To the 3rd Power

Defeated by three…most of the time…

Back in the school days you had to learn what it was to “square” a number or put it to a higher power. I think I learned this lesson when I had kids. While there are other families with more unique situations than ours, the “3 kids under 3” attribute certainly does bring its challenges. In fact, there are many times where our family and friends don’t realize the “issues”. We hear, “I never thought of that before”.

While many families of three or more are “spaced out”, the challenge of three about the same age yields some interesting experiences. I always covet that mom in the store that holding the hand of one child and has a baby on her hip.

Scenario #1: Senior Citizens are Doing Their Job

I learned this lesson very early on in my multiple kid days. I ran out of formula (gee, how does that happen with twins), so it was off to the store. In typical mom fashion, the journey began first thing in the morning before naps. Break down to a long story: I traveled to FOUR different stores. Why? All of the shopping carts were retreived by the seniors working the day/cart shift and placed nicely in the stores. The parking lots looked like a well manicured lawn. How are you suppose to get three kids into the store in cold Nebraksa weather? You can’t leave your kids in the car to get a cart from within; it is against the rules. The fourth place had one strangling cart left in the cold weather for this mom. Now, in a cart not built for 3, how do you load them up?

Scenario #2: It Always Requires Two – But, You Still Place Defence

When they are mobile…it is all over.

  • You always have to have a stroller with you. Once, it was a nice day, and I thought I would let the kids walk into an establishment. Bloody wrong move mom! One went to play by the gutter in the grass, one went running into the parking lot, and the other one went running down the sidewalk in the opposite direction.
  • Going to the “play zones”…it takes about 10 sets of eyes. One child goes running out of the play zone, and they think it is hilarious…so we keep doing it. Crap…where is the “older” child…you go in to a state of utter panic. Oh…she is in the tunnel. While you are worrying about the “older” child, the third child decides it would be fun to get a football fields length from you. While your retrieve the third child, the first one is out of the play zone again. You get the idea…it goes on and on.
  • Even playing outside is tough. Everyone wants mom to help them. We are learning the world of sharing and patience. But, to put it mildly with three under 3, the three year old got fed up, so she went in the house to watch a “show”. There just wasn’t enough bandwith of mom.

Scenario #3: There will always be a MAY DAY!

When there are three little ones…it just doesn’t fail that there is going to be a “fun scenario” of the day. When there were two babies and one in potty training, it never failed, we always had to go potty when the babies were feeding. We had the major “slip and fall” in the bath tub. We have had poop on the floor. We have had the split lips. We have had the sickness times three, to the power of three. Just think of your normal activities in life, then add three kids that need YOU….in all forms, mentally, phyically, and emotionally.

While I love every single minute, and many times I sit back and laugh…I know it will go by fast. I didn’t plan for three under three, but as the saying goes, “We may not have it together, but together we have it all.”

Lesson Learned: Everything in life is interesting when you power it by three. But, everything good in life is better when it is multipled.

What tips do you have to surive the everyday life chores with three little ones?

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Where is Belle’s mom?

It has been one of those weeks where you question everything as a mother. Am I doing this too much?…Should I be doing this?…Which approach would be better? And, if you are like our household, we are usually entering some new phase that begs the question: “How do we handle this one?” That question even gets asked with the subsequent children, as it all changes with each child, let alone when you have multiples.

While I was having one of those frustrating moments in mommyhood (I couldn’t even tell you what it was now….fighting over toys, whining teeth popping children, or what did the 3-year-old just pull now?), I took a step back.  One of my girls was playing with a Disney Princess figurine. As I watched her, I thought: Why don’t any of these Disney Princesses have mothers? Now, I know you are asking yourself…why isn’t she telling us her tactic in handling the current situation at hand? But, that is what you do as a mom…you have all these random thoughts go through your head in crazy times.

Parents aren’t made into figurines

Today, there is such an extraordinary emphasis on father figures playing a role in a daughter’s life. In fact, my husband has read the book, “Strong Daughters, Strong Fathers” twice. He is mentally prepping himself for handling three girls in high school. He started this ritual while they were in the womb! But, why do these characters that three-year olds idolize (I know…there is a lot of parenting philosophies on that one!), don’t have a wonderful mother figure in their life? And, how do you become the glorious mother figure that isn’t represented?

What’s funny is the last time I checked, my action figure wasn’t being sold at Target. While girls have toys to role play the mother figure and figures in doll houses that represent the mother, the “role” isn’t really illustrated in what they idolize as young ones.

