Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Time's a flyin'

Since I last wrote, the girls have celebrated their 2nd birthday, battled two rounds of viruses - we're still in the midst of the 2nd virus - added a few new 2-year molars, celebrated Halloween, learned to speak in full sentences, started counting and recognizing colors, and now it's Thanksgiving. They have been sick on and off for almost two months.

I can not keep up with them, our life, our house, our yard, or life in general. Everything seems to be whizzing by at a hundred miles an hour while I'm spinning round and round going, "What just happened? How can it be Thanksgiving?"

Add three sick, whiny, clinging teething toddlers who are agitated by one another's mere existence, and it's a recipe for out-of-control tantrums, very little sleep, and overall exhaustion. Nobody's sleeping and everyone's crying, me included. That's pretty much us the past two months. It's been miserable. Now I'm sick too, which is not something a SAHM can afford to be.

In the midst of feeling like I'm a hopeless mom, I had someone tell me I must be supermom. I said to the woman, "Well, my kids are two years old, but I'm the one having the daily meltdowns." You could just tell she was relieved to hear I'm a normal woman who reaches the end of her rope sometimes.

The kids were sick on their birthday, sick on Halloween, but I took them out trick-or-treating anyway. Since they were getting over colds, I took them to a local mall and kept them in the stroller instead of risking a night out in the cold.

Julia and Emma wanted to wear their bumble bee and ladybug costumes. Ada refused to wear her caterpillar costume, but I managed to talk her into a tutu instead. I just told everyone she was a forest fairy. She was not into the wings. Whatever. You WILL enjoy Halloween, damn it! They had a blast seeing everyone's costumes. The candy haul was something to behold - they each practically received their weight in candy. They tasted one lollipop each, which is more sugar than they've had... ever! What will happen to the rest of the candy? Only time will tell.

Since we're in survival mode, I've set my sights low and won't be cooking anything special for Thanksgiving. (We have no friends or family anywhere close.) I am, however, looking forward to a potential nap. If I can manage that, it'll be the best Thanksgiving ever.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Activities with toddlers: more inside ideas

A big thank you to everyone for your awesome comments and ideas. So many fun activities to try - I can't wait! It's often hard for me to come up with a fresh, fun idea when I'm alone with my kids, so it certainly helps to have a go-to list in the back of my mind that take very little prep time. Some of your ideas are staples in our house, and I thought I'd elaborate on that a little:

We have made our fair share of impromptu forts, and always seem to end up with every soft toy animal under the sun piled up inside it. They love frolicking amongst a pile of soft toys.

It's a wonderful activity and one they enjoy greatly. Sometimes, the animals creep/crawl/slither/bound over the tent or fort and surprise the kids with a "boo" where they least expect it. Sometimes they make their "correct" sounds (hippo impression, anyone? anyone? Bueller?) before appearing, and sometimes they "fly" into the fort at high speed. We also play a guessing game when the kids are inside their play tent, because they can see the silhouette of each animal. On a few occasions, we've pitched our adult 2-man tent inside the house. Yes, we're that crazy.


Sometimes 30 minutes of fun is just a brainwave away. I often have to initiate a game, but then they run with it. They aren't really all that into building towers with anything except their mega blocks or nesting blocks, but I keep trying.

We recently acquired some of those awesome large cardboard bricks by Melissa & Doug. Our kids haven't really wanted to play with them yet. I started stacking them like "stairs" and invited a few soft toy animals to climb the "stairs" and voilĂ , a game was born. Every single animal in their collection ended up climbing "stairs" and sitting on "platforms" custom-built for them. Before I knew it, the kids were building with the bricks, having the animals walk up the stairs, feeding them, and having them walk down. This is a huge lesson to me not to write off any particular toy, but to "repurpose" it, or to think outside the box, if you will.


The kids have jumped on the guest room bed piled high with pillows, and frequently play in other "forbidden" (not fully childproofed) spaces for as long as my nerves can stand it. With triplet toddlers, you have to be hyper vigilant when they're not in a 100% childproofable space, so it's quite stressful for me, but for them.

It usually goes something like this, "Don't touch that! Don't put that in your mouth! Get down from there! Don't pull on that! No jumping on that! That's not a toy. *sigh* Okay, let's go somewhere else, so I can start saying 'Yes!' to you again. Let's go! Go! Go!"


Our girls LOVE receiving mail. Despite us unsubscribing from every known list on planet Earth, we still get enough neighborhood mailers. The kids even fight over them, depending on what is pictured. They now say, "Mail. ABCs!" when we retrieve the mail. I stuff opened envelopes with other pieces of paper, like receipts that would've been recycled.

We make paper airplanes from junkmail, crumple them to make lightweight balls, and we play a simple made-up game where I slowly approach a little hand holding an envelope or piece of paper and then quickly and unexpectedly "snatch" it from them without tearing it. This works great for multiples, because they never know who I'm going to target next and the anticipation is what makes this game fun for them.

They are so easy to entertain, *sometimes.* We have also accidentally stumbled on a fun game where I let a gazillion envelope-sized coupons "flutter" down on them. I stand and hold it above my head while they sit. It's similar to throwing leaves in the air, only it's cleaner and you can do it inside when it rains. ;-)


The girls have recently discovered their own shadows, so shadow puppets and flashlights are definitely a big hit.

Please keep those fantastic comments and ideas coming. It's awesome to be able to draw on your collective wisdom.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The real world

Sorry for the interruption in our regular "programming." We'll get back to that innocent world soon. Promise.

In the meantime, I'm reeling from news from the real world and struggling to process it all. A friend of mine suffered the worst attack imaginable recently. She had a seizure following the brutal attack, which left her unable to speak or move. She passed away on Sunday afternoon.

Another friend, a teacher with two young kids, committed suicide recently. Her kids are now with her ex, and have emigrated to another country, where their father lives.

I can't make sense of any of it, and I'm so incredibly heartbroken for these two families.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Activities with toddlers: inside

If you've come across a great resource for easy activities to do with toddlers, or have ideas on things to do to keep them occupied, please share by leaving a comment.

We sing, dance and read a lot, but I thought I'd attempt to capture some other ideas too.

I'm no authority on the subject of toddlers, and this is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but here are some cheap and/or easy strategies I've learned along the way from other parents, and ideas that have kept our kids gleefully occupied in and around the house while having fun and learning. I hope this helps an overwhelmed parent to claim a few moments of sanity!


Divide their toys into tubs/baskets/containers so they don't have access to all of their toys every day. Hide them in a closet or a room they don't have access to. Out of sight, out of mind. Then rotate the toys. I bring out a different tub every morning or whenever they become whiny/bored and it works wonders because they have renewed interest in their toys. I've found that at least 4 days is the ideal amount of time to "hide" a toy.


Sometimes I change where the toys are kept that they have access to. I'll switch the contents of cubbies and containers around, or move the ballpit balls from one place to another. They often play with toys they haven't touched in days if they discover it in a new spot. It's fun to watch them "find" and rediscover forgotten items.

I often change which toys are kept in which room. Since we have 3 toddlers, we have childproofed our living room, our enclosed porch and a part of our lower level. When they start to get antsy, I herd them outside or into a new space with other toys. Often, changing the environment helps as much as changing the activity. More on that in part 2 and 3 of this series of posts.


Before naptime and bedtime, we sing a clean-up song while I try to put things away. They don't always help me, but they're starting to help more often and for longer periods. Oh, those short toddler attention spans! Sometimes they'll put things away without prompting, and say in a sing-songy voice, "clea-mup... clea-mup!" just to dump them out again. This, of course, is what toddlers do best and is a worthwhile endeavor too. Just not as much fun for me.

But I do think it's starting to sink in. It helps them "categorize" and learn to search for items, and follow instructions. E.g. "Let's clean up all of the blocks. Oh, look, there's a block behind the teddy bear. Can you bring it to me?"

Let's pack up all of the red balls! (Hold up a red ball.)

Oooh, can you find all of the teddy bears among the soft toys?

This game is endless, depending on the characteristics you point out and your level of patience.


Our kids have way too many toys, but sometimes all it takes is a bunch of plastic containers. It can be your Tupperware, or not. Sometimes the bigger yogurt containers make excellent toys, because they can:

- fill them and dump the contents
- attempt to open and close the lids
- bang on them like a drum

Plastic bottles.
We rinse small soda/juice bottles, remove the labels and lid (choking hazard) and hand them a bunch of straws. Our kids have spent a solid 30 minutes inserting straws into soda bottles and dumping them out again. Great for dexterity and working on fine motor skills. Of course, this is a closely supervised activity because of the straws.

Wooden spoons. These make great mallets to bang on stuff.

Stainless mixing bowls (oh, shiny object!)

Measuring cups. They have three different sets of stacking cups, but my measuring cups are more interesting to them because they are stainless steel and have handles.

Colorful tins with pictures.


Keep big boxes. We go through so many diapers (sorry, planet Earth, as much as I wanted to, I ended up not having it in me to clothdiaper three). We always have big diaper boxes on hand. These make awesome toys to climb on top of, sit on, climb into, and dump stuff into and out of. We've pushed them around the house in the boxes too, making swoosh!, zoom!, brrrm! and beep beep noises. They also like pushing them around more than their expensive push toys.


In our former life, we used to go camping. Now the air mattress is an excellent way to spend 30 minutes on a rainy day getting some exercise. Jumping at this age is a critical skill to learn, and when your kids have gross motor delays, it serves a very important purpose while having fun.


We purchased a play kitchen from Craigslist for $60 (it retails for over $300.)


We have tubs with:

1. Small animals.
Some are finger puppets, some are plastic toys, some are bathtime animals, and some are soft toys.

2. Tiny little books.
They love books and have board books out all the time, but what makes these books special is that they're tiny and fit neatly into a tin that I wanted to discard but decided on a whim to keep. The tin has kept them almost as busy as any other toy, trying to open and close it, bang it, put other stuff in it. And they discover these books anew every time they play with this tub. Because there are sooo many of the little books, they never get tired of them.

3. Wooden blocks and stacking toys.

4. Puzzles with handles.
They still can't get them in by themselves, but we talk about the pictures on the puzzles (mostly anmimals) and try to match them to their "friends." I make silly farm animal or wild animal noises, tell them about the animals, and talk about what each animal eats or does.

