Saturday, December 31, 2011

They're 3!

One week ago today, our Fab Four turned 3 years old! As usual, we celebrated with family, cupcakes, a ton of balloons, and lots and lots of presents. Jude got his wish for a blue cupcake and a blue birthday hat; Isaac tolerated his green birthday hat long enough for a picture; Lucy got the purple cupcake, purple dress, and purple crown that she'd been dreaming about; and Dahlia was thrilled with the "yellow" (gold to you and me) crown that we bought to coordinate with Lucy's:

3 years old: 
(l to r) Lucy, Isaac, Dahlia, and Jude

A good time was had by all, and Ted and I were again reminded of how blessed we are to be parents to these four miracles. Can't wait to see what the year ahead has in store for all of us!

Friday, December 30, 2011

One of our favorite things

Forget Paul McCartney or our wedding video—the latest craze around here is the singalong feature on our Sound of Music DVD. Every night before bed, I pop in "Maria" (as the kids call it), and the playroom is magically transformed into Salzburg, with the Fab Four taking on the roles of various characters in the movie—including, of course, Maria:

Dahlia as Maria 
(she came up with this ensemble all by herself!)

The kiddos have a great time copying every twirl and gesture they see onscreen, and Ted and I get a big kick out of seeing them perform (and perfect) their routines. I especially love watching them do "Sixteen Going on Seventeen," with all of its leaping and spinning and—the best part—the kiss at the end:

Who knows—maybe one of these kids will end up on Broadway someday!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A new tradition: DIY Advent calendar

One of the many things I've learned in the past 3 years is that, when you have four birthdays to celebrate on Christmas Eve, Christmas itself easily can—and does—become an afterthought. And recently, with both big days already around the corner again, I've been thinking a lot about how to change this. How can I teach my children that their birthday, while wonderful and exciting, is not the most important birthday of the year? What should Christmas look like for a family such as ours?

Although I don't think there are any perfect answers to these questions, I've decided to try to address the issue this year by starting a new tradition for us: For the first time, our Christmas celebration will include an Advent calendar. And not just any Advent calendar—once I realized how pricey ready-made calendars tend to be, I decided to make my own!

First I bought a small hardware storage box with 25 compartments:

Then, to dress it up, I lined the drawers with leftover Christmas wrapping paper and numbered them with punched card-stock circles (labeled with a gold-leaf pen and attached with foam dots). For the finishing touch, Ted spray-painted the case with some Rustoleum for plastic. Here's how it turned out:

I've filled each drawer with four pieces of Christmas candy, one for each kid to eat while I read a story from our illustrated children's Bible. Since the kids are so small, I didn't bother coming up with symbols to place in the drawers; instead, each one contains a "coin" (bottled water lid painted gold) that tells us the name of the person we will be reading about on that particular day. (I figure I can use the next 12 months or so to come up with something a little more elaborate.)

We started our Advent today with the story of Creation. In the tradition of a Jesse Tree, the following days will take us through the Old Testament and into the New, with the last 5 days focusing on the events surrounding the birth of Jesus. I am trying to keep things as simple as possible by just reading a story and then letting the kids color a picture related to what we've read (as they get older, perhaps we can make some sort of craft or ornament instead).

Time will tell whether this Advent calendar will end up being the solution to our Christmas quandary, but at least it's a start!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Giving thanks

We give thanks for our food before each meal, and in the past few months the kids have started jumping in and thanking Jesus for all sorts of other stuff before I can say "amen." Last week on Thanksgiving, I explained to them that, although we offer thanks to Jesus every day, this is a special day when the entire country comes together to express thanksgiving. Then I asked them, "What are you thankful for today?" Here is what they said:

blueberries! cat!

