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June 24, 2007

Happy 6th Birthday, My Sweethearts

It's hard to believe, but today my three oldest kids turned 6.  I remember the day they were born as if it were yesterday.  They immediately stole my heart, and the hardest thing I had to do was leave the hospital without them.  Thankfully, they were pretty healthy and didn't have to stay in the hospital for long.  I was lucky.  And now here they are little kids at age 6.

We went for a bike ride today.  A 5 mile bike ride, I should add.  I had Haley in the trailer behind me, and she loved it.  We have these awesome trails through the Forest Preserves and next to lakes, and it's all right in our backyard.  It was an incredible experience watching them gain their confidence on their new bikes while riding through such naturally beautiful scenery.  My mind drifted back to 6 years ago when they were all just 16 1/2 inches long....not even as long as the diameter of their new bike tires!

I've learned an incredible amount about myself in the past 6 years.  I have a lot more patience than I realized.  I have the capacity to feel more love than I ever thought possible.  Being a mom has made me feel more complete than I could ever put into words.  Riding around on a bike with my family today was simply heaven.  Something so simple, but yet so perfect.  I wouldn't change a thing about my life right now.

And my sweet 6 year olds.  Wow, how impressed I am at the little people they are blossoming into.  I am so proud to be their mommy and have the opportunity to raise them.

Happy Birthday, sweethearts.  6 years ago today I am the one who received the greatest gift of my life!!!  Thank you for making the past 6 years so wonderful for me.

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June 13, 2007

Every 17 Years

I am happy that I live in an area where the 17 year cicadas are emerging.  Specifically Brood XIII to show you I have done my research.  I just find it amazing that these creatures can live underground for 17 years, all come up at the same time, mate, lay eggs, die, and the new generation go underground...not to appear for another 17 years.  I mean come on, is it just me, or is this completely wild?  And the sheer number of them is mindboggling.  Their noise (ahem, their mating calls - it's funny that all the chatter is from the guys looking for a date) is deafening.  I love that they are harmless to humans and we can let them walk on us.  It is a very unique feeling having their rather large and sticky legs creeping along on you.  I am terribly afraid of anything with a stinger, but these bad boys are pretty cool.  My only concern is with my unruly hair, I am not fond of them landing there because cutting one out would dampen my like for them.  And I will admit, after having at least 20 of them crawling on you throughout a trip to the zoo, you might feel a little bit creepy-crawly for a while.  But still, you have to respect them.  What a journey they have!  What a reminder that we are all part of a larger universe.  Part of something so much more than just our individual lives.

17 years ago in 1990, I was equally as enthralled by them.  I lived in Rogers Park (a neighborhood in Chicago, if you don't know) and we didn't have any in our neighborhood, so I took a drive to find them.  I was dating my high school sweetheart, and we went together (he drove me, I didn't have my Cordoba yet).  Of course I was romantically imagining what life would be like 17 years from then, when the cicadas would reappear.  We would be married, have a house, some kids, be happy; you know, the usual girl dream.

Well, to the offspring of the cicadas I saw back then, I say my dreams came true big time.  My prince wasn't my high school sweetheart, however.  No, but I definitely found my soulmate.  And the house part?  Check.  A beautiful house and it has room for the next part, the kids.  Four of them, you cicadas who can lay up to 600 eggs!  To you, that's not much, but for many, it's considered a large family.  But it is most importantly, a HAPPY family.  This time when I think forward to 17 years from now in 2024 (egads), my dreams focus on my family.  I hope my triplets, who will be 22, are doing well in life.  My 'baby' will be 18, ohmigoodness.  Wait, my children will ALL be legal adults?!?!  Wow, life will be way different when I see the result of the current reproduction efforts taking place as I type.

I hope for those of you being bombarded by Brood XIII, you find some sort of enriching experience from it.  Personally, I think it's pretty incredible.  A very unique opportunity to say the least.  Here is a picture I took of one:

Cicada

Now that I see the picture on the screen, I do believe we can call that actual size!  So true, I can see how it can be a little freaky at times.  To give them due credit, I completely recommend this very neat video on YouTube which goes through their lifecycle.  It is very neat and educational:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6I3CNnLdnQc

Simply fascinating!  And to the cicada pictured above, I hope me and my entire family meet your offspring 17 years from now...

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June 05, 2007

What's the hardest part?

What's the hardest part about having triplets? 

I've pondered this question many a time since learning I was expecting triplets in December of 2000.  The pregnancy was certainly very hard.  Mostly I claim that being pregnant with triplets is/was the hardest part.  It was hard both physically and mentally, so I suppose that is the right answer.  Your body is stretched beyond its usual capabilities, you are torn from being so miserable to knowing it's best for the babies so all you can do is be severely uncomfortable, and wait.  Yep, that had to be the hardest part.

Then I think, wow, the going back to work after 8 weeks was pretty darned hard, too.  The sleep deprivation, then the traveling husband and doing it all by myself when he was gone.  Being on call, working in the middle of the night while having three newborns.  Hmm, it wasn't easy.  But it's almost a blur now.  Ok, it must be the pregnancy that was the hardest.

And I remember the pumping.  I couldn't get any of them to latch on, so I was pumping around the clock every 4 hours for the entire first year.  Even at work.  I initiated a better 'lactation room' for the few of us doing it.  I got mastitis and more blockages than I could count.  I was wearing a 36I bra (I'm sure there are some of you very, ahem, thankful I shared that information).  When the babies began sleeping through the night, I still got up religiously to pump.  I had an emergency gallbladder surgery and that just about killed my supply, but I pumped every 2 hours until I got it back.  Wow, those were some tough times.  It was a long first year because of this more than anything else.  However, they never had to have formula and as a bonus, I saved all that money.  It felt like a huge accomplishment when it was over, and I was proud of myself for sticking with it when I thought I couldn't.  Sure, it must be the pregnancy that was the most difficult.

