{Five Things} Quad Squad Edition

1. The Pout-Pout Fish - This is the quad's favorite book, they ask for it to be read every night and you'll often find them with it in the play room flipping through the pages and doing their best to mimic the words they hear mommy and daddy read. It was a gift from a dear blog reader and has become a very loved tome in our house. So loved, in fact, that I just ordered another book in the Pout-Pout Fish series on Amazon this weekend!

2. Toddler Shades - I would never have believed that my fab four would actually keep their sunglasses on but something magical happened this summer and they're obsessed with wearing their shades when we go out! Splash pads, walks around the neighborhood, trips to the park—they're all for putting on the eye gear. They even ask for them specifically ("Gasses, mommy, sun gasses pease!") when we're getting ready to leave. I've bought our whole stash of toddler shades from Target, both the Carter's  brand and the $1 section.

3. Oreo Birthday Cake Flavor - If you haven't tried these Oreos yet, you haven't fully lived. I don't even like Oreos and I love these. The flavor literally tastes like a piece of birthday cake and the quads are such big fans of them that they now refuse to eat any other type of Oreo. Usually. ;)

4. Poke-A-Dot!: Who's in the Ocean? - The kiddos received two of these Poke-A-Dot books for their birthday from our fellow quad buddies and they've been an instant hit ever since. I'd never seen these books before and love the quality, the various learning opportunities they provide (colors, counting, animals, etc.) and the fact that one book can keep even Bam Bam occupied for 30 minutes straight. Amazing. The little pop "buttons" are much akin to bubble wrap and make a small popping noise when you push them in, then you turn the page and start all over!

5. Paw Patrol Racers - All four of my crew love Paw Patrol, but Harrison is the show's biggest fan. The Nick Jr. cartoon is still fairly new so there's not a lot of gear out for it yet, but Toys R Us does have a small line of supplies available. I snatched up the three available Paw Patrol cars for just $4.99 each and he play with them every single day. Success!

What are your tots loving these days?
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{My Recipes} Jalapeno Dijon Chicken

I came up with this recipe on the fly yesterday after needing something easy to go along with chicken thighs, something a little different than the usual and something that would cook well in a crock pot. There were a variety of recipes on Pinterest but none in particular that caught my eye, so I came up with my own version of Jalapeno Dijon Chicken that was a hit with the fam!

3-4 chicken breasts OR 6-8 chicken thighs
1/2 cup dijon mustard
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 to 1/3 cup sliced jalapenos (jarred variety is fine, adjust amount based on desired heat)
garlic salt
sea salt

Add all ingredients to crock pot and season with garlic salt, sea salt and pepper to your liking. Cook on high for four hours. Garnish with additional jalapenos and/or shredded cheese.

Easy peesy!
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{Five Things} Charcoal Cleanser, Blush Sticks & More

I haven't bought new skin care products in awhile, other than lotion, so I was excited to see that Ulta and Target had a few things on the shelves I'd been wanting to try. Here's what I picked up and am loving right now!

1 & 2: These wonderful Freeman Feeling Beautiful face masks are easy on the wallet at just $3.99 and at Ulta, they were buy one get one free! Charcoal is all the rage right now in beauty products so I wanted to try out the charcoal and black sugar mask and the pineapple one smelled to good to resist. I needed something refreshing on my face and used the latter one today and now my skin is all smooth and cool.

3: Speaking of charcoal, Biore Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser is another face product I'd read about in a magazine that's been getting rave reviews. I've only used it for a few days so far, but love that a little bit of the gel-like wash goes a long way, it lathers well and my face feels very smooth, clean and not dried out after each wash!

4. For a few years now, I've been wearing more blush than ever before. Bronze, peach, contour, rosy, you name it. Highlighting my cheeks with a color that reflects my mood, the season or my current skin tone has really made a difference in the look of my makeup. It looks more polished to me and my face seems to have more of a healthy glow with blush on the apples of my cheeks. This blush stick is no exception. I'd been using powder blush then applying a little sheer cream on top for a dewy finish, but the Maybelline Master Glaze Glistening Blush Stick in Pinch Pink takes care that in one step!

