February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day & How WE do it-Part 2

This morning started out with all of us in red or pink. We were ready for that posed Valentine's Day picture and then life happened; a little girl spit out her first taste of chocolate milk all over her pink dress, another baby girl had a leak from her diaper when she got up from her nap, a school age girl changed out of her red dress before eating her lunch of tomato soup and a 3 year old changed for gymnastics and never found the Valentine Day spirit again. So we do not have a picture perfect Valentine to share with you all. Instead you get lots of pictures from an afternoon adventure with a slough of mixed match clothes, candied faces and hair that had been slept on. After naps I did not want to be stuck in the house with all 7 kids because it was beautiful out so I thought we would go play on the front porch. This lasted less than 30 seconds because the babies wanted nothing to do with the porch and started down the steps immediately. I decided quickly that clothes can be washed and I would see how well I could manage 7 kids going in 7 different directions. Some of you will say I didn't manage very well when you see all the rocks & mulch in the mouths, kids climbing in holes & up trees and babies running away but I can tell you they all had a blast. The clothes are now in the washer and I got some fun pictures of the front yard exploration had by all.

I thought you would enjoy more than just pictures just in case you do not find my kids as insanely cute as I do. I continued with the questions from the How WE do it post to give you something to read in between all of the cuteness and dirt. 

And the first one is off the steps and it did not take long for the others to follow.




How do you cultivate your relationship with your husband and friends?

Somehow, and don't ask me how, but mine and Paul's relationship has grown and become so much stronger since we had the quads. I think a big part of this is that we had a lot on our plate and the only way we could accomplish taking care of our family and stay sane was to work as a team. We also have had to have good communication because without it our kids would never get to an appointment on the right day, double doses of Motrin would be given or you would find Paul and I both frustrated at the other person. So how are we keeping a relationship going now that the babies are 18 months? I think the biggest thing is being each others best friend. This may sound odd to some but I think we have become better friends over the last 2 years and things like romance took a seat in the back just because we simply did not have time or were too dang tired to add in any kind of activity at the end of our day. By becoming friends again we realized what made us fall in love with each other in the first place 16 years ago.

We also now spend more time going out as just the two of us than we have since we started having kids almost 6 years ago. We really do try and go out at least once a week. This last week we got a babysitter for three hours and spent those hours getting groceries. Maybe not the most exciting date but we had fun and it was time out of the house. I do find it funny that our dates have gone from make out sessions in Paul's parents basement to shopping at Wal-mart but oh well I will take a date night whenever I can get them.

We also have been better about allowing each other to get out of the house alone. Going to work does not count as 'me' time but running errands without kids does. Even having an hour away can make us appreciate each other more and we will usually have a smile on our face when we get home.

My relationships with my friends is a tough one for me to answer. Truthfully I have lost a lot of the friendships I had prior to having the babies. I think this is for a number of reasons. 1) the first year I basically did not have a lot of time to put effort into friendships. I barely had time to pee let alone get out of the house for an hour to have coffee. Even catching up on the phone was tough to do. 2) very few of my friends have as many kids as I do which I think at times can be intimidating unfortunately to other moms. 3) we were on lock down last winter which I feel scared people from visiting us 4) when I do get to go out I like to spend that time with Paul. I feel guilty if I go out with girlfriends because I feel I should be home with the kids or have Paul along 4) we moved 25 minutes from where we use to live so it is not as easy to go out for a mom's night because I spend an hour of the evening driving.

Some days I can get really sad thinking about the friendships that have disappeared since having the babies but then again I know this phase will be gone all too soon. The kids will eventually all be in school and having a lunch date will be so much easier. I also plan to join MOPs after the RSV season is done this year and I am excited to meet other moms with kids. I do sometimes get that nagging feeling that I am the reason I don't have many friends but I try to let that one pass quickly because that can be a downer in any one's day!
  





What you've done to build a community of support?

Our biggest community support prior to moving was our church parish. They were a huge support for us when the babies were born and truly blessed us with diapers that lasted their full first year. Unfortunately since we moved we have not been back to mass there. We moved in September and then a couple weeks later RSV and flu came into play and since they were preemies we have tried to avoid places with large crowds to keep them as healthy as we can for their second winter season. We do hope to go back and visit soon though because we miss seeing everyone and we know so many of the parishioners would love to see the quads. We do love the new parish we are in and the priest here always points us out whenever we bring the whole gang.

We have not relied on the community as far as helping with the kids. We have not had helpers since bringing the babies home and that was a decision Paul and I made for our family. Having people in my home would have added more craziness to my already crazy days. Once we had a routine down we were good to go. Now I don't even know what I would do if we had people helping us. I feel bad enough sitting in the hot tub with Drew while our house cleaner cleans our house.



