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Friday, September 18, 2015

Falling into Routines

As much as I love Summer, I really enjoy Fall for its 
crisp weather, pumpkins, and most of all,  return of routines!  All of us are keeping busy.

First of all, 
Jenna started 2nd grade this year!

She also is in our local LASSO soccer team sport this fall, so we go to practice twice a week and have games every Saturday.  It makes weekdays more busy, but Jenna really enjoys playing soccer & she is good at it!  Her whole team is fun to watch and the siblings love going to cheer on Sissy at games.

Andy is keeping busy with his business, Oak Meadow Tree Service.  He took a nearby tree down a few weeks ago and the kids loved watching daddy work.

I fully expect Andy to put a harness on Tyler next year as his young apprentice.
And I fully expect Tyler will LOVE IT!

I have had a change in my routine too!  I added another day of work, so now I work 2.5 days a week but in a different department:  My former department!  I still service the students of Grand Rapids, but have returned to my old position as an Itinerant Occupational Therapist (that means I travel building to building).  
My population is preschool and school aged children.  I really have enjoyed working with high school students & young adults with physical disabilities these last 2 years, and the staff & students have been wonderful to work with.  However, the extra day of work will be helpful and I love working with the younger population- not to mention my old group of colleagues!  

The biggest change I have saved for last: 
We now have 4 preschoolers in the house!  

I was not initially planning on enrolling the kids into preschool until they were 4, but early Spring I was encouraged to sign up and see if we would qualify for scholarships.  Which we did, x4!
The 3's preschool they will attend this year is 2 days a week, 2 hours each.
The program is a co-op, so the only downside is you need to volunteer-- (which I love to do)-- 7 times.  Per student.  

So I will become a frequent fixture in their classroom with my 28 volunteer opportunities, but no worries.  Like I said, I love this population and I do not have to be the teacher, just her assistant! :-)

 I did a dry run last week practicing getting the kids up, fed, dressed, out the door; taking Jenna to her school by 8:40 and then the preschool building by 9 am.  We did such a fantastic job I decided to let them play at McDonalds the next hour while I sipped coffee and munched on a muffin.  Because this mama was pooped.  These will be busy mornings, but hopefully I can stay on time most days!

First Day of Preschool!  
Hannah (having a diva moment), Lauren (excited to go in), Tyler (folding his hands in an I-do-it-not-gonna-hold-hands moment) & Tanner (running away over & over & over...)
What routines are you falling into this Fall?



Thursday, August 20, 2015

Just your average day...

Ever have one of those days?

I have come to the conclusion that "one of those days" is usually just another normal day to me.  Do you know what I mean?  Have you ever been in a phase of life (or are right now) where when you actually stop to think of the events of the day, they're kind of absurd, but you just roll with it and don't focus on it too much because if you did, you would:
a) crumble into a puddle and cry tears of self-pity (been there, done that)
                or worse-
b) get that crazy look in your eye like Jack Nicholson in The Shining and start laughing that crazy laugh?

Sometimes I recount moments of my day to friends and family and they laugh, telling me I need to write a blog about it.  Moments like cleaning playground equipment that was mistaken for a toilet.  Fetching a steak knife from a child's hand as he/she is swinging it around while standing on my kitchen counter.  Casually stopping children from falling off a 15' ledge or ingesting poison.  Praising a frog-catching child as said frog is suddenly smooshed between fingers.  Feeling like Neo from The Matrix as I fast-as-a-snap stop five kids from running out my van into a busy parking lot by halting two with my leg, grabbing two more by their shirts, balancing on the other leg like a yoga master, and twisting my body to bark at oldest to stop.
Reminding kids clothes need to STAY ON.
Reminding kids to please not pee on their sibling.
Eating a sandwich with one hand as I wipe a child with the other.
Or, catching boys tearing apart their bedroom wall, baseboard, & CARPET during "rest time".  (((shaking head right now)))

Hannah Fairy LOVES catching frogs and is holding one here.
It might have died shortly thereafter.  "Gentle" is such a hard concept...

 The list goes on & on of "everyday" moments like these...
Time is short and my memory is even shorter, so most of these moments get forgotten about.  However, a few weeks ago I had a smidgen of free space & the day was especially ridiculous, so I decided to chronicle it before I forgot.