5. Ahhhh, my tan in a bottle. A friend recommended St. Tropez to me so I picked up the St. Tropez Gradual Tan Everyday Body Moisturiser to give my pasty self a little color. It takes a couple days to build up so verdict's still out on this one but I'm hopeful!

What new beauty find are you loving lately?
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(Quad) Father's Day & Signs of Improvement

Father's Day was a big success this year! I found the perfect card by chance at Target and had come up with a great plan the week before. With the help of my mother- and sister-in-law, we arranged a surprise golf outing for the husband, his dad and older brother. The guys loooooved getting to spend the day together at Top Golf, drink, eat and practice their put. To top off the celebration, I gave the husband a voucher for a night at a local posh little hotel that'll be a great escape in a few weeks. He loves staying at hotels, even if we aren't going out of town, and it's one of his favorite ways to get a little R&R. Who am I to argue with that logic!?

So technically his day was on Saturday and on actual Father's Day, we lounged around with the babies, watched How to Train Your Dragon with them in the play room, took naps and worked on projects and I escaped for a couple errands and the grocery store to finish off my meal planning for the week. The quad squad seems to be ever so slowly making their recovery from being sick, at least nothing's getting worse. We're still getting up once or twice a night, but the sleeping situation is improving too. Thank God because I'm exhausted!!!

My BFF, Lisa, and her kiddo were supposed to come stay with us a few days this week but we had to cancel the plans because the last thing we want is for her little boy to get sick a week before they fly back to Malaysia! Yup, you read that right. She's been living in Malaysia for several months now and still managed to surprise me at the quad's birthday party shortly after she arrived in Texas. That's a good friend! Needless to say, we were both on the verge of tears about not getting to hang out until the husband mentioned Saturday as an option and volunteered to be on quad duty. He gets a gold star and I get to head out of town Saturday morning for an overnight visit with my bestie to close out her trip home! Perfection.

In other good news, since the babies have shown improvement after being very sick for a solid week, I'm starting to show improvement, too. I've been struggling due to lack of sleep and fighting symptoms of whatever the quad's have had. But I'm starting to feel better and more energetic and the babies have been getting antsy after being indoors so much. I purged and organized their entire toy collection, my whole closet and have started on my craft closet—which is more of a "craft guest bedroom" since all my supplies are still in there after the downstairs closet completely flooded a few weeks ago. (It's since been repaired and now we're waiting to do flooring before I move stuff back in.) I decided to put together a random Discovery Box for the kids since they were getting bored in their playroom, despite the million and one toys in there! Never underestimate the power of short-spanned novelty, which entertained them for a solid 30 minutes and allowed me to finish the task at hand. I'm currently in the process of teaching the husband my tricks of the trade in order to keep one's sanity while at home with the babies for long stretches of time. ;)

This morning was a good one. My sweet nanny (pictured below in the purple t-shirt) came for a couple hours so I had help with dishes, laundry, diapers and breakfast then we took the crew to a local park for some fresh air. A nice breeze kept the play ground from being too hot and the babies did great.

As you can see from the last photo, any remnants of a tan I once had going have since completely faded and I'm back to my pasty white legs—a definite dislike of mine! Tan in a can it needs to be. And I don't think I've properly styled my hair or put on makeup in over a week, pretty much since the kids got sick. And I wore one of my husband's shirts, holey shorts and aviators to the play ground. Cooool. Life of a mom, right!? Eek. I'll be sure to put on makeup when I go visit Lisa this weekend, ha.

After the park, it was high time to stop by Sonic so I could get a Coke to ward off my headache and the kids could get little cups of crushed ice to go with their goldfish. Ice is a huge hit around here, folks.

