{Quad Squad} 12 weeks

I've reached the last leg of the first trimester and I'm happy to report I'm starting to feel a little better. Well, better in the sense that I'm not as nauseous as usual and my migraines are a bit more frequent then, say, every waking second. So definitely signs of improvement. (Pregnant women are tough, this has been hell!)


It's only been a few days though, and I'm still on my Zofran, so I'm hoping this trend continues and I can start to eat like a normal person... or even a person pregnant. That'd be nice. I absolutely love food and it's about near broken my heart that we've had so much distance between us.

Sometimes I just have to take a moment and remember what's really going on... then I usually get this face:


The husband and I still cycle through feelings of being overwhelmed and feelings of excitement each week. And then we've already had a lot of laughs, like this morning when we used a stuffed monkey as a pretend baby so we could try out the preemie diapers. Which might I add are microscopically tiny. When it was the husband's turn to slap on a diaper he picked up the monkey by it's feet and hoisted it completely off the table so the poor little monkey-baby was hanging upside down. I busted out laughing and told him he would not be able to suspend the kids that way when it was the real deal. His face was hilarious when he realized a greater portion of the "baby" had to stay on the surface. We don't need any flying monkeys!

In other news, I'm having a cerclage done next week and am a bit nervous. More so about the actual events leading up to the procedure, probably. Nobody enjoys hospitals, being poked with IV's or wearing backless gowns. I'll be sedated for it and the operation shouldn't take more than 10 to 15 minutes. *If you're a male reader or someone not interested in the intimate quantum mechanics of child-having, then skip the next sentence.* But a cerclage is where they place a few sutures in your cervix to help prevent pre-term labor. I have talked to more than 30 quad moms that have had this done, and it's proven to be very effective and not a big deal. And if I think I'm really up to having four kids, then I'm gonna buck up and deal with this little road bump head on, too. Doc says I'll have two days of bed rest and a week "in bed" with permission to move around but take it easy.

So that's that. I've enjoyed a break off my feet, but now it's time to get back to cleaning my house and trying to be productive while my feel-good hours are still in effect. Look for more updates next week, including a new ultrasound video, my procedure recovery and a second trimester 13-week photo!

{Daily Pics} Food for Thought + Bonus Recipe!

I haven't done any Daily Pics posts lately, or My Recipe posts either now that I think about it. So you get two-in-one today, because it seems I have been randomly snapping photos of what I've been eating—which, due to my continued pregnancy nausea, has been easy meals and lots of carbs. But I did manage to whip up a one-dish dinner last night and have included that short lil recipe in the captions at the end. Happy eating!






From top to bottom:
1. Freshly baked chocolate chip cookies (that I didn't burn this time!). I also may or may not have eaten several of these for breakfast one morning.
2. Our own impromptu baked potato bar with huge spuds and all the fixings, including BBQ sauce, fajita chicken and shredded cheeeeeese.
3. My favorite breakfast in the whole wide world: pan-fried potatoes topped with scrambled egg whites and shredded cheese and a couple pieces of turkey bacon. Yum.
4. Been reverting back to my hot tea-habit I picked up in Scotland. A cup of English Breakfast black tea with a little sweetener (I use Stevia) and a big ol' glug of milk.
5. The one-pan dinner I came up with last night. Here's the quick and easy recipe:

Take two chicken breasts and trim off fat and gristle. Slice them in half lengthwise to produce thin chicken strips. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and drizzle liberally with olive oil. Once hot, place the chicken in the pan and season with freshly ground salt and pepper, dried parsley, a little chili powder and a bit of Lawry's seasoning salt. Flip once the underside has cooked through, with a little toasty brown coloring. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth or use one serving of Swanson's Flavor Boost concentrated chicken broth packet. Once chicken is cooked through, flip back over and add steamed cous cous, broccoli and tomatoes. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and let marinate for about five minutes. Dinner is ready!

