January 26, 2014

How WE do it- Part 1

This week marked the first week since finding out we were pregnant with four that I have worked out. I am so happy with myself! I know they were born 17 months ago but I have found every excuse in the book of why I couldn't work out. 'My body just went through a quad pregnancy, I am not ready. I am exhausted. I don't like working out at home. I despise running even more than working out at home. I am purely exhausted. If I take an hour to work out I will not get all my tasks accomplished. I will get up at 5am and head to the gym but darn that bed feels much to nice to leave it when the alarm goes off.' I have run through these scenarios time and time again. I have gotten down to my pre-kiddo weight and am actually happier with my body now than I have ever been (talk about major self confidence issues for this momma) but it is time to get toned up. So this week the excuses ran out and I downloaded the 30 Day Shred off of Amazon Prime and got moving. Why all of a sudden did I give up on my excuses? Because in a couple of months I am flying out to Texas to meet up with 5 other quad mommas and I know we all want to enjoy laying out at the pool in our swim suits and we would like to not scare off everyone else who has the same idea of relaxation. So for now I will fit in 30 minutes of working out with Jillian daily and hopefully as it warms up I will incorporate biking and running walking fast into my work out sessions.

In my last post I talked about how in our day to day life we just do it. We get things accomplished and our life is our reality. Those with multiples understand how true this is but I did have some of my twin momma friends ask me how "we" really do certain things. In my twin group I am the only one who has a higher set of multiples than twins and just like I have no idea how those with sextuplets do it these moms know what they go through and sometimes can't imagine it being multiplied by 2. Here are a couple questions they had for me on how it is with quads+3:

Getting out the door

We are amazingly fast when it comes to getting out of the house. With both Paul and I home we can load and go in about five minutes. We usually have the strollers already in the car but if not Paul will go throw those in the van while I grab shoes and socks (total joke because the babies whip them off faster than I can put on!). We keep the diaper bag which has bibs and a bag of costco goldfish ready in the car at all times. In the van we also have a package of wipes and diapers that stays in the car so we don't have to worry about if the diaper bag has these items. The big kids can all put on their own shoes and jackets so they are in charge of that and we will usually have them run upstairs to grab the babies wub-a-nubs (pacifiers). Paul and I will then each carry two kids out to the van and buckle them in. The big kids can buckle themselves which is a small slice of heaven. Paul will usually grab a soda for the road for himself and I make one run through the house to grab anything else we may need. Loading everyone is quick when there are two of us. There are times we are eating lunch and then decide we need to go somewhere and before you know it we are washed up and loaded. Our team work comes in very handy when getting out of the house.

There are many times a week when Paul and I are alone and must get everyone loaded by ourselves. Usually it is when we need to either take or pick up the girls from school. I will run through my typical morning when I am alone with the kids. The girls usually wake up around 6 o'clock in the morning and I am quick to usher them downstairs so their chatting does not wake up the other 5 kids who are still sleeping. Sometimes Drew will wake up with the girls and other times he will wonder downstairs 20 minutes later. The girls usually either do art in the kitchen or will watch some cartoons on the ipad. I then make sure I am up by 6:40 to get us to school on time. My routine is then to put in my contacts, brush my teeth and pull my hair back. I have officially become the mom who escorts her kids out of the car in the school drop off in her pajama bottoms and no bra. I do have standards though and if I am actually walking the girls into school I will be fully dressed! After I am done in the bathroom I head to the kitchen to start the buffet breakfast we serve. Because we know breakfast is so important Paul and I allow the kids to pick their breakfast which usually means we are serving four different things. Aubrey always has eggs, Natalie and Drew will choose either oatmeal, eggs, pancakes, cereal (cheerios, rice krispies, corn flakes, or Raisin Bran), or Greek yogurt. Of course they don't choose the same thing on the same day because that would just make life way to easy for mom and dad. Once breakfast ingredients are pulled out it is time for the kids to get moving. Uniforms on, pajamas hung up or thrown into the laundry basket, hair and teeth brushed, and usually a kid throwing a fit because they can't get their sock on or because they wanted to wear a jumper and not a dress which of course is dirty and sitting in the laundry basket with above pajamas. After Drew and the girls are dressed we head back into the kitchen where the girls get their packed the night before lunch boxes out of the fridge and an ice pack put in. They also fill up their water bottle or whine that they can't do it and need my help. I finally get all three different breakfast on the table and encourage less talking and touching and more eating. It is now about 7:10 and if the babies are quiet I will get a head start on cleaning up the kitchen and they will eat when we get home. If Tate they are awake and crying for someone to rescue them I get their breakfast made which will consist of either pancakes, oatmeal or eggs. As I head upstairs for diaper changes I am praying that no one has peed through their jammies because if they have I must fit in time to change not only their diaper but get clothes on them too. After all four babies have clean diapers I carry two at a time downstairs and buckle them into their chairs. At the same time I am usually telling Natalie she needs to hurry up and eat. I head back upstairs to the two remaining babies who are screaming on the other side of the gate thinking I abandoned them. Once they are buckled in to their chairs I grab each baby a bib, a tray and then a plate of food. It is at this time the big kids are usually letting me know I forgot their milk so I pour five glasses of milk (the babies share between two sippies). The big kids are in charge of clearing their spot when finished and then I repeat myself over and over to get their shoes and jackets on while I start the van. Once the clock says 7:40 I must start loading kids. Aubrey and Drew are very good about going out and getting buckled in by themselves. Natalie usually is still having a fit about something so she is always the last one of the big kids in the car. The babies stay buckled into their chairs after they are washed up and I will carry two kids out to the car, buckle them in and then repeat. I then run back in and grab my purse, phone and my breakfast of a protein drink to have on the way to school. Once we get home I unbuckle Drew and start carrying two kids and then go back for the other two. Once inside I find a spot on the floor to have five minutes of sitting down while five little people use me as a jungle gym. It is now 8:20 and Drew starts in that he is hungry. Mornings are busy. It's not the loading and unloading of the babies that is hard, it is how much needs to be done in such a short amount of time. I don't know for sure in what order Paul does things when I am not home but I am pretty sure it is very similar to how I do it except I am sure he finds a pair of jeans to put on before leaving the house!

