Sunday, December 7, 2008

Apparently they ARE capable of listening.

We are driving home from school the other night. It is dark and we are on the look-out for Christmas lights. As we near the big intersection near our neighborhood Jack spots a house with several large inflatable figures, including a Santa with a sleigh. "Mommy look! Go down that street!" he begs, but it's kind of a weird, sharp turn and at this time (~5:00pm) there is a line of cars going the other direction that blocks our way. "I can't turn honey; those other cars are in our way". "Are they Indians?" asks Cate. ????? "Indians? I'm not sure what you mean honey?" "Last time when there were cars in our way you said they were In-Dians. You said 'Get out of my way you In-Dians'".
Ahem. Yes, well. Mommy says a lot of things when she is driving.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Home Again

Let's set the scene, shall we?

Jack, footie pajamas unzipped and around his ankles, wearing a red gingham hairband and a goofy grin. Ava, in footie pajamas and wings, rubbing some kind of goo into his stomach. Cate gleefully jumping on the bed nearby in her underwear.

Me: What are you doing?

Cate: We're making him a guard!

Me: What are you rubbing on him?

Cate: Lotion!

Me: Why?

Ava: Because mom, I'm trying to rub it OFF.

I'm not even going to try to figure this one out.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Little Big Man

My baby boy is heading off to his first big-boy sleepover today. He will be sleeping over at Ady's house with her son, Junior, who is a year older. On the way to school today Jack said "Junior is my best friend. And Buzz Lightyear". So big, so little.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Happy 4th Birthday!

My babies are 4 years old today!! Hard to believe, but true. In honor of the day, please indulge me in a little "Then and Now":

Jack THEN and NOW:


Cate THEN:

Cate NOW:

Ava THEN:

Ava NOW:


You've come a long way babies!!
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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Know Yourself

Ava: What is Jack's name?
Me: You tell me. What is Jack's name?
Ava: Jack!
Me: And what is Jack's middle name?
********cricket cricket*********
Ava: Bernard?
Me: Yes!
Ava: What is Jack's last name?
Me: Well, Jack's last name is the same as *your* last name.....?
Cate: I know! Carlsonkids!!

Must Read

My friend Laura sent this to me in an e-mail; I don't know who the original author is, but I can tell you this: she is one smart lady.


What should a 4 year old know?
I was on a parenting bulletin board recently and read a post by a mother who was worried that her 4 1/2 year old did not know enough. "What should a 4 year old know?" she asked.
Most of the answers left me not only saddened but pretty soundly annoyed. One mom posted a laundry list of all of the things her son knew. Counting to 100, planets, how to write his first and last name, and on and on. Others chimed in with how much more their children already knew, some who were only 3. A few posted URL's to lists of what each age should know. The fewest yet said that each child develops at his own pace and not to worry.

It bothered me greatly to see these mothers responding to a worried mom by adding to her concern, with lists of all the things their children could do that hers couldn't. We are such a competitive culture that even our preschoolers have become trophies and bragging rights.
Childhood shouldn't be a race.

So here, I offer my list of what a 4 year old should know.

1. She should know that she is loved wholly and unconditionally, all of the time.

2. He should know that he is safe and he should know how to keep himself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations. He should know that he can trust his instincts about people and that he never has to do something that doesn't feel right, no matter who is asking. He should know his personal rights and that his family will back them up.

3. She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. She should know that it is always okay to paint the sky orange and give cats 6 legs.

4. He should know his own interests and be encouraged to follow them. If he could care less about learning his numbers, his parents should realize he'll learn them accidentally soon enough and let him immerse himself instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud.

5. She should know that the world is magical and that so is she. She should know that she's wonderful, brilliant, creative, compassionate and marvelous. She should know that it's just as worthy to spend the day outside making daisy chains, mud pies and fairy houses as it is to practice phonics. Scratch that-- way more worthy.

But more important, here's what parents need to know.

1. That every child learns to walk, talk, read and do algebra at his own pace and that it will have no bearing on how well he walks, talks, reads or does algebra.

2. That the single biggest predictor of high academic achievement and high ACT scores is reading to children. Not flash cards, not workbooks, not fancy preschools, not blinking toys or computers, but mom or dad taking the time every day or night (or both!) to sit and read them wonderful books.

3. That being the smartest or most accomplished kid in class has never had any bearing on being the happiest. We are so caught up in trying to give our children "advantages" that we're giving them lives as multi-tasked and stressful as ours. One of the biggest advantages we can give our children is a simple, carefree childhood.

4. That our children deserve to be surrounded by books, nature, art supplies and the freedom to explore them. Most of us could get rid of 90% of our children's toys and they wouldn't be missed, but some things are important-- building toys like legos and blocks, creative toys like all types of art materials (good stuff), musical instruments (real ones and multicultural ones), dress up clothes and books, books, books. (Incidentally, much of this can be picked up quite cheaply at thrift shops.) They need to have the freedom to explore with these things too-- to play with scoops of dried beans in the high chair (supervised, of course), to knead bread and make messes, to use paint and play dough and glitter at the kitchen table while we make supper even though it gets everywhere, to have a spot in the yard where it's absolutely fine to dig up all the grass and make a mud pit.

5. That our children need more of us. We have become so good at saying that we need to take care of ourselves that some of us have used it as an excuse to have the rest of the world take care of our kids. Yes, we all need undisturbed baths, time with friends, sanity breaks and an occasional life outside of parenthood. But we live in a time when parenting magazines recommend trying to commit to 10 minutes a day with each child and scheduling one Saturday a month as family day. That's not okay! Our children don't need Nintendos, computers, after school activities, ballet lessons, play groups and soccer practice nearly as much as they need US.
They need fathers who sit and listen to their days, mothers who join in and make crafts with them, parents who take the time to read them stories and act like idiots with them. They need us to take walks with them and not mind the .1 MPH pace of a toddler on a spring night. They deserve to help us make supper even though it takes twice as long and makes it twice as much work. They deserve to know that they're a priority for us and that we truly love to be with them. What does a 4 year old need? Much less than we realize, and much more.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Homage

Last Friday the kids had the day off school, so I took them with me while I ran errands in the morning. We had to stop at the mall to exchange some shoes for Ava, and on the way out we passed by the Christmas tree display at Macy's. Yes, I know it's not even flippin' Thanksgiving and they already have the halls decked......Whatever.

The kids were enchanted with the Christmas tree forest and we spent a happy 30 minutes looking at all the ornaments. The kids were so into the whole thing I told them that they could each pick out one ornament that we would hang on our Christmas tree.

Side bar: timing is everything with 3 year olds. "Can we put it on our Christmas tree when we get home?" "We don't have our Christmas tree yet. We will have to wait." "Until after our naps?" "No, we will have to wait for a while." "After dinner?"

Jack picked out a blown glass candy cane, Ava chose a blown glass Princess, and after much debate Cate settled on a giant star made out of crystal and blue beads. When we got home Jack and Ava immediately wanted to show their prizes to Daddy, but Cate had something else in mind:


It's kind of like the Lion King meets the Nativity, with a little *bling* thrown in for good measure.....

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Another Masterpiece

Ava's work again, but this time her medium is pen and paper. This is a drawing she did a few days ago of her and baby Owen (not the real baby Owen, i.e. Lauren's son, but rather the doll that was named in honor of him, who is, as it happens, a girl.)


I love the detail in this; the way her arms are wrapped around baby Owen, how she used the same color as the jumper baby Owen was wearing that morning, the way that people on her planet only have three fingers on each hand......priceless.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Stuck on You

Ava has discovered tape. Here is a sample of her work:



Notice the tape that attaches the green paper to the glass door. Notice the tape that attaches THAT tape to the door. Clearly the dictum that "less is more" does not apply to tape.

Part of me is tempted to fill her Christmas stocking full of rolls and rolls of tape.....maybe even a few rolls of colored tape, or double-sided tape. I imagine her face lighting up with pure joy as she dumps out roll upon roll upon roll of tape - oh the riches!!

The other part of me is getting tired of reaching for the toilet paper and finding it hermetically sealed in tape.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Conversation

Cate: I thought we were playing??
Me: We are, I just have to go to the bathroom.
Cate: OK, I'll come with you and watch.
Me: No, I would like some privacy this time.
Cate: But mom! I'll just watch!
Me: No. Don't you like to have privacy when you go potty? So do I.
Cate: But mom I also like to people watch!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Polliwogs

The kids started swim lessons a few weeks ago. They are in the "Polliwog" class; five kids per class. In our class the other two are their friends Amelie and Ella. Which means Danielle, Nicole and I get to sit around and chat while intermittently clapping and shouting encouragement to our offspring. We also get to drink G&Ts out of a thermos, except for Nicole who is pregnant (loser!) and except for the fact that I forgot the thermos last time (huge loser!). Next week, I promise! Here are a few snaps of the water doggies:

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Who Cut the Cheese?

On our trip home I bought a can of 'Easy Cheez' or spray cheese, as Brian likes to call it. It is one of the things he likes to eat on long car trips. The others are Skittles and beef jerky. I knew this when I married him, and went ahead with it anyways.

