Unfinished Business

Needlepoint canvases, knit infinity scarves and market bag.

I’m a WOABOPP!

Do you finish one book before starting another? Clean one room before heading to the next? Eat dinner before dessert? Apparently, I’m the opposite of all that. I was picking out yarn for patterns and also looking at needlepoint canvases when someone in the yarn shop looked over her glasses and said, “You’re a work-on-abunch-of-projects-person.” Is that a bad thing?

It’s not just knitting and needlepoint. I work on several writing projects at a time:  one manuscript might be up for review by my critique group; one manuscript might be in its infancy; one manuscript might be ready to query. And, of course, I like adding new posts to Bmore Energy.

I wasn’t always like this.  Then I had triplets! If this was one of my picture book manuscripts and I had to identify the moment when the change occurred, it would have to be the day all three triplets shared a bassinet together for the first time.

Baby B left the hospital at 10 days, Baby C was released at 12 days, and Baby A stayed in the NICU for 6 1/2 weeks. When Baby C came home, she was on a completely different feeding schedule than her siblings, and the first two babies weren’t thrilled about the new face. (The sisters could not be placed next to each other! Think head to toe.)

Three babies who needed to eat eight times a day meant preparing twenty-four bottles while doing constant laundry while changing countless diapers. Dinner for me and Hubby? Lots of pasta. Gifts? Piled up unopened for a long time. Sleep? Very little. There was no learning curve–it was a lion’s den!

I wasn’t multi-tasking; I was MEGA-tasking!

So, to the person who called me a WOABOPP…yes, yes I am. And I’m off to revise a manuscript, pick up a kid, try a new recipe, finish knitting a market bag, read one book, listen to another, bathe the dog…

Which camp do you fall in? One-Project-Person or WOABOPP!?

No judgement, hon!

Midnight the Barn Cat Needs a New Name

Midnight the Barn Cat is the newest addition to our household. As a young kitten, he’d shown up at a friend’s house in February. She not only fed him and created a winter shelter, she’d gotten him neutered and vaccinated. This summer, she searched for a new home for the approximately 8-month old kitten. She was moving  out of state and he wasn’t going with her.

Since I live in an historic Victorian farmhouse, circa 1882, I have a barn–albeit a small barn–that once housed a horse stall and still has a hayloft. It would be the perfect shelter for a partially socialized, soon-to-be-homeless kitten. Midnight the Barn Cat moved in.

So did raccoons! Every night, the raccoons had what I called “a party in the barn,” also known as a poop-fest! Yuck!

It’s not like I dislike raccoons; in fact, years ago when the triplets were babies, I bonded with a mommy raccoon who also had triplets. I’d wake up at the crack of dawn to feed my three infants at the same time a mommy raccoon was about to go to bed for the day. The raccoons’ tree stood near the window to my babies’ room and their “door” was wide open. The kits whined for one last drink, one last snack, and one last story. The mommy raccoon exhaustively begged her rambunctious babies to go the !*@#*! to bed.

And did you see my post, Coon Mama Jama, about trying to save a week-old, eyes-not-open-yet kit? But, I digress.

The raccoons in the barn ate Midnight the Barn Cat’s food, tramped their muddy feet over stored furniture and, worst of all, left their “evidence.” So, I cleaned up the mess and closed up the barn.

This is why Midnight the Barn Cat needs a new name!

Sweet Cheeks Baby Blanket

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Sweet Cheeks!
Sweet Cheeks!
What a pretty baby girl.
What a pretty baby girl.
Knit with love.
Knit with love.

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet Cheeks, indeed!
Sweet Cheeks, indeed!
Baby Blanket.
Baby Blanket.

Hon, have you ever heard me say I was born in the wrong century? If this was the 19th century (hmm, my house was built in 1882), then my interest in knitting and needlepoint (and a little sewing) wouldn’t seem so old-fashioned. When one of my college daughters needlepoints at school, her friends call her “Bubbe.”  But, if I think about the–ahem–common thread that ties these interests together, it’s really quite modern.  I love to create something out of nothing.  Which relates to my passion for writing.  See? It all ties together!

A new baby + restless hands + scrumptiously soft yarn = a baby blanket where every stitch radiates love.

Baby Blanket

Finished Size:  36″ x 45″ (91.5 cm x 114.5cm)

Materials:

Medium Weight Yarn 36 ounces, 2,100 yards (1,020 grams, 1.920 meters)

29″ (73.5 cm) Circular knitting needle, size 10 1/2 (6.5 mm) or size needed for gauge

Afghan is worked holding two strands of yarn together.

Gauge:

In pattern, 15 sts and 21 rows = 4 1/2″ (11.5 cm)

Pattern:

Cast on 113 sts.

