December 30, 2009

A Short Break

Things have been crazy here the last week trying to entertain four toddlers on break from preschool, prepare for Christmas, keep the house in order, work and blog. Soooo.... I'm taking a break from blogging until next week. I need to regroup, refresh and come up with some ideas.
Happy New Year! See you all in 2010!

December 29, 2009

The H1N1 Saga

Who knew it would be so difficult to schedule H1N1 shots for my daughters? OK, those of you who have tried to schedule appointments probably knew it would be difficult. First, I tried to make arrangements for us to go to one of the free clinics offered by our local health department. I nixed that when I learned they were only offering the nasal spray. I just didn't like what I read about the spray. Plus, after hearing what other parents endured I wasn't sure my daughters could patiently stand in the long lines at the clinics. Then I tried to make an appointment through our pediatrician, but was told since my daughters are 4 years old they're not "high risk."
Finally, the pediatrician's office received a big supply of the vaccine and started scheduling all its patients. We went for our first shot. I took them by myself. Big mistake. The entire drive to the office they talked about their shot. They were mellow... until we walked in the room for the shots. All four of them started screaming and crying hysterically. Roo tried to kick me. Can you blame her? These same girls had five vaccinations each a few months ago. They really wanted nothing to do with needles. Fortunately lollipops after the H1N1 vaccine helped.
Now I'm trying to discreetly schedule their second dose. I can't even say "shot" around them without having someone eek out a few tears. I keep calling it "H1N1." Have you seen the Chef Boyardee commercial where the mom starts banging pots and pans when someone mentions vegetables? That's how I feel when someone says "shot."
The pediatrician's office offers the follow up on two days... not easy to manage when you're juggling preschool and work. Right now we have an appointment scheduled and I'm frantically trying to find a "volunteer" to come with me. Hubby has to work and I just can't do it by myself again. My hope is to have someone stay in the waiting room with the girls and I'll take them back one at time. I'm hoping this will eliminate some of the trauma. Wish me luck!

December 28, 2009

Recovering from Christmas

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm exhausted! Christmas can take a lot out of a parent, but it's well worth it.
Can you believe Hubby and I actually had to wake our girls up on Christmas morning? They stayed up late on Christmas Eve, and the next morning I rolled over, looked at the clock and discovered it was 7:30 a.m. Definitely time to see what Santa brought.
The Pillow Pets were a huge hit. Tortilla found them first... and found hers last, so it was slightly comical to watch her excitement and then disappointment as she discovered each of her sisters' Pillow Pets. She was overjoyed to finally find her purple unicorn. They've each been using their Pillow Pets at night.
After all the presents were opened we had our traditional cinnamon roll breakfast and then I set about trying to straighten the house.... or at least clean up all the wrapping paper and stray boxes.
Then it was time for round two when grandma and grandpa came to visit. I gave up trying to keep the house clean. After two days of stepping over toys, I finally made the girls sit on the couch until I could make things look presentable again.
It was definitely a magical Christmas. They finally understood all the fuss. It was so much fun watching their sheer delight as they discovered the treasures Santa left for them. It's also the first year they sat through the entire Christmas Eve service without fussing or fidgeting, which I think is pretty impressive.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to start shopping for next year!

December 22, 2009

The Pillow Pets are Here

Last night when I drove home from work, I passed the UPS truck. It was just leaving our neighborhood. Could it be? Were the Pillow Pets finally here? Yep!!!!!
I was so excited to see the box, but a little concerned. It was an awfully small box to be holding four Pillow Pets. I couldn't wait. I grabbed the box, dashed into the den, shut the door.... and found four Pillow Pets crammed into the box. They fluffed up the second I took them out of the box. They're soft. They're cute. They're just what my girls want for Christmas.
Am I excited? I cannot wait for Christmas morning. It's going to be a truly magical day... and not just because the Pillow Pets arrived in time!
(And just a reminder from my original post about Pillow Pets: I was not paid to write about these things nor was I given any free Pillow Pets. My daughters saw a commercial a few months ago and have been telling me Santa's going to bring them each one. And he is!)

December 20, 2009

I Need a Bigger Bed

When Hubby and I bought our first house we were overwhelmed by the amount of space we had. The home included our "master suite" and two other bedrooms, plus a den downstairs. We turned one of the extra bedrooms into a "reading room" and the other into our guest room. We decided to upgrade our own bedroom furniture. I really wanted a King size bed. I grew up sleeping on a double bed and really like, want, need the extra space. I wanted to be able to sprawl out, roll around and sleep without running into Hubby or any cats. Hubby argued that a King size bed wasn't practical for the size of our bedroom. I relented and went with the Queen. I wish I had fought harder.
A King size bed absolutely takes up a lot of space. But it's space well worth it. Since we bought this bedroom set approximately six years ago, I have spent countless nights kicking Hubby's legs off my side of the bed and shoving cats toward Hubby. I often wake wondering how I managed not to fall out of bed given the fact that I'm practically clinging to the side of the bed.
Having four preschoolers makes me want a bigger bed even more. When everyone became 100% potty-trained, the gate over their bedroom door had to come down. Now it's at the top of the steps, meaning the entire upstairs is fair game.
It's actually pretty fun to have my daughters come in my bedroom to "check on me." I pretend I'm still sleeping while they climb into the bed and crawl under the covers. Then I'll open my eyes and feign surprise that four little girls are in my bed. On these mornings we'll stay in bed for awhile just being silly and giggling. Still, we could use more space because those mornings often end with arguments over who is going to sleep next to mommy and whose turn it is to lay on one of the pillows.
Hubby's work schedule has changed again and he's now home in the mornings. I know the girls are excited to "check on" both mommy and daddy in the morning. We may have to be like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and have a huge bed custom-made for us!

December 18, 2009

What if There's No Chimney?

Much to my dismay, our house does not have a fire place. Our home in northern Michigan did and the cats and I were quite spoiled by it during the winter. When we moved, a fire place wasn't a deal breaker, but it was on my list of "wants." Unfortunately, it just didn't happen. Now my daughters want to know how Santa will get in the house.
When the question came up, I gave them the first explanation I could think of: Santa will knock softly on the front door and mommy or daddy will let him in. They liked that idea but were still concerned Santa might not find our house since there's no chimney. Then their preschool teacher came up with an excellent project: Magic Reindeer Food. Each child filled a small baggie with "reindeer food" (oatmeal) and "magic dust" (glitter or small shiny ribbon). On Christmas Eve my daughters will sprinkle the food on our sidewalk. When the reindeer see the food, they'll know to come to our house. I thought it was a really cute idea. Oh, but if you try this at home, remember the teacher's final words: the reindeer will be eating lots of food that night, so there might be some left on your sidewalk and lawn in the morning!

December 17, 2009

Pillow Pets Update

They shipped today!!!! Now it's all in the hands of UPS. Now I guess I need to get a move on and start wrapping the other gifts. Where did December go?

December 15, 2009

Opinions are Like....

If you are a parent and you have never been given unsolicited advice, you are a rare commodity. Family, friends, neighbors, complete strangers have taken it upon themselves to tell me how to raise my children. I know I am not alone in this situation.
The first time a stranger gave me unsolicited advice, I was floored. My daughters were released from the NICU just before Christmas. We were living in northern Michigan and it is cold, cold cold during that time of year. To keep them warm and to prevent looky-loos from touching my daughters with germ-infested hands, I made the decision to use a product called Bundle Me. It's a cover that goes over infant car seats. It was wonderful. It kept my daughters warm when we had to venture out and I could simply pull the cover over their faces to keep them hidden if people so much as thought about sneezing in our direction. Then it happend. I was sitting at a medical appointment with Cakes, minding my own business. Truly, we only ventured out that winter for appointments, but with four preemies we had plenty of appointments to go to. As I sat waiting for our name to be called, a woman came over, sat down next to me and started lecturing me on the dangers of my Bundle Me. She said she was a NICU nurse and has seen children suffocate in these things. (Oh really? Then why is the product still on the market? Yes, you have to be careful when covering an infant with a blanket, but PUH-LEEZ). I let her blab for awhile. Then I looked at her with an amused expression and asked her if she was a NICU nurse at the local hosptial. No, she replied, a bit confused, she worked in a different state, why? So I proceeded to politely tell her that if she was from northern Michigan she might recognize me (you know, TV anchor and all) and would know that all four of my newborn daughters had just spent a significant amount of time in the NICU. During that time, I explained, I had many lessons on the special care preemies need and had gone through infant First Aid and CPR training as well. I showed her that Cakes was in fact breathing, picked up the infant carrier and moved to a different seat.
I'm sure some would argue that if you think a child is in danger you should speak up. I don't disagree, but to this day I do not appreciate the way that woman handled the situation. Essentially, she spoke to me like I had no idea what I was doing as a parent. Parenthood isn't easy. It's a lot of learning on the fly. There are dozens of proper ways to do the same thing. I don't have my daughters nap any more. It doesn't work for us. But I don't judge parents of other kids who aren't willing to budge on nap time. I let my daughters watch TV, other parents think TV is corrupting our kids. I could go on and on about the things I do that you may do differently.
I'm curious how many other parents have found themselves on the receiving end of awkward, inappropriate, unsolicited advice.

