Monday, December 29, 2008

"Wow, FOUR girls?"

I just got back from Costco with the girls and have figured out how I'm going to pay for four weddings. I 'm going to tell every stranger who says "Wow, FOUR girls! Start saving for those weddings!" to fork over a nickle. In twenty years I'll have more than enough to pay for four princess dream weddings.

Any suggestions with witty responses? Please post in the Comments! I know everyone means well, but it's getting old. I also need a reply for "your poor husband". That one really gets to me especially when the girls are standing right there. Rick LOVES having four girls and I'm sick of telling everyone how much their dad loves his girls and how blessed we are to have these four unique beautiful children.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


We had a lot of fun at Disneyland on our trip to California before Christmas. Rick and I took Sophia and Ella while Ceci and Katie stayed with their grandparents in Temecula.

We saw lots of characters including all the "major" princesses.

We waited thirty minutes to see Tinkerbell and I was expecting her to be a perking twenty-something aspiring Disney actress but instead we got a slightly older looking frumpy fairy. Sophia tried to open the door to her "house", but was dismayed to find out it was just a fake door.

Rick had his heart set on staying to watch the Christmas Parade which started at 7pm. After spending the entire day walking around the park the girls were on the verge of a meltdown and we snuck inside the line where there was an opening next to a mostly empty blanket. Turns out that family was shopping while the dad was saving the spot and when the mom returned she was VERY unhappy that her husband had let us sneak in and Sophia and Ella had no qualms about spreading out although they had zero interest in the parade that Rick was INSISTING we all ENJOY. We just pretended to be clueless and not notice the friction we had caused in their family vacation. Rick has romantic memories of watching nighttime parades at Disney but our girls were tired and hungry...actually so was mom. We sat there for 30 mintues until the parade reached us and everyone decided it was lame and bailed.

I got a bit ugly with the facepainters earlier in the day and made one of those scenes that embarrassed the girls as well as Rick. There was a new facepainter who was obviously on her first day and I think Ella was her first actual face to paint. We asked for a simple flower which ended up looking like Ella had done it herself without a mirror. Lots of black smudges and to say it was messy is an understatement. The master facepainter acted like she didn't quite understand why I was unhappy with the $15 black mess her apprentice had spent 1o long, painful minutes painting on Ella's cheek. So....she offered to redo it herself, but when they tried to wash off the black it wouldn't come off and was just a big black smudge on Ella's cheek so they made a "pink background" and a bunch of butterflies. Sophia of course wanted the same.

A couple more highlights:

Character dinner after the parade. I was happy for a big glass of wine while the girls couldn't believe it was the real Minnie Mouse.

Monday, December 22, 2008

U Club Party

Each Christmas we go to the family party at the University Club to, among other Christmas-y activities, see Santa. Sophia was studying pictures of Santas past that I bring out at Christmas and she pointed out which Santas were "fake" and which were "real".

"I can tell by the beard. The big curly beard is DEFINITELY fake. The real beard must be the real Santa".

So I explained to her that Santa has helpers who do know him and report back what the children ask for. She seemed to be ok with that. She told me that if it was not a real Santa she would still act like he was real and not let on that she knew he wasn't the real deal.

The Santa this year was "real" fortunately.

Last year Rick and I had to jump in the shot at the last minute when Ella started melting down:

They had a menagerie of animals that Katie and Ceci were obsessed with. They saw the sheep and started yelling "BAA! BAA!" I think the animals were all a bit frightened but the girls were not intimidated in the least. Katie even tried scaling the fence to get inside and play with her animal friends.
Here they are "petting" the monkey. It was more like "squeezing" they were so excited. I kept having to say "gentle...gentle":
And a little too close for comfort with a turkey:
There was a cookie decorating station where I realized Katie was taking scoops of sprinkles and putting the spoon in her mouth and eating them straight:

And what would a Christmas party be without face painting? Ella got a Christmas tree and Sophia went with the popular Christmas unicorn:

Friday, December 19, 2008

the Next Chapter

It has been an eventful two weeks. The whole family went to California and had a great time in the mostly warm weather playing with cousins and visiting Disneyland and Legoland. The flights were actually manageable which is always the wildcard with four under 6yrs old.

The night we returned I got a call from my boss giving me a heads-up that I would be part of yet another wave of layoffs the next morning. Now I am all of a sudden a stay-at-home mom to my girls and after next week will not have the help of our wonderful nanny or house cleaner.

