Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wordful Wednesday: Brothers

They are brothers.

They share a birthday.

And a room.

And sometimes, even a too-small couch.

Alex, Sam and Isaac

But each is very much his own person!

Play along with Wordful Wednesday at:

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Escape Artist Is at It Again

Remember Alex's Houdini act with his pajamas?

Well, it turns out he's perfected it.

This is what we found the other morning when we went to get the boys up. Alex was in the crib, and his pajamas were on the floor. Thankfully he left his diaper on.

Here was his explanation for what happened:

From now on we'll be using a safety pin on the zipper of Alex's pajamas before bedtime!

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sunday Morning Mommy Guilt

On Sunday morning I was rushing, again, to get Amelia to Sunday school on time. One of these weeks I'm going to get the Sunday morning routine figured out.

Anyway, Amelia and I were almost to the church when she started talking about milk and how much she loved milk. In fact, she told me that she loved it so much she wanted to have a house full of milk so she could drink it all up with a straw.

And that's when I realized I had rushed her out the door with no breakfast. No banana, no granola bar, not even a lousy cup of milk for the car.

Uh oh.

Amelia kept chattering about milk and I held my breath as we pulled into the parking lot. I was just waiting for her to ask me for her milk, and bracing for the meltdown that was likely to ensue.

I hustled her out of the car and to her classroom, partly so she wouldn't be late, and partly because I was hoping she wouldn't realize her mommy forgot to give her anything to eat or drink that morning.

After Mass I took Amelia to the church hall to buy her a doughnut and milk, something we've never done before. As we stood in line with our goodies she piped up, "Mom, are these for the kids who didn't get breakfast?"

Ouch. Nothing like a good dose of Mommy guilt to get your week off to a great start, is there?

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Fifteen Pounds of Apples a Day

Today was apple picking day. We headed out to a local orchard for some family fun and fresh apples.

All of the kids loved picking the apples. At first the boys wanted to pick apples up off the ground. Then they wanted to toss freshly-picked apples on the ground so they could pick another off the tree.

Once we told them to put the apples in the basket they did pretty well following directions, though they were a little rough. They chucked the apples like they were throwing a ball, so Jeff guarded our basket and served as designated catcher.

We also had a small issue with a certain redhead wanting to sample every apple he pulled off the tree.

More than half the apples I used to make pie this afternoon had already been through Sam's rigorous taste test. And he did a fine job. That pie was delicious!

Everyone enjoyed the fruits of our labors by sampling a fresh Golden Delicious apple.

Once we had our basket full of 15 pounds of apples, (which doesn't take long with four great helpers!), we headed home.

Amelia and I rolled up our sleeves and started with an apple pie. It was the first of several things I'll be making, and it was definitely worth the effort of chasing four kids through an apple orchard!

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

From My Kitchen: Molasses Cookies

These cookies were a staple at our house when I was growing up. We had them year round, but I think they are perfect for these cooler fall days.

Beware: This recipe makes a ton. As in ten dozen cookies. Did I mention I was one of eight kids? My mom made 10-12 dozen cookies at least once a week, and she couldn't keep the cookie jar full. If you aren't feeding a crowd, these cookies freeze really well.

I make these cookie chewy, though they are equally delicious if they are a little crunchy. The trick to keeping them chewy is to add just enough flour to make the dough stiff enough to roll into balls. And, of course, be careful not to overbake the cookies. I stick to the recommended 8 minutes, or even a minute less.

Here's the recipe:

Molasses Cookies
2 1/4 C. Crisco shortening
3 C. brown sugar
3 eggs
3/4 C. molasses
6 3/4 - 7 3/4 C. flour
3/4 tsp. salt
6 tsp. soda
1 1/2 tsp. cloves
3 tsp. cinnamon
3 tsp. ginger

Cream the shortening and the sugar. Add eggs and beat until smooth and creamy. Mix in molasses, salt, soda, cloves, cinnamon and ginger. Add the flour one cup at a time, beating thoroughly to incorporate. You may not need all of the flour. Add flour until your dough is stiff enough to be rolled into balls.