December 14, 2009

Look Ma! No Tears!

Over the weekend we had the opportunity to go to our local zoo to see the Christmas lights set up throughout the facility. The added bonus? Santa was there. All day long, all four of my daughters kept talking about how excited they were to sit on Santa's lap.
When we got to the zoo, we went searching for the big guy. A moment of panic set in when a zoo volunteer gave me a blank look after I asked him where to find Santa. Fortunately, someone standing nearby knew just where Jolly Old St. Nick was. We arrived at a good time and didn't have to wait too long. Santa's helper was in awe over seeing quadruplets. Sometimes I dread the unwanted attention, but the elf's excitement ensured she would let each girl sit on Santa's lap by themselves, and then regroup for a shot of all four of them. (Did I mention you got to take your own pictures? Yippee!!!) There were other families taking individual pictures of their non-multiple children, so it's not like we broke any rules.
Sue Sue and Roo had a slight disagreement over who would go first. In years past, this argument would have been something along the lines of "no, YOU go first." This year, however, the two of them couldn't wait to climb on Santa's lap and tell him what they wanted for Christmas. Sue Sue went first, smiling in delight the whole time. Then Roo followed, grinning from ear to ear. Then it was Cakes' turn. She looked a little skeptical. She held the elf's hand.... climbed on Santa's lap... and gave a huge smile. Then I looked at Tortilla. She was trying to hide behind the nearest adult. Not good. So I crouched down and quietly asked her if she wanted to talk to Santa. She shook her head no. I asked her if she could just jump on his lap really quick for a picture and told her she didn't actually have to talk to him. She nodded her head. When it was her turn, she shyly took the elf's hand, walked over to Santa, got on his lap and practially buried her head in his beard. He said something to her that I couldn't hear... she smiled and then proceed to tell him what she wanted for Christmas. After she received her candy cane, her sisters joined her for a group picture. Tortilla is the one with the biggest smile in that picture.
It's the first year we've made it through our visit to Santa without a single tear. All four girls keep talking about how much fun it was to see Santa and how nice he was. They keep asking if they can see him again and I've had to gently remind them that other children need their turn to visit with the big guy.

December 11, 2009

Trimming the Tree Preschool Style

I love decorating the Christmas tree. Each ornament brings back great memories. I remember when I was growing up, my sister and I each had certain ornaments that we wanted to put on three tree. Hubby and I both have ornaments for our tree that we've had since birth. Some of our ornaments are family "treasures," passed on from our grandparents to our parents to us.
It's hard to tell four preschoolers that they need to sit still while you tell them about each special ornament. Instead, I showed them their special ornaments, which they thought was really exciting. They each have ornaments with their names, or pictures, or ornaments they made last year in preschool. They had a blast trimming the tree yesterday.
When I was little, the bottom part of the tree was for me. I was allowed to decorate it however I wanted. It may have looked like sheer randomness, but when my grandmother would visit and try to "straighten things out," I immediately knew when something was out of place. So I let my daughters have at it. This is the result.
Sure, there are spots where you can tell the tree was decorated by preschoolers, but that's the beauty of decorating the Christmas tree. A perfectly decorated tree is just no fun.
We actually managed to get through the entire process with only one broken ornament (so far). Believe it or not, the ornament jumped off the tree all by itself. No one was standing near the tree and then I heard a thud, gasps (all of us), and finally shatter. I think in my haste to get the breakables out of reach I made a major mistake. I put some of them up first, rather than last. In all the excitement and jostling the ornament fell off, hit the carpet (where it did not break) and then bounced to the wood floor where it met its inevitable fate.
One broken ornament could not ruin the day, though. The sheer joy and delight in my daughters' eyes when the tree was finished and lit up was priceless. We still have decorations to put up throughout the house and they cannot wait to see what's inside all the boxes and tubs sitting in our dining room.

December 10, 2009

Popular Daddy

With his new work schedule, Hubby had time yesterday to volunteer in our daughters' classroom. You would have thought he was Santa Claus, based on the stories I've heard. Throughout the morning little girls were clamboring to sit on his lap... including our four girls who were slightly miffed that they had to "share" Daddy. Little boys begged him to make Play-doh shapes during indoor recess. One little girl insisted on holding Hubby's hand on the walk to the front of the school for pickup and almost missed her bus because she didn't want to part ways with Hubby and walk with the bus kids.
It would be easy to say these kids are starved for attention or need a good male role model. I don't think that's the case. I've seen lots of dads picking up their kids, attending holiday parties at school, etc. Still, the dads seem to always be considered more fun than the moms. During the Thanksgiving party, one dad was sitting in the book nook reading to his son... suddenly every boy in the class and one of my girls, circled around him to hear the story. There were other parents reading books, but it was the dad who was the most popular.
Hubby is goofy and can be a kid himself at times, which explains why he relates so well to preschoolers. I'm glad he had a good time in school and I know the teacher is looking forward to his return.

December 09, 2009

The Santa Card

I have turned into that parent. You know... the one who uses Santa as a threat. As in: if you don't behave Santa will know.
I didn't want to do it, but I was at my wit's end. Hubby and I think our daughters have realized they outnumber us and are using this fact to their advantage. How else to explain why that "magical switch" everyone told me about didn't get flipped when they turned four? I was promised by numerous people that four would be so much nicer than three. Eh. Not really. They're more defiant. More willing to test boundaries. More likely to make me want to pull my hair out.
So then it happened. The other night Sue Sue was testing my patience and I told her Santa might have to put her on the naughty list. "No!" she wailed. "I want presents." (OK, I might have also mentioned that kids on the naughty list only receive lumps of coal for Christmas). BUT... ever since the threat of being on the naughty list was tossed out there, all four of them have been a little better behaved. Some days. Now what will I use when Christmas is over?

December 08, 2009

The Coveted Gift of the Season Pt. 2

I lamented last week about my stress related to Pillow Pets. My daughters each want one of these stuffed animals that unfolds to be a full-size pillow. My order is "back ordered" and I'm stunned by the number of people who want these things. A search on the Internet yielded numerous sites with parents talking about how desperate they are to get their hands on these things. All of this has given me a new appreciation for my parents and grandparents.
When I was somewhere between the age of three and five I wanted a Whoopsie doll. Maybe it was a regional thing because whenever I talk about this doll people look at me like I'm crazy.
When you squeeze Whoospie's stomach, her little pony tails fly up and she says "whoopsie." But, according to my mom, finding this doll was like trying to find a Cabbage Patch Kid when those first came out. Whoopsie was the hot toy one Christmas, at least for little girls in Ohio. Then one day my grandparents heard on the radio that a toy store about an hour from their house had just received a "Whoopsie shipment." They called the store and begged the workers to put one aside for them. No luck. They jumped in the car and raced to the store. I can just picture my grandfather on his CB talking to the truckers and asking them to alert him about any "Smokies" up ahead. Guess what? Christmas morning Whoopsie and I became fast friends. I still have that doll.
As for the Pillow Pets... I found out cyber friends can be awesome. Stephanie B from Ask Me Anything and Rocket Scientist went to her mall and found the Pillow Pets my girls want. She talked with the kiosk worker and found out I could have all four for $140. Stephanie was willing to buy them and ship them to me. After a long discussion with Hubby and an update from the site where I placed my order, we decided that we'll take a gamble and wait for our original order to arrive. Still, Stephanie deserves a HUGE thank you (THANK YOU!!!!) for her willingness to help. I like to picture her speeding along a crowded highway talking on a CB to truckers about the "Smokies." I'm pretty sure that's not how it happened, but it could make for a good story to tell my daughters one day.

December 07, 2009

Different Ways to Do the Same Things

We have a standard set of rules in our house. No hitting, no biting, no sassing, etc. Still, I think it has to be confusing for our daughters to try and figure out the subtle differences between the way Hubby does things and the way I do things.
It's not that Hubby and I have drastically different ways of doing things, it's just that we prefer different methods when it comes to certain things. For instance, in the mornings Roo is often the first one up. She'll use the bathroom and then look around her room to see if anyone else is awake. If everyone is awake (or if she thinks they should be awake) she'll turn the bedroom light on. I don't have a problem with that, since everyone's going to be up soon anyway. Hubby, however, makes her keep the light off on the mornings he's in charge, so her sisters can savor every millisecond of sleep. I've started trying to do it his way, just so she's a little less confused.
After meals I usually have the girls stand on their chairs so I can wipe off their hands and faces. It's easier on my back. I realize I'll have to stop this practice one day, but for now it works best for me. Hubby does not want them standing on their chairs after meals. I have been told by my daughters "You like us to stand. Daddy doesn't." At least they're figuring it out.
I know we're not alone with this dilemma. Every parent has different styles of doing things. I don't think it's a bad thing. Yes, it can still be confusing at a young age, but it's teaching our girls to adapt to different environments and go with the flow. Either that or I'm just a big pushover.

