Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Day in the Life

I haven't posted in a few months on what my basic day-to-day life schedule looks like.  I should do these more often, because, sadly, when people ask me when I started something with them or what the schedule was at certain ages, I really can't remember.  I mean, bottles and dream feeds seem like a lifetime ago.

We're still transitioning from 2 naps to 1, so the overall schedule depends on that.  Also, my personal schedule depends on if I'm running in the morning or not- that also affects how early I start drinking the caffeine.  :)  Of course, a few times a running day turns into a non-running day when the alarm goes off and I just have no interest in getting up yet.  So here goes...

4:45 am- groggily (that's a word, right?) get out of bed and quickly put on running clothes before I change my mind and head out the door as soon as I motivate myself to do so (usually 5-515)

6:15 am- finish up work out and get breakfast ready for the munchkins then quick shower.  On non-running days I get up about 6 and start on breakfast.  I pre-make breakfasts for running days- casseroles, muffins, crock pot oatmeal, etc.

6:45-7am- Kiddos awaken and eat breakfast- usually Dave gets started on the diaper changes while I finish showering.  Kiddos wake time is still based on Dave helping with breakfast before heading to work.

7:45- Leah eats breakfast and so do I and so does Maggie (phew- everyone fed for one meal)

8-9am- Kids play in the pen and watch the Today show (or maybe that's me) while I dress them/play/rest a little while they climb on me and poke my eyeballs and nose saying "Dat!"

9-9:30am- Decision time- 1 nap or 2?  How tired and cranky is Caroline acting- can she make it all morning?  How energetic do I feel?  If 2 naps, all kids have books in their cribs to read if they don't want to sleep (except Caroline- she needs the sleep).

9am-12pm- Busy busy time!  If no morning nap I turn on Sesame Street and they're free to watch or play in my bathroom while I finish any getting ready that didn't happen earlier.  I also try to fit in some quality mommy/kid time reading, singing, or silly dancing before the traffic starts.  By 10am if there are therapists and volunteers coming, they've started arriving.  While the in-and-out traffic is going on, I'm trying to get some Leah time in, feed morning snacks, do any chores (i.e. laundry), a round of diaper changes, prepare lunch, and do any dinner prep that needs doing- oh yeah, and play!  If there is a morning nap I can fit any morning chores and Leah time in then.

12-1pm- Depending on 1 or 2 naps, they'll go down for an afternoon nap sometime in this hour.

12 or 1- 315 or 330- NAP TIME!!  Glorious nap time.  I am grateful my kids take long afternoon naps and have no issues staying in their rooms if they wake up (and I have no issue ignoring them a little bit if they wake up early).  I use nap time to get my quality 1 on 1 with Leah, make phone calls, dinner cooking, cleaning, laundry, emails- basically tackle as much of the to do list as I can!  Of course, some days are more efficient than others.  Every now and then a friend will bring me lunch and we sit and eat and visit the whole time.  It's the best!

330ish- Back on duty!  If anyone's coming over for the afternoon (volunteer or playmates) they've arrived and my kids get an afternoon snack.  Then we all play!  Playing is anything from coloring and puzzles at the table to running around outside to reading books on the couch to fighting over the slide.

430- Start the prep for going on a walk.  I make their dinner plates and put on their jackets or sunscreen or whatever's needed for the current weather.

5-545- Walking the kiddos and dog around the neighborhood.  Sanity time for sure- for all of us (even Maggie).

545-715- Evening routine (have a helper 95% of the time): dinner, baths, pjs, kids watch Blues Clues or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse while adults clean up dinner, prep Leah's evening feed, pick up toys and such outside of pen.  The 5 go to bed at 715!

715-745- Final round of picking up toys.  Then some Mommy, Daddy, Leah time before she eats and goes to bed.

8pm-??- Free time!!  I get to do whatever I've decided I'm going to do until I go to bed.  My current bedtime goal is midnight.  I'm still working on it.  Bedtime has never been my strong suit- just ask my mom.

