A Few Good Toddler Reads

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A few months back, I loyal reader informed me that Twiniversity, an online resource for parents of multiples, was seeking parents of quadruplets to contribute for them.  Being unfamiliar with Twiniversity, I curiously perused the site.  There, I found a wealth of information and tips for everyone to expectant parents to school aged children.  After learning what Twiniversity is about, I found myself submitting some of my favorite posts and pitching ideas to them.  To my delight, they thought I’d be a good fit for them.  With that I present my first piece for Twiniversity, Reading to Toddlers: Tips for Boosting Language.  I hope you’ll pop by Twiniversity to read my tips for yourself!

There's no better way to wind down for the day than with a bedtime story.  The quads love to pile onto my lap together, and I'm enjoying it before they get too big.

There’s no better way to wind down for the day than with a bedtime story. The quads love to pile onto my lap together, and I’m enjoying it before they get too big.

Thinking about this post, I asked you to name your favorite children’s books. Many of your favorites, were also beloved in our home. You named several that were my childhood favorites that are not currently in our library, and I’m adding those to our wishlist.   On the top of the list, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie!  I fondly recall the illustrator of that book coming to my elementary school and have loved that book since.  Here are our top 10 quaddler-approved books (in no particular order).

                                                             

                                                

 

                                                                                                                          

Do you have any of these books in your personal library?  What books would you add to this list of favorite books for toddlers?

happy reading!

Amber

Disclaimer: Four to Adore participates in the Amazon Affiliate Program, meaning that if you choose to purchase a product linked to Amazon, Four to Adore receives a small commission from the sale.   The proceeds of any sales are intended to help contribute to an educational fund for the quadruplets.  

Toddler Tips #934: Yogurt Reinvented

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With each passing day, I find myself trying to solve some new challenge with raising four toddlers, aka “quaddlers”. They are a cunning lot who inspires a little ingenuity on my part (and George’s) just to manage day to day life. While my ideas are born from being surrounded by four toddlers, I think many of them could be helpful to any parents of little ones so I'm sharing.

With each passing day, I find myself trying to solve some new challenge with raising four toddlers, aka “quaddlers”. They are a cunning lot who inspires a little ingenuity on my part (and George’s) just to manage day to day life. While my ideas are born from being surrounded by four toddlers, I think many of them could be helpful to any parents of little ones so I’m sharing.

Being independent toddlers, the quads refuse to let me spoon feed them anything.   For the most part, it’s not a problem because they are highly skilled at finger feeding and are using utensils a little better each day.   Some foods such as applesauce and yogurt don’t lend themselves to finger feeding and aren’t ideal for novice utensil users.  This led me to find some alternative solutions, especially for yogurt.

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I snagged this little gem from Gwen’s Nest.  I put a little yogurt in the bottom of a bowl or plate and top it with dry cereal.  This is one of my favorite ways to serve yogurt because it helps the babies work on spoon-feeding themselves.  The yogurt sticks to the dry cereal, making it easier to scoop.  Sometimes they pick up the cereal as a finger food, and it’s a bit sticky, but it’s not terrible.

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I also found a recipe for Orange Dreamsicle Bites from Cookies & Cups, which used Greek yogurt and orange flavored Jell-O.  I experimented with it and found that other flavors make tasty yogurt bites for the wee ones (and adults too!).  Plus, using other flavors creates fun colors, which is helpful when teaching toddlers about colors.  The best part- Greek yogurt transforms Jello-O into a snack packed with probiotics, calcium, and protein that is easy to serve and clean up!

You'll need just two ingredients to make yogurt bites: 1 1/2 cups Greek Yogurt 3 oz. box of Jell-O

You’ll need just two ingredients to make yogurt bites:
1 1/2 cups Greek Yogurt
3 oz. box of Jell-O

Mix the yogurt and Jell-O in a microwave safe bowl

Mix the yogurt and Jell-O in a microwave safe bowl

Microwave the mixture 1 minute then stir well.  Microwave another minute then stir again.

Microwave the mixture 1 minute then stir well. Microwave another minute then stir again.

Spoon the mixture into molds, or muffin tins with cupcake liners.  If you use a mold, be sure to spray it with cooking spray first.

Spoon the mixture into molds, or muffin tins with cupcake liners. If you use a mold, be sure to spray it with cooking spray first.

I forgot to spray my mold and only two of our animals came out clean.  I found that mini muffin tins are just the right size for a snack, and clean up is easy.

