Routines in the White House :: Transportation

One of the first things we knew we needed to address after finding out we were having triplets was the car. Can’t bring the kids home from the hospital if we don’t have a big enough car! Our Honda CRV was just NOT going to cut it, which seriously broke my heart {I LOVED that car}.

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We waited until the end of the Summer, figuring that we’d pick up on some great deals. Fortunately, our bank was doing a promo-financing thing with a car dealership we’ve used before.

I had a very specific list of requirements in our van: It had to be beige/gold/tan {whatever that color is called}, it had to have an aux input {for my ipod}, remote doors, and a roof rack….very specific right? I figured I’d have to compromise on something.

Let me tell you a little secret: I didn’t, not even one thing, AND I got heated seats and remote start!

Our car was only the beginning of how we were seeing God’s blessings in providing for these babies. We ended up getting a fantastic car, the price we wanted for our Honda CRV, and awesome financing!

Of course the car is only half the battle. The other half was figuring out how to fit 4 car seats in a 5 person {notice the word PERSON} back-seat-section. Matt, bless his heart, had never installed a car seat up until this point, I had always done all of Ave’s car seats. He took on the responsibility of installing the infant car seats.

We had hoped upon hope that we could fit all 3 infant car seats along the back row {I never managed to remember to take a picture of this}. We did. Unbeknownst to us, because our van is the Touring edition of the Chry.sler T&C, it has wider hip room in the 3rd row, allowing 3 car seats to fit, unlike almost every vehicle out there, even suburbans. We had no idea of this when we actually bought the car {another way God was blessing us}.

Because all the seats were in the 3rd row, we could put down the one captains chair, making it infinitely easier for us to load the 3 {increasingly heavy} infant car seats, without killing ourselves.

A couple of months ago, both boys outgrew the infant car seat {height-wise}. Another quandary, I knew that there was no way we would be able to fit 3 convertible car seats across the back row. We wouldn’t even be able to get the kids IN, even if we could fit them…we’d have a wall of car seat backs, all the way to the ceiling.

Once again, after numerous web searches, because I guess this isn’t a problem for most families {needing to have 4 convertible car seats at once in a vehicle}, I found out about a car seat that was the slimmest on the market, with the added benefit that it accommodated over 100lbs, meaning we won’t need to buy booster seats in a few years, the Diono Radian RXT. We ordered 2, thankfully not having to break the bank with buying 3 at once {2 was bad enough}.

Then came the fun part: How to install 3 convertible car seats and an infant car seat, while {hopefully} keeping a captains seat down.

It took me 2 days, I kid you not, TWO DAYS to figure out how to configure the seats.

Finally, I had it! And here it is for all you other lucky parents of a singleton and then triplets {the whole 4 or 5 of us that there seems to be}.

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Third row: Diono Radian {forward facing – for Ave}, Chicco Keyfit 30 {Ellie},

Diono Radian {rear facing – for James}

Second row (captains seat): Britax Marathon {rear facing – for Henry}

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For now, we fit: Once Ellie has outgrown the infant car seat, I’m not sure what will happen, but you can be sure I’ll write about it. And if we’re blessed with even 1 or 2 more children, I’m not sure what car is next in our future. I do know that God will provide for them, because He always has and always will.

Routines in the White House :: Bottle Feedings

I know it will seem kind of ridiculous to be writing this now, when the babies are getting near the end of bottles, but better late than never.

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When the boys came home from the hospital feedings were pretty easy. I was able to sit with both them and feed them both at once, so it didn’t feel like all I did was feed babies. When Ellie came home, then it got a bit complicated. I now had to figure out how to feed 3 babies, either at once or staggered.

During the day it wasn’t bad as I usually had someone here helping. Even the night time feedings weren’t terrible: Matt got up for every one of those feedings {while still working} and helped me feed the babies. But those evening ones, when it was just me…oy!

I really do wish I had a picture, but I don’t. There were many nights, when I just stayed up until midnight, knowing that once I got the evening {7-8pm} feeding done, Ave in bed and dinner cleaned up, it would be time for the next feeding. Unfortunately, I became addicted to The Vampire Diaries during that time {yes, I’ll admit to watching it}.

