Monday, May 31, 2010

On Memorial Day: Thanks to Those on The Home Front

On this Memorial Day I want to thank those military spouses who stay behind and keep things running on the home front.

I've just recently been on my own with the boys for about a week while Jeff's was gone.

It was tough. Tough, man!

I was totally wiped at the end of every day. And it was only for a week.

My hat is off to those of you who do this day after day after day while your spouse protects and defends our freedoms. Your sacrifice is tremendous, and too often overlooked. Thank you isn't nearly enough.

So today I'm thinking of people like my high school friend Tiffany, whose husband is on yet another tour of Afghanistan. Every day she works full-time and then takes care of three kids: a four year old, a one year old and a four month old.

Tiffany lives several thousand miles away from me, and I can't help her out from afar they way I'd like to. I'd like to make her a meal or watch her kids so she could run errands. Or just have her over for a meal and some adult company for a while. Instead, I do what I can, and I pray that she has good people in her life who are looking out for her every day.

If you know a military spouse who is holding down the fort here at home, won't you please say "thank you" to him or her? Consider lending a helping hand by dropping off a meal or a gift card for a local restaurant. Volunteer to watch the kids for a couple of hours so mom or dad can get a break or at least get the grocery shopping done. Offer to help out with carpool duties. Anything you can do will be appreciated.

Today we remember all the men and women who have served this great country. Let's honor their service with a service of our own: taking care of the spouses and families of those who are currently taking care of America. It's the least we can do.

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Sunday, May 30, 2010

What A Difference The "Plus One" Makes!

Amelia has been gone for the last few days visiting grandparents, and her absence has made two things abundantly clear. One, I miss her more than I can stand. And two, triplets plus one is WAAAAY more work than triplets alone.

I always knew that having Amelia and the boys was more work than just having the boys, but Amelia's been gone three days and it's really become evident what a difference that extra child makes. Fewer toys to clean up, less laundry (marginally, but still), and one less person to help dress, feed, bathe, and put to bed. At four, Amelia can do lots of things for herself, so I always thought the difference would be negligible now. It isn't.

One of the chief reasons there's such a big difference is all of the play time, crafts and questions. Shoot, the lack of questions alone gives me an extra couple hours in my day. Of course the trade off is that my brain is stagnating while Amelia's gone. And I am starting to miss playing My Little Ponies. (Did I just confess that?)

I've tried to use the extra time wisely, tackling some projects I can't usually get to, like sorting through toys and clothes. Since the boys go to bed a whole hour earlier than Amelia, I have found I can work on a project for a couple hours and still go to bed around 10. That's at least an hour earlier than usual. I think my body has appreciated the extra sleep.

Most of my "extra" time is going to one BIG project, though: potty training. Yep, that's right. We have taken the plunge, so to speak. The boys were all showing signs of being ready, so I'm going for it. And taking notes along the way, so stay tuned for the Potty Training Chronicles in the days to come.

For now, let me just say that we've had some success, some hilarity, and only a few fits. Most of the fits were thrown by the boys. At least until Alex flushed half a roll of toilet paper while I was running a peeing Sam to the other potty and yelling at Isaac not to play in the pee that was all over the playroom floor. I know you can't wait to read all about it.

Hurry home Amelia! Mommy misses you. Especially since you can use the potty all by yourself.

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Day I Played Plumber's Assistant

Some of you saw my series of Tweets last Friday about the water going out at our house. The day before Amelia's birthday party, of course. Luckily we were planning a very small, low-key affair. And, luckily, since our plumber couldn't fix the problem, our fantastic neighbors bailed us out with a long hose and a hookup to their outside spigot.

To make a long story short, I turned the water on Friday morning to flush a drain I had poured some Drano down. When I came back 10 minutes later, there was no water running.

Uh oh.

This can't be good.

My first thought was that I wished I'd showered that morning instead of waiting for naptime. My second thought was that I should have done a couple more loads of laundry the night before. My third thought was that this was the perfect excuse for a less-than-perfectly-clean house for Amelia's party. There's always a silver lining!

The plumber (who was just here four days earlier to do some repair work, ironically) came and checked out the well pump. The two easy possibilities were bust, so he had to pull the pump to see if it was burned out. But he couldn't get it pulled by himself. It stuck in the pipe. He came in to tell me it would cost me an extra couple hundred to get someone out to help him.

Really? How hard could it be?

Fortunately, any idiot can hold the cord so if the pump breaks off it doesn't end up in the well. I told him to give me 10 minutes, threw all four kids in their beds for naptime and went out to play plumber's assistant. Even with my expert assistance, the pump stayed stuck.

At this point my neighbors came to the rescue and the plumber hooked things up so my neighbor's well would provide water to my house about 250 feet away. It worked like a charm -- just as good as having our own well functioning. Which is good, because I went through about a gallon of hand sanitizer Friday when we had no water, but that stuff only goes so far. Sometimes you just need soap and hot water.

We already have city water in our neighborhood, and Jeff and I had been talking about hooking up to it, so we decided that now was the time. The company we hired had everything hooked up by 10 a.m. Tuesday. We were amazed they got it done that quickly.

Turns out your hookup gets fast-tracked when you don't have any running water at your house. Another silver lining.

In the end, all is well that ends well. (No pun intended! The well still doesn't work.) It was a hassle, but a short-lived hassle. And, the cost of the water hookup is almost exactly equal to the amount of our federal tax refund. I guess that's lucky too, right?