Row 1-5:  Knit across.

Row 6:  (Right side): K7,P3, (K3, P3) across to last 7 sts, K7.

Row 7:  K4, P3, (K3, P3) across to last 4 sts, K4.

Row 8:  K7, P3 (K3, P3) across to last 7 sts, K7.

Row 9 and 10:  K4, P3, (K3, P3) across to last 4 sts, K4.

Row 11:  K7, P3, (K3, P3) across to last 7 sts, K7.

Row 12:  K4, P3, (K3, P3) across to last 4 sts, K4.

Rows 13 and 14:  K7, P3, (K3, P3) across to last 7 sts, K7.

Repeat Rows 7-14 for pattern until blanket measures approximately 44″ (112 cm) from cast on edge, ending by working Row 9 or Row 13.

Last 5 Rows:  Knit across.

Bind off all sts in knit.

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Sources:

Knitting Book–Leisure Arts “Our Best Baby Afghans, Book 2”

Pattern by Carole Prior

Yarn Shop–The Stitching Bee–Shout out to the yarn shop in Chatham, New Jersey

Happy knitting, Hon!

My Top 20 Triplets Memories

Two months old.
Two months old.

Happy 20th birthday today to our three beautiful babies!

Here are my Top 20 memories of raising two girls and a boy, born within five minutes of each other.

The triplet stroller turned heads.
The triplet stroller turned heads.

1.  Walking up and down our street to get some fresh air. (“Sleep babies, sleep!”)

2.  Watching all three babies nap in one crib, swaddled and warm. (bundled like sausages)

3.  Reading stories together, either at bedtime or on long car trips. (Except when they wanted to read out loud and were at three different reading levels.  Oh, the competition!)

Triplets plus one.
Triplets plus one.

4.  Pumpkin picking, wagon rides, and bringing home cider, doughnuts and apple butter. (looking for those perfect pumpkins)

Halloween.
Halloween.

5.  Halloween–dressing up, trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving, and the elementary school show. (Our attic doubles as a Halloween costume shop!)

6.  Thanksgiving along with many holidays spent with family. (cleaning up, cooking, celebrating and catching up)

7.  Countless trips to Baltimore (shout out to my MD family) and Long Island (Dad’s family).

Train ride to NYC.
Train ride to NYC.

8.  Day trips, especially taking the train to Manhattan. (One of my many mottos:  “Getting there is the accomplishment.  Being there is icing on the cake.”)

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9.  Building snowmen, sledding and playing in the snow. (Hot chocolate and cookies, anyone?)

First day of high school.
First day of high school.

10.  First day of school. (School supplies? The right outfit? Ready to go.)

11.  First day of camp (and first time on a big, yellow school bus)

Farm-themed b-day party.
Farm-themed b-day party.

12.  Birthday parties.  (Hon, you know I love a party!)

Skiing.
Skiing.

13.  Skiing. (Almost nothing beats a sunny day skiing.)

14.  Trip to Israel. (I knew the trip was a success when we landed in the US and my son asked, “When can we go back?”)

15.  Vacations, especially Disney World. (The secret to theme park success:  pack snacks and sandwiches.)

16. Significant religious milestones. (connecting roots from one generation to the next)

Bethany Beach, Delaware.
Bethany Beach, Delaware.

17.  Beach vacations and day trips to the Maryland, Delaware and Jersey shores.(sandcastles, sunbathing and seashell collecting)

"Baby A"
“Baby A”

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18.  Watching our determined 2 pound 9 ounce daughter grow up.

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"Baby B"
“Baby B”

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19.  Watching our feisty 4 pound 12 ounce son turn into a young man.

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"Baby C"
“Baby C”

Scan 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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20.  Watching our sassy 4 pound 4 ounce daughter morph before our eyes.

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Hon, I’m raising a virtual glass of champagne in a toast to my three 20 year-olds.  Health and happiness.

Cheers!

December Defined (A Short Video)

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Happy New Year!

December 1, the term “December Defined” popped into my head.  Children’s book author Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo had challenged me to come up with a new picture book idea every day for a month.  I did it!  And I felt like my new ideas defined the beginning of the month.

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Then, as I’m sure is true for all of you, December surged forward like a crowd of screaming teenage girls trying to get closer to a pop singer.  I thought about December now and in the past, and created a photo montage of family and friends. Mining photos, I included December photos plus a couple others.

My tween came home from middle school chorus practice singing “Simple Gifts,” so the video is set to that Shaker classic as well as a few seconds of the middle school chorus singing “Winterlight” and “Seasons of Love.” I hope you enjoy the 3 minute plus video.  I’m raising my virtual glass of champagne in a toast to a wonderful 2014.  Clink!

