Saturday, February 25, 2012

Unwelcome Guest

    The stomach flu inspires you to sprint to the bathroom not knowing which way to turn until after you arrive.  It takes over the household refusing to be ignored.  The flu became an unwelcome guest in our home several days ago and appears to have settled in.  We are hoping for a speedy exit, but so far, to no avail. It has insisted on been spending quality time with me and the babies.  Fortunately, it has ignored Greg.
     When I got married, during times of illness, I began to take care of my husband Greg, in the way he remembered his Mom taking care of him.  I make him grilled cheese sandwiches and soup just like his Mom did whenever he gets sick.  My Mom invented a potato soup when I had my wisdom teeth out that I crave when I get sick.  Cooked peeled potatoes are combined in the blender with vegetable broth and some parmesan cheese.  I made this for myself in order to have the energy take care of our four sick babies while I, too, am sick. 
     The babies do not understand that they are sick.    Adults take on more of a sick persona which has an underlying quality of misery.  Commercials for flu remedies demonstrate this look very well when they show how someone looks before the medicine.   The babies, who do not have that interpretive overlay of illness, vacillate between laughing and crying with equal fervor.  Their giggles in the midst of the flu help to prevent me from adopting a sick persona.  I do not have time for that.

    Getting Hydrated:

     Instead, I have focused on keeping the babies hydrated and content.  The soiled sheets and clothes are whisked away and washed. The babies have their routine of meals, play time and nap time.  Extra hugs and cuddles are given.  Their giggles and cuddles take care of me while I take care of them.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Frozen Peas

     While I was looking around on an online forum, I came across a discussion about feeding frozen peas to toddlers.  There were many toddlers who enjoyed frozen peas and would not eat them any other way.  I was intrigued.  It never would have occurred to me to give the babies uncooked frozen peas.  Grayson has been getting picky lately and does not like things that squish in his mouth, like peas, oranges or berries.  It was worth a try.

You can see the ice crystals clinging to the peas.

     First, I tried the petite frozen peas.  I figured that I cannot expect them to eat them if I won’t. They were not bad.  I imagine they might even be refreshing on a hot summer day. There was a pleasant cold sensation followed by a tiny burst of sweetness.  Then, I decided to go for the gusto and try them on our pickiest eater.  Grayson made a face when he first popped a pea into his mouth and then, to my astonishment, he smiled.  My pickiest eater liked frozen peas!

Grayson's first impression of frozen peas

I was so excited to see that expression followed by this one!

     Xayden and Ryder were unsure at first and then embraced the frozen peas. Capri thought frozen peas were the bee's knees right from the start.  It is amazing the things you can learn from other parents.  This experiment was a veggie success story.  We will definitely be revisiting frozen peas in our future menus.  I will sneak them in now and then to keep the novelty effect that makes frozen fun.

Capri happily popped the first pea into her mouth.

She enjoyed the frozen sensation.

Ryder contemplated the pea.

He decided that frozen peas were funny.

Xayden seemed dismayed at first.

But, he grew to enjoy the frozen peas.

     I am all about learning from other parents.  Please share your feeding success stories and recipes. If you have a link to something you’ve tried (or want to try), feel free to include it.   As always, comments are welcome.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Second Fiddle

     Before we met, Greg fell in love with a cocker spaniel mix at a local animal shelter.  He adopted him and named him Lucky because he would have otherwise been euthanized.  Before we had kids, Lucky had lots of attention.  He enjoyed daily walks when I was pregnant so that we could both get our exercise
     Once the babies arrived, Lucky was forced to play second fiddle.  The babies needed us twenty-four hours a day and their apnea monitors prevented us from going on walks.  Exercise for Lucky transitioned to solo play in the backyard.  The amount of attention he received was reduced.  He also lost his dog friend, our Pomeranian, how passed away due to age while I was pregnant. 

