Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Or Two.

merry-christmasA couple of weeks ago, as we were preparing to take down the Christmas tree, Jack turned to me with his big cheeks and puppy dog eyes and said, “Don’t take Christmas!” I gently explained that Christmastime was over (“Why?” “Because it’s January.” “Why?” “Because January comes after December?” “Why?”) and that we would get to have a tree and all the decorations again next year. Jack’s next query? “But can we keep the presents?”

There was an abundance of presents this year. You might even say there was an OVERabundance of presents. They didn’t ask for much. A doggie, a Milo, and a purple baby, to be exact, so when all is said and done, we could have had a much “simpler” Christmas, I am sure. But along with the stuffed animals, the costumes, the train set, and the pirate ship (more on that later), came family. An abundance of family, you might say. Henry, Jack, and Sophie get to do Christmas twice (and yes, that means more presents). But it also means two “Christmas Eves” with carols and Christmas jammies. And two Christmas mornings with bacon and stockings.

And two sets of grandparents, eight aunts and uncles (even if some were only there via FaceTime), dozens of cousins, great aunts, and great uncles, and one great grandma.

At dinner on Christmas night, Ann asked, “What was your favorite gift you ever received?” One of my sixth-graders had asked me this at the lunch table a few days before, so I was prepared. But honestly, I couldn’t remember a single gift I’d ever gotten for Christmas. (I went with the Playmobil dollhouse mansion which was a birthday present, if I recall correctly). And I wasn’t the only one who came up short. (I won’t tell you what Will’s most “memorable” present was. Hint: It was NOT his favorite.) And I know it is not because we’ve never received anything worth remembering. It’s just because our Christmas memories are shaped more by our traditions and the people we fill the holiday with than they are by the gifts we receive.

So this Christmas, while searching for gifts from Santa was a new (and popular) pastime, it was the time spent with family we will all remember:

Standing outside in our pajamas the weekend after Thanksgiving to see the trees on our street light up.


Prettiest block in Manhattan!


We should probably invest in a Selfie Stick. And some better lighting 🙂

Stopping by Operation Santa at Buckley help wrap presents for kids who are not as fortunate as we are to celebrate Christmas in such a big way.


Please excuse the blurry photo…it was a no nap sort of day!

 Moving aside all the toys we already own to make room for a big tree in the corner (this was Jack’s idea AND his job). Riding in the red wagon to pick out our tree from the tree stand on the corner. Don’t ask us how much it cost. Actually, do. It was hilariously expensive. Taking a trip to the hardware store to pick out a star for the top (and finding a bunch of other fun Christmas paraphernalia in the process…cookie cutters topped the list). Opening the box full of Daddy’s ornaments that Grammie sent (and in many cases, that Grandma and Grandpa made). Decorating our tree while Alexa (read: Pentatonix) sang PTX Christmas Deluxe Edition on repeat in the background.

Making gingerbread cookies and realizing afterwards that despite triple-checking all ingredients, Sophie was probably allergic to something in the sprinkles, and we couldn’t eat the rest of them. Have any of you ever tried to make gingerbread cookies with a two year old? How about with three? Hello, mess! Can you guess whose plate is whose?


This is the closest I could get to an “action” shot. It looks pretty contained at this point, but don’t be fooled. At one point, I was helping Sophie wash her hands in the bathroom sink (she still can’t reach), and Henry came running in “to get some more paper towels!” As he ran out, he said something like, “I made a mess, but I’m just cleaning it for you. I’m just cleaning it.” I found him in the kitchen, on a stool, cleaning up (re:spreading) the green food coloring off the cutting board. And muttering to himself, “It’s just a little mess. I’m cleaning it. I’m cleaning it.”

Searching each morning for Meatball, the Elf. He even made it to Nana and Grumples’ house!

Sure, one Christmas will fade into the next, and there will come a day when we’ll all ask each other, “Was that the year that it snowed? Did Peter and Jen make it that Christmas? Was that when Grammie’s Folly first arrived? And sure, we will probably remember this Christmas as the one that ended with one sleepless night and one stomach bug (not the same child either, so yeah, that was fun). But we will mostly remember it as the fun, festive, and family-filled few days we hope that Christmas will always be. And as we took down the tree, we talked about all the things we were going to miss until next Christmas rolled around. In the meantime, we’ve got a bunch of new toys to play with 🙂

Some highlights from under the tree(s):


Christmas Round ONE



Christmas Round TWO.


