Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Brand New Year

2010 is almost here. It doesn't really feel like New Year's Eve to me, but that has more to do with spending the evening watching football than the fact that I'm old and home rather than young and out.

I am excited that Clay and Carey and the kids are here for a visit! I wish ALL the cousins could get together more often, but we take what we can get!

Anyway, I know the blog has been severely neglected lately, but I make this New Year's promise to you: the first week of 2010 will bring you lots of new posts about all our Christmas activities, complete with loads of pictures!

Until then, a belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Reagan's Past Life

I was throwing a beanbag back & forth with Reagan this afternoon and told her that KayKay had made that beanbag for me when I was a little girl. She then promptly informed me that when SHE was a little girl she had played with the beanbag and thrown it to Baby KayKay.

I'm sure Baby KayKay enjoyed it!

These kids come up with the most interesting things sometimes!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhon

Friday, December 18, 2009

Naughty or Nice?

Once upon a time, two parents took four preschoolers to see Santa.

It had all the makings of a disaster: the kids had no nap, I forgot to bring any drinks or snacks, it was FREEZING cold but we somehow left the house with no jackets, we ate late AT A RESTAURANT something we never do, and the kids were up way past their normal with-a-nap bedtime.

But God smiled upon us this night, and a Christmas miracle happened! The kids were WONDERFUL!!! No one was as surprised as I was!

We went to see Santa at the Bass Pro Shops (because it’s free!) so we had the extra entertainment of looking at the fish in the big fish tank and all the stuffed animals that decorate the store. They LOVE fish tanks! (Note: DO NOT BUY US ANY FISH!!!)


The line to see Santa was longer than we expected, and Jim wanted to just forget it, but there was a train set nearby that the kids were quite content to watch, so I insisted we stay, at least as long as they were behaving.


Once the line put us too far away to continue standing by the trains, we managed to distract the kids by pointing out all the things you could see in the store, and then had to get a little more creative: What colors do you see on the Christmas tree? Who can count all the red lights? Now let’s count the green lights!

Finally, we reached the front of the line. Jim and I had decided to do the kids in pairs so each child could sit in Santa’s lap. Jim went first with Jonathan and Zachary. Here you can almost catch the look of surprise when Santa found out this pair was half of a set of quads!


Then Santa insisted on having all four of the kids at once. He was a WONDERFUL Santa, calling them each by name and giving them lots of attention. He insisted on taking a picture with all four, and then also with 2 and 2, so everyone could sit in his lap.


Of course, not everyone was WILLING to sit in Santa’s lap! Zachary didn’t even really want to be this close. He wouldn’t stand beside Santa for the picture, but agreed to stand “beside Reagan”! Ha! So we came away with three free pictures with Santa, none of which are seen here because I haven’t scanned them into the computer yet. We took these ourselves.


Santa was great, and he made a really big deal over us. I felt kind of bad for all the people standing in line behind us, waiting for us to hurry and wrap the quad party up!

After Santa, we went across the way to the Smokies Stadium where Shadrack’s has a second musical lights display this year. The first one is out in Farragut. It was amazing to see all the lights flashing in time to the music, and the kids really enjoyed it as long as we kept moving. They didn’t understand why Mom and Dad would want to stop the car and just sit and watch the lights. No meltdowns, but a fair amount of whining.

After that, it was LATE and we hadn’t even had dinner yet! On a whim we decided to brave the Cracker Barrel. We’ve been there once before, but that was on the way to the beach this past summer and I was sick, so it wasn’t our very best experience. This time, it was GREAT!

It helped that it was late in the evening and not crowded. We were seated immediately and got our food quickly. We were also able to snag some extra peg-jump games from nearby empty tables so everyone could have their own. The kids amused themselves forever taking the pegs out, putting them back in, and lining them up in rows on the table. They were SO GOOD! In fact, two different people from other tables took the time to tell us how impressed they were with our kids! Wow!

And the final bonus: they went to sleep SO FAST!!

What a great night!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Headed for Christmas at Full Speed

We have been SO BUSY!!! The last few weeks are really a blur of shopping, decorating, baking, and Christmasing in general. It’s been difficult for me to find time to sit down and share with all of you. This morning, however, I MAKING time, and I hope you will enjoy a few pics of the things we’ve been up to.

The festivities are extra fun this year because the kids are so much more aware and have their own expectations. They know Santa is coming. They couldn’t wait to put up the tree! Christmas day can’t get here fast enough!

One thing that is helping them somewhat to have a concept of “how many days until Christmas” is a countdown chain they made at preschool. It’s a chain of numbered constructions paper links hanging from a little Christmas tree, and every day you remove one link so you are that much closer to the big day. Additionally, I stuck a smiley face on the day we leave for Bud and KayKay’s house, so we’re counting down to both. After we remove a link, we count how many days are left. I’ll try to get a pic soon.

One of the first things we did this month to prepare for Christmas was put up my grandmother’s old aluminum tree. This was the first year I put it up for the kids, and they really loved helping out. I loved doing it because it brought back happy memories of all the years Jodie and I put that tree up at my grandmother’s house. She always saved it for us! We got out the old color wheel and everything!



The next day, I helped the kids make ornaments for it since we hadn’t yet gotten down all the boxes of decorations from the attic.


We had planned on trying out a real tree this year but the weather and the kids’ impatience conspired against this idea, and we put up the artificial one instead. Here is Jonathan helping Dad put the star on top.


We’ve even gotten to play in the snow this month, something I feel certain has never happened since I’ve lived here in Knoxville!




We even built a snowman! What a fun morning! We played and played and then went inside and had hot chocolate! Well, except for Jonathan who refuses all things chocolate. Sometimes I think he must have accidentally gotten switched with some other child in the NICU! He certainly didn’t get this from me!

Additionally, we have also written letters to Santa, taken the kids shopping for stockings to finally replace the “Baby’s First Christmas” ones we’ve been using, watched Christmas specials (Rudolph and the Grinch are this year's favs), baked 10 dozen cookies for a cookie swap (that was me, not the kids), visited Santa himself, taken Christmas card pics and ordered the cards, and looked at lots of Christmas lights in neighborhoods and one professional show! Whew! And Christmas isn’t even here yet!

