Sunday, September 18, 2016

How Essential Oils Ruined Our Lives (our 2.5 year update)

I've been meaning to write this post for awhile. Just kind of toying with the idea of an update on a series that I wrote TWO YEARS ago. It's kind of crazy because in the fast pace of the internet, does anything have a two year life span? Pretty much....no.

I am a researcher at heart. If you are into personality typing, I'm an ISTJ, a green, an emerald, a melancholic earth type. I'm *very* data and fact oriented, and most things have to be proven to me. There are definitely downsides to a personality like mine, but it has been extremely helpful in learning to be the best advocate I can be for my kids. I've had to advocate for them since day one:

-- The doctors told us to "selectively reduce" one or two of our quadruplets. We said no.
-- They were born at 27 weeks, 6 days and immediately put on ventilators and into incubators where we couldn't hold them for days.
-- One had heart surgery and has autism.
-- One had an infection in the hospital that they didn't catch for days, and major eating issues which required a scope, dye test, and hospital stay, along with lots of occupational therapy focused on texture issues.
-- One embodied the "wimpy white boy" name that nurses give NICU babies who are struggling, and still manages to end up needing stitches or glue at least once a year.
-- One had the wrong breast milk given to her in the NICU (from another pumping mom) which meant a 6 month scare while we waited to find out if HIV would pass through the milk to her. We also were faced with the possibility of cerebral palsy (see second section of the linked post).
-- Then reaching Pre-K meant a fight for services under the Individuals with Disabilities Act, and a safe place to learn.

Those are just the highlights. There have been many more opportunities to practice my skills since then. All that to say, I know advocacy. I learned it in the school of hard knocks while trying to do the best by my kids in a situation that we really didn't see coming (If you were wondering, nobody tries for quadruplets.). I've read every policies and procedures manual handed to me, read governmental paperwork, websites, and legalese regarding my kids' rights, read so many stats about survival rates, special needs rates, long-term success rates, and cried tears of frustration over how hard it can be to simply parent and raise kids in this world.

Can I get an "amen" from the collective parents?

So 2.5 years ago, in all of my researching, I started looking into essential oils. At the time, we had exhausted every wellness strategy we knew of, trying to keep our medically fragile kids happy. I thought the oil thing was most likely a scam. BUT, it was the only thing we hadn't tried yet, and I figured that if I didn't, I really didn't have a leg to stand on by telling other people that they didn't work.

Call it fate, providence, serendipity....whatever. (We like to give the credit to God *smile* )

Unfortunately, I haven't written an update on any of that since then. Shame on me. So here's your update on what we've learned and experienced...and then I'll tell you how essential oils ended up ruining our lives:

-- We've learned that staying well is 100 times easier than getting sick and trying to pull ourselves back out of that pit. This whole journey has made us very aware of how our choices affect our health. I've learned that there is amazing freedom in being able to be proactive about wellness instead of reactive to sickness. I'd much rather be on the proactive side and just maintain being healthy. It's easier on everyone, plus no one loses time from school or work.

-- We've taken tons of toxic products out of our house and switched them for safe products that help keep the body running optimally. My mom had 6 kids. My grandma had 7 kids....I dealt with infertility. Genetically, I should have been able to pop out babies without too much trouble, but for some reason, that wasn't the case. Could it have been the HUGE increase in toxins in our products over the years? Toxins my mom and grandma weren't dealing with when they were young? I have no idea (and since I can't prove it, I won't claim it), but this is what I do know. I do know that toxins can cause major reproductive issues along with a whole slew of other issues. I also know that I have two little girls. And I know that I want grand babies. Obviously, there are other reasons to get rid of toxins, but I don't want my girls to call me one day and tell me that they can't get pregnant. That's a gut wrenching pain that I don't want them to experience.  I do know that our respiratory issues have majorly decreased since we removed toxins and fragrances from our home. Fragrance is the new second hand smoke. Having my house smell like "Sangria on the Beach" is not worth it.

Abby, Elijah, and Mommy

-- I've learned that there are good essential oils and sub-par essential oils. Although the series ended, my research did not. I've bought more oils from other companies since then, poured through more essential oil company websites, and *still* not found anything that comes close to Young Living's Seed to Seal Standard. As a side note, I still get emails from people asking me my thoughts on different essential oil companies. Here is all you have to do. Go to seedtoseal.com. Read through that. Then go compare it to whatever company you are looking at. The difference is stark.

-- We've learned that weight loss may be a side effect. Sean and I have both lost weight. We still have a ways to go, but it's nice having a natural option to help us get there!

