Nov 21, 2007

Thank You Triplets, Happy One Year Anniversary

It was on Thanksgiving Day one year ago, Nov 23, when we first met our three sons in the flesh and kissed those sweet faces. We were coming to the care center early and on our own with no other families and even though we called a day ahead and told them in Minnesota that we were coming, nobody was expecting us. We were in the lobby of the Hilton waiting for a taxi and I was cold, clammy, and my stomach hurt. I felt sick and I couldn't stop shaking. Our taxi came, we arrived after our driver called to get directions, we met staff, & received paperwork. Oh, I have to mention, our file over there was labelled "Triplets", and not G___ or C___, our lasts names, which was funny. Finally they said, let's go meet your children. We came in the room and they point out the crib. These? is all I remember Jerry saying. They handed Jerry two of our babies and me one (Tsega). I pointed to each of the three babies and said their names. The nannies laughed and clapped as they were impressed I could identify each baby (I had studied the paperwork before going in and knew to look for the pierced hole on Sira's ear!).

Needless to say we moved slowly throughout the week with three great weights hanging from us. Many families who travel describe waiting around endless for drivers and being generally confused with worthless schedules. Not us. We were the ones being waited on (are you ready yet?) and I wasn't even aware of a schedule until I was scolded for not attending a morning meeting. The only difficult part of our travels was when Sira threw up in my dinner on the plane ride home and when he almost got thrown from the top of a luggage cart on our way in Bole Airport. Oh, and the stomach bugs, ohhhhhhh. . .

Naturally this holiday has taken on profound meaning in our family although injera and wot may substitute for rolls and turkey at our thanksgiving table; and maybe some teg to wash it down ;). We loved them before we touched them, but we were strangers to each other a short one year ago. It took several months before we felt like a bonded family, but everyday the love has grown and I can't remember any bad days (well, that one sleep-deprived weekend when Jerry was out of town. . . ). So much has changed, a lifetime in only one year. Thank you cosmic universe, thank you A, ours sons' first mother, thank you Jerry for being father of the year, and thank you Tsega, Bereket, and Sira for all your love and miracles. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

I put together a photo montage of our first week with the boys at the Addis Ababa care center. I'm also working on a summary of our Ethiopian travels and photos in honor of our family's anniversary, so stay tuned. . .

Nov 20, 2007

The Unfinished Bedroom

If you have 90 seconds to kill watch this rather uneventful, albeit cute, video (scroll down, I got to writing. . . ). Our bedroom is totally NOT child proof and normally the boys are not in there unless sleeping in secured cribs or bouncing on the bed. Last night while I was enjoying a few minutes of escape in blissful solitude, the boys started calling for mama. So I thought I'd let the United Ethiopian Sibling Front (UESF) in to bob and poke around while I take some random video. But first a word about our bedroom. . . I feel the need to remind readers of all the hard work Jerry and I have poured into our old house; all the sacrifice and sweat. At one point our adoption hinged on this house; we had to work like dogs to get enough work complete to pass a homestudy. This has not been a measly makeover or remodeling job; it's been more of a demolition and rebirth at the mercy of our four lonely hands. Our bedroom was the first room we finished about 5 years ago and hidden back there lies the most mistakes, although it remains officially unfinished and already needs fresh paint. So squint your eyes and avoid the messy details :).

Oh, BTW, can I just cry a little over "falling back"? Sira never did accept the new time change and now wants to go to bed at 7:00 and wake up the whole house promptly at 5:30. We are tweaking nap and bed times in the hopes of synchronizing his internal clock with Tsega's, Bereket's, and the new time, so schedule-smedule, it's out the door during the make over.

One last super cute tidbit. The other day I watched Bereket pretend to pick food from my boot and eat it (really, he was pretending, there is not so much as lent to eat from my boots so quit laughing) and then pretended to feed me. Then last weekend he and Tsega were sitting in the choo choo wagon and both started to giggle as they scarfed down pretend food from the same cup holder. Totally cute!

Now the video (from my digital camera--I still haven't learned how to use our movie camera--sorry bro!). . .

Nov 14, 2007

Tsega's Mane

Keep in mind that Tsega never stops moving and is the blurriest of my three kids in most pictures. Since I still have two baldies (still bald!?) I get pretty silly playing with Tsega's hair. No plans for a haircut anytime soon.

The Elvis Quiff. . .

Goldy-Locks (bad idea!). . .

Ricky Ricardo (actually in person and up close it reminds me of Billy Dee Willams's wave in Lady Sings the Blues. . . or was that the controversial conk?). . .

Mohawk. . .

Beautiful. . .

Oh, that tongue. Hanging out since day #1.

Tagged, I'm "It"

Tagged! By two people I see. . . thanks Cindy & Sarah. OK, I've been putting this off, so here goes the boring details.

Jobs I’ve had:
Scientist (not had, have) for a groovy non-profit and radical environmental organization
Tree inspector (for lack of better descriptor) for Pacific Gas & Electric
Math Teacher (Peace Corps)
Library page (I won't get into the other, countless low wage jobs I entertained as an adolescent from pizza to videos--this is when I learned I preferred jobs in which I can wear whatever I want and barely speak to people.)

