August 09, 2016

Happy 4th Birthday Babies

I cannot believe you are turning 4 today. This is the age Natalie & Aubrey were when I had you and they seemed so old when they would visit you daily in the nicu. How are you 4 already? There were often moments since you born that the days seemed to take forever. I couldn't wait to stop making 32 bottles every single evening. I couldn't wait for Tate to stop spitting up after he ate which would mean he wouldn't have to wear a bib 24/7. I couldn't wait for you to walk, and then pushing it I couldn't wait til you could walk from the house to the car and climb into your car seats all by yourself. I couldn't wait for you to get more food into your mouth than on the floor. Then all of a sudden you could do all of those things and you went from babies to big kids. Now that you crossed all of these things of my list it makes me sad because I miss the cuddles on the couch when I would hold two of you at a time. I miss tucking you into your cribs at night all swaddled up. I miss giving you baths each night on the kitchen table and catching your first smiles. I miss trying to get you to take your first steps and then cheer for you when you took 6 steps in a row. I miss your baby days. I miss your toddler days. I don't want to go back to those days because I really like who you are becoming but I just wish the years wouldn't have slipped by so quickly because I didn't have enough time to soak up those moments in the busyness of those days.

"How old are you going to be?"
You are 4 but could easily be mistaken for someone much younger because you are so petite. You still own a pair of 3-6 month shorts that fit you perfectly. Though you are a preschooler you still love to be carried a lot. When we go around the table at dinner and say what we are thankful for it is always that you rode on mama's back if you did that day. Though you like to be mom and dad's little one you also like to act like the oldest quad; you voice your opinion and usually in a yelling type of way, you get yourself dressed most mornings and usually your top and bottom match but often you dress for the wrong season and you do not always like to be touched or carried by your older sisters. As of right now you are excited for school to start because you have your very own lunchbox but on the first day of drop off I can guarantee you will be the one who starts the round of crying as mom & dad try to escape. Kenzie, mom & dad love you like crazy. and you will always get whatever you want if you ask your daddy because you've stolen his heart baby girl. The other night as we were driving I looked back at you in your car seat and just couldn't imagine that someday my pixie cut blonde won't always be my little girl. Who will tell me "I love you Mom. I like your hair. I like your purse." in the sweetest little voice? I'm not ready but I do hope your 4's are amazing for you.

My Bella Boo. Prior to this year you were Isabella or Izzie but as your brothers and sister started talking you became Bella to them and I love it because it is a name that your womb mates gave you. Your voice is deep and when asked what your name is you say "Iz-a-Bella". You are such a beautiful little girl. Your long wavy blonde hair. Your blue eyes. Your deep dimple when you smile. When we ask you if you are beautiful you give us this half smile that melts our hearts. You are a very happy girl until you are not happy and then we all know it. Oh boy you can throw a fit and it will not end until you decide you want it to be over. Baby dolls are still your favorite and you love playing with your big siblings. You go along with whatever game they come up with as long as they include you in it. There are good chances you will be voted the 'most likely to have the shoes on the wrong feet' in high school because you always put your shoes on the wrong feet. How do your shoes even feel comfortable when you put them on this way? You are also excited for school but the minute your sister starts to cry you will follow her lead and cry along with her but when I come back to pick you up you will be all smiles. You are the artistic one and will sit happily coloring at the kitchen table but always put away your coloring books and makers when you are done. Happy 4th Birthday Boo-Boo, Mom & Dad love you!

You are only 4 but you may as well be 6 because you want to be just like your brother Drew. Anything he does you are right beside him doing it with him. I can't wait to see you next year on the playground and see how excited you get when you see your big brother on campus. You remain persistent and do not forget a thing. It drives your mom and dad crazy because you tell us your wants every 3.7 seconds. This summer you realized how much you love swimming and want to be in the pool all day long. You love to swim without your floaties but are afraid to try the deep end without them. You remain the biggest of all the babies and are often mistaken as older than the other 3 making them triplets but even though you are the biggest you are also the one who is least adventurous and the most scared of trying anything new when it comes to anything loud, fast or high. Somehow even with this fear you are the one who has had two double black eyes this summer. When we drop you off at school this year you will be the one to walk in, kiss us good-bye and never look back as you go give Ms. Stephanie a hug. Your brother Drew was a favorite of his teachers and I won't be surprised if you fill this role as your brother moves onto Kindergarten. I already know year 4 will be taken head on with you buddy!

