Leaving my 20s Behind...

I knew the day would come. I mean, it's inevitable anyway. Every year, each of us ages another 365 days and adds a new digit to our numerical category. This year, however, was a bit more than just ticking off another year gone by on the calendar. I begrudgingly left my 20s behind and turned 30 years old!

The party was fantastic, just my style. We went to The Rustic, a restaurant and outdoor venue with a small stage for live concerts, owned by country music artist Pat Green. Lots of beer was consumed, along with a few tequila shots and some delicious chocolate cake.

I made hand stamped necklace favors for all my girls that came, which read "live the life you love #30" and we handed out custom #30 cookies (by Sugar Coma Cookies) as well as glow stick bracelets when the sun went down. Fun times were had by all!

I don't think 30 is getting "old," no. Why was I sad to leave my 20s? Because they were a hell of a good time. I did a lot of crazy, awesome, fun things when I was 20-something. They were good years. And years during which I learned some pretty major life lessons and accomplished some big personal goals. Like self-financing my college education and graduating with a bachelors degree in journalism several months before I turned 21. Then turning 21 and drinking my face off, as any new legal-age drinking consumer should do. I found and married the man of my dreams that same year, which means I graduated in May and got hitched in September. We had a super fun wedding with a big ol' reception and served fajitas for our nuptial dinner. So us. Our honeymoon in Hawaii was epic and we have continued to grow closer as best friends and as husband and wife ever since.

For a few years in there, I feel like I was coasting. Life was good, I was working on my career (I became an editor at a luxury lifestyle magazine in Houston) and the husband and I spent our free time working on our first home or out partying with friends. Then we made a major change and moved to Scotland for a year—which kickstarted this very blog—and lived abroad, traveled Europe and loved every second.

Once we'd moved back home to Texas and somewhat resumed our way of life, I began my own freelance writing company and we spent time enjoying all the things we'd missed about home, including our family and friends. More vacations, trips, a new house and several contemplative discussions later, we were ready to add kids to the equation. Little did we know what we were in for, right? You can read all about our fertility struggles, my miscarriages and the emotional journey that led us to expecting quadruplets here

Fast forward a couple years, and here I am. Newly 30 with an incredible husband of nine years, four three-year-olds, a home I love and close to family. It's a blessed life, that's for sure. I try not to take the everyday things for granted—everything is a gift, given to me by God and He entrusts me to do the best that I can with this path I've been granted. I do feel confident when I tell people that at the age of 30, I can honestly say I've already done the hardest thing I'll ever have to do in life...referencing my quad pregnancy and delivery. Anything that comes my way from here on out pales in comparison to that struggle I endured! I am still working on recovering from the toll it took on my body!

With age, maturity and experience, I've certainly learned to take things in stride. I've always believe that when you aren't sure what to do, just wait and don't do anything. The answer always comes along, whether it's the dead of night or a random moment in the day when suddenly everything becomes crystal clear. I like having a plan in place and until that plan has come together, I try to hold off on any actions that could affect the outcome. Hand in hand with that approach is my laid back demeanor. I wouldn't describe myself as a high-stress person. I'm not prone to anxiety (unless it's in a hospital, pretty sure I have PTSD from my pregnancy days) and it can take a lot to really get a rile out of me. Usually. Mess with my family or act a fool and Mama Bear comes out and I don't play!!

Having four children at once has definitely kept me motivated, I'm typically pretty goal-oriented though I've never felt as scatter brained as I do these days. I'm probably more organized now, though, then I was before—although I don't feel like it much of the time since my house stays in a shamble of sorts thanks to wayward shoes, laundry piles and toys that have escaped the play room. Nothing life altering, though.

the kids taste testing momma's birthday cake!
There's still a lot left for me to learn and many years of fun and adventure ahead with my instant family of six. The husband and I are definitely enjoying being parents together and still look at each other now and then and take a second to absorb the fact that we are now parents. To quadruplets!