The Quad Parents - Sean and Rebecca

-- We've learned that essential oils do amazing things for emotional health. What is that saying? "Too blessed to be stressed." HA!!! Yeah, right! I'm super blessed, but I'm also super stressed, and I have my occasional moments of feeling blue or anxious on top of that. Essential oils have been awesome for the moods in our household.

-- We've learned that essential oils are key in getting our son with autism to focus and concentrate more during school and therapies. This has been life-changing for us. It's actually what sold Sean on oils in the first place. That's how big the difference is between oiled Caleb and non-oiled Caleb.

Caleb

-- I've learned that essential oil trolls can be worse than quadruplet trolls. I am so not even kidding about this one. We have been in some local news articles, magazines, and a few short clips on the news due to the curiosity about our family. The trolls on those articles can be brutal. Everybody loves a keyboard warrior who leaves anonymous comments as the expert on rearing quadruplets. (Just kidding. Don't do that.) Apparently, using essential oils and writing a 5 part series on your findings also brings that out of people. MY STARS. I've even had friends participate. It's kind of unbelievable to me how judgmental people are across the board. Be kind, friends. I'm not just talking about on my blog or Facebook wall. Be kind in LIFE. Because you don't know what another person has gone through. So maybe this point should better read, "I've learned more fully the importance of being kind, listening with respect, and not judging other moms for doing their best." Also...if you are a troll and you are reading this, every single comment on my blog is on a delay. I put that in place way back when my kids were babies. Go plague reddit or something.

-- We've learned that we can save so much money. We used to take at least one kid to the pediatrician every other week. We went so often, that I actually asked for a frequent visitor punch card. You know....pay 9 copays, get the 10th free. Sadly, they didn't go for that (ha!). Man, those copays added up!! We now go for well kid visits once a year (check-ups...so important!). In the 2.5 years since we started using essential oils, we have had probably 5 visits TOTAL for other than well kid visits. Not 5 visits per kid. That's total for all of them. That is IN.SANE given what we've been though. Being proactive about maintaining their wellness has been a huge focus for us, and it has paid off!

Ellie, Abby, Elijah, and Caleb - Enjoying a strawberry smoothie split 4 ways!

-- We've learned that when big pharma and the insurance companies refuse to help, that we still have options. I need to just write a whole other blog post on this, but one of the reasons why I was so quiet here on the blog last year was because I was diagnosed with a disease called Primary Immunodeficiency that had me in an IV clinic every 3 weeks for antibody infusions in order to stay out of the hospital. That was a lifelong diagnosis and treatment plan....until our insurance decided they didn't want to pay for it anymore. I guess the $500,000 a year price tag made their eyes bulge. They decided that I wasn't worth it (Literally. That's what happened) and sent me out on my own to let come what may. AHH!! So. many. tears. when that treatment plan was taken away from me, but what was I to do? I started working hard core on trying to stay well, and have been extremely healthy this year! I haven't been in the hospital AND....(get this!!) I haven't even been to the doctor other than my chiropractor. BOOM! Not to say that I won't ever have issues in the future. Unfortunately, this is something I'm going to have to be aware of for life, but I will take awesome health when I can get it!

-- I've learned that certain entities don't want our stories of wellness, success, and abundant living out there. I'm sad to say that most websites have been wiped clean of the amazing testimonies, recipes, and documentation that used to be readily available on the internet. I now have to use reference books (which hey! I love reading!), deep googling, sites like THIS and THIS, and talking to friends with personal experience to find stories and answers. If you are as data minded as I am, take a look at pubmed.gov. It's a government site and you can find real studies done using essential oils. If you aren't as data minded....don't go there. It will make your eyes cross. *wink*

Daddy, Elijah, and Caleb - The boys wanted to help Daddy put oils on his back

-- I've learned that "healthy" does not actually equal "well." Interesting, right? For example, you can have a perfectly "healthy" athlete with major emotional problems. He may be healthy, but he isn't well. Or you can have a college student who never gets sick, but eats processed food everyday and drinks every weekend. She may look healthy, but she isn't well. (Not knocking any food choices. Just pointing out a fact). I've learned that wellness is a full body thing: emotional, physical, spiritual....and I've also learned that I have a long ways to go before I get there. Baby steps!

It's not an earth shattering update, but one well worth writing. Many of you have followed our journey since I was pregnant. Anybody remember the REALLY old first website that we had? You've cared about our kids, prayed that they would survive, prayed that *we* would survive (lol!), and hit our highs and lows with us. This. This is one of our highs. A life-changing high.