The blog will become more interesting I am sure. My dear friend who also happens to be a successful financial business owner and mom to twins, Shauna, called to tell me she has a Plan B for me. I was anxiously listening to the job opportunity she was going to hit me with when she said she was laughing to herself at the thought of me home with my girls all day long and thought I should have a reality show about an Investment Banking Director turned stay-at-home mom. Not so helpful Shauna.

I'm looking forward to the ups and downs of being at home and actually enjoying Christmas this year since I don't have to work on the 24th and 26th. I don't miss the 4:30am alarm or walk in the dark and cold to the train. For now I'm going to enjoy this time with my girls and try to stop dust and dirt from taking over our house.

I've got loads of pictures from California and stories to share...when I have a minute.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Christmas Show

Last night was Ella's preschool Christmas Extravaganza. She did a great job and all the kids looked adorable in their Christmas best. She loved being on stage and waving to us. Rick is out of town so my mom thankfully came to help me. The twins were bouncing around the gym before and after the program and I don't think I could have physically done it alone. They were like the wrong sides of two magnets repelling each other. They kept running in opposite directions and each got knocked to the floor multiple times by slightly older kids also sprinting around the gym. They kept grabbing cookies and pretzels from the treat table. My mom said that at one point Katie ran into the hallway where there is a large tree and she one by one lifted up baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph and examined each of their faces then replaced them in the creche. Sophia had fun being one of the big kids and hanging out with her Kindergarten friends.

Once the program began Katie and Ceci pushed their way up front and stood watching intently the whole performance. They were jumping up and down for Ella. I think they thought they were at a rock concert and their sister was the star.

Watching Ella up on stage I had a flashback to Sophia's first Christmas show in 2006. I don't remember much from that holiday season when I had newborn twins, an 18 month old and a 3 year old. Memories mostly return in flashbacks as if I spent 3 months on LSD and just get flashes of things that I think happened but am not altogether sure they actually did.

I do have photographic evidence of Sophia's show though to document one of those times when I felt like I was failing miserably as a mom. She came home from school the day of their show and told me they were supposed to wear their Halloween costumes that evening. I assured her that was not the case but she was pretty insistent that Ms Jones had told them to wear their costumes. I completely ignored her pleadings and put her in what I thought was a very cute pink sweater, brown corduroy skirt and knee high brown boots. As we walked into the gym and I saw one little girl after another in their Christmas dresses and patent leather maryjanes I realized that Sophia had been told to "dress up" which to her meant in costume. So...I sat there watching her in her Fall outfit in a sea of red dresses and felt terrible. Why didn't I stop for a minute and consider that she was trying to send me a message that they were to wear something special? All the blood intended for brain activity had been used by my milk ducts and I could not believe it hadn't occurred to me to put her in that beautiful red smocked Christmas dress hanging in her closet. I am sure that there were also multiple sheets sent home reminding responsible parents to, of course, dress their children in their CHRISTMAS outfits for the CHRISTMAS show. Sophia didn't notice or care. It was just her sleep deprived, unshowered crazy mama tearing up in the audience at her own ineptitude.

Here's one of Ceci and Katie I came across from the same week. Just posting because it seems like a hundred years ago that they were this little. The baby days with them are a total blur.

Monday, December 1, 2008

So Much to be Thankful for

We had a lovely Thanksgiving at my parents. Now that we don't have to worry about Katie and Ceci falling down the stairs or eating a limoges fruit basket, holidays have become more enjoyable for me and Rick. The downside is that they roam pretty much unsupervised when they declare themselves "alllllll done" and we are just starting our meals. Every time we come for dinner we leave their beautiful apartment in shambles.

Aunt Bobby knit adorable reindeer hats with jingle bells that the little kids did not want to take off.

We were happy to have the whole family there and get to play with cousin Henry again.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ceci and Katie turn two!

We had quite a party for Ceci and Katie Saturday night. They had more fun than anyone. They are so used to playing the parts of back up dancers, school pupils, basically anything but the stars and they basked in the birthday girl glow at their party. They also learned a new word: "pwesent!"

Here is Ella holding court with Luke and Sean. She was so excited to see Lukie that she gave him a very aggressive hug which resulted in a headbutt and bloody nose for Luke. He's learning young that love hurts. His mom brought pjs for the drive home and he had to change because of the blood on his shirt. Ella went right upstairs and put hers on in sympathy. It was pretty sweet seeing them running around in their pjs all evening.

