Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Isabella...wow!

So Isabella is blowing my mind! That child can actually tell me the letters in almost any word I give her. While we were in the lobby during Abby's dance class today, I asked her to spell several words in a book we were reading. She spelled like 10 words right with only one mistake. I was astounded. Isabella oftentimes flies under the radar because she doesn't make a big deal out of what she knows. Big sister on the other hand always wants to show what she knows to everyone. She tells total strangers what she can spell and read. Not Isabella. She's just been quietly absorbing bits and pieces. I am so proud of her! Tonight we did a few more words. She got every letter right except M which she identified as N. Close enough.

Just had to brag on my Bella. She also knew her Bible verse today and told me that she obeyed in dance class. She also told me that she was going to choose to obey me this morning. I think her wheels are turning alot lately! Good job, Bella!

From flowers to dirt

So last week we came home from preschool, and the girls immediately ran into the yard to play. Abby came scurrying back with a small flower (I think from a weed) and gave it to me as a gift. Well, always the imitator and never to be outdone, Isabella gives me a leaf and says, "Here's a leaf for you because I love you." Then Ali Kate of course has to join in. So she scoops up some mulch and says, " I have a gift for you. Here's some dirt." How precious to remember. They each gave me the best gifts they could find because they love their mama. So I put a purple flower, a leaf, and some mulch in my pocket to keep them safe and sound. Yes, I did clean out my pockets before laundering! Aren't my girls precious?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Multiple Kid Mondays... Record Your Memories



So I thought I'd blog about birthday parties after last Thursday's MOMS lunch discussion, but I decided instead to blog about memory keeping. This is definitely inspired by Big Al. Yes, we do call our beautiful blonde daughter Big Al from time to time. Ali Kate is short enough, but Big Al is a term of affection. Anyway, she's a talker...and lately she's been trying to put abstract concepts together. She's known hundreds of words for several months now (she just turned 2 in January), but she's beginning to put together abstract concepts. Well, today I was teaching her about open and close in regards to the elevator at preschool when we were dropping of A and I. Since then, everything has been "closed" this morning. When I tried to tickle her tummy, I said, "Ali Kate, show me your tummy." She said, "No, it's closed." At lunch she didn't have her chair scooted out far enough to climb into it, and she said in total exasperation, "My chair is closed!" So I fixed it of course.

Things like these are what I want to remember. Like when I put her down for nap a few minutes ago, she said, "I don't want to take a nap." Then came my daily response to her daily comment, "We always take a nap after lunch." Then she so sweetly said, "But I sirus." (That's toddler speak for "I'm serious.") I had to keep from laughing at her while I put her in her bed.

When you have four tiny kids, your days fly by before you know it. Then when you look up, your oldest daughter is starting kindergarten (I can not believe this even as I type it). So I've really been trying to keep up with the things I don't want to forget. How?

Well, there are always the standard birthday videos, school pictures, etc. We of course do all of those things. But I also scrapbook (albeit only once every couple of months). I used to keep my kids their own journals where I wrote them love letters and talked about what they were doing, saying, etc. Now I blog and write tidbits here and there. My scrapbooking has gone from mostly birthday parties and celebrations to pages about each child at a particular age. I really try to record funny quotes (like today's little post), funny stories, mispronunciations, things they say about friends, how big they were, etc. Those are the things I love to remember.

My new idea is that I'm going to get each child a new journal with no promises about how often I'll write. (My perfectionist self always has a tendency to set unrealistic goals like "I'll write in them daily...) With four kids, really? Highly unlikely. Totally unlikely. And I'm not going to write letters. I'm going to just jot down quick quotes, anecdotes, stats (size shoes, weight, height), current friends, etc. I'll do this whenever the fancy strikes. I'm going to probably keep these with my cookbooks on my kitchen counter so that I can grab them and jot down things when I have a few seconds. Especially after listening to Jean on perfectionism last week, I won't be stressing out about entering things daily or even weekly...just whenever I have a chance. Got a doctor's appointment? Just grab a kids' journal or two and write while you're waiting. Waiting for dance class to end? Use a couple of minutes. With the old journals, I actually tried to journal daily...now talk about stress and unenjoyable (even for someone like me who likes to write). I can't fathom trying to keep four daily journals for all of my kids. So the relaxed, do-it-as-you-can approach is the way to go!

