2013: Changes of our Lives!

This past year marked a momentous amount of life-altering decisions and changes for myself and my family. Not that 2012 didn't either, since that was when our four sweet miracles were born and began their incredible journey of life outside the womb. In 2013, however, we moved beyond just around-the-clock bottle feedings and diaper changes. The husband and I began to get pieces of our lives back and take stock of what was going on beyond our own four walls...and four babies!

The beginning of 2013 also kickstarted the long process to get my health back, something that I've struggled with ever since having the babies. This time last year I was getting ready to undergo a major abdominoplasty that would remove all the excess skin left behind from the extreme pregnancy and also reconstruct my abdominal wall that had been torn apart. It was a tough recovery, and to top it off another surgery eight weeks later was then required to reinforce the sutures in my ab muscles as they were too lax and the muscles were sagging forward again.

Just two weeks after that second operation, we packed up our entire house, our four babies and their mountain of supplies and made the drive from Houston to our hometown of Dallas once and for all. My mother-in-law accompanied us, following in her car and stopping to help us feed bottles and change diapers along the way. What was typically a four hour journey became six-and-a-half with four babies to tend to and the husband and I were so exhausted when we laid our head down in that tiny two bedroom apartment that night that we both woke up with 102 degree fevers the next morning. It was a terrible next few days as we struggled to both recover and get situated all while continuing on with our daily schedule with the quads.

At that time, 2013 quickly became a season of change, expectations, let downs and a trial in patience. The following four months entailed relentless house hunting on my part while the husband adjusted to his new job, I cared for the quads (with the help of a fabulous new nanny, a longtime friend and parents), continuing writing articles and stories for my work and maintained whatever sense of normalcy I could muster while we made do in the apartment. We dealt with a vehicle break-in when someone stole the entire back bench out of our suburban, my cat of nearly 23 years passed away suddenly and the housing market proved to be brutally fast-paced with new listings coming on and then quickly going under contract before we could even get a look at them. I continued to make all the babies' food out of that tiny apartment kitchen, went on my first Target outing with the quads with the help of my nanny, had play dates with our fellow quad buddies, celebrated my 28th birthday and the babies also made the trip to meet their great grandpa for the first time. We even filmed a Mother's Day segment for a local TV news station.

Before we knew it, the babies had turned a year old. It was incredible looking back on those previous 365 days and realizing we had survived. Though all parents know the feeling of those tiny babies in your arms and cherishing that stage, NICU parents can relate to how we felt when we would immediately remember those two and three pound babies hooked up to endless wires, monitors, breathing support, IVs and medications in order to keep them alive and growing those first two months. Harrison gets me, most of all, because I can still see him so clearly fighting for life on that ventilator and recall the enormous flood of numbing pain that filled my heart when we nearly lost him at 10 days old.

Needless to say, aside from their birth in May of 2012, 2013 held one of our biggest milestones when we hosted their first birthday party at a lakeside house rental accompanied by loads of friends and family. We literally packed a U-Haul full of stuff (from pack and plays to a corral fence to bins of toys and boxes of diapers) that we took to the lake with us, as it required lots and lots of supplies to relocate four babies and a party for a whole weekend. But we made some great memories, despite working our asses off the whole time, and everything was a success! Several friends and even parents stayed overnight at the house with us and there was room for everyone with a tremendous view of the sunrises and sunsets over the lake.

The celebration was only made sweeter with the announcement that we had secured a home, one we were absolutely in love with! We discovered it had a mold infestation that needed to be treated and spent more money and time on it then we'd initially planned, as well as hired painters for several of the rooms. After six weeks things still weren't completed but we were able to plan our move-in and paint and repairs were completed a few weeks later. True to our style, we planned the big move for the Fourth of July and 2013 evolved into a year of planting new roots in our "forever home."

With those new roots came time at our new digs with friends and family who were all too happy to visit and check out the quad's big new play room! We also brought the babies to their first birthday parties, took them for their first dip in a real pool and to the Dallas aquarium, brought our two dogs home and continued to unpack boxes. As the fall of 2013 came around, I began to learn how to cut myself some slack (a work in progress) and accept the things I could do and the things I couldn't. I took pride in accomplishing simple projects and in at last being able to decorate a home once again. The husband and I celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary and relished how far we'd come, how strong our relationship is and the joy of being parents together. We look forward to parts of our daily routine, like the bedtime stampede, and weekends spent reconnecting with folks and enjoying our kids. We dressed the babies in their first Halloween costumes and were able to plan a few nights out with friends, while the babies stayed home.