You can chill the dough for 15 minutes if it's a little soft. Roll the dough into balls. Roll the balls in sugar and place on baking sheets and flatten. My mom had a nifty little cookie press, but you can use the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar. I have a glass with a pretty star on the bottom that I use. Or you can always smash  the balls in a crisscross pattern with a fork.

Serve these soft, chewy molasses cookies with a glass of apple cider and you've got the perfect fall treat!


© Trippin' Mama 2010

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Minivan Mama

When we bought the world's sexiest minivan I had no idea the effect it would have on other drivers.

Specifically, drivers under 26 and men. Especially men under 26.

Most of them can't stand to have a minivan pass them. Ever.

I've seen 18-year-olds driving falling-apart Hondas that are older than they are floor it in a desperate attempt to avoid eating my dust. And you should see the effort they put in once they see that I have a triple stroller strapped to the back. NASCAR's got nothing on these guys!

But the guy in the SmartCar? C'mon, buddy! You bought half a car. What did you expect? In most countries they call that thing a rickshaw.

I might drive a minivan, but at least my vehicle came with an engine.

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

Things My Triplets Taught Me: It's Not About The Money

When we were preparing for the triplets' birth, we knew we were in for some major expenses. But we are practical people. And cheap. Some things were non-negotiable. We didn't have a vehicle large enough for everyone. And we didn't have a triple stroller. Or enough high chairs. And then there were diaper costs looming large. Not to mention the loss of my income and potential health care costs. Just thinking about it almost overwhelms me now, more than two years later! 

So we bargain shopped. We borrowed baby equipment from friends. We searched out secondhand clothes and cribs.

Which brings me to our nursery. This is no room from the pages of Pottery Barn. It's not perfectly coordinated. None of the cribs match. There's nary a crib skirt in sight. You could call it eclectic. Or you could call it inexpensive, which it was.

If we had all the money in the world I might have turned out an adorable, coordinated room full of expensive cribs. But we don't. And we HAD to buy a van and a triple stroller, so we had to pinch some pennies. Plus I'm just really practical. And cheap.

I did the whole expensive crib (it's the cherry convertible one in the picture below), coordinated nursery thing for Amelia. Her favorite part is the $30 secondhand rocking chair, because that's where we spend some quiet time together before bed. Heaven knows Amelia never slept in her crib enough for us to get our money's worth out of it!
I must confess I folded up the boys' blankets neatly for this photo.
Usually they get tossed over the edge any old which way.

When we found out we were expecting triplets, I figured the transportation was mission critical, and the cute nursery was nice but not necessary. I still tell expectant parents of multiples to put their money in transportation -- especially strollers -- not in their nursery which no one will really see and the kids will never remember. A good stroller is worth its weight in gold!

We were lucky enough to score three cribs and two changing tables on Craig's List. Someone was closing a home daycare center. When Jeff showed up and said we were thrilled to find it because we were expecting triplets, she sold it all to him for the bargain price of $100. We did have to buy three crib mattresses and two changing table pads to go with it, but our investment in furniture was pretty minor. Nothing matched, and I considered having it all painted white, but then decided that it just didn't matter.

I had wonderful helpers who repainted an old dresser and applied some peel and stick wall paper border to the drawer fronts to create a cute chest of drawers. And my sister bought us a bargain rocking chair at a thrift store.

The jungle theme was inspired by some cute monkey fabric I found for the curtains. Perhaps subconsciously I knew I was having three boys who would climb like monkeys?

Even though it's not perfectly coordinated and it would never make the pages of Pottery Barn or Land of Nod, our nursery still turned out cute and functional. It didn't break the bank, and you know what? The boys don't know any differently, nor do they care.

This is the room where they get rockabyes before bedtime. It the place where we have pre-bedtime parties with their big sister and sit on the floor to read books. It is the place where the boys fall asleep after partying in their cribs, and where they wake up to chat with their brothers before we come in smiling to greet them every morning. It is home to their blankies and lovies.

Despite the mismatched cribs and secondhand furniture, the boys' room is both comfortable and comforting. That is what is important. That is what they will remember.

