Monday, December 8, 2014

How I Lowered Our Dish Bill By More than Half!






We have Dish Network. Like many people, especially large families living on one income, we've been trying to cut expenses wherever we can to trim down our budget as baby expenses continue rising. One of the items we discussed was cutting our cable bill. After several years of being a loyal customer, our bill had crept it's way up and I'll admit I didn't really stay on top of keeping the cost down as much as I should have. If it were up to Adam, we would have cancelled it completely. However, the TV has become my friend during the day. I love my babies so much and wouldn't have it any other way than spending my days with them. But they don't talk back to me and sometimes, I just want to hear other voices. So I pushed back on cancelling all together although I knew we were going to have to find a way to cut back somewhere. 

When I received a Black Friday flyer in the mail from DirectTV and idea hit me. "I wonder if Dish would be willing to negotiate with me in order to keep my business", I asked myself. So, one night, after everyone was in bed, I picked up the flyer and my phone and called in. I told them right away that I was calling to cancel. When the representative asked me why, I told him that I had received a flyer from Dish offering over 150 channels, 3,000 Titles on Demand, free HBO, Showtime & Cinemax for three months, Free Genie upgrades AND $100 prepaid Visa Card all for only $29.99 a month and I'd be silly not to take their offer. Immediately, he told me they didn't want to lose our business. He asked to take a look at our account and see what he could remove to bring down our bill. I told him, no, I didn't want to lose any of my channels. He then assured me that I wouldn't lose anything. 

Slowly, he started whittling my bill down bringing my cost down for $20 and adding the movie channels free for six months. I continued to push back telling him "I really appreciate you trying to compete, but the DirectTV offer is still a lot better". He came back with an additional $20 off with not a lot of pressing. I decided to push harder. He came back with another $10 off. Knowing that I really didn't have anything to lose, I pushed back one more time telling him that I knew he'd given me a lot of savings but it seemed the DirectTV offer was just too good to pass up. This time, he told me there was one more savings he could offer to me but he had to get approval. He asked me to hold while he got his supervisor to approve an additional $20 off for me. Of course, I obliged and patiently waited the few minutes for him to gain approval. He was gone only a brief moment (Did he really need approval? We'll never know.) before coming back on the line to tell me I was all set. I was able to negotiate my way down to matching the DirectTV promotional price for 6 months. The only thing I didn't get was the $100 gift card but honestly, they would probably get that in fees anyways!

The only caveat is that my new price is only good for six months but now that I know this little trick, I've already put it in my calendar when I need to call back and negotiate again. It's definitely worth a short call to save money on our bill!

Don't have Dish? I'd love to save you and me both $50! Here's a code to help both of us save: VCD0012511623.  You can order by calling 855-318-6900 or visit dish.com/refer to order Dish.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Making Formula by the Batch AND Pampered Chef Giveaway







Remember the other day when I posted that my must-have for multiples gadget, the Baby Brezza Formula Pro was officially on the fritz? Well, I'm still making bottles by hand and mixing up formula by the batch so I thought perhaps it was a perfect time to write out instructions for how to make formula by the batch AND I've partnered with my friend and Pampered Chef Consultant, Brelee Hull, to bring you a special giveaway! More details about that later! 

Making formula by the batch is much easier than mixing bottles individually. Right now, we go through about 112 ounces of formula a day. This post tells you how to make 90 ounces of Similac Advance at a time. We currently have one baby who is on a combination of formulas so his bottles are made separately. However, these instructions can easily be modified to fit your formula needs. 

I like to use my Pampered Chef Quick Stir Pitcher when making formula. This pitcher is AWESOME! Before I got my bottle maker, I bought this pitcher after spending an hour a day making and pouring bottles because it mixed the formula so much better and faster than a regular pitcher and a spoon. I can't remember seeing clumps in a bottle since using this pitcher because it mixes so well. With a regular pitcher and spoon, that was not this case! The pitcher works great for all drinks that require mixing - KoolAid, Sweet Tea, Lemonade, you name it. It also works well for mixing hot beverages too!

So let's get started on making that formula:

First off, please remember - once mixed, powdered formula is good for 24 hours when kept in the refrigerator. Don't waste it! Only mix up what you're going to need in the next 24 hours.

Step One - Gather your required materials: Formula, Water, Measuring Cup or Pitcher, and Pampered Chef Easy Stir Pitcher (you could also use a regular pitcher and a spoon for stirring but you'll soon see why I asked Brelee to join me with a special giveaway). 




Step Two - Calculate how much formula you will need. Most formulas require one scoop of formula mixed with two ounces of water. In my case, one can of formula makes 90 ounces of formula. There's 45 scoops of formula in a can. 


Step Three - Dump the formula into the pitcher.



Step Four - Add required amount of water. In this case, 90 ounces. 




Step Five  - Mix. This is easily done with your Pampered Chef Quick Stir Pitcher. The pitcher features a built in stirrer and all you have to do is pump the pitcher until all of the formula is dissolved (about 10-15 pumps). 




Step Six - All done. Pour up your bottles and store in the refrigerator. 



Special tip for an easy way to warm your bottles: use a small crock pot of water kept on low. Just drop your bottles in for a couple of minutes. However, be sure you test the warmth on your wrist before you give to baby so you don't accidently burn baby.




Pampered Chef Quick Stir Pitcher Giveaway



Now - for what you've all been waiting for. It's giveaway time!!!  Brelee Hull and I are teaming up! One lucky Lotsobaby Lane Reader will win a Family Size Quick Stir Pitcher (Valued at $24.50) as pictured in my tutorial This Pampered Chef pitcher features an exclusive plunger tjat mixes juice, powdered drinks and more with a few tugs of the handle. Ingredients that settle to the bottom of the pitcher between uses are quickly and easily remixed. Oval design allows convenient storage in door of most refrigerators. The pitcher also accommodates hot beverages; perfect for preparing iced tea or iced coffee. Ergonomic handle. 1 gallon (3.8 L). Dishwasher-safe.