Now you better believe that there will be some serious journaling and serious scrapbooking of Abby starting kindergarten! If you're reading this Jean, I need that releasing talk again! :)

Anyway, with four kids...I always have a new anecdote or crazy story. Our life borders on insane sometimes! And I want to remember these days. When my house is empty and has really clean carpets with Sharpee-free walls in the hallway and stain-free laundry to do in only two hampers...I want to sit down on my nicely upholstered sofa and flip through journals, scrapbooks, and videos. Until then, I'll be making memories with my kiddos in my new home with Ali's Sharpee artwork on the front hallway and a stack two feet high of stain-treat laundry on the dryer. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Want to post your ideas about memory-keeping or anything about your life with multiple kids? Join in. Just put your name below and link back to your blog entry. You are more than welcome to use my button if you'd like. I can't wait to read your entries!

Yay!

I'm getting so excited. Matt and I are actually getting close to launching my stationery business, and I can't wait! We have printed several designs, and Matt's been working on my website. We just bought the domain name last week, and we're putting together the nuts and bolts. Papers, envelopes, stickers, and bag tags have arrived....ready to be printed with my own original designs. I still have some ordering to do (packaging supplies, ribbons, etc.)...this is so much fun! We've probably bitten off just a bit much, but we'll take it a little at at time. It's been a great opportunity to collaborate on a creative project together. This is the first undertaking like this we've done together, and it's been lots of fun. I've enjoyed tackling something other than dishes with Matt! I'll have to keep you posted as we get closer to the grand opening! YAY!

Gotta go to bed now...I've been up since 4:45 since we had the scary night with Abby. I thought I'd crash early tonight, but I've been wired. Hopefully I won't oversleep tomorrow and rush them kids off to preschool but rather have a slow, peaceful morning. We missed church today since we were up with Abby all night and since her body was so out of whack blood sugar wise (no way she would have been able to go to Sunday School or Children's Worship)...so today felt so long. We had a whole day with nowhere to be which is just odd for our weekends. We rested alot and just spent time as a family. We've got a bustling week ahead with doctor appointments, garage sale prep, errands to run, parties to attend, dance, preschool programs...a full week for sure. Gotta sleep and get geared up! LAter!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Parenting 24/7

Oh, the joys of life with diabetes. Many thanks to Matt for staying up until 4:45 this morning to keep a watchful eye over Abby. We had a major blood sugar issue last night, and we knew we had to check her blood sugar at least once an hour all night long. We both heartily agreed that we needed to take shifts to make sure that she got checked because we knew that we'd miss a reading if we slept and just set alarms. Matt and I both volunteered to stay up for the first 4 hours (we were already up at midnight doing various projects). He said he really thought he could make it, so I took the next shift (4 a.m. until...). We work better that way. e can pull an all-nighter and crash. Just let me sleep for 4 hours, and I can get up for the day. Not that we usually live like this. But with four kids, you have these nights when they are sick, are injured, or have bad blood sugar scares. So Matt checked her once an hour (blood sugars all good actually), and he actually stayed up until 4:45 (thanks for the extra 45 minutes of sleep). Since I'd gotten 4.5 hours, I was good to go. So here's the early a.m. blog! I'm not a part of the early bloggers club.

I'm so thankful our prayers were answered with Abby's blood sugars. I prayed fervently over her last night, and God listened. She's been fine all night, and she's slept well...never knowing that her parents were up crazy hours tending to her. God does that for us. And I know from first hand experience that although it's hard...you do it when you love someone (and because you know they need it). Thank God that He does that for us!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Learning Their Love Languages



So I've really been trying to focus on meeting my kids' needs through their "love languages" (see Gary Chapman's materials for more details). All of my kids need different things from me in different degrees. And of course at such young ages, what they need most now will most likely be very different in a few years or even just a few months.

