Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Grange Fair--A true central PA experience

Tonight we took the kiddos to participate in an iconic central Pennsylvania experience--The Grange Fair.  I had never heard of the grange fair, but three years ago, on my very first day of work here, I had to run a booth at the grange fair and my first thought was "Where the heck did we move?!?"  Let me tell you, the culture shock of moving from Seattle to central PA could not have been more intense than it was that day!  So for those of you who are not from central PA let me just tell you a little about the grange fair.  This year was the 141st year of the grange fair and it is one heck of an event.  There are somewhere in the neighborhood of 1500 RVs and 1000 permanent tents at the grange fair and people literally move in for the week, complete with beds, couches, and refrigerators.  It is truly a sight to behold...like a little city just popping up overnight.  It is like 4H on steroids meets a supersized carnival.  Really there are two different carnival companies that set up their rides and an insane amount of artery clogging carnival food.  Our good friends Deirdre and Garren are back in town for the week so we all went to the fair together tonight.  We passed some pretty cute cowboy hats and convinced the girls to try them on.  How cute are these pics?

The kiddos had a blast seeing all the animals!  They liked watching the goats being silly and jumping around in their stalls.  But the highlight of all highlights was getting to see and even pet some horses!  They were so excited to see all the horses and were sad that they couldn't pet every single one.  We even found a horse named Ellie.  Ellie was so cute on the drive home because every time we'd talk about the horse she would chime in with "one named Ellie!"  Of course we had to take a picture of her with Ellie the horse.

On a whim Michelle suggested that we take the kiddos in to tour some of the open RVs that they had for sale and that turned out to be a hit.  The adults were surprised at how nice they were and the kids had a blast trying out all the beds.

Michelle and I have been doing the Whole30 this month as a nutritional reset and we didn't figure there would be a single thing at the fair that was Whole30 compliant so we brought dinner with us.  I'd venture a guess that we were the only people in the sea of probably 5000 eating kale salad for dinner! The kiddos, as usual, also enjoyed mooching food from our friends and had a good time running around being silly in the grass.

As we were leaving we saw a few fire trucks so of course we had to stop and see them.  They were being pretty cute and let us snap a few pics of them all sitting on the fire truck.  Here are the best ones! And while they were being this adorable a couple came up to us and asked if they were triplets, which happens all the time, but they were asking because they are pregnant with triplets and had been dying to see triplets in real life!  So we assured them that it could be done and also that they would be amazed how little sleep they could manage on. =)

the perfect out-past-bedtime shot...

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Triple(t) Threat Fish School

Well, we officially have three swimmers!  Ellie waited all summer to really go for it, but over the past week, go for it she did!  And she's rocking it! Ellie wanted to hold my hand to jump in for a while, but then I asked if she would hold Avery's hand and she did!  Next thing I knew they decided they should all hold hands and jump together.  It is quite possibly the cutest thing ever!  Here is a video compilation of many attempts! (Sorry about the spotty underwater camera action, but we are just guessing since we can't see the screen!)

Our three little fish...

They are soooo much fun at the pool and they love it.  All morning they were asking me to "go back to pool!" and had a meltdown when it was time to leave.  I honestly can't get enough of watching them swim and they are so cute and love to watch these videos too!

Twenty-two month old triplets

our little artists...
So our triplets are now 22 months old.  I started this post two weeks ago and am just now getting it up.  I've noticed that over the past couple weeks, when people ask how old they are I say "they'll be two in October." rather than saying they're 22 months.  Maybe it's my own way of mentally preparing myself for that day!?!  Anyway, they are getting so big and doing and saying new things every day.  Michelle's family saw them at fourth of July and then again three weeks later and they were all shocked by how much more they were all talking. It is not at all uncommon now to hear three word sentences coming out of their mouths.  And they love to talk and love to listen to us talk about things we have done and people we know.  Whenever they start to get fussy in the car we try two things, 1) singing songs or 2) talking about people/things we've done.  They are very empathetic kids and whenever anyone is sad they want to talk about it over and over again! They have incredible memories.  And like most almost two year olds, a lot of what they say is pretty hard, if not impossible to understand.  With context we know what they are saying maybe 90% of the time, but without context, like when they are talking about things we did months ago, our understanding drops precipitously!  All three of them have started this cute thing of saying "mommymama, mommymama." And they are starting to talk to each other and play with each other a lot more too.

