19 Practical Gifts for Kids

When birthdays and Christmas approach, our family and friends often ask for gift ideas for the kids. Having four kids generally means four of each thing and it’s easy to become overwhelmed with “stuff”. I’m not against them receiving new toys, but there are also many non-toy options that are practical and loved by the kids.  I also try to keep budget in mind when others ask  for suggestions. As with anything, a favorite character or color always sweetens the deal.  At this time, our girls are interested in anything princess while the boys like superheroes, pirates, and vehicles.  If you are the parent of a toddler or preschooler, or are shopping for one this season, consider some of our favorites.




Earlier this season, we invested in rain boots and rain coats for the kids and they were worth every penny.  Their new gear has been practical on the many soggy days we experienced this fall, and I think they will work for the few snow days we’ll see.  The kids are also really proud of their gear and how easy it is for them to put on and take off themselves.  They often choose to wear rain boots even on sunny dry days, which is fine by me since they don’t need any help.

  • Rain Boots


  • Rain Coats


  • Umbrellas



DIY no skid toddler slippers

Our kids are experts at stalling bedtime, but they have a few creature comforts that seem to help.  Right now, the girls prefer wearing “dressy” nightgowns that look more like dress up clothes than pajamas.  When our friends babysat one night, they thought the girls were trying to bamboozle them into allowing dresses for bed rather than pajamas.  The boys aren’t as picky, but they have pajamas with capes attached that are super cute.  Since we have a lot of tile in our house, the kids also like wearing slippers to keep their tootsies cozy.

Each of our kids sleeps with a dream lite pet that projects stars onto the ceiling at night.  It helps them drift off to sleep, and is also comforting to them if they wake up in the night.  The kids haven’t slept in sleeping bags overnight yet, but we’ve found them handy for family movie night, sick days, and time with the grandparents.  We are also practicing sleeping on them for the day we finally take our first road trip.


      • Pajamas

  • Slippers

  • Dream Lite Pets


  • Fleece Blankets


    • Sleeping Bags



The quads enjoy bath time and don’t mind brushing their teeth, but they prefer hooded bath towels and brush their teeth longer with power toothbrushes.  They also enjoy wearing plush bath robes before and after bath, or anytime they feel chilled in the house.  I have been surprised by how often they ask to wear their robes.

    • Hooded Bath Towels

    • Electric Toothbrushes

      • Bath Robes



Family Movie Night

The kids are only allowed to eat in the living room for family movie night, and for those occasions, they use a lap tray to keep things tidy.  Their lap trays are also handy for art projects and table top tasks such as puzzles or magnets.  Since they share almost everything, the kids like having their own personal character dishes and cups that are not shared.  Since the kids are getting too big to use our favorite sippy cups, we have replaced them with lidded, insulated cups with a straw they cannot easily remove.

      • Lap Trays

  • Character Dishes

      • Insulated Cups


Last Christmas a family friend gave the quads money to put towards activities.  We enrolled them in summer recreational dance classes and purchased the necessary attire for it with the money.  If your child will be attending preschool or participating in an activity, either the supplies or money to pay for the activity itself could be on the wish list.
    • Backpacks


Our kids benefit from getting out of the house to explore the world, but taking four kids out for something simple like ice cream can be expensive.  We have greatly appreciated gift cards to local eateries and memberships to local attractions.  Our kids also enjoy checking the mail everyday to see if their monthly magazine subscription has arrived.  I often toss their magazines in my purse for waiting rooms, the car, or when we visit others.  They are full of stories and activities to occupy them.



        • Memberships or tickets for local theme parks, zoos, or museums

        • Gift cards to restaurants with play areas

        • Movie Tickets

        • Magazine Subscriptions


When it comes to shopping for young children, gifts don’t have to be expensive or extravagant.  With the exception of memberships, all of the items on our list are under $30, with most in the $10-$15 range.  Sometimes it’s the little things kids appreciate most.  And, more importantly, we set the example for giving and receiving gifts with our children.   Happy Shopping!






Disclaimer: For your shopping convenience, you can click on any of the pictured items, which will take you to Amazon for additional information.  Should you choose to make a purchase via an Amazon link, Four to Adore will receive a small commission.  We appreciate support for this website!