So how did essential oils ruin our lives then? Well....they ruined what our lives consisted of BACK THEN. Our status quo....the version of life that we were trying to fight out an existence in.....has been irrevocably ruined. We can't go back to that version of life again....but truly, we don't want to. While that type of reality has been ruined, it has been replaced with a much more vibrant version of life than we could have hoped for.

What tied into this that I didn't see coming at all was the opportunity that we would have to pour this research back out to other people. What started with "I think these are a scam" has now turned into a full-time job for me. Besides raising quadruplets, I now teach other people how to have success and live their best lives using essential oils and non-toxic products as their springboards. It's pretty much the most amazing job ever! I love working with moms who are stressed (yep, I'm looking at you!) and helping them see that their families have options when it comes to their wellness. I teach people to buck the status quo and find a better way with a higher quality of life. Because life is meant to be so much more than working a job every day and collapsing into bed each night. It's meant to be vibrant, full of life and vitality with abundance and purpose woven through the threads of every day. I believe that this is why God put me on earth. To pass that hope onto others (well that, and to pop out babies four at a time). It's a beautiful thing to live out a calling.

Us at the Young Living St. Marie's Farm in Idaho - August 2016

So that's the update to the initial post 2.5 years ago when I was wondering if oils were a scam. If you haven't read my series, you are welcome to jump back now and do so. The 5 part series links to each other so that you can follow along. It may be old in internet land, but it's still very current. If you haven't tried Young Living Essential Oils, then call them a scam like I did and try them anyway. If you haven't tried them, then you don't know if they work. I'm just sayin'. If you have a friend who has offered them to you and you think they will help you learn how to use them effectively, then talk to them about getting started. If you don't have a friend to help you, then jump over to this post, grab some oils over there, and then email me so that I can help you. Either way, just *try* them.

And yeah....our kids are totally oily now and love it!


This post may contain affiliate links. For more info, please see my disclaimer page.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Take Us out for Our First Ballgame!


A couple of weeks ago, we had the chance to take our kids to their first ballgame! You'd think we would have made it to a game before now, simply because Sean loves baseball so much....but alas, it just never happened.

Thankfully, that has been corrected!!

Getting Ready for the Ballgame to Start in our Super Swanky Suite Chairs!
 Ellie, Abby, Elijah, and Caleb


Let's PLAY BALL!!
The T-Bones Independent League Stadium

We spent our first baseball experience at the T-Bones Community America Stadium, part of the independent league. It is smaller than a major league stadium, and was just right for our family! Not so overwhelming and large that our sensory kids would have a meltdown.

We met up with some friends that I know through one of my hobbies: freelance writing! One of the things that I've loved to do over the years is write for a local parenting publication called, KC Parent Magazine. It started all the way back when we were pregnant, and the editor reached out to us through a mutual friend and asked if I would write about our unique pregnancy. I wrote a series of articles for them, and our kids were even invited to be on the cover of the magazine for their first birthday (so cool!!). Now, I write random articles about different topics a few times throughout the year, and enjoy the "brain break" from my job, blogging, and normal parenting activities.

Caleb contemplating the next play

Elijah -- absolutely delighted by the hot dogs and popcorn that he just polished off!

Is it truly a baseball experience without hot dogs??? I think not!
Daddy, Ellie, Abby, Elijah, and Caleb

Once a year, the magazine has a writer's party where we can all meet-up and hang out! Usually, it's writers only, but this year, they decided to make a family activity out of it, and invited everyone! 

Even better? They rented a suite which was **awesome** for a first baseball experience! Anytime we take our kids somewhere, we have to factor in that there are four of them, they are young, they have the attention span of gnats, two of them aren't so keen on loud noises/new situations, and one has autism. Baseball games just seemed like a bit of a stretch for us, but being able to get our feet wet in a smaller ballpark, with access to a quiet suite, and clean bathrooms (what can I say? I'm a mom.)....that made it such a stress-less time for us.

This photo of Daddy and his girls turned out so cute! I love it!!
Mommy, Ellie, Daddy, and Abby

The T-Bones Mascot even came up to visit all of the kids in the suite and pose for photos! Our kids were a bit....wary. Understandably! You can tell in the photo who was all about a guy dressed up in a giant costume, and who was a little bit more cautious. Haha!

Sizzle the Bull!
Ellie, Abby, Sizzle the Bull, Elijah, and Caleb

Many thanks to the editor and owners of KC Parent Magazine for hosting a fun afternoon out with our kids at an activity we've been meaning to do forever! We love making family memories!

