Busy Days of Summer!

Summer time is here and we are making the most of it! It's not all being spent pool side just yet, since I can't take four small kids anywhere with water more than ankle deep unless we have four dedicated adults for each child. Though we had swim lessons last year and hope to have a few more this year, we'll have four little fishies soon! (One of my best friends who just happens to be the head coach for my synchronized swim team, The Pirouettes of Texas, teaches the quads and she's amazing! She does private lessons all over the DFW area, by the way...)

However, when dada is around who needs swim suits?! Clothes and an impromptu water hose sprinkler work just as well. This was the scene I walked out to in the middle of cooking dinner tonight—which was a delicious cilantro lime salmon I'll be sharing soon! This weekend's plans include a family trip to our favorite local splash pad that the kids absolutely love and I enjoy as well, especially the tan lines that come with each visit. Last time I took the quads, they came home and napped for just over three hours!! Praying for a repeat of that?! You bet!

Life has stayed busy lately, but it's not the typical feeling of having too much to do or that things have been chaotic. It's more a result of the quads having a busy little social schedule to keep up with—including two days of summer camp each week, which has been a fantastic investment for both them and us as parents! It gives me two wonderful, much-needed opportunities each week to do things unencumbered while providing a fun, learning, friend-filled environment for the kids. And they really enjoy their teachers, too, who are so sweet and light up every time they see the quad squad coming down the hall to class! The camp is hosted by the same school the kids go to, which is at our church. They've done a lot of fun things already for summer, including a petting zoo right outside their class rooms!

The husband and I have had a chance to get out and be social ourselves, like attending a friend's birthday at a local brewery then picking up the kids later to join them at their home for dinner and lots of play time. And I'm not just talking about the little guys. Both dad's got in on some basketball mini-hoop action. ;)

When we're not out and about, the quads stay plenty occupied (and equally as entertaining) at home. The other day, Kailey got her purse, jewelry, baby, play keys and a pair of mama's tall wedges and announced to me she was ready to go! That's my girl...

Speaking of my pretty girls, look at Logan's hair!! It's gotten so long and continues to become even more voluminous and beautiful. That girl has the perfect curls! She wakes up in the morning and shakes her head back and forth to make her hair swing around like a little super model, and it seriously looks like it's been completely styled. Envious!

Bedtime reading has always been a favorite event around our house, but even more so since I scored the collection of Bear Books at Costco. The Bear Snores On is the kids' absolute favorite and they can quote many of the lines from it. I also rotate in fresh books from the library, like a few Disney princess tomes that the girls were super excited about. And their sweet dada read every word...

And on evenings that dada works super later, four little munchkins somehow wind up in bed with momma for a little Mickey Mouse to end the day. Can't say I don't mind the extra snuggles!

It quickly became even more important to us to maintain a close connection to family when we found out we were expecting quadruplets. We were very blessed to find a new home we love (which this weekend marks our two year anniversary in it!) after four dreadful months of apartment life.  And it was just like we'd hoped it be—we live close to both sets of our parents, who help us out with the kids all the time and we're all able to be involved in each other's lives on a regular basis! No afraid to work hard for what we want, the husband and I took on the giant task of relocating from Houston to the Dallas area with four babies in tow; worked even harder to find the right house in the right part of town; and we make sure visits go both ways as we like to get out and see people and don't always expect people to come to us! My mom watched the kids so I could get to a doctor appointment and since it was Tuesday, which is art day at her house, each one of them got to add a few swipes of paint to her Santa Clause oil painting she's been working on. Kailey even sat with Ruth Ann, my step-dad's sister-in-law, and quietly watched her paint. Bam Bam does not often sit still and peaceful! Art can definitely have a calming, focusing effect.

