Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Greetings

 

 

Wishing you and yours a Blessed Christmas

and

Best Wishes for a wonderful New Year!

 
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Playdates from HELL!

Folks, I need some help!

The last few playdates my 6 year old daughter has had have been quite hellish.  Now, I do not like to use that word, especially with children!  But, we clearly have some issues.  We always talk about the playdate in advance, plan snack or lunch and some activities to do. Her input is valued and she knows it.  We also talk about some toys that she might not want to share (American Girl Doll) and put those away.   I also try to schedule the playdates when the twins are at school so it is just her and her friend at the house.

She is going through a phase that my son did not go through.  She is bossy, she doesn't share.  She is mean to her friends. She is bratty.  I do not know where this creature is coming from!  We all schedule playdates to keep our kids occupied so we can get stuff done.  This has been backfiring on me with children coming in every 2 minutes complaining about something.  I am a big fan of working it out amongst yourself, but that just isn't working!  This morning I have spent more time as a referee then getting things done.

Any suggestions?  Eliminate playdates all together?


(Now I know with everything going on this may seem trivial.  I am so Blessed to have my children. But any suggestions would be appreciated!)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Honoring Noah Pozner

Noah Pozner was the youngest victim in Friday's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary.  Little Noah was six years old and a twin.  His twin sister was there that day in the school, in another classroom.

As a mom of boy/girl twins and a 6 year old, Noah's story especially pulls at my heart.  A twin group that I a part of is raising money to honour this sweet boy with a tree in Central Park, NY.

Please consider making a donation.  Every little bit helps. 

May God be with and Bless the families of Newton, Connecticut.

To make a donation for Noah's Tree, please visit:

http://fundly.com/honor-noah-pozner


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Thoughts & Prayers


Heartfelt prayers to the families of Newton, Connecticut.  
May God Bless them and be with them. 




Monday, November 26, 2012

Twiniversity

Twiniversity is a wonderful online community created by a mom of multiples for moms of multiples!

Be sure to check out my latest article, featured on their website on how you can extend the life of your holiday gift:

http://www.twiniversity.com/2012/extending-the-life-of-your-holiday-gift/


Happy Reading!

Joy to YOUR World!

One of the twins - Baby B on her first Christmas December 2009



Christmas will be here in 29 days!  I'm sure you have a list as long as Santa's with things to do, purchase, make and clean!  What are some of the things that you do for YOU during the Holiday Season?  Things that help you take a break from the "Christmas Crazies", things that help you enjoy the holiday a little more?  I like to listen to Holiday Music and drink Peppermint Mochas!

This year I am cutting back and delegating, I'm also saying NO, but nicely!  "I'm sorry, I cannot attend that Holiday Party and I'm sorry, I just can't volunteer in the classroom that day, but I was there at Halloween and will be there for the next one."  With four kids and three classrooms, plus activities we have a lot going on and it all seems to triple during the holiday times.  Letting go is very, very hard. But 30 years for now will it matter that in 2012 I was the mom that dropped off the cupcakes and sent the Santa plates in the backpack?  I don't think so!  (Well, I hope not!)

Some of the dishes that I normally make for Christmas Eve, I am now going to make for Christmas Day.  Hopefully this will help with the "too much food" that my family falls victim to each and every year and will make things a little easier for me in the kitchen.  I am also going to cutback on the amount of Christmas Cookies I make.  I am a decent cook, but not a very good baker.  This year, I am going to embrace my limitations and only make the cookies that my family members will eat. (Some years we had some cookies that they wouldn't even give to their dogs - and it wasn't because they contained chocolate!).  I am very good at making Italian Christmas Cookies.  That is something that the kids and I like to do each year.  So we will make those.  I am also very good at making candy and holiday treats (of the non-baking variety) like peppermint bark and chocolate covered pretzels.  We will stick to those!   My husband is picking up more of the "Santa" duties than normal.  I sent him an email with a list of specifics for each kids, quizzed him about a million times and am going to try to let it go.  So what if we missed out on that free shipping at American Girl Store, so what if one of the gifts the twins are getting for Christmas will completely ruin the idea I had for their birthday (it is in January!), so what if the kids cry on Christmas morning because one kid has more presents than another.  Easier said than done, that's what!

I've been spending a little more time than normal at Starbucks.  But that 10 minutes with a Tall Skinny No/Whip Peppermint Mocha is worth every penny!

Thanks for stopping by!  Please share some of your tips for conquring your holiday to do lists!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Puppy Chow

I know right now you are thinking about Turkey and Pumpkin Pie!  But this is a great recipe that the kids can make with adult supervision.  Great snack for Thanksgiving Day to keep the little ones occupied while you cook, or shop!  I found the original version on line and made some modifications.  I will give you both recipes!


  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 1/2 cups Chex or Crispix cereal
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar

Put chocolate chips and margarine in a microwave-safe bowl.

Microwave for 1 minute and stir until well blended.

Add vanilla and stir.

Put Chex cereal into a large bowl.

Pour chocolate mix over the cereal and stir.

Once cereal is coated and after it is cooled, pour cereal and powdered sugar in a bag, seal bag, and shake.


Now, I follow the above recipe, except I will use 1/2 Chex and 1/2 Cinnamon Toast Crunch for the cereal part.  When it is finished sometimes we will add in mini marshmallows, raisins or m&m's!

Enjoy!

Wishing you and yours and wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Big Easy

On Monday, my husband and I returned from a long weekend in New Orleans.  We were there to celebrate our 10th Wedding Anniversary.  While there we met up with good friends from Texas and a good time was definitely had by all!  This was my first visit to New Orleans and the first time my husband and I left all four of our kids.  My sister came in from the Left Coast to watch the kids and they had a great time with their Auntie and were in excellent hands. 

New Orleans is a little gem of a city and I was very surprised by the laid back attitude, excellent food and culture.  Our theme of the weekend was most definitely, "Too Much Food!"

If you are planning a trip to the City, here is my Top Ten list of must do and see:

10. Bourbon Street - You cannot visit the city and not go here. Good to experience both during the day and at night. Two different experiences!

9. NOMA - New Orleans Museum of Art in City Park.  Hidden Gem with a very nice permanent collection.  While there we met a wonderful docent who was definitely a true Southern Belle!

8. Cafe Beignet on Royal Street - excellent spot for Beignets without the lines of Cafe DuMond

7. Davenport Lounge - located at the Ritz.  We went to see Mr. James Davenport himself.  Excellent!

6. Coquette - fantastic neighborhood restaurant in the Garden District.  Hidden Gem favored by locals.  Excellent seasonal food and fantastic prices!

5. Jackson Square - great spot to sit on a bench and people watch or walk around (with a cocktail!) and check out the local artists.  I found some adorable paintings for the twins' room~

4. Stanley's - Fantastic Restaurant off of Jackson Square - famous for the Eggs Benedict.  Delicious! 

3. French Market - Open air market.  Great prices!  Go to the Banana Cafe for a Bloody Mary - best one in the city!

2. John Besh - this guy is New Orleans!  We went to two of his restaurants: August and Luke.  I thought Luke's was fantastic!

1. Cochon/Butcher - My favorite thing in New Orleans is a tie!  These are two of the best restaurants I have ever eaten at.  Cochon is Cajun Southern Cooking and Butcher is the most amazing sandwich shop.  EVER.  They make all of their own meats and you can taste the difference!  At Cochon I had a Cajun spin on a BLT  - with Oysters!  I was also adventurous and tried some new things.  I must say, I do owe the Chef Donald Link an apology.  While preparing for the trip, my husband was very excited about going to this place.  After I took a look at the menu I really was a little disgusted and figured that I would only be eating a side of grits or greens when I went.  Boy, was I wrong!  My apologies Chef.  Please open up a location in DC!!


