Sunday, August 30, 2015

"Clean Your Room!"

Jesse and I are at our wits end trying to help Jackson maintain a clean room. We have the same conversation at least twice a week about how bad his room is AGAIN, and we ultimately clean it for him. It's gotten so bad that he's been leaving his dirty clothes on the floor wherever he took them off (his room, the bathroom, our room, etc). I absolutely refused to pick up his clothes so Jackson's clothes were never washed last week. He never went without clean clothes; he just didn't have his favorite pajamas and clothes.

We try to require him to clean it as he makes a mess, or even just before bed each night. The problem is Jackson is very imaginative and spends a lot of time playing in his room with everything at once. He invites his siblings to play in his room with him, which results in an even bigger mess. The other challenging thing is Jackson is notorious for multiple wardrobe changes throughout the day. We help him clean his room on the weekends before Jesse vacuums upstairs. During the week, it becomes unmanageable for him.

Our latest attempt involves bribery. Jesse and I came up with a checklist that Jackson has to complete each night before bed. If he cleans the five areas of his room, he gets a sticker each night before bed. If he gets all seven stickers, we'll reward him each weekend with something small (trip to SweetFrog, blind bag, etc). To be honest, he gets those things anyway. Now he just has to work for them.

Here is a copy of what we're printing each week. I took pictures of the five biggest areas in his room, labeled the photos, and created a Word document to help him visually sort out what he needs to do. We're been trying to teach him to focus on one thing, such as put all your books away before anything else, then pick up any clothes.

I'm not proud of raising a slob or resorting to bribery, but I hope this helps teach Jackson how to maintain a clean room. I'll update in a few weeks with our success rate.

Growing Babies

You know your babies were tiny when the clothes they wore in the hospital can fit their dolls. I especially recall how small Maddie was, since she continued to wear preemie clothes long after Amelia outgrew them. Maddie only weighed 4 lbs, 13 oz when she was discharged. Two years later, she's gained 20 pounds and is so feisty. Amelia is unusually strong and can climb the tallest inflatable and playground equipment. It's so strange dressing the girls' dolls in the very same clothes I dressed them in two years ago.

I've been extra nostalgic lately because my Timehop app is filled with photos of newborn triplets every single day. I have to refrain from posting my Timehop daily because I love each picture I see!  I remember those early days, but it almost feels like newborn triplets happened to someone else, as if I was an observer and not the one living it.

As much as I didn't want to be a stay-at-home mom, I am so thankful that I've been able to spend so much time with the kids during these early years of rapid growth and development. I finally updated the "Meet the Family" page, and was shocked at how much all four of them have changed just in the last year. The toddler stage is especially challenging for me, but I hope I can savor it and not take these days for granted.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Thoughts While I'm Running

Now that my long runs are over an hour long, I find myself with a lot of time to think. Here's a peak into my very moody inner dialogue. (Warning: My inner voice swears a lot!)

7:20 a.m. This. Is. Glorious. I'm running! I'm doing it. I'm a runner. It feels AMAZING outside. My body was made to run at 60 degrees. I can't believe I started this training when it was 97 degrees out. What was I thinking? This is what running should feel like.

7:27 I'm slowing down. Still making good time. I feel good. This is good.

7:29 Must stop. Why do I never remember how to breathe? In through mouth and out through nose? In through nose and out through mouth?

7:32 What is this person saying? Are they seriously talking to me?  Hello...I'm wearing headphones. I can't hear you.

7:33 One mile down. Okay, not terrible. Feeling good. I feel like Dori on Finding Nemo. Just keep running. Just keep running.

7:35 Damn you, Pandora. Why is Frozen playing on my Pitch Perfect station? No. Just no.

7:38 Here comes the gravel. Please don't fall off the embankment. This looks just like the mountains. I should take Jackson here to go rock hopping.

7:39 I can't believe I'm going back to work next year. I've got to get my resume together. I'll have to start looking at positions after Christmas. Wonder if I should look at charter schools. I should teach somewhere that I want Jackson to attend. Yeah, charter could be good. How does that work with a lottery? When do I apply? Must research this.

7:46 Oh, hello, bunny rabbit! Run along now.

7:49 Two miles. Last mile was 16 minutes? Shit! What am I doing? Wait, did I ever even run? I hate running on rocks. Okay. Let's go, let's go.

