Sunday, August 31, 2008

St. John's Resort

On a sunny July day, D & I met J at the Ritz St. Thomas.  We had returned to the Ritz with friends, S & R, after the Ritz handled our problems so wonderfully! We hit it off with J immediately!!!
J had been staying across the bay on St. John's at Caneel Bay Resort.  This resort is known for its service, and the fact that it is a former Rockefeller Resort.  It evokes images of true LUXURY.  Unfortunately for J, that is not what he experienced!  You should see the letter Henley on the Horn wrote for him!  There were multiple problems, including a dirty room with a roach problem, lazy staff who were unhelpful, and a walk to the beach that was strenuous and unenjoyable.  If it was too much for J, who is a personal trainer to the stars, then let me tell you, it's too much!!
J hired me to write a letter for him & Henley on the Horn received a FULL REFUND of his stay!  Needless to say, J, D, & I are still very good friends!!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Organizational Tips!

-Make lunches for school the night before
-Buy reusable containers to cut down on the number of ziploc bags you must use!
-Have backpacks packed with all homework, projects, special items
-Look at all of your "parent homework" as soon as the children come home
-Keep a calendar handy at all times
-Keep a project in the car to work on for those times you have to WAIT and WAIT... it can be a photo album, needlepoint work, or a box of stationary
-If you clip something out of the paper to send to a friend, do it right then!! I have a whole basket full of things to send people. Don't let it sit!
-Go ahead & brown more than 1 pound of hamburger at a time.  Use 1 pound for dinner that night and freeze the rest in 1 pound (just estimate) bags.  Then, you can pull it out & make tacos, spaghetti, or beef stroganoff very easily!
-Keep a pen, tweezers, kleenex, etc. in your car!
-Keep BENADRYL in your glove compartment, but be sure to check it yearly for expiration dates!  Benadryl now sells 1 tsp. premeasured spoons that are individually wrapped. I keep it in my glove compartment and diaper bag.
-If you make a casserole or similar dish, double it & freeze one!  You can take it to a friend or save it for dinner in a month or two.
-Write your thank you notes immediately!  It will feel good to accomplish something, and then  you won't forget to write them.
-Plan in advance. FOR EVERYTHING.  If you're going on a trip in a month, start planning in advance for what you need to take, who will keep your children, etc.  It is much less stressful if you take time to plan!!!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Plan ahead!

When you have children, especially a handful of them, it's wise to plan ahead!!!  I learned from a fellow teacher, Dianne, in Irving, TX in 1995 to PLAN AHEAD.  I would run off worksheets 3 weeks in advance because of her guidance.  Therefore, I was always prepared for unexpected illness, etc.

I try to do the same thing with our household!  Granted, our laundry to-be-ironed pile is often high, but I try to do other things early.  Yesterday, I went ahead & bathed the 2 youngest children at 3pm.  When the triplets came home, the 2 little ones were scrubbed clean and in their pajamas!  It allowed me to focus on the triplets for a while, and we even played a board game after dinner!  

Once they walked in the door, I fed them their snacks and unpacked and RE-PACKED their lunch bags.  Yes, always pack your lunches the night before!  I put them in the refrigerator overnight & add frozen yogurt, ice packs, and water bottles the next morning.  After their snacks, I went ahead & bathed them as well!  By dinner time, all of the children in their pajamas!  My friend, B, has always been really good at the early baths.  

I try to stay on top of my laundry, and I wash several loads a day.  I purposefully don't have laundry baskets so that all dirty clothes go straight to our laundry room.  I will put away clothes while watching children in the bath.  So, I started yet another load just before reading with the children.

As soon as they were in bed, I filled out all forms and put them back in their folders in their backpacks.  I try to fill out forms immediately & send them right back in so that they are not lost in a pile of papers!

Those are some tips from today from a mama of trips plus two!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Treats for teachers

It's that time of year again when school is back in session!! Having taught school at three different schools, I know how to treat our teachers!!! I always bring a gift to the teachers on the first day of school.  It may be a copy of my cookbook, a homemade baked item, or a DVD movie & popcorn.  Throughout the year I bring special treats like their favorite drink or supper in a sack (entree, salad, bread, and dessert for their dinner that night) or a good lunch!  Happy Mommy ( bought precious monogrammed items for her teacher's lunch!

