Saturday, October 31, 2009

My first Halloween as a Mama

I can't believe that my first Halloween as a Mama was 8 years ago today!!! Time really flies when you're having lots of fun and wiping more bottoms than you can count. On their first Halloween, the triplets wore cute borrowed costumes from another family of triplets. Our D was a "Dellaphant" and had the PERFECT big cheeks! We wanted to kiss those cheeks all night long! Our boy was a dinosaur. I am reminded this morning just how loud his ROAR can be! Our Tiny girl was a ladybug, which is so fitting for her fun personality. We went to a Halloween party at their friend, C's, house. The triplets were so exhausted when they came home that they literally fell asleep sitting up in their high chairs!

On their second Halloween, I wanted to be creative and choose costumes for our triplets. Not everyone has triplets! We decided they would be the three blind mice. I searched ebay until I had three mouse costumes!! Let me just say that they were about the cutest thing I've ever seen!!!

On their third Halloween, our sweet two year olds were the three little pigs and their new baby sister was the ladybug! Those 3 little pigs were so cute and carried their sticks, straw, and bricks all night long!

It makes me sad that these years have flown by so quickly, but we are thankful for many happy Halloweens and are excited about another fun one TONIGHT!!! Happy Halloween, everyone!!! We have lots to prepare for our Velveteen Rabbit characters: the sick little boy, the nanny, the Velveteen rabbit, the fairy, and the doctor!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Party Favor Ideas

I tell you what, we women have really raised the bar on ourselves. Each passing year we expect more and more of ourselves. A backyard birthday party with sack races isn't good enough any more. People literally hire PARTY PLANNERS for children's birthday parties. When I was little, which was longer ago than I'd like to admit, we went to a party at SKATE RANCH or SKATE TOWN or to someone's home. If the party was at someone's home, it might be a BACKWARDS birthday party or we'd play fun games or we'd dress up and put on make up. My mother would sometimes hire a neighborhood teenager to help. I could invite all of my classmates and friends and we had a great time. Friends brought small gifts to honor the birthday boy or girl. We weren't given the equivalent of a $15-25 gift that is today's standard. Mamas made the cake or if they couldn't cook, they might ask a friend or neighbor. There were no party planners. No tents. No rented tablecloths, tables and chairs. And...... drumroll, please..... THERE WERE NO PARTY FAVORS!!!!! That's right. No party favors.

Today we have raised the bar and you just can't have a birthday party without party favors. Oriental Trading is excited because their plastic junk is selling like crazy!! Parents are desperate for a party favor, so they turn to the catalog and buy a slew of cheap, plastic toys that will break tomorrow and then fill small goodie bags with them. "Thank you for coming to my party" is no longer acceptable. We must lavish gifts on our guests. I am one of the guiltiest of all. I admit it. My name is Mama Henley and I give party favors. However, I try to think of something that is useful and won't break before our guests even make it home. I thought I'd share some ideas with you. What do you like to give for party favors?

-CDs recorded with fun children's music. My friend, B, gave me this idea originally and we used to make CDs together after that. The CDs became family favorites of many of our friends. The idea spread and now others like to make them too. When we had K's ice cream party, I bought some fun new ice cream songs from I Tunes. I try to make the music fit the theme of the party and I always put some fun children's praise songs in there too.

-$2 gift certificate to Baskin Robbins. They have great ice cream!

-free ice cream or french fries from McDonald's. They usually sell packs in the winter and I save them for birthday parties or a cute gift to friends at school

-homemade playdough

-a book from the Scholastic book orders. You help your child's class and can get some bargain books. Each month they have one that is just $1

-in lieu of party favors, make a donation to a charity that helps children and give each child a note detailing how a gift was made to help other children in their honor. My friend, MD, gave to Desire Street Ministry after Hurricane Katrina for her daughter's birthday. Each guest brought home a "helping hand" with a note thanking them for coming to the party and letting them know a gift was given to help children in the 9th ward in their honor.

-a little bag of fun pencils, erasers, or pens is always fun. What child doesn't LOVE school supplies?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

If you're expecting a baby over the holidays....

Our precious angel #5 was due on Christmas Day. While TTC (trying to conceive) in the very very beginning, I had thoughts like, "We certainly don't want a baby due in Nov. or Dec.!" Well, those days of TTC turned into months and those months turned into years. My longing for a baby was so strong that I did not care when my due date was, as long as I could get pregnant and have a baby!! Our triplets were born on Maundy Thursday, the Thursday before Easter. What a gift of life! Baby #4 arrived in the heat of summer on July 28th. I'm not sure a summer due date is desired in the South! We laughed and were thrilled to learn that baby #5 was due on Christmas Day. My attitude had changed from not wanting a Nov. or Dec. baby to seeing how truly special it is to have a newborn around the time of Jesus' birth. It certainly puts everything in perspective and makes you truly realize what Christmas is all about: Our Savior's birth.

