Independence Days

This year’s 4th of July started with us heading to the park in the morning only to find a large group of people there from a church having a morning picnic. Someone wandered over and introduced himself and invited us to partake in the food they’d brought. We did, and were soon participating in the activities they had going on.Previous Independence Days involved most of the kids sleeping through all of the fireworks (I believe only Emma was up to see them the first year). This year, everyone was up and engaged. I think one of my previous blog posts was something catchy like Declaration of Independence. Or maybe it should have been if it wasn’t, because all three are increasingly declaring their independence from their parents. It is manifesting itself as them telling us what they want to do more often and now that they can talk, there is very little guessing as far as their intentions are concerned.They, like any other kid, would rather play than eat (unless it involves ice cream!)They prefer to be outdoors – playing.This summer, before pre-Kindergarten starts on September 5th, will be spent getting them more and more comfortable with the water. I missed out during my own childhood as I couldn’t swim, so at age 22 I had enough and taught myself after lots of practice. We don’t want them to have that same experience. That’s all for this month. Thanks for reading! M.

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Remember Me

Firetrucks and ambulances are now associated permanently in the minds of the triplets with Christopher (FerFer).

Anytime the kids see a fire truck ๐Ÿš’ on TV or on the street, or even an ambulance ๐Ÿš‘, their latest new skill (recalling memories) takes over. The girls then go on and on repeated what they remember about Christopher: “FerFer goes on ambulance ride.”, and “FerFer goes to the hospital. He hurt his mouth”. They remember everything about the last experience. And apparently FerFer is the owner of every hospital in town if you let the girls tell it. FerFer leads the way in ambulance ๐Ÿš‘ rides and fire truck ๐Ÿš’ visits 2-0-0๐Ÿ˜‚.

Safetyville event – NOT an actual FerFer emergency!

So now when I get home from work each day, everyone is dying to tell me all about their day. Yesterday was all about the big green tomato ๐Ÿ… worm ๐Ÿ› they discovered at grandma and grandpa’s house.

I have an extraordinarily accurate memory that stretches back as far as I can remember. I remember things that happen in pre-school at age 3, and even events such as my first haircut on the Navy base at age 4 and my 4th birthday party. We shall see if their memories turn out to be just as accurate – all signs point to yes! ๐Ÿ˜ณ

They say the first 5 years are the most important, as there is so much development that happens during that time and it sets the framework for the later years. Heck, California has a website devoted to it: http://first5california.com. The kids are sponges, and absorb everything – more than we realize, in fact. At the end of the day, I think they absolutely realize that both their parents are, have been and will always be there for them.

M.

Cr3w Pit Stop

The title is fitting. We’ve been going 200mph lately with these three and I figured I’d make a pit stop to provide updates.

We can start with Christopher, who is obsessed with all things Lightning McQueen. He’s got an impressive selection of Cars-themed underpants, and can usually be seen wearing something featuring either Lightning McQueen himself or Mater. He also usually likes to wind down in the evening watching one of the Cars movies.

Emma

Emma is our resident conversationalist, educating us on what she’s doing and thinking about every step of the way, lecturing her siblings about what’s right and wrong, asking if everyone is ok, and (still) trying to get everyone to do stuff for her. She’s the most reserved of the three, but also the most talkative as she has the clearest command of her impressive library of words. Complete sentences, emotion in her tone, cause/effect, ability to recall memories, you name it, she’s spewed it ๐Ÿ˜‚. For example, if I leave in the morning for work without giving her a hug, kiss, high five, fist pump, and a repeat of any combination of the above, I hear about it first thing when I get home, and Angelique has to hear about it the whole day until I return.

Michaela

Where do I start with this little firecracker? Oh my word she’s going to be a handful as a teenage girl ๐Ÿ™„. She’s very strong willed and smart as a whip. She has “strategies”. She leads with trying to wear you down with nagging hoping you give in – quickly cycles through your typical toddler tactics ๐Ÿ˜‚. With her siblings, she used to just take what she wanted with no pushback – now there is pushback in the form of arguments, fighting and attempts to distract and then take. I’ve seen her try and negotiate, sometimes successfully, and she’s had to adjust to not getting her way with her siblings. Sometimes her go to strategy is to hover like a gnat, chase and when none of that works, meltdown. This past week featured a meltdown over nighttime PJs, where Emma, not Michaela got to wear the Ariel shirt ๐Ÿ‘š. This resulted in Michaela on a time out outside for several minutes. She started throwing objects at the slider. It got louder and louder, which meant that she was finding things that were heavier and heavier, so I fetched her and we had a little talk ๐Ÿ˜‚. Piece of work, she is.

