Thursday, May 31, 2012

Water, Water Everywhere!

My kids love the water.  They love to swim in it, play in it, take baths in it.  One thing they don't love is to drink it.  I haven't really been a big fan of water either, so I'm sure they get it from my (lack of) example.  It has always been a struggle for me to get my 6- 8 glasses in per day.  This is something that I am working on, especially since I have stopped drinking caffeinated beverages (I will have occasional diet coke or ice tea, but no more than once or twice per week!). 

We are incorporating some tricks and tips in our household to get the kids to drink more water!  Recently, they all got new water bottles and got to pick them out themselves.  This is really helping!  The little kids see my 7 year old fill up his bottle and take it with him to school or lacrosse and they want to do the same thing.  We are having water when out in restaurants or at the pool.  When we are at the pool, water is the only thing that everyone is "allowed" to drink.  In restaurants, the kids love having their water in a "grown up" glass with lemon.  My boy twin is even at the point now where he will just order water and not have another drink.  We are also encouraging the kids to fill up their own water bottles and take them outside with them every time we go out to play.  The kitchen does often look like the site of a flood, but hey, it's just water!

What are some tips and tricks you use in your house to get your kids to drink more water?

Have a great day!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Rainy Day Fun!

3, 2, 1, BLAST OFF!

My three little ones finished preschool last week.  We have a long summer looming ahead of us!  My older two are signed up for a week of camp each.  This is the first summer that all four kids are old enough to go to Vacation Bible School (woo hoo!).

Normally, I take the kids to the pool everyday.  Yes, everyday!  We can walk to our pool and the kids love the water.  Yesterday we went for about 2 hours.  They ate better and they slept better!  Today it is overcast and rainy.  The rain is scheduled to move out by the afternoon, but we have no plans for this morning.  We can't play outside and we can't go to the pool (It also isn't open yet!).  Right now the kids are building and decorating "monster spaceships".  I'm not quite sure if they are hunting for monsters or if they are the monsters!  But, they are all playing nicely together and the TV and tablets are turned off! 

I try to keep a variety of things on hand to pull out if it is rainy or even if the kids are just bored!  The kids are using some old moving boxes that were stacked in the storage room corner to build their spaceships.  I pulled out some Dora Stickers from the Prize Closet and a  box of new crayons (who doesn't love new crayons!).  They are using these items to decorate the boxes.  Mess will be a minimal (I hope!), they are playing together and having fun (thank goodness they have lost interest in drawing on walls!).

I have mentioned our Prize Closet before in my posts.  Three of my four kids have January Birthdays.  We have a very large and generous family.  I typically will put some birthday or Christmas gifts aside and take them out through out the year. This way the toy actually gets played with and not cast aside in the Holiday Madness and Mayhem.  Things that I bought and forgot about, also get put into our Prize Closet!  I bought my oldest son a Lego kit on "Black Friday" (day after Thanksgiving for our International Readers!).  I planned on giving this to him for Christmas, well I forgot!  Then I was going to give it to him for his birthday.  Forgot about that too!  Now I will have something to pull out one day this summer!  When I am out and about if I see things at Five and Below or the dollar section at Target, I will pick them up and put them aside for prizes.  I also save leftover "goodie bag" items and put them in the Prize Closet!  That reminds me, I have some Mickey Mouse stickers and crayons from the twins first birthday, that might make some good spaceship/monster-hunting decorations too!

Something else that my kids love to do is to cut items out of catalogs and magazines.  My girls can spend hours cutting out things from the latest Pottery Barn Kids catalog.  They take the pictures they have cut out and glue them on to construction paper.  Sometimes they will make lists of things they would like to have other times they will create room scenes on the paper!

What are some tips and tricks that you do to get through a Rainy Day with your children?

Thanks & stay dry!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Decoration Day

Today is Memorial Day.  A holiday we celebrate here in the US to honour the men and women who bravely gave their life while serving in the US Armed Forces.

