Play Date for Eight

We finally settled into our new digs enough to host our first play date with none other than our quad buddies, the Bells. After several trial and error play dates, Amber and I discovered that evening play dates are pure genius. Initially we tried the traditional daytime rendezvous and failed repeatedly. The babies usually played happily until nap time.  However at nap time, the visitors protested voraciously and the host babies were upset by wailing visitors. This left two frazzled mammas with eight grouchy babies.  It wasn’t pretty.

We now meet up after all babies are refreshed from naps and have several hours before bedtime. The hostess serves up dinner for everyone and the mammas enjoy a glass of vino while the kiddies play in harmony. I can honestly say this is the only way to have a relaxing play date with so many little ones.

Despite a week of flash flooding, we opted for an evening of water play.  What better way to celebrate summer?  In preparation for the event, I littered our backyard with water tables, a mini pool, slide and an assortment of water toys.  While my quads snoozed, I prepared a picnic for everyone: P B & J triangles with berries and veggie sticks for the quads, pimento cheese for the adults, and cakeys for dessert (cake bars Rylin dubbed “cakeys”).

During the day, I showed the quads pictures of the Bell family and explained they were coming over.  After nap, I dressed everyone in swimsuits and doused them in sunscreen as I reminded them of our company.  Clearly they knew it was time to parr-tayy because all four began running circles in the den as they squealed in delight.  When Amber and her crew arrived, I gave her the quick house tour then we ushered all eight babies outside.  Thankfully, George was home from work a bit early so he helped set up the goods for water play (he was also instrumental in clean up efforts).  Everything went swimmingly!  All eight babies scampered around, finding ways to entertain themselves.

It didn't take long before all eight babies were fully entertained with water play.

It didn’t take long before all eight babies were fully entertained with water play.

This is like a game of Where's Waldo....can you spot all eight babies?

This is like a game of Where’s Waldo….can you spot all eight babies?

Mason and Trystan cozied up in the mini pool.

Mason and Trystan cozied up in the mini pool.  Aren’t they adorable together?

I dropped some of our Color Dropz into the water tables and mini pool for a little pizazz!

I dropped some of our Color Dropz into the water tables and mini pool for a little pizzaz!

Amber helped dole out ice water to little beggars.

Amber helped dole out ice water to thirsty little beggars.

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It looks like someone found the mud.  No worries though, Amber and I had a solid clean up plan.

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All eight of the quads now interact with each other, and don’t always stick to their familiar siblings, which indicates play date success in my book.

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Look carefully in the background and you’ll see Harper bailing water from the mini pool to the galvanized bucket. He managed to fill it halfway with just that little red scoop!

As the dinner hour approached, I gathered our picnic trappings and brought them outside along with plastic dinnerware.  Within seconds, all eight babies gathered around our Little Tykes picnic table where we dished out dinner.   Our quads don’t have the best track record for eating meals away from their quad table so I wasn’t really sure what eight would do.  They amazed us as they sat for the entire meal and gobbled up dinner.  I suppose they worked up hearty appetites playing outside.

I couldn't squeeze eight plates around the picnic table, but sharing is commonplace for multiples so it wasn't a problem.

I couldn’t squeeze eight plates around the picnic table, but sharing is commonplace for multiples so it wasn’t a problem.

As the babies noshed on their picnic, Amber snatched ice water for everyone.   She's a pro at this!

As the babies noshed on their picnic, Amber snatched ice water for everyone. She’s a pro at this!

After dinner, George became very popular as he was the cakey server.

After dinner, George became very popular as he was the cakey server.

When the sun began to set, George, Amber, and I created a pioneer style wash basin for the babies with our toy bucket.  George filled it with warm water then Amber and I took turns sponge bathing our respective babies and wrapping them in dry towels.  As each one was wrapped tightly, we lined them up in the den for a Veggie Tales movie.  Amber and I managed to “bathe”, dry, and dress eight babies in pajamas (complete with lotion) in a matter of minutes.  Impressive, I think.  I turned on our classical lullaby playlist as everyone enjoyed perusing a few books and novel toys before bed.  George tucked our babies into cribs as Amber and I loaded hers into the Suburban before we said farewell.  Another successful play date for eight!

Ahhh, clean, dry and jammied babies with a few good reads before bed.

Ahhh, clean, dry and jammied babies with a few good reads before bed.

hugs!

 

Amber

This post may contain affiliate links. For more info, please see my disclaimer page.

What’s the Magic?

 

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I practice school psychology, and have for nearly a decade now. Even before I began my graduate program, I worked as both a nanny and daycare teacher. And that’s not to mention the fact that both of my parents were teachers.  Based upon those experiences, I have all the knowledge and skills to mold my children into well-behaved little people. Except, I don’t always use the tools sitting in my toolbox. In the heat of the moment, when four toddlers are shrieking at the top of their lungs and I’m covered in food splatter, my skill set tends to go out the window. I’m not implying that my training hasn’t gone to good use or that I never use my toolkit. Rather, I’m admitting that I am indeed a human being and just like every other parent, teacher, and caregiver, I lose my cool sometimes.  I don’t always make good use of the skills I possess because sometimes I forget.

As the quads are getting older, more independent, and smarter, it’s clear that it’s critical that I work harder on doing the exact things I recommend others do. Of course, it’s always significantly easier to give suggestions to others than yourself isn’t it? Nonetheless, I’m making an effort to take my own good advice and use it on my own children.

