September 29, 2013

Adios Bottles

We did it...we are a bottle free home!! When we brought the babies home we started with 8 bottles a day x4 which made it 32 bottles a day. Between all the bottles we used this came out to 176 bottle parts a day to wash. You can imagine how excited we were with every. single. bottle. we illuminated. With each bottle drop we regained a little bit of freedom. When the older kids switched from bottles to sippy cups it was no big deal because they only got bottles on the days I worked otherwise they were breastfed. The big kids literally blew out their first year candles and were handed a sippy cup. This didn't work on the quads unfortunately.

Natalie on a daddy day while mommy worked.

Aubrey enjoying her bottle.
And Drew with his bottle...or maybe Grandpa David's!
Starting two weeks before the quads turned one we started switching the babies over from formula to whole milk. It was a wonderful thing to start using less formula. The mixing of formula got really old after the first month of doing it. Some nights I wanted to do anything but make up bottles. We were SO very fortunate in the formula department because we had someone who donated the majority of the babies formula for the first year of their life. We probably only had to spend a total of $250 in formula for the babies. A HUGE blessing for our family. Paul and I would send each other a text when we would open the door and see formula sitting on our step. The text simply said "Santa was here" because that is the feeling we got each time it was dropped off. We slowly started replacing 2 oz of formula with whole milk and the babies did great. A couple days later we would had another ounce of whole milk until the day after their first birthday when they got full bottles of whole milk. The babies were going through a gallon of milk a day for the last two months. Paying for the milk wasn't the hard part, it was making sure we always had milk on hand to make the next days bottles.

The days when an ounce seemed like so much.

Daddy's first bottle for the quads.

Our tandem feeding method for many months.

Everyone got in on the action.

I had never been a fan of bottle propping but with four babies all wanting to eat at the same time we needed to.

A beautiful thing...four babies all holding their own bottle.
I had plans to pack up the bottles when we moved and leave them packed but there was no way the babies were ready. They were eating solids great but all four would let you know when it was time for their morning, afternoon and evening bottles. Rylan would start it and within 3 minutes they would all be crawling around out feet. As soon as they saw the bottles in our hands they would follow us like little ducks to the carpet and chug their milk down. When they were done they would play happily until nap time. I knew they still needed those bottles.

About a week and a half ago I came home from work and Paul said he had only given the babies two bottles for the day. They had played through their afternoon bottle without much complaint so we decided to try two bottles again the next day. They again did well so we knew it was time to start weaning them. At the same time I found two sippy cups that all the kids did well with. One was an Innobaby and the other is one the older kids use everyday, Contigo Sport. Finally finding sippy's that worked was huge for us. After about three days of having success with two bottles we decided to cut the night time bottle which we had absolutely no protesting with. The next morning they got their last morning bottle and we said goodbye to bottles...well almost! Daddy did have one day where he had given them two bottles because he said they were extremely crabby and they needed their milk. But after that day they have not needed them. Over the last couple of days their sippy cup skills have taken off and they do great with almost any brand I give them. They still haven't figured out quite how to hold them and get liquid out themselves so we go down the line and let each kid drink what they want before moving on down the line. This is done a couple times throughout the meal. The line process also helps immensely on decreasing the number of times we have to bend over to retrieve thrown cups and my floors only end up with a couple milk splatters.

The two sippy cups that the kids finally got the hang of which allowed us to transition from bottles to sippy's.

Only a portion of the sippy cups we have.
 The one thing we have noticed since taking away all bottles is that we go through way less milk but the quads are eating us out of house and home. Saturday morning our family went through 18 eggs for breakfast! I can not even imagine what it is going to be like when they are teenagers. We will probably be going through 2 gallons of milk a day then! This weekend I gathered up all the bottles and brought them to the "get rid of" box in the garage. I told Paul that all the bottles were our of da' house and he replied, 'well don't expect me to tell you not to put them in that box because we might have more.' I think going through 18 eggs in one meal may have frightened him just a bit!

It is weird to know that my babies are growing up and it seems like such a big milestone for us to have made it to the part in this adventure where we do not have to think about making, packing, heating or cleaning bottles. I wish we could say we have more time in our day but four mobile babies leaves little time for anything.

