Wednesday, July 10, 2013

To Blog or Not to Blog... Isn't really the question!

It's more like, "where has the time gone?" I had such true intentions when I said I was excited to be back to blogging. Yet, nothing. Moral of the story, no matter what is going on, we always find ourselves busy.

I think I'll try and play a little catch up here. How about "by the numbers?" I always use to like it when Conor would do a post like this. It's seems appropriate when we are so far behind....

1. The grade our kiddos will be heading to this fall. I actually spent a really long time writing a detailed post about our decision to hold them back last year & never finished it. I guess it wasn't that exciting. Simply put, it was the right choice for each child individually and we have no regrets. Two years in Kindergarten was just what our preemies needed. If any of you are struggling with this choice, let me just say, do it! We agonized over it. Agonized!! At the end of the day, the kids could have cared less! Now, they are very well adjusted and really ready for 1st grade. That's just my two cents, for whatever it's worth. ;)

2. The number of weeks our little people spent in Portland with their Grandma Deb and Papa Jon. Conor and I drove the kids up to Portland to spend some summer fun at "Camp McNulty!" Conor's very brave parents and sister were up to the challenge. When we arrived home without our brood, we almost didn't know what to do with ourselves. So, we dated again, and it was a blast! Meanwhile the kids had the time of there lives in Oregon. They made some pretty special memories - very lucky kids!! I'll admit it, we missed them terribly, but it was a nice break had by all.

The kids sleeping in Conor's childhood room!
3. The number of times you have to tell Ally, "NO," for her to accept the final answer. I really think that one of these days she truly believes that she is actually going to change my mind. Hmm... maybe she'll be a lawyer one day!? She sure is good at pleading her case.

4. The number I count to in my head, over and over and over and over again ALL. DAY. LONG. I'm totally not kidding. Been doing this since they were in my belly. "Four heart beats?" "Check!" These day it's more like, "four kids in the car?" "Phew, check!"

5. The number of times Molly will change her clothes before leaving the house, only to end up in the same blue shirt and skirt every time. I keep telling her that this is not supposed to happen until Junior High! Thank goodness for uniforms during the school year! ;)

6. Speaking of school... SIX, the number of WEEKS LEFT until they start school again. I had better remember how to keep them busy STAT! Haha!

7. The minimum number of artistic masterpieces Russ powers through in a day. The kid can draw!

8. The number of sun block bottles in our recycling can! It always amazing me how much we go through around here. Thank you, Costco!

9. The number of stuffed animals Libby has in her bed. The peanut just doesn't like to be without her special friends. No way, no how!

10. Number of years we have been married! Last week, July 5th, marked 10 years of marriage for Conor and I. It's crazy how fast time passes you by. Wasn't it just yesterday that we were newlyweds and trying so hard to have a baby? We've sure come a long way.

Ya gotta celebrate the good days, laugh & learn from the bad! Otherwise, we'd all go crazy!

Happy Wednesday Everyone!


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Happy 7th Birthday!

Russ, Ally, Molly, Libby

Instead of one of my annual sappy, sentimental, weepy birthday posts, I think I'll start this one with my facebook status from Mother's Day...

I spent my very first Mother's Day sitting in the Sutter NICU watching my four preemies (31 wks & 5 days-yes, I still count the days) struggle for life. Everyone told us it was "impossible for all 4 of them to be healthy." TOMORROW THEY WILL BE 7 YEARS OLD... & are all currently sitting in time out. Oooh, how healthy they are! Lol! God is good & we are so lucky.

Hospital name tags by Nurse Shannon

Yup! That just about sums it up! Life with these four has never been, nor ever will be dull. They are each so full of life and so incredibly different... just as they always have been.