I forgot to spray my mold and only two of our animals came out clean. I found that mini muffin tins are just the right size for a snack, and clean up is a cinch.  I made these as a toddler snack so I didn’t get fancy, but at Cookies & Cups, she topped these with whipped cream and candy, which would be cute to serve at a party.

I’ve been serving banana milk shakes for a while, but recently began adding yogurt to them.  I also like adding yogurt to whole milk as a drink.  This is by far the easiest way to serve yogurt to toddlers!  I do this often for Mason and Sydney because they are so tiny and often need extra calories that are nutritious rather than empty junk food options.

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Toddlers absolutely LOVE dipping.  They recently discovered they joys of ketchup and sour cream so I began using yogurt as fruit dip for the quads.  Sometimes they spear fruit with a fork, which is good utensil practice.  They also do well just dipping fruit as a finger food.

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The yogurt I used for this was white, but I added a drop of red food coloring to make it pretty for the picture. Rylin is currently obsessed with pink things and thought it was fantastic. I think I’ll experiment with making our yogurt other colors such as green and orange to help teach colors.

Do you have any clever ways to serve yogurt or otherwise messy foods to toddlers?  I always enjoy tips for feeding toddlers, and have been enjoying the Tyke Bites series at Texas Tales.

hugs!

Amber

What Paintbrush?

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As much as I enjoy doing art projects with the quads, I’ve admittedly avoided them in recent months.  Winter wardrobe is simply not conducive to messy art projects.   However, I knew it was time to put my reservations aside and let the quads try their hand at painting with brushes for the first time.  I waited until George had a day off so I had help managing the eight little hands and forty fingers. Thanks to Sesame Street, the quads are highly interested in the alphabet and letters in general.   Given that, I thought it would be fun to let them paint their initials.   We started with square canvases and taped off each baby’s initial with masking tape.  Then, we let them go with a cup of paint and paintbrushes.

We gave each baby a square canvas with their initial taped across the top.

It took Sydney less than 30 seconds to dip her fingers into the paint and slather on some crimson lipstick.  Red is not easy to pull off, but  it was a good color for her.  This is also the reason we use non-toxic tempera paint!

Things started out slowly with daps here and dots there.

Things started out slowly with dabs here and dots there.

It didn't take long before babies started "borrowing" paint from each other, creating some uniuqe color palates.  You may notice they not only painted their canvases and the table, but also their hair!

It didn’t take long before babies started “borrowing” paint from each other, creating some unique color combinations.

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You may notice they not only painted their canvases and the table, but also their hair. Mason added the most color to his hair, he loves adding “product” to his hair.

 

This is how everyone looked after painting their respective masterpieces.  I believe Rylin was channeling Frida Kahlo.

This is how everyone looked after painting their respective masterpieces. I believe Rylin was channeling Frida Kahlo.

When it was all said and done we had a gigantic mess to contend with, but it was thankfully bath night and our Bumkins smock bibs protected all clothing perfectly.  Even better, the paint was easily rinsed from the bibs and they came out of the washing machine looking like new.  Once the paint dried, we peeled off the tape, revealing the initials.   Even though the babies weren’t quite yet skilled with paintbrushes, it was certainly good practice and a fabulous sensory experience!

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Here are all of the little masterpieces. I think they turned out really cute. Now I’m just not sure where to display them.

Hugs!

Amber

The Little Things Thursdays: Joy Despite Stress

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It’s been a hectic week littered with sick babies and tragedies for some of our closest friends.  Our stress levels heightened this week, making it easy to forget the precious moments that brought joy.  I thought it would be a good week to link up with Rebecca at a Beautiful Ruckus for The Little Things Thursdays.  Even with added stress, we had plenty to celebrate.

Seeing these eight little legs dangling from the quad table warms my heart.

Seeing these eight little legs dangling from the quad table warms my heart.  They’ve grown so much since we began using this table.  Can you guess whose feet are whose? (Hint: look at the pajamas they are wearing further down in the post)

The babies may fight nearly constantly, but they have a strong sibling bond and adore each other too.

The babies may fight nearly constantly, but they have a strong sibling bond and adore each other too.  They often dole out hugs and kisses to each other.

It always makes me chuckle to see how the babies fall asleep and what they choose to snuggle with, I mean a drill???

It always makes me chuckle to see how the babies fall asleep and what they choose to snuggle with, I mean a drill???

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Apparently Elmo wanted to snuggle Mason.

