Five Things

There's been a lot going on in my life the past couple weeks. Here's a quick Five Things to get you up to speed. Because I know you were worried you were missing out. ;)

1. Eight kids
My mom brought her other four grandkids (all different ages) over to my house a couple weeks ago. We entertained them all in the playroom, I made 12 grilled cheeses (plus chips, fruit, etc.) for everyone's lunch, plated all their lunches and fed eight kids at two tables, gave my nieces and nephews little goodie bags (the bubbles entertained them for 30 minutes!), handed out blue jean quilts so the older kids could watch an animated movie while the quads napped then had one more round of play time before the big kids went home. I was genuinely touched at how the big kids were so excited to play with the babies and how well they did. The big kids repeatedly asked how long the quads were going to be napping and when they would wake up. Finally I asked why they were so interested and they replied, "Because we miss them!" My favorite line of the day was my six-year-old nephew, Levi, asking to hold Trystan then upon me placing her in his lap, he said with a grunt: "This is the big one!" 

2. Harrison's surgery
My little man is now 15 months old and finally was due up for his circumcision surgery. We did not have this done at the hospital after he was born because of his prematurity and his rough start, so it was a no brainer to wait until he was older. We briefly contemplated not having him circumcised at all but the social stigma that comes with that and the whole "Why am I different?" question that will come with group baths with toddler friends, sports and locker room scenarios and, eventually, grown up dating and love life (that will NOT happen until he's 35, right!?) led us to strongly feel this was the right call. However, I had two minor panic attacks while at the hospital with him because I hadn't really been in that setting since the babies came home from the NICU. Everything was all too familiar again and just seeing him with the monitors and an IV, laying in a bed was very, very difficult for both me and the husband. We were both with him all day, which started early and ended late, but he did fantastic and was home by that evening. His recovery is going great and a few more days and he'll be himself again.

3. Champagne brunch
Some of my best girl friends got to come see the house, say hi to the babies and hang out with mimosas and brunch food on a recent Sunday morning. There's only a few of us pictured below since we didn't think to take a photo until some had left, but it was a very special occasion to me nonetheless and a welcome opportunity to spend some quality time with some of the most special girls in my life. We all have various life paths now and some live in different states, but we all manage to stay connected and get together occasionally throughout the year! I met all of these girls through my club synchronized swim team I joined when I was 7 and swam with most of them for 11 years. Lifelong friendships were cultivated and we've been a "team" ever since.

4. Smart toddlers
The babies really are growing. They're pretty much toddlers now, though it's hard for me to refer to them as such. I can't believe they're now 15 months! All have been walking well for several months now, they babble a lot and are really starting to express themselves even more and are desperately trying to form a few words. Trystan can say "doggie" and Harrison will occasionally repeat "blue" when we say it. We've been working on more sensory-oriented activities as I'm able (I have an easy one to share soon!) and have started reviewing color and shape flash cards as well as regularly using bowls and plates at meal time. They are getting smarter with their toys as well, and have really starting getting the hang of cause-and-effect. We got them a little toy work bench and today Trystan was taking the large plastic screws and pushing them into the holes on the work bench. I was very impressed!

5. Sick toddlers
We have officially had our first round of sick babies. All four got a cold a week or so ago and it's been hell on my daytime stamina. Just wiping four super runny noses every five seconds all day long is exhausting. Then keeping up with medicine, dirty diapers, hydrating everyone and giving TLC to four clingy, grumpy kiddos is hard. The nighttime process alone is so much more complicated. We get everyone fed as much as they'll begrudgingly eat then change them, apply Vicks to their chest, give them medicine, plug in all their humidifiers, get teethers and fresh sheets and sleep sacks (I change these out often when they're sick) and rock nearly all four to calm down before sleep. Whew. I truly hope this is almost over. Add in Harrison's surgery recovery and it's been a doozy...

