Thursday, September 29, 2011

Swim Like A Fish

The kids have been taking swim lessons for the past 4 weeks. Actually, they're not lessons so much as survival skills for the water. We're taking them through Infant Swimming Resource (ISR), a great program I was familiar with from living in Florida for so many years growing up.

The main point of ISR is to lessen the amount of child drownings by teaching children as young as 6 months how to survive if they find themselves in the water alone. The lessons teach children over one year of age how to hold their breath under water, swim with their heads down, roll onto their backs to float, rest and breathe, and to roll back over to resume swimming until they can reach the side of the pool. They initially take the lessons in their bathing suits, but once they have mastered the skills they have them wear their clothes to swim so that they can practice swimming while clothed. This simulates a more "real life" experience of falling into a pool while unattended by an adult.

I won't lie, the program is hard core. Your child attends a lesson 10 minutes a day, 5 days a week, for an average of about 6 weeks. The high frequency of lessons helps the child build upon their skills every day, which aids in his retention of skills.

It has been amazing to watch this program first-hand with my kids. They are all progressing at different rates, which is really exciting to see. There were definitely some tears the first week, but now they all enjoy the lessons and are like little sponges as they absorb all the teaching. They are SO proud of themselves as they acquire and master the new skills. And their instructor is AMAZING. She is so patient with them and has helped them all progress in the water.

Peyton will be our first ISR graduate as of tomorrow! She has mastered all the survival skills and this week she swam with her clothes on (which she found to be quite hilarious) to make sure she could perform in a real life scenario. I'm including a video of her swimming to show what she's learned. The others aren't far behind her and I feel so great that they will all have these great skills once spring and summer roll around again. The nice thing about swimming is that it's like riding a bike, you don't forget how to do it! We'll probably do some refresher lessons in the spring, but they should retain all their skills and be ready to swim once the weather turns warm again!

Please check out ISR if you are looking for swim lessons for your young children. The program is awesome and I feel so confident about their abilities at this point. I was a nervous wreck with four little ones at the pool this past summer, so next year should be easy by comparison!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Kid vs. Concrete

In the epic battle of Kid vs. Concrete ....

Concrete wins!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Never Leave Your Camera

... in a room with four unattended children.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Picture of the Week - September 25

So the kids are thinking of starting up their own business ...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"Organized" Sports

Please note the quotation marks in the title. I use the term "organized" very loosely because we are talking about 3 and 4 year olds and even those without children know that nothing in their lives is organized or planned.

I decided to sign the triplets up for soccer this fall. I actually thought long and hard about doing this. I'm really trying to be cognizant of not pushing them into things (sports, music, etc.) too early. So many people do that nowadays and I feel like kids just rarely have a chance to just play and be kids. I feel like forcing them into extracurriculars too early could really do more harm than good with things like early burnout and turning them off from something they would have loved if we had just waited until the appropriate time to introduce it. Plus, we've got four kids ... which means cha-ching when it comes to financing all these activities.

So I know what you're thinking ... Ummmm, but you DID sign them up for a sport despite all your soap boxing above. Yes, yes, you're right. But hear me out. I chose to do this program because 1) the kids wanted to do it, 2) it only requires a commitment of one hour a week, and 3) it's really just a learning program as opposed to any type of organized team activity. The kids all have a ball the entire practice and they rotate around to stations and play soccer "games" like tag and red light, green light. The point is to get the child comfortable with the ball and the sport. There are no actual games of one team versus another. So we don't have to deal with any winning or losing discussions / meltdowns / cry fests. Don't get me wrong, I have NO problem with teaching winning and losing. It is an important lessons that my kids will all learn when they are the appropriate age. Age three is NOT that age. They can barely control their displeasure when I tell them they can't have a second cookie, so I don't think they'd comprehend, much less internalize, the whole winning / losing thing.

So, we're on week three of soccer and so far it's going great. They have really improved at things like listening to the coach and not coming over to me for a water break every two minutes (it's the little things, right?). I think they're getting the hang of the sport a bit, but who's to say? All I know is that Sam only kick-whiffed his soccer ball four times this week instead of nine times ... I'd call that improvement!

And now for the photo evidence ...

Listening to Coach


The "whiff" in action


The not-quite-old-enough spectator

As with most things, I have no idea what is happening here.

We've had a good experience so far, which I hope continues. We'll have to see how that first cold weather practice goes to see how gung-ho they really are. For now, it's been just what I was looking for as the kids seem to be learning a little bit while also having fun.