I do have pics of the Santa visit, just not with me at the moment, so you can look forward to those and the story that goes with them. Here are some thoughts to keep in mind…How do you entertain 4 preschoolers while waiting in line to see Santa? Who was the ONE child who refused to sit in Santa’s lap? What happens when JonZReaTom doesn’t get a nap and then goes out in public? To a restaurant even? There’s just so much to tell!

Merry Christmas!

Jonathan Update

Just to fill everyone in…as you know from the previous post, Jonathan had an unexpected allergic reaction on Thanksgiving that prompted a trip to the ER and banishment from Granny’s house until the mystery allergen could be discovered.

Well, we have since been to the allergist, and Jonathan is indeed allergic to CATS! There is infinite sadness in my heart over this, as I am a huge cat-lover and entertained great dreams of the cats that would one day grace our home. Alas. At least for now, it is not to be. Maybe Jonathan will grow out of this allergy one day. A mom can hope!

In the meantime, to prevent future ER trips, we will keep special meds for him handy at all times. We will never again travel without them. And in preparation for our upcoming trip to Bud and KayKay’s house (a house shared with a cat), Jonathan is on a daily inhaled steroid which we will continue until we leave Memphis.

We anticipate no further problems, hopefully! I’ll keep you posted!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

So How Was Your Thanksgiving?

Well, ours was great…except for that whole trip to the emergency room thing! I know some of you have been waiting impatiently for this story. Well, it’s finally here!

The day started off fine. We got up, got dressed, had some pancakes, and hit the road for Granny Kat’s house to spend Thanksgiving with Jim's family in Jasper. Everything was fine.

We arrived around noon, and the kids headed for the box of toys they knew was waiting for them. Everything was fine!

DSC_0524 Zachary and Jonathan with Gammy

But then Jonathan started sneezing. And then he started coughing…a lot. And then he started struggling to get enough breath to talk, which was rough for little Jonathan because he’s a TALKER! These symptoms progressed pretty quickly, and of course we didn't bring the nebulizer or any medicine at all, so it didn’t take long before we felt like a trip to the emergency room was pretty much a necessity.

So Jim took Jonathan to the ER. (Luckily there’s a hospital in Jasper!) and I stayed at Granny’s with the rest of the kids and Jim's family.

Before they even reached the hospital, Jonathan had stopped coughing and sneezing. When they got there, they checked Jonathan’s O2 sats and they were 94 and then 98 before he even got his first breathing treatment. They did give him a breathing treatment, then took some chest x-rays and did some blood work. All of this looked good. They gave him another breathing treatment before releasing him. The diagnosis was asthma-related allergy attack (or allergy-induced asthma attack, I’m not real sure) and Jim was advised not to take Jonathan back into Granny’s house.

We’re not really sure what caused this attack. We’ve been to Granny’s house several times before without any problems. Granny recently got a cat, so the cat is suspect #1, but Jonathan has been around cats before without any problems at all.

Since Jonathan was forbidden to re-enter Granny’s house, we had to cut our visit short and leave pretty soon after he and Jim got back from the hospital. It was a disappointment for everyone. Jim and Jonathan didn’t get to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner (which was delicious!) with the rest of us, Jonathan didn’t get to play with Gammy’s toys as long as he wanted to, and Jim hardly got to visit with his family at all.

On the upside, Jim and Jonathan did enjoy some really nice one-on-one time when Jonathan told his Daddy all the things he would do when HE was a daddy, like shave and make pancakes and give kisses to his babies “just like you do, Daddy!”

Heart-melting adorableness!

Anyway, he’s been fine ever since. Friday we contacted our pediatrician’s office and we should have an appointment with an allergist this week to hopefully find out for sure what triggered this strange allergic reaction. Personally, I hope it wasn’t the cat. I love cats and have high hopes of us having a cat one day.

Our Thanksgiving may not have been what we had hoped for, but it did make us realize one more thing that we’re thankful for. We are very thankful that God has provided us with hospitals, doctors, and nurses who can care for our children, especially in an emergency situation!

We sincerely hope that you all had wonderful Thanksgivings, but if they weren’t so wonderful, we hope that you were at least able to realize what your blessings are and be thankful for something you might have otherwise taken for granted!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Blast from the Past

I was going through some old picture files recently and came across this video. I’m pretty sure I never posted it before. I feel like I tried to post it, but the uploader wouldn’t work and I gave up. WELL, HERE IT IS!!

It’s not recent at all. This was taken in August of 2008, just after the kids turned 2, but it’s just so darn cute! They literally used to do this nearly every day! Not so much anymore. Part of growing up, I suppose. Alas.

Oh, well. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fight for Preemies

Today is a special day dedicated to raising awareness about premature births.

My kiddos were born 6 weeks early. They were rushed almost immediately to the NICU, and although Jonathan, Zachary, and Reagan were all healthy enough to go home days before I was, Thomas was not. His tiny baby lungs were under-developed and he struggled for weeks to learn to breathe and eat on his own. He remained in the NICU a full month longer than his siblings, and when he finally came home for good, it was with daily breathing treatments and frequent visits to the pulmonologist to keep an eye on his lung development.

And as scary as his situation was at times. it was nothing compared to the experiences that many parents have to go through due to the premature births of their babies. Tiny, tiny babies born incredibly early, struggling not just to breathe on their own, but to live at all, and if they can make it through their first months, they may still face a lifetime of sickness and disabilities.

Every year 20 million babies are born prematurely. Some premature births, like my kids and other multiples, are expected and unavoidable. A woman’s belly, though it can get more humongous than you would ever think possible, does eventually reach its limit. There just isn’t room in there to carry multiple babies for a full 40 weeks. But there are also lots of seemingly healthy singleton pregnancies, that suddenly end with premature births, and doctors don’t always know why.

And so today, I and other bloggers write to share our stories and raise awareness.

