It Wasn’t Perfect, But It Was Pretty Darn Cute.

The negotiations started weeks ago. One of our children needed ZERO encouragement to don a pretty outfit and perform in front of family and friends (I’ll let you decide which one). One of our children was pretty adamant about NOT participating in the wedding festivities. And one of our children fell somewhere in the middle: willing to fulfill his duties as flower boy, sort of excited about the outfit, but not quite as enthusiastic as the first.

Two participatory flower children would be a step up from the last family wedding they played a part in, but really, we were aiming for three. Their traditional Vietnamese wedding outfits (ao dais) has been custom made, and considering the flower child holdout was the godchild of the groom, getting him (or her) down the aisle felt like a high priority.

The negotiation went something like this:

Me: What if I gave you some Hershey kisses if you do your job at the wedding?

Child: 500 Hershey kisses!

Me: That’s too many.

Child: 100!

Me: How about 20?

Child: Woah. Ok! Twenty’s a lot!”

The math teacher in me cringed a bit at her offspring’s poor number sense, but the mother in me was thrilled to be emerging victorious (if bribing your child with twenty Hershey kisses can be considered a victory) from this negotiation.

The rehearsal did not go very well. Despite the promise of a score of Hershey kisses, two-thirds of our crew followed through with their flower child obligations, and one barely made it down the aisle with a lot of (literal) hand-holding from Mom. This was not the plan.

Considerations for alternative scenarios commenced immediately, and we spent the next twenty-two hours preparing ourselves for Plan B: three flower children and one Mom or Plan C: two flower children.

And then, at 1:30pm yesterday, without any mention of Hershey kisses, our holdout asked to suit up. Nevermind that it was a little too early to get dressed. Nevermind that there was a pretty big chance the ao dai would get wrinkled or stained before the ceremony. This kid wanted to get in his wedding outfit, and we were not going to stop him.

Two and a half hours later, they did what they had been asked to do. Quite literally. They threw the petals on the walkway (our efforts to distinguish between “throwing” and “sprinkling” came a bit late in the game) and went (RAN) to find Daddy at the end of the aisle. And while there may have been some Hershey kisses involved (only five!), those were really just a reward for a job well done.

I am so proud of my three little people for being so brave and for doing their job so well (which included sitting quietly–if not inconspicuously–throughout the ceremony). It wasn’t perfect, but it was pretty darn cute.

And what a special, special day it was celebrating Uncle Andrew and Aunt Evelynn. We are so glad they got to be a part of it.

You Can Squidge Me Forever, Mommy

This kid. Turning four tomorrow, and he is already such a big kid. That realization hits me sometimes, quickly, intensely, and unexpectedly. Like when I hear rustling in the kitchen at 6AM and I discover Henry in the freezer, pulling out the waffles. “I’m just getting breakfast ready,” he says. Or when he comes out of his room in the morning in a new pair of pajamas and says, “My bed got wet last night,” and we realize he took off his pajamas, put them in the hamper, got a new pair from the closet and put them on, and then went back to bed. All by himself. In the dark. In the middle of the night. Or like the other night when was helping him brush his teeth before bed. And there was nothing in particular that triggered it, but I just suddenly realized that he was getting so big. I gave him a big hug and a dozen kisses.

“What are you doing, Mom?” he asked through fits of giggles. And I said, “I just love you so much, sometimes I have to hug you and squidge you. You’re getting so big!” “But you can squidge me forever, Mom. Even when I’m a grown up and I’m taller than you, you can stand on your tiptoes and squidge me.”

Heart. Melted.

And now I’ve quoted him and written it down to live for all eternity in cyber space so that when he does grow taller than me and he starts to squirm away from my hugs and kisses, I can remind him, “You told me I could squidge you forever.”

The days are long, but the years are short.

Dance Like No One Is Watching

This girl. She dances like no one is watching, she sings like no one is listening (although I think she secretly hopes we all are), and she carries joy in her heart and spreads it wherever she goes.

