Monday, December 23, 2013

More November stuff

I WILL catch up on November before December is over!  This post is just little random things, but since this is how I chronicle our experiences and their development, I like to make note of some little random things.

1. Boys outing.  I took the boys to a birthday party- just me and them.  It wasn't at the most convenient time, and knowing how are the girls are when they're hungry and tired, Dave stayed home with them.  The boys did great!!  They loved playing in the backyard and scoping out a new playroom.  Andrew kept squealing with excitement.  They ate quite a big lunch that I fed them, and then gobbled up the birthday girl's entire plate of food when no adults were looking.  Seriously, the whole plate.  And then cried when I pulled them away.

2. Time change.  No parent of little ones likes time changes.  Guaranteed to throw everything off for a day or two or more.  It was fall back time, so we let them stay up a tad later than usual and then put them down and refused to get them up until the new 6:30am rolled around.  It worked!  They really transitioned smoothly and I can't complain.

3. Dentist visit.  I LOVE our pediatric dentist!!  She is fantastic with the kids and explaining things to me and answering questions.  And her staff is excited to see us when we get there!  The kids did great, mostly because they are so kid friendly in the office.  They got to roam around the waiting area while I took 1 back at a time.  She just counts and looks over their teeth, so each kid takes 5 min.  Everyone checked out ok and I got a gold star for their clean teeth :)  Makes it easier that they all like to have their teeth brushed.

4. New activities.  Sliding is a new favorite.  So far, Andrew, Allison, Caroline, and Ben can climb up the ladder and slide on their own.  I just catch them at the bottom.  Levi I still have to assist the whole time.  They LOVE it!!  They're even pretty good about taking turns if I'm monitoring.  Only problem is they like to stand up at the top and make us worry about them falling off, so we have to keep the slide off limits when no adults are in the room.  They're also starting to grasp the concept of puzzles (the 3 piece peg board ones) and I'm trying to use that as a structured table top activity.  One rainy day I put together these sensory boxes of random things I found in my craft bin- feathers, gift bows, balloons, wash cloths, pipe cleaners- the more I pull them out the more they like them.  The love when I half way blow up a balloon and let it fly around the room.  Last thing here is that they're just starting to copy motions to songs and dances.  It's so cute!  Watching them do the hot dog dance from Mickey Mouse is so fun.

What's in the box?

Sensory Time!

5. Leah has a new specialist- a chiropractic neurologist.  I had never heard of such a thing before I got the tip to check out this doctor, but so glad I did!!  She has given us some seriously random exercises to do with Leah to help with her balance, vision, and digestion.  So far she has really improved!  It is amazing to watch and the skeptic in me has been silenced.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Few Firsts

I'm slowly catching up on blogging after the LightAide business and desperately trying to get everything Christmas done.  So, here are our few firsts that happened a few weeks ago...

Toddler Class
After the kiddos turned 18 months they were old enough to go into the toddler class at church.  We decided to go ahead and put them with everyone else and see how it goes.  So far they've done really well!  They absolutely do not sit and listen to the lesson or do the activity sheets, but they play with all the toys and don't cause trouble.  And I haven't heard any stories of them stealing food, which is really quite remarkable.  Since our friends who have always watched them at church just moved with them to the toddler class, Leah gets to stay with the other kids a little longer.  Our church has a special needs class which she will eventually move to.  One little boy in their class loves to talk to Leah and show her toys, it's really cute.

Night Away
Dave and I got our first overnight stay away from the kids!  I won a giveaway from for a free night at a local hotel and 2 free movie passes!  How awesome is that?!  Luckily, Dave's parents were willing to come babysit, along with some regular helpers, and we were able to stay away for a full 24 hours.  It was glorious.  I slept 8 hours straight and I couldn't tell you when I last did that.  Just the break and refresher we needed!

