Saturday, December 27, 2008

Merry Christmas!


Belated is better than not at all!

And since there's a good chance I won't get back here until after the new year...
I promise there are lots of posts to come and I will devote tons of time to them really soon after 2009 gets here!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Talking to Toddlers

Just a few entertaining conversations...

Scene 1: I'm in the kitchen and the kids are playing in the adjoining playroom. Thomas runs halfway across the room, then screeches to a halt, staring at the ceiling.

Thomas: Momma! I think it's missing! (pronounced mEEs-ing)

Me: (Looking towards the ceiling, wondering what he could possibly be staring at or talking about) What's missing, honey?

Thomas: I don't know, but I think it's missing!

I never did figure out what he was talking about!

Scene 2: It's "bedtime." I have just entered the kids' bedroom for the 400th time because they won't stay in their beds or be remotely quiet and go to sleep. I am OVER IT! I have Zachary in my sights this time. He was jumping on the bed, but immediately laid done when I opened the door.

Me: (leaning over his bed, angry voice) Zachary! Do you WANT to be in trouble?!? DO YOU!?!

Zachary: (tilts his head slightly, lays his index finger upon his cheek, turns his eyes toward the ceiling with a look of serious thinking) Hmmmm....

He never did actually answer my question. He just kept tilting his head and saying, "Hmmm..." I finally just had to leave before I burst out laughing and ruined my angry mood.

And this one, caught on tape! This was back in October and I've tried to post it before with no success. Actually, it took me 4 tries to get it to post today! Enjoy!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I'm Thankful

I'm thankful to finally have a chance to post about Thanksgiving.

I'm thankful to finally have a chance to post about ANYTHING!

I'm thankful the weather that day was nice, and we could spend some time playing outdoors!

I'm thankful Jonathan and his siblings could further explore their fascination with leaves...and sticks...and rocks!

I'm thankful for adorable pictures like this one of Zachary and his Daddy!

I'm thankful for football!

I'm thankful for the time we were able to spend with family!
(Thomas with Aunt Jayne)

I'm not thankful for the depressingly few pictures we were able to take on Thanksgiving.

But I am thankful that the ones we DID take turned out pretty good!

And I'm thankful that I'm getting to do this post before Christmas gets here!

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Day Away

Last weekend I was able to experience something completely new! More than 24 hours in which I was not responsible for any children! Woo hoo! I left the kids home with Jim and went to Nashville to spend some time with my mom and sister in honor of my sister's birthday. Happy birthday, Aunt Jo Jo!

Jim told the kids I was "going to work" which was something they could understand and worked out well because they didn't freak out when I left the house. Neither of us mentioned that I would be with Kay Kay and Aunt Jo Jo. Then I would have had to bring them all with me! What I actually did was go shopping, stay overnight at the Opryland Hotel, and get to see the Rockettes perform! And I had a great time! But I'll admit that I spent a lot of time smiling at other people's children, got a little teary at the beginning of the Rockettes show thinking about how much the kids, and especially Reagan, would enjoy seeing it in a couple of years, and had a hard time falling asleep without a monitor to listen to.

But I know what you REALLY want to hear about! What was Jim doing while I was gone? After all, this was his first time to keep the kids by himself for more than a few hours, so it was a big deal, and he was naturally a little nervous about keeping the horde entertained for such a long period of time. Nevertheless, in typical Jim fashion, he did a fabulous job! And even found time to document his adventures for your viewing pleasure!

I left the house after breakfast Sat morning and didn't return until after naptime Sunday afternoon, which means Jim undertook two naps, one bedtime, four meals, and hours of playtime with no help or guidance from me. They played. They wrestled. They colored. And then Jim brought out the big guns! He had found a train set for a reasonable price, so he put it together and amused the kids for a good long time! It played music and had a nice big track. It was also remote-controlled with only four buttons, so even the kids each got turns running the train. They LOVED it! In fact, they've begged to play with the train every day since.

Thomas, Jonathan, Zachary, and Reagan

Jonathan plays conductor

Jim even got out his guitar, put on a little concert, and let the kids each strum some notes themselves! So cool! They never get to do anything this exciting when it's just me!

Reagan is so proud of herself!

