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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Problems & Solutions


It's a wonderful thing and to be expected at the toddler phase- but it makes for one busy home with four of them at once and a 5 year old!  I feel like all Andy & I do these days is chase, clean up after, and teach our crew what they can and CAN'T do!  We are always moving furniture, toys & furnishings as the new independence creates reasons to evolve our definition of "baby proofing".  These toddlers are into everything and are really smart!!!
Jenna is very independent, and loves to play outside with muddy things or inside with tiny little things like crafts (a.k.a. choke-ables) so I am constantly trying to make sure her things stay far away from the quads.  Easier said than done!
With all the constant motion in our home, we have lots of opportunities for problems solving.  Here are just 10 common problems & solutions we faced recently.  Some solutions are better than others.  We try!

Problem 1:  Kids opening up bifold doors all the time.  
Solution:  Remove knobs, replace with a button on a ribbon reeeeaaaallly high!

I must say, I was very proud of this solution I came up with!

"Hey!  Why can't we get into the pantry and coat closet anymore?!?"
Problem 2:  Toys becoming boring
Solution:  Fun times with recycling containers!

Lauren- the kids were literally fighting over this spinach container!


A good tug-of-war fight ensued.  Why does everyone always want the same thing?
Problem 3:  Michigan still had snow way into March
Solution:  Babies finally experienced some sledding time!

Our neighbor Courtney graciously gave us her snowsuit from when she was a baby.  One day when Lauren was boycotting her nap, I decided to take her out so could enjoy the outdoors!

Problem 4:  Potential for Spring Break Blahs
Solution:  Play Dates!!!
A quadtriplet +2 play date!  We met the Huber family in the NICU when all our babies were fighting for their lives.  All 7 toddlers are the same age and all 9 of children are healthy, thriving miracles!

We did a play date with my friend Michelle and her 3 kids.  We both forgot to take pictures, but here is some sidewalk evidence.  Jenna insists she is going to marry Blake some day, and Blake insists he is going to marry Jenna.  They have been friends since day 1.
All 4 parents are OK with this arranged marriage!!! :)
Going for walks in our neighborhood.  We were able to get out, play with the Schmidt's several times & enjoy some really nice, fair weather (finally!)

Going to see the butterflies with grandma & grandpa!

Problem 5:  Growth Spurt x 5= Hungry, hungry hippos! 
Solution:  Feed them your food, and then eat their leftovers (if any).   Which there won't be, so then nosh on a a pb & j later on as you clean up.

Oh my goodness everyone must be going through a growth spurt right now!  They eat, and eat, and eat....
On a plus side, they are very good with plates & utensils now!  And they eat at the table with us now, too!  Yeah!
Problem 6:  Grapes take way to long to cut up when you have a bunch of hungry hippos.  And I am a sucker for fine motor development.
Solution:  Hand-picked grapes from the bunch!***

* These are washed grapes, I am CPR certified, and because I know this can be a huge choking hazard, I go very slowly and don't offer another grape until the one they have is chewed & swallowed.  That being said, they have so much fun engaging with their food!
** This promotes fine motor development because they need to use their index, middle & thumb in a pincer grasp to pull the grape off, which is important later on as they learn to write.  When I first started doing this, Tyler did not have enough hand strength to pull off the grape without help.  In just a week, he was able to do it on his own!  I also am noticing some consistent handedness emerge for all 4 and so it is a winner solution for my crew, but admittedly it is NOT for everyone.    
***This is not recommended if there are choking or gagging issues with kids!  Supervise well!

"More grapes, please!"
Problem 7:  Kids think furniture is for climbing on/in
Solution:  Well, the smart thing would have been for me to remove the table and lock the cabinet immediately.  

What actually happened was I was too busy and figured when someone fell it would hurt and they would learn from that.   Natural consequences, right?
Which happened Saturday.  And I thought Tanner had a concussion.  And I felt horrible.  

So then I removed the table.  And I finally bought locks for that cabinet and installed them last night.  
Sometimes I have good intentions but it is just way to crazy here and my "solutions" kind of stink.

Problem 8:  Fights occur all the time over whether front door should be open or closed.  This means Tyler is always pushing it one way, Hannah pushes it the other, and a sort of push-of-war ensues with Tanner & Lauren either caught in the middle or taking sides for one big bicker-fest. Solution:  Strap door open.

but wait... that created another problem...

Problem 9:  Kids now squeeze behind door and end up falling and stepping on each other and crying and screaming really loud.  And did I mention they still engage in above-mentioned bicker-fest?  And this always occurs when I am busy in the kitchen.
Solution:  Keep door shut.  

But what if I want it open?!?  Weather is finally starting to get nice!  Hmmm....