They have also gotten a lot faster, which can be tricky when they all head different directions!  All three have also learned to jump off the ground with both feet over the past two months, though only Ellie does it every time.  They are much more adventurous on playgrounds now too.  It is fun to watch them try new things.  (Stay tuned for an upcoming post about parenting on the playground!) They like doing more fine motor activities too like painting and coloring and puzzles now too. Over the past month we went "all in" with potty training and they're all doing very well.  It is far from perfect or stress free, but we are out of diapers completely when they are awake.  We still do diapers for naps and overnight, but they sometimes wake up dry, especially Ellie.  I'll have to write a post soon about the experience of potty training triplets! Oh yeah, and they learned to swim this summer.  Be sure to check out the video if you haven't seen it yet!  And I'm posting a new one tonight too!  They've really grown up a ton this summer!

taken 6/4/15
6 weeks later


Ellie belle is getting so big!  She is definitely the biggest of the trio.  Ellie does like to eat, but she can get pretty finicky, especially at breakfast!  The girl does NOT like eggs 90% of the time, but then on random mornings she will gobble them up and ask for more.  Oh toddlers and their eating habits! Ellie has cut all four of her canines this month, but they are taking a long time to push through.  As they were emerging she went through a pretty rough period of biting, but that seems to be improving now.  This little girl LOVES her baby dolls and the color pink!  She is particularly obsessed with the "pink baby!"  She loves to push her baby around in the stroller that Grandma Stephen bought for them at a yard sale and put them to bed in a little crib.  The annoying thing is that she constantly asks us to do it for her and as soon as we put the baby in the stroller she takes it out and immediately asks us to do it again!  She likes to "pick" out her own dress/outfit in the morning and rarely chooses anything that isn't pink.  Ellie has a cute little voice and she was the first one to switch from calling Isaiah "Aya" to "A-yay-yah." She has gotten really good at counting to ten and can pretty much do it all by herself though she likes to do it with us.  Ellie LOVES to jump!  She is the best at jumping with two feet and wants to do it all the time, especially in the pool!  Ellie likes to practice things over and over to learn them.  She likes to play catch and worked very hard at learning to catch a ball.  She isn't as much of a water lover as the other two, but she has also learned to swim under water a couple feet by herself in the past couple weeks.



She may be our littlest peanut but it is not for lack of eating.  This girl could eat all day long.  She is definitely a grazer, but at some meals she can really pack away the food and we wonder where she puts it all!  She is also obsessed with nursing lately and gets pretty ticked when it's time to be "all done milk."  Speaking of, in a recent post we talked about how Avery tends to be pretty even keeled, but that is less and less the case lately.  Her tantrums tend to be pretty short, but they are happening pretty frequently when life doesn't go her way.  And let me tell you, this girl has ideas about how things should be and isn't afraid to tell you!  Avery probably has the most unique three word phrases of the bunch.  She really has a knack for words and grammatical structure.  Over the past month she has started using pronouns like "I" and "he" and has added -ing to verbs so now when we're out and about she'll just comment on the world around her and say "he's running."  She loves to "talk" and particularly likes us to talk about her little friend Noah.  Avery is a little fish!  The girl is gutsy and will jump off the bench in the pool and will even jump off the side of the pool.  And she will do it over and over again.  Unlike the other two Avery hasn't cut any new teeth yet. Avery is also our little baby and animal lover.  She spots doggies everywhere and wants to pet every single one. She also likes to pet babies! =)