Thanks for stopping by.  More to come later this week on our trip, including some pics!


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Anxiety Attack!

In 48 hours, I will be in the Big Easy!  Hopefully sitting somewhere in the French Quarter sipping a world famous cocktail.

My husband and I are going away for a long weekend sans kids to celebrate our 10th Wedding Anniversary.  Ten years is a really, really long time!  This is the first time we are going away without all four kids.  I am very anxious.  Yes, I know the kids will be fine and that they are excited that their Aunt is coming to watch them.  Yes, I know that my sister has a brain and will be able to figure out the little things that I am worrying about (like where the rain coats are, will my son be warm enough at the bus stop, will dinner be made on time, will their library books and snacks get packed in their back packs, etc, etc.).  I am up to 9 typed pages of instructions for my sister.  I know and she knows that I have everything covered! I also know that this will be a really great experience - for my husband and I, for my kids and for my sister.  So, the million dollar question is.....why can't I relax about it?  As my one friend would say, I've got agita!


Hope you have a great day!  Go Vote!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Giving Back


 
There is a little girl named Victoria who is getting ready to celebrate a birthday.  She lives at the Jersey Shore, in the small beachfront community of Union Beach. A community that was devastated by Hurricane Sandy.  This is a community that I once called home.  I remember as a little girl preparing for hurricanes and helping my sister put X's in tape on the windows.  This is a community that has never experienced destruction like this.  This special little girl is turning 9 on November 18th.  Her birthday wish this year is not for a new bike, or wii game, doll or toy.  She has a wish for her best friend Dakota.  Dakota also lives in this same town.  Not too far from his friend, Victoria.  Dakota is 8 and lives in this town with his mom, his 5 year old sister and his 12 year old brother.  You see, Dakota's family lost everything in Sandy, and I mean everything.  They lost their house and all their possessions.  This special little girl wants to make things right for Dakota and his family.  Her birthday wish is for her friend to have some normalcy.  To have food, shelter and warmth.  This soon to be 9 year old is making it her life's mission to collect anything and everything for her friend's family: clothing, blankets, food, dishes, utensils, etc.  Take a minute and think about the things in your home.  The things that you use everyday.  Now imagine them all gone.  That favorite family picture sitting on the fireplace, your daughter's favorite stuffed animal, the coffee mug your son made you.  Gone. All gone in an instant.  Now, I'm sure you are saying that these items are just things, but to a family, to a child, they are treasures, they are memories.  In addition to their treasures, they lost items that everyone takes for granted: blankets, coats, furniture, food, etc.

How can we help?  If you are local to the community, the family is accepting donations.  If you have clothes, winter coats or household goods that is fantastic.  If you are not local, but can send a store gift card (Walmart, Kohls, Target, Kmart) that would be fantastic.  If you would like to make a monetary donation and send $5 or $10 or $15 that is fantastic too. Please make checks payable to: C.Torres.   Please mail gift cards and/or monetary donations to:

American Gateway
PO Box 286
Colts Neck, NJ 07722

attn: Victoria

If you have items to donate to the family, please post a comment below or send an email to me at katecker@gmail.com and I will put you in touch.

Please include Dakota's family in your prayers. Every little bit helps.  Every little bit makes a difference.  This is the first time I have ever posted any sort of request like this on my blog.  I would like you to know that I was not asked to do this. Like all my posts, I am not being compensated. This is not a scam.  Any donations will be made directly to Dakota's family and go directly to Dakota's family.  I learned about Dakota's story from the birthday girl's mom, who is a family friend. A friend I have known my entire life. 

I was moved to tears by this story.  I was moved to give back.

This is what is left of Dakota's house on Brooke Avenue, in Union Beach



The Torres Kids.
This is Dakota (8) with his little sister Gabby (5) and big brother Jose (12)




Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Jersey Girl

I have lived in Virginia for close to twenty years, and don't often admit it, but I am a Jersey Girl.  Was born in Redbank, near the Jersey Shore and in high school we moved up North to Morris County.  Here in Northern Virginia my family survived Sandy with no damage.  We lost power for all of 5 minutes, if that.   Like you, we have been watching the storm coverage on the news and following friends' postings on Facebook.  My heart is breaking for NJ.  We have family and friends still without power.  We have friends who have lost their homes.  Boardwalks I went to as a child are gone.  Lost at sea.  The coast line of the Jersey Shore has been forever changed.  My thoughts and prayers are with New Jersey.  As always, Bruce says it best....

Tonight i'm gonna take that ride
Across the river to the jersey side
Take my baby to the carnival
And i'll take her on all the rides

`cause down the shore everything's all right
You and your baby on a saturday night
You know all my dreams come true
When i'm walking down the street with you

Monday, October 29, 2012

It's the end of the world as we know it.....

Remember that old REM song.  Seems like lately, things are feeling kind of like that.  But, unlike the song many people are not fine.

For my friends, family members and readers in the path of Hurricane Sandy.  I pray for your safety.  I do hope that you will stay put and not take any unnecessary risks.  I also hope that you have water and supplies needed to ride out the storm.   Here in Northern Virginia we are preparing for the worse scenarios but hoping for the best.  

Last week was a crazy week for me between kids, work and house and I didn't get as many posts in as I would have liked!  I have lots to share on how we celebrated my 6 year old's birthday last week (great party tips!).  I also have some new cook once, eat twice recipe creations.  I'm kind of hoping the power stays on and I can get all of these thoughts out of my head!  If you do have power and need to do some shopping, Old Navy has very adorable dresses on sale for $19!  I bought two yesterday!  Here is a 30% off code too: ONTRICK.  Happy shopping!

I would also like to take a minute and ask everyone to say a prayer for the Krim family.  Marina Krim is a fellow blogger and Mom.  They are living their own personal hell right now and their lives are forever changed.  Heaven received two angels last week and may Leo (age 3) and Lucia (age 6) Krim rest in peace.


Stay safe.  Stay dry.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Birthday Wishes

Our first Mommy & Me photo together!



My daughter came into the world six years ago today.  She was born at 1:51pm on October 23, 2006. Our lives were forever changed.  It has been such a privilege to be this little girl's mother.  She is beautiful, she is strong, she is confident. (she is also smart, considerate and talented, but I don't want to brag!).  I wish for her today, that not only she has a wonderful day today (which I know she will), but I wish that all of things she is now, continue as she grows older.  I wish for her to become stronger and more confident and take all of these wonderful attributes into her teenage years and adulthood. 

This morning I was thinking back, reminiscing on her birth and my pregnancy. My pregnancy with her was a difficult one.  I was on bed rest, I had to go on a regular basis to the perinatal unit at the hospital. I had a few scares that sent me to the hospital too - one time they could not locate the baby's heartbeat, another time I had unexplained bleeding.  I was very fortunate to have had a wonderful group of family, friends and neighbors who helped out with my son (who was a toddler) and offered constant support for our family.   My daughter arrived at 38 weeks and she was perfect!  She still is!

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!






Monday, October 22, 2012

Guess How Much I Love You

Yesterday morning one of the twins asked me the best question.  I still get a little teary eyed thinking of it.  We were cuddling in the big bed and my 3 1/2 year old son asked: "Mama, why do you love us so much?"  He then went on to list all of the names of his siblings and said, "you really love us all so, so, much."  Not only was this sweet and adorable and melted my heart, but it validates everything that I believe in as a mom, everything I do each day.  My children are loved, they feel loved and they know that they are loved.

What are some things that you do to show your children that you love them?  Do you leave notes or pictures in their lunch boxes? Does the room fairy come to visit while they are at school? (This is a great fairy that I need capture - she cleans my kids rooms "sometimes" while they are at school!)

Happy Monday - hope you have a great day and a great week.  Please be sure to check out the Multiples Monday posts at Capri+Three!

multiples monday with capri +3

http://www.multiples-mom.com/

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Walk away....