They now get it right 100% of the time, although for the longest time I thought they weren't really into puzzles. I just kept at it and now they love it. Don't expect them to finish the puzzle, but praise praise praise if they point to the matching object, or attempt to bring the piece to where it belongs. The girls occasionally get a piece fully into the puzzle, and they're so proud of themselves when it slips into place.

5. Hand puppets.
Some are cheap washcloth "mittens" with animals on them (duck, seal, frog), but we also have an "Assemble a monster" toy. It's a velcro hand puppet made of fleece with different eyes/noses/horns/arms/legs that you can velcro anywhere on the hand puppet.

We make funny noises for each monster. Their monsters give hugs and kisses, are fed "milk" and whatever they can dream up, and sometimes do unexpected un-girly like things, like burp and then we giggle and talk about what to say. "Monster, when you burp, you need to say, 'Excuse me!' Teaching the monster is so much more fun than whining at my kids about manners! And they learn without feeling like I'm admonishing them. Goodness knows, they get preached out all day long, "No! Don't touch that!" "That's not a toy!" "That's dangerous!" "That's sharp/hot/dirty (fill in the blank)" so it's a wonderful change of pace when I discover a fun and effective way of getting the same message across.


- Backyard activities with toddlers

- Activities in the community

- I'd like to compile a list of their favorite purchased toys (with links to examples) and will post that soon.

With the girls' 2nd birthday coming up soon, what were some of your kids' favorite toys at age 2? Or if you have a toddler or are around toddlers, what have you seen them play with most?

>> If you have any tips to keep toddlers occupied, please share. We're always on the lookout for ideas. My sanity depends on it. (Yes, all about me.)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Attachment, and reflections on personality

Attachment to Blankets
The girls are very attached to their "blankies" and "bershies" as they affectionaly call them. The blankets receive numerous hugs, are sometimes "fed" milk from a sippy, stroked, soothed, kissed, and are on the receiving end of the sweetest, whispered, "I love you, bershie" words.

The blankets remain inside the house, and they now say their goodbyes to the blankets at the top of the stairs each morning when we head outside. So cute.

Attachment to Toys
On the soft toy front, each child has a favorite lovey. Ada has an Otter, "Otterjasie" Julia has a panda, "Pandamonium" and Emma has a puppy, "Ore." The soft toys sleep with them, and are always near during the day. When we head out the door, the soft toys go along for the ride, whether it's in the car, the stroller or the Choo Choo wagon. Oh, how I love the sweetness of toddlerhood, when every fear can be assuaged by a lovey.

Lovey Personalities
Julia feeds Pandamonium "bamboo" from her sippy cup or spoon, and has squeezed him and loved on him that he's a shadow of his former self.

Julia insists that he understands English only. Whenever she has him in her arms and I'm speaking Afrikaans, she says to me, "Panda... English!" and then I have to repeat whatever I said in English, for the panda's benefit, you see. Cracks me up every time. She also laughs when I start speaking English to him. This child absolutely loves language. She has totally figured out that each object has at least two names. If I only give her the one name for something, she'll request to hear it in the other language. Blows me away.

Emma loves on her puppy all day long. She whispers sweet nothings in the puppy's ears, pets him, hugs him to death, and strokes his head. Puppy is often covered with her blanket and rocked to sleep. It's really sweet to watch her express her love. She's very gentle and sweet with puppy, and it reflects our most sensitive child's personality. She is most attached to her blanket and sucks on it to soothe herself, but the puppy is never far from her either.

Ada's otter uses his tail to tickle her feet. She makes him do that - it's not something I showed her. She says, "tick tick tick" and giggles. She greets him with, "More Otter" ("Morning, Otter") every morning when she wakes up. Ada loves her otter, but is not as attached to him as her sisters are to their lovies. Everything Otterjasie does reflects Ada's fun-loving, outgoing, confident personality.

Sharing Lovies
Every now and then one child will pick up all 3 lovies, and express their undying love for all 3. This is usually only "tolerated" for a minute or two at a time by her sisters, before someone reclaims their soft toy. If someone picks up the "wrong" soft toy on purpose, the owner will reclaim it by handing her sister the "right" soft toy.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

4-word sentences

First off, let me confess: we don't bathe our kids every night. *gasp* Last night was a non-bath night. My husband came home just around bedtime, and the girls were desperate for some dad attention. In our temporary home, he is the one who bathes them, because my back can't handle it. (I used to just jump in the tub with them, but our temporary house has a tiny bathroom and even tinier bath.)

Ada's genius solution to spend more time with dad? Her first 4-word sentence ever: "Ada vuil - pappa bad" which translates to: "Ada dirty - daddy bath" What a clever stalling tactic before bed! Her exact wish wasn't granted, but her daddy did scoop her and her sisters up and gave them some extra hugs and playtime before bed. Too sweet.

This morning, Emma said, "Pappa gone. Work. Mamma home."

I just love this newfound level of communication they have with stringing words together. It's lovely to hear them express themselves, to find out what's going on in their heads, and for me to be able to talk in complete sentences, and know that they're grasping what I'm saying.

There is so much chattering happening now that I find myself saying, "Hang on. One at a time. What did you say? (pointing to child)" I chuckle as I'm writing this, just imagining the preteen and teen years.! And already, they're on their play phones constantly.

I'm seeing more tantrums, less patience, more exerting of their wills, and more typical 2-year old behavior. So I've started to offer them choices, and picking my battles. For example, when getting them dressed, I'll ask, "the pink shorts or the blue shorts?" Now, whenever I bring their clothes, Julia says, "Julia choose (shorts/dress/pants/shirt)!" like she's expressing first dibs on selecting. Classic! Simply awesome to watch their personalities develop and to watch them learn new skills.

Ada: independent, tinkering, exhuberant, loves exploring stuff

Julia: daredevil, social butterfly, loves jumping, climbing and singing.

Emma: gentle, cautious, loves reading and running full tilt.

The above is what they would naturally gravitate to if we aren't doing any structured activity.

All of them enjoy reading, singing, dancing and being around people, and are extremely observant. They note things that they hear, see or smell, that would just otherwise pass me by. Through them, I've become much more aware of other aspects of our world. The crickets chirping, the wind blowing, an airplane passing overhead...

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Being on the fence

I feel pretty defeated today. I shouldn't feel that, but I do. You see, the kids had their EI evaluations (in our new county and state) today and according to the therapists, they all came out "right where they should be." Yet, they're only looking at "functionality" and only saw the kids at their absolute best. First thing in the morning, right after they slept and ate.

I hate being in this position of needing to advocate for them. You know the kind of unenviable position nobody wants to be in when facing a medical professional: the whining mother. The one who insists there's still some progress to be made when people who look on the surface think otherwise.

Today, I felt like I needed to justify and convince. Their 3x Cerebral Palsy diagnoses aren't "enough" to qualify them. What.the.fuck. "Cerebral Palsy is a catch-all diagnosis. It's so broad," said the therapist.

So, "they probably need orthotics" but because they can walk "functionally" they "don't need therapy." Say what? So, in a sense, it's counting against them that we've taught them to walk by age 1ish, and to run and jump before age 2. That, I hate. I want to celebrate their successes, not be in this position of barely good enough.

I'm pissed because I feel like I failed them today. I'm frustrated because I don't want them to have to receive services, and yet, here I am battling the system... and losing.

Parents of kids with hemiparesis and paraparesis have warned me that if their diagnosis is mild, it's a struggle to obtain and maintain services because the kids' problems are subtle and not always "on display" during an eval. I knew this awkward position was coming, yet I feel utterly overwhelmed by it and quite stuck with how to proceed. Essentially, they're doing too well to qualify, and not well enough for my mind to be truly at ease.

Of course, I'm also the woman who cried when their first round of evals came back and showed that they had delays. I'm the woman who bawled when they were diagnosed. So, I should be happy about today's good news, shouldn't I? Isn't this what I've wished for all these months? That they would progress beautifully? Isn't this my dream come true? Then why does this feel so wrong?

I want to be just proud of every single thing they do, and not want to have to point out the stuff that they're struggling with. Stumbling. Not being able to balance all that well. Walking into walls when there's the smallest of distraction. Still not tolerating certain tastes and textures. And yet, that's what I had to do today. I heard myself as I was talking, and I could hear the patronizing answers coming back at me.

Absolutely the worst thing a therapist can say to you when you voice a concern, is that "there's a wide range of normal." Or: "that's what typical toddlers do." Like I don't have eyes in my head. Like I don't have THREE kids who share the same experiences but with wildly different personalities and skills that span the spectrum of what typical is. Like I haven't read all there is to read about their diagnoses, like I haven't sought the insights of other parents with kids who face the same diagnoses, like I haven't consulted with many medical professionals. I despise feeling dismissed.

I'm getting even more peeved as I'm writing this, which means the vent is probably working. Thank you for allowing me to voice all of these conflicting thoughts. I hope to be back to my thankful place tomorrow. The thankful place that allows me to be the mom not-weighed-down by those little nagging thoughts,

"What if they get teased?"

"What if they struggle more if they don't get the help they need now?"

"What if all the targeted play and "work" we've done with them the past 21 months is negated by them not getting all the help they need now?

"What if they regress on skills already learned?"

"What if they learn the 'wrong' way of using their bodies to compensate and then we have a harder struggle ahead than we needed to have?"

They qualified for weekly OT and PT sessions before, but now, in our new state, we'll be lucky to get a monthly PT session and maybe 4 OT consults in 6 months. It's not nothing, so we have a lifeline. And for that I am truly thankful. It's just not what I know in my heart they still need.

I've always imagined them being done with EI by age 3. Again, thankful for that. And we were on our way toward that goal. But now I feel like they might not get the help they need right now... and then we may need to step it up when they're older and in school. That thought terrifies me. To wait until the delay is so visible and bad that you can't address or erase it with ease. To go contrary to what the mommy gut instinct is saying.

This is hard.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Triplets and sharing... or not

I've been teaching the girls a new word, "mine" (myne). I don't want them to push/shove/bite/pull hair when someone takes something that's theirs. I want them to be able to verbalize it. They don't yet have all of the words to ask nicely. So, even though I know I'll regret it, I'm teaching them to stand up for themselves when a sister pounces to grab and run away with a favorite lovey or blankie.

