Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Do you know today is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year? If your children were off school for the next two days, you would be VERY aware. Trust me.

Last year I wrote this post about the holiday and today I am celebrating once again.

Let's face it, I need all the New Years I can get. Time once again to re-evaluate, see how my life is going and what I need to work on. Here are a few things I am looking forward to in the coming new year:

  • Bookclub this week. We're meeting at my house and I will be baking something delicious.
  • Haircut and color next week. My hair has not looked this hideous since eighth grade. Really...I could just wear this hair with my morning face and I would win all Halloween contests this year.
  • My upcoming "Gabtalk" interview post. The election edition. I say this every time...but I think this is one of the best inverviews ever.
  • General Conference. After a week of depressing news, I cannot wait to see something uplifting on my TV for a change. Plus, Brad will make trail mix. I plan on being stuffed, physically and spiritually.
  • Thursday. When school will start and my life will return to "normal."

Happy New Year!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Having a Blast in the Past

Em's school turned 50 years old this year (and, believe it or not, this is a relatively NEW school in our historical town)...so the back-to-school social was a Sock Hop this year.

(Ward, June and the "Beaves"...plus a farmer's child!)

The PTO completely knocked itself out. Normally, I get annoyed with committee-stuff, but this was amazing. The whole cafeteria was decorated like a drive-in....complete with a black & white movie, hamburgers, hot dogs and an ice cream stand.

The gym was transformed into a juke-box jam. The kids loved it and all the moms who grew up with "Grease" and "Happy Days" had a good time, too.

Prizes included Slinkys, paddle-balls, and sunglasses. Em almost won the hula hoop contest!

Luke-chop at the Juke Box

Who created this fabulous bulletin board? I don't know, but I think she is a genius!

The whole evening was just peachy keen!

Friday, September 26, 2008



1. delightful; wonderful; completely enjoyable
2. the fourth week of September

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Math Teacher Looks Like George Clooney

Um, excuse me? What about the pocket protector? The thick glasses? The big ring of keys?

If my 4th grade math teacher had this kind of charisma, I would have TOTALLY gotten into long division. I probably would have MAJORED in long division. Seriously.

I wish someone had told me. I would have worn lip gloss to back-to-school night....

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Our tomatoes are coming on strong this month and I have made batch after batch of salsa. This means I am eating far too many Frito-Lay products and that cilantro is coursing through my veins. Mmmm...lycopene.

I love the harvest. Peach and pear picking in the orchard. Rows of pumpkins at the farm around the corner. Just a few months ago, we were digging in the dirt. And now, the kids are picking squash and cucumbers in our little backyard patch.

It feels like harvest-time in the Mommy Garden, too. Let's face it, the first 10 years of my mothering career have been challenging on many levels. A lot of dirty work. A lot of growth, but most of it underground. I've wondered if I'd ever see the fruits of my labors.

Suddenly, my children are blooming. They can put on their own shoes, play the piano, load the dishwasher. My life is no longer dictated by naptimes or body fluids. Everyone's pleasantly positioned between Desitin and Clearasil.

With colic a distant memory and puberty--hopefully--a few miles down the road, I can sit lazily in the backyard, enjoy the temporary harvest, and gather strength for the big digs soon to come.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Seven Questions...Homeschool 101

Meet Wendy...a real-life homeschooling mom. She has chosen to educate her children at home and seems to manage the huge responsibility beautifully. I was thrilled when she agreed to answer a few questions about the homeschooling life. Read on...she's remarkable.

1. Tell us a little about your family and your background. Were you always a homeschooling mom? How did you choose this educational option for your family? What are the greatest advantages of raising your family this way?
Homeschooling was never on our radar. We have 4 kids. Maddy is 13, Jack is 10, Erik is 7, and Will is 4. The oldest 3 kids all went to public school through March 2007.

In June 2006, we moved from the Bay Area of California to Utah and found that their new school was about a year behind their old school. I was fed up with the philosophy the public schools have of teaching to the average student. I have four kids, and not one is average. They each have unique strengths and weaknesses. Their needs were not being met. My husband and I weighed our options-- charter schools or private schools, neither of which seemed right.

