A New Normal

It’s been two weeks since we dropped our babies off in kindergarten.  Overall, we are doing well with it, but it’s certainly a new normal.  It seems that every time we settle into a new routine, the season changes and we find ourselves adjusting.  Such is quad life!

We started a tradition of obligatory first day photos with a framed sign.  Snag your own set for free at Paper Trail Design.

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On the first day of school, the kids excitedly followed our chalk drawings down the street toward school.

 

 

 

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Nisey and Poppa joined us for the big first day drop off.  I was really proud of all of us, not a single tear was shed.  At least not on the first day.  Parents take their children to the classroom door on the first two days of school.  The third day is “Independence Day”, which means the kids are dropped off at the front door and navigate to their classrooms (older students help the littles for a few days).  All four kids hopped out of the car without a fuss (whew!).  As  I watched them walk away, the waterworks started…I sobbed all the way to work.  I was totally unprepared to watch them walk away.  Our sweet teachers sent class photos later in the morning entitled “They all made it!!” I flipped out a little when I couldn’t find Mason in the sea of kids, but was relieved when the teacher responded, “Someone jumped in front of him, you can see his little thumb.”

Drop offs have since gotten better, and pick ups are always the highlight of my day.  I can’t wait to see these little faces running towards me.  After the first day I learned to do a bag check- folder, lunch box, water bottle, and jackets.  We only made it home with 75% of the lunch boxes on the first day of school.  Sydney’s was left on her locker, but thankfully was still there the next morning.

 

Rylin and Harper are in the same class and share a locker.  Sydney and Mason are in another class, and also share a locker.  This is fantastic because my type A personalities are supporting their Type B siblings as they learn organization and responsibility.

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I’ve been impressed with the kids teachers and really appreciate the time they’ve taken to share photos of what happens.  One of the hardest things about sending the kids to school is not knowing what they do all day.  Of course, they share their own accounts of things, but it can be cryptic and discombobulated.  Rylin knows every single rule and every child in her class, but she is also very literal.   For example, after going to P. E., she reported, “We just walk in circles.  We do not run, and our teacher doesn’t know because she’s in a meeting.”  From working in schools, I knew this wasn’t the whole story.  I happen to know the coach so I jokingly asked him why he was having the kids walk monotonous circles.  He explained they were learning whistle commands and basic rules of the gym.  Since that lesson, they’ve learned several games, and I believe do run.

The kids’ school is large, but has a warm, welcoming culture rich with tradition.  One such tradition is the first Friday of school is “Western Day” where the kids and staff all wear western attire.  We talked about it all week and sifted through closets to pull together combinations of denim, bandanas, and plaid.  However, Mason was the ONLY child who actually wore his ensemble to school.  I don’t think the kids realized what special attire meant.  Hopefully next time they’ll participate.

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The kids completed their first homework assignments for a “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” unit.  Each child brought home an enlarged initial, which they cut out and covered in items beginning with their initials.   Despite my urges to help them cut everything pretty and design them according to my vision, I let the kids do everything with limited guidance.  We had fun sifting through piles of stickers and brainstorming lists of items, which we tried to procure or create.  They were so proud of themselves, and I was too.  Unfortunately, Harper learned a hard lesson.  Just doing the homework isn’t enough.  You also have to turn it into the teacher.  I’m not sure what happened, but Harper’s folder came back home with his project and no teacher note.  I suspect he left his folder in his backpack all day.

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The kids also went to the library and each chose a book to take home.  As soon as they got home, the four of them sat right outside the mudroom to peruse their finds.

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Much to everyone’s excitement, last Friday was Grandparent’s Day.  Nisey, Granddaddy, and Carol were able to join the kids for lunch.  I can’t wait to join them myself!  Speaking of me….people have been asking just what I’m doing with all my time.  I increased my hours at work, but I was able to work out a schedule with my director that allows me to drop the kids off, and pick them up from school.  I don’t have loads of free time, but I’ve had just enough to do the grocery shopping SOLO, and I’m finding time to take better care of myself (hello, doctor and dentist appointments).  I’m also finding that since we are apart all day, the kids and I are savoring our time together.  Oh, and it’s much easier to keep the house clean since the kids are constantly creating tornadoes around themselves AND kids go to bed much more quickly since kindergarten is exhausting work.

