Monday, January 9, 2017

Snow-time like the present...

As I sit here, housebound due to snow and icy conditions while the boys play (and aggravate each other after 3 weeks out of school for track out), I realize that I have been only delaying the inevitable. I needed to sit down and try to recap the last 6 months as best I can. I think part of the issue was the fact that I always feel like I will have all the time during the day now that the boys are in school full-time, together, at the same place, with the same drop-off and pick-up times - for the rest of this year at least - but somehow, I drop them off, and the next thing I know it is time to get back in carpool. After school, it is the flurry or homework, packing lunches, playing, dinner, bath and bed before I wake up and do it all over again. Last time I blogged, Chase had turned 8 and everyone, Jack, Graham and Anthony included, had started school. So, here is the last half of 2016 in the Liner family, as best as I can remember....

August 2016 found us starting soccer at the YMCA with Jason coaching Chase's team and me coaching Jack, Graham and Anthony's team. Tennis season also started for both Jason and I. We took the boys to watch UNC Men's soccer play at Fetzer Field.
Rooting for the Heels Men's soccer team at Fetzer Field

Chase participated in his first kids' Tri-athalon at the YMCA and we were there to cheer him on.

The final leg of the Tri-athalon for Chase

September 2016
College football started (and that is all I am going to mention about this sport this year) and the boys finished their first quarter of school which meant a 3-week break (track out). We had visits from Meme and Popi while Jason and I took a trip to South Bend.
South Bend

Of course, soccer was still in season for everyone.
Chase

Anthony

Jack

Graham


I took the boys to Great Wolf Lodge water park in Concord for a little Mom/boy trip.
Great Wolf Lodge
October 2016

We took a quick trip to the beach before the end of track out.
Oak Island - October 2016

 We looked forward to the start of basketball season with Late Night with Roy in Chapel Hill.
Late Night with Roy - 2016

 We ended yet another great soccer season.
Anthony, Jack, Graham


Chase

The highlight of the month was Halloween.
Anthony - the Carolina Hurricane hockey player

Spider-Jack

Quarterback Graham 

Baseball player Chase

November 2016
You would think that with the end of soccer and tennis seasons, that things would lighten up for us on the weekends - but nope, we rolled right into basketball season and got ready for Thanksgiving break but before that, we rooted for UNC football at Kenan Stadium.

Pulling for the Tarheels in Keenan Stadium

 We celebrated the 89th birthday of my Grandma with everyone there together.
Celebrating Grandma's 89th birthday

And we got a dog! Yep, after a 2 year break with no dogs in the house, the time came for one more addition. Chase had been asking for a while but I wasn't quite ready until now. We adopted a little over 1 year old Lab mix who came to us with the name Alfie. He is the perfect addition to our family. He came to us housebroken, crate trained and with basic manners. Chase and Graham were over the moon about him, while Jack was excited. Anthony wasn't too sure when he first came to see us for our home trial but has now decided he is pretty cool. He and I are enrolled in a Canine Good Citizen Behavior class through the AKC to reinforce his good behavior. He loves being around people and is great on a leash and around other dogs which means we can take him places when we go for walks or to outdoor arenas which is nice. As the boys are fond of saying, he found his "Forever Home" with us. 

Alfie


and that brings me to December 2016

The end of the boys 2nd Quarter of school (hard to believe we are halfway through the year already!) and lots of Christmas activities and visits with family and friends.
YMCA Reindeer Run 2016

Huskies Basketball YMCA 2016 - Kindergarten

Wizards Basketball at YMCA 2nd/3rd grade boys
 We started visits with family on December 21st with the arrival of my brother, wife and nephew and niece. They stayed through the 26th with my Mom but in between we added visits from Nana (who stayed through the 26th)....
Nana with Chase, Anthony, Graham, Jack before Christmas Eve Mass

before Christmas Eve Mass

Christmas Eve 2016 (Anthony, Jack, Graham, Chase and Alfie)
Christmas Eve with the Austins's making Reindeer food (Anthony, Graham, Jack, Reese, Chase and Jack)