Of course, I want them to learn to share too, but they share almost everything already, and this is mostly an effort to stop Ada from bullying Emma and constantly taking her blanket or lovey. Ada does it to get my attention, I know, so I'm making a concerted effort to give her other positive attention throughout the day, and to make sure she can locate HER blanket/lovey when she wants it, instead of taking her sisters'.

It's working, but takes a ton of discipline from me to step back in those moments, not get frustrated, and say to myself, "Why is she doing this again?" And the answer is almost always, "because she wants my attention." It's my biggest challenge to divide my attention somewhat equally between the three of them, and still give each child the 1:1 attention they crave and deserve. So this behavior targets my achilles heel.

I try not to physically intervene each time unless there's bullying. I want them to (eventually) learn to amicably resolve their own battles. But I do pipe up with words they can use when they start showing frustration. They don't actually repeat those words yet, but I'm hoping it'll start sticking at some point. In that regard, I've often treated them like much older kids, even though I don't expect a big kid reaction from a toddler. They've often surprised me.

Mostly, a redirect/distract with a "new" toy/book works wonders. Sometimes, it's more difficult to solve, and it requires me playing with them 100% actively to keep the peace. Quick! Sing a song!

I find that they play fine on their own after they wake from naps, and I can play with them for about 10 minutes, step back but still be in the room for a few minutes, etc. But when they're tired/hungry, it takes everything I have to maintain the serenity in this household. Even my 100% attention isn't enough at that point to keep the meltdowns at bay. It's hard.

There is, however, lots of great sharing of toys happening already, which amazes me for their age. Julia is such a compassionate kid, who will easily take something to her sisters (sippy cup, toy, blanket), or give a toy in exchange for another toy offered by her sisters, or simply give it when it looks like her sisters really want it, and then go find something else to play with. She'll even prompt them to say, "dankie!" (thank you). Melts my heart. She's also figured out that if she wants something, she can hold out her hand to her sisters, and say, "dankie!" and that often results in her getting her way. Sneaky.

Emma will just wail if anything of hers is taken. She's starting to want to bite in an effort to fight back, hence me teaching her words like, "mine." She's my gentle, sensitive kid, and I try hard to empower her. She has more words than anyone, is starting to form 2-word sentences, and will most likely be the first to verbally express her needs. But Ada walks all over her (figuratively speaking).

Ada has such a strong personality, and is the self-appointed leader of the trio. She is immensely sweet, but can also be very demanding and independent. She figures stuff out that her sisters pay no attention to, like how to work the vacuum cleaner, she'll pull the garden hose to the splash pool in an attempt to fill it, and she knows how latches, snaps and locks work. Stuff that's supposed to be way beyond a 1.5 year old's interest and capability. When the other two see her making a discovery, they're all over it too.

Emma is really into her dolls at the moment. She loves them, hugs them, rocks them to sleep, and says, "Du du" to them while patting their backs. We're seeing more pretend play with all 3, and we often drape a blanket over dolls to pretend to tuck them in, or offer sippy cups or snacks to the dolls and soft toys while they're eating/drinking.

Today, I'm proud to admit, we took it to a whole new level. I "diapered" a Panda, Raggedy Ann, and a Hippopotamus. Because these soft toys aren't potty trained, and I don't have enough kids to diaper as it is. The trio thought it was hysterical. I told the hippo - in particular! - to lay still because he's such a wiggle worm, and blew pretend raspberries on the soft toy tummies (not as easy as it sounds... *cleans fuzz out of mouth*) I'll often blow raspberries on the trio's tummies when I change their diapers, so I went through the whole routine. Then they blew raspberries and helped me fix the soft toy diapers. Soooo cute.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Early July Update: 20 months

As we started running out of time with the packing prior to our move, we started tossing stuff that clearly didn't belong into boxes to co-habitate during the move. Everytime I'd unpack something strange (think baby potty packed with laundry detergent) or books with paper towels (we needed to balance the weight!), we'd get a chuckle out of it and say, "Another priceless contribution from the Department of Random."

My blogging feels like that too lately. There's no time to organize a coherent post, and if I waited until I could get my act together, I'd have a ghost blog.

So, without further adieu, another priceless contribution from the Department of Random:

- Ada figured out how to eat with a spoon (July 3).

- Emma gently nudged Julia ahead of her on walkway, and said, “stap stap” (it sounded like, “tap tap.” It means to “walk walk”.) I was very impressed that she didn’t push or shove, and used a verbal cue to let her sister know to hurry up ahead of her.

- A friend spent some time teaching Ada how to open a stainless steel water bottle. She now knows how to turn the cap, release her hand, and turn the cap again, until it comes off. Oh, the trouble we're in.

- We are discovering our new backyard. Playing in the sandy soil, splashing in the baby pool, sliding down the slide. The bonus is that our friend – lover of all things living – found a resident box turtle in our yard and showed the girls. They loved seeing the real live turtle.

- Our friend also has 3 little baby birds that he’s hand rearing, and the girls watched him feed the “triplet” birds. They now say, “cheep cheep” whenever he walks by! Oh, and another new word, "triplet!" Sounds like "tippet" when they say it, and I just get all warm and fuzzy when I hear them saying that word.

- They can all climb into and out of the Choo Choo wagon by themselves now. This is astonishing to me, because of the motor planning and coordination it takes to do that. Pretty impressive how far they've come on the PT front.

- Ada gets her toes over the railing of her crib. I think we’ll have a climber soon. Emma copied her, but because she's shorter, there's less immediate risk. We have a crib tent II on standby and we're not afraid to use it.

- Julia ate whole peas for the first time on July 3, and cooked, cut-up carrots for the first time on July 4. I’ve offered that a bazillion times before, but she’s always refused to eat any vegetable that wasn’t pureed or somehow hidden in a marinara sauce. All of this running around is making this kid H-U-N-G-R-Y and she’s suddenly eating all sorts of things she’s never wanted to touch before. She didn’t want anything to do with the cut-up potato in front of her, but then grabbed (the same) half a potato from my plate and nibbled away at it. What a sight!

They are exerting their will more often. They give very clear signals to indicate what they want to eat, and when they’re done. (Sometimes they'll rip their velcroed bibs off midway through the meal, which drives me crazy, and then wipe it through the food that's left on the feeding table. Because, you know, eating isn't messy enough yet.)

They have the cutest and most definitive way of saying, “no.” It’s not a mean and disagreeable “no,” it’s more of a “nope.”

Every now and then they don’t throw a sippy, but actually hand it to me. They're starting to want to put it down upright, instead of sideways.

If they're venturing away from me and into an unsafe area (e.g. towards a road at the rest stops while we were in the midst of our moving extravagaza), Emma will stop and turn around, and come back to me when I ask her to do so. She isn't always compliant, but she is certainly our most compliant kid. It helps me so much when at least one listens, because then I have 2 arms free to keep the other 2 out of harms way. Fortunately, friends came along, so I wouldn't be outnumbered. I'm just trying really hard to teach them to stick with me in case I take them places by myself. Wouldn't want them to bolt in 3 directions!

eagle, burra (kookaburra), bakkie (container), beker (mug), koffie (coffee), wit (white) (only Emma says this), koppie (cup), “djaff” (giraffe), vaal (oval), swaai/swing, fan, draai (turn), leeu (they pronounce it "deeu"), lion, hoender (chicken), eendjie (only Emma says this), pampoen (pumpkin), pynappel (pineapple), mielie (corn), ertjie (pea), skop/kick, bytjie/bee (Emma), plane, copter, digger, bus, tractor, masjien/machine (pronounced, "sheen!"), fiets/bike, donder(weer)/thunder, reen/rain, brood (bread), (s)nack, komkommer (cucumber), -matie (tomato), boontjie (greenbean).

Tonight, there were cut greenbeans on their plates (a mom can dream), and Emma called them, “chips” (french fries) because they were the same shape. I went with it, but it didn't help much.

When they hear the distinctive beep-beep of a truck backing up, they say, “truck!” I’m amazed at what they hear and recognize. Julia is fixated on tractors, trucks and machines right now. When given a choice of a million and one books, the one with the various methods of transportation is all she cares about. Her fixation with trucks happily peaked during and after our move. Imagine her surprise on our "packing" day when there were suddenly two HUGE trucks in our driveway. She was equally pleased to see them at our new house.

Today, a delivery truck came by, she heard it, shouted, "Truck! Truck! Truck!" I lifted her up so she could see out the window, and that made her day. When the truck left, she cried inconsolably, 'Twuuucckk! Twuccckk! Nooooo!." Maybe she thought someone she knew was in the truck? I don't know, and have been trying hard to explain it all to her.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Our new life

The news is that my husband accepted a job offer in another state and that we have done the seemingly impossible. We have completed the move and are now in our new house. But let me backtrack.

He accepted the offer late Friday evening a few weeks ago. We met with a realtor the Saturday morning, staged the house, took photos, notified our employers of our intent to resign, and listed our house the Monday afternoon. We asked for 24 hr notice of any showing, because it's no picnic getting ourselves, 3 toddlers and a dog out of the house, with the house looking spotless. On Tuesday, the realtors called.

On Wednesday early evening, the first couple came and looked at the house, and later that same evening we had a solid offer. We were in shock at how fortunate we were, because of the stagnant housing market. We continued showing the house just in case, and one of the couples made a backup offer the following evening.

We started packing, searching for rental homes, finishing up our respective jobs in a way that would enable a seamless transition to the new hires at our respective employers, writing resignation letters, begging friends for help on the home front, and panicking about everything that still needed to happen.

Our house passed inspection, we negotiated some more, and with two weeks to go before our move, we finally found a rental home. Phew. Whirlwind. Getting the lease agreement signed was a humongous pain in the neck. The house we wanted to rent had been on the market, and when it didn't sell, the owners switched from the realtors to a property management company. They did this, after we had completed the realtors' lease agreements and submitted our documents. So we needed to redo everything and then some. Because once, with feeling, is not enough. They made us jump through hoops like you wouldn't believe. It seriously is easier to BUY a house than to RENT one. Blegh. Even with a stellar credit rating. Anyway, that's done now.

We tried to keep the disruption to the kids' lives to a minimum, and didn't pack their stuff until the very last week. They received EI therapy services until two days before the move. We talked to them about all that was happening and I think that helped a ton. It certainly helped me process it all. I reassured myself as I reassured them. Everything will be okay.

