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

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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!

Bring on Spring!

I am not a fan of the cold weather. My favorite season is spring, as the weather is more favorable and everything is blooming and waking back up. We will see what the groundhog says about when spring will arrive. I’m mainly looking forward to it as it provides more of an opportunity to accelerate our efforts to wrap up potty training. A lot of parents take advantage of nature’s ability to absorb “accidents” ๐Ÿ™Š

Throughout this journey with the kids, I’ve put on my IT hat quite often, relying on data and analytics to monitor and manage trends with all of the kiddos. Early on after we brought all 3 home, we had a white board set up to track feedings (whether it was breast milk or formula), diaper changes, and within that who peed and when, who pooped and when, and who sharted (shart = shit fart, an indication for a newborn that something big was brewing…haha!).

We had so much help when we brought them home that that level of tracking became difficult after a few days. There were holes in the data as some folks didn’t write things down. With an average of 8 diaper changes per day per baby, it became easy to forget.

With potty training, I’ve been tracking things on my phone and shared the Note ๐Ÿ“ with my wife so she could track too as she is at home with them all day. Initially I tracked every piddle (pee) poop and the date. My wife has her hands full with three all day long, so she forgot to put them down. I figured we have reached a point where we are in he home stretch where we will soon just be managing accidents, so I modified the tracker to just focus on dates. Dates are important still because there are periods of regression – hey…life happens and sometimes you need a break!

It is worth noting that in terms of pee, Michaela was approaching 600 times, Emma 400 and Christopher 300. So we have a sense of who is most ready. Right now it is all about dates. They know what to do, and they are expected to give it their best effort each day. If we had just one child right now, we would probably be done if it was a girl. Three at once creates challenges. There are limited one on one coaching opportunities, there is ZERO privacy, and interest is fleeting early on. Motivation comes in waves – basically when they are all ready they will be ready and that’s that.

On the horizon is nothing but pull ups, training underwear and a diaper budget of $0.00. And finally some form of pre-school where my wife gets a couple of hours 1 or 2 days a week to herself.

2018, Here We Come!

2017 was a great year, filled with tremendous growth. Christopher is growing like a weed and proving to be well equipped to protect his beautiful sisters, if this picture is any indication:

The novelty of triplets has worn off, and we now mostly just face questions about how close they are in age. Most folks think Christopher is a 4 year old and the girls are 3 year old fraternal twins.

Christopher was playing with a 4 year old girl New Year’s Eve, and the little girl was complaining that the words coming out of his mouth didn’t make any sense. We tried to explain that he was 3, not 4. “But he’s the same size as me.” ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿพโ€โ™‚๏ธ

The more things change, the more things stay the same. We have thousands of photos of the kids dating as far back to the early ultrasounds. Every now and then I’ll see a look on one of the kids at a particular angle and it triggers my photographic memory to kick in. Below is a shot of Michaela from her first session at a hair salon:

She was making the same smirk en utero. A humbling reminder that certain things are baked in to their fabric earlier than we realize.

This month we connected with the owner of GSMoms, the company that assisted us with starting the family we have by matching us with an incredible egg donor. It’s wonderful when folks get opportunities to see first hand the results of their efforts. This is true for the doctors and nurses as well. Angelique picked up a bag of cars for Christopher to add to his massive collection. The boy loves cars ๐Ÿš—

We expect 2018 to be filled with many exciting memories. I’m personally looking forward to spring time. I’m home earlier with my new job, and it will be nice when there is more daylight out to do things with the kids after work.

It’s flu season, and we have been protecting them as much as we can and avoiding the gym and church childcare since that’s when they tend to get sick. We have a birthday party to attend on 1/20 at Chuck E. Cheese, though, so please say a prayer ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿพ for the kids that they survive that hot zone unscathed ๐Ÿ˜ท. It is sheer misery when they come down with colds.

The Age of Defiance

Age three has been a tough age. They’ve been 3 since October, but January is the month where they are technically 3 had they been born at 40 weeks gestation. What we are seeing: More pushing back (much more telling us no), they are acquiring and refining new skills and learning at a faster clip, much much much more talking, and other new challenges. And unfortunately (for Angelique) Costco decided to stop selling the holiday egg nog already – boo! ๐Ÿ‘Ž๐Ÿฝ

Each of their unique personalities is branded with its own flavor of defiance – and they all manage to pull this off with style and grace.