Hon, what defines December for you?

Credit for the beautiful version of “Simple Gifts” must be given to the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, in a video posted by James Roman.

 

19 On The 19th (Happy Birthday to My Triplets!)

Happy 19th Birthday to my triplets!

Senior Prom Pic of Baby A, B and C, 2012
Senior Prom Pic of Baby A, B and C, 2012

My Plus One, also known as “Tween Daughter” says it’s a magical birthday when your birthday falls on the date you were born. Guess what? Baby A was born at 11:19 am! Baby B followed at 11:20 and Baby C showed up at 11:24. Quite a productive five minutes, wouldn’t you say hon?

Sonogram at 9 weeks.
Sonogram at 9 weeks.
Baby A
Baby A
Baby B
Baby B
Baby C
Baby C

In honor of my “babies” turning 19, here’s a list of 19 fun facts about their childhood.

1.  When I was pregnant, Baby A was so squished she punched and kicked like crazy.  Baby B sat up and hung out, and Baby C frequently got the hiccups.

2.  Baby A weighed 2 lbs, 9 oz and came home after 6 1/2 weeks in the NICU.  Baby B was the biggest at 4 lbs, 12 oz and came home after 10 days.  Baby C weighed 4 lbs, 4 oz and came home on day 12.

3.   Our 2 year-old son climbed out of his crib and by the next day, his sisters did, too.

4.  All three woke up at the 6 am every morning no matter what time they went to sleep.

5. When the kids were toddlers, if one child came in our bed, all three would end up in our bed by the end of the night.  We called it “Triplet Radar!”

6.  During the week, as soon as the kids heard Daddy’s car in the driveway, they’d line up.  When he walked in the door, they’d take turns running towards him so he could pick them up and swing them high.

7.  I once entered the kids’ bedroom and it seemed, well, shiny!  Vaseline had been smeared across dressers and in hair.

8.  Another time, two of the three kids had stepped in a giant tub of diaper rash ointment and created white, gooey footprints on their bedroom rug.

9.  The kids knocked a tall dresser down so we bolted it to the wall.  We got rid of standing lamps.

10.  Baby gates didn’t stop the little monkeys from coming out of their bedroom so we put one on top of the other.

11.  I came in the kids’ bedroom to find ALL of the audio tapes with recordings of their first words shredded like confetti.  Stacking boxes, they reached the top dresser drawer where they found the tapes.

12.  After exploring the fireplace, they jumped up and down on they couches until they were covered in soot.

13.  Two siblings always ganged up on the third sibling–it didn’t matter which two.

14.  There was so much fighting about car seats and bath time, I created car and bath charts to determine who sat where and who took the dreaded “first bath.”

15.  When the kids melted down in restaurants, I called it live “Dinner Theatre.”

16.  They lasted about 1/2 hour in their first movie (101 Dalmations) and were more interested in the candy counter.

17.  The kids had combined boy/girl birthday parties through third grade when one boy playfully stabbed a girl with a foam noodle and broke her finger.

18.  There were only two classes in each grade of elementary school so the kids were in the same class until 5th grade when two were in one class and one was in another.

19.  In evenings and on car trips, we read books out loud together.  I started reading the Harry Potter series to them when they were in 2nd grade and we read all of the books, in addition to classic literature, together until senior year of high school.

Bonus Fun Fact:  When the kids were toddlers, some people insisted that the redheads were identical even though one’s a girl and one’s a boy! My response:  “They can’t be identical if one has something the other one doesn’t have!!!”

Dressing up in grocery bags but one is windowless!
Dressing up in grocery bags but one is windowless!

Mother’s Day Moment

Hon, please indulge me. It doesn’t have to be Mother’s Day for me to say how grateful I am to be a mom, how proud I am of my kids or how much I love them.  But, what I want to do today is spend time with all of them so this post is the prologue to the story of the last 18 1/2 year of my life.

(I can’t take credit for all of the photos. Some are mine and some aren’t.)

Baby A's tiny hand in mine.
Baby A’s tiny hand in mine. This was the first day I was allowed to hold her. She was 10 days.

Baby A was only 2 pounds 9 ounces at birth and stayed in the NICU for 6 1/2 weeks. Despite being tiny, she could breath on her own (the tube in her nose above is a Gavage feeding tube). The nurses said she screamed loudly and a lot, which demonstrated how developed her lungs were. One nurse took to carrying her around on her shoulder to calm her down. As I scrubbed up before entering the NICU to take my smallest triplet home, one of the nurses, referring to my baby, said, “When is that mother going to get here already?” The mother bear in me came out when I answered, “I’m here!”