There you have it!  A day in the life of Lauren.  Unless we have an outing of some sort, then things get changed a bit.  Pretty exciting, huh?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Breakfast Casserole

I've thought about doing recipe posts for awhile now, but I'm usually in such a hurry cooking I forget to take pictures of the process.  This recipe is an absolute go-to.  I make it every couple of weeks and I make it the night before, so one time I was leisurely and took pictures :)  This casserole is great because it's easy, delicious, the whole family gobbles it up, and it makes enough to feed the kiddos for 3 breakfasts!  Perfect for mornings I run when I don't have time to really cook a breakfast- portion it out and microwave.  

Breakfast Egg Casserole

1 can crescent rolls
1 lb breakfast sausage (can sub bacon or ham or leave meat out)
10 eggs
 2 cups cheese
3/4 c milk
1 tsp italian seasonings
Veggies (optional)

Preheat oven to 375.  While it's preheating, spray or grease 13x9 pan and roll out the crescent rolls.  I usually bake this layer for about 8 min, but sometimes I don't and the dish still comes out fine.

While the rolls are baking, cook the sausage in a skillet and drain the grease.

On this particular occasion I had fresh spinach around, so I added a layer of spinach on top of the crescent rolls.  You could really add any veggies you want at this point, or leave them out entirely- up to you!

Then add the meat...

Whisk together the eggs, cheese, milk, and italian seasoning

Pour mixture on top of the meat and spread evenly

Bake at 375 for 30 min.  In my oven it takes 30 min, but my oven usually cooks a little fast.  End result looks like this...

Yum!  Hard part is waiting until the next morning to eat some!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Perkins Pack Pickins

Just some random stuff they're doing lately that didn't fit into any particular post category...

  • hand motions to songs- I love this one!  I've been waiting and waiting for them to copy me while singing "Wheels on the Bus", "Happy and You Know It", and "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and they're catching on!  Caroline, Allison, and Andrew are pretty consistent and Levi jumps in from time to time.  Ben doesn't seem to care much about hand motions.
  • communication- I love this one too!  They're only using a few words (yeah, more, mama -when they're upset or need something, dada, duck, done, bye, what's that) but they're starting to show much more understanding and interest in words and using gestures to communicate.  Allison is queen of the head shake- yes and no, but mostly no; she also does the 'I don't know' shoulder shrug quite well.  Caroline only shakes no.  Levi does thumbs up and thumbs down, luckily most things earn a thumbs up (I think because he knows it's so cute).  Ben, Andrew, and Allison spend most of their time asking "What's that?" and Caroline does her fair share too.  I spend a. lot. of. time. labeling things, but it's all for the betterment of their language development, right?  Receptively they can point to all sorts of things and follow simple commands when they so choose.  
  • stacking- Andrew is super stacker.  He's my little helper, at the end of each meal he starts stacking plates and bowls when he's done eating.  He can stack up to 5 blocks by himself!  He'll also help me clean up if it involves stacking cups.  Allison has starting showing interest in stacking.  Ben and Caroline only want to stack if they get to knock it down.  Levi likes to come behind everyone and destroy their work.  But Andrew is still the biggest toy snatcher!
  • dancing- We love to dance!  Most of the time if they hear any sort of music, you'll see at least 2 kids swaying or demonstrating their own moves.  Levi's are by far the most unique :)  By doing many a dance party, I have also learned that the best way to get Andrew dancing is Beyonce's Single Ladies- he can't resist it!
  • fountains- We continue to do evening stroller walks everyday.  Recently I realized they loved seeing the fountains in the fake lakes around the neighborhood and found a route with optimal fountain viewing.  Little did I know that they would learn this route and get upset if I ever try to veer from it!  I'm serious- if I pass up the entrance to the greenbelt they'll start wailing.  So, fountains it is.  
  • eating- They're still good eaters and I can't really complain, but they are still toddlers.  From one day to the next I really don't know what they'll really eat.  I do continue to make one meal or snack for the group and they eat it or they don't.  No short order cooks in this house!  What they have figured out though, is that they can put disliked foods on each others' plates and try to take desired foods from someone else's plate.  It's kind of funny to watch, but I really don't want them to think that's ok to do- especially when eating with non-siblings!  So, we're trying to teach them sharing and trading food.  We'll see how it goes.
  • tv- Andrew has learned to turn the tv on.  He's the only one tall enough to reach.  Once he does they all turn and scream at us to put a show on or they point at the remote to let us know what to do.
  • big tub- They LOVE bathing in the big tub!  It took a few weeks of slowly getting over the crying of a new activity, but it was worth it.  Bath time is so fun now!  The boys scream while the girls are in the bathroom and take off running when I say it's their turn- race to get in first!  They all just play the whole time and think being rinsed off is hilarious.
  • naps- we're transitioning to 1 nap.  It's about at a 50/50 whether they have 2 naps or 1 nap.  I make a judgment call about 9 am every morning, usually based on Caroline's behavior (she gets tired and cranky easiest)
  • pacis- New Year meant No Pacis!  I took away the boys pacis and within 2 days they were good.  The only times they tend to get upset is when they wake up from a nap, but I've put books in their cribs for naps and that's helped a lot.
  • favorite activities- playing outside, sliding, running in the hall, being on the couch, riding in cozy coupes, play kitchens and food, puzzles, Elmo, Mickey Mouse, Blue's Clues, books, songs and dance, balls, and blocks.  Trucks and cars are just beginning
  • discipline- Oh terrible twos, I know you're coming.  The amount of dramatic fits has definitely increased lately.  Not to mention testing limits.  These days when they hear no it's either a throw myself on the floor or giggle type of reaction.  We're trying to stay consistent and follow through and mostly ignore unacceptable behavior, but boy is it hard sometimes!  I think I'll need individual timers once we start time out.
Levi and Allison sharing a cozy coupe

