Dear Thanksgiving, You Aren’t Forgotten

The week following Halloween, George and I took the crew to Half Price Books in search of Thanksgiving books.  Behind an elaborate Christmas book display, we found a meager shelf labeled, “holiday”.  This shelf contained a conglomeration of holidays ranging from Valentine’s Day to Easter with a smattering of Thanksgiving books.  Sadly, the majority of the Thanksgiving books were geared to older children.  We snagged two age appropriate books worth purchasing so we’ve read these two at least once daily all month.

Thanksgiving books for toddlers

The Best Thanksgiving Ever is a charming story about a family of turkeys that gather to celebrate their many blessings. Naturally, their feast consists of corn.
Let it Fall describes the change in seasons and family activities during autumn. The illustrations are beautiful and capture the beauty of family time.

After our trip to the bookstore, my Facebook news feed began overflowing with pictures of children clad in Christmas attire as they visited Santa, evidence of wrapped packages, and fully decorated Christmas trees.  Seriously, this began around November 3rd.  Anytime I entered a retail establishment, holiday music lingered and Christmas products were in the fore front.  It started feeling as if it were December already, and there was an urgency to prepare for Christmas. Then, our neighbors began adorning their homes in twinkling lights.  It became such a trend that our home owner’s association left notes at homes where decorations were out 30 days prior to the holiday.   Consequently, the HOA president has been dubbed “Scrooge of the Neighborhood” by some overzealous residents.  Holiday light citations may not have been necessary, but I tend to agree with the notion it’s too early to commence Christmas activity the first week of November.

Instead of following the masses, I dug my heels in this year and refused to begin decorating for Christmas when the turkey hasn’t been carved.  This year, the quads are learning about the seasons and holiday traditions, and I want to teach them about Thanksgiving as much as any other holiday.

To give a little attention to Thanksgiving, we spent time decorating die cut leaves and then writing what we are thankful for this season.  (In case you were wondering, the quads dictated, and I transcribed.)  Since the quads have been working on prayers expressing gratitude, this task was an easy one for them.

Thanksgiving activity: have kids decorate die cut leaves then write what they are thankful for on them.

For a little festive fun, we also made turkeys from paper plates and toilet paper rolls.

Turkey craft: cute paper plates in half and decorate with glued on feathers.  Staple a toilet paper roll onto the plate and add goggle eyes and a beak.

Once we finished our Thanksgiving crafts, I nestled the turkeys into our mantle decor and taped the die cut leaves among the autumn garland.  The leaves are nice reminders of the little things we appreciate in our lives.

Autumn mantle

Add "thankful leaves" into fall garland as an activity for the family

Despite my reluctance to start celebrating Christmas before Thanksgiving, I did purchase the quads Christmas pajamas.   In my defense, I was burned the first two Christmases with the quads.  I waited until after Thanksgiving and found barren shelves!  Harper was forced to wear pajamas about a size too small two years in a row.  I wasn’t making him do it again.  They’ll get to wear their new pajamas the night our Christmas tree goes up.

When do you begin decorating for Christmas?  Perhaps you’re an eager beaver.  Maybe you wait until Christmas Eve. Maybe you’re like me and want the turkey gobbling to cease first. Or maybe you celebrate a different holiday altogether.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Amber

Bass Pro Shops {A Spot to Visit with Tots}

Lists of places to take toddlers in Dallas Fort Worth

Over the course of the week a pesky cold was passed from one family member to another, and successfully kept us confined indoors.  In fact, Mason missed his dental visit due to said cold.  Yesterday as everyone was on the mend, a thunderstorm rolled successfully holding us hostage.  Everyone (including me) was cranky and unpleasant.  We needed to go somewhere to restore our spirits.  There don’t seem to be many Thanksgiving family activities, but Christmas festivities are already in full force.  After cruising the Fort Worth Mom’s Blog for places to visit, I found a thorough listing of holiday venues.  Since Thanksgiving has not yet been celebrated, I could not bring myself to go all in on the Christmas cheer, but settled on taking the kids to the Bass Pro Shops.