For more information on premature births and ways you can help, please visit The March of Dimes.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Things We Love #2

Laurie Berkner!!!

I know, I know, she’s not for everyone.  I have some very good friends who don’t like her a bit, although their son does!

At OUR house, however, we are BIG FANS!

If you don’t know who Laurie Berkner is, let me enlighten you!  She is the head of the Laurie Berkner Band, a group that appears regularly for music numbers on NickJr (formerly Noggin), especially on the show Jack’s Big Music Show.

Her songs are often silly (“Pig On Her Head”) and mostly fast-paced (“My Energy”), but they also have really nice lessons (“I’m Not Perfect”).  I love that her songs encourage my kids (okay, me too!) to get up and dance!  A few months ago, a one-hour show dedicated to Laurie and her music aired on NickJr.  I recorded it and the kids and I watch it often! 

Here’s a clip of the kids watching and dancing!  (It’s a little long…you don’t have to watch it all!)

Check out the Laurie Berkner Band!  She’s sure to have you dancing too!

Note: I have not been paid by Laurie or anyone associated with her for this endorsement!  I just really think she’s great!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Declaration from the King


Hear ye! Hear ye! By order of His Royal Highness, King Thomas the Wild, that it doth serve his supreme pleasure, all subjects of the quad-dom are hereby instructed to read and enjoy the following tales and illustrations. Due to his unending generosity, King Thomas hath provided these words for the benefit of all subjects, rich and poor alike, that through his wisdom, thine own lives shall be uplifted.

Providence hath seen fit of late to plague our glorious quad-dom with the evils of a most fearsome and vicious dragon. This very dragon hath ravaged the countryside for many a fortnight and didst take refuge in the mountains ere it could be slain. There the loathsome creature hideth, spreading fear throughout the realm


Fear of the dragon didst spread even to the very palace of the king, casting a shadow over the pure loveliness of Our Gracious Lady Reagan.


Good King Thomas therefore didst assemble all his mighty knights, that he might send them out to conquer the irksome beast and free his people of this terror. All the knights trembled at the task, save one. Sir Jonathan the Brave didst feel no fear of the dragon. He set forth on his perilous journey to slay the beast.


Sir Jonathan’s quest was long and full of danger, yet never did he turn back in fear. He pressed on with the utmost courage, til he didst discover the dragon’s lair. Such a battle then ensued that wouldst cause thy hairs to turn white upon thy head didst thou hear its details. In the end, victory was won by Brave Sir Jonathan of the Family Harris of the House of Jim, and he didst incredibly tame the dragon and bring it home to suit the pleasure of the king.


With joy didst the royal family welcome home their brave knight, and all the people of the quad-dom didst rejoice over the taming of the dragon.


Therefore, in his infinite goodness, King Thomas wisheth thee a most Happy and Dragon-free Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Little Pumpkins

Well, Halloween is TOMORROW, and we have had some lovely fall weather and fun fall festivities, and I have posted about NONE of it! So let’s get started before I find myself sharing Halloween stories in January!

This month we have visited two different pumpkin patches, the same ones we went to last year. First we went to The Fruit and Berry Patch where the kids each got to pick a pumpkin of their very own. They really loved getting to choose their own pumpkin. I told them as long as they could carry it themselves, they could have it! As you can see, we went with our good friends David and Abby (and Michelle, of course). It was a lot of fun and not nearly as bitterly cold as last year!


In addition to the pumpkin patch, there was also a corn maze, which we enjoyed exploring. Michelle and I are sure that it is at least three feet taller than last year! (All the rain we’ve had this year, we assume!)

DSC_0068 Children of the Corn


Michelle took pictures this trip too, so if she has good ones that MUST be seen by the world, then this trip will make a reappearance at some point.

Last weekend we went to the pumpkin patch at a church right up the street from us. Jim and I have been buying our Halloween pumpkins there since we moved into this house seven years ago! The kids were fascinated by the odd pumpkins there, like this reddish bumpy one.


Reagan pumpkin field

Jonathan Pumpkin

Group Pumpkin

(in back) Thomas (in front) Zachary, Reagan, Jonathan

Now we are all ready to carve our jacko’lanterns tomorrow! Very exciting! We hope your month has been as festive as ours! Happy Fall!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Masters of Destruction

I have some melmac (or melamine) dishes that I absolutely love! Actually, I have two sets. One was my mom’s and the other was her mom’s. What I love about them is that they are so durable. We use them every day, and I can put them in the dishwasher and not have to worry about them chipping. They are practically indestructible! Otherwise, they wouldn’t have lasted this long!

They are NOT, however, completely indestructible. Like a diamond that can only be scratched by another diamond, a melmac dish pounded by a three-year-old wielding another melmac dish will break. I know this because I now have one less bowl than I used to.

And Thomas found out the answer to the burning question, “What will happen if I pound these two bowls together?”



Things We Love #1

This is the first in a series of posts that will share some of the things we love here at our house.

The first one is The Swivel Sweeper! I think this was originally one of those fabulous infomercial products that has now made the leap to retail stores. Mine came from Target, and I have also seen it at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

My Aunt Nancy was the first to love the Sweeper, and she insisted my mom get one too. So Mom did, and she loves it too! And when I tried it out at her house, I knew I HAD TO HAVE ONE! Happily, my parents gave me one for my birthday which coincided with that same Memphis trip! That was back in March ,and I still love my Sweeper!

In case you don’t already know, the Swivel Sweeper is basically a vacuuming broom.

Why I love the Sweeper:

(By the way, I’m not getting paid or anything to write this. The Sweeper folk don’t even know who I am!)

1. It’s perfect if you have small children who REALLY want to help you clean. My kids always wanted to sweep the kitchen floor, but all they really did with a broom was spread the crumbs around, and the vacuum is too heavy for them. The Sweeper is light enough that they can use it and actually clean!


2. It works on hard floors AND carpet, so it’s so easy to clean the kitchen floor after a meal or the living room carpet after some little darling upturns a bowl of Cheerios.