When we got back home, my nanny headed off and I hung out with the babies in our "adult living room"—aka no kiddo toys or supplies in there, though a wagon is creeping awfully close!—and watched cartoons. Then I threw together a quick lunch with minimal mess foods (think goldfish, raisins, dried cranberries, lunch meat, cheese, etc.) and gave them a picnic-style meal while getting to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. A rare treat!

They've since done naps, I've watched Keeping Up With the Kardashians and now we're all eating snacks and thinking about dinner. Or Bubble Guppies. Or whatever. Thankfully Grandma and Granddad are here tomorrow and I hear freedom calling my name...
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{Quad Squad} Two Year Update!

I started to type "24 Month Update" but then hesitated, because that just seems a little awkward to me. I've already converted from months to years when it comes to telling people the age of my kids. Not long ago the answer was, "They're 18 months." But now my babies are toddlers and they're two years old.

So while my kids have been napping and the husband is off on a Top Golf excursion with his dad and older brother—which I organized as a surprise for Father's Day...wife of the year, right here!—the house is completely quiet and I've opted to regale you with tales of my two year olds.

Let's start with stats (in birth order, of course!):

I find it fascinating that they all weight within three ounces of each other. The nurse asked me if I fed them all exactly the same size portions. To which I replied, "Pretty much!" (Check out some of the food the quads are served in my Tyke Bites series.)

I totally thought Logan was going to be the small fry for a long time since she was only 2lbs 6oz when she was born (not that the others weighed that more much, Harrison was heaviest at 3lbs 6oz). But instead, they all weigh close together and I've got two small petite gals—Trystan and Logan—and two tall, lanky, skinny kiddos—Kailey and Harrison. These kids keep me entertained, frustrated, deliriously happy, exhausted and energized all at the same time.

They are extremely active and mobile now, running, jumping and climbing everywhere. It's a whole new kind of challenge and busy that we find ourselves immersed in these days. We still have a dedicated play room in our home that's blocked off with baby gates, so the babies have a safe place to play and entertain themselves and give me a break. I can easily keep an eye on them while in the kitchen, doing laundry or cleaning the house. Or I can try to be sneaky and work on my laptop from the island in the kitchen while hoping no one spots me for at least a few minutes!

Here's a typical day in the life right now...

8:30-9am - wake up
9-9:30am - breakfast
9:30-12pm - play time inside and/or outside or an outing to somewhere (baths are M/W/F)
12ish- lunch
1-4 - nap time and individual play time in cribs (this works so well for them!)
4-6pm - play time inside and/or outside, craft at the table or other activity
6-7pm - dinner and get dressed for bed, brush teeth
7-8pm - play time with mom & dad (they are soooo happy at this time of day)
8-8:30pm - bedtime!

Granted the schedule can change if we're going somewhere and don't get back until late for naps or need to head off somewhere in the afternoon and do a late dinner or have a play date or the quads are sick and what not. Last night they enjoyed playing with chalk on the walkway in the front yard since the fresh air was nice after being sick in the house all week. Two neighbor kids came by and played with them and we didn't get around to dinner until 8pm. That sort of change doesn't seem to bother the quads and we just get back on schedule as best we can, but don't sweat the changes too much. The schedule is there to help us survive each day in an orderly fashion and to help those who are here when the husband and I are not! (Which is rare, but happens.) It doesn't mandate what we do and we've really enjoyed a lot more flexibility with the babies so far this summer, they have been getting to do more activities now that they're older and more capable.

Talking is at an all-time high, Harrison is a Polly Parrot and will repeat anything and everything you say. He hums tunes to songs, sings bits and pieces of ABC, the Ants go Marching, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Wheels on the Bus and more. He says quite a few short sentences and can communicate pretty much any need or desire very well. The girls tend to follow closely behind and everyone stays fairly similar to each other and the quads are constantly motivating each other to progress.

Here are some videos to show you what they're up to!

We are certainly enjoying this fun stage and are so proud of the kids for how well they're doing. It's also nice to feel like we're getting to partake in "normal life" and attend events and parties with the quads, host family get-together's at our house, get out for drinks with friends and so on.