There’s No Such Thing As The “Terrible Twos” {Guest Post}

There's no such thing as the terrible two's so what is a parent to do? Try this simple tip. ©FourtoAdore.com

Whoever coined the phrase “terrible twos” must have done so before they were the parent of a three-year old.

Because if the twos are “terrible,” then the “threes” are a nightmare in living color.

At least that was the case in our home, with all three of our children. I hear so many other parents share the same discovery upon the arrival of their first child’s third birthday.

Yes, I think the “terrible twos” are an urban legend.

Because when they’re two, it’s all, “Yes mommy,”

And, “I love you mommy,”

And, “What can I do to please you today mommy?”

And then they turn three, and it’s “No.”

And “You can’t make me.”

And “I don’t love you anymore.”

And “You’re the worst mommy ever!”

And it’s temper tantrums in the aisles of the grocery store.

And non-sensical arguing, 24/7.

And battle time at the dinner table.

And potty training.

(Don’t even get me started on that one.)

I don’t know what happens on the 1,094th day of their sweet little lives, but whatever it is, it’s not good.

It’s as if there’s a switch on their backs. And on the eve of their third birthday, someone dressed for the cover of darkness, and wearing a mask, sneaks into our home while all the chicks are tucked safely into bed, and flips the switch from “angel” to … well, the opposite of that.

And the next day, our whole life changes.

For at least 12 months.

terrible twos -  terrible threes - gratitude -  finding gratitude for children who are misbehaving -  thankfulness -  praying for thankfulness -  praying for gratitude -  the power of prayer in parenting - mommy time out - parent time out


I remember vividly when my husband, Kory, and I discovered that our sweet little angel of a first-born had made that transition. It revealed itself in a battle of the wills that centered around swallowing food.

We wanted her to.

And she wouldn’t.

For hours at a time, she would hold her food in between her cheeks and her gums.

What in the world?

Were we raising a child or a chipmunk?

We weren’t sure.

It happened day after day, for weeks on end.

And it got so out of hand that we were having to wrestle her to the ground before bedtime to sweep her mouth of whatever food she was storing up for winter so she wouldn’t choke to death in her sleep.

That control battle dominated the scene for weeks and tainted every other interaction we had with our daughter because we were frustrated and exhausted.

terrible twos - terrible threes - gratitude - finding gratitude for children who are misbehaving - thankfulness - praying for thankfulness - praying for gratitude - the power of prayer in parenting - mommy time out - parent time out

I remember one day in particular.

Kory was working late.

I was pregnant with our first-born son.

And it was dinner time.

It had been a long day, and our daughter had been preparing for hibernation and telling me “no” for most of it. She also wouldn’t put her pee pee in the potty, so I’d cleaned up at least 10 messes on the floor when I could barely reach my toes.

I made her favorite meal for dinner, which she informed me she no longer liked. But with some coaxing, I got her to eat. (Well, I guess that’s what you call it when someone chews up their food and stores it between their cheeks and their gums.)

She had a mouthful of food that she wouldn’t swallow, and it was time for bed.

I was too tired to fight her, so I ignored it, and I took her upstairs for bath, hoping she would swallow her food on her own. But one bath, one story, and one prayer later, the food was still in her mouth. So the time had come when I was going to have to deal with it, whether I wanted to or not.

But when I began to reach towards her mouth to sweep the food out with my fingers, there was no daughter.

There was only Zuul.

The child flipped out, demonstrating some moves I hadn’t yet seen.

And with my pregnant belly in the way, I couldn’t control her. So I carried her flailing body back to the high chair and strapped her in so she couldn’t hurt herself or me.

I “left” the room because, if raising a three-year old had taught us anything, we’d learned that temper tantrums require an audience. So I lurked around the corner, out of sight, sitting on the floor with my head between my knees, sobbing while she screamed.

terrible twos - terrible threes - gratitude - finding gratitude for children who are misbehaving - thankfulness - praying for thankfulness - praying for gratitude - the power of prayer in parenting - mommy time out - parent time out

I’d had it with all the disobedience.

I’d had it with the battles of the wills.

I’d had it with the feelings of disdain for my own child.

I’d had it with the feelings of failure as her mom.

But while I sat there, I felt God leading me to pray. So I did. And as is often the case, I felt God leading me to do something in my prayers.

I felt God leading me to give thanks for this child.

Yeah, right.

This horribly disobedient, three-year-old-who-thinks-she’s-a-chipmunk, control freak, who was screaming like something demon-possessed in the other room.

