December 28, 2011

Cleaning Up the Clutter

This weekend Hubby and I will be taking on the dreaded task of trying to organize our daughters' toys. This will involve tossing anything that's broken and packing away anything that's for younger children. Typically, it takes us a day to truly organize their toys. This time, though, we're at a loss on how to make it "work." We want something that is easy for them to help us maintain, without spending tons of money on storage bins. Right now all their stuffed animals end up in one big pile in a corner. This works, as long as no other toys are thrown into the pile. We have several mesh "bins" that work to an extent for storage, but they're not good for larger toys and they rip under the pressure of heavier toys. Yesterday I checked out plastic bins, but even those seemed expensive for the amount we would need. Feel free to share how you keep your children's toys separated and organized!

December 27, 2011

Best. Christmas. Ever.

This Christmas can be summed up in one word: fantastic. We all had a blast. Everyone was over their illnesses. We had decent weather. It was truly a Christmas to remember.
We started our festivities with our annual Christmas Eve feast. We get so caught up in seeing family on Christmas Day, that I've always tried to do a dinner just for the six of us. This year my daughters decided they love stuffing. Much to Hubby's dismay we did not have much leftovers when it came to the stuffing and mashed potatoes. I also learned that a 17 pound turkey isn't big enough for the six of us if we want decent leftovers. By Christmas night we had already devoured most of the leftovers! Here I thought I would end up freezing some of the meat! I did manage to make a casserole with the dark meat since we're more of a white meat family.
On Christmas morning my girls woke up at 6:30 am, but stayed relatively quiet until 7 am. That in itself is a wonderful Christmas gift! They were each delighted to find the special gift they had asked Santa to bring and, much to my surprise, they shared those gifts with one another. Cakes let everyone try her camera. Roo let everyone test her scooter. Tortilla promised to let everyone help her bake with her Easy Bake Oven (we haven't made anything yet, but we will soon!) And even this girl, who opened her Gameboy, sat down to play it and had to be persuaded to put it down and open more gifts, has allowed her sisters to play a few games.
Clearly we're going to have to set some rules for the Gameboy, but for now I'm letting her play her heart out.
I had to work last night and spent most of yesterday doing laundry, but Hubby and the girls spent the day playing Legos. It was definitely a great Christmas and I hope you all had a memorable day as well!

December 21, 2011

I Have How Many Days Left?!

Christmas definitely snuck up on me this year. I managed to get most of my shopping done by the beginning of December, but little things keep popping up. For instance, I realized yesterday I have two things to put in each stocking. Fortunately, Hubby picked up some small candies at the store, so I think we're set.
But I still have to wrap. Ugh. Every year I swear I'm not going to wait until Christmas Eve to wrap gifts. I had initially arranged for my mother in law to take my daughters out for lunch yesterday, which would have given me some time to wrap. Unfortunately, with the stomach bug that hit Tortilla, she just wasn't up for being out of the house. There went my wrapping day. I'm hoping tomorrow night I can get some wrapping done once the girls go to bed.
I have everything purchased for our Christmas Eve "feast" and the turkey is thawing, so I plan to spend Friday baking. (I have to work Christmas Eve morning so I want as much done before then as possible). We have a big snow storm headed our way tonight, so I guess it will help put me in the mood for Christmas!

December 20, 2011

The Santa Shop

Hubby and I do not buy each other Christmas gifts any more. Once our daughters were born, we decided it was more fun to put that money toward an extra gift for them. This means there are few gifts under the tree for us, usually a nice gift card or two from thoughtful family members. This year, however, our daughters visited the Santa Shop at school and picked out presents for us.
In order to keep things simple, two girls were given the task of buying gifts for me and the other two were assigned to Hubby. A few days before the actual shopping day, each class visited the shop to create their wish list. Tortilla and Roo's class went first. They each came home with a list of 10+ things. As I looked at their lists I realized they had picked out gifts for themselves! We had a long discussion about giving to others and they were able to find some items on their lists within their budget ($5 each) to buy on their shopping day. (Tortilla bought me a small jeweled box and a snowflake pin. Roo bought Hubby a singing Santa pen and a turtle figurine). Before Cakes and Sue Sue went to look at the shop I reminded them who they were shopping for and encouraged them to put things on their lists that only Mommy and Daddy would like. They each came home with one item on their list. Cakes wanted to buy a "mom" Christmas ornament and Sue Sue wanted to buy a pennant for our local NFL team. Since I wasn't thinking, I only sent them with the exact amount of the gifts they picked out, rather than the $5 budget. Sue Sue had to settle for an NBA pennant and the mom ornament was sold out. Fortunately a "helper" at the shop found something for Cakes to buy that was the exact same price as the ornament. I will be receiving a "fancy" pink heart ring. It's pretty much the kind of ring you get from a gumball machine, but Cakes is so excited that I am actually very excited about it, too. 
That's what it comes down to. They are so excited to be giving us gifts that they picked out. They don't know that I know what all the gifts are and I'm not letting on that I know. They keep whispering to one another about what they bought and how they think we'll react on Christmas morning. It's giving them a small sense of what it means to give at Christmas and I know we will treasure these gifts. Of course, I've already told Hubby his singing Santa pen that doesn't have an off switch can only be used at work!

December 19, 2011

It Wouldn't Be Christmas Without...

Someone being sick. Every Christmas means we are treated to some type of virus going through our house. A few years ago Sue Sue ended up in the emergency room just a week before Christmas. She had croup. By Christmas Eve I had what I describe as "the adult version of croup." It knocked me on my back for an entire weekend (including the day after Christmas). Since then, at least one of us ends up with something right around Christmas.
This year is no different. I've spent a week battling a cold. I think I'm finally on the mend, but now Tortilla is suffering from a stomach bug. I'm finally getting her to keep down liquids, so that seems promising. She's asking for soup for lunch, so I hope that means she's starting to recuperate. 
So far, though, we're still managing to get things done as we approach Christmas. As long as I have everyone healthy on Christmas Day, I won't complain (too much)!

December 12, 2011

Thank Goodness for One Hour Photo

Every kindergarten student in our school spends a week being the "Marvelous Me." Each week the chosen student (one per class) takes home a gigantic piece of paper. Parents help her trace her body, cut it out and then decorate the paper with stickers, pictures, etc. So far three of my girls have been the Marvelous Me. It gets easier with each one because we know what did and didn't work the time before. 
At the end of their chosen week, the student gets to spend the weekend with the "class mascot." They bring home a bag with a few books, a stuffed animal and a binder. They have fun. I on the other hand dread the class mascot. Why? Because in the binder each student has to record what she did with the mascot. 
Sue Sue was the very first student in her class to bring home the mascot. This was difficult because I had no ideas from previous students. I decided to go "simple." I took four pictures of her with the stuffed animal (eating, playing, reading and sleeping) and she wrote a sentence about each one. I certainly didn't want to be the mom who set the bar too high! Of course her weekend with the mascot was an incredibly busy one, so I found myself racing to a nearby one hour photo store at the end of the weekend to get her pictures and finish the binder. A few weeks later Cakes brought home the same mascot and binder. I was relieved to see that the other students pretty much followed our lead and kept it simple (except for the one student who had 10+ pictures). 
I wish I knew the point of the class mascot binder. It's fun for the kids to bring home the books and animal, but journaling the "experience" is a bit much. Sure, the directions say you can use photos or drawings, but most parents (like me) are going to take the easy way out and do photos. At least my girls think it's fun! And it could be worse. Another parent said in her daughter's class they get the mascot just overnight, not for the weekend. They're expected to show up with pictures and/or photos the next morning. 