Location:

Bass Pro Shops are available nationwide, check here for the location nearest to you

Hours:

November 15 – December 24 during normal store hours

Cost:

All activities are FREE!  Santa’s wonderland includes kid friendly crafts, games, a carousel ride, and a visit from the jolly old man himself.  Bass Pro Shops provide a complimentary 4 x 6 photo with Santa.  You may choose to purchase a complete package of photos with Santa or you can take snap shots with your own camera as well.

Favorite Features:

What’s not to love about FREE family entertainment?

The quads enjoyed taking a spin on the carousel.  Since all children under 42″ must be accompanied by an adult, three of our littles enjoyed their ride from Santa’s sleigh allowing me to supervise all of them.

Free Carousel at the Bass Pro Shops

Harper apparently felt slightly intimidated by the ride, but once it was in motion he settled down.  The fear of the unknown tends to get the better of him.

Free Carousel at the Bass Pro Shops

Free Carousel at the Bass Pro Shops

After taking a spin on the carousel, George demonstrated how to drive a remote control monster truck in the toy testing area.

Bass Pro Shop Monster truck

We weren’t willing to brave the line to visit Santa (and I just don’t like the idea of seeing Santa before Thanksgiving), but we did check out the aquarium.

Bass Pro Shop aquarium

Bass Pro Shop aquarium

Tips:

If you plan on visiting Santa, see one of his elves first.  They have passes to get into the line at specific times, which will reduce your wait time.

Don’t forget to bring your own camera in case you’d like to snap pictures with Santa yourself.

Our trip to the Bass Pro Shops was a success in decreasing the tension and brightening our day.

After we celebrate Thanksgiving, I’d like to enjoy several of the local holiday scenes around town.  I’m really looking forward to celebrating our Christmas traditions with the quads since they can understand them now.

What are you hoping to do or see this season?

 

Hugs!

 

Amber

Divide & Conquer

At the quads two-year well visit, our pediatrician encouraged us to take the quads to a pediatric dentist.  We had so many appointments due in the summer, I put the dental visit off.   I finally scheduled an appointment for all four, and made sure it was a day when George was off work.   The week prior to the appointment, I read a Bernstein Bears book about going to the dentist and practiced looking at the quad’s teeth.  I also showed them pictures of some of our quad buddies at the dentist.  These kids were going to be prepared!  The evening before the appointment, Mason was fussy and his eyes were a little glassy.  We put him to bed with Benedryl thinking it was seasonal allergies.

By morning, Mason was moaning.  Under the cover of darkness, I got him out of bed and immediately knew he had fever.   I padded to the bathroom for an official temperature check.  The Exergen delivered the news- 101.5.  Fever.  Without much thought, I started pouring Advil into our Elmo dispenser.  All of this and I didn’t notice Mason looked like this:

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The poor kid looked awful.  I wanted to believe it was seasonal allergies, but fever indicated otherwise. Mason wasn’t going to the dentist.  As our 9:30 dental appointment approached I started troubleshooting.  I thought I’d haul the three healthy ones to the dentist and leave George at home with Mason.  I figured with a twin stroller I could contain two kids while leaving one free for an exam.  It would be hard but totally workable.  What I didn’t realize is that George wanted take the kids to their first dental appointment.  Yet, sending George with all three didn’t sound like a good idea.  It was time for the ‘ol divide and conquer play.