Perhaps you can relate, or at least get a good laugh.

An Average Summer Day (for a mom with 5 kids, 4 who are 3 y/o quads):

Wake up.  Groggy.  As I do every morning.  Note: every morning I vow I will go to bed earlier that day, and every night I still stay up way past when I should because apparently picking up, cleaning & having an orderly house trumps sleep in my deranged head.

Get ready.  Shower, make coffee, read today's quick snippet of Jesus Calling while I put on make up, quickly eat breakfast because whatever I eat in front of kids they all seem to want to eat more than what is on their plate.  Ignore the screams, giggles, bumps & noises from kids' rooms as I shove toast with PB in my mouth.

Get kids up: Boys are in room naked, with diapers folded into their blankets on the floor and one diaper is the brown variety.  Note: I do wrap package tape around their diapers overnight in an attempt to avoid this.  Hmm.  Quickly put diapers on their naked buns before they pee all over the carpets again.

Get girls.  A library book I read to them the night before was snatched from atop their dresser & they ripped a page out.  Hannah has her overnight diaper off, and it's next to a wet puddle on the (just steam cleaned) carpet.  Both girls are blaming the other for the ripped page.  I scold both & quickly spray the wet spot with cleaner, blot it, and rush all 4 kids upstairs.  Have girls ceremoniously sit on toilets but we all know they already went elsewhere.

Get all 4 dressed, Jenna comes upstairs dressed and sleepy eyed, feed them all breakfast.  After breakfast, need to change 3/4 outfits because they are stained from the blueberry oatmeal I served them.  Rush to get shoes on kids to take Jenna to Cheerleading camp.  Not before having to change a quick poop and re-apply shoes that were taken off after I put them on.  Get all kids in van by 9:20.  Run inside to brush my teeth and to got the bathroom, which renders us late.  Priorities.

Drop Jenna off.  My plan was to go to Costco with all 4, but they kept on begging to go to a playground so I thought I would be Nice Mom and do that first.  We play and have fun.  They are such fun, good kids.  Then we get back in van via me carrying 2/time and quickly strapping them in to bypass the whole all four darting and crying at the same time).

I realize there is no time for Costco now.
Angry at myself for my lack of time management & prioritizing fun over groceries.
Yes, I just said that.

Decide to go to Meijer and get the basics.  Drive there, meal planning in my head on the way there and quickly scratching a grocery list as I park.

Get all four kids in cart, grab goldfish crackers and waters to appease the crowd (I always have crackers and water on hand.  They are essential diaper bag supplies!).  Grab my reusable shopping bags, one large and one insulated in case we don't have time to go home to refrigerate before picking up Jenna in 75 minutes.  Walk in, quick grab an item before switching kids from regular cart to the "family friendly" cart (which still only straps 3/4 kids).
Side note:  I need to really have a word with these cart makers.  Clearly there is not a huge need for shopping carts that can hold 4 toddlers and a mountain of groceries.  Do they even make those???  I would be such a happy shopper if they did.  Wait a second-- no I wouldn't.  I would still be shopping with 4 kids, so I doubt a happy shopper I would be.  Still.  It would be great.

Upon switching carts, Tanner throws a complete meltdown and refuses to get into new cart.  Hannah and Lauren fight over who will sit in front.  And Tyler?  He has climbed himself out and is heading towards the greeting cards.  Then I see blood on my arm-- what is that from?  Tanner is still hysterical.  The girls are getting hysterical.  Tyler is making me hysterical.  The greeter is a kind old lady and is watching the mayhem and I turn psycho.  I get that Jack Nicholson look in my eyes, tell Tanner this is no way to behave and announce we are LEAVING.  Then, I turn to that nice lady, with a crazy look in my eye, and say, "THIS IS RIDICULOUS.  MY KIDS CAN STARVE BEFORE I DEAL WITH THIS IN A GROCERY STORE!!!".  I grab Tyler, rush out with all four screeching in the cart, then realize I had already grabbed merchandise, angrily grab it & hand it harshly to the nice lady, and storm out with a cart-load of screaming, bloody kids.

Note:  Lady at Meijer, I am so, so, so very sorry.  It was not you.

