Partying like Rock Stars

we survived

Credit for this awesome edit on the Survivor logo goes to our friend Brian Dunbar

On Saturday we celebrated the quads’ first birthday, Survivor style!!  Ok, not everything went according to plan, but I think everyone had fun and it was a success.  As the hostess, I wasn’t able to snap more than a couple pictures, but luckily a friend took my camera around to capture some of the fun.  Hopefully other guests took some great shots also, and will send the pictures to me!!  But here’s a little glimpse of the babies and some of the fun.

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Brody

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Emerson

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Hayden

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Deacon

Here are the four guests of honor, sporting their awesome personalized shirts made by a fellow quad mom.  (Check out her Etsy shop Sweet Dumpling Boutique!). The girls also had tutus specially made by their Aunt Crystal (you can check out her handiwork on Facebook – see InspiredbyCourtney) This was the best I could do in the minutes before I brought them downstairs because once everyone saw them, there was no chance on taking a nice group picture!!!  The babies were all amazing at the party, and were more than happy to be passed around and to be entertained until bedtime!

We had a bounce house and an inflatable water slide, and despite the rain at the start of the party (it was POURING as I was putting tablecloths on the tables!) the kids could not get in there fast enough!!  Some even jumped in with their clothes on! 

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Here is the slide – the babies’ gift from their Grammy and Pappy – the day after the party

Here are some more pictures from the party:

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Our tiki piñata, filled with tiki gummy snacks, plus tiki and tropical-themed toys

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One of the favors, filled with a beach ball, a fan, a tropical tattoo and a tropical stamper. Our infant-aged guests each got an Oball toy instead :)

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The candy buffet

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The beautiful cupcakes, made by Walmart of Hamburg, PA – thanks Aunt Kristy for picking them up!

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We also had a chocolate fountain (thanks Aunt Kelly!) and a bunch of treats to dip… we couldn’t get a picture before everyone started digging in!

Oh and by the way, we had Famous Dave’s cater, and it was amazing!!!  Not to mention a reasonable price.  Go Dave’s!

Hope you all enjoy this glimpse into our celebration.  It was crazy, but I’m glad we celebrated their first year (our surviving the first year, I mean!) in such a big way.  Can’t wait to see what the second year has in store for us!

 

 

Happy First Birthday!

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We made it through a year!!!  In some ways, it feels like an eternity, but in some ways it feels like, “They’re one already??”. Someone told me this, and I totally get it: The days are long, but the years (or weeks or months or whatever) fly by.  My mom was here for the quads’ big day today, and for some reason we decided to give the babies cupcakes… in the high chairs, fully clothed, after the cleaning lady had just left.  What were we thinking???  Should have put a tarp out on the lawn with naked babies!!!  Well, in any case, they enjoyed their cupcakes, and I hope you enjoy the before and after shots of their enjoyment.

 

Brody

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OK so maybe Brody wasn’t super into his cupcake… he ate some, but left most of it.  Surprising from our heaviest dude!  Brody weighs 22lbs10ozs; a big leap from his last weigh-in at nine months.  He is 30 inches tall, putting him in the 50th percentile for both length and weight.  Brody is super fast walking around!  He will also be the one to help you figure out what you forgot to child proof… if there’s a remote left out or a cup of water, he makes a beeline for it!  He’s still such a happy baby, with a great toothy smile, but lately is a bit of a momma’s boy (not that I’m complaining!).

Hayden

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Hayden thoroughly enjoyed her cupcake!  However, we’re not sure how much actually made it into her mouth!  Hayden is a tall skinny girl, in the 75th percentile for length at 30 inches, and the 25th percentile for weight, at 19lbs10ozs.  She feels like a feather after holding Brody!  Hayden is still such a sweetheart.  She’s also quite the imitator, and continues to add new dance moves to her repertoire, like the booty shake and the duck face.  It’s great!  Hayden is cruising the furniture a little now, and is working on standing on her own.  She is also babbling all the time, and loves bling.  She’s our little princess!!

