a day in the life

May 25, 2009 at 1:05 pm 4 comments

surfing safari

surfing safari

It’s at about this instant each year when I thank the heavens for my chosen profession. Spring grades are in at last, and the summer looms before me like a blank canvas, stretched and primed for me to convert all that potential into honest work. I am also so grateful to be able to pick up some more of the slack avec les trois. Those wintry 12-hour days certainly took their toll on Big mama, and lord knows she’s worked hard enough this past year. We have set up a daily schedule that allows each of us several hours to attend to our art, or other pressing civil matters (dry cleaner, Apple store, etc.) The rule is that weekdays are working days, and those precious hours off (not quite as precious as those other hours ON) must be spent wisely. Al and I are now sharing what was once the guest room and subsequently became my studio. We get along famously. Two nights ago we were in there together, she preparing paper jaguars for a trip to the bronze foundry, me working on a bleep blop piece for wind quintet to be performed later this summer. If our boys can function with studied and benevolent obliviousness to one another, then so can we.

I am currently ON, though you’d probably never guess it. I’m sitting here with a nice Caesar’s salad (homemade dressing) enjoying the last hour of my shift while the boys enjoy their second nap of the day. The daily routine – when neither of us have specific work obligations or other nuissances – looks something like this:

6am – The boys wake up. Almost like clockwork, though today they didn’t really fully activate until 6:15. In theory, we are up 15 minutes before them getting ready. But this generally doesn’t happen.

6:15-6:30 Teamwork. Change diapers, heat bottle water, add bottles to the warm water, stir in multi-vitamins (once a day), carry boys (still in their PJs) into the bedroom for the morning bottle. They always wake up with smiles, and if we move the process effectively the bottles are in their mouths before any complete meltdown begins. (I would say that happens, the no meltdown thing, one out of every four mornings). 

6:30 – 7  We lounge in bed, bottle feeding the little men. One of us takes one, the other two, and we sometimes trade off. This is a happy, groggy time for all of us, punctuated by burping, farting and singing. 

7-7:25  We make our way into the kitchen and plunk the musketeers into their new table (scroll down for a pic). One or the other of us makes up some infant oatmeal and stirs in some fruit. Today, for the first time, it was fresh, fork-mashed banana – and the boys got to have some of that blissful sweetness by itself too (unblanded by the soupy gruel). This is sometimes happy, sometimes noisy, always messy. Bananas, as you might have guessed, were a big hit. 

7:30ish Bedtime. Our routine is as follows. We put on a playlist on the boys’ bedroom ipod that consists of the first two tracks of On a Starry Night – a great dreamy CD that a friend gifted us – and then, and you’ll think this is narcissistic of me but oh well, our lullaby “everybody’s going to sleep” four times (count em). While this music is playing, we’re softly putting the boys in their sleeveless cotton sleep sacks, and swaying gently with each of them for the duration of almost one lullaby. We put them down in the cribs, ninety percent of the time awake, but they are usually asleep within minutes. 

7:45-8  Cleanup time. Teamwork. 

8-9  A nice open window for breakfast, a run, emailing (limited!) etc. 

9-1  On weekdays either Al or I takes this time “off.” Which is to say we go to work. Alex is working on pieces for a fall show in Portland, among other projects, and I’m working on a book review, a book, an opera and a wind quintet. 

9:30ish – 11:30ish – Whoever’s on gets the boys up if they don’t do it of their own accord. Then it’s: warm bottle water and bottles, check diapers, get the boys dressed, get them out to the bright and sunny living room and in their bouncy seats. Throw on some bibs and feed them. Our newest helper in this endeavor is the much heralded Podee bottle, which essentially is a bottle with an extension cord so that a bouncing baby can more or less feed himself. It just seems a lot safer and nicer than a bottle propper, but the boys’ did quite have the sucking horsepower to use them until just now. It IS possible to hand feed three boys at a time, but it is taxing and over the long haul not so much fun. 

When the boys finish their bottles they are burped, they sit upright for a while, sometimes they poop triumphantly, and when a fair amount of time has passed, we roll them on the floor and do all sorts of wonderful and horrible things with them. This includes tummy time (sometimes horrible), sitting up (fun), rolling over (horrible mostly), reading books (fun), playing with toys (still relatively neutral, which is to say these boys are as yet still only minimally able to distinguish a toy from any other of life’s myriad objects). The one or more of the brethren can get pretty fussy during this period, which makes it a wholesome challenge for one industrious parent to keep all the wheels in motion (all the faces smiling and heinies clean is the ideal – though perhaps more platonic ideal than realistic goal at any one moment). The trick here is to correctly identify the onset of drowsiness before it metastasizes into its evil cousin fatigue. At that moment, the bedtime routine begins again, with the added complication that one parent is responsible for shuttling the boys across the apartment to their room, one (or two) at a time. Ideally, they conk out at around 11:30. 

11:45 – 12  Clean up time. Reset the living room, bring in bottles, bips, burp cloths, put toys away. 

12-1 Lunch/work/etc. The boys are pretty reliably sleeping during this period, and it goes pretty quickly. At 1, the changing of the guard occurs. 