I’m not going to say it was easy at first.

I was in the weeds of the terrible threes.

So I’d lost sight of all the beautifully good and wonderful things about this child, and I needed a reminder. But after searching the most inner parts of my heart and soul, I was able to identify some wonderful things about her that were getting lost in all the things we were working on.

Her outgoing nature.

Her care for others.

Her blossoming love for Jesus.

Her knack for prayers.

Her sense of humor.

Her creativity.

Her amazing vocabulary.

Her wisdom.

Her sparkling eyes.

And her smile.

Just to name a few.

I found that the list went on and on and on. And as I sat there on the floor giving thanks for this beautifully imperfect three-year old, I got so lost in my list, I didn’t even notice that she’d finally stopped screaming in the other room.

When I finished my prayer, I pulled myself off the floor, swept her out of the high chair, and put her to bed, feeling entirely different about both her and me than I had just a few minutes before.

Are you in a difficult season with one of your children?

If so, know you’re not alone. Know there are countless other moms and dads walking their own journey of struggle right along side you.

It’s normal.

But in our attempt to convey the appearance that we have it all together, most of us just don’t talk about it. So it feels like we’re the only parents in the world who can’t control our kids.

Having raised three children out of the terrible threes and some other difficult seasons as well, I know this too. Like any other season, this season, will pass.  And there will be things about it you’ll miss.

So stay the course.

Maintain your resolve.

Know there’s light at the end of this tunnel.

And along the way, when you find yourself in the midst of the toughest of days, take a parent time out to give thanks for the child (or children) that have you on your knees. It’s a truly transforming exercise that will help you regain some much needed perspective.

It may just save your day.

Do you have any strategies for changing your outlook when one of your children becomes consistently challenging?


Jennifer Knott - Confessions Of A Pastor's FamilyJennifer is a pastor’s wife, mom of three “tiggers”, part-time attorney, and Noonday Collection Independent Ambassador. She is passionate about families and loves to inspire and encourage couples as they strive to build strong, healthy relationships with God, each other, and their kids.

In a social media driven world that puts only its highlight reels online, Jennifer has observed an unmet need for deep, authentic relationships. As a result, she blogs over at Confessions Of A Pastor’s Family, where she shares transparent stories about her faith, marriage, family, and ministry so that others might see God’s transforming power in her imperfect family and be inspired to use their own families as a witness to others in the name of Jesus Christ.

The Day I Quit Potty Training

I read all of the books and sought all of the advice before we started potty training. I tought it was do able, but I learned through experience that kids have to be ready developmentally. I was merely presenting the opportunity for them to learn.

Long before becoming a parent, I remember watching both my aunt and cousin struggle to potty train their children.  Both were moms to bright kids with extensive vocabularies, and they were good moms.  These children seemed fully capable of being toilet trained but clearly their parents were committing fatal errors in the process.  Being trained in behaviorism, I had many theories as to why they were failing and didn’t mind dishing out “helpful” advice whether it was requested or not.  Both of these moms struggled for YEARS with potty training their children. I naively believed I would have a smooth potty training experience in my future.  Ideally, my children would be accident free by two years old and would never, ever wear a pull up.

“Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select — doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and, yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors.”
–John Watson, Behaviorism, 1930

At age two, Mason and Rylin showed some interest in using the toilet.  We bought a toddler sized potty seat and began modeling for them.  Shortly thereafter they began sitting on their potty seat and occasionally peed.  Victory!!!  Harper and Sydney weren’t as interested, but occasionally sat on the potty seat too.  By about 2.5, the girls were waking up dry in the morning and I felt they were gaining bladder control.  I wasn’t ready to delve into full-fledged potty training, but continued modeling for the kids and added an embedded seat to the toilet with potty stool to their bathroom.  At this point, Rylin was able to keep her pull up dry, but was unable to have a BM in the toilet due to gastrointestinal issues (she sees a specialist for them).  Shortly before the kids turned three, I decided it was time to hunker down and use the “Three Day Method” for all four kids.  I consulted numerous articles, books, and of course, my most powerful resource, other quad moms.