Russ, Libby, Allly, Molly 

Russell John

Our Oldest, Mr. Russell John, is a wild man! The phrase "all boy" never seems to do him justice. Despite being surrounded by sisters, he just can't help himself. He's rough and tumble and constantly "chasing his own tail." However, if I ever want him to mellow out, all I have to do is ask him to draw something. The kid has a crazy cool imagination and talent for all things art! I love to listen to him explain his creations and the back stories that go along with them. He's an entertaining little guy! I asked him, "what is your favorite thing to do on the weekend?" He replied, "playing soccer and spending dude time with Daddy." We girls don't know what they do, but they always come home on cloud nine! Russ also has a huge heart. He loves on his mama with a precious, unconditional sweetness that only a son could profess. His concern for his sisters is always on his mind too. He worries about them non stop and always promises to "make sure they are ok!" He's a complex kiddo who always knows how to make us smile. We never know what he's gonna be into next and he ALWAYS keeps us on our toes. It's really fun to watch him grow up. He's turning into a pretty neat kid!

Allison Ann

Our second born might just be destined for SNL. Her natural comedic timing is priceless and her cackle is simply contagious! She can make us laugh no matter what is going on. It makes it REALLY hard to be mad at her sometimes. You can often catch us turning our heads or bolting from the room so she won't catch us giggling. She is such a goofball and always tells it like it is. She is one of the very few people I have ever known who truly does not care what anyone thinks of her. She plans to be a "famous singer," when she grows up and sings day in and day out. Ya gotta love it. She's also quite sneaky and smart as a whip. We can almost always find her at the root of all mischief in the house. It's a good thing she has a HUGE heart!!! She's our resident "Mother Theresa." The girl worries and takes care of EVERYONE and EVERYTHING. She can often be found protecting rollie pollies & daddy long legs on the play ground or standing up for a friend who is having a bad day. She loves her siblings deeply and would do absolutely anything for them. Anything! The best word to describe Ally is, loyal. In addition, and we have NO CLUE where she gets this from, she is really into learning about saints in school. She LOVES to reenact stories from the bible. I'm telling ya, this kiddo is as unique as they come and we adore her! 

Ally leading a home production of The Birth of Jesus
(yep, that's Libs in the laundry basket as the infant)

Molly Lou Ann

Miss Molly may have been born third, but she is, and has always been, the leader of our little gang. Our sweet,  long-legged mother hen spends most of her days worrying about & caring for her siblings. The other three look to her for guidance and affirmation.She wears her heart on her sleeve and takes on the hurts and concerns of those around her. When someone else is sad, she's sad too. She's a beautiful old soul who channels all of her emotion into her song writing! No joke, she's quite the budding lyricist! Her words and melodies have heart and true meaning. It's very sweet. Often, she writes songs for Ally to sing. Once in a while they do a duet! Who knows, maybe they will actually take this act on the road one day. A natural born leader, Molly is also incredibly outgoing. She's always the first to make a new friend and has yet to meet someone she didn't get along with. I'm so proud of her gentle heart. When it comes to school and sports though, Molly is a perfectionist and crazy competitive. These things come naturally to her without much effort. She's not a fan of coming in second. So...we're working hard to explain that sometimes it's okay to have to work for something! LOL! Must be rough to be Molly!! God love her and that precious heart she wears on her sleeve for all the world to see. She makes me smile ear to ear.  

Molly getting ready to bust out her best Karate Kid Crane! 

Elizabeth Dolores

Princess Libby is a complex and dainty love bug of a person. She can be as kind, darling, generous, precious, affectionate, SHY & charming as the day is long. But man, if  you cross her, she will CUT you! When they say "big things come in small packages," they were talking about our Libby. Now, don't get me wrong, she is all of those kind things I mentioned above. In fact, she is a little ball of love and the best cuddle buddy around. She will sit and make you pictures covered in hearts, unicorns, teddy bears & rainbows all day long. She is always a teacher favorite and often referred to as the "easiest angel on Earth!" She's neat, tidy & almost always does what is asked of her (at school and and at home). She shines brightest when praised for good behavior. She even makes her bed every day, without being asked & organizes her stuffed animals so that they perfectly line her bed frame! Her personality, feelings & heart run very deep. She has so much beautiful love to give and her sweet little feelings get hurt really easily. Yet, our little Jeykle and Hyde will not take anything from anyone. She always knows EXACTLY what she wants, how to get it (especially from her siblings) & she NEVER forgets a darn thing. NEVER. She's like a steel trap. We have no doubt, no matter what life hands Libby, she will come up smelling of pink roses surrounded by mounds of stuffed animals & dressed like the bell of the ball. We wouldn't have her any other way.

