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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Easter Recap

Some family gatherings we capture sweet photos of they whole family cozied on the sofa, or adorable posed pictures of little ones.
The quads a year ago:  Lauren, Tyler, Tanner & Hannah
This Easter wasn't one of them!

In fact, the only picture I have of all five kids is this:

And, the only photo I have of Andy is this:

And while my mom was able to snap these gems of Jenna & I before church, that was where the attention to capturing the day in photos ended.

The night before Easter, Jenna & I went over the story of Easter with the aide of our Resurrection Eggs.  we love them, and they are the first things Jenna always digs up from storage every Spring.  We go over them often.  I love that Jenna is at the age where she asks really good & challenging questions regarding faith.  This season of Easter brought many great discussions about sin, God's love for us, Jesus' sacrifice, his resurrection from the dead, the restoration that is possible in Christ, and His beautiful redemption.  All this seems really theoretical and heady, but trust me- the discussions were very age appropriate and fun!  I love my Jenna girl so much.  She is just the neatest kid, and Andy & I are so grateful that God chose to give her to us.  And as a bonus, she helped us learn how to parent one child before diving into four at once!

On Easter morning, the kids were super excited to see baskets & buckets filled with goodies.

Jenna had full attention with her bubble gun!
My mom graciously came over to watch the quads as Jenna, Andy & I went to Church (no, we don't take them yet.  Don't judge).  After lunch & naps, we went to Grandma & Grandpa's for Easter Dinner.  Mimi (Andy's mom) and Aunt Ute & Uncle Tom even made an appearance!
Did we get photos?  Certainly Not.
My sister Cindy, husband Steve & their kids Kayden, Soren & Reece joined us along with a friend of Grandma & Grandpa's.  Grandma had a scavenger hunt.
Did we get photos?  Ah, no.

After we ate dinner, the kids played outside on the deck with Grandpa.  Apparently I remembered I had a camera, but did not have the clarity to remember to snap pictures of Grandma & Grandpa together, or take a family picture, or pose sweetly on the sofa with other family members.  

Aunt Cindy tickling the boys

Oh well, despite the lack of beautifully posed pictures, we got some good candids & had a great day with family.

So great we were too busy to take more photos!



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?