-Making Dinner
-Helping with homework
-Fixing snack for five kids
-Having phone call with vendor for upcoming work conference
-Packing lunch boxes for tomorrow
-Asking kids to keep it down
-Playing Referee
-Helping find lost toy
-Thinking through action items for upcoming work conference
-Thinking about getting glass of water, finding Tylenol and using bathroom
-Cleaning Up Kitchen

About 30 minutes ago I found myself trying to do all of these things AT ONCE.  Yes, at the same time. I got everything done except finding lost toy (it is a laser gun that is better off staying lost!), getting the kitchen finished, taking the Tylenol and using the bathroom.   I plan to do those next.....but I wanted to walk away and put things into perspective. Walking away helps me to re-focus and re-group.  Getting my ideas, thoughts and anxieties down on my blog helps me to do that, too.

Have I set a new record in multi tasking?  Am I taking multi tasking too far that I am now ineffective?  Most likely yes.  (Overall, not a bad ratio of accomplished vs. unaccomplished).  But, my head is killing me and I need to pee! I didn't get to finish the kitchen and I hate leaving dirty dishes in the sink and "stuff" all over the counters. It gives me great anxiety.  My kids will tell you yes, I am ineffective (maybe not using that exact words - they might say stink) - I couldn't find the lost toy and didn't put enough sauce in tonight's baked ziti.  At least my vendor will tell you no - she couldn't see what I was doing while on the phone.  She got the info she needed for the meeting and she is a mom, so she "gets it" as far as the noise in the background.  My kids teacher will most likely tell you no too - hopefully they will never show up on my doorstep - healthy lunch is packed for tomorrow and my daughter's homework is done neatly & correctly! 

How do you multi task?  Do you feel like you have too much on your plate?  Do you multi task or do you prioritize?   How do you escape and take a breather?  Does taking a breather work?  Do you walk away, do you go to your "happy place" in your head?

I need to go find that Tylenol!  Have a great night!  And, I just remembered I forgot to set the timer....now the kids will have dry and burnt ziti.  Just like my mom used to make!  (sorry mom!)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Crock Pot Creations

We recently purchased a new crock pot.  It is very nice!  Five Gallon and silver and black.  Looks so nice on my counter that I leave it out.  Also, we use it pretty much everyday!  I love the simplicity of one pot cooking.  I love how your house smells great (well hopefully it will!) when you come inside.  I love easy clean up!  (Be sure to always spray your crock pot with a nonstick cooking spray.  That makes clean up a breeze!  I know that they do make crock pot liners, we have had them before, but I would always forget to stick one in!)  I also love that it frees up my time after school with the kids.  I make a simple side dish to go with whatever is in the crock pot (salad or steamed vegetables) and dinner is done.  

When my husband first brought a crock pot home, it was before we had kids.  It was a gift or prize (I don't remember) he had won at work.  It was a small, (3 gallon) white crock pot and I remember thinking that is really ugly and I'm never going to use it. I'm sure I also made faces at it! Well, fast forward when we had our first son.  I dusted it off and found myself using it occasionally.  Fast forward again to when we had our twins and the crock pot was used at least once a week in our house.  We out grew out tiny little starter crock pot.  It was great and served us well, but when cooking for a family of six, I needed something bigger.  So, the new crock pot has arrived and has been used pretty much everyday.  My husband has been very adventurous.  Researching new recipes that the kids would like.  Last night he made some sort of Asian Chicken with orange sauce and while I wasn't crazy about it, the kids loved it.  I tend to stick to tried and true recipes.  Things I know that the kids will like.  My all time favorite thing to make in the crock pot is vegetable soup.  I also love making traditional "Yankee" Pot Roast complete with all the veggies.  Lately, I have been taking recipes that I would normally make in the oven, and converting to crock pot.  Last week I cooked a whole chicken the crock pot.  This was okay, I think I over cooked it.  (The meat was falling off the bones.) Today I am cooking a pork tenderloin.  

Do you have a crock pot?  What do you use it for?  What is your ultimate go to crock pot recipe?  Please share in the comments section.  Thanks for stopping by & have a great day!


Easy Vegetable Soup:

4 Cups Low Sodium Vegetable Juice (like V8)
1/2 cup water
1 c Chopped Celery
1 c Chopped Carrots
1/2 c Chopped Onions (I leave mine big so the kids can pick them out)
2 small Zucchini's chopped
Any leftover vegetables in your fridge! (great way to use vegetables - throw them in!  I have used green beans, spinach, cabbage, corn)
1 Bag of Frozen Mixed Vegetables - if you have no left over Vegetables
Pepper to taste
Vegetable Seasoning to taste

Cook on high in crock pot for 1 hour, turn to low and cook all day!  My kids have been know to have "thirds" of this.  I do not cook with salt, but you can throw some in too. This recipe is loosely based on the Weight Watchers Vegetable Soup Recipe and it is so easy you cannot mess it up!  I will have a cup of this for lunch or even a small cup as a snack.  My kids will have it for lunch or dinner with grilled cheese.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Broken Record

"You sound like a broken record".  I said this to my oldest daughter the other day.  This prompted much confusion and many questions from my two older children.  After this was said, my oldest immediately wanted to know exactly which sporting record his sister had broken.  My daughter was confused and asked what a record was.  I explained the version I was talking about, with a story - here goes:  

When I was a little girl.  This was something that your Grandmother would say to me.  (My daughter added in, Grandma isn't here.  My response, let me finish!).   This was something that Grandma would say to me when I would keep asking her the same thing over and over and over again.  When I was little we didn't have music on CD's (my son asked, did you have a radio? My response, let me finish!).  We would listen to music on records.  These were bigger than CD's and had lines in them.  We would put them on a record player and there would be a needle that would read the music and play it through the speakers.  Sometimes the needed would get stuck and play the same thing over and over and over again. (my son then said, wow that would be annoying!  My response, yes it would!).  I continued, when you ask the same thing over and over and over again, my answer will always be the same and you don't need to ask more than once.  If I tell you just give me a minute, that means that I heard you, I am doing something right now and you are next in line.

Now, my example was probably not the best nor most accurate description of a turntable and/or record.  But, for my 5 year old and 7 year old this seemed to have done the trick.  Here is hoping to no more "broken records" in our household (unless they are swimming related of course!).

How do you deal with your children when they keep asking you the same thing over and over and over again?  Do your answers change? Or do you hold firm?

Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Fall Issue of Multiplicity Magazine is Here!


Please be sure to check out the Fall issue of Multiplicity Magazine!  http://www.twiniversity.com/multiplicity/

This issue has some really great articles on facing and bracing for the Holidays!  It also has an adorable photo shoot of Halloween Costumes!

Please be sure to check out the article on page 24 by yours truly!


thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Making a Mess....Part 2

Last week I wrote a post on my house envy and how it seems like every time I turn around there is something that needs to be cleaned up.  The kids' rooms are always a mess and there are toys everywhere. I saw a sign posted on Facebook yesterday, I don't remember the exact wording, but it said something to likes of:  "My house is not messy, my children are creating memories".   That is so, so true! 

As I'm sitting typing this in the room that serves as our office/library/playroom, I see the following:

-A doll discarded in the corner
-Yesterday's cereal on the table (it is in a small bag -dry -no milk, that would be gross, even for us!)
-Construction Paper on the floor
-A very messy shelf with dolls, piles of books and stickers


You are probably thinking this doesn't look so bad....you may be right, but you can't really see all the things shoved behind the basket!
Same here - that pink elephant can hide a lot of stuff behind it!!