It was a huge moment to complete their two-year check-ups with no shots required and no other doctor appointments to schedule until they turn 3!!! (Or unless they get sick, of course. We've been battling severe colds and fevers all week, it's been survival mode.) I've been so used to having at least one doctor appointment every few weeks or months....when we first started out with four babies at home we had as many as five a week!!!

So far this summer, we've spent a lot of time playing outside with chalk, on the new playground in the backyard that the husband built, going for wagon rides in the neighborhood, playing with new birthday toys and a new train/lego table, planning field trips and play dates in the coming weeks—hello splash pads!—and making sure we beat the heat as temps steadily approach triple digits. Oh, and styling mommy's hair because she likes getting it pulled and yanked.

You better believe that's Harrison, rolling on a pink trike like a BOSS. Even pink can be a little manly. That and the dude just has three freaking sisters. ;)

And in case you missed it, here's a look at their two year Bubble Guppies-themed birthday party!
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{Quad Squad} Survival Mode

We used to refer to the term "survival mode"often in our house. Of course, at that time our house was a tiny little place in Houston and we'd just brought home our fourth and final baby from the NICU and were dealing with 36 bottles every 24 hours and babies that didn't know night from day.

It's been a little while since I've uttered those two words, but they've been more than accurate to describe my household for the past two days. I'm completely exhausted and run down and the babies are the sickest they've ever been since being discharged from the hospital. Which is amazing, since they're two years old and the worst things we've dealt with have been colds and low-grade fevers. This go-round, it's been high grade fevers and the type of runny noses, snot, sneezes and more than require warm wash clothes just to unmat their faces when they wake up in the morning. After they've woken up 4,523 times in the night. And the husband's been out of town on business, to boot. Peachy, huh?

I'm certainly grateful that our kids seem to be healthy overall, and that they don't come down with stuff like this often. We don't avoid public outings like we did when they were new preemie babies and were trying to quarantine them the first six months for risk of catching something. Now we live life normally and don't worry about that stuff so much. But somewhere along the way this past week they must've picked up a lovely little virus that has reared it's ugly head and left me droopy-eyed and stooped from lack of sleep. I literally bought our Kroger out of Cool Touch Kleenex—the only kind we use when the babies are ill, because it's gentlest on their noses—and stocked up on all our usual arsenal of sick-fighters from Children's Advil to Pedialyte.

i love the cucumber & green tea huggies wipes i found for soothing dry faces,
and we keep teethers in the freezer for cooling hot foreheads or munching on for molars
I've got a notepad going so I can remember when I gave what meds to who, as Logan has needed alternating doses of Children's Tylenol and Advil. Two nights ago, Harrison refused to go to bed as usual since his daddy was gone and he wasn't happy about it. So he stayed up with me until 11pm, which is when Grandma arrived, and I so enjoyed my one-on-one time with him.

Unfortunately, no sooner had I put him down for bed when Logan started having a nightmare and I raced back upstairs to comfort her. As I picked her up, I noticed she was steaming hot and checked her temp to discover it was 103.7. My mom and I gave her Advil immediately and some ice water and I called the doctor on call to see what course of action was best for me to take. I'd never dealt with such high temps before and wanted to be sure I did everything right. He told me to keep up with the meds and fluids and give her a lukewarm bath for five to 10 minutes, then bring her in the next morning if her fever hadn't gone down enough.

a very sick lolo
Fortunately it had broke before lunch, but I didn't get to sleep until 3am and woke up two more times after that. The babies have been pretty tolerable of this crud, but get needy off and on and sometimes they want to be the only one in your lap and not have to share with a sibling. I totally feel for them and wish I had more arms! Though they did get excited when I surprised them with Bubble Guppies pajamas for the girls and Cars pj's for the big man. (Those are the girl's first night gowns, by the way, and they spent a few good minutes looking for their pants!)