Get kids strapped back in, realize the blood was from a scab from Tyler's elbow, wipe it off, strap angry and hungry kids back into their seats (I believe the correct term is hangry), and head home to make an early lunch.

Wash kids' hands, ask girls go potty, make lunches, and as I literally am sitting them down get a call from the Cheer camp coach that Jenna doesn't feel good.  Un-strap all 4 kids from booster seats, load them back in van, give everyone a cup of goldfish crackers, and off we go to pick up Jenna.

Get Jenna, feed her goldfish crackers on the ride home, and voila, she is better.  Get home, get kids back out of van & see that Lauren wet herself so I had to clean the car seat.  Get home, feed everyone their lunch, and as I am cleaning up from the lunch mess one of the girls decides to rip another page out of a different library book.  She gets a time out, where she sulkily refuses to sit, and eyes me with a daring look in her eye.  You know the look.  The "What are you going to do about this, mom?" look.  I give her verbal 1-2-3 warning, then another, and with a final refusal she gets THE consequence.  Tears and apologies and prayers after the spanking, and phew are they ready for naps.

Take all kids down for naps.  Which means girls fall asleep immediately after I read them a book, and boys go crazy in their room for a while.  I keep an eye on them via video monitor just to make sure they do not strip, but beyond that I let them do as they please.  Jenna has a friend over for the afternoon, so the big girls are busy outdoors and happy.

I EAT.  Dang, I love food and wish I had time to savor it.  But just not enough time!  Especially this day, because I decided to type this blog and we all know how hard it is to type and eat at the same time.

Still, it is so nice.  I get a little space.  A little breathing room.  It is my favorite time of the day.  I have SO MUCH I want to do.  Need to do.  There is always a running list of things to do.  This day I simply blog, wash and fold a few loads, clean up that wet car seat, and whoosh.  A precious hour just flew by.

Sadly, I need to wake the kids up so they are not up past 10 tonight.  The time goes so fast...  After a rowdy wake-up and snuggles, diaper changes and potty trips, I quickly clip 40 fingernails and 40 toenails and then it's snack and back in the van to go watch Jenna practice soccer.

Pick up a pizza on the way to practice (because no groceries = little food options in the house, and who has time to make and feed 6 kids when soccer is at 6?).  Kids successfully scarf all food on the field, and thankfully I have help from a friend keeping boys out of the parking lot (they are such boys, and love cars.  And trucks.  And tires, gas tanks, engines...).  Another mom (of older twins!) joins our fun, which means I have another set of eyes.  And then yet another mom (of younger twins!) comes with her little ones and I actually can enjoy talking to other adults, watch my kids play in a large field, and even catch a glimpse of Jenna kicking a soccer ball here and there.

And then it's time to leave, and after changing a stinky diaper, I strap Tyler in the van so Mr. Runner is secure.  Imagine my shock as I am getting the girls and hear the van horn honking.  Who in the...?

Yup.  My Tyler just learned how to un-do his car seat's 5-point harness.


Wrangle everyone, leave in van, go home, say HI to daddy who just got home himself.  I give all my sweet but dirty little urchins a bath, lather them with lotion, and put overnight diapers (package taped, of course) & jammies on them.  Put girls to bed; Andy puts boys to bed; Jenna gets both of us since we want to hear about her day; as we say good night to her, there is still a party going on in the boys room.  Tyler can turn on the light (by climbing up the door knob) so the lights keep on turning on and they are throwing blankets over the edge of the bed.  It is a party, I tell you.  No matter that they only napped about 40 minutes.  2 attempts to calm them are futile.  Defeated, I ascend up the stairs and realize I have a massive headache.  Drink 2 tall cups of water, since I know I didn't drink as much as I should have today.  Collapse on bed, where Andy is plucking on his computer and still working.  We chat a little, and then finish up the day's work before crashing much later than we vowed we would when we woke that morning.

Someday, we will have an empty house and will probably look back at these days and not remember one dang thing that made them busy, but just knowing it was.  Every day is different and unique, but still every day right now seems to be "one of those days".

Is it busy?  YES.  Is it chaotic?  YES.  Would we have it any other way?  Well.....


