January 27, 2010

The Big Split

When we moved into our house a few years ago, Hubby and I had great intentions. We planned to go through every single box and purge all the non-essentials. Unfortunately, having toddler quadruplets at the time really hindered our plans. Our basement is filled with boxes. Our office has become a "catch-all" of sorts.
Now it's time to get our rears in gear. We're moving the girls from their toddler beds to twin beds. Four twin beds won't fit in their room, so they're going to be split up. Our guest room will become their other bedroom. Our office will become the guest room. I guess we don't really need an office, huh? (Details of the split will come in a later blog).
In about two weeks, Hubby and I are hoping over the span of two days to get the office cleaned out. It will mainly involve a lot of shredding and filing... record keeping just seems to slip when you've got preschoolers running around the house all day.
Once the office is cleaned out and the big move takes place our next goal will be to tackle all the boxes in the basement. Who knows what treasures we'll discover? Most likely we'll end up with lots of things to either donate or trash. Wish us luck!

January 26, 2010

Kids and Glasses

Since birth, my daughters have been seen by an ophthalmologist. Preemies are often born with vision problems, sometimes requiring surgery. While all of the girls had what's known as retinopathy of prematurity, none of them needed surgery. Still, by their first birthday, Roo needed glasses.
I had to scoff at the notion of a one-year-old wearing glasses. Was the ophthalmologist kidding me? I agreed to give it a go, and it was a disaster. Roo hated the glasses and often pulled them off. On the rare instances when I could convince her to wear them, her sisters pulled them off. By her second birthday the ophthalmologist decided Roo was hovering between needing glasses and not needing them, so we went the not needing them route.
About a year ago she had to go back to glasses and will likely need vision correction for the rest of her life. This time around she was excited to wear glasses. For the most part she takes care of her glasses and wears them without prompting.
A few months ago, Tortilla had to get glasses, too. She's not as cooperative. The bridge of her nose is very small and her glasses always slide down. The ophthalmologist put "wrap around" temple posts (or whatever they're called) on the glasses so they stay put, but now I catch Tortilla trying to look over the top of the lenses or even tilt her head up to look under the lenses. I'm willing to prompt and encourage her to wear them properly... what I'm not willing to do is drive to the ophthalmologist every week or two for adjustments.
For some reason, just in the last month, these two girls have been beating up their glasses. It seems that every week one of them is missing a nose piece, which I don't figure out until they have hideous gashes next to their noses. I'm vain. I refuse to buy them plastic frames. I don't like the look of them and, quite frankly, I'm not convinced that they're any sturdier than the metal frames.
So, today after lunch we're headed back to the ophthalmologist to have Roo's glasses repaired. A nose piece is off, once again, and she had to go to school without her glasses this morning. Hopefully we can figure out what is causing the nose pieces to fall off so we can stop making weekly trips to have them fixed.

January 25, 2010

The Secret's in the Sauce

Vegetables... oh, vegetables. They are such a tricky thing to feed children. The same babies who devoured squash, peas and carrots refuse to even try these foods as toddlers and preschoolers. But I, like many moms before me, have learned the trick to getting picky eaters to try anything. Dipping sauce.
In the beginning, I only used dips for chicken nuggets. Then I noticed when we had nuggets and vegetables, they would actually eat the vegetables if they could dip them. We now go through a bottle of ranch dressing a week and a bottle of barbeque sauce every two weeks. For those of you who haven't tried this, you may be shaking your head in disbelief. Need proof? My daughters will now eat carrots, broccoli, green peppers, celery, snap peas and cherry tomatoes (not a veggie, but they think it is)... as long as they have something to dip them in. In rare instances they'll even agree to use hummus as their dip.
Now I need to figure out what to use as a dip to encourage them to eat fruit. Sometimes they'll agree to dip their fruit in yogurt, but other times they refuse. Fruit is obviously sweeter than vegetables, so most fruits are always a hit, but there are still a few things they're reluctant to try.