General Stuff

Potty training was a relatively quick process, with them all being day trained. Very few accidents along the way. The worst of them were due to the occasional desire to not stop what they’re doing and go potty. This has mostly been Christopher. Still that’s all to be expected and we are very proud of them! They tell us that they have to go still and still would like us to escort them, but they are getting increasingly more independent in that area.

It’s quite funny to watch their banter back and forth over pee and poop. They actually talk about it with each other. They like to inspect each other’s efforts in the toilet and congratulate one another. They even go as far as to describe it. This morning Emma invited Christopher to come take a look and he said, “Wow, good job!”, and then flushed it for her. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿพโ€โ™‚๏ธ

We ventured to Jelly Belly recently

The result of this trip was that we needed to rethink road entertainment, as the bickering over which movie to watch on the long ride was out of control – nobody was happy! We ended up purchasing 3 kindle fire ๐Ÿ”ฅ kids edition tablets with headphones so they could each do their own thing. Best. Purchase. Ever. A few weeks in and they have figured them out. The girls both know how to unlock theirs, and Christopher has filled his up with Cars stuff and monster trucks. It has helped them improve their fine motor skills as well. They are also much better at problem solving. Michaela has somehow figured out to install her own apps. We haven’t put time limits on them yet but that will come one day I’m sure.

They all start pre-Kindergarten in the fall at something called Adventure Club in Roseville. We evaluated a few of the schools that had availability, made our selection, and enrolled them. It starts in September. They are all very well socialized already, and with as much as they apparently know already I’m sure they will be fine and will thrive with the new flavors of structure they will be exposed to. And Angelique will get a much needed breather for a few hours a day, Monday, Wednesday and Fridays! I commend Angelique for her efforts with the kids. Managing 3 demanding evolving toddlers is no joke and it’s tough to stay sane! Anyone interested in basking in the madness? ๐Ÿ™‹๐Ÿพโ€โ™‚๏ธ

She’s befriended a few mothers with young tots in our little community here and is a mentor of sorts to one with a newborn. After all, Angelique’s been there, done that times three, so she’s got the experience and wisdom! Everyone has a different motherhood journey, but it’s nice to be able to pass along tips and offer support to someone just embarking on their own journey.

Identical twins and fraternal triplets in the same Jeep!

The more things change, the more things stay the same…

Thanksfor reading!M.

Potty (Day) Trained

After only 2 weeks, the Cavelets are now day trained. The first week featured accidents across the board for a variety of reasons, but now they are used to the expectations (and the rewards).

We had to bribe them with gourmet treats (candy), but it worked. Plus having access to great weather made things easier. This last week they really put it all together.

As a result of their accomplishments, we’ve given the girls the nicer panties that were special gifts from my mother (Mima). Christopher started out in the good underwear (all Disney Cars and superhero themed, of course).

But what else is new?

Friday, May 11th I turned 39 years old.

It was a great day at work. Staff decorated my cubicle and brought treats for the group.

After work, I treated myself to Sushi ๐Ÿฃ at my favorite spot right down the street from me – Sushi Omakase. They threw in a free beer ๐Ÿบ on the house.

Mother’s Day is today and Angelique’s 43rd birthday ๐ŸŽ is tomorrow, May 14th. This morning, the kids each gave their mother a special rose with a balloon ๐ŸŽˆ- she loved the surprise. They even said Happy Mother’s Day. I’m sure that made all the torm3nt she has to endure throughout the day worth it. My older brother Chris’s birthday was May 9th.

Yesterday we took the kids to the Strawberry ๐Ÿ“ Festival at Placer County Fairgrounds. It was HOT! But it was fun, and a good test of potty training. They held it until each potty break. Awesome! They also hung out with the Dive Bar mermaids ๐Ÿงœโ€โ™€๏ธ

Other than that, the cuteness meter ticks higher.