3. The base is really thin so it runs easily under low furniture where my regular vacuum won’t go.

4. The battery lasts a pretty long time and is rechargeable (charger included).

5. The collected dirt comes out through a trap door on the bottom of the sweeper, but the release for the door is on top so you never have to touch the dirt!

Now don’t get me wrong! It’s not perfect. It certainly won’t replace a regular vacuum! It won’t pick up large chunks of dirt, like fat Cheetos, and it doesn’t like really shaggy carpet like what we have in our playroom. Eventually, you (or someone you love) will need to flip it over and clean the brushes. It picks up a lot of hair which gets tangled in the brushes and impedes their movement. Jim has done this once since we got it back in March. Also, if it ever accidentally gets flipped upside down while it’s running, it will shoot crumbs out all over the place.

That being said, if you have small children (and no dog to eat all the crumbs off your floor!) you will LOVE the Swivel Sweeper!

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Most Fun those Lockers Have Ever Had

This is way overdue but I took the picture with my phone and only recently bothered to figure out how to send it somewhere useful.

Back in August, the kids and I paid a visit to friends at South-Doyle where I used to teach. While there, the kids provided much entertainment for everyone, much LOUD entertainment unfortunately. Sorry, guys!

But if you could get past the locker slamming, they were VERY cute, don’t you think?


Friday, October 9, 2009

Strange Things Happen When the Sun Goes Down

You know those things your kids do that are so wacky and yet so very that child and endearing that you think you'll never forget them? Yet somehow, time passes and the child gets older and stops doing that thing and then you DO FORGET or at least the memory of it fades away? For example, when Reagan was an infant she had this cry, a scream really, that was so distinctly hers and so remarkably different from the boys' cries. It had a vibration to it. It was unlike any baby cry I have ever heard, and Jim and I would say, One of these days we really need to get that recorded so we don't forget what it sounds like!

But we never did, and now it's a distant memory.

When Thomas was a slightly older infant, he LOVED the doorway jumper, and he figured out that if he held his foot just so and wriggled his toes just right, he could get it to spin round and round in circles. We also never got this on tape.

Well, there are a few things that the kids are doing that aren't really recordable because they happen at night, but I at least want to take a moment and share them here while they are fresh memories.

I know I have discussed the nighttime head-banging before, and I am pleased to report that it has greatly diminished in frequency. I can't remember the last time I woke up to hear someone (Jonathan) banging a headboard or wall. This habit has been replaced with others. For Jonathan it is sleeping in the floor. I may have mentioned this before also, I can't remember, but he's still doing it. Not every night, but regularly, we find him in the floor beside his bed when we check on the kids before going to bed ourselves. He always takes his blanket with him, but not generally anything else. Most of the time he is right beside the bed, often halfway under it, but every now and then, he is out in the middle of the room. We return him to his bed, and he usually stays there, but sometimes I'll find him back in the floor in the morning or at some point in the night when I happen to be paying their room a visit.

The other habit to relate comes from Reagan. She likes to show up in our room in the middle of the night and stare at me. I'll wake up with the feeling that I'm being watched, but not in a creepy way like someone has broken into the house. I'll open my eyes and there she'll be.

Hi, baby, I whisper. Do you need anything?

At that point, she either tries to climb into bed with us or steps back a pace and holds out her hand for me to escort her back to bed. Oh, but wait! She wants water first! Always there must be water. I used to take her back to bed and then have to com all the way back to the kitchen to get water and take it all the way back to her room before I could go back to bed myself, but now I just go straight to the water and don't wait for her to ask for it.

Now, I realize that lots of kids come into their parents' room in the middle of the night wanting water or crawling into bed, but this is something that Reagan does and the boys do not, so it sets her apart.

What cute things did/do your kids do?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A First!

As I’ve mentioned before, when the kids get in the car after preschool, I ask them what they did that day, and they tell me about all the things they ate. Well, a week or so ago, I finally got a new answer! What could it have been? The thing so wonderful it knocked the lunchtime food stats down a notch?

Pumpkin Pie Playdough!

The kids were so excited about having made playdough at preschool that day, they could hardly stop talking about it! Since it was such a hit, and since the teacher conveniently included the recipe with the other papers that came home that day, I thought I’d share it with all of you!

Pumpkin Pie Playdough

5 1/2 cups flour

2 cups salt

8 tsp cream of tartar

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1 (1 1/2 oz) container pumpkin pie spice

orange food coloring (2 parts yellow, 1 part red)

4 cups water

Mix all of the ingredients together. Cook and stir over medium heat until all lumps disappear. Knead the dough on a floured surface until it is smooth. Store in an airtight container.

The best part about it is the smell! It’s so perfect for fall! And I love that this recipe could easily be modified for other holidays. Specifically, I can envision mint-scented Christmas playdough. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

What the Potty Taught Me

Potty Update: Currently all four of my children are using the potty, at least part of the time!

Thomas is fully potty-trained, both day and night. Woohoo!

Reagan is daytime trained, but not night. Sometimes, she wakes up dry, but not always. Still a Woohoo!

Jonathan and Zachary are not quite there yet. They both use the potty most of the time, but still struggle with pooping accidents in particular. J is doing better than Z, as he will poop in the potty about half the time (Z almost never does) and will use the big potty when needed (Z refuses to sit on it). But that's okay. It will come in time. I keep reminding myself that Reagan has been using the potty for 7 months and Zachary only 2. These things take time!

Here are a few things I have learned from potty training so far:

1. If you are not a patient person, potty training will teach you to be patient. If it doesn't, you'll go to prison for killing your child. Lucky for my kids, I've discovered that my well of patience only runs that dry after extreme provocation, at which point it tends to refill with a reserve of despair rather than anger. Then I just give up and turn on the TV.

2. The right incentive can work a miracle! The trick is finding the right incentive. I started all the kids out with stickers and candy. The candy type has changed periodically, mostly because Jonathan won't eat M&Ms (he's picky about his chocolate). Currently, we're using Smarties. All the kids like them, and they're pretty cheap as candy goes. Zachary has been the hardest. So far, nothing has been a real great incentive for him, although I admit that I haven't tried as hard to find new and creative incentives for him. I think I'm just over it now.