THIS is Grammie’s Folly.

Get ready for STRUM: The Remix. Album coming soon.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this Christmas a memorable one for Henry, Jack, and Sophie. As we took the ornaments down Jack bid them farewell, exclaiming, “Goodbye, ornaments! See you next Christmas!” before giving each one a kiss and laying it in the box. I know we have approximately 345 days to go, but I can’t wait to see his face light up when we open that bin again next year.



Preemie Strong

The Strumolo Clan has had a rough week. On Saturday morning, the coughs began. By Saturday afternoon the fevers arrived. By 9pm we were on stridor watch for Jack. And by 10:30, we were in the ER.


One croup diagnosis, breathing treatment, dose of steroids, and stuffed ducky later, we were back at home.


One sick and tired brother.


Two sneaky siblings hijacking his crib while he sleeps on the couch.


Second attempt at naps during illness.


Third attempt.


Sophie was next. Down for the count. 


Rocking the nebulizer. 

This is what three sick toddlers looks like:


What do you do when everyone has fevers and won’t drink? Popsicles!


Here they are working on Sissy Pig. I’m not sure what was ailing her, but Jack was definitely giving her a breathing treatment. 

After a thoroughly exhausting week for ALL five members of our family (six, if you count Sissy Pig!), it would be easy to wallow in self-pity (and there has been some of that). But November 17 is World Prematurity Day. And this year, when November 17 rolled around, despite the sniffles, and coughs, and fevers, and sleepless nights, I was reminded how lucky we are that these amazing little people made it into the world and into our lives.




Hard to believe that just two and a half years ago I could tuck these kiddos inside my shirt…


With Thanksgiving around the corner, I am feeling incredibly grateful for these little humans. And of course for all the incredible people who helped get them to where they are (serving up corn and hotdogs in Nana’s backyard).



Happy Halloween!

img_1922This year, we let Henry, Jack, and Sophie choose their own costumes. Surprise, surprise: we ended up with a Doggie, a Milo, and a Monkey. If you haven’t met them yet, you might not understand just how deeply their loyalties lie when it comes to their special animals, but Henry, Jack, and Sophie are as attached to their beloved animals (and any and all of their distant cousins and relatives) as they are to “their” colors (blue, green, and pink).

This was also the first year we went trick-or-treating. They still don’t really understand candy (not to mention that Sophie is fatally allergic to most of it), and when I asked them the first few times if they wanted to go trick-or-treating, they had mixed feelings about it. When the candy came out that night at our apartment (we were offering peanut- and tree-nut free Hershey’s kisses), they weren’t sure what to do with it. Jack was the first to realize they were edible, and when he asked, “Can I eat it?” and I replied, “Yes!” he popped the whole thing in his mouth. Wrapper and all.

I’ll set the scene as we were getting ready to go out the door on Halloween night. Everyone is (finally!) in their costume. Their mouths are covered in chocolate from the Hershey’s kiss I allowed them each to eat. There is a fight over which pumpkin bucket they want, and it takes me a while to realize that Sophie wants the one we are leaving for the neighbors. The one with all the candy in it. And it’s not the bucket she wants. It’s the candy. As I am trying to get them into the wagon (I am flying solo for trick-or-treating and considering braving the streets, but not without the wagon!), our doorbell rings.  I open the door, and a little girl dressed as a witch, and her mom, stand on the other side, bag outstretched, saying, “Trick or treat!” I give her the candy and close the door, and immediately, Henry, Jack, and Sophie look up at me and say, “Again?”

We were out the door. They LOVED every second of it. They didn’t understand why we didn’t go inside these other houses we visited, and they still don’t really understand candy, but as we made our way home with their sticky, lollipop-covered hands and faces, they kept asking, “Can we go Halloween again?” and saying, “I want to see one more neighbors.”

I’d never really thought of Halloween as a time to visit with your neighbors, meet new people, or just get out and say hi to the people in your neighborhood, but for us (for this year at least), that’s really what it was. And I’d say that’s a totally reasonable (and somewhat wonderful) reason to don a silly costume and walk (or roll) around knocking on doors way past bedtime one night out of the year.