I've learned that Isabella is my "words of affirmation" chick. She has to have LOTS of encouraging words. All kids need plenty of doses of affirmation. This chick needs about four times the normal dose. And a single harsh word is a major blow to her. In fact, she notices when I compliment one child and not her. For example, this morning Abby wore a beautiful new Strasburg dress to church (It was a $142 dress that I got for like $27 on the clearance rack!). When she got dressed, I told her how beautiful she was in her new dress. Isabella IMMEDIATELY said, "I don't look pretty in my dress." Well, of course Isabella looked pretty. She could model for any children's company easily...have you seen those blue eyes? And she does have her photo up in a local boutique...so yes, she's pretty! Anyway, I immediatelyl complimented how pretty she looked in her pink dress. While I know she needed that, she did still complain that she didn't have the same dress as Abby. Definitely a preschooler! No older child would be begging to match her sister! I remember begging my mom not to match my younger sister and I once we got older.

Abby is my quality time chick. She could spend HOURS with me shopping, Ebaying, folding clothes, creating stationery designs, cutting shrubs, you name it. She just wants to be with me. It doesn't matter what I'm doing. She wants me and just me. She loves to be affirmed, receive gifts, etc. but nothing speaks to her like quality time does. She gets that from her dad! He's the same way. So with Abby I have to be very intentional to carve out time for us to just hang out. Oftentimes that means involving her in the household affairs while the other 3 sleep. She loves it. We also go on "dates" once in a while just the two of us. And it's not just me...she loves to invest in time with Matt too. I love that. I found her tonight snuggled up on the couch with Matt just loving on him. Oh, I treasure these days!

Ali Kate's love language I'm still working on. She seems to need a little bit of everything. Physical touch may be hers. She is my snuggly bug. She always has a lovey, usually her dog Chuzzy or Ruf Ruf. She loves to nestle against my shoulder and suck her thumb. I can hold her in my arms and just sway her. The funny thing? As a baby, she was not a snuggly one at all. My how times have changed! She's the kid who always wants Mama to hold her and to sit with her. When I actually do sit during the day, you can usually find Ali Kate in my lap or on top of me!

And my Grant just loves attention....hugs, kisses, googoo eyes, coos, whatever he gets. He's in that goo goo eye phase where he coos at you, and I just love it! This is such a fun stage with him! I try to make sure that he gets some snuggle time every day when the others are off doing something else.

Ok, so I had no idea this post would be this long...but I'm a talker. And so are my girls...making for lots of words in this house each day. Poor Matt and Grant. Anyway, the point of it all...I try to make sure that I'm depositing daily into my kids what each kid most needs. Do I always make the mark? Absolutely not. But I keep trying. And I keep learning. And I also speak to their other needs...Isabella will enjoy that tomorrow when I send her some chocolate chip cookies as a suprise in her lunch box to school (the language of gifts).

Thanks for joining my 3rd Multiple Kids Mondays. I hope you're enjoying this! Please join in and post whatever you want about your life with multiple kids.

You can add my banner to your post by copying the code below:

<a href="http://mommytimesfour.blogspot.com/2009/03/multiple-kid-mondayheaping-mountains-of.html"><img style="display:block; margin:0px auto 10px; text-align:center;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 320px; height: 193px;" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_C0lq74xCuJo/Sb19lp6olDI/AAAAAAAAAcU/qMFk3w6DwX0/s320/finalmultiplekids.BMP" border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5313541221227467826" /></a>

Redneck Fun Matt Style

Oh, I just have to blog this. I only wish I had video to go with it. So I've been doing lots of landscaping this week (i.e. cutting back lots of shrubs that were in dire need of attention), and today Matt helped cut the tops that I couldn't reach. Yes, they were that high! I'm ashamed even as I type this. I do have four kids though, so I cut myself some slack. Anyway, I did a little more pruning after he trimmed their tops this afternoon. So after we grabbed dinner, Matt got out the blower to blow the last tiny pieces off the driveway. Well, Isabella was riding her tricycle in circles around the bottom of the driveway. Matt decides for no apparent reason that it would be fun to blow her with the blower. She LOVED it! He just aimed that thing right at my baby, and she squealed with delight as her hair blew straight up! And to calm everyone's nerves (including my own), let me note that she was several feet away...no danger of getting blown away or having something blown into her eye. Well, he did this a couple of times (to her delight) before mean ole Wendy insisted that this just had to be dangerous (hey, there could be flying rocks or debris involved) and that the redneck fun had to cease. Just plain ole trike riding the rest of the day. While I'll probably never let them do that again, I just had to record for memory's sake my technological husband's bit of redneck fun!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

