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THREE FOR ALL TRIPLETS' PARENTS FIND MULTIPLE JOYS.

Byline: Grace Lee Staff Writer

SIMI VALLEY - Seven-year-old Jerry Lujan, the youngest of his triplets and the only boy, said he has been a perfect gentleman since birth.

``I always let the ladies go first,'' he said, without missing a beat.

Jerry and his older sisters, Taylor and Shelby, were among about 50 sets of siblings to turn out Sunday to Houghton Schriber Park for Southern California's largest event for twins, triplets, quads and more.

The children's mother, Tracy Lujan of Lancaster, helped organize the Higher Order Multiples support group in 1999 with Simi Valley parent D'Anne Fraye.

Having gone through the triplet experience, Lujan said she wanted to help soothe the panicked questions that raced through her mind: `How can I afford this?'' and ``Oh my God, I only have two hands.''

Janis Elspas, mother of 6-year-olds Sarah, Rebecca and Jacob, said she finds comfort in meeting other parents who understand.

``We're looking for support, not only in terms of where we've been but for where we're going,'' she said, adding that while her children may only be 6 years old, ``it's been a lifetime already.''

For parents of triplets, she said, it's never too early to start planning - for college and especially for the day when all three come home with their drivers' licenses.

When her children were 15 days old, she began to plan for their college funds by auditioning them for movies and television shows. By casting triplets, crews can work for longer periods of time.

Her children have appeared in several movies starring such stars as Gwyneth Paltrow and Sean Penn, and earned college tuition in the process.

Having triplets is exactly as hard as it sounds, Elspas said. She has to muster all her diplomatic skills to weather the sibling rivalry of her triplets. She had to keep a sharp eye on the kids, who climbed on top of one another to bypass child safety locks. The best advice she has for prospective parents is to stock up on supplies before the birth, ``because you'll be busy for the rest of your life.''

Yet despite the hurdles, she said there is nothing more rewarding than watching the bond grow among her kids.

Thousand Oaks resident Jenifer Stekline, 39, a mother of three 3- year-olds, agrees that the rewards outweigh the added work.

``The sibling camaraderie is so unique,'' she said. ``There's so much laughter in our house.''

When Quincy Moran discovered he would be the father of triplets, he said he almost passed out.

His children Gracey, Hannah and Kirsten are 8 months old, and he said he's still surprised by ``how much they cry, how much they love to eat and how much they love to use diapers.''

Their older brother, Hunter, 2, is also taken aback by how quickly they can grab his toys, said their mother, Jeanne Moran.

Even at this age, Quincy Moran said, the girls have distinct personalities: the princess, the climber and the smiler. The two who were closest to each other in the womb still like to sleep with their heads touching the other's, she said.

Born three months early, what they all share is their strength and will to live, said their father.

Watching all the twins and triplets brought back memories for the Hansen triplets, Korrie, Kaeli and Kelsey, now 20 years old.

The three, who attend college together in Newport Beach, said they will always be close.

``It's a gift to be part of three,'' Kelsey said. ``It's a way of life.''

Grace Lee, (805) 662-6757

grace.lee(at)dailynews.com

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3 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color) From left, identical triplets Korrie, Kaeli and Kelsey Hansen, 20, wave flags during the Higher Order Multiples annual picnic on Sunday.

(2 -- 3 -- color) Left, from top, triplets Gracey, Hannah and Kirsten Moran, 8 months old, are among more than 50 sets of siblings to attend Sunday's picnic. At right, from left, triplets Mitchell, Spencor and Garrett Fraye also attended. Their mom, D'Anne Fraye, helped organize the Higher Order Multiples support group in 1999.

Tina Burch/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 18, 2003
Words:682
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