Did you know that this holiday used to be called Decoration Day? It started after the American Civil War when ladies would decorate the graves of fallen soldiers.  There is documentation that dates this tradition back to 1862 in Savannah, GA.

Today we spend Memorial Day with family and friends.  Kicking off the Summer Season.  In Washington, DC there are many other ways to celebrate Memorial Day.  The President will lay a wreath at Arlington Cemetery.  There will be a parade in the city and there will be concerts at the various Monuments.

Let us always remember that the price of freedom is not free.  Let us never forget those that paid with their lives for us to have this freedom.

God Bless!

Memorial Day 2009 at Grandma's Beach House

Friday, May 25, 2012

Four In Four

Within the past few weeks, I have met two amazing moms (one in person and one via blogging) that also had four children in four years (you know who you are & your stories are amazing!).  I knew that there were more of us out there, I just hadn't met any yet!  These women "get it" and understand what I am going through and how far my family has come!

Most people I meet (strangers on the street, in the store, etc), just assume that I had IVF.  They also think I am a little strange for having so many kids.  Well, I didn't have IVF.  (not that it is anyone's business!) For whatever reason, God Blessed me with my babies.  It wasn't in my plan, but it was His.  Also, I'm not strange (at least I don't think so, I'm sure my brother would tell you otherwise!).  Others might think I am rude or abrupt or always in a hurry.  I don't mean to be, I do try to avoid making eye contact!  But,  I am usually coming or going from some place and need to keep track of my "little ducks" who are removing all the candy from the display and trying to put it in their pockets and not have a conversation with someone in line  behind me at the grocery store about the weather, or whether or not I'm sure if my kids are really twins (I am so, so sick of being asked that! YES,  THEY ARE TWINS, I AM SURE I WAS THERE!).   

Here is my "Four in Four" story:

I had my oldest child in January 2005.  This was a difficult pregnancy.  At the time,  I was working at a hotel and was traveling quite a bit on sales trips. I was also on my feet a good portion of the day.  I went into labor at 35 1/2 weeks.   I called my doctor as soon as the office opened, I was convinced I was in labor, but my husband was convinced it was too much Baja Fresh the night before!  The nurse didn't think I was in labor on the phone, but told me to come in. (My doctor pretty much laughed at me and said I was wrong!) But, I showed her!  My water broke in the exam room at my doctor's office.  Long story short, due to size of the baby (9.5 lbs), my blood pressure being dangerously high and my labor not progressing, they did a c-section. (it then became a problem that I had a bowl of cheerios at 4am!  I didn't know I was in labor).  My son did have to be monitored the first night because of fluid in his lungs, but overall he was an adorable, BIG, red-headed baby!

My second child was born in October 2006. (Yes, do the math, 21 months apart!).  This was also a difficult pregnancy. I had problems throughout my pregnancny with my blood pressure and was at one point put on bed rest.  There was also one point when my doctor could not pick up the baby's heart rate during a routine exam and I had to go to the hospital for further testing.  I was also required to go regularly for exams at the antenatal center at the hospital.  Based on my first pregnancy, my little girl was born via c-section at 38 weeks.  A tiny, pink, beautiful, healthy baby!

Fast Forward almost two years......

In June of 2008 I found out I was pregnant again.  Normal pregnancy, off to a good start.  "Easiest" pregnancy that I had first tri-mester wise.  In September of 2008 I went in for my normal 20 week sonogram. (I think I might have been around 19 weeks).  Anyway, it was at this sonogram that I found out I was having not one but TWO babies.  The ultrasound technician, very casually said, you know you have two babies, right?  At that point I freaked out!!!  I was convinced that somehow the last patient's records were still up on the computer and that wasn't me!  Twins do not run in the family and this was a natural pregnancy.   The tech quickly left and brought in the doctor.  Very calmly the doctor asked me - would you have done anything differently if you found out earlier you were having twins?  My answer - No. 