I collected an arsenal of supplies including:


an embedded potty seat, looster stool and two step stool are handy for potty training

potty training bathroom

light switch

Oxi Clean

little loo potty seats are handy for multiples- they are relatively small, come in many colors, are cheap ($10), and easy to clean

The night before kicking off potty training, we removed all rugs leaving bare tile and plank that could easily be wiped down.  I created clean up stations in key rooms, which included a roll of paper towels, Lysol wipes, and Nature’s Miracle stain remover.  In the bathroom, I kept a stack of fresh undies, books and magazines, and a trash can for soiled clothes.  Knowing potty training quads was too much even for me, I solicited the help of Nisey for three days, and George was off work.  The first morning when the quads woke up, we presented them with their very own personalized potty seats (I put their names on them using stickers to prevent squabbling over a particular seat), new undies, and t-shirts they chose at Target.


As expected, the first day was rough, there were lots of accidents.  Fortunately, there were many successes too.  Even Harper who never successfully peed on the potty learned this skill.  On the second and third day, the kids were getting the hang of peeing on the toilet, but not one would poop.  I consulted other moms of multiples and discovered that many kids took several weeks before they consistently pooped the toilet even though their parents considered them “trained” after the three days.  I took comfort knowing this and we continued the potty training process.  Nearly a month later not one child pooped on the potty.  Ever.  Some accidents were so bad that I cut undies off the child so I wouldn’t have to pull the mess over their legs. Numerous undies made it to the trash.  I felt defeated.  What was I to do?  Call the Worst Potty Trainer for advice, of course.

I know, who would call the person who admittedly failed at potty training not once, but three times?  Me because I FINALLY understood why she failed.  When I called my cousin, Jennifer, self-proclaimed worst potty trainer ever, I could hear her husband laughing audibly in the background.  I wasn’t seeking advice to “fix” the problem or to magically train the children.  I knew I presented the opportunity for success, but for one reason or another they weren’t ready for it.  I needed reassurance that it was okay to stop with all the pressure and let the kids wear pull ups, for their comfort and my sanity.  (At this point my sanity was hanging on by a thread).  Jennifer taught me a new mantra that I repeat in my head multiple times per day,

“Absent extenuating health issues or extraordinary circumstances, your pre-schooler will not go to kindergarten pooping in his or her pants.” -Jennifer Knott, Confessions of a Pastor’s Family

Jennifer also gave me this piece of wisdom,

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Matthew 6:34

God’s desire is for us not to worry.

After our conversation, I put all the undies away and added Pampers Easy Ups Training Pants to my monthly subscribe and save with Amazon mom.  And, more importantly, I breathed a sigh of relief.  I let go of all the pressure to “train the kids”.  I left all the potty seats in the bathroom and continued praise for success, but the stresses of watching for signs, cleaning up messes, and utter frustration were relieved.  About four or five weeks after quitting potty training, Mason disappeared from the dinner table.  I thought he headed to the playroom, but soon heard a little voice proclaim, “I pooped on the potty!!!!”  Everyone leapt from their seats to confirm his claim.  The other three kids screeched in delight saying, “Mace, YOU DID IT!!!!”  We all beamed in pride.  And you know what?  Mason has continued using the toilet independently for weeks.  The others aren’t quite there, but they’ve had successes here and there, and they will go to kindergarten using the potty.  I’m done potty training, and I’m good with that.  Our attention has shifted more to one of “toilet learning” than toilet training, and it’s much less stressful for all of us.

P. S. I’m fully aware of the MANY potty training techniques available to get the job done, and I bet I’ve tried the majority of them.  I know that numerous parents have met success with such techniques.  You may even be tempted to share your own nuggets of advice, but please just keep them to yourself ;)

Related Articles:

Advice from the World’s Worst Potty Trainer

Potty Training Twins: A Series of Stops and Starts

Potty Training Quadruplets- 101

Potty Training- The Scoop!

Toilet Learning vs Toilet Training

You’re Doing it Wrong: 48 Tips from the Worst Potty Trainer, Ever

Buy One, Get One Free

When I was a child, my mother always made my Halloween costumes, and she was quite creative.  I went through a few years of wanting to be things instead of people.  Long before the invent of Pinterest, mom managed to craft costumes including a bag of M & M candies, a shocking pink Crayola Crayon, and a bunch of purple grapes.  When the quads arrived, I was determined to follow her example of creating cute costumes without spending much, if any money.

