Friday, April 11, 2014

Filling in the Gaps

Yes I am WAY overdue for a nice big blog dump update.  But the time has come!  Mainly I realized it's almost time for me to start writing about them turning 2 (!) and I couldn't do that without filling in a little bit.  So, here come the bullets...


Outings



  • Zoo!  We've been taking advantage of our zoo membership and the lovely weather lately.  The kids are more and more interested in the animals each time.  And I was brave and let them in the petting zoo.  The dirt and climbing areas were more fun than the goats and I was a little stressed keeping track of them, but it was worth it.  Latest trip they were loving the monkeys and, of course, the ducks.  There's even a lake right outside the zoo with tons of ducks we like to picnic at!  
  • Moody Gardens Aquarium!  Totally worth the hour drive.  The kids LOVED it and had a blast running around looking at everything- especially the penguins and seals.  There were even divers feeding the fish while we were there and they waved to the kids- so cute!
  • Duck feedings- this is now a daily occurrence.  There are lots of ducks around our neighborhood and we start off each walk by checking out the closest fake lake for ducks.  
Penguins!

Sweet Sisters in the car

All these outings are exhausting!


The Kiddos



  • Andrew: completely into trucks, construction, tools, and airplanes.  Loves playing outside and looking for planes.  Points out everything.  Our puzzle whiz.  Still the bully toy stealer.  Quite the dramatic cryer if he doesn't get his way.  
  • Benjamin: super stacker!  Stacks anything and everything and sometimes it works in my favor when cleaning up.  Loves his food- play and real.  Still savoring every. last. bite.  Mr. Stubborn especially when I'm trying to make him talk.  
  • Caroline: no longer failure to thrive!  She's held steady at the 50th percentile for several months now.  She loves to shake her booty and copy dance moves and read.  She's my little caretaker often seen wiping off Leah when she's crying or "dusting" the toys.  She can have some mega mood swings.  Definitely a mama's girl.
  • Leah: Can flip from back to tummy, stand supported for up to 19 sec, hold onto toys for minutes, reach for toys, and push up on her arms when on all 4s!  Has eaten and kept down  minuscule amounts of graham cracker, goldfish, and animal crackers.  Loves Larry the Cucumber and VeggieTales.  Doing awesome with her vision apps on the iPad.  Always surprising us. 
  • Allison: The tattle tale.  Ms. "uh oh" uses the phrase as a warning or to point out what her siblings have done.  Owns her little cuteness with her shoulder shrugs to avoid tasks and giggles.  Loves to dance and copy dance moves.  Enjoys puzzles and coloring and being the center of attention.
  • Levi: completely obsessed with guitars and cleaning tools (mops, swiffers, vacuums...).  We hide them from him most of the time.  He does give us a little musical performance each morning.  Loves hugs and kisses.  Not afraid to hold his own against his bigger siblings. Loves to imitate- especially silly faces. 

  • Overall: We've been working on increasing words and reducing the straw cup fun of dripping milk everywhere.  My "straw cup boot camp" has improved the behavior, but we still need to get extra tough to eliminate it.  Words are slowly, but surely increasing.  They have been signing more, legitimately answering yes/no questions, and learning many animal sounds.
  • With the awesome weather lately we have been outside every afternoon with a picnic snack and just plain playing in the backyard.  One of my favorite activities is to have races across the yard- especially when I take turns running like a different kid.  They each have their own unique run- cute and funny at the same time.  It has been wonderful for all of us!  And it totally wears the kids out :)
backyard picnic