Emerson

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Em was so excited to get her cupcake!!  But after cleaning out her high chair, I don’t think too much made it in her mouth!  She is by far the messiest eater, but also the one who eats the most, which is why she also had a huge jump in length and weight.  She is the second heaviest now, at 22lbs (75th percentile) and the tallest at 31 inches (90th percentile!!!)  She has certainly caught up in size, and then some!  Em has taken her first steps, but she’s in such a hurry to move, she doesn’t take the time to steady herself.  She’s just gonna take off running when she finds her balance.  Emerson is still our outspoken quad, and has recently learned to make this awesome high-pitched, shrill scream.  Wonderful.  Make sure you don’t delay in giving her food!  She is a bottomless pit, and would eat all day if we kept feeding her!  Em will never need her brothers to beat up anyone for her; she will be able to take care of herself.  I see Emerson wearing pink cameo, driving her quad through the mud someday.  Tough girl!

Deacon

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Deacon eats slow and steady, and made his way through most of the cupcake.  He is still our little preppy GQ guy, with his great head of hair and to-die-for lashes.  He is such a chill boy, and is usually content to play by himself.  Deacon is 30 1/2 inches tall, which is the 75th percentile, and weighs 21lbs3ozs (25th percentile), so he’s just a little smaller than Emerson.  Deacon took his first steps today on his birthday, towards his Grandma, so that was really exciting!  He’s still a little sensitive, but has toughened up a bit.  He doesn’t cry all the time when someone touches him!  Just when they steal his toy :) Deacon loves kisses still, and will give them too!

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Here’s the winner of the messy cupcake award… Hayden!!  But she’s cute and she had fun, so it’s ok!!

 

Well, there you have it… our babies have survived a year, and Brian and I have too!!  It’s a major accomplishment, and I’m excited for what’s in store for us.  Sure, lots of chaos, noise, and herding kids, but for me it gets easier when they walk on their own.  It’s TOUGH to load up 4 babies in the van and take them out again!!!  I welcome the day when they can climb in on their own and I don’t have to break a sweat before we even leave.  Then maybe we will get out more!! 

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Here’s their 12 month picture – it’s hard to believe that just one short (or long) year ago, they were in isolettes in the NICU, with IVs and CPAPs.  Now you would never know they ever arrived too early!!  I’m thankful that I was able to carry them so long, which gave them such an amazing start at life.  Though they each have their own distinct personality, they are all strong little fighters, and hopefully will carry that trait through their lives. 

My wish for them, as I reflect on their birthday, is that they will be happy and healthy throughout their lives, and successful in whatever they want to do.  If their first year is any indication, they can overcome whatever they are faced with, and apparently so can Brian and I!  I look forward to the upcoming year, and all the wonderful memories it will bring.

Do’s and Don’ts for a Successful (or not) Evening with your Quads

DO have your father-in-law take your toddler out for a few hours to tire him out

DO provide plenty of toys for the quads to play with besides your pant leg or your hair

DO have bottles and food prepared so quads don’t cry at the kitchen gate while you prepare them

DON’T expect to get anything done from your To Do list

DO have a meal cooking in the crock pot because you will not have time to cook!

DON’T expect to remember to cook the pasta or bread or cut the veggies for dinner

DON’T expect to eat or drink anything without quads trying to grab it from your hands

DO expect to cut some calories when you give quads half your snack

DO make up for the calorie loss by finishing a big bag of m&ms before dinnertime

DO enjoy containing your quads in their high chairs to feed them dinner

DON’T feed your quads ravioli filled with ricotta cheese

DO expect your quads to get ricotta cheese EVERYWHERE

DO expect your quads to style their hair with ricotta cheese

DO expect to have to give your quads a bath immediately after

DO give your quads Cheerios to munch on while you prepare the bath

DO expect your quads to yell to let you know they finished their Cheerios while you prepare the bath

DO take the quads that finish their Cheerios first for the bath

DO expect your quads to kick and splash water all over the floor and counter while you bathe them in the sink

DON’T expect to stay dry while bathing your quads in the sink

DO clean the ricotta cheese out of every nook and cranny on their little bodies

DO continue throwing Cheerios at the quads who have not been bathed yet

DON’T expect the quads who are bathed and dressed to play quietly in the next room

DO cry with gratitude when your mother-in-law comes home from work in time to entertain the clean quads while you finish bathing the others

DON’T collapse with exhaustion when you finish bathing the quads

DO heat up the bottles ASAP so the cranky quads can drink and get to bed

DO expect the quads to be wide awake at their bedtime

DON’T expect your toddler to have burnt all his energy while he was out

DO nag your toddler to finish his dinner while you put in a movie to keep him in one spot

DO get a good workout bringing four babies up to bed

DON’T forget to eat when all the quads are in bed

DO remember there’s an open bottle of wine in the fridge calling your name

11 months already!