George took Sydney and Harper first while I kept the other two.  According to George, both kids opened their mouths and let the dentist check their teeth.  Sydney appeared most at ease so x- rays were attempted, but she wouldn’t stay still long enough.  Nonetheless, both got to choose a prize and new toothbrush.

dental x rays for a toddler

The dentist snapped this picture of George with Sydney and Harper.

first dentist's appointment

Once George, Sydney, and Harper were back home, I loaded Rylin into the van.  Though it wasn’t my original plan, I really enjoyed taking just one child to the dentist.  Rylin lapped up the attention.  In the waiting room, Rylin chatted up other parents telling them about her pink and gold beaded necklaces and fluffy boots.  Upon meeting the dentist, Rylin willingly opened her mouth for an exam and sat with the dentist.   Her favorite part of the visit was getting a pink princess toothbrush then choosing a fairy wand from the treasure box.  She also chose on Mason’s behalf, and we rescheduled his appointment.

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When we got home it was time for Mason to take another dose of Benedryl and Advil.  He wasn’t too keen on the idea so I gave him a straw.  He slurped it as if it were juice.  Before bed, I gave him a curly straw, which he really appreciated.  I think I’m onto something here.

Use a straw to get toddlers to take liquid medicine!

The ol’ divide and conquer play worked out well.  Everyone will revisit the dentist in six months and will hopefully tolerate a cleaning.

Hugs!

Amber

Proud Mama Moment

Yesterday was the coldest day of the season by far.  Temperatures were near freezing and the wind was gusting at about 65 miles per hour.  It was bitter cold (at least by Texas standards).  Yet, we opted to continue with our scheduled Christmas card photo session outdoors.  I layered everyone up with thermal onsies and warm socks, but it was far cooler than I imagined.  The quads fussed a little during the session, but did really well.  Our photographer offered to take a few extra shots at her in-home studio in case the outdoor ones didn’t turn out.  Everyone had noticeably red noses and hands.  We gladly accepted this offer, just in case the others were bad.  Naturally, everything took longer than we expected.  Traffic was brutal, we got stuck behind a sluggish train, and situating indoor lighting took time.   What we planned on taking one hour ended up running right past dinner time.   After the photo shoot, everyone was getting hangry (hungry + angry) and there was nothing quick to serve at home.  We stopped by our favorite Thai restaurant and crossed our fingers no one would expire.

While we awaited the arrival of our food, the quads played in the toddler area and befriended another little girl.  When dinner was finally ready, everyone noshed happily and cleaned their plates.

As we were wrapping up our meal a couple approached us.  The woman leaned in towards us and said, “Your family is beautiful!”  I beamed a little bit.  Then she said, “I just have to ask…” My heart sank.  What was she going to ask???  What did she feel compelled to ask at our dinner table?  Would it be one of the many curious, yet often intrusive questions we hear?  Our skin is getting thicker, and we are accustomed to reactions we get while out in public, but rude commentary still stings.  I held my breath just a bit as she continued, “Are they two sets of twins?”  WHEW!  Not bad.  At all.  I kindly replied, “Actually they are one set of quads.”  Instead of prying or asking 20 more questions, the woman simply added, “Well, they are exceptionally well-behaved.  You are doing a great job”.  It made my day!

At home, we work very had to teach the quads appropriate behavior.  They are two so they have plenty of tantrums, disobedience, and sibling scuffles.  A lot of these things, actually.  When we are away from home they do an exceptional job of demonstrating their good behavior.  It makes the effort worthwhile, and it makes me proud of them.

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What was a proud moment for you?

hugs,

Amber

But, Mom, We Forgot to Pray!

About this time last year, we started working on family prayers at mealtime and before bed.  By nature I’m not one to pray aloud; I prefer to pray silently in private manner.  When I pray aloud, I’m typically most comfortable reciting memorized prayers because that’s what my family did.

When we began introducing prayer to the babies, I attempted to adopt my cousin’s child-friendly mealtime prayer.  I remember her children reciting it when they were young and I’ve always loved it.  Ironically, since it was similar to my parent’s mealtime prayer, but not exactly the same I had a hard time recalling it despite it’s simplicity.  Plus, it proved a bit wordy for very young toddlers.  A year ago, they were working on signing “thank you”.  Yet, I wanted mealtime prayers and gratitude to be part of our family meals.  I abandoned the memorized prayer (at least at temporarily) and simplified things significantly for all of us.  Prayer needed to be something everyone could do and would become a ritual.