The Rest of Us


  • Maggie was attacked by another dog a month or so ago.  She's fine but we had to call animal control when the dog followed her home and would not leave.  Keep dogs on a leash!
  • Dave had a birthday quite awhile ago now.  He enjoyed sleeping in, eating favorite foods, and a surprise guys night out I coordinated :)  And now he's older than me for a couple of months.
  • Dave went to Thailand for work at the end of March.  The trip was 2 weeks long and thankfully my parents stayed with me to help out.  He really enjoyed it there.  His workshops went well and he loved the food and the scenery and all the touristy things he was able to fit in.
  • Dave also went to Disney World for his brother's wedding.  I stayed home with the kiddos.  Of course he had a great time at Disney!  The wedding was beautiful and the time spent with family and old friends at Magic Kingdom was really great for him.  
  • I was proud of myself/exhausted for handling the house (+ some usual helpers) during the Disney trip.
  • In between the NYC trip and the Thailand we went to Austin for 2 days to visit old friends and family.  Although it was stressful to unpack and repack in such a short time, the break away was much needed!  Everyone had a great time and the kiddos were perfect in the car.  Just what I needed after a rough flight home.
And I leave you with these two cute guys...



Monday, April 7, 2014

Unstoppable Mom Experience


I think a post is due to sum up the whirlwind adventure of the Unstoppable Mom contest!  To refresh the background information, my aunt's friend saw the contest on TV and suggested I be nominated.  My aunt and cousin got Dave and I's approval and hit the ground running!  Since they live in different cities than we do, they contacted regular volunteers and Leah's therapists to get material for the submission letter.  I have since seen everyone's submission material and it literally brought me to tears.  They were so nice and heartfelt and I couldn't believe everyone noticed all the little things I do and would take the time to write about it.  Also, they made me tired because I really don't think about things I do, I just do them!  You can read the letter here.

Well, that letter got me into the top 100 moms!  They called to tell my cousin and I the news on a Sunday night. The next day I was doing a phone interview with a producer to fact check/make sure I'm a real person/see if I pass on to the next round.  I passed!  Next up was the day of filming.  A small crew (1 camera guy and 1 producer) were flown here 2 days later to film a day in my life.  Eek!  I was so nervous my stomach hurt.  They filmed from 5am (to get me running- embarrassing!) to 8pm and really got a typical day in my life.  They were nice and did not intrude on our routine.  My cousin, Dave, and I were all interviewed separately.  Dave said he "rocked" his interview.  I suffered through mine.  The kids were curious about the cameras but did really well that day.  The camera hog was definitely Allison. She showed off new words and animal sounds and dance moves we've never seen!  Really, I've never seen her act like she did for that camera.  We had to wait 2 weeks to see if I made the top 15 semi-finalists.  I found out like everyone else- watching it on TV.  

Once named a semi-finalists, the show was calling everyday to set up travel arrangements just in case.  Of course, I had many concerns and questions about bringing our whole crew to NYC.  Dave and I decided then that he and Leah would stay home no matter what.  Her doctors agreed that was best as well.  3 days after being named a semi-finalist, the finalists were announced on air.  My surprise was spoiled by the producers calling me too early (they forgot I was in a different time zone), but it was still exciting!!  I won't lie, that was an intense day.  I thought my phone was going to explode with the texts, calls, emails, etc.  Between the notifications and trying to negotiate the trip and set up fill in help, I was so overwhelmed.  That night my mom and I went out to find  matching outfits for the kids (as requested by the show) and to go "shop" through my friend's closet for my TV wardrobe.  Luckily, both ventures were successful!

I had one day to pack and prep (which I insisted on) then my mom and I were off to NYC.  I will say it was fun to have drivers pick us up and not worry about making any arrangements.  We got to our hotel at 11pm Sunday night.  Monday morning we were picked up at 7am and off to the show.  I went to hair and make up (which was AMAZING) and had a quick coaching session.  I was very glad I had the coaching!  I got to practice my whole segment a few times which helped me because I was SO nervous.  My legs were literally shaking.  They kept everyone separate, so I did not get to meet anyone famous- what you saw on TV was what I saw.  The interview was over before I knew it!  As soon as they cut to commercial, we took pictures with the trophy and I was whisked away back to the hotel.  My mom and I had 2 hours of down time, so we walked around Times Square (where we stayed) and grabbed a quick lunch.  Then it was back to Houston! 
I still can't believe this is a real picture!