No I would not.  Even when my normal day is packed with spikes of craziness, this is the season we are in.
It is hard.  It is uncertain.  It is repetitive.  It is trying.
But it's our life.  And,
It is fun.  It is purposeful.  It is unpredictable.  It is full of laughter.  It is FULL.

And we have so many awesome moments.

Like Jenna learning 12 cursive letters in 2 days this week.  
Like Hannah learning to write the letter H. 
Like Tyler choosing to clean up blocks un-prompted, and then bringing me the bin with a smile wide as can be and saying, "Mom, I DO it!  I clean up!".
Like Tanner & Lauren playing on the playground with a bunch of other kids, spotting each other on a bridge, and spontaneously running to the other & hugging with delight because they love each other.

Like Play Dates Every Day.

And dressing up like twins.
And every day, Hannah asking for "Braids, please!" in her hair.  Every.  Single.  Day.
And helping mommy do her hair.

And Tyler insisting he is a big boy like Daddy.  Lately he has been requesting and showing me he can walk without holding my hand ("like a big boy") and still stay by my side.  If you know Tyler, you know THIS IS HUGE because he is such a runner!!!
Going grocery shopping with mom under the guise as twins and getting to ride Sandy, the Penny Horse.
 Getting Sporty with Sissy.

"Resolving" to help mommy out more.
Fighting over who gets to sit on mommy's lap.
Having Jenna home all Summer long.  She is suddenly acting and looking so old, and has the kindest heart!  I can't believe she will be in 2nd grade soon.  I am currently teaching her cursive, due to her request.  That girl melts my heart.

Mastering a rock climbing wall.  The boys will be such an asset to Oak Meadow Tree Service someday!
Eating, playing, and living life.

Playing in parks all around the area, several times a week.
Working on hand dominance, pincer grasp of writing tools, and pre-writing skills.
The occasional stamped noses.

Acting like they are 3.

We are so blessed.
We have 5 healthy children.

Andy continues to have consistent work and it keeps him very busy.  Not one day has he regretted his decision to leave the Police Force and pursue his own business, Oak Meadow Tree Service.  

Our days are not easy and sometimes they are fairly gritty as we muck through issues like raising 4 preschoolers at once, navigating self-employment for a family of 7, and figuring out how to best love & raise our firstborn child without having her feel second-fiddle to her much more needy siblings.  

I take such comfort knowing I don't have to have it all together.  I literally pray for his Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control several times a day.  Every day I need to remind myself to rely on His strength, because Lord knows my own reserve went out long ago.  I know Christ has been and will continue to always be with me, during the good moments and the bad.  There is such relief in this.

Especially when my average days are sometimes filled with rather ridiculous moments.



Monday, August 3, 2015

Double Date

When I was vacationing with my quad-mom BFF's in Lake Tahoe this past May, Amber B mentioned how she and her hubby were flying from Texas to Chicago in August for a friend's wedding.  

"Chicago?  That's just a 3 hour drive!  Let's meet up!" I exclaimed.

And so we did.  :)

Who knew having quadruplets would weave my life with random people across the US & develop some of the most special friendships I have?  
Andy & I spent the morning with kids and then when my mom came to take over, we happily said good-bye.  Thankfully, my amazing cousin Katie lives right in downtown Chicago and so we were able to save some cash and stay with her.  
As a bonus, not only did I get a chance to catch up with her, but I also got to see my aunt, uncle, cousin Lisa & her kids for a few minutes, too.  Once we settled in, Katie drove us to Navy Pier where Andy & I hoofed around for the afternoon.  Without kids...!

We met up with Mr. & Mrs. Bell for dinner.  I was so glad Andy finally got to meet Amber & both of us finally got to meet Mike.  All 5 of us QMBFFs "chatter" in constant communication every day.   We talk about what's going on each day, the kids, and the hubbies.  So, while I had never met Mike, I felt like I already knew him!  They are great people and we all hit it off so well-- the only thing missing was Amber S, Krista, Ashley & their spouses!  

Oh, it was such a fun night!
After dinner, we saw a comedy show at Second City.  Good times!

Dates are wonderful.  Doing fun things like dinner and comedy shows are fantastic.  Meeting up with special friends and sharing many laughs and memories together?  Magical.

Now THAT's my kind of double date :)