The candy doesn’t hurt either.


First Day of School

September 13. 2016

It is hard to believe that Henry, Jack, and Sophie have started school already. Their transition into the two’s program has been nice and slow. Thirty minutes the first day, forty-five minutes the next, and so on. On Tuesday (October 11), they will have their first “full” day: three hours from 8:45 – 11:45 a.m.

They go to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and though they are clearly having a lot of fun there, they are still a little reluctant to say good-bye to Daddy when it’s time to go in.


Jack’s job is to help Daddy push the stroller (he rides on the boogie board on the back…thanks, Grace!) and Henry’s job is to deliver the empty paper towel rolls to Miss Nancy, Miss Jean, or Miss Alyssa when he arrives. Sophie generally hops from Daddy’s arms to Miss Callie’s or Miss Yvonne’s, but we’re working on it. The babies help.


A gallery of their artwork over the course of the month shows some common themes.

September 15: 

September 20:

October 4:

In the month of September, they learned all about the color red and celebrated on Red Day in their red threads.

They’ve also learned how to grocery shop, iron, and make dinner, so we’ll be outsourcing most of our household chores to the triplets in the near future.

October is orange and black month which is especially exciting because orange is Jack and Henry’s favorite color. We’re all excited for the Fall Festival next Friday!


Keeping Up and Summer Adventures


Henry, Nana, Sophie, Daddy, and Jack

I cannot keep up with this blog, but perhaps that’s appropriate, because I cannot keep up with these kiddos, either! They are growing so fast and moving so fast and talking up a storm. Some of our favorite mispronunciations and grammatical mishaps are “Hangurbers” (hamburgers), “Panio” (piano), “I right be back!” and “All of thems.”

This summer we enjoyed our first round of summer camp, trips to visit family, dipping our toes in the ocean, collecting stones, swimming, digging in the sand, and hitting up every playground, zoo, and museum we could find. Oh, and potty training. At least for some of us. A little less enjoyable for the rest of us.

Phase 1: Camp in the City

Henry, Jack, and Sophie had their first separation experience at summer camp this June and July. They went for two hours in the morning twice a week to cycle through art, music, and gym classes with several other playmates. This was a big deal for them! It took a while for H and J to adjust, but soon enough all three were saying, “Bye! See you later! Go get a coffee?” and waving us out the door as soon as we stepped off the elevator. Pictures are limited since they spent most of their time in those classes without us, but here they are waiting for the bus:


Riding the bus to and from camp was its own adventure. Jack thought it was like the merry-go-round, and he would say, “Again?” every time the driver stopped. Three toddlers on the city bus is still a two grown-up job, but fun to have more transportation options than triple strollers and wagons!

Park Time: 

Summer days in the city also included a lot of time at the park. Raising three toddlers in the city certainly has its challenges, but boy, are we grateful for our proximity to Central Park. There is SO much to do. So much to explore! Here we are hitting up The Carousel, The Central Park Zoo, and the newly refurbished (do you refurbish a playground?) Ancient Playground. Sprinklers in general are a HUGE hit.

Lunch at the zoo:


And if we get tired of playgrounds and carousels, there’s always hide-and-seek. Hard to believe this is in the midst of a bustling city like Manhattan. Can you tell I love Central Park?

Weekend in Norfolk

The first part of our summer also included some time visiting Grammie and Nonno (and Pheobe) in Norfolk, where we enjoyed “riding” the train at “Grammie’s library,” “swimming” in Tobey Pond, and a visit with Grandma (Great Grandma).

“Grammie’s Train:”

Visit with Grandma:


Tobey Pond:


We also enjoyed running down the hill at the Norfolk library and playing hide-and-seek in the windows.


Other highlights included a trip to The Farmhouse (that’s now the second restaurant we can add to our list), chalk graffiti on the new stone patio, and of course hanging out with Aunt Addie.


Mmmm….grilled cheese and french fries!


Our First Week at Nana’s

The Wengers Come to Visit

In addition to fireworks, summer camp, and countless hours in the park, July brought our annual cousin visit with the Wengers: one week at Nana’s house with ALL FIVE GRANDCHILDREN. That’s six adults and five children under the age of four. In what is technically a three-bedroom house. For EIGHT days.