Places I have lived (in this order):
Redlands, CA
Humboldt County (oh, yeah!), CA
Central African Republic (again, Peace Corps, see purple star above, this is the village of Gamboula where I lived)
Mendocino, CA
Pullman, WA
Central Kansas (now)

Food I love:
Hot peppers
Garlic & ginger
Grains and starch
Popcorn with chocolate at same time

Places I’d rather be:
Somewhere in Sub Saharan Africa bumping along through dust and livestock or spotting wildlife I've never seen before. Or more specifically, in Harar watching Ethiopians feed hyenas with their mouths (next time).

Movies I love (this one's tough, so many, yet I can barley sit through a two hour movie anymore!):
La Strada
Godfather I & II
Harold & Maude
Midnight Cowboy
All That Jazz
Drugstore Cowboy
About 10 Woody Allen movies
I better stop here. . . (OK, mostly older films!)

TV shows I watch (we only have 2.5 channels!):
So You Think You Can Dance?
Hell's Kitchen
Reruns of Seinfeld and Raymond
The Shield (when is the next season coming to video!?)

Books I love:
Catcher in the Rye (hey, I read it when I was 13 and angst and it was the first book to ever kick me in the gut like that)
Crime and Punishment
The Survival of Jan Little (wow!)
There's No Me Without You

Music I love:
Tom Waits
XM radio's Starbucks channel and Beyond Jazz channel
Jazz in general (especially old style with that low, smokey percussion)

People I tag:
I can't seem to find anybody to tag who hasn't already been tagged. Angela, as in Angela and Lamar, I'll tag you, you're it.

Nov 13, 2007

The Triplet Unit

I'm worried Jerry and I are treating the triplets as, well, The Triplets; as if they are one unit and not three individuals. Like at dinner last night. Sira wasn't hungry, Tsega sort of picked, and Bereket ate like he cared (Sira, it's the same polenta you loved last night, just colder and the garlic has really seeped in--eat!). I started to shut the whole show down when I realized I let majority and even minority rule rather then catering to individual needs. Same with sleep. I see a pair of eyes get rubbed and everybody goes to bed. This has worked well because who wouldn't want three babies of same age sleeping and eating at the same time; how else can the parents catch some breath and keep chaos minimal. . .

This is a problem. I've been skimming many blogs lately, doing the deadly developmental comparisons (the "her kid does this, my kid does that" thing) and I've concluded at 16 months our boys' language is not coming as it should. Their word list is at about four (nana (=banana) and dada being the strongest, most consistent words). The triplets mimic and mock us and each other, but will stop short at using meaningful words. Doc says 50 (50!?) words by two and no worries about intervention until then. We have time, language isn't officially delayed as of yet. (And this is only one of about 5 major worrisome things concerning the boys currently stewing together in my worry wart head.)

The problem is Jerry and Me, I believe. We talk to the unit, cuddle it, play with it, read and sing to it, feed and rest it. But Tsega, Bereket, and Sira each need more one-to-one time where intimate conversations and story times take place at a less rapid and chaotic pace and no brothers are around to snatch books out of hands or fall over in between me and said baby. Language delays are common in triplets partly because of this unit treatment by parents. More common than in twins and I suspect more of a problem when the triplets (or more) don't have older siblings or daycare peers to pattern after. Seems everytime I'm trying to get some quality time with a receptive baby, trying to read a story or name things around the house or just talk, I have to stop and help another baby up from his fall or tell the other baby to stop banging the glass. Seems like in between all the playing, exercise, sleeping, soothing, eating, and "processing" as I call it (diapers, baths, etc), there's no time left. There I'll be babbling along with the rest of them (it's fun!), letting them climb all over me, smothering them with kisses and coos, or watching mesmerized as they waddle around together in the yard. But I'm not saying much, not labeling, not pointing enough out. Like my jaws are too tired (maybe all that kissing).

I heard of some 2-parent families occasionally breaking up twins so that each parent gives/gets the one-on-one, but this won't work for triplets, obviously. Then I think, well I'll take two and Jerry can take the other one weekend a month. . . when we're not tiling showers and sanding sheet rock (when is that?). But then I get into this dilemma about which two to chose, or we could rotate but then it only amounts to a few days a year. . .

Truth is, I love being with everybody, all three babies plus Jerry, although at the same time I'm always longing for more time with each individual child (and husband). I've often wondered lately what Tsega, Bereket, and Sira would be like as singletons. How different they would be, how different we would treat them (but then there would be no "them"). But in this life, they come together. All for one and one for all, my mighty united sibling front!


Tsega! (I know, the hat's not working. . . Jerry says he's got no ears)


A conversation about the header photo above. . .
Cindy: Why are all the kids in the toy box [boy box?]?
Jerry: Because they climbed in.
Cindy: Why are all their toys out of the box?
Jerry: Because they pulled them all out.
Cindy: Oh.

And that's Sira in the striped shirt (by reduction you should figure out who's who among the rest of the triplet unit).