7:52 Here comes the pack (Marathon training group). Look at them smiling as they sprint past with their fuel belts, giving their dismissive waves at me. How can anyone enjoy running so much? Hell, I should have just paid the money and joined them. I want to be them.

7:54 They're coming from both directions with their neon shirts. Try to keep up. Just keep running. Crossing the road now. Oh, thank you, God, for pavement. They're all drinking water from their little coolers. I could go for some water. Should I run with a water bottle? I did that my last half. Got to investigate that.

7:56 I can't believe how much technology has changed in the past few years. Five years ago people ran with iPod minis. I never saw anyone running with a smartphone on their arm. We didn't use apps and post screenshots on Instagram after we were finished.

7:58 Look at all these running buddies. I wonder if they were friends that signed up for the training program together or they just met through the group. They sure do talk a lot. It must make the time go by faster. Hold each other accountable. Motivate one another. I need a running buddy.

8:00 My lungs are about to explode. I can't stop in the middle of the pack. This is what it's going to be like on race day. So many people. This is good practice. Makes me want to run more.

8:01 F--- this. Must walk. Going to die.

8:02 Three miles. Another 13 minute mile. Okay, that's better. Half way finished. I can do this!

8:03 This is the third person that's shouted "Great job!" These people are so peppy. Or maybe I just look like I really need encouraging.

8:05 I am not a runner. A half marathon is a ridiculous goal. Why did I think this would be a good goal? I can just walk. I'm an excellent walker. No, I don't have time to walk 13 miles. That would take forever. Cutoff time is 3 hours. Got to run again.

8:08 I love this song! It is weird to fist pump while walking?

8:12 Hmm, I've been walking a long time. F--- it. Walking is still great exercise.

8:18 Four miles. 2/3 the way finished. Another 16 minute mile. Eh. It is what it is.

8:20 Just me again. Even the slowest marathoners have left me in their dust. Literally. Back on the gravel trails.

8:21 Enough with the pity party. I am strong. God gave me a body that is capable of running. Time to use it.

8:21 I wonder what other people do while they're running by themselves. I wish I was reading. I can't wait to finish Dark Places. Did Ben murder his family? How sick would that be to kill your own siblings? Surely he didn't. It's always the lesser obvious choice in mystery thrillers.

8:26  Seriously, though...what do people do when they run by themselves? Maybe I could find a good audio book. Last week I tried praying and listening to Christian music. That didn't work as well as I'd hoped. Too distracted. Too scattered. I could never be a monk. Or like in Eat, Pray, Love when she meditates for hours. Nope. No focus here.

8:30  I wonder if the kids are up yet. They're probably sleeping in. They always sleep in when I'm gone, but are up crying at 6:30 during the week. Hopefully Jesse got to sleep in. He gets up so much earlier than I do every other day.

8:33 Five miles. 5/6. 83%. I love fractions. Maybe I could just teach math. But my Masters' and National Boards are both in reading. Of course I'll be hired for reading. I guess I can only get hired in a subject that I apply for.

8:34 My blisters are back. I think my left foot might rip open. It's got to be bleeding.

8:35 Am I limping. Don't do this. You're almost finished, BK. Just suck it up.

8:36 My brain feels foggy. I wish I could eat breakfast before I run. Need to buy some energy gel. Should have taken some a half hour ago. Just don't pass out on the greenway.

8:38 Maybe I can run on the outside of my feet. This is ridiculous. I am 29 years old. I should be able to run six miles without falling apart. I need to just go back to Run for Your Life and see what they advise. I've got to be doing something wrong. Wrong shoes? Wrong form? This can't be right.

8:40 Is that one of the church ladies walking her dog? Must start running again. They know I'm training.

8:43 Oh, this is a big damn hill. I should park somewhere else so I don't have to end every run up this mountain.

8:46 Finish strong. Jog it up. Here we go.

8: 48 Six miles. I'm alive. I made it. Must take socks and shoes off right this second.

8:50 It feels so, so good to stretch. I feel great. Another 6 miles in the books. Blood is pumping through my body. I could totally run every day.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Another One Bites the Dust

James is the next confirmed victim of this odd virus. It's like the flu, minus the coughing or sneezing. Amelia still isn't 100% recovered after six days, though she's acting more and more like herself. All of the babies have been especially needy.

