Monday, August 30, 2010

No hard feelings

If you played along with yesterday's whodunit and deduced that Lucy was the biter, you cracked the case! The victim was a hapless Dahlia—but she's not holding a grudge. Here's proof:

Sunday, August 29, 2010

CSI: Mommy

A piercing scream. A sobbing child. One bite mark—and three seemingly innocent bystanders.

I hear the sounds of distress and come running to see what happened. In an instant, my extensive forensic training (via true-crime novels and television shows) kicks in, and I begin to process the scene.

Step 1: Interview the victim and the witnesses.

I don't expect to learn much from this part of the investigation, and my veteran instincts prove to be correct. What follows is the official transcript of our exchange:

Mommy: (to victim) "What happened, honey?"
Victim: "Wahhh!!"
Mommy: (to witnesses) "Who did this?
Witnesses: *crickets chirp*

Step 2:
Examine the scene.

I have responded quickly enough to ensure that the crime scene remains undisturbed. I observe that all three witnesses are standing in close proximity to the victim. Witness #1 is holding a car, witness #2 is holding a ball, and witness #3 is holding a night-night; the victim is empty-handed. Notably, the victim's arm shows a clear dental imprint:



Step 3:
Process the evidence.

This is where my photographic memory comes in handy: I quickly compare the laceration to my mental dental map of the victim and each of the witnesses. My analysis not only rules out a self-inflicted wound, but it also allows me to identify (and sternly reprimand) the perpetrator within seconds.


Case closed! Can you figure out who holds the dubious distinction of being the first member of the Fab Four to bite a former wombmate?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

20 months old ... letting 'em loose!

What happens when you take four 20-month-olds and give them free rein in someone else's (ungated!) home? Surprisingly, not much. At least that was the case last night, when we went over to our friends Joe and Lisa's house for dinner—yet another first for the Fab Four!

Four factors made the situation manageable:
  • The place was already toddler-proofed for Joe and Lisa's 3-year-old son, Reece.
  • The floorplan made it easy to keep an eye on the little kids—even without the gates we depend on at home.
  • The adult-to-quadruplet ratio was 1:1.
  • Joe and Lisa were totally cool and not the least bit intimidated by the possibility of four toddlers running amok inside their house.
At first, the Fab Four weren't quite sure what to do with their newfound freedom. But as soon as the toys came out, they began to make themselves at home: Dahlia plopped herself on the couch, Isaac started exploring the bookshelves, and Jude commandeered a dump truck. As for Lucy, she was most comfortable observing the others from the very spot in which we'd initially set her down.


While Lisa finished dinner preparations, the rest of us decided to go ahead and move into the backyard—and what a yard! It was spacious, featured a beautiful fence and deck, overlooked a pond, and even had a big slide!


The Fab Four had a blast running all over the place, throwing balls, climbing on and off the deck, and trying to pet the neighbor's dogs through the fence. Dahlia even climbed up the slide by herself and slid down into Lisa's waiting arms—what a brave girl!


The weather was perfect, the burgers were delicious (even Jude and Dahlia thought so, although Isaac and Lucy wouldn't try them), and everyone was in a great mood (read: no meltdowns and only one timeout). In fact, the six of us had such a good time that, by the time we finally said our goodbyes and drove home, it was an hour past the kids' bedtime—and it was totally worth it!

Thank you, Joe and Lisa, for providing our family with a great dinner, enjoyable company, and a wonderful taste of freedom—we can't wait to do it again!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A pool, a picnic, and presents!

This weekend we were reunited with my cousin Glenda, who lived with us last summer but spent this summer as an intern in Hawaii. We missed her lots and were thrilled to have her spend a couple of days with us before she begins her (gulp!) senior year in college.

Three things we loved about her visit:

1. SWIMMING ...


Glenda arrived on Friday afternoon, and as soon as the Fab Four had their snack, we loaded them into the Choo Choo for their first trek to the neighborhood pool. Three out of four kids loved the baby pool (Jude tolerated it after initially refusing to get in), no one drowned (despite a couple of accidental dunkings for Isaac and Lucy), and there was only one meltdown (you guessed it: Dahlia didn't want to leave)!

2. REUNIONS ...

On Saturday morning, Glenda accompanied the six of us to our first NICU reunion picnic. The hospital where I delivered the Fab Four holds this event every year so that the wonderful people who cared for these miracle babies can see how everyone has grown since being released from their ward. We were happily surprised to run into some friends as soon as we got to the park, and Glenda snapped this shot of two healthy sets of quads with four very thankful parents:

The Fab Four meet the Murray Crew
(l to r: Isaac, Clark, Henry, and Brooks)

Although it turned out that our kids were too young to enjoy most of the picnic activities, it was still fun to walk around, talk to friends, and just do something different from our usual routine. Before we left, we ran into the kids' two primary care nurses, and Glenda once again stepped in to record a special meeting:

Gretchen and Amanda reunite with the Fab Four

Although Ted and I could have easily handled the outing on our own, it was nice to share the experience with Glenda, who visited the babies in the NICU and spent several months helping us take care of them last year.