Along with all of that joy is a little bit of panic. "How will we have Christmas? What if I am not at home with our other children on Christmas morning? How will I prepare? Oh. My. Goodness. We are having a Christmas baby! What do we do!???!!!"

As an organizer by nature, there are some things that helped make Christmas 2006 our most relaxed and enjoyable ever. It was a very sweet Christmas, and one where I was not stressed or hurried or caught up in the wrong things. If you're expecting a baby in November, December, or January, here are some ideas that might help you!

-Shop NOW if you haven't started already. Go ahead and buy everyone's Christmas gifts and then WRAP them. Yes, you need to go ahead and wrap them.

-If having a baby is changing your family's 2 income status, buy less expensive gifts and fewer ones if possible. This is not the Christmas to impress everyone with your buying power. I may be wrong, but I think our family members really like the wonderful calendars I make on our Mac. They are filled with pictures taken throughout the year plus all of the special dates for birthdays, anniversaries, and other occasions to be remembered.

-If this is not your first baby, buy something small for the baby to "give" your older children when they come to the hospital to meet the new baby. Again, expense is not necessary. Baby #5 gave each of her older siblings a new can of playdough. They were thrilled and I spent all of $2.

-Charge your cameras now. Buy new batteries. If your camera is old, ask for an early Christmas present.

-Have Christmas cards printed now, as I mentioned in a previous post. Baby needs his or her own birth announcement. Waiting to send Christmas cards puts more pressure on you. If you are making a combo announcement/Christmas card, then you will be anxious about getting them out quickly. If you have already sent Christmas cards, your birth announcement can follow whenever you are ready to do it with no pressure on timing.

-Make gifts for neighbors, teachers, and friends in early November and go ahead and deliver them. Tell them you are thankful for them, and thus, their gift is arriving in November.

-Give to a favorite charity in lieu of gifts. We gave to the American Cancer Society in honor of all of our friends the year my father in law had cancer and died 1 week before Christmas. I sent postcards to all of our friends acknowledging what we had done in their honor.

-Buy your children's gifts now and don't worry about last minute changes on what they really want. They will love whatever you give them!

-If anyone needs new clothes for Christmas parties, etc., buy them now. Make sure everyone has shoes that fit.

-Buy your Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving and go ahead and decorate it.

-Decorate with minimal decorations so that you are not having to take down a lot of stuff with a newborn and a tired body!!

-With our move last year, we just used our Christmas cards as our ornaments!

-Buy some white cardstock and a pad of ink for baby's first hand and foot prints in the hospital.

-Make a list of who to call/email when baby is born.

-If you have older children at home, sit down and write out your weekly schedule. Make a "this happens every week copy". Then, go ahead and write out your schedule for the 2-3 weeks leading up to your due date. I did this and not only did it help those who had to take over when I went to the hospital, but it kept me on track leading up to baby's birthday! Include things on the schedule such as "make lunches before you go to bed and put them in the refrigerator overnight" or "Make sure children have their folder in their backpack before they go to bed" to help caretakers as much as possible.

-Keep up with your laundry.

-Sit back and relax and enjoy Christmas because you have prepared so well!! And... you have a NEWBORN blessing!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tuesday's Tip

Do you hate those awful red stains on your tupperware? Spaghetti and chili can leave red stains on plastic. Other foods leave stains too. It is best to use glass or BPA free plastic for storing your leftovers. If you use plastic, there is a trick to keeping it clean! My friend, B, sprays Pam in her containers before adding the food. It helps cut down on food stains! What is your Tuesday's Tip?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Tonight our son said he might like to work at Disney when he's a teenager. We told him that was a great idea and maybe he could spend a summer working at the park. I asked him what he'd like to do, and he said, "Maybe help people or run the rides or be a character or something like that."
One of his sisters said, "Yeah! And you can give us free tickets and stuff."
Big brother replied, "I'll have to learn the rules, K. I can't just give away stuff to my family!! You just can't give it all away."
I love his honesty and hope he never changes!

Cooking on the Cheap

I love to cook. It's easy for meals to become more expensive than eating out if you are buying premium ingredients, good meat, and fresh produce. As much as I enjoy cooking, I love a challenge and I love to challenge myself. This works in all areas except for exercise! When the triplets were new babies, and then when we had a fourth baby two years later, I found myself throwing away food that had rotted before I prepared it. I had grand intentions, but you know what they say about good intentions! I would plan meals for our family, buy the ingredients, and then not have the time or energy to prepare the food. When you are overwhelmed, something has to give. Now I am taking over that area of my life and cooking dinner almost every night. I have been doing this for at least 9 months and it feels good. I cooked more than many of my friends in the past, but now I am cooking a lot more. Lately I have been challenging myself to make our food stretch. It's okay to eat leftovers.