My twins were born via c-section on January 19, 2009.  I was at 37 weeks.  The last few weeks of the pregnancy were touch and go - I did have to go regularly to the antenatal center (weekly this time), then did have to go in to the hospital to have the shot to mature the babies lungs.  I had a really bad stomach bug before the holidays and had become dehydrated.  My doctor was convinced I was going to go into labor on my own, too early.  My doctor also did tell me later that I would keep him up at night - he was afraid that my uterus was going to rupture.   When the babies were born, they were perfect.  Twenty fingers, twenty Baby A & Baby B!

We brought them home from the hospital after a two night stay, our oldest had just turned four, our second oldest was 27 months and still in diapers and the craziness began!

I hope you have a wonderful Holiday Weekend!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Oops, I forgot!

I did something today that I have never done before.  I forgot to pick my 5 year old daughter up from school.  Now, I got there and was only five minutes late (and I wasn't the last mom for pick up either!).  But still, this was something that I have never done.  I try to be early and to stay on schedule.  This week our entire week has been off.  We were away all weekend, so I have been playing catch up around the house (I'm not complaining!  That is just how it is!).  It is also the last week of Pre-School for my three little ones and we have be operating on an alternate schedule.  Normally I pick my daughter up at 12pm everyday, except for Wednesday's, then it is 1pm.  This week was different and it has thrown me off! 

Monday after school my 5 year old had a play date, and I picked her up at 2:30pm.  Tuesday after school my daughter had lunch bunch after school and I picked her up at 1pm.  Today I should have also picked her up at 1pm, but lost track of the time!  Somewhere in my head, I remember saying to myself, she had lunch bunch yesterday, so today is Thursday at I pick her up at 12pm.  But I still lost an hour!  This morning was a little busier than normal with the twins. Quick trip to Wegman's and the pharmacy, then was trying to get some stuff done around the house. All of this with a sick twin who needs a little more attention than normal.  This took up most of my morning! I just happened to look up at the clock and it read 12:53pm and I panicked!  I was at school by 1:05pm and my daughter was very happy that she had a few extra minutes to swing!  My daughter was safe.  She was at school with her teachers. 

With the warmer weather upon us, please take a minute to check out Safe Kids.  Not all kids are lucky.  There are way to many children who are forgotten in cars or near water.  This is a great organization that has wonderful tips and articles on their website all about keeping kids safe.  They even have a link for a iPhone baby app reminder!

Have a safe evening!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Beach Week: Then & Now

Back in the day, we would have a "Beach Week".  I went on these trips both in high school (Jersey Shore - had so much fun!  Great group of gals!) and college (Myrtle and crazy!).  After college, I had several friends that I would travel with on a regular basis.  We did do one trip to Florida.  But mainly, we would get together every year on St Patrick's Day and celebrate this in a different city (Chicago & Boston are the best for this!).

This past weekend at the beach with my family, I was eerily surprised at the similarities between this weekend (which was to celebrate my Mom's 70th Birthday - 17 of us all together!) and the trips I went on in my younger days.

First one to the house gets the bed.  Then: Back in college if you didn't get to the rental house first, you did not have a bedroom.  Or, depending on who was there the older girls in the sorority would move your stuff to a closet. Now: We were the last family to the house - first night I started out in a twin bed, then got woken up by my son and switched spots with him and went to the couch, second night I was on the living room floor.

Your food gets eaten, even if it is labeled.  Then: The only thing that was safe to leave in the fridge was salad fixings.  I did leave stuff locked, in my car trunk!  Now:  Brought home leftovers from the big birthday dinner and my husband ate them. (There were so many of us the restaurant gave us a marker to label the "to go boxes".)

Running out of beer.   Then: You could not leave anything around, because someone else would drink it!  Now:  I'm not much of a beer drinker, but we did run out of vodka.  Luckily, Mom did have an extra bottle hidden the the back of a cabinet.

Running out of cash.  Then: All of our money was spent on beer and our share of the rental house.  Now: I don't usually carry cash and the snack bar at the beach did not have the credit card machine up and running.  All I had in my pocket was my bank card.

Calling around to find out where the party is.  Then: We didn't have cell phones (at least I didn't), not quite sure how we managed this.   Now: 100's of calls, texts and emails back and forth trying to figure out our plans.