Hope you've had a fab week. Next up on the blog: my new Mongolian chicken recipe and it's delish!
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{My Recipes} Banana Chocolate Chip "Cookies"

So these cookies aren't your traditional cookies. They're soft and a bit chewy and made entirely out of bananas...well, mostly. There's only three ingredients and they count as healthy in my book so I shoveled three in my mouth as soon as they'd cooled off. Plus the quads all devoured them, too, so they're a good option for kiddos' snacks! I found several similar recipes on Pinterest and pinpointed exactly the right amount of chocolate chips to add so here's the skinny on my banana cookies...

1 cup rolled oats or quick oats
2 mashed bananas (like, thoroughly mashed)
1/3 cup chocolate chips

Mix all the ingredients really well, then spoon onto an ungreased non-stick baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.

The results are a soft, slightly chewy, fruity cookie that I've decided not to feel guilty about eating. Enjoy, my friends!
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P.S. I'm finally jumping on the Pinterest bandwagon! Hover over any of the images on my blog for my "Pin It" button to appear and save to your Pinterest page (please remember to mind the copyright rules and don't claim as your own material or reproduce any images). Also, follow me on Pinterest under Texas Tales. Happy pinning. :)


{Home Decor} New Progress on the House!

It's been a crazy busy couple weeks and the last days have been even more hectic, mostly because all four babies have colds. And they're still teething. So double joy. I'm not sure if the colds were brought on from teething—they haven't been taking tolerating their new chompers growing in very well—or from visitors. Either way, we're blowing our way through box after box of Kleenex and are keeping up with a very strict Infant Advil schedule. Thankfully they're still eating decently and aren't running fevers, so I hope they kick this crud in a couple days. But let me tell you, sick quadruplets is exhausting.

Before that, I had eight kids at my house since my mom brought my other nieces and nephews over for a day. I have some great photos and cute stories to share on that later. And tomorrow I'm hosting a Champagne brunch with my bestie girlfriends, hence all the mad woman cleaning and decorating on the first floor rooms to get things presentable. I'm so excited to start sharing our home! Then Wednesday the husband and I will be with Harrison all day as he's to have a minor surgery procedure (circumcision) early in the morning. Then the husband is off on a hunting trip and I'm manning the place and hope to God the babies are on the mend by then.

In the meantime, I thought I'd snap a couple pics to show you guys the progress in the kitchen, dining room and adult living room thus far! I'm nearly done decorating the kitchen and, despite the mess, you can see it all coming together and I'm loving my ivy above the cabinets. Won't be long until I stick in a few springs of autumn leaves for fall!

Opposite the kitchen is the breakfast room, and thanks to both my step-dad and father-in-law our Texas light is now installed! (You can barely see it, but there's bronze stars on the glass light.) I love the stars on the wall as they tie it together well, and am still on the hunt for the right valances to hang across the top of the windows. We get such great natural light here during the day and have beautiful views into our backyard, that we don't intend to add any blinds or curtains.

Right off the kitchen is our dining room, which is pretty much done now! I busted my ass the last couple days to get all the stacks of boxes lined emptied and put away. Most of the decor I already had, save for the vase and faux flowers on top of the china hutch.

I love my zebra canvas lamp shades, a steal of a buy at Stein Mart a couple years ago. Seriously, they were like 30 cents apiece. The table was a $200 Craig's List purchase and I've mentioned before that I plan to paint it an ebony black with Annie Sloan's chalk paint. Soon, I hope, very soon!

Fresh flowers are the perfect centerpiece for the Champagne brunch I'm hosting tomorrow (Sunday) and I loved the light green roses! The china we have in the hutch is Spode's Woodlands collection and is perfect for the husband and I. We don't do traditional china and he loves hunting so the quail, labradors and other wild life depicted on the plates and bowls is very fitting for our home. The cute wreath hanging on the door was a handmade gift from my nanny! And, because this is real life, yes that's a huge dog kennel in the corner for our labs to sleep in at night. They refuse to sleep separately so our two 90 pound dogs curl up together in the same kennel and snore until morning!

The dining room gives way to the adult living room, so called because there are no baby toys in there! It's completely child-free, since we use our second living room as a play room for the kids. We enjoy this so much, I can't even explain to you the satisfaction that comes at the end of the day when we can kick back in there with a TV show or movie and truly relax. (The husband was doing just that watching football while I snapped the pictures.) It's still very much a work in progress, as we have some more things to put on the walls and need to mount the TV as well.

