Monday, August 26, 2013

I Don't...

I totally copied this idea from my Quad Mama friend's blog Texas Tales, but I loved her post!  I also thought that if I put the same ideas out there it might make other moms feel better.  Or it might make them judge me.  This blogging stuff is risky business!  A lot of my "I don'ts" are the same as Amber's, but it's the truth people.

I DON'T...

  • practice consistent hygiene.  I don't shower everyday, in fact I aim for every other day.  If it's a good week I'll shower the days I work out.  I couldn't tell you the last time I used my hair dryer; I shower at night and sleep on wet hair and hope my Chi can save it the next day.  Bobby pins and headbands are my best friends (I have short hair, so no ponies for me).  I have forgotten to put on deodorant and not realized it until the end of the day and determined what's the point now?  Generally I'm much better about teeth brushing, but sometimes the morning brush doesn't happen until closer to lunch time or the nighttime brush doesn't happen until it's almost time for the morning brush.  Sometimes it just doesn't happen at all.  Shaving my legs?  Um, when I happen to think about it and my next thought is "I can't remember when I last shaved."  I think I average once a weekish on that.  Not too shabby!
  • get dressed everyday or do makeup.  If the only time I'm leaving my house for the day is to walk the babies and run myself, I go from my pajamas to my work out clothes and back again.  I also don't bother with make up unless I'm venturing out in public.  It just all takes up time I could use for something else and changing clothes several times a day just creates more laundry- something I don't need.  I now find it hard to believe I used to shower, fix my hair, put on make up, and go through several outfit changes a day.  I'm to the point now that if I do dress in normal clothes and put on make up everyone comments on how dressed up I am and asks where I'm going.  I have embraced the frumpy mom in myself, and that's ok.  Although I am a little disappointed What Not to Wear is on its last season.
  • drink coffee.  I think it's gross.  Always have.  I do drink 1 (2 on a bad day) diet soda to get a little caffeine boost.  Everyday between 3:30-4:30pm the tiredness hits me.  Someone told me that when I had kids I'd start drinking coffee.  Didn't happen.
  • diet.  I just don't like that word.  I don't deprive myself of foods I want because if I did I'd think about them all the time.  I love food!  I'm a big believer in portion control, moderation, and exercise.  My baby weight has come off extremely slowly- still have a few lbs to go- but I know it's because I've chosen to not diet and I didn't start a full out exercise regime until my kids were a year old.  Also, depending on meals/tons of desserts people brought to us (all delicious, not very healthy meals) made weight loss more difficult.  But, I'm glad I've taken my time with this stuff, and I've realized no matter how skinny I get, I'll still have the sextuplet belly pooch.
  • do all my housework/yardwork.  We have some great friends who have been mowing our yard for us for the past year- just because.  We do have a sprinkler system, so the watering is taken care of.  Any yard maintenance beyond mowing just doesn't get done unless my parents are in town, then it's just the bare minimum (i.e. yard looks horrible).  My neighbor does the baby laundry for me which is the best!  My grandmother and great aunt clean the floors and dust every week and Thank God for that!!  I do clean the bathrooms 2-3 times a month and clean the kitchen semi-regularly, but beyond those chores, stuff doesn't get done.  When my parents are in town we give the regulars a break and handle the chores.  It's really hard to believe I used to keep a strict cleaning schedule and not have any clutter in my house.  Oh how times have changed.  
  • sleep much, and not always in my bed.  It's a good thing I can function on very little sleep.  I've always been that way.  I get a second wind after my run and eating dinner and before I know it it'll be 1am.  Between the to do lists and catching up with my husband, family, friends, and favorite tv shows, the time just flies!  Even if I am exhausted from the kids.  Before kids I typically slept 5-6 hours a night and now it's more like 3-5, so really not that different.  I often fall asleep on the couch in the middle of doing something which is why I don't always sleep in my own bed.  I will say my level of tiredness increases throughout the week and by Friday I can't wait for bedtime!
  • give myself a hard time for not doing it all.  This is a big one for me.  I love my to-do lists and I really love to have everything crossed off of them.  But it's just not feasible.  I tend to make my goal list for each week and try to get the goals accomplished by the end of the week.  Sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn't.  This category also includes working with the kids- especially Leah.  I strive to fit in therapy exercises and developmental activities when the therapists aren't here.  Some days I'm on top of things, other days not so much.  I was feeling guilty about not fitting everything in everyday until her therapists told me- multiple times- that it's ok.  I call these kinds of days my "behind on life" days.  
  • take my kids to stores or restaurants.  This falls into the category of a lot of work, not much reward.  I just don't see the point at this age.  When people tell me they need the experience of going to a restaurant or store, I say "Do you remember going to those places when you were 1?" I sure don't.  Plus, getting to grocery shop or go to Target or go to a restaurant are my much needed breaks that I enjoy by myself or with Dave or a friend.  And I'm not sure how I would push around my 6 kids and a grocery cart.
  • constantly keep my eyes on my kids.  The only way this would be possible is if I kept them in the baby pen all the time and that's just no fun!  And they would get tired of that REAL quick.  The house is childproofed as much as it can be for now- until they get tall enough to open drawers and use doorknobs.  So, they get to roam around and play and explore.  When I need to get lunch together or do something with Leah or put away laundry, usually some of them follow me around, and the rest I just have to keep my ears open for.
  • mind using the TV when I need to.  I know it's frowned upon to let kids under 2 watch TV, but it is pure magic when Baby Einstein, Little Einsteins, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, or Blues Clues comes on.  Sometimes distracting them is the only way I can get lunch together or get ready for our walks or break the cycle of a 5 baby tantrum.  
I'm sure there are many more things I don't do, but this list is getting long already!  For those of you who tell me I'm doing a great job and that I'm super mom, I certainly appreciate the compliments, but as you can see I'm not that great and I have a fantastic support system that makes what I do easier.  Yes, there are tons of things I do everyday and my to do lists are extensive, but I'm doing the best I can and figuring out what works for my family.  