James' fever has been especially high, and he's been crying with no appetite or energy for 2.5 days.

The only thing that offered him relief yesterday was a popsicle.

He hasn't even had enough energy to play or go up the stairs. I put him in the stroller in hopes that some fresh air would do him good. Once again, Maddie's been taking care of her siblings.

More often than not, he's been in my arms or passed out on the couch.

I'm assuming Jackson is the next victim, considering he refused lunch and spent the middle of the afternoon like this. If he's going to get sick, I hope he does it now since preschool starts next Tuesday.

I. Am. Over. This. Week.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Sleeping, Screaming Sickness

Amelia apparently has some kind of virus. She was extremely lethargic with zero appetite on Thursday and Friday. She threw up once. Ever since then, she keeps crying and screaming, then falling asleep in weird places. This girl has always required a mattress to sleep, preferably her parent's bed.

Jackson sings "Twinkle Twinkle" to her. James brings her a pacifier and her blankie. Maddie rubs Amelia's hair and pats her back. I rock with her. We all try to comfort her, but it hasn't proven to be very effective.

With that said, she never had a crazy high fever or showed any signs of dehydration. Her appetite is almost back to normal today and she has had brief surges of energy the past two days. I thought she was back to normal yesterday, but she's definitely not! (I wouldn't have taken her to the museum if I thought she was sick or contagious.) She goes to bed screaming, wakes up screaming, and whimpers throughout the day. I took her (and everyone else) to the pediatrician's office first thing this morning.

Go figure, Amelia was a smiling angel during the appointment. She gave the doctor a high five and did everything the doctor asked. Amelia's ears, throat, lungs, etc all checked out fine. The only thing the doctor noted was "extra grumblings in her stomach". She said it was probably similar to the flu in the sense that whatever she had took a lot out of her and she's taking a longer time to recover. We're supposed to continue with smaller, more frequent meals and allow her to rest as needed. She didn't give any advice on the screaming! (Ever since Amelia was a newborn, her cry has gotten under my skin more than any other sound on the planet.)

On a side note, these two could not have been any cuter while waiting for the doctor! They are developing quite a bond these days.

After a quick park outing before heading home...

...Amelia fell asleep on the recliner long before her normal nap time.

A few hours later she was crying again, as was James. James cried hysterically most of the evening and refused dinner. (He generally eats 2 or 3 servings!)  I'm trying to mentally prepare for several days of this with James. It's exhausting not being able to comfort or help your child. I feel like I might lose my mind!

Back to School

Yesterday was the first day of school for local students. This meant my Facebook newsfeed was full of cute kids holding printed signs and rejuvenated teachers posting optimistic status updates. In recent years, the first day of school has made me feel sad because I'm not in the classroom. This year, I feel sad because I anticipate it being my last year home. I've come to embrace my role as stay-at-home mom. I'm currently in denial that I will need to begin applying for jobs in the spring and Jackson will start kindergarten next August. 

For all those reasons, I wanted to be out of the house taking advantage of all my favorite places with the kids. We spent most of the day exploring the children's museum, playing on a playground, and running through the fountains at another park.

I pride myself on giving the kids a variety of experiences. I let Jackson watch television too much and I spend more time on my phone than I should, but I at least know my kids will have a wealth of background knowledge and be able to make connections from all their real world experiences. 

We spent the morning at Discovery Place. The first thing the kids run up to is the interactive globe. All four of them love pressing buttons to light up different geographic regions and listen to music. 

My favorite exhibit is the aquarium, particularly the jellyfish. Jackson and I both noticed the jellyfish looked different than we remembered. I don't know if their tentacles grow longer or if they were different fish altogether. Either way, I love how observant and curious Jackson is.

I certainly wasn't expecting the museum to be crowded considering it was the first day of school, but I was surprised at how desolate the museum truly was. We were really able to take our time in each area and explore freely without the pressure of being in others way.

The rainforest is another favorite area. We looked through the list of animals and found the tropical birds and geckos along the trees and vines.

Jackson also figured out he could use his hands and feet to move through the net bridge like Spiderman.

In the next exhibit, I actually sat down with the trio to help them build structures, rather than run around to repeatedly put them back on the stools or pick up blocks they threw. They were very focused.

