Wednesday, June 30, 2010


So I think my kids have been hanging around their Bogey (aka Grandpa) a little too much lately. Anyone who knows Bogey knows he is a connoisseur of all things wine-related. The other night, right before the kids' bedtime, I was enjoying a much deserved glass of this ...

Sam came up to me for a little before bed snuggle, smiled sweetly, and said very matter-of-factly, "Mommy, that's your vino!" Well, yes Sam, yes it is. And remind me to stop letting you go hang out with Bogey in his wine cellar when we visit him, would'ja? Thanks Buddy. Night night!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Picture(s) of the Week - June 27

I wanted to try and start a tradition of capturing and posting a "picture of the week" on this blog.  I want this picture to simply be a moment or emotion that I want to remember from the week. Something that made me or someone in my family feel something significant, a facial expression I don't want to forget, or an image I want to remember forever. The images don't necessarily have to be monumental, they just have to elicit emotions and memories that I don't want to forget.

This series of pictures is admittedly "doctored" up. Matt was swinging all the kids upside down after dinner one day this week and I snapped some good ones. They got even funnier once I rotated the upside down pictures to a right-side up picture!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Traveling With Toddlers

A road trip down to FL is on the agenda for next week and we are excited! We've done this drive several times with very different results. We are by no means pros at traveling with 4 toddlers in the car, but I'd like to think we are on our way. We have yet to brave a trip by plane with our entire crew, we're saving that until next March ... I shudder at the thought. Our family likes to do it big around here though. That's right, no pansy, hour-long flights for us. We're gonna do that first trip with TWO flights (because we thought changing planes with little kids would be a BLAST). Cross county flights. In coach. Yeah, I'm psyched about that one. Is it too early to ask for the prayer requests?

Anyway, back to the car trips. I'd like to think we've gotten pretty good at those. When the triplets were babies, we could usually drive at night and they would sleep most of the way. I now know that those were the glorious days of old. After a horrendous trip south when we tried to have the kids sleep during the ride and they managed to wake up screaming every 10 minutes or so, that "strategery" (SNL anyone?) went kaput. So now we drive during the day and hope that they nap at least once as we drive. As we've done this several times since the demise of the night driving, I've gotten wise to the ways of the toddler traveler. Here are a few of the tricks and necessities that I have discovered when you have a minivan full of squirming, energetic hellions angels.

First, bring any and all self-soothing items that your kids have. Lovies, blankets, stuffed animals, pacifiers ... if they love on it, bring it. In our house, the lovies stay in the bed, but we make an exception for trips. The kids think they've died and gone to heaven because we let them have their blankies in a place where they aren't usually allowed. This always buys us a lot of needed quiet time (especially since 3 of the 4 suck a thumb or pacifier ... which equals self-imposed quite time!). It does create some problems if someone drops their BB, Kitty, Dottie (yes they all have names), but climbing into the back to retrieve them is a small price to pay for some quiet moments.

Speaking of crawling into the backseat, another must on car trips is making sure we have a clear, uninhibited pathway from the front to the rear of the van. You cannot imagine how many times the passenger in the front has to get up and down to help retrieve juice cups, lovies, toys, etc ... it's definitely a great workout. After having several shin denting run-ins with our cooler one trip, I made it mandatory that we create an open path from front to back for my own safety. I can only imagine what the other drivers on the road think when they see my booty sticking up in the air between the two front seats, but hey, sometimes you have to take one for the team, right?

The main mantra for road trips is Distract, Distract, Distract. Constantly diverting their attention to new sights, songs, games, etc. can help for a while. When the talking isn't working any more (or you've gotten a sore throat from singing "This Little Light of Mine" too many times), then it's time to whip out the material items. Now, if you're a parent, you know that the good old toys your kids already have only work for a limited amount of time. I can pretty much see my kids eyes saying, "Ummm, been there, done that," when I whip out their old favorites. I believe that this is one of the reasons the Dollar Store was created - as a way to buys loads of new and interesting things to occupy kids on road trips. First off, make sure you go to an actual dollar store where EVERYTHING is really a dollar. Some dollar stores are only discount stores (that sell things for over $1 ... the nerve!) and I believe this is just a cruel ploy. Make sure everything really is a dollar and go to town. Last time I went I filled my basket and I think it cost around $20. I buy little toys, cards, candy, birthday hats - anything they think will be interesting. Usually the non-toy items are the biggest hits (I think the garden pinwheels won out last time). Make sure you ration the toys when you give them out and you can buy hours of distraction time. Definitely worth the $20.

