Tuesday, December 31, 2013

They're 5!

One week ago today, four special 4-year-olds turned 5 years old! And this time we weren't visiting the abuelitos like we were last year ... now we actually live with them, in their house, in TEXAS!

Something else was different, too. The kids have always had birthday cupcakes in four different frosting colors, but this year everyone got his or her own cake! Isaac requested white cake, Lucy wanted strawberry, Jude asked for chocolate, and Dahlia wanted banana. Mommy baked everyone's special order and frosted the cakes in each kid's corresponding color:

Isaac, Lucia, Jude, and Dahlia turn 5!

The girls wore dresses made by Abuelita. Lucy's biggest wish was to have a dress that touched the floor, and she got it!


As usual, there was a mountain of gifts. Maybe the biggest pile yet ... with four kids getting presents from parents, two sets of grandparents, two sets of tíos, and wonderful friends, new and old, near and far ... it really adds up! And the kids were definitely not complaining!


One of the best things about a Christmas Eve birthday is knowing that you are getting even more gifts the very next day. The only thing that makes that more exciting is having special birthday jammies to wear while waiting for Christmas morning. This year the kids were thrilled to go to bed dressed as superheroes and princesses—Spiderman, the Incredible Hulk, Ariel, and Aurora, to be exact:


But before hitting the sack they took some time to jam with Isaac's new drum set while wearing their birthday crowns from their beloved preschool teacher in Indiana, Miss M:


It was the perfect end to a very long, very fun day. Thank you to everyone who remembered our kiddos and helped all of their birthday wishes come true!

Friday, July 5, 2013

On two wheels

Ever since the weather warmed up this year, we've been spending a lot of time like this:


Today, however, thanks to the kindness of neighbors we'd never seen or met before, neighbors who just happened to be on their driveway when we rode by, our daily trike ride changed forever. We now have a bike! The boys are especially thrilled:


Since they've only ever ridden trikes before, it took a bit of practice for them to get the hang of pedaling without braking every rotation or two. I must admit that I was particularly frustrated trying to teach Isaac how to pedal without braking. He eventually figured it out, but not before teaching me a lot about perseverance: Every time he'd "mess up," he'd get right back on the bike and cheerfully say, "Let's try again!" Jude also struggled a bit, but he found his groove a lot more quickly than his brother:



The challenge now will be managing who gets a turn with the bike and when. I envision a bike purchase (or two or three) in our near future!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Adding up

A while back I noticed that Lucy was starting to understand that if one kid left the table, only three kids remained, and other such scenarios. Eager to encourage any burgeoning math skills, I started occasionally creating my own word problems in the midst our daily life to introduce the kids to the the idea of addition, subtraction, fractions, and the like. Apparently this approach is exactly what Lucy needed to learn to add without any formal instruction! Check out what she can do:



Isaac may be our numbers guy (he taught himself to count to 100 well before any of the others could reliably count to 20!), but it looks like Lucy's the first to understand what you can actually do with numbers. Girl power!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ride's over

Today marked the end of an era in the life of our little family: We sold our choo choo wagon! And because people around the world seem to have enjoyed the kids' first choo choo ride so much (or maybe just because we are dorks!), Ted and I decided that the most fitting farewell would be to film a little sequel:



Goodbye, dear choo choo ... you served us well!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Read it, brother!

I recently came across a book that I hadn't read to the kids since they were babies. On the way home from church today, Dahlia asked me to read their "new" book to her, but because she was sitting in the seat behind me, I couldn't do it.

Isaac to the rescue! 

Not only did he read an entire volume of novel text to her, but he also did it with feeling! And so patiently, too. Here's a clip:



Nice to know I've got a good little story-time sub in the back seat!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Out of the box

A box is just a box. 
Until you look at it and decide that it's actually a doghouse:


Until you realize that you can get in, shut the "door," and be alone, for once:


Until you figure out that you can push two boxes together to make a cozy, private cave for two:


Until you round up a couple more boxes to create a haven with just enough room for all of you:


Until it occurs to you that maybe, just maybe, Mommy will let you decorate your new homes with markers:


A box is just a box?
Not when you're 4 years old!