January 22, 2010

Done With Shots

After four seasonal flu vaccines, 16 4-year vaccinations and eight H1N1 vaccines, we are finally done with shots... for now. Our second dose of the H1N1 vaccine was this morning and we actually made it through the appointment with minimal tears. It helped that I brought along Tootsie Pops. How can you spend much time crying when you have a gigantic lollipop waiting for you?
Since the restrictions for the H1N1 vaccine have been lifted, Hubby and I lucked out and managed to get vaccinated today at the pediatrician as well. About a month ago we went to one of the free clinics offered by our county. Thanks to bad Google Maps directions, we spent an hour driving around looking for the site. When we finally found it, we bailed. The location (an elementary school), was in a poorly lit neighborhood (it was dinner time and dark). We would have had to park four or five blocks away and navigate a high-traffic area with our daughters. Not ideal. I was more than happy to pay $15 a piece today for Hubby and me to be vaccinated.
Now the girls just want to know one thing: "Do we have to have a shot tomorrow, too?"

January 20, 2010

When One is Left Out

So far we have avoided the drama of only one of the girls being invited to a birthday party or play date. At this point, when one is invited, they have all been invited. I'm dreading the day, though, when I have to explain why only one is invited somewhere. (And, just a side note, I completely understand why all four may not be invited to a party... different classes, different friends, etc., but I still think it will be hard to explain).
Still, there are times when my daughters exclude one another from various activities. The other day, for example, Roo and Sue Sue were playing some game that made sense only to them. It involved sitting in an upside down chair and talking about bugs. Tortilla said "Can I play?" They said no. Keep in mind that as soon as Roo said no she looked to see my reaction. She knew she was supposed to say yes. I diverted Tortilla's attention and she went on to play something else.
It's a fairly common occurrence in our house: someone is playing quietly by herself and suddenly her three sisters want in on the action. I'm all for share and share alike, but I also understand their need for some alone time. Sometimes I can split them into different play rooms. Other times I set the oven timer so they can take turns with toys.
Still, I hate the heartbreak on the face of the sister who is told she can't play. It's never the same sister and never for the same reasons. Being left out is a life lesson that is never fun to learn.

January 19, 2010

I Need a Vacation

The last time Hubby and I took a vacation was nearly 9 years ago. It was our honeymoon to Maui. There is nothing better than a week filled with snorkeling and mai tais. Since then, we have certainly gone on trips, but they have all involved family events (weddings, etc) and nothing nearly as relaxing as an actual vacation. I think we're due a little relaxation.
We are currently saving up for a trip to Disney. It's going to be a big family affair (hopefully), so it's probably going to take two more years before we can actually coordinate everyone's schedules and finances.
Still, I'm desperate for a little R and R. My ultimate goal, of course, would be a vacation sans quadruplets. Don't get me wrong, I love my daughters and love spending time with them. But it would be nice to have a few days of relaxation that didn't involve entertaining four preschoolers.
Since I'm desperate to get away, though, I've looked at family vacations. This time of year there's just nothing in our area that seems reasonable for people who don't ski. I can ski, but it's not high on my list of relaxing activities. I even looked into a hotel chain with an indoor water park, but the closest one is 10 hours away. Bummer.
At the very least, I'm hoping in a few weeks we can take a day trip somewhere (yes, all 6 of us) and just have an enjoyable time.

January 18, 2010

You've Got to Have Friends

I think it's amazing how friendly bloggers can be. For many of us, we have never met one another. We may have seen pictures, perhaps even connected on Facebook, but, chances are the majority of us have never met our cyber-friends out in the real world.
Still, we're willing to go the distance to help out one another. Last month, when I blogged about my stress over our back ordered Pillow Pets, Stephanie B (of Rocket Scientist and Ask Me Anything) drove to her mall to figure out which Pillow Pets were in stock at the kiosk. Our Pillow Pets arrived on time, but the fact that Stephanie would do that was so nice. Then, about a week ago she offered to make jewelry for my daughters. She let them pick their colors and made sure their necklaces and bracelets weren't the same as their sisters'. You can click here to see her handiwork. Pretty cool. (Stephanie received an emailed photo of the girls wearing their new jewelry. They also insisted on wearing "pretty dresses" for the picture). My daughters are thrilled with their jewelry and have worn the pieces pretty much every waking moment.
When I blogged about ditching the potty chairs, I mentioned that I wanted step stools from IKEA (they're only $3.99 each!!) but didn't live near the store and the stools aren't available online. Sadia at Double the Fun and Twice the Confusion offered to buy the stools and ship them to me. My sister ended up doing that for us, but you never know when I may need to take Sadia up on her offer for other IKEA items.
My daughters and I have been in a slump lately. We just got over a round of illness in the house. We're all still adjusting to Hubby's new schedule (it changed just before Christmas and now he's not home very often for the nighttime routine). The kindness shown to us in recent weeks was the boost all of us needed to bring a smile to our faces and remind us that things are never as rough as they might appear. Thank you everyone who continues to offer support and encouragement when you read my posts. Hopefully I can "pay it forward."