And I'm certainly blessed that my mom is such a trooper and has been right down in the trenches with me. She told me when I first brought my crew home that she would never leave me in a time of need with four babies. And she hasn't! I am so grateful for her and my step-dad, who is like a father to me and adores my babies, and they never hesitate to come over when they are needed. They even come just to visit, too! ;)

I just realized I must not sound too crabby and miserable through this post, though the improvement in my attitude is likely from the wonderful three hour break I just got. The babies actually napped today!! It was a welcome relief after last night, when I went to bed at 9:30 so I could get some sleep before anyone woke up. Around 4am, Logan was getting a bit loopy and crying as her fever topped out at 104.7. It really had me worried and I followed the doc's same instructions and had it down to 102 within an hour. My mom said I have handled everything very well and she said she was impressed I stayed so calm, since it's easy to get panicked and frantic when these things happen. I told her I appreciated the confidence boost and that I always just immediately focus on a course of action and a solution to solve the problem. Which, apparently, I've been an avid problem solver since I was little!

Logan slept in bed with me the rest of the night and wasn't even warm to the touch by morning. Needless to say, I'm still scribbling down meds and times in my notepads and am not missing a dose on anyone for awhile. I've even been giving them Benadryl today, which has helped tremendously with the runny noses. The husband will be home shortly and my mom will finally head back home tonight where I'm sure she'll enjoy a night of uninterrupted sleep! She feels for me since I'll still be right here, in the trenches and in survival mode until this is all over. But I'm so glad for the break she gave me this morning to get out and take a little time for myself, since I was in tears before I left and had pulled myself together by the time I returned.

my nightstand to survive: liquids, soup, emergenC and eye mask
'Course I'm taking some valuable advice and trying to remind myself often that the piles of dirty laundry and sheets, the cans of Baby Lysol, the mounds of toys and the messy floors are all signs that I've got four babies, alive and well (for the most part!) and am very blessed to have the means to provide for and take care of them.

Hopefully regular programming will resume shortly....!
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{Tyke Bites} Antipasto & Pasta Salad

Welcome back to Tyke Bites! I've got a long overdue collection of photos from a random day of meals for the quads....

Some mornings—like this particular one—I sleep right up until the babies wake up then I dash downstairs to quickly throw together breakfast. Then I head back up to their rooms to get them up and changed then escort them all down the stairs to eat at the quad table. On days I need something super fast, I rely on nutrigrain bars to get the job done! This meal included lots of fresh fruit like raspberries, strawberries and pineapple, with nutrigrain bar pieces and cheerios. Never fails me!

I have been in a major food rut when it comes to breakfast and lunches for the kiddos, so I perused the Mini Meal series over at Hello Newlywed Life—I really enjoy reading her cute blog!—for some good ideas.  One of her posts sparked the antipasto-style lunch I made, one of my favorite types of meals to eat. I did strawberries, hummus, pretzel thins, salami, olives and cheese. The kids gobbled it up! Hummus wasn't a hit with everyone since it was the first time they'd tried it but Trystan, of all people, dipped her pretzels liberally! (Normally she's pretty picky and tends to ONLY eat carbs!)

If breakfast was served late, we normally skip a morning snack. If we're on our usual schedule and they need something to tide them over, then the quads get a couple graham cracker pieces or animal crackers. Afternoon snacks are a must since they're usually hungry when they get up from naps and I've been doing little cups of goldfish medleys (whole grain fish mixed with vanilla cupcake flavored and/or pretzel fish). But I've stocked up on mini nilla wafers, mini rice cakes and yogurt-covered raisins, among other things, and intend to get a little move inventive!

Dinner on this day featured watermelon, peaches and bananas with a pasta salad also inspired by Megan's Mini Meals. I made some pan-seared Cajun-flavored chicken on the stovetop, steamed some broccoli then mixed it in with some fresh pasta, Ranch dressing, shredded carrots and shredded cheese. It was definitely edible by everyone and I also learned that Trystan likes watermelon! A big success for her in a day of food, ha.

What are your favorite meals and snacks for little kids?
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