Trouble, Trouble, Trouble! I will continue to say you have been trouble since the minute the doctors decided you all needed to be born because you kept dropping your heart rate. Somehow you love irritating your brothers and sisters and then acting like you have no idea what we are talking about when we tell you to knock it off. You have also perfected the look of innocence with your grin. And talk about whine and I am not referring to the stuff made with grapes. Even when you are just telling us something you have a whiny-ness to it. You also have a way of fake crying and clinging whenever mom & dad are not with you. This includes leaving you with babysitters or at kids club at the gym. All of this is maybe because you are the baby of the family and maybe you read somewhere that this is how the "baby" is suppose to be. When alone with mom & dad, whether in the house or out running errands, you are so much fun and are always so good. You would be a wonderful only child! Rylan mom will admit that writing to you on this birthday is not easy because you can be so sweet but you spend more time picking, whining and throwing fits than anything else right now. I am hoping by your 5th birthday you find some new hobbies to take up but I will say you are our trendsetter dresser and love polo shirts and flip flops!!

It still seems like yesterday that you made us a family of 9. When people ask me how old you are now I pause a moment because I can't believe I am saying 4. I am so proud to be your mama and I love the little people you are becoming. This is the first birthday of yours that I am not dealing with guilt for having you so early because you have all caught up to your peers and no one would be able to tell that you were born 2.5 months early. You have no idea how happy this makes your mama and today I will relive your birthday, not grieving, but instead with emotions of joy knowing 4 years prior I was meeting 4 miracles for the first time. I can not wait to see you all blossom this year as you become preschoolers and step out into the real world for the first time ever.

Because sometimes you just gotta really love your sister!

Happy 4th Birthday 
Kenzie, Bella, Tate & Rylan

July 31, 2016

A Minnesota Family Trip

A while back Paul and I decided this would be the summer we would go back home. Paul and I both grew up in Minnesota and then went off to college in North Dakota. Once we graduated I dragged him with me to California with the promise we would only live there for 2 years. Before long I was a girl who's heart belonged in California and apparently Paul loved me enough to stay by my side because it wouldn't have taken much for him to go back to the Midwest. The last time we were in Minnesota as a family was the month before we got pregnant with the babies. Once we found out we were going to be a family of 9 any hope of taking a vacation back home seemed far fetched unless we someday would buy an RV.

Fast forward 4 years and we wanted all of our family to meet our kids and to also spend time with Grandpa & Grandma Lesnau. Flying was not an option. Buying an RV was not an option. Driving our 10 passenger van was going to be the way we traveled 1820 miles. With needing to travel all those miles we knew we needed to make this family vacation a longer one to make it worth while. I worked my schedule to cover my days and Paul used a bunch of his accumulated vacation time and our dates were set.

I recently traveled to my dads with the kids which was an 8 hour drive and I was so glad that I had done this previous trip because it gave me great insight into what worked and what did not with kids in the car for many hours. We chose to leave at 6am which is normally right when our kids wake up. Waking them up earlier has always failed us in the past because we think our kids will fall back to sleep and they never do. This also allows me to wake up and get myself ready before the kids so when they do wake we basically have the kids brush their teeth, change into the clothes that had been laid out the night before, pee and we are off. With this early departure I have everything we possibly can load the night before so my checklist in the morning is very short. When we originally started thinking about our road trip we thought we would rent a trailer to pull behind our van but Paul decided driving slower than the speed limit to pull a trailer was not sounding fun. Instead I got serious on my packing. I am one who hates being on vacation and have limited clothes so that meant I needed to have plenty of wardrobe options for all 9 of us. I decided the Rubbermaid containers from Costco would be the perfect packing solution. I also ordered a bunch of Thirty-One bags that would slide under our seats for easy access to snacks and entertainment. A thermal bag to keep drinks and cold food options on hand was also used. Even I was surprised how well everything fit into our van without feeling crammed or needing to step over items every time we needed to get out. My organization OCD loved the packing game of Tetris!

Pulling out of the driveway at 6:02!
Mama had her oils going the whole way.