January 15, 2010

Ditching the Potty Chairs Pt. 2

Our new IKEA stools arrived yesterday, thanks to the girls' Aunt Jenna, who didn't need much prodding to go to one of her favorite stores. The girls were excited to start using the real toilet... and felt the need to go to the bathroom every five minutes just so they could use the stools.
Ditching the potty chairs could turn out to be an expensive endeavor. No, the stools didn't cost very much, but I'm afraid my water bill is about to go sky high. The stools provide easier access to the sink and all I hear all day long is running water. Thank goodness my girls demonstrate good hygiene, but, seriously, how long does it take to wash your hands?
Until now I mainly had them use hand sanitizer. It was much easier to do that than hold them precariously at the sink while I helped them wash their hands. Now I think they are going to the bathroom just so they have an excuse to wash their hands. Hopefully the novelty of having full access to the sink will wear off soon.

January 14, 2010

Another Chance to Win Skin MD Natural Products

A few months ago I had the opportunity to review and giveaway a bottle of Skin MD Natural. The lotion acts as a "shield" of sorts on the skin and I've definitely noticed my hands don't seem as dry as they normally do in the winter.
Recently, 21st Century Formulations, the makers of Skin MD Natural, contacted me to let me know about a contest they're sponsoring. One lucky winner will receive a basket full of Valentine's Day goodies. Click here to enter.

The basket contains a bottle of Skin MD Natural shielding lotion, a bottle of Skin MD Natural + SPF 15 shielding lotion, one pound of See's assorted dark chocolates, a pack of Starbucks VIA Ready brew coffee pouches, a coffee mug, a teddy bear and a lollipop bouquet. You have until Feb. 7, 2010 to enter the giveaway. The winner will be chosen Feb. 8, 2010. As someone who uses the shielding lotion, I can tell you this is a great prize to try to win.
For promoting the giveaway, 21st Century Formulations offered me a complimentary bottle of Skin MD Natural. But, instead, I've asked them, and they've agreed, to send a care package to Sadia of Double the Fun and Twice the Confusion. A week or so ago Sadia blogged about her dry, cracked knuckles. As an avid reader of her blog, I know Sadia, a mom of twins whose husband is currently deployed to Korea is need of a little pick-me-up and a little pampering. So, Sadia, I hope this brings a smile to your face! (And, yes, this is why I messaged you on Facebook for your address). Good luck to all who enter the contest!

January 13, 2010

Snip, Snip...waaah!

Haircuts are a very touchy issue for me. From about age 4 to my early 20's nearly every haircut I had was a traumatic experience. I always looked forward to getting a new 'do, but it never, ever turned out the way I imagined.
The trauma began around age four. My mom took me to her hairdresser (that was the acceptable term back then, but now I think I'm supposed to call them "hair stylists.") My mom wanted me to have short hair. I dreamed of long, flowing locks. The stylist asked me if I wanted a pixie cut. What's that, I asked. Oh, like Tinkerbell, she said. Tinkerbell? Abso-freakin-lutely! So she snipped away and then turned me toward the mirror. I was appalled. I looked like a boy! I was no Tinkerbell. To make matters worse, within minutes, a man walked into the salon for a cut, looked at me and said "Hello, young man." I was devastated! This went on for years. Every summer my mom made me chop my hair off. Fortunately she never again made me go to the drastic lengths of the pixie cut, but it irked me all the same. (In her defense, I was an active kid. I spent my summers in youth softball leagues and in the pool. Long hair probably wouldn't have been a great idea). In second grade she let me start perming my hair, so, in pictures I looked like a blonde Annie. This lasted well into junior high. Hey, at least I thought the Annie perm looked good, and all my friends were doing it.
It wasn't until I had my first job out of college as a TV reporter and had the perk of free haircuts at a fairly upscale salon that I started to relax about my hair. I was in good hands and eventually was willing to let them experiment with color, etc. Now that I'm back to paying for my haircuts and color I find I'm better at communicating my wishes to my stylists.
The past few weeks I have become quite irritated with my daughters' hair. Each and every one of them has issues. Roo's hair grows unevenly and a few months after a cut it looks like she has a mullett. Sue Sue's hair grows slow, but is always in her eyes. Cakes and Tortilla have long hair and it is always in the way or in their mouths. So..... in just a few days we're headed to Fantastic Sam's for some changes. Roo and Sue Sue are just going to have their hair evened out. Cakes and Tortilla? They're losing a few inches. Their hair is a tangled mess every day and, while I still want to be able to put ponytails and barrettes in their hair, I want it to be manageable. I don't think they'll mind. So far they've all been really good when it comes to haircuts, even enjoying the process. But I know eventually the day will come when we arrive home from the salon and they throw themselves on the bathroom floor, wailing about the cut that went wrong.

