May 09, 2015

2nd Annual QMBFF Weekend

Last year I had the chance to meet my online friends in real life. It was amazing even though we all wondered to ourselves how it would go since online 'friends' are not always what they appear on the computer screen. Within 5 minutes of being together in Texas we knew no one was crazy and instantly we became quad mom best friends forever, or qmbff's as we have nicknamed ourselves. Last year when we all tearfully parted ways we promised this would become an annual tradition of meeting up the weekend before Mother's Day. Maybe two months later we decided our 2015 qmbff trip would take us to Lake Tahoe and we began to make plans. Paul thought we were nuts for planning so far in advance and I often rolled my eyes at him because seriously who doesn't start planning a trip 300 days out? Men just do not understand!

Finally those 300 days passed and even Paul couldn't believe how fast our girls weekend crept up. Last year our time in Texas was from late Thursday evening until early Sunday morning. It was way too short and we knew we needed to make the weekend longer. At first we planned Thursday-Sunday but in the end three of the girls came in Wednesday. I really think the best part of the whole weekend was having them all meet Paul and the kids and then spending a night at our house. It is so cool to now be able to talk to the girls and have Paul know exactly who I am talking about. He has now become more involved in my conversations about my qmbff's rather than just nodding his head and acting like he cares. 

The weekend officially began Wednesday when Ashley and Amber arrived in Cali.
All 5 back together again.
On Thursday, we spent a quiet morning, or as quiet of morning as it can be with 7 kids, 4 women and 1 husband, at our house before heading to pick up the last member of our sanity at the airport. It was so awesome to all be together in person again. The weirdest part for me was even though it had been a year since we saw each other you would have thought it had only been a couple of days. We talk every day multiple times and so there was no need to catch up on what had occurred during the past year, instead we just kept talking like we do everyday. After a yummy Italian lunch and a unique qmbff experience we were ready to head to Lake Tahoe. Thankfully I did not feel guilty one bit for leaving the husband for a whole weekend because he got his 5 day guys weekend in March so it was a guilt free girls weekend for me. 

I think I take this exact picture every time I go to Tahoe but it never gets old.
The most beautiful, amazing twin mom allowed us the use of her cabin near Tahoe and it was the most spectacular place to relax and forget that we had 25 kids between us. Well maybe we didn't forget about those kids since not even an hour after we got there I got a call from Paul and I had a 7 year old sobbing into the phone because she 'accidentally' cut all six of her siblings hair. I am not even kidding you!! I am so glad that her father was home to deal with her because I gave her an ear full over the phone and am not sure exactly how I would have reacted if I had been the one who needed to discipline the accidental hair clipping. After questioning myself again of why my daughter thought cutting hair was acceptable it was Christmas for us. I quickly realized I lack in having artistic/creativity skills! Good thing I have a year before we see each other again and hopefully Pinterest can help me do better than a Target run next year. 

The cabin
Christmas: quad mom style
A triplet mommy makes our annual weekend even more special by sending us the most delicious cookies ever. I also had ice cream cones and poker chips/dice/cards sent as a special treat for Paul and the kids. The shirts were created by the amazing Ashley. Necklaces were hand stamped with love by Amber. Becky brought us the best hand lotion and salve made by her sister. And then in case we ever forget that we have the best cheerleaders in the world Amber made us picture frames for our annual qmbff picture (My frame was updated to the 2015 picture by Sunday afternoon).

Friday we found ourselves being ummm...rather lazy except we failed miserably in sleeping in. What is up with not being able to sleep in when one totally has the opportunity? After a late breakfast of quiche and caramel rolls it was time for some pampering. My good friend and masseuse drove all the way to Tahoe to give in-cabin hot rock massages to each of us. We were totally in heaven. Some of us even got in a game of Scramble which I have not played for years but love. After all the hard work of getting massages we found ourselves soaking in the hot tub. Yup it was a great day.