We rounded out the family afternoon with a trip to Mommy's favorite ice cream place: Baskin Robbins! What did I have? A scoop of "Baseball Nut" of course!

Abby, Ellie, Caleb, and Elijah

This post may contain affiliate links. For more info, please see my disclaimer page.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

First Day of Kindergarten!


When you are in the thick of things....like watching your kids breathe with the help of a ventilator, milestones like Kindergarten seem so far away. Untouchably far away and bordering on the impossible.

....And then it's here.

I remember back when my kids were first born, and some other quad mamas would post stories about their 5-year-olds going to school. All I could think about was how MUCH OLDER those quads were and how we had eons of time before ever getting to that point. It went faster than I thought.

....I guess we are here.

Kindergarten, meet my 5-year-olds.



All of our kids are mainstreamed this year. Our two years in a Pre-K were in a blended classroom where some of the kids had IEPs (individualize education program) and some of the kids were considered more peer models (those would be the normal kids). I absolutely know that Caleb can rise to the occasion of a mainstream classroom, but I definitely had some concerns about his Kindergarten teacher's ability to identify his special needs and accommodate him with patience. Happily, I found out that his Kindergarten teacher has a background in SPED (special education)! So even though it's not a SPED or blended classroom, she has all of the training of a SPED teacher, and knew immediately how to accommodate him. That's a total answer to prayer. What is even better is that his Kindergarten teacher is the same lady as who he had in summer school. We put the kids in summer school in our new district to try to help them transition from Pre-K at the last school to Kindergarten at the new school. In Caleb's case, he has the same teacher from summer school in the same room doing the same routine. I'm telling, y'all. God looks out for the tiniest details even when we are freaking out and flapping around like we don't have a head. 

We are ever pushing Caleb to reach his highest potential, and KNOW that by the time he reaches adulthood, he will be well adjusted. We put so much emphasis on his education and therapies now because we know that early intervention is the key for a lot of these kiddos in living their best life. We are very excited to see his progress at the end of this year after seeing how far he came last year.  

So how was Caleb's transition into school on Tuesday? He walked right in and fell into routine. Just like he practiced all summer long. It was seamless. (although, he still talks about his Pre-K teacher AL the time and wants to know why she isn't at his school)


Ellie graduated from her therapies in January....so she is completely caught up!! No IEP for her! And to think, she was the kid with the brain bleed. We didn't know if she would ever be able to walk. When I dropped the kids off at school today, she got busted by another Kindergarten teacher for RUNNING down the hall. Obviously, we will work on that, but if that Kindergarten teacher only knew what a miracle it is that she was running down the hall, IEP free.....wow! 

Ellie misses her Pre-K teacher so much. but when I ask her how she feels about her new teacher, she gets a big smile and says she likes her! 


We are beyond grateful that the administration at our new school seems so receptive to our needs and requests. That is not something that we experienced at our last school at all. I asked the principal if she would please place our kids 2-and-2 in classrooms instead of in 4 different classrooms. Although there is no homework in Pre-K, I still found myself running from class to class during holiday parties, their birthday, graduation, just check for IEP compliance, etc. After two years of four classrooms, I just didn't see how that was in anyone's best interest anymore. I was torn, the teachers were trying to line up 4 classrooms worth of activities so that I had a chance to see everyone...it was crazy! Thankfully, the principal said that my request was very reasonable given that there are four of them, and even asked for our opinion on the best placement for the kids. We put Caleb and Ellie together because both have strong personalities. We knew that neither one would "follow" the other, so they would both maintain their independence in the classroom. It's the same set-up as we had for summer school, so just like with Caleb, Ellie transitioned in very well. Although....do you see her smile? That's her "I'm totally freaked about Kindergarten, but I'm Ellie, and I'm a cowgirl, and cowgirls are tough" smile. Her non-forced smile came back shortly after going back into her routine again. Ellie, more than all of the other kids, seems to grasp what a milestone Kindergarten is, and I think it was just kind of...a lot for her. 



Abby has the sweetest, most compliant personality, but she gets overwhelmed at times. Her biggest area of struggle on her IEP is in the social/emotional category. She never knows what to do with her emotions in a social situation, whether those emotions are good or bad. We are always working with her to help her verbalize her feelings so that she feels understood and validated. She needs lots of encouragement to try new things, be brave, and use words to communicate. Hopefully her teacher taps into all of that and can help her do well this year!