My children see:

-Their baby taking a nap
-A snack for later
-Material for their boat (they are using a large cardboard box to create a ship!)
-A fun shelf they can reach that has books and arts & crafts supplies

On my dining room table, I see:

-A dirty table cloth from when I had my family over LAST month for dinner
-Halloween outfits that have been sitting there for several weeks and need to go upstairs
-Over a thousand Lego's that need to be put away

My children see:

-A Lego world that they created.  Complete with helicopters, secret doors, furniture and monsters.  They have all been working on this together everyday this week after school.  They have included friends on this project too.  Each day they add more details and adventures to their world.

At least the Legos are hiding all the stains!
 

I am going to attemp to check my OCD for the next four or five years and enjoy listening to my children playing together, laughing together and most importantly, making memories together.

Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

It Takes A Village.....

In the mid-nineties, Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote a book with that title.  The book detailed her concerns with today's children of the world, and what they needed to succeed.  She detailed on how it takes a Village to raise a child, and indeed it does!

I am so Blessed to have my Village.  My Village is made up of a variety of people.  Some live literally in my village within walking distance from my home, others are thousands of miles away, and some of my villagers, I have never actually met in person - but have a very strong on line support group with (us mom's of multiples stick together!).  I also consider all my children's teachers to be in my Village as they play a huge role in their lives.

I know that if I did not have my Village, I would not be capable of being a good mom.  With four kids, we often follow the "divide and conquer" mentality when it comes to activities and homework.  Some days I have four kids going in four different directions and rely on my Villagers for assistance!  My Villagers provide everything from lending an ear, to assistance with child care, to margaritas on a Friday night.

I am also Blessed to have been raised by a wonderful Village.  My mom was a single mom, working hard to support and raise four kids on her own, and worked full time.  We had wonderful friends and neighbors who helped us and I have so many great memories of spending time with these individuals.

Who is in your Village?  How do they help you?

To my Villagers, past and present, I thank you!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Second Hand Rose

Buying things second hand is a great way to save money and get some "new" items for your family. I have several friends who also like the "green" aspect of it, and I guess that is a current trend.  What I like most is saving money and being able to get my kids some cute clothes without breaking the bank! When my oldest was a baby, my friend introduced me to eBay.  I had never used it before and it was a great source for quality, name brand baby clothes.  I would score Baby Gap and Gymboree brand items for dollars.  Then, through my mom's co-op group I was introduced to consignment sales.  Our local Loudoun Moms of Multiples Club does a fantastic sale twice a year.  When my twins were newborns I would go to the sales regularly.  I remember one year spending around $25 and coming home with a van full of items including a excersaucer, many toys, Halloween costumes and Christmas Outfits.

As the kids outgrew baby items, toys, clothes etc.  I would always pass them on to friends or donate them.  Recently I have started selling a few of the nicer items on eBay or craigslist.  I have also been very happy to sell some of my own clothes on eBay that are now too big!  This is definitely a great way to clean out your closets and make some extra cash.  I prefer eBay vs. consigning.  For me, to consign at an area consignment sale is not worth it.  It is too time consuming and there are too many restrictions.  When you need to be there, when you need to set up, when you need to clear your stuff out, percentage of profit, etc.  Yesterday I did take 2 bags of my own gently worn items to a new consignment store.  I went to this store first a few weeks ago and spoke with the owner, and checked out the merchandise.  Then I called the store and asked questions on their consignment policies.  This particular store did not consign items from sellers, but instead would flat out purchase them.  This is good and bad.  It is definitely more convenient, but I don't think the profit margin is as great as if you would have sold the things on eBay.  Also, it was a little personal.  This particular woman made faces, wrinkled her nose and even turned up her nose at some of my things (I have very cute boots I will be listing on eBay this week!). (Having spent many, many years working in the customer service industry I am a firm believer in always treating the customer with respect no matter what the situation.  Your job is to serve the customer and make them want to come back, whether it be retail, a restaurant or hotel.  I digress - but it is true. Everyone has bad days, but in customer service you need to leave it off the floor.) I did end up selling a few of my items at the consignment store yesterday and do regret it.  One -  the woman was very rude, two - I know I would have made more selling them on eBay.  If you do consign and don't like the person or don't feel comfortable, take you stuff and leave!

I really do prefer eBay.  I like the flexibility it gives me.  I can do it from home at my convenience.  I even can schedule package pick up from the post office.  I also like that I  can get the kids involved.  When selling items, they help to display the items and take pictures. They also help me package them up.  They love looking at the auction items and picking out their own clothes.  You can also buy things on eBay that are new with tags (nwt) and still in the original packaging.  I just recently purchase two very cute Halloween Tu-Tu style skirts for my girls for $6 each.  Last year my daughter had a ballerina themed birthday party and I was able to buy pink tu-tus for $2 each to give out to all the guests.  When you list your items on eBay, you want to be descriptive, positive and upbeat.  You also want to be honest.  Does the item have spots or stains, has it really been worn. You also want to tell about the type of environment it comes from: clean, smoke free, pet free home.  Right now I have some very cute baby boy clothes listed.  Mainly 2T - 3T, Gymboree, Ralph Lauren, Crew Cuts.  There are some good things listed!  One rule I do have, is that I do not sell items that were passed on to us.  They contine to get used and passed on! Do check out my listings!  My eBay user name is kat9275 and I do combine shipping! 

Craigslist is a great resource as well.  We just bought some amazing bunk beds for the twins at a steal.  I have sold bigger things on craigslist as well, like strollers.  The downside of craigslist is the pickup. I do not like to have people come to my home or go to a strangers home.  I prefer to meet in a public place always during the day.  Last year I bought a double jogger and met the woman at the grocery store!.


I purchased this outfit on eBay new with tags from Crazy 8 for $5!!


I purchased these Baby Gap matching dresses on Ebay for around $15.  One was new with tags, the other in excellent used condition!
 


Happy shopping and bidding! Thanks for stopping by & have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

1000 Hours

I read on a friend's Facebook post yesterday that election day is coming up in a little under 1000 hours.  I am so happy about this.  (Yes, I am happy that the TV ads will stop, my phone will stop ringing off the hook, etc.  I will be there lined up to vote on election day with all four of my kids - you should be there too!).  Anyway, I digress.  I'm kind of over the election.  What I am most happy about is that in a little over 1000 hours my husband and I will be going on vacation.  Yup, that is right, just the two of us.  This will be our first trip without all four children.  In November, we will be celebrating our 10th Wedding Anniversary.  We will be going away for a long weekend sans kids to New Orleans.  Now, I have never been to New Orleans (I don't get out much these days!).  So, if you know anything about it, please do share!  I have been doing some research and we have sights picked out that we want to see and my husband has a long list of restaurants to try.  He has been there before and is looking forward to showing me around.  You know what I'm looking forward to, the plane ride there.  (Go ahead and laugh at me now).  I am not a huge fan of flying.  But, I am looking forward to being able to sit for 2 1/2 hours and have nothing expected of me.  No one to take to the potty, no one to entertain.  Just sitting and reading my book (and chatting with my husband of course)! 

My freak flag has already started to fly when it comes to leaving the kids. I must have sent my sister a dozen texts over the weekend, and we both know that there will be a lot more to come!  My sister  has graciously agreed to come in from California to be the zoo keeper in our house while we are away.  I know she will be great, the kids will be fine, and it is so great for them to have this time together.  I am also lining up a list of reserves that will be available to pitch in and help out - Grandma, Aunt Bean, Uncle J, neighbors, friends etc.   I am very lucky to have wonderful family and friends that I can count on, knowing that my children will be in excellent hands.   You know how I love my lists and I have already started quite a few mental ones - the kids schedule for school and activities, driving directions and addresses I will need to leave, dishes I can make ahead and freeze beautifully, etc., etc.

When was the last time you and your partner went away without your children?  How did the kids do?  How did YOU do?  Would love to hear your tips!