Thank goodness for the big backyard.


And the bubble machine.


And the beach.


We spent a lot of time negotiating (and renegotiating) sleeping arrangements in an effort to establish at least a couple of hours when all five children would sleep at the same time. This is harder than you think. Or maybe it’s not if you’re thinking to yourself, “That sounds nearly impossible.” It doesn’t help that our kids already treat bedtime like a slumber party every night. Poor Lily. Their attempts to soothe her, “It’s okay, Lily,” and “Don’t cry, Lily,” were rarely effective, but adorable nonetheless.

If negotiating sleeping arrangements with five under four was tricky, managing a *good* family photo of the cousins was impossible. Getting the five of them to sit in the same place was its own sort of struggle.

Managing a decent photo once they were there proved even more difficult. Adorable matching outfits? Check. Adorable children? Check. Looking at the camera? Check/check minus. Smiling? Check minus.


There were MANY cookies involved.

We did end up with several hilarious outtakes. Scroll through to get a glimpse of what our photo shoot looked like.

This one makes my heart melt a little though:


On cloudy days, we were glad to have the Children’s Museum nearby.

And we were always glad to have big cousin Noah leading the charge.

Phase 2: Setting up Shop at Nana’s House

DSC_0370Ok, Grumples lives there too (and Dorothy), but if you ask Henry, Jack, and Sophie, they’ll tell you it’s Nana’s house. Sorry, Grumples! As July came to a close, we set up shop at Nana’s house for three full weeks of beach days, concerts in the park, swim practice, and various backyard shenanigans.

Here we are getting ready to go (plus a gazillion other bags):


Summer in the suburbs has a whole different feel from summer in the city. Traveling around by car (well, minivan), walking outside in bare feet (and with bare bums!), going to Target…these are all perks of Suburbia. A five minute drive to the beach? Yes, please.

Backyard Time

Grilling, driving, mowing, snacking, cooking, reading, digging, swinging, running, sliding…endless hours of fun in the backyard.

Beach Time

Two (six?) thumbs up for sand. And Nana’s house has sand in the backyard AND at the beach (ocean side and bay side). There’s digging to be done, sand castles cakes to make, and feet to bury. When it comes to the water, Sophie and Jack enjoyed the ocean,  while Henry was more interested in the bay. We all developed an affinity for collecting stones, though none of use were too discerning when it came to choosing our favorites. I’m pretty sure Nana still has thirty to forty rocks scattered about her house. And her backyard. And the patio.

Other highlights from Nana’s house?

We finally experienced Play-doh.

They are kind of obsessed. It’s a little unhealthy.

Potty training. The short version: Henry is totally into it, Jack wants to be into it sometimes, and Sophie couldn’t care less. We’ve got one potty covered in stickers and another growing a bit dusty in corner. So…winter break?

Target and Shop ‘N Stop!

In the city, EVERYthing is delivered. In Suburbia, we do the shopping ourselves. I swear these carts were designed specifically with us in mind.


Swimming Pools, Scooters, and Ice Cream

Ok, that last one is in Islip, but we went there during “Phase 2” of our summer. So nice to have so many family members nearby!

Challenge: Can you tell who is who in the picture on the left above? Hint: That’s me in the middle.


They liked it. I swear.

And best of all? Adventures. Loads and loads of adventures. We have those in the city too, but long summer weekends and laid back summer days meant even more time for frolicking about as a family. Our days at Nana’s were so full of adventures that the minute they woke up in the morning, Jack would ask, “Where we goin’ today, Mama? What we doin’ today, Mama?”

Our adventures included the aquarium, the game farm, the children’s museum, the ducks at the lake, and of course, the usual playground hopping.

The Aquarium in Riverhead

A HUGE hit! Even the shuttle to and from the parking lot was a success. And yes, there were monkeys at the aquarium. Go figure.

The Long Island Game Farm

Not gonna lie: this place was a little creepy. But everyone had their favorite part. Henry’s was the alpaca pen. Sophie’s was the ostrich. And Jack’s was probably the puddle. Let’s be honest. They all really liked the puddle.

Playground Hopping

Summer Nights

Our days would often end with a concert in the park or dinner at the beach.

Phase 3: Maine!


This began with a 10-hour drive. Enough said.