3. When shopping for underwear, at least in the beginning, buy the cheap ones and get twice as much as you think you'll need. You won't believe how many pairs of underwear a child can go through in a single day. Laundry is my Sisyphean task. I keep doing it, but the baskets just keep filling up.

4. Did I mention patience?

5. If your child sits in a booster seat at the kitchen table, put a towel between the booster seat and the actual chair. This way, when your child has an accident while sitting in the booster seat, it will run through the strap hole and then soak up into the towel, rather than getting all over the actual seat and running off into the floor. It makes cleanup a WHOLE lot easier. I wish I had figured this out a whole lot earlier!

6. Desperate times call for desperate measures. When I started focusing on Zachary, he would sit on the potty, do nothing, and then walk out of the bathroom and pee in the floor. Again and again and again! I put the potty in the living room and let him sit on it while watching TV, but he would do the same thing. He just would not use the potty. So I had to be mean. I sat him on the potty in the bathroom one midmorning and told him he couldn't get up until he put something in it. And I stuck to it. I didn't abandon him in there! I read him stories and sang songs. I brought him a snack with all the juice he could drink! But dadgummit, he was going to put something in that potty! I was prepared to make him eat lunch there, but luckily he finally peed. I really think he was afraid until that very moment. He peed in the potty and it was fine. After that, we made progress. Mean or not, it was worth it!

7. It's amazing what a little praise can do! Lately, one of my struggles is that the kids won't want to use the bathroom before a meal, but then in the middle of the meal they suddenly need to, and if one goes they all need to go, especially if they don't like what we're eating! What has helped the most is this: before a meal I suggest that everyone go use the potty, one child jumps up and actually does what I ask, I follow said child to the bathroom and declare that child the Winner of the Peepee prize! Then all the other kids come running because they want to win the Peepee Prize too. There is no actual prize, just bragging rights!

8. Best way to clean a potty: Put it in the bathtub, cover it in Scrubbing Bubbles, walk away, come back 10 minutes later and turn on the shower. Tada! The potty is clean, and you hardly had to do a thing! (Kudos to Jim for this brilliant idea!)

9. When training multiple children at the same time, resign yourself to having to give equal rewards regardless of individual skill levels. Just because Reagan quit getting candy every time she pottied months ago, when I started with the boys, we had to go right back to it. In her 3yo mind, it just wasn't fair any other way, and I didn't need that extra stress.

10. It's not fair to the fourth child that he doesn't get the same patience and attention that the first child got, so keep that in mind when it seems like he's going to start college in Pull-ups. He won't. Hopefully, he won't even start kindergarten in them.

Hopefully. I'll keep you posted.

Lovin' this New Look

Hey! Check it out! JonZReaTom has a new look! I hope you like it! I was ready for a change. It's not my dream layout, but I'm happy with it! I spent a ridiculous amount of time on it, not because it was hard, but because:

a. I couldn't make up my mind

b. I can't do anything simply

c. I was scared to death I would mess up what I already had

So I made a pretend blog for experimenting until I felt safe changing my real blog. And here it is! Enjoy!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Confessions of a Quad Mom

Being a mother of quads is no easy task. People are always saying to me, "I don't know how you do it!" Well, there's a difference between doing it (surviving the day to day chaos) and doing it well (making the chaos look easy), and despite the calm and collected front you usually see, I don't always do it well. Here are my confessions:

1. I once insisted that Jonathan drink the milk in his sippy cup, only to later open the cup and discover that the milk had curdled. Sorry Jonathan!

2. I've decided that showers are overrated. I only take one every other day or so because I simply don't have the time to do it more often than that or the energy to GET UP EARLY to take one before the start of my day. Face it, you haven't noticed, so it must not be a big deal.

3. There are still a few maternity clothing pieces hanging in my closet, and I really do still wear them, even though I haven't been pregnant for over three years.

4. One Sunday at church another mom congratulated me on being pregnant again. I have never worn THAT shirt again!

5. I use the TV as a babysitter. I know, I'm horrible, but I don't care. What would take me 2 hours, I can accomplish in 20 minutes, if the kids are watching TV. It makes us ALL happier people!

6. I really do like to talk to people, but when I'm out with the kids, I simply cannot pay attention to you and still keep track of all of them. I'm not a snob, and I really do care about what you have to say. I'm really, really sorry for always coming off so rudely.

7. If I can put it in birth order, I do. Jonathan, Zachary, Reagan, Thomas. Everyone who has ever helped out regularly with the kids knows that I do this. Cups in the fridge in birth order. Pajamas in a stack in birth order (Jonathan on top). I'm not completely obsessed with this to the point of seating them that way in the car or insisting that they always be their order in a group photo, but it does make me happy when it just works out that way. Oh, look! The kids are in birth order! Yea!

8. Sorry, Facebook friends, but I ignore almost every single one of your requests. I just don't have time to be a part of any of it. Feel free to continue to send them, just know that I'll be ignoring them. It doesn't mean I don't love you!

9. I hate brushing my kids' teeth. I hate it more than any other child-related tasks. I would rather change poopy diapers than brush teeth. I do it, of course! But I hate it! I HATE IT!!!

10. I am not a supermom. I do not have a bright red costume with matching knee-high boots hiding under my regular clothes. I'm just a regular mom. I scream at my kids when I'm angry. I don't always read to them like I should. I let them watch too much TV. I don't feed them enough vegetables.

But you can continue to TELL me I'm a supermom because it certainly makes me feel like I've got everything under control, even if I haven't showered in 2 days and I'm struggling to brush my kids' teeth while they watch TV and there's a sippy cup of milk curdling under the couch.

Disclaimer: These confessions are true, but this is not my original idea. I got this from Multiples and More, and they got it from The Hughes Triplets. Many thank to them both for this brilliant post idea!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Who Knew Eating Would Be the Highlight of Their Day?

The kids are cracking me up over preschool! They LOVE preschool! When they wake up in the morning, it’s the first thing they ask about.