The Unstoppable Mom Team- they made me look good!
Had to grab a slice during our quick down time
 I had Tuesday to pack up everyone and mentally prepare for the next leg of the adventure.  The mini bus picked us up at 5am Wednesday morning.  "Us" included me, my parents, my cousin Holly, and all the kids except Leah.  The kids traveled in their jammies which was much easier than messing with complete outfits.  I was able to borrow 2 double strollers and use my single umbrella stroller.  The hotel had 4 pack n plays so I only had to bring one of those.  The worst part was the car seats!  Each kid had their own seat on the airplane and required a car seat.  Lugging those things around was awful- between finding a cart to carry them to figuring out how to properly install them on the airplane and buses to storing them in the hotel room- pain.in.the.butt.  But, of course we absolutely needed them.  The crews on our Southwest Airlines flights were wonderful!  So helpful.  Actually the passengers were all nice too!  In the Houston airport the kids were easily entertained by watching planes through the windows.  On the flight they weren't that bad- definitely some fussiness off and on throughout the flight, but nothing horrible.  I had packed books and snacks for entertainment.  I had 2 kids in my row and the other adults had one kid plus a brave stranger.  On the way back they were much worse.  The boys cried the entire flight and Caroline got airsick a few times.  A few of the passengers offered to walk them up and down the aisle, but that doesn't work well once the other kids see the one getting walked.  I felt bad for everyone around us, but we all survived.


While the family was in NYC, my cousin Heather (the official submitter) met us there so we did have an adult per child :)  Unfortunately, the weather was awful so we stayed in the hotel the entire time.  But the kids didn't mind!  They loved being in their jammies, looking out the window or mirror, jumping on the bed, sitting in suitcases, and watching TV.  We even had a play date in our room with a family friend who lives in NYC now- so fun!  The hotel room situation was: my cousins in a room and me, my parents, and my kids all in one room.  We had to stack furniture to fit 5 pack n plays.  The kids could see us at all times, so the sleeping was hit-or-miss to put it nicely.    That Friday morning we were picked up bright and early for the show.  I had hair and make up again (yea!!) and we all hung out in the green room where they had plenty of food for us and even a bubble gun for the kids!  I had a chance to meet the other finalists and they were all wonderful!  Honestly some of the nicest people I've ever met.  As with Monday, the actual show part was super quick.  We all went out there and they announced the winner and took some group pictures and it was over.  I was not surprised I did not win, but I was surprised by the consolation prize!  As soon as the show was over we were whisked back to the hotel, had an hour to pack up, then off to the airport.  The NYC airport was trickier to navigate with our massive amount of stuff and harder to find helpful people, but we eventually made it to the gate.  With plenty of time to kill and no good plane viewing windows, we were singing, walking, reading, and snacking until flight time.  Luckily the people around us found us entertaining and even joined in on the kid songs and games :)  And as I mentioned before, it just went downhill once we were on the plane.  Exhaustion definitely set in for all of us.  We were all glad to be back home that night and say we successfully got 5 toddlers to and from NYC!  And now that I have my trophy at home I am officially an Unstoppable Mom :)
Hotel room fun with Caroline

How the kiddos ate in the hotel room

Voting time for the adults and Mickey Mouse time for kids

Leah and Dave watching from home

Me and my real trophy
I would like to end with sincerely thanking everyone who voted and spread the word about the contest.  Overwhelming would be an understatement.  I thought my phone and facebook would just shut down with the amount of traffic on voting day.  I never dreamed so many people would be so supportive of me and my family.  I am one very blessed lady and I have no doubt about that :) 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Valentine's Fun

Yes, Valentine's Day was over 5 weeks ago and I'm just now posting about it.  I'm just plain behind on blogging!  Expect several combo posts soon- you know, my usual blog dump catch up.

Back to Valentine's Day... I'm still in the mindset that my kiddos don't really know about holidays which makes it very hard for me to get motivated to do cutesy holiday things for them.  I'm thinking next year I'll get more into it.  There's always next year, right?