In the meantime, I had lunch with a friend of mine from California who had moved to Park City. She mentioned she was homeschooling her three kids. In my mind, I was rolling my eyes and thinking, 'How odd. You don't look like you homeschool. I see no denim jumper. You seem perfectly reasonable.' But it peaked my interest enough that I went home and googled "homeschool" out of curiosity and, from that point on, I was hooked. I Instant Messaged my husband to let him know I wanted to start homeschooling. After the initial shock, he was on board. We pulled the kids out of school about a month later.

While I'll be the first to admit there are both pros and cons to this peculiar way of life, so far the pros have outweighed the cons. The most obvious (and the one that can make me loony and want to pull the covers over my head) is the vast amount of time we get to spend together. But I've gotten to know and understand my kids so well this past year. I know what they know and what they don't know and how they learn.

Another considerable advantage to homeschooling is the fact that the actual learning that takes place in 7 hours at school can be done in a fraction of that time at home. That frees up so much time for other things. I love that we aren't confined to the school schedule and we can take off to a park, a museum, or even just a walk in the middle of a weekday without having to answer to anyone.

We spent two weeks last September in Virginia and Pennsylvania traipsing through the history of our founding fathers --without having to deal with missed tests or assignments or attendance records. That has been our favorite field trip yet.

I also believe that by skipping the middle school experience, the kids will preserve much of their self-esteem and, by high school, they'll have a strong sense of who they are and a solid value system for the future.

2. I think most parents are just overwhelmed by the thought of doing this alone. How did you get organized? What resources do you use? Do you follow a set curriculum?
Before starting, I devoured all the books in our county library system on home education. I joined online homeschooling forums, met my local homeschool Mom's Group, and concocted a loose plan.

We started out "de-schooling", the process of undoing the mindset of public schooling. Basically doing nothing that resembles school for a few months. So, we went to museums, read tons, watched educational shows, cooked together, traveled, etc... It helped the kids relax and enjoy time together.

Our curriculum began with unit studies. Our first was a unit study on birds which involved the anatomy of a bird, deciphering bird calls, photographing birds, dissecting bird nests, visiting the aviary, hatching chicken eggs and raising baby chicks, watercolors of birds, bird migration, creative writing, and the anatomy of flight. We also did unit studies on chocolate and Ancient Greece.

After the summer, I panicked that the kids weren't learning what they were "supposed to" so I enrolled them in an online public school. After a few months we all HATED it. So I hit the books again and came up with an eclectic mix of unit studies, workbooks, co-op classes, private lessons, CDs, computer games, board games, and field trips. It's what we're using this year. I've listed it on my blog.

3. What is a "typical" homeschooling day for you? Walk us through your daily routine.
Typical day? What's that? Just like everyone else, there's really no one typical day for us but I can tell you what the ideal day looks like:

  • 5:30 Gym time for me

  • 7:00 home and shower

  • 8:00 breakfast, chores

  • 9:00 kids start preassigned work in whatever order they want. I spend the next 2-3 hours helping where needed.

  • 12:00 Lunch

  • 1:00 History together

  • 2:00 Free time for the kids. Time for me to run errands or check emails or work on projects.

  • 3:30 Take kids to various activities (piano, guitar, volleyball, gymnastics, art, play dates)

  • 6:00 dinner

  • 7:00 family time with Dad or evening church activities

  • 8:30 bedtime for little boys

  • 9:00 bedtime for Jack

  • 9:30 Bedtime for Maddy

  • 11:00 bedtime for us

    • Fridays are spent at co-op where the kids each take 3 classes and I teach art. Of course, everyday looks different but those are the bones that make up our day.

      4. How do your kids like learning at home? Do they ever feel left out or isolated? Would you ever consider sending them to public school?
      When the idea of homeschooling first came up, you could smell panic in the air. My daughter was adamantly against it. She thought if we started homeschooling, I would have to french-braid her hair every day and my husband would start collecting wives. Jack was thrilled with the idea. He was completely bored with school. Erik was game for anything.

      It took about 2 weeks before it dawned on Maddy that sleeping in, working at her own pace, and having no homework might not be all that bad. The boys have all loved it from the beginning.

      When we moved to Idaho this past spring, I gave all the kids the option of public school or homeschool. They all chose to stay home this year. Maddy's in 8th grade and considering going to high school next year. I will always leave the option open. The kids know that I will completely support them, whatever they choose.