December 03, 2009

The Coveted Gift of the Season

This is the first year my daughters have a good understanding that Christmas is important. I think for the most part they understand Santa is coming, but I'm trying to teach them about the true meaning of the holiday. Still, they like to discuss what Santa might bring them.
For the first time they have actually requested something from Santa. In years past I would just put ideas in their head. Something along the lines of "Wouldn't it be nice if Santa brought you Tinkerbell pajamas?"
This year, though, they know what they want. Pillow Pets. What is a Pillow Pet, you ask? It looks liked a stuffed animal and unfolds to a full-size pillow.
*DISCLAIMER: I am NOT being compensated by the makers of Pillow Pets to write this post. In fact, the makers of Pillow Pets probably don't know that this blog even exists. My point? I didn't receive any freebies, money, or anything else to talk about how much my girls want Pillow Pets this Christmas.
First I looked up Pillow Pets online. Roughly $20 each when you count shipping costs. Then I emailed the company to see if any stores in my area carry the animals/pillows. I'm still waiting to hear back. Then I emailed someone who loves shopping for my daughters and asked her to be on the lookout for these mysterious creatures. She actually found two: The bumblebee Sue Sue wants and the ladybug Cakes requested. But what if I bought two and never found Tortilla's unicorn or Roo's dog?
After much searching, I realized my best option was to order them online. I waited until "Black Friday," in hopes of finding a good deal. Amazon? Yeah, they're being sold for $150. I am not joking. So back to the official website I went. Sold out until Dec. 1. Then I checked the website shown on the TV commercials. Bingo. Placed my order... and then received a confirmation email telling me I'll receive my four Pillow Pets in two to four weeks. No, I'm not stressed out that they might not arrive in time. The one gift my daughters are convinced Santa will leave under the tree and I'm relying on some corporation to make that wish come true. So if by some miraculous reason someone connected with Pillow Pets is reading this blog (ha ha) then please make sure the order with the unicorn, bumblebee, dog and lady bug is shipped soon.

December 02, 2009

The Bed Time Snack

It was bound to happen. I didn't think Hubby would be the one to do it. However, based on experience, I should have known it was coming.
The other night, while I was at work, Hubby introduced our daughters to the bed time snack. OK, not RIGHT AT bed time, but you know what I mean. He was making Chex Mix (he makes a KILLER Chex Mix) and decided to share its fresh-out-of-the-oven goodness with the girls. They were ecstatic to receive a snack after dinner.
Little do they know, they used to get a night time snack. When they were one and two, about an hour after dinner I would load them up with Kix and other cereal to fill them up and send them to bed full and sleepy. I'm not really sure why the bed time snack disappeared. I think bath time just got in the way and these days we're scrambling to give them dinner, bathe them and get them in bed at a reasonable time.
Then Hubby messed it all up. He essentially told them that it's OK to eat after dinner. Now every night they want a bed time snack.
Yet, who am I to argue? When I was little, my grandma gave me ice cream after dinner, not at dessert time but as a bed time snack. It drove my mom crazy. After having ice cream (we're talking a full-on ice cream cone here, not ice cream in a bowl), I expected ice cream before bed every night! Hubby said his grandma did the same thing. It wasn't always ice cream, but when she babysat him she gave him a snack before bed.
Hubby pointed out that he and I STILL have a snack before bed. Old habits are hard to break. We try not to make it a disgustingly fattening snack, but sometimes that's hard to do. As for our girls, well, last night they each had a slice of cheese. That seemed to appease them. We'll see what happens though when "someone" gives them ice cream before bed time.

December 01, 2009


At age four are my daughters still toddlers? I don't know, but I've dubbed some of the hilarious things they say to me as "Toddlerisms."

Me: Do you remember what the dentist said?
Sue Sue: Don't suck your thumb.
Me: OK, so please stop.
Sue Sue: But then my thumb will be cold.

Cakes: Mommy Mommy! She used the potty. She gets a sticker! (referring to a visitor)
Me: No, honey, she's a grown up. She doesn't get stickers.
Cakes: Oh.... because she pooped and she gets candy instead??

I've been working with Roo on "sm-" words (smell, smoke, smash, etc) because she tends to leave off the "s." We have some flash cards from her speech therapist.
Me: What is this?
Roo: Smile
Me: How about this?
Roo: Smash
Me: This one?
Roo: S..... little
Guess we need to work on "small."

Me: (singing "Jingle Bells") Laughing all the way... ha ha ha
Tortilla: Mommy, we don't say ha ha.
Me: It's part of the song, honey, we're just laughing, not being mean.
Tortilla: Well that's a naughty song.

November 30, 2009

Can This Marriage Be Saved?

I read a recent article in Redbook about the lengths some couples will go to in order to save their marriage. Several couples shared their various problems. One of the couples talked about how the husband's snoring nearly ruined their marriage. The husband snored relentlessly, to the point that the wife, soon after their wedding, moved into the guest room. One night, after tossing and turning, she woke up her husband and threatened to punch him in the stomach if he didn't stop. Folks, I feel her pain.
Hubby snores. I've never thought about punching him in the stomach while he sleeps, but if it stopped his snoring, I might consider it. If I don't fall asleep before he does, then I know I'm in for an interesting night, possibly sleepless night. There have been times I have been startled out of a deep slumber, convinced someone is breaking into the house, only to realize the loud noise is Hubby's snoring.
A few years ago Hubby went to the doctor to discuss allergies and snoring. The doctor prescribed a new allergy medication and advised Hubby to lose weight. The medication didn't work. He's better off with an over-the-counter decongestant. In the last year or so he's dropped 30 pounds (that was his estimate, not mine... I never considered him overweight). If he loses any more weight he's going to look like he has an eating disorder. Still, the snoring continues. He also turns into "mean Hubby" in the initial stages of sleep... so if I dare attempt to rouse him and ask him to roll to his side (less likely to snore that way) then I'm practically daring him to argue with me... arguments he claims he has no knowledge of in the morning.
I know snoring can be signs of serious issues for the snorer. I suppose when we have time he should have some type of sleep evaluation to make sure his snoring isn't the sign of something serious.... until then I'll continue running upstairs the minute we decide to go to bed so I can be the first one in the bathroom and the first one in bed and hope I fall asleep before Hubby starts sawing logs.

November 27, 2009

Black Friday

I try to do my Christmas shopping throughout the year. I look at clearance aisles all year long and hope to find great bargains. Why? Because I can't make myself rise long before the sun to stand in line and run like a madwoman through a store on Black Friday.
When I was younger, my mom, grandma and I would go shopping the day after Thanksgiving, but never right when the store opened. We never had specific items on our list, we just looked at whatever struck our fancy.
These days, due to my part-time retail job, I'm usually one of the harried cashiers trying to move the lines along as fast as I can. Surprisingly, most people who shop today are in a good mood... no matter how early they woke up. Oh, sure, you still have the crankopotamus or two, but in general, most shoppers are happy to be cashing in on good deals.
Now that I'm shopping for four children, though, I'm starting to reconsider my no shopping on Black Friday. Every penny saved helps. So... for those of you who shopped today... delight me with your deals and make me jealous. Was it worth it?