I'm just so glad that the kids get such a variety of experiences on a regular basis, and are also regularly around the family and friends nearest and dearest to us. Another prime example is my longtime friend Jo Ann, who is affectionately referred to as JoJo by the quads, and her husband, daughter and baby boy. I've been sick off and on (mostly on) for about a month, ever since I had strep at the end of May. Another virus had taken hold this past week and I was really feeling down for the count. Without any prompting or fan fare, JoJo said she and the kids would be heading over first thing Monday to watch the quads and take care of meals, naps and all so I could rest. I literally dozed in bed for about five hours while they were here and it helped so much! I truly think it enabled to finally start to turn the corner—in addition to my visit to my doctor the next day that entailed a steroid shot—and I am happy to report I'm officially on the mend. God has always delivered on His promise not to give me more than I can bear, and always has angels ready to go right when I need help the most!

As my overall health improves, I'm still battling with some severe foot pain and am now wearing these not-so-fashionable arch supports on both feet when I'm walking a lot. This will help in the interim until time for a small procedure on each foot to get rid of some scar tissue that's causing my ligaments to not be able to fully stretch out, hence the pain. I'll be sharing more details on all that as things get worked out—it's alway something! I have been recovering from my quad pregnancy ever since those babies were delivered and it's definitely been quite the journey as it took a huge toll.

But for now, we're focused on a long holiday weekend and the fact that the husband is off work Friday and the 4th will be the quads first time to witness fireworks! They're night owls just like their parents so we aren't worried about them making it late enough to see the sparkling nighttime show, and they are completely stoked about it. At school on Thursday, they made a firework craft with paint and glitter, which as only fueled the excitement! To kick off the extended weekend, we had a family movie night complete with popcorn and lots of cozy blankets.

I appreciate you sticking with me and following along with us on Texas Tales! This summer, I am working on a whole new design for the blog, new categories and more frequent posts and will also be hosting a couple fun giveaways as well as launching a special series of guest posts featuring some close friends of mine. So stick with us, and happy 4th weekend!
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Leaving my 20s Behind...

I knew the day would come. I mean, it's inevitable anyway. Every year, each of us ages another 365 days and adds a new digit to our numerical category. This year, however, was a bit more than just ticking off another year gone by on the calendar. I begrudgingly left my 20s behind and turned 30 years old!

The party was fantastic, just my style. We went to The Rustic, a restaurant and outdoor venue with a small stage for live concerts, owned by country music artist Pat Green. Lots of beer was consumed, along with a few tequila shots and some delicious chocolate cake.

I made hand stamped necklace favors for all my girls that came, which read "live the life you love #30" and we handed out custom #30 cookies (by Sugar Coma Cookies) as well as glow stick bracelets when the sun went down. Fun times were had by all!

I don't think 30 is getting "old," no. Why was I sad to leave my 20s? Because they were a hell of a good time. I did a lot of crazy, awesome, fun things when I was 20-something. They were good years. And years during which I learned some pretty major life lessons and accomplished some big personal goals. Like self-financing my college education and graduating with a bachelors degree in journalism several months before I turned 21. Then turning 21 and drinking my face off, as any new legal-age drinking consumer should do. I found and married the man of my dreams that same year, which means I graduated in May and got hitched in September. We had a super fun wedding with a big ol' reception and served fajitas for our nuptial dinner. So us. Our honeymoon in Hawaii was epic and we have continued to grow closer as best friends and as husband and wife ever since.

For a few years in there, I feel like I was coasting. Life was good, I was working on my career (I became an editor at a luxury lifestyle magazine in Houston) and the husband and I spent our free time working on our first home or out partying with friends. Then we made a major change and moved to Scotland for a year—which kickstarted this very blog—and lived abroad, traveled Europe and loved every second.

Once we'd moved back home to Texas and somewhat resumed our way of life, I began my own freelance writing company and we spent time enjoying all the things we'd missed about home, including our family and friends. More vacations, trips, a new house and several contemplative discussions later, we were ready to add kids to the equation. Little did we know what we were in for, right? You can read all about our fertility struggles, my miscarriages and the emotional journey that led us to expecting quadruplets here

Fast forward a couple years, and here I am. Newly 30 with an incredible husband of nine years, four three-year-olds, a home I love and close to family. It's a blessed life, that's for sure. I try not to take the everyday things for granted—everything is a gift, given to me by God and He entrusts me to do the best that I can with this path I've been granted. I do feel confident when I tell people that at the age of 30, I can honestly say I've already done the hardest thing I'll ever have to do in life...referencing my quad pregnancy and delivery. Anything that comes my way from here on out pales in comparison to that struggle I endured! I am still working on recovering from the toll it took on my body!