      People often wonder about socialization. My kids have opportunities to interact with people of all ages outside of the home. Maddy volunteers at a remedial horseback riding facility where she works with kids and adults alike. She also plays on the middle school volleyball team. The little boys take gymnastics with other kids. Jack plays Pokemon in a local league with people of all ages.

      Everyday after school the kids in the neighborhood are at our door wanting to play with my kids. Between church friends and neighborhood friends, the kids enjoy birthday parties and playdates. Feeling left out hasn't been an issue for them so far.

      5. Have you met with resistance from extended family or friends? Who is your support system.
      Most people support our decision to teach our kids at home. Some agree to disagree. And some just plain think I'm out of my mind. Some days I tend to agree with them. A few people are waiting patiently, hoping that one day I'll wake up and realize the error of my ways.

      At times when I'm tottering on the edge of insanity, I turn to my support system. I have a few fellow moms who are much more experienced and who love to dispense advice. My family is a good source of motivation. And I'm on a handful of homeschool yahoo lists-- priceless resources for advice, ideas, and encouragement.

      6. What are your top three recommendations for families who would like to educate their children at home?
      If you're considering homeschooling I would recommend that you:

    • Find out what your state's homeschool laws are here.

    • Read the Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer, Mary Pride's Complete Guide to Getting Started in Homeschooling, and Homeschooling: Take a Deep Breath- You Can Do This! by Terie Lynn Bittner

    • Join a yahoo group dedicated to homeschooling in your area and find out what your local homeschool community looks like.

      1. 7. What are the most common misconceptions about homeschool families? What would you most like people to understand about your choice?
        Oh where to start? "Homeschooled kids are pasty, socially-awkward brainiacs who eat granola and knit their own bible covers." To be fair, there are a handful of kids that fit that profile. But the majority are just plain good kids whose parents have taken on the responsibility for their education. My kids are only pasty in the middle of February before we take off to bask under the sun somewhere warm. I've never seen them eat paste. (Do they even sell paste anymore?)

        Socially, they're all over the board. I've got some that would host dinner parties every night if they could and some that would rather stay home all day and read. It's more a personality factor than anything else.

        I appreciate a little granola with yogurt for lunch every now and then. But it's not homemade. It comes straight out of the Win-Co bulk food self-serve dispenser.

        And as for knitting, that's one class I'd have to outsource. Handiwork of any kind makes me qualmish.

        My theory is that socially awkward parents begat socially awkward kids. And vice versa. Homeschooling in and of itself does not create bizarro kids.

        " Homeschoolers sit at the kitchen table all day and do worksheets". If that were the case, my kids would be making a beeline to the bus stop ASAP. Most people think that homeschooling is recreating public school at home. Who in their right mind would want to do that???

        Learning takes place everywhere all the time. If you were to visit a hundred homeschools, they would each look and function differently. The beauty of homeschool is that you can tailor life to each child and create opportunities to inspire learning without the rigidity of the public school system.

        In fact, by assuming the responsibility of educating your kids, your job becomes seeking out the best avenues that will give your kids a quality education. You may not necessarily be the teacher at all! Those avenues may come from online, community, public or private classes, mentors, books, educational T.V., travel, hands-on experimenting or an interesting mix of them all.

        Honestly, I think I'm past the point of hoping people understand our decision to live this wacky lifestyle. We chose it because we want our kids to discover and develop their passions while fostering a life-long love of learning and so that we can be the biggest influence in their lives during their childhoods.

        It's a decision that goes against the norm and one that you may find completely insane. Hey, I totally get it! I was there once too. But we're big fans and will continue homeschooling until it doesn't work for us anymore. With more and more people hopping on this bandwagon every year, and with the plight of the public school system, we probably aren't the first, and we certainly won't be the last, homeschooling family you stumble upon.

        Thanks, Wendy for this amazing look at your learning laboratory! What lucky pupils you have...

        Click here for daily glimpses into Wendy's classroom. You'll want to join right in!

        Tuesday, September 16, 2008


        The Mum's point of view...
        • Fourth-grade homework is much worse the second time around.
        • Thirty minutes on the treadmill seems like 2.5 hours, while the two-and-a-half-hour-child-free-preschool block disappears in a 30 minute blink.
        • Home-bottled pears are divine.
        • An afternoon spent laughing on a friend's leather sofa is worth a few late-night loads of laundry.
        • It's weird to get voice mail from Barack and John Mc on the same day.
        • When Daddy is out of town, it is ok to have Family Night in the car. Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth really know how to lead an inspired opening song. And Wendy's drive-thru provides delightful refreshments.
        • Two four year old boys + automatic carwash = nirvana.