And that didn't cost a dime.
© Trippin' Mama 2010

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sweat Equity

Whew! The big kids' clothing sale is over. I thought I was tired Thursday night, but that was nothing compared to Saturday.

This year I helped worked at the sale so I could bring home 100% of my sales instead of 80%. My shift started at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, but I left the house at 6:15 so I could help a triplet-dad-to-be shop early at 7 a.m. My shift was 10:30 to finish, and finish was a loooong ways from 10:30 a.m.

The sale ended at noon, but then the volunteers had to sort through all the clothes that were left and organize them by seller number so consigners could pick them up. There were 171 consigners and not nearly enough volunteers. It took three hours to get everything off the racks and sorted into piles.

And that was just the clothes. Another group of volunteers sorted through all the toys and equipment.

When that was done we had to disassemble the racks and tables, load them on trucks, bag up the donations and load those and generally make it look like we'd never been there. It was a TON of work.

After sorting through thousands of items of clothes I came home never wanting to look at another piece of children's clothing again. Unfortunately, since I live with a number of small children who don't do laundry yet (slackers!) I have had to look at and handle a lot of kids' clothes in the past 24 hours.

I figure I sold about 75% of what I took to the sale. I am very happy with that. And Jeff and I got some great bargains on toys and a few clothes. The boys didn't need much thanks to hand-me-downs. I have to wait a couple weeks for my check, and since we didn't spend much I'm hoping to make a little money this time around.

Although breaking even wouldn't be bad either.

I haven't decided yet if getting an additional 20% is really worth all that time and effort. I'll decide that when I get my check!

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010


I would blog, but I'm worn out.

We've spent every evening for more than a week getting everything ready for the upcoming kids' clothing and equipment sale. We are done. Yay!

It's all packed up and ready to be dropped off tomorrow. Here's hoping we don't have to bring much of it home.

So if you'll excuse me, I'm going to follow this guy's lead:

Can you see the Sleeping Giant? The slope on the left is his chest, and the large peak is his nose. He rests eternally in the mountains near Helena, MT.

I envy him.

Night all!

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wordful Wednesday: Flamingos and Chocolate Nachos

My sister Mary was looking for a place for us to eat out while we were visiting for Girls' Weekend. She had a choice of good steakhouses and nice Italian places, but wanted to try something new.

So she asked around for a recommendation.

One of her employees told her that we just had to try the Flamingo, and we had to get the chocolate nachos.

It was a ways out of town, but Marlene highly recommended it, and Mary was sold on the idea of chocolate nachos, so off we went down Montana's backroads. Mary hadn't asked any questions about the place, so we speculated it was probably a typical all-American restaurant with burgers, pasta chicken etc...

We did not expect this:

No, your eyes do not deceive you. That's a shack and an old school bus painted pink. Also known as the Flamingo Restaurant and Lounge.

Just to clarify, here's the restaurant:

And here's the lounge:

Ha! We laughed and laughed. It was definitely not what we were expecting, but it sure was a lot of fun.

You've got to admit, the lounge is pretty cool, really, though it was full of spiderwebs and hot, so we opted for the fresh-air seating instead. Doesn't this pink Quonset hut just scream atmosphere?

 I'd say the joke was on us, but the food was fantastic, and it definitely was all-American. And those chocolate nachos? So good that the only picture I got was after we'd eaten half of the basket.

These were seriously good. Warm, crunchy flour tortilla chips sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, drizzled with chocolate and served with vanilla ice cream for dipping. Yum!

In the end the Flamingo got a good laugh and thumbs up all the way around.

Play along with Wordful Wednesday at:

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

My Second Career: Retail Management

I'd love to tell you that it's all the fun we've been having that's been keeping me from posting lately. Sadly, that's not true.

Yes, I did enjoy a few hours away with some fellow triplet mommies on Sunday. And we managed to successfully navigate Amelia's first Sunday school class, the nursery for the boys (Sam only cried half the time this time around), and church for Jeff, Amelia and me. But much of the rest of the weekend and last week and this week had revolved around the kids' clothes.

I had no idea how much time managing my kids' clothes was going to take!