We enjoy getting out of the house and getting seven kids ready and out the door goes pretty quickly. It is awesome having the three older kids buckle themselves and I can't even imagine how nice it will be when all 7 kids are able to do it. Some days I dream about those days! For us having the van always stocked with the diaper bag, diapers and wipes is key. Less things for me to think about. We do tend to forget to remind Drew to go potty before we leave so we usually hear "I have to go potty" as soon as we are too far from home to turn around but that is life.
These kids and their climbing is driving me crazy. Any beats on who will need stitches first. Somehow only Aubrey has needed stitches and no one has ever had a broken bone. As I was typing that I was knocking on wood so I did not just jinx myself.


Meal Planning/Freezer Meals

Preparing food is one thing I love doing with our large family. I have always loved to cook and cutting up onions and celery is a total stress reliever. I by no means am a gourmet cook but I do really enjoy it. Now my "meal planning" consist of going to the freezer in the morning and seeing what I have to work with to make dinner. I am really good at creating something out of nothing.

About every two weeks we make our Costco run and spend around $300. During these trips we stock up on things like tortillas, sour dough bread, Greek yogurt, 5 dozen eggs, milk, turkey burger, Italian sausage, hamburger, deli meat, bacon, chicken nuggets, breaded chicken patties, fish sticks, lots of different kinds of cheese, bananas, and then a variety of other fruits and vegetables. We then always have on hand chicken stock, Alfredo sauce, sour cream, rice, cream of mushroom soup, olives, frozen corn and peas, elbow pasta noodles, spaghetti noodles and of course Kraft macaroni and cheese.
Breakfast was outlined above. Lunch is often the least healthy for us. We tend to go towards left overs or meals that do not include a lot of prep time or clean up. This would include grilled cheese, quesadillas, mac & cheese, chicken nuggets/breaded chicken patties, lunchables (home version of crackers, meat and cheese) or anything else left over in the fridge from the previous days. Dinner is our bigger meal of the day and the most prep work. I do try and use my crock pot at least once a week. Crock pot meals we enjoy are shredded beef or chicken (which is often used for two different meals that week and then I freeze whatever is left), chicken & dumplings and soups. Our other top dinner go-to's are chicken enchiladas, stir-fry, homemade pizza, tacos, chicken with cream of mushroom soup gravy over rice, meat loaf, chili, meatballs, everything pasta (pasta with either Alfredo or cheese sauce with whatever meat and veggies I need to use up), sweet potato fries made in the oven, salmon and many other types of meat/fish grilled.We are a meat family so all dinners will include some kind of meat.

We try really hard to serve a protein, a vegetable and a fruit with every meal. My older kids love spinach and so we add that to a ton of meals in different ways. We also add in carrots and mushrooms because those are two other vegetables that everyone loves. I am very thankful I have excellent eaters except for nights that things like salmon is on the menu because buying salmon for a family of 9 can add up and unfortunately there is seldom leftovers. In the summer we do a ton of grilling and I love these nights because there is usually a lot fewer dishes to wash afterwards. We do not make separate meals except at breakfast time so if someone says they do not like something then our response is "that's okay you can be done."They really quickly change their tune.

The kids eat dinner between 4:30-5 each night. This is way too early for Paul and I to eat since we are usually just getting lunch at 2 in the afternoon. It is also a very busy time with getting food for 7 kids cut up and served and then giving seconds and thirds when the plates are emptied. Because of the early dinnertime and the fact that we do not have a chance to sit Paul and I eat after the kids are in bed on most evenings. This allows us to actually sit and enjoy our food. I also work til 7:30 on the days I work so Paul waits until I get home. Our go-to meal after the kids are in bed is taco salad. It is easy. We always have the fixings on hand. And for some reason it always hits the spot.
So I have no words of wisdom on meal planning because I usually do it while making breakfast. My only advice is to have a well stock pantry and freezer. Also get creative, you will be surprised with what you can make. Thankfully I have a husband who has no problem running to the store for one ingredient if I find I am missing something mid-recipe. Google is also very helpful. If you have something in your pantry that has been there forever just type in the ingredient and a whole bunch of recipes will come up. I usually try and start with the ones that have the most stars. I read through the reviews to see what changes people make and then I add or leave out what others have suggested. I have no problem changing a recipe. That is probably why I am a much better cook than baker!