He seriously has the most contagious laugh. I wish I could attach it to this picture because you couldn't help but smile if you could hear the belly laughs from this boy.

 How do you plan on schooling them?

Currently the girls attend a catholic school that goes up to grade 8. As long as we continue living where we do our children will keep attending it. We love the education the girls are getting. The principal is a year younger than Paul and I and is really doing great things for the school. And we love the fact the kids are getting a faith based education. They do not get the fear of God put in them but instead know that God is a part of their everyday life.

Drew will begin preschool at the same school the girls go to next year and he is so excited. Whenever he sees 'his' school he reminds us he will be going there next year. He will attend the preschool for 2 years and then start Kindergarten. We did 2 years of preschool with the girls and will do the same with Drew. It is the quads we are unsure of what their preschool years will look like. If we send them to the preschool at the catholic school we are looking at a tuition of over $1200 a month just for the four of them. This does not include what it will cost to have the older kids in the school too. It may be cheaper for us to have a retired preschool teacher come into our home a couple times a week. We do know that no matter what they will get at least a year of preschool before starting Kindergarten we are just not sure where it will be. We hope to be able to have them do 2 years also but 1 year may be all we can afford.

At one time we had talked about homeschooling but for now it is on the back burner. I do not think I can be a mom who works and home schools while being a good wife all in one. We love the school the girls are in so as long as we don't move they will continue to attend private schooling but we always know that homeschooling is an option for our family that we are not opposed to.





How often do you get out and have 'me' time and what do you like to do when you have it?
 

I probably realistically get 'me' time only every couple of weeks. Paul gets more of it because he is the one who likes to go run errands. I would rather stay home with the kids than deal with going from one store to another. Online shopping is more my style these days. I do fairly well with minimal 'me' time but when the moment happens that I need out it usually sneaks up on me and I needed out like the day before. I feel guilty sometimes asking Paul for time away from the home and I always enjoy my time more if Paul is the one to suggest it. Usually I choose to go out for a pedicure. I have always enjoyed having my toes done and enjoy it even more now. I will pick up a coffee and bring my kindle and just soak in the pampering. I also started seeing an acupuncturist in the fall which means an hour out. Not that needles in my back is the most relaxing but those thirty minutes that the needles are in place allows me to just think my own thoughts while listening to the sound of waves crashing. I have learned to schedule my appointments in the evening so I can just come home and relax afterwards. The other thing I find relaxing and count as 'me' time is writing on this blog. It's time for me to write whatever I want and often put words to the emotions I am going through those particular days or weeks.


Talk about a major fit. I tried getting him to come on the grass and he did not want anything to do with it. He played the entire time on the sidewalk and the front steps.


How do you manage activities and scheduling?

So far this is not too big of an issue for us because the girls still enjoy doing the same activities. We also limit the amount of things are kids get to do. This past summer Aubrey did swimming and if mom or dad were working all 6 kiddos got to come along and watch the 45 minute practice. We are fortunate the big kids are very good at staying near us. We do not have wanderers so watching 6 kids at once by our self is not too big of an issue. Usually the babies are good at staying in their stroller but if they do get restless and want out the big kids are very helpful in watching the babies. Snacks also are key in keeping kids entertained for long periods.

Currently the girls are in church choir with practice on Wednesday. Both Paul and I must be home for the girls to attend because their practice is from 5:30-6:15. This is bath time and bedtime for the babies and it is just not fun to change this just for choir practice. The girls are just learning to read so most of the songs they just lip sing or hum so I am not worried if they miss a practice every now and then. The girls and Drew are also in gymnastics but they attend on different days. If only one parent is home we are able to take the babies easily because neither practice interferes with nap time. For the summer we will add in swim team for the girls but we are going to do another season of non-competitive because we are not ready for meets every Saturday. Next summer the quads will be 3 and we will be able to bring them to meets and allow them to run around while we watch the girls swim. We are undecided if we will keep the girls in gymnastics too while participating in swim team. The babies and Drew will be in swim lessons and we will have all 5 of them scheduled for one block of time.

I think having 7 kids close in age will be easier for us than parents who have many kids of all different ages. Hopefully a couple of them will enjoy the same activities and with their ages so close there is a good possibility of them being on the same team. I do not plan to raise Olympic or pro athletes so I have no problem limiting the number of activities each child does. Our only thing is they DO have to find some activity they will participate in to take up free time whether it is sports, theater, debate or other club activities. Video games, computer time and other 'lock up in your room and never come out activities' do not count for us. Our hope is if they find an interest in something they will have a better chance of staying out of trouble.




And there sits my cup of coffee I had brought out to drink while I watched the kids play on the front porch. Guess the joke was on me.




How you find time for each of your kids with reading, snuggles, etc.

