{Food for Thought} My Idea of Quick Cooking

It's no secret that I love to cook. Or maybe that I love to eat. Or both—which is fine, because they're equally true. Food is my friend! And then my enemy when I eye the nice little contemporary glass scale my husband stashed in our bathroom. It was actually meant to be a baby scale. I asked the husband to buy a baby scale so we could keep track of the quad's weights as they grow, so he ordered one and it arrived on our door step a few days later. But I was pretty confused when instead of a baby scale, we get a regular scale.

Granted it was all nice and shiny, but it sure as hell wasn't for weighing babies. He explained we'd weigh ourselves then stand on the scale with a baby and subtract the difference. Then I explained to him, in very clear terms with a few very clear expletives, that we would in no way be standing on that scale on a daily basis and see our sad poundage pop up on the digital display like a condoning reminder that I shouldn't have eaten cake for breakfast. Nor would I be partaking in some mathematical quiz every time I want to find out how much each of my four babies weighs.

Nevertheless, the husband then apologetically ordered an actual baby scale and now the aforementioned "adult scale" resides in our bathroom. And I may have stood on it this morning.

We're no longer friends.

Now where was I...oh yeah, welcome to a new category on my blog! "Food for Thought" is a quick-hit picture-postin' list of various basic dinners I've come up with lately, most of which are on the fly and take about 20 minutes from start to finish. I've always loved cooking but I tend to cook more Rachael Ray-style, if you will, and I have no shame in taking shortcuts to achieve a delicious and convenient end result.

Basically, it's simply to share what I've been making in the kitchen and hopefully inspire others out there who lead busy lives and don't have time to cook complicated things. Here goes!

They're easy to make and they can suffice for any meal. I've been on a "taco kick" lately and have been making all kinds, from breakfast tacos to chicken fajita tacos. These particular quick tacos involved ground beef cooked with a packet of taco seasoning, corn tortillas, garlic cilantro salsa, cilantro lime rice (make your own by steaming white rice and mixing with 1/8 cup of lime juice and a healthy handful of freshly chopped cilantro), cheese and black beans. Dinner (or breakfast?) is served!

Apple Cider Sausage Skillet
This is one of my all-time favorite recipes and I've been making it since I was, like, six. Seriously. I've blogged about it before and you can find the recipe here

Popcorn shrimp
When all else fails, store bought popcorn shrimp can come to the rescue. It's easy to, ahem, pop into the oven and keeps well in the freezer. I also stash some cocktail sauce in my fridge for occasions such as these. I didn't totally phone it in though. I sauteed some zucchini and squash in a pan with a little real butter, chili powder, garlic powder, sea salt and pepper. Then I prepared a box of organic white cheddar mac & cheese to the instructions, adding a couple sprinkles of red pepper flakes and Lawry's seasoning salt. 

It can be made so many ways and it's super easy to make your own faux fry! For this rendition, I used microwave steamable brown rice. I cut up two chicken breasts and cooked them in a pan with some chili powder, sea salt and pepper then added some teryaki sauce to coat and turned up the heat to get the sauce carmelized just a tiny bit. Then I lowered the heat back down and mixed in freshly steamed, chopped broccoli, my rice and a little more teryaki sauce. I heated it through then served in bowls topped with peanuts for crunch. Yum!

Happy eating! 


{Quad Squad} Fall Photo Shoot #2!

So I couldn't resist snapping a few more fall photos of the quads in their adorable outfits, gifted from a long-time blog reader, Bernice. Thank you so much for sending the cute get-ups! The husband and I had fun pulling out pumpkins and fabric and babies, of course, to stage a quick photo shoot. The light was less than desirable, both outside and inside, since it took us all day to get around to it—but I worked with what I had, including my beautiful subjects. Who weren't all so beautiful throughout the photos, since a couple of 'em decided to have meltdowns mid-pic. 'Nuff said. Enjoy!

Wanna see more? 
Catch the first fall photo shoot here.
Happy Saturday!


{Quad Squad} One vs. Four & Fall Photos!

Yesterday I got a taste of what life would have been like with just one single baby. What a dream to go out with one instead of four! I loved spending the day with my little big man and took Harrison to his doctor appointment, then decided to make a quick run through Babies R Us and Kroger on the way home.

Make no mistake, we are still on lockdown at home, so I sanitized my hands a million times in between touching things in the store and loading and unloading him from the 'burb. "I want four sick babies at home all at the same time, " said no one ever.

He loved eyeing all the colorful baby clothes around Babies R Us as we strolled through to grab a couple things, then he completely slept through Kroger while I bought them out of organic brown rice cereal. Which was only six boxes to begin with, anyway. Those will last about 2.5 weeks in our household! Some things, I've discovered, are totally worth buying in bulk simply so I don't have to haul around town wasting my free time by making runs to multiple stores looking for the same thing. Apparently Gerber's organic brown rice cereal and Baby Lysol are on that bulk-buy list.

