How We Do: fitting 4 girls in 1 bedroom

I’ve been meaning for quite some time to do a post on how the triple bunks turned out, and that means showing the girl’s room. No, we don’t have 4 girls, but we could fit 4 girls in the room if needed. We have slept 4 girls in there for several nights when cousins visit and I have to admit I felt like that was a huge parenting win! When we moved into this house, we had a ‘sleeping room’ and a ‘toy room’ for the kids. When we were expecting Ruth, we decided we needed to move to having a ‘boy room’ and a ‘girl room’. We did not know that G would end up with his own room and a spare bed, and that the girls would end up with triple bunks AND a crib. It does work though. Big(ger) families + medium sized houses = creativity. 🙂

So here goes: *disclaimer–this is a rare sighting and their room is never this clean. It took quite awhile to look even this presentable. And I made their beds. So there’s that….*

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Welcome to the girl’s room 🙂

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We painted the bunks a medium gray because we thought it’d be a neutral color that would grow and change with them. We had to carry each board individually in from the garage and upstairs into the girl’s bedroom, then assemble in there. You could say that it took a huge amount some time. I got their matching comforters at Target on super sale and with Cartwheel so that made me extra happy. I had thought about making a little curtain for under the middle bunk for a hideout, but it works really well to keep a lot of their taller toys under there, so I saved myself some work and they just roll them in there. Lucy’s prized posession, her vanity, sits next to the window and Amelia’s ladder.

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Lucy rearranges her vanity daily. It’s always a source of my clutter anxiety because she cherishes all the trinkets…..

The room actually has a good amount of floor space, especially for having 4 beds. They also have a large chest that is overflowing in dress up clothes and a large bookshelf that I didn’t photograph because it’s always just full of stuff. You get the idea.

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I have a thing about dressers. I don’t like them. We have 1 in our bedroom, and the rest of clothes are kept on shelves in the bedroom closets, arranged in bins or baskets. This has worked so well for us, because the kids can put away their own clothes! It’s quite magical….. They each have 3 bins; 1 for tops, 1 for bottoms, and 1 for PJs. They also each have 2 drawers in a Sterilite cart; 1 for socks and 1 for undies. All of the hanging clothes and dresses go in Gabriel’s closet because it has a hanging rod and he’s got the space. We go through their clothes 2 times a year (or sooner if they have a growth spurt) to change seasons and whatnot. I do all the washing, drying, folding, but it’s their responsibility for their clothes to make it from the laundry room to their bins and to the hamper when they’re done wearing them. I don’t care if their bins are just a heap of unfolded clothes, as long as it’s in the right bin and not all over the floor. I am thinking of doing a post just on managing kids clothes…I know, rivoting, but this is what season we’re in right now and maybe others can relate. Stay tuned.

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Lucy and Amelia’s bins, on lower shelves so they can reach

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Ruth’s bins (outfits, onesies and PJs) and rolling drawer

So yeah, my girls may never know what it’s like to have their own bedroom, and I think we’re ok with that. 99% of the time they like having all of them in there at once, even when Amelia sings a little too long at bedtime and Lucy steps on Amelia when she’s climbing into her bed.

 

 

Friday Five: 7/21/17

  1. Helloooo blogging world! I’ve returned from hiatus as a lot of our time-consuming aspects of summer are now over. We spent an average 4 nights/week at a ball field in June watching baseball and t-ball (and much to my surprise, I really really enjoyed both!); G and L just finished swimming lessons; G and L did a week-long 4H day camp; we’ve swam, hiked, ran; attended 2 professional baseball games; J finished his intensive summer class for grad school; visited an alpaca farm; kids did VBS; summer reading programs at libraries; wedding reception/birthday parties/bridal shower/grad parties; we camped overnight, in a tent, with 5 kids under 8 and survived to tell about it…..
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    Mermaid sisters

    Speaking of surviving, those puddle-jumper floaties that Amelia’s wearing are pretty much the bee’s knees. Especially for parents of many younger kids. I took all 3 girls to a beach by myself and it was a game changer.  I didn’t have to worry about Amelia toppling over in the water and sinking if I looked away for 3 seconds. I next bought one for Lucy as she is on the verge of being a good swimmer, but it’s good when the pool’s full and we can’t hold her hand constantly. We took all 4 kids to an aquatic center today and they worked so well! The girls don’t mind wearing them (G is becoming quite the fish!) and it is amazing how well they keep them afloat without all the bulk of a lifejacket or the inconsistency of arm floaties. We had a moment of bliss today when J and I looked out from under the giant shaded umbrella and saw the 3 older kids all floating and playing together without us worrying about them sinking. Puddle-jumpers 4 the win!