There's several ways to earn entries into the raffle: leave a comment below about your favorite Pampered Chef product or one that you'd like to try (1 point), visit and leave a comment on Brelee's Pampered Chef Facebook Page (1 entry), on Lotosobaby Lane's Facebook Page (1 entry), follow Lotsobaby Lane (2 entries), place a Pampered Chef order of any size here (5 entries), or speak with Brelee about hosting your own Pampered Chef party (5 entries). The giveaway will end at midnight on December 15, 2014.  Winner will be contacted to make arrangements for prize delivery and for permission to share their name on the blog.

To make sure you receive proper credit for your entries, please use the Rafflecopter Widget below. If you have trouble with the widget, leave a comment below and I will manually enter your entries in for you.

Good luck! 


a Rafflecopter giveaway







**Disclaimer - The Pampered Chef Quick Stir Pitcher pictured above was purchased by myself with my own money. Opinions written are my own and I was not compensated in any way for them. The Pampered Chef Pitcher being given away is donated by Brelee Hall. I will receive Pampered Chef credit for any orders placed through Lotsobaby Lane and this giveaway. Thanks for supporting me!




Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Why It Is a Bad Idea to Cram Little Behinds into Diapers a Size Too Small



It's every parent's worst nightmare. Times two! You guessed it, the BLOW OUT diaper. If you've got a child, you know the one I'm talking about. The one where you pick your child up and immediately know something's not right.


It happened to me today. Twice! I don't know what it is about car rides, but for us, not only do they have a calming affect on our children, it also seems to clear up any issues with, ahem, regularity, for our little squad. I was proud of myself for disassembling all four car seats, washing the covers, wiping down the plastic parts of the rest and then reassembling everything. Today was our first day out sporting clean car seats. I knew the babies were appreciative of their clean seats. I mean, if you'd seen the funk they'd been sitting in, you'd understand. I dressed everyone in brand new outfits that Grammy bought them, strapped them in, and we took off for errands in the van. About an hour and a half later and one trip through McAllister's Deli drive-thru for Mom, we returned. I couldn't wait to dig into my Savannah Chopped Salad but before I could, I had to get everyone situated. That's when it happened.

I set about lovingly taking each child out, putting them in a jumper or a swing or on the floor with toys so they could play for an hour while Mommy ate. Two babies in, it happened. I didn't see it coming. I picked up my daughter and felt my hand smoosh into something warm and sticky. Could it be? NO!!!! In fact, it was. All over her brand new pants. All over my hand. All over her leg. All over her freshly washed car seat. This is one of those that took half of a package of baby wipes to clean up. That diaper didn't even stand a chance against it. 

Once we got her all cleaned up and in new clothes, I moved on to the next baby. Imagine my surprise when I got the same "surprise" from him! At least I was prepared this time. 

So, I've learned my lesson. You see, as much as I'd like to blame the diaper, it was my own fault. Diapers are expensive. Especially times four. So when I found two boxes of size 2 diapers we had outgrown and the stores wouldn't exchange them for me, I did what any penny-pinching quad momma would do; I slapped those babies on their little butts and went on with life. In hindsight, maybe it wasn't such a good idea. But, I guess two pairs of dirty pants, two car seat covers and a box of wipes is the price I pay. Good thing we've got a good washing machine! 

What's your best penny-pinching fail story?

Until next time,
Love & Prayers,
Misty

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Clean House Makes a Healthy Home!



It's officially cold and flu (and strep and some other nasty bugs) season. I'm a big believer that a lot of sicknesses are preventable by keeping things clean and sanitary. With four little ones starting to crawl, I try hard to keep our floors clean along with other objects they come in contact to regularly. One sick baby in our house means four sick babies here so it's extra important for mommy's sanity to prevent as much as we can. But it's also the first of the month! Time to remember all those things a new month brings! I use the first of the month as a reminder to clean some of those things that often get overlooked! 

I've been busy this morning cleaning house after having company for a week but I also have a few items that require regular cleaning, some of which I didn't initially think of when it came to cleaning. Here's a few that are on my list:

  • Bottle Maker - I posted previously about my Baby Breeza Formula Pro. I did a lot of research prior to purchasing and read a lot of online reviews. One thing I learned, it that a lot of people complained about clogs and it stopped mixing bottles properly. This is actually not a flaw in the product but due to lack of properly cleaning. Once a day (usually at night when I run the dishwasher with bottles), I was the removable parts by running them through the wash in the top rack. I also wipe down the machine and use a dry paper towel to clean off the dispenser per the directions. However, once a month, the machine requires complete dis-assembly and cleaning including removing the water reservoir and the formula storage.
  • Keurig - Did you know these things need to be cleaned? Me either, until recently. We started noticing our coffee didn't taste right and then there were black flakes floating in our drinks (Gross, I know). Turns out, these things need to be cleaned. They make a special solution to clean them with but I found that running just plain old white vinegar through it works just as well at fraction of the cost. Also, check your machine's specific directions. Mine has a needle area that needs to be cleans and a removable part that was collecting all those black flakes and needed to be removed and cleaned. You can also find some helpful tutorials on YouTube if you need specific directions for cleaning yours.
  • Car Seats - I don't think there's any set guideline here on how often these should be washed but my goodness they can get filthy if you don't pay attention to it. We have a baby with reflux and we don't really put them in the exact seat every time. So before I know, there's a build up of spit up in the liner that has sometimes accumulated between the liner and the seat. Talk about disgusting. I recommended washing the cover at least once a month. Wipe down the seat with a wet rag and mild cleaning solution but be very careful not to use harsh chemicals or submerge the straps in water as this can damage them and cause them not to be as safe. If you get the straps wet, you'll have to order new ones from your manufacturer which in our case, cost $30 each. Ouch! 
  • Baby Swings & Jumper Seats - Just like the car seats, these can accumulate some pretty funky filth. I like to remove the covers once a month and toss them in the washer and then give everything else a good wipe down with an antibacterial wipe.
  • Boppy Pillows - We use these to drink bottles in so it goes without saying, these get a little not so fresh. We have spare covers but I still like to toss the entire pillow into the wash about once a month (or more often when there's accidents). 