The Answer

Well, I can be certain of one thing, my girls probably have seen all the sides of my mothering since being blessed with 3 girls under 3. But, the question nagged at me. So, because I have so much free time, I searched for the answer. The glorious Internet provided:

“Disney doesn’t write these stories! They are based on myths, legends, folktales,fairy tales, etc. They are from time periods in which children frequently were motherless, because women died in childbirth or simply fell ill and died because of the work that had to be done back then.”

Well, if that isn’t a dismal answer. However, I found a much more interesting one that fit the times of today. At the Huffington Post, a more satirical account of what it would be like if the Princesses did have moms today is addressed. I mean lets face it, as moms, don’t we have to prepare our young girls that some shining knights do break your heart, not all the animals are your friends, and beauty isn’t just skin deep.

It Comes Full Circle

The journey of motherhood is never-ending. However, I am learning that the role you play is closely linked to your own mother. There are the times that you vow you will never become her. Then, you catch yourself one day…damn, I am like her.

And, if you want a visual of what you are like as a mother, watch your 3-year-old mother her younger siblings and dolls. Wow…do I really say that? Is that how I respond to things. While, of course, not all her illustrations are bad…it does bring light to how your “mother” your daughter.

So, I would like to see one Princess movie be released where I don’t have to explain why the step-mother is mean.  In the meantime, I will be putting on my “Queen Tiara” and role play with my girls.

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The Most Dreaded Hour

I bet you are guessing I am talking about those sleepless nights with a newborn? Nope. What about those long waits at the doctor’s offices? No. Putting your kids to bed? No…not that hour either. Maybe there are more hours that we dread than I originally thought.

I am talking about that painful hour…the one where it sneaks up on you and whammys you with mommy burnout. It is the one right before dinner and when you are anticipating dad (or the significant other) to get home from work.

It Struck 4pm

It is anyone’s guess on what you are going to receive during that hour. We started out happy and playing. The three-year old was entertaining herself with her new toys she received for her birthday. The twins were toddling about, mostly after what their older sister was doing. Then it happened. The clock struck 4pm and all hell broke loose.

There was 2.1 surround sound whining from the twins. This resulted from fatigue and cutting teeth. There was a 3 year old running around in her underwear bouncing off the walls. The living room went from a domesticated place to a battlefield. As I attempted to even make dinner, my entire pantry ended up on the kitchen floor, along with an entire box of Cheerios (each little morsel waiting to be stepped on). When asking my toddler what she was doing, along with the twins, she responded, “We are making messes. We like messes.” Well, if that isn’t the truth.

We went from peace, to boiling water all over the stove, crunched up Cheerios on the floor, and the beautiful melody of crying twins still playing in the background. I watched diligently and that clock took what seemed like 3 hours to move to the 5pm hour.

It’s Not 5 o’clock Somewhere…It’s FINALLY 5 o’clock HERE!

As I heard the vibrations of a car enter my garage, I heard angels singing with all their majesty. The house had a glow to it, and the girls ran like little jackrabbits to greet their daddy. Jeez…is time with me a jail sentence? They looked at their father adoringly…the 3 year old asking about his day and the twins pointing, smiling saying da-da. These little creatures turned into pleasant ladies.

The hubby enters, “Hi…wow, looks like you had fun! You look a little worn out, hon.” Let’s keep in mind folks, while work may not be glamorous and fun, the hubby is getting 8 hours of quiet, grown up time. A little rough, my friend? Were you  here for the pee soaked bed, the cafeteria lunch room fight, the cry fest of 2012 over the toy everyone wanted, or the “Houston, we have a problem.” moments. I think not. You waltz in the room to three beautiful girls cooing at you and dinner attempted at being done. Meanwhile, there is the background noise of a washer attempting to get your clothes nicely washed for you.

How is it?

Let me make two clarifications. One, my husband does an amazing job in co-parenting. Two, we don’t have 1950 lines drawn on household activities. We could flip this scenario around, as there are many times my husband calls me running errands saying…how much longer are you going to be?

How is it that this one hour of the day always goes from great to down right painful? How is that you have never felt the Alleluia chorus sing so loud as when your back up comes home? How is that if you don’t have back up, you prep your mind and get through the hour, but if you do have back up…you are ready to wave the white flag?

What are your tactics in getting through this dreaded 60 minutes of utter chaos?

So, what is the hubby’s view? Take a read at Odds are 4to 1! Like I am going to “get made up for his return home from work! Ha!

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Is there a graduation for moms?

Graduation…it’s the event that says…”I did it”, “I made it through”, “All of the hard work will pay off!” It is the event that is to set the stage for the next chapter in your life. Ironcially, New Year’s Eve is like a graduation too. It is the the time where we reflect on the year, where we ask ourselves what is great, what needs improvement, and what are our resolutions. What will be our next goals for the forthcoming year. We get to graduate from the previous year and see what the next chapter will bring.