I was pretty darn proud of myself for this train track! I texted Paul and told him I can now put train track putter together on my resume.


Date Night In
We are much better at going out than having date nights in. Once we tidy up for the evening by picking up toys, vacuuming and mopping, make school lunches for the girls, and fold whatever laundry is awaiting us it is usually 9pm. This is then when Paul and I sit and have dinner on the couch. Paul will watch his dvr'd tv shows while I spend time catching up on blogs or Facebook. I also have been enjoying my kindle since Christmas. When we only had the twins we use to play card games, sequence or scrabble. We have mentioned that we need to start this again. Paul also loves watching movies but I literally do not have the attention span anymore to watch a whole movie. It becomes sensory overload after spending a day with the kids so I will sit next to him while doing something that does not need my mind to keep up.
We never get take out except for the rare Papa Murphy's pizza we pick up for the kids. Paying money for food to take home and reheat just does not make sense to me. Again I enjoy cooking so I would rather have the time to prepare us something yummy to eat. There are evenings when we will get the kids to bed and Paul and I will head to the kitchen and work together to prepare a big pot of gumbo. We do both enjoy cooking together and make a great team when preparing a meal.
Maybe date night in is something we need to work on but an occasional evening relaxing in the hot tub is good for us. Luckily neither of us needs a ton of romance (not to be confused with another activity between a husband and wife!) to know we are loved. We are okay with relaxing on the couch together doing our own thing.




How to do it all with no outside (paid) help.
I have a hard time leaving my kids with anyone until they are old enough to voice what they need. It is a trust issue 100% for me. Also the babies are in such a routine and get crabby when things are thrown of schedule. At times it would be nice to hire someone to come in for a couple of hours while I am home to get things done but then I think of the money I would spend having someone there while I am home and it just doesn't make sense to me. I would rather spend that money on a house cleaner! Priorities!! I also know myself well enough to know that if I was home while someone was there I would not be able to just let someone else take care of my kids. I would feel very guilty that I was not the one playing with them, changing them or loving on them. And of course the hired help would never to things the way I want them done so I would be following right behind them. Again a trust issue and a Type A personality thing.

We do have a couple sitters that we use in the evenings so that we can go out but we never leave until the babies are in bed. When you are not use to 7 kids who are all 5 & under it would stress anyone out and I don't want someone stressed when taking care of my kids. Some days Paul and I dream about taking a whole afternoon to just spend together instead of just stealing 3 hours in the evening but our late afternoons are so busy that I don't know who would ever sign on for that task. The stage we are in is only a short phase. We love when we are both home and count down the hours until the other parent gets home when we are alone. It just works for us and we are good at packing the babies up and going where we need to go even when the ratio is 1 parent:7 kids.

This little girl has all of us wrapped around her finger.

A video of  'a day in our life'.
I think this would be fun myself only because in about 10 years I know I will be wondering how in the world we ever did it. I just don't know how I could do this because I don't stay in one place for more than 5 minutes so I would literally have to wear a camera on my head or have someone come in and tape it. I will let you know if A Day In The Life Of 5 Plus 4 ever happens.

Rylan is certainly falling in his fathers footsteps. He is our little engineer and needs to figure out how everything works. He spent over 45 minutes trying to figure out how to get this salad dressing mixer to work.