Unfortunately, we have some catching up to do from her last year of Pre-K. It ended up being not such a great situation classroom-wise, and we had to move her to a new classroom/teacher with only 33 days left in the year. Her social/emotional needs went through the roof and led to a rough summer school session as she dealt with frustrations and emotions she didn't know how to process. As a mom, I feel so frustrated at myself for not catching the Pre-K issues until so late in the year. I feel like I could have headed off so much of her current frustrations if I'd realized what was going on at the time. Abby is resilient though, and should hopefully catch up quickly if her Kindergarten teacher can see that words of encouragement and hugs are the best way to help her move forward. 


Elijah is also still on an IEP for a couple of therapies, but his big one is speech. He adapts pretty easily to wherever he is placed, but he is definitely missing his Pre-K teacher who he had for two years. He is rolling with it though, and looks completely comfortable when I drop him off, so I'm not too worried about him! Now, if he can just be quiet and sit still long enough to learn something....HA! We love this kid though! Sean decided that he needed a notebook earlier this week so that he could write out his thoughts because there are so many of them. Although he can't spell yet, he is drawing pictures like crazy. I think he might write a book or something later on in life. They say the average woman speaks 30,000 words a day. Elijah is clocking in at at least 40,000 words a day. He might as well write a book and get paid for it, right? hehe!


Abby and Elijah have a different Kindergarten teacher than who they had for summer school. For summer school, they had a gem of a woman named Mrs. Muder, who was exactly what they needed at the time. We are especially appreciative of the extra time she took to work with Abby on her frustrations and emotions. So much progress was made in 4 short weeks. Truly a wonderful woman! Mrs. Muder was actually Sean's physical therapist in first, second, and third grade....and then she had two of our kids for summer school! She was delighted, and Sean was delighted to see her again after so many years. She is the physical therapist during the actual school year, so a couple of our kids may yet have her for that, but she was very kind to email me on the first day of official Kindergarten and wish our family luck.

Abby and Elijah are together again for the actual school year. We placed them together because they both have more easy-going personalities. Since neither one is really a leader, we figured they wouldn't bug each other too much. Although, Elijah does seem to gravitate toward the caring big brother role with Abby, making sure she feels safe (even though he is a minute younger). The kids' new teacher for the school year seems very nice and personable too. I haven't been able to get a good read on her yet because we are only a couple of days in, but she seems to be easily accessible through email and her classroom Facebook page. One of my main goals at the beginning of each school year (yep, I'm counting Pre-K) is to develop a close relationship with our kids' teachers. I just feel like everything goes better when they know I'm there, and I know they are meeting my kids needs. I'm not always successful because some teachers are more reserved than others, but I definitely give it my best shot! We firmly believe that the educational process doesn't end at school, and that our role as parents is even more important at home. So we try to support our teachers as much as possible and let them know that we are present and....for lack of a better word after our difficult Pre-K days.....watching that everything is going well. hehe! I'm really not as bad as I sound. I don't think I ever blogged about our actual issues with the school district that we came from, but let's just say that although our Pre-K teachers were amazing overall, the school and district administration left a lot to be desired both in being in legal compliance with special education law, and in basic safety measures.

BUT, we have very high hopes for this new school district and new school year. I feel like I'm still feeling it out...hoping that it does prove to be all that we've heard it is. I was able to have a nice conversation with the Principal, Vice Principal, and Instructional Coach today in the hallway at the school. Just sharing some of the issues from our last school, and my concerns about dropping them at the door without walking them to class. They have a rule at the school that parents can walk their kids to class the first week, but after that, they want the kids to be independent and for parents to drop them in the lobby. I totally get that, and *want* to be able to do that, but given our previous school situation, I'm desperate to be able to walk them to class at least once a week to just stick my head in and let everyone know I'm still around. That was the only way I could get our last school administration to stay in compliance with IEPs and make sure my kids were safe. The "I'm still here" walk through seemed to help a lot. It also gave me a chance to build that relationship with our teachers that I so highly value. Their Pre-K teachers are now good friends because we established a working relationship that made sure the kids' best interests were met. Anyhow, all that to say, the school administration suggested we set up a meeting to talk through what will be best for the kids, what will make me feel comfortable that they are safe and IEPs are in compliance, and also help all of us get on the same page considering what we are coming from. I'm grateful for a school administration that does seem to really care about our family as a whole unit. It's refreshing!

And I think the kids (and Sean and I) will end up being very happy here in the end!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Kindergarten Prep...Quad Style!

So here we are. Three days before Kindergarten starts, and I'm so nervous!! I really thought I'd be good to go with this since we've already done two years of full-day Pre-K, but.....ahhh!!!!

