Thursday, October 28, 2010

Handle with care

When Lucy is tired, her feelings become extremely fragile. If you scold her (or even scold someone in her vicinity), this is the face you're sure to see just before she bursts into devastated tears:

That pitiful expression breaks my heart every time—and makes it impossible for me to stay upset with her!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Chau, chupones!

How to wean four highly addicted 22-month-olds from their chupones (Spanish for "pacifiers") from one day to the next—with absolutely no planning ahead!

1. Wait until you find a pacifier that looks like this (if you're "lucky" like us, you'll find it just before bedtime and have to scramble for a game plan):

2. Identify the pacifier chewer (Jude) and put him to bed sans choking hazard. Thank the Lord when he falls right to sleep, and then call the abuelitos for advice.

3. Before turning in for the night, cut the ends off of all the pacifiers you can find so that there's no longer any suction when the kids try to use them:

4. In the morning (after the no-paci kid surprises you by sleeping all night without a problem), wait for someone to ask you for a chupón. Show the kids the mutilated pacifiers and explain that the pacifiers have ouchies; let the kids test them out so that they can see that they don't work anymore. Then have the kids toss their broken chupones into the trash:

5. Throughout the day, if anyone asks for a chupón, remind everybody that we threw them away because they had ouchies and didn't work anymore. Be thankful when the kids accept this explanation!

6. After a surprisingly quiet morning, endure a very loud nap. Stay strong. No matter how much they party or scream, do not give anyone a pacifier. Eventually, everyone will wear themselves out and SLEEP.

7. After an even quieter afternoon, put all of the kids to bed without pacifiers. Marvel when they all fall asleep right away and sleep all night!

We're currently on day 2 with no chupones and the girls have only asked for them once or twice (the boys seemingly could not care less). Dahlia still had a hard time falling asleep at nap time today (took her about an hour, as opposed to 2 hours yesterday), but everyone else seems to have already adjusted to the change. I can't believe it was that easy!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Everybody's doing it

The latest fad around here is to bang on the toy box. The louder the better. Isaac is usually the instigator (yes, he still loves to drum!), but his solos don't last long—if one kid is banging on the box, the other are sure to join in sooner or later:

Herd mentality—it's cute now, but I am having visions of mass mischief in the years to come!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

22 months old ... oh, my word!

Yesterday I looked through my kitchen notebooks and made official lists of what the Fab Four are saying (and signing) these days. I was already aware that the girls are talking more than the boys, but I was blown away when I looked at the finished lists and realized just how much everyone around here is actually saying!

Because I know that counting all of their words will soon be impossible, I decided to compose a snapshot in time of each kid's vocabulary at this age. Here they are, in order of verbosity:


Can say:

abuelita • all gone • apple • baa • baby • back • ball • banana • bath • Bec • bock-bock • boo • book • bow-wow • box • buzz • bye • caca • car • cat • chair • cheek • choo-choo • comb • cookie • cracker • daddy • Dahlia • done • door • duck • DVD • eat • eye • eyebrow • feet • fry • Gabi • hat • hi • Isaac • jeans • Johnny • Jude • key • knee • Lucy • meow • milk • mole • mommy • moo • mouth • neck • neigh • night-night • no • nose • oink • ouchie • outside • pea • Pepperpichí • please • pretty • purple • ring • seat • shirt • shoes • sky • sleep • snack • snap • socks • spoon • teeth • thank you • tongue • uh-oh • upa • walk • what's that • yummy

Can sign:

airplane • all done • apple • baby • bath • bear • book • car • cat • cracker • daddy • dog • drink • duck • eat • elephant • flower • giraffe • glasses • hat • help • monkey • more • phone • please • refrigerator • shoes • sleep • socks • thank you


Can say:

agua • apple • baa • baby • back • ball • banana • bath • belly • berry • bib • bock-bock • boo • book • bow-wow • bubble • bug • bye • caca • car • cheek • choo-choo • circle • comb • cookie • cracker • daddy • Dahlia • drink • duckie • DVD • earring • eat • Elmo • eye • fry • Grandma • hat • help • heart • hi • jeans • Johnny • Jude • meow • milk • mole • mommy • moon • more • mouth • night-night • no • nose • ouchie • Pepper • please • ring • seat • shoes • sky • snap • socks • thank you • tree • tummy • uh-oh • upa • yogurt • yummy