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Stay tuned for more kindergarten adventures!

hugs,

Amber


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‘Twas the Night Before Kindergarten

Five years ago George and I were up to our eyeballs in bottles and diapers.  Every. Single. Day. we prepared 32 bottles and changed an equal number of diapers. We ran on Keurig fumes and naps of about 90 minutes.  We often wondered if we’d survive that stage.   Somehow we did because tomorrow our bright eyed, curious five year olds begin kindergarten.  People keep asking me how I’m doing.  I *think I’m okay with this.  Yes, it is bittersweet watching your babies grow up, but there are new beginnings to celebrate.  Tonight a friend sent me these words of encouragement:

If nothing ever changed, we’d have no butterflies.

-Unknown

I am excited about the future for our children.  Despite being large, their school has a culture of family and warmth that cultivates a love of learning.  When we met the kindergarten teachers Thursday night, each child was given a bag of Jitter Glitter.  After reading bedtime stories, they happily spread it under their pillows.

Once everyone was fast asleep, Poppa, George, and I decorated the sidewalks on our street with words and pictures of encouragement.

Backpacks and shoes are lined up in the mudroom.

I packed special lunches, including lunch box notes and Hershey’s kisses.

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George and I couldn’t help but compare meal prep now to five years ago.   It might be a different meal, but we are still awake late at night prepping meals for the next day.

Make bottles for multiples for 24 hours at a time

Let there be butterflies!

Amber


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Financial Responsibility

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Almost a year ago, Rylin stunned me when she started making her bed. I always try to foster independence with the kids, but sometimes I really underestimate them, and this was a perfect example.  After I praised her profusely and bragged about her newfound skill, Rylin became diligent about this new self-assigned chore.  Every. Single. Day.  On occasion, the other kids would follow suit and try their hand at bed making.  With this, I learned the kids could really be helpful with chores, I started asking them to do other things.

All four kids now proudly help me sort, fold, and put away their laundry.  This has been life changing, ya’ll!  Laundry for a family of six can easily consume lots of time, but with my laundry secret and the kids’ help it’s pretty simple now. Rylin asked if she could vacuum the kitchen after dinner then took it upon herself to banish crumbs, dust, and dander throughout the house.  Forget the Roomba, I have quadruplets!  Okay, maybe I might still covet a Roomba, but having the kids help is really a life saver.

 

I eventually decided it was time for the kids to earn an allowance for successful chore completion, particularly for those which are self-initiated or go above and beyond basic room maintenance.  For Christmas, each of the kids received a Coin-Counting Money Jar.  I chose these particular jars because they track the money, coins are visible, and they are easy to open.  We personalized them and put them on a shelf they can access in the playroom.  They’ve been very respectful of each other’s jars and only access them to add coins or check to see what they’ve earned.  They also do really well about telling their friends the coin jars are not toys or to be touched.

“Though small was your allowance
You saved a little store
And those who save a little
Shall get a plenty more.”
– William Makepeace Thackeray

Over time, they really enjoyed watching the coins accumulate.  When they finally had enough cash to make small purchases, we took a trip to Walmart.  Each child was given a budget based upon their savings, and was encouraged to buy something they truly loved, while leaving a little money for later.  They did surprisingly well with this task and made sensible purchases given the parameters.  Because they purchased these particular toys with their own money, they treat them with a little more respect than other toys they own.  When we later read Betty Bunny Wants Everything, they understood the importance of making decisions when shopping.

All four kids are eagerly completing chores in an effort to earn and save money for the next shopping excursion.

hugs!