Lucky feeling unlucky

     Poor Lucky has not been feeling very lucky.  Recently, in the middle of the night, I thought about Lucky and how much his quality of life has changed.  His main advantage in this new situation is that I am home and he is able to go outside more frequently.  His other plus is that the babies are messy eaters and drop food on the floor.  He has enjoyed his new role as resident vacuum cleaner. 
     While we cannot promote him to his previous role in the family, we can make more of an effort to make  him feel special.  Greg often makes pancakes for the babies on Saturdays and Lucky will get his own pancake as his weekend treat.  In a spark of inspiration in my middle of the night contemplation, I decided that, the next day,  I would make him his own batch of pancake treats.  A few minutes before the babies’ nap time, I started to make Lucky’s treats.
     I used two cups of Bisquick baking mix, one can of low sodium broth and two eggs.  The babies were engaged in the play room right next to me.  I had just gotten into my cooking groove, when all four babies appeared at the gate.  Oops.  I had forgotten about nap time.  Their inner clocks remembered.  I left some pancakes to cook in the electric fry pan and took a break to change diapers and put the babies down for a nap.  They were glad I got their message and happily went down for their naps.

Their message was loud and clear.





     When the pancakes were done, I cut them into smaller pieces and baked them in the oven at two hundred degrees for one and one-half hours until they were very crispy.  When the pancake treats cooled, I put them into Lucky’s treat canister.    Lucky enjoyed the extra attention and specially baked treats.   He happily wagged his tail, feeling like first fiddle, lucky once again. 

Lucky treats ready to bake

Lucky happily waiting for a treat

Canister of pancake treats

     I'd love to hear your pet stories or tips about how to make your pets feel special.  As always, comments are welcome.  

Friday, February 17, 2012

Things People Do...

     We stand out when we go places with four babies.  We try to make that the only reason we stand out.  We don’t want to stand out because our kids are flinging food across the room or because they are the loudest babies around.  We plan outings when they are well fed or about to be fed.  We try to make sure they are rested and happy. 
    We have taken the babies out to eat several times in their lives; usually they lay in the strollers while we ate.  This worked very well until the babies figured out that we were eating and they were not.  So, we recently began to have them eat with us.  We go in off-peak hours so that we do not cause a burden to the restaurants as we take up a lot of space.  The first time the babies sat in high chairs, it went surprisingly well.  They were fascinated by their surroundings and enjoyed their kids’ meals.  Our server was wonderful and gave them snacks to tide them over until their meals arrived.  

     The second time we went out to eat with the babies; the owner approached us and offered matchbox cars for the babies.  He asked if they were still too young and we told him yes, but thanked him for the offer.  The babies did pretty well eating at the table.  When it was time to leave, our server told us that the owner had comped us.  We asked him to convey our thanks to the owner who had gone home.  We tipped our server and went on our way, touched by this act of kindness.  The owner made us feel welcome and earned our loyalty.  We will be back.
     Occasionally, I take the babies by myself to the grocery store in the quad stroller.  I pick up a few things in a hand basket because a regular shopping cart is not possible.  On one of these occasions, a woman who spoke very little English handed me ten dollars for diapers.  I refused over and over and she insisted.  Finally, as we were creating quite the scene, I accepted her generous gift.  How amazing for one person to go out of her way to help another family.  She will not be forgotten.  I spent about ten dollars on some diapers for the babies and thought of those diapers as the ones she purchased.  While we have bought hundreds of diapers since that trip to the grocery store, I kept her original ten dollars in a drawer as a reminder of her kindness.  

     Experiences like these inspire us to do for others as the restaurant owner and the woman at the grocery store have done for us.  Random acts of kindness have a domino effect, spreading positive energy one person at a time.
     What nice things have others done for you?  What things have you done for others?  I would love to hear your stories.  As always, comments are welcome.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pudding Party

     What do you do on a gloomy day?

     There is nothing like a pudding party to keep the babies amused.  I put down disposable placemats and used a mixture of chocolate and vanilla pudding.  They had disposable bibs on over their pajamas and it was time to party. 

     The pudding party was followed by a warm bath.  Next, the babies got lotion and finished their party smelling like fresh apples.  Perhaps it isn't such a gloomy day after all.  

     What do you do on gloomy days?  I'd love to hear your stories.  As always, comments are welcome.