November 25, 2009

Beyond the Turkey

The holidays are interesting this year. Any holiday. This year my daughters really understood Halloween... or at least the concept of knocking on doors and receiving candy. Ever since they day after Halloween they've been asking if it's Thanksgiving.
Since they're gung-ho for Thanksgiving, I've been trying to explain to them that the day is about more than turkey. It's been a difficult thing for them to grasp. We've read books and watched movies (specifically the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving episode, which we have on DVD). I think "thankful" is still a little beyond their grasp.
Last week at preschool their class spent a day making a Thanksgiving feast. The next day was a party for students and parents to eat the food. I spent the morning helping in class and had a chance to find out what my daughters are thankful for. The teacher read a Thanksgiving themed book and then asked each student what they're thankful for. Each of my girls named one of our cats. Not mommy. Not daddy. Not even their toys. Cats. I suppose I should be heartbroken, but it made me laugh and still does. They're thankful they have pets who truly are companions to the girls. They even call the cats their "best friends." I like to think my daughters understand the cats are a part of the family, too. So while we're not quite there yet, in terms of the true purpose of Thanksgiving, we're slowly starting to get there. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

November 24, 2009

A Place for the (Stuffed) Animals

A few months ago, I blogged about all the stuffed animals in my daughters' beds. I accidentally found a solution to keep their beds a little less cluttered.
Now that all four of my daughters are 100% potty trained, it seemed like it was time to take the changing table out of their room. For the last year or so, the changing table has been more of a storage area anyway. Oh, and a nice little climbing toy for them to look out the window.
About a week ago I did my seasonal cleaning out of their closet. During that time Hubby cleaned off the changing table and took it out of their room. In it's place is a Rubbermaid-type "dresser" with four drawers. Each girl has her own drawer. Roo and Tortilla put their cases for their glasses in the drawers. At night we pick out their clothes for the next day and put those in the drawers as well. In the morning they put their pajamas in the drawers.
The first night the dresser was in their room they wanted to fill their drawers to the brim with anything and everything they could find. Tortilla took every stuffed animal and baby doll on her bed and crammed them in her drawer. The other girls followed suit. They refuse to remove the animals at bed time and would now rather keep them in their drawers. It's not the perfect solution to a clean room, but at least they each have more room in their beds now!

November 23, 2009

Money Matters

I try not to talk too much about money in front of my daughters. They're only four, so I don't think they need to know if and when mommy and daddy are concerned about financial issues. Still, it's time for them to understand what money is.
When my daughters were younger, I could take them to the toy aisle of any store and they were content to simply look. Now, they're likely to ask for something. They don't seem too disappointed when I say "no," but they seem a little confused as to why we can't buy it. Here's a recent conversation we had:
Me: (driving to school and then work) "Oh no I forgot my lunch. I'll have to turn around to get it.
SueSue: "There's a McDonald's by your work. You can get food there."
Me: "McDonald's costs money and I don't have any money in my purse right now."
Roo: "Go to Target. You can get free samples there."
Clever little things, huh?
Recently I decided it was time to give my daughters their first lesson in money and saving. We went to the bank, each of them armed with four crisp $1 bills and a savings account deposit ticket. I explained to them that each of them has a savings account and that's how they save money for something special. When they receive money for birthdays, Christmas, etc. they can take their money to the bank and the people at the bank will keep it safe until the girls decide what they would like to buy. They each had fun turning over their money and their deposit slip. When it was all done, the teller gave them each a lollipop. Tortilla looked a little dismayed. I asked her what was wrong. "I didn't want to use my money to buy a lollipop," she said. Well, I guess we still have some learning to do.

November 20, 2009

Why the Double Standard?

When this issue first came to light over the summer, I debated whether I really wanted to open the topic up for debate on my blog. But a new article in a parenting magazine has me ready to start a discussion.
I'm talking about women, specifically moms, who drink. In July, a New York woman died in a crash that also killed four children and three other adults. Apparently the woman was legally drunk and impaired by marijuana. There is no excuse for what she did, no justification. But after this case made the news, suddenly various media outlets pounced on the trend of moms who drink. Moms. Not parents. Moms.
I sat down yesterday to read my latest issue of Parents magazine and found myself staring at an article titled "Playdates with Cocktails." The article highlights women who get together and consume alcoholic beverages while their children play. First of all, who are these moms and where do they live? During the playdates I've attended we barely have time to use the bathroom, let alone toss back a few cold ones. I'm not saying that there aren't moms out there who don't crack open a bottle of wine while they're all hanging out, but I have a hard time believing this happens on a daily basis in every suburb of America.
The thing that bothered me most about this article is that there are pages devoted specifically to women who drink. At the end of the article there is a small blurb about the message dads who binge drink send to their children. The message I'm receiving? It's OK for dads to crack open a beer, or two or more but the second mom does it we need to be outraged. Think about football Sunday. The stereotype is a "family man" blowing off steam with his buddies by sharing a few beers (or in the case of my neighbor, opening up the kegerator to the men in the neighborhood). But if moms take a night to share Cosmos with friends, they should be chastised.
I'm well aware that alcohol abuse is a serious problem. I don't condone drinking and driving. I don't think it's a good idea for parents, well, really anyone for that matter, to drink themselves to oblivion. But I also don't think there's anything wrong with enjoying a glass of wine at the end of a long day or having a cold beer with your dinner, whether you're male or female.
Everything we do as parents influences the decisions our children will make later in life. Whether you binge eat, smoke, swear, speed... and, yes, drink. It is all absorbed by our children.
Clearly I am one of the moms who partakes in a glass of wine on occaision. I drink in moderation and I don't hide it from my daughters. One of them asked me once if she could have a sip of my juice (they drink a lot of white grape juice, I was drinking a Chardonnay). I explained to her that I was drinking wine and wine is for adults. Case closed... for now. Perhaps by not making alcohol taboo, I'll have opened up a better line of communication when I need to start having "those" talks with my girls. So, let the discussion begin....

November 19, 2009

I Could Never Be a Preschool Teacher

This morning I was lucky enough to have time to volunteer at my daughters' preschool. I'm glad I have these chances, because I know there are parents out there who would like to do the same thing, but can't take the time off from work. In the three hours I spent at preschool I came to the conclusion that I could never be a preschool teacher.
In some ways, being a preschool teacher is like being a mom to toddler multiples, but on a much grander scale. At home, when one of my daughters needs to go potty, the other three need to go. This morning, when one preschooler needed to go potty the other 15 needed to go. When one wanted a drink, the other 15 wanted a drink... and so on and so on.
I had the chance to observe the teacher during her lessons. She has the right personality for the job. No matter how many times she was interrupted by a child, she simply stopped what she was doing and answered their questions or commented on their stories. She never raised her voice or lost her cool. She has a five-year-old son, so it's not as though she gets away from "toddlerhood" when the school day is over. Clearly this woman is a saint.
I spent three hours in the classroom. I'm exhausted. Thank goodness my daughters have a teacher who is able to do this day in and day out with a smile on her face!

November 18, 2009

Cold Weather Clothes Blues

I've got the blues... I've got the cold weather clothes blues... Winter makes me crazy on so many levels. I'm not a huge fan of cold weather to begin with. I grew up in the midwest and feel I've already lived through my share of blizzards. The place I live now doesn't have the same snow storms that I grew up with, but we have at least two doozies a season. If it were up to me I would live somewhere tropical... but then I would probably complain about hurricanes, so I guess I can't win.
My biggest challenge as a parent during the winter is clothing. It's cold in the morning, mild in the afternoon... how the heck should I know how to dress my kids? Layers just aren't always practical. I do enough laundry as it is.
Do we wear our light jackets or our heavy duty snow coats? Yes, I check the weather forecast each night, but sometimes the weather changes on a dime here.
But my biggest issue comes with all the stuff we need just to get out the door in the cold weather. I learned the hard way last winter that toddlers are not capable of keeping track of their gloves. After a few days of school, we were missing at least three gloves.... not three pairs, mind you, just three gloves. So, genius that I am, I trekked to Target to buy mitten clips. You would have thought I was speaking French when I asked the employee there to help me find them (because putting them with the kids' gloves would have been too easy). After about 15 minutes we found them... near the hair accessories.
I still haven't figured out how to keep track of our hats. Fortunately, we haven't lost them... yet. Still, many times when I pick my girls up from school I'll find their hats shoved into their backpack or a coat pocket. I'm pretty sure one day soon their cute little purple striped hats will be missing. It comes with the territory of having children, but it's still frustrating.
As for boots... forget it. Quite frankly, I can't afford boots that they're going to wear just a few times. So far we've managed to get by with tennis shoes. I'm looking at the possibility of buying child sized hiking boots for the girls.. and if Kohl's ever sends me another 30% off coupon then I'll buy them.
So, to make a long story short, spring and summer can arrive as soon as they would like. I'm all for seasons that require as little clothing as possible!