January 12, 2010

Staying Home from School

When one of my daughters is sick, I really have to think and figure out who is staying home from school. At the beginning of a sickness I'll typically keep everyone home, at least for a day. The last thing I need is a phone call asking me to pick up another sick child. But as the sickness progresses, things can be tricky.
Last week I kept everyone home on Thursday. Roo had been up several times throughout the night and we were all exhausted. There's no preschool on Friday, so I figured we would have a nice long weekend to recover. By Monday morning it was clear everyone but Cakes was ready to go back to school. I knew Cakes still wasn't feeling great when she didn't protest about staying home. But last night she made it clear that she was going to school the next day. Works for me.
Unfortunately, Tortilla decided to have a relapse and was up a few times during the night. She is now sitting on the couch trying to munch on crackers while her sisters are at school.
My main belief is that it's not fair on various levels to keep everyone home if not everyone is sick. School is still fun in our house. No one is trying to play hooky. They love being around other kids, playing on the play ground, having a snack... preschool is a dream come true. I'm hoping by tomorrow all four of my daughters will be back to fighting form and ready for school.

January 11, 2010

I Need a New Couch

When Hubby and I bought our couch and love seat 10 years ago, we just kind of shrugged when the salesperson pointed out that they both came with a free stain repellent. Whatever. We had two cats, no kids, stain repellent? Yeah, I guess that's a good feature.
These days I'm pretty sure whatever stain repellent was put on the couch is long gone. The first time we spilled something on the couch we marveled at how it just pooled in little beads on the fabric. Clean up was easy. The first few times one of our cats yacked on the couch we were thankful for the stain repellent.
And then came quads.... During the last few years the couch has had numerous bottles and sippy cups full of milk spilled on it, it has been spit up on, peed on and barfed on (yes, there is a difference between spit up and barf).
Fortunately, the cushions have removable covers. Fortunately, said covers are colorfast in the laundry. But when the arm of the couch is involved in the assault, well, there's not much I can do. My current cleaning routine involves Woolite pet stain remover (even for kid-related problems), followed by a healthy dose of Febreeze. After this weekend's "festivities" (ie sickness), my couch smells like a combination of lavender (the Febreeze) and puke. I'm hoping one more cleaning will solve the problem.
For awhile we tried slip covers. Any mess can be removed with the slip cover and thrown in the wash. But the covers just don't stay on the couch. I have a hard enough time being motivated to make five beds each day. The last thing I want to do is "make" my bed and love seat each day, too.
I know I should buy a new couch... but why spend the money to defile a new couch when the old one works just fine!

January 07, 2010

Here We Go....

When Hubby and I were getting ready for bed last night, I heard a knock on our bathroom door. It was Hubby. "Roo just threw up," he said. What?! I was JUST in there and she was fast asleep. I rushed into the girls' bedroom. Sure enough, she was sick. Everywhere.
I was up with her two more times throughout the night. No one went to school today. I'm just waiting for the next one. It was about this time last year that a massive bug worked its way through our house.
Roo has kept down some toast and a popsicle. I'm busy doing laundry. Let's hope this isn't the start of something serious.