Abuelita, Abuelito, babies, "jammie socks" [footie pajamas], diapers, and wipes

a lot of church, a lot of clocks, a lot of dump trucks, a lot of diggers, a lot of race cars, and rocks

lemons, Abuelita, Abuelito, and neighbors

As for me, I am thankful for a husband who is in the trenches with me, works hard to provide for our family, and lets me know that he appreciates what I do. And both of us are incredibly grateful for the gift of these four healthy, feisty, almost-3-year-old children:

Did I mention that I'm also thankful to still be (relatively) sane?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Keeping busy

Cold weather is upon us, and I've been keeping busy trying to, well, keep the kids busy! Thank goodness for Pinterest (my new best friend), where I've found a ton of ideas for fun and ridiculously easy ways to keep little ones occupied indoors. Best of all, the materials cost next to nothing! Here's what we've tried out so far:

Isaac with the Letter Box

The Letter Box: You can't get much easier than this. Just cut out letters from food boxes before you throw them out! I pull these out at restaurants when we're waiting for the bill, and the kids (especially Mr. Alphabet) love trying to find all the letters in the alphabet or putting random letters together and asking me what they spell. I keep the letters in a clear zipper pouch and sweep them all back in when we're done. And if the kids drop some on the restaurant floor, no biggie ... I'll always have more boxes to dissect!

Jude with Pom Pom Stuff-It-In

Pom Pom Stuff-It-In: Cut a hole in the lid of a disposable storage container, supply the kids with enough pom poms to fill it up, and—voilà! This simple (and, as it turns out, very popular) activity holds my kids' attention for a surprisingly long time as they push in all the pom poms, one by one, and then dump them all out to start over again. We also like to count the pom poms or sort them by color (and it gives the kids great practice at taking turns, too).

Lucy with Popsicle Puzzle

Popsicle Puzzle: Glue a picture to a row of popsicle sticks, and then use an exacto knife to separate the sticks—instant puzzle! Since my kids are obsessed with the royal wedding, I chose a lovely photo of William and Kate for them to assemble. Lucy is an especially big fan of this activity, and she's pretty good at it, too!

Dahlia with Ribbon Snake

Ribbon Snake: For a great fine-motor activity, sew buttons to each end of a ribbon to make the "snake," and cut slits in square pieces of felt to thread the ribbon through. Now I'm no seamstress, but I was pretty sure I could handle making this. When I asked my friend Lindsay (of Craft Buds) for materials, though, she surprised me by creating—and presenting the kids with—the cutest version I've ever seen. The girls especially love the colorful flowers and often ask to play with them.

Can you tell I've been having fun with Pinterest? I'm just so happy to have my creative juices flowing again!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pumpkin Picassos

Our abuelitos bought us our very first pumpkins last week. We were pumped!

But Mommy wasn't ready to teach us how to carve a jack o' lantern yet. Instead, she stuck some decals on our pumpkins ...

... and then let us loose with the finger paints. We had a blast!

When we were all done, Daddy set the pumpkins on the back stoop to dry.

The next day, Mommy pulled off the decals, and—voila!—we had "jack o' lanterns"!

Our first jack o' lanterns 
(left to right: Isaac, Lucy, Jude, Dahlia)

Tomorrow is Halloween, but Mommy and Daddy haven't told us about trick-or-treating yet. Maybe next year!

Monday, October 17, 2011

My baby can read

Remember how Isaac learned his alphabet before everyone else? Well, now that he and his siblings have all mastered their letters (including what sound each one makes), Mr. Alphabet has decided to step it up a notch—by starting to read!

I didn't realize he was doing this until about 3 weeks ago, when his speech therapist told me that she thought he was reading the colors in one of her books. So after she left that day, I sat down with him and wrote down every word I could think of that appears in the books and DVDs that we have. From what I came up with off the top of my head, he recognized about 60 words, including his name, all of his colors, a bunch of animals, several types of instruments, and more! Here's a quick look at Isaac doing his thing:

The most amazing thing is that no one sat down and taught him any of this—he just picked it up on his own. This kid sure knows how to make his English-major mom happy!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Laundry goddess

When the kids were really little, they loved to line up at the gate and watch me fold laundry on the other side. Lucy, in particular, was fascinated by the process, and as soon as she learned how to say everyone's name, she participated by calling out the owner of each article of clothing as I pulled it out of the laundry basket.