  3. Awhile ago, on one of the days I was feeling overwhelmed and underimpressed with dishes and messes and whining and clutter and well, life, I decided it was high time to fill my own bucket, and I committed to doing the Quad City Half Marathon in September. The race is the day after Ruth turns 1 and will be my 4th half marathon….and I have 4 kids! Well well….. because what all moms of 4 kids who also work outside the home, have a husband in grad school and multiple other projects on the side need to do is to sign up to train for 13 miles….amiright?! Well, this mom DID need to! This bod ain’t 25 anymore and I can definitely tell I’m going to have to work harder for a decent time. So far so good, I’m running farther than I have in a few years, so I’m headed in the right direction.
  4. Ruth. Well here’s an update on her. She’ll be 10 months old on Sunday (where did that come from?!) She has 8 teeth. EIGHT. Nursing + EIGHT teeth = a circus. And sometimes, I hear her grind her teeth *shudder*. She can climb. Stairs, picnic tables, lounge chairs, trampolines. She definitely has strawberry blonde hair, there’s no doubt about it as people are asking us where the red comes from (ahem, have you not met Aunt Mel or Uncle Cam?!) Her hair has just recently started growing at an exponential pace. She’s about ready to walk but in the mean time is mastering the quiet crawl to the bathroom where her most favorite activities include shredding rolls of toilet paper, dumping the trash, and dropping tiny things down the heat register. I got her a baby walker, she hates it. She’s in that stage where she enjoys trying to gouge out my eyes and hooking my cheek like a fishhook, all the while breaking the few full strands of hair I have left on my head. We have been making it through an average of 15 mins of Mass before one of us ends up out in the entry way because her scream is blood curdling and loud. She’s a very observant child and never wants to miss out on anything. In all truth, she really is a good baby. She’s always VERY excited about life. See what I mean:
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    Her cuteness kills me!

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  5. We did something weird at the beginning of this summer. Well, more weird than we already are, I suppose. We removed our TV. It’s in the garage. We have NO TV in our house, for several reasons. And guess what? We haven’t missed it! Tonight, G told me “Mom? I like having no TV. I think it’s better.” BAM. Spoken from the mouth of babes. Before we took it out, it had probably been 3 weeks since anyone had watched it anyways, so we really didn’t notice. The final straw was Ruth’s 3rd attempt at pulling it over on herself from the low stand it was perched on. We’re not much of the TV type, but we have watched some netflix and youtube here and there. I’m planning to write a whole blog post about my thoughts/our experiences on it soon, maybe by the end of summer. The TV will probably return at some point when it gets cold and The Voice is back for a new season, but for now it’s taking a little time off on a shelf in the garage.  😉

J and I are celebrating our 11th wedding anniversary tomorrow! We have a little 16-hr getaway planned that is going to be a blast, I’m so excited!!!!!

My daughter, the three year old

In my parenting journey thus far, I have found 3 year olds to be very interesting.  They are so many things, I could list off adjectives for hours.  Funny, cute, mischevious, emotional, curious, inquisitive, brash, spirited, brave, fearful, energetic….the list goes on and on and on! Each one is so unique too. But at 3 years old is when it seems that the child really comes into their own and develops more of their child personality and leaves behind more of what made them a baby or toddler. I have also discovered that 3 year old’s moods, tones and opinions change very very quickly, so hold onto your pants (literally).

Since I hope to read back on this blog in years to come as a kind of virtual diary about our family, I wanted to take the time to document our current 3 year old, Amelia, because there is just a LOT about her.

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I love her crooked smile

Amelia is, by far, the liveliest of all of all the 3 year olds we’ve had. She’s our wild child. Every family has one, right?! She’s also the loudest, bounciest, most emotional and most energetic. She will bounce all. day. long on her mini trampoline, with breaks for running and food, and maybe some Lego time with G. She’s incredibly loud. So loud that I had her hearing checked. Nope, no hearing problem, just a loud personality. I hope it serves her well someday, but for now we are working on the idea of toning it down. She has energy, does she ever. The other day she ran 3 LAPS around our block with me. We figured that out to close to 3/4 of a mile on those little legs. I’m really hoping she’s our runner because, well, I need one of our children to carry on with running! She never once was carried when we hiked for 6 hours at Maquoketa Caves. The kid has some amazing endurance and is always up for an adventure.

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Always a blur

Oh, she does stand still and hold still sometimes, but she definitely prefers to be on the move. She loves to cuddle and read books and books or watch a movie. She loves hearing stories about when I was a girl, doing puzzles, marble run, Legos, coloring, and doing workbooks.