While we're at it, I thought I'd take a minute to share a few other items around the house you should be cleaning but might forget (I'm guilty of some of these):
  • Sheets (Once a week) -  Sheets should be washed often to remove a buildup of debris, dust, sweat and other icky things. Use hot water (130 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit) and a hot dryer cycle to kill all germs. I find this one to be pretty important especially with the babies' 
  • Mattress (Every six months) - Believe it or not, the big, bulky bedroom essential is one of the easiest-to-clean items in your home—and it should be done twice a year! Simply vacuum the top of the mattress using the upholstery attachment. Then, remove stains by wiping down the surface with a cloth lightly dampened with cold water and a small amount of upholstery shampoo. Be careful not to soak the mattress (moisture can create mold and damage the padding). Protect your mattress from dust mites and stains by buying a quality mattress pad. And guess what: There's no need to flip your mattress! Instead, rotate it head to toe every six months for even wear.
  • Pillow (Once a month) - Don't forget the pillows too! Just like the mattress, pillows accumulate sweat, drool, and all kinds of other funky stuff! If you've got cheap ones, you may choose to replace them but if you're like us, you like to get as much use out of everything as you can. Most pillows can just be tossed in the wash. Use a hot setting in the dryer to be sure to kill all the germs!
  • Trash Can (Every couple of weeks) - No matter how good our aim is, this is probably one of the dirtiest places in our home. And taking out the trash isn't the same as cleaning the trash can. Since little hands will soon be all over our entire house, I'm in the habit now of spraying down the can with disinfectant spray as well as giving it a good wash down every couple of weeks with a bleach based cleaner. 
  • YOUR PHONE, especially your cell phone (OFTEN) - I put that one in all capitals for a reason. Your phone is dirty! Think about everywhere your cell phone goes with you. One recent study actually indicated that the majority of cell phone actually have fecal matter on them. Eww! A few alcohol wipes should take care of your home or office phone, but your cell phone, unless it's protected in a waterproof case like mine is, requires a little more tenderness. Use a microfiber cloth to take care of dirt and oil every couple of days, especially if you have oily fingers. A 50/50 mix of water and white vinegar should handle the rest of the yuckies lurking on there! Personally, since I have a waterproof case on mine, I give it a good wipe down with a disinfecting wipe daily. 
What items are on your list to clean regularly? I'd love to hear any good cleaning tips you've got in your pocket!

Until next time,
Love and prayers,
Misty


Friday, November 28, 2014

Archibeque Quads First Christmas Wish List



We are so lucky to be surrounded by sweet family and friends who love our babies (and us) so much! Recently I've been asked several times what our babies need for Christmas this year. Since they are still too young to really understand, we hope they'll enjoy unwrapping a few packages. We've purchased a few developmental toys so far to put under our tree along with Christmas jammies but here is a list of items they are in need of:


Diapers - size 4 and up


Along with formula, diapers are one of our biggest needs. We go through about 20 diapers a day or approximately 140 a week right now. We aren't brand loyal and usually shop for the best price. 





Carseats  

It's getting close to time for us to upgrade from our infant carriers and into Convertible (Rear-Facing Seats). After much research, I think we are going to go with the Evenflo Symphony™ DLX All-In-One Car Seat. It is the top rated seat for safety as well as affordability plus it should last us both rear and forward facing as well as a booster seat.





Boon Edgeless Saucers

These are highly recommended by fellow quad mommies. With four, it's difficult to make sure plates stay on the table where they should. As we are transitioning into eating solids and starting to self-feed, these are high on our want list!








Wooden Blocks
Wooden blocks are an excellent developmental toy for children on many levels. Especially good for cognitive development, as far as toys go, a good set of wooden blocks is high on our list.











Northstates Superyard
As the babies become mobile, keeping everyone safe, away from electrical outlets and dangerous pieces of furniture, is becoming important and with four, needing a way to contain everyone, but still allow them room to play and explore is crucial. I think I'd like to start with one yard and eventually move up to two to allow them more space.








Another highly recommended product from fellow quad mommies, here's a video of another set of quads trying out their choo choo wagon for the first time. We'll have to get one set and then two add on wagons to accomodate our whole family but this will be perfect for outings to the beach, park, city, and the country to visit grandma and grandpa!

Hooded Bath Towels & Wash Cloths
We love these! We got a set before the babies were born and we're already wearing holes in them! So these are definitely on our list for Christmas time. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Our Family's First Thanksgiving (And Other Life Updates)

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! If you're reading this, chances are very good that you've made a strong impact on our lives for the better and we want you to know how thankful we are for you.


Our Turkeys First Thanksgiving (And 10 Months Old Picture)

We have A LOT to be thankful for this year. We are so blessed to have our four children home with us, happy and healthy. We are thankful for each other. We are thankful for the family and friends who have prayed for us, helped us with various acts of kindness, and generally showed their love for us. Most of all, we are thankful for God looking out for us and always seeing that our needs are met. And...in keeping with how our lives have been for the past year and a half, we celebrated anything but the normal way. 