September 27, 2013

Sacramento Parent

Today as I was at the dentist with the kids I turned around and in attempt to count kids off (1, 2, 3, 4,....) to make sure I had everyone accounted for I caught a glimpse of a picture from our latest photo session. Now you may be asking yourself how did I come across a picture of our family in the dentist office? Well our family is the cover story in this months issue of Sacramento Parent. It is a free magazine that is available at many doctor and dentist offices, at hospitals, at restaurants and many other places that have long waits. I quickly grabbed the magazine and was anxious to read the article "And Baby Makes SEVEN!...A Journey to Family".

Around the time of the quads first birthday the opportunity arose for us to be featured in a magazine. For the longest time I turned down all media opportunities. It just wasn't for us but for some reason I now felt is was time to share our story more publicly than just here on the blog. Why? Not sure. I just knew we needed to. Maybe someone who picks up the magazine is trying month after month to have their own child. Maybe someone has just been diagnosed with cancer and needs to know there is hope. Maybe there is a reason and only He knows what it is. Whatever the reason it was now time to share our struggles and our joys. I am not sure where this magazine article will take us. I am lately feeling more of the need to share our story. I am not sure if this is in a public speaking format or a book but I do know we are not a tv show contrary to what many tell us! So we will see...

I have linked up the article for anyone that would like to read it and please feel free to share if you know if anyone it will give hope to.

"And Baby Makes....SEVEN! A Journey to Family."

September 22, 2013

Time-Outs, Spanking & Other Consequences

The other night we had one of those evenings when everyone just needs to go to bed because frustrated mommy came out and it was not going well at our house. Kids were tired, momma was stressed & overwhelmed and I am not sure what dad was feeling but I know he was busy doing stuff too. I lost it when I came back upstairs after someone was again yelling for mom and when I walked up the stairs I could see Drew had closed his door almost all the way but not quit. Light was shining through the narrow opening and the problem with this was the little boys had already been asleep and were now awake after Drew had turned the lights on. I was DONE. Mommy spanked and maybe not so gently tucked Drew pack into bed. I then went into the toy room to pick up toys and I knew I had let the stress of everything going on get to me. I overreacted and was not happy with myself. Drew was fine and was almost sound asleep when I went back into his room and laid down next to him to tell him mommy was sorry. Disciplining and knowing what is the right way to discipline is so hard. They have books by the dozen saying what is the right and the wrong way to discipline. How spanking a child will have non-reversible affects. How being your child's best friend instead of their parent will make them hate you less. But I have learned over the last five years of being a parent that not all children can be disciplined the same way. 

Before becoming a parent I believed that timeouts would be our number-one-go-to form of discipline. A minute in timeout for each year of the child. This sounded easy and I knew I could follow through on it. I wasn't against spanking but was hoping not to use it. I kind of felt there was no other forms of discipline. Maybe I was naive and just hoping my kids would be great kids and they wouldn't need to be disciplined very often?

When the girls were about nine months the "no-no's" started. They became more mobile and the "no-no's" were often in regards to their safety. NO pulling on cords, NO climbing on couch, NO touching pretty things on mommy's sofa table. Then became the no's for pulling sisters hair, taking her toy or biting. My first memory of having to "discipline" the girls is when Aubrey continued to bite Natalie over and over and over. We had done the no-no game. We had tried explaining to Aubrey why we don't bite. We tried time outs and a slap to the hand but nothing was stopping her from leaving teeth marks in the arm of her sister. One day she bit Natalie hard on her back. I didn't know what I could do to get the point across to Aubrey that we do not bite. The day of the back bite I took Aubrey's arm and bit her. Not hard but enough that she understood that biting hurt.  Was I proud of myself? Absolutely not but from that day on after Aubrey's shock that mommy bit her and it hurt wore off she never bit Natalie again. Is this acceptable to all parents? No and to the psychiatrists of the world that one moment in time probably ruined my child forever. It was during this time that I realized my plan to only use timeouts was not going to work.

