August 31, 2009

The Surreal Life

Every now and then I have moments where I am hit with the realization that I am indeed a mother. It happens at the strangest times. The day after giving birth to my daughters I had to call to add them to our health insurance. It was a really strange thing to say "my daughters." The first time I heard myself called "Sue-Sue's mom" I didn't realize at first that I was the one they were referring to. This past January when we experienced what I now refer to as Barfbash '09 I was hit with the realization that I am the mommy and I have to pull myself out of bed in the middle of the night to do laundry and clean up vomit.
Last week I had another one of those moments. I had a concern about how something was being handled at school. After talking with the teacher (who gave me her full support but was at a loss for solutions) she suggested I call the principal. I don't know why, but it was a bizarre experience for me. Not only did I call the principal, but he listened to my concerns and came up with a remedy almost immediately. Then the next day during the school drop-off he came to talk with me and follow up on our phone conversation. The entire time he was talking to me all I could think was "Wow. I really am a parent! I'm talking to the principal and he's treating me like an adult."
All joking aside, yes, I do know on a daily basis that I am a mom. Still, every now and then I find myself in situations where it hits me like a ton of bricks... and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

August 28, 2009

I'm Still Here

No, I haven't disappeared. I'm still here, but I have family visiting. I'll be back to posting on Monday. Have a great weekend.

August 26, 2009

The Trouble With the Chore Chart

This week I finally implemented our chore chart. I decided to incorporate the beginning of chores with the beginning of school. If my daughters are expected to clean up at preschool, then surely they should be expected to clean up at home.
There are three chores they must complete each day: make their beds, pick up their toys and put their clothes in the hamper. With the completion of each task a sticker is placed on the chart. Certain spaces on the chart have a star. When a sticker covers the star they get to pick a prize.
Typically they'll be picking a prize once a week. In order to have them grasp the concept, their first "prize spot" came on the second day of the chore chart. I had already shown them the prizes they could pick so they were very excited to dig into the prize bag.
Ever since seeing the prizes Tortilla talked nonstop about the Hello Kitty hair clips in the bag. She couldn't wait to pick them. Cakes insisted she wanted a rainbow head band. Then the big day came. Roo picked first. She chose a blue Iron Man frisbee. Then Tortilla picked. I mentioned the hair clips, but she was adamant about picking an orange Iron Man frisbee. Cakes picked the rainbow head band. Sue Sue chose an Elmo book. Hubby, Roo and Tortilla had fun playing with the frisbees, but ten minutes later Tortilla decided she didn't like the frisbee. She wanted the hair clips. I explained several times that she'll have to wait until the next "star space" to pick a prize and then she can choose the hair clips. She was not happy. After awhile Roo wanted to give up her frisbee for an Elmo book.
I'm sure some parents would argue that I should simply stop giving my children prizes for doing chores. I look at it as a teaching tool. They don't receive prizes every day, but it's a way to get them excited about taking on responsibilities.
In some ways, I think the prize bag is helping them more than the actual act of doing their chores. They're learning how to make choices. They're also learning the consequences of choices. We're just a few days away from the next "prize space" and I will be encouraging each of them to think long and hard about which prize they'll choose.

August 25, 2009

What are We Teaching Our Daughters?

I could care less if Miley Cyrus does a pole dance on TV. At some point all teen stars decide to show their "adult" side. Britney did it. Christina did it. Jessica did it. Miley's day was bound to come. Having said that, I'm not sure the Teen Choice Awards was the appropriate venue for Miley's "edgy" side. But did that many parents really question the performance? It seems like girls are being taught to be "sexy" at a younger and younger age.
By now Miley is old news, so I'm sure many of you are wondering why I'm bringing this up. Yesterday Hubby came in with the mail and had a catalog of Halloween costumes. He loves Halloween and immediately sat on the floor to look at all the pictures with our daughters. I looked through it later and was stunned by many of the costumes. Sure, there were your requisite princesses, fairies, witches, etc., but what I saw in the "'teen" section shocked me. Keep in mind this section specifically said teens and not adults. It contained page after page of pouty girls in short skirts. Most of these girls look like they're about 12 years old. The catalog came from a legitimate, national chain.
In most retail stores when you shop the young girls' department (think ages 6-10) you'll think you're in the junior's department. The shorts and skirts are getting shorter, the tops are getting tighter. What is a parent to do?
I'm not a prude. I don't think there's anything wrong with dressing "cute" or even "sexy"... when it's age appropriate. With four daughters you can be sure I'm going to be keeping a close eye on their outfits... and which celebrities they choose to admire. Thank goodness my daughters have decided to dress up as flowers this Halloween.