This 3 year old is covered in bruises, bumps, scratches, and most days a thin (to thick) layer of dirt and stickiness. I know this just means she’s an active kid. She’s not going to miss a thing, that’s for sure, and she keeps up with her siblings at an amazing rate.

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Frequently a mess, but a cute one at that!

 

Tonight after every other kid was asleep I hear the loud whisper attempt that only a 3 year old can do, ‘Maaaam. What are we going to do tomorrow?’ Why is she always so concerned about what’s up next? This kid… I tell her what’s on the agenda, then tell her I gotta go so I can go to bed myself. ‘Maaaam. But where are your pajamas?’ In my room, go to sleep. ‘What color are they?’ Blue, go to sleep. ‘What color of blue?’ Dark blue, go to sleep! ‘What do they have on they?’ Nothing, just plain blue, go to bed! ‘G’night mom, love you!’

The other morning when we actually all had a chance to sleep in, I awoke to the sound of the battery powered pencil sharpener running. I knew Gabriel was up, then I figured out that Amelia was up too as the sharpening continued and continued and continued for several minutes. I don’t know if she was trying to sharpen the pencil to a stub or what. No one understands the mind of a 3 year old, and this regularly amuses me….and drives me crazy at the same time.

She is absolutely one of our most affectionate 3 year olds. No one gets out of our house without a hug AND a big kiss, usually several of both! She tells me at least 5 times at bed time ‘I love you Mom!’ and has loves on Ruth constantly. It’s pretty much adorable.

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She also loves to instigate fights. Lucy is her favorite sibling to fight with. She’ll hide the toothpaste, kick Lucy’s bunk or steal her comforter, or sing for wayyyyy too long at bedtime. Sometimes she’ll shut a door and sit behind it, throw things down the steps, or push her until she gets to stand on the step stool. Working on all of these…..I sometimes have to try not to laugh when Lucy tattles on Amelia for taking something away from her. 3 year olds are tough and determined! Sister love is also interesting…..

This 3 year old is very resistant. To naps, that is. She will crash and burn HARD after resisting a nap, but not before going completely crazy. There have been days when I or Nana cannot get Amelia to nap and she literally bounces off everyone, everything, and every wall until she crashes and burns. She literally goes nuts when she gets super tired. The lack of sleep seems to make her high strung, hyper, and delirious. Amelia, please just take a nap. It’s for everyone’s safety. Mmmmkay? Thanks.

Amelia is our ball of fire. I cannot wait to see what she conquers in her life. I love her zeal, determination, energy, and affection. If there is one word to describe her, it might be fierce, in a good way 😉 I hope she keeps all of the above mentioned attributes, but just remembers to talk in an indoor voice. 😉

 

 

Things that made my week happy

In no particular order, things that made me happy this week. Photos, for your viewing pleasure.

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Lucy lost her 2nd tooth this week while watching G play ball. The tooth fairy failed to make an appearance that night (whoops) so Lucy thought a note was appropriate. The tooth fairy apparently can’t read though as she did not leave her autograph. HA!

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Sharing a little sit’n’spin on the porch.

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We surprised the kids and took them to the long-awaited “coconut caves” AKA Maquoketa Caves this week. They LOVED it and we had such a great time caving, picnicking and hiking. Here’s Amelia in the massive ‘Dancehall Cave’ with her tiny little flashlight.

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Amelia wanted her toes done. I was in the middle of something so suggested Lucy could do them. And off they ran. I then came upon this lovely site. If only they always got along this well.

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Gabriel and his 2 buddies down the street conjured up this ‘fort’ with our landscaping bricks and random other things they found in the garage. We have since taken it down due to safety reasons, but they were so proud of it, thought it was the best thing since sliced bread and played in it for hours. Our neighbors probably think some homeless people have moved into our driveway…..Hopefully this is a sign that they will all become successful engineers or architects someday.20170610_082608

Lucy made me this crown. It’s made of wood, metal, duct tape and screws. She had Papa cut the triangles and she painted and wrote the words herself. This may be one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten, although it is quite difficult to actually wear. Seriously precious.

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Lucy had her first tball game. She was a bit too concerned with chatting with her friends and the post-game Gatorade, but did have fun. I think she’s starting to get the idea, but we’ll see. 7 more games to go. 😉

And with that, I’m signing off!

