November 30, 2010

The Perfect Tree

Trimming the tree is no fun when you're the only one doing it. When I landed my first job out of college and moved several states away from my family, I didn't buy a tree. I lived in a small apartment. I'm allergic to real trees and the fake ones are expensive, especially when you're a recent college grad trying to make ends meet as a news reporter. And, quite frankly, I thought the whole process would be lonely by myself. When Hubby and I married, one of our first purchases was an artificial tree. Finally! A tree of my own to decorate and someone to help me do it.
Decorating the tree is one of my favorite things about Christmas. I love unwrapping each ornament and remembering certain events... the penguin driving a car that I received right after obtaining my driver's license, the ornaments that hung on my grandmother's tree, the ornament my sister and I fought over every year because we both wanted to hang it.
This year's tree trimming was a fun day. My daughters are now at an age where they want to hear about the ornaments. They understand that some decorations are fragile and no longer complain when Mommy hangs them high so no one can touch them. They even have ornaments of their own... special mementos from their first Christmas, decorations they made at school (I don't save very many things from school, but the ornaments are a must-keep).
You can definitely tell which parts of the tree were decorated by a bunch of five-year-olds. This is what you'll see throughout our tree:
It would be easy to redo all their hard work and make the tree look organized, but what's the fun in that? When I was little, my mom let me (and later my sister) have free reign decorating the tree. Whenever my grandmother came to visit she would try to de-clutter the ornaments. I could tell right away if she moved something and would always move it back to the spot where I had it. So to me, this tree with several ornaments hanging together is perfect.
(Don't forget to check out my review of Bare Bones, the latest album from Bryan Adams. You can also enter for your chance to win a copy!)

November 29, 2010

"Bare Bones" CD: Review and Giveaway

I always enjoy hearing an artist do a stripped down version of his or her work. Some of my favorite CDs are unplugged compilations, so I was quite excited to review the new Bare Bones CD from Bryan Adams.
Adams says Bare Bones is inspired by his 1996 MTV Unplugged album. After that experience, he wanted to pare it down even more and just use a guitar and his voice. While on tour singing acoustic versions of his hits, he had so many requests for those arrangements that he decided to record a few shows.
I think you have to be a fan of Bryan Adams to truly appreciate this album. I'm a fan, so this wasn't a problem. You'll find all his biggest hits on here, including"Cuts Like a Knife," "Summer of '69," and "(Everything I Do) I Do it For You." It was really fun to hear his acoustic version of all these songs. He relies only on his guitar, a harmonica and a piano.
I will admit, I'm not a huge fan of "concert" albums. I want to enjoy the music. I don't want to hear fans screaming in the background or singing along. Fortunately, the concert setting doesn't take away from the overall experience of this album. Besides, I think some of the "rawness" of this album would have been taken away if Adams had recorded this in a studio, rather than during a performance.
Want to hear this album for yourself? Decca Records is giving a copy to one lucky Buried in Laundry reader. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents. The deadline to enter is 9 am MST Friday Dec. 3, 2010. To enter you must have a valid email address. The winner will have 48 hours after notification to provide me with a mailing address or a new winner will be chosen. 
To enter (this step is mandatory) leave me a comment telling me what artist you would like to hear do an acoustic version of his or her work.
For additional entries: (leave a separate comment for each entry)
  • Become a follower of Buried in Laundry (or leave a comment if you already are a follower)
  • Blog about this giveaway and link back to this post
Again, please remember to leave an email address in your comment.
Disclosure: While no monetary compensation was given for this post, Decca Records provided me with a complimentary copy of Bare Bones and is providing a copy of the album for the winner.

November 24, 2010

The Board Game Dilemma

I enjoy a good board game. A holiday in my family was not complete without a fun game after the big meal. My daughters, thank goodness, enjoy games, too, but I have a feeling I'm teaching them some bad habits.
The best example is Candy Land. If you have played the game, you probably know what my big pet peeve is... the dreaded card that takes you to Candy Cane Forest. I hated that card as a kid, I hate it as an adult. One of my girls will be soooooo close to winning and them BAM! she draws the candy cane card. I've started taking it out of the deck, along with some of the other picture cards that take you back near the beginning... but lately they've started questioning why they never seem to draw that card.
My daughters have, fortunately, reached an age where they can make it through a board game without becoming distracted. They're really starting to grasp the concept of games. The problem is, if the game is taking too long, I won't point out when they skip a square here and there. I know I need to start becoming a stickler for rules, but for now, I guess we'll just make up the rules as we go.