        Monday, September 15, 2008





        Peachpicker's Delight

        Crush one box Vanilla Wafers...press 2/3 of the crumbs into a pie plate.
        Beat 1 stick butter, 2 eggs and 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar til fluffy and spread over crumbs.
        Top with 8 fresh-picked peaches, sliced.
        Whip 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, sweeten to taste and spread over peaches.
        Sprinkle with remaining crumbs.
        Chill several hours (if you can wait that long)!

        Sunday, September 14, 2008

        Emmie is...

        ...doing her own hair these days.

        ...her soccer coach's favorite player.

        ...good at persuasive grocery shopping.

        ...crying because she swallowed her front tooth.

        ...tortured by this guy.

        ...worshipped by these two.

        ...her mother's only hope for sanity!

        Thursday, September 11, 2008

        Garden of Reflection

        Remnants of the World Trade Center
        Because we live within commuting distance of NYC, many in our area were personally affected by the World Trade Center attacks.

        A few years ago, a memorial garden was created in our hometown by the victims' families.

        Twin fountains

        Today, I decided my children were old enough to commemorate 9/11 with a visit to the garden.

        It was peaceful, simple and beautiful.

        Last year, I wrote my own memories of that horrible day. What do you remember?

        Wednesday, September 10, 2008


        If you happen to be feeling a little jiggly in your bathing suit these days, come with me to 9:15 a.m. water aerobics! It corresponds perfectly with the kids' swim lessons and your self-esteem will be boosted as you look around and realize you are the youngest, firmest person in the water. (Yes, the majority of the aerobicizers are at least 25 years your senior. But still.)
        Friendly Warning: Youngest does not equal hottest. Next week, wear lipstick and earrings. Buy some Chanel sunglasses. These gals ROCK the accessories.

        Tuesday, September 9, 2008

        Healing in the Pages

        Life with a special needs kid can be isolating. My parenting experiences are frequently different than those of my friends and neighbors. Often I feel alone and unsuccessful. Progress is painstaking. My triumphs look tiny to the rest of the world.
        After Jake's initial diagnosis, I flooded myself with information from all sources. But lately, reading one more autism book has been the LAST thing I want to do with my incredibly-shrinking free time.

        Making Peace with Autism by Susan Senator is not just another autism book. It is one woman's heartbreaking and hopeful story. I found myself crying and nodding in agreement with a fellow footsoldier who has fought in so many similar battles, describing them with honesty.

        The world of autism is full of questions. And, although Senator does give some helpful suggestions and a large list of resources, I found it healing to read about a mom who doesn't have all the answers. She sounds a lot like me.

        Sunday, September 7, 2008

        Seven Questions...Three-in-One

        In the first 18 months I was raising my twins--during the sleepless nights, crying jags and non-stop diaper changes--there was one thought that brought me comfort..."Well, at least I don't have TRIPLETS!"

        How does one woman carry and care for three babies at once? And then, what does she do with three 3-year-olds?!

        I was thrilled to meet Lorena, a real-life mother of triplets (plus one) this spring. She is cute, capable and, obviously, superhuman. I am fascinated with her family and the way they are successfully raising their multiples. Here are Lorena's thoughts on tripling your pleasure...

        #1--If you don't mind sharing a little of your story, how did your miracle triplets come to be? How was your pregancy? Were you on bedrest? Were they preemies? How did you cope that first mind-blowing year?
        We found out after we had been married a year that it was highly unlikely that we would ever conceive a child naturally. The doctor then told us about a generous couple, who had anonymously started a fund for young couples attempting in-vitro fertilization. Six months later, after FBI background checks and social worker interviews, we found out that we had been accepted. (Click here for more details of the story.)
        The IVF process is a roller coaster, but we had very good embryos to choose from. On the morning of the transfer, the doctor showed us a picture of our three best embryos and asked us if we wanted to transfer 2 or 3. Our chances with three embryos were:

      2. 50% chance of getting pregnant at all

      3. And if we got pregnant
        · 75% chance of one baby
        · 20% chance of twins
        · 5% chance of triplets

        • I knew that if I only transferred 2 and didn’t get pregnant, I would wonder about the one other embryo forever. Dane felt that if we did 3 we would have triplets. I assured him that it was only a 2½% chance. But, I will admit, when we left the hospital I knew that they would all be there.