More than a year later, she still knows exactly which piece of clothing belongs to whom. But now she is more than just a laundry onlooker: Two weeks ago, she surprised me by independently folding a pair of socks and placing them in my hand:

Lucy's first attempt at folding socks

Not having ever instructed her in the art of folding, I was astounded by her precision. Today, however, she went even further. While I folded the big towels, she found all of the washcloths, carefully folded them one by one, and neatly stacked them in the laundry basket (all without being asked!):

Lucy's first attempt at folding washcloths

Here is our little laundry goddess in action:

Hm, now that Lucy has shown me what she can do, I'm thinking I may never have to fold a washcloth again!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Follow the leader

Jude has a little shadow. His name is Isaac, and although he may be a little bigger than his younger (by a minute) brother, he thinks his hermanito is the bomb. Watch how he tries to mimic everything Jude does here, from the way he goes down the slide to the way he falls at the bottom, and more:

Yeah, Jude is loving every minute of this right now. But I can just hear him a year or two down the road: "Mo-oom! Isaac is copying me!"

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Daddy knows best

Ted claims that he doesn't remember anything about the babies' first year ... but I know better.

A few days ago, he saw Lucy trying to give her doll a bottle and promptly sat down to demonstrate how he used to feed her when she was a tiny baby:

Minutes later, I found him showing both girls the correct technique for burping a baby as little as they used to be:

It almost made me think that he might be feeling a bit nostalgic for those early days of endless bottles, marathon burping sessions, and a whole lot of spit up ... but I know better.

He's just a daddy who loves his girls.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New song on the block

It's taken a while, but the Fab Four are finally starting to really sing—and loudly. Naturally, they all love the standards, such as "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" and the alphabet song, but they are quickly adding to their repertoire. Dahlia can often be heard heartily belting out "Tomorrow," and Isaac enjoys singing along to "And I Love Her" or "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." Lucy likes to tweak the lyrics when she sings (Barney's "I love you / you love me" becomes "I love you / I love me"), while Jude immediately picks up on the chorus of any song (the theme to "Elmo's World" being a particular favorite).

Recently, one of our DVDs inspired the Fab Four to start singing "oh, oh, oh, oh-oh / oh-oh, oh-oh," to the tune of "The Blue Danube." Last night I determined that the kids were ready to apply their "oh-oh" skills to something a little more contemporary:

For the record, Ted is appalled.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A time for everything

My last day in the office before what turned out to be 3 months of bed rest was on September 19, 2008. Today, almost exactly 3 years later, I stumbled come across the container into which I stashed some of the objects that surrounded me there, in the little cubicle that I occupied for more than 7 years. That brown box, a time capsule of sorts, contained the few items that I considered worth saving at the time:

  1. A photo of me and Ted taken on a trip to Buenos Aires 
  2. A couple of Beatles magnets
  3. A little box of daily Scripture promises
  4. A tiny salt/pepper shaker
  5. A bunch of notepads that I made out of paper destined for the trash
  6. The 1-gallon pin that I earned for regularly donating blood 
  7. A key chain from Peru
  8. A never-used sewing kit
  9. A bracelet that says "Confía en Dios" (Trust in God), made by a friend in Uruguay
  10. A desk decoration bearing the text of Jeremiah 29:11, given to me by my mom when I went to college

As I reviewed the contents of the box, I was struck by what they say about who I was before I became a "quad mom." And then I started comparing that to what my life is like after quads. Some things are the same (I love the Beatles, I avoid sewing), and some things are different (let's just say the 2-gallon donation pin is a long way off). Some things seem nearer (never before have I needed to cling to God's promises the way I do now), and some seem much, much farther away (will Ted and I ever get to travel to South America again?).