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

From My Kitchen: Fresh Vegetable Salad

It's Memorial Day weekend and barbecue season is upon us. Here's a great fresh salad to serve alongside your ribs and brats. I always serve this at Easter, and we eat it often during the summer months. I usually chop all my broccoli and the full head of cauliflower and use the extra veggies to make a stir fry the next day. Nothing like getting two dishes out of one prep session!

I don't usually like salad with mayo-based dressings, but the addition of sugar and Parmesan cheese tones down the mayo taste to my liking. This will keep well overnight, but it won't last two days, so eat up!

Fresh Vegetable Salad
2 C. broccoli
2 C. cauliflower
1/2 C. chopped celery
1/2 C. chopped green pepper
1/4 C. grated carrot
1 C. mayo or Miracle Whip
1/4 C. sugar
3 Tbsp. grated Parmesan
2 bacon strips, cooked & chopped (or use pre-cooked real bacon pieces, not Bacos)

Toss veggies in a large bowl. Combine mayo, sugar and Parmesan and pour over veggies. Toss to coat. Cover and chill. Sprinkle with bacon just before serving.


© Trippin' Mama 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Writer's Workshop: Excuse Me?

When Jeff and I were living in England, we quickly learned that although we spoke English, we did not speak the Queen's English.

I was constantly reminded of this when I would refer talk about my pants and my classmates would all titter. Turns out "pants" are "underpants" in England. "Trousers" is the proper term for what we Americans call "pants."

Of course, most Brits knew these Americanisms and were very tolerant of us, besides snickering over my "pants" from time to time. And we tried to adapt, learning to visit the chemist for prescriptions and referring to the trunk of the car as the "boot." So for the most part we all understood each other.

Then one day Jeff came home from his job at the chemistry lab. He told me that he was working that day when a colleague hurried into the room and said, "Professor So-and-So is running down the hall carrying a Winchester."

What?! I panicked just hearing him tell me this story.

Jeff was looking for a safe place to hit the deck when it occurred to him that no one else seemed the least bit disturbed by this announcement.

He slowly stood from his semi-crouch and said, "What exactly is a Winchester? Because where I come from it's a rifle."

His colleagues laughed and told him it was a large flask -- a simple piece of glassware common in chemistry labs. It was still a little concerning that someone was running down the hallway with a large flask -- an experiment gone awry, perhaps? But not the alarming announcement Jeff thought it was.

We had a good chuckle over the miscommunication then, and we laughed about it again the other night, some 15 years later. Thanks, Mama Kat for reminding us about a good memory with prompt #1: Describe a time when you had difficulty communicating with someone who speaks a different language than you.

It seems that sometimes a Winchester isn't a Winchester after all.

Mama's Losin' It
© Trippin' Mama 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wordful Wednesday: Bottoms Up!

This is one of the latest games in our house.

One boy puts his head on the ground, and pretty soon they are all doing it and giggling like mad.

Gives a whole new meaning to the term bottoms up!

Play along with Wordful Wednesday over at:

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Things My Triplets Taught Me: Do It Now

I have always been something of a procrastinator. I didn't usually leave things until the VERY last minute, but the last few days or hours, sure. Deadline pressure motivated me all through high school.

Then I went off to college where I studied journalism, and my education only reinforced and rewarded my procrastinating nature. Our professors were determined to see that we could meet deadlines and turn out quality work in a short time frame. Doing things at the last minute became a highly-coveted job skill, not a bad habit. Of course, I didn't have to apply that principle to say, the 20-page history paper I had due, but I did, and it mostly worked for me.

Everything from then on followed that same pattern. My master's degree assignments were all due the week they were made, my career was built on being able to churn out work that the boss asked for today, but needed yesterday, and juggling motherhood and an outside job only honed my last-minute skills.

Then I became a mother of triplets. And I quickly learned that I couldn't do things later, because there was never a later. Later I needed to do 47 other things. Every need was an immediate need, especially in the beginning. There was a lot of deadine pressure, but no wiggle room for procrastinating.

There was no "later" when it came to changing crib sheets that were wet. If it didn't get done immediately I'd find myself ready to put babies back to bed and have no clean sheets. "Later" I'd need clean bottles or pump equipment, and someone would have to wait and cry while I did what I should have done earlier. Showering "later" turned out to sometimes mean two or three days later. (Frankly, I was mostly so tired I didn't care anyway.) I learned to put laundry in the washer after the 6:30 a.m. feeding ever morning so we'd have enough burp rags and blankets for the day. By the time I got another chance I'd have another load or two piled up.

Jeff joined in, too. He unloaded the dishwasher and made up a days' worth of bottles every night before bed. And when he came home he would make more bottles and restock diapers and wipes and sleepers to make sure we had everything ready for the night shift.

Now that the boys sleep at night and nap well, I have a little more energy and some dedicated chore time, so I don't have to do everything immediately anymore. Sometimes I hold off until nap time when I can be more efficient, and when there aren't fun little boys around to play with! And sometimes, in the name of efficiency mind you, I have been known to just kick the morning's Cheerios under the highchairs to sweep up after lunch. But for the most part, the boys trained me well, and I still find myself cleaning up trays and highchairs as soon as meals are finished and putting my laundry in about the same time daily.

As it turned out, that skill of meeting deadlines came in pretty handy when my trio arrived. And while I no longer had the option to procrastinate, I certainly became world-class at getting everything done just in the nick of time.