We also quickly learned the way we disciplined Aubrey was not the same way to effectively discipline Natalie. Aubrey has always been our tender heart. A look of disappointment is usually enough to get the point across to Aubrey that we are not happy with her actions. Now Natalie on the other hand literally laughs at you with any form of discipline. Looks mean nothing to her. Time-outs she spends fidgeting and sucking her thumb until the timer beeps. With spankings she tries to run away from you and laughs if you miss. Over time we have found that losing privileges, usually in the way of snacks or treats, affects her the most. As they have gotten older the loss of ipad time also has become a consequence of bad behavior. For Drew often getting him out of the situation is what works best. He also really dislikes saying he is sorry so for him having to do that is discipline in itself!
Isabella got her first hair cut. She looks like such a big girl here.
Some days at our house we have to discipline very little. But other days I swear we are a military boot camp and all we do is yell, take things away, and have kids and sometimes mommas) in tears. We do have very high expectations of our children and expect a lot out of them. Sometimes I think if we were a house that was a free for all we would have to do very little disciplining but that is not how it works in our house. We use a lot of 1..2..3's and the majority of the time that is enough. Mommy raising her voice is no longer taken seriously. I think the kids honestly don't hear me over themselves bickering and picking on one another if I use my normal voice. Our house is loud and when you get three kids all arguing at the same time if momma isn't louder than them no one will be hearing the "knock it off right now". I am personally working on this only because I don't like that I yell. Many times when ugly mom comes out I think of Michelle Dugger. I love watching their show on TLC because I love how their family interacts. I really don't think they only act that way in front of the cameras. When I start feeling my blood boil with kids who have burnt through every ounce of my patience I ask myself how Michelle would act. Sometimes I succeed and can totally pull of the Michelle Duggar act and other days calmly telling my kids 'we do not hit because it hurts the other persons feeling and instead of hitting we should tell them how we feel' just doesn't work. 
Guess who's up next for a haircut!

The only one out of 7 who did not get their haircut. She was kept busy with goldfish.
To the public one would think I have perfect kids. They can sit at a restaurant beautifully. They are quiet, well as quiet as kids under five can be, during mass. They say their please and thank you's. When we are out looks are enough to get my kids to act appropriate. Why do they act so well when out is a question I ask myself often because literally the minute they start buckling themselves up in the car someone has done something to the other. Their arm is touching someone's car seat. Someone is sticking their tongue out at someone else. How did we go from the Brady Bunch to this family so quickly? I don't get it but I am trying so hard to be the same mom I am out in public and the same one that is found inside the car and in our home. Its a work in progress people. The world was created in 7 days and its going to take even longer for this momma to become Michelle Duggar. 

So during the last five years I hate to admit but we have had to change our plan of only using timeouts for discipline. We do use them but not as often as I thought we would. We do spank and sometimes too hard because my hand stings afterwards. We speak loudly and sometimes I am sure the neighbors can hear us even with the windows closed. We take away consequences. We send kids to bed without bedtime stories. Can you find literature out there that tells me why each of these is wrong? Yes I am sure you can and that is the reason I am trying to do better but I also know that when my children go out or are without their mom and dad they do know how to act because we have rules and expectations of them and they know there are consequences when these are not followed or met.
Aubrey was 'Star of the Week' last week and she was so excited and took her job as leader very seriously.
I often think my kids must be so happy on the days mom has to go to work because I some days feel all I do is yell at my kids for this or that all day long.  But it is the opposite, three older ones complain everyday when I have to go to work and I question them asking why they want me home with them because of this all day disciplining. Their response is "you don't yell mommy." So just maybe I am harder on myself and this feeling of constant raised voice is seen differently by my children. When I think about it I know for a fact that my parents had these same expectations of me when I was a kid and I know that I did not always follow them. When this happened there was discipline but for the life of me I can not remember what methods my parents used. I know we were spanked but I don't remember a time. I know I was yelled at but can't recall a specific incidence. I know I was grounded but from what I have no clue. Maybe discipline is not a bad thing as it makes us learn that if one displays poor behavior, attitude or effort their will be actions that are not to our liking. 
He loves having time as the 'oldest' when the girls are at school. He also enjoys getting to do things he normally doesn't get to do such as play with sisters' tea sets.
Disciplining is still hard but I know it has to take place. We become better people knowing their are boundaries. I will be my kids parent first and then their friend. There will be times I am not liked by my children but I am okay with that. How do you discipline your children or plan to? Were these the same discipline actions that were used in your childhood home?  