He is a funny little boy.  Isaiah loves to be silly and watch your reaction.  His new thing is that he likes to jump up and instead of landing on his feet he just lands straight on his butt like he is on a trampoline, only he will do it straight onto the floor!  He loves to do it and just look at us and crack up.  Isaiah was the last one to learn to climb out of his crib, but the sleep sack worked wonders to keep him in the crib.  In fact, a few times he would start climbing out while I was still in the room and I would ask him if he needed his special blanket and he said yes.  So I put it just over his arms and didn't even put his legs in or zip it and he just laid down and went right to sleep!  So cute!  Isaiah's little voice is adorable.  He continues to be our biggest babbler and can go on long tangents with an intelligible word sprinkled in here and there!  He language has really blossomed this summer.  His cutest phrase hands down is "bye bye. see ya!" which he says repeatedly because he likes to to leave a room and then come back. He has a lot to say, but when he is even a little bit upset he has a really hard time using any of them! Isaiah has been in a rut lately of waking up from a great afternoon nap super duper crabby. =(  And sometimes he just wants to cuddle, but other times even when I try to cuddle him he throws a fit.  He has made huge progress with sleeping lately (see this post for more info), which has been a huge relief, though we do still have our occasional early morning snuggles. Isaiah also cut all four of his canines recently though there are just barely through the gums.  Since both of his sisters get to pick dresses hanging up in the closet he wanted to wear dresses too.  So we hung up all of his rompers and so now if you ask him what he wants to wear he will often say "dress." =)  And really, they are mostly like a dress because with this whole potty training gig we rarely snap the snaps!

These three continue to keep us on our toes!  Truly, they are all incredibly funny, loving, and sweet kiddos.  They are also wiley, busy, and testing little toddlers.  So ya know...on our good days, well, in the good moments, they are just a joy to be with and we love watching them interact with each other...and in the not-so-good moments they make us want to pull our hair out and run away.  But we never will, because, really, we can't imagine it any other way.  We are so lucky to have these three amazing almost two year olds in our lives.


Sunday, August 9, 2015

The 5% days

I feel like 95% of the time I have a good handle on being a mom to triplets. Then there's the other 5% of the time.  And those are tough times around here.  Don't get me wrong, this job is almost never easy and even during the 95% of the time when I feel like I have things reasonably under control it is only because of monumental effort and a little bit of luck.  This past week has been weighing heavily in the 5% category though and I think it's important to talk about those times too.  My posts, including the one I'm almost done with, are typically pretty positive and documenting all the fun times we are having.  And that's great, because we do have a lot of fun together, most of the time.  But some times and some days aren't fun, we aren't cheery, and we don't look like the perfect family that so many people think we are.  Because, well, we have three toddlers.  And if you have raised a toddler or spent any significant amount of time with a toddler you will surely remember the big volatile emotions, the huge messes, and the incessant need to control their environment that goes along with this age.

These "toddler moments" where they are throwing a fit, demanding to be held or to do something themselves, dumping toys or food all over the floor, or peeing or pooping on the rug are just part of the territory and they come and go throughout the day/week. But those of us raising triplets have three of those little beings at once, who occasionally all have "toddler moments"  at the same time.  And simultaneous "toddler moments" is a recipe for disaster and likely to make me feel like I can't do it or am not a good mom.  And then there are life stressers unrelated to triplets like work/school, money, house stuff, health issues, etc that can throw off your mom mojo too.

this, for example, threw me off my game this week!
This week I was dealing with this persistent tendonitis in right elbow, low back pain, and a killer headache and it is incredible how pain can color your outlook on life.  Everything just seemed that much harder, and sometimes impossible.  And I don't know if it was just that or if the kiddos "toddler moments" were just lining up more often this week, but I had a really hard time and repeatedly felt like I was going to lose my mind.  I think at heart I am not a patient person and have worked very hard at being more patient with the kiddos, but this week I failed and got frustrated much faster and easier. I pushed them through things (like getting dressed) that I would normally wait for them to do themselves. When I get frustrated with the kids I typically roar so that I don't yell and they know exactly what that means and will start roaring too and saying "mommy frustrated."  This week I yelled.  I hate yelling.