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The last month has flown by! I can’t believe we are less than a month away from their first birthday. It’s amazing how many milestones they are reaching, how much their little (and big!) personalities are coming out, and how big they are getting!
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Brody continues to lead the pack. He’s now a walker! His confidence grows every day and now he will just stand up and walk across the room to a toy or a person. He looks so happy and proud of himself when he’s walking. It’s so cute! He’s been sticking out his tongue lately and it’s too funny. He’s quite a goofball!
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Hayden is a crawler now! For a while she was content to just stay in one spot, but then it seemed to start bothering her that everyone else was moving. She did a sort of army crawl for a while, and then she finally got that tush in the air and started crawling. Hayden is such a sweetheart. She’s just got this angel face, but you know underneath she’s calculating and watching and taking it all in. She’s got a funny laugh and has found her voice! Don’t delay in giving her food! You’ll certainly hear it! She finally got her first tooth this week!
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Emerson is the most vocal of all the babies. She’s a crawler, but she wants to be held. Most of the day! ESPECIALLY when she doesn’t nap well. When she’s in a good mood, though, she is super happy and has an awesome laugh. A loud one, of course :) Em wolfs down her food, and is growing so big! She seems to be the tallest, and I’m guessing she’s bigger than Deacon now! It’s close. Emerson finally got her second tooth!
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Deacon is another sweetheart. He likes giving kisses, which is so cute. He crawls, and now will stand on his own without holding on to anything. I think he will walk soon! He still has the most hair out of everyone, and the longest lashes. Such a handsome boy. Deacon has 2 teeth, with more on the way!
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Easton says “No mommy!” when I want to take his picture. It’s hard to catch a good shot of him unless you have a camera that’s good with moving objects. Easton is always on the go, unless he’s watching TV. He loves being outside! Although he’s generally a happy kid, you can tell that he misses some attention that is now on the babies. He loves “mommy daddy hugs” and being with Brian and I. We took him to his first movie last weekend! We saw Planes: Fire and Rescue and it was great! We had a blast. I hope we can continue to find time just the three of us and as the babies get older, I hope we can have more quality family time.
Right now I feel like we are still in survival mode, but are slowly coming to the light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t know where the tunnel ends, but I feel like getting to a year is going to be a huge difference. No more bottles, no more pumping, and the babies will be eating what we are eating. I think all of that will make life a little easier. I know that with each stage will come new challenges, but I think I prefer toddler tantrums to baby wailing. I may eat my words later on, but with Easton, I have enjoyed each stage we come to more than the last. So far, the same is true with the quads. I’m always trying to find the best in each stage and look forward to future fun.
Here’s a great pic of all five of my beautiful babies – I can’t believe we got this!
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10 months!

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I hope you all appreciate this photo – because now it’s game on for trying to get them all sitting still at the same time!!  Holy exhausting!!

Ten months…a lifetime, and also the blink of an eye.  My brand new baby nephew was over, and laying in one of our Rock n Plays.  He looked so tiny in there.  I said, “I can’t believe mine were ever this small!”. My mother-in-law replied, “Yours were smaller!”. I was like, “I don’t even remember them this small!” I’m trying to think back to the first month they were home and I don’t think I have any memory of it.  Either my mind blocked out the hardest month of my life, or sleep deprivation wiped it out.  It’s crazy!!  At least I took tons of pictures.

And now the babies are 10 months old, and quite the handful!  I don’t know what’s been going on, but for a couple days they are really trying my patience!  I know separation anxiety and attachment can start around now, so I’m going with that, but let me tell you, when you are trying to comfort one and two more are crying and pulling at your pant legs and the other is crying from across the room, you just want to run away screaming.  Or curl up into a ball and shut your eyes.  Except if I did that they would all just crawl over me and pull my hair and slap my face and yank my clothes.  It’s chaos.  It’s frustrating.  It’s never-ending.  Well, until naptime. 