Can sign:

airplane • all done • apple • baby • bath • bird • boat • book • butterfly • car • cat • diaper • dog • drink • eat • flower • hat • help • milk • more • please • refrigerator • shoes • sleep • tree


Can say:

abuelitaagua • all gone • apple • baa • baby • ball • banana • bath • bib • bird • book • bottle • bubble • bug • bus • buzz • bye • caca • car • cat • cheese • choo-choo • cookie • dada • Dahlia • DVD • ear • egg • eye • hat • hi • Jude • mama • meow • milk • mouse • mouth • night-night • nose • oink • Pepper • shoes • tag • teeth • uh-oh • upa • walk • what's that

Can sign:

airplane • all done • apple • baby • ball • bath • bird • book • bunny • car • cat • cereal • dinosaur • dog • drink • eat • flower • giraffe • hat • help • milk • more • mouse • phone • please • refrigerator • sleep


Can say:

all done • baby • ball • bath • bird • book • bye • car • circle • cow • cracker • dada • dog • duck • eat • eye • help • hi • mama • Pepper • shirt • tree • uh-oh

Can sign:

all done • baby • ball • book • car • cracker • diaper • dog • drink • eat • elephant • giraffe • kiss • milk • monkey • more • phone • please • shirt • tree

I can't wait until these kids know enough words to carry on a conversation with me—and each other!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The joy of jammies

Nights have been cool enough lately that I finally decided to put the kids in footed pajamas again. Lucy was the first to change into her winter jammies, and—as you can see—she was absolutely delighted with her new bedtime garb:

If only we could all derive such pleasure from the simple things in life!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Turn, turn, turn

Isaac likes to study things from every angle. I'll often catch him on his belly, crawling around a toy to examine it from various perspectives. Sometimes he will slowly walk with his back against a wall, head turned to observe the effect of his shoulder rubbing against it. When it's dark out, he prefers to watch television by viewing its reflection in the living room window, rather than by looking directly at the TV screen.

In the past few weeks, Isaac's experiment of choice has been to spin and spin while simultaneously straining his eyes in the opposite direction:

I imagine he's trying to see what is behind him, but only Isaac knows the true purpose of this exercise. Whatever his objectives, I do believe that this boy has the mind of a scientist! (Let's just hope he's not a mad scientist.)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Good housekeeping

Ted and I often joke about how great it will be when the Fab Four are finally old enough to take over the household chores. I know it's a little early to expect any of them to mow the lawn or clean the toilets for us, but I think we may have one who's just about ready to help with the dusting:

(I wish I could say that she learned it from watching me, but I'm afraid that the dustable surfaces in my home would tell you otherwise!)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fun at the museum

Besides the wedding, the highlight of our trip to Texas was our visit to the Children's Museum of Houston. The kids loved it because they had full access to a huge room full of countless new toys and activities—they'd never experienced anything like it! I loved it because the facility was clean and the play area was completely enclosed, making it impossible for any member of the Fab Four to pull a disappearing act. And with the abuelitos and Tia Holly along to help us wrangle the kids, I even managed to get a ton of pictures. Here are just a few of them (as you can see, there were lots of smiles that day!):

Dahlia and Lucy drive a big red car (left); Tia Holly shows Jude the giant Lite-Brite (right)
Jude practices using a door (left); Isaac finds some red and yellow blocks (right)
Abuelita helps Dahlia go down the slide (left); Ted and Isaac play with the light switch (right)
Isaac emerges from the tunnel (left); Lucy sitting pretty (right)
Lucy and Dahlia play with the door (left); Isaac is delighted by all the toy cars (right)
Jude plays hide and seek with Abuelita (left); Lucy makes her way through the tunnel (right)
Dahlia sees something exciting across the room (left); Jude having fun! (right)

Monday, October 11, 2010

A week of freedom

While we were in Texas, the kids were thrilled to have the run of my parents' completely toddler-proofed house. Mom and Dad really went the extra mile to prepare for our extended visit, installing all sorts of safety locks, putting down rugs on the tile floors to cushion any falls, using booster seats to transform their kitchen table into a feeding table, and hanging blackout curtains in the kids' room. They even put several items of furniture into storage—both to accommodate our four PeaPods in the guest room and to create this veritable toddler heaven of toys, books, and stuffed animals in the dining room:

No longer being confined to their "gated community" meant that the kids had the freedom to explore and experience all sorts of new things—like hiding pacifiers in the recycling bin, tearing up the newspapers that my dad left laying around, and watching their beloved Baby Einstein DVDs at eye level (and within hands' reach, to boot!):

The kids also loved being gateless because it allowed unlimited access to one of their very favorite things: shoes. They all enjoyed finding their own shoes around the house—and putting them on and taking them off, seemingly ad infinitum—but Dahlia was the first to commandeer a "pair" of grownup heels:

Lucy, of course, was quick to follow in her footsteps (with a little plastic bling to complete the look):

For me, the best part about not having gates was that the kids burned off tons of energy running all around the house (and I expended quite a few calories, too, just trying to keep track of everyone!). One afternoon, Jude thoroughly entertained himself (and us) by repeatedly running to the kitchen and "hiding," calling out his own name while he was out of sight, and then running back to the living room to say "boo":

I was worried that the kids would stage a revolt once we got back home and they realized that the gates were back in business, but so far I've heard no complaints. And as long as they're still happy, I'm not changing a thing!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The wedding

After giving the Fab Four a quiet day to explore their new surroundings and get reacquainted with their abuelitos, it was wedding time. Tio Ner and Tia Glenda had flown in the night before, so we had a house full of people to get gussied up by lunchtime. We were so busy that I got only one picture of all of the kids together (as you can see, Dahlia couldn't wait to go see Tio Johnny and Tia Holly):

I absolutely loved seeing the kids dressed up in the outfits that Abuelita Joanna ordered for them! Here are some closeups:

The wedding, which took place at Johnny and Holly's place, was an even greater joy to witness. My dad opened with a prayer, and then a justice of the peace led the bride and groom through the exchange of vows, their rings, and a kiss. Afterward, Johnny changed out of his suit into something a little more compatible with the Texas climate, and the happy couple stepped outside to pose for pictures:

Due to several factors (including a missed nap and the fact that Mommy forgot to bring the diaper bag—oops!), Ted and the kids left shortly after the ceremony ended. Thanks a million to Tia Glenda for going home with them so that I could stay and enjoy the reception!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Have quads, will travel

When your brother decides to get married, you don't let a little thing like a 2,200-mile round-trip drive with 21-month-old quadruplets stop you! No, sir. In fact, the minute Johnny and Holly told us that they were planning a September wedding, Ted and I started figuring out just how we were going to pull off our first road trip as a family of six.

Now that our Texas "vacation" is behind us, everyone's been asking me whether Ted and I are still sane—and thanks to our awesome kids, the answer is YES! To be sure, there was a little of this:

But there was also quite a bit of this:

Looking back, Ted and I are convinced that preparation was the key to keeping the Fab Four (mostly) content for a total of 40 van hours. For instance, in the week leading up to the trip, Ted took the time to carefully plan a route with stops that would accommodate our eating schedule and afford the opportunity for the kids to burn off some energy (thank goodness for Chick-Fil-A playgrounds!). As for me, I took stock of our supplies and determined what we'd need to take with us (and how to pack it), what we could leave behind, and what we'd have to buy on the road (milk!).

I also researched how to keep young toddlers busy on long drives and, based on what I learned, decided to sit in the middle row for the entire trip. This made the kids happy and gave me easy access to books, toys, and snacks—and anything else the kids dropped. During their awake time (which was almost all of the time), I kept them entertained with DVDs, lots of touch-n-feel books, empty water bottles (one of their favorite "toys"), balloons (in lieu of balls), and stuffed animals (anything with a buckle or a zipper was a hit).

The kids also loved the photo albums I made with pictures of people we were going to see on the trip—these held their attention for what seemed like hours! Check out Jude's reaction to seeing a picture of Tia Glenda:

The worst part of each 2-day drive was definitely the hotel stay in the middle. By the time we ate dinner, checked in, toddler-proofed the room, unloaded what we needed from the van, set up the PeaPod tents (love those things!), and changed the kids' diapers and clothes for bed, it was MELTDOWN time. Fortunately, we were going to bed much earlier than the other guests, so hopefully not too many people were disturbed by the screams that emanated from our room!

Two things we learned for sure: (1) Keeping four toddlers happy on the road for 2 full days at a time is no easy task, but (2) it's totally doable! And the sweat and the tears (no blood, fortunately!) were definitely worth it to witness Johnny and Holly make it official.

Picture posts coming up next to show how much fun we had before heading back home ...


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