This evening as I was getting dinner ready I broke out the spray cheese and made some crackers for the kids. They were very particular about the shapes they wanted me to make with the cheese; everything from a star to a swirl to a crown, and were not shy at all about critiquing my efforts. Several crackers were summarily rejected. I was somewhere around the 10th cracker when the cheese started running out and the can began sputtering. "The cheese farted!!" yelled Jack and things pretty much went downhill from there. "I want some farting cheese!" "Make me a farting cheese!"
I can't wait until our next cocktail party. "Farting cheese and crackers anyone?"

A moment of panic

As I was driving the kids home from school today I suddenly heard Ava's soft sing-song voice say "I'm pregnant".
This is what it sounded like in my brain: Whuh-uh??? What did she say? Not possible, right? Right. Go with that. What the hell has she been watching? Sponge Bob? That doesn't sound like Sponge Bob....Disney? What the FUCK is Ady teaching them at school?? I thought they were learning about the seasons??
A little louder: "I sa-id you're going to be a father!"
Ah. Yes. Shrek the 3rd. I knew that was an excellent choice of movie for my three year olds.

Sea Crags FTW!

So I've been meaning to get this post up since we returned from vacation a little over two weeks ago, but as soon as we got back both Brian and I were instantly caught up in the you've-been-away-from-your-desk-for-over-a-week insanity and are only now starting to recover.

We were up at Sea Crags for 5 days. It was pure bliss; blackberry picking, playing in the Gualala River, poking around Point Arena and eating fresh huckleberry danish, riding around the meadow in the golf cart, walking on the rocks on the beach, lots of picture-taking for Brian, lots of knitting for Jenn, lots of cousin-time for the kids. Heaven. I've decided that trying to describe the sheer joy that is Sea Crags with mere words is futile, so I'll post a bunch of pictures instead. Suffice to say I love Sea Crags, it is my favorite place on Earth, the seat of my happiest memories, the place where I am most comfortable and at peace with myself and the world. I love the smell of it's earth, the sounds of the forest and the sea, the feel of the heat on my back and the wind in my hair. And I am so very very grateful that my children will have the opportunity to fall in love with it, just as their mother did so many years ago.

Playing marbles with Leif

Cathryn and Sofia contained

At the beach

Cairns

In the river with Denali

I will be updating the web album with more pictures from our wonderful week!

Frisco

We stayed in San Francisco until Monday morning. We arrived earlier than expected on Friday, so had the whole afternoon to noodle around. Our hotel was right by Fisherman's Wharf, so we strolled down to see the Sea Lions.


I thought for sure the kids would be put off by the smell, but they loved it! They especially liked a group that were trying to push each other off one of the docks. Brian said they were playing "King of the Pier"; Ava apparently heard "King of the Beer", which is what she has been calling it ever since.

On Sunday we went to the Exploratorium; hands down the most awesome kid's museum ever. All of us - me, Brian, my 15 year old brother John, and the kids could have happily stayed there all day. Some highlights: drinking out of a toilet, jamming in the xylophone room, trying to walk on a gravel path without making noise and learning to make giant bubbles with our hands.



We went to Chinatown for dinner and bought lots of tacky souvenirs and I found a great purse to match my dress for the wedding for $4.99 - score! As we walked a few blocks up a steep street and then caught a trolley back to the hotel, Jack's face practically glowing with excitement the whole time.

Every time I am in San Francisco I realize it is my absolute favorite city - pretty much the only one in which I would ever even think of living. I am thinking that this strategy of stopping in SF on our way to Sea Crags is good - I would like to have the opportunity to introduce my kids to this wonderful place...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Home Again, Home Again

We are back from our family vacation and I am pleased to report that everyone is alive and doing well! I hope to post bits and pieces from our travels this next week, possibly even with pictures.

We arrived in San Francisco on Saturday, the kids happily playing with glittery Barbie-esque ponies and baby princesses I had bribed them with on the way up......As Brian and I unloaded the stuff and started settling in Cate came up with two of the glitter ponies and announced in a serious voice "This one is Tony Conchono and this one is Garlic".

20 minutes in the city and she's already mobbed up.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Au Revoir

I just said goodbye to one of my very dearest friends who is moving far far away to a land they call South Carolina. My entire body is heavy with that feeling that comes when someone leaves a giant hole in the fabric of your life. I think I might die.

Instead, I am going to get up at 3am tomorrow morning and drive three 3-year-olds to San Francisco. I'm thinking dying might be the better choice.

I love you Kate.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Some Enchanted Evening

First of all, cheers to my wonderful husband and to Mimi who made this possible - you rock!

I had a wonderful evening yesterday. Wonderful. Won. Der. Ful. It all started with a dress.....

I needed to find a dress for the wedding we will be attending next week-end in Palo Alto. I had seen one I liked at Nordstrom about a month ago, but when I went back yesterday the only one they had was not my size. Boo. Lovely salesgirl to the rescue! Turns out the store at South Coast Plaza had the dress in the size I wanted. So - off to SCP! I called Kate on the way and she was able to come meet me. We both agreed the dress was awesome and actually looked nice on me (two things that do not often go together) and even though it was not on sale it was less than $100.00! Okay, not much, but this is Nordstroms we are talking about, and the dress has sequins and beads so I figured it was going to be at least $150-$200, so SCORE! We celebrated with coffee and cake. Coconut cake. And cheesecake.
THEN, I thought "I'm awfully close to IKEA and I need to get a table for my office" so I called Brian and asked if he would mind if I stopped in and guess what he said? "Sure, have a great time!" Just like that. Awesome! So I went to IKEA (my second favorite store in the world after Target) and walked around and looked at everything for almost 2 hours. Took my time. Strolled. At my leisure. Unbelievable. Also, managed to get out for less than $100.00. Holla!
Came home, kissed my studly husband and watched The Daily Show.
Perfect.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Know It All

Ava: Mom! I have a surprise for you! Do you know what it is?
Me: Ummm.....no. What is it?
A: You have to guess.

Is it a mermaid?
No!
Is it a pillow?
No!
Is it a lamp?
No!
Is it a guitar?
No!
Is it a teddy bear?
No!
Is it a giraffe?
Nooooooo!

M: Can you give me some choices?
A: No, you have to GUESS.
M: But it could be anything honey - can't you give me a list and I'll pick?
A: But mooom....you're a teacher and teachers know a lot of stuff.
M: Yes, I know a lot of stuff, but I don't know everything.....
A: Yes you do. Moms and teachers know EVERYTHING.

P.S. The surprise? A bean bag (or as I like to think of it "a random shape cut out of construction paper"). That was my next guess.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin On

So for those of you who watch the news or read the paper you know that we had a fairly big earth quake yesterday in Southern California. Not "the big one", but a 5.4 centered in Chino Hills (not too far from us here in Fullerton) so not too shabby.....

I was in Target at the time, standing in the shampoo&soap aisle, having put the last item I needed into my cart. As things started falling off the shelves and exploding at my feet I had a dim thought at the back of my brain that perhaps this would be a good time to get out of the aisle.....the shaking only lasted ~30 seconds (although it always seems to take FOREVER, doesn't it?) but the store was a total mess. As I pushed my cart to the check-out area I realized they were evacuating the store; Noooooo!!! I caught a cashier's eye and indicated my full cart - "Can I just quickly check out?" I asked sweetly. "We are evacuating the store ma'am. FOR YOUR SAFETY" she said, assuming I was so traumatized I had momentarily lost my mind. No, I've just lived in California too long. Clearly no one was dead and nothing was on fire, so you know, can I just please get on with my day?

The kids were fine; after the shaking stopped Jack asked if Miss Ady could "do it again!" When I stopped over to check on them they greeted me with "Why are you here? Do we have to go home?" Obviously they are scarred for life.

There was a gas leak on the CSUF campus so it was closed for the day. A nice excuse to stay home and knit, but I paid for it today when I opened the door to my office this morning. Piles of books - everywhere. I couldn't see the floor. Oh well, I've been meaning to reorganize and purge anyway, so I suppose this was just the nudge I needed.

All in all we are fine, and thanks to all who called and checked in.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I'll just be sitting over there...um....sitting.

B is in New Jersey, so I treated myself to a night at Jenna and Don's house. I plied them with dinner, and they graciously allowed me to foist my children off on my Goddaughter Jacquelyn for the evening. Jacquelyn is 4? 5? (Yes, I am the worst Godmother ever) and loves to play "big sister" to my three, who absolutely adore her. Especially Cate. Jenna and Don are Cathryn's Godparents, so Jacquelyn has decided that Cate is something akin to a younger sister. She loves to boss Cate around, and surprisingly enough (given Cate's own natural tendency towards bossiness) Cate loves it too.

Around 7:30 we threw them all into the tub, where they splashed and played happily for 20 minutes. Then Jack wanted out. Then Ava. I went to get Cate but when I got to the bathroom Jacquelyn pulled the shower curtain closed and announced they were having "private time". I called over to Don relaying that Jacquelyn and Cate were having private time in the tub. "Oh God. This can't be good." We managed to coax both girls out of the tub and into their jammies. I turned to go into Jacquelyn's room to grab the kids' clothes and was met by Cathryn who holds up her hand and says very seriously "Mom. We need some space."

