Monday, December 2, 2013

Toddlers, a Crazy Dog and a New Kitchen

It’s been way too long since I've blogged – but I have some pretty good excuses. Three toddlers who just turned two – and as a lot of you know– this age is challenging to say the least. I also have an off-the-wall nine-month old French Mastiff – and if you don’t know what that means – think of a toddler that weighs almost 100 pounds! Oh, and he likes to nip at me because apparently he thinks it’s funny. His favorite spot is my butt (I’m not kidding!)

And… I decided this would be the best time to undertake my dream kitchen. Not a big deal except my house is a dust bowl and I may have taken on a BIT too much.

I’m not complaining (OK, maybe I am a little bit). But mostly, I’m over the moon about my new kitchen and my nippy dog and my three ridiculously cute, loving and sweet toddlers… But yikes… life can be overwhelming sometimes.

I never really imagined or realized toddlers could be so energy-sucking and (soul-sucking). Yes, I love every bit of them. But wow… they’re a handful. And why is it that they NEVER want to listen these days!!?? We started two-minute “time-outs” on the red couch in their playroom. They work sometimes and sometimes not. Let’s be honest. My kids, who are so cute, know it, and know how to use it. They flash a smile, blow a kiss, and think they can get away with anything – especially my little guy Attie. He's such a little monster when he wants to be!

My dad once stood across from me at our dinner table as we were struggling to have kids and said:

“I know it’s heartbreaking you can’t have kids right now, but what’s even more heartbreaking is having them. They will bring you to your highest highs and your lowest lows. Save yourself some sleep and some premature wrinkles and don’t have them… Or have them like me and your mother and know no greater joy.”

Those words aren't the exact ones my father, Gus, Spoke to me so many years ago – but close to it. They resonate with me now – just as they did back then.

Life is absolutely overwhelming, but at the same time, it can be so beautiful.

And now that I’m a parent, just like Gus said, I know no greater joy.

PS... updated pictures of the kids and the kitchen coming soon.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Then and Now... One Year After Passing Embassy

It blows my mind that one year ago today -- we officially... officially (in the eyes of the U.S. Government) became a family. Even though, I know Ken and I felt like a family long before that day. 

It happened the instant we laid eyes on our kiddos and got to hold them for the first time. It's amazing how much they have grown -- really all of us -- have grown since our two trips to Ethiopia.... which inspired me to a little stroll down memory lane.

That's right... check us out... then and now.

Our first sleepover at Horizon House (with AuntieWendy) after passing Embassy.

Our group photo with the wonderful staff at HH after the coffee ceremony.
An emotional farewell during our last few moments at HH. 

The long plane ride home.

And now... here's the trio one year later!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Summer Trips and the Beginning of Tantrums

Where did the summer go? For us, it went by in a blur of two family beach vacations, road trips and one quick jaunt to London and Paris for some old-fashioned adult time.

Speaking of that trip, I am in full detox mode after binging on gastropub food, French baguettes, cheese, cheese and more cheese, and of course plenty of vino and spirits. I think I still have traces of foie gras and escargot in my system from our indulgent dinner at the famous Chez L'Ami Louis. (Thank you Marc and Bill for surprising us with that amazing trip!)

And while it was refreshing and incredibly fun to get away – I have to admit – I really missed my babies. OK, they are definitely not babies anymore. Honestly, they are huge and I could swear they grew in the 5 days while we were away. And yes, they were in the expert hands of our lovely nanny Meghan, but still, it was a long time to be away from them.

My big reward was picking them up the morning after we got home and snuggling with them in bed. Their giggles and squeals were music to my ears. But let’s be honest. That perfection lasted for about 30 minutes – and then full toddlerhood was upon me X’s 3!

Yes, the terrible twos are here. My sweet, sweet Emerson now has quite a temper. His younger brother Atticus not so much, but he loves to swipe everything and in the process land a few jabs here and there on his brother and sister. Don’t feel bad for Em or Nola Grace though. They give it right back to him in the form of tiny toy airplanes and cars crash landing on his head. And then the crocodile tears come flooding in after that.

And that was just in the first hour or so after our sweet snuggle time. Throw in the mix our 6-month-old puppy Blue, and I had quite a long first day home. Let’s just say a glass of red wine was in order after I fed all four of them dinner that night.