St. Louis Zoo

 


A very kind lady offered to take this photo of me and the kids at the St. Louis Zoo. We were stopped for a minute for one of the approximately 2,890 stops we made that day. You know the ones...stops to tie a shoe, give a pacifier, change a diaper, go potty, check blood sugar, fix a hairbow, eat a snack, eat lunch, change a diaper, give some juice, hold a crying baby, change a diaper. You get the picture. I took the kids solo to the zoo while Matt was in a No Fluff conference for work. We had a great time once we made our way into the zoo. That zoo is HUGE! We were there for 6 and a half hours, and we still didn't see everything. We made reservations for the Imagination Station (I don't know if that's the right name but that's what we called it) where they have a huge play center similar to a children's museum. It was awesome. That was everyone's favorite part. They did water play, sand play, arts and crafts, puppets, gardening, and more. Grant just looked at everyone and absorbed his surroundings! We did fine until we had to leave and Abby dropped to 35, Ali Kate was screaming, and I had to shuffle four tiny kids into a crowd so that we could leave (You have to leave at scheduled times). We had a really rough 15 minutes or so while I tried to stabilize Abby while somehow not lose the other three kids in the crowd. Somehow we managed to pull it all back together and have a WONDERFUL afternoon after that.


We got to see Sally, the camel, who did indeed have two humps.





Posted by Picasa


We also got to see kangaroos for the first time in my 29 years on this earth. I think I was more excited than the kids. No pictures though because I was having to keep Ali Kate and Isabella from climbing into the kangaroo exhibit. Literally!

A sample of Abby's Poetry

 


At the Magic House in St. Louis, they had a Poetry Tree where you could "tie" your poetry leaves to the branches. Here's the poem that Abby wrote. It touched my mama's heart. I let the other two "write" their poems (i.e. scribble pictures), and we tied their poems to the tree too. This was probably the most serious part of our Magic House adventure. I've got to blog about and post some pictures of this Children's Museum. It was awesome!
Posted by Picasa

Future President?

 
Posted by Picasa


I think a Presidential Office may be in the future for Miss Abby Stine! Doesn't she look so at home behind the official seal?

This little lady is already on her way to such things. Let me just take a mama minute to brag on my baby girl! Abby not only can read just about anything that you put before her, but she is writing books now. For fun, she takes a notepad and her fancy plumed pen into the car when we're running errands or going somewhere long distance (which is over 5 miles for the kids). She will think up a story and ask me how to spell words she doesn't know. Together we've written 3 books I think now. She is totally into the way words come together. It's incredible watching her wheels turn when she's figuring something out. That kid is bright! I mean bright! Not only does she have a perfect memory but her ability to pick up material is staggering! She now reads signs, menus, books, whatever she sees. It's awesome!

Anyway, I just had to brag and record this for posterity. One day I'll want to read about my Pre-K novelist! And one day I may need written proof that I taught the President how to read and write!

Yard Work1

The girls and I spent an hour and half in the front yard trimming hedges while Grant napped this morning. A good way to get the house quiet for his nap and to use our free day. Boy did we work! I didn't realize how HUGE some of our shrubs had gotten until my arms began to ache from so much trimming. The girls (one with a happy heart, two without) scooped up the trimmings and bagged them for me. I was glad to have some helping hands. Many hands make for lighter work...that's for sure. We managed to get all but the tops of two of our largest pieces. I was way too scared to climb any higher on the ladder without adult supervision :) And we need some loppers (I think that's the name of the clippers that cut really thick branches). I bought some new hedge clippers, but I couldn't bring myself to spend the money on the other ones too while I was at Lowe's yesterday. I'm wishing now I'd spent the money. Anyway, our yard looks a little more loved today. Now Matt gets to RoundUp the flower beds this weekend so that we can do some heavy weeding. Planting may come next week. I only wish I enjoyed this stuff. I like to plant pretty flowers, but I could care less about the hedges and whatnot. Honestly, I hope no one with any landscaping knowledge looks at my shrubs because I honestly didn't know how to shape each one. I know that different plants should be shaped differently, but I don't know if I did any of them right. Maybe my neighbors don't know either. Let's hope so!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Multiple Kid Monday...Heaping Mountains of Laundry!