November 23, 2010

A Fun Thanksgiving Treat

A friend of mine posted this on her Facebook page and I just had to give it a try.
 The picture is my creation. As you'll read later, my girls had some issues with theirs, but the cookies were still tasty. It was a pretty fun and quick treat to make. 
You'll need:
  • Oreo cookies (Double Stuff works best... I chose the non-chocolate version)
  • miniature peanut butter cups
  • candy corn
  • white frosting (the directions call for white gel icing, but it didn't hold the peanut butter cups in place, which is why pictures of the girls' creations are not on display)
Take an Oreo apart. This will be the base of your turkey. Stick another Oreo into the "base" cookie. (Remind your children to be gentle, as the frosting easily "cracks"). Use the icing to secure a peanut butter cup to the cookie. (This might work better if you set the head on the "base". It will still look like it's near the middle of the "body"). Insert candy corn, pointy piece down, into the filling of the Oreo "body." (This is another "gentle" task or your cookie will break, which happened to us). Use gel icing to make the eyes on the peanut butter cup. Break a piece of candy corn and use the pointy end for the beak. Use the icing/frosting to secure the beak on the peanut butter cup. Enjoy!

November 22, 2010

Sometimes You Just Have to Laugh

The other day I was reading a blog by a mom of triplets, who also happens to in my moms of multiples group. A repairman was at her house and asked her if she was running a day care. This inspired her to make a video with some of the funny and/or annoying comments she has heard about having triplets. Since I know I've written multiple times about the comments that have annoyed me, I thought I would share some of the humorous things I have heard (or overheard) when I'm out with my girls:
  • So, are you a nanny or something?
  • Woman 1: Look, quadruplets! Woman 2: No, one of them looks smaller. I think it's triplets, but they didn't want the younger one to feel left out so they dressed her like the other three.  (You think I'm joking about this one, don't you?)
  • How much do you charge for babysitting?
  • (seeing me load up on milk) You must have a house full of teenagers! At least they'll be out of the house soon. (nope, so imagine how much milk I'll be buying in 10 years!)
OK, so those are the only ones that stand out in my mind right now... but I wanted you to know I do have a sense of humor. It's actually very rare that someone's comments truly annoy me.

November 18, 2010

I'm Making a List and Checking It Twice

Ever since my daughters were born, Christmas cards have been a big deal. Their first Christmas I think I sent more than 150 cards. I didn't include a picture with their birth announcement because they were still so tiny. So at Christmas I sent a photo card to everyone I knew.
This year I've really been trying to cut costs and trim the list. But I may not have to trim it as much as I thought. Shutterfly is giving bloggers 50 free cards in exchange for writing about the company. Since I already use Shutterfly, this was an opportunity I couldn't pass up.
I actually started using Shutterfly long before my daughters came along, mainly to print my pictures. One year I made a calendar using a bunch of pictures my dad had taken while visiting us in Michigan. After my girls arrived, I made photobook. It took a lot of work, but it was also a lot of fun.
I like the ease of Shutterfly. I organize my pictures by month (and year), so it's really easy to find and print older pictures. I also appreciate being able to have my title printed on the back of each picture... no more going through a stack of pictures with a pen trying to document who is who.
Each year, I try to put some thought into what our card will look like. This year, I'm thinking about having my girls pose in their Christmas dresses. My favorite card, by far, is this one... but I think I'll keep it simple. I like to do a card that allows people to cut out and keep the picture (which then cuts down the number of school portraits I have to buy!), so I'll probably choose this one. 
For all you bloggers out there, there's still time to participate in this promotion. Just click here for more details. (Disclosure: I was not given any monetary compensation for this post. Shutterfly is going to provide me with 50 free for writing this post).

November 17, 2010

A Pregnancy Counted By Weeks.