August 24, 2009

Get into the Groove

It's that time of year... time to get ready to go back to school. Some how we managed to survive our first day back to preschool.
This year I was at least prepared for the mad house that is the first day of school. The parking lot was packed with parents sending their child off to preschool or kindergarten. Fortunately we managed to find a parking spot.
It was a lot of fun seeing how much my daughters have grown from the first day last year to the first day this time around. Last year when the teacher sang a song requiring each student to jump up and shout his/her name, my daughters wanted nothing to do with the activity. This year they couldn't wait for the teacher to point to them so they could jump up and loudly shout their names. Last year for the first few months when I asked what they did at school they would tell me they ate a snack. Today they were chatterboxes the whole way home. Not only did they have a snack, they played on the playground, they colored and they did "work."
I think the hardest part of today was getting everyone up and ready. It was a little earlier than they're used to waking up, but by the end of the week they should be adjusted to the new schedule. Who knows, maybe they'll be so exhausted I'll be able to bring back nap time!

August 19, 2009

School Supplies... Or How I Blew $100 in One Day

The other day my daughters and I ventured to Target, armed with their school supply list. This year's list seemed more elaborate than last year, and I confirmed that thought at the check out. We spent nearly $100 for supplies... supplies for pre-school. I can only imagine the bill for elementary school and beyond. I suppose if you break it down by child, I spent $25 each... but had they needed new backpacks this year then the bill per child would have been even higher.
I should preface all of this by saying I grew up with two parents for teachers. My mom taught first grade. My dad taught at the college level. I have a great respect for teachers and the work they do. I have seen first hand the money they spend out of their own pocket to make sure their students have the necessary tools to succeed. My mom even spent her own money to paint her classroom. But some things on this year's supply list left me a little befuddled.
Backpack? Check. Crayons? Check. Water color paints? Check. A box of Kleenex? Yeah, OK. A ream of copy paper? Ummm.... Our public schools certainly face trying times. It seems fewer and fewer levies are being passed. But what is going on with the budgets that the school can't even provide teachers with paper to make copies for homework, handouts, etc?
I don't have a problem buying supplies needed to complete school work. I just find it odd that we, as parents, are now being asked to buy anything and everything the teacher will use. I'm not even blaming the teacher. I don't think she should be expected to supply her class with paper towels or cups. I just wish districts would take a look at their budgets and figure out if they're spending wisely.

The No Crying Rule

Some days I am ready to pull my hair out with all the crying I have to listen to. When my daughters are hurt I understand the crying. When they're mad or frustrated I get that, too, to a certain degree. But when they cry just to cry or because they think they'll receive attention, it drives me bonkers.
I recently read an article about the "terrible three's." One mom said she tells her daughter that if she wants to throw a tantrum it's OK, as long as she goes to her room. When she's done crying she's welcome to rejoin the family. So I decided to try instituting the "No Crying Downstairs Rule."
As soon as one of my daughters begins crying (assuming she's not hurt) I say "Uh-oh." One of two things happens. Either she stops crying or the crying continues. If it continues then I say "You know the rule. There's no crying downstairs. Go to your room and when you're done crying you can come back down here." She'll either immediately stop crying or she'll run upstairs. Usually by the time any of them reach their bed they'll shout down the stairs "I'm done crying!" Some times, though, the rule works too well. One of my daughters fell and hit her head. She started to cry and began her trek upstairs. I immediately scooped her up and told her it's OK to cry if you're hurt. Poor thing.
So far the no crying rule seems to be working for all of us. I've seen a slight decrease in tantrums and my nerves aren't on edge by the end of the day.