Years ago, I was trained in Teaching with Love and Logic: Taking Control of the Classroom. It’s a program that I frequently recommend to parents and teachers.  When one of my colleagues informed me that there was a toddler version, Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood, I found it on Amazon and placed the order. As I read the book, it brought all of my training to the forefront with toddlers in mind. If you have a toddler, or toddlers, I highly recommend snagging a copy for yourself to see if you can adopt some of the concepts within it.

When I consult with parents and teachers, I find myself offering many of the same recommendations time and time again. It’s not because I’m lazy. Instead, it’s because I’ve seen particular strategies work time and time again for many different types of kids. During my days with the quads, I’ve been taking time to pause and consider what I might tell a teacher or parent in my position. The same tried and true school interventions work at home, and I’m seeing positive results.  Some of my go-to suggestions include:

1. Set clear, consistent boundaries, and follow through with all consequences immediately.

After we moved into the new house, I seized the perfect opportunity to establish new house rules in order to break some bad habits. In addition to the rules, we are teaching the quads to be responsible for their actions. For instance, they often think it’s a lot of fun to toss food and utensils during mealtime. If someone drops something from the table, we say, “Ooops, all done”. Then, after everyone is finished with the meal, the offender picks up anything thrown and wipes up spills. In a nutshell, the rules are something to the effect of “If you make a mess, clean it up. If you break something, fix it. If you hurt someone, apologize…ect.”

The quads are well aware that they must sit in order to enjoy a drink.  When they request a drink they now say "sit down" as they comply with our house rule.

The quads are well aware that they must sit in order to enjoy a drink. When they request a drink they now say “sit down” as they comply with our house rule.

It’s important that consequences occur immediately after an offense otherwise, they think they can get away with rule breaking anytime. I know we are making headway in this arena because when a rule is broken, I sometimes hear the renegade say, “Uh oh!  Time out?” or another child will say, “Uh oh!”

It's not unusual for our kitchen floor to look like this during or after a meal.  However, I'm done cleaning up everyone's messes.

It’s not unusual for our kitchen floor to look like this during or after a meal. However, I’m done cleaning up everyone’s messes.

Instead, the quads are now responsible for cleaning up their messes.

Instead, the quads are now responsible for cleaning up their messes.

Time out is among the consquences in our house.  When I first introduced time out, I set the offender in my lap as I held their arms across their chest and counted aloud.  We have since progressed to nose to the wall or corner.

Time out is among the consquences in our house. When I first introduced time out, I set the offender in my lap as I held their arms across their chest and counted aloud. We have since progressed to nose to the wall or corner.

2. Provide sensory motor breaks throughout the day, especially between transitions.

With toddlerhood, our schedule is much more flexible than it once was. However, we still maintain quite a bit of structure in the day, which helps make things predictable and comfortable for everyone. Of the quads, Harper tends to have more energy to burn. With him, I make a point to integrate physical activity into our day, several times. Often times, he has days where he pushes the others or runs around destructively. When I notice that type of behavior, I know it’s time to either go outside, or to use some of our gross motor toys (e.g. mini trampoline, slide, riding toys).

Lawnmowing counts as a helper task and gross motor activity!

Lawnmowing counts as a helper task and gross motor activity!

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3. Allow the child to participate in “helper” activities aka chores.

Everyone likes to feel important and valued, toddlers are no different. As the quads receptive language skills have improved, they’ve been very capable of carrying out simple 1-2 step directions. With supervision, they clean up their playroom, put laundry in the hamper, throw trash away, and feed the dogs. I find that they do best when I am very specific about what needs to be done. For example, I may say, “Please put the blue plate in this basket”. If a verbal direction doesn’t work, I sometimes model what I’m asking for, or help them complete the task hand over hand.  After they’ve helped complete some task, I offer ample praise, and they always beam in delight.

The quads are always proud of themselves after completing a chore.

The quads are always proud of themselves after completing a chore.

4. Provide TONS of praise, which is specific to the behavior. (Praise should ideally occur four times more than redirection. So, if you reprimand a child, he’ll need to be praised for about four appropriate behaviors).

When the quads have done something I like, it’s important to know exactly what they did right so they do it again. For example, they are trying really hard to use their manners so if I hear someone saying “please” or “thank you”, I try to jump in immediately and tell them how well they are doing with using manners.  I may say, “Wow, Mason!  Great job saying thank you!”  or “Oh Sydney, I love how you said please.”

5. Phrase redirection and rules in positive terms (e.g. Say, “Our feet go on the floor” instead of “No standing on chairs”.

Little kids often hear the last thing you said so if it’s in negative terms, they may misunderstand you. You don’t want a toddler thinking you told him to “Stand on the chair”!  Again, with little ones or kids with developmental or language delays a verbal message can be lost.  Sometimes modeling or showing pictures of what the rule is can help.

6. Empathize with an upset child and allow cool down time.

The quads are toddlers and they have tantrums A LOT. Toddler tantrums are never pretty, and they are exacerbated with multiples. Even though toddlers are not generally rational, they have feelings too. If someone is upset I try to tell them I am sorry they are feeling angry/ mad/ upset. This doesn’t mean I try to rescue them or coddle them. Most of the time, tantrums occur because they were denied their way. Giving them what they wanted (e.g. a cookie, a particular toy) to stop a tantrum will make it significantly worse. Giving in would be counterproductive because it would teach them to have tantrums to get what they want.