In the end, I'm just glad none of my children were this kid ...

I'm sure he's a sweetie, but I'm thinking soccer may not be holding his interest at this stage!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Almost Home

The computer, that is. Not me. I'm still here. The computer is on the mend and should be up and running soon. And I didn't even have to start daily plasma donations to foot the bill. In honor of the return of the computer in the near future, I thought I'd post some links to a few of my favorite posts from the last few years. If you've read then before, I hope you enjoy them again. Here are the links ...

The "B" Word

Our Story

Diary of a Crazy Afternoon

Barring any other computer-related episodes, I'll be back later this week with gobs of pictures and maybe even a video. I've gotten some requests to resurrect Matt's Question of the Week, so I'll see if I can bribe him with desserts convince him to start that up again. Maybe a question of the month would be a good compromise??

I'll leave you with another old and totally irrelevant picture. But who doesn't love a cute kid, right?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Picture of the Week - September 18

I have a strange feeling that the boys could be taking this very same picture in about 16 or 17 years at a football game at their own alma mater. Something also tells me that, by that point, it won't be juice that Luke will be double fisting in those cups ...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Sam, like lots of kids, is afraid of thunder storms. Actually, he's the only one of the four that's scared by the thunder. That surprises me because I was sure I'd get more than one that was scared. He's come a long way though. He used to not be able to stay in his room alone during a nighttime storm. He's gradually gotten more brave and can now make it through most storms without needing us to stay in the room.

Recently, we had a really bad summer storm with lots of lightning and thunder. I knew that it was just a matter of time until Sam woke up to the crashes of thunder. After one particularly loud boom, I could hear him whimpering in his room. I went to check on him and we had the following conversation.

Me: "Hey buddy, are you ok?"

Sam: "Mom, I heard lots of thunder!"

Me: "I know, there's a storm outside. But you know it can't hurt you, right? The thunder is outside and you are safe inside. The thunder can't hurt you in here. It's just loud but it's not scary."

Sam: "But Mom, it's REALLY loud!"

Me: "I know bud. But remember what we talked about? It's just God playing His drums up in heaven. God is just playing some music for you."

Sam: "Well, I think that God needs to play his music a little softer so I can go to sleep!"

Monday, September 12, 2011

Crash and Burn

Our computer decided to take a swam dive into the shallow end last week and it has still not recovered. My tech-savvy husband has been thwarted on all of his reconnaissance missions thus far, so it looks like a trip to the Apple Store for some TLC is in our future. I just hope we don't go in there thinking it's just a repair and walk out with a brand new computer and much lighter wallets. Only time and the computer gods will tell ...

I have to admit that it's been kinda nice not having a computer in the house. I have a lot more time to read and do some of those pesky chores that always seem to wait until the evening to get done. I guess you never know how much you use something until it's gone. Plus, the iPhone gets me by!

We spent this past weekend in Chicago celebrating a good friend's wedding. We did NOT take the kiddos. Though they would have loved the plane ride, I don't think they would have been happy with all the walking we did. I love going on vacations in big, walkable cities. Besides reminding me of the year that I lived in Boston, walking the city totally negates all the calories ingested from all the great food to be found. Want a cupcake?? No problem! Just walk the 2 mile round trip to the cupcake store and you have EARNED that sugar, baby! Calories in, calories out. And I don't even feel like I'm exercising! If anyone can figure out how to make this phenomenon happen with my daily treadmill runs I will be happy to get you a whole box of cupcakes as a thank you.

Hopefully the computer will be back on his (her?) feet soon. New pictures will be hard to come by until then, so you'll have to survive on my charming wit and ability to confiscate my husband's laptop when he's home from work. Fall (and all the activities that come along with it) is in full swing around here, so there should be lots to talk about over the next few weeks. And please, if you're not too busy, say a prayer to the iGods for us ... we need it!

(And just because I feel obligated to put a picture at the end, here's one from this past February that has absolutely nothing to do with this post).


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

And They're Off

Obligatory first day of school pictures for your viewing pleasure ...

I've pretty much given up on getting pictures with everyone looking AND looking happy. In fact, I often make them yell funny words to get them to look at the camera and possibly smile. All that does is get me pictures like this ...

But hey, at least we can see everyone's eyes.

The individual pictures always work out so much better. Here are my big 3 year olds on their first day of school.