November 17, 2009

From Preemie to Mommy of Preemies

Today hundreds of bloggers are writing posts about premature births. Every year 20 million babies are born too soon. Medical advances are giving these babies a fighting chance, but for many of them, prematurity is still a life or death situation. Last week, to promote today's event, I shared some of my story involving the premature births of my four daughters. Today, I'm taking a slightly different angle.
I was born premature. I was approximately four weeks early. I've been told I spent time in an isolette so my lungs could develop properly. I've never had any developmental complications from being premature, so it never really hit me how serious being born early can be.... until I became a mommy of preemies.
When I learned I was pregnant with quadruplets I was immediately informed that I would give birth early. How early? There was no way to tell. The longer my babies could stay in the womb, the better. With a fairly uncomplicated pregnancy (save for 23 weeks of bed rest), a c-section was scheduled for 32 weeks. Then at 28 weeks and 2 days, at around 4 a.m., my water broke. I was in disbelief. It was way too early!
Twenty-eight weeks was a magic number. It was how far along I had to be to deliver my babies at my local hospital, rather than be immediately transferred to a hospital 2 1/2 hours away that had pediatric specialists.
My tour of the NICU did not prepare me for what would happen. It's not easy seeing someone else's baby connected to monitors with oxygen tubes up her nose. It's even harder when this fragile child is your own. It took 24 hours before I could hold one of my daughters. I was able to hold Tortilla on a pillow for about two minutes while her bedding was changed... then it was right back to the safety of her isolette. It would be weeks before we could hold any of our daughters for more than a few minutes.
The other day I dug out some NICU pictures for my daughters to see. I could see in their eyes how troubled they were to look at pictures of tiny babies with tubes coming out of their noses, etc. Then I had to explain to them that they were the babies in the pictures. We spent some time talking about how tiny they were and all the special care they needed. It's a lot for a 4-year-old to grasp.
We have since moved from the area where we lived when my daughters were born. It is my hope that one day we can visit so my daughters can see that area... and so we can show the NICU staff how well these girls have thrived, partly due to the care they received when they were first born.
To learn more about prematurity and what you can do to help, visit the March of Dimes.

November 16, 2009

Homework for Preschoolers

People look at me like I'm nuts when I mention that my daughters have homework assignments in preschool. The comment I hear the most is "Wow. They're really starting them early these days." Some weeks I think the homework is a pain, but all in all, I see the benefits.
My theory is that the homework is really for the parents. The assignment is sent home on Thursday (the last school day of the week) and due on Monday. Most assignments take 15 minutes or less (yes, per child, so there are definitely times I spend an hour helping all four girls with their homework. Still, I'll be wishing for these days when they tackle trig and calculus in high school). The homework reinforces what they've learned in school and really gives me insight into who is progressing and who needs a little nudging.
For instance, at our last parent-teacher conference the teacher and I discussed Tortilla's counting skills. She was struggling with certain numbers. Yet when I sat down to help her with her homework yesterday she correctly counted each farm animal on her worksheet. It was exciting to see how much better she's doing.
Having parents sit down with their children once a week to see what they're doing in school isn't a bad thing. Homework, even at the preschool level, really forces you to have an active role in your child's education. For now, my daughters enjoy doing homework and actually argue over who is going to do their homework first. (Right now I work with them one on one. It's less chaotic that way). By sending home assignments that need parental supervision, my daughters see that Hubby and I value their education and want them to succeed. (Again, when they're in high school and this non-math whiz has to muddle through trig with them, remind me that I once said homework is a good thing!)

November 12, 2009

What is Up With Clothes for Kids?

Some days I feel buried in laundry, hence the title of this blog. The clothes my daughters generate in two days is the equivalent of what one child wears in a week. In order to keep the hamper from overflowing I do my daughters' laundry three or four times a week. I have come to the conclusion that the people designing childrens' clothing do not have children.
I expect to have to hand wash holiday dresses. They are frilly. They are delicate. They are everything a holiday dress should be. I do not, however, think many other clothes for children should require you to do anything other than throw them in the washer and dryer.
My daughters have a beautiful sweater that I rarely allow them to wear. Why? It needs to hand washed and line dried. Way too much work for a child's garment. I rarely wear any of my clothing that needs hand washed or dry cleaned, so I certainly don't have time to do it for them.
My daughters have a really cute pair of Disney Princess denim capris that require extra attention, too. Due to a design on the outside, the capris need to be turned inside out to wash and dry. This I am willing to do... thank goodness I actually read the label before I washed them. I've started turning all jeans and shirts with designs inside out before even putting them in the hamper.
The next time you are at a department store, take a stroll through the toddler section and look at the jeans. So many of them are made with thin denim. I send my daughters to preschool in jeans on a daily basis. I need jeans that can handle some wear and tear, especially in the knees, since that's the first area to end up with holes. Plus, so few pants for toddlers come with elastic or adjustable waists. Isn't the toddler age the time when most kids are being potty-trained? They need pants that are easy to pull down and pull back up (yes, I stole that train of thought from Laura C!)
My point? There is a time and a place for beautiful, delicate clothing. I will handle those garments with extreme care and do my best not to ruin them in the wash. But kids need to be kids... and for the majority of them that means having clothes that can take a beating without getting beat up in the laundry.

November 11, 2009

Handle With Care

When I found out I was pregnant with quadruplets, my life became defined by numbers.... weeks to be exact. I knew I would be delivering my babies early... but how early was the question.
Twenty-eight weeks and two days. Those two days are important. It's two days longer that my daughters had time to grow before coming into the world. Rarely will you meet a parent of preemies who doesn't talk about the birth in terms of weeks and days. Some of them can tell you the hours involved, too.
To see pictures of preemies is deceiving. Pictures did not capture the terror of having four babies weighing between 1 1/2 pounds and 2 pounds 4 ounces. In pictures my daughters looked delicate, but not that small. To give people an idea of the challenges we faced, Hubby sent this picture to friends and family:

That is a picture of Cakes' foot and Hubby's wedding band. He has average sized hands. (The blue tint is because all the girls were under Bilirubin lights for jaundice.) After seeing that picture people finally understood our fears.
With preemies, everything becomes a milestone... the first time you can hold your baby (it was about two weeks before we got to do more than transfer them from their isolette to the scale), the first time she poops, the first time she opens her eyes. I have pages upon pages documenting each of these "firsts," and plenty of pictures to go with them.
I consider us very blessed in our lack of "preemie problems." Sue Sue was born with an open heart ductus, but it closed without surgery. Each of the girls had Retinopathy of Prematurity, but, again, no need for surgery. Sue Sue had feeding issues and was eventually transferred to a children's hospital 2 1/2 hours away from us (an excrutiating and exhausting week, I might add). She finally came home with a feeding tube, which lasted for about a week. On Christmas Day she pulled the tube out, so, out of frustration, I gave her a bottle. which she drained. No more feeding issues!
Even now, at age 4, the issue of prematurity still comes up. For instance, next year my daughters miss the kindergarten cut-off by three days. So many parents have rolled their eyes and told me to appeal and start them in kindergarten. Yet, if they had been born "on time" (December) this wouldn't be an issue. At this point, I'm leaning toward another year of preschool. I would rather have four smart cookies who enjoy school than four girls struggling through school because I pushed them to start early, even if it's just a matter of days.
November is Prematurity Awareness Month. On Nov. 17, bloggers will unite to raise awareness about the crisis of premature births. I know why my daughters were born early, but I am forever thankful for the advances made by the March of Dimes and other organizations which have helped my daughters grow and thrive. If you want to share your own story or get involved in the effort to raise awarness, you can visit Bloggers Unite.

November 10, 2009

Learning to Pick My Battles

While I have a fairly strict schedule with my daughters, I learned early on that I need to be flexible. Being a sane parent means knowing which battles are worth fighting. I could run myself ragged if I tried to maintain control over everything my daughters do.
This morning is a good example of a battle not worth fighting. When it was time to go to preschool, everyone came into the mud room/laundry room. I started helping each of them put their coats on. Sue Sue didn't want any help and ended up with her coat on backwards. I tried to fix her coat and she resisted. After I had everyone in a coat I told Sue Sue to look at me and listen carefully. Once I had her attention I explained to her that if she wanted to fix her coat it needed to be done now.... if she walked out the door with her coat on backwards it would stay on backwards. I also told her that I would not help her fix it once we arrived at school. In other words, even if the other kids questioned why her coat was on backwards, it was going to stay that way. She said she wanted it on backwards, so off we went. (Keep in mind I had to hide my giggles throughout this entire process). We arrived at school and I discreetly informed the teacher that Sue Sue would need help removing her coat in the classroom. (Of course I zipped it... backwards or not I needed it to stay on). My theory in all of this: at least she agreed to wear a coat today... yesterday she didn't want the coat at all.
Part of me worried about what would happen when the other kids saw Sue Sue with her coat on the wrong way. Most of them didn't seem to notice, at least not while I was there. If they giggled later on, well, I'm confident Sue Sue would giggle right along with them. She knows it was silly and she wants to test boundaries. I figure if I can let her test those boundaries now, then maybe I'll be a little better prepared to figure out which battles are worth fighting when they're teenagers.