How is it that their personalities change overnight? “Sweet Emerson” turning into “Stubborn Emerson.” I really don’t want to be one of those moms dragging their toddler out of a store because they are in full tantrum mode. I mean, Em is not even close to that, but he’s showing signs. He’s showing his independence. We have this book, “The Happiest Toddler on the Block” that I pick up every once in a while, and in it, they have quite a section devoted to dealing with tantrums.

First off, they say tantrums are “normal but avoidable.” Tantrums “push our buttons” (yes they do!). And they say to stop a tantrum in under a minute, “connect with respect” (get down on their level), and if that doesn’t work, use “kind ignoring.”

Now, I am brand new at all of this. I have no idea if any of that will work on my kiddos. I will definitely try and see if these things will help. But, what do other moms out there think? Any tips to tame tantrums? I would love to hear them.

Honestly, I think this is just the universe (via my mom and dad) getting back at me for all of the shenanigans I pulled when I was little. I’ve been told I was quite a terror. Oh the stories my parents could tell you. But look at how good I turned out!

I guess it all works out in the end.

And in between all the tantrums and craziness, you take some much needed adult time, drink some really good wine and indulge in some delicious food. At least that’s my plan for now.

Until next time, here are some of the beautiful photos my photographer friend, Susan Baker, took at the beginning of the summer.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

35 Minutes to Spare...

I have 35 minutes to spare before I have to get my little munchkins up from their nap – although they are not so little anymore. Full–blown toddlerhood is upon us!

Running in all different directions. Going up and down the stairs. Climbing up and over EVERYTHING. Climbing out of highchairs. (Thankfully not climbing out of cribs yet!) Self-feeding, which is always a festive time in our kitchen, although the cleanup that follows is not so great. Talking, talking, talking – and more talking.

My big man Emerson is like a little parrot who repeats everything that comes out of our mouths (hence the swear diet that my husband and I desperately need to go on). Case in point, Em recently said the infamous word that rhymes with truck. To fess up, that word happens to come out of my mouth on occasion (or more) when our nearly 5-month old pup, Blue, uses my legs like a chew toy. My husband likes to joke that he must love my blood. Little vamp!

And it’s so fun to see my peanuts not only repeat words… but point at something and know exactly what they’re talking about. Phone, shoes, teeth, knees, car, elbow, puppy, toes (Em loves to pull on our toes).  We’ve also been counting a lot, doing our primary colors and of course animal noises. I love to see their little minds in motion.

My Attie talks like a machine, although most of the time it’s in his own language. I’m dying to know what’s going through his mind when he’s jabbering on because he is so intense when he says stuff. And he loves to wag his tiny little index finger while doing so. As far as moving around…watch out when he wants something.

He’s crazy quick and will plow over one of his toys (or his brother and sister) if he sees an object that catches his eye. He’s also becomes a little bit of a barnacle lately. Squeezes really hard and cries like a madman when I put him in the playroom for a minute while I run up to get the other two. Don’t get me wrong. I love the LOVE.

Smack in the middle is Nola Grace taking it all in. As I’ve said in the past, she’s so observant. My little girl doesn’t miss a thing. And like Attie, she too likes to wave her little index finger and say “No, no, no.” when the boys are doing something they aren’t supposed to do. It’s nice having a little back up from my pint-sized mama. She’s not as talkative as Em or Attie, but I think it’s because she’s a little stubborn – or maybe it’s just because she’s a girl.

They are all growing like weeds – so much so – that we got our first family photos taken a few weeks back, so we can capture these moments. Let’s be honest, before I know it – they will be going off to pre-school, kindergarten and then first grade.

Our talented friend and neighbor, Susan Baker, took the photos and I can’t wait to see them. I will share a few when I get the digital copies back.

These hot summer days have been flying by, and next week we head to the beach for a week in NH. I’ve been plotting at night about how I can get their choo-choo to fit in the Jeep so I can tote them around in it. So far, I’m not so confident I will be able to pull that off.

We’ll see though. I’m pretty persistent when I want something.

We’re staying at these little cottages overlooking the Isles of Shoals, which is an absolutely beautiful vista. And it’s not just us. We have lots of friends and family staying there that week as well. So it should be a blast. One of many summer vacations to come.

We’ll fiercely be missing one very dear person to all of us. But it’s too early and painful for me to talk about that right now. In time, I will.