December 08, 2011

I Finally Got My Mother's Day Present!

Just before Mother's Day I had my daughters approach Hubby with some paint samples and say something along the lines of "We should paint the bathroom for Mommy." Our master bathroom was a nice forest green... but not bathroom appropriate. I want a bright bathroom, one that does not make me dread waking up early any more than I already do. The dark color made me grumpy. Hubby agreed to paint the bathroom, but we decided to wait until after the summer to do the project. It gets really, really hot here in the summer and Hubby wanted to make sure he could paint with the windows open.
A few weeks ago, Hubby decided it was the right time to tackle the painting project. It took him two weekends because he wanted to make sure he had enough time to fix the horrid paint job the previous owner had left behind. (Seriously, I think the previous owner just slapped paint on when he decided to sell. You can tell where he spilled some of the green paint, plus in our bedroom, which is a different color, he didn't paint all the way to the ceiling in some areas). One Saturday Hubby primed two walls and then painted those walls Sunday. He repeated this method two weekends later (it was too crazy to paint during Thanksgiving weekend). 
I think Hubby and I were stunned by several things. First of all, the paint we chose doesn't really resemble the sample I brought home. We studied that thing for weeks, months really, in various lighting. On the card it is a light beige/cream/peach (depending on the lighting). On the walls it is, well, it's pretty much pink. In natural light it's a little closer to what I thought it would be, but still has pink tones versus peach or beige. I hadn't intended on a pink bathroom, but, and this brings us to another surprising revelation, the color makes our bathroom look so much bigger. I didn't realize how much space we actually have in there until the paint job was finished. The dark green really shut down the room. This new color brightens the room and gives it a much better look. It still doesn't make me a morning person, but it doesn't make me feel "blah" in the morning.
All in all, I'm happy with the way this project turned out. It was well worth the wait! We have enough primer and paint leftover that I think we're going to transform the girls' "cat puke yellow" bathroom, too!

December 06, 2011

My Favorite Tradition

When I was younger, every Christmas Eve after church we would pile in the car and drive around looking at Christmas lights. I love seeing lights, especially when people go all out. In recent years, I've expanded this tradition with my daughters. Instead of only looking at lights on Christmas Eve, we try to go out every Saturday night in December.
We made our first trek this year over the weekend. It was fun to see what people do. There's one nearby neighborhood that has a lighting contest. On one block there are two houses where the owners must be in a fierce competition. They have their houses lit beyond all imagination... front and back yards! One of the houses even has a life-size Santa on the porch. My daughters and I joked about what it must be like for the surrounding neighbors to have those lights blazing in their bedrooms every night.
Still, not as many homes are decorated this year. I don't know if people are trying to save money or just didn't get around to it this year. We had a huge cold snap over the weekend, so maybe people are waiting for a warm up. (Hubby usually puts ours up just before Thanksgiving when it's in the 60s, but we don't turn them on until the day after Thanksgiving). One block away from us is a house that usually has lights galore and music. This year they don't have the music playing... yet. We're hoping by next weekend the sound system will be turned on!
Some day my daughters will be too old (meaning "too cool") to spend every Saturday night looking at Christmas lights with me. For now, though, I'm happy to hear all the "oohs" and "ahhhs" from the back seat! Most of these houses have more lights than Hubby would ever agree to spend time putting up, but it's still fun to get ideas for next year.

November 30, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

After the somewhat stressful process of deciding where my daughters would attend kindergarten, I thought my education decisions were over for a few years. Nope. Now I need to figure out next year!
A refresher on kindergarten choices: I had three options for my daughters. I could send them to the nearby charter school, send them to the public school we are zoned for or open enroll them into the public school where they attended preschool. I ruled out the charter school without ever speaking to anyone other than the secretary. During my initial phone call she informed me the school's policy is to separate multiples. I'm not opposed to separating my girls, but I want some say in the process. After a lengthy discussion with the principal where my daughters attended preschool, I made the decision to open enroll them there for kindergarten. First of all, he asked me to keep them there. I want my daughters in a school where they're wanted. He also told me it didn't matter how my daughters were separated in class (and also said they didn't have to be split) and left the decision to me on how to separate them. Plus, I visited the two full-day kindergarten classrooms and the teachers were fantastic. I don't regret my decisions at all. We have two wonderful teachers (which was important to me because we ended up with a not so wonderful teacher our final year of preschool) and we feel like we're part of the "school community." (I'm also on a first-name basis with the nurse/secretary as it seems she needs to call me at least every other week to alert me to a cut, scrape, fever, etc).
But now I need to start looking ahead to first grade. My daughters love school. I want that to continue, so I take this very seriously. (I know, I know. I make it sound like I'm selecting colleges!) The principal wants us to return next year. There are a lot of pros. My daughters have friends at this school. They're familiar with the school. We feel welcome. Plus one of the first grade teachers was Roo's speech therapist last year, so it would be nice to have Roo in her class. One of the reasons the teacher went to first grade is because she wanted more time with the students and felt like she could also address speech issues with those who need help.
I still have to consider the school we're zoned for. I have a meeting with the principal next week. Going to that school means my daughters would leave their friends at their current  school, but would be in classes with children from our neighborhood. I've heard good things about this school, so now it's time for me to find out for myself. I have a lot of thinking to do!

November 29, 2011

Is It My Turn for a Vacation?

We packed in a lot of activities during the girls' week off of school last week. The week included a trip to the library, a visit to our local butterfly pavilion, my midnight shift on Black Friday, a trip to the zoo for the Christmas display and to see Santa, a day of decorating the house for Christmas and, of course, Thanksgiving dinner. Phew!
It was actually nice to have the time to get out, even if it seemed we were constantly on the go. Sometimes during their school breaks the weather doesn't cooperate or work schedules don't leave room for much down time. The butterfly pavilion was crowded (we went the day before Thanksgiving) but manageable and while the nighttime visit to the zoo was chilly, we had fun looking at the lights and visiting Santa. 
Between our outings and work, I'm exhausted. My midnight to noon shift on Black Friday ended up only lasting until 9am. I came home and crashed for three hours and was in bed that night by 8:30pm. Thank goodness that's over until next year! Unlike the previous week when I dealt with an obnoxiously rude customer, on Black Friday a customer sought out my manager... and told him what exceptional service I had given her. (I swear I didn't put her up to it, either!) It was nice to end the chaotic week on a pleasant note!

November 22, 2011

Apparently They've Missed the Library

For whatever reason, kindergarten students at our school are not allowed to check out books from the library. This disappointed me because I remember how much fun library day was each week when I was in school. We have a nearby public library, which we used to visit quite a bit. With school, however, we just haven't had time.
The other day I mentioned the possibility of going to the library since school is out all this week. My girls were thrilled. Then I decided to capitalize on their excitement. Want to go to the library? Your rooms have to be clean. 
It worked like a charm. They cleaned their rooms without complaint. They purged the stuffed animals from their beds (one of them had at least 20 toys on her bed) and even crawled under their beds to retrieve books and more toys. Then one of the girls said "I bet we have to clean the entire downstairs, too, if we want to go to the library." They were game, so the house is in decent shape!
We'll be heading to the library soon to find some books and movies to keep all of us occupied this week.