When someone is having a very difficult time, I offer them cool down time by taking them to a quiet place and encouraging them to take slow deep breaths. If me facilitating cool down time is unsuccessful, I typically leave them alone for a minute or two, allowing them to calm down independently.  I find that placing them in their crib with a preferred toy or book can help them regain composure.

Cool down time is different than time out in that it’s not punitive, rather it allows everyone time to become calm.   Sometimes cool down time is needed before a consequence can be implemented.  Take the example of making a mess at the table.  Sometimes being asked to clean up spurs a tantrum.  I may allow time to cool down before I expect a clean up effort to occur.

7. Provide 2-3 acceptable choices.

Everyone likes to feel as if they have control and power.  However, it’s not wise to let toddlers and children rule a home.  Instead, it’s better to give them parameters for decision making.  This can actually be very simple.  For instance, at meal times, I let the quads chose between two bibs to wear and two colored plates.  A choice can also be between having something or not such as “Do you want to wear socks or no socks.”  This empowers little ones and helps prevent future meltdowns.

I also offer choices in the heat of a tantrum as a means to help redirect them.  Let’s say Rylin had a tantrum because she wanted strawberries instead of blueberries and we have no strawberries.  I may say, “Would you like blueberries or no berries?”  This type of choice can help refocus her attention from the strawberries we don’t have.

The quads chose their hats for this one.

The quads chose their hats for this one.

8. Use first/ then statements.

Kids often want instant gratification and become upset when something doesn’t happen immediately.  With the quads, I often use first then statements to let them know the order things will happen.  For example, if someone approaches me and says, “Read it” while I’m busy.  I may reply, “First, I’m washing dishes then I’ll read it”.  It also works to get them to comply with something undesirable.  For instance, the quads resist diaper changes because they want to do something else.  My response is usually something like, “First I’m going to change your diaper, then you can do your puzzle.”

Even though I’m making an effort to utilize these particular tools as well as my training and experiences, I won’t get it right every single time. There will be times I will make a mistake with the quads, and that’s okay. In those moments, it’ll be important for me to apologize to my children and explain to them that Mommy is a human too. After all, grace is a virtue I want my children to learn too.

 

hugs,

 

Amber

 

Note: This post is in no way sponsored by Love and Logic, but it is a parenting book I feel is beneficial and wholeheartedly recommend.  Also, my tips are not a summary of Love and Logic.  Instead they are based upon my professional training, continuing education, and experiences, which include Love and Logic training.

This post may contain affiliate links. For more info, please see my disclaimer page.

Home Sweet Home


After nearly a month in the new digs, it’s finally starting to feel like home.  All of the boxes (except George’s garage stuff) are unpacked.  We are struggling a bit with organization, and we have a laundry list of DIY projects to complete in the next few months and even years, but it feels like home.  The aroma of our Scentsy fills the air while our lamps cast warm pools of light in each room.  The toys strewn about and photographs adorning the walls make everything feel cozy.

 

At one point we thought we were done unpacking, only to remember all of the boxes in storage from when we "decluttered" to put the old house on the market.  I nearly cried!

At one point we thought we were done unpacking, only to remember all of the boxes in storage from when we “decluttered” to put the old house on the market. I nearly cried!

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This was our kitchen the week of move in.

Ta da!  We have counter tops!

Alas! We have counter tops!

 

Well before I started feeling at home, the quads began enjoying the new digs, especially their dedicated playroom.

The playroom was the perfect spot for the quad's table and chairs.  They've been making me "hot coffee" nearly every morning.  They even remember to add a little cream and sugar, just the way I prefer it.

The playroom was the perfect spot for the quad’s table and chairs. They’ve been making me “hot coffee” nearly every morning. They even remember to add a little cream and sugar, just the way I prefer it.

One morning, Mason busily punched letters on his LeapTop as he sipped piping hot imaginary coffee.

One morning, Mason busily punched letters on his LeapTop as he sipped piping hot imaginary coffee.

Long tiled hallways make for perfect motorcycle races. Long tiled hallways make for perfect motorcycle races.

Our larger breakfast nook better accommodates the quad table.

Our larger breakfast nook better accommodates the quad table.

Indoor tents made the perfect refuge for reading on a rainy day.   Notice Rylin's "Elsa dress", she wears it almost daily.

Indoor tents made the perfect refuge for reading on a rainy day. Notice Rylin’s “Elsa dress”, she wears it almost daily.

 

When rainy days resulted in a sloshy back yard, we discovered the front porch as a play space.

When rainy days resulted in a sloshy back yard, we retreated to the covered front porch.

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I most certainly would not chose “Gold Brown” as the accent color for our home, but it’s there and we are embracing it for the moment.  Painting is not a top priority at the moment.  These portraits were done by Preemie Prints shortly after all four babies came home from the NICU.  They mark special moment in time.  Since George and I do 90% of our organization and decorating after the quads are off to sleep, they don’t see us in action.  The day after we hung these, the babies honed in on them immediately.  They can now identify who is who in every picture.