          We had to wait two weeks to find out if I was pregnant. We were told that the blood test should come back somewhere between 100-300. Mine came back at whopping 1848.
          When I was 6 weeks along (4 weeks after the pregnancy test) we had the viability ultrasound saw 3 heartbeats.

          At my first OB appointment when I was 8 weeks along, I measured 18-20 weeks along. At 16 weeks along, I was put on home rest. Three weeks later, I started feeling weird and called the OB's office and told them my symptoms. They had me come in to be monitored. In half an hour I had 4 contractions, and my cervix was dilated to a one. Strict bedrest started then.

          That next week we went to see our perinatologist and he told us that something had to be done to save the pregnancy as 1/3 of my cervix had thinned, or effaced. He told us that we could do a cerclage, a stitch in the cervix to keep it shut. We talked and prayed and both felt that we needed to do the cerclage to give our children a chance.

          The surgery went great! We printed out a calendar and posted it in our bedroom to count down the days until it would be safe to deliver our babies.

          At 27 weeks and 6 days gestation, we delivered our miracle babies. They weighed about 2 lbs each and went straight to the NICU. Andrew came home after 8 weeks, Cassie after 10 weeks, and Elena after 12 weeks. They all came home on oxygen and apnea monitors. We would spend hours in the evening untangling all of the cords and tubes, but we were happy to have them all home…and tired. Detailed journals of their stay in the NICU and more pictures can be found here.

          To be honest with you, I don’t remember much about the first year unless it was documented by pictures, video, or journals. Dane was still attending BYU and working at the MTC, but he had amazing professors and co-workers who took good care of us, as well as a wonderful ward and extended family that lived in the area.

          My favorite story from the pregnancy came one day in the hospital elevator. A volunteer looked at me and asked me if I knew what I was having. I said, “Yes, two girls and a boy.” Her eyes popped out of her head. She was not expecting that one. We still giggle about it. We also used to say to other pregnant couples, “Oh, you’re only having one?” We were so used to seeing 3 babies on ultrasound every two weeks. One baby was just…BORING!

          #2--How did you handle the transition from a young, married couple to an instant family of five? How do you keep your marriage strong with so many needy little ones?
          I really think that Heavenly Father prepared us for what was to come. The infertility was hard and when you go through a struggle like that, the only people you can turn to are each other. We went on trips and did things that we wouldn’t be able to do with children. We feel that it strengthened our marriage and gave us a great foundation to deal with what was to come.

          I must give my husband credit where credit is due. He is amazing! Most fathers are not as involved. We were both hands-on in the NICU every day until the babies came home. After that, we kept them on a strict schedule. He fed, bathed, changed, and did everything else I needed.

          We used to take 4-hour sleeping shifts, with one of us asleep in our room and the other in the babies’ room on the recliner. I think the sleep deprivation is the main reason why I really have limited recollection of that first year. But, we tried to make life as normal as possible. We wanted to make the triplets feel special because they were our children, not because they were multiples. We went to the store together, to parks, and to church. And, yes, it did take us longer to get in and out of everywhere, but that’s just how life was going to be.

          My best memory of Dane is when we had had the babies home for a month. I would put them down for their 2-hour nap in the afternoon and would spend that entire time washing baby bottles (we lived in student housing and didn’t have a dishwasher). All I really wanted (and needed) was sleep. I cried in exasperation one night and then Dane appeared with a brand-new portable dishwasher.

          Dane took care of all of us and was always excited to hear what we had done during the day. I used to take pictures and videos and then play them for him when he got home so he could get caught up on all of the goings-on.

          I think we keep our marriage strong because we are living out our dream. As crazy as our life is, we really have no reason to complain. I have never wished that we hadn’t been given triplets. We had prayed for a family for so long and we finally have one.

          #3--What are your top tips for mothers with multiples?
          FIRST-- Listen to your inner-Mommy. I want to let mothers of multiples know is that these are YOUR children. Not everyone is going to agree with decisions that you make and how you do things, but it doesn’t matter. Take constructive criticism, but listen to your inner-Mommy. I had many times when I felt inadequate because of the “advice” others tried to give me.