November 21, 2011

Tis the Season... for Rudeness

Working retail means I definitely have my fill of rude customers. For the most part, I like interacting with people, but in the last week I encountered two women who were hard to deal with.
The first one I was at least able to help and send her on her way. The second woman, however, was clearly in a bad mood and felt it was best to take it out on me. 
I made a mistake in her transaction and when she pointed it out to me, I promptly apologized. She berated me and then demanded a manager. Then, when the manager arrived, she yelled some more and went into some racist tangent about illegal immigrants. It's really not worth explaining. I'm a blonde haired, blue-eyed, fair skinned American. I'm still trying to figure out the connection between what happened and illegal immigrants. (The woman behind her in line had no problem looking at the woman and telling her she was out of control, along with using some choice profanity. I must admit, I appreciated the fact that someone was standing up to the rude lady).
It bothers me when people are this rude and cruel. Clearly this particular customer's intent was to degrade and belittle me. Why? Who knows. Because she had a bad day? Because I'm a service worker and she knows I can't fight back without risking my job? Because she thinks anyone who works retail must not be educated? I've left stores angry over service issues, but I've never gone so far as to berate an employee. If I'm that hot over something, I'll go home and think about it. If it still bothers me, I'll write either corporate headquarters or the store's manager. On the other hand, if someone goes above and beyond, I'll write a glowing letter to corporate to let them know how much I appreciated the service.
I can usually blow off rude customer encounters. This one, however, has been hard to shake. It's not even Black Friday and already the overly rude customers are making themselves known. I'm a little worried about what's in store for the rest of this holiday season.

November 17, 2011

I Waited Too Long

Christmas shopping has been fairly stress-free this year. I've been using the gift cards I racked up through Swagbucks, so we aren't really paying for much. But, as luck has it, the one item Tortilla wants is becoming impossible to find.
She wants an Easy Bake Ultimate Oven. She's already talking about how we will no longer need to buy birthday cakes because she will make them all. I had it "saved" in  my cart through Amazon, but, apparently I'm a little too thrifty.  As I waited to see if the price would drop below $39.99 closer to Black Friday, it suddenly was out of stock. Now it's back on the site for.... wait for it... $52. (The other day it was $63!) I am not shelling out that much for a pretend oven, even if you can make cakes and pretzels in it. I don't care if my gift cards would cover the $52. Not doing it. Kohl's doesn't carry it. Toys R Us was out. I ordered the oven from another retailer, and if the price on Amazon drops, I'll return the other one. These cakes better be delicious!

November 14, 2011

Where Are the Leftovers?

I'm not ashamed to admit that for several years I've been making two separate dinners: one for my daughters, one for Hubby and me. They were so picky that making one meal for all six of us was a huge waste of food. Dinner with four is so hectic that it becomes easier for us to eat later. Most of the time we're so busy handling refills, etc. that we don't get to enjoy our meal. Lately, though, I've been trying to encourage my daughters to try new foods... meaning the same things we will be eating later. It's so much easier to pop in a casserole or a crockpot meal that will feed everyone, rather than try to figure out two different meals.
It's been an interesting experiment. They're not excited by acorn squash, but they devour spaghetti squash. Three of them like my white chicken chili and all of them ate pot roast and some asked for seconds. Hubby and I are glad they're trying new things, but it means we no longer have the luxury of taking leftovers for lunch the next day. Hubby was really trying to ration his pot roast serving so he would have something left for lunch. I think we had a small container of chili leftover, compared to the huge bowl of leftovers when just Hubby and I ate it.
So what does this mean? I'm going to have to calculate larger servings when I cook so we can still reap the benefits of leftovers.

November 09, 2011

What Do You Do With Your Clothes?

I've written before about how great the clothing sale is that's put on by my moms of multiples group. We hold it two times a year and we all tend to unload a lot of clothes and bring in some extra cash. Unfortunately, no one currently wants to head up the ginormous work of coordinating the spring sale. No dates have been locked in and it's looking like the spring sale is a no go. Bummer!
I have four Rubbermaid bins and one garbage bag full of clothes and toys just waiting to be sold. Have any of you sold children's clothes through Ebay? Is it worth my time? How do I figure in shipping costs? I'm seriously considering going the Ebay route with roughly 20 items to see if it works. 
Have any of you gone to a local consignment shop? I'm not sure how I feel about consignment since most stores give you a date to pick up whatever hasn't sold. I've read good and bad things about Once Upon a Child, which gives you cash on the spot. Anyone have an opinion?
A group called Just Between Friends hosts a sale twice a year near my home. The commission structure is similar to my moms of multiples group, but their "suggested pricing guide" is pretty high. I price my thing to sell and make a little bit of money to boot. I don't expect to be rolling in cash after the sales. 
To be clear: I do donate to local charities. A lot. As I prepare for the sale I make a few piles: things to pass on to friends, things to donate to the charity that has me on speed dial and things to sell. Right before our sale last month I gave one bag of clothes to a mom with triplets and donated four bags to the aforementioned charity. I like donating and knowing the clothes will either help a friend or help a charity. Still, there are some items I have that are in excellent condition and could definitely bring in some much needed cash to our bank account. (And just for the record, I don't donate stained, icky clothes. I currently have two bags in the basement to donate that are full of hats, jeans and tops, all in great condition. I tend to donate the items that seem too tedious to tag for the sales).
So, anyone?! I'm open to suggestions on how to bring in a little extra income for the "higher end" items that my girls have outgrown.

November 08, 2011

My How Times Have Changed

As part of the nightly homework in kindergarten, we are required to read together. This is not a big deal because my daughters love books. We started out letting each of them pick a book and reading to them one on one. For their birthday I gave them the complete set of Ramona books, so we have been working our way through those. (We actually read Beezus and Ramona about a year ago). 
You can tell the books were not written recently. The language is a little more proper than what we use today and every now and then my girls have to ask "what does that mean?" In one of the books I had censor what I was reading because Ramona was intent on proving that her dad was the Tooth Fairy. Not all of my girls have lost their first tooth so I'm not ready to spoil the magic.
We are currently reading Ramona and Her Father. I really struggled with last night's chapter. This book mentions quite often that Ramona's father smokes. After dinner he'll ask Ramona to get him an ashtray. Last night's chapter focused on his smoking and kept describing the smoke rings that he would blow. Ramona and Beezus spent the chapter trying to convince their dad to quit his habit. Let's face it, if this book were written today I'm pretty sure all references to Mr. Quimby's smoking would have been removed. It certainly never came up in the movie based on the books. 
Hubby and I don't smoke. No one in our family smokes, although he and I grew up around grandparents who smoked... a lot. I'm sure my daughters have seen people smoking when we're out and about, but it's never been an issue. I ended up using last night's chapter as a stepping stone to a bigger conversation: why you shouldn't smoke. It was a little bit much for them to comprehend, but I just couldn't read that chapter without making a point. I knew someday I would have to start addressing these issues, I was just a bit surprised that Ramona Q. initiated the conversation.

November 07, 2011

DST, Ruining My Routine Once Again

I used to love "falling back." Turning the clocks back an hour meant an extra hour of sleep. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way with children. I have never once enjoyed an extra hour of sleep with my girls around. Yesterday they slept until what would have been 7:30 am just the day before. Today, they were up before the alarm for school. The last few weeks have been great. It's been dark until about 7 am or so, and I've had to wake them up for school. Now that we have set the clocks back an hour, I'll be lucky if they make it to 6:30 am! The sun is now up earlier and I guess we will be, too! One of these days my daughters will understand the luxury of sleeping in. Until then, I'll just have to hope they continue to whisper when they wake up.

November 01, 2011

The Winners Are...

The three winners of the Shutterfly giveaway are:

  • Heather
  • Ashamuhlee
  • mmunford2000

If you have not received an email from me within the next 24 hours with your promo code, PLEASE contact me! Thanks to everyone who entered.

She Picked a Twizzler?!

