

On Monday, two days after the memorial we all went to the beach. We'd planned to go to Hapuna beach, but it happened to be a super windy day so we had to change plans & go to a more wind protected beach just up the road.  Sadly the sand isn't as nice, but we did get to do a little snorkeling.  It was Hope's first time swimming in the ocean so it was fun to take her out snorkeling.  She & I got to see a puffer fish and my mom and Kate had an amazing 20 minute swim with a huge old sea turtle.  This time of year the ocean is a little bit chilly for the babies but they did okay for a few minutes at a time.  We took more pics on Kate & Claude's waterproof camera so stay tuned for more beach pics soon, but here are the ones we had.

Grandparents & grandbabies

Avery & Auntie Vicky

goofy little dude

the beach is FUN

not a bad place for a snooze

Check out Ellie's big floppy sunhat from Abigail

playing with Mommy

She really liked it...I swear!

Three generations

check out Isaiah's beach hair

beach day is tiring!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Plane travel with 6 month old triplets

The most important thing to know is that we survived.  It can be done!  Although I HIGHLY recommend having a 1:1 adult to child ratio if at all possible.  Even better if you can somehow arrange to have more adults than kiddos!  We were VERY thankful that Hope, our PT nanny, was able to rearrange her schedule to make the trip with us.  We were also fortunate that for 3/4 of our long flights we were traveling with Kate, Claude, & Abigail which meant our adult to child ratio was 5:4 for those flights.

Honestly, the babies were very good travelers overall.  They were not the babies you loathe sitting by on the plane who cry endlessly.  Sure, there was some crying and fussing, but there was also a lot of sleeping and quiet time.  When I first thought about flying with the babies I pictured all of us sitting in one section of three seats, passing babies around at will, helping each other as needed.  Sadly, that pretty little picture isn't possible because there aren't 6 oxygen masks in one row.  So only one person with a lap child can be in each set of three seats.  An exception seems to be the tiny planes that fly to/from State College where they have a few rows with extra oxygen masks because we were allowed to sit by each other on those flights as long as we were in the right row.  So the best plan for seats is to have two people in aisle seats across from each other and the third directly in front or behind.  We had to learn that lesson the hard way and pay for it (literally) on the way home.  Our flight from O'Hare to LAX was packed and since we booked last minute we were stuck with two middle seats and one window.  This is NOT good when you have babies because you are essentially trapped.  That was by far the worst flight of the trip.  Luckily, Claude had an aisle seat and was willing to carry, bounce, & walk the fussy baby up and down the aisle.  He'd settle one down and pass the baby back to us just in time for another baby to get handed to him!  It was MUCH easier when we were all on the aisle like we were for the rest of the long flights.  Sometimes the babies just needed us to stand up & bounce or rock them for a minute or two to get them back to sleep and that was much easier to do with an aisle seat.

On our first flight.  Isn't that carrier Michelle's
wearing cute?  We borrowed two Tula carriers
from a friend & they're so cute (also too
expensive for us to justify buying!)

Before the trip I packed a mini diaper bag for each of to have with us so we'd have quick access to key things.  In each bag I packed disposable diapers, an extra cloth diaper cover, wipes, a burp cloth, a wet bag (for dirty/wet clothes), two plastic grocery bags (for dirty/wet diapers), a pacifier, an extra sleeper, and snacks.  I carried the big backpack diaper bag and had extra extras of all of those things plus a cooler section with bottles and food in it.  And when I say food, I mean small tubs of guacamole and hummus that we were able to take through security because I told them it was baby food.  (Hey, I wasn't lying...the babies ate both of those things!  They did share with the adults though!)  One thing I didn't really think about until we were in flight was just how hard it would be to access anything in the bag with a baby on my lap!  It is hard enough to get to things in your bag under the seat in front of you when you're by yourself, but when you've got a baby on your lap or in a carrier on your chest, it's next to impossible!  So many of our snacks did not get eaten because it was so hard to get to them and not worth risking waking a sleeping baby! 

As you know, we are cloth diaper fanatics here so it was weird for us to use disposable diapers for this entire trip, but was certainly simpler.  We have hated disposables thus far in life, mostly because almost without fail, every time we use them we seem to have poop blowouts.  So in an attempt to avoid having to deal with this on the airplane we decided to have the kiddos all in disposables with a cloth diaper cover on top to contain any blowouts.  And it worked like a charm! 