Until then, we will enjoy the hazy, hot and humid days of July and relish in all things that is love and family. I hope you are having an amazing summer as well. Ciao!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Note From My Husband on Father's Day

Ahh- at the wheel at last. Greetings & Salutation, fellow Karlie Bloggers and the internet masses. Karlie has given me the reigns for one day on her blog. Please beware you have been warned for those of you who want to continue to read. I am sure she is hoping for some truly mindful insights that I might be able to espouse, but I think that bar might be a bit too high for this fat headed Canadian French guy.                    

All kidding aside as we approach our first father’s day here in Warwick.  A day that up until last year, I never thought would happen. Yeah, yeah we went through the motions of trying and other multiple paths to having a family, but internally I had crossed it off the list. The only thing I was getting good at over the last few years was masturbating in doctor closets (a story for another time) and playing PiƱata with Karlie’s poor butt with needles. Let’s all be honest here in blog land, when you keep betting on black and the big guy keeps throwing you red, sooner or later you need to move on.   As we all know, we got lucky and the next roll he gave us three in one shot.  Who says God does not have a sense of humor.

This brings us back now to the present where I have three amazing bambinos and a superstar of a wife/partner.   We sit here on the cusp of another Father’s Day. A Day of long rides back home( for some of us), Bad Barbecues, Unusual Tie gifts and always one family member trying to peddle a birthday card for Dad because CVS sold out of real Father’s day card that morning ( you know who you are) . Here we are fellow reader, on the day I become a proud participant of the Father’s day clan tradition.  How will I embrace the holiday? With closet ready for bad ties and handmade ash trays or maybe a handful of Zantac for bad father’s day meals…Hmmm. No, I have decided to make it a personal thanksgiving day. No not that type of thanksgiving with the big Macy’s day parade and enough turkey to feed ten towns. A day for me to personally call and thank all of the amazing people who have gotten me to this point in my life. Okay you knew there was going to be a little sap in this. It is my first Father's

I am extremely lucky person, with almost everything in my life. I am not saying I do not work hard to keep that luck rolling but I have had some good luck come my way.  I am also graced to come from a long stock of great dads. While some of my ilk maybe be light on words to express their feeling, their actions around what it means to be a Dad were demonstrated every day in my life. No cliff notes needed , just Dad deeds ( like working two jobs to provide income for the family or listening to hair brained ideas that other people would have locked you up about) done every day for over 40 years.  It raised the bar for me on “Dadhood”, but gave me a strong base to build on. Again I am lucky to have the AAA of Dad’s. If you look him up in the dictionary or phone book there he is first on the page, Marcel Man of the Month, Father of the year for the last 40 years.  An impressive track record for a man with a weird laugh, terrible dance moves and a beard, but trust me he does the hard work that goes into it...

This in no way takes away from my Mother who like salt and pepper made perfect bookend parents. I Again I hit the jackpot  with a woman that can shoot you guilt through her eye lids , but remembers to call you and tell you how much she loves you when it seems like the world is taking a shit on you. For that matter I stuck gold with my sisters and the rest of my clan, we all have some weirdness but in general they are all amazing people and I am fortunate to have been raised by them.  They have all showed me what it is to be a great person and a great dad. I owe them all.

How could I forget my amazing wife and owner of this blog. If there has been a person who has shaped me almost as much as my family it would be my wife. She is my rock. Plus any woman that lets you  stick needle in her, travels half way around the world listening to your stupid jokes, and does not kill you has to win some type of award.

Last I promise, thank you  is to my children. It is hard for me to write this without getting slightly emotional.  There is a true joy that I never knew existed that comes when my kids smile and laugh with me.  I am often told we saved our children by people when we are out, but I always tell them the truth they saved me.  Thank you Atticus, Nola Grace and Emerson for letting me be your dad.

Thanks and Happy Father’s day.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Reflections on the Past Seven Months of Motherhood

Being a mom is over-the-top wonderful on so many levels. The smiles, the laughing and the nose scrunching (from Nola Grace) that I get to see first thing in the morning when I open the door to their room.

The high-fives from Emerson. The big, huge – my face is covered in Velveeta cheese and I love life – smiles from Attie. The giggles from Nola Grace when I tickle her – and the snuggle-time she needs after getting up from her nap. And the way they dance to Motown during dinner is too much. They love Al Green. I mean, who doesn’t.