Big Bathtub
Yes, they're officially toddlers and we bathe them in the sink most of the time.  Assembly line style baths are what we've always done and they work and they're quick and I don't have to bend over or be on my knees.  But, they're getting a little big for my sit on top of the sink tub.  So, we got brave and decided to test out our big bathtub.  I got all the supplies including an Elmo no slip mat and a knee/elbow over the tub pad for me.  Leah went by herself and was perfectly fine.  Allison and Caroline went in together.  Caroline enjoyed playing with all the toys while Allison cried the whole time.  Ben was next and he LOVED it.  He was so excited to see Elmo on the bottom of the tub- then his brothers got in too and spoiled all his fun.  He screamed the rest of the bath.  The other boys weren't quite sure what to think at first, but then were tolerant of the big bathtub.  We haven't made it consistent practice yet, but we're working on it.

I gave the boys their first haircuts!  I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and briefly watched a YouTube video beforehand.  I knew the baby curls were out of control and had to go.  So, I grabbed my kitchen scissors and a baby comb and hacked away.  I think the results weren't half bad if I say so myself ;)  I did a bangs trim on the girls.  I did this all while they were eating a snack and listening to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse songs.  They were surprisingly cooperative this time.  The boys do not look like babies anymore- completely little boys- which makes me both happy and sad at the same time.

Each pile of hair- cut off way more than I thought!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

LightAide for Leah!

The most common question/comment I get about having sextuplets is "How do you do it?"  My response..."don't.  I have a phenomenal support system and God is always looking out for my family."  I have countless examples.  The latest came in an anonymous email yesterday that said:

Twas two weeks before Christmas
Amidst all the stress
With more important things to worry about
Than an online contest

It can be hard sometimes to
Enjoy the Christmas season
Maybe now it will be a little easier
And here is the reason

Leah's LightAide has been ordered,
Just waiting on UPS
Merry Christmas from the Perkins XOM (ExxonMobil) Support Team
To a family that deserves the best

We were a little in shock when we read this- but of course I appreciated the rhymey poem!  I cannot thank you all enough for the time you spent voting for Leah this past week!  The amount of people voting, sharing with everyone they know, and getting creative on how to get extra votes  was astounding to me.  There's nothing better than seeing so many people care about your child.  This whole experience has yet again proven that we have the best support system ever!!!  

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Thanksgiving Fun!

To get us in the Thanksgiving spirit, my mom and I made these super cute and yummy Turkey Oreos!  It was a Pinterest find that actually turned out ok.  All you need are Oreos, candy corn, chocolate frosting, and decorating gel or a pen for details:

It's so easy!  Just ice the oreo, then place candy corn to make a turkey tail and head.  Use the gel or pen to draw the turkey face. That's it!

All done!  Here are the finished turkeys.  Great idea for a kid craft or to bring to a school party!

Actual Thanksgiving Day was spent at my grandmother's house.  She's the best hostess!  She had the toddler table already set up for the kiddos when we arrived and her living room was full of toys and books for them to play with.  They loved exploring the new play area!  Did I mention that she and my aunt did all the cooking too?!  And it was delicious as always.  Last year my kids were still on formula, so this year was their first REAL Thanksgiving meal.  They literally gobbled it down!  Green beans were definitely the least favorite, but they still ate everything.  Sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie were favorites- smart kiddos :)  

After the meal, adults tag teamed eating and playing in the front yard with the kids.  They really loved running up and down the driveway and throwing leaves and trying to sneak by us to get into the street.  The highlight was my grandmother doing bicycle kicks in a pile of leaves to entertain the kids!  Too bad I didn't have my camera around then.  Once they started getting cranky and tired, we packed up and headed home.  They really did great the whole time and it was a very Happy Thanksgiving for us!  

Soaking up the one-on-one attention

Ben and his fake ice cream

Caroline watching the parade

Dave singing to Leah

Levi and his Swiffer

Andrew being a turkey

Pushing the limits

Gobble Gobble!

Levi trying out the Professor look

Monday, December 9, 2013

Vote for Leah

Voting for Leah to keep the LightAide is open!  You can vote once a day Dec 9-15.  PLEASE VOTE!!!!  It just takes a second- really.  Leah loves this device, I haven't seen her respond to anything like she does with the LightAide.  It's something she can do on her own, and with her siblings- it's amazing!  And it's way too expensive to buy ourselves.