They have adjusted perfectly fine to our new surroundings. There was one gutwrenching moment when we drove away from our house with two Penske trucks and 3 vehicles, and Emma said she wanted to, "Climb out. Go home!" I envisioned hearing that whine for the next 9 hours, but she settled in nicely for the long drive. It was her first two sentences strung together, and prize winning ones at that. Heartfelt in its sincerity and comprehension of the situation.

Part of me wanted to stop the runaway train we were on several times before, during and after the move, but there's no looking back. So onwards and upwards we go.

I have resigned from a job that I loved, with smart, innovative colleagues that I adore. I doubt I will ever find anything as fun, fulfilling, meaningful and joyous. So for now, at least, I will do the only other fun, fulfilling, meaningful and joyous job that I can think of: being a stay-at-home mom to my children. And that is a wonderful gift and dream come true.

I have wanted to feel less pulled-in-a-million directions, but selfishly didn't want to give up my job that I had pre-kids. My previous employer allowed me such flexibility, and made it possible for me to return part-time after I had the girls. It's been challenging juggling it all, though, and constantly feeling like I wasn't able to do my best at work or at home on a part-time schedule with minimal childcare. My solution was to have returned to work full-time this past month, since I felt confident that the girls have reached an age where they would thrive in a daycare environment. We started acclimating them to the daycare in anticipation of my return to work full-time, but then my husband's job offer happened out of the blue and everything changed. Fast.

I'm still spinning, adjusting and processing what this all means. Do I want to work again? Can we afford for me not to work? Will I be a good mom if I'm with my kids full-time? If I work, how will we afford daycare for 3 in our new hometown, where it is much more expensive? I just don't know, and I'm trying to catch my breath before diving into any longer term decisions.

We have been in our new rental home for a week, and closed on our old house on Friday. I have to set up EI services from scratch starting with evaluations (boo! so inefficient that our IFSP's can't be transferred) and there are many other time-sensitive things left to do before we can officially claim to be more fully settled. Car registrations, licenses, address changes. Fun times.

Hopefully this will all be worthwhile. At least my husband has had a great first week in his new job, and the kids are doing great. That's 80% of the battle won. As for the other 20% of the equation (me) the jury is still out, but here's to hoping.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Talking up a storm

Another update coming soon since we have news galore, but first an update on the girls...

The chatter in this household is unreal now. I love listening to them chat in their room. It's incredible to communicate with my children and receive responses that I can decipher easily. "Are you thirsty?" is greeted with vehement head nodding, and then, "Milk!" or "Water!" or "Cup." Okay then, my loves. I'll take that as a "Yes, please, mom."

"Are you tired?" is greeted with the word, "doedoe" (sleep) and "bersie" (blanket) while they lay down on the playroom floor. Got it. Time for a snooze.

"Are you hungry?" is greeted with them running to the triplet feeding table, or pointing at the fridge.

When they're done eating dinner, I ask, "And what happens now?" With one voice, they say, "Cookie! Cookie! Cookie!"

Me, "And what would you like now?"
Emma is usually the first to respond with, "Melkies!" (milk) and soon the others join in a little choir.

They're starting to repeat "asseblief" - the word for please and "dankie" (thank you). The hysterical thing is, they are already prompting ME to say thank you. This morning, hubby handed me my coffee, and Julia said, "Coffee." And a second later, she said, "Dankie!" There could be worse things she could be repeating or prompting me to say. LOL.

These kids are starting to say more complex words like, otter, dolphin, penguin, and koala. Julia says, "koo-lala" which is so freaking cute, I can't stand it. The Afrikaans word for penguin is "pikkewyn" and the three of them each pronounce it differently:

"Pik-kyn" (Emma)
"Pik-e-yn" (Julia)
"Puh puh" (Ada)

They're saying, "fiets" (bicycle), "truck" (Julia's new favorite word), "trekker" (tractor), "boat," "helicopter" ("copter"), "bus" and understand "plane" but do not say it yet.

They're always excited to see their toothbrushes and say, "borsel" (brush - for hairbrush and toothbrush), but are less excited once we actually start brushing teeth.

They know words like "door" and "bird" and since they know all the body parts, we've moved on to joints, like "elbow," and "ankle." I've been teaching them, "wrist" and "hips" but they don't get or say those yet.

They know "ring" and "horlosie" and pronounce it "losie" (wrist watch). I rarely wear earrings anymore, but I did this week, and soon, Julia and Emma were saying, "belle" (oorbelle).

Emma is such a little chatterbox now, and knows the plural and dimunitive form of many words. It blows me away. She'll say and use them appropriately, which is even more astounding. "hasie" (rabbit) and "poppie" and too many others to recollect. She also very clearly says, "uitklim" (to climb out) if she wants to get out of the feeding table or out of her crib. It sounds like, "uitblim" but it's very distinguishable.

Ada has made huge strides with her speech the last few weeks. She is now saying words like, "house," "duck," "milk" and our dog's name (a two syllable word) very clearly, whereas before she was just saying the first syllable of any given word.

At the beginning of June, we went to a parade in our town. When Emma saw the horses in the parade, she was in disbelief! She bounced up and down in the triplet stroller, pointing like crazy and shouting excitedly, "Horsey! Horsey! Horse! Horshey! Perd! Neigh! Neigh!" until they disappeared around the corner. Julia blew raspberries like a horse and said, "neigh! neigh! neigh!", and Ada clicked her tongue to immitate the sound of their hooves.

Emma touches her chest and says, "Emma" and then points to me and says, "Mamma." Whenever anyone else visits, she'll point to me repeatedly and say, "Mamma!" and wait for people to acknowledge her. She's just letting everyone know that I'm her mama. Love it.

They say our friends' names, "Rinda, Famke, Lukie, Carly, Kathy, Nancy, Chris, Steve, Judy, Leigh, and many more. The girls love looking at the photos on the camera after I've taken pictures, and will identify the people in the photos.

I can not get enough of how cute they are right now. I'm trying to absorb it, because soon enough the tantrumming will be adding to my gray hair. Tantrums are already a fairly regular occurence, but for the most part, I'm able to ignore/redirect or figure out that they're tired/hungry and go from there.

This afternoon, Ada tripped and bumped her lip against the Cozy Coupe. Julia and Emma seemed alarmed by her crying, and said, "Huil!" (to cry) and then proceeded to each give Ada a kiss. It was just the sweetest thing.

They often want the same toy, and will try and shove or head butt, or reach to pull hair to lay claim to it, so I'm constantly redirecting and saying, "Gently. We share. We don't do X - we do X" (fill in the blank as I'm distracting them with what I DO want them to do). It is exhausting, so when there are kisses and hugs doled out without prompting, it's extra sweet. It often feels like I'm directing WWF.

It's simply adorable how they've bonded, and how they sometimes hand one another something. Ada mostly uses this like a decoy technique. "Here! You take this shiny object - dangles it in front of her sister - so I can play with the toy I really want." I wonder where she has seen that. (Laughing!)

Miss Ada sleeps less, and wakes before anyone else. Yesterday morning, my husband was up with her, changed her diaper, and gave her a sippy, but didn't close the nursery door behind him. Next thing he knows, Ada did a 180 and is standing in front of Julia and Emma's cribs, going, "Hi! Hi! Hi! Hi!" incessantly, until, of course, they woke up. Mission accomplished.

This week, Ada has also figured out how to hang and swing from the overhang of our kitchen island. An amazing feat and not one that I want to encourage, but one that I secretly take pride in. She now has such amazing control over her little body which she didn't have just a few months ago. It really is something to celebrate when this child, whom we weren't sure would walk, pulls stunts like that.

Today, Emma and Julia tried it too, with mixed success. They're a bit shorter...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Emma's Precious First Phrase

When I came home early last night, just in time to tuck them in, Emma looked up and said, "Hello my mama!" It was the cutest thing I've ever heard. This girl is suddenly trying to say all sorts of things, but this was the first phrase. She looked so proud of herself when I reacted in disbelief at what I just heard.

Julia started being my echo about a week ago, and now Emma's doing the same thing. Everything is being repeated.

Ada now says words like "huis" (house), while Emma amazed me today when she said, "yellow!" clear as day. We were actually looking at a page full of yellow objects, but then she wouldn't repeat it for her dad, so who knows if it was coincidence.

We've had a few rough weeks. At first, I thought the girls had a cold, but now, after about 3 weeks of sniffling and sneezing, it's finally dawned on me that it must be allergies. It only struck me when they started rubbing eyes when they weren't tired. Tree pollen does me in every year, so it's no wonder that this is the time of year they're struggling too. Oy.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Why I hate Aetna

I'm so furious right now. I just found out Aetna will not cover the Mirena IUD. As you can probably ascertain from the fact that we have both male and female infertility and had to do IVF with ICSI twice, I've never needed birth control.

Now while I completely understand that birth control is not always covered by insurance plans, I find it incomprehensible that Aetna would not cover this simple in-office procedure when it is medically necessary for Endometriosis patients.

Aetna would rather fork over $30,000+ every few years for me to have an operative laparoscopy to remove bilateral complex cysts and endo adhesions than to pay less than $1,000 to curb the bleeding for 5+ years. They would rather pay for all the ultrasounds leading up to the surgery, reproductive endocrinologist's visit, the surgeon's time to perform the surgery, the time for a GI specialist to be on hand, the anesthesiologist, the surgery suite and related hospital costs, all of the nurses before, during and afterwards (in the PACU), the pharmaceutical expenses, etc. etc.

If I had to do the math, I'd say it's a questions of:
60,000+ every 5 years for surgery
1,000 every 5 years for the IUD

I'm dumbfounded by their stupidity and shortsightedness. It makes NO financial/business sense, no personal sense and it just infuriates me beyond reason.

Why is Endometriosis so misunderstood, and why does it have to be such a battle? As if dealing with the never-ending pain, infertility and emotional issues aren't enough.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Observant kids make associations

Post from 4/12. Still trying to catch up!



I showed them a photo of a carrot in a book with images of fruits and veggies. This book only has foods in it - no animals. Suddenly both Emma and Julia brought their fingers to their mouths and pretended to nibble like a bunny. Wow!