On Sunday night, I cooked spaghetti. The meat was on sale for $1.99 a pound, so I bought more than one package and freezed some. When I make spaghetti, I cook the ground beef and an onion. Then I add a store bought sauce like Ragu traditional or whatever I found on sale. I also add parsley flakes, basil, Italian seasoning, and any other spice that strikes my fancy. I let it simmer and then serve it over angel hair pasta. This is one of the meals almost all of the children enjoy. Sunday night I added 2 bottles of sauce. Sometimes I just use plain tomato sauce and spice it up with spices. Alas, the more sauce you add, the more your spaghetti sauce will stretch. We had a lot leftover, so I put it in a container in the refrigerator. I took our leftover noodles and placed them in a ziploc bag. The next night we had a fabulous dinner at a friend's house. So, last night I made baked spaghetti. It was the easiest dinner ever! I took the noodles and mixed them with one egg to coat the noodles. This way they don't stick together and make a nice bottom to your casserole. I covered the noodles with the sauce. The sauce was even better after sitting in the refrigerator for 2 days. I topped the sauce with shredded cheddar cheese. Then, I baked the casserole at 350*F for about 20-30 minutes until the cheese melted and it was warm. We had a delicious, economical dinner for a second night on less than $3 of meat, $2 of sauce (it had been buy 1, get one free), and $1 of noodles! I was so proud of our bargain dinner. How do you make meals stretch?

Friday, October 23, 2009

The picture says it all

I asked the children to decorate their own lunch bags since we needed disposable ones today. I peeked in the refrigerator to make sure every bag had what it needed. I found this:

A little self-confidence never hurt anyone, right? I love it!

We love being triplets!

Don't you think it must be so FUN to be a triplet? I sure do!! Our trio always has a friend, a playmate, or a target. They can experience life together. Our son now has his own room. Sometimes he will ask if he can have a sister sleep with him because he gets lonely. I understand. He LOVES those girls!! Tonight he came downstairs with a surprise bloody nose. I told him I didn't care, but did it get on his just-out-of-the-dryer clean sheets? His response was, "You know how I get lonely? Well, I was actually in the girls' room instead of my bed." I did not discourage him. I understood. There is just something special about being a TRIPLET!!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Out of the Mouths of babes

"Mommy, I'm scared. The air is scary in der."

"What do you mean, H? Let me see." We walked into our friend's guest bath to see what air was scary. It was the fan. H was afraid of the fan.

"It's okay, Hurricane H, it's just the fan."

H replied, "I scared of da air. It's scary. Jesus is in my heart."

"Yes, sweetie, He is. You don't need to be scared."

I thought it was so sweet to hear her say those words as if she was able to comfort herself by reminding herself that Jesus is in her heart. What a sweet girl! Love you, Hurricane!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Christmas Shopping Tip

Having four girls and a boy is lots of fun! Having triplets as part of the 5 is even more fun. We love it. However, it can be tricky on birthdays and at Christmas. We have to carefully plan in order to manage the number of toys that come into our home and the amount of money we spend on Christmas too. It is way too easy to be out of control, especially when you LOVE giving gifts like I do. Our 3 oldest girls LOVE their American Girl dolls. Our family rule is that you have to be six to have your first doll. Our 2 oldest girls are now 8, and our K received Kit when she turned 6 this summer. With a 2 1/2 year old sister to boot, we are a DOLL HAPPY family. We love dolls. We have dolls of all shapes and sizes. So, our 3 big girls are just salivating over the American girl doll beds. I agree; they are fabulous. They are also fabulously expensive. The girls are going to ask Santa for a doll bed, which means THREE expensive doll beds. In comes Ikea to the rescue. We visited as a family this summer and I pointed out their nice wooden doll beds for $19.99, not $109.99. I told the girls we could paint them. And it worked. All 3 are now asking for the Ikea wooden doll bed which can be painted in their favorite colors WITH their doll's monogram, per their request. I mean, no doll bed is complete without the doll's monogram. For Pete's sake, Emily Bennett needs her monogram on her headboard! By golly, Santa is not going to hesitate on this request. In fact, I heard his elves are already contemplating how to paint the beds! If you have a little girl, check out the Ikea doll beds!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Box of Birthday Blessings

I am being a VERY good friend to you, dear readers, because I don't love to share my sources. I mean, a girl's gotta have some secrets. Paper products have always been a fetish of mine. I LOVE them. I heart paper of all shapes and sizes, preppy paper, conservative paper, French paper, Cranes paper, cardstock, etc etc and so forth. I just love some paper!! My family knows I can always use more cute stationary and that I will in fact, use it. So, the secret is this.... preppy paper girl. That's right. PREPPY PAPER GIRL. She is a find, a true jewel. She is every paper lover's dream... cute paper, fun fonts, and quick service with good prices. I want to keep her a secret so that I can keep buying my goodies from her, but alas, I think you should know about her too.