Thomas makes some professional adjustments to get the sound just right

The Concert Event of the Season!

Yes, the kids had a blast with Daddy! And I think Daddy had a good time too! And not only did he take care of the kids AND take pictures so I didn't miss a minute, but he also cleaned the kitchen, put away the kids' toys, and washed a load of laundry! Watch out folks, he just might be Super-Dad!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

More Cute Words

Okay, I meant to post about the entertaining games my kids play, but they are currently playing the not-so-entertaining Scream at Mom through the Door of Our Room because We Are No Longer Napping Game. So I've deleted everything I had already written because I can't concentrate on it well enough and will do this instead. It's much shorter and I'm determined to post SOMETHING today!

Scream? Who? Us? Never!

Jonathan, Thomas, Zachary, and Reagan, looking deceptively innocent

Here are a few more words and phrases that the kids say and I find adorable:

Zachary: dume cuck (dump truck) and gic-cume (vacuum)

Reagan: bunnits (buttons) and geeps (grapes), especially when used in the following sentence:

Oh, I yuv geeps! (Oh, I love grapes!) It's just too cute the way she says it!

And finally, all the kids call M&M's simply M's. So adorable! I don't know why!

And while I'm talking about language, let me say that sometimes it's really hard not to repeat their mispronunciations. I want to call Zachary Ya Ya, like Regan does. I want to tell them I'm going to get the gic-cume out of the closet. I REALLY have a hard time not calling my friend Michelle by the name Chelle because that is what they ALL call her. I guess to an extent some of that is okay, as long as Reagan doesn't start junior high wanting geeps in her lunchbox!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Potty Time Pain

Okay, about the potties...I know you've all been desperate to hear about the experience so far. Well, here goes...

Let me start with Plan A. A is for Ambitious. Here are the thoughts that formed the framework for Plan A: 1. I want to train them all at the same time so peer pressure can work in my favor. 2. I want to go straight to underwear so when they go they know it, they don't like it, and they'll want to use the potty next time. Pull-ups are just going to slow the whole process down! 3. I want to reward them for success, but not scold them for failure. I expect a lot of accidents, and that's okay! Doesn't it sound like a great plan?

So I acquired 4 potties (We borrowed 2 of them. Thank you kind friends!) and I set a date. I picked the first Monday of November. Halloween was over. There was no Ladies Bible Class that week. I could stay home the whole week and devote all my time to potty training! Genius, right?

Now, I had been talking to the kids about the potties forever, and everyone but Zachary seemed pretty pumped about the idea. So Monday morning, we got up, we ate breakfast, and then I said, "Who wants to wear big underwear today and go in the potty?!?" Everyone was excited! I let each child pick out a pair of undies, and we shucked the diapers and put them on. I did not give them any pants to wear.

Then I said, "Who wants to go sit on the potty?!?" We ran to the bathroom, and I helped them pull their undies down. None of them liked having them around their ankles, so they kicked them all off in the floor. They sat on the potties. Nothing happened. "Nobody needs to go potty? No? Okay, we'll try again later." At that point the boys decided they'd rather not put the undies back on. Naked is much better! Reagan really wanted hers though, at least for a little while.

The rest of the morning passed in a blur of accidents that couldn't always be matched with a corresponding child, lots of trips to the potty, many encouraging words, and two successful pottiers (Jonathan and Thomas), but ended with one of my success stories in tears and begging me to get him a diaper, please! Heartbreaking!

By naptime, all four children were back in diapers. And they have been ever since. Here's what I learned from my Ambitious morning:

1. Some kids can have accidents all day long and hardly notice. They just don't care. At least not yet. For these kids, nudity is useless.

2. For other kids, having an accident on yourself can be more than just yucky. It can be terrifying if you're 2 and new to this whole new big kid potty world.

3. A terrified toddler who delightedly sat on the potty this morning, doesn't want to go anywhere near it in the afternoon, even if he got M&M's and stickers for his morning success and knows he could get more.