Paul's comment when he saw this picture, "That place is a mess"! I agree that if I was at home this scatterness would drive me nuts but it was so nice to have a weekend that we didn't worry about everything being all tidy.
I am only adding this picture because this would never happen at any of our houses in the middle of the afternoon; a nap, eating while sitting, and a game being played.

Saturday we got a tad more active and the day actually left me with some sore muscles. We went to Tahoe City and went zip lining. Some of the girls will tell you it was not zip lining but rather a rope obstacle course but either way it was so much fun. Maybe only Becky will feel the same as I did but I know the others were happy when they had food and beer following the challenge. I have already told Paul we are having a date day and heading up to Granlibakken soon so we can go back and we also plan to take the big kids as soon as Drew hits the minimum age of 5. Following lunch it was time to head back to the hot tub. Three different groups of people joined us during our time of relaxing and the reaction we got each time when the groups of people found out how we knew each other was YouTube worthy every time. We especially loved the gentleman who asked us if we were on a trip before we graduated college. He made our day and we had a good laugh since this is the second year in a row we were asked this question. Apparently we don't always look like the over exhausted, stressed out moms' that we really are. Wonder if we can get this question for a third year in a row? 

And then Sunday had to come. Though I think we were all ready to head home to see our kids it was bittersweet because we were not yet ready to say goodbye to each other. But don't you worry we already have next years trip planned. We will be visiting Michigan but even better, we will get to meet Becky's family and stay at her house for one night since we are all coming in Wednesday. Who knows a couple years from now we may just make our annual girls weekend a full week; just don't tell the husbands or they may boycott any future plans. And because getting together only once a year is not adequate we have already begun planning our annual fall weekend with the husbands which will begin taking place in 2016 and then a family vacation during the summer of 2017. Do you think there are any Type A personalities among us?!? 

This had to have been the worst obstacle on the whole course and Becky is up there acting like it is no big deal. 

When we arrived back to the cabin a box awaited us. Inside there were 2 dozen chocolate dipped strawberries from the Lesnau kiddos! Major kuddos went to the husband. Paul said he just wanted to make sure we had gifts for the next several quad mom trips as each husband out did the husband before. 
So though we are all separated by way too many miles, the time we are able to spend together recharges us and reminds us that we are all pretty darn awesome moms. Some days we rejoice at the milestones our 1, 2 and 3 pound miracles have met, some days we laugh at how wild this ride is, some days we have pity parties for ourselves but in the end the five of us are so thankful that we are able to share this part of our life with one another.

In case you want to follow these amazing moms check out their blogs:
Amber B:
Amber S:

April 23, 2015

Adventures for 9

Finding activities that our whole family can do together has been tough over the last couple of years. Having 4 kids all of the same age who still require a lot of supervision, who have little legs and tend to melt down at any given moment leads us to getting a babysitter for them while we go and have fun with the big kids. Last month we decided to try a short hike with everyone. We live in the foothills and are very fortunate to live in an area that has a ton of biking, hiking and rafting adventures.

Would have been cool to actually see the Hidden Falls but we are in California and in case you missed it we are experiencing a drought which makes Hidden Falls even more hidden!
After talking to a couple co-workers I decided Hidden Falls would be out first attempt at taking all the kids on a hike. Paul was not quite as enthusiastic as I but was a good sport and went along with my grand idea. I called my mom and sister and they too decided to join us. In the end we had a great time and will be adding more hikes to our adventures this summer. Things we did right were; went bright and early in the morning before the trail was packed with people, dressed in layers, had a double stroller and a back carrier. Lessons learned; there will be complaining even if fun is being had and it may not all come from the kids (nor was it from the parents of 7 little munchkins or a grandma), one will never pack enough snacks, kids will need to pee even if they went at the beginning of the hike, kids get bored easily, don't tell the kids you may see turtles at Turtle Pond because most likely there will not be any, and have food & water in the car for when the fun is done because kids will crash and need food immediately. In the end the best part may have been that we wore everyone out and all 9 of us had a three hour afternoon nap!

No idea who she gets her poses from? 