When the quads were infants, Aunt CiCi made them mummy onsies.  The next year, we used white t-shirts to make four of a kind playing cards.  When they were two years old, we went as Noah’s Ark; the kids wore animal print clothing with coordinating ears and tails.  These first few Halloweens, the quads tolerated whatever I chose for them.  As threenagers they weren’t quite so complacent.  In the weeks leading up to Halloween, the excitement over the holiday began.  Throughout the day they’d inform me what costume they intended to wear, which primarily consisted of favorite television show characters.  Feeling defeated, I decided I would take them to Target to choose their own costumes (gasp!)  Much to my delight, Target was running a buy one, get one free sale on children’s Halloween costumes.  If I was going to fork out cash for Halloween costumes, at least I’d get them for a bargain.

Here are Mommy's Mummies handmade by Aunt CiCi herself!



After cruising the crowded costume aisles several times over, each child chose their own costume.  I could hardly contain my excitement when they managed to coordinate with one another as superheroes: Supergirl, Captain America, and Spiderman.  Proving the purchase was worthwhile, the quads wore their costumes nearly everyday after we brought them home.  And, I believe they will continue wearing them throughout the year.


Mason wasn’t keen on the Spidey mask so I found a Spiderman baseball hat at Target for him to wear instead.  Rylin added her own flare to her costume by adding a sparkling tiara. Harper and Sydney were excited that they were compliments to one another.


Our neighborhood is the perfect place for trick or treating.  As soon as the sun begins setting, families clad in Halloween costumes begin lining the sidewalks.  Homeowners (or kind relatives) perch on the driveways sharing treats while spooky music fills the air.  There are so many trick or treaters, most people realize that closing the front door is a fruitless effort.  Some families leave a clever note and basket of treats on the porch while they enjoy the festivities for themselves.


The quads had a hard time understanding the concept of taking only one treat from a bucket so I had to keep an eye on them.



Sometimes the treats looked so yummy, we had to stop walking to nosh on one.




Once we were back at the house, the kids began tearing through their treat buckets for goodies.  We let them choose a few favorites before confiscating the haul.  Sneakily, we distracted them by charging them with passing out treats for our visitors.


How did you spend your Halloween night?



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The Voice of Miscarriage {Guest Post}

©FourtoAdore.com Photo Note: This sunset photo was taken in Puerto Vallarta in November 2011 shortly following our miscarriage experience. That particular trip proved very powerful for us, and what would be our final trip as a childless couple. Our quadruplets were born in July 2012.

Approximately 30% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, chances are you or someone you know was affected.  Today, Erin is sharing her voice on this sensitive subject in honor of Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness month. 

If you were to ask me how many children I have, I would likely say that we have four: a three year old, an eight month old and that I have two bonus kids who are 11 and 14. What I wouldn’t say, and what you wouldn’t know is that I really have seven children. I have four here with me, and three angels in Heaven. One might wonder, why I didn’t mention the other three. If I did, I would force you to have a potentially uncomfortable conversation. You see, I had the unfortunate experience of having a miscarriage, not once, not twice, but three times. I lost three children. If I told you, you might say the wrong thing, or nothing at all. You might inadvertently discount my feelings or the experience itself. You might do these things because you “don’t know anyone that has experienced this.” The truth is, it is almost impossible that you don’t. Chances are you know someone who has experienced the loss of their unborn child. Your friend, your neighbor, a family member, perhaps even your own mother. Miscarriage is much more common than one would think. The problem is, few people talk about it and few people know how to support those experiencing it.

Sometimes even those closest to us, such as our spouses don’t know what to say or do. They don’t understand why we are still crying weeks or months later. Why our voice cracks at the mention of it…sometimes even years later. For men, sometimes they just don’t establish a true bond until they can feel the baby, see the baby and sometimes not until after birth. For them it is different. With that, husbands, boyfriends, wives or girlfriends….please offer support to your significant other. Just because you haven’t yet bonded, doesn’t mean that it is any less real. Understand that it is a death. There will be crying, grieving, a lot of questioning as to why this has happened, anger, dwelling…the list goes on. Ask how your significant other is feeling, both emotionally and physically. If she is questioning when you can try again, be open to discussion. That alone can give some women hope that one day they will be a mom. If your spouse can’t even approach the topic of another try, that’s okay. Revisit later. Be whatever she needs you to be. Realize that they may change from moment to moment, day to day. Whatever you do, remember that this is excruciating, heartbreaking and can take a huge toll on both the emotions and body of a woman. Be present.