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There’s no better way to feather a nest than to brighten the front door with a cheery wreath. I reinvented the wreath I created for autumn by changing out the “S” for a crisp white version, adding spring floral picks, and moving the lime chevron burlap bow. It makes me happy each time I pass it!

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What makes your house feel like home to you?

hugs!

Amber

We have a hero, and we call him Daddy

Dear George,

 

You are among the ranks of a small group of men who are better known as Quadfathers.  Going from being a Dad to a pair of fur babies to four children is no easy feat.   You work tirelessly to provide for our family and to make our home a perfect place to live. I doubt you remember what it feels like to savor “me time” because it’s illusive here.  Toddlers are a thankless lot who demand things like, “DADDY HOLD YOU!!!” and squabble mercilessly.  Undoubtedly, being a Quadfather is the most difficult challenge of your life, but also the most rewarding.

A year ago, you were a professional formula mixer, baby burper, and infant soother.  With the change of seasons, you are now a hero to four little people.  You are the center of their universe and are held in the highest regard.  Believe me, they are watching your every move.  It’s apparent when I’m frantically searching for something and Harper correctly proclaims, “It’s right here.”  You may not realize it, but that’s one of your signature phrases.  I’ve heard you mutter it while looking for something many times over.  It’s now a common phrase for little big man too.  I know you are a powerful influence when the garage door creaks open and four little people exclaim, “DADDY!!!!”  as they bull rush the gates to reach you.  I promise, when I arrive home from work the welcoming committee is not half as excited as when Daddy returns.

As soon as the quads 5were mobile, you had a stunning welcoming committee,

Because of you, Mason knows it’s Jesus is on the crucifix in our entry way and Rylin distinguishes between an iguana and a gecko.  Since I can’t carry a tune to save my life, you are to thank for Sydney’s sweet singing.  Of course you aren’t the only one with influence around our house, four little people have quite the effect on you  too.  I know this when I catch you singing from their itunes playlist or reciting Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  You are beginning to see the world through new lenses and it’s beautiful.  Even when the days seem eternal and thankless, I hope you never forget the way you family adores you, and the many reasons why.

You model how to be a strong husband and father.

You model how to be a strong husband and father.

You have fun with them.

You have fun with them.

You appreciate their personalities.

You appreciate their personalities.

You share the value of knowledge.

You share your love of learning.

You show them how to explore the world in new ways.

You show them how to explore.

You are affectionate with our children.

You rock them (this is one of the most common requests for the moment).

You contribute to all of our family's needs, great and small.

You contribute to all of our family’s needs, great and small.

You enjoy time for rest and relaxation with our children.

You enjoy time for rest and relaxation with our children.

Happy Father’s Day!

xoxo,

 

Amber

 

 

 

 

Making a Splash at the New Pad!

One of the selling features of our new home was the yard. It doesn’t boast acreage or anything, but it has ample space for the quads to jaunt around, and eventually for us to add a small playground. Although the garden needs a little a lot of TLC, the previous owner had the yard fully landscaped with many ornamental plants and trees.  Every morning after breakfast and in the evening before bed, we enjoy a little time outdoors.  On most mornings, we have a little splash party using the water table followed by a bubble bath.   In the evenings the quads dart around as we weed the once neglected flower beds.  A few mornings ago, I captured some of our morning shenanigans.

Rylin took it upon herself to water the rose bushes with her pink watering can.    She refilled it multiple times to make sure the roses got a nice drink.

 

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We received this pewter wind chime as a gift from a family friend.  It was in her family for years because there were two girls and two boys in the family, just like ours.  It made the perfect addition to our new yardscape.  The quads are fascinated by the mellow tinkling of the chime dancing in the breeze.

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A few months ago, I purchased faux crocs for the quads to wear in the yard.  They’ve proven themselves as yard must haves for us.  They protect tender baby feet and rinse off easily with the garden hose.  I stumbled upon a pair on clearance at Marshall’s in my size and snagged them.  While I’m not hip to the fashion statement they make, I am in L-O-V-E with these shoes.  Oh how I’ve been missing out on the goodness of Crocs for the yard.  They are ohhhh sooooooo comfortable and yard work friendly.  The fact that they are violet and ballet slipper style helps my inner fashionista to appreciate them.

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We have an assortment of inflatable baby pools from the quad’s first birthday party last summer.  However, I didn’t have the patience to inflate one of the larger ones so settled for the tiniest pool ever created.  It served as a “Go Fishing” pond for the party, and was never really intended for wading.  It began as extra splash space alongside our water table until someone took a dip….then another….and another….and then all four.

If two’s company,

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And three’s a crowd….

 

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What’s four???

 

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A spoiled party perhaps?

 

We enjoyed nearly a full hour of splishing and splashing before the dog pile resulted in cranky babies.   When the party ended, I stripped all four babies down in the yard, hung the soppy clothes on the swing set and wrapped each one in a dry towel.  I took a tip from fellow quad mama, Amber, and lined each baby up as they waited for a diaper and outfit.  Much to my surprise, they waited perfectly still for their turn!  Of course, the episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse helped my efforts.

 

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Once the babies are snuggled into their beds for the night, we often enjoy a glass of vino or iced tea from our front porch.  The sunset is gorgeous!

 

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Have you ever owned a pair of Crocs?   If not, would you consider it?

 

hugs!