Sorry kiddo, didn't know I was cramping your style. Can we even imagine what she is going to be like in ten years? On second thought - let's not.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Hello, my name is Jenn and I went camping with my kids.

And you? Do you camp with your kids? Your three kids? In the woods? Because I do. Camp, I mean. With my three kids. In the woods.

I'm thinking about having a badge made. Or maybe I'll put it on my business cards.

I am working on a long, detailed recounting of our camping experience, but thought I would post a short version for those of you who would rather read the Cliff Notes than the novel. Here it is:

I went camping with my kids. In the woods. It was GREAT. The End.

The worship of the CAMPING GODDESS that is me may now begin.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Poop on You

I swear to God that if my son poops in his pants one more time I am going to make him eat it.

Is that wrong?

Monday, July 7, 2008

VBS

On Sunday we went to church. We are fairly regular about this during the academic year, but for some reason we often get derailed in summer and our attendance could be characterized as sporadic at best. I actually like going to church - I love the peace and quiet, the ritual hum of the mass, the opportunity to connect to a larger community and the chance to sit quietly and reflect about things slightly more important than "Did I charge my cell phone?" "Do we have enough milk?" "Am I ever going to get tenure?".

I had forgotten that July is our church's month for Vacation Bible School. Vacation Bible School is a concept that usually makes me want to laugh out loud - seriously, what on earth do "bible" and "school" have to do with vacation? What a crock. Yes, I know, I'm going to hell. I'll save you a seat. Anyhoo, this past Sunday was the start of VBS at our church. Months ago when they asked the kids what they wanted to do for VBS one of them suggested that the only thing anyone was really interested in was food. (and you begin to see why I love my church) So they decided to do "Feasts of the Bible" as the theme (!!!) and they decided to have VBS right after the 10am service on Sunday, as opposed to having it sometime during the week. I think this is a great idea, as it is much easier for the congregation to hang out and celebrate with the kids right after church; that is really what VBS is all about - supporting the youth of our church with our presence, showing them that they are an important part of this community of faith and that we care about them and want to get to know them better.

This week was "The Wedding At Cana" (for all you heathens out there this is the miracle where Jesus turns water into wine and a good time is had by all; those early Christians were party people. Go Jesus!). The church hall was all done up "wedding style" complete with a wedding canopy. There was a "wedding cake contest"; some of our more creative bakers brought in renditions of miniature wedding cakes. There was an art contest - Ava won! And a toilet-paper bride contest - I think Cate would have won, if not for the last minute meltdown and subsequent rending of garments. The newest married couple lead the Hokey Pokey (Ava had a ball dancing to that one) and the couple married longest lead the Chicken Dance (shake your tail feathers for Jesus!). At one point Father Mark asked all the married couples to come on to the dance floor with their kids and lead us in a renewal of our vows. As I stood there holding Brian's hand, repeating the old "for better and for worse yadda yadda yadda" with our three little lunatics spinning around us, I was overcome by that feeling of complete and total satisfaction that comes when you realize that you completely and totally made the right choice. As God is my witness I love that man till death do us part, and maybe even after that.

Of course, what would a "Feasts of the Bible" event be without a feast? The kids really knocked themselves out and assembled a table laden with savories and goodies. I particularly enjoyed the chili relleno casserole and spinach salad. But the piece de resistance (at least for my kids) was the chocolate fountain. By the end of the feast it looked as if they had bathed in it. Is it sacrilegious to say "Thank God for Oxyclean?"

American Flags!!!

Holidays are so much fun now that the kids are a bit older; they really get into the spirit of things now. They have been doing 4th of July activities in school all week - making flags and counting stars, talking about fireworks, etc. We look for American flags when we drive around town. We put big American flag poster-board cut-outs on the windows in the living room; the other day Cate brought one to me and asked if I would help her count the stars. We got to about 14 and she lost patience; when I told her there were fifty stars she rolled her eyes at me, as if to say "Oh mom, please. That is just ridiculous." She likes counting the stripes better.

For the 4th we went to Mimi's house - she lives in Santa Ana where fireworks are still legal. She set up the kiddie pool and kids splashed around happily until dinner - a delicious feast of barbequed ___________ (insert your favorite food here - we had it all), roasted corn on the cob, fruit salad, bean salad, a million other delicious things I am forgetting. Big shout out to Karm and Auntie, the cooks - Whoot!

After dinner we had a couple of rounds of croquet. Mimi won the first round; she had a few spectacular shots that put her ahead of the pack and she road out the lead to victory. John won the second round because he cheats - just kidding. At least this year there were no windows broken.

It finally got dark and we had our fireworks show. The kids did their very first sparklers; Brian crouched down low beside them, carefully lighting the sparkles and placing them in their hands, their faces illuminated by the dancing lights. Why can't my eyes be cameras? Then the kids wrapped up in their blankets and snuggled in their little camp chairs to watch the big show, put on by uncle JD and the boys. After the show we all ate hot dogs (a long standing Trevitt tradition) and drove home through the clouds of sulfur.

Happy 4th!

Monday, June 30, 2008

So Very Much

The other morning I was brushing Cate's hair in an attempt to wrangle it into a ponytail. One side was a bit matted and stiff, so I asked her if she had accidentally put some of her breakfast in her hair.

"No, but I think Daddy put syrup in my hair".
"That doesn't sound like something Daddy would do."
"Maybe you put syrup in my hair?"
"That doesn't sound like something I would do either."
"I think maybe you did."
..... ...... ...... ......
"Do you have any idea just how much I love you?"
..... ...... ......
"39."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Why I Love my Brother

So my brother Chris called me last night to chat. He doesn't usually do this, but he was on the road, headed up to Yosemite for a friend's he-man birthday camping week-end (no girls allowed!). I think there was some sort of surprise element involved, but how you surprise someone with a camping trip to Yosemite is beyond me; "Hey I'm going to the liquour store for some smokes.....wanna come? Oh, and bring your sleeping bag. You know - just in case....." But whatever.

My friend Shannon was over with her kiddos, so I told him I'd call him back in an hour. And then totally forgot until I was about to go to bed. I figured he would be out of range by then, but gave it a shot anyway. Surprisingly he answered:

Chris: Hey sis!
Me: Hey dude. I thought you would be out of range by now....
C: I was, but then I got pulled back in to range...
M: Yeah? What's going on?
C: My car caught on fire.
M: Whuh? Really?
C: Totally. I was going over the Grapevine and it caught on fire. It burned all the way to the ground. The metal in the ceiling melted. I got the raddest pictures!
M: Are you okay?
C: Yeah. I got most of my gear out before it got too hot.
M: Mmmmm.....okay? So what are you going to do now?
C: I think that if I can get a cab to the Burbank airport I can get a rental car and then get back on the road. If I don't stop I think I can get to the campsite before they pack-out for Half Dome.

Do you not love this? Do you not love how even though his car has burned to the ground he is still totally fixated on getting to Yosemite in time for the man-fest? No "Shit! How am I going to get home?!?" or "How am I going to get to work?" or "I can't fucking afford this kind of crap!!". Just "Keep on target. Keep. On. Target." That level of focus takes a special kind of mind.

And then some.....

I'm finally recovering from my week-end. Sounds like there was drinking involved, doesn't it? Well you are right. In hindsight, there should have been more. Much more.

On Friday my beloved friend Jess flew in from New Jersey for some serious quality time with The Girls. I haven't seen Jess since way-too-fucking-long ago; I cleared the calendar to make the maximum amount of time to hear her stories about life in the Big City and why Jazzercise! is coming back in a BIG WAY. The plan was to have Girl's Night with the 5 originals (Jess, Lo, Joie, Kate and moi) on Saturday, a picinic at the park on Sunday with the boys and the kids, and then dinner at the Melting Pot on Monday as a final farewell. Sounds busy yet manageable, no?

Second layer: On Saturday afternoon another good friend of ours, la petit Remie, flew in from Australia. I think it has been over a year since we have seen Remie? I literally can not remember when we saw her last. She was on a mission to commune with her dad and so purposefully did not schedule any visits with friends; this shocked me as Remie is one of those people who knows EVERYONE and so has a consistently jam-packed social calendar. But she did make time to see us, which made us feel very special. The plan was that she would come straight to us from LAX, spend the night and then hang out with us the next morning until her dad came to pick her up. Which was awesome except see above. But whatever, we can juggle right?

Third layer: Sunday afternoon was my nephew Xander's 1-ish birthday party. Xander's actual birthday is December 27th, but as you can imagine it easily gets lost in the Christmas shuffle. So my brother and sister-in-law decided to celebrate his 1/2 birthday instead which I thought was a great idea until it fell on the weekend that 2 good friends from out of town were visiting who I hadn't seen in forever and really wanted to spend quality time with. "So don't go" you say. Ha! Easy for you, internet. What kind of jerk skips her nephew's first-ish birthday party?