One of my best friends just turned 40. What do you give a friend who turns 40? I mean, poor thing, she is FORTY! I am totally kidding... Seriously, how do you love on a friend who has been more than a friend to you? Who can make you laugh uncontrollably and think seriously all in one conversation? How do you say, "Happy Birthday" to a close friend who loves you like a sister? I have been on a quest to find unique and special gifts for my best friends as they turn 40. I'll tell you about the first three gifts I bought another time. Right now we're talking about Preppy Paper Girl. I love her blog. One day I read about the Blessing Box. I sort of dismissed the title. I've bought a cute box of blessings for the dinner table in the past. It was really cute until too many glasses of milk and who-knows-what-else were spilled on it. Then those blessings hit the trash can. So, I wasn't interested in another box like that. But herein lies another secret: this box is different. I contacted friends and family of the birthday girl and asked them to email me 3 words to describe our friend and how she has blessed their lives. Y'ALL. This is the SWEETEST gift! I emailed those words to Laurie and she printed them in cute fonts and cute colors on cute cards and put them in a cute, happy, preppy box. She then mailed it to me so I could hand deliver it. Before I did that, I took a peek. This is where the sweet part comes in. The words ML's friends wrote were precious. Inspiring. Thought-provoking. Loving. And so I had a good ole cry reading precious words that weren't even about me!!! It turned out to be a better gift than I ever dreamed it would be. ML says she has read the words from her friends over and over again. She loves it. So, if you need a unique gift idea for someone you love dearly, you have one now!! It would be a sweet gift for a teacher, a parent, a big anniversary, etc. Be creative!! And enjoy Preppy Paper girl!

Tuesday's Tip... Teacher Gifts

My friend, W, is a genius. She knows exactly how to love on the people in her life. For her son's teacher's birthday, she has collected items for a wonderful gift basket. Each student in the class was invited to send in items to fill a special gift basket. I didn't get to look at it closely, but it looked like the basket contained a large jar of chocolate covered almonds (the teacher's favorite), pasta sauce, fun pasta, etc. It was a very nice large rectangular basket that was overflowing with goodies. Since each student could send in an item or two, no one family should have been over-burdened. I think this was a great way for everyone to pamper their teacher on her special day! What gifts do you like to give your teachers?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Out of the Mouths of babes

Our children attend a wonderful private school. Unfortunately, private schools have tuition, which was something new to get used to upon our moved here. Last week a notice was sent home saying that children can buy a Chick Fil A lunch every Tuesday if they would like to do so. However, you have to go ahead and commit and pre-pay for all 12 weeks. Each meal is about $4 x 12 weeks x 4 children = $192. I decided that I will happily bring them a surprise lunch every once in a while, but that this was not a wise expense on my part, so we declined. The children did not complain like I thought they would. No one begged for Chick Fil A, even though they LOVE it. They understood.

Tonight our sweet friend announced, "Woo Hoo! Tomorrow is Chick Fil A day!!" Dh & I laughed and said, "Not for us!" DH is hilarious & made us all laugh with his funny comments. Our precious son said, "We got new sweaters instead!!" Be still my beating heart. What a sweet boy.... the new sweaters to which he is referring are REQUIRED school logo sweaters, not some fun new outfit!! I love his grateful heart and wish I was more like him!!!

Someone please END THE TREND!!!!!

There is a trend sweeping through America, or at least Florida, of women sporting tramp stamps. A tramp stamp is a tattoo on your backside that many believe is ultra sexy. Personally, I find them repulsive and it makes me so sad to see a beautiful young woman with an ugly tattoo that will never fade away. I had no idea Saturday Night Live felt the same way until I saw the video below on Facebook. I had planned this post last night & then someone posted the video today!! Please END THE TREND of back tattoos!!!!

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

I've been tagged!

I just love Entertaining House. She is forthcoming and open and funny. She tagged me and I tried to answer in one word!!

I will tag 6 people and those 6 will have to tag 6 more... you can use only one word answers.

1. Where is your cell phone? pocketbook

2. Your hair? brown

3. Your mother? pretty

4. Your father? hilarious

5. Your favorite food? Mi Cocina

6. Your dream last night? scary

7. Your favorite drink? Diet Pepsi

8. Your dream/goal? children

9. What room are you in? living room

10. Your hobby? traveling/writing

11. Your fear? death of a loved one (had to use more than one word)

12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? where God wants me!

13. Where were you last night? date

14. Something that you aren’t? thin

15. Muffins? blueberry

16. Wish list item? space

17. Where did you grow up? Raleigh!

18. Last thing you did? folded

19. What are you wearing? pajamas!

20. Your TV? husband

21. Your pets? Bitsy

22. Friends? Wonderful!

23. Your life? Fulfilling

24. Your mood? happy

25. Missing someone? everyone!

26. Vehicle? Honda Odyssey.... love it!

27. Something you’re not wearing? watch

28. Your favorite store? Dallas

29. Your favorite color? lavender

30. When was the last time you laughed? today

31. Last time you cried? today

32. Your best friend? love them!!!

33. One place that I go to over and over? Publix!

34. One person who emails me regularly? Doug

35. Favorite place to eat? Do you have to ask? MI COCINA!!!!!!!!!

I tag 400 Square Feet, PREPPY PAPER GIRL, Mommy Talk & More, Pink Green & Southern, Pearls & Grace, The B Family Blog

Saturday, October 17, 2009

FALL!!!!! We can't believe it!!

