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.

Read This, Made That {Candy Corn}

In this cute little tale, 10 Trick-or-Treaters, the children’s cache of candy is displayed on the final page for a counting game.  The iconic candy corn was in the mix and naturally inspired our next craft.

To create our masterpieces, I cut orange construction paper into triangle shapes with rounded edges.  Next, I taped the triangles into the bottom of a shallow pan.  I dunked about 4-5 marbles into white tempera paint, dropped them into the pan, then let each child tilt the pan.  In time, the marble made its way across the paper several times over creating a striped effect.  I then dropped 4-5 marbles dipped in yellow paint and repeated the process.  When we were done rolling marbles, I thought they looked boring.  We added a dusting of orange glitter for sparkle.

After our works of art were complete, everyone sampled candy corn for the first time.  For a sweet and salty snack we also paired candy corn with salted peanuts.  Delicious!

Candy Corn craft: cut orange paper into triangles then roll marbles dipped in white and yellow paint over the paper

 

Do you have a favorite seasonal candy?

Hugs!

Amber

Read This, Made That {Paper Plate Jack-O-Lanterns}

After years of hating Halloween, the kids are helping me change my perspective. We live in one of the best neighborhoods for Halloween, and it’s high time I enjoy it. In fact, last spring as we searched for a new home, we felt a sense of relief knowing we would stay in our beloved neighborhood. It’s the type of community where families play outside together, take walks, ride bikes, and know the neighbors. On Halloween night, hundreds of children will line the sidewalks escorted by parents clad in costumes. Families living on cul-de-sacs will invite others to join them for snacks and activities. This neighborhood makes Halloween night exactly what it should be- filled with community fellowship, and I want the quads to experience every bit of it.

When October rolled around, a family friend gave each of the quads a Halloween themed book. Little did she know, these books would help stir the spirit of Halloween. As I read these toddler books, it brought to mind the nostalgic parts of Halloween, and the reasons kids adore it. As I read, I began explaining the process of trick-or-treating and other spooky traditions, increasing our anticipation of the holiday.  In addition to the books gifted to us, I scored a treasure trove of Scholastic books at our community garage sale, which resulted in a decent collection of Halloween themed toddler books.  Since I’m a sucker for thematic crafts and activities, we spent the month of October creating a gallery of Halloween themed art loosely tied to toddler literature.  Check out my post about literacy based crafts to see how I approach these.  We read several if not all of these books at least once daily.

 

Halloween books for toddlers and preschoolers

 

We kicked off our Halloween literacy based crafts with Five Little Pumpkins paired with  a paper plate jack-o-lantern craft. The book is actually a poem, and the quads now recite  it as I read, which melts my heart every single time.

To create the craft, each child painted a plate with orange tempera paint (mixed with a few drops of dish soap). When the paint was dry, I dotted glue on the plate where the face should go, and let them add facial features (pre-cut them from black construction paper). I finished it off by tracing their hands on green construction paper to create leaves and a stem.

Toddler craft: paper plate jack o lantern

Stay tuned to find out what other crafts make up our Halloween art gallery.  I’ll be posting a new one daily until Halloween.

Hugs!

Amber

Personalized Pumpkins

After visiting the Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch, we amassed a variety of pumpkins, which needed decorating, and of course personal touches.  Pumpkin carving is a festive tradition, but in the Texas heat they grow mold almost immediately, and you can’t appreciate them long-term.  Instead of carving, I prefer a little paint and a few stickers.

With the first found of pumpkins, we let each child choose a tempera paint color to slather on a pumpkin.  It was an utter mess, but they had a blast expressing their creative sides.  Plus, it was a full on sensory experience; they covered their arms, hands, and cheeks before they finished.  After our little art extravaganza, I used copious amounts of Shout and washed clothes multiple times to rid them of bright paint splatter.  Thankfully, there’s no remaining evidence of art on their clothes.

painted pumpkins painted pumpkins

For the second set of pumpkins, I created a monogram for each child using the same process I used to make cookies for Santa plates.

First, I printed individual letters in 300 pt French Script font from Microsoft Word.

DIY monogrammed pumpkin

Then, I flipped the paper over and rubbed pencil over the area where the letters were.

DIY monogram pumpkin

I pressed the letters, print side up onto a smooth part of the pumpkin and traced over it with heavy pressure using a pen.

DIY monogram pumpkin

This left a faint outline, which I filled in with a paint pen. It’s very faint in the picture, but there is a light outline of the “R” on the face of this pumpkin.

DIY monogram pumpkin

 

When I was finished, we had four handsome monogrammed pumpkins.  I let the kids loose with Halloween stickers so they could leave their own flare.

DIY Monogram pumpkins

The best part about pumpkin decorating is displaying them on the porch for others to admire.  The quads beamed with pride when I let them carry their own pumpkins to the porch.  I helped with arrangement of course.