Voting is now officially open at this link:


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Leah LightAide wrap up

Well, our 2 weeks with Lily LightAide have come to an end.  We sure are going to miss her!!  The more time Leah spent working with this device, the more she figured it out and seemed to truly enjoy it.  Whether she was watching colors change on the screen or activating switches to control the screen changes, she was always content and motivated.  She went from needing someone with her to work the device to being set up in her stroller with a tray and working it on her own!

Her therapists also LOVE the LightAide.  Obviously her vision teacher loves the visual stimulation of colors and lights.  Her OT loves her use of the switches, her PT loves her working on positioning while using it, and her speech therapist loves Leah's vocalizations when she gets excited about what she is doing.

Leah working the switches with a therapist
This device shows great potential for Leah.  I've really enjoyed watching her progress so quickly.  Although we will soon be shipping LightAide off, there's still a chance Leah can win one for free!!  There will be a voting week where people vote on which of the 6 kids (who tried out the LightAide) gets a free  LightAide to keep!!  Don't worry, I will be campaigning for Leah- stay tuned!

For more information on this product...

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Light Aide- One week update

We've been playing around with the light aide for a week now and we're still loving it!  It has really been a useful tool for us.  With 5 other kids, I can't always work with Leah as much as I would like and be there right next to her.  The light aide has so many programs I can set Leah up with a few different ones to watch while she's eating or while I'm busy chasing the others around-she gets visual stimulation and entertainment!  Today I even set her up with the censors on her stroller tray and she went to town; the other kids even "helped" her out a time or two.  They're equally fascinated with the changing lights.

This week we've been checking out quite a few programs.  Leah's current favorites are Building a Rainbow and Naming Shapes.  For both of these programs, she hits the censor to cause action on the screen- either building colors to form a rainbow or changing the shapes on the screen.  Whenever she sees something happen, she gets the biggest smile on her face!  She LOVES it!!

For more information on the Light Aide check out these websites...

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Lily LightAide

If your kiddo has a visual impairment, WonderBaby is a great website with all sorts of information and resources- all free and all right at your fingertips!

The people at WonderBaby recently started a Backpacking LightAide Program.  They chose 6 families to test out the new LightAide for 2 weeks each.  The LightAide is a new product from Philips (the lighting people) and Perkins (school for the blind people).  It uses 224 small LED lights to create images, numbers, and letters for 66 different learning activities.  You can read all about the program here.  And learn all about the product here.

So, why am I telling you about LightAide?  Because we were chosen as one of the lucky 6 families!!!!!  In fact, they chose Leah to be the 6th kiddo to get it- she's a sextuplet, it was meant to be :).

The day we got Lily LightAide in the mail I set it up and started playing with it.  It. is. so. Cool!!!!!!!!!!!  The graphics and variety of learning activities far surpassed my expectations.  Leah's ECI case worker just happened to be here, so we got Leah in front of the LightAide and started running different programs.  She definitely showed interest in the activities that involved watching the screen (i.e. Track the Column, Spinning Pinwheel, Bouncing Balls).  For the activities that involved the touch pad sensors, we had to assist Leah, but she was stimulated by the activity.  Leah even enjoyed just relaxing watching the changing colors and spinning pinwheels.  She stayed completely relaxed and attentive for 30 min!!  That never happens.  That being said, I'm excited to see what else she can do with the LightAide during our 2 week trial!  Check out the videos and pics from Day 1...

Thursday, November 14, 2013

How I Became a Mother- Houston Moms Blog

I had the privilege of writing a guest post for the Houston Moms Blog as part of their "How I Became a Mother" series.  It was a challenge to condense 2 years of my life into a short post, but it was fun to reminisce about the whole infertility to sextuplets journey.  I know most of you have heard this story already, but just in case you're interested...

Check it out!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Halloween with the Minions!

Once I had the idea to have 6 little minions for Halloween, I was set on it.  I thought they would be easy costumes to put together- wrong!  I could not find any solid yellow hoodies, onesies, or t-shirts in baby sizes.  Nothing!  Enter Mari Zag.  She goes to my church and can crochet and sew like no other.  She crocheted her poor fingers off to make 6 minion costumes in 2 weeks and she did an AMAZING job!!  They really turned out better than I imagined!

