June 21, 2014

Drew Bear

You my little man are so full of life and though you are only turning 4 today you seem so much older. It is not your attitude that makes you seem older or your smartness but instead I just can't wrap my finger around the fact that you have only been part of our family for 4 years. You are part of the big kids at home and you fit right into that category without a problem. In your world you are able to do everything your sisters do because you are part of them.


If I could, I would bottle you up and keep you at this age forever. You are not a baby anymore but you are not old enough to not want snuggles and tickles from your momma. I am fine with the concept of you staying 1,460 days old but unfortunetly you are not okay with this. You say you drink milk to be big like daddy. You can not wait to be dropped off at school next year with your sisters. You informed me the other day that you no longer needed a pull up at night because you will just use the potty. My little boy wants to grow up and I as your mom must let you.


You are the perfect middle child. You love having your big sisters to play with but you also love being the big brother to four younger silings. We will often hear 'good job honey' from you when one of your babies does something well and it makes me smile from ear to ear. Those younger brothers and sisters do tend to drive you crazy though when you are trying to race your cars or build a lego creation.


You are all boy and often a very loud one. Mowing the yard with dad is a favorite of yours. You can spend the entire day in your puddle jumpers out by the pool. Hot chocolate is your morning beverage of choice. You could not wait for soccer this summer and your parents did not exist during practice unless you were told to get a drink of water. You were all about the soccer ball and your coaches this year. Legos have become your passion and you seem to think mom and dad should be able to build them with you all day long. Any toy that is long and straight becomes a sword. If someone, who goes by the name of mom or dad, is lying on the ground it is your personal invitation to climb or jump on them. If they go by the name of Tate or Rylan the invite is for a round of wrestling. You do not like when a baby wins though! You try to boycot naps everyday but if you do fall asleep you are out for 2 hours. It takes you more than a minute to wake from a sleep. Your most requested food is spinach. You named a chicken 'Jack in the Box' but it changes daily on who Jack in the Box is. If we tell you we are going to do something it better be taking place in the next five minutes because otherwise you will make sure we do not forget about it. You insisted your training wheels needed to come off but after multiple attempts of riding you asked for them to be put back on. You never went through the terrible 2's and 3's were pretty darn awesome with you too.


Drew you stole my heart when you were born and 4 years later you still have it. I love the little boy you are becoming. This next year I will be sending you off to preschool and I know it is just the beginning of many send offs. All I have to say is there are some lucky people who will get to enjoy your mischvious smile, your full of life blue eyes, your love for anything boy and your never ending persistance. My wish for you this year is that you may enjoy one more year of the innocence of a child.


I love you Drew Bear and Happy 4th Birthday!


June 20, 2014

Time to do Something for Me

I have gone back and forth of whether or not to blog about this final stage of my pregnancies for the last month but have come to the conclusion that since I am pretty much an open book in regards to Paul's cancer, infertility, high risk pregnancies and everything else in my life I may as well share this journey too. Today I am having surgery. No nothing is wrong, except for what 2 multiple pregnancies and a pregnancy with a 9lb 6oz baby does to ones body. After today my kids will no longer get to play with my tummy and ask me if I have another baby in there because I am having a 'mommy makeover'.

A mommy makeover has been in the plan since after I had the twins. While I was pregnant with them my abdominal muscles separated, which is very common in multiple pregnancies or even pregnancies with big babies. I remember my ob telling me at my annual appointment when the twins were one that I could do sit ups all day but would never have a flat tummy again because of the abdominal separation. I was happy to know not to waste hour after hour on sit ups that would not benefit me and could even cause more damage to my core but it also made me sad to know that I would always have a tummy that fell forward with nothing to hold it in. The idea that someday I would need a tummy tuck started forming in my head with the main reason to repair those muscles. Fast forward a couple years and I find myself pregnant with quads. The idea of carrying 4 babies seemed impossible. Imagining what my body would look like after I gave birth was down right scary. I understand battle wounds from carrying your children and how women should be proud of them but it comes to a point when one needs to be happy with their body and sometimes it requires a plastic surgeon.

When the babies were 9 months old it was time for this mom to actually make an effort to get her body back. When my scrub pants were getting tight I knew I needed to do something and going to the store to buy the next size was not the answer. I also did not have time to go to the gym and I felt I was already running a marathon between making bottles, wrestling kids for diaper changes, giving daily baths and everything else we had to do to take care of 7 kids under the age of 5. So May 15, 2013 I started dieting to get rid of the baby weight for the last time ever. By doing this I got down to my pre-pregnancy weight and for the most part have been happy with the my weight but very much dislike the way my tummy has ended up.

