Managing Many

A friend sent me a message on Facebook yesterday asking me at what age her twins would be when she wouldn’t feel like four kids was a lot. I responded that when I figured that out, I’d let her know. I wasn’t trying to be flip, but more wanted to let her know that four is just a lot, all the time.

When Annie and Izzie were newborns, and Drew was just 2 and Meg 6, I was overwhelmed. Three kids in diapers, one in full-time kindergarten, a brand new house that I couldn’t manage~ it was all too much. I lived in the middle of the woods with no neighbors, in a town where I hardly knew a soul, and I was lonely and completely lost. I sat on my stairs often, crying with whatever kid was crying at the time and I figured that things would never, ever get better.

Fast forward to today. Annie and Izzie are 6 1/2, Drew is 8 1/2 and Meg is 12 1/2. The insanity of those early years with four kids is long gone, only replaced by a different sort of insanity. Now it’s remembering who has what special on what day of the week (the kids need sneakers for PE and what day is library day and where are their books?), who has what activity after school, who’s going to have a meltdown because hot dogs aren’t for dinner tonight. We just came off two months of overlapping middle school field hockey for Meg, soccer for Drew and dance for Annie and Izzie. Some Mondays all four kids had their sports, so I would send my parents to watch Meg’s game wherever it might be, take Annie and Izzie to dance and have Doug meet me to pick up Drew for soccer. It was crazy, but not as overwhelming as 3 in diapers used to be.

One thing that helps me manage all the kids with all their events is my iPhone. Without it, and it’s handy reminders, I would be lost. I can schedule a school conference, invite Doug so it’s on his phone, and set myself a reminder so I’m not late (I despise being late). I used to use the calendar on my computer, but since I’m on the go more than I’m home, have my calendar at my fingertips is much more helpful. I downloaded Drew’s hockey schedule to my phone and Doug’s as well, and any changes are automatically updated so that we’re always aware of what rink we’re supposed to be heading to.

Now that Meg is older, she is responsible for her schoolwork and her weekly schedule. She has a small dry erase calendar in her bedroom where she keeps track of what UA (unified art) she has each day, what sporting or music event she might have that week, and what other things she might need to do. I use that calendar myself-I check it almost daily-so that I can communicate more effectively with her. When she has an event that requires me to pick her up or drop her off at a specific time, it goes on my iPhone and her iPod.

We also have a larger dry erase calendar in our computer room, and some events get placed on it, but I’ll admit it’s becoming a bit obsolete. The kids tend to draw pictures on it in the memo section and they’re forever losing the markers. But I’ll keep it there because if my phone died, I’d need someplace to relocate everything to (you know, when I was done sobbing over the death of my beloved phone).

The hardest thing about managing four kids is the amount of paperwork that comes in the door every school day. While the middle school doesn’t send home much and Meg keeps her schoolwork with her at all times, the younger kids bring home work daily. Homework packets get placed on our cork board so they don’t get lost; Drew keeps his daily planner and folder together, so that I can review and sign off on his work as he completes it. I’ll fully admit that some things, like book orders, get forgotten because there are just too many other things to keep track of some weeks.

Managing many is still a work in progress around here, especially as the kids are getting older and their needs are changing. I’m sure I’ll have to keep adapting because what works today may not work well tomorrow. Now if someone could figure out a way for me to deal with all the shoes and laundry, that would be fantastic.

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Back to School

As much as I’m ready for summer vacation by the time it rolls around, I’m even more ready for the kids to head back to school come the end of August. My kids love school; they love the structure, the time with friends and generally not being all together, all the time like they are when we’re home for the summer.

The kids headed back to school last week, even if it was just for two days. This year I have kids in 3 different schools~middle for Meg, a grade 3/4 for Drew, and K-2 for Annie and Izzie. The younger kids all still ride the bus together (thank goodness!) which does make life a bit easier.

Meg’s heading into her last two years of middle school as a 7th grader. Sixth grade was hard for her, not academically, but socially, and we were both so glad when that year ended and we could both move on. Seventh grade has great promise, with a new team of teachers, best friends who are REAL friends, and the ability to play middle school sports (other than ice hockey, which she could play as a 6th grader). Field hockey practice started on the first day of school and she’s LOVING it! She’ll be ready to go when ice hockey season starts at the end of September (nothing like overlapping sports).

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Drew has left the younger elementary school and is a 3rd grader now. He’s in the same classroom that Meg had as a 3rd grader, which is fantastic as I LOVED her teacher. He’s excited to be back to school with one of his best friends in his classroom with him, and can’t wait to dive into more multiplication, which he started doing last year. Drew’s playing travel soccer this fall; he’s already played keeper twice and is really enjoying it so far. Soccer and hockey will overlap for him as well, so our fall is going to be very busy!