Are we going to pweschool today?!?

If I answer yes, they jump out of bed and head for the potty, ready to get the day started. (Well, everyone but Zachary. He’d rather sleep a little longer!) If I answer no, they start crying. And then they want to know where we’re going to go instead or who is coming to play at our house that day because heaven forbid they are stuck at home all day with just boring mom to play with!

When I pick them up after preschool, I always ask them what they did that day, and they always have the same answer:

We ate!

Then they list off all the food they ate that day and whether or not they finished all their sandwich or their peaches or whatever I happened to pack for them. When they are finally done giving me the lunchtime stats, I might be able to wrangle out some other info about coloring or playing a game, but often my question, “What else did you do?” gets answered with more food consumption statistics.

Once a week, they are supposed to bring in a Show and Share item (like show and tell, but with the understanding that the item will be passed around and shared with all the other kids). The day before this event, I remind my kids that the next day is Show and Share and they need to pick what they want to take. Every one of them will then start scanning the room and grab the first object their eyes fall upon and clutch it like it’s a prized possession. Then I spend the rest of the afternoon in conversations like this one:

Child: I want to take THIS!

Mom: Honey, that’s a spoon. Why don’t you take this tambourine? All the kids can take turns making music with it!

Child: No, I want to take this spoon! It’s my favorite! I love it!

The first time, Reagan attached herself to a little plastic puppy which I feel certain she had never once played with before. It came as an accessory to a Strawberry Shortcake doll which she has also never played with. But she swore it was the best thing ever, refused to be talked into taking something else, carried the puppy around with her the rest of the day, had a meltdown when I wanted to put it in her school bag that night so we wouldn’t forget it, insisted on taking it to bed with her, and remembered it the second she woke up the next morning so she could put it in her bag herself.

We’ll be picking new items this afternoon. I want to take this block! I’m going to share this empty envelope! I want to take this Mr. Potato Head arm! I’m going to take this ball of fuzz! (That last one will be Zachary. He likes fuzz.)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Run Around Like Crazy and then Beat Up a Tree

Just two of the many things my children have come up with to entertain themselves this summer. Well, running around like crazy is not new, but tree-beating is. Just watch!

Run around like crazy…

…and then beat up a tree!

Disclaimer: No trees were harmed in the production of this video. Although the tree seen above is indeed a real tree, the weapons used against it are only inflatable swim rings and caused no physical damage to the tree. Emotionally, we believe the tree enjoyed the attention. Thank you.

Eye Injury, Take 2

As Queen of Blog Procrastination, I would like to share an eye injury story. Luckily, this has nothing to do with Thomas’ eye injury two and a half months ago, but rather with Jonathan who injured his eye only ONE month ago!

Also, luckily, this eye injury was not nearly as dramatic, and really only bears noting because Thomas’ WAS so dramatic. We’re not really sure what happened. Bedtime was drawing near, the kids were chasing each other around the living room, and suddenly the peals of laughter were interrupted by a thud and cries of pain.

We believe Jonathan either tripped and fell or (with some unintentional sibling help) was pushed into the entertainment center. Either way he somehow managed to hurt his eyelid while the rest of him remained surprisingly injury-free! It really looked like he pinched his eyelid somehow because the skin didn’t seem to be broken. There was no bloody mess like with Thomas, thank goodness! Here he is the next day:


So you can see that it wasn’t too bad, but it was VERY CLOSE to his eye which was really the scariest part. When his eyes were open, you couldn’t even see it! In fact, I can’t even tell you if there’s a mark left from it because I never think to make him face me with his eyes closed so I can check.

There IS still a scar from Thomas’ baseball bat run-in, but that’s to be expected. Maybe in a couple of years it will have faded to a less noticeable shade of pink! If people are still noticing it when he’s a teenager, I feel certain he’ll talk about it like this:

Cute girl: Ooo, Thomas, how did you get that scar on your eye?

T: Well, you won’t believe it, but when I was a little kid, this older kid came at me with a baseball bat! I didn’t even do anything to him! But he came at me and hit me one good time in the face and cut my eye, but I didn’t care! I turned around and grabbed ahold of the bat and wrenched it from his hands, and I was gonna hit him with it, but my brothers grabbed me and stopped me! And he ran off crying like a baby. My mom went crazy when she saw me cuz there was so much blood. It was everywhere! But I didn’t cry. It didn’t hurt at all. The dr gave me 22 stitches and said it was the worst cut he’d ever seen and I could have lost my eye!

Cute girl: Oh, Thomas, how awful! I can’t believe you were so brave as a little kid!

T: That’s nothing compared to how brave I am now!

Cute girl: (giggles) Oh, Thomas!

I’m not kidding. This will so be Thomas one day!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Quiet of an Empty House

I stand in my living room and listen to the eerie quiet of my house. It’s different from the quiet of naptime. Naptime can be a quiet time, but always with the knowledge that a child’s voice could burst through the quiet at any moment. There is no chance of that on this particular day while I stand in my living room. There are no children in my house. They aren’t just sleeping. They aren’t out back playing under the supervision of someone not me. They aren’t here…at all.

They are at preschool!

Last Friday marked the end of the kids’ first week of preschool. This is a whole new chapter of life for them and for me, but we have all embraced it with joy! The kids love it! I wake them up in the morning and they squeal excitedly, “Are we going to school today?!?” (Okay, it’s really just Reagan who squeals excitedly. The boys don’t wake up quite as perkily as she does!)

We have developed a pretty nice morning routine, one that is time-efficient. This is important since I have to get up between 6:30 and 6:45 in order for us to get to school on time. Before I even enter their room, I am ready to go and so are their lunches and school bags. I take their breakfast with me into their bedroom, but they can’t have any until they have used the potty. This makes the pottying process much faster! While they eat breakfast, I pick out their clothes and lay the outfits on the appropriate bed. When they finish eating, they get dressed. They can’t leave the room until their shoes are on. Then it’s just a matter of combing hair and we’re ready to go. So far it has been a very smooth process. Yea!

Here are the kids on their very first day, so proud with their new bags!