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Big Pool

Growing up I LOVED to swim!  My brother and I spent as much time at the neighborhood pool as possible.  However, now as an adult and mom I totally get why my mom rarely got in the water and never wanted to get her hair wet.  Anyways, I've always wanted to instill the love of water from an early age and get my kids swimming.  Of course I never planned on having sextuplets which poses a big challenge to going swimming- me with 6 babies at a pool = I don't think so!  My sweet friend and volunteer convinced me that we could round up enough adults (1 per kid) to take them all to the pool.  Well, she was right!  6 adults, 6 kids, no problem.

The first pool day was a lot of fun!  Leah, Caroline, and Levi all took to the water pretty quickly.  Andrew, Ben, and Allison needed another trip or two to be convinced playing in the water was fun.  Whether they enjoyed it or not, they were playing in the water the whole time.

We've been keeping up with pool day each week and somehow, even at the last minute, the right amount of adults show up ready to get in the water with one of my kids.  Pretty awesome!  This last week they were all getting more brave.  They cruised around the edges of the pool and walked through the 1ft deep water.  They were even dipping down and putting their faces in :)

I love that we were able to do this and that my friends and family are nutty enough to follow along with my plans!
Off to the pool!
Leah and Allison chillin in the shallow water

Levi getting used to the water

Caroline having a blast!


Cool Dude Andrew

Ben says Stop splashing me!

Traveling Play Dates

When you have 6 kids in one house, it's much easier for moms of 1 or 2 kids to bring theirs to you.  Our house already looks like Babies R Us/Toys R Us threw up in it anyway.  Why mess up someone else's house?