The "witching hour" if you have one. What is your "system" for the chaotic time of night.
I don't think I would classify us as having a witching hour anymore. We certainly did when the babies were younger but that has pretty much decreased to about 20 minutes of fussiness as we get dinner on the table. I will do a quick run down of our afternoon/evening. Paul or I will go get the girls from school at 3pm. If one of us is at work it means the little kids have to come with us so afternoon naps are obsolete or very shortened. Once we get home the girls know homework comes out first thing. They actually started this when the school year began and so it has never been a battle. The girls will sit at the kitchen counter and work on their homework. The babies are usually pretty content just to play in our living room off the kitchen so during the first 45-60 minutes we usually just do homework and play. The girls are also in charge of emptying their lunchboxes which does often need a couple of reminders. Around 4 I usually start getting dinner ready and this is the time that the babies get a little fussy. Rylan and Tate are often crying at my feet hoping to get bites of whatever I am cutting up. If the noise of all the kids gets a little to much for this momma to handle I will turn on Micky Mouse Clubhouse during this time. When I start putting food on plates the big girls get the babies into their chairs before they come to the table. Everyone eats and by the time everyone is done it is about 5:15. Once the babies are washed up from dinner they get taken upstairs for their bath. I give the quads their bath and get them into jammies. During this time Paul usually starts cleaning up dinner and then will get the big kids in the shower and brush their teeth. After all baths are done we play around upstairs until about 6:15 when the quads get tucked into bed. They will usually play and talk to the sibling they share their bedroom with but other than that we don't usually hear them protest. The next 45 minutes are spent with the big kids. We go over their word cards for school and then try and fit in a game. We do not do stories before bed lately because they would rather play a game. By 7 we are taking the big kids up to their room. Sometimes whineyness accompanies tuck in because by now they are so tired. They come home worn out from school. If Drew has take nap we know he will play around in his room and call for us a couple of times before he gives in. Paul and I both do tuck in and prayers with the older kids and there are no exceptions unless one parent is gone. Once the kids are all in bed we go back to the kitchen and clean up from dinner and also vacuum and mop (not every night) the floors. It is then time for us to take a breath!
So I wouldn't say we have a "bewitching hour" anymore but maybe 20 minutes of crying because the boys want to eat the minute they see me start to prepare dinner. I would give them a snack but then I know they would only eat the goldfish and once dinner got served they would be full and only pick at their food. The last four hours of the day with the kids are busy and they are more prone to melting down because all of them have put in a full day. The quads are also at the age where they want Paul and I to be sitting and playing which makes it hard to do things such as make dinner, help big kids with homework or even run to the bathroom. It can get a tad bit irritating when you have four babies that want you at once. The infant stage was tiring but four toddlers is very trying on patience because they now try to voice their wants but it comes out a very load octave cry. They are also very clingy and my lap can only hold 2 comfortably now without someone getting mad because their space has been invaded. There are some days I wish we could go back to every 3 hour feeds but then I think about bottle washing, pumping, spit up galore and then decide I will just be glad that 7 o'clock does come around every evening.

Maybe a priest in the making?!?


Your methods of discipline?
I have talked about this topic in the post Time-Outs, Spanking & Other Consequences. Not one of my favorite posts but I try really hard not to sugar coat our life and with 9 people under one roof we need discipline. I recently had to read a self help book after I found myself becoming extremely stressed with 2 five year olds who were falling apart every time we gave them an answer they did not like. I read the book 'The Great Behavior Breakdown' by Bryan Post.. This book was recommended to me by one of our social workers in the nicu and I have had it sitting in my nightstand for over 6 months. I finally got it out and read it in two days after having a not so good day with the girls. The theme throughout the book was not to feed into the negative loop the girls where in when having their meltdowns, instead give them a positive loop and they will not be able to keep up with their meltdown. Also instead of time-outs give them time-ins. This has been amazing in the 2 weeks since I have read the book. We have witnessed far fewer tantrums, stomping and over all whineness which then in turn has lead to mommy yelling much less.
The book also really made me look at my anxiety when dealing with the girls. Our mornings were always a struggle and after some soul searching I realized each morning was a repeat of the day before; the girls would wake up earlier than I knew they should, I would go up and tell them to get back to bed, they would chit chat and I would go back upstairs to tell them to be quiet, after 15 minutes of me getting more and more frustrated while lying in bed they would come down and I would start in on them and start taking things away for not listening. Each morning was starting out this way and it wasn't working for any of us. I needed to do away with this morning anxiety so I came to the conclusion that I needed to change the way I was dealing with the situation because as soon as I would hear them wake up my fight or flight response was being kicked into action. Now when I hear the girls start talking to each other I ask them to come downstairs so they don't wake anyone else up. I have realized that even if I think it is too early for them to be up or know they are still tired there is no way either of them will fall back to sleep so why push it. Once they are downstairs they will either work on coloring and art projects or they will get some cartoon time on the ipad. Occasionally one of them will want to get in some morning cuddles in mom and dads bed. I then get up when I need to to get everyone ready for school and they know when I say it is time to put the art and ipad away they must do it. This little bit of change on my part in the mornings has made a huge difference in our family. Before I started each morning already anxious with having to deal with two girls who woke too early and now we all get a little more individual time before starting our day. Such a simple change but one that has taken far too long for me to realize.
The babies do not require much 'discipline' yet. We do say "no no" and "danger" if they are doing something that can hurt them or if we do not want them doing something in particular. If a "no no" does not work we will remove them from whatever they are doing. We also frequently have to say "no hitting" and with this we just try and catch the arm mid hit so that they know what we are talking about. If a plate gets dropped on the floor during meal they loose the plate. After telling them no with food throwing their food is removed from their tray and they have to sit and wait for everyone else to finish otherwise if we wash them up they will just come stand at anothers tray and eat off of it.
I think disciplining kids is ever changing. As kids hit different stages in life the way you discipline them must change with the child. At a young age verbal discipline is enough, then hand taps may need to be added to let kids know what they are touching is dangerous and not okay, then as they become toddlers time outs can be added, as they get closer to school age consequences for behaviors are effective. I also don't think the same form of discipline is right for each child. As a parent you know what is the most effective method for that child. And at times we as parents need to look at ourselves to see if it is us that needs to change. The one thing I do feel strongly about is kids do need to have some form of discipline in their life.

