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!

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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 🙂

 

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I’m not sure I’ve ever had a kid SO excited to have a birthday.

Lucy got 4 day stretch of birthday celebrating, and I think she enjoyed it thoroughly. She had only been talking about her 6th birthday for 364 days, so one can imagine how overjoyed she was when it finally came into fruition.

Wednesday was her actual birthday. She literally woke up with a smile on her face. She had a great day at school and EVERYONE knew it was her birthday. The little girls and I delivered birthday treats at the end of the day. We made rice krispie bars, cut them in squares, dipped in chocolate and sprinkles, then stuck a stick in them. The quickest birthday treat ever! They were quite a hit!

On Friday G and L, along with many other kids, were featured at an area college’s art show. L was super stoked about this, because she has declared she will be an artist when she grows up. Love it! As of last week she was going to be a police gal/veternarian combo, which is also good 😉 They also had 3-act kids play after the art show that was really cute. And there were cookies. Win-win. We had to have a lengthy discussion about college, what it is and who goes there, and why Daddy’s face was pictured on the wall from some 14 years earlier when he was a student there.

Saturday was another big day for Ms L. Dance pictures in the morning, and I do have to say I was quite proud of my mad double french braiding skills! She’s in dance and tap, and one of their songs is a version of Yankee Doodle, hence the red/white/blue costume. Her long awaited birthday party was in the afternoon and it was cold and raining! Seems that her birthday is destined for this, as we had the same problem last year at her party…..you can read that HERE. We had planned for a ‘treehouse party’, but ended up just doing games in the treehouse and the rest indoors. It was SO COLD (for April). She had requested a chocolate cake and pink frosting, and I tried to fancy up the sides a little bit, and that technique has now become requested by G for his 8th birthday. My kids are easily impressed I guess……Can I say that edible gold glitter makes anything appear extra fancy as well?! She got many nice gifts, but her favorite? A recordable tweeting bird that she carries around CONSTANTLY. Her name is Bonnie. HA!

If you want a good read, hop over and read Lucy’s birth story. Gets me teary. every. time.

Lucy is currently up sleeping off her birthday, with Bonnie keeping watch over her on her vanity, LOL. 6 year olds still need naps, you know. We’ve got another busy week (last week was a doozy!) of everything from baseball games to (yet another) eye doctor trip, dance lessons and a long overdue date night (wahoo!!!) Have a great week!

 


Easter is Awesome {2017 Version}

He is Risen!

 

 

Another Easter is in the books.  We pulled into the driveway tonight and Lucy sighs and says, “Well this was a great Easter day!” Yes, yes it was!

Not really the most important point of the day, but I did get the Easter outfits finished in time {whew}, so I thought I’d share! I cannot take any credit for the dress idea, it came from HERE. I wish I could do sewing like this more than once a year, I do enjoy making them stuff!

I got Mr. Gabriel to wear this tie by using the ‘mom guilt’. It goes something like this: ‘This Mom really wants a NICE pic of her 4 kids at Easter in the outfits she worked SO HARD to make them. So you WILL wear this tie to church. Mmmkk?’ This works on him, so I believe I still have a soft spot in his heart.

His tie was made from a tutorial I found HERE that I modified quite a bit. Shirt and pants: Children’s Place.  Shoes: Target.  Handsome devilish grin: his father. 😉

Lucy’s dress was the first I made of the group and turned out probably the best of the 3 dresses.  She’s a size 6 now and tall, so I’m learning I have to make things longer for her and actually didn’t get the skirt as long as I wanted, but I think it still looked nice. There were two new-to-me elements in these dresses: french seams and pleats, yeah I’m a novice. Shoes: Walmart (they are way too big so she stuffed a sock in the toes–shhh). Glasses: Rayban (what else?!) 😉

Pleats, pleats, pleats!!

Did a smile ever look so forced? What a clown. Amelia got to pick out the colors for the dresses this time around and she was REALLY looking forward to wearing her Easter dress.  Her shoes are hand me down from Lucy, and the brand name is wore off :-\ Her bracelet is a souvenir gift from California 😉

And the munchkin.  The first version of the dress I made her I could not even get over her head! Grrr. Back to the drawing board. I ended up basically making her an elasticized skirt that looked similar to the big girls’ pleated dresses and a little sash too.  Worked much better as I could just slide it up over her onesie. I cannot believe how darn cute she is!!! And everything else she’s wearing is hand me downs haha!

I found this site to be quite precious!

This is my new FAVORITE PICTURE OF ALL TIME.

And these are the bunny baskets made by my very talented Dad! I literally showed him a pic of something similar 2 weeks ago and these were 100% done on Thursday! Are they not just the cutest thing ever?! He’s taking orders for next year!!! (And I’m totally serious on that one!) My plan is to get their names on each one using vinyl and a Cricut or something by next year, but for now I just used some yarn and a piece of paper.

HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE!

 

How We Do: Making it to Mass

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Truer words were never spoken.

Anyone who has many young kids will commiserate relate to this post. I should add a disclaimer that we really value and usually enjoy taking our kids to Mass. It’s just that it is a HUGE effort many days. But well worth it in the end we hope!

There is some kind of phenomenon that goes on at our house on Sunday mornings. There are days during the week that J leaves for work at 6am and I’m out the door with 4 kids dressed, fed, and ready for school by 7:40am, and I make it to work on time too! (Of course there are those other days….) But then Sunday rolls around. Sometime getting out the door by 8am is a serious feat. Sometimes I do the girls’ hair at church. Sometimes I get a shower. Sometimes I’m not sure why everyone has such issues/meltdowns/mellowdrama/wardrobe malfunctions on Sunday mornings.