Until recently, I was a major chocoholic (chocaholic?!). My mom loved chocolate, so, naturally, I loved it, too. This, of course, became an issue around first grade when we learned I was allergic to caffeine (although now-a-days, doctors would say I have an "intolerance," not an allergy). Over the years I learned how much I could eat without becoming sick.
I used to need chocolate on hand at all times. I would buy bags of the miniature chocolate bars so if I had a craving I could cure it. One little mini and I was good. Two made  my stomach hurt. I can't remember the last time I wanted chocolate, so it has been quite some time since we've had bags of mini chocs in the house.
Last night was a chocoholics dream... Halloween. Almost every house gave out chocolate. My girls surprised me. Early in the day they said "If we're really good can we have one piece of candy after we trick or treat?" One?! Yes. When we came home I let them go through their buckets and pick out one piece of candy. Tortilla picked a mini box of Milk Duds (mmmmm), Sue Sue picked an mini Almond Joy (ick, coconut?), Roo picked a mini Twix (my fav, especially when frozen) and Cakes picked a Twizzler. What?! Heck no. I told her to pick something better. There's nothing wrong with Twizzlers. When I was pregnant and not really keeping down anything I could keep down Twizzlers. But honestly, if you're shown 50+ pieces of candy and told to pick one, why would you pick a Twizzler?! Cakes picked again and decided on a Twix. Good girl. Unfortunately, as I went through the candy bags I realized they had received two, count 'em TWO Twix and those were just eaten by Roo and Cakes. Sigh. Well, at least Hubby has a plethora of his favorite... Almond Joy.
Time is running out to enter my Shutterfly giveaway!

October 31, 2011

They Have Their Daddy's Sense of Humor

Hubby and I do not share the same sense of humor. What he finds hysterical, I might think "eh" and vice versa. He, however, is always making jokes and fancies himself a true comedian. Often times he'll tap a fake microphone and question "Is this thing on?" when I fail to double over at his jokes. Sometimes he actually is pretty funny, but our girls are apparently inheriting his questionable humor. Here are the recent gems I have been treated to:

  • "We're going faster than a one legged goat." (I have no idea what inspired one of my girls to say this. I actually found it quite funny, simply because it makes no sense).
  • "I'm sweating more than a turkey at Thanksgiving."
The list goes on and on. I really need to start writing these things down. At least they're starting to understand the concept of "funny" and "jokes." In the past I was treated to endless knock knock jokes that went something like this: 

  • "Knock knock"
  • "Who's there?"
  • "Gorilla"
  • "Gorilla who?
  • "I want to go swimming"
Time is running out to enter my Shutterfly giveaway. This is definitely a fun giveaway to help reduce your budget for your holiday cards!

October 25, 2011

Pumpkin Weight Limits

A few years ago, my moms of multiples group had its annual Halloween party at a local pumpkin farm. This place is awesome. You can go out to various fields, pick your pumpkin and cut it yourself. We've been going to that farm ever since the party. 
The first time we went, Hubby and I were having so much fun that we let the girls each pick whatever pumpkin they wanted. Watching Hubby struggle to carry each of the pumpkins to the car made us realize we had to set some limits. There was no way I could help him with any of the pumpkins that year because they were so big. Carving them was a real challenge, too. So much pulp to pull out... but plenty of pumpkin seeds to roast.
This year we steered our girls toward smaller pumpkins. If they couldn't lift them, we weren't taking them. (By the way, this particular pumpkin farm charges you by the pumpkin, not by the pound, which makes for a relatively cheap outing, especially since there's no admission fee). They found reasonable pumpkins, thank goodness. On Sunday we got out markers and let them draw the faces they wanted, then Hubby and I carved them. 
I think they turned out pretty nice. You can't tell in this picture, but the pumpkin on the far left has eyelashes. Roo added those with a marker because she wanted to make sure everyone knew it's a girl pumpkin.
This is the first year my girls have enjoyed roasted pumpkin seeds. In the past they would try one and that was it. This time Hubby and I were fighting them for the last few seeds! (I coated the seeds with olive oil, sprinkled on some seasoned salt and roasted them for 30 minutes at 300. Perfect!) I would say we're ready for Halloween!
There's still time to enter my Shutterfly giveaway for your chance to win 25 free cards!

October 24, 2011

We're Not in Preschool Anymore

When my daughters started preschool I made an effort to spend some time in their class. It was fun to help out and get an idea of what they do on a daily basis. When the kindergarten teachers asked for classroom volunteers this year, I gladly signed up. Volunteering in kindergarten is nothing like volunteering in preschool. They actually put us to work!
I don't mind the work. I help out on Fridays, which is the day the homework folders are due. I usually sort out all the homework and prepare the folders for next week. Last week it took me about an hour to get all the papers sorted, so at least I saved the teacher one hour of extra work. This week will be my first time in the other kindergarten class, so it will be interesting to see what kind of work that teacher has for me.
I'm not as comfortable with the idea of pulling individual students out of the class to work with them. To me, that seems like more of a teacher or aide job. I don't mind helping the kids out as a group, but it seems awkward to have to take a child that I don't really know out of the class to essentially tutor him. 
My daughters aren't so keen on the fact that I'm put to work while I'm there. They remember preschool and being able to sit with me during my "volunteer" time. I've tried to explain to them that there's a lot more work to be done in kindergarten, so it's nice for the teacher to have some helpers. Do I miss sitting on the carpet and singing songs? Sure. But I'm usually there during their first work assignment, so I make sure to spend time with each of my daughters while they're doing their projects. Even though it's not all fun and games in kindergarten, they still seem excited to have me there.
Don't forget to enter my Shutterfly giveaway! Three lucky readers will each win 25 free cards.

October 21, 2011

Christmas Card Blunder (Giveaway)

The other day I was looking at one of the pictures we used three years ago for our Christmas card. It's a really cute picture of all four of our girls on a field trip at a local farm. They were three and it was their first preschool field trip. The picture is really sweet... until I started studying it and realized one of the girls is using her middle finger to point at the sky. How did it take me THREE years to figure this out?! Oh, and when I mentioned it to Hubby, he gave me an incredulous look and said "You're just now noticing that?" Thanks for the heads up, hon! Maybe most people never noticed it... or they're just too polite to point it out.
Picking out our annual Christmas cards is one of my favorite holiday traditions. School pictures are expensive, so this is the easiest way to give many friends and family a yearly picture. It takes many, many, many snaps to catch the perfect picture, but we usually have a lot of fun doing it.
Last year, Shutterfly gave bloggers a chance to write about their products and receive free holiday cards. The program is in place again, so of course I'm all over it. But this time, I also get to give three readers 25 free cards each! (More on that in a moment).
Shutterfly has long been one of my favorite photo sites. Before my girls were even a twinkle in my eye, I surprised my dad by making a calendar out of a bunch of photos he had taken. Once my daughters were born, I tried not to overdo it on the photo books. (They're so easy to make!)
I'm definitely excited about the prospect of creating our Christmas cards this year. My daughters understand the concept of "show me your best smiles." They rush to the camera after we take photos so they can see how the shots turned out (Ah, the delight of the digital age). This is the type of picture Hubby would prefer to use (those are Rudolph noses), but I usually go the Christmas dress route. (and yes, those are two of my girls!)

