{Quad Squad} 16 Month Update!

For as many moments as I feel overwhelmed with everything going on in my life, there are even more moments that I'm so eternally grateful for all our blessings. Including four significantly important ones that are now 16.5 months old!

The quads are turning corners nearly daily now, and quicker than a whip. They're literally running all over the place no matter where they are. In their play room, you can typically find them all in their own space discovering a new toy or finally figuring out how something really works rather than just absently fiddling with it. They're starting to pick up the cause-and-effect ideas very rapidly now. This weekend, the husband and I took them to a local park and let them run around. We wished we could've stayed longer but it was randomly very hot—despite the slowly arriving fall weather that's been teasing us for the past week—and the 90+ degree temps meant all the kids turned pretty red-faced pretty quick. The husband and I were drenched in sweat because, right after we got all the kids out of their strollers, they all went in four very different directions. I do believe my husband likened it to playing a video game much akin to Nintendo's Duck Hunt, where you have to get all the flying birds before they leave the screen or they're gone forever. Disperse and conquer!

It's also the reason we're very strategic about where we take the quads and when and how many people we have to strengthen the ranks. Weddings and parties pretty much require four adults, one to supervise each kid. They don't like being held all the time when there's activity going on and we can't just keep them contained in strollers, so it's like needing their own body guard to keep them in one piece and out of anything dangerous or breakable! Not long ago, Harrison snatched one of my ceramic pumpkins off the coffee table in the "adult" living room, hoisted it overhead then sent it smashing to the ground in smithereens before I could even react. Boys!

The crew had two colds back-to-back a couple weeks ago and, fingers crossed, haven't been sick since. Though I know we'll pick something up before long. Which is part of our very hearty attempts to live outside a bubble. When we brought them home from the NICU, we were careful to sanitize our hands every two seconds, let no one near them that was sick, didn't take them anywhere and freaked out if they touched something in a doctor's office. Of course, they were still so fragile at that time that they could have easily ended up back in the NICU.

Now, we are exposing them to typical kid-centric settings, taking them to parks, indoor playgrounds at the mall, the zoo, aquarium, restaurants and the general outdoors. A couple days ago, I really needed some fresh air and knew the quads could use some as well. But I was home alone and didn't have the ability to tote them all to the front yard unless I plopped them into the quad stroller, which I didn't feel like hauling out of the garage. So I found a dog poop-free zone in the backyard that wasn't too inclined (part of the back is pretty steeply sloped and the babies tend to wobble around on it), threw up part of our corral fence and some blankets and toys then brought them all outside. At some point, Logan taste tested an acorn, Trystan ate dirt and Kailey found a patch of dusty grass and went for a roll. Part of being a kid, right? And at Legoland with our friends, the Shawver quads, both us quad moms witnessed our kids lick legos that had been handled by who knows how many other children. Neither of us freaked, a big accomplishment for former preemie-multiple-NICU mommas. "We will not live in a bubble!" we recited to each other.

Words are coming slowly but gradually with our crew. They now know and recognize when to say ball, dog, tree, ear, nose and belly button. Other words are still hit and miss but we're working on colors, the alphabet and body parts. They all know each other's names and can look at any particular sibling when you ask them to locate one. They know when to bring you something by a combination of us pointing and asking for things (like when they run off with the other half of someone's outfit while I'm getting them dressed), and they are grasping a broader understanding of when the husband and I talk to them in general. They also get called a concoction of names on occasion when I have to run through the roster of titles and get stuck trying to find the right one. For instance, if I attempt to garble Harrison and Kailey's names it usually comes out "Hailey" and if I accidentally combine Logan and Trystan's names whatever ensues typically sounds similar to "Locust."

They all know how to use a fork now, which is fantastic when we're feeding them mashed potatoes for dinner! Trystan particularly loves this activity and takes great pride in loading her fork full of carbs and shoveling it into her mouth. She's still a carb gal and maintains a very limited consumption of fruits and vegetables. Harrison, however, has learned how to throw food with impressive aim and hit my leg with a piece of fajita chicken last night at dinner. It's not out of dislike for his meals or boredom but rather the newfound ability of making an object soar through the air. His parents aren't thrilled, to say the least.