I've often showed them how a bunny eats when we play with their soft toy animals, and I've told them verbally that bunnies like carrots and other things, but none of their books have bunnies with carrots. How mindblowing is it that they not only comprehend the animal and the veggie, but that bunnies eat carrots, and how they nibble them? That level of understanding - out of context - simply blew me away.



There's an Afrikaans song about a bunny that hops, and has droopy ears. I sang this song to them once, a week ago. Tonight when I sang it, both Julia and Emma's little hands flew up to their heads, and they closed and opened their hands to show me the "droopy" bunny ears.



I'm constantly stunned by what my kids notice and pay attention to.

Ada saw me bring out their sweaters and shoes from the nursery to the living room before naptime. She said very adamently, "tatta tatta tatta" (to go bye bye).

I explained we were not leaving yet, and that she needed to take a nap first. Thirty minutes later, she's still whining, and I start to wonder if she has a dirty diaper. I go in to check on her, and her diaper is fine, but the first thing she says to me, is "Tatta!! Tatta!!" as she reaches up to ask me to pick her up. Again, I explain that it's naptime, that we'll be leaving later, and that she should quiet down because her sisters are sleeping. So instead she whispers, "tatta tatta tatta tatta!"

I walk out of her bedroom giggling and shaking my head at this determined child. She screams bloody murder for a few minutes. Another halfhour passes. She continues to whine, but not as intensely.

Then I go pick her up, and she says in a really excited voice, "TATTA?? TATTA??" And I say, "Yes, we're leaving now. Let's get your shoes and sweater on." She happily "helps" me dress her, but then doesn't want to leave my sight.

My folks tried to get her to play outside on our enclosed deck for awhile while I got her sisters up. Being outside is her favorite place to be now that the weather has turned, but she watched me like a hawk to make sure I'd make good on my promise. And I did. The place we went to has a huge ball pit, every ride-on toy imaginable, a large gym to run around in with a big indoor slide, and pretty much anything a little kid would enjoy.



At this same fun place, there's an office adjacent to the room we were in. High up on a shelf in the office, was a little bear facing away from us. At different times while we were there, all 3 of my kids walked toward the office, pointed up, and said, "Beer!" (bear) and "Teddy!"


SEEING THE LIGHT, pun intended

Julia noticed the light and said the Afrikaans word, "lig." 3 days later, Emma pointed to it and said it too.



We often read and sing the "Ten in the Bed" book and song.

"There were 10 in the bed and the little one said, 'Roll over, roll over!' so they all rolled over and one fell out, There were 9 in the bed..." and so forth.

Now, before I get to the end of the countdown where the little boy is all alone and asks all the soft toys to cuddle up with him in bed again, Julia said "cold," and both Julia and Emma hugged their knees like the little boy in the book. They love to get ahead of things and I'm learning that I'm often too "slow" for them. Get to the end, already! Ha ha. They often page to the last section of their books while I'm still reading, and then says, "Klaar!" which means, "All done!"



Penguin shakes his head "no" in Eric Carle's book, "From Head to Toe." Today, Ada saw a pic of a goose, and started to do all the stuff associated with the penguin in the book (shaking her head, "no" and saying, "no no no.") When I explained that this picture was in fact a goose and not a penguin, I added that a goose "honks." She must've heard it as "oinks" because then she started snorting like a pig each time she saw the goose! So there you have it: a penguin masquerading as a goose in pig's clothing.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Cerebral Palsy can kiss my behind

I'm so far behind and have too many posts floating in my head to ever catch up. In an effort to journal their progress by date, I'm going to go all incoherent on you without any bridges. Please bear with me.

This post is from 4/9/11:

We've started to give them old magazines to page through and oh my, are they loving it! A fair number of them simply get torn and wrinkled, but it has bought me 10 minutes of sanity at a time. They love looking at the babies in Parenting magazine, and the animals in National Geographic.

They point to any human female, and Disney Princesses, and say, "Mamma!" and all the males are "Pappa." They once pointed to a chimp and said, "Pappa" and I about died laughing at the contrast of the Disney Princess that is their mama and the chimp that is their papa. Don't worry, I know I'll be cut down to size soon.

Now, Parenting magazine also has an ad for K.Y. J.elly. Ahem. And they point to the two adults in the picture and innocently say, "Mamma!" and "Pappa!" which leads to funny quick-thinking responses on my part, and flash forwards on how we're going to deal with all THOSE questions in the coming years. "Answer only what's asked" is the advice I've always heard, but man oh man. Did I laugh when I saw Julia Sweeney's presentation at TED.

I know I said there aren't any bridges, but I thought this was a good segway, given the above topic. They all know "bum" or rather the Afrikaans, which is "boude." It's the cutest thing to watch a toddler hold their booty with both hands when you go through the body parts and ask them where their buttocks is.

When I say "doek" (diaper) they bend down and pull on their diapers, so they're starting to make that connection now.

They're also saying, "pee pee" when they go. It's adorable to watch them gain awareness of their bodily functions. It's always said like a proud declaration. LOL.


Julia, Emma and Ada all say "choo choo" when I show them a pick of a train or when I use the word, "train."

One longsleeved t-shirt that I have has the letter "T" on it. They point to it now and say, "T!" They also know, "O" because we call Cheerios "Ohs" in our house. I'm not teaching them the alphabet yet, but these two letters just naturally stuck. We drove by a bulletin board with a big "O" on it, and Julia said, "Oh! Oh! Oh!" I couldn't believe it.

She was barely 17 months old (15 adjusted) at the time and I think it's a pretty big leap to make from a Cheerio to a swirly "O" in a typeface on a billboard ad, but there you have it. Cerebral Palsy can kiss my a$$. These kids definitely have unimpaired cognitive function, for which I'm eternally grateful. They have lots of other gross motor struggles, but hopefully their intellect will compensate.

Emma said "padda" and when I asked her where the 'frog' was in the toy box, she went straight to it and grabbed it from the pile of soft toys.

They know the frog, "jumps." Thank you, "Jump, Frog, Jump" book. It was one of the first words I knew they understood, because when they were in their exersaucers and jolly jumpers around 6-9 months, I used to say the word all the time and suddenly all three would start jumping and laughing. Now they sometimes try to jump and actually manage to become airborne on occasion. Jumping requires quite a bit of motor planning and coordination, so I'm delighted that they're starting to figure it out.

We went to a gymnastics place for unstructured playtime with their PT, and toward the end of the session, all 3 had figured out how to truly jump on the trampoline. Amazing to watch their little faces light up when they nailed it!

The other day, I sneezed in the kitchen. Julia heard it all the way over in the nursery and started fake-sneezing. When I opened the nursery door, she belly laughed, giggled, and kept fake-sneezing to entertain me. "a-choo!" and then "a-cheet" and "a-shee". So funny.

Ada has a very strong sense of order that I've written about before. One of the Parenting magazines had tear-off cards with the alphabet printed on them. Ada put them all into a box, one by one. She managed to gather them from all over the playroom and get them all into a box, except for one that her sister was holding onto. She tried several times to swipe it from Julia to put it in the box with the rest of the cards, to no avail. This ended with Ada in tears of frustration, and me cajoling Julia to place it in the box to appease Ada.

We bought a couple of Cozy Coupes for them on April 3. After only two days of practice, they were climbing in and out more successfully. They still get stuck sometimes, or turn themselves around and want to slide out from underneath the car (so not working), but I'm sure they'll get it in short order. All three now say "car" and "brrm" and know how to honk the horn and turn the wheel. It's too freaking cute to watch them. They can go backwards self-propelled, but not forward.

Emma just loves to point out horses in all of the animal books. She can say, "neigh" and it's her favorite thing in the whole wide world to ride the rocking horse. It seems to be very soothing to her. She ROCKS that horse, if you know what I mean. When I ask her, "Hey, Emma, where are you headed?" she says, "Tatta" which means to go "bye bye." She makes lots of tongue clicking sounds to mimic the sound of hooves on the ground, and gives me beaming smiles while she's riding.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

March 29th update

It was awfully quiet in their room the other day. I peeked in to see Ada carefully and meticulously tearing a book one strip at a time with her left hand, and gathering the paper strips one by one in her right hand.

Her sisters were both watching quietly, with little elbows sticking over the cribs and resting their heads on their hands. Mesmerized. It was a board book, but Ada managed to rip the paper off the cardboard. Of course, she got a stern lecture on how we treat books, but there was a part of me that had to smile at the picture of our "firstborn" being the little instigator. When they were in utero, we often wondered about their birth order, and whether we'd have one who would designate themselves the leader of the group.

Ada has quite the knack for putting things together that go together. In a playroom strewn with toys, she'll pick out the big spoons and toy eggs, or 3 cars, or 3 balls, or she'll run off with 3 little balls of socks all rolled up while I'm trying to dress them. She gathers things that go together, and will then "display" them (place them in a row or other order that is pleasing to her.) She often picks things out, and then places them in a row along the edge of the sofa.

All three have started to say, "duck" in response to the "Brown Bear" book by Eric Carle. The book is so wonderful and innately repetitive as it runs through a series of animals that see one another. "I see a yellow duck looking at me! Yellow duck, yellow duck, who do you see?"

Julia and Emma are saying "cool" and "wow." "Wow" is always whispered and sounds like "Whoa!," because that's what I did the first time I pointed out the reflections of the crystals hanging from the window near their feeding table. Now every time they see the sunlight hitting the crystals and the rainbow reflections on the wall, there are lots of "Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!" sounds and fingers pointing.

The girls all now know where their chins, cheeks, back, and arms are.

I can't believe the pace at which they're picking up new words and concepts. It really blows my mind.

Emma said her name for the very first time on 3/29. That same day, Emma pointed to the moon in the "Million Chameleons" book. I was amazed, because it's a white full moon. All of the other moons I've pointed out to her have been yellow half moons. It's actually a rather unrealistic image of the moon in the "Million Chameleons" book, yet she pointed, recognized it, and said "maan". This was the first time she said the word for moon and pointed to a moon picture in a book.

She knows wolves howl at the moon, and when I ask her where the real moon is, she points to the sky outside. One of the first things she ever pointed to, was the moon - both the real one and the moon in pictures. It was also one of the first questions she was able to answer by pointing many months ago.