I love moments like these. I was working and when I got home I was told to look at the camera. This is what greeted me. I also love how our cat has taken over the spot as the family dog. She follows the kids everywhere and even tries to tag along on walks.
Paul took this picture but I am sure he had just asked Drew what he was up to and knowing Drew he probably said, "I don't know."

Your laundry system.
When we first moved into our new house I felt like I was always doing laundry. I would fold it in the evenings on the couch and then that is where it would sit for days. It was driving me crazy. My mom suggested folding it as I pulled it from the dryer and that suggestion has helped my laundry issue a ton. I now will not start another load unless I can fold the load that waits for me in the dryer because previously the laundry baskets were piling up too fast and I couldn't keep up. I don't fold it in the laundry room, instead I fold it all on our island. I also try and pick one day when all the laundry hampers are full in the house to wash everything. It turns out that I spend about one full day doing laundry and then a couple loads throughout the week of school uniforms or sheets. On my laundry day which is totally based of when the hampers are overflowing onto the floor I will wash, dry and fold all day long. The island is stacked with clothes by dinner time. The piles do not stay there for days like they did on the couch because if we want to eat the clothes must be put away. All three big kids are very good at knowing how to put clothes away. They are in charge of putting everything away that goes in dressers and I hang all the clothes in the closet. Aubrey did tell me one day after multiple trips to put clothes away that she was going to get rid of some of her clothes because she was tired of doing laundry and I totally understood how she felt. If I end up doing clothes in the evening I will put all the folded kid clothes in a basket and leave it next to the stairs so that it goes upstairs first thing in the morning. By keeping up on the clothes coming out of the dryer I feel I can keep up and am not always surrounded by baskets of clean clothes waiting to be put away. Thankfully I don't mind folding clothes, it is the putting away I hate. Now ironing is a whole different story. I actually have clothes form this summer waiting to be ironed. I have learned to try and not buy the kids clothes that I know will need to be ironed after coming out of the dryer and all of Paul's clothes go to the dry cleaner and come back ironed.

One of my best Amazon purchases yet. This sits in our laundry room and the big kids all know how to separate clothes into 3 piles; red's, dark's and white's. When a bag gets full it means it is a full load and I am willing to wash it. We have tried really hard to cut down on the number of half loads we do. I plan to replace the hamper in boy/big girls closet with one of these too so I can easily grab a certain color when I am doing laundry. This will cut down time on having to sort before starting the wash. 




How do you buy kids clothes?
When we were new parents to our twin girls I bought everything new and at Gymboree. There was no way I was going to buy anything second hand. Then we had Drew and money got tight so I started shopping at used kid stores and realized how much money I was saving. Now don't get me wrong I still was a brand name snob and would seldom buy something that wasn't from the more expensive children stores. It wasn't because I had anything against stores like Walmart or Target but because the higher end clothes last so much longer. I got so tired of spending money on clothes that although they were cheaper to buy they hardlly lasted a month because of balling or shrinking with drying. I had no problem buying second hand  but I still wanted my kids to dress cute. Now with 7 kids my heart jumps a beat when someone gifts us with hand me downs. The babies actually usually only get new clothes on special occasions because we have been gifted a fair amount of hand me downs from another mom of quads and a mom of triplets. I know as the quads get older the hand me downs will stop but I am so thankful for the money we were able to save by the generosity of others.
For the big kids I do still try and buy clothes form places like The Children's Place, Gymboree or my favorite-Crazy 8. Again I buy at these places because anything that is not stained when the big kids grow out of it gets saved for the babies. I feel spending a little bit more now will save money later on when the quads can wear their siblings hand me downs.
When I buy clothes new I always watch for sales and if buying online I seldom pay for shipping. I can't remember the last time I bought clothes for the kids when it wasn't on sale. Carter's has great sales and for example at Christmas time I spent about $60 and got 10 pairs of jammies shipped. Crazy 8, everything always goes on sale a couple of weeks after it arrives in the store. Christmas attire for 5  kids cost me $100 there this year. Even Macy's has amazing sales on kids clothes if you watch for it. When I buy clothes I often will buy a size bigger than what they are currently wearing so that we can get two seasons out of it. This does not work for the babies right now because they grow so quickly but for the big kids this works perfect. The girls are actually on the 3rd winter of their jammies. Yes they are now capris but they could care less. For shoes I do not buy at Target unless they are dress shoes they will only wear once. Again cheaper shoes do not last and boy do they get smelly. I try and buy at the half yearly sale at Nordstroms and then I buy a fair amount at Famous Footwear because they have their BOGO 50% off literally every other week.   
I love buying my kids clothes, much to my husbands dismay, and there are days I wish I could get myself ready in their closet because I am awful at shopping for myself. But even with my love for shopping when I add up the cost of the clothes and then the time it takes to wash said clothes each week I wish we could just go naked.
The boys and big girls closet is one that actually is a walk through between the two rooms. It is great when I have to hang close because all 7 kids are in two closets.