It can be extremely difficult for others to understand the pain of this experience. I feel compelled to explain this for anyone who has ever found themselves saying the wrong thing, or not being there for someone. For those that one day will be in a position to say something and not know what to say or do. For anyone who has ever experienced this and felt alone in the darkness.

By sharing my experience, I hope somehow it may bring someone comfort knowing that they are not alone, other women have been there, felt the same darkness, the same disparity, and the same gut wrenching pain that goes beyond the loss itself. After miscarriage, you find yourself sad about what might have been.  You feel like a horrible friend when you realize that you are bordering on angry when a friend or relative announces a pregnancy, or has a baby. You get angry when someone complains about their baby crying too much or waking too much, or stretch marks, discomfort in pregnancy and so on….all the things that you would give ANYTHING in the world to experience…because it would mean that your baby is alive.  It causes one to be terrified the next time that they become pregnant.  You constantly scrutinize every little thing in your body…what was that pain, I didn’t feel the baby in the last hour, it’s taking them a long time to find the tiny little bean during that first ultrasound, taking too long to find the tiny heartbeat on the doppler…thoroughly inspecting the toilet paper looking for the tiniest speck of blood, checking for a heartbeat at home multiple times a day just to make sure the baby is still alive….the list goes on and on. It really can wreak havoc on someone, not just in the weeks after, but for months and years potentially. Miscarriage steals the ability be in ignorant bliss during subsequent pregnancies…it can tarnish the happiness one should and would be feeling, because the anxiety and fear take over. It can even cause postpartum anxiety and fear. Miscarriage is real. The loss is real, no matter how early on it occurs. As a mother, the minute we learn that we are pregnant, no matter how early…we are that baby’s mother, they are our child and our love for them runs deeper than any other love could. We are attached emotionally and physically immediately. We mourn the loss, we grieve, it is a death, a life taken too soon, a life that will never be, a dream that will never be realized and fulfilled…

For friends and family of those going through this, or who have…I hope this guides you to a place of better understanding. To a place that will allow you to be there and be of great support to those in your life that have experienced this tragic loss. For all of you have experienced this loss, you are not alone. Know that there is hope. While it is sometimes very difficult to find hope, keep the faith and move forward. There were times that I thought I would never be a mom. After three consecutive miscarriages and after finding out that I had a genetic blood clotting mutation, I went on to have two healthy and happy little boys. It took some work to keep these boys safe until it was time to meet the world, but my dream has been realized. My heart is full and while the sadness surrounding the loss of those three angels will never disappear, the void has become smaller and I know that they are watching over us and one day, we will be together again.

Erin is a work from home mom. She is a Corporate Recruiter by day and a mommy by day and night. She has two boys, Kieran (3 years), Kohen (8 months), and two bonus children, Abby (14 years) and Keegan (11).  In her spare time she enjoys spending time with family, her Great Dane – Izzie, and crafting when she can find the time.

Related Posts:

Tips for Helping a Friend After Miscarriage

The Gifts of Infertility & Miscarriage

Reflecting on Miscarriage

Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day: October 15

Our Home is Not a Pottery Barn Catalog


Long before our kids made their debut, George and I loved conquering DIY projects and decorating our home. We are quite thrifty and find joy in such projects. Every project begins with inspiration, and many times it’s from a design site, or my favorite, the Pottery Barn catalog. Oh how the Pottery Barn catalog speaks to my inner designer’s heart. Everything is always impeccably tidy and organized, yet inviting and warm. Whether there’s a dining room set to host a meal or a cozy sofa by the fireplace, I’d love to jump right in. While I come up with some fantastic Pottery Barn hacks, looking at these glossy pages sometimes skews my expectations for our home.

Is our home well-designed, cozy, and inviting? I believe so, and our friends and family seem to agree. Our home is filled with heart and it’s the very place where an abundance of family memories are made, but it’s no Pottery Barn catalog.  Every night after all of the children are snug in their beds, I scurry around the house working to fight clutter.  Though the kids tidied up themselves, there are always stray toys posing as tripping hazards, a sink of dirty dishes, dirty shoes and clothes littering the floor.  And that’s just the clutter.  Let’s not even entertain the dust bunnies, finger prints, and pet dander (I try to ignore those things when possible because there’s never enough hours in a day).