By now, you're wondering how to receive your own free cards through Shutterfly. If you're a blogger, you can register here for a chance to receive 25 free cards. 
And, as I mentioned, Shutterfly is giving three lucky Buried in Laundry readers 25 free cards as well. To enter this giveaway: (leave a separate comment for each entry)

  • Visit Shutterfly and tell me which holiday card you like the best. No links necessary, just the "title" will do. This step is mandatory. No other entries will count without this step.
  • Become a follower of Buried in Laundry or leave a comment letting me know you already follow.
  • Tweet about this giveaway (one tweet per day). Include @quadmamablog in your tweet. (Remember to leave a comment here each time you tweet).
  • Blog about this giveaway and include a link back to this post.
Again, please leave a separate comment for each entry. You must include a valid email address in your comment!
The deadline to enter this giveaway is 5pm MST November 1, 2011. Once the winners are notified, they each have 48 hours to contact me with their mailing information or a replacement will be selected. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.   If you don't follow the mandatory entry, no other entries will be counted.
(Disclosure: Shutterfly supplied me with 50 free holiday cards and will be providing 25 free cards to each of the three winners. No monetary compensation was given for this post. All opinions are mine).

The Winners Are...

Three entries, three coupons to giveaway... this was easy. The winners of the Renuzit Fresh Accents Holiday Air Freshener giveaway are:

  • MaryAnne
  • Sarah
  • mmunford2000 (I can't find your email address!! Please email me ASAP at the address under my profile or leave a comment with your info so I can contact you!)

October 19, 2011

Add Some Fun to Dinner

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook and I decided to give it a try. It's actually easy to make. One thing I learned: it's easier to put the spaghetti in turkey dogs than in beef franks. I usually only give my girls turkey dogs, but someone had given us kosher hot dogs, which is why I had both in the fridge. I didn't make a whole lot because I had no idea what the reaction would be. They all asked for seconds and my pickiest, who hates to try anything new even if it's made with food she knows she likes, declared the spaghetti dogs to be "Awesome!"
Don't forget to check out my Renuzit Fresh Accents giveaway.

October 18, 2011

Bumblebee Wings Aren't Easy to Find

Every year as we approach Halloween I wait to find out what my daughters want to be before I decide if I'll make the costumes or buy them. Two years ago they were all flowers. Easy. I made them. Last year I ended up buying their costumes because three of them received dress up costumes for their birthday and wanted to wear the outfits for Halloween (meaning I only had to buy one costume). This year I decided to tackle the costumes myself because they seemed easy enough: unicorn, ladybug, bumblebee and Smurfette.
First I headed to a local big box store and found legging with coordinating tops: two black outfits for the ladybug and bumblebee, a pink  outfit for the unicorn and (duh) blue for Smurfette. While looking for ladybug antennae I found a really inexpensive antennae and wing set. Ladybug done! At the same store I found a bumblebee antennae and stinger. I bought it thinking the wings would be easy. I'll get to that in a minute.
I had the unicorn costume all planned out: yarn would be easy to make into the mane and tail and then I could use black construction paper for the hooves. Then at my moms of multiples sale I spied a unicorn costume... it's a head and hooves. For what the seller was asking, I scooped it up, but will still have to make a tail. 
We ventured to the fabric store on Sunday (don't ever go to the fabric store on a weekend leading up to Halloween. We waited a good 15 minutes before our number was called at the cutting table). We bought felt for Smurfette's dress and hat, so now we (me?!) need to get cracking on actually making it.
Which brings me back to the bumblebee wings. Did you know you can buy wings in nearly every color EXCEPT for a color that would seem reasonable for a bumblebee? I looked for white, black and yellow. Everything I found was pink, green or purple. I looked through various websites for ideas, but everything seemed too complicated or too ridiculous. We finally found some adult sized yellow wings, but I wasn't convinced they would work. Next to the fabric store was a Halloween store. We ran in and could only find suitable wings that came with a costume. We don't need the whole costume, just the wings. While wandering around, we found white angel wings. They're going to have to suffice. They definitely work better than the adult wings. 
Now we just need to use the yellow duct tape we bought to put stripes on the black shirt (although I was informed the other day by the bumblebee that bees are yellow with black stripes, not black with yellow stripes. Yeah? Too bad) and make Smurfette's dress. You know... in all that free time I have!
Don't forget to enter my Renuzit Fresh Accents giveaway!

October 17, 2011

The Scent of the Holidays (Giveaway)

While I'm not a fan of the weather that comes with fall and winter, I do enjoy the smells associated with those seasons. Cinnamon is one of my favorite scents and it always reminds me of a cozy winter day. As a Purex Insider, I had the chance to try a new product to keep those scents around whenever I want!
It's called Renuzit Fresh Accents Holiday Air Freshener. I tried the Festive Snow and Winter Berry scents. I have to say, I didn't really like the Festive Snow scent. It was too strong. The Winter Berry scent is nice and light. Plus it has a warm feeling to it. The fresheners last for 30 days and don't require plugs, batteries or flames! No work... that's my kind of product! Plus it features a pretty snowflake design, which will help put you in the holiday mood.
Want to try the Renuzit Fresh Accents Holiday Air Freshener for yourself? Renuzit Brand will give three lucky Buried in Laundry readers a coupon for a free freshener. Here's how to enter the giveaway: (Leave a separate comment for each entry)

  • Leave a comment telling me what scent you associate most with your favorite holiday. This step is mandatory. No other entries will be counted if you do not complete this step.
  • Tweet about this giveaway and include @quadmamablog in your tweet.
  • Blog about this giveaway and include a link back to this post.
  • Follow Buried in Laundry or leave me a comment letting me know you're already a follower.
You must leave a valid email address with your comments or have an email address in your profile that's easy to find. The deadline to enter is 1pm MST Friday October 21, 2011. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Once the winners are selected they will have 48 hours to provide me with a valid mailing address or a new winner will be selected. I reserve the right to delete any comments/entries.
(Disclosure: As a Purex Insider, I was provided with two Renuzit Fresh Accents Holiday Air Fresheners. Renuzit Brand is supplying complimentary coupons for the three winners. No monetary compensation was given for this post. All opinions are mine).

October 13, 2011

Yep. It's One of Those Weeks

Tortilla spent all weekend dealing with a nasty stomach bug. I won't give you the details, but it was brutal. By Monday, though, she was chipper and ready for school. Unfortunately, Hubby and I were both down for the count. We both woke up at 3 am, feeling the effects of Tortilla's bug. For whatever reason, Hubby decided he could get the girls to school. I didn't argue because I was miserable and I figured a child-free house would help with our recuperation. Until the school called at noon saying Sue Sue had an upset stomach. At that point, neither Hubby nor I were in any condition to go get her. Fortunately, my mother in law was able to retrieve Sue Sue (who, by the way, came home and did not appear to be the least bit sick). This is the first time we have both been violently ill at the same time. It was miserable. We managed to get through it, but it was not easy.
By Tuesday everyone seemed OK, but not 100%. Hubby and I slugged it out at work, and fell into bed around 9 pm. Wednesday I was ready to get back on track. I took everyone to school, hit the grocery store, did laundry.... and then received a phone call saying Tortilla had to leave school because she had a fever. (sigh). It didn't help that Sue Sue had an appointment in the afternoon that she couldn't miss. So I picked everyone up from school (the others were going to be picked up in an hour and a half anyway), let Tortilla rest and then went to the appointment.
By the end of the night, we were all exhausted, so it didn't help when Cakes woke up at 2 am, apparently the next victim of the bug. Today is only a half day of school, so I kept everyone home. There's no school tomorrow or Monday, so I'm really hoping everyone is better by Tuesday! Did I mention tomorrow and Saturday mark the fall sale for my moms of multiples group and I'm on the "team" that is organizing the sale. Yeah, did not need this illness this week! Oh, and today is Hubby's birthday, so we've had to cancel our night out. Thankfully, I had ribs in the freezer, so I can make my mom's "secret" rib recipe, which is one of his favorites. Now if I can just get my house disinfected... again!