It's amazing that a 10* difference in degrees makes it feel like FALL here in Florida, even though the temp still hovered around 80*. AHHHH the cooler air, breezes, and lower humidity were a welcome change. Everyone in town was outside enjoying the goodness called fall and breaking out the fleeces, lightweight sweaters, and jeans. It was a GREAT day!

This morning we enjoyed a Fall Festival at Hyde Park. All of the shops offered Trick or Treating, and the children loved trick or treating from store to store. Pottery Barn Kids had the CUTEST melamine pumpkin plates and plastic turkey tumblers. Adorable. We visited the small pumpkin patch and took some pictures. I love that our children enjoy dressing alike. When I told them we were going to a festival, they all chose to dress in orange to match. I have to say it was quite adorable and made great pictures. I hope they never decide to quit dressing in the same color for pictures! It also made it much easier to keep up with them in the massive crowd.

When we returned home, the children played outside until DH came home from watching the game with a friend. He took our K outside to help her to learn to ride her bike without training wheels. She did it!! We all watched and celebrated. I love our FLIP ULTRA because I was able to quickly record her historical moment!

The children did not want to buy our pumpkins without their Daddy, so we will do that another day. It was a glorious FALL day with the family. It really lifted my spirits!! Happy Fall, y'all!

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate?

What are your thoughts on the swine flu vaccine? Forty-three children have already died from swine flu. This is the equivalent of the number of deaths in an entire regular flu season. However, most of the cases of children we know who have had swine flu have been relatively mild for the flu. I am leaning towards giving the children the vaccine, but I wonder what other mothers are thinking? Will you please take time to comment and discuss?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Flu Season Preparation

It's that time of year again!! Many of you, such as The Entertaining House, have already tackled the flu or swine flu. Thankfully, we have been pretty well at Mama Henley's house. Announcing that on my blog now guarantees sick and fatigued children this afternoon or tomorrow morning! Since we have been relatively well, I decided it was time to prepare for the inevitable. You may want to do the same. It's time to stock up on tissues, Gatorade, ginger ale, Diet Pepsi and Diet Dew (for ME!), saltine crackers, ibuprofen, benadryl, Sudafed, detergent, Lysol spray and cleaner, and perhaps a new DVD or two for your children's viewing pleasure. HoodMama Mel needs to stock up on Diet Coke & Milk Duds, and if you have a favorite candy, go ahead & fill the arsenal. Then, while you're sitting at home loving on your sick little ones, you can address those Christmas cards that you ordered this week. And if you're like KK at Pink, Green, and Southern, you can crank out some more cute monogrammed outfits for your own little priss. You'll be so prepared you won't know what to do with your sassy self!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Coupon Binder

I have been meaning to update on my new coupon binder. I just LOVE it. It is fantastic!! You may remember that I bought a 1-1/2 inch three-ring binder and filled it with dividers and clear baseball card pages (can be found at Walmart or Target). The notebook is lavender, my favorite color that makes me oh-so-happy. The dividers are also fun pastel colors so that I delight in using this thing to save money. I have about 30 different sections including Beverages (Fl has coupons for LIQUOR!), Baking, Baby, Cleaning, Drug Items, Shampoo/Soaps, Laundry, Pasta, Rice, Canned Goods, Dairy, Meats, Meds, Frozen Foods, etc. Within the Drug Items section, for example, I have sheets divided into toothpaste & brushes, razors, etc. It is so simple to compare costs of items with my new coupon binder. I have been saving even more lately as I double store coupons from Target or Publix with manufacturer's coupons. I am saving well over $20-40 each time I shop. I have not figured out how to get free milk or produce, but I have gotten some other freebies and even earned a few cents here and there! If you're considering a coupon binder, I say go for it!!!

I use this binder even when shopping with our 2 year old. I sit it in the cart beside her or behind her and save away!

How to make your multiples feel special....

As a mother of triplets, I fall into the trap of lumping them together as a unit. In many ways, that is what they are. However, they are also three very special individuals. Mothers of multiples must do everything they can to embrace their individuality and to encourage it. However, having multiples means your hands are very full. There are little things you can do to make your children feel special.

-Use errand time on the weekends as a time for each child to have time alone with Mama or Daddy. At our house, there are no strict rules and we don't keep a chart, but if DH is going to Lowe's, he'll choose a child to ride with him for "special time".