I understand that I look pretty good for having 7 kids. I get that and I know I should be happy but the problem is I am not. It drives me crazy that I always have that little tummy that makes people wonder if I could possibly be pregnant with #8. I also have absolutely no core muscles. When I suck in my stomach I feel I am doing it but if you look at my stomach there is zero movement. Both of these things are due to the muscle separation. I can handle the stretch marks because I had 3 not so small pregnancies but the lose skin I am tired of. I am fine when I am standing but the minute I sit I am always pulling my pants up to hide the extra skin that I have. My mom says I can live without having a tummy tuck and my response is that I could but I don't have to. I am only 33 years old and hopefully have many decades yet to live. I do not want to have to look in the mirror everyday and be reminded that my body carried 7 children.

I am doing this mommy makeover for me but at the same time I am also doing it for my children and my husband. Getting up each day and not being happy with the way I look really takes a toll on my attitude about life. I get frustrated that I am always worried about my roll of skin when I sit on the floor to play with my kids. When we are playing on the floor I am unable to allow my kids to climb on my stomach because it physically hurts due to not having muscles to protect my stomach. In regards to my husband I no longer feel sexy in the bedroom and this is hard on a marriage. By having this tummy tuck I will feel better about myself which will allow me to be a step closer to being the best mom and wife that I can be.

I will happily share pictures of my recovery in an upcoming post but do not expect any updates for a couple of days. I do not trust myself with a blog log in/password and pain pills. You never know what I may decide to write about! It has taken a couple of weeks to not feel like I am being selfish in wanting something for me but now that the date of my surgery has arrived I am very excited and know that I need to do this for me.

The ever pregnant tummy. Pre-quad jeans but most do not fit because they are just too uncomfortable around the waist. (Love that you can see a leg of a little boy sound asleep in the background!)
The week I started my diet in May 2013 and then 5 months later. Happy with the end results but in the last picture to the right you can see how my stomach falls forward because of the separation. 
Stretched skin that will never go back without help.

June 13, 2014

I Lost My Daughter

it was probably for only 5 minutes but let me tell you it felt a lot longer, at least 15 minutes. But in those 5 minutes I learned 2 huge lessons. I will share them with you but first let me tell you how I did not win the mom of the year award. Drew's birthday is coming up next week and instead of doing birthday party's for the kids we have a family day doing something special. This year we decided to take the 3 older kids to a water park near us. The girls went three years ago and every summer since have been asking to go back. Two summers ago I was pregnant with 4 so there were no water park adventures and then last summer we were just plain busy with 4 one year olds. Paul and I knew the big kids would be ecstatic when they found out where we were going. Paul didn't realize I was planning on surprising them but instead used it to bribe them into taking a nap a couple days beforehand!

 We ended up meeting up with a friend of ours and his two kids. After a couple kid friendly rides the dads wanted to hit up a couple more exciting rides. I had no problem taking the 5 kids who range in age from 4-8 years. We first went and enjoyed the lazy river and it was great having 4 water safe kids who I know can swim well. Drew kept his puddle jumpers on the entire time we were at the water park which allowed me to relax since he would still drown if he fell in. After a spin around the river the kids decided they wanted to check out the 'baby' slides as they called them. In the 'baby' area there are a bunch of different slides which never have lines and even I have fun in this area. The slides are short but fast. I had told the kids they could play but they were NOT allowed to leave the kid area. Drew is still at an age where he wants me to be right with him so he and I stuck together while the 4 older kids hit slide after slide. As we were walking up the steps to one of the higher kid slides I could see Natalie and Aubrey down below me. They were looking from left to right and I could tell they were looking for me. Both Drew and I were yelling down for them but because of the rush of water around us they could not hear us. I saw Aubrey start climbing the steps for the slide Drew and I were on and I saw Natalie head over to the other kid area. I told Drew that as soon as we came down we had to grab Natalie. But once we were down I could not see Natalie in either of the kid areas. I quickly gathered up the other 4 kids and told them we needed to find Natalie. We walked to the other side of the kid zone thinking maybe she went over to the slides we started at first. Again no Natalie. The table with our stuff was on the other end of the kid area so we walked back to where we just were but the only thing at our table were our bags. At this point I was still calm but starting to get more nervous.