So sweet when she sleeps... mostly plotting her world take over while riding a unicorn into the sunset! 

It's been quite some time since I've stopped long enough to really reflect on the people our children are and who they are becoming. It's a little like taking time to smell the roses... you forget how sweet they smell if you never stop long enough to enjoy them. Here's to 7 years of surprises and non-stop excitement. This year, I'm pledging to slow down and take the time to cherish these moments, they sure are flying by. 

Okay, WOW so much for NOT writing a "sappy" post! Ha! I'll leave you with this Friday night Fro-Yo picture and call it a day. 

Happy Birthday, my babies!
Yes, you will ALWAYS be my babies.
I  love you,

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Confessional

I don't think I have blogged more than a couple of times since I went back to work full time 2 years ago. Truth? I lost my desire to write. I know all of you busy moms out there know what I'm talking about. By the end of the day, once you've done homework, loved on your kiddos, made dinner,  packed lunches, laid out uniforms, given showers, brushed teeth, said prayers, and tucked everyone in... You. Are. Done. All you wanna do is have a glass of wine, curl up in bed, and try to get at least a few hours of sleep before you get up and do it all over again. AND weekends are spent rushing around to soccer games, parties, grocery stores, cleaning the house, folding mountains of laundry & just trying your best to catch up. Ugh, THE GRIND... the grind is tough, no matter how much you love your job!!! That's reality. I know you all get it. We all do it every day.

Since I'm calling this "The Confessional," there is a bit more to this story. In addition to the grind, I have been battling health issues for some time... again, and again, and again, and again. I have been in and out of the hospital with internal issues that I cannot control. I don't want to bore anyone with details. The long and short of it? My insides just do not like to work right and I have a long road ahead of me in order to get well. I'm one tough chick, but there is only so much one person can take. Okay, so enough about that. No sense in whining over spilled innards er, ummm, milk! ;).

Man, being a grown up is HARD! Hahaha! Like my  dear friend Lori says, "When life gives you lemons, make limoncello!"

Being laid up in bed has given me a chance to put things in perspective. I look at my kids and think, "to be 7 again, without a care in the world." They are so innocent, full of life, loving, kind, smart, honest, & fearless. Watching them grow into these amazing DIFFERENT people is what makes it all worth it!

So, what's the moral of the story? I've found my voice again and I feel like blogging! I can't wait to share with you the cool, funny, independent, kind, loving, smart, strong willed, and often insanely frustrating people our kiddos have become. Now that this little confession is out of the way, I can start working on fun stuff!

Next up on the blogging list... Our kiddos turn 7!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh, and I do believe our blog needs a bit of a face lift too! ;) 

Here's to getting healthy and a fresh start here in Quadville! 

(L-R Russ, Libby, Mommy, Molly & Ally)

Happy Friday Everyone! 


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Catching Up Part 2: Weddings - Dominican Republic Style

In early October, we took a trip to celebrate the wedding festivities of our great friends Amanda and Justin.  It just happened to be located 4,000 miles away at an awesome resort in the Dominican Republic.

Justin & I connected as teammates and roommates at USF.  He stood in our wedding, has been part of our kids' lives, and is a great friend to us both.  We've watched his relationship with Amanda grow over the past few years as they moved out to Chicago.  Gen and Amanda struck a friendship after meeting only a few times, and we couldn't wait to see her and Justin tie the knot.  Any woman that can put him in his place with just one look is a keeper in our books.

