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Thursday, November 22, 2012


This Thanksgiving, I am overcome with gratitude for the gifts we have to be thankful for this year.  One year ago, who would have known this is where we would be today?!?  One day simply cannot fit in all that we are Thankful for this year... to us, this entire year has been a celebration of Thanksgiving.

 I am so Thankful to a Mighty Creator...
I came to know Christ personally ten years ago, and since then I have been driven to tears tens of thousands of times regarding His goodness, love, mercy, and grace on such a person as me.  He has shown me that even in hard times faith can thrive, and when he blesses, He really, really, really blesses beyond what minds can even conceive!  I have some amazing stories that I can only attribute to Him!  He is faithful and loving; when He convicts or disciplines me it is out of love.  He. Is. My. Rock.  And oh, how I wish everyone could experience such a life-giving relationship with Him!  I do not write this blog to try to "witness" to people, but a large part of who I am is because of my faith in Christ Jesus.  God is very much a part of my life, and I am so Thankful that He, the One who created the stars, the planets, the birds & us, He truly cares about every single person and He takes delight in blessing us.  And oh, He has.  Amazing.

I am so Thankful for an amazing husband...
who helps out immensely with the daily chores around the house- feeds, diapers, baths, laundry, you name it-- with kindness, love and patience (most of the time!).  He is an amazing, involved daddy and an excellent provider who I respect immensely.  After nearly 9 years of marriage and raising quads +1, yes we still love each other, but Praise Jesus, we also still like each other... a lot!
Tanner enjoying Extreme Relaxation with daddy
I am so Thankful for Jenna...
Who is such a joy!  She has handled going from an only child to an only child with a temporarily disabled mom preggo +4, to an older sister with grace, finesse, & resilience that many adults probably couldn't manage!  She is such an awesome big sister to the babies.  While it has been hard for her at times, I am so proud of her.  She is such a gift!  A favorite saying of mine during her hard moments is, "Jenna, even when you are SO SO grumpy & grouchy, I still love you soooo much!"  And it's true.  Thank you Lord for Jenna!
Jenna at Preschool
I am so Thankful for our four miracle babies...
Who are thriving and developing and doing just awesome!  They are "ordinary" babies in every sense of the word, but we still find them to be "Extraordinary!"  And, not only that, but our quad squad is regularly sleeping soundly all through the night (as in 9-11 hours each night)!  WHOO HOO!!!
Tummy time, working on head & neck control!

Play time!  I love getting down on the floor & seeing them start to engage with toys!
Our cute quads!  Clockwise, from bottom L:  Hannah, Lauren, Tanner & Tyler

I am so Thankful for our parents...
Andy & I are so blessed with great parents who are retired and most live close to home.  The grandpa's help out immensely by being Jenna's chauffeur to & from preschool, and both my & Andy's moms are here several times a week.  They help out so much, and are so loved by us all.  Thank you!
The kids with their Papa & Mimi
The kids with grandma & grandpa
Grandpa holding Tyler

Tyler smiling at his Papa
I am so Thankful for our family & friends...
Who have helped us out in countless ways.  We have made new friends along this journey and have grown closer to others.  People have been so generous to us this season- SO AMAZINGLY GENEROUS!  May God Bless all you who have helped us and continue to do so.  People have generously given us meals, their time, money, clothes, diapers, strollers, toys, sage advice, laughter, love, and more.  I am also so thankful for our Church, Ada Bible, that has pooled resources in a million ways to help and support us-- we even had a men's small group help Andy build a garage for our van!

Never in my whole life have I been so humbled and in awe of people's kindness & generosity.  In a world where the news always seems to shed darkness, corruption & self acts, take heart that there are mountains of good, kind & selfless acts occurring all the time!  They might not make the nightly news, but believe me they are occurring all the time.   And we get to be so blessed as to see a slice of this kindness & goodness up close and personal.  So thank you again.

I could go on and on, I am Thankful for so much more!  For a warm cozy home, the ability to have this year off work, for living in this Country, for laughter, for health....  there is so much!

What are you Thankful for today?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

God-Given Strollers!