I'll try to keep that in mind when my kids start driving me crazy by procrastinating. I can already hear myself saying, "This wouldn't have happened if you hadn't waited until the very last minute."

Hypocrite, thy name is Mom.

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010

C'mon, Let's Play!

As Sam, Isaac and Alex get older they are becoming great playmates for Amelia. It's been fun to watch them grow and learn how to play with each other and with her. Lately we've been playing hide-and-go-seek in the yard. Amelia hides and the boys help me find her. Everyone gets a kick out of it.

The other night, Amelia and Alex were playing catch, with a little assistance from Daddy. Here's the video:

Before we know it they won't need any help from us to play this game!

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010

How Many Questions Can You Answer?

Last night I laid down with Amelia to try to help her settle down and sleep after her big day.

Amelia usually has a thousand questions to ask, but fueled by excess sugar and post-birthday party excitement she had several thousand. I figure she's just breaking us in for when the boys get to this stage.

It was late and I was exhausted so I told Amelia that it was time to sleep, and her questions would have to wait until morning.

"But Mom, I've got a lot of nighttime questions in my head!" she replied.

I told her that I was all out of answers, but I would have more answers in the morning. 

"Good, because I've got a lot of morning questions, too," she said.

 As I was telling Jeff this story today, he laughed.

"That explains it," he said.

When he went into Amelia's room some time after I had left, Amelia said, "Dad, do you have any answers? Because Mom ran out."

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Birthday Celebration

She is four.

They had cake.

(This guy loved it the most.)

I am tired.

Almost as tired as I was at this time four years ago.

But at least tonight I got to enjoy a glass of wine.

Happy birthday, Amelia! Welcome to four years old. I can't wait to see what this year brings!

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Friday, May 21, 2010

From My Kitchen: Lemon Blueberry Cheese Tart

Sorry to be posting this so late. We had a small crisis here today in the form of NO WATER in our house all day. Something's wrong with the well pump, but you'll hear all about that in another post. Right now it's time for another terrific recipe.

My mom pulled this tart recipe out of a magazine, but there's no reference on the page, so I can't tell you what magazine. We made it for dessert on Easter, and it went immediately into my recipe box. It was delicious!

The filling is made with light cream cheese and it's bakes up almost like a cheesecake, just slightly tart from the lemon. It's topped with sweet strawberry preserves and lucious blueberries. And the light flavor of the almond crust is the perfect touch.

I'll be making this tomorrow for the adults who will be at Amelia's birthday party. Cupcakes are fine for kiddos, but the growups deserve something a little better, don't you think? I certainly do!

Here's the recipe.

Lemon Blueberry Cheese Tart
Almond Crust
  1/2 cup slivered almonds
  1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  1 cup flour
  1/4 teaspoon salt
  6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
  1 tablespoon cold water

Lemon Cheese Filling
  2 bricks (8 oz. each) light cream cheese, softened
  3/4 cup sugar
  1 large egg
  1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  2 tablespoons lemon juice

  3 tablespoons strawberry preserves
  8 ounces fresh blueberries

1. Crust: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-inch tart pan or springform pan with a removable bottom with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Place almonds and sugar in food processor. Pulse until nuts are finely ground. Add flour and salt. Pulse until blended. Add butter. Pulse until coarse crumbs form. Sprinkle with water. Pulse until dough comes together.

3. Press dough evenly onto sides and bottom of prepared tart pan. Bake 15 to 20 minutes until golden.

4. Filling: Meanwhile, beat cream cheese and sugar 1 minute until blended and smooth. Beat in egg, lemon zest and juice until blended. Spread into hot crust. Bake 20 minutes or until just set.

5. Cool completely on wire rack. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight. Before serving, spread preserves over tart. Top with blueberries.

Serves 12 people.

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Thursday, May 20, 2010

English, please?

I never would have guessed that life as a SAHM would make me feel exactly the same as discussing chaos theory with a group of international colleagues. But sometimes it does.

When I was a student in England, my class was composed of students from all over the world. Greece, Norway, Japan, Chile, France, Russia, England, America. We were a diverse group. Most of my classmates spoke English as their second language. Frankly, I found that I didn't speak English, but American, which is decidedly NOT the same!

We all quickly came up against the same communications barrier. We could use cultural references to make a point. You couldn't refer to some TV show or use Wal-Mart as a model. Because some of your classmates may have no understanding of your reference or, in the case of a Wal-Mart reference, it might be a very different thing in their country than in yours.

Overcoming this hurdle required some additional thinking and some interpretation skills. Some days my brain hurt from trying to explain myself or understand my classmates' explanations.

We were all foreigners in a foreign land, so to speak. The same is true in my house these days.

I am forever trying to interpret three different versions of "English" as the boys are learning to talk. They might all want the same thing, but the word they use does not sound the same. And I'm doing my best to figure it out as fast as possible before everyone gets mad and starts yelling at me.

Alex wants a "bah," Isaac's saying "pa" and Sam is pointing and squealing. Turns out everyone wants a paci, which no one gets because it's not naptime or bedtime. Cue the yelling.

And then there's Amelia. Her English is perfectly clear. (Today she used the word "perseverance" in a sentence and then explained to me exactly what it meant.) But her references sometime elude me.