 

Amber

The Guest

I’m anxious to share our moving saga and updates on the new digs, but we are totally swamped with the settling process.  While George and I are tackling boxes, I thought you’d enjoy my latest guest posts, both of which posted today.

On the Mothers of Supertwins blog, Stories from the Heart, I shared my tips for getting out with multiple toddlers.

 

Most people would expect me to use a giant diaper bag, but I prefer this Vera Bradley bag instead.

Most people would expect me to use a giant diaper bag, but I prefer this Vera Bradley bag instead.

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Our neighborhood Kroger has carts which seat all four babies.  Scoring one of these sweet rides usually involves me stalking the cart corral, however.

Our neighborhood Kroger has carts which seat all four babies. Scoring one of these sweet rides usually involves me stalking the cart corral, however.

I also made a second contribution to the Fort Worth Moms Blog about how we sleep trained the quadruplets. 

On the Fort Worth Moms Blog, I reviewed how we sleep trained the quads as infants.  I eventually would like to share how their sleep has evolved with toddlerhood.  I snapped this particular picture when all four awoke from naps extremely early and were cranky.

On the Fort Worth Moms Blog, I reviewed how we sleep trained the quads as infants. I eventually would like to share how their sleep has evolved with toddlerhood. I snapped this particular picture when all four awoke from naps extremely early and were cranky.

 

hugs!

Amber

 

 

 

 

Impromptu Parade

We were lucky that our house closing happened to align with Memorial Day weekend.  It afforded us an extra day off work to unpack and settle.  We didn’t have Memorial Day plans since we intended to be working on the house, but by Monday afternoon we had E-N-O-U-G-H already. After two days of moving, our bodies ached while bruises lined our legs and biceps. It was clearly time for a break so I invited us to my Aunt Linda’s BBQ.   Although taking four toddlers anywhere is a lot of work, getting out for a few hours proved refreshing.

I managed to pull four patriotic looking outfits from the quad's closets.  The previous homeowner left behind four small flags so we had an impromptu parade.

I managed to pull four patriotic looking outfits from the quad’s closets. The previous homeowner left behind four small flags so we had an impromptu parade.  Please excuse Harper’s faux pas of letting his flag touch the ground.

 

Since we are in the middle of moving, we didn't pack the quad's booster seats.  Linda had two already, but two kids were left to regular chairs and they did great!

Since we are in the middle of moving, we didn’t pack the quad’s booster seats. Aunt Linda had two already, but two kids were left to regular chairs and they did great!

Later, Mason shared his chair with me.

Later, Mason shared his chair with me.

 

George and I manned the kiddie table while the rest of the family enjoyed fine dining.

George and I manned the kiddie table while the rest of the family enjoyed fine dining.

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After dinner, Uncle Clarke entertained the quads with his banjo.  The loud creshindo of the insturment initially startled them, but it wasn't long before they sang along.

After dinner, Uncle Clarke entertained the quads with his banjo. The loud strums of the instrument initially startled them, but it wasn’t long before they sang along.

I captured Rylin’s rendition of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

 

We may not have been on the initial guest list, but I think the quads did a fine job of entertaining the great grandparents.  They have a way of brightening the day of others with their antics.  How did you celebrate Memorial Day?

 

hugs!

 

Amber

 

P.S. Stay tuned for the low down on the BIG move and the gazillion projects we’d like to tackle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boxes….Boxes…Boxes

When George and I bought our first house eight years ago we never could have fathomed four children living in it. At the time of purchase, our house was far more square footage than two people needed.  We bought it as a “five-year house”, and anticipated living in it for several years, then maybe adding a baby (or two) to our family before up sizing. In time, we fell in love with our neighborhood and added our own special touches to our home. After discovering we were expecting quadruplets we knew our house couldn’t be a forever home. Yet, the prospect of buying and selling during a quadruplet pregnancy was not going to happen. Once the babies came home we made do by adding storage and getting creative with furniture arrangement.  It was working surprisingly well.  However as our babies transformed into busy toddlers, we knew it was past time to find a house better suited to our burgeoning family.

This spring we finally pulled the trigger and interviewed with real estate agents to discuss our property value and desired features for a new home.  Initially we planned to move out of our neighborhood where we could find more square footage for our money.  However, multiple real estate agents reminded us why our neighborhood is ideal for our family.  Great schools, family friendly, close proximity to many amenities.  I began feeling anxious about sacrificing our beloved neighborhood for more space.  We found a gorgeous home in a nearby neighborhood with almost every item ticked off our wish list.  It was a five bedroom turnkey house with an over sized kitchen and pantry, it was dreamy.  One bright Sunday afternoon we hauled the quads to see this particular home.  As soon as our agent opened the doors the quads dashed upstairs.  This would have been fine except the shiny wooden staircase was adorned with wrought iron spindles, which overlooked the den from about 25 feet off the ground.  While the house was stunning, I immediately knew it was not our house.   All I could envision was toddlers catapulting themselves over the stair railing and subsequent ER visits.