Tyler, Tanner, Hannah & Lauren are 3 1/2 months old and doing so many amazing things!  I will need to do a post soon about all the updates & milestones... but right now I have four babies getting hungry and they are LOUD!  Here are some sneak peeks:

Tanner engaging with & playing with toys

Lauren drinking yummy milk

Tyler sees a handsome dude in the mirror!

Smiley Hannah!

Last post I mentioned they were going through the night:  I should have clarified, I dropped the middle night feed but mommy & daddy were still up several times a night to put pacifiers in mouths, change poopy diapers, calm fussers, etc.  However, I think we have turned a corner!  The last 2 nights I have slept all night with NO INTERRUPTIONS!  In fact, this morning, I awoke with a start at 8 am.... it was quiet... odd.  You see, Jenna normally always is bouncing in my room when it is 7 and the babies usually have been waking at 6:30... but when I got out of bed, I had four peacefully sleeping babies who had been asleep since before 11 AND Jenna woke up after 8.  YEAH!!!  It felt kind of weird getting 8 uninterrupted hours of sleep;-)!!!

Getting back to the reason for this post: when I was pregnant, I researched quad strollers.  Basically, there are 2 different kinds:  the Foundations stroller, a 2/2 style, and the Runabout, a jogging stroller that is 4 seats in a row long.  Both have their pros and cons, and both have different optimal times for use.  The Foundations can fold up and is not too long, so is better for when in crowds.  However, it is harder to manage.  The Runabout is much smoother to push and maneuver but can't fold up and is very long.  Both are kind of heavy and beasty, but then again, I do have 4 babies!!!

So the consensus was that we would try to buy both, if in our budget and abilities.  I have been keeping my eyes on used ones, and even saw one for sale in Indianapolis a few months ago, but literally I prayed about it and didn't feel the push to get it, so I didn't.

 Philippians 4:19 says that my God will meet all my needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus- Well, Praise Jesus I think He finds a need & delights in giving me strollers!   Some of you may remember my story of how we got the Snap & Go strollers, the link is here.  I then had a mom of twins donate our second stroller frame to us--- amazing!  These have been perfect for us during the little baby phase and work amazing.  We love our snap-n-go strollers!
Our two double snap-n-go strollers, both donated!

Well, I had a friend recently tell me she has a friend who had 2 sets of twins very close in age.  She was getting rid of her Foundations stroller and would we like it?  WOULD WE?!?!?!  She brought the beast to our house Tuesday this past week and we were so thrilled.  I will clean the dust off it in the Spring and we will be mobile!
Our foundations quad-stroller, donated!!

However, I told Andy & my mom on Wednesday that I would still really like the Runabout stroller, because of its easy maneuverability making walks much easier (country roads are hard enough, and I plan to go on daily walks come Spring!).  They are very expensive, and so I figured I would just keep my eyes open and see if something comes up before Spring.
Well, listen to this.  My sister-in-law works at our church in the Mission dept.  One of the local missions she works with is a Pregnancy Resource Center, and Wendy has told the people there about her sister-in-law who has quads.  This week they found out someone donated a 4-seater stroller.  There is not quite a demand for those, you know?  The lady remembered us & called Wendy, who called me and asked if I was interested.  I told her it depended, because we had just been gifted earlier that week with a quad stroller.  When Wendy told me it was a Runabout, I couldn't believe it!  I called the lady, who was very eager to donate it to us & have us pick it up that day to get it out of their hair.  A total win/win situation!!!  So may I present to you a picture of our other quad stroller:
Our Runabout quad-stroller, donated!!!

"Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart" (Psalm 37:4).
If this isn't evidence of God's goodness, I don't know what is!!!


Sunday, November 4, 2012

This is how we do it!

