We’re going to the zoo, zoo, zoo!

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So traveling with kids.  Let’s talk about it for minute.

I used to travel for work ALL the time.  I could pack in 10-15 minutes.  I could get from my house through the airport and to my gate in 90 minutes max.  I never checked luggage.  Oh, and I got to relax and read on the plane.

NOT ANYMORE! 🙂  Now I have to start packing weeks in advance to make sure I have everything I need for the upcoming trip and that it fits.  We have to schedule a car service if flying and if we do not have enough adults to hold all the babies, then we have to arrange for car seats.  When we went to Hawaii over Christmas, we needed an extra car for our 14 (yes 14) bags.  Four of those bags are just for the two strollers and extra seats.  Two were for my parents.  That leaves eight full of diapers, food, bottle, formula, toys, and extra everything.  We leave for the airport 2.5 hours before our flight and found a wonderful company that assists us through the airport to the lounge and then our gate.  It is a process.  Plus, we are their constant source of entertainment for the entire flight.  Forget enjoying a meal, reading, or taking a much needed nap.

Now I always said that my choice to have multiple kids would never take away from us being able to give them all the experiences I had growing up, especially traveling.  So we brave it.  And the kids are actually all really good travelers.  Except when it comes to sleeping.  At home, they sleep a solid 12 hours a night.  On vacation…not so much.  They were maybe 7 months old when we went to Hawaii and everyone ended up having to sleep with a baby the entire trip.  They refused to sleep in their portable cribs.  Fast forward to Easter in Santa Barbara.  Nope.  Almost 1 year old and Marcus and I have all 4 kids in the bed and did not get much sleep at all.  So, I decided that before heading to Cabo in August, we would take a little mini trip down to San Diego and see how they do now that they were almost 14 months.

We drove down to San Diego which is about a 3 hour drive and they all did fantastic in the car.   It was about 1pm when we arrived at the San Diego Zoo and they loved all the animals.  We got to our hotel, the U.S. Grant, around 6pm to give us time to rinse off, change and go downstairs for dinner.  Now they were wonderfully accommodating and set us all up in a private dining room and they kids all sat through an almost 2 hours dinner and ate very well.  So I thought, hey, super smooth so far and they have to be exhausted so we’re good!  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Now I don’t know whether it’s a new environment or that they are all constantly teething now, but Quinn refuses to sleep in a portable crib but he also will wake up if you have him in the bed (I think he gets too warm) and then he lets loose a blood curdling scream.  When we just had Kai, there were two of us and one of him.  He always slept between us and if he got up, one of us would rock him back to sleep and that was it.  Now when Quinn lets loose, there are 3 other kids in the room.  It is instant panic mode.  You do not want the other babies to wake and cause a chain reaction.  In San Diego, he woke up Rowan (who does NOT like to be woken up…not sure where she gets that…lol) who in turn, lets out a scream of her own.  Vivi and Kai were angels and slept through all of it, but Daddy and Papa once again did not get much sleep.

We did SeaWorld on the way home the next day and again, the kids were fantastic and loved all of the sea animals.  We did not see the Orcas out of principle, but we pretty much saw everything else.  And I will say, not having to deal with formulas or bottles anymore is a game changer.  It’s one less suitcase to pack and they can eat packs on the go in between meals.

So…wish us luck for Cabo next month.  They are now able to walk so they will want to be up and down the aisles of the plane and don’t understand why they have to stay in their seats for takeoff and landing.  Bless my mother for getting them all Fire tablets on Prime Day.  It should be enough to distract them temporarily.

One last little tip or piece of advice to all the parents out there who think traveling is just too much.  When you (and your children) look back on their life, you are not going to remember your child throwing a fit on the plane.  You won’t remember the stress of losing one in the airport for a split second.  Lost or delayed bags will be a distant memory.  Even the lack of sleep for the entire week of vacation will not matter.  The memories you make on those trips though will be remembered forever and they will shape the adults your little humans end up becoming.  I know schedules are easier, monotony prevents chaos, but what kind of a life is that?  Push yourselves.  Teach your kids that sometimes, the most difficult things are the most rewarding.  And get out there and travel.  Expose them to other cultures, different ways of life, people who grew up drastically different from them.  They will be better for it.