I continue to try and enjoy my days and take each one as it comes. God doesn't give me more than I can bear, I learned to infinitely trust Him on that when He blessed us with quads. And I'm also learning to enjoy (and get used to) answering with "30" when someone asks about my age. So maybe I've got an extra wrinkle at the edge of my eyes and my metabolism is hopping a little slower (because of all the beer and wine I drink? nah...). But no matter what life brings my way next, I'm leaving my 20s behind with my head held high.
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Noah's Ark Lesson + Animal Craft

It's been awhile since I've done a book and craft combo with the kids, so when I spotted a box craft set of paper plate animals on super sale at Michael's I went ahead and grabbed it to stow away for a rainy day. A few weeks later, I came up with an animal-related lesson we could do and found a Noah's Ark book
while at the library.

After a massive toy swap out in their play room, I remembered we actually had a Noah's Ark toy in their box of Little People stuff so I pulled that out and used it to explain who Noah was and what the ark looked like. The kids each held two animals of their choosing while I read the book to them, then I slid the boat around the table and let them each march their figurines into the ark "two by two" before we started our craft.

I'm not one to shy away from putting together a set of craft supplies myself—and I keep several craft drawers stocked with random supplies to rummage through for just such an occasion—but it really did help that everything I needed came in the box.  The quads were able to peel the paper backing off the foam sticker pieces themselves and I would show them how to copy the photo on the box to assemble their respective animals. Coincidentally, two made a zebra and two made a monkey.

They were quite proud of their finished pieces and show them off to anyone who comes over since I hung them on their art boards in the play room (along with their super cute Father's Day card my mom helped them make, complete with flowers!).

After the craft, we watched our Baby Einstein's Baby Noah DVD—yes, we still have many of our Baby Einstein DVDs because they still love them—and it held their attention for the entire 38 minutes. That's like five years in toddler time, right!? I actually emptied the dishwasher and reloaded it, completely uninterrupted and without up to eight hands wanting to "help me." Plus, I think between the craft, Little People toy and DVD, the concept of Noah and his ark was very much solidified in their minds because they've repeated the story a few times since.

Mission accomplished.
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The Quad Squad Turns 3 + Party Pics!

With each passing year, the kids become more and more aware of events and special occasions and love getting in on all the action. As parents, we enjoy explaining these things—be it how they turn another year old and get to celebrate, or that Christmas presents fill the space under the tree the night before—and watching their pure, unfettered excitement as they experience everything. Birthdays are a huge occasion in our household with quadruplets, needless to say! We try to throw a good party since we only have to do one fete a year even with four kiddos—something I kindly remind the husband of when I'm ordering party favors or custom cookies. Ha!

This year was the first party we hosted at a venue, opting for an indoor trampoline park. It's one of the kid's favorite places to go bounce off energy and we frequent it often on rainy days or cold winter weeks. They have an entire area devoted to kids aged seven and younger, which is really nice because I don't have to worry about big kids bouncing all over my crew. There's also two bounce houses with slides they love to climb all over and plenty of space to run, the ever important factor when trying to entertain energetic, three year olds who seem to thrive on little sleep and keeping you up late at night with all the standard bedtime delays ("I need water!" or "I need to pee!" or "Give me another kiss!" and the list goes on...)

To kick off the festivities, I put together a cute but simple invite touting our choo choos and tutus theme. Below is a copy of the invite with generic info (don't need to share my cell phone number with the whole world!), which actually now available in my Etsy shop here! I know it can be tricky planning a party for multiples, much less a party that accommodates both genders, so I've begun adding some printable invitations I've created for just such events in my shop like this adorable pirates and princesses design.
It was a fun party! I'll let the photos speak mostly for themselves, but the kids loved seeing their friends arriving as well as many of the wonderful and truly special people in our lives that have loved my babies since the beginning. From grandparents to longtime family friends and newer acquaintances to our beloved babysitters and nanny, everyone made sure to drop by and celebrate the quad squad's birthday! They also spoiled them with tons of gifts—I've never seen such a stack of presents! I always advise folks to bring something small for each kiddo or just a reasonable group gift, but I think everyone must've had fun shopping because there were so many fun goodies in each bag and box and the kids had a blast ripping open presents and taking in all their new toys, clothes and books. They loved everything and have had fun working their way through it all the past few weeks!

parents and quad squad with their aunt summer

myself and the husband with our kiddos and their grandparents!