-Embrace the days you have with one sick child at home. My tendency is to use days at home to organize, clean, and cook while checking in on the sick child when it's convenient. Make yourself spend time with your child FIRST and then spend time doing your chores.

-Take all of the duplicate copies of photos and make an album of pictures of each individual child. Now that most people have a digital camera, you may not have duplicates of photos. If not, then use your Mac or Shutterfly or Snapfish and create a photo book of each individual child. My friend, MD, does this for her three children who are not multiples. Each year on their birthday they receive a book of their little life over the last year. What a keepsake!

-I have taken the doubles of our old photos and made photo albums for each child. They LOVE to look at themselves and have looked at these photo albums countless times more than I have looked at mine. I know they will treasure them forever!

-Prayerfully consider godparents for your children. Godparents share their love for the Lord with your children and can send them individual postcards or letters or just be a presence in their lives.

-As I've mentioned before, keep a journal for each child and let them know how you delight in them.

-Print pictures of them individually and together. Put these around your home.

-Assign each child a color when they are babies. This becomes part of their identity. To this day, friends know our trips as the lavender, pink, or green/blue baby. They used to be given gifts in these colors.

-Delight in their individual interests and allow each child to pursue one. It's great for them to do activities together, but if one child loves golf, let him do it. Five of us sit in a hot park while A takes his golf lessons each week. It's a good lesson that we all sacrifice our time for one another.

-Find bits of time to sit on each child's bed, hold them in your lap, read to them, cook with them, play with them, etc. Sometimes you have to work really hard to find just a few minutes with a child by themselves, but it is so worth it!

-Write them encouraging notes that highlight their individual personality.

-When the triplets were four, we took each of them on their own trip with at least one parent. It worked out that D went to Dallas with DH and me, A went with his Daddy to meet his uncle in Portland, Oregon, and CP went with me to see old friends in Memphis. To this day, they will recall events from those trips FOUR YEARS AGO. CP remembers running through the airport, Ash remembers changing planes & flying for a long time, and DJ still talks about our friend's son being sick. Those trips made a BIG impression. I hope we can do it again in the future. Little sis K went with her daddy to Baton Rouge to visit family last year. It's fun to do trips with just 1 or 2 children, and day trips or afternoon excursions work too!

-Most of all, love your multiples, delight in who each one is, and enjoy them!!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Christmas Cards

If you want to have one less worry in December, now is the time to work on your Christmas cards. Yes, I really did just say that. NOW is the time to work on your Christmas cards. If you do, then come December when your friends are fretting over the 1001st picture they have taken of their children that STILL WON'T work, you will sit back, smile slyly, and think to yourself, "Mama Henley was right. It IS better to do your Christmas cards early." I am telling ya, ladies, it's much easier to do it now than to procrastinate.

My friend, ML, makes fantastic homemade cards every year. I heart them. They have ribbons that match the cards that match the outfits her three model children are wearing in the verycoolpicture. My friend, B, has always outdone herself from year to year with one card more creative than the next. She found a great printer who does black and white photo cards on white paper that are tri-folded and oh-so-fun. Because of B, we've had those cards twice. MD & C have had fun collage Christmas cards where you can see all of the fun things their families did in the last year. Drew & Jay (they're men & I know they don't read my blog, so I'll just use their names, for Heaven's sake!) both are FANTASTIC witty letter writers & I used to love it when they'd write a letter about the past year. Sadly, neither of them do it anymore. I loved those updates. If I did not mention you, this does not mean you don't have great Christmas cards!! I am writing quickly & thinking off the cuff, okay? Last year M waited until after a fabulous trip to Germany over Thanksgiving because she knew she'd have an ohsoperfectpicture from the trip. It's okay if you need to wait for something like that. If not, get going, girls!

Snapfish is offering 35% off orders before November 2nd. For every 75 cards (I think) you buy from Shutterfly, they'll throw in another 50 for free. FOR FREE. If you use the code SHIP40 then you don't have to pay shipping on large orders. Tiny Prints and others also have precious cards.

You'll be so happy you listened & put those babies on the front porch and snapped their picture in all of October's glory when December rolls around and you get to focus on baking and loving your family and shopping instead of Christmas cards!! Next time, I'll show you what I have done with my Christmas cards because of B's brilliant idea.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Saying Goodbye

My wonderful parents just visited for the last six days. Sadly it was time for them to go home today. We had a great time together exploring hot Florida, antique stores, and just being together at our house. After everyone went to school, they packed up to go home. As they left, the three of us cried. It is very difficult to say goodbye and to live so far away. I love our new friends, new home, and new church, but I still miss home. When flying this past weekend, I looked at the flights to Raleigh to see if our flight was on time before realizing I do not live there. That realization is tough sometimes. New friends, I adore you. You are already making me a better person through your godliness and kindness. My being sad is not a reflection on you all at all. It's just that I left my parents, my brothers, my sisters-in-law, my only niece, my neighbors, my childhood friends, and my "newer" friends of the last 10 years. And some days it really hurts. When I leave old friends or visitors leave our house, it is difficult. Today was one of those days.