 

I walked into Kai’s school today and he was outside on the playground with two of his friends. Neither one looks like him. One was a boy. One was a girl. Not only does that not matter, it’s not even a thought to any of them.

The pure joy of them just holding hands and playing in a circle stopped me in my tracks. I would normally just stand there and take it in but it was too precious not to capture and share.

As a father, I never want that to end. (I just started to type the word unadulterated. I know the typical usage and definition but is it not interesting that I was about to talk about unadulterated joy and I literally mean joy that has not been tainted by adults). My goal is to keep that unadulterated joy from becoming, well, adulterated. We, as parents, and just adults in general need to be hyperaware of what we do, what we say, and how we act around children. We need to present the best parts of ourselves and let the negativity dissipate with our generation.

Now I cannot control other adults and I definitely cannot control all of the different media that my children will be exposed to during their youth (though I will do my damnedest…and I am pretty savvy when it comes to technology). I can however do my best to keep their original coding intact and try to undo any outside damage with positive reinforcement at home.

I believe everyone, even if they themself had a tough childhood, had those moments of our joy that they still remember to this day. If you’re reading this, try to find those memories. And I challenge you, if you have not made a new one in a long time, go make one. Let it remind you how small most of the things are that we let weigh us down. And, for me, let it make you consciously, fully present when you are around young impressionable minds.

Let the kids believe in magic. Let them think this world is and can be better than it is…and just maybe, they will manifest that reality.

Childhood Joy

Brotherly Love

These two 😍

So every morning now, if Quinn sees Kai and I leaving for school, he looks like the saddest kid in the world. So I end up just taking him to drop off and pick up Kai most days.

This morning, I had to put Quinn down for a moment and he walked right up to his big brother and put his arms around him. It lasted for a good 3-4 minutes before I picked him up and we said goodbye to Kai.

Growing up without a sibling close in age, this just warms my heart to see. All my kids are close and spend time playing together, but this relationship between big bro and little bro is pretty special.

1 year mark!

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So we made it!  One year.

Anyone else who has multiples will most likely tell you that the first year is the hardest.  We were blessed with pretty easy, healthy babies and it was still just a LOT of work.

They are all sleeping through the night now.  7pm-7am.  Quinn and Kai share a room and they always seem to get up earlier than the girls.  The girls, who also share a room, usually like to sleep in about half an hour later than the boys.

NO MORE BOTTLES!!!  This is huge…I feel like I have been washing bottles for the last 3 years of my life (in actuality, it’s only been about 2.5 years of my life).  It’s kind of strange to realize that you are completely done with something.  With Kai, I saved everything, knowing that I would hopefully have to get it all out again for our second child.  Now, I’m packing everything up to send to friends who are expecting and it feels great 🙂

A lot of moms ask me if I am going to miss the baby phase, mostly because they do.  I can honestly say that I loved every single minute of it.  But no, I am not going to miss it to the point where I want to go through it again.  God gave us 3 this time…and doing everything 3 times…well, you definitely get your fix.  I am looking forward to the next stages of life with them (as long as they do not come and go too fast).

So what is next on the docket?  Well, Quinn is fully walking and though the girls can walk if they want to, they choose to knee walk.  I have never seen another baby do it and I’m not sure whether it was Rowan or Vivi who started the hot, new trend but it does not seem to be going anywhere.  Teething.  When you are a new, expecting parent, soooo many other parents warn you about what lies ahead.  The only thing that has ever come close to being as bad as I was warned is teething.  It is absolutely miserable seeing your kids in terrible pain and not being able to do anything about it.  We go through boxes of Camilia and if it gets unbearable for them, I will resort to Tylenol.  We have every freezable and non-freezable teether on the market and free damp washcloths as well.  It took the triplets so long to start getting their teeth that they are now getting 2-4 all at once.  Poor Vivi hardly smiled last week which is tough to witness when she normally smiles about 100 times every 10 minutes.

Kai finished his first year of school.  It was almost surreal.  He started summer school last week and they swim every single day.  He starts his new school right after Labor Day and I’m applying for that school for the triplets next week.  In my head, they would always have a year in between them in school since they are almost 2 years apart.  Because of their birthdays and the school cutoff date though, they will actually be in back to back grades.  Fun for them but Dad is going to be an absolute wreck when they all leave for college almost at the same time.  Marcus tries to console me saying that at least one or two will decide to go into the arts and live at home while the other two are at college.  LOL.