We were blessed that Adam's parents were able to come down this week to celebrate with us and enjoy spending time with their grandchildren. They arrived on Sunday evening after a long drive in from New Mexico. Our two-year wedding anniversary happened to be the next day. When we woke up, they surprised us with a card and the gift of a date night complete with childcare. This was quite possibly the most moving gift ever as Adam and I didn't think we were going to have the time or the money to do anything except a movie on the couch after the kids were in bed. We also haven't had many opportunities to date one another in the last year so dinner and movie was a rare and much appreciated treat. It was also easy to relax knowing that the babies were in good hands with Grammy and Granddad caring for them. Our anniversary also included a special moment for Adam and I. I have not worn my engagement ring since I was first pregnant and it has not fit me right after the pregnancy. Without me knowing, Adam took it from my hiding place, had it resized and the diamonds tightened. He took me on an adventure. Since the day we moved, we've been saying we wanted to climb the Harbor Bridge. We gave it our best shot but about 3/4 of the way up, the close passing traffic and shaking bridge made Adam want to turn around. I went along with it. After that, he took me on a walk on the fishing pier that goes along the USS Lexington. We went out as far as it goes and sat and watched a couple ships pass by. Then all of a sudden, Adam surprised me by getting on one knee and asking me to be his wife all over again and to spend the rest of our lives living in Corpus. That was a totally unexpected and sweet memory!

Our Thanksgiving feast was a little bit unconventional this year. Because Adam had to work on Thanksgiving Day, we had our feast on Wednesday. Adam and his Dad fried a turkey while his Mom and I made all the sides. We enjoyed our feast and then the babies woke up just in time to taste turkey, mashed potatoes (Grammy was sweet enough to make them without any salt), and cranberries. Baby B was super excited to try the cranberries and she was pretty upset when her Daddy made her leave the table to go sit in the recliner with him. After our dinner, we headed to a park near us to snap a quick picture for our Christmas cards before heading downtown for a walk near the harbor so that we'd have room for pie. 


Adam & Dad Frying our Turkey

Staging a funny frying photo

Our Thanksgiving Day started early when Adam woke up at 4 AM to head back to work. I woke up with him, made him breakfast and leftover Turkey sandwiches, and then tried to go back to sleep. I couldn't. I knew that in a few hours his Mom and Dad would be leaving too. We are so extra thankful to them for their visit. They gave our family so much love that we've really been needing. I spent the day with the babies getting them back on their regular routine. They were pretty tired from all of the extra love and attention they got for a few days so they spent a lot of today sleeping. It was worth it though because it was so nice to be able to hold all four babies at one time and not feel like someone was missing out. Tonight, as I bathed them, read them a story and said our prayers with them, I sure did miss my mother-in-law. It was so easy having two extra sets of hands around to help with our daily routine. I know the babies loved it too. They demanded their Grammy and Granddad's attention of you can be sure they got it! 

All in all, even though our Thanksgiving wasn't the traditional celebration, it was, so much like our life, OURS. It may not have been cookie cutter and perfect, but we made it work just like we do our daily life. God has not only blessed us beyond imagine, He provides for all our our needs in His own perfect timing! We are so thankful for a Thanksgiving filled with love and family. We hope yours was too!


Grammy & Granddad with babies! (Grammy took them shopping!)

Love and Prayers,
Misty

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Have you tried Ebates yet?

**Disclaimer - this post does contain affiliate links (that means if you do sign up for Ebates, I will receive a small commission in my own ebates account; it costs you nothing).



I'm sure by now everyone has seen the commercials for www.ebates.com. I've seen them over and over again but never really checked it out because I was certain there was some sort of gimmick! Until recently! I got my first ebates check for $7.50 for buying things that I already buy online (things like diapers, bottle liners, baby wash, baby lotion, and coffee for myself)! All you have to do is sign up at www.ebates.com and instead of going directly to the sites you already shop at, go to ebates, do a quick search for the store you want to shop at and then you're on your way to automatically earning cash back for each of your purchases! I ordered contacts online for both Adam and I today and got $7.77 back! It may not be a lot but why wouldn't you make just a few clicks to save money! 

In the meantime, I'm working on a post containing a few tricks I've learned to save money around the home! Do you have a favorite money saving tip? I'd love to hear it!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Bayalage Highlights

As probably anyone would guess, four babies carry a pretty hefty price tag. One baby is expensive. Four is insane. So, logically, we've been making regular cutbacks in our household to try to help the budget go a little further. I'll try to post about a few money saving tips I've learned in the future but for now, I want to talk about something new I recently did. 

My close friends know that I've been blonde for a REALLY long time. I've been seeing the same hair stylist for over ten years in fact. And like clockwork, every six weeks, you used to see me in her chair having my roots touched up. Now that my miracles are here, not only are highlights a pricey indulgence, they also take a lot of time that I usually can't find to tear myself away for a couple hours at a time. I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I was going to go in and get my natural, dishwater blonde color done all over my head to try to avoid the strong demarcation line I'd been sporting for the last couple of months. (Seriously ya'll! I'd gone about two-three times as long as I normally would and it was BAD!) I couldn't even wear my hair in a ponytail without being embarrassed! 

Finally, I decided that something had to be done. After a bad experience using box color in college that cost me $300 to have corrected, I decided against going that route again. I checked with some local MOMs via a local Facebook group and made an appointment with a salon they recommended. Then I broke the news to Adam that he'd have the squad all to himself for a few hours on that day! 