For Multiple Kid Monday, I'm going to share my laundry tips. A conversation with some friends at lunch at MOMS Thursday sparked this entry. Caitlyn (I hope I spelled her name right!) was asking me about how I do laundry, clothes shopping, etc. for a large family. So I thought that'd be good material for this week! Caitlyn, this is for you girl!

Here are some lessons I've learned and some things I do to make laundry easier for a family of six...cause you know we have lots of laundry!

1. First of all, we have SEVEN laundry hampers in our home. Each child has their own hamper. Then Matt and I have one for lights, darks, and towels. We used to combine the girls' clothes into one hamper, but this proved to be disastrous for us! I spent what seemed like forever sorting through socks and panties that all looked the same size. I also match my girls' clothes often, so I had to check the tags on everything to figure out which top belonged to which girl. So about a year ago I decided to give each child their own hamper. This has been fabulous. No more sorting through tiny socks and t-shirts. It also makes it easy to use Dreft just for Grant and no one else...saves money! Having clothes already sorted saves valuable time that I saw my own mom waste as she dumped loads and sorted them. Our kids know which hamper is theirs and they all (except Grant of course) dutifully put their clothes in their hampers on the way to the bath. Ali Kate has been doing this since at least 17 months old!

2. If a child stains an outfit (imagine that happening!), we take that outfit DIRECTLY to the laundry room rather than putting it in the hamper. We stack them on the dryer (not so pretty but very practical). Then I can quickly stain treat (We're addicted to Shout Gel and the Clorox pen) and sort clothes back to their owners. This ensures most of the time that clothes with stains don't get overlooked and that I save time by not having to thoroughly look over each item as I begin a wash load.

3. On the topic of stains, I always buy two bottles of Shout Gel and two Clorox pens when I begin to run low. You never know when you'll need more! Some of the girls at MOMS highly recommended Oxyclean Spray...so I'll be checking that out soon.

4. The girls help! My kids LOVE to help with housework with the exception of picking up their toys. Abby in particular will do laundry FOREVER. Even very young kids (age 2-3) can find all the socks, panties, t-shirts, bibs, etc. and put them in piles. Abby can fold towels and washcloths (a skill acquired at age 4). She enjoys this. While they don't help every day or every load, they usually do help put their clothes away. I let them put their stacks into their drawers and carry their hanging clothes to their beds. I then put them in the closet. Great training time for your kids.

5. Do it every day! I rarely miss a day of laundry, and I usually do at least 3 loads a day. Some days lighter, some heavier. I always made a new rule a while back that I will NOT run more loads until I've folded and put away the loads already clean. I don't always abide by this, but it reduces stress and folding pile-up. Nothing is more discouraging than a huge load of laundry waiting to be folded at bedtime.

6. Make it fun. For psychological encouragement, I alternate baby clothes loads and towel loads. Since it takes forever to fold baby clothes and no time to fold towels, I alternate these to keep me sane. If I have to do 3 kid loads in a row, I get so discouraged...my friend Jaki shares this reasoning. It works for us!

Thanks for joining my second hosted Multiple Kids Monday. I'm so excited about our new share day! For guidelines, click here. Have any tips or stories you'd like to share? Join in. I'll close the polls around 8 p.m. to prevent spamming. Thanks and enjoy!

I would love for you to use my banner. To do so, just copy the following HTML code into your post:


<a href="http://mommytimesfour.blogspot.com/2009/03/multiple-kid-mondayheaping-mountains-of.html"><img style="display:block; margin:0px auto 10px; text-align:center;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 320px; height: 193px;" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_C0lq74xCuJo/Sb19lp6olDI/AAAAAAAAAcU/qMFk3w6DwX0/s320/finalmultiplekids.BMP" border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5313541221227467826" /></a>


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Uh Oh

Uh oh! I went to close down the polls for Multiple Kid Mondays, and somehow I deleted the links to both Jean and Ashley's posts. Girls, I'm sorry. I'm figuring out how to moderate this, and I obviously don't know 100% what I'm doing yet. I may have to ask a major blogger rather than novice me! Anyway, for everyone else....I won't delete your links next Monday. I promise!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Works For Me Wednesday