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

Featured on Multiples Monday - please be sure to check out the great blogs at:
www.multiples-mom.com

multiples monday with capri +3

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fall Harvest



Yesterday was the first day of Fall.  My favorite season!  The kids and I spent the afternoon apple picking, in the heat!  It was in the low-80's yesterday where we live!  This was a first for us five.  First time I took the kids apple picking by myself.   I managed to find the place just fine and navigated the bumpy terrain, crossing the run (Crooked Run the actual run, is a tiny tributary of the Goose Creek Scenic River System,)on a wooden plank while herding all four kids and carrying close to 28 lbs of apples!  We had great picking yesterday!

We go to a great local, family-run orchard in Purcellville, Virginia: Crooked Run Orchards.  http://crookedrunorchard.com/   The land that is now an orchard, was first settled in the 1700's.  We love this place for a few reasons - it is close to us, it is family run, the products are excellent, the prices are great (I paid $1 a lb for tree apples and $.50 a lb for ground apples) and there is no admission fee.  Many of the farms near us are "agrotourism" farms.  They are working farms that feature petting zoos, hayrides, etc and promote tourism by charging an admission fee.  Don't get me wrong, these are great places where you can go and spend the day.  But, when we just want to pick, I don't want to pay twice - once to access the land and once for what we pick!

The kids had a great time!  Everyone had a job.  My oldest was in charge of reading all the signs, telling us what kind of apples were down each row.  My second oldest was in charge of telling us the different color apples, and finding the rows.  The twins also helped identify the color apples and pick up the ground apples.

Last night we made an apple crumble and my kids paid me the highest complement ever.  They told me that I was the best "scratch cook" and that the loved when I "cook from scratch".   I have come along way with my culinary skills from the girl who would only have mustard and vodka in her fridge!  This morning we made mini-apple muffins.  They just came out of the oven and the house smells great!  I need to research some more recipes on what else we can do with our apples. I would love to try to make apple butter!  Please share any of your tried and true apple recipes!

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Buy local  - support area businesses and reduce your family's food miles from farm to table!


Friday, September 21, 2012

Making a Mess!

I am starting to come to terms with the fact that my house will never look like a page in the Pottery Barn Catalogue.  No matter how hard I try, or how much I wish, it is just not going to happen.  My kids are too young and there is just too many of us!  I can barely stay on top of the laundry and keeping correct sizes/season in the closets, let alone keeping the house in perfect, tip top,  ship shape, shape!   It is nice to look at the catalogues and dream about a perfect house.  A house that is always clean.  A house where no one makes a mess.  I would love for my girls to have a room that looks like the ones below, but I realize that the drapery would become costumes, the nice slipper chair a stage, and you can just guess what would happen to the chandelier! We live in our house!  My kids are not neat freaks like their mom, but they all have wonderful imaginations and can turn an everyday object into something spectacular.  (Or not so spectacular, like a sword or weapon!)  How do you reign in the mess in your house without stifling your kids?  It is very important for children to play.   What is the difference though between playing, making a mess and being creative?  Does the one toy out at a time rule work?  Do they put that toy neatly away when done, then take out another one?  We use baskets and hidden cubbies and trunks in our house and kind of have a scoop it up and hide it system! Not ideal, but it works for now. I would love to hear about your toy storage tips! We have tried to limit toys to one room on the main level and keep them primarily in the basement.  But that is not working out so well.  I read an article the other day by a famous mom of multiples and she mentioned that her kids can have one small box of toys in their bedroom and that all other toys need to stay in the basement playroom.  I would love to get to that system when my kids are a little older.  Right now they play all over the house.  Under the dining room table is a secret cave, the office floor is a restaurant and when I last checked the family room was a train station!   

I hope that you have a wonderful weekend!  

Today is my 100th blog post and I appreciate you stopping by!!
 

I wold love for my girls to have a room that looks like this!
Or a room that looks like this!









Thursday, September 20, 2012

Just Because....

Please go to your children and hug them and tell them that you love them.  No reason, just because.  There are things in your life and in this world that will make you feel powerless.  Unfortunately, we cannot solve all the problems. But we can be powerful when it comes to our children and to our family.  We can show our kids the power of love and the power of prayer. 

I will ask a favor of you now dear friends and readers.  Please pray for a little boy who may be very sick.  His parents will not know until his test results come back.  Please pray for his parents to have the strength and courage both in themselves and in God.

Now, this child is not one of my four, but a child my family knows.  His story I heard this morning and his story is not mine to tell.  But I believe in prayer, and the power of prayer. I am fortunate to have readers in almost 50 different countries....that is a lot of prayers that we can get answered!

Many thanks.....

Monday, September 17, 2012

Multiples Monday


multiples monday with capri +3




It is Multiples Monday on:  http://www.multiples-mom.com/

Please be sure to stop by and check out all the wonderful blogs by fellow mom's of multiples!  Also, if you haven't already done so, read Theresa's story.  She is the founder of this group and has had an amazing journey to becoming a mom to her Capri+3.

Have a great day!!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Snack Attack!

My kids are snackers.  When we have "good" snacks in the house, they have been known to go through several boxes in one day.  Their definition of "good snacks" equals primarily name brand snacks (I buy a lot of store brand items!), cookies, especially Oreos and potato chips.  We do buy in bulk, but often end up throwing out that ginormous bag of veggie straws half way through because it has gone stale and the kids are sick of them.  I have also bough the individual bags of snacks, but really do feel like you end up paying more for the packaging.  We do keep plenty of healthy snacks on hand too.  These are always at easy to reach spots for them: goldfish, cheerios, carrot sticks, apple slices, etc.  We recently purchased a hot air popcorn popper.  Did you know that one cup of freshly popped popcorn (when using this type of machine) only has 20 calories per cup?!  We use the popper several times a week and the kids are having fun experimenting with toppings.   The other morning I was so happy to see one of my twins get a plastic cup out, then go to the fridge and fill it with baby carrots.  He did this all by himself, too!  (I was watching from around the corner!)  Independence and smart choices!

On Friday afternoon the twins and I made homemade oatmeal raisin cookies.  I was trying to accomplish a few things:
-surprise our big kids when they got off the bus with baked goods
-have something somewhat healthy for a snack
-come up with a breakfast cookie recipe that my oldest could have on mornings when we are running late for the bus

I found a recipe on the back of the Old Wessex Ltd. Irish-Style Oatmeal carton and adapted it.  This is what I made on Friday.  It was very easy and the twins were able to do most of the work! (with assistance of course!) 

Ingredients:
3 cups uncooked Irish Oatmeal
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup agave nectar
3/4 cup softened butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/2 cup raisins

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine dry ingredients in one bowl, set aside.  Mix agave nectar, vanilla and butter until smooth.  Add egg.  Blend dry & wet ingredients.  Once mixed add in raisins.  Place on greased cookie sheet, bake for 10 minutes.  Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies.

The cookies were okay.  They were very dense.  My taste test group was split - I had 6 kids try them.  My four, plus two neighborhood kids.  Half the group thought they were not sweet enough/crunchy enough.  The other half said they were fine.  Not great.  When I make these again, I am going to try adding in the following ingredients:  dried cranberries, Cinnamon, replacing the agave nectar with honey and replacing the flour with whole wheat flour and reducing to 3/4 cup.  You could also add in nuts.  We are nut free since we have a "peanut allergy kid".

I would love to hear from you!  Please share what works in your house for snacks.  How do you keep the kids happy without spending a fortune!  Also, if you have any easy "healthy" cookie recipes you would like to share, we would love to see them!