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We placed the tempera paint pumpkins under the covered part of the porch since rain tends to wash them clean.  Each time we go out the front door, the kids point out their personalized pumpkins with their “letter”.

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Fall porch decor

On Halloween Eve, we’ll carve the largest pumpkins together and cross our fingers they last 24 hours.  What is your favorite way to decorate pumpkins?

 

Hugs!

 

Amber

Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch {Spot to Visit with Tots}

Lists of places to take toddlers in Dallas Fort Worth

You may recall several months ago, I shared a listing of toddler friendly places we’ve visited with the quads.  After writing that post I was eager to begin a new list, but a compilation of ten places may take another year.  Instead of waiting for a list I’m starting a series, sharing as we go.

Last weekend we joined our local mothers of multiples club at the Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch, and I believe we began a new fall family tradition.  George had to work, but Nisey and Poppa joined us for the experience and helped me manage four two year olds sans strollers.  Here’s the scoop:

Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch

Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch

Location:

Double Oak Ranch
5100 Cross Timbers Rd
Flower Mound TX 75028
(817) 430-4536

Hours:

Seasonal from October 1st – 31st
9:00 am – 7:00 pm

Cost:

Parking is $5 and ALL activities (e.g. train ride, hayride, corn mazes, bounce houses, photo opportuniites) are included

Buses and walk-ins are $1

Favorite Features:

Our crew enjoyed running through the rows and rows of pumpkins as well as the hayride.  For older kids, there are bounce houses and corn mazes.

 

Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch

Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch

Running in a pumpkin patch can be dangerous business.

The pumpkin patch is a fantastic place for snapping photos.  During our visit it was overcast, which made for great fall pictures.

Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch

 

There are hundreds of character cut outs perfect for photo ops.  Our attempts to convince the quads to pose with the cut outs were futile, however.

Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch

Since the quads were unwilling to sit next to the cutouts, this is the only picture we snapped of them. This is a mere fraction of the cut outs we admired.  Literally every popular children’s character is represented somewhere on the farm.

There isn’t a petting zoo, but we had a blast watching the farm animals.  The main attraction? Horses snacking on pumpkins of course.

Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch

Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch

Tips:

On weekdays only drinks are sold on site, so pack snacks or a picnic to enjoy during your stay.  On Saturday and Sunday, vendors sell seasonal favorites such as kettle corn, grilled burgers, corny dogs (Fletcher’s!), and pumpkin bread.

Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch

After nibbling at our picnic lunch, these four gobbled bright, festive cupcakes provided by our local moms of multiples club.

Radio Flyer wagons are provided free of charge, you can borrow one to cart any bags, snacks, ect as well as any pumpkins you plan to purchase.  No need to bring your own wagon!

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Bathrooms are port-o-potties so plan ahead the best you can…I personally avoid those at all costs.

The Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch gave us a fantastic, nostalgic fall experience. What is your favorite fall activity?

hugs!

Amber

Leftover Oatmeal Cookies

Since we are feeding a family of six now, wasted food makes me cringe.  Our grocery bill is high enough without also being wasteful.  Unfortunately feeding toddlers with finicky palates means food gets wasted far more than I’d like.  One day they’ll scarf a bunch of bananas then refuse bananas for six weeks straight.  I do what I can to reinvent leftovers so we waste less.  For instance, leftover taco meat becomes spaghetti and meat sauce, grilled chicken is great in quesidillas, and pot roast is perfect for French dip sandwiches.  Some leftovers pose a greater challenge.

One of my favorite go-to breakfast meals poses such a challenge.   The quads typically devour crock pot oatmeal.  In fact, they love it so much I double the recipe to make sure we have enough for second, third, and sometimes fourth helpings of it.  Yet, sometimes there is leftover oatmeal, which doesn’t keep and reheat well.  Yesterday, I decided to try using it to make cookies.  I searched Pinterest for such a recipe, but came up short.  I ended up creating my own recipe, and ended up with rich, chewy cookies.  The quads demolished them during afternoon snack- a clear indication of a keeper recipe.

Make cookies using leftover oatmeal

Leftover Oatmeal Cookies

2 cups cooked oatmeal

1 stick of butter softened

1/4 c. brown sugar

4 eggs (the cookies turned out a bit fluffier than I prefer so I think I’ll try fewer eggs next time)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. baking soda

freshly grated nutmeg

2 c. chocolate chips (raisins would work to create a healthier version, but we LOVE chocolate here)

4 c. flour (I added flour gradually until I had a soft dough, you may need more or less depending on the consistency of your oatmeal).

bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes until cookies are golden brown

Serve with cold milk!

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Do you have a favorite way to reinvent leftovers?

 

Hugs!