But, I have to ask: as a mom, do you ever really get to commence on a graduation date?
2011 vs. 2012 – Survival vs. Getting off the Island

My 2011 was a year of pure survival. There were times I wanted to raise the white flag and surrender. It was the year of:

  • New fashion statement…to least put water on my body for clean up.
  • Clean up on aisle 10! Did you hear me? Clean up on aisle 10…or wait, that’s me who has clean up duty.
  • The new definition of surround sound-3 kids screaming.
  • Being barracaded like Fort Knox.
  • Traded in my pride for a minivan…earned the swagger wagon badge.
  • F5 tornados surround me…all the time!
  • Inner strength…it got tested, reevaluated, and measured.

What is 2012? It is the year of “taking back control. It is the year to get off the island of “chaos”. (Well, chaos never dies in a household, maybe reach a more controllable chaos?) While “control” might be a strong word, I would like to feel human again. 2011 was either about being a super hero or a washed up rag-a-muffin. In case you aren’t aware, I have three beautiful daughters. Truly, I am blessed. But, did I mention they were all under the age of 2. Yes, 2! I have a two year old and 1 year old twins now. My two year old will be 3 next week, and the twins just turned one. I hear that it isn’t the terrible 2s anymore. From what I hear, the monster is going to knock on my door in a week when the 2 year old becomes a three year old.

Still haven’t seen the degree?

Did I graduate, because I got out of infant stage? My answer…no. Everyone tells my husband and I that, “it will get better.” Well, we are here to say…it doesn’t get better. You just enter the next adventurous stage with its own challenges. Let me be fair…we have pure joy, laughter, and love with these three little ones. However, saying we are on an adventure is an understatement sometimes.

So, my answer is I don’t think you ever really graduate. I think as a parent…that is what you are…ALWAYS, consistently, and ever constant…a parent. They say graduation comes when your children become parents. Then, you get to see what your parenting accomplished. Is this true moms? Somehow I feel that I will always be parenting…that is the joy and the greatest job you get employed at when you decide to have children. But, true be told…my chilren teach me a lot too! It all comes full circle.

What’s ahead…RELAUNCH!

So, this is the year I rededicate this blog. 2011 had its challenges…so this forum wasn’t kept up like it should have been. But, now I present a new twist. There are always two sides to the story, right? (I think the woman is usually right, am I correct ladies?) We are going to launch the “She Said. He Said” take on life in our household. You’ll find it funny, charming, and down right truthful. Here is where you will get my take…and you can read my husband’s take at The Odds Are 4 to 1.

Here’s to a year of rebirth and trying to wear the captain’s hat on this big ship!

So, moms out there…is there a graduation date? Do we earn a degree in motherhood or do we just keep taking life courses?

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Detoxing…12 Step or Military Style

Life has come full circle. I am totally getting paid back for all the times I put my mother through this. Of course, back then, we thought she was totally unreasonable. Now, as a mother, I am shocked that we didn’t send my mother to the loony bin.

In a nutshell, here it is. Detox sucks. If you have kids, you know exactly what kind of detox I am talking about. This is my “sorry” note to my mother.

Taking in too much…

My family of 5 just returned from a long weekend in the Black Hills of South Dakota. My husband’s parents live there, otherwise known affectionately as Grammie and Grandpi. Your child takes massive gulps from the fountain of fun, which entails getting off schedule, getting lots of attention, getting spoiled, and getting to do things they don’t normally do. You know what pain I am talking about. It is the bittersweet blend of watching your child affectionately soak in every ounce of grandparent love. But, in the end, you know you will pay. Once the big gulps have been taken, you know that your child has caught the disease…what I term as Grandmaitis. It is a very common illness that preys on your children. It lingers for way too long. It takes several days to recover from after spending ample time of drinking the love fest for several days.

How do you detox?

Do you try a 12 step program or do you go all military style–break it down and rebuild back up? This is the question the relatively new mom is asking. I secretly thought that by sending my child to daycare the next day after we returned might curb some of this behavior. Backfire! And, it is the wonderful week where my husband gets to work late nights. So, this momma is the only drill sergeant around.

Drill #1…get the child up out of bed for daycare. Drill one wasn’t too pleasant, as she is very sleep deprived from our South Dakota adventures.

Drill #2…curb unusal temper tantrums. We scream that we can’t take a blanket home from daycare.

