Good Friday Celebrations, Easter Decor and Free Printables

Our Good Friday was an especially, well, good one spent with family—just the way we like it. Earlier this week, our family dinner plans changed a bit and I offered to host the casual gathering at our place. I grabbed a ham at the grocery store and gave the house my best once over as quick as I could, which didn't go as smoothly as planned when I came down with a case of food poisoning (never again, local Thai restaurant) on Thursday afternoon. But the husband rallied and helped get everything in order and it all turned out just fine!

I returned to the Land of the Living by Friday morning after nearly 12 straight hours in bed. (Cannot remember the last time I did that.) The ham was in the oven by 3:30pm and my parents, plus my sister, Sabrina and the quad's adorable cousin Rayne all came over to celebrate. The kids were super excited to see Rayne who, I later learned, was planning to pick a visit to our house over a trip Six Flags if she had to! What a sweet girl! Fortunately for her, she was able to spend the day at the amusement park and then come join us afterward.

Summer (my sister) and Sabrina brought adorable gifts for everyone, large stuffed eggs for the egg hunt and a Paw Patrol mega block set for the kids! That entertained them for over an hour and all five kiddos played so well in the play room together. Sabrina helped me finish stuffing our eggs then she, myself and the husband divided and conquered the front yard, making it look more like a chicken coop gone golden with so many eggs everywhere.

The egg hunt was a huge success—we had over 200 of them!—and each kiddo filled their basket up. I loved it! This year, the quads really had it down too. They didn't try to open each egg as they picked it up and Rayne helped by setting a good and quick example!

After the egg hunt, we stashed the baskets and sat down for dinner in our kitchen. Ham on the bone, baked beans, homemade potato salad, fruit salad, rolls and peach cobbler with ice cream for dessert. The kids then played pin the tail on the bunny before watching Brer Rabbit, while the adults got a little down time, chatted, play on my Snapchat (find me under TexasTales!) and sipped wine.

Later this weekend, I'll share a recap on the rest of our Easter festivities and what's in the quad's Easter baskets, but for now here's a snapshot of the only decor I managed this year. But it's on our entry table by the front door, so I figured it counts double, right!? The cute Easter printable can be found here; I sized mine down to a 5X7 to fit my frame.

Earlier this week, the kiddos had their class Easter egg hunt at school and I created these simple printable tags for a quick and cute teacher Easter gift. I've got 'em for you in a PDF download right here! They're great for teachers as well as friends and family, too. You can never have too much lip balm or, if you're like me, you just want all the coconut things.

For the past two weeks or so, the husband and I have been discussing what Easter is really about (not just the Easter bunny) with the kids and reading some books about Jesus and His life and they're understanding far more than I expected they would. We love all the cute Disney 5 Minute story books, so I was excited to find Bible Stories in 5 Minutes, which will be great to convey passages and lessons in terms the kids can relate to. Other library reads we've picked up that have been good for us include The Miracle of Easter by Jean M. Malone and The Easter Story by Brian Wildsmith.

It's definitely been important to us to take a moment here and there to remember the sacrifice Jesus made on that cross that day, and how willingly He traded His life for ours. To know that I am loved and cared for so strongly and passionately—as are you—is a powerful revelation and one that certainly carries me through. And it's a truth I intend for my children to know, trust and love with their whole hearts.

Happy Easter to you and yours! He is risen!

PS - Need some extra weekend reading? Check out my guest post on fellow mom of multiples blog, Capri +3, where I share 10 ways to make life easier with kiddos!


New Series! School Lunch Bites

I've always been a lover of food and have long hoped to foster a healthy appreciation for good fare in that of my children—but little did I know prior to becoming pregnant with the quads that I'd be prepping far more meals then I thought when we set out to become parents! Thankfully, the kids have fairly well developed palates and favorite foods range from typical tot stuff like peanut butter sandwiches and chicken nuggets to oven roasted salmon, olives and hummus.

You may have previously been a fan of my Tyke Bites posts, which will still continue periodically and cover a random day of meals in our household. For now, though, I'm introducing my School Lunch Bites series that'll feature simply that—the latest school lunches that have been packed into my crew's lunch boxes for their day at school. They currently only go to pre-school twice a week and the other days we eat similar style meals at home. I take photos of the lunch box food as I remember, so not all posts will feature the actual meals made that week and some may be in random order!

I also get a lot of good ideas from mama blogger Lisa of What Lisa Cooks who, ironically, has two sets of twins! So she comes up with plenty of ways to reinvent boring lunch box combos that are perfect for when I need inspiration.

Because I've been asked so many times on Instagram and Facebook, here are sources for all the packing items I use!