Some nights I had to take it 2 and then 1 at a time: I sat sideways on the couch with the babies between my legs and a bottle in each hand. Some nights I did them all at once: 2 between my legs and usually Jamesie in the bouncer next to me {he didn’t need to be cajoled to take his bottle and was the easiest to feed}. That was a sight to see…one bottle propped against me right knee, my right hand holding the bottle of the baby on the left {between my knees}, and then my left hand reaching over to hold the 3rd bottle. It didn’t happen too often, but it did work.

Once the babies got better at taking their bottles, it got a lot easier.

Now, I’m going to admit to one of those parenting faux pas: I propped the babies. Each of them went in a boppy pillow with another {very light} pillow propping up their bottle. It worked great! I sat there and watched them, while I took care of things with Ave.

That worked until they started to move around; then they wouldn’t even sit still for the bottle. Then we locked them in their swings and bouncers and propped those bottles. Still being sure to keep a close eye. Just to calm the fears of others: NOTHING BAD EVER HAPPENED. We never had a choking incident or any other thing that would make me say it was risky, and we were always RIGHT THERE.

For the past few months this has been our method of feeding bottles during the day. James is now able to get himself out of his bouncer, without getting hurt, and Henry is way too big for his swing. I have no idea what to do. We may be back to boppies on the floor: If they’re hungry and want a bottle they’ll lay still.

Once we stopped have mandatory night time feedings I became more on my own, since it wasn’t likely that all of them would wake up. James was quite content to sleep almost through the night. I was still waking Ellie up for her bottles. Henry was totally random {just like his big sister!}.

If everyone wakes up at night, they got propped in their crib with a rolled blankie. If just one were to wake up at night I would hold them and give them a bottle. Let me tell you, those were some of our most precious times.

In the very beginning we made individual bottles, because the 3 of them wouldn’t even take 12 ounces during a feeding. Then we slowly started working up. We’ve had a variety of containers and have always premixed a quantity of formula. We now have a 3 liter Pampered Chef Mix ‘n Pour that we make a days formula in. Then bottles are meted out at each feeding. We only have 9 bottles (Evenflo Classic glass bottles); we just washed them as needed.

One thing with multiples that I really missed, knowing how it was with Ave, was the cuddling one on one time with them. I got snuggles from Avelyn until she gave up the bottle last fall. I was loathe to stop her bottle, because I knew it would be over. This is one thing that Matt and I both agree is the hardest part of having multiples: You don’t get that time together the way you do with a singleton. Don’t get me wrong! There is definitely sweet moments, they’re just different.

So there you have it: Bottle feeding triplets.

Routines in the White House :: Meal times

The time has, unfortunately, come that we now need to put more into the babies via actual food than bottles; which means that I now have to figure out how to feed 3 babies at once. It isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible either

In addition to figuring out how to feed 3 babies at once, we also need to figure out what to feed 3 babies at once. With Ave we did a fair amount of Earth’s Best Organic Baby foods: They were quick, easy, and had a lot of variety.

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I bought one box (12 jars) of baby food in the beginning, when we got to the point that Jamesie was finishing off a jar by himself and looking for more we knew that wasn’t going to work (not at $1+ per jar).

Making it ourselves was the only option. We started with the basics: Carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, kale etc. Then started getting a bit more intense – running homemade chicken soup, or steak, mashed potatoes, peas and carrots through the food processor; pretty much whatever we were eating for dinner (minus pastas and bread and things that were not made from scratch). My dad has taken this very much to heart and has been sending over food for the babies as well.

I started with just doing one meal a day, because, frankly, the idea of putting babies in seats, bibs, feeding, cleaning up was rather overwhelming. We decided on dinner, because that’s mostly the food we’ve made up; that and there are usually 2 of us here, one feeds babies while the other finishes cooking our dinner.

At first no one was liking it, but then slowly James caught on {and now loves it}, then Henry {he’s dealing with it}, and Ellie is still at the tolerating it phase {but she does like carrots}.

I’ve started doing breakfast this past week: Steal cut oats with a bit of mashed bananas and stewed plums. The one day we added some {cooked} egg yolks (which are rich in proteins and good fats – as my mom calls them “Brain Food”). For lunch today we had oatmeal, with butternut squash and creamed spinach.

There’s the what, now for the how.