It’s not all bad, though!  They are so cute, that every day I wonder how I got so lucky to have five adorable kids, each with their own special personality.  It’s awesome how different they are!

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Brody is my mover!!  He’s crawling and cruising, and so fast now!  Sometimes he lets go while he’s standing, and it’s like he forgets that he isn’t holding on, and then all of a sudden he realizes and grabs on.  Before we know it he will be walking!  Brody loves to be held and played with, and seems to get jealous when someone else is being held!  Lately he’s been following me around a lot and wanting me to pick him up.  Brody loves his big brother, and can’t wait to be able to run around and play with him!  Brody has six teeth now, and is an awesome clapper with his big paws!!  Seriously, this kid has huge hands… and feet. He has many nicknames, including Brody Bear, Bruiser and Tank.  He mows right over all the other kids to get what he wants!

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Deacon…is just the frickin cutest thing ever, and so sweet!  He seems to be the sensitive one of the bunch, as he does not like when the other kids touch him or take his toys!  Deacon still has the most hair and is so darn handsome – he’s going to be popular with the ladies for sure!  Deacon is so chill, and just hangs out.  And now that he can crawl, he’s exploring a lot!  Deacon also got his first tooth!!  Finally!  But now I think we are gearing up for more to appear because he’s waking up at night crying and not doing to great with the bottles.  Teething can end any time now!!!!

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Emerson…watch out everyone!!  She may look sweet, but she is the fireball of the group!  She makes herself known, and definitely tells us how she feels!!  She’s always been that way.  My strong girl is a crawler now, but she does kind of a bear crawl thing with her butt up in the air.  It’s funny.  Pappy calls her the crab, doing her crab walk.  She can pull herself to standing also.  Like Brody, she also wants attention, and seems jealous when the others are getting it and not her.  She doesn’t want to share Pappy’s lap with anyone!  Em’s also got her first tooth in!  Hooray, finally! 

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My pretty Hayden has the most amazing eyes.  Love them!  This one may be quiet, but she’s analyzing and observing everything around her.  She’s going to be my smarty pants!  There’s always a little smirk on her face, like she has a secret that no one else knows.  She’s so funny!  Hayden is a great dancer.  I don’t know where she learned it, but she started rocking back and forth, then added in a head bob, and now there’s shoulder shrugs in there too.  Who knows where she got her rhythm from, but she dances, even when there’s no music!  She also claps and plays peek-a-boo.  She is just a darling sweetheart, and will just chill on her own, like Deacon.  However, lately she seems to get frustrated by not being able to crawl like the others and has started pulling herself across the floor on her belly, kinda like a military crawl.  Go Hayden!

So there you have it!  Four babies, all moving, all growing wonderfully, all totally thriving.  I’ll say it again, we must be doing something right!  We have baby proofed almost as much as we can, removing all we can out of our room, and putting up gates to contain them.  They keep us on our toes!!  If we forget something or leave something lying around, Brody is sure to find it!

Now on to the big bro…

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Since the answer every time I say, “Can I take your picture?” is “NO!”, this is the best we can do!  Only candids for this boy I guess.  Easton is such a card… really the coolest, funniest, most entertaining kid I’ve ever met.  He makes me laugh so much, and the other times he makes me want to rip my hair out.  In my head it’s just a reaction to having four baby siblings and getting less attention, but he is pushing and kicking them a lot.  He doesn’t like when they touch him or his toys, so he shoves them away.  Guess I can’t blame him, but obviously we are working on this.  Redirection, positive reinforcement, taking away toys and now time-outs, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference.  Hopefully this is something he will just outgrow or learn to deal with, but he’s still so young.  With him being so big it’s hard to remember that he’s still just two years old.  Mostly I just feel bad for him.  It used to be just Mommy and E all day, and he got to play with Pappy all the time, and now there’s babies in the mix that need attention, and Easton can’t do everything he wants anymore.  And with him being so young he doesn’t get it.  I know that someday he will and when the quads are bigger he will have playmates and we can all do more stuff together, but for now it’s tough and I feel bad for him a lot.  I try to spend as much quality time with him as I can.  Love that kid and just want to do the best I can for him!