Lunch containers: I love these plastic bento-style containers from Amazon. They even come in a set of four so it's meant to be! I use them so often I'll likely purchase a second set soon, especially when we bump up to three days of school a week for pre-K starting this fall. The containers a great size for accommodating various food shapes and amounts, just beware that they aren't spill proof! I don't pack liquids in these (like soup, applesauce or yogurt) unless I've got it pre-packaged in a plastic ramekin or something.

Liquid containers: I have Goodbyn containers I use for when I'm packing liquids or things that can leak.

Baking cups: When packing small pieces of cheese, turkey, nuts or other such items, I'll often use silicone baking cups to help separate and contain them.

Lunch boxes: All of these came from Ross and TJ Maxx and are some of the kids favorite characters.

With that, here we go...School Lunch Bites post numero uno!

THE DISH: Cheese quesadillas, whole grain chips with salsa, apples, strawberries, fig newtons, yogurt squeeze pouch, juice box.

THE DISH: Grilled cheese (cut into "sticks"), veggie chips, strawberries, yogurt, juice box. 

THE DISH: Turkey, cheese, veggie straws, blueberries, cantaloupe, whole grain crackers, fig newton.

THE DISH: Tortilla roll-ups with turkey, cheese and mustard, bananas, grapes, strawberries, frosted cheerios, yogurt squeeze pouch, juice box.

THE DISH: Hawaiian bread roll, leftover barbecue chicken, Doritos, pickles, apples, strawberries, Chobani yogurt tube, juice box.

Thanks for stopping by and happy eating!


Things for Spring

The weather in Texas has dutifully warmed up even beyond our normal temperatures this spring, making me think our summer is going to be that much hotter. But for now we're all basking in the easy-going mid- to high-60s with a few afternoons peaking at 70 degrees. Flowers are blooming and I've broken out all the kids new sandals for the year.

I wanted to go into the weekend with just a quick post highlighting some of my favorite photos of our spring thus far, like a pretty arrangement of grocery store blooms I picked up and displayed on a $3 Target tray on our kitchen island. Flowers always make me happy!

If blooms are on sale or come in a bunch, I often split them up into various arrangements and use roses or carnations or even greenery as filler to get more bang for my buck. So far, I've got lots of flowers and greenery—both real and faux—scattered throughout the house to lend a fresh air for the new season. I even saved a couple of blue-green hydrangeas and dried them out so I could continue to display them on top of my piano because they were so pretty.

Our entryway table hasn't been officially decked out for spring or Easter, but for now it's got some fresh decor with more faux greenery, framed photos and a burlap bunny all in neutral tones. I've got a DIY Easter banner to string along the wall hanging and some more cute bunnies the kids will enjoy looking at. 

Speaking of good weather, today the kids and I enjoyed a walk through our neighborhood after their naps. They loved picking up sticks, weeds flowers, acorns and other nature finds. All four do a fantastic job of staying on the sidewalk, not running too far ahead and crossing the street carefully with me. It's a great opportunity to practice basic safety habits and get a little fresh air and exercise! Plus, the crew broke in their new shoes I get from Wal-Mart each year (one of the few times I go there, I'm a Target girl all the way!). They can easily slip the shoes on themselves and the kicks are perfect to wear around the house and yard in the summer. They're plastic slip-on, clog-type shoes for less than $5 each and can be hosed off and dried with a towel for easy clean-up!

A couple weeks ago, I got a chance to spend some one-on-one time with Trystan. We went to brunch with some of my girlfriends and a few of their kiddos then did a little shopping for the afternoon. I love any exclusive time I get with my kids!

We stopped in at Anthropologie and Trystan loved their unique displays, like a collection of paint brushes suspended from the ceiling. The beautifully illustrated books caught her eye and at one point she settled onto the couch to flip through one of them. I was so smitten that she was smitten so we ended up purchasing Anne of Green Gables and I've been reading a chapter to the kids each night before bed. They really enjoy "chapter books," as they call them, and between myself and my mom they are getting to hear many of the classics read.

I've only ever owned one pair of Sperrys, so when I saw these gold-toned beauties at TJ Maxx recently I snatched them up. Much less expensive than full-price versions and very comfy for days full of walking!

On a separate round of errands, I made a few returns at Marshalls and browsed around before leaving when I found these pretty blue glasses for just $1.99 each. They are 100 percent recycled glass (which is what it says on the front) and the husband and I decided they're perfect for our new whiskey and coke glasses! We like to mix up a few, especially on the weekends when we do a DVR late night binge after the kiddos are in bed.

As spring rolls on, we look forward to more outings and little adventures with the kids and have really enjoyed watching them learn so much and so fast at school right now. Next week is spring break and we've got some bonus time to spend with grandparents and our quad buddies, but first up is a day date I'm really looking forward to with the husband tomorrow! 