 

* I would like to thank all of the boxes pictured in this post for endlessly entertaining the kiddos this week—and helping to make spring break at home a little more enjoyable for all of us!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

For the love of art

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.
Pablo Picasso

As a kid, I always thought that I'd be an artist when I grew up. Although that dream faded and died long ago, my love of art and art history did not. Lately I've been thinking a lot about how I can foster the same art appreciation in my kids, especially since they are starting to exhibit a real interest in creating their own masterpieces. Check out the paintings they brought home from preschool yesterday:

Isaac
Clockwise from bottom: "Tree, car, house, snake, tree, snake"
Isaac says: "That's my friend's house. The car is racing!"
  
Lucy
"A window circle"
I told her I think it looks like a stained glass window!

Jude
"A monster. His name is Cacas. He likes restaurants. He sleeps on a convertible that is purple like him. He has 3 stomping feet."
The paint really is purple; it just doesn't look like it here. And look at that texture!

Dahlia
Self-portrait with "dirty grass, umbrella, blueberry, light bulb, a duck on the ceiling, and the number 6"
As usual, Dahlia's favorite thing to draw is herself!

Don't you just love how each kid already displays his or her own distinctive style?

Each piece they produce is like a little window into their minds and makes me so excited about what they are capable of creating, especially with some further instruction. Call me crazy, but I'm hoping to start teaching them a little about art myself soon, via some of these kid-friendly art projects inspired by the masters. Donations of art supplies (or extra patience) welcome!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Adios, Abuelito

Last night my beloved Abuelito passed away. Although he'd been very ill for some time and his death was not unexpected, his departure still hurts. Although we are relieved that he is no longer in pain, our family still hurts. And although I know he is now in the presence of Jesus, my heart still hurts.

Growing up as a missionary kid, I did not have the privilege of seeing my grandparents very often. Yet, in Abuelito, the Lord blessed me with a loving grandfather who never made me feel like a stranger, despite the fact that we lived thousands of miles apart and saw each other only once every few years. 


As an adult, I didn't call him as often as I should have. When we did talk, though, my Abuelito always had something of value to share, whether the topic of conversation was a happy one or not. A couple of times he told me that during my pregnancy he'd look at the pictures of my growing belly and think, "Que valiente es mi madre." I replied that I wasn't brave, that I was just doing what I had to do, but he remained unswayed in his conviction. Many times since then, when I have felt unequal to the task of being a mother to quadruplets, I have recalled his words and felt reassured by his utter confidence in me.

When the babies were born, I knew that I would probably never be able to take the kids to Peru during my Abuelito's lifetime, and I was equally sure that he would never be able to make the trip here at his age (he was then 88). I was resigned to the fact that my last surviving grandparent would not meet my children. But when the babies were 8 months old, my Tio Ner and Tia Harriet gave me the incredible gift of bringing my Abuelito here to meet his great-grandchildren, a precious opportunity for which I will be forever grateful. 


Today, as I think about my parents traveling to Peru for the funeral on Sunday, I can't help but remember my last goodbye with Abuelito. It was here in my house, as he and my Tia Julia were getting ready to head to the airport. I met him between the kitchen and the playroom, and we embraced. We hugged for a long time. We held each other very tight. I did not want to let go. I cried very hard. I whispered in his ear, "This might be the last time I see you. You know that." Smiling, he replied, "Tal vez no" ("maybe not").

Turns out we were both right. 

I'll see you in heaven, Abuelito. Someday.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Hanging it up: DIY dress-up clothes rack

My kids love to dress up, but I was getting tired of looking at the growing heap of dress-up clothes crammed into our toy box:


The clothes were getting ruined, and it was impossible to find anything in that mess. So yesterday I decided to do something about it—by building a miniature garment rack!