January 06, 2010

Confessions of a Chex Mix Addict

Growing up, Chex Mix was a rare treat. I still remember the pan my mom and grandma used to make Chex Mix. I can still smell the aroma of Chex Mix as it baked in the oven. I've tried the store-bought stuff, but nothing compares to homemade Chex Mix.
I'm not sure what motivated him, but sometime in the last year or so Hubby, who also is addicted to Chex Mix, decided to start making his own. First he started by making a combination of my grandmother's recipe and a recipe on a cereal box. Then, once he got the hang of it, he started experimenting. I won't give away his "secret recipe," especially since it varies from batch to batch, but it involves the usual ingredients (Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder), along with soy sauce, goldfish crackers, maybe some Kix, and, in his latest batch, banana chips and M&M's. I kid you not. It is FANTASTIC! He recently gave a bag of Chex Mix to the neighbors, and now they want to know when he's making more.
Just before Christmas, My Blog Spark and General Mills gave me the opportunity to receive four free boxes of General Mills cereal. This came on the heels of an announcement from General Mils that the company is committed to further reducing the amount of sugar in cereals advertised to kids 12 and younger (think single digit grams of sugar per serving). Now, I'm sure the intention was for bloggers like me to use the coupons, try new cereals and talk about how a healthy breakfast is an important way to start the day, especially for children.
Pshaw! All I could think was: CHEX MIX!!!!! I am constantly searching for fun snacks for my girls. Hubby's Chex Mix usually accomplishes that. He lets the girls help make it. They get to measure the ingredients and suggest new ones, which is likely how M&M's made their way into the last batch, but I'm not complaining! The fact that the homemade snack is somewhat healthy (M&M's aside) is an added bonus. So while a good breakfast is an important way to start your day, I'll take toast if it means we have some cereal left over for Chex Mix.

January 05, 2010

Ditching the Potty Chairs

A new year brings new beginnings, which means it's time to switch up the routine. I'm ditching our potty chairs. I know I should have done it awhile ago, but none of my girls were ready for it. Both of our potty chairs have a feature where you can attach part of it to the regular toilet. The bottom of the chair then becomes a step stool. Tried it, didn't work. Somehow the girls managed to pee all over themselves rather than in the toilet. I quickly gave up that plan.
But now it's time to give it another go, with a twist. How do I know it's time? Because they do their business and often times don't tell me. If they can do that, then they can use the regular potty and flush.
I'm not going to use the attachments. Instead, our kind Aunt Jenna is making a trip to IKEA for me (since I don't live remotely close to one) and buying me three step stools (we already have one of them). (Side note to IKEA: wouldn't it be great if you made these available to order through your website? hint hint) There will be a stool in front of each toilet and one at each bathroom sink. Why no attachments? I discovered something just before Christmas. The preschool doesn't use any type of toilet seat attachment and the girls have no problem using that toilet. If they can do it at school they can do it at home.
Like all changes, it's going to take some getting used to... mainly for the girls. I'm sure there will be some resistance (for awhile Roo was convinced she would fall in a big toilet, which is why she prefers the potty chair). So, wish me luck!

January 04, 2010

The Not-So-Fun Part of Bedtime

Bedtime with my daughters has always been fun for me. They're starting to wind down (most nights), they're sweet, they want lots of hugs. Unfortunately, learning to use the potty has made bedtime a frustrating event.
Here's what happens most nights: we go upstairs and, if it's not bath night, everyone changes into her pajamas. One at a time they'll go to the bathroom to brush their teeth. I always ask: Do you need to use the potty? With Tortilla and Cakes the answer will vary. If they've gone to the bathroom within the last hour then they're good for the night. Roo and Sue Sue give the same answer each night: No. It doesn't matter if it has been five hours since they used the toilet, they don't want to go right before bedtime. Why? Because the rule is simple: you must stay in your bed unless you need to go potty.
I've tried to force them on the toilet at bedtime. Doesn't work. I've threatened to simply let them wet the bed. Still doesn't work (and quite frankly I don't want to deal with the extra laundry). So here's what happens.... the second I turn the light out Sue Sue says she needs to go potty. Well if she gets to go then you can bet Roo is going to want to go, too. For awhile I simply went downstairs and let them do their thing. Big mistake. It turned into a half hour of Roo and Sue Sue running up and down the hall.
So here is our new bedtime routine: They brush their teeth. I turn out the light. Then I immediately ask Sue Sue if she needs to go potty. She does. Then Roo takes her turn. Then I stay in their room a few minutes to make sure they've settled down. It seems to be working... for now. I'm just wondering what the next excuse will be to get out of bed.