Cheers,

M

Project Management Milestone: Buy Buy Diapers!

Notice the play on words? Hehe ๐Ÿ˜‚

Last week, Angelique and I decided we would take the plunge and not look back regarding potty training. The weather was great and the outdoors provided a helping hand.

Project management touches potty training, too. The road to potty trained kids, let alone triplets, is a delicate balance of time, money and resources. You have to make the time, and spend the money (on diapers), and have the people handy (in the early weeks) to make a run at it with triplets. The first week there were many accidents across the board, and for different reasons. As with projects, you make adjustments along the way. Some risks (tinkle accidents) are accepted as par for the course (yay hardwood floors!), others (๐Ÿ’ฉ) require a mix of strategies to facilitate improvement such as coaching, rewards (celebrate success) for avoiding that type of accident (๐Ÿญ) and increased monitoring.

Diapers have (had ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฝ) been a huge expense for us, as you can imagine, much like formula was in the early months. We can definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel. They are all having long runs of staying dry all day (and even night!). We found a huge stash of pull-ups that we were given years ago, so we will burn through those as we settle in to the next phase of the project. The next challenges will be staying dry during travel, naps, and while shopping ๐Ÿ›’ at grocery stores.

They pretty much decided for us that they wanted to embark on the next phase of this project together. I think deep down they have an internal sense that their baby days are slipping away. This results in nostalgic moments where they do baby stuff just for fun like crawl on all fours or want to be held like a baby. And sometimes they have initiated an accident just because (I think). But it is definitely clicking for them.

Thanks for reading

M. Cave, PMP (Patient Multiples Parent) ๐Ÿ˜‚

Whatโ€™s Been Up?

Lots, actually…

Work

I’ve been working smarter at work, putting my energy into automation to help things run as efficiently as as possible so staff can make way for new work and new skills.

Kids

The kids are doing great. Potty training is in full swing, with all three in underwear throughout the day (except naps if they take them). They are getting the hang of it, which is all we can ask for. With three it is very difficult to work with one at a time. They feed off of one another. We decided we would deal with the accidents and not look back since the weather is nice. Needless to say they are getting a nice tan โ˜€๏ธ.

Michaela

Michaela is (not surprising), the star โญ๏ธ of the potty training show, and the closest to being ready. She was the first born, first to come home from the NICU and pretty much the first to do everything else. She’s been staying dry all day since last Sunday. Both grandmas have showered all of the kids with cute underwear, and that’s motivated them. Other than that she babbles about everything she sees and we nod and egg her on. It backfires if she’s had an early nap because she is up most of the night talking in her daytime voice! ๐Ÿ˜‚

Emma

Emma is getting the hang of potty training, but still hasn’t quite figured out that feeling and where to do things when she feels that feeling. For example, earlier this week one morning she was standing right next to mommy and had an accident on the (hardwood) floor. She laughed right after that and said “Hehe, that’s funny”. She will not say that the next time she’s on her hands and knees cleaning it up! ๐Ÿ˜

Emma can be quite demanding. She likes things done for her and has no problem directing others to do it. I’m insisting that she do it herself, and while she may try and act helpless, she ultimately does it. The other day she asked for chocolate milk. She said, “Daddy, get it. It’s in the fridge over there”, and turned back around. I told her to get up and get it herself. She then did so and sat back down and said, “Daddy, blanket”. She will not start drinking her chocolate milk until there is a blanket covering her feet and she’s comfortable. I tell her to put the milk down and fix her blanket herself ๐Ÿ˜‚

Christopher

This handsome fellow had a scare in recent weeks that landed him in the emergency room. He was running around with a plastic light saber that he had chewed the top cap off of. He ran into something and it lacerated the back of his throat near his tonsils. It was a bloody mess, but it didn’t require the doctor to close the wounds and it healed quickly on its own. The bill for that ambulance ride to the ER $2150 and some change. Our share thanks to great insurance – $0. ER copay $50 – par for the course. Times like this are what make me thankful for my state career and it’s wonderful benefits!

Christopher is behind in most areas compared to his siblings, but catches up quickly once he figures it out. He was the last born, got most of his teeth last, was the last to figure out how to ride the bike with training wheels (no slowing him down now), and is finally talking with confidence (still not as articulate as the girls, but boys are like that!). He’s a shy boy, just like they said on his first pediatric development checkup report. And he’s definitely attached to his mother – he needs to know where she is at all times! He’s catching on quickly with potty ๐Ÿšฝ training.