DSC_2707 Jonathan, Reagan, Thomas, Zachary

I swear it was totally a coincidence that the boys’ outfits matched their bags! The bags are a little big for them, but we had a hard time finding any that came in three coordinated but not identical boy versions. We really prefer for the boys not to be identical. My wonderful friend Michelle took on the mighty task of bag-hunting (as their birthday presents) and would call me to relate her frustrations: one style of bag with 2 vehicle designs, one style in 2 primary colors, one style with 2 cartoon character choices, never with three! And then she happened to find these at Old Navy. They are perfectly suited to the kids’ selves, if not their sizes. Jonathan’s has a crest on it, perfect for the first-born! Thomas’ is camo like his bib and some of his outfits. Zachary’s has 2 guitars on the front, perfect for Mr. Every-Object-I-Pick-Up-Becomes-A-Guitar. And Reagan, well, as long as it’s pink, she’s delighted!

The kids go to school 3 days a week. When I drop them off, they leave me with barely a glance back. They are SO excited to be there! No crying, no leg-clinging, no dragging them in kicking and screaming while they beg me not to leave. And I’m quite okay with it! We did the cry-every-time-Mommy-leaves thing at the church nursery, and I much prefer this! I know it doesn’t mean they don’t love me! I’m glad that they are confident enough in their own abilities and the belief that I will indeed return for them that they can simply go enjoy themselves.

And I don’t cry either. I know what a fabulous experience this is for them and for me. I am so grateful to all the people who have helped to make this possible (because preschool for four kids isn’t cheap folks!), and I don’t want to take one second away from their happiness and excitement by being weepy myself.

Whether I will be so strong when they start kindergarten remains to be seen!

And so I stand in the living room of my quiet empty house with all the possibilites of time at home to myself, and I get busy with the many projects I have swirling in my mind.

But first, I turn on the radio!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Memphis Trip, Finally!

Our trip to Memphis was a quick one. We left Friday morning and arrived in Memphis that afternoon. The kids were great in the car! Easily our best trip yet, especially since no one threw up!

Our reason for going to Memphis was so that I could go to the Sycamore View Children’s Clothing Sale, a consignment sale that Bud and KayKay’s church holds twice a year. It was great! I love consignment sales!

After shopping we all (Bud, KayKay, our family, and Jodie's family) went to The Big Back Yard exhibit at the Memphis Botanical Gardens, as I mentioned in a previous post. Here’s a shot of the music house. There were several other little houses all in a row for kids to play in too and one big two-story playhouse that we didn’t go in.


Across from the line of little houses was this stage with room to dance and instruments to play.


There were also lots of objects to climb on and through, like these giant earthworms…


…and their worm tunnels!


There was a really nice picnic area beside a giant rope spider web and a small maze for exploring. Another area had all these wooden objects to play with: blocks, a balance beam, a puppet theater, etc.


There was even a water feature; every so often it would thunder and then start “raining” and the kids could run around and get wet, although mine didn’t seem to want to. They claimed they needed bathing suits!

It was great fun for us all! It was also really well-shaded which was an extra bonus! I highly recommend going if you’re in the Memphis area!

Saturday night we went to the cousin’s house. The motorized vehicles were again a big hit, especially with the boys, but the kids still weren’t real great at steering. Mostly an adult had to walk along beside the cars and constantly turn the steering wheels so they didn’t run into people or off into the street.



Even Bud was busy, helping Thomas try out a real bicycle!


Kinley had a short chance to show off her new soccer skills before one of her cousins ran off with the ball. Below, Kallen demonstrates her goalie growl, sure to scare off the whole opposing team when she’s old enough to play!


And Daddy wore himself out giving the kids airplane rides! Wheeee!


Then it was time for popsicles and home to bed. Here, a mostly decent shot of all the cousins:


Jonathan, Thomas, Reagan, Zachary, Kallen, Kinley

On Sunday we went to church, out to eat, and then it was time to hit the road and head for home! It was a busy, quick trip, but packed with fun! In fact, the kids are still talking about it. Nearly every day one of them asks when we are going back to Bud and KayKay’s house. What’s the biggest draw? Big beds! Oddly, it seems to be what sticks in their mind the most, the fact that they got to sleep in big beds! (That is, twin beds! When your normal bed is a toddler one, even a twin seems huge!)

Monday, September 7, 2009

The New Room

We’ve recently added a new room onto our house. We just felt like the kids needed some more space. This is a really special room just for them! We think once you’ve seen ours, you’ll want one for your kids too!

Ha ha! Just kidding, of course! No parents in their right minds want this anywhere near their house! Actually, this is just one of many little houses for kids to play in at The Big Back Yard, a new children’s exhibit at the Memphis Botanical Gardens. We got to go check it all out on a recent trip to Memphis to see Bud and KayKay anf the rest of the fam.

There are more pictures to share. This is just Part 1! Part 2 coming soon!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Look, Mom! I Got Cheese!

You know how on the Charlie Brown Halloween special all the kids go trick-or-treating and each time they leave a house they stop for a moment to look in their treat bags and announce what they got? Well, that’s how my kids are with bags of groceries…only no one gets a rock!

They LOVE to help bring in the groceries! They come hurrying into the kitchen with their bags wide open so they can see what’s in there and make an excited announcement to me of the contents of each bag!

Momma! Look! Apples! Crackers! Pizza! Waffles!

It doesn’t matter what’s in the bag. All items are equally exciting at this point. It’s even exciting when the bag contains something unidentifiable.

Momma! What is it?!?

Maybe this year I’ll skip costumes altogether, and we’ll just take the kids grocery shopping for Halloween!

Yeah, right!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Go Vols!

Well, it’s almost kick-off! Better get a Vol post up!

Daddy and Uncle Clay have gone to the big opening game, and we have it on the TV! We have high hopes for Coach Kiffen and the UT Vols this season! Today should give us a good idea of how high they’ll stay!

Good luck! Go Vols!


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Little Snippets

The mind of a young child is a curious thing. Everything is so new to them. All the knowledge we adults take for granted, is something they are learning for the very first time!

