Archive for September, 2009

Truthful Triplet Tuesday

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Do you have help?

This is one of the first questions I receive once people finish goggling over the idea of triplets.  Everyone asks this question, although younger mothers like myself who are first time parents of a singleton always follow it up with “because my (fill in the blank) old child is hard enough, I can’t even imagine how you manage 3.  Sometimes I’m tempted to say “well, unlike you, I literally have no life anymore and my days really are hard.”  But of course I’m not a bitch so I usually explain how lucky I am to have the help I do.

From the day my children were born, my mother, “grammy”, has been a huge part of my children’s lives.  She came over every day for the first 3-4 months to help out.  She would even visit Mia in the NICU for the week Max and I had to bounce between the 2 babies we had at home and the 1 we had in the hospital.  I don’t think I could have managed those first few months without her help.  My sister, a full time mom of 2 demanding boys and a nurse, also was a huge help.  For a few months, my mom and my sister took turns with the 10 PM feeding so Max and I could go to sleep early.  My sister even spent the night and helped out some of those first grueling months.

When my kids were 2-5 months old, I had a mother’s helper who worked about 12 hours/week.  She took care of preparing formula and bottles, folding laundry, restocking supplies and helping with the babies between the time my mom left and the time Max arrived home several days/week.

This past summer, I had another mother’s helper (still miss you Gaylynn) who worked about 10 hours/week.  Her main duty was to help me get out of the house with the kids.  We took many trips to the science museum, parks, pool, playzones, etc.

Through the first year of our children’s lives, we used cleaners and lawn maintenance companies to help us keep up with our house.   This investment was so we could give our children our time and not go completely cookoo trying to take care of everything ourselves.

After I stopped pumping (around 3 months) Both sets of grandparents spent several weekends at our house so that Max and I could decompress with a night/weekend away.  Those weekends were vital and I highly encourage all parents (even you first time moms of singletons) to get away!  It is hard the first time but SO WORTH IT!

From about 8 months on, I would say help was no longer necessary; although, it was always appreciated.  Now, I don’t require any more help than any other mom of 2 – 3+ children of varying ages.  In fact, I often think I have it easier than mom’s of young twins + a sibling or two.  I try to run my house much like a preschool/daycare runs their centers.  We have organized activities, focused playtimes, and lots and lots of supervision.  This makes a 1:3 ration for 1.5 year old’s totally manageable. As a stay-at-home mom I have to squeeze a lot into my day.  Even though staying at home full time was not in my original game plan, keeping everything going is sort-a my job now, and I’ve always liked to stay busy at work.   Taking the kids out on my own is one of my tougher job duties but even that is manageable and I love tackling challenges.

So yes, I have had help over the past 15 months.   Even though help is no longer needed, grammy is still around a few times a week to give me a break and give the children more undivided attention.

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And just to be clear, day-to-day help may no longer be needed but Max and I still need time away ;)

Little People

Monday, September 28th, 2009

As a first time parents, you learn a lot.  Like although  you put rocks in the planter to spruce up the backyard, your children think they were put there for them to scatter all over the yard:

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No problem, you make some minor adjustments and move on:

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You also learn that your children copy everything you do.  After watching Max work in the yard all weekend, this is how Marcus spent his afternoon:

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You also learn how suddenly you can wake up and your babies are gone.  All of a sudden they are little people.  Little toddlers “working”, learning and understanding.

Suddenly when I say “Go bring mommy a book to read”, my little people will march their little bottoms into the other room, pull a book off the shelf, examine it, pull another one down, examine it, decide it is lap worthy and bring it back to the other room, hand me the book and sit down in my lap.   When I say “let’s go outside and play, find your shoes and line up at the door”  suddenly my little people find their shoes, bring them over to me, sit down on their bottoms so I can put their shoes on and and line up at the door.  Almost overnight, they understand.

So I shouldn’t have been surprised this morning after telling my little people to go get in their seats for breakfast, I walked into the kitchen and found Marcus sitting in his booster seat, swinging his legs waiting for his food.

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I didn’t think our home playground would be used for several more months but all of my little people can suddenly climb the 7 ft. ladder  and enjoy the slide down without any help.

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No worries, they still use their little climber that says for children 18+ months:

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My babies are gone.  They are 15 months old.  They spend their days running, climbing,  sorting objects, gathering tomatoes, speaking….UNDERSTANDING.

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As a first time parent, I’ve learned that suddenly your babies become little people, just like that.

