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.
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!
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... ;)