We do not have a set time that we only spend with one child. It kind of just occurs randomly throughout the day and it also does not mean we are in a room with only one child. There are usually a couple other kids but are attention is focused on a single child. It may only be for a minute or maybe ten but a single child has our undivided attention. I will even let another child know that they need to wait a minute because mommy is with a specific child. Our kids will usually let us know they need a little extra loving by simply crawling in our lap. We love on them, tickle them, squeeze them and then they have usually had enough and they are off and two seconds later another kiddo has decided it is there turn. Even 5 year olds show this need by climbing on us like we are a jungle gym. We will also notice the girls are in need of some extra 1:1 time by their attitude. If we notice lots of crying or melting down then some sitting down and cuddling is in order.

The big kids do get more alone time with mom and dad than the babies do. Drew loves his time on school days when the babies go down for nap. He is often asking as soon as we are done with drop off if it is time for the babies nap. He loves being outside with dad but is happy to help mom in the house. He even loves working out with mom. Most afternoons before school pickup mom/dad will sneak in an hour of snuggles with Drew when he lays down for a nap. Let me tell you that boy is the best nap cuddler. The girls have grown very fond of 'homework dates' with mom. They pretty much ask for one whenever I come alone to pick them up. These dates involve a Starbucks, coffee for mommy, a vanilla milk for Aubrey and a chocolate milk for Natalie. We then finish usually the weeks worth of homework while we sip our drinks. They enjoy it and I love spending the time with just the two of them. When the three of us hang out I hear so much more of their day than what I normally would hear on the ride home. The dates may add up in cost but they are well worth the time I get with my oldest two. We also always bring Drew home a little treat which he never complains about. Natalie has started to keep a pencil in her backpack so she is always prepared for these dates.

We also almost never leave the house for a quick errand without someone with us. Sometimes we pick the kid that gets to go and other times they themselves pick who needs daddy or mommy time. I did learn a valuable lesson a couple weeks ago when I sent Drew with daddy to fix the fence at our rental property. The girls bickered non-stop and it was driving me crazy. I thought them having some mom time would be good but what I should have done was split the girls up because they are together all week long in school. It would  have been much more peaceful if I would have sent one of the girls with dad which would have allowed Drew to play with the other girl who he doesn't see a whole lot of during the week.
I know it will become even harder to give each child time alone with mom or dad as the quads get older but I don't stress. I believe there are days when a specific child needs mom or dad more and on those days you try to give a little extra time with that child. The next day it may be a different child that needs that extra loving. It is a one day at a time situation and the way we give this individualized attention will evolve as the kids get older and their needs change.

Love seeing all these little pockets of flowers blooming in our yard. So much work to be done during the next couple of months to get our front yard how we want it but I know in the end it will be a place for the kids to play for hours on end.

These 2 are trouble!





How do you stay focused on the kids without thinking of all the other stuff you have to do?

Simple answer...I don't! I am a great multitasker so while I am helping one kid with homework I am also helping the other girl with her homework. At the same time I am getting Drew's online preschool programed logged onto for him, putting water on the stove to boil for dinner, holding a baby on my hip while sneaking them bites of vegetables I have cut up for dinner and checking the green notification light on my phone.
In the evenings when we are doing word cards Paul and I will each take a girl and Drew will sit on our lap. While the girls are reviewing their words they will ask Drew what color the words are on the card to test his color recognition.

While spending a couple minutes snuggling with just one child I will take them to the sink and cut their nails. Snuggles and 80 nails cut all in one.

When I am sitting on the floor or jumping on the trampoline I am thinking about what I need to do next; fix lunch, sweep the floor, change diapers, lie kids down, grab Tate & Isabella's pacifiers that ended up downstairs, let kids crawl up the stairs and while watching the slow moving train notice the steps are dirty and will add washing steps to my to do list....

Is this me not focusing on the kids? No because they for the most part have no idea I am multi tasking. Yes at times I may have to tell my kids they need to wait a minute or wait their turn but that is life. We don't all get everything we want when we want it. There will come a day when we all will have to stop for a red light, they can't be green all the time.

That being said there is one area in my life I am trying so hard to be more focused on my children than I have been in the past and it deals with my cell phone. Starting when I was on bed rest I became addicted to Facebook. Often it was the only communication besides my family I would have for days. It still is many a days. Anytime the kids were playing I would be checking for new updates. I don't want to be the mom who was too busy with my phone and miss an opportunity to be present for my kids. The last couple of weeks my phone still sits on the kitchen counter, because I do want it available because I take a fair amount of pictures with it and it is the only thing I use for videoing the kids, but I do not log onto facebook unless all the kids are napping or down for the night. I will chat with a group of about 8 quad mommas through instant messenger and I do not feel bad for staying in contact with them throughout the day. It is the closest group of friends who 'get' what I am going through. We need each other throughout the day to work through schedule conflicts, share new ideas or ask if it is too early to open a bottle of wine. This no phone thing is a work in progress but I know I need it and my kids deserve it. 