Coming out in the morning and your car isn't where you parked it (or thought you parked it).   Then: I don't need to go in to details on this!  Now:  My car did get moved because I was blocking someone in!

Getting kicked out of a restaurant.  Then: We did get asked to leave a bar in Boston one St Patrick's Day after a member of our group imbibed too much, this friend later went on to get sick on a table in a restaurant.  Now:  Went to restaurant where the big birthday dinner was to take place to set up and my 5 year old daughter was sick all over floor!

Up all night holding your friend's hair back.  Then: Self explanatory!  Now: Was up all of Saturday night with my 5 year old!  She had some sort of stomach bug.  Poor thing!

I guess it is nice to know that even though you are older, some things don't have to change!  They just have a different "spin"!

Have a great day!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Operation 70

My mom is turning 70 this week, on May 23rd.  This past weekend, we were able to pull off a BIG Birthday Surprise!  My mom lives at the beach in Delaware.  We managed to coordinate 17 people and get everyone there to surprise her. The majority of us were driving in from Northern Virginia, about a 3-4 hour drive.  We did have my one sister come in from California - about a 5-6 hour flight!   (Four kids along with 3 spouses/partners, 9 grand kids and 1 friend - that is a lot of people to herd together and to get them to keep it all a secret too!).    I am still amazed that she had no idea!  There were so many "stories" we had to tell her and so many factors to consider, but it all worked out and she had a great birthday weekend!

We started planning this last year.  Operation 70 evolved into Operation Chaos, then back again to Operation 70 once we pulled it off!  There were hundreds of emails and texts exchanged between my brother, sisters and me.  We were able to surprise our mom three times this weekend!  The first surprise was at a house that was supposedly for sale and she was taking a look at - everyone was hiding in the bedroom, except for my one sister who came in from California.  We had Mom open the bedroom door and did the initial surprise, then we got her to open the pantry door in the kitchen and surprised her again (we stuffed my sister from California in the pantry to hide!)!   Second surprise was the next day at a local area restaurant - she thought she was there to pick up a Groupon (I am still amazed that she knew what this was!) and we got her again!

Pulling off a big surprise is great fun!  Here are some tips to help you keep your own surprise a success!

-Plan ahead - figure out what you want to do and where you want to do it in advance! Also, plan your budget.  Whether it be a weekend away or a surprise party.  Plan as far in advance as possible!

-Keep it under wraps - do the planning in advance but not the telling!  The less people that know the better - this way you won't have to worry about letting anything slip.  We didn't invite my mom's friend until about 2 weeks before hand.  Also, don't tell the kids, especially if they are little.  They won't understand keeping quiet about it and will be so excited that they will spill the beans!

-Divvy things up.  There are four kids in my family.  Each one of us had specific tasks to take care of.  See that cake in the picture up above.  My sister who lives in California made it.  She decorated it to look like the beach and each sea shell she handcrafted in California and carried on the plane in a small cooler bag!

-Keep it real.  You want whatever "story" you come up with to get the honoree there to be believable.  It was very believable that my mom had to stop by and pick up a Groupon for my brother, not believable that she would go out and have a drink at a restaurant before dinner. 

I hope the surprise you plan is a huge success!  Have a great day!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

This Mama Can Grill!

Grilling, Cooking Out, Barbecue - called different things depending on where you live, but pretty much all mean the same thing!  When most people think of cooking on the grill the first thing that probably comes to mind is a Dad doing the cooking (maybe while wearing a crazy kiss the cook apron!).  This is not always the case in our house.  By default (because I am the one at home) I do most of the cooking.  If I don't, my children will not eat.   Now, my husband will tell you that he is the better cook in the house.  When we were first married this definitely used to be the case.  Not any more!  My husband will also tell you that he loves to cook and finds it very relaxing.  (What he won't tell you is that on weekends, when he does the cooking the kids are not in the kitchen with him.  So who wouldn't be relaxed - no kids and a cocktail in hand!  No brainer!)  I do not find cooking to be relaxing.  I find it to be a necessity.  The kids need to eat and it is my job to provide them with a well balanced meal that they will eat. 