I stopped by the school last night to check the postings with classroom assignments, and then cried all the way home. All I could think was, "I hope we made the right choice. I hope this school is going to meet their needs and all of the therapies listed on their IEPs. I hope we picked a good district. I hope the teachers and schools staff *get* us, but I also hope we don't overwhelm anyone." We've been told by TONS of people that we are in a good district and in a great school with really wonderful teachers, but it's that nagging mom worry that is getting me. 

It's okay. I'm going to make it. I know y'all are wondering. *sniff, sniff*

Okay, enough about me (because I think those are normal Kindergarten jitters anyway), let's talk about the kids!

The kids are SOOOOO excited for school to start! They are counting down the days, eagerly planning what to pack in their lunch boxes, and anticipating carrying their new backpacks to their classrooms. I hope they never lose their excitement for school, because truly, Sean and I would both go back to school in a heartbeat. We love learning and hope our kids carry that into adulthood with them.

What has been most fun about this week of kindergarten prep is that all the grandparents have been involved as well. Without us asking for them to invest in this big milestone, my parents asked to take our kids for school supplies, and Sean's dad asked to take them school clothes shopping. I love that it's a family affair sending them off to school!

As a total side note, these two outings happened on different days, but the girls are wearing the same outfits. I *promise* I washed their laundry between wearings! They just really love running around in dresses!

My parents took the kids for their outing earlier in the week. They started by heading to one of the kids' favorite places to eat: Chick-fil-A! Then they headed to Walmart with the school supply list and bought four of everything. That's a LOT of school supplies. Meanwhile, Sean and I escaped for a quick dinner out on our own. My mom took photos of their adventuring (but forgot to include herself). The kids were delighted, because they had no idea they were getting to do that until we pulled up to the Chick-fil-A to meet my parents!

Ellie, Caleb, Grandpa, Elijah, and Abby eating dinner

Caleb (front), Elijah (back), Grandpa, Abby (front), Ellie (back) shopping for school supplies


Today, Pa (Sean's dad) took the kids to shop for school clothes. Being the ever prudent thinker that I am, I opted for long sleeve shirts and pants to take us through the fall and winter. So although they won't wear these on the first day of school, they will be able to wear them for the majority of the year,which we are grateful for! Buying four new wardrobes twice a year gets expensive! We don't have hand-me-downs in our family since everyone is the same size. This was a fun shopping trip with Pa, Ruby (Sean's sister) and her kids Marissa and Toby. Our girls found it especially fun to shop with their cousin Marissa. They felt so grown up getting to do that! 

Ellie, Pa, and Abby contemplating princess outfits

Caleb, Elijah, and Pa looking at shirts

Group shot! Caleb, Elijah, Cousin Toby, Cousin Marissa, Abby, Ellie, and Pa
(Caleb is doing a yoga pose because the manikin across from him was doing a yoga pose in fitness wear. Lol!)

Pa, Ellie, Elijah, Abby, and Caleb at the end of the shopping trip.

This is a funny story! About 20 minutes into our 45 minute shopping trip (get that...6 kids, 45 minutes. That's fast!), Caleb looked at Pa and told him he was done. Pa told him to get used to it because he has a long life of following women who are shopping around, and that he was just lucky that we were staying at one store instead of hopping around to multiple places. By the time we took the photo above, Caleb was convinced that he never wanted to see the inside of a store again. Haha!! Poor buddy. It's a rough life being 5!

I *think* we are just about ready! I realized today that I need to get some food containers for their lunch boxes, and I still need 8 boxes of tissue for their classrooms, but other than that, all we have to do is stop by Meet the Teacher Night, and then get to school on time on Tuesday.

Kindergarten, here we come!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

New Home, New School, New Chapter for the Ishum Quads!

We had a VERY busy June! While it was full of amazing things, I'm really glad that July is here. I need a break!

We started off by moving! FINALLY!! We listed our house for sale at the beginning of February, and spent 3 long months with it on the market. In the grand scheme of things, 3 months really isn't that long, but when all the rest of the houses in the metro are selling in 48-72 hours, and we are having to keep a house that contains four 5-year-olds spotless, it makes for a very, long stressful period on the market. On the upside, my house never looked better than when it was listed. We finished fixing it up, and I actually looked at Sean and said, "Do we really have to move? This is a great house!"

Seriously, look how clean my living room was. Couch covers do amazing things for old furniture!