Well as we dive into full-on first birthday planning mode, I’m reflecting a lot on the past ten months.  Most of it I don’t remember, LOL, but I do document a lot so that helps!  We’ve come so far, and it’s been a rough road.  I know the rest of the road is still going to be rough, and we will just trade challenges for new ones, but I’m still so excited for the future and a little more freedom.  Being a Mommy of multiples is TOUGH.  You might not get it if you haven’t lived it, but it’s been such a hard adjustment to not be able to run out to the store when I need something, and there’s so much to coordinate to get out to play soccer or have a date night out with Brian (which is why that hasn’t happen in a couple months!) It’s nonstop and it’s chaotic and it’s frustrating, but we are trucking through and are trying to meet each new phase of this life with as much organization and happiness and love as we can manage.  It will always be up and down, but hopefully more ups than downs.  I’m eternally grateful to those who have helped us, and continue to help us. 

I’m always floored by the good fortune we’ve had.  I still can’t believe that I’m Mommy.  I don’t feel like I should be someone’s Mommy.  Much less five someone’s!  I feel so lucky that I get to be their Mom.  So many people around us and just in general go through so many tough times and terrible experiences, and I’m still amazed at how much good stuff we’ve had come at us.  Sure, four babies is more than a handful, but all of our kids are healthy, strong and so good!!  I’m thinking in our past lives we were like saints or something because this could be going so much worse.  All we can do is to appreciate what we have, and who we have in our lives, and hopefully pay forward the kindness that we’ve received from so many people. 

Ok I think I’ve gotten sentimental enough for now.  Better get back to the grind – I hear babies waking up!

 

A Cool New Product for Us

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You can imagine how tough it is to feed four babies at once, especially with a toddler to take care of at the same time.  Feeding them one or two at a time is just not an option for us because of the time commitment.  It takes long enough already!  Emerson already holds her bottle, but when it’s full it’s a little heavy for her.  It would be so much easier if they could all hold their bottles.  Then maybe we could even bag the Rock n Plays.  They are almost too big for them anyway! 
So I did a little Googling, and found handles made by Avent that you can attach to your Avent bottles.  Genius! 
So we’re working on learning to hold our bottles now and become a bit more independent.  It’s slow going, but it’s already made a difference if they can put their own bottle back in their mouth.
I’m not sure if other bottle makers offer the same thing, but I’m glad Avent does! 

The Babies Take on Wendy’s

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We received some advice from a quad family before we had ours, and they said to start taking them out to dinner as soon as you can to get them used to it.  Start small and work your way up to fancier places.  Obviously we haven’t done that yet, just due to the sheer exhaustion we face when we do venture out.  Do we really want to add in potentially screaming babies to the mix? 

But yesterday it hit us that we really should start trying to get them out more.  Maybe they’d be happier with a change of scenery.  Maybe Easton would.  Maybe we would, too!  Our starting point was Wendy’s.  There’s one by us that doesn’t seem to get too busy, and we chose to go at like 4:30 to hopefully not have many other people around.  Not wanting to be too ambitious, Brian asked his sister and her husband to come along, so off we went with our two families. 

Brian ran in first to see how many high chairs they had.  Since they only had 3, we either would bring a stroller in (we brought the double just in case) or someone could just hold the fourth baby.  We opted to just hold the baby, so that saved us some trouble.  With four adults, it was easy to get them all in to Wendy’s.  They had just woken from their nap and had a bottle, so they were very content.  We brought toys in with us, and I had Puffs, yogurt melts and a zippy cup of water in case we needed it. 

The babies were super good, and didn’t make any noise!  They happily played with their toys (and by played I mean threw them on the floor so Mommy could pick them up).  I somehow drew the short straw and ended up in the middle of three babies while Brian was tucked in the corner with Easton, but it wasn’t too bad.  We all managed to eat our meals without rushing, and then we even stopped for ice cream on the way home!! 

Next mission:  attempting the same thing with just us and no extra hands!!  We are working up to our goal of making it to Olive Garden.  Baby steps!