April 23, 2015

Adventures for 9

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

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

No idea who she gets her poses from? 

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

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

April 14, 2015

A New Trend

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

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

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

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

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

April 03, 2015

An Easter Tradition

Every year for as long as I can remember I have dyed Easter eggs. Even when we had no kids and were living the life of college students we still found enjoyment out of coloring eggs. Last year I was extremely grumpy when we partook in this Easter tradition, as in I don't remember anything else about Easter except for how grumpy I was during eggs! This year I vowed to find joy in it.

Go figure that we had to call this boy in from outside to come help. He is always outside except for when eating or sleeping.
Someone decided to play during nap instead of sleep which makes for a very unhappy little girl.
Goof balls
And I did!! My plan was to wait until the babies went to bed tonight and then Paul and I would do it with just the big kids like we did every other year but then I reminded myself that my babies are not babies anymore. They are 2.5 years old and deserve to be included. I was not crazy enough to try dying eggs alone with 7 kids so we did wait for dad to get home from work. Paul had found this awesome kit that you literally toss an egg into a bag with thicken, glittery dye and roll the egg around. It was perfect for the babies and we only lost one egg to the Tank when he squished his egg instead of rolling it. Though it is kind of cheating as far as I am concerned they were probably the coolest eggs we have ever done.

Please no comments....he only had a sip and he thinks he is the luckiest kid ever!

The big kids were supervised by dad and did the traditional 'dunk the eggs in the dye' method. The first thing we figured out was when using fresh chicken eggs, aka non-store bought white eggs, they do nothing spectacular when placed in orange or yellow dye. Those two colors were set to the side. The other thing we quickly realized is kids have a thing for finding reasons to dip their fingers into the coloring. All colors mixed together on skin become green. Thankfully they have a whole day for the green to disappear before mass on Sunday.

Please ignore the 'post gym, post painting, haven't showered all day which means no make-up' look.
Half done. The big kids have one more box of roll on dye to do tomorrow when the babies are sleeping. My ocd-ness couldn't handle 2 year olds with rollers of stainable dye.
All in all the task of completing eggs left me with a smile and a small skip to my step because we did it and ended with lots of 'thank you, that was fun' instead of tears and the phrase 'we will never do that again' running through my head. New Easter baskets arrived today (my most awesome quad mama Ashley made them!), the target run was completed for all the Easter bunny goodies and dad is out picking up the last baseball mitt after running all over town looking for a glove for a left hand thrower. Now we can focus as a family on the true meaning of Easter...the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

A sculpture which one of my bridesmaid's grandfather commissioned for his field in North Dakota. 

April 02, 2015

Happy 7th Birthday

I am not sure how you can be turning 7 today but the one thing I do know is that you both are so excited to be another year older. Aubrey,  I told you I was not ready for you to turn 7 because after that you would both be turning 20. You laughed at me and told me you would be 8 next. I don't feel you have been here long enough to be 7, yet at the same time you both are so much older than your actual age. I have loved watching you grow from being itty bitty babies to independent girls. You make your momma so proud of who you are becoming.

Aubrey Nicole- I am not sure where you get your teaching ability from but you are such an amazing little teacher. I love watching you patiently showing your brothers or sisters how to do something new or watching you play house as you are always the mom. I often ask 'what' when I hear someone say 'mom' to only be told they are talking to their other mom who is you. Even though you tell me you are only going to have 2 kids I can see you having a lot more whether they are your own children or the students you teach in class. You are our tender hearted child. You do not like getting yelled at and try to be so good, most of the time. You have a love for animals and get angry when your brother kills any bug even if it is a centipede.  The minute I drop you off at school you are running to say hi or give hugs to everyone. I think you know all the girls in the entire school. You have a passion for writing and nothing makes me smile more than seeing the notes you leave for mom and dad before you go to bed. You are one amazing girl and today at 2:54pm I will have been calling you mine for 7 whole years. Aubrey my wish for you this year is that you will continue to grow into the girl who loves fiercely, loves to act silly and will always know that you are so loved by God, your mom and your dad.

Tallie Ann- At 2:50pm you became my first born and have always let us know that you carry that title. I love you for your love for life, for your independence, for your willingness to always want to help me over anything else in the world except for maybe having snack. Natalie, thank you for loving me even when I fail as your mom. You have an unconditional love for me and I pray it continues forever. You love to talk and will talk to anyone. You also love to sing and for only being 7 you have an amazing voice. I often will ask you to sing a song because it simply amazes me how good you are. I would not be surprised if someday you follow in your momma's footsteps because you love anything medical and just like me you crave to know every detail about everything. I will never forget the time Aubrey was bleeding and didn't realize it until she had blood everywhere downstairs. You came running to tell me but at the same time you told me you would grab the band aids and then start cleaning up the blood. Never once where you grossed out at the cut Aubrey had or the blood that was literally covering the floors and cabinets. If you turn out not to be a nurse than my bet is on you being a lawyer. You will be able to argue any point put in front of you even if you are not right. I have a feeling you will always be my most challenging child to parent but I also think you will be the one to keep everyone in line. You are smart. You are not easily afraid of trying new things. You are willing to help anyone when they need help. I love you more than you can imagine Tallie and someday I do hope you give me those 20 grandkids that you keep telling me your going to have. 

Girls you two have a bond that I often look at and wonder if it is because of your personalities or is it because you have been together since the moment you were frozen in a straw? You have gone through everything in life together. You very seldom fight with each other. You never squirm away when one of you has the need to be close to the other. You are silly together, especially on the days you decide you want to be twins for the day. Most importantly you will always have each other and I think it is one of God's greatest blessings he has given you in life so far. 

Happy 7th Birthday Natalie & Aubrey. 
You are loved so incredibly much by your mom and dad.

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