Rick was the pinata police. He spent 15 minutes laying out the rules for how and when to pull the string in addition to the penalties that would be assessed if anyone prematurely pulled their string or grabbed someone else's string. He told them that any rule infraction would mean they would have to wait a minute before grabbing goodies which is the same as saying all they'll get are a couple of those woven things left on the floor that you get your fingers stuck in when you try to pull them out. I think Hans got the whole speech on video and if I figure out how to do it will post a youtube clip. Here he is posing with his beloved Dora carefully holding the ribbons out of reach of the kids.

The crowd is patiently listening to Rick's speech. You can see Elizabeth in the background cracking up as he outlines the ribbon pinata rules of play.

Katie and Ceci are used to getting trampled around pinatas and had a blast being princesses for a day and getting to be front and center for all the festivites. Watching them laughing and smiling all night reminded me that we need to make sure everyone gets to be princess for a day more often.

Friday, November 21, 2008

the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Before I had children I hated that retailers started the Christmas decorations and marketing so early. It just didn't seem right to hear Christmas carols before Thanksgiving. It was a reminder that I hadn't begun my shopping. I now welcome this time of year.

I can employ the best discipline tool ever given to parents. Santa! Just the whisper to Sophia and Ella that Santa is watching totally transforms their behavior.

Sophia strolled into the kitchen last night with gum smeared all over her pants and explained that she didn't know how this happened and she DEFINITELY didn't take it out of her mouth.

Sophia: It just slipped out of my mouth while I was talking.

(this was laughable since she had chewed up gum smeared all over the legs of her pants. I still can't imagine how this happened)

Rick: Who were you talking to in the bathroom all by yourself?

S: Ummmm...just myself.

R: About what?

S: Lots of different stuff.

Me: Do you know who is watching all the time who knows when you fib?

S: God?

Me: and....SANTA!

S: OK, yes I took it out of my mouth. I'm really sorry!

Unfortunately God does not instill the same sense of regret as the potential tragedy of being looked over by Santa. I remember a couple years ago talking about where Santa lives with Sophia and she all of a sudden perked up and said: "I know where Santa lives! At the North Pole...with Jesus!"

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Indoor fun

Now that the weather has turned colder we have moved into the time of year, that Rick will tell you lasts 10 months, when we spend more time playing indoors. It's great to watch everyone having fun together with Sophia as the social coordinator. Katie and Ceci are now becoming part of the action with their sisters and are able to participate more in the games of school (with Sophia as teacher) and High School Musical or Hannah Montana as they are growing up.

Our family room mantel transforms from Polly Pocketville into a stage in the evenings. Here is Sophia with her back up dancers Katie and Ceci singing a selection from High School Musical. Ella looks like she's playing the part of a crew member. Sophia probably instructed her to clear out the books so the talent doesn't slip.

Here is Sophia giving Katie a horsey ride. Ella kept trying with Ceci, but had less success.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sweet Katie

Katie is a very sensitive little girl.

It's fascinating to watch the emotional roller coaster she's on while watching tv. She has this pained look on her face watching Dora and Boots run away from grumpy trolls and yells "Oh No Dora!" multiple times during a half hour show. When Swiper Fox jumps out from behind a bush she gets very upset and says "OH NO! OH NO! OH NO!". When Mickey Mouse falls off a building or gets hit by Goofy's jalopy she is visibly upset "Oh No Mickey!!!" It really is exhausting to watch. After a 30 min cartoon she looks like I felt walking out of Schindler's List. She hasn't figured out yet that in the end Dora and Boots accomplish exactly three tasks safely and make it to the gumdrop mountain unscathed. I guess it does make sense for her to be concerned for the safety of a five year old girl roaming the jungle with only her pet monkey and no adult supervision in sight.
I took this of the girls watching tv Saturday morning in their pjs (don't ask why Ella is wearing a bow because I have no clue. She probably slept in it. I swear I don't stick bows in her hair when she comes down for breakfast). Ella and Sophia have the standard blank stare telling the world that they are watching tv and their brains have totally powered down. Katie has that little furrowed brow and clenched fist waiting for something terrible to happen to one of her tv friends.
She is also the first one to comfort her sisters if they are crying. Ella will burst into tears at whatever horrible thing I have done to ruin her life at that moment like given her the wrong color cup or cut her sandwich in half and while Rick and I completely ignore outburst number 1,452 for the day Katie will say "Oh no Ella!" and run over with a stuffed animal or a hug for her.

Katie is our little nurturer.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Halloweens Past

Since I just started blogging this year I thought I'd add pictures from Halloweens past. It's fun to see some of the costumes recycled.