Amber


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Class Full

Having high order multiples, or even just a large family, poses certain challenges. One of those challenges is with extracurricular activities, especially for toddlers and preschoolers- think budgeting, class times, transportation, supplies, ect.  When the kids were babies, and then toddlers, swimming lessons were out of the question. It would’ve been impossible to attend “Mommy and Me” classes with one Mommy and four babies. By age three, the kids were eligible for group swimming lessons, but it seemed daunting, and I didn’t believe they’d generalize skills from one year to the next.

Now that the kids are nearly five years old, and headed to kindergarten in the fall, I decided it was time. I began researching local swim schools. I poured over pricing, class times, student teacher ratio, and location. Once I determined the swim school, I had to contend with the enrollment process. With swimming lessons, the maximum class size is typically four students, meaning our kids would comprise an ENTIRE class. On one hand, this was great news because our family basically got a private class, but it also meant securing such a class. I contacted the owner of our chosen swim school about our crew.  He was able to create a class for us, but we had two wait two months for it to open, and it was in the evening.  We didn’t mind the wait since there was a small multiple student discount, and our kids could be in one class.

In order to hype the kids up about their upcoming lessons, we went shopping for supplies, which included swim suits, swim caps, and goggles. The swim suits were an easy sell, but swim caps and goggles were a bit more challenging. Thankfully, we found adorable kitten and shark swim caps and goggles in the kids’ favorite colors.

When the big day arrived for the first lesson, the kids were stoked and got dressed nearly two hours early.  Before class, they watched other kids taking lessons and eagerly awaited their turn.

At the start of class, the instructors called each of our kids by name. Much to my surprise, they immediately reported for class and hopped right in the water. Despite a history of fearing water and screaming over being splashed, they quickly warmed up to the class and instructors.

Because the class is in the evening, we discovered it was best to shower the kids at the gym and dress them in pajamas. Then, they have a snack on the way home. This allows them to brush teeth and get to bed on time, which is a huge win!


Hugs!

Amber


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Let’s Play Ball!

Last spring the boys played tee ball for the first time with i9 Sports.  Overall it was a good experience, but I didn’t know if they’d want to play again and I wasn’t going to force it.  After all, their first attempt was primarily for exposure to team sports.  Sometime in the fall, both boys started asking when they could play again.   Technically there is a fall tee ball season, but in Texas it’s about 200 degrees outside until November and that’s too HOT.  I promised them spring tee ball.

Much to the boys’ delight, the spring tee ball season started a couple of weeks ago.  Expecting more dandelion picking and snack munching, I was floored by the boys’ growth.  So far, they’ve stayed with the team, followed the coach’s directions, and paid attention to the entire game.  Folks, these guys are actually playing baseball!!!

Don’t get me wrong, they still need plenty of parental support, but they are far more independent than the toddlers who tried tee ball last year.  They have cleats this year, which they believe help them “run fast!!!”.

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Mason won the medal for “Positive Attitude” last week.  After striking out numerous times he continued to persevere until he made contact with the ball and ran the bases independently.  This mama could not have been more proud of him.   Each week, I notice more progress and it makes my heart beam.

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There may be people that have more talent than you,

but there is no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.

-Derek Jeter

 

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Hugs!

 

Amber

 

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Mental Declutter

HELLO!!!

I know…. It’s been months since I last spent time here, and coming back was surprisingly hard.  After Christmas I was feeling “cluttered” by not only physical things, but mentally.  We tackled a few home organization projects, which helped ease my anxiety about stuff.  The mental clutter was far heavier for me, creating feelings of angst and discomfort.

In this season of life, my mind is constantly racing. At any given moment my brain whirs, I might be thinking about

homeschool activities

social commitments

keeping up with household chores

impending deadlines at work

the political climate

home maintenance

our budget

Each of these things is important, but the list is literally endless.  IT’S TOO MUCH!!! I’ve found that my mind needs time to rest, space to be silent. Knowing this, I finally returned to my yoga practice. Prior to having the kids, yoga was part of my life- I came to my mat several times weekly, nurturing my body and mind.  Unfortunately, life got in the way. I allowed barriers to keep me from yoga: my new body, childcare, to-dos, budget, and of course time.