          A pediatric nurse told me one day that I needed to hold each of my children as they ate. I looked at her in exasperation and told her that I was doing my best. I then realized that she did not have premature triplets, I did.

          I learned to seek out those people that I felt were helpful and would boost my self-esteem. I also read every book and magazine that I could get my hands on about raising multiples and applied those things that I thought were useful.

          SECOND: Organize, organize, organize! Color-coding worked well for me. Everyone had their own binkies (although they would steal each other’s), bottles, blankets, and bowls. It helped me to know who had eaten what and which binky to stick in which mouth when I would get confused.

          THIRD: You don't need three of everything. That just takes up space. I bought 3 bouncy chairs, but never used them. I bought 3 of those huge high chairs, but could have done well with car seats and then just the seats that attach to the chairs. They take up less room.

          I had a triplet stroller, but it was so big and bulky that we rarely used it and it cost $500. We bought a double umbrella stroller and a single one for less than $100. When there were two of us, that was all we needed. When I was alone I would clip them all together.

          We only used one crib at first and then slowly moved them over to two and then three cribs. Ditto on Pack-n-Plays. But I only had two swings and could have used three. So, don’t worry about having all of your gear at once, you won’t need it.

          FOURTH: Schedules worked for me. Most babies can usually go a few months without a schedule, but I really think it is a must for multiples. I kept them on the schedule they started in the NICU. The babies were sleeping through the night by the time they were 5 months old. Because of a strict schedule, we all knew what to expect and so did the “helpers” that we had come over. We also instituted a bedtime routine--we'd read, sing songs, and say prayers. They loved that!

          FIFTH: Shop for the car ahead of time. We test drove minivans before I was put on bedrest. You won’t have a lot of time to test drive after the babies come. We took the triplet stroller and tried it out in each of the minivan trunks. There were only two fit, so we went with one of those.

          SIXTH: Look into the Podee feeding system. I read about these in a multiples magazine and tried them on a fluke. It changed our lives. Our children could sit up and drink their bottles. This system had a nipple that was attached to a plastic tube that went into the bottle like a straw. Our babies ate more and spit up less because they were seated and getting less air. Much more than that, they could all eat at the same time. I highly recommend these, although you will have to wait until your child can hold their heads up and have a good suck.

          #4--What is the greatest challenge of having three children in the exact same developmental stage? How do you deal with it?
          I didn’t think of it as a challenge when they were younger. We baby-proofed as we went along because they were all doing the same things. They all ate the same things, were interested in the same things, and had the same schedule.

          I guess the biggest challenge is that if one would come up with an idea, the other two would make it a bigger idea. I still don’t know how the sword fighting with my knife set came about, but I’m sure it started with some wooden spoons, went to fake swords, and then ended up with all of the knives, even the butcher knife. The fact that everyone still has 10 fingers is amazing!

          We saw a real benefit the summer before kindergarten. Cassie figured out the whole reading thing and was reading to all of us. The other two decided they could do it, too, and all three were reading by the time they entered kindergarten in the fall. They stunned the teachers by knowing all 100 sight words. They really do challenge each other.

          #5--Now that your triplets are older, how are their personalities developing? Are they more alike or less? Do they get along with each other, or is there usually a "third wheel"? How do you help them develop as individuals?
          My kids are nothing alike and they never really have been.

          Andrew is a sweetheart. He is friendly and polite. He knew every student’s name in Kindergarten (first and last) and would address their parents by Mr. or Mrs. The 1st grade teachers called him the Homecoming King because he was so popular. He loves math and music.
          Cassie has always been independent. She was the one who would sit in the swing and wait while we dealt with the other two. She is smart, cute, and caring. She is actually the most shy of the three. She likes to stay in the background and observe before joining in. She loves to read and write.
          Elena has always been our wacky child. She was the only triplet with any long-term effects from her prematurity. She had respiratory issues after being on the ventilator for so long. She attended Special-Ed preschool for speech and some sensory issues. However, she is doing spectacularly now. She makes friends easily and is very caring and sensitive.

          They all get along really well, but Drew is usually left out of playing Littlest Pet Shop and Barbie. (I don’t think he minds too much.) I have never really seen them “gang up” on each other. Sometimes they walk to the car from school holding onto each other like a train. As different as they are, they share a common bond.