There's a local kids' stuff sale coming up, and I'm selling so we don't wind up buried in piles of children's clothes, so that's been my motivation.

First I went through drawers and closets to weed out what no longer fits. Then the boys had a little style show so I could see if their snow pants and winter coats from last year still fit. Alex wanted to keep his snow pants on. Whatever. It was 75 degrees in the house, but he was happy. Sweaty, but happy.

Then I went through bins and Spacebags of clothes in the next sizes up that I had sorted and stored previously.

Then I pulled out things that I set aside in the spring to sell at the fall sale because they are seasonal.

Then there's all the hanging, tagging, sorting by size, pricing... My living room looks like Wal-Mart right now, minus all of the odd people.

But I had a great sale when I did this in the spring. Because the kids don't need much in the way of clothes this time around I'm hoping to make a little money instead of just breaking even. Jeff and I will be looking for birthday and Christmas presents though, so that might offset the earnings a bit.

Surely managing the closets of four little people who are outgrowing things at an alarming rate gives me some kind of skill to add to my resume, right?

The sale is this Saturday, so if you need me before then just look under the nearest pile of clothes.

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

From My Kitchen: Super Sloppy Joes

This recipe originally came from Rachael Ray. I've made a few changes to suit our tastes -- most notably eliminating one small chopped red bell pepper for the WBH, who does NOT like peppers.
While this is a 30-minute meal, I found that simmering the sloppy joes a little longer helps them set up a bit and not be so "sloppy."

I often double or triple this recipe so I have some to put in the freezer. I freeze the sloppy joes in my muffin tin then pop them out and put them in a Ziploc freezer bag so it's easy to grab just the right amount to make as many as we want. It also makes it easy for Jeff to grab one to put in his lunch bag, too.

Here's the recipe:

Super Sloppy Joes
1 1/4 pounds ground beef, 80% lean
1/4 C. brown sugar
1-2 tablespoons McCormick's Montreal steak seasoning blend
1 medium onion, chopped
(optional, 1 small red bell pepper, chopped)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 C. tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste

Brown the ground beef. Drain. Return to the pan with brown sugar and steak seasoning. Add onion and red peppers, if using, to the pan. Reduce heat to medium and cook onions, peppers, red wine vinegar and Worcestershire sauce with meat for 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce and paste to pan. Stir to combine. Reduce heat to simmer and cook sloppy joe mixture at least 5 minutes or until it's as sloppy or unsloppy as you like it. I usually simmer mine for 10-15 minutes.  

Serve on buttered, toasted buns with your favorite toppings.

Perfect for the coming cool fall weather and for tailgating.


© Trippin' Mama 2010

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Who Gave These Kids Permission To Grow Up?

I was only gone a few days, but I swear to you the kids grew like I was gone for a month!

I came home to find Amelia an inch taller and three years older than the four-year-old little girl I left behind.

Amelia - 4 going on 14

And the boys! The boys are 23 months old today. And over the long weekend Isaac quit saying "Aler" instead of "Alex," and Sam starting saying "I-zic" instead of "I-gic." What? Who said that it was OK for them to grow up at all, let alone when my back was turned?




Of course, there are pluses to them growing up. Being fully potty and sleeping past 6 a.m. come immediately to mind.

Note: These photos were taken at our local JC Penney's studio. Didn't they do a great job?
© Trippin' Mama 2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I Think I Have The Bends

After five days of being gone, re-entry was a little tough. I quickly got used to nine hours of sleep a night and a hot shower and quiet breakfast every morning.

When I got home from the airport, I was greeted one. Yep. That's right. No one was home. The house was completely quiet. Jeff had all the kids at the children's museum, and I made it home before they did.

While I waited for the troops to return, I dived right back in. I made beds, put away laundry, emptied the dishwasher, swept the kitchen floor and started planning supper.

It was no different than returning to my paying job following a vacation. Someone took care of the critical things (and the kids had a blast with Daddy while I was gone!), but there was still some catching up to do.

After a few days of relaxation, the everyday pace around here just kicked my butt today. Maybe I really do have the bends?