We briefly debated bringing a stroller, but quickly decided against it because we knew my mom had strollers in Hawaii and because we rarely use strollers anyway, opting for babywearing instead.  And we figured that would just make getting on/off flights more difficult.  Post trip, I think that was a very wise decision as was checking their car seats and all of our luggage.  All we had to deal with on the flights was one baby in a carrier and one backpack each.  This made it so we didn't feel the need to pre-board (not that United pre-boards kids anymore anyway! Can you believe that?!) and could wait til the end of the boarding process minimizing our time on each plane.  The thing I was worried about was whether the babies would sleep, or even be somewhat content, in the carriers because at home they often fuss if we try to sit or even stop moving, but on the planes they did pretty well for the most part. The other nice thing about the carriers is that you can wear the babies through security which just made that whole process smoother for us.  In fact, when we were on our way to Hawaii we had a 4 hour layover at O'Hare and were able to leave our backpacks with Hope and take the babies out of security for a short visit with Michelle's mom Denise! 
Happy Grandma, happy babies!

How we went through security!  The TSA agent
looked at me funny when I handed her 3 boarding passes
because she didn't notice the baby on my back! =)

We borrowed a very large bag from a friend and Hope has a big USA rugby suitcase and we were able to pack for all six of us in those two bags which cut down on our check bag fees.  We also borrowed two car seat luggage bags from another friend and were able to fit all three seats in those two bags.  Not that it mattered since they check car seats for free.  But, did you know that if something happens to your car seat or stroller when it's checked the airline isn't responsible for fixing it?!  I know this because one of the car seat bags was damaged on the way home and when I went to file the claim the person told me that they would repair or replace the bag, but she had to check on it since she knew car seats & strollers weren't covered, just bags!

We were thankful for the layovers in the airports as they gave us all a little time to stretch and move our bodies.  It also gave us time to cool off because wearing babies can make you pretty hot!  Oh, that's one tip I missed, if you're wearing a baby, I recommend short sleeves with a zip uo hoodie you can put on over the carrier if you get chilly.  Anyway, back to the layovers.  As we do pretty much anywhere we go, we made quite the spectacle when we had all three babies laying down on the floor in the airport!  Actually, that was really the only time we were a spectacle during the trip though, because with three women all carrying babies people tended to assume that we were all just moms carrying our own baby so we flew under the radar a lot.  During our long layover at LAX on the way out Kate & I moved a row of benches to cordon off a nice little area where we all camped out for a while. 

our LAX daycare =)

 All in all I think the trip was a huge success and I'm so so glad that we decided to bring everyone.  It will be interesting to see how things are different when we make this journey again with three almost 10 month olds this summer!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Namesake takes on new meaning

It's been almost three weeks since I last posted, which I think is the longest I've gone without a post. It's not for lack of having anything to say, but rather for a lack of time and feeling at a loss of words to express what I'm thinking and feeling.  Our family suffered a terrible tragedy when my little brother Matt, only 26, was killed in a car accident near where he lived on the big island of Hawaii on April 6th.  We are all shocked and incredibly sad about this terrible loss.  I've been struggling not just with my personal loss, but also the huge loss to the triplets who won't know their dear Uncle Matt.

We found out on the evening of the 6th and immediately began intense planning to be able to make the trip to Hawaii to be with my family.  We flew out early Tuesday morning and arrived late Tuesday night almost 24 hours after leaving our house.  (I'll write another post about the traveling and lessons we learned on the trip.)  It was very good to be with the whole family as we all processed this terrible loss.  Being all together meant we were able to fall apart & cry together and also to hold each other up as the intensity of the grief hit us each at different times.  We spent a lot of time quickly planning a memorial for Matt, which was held on Saturday the 12th down at Laupahoehoe Point, about a mile from my parents' house.  The memorial was "very Matt" and a perfect send off for the lively and loving young man that he was.  We created a memorial website for Matt that has links to pictures and the video from the memorial in Hawaii.  Matt was loved by so many in so many places that there are also memorials in Seattle, NYC, and WI that have either already happened or are being planned for May and pictures & videos from those events will be added to this page.