Fortunately for the kids, one of my faithful volunteers wanted to throw them a Valentine's party!  She showed up with balloons, themed snacks, and card making supplies.  It was really fun!  I'm not sure the artwork would qualify as a card, but they scarfed down the snacks and LOVED the balloons.  I ended up leaving the balloons tied to their chairs for a couple of weeks and they got a kick out of pulling the strings, hitting them, and just watching them move around.  Great table time entertainment!  Although the party was great and all, the best part of Valentine's was getting a date night with Dave (same volunteer offered to babysit- I should probably make her an award or something)!  He took me to the restaurant we ate at the night he proposed :)  Aww... so romantic.

Leah loves to party!

Loving their balloons and snacks!
My neighbor friend has recently started up a photography business.  She likes to practice and test out her props and ideas.  We live 2 doors down.  This means I get all kinds of awesome pictures of my kids plus extra time hanging out with Lisa.  I'm totally getting the better end of the deal here!  Anyways, Lisa built a kissing booth for February pictures and invited us over for some fun group shots.  I absolutely love what she got despite the whole group thing not working out and me stepping in last second to corral kids and display my lovely frumpy mom-ness.  I've included my favorites and if you want to check out Lisa's work- and maybe hire her too, here's her blog: Lisa Holloway Photography

Mommy and Leah

Allison and her hair

Mommy, Alli, and Caroline

Mommy and her boys
Benjamin 

Caroline

Andrew

Looking through the fence- one of the latest fascinations
Well that about sums up the festivities for this year!  Hope you all had a Happy Valentine's Day too :)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

VOTE TODAY!!!!

I will have to fill y'all in on all the crazy details of this week later, but we are here in NYC and VOTING IS OPEN!!!!  

Click on the link below and it takes you to the page.  I voted 5 times with different email addresses, so it is per email address.  You can vote until midnight EST- 11 CST- 10 MST- 9 PST.  Voting is only today- 3/13/14.

THANK YOU for all the support and feel free to tell everyone you know :)

And please be persistent if it doesn't work the first time and you may have to change up some info with the email addresses.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Unstoppable Mom Finalist


In case you haven't heard, I am a finalist in the Unstoppable Mom Contest!  I really cannot believe it.  It has been a whirlwind since the announcement and looks like it won't stop until it's all over.  

I will appear by myself on the Monday show.  So watch for me Monday- it airs in Houston at 9am on Channel 13.  I'm going to try not to fall down or throw up or pee my pants or say anything completely dumb.  I really dislike being on camera and in front of people, so prayers please!  

On Friday most of the kids and I will be on the show when they announce the winner.  I am flying back and forth between Monday and Friday to get the kids.  It's a crazy plan, but that's what was agreed upon between the show people and Dave and I.  Dave's staying home with Leah as we (and her doctor) are not comfortable with putting her through all of this.  

I do not know voting rules yet, but I do know that Thursday is the only voting day.  Expect another email Wednesday or Thursday :)  And spread the word to vote!  

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Contributor

Well, I'm back to being behind on this blog- but I have a good reason (really a few but only ready to share one).  I was chosen as one of the new contributors for Houston Moms Blog!  I did a guest post for them back in November (read it here) and now I get to write for them regularly for the next 6 months.  I'm super excited to be apart of the team!  They are some awesome moms who are much better at blogging than me, so hopefully I can learn a thing or two.  :)  So, I've been busy figuring the moms blog thing out, but no worries, I will maintain this blog for all things Perkins Pack!

Without further ado...  check out my debut post!!     ABC's of Me

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Unstoppable Mom


I'm writing this post on behalf of my Aunt Betty who threatened to literally hijack my blog if I didn't post her letter.  So, I'm doing it!  Here it is....

Dear Friends of the Perkins Pack,

I am Lauren’s Aunt Betty, and I am hijacking her blog.  I know Lauren is too humble to post this information on her own, but I know you will be interested.

The television show Live with Kelly and Michael is teaming up with Children’s Motrin to find the Unstoppable Mom of 2014.  The winner of the national contest will receive $100,000!  I don’t know anyone who fits that title more than Lauren, so I decided she should be nominated!  With help from the people who know her best, the things that Lauren does all the time were listed.  There were too many great things to include, so the challenge was limiting the letter to ONLY ONE PAGE!  Whew!  With the help of Lauren’s cousin, Heather, the letter was composed using carefully weighed words to deliver the greatest impact.  The letter was submitted earlier this week… and now we just wait. 

