A Quad Mom Needs Her BFFs!

I stood in line at the airport Starbucks closest to my terminal and anxiously checked the time on my iPhone again, ensuring I still had a few minutes to grab my trenta-sized green iced tea before boarding. It was way earlier than my normal rising hour, much less an hour to be presentable and awake and boarding a plane. (And apparently I'd managed to color coordinate everything I was wearing and carrying to a black-and-white scheme.) But it was time for my second annual quad mom BFF trip and I was ready!

Ever since last year, when the five of us met up in Gruene, Texas—some of us meeting for the very first time—my friendships with these amazing women have flourished and blossomed beyond measure. They are my survival tools for every single day of my life now, we all message each other frequently and check in on each other when we know someone is facing a tough day or a challenging obstacle in life. We celebrate our successful moments with each other, both big and small, and the five of us are an unflinchingly strong and constant support group that I simply could not live without!

Between the five of us, we have 25 kids—amazing, right!? Obviously some of us have more than quadruplets, but the quads are certainly what brought us together in life and remains our common bond. That bond now also includes our efforts to be the best mothers and wives that we can while also continuing to nurture each other through friendship and reminding each other to take care of ourselves amid all the chaos of the crazy lives we lead!

The trip was everything I'd hoped for and been looking forward to since we parted ways a year before. I was all too happy to start this particular trip a bit sooner than last year as well. Instead of arriving Friday, three of us flew into California on Wednesday where Krista picked us up and we got to meet her seven beautiful kiddos, her wonderful husband and see where she lived! I have to add that Krista has the most kids out of any of us, with a set of gorgeous twin girls, the cutest singleton boy (a total ringer for his dad!) and their sweet quadruplets. I knew she drives a big ol' van and we got a kick out of riding around in the "bus" for a day or two!

Not ones to waste any time, the four of us made sure to fit in drinks and dinner together, which Krista's husband sweetly took us to and listened to our non-stop chatter!

We spent the night at their house then retrieved our final QMBFF (quad mom BFF) member at the airport before making our way to Tahoe for the weekend. But not before halting in the parking lot to aid a set of new parents in folding up their baby stroller post-flight. What's a van full of quad mommas to do but help!?

Our first meal together in a year, while on the way to Tahoe...

One of Krista's friends had graciously offered up her cabin for our retreat and it was the perfect location for our group to enjoy some R&R and relaxed bonding time. The cabin boasted beautiful views of the tree-lined mountains and lake views were around every other bend in the road. We spent plenty of time on the couch chatting and flipping through magazines, we napped, cooked, played games, watched movies, drank wine and enjoyed a few outings.

As soon as we'd plopped down our bags at the cabin, we busted out the equivalent of "Christmas morning" thanks to all the small gifts we'd each brought for each other! It was quite the sight! I made some hand stamped necklaces that said "QMBFF" with little heart charms on them; Amber hand embellished photo frames for each of us that had our respective states we live in with hearts over our cities; Becky gifted us some of her sister's homemade body cream (love my lemon lavender!) and healing salve as well as a copy of the book, No More Perfect Moms; Krista stocked us up on some of her favorite products, like Eos lip gloss and the best smelling Island Coconut candle from Target as well as a Norwex wash cloth and Sally Hansen insta-dry nail polish; and Ashley, talent that she is with her Sweet Dumpling Boutique, embroidered us special shirts that say "Raising Quads...  #neveradullmoment #qmbffsgetit." Last but certainly not least, in keeping to tradition, one of my longtime friends Mary (who is a triplet momma herself) of Sugar Coma Cookies made us the most gorgeous and delicious sugar cookies. Like I said, Christmas!

It was so touching that we each wanted to do something special for everyone, and since we only see each other once a year in our group setting it certainly makes it all the more memorable.

At first it was odd that we didn't have kids to chase after, bedtimes to reinforce or endless dishes to clean. But it didn't take long to settle into a relaxing state of just "being," in which we enjoyed each other's company and conversation amid a serene nature-filled setting. We even managed two trips to the hot tub over the weekend!

And to throw in a little adventure, Krista booked us for a zip line course that I'll hurriedly clarify turned out to be a ropes course! Which posed quite the challenge for a few of us that are bit scurred of heights. Something about walking across a tight rope hundreds of feet in the air, despite having a bulky harness attached to your waist....yeah. But the good news is that it turned out to be a wonderful team building experience and we all encouraged each other through various challenges and courses, tight ropes and all, and cheered on Krista and Becky who seemed to enjoy every second. With her gymnastics background and continued athletic abilities and flexibility, Becky had a renewed appreciation for her own kid's monkey-like antics at home!