Thanks & enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Rock YOUR Vote

We still have about six weeks left (give or take a few days!) to election day.  I am tired of the endless ads by both parties being shown on every channel. I am at the point where I turn off the TV, I really don't need my children asking me during breakfast what birth control is and why that lady can't afford it.  Seriously, I just want to see the weather!  I am tired of the endless phone calls we are receiving telling us about various candidates and rallies to attend.   I am annoyed by the people who knock on my door and leave fliers for their candidates.  I was really annoyed by being stopped four times on my way into back to school night and offered fliers for candidates.  Twice by each party. Really it was back to school night, a night about our kids.  NOT the president. Sometimes I do get a chuckle on the Facebook banter, but even that is turning in to too much and getting ugly!(I rarely chime in on friends' political comments on their wall. I have done this twice now, both times in jest and someone with way opposite views then mine who was a friend of a friend of a friend took it way too seriously!)

Living in a swing state I can only imagine that this is going to get much worse in the weeks to come. I have stopped answering my phone, turned off the TV, am spending less time on Facebook and only opening the door if it is someone I know.   I don't think any of these are necessarily bad things!

But, I will vote and you should too.  I don't care who you are voting for.  Who I vote for is none of your business.  Just go vote.  Someone said to me the other day, my vote doesn't count, it is decided by the electoral college.  Well, your vote does count.  Also, there are other elections going on besides the Presidential one.  Your local ballot will most likely also contain senate seats, maybe a congressional spot and questions that do affect you and your community.  Like bond referendums.  Like funding for schools.

Do your homework.  Learn the facts.  Go Vote!

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

In Memory

 
In Memory Of
 
Joseph Tirella
 
Died September 11, 1981
 
Loving Father, Husband, Brother, Son & Friend
 
WWII Veteran - Purple Heart Recipient
 
 
 
mio padre รจ nel mio cuore

Friday, September 7, 2012

A regular day

Before September 11th became 9/11/01 or "September 11th" it was just an ordinary day.  It was a day when babies were born, when toddlers took their first steps and when loved ones took their last breaths.

I vividly remember September 11, 2001.  It was a perfect fall morning in Washington, DC.  Not too hot, not too cold and the sun was shining.  At the time, I was living in Arlington, VA, just off Columbia Pike, walking distance from the Pentagon.  I was working in downtown Washington DC, across the street from the White House and if running late for work (as I usually was) would cut through the parking lot at the Pentagon.  On September 11, 2001, I was up early with the dogs, got my workout in and headed to work - early for a change.  I remember hearing on the car radio the horrors in NY and my goal was to get to the office and call family and friends to make sure loved ones were safe.  I grew up in NJ and knew many people living and working in NYC.   The World Trade Center was a place that we would visit on school and church trips. Enjoying time on the observation deck. Shortly after I hung up the phone that morning, the building where I worked was evacuated.  I remember calling a co-worker to let him know not to come in and he told me of the explosion and ground shaking he felt in Arlington, and the rest, as they say is history.  This is a history that I pray never repeats itself for our Nation.  It is a history that I pray my children and my grandchildren never have to experience first hand.  Recently, there was a clip on the news of one of the planes hitting the towers, my son innocently asked if that was a commercial for a new action movie.   I had hoped to wait until he was a little older, to shelter him a little longer from the evil and ugliness of our world.

Tuesday will mark the eleventh anniversary of the September 11th attacks.  May we never forget the extraordinary heroics of our first responders and emergency personnel.  May we always remember those who lost their lives on that day.

For my children, I will try to make this Tuesday an ordinary day.  We will keep the TVs off, we will go to school, we will bake cupcakes for a friend's birthday, we will say a prayer for the loved ones we have lost.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Art of the Play Date

Now that school is back in, my kids are coming home pretty much everyday and asking to have a play date with a friend.  Play dates are great.  It is fantastic for the children to make friends and interact with other children. I have a love -hate thing going on with play dates.  There was a time not that long ago when I simply could not host play dates.  When my twins were babies, they were either always eating, sleeping or having their diapers changed.  I could barely keep an eye on my own kids, let alone someone else's!  My goals were getting through the day and protecting nap times.  I am very fortunate that I have fantastic friends and live in a great neighborhood.  They welcomed my older children into their homes and I never felt like they were "keeping count"!  I am also fortunate that with four kids in our family, my kids have built in play dates! Now that the twins are older, age 3 1/2,  they want to have play dates of their own and I have new challenges.  Do I invite a friend over for each twin, do I just invite one friend over and have all three kids play together? But, three usually never works out!  What about the older kids, they need to have their friends over too. This is new territory that I am navigating here.  I am learning that for my 5 year old, it is best to have play dates in the morning before school.  She has afternoon kindergarten and is up by 7am.  It is a long stretch of time until the bus comes for her at 11:24am! Even better is to plan something on the mornings the twins are at school.  This way no one "bothers" her.  I do need to say that she and her friends are great sports and are always quick to include the twins in a game of hide and seek or Barbies!  For my twins, I think it would be best if they had their play dates when both of my older children are at school.  For my oldest, he is really limited to just after school and he is very good about playing XBox in basement, riding scooters outside or Lego's in his room - activities that my little ones have no interest in.

What about play date etiquette?  Is it up to you to correct someone else's child?  I really think that is a case by case situation.  If it is a "toy dumper", I usually let that go if it is age appropriate.  A two year old dumping out every toy bin in your house is much different than a 13 year old!  Obviously,  if the child is exhibiting inappropriate behavior (hitting, breaking legs off a barbie,etc.)  and someone could get hut (feelings or physically), definitely step in.  It is your house and you are the parent!  But if it is a case of toy squabbling, I usually let the kids work that out themselves.  Here are some tips that work for us in our house to help us prepare for the play date:

-Put away any toys that your child does not want to share.  If your child has a special toy or lovey and will freak out if another kids looks at it, let alone tries to play with it, put it away.  The blankie or American Girl Doll can survive for an hour or two on the closet shelf!

-Plan snack ahead of time and let your child be involved.  Also, check with the parent of the other children about any food allergies.

-Set a start time and end time.  Believe me, you may just be happy to know that the end time is coming!  If things are going well, give the other mom a call and you can always extend the play date.  We have done that and I always laugh when the mom is surprised that her kid is doing so well!

I would love to hear from you on what works for your family,  I would also love to hear how you handle play dates with multiples.  Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Fall Frenzy!

My older two children are wrapping up a successful first week of school!  They both like their teachers and are making new friends.  My twins go today for their open house and will get to meet their teachers, check out their classroom and see friends.  They start school next week!

Now that school is back in session, we are gearing up for Fall!  OT started back up yesterday, ballet starts tomorrow, tennis next week and lacrosse and girl scouts next weekend.  In addition, we will have play dates and the "party circuit".  Are your kids on that?  With four kids, we get a lot of invitations to birthday parties!  My kids love this.  They love seeing their friends outside of school and who doesn't love a goodie bag and some birthday cake!  I try to be pro-active about the parties and plan ahead!  When I see toys on sale, especially barbie dolls and Lego kits, I do pick up a few extra and put them aside.  This way when the last minute invite comes in, we are prepared!  I do also stock up on wrapping paper.  This I get at our local 5 and Below Store.   I try to have the kids make cards for their friends.  My oldest isn't really in to this - it is hard to even get him to sign his name on the card!  But, my three little ones love this and will spend days perfecting a card for their friend!  While I'm at 5 and Below I also will pick up a few small items - candy, hair ties, etc. and place this on top of the present in lieu of ribbon.  All the kids love this!

Next on my list to start planning for is my daughter's 6th birthday and Halloween!  This is the first year, that I do not have at least 1/2 of the kids costumes by now!  

Have a great holiday weekend!  Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mission Completed!

For those of you who follow my blog, you know that I have been on a quest for the perfect family portrait.  I'm not talking about just any portrait.  I'm talking about the Christmas card, display on the mantle, Facebook worthy kind of portrait! I'm also talking about a portrait with the entire family! All four kids and two parents.  Getting six people to smile at the same time is no easy task - but we did it! Something that I have never been able to accomplish before, until now!  (If you are new to my blog, thanks for stopping by! Please check out my previous post "Say Cheese" from July 16th to see how we started this!)