Oh, and there’s nothing better than seeing their little minds at work. I am blown away by how smart they are. Of course I am biased. But it makes my heart sing every time they learn a new word, point to a new object, say a new color (Yellow is Em’s favorite. For a little while he thought EVERTHING was yellow!)

It amazes me how far they have come in the seven months since we’ve been home. They all went from not being able to sit up (little wet noodles, especially Attie) --- to walking and half running around the house and yard. THEY ARE WALKING EVERYWHERE AND ARE INTO EVERYTHING. All I have to say is gates people. Gates, gates and more gates.

Yes, they have made real strides – but we haven’t done it without some help along the way. A month after we got home (they had just turned 12-months), we had them evaluated by Early Intervention, which is a state-funded program (although we all pay our fair share of NY state tax) … that helps kiddos 3 and under with a variety developmental delays.

The initial evaluation can be a little daunting. It sent my mind spinning with worry. “Why can’t they scribble with a crayon yet?” “Why doesn’t Nola know how to ‘fake’ brush her hair yet?” “Why can’t they fit that triangle in the shape-sorter?” “Why can’t they walk yet like other 1-year-olds?” … And those questions go on and on. I made it even worse by comparing my three little cherubs to kids of the same age who were born here and have been thriving in a stable home environment since they were born. DON’T DO THIS. It will drive you nuts.

And don’t feel stigmatized if your kid/kids need these services. (I know my husband did a little bit in the beginning). If you have a fantastic instructor, like we do, it’s only going to help your child get to where they need to be and beyond. It’s a good thing. Trust me. My kiddos have learned so much and so have I.

We also go to the library once a week (it’s free!) for story time and a Mommy-and-Me class, which is as good for the kids as it is for me. We moms need time to bond with other women going through the same stuff. It definitely helps you stay sane. Plus it’s so good to bounce ideas off each other. I know I could always use advice as a first-time mom. Especially a first-time mom of triplets!

Speaking of advice. Ken and I are having an ongoing debate about more traditional Pre-K schools and Montessori. Thoughts? I would love to hear some.

As much fun as it’s been to watch them make huge strides both in their ability to walk, talk and learn everyday – it’s been even more entertaining watching their personalities unfold. I’ve written about my Big Em and my sweet pea Nola Grace -- and how unique and beautiful they both are. But I still have one to go. My sassy Attie is not to be missed. There’s a lot going on there. But I’ll save that for my next blog along with the “not so always” amazing moments of motherhood, including living in a world of poop.

That’s right. Three toddlers whose diapers need to be changed all the time and one very active puppy who’s still being house broken. Needless to say... I sometimes live in what I like to call, "Crazytown."

Case in point, Attie trying to drink out of the dog bowl...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

One Year Ago Today...

It was one year ago today that we found out we were officially about to become a family.

The call came as were were walking out the door to drive to the airport. We were going to be a family of five! Scary and amazing news all at the same time. I remember Ken and I making the calls that morning, cramped in my Mini, to let everyone know that we had been matched with triplets! Yes, three babies!!! Our friends and family were overjoyed (and to be honest a little stunned!)

This is one of the first photos we ever saw of our kiddos...

And now exactly one year later -- here we are -- loving every minute of it (well, almost every minute!)

Attie sucking his thumb (ready for his nap), My sweet pea Nola Grace and Emerson (always Mr. Happy -Go-Lucky!)
As my friend Kelly recently said on her blog about getting their referral call one year ago -- Happy Referralversary!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

My first jelly and cream cheese sandwich!

Em is not too sure about the whole sandwich thing!

Clashing of the walkers.

They love their Ikea tent!

Lunch with the trio.

Love this smile!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

My sweet pea… Nola Grace.

I feel like it’s been ages since I’ve blogged – or to be more specific – since I had the time and energy to sit down in front of my computer and write down my thoughts.

Last time, I wrote about Emerson (my big guy). Now it’s time to talk about my little girl – Nola Grace.
She is something. Independent. Determined. Girly, but tough. Snuggly, but she doesn’t necessarily need to be attached to your hip 24/7 (although she is like a little barnacle after waking up).