Like at bedtime. She asked me to tell her a "Pongo story." That's a story about the 101 Dalmatians show. I referred to Purdy as Pongo's wife. About three minutes later Amelia asked me if Pongo was a farmer. Since my story had nothing to do with the dogs visiting a farm, I was very confused.

I was racking my brain for farm references from the movie. Nothing. So I explained that Pongo and Purdy were married, so the girl is the wife and the boy is the husband. Amelia responded by asking again about Pongo being a farmer.

Then the light bulb went on in my head.

"Oh, do you mean 'the farmer takes a wife?'"

That was it!

I might be a long ways and quite a few years away from my days as a student in England, but Mama's still got it.

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wordful Wednesday: My Baby's Almost Four!

This beautiful baby came into our lives almost four years ago.

Amelia took her sweet time getting here. Like many first babies she was overdue. Two weeks overdue. Three days of on-again, off-again labor overdue. Sixty-two hours of continuous labor overdue.

But then, finally, she was here. And she was the most beautiful thing I ever laid eyes on.

Now she's almost four.

And she gets more beautiful every day.

Play along with Wordful Wednesday at:

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Batter Up!

Generally when I use the words "Amelia" and "batter" in the same sentence, there's flour, sugar and a recipe involved. But not this time.

We signed Amelia up for t-ball, which starts in June, so Daddy took her out to practice the other evening.

Amelia was very excited when we told her she was going to play t-ball with a group of kids her age.

Then she said, "Mom, what's t-ball?"

I hope Amelia is as enthusiastic about playing as she was about being signed up!

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Handy Hint for Kids' Shoes

Getting shoes on my kids' feet so we can leave the house is a workout in and of itself. To make it even more difficult, each child needs two shoes, preferably the same size. Matching is optional. 

An added complication in our house is identical shoes in different sizes. Isaac wears a 5 1/2. Alex wears a 6W. Sam wears a 6WW. His feet are actually square.

After months of peering at sizes on six little shoes to make pairs and figure out which shoes go on which child, I finally had a brainstorm.

It's so simple that I can't believe I didn't think of it sooner. So here's my handy new time-saving trick: When I take one of my children's shoes off, I fasten the two shoes together so I always have a matching pair. Since most of our shoes have Velcro fasteners, this is super easy. 

Of course, I still have to figure out which shoes go on which child, but at least I always have a pair.

I started doing this with Amelia's shoes, too, and now there's no more hunting for that one missing shoe. For lace up shoes, I tie the laces together and Crocs just get stuffed together. You can do that with rubber shoes!

Now, what to do with the extra 17 1/2 minutes this has added to my week...

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Family Photo By Amelia

Amelia wanted to take some family photos, "because I'm going to be four."

Perhaps we need a taller photographer?

After she took a couple of pictures, we used the timer to capture all of us.

The boys seem a little confused by the fact that there's no one behind the camera.

And just in case you aren't aware how fast time is marching on, how about a comparison with last year?

What a difference a year makes!

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Life As A SAHM: I Really Miss The Shoes

Today I met a couple of friends for lunch and a little shopping. We checked out a new thrift store, and even found a couple of bargains.

All three of us are stay-at-home moms, and we laughed about our "uniform" of t-shirts and jeans. The reality is that practicality has completely trumped style. In fact, what would be most practical for me these days is a Teflon track suit. Everything would slide right off, and I could chase kids comfortably in it.

I went through my closet lately and weeded out clothes that are too big, that I have no place to wear anymore (unless I start wearing suits to do laundry in), and almost everything that needs to be dry cleaned. I kept a few nice things, just in case. And I have vowed to do a better than my usual ratty t-shirts. I bought myself a couple nice t-shirts and tops that are still casual, but wash-and-wear and practical for all the lifting, chasing and wrangling I do every day.

I don't miss getting dressed up every day, but you know what I do miss?

I miss the shoes.

I really miss the shoes.

I miss buying nice shoes to wear to work. I miss cute shoes that were perfect with just a few things in my closet. I miss shoes like these, which I have had for a year and worn exactly twice.

Nowadays my requirement for shoes is that they are comfortable for my 16-hours days and that I can do a 100-yard sprint in them. Tennis shoes, baby. Tennis shoes. And maybe a pair of sandals, but not the cute kind. The athletic-looking kind that can keep up with me and my kids.

Some women mourn the loss of their pre-baby bodies. I mourn the loss of my pre-baby footwear.


It's probably just as well. With what it costs me to put shoes on my kids' feet, cute is no longer in my budget anyway.

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Friday, May 14, 2010

From My Kitchen: Honey-Sesame Grilled Shrimp

Welcome back to my kitchen. I was looking for something super-yummy to share with you since this is the inaugural recipe in my weekly feature.

So I went digging through my recipe box and came across a long-forgotten recipe for these amazing Honey-Sesame Grilled Shrimp. I immediately changed our supper plans and made this dish instead.

The original recipe came from an insert in our Sunday paper probably 10 years ago. It called for uncooked jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined. But I'm lazy, so I buy cooked, tail-off frozen shrimp. That way I get to skip all of the prep work. This dish might be even better with fresh shrimp, but I repeat: I'm lazy. So I guess I'll never know.

While you need 30 minutes to marinate your shrimp, the cooking time is about 5 minutes so you can have this on the table in a flash. Be sure to save the marinade per the directions below.

Don't be tempted to leave out the dash of Tabasco. It doesn't make these shrimp spicy. It just adds a little heat. I've made it both ways (forgetfulness!) and the shrimp are still delish without the heat. 