Of course, if I were to pack up my "office" now, the box would contain only representations of these four precious souls, to whom I am currently devoting all of my time and energy:

Perhaps one day I will find a way to bring together "Suzy-then" and "Suzy-now." But it's not time for that yet.

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens.
—Ecclesiastes 3:1

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Special delivery

When I was cleaning out the guest room closet yesterday, I found some old USPS boxes that I bought who knows when for who knows what:

The boxes are about the size of a cassette tape, and seeing as how I don't plan on mailing any of those any time soon, I decided to set them aside to recycle. Jude, however, immediately noticed the postal service logo and declared that we needed to give them to the mailman.

"Who will the mailman take them to?" I asked him. "To Abuelita!" he replied. After all, Jude knows exactly how the mail works—as he likes to tell you, "Abuelita buys cookies at the store, Abuelito puts them in the mailbox, and the mailman brings them to our house!"

So with the help of four little thumbs and just a few other supplies that I had laying around the house:

We created this masterpiece to tuck into said box:

Abuelitos, keep your eyes peeled for a special delivery sometime next week!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Synchronized divers

Jude just got brave enough to jump into the pool by himself last week, and Isaac couldn't be more excited about it! Check out the new jumping buddies:

On your marks:

Get set:




Here's a short clip of my little synchronized divers in action:

Although the timing on their actual dives may be a little inconsistent, you have to admit that the way they get out of the pool together is picture perfect! Think they could be contenders for the 2024 games?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Girl talk

For some reason, tonight I got the urge to see if I had taken any videos on this date in 2009, during the babies' first year. And, sure enough, I had! Check out this little gem I found of Dahlia (on the left) and Lucy chatting it up in the playard:

I'd forgotten what all those coos sounded like! Don't you wonder what they were trying to say?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Puddle of fun

Ah, jumping in puddles. A pleasure that most kids take for granted, but something that mine had only seen on television ... until yesterday, when an overnight rainstorm left a tantalizing puddle on the walking trail behind our house. As soon as Jude saw it, he knew exactly what to do with it—and the rest of the crew soon followed:

Puddles of the world, you are no longer safe: If the Fab Four see you, they will jump in you!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sprinkle, sprinkle

What do you do when it's too hot to go to the playground and there's no one to go to the pool with? You make Daddy set up the sprinkler in the backyard—for the first time ever, believe it or not! Happily, we just happened to have a round stationary sprinkler stashed away in the garage, perfect for four little people to share:

First time in the sprinkler 
(l to r: Jude, Dahlia, Lucy, and Isaac)

As I expected, Jude and Isaac dove right in and stayed under the spray almost the entire time we were outside. Dahlia and Lucy were more cautious, watching from a distance while the boys got soaked. Eventually, however, neither girl could resist the siren call of the "waterfall" (as Jude likes to call it), and soon everyone was enjoying the refreshingly cool water. We stood under it, drank from it, pretended to wash our hands in it, and, of course, ran through it:

I'm pretty sure we'll be doing this again!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Growing up

Almost exactly two years ago our Bisabuelo brought us these beautiful handmade dresses from Peru:

Lucy and Dahlia at 8 months old

Today we wore the same dresses to church—this time as shirts:

Dahlia and Lucy at 2.5 years old

My, how we've grown!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Outside, outside, outside!

We love to be outside! We take walks outside:

Collect rocks outside:

Pretend to fall down and break our crowns outside:

We eat outside:

Laugh and squeal outside:

We even practice holding hands outside:

Mostly, though, we just like plain old having fun outside:

Summer, we sure are going to miss you when it's cold outside!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

An extra-special extra

Several months ago my cousin Glenda transferred our wedding video onto a DVD. I decided to pop it in for the first time on our 11th anniversary last month, and was utterly shocked when the Fab Four asked to see it again the next day—and again the next! Nearly a month later, we are still watching parts of our wedding DVD daily. The kids love seeing Mommy dressed like a "princess" (the royal wedding made a big impression on them), and they get a big kick out of naming everyone they recognize on TV.