So I thought I'd share an idea we've used off and on over the years for Scripture memory for our family. When a verse hits me during a quiet time that I think our whole family should learn, I have made "place cards" for the dinner table. When Abby was tiny, I included pictures (if applicable) and shortened the verse to an age-appropriate level. We kept them at the kitchen table for several days and would recite them. This is great if you are working on teaching on a specific topic (love, kindness, etc.) and also during holidays to keep the focus on Christ. It's been a while since we've done this...I may just have to start again. You just need sturdy cardstock, pens (or print them), a verse, and place card holders. (You can just fold the cardstock in half so that it stands on its own).

Monday, March 2, 2009

Multiple Kids Mondays....Be flexible!








This picture just sums up what I wanted to share today....be flexible! While I was sending some email a few days ago, the girls were playing with Grant in his room (which is right next to the playroom where I was working). Anyway, they began to giggle wildly, and I got up to see what was so funny. This is what I saw. I almost began to lecture them, but then I had to remind myself how funny this was. He does have 3 older sisters after all (who are all ages 5 and under), so we kind of expect this type of thing from time to time. It's only natural. Anyway, I made a mad dash downstairs to grab the camera. After shooting a couple of pics, I de-feminized my little man. Back to the very male striped outfit that he began in!

With four children, I have learned how to truly be flexible. We oftentimes begin our days with Plan A and end up on Plan D by 9:30 in the morning. My days are constantly "thrown off" by potty accidents, spilled milks, hair pulling, toy dumping, blood sugar drops, and other craziness. And I just roll with the punches. You have to. I make the choice each day and several times throughout the day to be flexible. That means oftentimes being a few minutes late to preschool or church. It means sometimes reading a book while we really need to be getting dressed. If I were inflexible, I would miss so many meaningful moments. I would also stay stressed out and frazzled, neither of which really suit! So on this afternoon instead of lecturing them about how their brother was a boy and that boys don't dress up like girls do, I rolled with the punches...laughed with them...took some fun pictures...and then hid the evidence before Matt got home! :)



Thanks for joining my first hosted Multiple Kids Monday. I'm so excited about our new share day! For guidelines, click here. Have any tips or stories you'd like to share? Join in. I'll close the polls around 8 p.m. to prevent spamming. Thanks and enjoy!




Posted by Picasa

Sunday, March 1, 2009

SNOW!

 


So this is what Isabella looked like only 4 days after the picture in the previous post. Yes, we have crazy weather. It was above 70 on Wednesday, and it snowed all afternoon Saturday and into the night. This picture was taken today in our backyard. With Grant inside napping, the rest of us headed outdoors to enjoy several inches of snow. Big deal here! We threw snowballs, built a snow girl, and attempted to sled down the hill on a used computer monitor box. That's what Isabella is doing here. We played outside for about an hour and had a blast! Finally I had to go indoors because Ali Kate had tired of the snow. She wanted to eat. Imagine that. We then all shed our wet clothes and wore PJs the rest of the day as we played and did household projects! Matt got tons done on my website for my stationery company, and I did tons of household laundry and organizing. The snow was beautiful and lots of fun. We needed a day like today!
Posted by Picasa

My Darling Bella

 


Would you ever have guessed that this sweet girl had just come home from preschool on a day when she'd been sent to the director TWICE in one day? I mean, look at that sweet face. Isabella had a very rough day at preschool. So rough in fact that when I picked her up, she immediately looked into my eyes and said, "I had a bad day at school." Oh, my heart broke. I thought it'd be years before I heard words like that! Poor thing just can't stop talking during learning time and nap time. I totally understand. Sometimes Matt tells me to be quiet when it's midnight and I won't stop talking. Her problem is genetic. I don't think she can help it! Oh, I have to find the humor in it or I'll just go crazy! Anyway, I had to have a good excuse to post this picture of Isabella. I bought this outfit last spring and was so excited to put her in it for school Wednesday. Now you'll have to see in the next post what she wore a few days later! Something a bit warmer.
Posted by Picasa