My friend, B, is always so thoughtful & creative!  This year she took cute baskets filled with Carolina goodies.  One of the best gifts was a roll of quarters for the drink machine!! B is always so creative and thoughtful.  On Valentine's Day, she paints the lids of baby food jars pink & red & fills the jars with red, pink, & white MMs. So SWEET!

I also like to send a survey to the teachers asking them their favorite drink, favorite lunch time treat, do they drink coffee, etc.  This allows me to tailor my gifts to things that they love!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hurricane Henley

We may be trudging through the remnants of Hurricane Fay, but there's an even bigger Hurricane in our home called Hurricane Henley.  This little mess packs powerful punches that can take apart a room in 5 minutes or less.  Her hair-pulling strength is unmatched in our county, and her high pitched scream outshines the best tornado alarm.  We call her HURRICANE HENLEY!!!

In order to write this post, I had to put the little miss in her bed for a few minutes. She is screaming, "MOMMY!! Mama!!!", amidst lots of crying.  Our 1 1/2 year old hurricane was found STANDING in a wobbly dining room chair this morning after I simply walked down the hall to find a hairbrush.  As if it wasn't dangerous enough that she climbed into the chair, stood in it, and balanced her 23 pounds of goodness, she was happily drinking my Diet Pepsi right out of the can!!!  I will try to post a picture later, but another storm is brewing....

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Managing Triplets

I met a mother of triplets yesterday in our downtown!! She has 2 boys and 1 girl, and they are 14 months old! Boy, did it bring me back in time!! Those days of three toddlers seem like they were just yesterday. I tried to encourage her that the physical demands do become easier as they gain independence!!

I thought I'd share some tips for having multiples!
-Assign a color to each baby... use this color on their bottles, beds, pacifiers, etc.  Our colors were green, pink, & lavender.  Our friends have continued to use the colors when wrapping gifts, etc!  At age 7, the triplets like other colors too, but "their" color will always have special meaning.

-If someone offers to help you, LET THEM!! NO ONE truly understands how physically & mentally exhausting your days are, even as the children are growing older.  Try to think of something they can do to help whether it be entertain the children, take out trash, do laundry, bring a meal, etc. It's OKAY to accept help!

-Buy a notebook or journal for each baby.  I use my notebooks (in their colors, of course) to write down cute stories about them so that I can remember! You can use them to write down medical info when they first come home from the hospital, firsts for the baby book, or whatever you choose!

-If you can afford any help from babysitting to a night nurse to a house cleaning service, do it.  We found MH & she would come once a week to keep 2 babies while I took 1 baby to run errands.  As the babies grew older, MH would keep all 3! She is like part of our family!!  We also hired her to keep the trips for a month after K was born since I couldn't lift b/c of the c-section.  You can't care for 3 2-year olds without lifting!  MH was our lifesaver.  I would do anything for a housecleaner & laundress now!!!!

-Take time for date nights with your husband, even if it has to be an "at home" date night.  Try to get OUT of the house & put on something clean & go somewhere you can't go with 3 babies!  

-Take a shower every morning & BRUSH YOUR TEETH!  There is no excuse not to do this & it will make you feel so much better!  I try to wake up, shower, brush teeth, and put on makeup first thing every morning.  It just helps!

-If possible, take a weekend away per year with your husband.  Certainly take more than one, or stay for 4 nights, if you can!  Four nights is the maximum I can comfortably be away from our sweet ones!

-Pray!  God is with you & He blessed you with these babies, and He will help you survive and flourish! What a gift!!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Lots of tears

Today was filled with lots of tears! Our sweet triplets began the first grade today.  It was the first time they were in three separate classrooms.  They were anxious, excited, afraid, thrilled, nervous, happy, all rolled into one!!  I cried as I told each of them goodbye, but I am so PROUD of them!!! What is it about the beginning of the school year that makes us mamas so sad? I guess it's because it signifies a new beginning, another year older, another year closer to the day they will no longer live at home.  Our preemies are now 7 & in the first grade!!