In the end I did it all. It was Mr. Toad's wild ride on steroids and I loved every moment of it. Until it was all over, when everyone had left, the cake was all gone and it was just me, my sunburn and a tequila headache.

Awesome.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

All She Needs is a Monkey.....


Brian downloaded a bunch of pictures this evening and this was one of them. We were having MUSIC! TIME! and Cate was in a rather Bohemian mood. She grabbed her sock monkey knit hat and the accordion and began a long, slow, sighing tune with a couple of jaunty riffs just to keep you on your toes. Makes me want to toss her a few bucks....maybe a subway token....

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Blah

That's me. B. L. A. H. I'm crazy-busy, but bored all the same......possibly a touch of post-vacation let-down coupled with a horrible bout of viral bronchitis and ever waning iron levels. But it is time to rally, dammit!

So here we go:
Ron and Kathy (B's parents) spent the first week of June with us and we had lots of fun including our best-ever-yet trip to Disneyland, a great group beach day with friends Kate, Lo (+Owen), Nicole&Matt (+Ella), Danielle&Ben (+Amelie), and an adventure that involved taking the Pacific Surfliner down to SJC and going to Zoomars petting zoo and Ruby's Diner and then taking the train back home again (you can imagine Jack's glee), and lots of good quality family time. A truly wonderful visit.

And then came the viral bronchitis, which is the BEST kind because of course there is no actual treatment other than drinking tons of fluids and laying in bed coughing your lungs out and feeling sorry for yourself. Thankfully two kids and Brian got away unscathed - Cate had a bit of a cough and played it up as much as humanly possible, but overall she was fine. I'm still coughing, but at least now I have some of the good cough syrup with the hydrocodone. Have I ever told you how much I love opiates? If I had no responsibilities or goals or plans to live longer than 2-3 more years I would become a heroin addict tomorrow.

Today I shlepped myself into the office for most of the day, which was good even though I didn't get much done. Tomorrow will be better; we start the Fos ICC comparing the tacrine alone and tacrine+caffeine groups, so if you have any "differential-counts" candles, do me a favor and fire them up.

Oh, and the kids are still cute. They wanted to go to "Ice Cream Street" (aka Baskin-Robbins) last night, but realized that such a trip would require the presence of Auntie Kate. We called Auntie Kate, and good sport that she is she hopped in her car and sped over to join us. The kids had cones and Ava was surprisingly neat. Jack and Cate looked like they had been hand-dipped themselves. Ah, summer.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

A Walk in the Woods

I dedicate this post to Brian, who says that he sounds like an idiot in all of my stories.

This morning we decided that in lieu of church we would talk a family hike along the Fullerton Trail. It's a very nice trail that meanders through woodlands and open spaces, alongside a creek and there are lots of fun things to see like HORSES! and CHICKENS! and DOGS! So we loaded up the kids and the dogs and off we went. The kids ran all over the trail finding rocks and sticks and butterflies and the occasional golf ball - 3-year-old heaven. Brian and I were also enjoying ourselves, getting lost in the scenery and the balmy weather. As we walked through a shady lane I watched Jack skiddle in front of me, dragging a stick behind him while Ava walked quietly to the side of the path, searching for butterflies. No Cate. You know that feeling of instant panic? The kind that grabs you up all of the sudden and sends your heart beating out of your chest? "WHERE'S CATE?!?!?" I desperately yelled ahead to Brian. He turned and gave me a quizzical look and all I could do was stand there, gripped with terror, thinking "OUR DAUGHTER, YOU MORON! CATE!!!!". But he just continues to stand there doing nothing, looking puzzled with WHAT IS THAT? IS THAT A GRIN? A SMIRK? WHERE THE HELL IS OUR CHILD YOU IDIOT???? and finally says "On your head."

Oh right, I put her on my shoulders 5 minutes ago. Forgot about that.

People, this is what motherhood does to you. You have been warned.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

How far we have fallen....

I just spent the last few hours at our local Soup Plantation shoveling forkfuls of salad into my mouth in between cries of "Hey!" "I said STOP." "No running!" "BE. STILL." Did I mention I brought the kids with me? My friend Jessie and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to get together with her parents who are visiting from Wisconsin. Jessie's parents have been treated to many pictures of kids over the years - which is terribly deceptive, given that they are (mostly) still in pictures. This evening they ran around our table like a pack of coked-out hyenas. At one point I looked at Jessie's mom (who was doing her very best not to look completely appalled - she is an incredibly good sport) and said "You know, four years ago I would have been mortified by this, but now I just can't be bothered."

I'm pretty sure I'm her favorite now.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Persistence

Ava: Mom? What are you doing?
Me: I'm ordering some things on the computer......
A: Can we find pictures of me and look at them?
M: ....um....in a minute.....just let me finish this.....
A: Can you find some pictures of me? On the computer?
M:.....I will in a minute sweetie........
A: Mom? Are you finding pictures of me?
M: .....no.....I'm still ordering the stuff.....hang on.....
A: Hey mom, I have a good idea!
M: .....mmm-hem?.......
A:You can stop doing that and find pictures of me and we can look at them! Isn't that a great idea?

Bonus Conversation:
Ava: Mooooommmmmmm!!! Cate said she was 4 years oooollllllddddddddd!!!! (Is the whiny-ness coming through?)
Me: Is that true? Is she 4 years old?
A: Noooooooo!!!!!
M: Then why are you getting upset?
A: Because I AAAAMMMMMMMM!

Why does this not work in my life?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Already?

The television was on and tuned to the Disney Channel and all of the sudden Cathryn is shrieking "Hannah Montana! Hannah Montana! MOM! I love Hannah Montana!!!

Dude. YOU ARE THREE.

Get. Away.

The kids and I joined Brian for an overnight in San Diego On Friday. In typical Carlson style we totally forgot that it was a holiday week-end, which explains why the trip down on Friday afternoon took a few minutes longer than FOREVER.

A taste of our mini-vacation, family style:

We started off with a trip to the Reuben Fleet Science Museum in Balboa Park, where we met up with Brian. The museum in general is fantastic, with lots of hands on stuff, but the best part was the Kids Space equipped with a mini-grocery store area, complete with a check-out stand equipped with a conveyor belt. Two large wheels at either end allow kids to move the belt either backwards or forwards; after sliding assorted fruits and vegetables down the belt into a waiting basket the kids realized that the belt could also be used as a ride!

Mommy!! Would you like a Cate sandwich? Coming right up! How about a Jack taco? Here you go! Daddy! You need a Ava burrito!

We headed back to the hotel and Brian went to a nearby Wendy's to grab some food for dinner. Did you know that they put mini-Frosties in their kids meals? And that if you have 3 kids, and you don't share this fact with them but instead pour them all into one cup and say it is Mommy's drink and you won't like it that you can basically get a free Frostie? You're welcome.

Night-time was an adventure all on its own.....the room had a smallish alcovyish walk-in-closet dressing area, so we put the kids in there in the hopes that they would fall asleep and we could watch a little t.v. or read or do something -anything- that didn't involve repeating the words "because I asked you to" 1,000 times (which obviously rules out sex, but whatever, we were tired). Why did we think this would be possible? Have we not been doing this for three years now? We settled the kids down with kisses and strict admonitions to BE QUIET. OR ELSE. That worked for about 1 minute, and then the giggles started.....quiet at first....then louder.....and louder......GO! TO! SLEEP!.......ooookkkaaaayyyy moooooommmmm.......giggle giggle giggle snort shhhhhh! giggle giggle giggle.......It was actually pretty funny. Listening to them trying to suppress their laughter I could just picture their little bodies shaking with trapped mirth until they could no longer contain it and it snorted out of them. Brian and I started giggling in our bed, also trying to be quiet so they would not hear us laughing.......I love knowing that my kids have experienced the deliciousness of forbidden laughter.......

The next morning we headed up to Chris and Dawn's house for some quality time with the cousins. We had planned on going to the park, but the weather was still cold and undecided, so instead we headed to a nearby Chik-Fil-A. While this would not have been my first choice, Dawn said it had a great play place, and......I'm sorry. Have you not read the zillions of articles about heroin needles and dead ferrets in fast-food restaurant play places? No, she assured me, this one was actually nice and the food was pretty good too. OK, fine, whatever, let's go. Well, dip me in batter and call me fried - it was great! Maybe it was because the place was brand-spanking-new, but it was clean (like, Disneyland clean), and the chicken nuggets? Made of actual cut-up chicken! Their kids meals were perfectly proportioned, with an option of fruit salad (with real strawberries!) instead of fries (which were fabulous). They have several grilled-chicken options, including the awesome wrap I eventually chose. The kids had so much fun playing in the play space that they slept the entire way home.