Christmas with cousins (Anthony, Meredith, Chase, Graham Bise and Jack)
 Then we added Jason's brother, wife and their 2 boys on the 25th (they stayed through the 27th).
Christmas with cousins (Chase, Anthony, Milo, Graham, Seve and Jack)
 Nana left early afternoon on the 26th and Meme Popi arrived shortly after that to celebrate Christmas with everyone. Marc and crew left on the 27th  while Meme and Popi stayed through the 28th. My Aunt and Uncle, cousin and her husband and their teenage daughter from California came for a day visit while they were in Charlotte visiting my cousin (their daughter/sister) and her family. It was great to see everyone and we were lucky to have the time, space and ability to have everyone come to us this year. Last year we did all the trips and traveling so it was nice to be stationed here at home and let others come to us. The weather cooperated and we had a great holiday season with everyone.

We are now into the early part of January, the 9th to be exact, and the boys were supposed to return to school today. Instead, the area got hit over the weekend with a snow/ice storm and school was cancelled due to icy road conditions. We are not sure what tomorrow holds because our temperatures have not been above freezing since Friday night. We have been able to sled down the driveway, through the cul-de-sac and down the neighbor's driveway because of the conditions as well as backyard football and soccer. The irony of course is that the weather is predicted to be above 70 degrees 3 days from now - North Carolina weather at it's finest.....but we love it.

Hopefully, this will get everyone caught up on our lives the last 6 months and force me to document it for the future. I know that one day, I will look back at each of these entries and create my own version of what really happened but for now I have the bare bones and can work from there. Who knows, maybe the boys will fill in with their version of events and they will be better than I can remember myself!

Here's to 2017 being amazing for everyone......


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Time Marches On.......Chase turns 8!

Many weeks ago, the first light in my life decided it was time to turn 8. I was in denial and think I still am! It was the week before school started and I mentally decided that I was going to block it from my heart and mind. How and when did my little boy turn 8? For his birthday, Jason and I decided that we would update his room to reflect this change. We got him a new comforter that is just stripes, no animals or cute creatures. We then took down the wall decals that matched - the grasshoppers, fireflies, frogs and lilypad are all gone! Replacing them are the Notre Dame and UNC decals given to him by Nana. And just like that, in the course of one afternoon - my little boy was gone and even his room made that point.

I feel like I have spent so much time working on making sure that everything gets done and everyone was ready for all the changes with the end of summer and the start of school that I ignored the biggest one. Somehow, right before my eyes, Chase is all grown up. I loved my little boy but I have to admit that even now I see that time has passed. From the way he starts his homework before I even get a chance to ask what needs to be done to the way that he makes sure the his brothers make it to the school building every morning. He is grown up and already showing me the kind of man he will become. One who thinks about others and what they need. One who worries when someone isn't happy and tries to figure out how he can do something to change that. One who still loves his Mom and wants to have some time with just the two of us but won't always admit or show it in public. We are still working through some of the 'growing pains' that accompany being 8 and trying to find your own way and your new place. But with each of the these phases, a better Chase seems to emerge. I find myself just watching him in the rear view mirror as we drive to school. I see that his cheeks aren't as round and his eyes don't seem so guarded. Gone is the face of a toddler or little boy and emerging is the face of a young man. Yet, mixed in with this new look is a gap toothed smile given with pride and excitement over the loss of his first two teeth (finally). A gentle reminder that he is still changing and growing. He is full of purpose and intent. While he is still silly and goofy, he finds a way to focus when he needs to. He hates to disappoint and strives for perfection - not because I ask him to, but because he seeks it personally. If anything, I am working to remind him that mistakes are okay. They are a way to remind us that we still have room to grow - even as adults - and learning from those mistakes makes us better. Finding that balance to strive for more without forgetting that he is a still a boy who needs to run and laugh and play is a work in progress but I think he is doing it with style.