Today Bloggers are taking time to raise awareness about prematurity. When I found out I was pregnant with quadruplets, I was told my babies would be born early. How early was hard to predict. There are so many "magic numbers" when you're dealing with multiples. My pregnancy became all about countdowns to various weekly milestones.
The first countdown was to week 5. This is the week I went for my first ultrasound to see how my pregnancy was going. It was also the week we found out I was carrying quadruplets.
The next countdown was to week 10. This is the first appointment I had with my obstetrician since becoming pregnant. He took one look at me and I could see the panic on his face. Since week 5 I had not been able to keep down much food. I was rapidly losing weight. He was concerned on a personal level because a close friend and patient had just lost her triplets at 19 weeks.
I tried not to focus on 19 and instead counted to 18 weeks... when we could find out the genders. My perinatologist jumped the gun at 16 weeks and excitedly announced one of the babies was a boy. At 18 weeks we found out all four babies were girls. This was a fun revelation, but meant the names Gavin and Wyatt were no longer on our short list of potential baby names.
Then I nervously counted to 19 weeks. It came. It went. We made it.
The biggest "week" was yet to come. We were informed from the beginning that I had to carry these babies to 28 weeks in order to deliver them at our local hospital. If I went into labor earlier than that I would be transferred 2+ hours away to the nearest facility with pediatric specialists. There was no way I was going to have my babies in a hospital so far away. Two hours? No, I wanted my babies to be delivered 20 minutes from my house so I could visit them every day once I was discharged.
At exactly 28 weeks we toured the NICU and talked with someone from the hospital about the "quad delivery game plan." Then I went home to begin my countdown to my scheduled c-section at 32 weeks. I made it two days into that particular countdown before my four fragile little girls arrived in this world.
It has been a crazy ride, full of ups and downs. In that first year, I never would have imagined having four five-year-olds. Now my countdowns are to fun milestones... such as the first day of kindergarten next year!

November 16, 2010

All I Want for Christmas is.... Everything!

Last year was the first year my daughters grasped the concept of Santa. They finally understood that if you ask him for something, it's probably going to be under the tree Christmas morning. Last September they started asking for Pillow Pets and never strayed from that request. So, Christmas morning, they each found a Pillow Pet under the tree.
This year is proving to be tricky. They are constantly seeing something they want... a bike, a scooter, a doll, you name it. I've tried explaining to them that just because you want something, doesn't mean you will get it... you need to pick one thing and stick to it. Frankly, Santa is done shopping in our house. I buy throughout the year and purposely try to finish shopping before the crowds are out.
It doesn't help that a certain relative essentially told my daughters that Santa is going to bring them the stuffed animals you see at the registers at Kohl's. When I told her I had no intention of buying them, she told the girls "You can ask Santa for whatever you want, just don't expect him to give it to you."
Before you think my daughters are spoiled, I should point out that I know they'll be happy with whatever they find under the tree Christmas morning. I've also talked with them about the less fortunate and how we can help. Our finances are tight, but I'm hoping I can take them to pick out a gift for Toys for Tots or a similar local organization.
Still, the fact that they believe in Santa has its upside. I can still say "You need to behave because Santa is watching," and find myself faced with four well-behaved girls!

November 15, 2010

The Sacrifices Finally Paid Off

About a year ago, we were struggling on the job front. Hubby's then-employer had forced numerous unpaid furloughs on employees. Then, in the final quarter the company decided that having employees take extra time off at the holidays wasn't a good idea. So the powers-that-be instituted a mandatory pay cut. Fortunately, Hubby found a new job. Unfortunately, while the job brought many perks (better pay, overtime opportunities, free cable, free internet), it also required Hubby to work nights and weekends. 
At first, the new schedule was kind of fun. Yes, five nights a week I tackle the nightly routine by myself, but once my girls are in bed, I can read, watch whatever movie I want (I think I watched The Proposal more times than I can count when it was offered On Demand.) or secretly indulge in reruns of The Jersey Shore. Plus, it was kind of nice (for awhile) that Hubby's days off fell during the week, rather than the weekend. Trips to the zoo, or anywhere else for that matter, were a lot less crowded.
Still, when you only see your husband two nights a week, the antics of Snooki and company quickly wear off. On Saturdays, I go to work long before the rest of the family is awake. I arrive back home about twenty minutes before Hubby needs to head out the door to work. It's basically enough time for me to get the rundown on whether the girls have misbehaved or been perfect angels all morning. On Mondays, I see my husband for ten minutes. I'm not joking. I typically get up and leave for work while Hubby is getting the girls ready for school, so I see him at home for about five minutes. I have to drive the "work" car, as we only have one vehicle that accommodates all four girls. Then, after driving the girls to school, Hubby swings by my work to switch cars because his work if a lot farther away and we don't want him driving our "family vehicle" that far. So as long as things are slow at work I can chat with him for about five more minutes. Then I see him again Tuesday morning.
But finally, FINALLY the last year of sacrificing our family time has paid off. Hubby just got a new job within his current company. He interviewed for the position three months ago, so we had pretty much given up hope on this ever coming through. Then last week, he got the call. The job is his. It's a Monday through Friday, "normal hours" type of job. I'll have to rearrange my work schedule and work two nights a week, but I would rather go two nights each week without seeing my husband, than five. He'll be home for dinner. He'll be home to help put the girls to bed. Every day they say "does Daddy have to go to work?" They (and I) will be thrilled to have him home more often.
The sacrifices were certainly our decision. We thought it was better to do this now, while the girls are still too young to be involved in after school activities, etc. We knew eventually the schedule would change for the better... thank goodness it happened sooner rather than later!

