Sunday, May 12, 2002

Cathy and Nathan Kapule shared time at home yesterday with their children, from left, Lauren, 3 1/2, Olivia, 5, Nicholas, 3 1/2, and Rachel, 3 1/2. The 3 1/2-year-olds are triplets, with Lauren and Rachel born as identical twins.

Triple treat for Mom

A couple finds parenting triplets
and their sister requires teamwork

By Helen Altonn

Cathy Kapule received a special breakfast treat this morning for Mother's Day -- chocolate chip scones whipped up in a family production.

Her husband, Nathan, said he and their four children, Olivia, 5, and triplets Rachel, Lauren and Nicholas, 3 1/2, sit on the kitchen floor measuring and mixing ingredients.

"They fight about who's going to crack the egg," he said, explaining that's settled by a star system, including a star, circle, triangle and square.

The children rotate and whoever has the star each day gets certain privileges, such as cracking the egg for scones, sitting behind their mom when she's driving or doing some activity.

"It works really well," Nathan said. "It's a little more organized control on making decisions."

Some kind of system was necessary with the triplets' arrival, he said.

Cathy Kapule, mother of four children, enjoyed time yesterday at home with, from left, Lauren, 3 1/2, Olivia, 5, and Rachel, 3 1/2 , who was rushing over to hug her. Lauren and Rachel, two of the triplets, are identical twins.

Nathan said children bring "a higher level of love and commitment" to a loving relationship. "People go, 'It must be hard,' " he said. His answer is, "No, it's just busy.

"They're fun. It allows me to be a kid. It's a chance to live your life again through your kids."

Nathan Kapule, 45, a fireman in the Kaimuki station near their home, was called into active duty for a year last November from the naval reserve and works in security at Pearl Harbor.

Cathy, 43, is a registered nurse in the recovery room at The Queen's Medical Center.

They arrange their schedules so one parent is always home with the kids. "Because of our unique situation, with four car seats in a van, we can't have anyone pick them up," Cathy said.

The Kapules, who met at a triathlon and have been married 10 years, celebrate each day as parents.

They talked over their children's laughter and squeals as the kids rode tricycles around the large deck of their house and played in the yard on swings, a playhouse and a slide. Nicholas and his dad also tossed a ball back and forth.

"Children are fun to play with and be with," Cathy said. "There is just nothing like it. Until you have children, you don't realize how wonderful it is."

She said they were nervous with their first-born, but relaxed with the triplets. "It was probably meant to be that we have four," and because they started late, that the children arrived quickly, she said.

Both parents have twins in their families and Rachel and Lauren are identical twins, which is rare among triplets, Cathy said.

But triplets weren't expected; they learned about them three months into the pregnancy, she said.

"It just happened naturally. We are really, really blessed that they were so healthy. They (doctors) tell you a lot of scary things -- high risk things that could happen."

Nathan is a fitness expert with a University of Hawaii master's degree in exercise science. He also has a background in nutrition and cooked in the Navy, so the children eat healthy.

"We go out and buy food once or twice a month," he said. "Everything else is cooked at home."

All four children go to Central Union Church pre-school. It's a little hectic on those days "just trying to get everybody ready and out the door by 7:30 a.m.," Cathy said.

Otherwise, she said, they try to do something in the morning. And after lunch and the children's nap, they have an outing or family activity. They follow a routine where the children eat, bathe and go to bed at the same time.

The children have different personalities and Nicholas is the most active, his mother said. "He always wants to throw a ball." They have the usual squabbles, she said, "but we have pretty strict rules on how to share.

"The hard part is everybody wants your attention," she said, holding a fussy daughter. "You have to divide it by four."

But she and Nathan work as a team and share duties, she said. "We are really, really lucky."

The couple had an exciting life traveling and running triathlons and other competitions over the years. "That is so past now, but we still try to keep semi-fit," Cathy said, noting they ran the Honolulu Marathon in December.

When their days off coincide, they go for a run and, when her mother visits from Seattle every three months, they have a few "dates," she said.

Nathan said he golfs with his father-in-law when they visit but, other than surfing on good days, he'd rather be home than do anything that doesn't involve family.

They're anxious for him to return to the fire station. He wants to be closer to his family and Cathy said she likes to take the children to the station to visit and play when he's on duty.

After breakfast today and colorful Mother's Day creations from the children, the family planned to go to Star of the Sea Church and visit Nathan's parents in Moanalua Gardens to take his mother some gifts.

With a rising south swell, Nathan said he would go surfing while the children nap after lunch, then take the family on an outing.

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