With age, maturity and experience, I've certainly learned to take things in stride. I've always believe that when you aren't sure what to do, just wait and don't do anything. The answer always comes along, whether it's the dead of night or a random moment in the day when suddenly everything becomes crystal clear. I like having a plan in place and until that plan has come together, I try to hold off on any actions that could affect the outcome. Hand in hand with that approach is my laid back demeanor. I wouldn't describe myself as a high-stress person. I'm not prone to anxiety (unless it's in a hospital, pretty sure I have PTSD from my pregnancy days) and it can take a lot to really get a rile out of me. Usually. Mess with my family or act a fool and Mama Bear comes out and I don't play!!

Having four children at once has definitely kept me motivated, I'm typically pretty goal-oriented though I've never felt as scatter brained as I do these days. I'm probably more organized now, though, then I was before—although I don't feel like it much of the time since my house stays in a shamble of sorts thanks to wayward shoes, laundry piles and toys that have escaped the play room. Nothing life altering, though.

the kids taste testing momma's birthday cake!
There's still a lot left for me to learn and many years of fun and adventure ahead with my instant family of six. The husband and I are definitely enjoying being parents together and still look at each other now and then and take a second to absorb the fact that we are now parents. To quadruplets!

I continue to try and enjoy my days and take each one as it comes. God doesn't give me more than I can bear, I learned to infinitely trust Him on that when He blessed us with quads. And I'm also learning to enjoy (and get used to) answering with "30" when someone asks about my age. So maybe I've got an extra wrinkle at the edge of my eyes and my metabolism is hopping a little slower (because of all the beer and wine I drink? nah...). But no matter what life brings my way next, I'm leaving my 20s behind with my head held high.
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Noah's Ark Lesson + Animal Craft

It's been awhile since I've done a book and craft combo with the kids, so when I spotted a box craft set of paper plate animals on super sale at Michael's I went ahead and grabbed it to stow away for a rainy day. A few weeks later, I came up with an animal-related lesson we could do and found a Noah's Ark book
while at the library.

After a massive toy swap out in their play room, I remembered we actually had a Noah's Ark toy in their box of Little People stuff so I pulled that out and used it to explain who Noah was and what the ark looked like. The kids each held two animals of their choosing while I read the book to them, then I slid the boat around the table and let them each march their figurines into the ark "two by two" before we started our craft.

I'm not one to shy away from putting together a set of craft supplies myself—and I keep several craft drawers stocked with random supplies to rummage through for just such an occasion—but it really did help that everything I needed came in the box.  The quads were able to peel the paper backing off the foam sticker pieces themselves and I would show them how to copy the photo on the box to assemble their respective animals. Coincidentally, two made a zebra and two made a monkey.

They were quite proud of their finished pieces and show them off to anyone who comes over since I hung them on their art boards in the play room (along with their super cute Father's Day card my mom helped them make, complete with flowers!).

After the craft, we watched our Baby Einstein's Baby Noah DVD—yes, we still have many of our Baby Einstein DVDs because they still love them—and it held their attention for the entire 38 minutes. That's like five years in toddler time, right!? I actually emptied the dishwasher and reloaded it, completely uninterrupted and without up to eight hands wanting to "help me." Plus, I think between the craft, Little People toy and DVD, the concept of Noah and his ark was very much solidified in their minds because they've repeated the story a few times since.

Mission accomplished.
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The Quad Squad Turns 3 + Party Pics!