October 11, 2011

Four Little Miss Independents

I was fairly "strict" about what my daughters could wear to preschool. They could choose, but only from certain items. No dresses (too much running around and sitting on the floor), no short shorts, and nothing too nice. Too many outfits came home with paint or marker that wouldn't come off. I've definitely relaxed now that the girls are in kindergarten. There aren't as many marker and paint projects, so their clothes don't risk being ruined. If they want to wear dresses, they, at their request, wear leggings or shorts underneath. 
My daughters love picking out their clothes for school. We do it the night before, mainly to avoid meltdowns if a favorite outfit is unavailable. I'm pretty sure Tortilla has worn a dress or skirt to school all but two or three days. My biggest issue now is that I don't want the teachers to think we only have two or three outfits. You see, every time I do laundry, my daughters automatically pick their favorite outfits again... which means if I were to let them they could wear the same outfit to school two or three times in one week! We've had a big talk about how you have to have some variety in your wardrobe. I've tried putting the newly washed items at the bottom of the clean clothes pile, but that doesn't seem to stop them from digging through their drawers. 
It has actually been fun to see them express themselves through clothes. Some days I can tell what kind of mood their in by the clothes they pick. For instance, if Tortilla picks pants, I know she's grumpy.
I still have one rule: no dressy shoes for school. Between the two classes I can't keep track of who has gym class on which day (each class goes three times a week). Dresses? Yes.... as long as their worn with tennis shoes.

October 04, 2011

School and Appointments

Trying to schedule yearly checkups (medical, dental, vision) is a huge pain this year. No one seems to care that if my daughters aren't scheduled after school, then they're likely going to miss at least a half day of school. I find it extremely frustrating that very few of our provides have family friendly hours.
When I scheduled our annual appointments with our pediatrician, I was told the latest I could bring all four of them in was 2pm. My other option? Take each of them in on different days. I'm already in need of more hours in a day, scheduling four different days of appointments isn't going to work. I tried to schedule the appointments on days they don't have school. The doctor doesn't see patients on Fridays (must be nice) and is off the entire week of Thanksgiving (not that I expected her to be available, but I was really trying to find a non-school day). 
One of my daughters has a followup appointment with her physical therapist. Since we're no longer seeing the therapist on a weekly basis, we were basically stuck with whatever was left. (I get it. The weekly appointments should take priority). However, once again this particular provider doesn't see patients on Fridays. The latest appointment they could find for her was 2pm, so I have to pull all four girls out of school by 1pm to get to the appointment.
I actually stopped scheduling appointments with our opthalmologist (Blogger is telling me I spelled that word wrong, but I looked it up, so I don't know what gives) for this very reason. Once my daughters were no longer considered high risk from their premature births, we were relegated to seeing the doctor's assistant. Not a big deal.... but she only saw patients two days a week and only in the mornings. Considering preschool was only three hours a day, I didn't feel it was fair to ask me to have them miss a day of school for a routine checkup. I asked if we could see the opthalmologist, since her schedule was more flexible. I was told they would "prefer" to have the doctor only see the "priority" cases. Um, ok. So my daughters are healthy and suddenly not a priority? I switched to a different practice that gladly offers after school appointments and we are seen by the doctor.
I know when I was in school I had to leave early every now and then to go to the orthodontist, dentist, etc. Heck, by high school I was purposely making my appointments so I would miss a little school. But when you consider that many parents are also trying to juggle work schedules around these appointments, it sure would be nice to feel like an effort is being made to accommodate everyone. Yes, doctors and their staff have families, too. Would it be so hard, though, to have one night a week of extended hours or one Saturday a month where you'll see patients? 

October 03, 2011

And the Competition Begins....

Not to be outdone by Roo's three lost teeth, all accompanied by memorable stories, Tortilla decided it was her turn for the spotlight. On the first day of kindergarten, she came running out of the building to tell me she had a loose tooth. Apparently the carrot sticks I packed in her lunch helped jar the tooth loose. Then, a few weeks later, we noticed the tooth next to it was also loose. Last Thursday, Tortilla finally had her "loose tooth story."
Thursday night her two loose teeth were hanging by threads. I realized if they didn't come out that night, one or both might come out at school and truly become lost. I took her into the bathroom, shut the door to avoid curious sisters, handed her a tissue and told her to pull. Voila. One tooth out. She was so in awe of losing her first tooth that we needed Hubby to yank out the next one. (Trust me, it took just a small tug). And there you have it: Tortilla lost her first tooth and her second tooth within minutes of one another, definitely another fun "loose tooth story."
This all means, of course, that Cakes and Sue Sue are frantically wiggling their teeth to see if any of them are loose. So far, no. I'm afraid that by the time the fourth sister loses her first tooth her "story" will simply be "Remember how long it took for you to finally lose a tooth?!"

September 26, 2011

What Free Time?

I always laugh a little when people find out my daughters are in full day kindergarten. One of their first questions is "What do you do with all that free time?" What free time? Don't get me wrong... I had visions of having some "me time," too, but it's not happening.
I work part-time, so my hours certainly vary. Now that my daughters are in full day school I've been able to change my work availability and work a decent amount of hours. My days typically consist of dropping my girls at school, going to work and then back to school to pick them up. I'm OK with that. It's a pay check.
On the days that I'm not scheduled to work, I'm running errands, namely going to the grocery store. If I'm lucky I can fit in a 3.5 mile walk. Other days, I'm wading through the laundry piles or trying to vacuum, clean, etc.
So, no, I still don't really have a lot of free time, but many days I manage to shower without anyone else in the house, (which means I'm not worrying about whether anyone is fighting downstairs). I consider that a victory!

September 21, 2011

Every Tooth Has a Story

I don't remember having lots of stories to tell about losing teeth. They fell out. The Tooth Fairy visited. The end. Roo, on the other hand, has had a story about every tooth she has lost so far.
Her first tooth fell out on the fourth of July. That in itself seemed like a fun story since we were visiting family and they got to mark the milestone with us. But it gets better. She was eating watermelon and thought she had a seed in her mouth. She found the seed and threw it on the floor. Unfortunately, the "seed" was her tooth. It took several minutes, but we managed to find it.
Her second tooth also came out while she was eating. This time, however, we never found it. Why? Because she swallowed it. She and I wrote a letter to the Tooth Fairy, explaining what happened. If your mom or dad signs the letter, then the Tooth Fairy knows you truly did lose it.
The other night Roo lost her third tooth. She had asked me a few days before if I thought it was loose. It seemed like it might be loose, but didn't appear to be ready to come out any time soon. Wrong! She was brushing her teeth and when she "spit," a ton of blood filled the sink. It took me a minute to realize what had happened, since, again, the tooth didn't seem too loose. But where was the tooth? She swore she didn't swallow it. I figured when she spit, it went down the sink. She claimed it came out of her mouth when I wiped toothpaste off her chin. Sure enough... tooth in the tissue I used to wipe her chin. 
Roo has great stories to tell about each loose tooth. I wonder if these tales will continue with the next teeth that come out. And in case you're wondering, the lost tooth count is Roo: 3, Sisters: 0. Needless to say, they're ready for some loose tooth stories of their own!