Too soon, it came time to part ways and I think we all got a little misty-eyed at some point on our journey home. We were back at it once we'd returned to our families though, messaging back and forth to each other about what a wonderful trip it'd been and how much we'd enjoyed our time together! We'd created yet another memorable getaway, there near the shores of Lake Tahoe, and have already set plans in motion for 2016.

 I thank God every day for my QMBFFs!!
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P.S. Wanna read some of my QMBFF's recaps of our weekend getaway? Check out Becky's blog here, Amber's blog here and Krista's blog here. Enjoy!


A State of Happy Crazy

Sometimes I feel like time passes so slowly. The clock ticks by lazily, nearly mocking my weariness and the fact that if I have to tell yet another one of my kids to quit playing in the trash can or to stop pinching each other, I'm literally going to implode. Toddlerhood comes with a very intense testing of patience and I am here to assure you that when you have four toddlers at a time, it can be very intense.

Other times, however, time is fleeting. The last time I remembered looking at the clock it was 1:20pm and now it's already 8pm and time to get the kids ready for bed. I'm constantly trying to keep track of the to do list that's on a constant run-through in my head to see if I managed to get anything on it done that day. Eventually I'll write it all down on a piece of paper, then forget about the paper for two days and have already made up an entirely new list (with completely different items) in my mind again. See? Maddening. It can also make me feel like I've gone in a circle, like a hamster frantically running it's wheel, leaving me exhausted and feeling unaccomplished at the day's end. I've developed two ways to deal with that deflated-sort of mentality when the sun goes down.

1.) Accept that it's the end of that 24-hour period and, unless I've got the energy to stay up until 2am being productive, I need to just relax and get some sleep and try again tomorrow.

2.) Recount all the things I've actually done that day, even though they might not have been on my list, and realize I totally kicked ass. Like the fact that I made 12 meals just for the kids (and likely cooked two of them fresh), did two loads of laundry, perhaps took the whole crew on an outing somewhere, escorted them to the toilet eight million times, emptied and loaded the dishwasher, fed all the pets, changed linens, ran laundry, cleaned floors, did an art project with the quads, gave four baths and any other variety of accomplishments.

When I itemize things like that, it makes me feel much better about my efforts and also makes me realize why I'm so frikkin' tired.

Earlier this week, I had scheduled one of our babysitters to watch the kids so we could get a date night. It was a great chance to regroup since I'd been out of town for several days, to give the husband a break since he'd been picking up the slack, and to help us reconnect and get on the same page for the rest of the week as we both re-acclimated to our normal routines. It was seriously one of the best date nights ever! We discovered a new restaurant had been built and when we drove up to check it out, realized it was opening day and walked right in to a table. He got the sweet chili-glazed salmon and I got macadamia nut-crusted chicken, plus a half-priced bottle of wine. Soooo delicious. Then we headed down the street to our movie theater and saw the new Avengers movie, which was awesome. Totally perfect evening and totally needed.

It definitely helps that the husband and I prioritize date nights and other times spent together, so that we can maintain a connection that isn't always dictated by what mood the kids are in. Lord knows, there are plenty of days where we barely have a chance to exchange more than grunts and nods because the quads are going fast and furious.

Whether it's a long day or a slow day, sometimes they all end the same: I'm at the end of my rope and can barely take another second, the husband isn't home from work yet and it's past dinner time but I haven't started cooking anything and it's completely overwhelming to even think about getting through our evening routine and bedtime. But, not to undersell myself, I do have some days where I feel like a rock star and have knocked out a lot and feel good. Normal for you, too!? Awesome, I feel better already. I wished someone had warned me about the crazy highs and lows of emotions you go through in a single day as a mom. Raging frustrated to lovey dovey to militant maniac to germaphobe to sobbing hot mess to watching them sleep and wondering how they ever got on your nerves in the first place. Agghhhh!!!

Kailey has taken to yelling most of her communications, which drives me crazy, and the other kids will all start talking or arguing and I can't even hear myself to answer a question one of them is asking me. So I try to remove myself to another room so I don't resort to yelling back at them because then we really sound like one big happy family. And don't even get me started on the times a kid gets stuck on repeat saying the same thing over and over and over and OVER!