Ok, this is getting a little long so I'll list the other necessities to make it (hopefully) shorter:

DVDs - 'Nough said. Bring out Dora, Diego, Max and Ruby, Elmo, whoever does it for your kids. This is what the built in DVD player was made for people, so use it! If you don't have one, get one.

Rest Areas - Find 'em, use 'em. They're great for letting kids burn off some steam. We usually just bring the kids' lunches and pick up something for ourselves and let them eat and run around at rest areas. You need to scout them out beforehand (on previous trips) to find the good ones, but it's a way to let the kids stretch their legs and we can avoid the melt downs we often get at certain fast food restaurants that have play areas and balloons that our kids never want to leave behind (insert melt down here).

Extra clothes, towels, etc. - It is inevitable that during every road trip we will have either a) vomit or
b) "elimination accidents" (another euphemism for the weak stomachs out there). Seriously, we either puke or pee on something every trip. Therefore we have a plentiful supply of towels and clothes in the car for those wonderful times. I have recently taken to making the kids sit on a pad or towel in their car seats so as to minimize clean-ups from said impending elimination incidents. Don't laugh, it helps.

Head Pillows, Supports - I cannot tell you how many times I have looked in the backseat to see one of my kids head banging to whatever is on the radio. At the point when I am about to applaud their mature taste in music, I suddenly realize that the child is actually trying to sleep and is having trouble holding up his or her head in the process. We have had many naps in the car cut short due to this problem. We've solved the problem with our one year old as we have some head supports that strap on to his car seat shoulder harnesses, but we've yet to find something really good for the older kids. I usually just resort to stuffing towels (intended for the "eliminations") around their neck and shoulders once they fall asleep, but this rarely works. Oh how I miss infant carriers! If anyone knows of a better head support system out there, please enlighten me!

Ear Plugs - This is the sole advantage that the passenger in our car has over the driver. Sure, the passenger has to make frequent trips up and down "death row" (aka the path to the back seat), but you also get to experience sweet, sweet relief in those hairy moments by popping in some earplugs (that were conveniently scored during the Dollar Store run). I can always see my husband glare at me in envy as they go in, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

I'm hoping I'll pick up some more tips as we're about to make the day long drive again in a few days. If anyone has any other tricks or tips on how to survive a drive with little ones, lay them on me. I will take any and all suggestions and will definitely try them out and see how they go! Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Why We Love Daddy

This post is almost too late! No excuses, but we have been out of town the last few days so Peyton, Sam, Adah, and Luke almost missed their deadline in getting this post to me. Thankfully they downed a couple cups of coffee this morning and pounded it out to make sure it got posted today. So here are some reasons the Clifford kiddos love their daddy.

"We can't remember when Daddy wasn't ever here. Seems like he was watching over us from the beginning ...

He always seems to find the humor in everything.

He's a great cook ...

... and builds us some really cool things.

He's teaching us how to dress ...

... and drives a pretty mean sled.

Did we mention he's really smart?

But mostly we love him because he takes the time to love us ...

... and show us that the possibilities for our lives are endless."

We love you Daddy!

Peanut, Sam Sam, Bear, and Booger Butt

Picture of the Week - June 20

I wanted to try and start a tradition of capturing and posting a "picture of the week" on this blog.  I want this picture to simply be a moment or emotion that I want to remember from the week. Something that made me or someone in my family feel something significant, a facial expression I don't want to forget, or an image I want to remember forever. The images don't necessarily have to be monumental, they just have to elicit emotions and memories that I don't want to forget.

Simple summertime activities often make for the sweetest memories ...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Water World

It has been extremely HOT here in NC lately. I thought we were escaping this type of heat when we moved from Florida, but I guess not. I wasn't naive enough to think it wouldn't get a little toasty up here, but several consecutive days in the 90s have wilted my once hopeful dreams of a summer spent in the low to mid-80s while sitting in the sun (and not sweating ... well, at least not much).

So, what do you do with 4 kids when they turn red as beets after 10 minutes spent playing outside? Bring out the waterworks, of course. We don't have a pool, but apparently a hose, buckets, measuring cups, and paint brushes also provide hours of endless fun for my kids. They literally had a blast for over an hour just filling, refilling, and "painting" with water. The best part was that I got to watch them wear themselves out while I sat in the "cool" 85 degree shade.

See? I was serious when I said it was just a bucket and some cups. Total bliss. I tried to break out the sprinkler, but this was all the action it got.