A few thoughts on having 4 children

 

 

  1. I’ve adopted a ‘mom code’ for dressing. Things that are allowed: high vnecks, crew necks, skirts lower than lower thigh, shorts that I can bend or squat in without looking scandalous, jeans that are built for people with child-bearing hips. Camisoles must be worn under anything and everything, tucked in, because it’s safe. It is not safe to wear things such as strapless maxi dresses (ask me how I know) or a heel over about 1 inch.  Spaghetti straps themselves are hit or miss, so I try to avoid. I will never again wear a mini skirt and most likely never a bikini again, which I’m completely ok with….I’ve discovered there is no such thing as a flattering nursing-friendly dress. It’s a unicorn – beautiful, stunning, and lovely, but does not exist. I can’t wear my hair down, it’s always in a pony tail, messy bun, or some version of a braid. My hair gets caught, yanked, or chewed on otherwise and sometimes no matter what.  If I try to wear white, it usually lasts about 3 hrs. Dangly earrings are a HUGE no-no.  Wear a necklace if you want to be strangled courtesy of Ruth.
  2.  I’m hoping this is just me, but I feel like the main floor of our house always smells of POOP. My kids are notorious for not flushing, because they want to SHOW everyone. Sometimes we don’t discover it for awhile. Gross. Ruth has the smelliest diapers. I take the trash out all. the. time. The living room is adjacent to the busiest bathroom in the house. Tell me I’m not alone on this one.   
  3. My kids are never full. I can feed them the healthiest food on the planet with unlimited protein, and G still has hollow legs. “Mom, what can I eat?” is always ringing. We ate an entire watermelon yesterday for an appetizer. The. whole. thing. G has consumed an entire pint of blueberries in one sitting, although that didn’t end well. (See above second point) We’re going through 4 bunches of bananas and 4 dozen eggs a week! I hide M&Ms and dark chocolate covered blueberries behind the vitamins. NO SHAME.
  4. People constantly assume one or more of the following: a) we are crazy b) we’re borrowing someone else’s kids c) we are terrible at family planning (or just the opposite) d) we are done e) WE ARE CRAZY!
  5. Many days I count the following as ‘The Mom Workout’ and commend myself for getting it done. I tote around 18 lb baby for approximately 12 hrs with constant isometric contraction of my left arm, squat 150 times to tie shoes/retrieve lost pacifier/wipe up spill, lift/bend/reach to buckle/unbuckle carseats 6 rounds x 2 kids each time, push the swings for 18 and 30lb kids for 30 minutes, carry hampers on one hip while baby is on the other, load the dishwasher (twice), walk up and down and up and down the stairs at least 40 times, walk to and from various parks, kid activities, appointments, shops…….I could go on, but I’m tired. Repeat.
  6. I’ve decided that the people who invented carseats do not actually have children, let alone 4 kids in carseats simultaneously. Carseats are a beast! 2 of our kids are completely independent in buckling, but the other 2 require assistance, of course.   Why is there not such a thing as the self-buckling carseat? How about a car that self-installs a carseat? Or better yet, a car that self-cleans a carseat? Do you know how much stuff disappears into the never-to-be-seen again world beneath a carseat? Have you ever tried to disassemble a carseat covered in puke? How about install  or even just use a carseat while pregnant? Ever had to pay for one? Hundy dolla bills…..$$$$ And it’ll either expire or they’ll outgrow it within no more than 7 years, if you’re lucky. I’ve got 4 kids. We currently own 10 carseats and Nana and Papa own 4 more. We need STOCK in Graco. Ugh. Carseats are my nemesis.
  7. There is nothing in the world catered to a 6+ person family. Take cars for example. Trying to fit 6 people into a 8-seater SUV with 4 carseats, diaper bag, chairs, sports equipment, backpacks, extra clothes, yard quilt, baby carrier, tiny stroller and there’s NOT ENOUGH ROOM. And that’s before Lucy insists on bringing the ART ROOM and G his entire collection of Legos and Amelia her bag ‘o who-knows-what. We’re heading toward the 12 passenger van, no lie. I seriously envy the people I see that drive them because they have space. No shame here once again. Having 4 kids makes you re-evaluate your priorities and pride, and if we’re all going to have to sit happily in a vehicle for several hours at times, we need some room!

With all that being said, I would not trade my life for anything.  Kids are so great and really do make life worth living! Ours are especially full of life, spunk, character and personality. They are amazing and we love them dearly, each and every one! Large family life is fun, messy, busy, and FULL, but not for the faint of heart! 😉

And so it begins

SUMMER!

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The kids had their last day of school today. Seems early, but their day is a bit longer on both ends and they don’t take a spring break, so it makes for a shorter year. I love it. They love it. Their school rocks.