Somehow, someway, I manage to come up with things to continue to challenge the kids a couple times a week. Whether it's a trip outdoors and feeling grass, flowers and leaves or an educational toy or flash cards that we practice with occasionally. I remind myself it doesn't have to be an elaborate scheme or grand activity, sometimes simple things and just the power to explore are enough to spark a new discovery or learning experience. I keep several large plastic tubs filled with toys and rotate them in and out of the play room and the kid's rooms about once a week. This way, they're getting fresh toys to play with in each space every couple of days and it helps them not get too bored. One time, I filled empty water bottles halfway with dried lentils and put the lids back on reinforced with packing tape (so no one would swallow a bottle top) and they provided hours of giggling and entertainment! Empty baby wipe containers also make for a novel experience as do open windows in cooler weather and a variety of bath toys in the tub.

There are some days where we don't do much out of the ordinary and it's all I can do to keep my energy going. Some days everyone's in a great mood and I spend hours in the play room with them goofing off and having fun with them, both together and individually. Other days they entertain themselves while I work nearby on my computer, as I recently began working part-time again (I'm a freelance journalist). Some afternoons a walk suffices as an agreeable change in scenery and other days a full-on outing is required, be it a meal at a restaurant or a play date somewhere. It's all a changing work in progress and if we ever threaten to get too comfortable, the kids through us a curve ball! Lately it's been teething again, as they're all cutting molars. Harrison's mouth seems to be causing him particular pain and he produces pools of drool and has to have Advil and frozen teethers to help alleviate the discomfort.

Weights are improving, two of the kids have topped 20 pounds (Harrison and Trystan) and now get to ride in big kid car seats. Meanwhile, the other two still have about half a pound to go before they can switch to facing forward. Since the two riding backyards face the two riding forwards in the very back row, there's lots of funny faces and laughter in the car right now. I love it!

Their 15 month doctor appointment (which we actually had when they turned 16 months due to switching to a new pediatrician) went really well and they all had great reports. Everything's right on track! My mom was gracious enough to go with us so we had enough hands, which was good since Harrison threw up just as we pulled into the parking lot. Something about yogurt and eggs and getting thrown into the car then bounced all the way down the street didn't sit well with him! Also made me very glad we don't have kids that get car sick all the time!

At the end of each day, I'm so glad that our biggest issues are common challenges that come with raising healthy, happy children. The husband and I take time for ourselves now and then and have tried to become better about this—movie night coming up this week and a Cowboy's game in early November!—because happy parents makes for happier kiddos. And a happier family. Plus, I have continued to enjoyed sharing our journey with all you wonderful readers out there and have been so touched by the many thoughtful, supportive comments so many of you leave on a regular basis. So thanks for reading and for taking an interest in our lives. The thrill of the ride hasn't dulled the slightest bit... ;)
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  1. I love reading your blog. You have such a way with words and your kids are so stinkin' cute!!!
    I wanted to share some car seat info that I hope you will find helpful. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends keeping babies rear-facing until 4 years of age. This is because they are at VERY HIGH risk of breaking their necks in a frontal crash because their vertebra do not harden until closer to school age and their spinal columns can easily snap. This is also known as internal decapitation. I know you are excited to be able to look back and see their smiling faces, but it's really very dangerous for babies so young...their fragile bodies just cannot handle crash forces. There are many great convertible car seats out there that will rear-face until they are 4 years old. I just wanted to share this information with you so you can make an informed choice on when to forward face your kiddos. Here is a great article with more info: http://csftl.org/rear-facing-car-seat-myths-busted/
    Thanks for taking the time to read all that! You are a wonderful mom and I love how hands-on you are with the kids!

    1. Thanks for sharing the information!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful family with us. The Quads are just growing like weeds. It so amazing watching them grow from afar. Plus they are just so stinking cute it is the first thing I do in the morning to start my day. Have a great day! Sherri

    1. Thanks for stopping by, I always enjoy your comments!

  3. Happy 16 months!!! What a beautiful family!

  4. What a great update and will have to share it with John who sure loves seeing them grow. I expect that they'll know the states of the union by next week and the presidents in order the following. What a happy group of children you have! That does not happen by accident, but by lots of hard work. You and your husband are amazing. ☺

    1. Thank you SO much for recognizing all our hard work! Lots of folks say we're lucky to have good kids but we are also reaping rewards of our efforts to cultivate happy ones. ;)

  5. Gorgeous photos! They are so adorable! I'm just curious about the car seat comment that a reader wrote. I live in Australia and I have never even HEARD of car seats that will rear face until a child reaches 4!!! The recommended guidelines in Australia are that a child rear faces until they are 12 months old.

    1. There are various options here in the U.S., all depends on car seats, kids, parental decisions, safety guidelines and vehicle type. Lots of factors! We decided to stick to the common rules that a child can rear face after 12 months and after reaching 20lbs.

  6. Where did you get those adorable dishes for the kids? I love them!


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