I am so Googleing Chik-Fil-A to find the closest one.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Pathetic

I just went to Target to buy underwear and came out a little over $200 dollars lighter. I'm not sure which is more sad - that I buy my underwear at Target, or that I am can not go into that store without dropping a substantial portion of my paycheck. Why must you be like that Target? WHY?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Lolo Poppins

So Saturday morning the Psychology Department held its commencement ceremonies. Brian was out of town, Mimi and Auntie and Miss Jessica were all busy. In desperation I called on my friend Lauren and begged her to come and watch the kids; I hate calling on Lauren because 1) she lives a fair distance away, so it is no easy thing for her to "pop" over, and 2) she is busy enough with her own lovely one-year-old boy Owen. However, like a true friend she came to my rescue and showed up bright and early Saturday morning with Owen and a big bag 0'fun. I scooted out the door, with glib promises of being back in an hour and a half.....

I will skip the torture that was the commencement ceremony; this year we were outside instead of in the air-conditioned gym where we have held our ceremonies for the past three years. Clearly someone somewhere did something horrible and now God and the Dean hate us. Suffice to say that 2 hours and 45 minutes later, in the beginning stages of heat stroke, I arrived home sweaty and hoping that Lauren wasn't waiting for me with firing squad......

What I actually found waiting for me were three happy children who were sad that I was home because that meant Auntie Lolo and Baby Owen would leave. While I was gone they had read books and colored in the new coloring books Auntie Lolo brought them. But what really thrilled me was that she had also found the time to make the sweetest drawings with them; she asked them "What do you like to do with your Daddy?" and she wrote it on a piece of paper which they then drew on. Jack said "I like playing with my daddy" and added some very nice squiggles in various shades of blue and also a "J" and an "A" and what looks a bit like a "C" or maybe another "A" - but not too bad for a three old I would say.......Ava said "I like to run in the grass with my dad" and signed her name in green, of course. Cate said "I like to do a lot of tricks with my daddy" and decorated the paper with orange, purple and pink. I was going to save them and give them to Brian on Father's Day, but I just couldn't wait, so they became his "Welcome Home!" gift instead.....

Lauren herself was still smiling when I got back, so I took that as a good sign. She said that Owen had a good time playing with the "big kids" (hard to believe my babies are now the Big Kids!) and was full of smiles and kisses for me. He really is a cutie pie; he has his mommy's smiling eyes and his daddy's everything else. Quite the killer combination......

So I owe Lauren a million thanks and probably half as many strong drinks. If she is reading this then I should warn her that the kids have asked repeatedly when I will be leaving again so that Baby Owen and Auntie Lolo can over? Today? Later? Is Later TODAY?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Subtle Differences

People sometimes ask if my children are "alike" - I suppose it is a natural question; they are, after all, siblings and come from the same genetic soup. As it happens however, they are an excellent example of the infinite variety that the combination of two sets of genes can produce. I offer as proof a snippet of this evening:

Mimi and the Guncles were over and before bath Cate demanded that we have Dance Party! time. She had donned her new silver tulle-and-spangles tutu-skirt and her silver glitter Mary Janes and was clearly in the mood to party. Steve started playing Metallica on the guitar and it all went downhill from there. Jack grabbed various instruments and started careening around the living room like a one-man-band on crack. Ava tried on various Dance Party outfits, but nothing was working for her until she found the pink tulle fairy tutu; arrayed to her satisfaction she bounded into the living room and started to dance the most dainty fairy princess-like dance possible for a three year old hopped up on ice cream and no nap. So here is the scene in our living room: Jack ping-ponging off the walls, tooting jingling ringing shaking drumming. Ava flitting around like a delicate fairy, pointing her toes and making twirly skips around the center of the room. Cate running between the big red chair and the entertainment armoire, alternately crashing into each of them with the grace of a rugby player. All of them very high energy, but with completely different ways of expressing that energy.

Vive la difference!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Blessed Be

Ah, Mother's Day. Such a lovely concept. Visions of breakfast in bed served by immaculately groomed children, while the adoring husband looks on....

And now back to our regulalry scheduled program: Brian was tired so I got up with the kids in the morning (we won't go into that particular moment), but I will not complain (too much) as it gave me a chance to play with them and catch up on my cartoon watching. When B finally roused himself from bed he herded the kids into the kitchen so that they could "surprise" me in the living room with the Mother's day gifts they had been working on all week at school. They had made beautiful little tea-light holders out of baby food jars, but the best gift was the look on their faces as they presented these treasures to me - so full of pride and joy, positively beaming as I carefully unwrapped each one, oohing and aahing all the while. As I took the candles out of the gift bags each child pointed out its special features:

Cate's candle is pink, because that is her favorite, and it has purple flowers because that is her favorite, and she put them on herself. And the ribbon is pink only because that is her favorite. (I am guessing there will be a test later....) "Now you be Max mommy and I will be Ruby and I will give you your candle but no touching."


Ava's candle is green, like Tinkerbell and frogs, and it has a rainbow heart and a green heart and only green and purple ribbons because those are her favorite colors and not pink, and it has m-o-m which is spelling for mom, and do you like it mommy?


Jack's candle is rainbow, but not brown, and it has two hearts and three letters, m and o and m, and three ribbons, purple and pink and green and I love you mommy.


I took the kids to church while Brian stayed home to make brunch; thankfully Mimi and my brothers met us there because as we were walking toward the Sunday School classrooms I thought "I bet there is no Sunday School today" and Lo, the Lord heard me and I was right. So the kids were in church the whole time, and they actually did remarkably well considering that I did not have any toys or candy on me to distract them. Cate amused herself by unpacking and repacking my purse 100 times, Ava scribbled on the service program, and Jack contented himself with walking up and down the pew on the kneelers. At the very end of the service Father Mark shared that the older Sunday School classes had been making "Home Blessing Kits" for all the parish families, and he asked all the children to come up to the altar to help him bless the water (thus making it HOLY. See how that works?). So they all tromped up to the front of the church and stood on the dias, right hands raised in the general direction of the water and mumbled purposefully. Amen! I can feel the salvation washing over me.....

The best part was coming home and watching the kids run around with the Home Blessing Kit (a small bottle of drinking water and a piece of palm frond left over from Palm Sunday. We are very high tech in the Episcopal Church.) sprinkling various objects they denoted worthy of blessing. The dogs got pretty damp, the cats not so much (they were quicker), mom and dad got doused multiple times, and of course Mimi and the Guncles. Thomas was sprinkled liberally, as was Tinkerbell, Lion, Monkey, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Cate's 1,000,000 small plastic animals, their couches, their beds, and the train table. So now we know what really matters.

The second best part of coming home was the scrumptilicious brunch that Brian had prepared - eggs Benedict, asparagus with Hollandaise, fresh fruit, a lots of strong, hot coffee. A veritable feast, and we all enjoyed it immensely.

That evening we had dinner with our friends Jenna and Don at Ruth's Chris in Irvine to celebrate our shared anniversaries - our 6th and their 7th. If you have never been to Ruth's Chris I highly recommend it. The steak is great, but more importantly everything else is sublime. I had several pomegranate martinis and have to say they were the best I have had yet (trust me on this; I have done my fair share of taste testing in this area). All their side dishes were great, particularly the sweet potato casserole, which is not so much a side dish as a sneaky way of having dessert WITH your meal. And the vinaigrette on my Salad Caprese was something I would happily drink as a beverage if given the opportunity.

All in all, a very good day. Cheers to all you other mothers out there - one day is not enough!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Mums the Word

I picked up the kids from school this afternoon, and as we were driving home I asked them what they did that day....

Ava: We made you a present for Mother's Day!!
Me: You did? How nice of you!
Ava: Yes, and it's a CANDLE!! With flowers! But mom!......(whispering) IT'S A SURPRISE!

I promise I won't tell.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Home Alone

....with the kids. B is in D.C. for a few days, so I'm kickin' it single parent style yo. (Like that? Is my bad-assness coming through?) The lovely Miss Jessica the Magnificent is here so that I can have a little time to lay on the bed, silently moaning over my root-canal-bound tooth. So life is good.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

For the Record

Names of the dogs in Cate's current collection: Browny, Snowball, Benji, Ender, Pug, Ketchup and Mustard (the twins), Muskar, Marshmallow and, of course, Maggie.

A recent conversation with Ava:

Me (trying to brush her hair): Ava your hair is so tangly. Do you know why that is?
Ava: Because I eat my hair?
Me: Yes. Why do you eat your hair?
Ava: Because it tastes like pears.

I really can't argue with that.

A conversation with Jack:

Jack : I like the Toy Story with Woody and Buzz and Jessie and the horse.
Brian: Toy Story 2?
Jack (holding the Toy Story 1 video): Toy Story is my favorite. The horse is my favorite. Buzz is my favorite. And Woody and Jessie.
Brian (holding the Toy Story 2 video up to Jack): You mean Toy Story 2, buddy.
Jack: Yes. Toy Story 2 is daddy's favorite and Toy Story is my favorite. That's a good plan, mama?
Me: The best plan buddy.

A conversation with Brian:

Brian: For the record, I do replace the toilet paper rolls in the bathroom. And one of those bars of soap is for my face, and one is for my hands, and one is just a regular bar of soap.
Me: And that is what you got out of that post?
Brian: I'm just sayin'.....
Me: What. EVER.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The House that Cate Built

So Cate has her own place. She's had it for a while now. From her descriptions it sounds like a pretty rockin' pad. She calls it her Pink House, although for a while it was brown, due to a very unfortunate accident with her Pink Car involving a flat tire and many sad kitties. The pink car was replaced by a brown car (You can sit in it mommy, but don't drive. I'm the driver.), and so of course you can see why the house had to be repainted. Matching is important, because without it there would be chaos and, presumably, death.