Also, it appears that he is favoring his left for things like throwing and kicking. That’s how I am. Everything else is righty, just like me. I throw and kick with my left hand but do everything else with my right. He loves all things Cars (Disney) and is obsessed with Lightning McQueen. Those are his favorite clothes to wear!

The Book ๐Ÿ“–I decided to wrap up the book (Triple Blessing) and shop it with a few publishers for consideration. The first publisher got back to me within days that they are interested in publishing my book after reading the manuscript. The second publisher is currently reviewing the manuscript and I’m sure they will be interested as well. The book outlines all that it took to bring these kids into the world over the course of our 7.5 year journey – it was a grind for sure. It is certainly an interesting read. I’m sorry it took 3.5 years to complete – I got a little busy ๐Ÿ™ŠStay tuned for updates on the book!

M.

Sugar Hi ๐Ÿ‘‹๐Ÿพ

The kiddos cleaned house this Spring…in terms of Easter candy, not spring cleaning!

They have mastered egg collecting and candy opening…and fortunately teeth brushing.

Other than that fun stuff, they’ve just been adding to their word arsenal and battling allergies. The cold and then warm, back and forth weather caused a bloom explosion of sorts, and they’ve had a rough time with it. But new milestones bloom as well – they have learned how to blow their noses!

They are 3 and a half now. Getting closer to being potty trained, but not quite “ready”. They have their moments when they just like being babies. Now that they can talk now, though, we push back a lot on their attempts to get us to do stuff for them. My canned response is, “You do it. You can do it!”.

Granted, we live in a much different era than when I grew up. I grew up in the 80s and 90s. I was raised to be independent early on, and encouraged to be. I had to figure things out on my own, and screw up trying. In the 80s and 90s, playing outside by yourself was encouraged, although it came with certain restrictions (be back inside before the street lights come on). I was allowed to explore. When they get older, that seems like a daunting leap of faith in today’s society. I imagine it will be hard on us both to let them be kids and not intervene as they figure things out, but it is a part of the process. They will want to be busy, so that’s good.

Several family members just recently became parents or are about to become parents. That causes me to reflect on our own journey, and what an incredible journey it has been.

I had good parents growing up. They were firm, but fair, and that’s how I am as both a parent and a manager/leader. I don’t want to look back and regret anything, so I’m as involved as I can be when I’m home. Everything we do has revolved around them, as it should be. It’s been fun watching them grow up – we haven’t missed a memory thanks to technology.

Downward slope! Christopher is by far the tallest!

Our greatest creations have brightened so many lives, and they are just getting started.

Age 3 has been a real roller coaster. The kids have been all over the map. Ages 4 and 5 may hold more of the same “excitement” ๐Ÿ˜‚. Should be a fun spring and busy summer! And in October they will be 4! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

I always chuckle when people at work wish me a relaxing evening at home after I get off. Relaxing? Bahahahaha!!!Finding my second wind is essential for when I get home! Haha ๐Ÿ˜‚

Cheers,

M ๐Ÿ

Child Cartoon Preferences

We have hit that stage where the kids have identified their favorite cartoon characters. It has made me realize how effective marketing and brand are for some companies like Disney and Mattel, because once it takes hold, that’s it.

I grew up as a kid in the 80s. That era featured quality cartoons (I’ll spare you the list because it’s so long) and even Saturday cartoons were timely. Now, we live in generation that is less attached to traditional television and more married to internet streaming. We “cut the chord” back in 2015.

I’m tickled pink that some of these characters are so important to the kids. The list of their favorites include:

Michaela

  • My Little Pony
  • Mickey Mouse
  • Barbie
  • Moana
  • Rapunzel
  • Tarzan
  • Smurfette
  • Ariel from the Little Mermaid
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks
  • The Chipettes (she knows them all by name and outfit color)
  • Olaf, Elsa and Anna (Frozen)
  • Princess Sofia

Emma

  • Buzz Lightyear (Toy Story)
  • Mickey Mouse
  • Anastasia
  • Boss Baby

Christopher

  • Lightning McQueen (Cars)
  • Tarzan
  • Mickey Mouse
  • Boss Baby

No clue why Michaela had such a large list of preferences. It might have something to do with her usually being the first up each morning and insisting on watching her favorites first…you know, first born preferences.