But then today, for instance, I took great pleasure in popping open a new Bota box of malbec and hearing the sound of the vino gurgling into my glass. Sometimes I forget it's wine and not water from the fridge and I'll be trying to fill my fish bowl-sized goblet to the brim! It's totally cool, though, because then I don't have to keep trekking over for refills. Small pleasures.

Occasionally, I call the husband and ask him how far away he is from home, ascertain traffic status and estimated arrival time before confessing I haven't had the time or energy to get to dinner yet. Wise man that he is, he'll offer to pick something up and I'll text him our order. This then frees up 20 minutes or so of time that I can go on to something else productive—like this blog post or organizing toys or vacuuming my floor that's inevitably laced with trails of goldfish crumbs like a completely unnecessary (and unrewarding) treasure map around the house.

These kids are most definitely my life's work and the loves of my life. They leave me very fulfilled and very drained at the same time. Which is quite the accomplishment, if you ask me! I wouldn't trade my days for anything and I'm grateful I still get to write and work from home as time allows to help me feel like a professional now and then, and not just the designated discarded-clothes-and-underwear-picker-upper. While being a mom is now 90% of my life, there's still that other percentage that I don't want to become forgotten or important. So whether it's a fresh glass of wine, a dinner I didn't have to cook, a newly published article I'm proud of, or an unaccompanied trip to Target, it's all part of me being me. It's not a perfect picture, but it's my perfect life that I'm living in a perpetual state of happy crazy...one day at a time. ;)
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Five Things

You know how you get so excited when you find a new product or outfit or beauty tip that literally makes your day? And then you love it so much you use it or eat it or wear it for, like, a month straight?! That's how I feel about these Five Things in my life right now, which I'm sharing below in no particular order. Except maybe the cookies. ;)

1. Sugar Coma Cookies. So I have this gal pal that I've known since we were tiny little kids. She and her twin sister and I used to pal around while our moms spent time together, as they've been long time friends, too. We both grew apart as we got into the adult years then reconnected when she was pregnant with triplets and I was pregnant with quadruplets. I mean, what are the odds, right?! Mary is super creative and highly talented, not just in motherhood, but in just about everything she sets out to do. Thus it's been no shocker that she started decorating sugar cookies one day and literally one year later, her sweet treats are the hot commodity! She created some beautiful cookies for my second annual QMBFF—short for "quad mom best friends forever"—trip and we just about died over them. So delicious and perfect to look at. (And more on that trip very soon, as it's one of the reasons I've been MIA lately!) The hearts represent my three girls and one boy, and she also made us QMBFF ones, too. Love, love, love this girl, her kiddos and her cookies!

2. Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips. I've probably blogged about these before, but they are the bomb.com! Easy to apply, lasts 10 days to two weeks and look like you spent hours on your nails! The geo-pattern I'm wearing above is the one I sported during my quad momma getaway. ;)

3. Maybelline Fit Me Foundation in Dewy + Smooth. This fab stuff is my new go-to for the face. I was tired of dried out skin and not looking fresh, but this foundation literally makes my face look dewy and moisturized without being greasy or shiny. And it lasts all day! Tip: This looks extra good when I wear it with my fresh, peachy Milani blush in Luminoso

4. Signature Soy Island Coconut Candle. If you've been following my blog for a decent length of time, you'll no doubt be completely aware that I'm unashamedly (and immediately) in love with all things coconut! One of my quad mommas—who was hosting us during our trip in California—gifted us with bags full of goodies, including this awesome candle. I will be replacing it immediately after I have burned it all up! It makes my house smell like a fresh, beachy, coconut-laden haven. (Psssst: the Red Velvet Cupcake scent is another winner, and is one of my go-to gifts paired with a bottle of Cupcake Red Velvet wine.)

5. Printed Knit Palazzo Pant in Vintage Black. If you've checked out any of the links I've provided for all this stuff, you'll notice the Target trend I've got going on right now. Seriously, several of my cute new clothing items for summer are from Target and who doesn't find 458,453,940 things you don't need when you browse the aisles slow enough to admire everything!? These pants are soft knit, thin material so they're warm weather-appropriate, and have small pockets. I wore the vintage black patterned ones on the plane and loved them so much I bought a solid black pair, too, so I can pair it with turquoise or pink tops. Comfy, stylish and stretchy waist banded!