Drill 3#…unusual behavior with her siblings. Rough play and back talk. Jeez, am I seeing a teenager develop here? Have mercy on me with three girls…we are not prepared for that yet.

Drill #4…bedtime. That one word says it all.

Drill #5…a new activity, dance class. Embarrass mom. Have massive meltdown that we can not play with the parachute again. Dance class is over.

As a drill sergeant, you are supposed to be in control. You own the floor to speak and say commands. With Grandmaitis, the disease is relentless. Oh, and one more thing to the disease, it can be very tricky. It has many disguises. One minute you see a sweet innocent child. The next minute you see the demon. You have to man your posts at all times. It takes a few days to get this disease under control.

How do you deal with Grandmaitis? Because folks, you know darn well your child is going to catch this awful disease once again. But, the really bittersweet factor is you like that your child isn’t immune to it and the grandparents affectionately pass it along.

Lesson Learned: You better clear your schedule and get your big girl panties on. It is a big week to detox.

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I know. I was supposed to be more regular on this blog. But, I have a very good excuse. And, every mother in America will back me up. Actually, I have attempted to write countless times, but I got distracted by a baby crying, the laundry buzzer going off, or the fact that it said some late number on my bedroom clock.

Here is my excuse. For the past two weekends, I have been left home with the kiddos…all by my lonesome. And, let me fully assure you, this was NOT work related on my husband’s part. Oh, you are curious as to where he went. Weekend one was a GOLF trip with three of his co-workers. The second trip was a BACHELOR’S weekend in Minneapolis. No worries though, I was the one that gave the go ahead. I must admit, I was slightly happy inside when I saw his utter guilt of “leaving” me on each trip. I was promised several things upon his leaving.

So, how did it go? Well for starters, I really felt like Superwoman. I mean, we had our moments of chaos, like at bedtime. But, for the most part, the girls were very good to me. And, there was a little bit of cheating. On the second weekend, my parents helped out a bit. They took one of the babies, so I only had two kids. For my sidenote: I praise any mother out there. And, I respect what all women do. I know two kids is tough…but, man-o-man…was it a piece of cake compared to my normal reality. Back to the story…Superwoman got all the kiddos bathed and to bed on time. We had some fun activities like playdates and the park. I even got all kids ready and dressed really cute, including giving myself a shower to meet my parents for dinner one night. I really felt like my cape was looking quite lovely in the summer sun. Did I tell my husband that? Hell no! We just let him feel guilty.

The Cape is Getting Shorter…

But, Superwoman I am not. Here is what happened with T-5 hours of daddy returning home. My youngest, one of the twins was just a nightmare this day. I don’t know if it was teething, not feeling well or what. But, she was not herself and she was very unpleasant! My two-year old and the other twin went to pick up this lovely youngest daughter at my parent’s house. As it always happens at Nana and Poppa’s, we stayed too long. Therefore, everyone was not on a nap schedule or refusing to nap. Chaos had erupted! Every child was screaming as I piled them in the van to ride home. Let me assure you, it was screaming, not crying. To quote my dad, “Kiddo, you really do have it rough. I’m sorry.”

I thought in my head, if I was rich, I would drive for a couple of hours, so they all could sleep. Sure enough, we didn’t make it out of my parent’s driveway and all kids were asleep. It takes about 25 minutes to get to my door, and I was on to something. But, rich I am not.  Chaos #2 would erupt trying to get the kids out of the van. So, I drove for a little while. I visited my sister’s house. I stopped to get a Juice Stop (smoothie–this is a key factor to the story). I thought I at least deserved a treat.  I wouldn’t tell you this detail, but this is important. I always order the “Touchdown”–what can I say, I am from Nebraska! I do not know what is in it, but every DARK possible fruit and liquid there is! After I placed my order, I realized my two-year old was in real underware….CRAP (But, that isn’t what I said in my head, more like $@&*)!! She wears Pull-Ups at nap time. Great, am I going to have to deal with a wet car seat when I get home?

After an hour of driving, I figured I better not waste anymore gas on this budget of mine. Sure enough, the minute I put it into park…all kids were up. At least they had an hour nap. Things were okay, and no wet car seat! I had my wonderful smoothie in the living room…full lid on and everything. I was trying to get my two-year old to try it (we have issues with healthy foods and trying new things–separate blog topic!) Finally, she tried it after a lot of prodding. Yes, she liked it. She asked very sweetly if she could have another drink. I was changing a baby, so I gave her the go ahead. When she went for it, part of the styrofoam fell out of the bottom.