Our real estate agent urged us to visit an open house in our neighborhood, but I wasn’t enthusiastic.  It looked drab and small, but to appease our agent we walked the quads over for the event.  After about five minutes, George and I looked at each other and both agreed it was perfect for us.  It boasted all the features of our current home, but was a somewhat improved version.  It had more space inside and out, and best of all there was a dedicated playroom space for the quads.  That evening we made an offer on that house, which was accepted contingent upon the sale of our home.  Within a week’s time, our house was decluttered, spiffed up, and market ready.  Thankfully, we received a full price offer with just six days on the market.  The only catch we are now amidst moving a house that’s accumulated eight years worth of stuff, two dogs, and four kids.  Even though the new house is just around the corner, we still have to pack, update utilities, and situate ourselves in a new home.  I’m over the moon about the new digs, and slightly extremely anxious about managing the mayhem.

In order to keep it manageable, George and I set daily goals for packing, and elicited the help of the quads.  They’ve proven themselves as unreliable help, however.  They tend to unpack things after us, and add their own accouterments to boxes.  On the bright side, packing materials are highly entertaining toddlers.

Four little people make for interesting helpers.

Sydney read the newspaper for at least thirty minutes while Harper added books to my kitchen box.

 

At one point, I had four boxes set up for each of the quads.  Yet, they insisted on pairing off, and the dogs ducked in with them a few times.

At one point, I had four boxes set up for each of the quads. Yet, they insisted on pairing off, and the dogs ducked in with them a few times.

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The quads enjoy taking rides a top the boxes.

The quads enjoy taking rides a top the boxes.

Moving with multiples is proving difficult for my Type A personality. Before boxing anything, I prefer to ensure that all parts are accounted for, and boxed together (the idea is extreme organization now will help with unpacking later). With eight helping hands, parts tend to go missing. One evening the quad’s clock puzzle was strewn about and three pieces weren’t found. I put this clock on the counter and feverishly searched every imaginable place for them. Finally one night George admitted tossing them into a random box. I found enough self-restraint not to rip into boxes, but I assure you I wanted to. If I thought I’d actually find all three pieces I might do it, but the prospects are slim.  Don’t assume I’m the only Type A personality in our house though. Every night, George scours the house with touch up paint in hand, masking our previous short cuts and damages.

 

EAch night, we heave another set of boxes to the garage.  It won't be long before we are engulfed in boxes.

Each night, we heave another set of boxes to the garage. It won’t be long before we are engulfed in boxes.

Unfortunatley, moving is uncovering some of our Shawver Shortcuts in home renovations.  We apparently have a bad habit of painting around things.  There was a shelf hanging in this particualar spot.

Unfortunately, moving is uncovering some of our Shawver Shortcuts in home renovations. We apparently have a bad habit of painting around things. There was a shelf hanging in this particular spot.

My den looks like a stick of dynamite hit a toy store...and it makes me anxious!

My den looks like a stick of dynamite hit a toy store…and it makes me anxious!

I can't explain how crazy seeing this clock with three pieces missing makes me feel!  If these pieces don't resurface, I may have to donate it.

I can’t explain how crazy seeing this clock with three pieces missing makes me feel! If these pieces don’t resurface, I may have to donate it.

This morning the buy and sell were official and the ink is now dry on our paperwork!  Our agent, Tommy graciously volunteered to babysit Sydney and Mason during closing while Rylin and Harper stayed behind with George's aunt.

This morning the buy and sell were official and the ink is now dry on our paperwork! Our agent, Tommy graciously volunteered to babysit Sydney and Mason during closing while Rylin and Harper stayed behind with George’s aunt.

 

What is your best moving tip?

Hugs!

Amber

 

Hope

George supported himself in college by answering phones and taking orders for a local florist.   The hours were ideal for a college student, he went in sometime after lunch and was off by six.  Except for two weeks of the year: the week of Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.  During those weeks, it was not unusual for him to work overtime until 11 pm later.  Even though both weeks were flooded with orders, George once mentioned how Mother’s Day was far busier because everyone doesn’t have a Valentine, but everyone has a mother.  It made sense to me at the time.  A decade later, I see Mother’s Day through new eyes.

Just like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day has become somewhat of a commercial holiday where people feel obligated to honor certain people in their life, and people feel entitled to recognition on these particular days.  What about the other 364 days of the year?   Shouldn’t we let the people we love know how much we care on a daily basis?  Even though they’ve become commercial holidays, I’m not most bothered by that aspect.  I’m far more concerned about the people who won’t be celebrating.   To many, Valentine’s Day is only a painful reminder that they are lonely hearts.   Where Mother’s Day is wrought with pain for those who grieve for their mothers or children and for those who yearn to become mothers.   It’s a day they can only hope will pass with haste.

This pain is something familiar to me from the years I grasped at every shred of hope that Mother’s Day would finally hold meaning to me.  In 2012, Mother’s Day was one of juxtaposed emotion for me.  At that time, I was expecting the quadruplets, but everything was uncertain and I still felt pangs of grief from miscarriage.  Not only was it my first Mother’s Day since miscarrying, but also my due date for that baby was on Mother’s Day.  I felt empty still.

Last year when my first Mother’s Day with children came around, I raised the bar high.  Too high.  George didn’t roll out the red carpets and shower me in the lavish gifts I expected, which hurt my feelings.  I was entitled because it was MY day!  I remember lashing out at him before going to bed.  Seriously where were MY gifts???