The Pack has about 4 friends right now- from 3 different families- and they've all been over to our house a few times.  One family lives down the street, so we don't ever go over there to terrorize their home.  However, the other 2 families invited us over and we visited both homes this month!  I really wasn't sure how the travel play dates would go, but I was pleasantly surprised!

The first play date was more of an undertaking than the second.  This friend lives 45 minutes away so I had to pack snacks and lunch and booster seats to feed them over there.  They had some separation anxiety as I was leaving to unload the other kids after dropping one off.  They quickly got over that and thoroughly enjoyed exploring and checking out different toys.  Their friend wasn't too sure about so many new kids playing with his toys, but he handled it the best a 22 month old only child can.  We were invited back, so I rate that a success!

The second play date was pretty close to home, so no food packing- yea!  It took a few minutes for the kids to get used to being in a new place, but again, they loved exploring and checking out the different toys.  Andrew, who is my biggest Maggie lover, was scared to death of their dog.  It was bizarre, but he eventually was able to tolerate the dog in the same room.  This family has a child close to their age and a another one a few years older.  The older one loved tickling my kids and showing them toys.  We even had a big dance party in the living room :)  This play date also went well and we were invited back again- 2 for 2!

When I was pregnant I never thought people would invite us over just due to sheer overwhelment (I just made up that word), so I'm glad my friends are brave!  And it's fun just to watch them all run around together.
One of our messy play areas towards the end of a play date!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Bad Pants Fashion Show

Every year the Texas Children's Neonatal department does a huge fundraising campaign to raise money for research and programs and what not for the NICU.  The kick off event is the Bad Pants Fashion Show!  This fashion show is a little different.  NICU staff, media personalities, and NICU graduates all dress in bad/wacky/crazy pants and parade down the makeshift runway for all to admire.  We were invited to participate this year and I thought, why not?

I was instructed to dress the whole family in funky printed pants or shorts that all coordinated together with a theme.  Easier said than done with a family of 8 and kids in all different sizes!  Oh yeah, and very little time to shop or make our own pants.  There was no way I was making pants.  Thankfully, Old Navy came to the rescue by putting all summer inventory on clearance!  I found Hawaiian print shorts for the big boys and went from there.  I was able to find beachy/Hawaiian print shorts/dresses for everyone all on sale!  The best part was when the cashier was ringing me up he missed an item; I pointed it out and he gave me 10% off for being honest!  I also had a coupon and gift card, so all in all, I got away with only spending $14 on outfits for 8 people!!  That was the most thrilling part :)

I describe the actual show day as chaotic fun.  Did we enjoy doing it?  Yes.  Would I do it again? Yes.  Was it a completely chaotic crazy day? Yes.  Did my children cooperate during the show?  Of course not!

We got to the hospital on time (yea!) and immediately did a live spot on a local news morning show.  Live TV is super scary to me, but it went better than I thought it would.  The kids were busy exploring the backstage area until it was our turn to go on.  Ben was raring to go, but he had to wait a minute for the group in front of us to get off the stage, and he did not like that one bit and would not walk after that.  Andrew crawled out of the curtain and sat and cried.  Neither Allison nor Levi would move.  Leah was perfect!  Caroline actually did slowly walk down the runway.  Eventually I had to carry both big boys (won't attempt this again) and Allison ran into the crowd to my grandma.  Levi was carried by our media personality and was the only one who waved to the crowd. You just can't expect too much out of a bunch of 1 year olds.

It was really nice seeing NICU staff and other parents we hadn't seen in a very long time!
Allison headed straight for the crowd

We're not going to walk!

Waiting for the show

My arms hurt!

Leah was so good the whole time!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Video Post

Taking pics of my kiddos is getting harder and harder lately- they are so busy and quick!  Usually by the time I grab my phone or camera they've already quit doing whatever it was I wanted a picture of.  Group pictures are nearly impossible these days too!  I have been able to capture a few videos that I think show how their little personalities are developing.  My biggest challenge when videoing is making sure they don't notice the camera- then they just want to grab it.