How often or much you & hubby sleep vs are awake with the kids.
Paul needs way less sleep than I do and so he is the night owl in our house. He will stay up after tucking me in til usually 11-12. If he has to get up at 3:30/4 for work he will be in bed by 10. I usually try and go to bed between 10-10:30 because I need 7 hours of sleep to function. On work mornings I am up by 5:30 and on school mornings I need to be up no later than 6:40. Some days I will push it a couple of minutes but then we are rushed. On weekends when we have nowhere to be Paul and I will stay in bed until the babies are tired of being in their cribs which is around 7-7:30. We are going to Vegas soon sans kids and I can not wait to sleep in until 8 or later.  It will be magical!! Our sleep (really I mean my sleep when I say this) is usually interrupted once or twice a night by a crying kid but thankfully I am back in bed within 2 minutes. I have never had kids that wake for hours in the middle of the night and I am so thankful for that.

A lemon cookie after dinner. I love Rylan's expression after taking his first bite.

Products you couldn't live without.
Coffee. Shower. Lotion for after my shower (just feel in love with the St. Ives coconut lotion after another quad momma blogged about it). Makeup especially mascara otherwise I will be mistaken for being on my death bed. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Dishwasher with jet dry tablets. Spill proof sippy cups. My sippy cup (a double lined plastic cup with a straw). Tear free shampoo for the kids. Goat cheese. World's Best Glass cleaner (that is really the name of it!). Stain remover from Amway. White noise machine. Husband-does he classify as a product? Tank tops to help hid the lose skin from two multiple pregnancies. Bona cleaner for my floors. Oreck vacuum cleaner. Pony tail holders. OPI foot pumice. Sally Hansen cracked heal repair lotion.

This was a day when I loved this product. I "allowed" all of the babies to play on the trampoline so I could actually eat lunch. I am not sure if they were more upset that I had trapped them in or if they could see me eating and I was not sharing!

Your method for not forgetting things.
Luckily I have a photogenic memory and like my daughter I don't usually forget anything even if it is things I would rather forget. I use to never keep a calendar while in college or when I started working. I use to remember dates without a problem. Once I had kids I started keeping a small calendar in my purse and just last year I became a big girl and started using my phone calendar. I do try and write more things on our home calendar because Paul uses that one often. He gets frustrated when I tell him last minute we have something going on and it was not written down. The one thing I do have a very hard time with is names. For the life of me I can remember a name for an evening but the next day I will draw a complete blank if asked who someone was. I keep a pad of paper in our desk drawer so I can jot down names of our neighbors as we met them because I know I will forget them. After a couple times of talking with a person I will get their name but for some reason I struggle with it. 




What happens when you wing it?
I am not sure how to answer this question because honestly I feel like we are winging it everyday. But then we have our routine so maybe we are not winging it! I think for us winging it would be deciding last minute to go out to eat as a family and when this happens we have 3 older kids who are very happy. They all love going out to eat. Even when we do something like this life just carries on because Paul and I work together and try and make it the best we can. Winging it is toughest if it is past the quads bedtime. They do okay missing a nap here and there but if it is past 6:30 they fall apart. This is just not fun for any of us and I do not think it is fair to them. We try really hard to be home no later than 7pm so that the babies can get to bed close to their bedtime. It is a major pet peeve of mine to see parents out with their kids past 9pm. We will not even get me started on that topic today...maybe another day!

"Winging it" one night when mom did not want to cook.

The best/worse parts of the new house.

Best: The space for everyone to roam (4,000 sqft), having land for the kids to play on, not seeing neighbors out of our windows, big kitchen, big front porch and covered patio in the back, dormers in the upstairs rooms, master on the lower level, kids rooms all upstairs, toy room, large laundry room, outdoor shower, pool.

Worse: Lots of painting to do, bathrooms need to all be remodeled and updated, living space right off of kitchen is smaller than I would like, fireplace needs to be redone, need new flooring and when we do this we will add a sound barrier because we can hear everything going on upstairs from the downstairs, pool is a liner pool and we want to change it and use all the natural stone from our property, none of our cars fit in the garage, it doesn't have an automatic cleaning system(!).
The quads had wondered off and this is how I found them. My heart totally melted and then I went off running to grab the nearest camera before anyone moved.


Budgeting tips.

I kind of hit on this in previous questions regarding shopping for clothes and minimizing child care expenses. We do not buy organic. I did when it was just the twins and I would like to still be doing it but with the size of our family and the amount of food we go through I just can not afford to do it. Instead we cook healthy, eat out very little and have cut way back on processed foods. We also buy in bulk. Our main grocery store is Costco and it amazes me how fast we go through everything we buy. Very little goes to waste. We have also started making more things if we can. We now make our own peanut butter and am just about to make my first batch of homemade laundry soap. Paul just ordered a book off of Amazon, "Make the Bread, Buy the Butter". It goes through a ton of items that you can make cheaper at home and then it tells you the things you should just buy either because they are more expensive or require more time than it is worth to make it. We are excited to try making our own cheese-its! The Facebook sale sites have also been great for us. We are able to sell items we no longer use and I have also purchased a fair number of used items from these sites. We got a patio table that is still selling for $1500 and I got it for $400. Paul was even impressed with that deal.