It is important to note that they do all of this stuff while getting ridiculously cuter by the day. They each insist on challenging our patience daily. Angelique, being home all day long with them, takes the lion share of it. They save some for me in the evenings and on weekends. What they don’t realize (that we do) is that it is all part of the process of growing up. Also, they don’t realize that we are actually very patient people – we waited patiently for 7.5 years to have them, so the stuff they put us through is cake compared to the frustrations that come with trying to conceive and not succeeding for as long as we did. I don’t wish that reality on anyone.

As a manager/leader, I am firm, but fair. As a parent of multiples, the key is consistency. It’s one thing to have an older child and the youngest can learn from the mistakes the older child makes, but in our case, given they are all the same age things tend to have a cascading effect as everyone is observant. Someone is either good or bad by example. Michaela tends to be the first to do everything, and leads the way in the trouble department. Emma tends to learn from the other two’s mistakes and not make the same ones, much like I did growing up. Christopher tends to get sucked into the trouble vortex as he is Michaela’s partner in crime. Needless to say age three has found those two on timeouts the most. They try and pit their parents against one another, running to mommy for sympathy, but that doesn’t work…ha!

However, things change as the venue changes. For example, we were at Grandma and Grandpa’s for Christmas Eve dinner and Emma found herself on timeout repeatedly because she was throwing toys over her shoulder over and over and they came close to hitting folks several times.

Reading this probably brings back memories for you parents that have long since graduated from these challenging times. Accordingly, you’re welcome for the walk down memory lane ๐Ÿ˜Š

M.

Merry Christmas from the Cave Family! ๐ŸŽ„

We are preparing for Christmas, which will be hosted at our home this year. Yesterday, the kids spent the day at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. It was supposed to be Christopher and I doing some male bonding, but when he saw his sisters hopping in the van without him, that was that. This left me alone to clean up the aftermath of their daily play carnage.

I thought I did a good job…

And then they woke up the next morning…

Merry Christmas! ๐ŸŽ

I know the kids are looking forward to it this year.

Phew! Itโ€™s Normal

The follow excerpt is from heysigmund.com, and our three year olds do most of the bulleted:

3 years old.

โ€ข Will experiment with independence. May lead to tantrums.๐Ÿ‘ˆ๐Ÿพ

โ€ข Will want increased control. May lead to tantrums.๐Ÿ‘ˆ๐Ÿพ

โ€ข Will become frustrated when disappointed. May lead to tantrums.๐Ÿ‘ˆ๐Ÿพ

โ€ข May see an increase in tantrums.๐Ÿ‘ˆ๐Ÿพ๐Ÿ‘ˆ๐Ÿพ๐Ÿ‘ˆ๐Ÿพ

โ€ข Will flip between wanting to be independent (โ€˜I do it!โ€™, or โ€˜by myselfโ€™) and wanting to be treated like a little person (โ€˜carry meโ€™ or โ€˜you do itโ€™).ย ๐Ÿ‘ˆ๐Ÿพ

โ€ข Will form a special attachment to the wordย โ€˜noโ€™ and willย practice itย often. Even when they might mean โ€˜yesโ€™. (Ahhhh toddlers! Fortunately, evolution has given them a profound capacity for cuteness while they are sleeping. This is important for those catastrophic events, such asย when you miss the notification that sandwiches are now to be served as little triangles, not little squares as was previously deemed acceptable. If this happens, just go with it โ€“ youโ€™ll need your energy for when they realise you havenโ€™t bought the toothpaste withย Elsaย on the tube.)๐Ÿ‘ˆ๐Ÿพ

โ€ข Might stutter or stammer.

โ€ข Will start to assert control over their environment by wanting to plan activities, do things by themselves, try challenging things.๐Ÿ‘ˆ๐Ÿพ

โ€ข Might keep calling you back when they areย put to bed.๐Ÿ‘ˆ๐Ÿพ

โ€ข Might develop sudden fears and phobias.๐Ÿ‘ˆ๐Ÿพ

Note: we’ve dealt with some serious meltdowns over chapstick. These three love to keep their lips moisturized. Exotic flavors as Christmas gifts would be a hit!