A few weeks ago, we met with a very talented photographer, Michelle Guilbault with Memories by Michelle, who also happens to be our neighbor. Be sure to check out her website at:  http://thepixgallery.com/  If you are in the Washington, DC Metro area please take you kids to her.  Take your family, take your pets! You will be blown away with the photos, I know I was!

Our photo shoot was scheduled for early evening to optimize the natural lighting. We planned to meet at a golf course located in our neighborhood.  The day of the shoot we had very bad thunderstorms and had to cancel.  Then, out of the blue the sun came out again and we were back on! With the full Virginia heat and humidity!  Michelle with her fabulous "assistant" Mr. Marc were wonderful!  They interacted with my children and got them to smile, giggle and relax.  That made me relax!  I think that is very important to having a beautiful picture taken.  You know that old saying, "if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy".  That is the truth!  My kids knew I was at ease and we all had fun.  We got to make our nice smiles and silly smiles and poses to help get the giggles out.   When I received the proofs, I was amazed not only by the number of pictures Michelle was able to take in a short  period of time, but that every single picture was terrific.  There was not one proof that I did not like!  It made ordering time very, very difficult!  In the pictures, Michelle was able to capture my children's individual personalities and the love they have for one another.  These are more to me than just a picture.  They are capturing our family, how we truly are and I will treasure them always.

If you haven't done it recently, go take your kids and your spouse and get a nice portrait done.  Those mall places are okay - but you can really tell the difference when you use a professional photographer.  Get to know your photographer.  Ask lots of questions.  If there is something that you don't like during your photo session, speak up and get it fixed.  Not only is it your money, it is your memories.

Please enjoy some of my most favorite pics from our shoot.  Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!



Me and my twins.  Photo by Memories by Michelle
 
 
                                                                               My twinies! Photo by Memories by Michelle


Friday, August 24, 2012

'Tis the Season!

I'm not talking about Fa la la la las or Decking the Halls!  I'm talking about pencils and notebooks and erasers!  Back to School Time!  I love school supplies - always have!  I have been enticed by all of the commercial for the penny and quarter items.  I am building up a stash of extra composition books, index cards and markers.  Now, I'm not hoarding them like those shows you see on TV - just a little shopping bag with items I know that the kids will need throughout the school year. It is not like a notebook will expire!  I remember last winter buying my son index cards for his word study and paying close to $2, I picked up two packs at Target last week for $.48 each! Now is the time to buy them, while they are all on sale.  Also, pick up supplies that your little ones that may not be in school yet will use, like markers and crayons.  I do need to get some more pencils and crayons.  You can never have enough of those!  There is something so great about a pack of freshly sharpened pencils!  This year, for the first year, I did buy the pre-sharpened ones.  (Last year my husband broke the pencil sharpener at his office trying to get them all sharpened in time so I did want to avoid that this year!)

My two older children will start school on Monday.  My twins will go back the day after Labor Day.  This morning the older two had their classroom open houses.  We were able to go to the school, check out the classrooms, meet their teachers, see friends and drop off all of the school supplies.  My children each had a list sent home with required school supplies that are needed for their classroom. The list is very specific.  For my daughter's kindergarten class we were asked to bring in 10 Elmer's Jumbo Glue Sticks.  I have been losing sleep over this - I did not buy Elmer's, I did not buy Jumbo and I did not buy 10!  I bought 15 of the Big Lots brand glue stick (they were three sticks for $.24 - you can't beat that), but will my daughter be shunned for sending in and using generic glue sticks?  Will the glue sticks, stick?   I was speaking with another mom this morning at the open house and we both commented that when we were growing up, we never had to do this. We just showed up for school and that was that. Of course, we had our own backpack, lunch box and trapper keeper (remember those!). But our parents did not have to send in tissues or wipes or hundreds of boxes of crayons!

The beginning of the school year also means meeting new people. New teachers, some new kids and of course their parents.  While it is always great to make new friends and get to know the other parents in your child's class, I am very tired of being asked, "are they all yours" and hearing, "boy, you have a lot of kids", and my all time favorite "how do you do it?".  I know it is hard for my older kids, the attention should be on them and it pains me when adults say to them , "wow, is that your entourage?" or "you brought the whole crew, huh?"   Now, some people are nice and just plain curious.  But, the snarky comments and tones we can definitely all do without. Especially, when they are directed towards my kids.   I am very tempted to have a shirt made that says "YES, THEY ARE ALL MINE!"  But, I'm afraid people will think I'm talking about my boobs and not my kids!  So, I smile and nod my head and move right along.....with my kids following in a nice line!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Art of Multi-tasking

Multi-tasking is something that pretty much all moms do.  I think when you are a mom of multiples you have to. You are outnumbered everyday!  It is very common in our house for me to ask my kids, "how many mommies are there, and how many kids do we have?"

I realized that lately my multi-tasking as gotten a little out of control! This morning I was sitting in my van in the parking lot of CVS.  Waiting for a prescription to be filled, giving the twins their snack, putting on a DVD for them and cleaning smeared chocolate off the car seat, all while trying to do a interview on the phone for my event planning company.  Not my best or most professional moment.  But the kids were actually quiet and I did get everything done. I am definitely guilty of the one more thing or more minute syndrome. Trying to get as much as I can done before the timer goes off.  Whether it is the real kitchen timer or the timer in my head before I need to start the next task or be somewhere.  My kids, especially my oldest son, are the first to remind me "Mom you burned our food, what is more importanter your work email or our dinner?"   Of course that is a no brainer. 

Sometimes my multi-tasking is actually successful.  When my oldest son is in the bath or shower, I will put the linens away (linen close is in bathroom).  Or, when my oldest daughter is in the tub, I will fold towels and put them away.  This way we can chat about her day,  I can keep an eye on her and make a dent in the never ending, ever growing laundry pile!

Are you a multi-tasker? What are somethings that you can do simultaneously that work for you and your family?

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Third times a charm!

It is almost 11am EST, and I just made myself my third breakfast.   The first one I made was over four hours ago.  Now, this was the third breakfast I made, but the first one I actually was able to eat!  What happened to the other ones - the kids ate them!  My kids are good eaters. I am really happy about that.  My friends and relatives are always amazed at how well my kids eat.  My kids are open to trying new things and rarely complain. They are okay with our two family rules on mealtime: "If something is on your plate, try it. You don't have to eat it all, but you may not complain about it." and "We don't believe in the clean plate club in this house."  I am happy that my kids don't feel forced to eat and get really annoyed when other people who use this "rule" with their kids try to enforce it on mine!  My kids eat when they are hungry and they stop when they are full.  Some days they eat a lot, other days not so much.  Some days I feel like I am in the kitchen all day, other days not so much.

For our first breakfast this morning, I asked the kids who wanted eggs.  No response.  My older two kids do not eat eggs, I know this and I'm fine with it.  They were happy with some cut up fruit.  My youngest had a bowl of cereal, her twin wanted a banana.  So we proceeded. I got the kids settled and I did make myself some eggs (they came out perfectly too - I still do want to take a cooking class on eggs though!).  Then my older two decided they wanted left over tacos.  To me that was gross - tacos at 7am.  But, that is what they wanted and they ate every last bit of the veggies that were on top too.  Then the twins decided they wanted eggs after all.  Then they decided they wanted some fruit too.  What I thought was going to be a quick and easy breakfast turned into a 1/2 hour+ process.

Fast forward a few hours and I realize that I was hungry because I didn't eat breakfast.  Back in the kitchen, I throw a slice of whole grain bread in the toaster and get out the peanut butter.  Just as I'm spreading the peanut butter on, one of the twins comes in "Mama is that for me. Thank you.".  So, I hand him the plate.  Then the other kids come in and are ready for lunch. (We get up really early and they eat lunch early!)  What do they eat, more tacos!  Now, I need to go clean the lettuce off the floor and do another round of dishes!