This room was a dark tan when we bought the house, but since we had to have a lot of repair work done and several parts of wall and ceiling replaced, we went with a lighter shade. I'm so glad we did because it makes the room feel big, light and airy versus cramped and dark. I keep some of my favorite glass and crystal photo frames on the piano, which I unfortunately have played probably twice in the last year! I took six years of lessons when I was younger and only remember a few tunes and can't read sheet music all that quick anymore. But I do hope to instill a love of music in my children as they grow up and hopefully they learn (temporarily at least) to play an instrument of some sort.

On the coffee table are more flowers (the pink roses are from my front yard!) as well as memory books I made of the kids' first year. I created a book on Snapfish for every three months, chronicling all their major milestones and special memories. I still need to finish their 9-12 month book! These are a great thing to share with visitors and gives them a personalized inside look at the first year.

My desk area needs work! I've not even begun to organize or sort anything there. Still on the hunt for much of office belongings, actually, and got tired by the end of the day so I stacked all the random odds and ends on top and called it done for now.

I also made a few changes to my gallery wall I shared a few days ago and added a couple more black frames. I love this display and that it will continue to transition over the years as I add new pieces and fill the entire wall.

That's it so far! I'll have more to share soon and my next big project is our master bedroom. It's literally a bed in a sea of boxes and clothes, so I have quite a bit to do in there. Happy weekend!
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Five Things

1. St. Ives Replenishing Mineral Lotion. Love how soft it is and it absorbs quickly, which has been great for healing my super dry hands.

2. Half and half combo of Tazo Awake English Breakfast and Tazo Zen Tea. It's seriously delicious and the right amount of caffeine to keep me going.

3. Muslin sleep sacks and crib sheets by aden + anais, on sale at Buy Buy Baby and Babies R Us! These are super soft and perfect for our hot Texas summers. The breathable fabric keeps the babies from sweating, yet it's warm and cozy in cooler temps. The quads literally rubbed their cheeks and hands on the fabric when I first put them on their beds and they seemed very content!

4. Frozen coconut yogurt (with all the sinful toppings) from my local RaceTrac gas station. Yes, a gas station. Can you believe it? Love that place. They also have tons of freshly brewed flavored teas, like pomegranate berry green tea.

5. Pür Minerals CC Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 40. This is thicker than lotions or BB creams but lighter than foundation and provides great coverage. I love it for daytime wear—with simple blush, mascara and lip gloss—and it's got killer SPF, to boot.

What are you loving lately?
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P.S. I've made Five Things a new blog category, so now you can find lots of my current faves all in one place.


{Daily Pics} Sweet Freedom & "Quadtriplets"

my lil cheeseball, trystan

whatcha doin', kailey?

a long overdue visit from one of my best friends who finally got to meet the quads!

skyping with daddy during dinner while he was out of the country on business

eliciting "freedom envy" from the others

a quad-triplet play date—a term we often hear ourselves when people don't know what to call quads :]

kailey girl's first pigtails...looks just like me as a kid here

Hope your week is off to a sweet start...
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P.S. The winner of my Stella & Dot giveaway.


The Things I Don't Do

"I'm all done. I've completed EVERYTHING there is to do and I've got nothing left to finish," said no mother, ever. And definitely no quad momma, ever either.

There's always a list five miles long and growing, either in the form of three haphazardly scribbled notes on my kitchen counter or a buzzy, distracting mental list in the back of my mind. Which must be why my brain short circuits a few times a day. I feel like my phone when it blinks annoyingly at me and tells me I'm running low on storage space. Join the club, buddy.