Interesting – Michaela is explaining to me this morning that it was Christopher that threw the shopping cart last night and broke the wing, not her. Maybe she was just ducking after all. Whoops ๐Ÿ˜ณ

Gotta start saving for a Disneyland trip. You can imagine how expensive that will be with three Disney fans ๐Ÿ˜ณ๐Ÿ˜ฒ

M.

Talking the Talk

Yep, they’re talking now, and they have a lot to say. They negotiate with one another, scold each other (Emma: “Michaela, time out!”), comfort whoever needs it (Emma: “It’s ok, honey” or “Are you ok?”), and let us know they’re done for the day (Christopher: “Mommy, want go to bed”). They even let us know when they’re irritated (Emma: “Christopher, get off of me now!” or “Michaela, calm down! Leave me alone!”). They also express concern (All: “Careful!”. They are even capable of providing high level medical diagnoses (Michaela: “Mommy your forehead feels hot. Temperature hot ๐Ÿ˜ฎ”). Talking to them blows our minds. It’s astonishing since we’ve been with them every step of their journey. Family and friends that might not have seen them for a while are also blown away when they hear them talking. We can generally understand 90% of what they say.

They have certainly come along way. Now when I get home from work each day, whoever’s up says “Daddy’s home!”. They know my wind down routine, which includes taking off my work clothes and getting into something more comfortable. Emma or Michaela usually like to direct me to the bedroom. Yesterday when I got home, Emma asked me to take off my my coat and told me where to hang it up. Michaela usually likes to take off my shoes for me and occasionally my socks. Awesome!

This morning Emma had two shells ๐Ÿš in her hand (holding objects is her thing) and she dropped one on the floor. Michaela picked it up and decided in typical Michaela fashion that it was hers to hold now. Emma asked for her other shell back (she said “Want baby shell!). Before she melted down, Michaela put her hand ๐Ÿคš up (talk the hand) and calmly told her “Emma, you have one…”. Emma stood down and that was that.

๐Ÿ‘€

Christopher is famous for letting us know that he wants to go home. He either asks “Can we go home?” or just says “Wanna go home” and that’s that.

Michaela

Biggest babbler by far. Goes on and on about anything. Sometimes doesn’t make any sense, but that’s to be expected at this age. Has invented new combo words. For example a fart ๐Ÿ’จ is “hiney burp”. Michaela is very good at describing things. And she can convince you that her version of the truth is gospel. Yesterday I was going back and forth with her about hair colors on some cartoon. A red head popped up on the screen and I told her grandma’s hair is red and she said “No, grandma’s hair is black (it is actually red). A guy with silver/white hair came on the screen and she argued that his hair was brown. Maybe she will be a lawyer…

Has mastered the alphabet and numbers 1 thru 10 and can count them in order. The same is true of the basic colors, all of the shapes and even the 3D shapes such as sphere, cylinder, cone and cube.

Emma

Emma is the clearest speaker of the trio. She can repeat any word you throw at her, and had an uncanny ability to remember it after hearing and repeating it at least 3 times.

Emma likes to be watched doing things. I’m often asked to go with her into their play area and watch her make something at their kitchenette. She actually uses the word kitchenette! In an adorably bossy tone, she exclaims, “Come on…let’s go!”, and then tells me to sit down over there (and to stay right there).

Christopher

Christopher’s vocabulary, while not as clear as his sisters’ word library yet, is quite large. He gets to the point, and is generally a quiet guy. He learns by repeating what his sisters say (ad nauseam). We still have to cycle through what we think he’s asking for, but that’s ok. One thing that’s clear as day: poop ๐Ÿ’ฉ

What else about these three: they know who people are now. They point out family and friends in pictures. Very social kids. No doubt they will make friends easily.

Thanks for reading,

M

Executive Core Competencies

Greetings-

It is no secret that I have career aspirations of being an executive one day. With 16 years of state service in and approximately 24 years to go, there is plenty of time. In 2009, I had a one year audition as an Interim Chief Information Officer, and that was before I was 30 years old. After that assignment ended, I put the pause on those aspirations and focused on building a family, which took much longer than anticipated. I gained valuable insights and experience from that CIO opportunity, but at age 38, I decided to reflect as it has been said that with age comes wisdom. Which begs the question: how close am I?