While I am happy that my kids are good eaters, one thing that does not make me happy is feeling like a short order cook chained to the kitchen!  We do have healthy snack choices both in the fridge and pantry that the kids can reach and get themselves (although this morning Baby B some how convinced her dad to give her a bag of potato chips at 9am! - no worse than eating tacos at 7am right?!).  I would love to hear from other parents some tips and tricks on how you handle this or avoid it in your house!

Thanks for stopping by.  Have a great weekend!

Oh - I was able to eat a piece of toast!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Dreaded Words.....

"Mommy my tummy hurts", cried one of my twins from the backseat.  Recently the kids and I went to the beach to visit my mom.  For "normal" people, this drive should take about 2 1/2 hours.  For us, it took almost 4!  I did this drive, just me and the kids.  We live in Northern Virginia and my mom lives at the beach in Delaware.  To get there we do cut through the District of Columbia, to Rt 50 and go over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.  Now, if you have never driven on this bridge before, it is a very big bridge!  In reality, with no traffic it should take about 6 or 7 minutes to cross.  To me, those minutes feel like 6 or 7 hours!

The whining from the back seat for a potty break started while we were still in DC - on Pennsylvania Avenue - but not the section near the White House!  I was sitting on a bridge going over  the Anacacostia River and there was no where to stop.  The whining continued and still there was no where to stop!  I promised the kids that we would stop as soon as we could. The whining turned to crying and moaning. Once we got to Rt 50 I pulled over at the first McDonald's we came to.  Everyone got out, used the potty and piled back in the car.  Things were fine. We decided to go through the drive through to pick up lunch since the lines inside were so long.   Then it started....my tummy hurts.  Then it happened...my twin was sick all over himself and the new van.  So, what did I do.  Opened all the doors and windows.  Cleaned him up and the van and skipped the McDonald's lunch. Then we waited and waited to make sure there was "no more".  Then I started praying that he would not be sick on the bridge.  We were very close to the Bay Bridge.  Once we got a few miles down the road there would be no where to stop until after we crossed the bridge.  Our Angels were with us that day and my little boy fell asleep before we were at the Toll Plaza and slept almost the rest of the way to Grandma's.  The other kids didn't get a "real" lunch that afternoon, but did survive on the fruit and snacks I had packed.  The bag of lollipops and new DVD didn't hurt either!

Have a great day!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Restaurant Conversation

My twins crack me up!  They are 3 1/2 and I love how well they play together.  Right now they are playing Restaurant and this is a conversation that is currently going on:

Baby B: Is this a French Restaurant?

Baby A: No, this is a Chinese Restaurant.

Baby B: Okay,  I will have spaghetti and meatballs.

Baby A: We have that.  But, I am not a food cooker.  I am food server.  I bring the food for lunch and dinner.  Not breakfast.  This is a Stinky Cafe. (I'm not sure if that is the name of the restaurant as the play currently does not stink!)

Baby B: Sounds great! Come with me, I have your new menu.


Baby A has now abandoned this game and moved on to cars.  Baby B is now the hostess and answering calls for reservations on her sister's MP3 player.  Her new menu is the book "Harry the Dirty Dog".  No wonder it is a Stinky Cafe!

Article on Twiniversity!

Please be sure to check out my article on our cruise this summer!  It is featured today on the Twiniversity website!

http://www.twiniversity.com/2012/cruising-with-kids/#more-5802


Thanks for checking it out and have a great day!!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Short Cuts!

I love a good short cut!  I love anything that will save me time.  Even better, anything that will save me time and money!

The Flat Iron
This morning I discovered another use for my flat iron.  Now, you know how much I love it on my hair.  This morning I used it to iron the hem of my khaki shorts!  You know what, it worked! If you are going to try this at home, please be careful.  Don't have it on too high of a setting and gently go over your hem.  You do not want to leave it on too long and burn your khakis.  (My disclaimer: Flat irons should never be left on unattended and never, ever left around children.  Momof4va is not liable and/or responsible for any burnt clothing or skin!)

Wrinkle Release Space
This is a product that I can not live without.  It has been off the market for sometime (at least near me!).  When I was still working in hotel sales, I would have a bottle of this stuff stashed everywhere!  I didn't want to show up on any of my sales calls all wrinkled - especially those days I had to wear a uniform (mom pants khakis and polyester hotel shirt that would still wrinkle!).  You could find this in my car, my desk, my bag, etc!  It is a spray made by Downey.  You spray it on your clothing, smooth it out, let it dry and like magic the wrinkles are erased!  This also does work if you spray your clothes while wearing them (the bottle doesn't tell you this!).  Just stand still for a few minutes after you smooth out the wrinkle!

Rotisserie Chicken
This is an excellent time saver.  They are quick if you need something last minute for dinner.  I also like to use them in the winter time as the starter for my chicken noodle soup!  They are a great deal if you get them at a big box membership store - I can pay $4.99 there. However, at the grocery store, I have seen them go anywhere from $7.99 - $8.99 and this really isn't a great deal.

What are some short cuts that you use?

Have a great weekend!!!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Good Egg!

I just did something that I have never done before.  Of course, I just had to share!

I cooked the perfect hard boiled egg.  Some might call them hard cooked eggs.  Growing up we always called them hard boiled.  The egg is such a simple food, but one that gives me so many challenges when cooking!  Definitely my nemesis in the kitchen! I no longer attempt omelets - I can't do the flip and mine always burn.  My fried eggs are just as bad.  I burn those and manage to mess up the yolk. My eggs are pretty much limited to cheesy scrambled eggs for the twins made in a fry pan.  Or eggs cooked in the microwave that I throw a slice of cheese on.  The twins don't really like this version!

I still have not gotten to the grocery store since returning from the beach and wanted something easy to make for lunch, using ingredients I had on hand!  I decided on egg salad and just cooked the most perfect eggs for it!  Normally when I hard boil the eggs it is a bit of an ordeal - I need to call someone to confirm the cooking time or look it up on line (I usually turn to Rachel Ray!).  This time I didn't!

I filled my pot with cold water, added my eggs.  Put on stove until water came to a boil, then cooked for 9 minutes.

Which food item is your nemesis?  Do you still attempt to cook it or have you thrown in the towel?

Have a great afternoon!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

FOUR!

My twins are going to be four.  My twins are going to be FOUR!  This is something that just dawned on me when I was talking to their Preschool Director yesterday, confirming their class assignments and making sure I signed them up for the correct class.

Obviously, they are getting bigger and each year they do turn a year older.  But it really hit me, in January they will be FOUR.  They are no longer babies, not even toddlers.  They are kids.  Big kids.  Where did the time go?!

Certainly I have noticed their growth, their changes and independence.  They can get themselves dressed. They like to pick out their own clothes.  They can help make their beds.  We can stay at places longer. I no longer need to plan our lives around nap schedules.  I no longer need to haul my double stroller everywhere.  My triple stroller is gathering cobwebs in the garage!  (If you live in the Northern Virginia area and are looking for a triple jogger - I do have one that I will be listing on Craig's list soon - it is pink and very nice!! Message me directly and we can work something out!).

My twins are amazing. They have their own individual thoughts, personalities and ideas. They have questions about pretty much everything, too!  At almost four, this is quite evident, and they do make it known!.  I think I went from shock  (we found out when I was 19 weeks we were having twins) to survival mode.   Just now I have come up for air and realized that they will be FOUR!  My sister-in-law has always told me, enjoy every minute, it will go by faster than you think.  She told me this when I was going to college, when I was getting married, when I was pregnant with my first child.  She has been telling me this for close to twenty years and it has taken me that long to believe it!

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!


No matter how old they are, they will always be "The Babies"!