On Halloween day it POURED in Houston.  We made back up plans to just put on costumes at home and take a few pictures.  But, luckily, the rain stopped just in time to go trick-or-treating!  A couple last minute helpers assisted me in wrangling them into the costumes and walked with all of us around the block taking pictures and collecting candy.  Leah, Allison, and Andrew had no problem wearing the costumes and riding in the wagons.  Caroline, Ben, and Levi were quite opposite.  Refused to wear the hats and tried to escape the wagons every time they stopped.  So, I was constantly on the move!  We only stopped at a few familiar houses to keep toddlers happy and candy to a minimum.  I did let them try 3 Musketeers and Smarties (they make ya smarter, ya know) and they loved both!  We were very thankful that the rain cleared and Halloween was saved!  And 3 out of 6 toddlers cooperating isn't so bad ;)

Minion Allison

Minion Andrew

Minion Benjamin

Minion Caroline- yes I'm holding her hat on for the pic

Minion Leah- we rigged her wagon so she could ride along

Minion Levi

The whole family!

All the minions

Duck Dynasty Dave

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Fall Photo Shoot

It was October.  Everyone was posting cute pumpkin patch pictures on facebook and Instagram.  I thought, why not me too?  My kids would look adorable next to some pumpkins!  I found a quaint little pumpkin patch at a local church.  Not too far, not too big, with a few extra adults we could do this.

When a day came along that I just happened to have plenty of adults around I figured now or never.  Then I went outside and realized we have a Perkins Patch fence sign with pumpkins and scarecrows all around it in the front yard.  Change of plans!  Now I was going utilize one adult as a photographer and the rest to watch 5 kids inside as I take 1 outside for pictures- we'd fly through these in no time.  Or so I thought.  The second I went outside to set things up, they all started screaming and banging on the front door and window wanted to get out too.  So, we let them all run around in the front yard and got our neighbor friend to join in too.  The photo shoot was a disaster with very few actually good pictures, but plenty of humorous candid shots.  The kids had an absolute blast running around the yards!  I wish our front yards were fenced so we could go out there more.  Anyway, below are some favorites from the shoot and maybe next year we'll get to a real pumpkin patch!

Allison ready for fall!

Andrew stole Ben's book

Free at last!

Sadly, the best group shot

Leah and I

chubby skeleton

Andrew reading

Caroline, Levi, Allison, and I 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

18 Months- Officially Toddlers!

I feel like I can't really call them babies anymore.  I still do sometimes, but just out of habit.  Like when Dave calls their sippy and straw cups "bottles".  I sure don't miss bottles.  Speaking of cups, we're starting to work on open cups in the bath tub (with fresh water, not bath water!) and only using straw cups.  They don't seem to like sippy cups much these days which means less cup changing for me, so I'm good with it.

At 18 months these toddlers are all over the place!  I can hardly get a non-blurry picture or decent video without them moving or grabbing at the camera.  They're always on the go from one play area to the next to the tupperware cabinet to the hallway (great running space) to trying to get in the pantry or fridge to the windows and back door...  People ask me how I contain them- I don't!  They're in the pen in the early morning and right before bed for dressing purposes and quieting down for sleepy time, but besides that the house is free reign.  

The weather has been so nice lately we've been outside almost everyday.  They love it! And it wears them out, so I love it too!  At first they were scared of the grass so it was really easy to monitor them as they stuck to the patio, but now they're everywhere and I really have to watch the dirt/mulch/grass eating.  If it looks like they had a snack of oreos, it's really just dirt.  Ben and Andrew find it hilarious to put anything in their mouths I tell them not to.  They're all fascinated by bubbles and squeal with delight when a good batch is flying at them.  

They all still LOVE books.  Allison is rarely seen without one in her hands.  They're all speed readers- quickly flipping pages, pointing at pictures for you to name, then it's over and on to the next one.  They don't like to sit and listen to a whole book, unless it's God Made You Special VeggieTales book.  I read it everyday after lunch; I had to take it away because it caused too many fights, so now it's group reading time.  It plays a song at the end and they get so excited!  They take turns pushing the button for the song and they just hold out those little pointer fingers in anticipation.
Andrew's turn to push the button

The fridge is open!  The fridge is open!