Early on in my pregnancy, we bought four antique chi'dren's chairs.  They've been taking up space in our bonus room nearly two years.  Recently, the babies proved they were big enough to use them, and they are great for table top activities.

Early on in my pregnancy, we bought four antique children’s chairs. They’ve been taking up space in our bonus room nearly two years. Recently, the babies proved they were big enough to use them, and they are great for table top activities.  The only problem, Sydney figure out how to move the chairs to climb onto other things such as the sofa.

Sydney is finally  starting to engage in pretend play.  She and Rylin have been feeding and rocking their "twin" babies all week.

Sydney is finally starting to engage in pretend play. She and Rylin have been feeding and rocking their “twin” babies all week.

It's not easy, but I love it when all four babies pile up in my lap for stories.  I'll keep cramming them in as long as possible.

It’s not easy, but I love it when all four babies pile up in my lap for stories. I’ll keep cramming them in as long as possible.

One of my daily stressors is naptime.  One little diva seems to think she doesn’t need a nap at all, and often likes to wake her siblings with a banshee scream.  Sure, I’ve moved her into other places, but this girl has pipes and can rattle the whole house.  One day I caught her beckoning me in a kinder way than usual  When she didn’t get a response, she decided to heckle her sister.  Take a peek for yourself-

What little things brought you joy this week?

Hugs!

Amber

Why Women Don’t Grill (Usually)

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This post is rather ironic given my recent post about exposing children to toys geared towards the opposite gender.  Several readers pointed out the importance of embracing our innate talents.  I agree with that 100%.   I think it’s wise to allow children opportunities to play with toys that aren’t necessarily for their gender, but not at the expense of their natural talents and preferences.   By design, men and women typically have tasks they are naturally better at than others.  Grilling is one that typically falls within the male domain, and apparently for good reason.

In honor of President’s Day, George enjoyed the day at home with us.  The weather was stunning and the quads enjoyed playing outdoors well over an hour before nap.  Enjoying such springlike weather inspired us to make plans for grilled chicken for dinner.  George and I enjoy cooking together, but when it comes to grilled food, I leave the grilling to him while I manage side dishes.

As the babies snoozed, I made a rub for the chicken and diced  veggies for our salad.  (We try to make the best use of sleeping babies by preparing everything in advance.)  Naturally, they woke up a bit too early and were super cranky so we ushered them back into the yard before dinner.  As the dinner hour approached, we brought the quads in for an Elmo movie so we could wrap up dinner.  This meant George would grill and I’d finish the sides.  Our plans quickly changed when a menacing Little People chicken aggressively jumped in front of George, causing ruckus.  We heard a pop as George tumbled to the floor, narrowly missing the quads.  It was apparent that George had a major big toe injury, which required immediate TLC.  I managed to get the Elmo movie started as I packed George’s toe in ice.  Clearly he wasn’t grilling our dinner- I was.

This chicken wreaked havoc on our dinner plans, and the rest of George's week for that matter.  Poor guy has been forced to wear slippers to work!

This chicken wreaked havoc on our dinner plans, and the rest of George’s week for that matter. Poor guy has been forced to wear slippers to work!  If you see this chicken, RUN the other direction!

Here's the damage!

Here’s the damage!

I knew I could handle it.  We have a gas grill and I already seasoned the chicken.  All I had to do was toss it on the heat, flip it and check it for doneness, right?  Wrong.  George hobbled outside to turn the grill on for me as I gathered my grilling tools: tongs, clean plate, fork, knife, Pam, and of course the chicken.   Once I plopped the chicken on the grill, I shut the lid and headed back inside to finish the rest of our meal.  I figured I’d leave the chicken out there 15 minutes or so then flip it.   Upon my return to the kitchen, the babies became restless and extremely fussy.  Elmo was not entertaining them at all.  I scampered about trying to appease them as I worked. Every five minutes, George reminded me to check the chicken.  I was trying to do a bazillion things so of course, I never would have thought to check the chicken.  In fact, truth be told, I probably would have forgotten it even after 15 minutes without reminders.  Over about a thirty minute period, I tended to the quads, miscellaneous kitchen tasks, and George’s toe.  Thankfully, George periodically continued reminding me to check the chicken.  I found grilling chicken to be surprisingly daunting.  When I cook chicken, I typically use the Crock Pot, oven, or stove and it requires very little monitoring.  I can “set it and forget it”, which is exactly what I normally do with chicken.  Grilled chicken, however demands a little more attention.