Swim team 2016 Banquet


To My Dearest Chase,

As my firstborn, I tend to ask you to do more than you should. To lead at times when you need to just play and you do so with grace and honor. You are an amazing role model for your brothers and those around you. When you laugh, I mean really laugh, your eyes light up and twinkle with a joy and a color that can't be described. You remind me daily that I am here for a reason - to teach you, but more importantly, to learn from you. As we move through each day together, you constantly remind me  what you are capable of. From the way you focus and strive to do your best at school, on the sporting field, court, course or at home, you delight me in a way I didn't think was possible. We will always have our differences and conflicts but just remember at the end of the day, I will always be your Mom and will love you. You are the light in my life and I could spend hours just thinking about the ways you shine. Your list of accomplishments this past year are many - still the soccer star and quick on the basketball court. All-star team in spring baseball and multiple heat winner in several strokes during your first summer on the swim team. In a couple of weeks, you will participate in your first triathalon - something neither your Dad nor I have ever done. You are always working towards being the first - first to try, first to finish! My first born. It is a role where you are very comfortable and I wouldn't change it for the world....

You are always my first and I love you! Here's to many more great years to come....

Love,
Mom

At the Rex Hospital Open with Dad

Striking the ball on the soccer field

Posing at school for pictures

Buried at the Beach

First lost tooth!!! Momentous for us all....

Just hanging around...




Thursday, July 21, 2016

Back in time....just breathe

I normally try to post about things happening in our life in chronological order so that I can go back and 'relive' the memories when the mood strikes. However today I just can't seem to get past this occasion and need to start in the present.

I have been thinking about this milestone for what seems like an eternity - the triplets starting kindergarten. While many parents (moms) dread this day when their baby leaves them, I have been anxiously waiting for it. Yes, partly because with 3 boys the same age, quiet in my house is scarce, but the other part is because I feel like it is my first 'test' of how I am raising my boys, what kind of job am I doing as a mother?

I don't mean are they smart or how do they compare to the others in their class academically. I mean, am I raising them to be polite, caring, independent young men? This is my first test. With Chase, I felt like I was passing with flying colors. He went to Kindergarten and WOWed them (and me as well). He has been shining bright in school, as a person, and I couldn't be more proud of him. But with the triplets, the doubt has crept in to my mind. Have I given Jack too much attention and coddled him too much? Do I allow Anthony to pout or whine when he doesn't like the outcome and therefore not allowed him to learn how to solve conflicts? Does Graham know that he has a voice that can be heard and appreciated when he chooses to use it? Any other Moms out there know what I am talking about? Maybe it is just me because of the unique situation of having triplets, but somehow I don't think that is the case.

When the boys each went for their "first" day of school, I was lucky to have Chase be able to leave the car and walk with them to find their teacher on his way to class. You see, this is the first time when they have been 'alone' for a major milestone and that is hard and scary for me. I am used to being able to take comfort in the knowledge that they have each other and they will take care of each other when I am not around. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were days of great pride for me, but also of great anxiety. What if I failed them and they didn't know how to cope? I have had a knot in the pit of my stomach for weeks now and it grew bigger as the start of school approached. As we moved through the week, the knot didn't lessen, it just shifted. The worry came in different forms, manifested itself in different ways.

I am all smiles and joyful when people ask how I feel about the boys starting school. I don't want the boys to see that I am nervous because I know that they will feed off of me and I have to be positive and excited for them. But inside, inside, I can't breathe. I worry all the time and stare at my phone waiting for the call from the school that says one of the boys isn't coping. As a mother, this has been my hardest test to date. So as I drop the boys off at carpool each morning with a smile on my face and words of joy and encouragement, I look back in the mirror and watch them walk away with tears in my eyes and nerves in my gut. It is only when I get to see their faces at the end of the day and they climb in the car jabbering away and talking over each other the tell me how things went that I can start to breathe again. I am guessing that time will ease this for me just as it does for all pain but I am not sure that it will ever go away completely. A piece of me leaves every day and as they continue to grow and mature, I know that more and more of me will stay with them in the hope that they will know they are always loved and will always have me holding my breath, waiting for them to return......


Chase - First day of 2nd grade

Anthony - First day of Kindergarten
Graham - First day of Kindergarten

Jack - First day of Kindergarten

A, J, G, C - first day all 4 went to school together (7/21/2016)
To my boys,

Know that words will never be enough to tell you just how proud I am of you. What you have already become and accomplished and what has yet to be seen serves me with great pride and joy. You are the greatest gift I have to offer the world and I am proud that you are able to go out there and find your way and make your mark. Don't ever doubt how much I love you or the fact that no matter what happens, I will always love you....