There are those incredibly sweet people out there who think I'm super mom or ask how in the world I "get it all done?" Yes, I raise four babies, I make all their food from scratch most of the time, I take them out for little adventures and field trips or to eat lunch as a family, I run this blog, I work occasionally from home (I'm a writer by profession), I'm building up to relaunch my Etsy shop where I sell handmade jewelry, I'm decorating and managing a new-to-us home (much larger than I'm used to and a lot more upkeep *happy sigh*) and all the other odds and ends that come with family life (doctor appointments times four, vet visits for pets, home maintenance, yard work, etc.). I'm nearly constantly in motion from the time I get up to the time I go to bed, and I determine how many glasses of wine to drink each night by how fast my left eye is twitching at day's end. More twitches equal more wine.

Right now, the babies toddlers are teething again and I can barely put them in their play room and walk three steps into the kitchen before I'm back in there dealing with a grumpy kiddo or separating an all-out toy fight. Even with a fully baby proofed space, Kailey is constantly showing them things I forgot or overlooked and didn't think she could climb. Then when all are appeased I return to the kitchen but can't remember what I was originally going in there for and spend a couple minutes trying to remember then decide to start on something else and riiiiighhhttt when I'm about to do that, someone screams again. However, there are shortcuts I incorporate into my day—many without really acknowledging it—that help me survive. I don't do it all. Hell, I barely do any of it some days. Inspired by a recent post from furniture painter, decorator and homeschooling mom Shaunna at Perfectly Imperfect, here's a list of things I don't do, however honest (and slightly embarrassing) they may be.

~ I Don'ts ~

*I don't brush my hair every day. I just don't. It's long and curly by nature, so most of the time it gets wound up on top of my head in a big messy mess and that's where it stays. Occasionally I'll braid it. For special events, I'll blow dry and straighten it.

*I don't always brush my teeth before I go to bed.

*I don't always clean the kitchen at the end of the day. Many, many times I turn off the kitchen lights and pronounce the day is done. When the babies are sleeping and one of my favorite TV shows is on the DVR and my husband and I are both tired, I leave the dishes where they are, I turn away from the dirty counter tops, I don't pull the laundry out of the dryer and we retreat to our living room and relax.

*I don't spend all my spare time running errands and, instead, order a million things on Amazon. We even get ziploc bags and toothpaste on there. Cuts down on time spent in the grocery store.

*I don't change clothes when I wake up sometimes. On more occasions than I care to admit, I put on a fresh t-shirt to sleep in at night then add yoga pants or workout shorts in the morning and wear that all day. There's a sick satisfaction in the evening when I go to shower and drop my clothes in the dirty laundry, knowing they've been used to their fullest and deserve a good wash. Ha.

*I don't diet. I just don't. (Though I try to eat more of exactly what I feed the kids since I make sure they have a balanced meal plan.)

*I don't take the kids with us every where we go. We try to get them outside of the house at least twice a week and sometimes going for a walk has to count. The husband and I are very strategic when we do plan outings to help it go smoothly and ensure the babies get the most out of it. Occasionally they come with us to Costco or Kroger or for lunch with grandparents, and we are becoming more brave about attending family and friend events, but those are also kept to a limit.

*I don't drink coffee. At all. I love the smell of freshly brewed coffee but don't like the flavor, plus it makes my stomach hurt. While I have a fully-stocked Keurig for my hot teas and for family to enjoy coffee, I drink Coke most mornings. One Coke a day and that's it.

*I don't worry about laundry stains. It's a weird thing, but it just doesn't bother me. Stains happen, especially on the quad's clothes. So I spray them with organic stain remover when I get around to it and just hope for the best. Oddly enough, the majority of them wash clean without a problem—even bright red berries smashed into a onesie.

*I don't rely on always having people around to help me. I know that I can make it through an entire day on my own with all four kids and I can do that however long I need to. I can load them all into the car myself and run drive-through errands or go get a Coke or something if I start to get stir crazy and need to leave the house. That said, I'm blessed to have a very supportive family and super-involved grandparents for the quads that come around willingly—especially on and off during the week when the husband is working and barely sees the babies before bed. And we found a wonderful nanny that we now have two mornings a week.

*I don't beat myself up when I feel like I didn't get it all done. Recently, I've begun working out again. I had grand aspirations to work out three times a week and thought that was fairly attainable. It's harder than I thought and some days I'm so tired and sore just from handling the kids that I can't even think about it. But I let it go because it's all a process and every effort counts - even when the effort was nothing but good intentions!