In the same building section is a really cool touch screen computer where you can become an architect. Each building (school, fire station, police station, etc) gives you a list of requirements and you have to design it according to the checklist. Jackson designed the fire station while James, Amelia, and Maddie continued building with blocks.

We totally took advantage of this already built fort and played a game of hide and go seek.

I got a bit too ambitious trying to get the trio on the bed of nails. It didn't go over as well as I'd hoped.

Jackson made the connection that the "air chair" was like a vacuum.

The temporary guitar exhibit ends in a few weeks, so it was nice to have the whole area to ourselves to explore. The trio loved playing the "World's Largest Playable Guitar". I tried to teach Jackson about sound vibration (in kid terms) but he wasn't interested.

The trio also loved playing the orff instruments. Unfortunately, this was the last time Amelia smiled the entire day. She'd had a rough few days, acting especially cranky and tired. She was having such a good time up until I took her away from the instruments. She literally rolled around the floor and crawled away from me, and truly never recovered the rest of the day.

Wanting to take advantage of our all-day parking, we walked two blocks to First Pres and played on their playground. You can only play if there are no preschool classes on the playground. I assumed we'd be alright since most preschools don't start until next week.

We had a light lunch in the shade.

We walked two more blocks to my favorite park so the boys could run under the fountains. There was a mom and daughter there at the same time as us. The mom quickly befriended us and even tried to get the girls to splash in the puddles. Maddie loved the attention and laughed with the other mom and I. Amelia continued to sulk in the shade, even when I picked her up and rocked with her.


I remembered a change of clothes for everyone except Jackson. Thankfully Jackson was a trooper and never complained while walking the four blocks back to the van in soaking wet clothes. With the exception of Amelia's fussiness, we had a perfect day not kicking off another school year.

Two Year Well Check

This post is long overdue! It's been in draft mode for the past five weeks. The reason I never published it is because I never got the printout of the kids' measurements. Even though it's supposedly online, they still haven't updated the "encounter list" with correct information. I took Amelia for a sick visit this afternoon and asked the receptionist to look up their 2-year stats while we were there. Here's our experience at the trio's 2 year well check, over a month ago:

Even at 2 years old, our office still requires kids be weighed naked. While that's a pain, it went much more smoothly than their previous well check because 
1. Jesse was with me.
2. James and Amelia could reliably stand on the big scale rather than have to lie down on the baby scale. Maddie could have stood on it, but she is never cooperative with doctors.

I always like to include a history of their growth, just to get a whole picture of how they've grown. Here are their most recent measurements:

6 lbs, 12 oz
20.5 in
6 lbs, 2 oz
20 in
5 lbs, 9 oz
18 in
4 Months
13 lbs, 5 oz
12 lbs
9 lbs
23. 75”
6 Months
15 lbs, 7 oz
14 lbs, 9 oz
11 lbs
9 Months
17 lbs, 6 oz
16 lbs, 11 oz
13 lbs, 5 oz
12 Months
21 lbs, 15 oz
20 lbs, 9 oz
17 lbs, 4 oz
15 Months
24 lbs, 13 oz
22 lbs, 14 oz
20 lbs, 9 oz
18 Months
25 lbs, 8 oz
24 lbs
21 lbs, 10 oz
2 Years
28 lbs
27 lbs
24 lbs, 6 oz

Their check up was quick (as in under two hours) and straight forward. 
It was noted that all three are speech delayed, though they're already receiving weekly speech therapy. (Well, they were. We're still in the process of finding another SLP since our previous one was reassigned to the school systems.)
The pediatrician recommended we eliminate daytime pacifier use which we already planned on doing. (That has yet to happen. Oops!
Since we've exhausted all the oils, ointments, and steroid creams for Maddie's skin, the pediatrician said he would refer us to a dermatologist. (Nothing ever came of that. We never received a referral, nor did we approach the office again. Maddie's skin isn't great, but it's just dry, not cracked or bleeding.)

James found intense gratification in going through the trash and pulling the paper off the exam table throughout the entire visit.

Maddie cried throughout her exam. Unfortunately, this is typical for her.

I knew the kids were up-to-date on shots, but I didn't realize they had to have a blood test to check lead levels. James and Maddie cried while their fingers were pricked. Oddly, Amelia was not only calm, but happy.