November 09, 2009

Musical Chairs

As soon as Hubby and I found out I was pregnant with quadruplets, we knew we would need a larger vehicle. At the time, Hubby drove a Chevy Blazer and I drove a Honda CRV... neither of them is large enough to handle four car seats. We upgraded to a Chevy Suburban, which has been wonderful.
The middle row has a seat which slides forward to access the third row. Hubby took that seat out so we weren't trying to hop over that seat to put infant carriers in the last row. From the moment all the girls came home from the hospital they had "assigned" seats. It wasn't really a plan, but it just worked out that Cakes always sat in the third row on the driver's side. That's the hardest seat to access and she was the smallest and lightest. It made sense that we would lift her infant carrier there so we weren't killing our backs. The next lightest was Tortilla, so she occupied the seat next to Cakes. Roo and Sue Sue always sat in the middle row.
They never questioned this routine... until they could get in the car themselves. We all walk out to the Suburban and suddenly everyone is elbowing each other out of the way to be the first one in the car and the first one to pick her seat. There is no rhyme or reason as to who sits where. Some days everyone wants the back row, other days they all want the middle row. Today Tortilla was angry that Roo and Cakes claimed the third row seats on the way to school. It didn't appease her when I told everyone that Sue Sue and Tortilla will be sitting in the back row on the way home.
I'm trying to come up with a better system, so they know ahead of time who will be sitting where. Although I guess it doesn't really matter what system I come up with... they seem to have a system all their own.

November 05, 2009

Tinkering With the Schedule

For the last few months, I have had a finely tuned schedule. It took planning and practice, but I finally figured out exactly what time we need to wake up during the week to get my daughters to preschool. I determined which days laundry needs to be done, including the dreaded "family laundry day," which typically starts at 7 a.m. and rarely ends before 5 p.m. Now, Hubby has gone and messed it all up.
You see, ever since January we've been in a financial strain. Like many families out there, the economy has taken a toll on Hubby's employer, and, thus, on us. Since the beginning of the year, we've weathered 10 furloughs and a mandatory pay cut. Then, just a few months ago, Hubby's company informed him that his department was being "hubbed." The simplest explanation is that Hubby's company has offices around the country. His department is now being consolidated to one centralized location. Lucky for us the location happens to be Hubby's home-base... but Hubby has to reapply for his job. He has been looking for a new job all year and, finally, FINALLY, the search paid off. Hubby found a new job and starts in less than two weeks... and in less than two weeks my carefully synchronized schedule goes kaput.
My days at my part-time job will change, including working until closing on Saturdays (by 8 p.m. I'm ready to crash, so we'll see how this works out). My laundry days will change. My grocery day will change. But I see a big pro... Hubby will now have to take a bigger role in this new schedule, including bath nights, school drop off and pick up, etc. (Yes, he definitely pulls his weight around here already, but I like to tease him about how much more he'll have to do!) I guess I'll be nice and still save "family laundry day" for one of my days.
Yes, I know how fortunate Hubby is to have a job... and how lucky he was to be able to jump ship in this uncertain economy. In all seriousness, I consider this the light at the end of the tunnel. The hits we've taken through Hubby's current job have hurt. We've endured and perhaps we're stronger for it. But now we're ready to start climbing back and have some breathing room... even if it means messing with my schedule.

November 04, 2009

The Winner Is...

The winner of the Skin MD Natural giveaway is:
#1 Stephanie B

Congratulations, Stephanie!!! Still interested in trying Skin MD Natural? Click here to find out about free samples.

Whistler's Mom

Every parent can come up with a few milestones that they wonder why they celebrated. I remember when the Early Intervention people came to our house and taught my daughters how to climb on the couch. My daughters were delighted. The EI specialists were delighted to see how quickly the girls picked up on this activity. I was not that happy. I knew what was coming. From that point on, my daughters were no longer content to be on the floor. Every waking minute needed to be spent on the couch. Unfortunately, they didn't understand the laws of gravity and often came tumbling onto the floor. Many days Hubby and I would simply take the cushions off the couch, or position them so our little monkeys couldn't climb aboard.
The latest milestone that's driving me crazy? Whistling. For the longest time, whenever my daughters would call one of our cats they would shout his name and then make a high-pitched "hoo hoo" sound. What in the world? It took me awhile to realize they thought they were whistling. Thinking it would be less annoying to hear actual whistling I set out to teach them how to whistle. Big mistake.
In the beginning they would pucker up and say "hoo hoo." Then I showed them how to pucker and blow, yet they insisted on just doing the "hoo hoo" noise. And then... Sue Sue figured out how to whistle. Now that's all she does. She whistles at the breakfast table. She whistles in the car on the way to school. She whistles on the way upstairs to get ready for bed. She whistles in bed as soon as she wakes up. Cakes is picking up on whistling, too. She blows out... no noise. She sucks in... a whistle. So from her I hear "woosh... whistle." Tortilla and Roo don't want to be left out so they still do the "hoo hoo" thing. I've decided that the next thing I teach them will be the "who can be quiet the longest?" game!
(Today is your last chance to enter the Skin MD Natural giveaway. I'll be announcing the winner tonight.)

November 03, 2009

Daylight Savings Time... Or Why I Can't Sleep In

I understand the concept of Daylight Savings Time (DST). Still, I have to wonder if those who implemented DST had young children. The beginning and end of DST play major havoc with my schedule.
Saturday night Hubby and I kept our girls up a little later than usual... mainly because I was trying to clean up Tortilla after her latest barfing incident. I figured this would buy us some extra sleep, or at least make up for the extra hour. Yet at the crack of dawn Roo was up using the bathroom and asking if she could get up. Even the dark curtains in their room can't fool Roo into thinking she should still be sleeping. (Keep in mind this is the same girl who went to the bathroom at 9 p.m. and asked me if it was "wake up time.") Yesterday? Same story. This morning. Yep... up at least a half hour before she needed to wake up for school. I made her come in to my room and lay down so she wouldn't wake up her sisters. This, of course, simply made her sisters wander the hallway looking for her. Then, instead of getting ready for school, everyone wanted to climb in my bed to "rest." I can't win.
At this point it's not even a matter of sleeping in. I simply don't want to be up at 6 a.m. if we don't need to be. Growing up I loved "falling back" and having that extra hour of sleep on Sunday. Clearly someone needs to explain this to my daughters.
The good news? It is pitch black in their room by bedtime. They are out like a light. I guess I need to learn to find the positive in a sleepless situation.
(By the way, time is running out to enter the Skin MD Natural giveaway).

November 02, 2009

Party 'Til You Puke

Growing up I seemed to have the misfortune of being sick on holidays. In third grade I missed trick or treating because I was sick... and a few days later even ended up hospitalized due to dehydration. I remember being ill on Thanksgiving one year and sick with a fever one Easter. My senior year of high school I became ill on Christmas and wound up hospitalized that New Year's Eve with a kidney stone. Even last Christmas I was fighting some version of Sue Sue's croup and could barely talk. So it should come as no surprised to me that my daughters are destined to repeat my misery.
Minutes before we left the house to go to my in-laws on Halloween, Tortilla vomited everywhere, including on part of her costume. I cleaned her up and debated skipping the festivities. The poor thing was devastated. She insisted she was OK and could go trick or treating. So I caved and we left. She was fine in the car, but threw up when we reached our destination... still insisting she could handle trick or treating. She rested for a bit and was ready to go. All four girls ran from house to house, filling their buckets to the brim with candy. Then on the way home... well, by now you can imagine what Tortilla did.
It doesn't stop there. That night... it was my turn. In the morning... Cakes. At dinner... Sue Sue. Let's just say Hubby was going out of his mind trying to take care of everyone.
Today seems to be a better day. So far... knock on wood... everyone has kept down her breakfast. Due to snow days last week, the preschool Halloween party was postponed until today. I decided to keep everyone home... just in case. Let's hope the holidays for the rest of the year are little less eventful!
(Don't forget: you still have time to enter the Skin MD Natural giveaway!)

October 29, 2009

Skin MD Natural: Review and Giveaway

I am constantly washing my hands. When my daughters were born I became a hand sanitizer fan, which helped keep my hands from becoming too dry. Still, there are many times when only soap and water will work. For example, when I'm cleaning up after the girls use the bathroom. Also when I'm at my part-time retail job I handle a lot money. The only thing that's going to get my hands clean is soap and water. Now that winter is approaching I'm doomed to have dry, chapped hands. Or am I?
Recently 21st Century Formulations asked me to try Skin MD Natural. Unlike typical moisturizers, this is a shielding lotion. Basically as Skin MD Natural is absorbed into your skin, it turns the top layer into a hydrating, invisible shield. The goal is to coax your skin to moisturize itself.
When my complimentary bottle arrived I was a tad skeptical. A four-ounce bottle is a "full size bottle?" Believe it or not, a little bit goes a long way. When used correctly, this bottle should last 1-2 months. Considering how fast I go through some of my other lotions, I would say this is a steal.
I've used just a small amount for the last three days and I'm already noticing a difference. My hands don't feel dry. I had some dry patches on my knuckles when I started using the product. They immediately cleared up. When I wash my hands I notice a difference. Skin MD Natural doesn't slide off my skin they way some traditional lotions do. My hands still feel soft after a washing. Testimonials credit this product for helping with eczema, psoriasis and other skin ailments. According to 21st Century Formulations, some parents are using the lotion as a true "shield" for their child's hands to protect them from the various chemicals and irritants our hands encounter on a regular basis. But it's not just for hands. Skin MD Natural can also be used on your face or body.
Some added bonuses: There is also a Skin MD Natural with sunscreen. Plus, the products are not tested on animals and are dermatology tested, hypoallergenic, fragrance free and colorant free.
Here's the fun part. One lucky Buried in Laundry reader will win a bottle of Skin MD Natural. For your chance to win, simply leave a comment telling me your dry skin woes. You MUST include a valid email address in any comments you leave.
For additional entries: (leave a separate comment for each entry)
  • Become a follower of Buried in Laundry or let me know if you already follow
  • Blog about this contest and include a link back to this post and a link to Skin MD Natural
This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada addresses only. You have until 6 p.m. MST Wednesday Nov. 4, 2009 to enter. (That's my birthday and I think it would be fun to give something away on my birthday). The winner will be chosen by and will have 72 hours to claim the prize before a new winner is drawn.