And last but not least ...

3. SOUVENIRS!

The first thing Glenda did when she got to the house on Friday was to produce a box of presents. Among the gifts she brought us were four adorable Hawaiian outfits for the kids ... that I totally forgot to have them model while she was here. Oops! Hopefully these pictures, taken after she went home, will make up for my faux pas:

Dahlia and Lucy, in love with their beautiful muumuus

Jude and Isaac, goofing around in their Hawaiian shirt sets


Thanks for making this such a fun weekend, Tia Glenda!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Library rues

You know how sometimes your kids just make you want to crawl under a rock and hide? That's how I felt this morning, when I was crazy enough to take the Fab Four to "toddler time" at the library.

Story time itself actually went fine. Our crew met up beforehand with my friend Alysia, her 3-year-old son, and her 1-year-old triplets, and then we all parked ourselves at the back of the classroom to sing a song and listen to a couple of stories. Isaac, Jude, and the triplets stayed in their respective strollers, but due to our stroller's design, the girls couldn't see unless I took them out. Although Lucy was quite content to sit in Alysia's lap, Dahlia just wanted to run around, which meant that I spent the entire time trying to keep her under control (I know one of the stories was about a giant potato, but don't even ask me about the other one!). Even so, I was ready to consider our brief trip to the library a success:

Listening to story time
Then came the embarrassing part. It started with Dahlia freaking out when it was time to go back in the stroller, continued with Isaac freaking out when he couldn't see me (I had to push the stroller out of the library while holding his hand from behind), and culminated with Jude and Dahlia freaking out when I put them in the van. To make a stressful situation even worse, a woman pulled in next to us while I was taking apart the stroller (amid screams) and coldly informed me that my kids didn't seem too happy (really? I had no idea!). By the time I climbed in the driver's seat, I was dripping with sweat and deeply sorry that I'd attempted to do something normal like go to the library with my kids.

Remind me when it is that children learn to control their emotions—it's soon, right? Right??

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Before and after

It's been 2 months since my tummy tuck, and 6 weeks since I had to undergo emergency surgery for complications. I've finally started feeling back to normal in the last week or two, and apparently I am looking back to normal, too: On Thursday my surgeon told me that my swelling is just about gone! Time to post the much-requested "before and after" (and after!) pics:

Left: 4 weeks pregnant with quadruplets
Center: At same weight, a year and a half after delivery
Right: 8 weeks after going in for repairs

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Budding artists

I have a confession to make: Last week I gave the Fab Four crayons—for the first time ever. Yes, I, the girl who once dreamed of becoming an artist, waited almost 20 months to introduce my own children to the joys of coloring. My only excuses are that (a) until recently it's been difficult to fit anything "extra" into our schedule, and (b) I was afraid of the mess. I mean, think about it: four toddlers indiscriminately wielding multicolored sticks of wax? Shudder!

But it turns out that adding the occasional apr├Ęs-snack coloring session has been a great way to inject some much-needed variety into our routine. The kids love it, and I thoroughly enjoy seeing them explore their newfound ability to scribble. And with the proper precautions—kids strapped into the feeding table, oversize sheets of paper taped down in front of them, and washable crayons—the mess is minimal!

First time coloring(l to r: Lucy, Isaac, Jude, Dahlia)

Naturally, I saved samples of the Fab Four's first artistic endeavors—in my eyes, these scribbles are irreplaceable works of art:

Clockwise from top left:
Isaac, Lucy, Dahlia, Jude
(smiley faces courtesy of Daddy)

Monday, August 9, 2010

A fair success

* For best results, begin early in the day to avoid crowds and take advantage of cooler temps.

INGREDIENTS
4 well-rested, well-breakfasted toddlers, dressed in cool clothing
2 double strollers
Bottled water
Assorted snacks
Peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches
2 determined parents

DIRECTIONS
1. Load all ingredients into minivan; drive to state fairgrounds and park. Once kids are strapped into strollers, locate 1 wheelchair-accessible entrance (don't worry if the first entrance you hike to is full of stairs; entertain kids with snacks while you wait on Daddy to find out where you can get in).

2. Enter fairgrounds and immediately fuel up with 1 doughnut burger (for Daddy) and 1 order of deep-fried veggies (for Mommy). Find a shady spot and wait for the straight-from-the-fryer foods to cool. Offer kids a taste of what you're eating and watch them spit out the delicacies for which you've just paid an arm and a leg.