Thanks to a generous offer from Grandma Deb to come hold down the fort, we were able to get away for 5 days and make the trek out to be a part of the unique wedding party and celebrations.  Days were spent relaxing poolside, enjoying a great collection of new and old friends, and taking in the sights and surroundings.  Timing couldn't have been better, as Gen continues to struggle with chronic pain issues (more to come on this soon.)  The chance to unplug and relax was a luxury we welcomed with open arms.

Can't articulate how awesome the trip was - hopefully a few pictures can help illustrate the highlights.

Google Earth has nothing on these views

Amazing sights on the decent

Arrived at the resort in time to hang out and catch some breathtaking views
(photo courtesy of Janet Johnston Photography)

Catching Dinner with Park & Michelle 
(and one awesome, photo-bombing waiter)

A surprise guest on the walkway one evening... 
(Gen took the pic, while I watched from a safe distance, 
trying to block out scenes from Arachnophobia in my mind...)

A rehearsal, dinner, and a sunset on the beach.
Not too shabby.
Justin, Amanda, and the Malmstrom Clan - Great People!

13 years, less hair, and more laughs 
with Justin (a.k.a. "Muffin")  

Sunset Ceremony (photo courtesy of Janet Johnston Photography)

Gen, Kylie, and Michelle enjoying the reception.
80s and 90s hits galore - nothing better
First Dance 

Toasting Mr. & Mrs. Wells
Always the bridesmaid...never the bride.  Or something like that...
(Jeff & Park - Officiant & Best Man)

Relaxing poolside the next day, with a tip o' the cap to Joe & Suz

Breakfast views
Enjoying a final dinner with Michelle, Park, Jeff, and Kylie
Hard to be stressed out in this environment...

The long trek home - thankful and rested

Meanwhile, back home...

Goofin' around with Grandma Deb - 
pretty sure they didn't even notice we were gone

HUGE thank you again to Grandma Deb for allowing us to get away and enjoy the wedding.  The kids didn't skip a beat on the weekly schedule, and couldn't wait to tell us about all their adventures the second we got home.

Amanda and Justin - thank you for allowing us be a part of your wedding experience.  We wish you both a lifetime of happiness and laughter!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Catching Up, Part 1: Too Many Hospitals

Don't even know where to start here.  The last four weeks have been a blur and a bit overwhelming.

Kids visiting Charlie yesterday
  • Gen's cousin, Charlie, was in a horrific motorcycle accident and spent the last few weeks battling for his life in the ICU.  Somehow, he continues to beat the odds and battle each day.  
  • Great Grandpa Russ has been in and out of the hospital for weeks, dealing with a variety of serious issues.  Luckily, he's resting at home and much improved as we speak. 
  • Aunt Paula has been suffering from Meniere's Disease and underwent brain surgery. She's been a trooper and is now recovering well at home. 
Our thoughts and prayers have been with them all, especially Charlie and his family, during this difficult time.  In the midst of running back and forth to the hospitals, we found ourselves beginning a string of visits of our own with Libby.

The day we got back from vacation sans kiddos (more to come in Part 2), Libby had developed a small stye on the outside of her eye.  Nothing big, just something we noticed and watched become irritated our first few days home.  The next morning, a circular shape formed - and she was excused from school to go check out what we thought was ringworm or some contagious rash.

Fast forward 3 days, two additional trips to the doc, and still the same diagnosis:  Not contagious, not ringworm,not staph, not pink eye, not eczema, etc. The plan? Just let it play out and should disappear with some topical treatments and antibiotics.

Fast forward two days, we wake Libby up to find a HUGE spread of the rash and circular sore-like formations on her eye, nose, neck, and upper chest.  She was in severe discomfort, crying about how badly they itched and hurt.  Strangest part was none of the other kids showing similar symptoms.

Right to the doc we go again - where our awesome Pediatrician brought in colleagues, referred out to specialists, and conferred for a few days trying to figure it out.  Our doctor has 30+ years of experience and has been there for every scary moment (especially some of the near-fatal scares with Russ as an infant) as a calm and unwavering influence.  When he looked at Libby and remarked "Uh-Oh, that's not good..." we knew it was ok to worry a bit.