September 20, 2011

The Drop Off Lane

We're nearly a month into the school year. You would think by now parents would have the drop off routine down pat. Wrong! The drop off is ridiculous. Nearly every parent thinks his or her time is more important than the person in the front of the line.
In theory, parents are not supposed to get out of their car in the drop off lane. Unfortunately, teachers have not been outside recently to help with the process. I don't have a problem with parents getting out of their car to help a child. Those of us with bigger vehicles know it can be difficult for a child to climb out while loaded down with a backpack and lunch box. When no teachers are outside, I wait to pull up to the very front of the line, get out, get all my girls out, say bye and get in my SUV and drive away. Then you have the parents who start unloading in the middle of the line, talk to their kids or a passing parent, heck, maybe even take their child by the hand and walk them to the school. No. NO. NO! If you're going to walk your child to the door, you need to park in the parking lot. It's a process, people!
Oh, and let's not forget the parents who drive into the parking lot and try to zip to the front of the line, bypassing all of us patiently waiting to unload. Yeah, I have to admit that when I have the chance I purposely make it so they have no room to pull in. It's the power of the SUV. I have to be to work, too, show some patience.
My biggest beef is the parents who peel into the parking lot. Seriously. It's a school full of young children. Slow down or it's going to be a disaster.
Now I'll step off my soap box! (for today)

September 19, 2011

Where Does the Time Go?

My babies are six! How did they get so old? Their big day was yesterday and we all had a blast, despite a few snafus.
We started the day bright and early... 7am. I'm pretty sure they were up before then, but the night before I told them not to wake us up until the sun was up. I'm surprised they held off as long as they did. After opening gifts, Hubby made pancakes. I had to cut everyone off after two because I knew there would be plenty of cake and cupcakes to come.
Hubby picked up the cake for yesterday's party and the cupcakes for school. (Yes, I'm that mom, the one who sends in store bought cupcakes. I don't have the time to make 45 cupcakes!) Hubby came home with one box of cupcakes. I ordered two. I frantically called the bakery. The woman who answered tried to tell me I only ordered one box. I told her to look at the form again. She told me I filled the form out wrong. I told her a bakery employee filled it out. She said she would have the second box ready in about 10 minutes. Crisis averted, except for the fact that Hubby had to drive back to the store.
We celebrated with a small cookout in the backyard and only invited two families with children, plus our neighbors and my in-laws. At the last minute one family wasn't able to attend, but the other family we invited has triplets, so there were still plenty of kids to help us celebrate!
By the end of the night we were all exhausted. Two of  my girls were asleep within minutes of being tucked in. The other two were out soon after that. 
This morning they played a few rounds of their new game Hungry Hungry Hippo and then headed to school with 45 pink Toy Story cupcakes. All in all, it was a great 6th birthday!

September 14, 2011

Kindergarten Kids = Salespeople?

When I picked up my daughters from school yesterday, one of them came rushing up, asking me if she could sell her toys to win prizes. Huh? The whole school had just come out of an assembly for a fundraiser. All the kids are being asked to sell crap (let's face it, that's what it is) and the more crap you sell the more prizes you win. (These prizes could also fall in the "crap" category as I think they're pretty much things from the dollar store).
I get that our schools are underfunded and do what they have to do to bring in money. But I hate that my nearly-six-year-olds had to sit through a sales pitch that involved being shown "fantastic" toys and prizes they can win.... if only they do their part.
I don't need what the school is selling, so why should I ask my neighbors, friends and family to cough up money for these items. Fortunately, there is an option that allows you to simply make a donation to the school. Each $10 donation counts toward a "prize" item. We'll go that route, I guess. Wouldn't it be easier to just institute an additional "fee" per family instead of asking our kids to go door to door?

September 07, 2011

The Unexpected Perk of All Day Kindergarten

First off, this is probably going to be my only post this week. I'm calling this my "Ridiculously Crazy Busy Week." I typically work anywhere from 9 to 20 hours a week. This week, due to inventory, I'm working 30 hours. I'm not complaining because I cannot wait to see this pay check. BUT... I have little time for anything other than work and the girls' homework this week.
Anyhoo, now that you know why I'm MIA this week, I have to tell you about this great little perk of all day kindergarten. My girls are so hungry at dinner that they will eat almost anything I put in front of them. I've used this as a chance to experiment and get them to eat new foods.
It all dawned on me last week when I just could not fill them up. They ate and ate and ate and still wanted more when they were done with dinner. I talked to Hubby and told him the first thing I wanted to try was grilled chicken. Even my picky eater declared it "delicious." I will confess, though, that none of them were too gungho about the baked zucchini I served with the chicken.
A few nights later I did a toned-down version of stir fry. I baked chicken nuggets, steamed some carrots, cooked some rice and threw it all together. Definitely a hit. (Although cleaning up the rice that spilled on the floor was no fun). Hubby has an excellent homemade teriyaki sauce, which I would like to incorporate the next time I make this dish.
The other night we made homemade "chicken nuggets" from scratch. The girls had a lot of fun helping coat the chicken (dipping the pieces in egg and then throwing them in a bag of crumbs) and are eager to do it again.
Kindergarten may be wearing out all of us, but I'm glad it's helping my daughters expand their palette. 

September 01, 2011

The After School Scramble

People always say things to me along the lines of "I can't imagine what school mornings are like in your house." They're really not bad. My girls can dress themselves. They pick out their outfits the night before. They need some help with brushing their hair, but that's OK. I've even reached the point where I can let them tell me what they want for breakfast (within reason) and they can each have something different. I even have time to check my email before we leave the house. It's what happens after school that leaves my head spinning.
I won't rant about the pick up lane at school. It's stressful. It's chaotic. Any parent who picks up their child from school knows what I'm dealing with. Depending on the chaos of the day it can take me anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes to get home. And then the real fun begins. 
Our school district has a policy that every grade, including kindergarten, has to have at least 15 minutes of homework a night. Our two kindergarten teachers send home their packets on Monday with specific things (thank goodness they send home the same things) to work on every night. The packets are due Friday. For a family with one child, this homework should truly only take 15-20 minutes (I keep track of the time). Times four... at least an hour. Phew! I can't really do the homework as a group because a lot of it is "Tell me what letter this is" or "What sound does this letter make." Sue Sue would shout all the (correct) answers before her sisters if given a chance. Couple the homework with our required reading log (which I try to do one on one, even though I'm sure the teachers expect me to read one book to all four) and we have a lot to do. Fortunately, Hubby is often home before the girls and I get home, so he's a great partner. We can split the work, so it's a little less painful. (I like doing homework as soon as we get home because everyone is still in "school mode" and they haven't realized how tired they might be).
Then it's time for dinner. After that, it's a shower or a bath. It has been in the high 90's ever since the first day of school. They have three recesses a day, plus gym class three times a week. Trust me... they need to be bathed/showered every day! Then, if they're lucky, they have 45 minutes to an hour to veg in front of the TV before bed.
Today is the first day that I'll head directly from the morning drop off to work and then from work directly to the pickup. We'll see who is the most exhausted tonight!

August 30, 2011

Running Out of Options

The novelty of eating in the cafeteria still hasn't worn off for my daughters. The excitement of packing their lunches has definitely worn off for me. Basically, I'm running out of healthy options.
Don't get me started on drinks. For whatever reason, the only juice boxes I can find are not 100% juice. My girls still struggle a bit with juice pouches (Caprisun, etc) and I can't blame them. Sometimes I have trouble opening them, too. It's easier to pack boxes, but I would much rather pack real juice than the stuff I'm finding.
Three of my girls are willing to experiment with sandwiches. They like turkey. They like peanut butter and jelly. (Thank goodness our school allows peanut butter). They'll even ask for sandwiches with just cheese. One of my girls refuses to try turkey, but she's happy with the other choices. (I should probably point out that they have insulated lunch bags and I throw an ice pack in each bag every morning). Still, I wish I could find more variety.
I tried packing carrot sticks. I stopped doing that after one my girls told me she gave away her carrots to a friend. I'll also pack a small bag of pretzels or chips. I've discovered, though, that they're not eating these at lunch. They save them for the car ride home. 
My biggest issue in trying to find variety is time. The entire lunch period is about 40 minutes, but this includes a 20 minute recess. The actual eating time is about 15 minutes. I'm really struggling to find things they'll eat and be able to finish in that amount of time. Any input is appreciated!