Sophia 9 months old


Trick-or-Treating on Southport while we still lived in Chicago. Sophia was adorable. She got the hang of it pretty quickly and ran from store to store yelling "twick or tweat!"


I remember taking this picture and Sophia refused to let me hold her Skittles. She agreed to hold them to the side, but would not let them out of her grip. I don't think she was clear on the concept that there was A LOT more candy to come.

You can see Rick making goofy faces reflected in the window. Since he saw these pictures he refuses to try to get the girls to smile when they are sitting on our front steps where most of our photo ops happen.


This was the best shot I got of all four girls. Katie and Ceci had zero interest in sitting still for a picture. Sophia and Ella were determined to get them to sit and smile because I told them no trick-or-treating until I got a picutre that I never got.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Progress Report

We got Ella's report card for preschool yesterday.

She got mostly 2's which means making progress. They never get 3's until the end of the year. I guess that's to show how much progress they made during the year learning how to line up squares and count to twenty. It's pages of academic and practical skills and characterisitics. She did get a couple of 3's though:

Hand washing (When she was two I remember telling Rick I was worried there were some OCD issues since she LOVED washing her hands. So glad all that practice paid off)

Snack table

Singing with Sister Henrica

That's my girl!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Master Negotiator

The great candy negotiations began Saturday and have been ongoing ever since. I think Sophia could wear down the UN with her torturous jockeying for more candy. She never lets up. I'm convinced she lies in bed at night coming up with strategies to get more. She has really stepped up her game from last year and I think we may offer her services to the Israel/Palestine conflict. This 5yr old could get that mess solved. They wouldn't know what hit them.

me: After dinner you may have one piece of candy.

S: ok, how much EXACTLY do I have to eat to get candy?

me: three big bites of chicken and all your broccoli.

S: (with a very full mouth) Done. How many pieces?

me: one

S: How about five?

me: one

S: I just LOVE these TWO. I can't choose. PLEASE may I have just two pieces?

me: one

S: What about two very small Jolly Ranchers? they are TINY.

me: ok, that sounds reasonable.

S: But I really don't like Jolly Ranchers. SO how about one small Jolly Rancher and one very small candy bar.

me: no

S: But these are mini candy bars. Not as big as the other ones I was going to have.

me: OK. ONE small candy bar and ONE Jolly rancher.

S: But two Jolly Ranchers make up one small candy bar so how about two Jolly Ranchers and one mini candy bar.

(Ella has already finished her ONE mini 3 Muskateers bar and is watching amazed at Sophia's progress)

me: Fine, but that's it!

Ella: Why does Sophia get THREE!

me: ok, you may have one more since yours was a medium sized candy bar.

Sophia: so do I get one more small one since Ella gets two BIG ones? that's not fair! I should get 4 mini candies to Ella's 2 medium ones.

By this time I have pretty much given up. She has totally worn me down. And she knows it.

Monday, November 3, 2008


This was a BIG evening in our house. Sophia and Ella had been counting down the days. Katie and Ceci were just excited to get to finally wear their costumes. They were clueless about the amount of candy that was about to be showered on them.

We had a snow princess, batgirl, Elmo and Cookie Monster.
Sophia saw the costume in a catalogue and HAD to have it. The week before Halloween had been quite chilly so in preparation I had told Sophia that I was pretty sure snow princesses wore Ugg boots since it's so cold and snowy where they reign. She went for it however this deception backfired on me when it was almost 70 degrees at trick-or-treat time and she held firm that to be an accurate snow princess she HAD to wear snow boots. You can see them peeking out of the bottom of her dress:

Ella must have seen a batgirl costume in a catalogue and had her heart set on it. She never wavered so in a sea of princesses we had batgirl. She was running around saying "da na na na na na na na...BATGIRL!"
When I saw her buddy Sean was batman it made a little more sense to me why she was determined to be a superhero.Katie and Ceci were the ones I could still pick costumes for. As I remembered Halloween as a child being forced by my mom, who I was sure was trying to ruin my Halloween, to wear a coat over my costume I thought head-to-toe fleece would be a great idea. Unfortunately, I'm sure they were sweltering, but their astonishment at going door to door for candy took over and they didn't seem to mind. After each house they would look at whoever the nearest adult was hold up their candy and say "OPEN!" They wanted to stop and eat each piece of candy as it came in.

They loved their costumes. They kept looking at each other and cracking up saying "Cookie! Elmo!" and hugging. It was really sweet.