4. Perhaps Pull-ups are not such a bad idea after all.

5. Perhaps it's time for a new plan.

So I have since instituted Plan B. B is for Back Off. We are staying in our diapers for awhile. The potties are still there in the bathroom. The bathroom door is always open, so the kids can see them anytime they want. Occasionally I bring them up to see if anyone is interested. Occasionally they mention wanting to sit on the potty and I happily assist in that process. I'm not pushing anything, for now. I have gotten Thomas to sit on the potty with his clothes on. That's a step in the right direction. I don't think Zachary has sat on it once since the very first time Monday morning. He simply doesn't care one bit about it. We'll do this a little while longer, and then move on to Plan C. C is for Cautious. It involves Pull-ups. I'm considering moving just one child to plan C, maybe Jonathan or Reagan, and leaving the others in Plan B land a little longer. They will be allowed to enter Plan C land whenever they want, but right now I'm thinking that once you enter the land of Plan C, there's no going back to the land of Plan B.

Disclaimer: All plans are subject to change at any moment and without warning. All changes will be related to the reader after the change is already in affect.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pumpkin Fun

Nothing says fall like pictures in a pumpkin patch! We visited two this year. First, Jim and I took the kids to the local patch just down the road where we have purchased our Halloween pumpkins every year since moving to this house. (This is our 6th Halloween at this house, in case you were curious!) Unfortunately, the day we went, they were having a big festival, so the kids were distracted from the pumpkins by the big inflatable bounce house, so we didn't get a lot of great pictures. But here are a couple:

Jonathan attempts to heft his pumpkin choice.

Zachary, Jonathan, Thomas, Reagan
Next, Michelle and I took the kids (mine and hers) to The Fruit and Berry Patch. We had a lot of fun, but it was pretty cold that day. Next year we'll have to make sure we go earlier when the weather is still nice!

In the corn maze, with Michelle's friend Stephanie who bravely and generously volunteered to come and help keep up with all the children!

Jonathan discovers what fun a corn stalk can be, and Reagan and I walk down the path after having somehow managed to make it out of the corn maze!

Thomas-Corn is FUN!!

I LOVE this picture! I only wish it had all the kids in it. Zachary had already caught up to Michelle when she turned to take the pic, so you can't see him because he's below the camera.
After the corn maze, we visited the animals. This was easily the kids' favorite part!

Reagan liked petting the horse, until it stuck its head over the fence and nibbled at her sleeve!
Thomas-I wan kiss goat! I'm not sure if he actually did or not, but he certainly gave it his best effort!

Zachary LOVED every bit of it!

Pure toddler joy!
After the animals, we finally made it to the pumpkin patch, also known as the coldest, windiest place on earth! We didn't stay very long because we were just too cold! When we left, Thomas was shivering and kept saying through his chattering teeth, "It windy, Momma! It windy!"
My little pumpkin princess!
Thomas, Jonathan, Reagan, Zachary
They are SO ready to get out of the cold! But can I say I love the camo fleeces! I hope at some point this season to get a really good shot of the boys in these fleeces.
After escaping the frigid pumpkin patch, we visited the little store and Michelle purchased a bag of apples that she let the kids fill for her. Mine, especially Reagan, had a blast getting to pick out apples from the big boxes to fill Michelle's bag. Then she very generously sent us home with half of them! And let me say, those were some of the sweetest, yummiest apples I've ever had! The Fruit and Berry Patch was a lot of fun. We will definitely go there again! We hope to go at berry-picking time!
Also, since we're talking yummy food, I'd like to share that I made some delicious Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread last week. I got the recipe from another quad mom when she mentioned it on her blog. You should try it too!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Some Thoughts on Sewing

This was the third year that I have made the kids' costumes for Halloween. I can thank my friend Michelle for starting this tradition when she sugested we make the kids' candy corn costumes for their first Halloween.

The kids may have hated the hats, but these costumes were really easy to make. Nice straight lines. Velcro shoulder straps. All four just the same. Michelle's sewing skills to guide me. Easy peasy!

Last year was a little more ambitious. My sister lent me Kinley's ladybug costume for Reagan, and Michlle conveniently had a bumblebee costume from her own children, so I decided to make two more bumblebee costumes, using Michelle's as a guide. I just guessed at how to accomplish this task, since I had no pattern and wouldn't have known what to do with one if I DID have it having never sewn an article of clothing in my life. However, at least the two costumes were the same shape, so what I learned by making one could be applied to the other. And I was pretty proud of the results. From a distance at least, they look just as good as the store-bought one!