We are not very good at budgeting by setting a set amount of money away for items such as groceries but we are really trying to watch what we spend because Paul is trying really hard to pay off all of our debt except our house as fast as we can. He was hoping to have it paid off by December 2014 but he just reconfigured everything and thinks we it should be gone at the end of the summer. He even gets notifications when I buy something on his phone. Not because he is controlling what I spend but because he keeps a spread sheet to know exactly where are money is going because paying off debt has become his mission. I am totally fine with it because it will feel amazing to have everything paid off except for our house. We will then be refinancing our house to a 15 year mortgage so that by age 50 we will be totally debt free. If you would have told me this was even possible three years ago I would have never believed you because I cried every night because I thought we would eventually lose our house. We had started ringing up credit card debt and we had no idea how to get ourselves out of the mess we had created for our family.

I think I can do this....

okay this is a lot tougher than it looks when you are a tank....

almost there....

made it!

The distribution of labor between members of the family -- adults and (older) kids.
I love this question because I am sure my kids are responsible for more things around the house than most kids are. It is not that we are drill sargents but it is just part of living in a house with lots of people. The big kids don't even know that half of the stuff they help with would be considered labor. They help a ton with the little kids but they love doing this and almost never complain. The things the big kids are responsible for are; hanging up or placing their jammies in the hamper each morning, Drew takes off his own pull-up and puts it in the garage where all diapers go, getting lunch boxes out of the fridge and putting in their ice packs, picking up toys and putting them where they actually go, getting babies in their high chairs, helping give plates to the babies, getting the babies their milk and referring who the milk goes to next and helping catch any sippy's before landing on the floor, removing all dishes from the table and bringing them to the sink, sorting laundry, making their own beds and also mom and dads when asked, pick out the babies clothes, putting away clean clothes. These are some of the things the kids do on an almost daily bases. We do not give allowances because I got tired of kids telling me I owed them money. We will occasionally throw in a monetary reward if they help us with something such as cleaning up a really messy toy room or something else we just really want done. A quarter can buy a fairly large attention span! Luckily our kids are pretty good about helping around the house. I have created some really good ocd children and this makes me proud. The other day Drew and I were making beer bread and I had asked him to pour the beer into the bowl. I went to grab something else and as I turned around I told him the can could go to the garage for recycling. His response was, 'I already did it mom.' 

Paul and I share a lot of tasks but he is definitely in charge of the outside and I am in charge of the inside. I do not cut grass. I do not fix things, even toys. That is daddy's job and one I will always pawn off to him. I am in charge of laundry. Making grocery lists. Wiping down the counters and the stove top. Cleaning if it needs to be done in between when our house cleaner comes. The biggest challenge I have as far as responsibilities between Paul and I is if we are both home for some reason the majority of the care regarding the children falls on me as far as schedule goes. I am the one that gets them dressed, gets lunch made, gets dinner made, says when it is nap time, says when kids can get up, says when baths should begin. If we are both busy doing something I am the one who needs to stop what I am doing when the kids wake up from naps. This has been a very frustrating issue in our house for a while and we are both working on it. There are days when I think taking over lawn duty would be really nice because I could go sit on the rider and ignore all kids needs because I wouldn't be able to hear them. I guess I should have thought that one through more!
We both clean up from meals. We both vacuum. We both mop. We both make our bed each day unless we give that tasks to the kids to keep them busy for five minutes. We both take the trash out but Paul does take it to the end of the driveway on Tuesday nights. We both fill up the cars with gas. Since we both spend a fair amount of time home alone with the kids we both are very good at the house keeping chores that one has to do to keep a house organized. We have had 11 years to figure out what our roles are. Before kids it was pretty much divided inside/outside. But as we have added kid after kid Paul has also had to take on other roles to help me out. It took some evenings of the silent treatment while I was folding load after load of laundry but eventually he started helping after he grew tired of not having a wife to talk to. Me also letting him know I was drowning was a key factor in having a husband that would see dinner thrown on the floor and have the initiative to grab the vacuum.
So for all of you who are struggling with your husbands not wanting to pitch in my first thing to ask is have you ever told him what you need help with? Also once they do help praise them like they just invented sliced bread. I remember when Paul first started helping me fold clothes. I called my mom while Paul was standing right there and at some point in my conversation with my mom I told her how helpful Paul had been and how happy it had made me. Guess who helped fold clothes again that night?
Pictures for Aunt Jenny of Isabella with her Christmas outfit.