But God is with me. He is molding me here in Florida to make me a better person (I should be a skinnier person with the constant sauna we live in!). He is giving me fabulous new friendships. He is giving our children the best education they have ever received. DH is in an amazing, challenging new job. Life is great. But it's okay to cry.

Tuesday's Tip

I love a notebook. I love to be organized. One of my favorite ways to be organized is my gift notebook. I have one spiral notebook that is completely dedicated to Gift Giving and Receiving. In this notebook, I try to write down birthday, new baby, wedding, and Christmas gifts as I give them. I often use it to write down gifts our children receive at their birthday parties as well. It is so nice to look in one place to know if we have already given my brother and sister-in-law too many sets of placemats or if we gave our neighbors a birdfeeder last year so they don't need a new one. I find I have gift-giving trends. If I have given all new babies in one family my favorite Nancy Doodles pillow (she doesn't make them anymore), then I need to continue the trend in that family. You get the idea. So, buy a notebook & start buying and writing it down because Christmas is just 8 weeks away! Merry Merry!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Make new friends, but keep the old...

What is it about old friends that we all love? Is it the ease of conversation, the realization that the passage of time has proven they're not going to desert us now, or the joy of reliving old stories? When the triplets were born, our lives became a bit overwhelming. It was all we could do to get DH to finish his MBA while working full-time and to feed three hungry little angels every 3-4 hours. By the time they were active toddlers, a new baby was on the way. Travel was limited and so we went years without seeing many of our favorite people. This is not because we didn't want to see them, it was simply because our home life was very demanding and wonderful at the same time. I often miss those sweet days with no preschool or school to attend and plenty of time to paint a picture or play in the yard or snuggle and read books. Of course we still do those things, but many times they take place on weekends due to the school day hours. DH & I went years without seeing many of you, our sweet old friends. Friendships that have stood the test of time are so wonderful and important. Thankfully we are finally starting to be able to see some old friends again. Our time is still limited, and we don't always get to see everyone we'd like to see in a town like Atlanta or Dallas, but we're starting to have opportunities for quick visits, hugs, and laughs. We just returned from such a trip to Dallas.

Dh & I were married in 1995 and I moved to Dallas, Texas, to join my new husband in a new life out west. We lived in Irving, TX for the first year and then moved into Dallas. We made lifelong friends during our 3 years in Dallas. Those first years of marriage are such a great time to make new friends. While new jobs are demanding, you have a lot of flexibility in the evenings and on weekends and plenty of time to cultivate new friendships. That is exactly what we did. Most of these friends are not just "Christmas Card friends" but friends we consider to be some of our closest friends. We made more close friends when we moved to Raleigh in 1998 and still didn't have any children. So, it was high time to see some of these dear friends. Delta offered a cheap fare and we bought 2 tickets for the quickest trip ever to DFW. We didn't have time to see all of our old friends as we would have enjoyed, but we visited with our 3 closest families and had a ball. We laughed and reminisced and just enjoyed time together.

Now we live away from our dear Raleigh friends too. It has been years since we have seen some of our college friends. I love our new friends in Tampa, and am enjoying getting to know them better and better. Making new friends has made me desire to reconnect with old friends too. So, if you are one of those old friends, watch out!! My next airfare deal may be a trip to see YOU!! And, if you have lost touch with old friends, spend the next month reconnecting. Write an email or send a handwritten letter (my favorite) or pick up the phone and give them a call.

When DH's sweet Daddy died we were amazed that old friends drove all the way from Texas to Macon, Georgia just for the funeral and visitation. One of them was fighting cancer and they were in their 70s, but they came to say goodbye to their old friend. A relationship with the Lord, then a strong family relationship, and then your friends are what life is all about. I know I'm waxing sentimental, but reach out to those old friends!!!! I sure do love mine!!!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Restaurant BT

If you're visiting Tampa, Florida, then you need to try Restaurant BT. You will delight in their wonderful French Vietnamese creations. Every item is made with extreme delicacy. Each bite is more delicious than the last, and the presentation is fabulous. Due to the poor economy, they have introduced a bar bites menu. I love it!! You can order small bites for $2, $4, $6, and $8. The chili chicken salad and tuna tai chan were fantastic!!!!! I also enjoyed my bites of pumpkin soup in coconut milk and the galangal chicken brochette (chicken on a skewer). My fellow patrons enjoyed salmon and lamb. Everything was perfect!! The restaurant has an uptown feel so that you feel you are dining in New York. The servers are predominately internationals, and so you will enjoy their wonderful accents and service. Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Procter & Gamble Update

My freebie coupons did arrive as promised! I will get to enjoy some Tide to Go stain remover, some Puffs tissues, and one more P & G item (sorry, "it's late" as our 2 year old says). So, Proctor & Gamble DOES stand behind its products!! It's nice to know that they take customer satisfaction seriously.