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Little Pieces of Me

Friday, September 25th, 2009

Last year at this time, my life was very different. My life was my babies. Feedings every 3 hours, pumping around the clock…I loathed the pumping, fragmented sleep, laundry and dishes, and soothing..lots of holding and soothing. I felt I had given my whole self to my 3 helpless infants, and then some.

But you know what, they were just borrowing it.

At this time last year, there seemed to be no end to the newborn stage. In the fog that I lived in, it was hard to imagine a different life. I remember Max and I taking turns eating dinner while we used our feet to bop babies in their bouncers. I remember walking laps around the house with 2 crying infants counting the minutes till Max walked through the door. I loved my babies to death but I would be lying if I didn’t admit what a struggle those first few months were. Every bit of energy I had went into keeping up with the triplets and keeping my cool. I thought they sucked me dry.

But you know what, they hadn’t.

Around 4-6 months, I started to find little chunks of time for me and around 7 months, I began sleeping for at least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep. A huge shift happened around 8 months, I felt like life slowed down and I really had time to think, read and write. Around 12 months I began to remember the things I loved to do in my spare time and do them. Now, at 15 months, another shift has happened. My kids have grown less dependent on me. I can attend social outings because not only do I have the energy, stamina and a halfway functioning brain but my kids can be left alone with a sitter. The three of them are manageable to not only the brave and loving grandparents but also my patient husband and certainly a capable babysitter (although I admit we have not had to use a sitter yet since grammy is so generous with her time).

And not only can I enjoy coffee w/ friends or mom’s night outs, but I can also accomplish a few things when my children are awake. Like getting dishes done (which for me means unloading the dishwasher), laundry, and drinking caffeine. This means during naps I can do a few things I ENJOY. Like decorating my empty house, organizing, blogging, and keeping up with the latest research/trends in the health and fitness field (and fine, I admit…finally finishing the Harry Potter books and watching the previous season of Greys Anatomy).

Like all things that are borrowed, they should eventually be returned. Thank you Amelia, Marcus and Jocelyn for starting to return little bits of me. I know you needed them at the time but I sure am happy to get them back.

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Truthful Triplet Tuesday

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

This week’s question:

Are they all on the same schedule?  (aka: What has been your biggest sanity saver?)

YES, YES, YES!  My kids have all been on the same schedule since their first day in the NICU when they were fed every three hours.  And yes, our schedule has saved my sanity more than anything else (including a stiff drink from time to time).

Although our schedule has changed considerably over the past 15 months and each child’s individual adherence has strayed from time to time, I do keep a pretty rigid routine.  This schedule productivity carries over to other areas of my life as well, I even clean certain areas of my house on certain days of the week.  I like schedules, and I think my kids respond well to a routine.

When the children were newborns, they ate every 3 hours and my day was broken down into 15 min. chunks.   Now that I don’t have to squeeze in pumping, working out, washing 20 bottles, doing laundry and showering in 2 hours (I kid you not, check it out here), our “schedule” has become more of a “relaxed routine”.  Every few months we change it up when needed, like when the kids drop a nap or bottle (WE HAVE OFFICIALLY KICKED ALL BOTTLES), the seasons change, or we sign up for a special class.

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I honestly don’t think I would have survived the first several months without my kids all napping at the same time.  Not b/c I wouldn’t have had time to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee but b/c I wouldn’t have had time to breathe.  Plus, they probably would not have survived since it took 1.5 hours to feed them and that was only if they all ate at the same time (I still could not tell you how we made it through the first several months…I cannot remember a thing).

After the first 3-4 months, keeping my kids on the same schedule meant I was guaranteed 2-3x/day to “catch up” on chores and maybe even enjoy a cup of coffee while my kids napped.  If that isn’t saving your sanity, I don’t know what is.

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Now, our routine is more about keeping my kids content and productive  and less about survival (b/c as tough as some days still are, it is not nearly as difficult as those first several months).  Here is what our “routine” looks like today:

6:30-7:00 – kids wake up

7:00 – breakfast

7:30-9:00 – play and sesame street, mom drinks lots of coffee to gear up for the day.

9:00-12:00 – morning run, outside play or structured activity.  We either go to Gymboree class, a playground, science museum, mall playzone, etc.

12:00 – lunch

1:00-3:30 – nap

4:00-6:00 – outdoor play or  indoor play if weather is bad

6:00 – dinner, tv show (the Wiggles are a HUGE hit right now), wrestle w/ daddy

7:30 – bedtime

It hasn’t been difficult keeping the kids on the same schedule.  The NICU gave us a kick start by sending the kids home eating at specific times.  Plus, I think children quickly learn patterns.  As long as there was a pattern that didn’t differ for each child, they basically did everything at about the same time.  From time to time a child established their own pattern, like waking up at 5 AM or refusing to take a morning nap but as long as I continued to reinforce the schedule, the “rebel” soon fell back in step with their siblings.  If the rebel’s upheaval lasted for several weeks and at a respectable age (dropping to one nap at 13 months was a little early for me but I don’t always run the show), the dropped bottle or nap became permanent and everyone shifted to a new schedule together.