The Pink House is a wonderful place, filled with many things. Most of the things Cate comes in to contact with in her daily life also exist in the Pink House, with the caveats that 1) there are often more of each thing, and 2) you can not touch any of them. "I have six doggies at my Pink House mama, but you can't touch them. Just look." From what I can tell, the house is jam packed with animals of all shapes and sizes, but heavy on the kitties and doggies. Apparently they live on lollipops, ice-cream and mustard. Maybe an occasional corn dog. This is all supposition, of course, as I am rarely granted access to the Pink House; I imagine that I spend most of my time sitting outside on the pink lawn waiting for Cate to show me one of her many treasures. Now that it is getting warmer, I wonder if I can get an umbrella? I'll have to ask Other Mommy - she sounds like a nice lady - I'll bet she will lend me one.

Cate's Pink House has now given rise to a virtual village, as Jack has a Buzz Lightyear House (blue, of course) and Ava lives close by in her green Tinkerbell House. However, I get the feeling that Jack and Ava are more like week-enders, while Cate is a full-time resident.

If you are in the neighborhood, please stop by for a lollipop. I'll be the one waiting outside.

Have you met TED?

Ok, so YES, I am woefully behind the times, but as I have just discovered this wonderful wonderful site I feel it is my duty to share it with y'all, just in the off chance that there are some people out there like me who think that 4-slot toasters that can toast a bagel are the apex of technology.

This is a website that has hundreds of fairly short (30-60 minute) videos of top thinkers talking about cutting edge findings in their respective fields. They are truly amazing - it's the thinking person's YouTube. You can find a talk on almost any timely topic, given by an expert, and in a way that the average person can actually understand. Brian Greene's talk on string theory is a perfect example; I love the idea of string theory, but confess that most discussions leave me in the dust after the general introduction. This talk was fantastic - lots of great visuals, and I was able to follow it all the way to the end.

If you have some time, check out the site: TED But I warn you, it can get addicting!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Still Life with Ava

This morning the Saddleback Mothers of Multiples club had their semiannual garage sale, an event not to be missed if you 1) have kids and 2) love a good bargain. I had been planning to go with my friend Shannon and leave the kids with Brian for the morning. But then I started thinking (always dangerous) that perhaps this would be a good opportunity to get a little one-on-one time with one of the kids. I usually end up doing this with Cate because for some reason she seems to need it more than either Jack or Ava. But then I feel bad for not spending time with Jack or Ava, because I'm sure they would enjoy it too (??) they simply aren't as vocal/dramatic about it. Of course, few people are as vocal/dramatic as Cate, so perhaps I should stop using her as my behavioral yard stick. Just a thought.

So in the end I decided to take Ava, as I figured she would be more interested in the prospect of shopping than Jack, given that fact that she is seriously morphing in to a pint sized fashionista. I fully expect her to start channeling Stacy London any day now. And boy will I be in trouble. But no matter, for now she still thinks that as long as something is either green or has Tinkerbell on it (double bonus points for both!), it is the epitome of haute couture. So off we went.

We were cruising down the 5, on the way to pick up Shannon, and I was suddenly struck by how quiet the car was. Perhaps she had fallen back asleep? I glanced up in to the rear view mirror, and she was wide awake, gazing out the window, watching the scenery. We finally got off the freeway, and when we came to a stop I turned around to look at her to make sure she was OK. Her eyes met mine and her face broke out into the most radiant smile of pure happiness; if I could capture the essence of that smile and distill it I could live on it for the rest of my life.

And this is why I have to make the time to hang out with each of my children, individually and alone. When they are together the more subtle aspects of each of their personalities get drowned out by the tidal wave of cacophony and chaos that defines our lives. But when you pluck an individual child out of that whirlwind, you can begin to see the fine details that make them who they are. It is like coming in to the house on a bright summer day; at first everything is dark but as you relax into the moment your eyes begin to focus and you can see the features of the room, the multiple shades that intertwine to give depth and substance to the whole.

Ava is not afraid of quiet, of stillness. She drinks everything in, every glorious stimulating drop; it becomes a part of her, animating her from within. She doesn't need constant motion, constant noise to be at ease. I hope she will always have this power; the power to be still and know that you ARE.



My quiet wonderful mysterious girl.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Freebie

So last night Brian and I were watching The Office. We are both severely challenged in our ability to remember when various television shows are airing, even our favorite ones, so we have decided that a better strategy for us is to rent/buy the seasons of our favorite shows on DVD. This way we can watch them in order, we can watch them whenever we want, and we can pause them if someone spills their juice (I won't go in to how many times I have told Brian that he can only have juice in the kitchen. Sigh.). We are currently on Season 2 of The Office, and last night we watched the last two episodes. For those of you who have not yet seen Season 2 you might want to stop reading now - SPOILER ALERT! In the last episode (Casino Night) the office turns the warehouse into a casino, and they spend the evening gambling for charity. The Jim/Pam romance has been heating up this season with many baleful, longing looks on both parts. I am completely infatuated with the character of Jim (played by John Krasinski) - he is now my official "freebie". I shared my love of all things Jim with Lauren the other week at dinner, to which she replied "Duh. Hello? You married him!" Whuh? No, I married Brian. The man who gets in the car and says confidently that he knows where he is going, when in fact he does not. The man who has a compulsive need to open a brand new bar of soap before the old bar is done. The man who firmly believes that magical fairies restock the toilet paper in our bathroom. That man.

But back to The Office. Pam is bidding her fiance, Roy, goodbye as he leaves the casino party early. She is a bit tipsy, and feeling good. She and Jim meet up in the parking lot, and Pam begins to flirt a little. Jim however is in a more thoughtful mood, and suddenly he looks at her in this heart breaking way and says "I am in love with you". He knows it is bad timing (she is currently planning her wedding), but he just needs her to know, in the hopes that maybe, maybe she feels the same. I think my heart dropped into my shoes at that moment - so agonizingly romantic, so tender and sweet. Pam, not surprisingly, is flustered, does not know what to say; you can almost feel her slightly drunk brain trying to wrap itself around the enormity of what has just been said. "I can't" she finally stammers out. A single tear slips down Jim's cheek, he nods his head in mute resignation and walks away. (Sob.) Cut to the darkened office, Pam is on the phone with her mother, trying to process what just happened. We only hear her side of the conversation...."I didn't know what to say" "He's my best friend" "I think I do"......and in walks Jim, quietly, purposefully and takes Pam into his arms and kisses her. My goodness. I look at Brian and say "Wow! Can you believe it?" and he says "Yes. That's us".

Rewind to approximately seven years ago. I arrive in Miami Beach for the annual Society for Neuroscience conference having just broken up with my fiance, Marc, hours earlier in California. It was a charming scene, involving me throwing my engagement ring at his head and him threatening to kick me out of his house at 2:00 in the morning. I manage to arrive at the hotel where I and my lab mates are staying; my best friend Brian has been waiting for me all morning. We take my bags up to the room we are all sharing, he asks me how I am; I dissolve into a puddle of tears, hiccoughing and sniffling through my account of recent events. "It sounds like you need a drink." Cut to an empty stretch of Miami Beach, the sun is setting, I am weaving my way through the sand dunes, my Big Gulp-sized cup of gin and tonic clutched in my increasingly drunken hands. I am half-sobbing, half-ranting (probably slurring)....."I just want someone who will love me and be nice to me......is that too much to ask?.......someone who will love me just the way I am.....my grandfather worshipped my grandmother.....he planted her a garden and brought her a cocktail every evening at 5:00 and always pulled out her chair....." at which point Brian grabbed me by the shoulders, looked deeply, tenderly, sweetly into my eyes and said: "I am that guy".

I guess I did marry my freebie after all.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Props to the Village People

So as some of you know, Brian was out of town from Wednesday the 9th to Friday the 18th. Ten days. TEN DAYS. TEN. DAYS. This is the longest trip he has been on since the kids were born and I don't mind saying that I was a little more than freaked out at the prospect of having 10 days alone with my darling children. Visions of completely melting down and losing my $hit, scarring my angels for life, answering the door to find CPS waiting with a van to take them away......these were the thoughts running amok in my head, waking me up at 3am in a cold sweat. What the f*&k was I going to do?

I called my girlfriends. I sucked it up, swallowed whatever pride I had remaining (hardly any, so that part wasn't so bad) and sent out an e-mail desperately begging for help while Brian was away. My ladies did not let me down! Two days after the e-mail went out I had a friend lined up for every day B was away, to come over in the evening to help with the dinner/bath/bedtime madness, to be my anchor of sanity in an increasingly insane single-parenting world. My wonderful wonderful WONDERFUL step-mother, Therese, even took said angels for the week-end, picking them up at 10:30am on Saturday, and bringing them back at 11:00am on Sunday. I won't go into how I spent my glorious 24.5 hours of solitude, but let's just say it did not involve leaving the couch.