We are definitely settling into routines here in the Niemeyer household!  I find it so amusing when people see our life and say things like, "Oh, I could never handle that!"  Which always leads me to think a few things:
First of all, yes you could.  If you found yourself with 4 babies and a toddler, you would do what you needed to do to feed them, care for them, and live.  I am certain of it-- it's just what we do as humans!
Second, I would have said the same thing to a mom of multiples!  I firmly believe Andy and I are proof in the saying, "God doesn't give us what we can handle, He helps us handle what we are given."  Trust me:  God is  at work all over the place in our attitude and skills, because on our own, we wouldn't be able to do this at all!  So please don't think we are more "with it" than we are--- we just get to see & experience God's phenomenal grace and gifts significantly on a daily basis! (especially His gifts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness & self-control-- of which I plead for several times a day)!
Third, never underestimate the power of community.  The old saying "it takes a village to raise a child" is so true.  We have had family, friends, acquaintances and strangers in our community reach out and help in some mighty ways, whether that is to make meals, help build a garage, care for babies, wash bottles, clean our house, or just offer some words of encouragement!  It all has helped us so amazingly, and reminds us how kind people are.  I also have the pleasure of chatting all the time with other quad moms around the states- a few even had their babies within days of ours!  We trade strategies, pictures, interventions, and yes, even epic fails all the time.  I love having the community of other moms of multiples!  It makes what we do seem so very normal, which to us, it is.
And lastly, let me say it loud and clear:  IT'S ALL ABOUT ROUTINE, BABY.  We have systems.

For everyone out there who may or may not have quadruplets, this is how our household does some key things right now (with babies at 3 1/2 months old).

The Schedule:
When I read the book Babywise when Jenna was a baby, I distinctly remember throwing it across the room as I tried to keep her awake after a feed.  I think I also muttered something about it being a stupid book of course written by a man.  Fast forward several years and four babies later, and I picked up the book and read it with a new vigor & understanding.  After reading it, let me assure you yes, it is written by a man, but also his wife, too, and they have triplets.  And my quad moms swear by it, so I knew I needed to give it some serious attention!  The book is huge on getting your baby on a schedule that is fairly rigid and centers around "eat, wake, sleep" patterns.  It also recommends feeding schedules and tips to get your child(ren) sleeping a full night very early on.
And so I have adopted this schedule fully!  It says that until babies can sleep 9-10 hours at night, you still want them on the 3 hour schedule during the day, but then you do a last night feed and stretch out their nights until they can sleep all night.
So this is our schedule:  Feeds are at 7am, 10 am, 1 pm, 4pm, 7pm & last feed is at 10 pm.  And guess what?  A hard week of training babies and sticking to the tips from other moms & the book and OUR BABIES SLEEP ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT!!!!!  And they do great.  One or 2 babies still might fuss at night, but they can go all night without a feed just fine and sometimes even need waking up at 7am!  Go Tyler, Tanner, Lauren & Hannah!

Feeding the crew:
My quad-feed set-up (and yes, I am in the corner at their feet so they don't fall!)

 The babies still eat best propped up a bit & sidelying, so that is what I do right now.  I prop the bottles up at correct angles with burp cloths and receiving blankets, and arrange the babies in a sort-of L shape on the sofa & footstool.  Those yellow & green stuffed animals are Bottle Buddies and hold the bottle and helps prop up the bottles.  I then latch on each child starting with the noisiest ones.  Once all 4 are sucking, I am always checking that they are swallowing, not drooling or choking, and that all looks stable.  I sit in the center much like a conductor of an orchaestra & constantly sing to them, touch them & look into their eyes.  Being the OT that I am, I also am concerned about their hands starting to come to midline to hold the bottles so I try to prop up shoulders and arms when I can for a better body position.  When one baby needs a burp, I burp that one, and then set up their bottle again.  Simple, right?  Some days are better than others, but most of the time I find they eat faster this way than 2/2.  While I still would love to feed a baby one at a time (a rare opportunity!), some days I am the only person home so this set-up is a must!

Since I started writing this post, our babies have graduated up from the 4 oz Dr. Brown bottles to the 8oz bottles (ok... so they're still consuming 4 ounces, but mommy wanted to get use to those bigger bottles and increases will happen!).  However, the system is still the same.  Our babies now consume 24-28 bottles a day (6-7 feedings).  That's a whole lotta bottle washing and making.  This is what works for us:
The dirty bin.  All used bottles go in here (rinsed out, taken apart) until ready to be washed.