Problem 10:  Mommy sometimes gets a little crazy.
Can you say Mean Mommy Face?!?!? 

Solution:  Constantly praying to God and asking for his Holy Spirit to send me His wisdom, grace, perspective, & fruit!  
(Fruits of the Spirit are found in the New Testament's book of Galatians 5:22: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control).  

With His help, my daily problems seem much less frustrating.  Really!  They are!  I mean, I sometimes pray for this 100 times a day, but God is ever so faithful.  I know His Holy Spirit is at work when I find my children to be the joys they are even in the midst of "my problems".   

Clearly, we have lots of problem solving opportunities and the moment I try to find a solution another problem pops up.  It is busy and time consuming but hey, this is life!  

I need to remind myself often that my family is a complete blessing and while the minutes & days might seem long, the months and years are indeed short.  And that perspective helps me realize my "problems" are merely opportunities to be creative.  My "problems" can be made useful because they challenge me to live life well with my loved ones in the midst of LIFE.  

And I love a good challenge.  How bout you?



Monday, March 31, 2014

(Almost Forgotten) Cherished Moments

Using a brother as a footstool
... or a sister
Life is craaaaay-zeeeee busy in our home these days.  The kids are in full-fledged toddler quaddler mode, Jenna is busy as ever, and- well, life is just busy!  Many a day I walk up the stairs after putting the kids to bed and with a sigh say to myself, "Well, another day down!".
I am so busy just getting through the moments of each day (and cleaning up after those moments), that it is easy to hurry past or even ignore the little cherished things that make life sweet.  So tonight I thought I would list just some of these little things before they waft out of my mind for good...
Hannah pushing Lauren on a toy scooter
>>> I love the way Hannah laughs so brightly, it sounds literally like "ha HAW!".  She giggles infectiously... how she has such a kind, honest quality- Hannah knowingly handing me small items like hair ties that make their way into her mouth, giving back toys she took from another when I ask her to, handing Tyler his dog because she knows he likes sucking on its legs.  The way Hannah is usually the first to pick up on how a toy works, how or why things happen, and how mom works...

>>> I love the way Lauren loves to curl up on the sofa, press a soft blanket under her nose, and read book after book to herself.  She softly will whisper what sounds like Chinese to herself as she flips through pages... the way Lauren will quietly sneak her way into places that might be off-limits... how she repeats almost everything she hears and will speak in full paragraphs that again, sound like Chinese... the way she lights up when you read to her and will deliberately plop down on your lap as an invitation for you to read more to her... I love her curiosity and sweet disposition and tender heart...

>>> I love the way Tanner will run to you, throw his arms around you in a hug, and snuggle in...  how Tanner loves to stick his face in the bath water and blow bubbles- and how he sometimes (just to make sure) will have a coughing fit because he tried to see if he could maybe breathe underwater this time... I love the way he gets excited and will exclaim, "Ha Ha HA!"as he moves to the source of happiness... the way he loves to say "All done" for anything he is done playing, eating, or doing... the way he will hear me say "No" to something, look at me with those big blue eyes, and then knowingly do it again just to see if I really meant it... I love how he looks at me adoringly, like I am the love of his life...

... I love the way Tyler will hug his legs tight around my waist and wrap his arms around my neck in an effort to stay in my arms forever... the way he grins with his whole body and will clap for himself when he does something well... how today he got so much glee tipping over lawn furniture and throwing ice chunks over the edge of the deck railing...the way Tyler will notice across the room when daddy comes in and will stop whatever he is doing, make a b-line to Andy and exclaim "Dada!" over & over... the way he will throw his beloved dog out of his crib at least once during the bedtime process just so that I will give him a little more attention as I toss it back into his crib... the way he sleeps in the most unusual way with his upper body folded over his legs, the dog's leg in his mouth, and a blanket covering his head...

... I love the way Jenna came home from school today, quickly exchanged pants & shoes for flip flops & skirt, and then happily rode her bike and played outside all evening in this warm weather... the way Jenna will make a card for anyone who hurts themselves or is sad, particularly a brother or sister or friend... I love snuggling in bed with Jenna at night as she proudly and proficiently reads her beginner reading books from school... the way we say prayers and sing songs afterwards, and her bringing up questions that would stump theologians- I am not sure if this is a stall tactic or completely genuine, but many a night I love as we lay in her bed and snuggle and have good talks that go way past bedtime on a school night... I love her zest for life and utter five-ness...

And now that I have chronicled a few moments that would certainly have been forgotten, I love the thought that when I read this years from now, I will probably not remember the in's and out's of what made life so very hectic, but I can be reminded of these small but cherished moments and appreciate them for what they are.  So very, very sweet.

Hope you can take time today and smile as you remember some (almost forgotten) cherished moments that make your life sweet!