November 10, 2010

Time for the Hair Dryer

It snowed yesterday. Ugh. On Saturday it was nearly 80 degrees... now it's not even 50. I guess I was spoiled by the lingering warm weather.
The cooler weather means it's time to break out many things: the shovel, extra blankets and the hair dryer. I actually use the hair dryer on my own hair every day (shhhh, don't tell my stylist. She thinks I should only wash my hair every other day. She, however, does not have crazy, uncontrollable waves that will not be tamed by a measly water bottle). Anyway, once it becomes cold outside, I have to start using the hair dryer on my girls. This, of course, makes our nightly routine a little longer. They take a shower every other night (baths on the "off" nights if they've been at school or playing outside, etc). I can't send them to bed with wet hair. Their hair dries pretty fast in the summer, but in the winter, I don't think it would ever air-dry. So, out comes the hair dryer and they are suddenly treated to salon-type pampering. Their hair is combed, tangle-free and nice and shiny.
I figure I could open my own at-home salon with all the work I do on the girls, especially once you factor in the "mani/pedis" I give them in the summer!

November 09, 2010

Movie Night

When I went on my DST Rant yesterday, I touched on Movie Night. I instituted our first ever Movie Night in hopes of getting some extra sleep. It didn't work (the sleep, that is), but movie night was fun.
We watched How to Train Your Dragon. I had put my name on the wait list at our local library, so it took awhile to get the movie, but the timing was perfect. Now my girls can't wait to have another Movie Night.
The library has been a great resource of free movies. We've checked out other movies to watch during the day. I've given up using Red Box. Why pay $1 to return a movie the next day, when you can check out a movie from the library for free for a week? Hubby and I still use Netflix for ourselves in order to get new releases in a timely manner, but my girls don't know the difference.
We're patiently waiting for our next Movie Night. We are on the wait list for Ramona and Beezus, Toy Story 3, and Shrek Forever After. Between those movies and some of the movies we already own, our Movie Night lineup is set for a few weeks. I'm still trying to figure out, though, if it's the movie that has my girls excited or the prospect of eating popcorn right before bed!

November 08, 2010

My DST Rant

Twice a year,  you get the privilege of reading my Daylight Savings Time Rant. I hate "falling back." When I was younger (ie: any time before kids), I appreciated the extra hour of sleep. I do not like the shorter days. I don't care if the sun comes up earlier, it goes down earlier, too, and it's no fun having it be dark by 5 pm. I like seeing the sun until well into the evening.
Now that I have children, there is no such luxury as an extra hour of sleep. They have their internal clocks programmed to "butt crack of dawn" year-round. Twice a year I am in a no-win situation. When we "spring forward," no one is ready for bed. When we "fall back," everyone is up way too early.
This time, though, I was ready. I knew just how to get that extra sleep. Thanks to our local library, on Saturday I armed myself with a copy of How to Train Your Dragon. After an afternoon at the park, a meal of make-your-own pita pizzas and a bubble bath, the girls were treated to our first every Movie Night. We popped pop corn and settled into the couch for the movie. By the time the movie was over, all four girls were bleary eyed and asking if they could go to bed. By "regular time" they stayed up almost an hour later than usual. They were up by 5:30 am. I wish I were joking. 5:30 am! Even without DST, it would have been 6:30 am, which is still earlier than they typically wake up on the weekends! 
So, for whatever reason, my plan was foiled. I am storing this, and other "early morning incidents" in my Mommy Memory Bank. Don't think I won't use this against them when they are teenagers and finally appreciate the luxury of sleeping in!

November 03, 2010

Thinking About Kindergarten

Next week I'll be meeting with a principal at one of the schools I'm considering sending my daughters to next year for kindergarten. I sound so posh, don't I? Like I have all this disposable income to send four children to private school or something. No. I've got three choices: go to kindergarten at the school we're zoned for, apply for open enrollment at the school where they currently attend preschool or apply for the charter school.
At this point I've pretty much ruled out the charter school. It's free and it's all day kindergarten, but I just haven't heard too many great things. 
Next week I'll be meeting with the principal at the school where my daughters currently go to preschool. We're not "zoned" for that school, but it offers tuition-based all day kindergarten. (It's a public school, so it also has free half-day kindergarten). The principal said he wants to "talk" to me about our options, so I'm hoping this means he's thinking about giving me a huge break on tuition so full day kindergarten would be an option. Either way, I want to hear what he has to say and get his take on how to split my daughters up for kindergarten. (The charter school basically said it's their policy to split. My feeling is I should have some say in how it's done). Next, I'll be making an appointment to talk with the principal at the school we're zoned for.
So, all you parents out there... what questions did you ask or will you ask as your children prepare to enter kindergarten?

November 02, 2010

Vivid Nightmares

I'm pretty sure I've posted before about my nightmares/night terrors. I'm not sure my bad dreams even fall into either of those categories. I often wake during a bad dream and am convinced I'm still in that dream. Typically it involves spiders or people in my room. For instance, I'll be convinced a huge spider is coming down on me from the ceiling...and I'll wake up in a dark room with zero visibility and be convinced I can see the spider. Or I'll be having a dream (not even a nightmare) during which someone is talking to me. I'll awake thoroughly confused and cannot figure out how/why that person is in my house.
For awhile, I was convinced Sue Sue had inherited my sleeping habits. She would regularly whine in her sleep and I couldn't wake her from her slumber to help her feel better. She hasn't done that for months, so I'm hoping whatever was bothering her has passed. For me, these vivid dreams happen mostly when I'm stressed or really tired. Some nights I even mentally prepare myself before I go to bed, knowing I'll likely have some type of vivid dream.
Last night, something fairly bizarre happened. I went upstairs to go to bed and was giving each of my daughters a final kiss. Cakes sat up in bed. I leaned over and asked her if she was OK. She started hitting me and scratching at me. She grabbed my glasses and threw them on the floor. I actually had to grab her arms to stop her... and then she went back to sleep. She claims to have no memory of this incident.
I'm not surprised by her actions. Who knows what she was dreaming about, but I'm convinced whatever it was carried over into her seeing me in her room. I once was having a bad dream, felt myself waking up from it screaming, but then became terrified because in my dream/reality someone was holding me down. Hubby had felt me start to go into a panic over my dream and in his sleep-induced state, thought the best thing to calm me down was to put his arm over my chest so I wouldn't start flailing around. Let's just say he is under strict instructions to never, ever try that method again.
Nightmares, night terrors, vivid dreams, whatever you want to call them, they're no fun. I just hope for my daughters' sakes, these tumultuous nights are few and far between.

November 01, 2010

I'm Not Trendy

When I was growing up, my parents reluctantly allowed me to keep up with the trends of the time... sort of. I received a Cabbage Patch Kid at Christmas, but only by default. If I remember the story my mom later told me, one of my aunts worked at a toy store and bought some extra dolls. One of my friend's moms wanted one of the dolls to give my friend for Christmas, but changed her mind at the last minute. My parents, who had spent months assuring me I would never, ever in my entire life get a Cabbage Patch Kid, decided to give me the "unwanted" one. Score.
In middle school, everyone wore a Coca-Cola rugby shirt. If you're in your 30's or beyond, you know the shirts I'm talking about. They were red and white and in the white stripe said "Coca-Cola." I'm a little fuzzy on the details of how I got mine. I either received it as a birthday gift or a hand-me-down. Either way, it wasn't bought during a back-to-school shopping spree, like the rest of my friends.
It's not that I grew up without "things." I just think my parents tried to draw a line. Sure, they indulged me, but if it wasn't a birthday or Christmas, chances are I was going to have to wait, trendy or not.
So here I am trying to keep up with the "must haves" for my daughters and I've learned I'm woefully out of the loop. Sure, somehow last Christmas I managed to figure out Pillow Pets would be THE gift of that year... and this year, too, based on the number of kids I've heard asking for them for Christmas already. But other than that, I guess I need to start paying attention. 
A few months ago I bought my daughters back to school shoes. They were on clearance and I had coupons. They were a bargain. They're cute. They have sparkles. When I showed my girls, one of them said "Oh, I think they're Twinkle Toes." I thought she was saying that because they're sparkly. Nope. I found out later there's an actual brand of sparkly shoes called Twinkle Toes... but that's not what I bought. (Nor would I because there is no way I am spending full price on four pairs of shoes!)
Last week, Halloween cards arrived from my aunt. Tucked in each card was a bracelet for my daughters. Each bracelet was a shape. "Snap bands!" they cried. What? I did some investigating at work and found out Snap Bands are quite popular right now... even among older kids. In fact one mom was telling me they've been banned at her daughter's school because they're too "distracting." Kids are trading them and arguing over them. 
So here I am, with four five-year-olds, realizing that I'm going to be in big trouble when I have four teenagers. I'll have no idea what's "hip"... and that probably won't be an acceptable term by then!