The triplets' preference was to just keep doing this ...

And this (which is why I had to refill the tub every 10 minutes or so) ...

What a great way to beat the heat! At the end of it all I had four tired, hungry kids who did not want to come back inside. So bring on the heat, summer. We'll just beat you into submission with a garden hose until you back those temps down into the 80s again!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Picture of the Week - June 13

I wanted to try and start a tradition of capturing and posting a "picture of the week" on this blog. One of the reasons I blog is to keep family and friends updated on our family since we can't see them as often as we'd like. More importantly, I blog in order to remember the day to day events of my children's lives.  I've never been that good at baby books and such, so I intended to use the blog as a way for me to capture the pictures and events of my family's every day lives. Having four children so close together in age, my fear was that I would get caught up in all the hustle and bustle of our daily busy-ness and, before I knew it, my kids would be grown and gone and I wouldn't have much physical evidence (pictures, stories, etc.) to look back on. That's one reason I am going to try (remind me if I forget) to post an image every week that I deem the picture of the week. I want this picture to simply be a moment or emotion that I want to remember from the week. Something that made me or someone in my family feel something significant, a facial expression I don't want to forget, or an image I want to remember forever. The images don't necessarily have to be monumental, they just have to elicit emotions and memories that I don't want to forget.

So, with that rather lengthy explanation, here is my first picture of the week. Matt brought home the van from his work one afternoon this past week and the kids absolutely loved playing in it for a while. Who knew a 15 passenger van could be so much fun? If we had another kid or two, we might actually have to get a van like this as our every day vehicle (don't worry, four is a very good number for us)!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

TV Land

Summer has started to settle in at our house and it's made for some lazy days devoid of structure. We are having lots of fun though and we're enjoying everything that comes along with summer. The kids are missing school (they don't really get the "summer vacation" concept), but I try and keep them distracted from that by trips to the Y and the occasional craft thrown in (you know, just to keep that preschool feel - What's a day at preschool without a craft?).

Speaking of summer, I am going through serious withdrawal with the lack of regular TV programming out there. We're not TV-aholics, but we like to watch some shows (all on DVR - I don't think I've watched a commercial in months). We were pretty devastated when the last episode of Lost aired a while ago, and the realization that Glee is over as well is enough to make me want to crawl into bed and read the entire Twilight series again just for the entertainment value. Add into the mix that The Office and 30 Rock are gone and you have just majorly stunted all of my TV options for the next 3 months.

So I've had to start searching for some shows to fill the gaps. These are all shows that I have liked before, they just don't get watched as often when regular TV programming is on. Now they've become the headlining shows in my summer repertoire of TV.

Wonder Pets
C'mon, you knew at least ONE kid show had to be on the list. That's all I watch before 8pm every day anyway. Wonder Pets is the hands down winner in the kid category for oh so many reasons. The episodes are only 10 minutes long! Well, there are 2 episodes per show, but my kids don't know that. I just have a quick trigger finger with the remote and am sure to turn the TV off right as the first episode is ending and before the next one starts! Cruel, I know. Also, there is definitely a lot of adult humor thrown into the show, something I appreciate. If I have to watch a show about a guinea pig, turtle, and duck saving other animals, I'd better get some friggin' comedy relief. And finally, I just love Ming-Ming, she kills me (If you watch this show, you know what I'm talking about).

Dateline / 48 Hours Mystery
I constantly have to fight for my right to watch these two programs. I love these kind of shows, especially the 2 hour long ones on murder mysteries and such. My husband mercilessly makes fun of me for watching them and I always see him rolling his eyes when I turn them on. It didn't help that I recently read an article that documented the target audience for these shows was people in their 50's and 60's. Oh well, I'm just preparing him for what our TV lives will look like in 20-30 years.

I Shouldn't Be Alive
Ok, this is a great show. I've seen it air on Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, and places like that. It's also not a regularly scheduled show, it just kind of pops up here and there every once and a while. It's basically a reenactment of a true life near death story. I tend to like all those doom and gloom we're-never-gonna-get-out-of-here type shows (case in point: Lost), so this one fits me to a tee. I really like that it's based on true life accounts ... makes me feel empowered or something.

Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives
Love, love, love this show (and most everything on the Food Network, for that matter). I currently have a list going of all the cool restaurants I've seen on this show that we want to try out. I'm thinking we should do a road trip across the country focused solely on seeking out all the great restaurants Guy finds on this show. Sure I would gain 20 or 30 pounds just eating and sitting in a car all day, but it would be worth it!