&%$@*#&&^@#&^%&@%#!!!! That is me cursing! You have no idea what landed on my carpet! Did I swear a ton in front of my kids. No…but I was so pissed!! My sweet two-year old looked at me sad and said, “Mommy, time out?” I said, “No, sweetheart, it wasn’t your fault.”

Absolute nightmare begins. How do you contain three kids under the age of 2 while you are trying to figure out how to clean your primary living room carpet with liquid that is 10x worse than red wine? Crap. Crap. Crap.

Well, the stain is still slightly there, anyone have some suggestions for me? A hot iron, water, and towels aren’t doing the trick. (Learned from the Internet.)

The Cape Is No Longer Attached…

How did this lovely evening end you say? AWFUL! Husband returned, tired and whipped. Personally, he didn’t know what whipped meant that this point. We teamed up and tried to get the babies to go to sleep. Sleep they would not. Two year old? On sugar crack or something. It was going on 8:00 pm and not one child was winding down. They were all so incredibly tired. I never did this with my first child, but I said…screw it. I piled them up in the van again. I drove until everyone was completely out and quiet. Did they sleep then? Nope…chaos # who knows what erupted in getting them out of the car.

So, this woman is no Superwoman. We try our best, but there is usually some icing on the cake to bring you back down to reality and say…I am only human. And yes, I plan to cash in for a weekend away so the hubby knows what it is like. Pay back cannot be so pretty. For starters, I made him help me clean this week!

Lesson Learned: Two is better than one. There are no such things as super heros…just moms trying to do their absolute best and manage insanity. But, when it is all over, you look at their sweet faces and wouldn’t want it any other way!

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A lesson I should have already known.

It’s simple people: Don’t do a big project with three little kids, unless you have help. Dah! Right? I know! Who would tackle something in any capacity without soliciting help. Yours truly.

Background Story

My husband and I have wanted to get a “little” landscaping project done for some time now. It goes with the territory we are in, we delayed because of “putting the kids first” (aka: money) and the other desire, time. But, we found a weekend, that “by George” we were going to “Get R’ Done”! And, of course, the weekend we picked was absolutely crappy weather. Plus, as an added bonus, our relatives that help out with the girls were busy. So, this left a husband, a wife, a two year old, and 7 month old twins to get the project done.

…And, here is how it unfolded.

Scratch that. It left a wife with 4 kids to tackle a project. Now, I won’t fudge the story. My husband, “the fouth child”, did almost all the hard work and heavy lifting. He had  the hard physical labor. Me on the other hand…well, let’s just say I didn’t have the easy job. My morning started out with a digruntled, discouraged, and crabby husband with a glimmer of ambition and hope. Think typical 16 year old kid asked to complete a project. Many times, I found him wondering around our front yard pacing, as he was overwhelmed. My job then turned to coach. Now, I can’t be really hard on him. He was attempting this project by himself. However, let me assure you, the project was that intense.

Much of my day consisted of trying to juggle nap and feeding schedules. I also found myself bribing the kids with various objects so they would sit by the front door, in my mere attempts to go out and help the 4th child. My two year old so deparately wanted to be a part of the fesitivites that daddy was doing. When I obliged and let her be a kid, she quickly found it very messy and too hard. So, that was the extent of her “help”. Needless to say, I was a mother, coach, friend, landscaper, psychologist, chef, housekeeper, babysitter…well, there are too many titles to count.

In the end, I was helping my husband at 11pm at night. We had the flood lights on and by George, we were going to get this done. Our neighbors left for a graduation party in the afternoon. When they returned later that night, they couldn’t believe we were still at it. My question to them…have to tried to do a project on your own with 3 under 2? It definitely takes awhile! That’s right, you are way smarter than us! Ha!

So, ladies, this story is to showcase that you are not a lone. While I left a lot of details out, my house projects always leave my husband and I on the brink of divorce (just kidding). Somehow, as mothers, we always have one more child…that is our husbands. They are fantastic in many regards. But, every now and then, they resort to a small child. Isn’t it funny that when a husband has a project, we need to bend over backwards in the planning, helping, orchestrating, cleaning…on and on. And, when the wife has a project, we get asked: “how long are you going to be?”

But, I won’t get too negative. I have a terrific husband in this life adventure. And, there are many things he does do right. If he were telling this story, it would be opposite, wouldn’t it: My wife had a project for me to complete this weekend. Probably true. But, I have come to find out, when men are sick, or in my house, there is a large project…we are raising teenagers.

Lesson learned: Hire help! If you do something monsterous on your own…get a babysitter. Or, if you have the funds HIRE IT DONE!

PS. After all was said and done, my husband got several compliments while mowing our yard. He was pretty proud of himself. I was proud of us too.

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