First off: a *HUGE* thank you with whipped cream, sprinkles and a cherry on top to my girls: Lauren, Kate, Danielle, Nicole, Mimi, Auntie, Shannon, Sarah, Laura - the fact that I am sitting at this computer at my desk in my house and NOT in a mental institution is a direct result of your loving kindness. I really can not thank you enough, and should you ever need your own anchor of sanity you know who to call. That would be me.

Second: (this is my public service announcement) To all those ladies out there (both with and without kids) who are feeling frazzled and frayed to the very ends of their tethers: ASK FOR HELP. Hilary is right; it really does take a village. Most of us don't live in the village to which we were born; we have to create our own villages. Do this. And then allow yourself to rely on them. In some ways I think having triplets has made this easier for us. From the very beginning there was no question that we would need help. (and lots of it.) I never felt like this was something I would be able to do, should be able to do, on my own. Asking for help became almost second nature. Granted, I think we were also blessed with many offers of help that parents of single children probably don't get, which is a real shame, because here's the thing: 1 child or 10 children - they take all the energy, patience, resources you have to give. The difference between having 1 or 10 is not the amount of energy and attention YOU GIVE; the difference is the amount that each child gets. My point? Just because you "only" have one child (or even two) does not mean that you don't need help, that you shouldn't need help. We ALL need help. And we all need to give it to each other when we can. So if you need a break - CALL ME. I truly understand that sometimes a pedicure and 60 minutes to yourself is the difference between life and death. I know I've crossed over into preachiness here, but it really pains me to know that many women, some of them my good friends, carry around this "I should be able to do this all by myself" mantra that can really wear a person down, both mentally and physically. It's not that I don't get it; I lied a little bit back there when I said I never felt like having triplets was something that I should be able to do myself. I did; after all, they are my children and I should be able to take care of them shouldn't I? Nobody forced me to do this. I chose this for myself, and I should be able to handle it, right? Yeah........whatever. Here's the truth: If I had to do this by myself I probably could. I could probably keep my children fed, clean, alive. But I'm going to go out on a limb and say that we probably wouldn't be the happiest family on the block. And that is the difference that help makes. It gives me a chance to breathe and find my happy mommy self. It gives the kids a chance to get away from me and learn that they can be loved by someone else. We all win.

There is no shame in needing help. The only shame is in not asking for it when you do.

I am happy to report that Brian arrived home (early!) on Friday to find three healthy, happy children and a wife much less stressed out than he had imagined she would be. Ladies of my village, from the bottom of my heart: I love you.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Heaven Help Us

So, my lovely friend Lauren detailed a wonderful Cate moment in her blog Luhrs West (which you all should check out because she is one hell of a writer), but I have a new one that happened this very day:

Scene: Our front entry way. I am trying to get everyone ready to go over to my friend Danielle's house for dinner. Jack has been having a bad afternoon, and is having yet another crying fit because he wants to clean up the blocks. (The blocks that I had asked him to put away 5 minutes ago, which he refused to put away, which Ava and Cate and I finally put away together while he looked on crying. Those blocks.) So he is now crying because he can't put the blocks away because they are already put away, and I am trying to get his tantruming feet into his shoes. Suddenly he begins shrieking:

Jack: "Cate tease me! Cate tease me! Aaaahhhhhhh!"

Cate (very seriously): "I'm not teasing you. I'm watching you cry."

God help me.

Here is my vision: Cate, all grown up, stunningly beautiful, dressed in a black leather cat suit and black Matrix-style overcoat, standing near the road on a deserted stretch of highway, some poor man writhing on the ground before her (let's assume he is a criminal or something, shall we?), smoking .44 hanging loosely from her gloved hand......"I'm not killing you. I'm watching you die."

Friday, April 11, 2008

Jackaroo

So. The boy. How to describe a being so foreign to me in all his boy-ness, and yet such a part of me that I could literally wear this child all day and not really notice......I guess to put it simply, I am in love with my son. In a good way.

Jack is our firstborn, emerging a full minute before his sisters. He weighed in at a hefty 4 lbs. 1 oz., taking the title of "biggest baby". I remember him being so bright red in the NICU I thought that certainly something was wrong with him. After a few days he started looking less like a beet, and more like a skeptical old man.....his little wrinkled brow constantly perplexed by what was going on and not at all sure that this was a good idea. Out of the three he was the one that gave us the most scares in the NICU; at one point he started losing weight, and his breathing seemed very intense and labored - I could see his little chest practically convulsing with each breath - and the doctor explained that he had a hole in his aorta, which would hopefully clear up with medicine but if it did not they would have to do surgery. Heart surgery. ON MY SON. There are certain words that should never be spoken together to parents without first giving them a strong drink or at least a little anesthesia. Hole - aorta - heart - surgery. Words like that. I thought I might die. I hoped I WOULD die, if only to be able to give my heart, with its non-holey aorta, to my son. Of course, the good news is that the medicine worked, he was fine within a day (seriously? Seriously. Welcome to the roller coaster ride that is the NICU). We brought him home a few weeks later and never looked back.

Jack was a wonderful baby. He cried, and fiercely at times, but was amazingly easy to soothe. Usually some milk or a cuddle was all he needed to feel better again. I loved to watch him in that moment right after he had stopped nursing, right before he descended into his milk coma - he was so gurgly and content, you could almost hear him say "Ahhhhhhh". And then he was asleep. As he got more mobile we started seeing the engineer in him emerge - he would study things, trying to figure out how they worked. He would become interested in a certain toy and would play with it for literally hours, turning it this way and that, moving this part here and that thing there, until he figured out whatever it was that was puzzling him, and then he would go on to the next challenge. By the time he was 1 he had mastered the controls on the TV, and by 1 1/2 he had the remote down. By 2 he could work the buttons on the DVD player and by 2 1/2 he could put in a movie and start it playing. At first we tried to keep him away from all the "grown up" electronics, but realized we were facing a losing battle. We switched tactics and actively taught him how to use them properly; he was an eager student and now can work pretty much every electronic device we have, generally with more skill than me.
On to the present: He is still an engineer at heart - our friend Shannon bought the kids a giant barrel of tinker toys for Christmas and I thought Jack was going to burst, he was so happy! (An aside: when he is really excited he makes a flapping movement with his hands, sort of like a little bird. My cousin Harrison calls it "Jack's Happy Hands") Between the tinker toys and the blocks he can make just about anything his heart desires (except milk); we are encouraging him in the hopes that when the day finally comes he will be able to put the much-needed addition on to our house. Go Jack!

In other areas he is much the same cuddly boy; he loves to sit in my lap and read books, is always up for a kiss or a hug, and generally shows affection much more readily than either of his sisters. There are times when I just want to eat him with a spoon he is so sweet! One of my favorite things these days is the way he notices things I do, like making breakfast or folding the laundry, and says "You fold laundray mama? Oh thank you!" Can you imagine if he continues to do this in to adulthood? His wife is going to be one lucky woman.....

Other times....well.....he is still our fiercest crier, able to go from perfectly content to NOT HAPPY AT ALL in 6.5 seconds. Basically, Jack has 2 speeds: happy and not happy. There is really no in between for him. Fortunately for us, he is happy most of the time, and when he is not the fix is usually pretty simple (milk, blanket, snuggle). Also, there is no slow burn or lingering ill will. Once something is over it is OVER, and he is on to the next thing.

At the moment he is all about Thomas the Train, Lightening McQueen and Buzz Lightyear; he loves to play dress up with his sisters (I don't think Jack will ever have trouble being in touch with his feminine side) and is still totally wedded to his blue blanket. He is a speed demon on his trike and scooter, but be careful not to push him too high on the swings, even if he asks you to: Jack's version of "high" is pretty tame compared to his sisters. He loves to play games, and actually has the attention span for it. In January Brian's parents came for a visit and at one point Jack played two games of CandyLand with grandma. In a row. !!!!!! Cate lasted for about 2 minutes, Ava hung in until about 1/2 through the first game, but Jack sat there for a good 45 minutes, happy as a lark. He is also a big fan of puzzles (I take total credit for that one), and is able to do fairly advanced ones - it is truly amazing to watch him with a new puzzle. The first few times he puts it together he mainly uses color clues, sometimes relying on shape as well. But after a while it seems as if he starts to memorize the physical location of the individual piece within the puzzle itself. He lays down pieces in what seems like a random way, but then the gaps start filling in and before you know it the puzzle is complete. Granted, he isn't working on 1,000 piece puzzles; the most complex one he has is about 40-50 pieces. But still! I doubt if I could do that. If I had to describe Jack in one word I would have go with "lovable", but "focused" would be a close second.

My challenge with Jack is to....ummmm......not love him too much? I'm sure I do have a challenge with Jack, but to be honest I can't think of what it is at the moment. If I wanted to curse myself I would say "he is my easy child", but I don't want to do that so instead I will say that my challenge is to keep him on the track he is already on, getting in as many snuggles as I possibly can on the way.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Damn that broccoli!