{Quad Squad} 11.5 week video

Hi ya folks, I put together a nice little montage of video clips from our most recent ultrasound. The babies are looking more like, well, babies! Strong heart beats, gangly legs and arms and the ability to hop around and make their mommy sick again. All in a quad day's work. Enjoy!

video

25 Things

I've seen some pretty interesting posts from some of my favorite bloggers lately that simply list 25 things... 25 random thoughts, facts, musings or otherwise unimportant pieces of information that you need to know in order to keep on living. So here's my take:

1. I am a stickler about spelling and grammar on my blog. You know I've made a post when I'm really exhausted if there's an error.

2. I recently discovered my giant 90-pound white lab loves bananas.

3. Every two weeks, it bothers me if I don't get a pedicure.

4. The color pink is not a part of my wardrobe in any way, shape or form.

5. It's driving me crazy not knowing what sexes our quadruplets are yet. I didn't think this would bother me, but I'm ready to find out now!

6. I have a real phobia of sharks... and more recently, of extreme heights.

7. When I eat, I work my way around the plate leaving proportionate amounts of each food item right down to the end.

8. Within the next two to four years, I intend to write a book. It's probably going to be about life before and after having quadruplets. Just sayin'.

9. Wow, in a few months I'll have four kids. Like, all at the same time.

10. I could listen to the song "Even if it Breaks Your Heart" by the Eli Young Band a million times in a row.

11. I can be a very shy person on occasion and when I'm quiet around new people, they often think I'm being snobby. Who do they think they are!? Ha, kidding...

12. Every day, I sort of wait to completely spaz out about the fact that I'm having four kids but it never really happens.

13. Miralax is currently my favorite medicine. I don't care if it's TMI, you can thank my four unborn babies for that little gem.

14. I've decided I still love all the Texas country accents in our house, but I want to infuse some slightly more contemporary things to balance out our interiors so we don't get mistaken for a hill country cabin.

15. All my life, I've been a huge multi-tasker and lately sometimes I can't even remember... wait, what was I talking about?

16. I really and truly miss my hard-core workout classes. There's something so rewarding about sweating until you steam.

17. Because of being pregnant with quadruplets, I have to take two pre-natal vitamins a day plus a folic acid supplement. I feel like I'm swallowing horse pills.

18. Whenever I'm feeling uninspired, I watch It's Complicated or Julie & Julia.

19. Last week, I ate three hamburgers. What? I'm pregnant. With quads. So really, I should've eaten four to keep things fair.

20. Grocery shopping and cooking are like therapeutic activities for me.

21. I have been on a lengthy search for the perfect cowboy boots and one of my favorite local boutiques just got in some super adorable Texas State University boots (my alma mater). I want them so bad I could die. Problem: they are $400.

22. I need like $400 just for diapers to cover the butts of my quad squad. That should get me through two weeks.

23. Wondering if you're still with me...

24. There's not a single app on my smart phone that gets used, other than my Yahoo Mail and Facebook apps. I don't even care if it's lame.

25. Sometimes I think so fast that I lose an idea before I have time to make a mental note of it. No really, I do. It's weird.

25 1/2. Hopefully you didn't abandon me early, thanks for reading and feel free to leave a link to your own "25 Things" post in the comments section. :)

{Home Decor} Getting Real with Faux Flowers

I am not a gardener. 
Not a gardener am I. 
My thumb is not green,
And I am not keen
On keeping plants alive.

There are two things in this world at which I seem to consistently and miserably fail: baking and maintaining plants. Even the cookies you buy pre-made at the grocery—ya know, the ones you tear apart and put on a baking sheet and stick in the oven?—get burned every time I try to make them. We won't even start on when I actually attempt to do "real" baking. And every plant I've ever put roots to ground has withered and died. Which is sort of creepy, but we won't read too much into that.

Moving on...


I decided to get "faux" real and sprung for some blooms at Hobby Lobby when their floral department went 50% off. Suh-weet! I love roses and the big purple ones were pretty and of course I had to get some hydrangeas because I adore those flowers, but can never have them in the house or yard because they're poisonous when ingested. My three dogs and two old cats don't know this, however, so it'd likely be certain death if I ever planted these babies in our vicinity. (Though I don't think they are fatal to humans. Wait, don't quote me on that.)


The photo above shows you what I was working with. Literally anything was an improvement to that sad, despairing plant! I yanked it out and gave it an unceremonious burial in the trash can, loosened up the dirt and went to work.