Wow, do they love animal crackers. It's like baby crack. Seriously. They don't get anything with corn syrup in it, but I caved on this, because what's childhood without animal crackers? The first time I gave them each one, it happened to be 3 horses. I clicked my tongue like a galloping horse. Now whenever I'm in the vicinity of the kitchen cupboard where these cookies live, they make the same sounds, they point, and whine to show me what they want! Sometimes I pretend to not understand just to get them to really communicate. LOL. I have to find my entertainment somehow.

Julia holds onto her 2 cookies and plays with them long after her sisters have finished eating. She'll eventually eat them, but it's much more fun to play with them, apparently. Until she can't stand it anymore, and promptly chomps on them!

Julia is imitating *everything* now and she has many more sounds and words than her sisters. Once Julia starts saying a particular word, it's just a matter of time before Emma picks it up too. The two of them are really in sync, and I think it's helping the other two to hear their sister say things out loud. It definitely seems to motivate them too, when I praise Julia, or respond to something she says. Ada has many more sounds and words too, but she seems to find other concepts interesting.

Like all kids their age, they repeat the last syllable. For kangaroo, Julia says "roo" for "zebra," Julia says, "bra."

During her sister's Early Intervention IFSP review, Julia got hold of a pen and we gave her a piece of paper on which to draw. A week later, at her EI IFSP review, Julia remembered. She came right up to me and started whining to be picked up so she could draw.

The ate yogurt with their spoons for the first time on 3/29. Boy, was that messy! But they did great. I was actually amazed at how well they did, and how little ended up on their clothes. There were obviously a lot of drips, but their bibs and the table caught almost all of it. We use a homemade triplet feeding table that's a breeze to clean.

They are all so crazy cute and sweet right now. They offer me their food and say, "yum!" (Guess what I've been saying as I'm trying to convince them to eat!)

Every night, we give them a few minutes to run around in their onesies before we dress them in their PJs. For Ada, this has turned into a game of chase down. I stomp my feet like an elephant, and say, "I'm going to catch you... I'm goint to catch you..." When I pretend to chase after her to catch her, she lets out these huge bubbly exhuberant giggles as she "disappears" around the corner. And then I pounce, and she laughs so hard and pretend kicks with her legs to struggle free from my grip. She just loves this game.

She has had a super fast progression from pulling up to walking on Feb. 23, to where she is now. I'm incredibly proud of her for catching up to her sisters with gross motor development. She's ahead with motor planning.

It's so cute that she's starting to want to run too. She sees her sisters doing it, so that's definitely motivating her. She also chases our dog around, giggling all the way. And the dog plays along.

I play the catch game with her sisters too, and they humor me, but it's not nearly as entertaining to them. They just love to run away!

All 3 do come to me and hold out their arms to help dress when it's time. I'm completely amazed that they're starting to listen to my requests and act on them. Their ability to follow instructions seems to be increasing every day. They sit down before reading and drinking from their sippy cups, they come when I call (not always, but they know what I'm asking),and they bring particular items when I ask them to (ball, socks, shoes, etc.)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

17 Months - Language of love

Julia's speech has just exploded! Yesterday, she pointed to her nose and said, "deus", then pointed to her neck and said, "nnne," for "neck" then pointed to her tummy and said, "maaa" for "maag" and followed shortly after by "b" for bellybutton. She's also saying "oe-huh" for eyes, and "ears" sound kind of the same. Lots of ending consonants absent, but she's actually saying several things that are now recognizable to us. So exciting!

I read a word book to her and Emma, and both of them said,
"Boom" for tree
"Huy" for "huis" (house)
"Cah" for car
"Pop" for doll

Today was the first time I heard Julia ask for her dad. We went for a long walk in the stroller and she said, "Daddy?" (he was at work)

Emma also attempted to say "blom."

We took an hourlong drive to a neighboring city, and I sat next to Emma, who suddenly started talking non-stop. Such an adorable little chatterbox - she seems to have just found her voice.

It was the funniest stream of consciousness. She strung together all of the words she knew into one adamant sentence. "mamma daddy teddy doedoe car ball" and so on.

March 27 update
Ada's words have really picked up the last few days. She's now saying "blou" (blue) more often, and walks around pointing at her nose and saying "neus." She looked at herself in the mirror, and squished her nose with one hand, said "neus" and then pointed at herself in the mirror with the other hand. She cracked herself up. It looked like she was mocking herself.

She also says, "no," and "nee" and "teddy." Ada has basically started saying all of the words her sisters have been saying for a week or two, which is amazing, considering that she has been very focused on learning to walk. She says "pie" for "piesang" (banana), and "boh" for "bottle" and "b" for "bellybutton."

She understands and points to her head, hair, eyes, nose, ears, shoulders, tummy, feet/toes, hands, fingers, and mouth. In addition to these, Emma and Julia also know "neck" and "back." They're all starting to understand "tongue," and we're working on cheecks and teeth now.

Our nanny, an OT student, remarked last week that her motor planning is remarkable for a kid her age. Very encouraging. She's shifting her weight easily, and figuring out how to climb into and out of boxes, climb on the couch, and is consistently sliding down feet first from low raised surfaces, like an air bed.

Her balance is improving by the day, and I'm amazed at how freely she moves. She dances. Often. She twirls in circles when she hears a song she likes, or when we sing "Ring around the rosie." (yes, I know the history, but you know, I played this as a kid and I'm not scarred.)

Because of this song, they all understand and say, "down." In fact, they head toward the floor just before we get to the "all fall down" part while saying, "down."

All 3 say, "done" and "klaar," especially when they're done with meals or bottles. Yes, *gasp* they're not off bottles yet. They drink from sippy cups during the day, but to get their vitamins and probiotics in, we use the little NICU bottles. They can say, "boh" for "bottle."

They definitely know "ja" (yes) and "no/nee." They are too funny when saying "yes," it sounds more like "uh-ja-ah." They say this with a funny inflection that cracks me up.

Earlier this week, I started asking them to sit when we read, or when I hand them their sippies. For the most part, they listen and I'm blown away by that.

Julia and Emma consistently point to "ball," "car" "teddy" "maan" (moon) in books and know those objects. They recognize many more, but those are the ones that they say while pointing out the correct object. Other animals, for example, they recognize and will make the appropriate sound to imitate the animal, but they won't say the animal name yet.

They're imitating sounds much more often, and I realized that when reading the Sandra Boynton book, "Doggies" to them. It's a counting book, and each dog has a unique bark. We had a Scottie, so I imitated the "bow wow wow" of the Scotty, the "n n n n" yelp, and the "Ar roof" of the Afghan (my husband used to have an Afghan.) When I was about midway through the book (the sounds repeat), it sounded like we were running a kennel! All 3 of them were barking/howling/imitating like crazy!! I just burst out laughing at my little pack of wolves.

Unlike her sisters who say, "neigh" when asked about the sound a horse makes, Ada clicks her tongue like I always do when we play on the rocking horse. It's adorable. Whenever she sees a picture of a horse, or the horses-on-a-stick, she clicks.

All 3 now say, "book." Ada chews on books (4th eyetooth coming in), so I sometimes place books we've read out of reach on the kitchen counter. She knows they're there, and will walk over, reach, and say, "book, book, book."

Tonight, Emma said, "stop and go" (thank you, Little People schoolbus.) Emma also said, "juju" a pet name a friend gave her sister, Julia. It was the first recognizable name for one of their sisters.

Julia is now able to make the guttural "g" sound. I was floored when she said, "oog" (eye) perfectly as all 3 of the girls have been omitting the consonants at the end of words.

A dear friend took photos of them when they were 11 months old and framed it for us as a first birthday present. The pictures of their little eyes and feet hang in the hallway, and we point them out before heading to bed every night. It's part of our nighttime routine, to say goodnight to the pictures on the wall.

Last night, there was much crabbiness in our house, and so we looked at some of the other pics leading to the nursery, but skipped the eyes/feet photos and headed straight for the cribs. Julia let me have it! She was saying, "oog oog oog oog" all the way to the crib, with increasing intensity and urgency. I turned back and we went to look at their little eyes and toes on the photos, because she was just that cute. Routine matters.

I stay in the nursery another few minutes after my husband has left the room. I pick them up one by one, and sing to them. A simple lullabye. This is my selfish time with each of them. A chance for me to be still, to be thankful, to just breathe, and to just love on them without the million things that need to happen every day to keep our little show on the road.

I tell each baby I love her. Usually, I say goodnight, and blow 3 kisses as I pull the door closed behind me. The past week or so, they've been blowing kisses back. So sweet.

Two nights ago, I also told them each just how much I love them, and how impressed and proud I am of the things they do (I used different examples for each child), and how smart I think they are. After my little spiel, Ada gave me such a heartfelt kiss, and made a "mwah" sound as she giggled. It was incredibly tender.

Then I spoke to Julia, and whispered into her ear, and when I was done, she leaned in and held me tighter and gave me a kiss too. I thought it was just coincidence, but then Emma did the exact same thing. She leaned her head against me, squeezed me a little tighter with her arms, and then picked her head up and made, "mwah" as she kissed me. It's obvious to me now that they understand every word I whispered to them.

Monday, February 28, 2011


So I'm still trying to make sense of where we're at. I don't treat my kids any different post-diagnosis than I did pre-diagnosis. Yet, it feels as if something has shifted in my understanding of my life, my children, and our future.

I have more patience with their meltdowns because I know it stems from their inability to process it all. There's more understanding when things get crazy and I have one toddler banging her head, another throwing herself backwards and bumping her head before I can catch her, and a third one just flailing and crying. It doesn't help that they pick up on one another's cues which obviously makes every meltdown an epic fail in our household.

It's challenging for me to ascertain when they're just overtired like typical kids, or melting down like typical kids, versus something more going on. Post-diagnosis, they don't get away with more, but they do get more empathy while we're in the thick of it.

I also feel curiously validated. I wasn't just imagining some of their struggles. My concerns have certainly been dismissed by our pediatrician, our friends and family. In fact, our pediatrician didn't think it was necessary to send Ada for an eval with a neurologist, but because our PT insisted, I persuaded our pediatrician to give us the referral "just to rule things out."

After we received the first diagnosis, our ped didn't call or follow up. After the 2nd and 3rd diagnosis, again, nothing. Needless to say, I have changed pediatricians.

What was just a vague but persistent idea of slight atypicalness now has a name. There were things that I noticed, and wondered about, that I now know are related to paraparesis and hemiparesis.