Baby A at 3 1/2.
At 3 1/2.
Baby A is the teenager with red hair.
As a counselor at a sleep-away camp.  Here she is with some of her campers.

Proud mama (and papa) moving our firstborn into her dorm room for freshman year.

Baby A starting freshman year of college.
Starting freshman year of college.

 

Baby B swaddled and sleepy.
Baby B swaddled and sleeping. He was small but healthy.

Baby B was the largest triplet at 4 pounds, 12 ounces. In the NICU he was considered a “feeder and grower” and was able to come home after 10 days.  His colic lasted until he was 6 months. In an effort to deal with the colic, we switched to a non-dairy formula causing him to smell like a potato! He was such an affectionate baby, he’s meld into my body when I rocked him. As a toddler, he was the ringleader of the games “Let’s Smear Our Room In Vaseline,” “Let’s Step In the Diaper Rash Ointment,” and “Let’s Shred All Of The Audio Tapes Our Parents Made Of Our First Words!”

"Growl, I'm a tiger!"
“Growl, I’m a tiger!”  At his 4th birthday party.
Baby B on move in day,
On move in day of freshman year at a university.

Proud mama (and papa) attending an ROTC Army event at our son’s university and seeing him in his dress blues.

Dress blues.
Dress blues.

 

Baby C in her isolette.
Baby C in her Isolette.  The nurses said her beauty “glowed” from the inside out.

Baby C, 4 pounds 4 ounces at birth, was allowed to come home after 12 days.  She had no problem sharing a bassinet with her brother and the two of them would contentedly stare at each other. But when Baby A came home from the hospital and I laid her down next to her sister, Baby C howled with displeasure as if to say, “Who is this baby and what is doing here?  I had to either lay them head to toe or put my son in the middle.  Hon, I am here to tell you that birth order dynamics are thrown to the wind when it comes to multiples. Baby C established herself as the “oldest” (that’s a euphemism for bossiest) even if she was born third.  She had the world’s best belly laugh and, if I could have bottled it, I’d be writing my books on an island in the Caribbean right now!

Pony ride at 3 3/4.
Pony ride at 3 3/4.
Bed's made up and saying goodbye start of freshman year of college.
Bed’s made up and saying goodbye start of freshman year of college.

Proud Mama (and Papa) have known our daughter was artistic since she was 3 years old.  Her self portrait is stunning!

Self portrait, oil paints.
Self portrait our daughter painted of herself with with acrylic paints.

 

Our Plus One the day after she was born.
Our Plus One the day after she was born. She was happy and calm right from the start.

Hon, do you know what was strange about holding an 8 pounds 6 ounce newborn? She was the same size as our triplets were when they were able to sit up! Our Plus One was an easy, go-with-the-flow child who was happiest when she was surrounded by her family. Many people have asked if she was accident, to which I replied, “No, she was very planned!” More people have said, “Wow, that’s a lot of kids” to which I replied, “Four was always my lucky number.”  And countless people have said, “You had triplets and then another one?!” to which I replied, “She’s G-d’s gift to me!”

Our fourth as a toddler.
Our fourth as a toddler.
No fear on the trapeze.
No fear on the trapeze.
Leaping at ballet class.
Leaping at ballet class.

Proud Mama (and Papa) shed tears at our youngest’s “Moving Up” ceremony, but still celebrated the start of a new chapter in her life.

"Moving Up" from elementary to middle school.
“Moving Up” from elementary to middle school.

 

Antidote to Evil–Responsibility

Pregnant with triplets, week 31.
Thirty one weeks pregnant with triplets.
Triplets at 12 weeks.
Triplets at 12 weeks.

What are “antidotes to evil?”  As I learn of the world’s tragedies, horrors–unthinkable and senseless acts all–inflicted on people by other people, I wonder how to regain faith in humanity, how to feel sadness without letting it seep into my pores and effect my outlook.

My personal “antidotes to evil” include:  sweetness as in kindness, generosity and caring; the family we grew up with and the family we create; and faith, whatever religion you are and whatever that means to you.

Another word keeps circling overhead like the red-tailed hawk that rings the tall pine trees surrounding my house–responsibility.

On a small, personal scale, I was responsible for staying as healthy as I could in order to care for my unborn children.  As any parent can attest, taking care of newborns is an immense responsibility.

We have so much to teach our children.  Empathy, respect, the ability to determine right from wrong, recognizing beauty in people and the world around us, understanding the effect of our actions, and learning how to love and laugh top the list of the many things we have the responsibility to mean…to model…and to pass on.

I realize my view might be perceived as Polyannaish and doesn’t  take into account sociological and societal factors.  Still.  I can only hope that by being responsible, we can transform horrifying to happy, enmity to amity, and hatred to harmony.

Namaste.