October 28, 2009

Snow Day

Until this morning I was truly convinced that our school district never closes school due to inclement weather. School was not canceled last year when I watched two cars spin out in front of me on a particularly icy morning. School was not canceled last year when it was -12. I'm not joking about the temperature. By the time I picked my daughters up it had "warmed up" to a whopping -2.
Last night all the TV forecasters cautioned that a snowstorm was coming. When I woke up this morning there was some snow on the ground, but nothing we haven't seen before.

I almost didn't check the TV before rousing my daughters. Then I realized if I didn't check for a cancellation, school would be closed and we would have missed an opportunity for a lazy morning. Sure enough, no school. I managed to keep everyone in bed for another hour.
As a child, I hated snow days. I loved school. As a teenager I loved snow days and the chance to stay in bed as long as I wanted. My daughters were so disappointed to find out they're not going to school today... especially since today I was supposed to volunteer in their classroom. We spent all day yesterday talking about how much fun it would be to have mommy at school. Another day I guess.
To make up for their disappointment we'll be baking cookies this afternoon. The way it looks outside, I feel as though we should be making Christmas cookies instead of Halloween-themed cookies!

October 27, 2009

Can TV Make Your Child Smarter?

I have previously confessed that I (gasp) let my children watch television. I never set out to not allow TV in our house, but I do try to limit how much time they spend in front of the TV. Still, we have those days when the TV is on for prolonged periods of time. This afternoon will be one of those days. Yesterday all four girls needed five vaccinations apiece at their well child check up. After preschool today I am going to let them crash on the couch for the rest of the day.
Interestingly enough, there's a big buzz la
tely about Baby Einstein DVDs. Basically, in 2006 a consumer group asked the FTC to investigate whether the makers of the DVDs practiced deceptive advertising by marketing the DVDs as educational for children under the age of two. Recently, the company announced that anyone who purchased a Baby Einstein DVD between June 5, 2004 and September 4, 2009 can send the disc back for various exchanges, including a $15.99 refund. (Click here for full details). For the record, the General Manager of Baby Einstein says this is all simply an extension of a satisfaction program already in place.
Did I buy some of the DVDs in question? Sure. I think a lot of parents jumped on the Baby Einstein bandwagon. DVDs to make my children smarter? I'm all over that. But I have a hard time actually saying I bought the DVDs because I thought they would turn my children in to geniuses. My daughters enjoyed the music and the hand puppets. Do I think they learned something from the DVDs? Yes, to an extent. In truth, the DVDs simply reinforced things Hubby and I had already been teaching our daughters (animals, colors, etc).
I will never say TV is "evil." It has benefits. Of course, I can say that because we don't have cable so our TV viewing is relegated to PBS and DVDs of my choosing. I grew up on Sesame Street and appreciate the fact that my daughters enjoy the show, too. They count with Count and sing with Elmo, but even then I don't rely on PBS to tell me what my children should watch. There is an episode of Arthur which centers on one of the characters learning a swear word. Sure, the word is bleeped out, but the whole concept of that episode bothers me. I turn the show off every time that episode airs.
I have no problem with parents who do not allow their children to watch TV ever. We're all entitled to our own parenting styles. I just don't know if blaming a company because our children aren't geniuses is the right route to take.

October 26, 2009

Oh What a Tangled Web

I am not ashamed to admit that I am afraid of spiders. I can't stand them. Little bitty spiders are OK, but anything bigger than a penny terrifies me. When we lived in northern Michigan I nearly had panic attacks at the size of spiders I saw there. Their bodies alone were the size of a small child's fist. I'm creeping myself out just thinking about them.
I have tried very hard to keep this fear from my daughters. When I see a large spider I hold in my urge to scream. I've actually managed to take care of a few spiders that had the misfortune of coming into my home. If the spider is too big for my liking then I simply tell my daughters we'll wait for Hubby to come home and take care of it.
Unfortunately over the weekend I lost all sense of control. While I was at work Hubby and the girls went to a get-together at our neighbor's house. They had a grand time playing with all the Halloween decorations, including tarantula-sized plastic spiders. When I came home from work I saw one of the spiders. No big deal... it's just pretend. Then Cakes wanted to show me the spider. She brought it to me and I screamed. I couldn't help it. Even though I knew it was fake, something deep inside me just couldn't accept the fact that it wasn't real. Poor Cakes. I really hurt her feelings. She was so sad that I wasn't amused by the spider. Tortilla kept saying "it's just pretend, mommy." Hubby didn't help matters by laughing at me the entire time.
Hubby and I managed to divert their attention with a different Halloween toy... and I made Hubby collect the fake spiders and return them to the neighbor. I'm dreading what is going to happen the next time my daughters see a real spider. I should probably be prepared for lots of screaming. From me? From them? Your guess is as good as mine.

October 22, 2009

Private Parts

I knew eventually this day would come. Still, I was not prepared for the conversation I had yesterday with one of my daughters.
Cakes: Julius pees out of his belly button.
Me (distracted): No, honey, no one pees out of their belly button.
Cakes: Yes, Julius does.
Me (starting to pay attention): No, no he doesn't.
Cakes (indignant): Yes, he does. Like this...
At this point I turn to look at her. My eyes slowly widen and, based on her pantomimes, I realized why she thinks a little boy at preschool pees out of his belly button. (Try simulating the act of a male urinating. Her hands were somewhere around the button of her pants and her belly button). Here's what raced through my head:
Don't panic. Don't panic. She's four. You can do this. Oh crap I'm hyperventilating. Breathe...
I have always been pretty straightforward with my daughters when it comes to body parts. I never set out to be that way, but it's a lot easier to use proper terms than to try to remember what slang was used in previous conversations. So I took a deep breath and calmly explained that boys and girls have different private parts. After learning that Julius does not pee out of his belly button she seemed a lot less interested in the conversation.
Upon hearing about this conversation, Hubby's first question was "why would she know how Julius goes to the bathroom?" Well, I've come up with two probable explanations. In our house when one girl needs to go the bathroom, the other three suddenly need to use the facilities, too. I can only imagine what happens in a class of 16. At some point someone is going to open the door while another student is using the bathroom. My other thought is that during play time Julius may have simulated going to the bathroom (maybe they were playing house, who knows?) and it appeared that he had his hands near his belly button. All I know is that I made it through the conversation/explanation without passing out... and surely that has to count for something. Unfortunately, only Cakes was part of this conversation, so apparently I'm going to have to repeat it three more times.

October 21, 2009

The Winner Is...

The Winner of the Name Your Tune CD giveaway is...
#2 MaryAnne
Congratulations, MaryAnne!
Thank you for all who entered. Don't forget, Name Your Tune is offering Buried in Laundry readers $5 off a personalized CD order. Simply use coupon code BIL at checkout.