August 18, 2009

Doing It Alone

Some of my blogging friends post every now and then about their husbands being gone for days at a time for work. I have always wondered what would happen if I were in charge of my daughters for several days with no other help. I don't need to wonder any longer.
Due to a death in the family, Hubby has been out of town since Sunday. Logistically it just wouldn't work to take four toddlers on the whirlwind trip (a 12 hour drive Sunday, the funeral Monday, and a 12 hour drive home today). So I braced myself for a few long days.
Sunday went much better than I imagined. We busied ourselves in the morning with bubbles in the backyard. In the afternoon we watched Snow White. By bed time all five of us were exhausted. Monday was a day full of preschool preparations. In the morning we met the teacher and visited the classroom. After lunch we went shopping for school supplies (note to teachers: please do not wait until a week before school starts to distribute your supply list. It was slim pickin's at Target). Today we will hopefully go to the pool and simply bide our time until Hubby returns.
It's the nights that were the worst. Every little sound spooked me. I was concerned about what would happen if there were an emergency in the middle of the night and I was the only adult around. I know, I know. I sound like a wuss. I live in a "nice" neighborhood, but I think I have reasons to be a tad paranoid. In the two years we have lived in this house our front window and a garage window have been shot out with a BB gun (the unknown culprit still owes us $500 so we can fix the huge picture window), we have found used syringes in one of our window wells, and people some times ring our door bell after dark looking for the renters down the street who must not work and are always throwing a party. I did mention it's a "nice" neighborhood, right? So each night I braced myself for one of two noises... either the shrieking of our home security system or the cries of Tortilla who went diaper free while Hubby was gone. I'm happy to say neither of those sounds were heard.
Fortunately, we have recently become friendly with the couple who live directly behind us. They are smitten with the girls and just a fun couple to hang with. The male half is a former firefighter and paramedic, so I knew if a medical emergency arose I could call on him.
I think everyone expected me to be pulling my hair by now. My daughters can definitely have their meltdowns. I was pleasantly surprised by their behavior during the past few days. Now if Hubby can just arrive home safely, I can rest easy.

August 17, 2009

Clean Up, Clean Up, Everybody Clean Up

My daughters are not always that great at cleaning up their messes. Some days they'll clean up without fuss, other days I feel like I'm going to spend all night cleaning up their toys by myself. The last few days I've been bribing them with stickers, which seems to work, to a degree, but now I'm ready to make a chore chart.
What chores are appropriate for nearly-4-year-olds? I would like to have three age appropriate chores on their chart. I know cleaning up their toys will be one of the chores. I'm hoping this will stop Cakes from standing by the "book corner," tossing all the books into the middle of the room and then walking away. But I would still like two more chores that they're expected to do. I thought about requiring them to make their beds in the morning, and I still may do that. My only concern is that we'll be on a tight schedule when preschool starts and I don't know if tardiness is excused because I spent the morning trying to cajole 4 toddlers to make their beds.
Either way, that still leaves a third chore. Taking dishes to the sink? Putting out food for the cats? Wiping off the table after meals? I don't know.
My idea is to create a chore chart and each time a task is completed, those who did the task receive a sticker on the chart. There will be certain "prize" spaces on the chart and once they earn enough stickers to cover the "prize" space they get to pick a treat (I'll stock up at the dollar store). Eventually I'll make it so the prize space pops up just once a week and they earn a dime or a quarter (hey, I have 4 so yes I'm going to be cheap) to put in their piggy banks.
So, for those of you who have successfully taught your children to do chores... what chores do they do, and what works best to get them to do it?

August 14, 2009

Where Does the Time Go?

The countdown is on for the first day of preschool. When school ended in May I wondered how we would make it through the summer. Now I'm wondering where the time went.
We have had countless days of swimming, our first movie outing, trips to the zoo and, oh yeah, an afternoon with The Wiggles. Some days, though, it feels as though we just didn't do as much as I wanted.
We have just over a week before school starts. In that time we need to buy snacks to share with classmates and stock up on school supplies. No, I did not procrastinate. This year the teacher decided to hand out the school supply list at next week's "Meet the Teacher" event... which means I'll be scrambling to buy everything times four. I even asked for the list in advance, but received a vague reply. Oh well.
The first week of school will likely be exhausting. Not only will my girls need to get back in the habit of rising by 6:30 a.m., we'll also have family visiting from out of town. So when my daughters aren't in school, we'll be wearing them out with other fun activities.
I know they're excited to return to school. Yesterday we drove by the school and they all waved to the building. While it will be nice to have some "me time" when they're back in school, I'm going to miss the leisurely summer days we spent together.

August 12, 2009

When Does the Fog Lift?