First, I wiped off the "Merry Christmas" that was still scrabbled across the front of my pot. (I made this with some simple painter's top and chalkboard paint. Easiest craft ever, wham bam done.) I couldn't think of anything very seasonal for January or February, so "welcome" it was.


Next, I pulled out my strongest pair of wire cutting pliers and just about popped a vein in my neck trying to trim down these bad boys. The stems come long so you can cut them to your liking, but they all have thick wires running through them. I found that if you bend the stem back and forth after you make a dent with the pliers, it usually snaps in half. That genius realization only occurred after I'd made it through several stems, of course.


Finally I arranged everything in the pot until I was happy. The greenery looks very realistic in person and brightens up the arrangement, in my opinion, and I like the added height. In the small glass vase in the lower right of the photo above I stuck a few faux thistles, as a tribute to our year in Scotland. (It's the national flower there and they are truly everywhere. No seriously, check out my post here about our venture to a castle near where we lived for a photo of a real live thistle. )


Above is the finished result on my unswept patio that was only recently de-Christmased. It's been slow going 'round these parts with my quadruplet-induced nausea, and I'll play the pregnancy card for every windblown leaf on my porch and unwashed dish in my sink. But at least my flowers will always be pretty and perky and never in need.

{Quad Squad} 11.5 weeks

Things are moving along pretty nicely so far—if you discount the continued nausea and sickness, occasional exhaustion (like, I'm so tired I can barely remember my name) and the migraines. Oh man, the migraines. They seem to come around as soon as I've beat a bout of "battle of the dry heaves" and my head will start pounding so hard it makes me sick all over again. I've never had to deal with headaches in my life, and these are just awful!

(*Disclaimer: I have some at-home remedies that help me feel better, I've tried everything out there and I love you all to death who want to give me advice on how to feel better, but at this point I just need a "hang in there" and "you're doing great!" more than anything!)

Other than feeling like dog crap, though, the babies are doing fine. We had two appointments last week—one with our doc at the fertility center and one with our new specialist. They both confirmed that all the babies had grown heads, arms and legs. All great signs, since there's so many of them and fetal development can easily become challenged at any stage. The heartbeats are still looking strong and yours truly is getting so big some of my favorite jeans no longer zip, much less button. Thank goodness for that stupid belly band thing, which isn't the most convenient article of clothing, but it does hold your pants up around your waist so you can still wear your favorite duds. I have at least a few more weeks to go before I throw in the towel and convert to true maternity pants. And I ain't mocking them, either, because I know my day is comin'—four-fold! Just can't believe I am growing so fast!


In other news, we've purchased two cribs, crib mattresses, a changing table and some adorable baby clothes we've picked up on sale. And no, we don't know what we're having yet so there are no hints to be found in the clothes in the photo below. Easy there, tiger. We are buying a little of both boys and girls, but are keeping receipts in case we have to completely return one or the other. The husband and I are hoping for two and two!

Either way, the former "guest room" is quickly becoming overrun with baby supplies and soon stacks of diapers and other paraphernalia will join the mix. We plan to move the guest bed into my office, which will serve its new dual purpose in a bit of crammed-style. Our little house is gonna get smaller real quick!


I was also extremely proud of the husband and I for completing ALL our registries!! Our parents and a couple friends have completely risen to the occasion to be sure we receive baby showers quad parties, because time is already passing so quickly and I'll likely be dealing with bed rest when most moms would be just shy of the half-way mark. I'm also thankful for our parents and friends who understand that I can't stand baby showers—it's one of the few things in life I feel strongly about! The pastel decorations, silly games, finger foods... it's not my style, and I truly don't enjoy it. I thought perhaps that would change when I had kids of my own, but I can absolutely confirm it did not! Doesn't mean I don't think people should have them or enjoy them, it's just never been my cup of tea. ;)

With that said, we are beyond amazed at our family and friends' creativity in planning co-ed quad parties with a Texas country flair!! We are excited to see the results and be able to celebrate with all our friends, guys and gals, without any games, tea sandwiches or pink and blue accessories. Which means I'm one happy mamma.