Two more days, a day in the ER, an admittance to the hospital, and we finally received some answers.  The official diagnosis was early onset Steven Johnson syndrome, combined with an unknown fungal strain never....seen...before.  The doctors conferred with specialists across the country, and were a bit geeked out over Libby's condition (not happy, just fascinated seeing something new.) While we were scarred to think about the possibilities during the unknown period, it was comforting to get a diagnosis and treatment plan started that showed quick improvements. However, to say we were scared to death would be an understatement.

Photos below show the progression much better than any written description could.

Our Little Libs before.... 

Starting to spread and circle up...

Back at the docs 2 days later... Stumping EVERYONE's getting scary now...

Hangin' at the ER - Crushing Angry Birds

Admitted to the hospital 

"Suffering"through solo time with Mom...

Just a few days after he was released from the same location -
 a nice visit from Grampy Russ

Super lucky to have our friend Sarah work at the hospital pediatric unit.
Lots O' Fun and entertainment whenever she's around!  Who doesn't like making "Goop?"

Hard to tell which one is the kid sometimes

Lookin' MUCH better

Don't think there's anything worse than not having answers and watching your child continue to suffer. Thank you to all of our family and friends across the country for the prayers and love. Thank you also for the continued prayers for Gramp, Charlie and Paula - as we know this mild setback is nothing in comparison.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Breaking Bad

Confession:  We are HYPER-conscious about our kids' behavior in public.  Nothing new, but lately we've realized it comes up more frequently than we'd like.  Maybe it's something about having multiples (I.e. Paranoia about the additional attention it can draw.  When they act poorly, it magnifies the situation.).  Maybe it's because we were both raised to fear the wrath of our parents if proper manners were not displayed at all times.  Whatever the reason, we spend a fair amount of time discussing and stressing over their ability to exhibit "normal" behavior.

Our weekly trip to Costco is a great illustration.  Navigating a crowded store with our brood is enough to make you wonder if they would ever consider online order/delivery of the weekly staples.  We roam the isles, while witnessing wrestling, goading of one another with pinches, trips, whines, etc.  And just when we're ready to pull the plug and leave/discipline, they go and fully redeem themselves.  Pleases, thank yous, and angelic manners in line asking for a food sample (ok, ok, they know when to turn on the charm, eh?) make staff and onlookers stop us and compliment our children on their immaculate behavior and sweet disposition. One kind woman stopped us and mentioned that we should be extremely proud of how well behaved our children were, as she'd never seen anything like it.  We graciously thanked her, while trying to inconspicuously wave Ally & Libby away from tackling one another into the paper towel display.

It's a never ending process, and many friends can't believe these sweet faces could ever do any wrong...

Libs - "Star of the Week" - angelic at school.  
What you don't see:  Throwing the mother-of-all tantrums with the star in-hand (at the home of our Priest no less), not wanting to leave and go home.
Molly - Gen's Mini-Me and sweet helper of a child.  
What you don't see:  The daily morning meltdowns about her outfit.  
Mind you....they're in uniforms...

Russell-Man:  Sweetest kid on earth, always taking care of his mama.
What you don't see:  An amazing talent for "selective hearing."  If it's not of his concern, the kid could ignore an oncoming locomotive.  

Kids watching the infamous Stratos jump live.  Ally praying for Felix.  Absolutely heart warming.  
What you don't see:   UFC-style combat jockeying for position to see "The Spaceman" lasting at least 5 minutes, with Ally utilizing a leg-sweep to clear Russ out of the prime seat.  Impressive actually - but inappropriate nonetheless... 

Are they perfect angels?  Hardly.

Are they normal, hyper-active 6 year-olds?  Absolutely.

Do they drive us bat-you-know-what crazy each day?  You betcha.

We can't help but stress and fixate on "Breaking the bad" - but we're encouraged to see the efforts pay off every once in a while in unexpected ways.  I guess that's enough to keep pushing forward.

Here's to the never-ending journey ahead.  Have a great week!


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