Last year I discovered grilling.  This is almost relaxing!  I love not having the mess in the kitchen, the pots and pans to wash and my kitchen getting hot from the oven.  I was always a little intimidated by the grill - the whole fire safety thing and food safety.  I wasn't quite sure how long to cook things and what to cook.  Well, you can cook just about anything and I do. I have this wonderful cook book (that I got for free from Sam's Club at a membership event) that has a little chart in it with the estimated grilling times and correct temperature for various items.  I also have started using a meat thermometer.  My husband has a fancy electronic one, I use the "old fashioned one".  Gage on a stick and check the temperature number on my chart to make sure it is cooked all the way.  Here are the biggest tips I can give you on grilling: 

1) Spray your non-stick spray BEFORE turning the grill on

2) Do not use a plastic spatula to flip any item on the grill

3) Brush your BBQ Sauce on towards the end of cooking time

I'm not a fan of cooking shrimp or fish on the grill.  My fish always seems to fall a part (yes, I have tried wrapping it in foil) and my shrimp usually are over cooked or under cooked.  I like to cook things on the grill that don't require a lot of attention.  Throw on, set the timer, turn, set timer and remove!  This way the kids and I can enjoy being out on the deck and play safely away from the grill.  I also like to cook vegetables on the grill - peppers, onions, corn, asparagus.  You name it we can grill it!  We have done pizzas on the grill and have done kabobs on the grill - both traditional with veggies and meat and fruit.  Pineapple kabobs taste great drizzled with honey. One of my kids favorite things that I grill are turkey burgers.  Last night I grilled pork chops, tonight I plan on grilling some chicken.  Please post in the comments section below some of your favorite things to grill along with marinades or rubs that you use.

Thanks & have a great day!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Pickin' Time

Entrance at Wegmeyer Farms

My family and I spent yesterday afternoon at the strawberry patch!  The weather was perfect and the kids had a great time.  Even my seven year old, who started out not wanting to go, picked some berries and had fun (though I know he will never admit it!).  We went late in the afternoon, which is not the ideal time to pick.  It is best to get there early in the morning, when it is still cool and before all the crowds.  The farmer told us that yesterday was one of the busiest days they had so far for the season and took a few minutes to show my kids how to search way down at the bottom of the plants for berries and to only pick the berries that are entirely red.  The berries that still were white on the bottom were not ready.  My kids really followed these "rules" and did a great job picking!  It was nice to hear the little conversations they had with each other, especially the twins, discussing if the berry was ready or not.  In Virginia, May is when the strawberries come in.  Most of our local farms are running a few weeks ahead of schedule, due to all of the warm weather we have been having and our mild winter.

Our Strawberries!

In Loudoun County, our favorite farms to go to are:

Wegmeyer Farms, Hamilton, VA - this is our favorite spot to pick Strawberries!  They have recently added on other types of berries and pumpkins.

Crooked Run Orchard, Purcellville, VA - this our favorite spot for apples, peaches and pears!

Great Country Farm, Bluemont, VA - this is a great spot to go picking!  They have different items available each month and have an excellent calendar posted on their website.  The farm also offers live music on weekend and different seasonal festivals throughout the year.  They do charge an admission fee, but also have a large playground, live animals, miniature golf and a cow train.

This coming weekend is the Loudoun County Spring Farm Tour.  It is a great way to see all the different items that are grown locally and a wonderful time to see working farms that might not be open to the public.  If you go, bring a cooler!  Many of the farms will sell fresh eggs, cheese, butter and organic beef/chicken. 

The next few days we are going to have rain.  The kids and I are planning on finding some recipes and putting our freshly picked strawberries to use!  If you have any tried and true strawberry recipes please feel free to share & post in the comments section below!  We are going to attempt to make jam and maybe some sort of cookie bar.  My kids love seeing where their food comes from and being involved in the preparation and cooking process when we are at home!