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Annie and Izzie are sharing a classroom again this year, as 1st graders. Our district is fantastic about letting the parents decide how to place our twins. I talked with their kindergarten teacher back in the spring about their placement, then wrote a letter to the school with our request. For now, they’ll stay together until a)they start to compete with each other, b)they request to be separated or c)all of the above. They each have their own strengths (Izzie is a strong reader and Annie has strong math skills) so they don’t compete too often. Having twins in school is still a new phenomenon for me, so we’re take things year by year. The girls will play soccer again this fall, but have opted out of hockey for the year. They’d like to take dance classes but we haven’t made a decision on that yet.

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I’m trying to get myself back into a semblance of routine as well. I’m still working at least 1 day a week in the office, volunteering on two different youth sport board of directors and am the team administrator for Drew’s soccer team. School classroom volunteering will start in October, so I’ll use September to clean house and breathe.

Who else is excited for school to be back in session? Am I the only one?

Let Them Eat….Lamb and Cow?

January is a big birthday month for our family, as all three of the girls celebrate birthdays. Annie and Izzie’s birthday is exactly 2 weeks before Meg’s. It makes for a crazy month of baking, wrapping and celebrating, much like December. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This year I knew right away that I would be making cakes to celebrate what Annie and Izzie love most~lambs and cows. I had no idea if I’d find any party supplies to match, but I knew that the girls would have the cakes of their favorite things.

Of course once I made the cakes I was nervous that neither of the girls would even let me cut them, as the cow cake was made to resemble Annie’s cow named Mooie and the lamb cake was made to resemble Izzie’s lamb Shakes. We did have a small crying episode from Izzie when she was presented with her cake to eat, so we pretended it wasn’t Shakes at all and she happily gobbled it up.

Can I just say how much I miss using my own camera? I use Meg’s Coolpix and when the light is low I get yellow pictures. I need to get my lens sent in to Canon for repairs ASAP.

I still can’t believe my babies are five.

I’m a Big Kid Now

(Bet you can’t read that without singing the Toys ‘R Us theme in your head)

One more vestige of toddlerhood has left our home. There are currently two crib mattresses and two toddler beds outside of my home. Not in Annie and Izzie’s room, but on my porch. The girls are FINALLY in twin size beds.

After finding both girls sleeping more off their toddler beds than on lately, we decided to undertake the task of updating their bedroom. When we were building this house and had to decide on rug colors and paint for their room, we hadn’t had our 20 week ultrasound yet and had to go with the boring beige that encompasses the bulk of our house for their bedroom. I purchased crib bedding for them that contained mauve and pink and tan to bring some color into the room, but I knew that down the road I’d want to redo the room.

Fast forward 4 1/2 years and we finally reached that point! We were at Target one day and I found bedding, ON SALE, and knew it was a sign that it was time to redo the room. Annie’s bedding is this:
and Izzie’s is this: .

I went to Lowe’s for paint samples and after much debate ended up with this color for their room: <a href="Olympic A41-1 Tiara at MyPerfectColor
Olympic A41-1 Tiara at MyPerfectColor“>. Most colors I tried were too pink or too purple, but this is a great combination of both and it looks so pretty in their room.

I also snagged this lovely print at Target yesterday (and on sale!) and it’s hanging between their beds:

The room isn’t complete yet, as the changing table/bureau needs to be emptied and moved out to be sold on Craigslist, but it’s coming along. The girls got to spend their first night in their beds last night and were so happy. They slept past 6 am! Eventually we’ll put a small nightstand between their beds when they’re past the point of standing on furniture (oh my). For now though, they feel like the big kids they are becoming and that makes us all happy.

The Last First Day

This past Wednesday I experience my last first day of preschool with Annie and Izzie. It wasn’t as bittersweet as I expected; I am pretty sure their final day of preschool in June will leave me with mixed feelings, as I’ll be excited for the next chapter of all of our lives but sad because that preschool has been a part of our family for five years. Annie and Izzie were quite excited to get back to school to be with their friends, old and new.

We had no tears at drop off on the first day and I was in the preschool all day on the 2nd day. I am hoping that I leave happy girls at school again tomorrow!

Four

Dear Annabelle and Isabelle~

How is it possible that you are turning FOUR years old today? You’re more than willing to tell anyone who asks that you are turning four, not six or three.

You are my babies, my “let’s have a third child”. You make me crazy, fill my heart with love, smother me with kisses, give awesome hugs, make more messes than your big brother and sister combined. Your personalities are so different now from how you first entered the world, with Annie so quick to join us and Izzie needing some turning and prompting. Now Annie, you’re the laid back one, always watching us with your big brown eyes and Izzie is the one barreling into a room at a mach-3.

For my Annie, my sweet big girl. You are your big sister’s clone. Your eyes, hair, build are all Megan but your personality is all Drew’s. Still, you are your own girl, with a love of coloring, writing, cows and giving the best hugs. You love school and are constantly asking if it’s “your day to go to school”.

For my Izzie, my little one. I can tell exactly how you’re feeling by looking into your big brown eyes. They tell me everything. You’re quite the imp too, although it’s not always a bad thing. Your love of lambs may be bordering on obsession and you want so much to be a “big girl”. You do everything big-love, fight, play-and that is going to take you far in this world my sweets.

From this:

To this:

Happy birthday my loves.

Love Mama