A short clip of Ben walking

Levi walking

Kinda long, but it's my favorite- the whole group playing together with a curtain

Caroline LOVES to use the faucet!  It's a special treat for her.

Allison is by far the best at the rocking horse.  She'll keep going as long as someone's cheering her on.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Gender Reveal

Before anyone gets any crazy ideas from the title, this is about my friend's gender reveal party!!

One of my best friends is expecting and due around Christmas!  Back when I was preggo I told her she wasn't allowed to get pregnant until my babies were 1 year old because I needed her help during that time.  The fabulous friend that she is got pregnant when my kids were 11 months 2 weeks old!  No, that wasn't planned, just happened that way :)

She wanted to have a Gender Reveal party so she and her family and close friends could all find out what they were having at the same time- and it's an excuse to have a fun party!  I was entrusted with the secret and had to be very careful who I talked to for a few days.  I was so afraid I'd blow it!  Another friend helped me make the balloon box, favors, and game.  My pregnant friend actually did most of the work and she did an amazing job!  She had the cutest boy or girl decor and yummy food.  We did the reveal by having colored balloons fly out of a box, but also colored the cake filling just for fun.  The guests even dressed in pink or blue depending on their gender guess.  Anyway, it's a GIRL and I couldn't be more excited and happy for my friends!!!!  I wish I could give them as much support and time as they've given me over the past year and a half, but I know that's not possible.  I'll try my best though :)

The He r She bars were favors

cute banner made by the mommy-to-be

Even pink and blue drinks and straws


All the guests in pink vs blue attire

Monday, August 12, 2013

15 months!

I'm not sure when babies officially become toddlers, but we're about there!  They've been busy growing and changing so much over the past couple of months it's unreal.  Dave and I are loving this stage though!  They are really showing their personalities and sense of adventure.  They love to explore- everything is new and exciting and often hilarious.  They are great at entertaining themselves and each other.  We always get a kick out of watching them play.  Not saying that there aren't toys strewn EVERYWHERE, kids vying for a few bites of dog food, or an occasional dramatic crying episode, but hey, there are 6 15 month olds living here, and it's all in fun- until someone drops a formula can on their foot.

Since returning from Colorado we've had several exciting things happen: thoroughly cleaning the van (you have no idea), spending time at the big neighborhood pool, beginning straw cup drinking and self feeding with a spoon, the 15 month well check, and Maggie (our dog)'s feature article in the September issue of Dog Fancy magazine!!

After 2 months of playing around (somewhat inconsistently) with straw cups, they're catching on! It did take a little squirt of Crystal Light in each cup and me putting it in their mouth for them at first, but it worked.  The boys are great at it, the girls are still getting the hang of it, and if anyone's grumpy they won't have it.  The spoon skills are very new, but at this point it seems the girls are slightly more interested than the boys.  We'll be doing the hand over hand technique awhile longer for sure!

The 15 month well check went very well- even with the new doctor.  In fact, I liked the new pediatrician a lot!  She gave me the same discipline/behavior speech I gave parents back in my working days, so we at least agree on that topic.  All babies checked out well on growth- all lost a little due to their increased movement- and they all handled the shots like pros.  The pedi said she's like me to pump up Allison and Levi's calories to boost their weight gain.  She recommended extra snacks for them.  I'm sorry, give 2 kids extra snacks and not the other 3?  That would pretty much create World Ware 3 in my house.  So, I've had to be a little creative adding extra cheese or yogurt or peanut butter to their bowls of food.

As we go through the individual updates, you'll notice some particularly messy babies.  Well, Dave and I created a pudding fun afternoon- eat it and play with it!  The kids absolutely loved eating the pudding, then once they realized they could squish it and slide it around, the messy play ensued!  Their individual pics show off the fun faces.