I will post pics soon of the first roasted chicken I made in our fancy new roasting pan. LOVE It!

Tuesday's Tip

Do you struggle with what to pack in your child's lunch? I love to take Gogurts and individual applesauce and put them in the freezer. Then, I put them in the children's lunch boxes right before they leave for school. By lunch time, these treats are still cold! Our children also love to eat the frozen Gogurt at home as a quick snack. I also freeze them and take them to Disneyworld or as a snack while one child has an activity. What Tuesday's Tip do you have?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Roasting pan

A new friend recently made us some fantastic barbecue which she cooked overnight in her wonderful All-Clad Roasting pan. Thus began my search for a roasting pan so that our chickens, turkeys, and pork can be roasted in a real roasting pan rather than a brownie pan!! So... I would love to know what kind of roasting pan you have. Do you love it? Would you buy it again? I have found the All Clad pan, and may buy it, but I wanted to ask around first. So, please, comment away. My sweet DH said he would really love it if he came home to the smell of a roasting chicken with rosemary. Help me love my man!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Henley on the Horn Strikes again!

This summer while DH & I vacationed at the FABULOUS Half Moon Bay Resort in Jamaica, I had some good ole Pringles from the mini bar. These single serving size Pringles were a mere $4. Imagine my dismay when I took a big bite of my first chip only to taste something TERRIBLE. In fact, it was so terrible, I had to spit out the chip. It was a taste I could not get out of my mouth, a very strong, odorous taste. DH thought I was crazy because I kept the can with the nasty chips and I brought it home with me on the plane that day instead of throwing it away. When we arrived home, I called Proctor and Gamble and reported my foul-tasting chips. They asked me to send the chips to them for further examination, and then they sent me a check for $4 to cover the cost of the bad chips. Fast forward several weeks... today I received a letter that explained that the chips had not been tampered with (I swore they had drugs in them! I'm not dramatic AT ALL), but that the pop top had the wrong date on it and the chips were indeed STALE. The letter went on to say that I should receive coupons for some complimentary P&G products in the next 7-10 days. Hopefully that will really happen. Why am I telling you this story? To encourage you, the consumer, to never be afraid to call the company if a product isn't what you thought it was going to be. It's okay to call and it's wonderful to have your money refunded. I will continue to buy Proctor and Gamble products because of the way they handled this mishap. Happy Saturday!! If you have a problem and need help correcting it, call Henley on the Horn!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Larsen's Fish Market on Martha's Vineyard

Martha's Vineyard is home to so many wonderful restaurants. One of our favorite things to do there is to eat on the docks behind Larsen's Fish Market. Larsen's sells fresh seafood right out of the sea caught by local fisherman whose families have lived in Menemsha for many, many years. Some are descendants of the whaling families who first inhabited Martha's Vineyard. Larsen's is a fish market, not a restaurant. You can order a stuffed quahog or crab cake or lobster bisque or steamed lobster and eat it right out back on the dock while fishermen bring in more delicacies from the sea. The sky is the bluest blue and the breeze is perfect. So, next time you visit Martha's Vineyard, you MUST go to Larsen's!

You can choose seafood out of the case and take it home or have it steamed to eat right that minute.

Go behind the building to eat your delicious finds!

The lobster bisque was particularly wonderful! I liked it better than the clam chowder.

DH couldn't wait to take a bite! YUM!!!

The fishing boats are right behind Larsen's and you can see them unload the freshest catch! I love taking pictures in Menemsha.

Our fabulous group with happy tummies!!! We had enjoyed a true New England lunch!

DH & I heart Larsen's!!! What a fabulous weekend!

Potty Training

Potty training is no easy chore unless your child trains himself, like our CP did. Otherwise, you will deal with many small accidents and tears. Thankfully Gerber created the perfect underwear for potty training! We love their cotton training pants. It is underwear that is much thicker than the ones with Dora or the Disney princesses on them. They actually hold some wetness and eliminate some "spills". Plus, I think they're pretty cute too! H loves her floral and pink ones. So, if you are potty training, check out your local Target for some Gerber training pants. They are in the section with the Gerber onesies, t-shirts, and wash cloths. You'll be glad you did!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Character Building Books

Do you like your children to read books that build character? I do! I feel like today's books often do not teach the same values of books written in the 19th and early to mid-20th century. I LOVE Landmark biographies and devoured them as a young reader. One of my current favorites to read to our passel of little girls is "Little Susy Stories" by Elizabeth Prentiss. It is sold on for over $140!!! However, I found it $7.00 at the Grace and Truth website by clicking here. It would make a perfect gift for a little girl you love, even if she is older than Little Susy!! I think all elementary aged girls would love these delightful stories. What books do you love for your children?