Once the kids were in toddler beds, unbelievable shenanigans ensued.  I’m talking, flipped beds, stripped boys, peeing contests, drawer emptying, clothes swapping.  We thought if we moved the boys into bigger, heavier beds some of this would stop.  Nope.  This pair is clever and has an uncanny way at finding solutions to any problem they encounter.  We pray they develop their curiosity and ingenuity to future careers…

Because of this, the boy’s room isn’t quite up to par with the girl’s grown up room, but it’s okay.  It’s real.  They have the same DIY Jenny Lind headboards attached to the wall.  They have some artwork, which is also secured to the wall and out of reach as they’ve been known to hang from paintings, snapping the picture wire.  Harper no longer has a foundation to his bed since he developed a routine of turning the mattress to create a teeter totter, which he told us was his car.  Their lamp is on the hutch, far out of reach since they dangled it by the cord and said it was their lantern.


Bedtime is full of epic stalling techniques.  Once these four created a bridge of kitchen stools and began chanting in delight.



My seagrass baskets meant to conceal toys in the den are often tipped over, allowing kids to crawl into the entertainment center.


This was one of the girls’ “masterpieces” created during nap time one afternoon.


A while back, I developed a habit of making our bed.  It takes about 90 seconds and makes me feel more accomplished as I begin the day.  However, little people are known to sabotage my efforts by hiding among the pillows.  Frustrating as it can be, they are simply adorable when they do this.


There are days when all of the clutter and grime in the house makes me feel anxious.  I wonder to myself why it isn’t like a Pottery Barn catalog.  Why can’t I keep things in a better state?  Well, duh!  OUR HOME IS NOT A POTTERY BARN CATALOG!   Families don’t live in catalogs, they are merely spaces created by designers to sell products.  They are void of all the love and joy of a home, and memories are not made there.  I’ll probably always continue my battle against clutter and work endlessly to keep things as tidy as possible, but it won’t be because I’m striving for a catalog photo shoot.  These things will continue because I’m the type of person who thrives in an orderly state and I simply cannot let it completely go.  I can change my state of mind, however.  Instead of feeling defeated, I can recall the events of the day.  When I trip over a Hot Wheel or Lego, I can remember the kids building a mighty tower and racing cars together and pick them up with a joyous heart.

Maybe it’s not a Pottery Barn catalog that makes you feel as though you don’t measure up.  Perhaps it’s your friend’s Facebook photos of glamorous vacations and hip parties.  Maybe it’s a coworker who easily meets goals, or the friend who eats a strictly organic diet and runs marathons.  Whatever the case, remember where your heart is, and stop making comparisons.



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Rain or Shine


Last year, the quads visited a pumpkin patch for the first time, and I knew it should become a family tradition.  There’s something about taking a hayride on a crisp day and the sight of bright orange pumpkins littering an open field that signals onset of autumn.  However, here in Texas most October days felt like summer with temperatures in the 80-90’s.  This summery weather stifled our autumn spirit.  When this weekend promised a cool front, we promised four little people a trip to the pumpkin patch.  Unfortunately, the cool front was accompanied by torrential rain, which did not bode well for our plans.  After our local meteorologist promised a slight reprieve in the afternoon, George and I knew we needed to keep good on our promise.  Anticipating plenty of mud, we took the kids to Payless Shoes to score some new kicks appropriate for mud.  They were trilled at finding rain boots clad beloved characters: Minnie Mouse, Spiderman, Anna & Elsa, and Lightning McQueen.  The boys were equally ecstatic we had an occasion for them to wear batman rain coats.



The boys proudly hauled their pumpkins into the farm-house for purchase.  These pumpkins will decorate or porch for Halloween, and then will be roasted for spiced pumpkin soup next month.


The kid’s rain boots proved worth every penny we spent on them.  Rylin happily twirled, hopped, and splashed about an enormous puddle.



Though many of the typical farm activities weren’t open due to the weather, the kids enjoyed visiting the rabbit, chickens, and farm dog.   They also experienced a see saw for the first time.  Unfortunately, see saws are quite dangerous and required close supervision, hence, not photos.  Sorry, folks!




Things don’t always go as we originally envision, but when we embrace life, they can be better than we imagined.  I’m glad we didn’t let a little rain and mud spoil our plans because we made the best kind of memories in the moment.