I struggle with practicing yoga independently and need an instructor, but getting to a studio wasn’t in the cards (remember those barriers?!?!?)  I checked out a few DVDs from the library and wasn’t impressed.  Next, I started streaming videos from Amazon Prime and discovered Yoga Merge.  I’ve found a good variety of practice options with Yoga Merge that I chose based on my time and particular needs (e.g. stretching, relaxation, restoration, ect).  During my practice, I finally let go of my to-dos and worries.  After practice, my mind feels clear and I’m energized, ready to tackle what awaits.

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I know this mental clutter is not a struggle for me alone.  I see it on the weary faces of my friends, family, and co-workers.  In this society, we are constantly bombarded by stimuli and pressure to do.  If you don’t already have an outlet for mental clutter, I encourage you to try yoga at a gym, studio, or at home.  If you’ve never practiced yoga, it can feel awkward at first, but don’t give up too quickly.  A good place to start is Beginner Yoga | 10 Yoga Poses Every Beginner Should Know, or you can visit Yoga Merge where you’ll find basic information about yoga and a few free videos to stream. Please don’t let barriers keep you from trying yoga, or finding another outlet for letting go of mental clutter.  You deserve it.

Namaste!

Amber

 

Disclaimer: All thoughts and opinions are my own.  I was not compensated for sharing my experience.  If you choose to make a purchase through Amazon, I will earn a small commission through the Amazon Affiliates program. 


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A Fancy Nancy Banquet

 

 

Before Thanksgiving, we borrowed Fancy Nancy: Our Thanksgiving Banquet from the library.  Fancy Nancy is among our favorite book characters.  She inspires the kids to use sophisticated vocabulary words and to behave with their best etiquette. In this particular book, Nancy has the opportunity to dine with the adults, away from the “kid” table.  Naturally, our kids wanted to do the same.  Just before packing away our fall decor, we decided to have a family dinner in our formal dining room with ceramic plates instead of our usual plastic fare.  The kids relished every second of it, and we were pleasantly surprised with their outstanding table manners.

When I set the table for Thanksgiving, I realized the table stayed pretty all season and didn’t collect junk.  I wanted to do the same with Christmas décor, so I set out to create an elegant Christmas tablescape.  George and I have twelve place settings of fine china, flatware, and crystal.  Over the course of our marriage, we’ve used it on special occasions such as anniversaries and holiday meals.  In twelve years we’ve probably used them no more than once a year.  Why?  Mostly because I don’t like hand washing dishes and our china isn’t dishwasher safe.  That’s ridiculous.  I decided that not only was our dining room table going to be set using our fine china, but we were also going to use it!

I gave the chandelier my usual dressing, garland adorned with my Old World Christmas Wedding Ornaments.  They are among my favorite ornaments, but are also quite delicate and are best away from little hands.  I then created a table runner with lime deco mesh, which I brightened with hurricane glass filled with candles and silver ornaments.  I thought our silver plated nativity was the perfect finishing touch and compliment to our china.

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We’ve already used the formal dining room twice this month and hand washing the dishes wasn’t such a hassle either time.  First, we celebrated my mom’s birthday with my parents, sister, and brother in law.  There was room for all ten of us at the table, and even the quads were allowed to use the china.   Then, my college room mates joined us for brunch.  On each occasion, our guests presumed the beautiful table was for show, and felt honored when they discovered it was for them.  If a milestone birthday and nearly two decades of friendship aren’t worthy of china dining, I don’t know what is.

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I’m not sure whether we’ll have more guests over before Christmas or not, but our table is gorgeous and awaiting another meal.  Even if we don’t have guests over, our family will enjoy it at least once more before I come up with a winter tablescape.

Do you have a formal dining area or fine china?  Do you use it?

hugs!