Nov 7, 2007

No Tricks OR Treats

So, hmmmm, am I the only parent blogger out there with small children who isn't posting pictures of costumed kids in honor of my favorite holiday last week? Am I the only one who thinks one year olds don't need to trick or treat since most of the candies are choking hazards anyway? I'm afraid to think of my guys with a whole bag of chocolate (I don't know what's scarier, the mess or the effect on their little systems)! I forgot to even rent a horror movie let alone dress my kids up and swing through the neighborhoods. But remember, I'm also the Grinch who failed to produce a birthday cake for three first birthdays last June. Jerry's already rolling his eyes about Christmas (they don't need any new toys and they don't care about this stuff right now anyway). Ah, well, next year boys we go All-American (or All-Western). I'm not sure that's a good thing.

Nov 6, 2007

Goofin' Off

Here's a brief synopsis of the triplets' silly nonsense from the last two weeks. Their senses of humor are really taking off along with their trouble makings. This first picture was taken just after I rescued Bereket from being smothered to death by brother Sira (pictured) who decided to squeeze into the cabinet on top of Bereket.
No time to take a picture of the human pretzel, but it's a good thing I didn't totally ignore the muffled crying I heard from the other room. Seriously, I had trouble detangling these guys and Tsega didn't help as he tried to climb in while I was trying to pull them out. It's like musical babies around here (you should see me getting the boys out from a closet or room they shouldn't be in. . . get one baby out from behind the door, the other waddles back in, get him out, the first waddles back in while the third is trying to shut the door on everybody and the second waddles back in and so on and so on. . . )

Our house is baby-proofed to the max, except for this one item which relies only on a weak barrier of discipline. A thin glass bookshelf door that may break upon impact, especially when baby uses an object to bang on said door. Sira, don't bang the glass (don't even think about it). Daily they approach the door with a glance back to make sure we're watching; up goes the hand ever so slowly as if testing the temperature of the glass, then out comes a huge smile and bang bang bang (Sira, Tsega, Bereket, NO NO NO!).

Tsega, no! Sira, not funny, stop it!

Et tu, Bereket?

Peek-a-boo. . .

Happy face (just wanted to prove that Tsega's usually serious face posted on this blog is not the real him). . .

Goofy face. . .

Poopy face. . .

Dirty face. . .

Rag face?

Bereket thought he was hilarious with a rag over his head. Can you believe the boys started fighting over the rag so that I had to give each baby his own rag to wear?!

Sassy, satisfied, and smokin' (the pancakes, that is). . .

Bruised face :(

The clinginess from the trip is subsiding as are Tsega's toddler flare ups (for now). We're not quite back to schedule, but nearly. As boring and inflexible as it sounds, a schedule makes baby happy and sleep well. It's not that they know what time it is, but they know what order we do things and how dark it is outside when we do them (and only naps, feedings, and bed times are scheduled, of course). We also just switched to one nap a day and bed time seems to get earlier and earlier, especially after the time change (I think it was 7:30 last night). I was lucky to get two two-hour-a-day naps for as long as I did. But perhaps the biggest news of the last two weeks. . . drum roll. . . (NO, we're not pregnant or adopting). . . the boys are sleeping in THEIR nursery in THEIR cribs all TOGETHER at night for the first time! It's great to hear them chirping and laughing together across the house in the mornings (while Tsega sleeps through it all) and to be able to get up and walk across the house without a baby seeing us and demanding to be picked up and fed. Freedom :).

One last thing, this doesn't fit here, but thought I'd squeeze in this tidbit for my own fun. We noticed recently that the boys look up at airplanes in the sky and point. Even tiny tiny far-off ones. At least this indicates to me decent vision and hearing. Things not to sneeze at. And Bereket's scratches on his face from the fall above are nearly healed. That's all I got today. :)

Nov 1, 2007

Matilda Steals the Spotlight

Playing in the garden, eating mud. . .


Matilda would eventually lead us to cat #4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and so on. . . and I used to be a one-cat kind of girl, ha! Because of Jerry, who couldn't separate cage-mates, I once had two cats. Annie and Sal. I would see Matilda, usually pregnant, time to time in the neighborhood (back when I lived in one) and was always struck by her beauty and friendliness. She was homeless. During her last pregnancy, I plucked her off the streets and told her she was mine. A couple of weeks later she bore 6 kittens, five males and one sole female (Little Girl who is still with us). We still have Sonny, Rudolph, and I mentioned Little Girl. Leonard is no longer with us but stayed for many years. Together with Annie (may Sal rest in Peace), Marty, Cat-Cat, and sometimes Gretal (she'll eat our food but won't let us touch her), that makes the cat population currently at 8 (I may be forgetting somebody). The rest of the cats just showed up on their own and claimed us. There's also two dogs, Clementine the red coon hound and Louie the hound mutt (Louie was never invited). (Beloved Clay went permanently missing during our time in Ethiopia.) The kids love all the animals, but only Marty, Cat-Cat, Matilda, and now Annie will let them screech and paw at them. The rest run. The dogs prefer to sleep without children when they're not out terrorizing the countryside. One big happy family.