The original recipe calls for these shrimp to be threaded on skewers, but I only do that if I'm putting them on the grill. Otherwise, I line a baking sheet with parchment paper and throw these little guys on the pan.

Serve these shrimp as a main dish with rice or noodles and a nice spinach salad with mandarin oranges and your favorite Asian dressing or balsamic vinaigrette. Or, serve them on a salad or baked potato. Leftovers are great that way, too. I paired these with artichokes the other night since they are now in season. Yum! 

Here's the recipe:

Honey-Sesame Grilled Sesame Shrimp
2 1/4 pounds uncooked jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (or thaw some cooked, tail-off frozen shrimp)
  1/4 C. Asian sesame oil (any sesame oil will do, really)
  1/4 C. rice wine or dry sherry
  1/4 C. soy sauce (I use low sodium)
  2 Tbsp. honey
  2 cloves garlic, crushed with side of cleaver
  1 tsp. ground ginger
  2 trimmed scallions, white part flattened with side of cleaver (Reserve finely chopped green part for serving)
  1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
  1 tsp. Tabasco sauce
For serving: 1 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds, finely chopped scallion green

Combine marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk until honey dissolves. Stir in shrimp. (Or save yourself some dishes. Throw the ingredients in a large Ziploc bag. Squish things around until the honey dissolves and throw the shrimp in the bag. See? Lazy.) Marinate at least 30 minutes.

If you don't have fresh garlic, you can substitute minced or even dried. I always have a jar of minced garlic in the fridge and that's what I use. Keyword? Lazy.

The original recipe called for fresh ginger, but I don't keep that on hand. Ground ginger and a teaspoon I have. All together now! LAZY.

Trim your scallions. Lay the flat side of your cleaver on the white part and give it a good smack with your hand so the onion splits and the juices run. Chop the green part and reserve for serving.

Toast the sesame seeds by throwing them in a dry skillet on medium heat. Stir them until golden. Watch them closely, because they'll toast quickly!

Preheat grill or broiler to high. Drain shrimp and reserve marinade. I like to cut off the bottom corner of my Ziploc so I can pour the marinade in the pan while the shrimp stay in the bag. Boil marinade until thick and syrupy, about 4 minutes.

Thread shrimp on skewers or toss on a parchment-paper-covered baking sheet. Grill/broil until cooked (or heated) through, about 2 minutes per side, basting with marinade if you'd like. Don't overcook, or your shrimp will get tough. They'll still taste delicious, but more like dog chews than tender shrimp.

Sprinkle with scallions and sesame seeds before serving. You can serve any leftover marinade as well.


© Trippin' Mama 2010

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Writer's Workshop: The Mystery of the Missing Shoes

"Christy, I can't find my shoes. Have you seen my shoes?" Peter said.

"I haven't seen them. Are you sure you were wearing shoes when you got here?" I answered.

"Ummmm. I think so."

Peter and I and our 23 classmates had just completed our Master's degrees in International Conflict Analysis at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England. It was a two-year degree crammed into one year, and we had worked our tail feathers off. Seriously.

Ours was one of the brightest classes the University had ever seen. More than 20 percent of us graduated with distinction. Typically, that number would be less than 10 percent.

Though you'd never know it from the way we celebrated at our graduation party.

Much like we had at our Thanksgiving party, we drank. A lot. Enough that shoes disappeared and their very existence was questioned.

I recall making Pimm's with something called "light, white mixing spirits." It was grain alcohol, pure and simple. And that stuff did not go down smoothly, let me tell you. But it went down. As did the wine, the margaritas (warm, no rocks, because we were in England and apparently ice is more valuable than gold there), the beer, and probably a few other things I don't exactly remember.

The weather was gorgeous and we were outside. At some point most of us removed our shoes. And at the end of the party most of us were hunting through the bushes for Peter's shoes. I'm sure our professors regretted granting a few of our degrees with distinction as they watched us.

Many of my classmates have gone on to do brilliant things. (Of course, only one of us went on to do brilliant things AND had triplets!)

Peter is in the midst of a very distinguished academic career. Kristen has done some amazing work at a couple different embassies. Every time I reconnect with Amanda she's in a different part of the world solving problems. Elisabeth and Ananda both work for the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo.

A brilliant group indeed.

But we never did find Peter's shoes.

Play along with Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop. This week's prompt was to tell about a time you found yourself barefoot, but we writers are allowed a little creative license, no?

Mama's Losin' It

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wordful Wednesday: A Chicken Leg?

The other night I roasted a chicken. And Amelia had a drumstick for the first time.

She was all about that drumstick. Which was surprising, because she rarely wants to eat anything. Apparently we've been feeding her the wrong thing!

While she was eating she asked how I made that chicken. I didn't think she wanted my recipe, so I told her I just put it in the oven and cooked it. Then she asked how I "put the bone in there."


I told her I didn't. The chicken has a bone in its leg just like she has a bone in her leg. And I touched her shin to demonstrate.

A look of surprise crossed her face. "You mean this is a chicken leg?"


"Yes, honey. It's a chicken leg."

I braced myself for a fit or tears or a declaration of vegetarianism by my almost four year old.

Amelia looked at me and shrugged. "Well it's good, Mom."

Play along with Wordful Wednesday at:

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Try Not to Blink

The other day my brother Dave left the following comment on my post A Few of My Favorite Things:

"I would have to say that one of my favorite things is Chivas Regal with just a splash of water. If I had to chase triplets around this would not be a favorite thing, it would be a requirement. The boys are getting so big so fast but trust me, blink your eyes and they will all be off to college."