When I arrived at Atelier Salon (late no doubt), I was greeted by a friendly receptionist. Almost immediately, my sweet stylist, Chloe, came up to greet me. We talked about what I needed and I told her that I had nine-month old quadruplets and needed something low-maintenance for both time and cost considerations. I told her I wasn't against going all my natural color, but that I'd seen that in old pictures and it really washed me out. Chloe suggested something to me called bayalage (pronounced bah-lee-AHZGE). A French technique, basically, bayalage means to paint or sweep. So instead of putting on color and wrapping my hair in tons of foil, Chloe spent her time painting on the highlights (or in my case, lots of low-lights). The goal for my new look was to make it look like my hair had just been lightened naturally in the sun. Hence, the top layer still looks very blonde, but underneath, it's very, VERY dark. This means that as my roots grow in again, it won't be as obvious. The strong line of demarcation will be much more difficult to see and I can go basically as long as I'd like until I have to have my hair highlighted again! (In my case, because I was so blonde before, she said I'll probably see some fading of my new brown color, so it will probably need to be touched up again in about eight weeks due to fading but after that, the color should start to stay.)


(Don't judge, I wasn't going to fix my hair to go have it fixed! I was late already!) But see how my hair is now blonde on the top layer yet, brown underneath?


So far, I'm pretty happy with it. The brown hasn't washed out yet but then again, it's only seen a couple of shampooings since I did the color. I'm pretty thankful that I found a way to still keep some of the blonde, but I'm not tied to the salon chair and my pocketbook can focus on what's important: diapers! 

Until next time,
Love & prayers,
Misty


Sunday, November 9, 2014

This Post is Going to Make You Uncomfortable (or it should)

I'm sure by now everyone's heard me talk about how difficult it is going out in public these days.  Nothing has changed in that regard. In fact, just for fun the other day, I counted how many people approached me in the grocery store. I had a pretty short list of eight items. A trip like that, mid-day after the lunch rush, would normally take a person about 15 minutes. For me, with four babies in tow, by myself, from the time I parked until the time I was ready to pull out of my parking space, it took one hour and 14 minutes. During that time, I had 28 (TWENTY EIGHT!!!) people approach me to ask questions about my babies. (This count does not include the additional pointing and staring or the comments made about us but not directly to us. My brain can't calculate all of that AND get shopping done AND care for my babies all at once. Sorry.)

Now, I could definitely blog about how this count, combined with some other invasive questions sometimes makes me want to be a hermit and how if I could have groceries delivered at a reasonable price I would; but today I want to talk about a few questions that I often receive that pretty much send me through the roof. 

Let's start with an easy one: "Are they quadruplets"?
Variations of this questions include: "Are they all twins"?, "Two sets of twins"? "Are they all triplets"? and "Are they quatriplets"? (In case you didn't know, quatriplets is not a word.)
How I answer: "Yes they are" or "Actually, they're quaDRUplets". 
What I want to say: "Yes". Or on a particularly stressful day "Nope. I run a daycare."

Next up, one that really irritates me: "Is it hard:?
Variations: "Is it really hard"?, "How do you do it"?, "You must have a lot of help".
How I answer: "I don't know any different" or "It's what you'd expect having four babies would be like". And, on a stressful day, "I've actually said, the hardest part is going in public and not being able to get my grocery shopping done because of all the attention:. (What can I say? Sometimes the truth has to be told." "Is it hard having one baby"?
What I want to say: "It would be a lot easier if I didn't have to stop every five feet to fend someone off from touching my children or to answer questions that I've probably already answered a half a dozen or more times today." "If I had a lot of help, do you think I'd be here in the grocery store alone with four infants frantically trying to get everyone on my list before someone has a dirty diaper or it's time to eat"?

Next, more of a statement posed as a question: "Oh, so you're done"?
Variations: "Are you going to have anymore"?
How I answer: "We're very blessed and we're not trying right now."

What I want to say: "Thank you for deciding how many children is right for our family". Adam has actually answered this one with "We want four more". 

But the real reason for this post, and the question that tops them all is: "How did this happen"?
Variations: "Did you get artificially inseminated or something"?, "Did you take medication"? "Are they natural"?
How I answer: "We had a little bit of help in the form of medication". 
What I want to say: "Why? Do you struggle with fertility"? "How did you conceive your child"? "No; we did it four times in one night." "No; they're plastic".

I'm not kidding. The other day, Adam and I were out shopping for some items for our home and an entire sales team from one particular store gathered around us as we were trying to leave. One lady walked up to me and basically screamed out "So did you get artificially inseminated or something"? I'm pretty sure there's only a few times in my life where I've ever been so embarrassed. I had an entire store staring at me, my husband, and our children asking about our intimate relationship. I looked at Adam and then my children before I answered. I was thankful that at this time, my babies couldn't understand the conversation, but imagine being older and hearing this question asked of your parents. In my opinion, it certainly shouldn't matter how my babies were conceived. I mean, does anyone walk up to parents with singleton babies and ask what position they were conceived in? Now don't get me wrong, if someone is truly struggling with fertility, I'm more than happy to share my fertility struggle and the battle we went through with them. I'm happy to pray with them as well. But I don't think it's asking too much to expect a little bit of respect and common courtesy when I'm in public. 

I'm not sure what it is, but seeing four babies at once must do something to the human mind to suddenly think there are no etiquette rules for what is and is not appropriate to ask someone. The other request we often get is to take pictures of our children. I can assure you that at no point in my life I have gone up to a family that I did not know and ask them to take a picture of their child. It's weird. It's awkward and what the heck would I want a picture of someone else's family for?  Now, I get that most people have never seen quadruplets before and they want to be able to share their experience with their friends and family. Most people are quite respectful when I tell them no and explain why. I understand that in today's culture, it's just human nature to take our your cell phone and snap a picture of every cool thing you see. BUT, please try to remember that we are a family too. Having strangers snap your picture in public is weird. I try to envision what they're going to do with our picture and some of the thoughts just creep me out.