I started just teaching the quads to say, “Thank you, God for….”, and I’d model a few things to list (e.g. our food, family, home).  A few months ago, they picked up this simple prayer starter and began generating their own lists of things they are thankful for.  I think rice makes it atop their list at least once daily.  Other items they are thankful for include anything and everything that makes up their world from caretakers to toys. One evening, I overheard Rylin independently reciting her own bedtime prayer and she said, “Thank you, God for…. a bobcat.”  I was quite puzzled and couldn’t recall ever discussing bobcats.  She repeated, “Thank you, God for Bobcat.” then added, “and Billie”, which put it into context.  She was expressing gratitude for our dear family friends Billie and Bob whose nickname is “Bobcat”.  Oh how she melted my heart!  Hearing toddlers pray is music to my ears.

After the quads mastered the concept of list making items, I added a few other aspects to our prayer including, “Please God, help me….” (e.g. be generous, kind) and “Please, God help others….” (e.g. to heal, find comfort).  While the concept of seeking help and guidance is a bit more abstract, it is a work in progress, and in time they’ll learn.  Even though we are still learning to pray, making it a family ritual is mastered.  If we are ever in a hurry, even at snack time, someone will proclaim, “But Mom, we forgot to pray!”  There are also times we did pray and someone insists we forgot, so we pray again.

This particular evening, we forgot to pray before we began eating and Rylin kindly reminded us-

As I was scrolling through old pictures, I found snapshots of Rylin and Mason as infants with their hands clasped as if praying.  Perhaps they’ve been working on this longer than I thought.

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Does your family pray before meals? If so, do you have a memorized prayer?  We will likely revisit a memorized mealtime prayer in the foreseeable future, but for now I’m enjoying our simple list-like prayers.

 

hugs!

 

Amber

Japanese Gardens {Spot to Visit with Tots}

Toddler Friendly Places to Visit in Dallas Fort Worth

With four curious toddlers, we are making an effort to get out of the house a few times week, and to visit somewhere new as much as possible.  Too much time spent at home often results in stir crazy toddlers and haggard parents.  It’s an ordeal just to load the van, but outings are always worthwhile, they refresh all of us.  When George had a recent holiday from work we took a field trip to the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens- Japanese Garden 

Location:

3220 Botanic Garden Blvd.
Fort Worth, TX 76107

Hours:

Daylight Savings Time

Monday – Sunday 9:00 am – 7:00 pm

Standard Time

Monday – Sunday 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Cost:

Adults $5.00
Senior (65 and over) $4.50
Child (4-12) $3.00
Under 3 Free

Favorite Features:

The Koi ponds are by far our favorite part of the Japanese Garden.  The quads had a fabulous time watching them and of course feeding them.

The entire garden is serene and relaxing.

Tips:

Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy somewhere in the garden.

The garden is stroller friendly so bring one along if you have young toddlers who may tire easily.

Japanese Garden

Japanese Garden

I didn’t dress everyone warmly enough, but fleece blankets from the van made for cozy stroller rides.

The quads had a blast stopping at each Koi pond to for a feeding frenzy.

The quads had a blast stopping at each Koi pond to for a feeding frenzy.

Japanese Garden

This spot was my favorite for feeding the Koi because the concrete wall created a nice barrier between the little people and the water.

Japanese Garden

Look carefully, and you’ll notice the water droplets all over Harper’s face. He got in the Koi pond splash zone!

Japanese Garden

This bench proved to be ideal for our picnic. We had a serene view of the Koi pond and a nice place to sit.

Japanese Garden

Japanese Garden

If you are a Dallasite or Cowtown family, what are some of your favorite places to visit?

Hugs!