After several blissful nights of uninterrupted sleep, and just hours before our road trip to VA to visit the cousins, her coughing began. In the grand scheme of things, last night’s breathing battles were pretty minimal. No albuterol needed (until 5AM this morning, that is), no trip to the hospital, no oxygen mask. But a sleepless night is a sleepless night, and a persistent and wheezy cough for a kid with asthma is always a bit unsettling.

Still, this girl jumped out of bed at 5AM, a smile on her face and only one concern: “If I go to Noah and Lily’s and I’m sick there, I will give Noah and Lily my germs.”

I am inspired by her concern for others, her ability to choose joy in the face of her frustrations, and her incredible zest for life.

Her latest catch phrase is, “This is going to be SO great.” This adventure, this Magna-Tile house, this waffle, you name it. Whatever it is, it’s going to be SO great. Especially if Sophie has anything to do with it. We are t-minus two hours from the cousins’ house, albuterol and inhaler in hand, and I can already tell: it’s going to be SO great.

How Lucky Are We?

It’s 12pm. We are six hours into our week at home with HSJ and Mom, and several days into winter vacation. We just got back from two rounds of Christmas (first at Nana’s, then at Grammie’s), and now we have only partially unpacked. Add to the usual mountain of toys and clothes this year’s Christmas haul, and to say our two-bedroom apartment is a bit overwhelmed would be a bit of an understatement.

I have a thousand things to do: load the dishwasher, finish unpacking, wipe the paint of the floor (and the bathroom sink, and the walls, and my childrens’ hands), put away the ingredients from lunch, tackle the pile of mail in the entryway…my to do list is literally three pages long (SIDE NOTE: Sophie asked, “Why is it only three pages?” when she found it. Answer? Because I have surely forgotten at least three dozen things I need to do). So as the kids sat and ate their lunch, I thought to myself, “What should I tackle? What’s the priority here?” as I surveyed the mess in the kitchen (and the dining room, and the hallway). “I should take advantage of the fact that they are entertaining themselves,” I thought. And then, I peeked around the corner to see just how lunch was going, and it hit me like a ton of bricks: HOW LUCKY ARE WE?

How lucky are we, that we have three kids who ADORE each other? Who make each other laugh? Who WANT to spend time together? How lucky are we that the thing that keeps them occupied and entertained is their sibling bond? How lucky are we that they have built in best friends and that they look out for each other EVERYWHERE? How lucky are we to have two boys and a girl who fit so seamlessly together, they are, more often than not, a singular unit rather than brothers and sister, but who, at the same time, have had their own, wonderful personalities from the minute they were born (twelve weeks early, no less)?

I am not so naive that I can be certain these bonds will last forever (though I am optimistic enough that I hope they will). And believe me, we have our fair share of sibling rivalries and fights. By 9AM this morning, we were discussing the pros (built in friends and playmates!) and cons (hard to find alone time) of being a triplet, and shortly before I wrote this post, one Strumolo scratched another, because she told him not to eat his grilled cheese, and then he did anyway. We are constantly worried that they depend too much on each other, or that they don’t get enough individual attention, or that we are unwittingly comparing them to one another.

But at the end of the day (or, in this case, I suppose in the middle of it), I am struck by their closeness. I am amazed by how well they get along, and I am delighted by how much fun they have together. I am grateful, yes, but it is more than that. I am truly in awe of their special relationship, and even though I know we all had very little influence on how they came to be in this world–two identical boys and their triplet sister–and even though there are plenty of moments when the fact that we have triplets thoroughly exhausts me, I am so incredibly glad (and sort of in disbelief) that this is the family we landed.

I am sitting on the kitchen floor as I write this. Dishes still undone, mess (and paint) EVERYWHERE. And the kids have moved on from their grilled cheese to an episode of “Paw Patrol.” Because they DO adore each other, and they DO entertain each other, but then they remember that Mom is home, and they’re pretty interested in what she is doing too. So, the pups from “Paw Patrol” are babysitting for twenty minutes so I can sit and write. Hoping that as the rest of the day, the week, the month, our lives, unfold, I might remember this moment, or at least this idea of how very lucky we are.