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Skelly Dog

As we cruised the aisles of Costco, George stopped in his tracks. “Skelly dog is FIVE DOLLARS!!!”, he proclaimed with delight. I sighed, knowing exactly what he was thinking. He added, “It was $10, but now it’s only $5. I NEED this.” I could have sworn this was one of my children clamoring over a new toy instead of my husband. Sarcastically, I remarked, “Need? Really?!?!” This Halloween decoration, a skeleton mutt, was as unappealing to me as George’s prized Halloween decoration, Elmer.

Yet, I knew we’d adopt the little mongrel because George loved it.  What surprised me was how much Harper also loved the little fella.  When we got home, Harper insisted we open Skelly Dog from his box right away.  Then, he proceeded to carry him around gleefully.  Last Halloween, Harper was terrified of George’s kitschy Halloween decor, but this year he’s all aboard.  It looks like George may have a protege after all.  Halloween has never been my favorite holiday, but my family is certainly warming my heart to the holiday.

A boy and his dog….



On Halloween night, Elmer will escape from the attic to perch on our porch with our little pet, Skelly Dog.  Happy Halloween!



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Jenny Lind Crib Upcycle: Twin Headboards

Shortly after the quads turned three, we decided it was time to move them from toddler beds to twin beds.  Originally we planned on keeping toddler beds until four, but the boys were driving me INSANE with bedtime shenanigans, but that’s another story.  Switching to twin beds meant we’d need some new furniture and decor.  Knowing that our boys had a history of destruction we had several guidelines 1. furniture and artwork would be bolted to the walls 2. furniture needed to be relatively small since the kids share tiny rooms 3. we weren’t going to break the bank buying things.  After cruising Pinterest, I fell in love with the Jenny Lind style beds seen on many design sites. I had a huge problem with the price tag, however.

Though it was a long shot, we started skimming Craigslist ads and local antique stores for vintage Jenny Lind beds.  Every antique dealer we spoke with told us finding a matching pair of antique beds was slim and four was highly unlikely, but we kept searching.  One afternoon, I spotted dismantled Jenny Lind cribs (I thought they were twin beds) outside a nearby antique shop on the driveway.  I commanded George to pull in so I could check them out. After chatting with the owner, I had step by step directions for converting the cribs to twin sized head boards.  It was serendipity that she had two cribs, which would convert perfectly into four headboards.  All four pieces cost $100 together, so not shabby!  She already weathered them by leaving them outside for weeks, allowing the rain and sun to crackle the finish and give the wood a shabby chic appearance.


Our cribs looked like this when we brought them home.  To get the look, follow the steps below.


1. Lightly sand the rough edges and make sure there is no loose stain remaining.  There is no need to sand thoroughly because you’ll be spray painting over everything.


2. Remove any dust from the sanded surface with a soft brush or cloth.


3. Using inexpensive white spray paint ($.97), prime all surfaces.  You can use your thumb to spray if your finger gets tired, or use a spray paint trigger.  I thought the trigger helped with control, giving a more even coat.




spray paint trigger
4. Once the primer is dry, cover everything with about three coats of Rust-oleum Painter’s Touch 2X Ultra Cover Paint Primer in your desired color.  For the boys, we used Apple Red.  We used Key Lime for the girls.


©FourtoAdore.com Rust oleum Key Lime paint/ primer


5. Allow paint to dry for about 24 hours.

6. Determine where you’d like your headboard to be secured to the wall.  Then, drill pilot holes through the headboard and mark the corresponding place on the wall.  Using drywall anchors, attach the headboard to the wall.  We secured ours in four points.



Having the beds secured to the walls was critical for the boys.  They are experts at dismantling things, hence the need for big boy furniture.


7. Arrange your bed’s foundation and mattress in front of the headboard.

We warmed up the girl’s space by painting an accent wall gray then creating a collage of accessories mostly found at Hobby Lobby.  I snapped the black and white picture of them myself and mounted it to a canvas.  The toe shoes were in my room as a child.  All of their linens were found at Home Goods.


At this point, the boys are not ready for their quilts or many accessories.  Their room isn’t looking as spiffy with sheets only on the beds and a barren nightstand, which is a sobering reminder to me that we do not actually live in a Pottery Barn catalog.  At some point, I’ll get around to snapping pictures of their new digs.



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