It was one of those comments that made me laugh and nod my head at the same time.

Because it is so true. Every word of it. (Well, except I prefer a nice glass of wine to the Chivas Regal.)

Becoming a parent throws a person into some kind of weird space-time continuum where the days can seem endless but the years pass in a flash.

One minute you are up at all hours feeding an infant and desperately wishing the child would sleep through the night. Then you blink and she's four. (Well, almost.)

It all goes too fast. And the only solution is not to blink.

Warm, sweaty heads snuggled on your shoulder. Knee hugs. Bedtime stories.

Don't blink.

Small hands that hold tight to your fingers. Footie pajamas. Ticklefests.

Don't blink.

Silly jokes. Happy cries of "Daddy, Daddy," when he comes home. Answering "Why?"

Don't blink.

Little voices. Early morning chatter from the nursery. Lullabies.




© Trippin' Mama 2010

Monday, May 10, 2010

Introducing Houdini

Alex has turned into a real Houdini of late. He can wiggle his way out of almost anything.

Five-point car seat harness? No problem. Shoulder straps on the stroller? Piece of cake. Shirts? Easy.

Alex can undo the zipper on his coat in a flash, and I can't keep shoes on him. I swear his ankles are made of rubber. He can take off his pants, and his diaper, of course. That's why he always wears a onesie, though he knows how to pop it open. At least it slows him down enough for me to catch him in the act.

But the other morning when I went to get him up I found this:

These pajamas were still fully zipped, and they BUTTON at the top instead of snap. I thought they were Alex-proof. Clearly, I was wrong. I still don't know how he got one arm out.

Toga party anyone?
© Trippin' Mama 2010

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Not-Quite-Perfect Mother's Day Video

If you are a long-time reader you might remember that last year on Mother's Day I flew home from my brother's wedding. I arrived home after the kids were all in bed and found this video posted on my blog. 

So this year Jeff tried again. Things didn't go according to his plan, but I think this attempt turned out just perfect. Amelia is valiantly doing what she's been asked to do despite what happens around her. Sam is parroting Amelia. Isaac is disinterested, and Alex is taking the place apart.

Perfectly perfect.

I hope all of you remembered your moms today!

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Trio Turns 19 Months Old

Today Sam, Isaac and Alex are 19 months old. They are busy, busy, busy and growing like weeds!

Sam, Isaac and Alex at 19 months old
Here's the update on everyone:

Sam still has his curls, even after his first haircut. He's been showing a lot of temper lately, and it makes me laugh when he has a temper tantrum. He stomps his feet and wails then takes a few stomping steps before he flings himself to the ground. Fortunately, Sam's tantrums rarely last long, and he makes up for them by being the best snuggler of the group.

Sam is the most verbal of the boys, but his brothers are catching up fast. He will repeat anything you say, and often hauls out the "I bad. I bad." that Aunt Judy taught him at Easter. He now sings the opening of the theme to "Elmo's World." It's even recognizable! All three of the boys are big into Elmo right now.

Sam is still attached to his baby, and continues to take a baby doll to bed at night. When he doesn't want to go to bed, he will throw Baby to the floor and say "No bed." That's easy to understand!

Isaac is pretty even-keeled, but has shown us some dramatics lately. He is definitely a mama's boy, and does not like it at all when I leave. He can turn on the waterworks, which is something his brothers rarely do. Sam and Alex might pitch a fit, but Isaac will have tears running down his face. Isaac warms up more slowly to strangers than his brothers, but once you're in with him you're in for life!

Isaac recently learned to say "Sammy." He is the only one who says it. He still calls Alex "Ah," and he and his brothers are all pretty good at saying Amelia's name. Some of Isaac's favorite words right now are: shoes, socks, and outside. See the theme there?

All of the boys like music, but Isaac is usually the first to start dancing. If he's in the high chair he grooves with his shoulders. Another new favorite move is to jump up and down until he falls down. And then he laughs.

Alex continues to be one of the smilingest kids on the planet...when he's not furiously mad about something! Thankfully his temper tantrums are pretty rare these days, and the intensity has tapered off considerably. He no longer bangs his head on the floor. He'll still lie down and wail like the world is ending, but he's learned not to smack his head, which makes his tantrums much easier for me to deal with.

Alex probably talks the least, but he's got charm galore. He flashes that big smile and loves to wave at everyone who drives by the house. I call him "Miss America" because he rides in the front of the stroller and gives a very pageant-approved wave and grin to every person we see.

After all our battles on the sleep front, Alex currently is the best sleeper. He rarely protests going night-night, and has started to say "bye-bye" very quietly when we leave the room after we lay him down. Alex no longer needs any physical therapy, and we now just watch him for signs that he needs to a craniosacral massage session for a tune-up.

Alex has become a bit of a hoarder. If there are three pacis in the room, he wants all three. If there are six pieces of sidewalk chalk out (one for each hand x 3 boys) he wants all six. If there are 15 pieces of sidewalk chalk out he wants all 15. I often find him walking around the playroom with an armful of trucks or puzzle pieces or stuffed animals or whatever he's decided to collect that day.