Monday, February 13, 2012

My Valentine

     We all come into relationships with our bags packed full of life experiences, good and bad.  Our partners can help us lighten the load of the negative experiences by creating new positive experiences.  Early in my relationship with Greg, I found out that he had been dumped on Valentine’s Day, not once, but twice. Being on the receiving end of a break-up is hard enough without it falling on the day of love.   As a result, he had a sense of dread whenever Valentine’s Day approached.

     At the time, we lived about forty-five minutes away from each other and Greg left for work at 4:30 in the morning.  I set my alarm and drove to his house at 3:00 a.m.  I crept around in the dark and transformed his house and car into a festive Valentine’s display, complete with hearts, a sign and candy.   I wanted to blot out his bad Valentine’s Day memories and for him to feel loved and appreciated.

February 2011

What a difference a year makes.  February 2012

     He was pretty surprised when he left for work at the crack of dawn to find an explosion of hearts everywhere he looked.  He could not believe I had arisen so early to wish him a Happy Valentine’s Day.  Since that time, I make sure he feels the love every February 14th, to lighten his bags a little each year.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Rat a tat tat

     "Rat a tat tat, rat a tat tat."  I turned just in time to feel the spray of imaginary bullets.  The little boy aimed his toy machine gun, complete with sound effects, at everyone in the store aisles.  His Mom walked ahead seemingly oblivious, with his older sister in tow.  The machine gun toy was keeping the boy entertained.  His Mom was able to shop without listening to whining or complaining.  But what kind of message was she sending her son?

     I know it is easier sometimes to ignore a behavior rather than deal with it, but it only postpones the problem and makes it bigger in the end.  Lately, when the babies touch each other too roughly I am working on teaching the word gentle.  I demonstrate gentle touch on them and praise them when they use a gentle touch with each other.  They will not have a toy machine gun for me to let them know that we do not point guns at people.  If they use an imaginary one, however, this discussion will quickly follow.

     I know our children will not have perfect behavior publicly or privately.   They will test boundaries.  They will say or do things in public that will make us cringe.  I just hope we can be there as often as possible to give them gentle guidance and help them make better choices.  I know they will go to school with a version of the rat a tat tat boy.  I hope they choose not to follow.  When they are out of our sight, I hope they choose gentle over rough.

Xayden, Capri, Grayson & Ryder (photos by 3 Cubed Studios)


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Little Boy Haircut

     Many of our babies’ firsts are together.  Their first time eating solids was side by side.  They transitioned to their own cribs together.    Since we have three boys and a girl, I pictured the boys getting their first haircuts together.   It is amazing how many variations there are in a single gene pool.  Grayson has so much more hair and teeth than any of the other babies.   We held off on cutting his hair for a little while, but finally, it was time.  He was starting to look scraggly, from bed head, to swing head, to car seat head.  Yes, it was time. 

Grayson at home before his haircut

In the Barber Shop before his cut

     I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to take Grayson for his first hair cut by myself.  It would not have been the same if I needed to take the quad stroller and the other babies.  I was able to cuddle with Grayson and dote on him while I carried our video camera and regular camera, looking like a dorky Mom.  I could not hide my excitement as we sat and waited at the busy shop.  I eyed the possible seats, an airplane and a red hummer.  I imagined that Grayson might have a meltdown like he did for Santa, and was mentally prepared. 

     When our wait was up, Grayson sat in the red hummer.  The owner of the Barber Shop expertly cut his hair.  Grayson simply sat there looking around, without a single tear.  I stood in front of him capturing his first hair cut on video and in still shots.  I could see the people around us were bemused by all the hoopla over a haircut.  I didn’t care.  I was having a Mama-Son date, something I do not get to do very often. 

     Before my eyes, he transformed from a scraggly car seat head into a little boy with a little boy haircut.  He received a certificate and a lock of hair when he was finished.  These milestones will only happen once.  I want to cherish them all.

At the end, he was ready to go home.

The sun lit up his little boy haircut as he sat in his car seat.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Tribute to Nana

      My Mother-in-law, a preschool teacher, wanted nothing more than to be a Nana to lots of grandchildren.  As soon as we started trying to get pregnant, she was at the stores shopping for baby things.  If you’ve read “Our Story,” you know this took a while.   Our niece, Emma, was the first grandchild to enter her life in 2008 and she was thrilled.  As she looked into Emma’s small face, she smiled with the joy and wonderment a new baby brings.