I’m pretty sure this a mash-up of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” and “Baa Baa Black Sheep.” Musical genius? Perhaps.

The drive included a stop at the Children’s Museum in Portland:

When in Maine…

Our week in Maine included SUPping (well, land SUPping if that’s a thing), hiking, drawing, and of course, popovers. JoPoHo. ALMOST worth the wait and the incredible lack of parking. ALMOST. Sorry, Aunt Addie!!!


Top of Cadillac Mountain

Beach Time

The biggest hit was probably the beach. Every afternoon at low tide we would venture down for some stone collecting, cake making, and toe dipping. No ocean is too cold for these kiddos.

We also caught a parade (“I don’t like these friends!”), went swimming in Echo Lake, and had our first guitar lesson. And a trip to the 5 and 10 was a fun (and inexpensive) way to kill some time. So was hanging out with Pheobe.


Whew. Up next? These kiddos are headed to school tomorrow!

The days are long, but man, the summers are short.


ER Trip #5


On Saturday, Sophie started gaining on Henry with trips to the emergency room. Jack is still holding out, and we’re just hoping that doesn’t mean he’s waiting for something REALLY big before he makes his first trip. Everything is a competition when there are three. Just kidding. Sort of.

The back story: 

On Friday, Jack woke up with a runny nose. By Friday afternoon, Sophie had taken on most of the drippiness, and overnight she started coughing a bit. On Saturday morning, she was a bit more congested, and by Saturday afternoon post-nap, she was breathing very audibly. Her temp was 99.5. She started breathing a bit faster, and since it was Saturday evening and we were away from home, we went to the ER, thinking they would tell us: steam from the shower, cold air, humidifier, lots of fluids, lots of rest.

At intake they didn’t give me much info except that her temp was 100.1 and it didn’t look like she was retracting. She was hysterical during this whole process, so it was a bit tricky to get an accurate read on anything. She especially didn’t like the “light on [her] toe!” Re: the oxygen monitor. She has clearly forgotten that she used to have one practically permanently affixed to her tiny little foot during her days in the NICU.

When the doctor came in to see us, she said Sophie’s breathing did sound loud and fast, and it sounded “croupy.” We’ve dealt with croup before, and though that also involved one trip to the ER for a breathing treatment and steroids, I thought, “Ok. That stinks, but we know how to deal with that.”

One listen with the stethoscope and the doctor said, “Actually, it sounds like pneumonia.” We’re going to need a chest x-ray. Pneumonia?! She literally just got a runny nose approximately thirty hours ago. WTF.

And if you’ve ever attempted a chest x-ray with a feisty two year old, you know the next part of our hospital adventure was less than awesome. It didn’t help that I couldn’t seem to unlock the guided access on our iPad and all my attempts to turn the volume down only made things longer, so we walked the halls and filled that x-ray room with the booming sounds of Daniel Tiger at FULL volume. Add a screaming kid to the mix, and we were LOUD.

It turns out it IS pneumonia, and we had to wait quite a while longer for Sophie’s heart rate to go down and her oxygen saturation to go up. In the meantime, she became quite fond of “the red light on [her] toe” and even asked me to take a picture so she could show Jack and Henry.


A dose of Tylenol, some antibiotics plus a prescription for more, and we were on our way. All in all, the ER trip was only about three hours, and we were very grateful for Daniel Tiger. And iPads. And amazing nurses (thanks, Janice)! And of course, Nana.

The next morning Sophie’s breathing seemed even louder as we waited for CVS to open so we could pick up the antibiotics. She did enjoy part of a waffle while watching Mickey Mouse Club House. 

Perk of being sick: eating whatever you want wherever you want and watching t.v.

Still, we couldn’t get Sophie’s breathing to calm down, and after frantically trying to pack up to go BACK to NYC (I swear we had just unpacked) while managing two slightly cranky brothers and one wheezy Sophie, we made for the ER again. On the way, Sophie’s breathing slowed and quieted, so we stopped at CVS to pick up her meds. She continued to breathe slowly and quietly (again, thank you Daniel Tiger!) so we made for Manhattan.

Here she enjoyed more eating whatever she wanted (or not eating whatever she didn’t want), wherever she wanted, and watching t.v. This is us “eating” dinner on the couch and watching Finding Nemo. That’s her dinner plate in between us.