Amber

Read This, Made That {Cheesecloth Ghost}

In Say Boo!, Ben the ghost is practicing his scariest “boo” for Halloween night, but it comes out mixed up most of the time.  In case you were wondering, ghosts don’t say “moo” or “coo”, they say, “Boo!”  Even though we already made wispy ghosts, another ghost craft was in order for this story.

I’ve always wanted to try my hand at cheese cloth ghosts, but never attempted them.  I found simple directions at One Good Thing by Jillie to try.  I created a form using ball pit balls taped to paper towel rolls, which I secured onto paper plates.  Then, I covered the form with two layers of cheesecloth.  The quads helped by spraying the cheesecloth with liquid starch until they were soaked.  I set our soppy figures in the sun to try for 24 hours.  The next day, I dotted glue on the tops of the forms and let the quads stick googly eyes and oval mouths on them.  I think they are adorable!  In fact, I’ll try to pack them up to use for next year’s decor.

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Happy Halloween!

Amber

Read This, Made That {Tissue Paper Pumpkin}

I cannot take the credit for implementing this adorable craft, but it is the kid’s handiwork.  Last week our family friend, Billie, babysat and brought a craft for the quads.  Being a former preschool teacher, Billie is a pro with the crew.

She printed jack-o-lantern coloring sheets from Make and Takes and colored the faces with black marker.  Then, she pre-cut and wadded orange and green tissue paper into squares.  She dotted glue along the pumpkin and let the quads stick orange tissue squares there.  Then she dotted more glue along the stem and vine for the green squares.

The activity paired well with The Biggest Pumpkin Surprise Ever!, coincidentally a gift from Billie.  There are flaps throughout the book, and the goal is to find and count all of the hidden pumpkins. Beneath the final flap is an enormous jack-o-lantern.

tissue paper stuck onto pumpkin coloring sheet, toddler fine motor craft

Hugs!

Amber

PS- Don’t forget to share photos of your Halloween art on our Facebook page!  We’d love to see it.

Read This, Made That {Spindly Spiders}

In this tale, Happy Halloween, Max pulls out all the stops including dangling rubber spiders in a futile attempt to scare Ruby.  The quads absolutely L-O-V-E waiting for the end of the book when Ruby startles Max.   In honor of Max’s not-so-scary spider, we made our own spindly spiders.

We had black dessert plates from the quad’s birthday party that we used as the spider body.  I punched eight holes around each plate and let the kids string pipe cleaners through the holes.   I then dotted the center of the each plate with glue and let them stick an assortment of googly eyes. For a little more pizzazz, I swirled more glue onto the spider and let the quads dust them in black glitter.

paper plate spider with pipe cleaner legs and googly eyes

 

Hugs!

Amber

Psstt…Don’t forget to share your pictures on our Facebook page if you try any of our craft projects.  We’d love to see your handiwork!

Read This, Made That {Wispy Ghost}

I have fond memories of listening to Curious George books as a child.  There’s something about that curious little monkey that’s been touching children for generations.  In fact, George’s “Original Adventures” began publication in 1941 (source Wikipedia).  It’s no surprise that Curious George Goes to a Costume Party became a family favorite among our Halloween book collection.  In this story, George attends his first costume party, and accidentally startles party goers as he appears to be a ghost.

In the spirit of this book, we loosely used an idea from Happy Hooligans to make cotton ball ghosts.  To create our ghosts, I pulled cotton balls into thin wisps.  Next, I squirted glue onto black construction paper into the shape of a ghost and let the quads stick the wisps over the glue.  Finally, I let them choose a pair of googly eyes to stick on the top and a pre cut black oval for a mouth.

cotton ball ghost toddler craft

Instead of using black googly eyes, I let the kids choose their own color. Rylin naturally chose pink…

hugs!

Amber

Psst….If you give one of our projects a try, we’d love to see your handiwork.  You can share them on our Facebook site.