More updates and new ultrasound photos to come mid-week with our next doctor's appointment. Hope y'all have a stellar Sunday!

{Home Decor} Drop Cloth Curtains & Fabric Giveaway!


For a loooooooong time I had no idea what to do with the windows in my kitchen. I'd never had large windows near the eating area, so our last house called for no decorative solutions. When we moved into our current house, the owners had simply screwed an entire set of eye hooks into the wall and scrunched up some fabric with an excessive amount of raffia to create a make-shift curtain that ran across the top. So, for the time being, I re-calibrated the fabric into swags and tied with single pieces of raffia to keep it in place.


The fabric wasn't killing me so much, except that it was too much red/orange in one area with the red kitchen walls and I wanted something a little more large scale for the windows. So I ignored the curtains (naturally), and replaced the little chandelier lampshades with some canvas zebra versions I found on mega-sale at Stein Mart. (We're talkin' like .78 cents apiece. Booyah.)


But seeing as how this still didn't solve my problem with curtains, I was in a pickle. What I really, really, really wanted were shutters. Dark brown mahogany shutters, to be exact, because I thought they'd just look so rich and beautiful in that space. Shutters were not in our budget, though, and in retrospect might have been too heavy an option since it's a small kitchen nook and doesn't get enough light as it is.

Source: Home Design Gallery
Source: Country Living
So it was back to the curtain-hunt. I wanted a neutral tone, sorta tan, with a structured but lightweight fabric. Pottery Barn had some options I would have loved to spring for, but Pottery Barn didn't have them on sale either. Drat. Then after seeing this post on The Lettered Cottage blog, I was sold! Drop cloth curtains! I picked up five canvas 6X9 foot painters drop clothes at Lowe's for $9.99 each.
My mom and my mother-in-law were both in town for our Christmas party at the house and after offering to help get things ready, I shamelessly enlisted them to help me pin, sew and trim hemlines for the curtains! (Because apparently I like to save these sorts of projects for the hours right before we have 30+ guests. It totally makes sense, I know.)

We made a great team and knocked out the project in two days. When it was all said and done, I think we took about five inches off the top and seven inches off the bottom—for a total foot—to get them short enough that they puddled a bit on the floor. (I wanted them to reach all the way to the tile to give the illusion of larger windows.)


I'd had curtain rods at the ready from months prior when I found a bronze set at TJ Maxx for less than $20 apiece. So we ran the makeshift hem through the curtain bars and hung them up. Out of the five drop cloths I bought, we only needed four—but the fifth makes for a fantastic outdoor table cloth for our patio parties!



I didn't feel like they needed much in the way of a tassel, so I used bits of jute to tie them loosely until they take their own shape and can hang untied from the rods. (They were kind of stiff at first and kept creeping toward the middle of the rod.)



I'm pretty happy with how they turned out, and at a much cheaper cost than I'd originally planned for! Plus, of all the fabric stores I scoured, this was the perfect material I'd been searching for. Never would've thunk it.

But now I've got the material leftover that once hung across the tops of the windows, and I'm going to give it away! It'd make for a great long, rectangular pillow or two, place mats, decorative ties, etc. There's several yards of it and the fabric is thick and cut into two very long pieces.



Just leave a comment on this post—with your email so I can contact you!!—between now and Saturday midnight, Jan. 21. I'll randomly select a winner and announce on Monday. 

Thanks for reading!

{Quad Squad} First Video

I know this is my third post in a row on our four growing babies, but we've just had all this material saved up waiting until we let the word out!! And I couldn't not share this video of our ultrasound from yesterday that shows all four of the kiddos—with heads, arms and legs—moving around. Well, mostly Baby A is the only one moving but they've all been wiggling quite a bit prior to turning on the video, of course.


I also have a few questions I'd love to hear from fellow moms and quad moms about, if you have any input for me!

-Has anyone used cloth diapers with multiples? We are thinking this is too much trouble and are planning to begin stocking up on Pampers preemies and Pampers Sensitive diapers.

-I've decided to go with Dr. Brown's bottles. These seem to have the most positive reviews on the web, anyone want to chime in with Bottle 101? I saw a dual bottle warmer and was wondering if we should get two, though I know some folks have used their crock pots for this. Also, do I stock up on 3 mo, 6 mo and beyond bottle nipples now? And do 4 oz bottle serve well for preemies/newborns, and then I use larger bottles for later? I have no idea...