1-5pm Parent tag team tradeoff. Parent A reemerges from the studio or the library or coffee shop (for days when the library’s closed), and assumes the position while parent B attends to his or her worldly ambitions. Four afternoons a week Jen is here with us, sent Mary Poppins-like from the heavens to maintain sanity amongst the savages. 

1:30pm Around this time the boys stir from what will be their last significant-length nap of the day. It’s 1:23 as I type this and I hear them in bed talking. Actually Jen has scooped away Satchel, so it’s only Levi and Pablo quietly conversing, as if disagreeing over some obscure passage of the Talmud. Anyway, they’ll get scooped up, and then it’s bottles and more of the good stuff that went on in the morning. We’ll put the boys in Exer Saucers for a short while once each day (longer, apparently, isn’t so good for their sense of equilibrium), and it’s usually during this period. 

3:30 Around this time comes the third nap of the day, which in the inimitable words of Dr. Weissbluth is “either short, long, or absent.” 
We can usually squeeze 45 minutes to an hour out of them here, but we will sometimes opt instead to put them in the stroller and parade them around town, ensuring, of course, our own celebrity, but also achieving a nap on the go. The boys sleep instantly when connected to any sort of consistent motion.

4:15-4:30  Back up again. This time we strip them down to onesies and plunk them back into the feeding table, where the dinner festivities begin. They get peas or carrots or string beans, sometimes squash, mixed in with whole grain rice cereal. Unlike the morning, this time we give them the solid food before their bottle, so it is generally consumed with great interest. There are times, however, when that insidious fiend, bottle hunger, creeps in and throws our gentle feeding ritual off the rails. This typically happens if we’re running a little late, say if the boys eat closer to 5. I don’t know how, but always around 5:10 or 5:15 this alarm goes off in their little brains – I can see the flashing red BOTTLE in my mind’s eye as I write this. From that point on we make some haste, get them into their pajamas, nestle them softly in boppy seats in their bedroom, and feed them their final liquids of the day. Oh somewhere in here…

5pm Parent B emerges from solitude or the world and pitches in. So on four out of five week days we have three (or should I say six) hands on board for this exciting final hour.

The boys drink their bottles greedily and studiously, losing the world around them for those ten or fifteen sanctified minutes. The noises gradually diminuendo from desperate grunts to contented sighs and sonorous belches, and usually sometime before completely kicking the kegs the boys look up dreamily.

Either during or just after the bottle we read to them. Lately it’s been Grimm’s Fairy Tales, which are so thoroughly weird and disturbing we’re going to have to discontinue them  before too long for about ten years. We also have some nice picture books, and my all time favorite Hop on Pop, which even has a panel about a father of triplets (go look!). 

We play the music, do the holding and swaying, and put the boys down – again, ninety percent of the time awake but drowsy. They will whimper and sometimes even holler for about three minutes, and that’s essentially the last we’ll hear of them for twelve hours. They will occasionally speak up during the night (usually during the first few hours of the snooze), but almost always to no consequence. If one of them gets really worked up – at this point a very infrequent occurrence – we’ll put the timer on, and if he’s still having his say five minutes in, we’ll pay a visit. But that visit almost never happens. We do, however, sneak in once or twice a night just to peak at the little guys sleeping – they do it awfully cutely. 

And there you have it. I’ll spare you the details of our OTHER 12 hours, suffice to say that somewhere in there we DO actually get some sleep, eat, and every now and then turn on the boob tube.


Entry filed under: update.

Six months later… Guacamole!

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. JSR  |  May 25, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    Love your blog – your boys are exquisite! Your writing is perfectly descriptive. I’m a mother of 2-month old frat boy triplets. We have no schedule to speak of and look forward to a day like you’ve just described!

    Thanks for the chink of light at the end of this tunnel…


  • 2. Antonia  |  May 26, 2009 at 9:52 am

    I loved this, Dan. You are such a good writer, and I very much hope the mysterious book you mention is this blog as a book, because it would be stellar.

    Lots of love,


  • 3. Cat Anderson  |  May 27, 2009 at 5:52 am

    Splahing good read Dan! Loved being back in your world for the day! Mahvelous read as always. Look forward to a park date soon. Sammy hit from a pitching machine this weekend–and now Marcel can hit a slow pitch too. We had playroom batting practice for 30 minutes last night–taking turns. I only got hit 8 times! You may need to invest in the umpire mask sooner rather than later..

  • 4. shnootre  |  May 27, 2009 at 10:33 am

    JSR – thanks! Great to see you here and congrats. 6 months is MUCH easier than 2 months, I promise!

    Antonia – that is kind of you, and coming from YOU it means so much. The book is actually my age old Joni Mitchell book, but I do sometimes fancy whipping this little record into some sort of book, either for publication or our own jollies. I should talk w/ you about that “off line” for advice.

    Cat-O – That’s awesome. I’m gonna have to start polishing up the old heater! (i.e. my fastball. I once cracked 60 on a radar gun, so LOOK OUT).


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