In our house being part of a big family means you will never be bored and you will never feel lonely. The advantage is that there is always something to do and someone to talk to, but likewise the disadvantage is that it is rarely quiet, and if you want/need some privacy you have to seek it out somewhere in the house. Some days it feels like we operate a home day care, but in reality, it is just our everyday life.
Can you tell us a little bit about all of your children?
We have 6 kids, although now Amanda is 20 and Mitchell is 17, so we technically have 4 kids, a teen and a college student. Amanda and Mitchell came with their Dad as a package deal when we got married in 2002- their biological mother died, so I consider them “my” kids too. We all dislike the term Stepchildren and Step Mom so we dropped that lingo and went with Bonus Child and Bonus Mom in the beginning. Now we just say parent and child and unless someone specifically asks, we have an understanding among ourselves. We expanded the family in October 2005 with Eli, CJ and Natalie our triplets. Then because life is full of surprises, we added our bonus baby, Charlotte in June of 2007.
Amanda is a responsible and hilarious woman who is my partner in crime. We love to shop, go out for lunch or coffee and she is instrumental in helping me pull pranks and practical jokes on her father. When the triplets came home from the NICU and we were ready to hire a night nurse, Amanda stepped in on her Winter Break from school and did the night shift for 4 weeks in December 2005. I can’t thank her enough for that amazing gift and since then she has become an overly qualified babysitter for infants. She is a certified lifeguard and water safety instructor in the summer months and she is like a built in swim teacher to her siblings. She will be a sophomore in college this fall and when she is away at school we miss her terribly.
Mitchell is entering his junior year of high school. He is a varsity football player and the younger kids totally idolize him. They wrestle and monkey around with him everyday after school and I know he has a special soft spot for his littles. Mitchell continues to use his younger siblings as chick magnets, and asks his girl friends to “help” him babysit, which is a guise to get the girls to come over to our house. Mitchell loves to see the triplets at his Friday Night Football games and it is pretty darn cute to see them cheering for him. As far as teen age boy issues go- his room is gawd awful disgusting and he has to his own laundry. He recently ate an entire 3 pound brisket from the crock pot because he was hungry and did not realize it was not a single serving.
Eli is our first born triplet. He is full of energy and has a devilish streak. I would say that even though the triplets are a pack of thieves, Eli is the instigator and chief of mischief. He enjoys sushi with chopsticks, coloring on furniture and is planning an elaborate wedding with his girlfriend from preschool. He looks just like Mitchell and often calls himself Mini Mitchell.
CJ (Caleb James) is #2 in triplet birth order. He was the peanut of the trio at just barely over 900 grams. He struggled the most in the NICU and is still our fighter. At 4 weeks he contracted MRSA and was in isolation until he came home. Caleb had bi lateral strabismus corrective eye surgery and has no long term complications from his prematurity. He has a happy go lucky attitude and is always using his dimple and smile to manipulate his requests. In the summer of 2007 we discovered he has Celiac Disease which thankfully is managed with a gluten free diet. CJ knows he can’t have wheat or gluten and is really great about not sharing foods when he is unsupervised. If you ask him, he spells his name, C period, J period, cute period.
Natalie is the diva portion of the triplets, always has been, always will be. From the NICU days she has voiced her opinions and let her needs be known. Since she is a rose between two thorns, she plays up her girlie side with bows, fancy sparkly shoes and dresses. She is the only one of our children who has a lovie companion for sleeping. Natalie befriended the one blanket that was hideous even when new. As parents we named the flat cat looking shaped blanket, “road kill kitty” since it looks as if it is a flattened feline, and to this day, she lovingly refers to her special, road kill kitty cat. Meow!
Charlotte made her debut in June of 2007 just 19 months after “her triplets”. We worried that she would feel left out of the group but as time has passed she is just part of their pack. With three peer models to mimic this little girl did everything early so she could keep up with the rest of them. Of all of our children she has the most nick names given to her from her family members. At birth she was very little, or weedle and she was affectionately called, so in addition to weedle, she is Charlie, Charlie Lana, Bebe, and Carlotita. No matter what you call her she will always be the BABY!
When weighing our options for infant triplet child care we found that domestic options were too expensive because the fees were based per child. We knew that once the three were mobile we would need help beyond the occasional babysitter. We found Cultural Care Au pair agency (www.culturalcare.com) from a referral of another triplet family. It made sense for us go with a live in care giver for the flexibility of scheduling. With three micro preemies in winter we needed to be sure that someone was home to care for them and protect them from RSV in day cares environments. Since our older kids invaded our privacy already, adding another person did not have much impact on our home life. In fact, our au pairs have become like an older daughter to us and we include them in every family function so they are less like an employee and more like a sibling to our children. That being said, you get what you pay for with an au pair, and we put our hearts and souls into making the au pair feel welcome. In turn we have had girls that have gone above and beyond their typical duties to make our lives better. We spoil them, and they spoil us- it is a two way street. We have selected candidates that were from large families with a teen brother so that nothing Mitchell could do or say would shock them, and we found that the girls with preschool type experience worked well with caring for triplets. Our au pair can work up to 45 hours a week and it is the same price if you have 2 kids or 12 so for us the value exceeds anything we could do locally. As an added bonus our little kids are practically bi-lingual in Spanish too. We share our traditions with our Au pair and likewise she shares hers, so our kids are exposed to new and different things. Having an Au Pair has been rewarding beyond just the babysitting aspect. We would be lost without the extra help at home.
When CJ was diagnosed with Celiac Disease I became obsessed with gluten free recipes and cooking. I discovered that it is best to embrace what you can eat and not dwell on what you can’t have- so I have adapted my own recipes to be gluten free. As a gluten free diet becomes more mainstream in treating the behavioral symptoms associated with Autism and ADD, other parents are scrambling to find meals they can prepare for their families. My goal in posting a gluten free Friday is to simplify the mystery about eating this way, and show some tasty foods that are quick and easy to fix. I wanted to heighten the awareness of Celiac Disease and being gluten free.
Yes, the marker did come out of the leather on the couch, there are faint traces of it. Our walls look like a Jackson Pollack mural and we have decided to just leave them splatter marked with crayon and marker until we move. It is extreme parenting to ignore when your kids color on the walls, but now that we just let them have that wall, it has taken the allure out of it and we have a conversation piece to say the least. It is hard not to notice a wall like that.
A big thank you to Helene for being our featured blogger of the week! Be sure to visit The Silly Slutsky Family and say “hi”!
And here’s Helene’s question for all of you: “Are you sick and tired of hearing about Jon and Kate from complete strangers? Do random strangers ask you about Jon and Kate?”
Congratulations to Shelley of The 4 Barron Monkeys! You have won our Amy’s Card Creations Giveaway!