It totally was a great house. I loved our first home. It was where we figured out how to be married to each other without killing one another, the house that saw me come home from baby showers in tears because we couldn't get pregnant, the house where we brought home 4 medically fragile babies and prayed that they would survive, the house where our kids learned how to walk and talk....that house was so full of memories and blessings! I *may* have cried when we left. If it hadn't been for needing to improve on the school district, I wouldn't have minded staying a little longer.

We do have a great new house though! It's actually pretty close to the same size as our last one, but the layout is much better. I guess that's the difference between a house built 60 years ago and a house built 15 years ago. After waiting 3 months to go under contract on our house, we ended up having....oh....about 1 day to find a new one. We picked out 5 houses online, went and saw 4 of them (the key in the lockbox didn't work for one of them), and then went home and picked the one out of the bunch that would work best for us. AND we did that with all four of our kids in tow. No easy feat! It was quite the undertaking, and we only had one almost-emergency room visit in the process when Abby fell off of one of the front porches onto her head/shoulder on the concrete driveway below. I think next time, our goal is to 1) NOT have kids with us while house shopping and 2) have more than 1 day to find something. (In case you were wondering, the house that Abby had her accident at was not the one we went with. Lol!)

I have moved before as a kid, and then moved myself into Sean's house when we got married, but it's a WHOLE other ballgame when you are one of the adults in charge and have to move your own kids. I was ignorantly unaware of how much work it would be. Caleb had the hardest time of all of them as we started packing up. As his little world changed, he started to obsess about house showings, whether he could take his doggy (lovey) with him, and whether he was going home that day or going somewhere else. He has adjusted pretty well since we moved here, but I know it wasn't easy for him.

And on top of that move, we also enrolled the kids in our new school district's summer school program. Their summer school started on a Monday and our move happened on a Tuesday. It was a week of a LOT of changes for our family. I asked one of the kids' Pre-K teachers if that was too much in a 24 hour period, and she suggested that it might actually work in our favor, especially with Caleb. Since we had been telling them that they would get a new house AND a new school, doing it at the same time would probably make more sense to him than doing it a couple of months apart. So we went with it! Sure enough, Caleb didn't question it at all. It just seemed "right" in him mind to do it that way.

They were exhausted by the end of the week, but it actually was the BIGGEST blessing to have them occupied with school while we were trying to get boxes into the house and bunk beds set up.
Caleb....15 minutes after arriving at his new home. Lol!

We are so grateful for the friends who showed up to help us move on a Tuesday and Wednesday! It's really hard to find available people during the work week, but because the buyers of our house wanted to take possession on a Friday, and we couldn't get into our new house until the Tuesday before, we had no choice. A couple of friends actually took time off from work to show up and help us. It was unbelievably kind of them to do so! Many thanks to Tim, Alan, Brian and Brittany, Renee, Julie, and Sarah for showing up to help us do everything from moving boxes to setting up bunk beds (each had 200 pieces, and of course we needed two of them. ACK!), to helping us get our kitchen set up and usable. I really, REALLY planned on taking more photos, but I totally spaced it. Out of everyone who helped us, this is the *only* photo I have of anyone. Definitely a fail on my part. If you aren't in this photo, you are no less appreciated than these ladies!
Brittany, me, and Renee halfway through moving day.

You know what else is a fail? Falling flat on your face 20 minutes into moving. With my true sense of impeccable timing, I managed to severely sprain my ankle at 12:20 pm. We started the move at 12:00. I actually thought I broke it, but thankfully it was still usable even though it was incredibly painful. I think we all just need to admit that I am no good when it comes to stepping down off of anything. Remember when I broke my leg 2.5 years ago? Yep, stairs. This time, it was stepping off of the edge of the bathtub. I tell my kids repeatedly to never, ever stand on the edge of the bathtub because they might slip and fall. Apparently, I can't follow my own directions. I climbed up there to pull down the shower curtain, and when I stepped off, I landed VERY wrong, and felt a pop. I don't know if you can tell how bad the swelling was (it had actually gone down a little bit in this photo), but it looked like I had a baseball attached to the outside of my ankle. It took a good 5 days or so before I could walk without it hurting too much.
After the swelling had started to decrease.

I have a fear of stairs, steps, ledges....really anything that requires stepping down. I think that's fair at this point in my life!