That first year, once the weather got warmer and RSV season was over, we started going out more with the babies.  It was like we were a circus act.  We would get stopped left and right and asked the most personal of questions.  Some people were rude and felt that we were irresponsible for having triplets.  Others would voice aloud their personal concerns that they would have killed themselves if it happened to them.  That got very stressful at times...after all, it was hard enough to get out with three babies, let alone have to manage other people's reactions and comments.  But with time, our responses just popped out without thought.  With more time, the kids weren't all the same size, and people didn't automatically connect 'triplets' with them.  Surely pregnancy was harsher than all of that.

As the kids got older, we had potty training to do, times 3.  Ah yes, fun times.  Then right when they got the hang of it, we moved into our new house.  Great timing.  We had to potty train them again!  This second time was even harder because they had already gotten it once, so how do you handle a major relapse?  But I suppose in the grand scheme of things, it wasn't a major hardship.  Not near as difficult as the pregnancy.

Ok, so what else is hard about having triplets?  Sharing your time between 3 eager minds?  Feeding all of them?  Laundry?  Answering questions continually?  Breaking up their sibling squabbles?  Adding surprise baby number 4 into the mix?  I don't know.  It's all challenging sometimes, but overall it's not all that bad.  I think for me, it's something more. 

I am a sap.  I know, I know...if you know me personally, this must come as a huge shock, ha ha.  And motherhood has intensified my emotions ten fold.  I have never known such joy as that my kids bring to me.  I have never known as much love as I've felt since becoming a mom.  I have never felt as connected to the universe before.  And now I feel so much more purpose in life.  Trans fats, global warming, hormones and chemicals in our food, terrorism...oh my!

What I can't quite put into words is what I now believe is the hardest: it's the emotional aspect.  Tuesday was the trio's last day of kindergarten.  What did I do after they climbed aboard the school bus?  I came in the house and cried, what else?  Not some hour long sob or anything, but still, I was overcome enough with emotion to have some tears fall.  And it wasn't because now they will home all day long, every day of summer either.  To me, it was a pretty significant milestone.  I was so proud of all they accomplished this school year.  I was astonished at the level of maturity they have gained.  I was in awe at the little people they have become, instead of just little kids.  Their first year of formal education is behind them.  For a naturally emotional person, this is a triple whammy.  If you are a parent, you understand that time goes by so quickly.  When you have three the same age, this seems to be even more true.  Where have these almost-6 years gone already?  I'm trying to savor each and every moment, but they are still going by so fast.  And sometimes the major milestones come at you three times as hard!  That's what hits me the most.

Well, the good news is what is truly difficult in my opinion isn't really a bad thing.  This is a natural part of parenthood and it just goes along with the territory.  I have four kids to love, and while I am sure I will find certain milestones harder emotionally than others, I am so incredibly grateful for every one.  The pregnancy was hard for sure, but you really can never know the full extent of what being a 'mom' will mean until it's a reality.  I'm sure parts of it are different for everyone.

So for this week at least, I'm sticking to it.  The hardest part so far is that triple whammy of emotions.  The littlest number four will be no different, I'm sure.  With her, she's growing up too fast trying to catch up to her siblings.  I guess I just have to make sure to enjoy every moment I have while it's here.  Time isn't going to stop for me, that's for sure.

If you are a parent, what's the hardest part for you?

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June 02, 2007

Vacation

Did you miss me?  Sorry, I was away on vacation, and while I did have computer access, I didn't devote very much time to such things.  I was enjoying spending time with my family instead.  My sister graduated high school so we were there for that, and then took time to visit afterwards.  We had a wonderful time.  I will be updating the Picture Album with some pictures of our trip when I get a chance.  For now, here is a listing of some general highlights:

  • Portable DVD systems are an absolute must on road trips.
  • It's quite strange to 'listen' to a movie multiple times but have no idea what's happening on the screen.
  • Netflix has been worth every penny, and then some.
  • Interstate speed traps SUCK.
  • Waffle Houses are at almost every single Interstate exit in the state of Tennessee (if you drive through the state, play this game - it's quite fun).
  • Illinois is quite a boring state landscape-wise, and this becomes all the more obvious when you drive elsewhere.
  • But our corn is much cheaper.
  • Gas was under $3 a gallon in Tennessee.
  • Given the opportunity, all of my kids would swim from sun up to sun down.
  • Roller coasters are still the most fun things in the world.
  • Well, the good ole Tilt-a-Whirl still has my heart, too.
  • When you leave your normal life behind to go on vacation, you may come home to a newfound appreciation for it.
  • Not that I didn't already know it, but I am totally digging family life.  Being a mom to my awesome kids and a wife to my wonderful husband makes me happier than anything.
  • There is nothing quite as comfortable as your own bed after being away.
  • There is no way we could downsize from a Suburban.
  • I really enjoy spending time with all of my family in Tennessee.  I really wish I could go there more often to spend time with them.
  • Happy 80th birthday to my great-aunt Ruby!
  • I really, really miss both of my grandmothers.
  • All of my children have my annoying hypersensitivity to insect bites and stings.
  • Shrek the Third is a cute movie.  I really enjoy going to a movie with all of my children.  Even better is also going with my siblings and mom!

Ok, I think that is enough for now.  I will post pictures for those of you with the credentials.  It's been an awesome week and a half for me, and hope it's been ok for you too!!!

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