The whole time I was in Kroger, I was prepared to fend off the masses who wanted to come up and see what a quadruplet looked like. After a couple minutes, I realized that no one even cared I was in there. Why would they suspect this single child was one of four? Ha! You mean, the average outing with a baby doesn't involve crazy questions about multiples, two twin strollers and a clearly mapped out escape plan?

As soon as this dawned on me, I literally rolled my eyeballs and laughed to myself—so there are some "normal" parts of having children that I have not yet, and may never, experience.  I'll accept my odds, though, since apparently I don't do many things in my life half-assed. Having four babies at once being among those. ;)

But once I got home, I was so excited to see the other three and set up a quick fall photo shoot on the love seat in our living room. Four lil pumpkins = major cute factor and super adorbs pictures. (And that's coming from someone who still doesn't consider themselves a "baby person" but I do have a soft spot for my fantastic four.)

I told you they were cute. 

More fall pics coming this weekend!
And recipes!
And a recount of the quad's first spoon feeding!
And my FAQ #2 post!

Once you come to quadville, it's hard to leave...



{Quad Squad} Happy Baby Video + More

That sweet Trystan Lee loves to wake up with a smile on her face, which slaps one right across my own. She's just too cute!

Good Morning from Trystan! from Texas Take on Vimeo.

It's been a busy week with doctor appointments, deadlines for work, scheduling more doctor appointments (tons of follow-ups with preemies), setting up our first professional photo shoot with the babies and introducing new things like spoon feeds! It's a beautiful, messy (occasionally tearful) sight. Ha.

Kailey girl mid-spoon feed.
Logan figuring out whether to eat the spoon or her bib.
I'll be sharing more about how we worked up to spoon feeds, how it went and whatever helpful tidbits I've gathered so far. 'Course we'll see how helpful they really are, as it might simply amount to: "Have a stack of five burp cloths ready per baby. When finished, wipe baby's face, head, hands, your face, head, hands and dump everything into the laundry. The end."

I'll also be debuting a new category on my blog called "Food for Thought," which you'll find in the list of category subjects in the sidebar. It's been awhile since I've posted any new recipes under "My Recipes" category, since I've been doing a lot of quick-hit cooking lately versus full-blown dinners. The new "Food for Thought" category will be a photo montage of meals I've made lately with basic ingredients and how-to instructions that you can whip together in 15 to 20 minutes. Looking forward to sharing!

Plus, my Frequently Asked Questions #2 post is in the works! Dying to know something about quad life? Or my cooking? Or what goes on here on the daily? Or how I manage to look so fabulous all the time? Alright, so yoga pants and flip-flops aren't your attire du jour. Fine.

Drop me a question in the comments section—remember to keep it clean homies!—and I'll dish out answers coming soon. Be sure to check out my first FAQ post here.

Lastly, what's better than four cute little quaddies watching a bit of cartoons? Why, I couldn't think of anything else either.

Happy Wednesday!


{Quad Squad} Life Lately

Things have been pretty busy for the last week or so—four growing babies make for lots of work! Then there's doctor appointments, outings, work, family visiting and the general hustle and bustle of our busy life at home with quads. Here's a little of what we've been up to!

We've begun taking more frequent walks in our neighborhood with the babies. Thankfully the weather has cooled off a little bit and it's the perfect time to get out for fresh air and sunshine. We've only been tracked down twice by curious onlookers in their vehicles, but draw plenty of stares and open mouths as folks drive past or stare at us from their driveway. And we've received a mix of both snide and positive comments, which is the usual I've come to expect with quads. Some people want to judge for reasons I'll never understand and others marvel at our miracles!

We're still on lockdown around here to prevent any illnesses while the babies are working so hard to eat and grow, and only allow caregivers and close (healthy!) family members to visit right now. The husband's brother has stopped by several times to check on the quads and watch some football...

...and so have his parents, who came for a quick weekend visit. They were amazed to see how big the babies were getting—the kiddos range from 10 1/2 to nearly 12 lbs!

We also received a very special visit from my grandma and my Aunt Deanie, who were thrilled to see the quads so healthy and happy. My aunt had visited me in the hospital right after the babies were born and she was so excited to see how well everyone was doing. It's a big difference when they are no longer 2 and 3 pounds and aren't attached to various wires and monitors!

(Photo below, left to right: Me and Trystan, Aunt Deanie and Logan, the quads Great Grandma and Kailey and the quads Grandma—my mom—with Harrison!)

My Aunt was a huge hit with all the babies—getting Kailey to imitate her sticking her tongue out and cracking Trystan up with some funny faces. :)

When it came time for tummy time and practicing sitting in their bumbo chairs, my Grandma slid right out of her recliner and got on the floor with the babies! She stayed there all throughout play time, spending time with each one. I was amazed at this because, not only is she in her late 80s, but she had a stroke 7 or 8 years ago and was told she'd never recover. Even though her speech is impaired, she has continued to thrive and enjoy her wonderful family throughout the years. Seeing the quads was a long-awaited moment and I was so touched that she could be so involved with them!