House Hunters
I think I like this show because I've never bought a house of my own. The process of buying a house fascinates me because I haven't had to do it yet. It's kind of like when you watch all those baby/birth shows before you have kids and then never think about them again once you've been through the process yourself. It's amazing to see what your money can (and can't) buy in different parts of the country. I'm just hoping we don't live in California when we have to buy our first house because we would be squeezing all 6 of us and a dog into a 2 bedroom condo for sure!

Oh TV gods, please make this summer go quickly so I can have my normal doses of comedy, mocumentaries, drama, and musicals back in my life soon! My hope is that my new line-up will tide me over for the next few months, but don't be surprised if you catch me on the computer watching the season finales of my favorite shows 7 or 8 times until September rolls around again. Please be kind and bless me with a couple of good TNT movies (that will air back to back to back) or a surprising new show to pass the time. For now, I'll just watch the Wonder Pets save the baby dolphin and try to be as optimistic as possible when it comes to the big flat box that hangs above our mantle.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Mountain Living

We spent the better part of last week in the NC mountains and boy was it a much needed break! We drove up during the kids' nap time, so they got to sleep and we got some quiet time in the car. Once we hit the mountains, they were awake and excited to get there. I was a bit worried because I've never fared well on those winding mountain roads. Car/motion sickness has plagued me much of my life and I was not looking forward to the end of the drive. Luckily (for me), my stomach handled it fine. But good ole motion sickness decided to claim another of the Clifford clan instead. Sam started crying once we started climbing and we thought it was just his ears popping with the elevation change. Well, a little while later we learned the real culprit when he deposited his lunch in his lap about 2 miles from our destination. Poor guy ... at least he felt better after that! Fortunately (or unfortunately, I guess), we have become experts at cleaning gross things out of car seats and we had everything cleaned up quickly so the fun could begin!

The highlight of the week was getting to spend so much time with family. We get to see everyone a good amount, but it was nice to get us ALL together in one place. The outside deck was everyone's favorite place to hang out.

I think the kids' favorite time of the day was in the morning when they just got to run around in their PJs and have fun. They made daily calls (or screams) over to Bogey's house next door to make sure he was up as early as we were.

We spent most of our time at the house and made a few trips out. The kids went on their first mini "hike" (who am I kidding, it was like 1/10th of a mile) to see a waterfall. They loved it and we would have hung out longer (and taken some pictures) if the skies hadn't opened up on us. We ventured into town one day and had to visit the cute little toy store there. Luke tried out some hats.

We were also told to feed the ducks while we were in town, so we took our lunch leftovers and headed towards this much fabled duck pond. Apparently someone forgot to tell us that this quaint little place was overseen by crazed psycho stalker ducks. I guess they have regular feeders come by every day so they are not scared of people and literally accost you when you walk up. Matt finally resorted fending them off with our folded up umbrella stroller so they wouldn't attack us! Luckily, the kiddos weren't fazed and kept trying to feed them. I just hope they don't have future nightmares of being hunted down by killer ducks.

We also went gem mining, something the kids really enjoyed. I remember doing this as a child and we would get so excited when we found some "gold" in our pans. Well, things have changed now-a-days because you now pan with sand stocked with gems all ready to go. Seriously, you are guaranteed to find things because they plant them in the sand. When I used to do it (I sound so old), you may find something or you may not. Now, they have to make sure everyone finds a gem and everyone gets the same amount. If you can't tell, I am not a fan of this. Pretty soon we're going to have no winners or losers in sports, no keeping score, etc - Don't get me on my soapbox about this. We'll just move on to avoid any more ramblings ...

The kids really did enjoy finding their gems and they still tote them around daily and examine them every chance they get.

All in all, what a great time we had. We loved hanging out with our cousins and getting a week off to do nothing at all! Summer has officially begun, school is out, and we're ready to start swimming, eat popsicles, and make some more visits to family!

Friday, June 4, 2010

For Now

We're back from our much needed mountain escapade and we had a blast. It was so much fun and we had so many new experiences with the kids. I'll give a more detailed update later on, but for now I wanted to share our little guy's newest milestone ... walking! Yes, the youngest member of the PALS is now walking around a lot these days (though he still would prefer to crawl, I think). I'm pushing his new found skill because I don't know how much longer I can lug around his 25 roly poly pounds on a daily basis! Enjoy the video evidence and I promise to have more updates and pictures soon!