My friend, A, saw all of the Kindergarten bus students in the lunchroom getting their breakfast.  She said they were wide-eyed and probably terrified. She was overcome with emotions thinking about how their mamas and daddies weren't able to bring them to school today.  Please don't forget those children in your schools this year!!!  I try to send in extra snacks and food, but my friend, L, buys Root t-shirts for the children that don't have them.  We have bought Chick Fil A for some of the students in our class and our school sponsors these children at Christmas.... please look around you & don't forget those that share a table with your child in the classroom!!  Many are just as needy for hugs and material things as those in other countries.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Refund from NYC hotel

Four and a half years ago D & I had the pleasure of visiting F & J at Christmas.  F is my childhood best friend, and J is a newer friend that we met on vacation several years ago!  We stayed with J and enjoyed meeting many of his friends.  One couple was staying at one of the nice boutique hotels in town.  Unfortunately, a water pipe burst in their hotel room & hot water came flooding into their room in the wee hours of the morning!!!  The hotel STILL charged them for their room, and the front desk staff barely uttered an apology.  J's friend, Craig, then contacted Henley on the Horn.  I wrote a letter, and a refund check for their entire stay was quickly received in the mail.  It's amazing what a well-written letter will do for you!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Be careful with balloons!

Balloons are one of those things that most children just LOVE. They like to watch them, hold them, and play with them.  They will beg for them in stores & you have to pry them out of their little fingers.  They are a plethora of balloons at birthday parties, carnivals, field days, etc.  Balloons are a part of our childhood!  However innocuous balloons may seem, they are really quite dangerous.  Young children often try to blow up balloons and accidentally inhale instead of exhale.  If the balloon goes down a child's throat, it blocks the airway.  A child can quickly suffocate.  So, PLEASE BE CAREFUL with balloons!

We attended a Family Olympics, complete with a fun water balloon toss.   It was great fun for all... except for those of us with toddlers!  I was terrified our 18 month old would pick up a piece of a balloon & swallow it. I found a 2 year old trying to blow up one of the tiny balloons with no parents in sight.  She easily could have swallowed it!!  I  hate to be overly cautious, but do take heed! :)

It's all in how you look at it

We all choose how we react to things ... whether it be a rational or irrational reaction, it's our choice.  Our school building has been torn down & we are building a new one!! This is wonderful for our students, teachers, and faculty for the long-term.  However, in the short-term, we are facing quite a few headaches!! Our temporary campus is not ready, we do not have water because of a nearby construction project, and we cannot meet our teachers until the first day of school.  Certainly I am mad & disgusted, right? Certainly I am throwing a fit that I can't rush through the doors with another 100-200 parents to shuffle down the new hallways and find each of our children's new classrooms, correct?  NO!! I feel so sorry for the teachers.  I have not told my children anything other than that we are SO EXCITED about this year! What a fun adventure we have to behold! This is going to be a great year!!!  D & I are choosing to dwell on the positive, and therefore, our children are not disappointed about tomorrow... they are excited about Monday morning!!!  

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Just one of those days

Today was one of those truly challenging days of being CEO of our home. I adore our 5 children, but they are so ready for school!!  We woke up & I fed all 5 some scrambled eggs & Eggo waffles & had them get dressed to go buy a birthday gift.  We rushed out the door and were at the store before it even opened.  In the store with all 5 children, out with a gift that was $10 more than I had hoped to spend. Happy K can't wait to give the gift to her friend E.  We sped to the swimming pool & enjoyed 2 hours of swimming, lots of fighting over buckets & pool rockets, fussing over the lunch I had packed, tears begging for food from the snack bar, and showers for all. I was exhausted. We rushed home to put baby in the bed for 30 mins before driving 30 mins to Pump It Up for the birthday party. After a quick shower, we all jumped back in the car & began our journey to the party. As I drove into the parking lot, I realized there were NO CARS. NOT EVEN THE BIRTHDAY GIRL! I quickly opened my calendar, and was disappointed to learn that THE PARTY IS TOMORROW. I have to do it all again tomorrow!!!