That’s a wrap for their yearly update. 6841B424-D1F4-4FA2-ADF1-084932FD0BD2.jpeg

Xoxo,

Sanford Squad

Months 2 through 5…

So…our night nurse left shortly after my last post and I haven’t slept since let alone had time to blog.   (Kidding…kind of).  Anyway, we have some catching up to do.

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So we made it to two months.  It was my turn to take over night duty and I was feeding the babies every 2-3 hours.  It would take about 90 minutes to feed each one and then, if I was lucky, I would get about 90 minutes of consecutive sleep.  I moved our sleeping sofa into the nursery and just stayed in there overnight.

IMG_4235.pngWe decided to brave our first family outing for 4th of July.  We took all the kids up to Malibu and let’s just say it was WAY easier to take Kai places when he was that little.  For any of you reading this expecting triplets…just make the decision that you’re going to stay home/local for the first 6 months.  You will all be much happier for that decision.  IMG_4170.jpeg

Month 2 did not pass so quickly since I was not sleeping much but we made it and each day was getting a little easier.

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The question I keep getting asked is, “How do you do it?”  I usually give one of two answers depending on my mood.  “What’s my alternative?”  or the real answer…that it’s just like raising one baby, except you have to do everything 3 times.  To say it’s time consuming is an understatement.  3 bottles, 3 diaper changes, putting 3 down for a nap or bedtime, 3 baths.  I cannot possibly give each one the time and attention that I gave Kai when he was young, but I’m definitely trying my best.  And my solace is that they can entertain each other as well.  And that they have the BEST big brother in the entire world.

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What a lot of people who do not have kids do not realize is that each child is born with a unique personality almost from day one.  As parents, we are lucky enough to have the privilege of instilling values and shaping that personality.  We do not, however, create it. My son Kai was curious from the day he was born.  With the triplets, their personality are even more evidenced because I have something to compare them to…Quinn is kind and gentle.  He smiles all the time and when he cries (which is rare) it is as if you hurt his feelings.  Vivi is just a sweetheart…when she smiles at you, her entire face lights up.  She looks at the world with an intelligence that I have never seen a baby possess.  And then there is Rowan.  She is basically me.  She can be the sweetest baby in the world and then if she is upset or bothered…she lets out this unearthly wail.  None of my other kids even come close to the excruiciating sound that comes out of her mouth.  She does not sound like her feelings are hurt or even that she is in some time of pain.  She sounds (excuse my language) pissed.  LOL.  I have a feeling that she and I are going to have some fights in the years to come 🙂

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That catches us up to month five.  I am sleeping in my room again.  Most nights, I put them down by 7pm, sleep feed at 10pm (which only takes me 45 min to an hour now), and then they sleep until 7am.  It’s heaven.  Every once in awhile Rowan will decide that she wants to wake up at 3am just to be rocked back to sleep 😉  But that’s okay.  This is the last time I’m going to go through the infant stage and I am trying to cherish each and every minute of it.  As much as I look forward to taking them all swimming in the ocean or watching them run around and chase each other or having them all be able to get in the car and buckle themselves in…I do not wish for ANY of that to arrive too quickly.  I never felt this way with Kai because every day was a milestone and and I knew I was going to have more kids to experience it with again.  Now that we are done having children…I secretly mourn the passing of each milestone knowing that it is my last (until I have grandchildren).

To anyone reading this who is deciding if you want children.  You do.  Just trust me on that.  To everyone out there who already has children, let me give you a little advice I am learning daily from having 4 kids within 20 months of each other.  One of the most frustrating things, at least for me, is that I try to enforce my will on my children and control them all the time because I think I know what’s best.  Eat your breakfast, it’s nap time, we are ALL going to play over here.  Well…each one of my kids usually has their own ideas about every single one of my opinions.  My advice is to breathe…remember they are little people.  They have their own ideas, dreams, wants, desires…even as young as 5 months old.   Guide them as best possible, but let them be in charge of their own little worlds.  Let the control go a bit.  And enjoy every moment…even the ones where you are at your wits end because one day they will be adults, living in their own houses, leading their own lives, and all you will want is for them to be little again, screaming, needing nothing more than the comfort of your arms so that their world is right again.

Almost 2 months old!