-Soon I plan to select crib bedding. It'll be from either Babies R Us or Target. If anyone's discovered a nice, comfortable soft bedding that they love, please share in the comments section!

-Any floor gyms or exersaucer recommendations from moms of multiples that have proven effective, held up and played well?

Thanks to all the outpouring of support from all the multiples moms who have stopped by to comment on my blog or send me an email over the past several days—it's so encouraging to know you're all out there and that this can be done! :)

{Quad Squad} Our hearts are full...

I just wanted to thank everyone... every single person... that has taken the time to congratulate us on our quadruplets, to offer assistance when they arrive, to share in our excitement and to support us through this incredible, mind-boggling adventure. Your words, text messages, phone calls, emails, posts and more have meant so much already—and we're not quite to the half way point yet!! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for such an over-joyous response. We are floating on cloud nine.

I'd also like to let y'all know that, on a rare morning when I'm not immediately plagued with nausea, a breakfast of pears, waffles with syrup, Gardetto's and iced tea is perfectly normal. Like, not even weird a little bit.

Welcome to my quad-world. :)


BLESSED WITH FOUR!!!

There's a reason that things have been so busy lately, that I've been so sick and that both my husband and I have had a lot of mental processing to do. But up until now, we'd been keeping it all under wraps—waiting until preliminary doctor's visits were under our belts and we felt that the time was right. Now, I'm happy to share the news with you all!



Yep, you're seeing that right. 
We're pregnant.... TIMES FOUR!!! 
My husband and I are expecting QUADRUPLETS!!


It's a shocking bit of news, I know. It's nice to be on the other "side" of the shock, and we have definitely learned to break the news to our friends and family, followed by an elaborate pause so they can process the information!

As overwhelming as the thought of four little babies all at one time can be, we are both very excited and look forward to this amazing challenge and new chapter in our lives. God never gives us more than we can handle, and we're trusting Him completely on that!

Over the past month or two, my husband and I have both read countless blogs written by parents of quadruplets that have proven extremely helpful to us, and I merely hope to continue that trend by sharing our story with others.

After celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary in the fall of 2010, we were ready to kick start our own family and see what all the fuss was about! Unfortunately, we had two miscarriages over the following year and doctor's test results that revealed my body wasn't reacting properly to keep the pregnancies and my egg count was extremely low. The doctor anticipated I'd hit menopause by my mid-30s and that we should definitely become aggressive about our family planning.

We weren't treating infertility, at this point, but my body did need some help along. So we opted for me to do a low-dose round of hormone injections and an IUI, then waited two weeks. We were elated when we got positive results! Another two weeks later, the day before we headed to Italy for 10 days, we went in for our first ultrasound and discovered there were FOUR embryos. The nurses and doctors were floored. 

In addition to us both being completely stunned, I was sick as a dog for our 10-day trip through Italy. After finally arranging for a nearby pharmacy to accept an email prescription from my doctor back in Texas, I picked up some Zofran (a powerful anti-nausea medication) that quite literally saved my life. I was able to start keeping fluids down, then some food and even survived the 21 hours it took us to travel back home. We flew straight into Dallas on December 23rd and started Christmas the next morning, completing five Christmases in three days.

Soon as we got home, we had another ultrasound which revealed all FOUR heartbeats and growing babies. It was really amazing. It also revealed a fifth amniotic sac that was empty, meaning we'd likely started off with five embryos but had lost one early on. Our doctor had already discussed with us his urgent advice to choose selective reduction and go from four babies to two. The risks are definitely great when carrying multiples, for both me and the babies—but it's also something that has been successfully done before. After much prayer and soul searching, we decided to keep all four and do the best we can to grow healthy babies and trust God to take care of the rest. There's just no way I could ever give the okay to terminate two of those heartbeats. The husband and I agreed our goal through this challenging, yet exciting, process is that we'd have no regrets. No matter what happens, we can look back on everything we did and know we gave them all the best chance possible.