One of the best bottle washers in town- my mom!

Once everything is washed, I assemble nipples/tops & valve/vents, and place bottles on a baking pan

Next I turn around & take my tray to the other counter where I assemble the formula.  We go through about a canister and a half per day.  I fill all the bottles to the right mL amounts per child (currently 120mL for all but Tyler, who is 110 mL).  I also add prune juice to some bottles to counter constipation, of which Hannah struggles with the worst!

My favorite tip:  the dry erase marker!  I mark dots for Tyler and H for Hannah's super duper prune juice surprise.  I also add multivitamins to the third row in so I don't have to remember this step during the feedings, and add more in to the night feed if they want it (and they do!).

Another favorite tip, this idea from a fellow quad mom:  I put the bottles in a crock pot, which is always kept on low in the corner of my kitchen.  I add water periodically so the water can heat the milk fully.  I put the bottles in when I wake the babies, change them, and volia!  Perfectly heated bottles.  Even if they sit in there 1/2 hour, they do not get too hot.  Love it!
The rest of the bottles go in the refrigerator.  I use my waitressing skills from years past to place the tray in the fridge by simply sliding the baking pan on the top shelf.  So far no spillage!

And there you have it.  Easy, right?  I know you could do this, too. ;-)

Babies Play & Sleep:
Our quadlings may be 3 1/2 months old, but their gestational is only 3 weeks and they still need lots and lots of sleep during the day.  Usually after a feed they zonk right out, although according to Babywise we are suppose to keep them awake for at least 15 minutes-- we try!

However, lately each baby has had longer stretches of alert time, to which I eagerly put them on the floor for some play time!  It is SO neat having each one make eye contact with you and start interacting and engaging with toys.  As of right now, I would say Tanner seems to be the most alert and will bat at toys and really engage with them.  The other 3 have their alert moments too, and play also, but are also just so sleepy!  In a few months I will be wishing all they do is sleep, right?!?

Every day between feeds, I alternate giving them tummy time, floor time, bouncer time, cuddle time or general play time.  I give them these times and then put them down for a nap, but if a baby is especially alert, I will continue the alert/play time with that one or two.  As they tolerate longer stretches of alert time and as the schedule transitions from feeds every 3 hours to 4, their nap schedules will emerge a little more clearly.  Right now 90% of their day (when not eating) is nap time!!!
Play time!  

Nap time!  Until recently I could put the boys down in a crib like this to sleep, but now they have pretty bad reflux and so the boys sleep in their rock n play sleepers (which keeps them reclined in an upright position).
"Extended Tummy Time".  Hey, tummy time is important, even if they get sleepy!

Lots of it.  Loads and loads every day.  God Bless our moms and other helpers who make it a goal to get "caught up"-- HA!  Funny thing right now:  Jenna, who is almost 4 1/2, has started (on her own!) taking the dry clothes out of the dryer, folding them, and carrying the basket upstairs.  Amazingly, she folds clothes very well!  And so I have started paying her (a quarter) every time she does this.  She loves to help, and she honestly is a big help!  (I know, I know.  She is amazing!!!)

I make my own laundry detergent and so I save a whole heck of a lot of money: find the recipe at under "best laundry detergent ever."  It amounts to around 6 months of laundry (or for me, maybe 3 months!) for under $3, and works great!  For added toughness, I also will add a bit of Oxy Clean or spot clean really yucky stuff, but otherwise it works great and can also be used on cloth diapers, which I plan to use in the future (wish me luck!).

This is it!  Beyond having four babies at once, I feel everything is the same as before.  We still are who we were, we have the same friends and interests, Jenna is still a normal 4 year old.  Andy and I are so blessed with a solid, really good marriage and people in our life that hold us accountable to keeping our marriage healthy.  We are so blessed with great family and friends who amaze us with their love and generosity.  We have a strong faith and an excellent church.  We have five healthy, beautiful children.  I have no idea what we did to deserve such blessings, and we try to thank God daily for his overabundant blessings.  Maybe life is a little lot more hectic than ever before, but we wouldn't change a thing.

And there you have it.  That is how we do things these days!