What's one of your most favorite things right now!?
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Our Weekend

On Saturday morning, I had a bridal shower to attend for a good longtime friend of mine but didn't want to leave the husband with all four kids so we split the ranks. I took two of the girls—Logan and Trystan—with me and the husband took the other two—Harrison and Kailey—since they were a bit under the weather and we wanted to avoid them being around too many people. Little did I know that the husband would get motivated and take them to Home Depot with him followed by their first adventure in putt-putt! My cuties look so serious in the photo below, clutching their clubs and thinking of game strategy perhaps? Ha! Either way, it was awesome that they got a new and unique experience with their daddy and one that he could enjoy with only two kiddos in tow.

I enjoyed briefly catching up with my friend and the girls liked watching her open gifts and also indulged in a cupcake or two. Afterward, we went over to my mom's house and ate a afternoon snack followed by naps for everyone. I passed out on the couch—third day in a row I've napped! That is so not normal for me. But I have been exhausted every day for the past week or so, like I wake up in the morning and am super tired before I ever get out of bed. Nobody has time for that! I've been sure to take my daily dose of B12 and my prescription dose of Vitamin D this week and drink lots of water, I think I've just been a little more run down than usual. That happens every now and then, like hitting a wall when I've run out of gas and I have to catch up on some extra R&R to recharge then I'm good to go again. What are your energy-boosting tricks??

The kids enjoyed some sticker action later on thanks to fun little sheets of stickies that my Aunt Deanie sent them for Easter. I quickly printed out coordinating coloring sheets (thanks Google!), like a monster truck page for Harrison to accessorize with his monster truck stickers. They loved it and asked me to hang them each on their art boards in the play room when they were done.

And it's safe to say that Bandit, our recent new family addition, is adjusting to life here quite well. He's had no qualms about spreading out and getting comfortable. ;)

After church on Sunday, I met up with some of my girlfriends for a little wine tasting followed by Mexican for dinner followed by a few leisurely drinks and more girl time and convo! It was so needed and I loved getting to catch up with one of my besties who was in town for the weekend. Good friends and down time are often the perfect remedy for anything, right!?

It's felt like a long weekend though, because the husband had today off from work. Perfect! I could sooo get used to this. He took our suburban into the shop for new tires while I worked from home this morning then we went to lunch together followed by (bulk) grocery shopping at Costco. I went back to work on my computer afterward and he picked up the kids at school for me, snapping this adorable photo of them lined up for story time with their wonderful teacher. (I blurred her face for privacy reasons, but trust me, we love her and she's awesome with our kids!) 

They were listening intently to the book she was reading when the husband showed up and he hung back to watch for a second. They have a larger class during regular hours, but they stay in after-school care for a little bit after so there's only a few kids left by then. This gives me a whole day on Mondays to accomplish things child-free. We are so blessed to have such a wonderful Mother's Day Out program at our church and look forward to them starting pre-school there this fall!

Now I'm gearing up to tackle a busy albeit short four-day week and am grateful that the kids ran it out on the play ground today and shall sleep deeply tonight...
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Stopping to Smell the Roses & a Video

I threw myself a little pity party yesterday afternoon. It seemed like the perfect time, anyway, since the kiddos were at my mom's house for the day (I take them over there every Wednesday) and I had a quiet house to myself. It was only for a few hours since I'd spent several hours at the dentist getting a cracked tooth fixed. I have major anxiety with doctor's offices—made even worse after my extensive hospital stay while pregnant with the quads, our time at the NICU and several surgeries I've endured over the past few years. Needless to say, I don't like the dentist either and my anxiety was extremely apparent right down to my shaky hands. I had to get extra shots in my mouth to numb things since the first one didn't do enough and they were able to fix my cracked tooth that had taken me months to get around to treating. Mommas stay busy working around the clock, am I right!?

I'd already gotten two injections, one in each knee, on Monday morning as well. I have advanced arthritis in both knees that was a result of my pregnancy. A long stint of bed rest, atrophied muscles and the quads sucking up a large portion of my calcium and vitamin D certainly had its effects. Even my orthopedist feels for me! He's in sports medicine and has worked with me to try every possible treatment for my aching knees that sometimes hurt so bad they make it difficult to walk around my own house. I've had steroid injections, various medications and two knee scope surgeries to snip torn meniscus and clean out the arthritis. The latter part only helped for a few weeks before the arthritis started creeping back in. So now I've tried something new—synvisc injections that are literally like a joint lubricant that I hope will give me some relief! I need to be able to stay active and keep up with my kids! Thankfully my mom went to the doctor with me and helped me hobble out afterward. We enjoyed a lunch out and then hung out together at my house while the kids were at school before going to pick them up.