* * * * *

So that's where we're at! I'm nearly 11 weeks, just one week away from completing the first trimester. However, with multiples like this, we won't even make it very far through the third trimester so the timeline feels like it's cut in half! Things are starting to move quickly, but all the while we know our situation could change at any time. We've read some really incredible success stories about quadruplets and some awful ones. Our goal will be to get past 28 weeks, and from there hope I can carry them to 32 weeks. They'll certainly be preterm, so we expect them any time between mid-May and mid-June.

With quadruplets, apparently your stomach grows at, well, I'm guessing four times the rate of a normal pregnancy! So I'm already showing and feel like I'm beginning to grow even more quickly as we get farther along. 


We hope you'll enjoy following along as we share our "quad journey" over the next few months—and of course we appreciate any and all prayers for these four babies to develop strong, healthy bodies and to grow as much as possible! Oh, and for my nausea to pass because I'm sick of feeling sick!!

Though my blog will still continue to contain much of its usual content, I will intermittently post updates on the quads, which you can access instantly through the "Quad Squad" category—available in the sidebar on the right. 

Thanks for reading!

Office Mates

It's been a relatively quiet day around my house, which is a good thing because I've been able to focus on some work deadlines that have been looming over my head. And the temps outside are in the low 40s—never mind that it was 80 degrees two days ago—so wrapping up in a blanket in my home office ain't too shabby a situation to be in. Although I'll admit I do not keep an OCD-tidy desk, messy means money...


I tend to work on anywhere from two to four projects at a time, so there's always a ton of material floating around my space. The beautiful red roses were a surprise from my husband when he got home from work yesterday. And no, I don't have three beverages—the mug is my chicken noodle soup lunch! That book on the right, Birthdays for the Dead, is one that I'm excitedly cracking open tonight and is the newest tome out by a favorite writer of mine from Scotland, Stuart MacBride. I like to call my self-portrait below "Writer's Daze."


Of course, since the weather has decided to emit teeth-chattering gusts of wind and less than desirable temperatures, my little doggie family was allowed naps in their kennels in my office to warm up and take a break from the chilly backyard. Reese, pictured below, is about 10 months old and we've loved her since before we decided to officially adopt her! She had her spay surgery two days ago and still manages to run circles around me, the other two dogs and my white cat—who does not appreciate the game.


Then there are the "big dogs," as we affectionately call them. They never want to be separated and share the same kennel every night. They also had no problem passing out for a nap inside their crate, but Jersey (the black one) crept into more than one of my phone calls with her super loud snoring!


Crank up the volume and take a listen, this dog sounds like a human snoring! It took me a full five seconds to realize who was to blame. Was there a congested, sleeping midget under my desk?

video

Have a great weekend!

The Holiday Aftermath

Sometimes you just have to take a break.

Although I wouldn't necessarily call what I've been doing a break, but I did take a brief leave of absence from the blog and too many Facebook posts or updates. The husband and I were pretty wiped out after our trip to Italy—it took us 21 hours to travel back to Dallas—and our Christmas started the very next morning. We did five celebrations in three days, then packed up our three dogs and two cats and hauled the whole thing back to Houston.

My niece and nephews opening their Christmas gifts during our gathering at my mom's home. 
The husband and I on Christmas Eve.
All our dogs and cats sleeping on the drive back to Houston. It was a full ride!
From there, we immediately jumped into a bit of work, New Years celebrations and the husband's birthday activities. We didn't plan a party for him this year, despite it being his big 3-0, mostly because I surprised his pants off with a super nice new 12 gauge shotgun. Oh yeah, I rule.

On top of that, he got to attend the Houston Texans play-off football game, made even more thrilling by their sweeping victory. We popped into Vic & Anthony's Steakhouse for an early birthday dinner, and he's preparing to go deer hunting this weekend. All in all, not a bad series of events for having no party planned, wouldn't you say?

The mass crowds at the Texans football game.
The husband and I at Vic & Anthony's.
And I've been playing super-duper-major-catchup with work, which I'm happy to report is nearly back to normal levels. With the aid of my husband, we even managed to finish off my end-of-year tax reports, which are always a drag. They also make me sleepy.


Happy New Year!

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