I never did get into a panicked state because I knew Natalie was water safe so I was not concerned that she had gone down a slide and was under water. I also knew that Natalie would never leave the park with anyone. We have gone over and over with our 3 older kids what to do if anyone ever tries to take you; kick as hard as you can and scream so everyone looks at you. I knew Natalie was looking for me just as I was looking for her. I knew she was scared and this is what bothered me the most. After checking all the steps up to the slides and the pools at the bottom of them I told the kids, who were following me around like little puppies not saying a word because they knew Natalie was missing, we needed to go to the lost kid area. I had no idea how else to find her. I was also frustrated because as I was looking for Natalie I was also searching desperately for Paul because I needed him but could not find him. Just as we were going over a bridge I see Natalie walking across it with another mom and a security guard. Her tear streaked face crumbled as she saw me. She ran into my arms and all she could get out was "hold me." There was no yelling because I was not mad at her, there was only relief because she was back with me. The mom told me she got worried when she saw her crying. I thanked her and from one mom to another she understood the gratitude I had for her being concerned when she saw my daughter's frightened face. Once Natalie had calmed down she explained to me that she had gone down a slide with Aubrey and when she got off of it they were looking for me. When she turned around Aubrey was gone and she got confused as to where she was suppose to go. At that point she started looking for me. After a little while she got scared and began crying. A mom came up to her and asked if she was lost and she said yes. I have never been so thankful that my daughter can be brought to tears easily. The mom brought her to a security guard who was bringing her back to where she knew we had been playing.

My toothless first born. Her sister helped with the knocking pulling of her two very loose teeth when they were playing kitty. What that entails I have no idea!
The hardest part of those 5 minutes was knowing my little girl was probably so scared. I can not imagine being six years old and having no clue how to find your mom. I was never worried that someone took her. Was I naive? I don't believe so. I truly knew we were both just trying to find each other. I held myself together until I crawled into bed that night. That is when the emotions and the look on Natalie's face when she saw me again kept playing over and over.

Now back to the two lessons I learned from losing my daughter at the water park:

1. Always have a meet up area in case someone gets lost.
We never had runners or kids that wonder off so I had never really had to think about this before. Drew literally panics if his hand is not either in mine or Paul's or on the stroller if we have the babies with us. A meet up area never even crossed my mind when we entered the park that morning. We did tell the kids they could not leave our side because there would be lots of people there. Once we found Natalie we all went back to our table and told the kids that if anyone got separated from us again to meet us at the table. We also had a meet up area at the wave pool in case someone got separated from us while in it. We would all meet at the life jacket stand if someone got loss in the waves. Having a place we would gather if we got separated gave me a little more comfort for the rest of the day. The fact that Natalie had no idea where to even go when she couldn't find me still bothers me even though this happened days ago.

2. Kids need to know who they should go to if they get lost.
Our kids are very friendly with anyone but at the same time we have talked to them about not speaking to strangers. I am sure Natalie had no idea who to even go to when she couldn't fine me. After finding Natalie we told all the kids if they got hurt or lost they could go to any of the lifeguards at the park and they would help them. As adults we know how to find help but I am sure to a child being in a sea of adults and not knowing a single one of them would be so very scary.

It makes me sad to say that I lost my daughter at the water park. Although it was brief, I hope it never happens again. Does it make me a bad mom? I don't believe so but I do know it gave me yet another lesson in motherhood. I remember when my dad lost my sister when she was young. My dad had my brother, sister and I at our store we owned in the mall. My mom had gone tanning for an upcoming vacation and my dad had to call her to tell her he could not find my sister. After security had been called my sister was found at the little carousel at the other end of the mall. She just wanted to ride the horse. It didn't damage my sister. I am pretty sure she has no recollection of the event but I am sure my mom and dad have never forgotten how they felt when they couldn't find their baby girl. Next time you go to a place with lots of people please have a meet up area for everyone in your family and also let your children know who can help them if they can not find you. It literally takes a turn of your head to lose sight of your child.

The bond these two have is one only a twin (or a quadruplet) can experience.

June 09, 2014

Kindergarten Graduation

I can say that I had a much harder time with the girls finishing Kindergarten than starting it. When they began way back in August I was so excited for them. They were ready for their next big adventure. The one thing I had to adjust to was having them away from me for an entire day but I managed and they flourished. As we found ourselves getting closer and closer to June I began struggling knowing that the girls' days in Kindergarten were coming to an end. One of the main reasons I was so sad is because I loved their teacher. When you think of a Kindergarten teacher they had exactly that. She had songs for everything, she had the most calm voice even when you knew inside she was not so 'cheery', she greeted the kids each day with a handshake and ended each day with a hug.