*I don't (or try not to) work until I drop. There's no point in running myself into the ground day after day after day. I want to be a good mother to my kids and be involved in what they're doing on the daily and I don't want to get so caught up in remedial tasks like laundry and dishes that I wear myself out and become oblivious to the little things I enjoy so much. Some days this is easier said than done!

*I don't wear makeup every day. Thought I can't imagine this is much of a surprise after my confession about how long I wear a t-shirt! If we're going somewhere, then I do put in a little effort, but many times a hat will do me.

*I don't deep clean my house. Granted it's a new house for us and there's still dust in places from the repair work we had done prior to moving in, but I do maintenance cleaning. Eventually we'll hire a maid service to come once a month and when that happens, I'll smile a big fat happy grin.

*I don't usually go to bed early. The evenings are my time to spend how I choose! A late errand, working on a deadline, dinner with the husband at home, catching up on our TV shows or renting a movie, running out for frozen coconut yogurt (my newest obsession) or whatever. When we sleep trained our kids, we put them on our schedule. So they don't wake up at 6am! My alarm clock goes off at 7:15am and then I'm up and running.

*I don't wash my hair everyday. Since it's thick and curly, I can get away with washing it two or three times a week at most.

*I don't hesitate to feed my kids Chick-Fil-A. It's the one fast food restaurant that I feel provides somewhat healthy and otherwise respectably prepared food and we eat it about once to even twice a week. Generally, Chick-Fil-A runs are reserved for when we (me with the husband or my nanny) have taken the kids out somewhere in the morning and are barely getting back in time for lunch. This saves me time and effort once we're home, food is ready to serve!

So there's you an honest list of I don'ts. What don't you do?
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P.S. All photos taken by yours truly at a recent indoor play ground outing with the quads.

P.P.S My Stella & Dot online jewelry trunk show ends at 11:59pm CST Sunday, Aug. 18 and so does my Stella & Dot giveaway! Click here to shop online and here to enter my giveaway.


{Home Decor} My New Gallery Wall

I absolutely love having photos around my home. I often tend to buy new frames for new photos, versus updating framed pictures I already have. Personally, I like seeing a mixture of old and new images that remind me of times past as well as more recently made memories and milestones. Lord knows that with quadruplets, there's plenty of those to go around these days!

It all started with three black frames showcasing three of my favorite photos of the husband and I together during our college years. I had them hung in a horizontal line across my bed in the San Marcos town house I shared with my BFF, Lisa, for the last two years of college. From there, in our past two homes, I slowly added to my black frame collection and amassed a miniature gallery collection.

After we moved into our current home, I quickly decided the downstairs hallway was the perfect spot—I could see the pictures every day, and guests could easily view them as well, since they're next to the laundry room and downstairs bathroom. I hung the "B" on the wall first then hung the frames one by one as they made sense to me. I did contemplate laying them out on the floor first in the pattern I wished to hang them, but I didn't really feel like taking time for the extra step (it was only a matter of minutes before one of the babies would start protesting from the play room), so I just went with the flow. I really like how it turned out and am so happy to see my photos on the wall again! Plus, I have three new frames to fill with new images and look forward to having fresh pictures in rotation.

The large picture of the babies is one I took of them at home myself and they were just over four months old. We'd barely gotten all of them home from the NICU at that time!

The laundry room is the first door on the left, the guest bathroom the last on the left and the door at the end of the hallway leads into the downstairs bedroom, currently used as a guest room and catch all for odds and ends as we continue to unpack.

I've had a lot of enquiries as to how the rest of the house is coming along, and it's a slow but sure process. Getting things on the wall has been a huge leap in progress! Here's a current view of our messy-lived-in-still-being-unpacked living room and dining room, with a view of the wet bar as well!

Slow and steady wins the race, right?! :)
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P.S. Don't forget to shop my online Stella & Dot trunk show now through Sunday, August 18! And enter my giveaway for the Stella & Dot Pippa necklace, too!
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