LOVE




How do you keep patience?

Somehow I have been able to gain a really high level of something since giving birth to the quads. Not sure if you would call it patience or more 'not letting things ruffle my feathers'. Don't get me wrong I do loose it, I am a mom after all but I think I have realized not to sweat the small stuff. The times I do loose it are when the girls are taking forever to get ready in the morning, someone is not listening to me and I have had to repeat my self over and over (this is the biggest area I loose my patience), running late, bickering between the older kids when are all stuck in the car, using outside voices inside, singing at the dinner table and not staying seated during meals. Messes happen and can be picked up. A child will help clean up a mess or spill if they made it but it is not the end of the world. Toys will get broken and books will be ripped, no reason to cry, they get tossed because we have other things we can play with. Kids climbing up on things they shouldn't, I don't go running to get them down. They will experience and hopefully it will only take one fall for them to figure out we don't climb up on the table. Stains in shirts will never end and if I can't get them out they find the trash. I am not sure if we have had an increase in our patience level or if we have just learned to roll with the flow of things. Kids will be kids and we need to let them be at times which also includes them figuring out that most things have a cause and effect; you destroy the toy room, you will pick up the toy room even if you tell me how unfair it is the whole time.

Amber, a fellow quad mom, asked me how I have zero wine ever?  My response was probably because I have no idea how much better I would feel after a glass! Some days are awesome and I know we could handle a couple more kiddos then other days I am so glad 7pm always rolls around so we can start over. Not every day is one to put in the memory book and that is okay, we are human and I can guarantee my kids don't recall the bad days even the day after we had them.





Back and forth, Back and forth the entire time.

How do you get out the door?

Open it and go! Before quads I would always make sure to kiss and hug all three kids before I left the door. I wanted to make sure if I never returned home that I had sad goodbye before I left. Now with 7 kids I do not do this. Why? Because I would never get out the door if I had to find all 7 kids before leaving. I also don't want to miss a kid and have them screaming at the door because mom forgot to kiss them goodbye. All parents know what I am talking about. I say goodbye to those who are close to the door. Tell them to be good for daddy and I will be home soon. And then I leave. We have taught the kids to not come running out of the house if mom or dad are leaving because Paul and I both fear running over one of the kids. If they forgot to tell us something they can come out to the steps in our garage (we do not park in the garage because none of our cars fit) but they can not go any further. If we are already pulling away they can call us or wait til we get home. For the most part our kids could care less when Paul or I leave because the other parent is almost always home.








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?

To be honest I have no idea. I think it will all depend on how the kids are with school work. Natalie and Aubrey love doing their homework. They have no problem sitting down when they get home and doing there assignments. They often ask if they can work ahead. I hope this will continue in the years to come. I was one of those kids who loved doing their work too and never waited until the last minute to do it.

Also if we keep the kids in the same school they are in now they will always be in the same class together. Each grade only has one class so the twins will always be together and same with the quads. So even with 7 kids we will only have 3 different assignments to complete each night. All the kids will have their own leaning needs, strengths and weakness but even with the twins they help each other out in areas where the other one struggles. So each school year we will figure out what works best. If group work is the way to do it for some we will all work together. If someone works better in a quiet space by themselves we will find an area which is conducive for that child to learn. Not everyone learns the same. Take Paul and I, I learn best by doing something hands on where Paul can read a book and totally understand what he has just read. Each child even if they have a sibling their own age will have their own needs and we will hopefully do our best to meet each child's needs.

"Mom I am done. Let's go in."

Everyone but me stripped before entering.






Are you all still thinking about having one more?

Me: Yes I would have another one in a heartbeat. Paul: Not so much!

I regret getting my tubes tied but they are and we will not have a reversal or go through ivf again so we are done having biological children. Adoption is still something Paul and I both feel we are called to do and have not said no to yet. Paul wants to wait until the twins are around 9 and so we will probably be doing some serious talking next year since the adoption process is not always a quick slam dunk. The girls talk about us adopting another baby frequently and they would like another sister so only time will tell if we will add to our family.


And with that we wish you all a very loved Valentine's Day.  

At the end of the day we did do a little birthday celebration for this momma who turned 33. I was lucky enough to have help with all 33 candles!


Wishing grandpa & grandma Lesnau a Happy Valentine's Day




 

1 comment:

  1. Hapoy Birthday! I meant to write on your Facebook wall all day and it just got away from me ! I love that you and my Amber are such good friends ! You two are the coolest Quad Moms i know! Your children are as blessed to have YOU as you are to have THEM ! You are pretty amazing .

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