Of course, all of the boys still love to climb. It's their way of keeping me on my toes. They love the bath so much that we are spelling the word, but I think they are on to us. It doesn't help that Amelia usually says the word after we spell it! They love to be outside playing with their balls and ride-on toys, digging in the dirt, playing peek-a-boo through the playhouse windows, learning to use the big-kid swings and trekking over to the neighbor's yard to see if their puppy is out. (Thankfully the puppy is in a fenced-in area. Otherwise my four would probably maul the poor thing to death.)

We are so fortunate to have three healthy, happy, exuberant boys running around here. I can't believe they are 19 months old already, and that their sister will be four in two weeks!
© Trippin' Mama 2010

Friday, May 7, 2010

Introducing: From My Kitchen

I love to feed people. I take after my maternal grandmother that way. She was infamous for feeding everyone who came near her house, including the UPS guy.

My husband tells the story about the time he stopped on his way home from his summer internship. My grandma was just leaving the house to go to a funeral, but when that hungry college boy appeared she went back into the house and made him a couple of eggs -- despite his protests -- before rushing off to the church.

Since I can't get all of you around my kitchen table, sharing my favorite recipes is the next best thing. So, I am pleased to introduce a new page here on Trippin'.

From My Kitchen houses links to all of the recipes I've posted so far. And I will continue to add to it on a regular basis with new recipe posts on Fridays. Maybe I'll give you something new to try over the weekend. I've got a couple months of weekly recipe posts ready to go, and if you like this new feature I'll keep it.

I've put a button that will take you to the From My Kitchen page over there at the top of the left-hand column of the blog. Anytime you get hungry, just stop on by! (And please, let me know what you think.)

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mommy Guilt Begone

Tonight was my monthly Moms' Night Out. MNOs are sacrosanct in my house. Because sometimes mama just needs a break.

Jeff is probably almost as committed to getting me out of the house as I am. Thankfully he is very understanding about how important it is for me to go out and socialize and not be mom for a while. (Even if we mostly talk about our kids!)

Tonight when I left Jeff was holding two crying children: Isaac and Amelia. Even though Isaac tends to be a bit of a mama's boy, his real problem was that he was tired and just needed to go to bed. Amelia, though, took my departure very hard tonight. 

She and I talked about my going out tonight in the car on the way home from preschool. She told me she didn't want me to go. I told her that she got to go to preschool and see her friends, and mommy needed to go see her friends sometimes, too. Amelia seemed to accept that and be OK with it.

Apparently after I left Amelia cried a bit, got over it, but then really melted down on Jeff later.

My gift to myself is not to feel guilty about that. Amelia is four. She will never remember this. She will probably be over it by tomorrow morning.

I refuse to even feel guilty that Jeff had a rough time dealing with her. He's 38. He can handle it.

Because you know what? This mom gig is tough enough without carrying around a load of mommy guilt all the time.

So I'm choosing to leave that burden by the side of the road tonight. I'm sure this won't be the last time I have to deliberately set down my mommy guilt and walk away from it.

But it would be a good habit to get into.

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Wordful Wednesday Recipe

Three boys + three spoons

+ dirt



But not great-tasting fun!

Play along with Wordful Wednesday over at:

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Creamy Chicken Broccoli Casserole

After the boys were born many, many people brought us meals. This chicken and broccoli casserole was one of the best, and became an instant favorite in our house. Now's a great time to make it. The weather's still cool enough to turn on the oven, and broccoli's in season so it's cheap.

Beware that this recipe makes a TON! I usually cut it in half and it still makes a good-sized 9x13 casserole. The original recipe said to layer all the ingredients, but I don't layer it. I just dump everything in the pan and stir it up then top it all with the parmesan cheese.

This freezes really well, but it sometimes separates a bit because of the cream cheese so you may need to stir it part way through the cooking time. I sometimes make two pans and freeze the second in individual portions (I use mini loaf pans) so Jeff can easily grab one to take for lunch.

Here's the recipe:
Creamy Chicken Broccoli Casserole
6 breast halves (boneless/skinless)
2 - 10 oz. boxes broccoli cuts
2 C. milk
2 - 8 oz. cream cheese (NOT 1/3 fat or fat free)
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. garlic salt
1 1/2 C. grated parmesan cheese
1 C. French-fried onion rings

Cook the chicken and cut into pieces. I like to poach mine in a skillet, but you could bake it, too. And since you dice the chicken in the end, you can use split breasts. They are cheaper and the end result is the same.

Cook and drain the broccoli.

In a saucepan, heat the milk, cream cheese, garlic salt, salt and 3/4 C. of the parmesan cheese. Stir until smooth.

In a greased 9 x 13 baking dish stir together all of the ingredients and top with the remaining 3/4 C. parmesan cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees, UNCOVERED, for 30-45 minutes or until it sets up. Plan on 45 minutes if you make your casserole in advance and refrigerate it or if you are cooking a thawed casserole that's still cold. You don't want it soupy.


© Trippin' Mama 2010

Monday, May 3, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things

Thought I'd share a few of my favorite things today just for fun. So, how's five for a few? Here we go:

1. Debbie Meyer Green Bags
My sister Mary recommended these, and I must admit that at first I laughed. After all, she famously bought the Ginsu knife off the infomercial years ago. But I got tired of throwing out produce that we didn't eat fast enough. And tired of eating an extra banana or more berries than I wanted so they wouldn't go bad.

So I gave in and bought them. My local CVS carries them for just $5 for 20. The grocery store charges $10 for the same number. I've also heard that the bags are even cheaper at Big Lots if you have one near you.