Have a great day!

Friday, May 11, 2012

First Mother's Day

I received my first Mother's Day card in the mid nineties (I need a fact checker for the the exact year - I think it was '95?!).  It was from my oldest niece, who was a baby at the time.  I am her God Mother and it was a special card that I still have.  My first "Mother's Day" brunch was also spent with my niece.  Her parents were away and I was watching her.  When she was born I was still in college and I had the privilege of being her "nanny" two days a week and would spend time babysitting for her whenever I could.  This one time fell over Mother's Day weekend and my niece and I, who I believe was one or two at the time, took my Mother (her Grandmother) for brunch at a local Irish restaurant.  I know that everyone in the place though I was very young, single mother!  When the hostess came around passing out flowers to all the Mom's I politely returned mine, explaining that I was just her Aunt.  She gave it right back and said that Aunt's are important too!  My niece is now a junior in high school and it has been a pleasure watching her grow up into a beautiful, talented young woman.

My first Mother's Day as a Mom was in 2005.  I had one baby at the time and my oldest was four months old.  I'm sure there were presents and flowers from my husband and son (I'm know they were great - I don't remember! Sorry!).  But I do remember it being a beautiful, perfect, sunny May day.  We were living in Arlington, VA at the time, a few miles outside Washington, DC.  The three of us went to lunch in DC at Charlie Palmer's.  I remember being a nervous and tired new mom.  Trying to feed the baby his bottle at the table and hoping he wouldn't make a "fuss" in this nice restaurant.  I also remember our walk after lunch -  pushing my son in his stroller around the grounds of the US Capitol.

Motherhood is scary and wonderful and horrible (sore boobs and stretch marks!) all at once.  It is also one of the greatest gifts.  This weekend, Mother's Day will be spent with my four children and my husband.  I have plans to play Tennis in the morning, then we will go to brunch and hopefully strawberry picking in the afternoon.  I am hoping to have a quiet and relaxing day!

I would like to wish all Moms and Mom "Figures" (you know who you are - Aunties, God Mother's etc.) and very Happy Mother's Day!  I hope that you have a wonderful, relaxing day filled with Blessings and Love.

January 13, 2005 - when I became a mom

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Connect Four

Connect Four was a game that I loved playing as a kid.  I remember playing this with my sisters.  One of my kids received this game as a birthday present last year and now it is fun to play with them!

Nowadays  I "play" Connect Four a different way, and it is definitely something I strive to do each day!  My Connect Four is connecting with each of my four children.  We always do things together as a family, but I do try each day to connect separately and individually with each child.   It is important for the child to have that one on one attention and I like my kids.  (Most of the time!)  We all have our moments when we drive everyone crazy, but in addition to loving my children, I like them.  I like spending time with them and getting know what they are thinking and how their day was.  The kids enjoy this time too.  With a big family, it is very common to get lost in the shuffle or feel like one of the kids always gets to "pick" what show we are watching, the game we are playing and the book we are reading (I know this is also why my house is so loud - everyone wants to  be heard!).  This one on one time helps to validate each child and hopefully they will know that their thoughts and ideas are important and heard.

Last night when my husband got home from work, I had on my Nike's, grabbed my ipod and was ready to head out the door (before he even put his stuff down!).  My youngest was already asleep and my two "middle" kids were off playing Barbies (this will be a dedicated post in the near future - my 3 year old son loves to play Barbies - a lot of time he does rip their heads and legs off, but every now and then he will ask me to change their clothes!).  My oldest son came up and asked if he could come with me.  I did have a moment of hesitation as I really wanted some "me" time, but did respond, sure why not!  I shoved my ipod in my pocket and we quietly snuck out through the garage!  I am so happy that he came with me.  We had a great talk and I was able to get a glimpse of the young man he is becoming. (He will always be my baby!).  He also challenged me a little.  We walked further than my "normal" route and during our walk, we had three races (I won one, he one one and we had one tie!  This mom still can move!).  I don't normally run on my walks and really enjoyed our sprints!  I also loved hearing about his day, what he did at school, his Christmas List (yes it is only May!) and the Hockey team he is following in the finals (Go Caps!). We also made plans to run in the neighborhood Memorial Day Fun Run.