Their favorite part of the video, though, has to be the extra clip that Glenda included of my dad's youngest brother and his band performing at my grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary party, shortly before his death. The kids like the clip so much that they ask for Tío Arturo (aka "Dee-o Doodle") to sing to them almost every day before nap. Recently a couple of his littlest sobrinitos have begun to accompany the band:

I can't tell you how happy it makes me to know that, even in death, my Tío Arturo is teaching my children to love music. Thanks for adding such a special extra to our DVD, Tía Glenda!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Inca quads

In honor of Peruvian independence day—and by special request from Tía Harriet—I give you the Fab Four's first sips of Inca Kola (the national soft drink of Peru):

Too bad the kids long ago outgrew their Inca Kola shirts from Bisabuelo (I guess we know what the abuelitos need to bring back from their next trip to the motherland). Thanks for the 2-liter, Harriet!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I wanna hold your hand

We like holding hands around here. We link up when we're ready to go out the door:

June 2011

And sometimes we join hands when we're just running around the house en masse:

July 2011

This week a couple of us even got caught holding hands in the van:

Our mommy hopes that we're always there to hold one another's hands—literally and figuratively.

... and when I touch you, I feel happy inside ...
—The Beatles, "I Want to Hold Your Hand"

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Keeping our cool

This summer's been hot, hot, hot, and we've been taking full advantage of the warm temps by heading out to the pool as often as possible. Our favorite things to do by the water include jumping in:


Filling buckets:


Making waves:


And laying out:


We have a great time at the pool, but the kids can't let their guard down for a minute. You never know when a mommy shark will attack:

Hope you're having as much fun keeping cool as we are!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Life is beautiful

Not gonna lie: The terrible twos have been getting me down. Sometimes it feels like, no matter what I say or do, at least one little person is going to (a) yell "no," (b) start whining, (c) scream at me, or (d) all of the above. It's enough to make a mommy want to pull out her hair—or, better yet, her ears!

But just when I think that I'm at my wits' end, that I can't take another day of it, the kids will do something to remind me how much fun they are when they're not being two. Like the other day, when all four of them decided to take turns going down the slide—with a minimum of fussing (for them) and a maximum of delight (for me):

Yes, as a friend put it to me today, my life is beautiful, indeed. Although it might be a little more beautiful once we get past the terrible twos ... and threes!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

For the sake of completeness

After seeing my photographic comparisons of Ted and the Fab Four yesterday, friends have been asking to see side-by-sides of me and all the kids, too. And since we're nothing if not equal opportunity around here—here you go!

Suzanna at 2 years old, Isaac at 2.5 years old

Suzanna at 2 years old, Lucy at 2.5 years old

Suzanna at 2 years old, Jude at 2.5 years old

Suzanna at 2 years old, Dahlia at 2.5 years old

We already knew that Jude and I are twins, but I think Lucy resembles me a lot here, too. Which is weird because, in my last post, I was sure she looked like Ted. I guess she must be the perfect combo!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Daddy's turn

Since I posted photographic proof that Jude is my mini-me, several people have wanted to know which of the Fab Four most resembles Ted at this age. Naturally, I couldn't resist digging up his 2-year portrait to compare to current photos of the kids.

While most people say that all four of them look just like me, some maintain that Isaac is Ted's carbon copy. As for us, we've always thought that Dahlia is the one who favors her daddy the most. Looking at these comparisons, however, I'm shocked to realize that Lucy might actually take after him more than any of the other kids—their eyes are different, but check out the nose and mouth. What do you think?

Ted at 2 years old, Isaac at 2.5 years old

Ted at 2 years old, Lucy at 2.5 years old

Ted at 2 years old, Jude at 2.5 years old

Ted at 2 years old, Dahlia at 2.5 years old


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