Thinking back to social psychology and neurospychology classes, I can recall learning about how men and women filter information differently.  Typically men are able to focus intently on one thing at a time, whereas women divide their attention amongst many different tasks at once.  This is why it drives me insane when the television and radio blare simultaneously and George is unphased.  I hear EVERYTHING from both sources and try to attend to both while he chooses to attend to one while totally ignoring the other.   Having the tenancy to attend to multiple things at once comes in handy when caring for quads, but not so great when grilling.  In the end, I proved myself capable of grilling chicken that looked decent and tasted good.  However, I realized there’s a reason George is better at this task: he can focus on it and only it.

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I was pleasantly surprised when the quads gobbled up their chicken since they don't usually eat chicken well.  That night we decided to call chicken "meat" at the dinner table.  When we called it "chicken", Rylin gave us a puzzled look as she said, "Bock, bock???"  We weren't ready to explain that one yet...

I was pleasantly surprised when the quads gobbled up their chicken since they don’t usually eat chicken well. That night we decided to call chicken “meat” at the dinner table. When we called it “chicken”, Rylin gave us a puzzled look as she said, “Bock, bock???” We weren’t ready to explain that one yet…

George ate dinner with his foot nicely elevated.

George ate dinner with his foot nicely elevated.

Do you focus on one thing, or several simultaneously?  Do you think your answer is related to your gender?

Hugs!

Amber

Premier Designs Online Trunk Show & GIVEAWAY! (closed 2/25/14)

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This giveaway is currently closed,

Congratulations to Justina Who, giveaway winner!

Shopping has always been one of my favorite past times (it counts as a past time, right???).  I’ve even written myself a few prescriptions for “Retail Therapy” over the years.  However, life after quadruplets has altered the way I enjoy said hobby.  It’s not so simple to gallivant around town searching for whatever Holy Grail I have in mind.  Instead, I’ve learned the fine art of online shopping.  Just prior to Christmas, our UPS driver stopped by our home almost daily.   After the quads are snugly tucked into bed for the night, I can sit back in my pajamas with a cup of hot tea or a glass of vino as I browse.   Most of my online shopping, however, is for the quads.  On occasion, it’s nice to make a more self-indulgent purchase, say on jewelry!  I really do love jewelry.  I just adore how the right necklace can dress up a boring tee-shirt or earrings can detract from a bad hair day.  That’s why I’m excited about teaming up with my friend and Premier Designs consultant, Claire, to bring you an online trunk show featuring the latest in jewelry trends.  The Premier Designs Spring Style Guide reveals a few of the trends you may want to try this spring, including high gloss enamel finishes and contrasting colors (e.g. teal and melon).   Mmmmm!

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In order to shop the trunk show, visit the Premier Designs Catalog then enter the access code: CLAIR.  The access code is in ALL CAPS.  I was a bit disappointed to discover that you can’t actually make online purchases.  Claire pointed out that it’s for good reason though.  Premier Designs motto is, “How can we serve you?”  They want to ensure each order is given a high level of customer service, meaning you have direct contact with your consultant.  Don’t fret!  Ordering is still a piece of cake.  Simply cruise the catalog and create your wish list.  Once you narrow down your order, just contact Claire at clairetastrophe@yahoo.com

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Premier Designs offers a tremendous selection to cater to a variety of tastes.   There is something for the simple, chic palate to the bold, overstated style preferences.   They literally have most anything your heart desires (regarding jewelry, that is).  As I perused the catalog, I had a difficult time pinning down my favorites.   Atop my list of favorite items, Silver Chic necklace page 24 (this would go with ANYTHING), Mirror Image chandeliers page 28 (very classy and refined), and Jellybean necklace page 30 (so vibrant).

Premier Designs pieces are created with versatility in mind.  For example, their watch bands can be swapped, earrings are often reversible or convert to studs, and “enhancers” clip from one necklace to another.  This allows you to create many different looks with only a few pieces.   Fabulous!!!!  When browsing the catalog, keep an eye out for designer tips that tell you exactly how to get the most out of each piece.

The best part, we are giving away three pieces from the Mint to Be collection.  Each piece is in a matte gold tone complimented with pale mint.   Did you know pastels are trending this season?  (When I let the quads tear through my unread fashion magazines, I noticed that pastels are H-O-T for the spring!  This particular collection certainly fits that bill.)  Our giveaway includes the Mint Condition necklace (16″ chain with lobster closure), Hint of Mint earrings, and Minty Fresh chandeliers, all shown below.  While Mint Condition appears to be a just a necklace, the inner chain can be removed and worn as a bracelet so it’s really a two in one piece.  Nifty, right?  The Illusion and Arabesque bangles are fantastic compliments to the giveaway pieces, check catalog pages 114-115.