Papa and Nana admiring Emma at the hospital where she was born

     As time went by, she was a wonderful Nana to Emma.  They spent many hours of quality time together reading stories and playing.  Nana showed her flash cards of different animals until our niece could put adults to shame with her identification of exotic species. 
     When Nana found out about our simultaneous pregnancies, she was so excited.  She spent time with our surrogate at doctor’s appointments and spent time doting on me.  When we made it past the two first trimesters, she breathed a sigh of relief and kept us on prayer chains.  As the birth dates of the babies approached, Nana’s cough which she had always had since I’d known her got worse.
     Near the time of the babies’ births, she was diagnosed with lung cancer.  She kept this information from us until after they were born because she did not want anything to cloud our happy news.  She doted on the babies in the NICU showed them love with her gentle touch.

Nana and Grayson at the NICU

       She had some breathing difficulties and was hospitalized for a while, and fortunately, made it home in time for the babies’ first Christmas.  After that, she improved for a while and had various treatments intended to prolong her life.  The treatments worked at first and then began to fail.
     It was Nana’s wish to see the babies baptized and we put it off for a while so that she could attend when she was feeling healthy.  That time never came and  we made the decision to have the babies baptized by her bed side at her home.  Nana’s pastor that she knew for many years performed the ceremony.  She later said that it made her feel at peace. 
Grayson, Capri, Xayden and Ryder, July 2011

      She was a wonderful Mother, Mother-in-law and Nana.  We are so glad she had a chance to spend time with each of the babies and to hold them and love them.  Not long after the babies’ baptism, Nana lost her battle with cancer surrounded by her husband and children. 

Nana, early in her marriage

     Nana, our children will hear stories about you as they grow.  We know you are watching over them. 
     It seems that most people know someone who has been impacted by cancer.  Please feel free to share your stories.  As always, comments are welcome.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Things People Say...

     Whenever we leave the house, we are approached by many people.  A quad stroller, or two twin strollers,  is an unusual sight.  People are naturally curious.  I am a member of our local twin’s club and other Moms report the same phenomenon.  There are different responses to the countless questions.  Some find it frustrating whereas others are not bothered. 
     I am in the latter group.  If I had a miniature pony and took him for a walk down city streets, I should not be surprised by people’s curiosity.    If I found it offensive to be approached, I would be cranky every time we went out.  I am so grateful to have these babies that I do not mind at all if people want to see them.  I have had many nice conversations with people who love babies.  I can’t complain about nice people who like to talk about babies. 

     From time to time, I will do a post about the things people say.  There are the common things such as, are they quads?  Are they from the same family?  Did you do that in-vitro thing?  Then, there are the unusual comments and questions.   I will share two of my favorites.
     The first is complements of a man at a store where we were buying baby supplies.  He had more of a comment than a question.  This man was pretty flabbergasted by the sheer quantity of babies and said, “Well, at least you get all the free diapers and stuff.”  I quickly corrected him and told him that we did not.  He seemed surprised by this.  After all, on Oprah, and other shows, all the Moms of high order multiples get amazing gifts such as free diapers for a year or a gift card to cover all their expenses for the first year or more.
     He must have thought that when you are in the hospital and the births are confirmed, you get on a special list, like winning the lottery.  We did win the baby lottery which is better than free diapers for a year.   But, alas, there is no special list wherein parents of multiples are supplied with all their babies’ needs.  That would be nice…but, no.  The man went on with his shopping, a bit disillusioned that what he saw on T.V. did not match up with his real life meeting with multiples.
     The next winning comment came from a woman who approached us as we were walking along admiring the scenery at a local park.  She looked me up and down, as people often do, wondering how I look so thin after carrying quadruplets.  People inspect my stomach for signs of sagging skin, like what was shown on an episode of Jon and Kate plus Eight.  She said, “You are so thin!  Did you have a vaginal birth?”  How often do you approach a complete stranger and use the word “vaginal?”  My answer is never.  This took me by surprise.  I suppose I could have told her ‘yes’ and had her imagining a quadruplet vaginal birth, but I told her ‘no.’
     Do you have any stories of things people have said to you?  As always, comments are welcome.


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