Here’s how we attempt to do Sundays. Key word: attempt.

Saturday nights sets the stage, we have a kind of routine. You know, the ‘ol everyone gets a bath on Saturday night routine. Yeah, we embrace it.  All the kids take showers, simultaneously in both bathrooms. The girls are downstairs and G is upstairs alone, lest anyone see him in a towel *shriek*.  J is usually doing dinner cleanup or cooking or prep, depending on how crazy our Saturday was. I get the girls in the shower and then start Ruth’s bath in her baby tub on the counter. I turn that water off and jump back over to the shower to wash, rinse, condition, and rinse hair again… x2 while Ruth chews on the shower curtain. I give Ruth her bath while the other girls head upstairs to get jammies on. I head after them with a wet oily baby.

Once jammies are on, we pick out tomorrow’s clothes. This is something I’ve done for several years now, almost daily.  During the week, I lay out the kid’s clothes and that’s that. On Sundays they always seem to have an opinion or want to match, so we discuss, then set them out. I pick out Lucy and Amelia’s clothes (almost always dresses) and lay out tights or whatever goes with it, lay out Ruth’s outfit, and then usually pick out what I’m going to wear. I used to always lay out Gabriel’s clothes, especially on Sundays, but he’s to the point where he can do this himself. All we ask is that he wear a collared shirt and his church shoes. It usually matches 80% of the time, so he’s doing well 😉 This makes the morning SO much better as the kids immediately get dressed when they wake up. However, Amelia always has a meltdown. Usually a zipper she can’t reach or the fact that she can’t get her lip balm open (because that’s a Sunday necessity…for her), or she can’t reach her shoes in the window seat. *sigh* It’s ALWAYS something.

I always set my alarm for earlier on Sundays, with a vision of a restful night’s sleep, waking to prepare a hearty delicious breakfast for my family, then gracefully donning a cute outfit and skipping off to church with 4 squeaky clean and smiling kiddos. *Ahem* This DOES NOT HAPPEN.

Instead of actually getting up at 6:30 when my alarm goes off, it’s usually closer to 7:00 or 7:15 because my brain just never turns on on Sundays. ‘SLEEP!’ it says. This is almost always the only day of the week that Ruth will actually sleep this late. It’s like Murphy’s Law of Sundays. I don’t get it. Even if we do get up on time it still looks something like this:

So I dart out of bed and go to the kid’s rooms and turn on light, hollering ‘good morning’ and ‘time to get up for church!’. They do usually get up and get dressed pretty quickly. I rush around in the bathroom, alternating holding a fussing baby with J. Did you know that it IS possible to put on makeup and brush teeth all while holding a baby? But it is NOT possible to put on socks, put up hair, or put in contacts while holding said baby? Yes, moms do have their limits.

We send the kids downstairs to snag some breakfast while we finishing getting ready and it’s like WWIII. Why are we out of butter? Gabriel won’t get me a bowl! The door shut on my finger! My hair is in the syrup! Mom, I think my tights are on backwards! Sheesh. I’m telling you, Sundays only.

I finally get myself and Ruth dressed and J goes downstairs to corral the troops. Usually they’ve fought long enough that they each get 2 bites of some form of food. We tell them they can have a donut after church, just get in the car. Usually around this time Ruth will spit up all over me or I realize that she spit up sometime in the last 20 minutes. Again, Murphy’s law. G goes out to start the car while the girls get ready to go out the door. J is announcing ‘we have 5 mins until we need to leave!’ as if a time countdown is going to help. We’re going to leave when we’re going to leave. I don’t think there’s any helping this situation. We put Ruth into her carrier and she immediately starts screaming. She’s hungry. She probably last ate at 5, so it’s about time to eat again. Paci to the rescue.

We get everyone into the car and the bigs buckle themselves in the back while we buckle Amelia and put Ruth’s carrier in. Off we go. I multitask and pump while J drives and eat a protein bar. It saves a lot of time, people. Don’t ever look too closely into others’ cars. Just sayin’.

The kids whine for the 13 miles about being hungry. Luckily I usually grab a few ziploc bags of cereal on my way out the door so I toss them in the back. This makes them happy and I think they secretly put on the WWIII show in order to just eat dry cereal in the car and a donut after Mass. It’s all a ploy…. Ruth usually cries halfway there, then falls asleep.

We get to church, on time. I always breathe a sigh of relief right about here. We get in, take a seat. Then Ruth wakes up. J or I give her the bottle that I thoughtfully packed ahead (AHA! moment a few months ago when I finally figured this out–it only took me 4 kids to realize that if I didn’t want to leave Mass every. single. week to find a distraction-free place to nurse, that I should just bring a bottle of pumped milk. A lot easier than messing with siblings bumping her head or distracting her or messing with a cover.

Our kids are usually pretty good in Mass. But it’s taken a loooooonng time to get to this place and it surely wasn’t always like this, and we definitely still have our days. I took all 4 kids ONCE by myself and I gave out more side-eyes and ‘sshhhhh!!’ than I can count. Taking kids alone is not for the faint of heart!

Jeremiah says it’s not all that bad on Sundays. Maybe I just have too high of expectations. Either way we always make it, so that’s good! Just hoping others can relate to the Sunday morning craze. #thestruggleisreal