Back in the Summer of '91

Over the weekend I was looking for a picture. What I stumbled upon was unexpected and brought back so many memories. I found an album full of pictures from Chief Logan Reservation. In the summer of 1991, my friend Sarah and I took jobs as the kitchen staff ("Dining Hall Assistants," if you please) at a Boy Scout Camp. Did I mention we were just 16 and it was an overnight camp? Full of Boy Scouts? It was one of the best summers of my teenage years... and not for the reasons you may think.
I still remember the drives to and from camp. We went home every other weekend... or maybe it was every weekend. We would throw our bags into my parents 1974-ish Ford LTD, pop in the Grateful Dead and be on our way. Every time I hear "Uncle John's Band" I think about cruising along a sparsely populated highway in the heart of southern Ohio.
If you're waiting for stories full of teen sex, underage drinking and other escapades, I'm sorry to disappoint you. Yes, we were the only teen girls in the camp (there were a few other females but they were all "of age"), but things were a lot more innocent than you would expect. For one whole summer I had a chance to learn some valuable lessons.
For the first few days I made sure I was up early, showered, hair in place, maybe even a little makeup. A few days of getting up way too early convinced me that you couldn't pay me to be up before Keith A. Hall started his morning wake up announcement. He would play a cassette recording of Reveille and Sarah and I would throw on our clothes, slap our hair into ponytails and dash from our platform tent across a field to the Dining Hall to help prepare breakfast for starving teen boys.
Yes, I said platform tent. I may come across as pretty high maintenance these days, but I like to think that summer I proved I can "rough it." Our tent sat next to the Ad Building, essentially on a main path that every Boy Scout and their leaders had to trek along each day.
The area was roped off and I can't even imagine what would have happened to any male foolish enough to cross those barriers. Back then I thought our tent was put there because a) the Ad Building was the place where Sarah and I showered and b) it kept us as as far away as reasonably possible from the Boy Scouts' tents. I now think it was placed there to keep us in plain view of pretty much everyone so they could keep an eye on us. (Years later Sarah and I heard stories about how some of the staff apparently sat on the Ad Building porch at night hoping to see our shadows as we changed for the night. Thanks a lot for cluing us in, guys!)
But, I digress. So, we lived in a platform tent for the summer. It was hot. It was cramped. Daddy Long Legs crawled all over the place. For a few days I screeched at the sight of a Daddy Long Leg, begging the male staff to come get rid of them. Then I realized what a waste of time it was to go get a boy to remove the spiders when I could easily do it myself. To this day I am deathly afraid of all spiders, but show me a Daddy Long Leg and I could care less. That tent may have been primitive, but it was home. When the camp celebrated Christmas in July, Sarah and I decorated the outside of our tent with wreaths and other festive items.
I think of that summer as the summer I perfected the art of flirting. I have never been the girl who has boys drooling all over her, but that summer Sarah and I could have had our pick of pretty much any boy we wanted to date. I'm not being arrogant. Let's face it... throw two 16-year-olds at a bunch of hormonal teenage boys and a few of them are going to want to date you. But I was too innocent, too young and really way too ditzy to have had any type of meaningful relationship. Correction for you CLR Alumni reading this post: I was not ditzy, just really bubbly (thought you'd like that!)
I learned some interesting lessons that summer.
  • I can be friends with boys. Period. I laughed with them. I cried and witnessed some of them cry at certain events (the end of sessions, the end of camp). The ones I grew truly close to treated me like an equal and could have cared less that I was a (gasp) girl! Though I've lost touch with some of the staff members who I was closest to that summer, we've slowly started reconnecting. Thank goodness for Facebook.
  • Ralph Harvey is the coolest Hairy Chested Man I know (weren't you officially called Mountain Men?) He landed us those jobs and never once rolled his eyes at our ditziness/bubbliness... at least not to our faces. I've known Ralph since elementary school, but never realized until that summer just how cool he was. Little boys at camp wanted to be him. With his long hair, enthusiasm for Scouting and kind soul, who could blame them?
  • Andy McGinn looks awesome as a woman. As part of the weekly "Ugly Man" contest, Andy agreed to let us put make up on him if he won. He looked fantastic, if I do say so myself.
  • Scouting is more than camping and building fires. That summer I had a chance to witness various rituals and ceremonies, such as The Order of the Arrow induction. Later, a scout invited us to his Eagle Scout Ceremony. (Thanks, Mike. It was an honor to be there!) Sadly, I still haven't figured out what happens when the Mountain Men go up in the mountains for the night... but I know they delighted in returning the next morning and yelling around the flagpole. (I still think they were louder than ever that summer just to interrupt my last precious minutes of sleep).
  • Dreama's ice cream pie should not be eaten on a daily basis... unless you want to return home 10 pounds heavier at the end of the summer. Trust me on this one.
  • Being outdoors is awesome. No, I'm not a diehard camper, but I wish I were. I can't tell you how peaceful it is to find a quiet spot surrounded by pine trees and do nothing but think. I still can't wait until Hubby and I have the time (and energy) to take our daughters camping.
  • They Might Be Giants is by far one of the most underrated bands ever. Particle Man drew me in and Istanbul (Not Constantinople) helped me out in World History.
  • I can Swamp Stomp with the best of them. What's a Swamp Stomp? Exactly what it sounds like. You stomp through a swamp up to your eyeballs. I was covered in disgusting filth. It was fun to purposely become dirtier than you've ever imagined.
  • No matter how progressive an organization may seem, there will always be those who will discriminate against you. I actually had scout leaders, grown men, approach me and tell me that I should "stay in the kitchen" and not be allowed any where else on camp grounds. Classy. Of course, there were other grown men who could only look at my chest when they spoke to me. Creepy. But there will always be more members of said organization who readily accept you and embrace your presence.
Unfortunately, that summer had some ugly moments, too. A Scout Leader had a heart attack and died. I still remember the look of terror on Justin K.'s face as he came tearing into the back room of the Dining Hall to call 911. I remember how Maaike, who performed CPR on him, was a shaken for the rest of the day. Also that summer a staff member went on a "Power" trip and was fired. I don't remember all the details and it happened while the rest of the staff was enjoying a weekend off... but I do remember it made for some great stories and speculation.
Ugliness aside, it was a magical summer. So many memories... so little space write them all down. The following year, Sarah and I took jobs at a 4-H camp. After that we worked at a YMCA camp. For me, none of those summers matched the energy, fun and friendship of Chief Logan.
The other day in an email Sarah asked me what our parents were thinking by letting us spend the summer surrounded by teenage boys and, essentially, no chaperones. I have no idea. I like to think they trusted us to make good decisions. I can't imagine they ever truly appreciated the lessons we learned that summer. Sarah asked me if I could imagine ever letting my daughters work at a Boy Scout camp. My initial reaction?? Hell no! I would never let my little girls do that. But as I wrap up this post, I'm starting to wonder: why not? If they were surrounded by the boys and young men I encountered in the summer of 1991 then I know they would have the time of their lives and learn some valuable life lessons along the way.
In closing, I'll leave you with the most important lesson I learned that summer: A lifetime's not too long to live as friends.

The Deadline is Approaching

Reminder: The deadline to enter the Name Your Tune CD giveaway is tonight at 6pm MST.

October 20, 2009

That's Mine Pt. 2

My sister and I are eight years apart. This means she received a lot of my hand me downs. At first it was fun seeing baby Jenna use the same coveted blankie I used as a little girl. Then she chewed it to pieces and I was a little miffed. That used to be my blankie. You think she could take better care of it. One Christmas I remember helping my mom clean up some of my old dolls that had been packed away. The brunette was "Molly." I can't remember what I called the blonde one. I was delighted that my sister would be playing with them... until she renamed them "Packie" (we think she was trying to say Cabbage Patch Kid) and "Palmer." Ummm, yeah, that's not their names. I soon decided to go through my boxes of old toys and set aside the things I just couldn't part with. I still have that box and have slowly started letting my daughters play with those toys.
My girls are never going to be in a position to give one another hand me downs, but they certainly have to learn the art of sharing. It has been a really difficult concept to explain in recent months. They are comprehending "mine" and "yours." There are certain things I never make them share: blankies, a special toy... But when it comes to birthdays and Christmas I'm starting to find myself in a real pinch.
Take their recent birthday, for example. When my dad and stepmom were visiting we had an early celebration. Grandma presented each girl with a big pink storage container full of clothes and other goodies. Since each of my daughters received a container, they logically presumed whatever was in that container was hers and hers alone. I have spent countless mornings consoling sobbing girls who can't understand why someone else is wearing "her" shirt. In the basket Cakes dug into, there was a pair of Disney Princess shoes. She insists they are her shoes... although she is starting to warm up to the idea of occaisionally sharing the shoes with her sisters.
Last Christmas Kohl's had a line of Curious George books and toys. I was so excited that there were four different stuffed animals. Now I'm constantly trying to remember who "picked" which animal Christmas morning so I can avoid arguments.
Hubby came up with an interesting solution. Before Christmas he wants to take each of the girls to a toy store and let them roam the aisles with us one on one. This will give us an idea of who enjoys what toy... and come Christmas morning could give each of them a real sense of "ownership."
All in all my daughters are very good about sharing. Just last week I took Sue Sue to a physical therapy appointment. When I picked up Roo, Cakes and Tortilla from our drop-in day care they came out with a snack. As soon as Roo saw Sue Sue did not have a snack she generously handed over some apple slices... without me asking! They're catching on to what it means to share... but some days they really just need to know something belongs solely to them.
(Don't forget, the deadline to enter the Name Your Tune CD giveaway is approaching!)