The one on one time doesn't need to be elaborate, it can be doing a puzzle, coloring, reading a story, going for a walk or helping in the kitchen.  My 3 year old son was in the kitchen with me last night while I was making dinner (Taco Night!).  He set the table by himself and we talked about all the taco ingredients and what he likes and does not like.  He likes tacos, but not the meat - he ended up eating a taco shell filled with lettuce & black olives!

Please share some of the fun one on one things you do with your kids!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Circle of Moms Contest

Hi everyone! My Blog has been nominated to the Top 25 Moms of Multiples - 2012 list on Circle of Moms! Please use the link below to vote for my blog! Thank you!


Circle of Moms Top 25 Contest     

A Special Message

To my friends, followers and fellow moms of multiples who no longer have their child/children with them in the physical world on Earth, I would like to wish you a very Happy Mother's Day. YOU are their Mother.  God Bless.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Laundry Baskets - multiple uses, when you have multiples+

Snow Babies

One of our many ways to use a laundry basket!  As a SLED!

In our house, laundry baskets have many, many uses.  Of course, they are used to hold and transport the never ending piles of laundry!  But, very often they are commandeered (or just swiped when I'm not looking) and put to better use!

One of my most favorite ways we have ever used a laundry basket was as an impromptu sled!  The twins were not quite one yet, and we had some unexpected snow.  Lots and lots of unexpected snow.  Living in Virginia we don't really have all the cold weather "gear" on hand like our friends up North!  I wanted the babies to be able to experience the snow for the first time.  I knew that there was no way my stroller would get through it.  I also knew that I could not hold both babies and still watch and play with my then three year old.  So, I got out a laundry basket! We piled in the quilts, added the babies and more quilts on top and off we went!

Another way I loved using the laundry basket with the twins was as a choo-choo train.  I would put a soft blanket down, add the babies and the older kids and I would push them around the room. (very slowly and carefully!).  The babies loved it -  both the movement and watching their older brother and sister.  They would laugh and laugh!

Now a days, it is the kids who are taking the laundry baskets and letting their imaginations soar.  Just yesterday, one of my smaller baskets was turned upside down and used as a turtle shell, then it was a dog crate. (the "puppy" (baby B) was being trained and liked to eat cat food!).   This kept the twins occupied for almost an hour.  I was actually able to get a lot of laundry folded and put away during this time!  The larger laundry baskets are turned upside down and converted to: cafe tables, school desks, exam room tables for people and pets, triplet strollers and hotel front desks!

I do have some other more "practical" uses for laundry baskets!  We use them to store toys.  I have also used them when packing - when going to the beach or other vacation rentals, use the baskets to put your sheets, towels, etc. in and you are ready to go when you get there!

What are some of the things that your kids do to "convert" everyday household items?

Have a great evening!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Lost in Translation

Very often I need to act as a translator for my twins.  They are three and my daughter (Baby B) can be very shy and soft spoken and has a little, tiny "minnie mouse" voice.  My children all understand one another and 99% of the time I can understand all of them, too.  When I can't, I will ask one of my older two - what did she just say?  and with a big sigh, they tell me.  But very often, friends, extended family and even their dad get that blank look on their face and nod pleasantly at one of the kids, then ask me later - "what did he/she just say?"  

Part of the challenge is that the twins are three and don't have clear voices yet, part of the challenge is that my kids have funny made up names for things or use the "wrong" name.  Some are easy to figure out, and almost a kind of short hand, others not so much! For example, my three year old son calls doughnuts bagels.  He doesn't like eating real bagels and has no interest in them, but put one of his "bagels" with sprinkles in front of him and he will make it disappear!  Apple Juice is  "ap-ap", Milk is "milkey", Lemonade is "lemon", Cookies are "cook-cooks" and Pretzels are "pretzys", and  Kisses are "kissey -kisses".  I know that some parents are probably reading this and shuddering!  It doesn't bother me, they are three and they are cute and they are little.  I know that they will grow up and grow out of it.   My 7 year old and 5 year old use the correct words and get embarrased by their younger siblings! But, I am going to enjoy their "kissey-kisses" as long as I can!