So what do you do during those 5% times, that sometimes feel like days or weeks? Run away?!  That's what I wanted to do Wednesday morning!  But since that's not an option (Michelle would hunt me down anyway!), here are some things I try to do to get through the hard times/days/weeks. I don't always remember to do these things in the moment, and I have my own little "mommy meltdowns," which is why some of the ideas are for later.

1) Step away & take a deep breath.  This is HARD!  It is hard to remember in the moment, when there's a toddler spat in the works or when there is a mess in progress it is hard to walk away.  But if you can do it it's often worth the bigger clean up because you get a second to regroup.  Walking away is easier said than done sometimes, when there is one or more toddlers pulling at your pantlegs whining and wanting up.

2) Call in reinforcements.  Don't do what I did early this week and say "it'll be fine" and send your partner off to work.  When there is flexibility, like we are lucky to have, just ask for help.  Thankfully I have an amazing wife who knew that it wouldn't be fine.  Well she knew we'd survive, but she could also see that I was struggling and that it wouldn't be fun for any of us.  So she came home early one day and she stayed a little longer in the morning another day so we would have better odds.  And when she is home she takes on kid duty and I take a break (meaning I wash the dishes from breakfast in peace or start the next load of laundry!)  If your partner can't help, then ask friends or hire the neighbor's kid to come over for an hour so you can shower and paint your toenails or even just do the dishes in peace!  Schedule a playdate somewhere fun.  Getting out of the house on days like those can be hard, but it's usually worth the effort because being somewhere new, at least for our kids, tends to help with their moods and having another adult to vent to and to help out when one of your kids is melting down is so helpful.

3) Try to find some "me time" and take care of yourself.  Get up a little earlier and take a long shower.  Decide that for this nap time you are going to do something for yourself and let the dishes or the laundry wait.  That's what I'm doing right now.  There's laundry to do, vacuuming that's long overdue, dinner needs to be made, and there toys all over the living room.  But just before this nap was a 5% time.  Avery stuck her entire hand in her yogurt, Ellie spilled her entire bowl of yogurt on the floor, & Isaiah pooped & peed on the floor, all within a two minute time period.  So, the laundry will get done after bedtime and we might be punting for dinner, but I needed this time.  And I will be a better mom because of it.

4) Apologize.  Toddlers understand big feelings.  They have them all. the. time.  So when I have my little mommy meltdowns and lose my cool and do not wait patiently, I apologize.  Sometimes that apology has to wait until after I walk away and take a deep breath, and sometimes it has to wait until after nap time when everyone has calmed down.  But I always try to apologize to my kids.  When we have all had a chance to calm down I talk about how I was feeling frustrated or mad (and why) and then I apologize for not staying calm, etc.  And they get it.  They aren't even two yet, but they get it.  I can say "I'm sorry I yelled.  Mommy was feeling frustrated.  Do you know why mommy was feeling so frustrated?" and often one of them will chime in with an answer.  Today Avery said "yogurt" because she'd stuck her hand in it despite me already asking her not to and having just washed her hands.  And if they don't answer then I talk to them about the behaviors that were so frustrating so they can start to make the connection.  And I finish my apology with big hugs.  When I failed to model our family values and the behavior I want from my kids initially, then at least I try to model the apology.

5) Wait for the storm to pass & enjoy the sunshine. This moment, this challenging toddler time, this too shall pass.  And because toddlers are like Jekyll & Hyde, even in the middle of your hardest days they will do things that melt your heart.  Savor those moments.  Take pictures or videos so you can look at their sweet little faces and remind yourself that you do indeed love them with all of your heart the next time you catch them intentionally being little monsters!  This happened in the middle of one of my tough days this week...
totally organic naked triplet hand holding!  Is there anything cuter?
Isaiah wanted to be the first one to Mommy!
ring around the rosey in the nude.  Avery fell down, Isaiah squatted & Ellie
was like "heck no I'm not sitting in the grass with a bare bum!" & took off the other way!