With each passing year, the kids become more and more aware of events and special occasions and love getting in on all the action. As parents, we enjoy explaining these things—be it how they turn another year old and get to celebrate, or that Christmas presents fill the space under the tree the night before—and watching their pure, unfettered excitement as they experience everything. Birthdays are a huge occasion in our household with quadruplets, needless to say! We try to throw a good party since we only have to do one fete a year even with four kiddos—something I kindly remind the husband of when I'm ordering party favors or custom cookies. Ha!

This year was the first party we hosted at a venue, opting for an indoor trampoline park. It's one of the kid's favorite places to go bounce off energy and we frequent it often on rainy days or cold winter weeks. They have an entire area devoted to kids aged seven and younger, which is really nice because I don't have to worry about big kids bouncing all over my crew. There's also two bounce houses with slides they love to climb all over and plenty of space to run, the ever important factor when trying to entertain energetic, three year olds who seem to thrive on little sleep and keeping you up late at night with all the standard bedtime delays ("I need water!" or "I need to pee!" or "Give me another kiss!" and the list goes on...)

To kick off the festivities, I put together a cute but simple invite touting our choo choos and tutus theme. Below is a copy of the invite with generic info (don't need to share my cell phone number with the whole world!), which actually now available in my Etsy shop here! I know it can be tricky planning a party for multiples, much less a party that accommodates both genders, so I've begun adding some printable invitations I've created for just such events in my shop like this adorable pirates and princesses design.
It was a fun party! I'll let the photos speak mostly for themselves, but the kids loved seeing their friends arriving as well as many of the wonderful and truly special people in our lives that have loved my babies since the beginning. From grandparents to longtime family friends and newer acquaintances to our beloved babysitters and nanny, everyone made sure to drop by and celebrate the quad squad's birthday! They also spoiled them with tons of gifts—I've never seen such a stack of presents! I always advise folks to bring something small for each kiddo or just a reasonable group gift, but I think everyone must've had fun shopping because there were so many fun goodies in each bag and box and the kids had a blast ripping open presents and taking in all their new toys, clothes and books. They loved everything and have had fun working their way through it all the past few weeks!

parents and quad squad with their aunt summer

myself and the husband with our kiddos and their grandparents!

Everyone got their jump on, even some of the adorable babies that attended, and we all had fun watching the kids scream and laugh as they played together. The party ended with delicious cake (Costco never fails!) and the most perfectly decorated sugar cookies by Sugar Coma Cookies. My friend, Mary—a momma to triplets, who I've gushed about on the blog before!—makes the yummy treats and has blown up her business over the last year and a half. She has a true talent for baking and decorating cookies!! I order from her for nearly every special occasion we have, and it's now tradition to have Sugar Coma Cookies at the quad's birthday! She designed the train and ballerina cookies based on their invitation, which I had sent her beforehand, and they turned out great!

Since we had a smaller group of kids attending this year, I wanted to do some nicer favors and ended up choosing fluffy pink tutus (My Princess Party) and silver tiaras (Hobby Lobby) for the girls and wooden trains (Target) and conductor hats (Train Party) for the boys. I printed my own tags that I affixed to small gift bags and also included a coordinating cookie in each one as well. There were some pretty cute ballerinas and train conductors!

And because I am apparently not satisfied with a nice little two hour-long party at a venue that doesn't require me to do any setup or cleanup, I needed to host a whole group at our home afterward! In truth, though, the husband and I do enjoy a good party and we love having people over, so it was only natural we kept the celebration going well into the evening. 

the husband and his mom

We set out tons of food and opened a couple bottles of wine, and our quad buddies also made it for the after-party as well! Which was perfect because there were more than enough new toys to go around and keep all eight of our kiddos occupied! They stayed right up until the very end, donning their pajamas and evening brushing their teeth in the ball pit before they headed out. Mamas have to be creative sometimes, right!?

All in all, it was an awesome day and we relished every part of it. We are so grateful for our healthy babies—who are now quick to remind you that they're big kids!—and also for all the family and friends who have supported us in our journey to quads and love them all like their own. 

Happy birthday, my beautiful babies!
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