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Perfect Storm

I'm have a great few days with my mom and my sisters while Jeff keeps the home fires burning.

My niece Elyse, Judy, Mary, Mom & me at the Flamingo. (That's a story for another post!)

But I can't say it's all been relaxing. Take, for example, today's scenic boat tour of the Gates of the Mountains on the Missouri. We had a little weather issue:

The pilot, Captain Kyle, did a great job of trying to minimize the wind damage to the boat and the danger to his passengers. I took the video right after all the wind started. It lasted about five minutes, and we did start to worry a little when the metal frame holding up the "roof" started to pull away from the wooden boat frame and the whole roof was pushed to one side of the boat.

 Captain Kyle said it was one of his "most interesting" tours ever. And he's been doing this for a long time.

If that doesn't call for a margarita, I don't know what does!

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Friday, September 3, 2010

From My Kitchen: Chocolate Trifle

So I got a frantic text the other day from a friend (Hi, Sarah!) who needed "to make something rich, chocolatey and gooey immediately!"

Turns out she was looking for something different to make for a grown-up birthday celebration. I knew I had the perfect recipe for her when I remembered this decadent treat with its layers of Kahlua-soaked brownies, chocolate pudding, toffee bits and whipped cream.

I first had this chocolate trifle at an adults-only Christmas party for our local triplets and more group. It was unbelievable! And beautiful, too. At least until a small horde of us descended on it and devoured it. It was so good it actually drew us away from the drinks table for a few minutes.

Plus, it's fast and easy to make, which is always a bonus for me. If you're really short on time you could purchase brownies instead of making them.

Here's the recipe:

Chocolate Trifle
(1) 19.8 oz. package fudge brownie mix
1/4 C. Kahlua
(3) 3.9 oz. packages instant chocolate pudding mix
12 oz. Cool Whip, thawed
1 bag Heath chocolate covered toffee bits

Prepare brownie mix and bake according to package instructions in a 13" x 9" pan. Prick top of warm brownies using a fork and drizzle with Kahlua. You can substitute 1/4 C. of coffee for the Kahlua if you prefer, or if you're serving for all ages. Let the brownies cool, then crumble.

Prepare pudding mix according to package instructions, but DO NOT chill.

To assemble the trifle, place 1/3 of crumbled brownies in bottom of 3-quart trifle dish or glass bowl. Top with 1/3 of pudding, 1/3 of Cool Whip and sprinkle with Heath bits. Repeat layers with remaining ingredients in this order twice, ending with Heath bits on top.

The original recipe says to chill for 8 hours, but I have found that 2 is sufficient in a pinch. You just need enough time for the pudding to set up. The recipe also says it yields 16-18 servings, but that's only if I'm not around to help you eat it!


© Trippin' Mama 2010

Thursday, September 2, 2010

If You Can't Say Anything Nice

As a mom of triplets you get pretty used to lots of comments. Some nice, some not-so-nice, some far too personal, and some downright rude. I ignore most of the ones that are anything other than nice, but last week I had one I just couldn't ignore.

I was taking the kids to the library and had the boys in the triple stroller. As we wheeled in, some lady looked at me and said, "Oh, thank you, GOD!" As in, "Thank God that's not me."

I looked right at her, smiled and said, "Funny, I say the same thing every day. But in a much nicer tone."

As we walked away, Amelia piped up, "What was she thanking God for Mommy?" I sure hope she heard my precious four-year-old ask that question so earnestly and innocently.

I told Amelia she was thanking God for blessing Mommy with four beautiful children. Because He deserves all the thanks in the world for that, whether that was what our commentor intended or not!

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wordful Wednesday: Triplets AND Twins

Don't worry, we're not multiplying any further!

Today is Clare and Isabel's second birthday. They are just 5 weeks older than our boys, which meant there were a whole lot of babies when we got together last summer.

Clockwise from top: Isaac, Clare, Isabel, Sam and Alex. Ages 9 and 10 months.

What a cute group of cousins!

It's a baby lineup!

Happy birthday, Clare and Isabel! Hope to see you again soon.

Play along with Wordful Wednesday at:

© Trippin' Mama 2010