Six kids having fun...
of course the peanut wants to be held even when others are having a good time. We may be carrying her down the aisle to the man of her dreams someday because she refuses to walk. 
Apparently he thought we were boring.

Aubrey loves to take pictures and it is the best to look at what she finds picture worthy.
Grandma with 7 of her 10 grandkids

April 14, 2015

A New Trend

Something has been bothering me for a while and more and more I am getting frustrated with a particular trend so I am voicing it today. It has to deal with parents of high order multiples setting up a Go Fund Me account or similar accounts and literally asking people out right to send monetary donations. Some families have gone as far as posting their personal address on their quad or quint Facebook pages, security people! The one reason I have not said anything before is because I have a feeling at some point we will be doing adoption fundraising to bring our son or daughter home so I do not want people to say that I am against high order multiples asking for donations but am okay if it is me raising funds for an adoption. With our fundraising it will include raffles, yard sales, and a puzzle to raise money. Though I would love to save up $30-$40,000, which is the average cost to adopt a child from China, it may not be possible to have a lump sum of that amount at one time so we will turn to fundraising. That said I still have a major issue every time I see a new account set up for someone who has been blessed with quads or more.

Is raising kids cheap? No but sometimes you need to adjust your lifestyle and when you find out you are expecting high order multiples this may be the time you may have to reevaluate. When we found out we were expecting quads we were a single family income. Paul's gig with his home business came to a very abruptend end for the single reason we knew we needed another income to support our growing family. Never once did we go to our church asking for handouts (though they did run a diaper drive which we are forever thankful for), we didn't start a blog with the specific reason being to ask people for money, and we didn't run to family asking them to support us. Paul got a full time job, we cut back on things in our life and I started hunting garage sales to find used baby equipment. It was our responsibility to provide for our kids.

When I was pregnant with the quads I can't remember a single mom in my  quad group saying they had set up a gofundme account. It just wasn't a thing in 2012 but now almost every single new mom has a family fb page with a donation site attached. It bothers a lot of us older moms that this is occurring because it is giving a bad image to the public eye that high order multiple families are looking for handouts and can't financially support their kids. We already have enough image issues thanks to the octomom and do not need another bad stereotype attached to us. We all have had to purchase 4 car seats, 4 cribs, 4 of so many things. We all have had enormous amounts of doctor visits and nicu stays. Some have had a large amount of medical bills compared to others but until recently everyone figured out how to do this without asking the public and people they had never met to pay for these things. Often you will hear these new mom say they won't be able to work but this is not true. Paul and I both work full time and do it without using a nanny. It can be done. In fact between my quad mom bff's all 5 of us work and so do our husbands. We all support our families without one penny being given to us nor do any of us receive government assistance.

The quads are now 2.5 years old and somehow we have been blessed beyond measure the last couple of years. Some days Paul and I look at each other and wonder how we got here compared to how it was 4 years ago when Paul called me asking me to put $5 cash in our account because he was 90 miles away from home, out of gas, we had cut up all of our credit cards and we had less than a dollar in our bank account. I am not lying people though I wish I was. We had some ugly financial times in our marriage that someday I promise I will share but with hard work we are at a very different spot today. Does that mean we spend like crazy and take elaborate vacations? I wish. Instead we watch every dollar we spend (Paul more than me), we seldom go out to eat compared to pre-Drew days, I make things like our own laundry soap & deodorant, most of my kids clothes are hand me downs, our kids don't get to be in every extracurricular activity and we take very few vacations but we don't ask for people to support us and we are almost debt free even with having 7 kids.

I am going to move on and though I hope getting this off my shoulders will make me less frustrated every time I see a new account set up for high order multiple family I don't think it will. What I do want to say to all of those who are newly pregnant with 4, 5 or 6 babies is you can do this on your own. You will be amazed at how many people, without you asking, will save their hand me downs or maybe your church will throw a surprise baby shower for you but you do not need people you don't know to support your kids. So many quad moms were here before the gofundme craze and did it, so can you.

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