The sun was blinding as we took off in the morning. Drew and Kenzie took one for the team until we reached Tahoe and the sun was higher in the sky.
In the weeks leading up to the trip I read other blogs of those who had taken road trips with kids and got some ideas on things to pack to keep kids entertained. One of the best items I purchased were 7 metal baking pans from the Dollar Store. I would keep them up front with me and when the kids wanted to color, play a game or eat a snack I would place the items on the tray and hand them back to the kids. Then when they were done they could hand the whole tray back up to me. The sides of the pan were great because the kept the items from rolling onto the floor. We also packed along solo cups and paper plates which allowed us to hand out snacks without having to buy individual snack items. I'd prepare the plates/cups and then hand them out and these allowed the kids to eat food without making a huge mess. We also kept a plastic bag conveniently hung on the middle row so that all trash could be handed to Aubrey and disposed of in the bag instead of on the floor. I can't stand traveling in a messy car.

A bag of letters were great on the metal trays. This picture was found on Aubrey's camera and made her mama smile.
We found a park midday to use the bathroom and run around while daddy went and filled up with gas. A great 20 minutes out of car seats.

Our first day of travel we wanted to get to Salt Lake City by late afternoon. We did great and would have arrived by 3:30 but being blonde I forgot about the time change we would have so we ended up arriving at 4:30. We ate both breakfast and lunch in the car with food I had prepared at home. This allowed us to only have to stop two times to use the bathroom. The kids did really well and we even fit in me painting 60 toenails while driving (Rylan was asleep during out spa treatments). Once we got to Salt Lake we were super excited to meet a family we have known online but had never met in person. The Cox family also has 7 kids and we had so much fun with them. The kids swam hard for 3 hours and though it was way too short of visit we were so glad to have the chance to make new friends. After we left their house we had 4 more hours to go before we would arrive at the hotel I had booked our first night at. The kids watched a movie and then all fell asleep allowing Paul and I to have a quiet 2 hours to listen to Pandora and snack on trail mix as the miles passed us by.

Aubrey fell in love with Baby Noah and would have been more than happy to bring him along with us.
Not often you have 2 mom's with 14 kids between them!

Kids asleep, mama & daddy acting silly.
The next morning we woke in Rawlins, WY and had breakfast in the hotel before hitting the road before 8am. We made it an hour and the first kid already had to go to the bathroom. Besides the long boring roads of Wyoming, the kids had the need for many bathroom breaks. We gave them very little water throughout our drive and we quickly learned this was the kids new way to get dad to pull off at a rest stop. There were many times we told them they needed to hold it because otherwise we weren't going to get anywhere. As we entered South Dakota the kids needed out and mile after mile lead us to wide open fields. We stopped at the first town that held a promise of a grocery store and after picking up lunch meat and cheese we found ourselves a park that at night would be a little scary. Paul and I were both praying for naps once we got in the car and were so relieved when everyone fell asleep except Aubrey. It was then that I started looking at where we should end our driving for the day. We decided Mitchell. SD sounded attainable and wouldn't leave us with a ton of driving on our final day. While I was looking at the map, Paul asked me how far it was to Keystone and it ended up being only 20 miles out of our way and we could be there in 40 minutes. We decided instead of spending the evening at the hotel pool we would take a side trip to Mount Rushmore. I am so glad that we did this because we all had so much fun. I had never been there and thought it was a great experience. As we left the monument we got rained on and got stuck in our first thunderstorm. After a stop for pizza we drove our remaining 4 hours and got to watch a lightening storm the entire way.

On vacation and still checking work emails!

Trying so hard to climb like Natalie & Drew but the monkey couldn't even get off the ground.
But daddy made it and Tate was so excited for him.
The final morning of our drive we set an alarm for 7 and the kids and Paul got out of bed around 7:45. It was great having the kids sleep in a little and with the kids still wearing pj's we headed to the hotel breakfast and then allowed the kids to swim for an hour before our final 4 hours of driving. These remaining hours were by far the best we had with the kids but when we pulled into Paul's parents house we were all more than happy to get out of the car. In the end the drive was much better than Paul or I thought it would be. We've even said that we can see ourselves doing road trips more often and we know each year it will get easier and easier. For the next two weeks we are going to be spending the time with grandparents and other family members before heading to Montana for a couple of days before making the trek back home. It feels so good to know that we have gotten to an age were our kids can handle 27 hours of driving time over 2.5 days.

Day 3 can have you acting a little crazy and Drew grew facial hair between California and Minnesota!
We MADE it!!! 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...