Some skills the babies have been acquiring include: high fives, waving, following simple one step commands (ex. "Give to Mama"),  consonant babbling, wearing shoes, having their teeth brushed (they ALL love this), eating anything and everything, and lots of mobility.  They're also starting to enter the separation anxiety phase.  Luckily, they're fairly easy to distract out of it.  They also all love to knock over towers we build up for them.

Now on to the profiles!

Andrew Noah
22 lb 14 oz    30.5 in   12 mo clothes    size 4 diapers    6 teeth
He already looks like a little boy!  He's the tallest of the bunch and his long and lean stature work well for his baby yoga poses he creates in his spare time.  Andrew LOVES to eat and is by far the fastest eater in the family.  I'm not sure he ever chews or tastes his food.  As soon as he's done he's reaching over for someone else's handouts.  Andrew is the fastest crawler, thus, he has no intersest in walking at this time.  He just started purposeful babbling and I love hearing his goofy "mama".  He loves books, going down the slide- all I have to do is sit him on the top and he does the rest, playing with Maggie, giving hugs, splashing in water, using push to walk toys, dumping things on the ground, looking in the mirror, messing with the blinds, sneaking dog food, laughing at "no", pointing/poking, and hillbilly laughing.

Benjamin Luke
23 lb 6 oz    29 in    12 mo clothes    size 4 diapers    6 teeth
The class clown!  Ben's personality has really been shining through lately and he is SILLY!!  He makes the silliest faces and sounds- one we've named "Ben the Bear".  Nowadays after we put the kids down for a nap we hear hysterical laughter in the boys room for up to half an hour.  With some fabulous detective work done by yours truly, we learned that they are standing in their crib corners exchanging pacifiers and toys.  Then Ben throws things in the middle of the room and sits down really hard in his crib and the other 2 think he's so funny.  Ben gets such a kick out of it he'll even stand up and sit down hard for me and then look at me like he's waiting for me to laugh.  Speaking of throwing, this boy has got an arm!  He loves to throw anything he can pick up and he's pretty good at it.  He's really become a good walker in the last couple of weeks!  Hard to believe from the boy who wouldn't move the first 10 months of his life.  His favorite evening game is to turn my head to the side and back front again.  Ben is a good eater, but he often times stuffs way too much in his cheeks and then he can't chew well or swallow.  He gets mad when I give his bowl a time out, but it must be done.  He loves books and putting small objects into containers or throwing them over the baby gate.

Caroline Grace
20 lb 12 oz   29.5 in   12 mo clothes    size 4 diapers    8 teeth
This girl can sure get moody.  From giggles to gripes and back again in no time at all.  She still likes to wake up in the middle of the night for a personal Caroline party, but she doesn't scream out or wake the others.  She's a great napper though!  She loves to dance to any music that's on.  She LOVES Mickey Mouse!  She is a great walker and could just walk around the house and be entertained most of the day!  She does need her random rests which involve putting her head on my lap.  I finally figured out that when she puts her hands up and cries, she really wants me to sit down so she can rest her head.  She blows raspberries and clicks her tongue all the time.  She flips through books faster than anyone.  She enjoys closing doors and turning faucets on and off.  

Leah Michelle
17 lb 8 oz    27.25 in    9 mo clothes    size 3 diapers  4 teeth
Leah has just plain gotten big!  She's outgrown Levi and Allison.  She's been showing lots of progress in her therapies lately: batting at objects, rolling over motions, retaining head control, holding sitting positions, weight bearing on arms and legs, and happily eating up to 4 bites of real food.  She loves loves loves music and nursery rhyme songs and being read to.  She laughs and laughs when we tickle her or when she's playing with her pom poms.  She smiles all the time.  She does not handle teething well and we usually have a few days of major setbacks.  She's also been figuring out her new cause and effect toys and obviously likes them.

