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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 :)



Monday, July 20, 2015

Birthday Bonanza

On July 17, 2015, our "babies" turned 3!!!!!
               HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HANNAH!

And on July 18, 2015, my first "baby" turned 7!
<<<<<Tyler, Lauren, Jenna, Hannah & Tanner>>>>

We celebrated everyone's birthday on Friday at a local bounce-house with friends.  It was a fantastically overstimulating, sugary & awesome time!    

 Dancing in neon lights & bubbles to one of our favorite songs, "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious"

This invite was made by my fantastic fellow quad-mom & friend Amber.  I showed her my sketch of what I envisioned the invite including, and she turned my quick sketch into a cute, polished invitation!  Amber also makes unique, creative invites and jewelry.  Check out her etsy shop here.  
I wanted the cake to have the same picture & had fun decorating it while Jenna watched and offered to lick any extra icing.  It was not perfect & I am learning every time, but cakes are so much fun to decorate!  And by the way, I do not MAKE the cake.  Costco does- they are so delicious why mess with a good thing???  
My Type-A quirks were evident when I instructed everyone how to do the cake: we sang one birthday song but for all the kids, saying their names in birth order- Jenna, Lauren, Tyler, Tanner & Hannah.  Then, the birthday kids all had a chance to blow out their own candles.   

The drive on the way home: 5 very tired & sweaty birthday beauties.
On Saturday, we had more of a laid back affair with family over for burgers & watermelon cake to celebrate.  
I carved this cake out of watermelon.  I made one last year for Jenna and it was a hit, so we did it again this year.  It was served with ice cream cones and leftover cake.  
This time, I forgot to request an order of names, and this is what we got!  In case the video doesn't work, it's a birthday song with a 21 people all singing a different random order of the kids' names!


So how big are these kids now?  Here are the latest stats.
Jenna: 4', 1"-- 56.8#
Lauren: 3', 3/4"-- 30.2#
Tyler: 2', 11"--  26.6#
Tanner: 3', 3/4"-- 27.8#
Hannah:2", 11 3/4"-- 29.6#

Hannah & Tyler are just about the same height and Lauren & Tanner are just about the same height; however, Lauren & Hannah are about the same weight and the boys are a few less.  
Girls: Solid.  Boys: String-beans.  
Interestingly, Tanner & Lauren are by far the best eaters out of the four.  Go figure!

Jenna is such an awesome girl.  Many a day Andy and I look at each other after she leaves the room and say, "Man is she such a good kid!".  Not that we don't have our days, but Jenna has a heart of gold and is such a great big sister.  She is curious and playful, full of joy & smart.  She loves to read and we are enjoying reading through the Ramona books this summer together.  I couldn't ask for a better first child and I thank God daily for gifting me with Jenna.
Our sweet, curly-haired cherub!  While I absolutely adore my Baby A, I must say the sweet laid back lady has turned into a Threenager recently.  It is not uncommon for me to make ludicrous requests (like please try to go potty before leaving the house) and have it met with a stink face and either a loud cry of, "NOOOOOOO" followed by a sob and strike in the air to punctuate her anger at my request, or with a sassy, "OhKAY" and elephant stomp to the bathroom.  Ahhh, Lord give me PATIENCE!  Beyond this, Lauren is actually a very vocal and smart little lady.  And she is a sweetie.  Thankfully I went through this exact same thing with Jenna when she was 3, and more recently with Hannah, so I am no rookie.  Love and Logic and looking like I am keeping my calm will hopefully turn this Threenager back into the sweetie I know she is.  Still, I would not trade her for the world!

My monkey-daredevil Baby B is trying to give me gray hairs by nearly killing himself daily .  He is full of life, personality, and independence but still will cling to me like velcro and beg for me to hold him when he is tired or hurt.  He both drives me nuts and melts my heart at the same time.  Here are some real life, recent examples of "normal" things Tyler does all the time.  Tyler has:
>Un-deadbolted our tricky front door and escapes to outside; whether to chase the cat into the woods or play with outdoor toys.
>Un-locked side slider door and escaped outside WHILE a heavy-duty battery was charging in the front yard and Andy specifically told me to not let the kids out because it would kill them if they touched it (unbeknownst to me because I was vacuuming his room from a daily diaper ripping episode).  Grr.
>Climbed up and tried to climb over banister of stairs (a 9' drop)
>Climbed up and perched on top of second floor deck of house (a 14' drop)
>Climbed up tries to climb over deck of beach house we visited (was about a 20' drop)
>Opened my van door, climbed, in, and locked doors.  While honking repeatedly.
>Opened Andy's car door, climbed in, and puts key in ignition.  While honking repeatedly.
>Tyler can totally and completely un-strap himself from his 5-Point harness child car seat.  And he likes to do it when I am driving.
>Climbed on various John Deere and other tractors and started engines if keys were in ignition.
>Climbed over baby gate and snuck into kitchen to eat crackers from pantry.
>Climbed over baby gate in kitchen and almost pulled a butcher knife down while I was in the middle of cutting watermelon.
>He loves to ride tricycles and other riding toys outside & go reeeeeally fast down the driveway, crash into others, and/or go off-roading.

We are in trouble!!!  When not trying to kill himself, Tyler is talking up a storm, showing signs of potty training readiness, figuring out how things mechanically work and operate, trying to break the rules, or cuddling.  For as much of a handful as he is, he is even more a sweet, special, smart, and treasured boy.  He is a keeper!

My sweet cuddly boy is growing & talking up a storm.  Out of all the kids, Tanner looks so much like a little boy to me versus a small child. Tanner is sweet and playful and curious and thankfully slightly less Evel Knievel-ish compared to his brother.  Not saying that he doesn't also climb banisters, start tractors, break into vehicles or hike over the baby gate into the kitchen 1046 times a day, but he is slightly less crazy than his identical twin brother who is 2" shorter, 1# lighter, and apparently has 9 lives.  Tanner is my buddy and mostly good-natured (unless he is tired, then all bets are off).  While I still see some motor clumsiness here and there (with my OT eyes that cannot be turned off) he is fully capable of doing anything and everything & has made amazing strides.  I love that boy more than words can say and am so proud to be his mommy.  I often remember that we almost lost him on day 2 and trust me, I say prayers of gratitude to God all the time that we have him.  Not to mention he and Tyler are the best of friends, and Tyler would be lost without him (and vice-versa).  I love having boys, even when they make me want to claw my eyeballs out sometimes.

Our Resident Diva who spent a lot of the 2's challenging my every. single. word, has started to soften around the edges and instead of battling me, has become quite the little helper!  She is smart as a whip and catches onto everything.  Hannah still has her bull-headed moments and likes predictability, but offering her choices makes all the difference in the world.  She likes to be my helper and actually helps me often!  At the same time, she has also become quite the tattler and brown-noser.  For example, when Lauren is throwing a fit, Hannah will give me a cheesy "I'm the good one!" smile. She has even said, "I'm being good, right mom?  Lauren is making bad choice." That girl!!!  She is playful and curious and is the only one who can dependably wear undies all day long or accurately tell me the truth about a situation if I missed something (she even will tattle on herself!).  Hannah is very particular about what she wears.  Heaven forbid I try to pick her clothes out or even her underwear.  She keeps me on my toes, my sweet loving baby D!

So that is the update on our four 3 year olds and 7 year old.  Our sugar buzz has faded, the kids are settling into the new ages, and life is good in the Niemeyer household!  Thanks to all of you for your continued love, prayers, and support.  God is so good!!!