These bags really deliver what they promise. Our produce lasts much longer. The directions tell you to wipe out the bag if moisture collects inside, but I just turn the bag inside out and stick the produce back in it. You can rinse and reuse the bags about 6-7 times before they lose their effectiveness.

Originally I bought them to keep bananas fresh, but now that my monkeys can eat 18 bananas in 48 hours, that's not necessary. But I can keep avocados for a full week, Costco-sized tubs of blueberries for almost two weeks (though they rarely last that long now that the boys are bigger), and cut bell peppers for a good 9-10 days.

Green bags are definitely worth the money. And I no longer have to deal with rotten produce. Which is good, because I have enough icky things to deal with in any given day!

2. Briannas brand salad dressings
I must admit I've become addicted to these dressings. It all started when a friend brought dinner and included with the salad was a bottle of Briannas Real French Vinaigrette. We loved it.

Then recently I was looking for something to put on a salad with avocado and some tortilla strips and the Chipotle Cheddar jumped out at me. And oh yum! It's also delicious as a dip for sweet potato fries. I'm planning to make a southwestern pasta salad with it sometime soon. If it turns out, I'll share the recipe.

At the suggestion of a friend I also bought a bottle of Briannas Ginger Mandarin to try on my Fruit and Broccoli Slaw. I still love the Marzetti's Ginger Mango on this salad, but the Briannas runs a veeery tight second.

3. Olay Regenerist Anti-Aging Eye Roller
My sisters recommended Olay Regenerist's eye cream, but when I went to buy it I found this on sale. It's a pretty new product. I love it. I've been using it semi-regularly for about a month and I have noticed an improvement in the fine lines around my eyes. And while I rarely take a full 30 seconds per eye to do the roller massage, what little I can squeeze in sure feels great. I've used Olay products for years, and also use their Regenerist Regenerating Serum at night (love the fragrance free option!) and their Olay Complete daily moisturizer with sunscreen.

4. Spray-on sunscreen
Right now we're using Banana Boats Kids in SPF 50. (Yes, 50.) Have you seen how white my kids are?) I bought Banana Boat because it was on sale, but it's not the brand so much as it is the concept. I usually just spray some into the palm of my hand before attacking the kids with it. The spray is lighter and rubs in much easier than lotion, and it's non-greasy, too.

5. Gold Bond Ultimate lotions
 I first bought a bottle of Gold Bond Ultimate lotion when the triplets were tiny. Between washing my hands after diaper changes and before feedings, using hand sanitizer constantly, and trying to keep up with bottle washing in a sink of scalding hot water, not to mention winter weather, my hands cracked and bled. Nothing I tried worked all that well. Then I picked this up. Probably because I had a coupon.

It is amazing. I used the healing lotion and within a week my hands were soft and supple again. The lotion wasn't greasy, rubbed in easily, but seemed to last through the next couple hand washings.

Then I used it on Sam. He was plagued with some stubborn red, scaly patches of skin when he was really small. It wasn't exactly eczema, but similar. The pediatrician said that we could use a little cortisone cream if absolutely necessary, but to keep it to a minimum because he was so young. No need. Gold Bond Ultimate cleared those patches in no time flat. We still use it on Sam when he gets a flare-up, and it works every time.

How about you? What are a few of your favorite things?

Note: This is just stuff I use and like. No one has given me anything (so sad!) in exchange for this post. However I'm open to being showered with goodies for being a happy customer! :-) 

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Watch Out Phil Mickelson

On Thursday Jeff golfed so the boys and I picked Amelia up from preschool. She asked why I picked her up instead of Daddy, so I told her that he was golfing.

She thought about that for a minute, then said, very seriously, "When we get home can we watch that golf play on TV? Because if my daddy is on, I want to watch him."

This confirms that we watch too many sports on TV in our house.

I assured her that Daddy would not be golfing on TV. But it sure was sweet of her to think that he might be.

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Her Little Ponies

It all started innocently enough. I fondly recalled My Little Pony from my childhood, though I was a little too old for them when Hasbro first unleashed them on unsuspecting parents.

So I bought one little DVD. It was marginally annoying, but had a good message and Amelia loved the pony stories.

Then it snowballed into this:

And those are just the ponies, not the accessories!

Now my poor brain has been forced to memorize a multitude of pony names and remember which name goes with which pony.

Sadly I have no one to blame but myself. I bought Amelia a My Little Pony for Christmas. It came in a backpack and had a picnic basket and some other little goodies. I reasoned that she would keep it in her room because of the brothers.

I was delusional.

Her grandparents added to her joy by giving her the My Little Pony hair salon with three little ponies and a variety of hairstyles, rubber skirts (at least those don't hurt when you step on them), a salon chair, some teeny-tiny scissors and a sink and mirror.

Amelia's pretty good about keeping all the little pieces under control, but the ponies themselves are running amok.

The other day I opened one of my cupboards and found that the ponies had moved in.

When I tried to move them out, Amelia said, "But, Mom! They need a place to stay that's warm and dry." I muttered something under my breath about having 2000 square feet of my house, then persuaded her that her dollhouse would do nicely.

A couple days later I found Amelia giving the ponies a bath in the sink. She used about a cup of strawberry shampoo. My bathroom hasn't smelled that nice in a long time!

Oh well, as long as they don't poop in my house, I guess the whole herd can stay.

© Trippin' Mama 2010