All in all, we are able to take most of these questions in stride no matter how many times we hear them. I try to remind myself that most likely, it's the first time they've ever seen four babies at once and my everyday reality, is something that they've likely only seen on TV. Still, it can be particularly frustrating when one just needs to grab some milk and be on their merry way!

That's all this time.

Until my next post,
Love & Prayers,
Misty

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Most Important Baby Product for Multiples Families!!

**Disclosure (in accordance with FTC Guidelines) - 
This is my personal review of the Baby Brezza Formula Pro. This product was purchased with my own money. I was given no special consideration or compensation for reviewing this product.


***REVISION*** December 3, 2014 - I've loved my Baby Brezza. I truly have. Unfortunately, today, the water pump went out on it. Something seemed off yesterday as the bottles weren't mixing properly and were making in the wrong amounts. (If I pressed the button to make an 8 ounce bottle, I'd get 3 ounces, or 5, or 10.) Finally, today, it stopped making bottles completely. For added affect, okay, really because if I didn't call right away I knew I'd forget, with all four babies hungry and crying in the background, I called their customer service. The agent walked me through a few steps to troubleshoot and we were quickly able to diagnose that the pump is not working correctly. Fortunately, it's under warranty and they'll be shipping me a new one in 3-5 days. However, I want to advise everyone that to receive the full warranty, YOU MUST HAVE YOUR RECEIPT. Fortunately, I never clean out my email these days so I still had it but I'll admit, there were a few moments of panic when she told me that! On a side note, would anyone like to come make bottles for me until my new machine arrives? 

Baby Brezza® Formula Pro


I'll admit, when I saw other MOMs (Moms of Multiples) posting pictures of their new Baby Brezza Formula Pros, I was skeptical. Very skeptical. The product was expensive and I'd seen a few poor reviews. The best way for me to describe the Baby Brezza is that it's like a Keurig, except for babies!

To fully understand why this product is such a lifesaver to me, I think it would be helpful if you understood my "old" process first. Prior to the Baby Breeza (which I've owned for about two months now), I or someone else (usually my amazing mother-in-law or my nanny) would spend about an hour a day making bottles. Here's an outline of the steps:

  1. Get 32 bottles out of the dishwasher
  2. Put liners in them
  3. Mix formula up by the batch (fellow quad Mom blogger, Amber, has an awesome tutorial here).
  4. Pour bottles with appropriate amount of formula for each baby.
  5. Matching nipples to colored rings (to know whose bottle is whose)
  6. Screw on nipples
  7. Put caps on bottles
  8. Place bottles in mini-fridge dedicated solely to storing babies' bottles.
Then, when it came time to feed babies, the process went like this:
  1. Remove appropriate bottles from mini-fridge.
  2. Place bottles in crock-pot of hot water kept going all day long. 
  3. Change babies' diapers.
  4. Discover diaper genie is full.
  5. Empty diaper genie.
  6. Discover you're out of diapers.
  7. Get diapers and restock baskets.
  8. Finish changing babies.
  9. Realize you forgot bottles in crock-pot while tending to babies' needs. 
  10. Take bottles out.
  11. Test bottles
  12. Bottles are too hot. 
  13. Listen to babies cry because they're hungry.
  14. Stick too hot bottle in the freezer in hopes of cooling it off faster.
  15. You get the point.

So in summary, the old process was VERY time consuming and often led to frustration for both me and the babies. After seeing MOMs post pictures and rave reviews of theirs, I finally broke down and decided I had to have one. But the price tag on it was approximately $160. When you're buying diapers, wipes, formula, bottle liners, clothes, etc for four babies, $160 is a lot of money. So, when I quit working in August, my last day of work present to myself (in celebration of 10 years of working at the same company), was the Baby Brezza. (I know, most people would pick something way cooler but I'm a quad mom, we think differently.) 


After searching for the best price, I finally decided to purchase mine at Bed, Bath, & Beyond and use a 20% off coupon. I called the 800 number to order (it was not available in any of the stores in my area) and I even got the representative to include free shipping. Several days later, a box arrived at my doorstep and I thought it was Christmas!

The initial set-up didn't take long. The hardest part was determining which ring to use for my specific formula. After that, and cleaning it for the first time, I poured water in it to warm and added my formula. I was ready for morning! 

The process of making bottles now is quite simple! Assuming I remember to pour water in the tank after each feeding, all I have to do is ensure there is plenty of formula in the machine, place my bottle under the spot, press a button, watch the formula mix and pour into the bottom, screw on a nipple and voila! A perfectly warmed, perfectly mixed bottle every time! I'll admit, sometimes I do have to give the bottle a little shake to make sure all of the formula is mixed easily, but it's minimal and can easily be done on the walk back to wherever the babies are. 

While the Formula Pro has been a lifesaver for me, there are a few things you should know. The machine does require frequent cleaning. Nightly, I remove the tray and the spout and run it through the dishwasher with the rest of my bottles. I also wipe everything down daily including the spout underneath where the formula comes out. Monthly, I remove the tank and the formula receptacle and thoroughly wash both. 

The only complaint I have regarding this amazing product is that a larger water tank would be very helpful, especially for families with four babies. We empty this one after each feeding and since the machine actually warms the water prior to mixing, if I forget to fill it up after making the last round of bottles, we're stuck waiting about 10 minutes for warm bottles. 