Wow…sitting here with my oldest (and smallest) daughter in my Baby Bjorn staring up at me with the most beautiful brown eyes I’ve ever seen, I can’t believe it’s almost been 2 months.  And yes, I also can believe it.  I wish I had written more the last two months, but then again, there isn’t much to report just yet.  A friend once told me that for the first 4-6 months, babies are like little blobs that eat, sleep, and poop.  Well…for the most part, that’s true.  It’s been a LOT of eating, much more recently.  A LOT of sleeping, though only for 3 hours at a time so far.  And a LOT of pooping.  Actually, not that much pooping.  The triplets are lucky enough to be on mostly breast milk from our wonderful surrogate and my cousin’s wife was kind enough to send me a cooler full of her breastmilk all the way from Florida.  And little did I know, babies can go up to two weeks without pooping if they are on breastmilk because it’s such an efficient source of nutrition.  Just another reason why I am not a fan of formula and especially USA formula.  For anyone looking for a great formula, I use Holle (they have a new version called PRE which has DHA but I prefer to get the regular and add my own DHA from Nordic Naturals).  HiPP is also a good one, but that one isn’t always manufactured in Germany.  Holle is always produced in Germany.  When the triplets had to be on Enfacare, their poop was a dark green and smelled terrible.  There is just no way for us to replicate breastmilk.  Things like live cells cannot be replicated.  DHA even is not as effective in powder form.  And a lot of the components that can be replicated are actually harmful without their counterparts in breastmilk that cannot be replicated.  So…if you’re contemplating, pick breastmilk if you can.  Holle or HiPP if you cannot.  But I digress.

Two months in…it’s mostly routine.  And I’ve had to get used to letting one baby cry sometimes because I can only feed two at a time.  Luckily, there always seems to be someone here to lend a hand.  And Kai (their big brother) is always happy to run over and stick a pacifier in their mouth.  Sometimes gently, sometimes not as gently.  And his patience to hold it there until they start to suck just does not exist yet.

The thing though that makes everything so worth it is the littlest milestones.  The awareness that enters their eyes a little more each day.  The first smiles, even though it’s probably just gas 😉  Being able to lift their head, even if they look like a bobble-head (that thing that used to be a cool thing for car dashboards in the 90s).  I get excited when they start to eat an ounce more than they used to or when they go up a diaper size.  LOL.  Like I said, it’s the little things.  With four kids now, I won’t be going through this baby stage again so I’m trying to enjoy and memorize each and every minute of it.

The babies are calling, but I will definitely be back soon and as there is more and more to share each day.  I hope your days are wonderful and just a reminder with everything going on in the world today.  Be kind, choose to have a positive attitude, and appreciate your moments…don’t just let life fly by.

~Braden

Week 3 with the triplets

Wow…so I wanted to write more often but I’ve been a little busy lately.  LOL.  We are getting in a groove though so I will have the time to sit down and blog more often moving forward.

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Vivi, Quinn, and Rowan

The triplets are now 3 weeks old.  For everyone wondering what that’s like…honestly, it’s easier than I had expected.  They are pretty good babies.  They need to eat every three hours and each one takes about 30 minutes to feed, change, and burp…then they sleep until the next feeding.  So by the time we finish all three, we have about an hour and a half before we start the process all over again.  Doesn’t sound too bad, right?  Well, we do have a very active toddler in the house that we are trying to potty train.

Thank God my mom is here until after Father’s Day weekend.  She manages Kai most of the day, helping me feed and entertain him.  She is a teacher by trade and currently runs an adult day center called Charlene’s Angels for adults with special needs (yes, she’s basically female Jesus) so she is pretty much putting him through homeschooling as well right now.

Speaking of Kai, he has been fantastic big brother.  We really worked with him ahead of time to prepare him for the babies and man has that paid off.  He absolutely adores the triplets and hugs and kisses them whenever he gets a chance.

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So all in all, we are getting through the first few weeks unscathed.  They eat more and more every day and are becoming more aware and looking us in the eye and even smiling sometimes.

I definitely do not pretend to be an expert on raising kids, but I do have wonderful resources at my disposal so if anyone out there wants advice on baby gadgets, how to make life a little easier with kids or just a kid, please feel free to reach out.  I am signing off for the evening…I wanted to keep this short and keep everyone following already updated.  Look for a stories, advice, laughs, and love in the posts to come.

~Braden