Love,
Mom

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The eye of the storm....

I can honestly say that I have been thinking about multiple posts that needed to be written over the course of the last month or so. Unfortunately, thinking about them hasn't led to me sitting down and taking the time to organize my thoughts enough to actually write them.

For that lack of focus, I offer this series of events....

End of school for triplets
End of school for Chase
No summer school course taught by me meaning I had the ...
Entire month of June to spend with my boys
Chase turning 8
Start of school - second grade and KINDERGARTEN

As the boys started school this week, I have had 2 of the triplets each day while the other goes for his staggered entry. Starting tomorrow all 4 boys will be in the same school at the same time. While the middle of the day will bring me time to catch up, I also know that the beginning of the day before drop-off and the end of the day after I pick them up will bring complete chaos. I feel like I am in the eye of the storm.....at some point, I will figure out all this newness but for now I have to take it one day at a time and survive the storm. Until then, here a just a few snapshots of the boys....

Pre-School Graduation from NRCOC (J,G,A)

Family trip to Oak Island

Swim Team end of season banquet

I promise that more details about each of the above mentioned will come soon.....


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

5 years later....

**Note: I wrote this post in my head on January 27th, the day the boys actually turned 5**

I woke up this morning and it was only slightly later than it was 5 years ago. I looked at the clock and the memories just started to flood my mind. Here I was, 5 years later, with these boys in my life and being so grateful that this is my life. The memories ranged from sneaking into Chase's room to peak at him as he slept before we left for the hospital to feeding the dogs. Well, I planned to feed the dogs, but they thought we were crazy for being up this early and wanted no part of it. As we walked into the hospital, well he walked, I wobbled, it all felt so surreal. It still seems surreal. How was it possible that in a few short hours, we would have 3 baby boys added to our family? Since I had pre-registered the day before at the hospital, the check-in process was easy. I do remember getting into my gown and chuckling with Jason and the nurse as we tried to get the monitors on all the boys. By this time of the morning, I was pretty awake and ready to get going. The time seemed to drag here as there was an emergency that pulled my doctor so the C-section was delayed. From there, I remember being able to breathe. Yes, I said breathe. You see, for the previous 9 months my lungs were being cramped into a significantly smaller space as these boys grew and developed. While Jason has all these other amazing memories of the birth, I remember finally being able to breathe. And then, being sick, sooo sick. Even with the drugs, I was still sick. Not the way a new mom wants to spend the first moments with her new child. Of course, I only had 2 in the room with me and for 24 hours, that was the case. I remember thinking that I was afraid that I was missing out on key bonding moments with Anthony. That somehow he would know that he had been away from me and it would alter our relationship. God obviously knew better because he is my most attentive and snuggly boy to this day. I am so thankful to be able to set those thoughts aside.

One of the last pregnancy pictures that I could find. Love that Chase and I are reminding ourselves that we are strong because that is what we needed these last 5 years!


As I moved through the day, different moments from the last 5 years kept encroaching and would give me pause. Many of them were little snippets that would mean nothing to everyone else, but to me, they were my world, my life. MY memories. As old and grown as my boys (all of them) may be, my memories would keep them however I needed them to be in THAT moment. There are days when I want to remember them laying on the floor as infants tugging on their feet and babbling to themselves.
On the screened-in porch table on a beautiful winter day

There are days when I need to remember all 3 of them together in the pack-n-play under one blanket sleeping peacefully.
Three sweet, sleeping babies....TINY babies


There are also days when I need to remember the all-day crying marathons, the endless time spent attached to the pump and the dirty diapers.
Then there was the crying....

and more crying....


Those are the times when I breathe a sigh of relief and cherish their growing independence and the freedom it gives me.