The quads turn four years old at the end of May, which is so hard to believe. They are truly turning into big kids now! I've settled on a dinosaur theme for their party and already have so many fun ideas and DIY projects I hope to accomplish for the bash. The kids are excited about the dino-centric day and I've already purchased their first gift!

These four sweet babies are the best of friends and we see evidence of that every day. Just this evening, while cleaning up the dinner dishes, the husband and I heard Harrison and Trystan getting frustrated with each other in the play room. Then Harrison says in a totally calm voice, "Trystan, I love you very much, but you need to build your own lego tower!"

We never know what they're going to say! One of our favorite post-dinner laughs often comes from asking the girls to clean Harrison's face if he's thoroughly enjoyed his dinner and dessert and left evidence of it all over his mouth. The girls will each grab a baby wipe then take off giggling and chasing after Harrison who playfully screeches his protests but eventually lets them all have their turn. It's the sweetest thing! The other night they had a tickle fest and the girls are piled on top of their brother trying to get the biggest laugh out of him possible and he was the best sport, letting them poke and prod while laughing hysterically. Nothing brings the husband and I more pride and joy then seeing the unique and incredibly close bond that our children share with each other. 

It's time to pour another glass of wine and settle onto the couch with the husband and relax—the long week is officially over!


This is Real Life

"This is real life, and I'm totally cool with it."

me and the kiddos after a typical trip to the gym

I'm not kidding when I tell you those were my exact thoughts—verbatim, y'all—this morning when I looked up from my station at the kitchen island where I was dutifully preparing four lunches for the quads day at preschool. Normally they're made the night before but I decided to gamble with my life time this morning and do them on the fly.

our cat, bandit

I was slicing off pieces of Colby jack cheese when I heard a racket and looked up to see our cat, Bandit, feverishly batting around a ball that had joyously found its escape path from the playroom only to end up in the puncture-happy claws of a rough and rowdy male feline.

Then Harrison proudly marched into the kitchen, nearly tripping over the cat, to show me his three-foot-tall Lego tower he had just completed which then, honest to God, started looking like the leaning Tower of Legos before breaking in half and shattering into individual foot mines all over the floor. "Uh oh, guess I'll have to make another one!" At least his dreams weren't shattered this particular morning.

Meanwhile, Logan is asking me to look at her epic and colorful Crayon masterpiece of Minnie Mouse at the kitchen table, but doing it at about 35 volume bars above necessary and someone hit her "repeat" button. Kailey is singing a song known only to her fast-paced little mind at the top of her lungs. My feet hurt and I've only been awake for an hour.

It wasn't the breath of fresh air I'd been hoping for on a new day, after the extensive authority-negating tactics the kids had exerted the entire evening before. Granted, it was mostly because Kailey and Harrison had been gone for an entire weekend with my parents at their camper in the country. (It was an awesome experience, they loved every second and you can read about it on my mom's blog here.) Akin to any other time the kiddos have spent an overnight somewhere and been with doting grandparents for a spell, they always tend to come home and become extra challenging for a day or two for some reason. The husband and I refer to as it as a time we have to reassert our authority. My parents had dropped off Kailey and Harrison yesterday afternoon upon returning from the camper and within an hour "it" started.

I was going to give all the kids a shower with me in our master bathroom to lessen the to-do list when bedtime came around and I had them all stripped down and ready to get in the water when I turned around and realized at least 75% of the troops were missing. Then I heard Trystan hollering from the kid's bathroom and go in there to find Kailey standing on a stool in front of the toilet and she'd peed everywhere. All four are potty trained and proficient in using a toilet anywhere we go, so why she hadn't bothered to stoop her hind end onto the pot I'll never know. So I clean that up and we get through the shower, with my head threatening to explode the whole time from the merciless screams, yells and rants that echo between the walls from the tiny army invading my hot water.

new big kid beds for everyone! the two mattresses on the floor will go 
on bed frames later after paint and carpet work has been done.

I figured once they were all clean and in fresh pajamas, they'd have fun playing with each other for awhile while I cleaned up the kitchen and prepped dinner. After all, they'd been separated from each other in pairs for a whole weekend! It went well enough for a bit until Harrison started hitting his sisters and being unruly.

Punishment and time out.

Then Kailey started launching large objects from the top bunk in her room—the bunk bed being a surprise addition to their room upon their return from the camper! They were excited about it and loved it but lack of sleep and readjusting to being home is apparently a recipe for toy bombardment.

Punishment and time out.

Her reign of terror wasn't done, though, because she got in trouble a second time for throwing toys again. Next Harrison whacked her a good one.

Punishment and time out.
Punishment and time out.