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{Images and item descriptions courtesy of Premier Designs}

To enter to win these fabulous pieces from the Mint to Be collection, visit the trunk show online,  to decide which Premier Designs piece is your favorite.  Then, visit a Rafflecopter giveaway to cast your entries. 
The contest is open to U.S. residents only. The giveaway closes at 12:00 am CST, Monday, February 24 and the winner will be selected using rafflecopter.com and announced on Tuesday, February 25. The winner will have 48 hours to reply to email notification or another winner will be chosen.

Good luck, & happy shopping!

Amber

*Disclaimer: In exchange for hostessing an online trunk show with Premier Designs, I’ll earn jewelry credit based on the amount and number of items purchased via my online trunk show. I was not further compensated for providing the giveaway item and views and opinions expressed in this post are my own.

And…It’s Valentine’s Day

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This week I decided it was FINALLY time to wrap up everything remaining from Christmas. George nagged me enough about our Christmas card display, and I knew our thank you notes were far overdue.  And…it is Valentine’s Day!

I am certainly no Emily Post, but I try to maintain proper etiquette, particularly regarding thank you notes. When someone takes time, effort, and money to purchase and wrap a gift, I want them to know it was appreciated. This year, I thought I’d diverge from our traditional hand written notes, and send electronic versions including pictures of the quads enjoying their gifts.   I started strong.  In the first few days following Christmas I busily snapped pictures and attached them to texts and emails thanking the gift givers.  Then, it became overwhelming.  I started losing track and getting confused so I gave up, leaving about half of our thank you notes undone.

After almost two months, it was high time I finish the thank you notes.  I bailed on my original idea and insead reverted back to traditional hand written paper versions.  Even though these would not come with pictures, I wanted the quads to add their mark.  I wrote a  quick note to each gift giver, then let the quads decorate with stickers and crayons.   In the past, they typically ate both stickers and crayons so I partially expected a futile effort.  However, the quads really enjoyed playing with stickers.  I started by handing them stickers and pointing to the paper and telling them to “stick it”.  It wasn’t long before they convinced me to let them peel the stickers off and place them independently.   I really didn’t give them enough credit, and found our project to be relatively relaxing.  They did, however, munch a few crayons in the process, leaving most of our crayons without tips.

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Once we stuffed our mailbox with completed thank you notes, it was time to tackle the Christmas card display.  At the beginning of the Christmas season, we hung a wooden “S” in the entryway with three strips of ribbon dangling from it, then used clothespins to attach cards as they arrived.  Christmas cards are one of my favorite parts of that time of year.  We get updates from our friends and family from near and far, and I enjoy looking back at them all season long.  If it were up to me, we may leave them up until the next year.

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As I took the pictures down, the quads were given the task of storing the clothespins in an empty wipes box (it’s not my permanent storage place for them, but it was a great toddler task).  Then, I borrowed an idea from a fellow quad mom.  I punched a hole in the corner of each card and put them on a ring, creating a flip book.  Since the quads are interested in learning names and labels, we’ve been pointing out each person pictured as we name them.  Perhaps at our next extended family gathering, or play date the quads will recognize everyone better.   The best part is that our cards didn’t end up stuffed in a storage box indefinitely or worse, thrown away.

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Now that Christmas is finalized, I suppose we shall take time to show our love for each other in honor of Valentine’s Day.  George and I aren’t the biggest fans of Valentine’s Day so we are keeping it simple.  I’m planning to pick up dinner after work, and perhaps a movie rental.  I also made our favorite sugar cookies in heart shapes for each of my five Valentines.

What do you do with Christmas cards at the end of the season?

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Toddler Tips: #1,120 Don’t Recycle That! (Yet)

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With each passing day, I find myself trying to solve some new challenge with raising four toddlers, aka “quaddlers”. They are a cunning lot who inspires a little ingenuity on my part (and George’s) just to manage day to day life. While my ideas are born from being surrounded by four toddlers, I think many of them could be helpful to any parents of little ones so I'm sharing.

With each passing day, I find myself trying to solve some new challenge with raising four toddlers, aka “quaddlers”. They are a cunning lot who inspires a little ingenuity on my part (and George’s) just to manage day to day life. While my ideas are born from being surrounded by four toddlers, I think many of them could be helpful to any parents of little ones so I’m sharing.