 photo krista.jpg

September 15, 2013

An Empty House Full of Memories

Today I spent an entire day cleaning an empty house and for the majority of the time I was in the 'I just want to get this done so I can check this off my to do list' mindframe. We have been out of our first home for a little over a week and when I was vacuuming the living room it hit me. We will no longer be calling the house on Arabian Way "Home". The tears started coming and I could have easily mopped the floors with the size of tears that were falling. The memories of the last nine years started flooding me and at that moment I wanted to drive and grab my family and bring them back home. As I pushed the vacuum back and forth I found myself revisiting so many moments that happened within those rooms:

Sitting on lawn chairs in the living room when we first moved in because we had to wait 6 weeks for our couch to arrive. Putting in a screen door that should have only taken a couple of hours but instead took a whole day. Painting room after room and then repainting because I didn't like the first color I picked. Shaving Paul's hair on the back patio when the chemo was doing its job. Having friends over for dinner and them knowing where everything was because they practically lived there too. My mom telling me my brother was having a baby when we were struggling so hard to have our own. Too many fights over finances (they can't all be good memories!). Bringing Bailey home and sleeping next to her crate. Watching Bailey do complete somersaults when her body got ahead of her. Bringing two little girls home and realizing I had no idea what sleep deprivation was. Sitting on the bed and watching as Paul found out his Grandpa John had gone to heaven. Knowing who belonged to each car that drove past our house. The moment of walking to the office with a positive pee stick in total disbelief that we had done it the old fashion way. Another positive pee stick and standing in the shower laughing and crying at the same time because we had done it again. The pain of knowing I was miscarrying for a third time. 2am feedings when everyone else was sound asleep and I was up nursing my babies and everything was right in the world. Realizing my spray tan had just been ruined with tear streaks down my face after getting the call that our baby had a cleft lip and we where leaving for vacation early the next morning. Hours spent in the bath as my body grew 4 babies at one time. The smell of Lanolin bringing me back to the days following childbirth. The love, passion and the feeling of being totally comfortable with someone you have spent more years with than apart. The giggles of my children playing outside. The smell of fresh cut grass. The door slamming from children who are trying to figure out how to voice their frustrations. Pure contentment when I walk in the door and hear "mommy's home" in a voice that you know you are loved. Watching four babies all sleeping in one room. Bailey meeting the twins for the first time.

Even though the house is completely empty I can still feel all the emotions of what made our house a home. Without a single piece of furniture or a single picture hung those four walls is where home still is. I know that eventually our new place will start to feel like home as we make new memories as a family. Our old house will now be home to P, E, S & A and I hope it will quickly become more than just wood and stucco to them and their two blue eyed little girls. Letting go is sometimes so hard only because we never know what the future will hold and the past has already been painted. For tonight I am going to fall asleep in my new bedroom cherishing all that was painted on Arabian Way and anticipating the blank canvas that lays ahead of us.

 photo krista.jpg

September 12, 2013

We are still around...just under a million boxes!

Well we are officially living in our new home. It has been a looooong week and I wish I cold say everything has found a new place to reside but we are so far from there. I am finally able to see my entire kitchen floor though which makes me feel we are actually making progress. We have only a couple things left at the old house and I am heading over there in the morning to give it a good clean so we can turn the keys over next week to our renters. Being done at the old house will help immensely with the time we spend running back and forth.

We are doing things a little backwards by unpacking what we need and organizing the rooms and then we will work room by room to give each room a fresh look on life. This will include painting, new closet organizers (this needs to happen ASAP since we tore out most of the ones that were here when we moved in), outlet covers that all match, and getting new light fixtures and doorknobs in many of the rooms. We will then eventually attack the bathrooms but that will be for a rainy day many months from now!