New Job, New Beginnings

On Thursday, November 30, 2017, I concluded my 5 year tenure at the State Treasurer’s Office. In 2012, I took the job when the previous incumbent had retired and the internal person that was offered the job turned it down. It was a good move for several reasons. First and foremost, Angelique worked there at the time in Business Services. It was an opportunity to be nearby as she recovered emotionally from some recent and very difficult pregnancy losses. The job was doing things I had done already at previous jobs. It was also a fresh start at a new organization run by an elected official. So that would be an opportunity to learn how to do things already familiar to me under a different and more political lens. I had great staff and a supportive boss. Two years into my tenure at the STO, the triplets arrived. Over the next 3 years, I experienced a great deal of success at the STO. I went through the highly coveted IT Leadership Academy, and my class project idea (California Mentor Program for Information Technology) was one of the projects selected for the class and was very successful. A document management system landed in my unit’s area of responsibility to manage in 2014, and it came with several challenges that needed to be overcome before real change could happen. In my final two years at the STO, I graduated from the IT Leadership Academy, and picked up a 2017 IT Leadership award for my efforts improving customer efficiencies using document management solutions. In October 2017, I was also selected as one of 3 employees of the month. The other two folks were members of my document management team. We were nominated by two different commissions for document management solutions we delivered that significantly improved their efficiencies. I will really miss the STO. I met some great people there, and it is a very family-oriented environment. Angelique and I were one of the “super couples” that were married and worked in the same organization. I think we both left behind a very positive legacy as two service-oriented professionals with a passion for people.

Ten months prior to starting at the STO, I had attempted a fresh start at a different organization. It turned out to be a terrible time to pursue a job with promising opportunities. The main reason is because we were just starting to experience the challenges associated with our path to starting a family, and didn’t yet realize how difficult it would end up being emotionally. It turned out that it was not the right time to be trying to learn a new organization and job and be 100% emotionally invested in fertility treatments and without a supportive boss to boot. Lesson learned, and enough about that misfire ๐Ÿ™‚

On Friday, December 1, 2017, I started a new job as a section manager over Document Management Systems infrastructure operations at the Employment Development Department. It is a promotion, and I will be overseeing the infrastructure operations of a massive document management solution that has its own building.

My success in the document management arena at the STO told me that this was something I would be comfortable specializing in. The job comes with several perks, such as free parking, more money ๐Ÿ’ต, closer to home, and an opportunity to (most of the time) be home earlier to spend quality time with the kids. My last year at the STO, I was taking the Amtrak Capital Corridor train from Roseville to Downtown and back, a 30 minute commute each way. The evening train was often late arriving in Sacramento, which resulted in me getting home as late as 6:30pm if I didn’t have shopping ๐Ÿ›’ to do after work, which is at least 3 days a week. Also, there was only one morning and evening train, and the evening charter buses departed at varying times. I will miss the great people I met on the train. Some of my commuter friends helped me solve a work problem once!

One trade off is that I lost my big office and now have a cubicle. It’s a different culture and managers at my level in such a large organization don’t get offices. Oh well, I will not be at my desk often anyway! Another is that I will no longer be downtown, so I will need to make an effort to stay connected and not completely disappear. I am on this year’s CIO Academy Advisory Board, and hope to continue in that capacity. There are, however, contacts I made during my time in the Leadership Academy that also work in Rancho Cordova, so I will be able to connect with them more often.

My first day was mentally draining. I was in a lot of different meetings all day. And most of the day I was only at my desk long enough to accept the newest wave of meetings that came in. When I got home, I was so tired I think I passed out about a hour after getting home. There is a significant amount of information to absorb in my new job. It’s not just the document management technology or the massive infrastructure that supports it. There’s also the holy IT trinity to master – the people, the processes and the technology of the organization as a whole. I will be dusting off old skills and leveraging recent experience in my new role. I’ll have more staff than I had at the STO, and it’s a matrix’s team operation so I will be involved in everything the document management applications development group is working on. There are many active concurrent projects, and dozens in the queue. I will be very busy all the time!

It seemed like the right time to take on a new job. The kids are here (hooray! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฝ) and with great help early on, Angelique and I weathered the first 18 months, followed by age 2, 2 and a half and now 3. I will have to recalibrate the work-life balance piece, as being an infrastructure operations manager once again comes with specific expectations, but I’m happy to have been given the opportunity to grow even more professionally.

Eventually the new job will make sense and I will settle into a rhythm. I’ll be using the kids as my motivation to be the best manager I can be in my new home. After all, it’s all about them!

Gotta run – 3 kids running around screaming as they play!

M.