About each kid room and who is where/roomies.
Before we moved we had the twins in one room, Drew had his own and the quads all shared. When we started thinking about how we would set up the kids rooms we originally were going to have all four upstairs rooms be kids rooms but I quickly decided I needed a toy room. I do not like having toys in rooms the kids sleep in. I feel bedrooms should be for relaxing and sleeping, not for playing. Paul and I do not even have a tv in our room because I just don't like us hanging out on our bed.  

Upstairs now has 3 kids room and the toy room. The baby girls have one room and it is huge. Their two cribs look so tiny in their room. They have a jack and jill bathroom that leads into the big girls room. They also have a large room that is sectioned into three area. One area they have their bunk bed which they have both chosen to sleep on. Natalie is on the bottom and Aubrey likes the top. They then have an area that is barricaded from the babies and that is where they have their desk and do lots of art. Painting is the only thing they are not allowed to do in their room. The third section in their room has a slanted ceiling so they don't do much over there but it does have a twin bed for guest and is a great area for slumber parties when they decide to camp out in sleeping bags. All 3 boys share the smallest room. I would have loved to have put the boys in one of the larger rooms but it was more important for me to have all four girls sharing the bathroom than to give the boys more space. Eventually we will be finishing off the area above our garage and that will become the playroom. Then as the boys get older they can separate if they want. 


How you keep the house clean. 
We stay on top of it and never let it get to far out of control. We pick up toys throughout the day except for in the toy room upstairs. That room gets picked up about once a week because I really don't care about it and it has a door that I can just close if it is bugging me. All clothes go right into hampers. The kids are pretty good about remembering this one but occasionally I do have to get on someone because they think the middle of their floor substitutes as a hamper. This would always be one of the girls because Drew is awesome at finding the hamper! Even Rylan is now in charge of taking all the babies clothes and putting it in the hamper each night. He is so proud of himself and even tries to throw in the clean pj's that are in the bathroom. We for the most part do dishes after every meal. I say mostly because I have come home unexpectedly from work mid afternoon and realized that Paul waits until the end of the day to do all the dishes from the day. This would drive me crazy...if my kitchen is a mess my entire house feels like it is falling apart. The days that our house cleaner comes are great because it makes me put away all the items that have stacked up during the week that needs to be filed away. I also am by no means a hoarder so I have no problem throwing things away. The girls know that if they want to keep a certain piece of art they better hang it up in their room on their bulletin board otherwise it will surely see the trash can. Now I do keep some of their special pieces so don't think I am an awful person, I just don't save everything. Making sure the house is picked up each night and the counters are clean is what helps keep the house organized. It literally takes 10-20 minutes each evening to pick up toys and put things away. I can see if you never did this how a house can become a disaster but I never lived that way before kids and they were not an excuse for me to start living in a disaster zone.
 
This is not how I recommend keeping a house clean. This was pure desperation after we had already had breakfast and they were already wondering around the kitchen at 8:30am looking for a snack.


So I am going to make this a 2 part blog post because I still have quite a few questions my twin mommies want answers to but I am sure you have become bored by this point. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have and I will add them to part 2, even if you are not a twin mom. I may not get it out until next week because I can assure you there will be no blog postings happening this weekend as Paul and I get to spend the entire weekend alone without kids and I know me sitting at the computer will not be at the top of our priority list. If you can also please say a little prayer of sanity for Grandma, Auntie & Uncle who will be watching all 7 kids. We hope it doesn't go too bad for them because otherwise we may never get a weekend alone again. I am sure a couple bottles of really nice wine will make everything go well!



  





8 comments:

  1. Small bits of content which are explained in details, helps me understand the topic, thank you!

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    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow.....God really does know to give what because they can handle it and you and Paul do an outstanding job! My oldest being 32 and youngest being 24 and one in between, I remember the cooking cleaning and laundry and I don't think I handled it as well as you'll do. But in the end, it was all handled and they have grown up and have families of their own now. So just remember to remember the small things and enjoy every minute you can.....which you do I know. Thank you so much for sharing! A friend in East Texas, Pam.

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  3. 7 kids and you can get them out of the door in 5 minutes? Wow! I take my hat off to you - we have 13 months old twins and with me and hubby it takes at least 10 minutes - perhaps we need more practice :)
    I can empathise with the child screaming from beyond a baby gate - I hate leaving one behind even for a second but I just can't carry two at once lol

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  4. Love that laundry hamper - we have two of them! And so glad you discovered St. Ives coconut lotion, it smells like fresh summer :)

    You and Paul are awesome and you're raising an amazing family! Can't wait to "meet" you in May!!

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  5. Are you all still thinking about having one more ?

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  6. Loved this post! Thanks for taking the time to write it. I am a Quad mom from Pennsylvania and get all my best ideas from the blogs I read. I don't know what I would do without them! I will be keeping a diaper bag in the van from now on.

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  7. I know you will probably say "we will just do it," but how on earth do you think you will negotiate getting homework and school projects done when all the kids are in school? I am the mom of 7 year old twins and if we don't keep up on it every night things get so crazy! You and Paul are AMAZING!

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  8. Thanks a lot.Your blog is really helps for everyone, who search clothes.

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