I made them pose for obligatory end of the school year photos this morning. It was pouring rain and 40 degrees, so on the porch was the best we could get. I also got them to pose with their teachers, whom I could write another entire blog post about, they are that amazing.

The kids sure have changed a lot since the beginning of the year. Sure, G grew about 3 inches and L is now my mini-look-alike-clone. But the most amazing changes came within them. *enter mom bragging moment, I promise it will be brief*

Gabriel is doing math almost 2 grade levels ahead of his grade. Lucy knows art techniques that I didn’t even know existed. Gabriel’s reading has ‘clicked’. Lucy’s penmanship is better than mine. Gabriel codes robots and computers right along with the 6th graders. Lucy can READ pages of Junie B Jones.

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The kids are amazing. Their growth is amazing. Their school is AMAZING.

This year alone, they did the coolest stuff. Field trips, ice cream trips, nature walks, special visitors. They built solar machines; were entered in art shows; incubated, hatched and named baby chicks; performed really neat real life science experiments; grew an indoor garden; made objects on a 3D printer; coded robots; performed in concerts.

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I kid you not, she named her chick ‘Bob’

Today after their early dismissal, we came home for a chill afternoon. Except for G wanted to get on some building computer game and Lucy read me a whole book. Say what!? I guess the learning continues, and I love it!

So long, school year. We’ll look forward to your return in August. But until then, we’ve got a lot of summer memories to make! Hello, summer!

 

Friday Five: 5/12/17

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  1. Another great read! I’m adding this book to my top books list that I think all parents should be given when they find out they are expecting for the first time. Or I wish they would have given us this. There are just some books that all parents should read (in my opinion). This book just makes sense! I read the original ‘5 Love Languages’ several years back and found it very applicable to my own marriage. This version for detecting children’s love languages is just the same. The author does say that if the child is under age 5 you can’t really figure their prominent love language, but I think I have a good idea for G, L and A; R is yet to be determined but so far her love language is FOOD. Yet again, I should be getting compensated for these stellar book reviews, but it’s just my opinions 😉

20170511_1552572. I got an early Mother’s Day gift! I always love flowers, but I was uber impressed with the attention to detail taken on these wooden child-sticks that were stuck in the flowers. G wanted me to notice that he’s wearing overalls and brown boots. I love that he used multiple colors to get his hair shade right and bright blue for his eyes. And I love how L draws eyelashes, polka dots on her dress, a side pony, along with glasses, of course. These are seriously precious to me!

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3. This kid. She’s always got something to say. She talks my ear off. Nonstop. It’s just that not many can understand what all she has to say! We didn’t want her to start preschool in the fall where no one could quite understand her, so we’ve had her screened, and she’s started speech therapy. I’m A-OK with speech therapy. Absolutely no hesitations with it. Sometimes I feel like everyone could benefit from speech therapy….ok maybe just me? And I find it absolutely fascinating and intriguing. The way that they get a kid to speak differently/clearly/correctly is nothing short of amazing. Maybe if I wasn’t a PT I’d have been a SLP…..just maybe. The progress she’s made in a few short weeks is nice to see hear! And that doll in her stroller? She’s got a broken leg with a ‘cast’ 😉

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4. And this kid. She’s cleared to no longer patch her eye! HOOORRRAAAYYY! You can see how she feels about this! Vision is improved a ton in her affected eye and has stayed about the same as she has slowly weaned off the patch. She’s been patching for at least a year or so, so this is great news. I think the eye doctor’s office will miss seeing my crew every 6 weeks, but I’m sure we’ll get by!

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5. No, not Halloween all over again. The kids were supposed to dress up as a movie/TV character for their spring music concert. L chose Snow White, because a princess is an obvious choice (?) We tried to explain to her that Snow White is not really a TV character, but more of a storybook character. Who cares–she wore it anyways. And let me tell you there was serious discussion between the girls as to if Snow White wore a red BOW or a red HEADBAND with that dress. Seriously. And G wanted to be the Green Lantern….again with the confusion of where characters originate. Whatever. When he came down dressed and ready to go and looking more like the Unibomber than any kind of character, we talked him into dressing like a White Sox player and playing the part of a Field of Dreams player. He was into that idea….. and then asked what the Field of Dreams was (we are seriously failing over here.)

So hard to believe our kindergartener and first grader are almost through with their school year (5 more days!!). Poor J has to go 2 more weeks 😦 Summer sure is fun, but they always miss school, especially Snow White. Her social life never takes a season off.

I suppose my next post will be a sappy end-of-school-year reminiscent post. Get ready 🙂