Not being a handy person, I wasn't exactly sure how to go about this, but a quick Google search led me to an eHow tutorial that seemed doable. Armed with my step-by-step instructions, I confidently headed to Home Depot to get my supplies, only to learn (after I'd already had the guy cut my PVC pipe) that home-improvement stores don't even carry the 4-way connectors that the tutorial requires (apparently they were used only in a type of boiler that is no longer in production). Miraculously, however, my non-engineer brain was able to quickly come up with a simple work-around. Here's my revised list of supplies:

  • 2 36-inch lengths of 1-inch PVC pipe
  • 2 30-inch lengths of 1-inch PVC pipe
  • 4 12-inch lengths of 1-inch PVC pipe
  • 2 6-inch lengths of 1-inch PVC pipe
  • 6 90-degree elbow joints for 1-inch PVC pipe
  • 4 tee connectors for 1-inch PVC pipe
  • All-purpose cement for PVC

Using the eHow tutorial as my guide, putting the rack together took mere minutes:

Here's what you do for my version:
  1. Join two 12-inch lengths of pipe horizontally with a tee connector. Place an elbow joint on each end to create your first foot. Repeat for the other foot.
  2. Join a 6-inch and 30-inch length of pipe with a tee connector. Put the other end of the 6-inch piece into the top of one foot, with remaining tee opening positioned perpendicular to the foot, to create one leg. Place an elbow joint on the other end of the 30-inch piece, facing the same direction as the tee opening, to finish your first leg. Repeat steps with the other foot to create the other leg.
  3. Now place each length of 36-inch pipe into the elbow joint at the top of one leg and the remaining tee opening toward the bottom of that leg. Connect the legs by placing the other ends of the 36-inch pipes into the elbow joint and tee connector on the other leg. 
  4. Once you've dry-fitted the rack, take apart and reassemble using all-purpose cement to glue the pieces together. When the glue is dry, hang your clothes on the rack. 
Ta-da!


The kids love it, and so do I! It's the perfect size for preschoolers, and even once it's outlived its current purpose, I can still see myself using it to hang clothes in the laundry room or even at a yard sale. Cheap, easy, and super-useful ... that's my kind of project!

**Update: After just a few days of use, I didn't like the way the feet were sagging in the middle, where the two 12-inch pieces are inserted in the tee connector. So, since I hadn't glued the elbows on the ends of the feet yet, I decided to turn them inward for the time being. I plan to replace these elbows with caps and will post updated pictures when I do.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Driver's education

Every day is a learning experience with these guys, and our 4 days on the road for our second trip to Texas were no exception. Some things we learned on our way there and back:

  • Poor Isaac has inherited Mommy and Daddy's car-sickness genes. Pass the bucket!
  • Lucy could do sticker pages all day and all night. Even in the dark. (No car-sickness genes for her!)
  • As long as the DVD player is running, my kids will not sleep. Not a wink.
  • The real trick to getting the Fab Four to sleep in the car is to say that it's nap time and then quit talking to them. (They didn't sleep at all in the car the first time we drove to Texas, so I was elated to find a way to get them to take a nap!)

Asleep at last!

  • In the car, Dahlia is always the last to succumb to Mr. Sandman. Always.
  • Jude is really, really nasty when he wakes up from a car nap. Stay clear!
  • The most effective way to settle down a restless Fab Four: Turn on some Beatles. Instant peace.
  • Speaking of peace, it's harder to come by now that the kids' arms and legs are getting longer. We're running out of space in this van!
  • It is possible to hear the question, "Are we in Texas?" a bajillion times without strangling anybody. It is possible, but just barely.

And, last but not least, we confirmed something we already knew:

  • It really stinks to live a 2-day car drive away from our abuelitos!!

Monday, December 31, 2012

They're 4!