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We definitely have our days where the kids miss a nap or go to bed late, but sometimes the consequences are worth the spontaneous fun that ensues.  I might not get the dishes done or clothes washed and the kids may be grumpy the next day but breaking the rules helps keep life exciting.

Before and After:A Raid

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

While cleaning up the pasta sauce off the windows in my kitchen, I heard the kids goofing off in the office.  This is normal.  They typically run around like they have a case of the puppy “fraps” after dinner and one of their favorite toddler activities is playing peek-a-boo with our expensive office curtains.  This particular evening, the girls squeals were slightly higher pitched and Marcus was a little more quiet than usual.  No worries, I was finally getting up the dried up macaroni from inside the cracks of the table.  When Josie came running up and handed me a torn bank statement, I knew something was a little fishy.  Upon further investigation, this is what I find my angels working on so contently:

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Yes, Marcus was attempting to swim in the paper pile.  After a few days, we sorted through the mess and found a place for almost everything.  Yet another lesson learned:

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It’s not my Fault: Another Triplet Perk

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

Since the children were in the NICU, they had their individual quirks.  Marcus seemed pretty laid back, Josie seemed to take life pretty seriously, and Mia was darling and independent.  These small quirks have become pieces of their personalities and at almost 15 months, my kid’s couldn’t be any different.  Not only do they have 3 different eye colors (Mia – hazel, Marcus-brown, Josie-blue) but they also have VERY different personalities.  And you know what, IT’S NOT MY FAULT!  They were born this way.

As parents, I think we beet ourselves up wondering if we chose the right baby manual, the right sleep training method, the right time to start solids, the right discipline method, or the right parenting style.  We may wonder if we had stuck to a stricter schedule with our newborn or forced our toddler to try new things more often, they may have ended up more secure and independent in life.   I’m beginning to think this is a load of crap.

I recently met a family members 4-month old daughter.  She is a beautiful, serene, pro-claimed easy child that slept through the night at about 2 months old (BIG SUPRISE…you know my peeve).   Well, rather than the mom talking about her “attachment” parenting style or the sleep method she used, or how she responded to her baby’s cries, she simply said “we are very lucky, she is just an easy baby, she was born this way”.   Thank you, I thought.  I couldn’t agree more.

I have raised my children according to the same “manual”.  They have no older or younger siblings influencing their behavior or how I treat them.  Every stage we go through, we go through together.  Every time we fall victim to a parenting snafu (high fructose corn syrup,  eating dirt, not breastfeeding for a year) each of my children bare the consequences.  You get my drift?  (Although Max and I joked about breastfeeding two babies but giving one exclusively formula to see what would happen…I know, that is a sick joke, we didn’t do it).

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And you know what, despite their similar upbringing they are still three very different children.  Mia is extremely independent and friendly, Josie is extremely dependent and shy and Marcus is either totally laid back or a handful (lately mostly a handful).  I can drop Mia and Marcus off at the church nursery and they’ll barely realize I’m gone.  If a stranger as much as looks at Josie, she runs into my arms…she cried for an hour in the church nursery.  Marcus knows just as many signs as Mia and Josie but he refuses to use them when he wants something, he prefers to whine.  Marcus can pick up a toy and toss it aside within seconds, Mia can play with the same toy for 20 minutes.  Mia and Marcus are extremely attached to their lovies at night, they cannot sleep without them.  Josie prefers stuffed animals and doesn’t even have a lovie anymore.  Josie sometimes cries herself to sleep, Marcus sometimes cries himself awake.  Mia was my easy baby and guess what…I didn’t make her that way!

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If Mia was my first born child,  I might think I did everything right in raising an independent, strong-willed, friendly child.  But, I might be worried that maybe I didn’t force her to eat enough since she is so tiny.  Perhaps I wasn’t concerned enough about proper nutrition.

If Marcus was my first born, I might think I did everything right in raising a sensitive, loving, affectionate boy.  But, I might wonder why he ended up so whiny and attention seeking.  Perhaps I gave in too easily.  Perhaps I didn’t give my children enough attention and affection.

If Josie was my first born, I might think I did everything right in raising a sweet natured, diligent, reliable, good girl.  But I might wonder why she is so dependent on me.  Perhaps I should have forced her into new situations and made her stay with people she didn’t know.  Maybe I was too attached as a parent?