I knew the first year of raising quadruplets would be a blur. I have memories of it, but some things just run together. I've laughed about "mommy brain," but, seriously, does it ever go away?
Hubby will tell you I have/had an excellent memory. During arguments I used to remember petty indiscretions from years ago. Now I'm lucky to remember what I had for breakfast.
I am now easily distracted. I go upstairs and by the time I reach my destination I have no idea why I'm there. Lest you think I'm suffering from memory loss, let me point out that the journey from point A to point B is not a straight line in my house. Often I head upstairs and have to stop to take one of the girls from the bathroom, find a missing blankie and/or stop a fight. Then on the way upstairs I will likely have a laundry basket full of clean clothes to put away. After I put the clothes away I'll walk into my room and think "hmmm. Now what was it I wanted in here??"
I have become that parent who shouts out three names before I figure out which daughter I'm addressing. They think it's a game. They think it's funny to correct me.
Some days are better than others. For instance, I remembered three days before our recent wedding anniversary to buy Hubby a card. He didn't remember to buy a card until that day (I'm just giving him a hard time because he has always had a bad memory!) The fog seems to be slowly lifting... but I'll be glad when it's completely gone!

August 11, 2009

Eight Years Ago....

Eight years ago today Hubby and I were married in a beautiful little town in southeast Ohio. OK, it's my hometown, so I'm a little biased, but it is a pretty little place. Eight years ago we had zero responsibilities, other than the three cats we owned. Here we are eight years later, exhausted but happy.
Our wedding was the definition of us: no frills but lots of fun (although if you ask my parents, who footed the bill, they would probably question my "no frills" description). Rather than a big fanfare, we simply had fun with family and friends who we rarely can see all at once.
Little did we know, as we took our vows for better or worse, that we would put those vows to the test as we struggled to start a family. When we promised to stand by one another in sickness and in health Hubby had no idea that meant he would have to nurse me through 23 weeks of bed rest. The rich or poor part? It all depends on how you look at it... financially, well, with four children all the same age, you do the math... but we're certainly rich with love, hokey as it sounds.
If you had told us eight years ago what life would be like, I don't think we could have even imagined it... but here we are, and life is good. Happy anniversary!!! (The picture was the best I could do. I couldn't find any digital images from our wedding so I had to settle for a picture of a picture)

August 10, 2009

It Finally Happened....

Several months ago (March? April? Time tends to blend together these days) Hubby and I made arrangements for the girls to sleep over at grandma and grandpa's, giving us an unprecedented night to ourselves. Then a flu bug ruined those plans and two of the girls and I were down for the count. It was quite a disappointment since Hubby and I had spent weeks planning our night out.
To celebrate our upcoming wedding anniversary Hubby secretly arranged for his parents to take our girls this past weekend. At first I was unsure and almost said no. We already had plans to attend a pool party during the day with his parents and I was concerned our daughters would be exhausted. In the end I decided to give it a try.
My main concern was what would happen at bed time. Our daughters have never spent a night without us. I shouldn't have worried. Cakes and Tortilla conked out right away. Roo and Sue-Sue treated the whole affair like a slumber party, but when grandma and grandpa moved them to another room and turned on a night light they settled down. In fact last night Tortilla asked to go sleep back at grandma's, so I guess the night was a success.
As for Hubby and I, we went to see the latest Harry Potter movie. It was OK. This was my least favorite book, so it shouldn't have surprised me that this installment of the movie wasn't so hot. Still, it was nice to be out without worrying about rushing to get home. Bed time was a bit strange without hearing the usual stirrings and sounds from the girls' room. All and all it was a fun time and a great surprise from Hubby. And in case you're wondering, I only called my in-laws once to check on the girls, so I think I handled the sleep over fairly well!

August 05, 2009

And the Winner is....

ME!!!! I rarely win anything. The last time I remember winning a raffle or giveaway it was at last summer's picnic for my moms of multiples group. There were several baskets to win. Out of sympathy for Hubby I put a ticket in a sports-themed basket, as well as numerous me-themed baskets. I won the sports basket. Not a thing in it for me, but Hubby was delighted. So imagine my surprise when I visited And Twins Make 5! yesterday and learned I won a recent giveaway.
I will soon be the proud owner of a Crayola Creativity Pack, which includes colored pencils, markers and glitter glue, to name a few things. With my daughters' birthday approaching, I can't wait to receive this. Yes, I'll be saving it until their big day.
Since I'm not one to simply brag about my winnings, I thought you would want to know that the site is giving away the same prize this week. If you have a child in your life (your child, a relative, a neighbor) head on over and enter to win. Who knows... maybe you'll be surprised to learn you're the next winner!

That's Mine!