It was a tough decision to pack up three babies and bring them all the way to Hawaii, but I'm so glad we did.  They provided many desperately needed smiles and snuggles in that difficult week (and continue to do so every day).  It was fun to be in Hawaii where they could just be in onesies or even just in their diapers and not have to deal with pants, socks, etc.  We were pleasantly surprised that they all (even Avery) did very well with so many different people holding them and playing with them.
The triplets in their coordinating outfits for Uncle Matt's memorial
with three of the many friends who held them
I'm so thankful that my brother was able to come visit us in January and meet the triplets.  He sure did love being an uncle and many friends at the memorial came up to me and told me that Matt showed them lots of pictures and videos of the babies. One of my biggest regrets is that we didn't take more pictures or any videos of Matt with the babies while he was here.  He was so good with them and loved to stand them up and make them dance.  It was so cute and I so wish I'd captured it on film for them.  We did get some pictures from Matt's computer that he'd taken with his iPhone during his visit and I'm thankful for that.  I'm also very thankful that we decided to name Isaiah after his two uncle Matts (Michelle's brother is also named Matt).  It makes me cry a mix of happy and sad tears every time I think about Isaiah being Matt's namesake and already I can see Matt's joyful spirit shining through his nephew.  It makes me smile to see Isaiah do his little Irish jig style happy dance when he sees me because his Uncle Matt sure did love to dance. =)
Isaiah with his namesake
 I miss Matt so much and am so incredibly sad that he won't get to see the triplets grow up and that they won't get to really know what a wonderful guy he was.  As a family, we decided that a portion of the memorial donations for Matt will be placed into an "Uncle Matt" fund that will be split equally between his nieces and nephew so that when they graduate highschool a chunk of their college money will be a gift from their Uncle Matt. I think that will be so meaningful for Isaiah, Avery, Ellie and their big cousin Abigail, all of whom were dearly loved by their Uncle Matt. 

Now that we are home and all spread out around the country again grieving feels harder.  The demands of every day life require energy I sometimes don't feel like I have.  And it feels odd to just keep doing all the "normal" things when things feel far from normal inside.  The intense waves of grief hit at random times, often when I'm alone driving in the car and have time to think.  The best bit of counsel our family received in the days following Matt's death was the metaphor comparing the grief of losing a loved one to a rock.  It starts out as a boulder that you have to carry, that doesn't fit in your pocket, and that can knock you down at times.  But over time that boulder gets worn down and eventually becomes a nice smooth pebble that you carry in your pocket and you find comfort and joy in the memories as you rub your fingers against it from time to time.  We're definitely still in "boulder mode" around here but even in these darkest of days we still find joy in the memories of all the good times with Matt that we will forever treasure.  As the triplets get older we will be intentional about sharing those memories with them.  Thank you to everyone who has supported our family in these difficult times.
Matt & his sleepy little nephew

Uncle Matt making Avery dance on his knees

Uncle Matt snuggling little Ellie

Saturday, April 5, 2014

More 6mo pics

Here are the shots from Wednesday afternoon as promised! Of course they had to be all dressed up to celebrate their half birthday!

Our "big kids" sitting up on the couch

well...kinda sitting (as Ellie & Isaiah slowly slide down)

Oops!  Lost one!

And we're back!

Oh man!  There we go again!  Time to move on Mom!

Isaiah says "Okay, now this I can do!!"  

Ellie says "beat this guys!"

Isaiah-"peace out guys!"

"Do these jeggings make my legs look fat?"

"Ooh, I got this sitting thing!"

"Jazz hands!"

"Oops!  Might've gone a little overboard with the jazz hands!"

Big boy!  LOVE this polo on him!

"Um, Mom...I don't feel to steady here!"

"Oh, yup, there I go again!"

"Ugh, I give up!"


"Wanna see my belly?"

"just kidding!"

"Ahaha!  Aren't I funny?!"
 I made the babies oatmeal banana pancakes for dinner to celebrate their half birthday.  Maybe we'll have to make a tradition out of this! =)
Isaiah trying his birthday pancake

Ellie's not so sure

"Um, Mom, where's the cake?!  I though birthdays
meant cake and you can't fool me with this "pan"-cake thing!"