Everyone got their jump on, even some of the adorable babies that attended, and we all had fun watching the kids scream and laugh as they played together. The party ended with delicious cake (Costco never fails!) and the most perfectly decorated sugar cookies by Sugar Coma Cookies. My friend, Mary—a momma to triplets, who I've gushed about on the blog before!—makes the yummy treats and has blown up her business over the last year and a half. She has a true talent for baking and decorating cookies!! I order from her for nearly every special occasion we have, and it's now tradition to have Sugar Coma Cookies at the quad's birthday! She designed the train and ballerina cookies based on their invitation, which I had sent her beforehand, and they turned out great!

Since we had a smaller group of kids attending this year, I wanted to do some nicer favors and ended up choosing fluffy pink tutus (My Princess Party) and silver tiaras (Hobby Lobby) for the girls and wooden trains (Target) and conductor hats (Train Party) for the boys. I printed my own tags that I affixed to small gift bags and also included a coordinating cookie in each one as well. There were some pretty cute ballerinas and train conductors!

And because I am apparently not satisfied with a nice little two hour-long party at a venue that doesn't require me to do any setup or cleanup, I needed to host a whole group at our home afterward! In truth, though, the husband and I do enjoy a good party and we love having people over, so it was only natural we kept the celebration going well into the evening. 

the husband and his mom

We set out tons of food and opened a couple bottles of wine, and our quad buddies also made it for the after-party as well! Which was perfect because there were more than enough new toys to go around and keep all eight of our kiddos occupied! They stayed right up until the very end, donning their pajamas and evening brushing their teeth in the ball pit before they headed out. Mamas have to be creative sometimes, right!?

All in all, it was an awesome day and we relished every part of it. We are so grateful for our healthy babies—who are now quick to remind you that they're big kids!—and also for all the family and friends who have supported us in our journey to quads and love them all like their own. 

Happy birthday, my beautiful babies!
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My Sanity Thanks Our Teachers

I remember ushering four kids down the hall, two or three of them holding tightly onto various fingers of my hand as they nervously shuffled their feet along. It was their first day at Mother's Day Out, a sort of pre-cursor to pre-school, if you will. I had to peel a few of them off of me in order to get them through the door of their class room and could still hear their wails as I made my way back to the front doors. But! Within two to three visits to their Monday class, they were loving it. And I was loving it! Alone time to accomplish things, clean house, run errands or simply be by myself is invaluable. -slow clapping for all the moms reading this- 

Thanks to two wonderful teachers, Miss Jean and her daughter Miss MacKenzie, my little quad squad has grown to love their school experience. They've met new friends, learned soooo many new things, they get out of the house and under someone else's care for a day, someone that I trust and respect and admire for teaching my kids so well and we all love this experience! What's better, is that the school is at our home church and the Christian-based teaching is so important and valuable to us.

We've now ended the school year and will resume with summer camp in a few weeks—which can't come soon enough!—but I made sure to grab some cute teacher gifts before their last day in class to let those special ladies know how much we appreciate their efforts!

It's not unusual for me to do all my shopping at Target. I can find any excuse to go to Target and we pretty much only frequent a specific Target store where the clerks, clinic nurse and store manager recognize us in the aisles—especially since Trystan's scary seizure when I was mid-checkout one afternoon. I just feel better shopping in a place that I know has everything I need in the case of an emergency! Besides, where else does it feel perfectly normal to buy bananas, spring wedge shoes and a cute striped toddler shirt all in one shopping trip? Don't forget the mascara and shampoo restock.

But I digress. I wanted to put together a cute summery teacher gift and managed to find everything I needed in my one-stop-shop. There's a fun note pad, perfectly scented summer-time candle, plastic stemless wine glass, pineapple-infused face mask, summer fruit flavored Eos chapstick and an adorable nautical basket (for $3!).

What childcare experience has saved your sanity? And what's your favorite teacher gift? I'll be needing many, many more in all the coming years!! :)

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