And this year I decided the kids would be pirates. Those costumes shouldn't be too hard right? No zippers. Baggy clothes. No problem! Well, no problem for someone who knows what they're doing! The costumes were difficult in and of themselves, but none of them were the same, so what I learned from making one didn't necessarily help me in making the next one! One jacket, two vests, a pair of pants, a skirt, and one belt. I'm proud of the results, given my level of sewing training, but I can't help but think how much better they'd be if I had actually known what I was doing!

My mom knows how to sew. She tried to teach me at least once, but I had no interest in it then. I regret it now because a little basic knowledge could really help me out every October! But how was I to know at the age of 10 (or whatever I was then) that I would someday have a need to make 4 Halloween costumes every year! Oh, well. I guess I'll just continue to muddle through, and maybe next year I'll pick something ghosts. Four white sheets and eight eye holes, done!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Shiver Me Timbers!

(First, let me assure you that there is no real potty training excitement to report yet. I had an ambitious plan. Now I have a more leisurely one. I'll tell you all about it later. I just didn't want you to think there was anything big going on here that I was keeping you in suspense about!)

(Now, please imagine your very best pirate voice) Avast, me hearties, and a happy Post-Halloween to ye! We set sail for adventure on the high seas over here and were rewarded with a haul of pirate booty! Join us, won't ye, as I spin ye a tale of conquest and plunder!

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me!

As we are but newly pirates, we tried out our pillaging skills at an unlucky local church before embarking on our true journey to discover Halloween treasure. We arrived in true pirate style!

Arrrr! And we brought along a couple of pirate wenches to show us the way to the best spots for plunder this church had to offer! Thank ye, Sabrina, for helping us in our exploits! Ye were certainly a great help!
We found the locals to be easy prey and robbed them blind without brandishing a single sword! Which was lucky, since we had no swords to brandish!

After taking on all the booty we could carry, we posed for a victory picture to celebrate our pirate glory!

Arrrr! Thank ye Farragut Church of Christ for being such willing victims! We look forward to visiting ye again next year! Pictured above, Pirates Reagan, Jonathan, Thomas and Zachary
And thank ye to Gwen and Pam too for helping to put the finishing touches on me costumes!
Having successfully completed our first looting, me hearties were ready to take on the biggest Halloween treasure!

Pirate Jonathan
Pirate Zachary, refusing once again to wear his head scarf

Pirates Reagan and Zachary hold Carter the vicious giraffe at bay

Pirate Thomas

Beware, ye scurvy dogs!

Avast, ye scalawags, or we'll make ye walk the plank!
Counting the booty!

Arrr! The pirate's life for us alright! What a haul of pirate gold we brought in that night! Not a single scurvy dog stood up to our menacing advances! Not even after Pirate Zachary lost his mind over who knows what and had to be returned to the ship. A man down and still the neighborhood was no match for us! Pirate Captain Momma may have kept us from entering and overtaking each and every house we came to, but she couldn't stop us from pillaging to our heart's content! Many thanks to Carter the wild giraffe and his gang of cutthroats who accompanied us on our rampage! And a special thank ye to Gammy who travelled far to join in the pirating fun!
We can't wait to do it again next year! Arrrr!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Coming Soon

Okay, I know I've been absent lately. I've been really busy and I'm not done yet, but I wanted to pop in real quick to at least let you all know that we are not deathly ill or anything. We've been fighting some colds which have kept us out of church nurseries but not out of the pumpkin patch, nor did they keep us from the Fall Festival or trick-or-treating. So we've had a lot going on and all the things that didn't get done because those things were going on have just piled up and piled up and now I have a lot of catching up to do and I don' just mean on the blog! I'm way behind in several areas right now! And there's so much to tell you about! But I just don't have time right now, so I'll leave you with a few pics to give you a glimpse of what we've been up to and will post as soon as I can!


Picking a good one

A pretty hefty Halloween clue!