Allison Kate
16 lb 2 oz    27.25 in    6-9 mo clothes    size 3 diapers    7 teeth
Little body, big personality.  That's our Smidge.  She is a fabulous walker and, like Caroline, could just walk around the house all day for fun.  She points that finger at everything and loves to feel different textures.  I taught her to hold up her finger in response to "How old are you?"  and she's learned to ride the rocking horse- she'll do anything for a clap and a cheer!  She loves to be picked up, the taller you are, the better.  She's a biter, the other day she bit Andrew really hard and I knew it because of the 7 perfect teeth marks on his arm.  She likes to look in mirrors, push buttons, flip through books, follow people around, throw fits if she's upset, be constantly busy.

Levi Thomas
16 lb 9.5 oz    27.5 in    6-9 mo clothes    size 3 diapers    2 teeth
Levi has really taken off the past few weeks!  He's now walking and constantly "talking" to everyone.  He waves and claps all the time.  He still loves to jump and I've caught him jumping in his crib a couple of times.  He loves Maggie and carries around her toy all day, but will give it to her if she's close enough to him.  He's starting to dance too.  He loves to sit and try to figure out how toys work, especially when putting a small object into a larger object is involved.  He's becoming a fast easter like Andrew.  He has the craziest hair- curly on top, straight on bottom.  Levi is the king of sensitive skin!  He constantly has some rash or bumps on him somewhere; we've recently learned that sun exposure makes him break out, but his strict vaseline regime helps a lot.  He's definitely the chilled out one of the bunch and has no issue playing independently.

This week I handled 2 days by myself!  With helpers canceling at the mast minute, it wasn't bad at all, and now I know I can do it)).  Below is the two littles "spooning" some applesauce.
First time holding their own spoon- they loved yogurt!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Happy Meals

There are quite a few people who have become like extended family members over the past year.  We really could not imagine doing life without them and we're so glad all of these people are involved in our kids' lives.  One neat thing about this situation is that we get to adopt a few traditions from other families!  For example- the first happy meal!  I personally know nothing of my first happy meal or ever thought about the kids having one (generally I try to give them healthy balanced meals), but in our friend's family, it's a big deal.  We decided to celebrate their 15 month birthday with individual happy meals for each baby.  Tradition says we cut the burgers in half, lay it all out there, and let them go to town.  Go to town they did!  All 5 of them ate their entire happy meal!  They loved every bite too.  Us adults got plenty of laughs and entertainment watching them.  I'm so glad this tradition was shared with us!
Just getting started

All done and ready for a nap

Caroline loved the french fries

Levi stuffing his face
Ben ate all the meat first
Andrew hoovered it the fastest then cried for more
Allison was slow and steady nibbling away

6th Anniversary

A few weeks ago Dave and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary!  Since we had just returned from Colorado, we really weren't planning on doing anything special.  Lucky for us that wasn't the case!  A neighbor came over during the babies' nap time to sit and watch them so we could go out for lunch!  Going out for a lunch date is a rare occurrence- like one other time since the babies came home from the hospital.  I was so excited to get out during the day and not be going to a doctor appointment or grocery store!

On the same day as the lunch date, Dave and I did a baby experiment - I took the boys to a friend's house and he kept the girls at home.  I was really nervous about taking them somewhere new and the other adults being super annoyed that I had brought 3 kids with me.  I was pleasantly surprised!  They behaved very well and didn't destroy anything :)  Dave said the girls were perfect at home, so that got us thinking that we could do arrangements like this more often!  For us, only having to care for 3 babies is a break!

The best part of our anniversary was seeing Wicked the musical!  We saw it 7 years ago (time flies!), but it was just as good the second time.  We went with my aunt, uncle, cousin, and cousin-in-law.  My other cousin wasn't able to make it into town in time for the show, so she gave us her tickets!  It was such a great surprise and we were so thankful to get a night out and spend time with family :)

On the morning of our anniversary, I told Dave "Happy 6th Anniversary!" to which he replied, "6?  Are you sure it's not 8?"  haha  I guess the last year felt like 3!