When I picked them up from school, they chatted away like magpies and I just smiled. When we picked up Chase and they all fought to tell him first about their birthday celebration at school. My smile was joined by some chuckles. And when we went to a buffet dinner where I watched them load their own plates and carry them back to the table and finish the meal with birthday dessert accompanied by individual singing of "Happy Birthday", my smile and my chuckles were joined by some tears. You see, I am not normally an emotional person. Some claim I am not sensitive. That is about the farthest from the truth as you can get. I choose to show my emotion as it related to what matters most to me.....my family. Today, my boys. So if you see me with tears in my eyes as I watch my boys perform at school or as I watch them learn a new skill and be excited, you will know that is an important moment for me. You see, it seems like as they get older and celebrate more birthdays, they will always be my memories and my babies. Nothing can take that from me....I won't let it.

First time I got to have all three at once

Taking a cat nap



Jack ~                                                    

You are a crazy kid these days. You do things that make me laugh and cause me to take pause. You force me to stop and listen because when I don't, you just say whatever it is a little louder. You love to play cards, and when I say love, I mean we play it all the time. Every free moment from morning until bed is spent with a deck of cards at the kitchen table with you. You have gone from not really wanting to play sports to observing at first and then taking charge and telling people how you want to play. The good news, they will do it because they are so excited that you are playing with them. You are still attached to "George" and all things Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. You still crave some quiet time by yourself everyday and will spend time creating these elaborate scenarios for your characters. Your vocabulary and math skills are growing by leaps and bounds and you talk non-stop. Your kind soul and concern for others makes me smile. I love to watch when you play with endless joy and don't think anyone is watching. I am so proud of how much you are changing and can't wait to see what your future holds. I love you and thank you for making me focus on the joys of being a mom.

Love,
Mom


Graham~                                                                  

Focus. Determination. Grit. Those are the words that I think of these days when you come to mind. You can spend endless amounts of time doing something if it holds your interest. You color and draw with a focus that astounds me. You also never give up. In some ways, that is a great trait. In other ways, it drives me crazy. When you get something in your head, you don't back down. From sports to board games, to eating new food or getting ready to leave the house, it has to be your idea (or at least you have to think it is yours). This stubborn strength is an amazing quality to have as you grow older and experience life. Your preference for quiet time is the softest animal you have at that moment. Your current passion is to play all outdoor sports with your mittens on, even when it is warm enough not to need them. You play with anyone who is willing and shine all the time. You crazy eyes and goofy grin make me laugh and you are the first to give me the "Liner version" of all school happenings. I know ALL the details when you tell me the story and you make sure to fill in anything that your brothers may omit or overlook. You run and glide and laugh with your blond hair flying around you. I love to watch you when you play and you act like yourself and have fun. I can't wait to see what your future holds. I love you and feel blessed to be your mom.

Love,
Mom


Anthony~                                                        

Energy. That one word describes you and your personality perfectly. While you can sit quietly and snuggle when the mood strikes you, you are mainly a boundless source of energy. You run, not walk. You yell, not talk. You laugh, not just smile. And when you get that glint in your eye, oh boy, watch out world. You make me laugh multiple times every day and it never ceases to amaze me how easily you do it. You are also a source of constant amazement to me. You are unassuming in everything you do. I have come to the conclusion that you are that way because you don't like the attention. Your word and letter recognition comes naturally and you don't even seem to realize what you are doing. You want to be involved but don't want to be recognized when you do something good. Being front and center is not your style. You like to blend into the crowd but somehow still manage to shine. You adore your big brother and seem lost in the afternoon until we get him from school. From that moment, you seem whole. Like you were missing a part of yourself and now that it is back, you can move forward. I don't think you are even aware of it happening. That bond is unbreakable and fills me with wonder. You are an amazing boy who makes the world seem right to me. I love you and look forward to many more smiles from you.

Love,
Mom


To my sweet boys,                                                          
                                                                                     
I know that you are eagerly waiting to grow up and time isn't moving fast enough for you. However, as your Mom, I am telling you that this is plenty fast for me. While it seems like ages ago when you were tiny babies who needed me for everything, I am not sure when you became these mature, independent boys who are eager to start 'real school'. I am going to remind you while reminding myself that we need to slow down and take in the moments. Let's not skip any steps along the way. We both need to focus on each day and taking away something from it. I know I cherish them and hope you do as well. I am amazed by you everyday and will continue to be so.

Love,
Mom