Brian and I just spent the last 20 minutes ordering, pushing, begging and cajoling our children in an attempt to make them eat their dinner of Mac-n-Cheese (gourmet style, care of our friend Joe) and spam (don't ask - it's a legacy from growing up in Hawaii). They would not touch it, preferring to gorge themselves on streamed carrots and broccoli. About halfway through dinner Brian said "Jack! Put that broccoli down and eat your spam!" at which point we looked at each other, realizing what complete morons we were. Thank God our children are smarter than we are.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Cathryn the Great



Cathryn Tippett Carlson is the second-born of our trio, which explains her middle name, a special gift passed down the matrilineal line to the first-born daughter. Just one of the many wonderful things she got from me, but more on that later. Cate was also our smallest baby, weighing in at a petite 3 lbs, 10 oz. Her fighting spirit showed itself early on when she started ripping her i.v. tube out in the NICU. I remember coming in one morning to find her with the i.v. implanted in her head; the nurse took one look at my face and rushed over to kindly explain that no, nothing was wrong, it was not as bad as it looked, it was actually one of the most painless locations for an i.v. and that they had to put it there because she kept tearing the ones in her hands and feet out. Okay, breeaaathhheeee. Looking back, that should have been my first clue.

Rynna drove me crazy while nursing; her favorite trick was to nurse just long enough to get the milk going and then pull away so that it sprayed all over. Then she would give me a big grin. Other things I remember about her early days: she was the first to smile, the first to get a tooth, she was the last to walk (she patiently watched her sister and brother work out all the messy details, studied them for a few days once they were up and toddling around, and then just got up and did it. None of that awkward falling for her!). Mainly though I remember her personality - her essential Rynna-ness that came to the fore early and has been going strong ever since. She loves to be the center of attention and will actively seek out the spotlight. She loves to laugh. She is a master of observation and a born behavioral scientist - "If I do this what will you do?" She loves to push people's buttons just to see what will happen. Maddening, but also somehow endearing.

On to the present: My mother likes to refer to her as my Karma Child. She drives me out of my mind with her dramatics: "Cate, would you please pick up your shoes?" "Arrghhh!" she huffs while simultaneously crossing her arms across her chest and flinging herself backwards on to the couch. One day when she was fake moaning/sobbing in the back seat of the car (because we would not pull over on the freeway to retrieve one of her 10,000 tiny plastic animals that had inadvertently fallen from her seat to the floor) I turned to Brian and said "Please shoot me when she becomes a teenager." To which he replied "And be alone with her? No way." She is the apple in our eye. Other than being a drama queen, she is also a collector, a trait I fear she inherited from me. Even as a very small baby she showed a preferential fondness for things that came in groups. All the red blocks. Or all the square blocks. Or all the rattles. You get the idea. Her current favorite collections: a group of about 12 small plastic baby animals (culled from the larger group of small plastic animals), 2) a group of approximately 8 stuffed dogs, including the twins Mustard and Ketchup, whom she carries around in a yellow plastic basket, 3) a set of 3 yellow rubber ducks (each a gift to the children from my mother, but which Cate has decided all belong to her now), and 4) 4 My Little Pony dolls. When she plays with her collections she must have ALL of the items in the collection or she will lose her mind. For instance, if she is playing with the MLP's and Ava takes the yellow one ("yellowy") which she sometimes wants to do because, after all, it is hers, there is much weeping and sadness. The skies are rent in two with the force of her outrage that someone would dare - WOULD DARE! - to break up the set. What are they thinking? Madness, I tell you! But when she has all of her coveted items securely in her grasp, she can spend literally hours lining them up, turning them around, marching them hither and yon, introducing them to various members of the family and pointing out their distinguishing traits ("This is the PURPLE pony. Her name is Purply. She has a JEWEL.") In fact, we spent much of this morning doing that very thing. I'm still not exactly sure where this slightly OCD tendency will lead her in life, but on the up side buying presents for her should be pretty easy.

Right now Cate seems to be the odd one out in our trio, often playing by herself while Jack and Ava play together. Sometimes I worry about this, envisioning her as a perpetual loner, desperately wanting to be a part of the group but not knowing how to go about it. And then I wake up and remember that this is Cate we are talking about, and that if she wanted to be a part of the group she would march right over and plop herself in the middle of it and start telling everyone else what to do. And strangely, they would do it. She has that weird kind of self confidence that projects outward on to other people, making them feel you do indeed know what you are doing and that they should naturally take direction from you. It is hard to explain. On several occasions I have seen her come in to a room where Jack and Ava are happily playing and interrupt them saying "Now here is the game we are going to play: we are going to get our blankets and betend they are tents and we are camping at the Otter Pond". And Jack and Ava will stop what they are doing and go get their blankets and come back for further instructions. Adryenne says she does the same thing at school, with the same results. I'm not sure what it is about her, but she is certainly a force to be reckoned with.

Reading over all this I feel like I have painted a terrible picture of her. But in a way, that is part of her magic; she is a compulsive, bossy, button-pushing drama queen all wrapped up in something so genuinely open and wonderful that the final result is a little person so amazing she takes my breath away.

My challenge with Cate is to adore her without her knowing it, to nurture that self-confidence without feeding her inner tyrant, to realize that although I see much of myself in her she is not me and never will be. She is herself. And that is a wonderful thing.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Ava Baby

So, given that my purpose in starting this blog was to use it as a virtual scrapbook/journal/log to record the many wonderful and priceless moments that happen with the kids I thought it might be a good idea to write one inaugural post for each child - a prose snapshot, if you will. I will begin with Ava, because doesn't everything, really?




Ava was the last to be born, but that was pretty much the last time she was last. A strapping 4.0 lbs at birth, she sailed her way through the NICU and came home after 4 weeks. I remember giving her her first bath in the NICU, in one of those little pink plastic tubs.....we brought a bunch home, and while they are very useful for many things, I don't think any of the kids could even sit in them now. But back then, as we lowered her tiny little body into the tub it felt like we were dropping her into a vast ocean of water. I remember being so surprised at how slippery she was, and trying desperately to grab her hard enough so as not to let her slip from my grasp, but not so hard that I would break her. She just seemed so little and fragile, all arms and legs. Not surprisingly, she did not like the whole bath-moment and let us know in a loud and clear voice.

We brought her home and had that "now what?" moment that I think all new parents experience. We joked that she was the 'test baby' and that if we could keep her alive they might release the rest to us in time. Our first night home was pretty standard; we put Ava in a pack-n-play right next to my side of the bed and I spent most of the night making sure she was breathing, convincing myself she was NOT breathing, poking her until she woke up screaming, and then soothing her back to sleep while cursing myself. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Baby/early toddler hood is such a blur to me now (thank God for digital recorders!) but a few things stand out: her inexplicable fondness for the green ring from the Fisher-Price stacking ring toy; mending Lion's paws for the umpteenth time because she chewed through them AGAIN; constantly being startled by the brightness of her eyes; her gleeful little laugh; her chubby little legs; her bald, bald head; all the spit-up and screaming before we realized she was lactose intolerant (I still feel like the worst mother in the world over that one); finger-walking with her for hours when she was determined to learn how to walk (she was the first one, of course); pushing her on the "big kid" swings and learning that beneath that shy exterior beat the heart of a daredevil.

Fast forward 3 years and 5 months. Some things are still the same: she continues to be lactose-intolerant, her favorite color is still green, and she still has that wonderful smile. Others are different: She now has hair (but don't try to put anything in it - the average life span of a clip is about 10 seconds), her legs are long and lean (as is the rest of her), and although she is still fairly shy and reserved we are seeing the inner daredevil more and more these days. Our darling girl is a budding artist, and can happily draw and paint for hours on end. She knows all her letters and is starting to spell and read simple words. She can write her name (legibly!!) and can spell her brother's and sister's names. She loves Tinkerbell and Dora, but her best friend is still Lion (who is looking very shabby now, but no matter). She amazes me constantly with what she can do - she has incredible, gymnastic agility. Although she is lithe and lean she is powerfully strong - her body is basically muscle covered with skin. Her verbal fluency is impressive, at least to me. She seems to have the ability to infer the meaning of unfamiliar words from the context in which they are used, and then can use them again correctly, even in a different context. Not bad for a three year old, huh?

But what I mostly love about Ava is her gentleness, her tenderness. She actually cares about other people, and cares what they think about her. When her brother cries she rushes to get his blanket because she knows that is what he needs. If Cate is playing with a group of toys, even if some of the toys are Ava's she won't take them away because she knows that Cate needs ALL of them to be happy (more on this in the post about Cate). She is kind and loving with the animals, patting them gently and whispering "hi sweetie - how are you today?". She is love with a capital L.

My challenge with Ava is not to overlook her. How is this possible, you ask? Ava is quiet. Ava is well behaved (mostly). Ava will not run up to me and grab my hand and pull on me and yell "Mommy! Come play with me!". But she wants so badly to be noticed, and scooped up, and asked "Ava, will you play with mommy?" Have you hugged your Ava today?