Hands down, this product is a complete time-saver for anyone feeding formula but especially for parents with multiples! I put this product number two on my list of must-have baby products, second only to a swing for each baby! If you're expecting multiples in the near future, I cannot emphasize enough, how this machine is worth every penny. I only wish we'd had it sooner! Seriously moms, if you're making a registry, put this on it and if you're shopping for a soon-to-be MOM she will LOVE you for this gift!

Until next time,
Love & Prayer,
Misty

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Nine Month Old Quadlings

Can you believe our precious, tiny, tiny babies are already nine months old? So many people texted me today that before I know it, they'll be a year old. Someone even asked if I've started planning their one-year-old birthday party. (I have; in my mind at least). Since of course money and time are both precious commodities in our household during this season, I decided I'd try to do some cute nine-month photos on my own so we spent a couple hours this afternoon dressing up in our Paty rompers (Special thanks to Paty, Inc.), and snapping a few snapshots of everyone. You can only imagine how hard it was to get everyone not crying and looking in the general direction of the camera at once. Even our yorkie decided she had to be a part of the shoot. It was definitely a fun afternoon!




Overall, at nine months we are doing pretty well. Keep in mind, our adjusted age is just over six months so we're still taking our time with some things developmentally. It's pretty normal for preemies, especially micro-preemies to take their time. I like to think that because the first few months of their lives were spent rapidly learning things on their own, they're taking a well deserved break. Afterall, they did teach themselves how to breath! 

 I am seeing so many personalities come out. I get so many smiles, coos, and some mamas and lots of dadas lately. I've noticed that they are much more in control of their limbs, often making sure they are touching me with an arm or a leg at all times when we are feeding. Speaking of feeding, I can now feed all babies at once! They've gotten so big, it's almost impossible to use our old method of feeding two babies on a pillow in my lap. So now I line up for boppies on the floor, insert babies, hand my two babies that hold bottles theirs, and hold them for the other two while I help out with stray/flying bottles from time to time. As you can see, we're gearing up to crawl as well! Mommy has already had to secure a few electrical outlets near the tummy time mat. Here are few shots from our photo shoot with Mommy and one of our feeding time circle:









Grammy and Granddad got each baby a jumparoo and we can ALMOST reach the floor in them now. We're very engaged with the toys however! We've been sitting in them for about 20-30 minutes every afternoon. So far, nobody has fallen asleep sitting in one but we're definitely worn out when we get out of them. It also means Mommy and Daddy's house is looking for and more like a daycare! 




Other than lots going on, we're hanging in there. We managed to go out to the store twice this week and once to the post office again with Mommy riding solo! I'll admit, it's not easy but per my post earlier in the week, I'm trying to ask for help. I've decided that it's too hard to wait for Adam to be off of work to go to the grocery store or Walmart to buy long lists of items so I've learned to push my 90 pound quad stroller (that's the before baby weight for that beast) with one arm and pull the shopping basket behind me. I'm sure I'm a sight to be seen going through the aisles but it works. I still get stopped a lot; but this way, people see I mean business and for the most part, are kind enough to let us by so we can go on our way. Of course, there's still the occasional person who will track us down in the store to show one of their shopping buddies who might have missed us and I did catch one person trying to snap a cell phone pic (I'll save the lecture for now; but do I really have to explain why this is rude). Each shopping trip, I was able to ask someone in the store to help me out to the car with my purchases so I'm making progress here!  And, as a result of my shopping trips, I'm now eating regularly. I'm pleased to report that for the third day in a row, I ate breakfast and it was well before 2:00 in the afternoon (when I usually remember I haven't eaten and start cramming junk into my mouth). I'll spare you the photos of my food, but as an example, this morning I had a whole wheat bagel with scrambled eggs on it and fruit. I also started taking a multi-vitamin as well. Eating has already started to make a difference and I have much more energy than i was feeling for a few days last week. Still, it's a challenge to keep up with laundry and cleaning and still provide quality time with the babies. So you guys can guess what I'm letting go. I am however thinking it might be a good idea, depending on cost, to look into a cleaning service who could come every other week and mop floors, vacuum, dust, scrub bathrooms, and things like that. Time will tell. 

Thanks again for the overwhelmingly kind response to my last post and all of the encouragement and prayers you guys sent. I definitely feel those prayers working. I hope everyone has a beautiful Sunday tomorrow. I'm looking forward to next Sunday as Adam and I have a church here in Corpus we plan on checking out together. Until next time,

Love and prayers,
Misty


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Confession



It's about time I let it all out. I confess, I haven't been completely 100% honest. You see, I'm guilty of what so many of us are. I hide my struggles, only posting the good, and keeping the struggles locked away where only those closest to me can see and many times, not even sharing with them. After all, who wouldn't prefer to see cute pictures of babies on the beach or hear about how well they're growing? Nobody wants to read about how some days, I don't have the strength to even put on real clothes, much less take a shower and brush my hair. Nobody wants to hear about how I'll do anything, including eating baby food myself, to avoid going to the grocery store alone with four babies. (For the record, rice cereal cannot be used as a substitute for rice when making stir-fry.)

See, from the beginning, I knew that my pregnancy was nothing short of a miracle. God had finally heard my prayers and my cries and had answered them with "yes". He made me a mother. My job, and my promise to Him, was to use my pregnancy and my children to glorify Him. So what better way to do that than to share these gorgeous little miracles God gave me with the world and to share my story of how I went from a 0.5% chance of ever conceiving one month, to being pregnant with quadruplets less than two months later? My job is to be on cloud nine every day, happy, joyous, and sharing my story with everyone I see, all while I praise God and tell others how He answered my prayer and then fulfills my every need. To the world, I need to appear to be SuperMom (a term I hate by the way). I mean, people will run to Him and love Him and glorify Him left and right if He answers prayers like that, right?