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The fact is, I’m doing the best job I can as a mom and despite how similar my children’s fabulous upbringing is, they are all totally different.  Did the fact that Mia took a pacifier but Marcus and Josie refused make Mia better able to sooth herself?  No, I think Mia easily took a pacifier b/c she easily did everything, including soothing herself.  Did Marcus take so long to sleep through the night because I wasn’t tough enough to let him cry it out (CIO) at an earlier age?  No, the boy just doesn’t prefer sleep…he prefers food (FYI, Josie never really had to CIO…she preferred sleep, and CIO worked like a charm for Mia).  Is Josie scared to be away from me because I held her too much as an infant?  No, Josie has always been very sensitive and therefore I held her more as an infant.

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So another huge perk to having triplets is knowing that nothing I did changed my children’s inherent personalities.  Rather I find my behavior adapting to their independent needs.  They are who they are irregardless of what I fed them, how I dealt with their crying, and how much attention I gave them.  As parent’s we need to step back and realize all the small parenting details did not cause our unique children to turn out a certain way.

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Next time Marcus pushes his sister down the steps, or Mia refuses to let me comfort her when she falls down, or Josie grabs on to me for dear life when a stranger approaches, I will remind myself it is not my fault.  I suggest as parents you all give yourselves a pat on the back for doing the best job you know how and do the same.

Truthful Triplet Tuesday

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

For the next several Tuesdays I’m going to be answering some of the more popular questions people ask about raising triplets.   I’m going to start with some of my favorites (Do you have help?, Do you need three of everything?) but I promise I will get to some of my least favorite (are they natural?).

Question of the Week

What is the group dynamic like?

All of my children play together nicely, I wouldn’t say one is a “loner” but I have noticed a few trends.  Mia and Marcus’s personalities are slightly similar and more “loud”.  They tend to pick on each other and egg each other on.  Marcus will go right up to Mia and grab a handful of her hair.  Don’t feel sorry for my little peanut though, Mia doesn’t hesitate to push Marcus out of the way or reprimand him when she is mad.  Meanwhile, Josie is a little more discrete.  She comes across as extremely sweet but then out of the corner of your eye you will see her push her sister down when she thinks no one is watching.  Mia nor Marcus pick on Josie nearly as much as they pick on each other.  I have noticed when they all fight over the same toy, Josie usually ends up with it in the end.  I would say she appears to be more of the “alpha” of the three.

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The kids have definitely started playing games with each other like peak-a-boo or copy me.  Recently on our morning runs, Mia and Marcus will hold hands and goof off together.  However, I wouldn’t say they are more “silly” than Josie, they just seem to have a similar sense of humor (they are more Adam Sandler funny while Josie and I are more Jim Cary fans).  Meanwhile, the girls love to hug and kiss on each other.  I think Marcus enjoys giving hugs just as much but the girls avoid his affection simply because his hugs usually land them on the ground.

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When we are out, all 3 seem to do their fair share of roaming from the group but checking back in.  Marcus appears to be a little more weary of being away from his sisters.  Meanwhile, Mia seems like she could care less whether her siblings are around.  She is just out to have fun and if anyone wants to join her, that is fine by her.  Josie is much more cautious so will often be the last to explore on her own.

We have the same issues as anyone with several kids close in age.  They all want to play with the same toy, they are starting to hit, pull and push, and they have no concept of taking turns.  So far, distraction has worked best to avoid a toy going to time out but usually the toy you are using to distract one child becomes the toy all three children NEED TO HAVE THIS SECOND.

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As the kids grow older, it will be fun to watch how their dynamic changes.  Will Josie be the one to tell when Mia gives Marcus a haircut?  Will Mia be the one to convince Marcus and Josie to explore the attic?  Will Marcus be the peacemaker between his sisters as they become tweens?  I have my predictions on how their relationships will play out but I have a feeling kids may surprise you.

Speaking of boys versus girls..again

Monday, September 14th, 2009

Just wanted to share a few moments I captured in the backyard yesturday.

The girls:

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Meanwhile, the boy:

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Notice any trends?  It’s not my doing, I promise.  Anyway, we are loving the backyard now that the temps have cooled slightly.  We inherited a playhouse from a family friend to add to the “daycare” I appear to run (DO NOT drop your kids off here).  The kids love it; especially Mia.  Our backyard is fenced in so the kids roam from the deck to the yard, to the play set.  It is wonderful!