Of course we had to have a four generation picture as well. Below is my grandmother, my mom and me with all the babies. 

My mom and step-dad are still living down here in their camper at a very nice RV resort just a few miles from our house. They are over every day during the week and occasionally on weekends helping with the babies, laundry, cleaning house, errands and all the eight million things it takes to run a household, tend to four babies and also make time for the husband to go to work and for me to be able to work from home. We couldn't do it without them!

Grandad always has a spot on his chest for a sweet little baby!

We've also had doctor appointments, including an eye appointment for all four with a new eye doctor because I absolutely did not like our previous one. And although I do like our new doc, things started off rocky for our first visit! I called to confirm the office location when we were on our way to be informed that our appointments for all four babies had been cancelled for an unknown reason!!!! I said through gritted teeth informed the receptionist that I had four babies loaded in the car and was halfway there and would not be turning around. She said they'd "squeeze" everyone in. It took three hours and some rather unaccommodating nurses, but they did see all four. 

I was glad to have our nanny with us that particular day, as well as my mom, who both helped keep away curious eyes and hands. It never ceases to amaze me how many people come up and try to touch babies without the parent's permission! With hacking, snotty nosed kids all over that office, I was so paranoid we were taking something home with us. When we did get home, we followed our usual post-doctor visit routine: everyone got baths and clean clothes, the car seats and strollers were sprayed down with Baby Lysol, adults changed clothes, washed our hands and arms, sprayed the bottoms of our shoes with Lysol the prepped bottles to feed the crew.

Recently, I had the pleasure of joining several other local quad moms—as well as two quintuplet moms and a sextuplet mom!—for dinner. It was a great evening out with much-needed cocktails and refreshing conversation with others who "get it." There were 11 moms amounting to 50 kids among all of us! Good thing the munchkins stayed at home!

Story time has become a staple for our evening routine after the last bottle has been fed. The lights are dimmed and the babies usually sit in their boppies or in my lap for a read from Beatrix Potter or a book of classic fairytales before bedtime. It's one of my favorite moments each day. :)

The quads have slowly begun to discover each other, like Harrison and Trystan exchanging looks below...

...as well as ceiling fans. They all LOVE to watch the ceiling fan, especially if it starts to move!

And mobiles. We love mobiles, like the ones that hang over the cribs. Logan, below, smiles and grins the sweetest things when you turn it on—and so does Trystan. I like to wake the babies in the morning and put them all under it and start the day with happy faces! Mom and dad wake up happy, too, now that the quads are sleeping an average of 9 hours a night!

And the husband and I also enjoyed our first "social night out" together since December 2011. We've managed to get out for a movie or dinner here and there, but nothing with a group. It was great to reunite with a friend that was in town visiting from Scotland (where we lived for a year from August 2009-2010) and to see many friends we hadn't caught up with in awhile. Oh, and of course drinks. There were lots of drinks. And not the virgin kind!

(Photos below: The husband and our Scottish friend, and then the husband and I with a close buddy reliving our glory days at a local bar!)

So, as you can see, things have been far from uneventful!
*said with a sarcastic snicker*

I've learned that not drinking for many months due to pregnancy and preemie babies in the hospital, suddenly broken by a raucous night out of endless beer equals one killer headache in the morning! And that new things are not meant to be kept new for long, like my new Coach purse that Kailey decided to christen with a projectile stream of formula while at the eye doctor's office. And now I'm fighting allergies, which I'm beginning to fear could be a cold, and have nearly worn the skin off my poor hands from using so much Purell! I can only hope my manic sterilizer efforts work and our household avoids the "ickies" for awhile longer. 

In the meantime, enjoy your fall days and be sure to wave hello if you see us out strolling quad-style!


{Home Decor} Fall Fixtures!

It just seemed odd to be decorating with pumpkins and foliage when the weather was still 90 degrees outside. But then it cooled off the tiniest bit (by, like, three degrees), the husband had football on one Sunday afternoon and his brother came over to make chili and I decided it was fall enough for Texas. So out came the decorations! Granted, this year I had to put them up around two pack-and-plays, a bouncer, four baby swings, hampers of blankets and floor mats. (Which is also how I snapped my photos...around all the "stuff." Hehe.) But, I did get them up!

Real mini pumpkins add a "freshness" to a side table in the living room.

Make your own metallic pumpkins (see in lower right photo) here!
The wreath was a super simple DIY project. I got the grapevine wreath for $5 at Hobby Lobby, then shopped the store's stock of fall picks and added them to it. Five minutes and done! I don't garden well, so I popped some faux flowers in our outdoor flower pot.

How are you ringing in the fall season?
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