When you're a multiple, you have to learn to share at an early age: your room, your clothes, your toys, your parents. Overall, my daughters have been pretty good at this, but sometimes they just can't take it any more.
They each have certain things that are theirs and only theirs and I really make a point of enforcing that. Besides their blankies, Tortilla has a purse that she refused to let go of during a recent shopping trip, so Grandma bought it for her. Sue-Sue and Roo each have a stuffed animal they received at separate doctor's appointments. Cakes could really care less about claiming anything as long as she has her yellow blankie.
But inevitably, one of them will find a toy that no one has touched in months and suddenly I feel like I'm a referee for Ultimate Cage Fighting. They will gladly share toys with other children, but are more than happy to see which sister can draw first blood over the silliest things.
For instance, yesterday we came downstairs for breakfast and Tortilla decided to play with a babydoll pillow. As soon as she set it down to grab a babydoll, Cakes took the pillow. Screaming ensued, mainly along the lines of "that's mine!" Usually my rule is this: if you put it down then it's fair game for others. But considering Tortilla only put down the pillow so she could find a babydoll to use with it, well, things were a little dicey. I finally convinced Tortilla to use a smaller pillow, knowing Cakes would soon tire of the other pillow, which she did.
It's hard to explain "ownership" to my daughters. If they show me a toy and say "that's my (fill in the blank)" I usually have to say "yes, but it's a toy we share with our sisters." I know most siblings, multiples or not, go through this at some point. I just hope the concept of "yours, mine and ours" sinks in before they start trading black eyes.

August 04, 2009

Bumps, Bruises and Traveling

I've always meant to put together a first aid kit for the car. It seems like whenever we're out and about, the odds are pretty good one of the girls will fall and hurt herself.
You think I would have learned my lesson about a month ago. I took the girls shopping for a friend's birthday gift. As we walked through the parking lot, Sue-Sue tripped and scraped her knee. Blood was everywhere and I had nothing to clean her up with. So I did what any resourceful mom would do and used her shirt to wipe off the blood. She seemed OK with that and we continued our shopping. We cleaned the owie when we came home. Then just days later we were out and Roo tripped. She had a small scrape, but it still drew blood and I had nothing to clean it with.
Now that has all changed. The other day I was at the grocery store looking for liquid band-aids and happened to see a first aid kit on clearance. It's perfect and has everything I'll need for future accidents, including antiseptic wipes, bandages and gauze.
It probably would have been cheaper to put together my own kit, but since I still hadn't done that and this was a good deal, I went ahead and bought it. I actually had a hard time finding a reliable website to offer suggestions for a kit. Here's what I finally found for you to include if you "build your own kit": bandages, gauze, medical tape, butterfly bandage strips and an elastic bandage, instant ice pack, alcohol wipes, tweezers, swabs, cotton balls, tissues, antibiotic ointment, insect sting relief pads, cortisone cream, an irrigation syringe, pain relievers and antihistamines. Phew. That about covers it, right?

Keep in mind I'm talking about medical emergencies while on the road. There are plenty of other supplies you'll need to deal with roadside/car related emergencies. For now, though, I have what I need to make sure the next time one of my girls hurts herself while we're out shopping, she won't have to walk around with blood dripping down her leg.

August 03, 2009

Toddlers and Manners

My daughters are becoming pretty good at saying "please," "thank you," and "you're welcome." Sometimes they need a prompt or two, but overall they're catching on. There's one aspect of manners that really has me stumped: how should children address adults?
Growing up I was always taught to call adults "Mr. X" or "Mrs. X." I remember one friend's mom told me it was OK to call her by her first name, but my parents still insisted I address her as "Mrs. X." I think I was out of college before I addressed a long-time older neighbor and friend by her first name. These days, however, I seem to only hear children call adults by their first name.
I don't know if it's necessarily rude. It doesn't really bother me when friends' children call me by my first name. I used my maiden name professionally even after I was married, so being referred to by my married name sometimes throws me for a loop. But how do you explain to children that they need to call their teachers "Mr. or Mrs." but other adults can be addressed by their first names?
If it's someone I don't know very well I will introduce the person to my children as "Mrs. X." When it comes to my friends, though, it's a different story. I'm never going to remember not to call my friends by their first names when talking to my daughters, so how can I expect them to call them anything else?
I know there are some adults who will correct children who call them by their first names. Is it a sign of respect? Absolutely. Do I think children who address me by my first name are disrespectful? No, not really. I guess I'm writing this post for input. How do you ask your children to address adults? Is it a big deal to call them by their first name?