She’s cautious. If she doesn’t know you – don’t expect her to flash you a smile or slap you high-five. You’ve gotta earn that right. She has to trust you. Once that happens, and only then, maybe she’ll show you a few of her big, brilliant teeth. (I’m not exaggerating. All three of my kiddos have the biggest baby teeth I’ve ever seen!)

As my almost 4-year-old niece likes to say, “She’s got serious eyes.”

They are a gorgeous deep, dark brown. And when she looks at you, it’s almost like she’s an old soul. I’m guessing that’s because my little peanut has already been through so much in her short life. In her first 12-months, she has already mourned the loss of her birth family, and on some level, I am sure all my kiddos still are --- and in some ways --- always will. How could they not. It’s one of the deepest human connections one could have.

Also, in her first year, she was moved from two orphanages (along with her brothers) before finally making it to our agency’s house, where they all spent four months before coming home with us. I can’t imagine what all that moving around is like for someone my age – never mind their age. I am so grateful Attie, Em and Nola Grace have had each other throughout this entire process. I look at them and can’t imagine them ever being apart.

But with all that seriousness comes a sweet, giggly and lovable peach. I absolutely love when her nose scrunches up when she laughs. It’s the best. I love when she reaches for me with her chubby little arms. I love how excited she gets when we open their bedroom door in the morning (Lots of smiling and nose scrunching) – and I love how she can hold her own with her two brothers (who are usually pouncing on her) and put them in their place. I also love her determination. If she wants something – she will find a way to get it – even if it’s way out of her reach or hidden away. She’s crafty like that.

She’s a daddy’s girl. She loves to sit on Ken’s lap while he reads to her. He makes her laugh all the time with his antics – and every time she says the word “Daddy” – I know his heart melts just a little bit. (Because of that, she will probably get away with a lot!)

That's actually The Olives Table cookbook. Hopefully she likes cooking as much as we do.

She plays so well with her brother Emerson (Sassy Attie is another story) – and when it’s time to eat – if she doesn’t like what you’re feeding her…. watch out for the “divaness.”  She has that look down pat. Oh, and did I mention she loves to drink her bottle one-handed like a drunken sailor while hanging on with the other hand from the baby gate. It's priceless.

She’s getting so tall, so smart and so strong – and is on the verge of walking on her own. God help me when they are all running around!

It’s hard to believe Nola Grace and her brothers have only been home with us for a little over four months… because in my heart, it feels like the three of them have been here all along.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

My Big Guy… Emerson.

For three little people -- who've spent every waking hour together since they were in the womb in Ethiopia -- it’s amazing to me how absolutely different each one of their personalities are.

Let’s start with my oldest (by a few minutes) … my sweet, cuddly guy – Emerson.

He loves to bat his long eyelashes (such a flirt) and give a sneaky smile, which up until a few weeks ago, was mostly pink gums. He finally has his two top teeth coming in.

He loves to eat, but he takes his time to savor it, unlike his brother and sister. He adores sweet potatoes, bananas and yogurt. A real little foodie. It’s the same story with his “ba ba.” After he’s finished with his milk, he literally cuddles with that bottle in his crib.

He doesn’t know how strong he is yet, compared to his smaller and more wiry brother Attie, who takes him down with a mere hair pull (they love to pull each other’s hair – a habit we’re trying to curb by the way!)

I thought it would be Nola Grace, but big Em has figure out how to pull himself up to stand without any assistance. He loves to stand in his crib and look out the window… and it’s the best… because he’s so proud of himself. You can tell when he flashes that big, not-so-toothy smile.

He’s more mellow than his brother and sister, although he loves to belt out an ear-piercing scream every now and again.

He’s a cuddle-bug. Not with just us, but with stuffed animals too, including his sisters little Cabbage Patch doll.

Speaking if his sister, they play so well together. They make each other giggle all the time. They play footsies in the car, and on occasion, I look back and see their little fingers intertwined.

He loves to be tickled, but hates his face being washed after he eats, and he especially hates when I try to eradicate his boogers. You would think he was being tortured.

He loves to say “EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE” (in honor of his name I am guessing) when he’s excited.

And I’m betting he’ll be the first one to walk – a real example for his younger brother and sister.

As they get older, I am also betting that he’ll be the one to play the role of “big brother” – meaning a great protector– someone who will always watch out for them.

It's so amazing to see... that even at this young age... he has such a kind and sweet soul.

He’s my big Em… and I am so very lucky to call him my son.