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 😮”). 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 🐚 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 🤚 up (talk the hand) and calmly told her “Emma, you have one…”. Emma stood down and that was that.

👀

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 💨 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 💩

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

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 🙂

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 💵, 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 🛒 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! 👏🏽🙌🏽👏🏽) 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.

The Triplets Are Three Today!

Happy Birthday 🎁🎈🎂 to the Cave Triplets!

Technically the celebration begins at 12:27pm (Michaela), 12:28pm (Emma) and 12:30pm (Christopher).

Three years ago today, our lives literally changed forever. We went to the doctor for a next day check up as Angelique’s test the previous day had revealed preeclampsia. The only cure or treatment for that is delivery. A long exam and sitting up on an uncomfortable bed with baby monitors hooked up to her tummy resulted in contractions that wouldn’t quit and a doctor that decided it wasn’t a good time to send her home, which we appreciated. Next thing we knew, she was being whisked away for a c-section and later that afternoon we became parents!

And what has changed since then? Well, for starters, they are all healthy three year olds now. Thriving is an understatement and doesn’t really do their development justice. Every triplet journey is certainly unique. It all depends on how early they are born and how they weather the storm of issues they have to contend with the earlier they come. The goal was 34 weeks, but they decided to make their arrival at 29.5 weeks. That early came with lung development concerns, early digestion issues, anemia, eye development concerns and a few heart murmurs. All fine now, although the early weeks in the NICU were nothing short of an emotional rollercoaster.

We survived the first 18 months thanks to outstanding help. The carpet in our old house, specifically the family room we lived out of (home base) did not, I’m sorry to report 😜

You look at them today and you’d never know they were born prematurely. Most people think the girls are twins and that Christopher is the older child since he’s so much bigger. But we tell them he’s the youngest and they are all the same age and their jaws drop. Christopher is as big as a few 4 year old kids we’ve seen. And he’s wearing 4T like a boss…haha.

Binkies are long gone, as are bottles. Only one baby gate remains as opposed to five. Diaper will hopefully be a thing of the past some time this year as I’d rather drop $90 a month on something else for them…lol.

Now that they can talk a lot better, we are bracing ourselves for even more challenges. I’m at work all day, and it’s hard to come to terms with how different they are from the previous day when I get home. Their minds are soaking up so much knowledge. Everyday there is a new skill or a few new words.

They aren’t in pre-school or anything like that yet. Last week I got on the Amtrak train home to work and our pediatrician was on the train, so we sat and chatted. She hadn’t seen them in a while, so I showed her some of the latest pics. Her jaw dropped. They have all sorts of different fans. The NICU nurses played an integral role in their development. They don’t get to hear how a lot of the kids are doing. I’ve run into one of the nurses at Costco before. She immediately asked how Emma (whom she cared for) was doing. She was asking a few questions like she was going through a developmental checklist. She knows that sometimes there are issues. Another I keep in touch with via text and she has visited once. I’ve run into the high risk doctor that helped keep the babies in longer at the hospital. I shared a pic and shook his hand and he lit up. I send him photos from time to time. It took a lot of people’s efforts to get them here, and we will never forget their kindness and devotion to their jobs.

Their birthday party is 10/29. Visitors will be greet with jabbering toddlers. Lots of hugs will be distributed, I’m sure. Should be a blast!

M.

Costco’s most honest samplers 🙂
The girls hop in Uncle Scooter’s custom trailer
Christopher being handsome from afar
Emma carries this heart around everywhere, so it’s starting to turn pink. Speaking of which, we may have lost it again!
Michaela has been a lefty for quite some time. She’s always had great dexterity and fine motor skills.
Emma loves the view from my shoulders
We dare not try and remove the coat from Michaela. That’s just not a good idea!
All in a day’s work for these three. We think they found whatever they were looking for…ha!

The Apple(s) 🍎 of my 👀 Eyes

Three different personalities means it is never a dull moment in this household. The best part of this is that it provides opportunities to try many different things. The worst part is that it could produce a lot of waste if you aren’t careful…haha! This is what makes the introductory photo so funny. Clearly someone loves apples (Michaela), while another wasn’t feeling it at the moment (Emma), while the other (Christopher) likely partook in the delectable treat at the behest of an older, bossy sibling (Michaela). Oh, a picture really does paint 1,000 words!

We can’t make this stuff up. I have been following another triplet mom’s blog for some time. That has served as my roadmap of what to expect as they get older. Her identical triplet boys just turned 7. Her latest blog was about how their personalities are all but settled in. I read the blog this morning and smiled. In one of her earlier blogs, she wrote about how one of the boys had thrown a potato 🥔 at the TV and broke it. I could see that happening with us, especially since Christopher likes to throw things randomly. One thing is guaranteed year after year with these three – entertainment!

I look forward to getting home from work to see how much they’ve learned while I was gone. Every day it is something new as they continue their rapid evolution into little people. Lately they’ve all become fixated on grasshoppers. There is a resident grasshopper that is missing a hind leg that hangs around the outside of the house. Sunday the grasshopper made its way to one of the screens in a nearby bedroom. They all got excited and screamed when they’d get close to it and talked amongst themselves about the grasshopper. They each refused to get close to the window to take a closer look without a buddy – it was so cute. For the next few days they have demanded that a grasshopper be drawn on the magna doodle. They think it is real, because Angelique asks them to touch it and they freak out. If she asks them to kiss it, they run and/or cry. Yesterday she decided to chase them around the house with the latest drawing. She’s a really good artist like her mom so I’m sure it looked life-like.