Happy Grandparent’s Day

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

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We love you grammy, grandpa, gramma and pop-pop!  We know if it weren’t for you, we may have driven mom and dad to the insane assylum.
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Love:

Amelia, Marcus, and Jocelyn

Boys versus Girls Revisited

Friday, September 11th, 2009

It became evident to me while the kids were still in the NICU and I caught Marcus with his hand down his pants that Marcus was “all boy”.

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As time passes, this “all boy” reference is becoming clearer.  I know there are more “even keeled” and placid” boys just as there are more “feisty” girls.  However, at least in my household, there is a clear difference between my boy and my girls.  Here are a few ways they differ:

1. Poop – Marcus poops about 3x every morning.  My girls just don’t produce the amount of poop Marcus does.  Also, Marcus has pooped in the bathtub a handful of times.  The girls, NEVER.

2. Food – This probably explains number 1.  Marcus has always been able to out eat the girls!  It started while the kids resided in my womb.  Marcus weighed 1 lb. more than Josie and 2 lbs. more than Mia at birth.  At 14 months, he still weighs proportionally more.  We love to take Marcus out to eat because as long as there is food in front of him, he will quietly sit and eat and eat and eat.  Also, if he is hungry he turns “bad”.  It makes life easier to keep his belly full at all times.

3. Exploring thyself –From a young age Marcus found his “manhood” fascinating.  As soon as his diaper is off, his hands are “down there”.  If we let him go naked for any period of time, he walks around with both hands on his little friend.  He sits in the bathtub and plays with his little friend most of the time.  The girls, not so interested in that region.

4. Whining – Wow, Marcus out-whines the girls by a landslide.  Hungry he whines, thirsty he whines, tired he whines, bored he whines, takes a misstep he whines, wants attention, he wines, feeling a tad out of sorts, he wines.

5. Speaking of boredom, hello…Marcus gets bored within minutes of waking up.  The only thing that keeps his interest…a handful of specific TV shows.

6. Toys – Marcus likes anything that he has to figure out.  He figured out the child cabinet locks months ago.  He is constantly turning on and off the tv and changing channels with the remote.  He can close and lock the baby-gates (thank goodness he can’t unlock them…yet), and he loves wires, especially if he can unplug them.  Notice I didn’t mention any real toys…that is because he has no interest in them whatsoever.  While playing in the culd-a-sac, the girls are pushing around their cars while Marcus is examining the drains and sewer covers.

7. Clothes and shoes – Marcus could care less about shoes or clothes.  Meanwhile, as soon as Josie has her outfit on for the day she stands up proud, smiles and examines what she is wearing.  She then proceeds to show off her clothes to everyone in the room.  Her and Mia immediately go into the laundry room and pull out all the dirty clothes to carry around in the morning.  Meanwhile, Marcus has turned the laundry basket upside down and is attempting to climb into the washing machine.  Don’t even get me started on the girl’s fascination with shoes.  Let’s just say “shoes” was one of Josie’s first words.

8. Outside  - All of my children love to be outdoors.  But Marcus and outside just seem to go hand in hand.  He often wakes up from nap before the girls and we spend the alone time walking outside around the house.  Bring him inside and he is BORED BORED BORED!

9. Screaming – When Marcus gets riled up, he can wail like nobody’s business.  Unfortunately he gets riled up every single morning upon waking.  If we don’t go get him immediately, he screams at the top of his lungs.  Meanwhile, Josie and Mia giggle in their cribs and play with their stuffed animals.  They would probably be content to entertain themselves for an hour before breakfast if Marcus didn’t demand food immediately upon waking.

10. Cuddles and Flirts – There is no question Marcus gives the BEST cuddles.  The girls just do not hug their mom quiet like Marcus.  Flirting is hands down Marcus’s trademark.  Whenever we pass another mom in our stroller, Marcus immediately flashes his killer coy smile while tilting his head to the side and practically winking at the strange women.  The other day at our Labor Day party a teenage girl was over.  Marcus climbed right over to her, gave her his signature smile and began rolling around in her lap.  Any female calls him a flirt within minutes of meeting him.  My girls just don’t try to win people over like Marcus.

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Do I still think boys are harder than girls.  YES, by a landslide. In fact, many of my close friends have recently had baby girls and they all were sleeping through the night by 3 months and proclaimed “easy babies” (I hate you all…have a boy please!  Kidding, of course I’m kidding).  I’m certain in another 12 years; my girls will give me a run for my money while I desperately wish for 2 more Marcus’s.  Until then, I will enjoy the cuddles and relish in the fact I’m raising a strong willed, ambitious, smart, and alluringly handsome man, Marcus is his father’s son after all.

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