The head lag they had as babies. The lack of protective reflex when they fall backward. The side preferences that Julia and Emma display. Little feet turning inward when walking. Standing on tiptoes. Ada's little legs caving in under her like jelly. She doesn't lose her balance like a tree being felled, she just kind of implodes like a building being detonated. It breaks my heart for a nanosecond, until I see her pushing herself back up and marching on. Determined.

My kids get tired easily. They sleep more during the day than other kids their age, always have. It's certainly a preemie thing, but it's also a Cerebral Palsy thing. Sometimes they flail more. They bang their heads when they're frustrated. They wipe out more than other kids learning to walk.

All of this adds a little more stress, and a little more self-doubt. I am already outnumbered, but there's nothing that makes you feel like an awful parent more than your kid getting hurt. My inability to protect them from themselves is what I struggle with most.

I am usually a step ahead when it looks like they're headed towards trouble. You know, walking towards a toy that they can trip over, or headed towards a ride-on toy that can slide away from them as they try to climb on, or sticking out a hand to pull hair/poke their sister in the eye/grab their sister's nose. That kind of thing. However, the suddenness of some of their frustrations and exhaustions escalating to a head-bang on a wooden floor, or a fall backwards on a hardwoord floor... that's the stuff that scares me. Because I often can't predict it, or hold all 3 simultaneously.

It's also weird in a sense, because they are so mildly affected that most people wouldn't even know they have this diagnosis. That's both good and bad. Good, because they most likely won't be treated any differently, and will be able to live independent lives. Bad, because they may need a little help and may not get it, because people won't realize they might be physically incapable of doing something other kids take for granted.

They may struggle with scissors and writing when they're older, or have trouble playing the piano. They may trip and fall more often than other kids. Their fine motor skills may be delayed. Or not. We just don't know.

All in all, I'm finding my way back to optimism, with sprinklings of gratitude and a dash of "I can handle this" mixed in with the worst-case uncertainty. I'm still working on letting go of the guilt. Check back in about 20 years on that one.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Speech at 16 months

Animal sounds and actions they know:

Owl - hoo hoo

Gorilla - thump chest

Sheep - baah and meh (sheep are bilingual in our household - LOL!)

Cow - mooh

Wolf - ahoooo! ahoooo!

Pig - snorts (can't say "oink" yet.) They crinkle their noses and snort - it's hysterical.

Monkey - uhuhuh, makes ASL sign for monkey

Chicken - puhk puhk puhk/flaps arms like chicken wings

Giraffe - nods yes with "long" neck

Penguin - shakes head "no" (thank you, Eric Carle book)

Buffalo - raises shoulders

Crocodile - wriggles hips, they try to say "crocodile" and it sounds
like "kohkohdai" hilarious

Dog - woof

Fish - opens and closes mouth (no sound)

Snake - ssss (they saw real snakes at a zoo recently)

Turtle - Puts finger in front of mouth for quiet and in one of their
books, the turtle is quiet

Seal - claps hands without bending arms at elbow

Elephant - stomps

Donkey - hee haw, kicks

Horse - neigh

I was busy asking Julia some of the above. I stopped before I had asked them all, and she suddently started saying and showing me the ones I had omitted! I forgot the wolf, and she said, "ahoo" and pointed to the moon, and then thumped her chest to tell me I also forgot to ask about the gorilla. Man, they're already checking up on me. This amazed me, because it was the fist time that Julia indicated to me that she was memorizing what I have and haven't asked.

This morning, Julia walked around with a little wolf soft toy, and kept saying, "ahoo, ahoo, ahoo" with pouty lips and looking up at the moon, and in an unnaturally high-pitched voice. Her wolf howls are beyond freaking adorable.

There are also other funny things they do:

If I say "Stop!" Julia and Emma will put their hands up showing "stop."

They can say, "Go" thanks to the "Go, Dogs, Go" book. It's a favorite. They also wave down imaginary traffic when we get to the green traffic light in the book, "Go, dogs, go, it's green ahead."

When we say, "Hallo, Possums!" they wave like the British comedic character, Dame Edna. We have their dad to thank for this one. Oi!!

We call "Cheerios" "O's" - and they can all sign "o" using one hand. I've been doing this for ages, but they only recently started signing this one back to us. Now they sign and say, "Ohs" simultaneously.

When we say, "Oh my goodness!" they all grab hold of their heads.

They recognize the following words and can point to these body parts, but are not attempting to say the words yet. "Nose" is about the only one they can say.

Tummy (they respond to this correctly when asked in both Afrikaans and English.)

Words they say clearly and often:
Beer (Bear)
Doedoe (to sleep)
Ouma (grandma)
Oupa (grandpa)
Blou (blue)
Geel (yellow)
Sneeu (snow - sounds like "deeu" when they say it)
Skoen (shoe - sounds like "doen" when they pronounce it)
Da (Radar, our dog)
Ball and bal
Doek/doekie (Julia only)
Ai (like oy vey)
Done/Klaar. In Afrikaans, it sounds like "kaa"

Ada also says "num" for yummy food (and will say "num" when she picks up the Yummy/Yucky book)
Daarsy (there you go)
Mamma? (always a question, as in: "Where are you?" lol)
Pappa? (always a question)

Ada makes sounds when she reads books, like she's reading to all of us. She's starting to make sounds like she's telling us a long story, with cadence and rhythm. It's beyond cute when she pretends to "speak" in sentences, and looks at us, like "Are you getting all that?"

Yesterday, Ada was watching her dad throw tennis balls for the dog. She made her first almost-sentence that I could comprehend, "Dadda ball woof!"
It was just incredible hearing her put those three concepts together logically.

Emma can find and point to the "ball" in the "Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear Touch the Ground" book. Anything round, is a "ball" in her world. She walks around all day long, alternating between "ball" and "woof" with "mamma" sprinkled in every now and then for dramatic effect. Julia and Emma aren't able to point to anything in particular yet when I ask them to.

Emma kisses pictures of all animate objects in books. She leans in and smacks her lips if it's an animal, human or something resembling one of those two categories, e.g. a picture of a doll. If you have eyes, you're going to be kissed! She isn't very discriminate, but doesn't kiss inanimate objects like photos of balls or pictures of cars.

Julia and Ada have started copying Emma, so now we have to stop mid-read to kiss all the animals. It's way too cute to handle.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ada is walking!

Ada has figured out how to walk. She started taking steps on Feb. 10, and as of this week, she is taking about 7-10 steps at a time before plopping down. On the same day we received Julia and Emma's diagnosis, Ada took 15 steps on her own, and it was the most I've ever seen her do. It was incredible to watch and just the glimmer of hope I needed after all the recent bad news.

At one point, my dad said, "Look behind you - look who's coming your way!" and there was Ada walking over to me all by herself. With wide open, outstretched arms, I saw her last few steps before she fell into my arms, and then I realized she had walked about 4 yards total.

After that, she repeated her stunt a few times. She can't seem to get enough of this walking thing! She is one very determined child. Ada seems to be cruising more than her sisters did when they started walking. She walks along walls, holds onto furniture, and in general just wants to be upright more than she wants to crawl.

She's fast as lightning now with crawling, which has also been surprising given how many months she avoided crawling altogether. This child has surprised me at every turn. I just love seeing her progress on her own timeline, and I love her zest. She is so very different from her sisters. They tend to move in a little pack, but she often chooses to do her own thing. She flips toys over, takes them apart, investigates things, finds buttons and switches, points things out others are oblivious to, and wants to page through books herself rather than listen to me read. She is very social, makes great eye contact, smiles for the camera, and is a very bubbly and outgoing child in general, but she can also totally tune out the world and lose herself in something that interests her.

It happens more and more frequently now that Ada will be "reading" her own book, but answer whatever question I ask of Julia and Emma while we're reading a different book. Ada will be paging through a book about colors and shapes, for example, and stopping at specific pages to look rather intently at a particularly pleasing shape. Without looking up, she'll then say, "hoo hoo" in response to me asking Julia and Emma about the sound an owl makes. Ada is just seems so bored - she has to multitask! ha ha.

Physically, she seems to be getting stronger and sturdier by the day. Today she managed to bend down and pick something up before continuing her walk. She is pushing up from a quad position to standing, without holding onto other objects. Rather remarkable progress given her diagnosis.

Her legs are still pretty wobbly, but she is managing to regain her balance more often rather than falling down, which is incredibly encouraging. Given her progression until now, I wasn't expecting her to start wanting to walk for many months, but she has blown me away by walking at 15 months.

Ada has been having the toughest time with her eyeteeth coming in. Julia and Emma cut theirs ages ago, but Ada is getting them one at a time and it's been excruciatingly slow and painful. In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, I was up with all 3 kids. Julia and Emma are battling a tummy bug, but they eventually settled down again. Ada, however, would have none of it. So I pulled out duvets and pillows, and laid down beside her on the playroom foam floor.

We played like that for about 90 minutes, then she started settling down when she saw I was starting to doze off. Next thing I know, she leans over and gently gives me a kiss! Complete with smacking lips. Mwah! Totally unprompted. It was the sweetest moment ever. I still get all warm and fuzzy just thinking about how adorable that was.

She then allowed me to snuggle her, and we slept like that until daybreak. In triplet land, these precious one-on-one moments are extraordinarily hard to come by. I cherish them - even when they come at the cost of sleep.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

One for all and all for one

Julia and Emma received a similar diagnosis to Ada's. All 3 of my children have mild cerebral palsy.

Those are heartbreaking, excruciating words to have to write, but I guess I have to start facing reality and this is as good a place as any to start. Today I'm grieving the life we thought we'd have, but tomorrow I'll get up and fight again.

Thank you all for letting me know you're out there, that you understand, and that you care.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A diagnosis nobody wants to hear

I've been holding out on sharing this, because I didn't even know where to begin.

Ada was diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy in the fall. Shockingly, she must have had a PVL (brain bleed) the neonatologists were not aware of. Yet, her cognitive function is thankfully unaffected. She is one smart little kid. Receiving this diagnosis was the hardest day of my life. And I don't say that lightly, given the many crappy days I've had the past few years with IF, Endo, HELLP, a hematoma, shingles, mastitis, etc.