The time has finally come...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I Love It When You Say That

As I've mentioned before, I LOVE the kids' ever-expanding vocabularies! They are always amazing me with the new words and phrases they pick up. Lately I've been particularly impressed by three things:

1. The use of adverbs (maybe that's an English teacher thing!) Like when Thomas told me that his blanket was PROBABLY on his bed. Probably? It's PROBABLY on your bed? You understand and can properly use the word PROBABLY?!? To me, that's a serious jump in cognitive development, the idea that something may or may not be in a particular place. I don't know, it really struck me.

2. Saying "please" and "thank you" without being prompted and understanding that "please" sometimes gets you things you wouldn't have gotten if you hadn't said "please." Every morning when I hand out the kids' breakfasts, they almost always say, "Tanks, Momma!" And if I don't say "You're welcome!" right away, they keep thanking me until I do!

Sometimes, when they ask for something and don't get it, they repeat the request with an added "please," which I have to admit, usually works. But not always:

Example: Reagan has eaten the fruit off her dinner plate, but nothing else.

Reagan: Mo pears?
Me: No, you can't have more pears. Eat your chicken.
Reagan: Peez? (Please)
Me: No, eat your chicken.
Reagan: Peez, mo pears? Peez? Peez!
Me: NO, eat your chicken.
Reagan: PEEEEEEEEEEZ! PEEEEEEEEZ! (with tears even)
Me: I appreciate your good use of the word please, but no, you have to eat your chicken.

3. Being specific. That is, actually telling me what they want instead of just pointing, gesturing, and making vague references and hoping I figure it out. For example, instead of handing me the bubbles and grunting eagerly, Reagan will hand me the bubbles and say, "Bow my bubbles, peez." And since she asked so nicely, I will stop what I'm doing and blow her some bubbles.

Unfortunately, this skill rarely extends to explaining why someone is crying, unless it's Thomas. He's pretty good at telling you who pushed him or that he fell down or he hurt his knee. The others are more likely to just look at you and continue crying.

There are also some special words and phrases that I LOVE to hear the kids say, either because what they are saying is so cute or HOW they say it is so cute.

I love it when I grab hold of Jonathan's leg and he says, "Weggo! Weggo, Momma!"

I love to hear Zachary say his own name "Za-say!" especially when he declares, "It's me! Za-say!"

I love to hear Reagan call Zachary "Ya-ya"

I love to hear Thomas shout after someone or something "You come back here!" He always changes up the inflections or runs words together: Youuuuuu comebakere! YOU come BACK here! You comebak heeere! It's too cute!

I've got no time for pics right now, but I'll try to get some posted really soon!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

When Your Own Bed just Won't Do

In the last week and half or so, on four separate occasions, I have gone in to check on the kids at night to discover an empty bed. It is a very disconcerting feeling to open the door, do a quick scan of the room, and only count three children. Although rationally I know that there is no way that one of the kids could have DISAPPEARED from the room, I can't help that little bit of panic that starts to grow inside me!

Of course, the missing child is always found, sleeping peacefully somewhere else in the room. The first night it was Zachary missing. I found him curled up in bed with Jonathan. I probably would have left him there if he hadn't at that moment rolled over and kicked Jonathan in the head. The next night it was Reagan. Strangely enough, she was asleep in the floor beside her bed, but not at the foot end of it where there is no railing and she might have rolled off in her sleep. She was asleep at the head end right next to the railing. Odd. The next night it was Zachary again. This time he was in bed with Thomas and actually laid out across Thomas' legs. I don't know how Thomas was sleeping with him like that!

And then there was last was Zachary again. Whose bed is he in this time? I wondered. I scanned the other beds for extra bodies, but found none. I scanned the floor between the beds, nothing. I turned in a circle and scanned the rest of the floor. Had he curled up in a corner somewhere? Nothing! I checked the beds again, looked more closely, lifted blankets, NOTHING! Where in the world could he be?!? I could feel the panic rising. He HAS to be in here! Where? WHERE? In the closet? In a drawer? Under the bed? Hmm...under the bed...Zachary's bed is missing its drawer underneath because the kids played in it and broke it, so there is room to crawl under his bed, and Zachary DOES like to crawl under there. I looked under the bed and sure enough there was a dark toddler-sized mass there. I reached out to feel for skin and make sure it wasn't just a blanket. Eureka! I found him! But did I get him out? No. I went, laughing, to tell Jim first! I wish I could have taken a picture! Jim returned with me and expertly lifted the side of the bed and removed the sleeping child with minimal disturbance.