Thankfully, our city makes recycling simple.  All we have to do is rinse our recyclables and toss them into a giant bin that we place curbside for weekly pick up.  Consequently, our household waste is drastically reduced and we recycle the majority of what would otherwise be trash.  Now that the quaddlers are fascinated with containers, I let them play with our clean recycleables before dropping them into the bin.  As I cook dinner, I dole out the newest materials and the quads are easily occupied for 20-30 minutes.  But, it doesn’t just occupy them and allow me to cook, they are working on fine motor skills as well.  They open and close flip top and screw top containers, flip and tear magazine pages, stuff containers with smaller ones, and drum with kitchen spoons.   Sydney’s occupational therapist would be proud of the page turning we get with magazines. (She told me that at 18 months they should be turning paper pages one at a time.  We all know what they do to board books so I wasn’t letting them at paper paged books, but magazines meet the same end.) Once they are done playing, I scoop up everything and toss it into the recycle bin.  Super easy!  I am aware of the many toys circulating around Pinterest using these types of things as toys.  However, the quads seem to enjoy the novelty that each day brings rather than using the same containers or materials again and again.   Plus, four babies tend to wear out flimsy plastic and cardboard containers relatively quickly.

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While I’m on the topic of recycling.  I love re-purposing linen packaging, specifically the clear zip bags used for new sheets and comforters.  They are ideal for storing toys with many parts.  For example, the bag from our pillow shams now houses a few Lego sets, and our old Boppy Pillow bags are fantastic for storing our ball pit balls. All the small parts are contained, and the contents are visible so labels are unnecessary.  Each time we have a new bag like this, I make a point to let George know it’s a keeper.

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What is your favorite item to re-purpose?

hugs!

Amber

 

 

But That’s for GIRLS!

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Although I consider myself extremely feminine, I detest gender stereotypes and promote gender equality.  That being said, it wasn’t until I observed the quads playing together that I put much thought into the gender bias of toys.   Both of the boys spend the majority of their time playing with the kitchen set.  I’ve mentioned before, they simply love mixing up concoctions in tea cups and feeding the baby dolls.  Although these may be considered “feminine” toys, I love that my boys have opportunities for this kind of play.  When they are someday grown and have children, I hope they are the kinds of fathers who help prepare dinner and care for the children.  George does these things without hesitation and that makes him a strong father and husband.

Shortly after Christmas, the quads became interested in pretend play, and dressing up.  The boys gravitated to the white sun hats.

Shortly after Christmas, the quads became interested in pretend play, and dressing up. The boys gravitated to the white sun hats.  To be fair, we don’t have any masculine dress up clothes (think fire and police hats) yet, but I plan to add a few in the near future.

Our dress up trunk is sparse and the boys also made use of the fluffy blue tutu.

Our dress up trunk is sparse and the boys also made use of the fluffy blue tutu.

On the flip side, the girls enjoy playing with race cars, trains, and tools.  I hope they learn to value problem solving skills and never feel inferior to boys.   The thing is, it’s easy at our house having an equal number of same age boys and girls.  It’s totally coincidental that the boys have just as many “girl” toys available to them as “boy” toys, and vice versa for the girls.  I would hope that if our children were all the same gender we would expose them to a variety of “boy” and “girl” toys, but it would be very easy to follow stereotypes when shopping for toys.    It’s quite possible if we only had boys that our home would be void of dolls and dress up clothes, and if we only had girls there wouldn’t be a single car or building block.

What I love most about all of our toys, is that the boys and girls play together.

What I love most about all of our toys, is that the boys and girls play together.

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Several months ago, a viral video spread across YouTube.  It depicted three girls constructing and setting a Rube Goldberg Machine.  It was an advertisement from a new company, Goldie Blox, that seeks to encourage girls to pursue careers in science and engineering.   Currently only 13% of engineers are female, and the creators of Goldie Blox feel it’s correlated to the toys girls are given.  In January, Huffington Post published an article about how toy manufacturers are transforming once gender neutral toys such as Legos to feminine versions and made “girl” toys even more feminine than before (hard to believe that’s even possible).  It sends an interesting message to children doesn’t it?  The line is drawn in the sand: there are toys for boys and toys for girls.  It saddens me to think toys  could limit the aspirations and careers of my children.

All that being said, I’m not in any way suggesting that we stifle what is innate in our children.  As a child, I vehemently rejected cars, sports activities, and construction materials.  Instead I gravitated to dolls and similarly feminine toys.  It wasn’t for my parent’s lack of trying, they certainly provided a variety of play options.  I believe that as parents, it’s prudent to provide equal opportunities for our children and not to chastise them if they choose to play with something that may be geared towards the opposite gender.