Wrong. Actually, I don't think that's what God wants. While I have no doubt that it was Him who answered my prayers and that God definitely wants our story to glorify Him, I also think God wants me to be real. It's okay to admit that what I'm doing and what I've done has been hard. It's okay to admit how much I've cried behind closed doors. So often, strangers approach me and ask me a simple question, yet I never know the right answer to tell them. When they ask me the simple question "is it hard" what do I say? Do I tell them yes, it's hard and some days I only have enough strength in me to get through it minute by minute? Most often, I just smile at them and say "No; God gives me the strength to get through."

But my answer is wrong. I'm making being a Christian look easy on the surface. I'm plastering on a smile that isn't real. I'm hiding the struggle in hopes that it will turn someone on to God. I have a very important job. I'm responsible for four little innocent souls as well as their every need. I carried four babies inside of me at once. My pregnancy was probably one of the most physically hard things I've ever done in my life not to mention the stress levels and worries that went along with it. Providing care for four infants is hard both physically and mentally. And if my quad mom friends are right (and they usually are), it gets even harder as four babies become toddlers and start to explore their limits and test boundaries. It's not supposed to be easy. Everyone knows that. Yet why would I think that God wants me to smile and minimize the struggles?

The truth is, even with God on my side, I struggle. No one ever said being a Christian was easy. So often, we find ourselves feeling pressure to show that because we are Christian, our lives are perfect. God didn't make us perfect, He made a human. And if we're so wrapped up in appearing perfect to others, how does that make us look to non-believers? If our lives are so perfect just by believing in God, then why does God let bad things happen to them even though they want to believe in Him? We're not accurately representing the Christian faith and for that, I am wrong.

Being a Christian isn't easy. Sometimes, I ask God for help and He says "not now". Sometimes, I ask Him to make my day easy, and He gives me extra challenges. I'm so far from perfect it's not even funny. I've been so blessed to have received so many offers of help and while I'm confessing, there are times when I've turned away visits because that would mean I have to take a shower and comb my hair in addition to plastering a smile on my face to make it appear as though I'm handling everything just fine. As Adam will tell you, often, even though people would offer, I was too afraid of letting people see that I needed help and busy trying to do it all by myself, that in the end, I put a lot of unnecessary stress and strain on myself. I realize I'm wrong. I realize it's okay to need help. I realize that God wants me to share my struggles. He wants me to lean on others when they offer help, because that is one of the reasons He put us here and if He puts it on their heart to help me, then by refusing the help, I'm denying Him. 

One of the biggest struggles for me lately has been moving to a new city and knowing no one. While I love our new home and I love seeing Adam at night, during the day, it's just me. There's no community members stopping by to help with laundry or to just give me encouraging words or even just a hug. Day in and day out, it's me caring for four babies' every need all day long. Taking the babies out means I'm setting myself up to be bombarded with the same questions I hear over and over from strangers, not to mention fending off people who make no effort to wash their hands before trying to touch the babies I watched fight to breathe their first breaths from the side of a plastic incubator. Grocery shopping is limited to what I can fit in the bottom of the quad stroller. Trying to make a doctor's appointment is a struggle. Trying to get a haircut or a pedicure or some alone time to feel like a woman again, is unheard of. Most days, unless Adam is home, I'm not eating foods that are good for me; if I eat at all, I'm eating foods that are convenient and I'm starting to see the effect on my health now. I can't remember the last time I had a conversation with one of my friends that wasn't over text message or instant messenger because usually the minute I get on the phone is the minute one or all four decide to cry. And as my husband pointed out, I've been so consumed with trying to move into a home and care for four babies, he can't remember the last time I did a single nice thing just for him. I know God will lead me to wonderful people if I ask Him but right now, I'm struggling.

But I feel like God wants me to share with others that even though I'm struggling right now and things are hard, I know this is only temporary. You see, God is not too concerned about my comfort, happiness, and the ease of my life right now. If that were the case, God would not have made Earth and Heaven separately. God has a plan for me and He has a plan for our babies and He has a plan for each and every one of us. Right now, I feel like God is teaching me, among other things, that it's okay to admit when I need help. There's no need for others to think I'm Super Mom. And even though I love my babies to the moon and back and I treasure them and each and every minute I have with them, it's okay to feel overwhelmed sometimes. 

Of course, it's not for me to know what God's plan is for me. My job is to do one thing: Glorify God. And I've been failing. By hiding my struggles in an attempt to appear as Super Mom, I'm not glorifying God. I've been far too concerned with appearing as though I have everything in control on my own, to be able to give God ALL of the glory.  I need to share both the victories and the struggles with others, lean on them not only for help but also for prayer and testimony so that my life can be a true testament to HIS GLORY! It's not easy but I am taking the first steps. There's a lady here that I met when we moved in whose offered more than once to help me with anything I need. I've been hesitant to accept because inviting strangers into your home is both scary and hard when it's just you, not to mention when you're protecting four infants. However, I've reached out to her. She's going to come by this week and she's going to help me go to the doctor in a couple weeks. I've also reached out to a couple of churches to begin our search for a church home here and I'm working on a way to interact with our neighborhood and let them know we have quads over the upcoming Halloween holiday. And probably an even bigger step towards giving God His glory, is admitting I've been wrong. My only hope is that by sharing my falter, I encourage others to share the real side of them so they too can glorify God. And if by chance you're reading this and you don't believe, then maybe you'll see in your heart that Christians aren't perfect. We struggle too. Sometimes more than you can imagine.

Love and prayers,
Misty