We are without Internet service til next Thursday but I wanted to let everyone know I haven't forgotten about blogging. It's just that I can hardly make it to my bed most evenings after Paul and I eat dinner at 10:30 at night. Moving is exhausting and I don't want to do it for a very long time. If someone tells me I need to I may just lay on the ground a throw a huge two year old tantrum.

I can't stop in and say hi without a couple pictures so courtesy of my phone a couple shots of the last week for your viewing. Sorry if you are Facebook friends with me, most of these you have seen!

Lots of landscaping to be done but it will look awesome when my dad and Paul get done.

Love, love, love having a kitchen island!

My little fishes come home from school and finish their homework so they can swim til dinner and then they are back in until bath time.

We get the most amazing sunsets in our backyard.

We have 2,000sqft of covered area between the front porch and the backyard pool deck. It is so nice being able to bring the babies outside more and they hardly ever fuss when outside.

One of the features we love in the house is an outdoor shower. The big kids have taken more outdoor showers than indoors and I have found that the distance from the kitchen to the outdoor shower is much closer than the kitchen to the upstairs bathroom!

We have already had breakfast guest. Whenever Drew leaves with Paul he always tells me that I have to be quiet so that I don't scare the deer.

One of the moments that it always hits me that I have four babies all of the same age is when they have their bottles. Most of the time they roll into each other and have some part of the their body touching someone else. I fall in love with the fact that I have quads everyday during bottle time. 

September 01, 2013

First Birthday Bash

Well the babies have been 1 for three weeks now and their party happened that long ago too but for the sake of looking like I am totally on top of things we are going to act like it happened last weekend.  Or we will just state the reality that this mom has totally fallen behind!

As the months started getting closer and closer to August I knew I needed to start thinking about the quads first birthday. Probably back in February (yes I really did start thinking about their first birthday that far in advance) I saw a birthday party that my college roommate had planned for her son. Let's just say it was one of those parties that you would find in Parent magazine. The kids all had custom t-shirts. Every little detail was planned out and the party area was totally transformed from a dining room to a Lego workshop. She had even made a chandler out of a Lego bucket and Legos to go with the party theme. The coolest thing is my friend, who ended up marrying Paul's college roommate, has an etsy store that creates everything one needs to throw a party. I then did the most creative thing I did for the entire party, I emailed Taffie Wishes and they became my party planners. Yes I know it is hard being so creative! I was so excited the day my party in a box showed up at my doorstep and all I had to do was follow the step by step set-up guide she had drawn for me.

Tissue Paper Confetti Ballons. So easy!

The theme for the quads party was 'Hugs & Kisses & Birthday Wishes'. There were little X&O's all over the home to keep with the theme and the babies may have gotten one or two kisses throughout the day too. We had a fabulous time celebrating our survival of the first year the quads first birthday. They had no idea what the big deal was but we enjoyed the beautiful day, good food, delicious cake, and a slide or two down the water slide. When the day was done I think I was more tired than I was during the first 3 months of the quads at home. It still amazes me when someone asks me how old the babies are and I say 1 but I know all too quickly my answer will change to 2 so I am going to go soak up this year before it to passes.

Hugs & Kisses & Birthday Wishes to my four 1 year olds!! 

 and now for some major picture overload...

Party Beverages:

"This party stuff is just way to exciting. Not sure if I can handle it."

 Sugar Rush:

Trying to figure out why everyone is singing and look at them.

"Is everyone taking pictures of me?"

I think this was the start of a sugar coma.

Still going at it.

Why are the boys the cleanest?

"If you don't mind I will just take this with me."
Clean up duty

Friends & Family:

Father & Son

Kids table. There was another Pinterest worthy banner outside made by Taffie Wishes but of course I didn't get a single picture!

The four extra kids are 2 sets of twins who I have met through a twin group on Facebook. All the mommy's were due in October 2012.

Trying it out before the party and before water!

I don't know how kids spend hours on these things. Water from the hose is FREEZING.

Grandma Pat decided no swimsuit was needed.

His lips were blue by the time the slide was finally hauled away that night.

Auntie Nikki finally getting the courage up to ride the slide.

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