Caroline emptying the kid cabinet- again.

Levi and his guitar

Sweet Leah fell asleep while listening to her music

Caroline reading at her "desk"

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Christmas Time

This year Christmas really seemed to sneak up on me.  I've never been doing Christmas prep so close to the wire before.  I have a feeling it won't be my last time.  I didn't even get Christmas cards out until December 20th!  I personally didn't get very many cards until right before Christmas either which, to me, meant I wasn't the only one behind this year.

Our family's Christmas card picture this year- decided to just go with the crazy instead of fighting it
Our house was decorated inside and out thanks to some wonderful friends!  Honestly, I did VERY LITTLE decorating- we're talking hanging up stockings and Christmas cards and that's it.  A twin mom friend decorated the inside for me (she volunteered!) and the outside was a huge surprise donation from Home Depot and Gulf Coast Lawn Enforcement (we have some awesome friends who arranged this for us).  I was shocked when I saw a group of men hanging lights on our house.  Luckily, my mom let me in on the surprise before I ran outside to tell them "Wrong house!  I'm not paying you!"  That could've been embarrassing.

With a bunch of 1 1/2 year olds running around, we really couldn't participate in too many Christmas activities.  We did go looking at Christmas lights, but they fell asleep soon after we left home.  I may have fallen asleep too, so I guess Dave and my parents saw lots of lights.

We also took the kids to see Santa this year.  I did have an adult per child and that was definitely the way to go!  Bass Pro Shop by our house has a great Santa's Wonderland and gives you one free picture.  We called ahead to let them know we were coming and showed up at opening time on a Monday morning- good call.  They were very accommodating and let me do individuals and a group shot.  Andrew and Allison cried through it, Ben and Levi completely hammed it up, and Caroline and Leah were quite indifferent to the whole thing.  The event coordinator for the store was very nice and gave us lots of free pictures and invited us back for next year!  Free pictures = you will see us next year.

A group of friends wanted to get the kids something, but knowing we have plenty of toys, books, and clothes decided to go a more practical route.  A few days before Christmas they delivered a car load of wrapped gifts.  So thoughtful and sweet!  The kids had a blast climbing all over them and sometimes pulling paper.  Us adults got some laughs as we unwrapped paper towels, diapers, canned fruit, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, and cookies.  It was great!


Why open when you can climb?
I intended to bake, but with our 15 containers/platters of cookies and candies received from friends, family, and neighbors there was no need and we all ate way too many sweets this Christmas!  The kids definitely learned the word "cookie" this season.