The day after Mother’s Day he presented me with a custom made cross necklace surrounded by four rubies representing the quads.  It was extremely thoughtful, but I felt ashamed for expecting it.  While we have not perfected it, George and I are working on appreciating each other on a daily basis and not putting stalk into material things.  I had everything I could have ever wanted on that Mother’s Day and more, our four beautiful children.  Just one year prior, I would have given up both arms just to have children.  While my heart is full of love for them, I am also aware of the despair some will experience today, and I pray they never lose hope.

While I was undergoing fertility treatments, I attended monthly support group meetings at our clinic.  There, I found a sisterhood of others experiencing the same emptiness and longing I felt.  At one of the meetings, we discussed the “survivor guilt” that occurs when one transitions from infertility patient to pregnant patient.  A common sentiment experienced by women experiencing infertility is one of emotional pain upon seeing expectant mothers or receiving pregnancy announcements.  It could be viewed as jealousy, but that’s not exactly the emotion.  I’s more of a reminder of what is missing.  At that particular meeting, we discussed how it would be nice to know when another woman was part of the sisterhood, someone who also experienced the pain of infertility.  Someone mentioned how it would be perfect if there were a secret signal that projected “I’m your sister, I was once in your shoes.  There is hope.”  After that meeting I secretly began imagining that every expectant mother was indeed part of the infertility sisterhood, and it helped that nagging feeling of pain subside.  Little did I know that I would someday wear a blaring sign that I was once a member of the infertility club, and it would come in the shape of four same aged babies.

When the quads were about six months old, I began taking them for walks in the quad stroller almost every evening.  It was a fantastic way of managing “witching hour” with four cranky babies.    One evening as I strolled about the neighborhood I remember a red Ford Explorer passing us, and then looping back around very slowly.  I was taken aback as the driver eventually pulled over, parked, and got out to approach me.  There were many people outside at the time.  Parents supervised their children, joggers passed, and people returned home from work.  I also had wasp spray ready to attack anyone who seemed dangerous.  I felt at ease even a the driver approached me.  I remember him making eye contact with a look of pain and sincerity in his eyes.  He told me that he would understand if I didn’t want to answer, but inquired whether we needed fertility treatments.  Because I felt safe, I admitted we did.  This now vulnerable man now faced me as he sighed and confessed that he and his wife were undergoing treatments.  At this point, they knew the bitter feelings of repeated and failed treatments.  They were quickly approaching a crossroads of deciding whether or not to continue treatments.  We spent a while sharing our experiences, but before parting ways the gentleman said, seeing you and the babies restored my HOPE.   Hearing that struck a chord with me because at that moment I knew that I wore the sign for other people experiencing fertility that says, “I’m your sister, I was once in your shoes.  There is hope.”  I’ve addressed what to say to parents of multiples and what not to say to parents of multiples, and in both articles I shared that it is impolite to inquire whether the babies are “natural” because it is such a personal question.  However, when someone divulges to me that they are undergoing fertility treatment or once were, I’m usually open to sharing because I want them to feel HOPE.   So if you are reading this and for whatever reason feel the pangs of grief or despair, please never lose hope.  Hope really is one of the most valuable treasures we possess.

In honor of my mother and grandmothers, the quads helped me create a visual representation of HOPE, after all they are the most powerful reminder I have of hope.

 

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These were my four favorite outtakes.

These were my four favorite outtakes.

 

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For my mother, I painted the babies’ feet and stamped them onto a Terra cotta pot in the shape of butterflies. I added a sign that reads, “Where flowers bloom so does hope.”

 

While George worked at the floral shop, I recieved more than my fair share of flowers.  Consquently, George stopped wanting to bring home flowers when he no longer worked there.  I was ecstatic when he brought these home for Mother's Day.  They were his way of letting me know he appreciates me.

While George worked at the floral shop, I recieved more than my fair share of flowers. Consquently, George stopped wanting to bring home flowers when he no longer worked there. I was ecstatic when he brought these home Thursday evening. They were his way of letting me know he appreciates me, and it was perfect.

 

What are the symbols of hope in your life?

 

hugs,

 

Amber

 

P. S. Through mutual acquaintances, I learned that the driver who stopped me that day is expecting a baby boy in June!

The Sisterhood

Just a little over two years ago, I became part of a group of expectant quad moms who connected online.  In a situation that could be otherwise isolating, we found ourselves sharing our experiences weathering quadruplet pregnancies.  We encouraged each other and commensurated.  After the babies were born, we maintained close contact, celebrating the small victories and sharing the challenges of raising quadruplets. Since there is no book about parenting quadruplets this group has become the go-to resource.   About a year ago we began toying with the notion of taking a girls weekend trip to finally meet in person and to relax.  At first it seemed like an unlikely scenario.  After all, we don’t exactly live in the same neighborhood.  Literally states and thousands of miles separate us. 

Several months ago, Amber B. took the reigns as travel agent and coordinated our very first girls getaway weekend.   She scored a condo in Gruene, TX, which is nestled down in the beautiful Texas Hill Country.  In the months leading up to our trip, we communicated almost daily (sometimes several times a day).  It wasn’t solely about the trip, but was more about sharing our daily lives, which made each of us feel “normal”.  As each day passed leading up to the trip, our sisterhood grew stronger.  I felt like a child anticipating Christmas morning as the trip grew nearer.  Since this trip would mark my first time away from both the quads and George, I wasn’t sure what feelings it might bring.    My thoughtful child decided to throw some whopper tantrums earlier in the day, which helped stave off any mommy guilt associated with my departure.