          As you can imagine, we used to get stopped, a lot, when they were younger. The triplet stroller usually gave us away. We always tried to be polite and friendly because we thought that if someone had taken the time to stop us and ask about the kids, they maybe had some reason for doing so. Maybe they were struggling with infertility or had a family member with multiples. We usually got the same questions about ages, names, and the like.

          One day we were talking to a couple who had stopped us when another lady walked up to us. Cassie turned to her and said, “I be Cassie, we be 3, we be triplet.” It was so funny to us because the babies didn’t usually address those that came up to us, and to blurt out a whole sentence was impressive!

          To help develop their individuality, I try to find each child's interest and let them pursue it instead of trying to force them to all do the same thing. (Ask me about piano.)

          The most important thing I did was to keep them in separate classes. They were together in preschool, but once elementary school started I requested separate classes. I also request that they be separated at church, if possible. It has helped them each become their own person and not just a triplet.

          #6--Tell us about your "singleton". Was one single baby a complete breeze after three-in-one? How does she fit into the mix these days?
          Brooke, oh Brooke. Remember how I said that it was highly unlikely that we would ever conceive on our own? Well ...we beat the odds, again!
          I will admit that even though I was happy with my little family, I really did want to have a normal pregnancy, deliver one baby, breastfeed, and bring the baby home with me. I would dream about it. However, I never prayed about it or spoke about it. I felt it was a very selfish desire. But, we have a God of miracles and that is what Brooke is-- a miracle. I was stunned when I found out I was pregnant, but I quickly realized that she was my unspoken desire, my gift straight from Heavenly Father and it makes me feel very loved.

          Yes, it was quite different being pregnant with just one, but I did have three 3-year-olds at home. They had to endure a formerly hands-on mom who had extreme (all-day) morning sickness and was put on bedrest at 29 weeks. I had wonderful friends who came and cleaned my house and fed them lunch, but they were in the middle of potty training and I did have to get up to wipe bums.

          I was amazed when I carried Brooke for 38 weeks. She weighed more than the triplets all put together. She was beautiful! And when the triplets walked in to meet her, they seemed so big and she seemed so small. I worried those first few hours because she was not hooked up to anything and I was used to hearing the beating of a heart from the monitors, so that was a little freaky.

          I also took her first poopy diaper up to the nurse’s station to be weighed and they looked at me like I was crazy. I was just used to doing that in the NICU. I attended the New Parent’s class, where everyone laughed at me since this was my fourth. But, I had never brought a newborn home. I didn’t know how to nurse and I didn’t have any idea what to do with the umbilical stump. It shocked me that she did not come home connected to anything. She was free, there were no cables and tubes to untangle every night. It was definitely a different experience.

          Even though Brooke is 4 years younger than the triplets, it only appears like she is 2 years younger because the triplets are still small for their age. People often think that the 3 girls are the triplets.

          The triplets fight with Brooke more than they do with each other, but she will play with any of them. They each have strengths that make them fun to her. However, she has asked if she could only have only one sister, not two. The one she wants to keep changes daily based on each sister’s playing style.

          Is she spoiled? Yes, but she should be. When she makes comments, like she did the other day about becoming a triplet when she turns 8, it made me realize that she does notice that she is different, and we need to make her feel special.

          #7--How in the world do you do it all?! What do you do for yourself? How do you keep sane?
          I don’t know if I would call myself sane. I feel special to be a mother of triplets. I love to talk about them. I always tell people that they could raise triplets if they had to. It’s all about survival and I have to remind myself that these children deserve as normal a childhood as possible.
          I do what every other homemaker does. I like to go to the gym, meet up with girlfriends, and blog. I also work three nights a week at a local hospital, so I do get the best of both worlds. And, sure, I don’t look as good as I used to, but heck, I had triplets! It’s my favorite excuse for my bulging belly!

          I realize that this is my life and I love it! Don’t get me wrong. I yell, threaten, complain, and have “bad mom” days like everyone else. But, at the end of it all, I realize that I’m just human, and there’s nothing wrong with that.This picture (well, the whole interview, really...) makes me weep. So sweet! Thanks, Lorena. You are amazing.

          Lorena's daily adventures are posted on SixSillySeeleys. Check 'em out.

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