When the kids were born, they changed everything, including the way we celebrate Christmas Eve. This year, we changed the way we celebrate their birthday. For the first time, they did not sit in their quad table at home. Instead, they sat around the dining room table at Abuelito and Abuelita's house in TEXAS!


On the big day, Abuelita prepared an eclectic lunch menu composed of each kid's special requests, which the kids did not even touch. They were too excited about the cake! Familiar with our tradition, Abuelita had ordered cupcakes in each kid's special color:


After eating their fill of cake (or, to be more accurate, frosting), the kids were more than ready to attack the mountain of presents from Mommy and Daddy, the abuelitos, and Tio Johnny and Tia Holly:


The kids got a lot of great stuff, but for me the best gift was having my entire family together on December 24 for the first time since the kids were born:


The kids' birthday was already a whole week ago, but it feels like the party never stopped. We've been having a blast here at Abuelito and Abuelita's house ... it's gonna be hard to leave!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I spy

Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. And with my camera-phobic kids, sometimes that means hiding with the camera if I want to catch them doing something cute. It's how I got video of them running on the couch when they were about 18 months old and then having a dance party a month later, it's how I managed to record a peekaboo giggle-fest between the girls close to their second birthday ... and it's how I was able to capture them playing "Ring Around the Rosie" today:



The best part? How Lucy asks Isaac to marry her at the end. The worst part? That I stopped filming just before Jude told Dahlia he would marry her. The funniest part? Gotta be Jude's choice of footwear!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thinking of thanks

Last year on Thanksgiving I recorded what the kids said they were thankful for on that particular day. This year I continued the tradition by jotting down what they expressed thankfulness for on our way to Grandma and Grandpa T's house for Thanksgiving dinner. Here is what they said:

Isaac
Chick-Fil-A, White Castle (can you see a theme here?), and school

Lucia
Our kitty cat (of whom she is, incidentally, terrified), us, clothes, a house, and Christmas

Jude
My birthday (he's been talking about it all year!), my house, my church, and my teachers

Dahlia
Grandma and Grandpa, Bisabuelo, and Jesus (okay, I must be doing something right)

As for me, I am thankful for God's faithfulness and for the ways in which he has revealed himself to me so powerfully this year. I am also thankful for a husband who, despite having to work long hours, still finds time to balance the checkbook, maintain the house, and support me in any way he can. I am thankful for our church, which has enabled our family to grow in so many ways this year; for our parents, whose assistance has often kept us afloat since the kids came along; and for good friends who continue to give of themselves to help us clothe, teach, entertain, and love our kiddos.

And, yes, I am thankful for the little rascals themselves:

Posing outside Grandma and Grandpa T's house on Thanksgiving Day
 
(Even if they do continue to give me fits when I'm trying to get a good group shot!)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Being almost 4

Sometimes I forget how little you are,
That you haven't seen everything,
That, to you, the world is still new.
And then I do something ordinary,
Like blow bubbles with my chewing gum,
Something totally ordinary that,
Through you, becomes extraordinary.
And I'm reminded of the wonder,
The sheer wonder of being almost 4.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sentenced

Seven months ago, Isaac shocked us by teaching himself to write words on his magnadoodle. Today, 6 weeks shy of his 4th birthday, he surprised us again by writing his very first sentence:

"It's my waffle"


Yeah, he got a little creative with the spelling of "waffle," but look closely: He knew to put an apostrophe in "it's"! That's my boy!

His brother also surprised me today, with a sentence of a different sort. See, on Monday I decided to start reading My ABC Bible Verses to the kids. But since they didn't seem too interested in the first entry, I kind of forgot about it for a few days. This morning at breakfast I had them repeat Monday's key verse with me a few times and figured that was that.

But that was not that: As I was serving lunch, Jude looked at me with a twinkle in his eye and confidently recited, "A soft answer turns away wrath." I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Just like that, he'd memorized Proverbs 15:1! That's my boy!!

Thank you, Lord, for the privilege of serving a life sentence as mom to these two incredibly precious boys!

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