Michaela’s bossy disposition and hierarchy in the group of 3 is all but confirmed. On Monday, they each got to choose what movie to watch. Of course, Michaela got to pick first and she chose Anastasia (which once upon a time was on the list of girl names before they were born. She doesn’t look like a Stacey…although I would have loved to sing “Stacey’s mom has got it going on” all day…haha!). After the movie 🎥 🍿 played, Angelique asked Emma what movie she wanted to watch. Emma said Olaf (Frozen). Michaela quickly intervened, putting her arm around Emma, looking at her and saying “Emma, don’t you want to watch Anastasia?” (and in the same tone as Ana asked Elsa, “Do you wanna build a snowman?”) 🤪. Guess what was watched (again): Anastasia 🙂. Persistence, persuasion, charm and determination. And beauty…Oh my!

You’ll have to excuse me, Michaela has selected the DVD she wants to watch at 4:45am: The Secret Garden. Blah

More on the other two another time!

M.

!=o Three…Three…Three=o!

Monday thru Friday, I leave the house around 6:40am en route to work. The past month has been great for send-off. Most of the time I get three hugs, three kisses goodbye (at least 5 from Michaela, and she actually asks each time, “Kisses goodbye?”), and three not so little munchkins waving goodbye and blowing kisses, with Christopher giving chase, as I back out of the driveway. Yes, that feels good!

The sponges are eager to apply the fruits of their daily discoveries. This has resulted in new words, behaviors, alliances, likes and dislikes. Now that we know they understand what we’re saying, when they ask for something out of the fridge, we make them go get it, especially Emma. “Milk!”, she demands. We tell her that she knows where it is, and that if she wants some, she can get it herself. She “pretends” to not be able to open the fridge door, saying, “It’s stuck!”. I tell her to try harder. And it doesn’t end there. None of them, though they try, get to drink it wherever they want like the days of old. They have to sit at the table or stay in the kitchen area. We’ve found ancient milk cups previously…ugh! And when they’re done, we tell them to open the door, put it back, and shut it. They assumed early on compliance was optional, but now they realize it’s compulsory 🙂

I still hear from folks all the time that they don’t know how I do it. Well, I don’t. My wife, Angelique does the heavy lifting. I go to work and make the money that fuels the chaos that is our reality…lol! New greys sprout out every day, but it’s more a product of being 38 years old than being a father of triplets. Yes, a lot of things they do are frustrating, but they’re kids and that comes with the territory. We spend extraordinary amounts of time with them (me specifically on the weekends), and it takes creativity to keep them busy. I think the comment I get from folks generally comes from the perspective of having multiple kids potentially, but not all the same age at the same time. Truth be told, I can’t imagine these three spaced out in years. That’d be weird. Each additional child compounds the challenges. Someone is always going to be unhappy about something or feel left out or annoyed. For example, now that Emma’s got a large arsenal of words, she can actually say, “Hold me”. Of course most of the time we do, but sometimes we have to say no for a variety of reasons, and she’s not happy about it. However, it’s healthy for kids to not get everything they want all the time. Now mind you, they get lots of love, but we draw the line with their sneaky attempts to take advantage of situations. We were kids first, you know 😉

Potty training has been an adventure. I’ll just say that I track it still because I look at it as diapers saved. And thanks to Michaela’s efforts, she’s saved us 230 diapers (2 boxes worth) and Emma 183 diapers (1 box and some change) and Christopher 29 diapers. If I tracked how many times he’s gone in the tub his number would be higher but I’m not home usually when they get baths.

They are instant playmates. Michaela and Christopher are maniacs and bicker a lot over toys and whatever else Michaela has laid claim to first. Michaela is well aware she’s the oldest and doesn’t care how much bigger Christopher is than her. And he always stands down…for now. Emma is still content doing her own thing most of the time. I still trace it all back to her time in the isolette in the NICU. She was in the isolette the longest and probably got used to the bubble, but the others are just too much most of the time.

These kids are something else. Those that have had the pleasure of their company can attest to that statement. And each visit is a different experience. Age 3 with these three is going to be a wild ride. Much more talking, opinions, defiance and independence. We’ll be here in to steer them in the right direction every step of the way.

Their latest favorite movies include:

  • Trolls
  • Boxcar Children
  • Moana

New favorite foods:

  • Uncrustables
  • Pickle chips
  • Sliced black olives (we buy 8 cans a week!)
  • String cheese
  • Stonyfield Yogurt pouches
  • Costco apple sauce pouches
  • Polenta
  • Bananas

August should be exciting. My mother (Mima) will be visiting again later in the month. I think this time she’s fully aware that they are completely different kids from the last time she saw them. We’ll let her dive in and get pummeled like the other times as it is unavoidable. Hope she’s got an idea of how she’ll keep her energy up…lol!

The highlights of my workday are when I get a text from Angelique describing something crazy they did or some cute pictures of a funny video. Facebook has been great with the On This Day photos as we’ve seen some great photos from 2 years back or even last year and it’s incredible how much they’ve changed. I look forward to coming home each day. I remember the days when I was home helping look after them for 4 months straight. It totally re-wired my brain, as I wasn’t thinking about work (well not that kind of work). I was in full-time parent mode. I’m glad I had that time with them, though. Years from now we’ll play all the videos that prove that we both were there, and we both were heavily involved. And hopefully, they’ll appreciate all the sacrifices we made to bring them into this world, to make sure they were happy, loved and ready to leave their own stamp on this life.

M.