It sucked the life out of me, and in many ways, I am still coming to terms with it, and will probably be processing what this truly means forever. Initially, I just sobbed for days, but had to pull my shit together to function at home and at work. I often cried on my way home from work, because it was the only time I had to myself, the only time I had to think. Probably just was well, or I would've been a train wreck, had I allowed myself to spiral into more self pity and more guilt.

Because in many ways, this is my fault. There is a higher risk of CP among triplets. Who knows what went wrong during my pregnancy, her birth, or her time in the NICU. But if we hadn't had to resort to ART, she wasn't a triplet, and I had carried her longer, this most likely would not have happened.

It took me many months to tell my closest friends. I didn't know what to say, or how they would react. I didn't want anyone treating her differently, pitying her, or worse, limiting her with what they thought she could or couldn't do.

I was already feeling utterly defeated, overwhelmed and inadequate to raise triplets, let alone a child with additional needs. I was barely coping with their PT and speech therapy, the eval appointments, and all the scheduling, that both the practical aspects and the emotional toll was just too much to comprehend.

I think anyone with multiples, and anyone with a special needs child can relate to the level of overwhelmedness one feels every day. That's a sort of crazy baseline we just all get used to and learn to deal with. It just never lets up, despite the infinite happy moments, and much fulfillment. It is a struggle to keep feeling like you're being a good parent despite the utter exhaustion and demands on your sanity. But the combination of Ada's diagnosis and having 3 teething toddlers who are still not sleeping through the night, pushed me beyond what I thought I could handle.

Yet, I am continuing to fight for her. To get her the services she needs. To work with her on each and every one of her therapy goals. And as I've had time to process the news, and as she is making strides, the diagnosis has become less painful to face.

But it is not over. Tomorrow, we head to the neurologist with Julia and Emma. Tonight, I am praying that they will be spared similar diagnoses. If you're reading this, please let me know you're out there.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Adoption and ART Grants

For my friends who need help with funds for adoption or ART, please look here:

Parenthood for Me: Grants

Parenthood for Me is now accepting applications for their 2011 grant cycle. Visit their website and read the FAQ for all the requirements. Deadline for submissions is May 1, 2011.

My RE "liked" them on FB; that's how I heard about them.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Communication and other progress

Ada has started taking steps this week. Just 2 or 3 steps at a time, but steps nonetheless. It is the most beautiful movement to see.

She is moving more freely by the day and now crawls the normal way. She is lightning fast and coordinated on all fours now, not at all like when she started to crawl. She still scoots on her behind every now and then.

She was the first to climb onto our Copenhagen chairs, and Julia and Emma soon followed suit.

Interestingly, I have also noted other changes in Ada that seems to have coincided with her motor skills improving. She has become much more affectionate and attached to me and her dad the past few weeks. Whenever I'm away from her, she calls me with the most adorable upward inflection in her voice. "Mamma?" Like she's asking where I am, not really calling me to come. I must confess, sometimes I don't answer her right away, because it's sooo cute to hear her call for me. When I respond with an answer, she'll continue playing if her dad or someone else is with her.

She now sticks her arms straight up (90 degrees) and asks to be picked up and hugged or snuggled. If she wants attention, she'll lay her head down on my lap or lean into me. It's so sweet, because she's been very aloof and independent all these months. She reminds me of a very intelligent cat who has the world all figured out. You know the kind I'm talking about, the kind who is off in their own world and does things on their terms. Ada will snuggle when *she* wants to, but I can't make her. She won't have it when I offer it (but I keep hugging her anyway), so it's delightful when she asks for attention.

Every night, we read before bedtime. We easily go through 10 or more books, and their attention span is improving rapidly. It's mind blowing to watch them linger near while I read.

Emma now picks up a specific book from the pile every night and will hand it to me. I love that she's picking out books she wants to hear. It feels like such a huge accomplishment after all these months that I've been reading to myself!

Two nights ago, we were just playing (no books or animals in sight), when Emma - out of nowhere - started making like a gorilla (chest thumping and sound). She smiled at me with a "Get it, mamma? Get it?" kind of look on her face. And then it clicked for me! She wanted to hear the "From Head to Toe" book by Eric Carle!! It's her and Julia's favorite and it has a gorilla on the cover. You should've seen her face when I took the book from the bookshelf and brought it over to her. It was a definite "Yes! My mom understood!" She simply beamed. I'm constantly amazed by how my children find ways to communicate with me.

The incredible thing about triplets is that they're always listening. Even when you're playing with one child, two others are absorbing what you're saying or showing that one child. I'm finding this more and more as they're now able to start vocalizing and repeating words and sounds back to me.

I'll be asking Julia what sound the cow makes, and Ada will start mooooh!ing from the hallway where she's playing with her dad. It's pretty funny and cool.

They all know the sound for dog, cow, horse, owl, and sheep. Ada is the only one who tries to say "quack" when I show her a duck. It sounds more like "ka ka ka" but she's trying.

They also try to say, "good boy" for the dog and it comes out, "gubu", and Emma says "woof" whenever the dog barks or yelps to be with us.

Julia started running tonight. It's like she can't contain all that energy and simply has to sprint. She hasn't fallen (yet!) while doing running, but it looks like she'll speed up and not know how to bring herself to a halt again.

They also get ahead of themselves often. Tonight, Emma was making like a monkey while I was still on the previous animal. I couldn't figure out why she was doing that until I turned the page! Her memory is obviously better than mine. Julia does the same thing. I'll be singing "Itsy bitsy spider" and will be on the "down came the rain" part when she'll be "wash(ing) the spider out" already. I guess even one-year olds have figured out that parents are way slow.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

15 Months: Lots of Fun Antics

Ada is currently cutting all 4 eyeteeth. She has her molars in, but had little gaps where the eyeteeth should be. In addition to the front teeth, Julia and Emma have their top and bottom molars, and eyeteeth. Their teething pattern matched tooth for tooth... yet another cue that they may share more DNA.

We have had precious little sleep in this household since they were born. The first 5 months was just a nightmare sleep wise because of the sheer time it took to care for preemie triplets with severe reflux. Then they started teething at 4 months and haven't stopped since.

Just as we get the sleep and eat routine settled again, they get the next round of teeth. At least we now have 3 mouths full of pearly whites to show for it.

Ada has been so miserable in the night - even Ty.lenol or Mo.trin didn't do much to help ease her pain. So we've just been taking turns being up with her, mostly between midnight and 5am. On alternating nights, she'd be too exhausted and would sleep for a few more hours at a time, before waking again. It's been rough, because I honestly thought we'd all be sleeping through the night at this point.

On the positive side:

Emma picked up the "From Head to Toe" book by Eric Carle and brought it to me with a very clear gesture for me to read it to her. What a great moment!

She and Julia now stand in front of me whenever I read to them, paying close attention. With this book in particular, they do the movements when they see the picture. For example, they thump their chests - with fists - when they see the pic of the gorilla, they raise their shoulders for the buffalo, they imitate a monkey (wave arms) and make the sound, clap hands for the seal, and dance for the crocodile (wiggle hips). The above they'll do just by looking at the picture (without any cue from me). They don't "get" the penguin, donkey, and camel, but imitated the giraffe tonight for the first time. I get so excited when I see that they understand.

We were at the pediatrician for flu shots and Julia and Emma saw the orangutan decals on the wall, pointed to it, made the baby sign for monkey, and the sound. Ada pointed at it too, and although she makes other sounds and says other words, she's never been into the animal sounds or movements. She's definitely more analytical and independent. She will typically be off somewhere exploring and doing her own thing when I read books. Sometimes I can get her to sit on my lap and read with me, but she loses interest and almost always crawls off somewhere to go do her own thing.

Julia and Emma on the other hand, don't miss a beat. They surprised me when I read the "5 little monkeys jumping on a bed" book to them. The previous night, I wagged my finger and made a stern face when the "doctor" says, "no more monkeys jumping on the bed." Then the next night, when I reached that part in the book, both had little index fingers out, wagging, and made serious faces! Too freaking cute.

Julia pointed to a drawing of a zebra on a coffee cup today, and made the sound for horse.

When they see our dog, all 3 will go, "Woof!" They just LOVE being around him now. Julia and Emma are much gentler with the dog and will mostly just pet him or lean against him. Ada will touch him softly for awhile, and then suddenly grab him. His ears and tail are irresistible. We only allow them near the dog in short spurts, and while holding onto them, so we can whisk them away if needed. The dog is a very gentle, docile hound/retriever mix and I'm more concerned that they would hurt him than I am about him snapping at them. Although, I always want to be careful...

Ada is doing more and more pretend play. She'll "feed" the soft toys with the huge plastic "egg race" toy spoons and say, "num num." Julia and Emma are catching on too, and find it extremely funny when we pretend eat and feed.

All 3 are now "brushing" my teeth with their finger when I brush their teeth. Julia and Emma started doing that a few days ago. Ada did it tonight and absolutely cracked up. She was giggling and then belly laughing. It's hilarious what they find funny.

On that note: I put them down for a nap earlier this week, and just as I'm heading out of the door, Ada sneezed. So I said, "Bless you!" and then pretended to sneeze myself. 3 girls giggled. So I made another exaggerated pretend sneeze. Bigger laughs. And another. Even bigger laughs. And another. Belly laughs. I kept going for about 10 minutes and ended up calling grandpa and grandma into the nursery to watch, because it was just so.darn.funny.

As of this week, all three girls are saying, "ball." Ada has been dropping, rolling, and throwing balls for a long time, but Julia and Emma have only started doing that the past few weeks.

Ada said "kaboom" today when she dropped something.

Julia says, "doekie doekie" for diaper. She tends to repeat words two or three times.

When Emma walks around with a walking toy, she'll say, "Brrrm brrrm."

Emma is much more attached to things that bring her comfort than her sisters. She would walk around with her blanket all day long like Linus if I let her. Because the blanket stays in her crib, she finds substitutes. Sometimes, it's a burp cloth, or grandma's scarf, and today it was her own sweater. She unzipped it herself, took it off, draped it around her neck, and proceeded to parade around like that for the better part of the afternoon and evening. She'll drape something around her, and then walk to the mirror to go look at herself! Such a little princess.

Ada coughed this morning while eating, and I think she might have refluxed slightly. She slapped her own chest while looking at me with an expression that said, "I've got this down, Mom." She must have seen me do that when something goes down the wrong pipe. It cracks me up when she mimicks something we haven't expressly "taught" her.