This morning though they stumped me.  The three little ones were getting ready for school.  I sent them into the bathroom to wash hands and brush teeth while I made their beds.  My son came out of the bathroom as proud as can be and said "look mommy, we all brushed our teeth and we used the same toothbrush."  I tried to not be grossed out and gently explained that it was important for everyone to have their own tooth brush.  His respone was,  "no silly" and pulled me in the bathroom.  Sure enough they all used the same toothbrush......lined up nicely in the toothbrush holder were three of the exact same toothbrushes!  My little man new exactly whose toothbrush belonged to whom and who used which one! (They even put their tooth brushes back AND put the top back on the tooth paste tube! Not bad for two three - year olds and one five year old!  For this I can overlook the big pink toothpaste globs in the sink any day!).

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Being Prepared

Our house often resembles one of those insurance commercials with Mayhem wreaking havoc everywhere!  Four kids keeps us very busy and on the go!  Between school, homework, play dates, ballet, lacrosse and tennis, some days I don't know if I am coming or going!

In order to help me stay sane and make sure the kids have what they need for each activity I try to always be prepared!  This doesn't always work out - there have been times when it seems like we "live" out of the van and I open up the back to find a replacement for whichever item got forgotten - I have sent my son to LAX practice with warm bottles of water from the back of the van, my daughter to school with another kids sweatshirt that was found in the back of the van, taken my other daughter into the store with another kids shoes found in the back of the van, fixed both girls hair in the school parking lot with pony tail holders and bows found in cup holders and on van floor!  We make it work and it is only temporary.  For the most part, it is not an everyday occurrence. We do have one hard rule - no eating anything that was left in the back of the van, on the van floor or in the cup holders!  There have been times when I have made one of the kids spit out an old cookie or piece of gum that they quickly spot and shove in their mouth.  Yes, this is true, it has happened and I know it is gross!

Here are some tips that work for me:

Do as much as you can the night before! 
This includes: packing lunches, giving kids their baths or shower, homework, getting clothes out for the next day, getting out whatever item the kids need for the next day (library books, filling & chilling water bottles, uniforms, etc), getting back packs, coats and shoes together.

Make it easy!
In our front hall closet I have a large plastic storage bin.  All of the kids coats, sweatshirts etc. get put in this bin.  I don't have to worry about hanging things up and the kids can get out/put away what they need.  I do make sure that the bin contains clothing for the correct season.  Very often the inside of the closet looks like the bin exploded  - but don't open my closets and I won't open yours!  Having a bin also makes it easy to "scoop" the contents back inside.  In our front hallway we have a "shoe bench".  Crate & Barrell Storage bench with lid - kids shoes are stored in it.  Again, the kids can take out/ put away their own shoes.

Have a spot!
Have one spot and always keep certain items in that spot.  My oldest son wears glasses, we make sure that at the end of the day, he takes off his glasses and puts them in the same spot.  This way in the morning we know exactly where they are.  Early on in the school year he missed the bus 1x because he couldn't find his glasses.  Since we started this system, it has not happened again.  I also always keep my purse, sunglasses, keys and the kids' backpacks in the same spot.  We use hooks & baskets - doesn't look too bad and hides & stores our "stuff"!  We also always use the same spot in our garage for storing tennis racquets and LAX equipment.

Keep it in your Car!
If all else fails, just keep it in your car.  This works great for ballet shoes and sports equipment that are only used at the specific activity.  This way you always have it!  I also have a few items in my car "just in case" - a tote bag that has a change of clothes for each kid, my trusty bucket, a first aid kit, a blanket and some bottled water.  Because you just never know!

Have a great day!  Please share some of your tips that help you and your family to be prepared!