Once my bags were packed, they were waiting by the front door.

 

 

My sweet Rylin wanted to ensure I would have zero mommy guilt for leaving, and threw whopper tantrums all day before I departed,

 

As soon as all husbands were firmly posted at their respective homes, the journey began.  Amber B., Griselda, and I carpooled from Dallas.  Meanwhile, Krista caught a flight from California and Becky from Michigan. Ashley headed from Houston to Austin to pick up our flying sisters from the airport.  To our surprise, all six of us arrived at the condo within five minutes of each other!

Road trip!

Road trip!

 

The moment when all six of us united in person for the first time, can only be described as surreal.  It played out like a movie scene full of heartfelt embraces, shrieks, and laughter.  Although we’ve shared some of the most intimate aspects of our lives, meeting in person was all new.   Even away from home, Amber B. was an expert at hospitality.  After everyone was settled, she presented each person with a goody bag consisting of some of her favorite R & R  items  (e.g. Moroccan body lotion, Texas Trash trail mix, stationary, bath soak, body spray, peach tea, and facial masks) as well as hand crafted cookies from a mother of triplets.

In utter excitement, we chattered away until the wee hours of the morning.  Despite only clocking a few hours of sleep for the night, we awoke refreshed the next morning as we sipped hot coffee together.  It’s amazing what uninterrupted sleep without any responsibilities can do for a person.

 

United at last!

United at last! Back Row: Me, Krista, Becky, Griselda Front Row: Amber B. & Ashley

 

 

 

These cookies were so beautiful, I refused to gobble them up too fast and brought several home.  George was impressed.

If you are dying to sink your teeth into some of Mary’s gorgeous cookies, please visit Sugar Coma Cookies to order your very own.  She can ship to you!

In order to give our out of state visitors a taste of Texas, we headed to Saltgrass Steakhouse for lunch situated along the Guadalupe River.   The spring weather was as stunning as our table side view.  Much to our dismay, Griselda started feeling bad shortly after lunch.  Although we begged her to stay and recover in the condo, Griselda opted to go back home.  We missed having her for the remainder of the weekend, but we genuinely appreciated her commitment to keeping the rest of our group from experiencing quad mom contagion.  Between the six of us, there are 29 children whom we hope to keep well. 

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Amber Squared

 

After lunch, we meandered through Gruene and became accustomed to taking “selfies” of the group.  When we saw a beautiful view of the river, decided it was time to trouble another tourist to take a group shot.    Up to this point, we kept our identities as quad moms a secret.  It was all too nice not having to field questions or remarks.   For some reason, Krista felt compelled to reveal our little secret to the kind woman who snapped our photo.  Instead of asking questions or making crass remarks, the woman stood quietly as she pulled an odd expression.  It was as if something had gone terribly wrong.  To our surprise, the woman casually revealed that she was a surviving quadruplet!  I’m not sure who was more surprised at our unusual connection, the quad moms or the quadruplet herself.  She graciously allowed us to take a picture with her to commemorate the moment.   As the evening came to a close, our stroll through Gruene landed us at a serene wine bar, which served as the ideal spot for relaxation and more girl talk.

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Our second day consisted primarily of pool time followed by a group dinner at the famous Grist Mill.   Everyone found something they felt confident wearing at the pool, but Krista and Amber B. rocked bikinis!  While at the pool, Becky demonstrated acrobatics from her former life as a competitive gymnast.  This little quad mama can still do the splits!

 

poolside

quad mamas rocking bathing suits

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As we took turns showering and getting ready to pain the town, we found quiet moments to relax and actually read magazines!  My magazine stockpile usually becomes a fine motor activity for the quads and I never get a chance to skim them.  It was a nice change of pace to say the least.

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Ready to paint the town

The power of Four!

The power of Four!

Gristmill

Gristmill

Gristmill

Gristmill

Joy filled hearts!

Joy filled hearts!

 

A girl’s getaway is never complete without a spa visit.  Though we weren’t willing to sacrifice a day of togetherness, we still managed a spa experience, DIY style.  Krista, Becky and I used parts of our goody bags to create a foot soak and cucumber facial, which went awry when the mask didn’t peel as anticipated.  It may not have been the relaxing “spa experience” of our dreams, but resulted in laughter and memories to last forever.

What have I gotten Krista into?

When we realized the masks wouldn’t peel off easily, Krista leaned over asking, “What have you gotten us into???” as if I offered them illicit drugs or something.

Looks like Becky has a skin condition.

It took the better part of 20 minutes to peel the masks from our faces, but it was all in good fun.

 

 

As the weekend came to a close, the emotions were bittersweet.  It was undeniably  hard to leave such dear friends to return to our normal lives.  Yet, I was more than ready to return to my family back home.  On Sunday afternoon, I returned refreshed and rejuvenated.  I’m not sure George had the same sentiment after a weekend of holding down the fort.  He’ll be sharing his weekend stories soon…stay tuned!

 

hugs!

 

Amber

 

P.S.  This trip was such a success, we have grand plans of making it an annual thing.  Don’t tell George though, I’m not sure he’ll agree to staying behind again.  I am encouraging him to take a camping trip in the near future.  He deserves time to recharge too!