So all of that to say....we have successfully moved our family to a new home with lots of help from our friends! We then spent the next 2 weeks scrambling to get things set up because Sean and I headed to Salt Lake City for a week for the Young Living International Convention. We needed for our babysitters to at least be able to move through the house while taking care of our kids instead of spending the whole time crawling over boxes. While we got it to the point of livable, It still feels like it's going to take months to dig back out from all of these boxes. So. much. stuff. It makes me want to get rid of everything that isn't used daily and become the ultimate minimalist.
Ellie, Elijah, Daddy, Caleb, and Abby

I think it's going to be worth it though! Our house is laid out so much better, I can start teaching classes in our home instead of always finding a coffee shop, and our kids go to one of the best elementary schools in the district we are in. We are so grateful for our blessings!
Ellie, Daddy, Elijah, Caleb, and Abby

 We started purging last June, started packing up "extra stuff" last November, listed in February, sold at the end of April, and moved in June. Well worth it to finally be in our new home.....but.....I think I might not ever want to move again. At a minimum, someone else gets to take down the shower curtain next time

Friday, May 20, 2016

Summer Vacation...Cartoon-Style!

Preschool officially ended on Tuesday which means that I have four very crazy and LOUD 5-year-olds to keep entertained this summer. Life according to 5-year-olds can be pretty silly though!

On Wednesday, I took the kids to the grocery story with me, and decided to draw a cartoon when I got home. I actually used to do this when I worked in insurance and had clients call in to file claims. There were some pretty crazy stories, and I used to occasionally draw a little cartoon to explain to my coworkers what the client told me on the phone (visuals always make it easier to understand!). They thought my illustrations were hilarious, so on Wednesday, I suddenly got the urge to draw one about our grocery store trip. My Facebook friends seemed to think that it was fun and recommended that I get it up on the blog. I've drawn a couple more in the last couple of days, so you can get a taste of our first 3 days of summer vacation. If I can get my act together, I'll see if I can draw a few more as the summer goes on.

Now hang on because you are about to be blown away by some serious artistic talent. Believe it or not, I'm totally self taught. *wink*


Summer Vacation: Day 1
I'd like to publicly thank my kids for calling for help at the grocery store until an employee decided to see what was up. (*sigh*)

Apparently, even if I tell them ahead of time what I'm buying, walk only 3 feet away to grab said item (because we wouldn't all fit between display cases), and have both eyeballs on all 4 kids, they can still forget where I am in 2 seconds flat.

We seriously need to work on listening skills.




Summer Vacation: Day 2
She doesn't get her dentist visit excitement from me...there was screaming, dancing, flailing of celebratory arms, and kissing to illustrate that this was the best activity I could have possibly lined up for her. Lol!



Summer Vacation: Day 3
Sometimes I get overly ambitious with the skillet. I guess my kids noticed tonight....


I don't know. Maybe this isn't nearly as entertaining on the internet as it is on Facebook, but it's a unique way to commemorate our first few days off of school.

If you want to see the first (and only other) cartoon that I've posted on this blog, you can click over to this post that I wrote when I was 26 weeks pregnant. I illustrated how the babies were positioned in the womb. :)


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Sunday, April 10, 2016

New Family Photo and Easter 2016

It is SO hard to get a decent family photo! Seriously, at what point do kids start smiling AT the camera? If they would just all look and smile at the camera at the same time, we could get a good photo in 30 seconds.

I keep thinking that it might happen "next year". Then "next year" arrives, and we are still all over the place. At least it makes it entertaining to look through the dozens of photos after the fact. Ha!

But, I think we ended up with a pretty good updated family photo on Easter! Thanks to my brother, Josh, for snapping it!
Elijah, Ellie, Sean, Rebecca, Caleb, and Abby

We spent Easter with both sides of the family. We started off with lunch at my parents' house. It had been raining, so their Easter Egg Hunt was held in the house to keep everyone dry. The kids and their cousins had fun anyway! Then they all lined up on the floor and started eating through their stash. Nevermind we had just finished a big meal!


Then we headed over to Sean's dad's house for a big Easter Egg Hunt in his backyard. Our kids look forward to that Easter Egg Hunt all year because Sean's dad hides almost 200 eggs. It's crazy how many there are....and so much fun!
Caleb

Abby

Ellie and Elijah

It ended up being a great day, and I got a new family photo out of it to boot. The hardest part about this Easter was missing my mother-in-law who passed not too long after Easter last year. As we dyed eggs with the kids this year, I was wishing we could have had her with us for that activity. I think this photo is the last one that I took of the kids with her.....she was definitely missed. Holidays are never quite the same when a loved one is no longer there. I think she would have been happy to know that the Easter Egg Hunt and egg dying still happened this Easter though!
Cousin Marissa, Ellie, Ma, Elijah, Caleb, and Abby
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