They all like to walk backwards into your lap with a book, or just back up until they can lean on you or perch on your knee.  The bigs can get on and off riding toys which is nice for me!  The littles try, but their legs are just a tad too short still.  We're still working on using utensils; they can get them in their mouths, just can't quite scoop food or stab it well enough.  We've introduced coloring which mostly involves swatting crayons from mouths.  Our dance parties are more fun as they're all developing their individual moves from swaying and clapping to little feet jigs- I still need to catch this on video!  Diaper changes are more interesting depending on their mood and level of wiggliness.  I've gotten pretty good at changing diapers and clothes on the move.  Toy and food stealing and cup/utensil throwing are sport around here.  Our vet is surprised Maggie's not overweight from cleaning the floor :) But, despite the moodiness and fits, they all like to give hugs and kisses.  The girls will blow kisses too!  

At their 18 mo well check, they were able to run all over the place in their diapers.  Luckily, there were plenty of helpers with me to chase them around, but it was a nice reminder of how busy they are when we're not in our regular environment.  Overall the appointment went well and the only concerns were their lack of independent utensil use and Caroline's lack of curving on her growth curve.  She's been added to the extra calorie diet plan Allison and Levi are on.  At 18 months...  

Andrew: 25 lb 13 oz, 32 in tall, he shovels food like no other and is quick to steal more when he's done, he's most likely to steal toys and most likely to give you a hug, loves push and pull toys, riding toys, books, peek a boo (if you say Where's Andrew? he'll cover his eyes.), laughing, bubbles, getting into the fridge and pantry, and lounging in his little chair

Ben: 25 lb 3 oz, 30.5 in tall, he is still super silly and most likely to throw a full on tantrum if he doesn't get his way or someone takes his toy, he loves to throw things, slide, read books, grunt and laugh at himself, get into anything I say not to, give kisses, watch bubbles, pick out pieces of food he doesn't want and hand them to me, and sway to music

Caroline: 21 lb 8 oz, 30 in tall, she has the biggest crinkle-nosed smile and the loudest wail which she lets out all too often, moody (we don't call her Cranky Caroline for nothing) and independent but still needs her Caroline cuddles when she's tired, loves to throw her cup for attention, likes to read books, slide, ride the rocking horse, run outside, help load the dryer, dance, belly laugh when tickled, play with Maggie, block of the play area so she has it to herself, and nap

Leah: 18 lb 0 oz, 28 in tall, generally the best behaved and happiest unless her tummy hurts, loves music, stories, cuddles, therapy, pinwheels, pom poms, brightly colored balls, tambourines, and counting, she's sleeping better at night and is making steady progress in therapies, her latest favorite real foods are bananas and pudding and banana pudding (go figure), and we've been making big changes to her feeding schedule because she's a big toddler girl now

Allison: 17 lb 4 oz, 28 in tall, she loves praise and acknowledgement of anything she is doing, still pushes around the big boys, always carrying around a book or stuffed animal (usually Minnie Mouse or a monkey), will plop in your lap for you to read to her, likes to dance, run outside, read, point to pictures (especially Elmo) and name objects (in her own way), loves to point to things if you ask her to (she even knows all her siblings' names), help with laundry, get into the fridge, tug on your clothes, unplug the baby monitors, press buttons, and do low scale climbing.  

Levi: 17 lb 8 oz, 28 in tall, he could swiffer all day long, but any push/pull toy will do, besides swiffering, he doesn't do one thing for long, least interested in tv, loves Maggie's toys and teasing her, likes books, dancing, head stands, independent play, talking, tilting his head to look at you, peek a boo, and carrying around toys

About a month or so ago it was time to bust out the 18 month clothes.  I HATE switching clothes sizes.  It's at least a week long process since I can only work on it for short spurts.  First I get all of the new size out of storage (VERY THANKFUL for hand-me-downs!), sort it for initial give aways, wash all of the new size, sort by gender and clothing type, then see what I'm really keeping as I start to run out of room in their drawers and bins.  This is all after I've already boxed up the current little kids clothes and moved the big size down to the little ones' drawers and bins.  Anyway, here was my 18 month laundry pile...

And I leave you with my favorite question from our last zoo trip... "Are those quadtriplets?"

Oh, and this video of the "Freak Out"...