Amber


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Wee Volunteer

Last month we were invited to participate in a preschool philanthropy program through Wee Volunteer . Though Wee Volunteer offers a variety of projects, this one was for Meals on Big Wheels where preschoolers help deliver meals to the elderly.  We were available on the scheduled day, but I was hesitant to commit.  It was 45 minutes from home and over the lunch hour.  I envisioned schlepping four winey, hangry kids, and hot meals in sweltering heat.  Misery, it seemed.  In my heart, I knew it was an excellent opportunity and decided to accept the invitation despite my reservations.   I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but had been told we would ride a bus then deliver meals in apartment complexes.

The kids weren’t terribly excited about being mini couriers, but the idea of riding a bus for the first time was enough to get them dressed and out the door.  Thankfully the bus exceeded their expectations (and mine)!  We rode in style in a charter bus complete with picture windows and purple party lights.  It was the first time the kids could really see outside the windows of a vehicle, and they were in awe.

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While we traveled, the program founder, Michelle Chase, told us about Wee Volunteer.  Five years ago, she started the organization to help teach her young girls about serving others.  The program has grown to include projects involving animals, children in need, gifts of gratitude, elderly, the environment, homelessness, and hunger.   Our project included a route that is typically covered by paid employees of Meals on Wheels.  As a result, our service saved enough funds to feed 20 clients for an entire week.  In addition to the monetary support of our service, Michelle pointed out that many Meals on Wheels clients have very few, if any visitors.  Whoever delivers the meal could be their only visitor and contact with the outside world.  Because of this, we encouraged the children to be friendly and smile.

Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

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Every client received a meal resembling a TV dinner with a piece of fruit and a drink.  Each child was responsible for carrying and handing over about two meals. All of the kids really enjoyed getting to knock on doors and shout, “MEALS ON WHEELS!!”  Sometimes, we had to practice patience as the client took a little time to reach the door.

Overall the kids did really well making deliveries, and seemed to enjoy serving others.  Towards the end, things became challenging.  The kids became thirsty, hungry, and hot, and they let this be known.  Service isn’t always easy, it involves making sacrifices to help others.  Both the kids and I learned a lot from this experience and look forward to more like it.

All of the wee volunteers weren’t willing to be photographed, but included in the group were 18 kiddos ages two to four years old.  Wouldn’t it brighten your day to have these guys deliver your lunch?

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What is your favorite service project or charitable organization?

 

hugs,

 

Amber


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The Circus

Shortly after the quads were born, we sent letters to companies who have multiple birth programs.  Within a few months, we received a handful of coupons and product samples.  With our multiple birth offers, we also heard about the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Baby’s First Circus program.  Since Ringling believes that all children should experience the joy of the circus, every child under 12 months old and living in the United States is entitled to receive his or her first ticket for FREE.  After receiving our vouchers, I cached them away to use when the kids could appreciate them.  This summer proved opportune for the kids first circus.  Shortly after celebrating the quads fourth birthday carnival style, Ringling’s Circus Extreme was in our area.

Despite seeing books and pictures about the circus, they really had no idea what to expect.  After arriving at the venue, we saw the animal encounter exhibit where you can see all of the animals that will appear in the show (a lot like the zoo).  Then, we headed to the area for the pre-show where we could see the performers and some of the props.  None of the kids wanted to be too close to a clown, but Sydney tried on a cape from wardrobe.

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As soon as we settled into our seats, the kids started complaining of hunger so I set off to grab the best concession for the price: popcorn and water.  Harper made sure we got our money’s worth and didn’t miss a single kernel.

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Once the show began, it was a tad dark and loud for the kids so I passed out ear plugs and glow sticks, which eased anxiety tremendously.  In hindsight, I wish I’d brought flashier glow items too…the kids begged for the many light up souvenir items, but the price tags were ridiculous.  The would’ve loved our dollar store wands just as much.  Next time..

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We were all thoroughly impressed and entertained by the eclectic performance which included everything from the traditional circus clowns to magical mermaids, trampoline gymnasts, and poodles.


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What’s your favorite circus act?  I was a bit partial to the poodles.

 

Hugs!

 

Amber


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