3. After wolfing everything down, get up and continue tour of fairgrounds in increasing heat. Keep stroller contents cool with canopies and plenty of bottled water. Add 1 vanilla milkshake from the Dairy Barn for good measure; divide evenly among all participants.

4. Once parents are completely stuffed with fair food, incorporate 1 smattering of farm animals. A pony provides an excellent base:


Gradually add a handful of sheep, goats, horses, and smelly, sleeping pigs. Top it off with 2 incredibly humongous oxen:


5. After 2 hours of baking in the sun—and enjoying the smiles and comments from strangers (including funny stuff like, "I bow down to your power!")—find a shady spot in which to feed kids PBJs and 1 lemon shake-up. (Optional: Daddy may ingest 1 bratwurst during this step.)

6. Now hike back to the van and load everyone up to drive home; ignore any fits that may be thrown at the prospect of being buckled back into car seats. Upon arriving home, immediately put kids to bed. Smart parents may want to crash on 2 couches for the duration of naptime!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Color matters

Isaac has an unusual quirk: When he plays, he often likes to have TWO of whatever toy it is that he's playing with—and those two toys are usually red and yellow. Allow me to demonstrate:

Isaac prefers to play with the red and yellow cars:


Isaac prefers to toss the red and yellow balls:


Isaac prefers to roll the red and yellow nesting barrels:


And Isaac prefers the red and yellow stacking cups:


If anyone dares to take one of Isaac's red and yellow toys from him, he freaks out. The only way to calm him down is to retrieve the purloined item; with both toys back in his possession, he is as happy as a clam.

I've been trying to come up with an explanation for this rather odd behavior. (He doesn't have any developmental or language delays, and the kids' 18-month autism screening threw up zero red flags, so I'm not worried about that.) Here are my theories:
  1. Isaac may be a wee bit obsessive compulsive. (Kind of like his daddy, ha!)
  2. Isaac may be color blind. (The condition runs on both my side and Ted's, so it would not be surprising if this were the case. It could be that red and yellow are more brilliant and, therefore, more attractive to him than other colors.)
  3. Isaac may be a combination of 1 and 2.
  4. Isaac may be merely acknowledging his ancestral Spanish heritage:

Whatever the case, I'm willing to bet this kid is gonna want ketchup and mustard on his hot dogs the minute he figures out that it's an option!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

She's got the look

Lucy likes to look pretty. One of her favorite things is to put toy links on her feet, on her wrists, or in chains around her neck, and then prance around while saying, "Pree!" (her word for "pretty"). I assure you that she did not learn this behavior from me—but who can fault a girl for wanting to feel glamorous?

Anyway, yesterday morning Lucy brought me a few chains and pointed out several links that she wanted me to separate from the rest. I noticed that they were all of similar design but thought no more of it after she happily ran away with her treasures.

The next time I saw her, the matching links were all on her wrists. Apparently she'd had a specific look in mind! I was so impressed with her fashion sense that I grabbed the camera, and Miss Lucy struck a pose:

Tell me, just when did my toddler turn into a teenager??

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

All aboard!

Check out our new ride:


That's right, folks—we are the proud owners of a Step 2 choo choo wagon! Ted's parents actually gave it to us for the kids' birthday, but space issues prevented us from storing it at our house (and, therefore, using it) until now. We feel very fortunate to have it, as it's currently out of production and quite the hot commodity in the world of higher-order multiples. Thanks, Grandma and Grandpa T!

First time in the Choo Choo
(clockwise from top left: Jude, Isaac, Dahlia, Lucy)
We weren't sure what the Fab Four thought of the choo choo when Ted first strapped them in, but they ended up LOVING it! I like it because it's a nice alternative to our mammoth stroller: In the choo choo, everyone can face the same way and see in all directions, two features that will come in handy on walking trails, trips to the zoo, trick-or-treating, and the like.

Of course, I had to get the kids' first choo choo ride on video:

Monday, August 2, 2010

Monkey leash FAIL

Dear people who saw our family in the church parking lot yesterday:

We know it looked bad. Four toddlers being dragged to church on leashes. Walking in circles, wrapping the leads around their necks and/or their siblings' necks, trapping their parents like mummies in a crisscross of brown stripes. Unaware of the laws of physics, trying to run and getting yanked back abruptly by the tethers, crashing to the asphalt and wondering what in the world just happened.

Thanks so much to those of you who offered to help us get the kids from point A to point B (we only declined because we need to learn how to do this on our own), as well as to those of you who so kindly held the doors open for embarrassed parents with no free hands. And thank you, thank you, thank you for not calling CPS on us. We promise to try something different next time.

Sincerely,
A traumatized mom and dad who will definitely wait until the kids are older before using the leashes again!

Before beginning our harrowing journey
(notice that Isaac is already trying to strangle himself!)

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