It reminds me of the time my parents came to check on my sister and me one night when we were very small. We were sharing a double bed pushed up against the wall. Jodie was sleeping next to the wall and I, as the older sister, was sleeping on the outside to make sure she didn't roll off the bed. However, when they came in to check on us, there I was sleeping away, and Jodie was nowhere to be found! They finally located her under the bed. There was no way she fell through by the wall, so we assume she rolled over me, into the floor, and then under the bed, and we both slept through the whole thing. Seriously heavy sleeping!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

OR "Big Kid Beds Part 2"

Yes, we are still struggling with our transition into big kid beds. For part 1, click here.

The kids have been in their big beds just under 2 months now. Little has changes since my last post, except the furniture in the room! A couple of weeks ago I went in to get the kids one morning and was surprised to open the door and find two children on top of the dresser, one half-way there, and the fourth waiting her turn to "climb the ladder" they had made by pulling out the dresser drawers. That same afternoon, a loud clunk followed by screaming brought me quickly to their room during "naptime" to discover one child on the table and Thomas wailing at the base of it with a mouth full of blood. I scooped him up and rushed from the room (I think I might have taken a second to get Zachary down off the table before leaving the room) to assess the damage.

Thomas had some extra skin attaching the underside of his upper lip to his gums which we had been warned would bust someday in a fall and bleed a lot, but that it was fine. Well, he had certainly busted that and it did indeed bleed a lot! He had also busted his lip. But I could find nothing more serious, and he perked up pretty fast.

Thomas proudly displays his battle scar
Both of those pieces of furniture were removed from the room that night before bedtime. This brought on a rearrangement of the beds, so now they are all in a row. I like this arrangement much better, and it has certainly been kinder to my legs. I don't run into the beds every time I turn around anymore, and the huge bruises have been allowed to heal!

Four little beds all in a row, but Daddy didn't put them in birth order, and REMARKABLY I haven't changed them

So I continue to be the warden in their room when it's time to go to sleep. At naptime I stay in their room until all four children have fallen asleep which has taken anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour and a half. Most days it's about 30 minutes. In the long run this is worth the effort because I am almost guaranteed a full hour if not more of total sleeping peace once they are all asleep. If I don't wait until they are all asleep, as soon as I'm gone, whoever is awake jumps out of bed and wakes the sleepers up and it's party time! Then there is NO PEACE AT ALL! So it's worth the sacrifice of time to wait on them to all fall asleep.

At night I don't wait for them to all fall asleep. I stay in their room until they seem calm, and then I leave. Then Jim and I trade off going back in there when they are too loud or out of bed or whatever inappropriate behavior is going on. Eventually they all go to sleep. Some nights we only have to go in a handful of times. Other nights it feels like one of us is in there every five minutes for up to two hours!

It seems like we get into a pattern of good nights, but then if ANYTHING out of the ordinary happens they get all riled up and we start a series of bad nights. Just about the time we get back into the good nights, something disrupts the pattern and we start all over again. But it just can't be helped!

And so we continue this big bed transition. I keep reminding myself that it won't be like this forever. Someday they'll understand. Won't they? Sigh...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Just for Fun

I was introduced to this website when my good friend Becky posted about it on her blog a little while ago. It's called Yearbook Yourself, and it allows you to upload a picture of yourself and try out your face with some classic yearbook styles and poses from 1950 through 2000. Her pics were great and I just had to try it out for myself! Here are the ones I liked most:






How fun is that?!? It was really interesting to see myself as a blond! (And for some of you it may have been interesting just to see me without glasses! Back in the good old days, my eyes tolerated contacts, but alas, those days are no more!) There were other great styles, but I just couldn't get my face to look right in them. Either the angle wasn't right, or the lighting was too different, or whatever. Still it was way fun and I think everybody should go do it too!

And as the grans is a shot of me in real life with my real haircut which is much less new now than it was when I first mentioned it. It's not the best shot of my hair, but I think you can get the picture!

Mom and her sweet girl!