So yesterday I'd had enough misery and grabbed a chocolate shake on my way home from the dentist, pulled out my favorite blanket and made a dent in my DVR show lineup. Bandit kept me company too, finding a nice little spot near my legs to curl up and purr away.

This morning, I had plans to meet a friend of mine and her sweet baby boy at an indoor trampoline park so the quads could bounce out all their energy. Unfortunately, I discovered they were all sick. Harrison had thrown up all over his bed at some point in the night but hadn't woken us up and actually went back to sleep but he definitely required a bath this morning and a change of linens. He was all upset that he'd gotten them dirty but was very impressed when momma produced clean, sweet smelling linens from the dryer before naps this afternoon. I love that at this age they truly believe mommy can fix anything! 

So instead of the jumpy house, I offered Dunkin' Donuts for breakfast and that brought around a few smiles. We loaded in the car and grabbed our sugar rush (donut holes and a kolache each for the kids) then I indulged in some Starbucks, too, and we all got some tea. For the kids, I order two tall lightly sweetened green teas and two waters then mix half tea-half water in each cup so they can enjoy the flavor and still stay hydrated. For myself, I get a trenta-sized half-green half-black iced tea with one sweet n low! We parked in a large lot near Starbucks, next to a big field with lots of cows. (Gotta love Texas!) The kids enjoyed looking at them and also watching the Mickey Mouse DVD I put on in the car while I enjoyed my own tea and donut with a side of peacefulness. 

When we got home, the rain was still at bay and it was nice out so we hung out in the front yard for a little while. It's so nice to see everything turned such bright shades of green and all my rose bushes are now blooming! I cut two bouquets and the kids all enjoyed watching me and looking for caterpillars among the flowers, as well as smelling the super sweet blooms.

(red roses in the backyard)
Our front yard is looking better now, too, since the husband put down enough grass pallets to cover the entire yard that was formerly weeds and dirt. And the flowers the quads helped me plant have taken root and provide a nice little pop of color.

I wanted to get a photo of all four of my babies in front of the rose bush and asked them to gather around. Harrison didn't miss a beat. He walked up and casually hoisted his arm around Kailey and Logan, then Logan put her arm around Trystan and they all looked at the camera and said "Cheese!" Naturally, I wasn't ready for such blatant cooperation and missed the perfect moment but snapped a pic right after. It was so cute how they all came together and posed! I think we are reaching a point where group photos won't always be such a challenge. That or I just take so many freaking pictures that my kids know what to do, ha!

Despite feeling bad (mostly low grade fevers and sniffles), the crew has all been very well behaved today. Pretty laid back and lots of lounging around since they're tired. I sat down the vases of freshly cut roses on the porch and the girls wanted to smell the flowers, since they always see me doing it whenever I walk by whatever vases of blooms I have on my kitchen counter for the week. What a precious little moment!

One vase went on my kitchen island and one went on the entry table by the front door, a nice colorful addition. The "BELL" blocks were made by the kid's while at meemaw's house last week! Every time they walk by them, they say "I made these for you, mommy!"

I like walking by the new kitchen towels hanging from my oven handle. Wine makes everything better! I regularly drink a glass or two in the evenings. My favorite wine is Cupcake malbec or cabernet, but I also drink the Bota Box malbec often.

Once we came inside, I could tell the kids were tired so we sat down and watched a little Shaun the Sheep (the kids love it!) and the girls wanted to help mommy by folding some laundry. They got their little orange baskets and would fill them up with clean clothes from the laundry basket then lay them all out and "fold" them. Kept them occupied, even if I did end up with some clean clothes laying around the house!

We ate lunch and they went down for naps very easily and quickly, which only confirms that everyone's feeling under the weather. I've enjoyed the quiet time and have been working on this blog post as well as a few articles for a couple bridal magazines I write for. I loved how the style and beauty awards feature I penned for Dallas magazine turned out! The pages are below and you can view the article online here.

In the meantime, here's a quick video for everyone, both longtime followers and new! It's a bit blurry and out of focus, but that's okay since I don't have any makeup on. Enjoy...

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