We rearranged our house so that the babies seats could be at the table and we could eat as a family, but, of course, that is not where the babies get fed. The table is pushed to the side and for them to be seated we have to pull it away from the wall, which means removing the foam mat we have on the floor. Needless to say that isn’t happening 3 times a day.

Bumbos. We line the three of them up on the floor in their bumbos, then sit in the middle. Now, some people will probably denounce me for what comes next…using the same spoon and the same bowl we feed all three of them. We tried separate bowls and spoons, but it was chaos; plus it was really hard to keep things straight. We just keep shoveling into the mouth of whichever child is ready next {and yes, I do have a good idea of who is eating how much}.

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Once they’re past the point of needing purees and being fed, then we’ll work on sitting around the table to eat. Right now purees is about what they can handle. If they get any kinds of chunks they really are at a loss of what to do with them and start gagging. I don’t think it helps that they only have their 2 bottom teeth.

And THAT is how we do it. Yea, it’s work, but it must be done. Kind of like changing three poopie diapers in a row.

Dear Me…a letter to my teenage self

Dear Me,

Let me just start by saying, you’re not going to die an old woman and never having been kissed. I know that was on your mind a lot.

*Stop being so tough. It’s ok for people to see the soft, vulnerable side of us. Yea, you probably will get hurt more that way, but people might like you better knowing that you probably aren’t going to kick the crap out of them.

Dear Me...a Letter to my Teenage Self

*Stop being everyone else’s matchmaker and bodyguard. Worry about yourself. If people are making mistakes in their lives, tell them, don’t try and protect them from the consequences. And for GOODNESS SAKE: STOP TRYING TO HOOK YOUR FRIENDS UP WITH THE GUYS YOU LIKE!

*That plan to never get married or have kids, to move to California and become a Photojournalist. It’s a great dream. But God has something better up His sleeves.

*Stop wasting so much time on trying to get guys to notice you. Stop wasting so much time on the guys who do notice you but treat you like garbage. (Oh, and that one guy we crushed on for YEARS, he’s nowhere near as cute anymore.)

*Give your parents a break. They have no idea what they’re doing and they still have 2 more kids to raise.

*Stop giving in to our sister: You’re not doing her any favors by cutting her so much slack. Oma’s right: You’re spoiling her. Our brother: Protect him. Yea he’s a pain in the butt, yea it’s hard being a senior and being know as “Beckmann’s sister”, but someday you’ll wish you had a relationship with him .

*You’re going to lose a lot of people that you love (Oma, Opa, Mama), it’s going to suck, you’re going to miss them, but the pain will slowly get more bearable. You’ll still start crying at the thought of them sometimes; the holidays and all those big moments will be the hardest.

*Put yourself out there. You did it once, in the high school musical (Music Man) and look what happened…you got to be on center stage AND do your Irish accent. You’re going to miss out on so much (and regret it) if you don’t.

*Don’t stop writing. Ever. Or painting.

*Those parties that you were mad about not going to (even though you never even bothered to ask your parents if you could go) they weren’t worth it anyways. Who wants to sit around and watch a bunch of dumb people getting drunk and doing stupid things.

*That body of your’s, the one you are so tough on, because it isn’t as skinny as everyone else’s: You’re really, REALLY going to miss it some day.

*Don’t keep trying to smoosh yourself into everyone else’s mold. You’re not them, you’re you and there is so much that you have to offer. And when you’re not fitting in their mold, don’t take the crap they’re going to dish out on you. Just hold your head high and carry on.

*College: Just stay at Oneonta. There’s no point in transferring a bazillion times, because you’re going to end up back there anyways (even if you did manage to graduate in 7 semesters).

I can’t tell you to do anything different than what you already are, because it was all those things that got you to where you are today. Yea, there’s pain. No, you’re not still friends with most of those people.

Oh, yea, that kiss you were so worried about? It’s going to be great, and so are all the others you’re going to have: You’re going to end up married to that guy with a crazier-happier life than you could ever imagine. God had your back the entire time. All of that worrying and tears about not having a boyfriend? Totally wasted.

Louisa May had it right: “You don’t need scores of suitors. You need only one…if he’s the right one.” {Oh, let mom go with you to see Little Women in the theaters…because 18 years later, you’re still going to regret not having let her go see it with you.}

Love,
You {at 30}

What would you tell your teenage self?
Linking up with Emily at Chatting at the Sky for her new book release, Graceful.