She was so curious and seemed to enjoy watching the nurse massage the blood from her finger into the tiny vile. 

James and Maddie picked out stickers after the exam, whereas Amelia wanted the nurses' vile. The nurse was so impressed with Amelia. She ran and grabbed her a clean vile for Amelia to take home. All four kids were allowed to pick out lollipops.

The trio's next well check isn't until next July. I'm praising God once again for four healthy children!

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Month of Birthday Parties

Who knew 4-year-olds received so many invitations to birthday parties? Jackson and I have attended three birthday parties within the past month for his friends. The first one I already blogged about, but I'll briefly mention it again.

Z's 6th birthday at Chuck E Cheese
Pizza, cupcakes, 45 rides/games, dancing and singing with a mouse, exchanging tickets for prizes

It was a very fun, busy afternoon with friends!

R's 5th birthday at Bounce-U

It was clear that this facility specializes in birthday parties. The staff has timed everything so efficiently that the kids are guaranteed to have a great party. Each party group is only allowed in one room at a time. You stay in one large room for 30 minutes, then you line up and walk to the next room for another 30 minutes. Each room has plenty of entertaining inflatables. The crowd favorite was unanimously the "wipe-out" style obstacle course.

Once again, pizza and cake are always kid favorites.

The venue also provides tableware, cleans up, and records gifts. You can even pay a small extra fee for a photographer! I was really impressed with the organization and how much fun the kids had.

R's 4th birthday at the park

I honestly wasn't sure what food, if any, would be available since R has a lot of allergies. His momma provided plenty of safe fruits and snacks that were gobbled up by kids and adults.

Most of the kids were busy running around the park, but Jackson was more interested in the watercolors. He was the only child at the party who painted.

Of course, he also played with his friends and took advantage of the playground equipment.

At every birthday party my mom friends and I have laughed at the lack of personal space or graciousness the kids display while opening presents. They're never intentionally rude. It's just a funny reminder that manners are taught and young kids have no filter.

We've already been invited to another birthday party to an indoor trampoline park in a few weeks. My mom friends are really raising the bar with kids' parties! We avoid most things that cost money, so these parties are the first time Jackson has ever gone to Chuck E Cheese or BounceU, and it will be his first time at the trampoline park. I wonder what kind of birthday party Jackson will request for his 5th birthday in April. 

I'm just thankful we belong to a community where both Jackson and I can enjoy hanging out with our peers and there are people that care enough about Jackson to include him in birthday celebrations. Jackson will always be an introvert and is oftentimes a loner, but he has a solid group of friends and so do I!

Lowe's Build and Grow (A Daddy Post)

Early this summer, Jackson and I saw a sign advertising a free building clinic for kids at Lowe's. The advertisement said you could build Captain America's motorcycle and collect special cutouts from the new Avengers movie.

I signed up for the clinic at our local Lowe's. The first Build & Grow was a great experience! Jackson got an apron, work goggles, and a Captain America mask to keep. We assembled Cap's motorcycle and a display stage for the cutout. Jackson was primarily in charge of applying stickers. He occasionally helped me hammer in some nails.

Safety first.

The final product.

Since we just started doing these Build & Grow clinics, I'm not sure if it's just because of the Avengers theme, but kids & parents come out in droves for these projects. Despite signing up in advance, we had to wait in line to receive our supplies every time.


Daddy & Iron Man

Hawkeye's Quinjet

Each time we built our new toy, Jackson got a special patch for his work apron. I was a little upset that we missed the first week (Iron Man) and wouldn't be able to complete his set, but they had a lot of extras.

I think Jackson learned some important lessons from Build & Grow:
  • Hammering nails is easier when you have a daddy to start them for you
  • Instructions aren't necessarily meant to be followed
  • Lowe's is more than just a place where Daddy goes to waste time and spend money
I also learned some lessons:
  • Dozens of children hammering tiny nails creates a hell of a racket
  • Other parents look at you funny when you swear after screwing up Black Widow's Skycycle--AGAIN
  • Lowe's is the happiest place on earth, in spite of the aforementioned racket

We will continue to sign up for the Build & Grow clinics. Jackson is excited about the next two builds--a firetruck and a haunted birdhouse. In the words of the immortal bard, President George Walker Bush, "I think we agree, the past is over."