Then she bit her brother (not too bad, but still...) and as I was coming up the stairs to get her I must've surprised her and she tried to bolt and ended up falling down four stairs before I caught her. No punishment on that one because it all ended rather tumultuously enough for her, I figured, but we still had a chat.

So basically I was trying to make a decent dinner for everyone to enjoy so we could eat right when the husband got home from work and the kids could go to bed on the early side. But every time you read "punishment and time out," I had to drop what I was doing and haul it upstairs or to the playroom or wherever they were congregating to handle the situation. And every other time, when I got back to the kitchen I'd forgotten what I was doing. Even with all the awesome memes and laughable photos going around on the Internet, I still don't think mom's get enough credit for all the multi-tasking we do! In the span of 30 minutes, we've already conquered the world and made cookies. Next, please.

But I digress...back to this morning. I'd finally gotten the kids dressed, fed, lunches packed, bag packed and everyone into the suburban. We were running late and I was feeling bad, because I'd really wanted to get there on time today and start on my own list of to-do's. As we pull up to school, I do that simultaneous turn-off-the-car-open-my-door-and-start-unbuckling-car-seat-belts move that only moms can do. You know the one. We were headed inside as quick as possible if it killed me, dammit. One by one, I lift each kiddo out of the car and onto the sidewalk where they so patiently and obediently wait next to each other. (My kids are typically polite and well-behaved and adorably cute, in my opinion. The last day was an abnormal revolt.) I grab their school bag and we make for the door, where I greet a familiar face with a smile and herd my crew inside.

On my way back out, a wonderful little moment happened. My friend—who sings in our church's praise team every Sunday morning with a most beautiful voice—had been chatting with a fellow mom who'd since departed. As I wished my friend a great week, she told me that after myself and the quads had walked inside, her friend mentioned how together I seemed. That I "always have it so together," to quote her words. I beamed but mimed looking at where a wrist watch would be on my arm and tapped the imagined dial while laughingly joking about how late the mom "who has it together" was today. Then I added that while having it together is certainly not the case for me every day, it sure gives me inspiration on the days I feel like my "together" is falling apart.

As I drove out of the parking lot and headed toward my first errand of the day, her words stuck with me. And, honestly, they really made me feel good. Because I realized the mom who'd complimented me sees me nearly every morning we drop off our kids at preschool. I recognize her though I don't know her personally, and her child is in a younger class than my crowd. But the fact that even though I'm pretty much always in my "mom uniform" of leggings or workout pants, a t-shirt or sweatshirt and tennis shoes with no makeup, and I'm herding my four three-year-olds with barely enough time to exchange pleasantries with anyone, and I'm often late, she still thought I had it together. It made me realize that the way we feel isn't how others always perceive us. And that we're often—especially moms—way too hard on ourselves.

the "mom uniform"
skechers sandals (similar)  |  VS PINK t-shirt   |  Nike capri leggings (similar

In the challenges, blessings and chaos that come with having quadruplets (or just any number of kids, really), I've learned to make peace with a lot of things and I'm still constantly working on others. Early on, when the quads were still babies and had all come home from the hospital and we were doing 32 bottles every 24 hours, I learned to accept the fact that we needed help and that help involved having other people (mostly family members) in our house all the time. Having others in your home on a constant rotation takes some getting used to, and I know the control-factor part of my personality struggled with it greatly. From wanting to tell someone they were putting the laundry away wrong or weren't loading the dishwasher very well, I had to realize those were insignificant factors when it came to my sanity, health and well being. Because those family members were there to help us survive and to help care for my four babies.

Additionally, I've also learned to let unplanned alterations in my days roll off my back. Take yesterday for instance. I get a sparse number of hours each week to myself—thanks to two wonderful days of pre-school and my mom, who's a saint and watches the kids once a week—and they're typically planned out down to the minute with errands, grocery store run, work (I'm a freelance writer and often work out of my home office or Starbucks!), cleaning, organizational projects and the list goes on. So running late to school drop-off by a whopping 15 to 20 minutes can affect those plans, for example. But I just alter what I need to, move faster or cut something off the list to accommodate whatever changes have affected my day because continuing to stress over it or change the situation doesn't do anyone much good. Plus I've got enough stress in my life and don't need more!

And with that long post, my friends, I'm back on the blog and hoping to keep at it. I had to take a break I hadn't really planned on but, as you just read, I try to take the day-to-day in stride and focus on whatever's most important.

my "awesome" new wine glass - $2.99 at Marshalls

In the meantime, my kids have pretty much demolished the downstairs portion of my house with toys and other potential tripping hazards while I finished off this post. It's time for damage control and dinner prep.

"This is real life, and I'm totally cool with it."

Damn, go me.
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