We went to Target to spend even more money in the dark hole we call Tar-jay.  Two sticky icees & $250 later, we leave.  I hate buying Icees/treats for children, but I had to do something b/c K was sobbing that it was not her best friend's party TODAY. Mama goofed, Mama bought icees. So healthy,  I know! Our Target extravaganza lasted over an hour between coupon searching, looking for the items, etc. Again, I am EXHAUSTED.  Lots of fighting and fussing and tears as we loaded up to go home.

We rushed in the door to unload & prepare for my little brother & his fiancee to join us for dinner. Thankfully, I had not promised culinary delights... burgers on the grill & a can of baked beans were all I could muster!!!  It may not sound bad, but Target with 5 children ages 7 & under all fighting to be in the 2 person cart, is tough by itself!!!  It was just one of those days....

Monday, August 18, 2008

Staples Rewards

Sometimes I am not too keen on signing up for a store's "rewards" card because I feel like they are simply tracking my spending, while I receive nothing in return.  However, the Staples Rewards card really works!!  I recently received $14.30 of store credit from them! Granted, I had to spend it at Staples, but it was the perfect time because I needed a new ink cartridge.  I saved $14.30 over what I would have paid at another store!  So... you might want to look into the Rewards programs at individual stores!

Ritz Carlton

DH (Dear Husband) and I prefer the three l's when traveling... luxury, luxury, luxury.  This is mainly due to the fact that we have 5 young children, so if we actually figure out a way to get away, we want to be pampered.  In 1999, while struggling with infertility, we traveled to the Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas. It is a beautiful hotel!  It was a wonderful time to be together, but the service was not as advertised on the website.  We did not have evian spritzes by the pool or even towel service as promised.  It was just not quite as luxurious as the website made it sound.  I wrote a letter and "Henley on the Horn" was born!  The manager contacted us and offered to have us stay for 3 nights on the house so that they could make it up to us.  As God would have it, we had enough Delta miles to cover the flight to St. Thomas, so we spent Easter there in 2000.  It was FABULOUS!!!  Since then we have been back at least 3 more times to that very same resort.  The manager could have lost a customer, but due to good customer service, he gained a REPEAT customer!!  You should go there.  It is a BEAUTIFUL resort & the service is GREAT now!  You must spend a half day or evening on the Lady Lynsey, the resort's catamaran.  WOW. Now that's the life....

Friday, August 15, 2008

New baby wash!

After having had 5 babies, you begin to have favorites of everything from yogurt to sippy cups (see happy mommy's favorite) to diapers!  I have always loved the sweet smell of Baby Magic baby wash.  It just has a wonderful baby smell!

Then my friend ML introduced me to Noodle & Boo, which they sell at their store in HP in Dallas. Love it!  However, it's a bit pricey for a mama to 5.

Leave it to my friend, M, to have found something PERFECT at Target!  We love the Tar-jay!  She bought the Method baby wash & shampoo all-in-one! It has the cutest round shape AND it has a cup attached for washing baby's hair or for letting baby play in the water!  It's a GREEN product too & is made of rice and mallow (like marshmallow), so it has the sweetest smell!  It is also perfect to tote in the pool bag or on trips!  RUN TO TARGET, RUN!

Thursday, August 14, 2008


I love being a wife to D & the mommy to five little wonders!  I used to teach, but now I am happy to teach at home!  We are basically Jon & Kate + 8 minus 3!   We have triplet 7 year olds, a newly turned 5 year old, and a  1 1/2 year old!  I'd love to share my stories.

Throughout our marriage, we have had occasions where a resort didn't have the poolside service they promised, or a friend had a bad stay at a hotel, or an airline didn't compensate a friend for a "flight from hell".  I started "Henley on the Horn" as a way to write letters on behalf of others who don't have the time or energy to write their own.  Through my letters, friends and clients have received free weekends at hotels, refunds of their money, extra frequent flier mileage, and more!  I created this blog to share some of those stories & to tell all about raising 5 under 5, which is where we were when #5 was born!  I hope you enjoy it!