 

Amber

 

“Though she be but little, she is fierce!” – William Shakespheare

When Sydney was a mere two-pound preemie fighting for her life, a friend sent me this quote “Though she be but little, she is fierce!”- William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  How well it captures Sydney!  She’s always been the smallest of the clan, but meek she is not.  While I’m proud of her tenacity, she scares the fire out of me.  She scales furniture in our home with the grace of a ballerina and befriends strangers wherever she goes.  I’m certain she’d attempt to cuddle a deranged mutt wandering the street or scale the fence if she wanted something.  It can be terrifying.  Consequently, one of her goals for Early Childhood Intervention  is to demonstrate caution around dangerous situations (e.g. hot stove, strangers, animals).  I manage Sydney’s shenanigans in the house, but venturing outside the home poses clear dangers.  In order to help her master this goal, I begrudgingly knew it would mean practice.   Her trainer suggested we begin by checking the mail daily.

Insignificant as it seems, checking the mail was a monumental task for us.  It meant single-handedly teaching four two-year olds how to walk together and also recognizing the dangers of the driveway and street.  I began tackling this task with Sydney and one other child at a time.  With just two, it was relatively simple.  I’d hold each little hand as I led them to the mailbox, quickly snatch the mail and lead them back.  Sometimes Sydney resisted hand holding and attempted to bolt, but with just two kids I could grab her easily.

After a week or so of that, it was time to go as a whole group.  In time the quads started pairing off and holding each other’s hands as they followed me to the mailbox.  Once we reached the mailbox, I taught them to wait within a square on the sidewalk while I retrieved the mail, giving a piece (usually the junk mail) to each child before I instructed them to bring it inside.  Although the quads are doing a fabulous job at this new daily chore, I continue to remind them of the boundaries and show them where cars drive, ect.  Occasionally, Sydney threatens to dart off, but she recognizes the street is a place for cars and not kids, which is a piece of mind.

Teach multiples how to hold hands and walk together

Since we conquered mail checking, visiting the park was next on my agenda for helping Sydney master her goal. Together, George and I took the quads to our neighborhood playground in our stroller.  As soon as we unloaded the four, they darted to the stairs and gave the toddler slides a try.  In the beginning, I was concerned Sydney (or really anyone) would leave the toddler area and attempt the section for older kids.  For the most part they all stayed within eye shot and didn’t push the boundaries too much.  With a good bit of prompting, Sydney learned to safely manuever the equipment.  At one point she tripped and fell off a small set of stairs and landed on her back (taking my breath away).  Thankfully she didn’t have a scratch and quickly returned to playing.  Going to the playground proved good for the whole family.  We enjoyed a bit of fresh air, and were able to meet other children the same age that live nearby.

Everyone bravely attempted the toddler slide.

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Much to my chagrin, George guided each of the quads to the "big" slide.  While the others were slightly reticant, Sydney managed this slide with gusto.

Much to my chagrin, George guided each of the quads to the “big” slide. While the others were slightly reticent, Sydney didn’t miss a beat.

After the neighborhood playground was a success, we later took the quads on a picnic to a city park without strollers.  All four walked alongside us down a meandering path, over a bridge, and through a meadow to our chosen picnic spot.  Once we settled, they all stayed on our quilt as we nibbled our dinner.   It turned out to be a lovely Sunday afternoon.  

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We are finding that with continued practice getting out to enjoy the world is much easier.  In fact, we’ve gone to several restaurants without using strollers.  We can unload the quads from the van and they walk with us.   It’s liberating!

 

hugs!

Amber

His Name is Elmer

Our neighborhood has a hopping Buy, Sell, Trade site, which may be a slight addiction for me.  George and I check it frequently for the latest deals.  We’ve scored everything from free moving boxes to board books, and sold our share of goodies too.  Several months ago we removed the builder grade mirror from the quad’s bathroom and replaced it with an ornately framed version.  Once the old mirror was removed, we posted it as free on our Buy, Sell, Trade site.  A firefighter snatched it up for the firehouse workout room, and George set it out for porch pick up.  Unbeknownst to me, the same firefighter posted a Halloween decoration for sale at $10.  Being a Halloween aficionado, George asked if this particular item was still available, and naturally it was.  However, instead of charging $10 for the gem, the altruistic firefighter decided it was a fair trade for the mirror.  Worst trade ever!