I perused the opm.gov list of Executive Core Qualifications. After reviewing the list, I couldn’t help but chuckle as there are many parallels with my role as a parent of multiples. As a result, I think my experience as a triplet dad will ultimately make me a better executive down the road, and here’s why:

EQ1: Leading Change

Not many parents have changed the amount of diapers I have…haha. All jokes aside, this competency involves

  • Creativity and innovation – this covers everything from keeping three unique individuals entertained, fed, loved and happy
  • Flexibility – rapidly adapting to new skills and abilities from all 3 kids, changing routines and sleep schedules, different paces of cognitive development
  • Resilience – functioning under pressure such as the ups and downs of the NICU stay, bouts of illness (RSV), and just dealing with being challenged daily by 3 little minds that feel compelled to see what they can get away with thanks to their cuteness *grin*
  • Strategic thinking – finding time to chart out their future, or at least the critical elements of the framework we want to put in place to ensure a bright future for each of them…you know, 529 account contributions, ensuring we have adequate life insurance policies in place, finalizing a will, etc.

EQ2: Leading People

My father was an officer in the Navy (Bravo Zulu), and I was always in awe of the respect he commanded when I would accompany him on base, and even after he retired and was a project manager as a civilian. As their father, I am their de facto leader, and they certainly follow my lead. I set the tone and standard, and given they are sponges, they soak up the examples I lead by.

  • Conflict management – you can imagine the kinds of conflict my wife and I have to deal with. We have one daughter that is extremely driven and bossy and has a strong personality, a middle daughter who is passive , yet motherly, and a son who is shy, but a follower of sorts. He tends to annoy his sisters – your typical obnoxious boy
  • Leveraging diversity – the kids have different personalities, hair and skin colors and interests. It will be interesting to see what their impact on others will be when they are older. Our shared goal is to embrace the diversity they represent and respect their differences
  • Developing others – it’s challenging finding new ways for the kids to learn. They need to explore and also make mistakes in order to grow. After all, that’s how I’ve learned

EQ3: Results Driven

We are responsible for creating an environment for our kids where they understand their purpose, the consequences of their actions, how to solve problem. The last thing we want is for them to be a drain on society.

  • Accountability – holding triplets accountable is challenging. The key is consistency – lots of eyes watching! ๐Ÿ‘€
  • Decisiveness – knowing when to intervene and when to let them figure things out on their own has been challenging. Since age 2, we have made way for them choosing to be increasingly independent ๐Ÿ˜ญ
  • Problem Solving – these 3 kids create problems for us to solve on a continuous basis.

EQ4: Business Acumen

This competency/qualification involves the ability to manage human, financial and information resources strategically.

  • Financial Management – funding the triplet operation. The diapers and food cost are staggering. Need I say more? ๐Ÿ˜‚
  • Human Capital Management – recruiting and retaining quality help (the early months), rewarding them accordingly (holding cute babies is a great reward!), taking action to address performance problems with the toddlers (challenging! ๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿพโ€โ™‚๏ธ), and keeping them entertained
  • Technology management – yes, I’ve used technology to my advantage during this 3+ year parenthood journey – mostly to track trends, milestones, and to “socialize” our journey using tools such as Facebook, WordPress, Instagram, GoFundMe and our beloved iPhones (notes, photos, timers, reminders, calendars ๐Ÿ“† and that handy flashlight ๐Ÿ”ฆ).

Building Coalitions

This involves mastering the art of partnering with others. Knowing how and when to ask for help has been key.

  • Partnering – we’ve receive so many clothes from generous folks since they were born, and have paid it forward accordingly
  • Toys – we’ve joined Facebook groups to stock this addiction

So what do you think? Will I make a good executive one day? I think I am racking up some pretty good experience, and so is my wife! ๐Ÿ˜‚

You may be wondering why my goal is 24 more years? I am anticipating having to pay for at least 2 weddings for the girls. And then there’s college (times 3), and whatever activities they get into (times 3), so raising kids isn’t cheap!