The natural light did not help our family picture but it is the only one I got the entire day.

 
This girl refuses to smile for me when I pull out my camera when she is in class.
Impossible to get 23 people to look in the same direction with all of us moms trying to capture the moment.

The kids were encouraged to do so many things by themselves. You know the things as parents that we know we should let our kids do but because of the mess we just do it ourselves or it is just so much faster if we, the parents, do it. In class they got to do all these things. They poured tea from real teapots with real china cups. They made pretzels and stone soup. They hatched chicks and raised salmon eggs into fish that could be released. They weeded the garden, made compost, planted seeds and kept them watered to then enjoy the fruits of their hard work.

The last week I just couldn't believe that our first year of primary school was done. I made sure I dragged all 7 kids into school each morning so I could watch the girls go into class a couple more times rather than using the much more convenient drive thru. I picked them up from their class at the completion of school because their is just nothing better than seeing two girls who get such a smile on their face when they see you waiting for them. I pray that as first graders they still come running with arms open wide because I am not ready to give that up yet. And I was so proud when we were picking out end of year gifts for their teachers that they were the ones who wanted to get the principal and the secretary (I have been trying to figure out what the right word to use is because secretary does not seem like the right word; maybe personal question answerer for new families would better suit her!) a gift too. My girls love their school. As soon as we get there I hardly have the door open and they are yelling 'hi' to someone. What always amazes me is this person could be a fellow kindergartner, a 5th grader, an 8th grader or even a teacher. It makes this mom proud to know her children learned the value of being friendly with anyone.




Packing school lunches I will not miss. I will not miss making sure I have uniforms washed. Being at the pool by 8 is much easier than being at school at the same time because all they need is teeth brushed, breakfast and a swim suit on. No socks. No hair done. No backpack. No items for share or letter of the day. No glasses. No lunches. We are all ready for a little less structure.

And in case I have made you think our summer vacation is rainbows and gums drops let me tell you first hand it is far from. Drew, the babies and I have had a routine for the last 9 months. Drew knows that after we drop the girls off at school he gets hot chocolate and I get coffee when we get home. We go for our walk and then the babies have quiet time. Drew watches the ipad while I get ready and then it is time to get the babies up so we can continue our day until school pickup. Our day is planned for the six of us. Now we are throwing in 2 more kids to our everyday routine and it takes us all time to adjust. We play hard in the summer which tends to give us cranky kids because they are tired. Take graduation day last Friday for example. The girls were so excited for their last day of school. They had a growing ceremony for all of the parents and then a party at an indoor play center. We all had a great time and then we came home. It got ugly super fast around here because the girls were coming down from the excitement they had been preparing for all week. The rest of the day did not get better. If you have ever read the book 'Alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day' you know the kind of day we had. If you haven't read the book I am sure the title can give you a pretty good picture of what kind of fun we were having. This will unfortunately not be the only day like this. Thankfully the days do always come to an end and we can start again the next day.



Even though I can not believe my little girls are going to be 1st graders in just a couple of months I know they are ready for it. Last August they recognized most of the abc's but not all of them. They could write their first name but not their last. They could probably count to 30. Now they are reading and writing. They can spell their last name along with all members of their family. They understand that they live in a city and also a state. They can count by 5's and 10's. It simply amazes me how much they learned in 9 months. I don't think I have learned that much new stuff in the last 5 years.


Auntie who is 3 months along with her own little munchkin. She decided to just have one at a time. Not sure why?!? None the less we are soooo excited!!

We are going to enjoy summer and I know by August (maybe even mid-July!) I will be oh so ready to take that first day of school picture once again and a new routine will be made as I send two 1st graders and a preschooler off to school. There will be three days a week when I only have 4 kiddos at home and as funny as it sounds that is a break for this mom!

Natalie and Aubrey, mommy is so very proud of who you each are becoming. You are friendly. You put your best work into so many aspects of your day. You love your brothers and sisters. You have no fear of getting up in front of a whole church and singing. You can be seen more minutes of a day with a smile on your face than not. Mom and Dad love you but so do so many other people. I enjoyed watching you be kindergartners and I know next year I will enjoy seeing you as first graders just as much. As you continue to learn who you are please remember mom and dad will always love you, God is always with and your siblings will always be your brothers and sisters.

August 2013- First Day of Kindergarten
June 2014- Last Day of Kindergarten

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