For example, about a week before the kids' birthday (I know, I know! One of the days I'll actually be current!) they each received a birthday card in the mail. Exciting, right? Kids love mail, right? Except for this...

In the mind of a child not quite three, a birthday card means it is your birthday. If it is your birthday, there will be presents and cake.

Only it wasn't their birthday yet and there were no presents and cake.

Four excited squealing children turned into four wailing, disappointed children as they learned the hard lesson that just because you get a birthday card, that doesn't mean it is actually your birthday. Sometimes, life is so hard.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Turning Three

Well, it’s no new thing that the kids are three. Their birthday was months ago! Just look at thr age ticker! It’s also no surprise that I’m just now finally getting around to commenting on the new age! “Always behind” is becoming my new middle name! Oh, well.

Nevertheless, the kids are three, and there are some things that need to be documented. Like the results of our three-year dr’s visit!


At the time of the checkups, Jonathan weighed 26lb and was 34.7in tall. He is the shortest and the lightest, but he at least was able to qualify as 3%, rather than BELOW 3%. He has been removed from the endangered species list for the time being. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, click HERE) I’d say this is due mostly to the fact that J has decided that food is yummy after all and he wants to eat it no matter what! He is still a slow eater, but he will sit in his chair and clean his plate no matter how long it takes him. He and Thomas are competeing for the title of best eater, and J may just win!


Zachary weighed 30lb (25%) and was 35.2in tall (5%). This actually makes him the second lightest and shortest, but due to his build, I still think he LOOKS bigger than Thomas. He is easily the pickiest eater, as he has always been, and the most stubborn. This stubbornness has had a great impact on potty training, but that’s for another post!


Reagan weighed 31lb (55%) and was 37in tall (50%). I feel certain that either her height or Thomas’ is wrong, by the dr’s office measurements. Reagan is easily the tallest of the four, but the official measurements have Thomas at a quarter of an inch taller. That just can’t be right! If I had noticed it while we were there, I would have had them re-measured. Oh, well. She’s completely average compared to other girls, but definitely looks tall compared to her short-for-their-age brothers, especially Jonathan!


Thomas weighed 30.5 lb (50%) and was 37.25in tall (50%). He is still a fabulous eater, and the most likely to try new food, although J is quickly catching up! He may be officially bigger than Z, but he doesn’t look it.

All four kids are using the potty now, although only Reagan was at the time they actually turned three. It has been quite a bttle at times, continues to be quite a battle at times, but we are making progress. Reagan went to church in underwear instead of a Pull-Up for the first time today! She did great! Yea! Progress is wonderful! And Zachary had his first accident-free day on Friday! More progress! It gives me hope when the days are full of poopy underwear! I plan to have a whole post devoted to potty training soon. It may have to be a series of posts. We’ll see!

The kids are talking more and more all the time! They love to tell and retell their favorite stories and TV episodes, as well as act them out. This has been a fun new development for playtime. They like to dress up in costumes more than they used to, and pretend all sorts of things. It’s a really fun part of this age!

The not-so-fun parts of this age is the incessant whining, temper tantrums, strong opinions, and fighting with each other. These things make every day a challenge, one that I don’t always meet with patience and gentleness. Actually, that I very rarely meet with patience and gentleness! But I know that to an extent, these problems will not always be what they are now, and as they pass away, so do my little kids become big kids, a change that I anticipate with both relief and regeret, as all parents do!

The boys have become pros at riding the tricycles they got for Christmas, racing each otther in circles around the patio and claiming to be lightning McQueen or the “mean green car.” Reagan is not quite as trike skilled, but she’s making progress too and ought to catch up with them before too long!

Reagan becomes ever more girly, twirling about doing “pretty dances” and talking about ballet while the boys zoom past her with their dump trucks and racecars. It’s interesting to witness their varied natural development, since they are so being nurtured so equally.

The kids start preschool this week! Yea! They are excited, and SO AM I! I’ll have more to tell about that later! I guess this will do for now. I can’t think of anything else to tell at the moment!

By the way, the pics I used are their actual 4:30 birth pics. I always take the kids' pictures around 4:30 on their birthday because that is when they were born. It's a fun tradition that I enjoy!

Have a great week!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Harris Cousins

We went to Memphis last weekend to visit my side of the family, but before I post about that weekend, I need to post about our visit from and with Jim’s side of the family.

The second weekend of August was a big, busy weekend. The festivities actually started on Thursday with the arrival of Jim’s three cousins, Josh, Koda, and Caleb, and josh’s wife Erin. They all spent the night at our house that night, and we got sitters so we could all go out to see our favorite local band Flipside Runner.

DSC_2483 We were just a wee bit crowded, but it was worth it!

Friday brought the additional arrival of Uncle Clay, Aunt Carey, and Cousins Tyler and Avery. (The adult cousins did not spend the night a second night, in case you were curious as to where we managed to bed down so many people!) That night the menfolk all went to UT’s Welcome Back BBQ and had lots of football fun. When they returned, Carey and I got to go out to dinner and enjoy some relaxing non-child time.


Sat we just enjoyed each other’s company. We managed to get the kids in the pool for a little bit too, but they got cold and wanted out before I was able to get many good pictures. Actually, I didn’t get many good pictures at all the whole weekend. There just always seemed to be so much going on that there was never time to think about grabbing the camera!

DSC_2573 Cousin Tyler

On Sunday, we all went to Jasper to visit Gammy, Granny Kat, Pawpaw and Nene. We had a DELICIOUS lunch at Gammy and Granny’s house, then paid a visit to Pawpaw and Nene’s. Again there is a lack of pictures, but we did get a couple cute ones of the kids’ first times in Pawpaw’s big truck.

DSC_2576 Jonathan and Pawpaw

DSC_2577 Thomas

DSC_2598 Uncle Clay and Tyler

There are no pictures of Reagan or Zachary in the truck because they refused to get in it!

It was a hectic, fabulous weekend! We always cherish the chance to see family no matter how quick the visit! Or how poorly documented!