And here's the littlest man on his first day of school EVER.

He gave me a hug at the door of his classroom this morning as I dropped him off and I thought we'd both avoided any tears. But right after he ran into the room he turned around and ran back to me so he could plant a big old kiss on my lips. So sweet ... so the tears started (for me at least).

They all had an awesome first day and everyone wants to go back on Friday. In my book, that means it was a success!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Rain Check for Labor Day

Labor Day was pretty rainy for us as I guess it was for a lot of the southeast. So we didn't get a day of fun in the sun as our last summer hurrah. Fortunately, it stays warm for a while around here, so we still have time to enjoy the outside before it gets cold. I'm just excited that it's September because that means FALL is on its way. I've already started counting the days until the first leaves start to change so I can break out the jeans and jackets.

Even though Monday was dreary, we did get a little outside time in over the weekend. The hose and water tables got plenty of use on what will probably be one of their last days until next spring.

Pushing water out of a water gun is a difficult job.

We did manage to find some time to grill before the rain hit, so I was satisfied that we had fulfilled all the Labor Day prerequisites after that.

Matt makes the best baby back ribs on the planet. And his smoked Boston butt is out of this world (I don't know what it is with me and the galactic references today). Us Cliffords like our pigs!!

Because Monday was rainy, we spent a lot of time indoors. And what better way to make use of our time than a little slave labor cooking fun! Cupcakes were on the menu and everyone had fun making them. These cupcakes were different because they had icing inside the cupcake rather than on top. Brilliant idea because it was a) inventive and b) less messy to eat. A mom must have made up this recipe.

Please note Matt's make-shift aprons. Leftover work t-shirts with matching binder clips for the overly large neck holes make quite the fashion statement. I'm waiting for the call from Vera Wang.

Mom, why is this taking SO long?? (He tried to eat one of the cupcakes BEFORE we put it in the oven. We're working on patience.)

Putting the icing inside the cupcakes before they go in the oven.

Sorry I don't have a finished picture because we ate them ALL (kidding, kidding). We love our sweets, but we managed to save a few for later. I just forgot to take a picture. They basically looked like chocolate muffins but with a little surprise inside when you bit into them!

Hope everyone enjoyed the long weekend while celebrating the end of summer. And if you would like any rib, Boston butt, or inside-out cupcakes recipes, let me know!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Picture of the Week - September 4

Who says sleds aren't year round toys???

Friday, September 2, 2011

I Think I'm Gonna Like It

On Wednesday, my kids start preschool for the year.

As in ALL of my kids. All four of them.

They'll be there three days a week making messes, playing on the playground, learning letters and numbers, and making new friends. They're ready to begin, I know they are. They're excited. I know not one of them will shed a single tear when I drop them off on Wednesday morning. They'll run into their respective rooms with their too-big backpacks threatening to tip them over backwards if they lean back just a bit too far. They'll dive into the first set of blocks or crayons that they come into contact with. They'll barely look at me as I shout my "Goodbyes!" and "See you later alligators!"

Yeah, they're ready.

It's me I'm worried about.

I'm afraid I'm going to be the one with tears, the one who doesn't want to go. The one who wants just one more hug. The one who wants to dawdle in the hall for just one more minute before saying goodbye.

It's not like I've never left my kids before. The triplets were in preschool last year, so it's not even the first year for having them in school. But now that Luke is joining them, it means that it's just me and ... ME. Me and nine hours a week of solitude. Don't get me wrong, that sounds (and I'm sure will feel) glorious, but it also marks an end. An end to babyness in our house. An end to anyone in my family relying on me totally, wholeheartedly, and completely every minute of the day. A beginning of independence that I'm not sure I'm ready to embrace.

So I may spend Wednesday morning wondering what to do with the solitude and quiet. What to do with the minutes that are normally spent tying shoes, mediating conflicts, and pouring countless cups of juice. What to do with this newfound freedom of responsibility.

And then I'm planning on taking a nice slow trip to Target and the grocery store where I get to walk down every. freakin'. aisle. just because I can. I'm going to read nutrition labels and look at camping supplies. Not because we need them (I have no desire to camp, believe me), but because I CAN! I'm going to enjoy this time and recharge my batteries so that when those four little pistols come flying into my legs at 12:01pm, they'll have a happy and rested mom who is ready to go.

And then we'll have a dance party in the kitchen when we get home.

Yeah, I think I'm gonna like this year.