Christmas Eve we opened our family gifts.  Again, the kids were mostly interested in climbing all over them- even the tiny ones.  They pulled some of the paper and liked taking bows off and they were somewhat interested in the gifts.  Gifts were more appreciated the next day when they were set out in play areas.  We really lucked out that they got so many birthday gifts.  I had lots of stuff still in storage and we just wrapped up the birthday gifts in Christmas paper.  Worked out fabulously!  All the big birthday gifts/hand-me-downs were delivered by Santa overnight.  These included play kitchens, Cozy Coupes, and toddler couches.  Dave wasn't thrilled with staying up late to play Santa, but the kids really love all the things he brought, so it was worth it.  And I reminded Dave that we're just getting started with the whole Santa thing :)

It's a big one!

Hi Maggie

Sisterly Love

Sticker nose
Christmas Day we headed to my brother's house.  Festivities were scheduled for the afternoon when they usually nap, so I made sure they got a longer morning nap and pre-ate lunch.  Only problem with that was Caroline got car sick on the way there and had to celebrate Christmas in pants and shoes only. Oops.  Honestly, they did pretty well for having to skip a nap.  They explored and played until they just couldn't take it anymore and slowly all started melting down and we had to leave.  We were able to eat and very quickly rip open our gifts from extended family.  Then it was all over!  Christmas done for another year.  Well, besides the clean up which is about as much work as the setting up!

Levi testing out the new couch

Leah modeling her Christmas outfit on the new couch

I know there are cookies up there!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Adventurous Outings

I tend to call any outing with all of my children an adventure, because 1. it sounds more positive and 2. it's quite the accurate description.  With any outing having adventure potential, the following 3 set the bar high (toddlers running free!) and did not disappoint...

1. Gymboree

We were invited to our friend's 2nd birthday party at Gymboree.  I debated not going, but as we were half the party, convinced a few neighbors to help me with kid patrol and we all loaded up in the van and headed to Gymboree.  SO glad I did!  They had so much fun!  As usual, the girls were much more timid than the boys.  Allison had to cry a bit and be held before she could play.  Caroline found an elevated slide she liked to walk back and forth on and watched the party from there.  She only came down for bubble time and running in a circle time.  The boys just loved it all!  It was obvious my kids were the ones who were inexperienced with organized activities and following directions.  For example, the teachers said to clear the mats for the next activity and there stands Levi in the middle dancing to the music.  During bubble time there were bubbles EVERYWHERE and no one was more excited than Benjamin Perkins.   He was squealing as loud as he could and yelling his version of the word "BUBBLES!!!"  It was hilarious.  I did narrowly stop Andrew from eating off other kids plates they had abandoned on the table and we left before the pink and purpled iced chocolate cake was served.  I had no desire to clean that mess up.

2. The Big Parks

My new favorite thing to do with the kids (when I have plenty of adults to supervise) is go to the big parks!  We have a huge park close by that has about 7 play areas.  While my parents were here we picked a large play area and let them run loose.  Of course they all went in different directions and we took turns taking Leah off roading in her stroller.  They had so much fun just exploring- walking through leaves, touching trees, and looking at all the new things.  We took them a second time while my in-laws were here and they were much more interested in the play structure- climbing and sliding were activities of choice.  When we don't have the time or manpower to head to the big park, we have taken to walking to a big sunken down field in our neighborhood and just let them run free.  They love it!

3. BounceTown

My great idea (?) gone wrong.  I got a tip from a neighbor that our local BounceTown has an enclosed toddler area and it's really fun and great change of scenery.  So, with my parents in town, decided we could take them.  As usual, the boys were ok and the girls cried and had to be held and hated it.  The boys didn't love it, but they were not upset.  Then, to make it even more fun, a day care and 2 birthday parties showed up.  Insanity!  The big kids started invading the toddler bouncy and we quickly moved to the toddler play area that had many familiar toys.  They all had moments of fun here, but it was just too loud and crowded and really hard to keep a good head count going.  So, we high-tailed it out of there.  I think this place has potential, but we'll wait to try it again on a weekday morning during the school year :)