Here is the contest link if you are interested in finding out more.  www.unstoppablemoms.com

Whether Lauren is acknowledged nationally as the winner or not, I know that she is definitely a winner in our eyes!  (I’d like to meet the woman who outdoes her!) Rest assured, we will keep you informed if there is good news to share!  A copy of the letter we submitted is shown below.

In October 2011, Lauren Perkins was a school psychologist, busily caring for the kids at her school and running marathons in her down time. In April 2012, she became a first time, stay-at-home mother           –- to sextuplets! How can we even begin to tell you how unstoppable she really is?

Lauren and her husband tried to start a family for years, without success. Eventually, after receiving fertility treatments, Lauren learned that she was pregnant with multiple babies – not one, not two, but six! Like most women would be, she was overwhelmed at the news. From the beginning, though, she understood the blessing as well as the challenge. Lauren knew that God would provide for her and her family, and she has loved each of her six children unconditionally since before their sensational birth. The babies were delivered at 30 weeks, followed by several months in the NICU. The family drew large amounts of media attention, but elected to walk away from the spotlight and the associated financial benefits so that they could maintain as normal a routine as possible.

To make “normal” happen, Lauren works from the dark pre-dawn hours until long after the sun sets. She usually gets only 5 hours of sleep per night, and even that is frequently interrupted by her six little ones. They are nearly 2 years old now, and Lauren always has something to do! She is constantly feeding, changing, playing, encouraging, helping, and loving them. Each child is treated as an individual, with unique interests and his or her own personality. Lauren is applying her training as a school psychologist in her own home, introducing a new sight word each week, reading stories every day after lunch, and taking all of the kids for educational outings. Lauren and her children attend play dates and birthday parties, and frequently visit fun spots like the swimming pool, the park, and the zoo. The kids have even been in a parade and a fashion show! With all that they do on their highly regulated schedule, it’s understandable that the whole family feels stressed sometimes. As a fun stress reliever, Lauren and the kids have “freak out” time each day to let it all out!

Lauren has the additional challenge of raising a child with special needs. One of the sextuplets requires extensive care to overcome GI complications and neurologic, motor, and visual impairments. She still requires overnight feedings, as well as additional medical and therapy appointments. Lauren has also learned to handle all of the specialized equipment so that she can help her daughter on non-therapy days – all in her “free time” while the other 5 kids are napping.
  
Since the birth of her children, Lauren has made her physical health a priority so that she is able to keep up with and care for her family. She regularly attends fitness boot camps before dawn, works out with exercise tapes at home, and takes the kids (and the dog) for an hour long walk in their 6-seat stroller every day. Lauren has also returned to competition in multiple 5k runs!

Lauren recognizes the importance of her mental health, as well. She still makes time to be in friend’s weddings, host events, and participate in phone conferences with medical professionals and other parents to stay abreast of the latest options for helping her children. Lauren also maintains a family blog and contributes to 2 groups for ‘Moms of Multiples’ so that she can share her insights with others facing similar challenges. She even finds time to complete the required continuing education hours to maintain her license as a school psychologist so that she can return to her career in the future.

Despite all that life requires of her, Lauren is grace under fire. She always wears a smile, always listens to her loved ones, and always finds a way to balance the often opposing needs of her children, her husband, her friends, and herself. Lauren Perkins is the very definition of “unstoppable.”

Ok, I'm back.  I cannot begin to tell you how honored I am that they would even think to nominate me, much less actually do it- and believe I can win.  I did not see what everyone submitted to her for the letter, but I did see a few snippets from a couple of friends and I was literally moved to tears by their heartfelt words.  I am extremely blessed to have the amazing support system I have and I would be nothing without them.  As I believe, God may give you more than you can handle, but He'll provide you with what you need to persevere. "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength" Phil 4:13

PS- If I do happen to make it to the final round for public voting, I will be sure to spread the word!  Who wants to be in last place?!