Do you think toy manufacturers have drawn the gender lines too clearly?

hugs!

Amber

We’re Surviving, They’re Thriving

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When I sift through a series of foggy memories from the past year, I can vaguely recall mothers of toddler aged quadruplets saying it was much more taxing than the infant stage.  New quad moms, I hate to break this to you, but this is the truth.  Even though the quads are fantastic sleepers (sleeping 11-12 hours solidly most nights), George and I are far more exhausted than in the days of round the clock feedings.  I believe it’s because they are incredibly curious and require far more cognitive energy from us than in the past.  Many aspects of our life are “easier”.  Most parents, especially parents of multiples would probably agree that it’s never “easier”, just different with each stage.

We certainly don’t miss making bottles, late night wakings, reflux, or colic.  Right now, the little personalities that are unfolding are precious, and the learning that takes place on a daily basis is impressive to say the least.  Right before our eyes, our babies are transforming into little people with their own thoughts and opinions, which they often assert.  After everyone is snugly tucked into bed, George and I muster just enough energy to complete the most necessary of chores before we settle in for the night.  We have absolutely no trouble falling asleep at night.  That’s quaddlerhood!

With the help of a our dutiful friend, Terri, we took the quads for their 18 month well check on Monday.  They all got a clean bill of health, which we never take for granted.  Oh how far they’ve come since their NICU stint.  Not surprisingly, they are all somewhat tiny, however.  It may be partially due to prematurity, and partially due to the fact that they have small parents.  My mom kept impeccable records in my baby book so I did a comparison.  I was EXACTLY Rylin’s height and weight at 18 months!  While I believe George and I are simply surviving at the moment, the quads are thankfully thriving.  Sydney is the only one who still receives Early Childhood Intervention Services, but she’s made enormous gains recently and will likely be dismissed by age two if not sooner.  Because the blog also serves as a baby book, I included an extensive update on what everyone is doing.  Feel free to skim it, or skip it altogether and enjoy the video at the end instead.

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Rylin

20 lbs, 2 oz

2′ 6.2″

size 12-18 month clothes, 4 shoes, 4 diaper

  • Social/ Emotional: Rylin tends to take time to “warm up” to new faces, but in time she jabbers to most anyone who will listen.  She names each of her siblings, Nisey, Poppa (she got naming rights to “Grandpa” by being the first to use his name), and Aunt CiCi.  She thrives on individual attention and really enjoys “conversations.”, sometimes jabbering away to her siblings.  She enjoys giving hugs and kisses, especially to her siblings and sometimes the dogs.
  • Cognitive: Rylin names a few colors: pink, purple, green, and blue.  When asked, she points to pictures in books and/ or labels them.  She also labels and points to body parts including: eyes, nose, ears, head, tummy, belly button, feet, hands, eyebrows, chin and cheeks.   Rylin is able to engage in pretend play; she likes wearing her dress up tutu and tending to her “babies”.  She’s not much of chef, but doles out baby bottles and blankies rather well.
  • Fine Motor: Although she very much enjoys snacking on crayons, Rylin can scribble independently.  She also turns pages of a book, opens and closes containers, and zips/ unzips.  In fact, she is one reason we stopped using sleep sacks- she unzipped them.
  • Gross Motor: Rylin climbs up stairs with ease, and skillfully backs down them.  She also climbs our toddler slide then turns around to go on her tummy, feet first.  Of the four, Rylin most enjoys jumping on our mini trampoline.  She also enjoys riding toys of all types.
  • Communication: Rylin voraciously learns new vocabulary words on a daily basis, and incorporates them into “conversations”.   We keep a word list for each baby, but we’ve lost track of hers since she knows over 50 words.  Since she soaks up new words easily, we have to be very careful what we say because she will imitate anything she hears, and also gets her feelings hurt if she thinks we are saying something mean about her.  Not only does Rylin have many words in her vocabulary, she uses them to make requests and puts 2-3 words together such as “Oh no!”  When Rylin is upset, we find that asking her to follow simple directions distracts her and makes her feel a sense of pride.  She’s very good at finding and bringing things to us, which is helpful.

Harper

25 lbs.