By this morning, she was feeling (and sounding) MUCH better, and consequently so were Mom and Dad. It was a “fancy pancake” kind of morning.

This afternoon, Sophie resumed her normal behavior of refusing her nap and choosing instead to play with all her “friends” in her crib and sing to her brothers. Until they wake up. So glad she’s feeling better 🙂

Until our next ER visit…or at least until I can get my act together to write about something else. With any luck for blogger and readers, we’ll have non-emergency room content coming soon.

Our ER Stats:

  • Henry: 3
  • Sophie: 2
  • Jack: 0
  • Trips in Manhattan: 2
  • Trips in Southampton while visiting Nana: 2 😦
  • Chest x-rays: 2
  • Diagnoses: Virus, Peanut allergy, forehead stitches, croup, pneumonia
  • Blech, BLECH, blech, double blech, triple blech




Three’s (Almost) Never a Crowd


I LOVE having multiples. Sure, there are times when it’s difficult. Like when I have to get all three from the upstairs to the downstairs at my parents’ house, and nobody wants to be left alone upstairs, and nobody wants to be left alone downstairs, and they can’t walk the stairs by themselves (or sometimes they just won’t), so you try to make a break for it with one before the others notice, but they’re too fast and they get out the door before you can close it, so you end up carrying all three down the stairs at once because you can’t leave them alone at the top of the stairs. Yeah, that was hard.

As some of you might know, I’ve been a member of several “Moms of Triplets” groups online (there aren’t actually enough moms of triplets in my area to be in a group that meets in person), and someone asked a few weeks ago, “If you could have all three of your triplets as singletons instead, would you?” The resounding response was, “No!” And I have to agree. Would I have chosen to have triplets? That would also be a no, since I would never willingly put myself, my husband, my family, and my three little fighters through any of the risks and worries that come along with a triplet pregnancy. We are reminded nearly every day of how lucky we are that we made it through a high risk pregnancy, a 28-week birth, and a two-and-a-half month NICU stay without much drama.

But I really do love having multiples. Logistically, it can be challenging (see the upstairs/downstairs conundrum above). There is no easy errand to run with three toddlers in tow. Traveling takes an INTENSE amount of planning and then those plans fail, and it takes a lot more patience and flexibility (my patience meter generally runs a bit lower than average, I think, so these moments are especially challenging). I am convinced there is far more mischief during nap time than there ever would be sans triplets. And let’s not forget: They outnumber us. Every day.


But I LOVE that I have three smiling faces to greet me every morning when they wake up, and three rounds of kisses to send me off to work each day. I love the moments when we hear three sets of giggles, each one making the others laugh louder and longer, and it seems like it will never stop. I love that they have each other to chat with when they’re up early or can’t fall asleep at night (yes, I have my selfish reasons for loving this, but the built in friendship is really what makes me happy). And I love that they’ll bring each other their special animals if ever one of the other two is upset. Or even if they just happen to find Sophie’s monkey, “Monk,” lying around. I know I’ll need to worry about them not being treated as individuals as they get older, and I know there are times when none of them get the attention they are seeking (it’s getting harder and harder to snuggle three at a time), but I also know they will always have two best friends looking out for them, four other shoulders to lean on, and two extra sets of arms for that hug when they are feeling sad.

There is no question that it is utterly exhausting parenting three two-year-olds at once. Potty training three at a time? Don’t get me started. And the days when they don’t nap? Oof. But at the end of the day (well, most days), I really love it. And I couldn’t imagine our family any other way.

We’ve recently begun reading “Babar and His Children,” (also sometimes published as “Babar At Home”). Did you know that Babar and Celeste had triplets?*

Babar and His Children


Anyway, the story is filled with the drama and mischief you might expect that comes with raising triplets–Flora nearly chokes on her rattle,their pram (probably too heavy with the weight of three baby elephants!) begins to slide down the hill the instant Arthur is slightly distracted, Alexander uses Cornelius’ hat as a boat and begins to float away–and while our story has thus far been free of any angry crocodiles, I do think Babar sums it up perfectly at the end:

“Truly it is not easy to bring up children, but aren’t they worth it! I can’t imagine how I’d get along without them now.”

How right you are, Babar. How right you are.



*There are several sets of famous triplet characters in children’s literature: