October 26, 2010

The Preschool Troublemaker

Every class has a troublemaker. Sometimes it's a class clown who likes the attention. Sometimes it's a child who has behavioral issues. Sometimes it's a child who just can't get her act together.
Within the first few days of this school year, I knew "Becky" would be the troublemaker. Becky runs around while all the other kids are lined up at the fence in the morning. Becky pushes kids on the playground. Becky doesn't stay in line while walking to the classroom. Becky just bit one of my daughters.
Yes. She BIT one of my girls. Hubby called me at work yesterday to tell me the teacher had left a message indicating Roo was bitten by "another student." (Well, duh, if she bit herself you wouldn't be calling). Becky was at the top of my list of culprits. 
At first, I took it all in stride. OK, so in the history of preschool, my daughter is not the first child to be bitten. The message indicated the skin hadn't been broken, so the risk of infection seemed slim. But since I had to finish my work day, I had plenty of time to start stewing. Someone BIT my daughter. She didn't hit her. Didn't pinch her. She bit her. 
My daughters have never bitten any child... other than their sisters, of course. So I'm trying to remind myself that it's a learning process. Becky doesn't have siblings close to her age. She's learning how to get along with her peers. I'm willing to overlook this and not bring it up again. I'm hoping the teacher follows through on her promise to talk with Becky's mom. (Hey, if my kid bites someone, I want to know so I can do some disciplining at home, too).
Except this morning, Roo said she hoped Becky was sick and not at school today. Then Cakes said Becky yelled in her ear and pushed her the other day. I told each of my daughters that if they want to play with Becky at school, that's fine. But if they don't want to play with her, that's fine, too. Part of preschool is learning how to get along with everyone... but it's also learning how to start standing up for yourself and making decisions about right and wrong. Let's just hope the rest of the week goes on without any incidents.

October 25, 2010


We finally had some time to carve pumpkins. I've realized that for kids, pumpkin carving is a lot of fun. For adults... maybe not so much. It's exhausting! It took us two hours to get all four of our pumpkins gutted and carved!
Actually, it was pretty fun. Hubby and I stipulated at the beginning that we wouldn't be doing anything too elaborate. No Dora (yes, one of them requested that), no cats, nothing but easy shapes. Each of the girls picked a pumpkin (we couldn't remember who picked which one at the pumpkin patch the week before) and gave us directions on the "shapes" they wanted. Sue Sue and I had fun making a "surprised" face. She also requested "star eyes." The other three girls stuck to circles, triangles and squares. The bonus? While Hubby and I did the knife work, the girls wore themselves out riding bikes and playing in our driveway.
Eventually I'll give them more opportunities to help with the carving, but for now they're happy just giving directions. Unfortunately, I forgot to buy votive candles, so our Jack-o-Lanterns have yet to light up. Here's our finished work:
 Spooky, huh?

October 19, 2010

Sponge Bob and Madonna

When I was growing up, my parents didn't care what "everyone else" was watching. They made decisions about what I could watch (movies and TV) and made it clear that there were reasons behind those decisions. For instance, I remember in either fifth or sixth grade, a classmate had a slumber party. Excitement built as she informed us that we would be watching Desperately Seeking Susan. Then my world shattered when my mom told me I couldn't watch the movie. (Hey, I was in elementary school. It seemed like a devastating thing at the time). She called the host's mom and after a long discussion, the mom agreed to switch movies. I think we ended up watching Hairspray (the original version). I remember my mom explaining to me that Desperately Seeking Susan just wasn't appropriate for elementary school kids and, quite frankly, there wasn't really room for me to argue. Every now and then the movie is on cable. I still have not been able to bring myself to watch it. Here I am my 30's and I'm afraid I might get grounded for watching it!
Now it's my turn to police what my children watch. I don't want you to think we're glued to the TV. We're not. We do get out. We spend time at parks. We go to the library. There are days the TV is never on. But there are days it is on... and that's where it becomes my job to figure out what they can and cannot watch. My biggest "no" is Sponge Bob Square Pants. I will be honest here. I have never sat through an episode of this show. It appears to be ridiculous and that's enough for me. Plus, I'm just not keen on a character whose butt crack is always showing. My girls know they're not allowed to watch it and will even tell me if it's coming on next. At a birthday party a few months ago they were concerned they wouldn't be allowed to have cake because it was a Sponge Bob cake. I explained to them that while I think it's a silly show, they can certainly enjoy a Sponge Bob party... and I've even told them if they watch an episode here and there I'm not going to be upset. (For all you Sponge Bob lovers who are getting ready to leave me comments about why he's so great, just consider this... do your kids watch Yo Gabba Gabba? I can't tell you the number of parents I've met who think YGG is creepy but looooove the sponge who lives under the sea).
A week ago, grandma brought over the movie Matilda. As politely as possible, I explained to her that my girls aren't ready for this movie... and it's not just because I can't stand Mara Wilson. (Seriously, child actors who try to be to cutesy by lisping in movies, such as her role in Mrs. Doubtfire, are near the top of my list of pet peeves.) While I haven't seen the entire movie, I've seen bits and pieces of it, and it just seemed too dark for five-year-olds. I know what frightens my girls and I think this movie would disturb them.
Eventually, I won't have as much control over what they watch. They'll go to friend's houses and do as they please. But who knows... when they're adults they may see an episode of Sponge Bob on TV and, like my Desperately Seeking Susan moments, remember that Mommy said "no."

October 18, 2010

This Was Bound to Happen

I knew this day, or perhaps I should say "night," was coming. For several years running, I have had four little girls who would go to bed at 6:30 pm, settle down by about 7 pm, and not wake until 7 am. Yes, I was spoiled. During the summer, I started thinking the early bed time might be on it's way out, but with our days packed with swimming, trips to the park, etc., usually everyone was worn out and ready for bed. I didn't want to tweak the schedule until after school started, so I could get an idea of whether school would wear them out. They need to be up by 6:45 am on school days, so I wanted to make sure they were getting enough rest.
Apparently they were, because for nearly a week they were rising by 5 am. After a few days of that, and realizing it was no freak occurrence, I took immediate action. First I pushed bed time to 7 pm... meaning going upstairs at that time, changing into pajamas, brushing teeth, telling stories and getting tucked in, a process that can take up to 30 minutes. This resulted in a 5:45/6 am wake up. Still too early for my taste. I pushed it to 7:30 pm. They now sleep (most mornings) until 6:30 am or 7 am. Score! 
You may recall I was reluctant to change bed time because I have two good sleepers and two not-so-good sleepers. Cakes and Tortilla are out like a light, regardless of what time they go to bed. In fact, Cakes now asks around 7 pm if she can go to bed. Sue Sue and Roo, though, like to read books, talk, get a drink, go to the bathroom... anything to avoid going to sleep. This later bed time has been good for curbing the nightly mischief. They're asleep within a half hour.
It makes for a hectic nightly routine for me. By 8 pm I'm exhausted, ready to sit down and veg out. But, the trade off is nice... no more rising before the sun!

October 17, 2010

Date Night

****I have no idea why, but this post never posted on Wednesday. And I was too busy to notice!
For the first time in eight months, Hubby and I have a date night tonight. I won't get into the reasons why it has taken eight months for us to go out because it will just reek of stress and drama. We are going out for his birthday, but I will be the one celebrating!
So, lest you think my marriage is in trouble. Hubby and I are, by nature, homebodies. Yes, we need date nights more often than every eight months, but we'll survive. We enjoy watching movies together. We have certain shows that we just HAVE to watch each week. (Right now our obsession is Eastbound & Down. It's hilarious). Still, it's going to be nice to get out and have an uninterrupted conversation!

October 12, 2010

My Matching Days are Over

Throughout their lives, I've tried not to overdo "matching outfits" for my daughters. Sometimes, though, I just couldn't help it. Professional portraits always called for matching outfits. It just looks better that way (in my opinion). Christmas always meant matching dresses.... such beautiful pictures. Halloween was a no-brainer: Go with a theme so no one fought. At the tender age of five, my daughters have decided they don't always want to match.
In hindsight, it all began two years ago. As we prepared for preschool, I took them shopping for backpacks. There were several designs. As each girl picked, I made sure to tell the next sister that she could pick the same thing. There, in the back pack aisle, I swear all four girls rolled their eyes at me (and they weren't even three years old!) Their expressions seemed to say "We CAN'T have the same backpack!" Now, as we approach Halloween, not a single one of them has requested the same outfit... not even a theme! (If you'll recall, I will be walking the neighborhood with Sleeping Beauty, Tinkerbell, Minnie Mouse and a ballerina). Over the weekend I let the girls go online and pick out their Christmas dresses (coupons and free shipping made it the perfect time to look). I took each of them into the living room one at a time, sat them down in front of the computer and let them look at their choices. My only rule? No short sleeves. They all picked really cute dresses and none of them chose an identical dress.
Don't get me wrong. I truly don't mind that they aren't picking the same things. When my daughters started preschool I made it a rule that they can't wear matching outfits. I want them to be seen as individuals, rather than "The Quads." (OK, on school picture day I still dress them alike because the photographer does a family group shot if siblings attend the school. One day out of the year won't lead to an identity crisis). So while my holiday pictures will no longer include matching dresses or costumes (well, not this year. Who knows what they'll pick next year), at least my daughters are starting to express what they like... even if their sisters have a different opinion.

October 11, 2010

I Need More "Adult Time"

When you are a parent, you quickly realize things change. Your priorities, your desires, and, inevitably, the way you speak. I am constantly using "preschool language," even when I'm only in the company of adults.
For instance, just the other day Hubby was helping me put the girls to bed. I asked him to take over brushing their teeth because, and I quote "I need to go potty." Keep in mind, none of the girls were around when I said this. About a year ago, I told Hubby "You need to call your mommy." These words have become such a major part of my language that I don't even think twice about using them. I've caught myself just as I'm ready to "shush" an adult for not using "inside voices." After I drop my girls off at preschool, I will be blocks away before I realize  not only am I still listening to their CD, but I'm singing along!
I once brought this topic up on a message board. A mom of triplets said she was driving somewhere with a friend... no kids in the car. Suddenly, she pointed "Look! A train!" Her friend was a mom and understood. 
I don't even find it embarrassing any more when I have these slip ups. It's all part of hanging around preschoolers.

October 06, 2010

The Dynamics in Preschool

Yesterday I had the chance to volunteer in my daughters' preschool class. I like doing this every now and then to see what they're learning and how they're adjusting. It's fascinating to see how much they've changed.
Two years ago, my daughters began their preschool experience. They attended twice a week. They were the youngest and the smallest in their class. They didn't interact a lot with the other kids, simply because the other kids were bigger and played rougher. Last year they attended four days a week and started making friends beyond their "sister-circle." This year? They don't need one another at all. They sit with friends during circle time. They play with friends at recess. They don't care if they're not sitting next to one another at snack time. They pick different "creative centers." It's really nice to see them gain some independence from one another and know they'll be OK when I do separate them in school.
As I've mentioned, their class is made up mainly of girls. A few new students have joined the class and the ratio is now 13 girls and 3 boys. Since little girls are known for their dominating personalities, I wondered what recess would be like. For the most, they all got along. Sure, there's the girl who wants to be in charge and the girl who wants to pester everyone, but all in all they seemed to have fun playing together. All of them. The boys weren't as willing to engage with the girls, but when they did, it wasn't a big deal.
Next week I'll be attending parent-teacher conferences. It will be interesting to get the teacher's take on how my girls are doing. My personal opinion is that they're thriving and loving every minute of it. Now if I can just get that feeling to last through high school we'll be set!

October 05, 2010

Where's the Q?

Last Christmas, I spotted the cutest ornaments. They're meant to look like decorated gingerbread cookies in the shape of letters. I saw them too late and they were picked over, so I was unable to find an ornament for each of my girls. 
Since most stores are already decked out for Christmas, the ornaments are out. Guess what? There's no "Q." I realize names that begin with Q are rare. I can think of a handful. But still... if you're going to have alphabet ornaments, don't you think you would include them all? (Except maybe X, although there are plenty of boys out there named Xavier, so maybe X shouldn't be excluded, either).
I grew up rarely being able to find personalized items. When Katie, Molly and Matt were cruising around on bikes with little personalized license plates, I got nada because everyone felt my name should be spelled KristEn. Nope. Two "i"s. Even now when I make appointments and such over the phone I'm greeted with either "Ok, so it's K-r-i-s-t-e..." "No, i-n" or "C-h..." "No, it starts with a K." 
I didn't realize when my daughters were born that I saddled them with somewhat common names but with "different" spellings. It wasn't until I started looking at personalized cups, pencils and stickers that I realized I will likely never find these items for my daughters unless I go through a "do-it-yourself" company. Still, I never thought a line of alphabet ornaments would only include 25 letters!

October 04, 2010

What Happened to September?

Time is going by too fast these days. I feel like just the other day I still had time to plan our mid-September 5th birthday. The celebration is long over and now I'm concentrating on Halloween.
Despite my best intentions to make our Halloween costumes, I broke down and bought them. I only had to buy two, so I felt justified in the purchase. Tortilla received a Sleeping Beauty dress for her birthday and wants to wear that for Halloween. Done. Cakes wants to be a ballerina, which I can easily put together from our gymnastics leotards and poufy skirts from a different costume. So, armed with my 30% off at Kohl's and my employee discount, I agreed to buy Roo a Minnie Mouse costume and Sue Sue a Tinkerbell costume. (Clearly there have been some changes since I last posted about Halloween, considering one of them originally wanted to be a pirate). I felt OK with the purchases, since they can be used for dress-up clothes when Halloween is over.
This weekend we'll be headed to the pumpkin patch for my mom's of multiples group's annual Halloween party. I told Hubby to get some rest this week, since last year the girls' each picked pumpkins that weighed a good 20 pounds. I tried to carry one back to the car and made it about 10 steps before giving up. At least we had lots of pumpkin seeds to roast after the pumpkin carving.
I'm hoping Hubby gets our Halloween decorations up soon. It's hard to get into a "festive fall mood" when I'm already seeing Christmas trees everywhere I turn!