When I came home from work one evening, I was greeted by a life-sized skeleton dangling in a cage.  This guy was a grisly, unwelcome sight!  Not only was it realistic and enormous, but it also lights up and chatters spooky things.  I was certain it would terrify the quads and therefore be unacceptable at our house.  The next day, I ushered them into the foyer were our new resident perched, fully expecting shrieks of terror.  Instead, all four squealed “pirate!” as they inspected this guy, going right up to the cage and poking him with their little fingers.  Apparently all the preparations for their Pirates & Princesses birthday party created an immunity to skeletons.  Ugh.  Over the years, I’ve accepted the fact that in October George will put out an array of kitschy decorations that I don’t prefer, but this one really made me cringe.  I’d do about anything to banish him from our home, but I knew it wasn’t happening.  George’s eyes glistened like a child on Christmas morning.  As much as I loathed this decoration, I knew he would stay.  However, he could only stay under a few conditions 1. He would be banished to the attic 364 days of the year 2. He could only post on the porch Halloween night 3. We could dress him in pirate attire to make him a bit more kid friendly.  Against my demands, George kept his new friend in our study for several weeks, and became so attached he named him Elmer.  I’d cringe every time I entered the study and laid eyes on the wretched beast so I eventually heaved him upstairs myself.  Instead of stuffing him deep into the attic, George placed him directly at the entry of the attic so whenever anyone opens the attic, Elmer is staring back with his empty eye sockets.  It’s horrific!

Halloween decoration, life size caged skeleton

Even though I despise old Elmer perching in my attic, I’ve settled with the fact that he’s a permanent family member. Last weekend, George and I began hauling our fall boxes from the attic, and against George’s wishes Elmer stayed up. We didn’t have time to begin decorating so the boxes stayed in our dining room. The next day was like any other, George changed the quads while I prepared breakfast, he set off to work as we nibbled our meal, yada yada yada. After breakfast, I began tidying up while the quads entertained each other. After a few minutes, all four ran into the breakfast nook proclaiming there was a monster upstairs. I recalled reading a Halloween book before bed and thought their imaginations were really running wild. I made a futile attempt to convince them we were monster free upstairs. Eventually, they led me by the hand to the foot of the stairs as they pointed to a tall dark silhouette of a witch.  I had to conceal my laughter because I knew they were genuinely scared.  Harper refused to step foot out of the kitchen and instead peered at the witch from around a corner.  The others were only slightly more brave and approached the witch with fingers covering their eyes.

Halloween decoration, witch siholette

 

quads reaction to finding Halloween decorations

I spent the remainder of the day trying to prove that the black figure was only made of wood. I turned her over to show the wood grain, laid her on the floor, and even walked along the surface of it. Rylin, Mason, and Sydney eventually believed it was no monster, but Harper could not shake the fear. Even after I moved the witch out of sight, Harper fearfully inquired about her all day and shielded his eyes.

That evening, George and I situated our witch in the bushes outside and adorned our porch with friendlier fall decor including warm orange lights and grinning pumpkins. Harper still isn’t a fan of the witch, but he tolerates her the way I tolerate Elmer.

fall porch decor: orange lights plastic bats

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fall porch decor

Fall wreath with burlap ribbon and monogram

What are your favorite fall decorations? Do you appreciate the grisly variety or prefer subdued, friendlier fare?

Hugs!

Amber

These Shoes were Made for Wearing.

Several months ago, Harper developed a bit of an obsession with shoes.  It started with his shoes.  He wanted to wear shoes most of the time, and loved changing into different pairs multiple times daily.  Since he wasn’t independent with putting shoes on himself it was sometime a hassle for me. However, he always sat patiently while I crammed his chubby feet into narrow shoes or used a shoe horn to help the process so I’d oblige him.  It wasn’t long before his interest in shoes progressed to any and ALL shoes.

Currently, if Harper spies a vacant pair of kicks, without fail, he’ll remove his current pair and slip into his new find.  It doesn’t matter who owns the shoes, what size they are, or even the style.  Seriously, he can strut around effortlessly in anything from my 4″ wedges to Poppa’s work boots.  It’s a futile effort, but he will attempt wearing his siblings too small shoes as well.  He snags my shoes on a regular basis, and even the shoes of visitors.  The day I take him into a shoe store he’ll be in hog Heaven.

 

These red Converse are among my favorite shoes for Harper, but he and I don't always agree about when they "go" with the outfit.

These red Converse are among my favorite shoes for Harper, but he and I don’t always agree about when they “go” with the outfit.

Harper chose the entire outfit here from pirate hat to Daddy's yard shoes.

Harper chose the entire outfit here from pirate hat to Daddy’s yard shoes.

I'm not sure an outfit is complete unless you have a fedora and Eeyore slippers.

I’m not sure an outfit is complete unless you have a fedora and Eeyore slippers.

Honestly, I can’t blame Harper for his passion for shoes.  I have a rather extension collection myself.  In fact, I’ve commissioned George to build storage for them in our new closet because I can’t locate every single pair with ease.  Mint strappy sandals found at Target are my among current faves.  I wore them with most everything all summer…mint pairs surprisingly well with many colors.  I’m sad they’ll soon be out of rotation, but looking forward to boot season.

Do you have a favorite pair of shoes?

 

Hugs!

 

Amber

 

P.S. Should you ever pay Harper a visit, please keep your shoes away from his reach.  Otherwise he’ll assume they are for him and off he’ll trot!