As 2013 slowly rolled to a close, I sought out a new doctor to discover why I was still feeling so bad (aching bones, headaches, nausea, etc.). Test results showed I had a severe vitamin D deficiency, which explained why my actual bones in my feet and knees were hurting so bad every day, and a very low B-12 range. I also had a big serotonin imbalance—which affects your mood and energy levels—and other digestive issues that I'm still in the process of addressing. A few prescriptions later and I'm steadily continuing my road back to health!

When the holidays hit, 2013 became a time to celebrate as we hosted two Thanksgivings, our own annual Christmas party and attended three Christmas celebrations. (Posts on most of that to come!) The husband and I both got sick just in time for Christmas and, while we enjoyed bringing the babies to see everyone, required quite the recovery afterward. We were thrilled when my mom and step-dad spontaneously offered to come care for the quads for 24 hours so we could get an overnight break! And we get a second overnight break this coming Saturday thanks to good friends of ours! We'd actually been planning this coming weekend for weeks now, and just can't believe we get two overnight escapes two Saturdays in a row. Just an afternoon away from the house together does both the husband and I wonders, so you can imagine how refreshed and rested we feel after being gone 24 hours. It's providing us a wonderful chance to reconnect, reflect and recharge!

Now as 2013 truly comes to an end, we are preparing to hit the road this afternoon with the kids in tow to visit the husband's grandpa and bake cookies at his house, explore the field in his back yard and feast on Chicken Express for dinner before we head back home. This New Year's will be different for us in Dallas since we're used to legalized fireworks back in the Houston suburbs and had become accustomed to sleeping through a war zone come nightfall. It'll also be different as we fall asleep with our 18-month-old babies and wake up with 19-month-old toddlers. I can't believe we're nearly into the 20s, soon to be followed by their second birthday! (You can check out my birthday planning inspiration on Pinterest here. The scheming has begun!)

Needless to say, 2013 hosted an abundance of major life changes and milestones, challenges and victories. It marked the beginning of our new life back at home, as we've always called Dallas, and seen our family evolve into a much more active, normalized state of being. Our one word for 2014 is: consistency. We look forward to a more stabile environment, less major changes and more meaningful exchanges, a few weekend getaways here and there (even some with the babies!), DIY projects on our home as well as parties and get-togethers for quality memory making. We wouldn't trade the last year, or last two years really, for anything in the world but you can bet your bottom dollar we're ready to stay put for a little while and experience a more ordinary side of life!

We are so appreciative to all our family members and those special friends that have made our year so meaningful and helped us survive the tough days and enjoy the good ones even more. Here's to 2014 and the wonderful things it's sure to bring...

Happy New Year!
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{Home Decor} Holiday Home Tour + 2013 Christmas Card

I started decorating early this year since we hosted a big Christmas party last weekend and I didn't want to be rushed to get things done at the last minute. (Which, by the way, the party started at 7pm and at 7:05 I put the last appetizer on the table, wiped off my hands and ordered a drink from our bartender we hired for the night! Talk about best laid plans! More on that later...)

So without further ado, here's our home holiday tour, which features most of the downstairs portion of our home. I didn't decorate the bedrooms—other than mini trees in the kids' rooms, you can see photos of them decorating those at the end of this post—and there was very minimal decor in the downstairs bath, laundry room and hallway. Be sure to be on the lookout for our penguin named Herman, gifted several years back by the husband's younger brother, spurred by my husband's fascination with penguins. ;)

I love all our family ornaments we're quickly acquiring on the tree and our stockings on the staircase was the perfect solution to the fireplace mantel being out of commission this year. (You know, 40 curious fingers and all...). I got those stockings last Christmas and ended up simply ironing on monogram letters to each of them for our six-member family and they couldn't have turned out better. I was shocked at how simple and cost effective they were. Got them for $7 apiece at Hobby Lobby!

And yes, I showed you our Christmas card display in a very messy kitchen. Because that's how it looks 99.9999% of the time and you know I like to keep it real. Sometimes. ;)

It was really fun decorating this year—even if I didn't use every decoration I own—and it was even more fun to see the kids reactions to everything when they would spot something new after naps or upon waking up in the morning. Holidays really are something special with kiddos! I dream of the day they'll all come running down the stairs super early on Christmas morning to see what's under the tree. That day won't be far off!

In parting, here's a look at our Christmas card this year. I always make them on Snapfish and love the blue and white theme for 2013 and you can see the correlation between it and my current blog header. Ha!

Happy holidays to you and yours from Texas Tales!
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