August 29, 2011

The Story of Clementine

Last Wednesday I dropped off my daughters at school, went to the grocery store and came home. Thank goodness I was paying attention, because in our driveway, directly in my path was this:
 I pulled the car over, got her out of the road and proceeded to unload groceries. Then I took a picture and sent it to Hubby. My initial thought was to take her down the street where there's a big field and a reservoir. I became distracted and didn't follow through. Thank goodness I didn't take her there.
Hubby emailed me from work and told me to put the turtle in our backyard until he could figure out what to do with her. We didn't want her to get hit by a car or taken in by the neighbor girl who all but abuses her two dogs. Hubby did an Internet search and found a local reptile rescue group. Upon seeing the picture, the woman in charge told him the turtle is not native to our area and, if left to her own defenses, would die in the elements and/or spread diseases to the "wild" turtles. Her speculation was that the turtle was either an escaped or abandoned pet. She and Hubby started corresponding to figure out how the turtle could end up in the hands of the rescue group.
In the meantime, when my daughters came home from school I told them what had happened and let them see the turtle. For whatever reason, they decided to name her Clementine. (Internet research leads us to believe the turtle is female). 
The rescue group wanted Hubby to drop off Clementine on Saturday. He told the woman a) it was kind of a long drive and b) he would have to bring the girls since I would be working. She told him they don't allow kids in the facility. Ummm, ok. So he asked her if there was a volunteer in our area who could pick up Clementine since she's, in my opinion, a dire case, meaning she's not native and can't just be turned loose. The woman informed Hubby they don't "typically" do that so could he still drive nearly an hour on Saturday to drop off the turtle. 
We contemplated keeping Clementine. Our girls really wanted to keep her. Every morning before school they made me go in the backyard to check on her. The other day they watched her eat lettuce and berries. They were delighted when she pooped in the box we used for her feeding. Unfortunately, she requires both an indoor and outdoor habitat, one that we don't have the time or money to maintain. As much as it would be fun to have a turtle, she's just too much work.
Fortunately, Hubby found a second local reptile rescue group. This one has volunteers who are willing to drive anywhere in the state for a reptile. (I think that's because they deal mainly with snakes and such that people took in as pets and no longer want). The leader of the group is located near Hubby's work. So this morning, Clementine is on her way to work with Hubby to picked up by this group. She'll spend 90 days in their care while they determine if she's healthy enough to be adopted out. Hopefully after that time period she'll find a family with the time and energy to provide her a good home.

August 23, 2011

The Downside of Home Ownership

Don't get me wrong... I'm glad I'm not a renter. But I swear when one home improvement need arises, a million more get added to the list. I miss the days of being able to call a landlord and have the problem fixed right away. (Unless you are a college student and rent from a well-known slumlord. Then he will simply send a bouncer from one of his bars to take a look at your broken fridge. Said bouncer will give you an extension cord and wish you luck. True story).
Our summer of battling the sprinkler system came to a head last night when one of the pipes broke. We're hoping it's an easy fix since it's an above ground pipe. Of course, this means we're not running the sprinklers while it is nearly 100 degrees outside, so our grass will suffer and our HOA will likely fine us for brown grass. 
Then there's the gutter on the roof that is still pulling away from the house. This is why you should not rely on someone who owes your father-in-law a favor to fix the gutter for free.
Still, I'm just glad we are able to afford the luxury of a house. We spent three months in an apartment just before our girls turned two. It wasn't fun. It's not something I want to experience again. I guess I'm just going to have to win the lottery and hire a team of employees to take care of all my lawn and home repair needs! (In that case, I'll hire a house keeper, chef and chauffeur, too!)

August 22, 2011

You Can Tell Which Moms Have Kindergartners

The kindergarten moms (and dads) at my daughters' school are easy to spot. We are the moms who stayed until the first bell on the first day and reluctantly walked to our cars when our children went in the building. We are the moms who stayed until the first bell on the second day, but tried not to be overbearing as our children ran around on the playground before the bell. We are the moms who spent Friday standing off to the side, practically in the parking lot, joking with one another that on Monday we would suck it up and simply drop our children off in the front of the building, let them walk to the playground and stay out there until the first bell all by themselves (well, with teacher supervision, of course).
I don't know about the other moms, but I managed to do just that this morning. It was a little unsettling watching my four girls walk to the back of the school by themselves. Even they weren't sure they were up for the challenge. They made it to the playground and probably forgot about me the minute they climbed on the swings. I'm slowly learning to let go.

August 18, 2011

The First Day

We did it! We all made it through the first day of kindergarten! I even made it through the drop off with just a few tears trickling down my face. I'm not necessarily a sensitive person, but I am emotional. I cry when I'm happy, sad, angry, you name it. Then I typically cry harder because I'm so annoyed that I'm crying. 
My meltdown actually happened the night before the first day. I made all their lunches and tucked a surprise Tootsie Roll in each lunch box... and then started crying. I was imagining my "babies" being such big girls and doing big girl things, such as eating in a cafeteria. I felt silly for crying, but I'm glad I got it out. I think had I not had that cry, I might have been bawling at the drop off.
The first day went great, except for a few minor things. All my girls know to give swings a wide berth. Unfortunately, the kindergarten playground has monkey bars and Sue Sue walked too close while a boy was on them. She took a hard kick to the face before school even started. She shed a few tears and then shook it off. Roo was apparently called a "doofus" by a classmate, but Tortilla walked up to the little girl and said "Don't ever call my sister that again." There are some benefits to having siblings in the same class! Oh, and I walked out the door without grabbing the bag of school supplies! Oh well. I managed to get four girls, four backpacks and four lunch boxes to school. I would say the points are in my favor.
Despite a few bumps in the road, they had blast. They chatted nonstop about all the things they did. I expected them to be wiped out after an entire day in school, but they didn't seem to be tired at all. In fact, they were somewhat annoyed that it was dinner time within an hour of coming home. (Although all four claimed to be "starving" when I picked them up!) Still, they were asleep the minute their heads hit the pillows last night.
All in all, this is looking like it will be a good year!

August 16, 2011

It's Almost Time

Tomorrow is the big day. My babies, who insist they are not babies, will be going to kindergarten! I can't believe how time flew by this summer. We didn't do everything I had envisioned, but we still had a lot of fun.
Yesterday we spent about an hour and a half at school for kindergarten assessment. Other than the girls not being assigned to the right teachers, everything was fine. The teacher situation was quickly resolved, too. (It was more of an issue of the "pairings," than the teachers. I requested that Cakes and Tortilla be separated since they're my identicals. They were put in the same class, but it was an easy fix to switch Tortilla and Sue Sue).
I would love to tell you what happened during the assessment, but I wasn't allowed to be involved. I sat out in the hallway while they met individually with their teachers. I think this was a good thing as it meant fewer distractions for them as they were "assessed." Plus, it gave their teachers a chance to get to know them one on one. (According to Sue Sue "Some things were easy. Some things were hard." I peeked in on one assessment. It involved counting, identifying letters, sounds, etc.)
And so, we are headed to the pool today one last time before school starts. Their clothes for tomorrow are picked out. Hubby and I have a "breakfast date" after we drop them off. And I expect everyone to be exhausted by the end of tomorrow!