2′ 5″

size 18 month clothes, 5 shoes, 5 diaper

  • Social/ Emotional: Harper tends to be most mellow around new faces and greets anyone without hesitation.  Despite his reputation for being a crocodile, he’s beginning to enjoy more time sitting in our laps for snuggles.  When asked, he will give hugs and kisses.  He names his siblings, calling Mason, “May May” as well as himself.
  • Cognitive: Harper is excellent at problem solving and enjoys shape sorters and form puzzles.  He’s proven himself capable of matching shapes to like colors and fitting up to eight shapes into a puzzle.   Harper also loves imaginary play.  He continues to love whipping up concoctions in the play kitchen and feeding baby dolls and animals alike.
  • Fine Motor: Harper loves to open and close anything.  We often give him empty food containers before we recycle because he enjoys opening and closing so much.  He’s very close to manipulating one of our baby gates so we have to keep an eye on him.  Coloring is not his favorite task, but he is able to scribble.  He was the first to take spoons from us to feed himself.  He is becoming better at eating with utensils and gets about half of the food from a fork into his mouth.
  • Gross Motor: Harper was the first to climb stairs independently.  We figured out he could do it when he was missing one afternoon.  Someone forgot to latch the baby gate and Harper enjoyed exploring upstairs on his own.  Terrified us!  He was also first to master the toddler slide, and he literally goes into a trance going up and down repeatedly until we stop him.  Recently, he began slowing himself down with his feet then doing a bit of a dismount.  He’s also a huge fan of riding toys, particularly the bouncing zebra and motorcycle.
  • Communication: While Harper is typically quiet, he has 25-30 words in his vocabulary as well as many animal sounds/ signs and environmental noises.  He is beginning to use his words to make requests, especially with encouragement.  We often see him signing “please” as he says, “more, more, more”.  He identifies several body parts including: eyes, nose, mouth, head, feet, belly button, and ears.  Additionally, Harper is beginning to follow one step verbal directions (e.g. put this in the hamper).  He’s so proud of himself when he’s done something requested of him.

Sydney

17 lbs, 11 oz

2′ 4″

size 9-12 month clothes, 3 shoes, 3 diaper

  • Social/ Emotional: Of the four, Sydney is always the first one to greet Mommy and Daddy after work.  She literally sneaks into the den where she stands at the gate exclaiming, “Mommy” or “Daddy”!  It melts our hearts every single time.   While Sydney is our most introverted child who loves “me time”, she is beginning to play with her siblings, especially with games of chase.  She is also our most compassionate with animals.  She gravitates towards the dogs and is always extremely gentle with them, lightly stroking their fur.  She’s also been caught curling up in Lily’s bed numerous times.
  • Cognitive: As of today, Sydney engages in pretend play.  During specialized skills therapy, she talked on a toy phone and fed her puppy.  She responds really well to music and often hums familiar tunes.  She shocked me one day when she sang a few lines of the Alphabet Song since we hadn’t officially introduced it.  Apparently she picked it up from one of the many toys that play the Alphabet Song.  She’s also really good at matching tone and pitch she hears.
  • Fine Motor: As with the dogs, Syndey is delicate with books.  She is the only one to be trusted with non-board books as she carefully turns pages and studies each one.  Sydney can scribble with crayons, but is generally unimpressed with this activity.
  • Gross Motor: Sydney recently surprised me when she climbed up stairs as if she’d been doing it for years.  All the while she proclaimed, “Up! Up! Up!”  She was the last to walk, but is certainly working hard to catch up to her siblings.  Shes most skilled at getting and out of toddler sized chairs and loves testing the limits by standing on them.  Sydney often bends over and attempts somersaults.  She cannot do them independently yet, but with help she squeals in delight.
  • Communication: Thanks to speech therapy, Sydney’s vocabulary is developing steadily.  Similar to Harper, she’s often quiet and choosy about when she wants to speak.  However, she has about 25-30 words in her repertoire.She also knows many environmental sounds, especially animal sounds.  With prompting, she can make simple requests using baby signs including, “drink, more, please, and cereal”.  I honestly believe she may have more than we know, but she often speaks in whispery tones so I don’t know that we hear her over her siblings commotion.  One of her therapists is trying to help her assert herself, especially when it comes to siblings.

Mason

19 lbs, 1 oz.

2′ 4″

size 9-12 month clothes, 3 shoes, 4 diaper

  • Social/ Emotional:  Mason is our social butterfly.  He does not know a stranger (I anticipate lots of “Stranger Danger” education in his future).  He continues to charm people with his huge smile and double dimples.  Mason is extremely affectionate and often hugs and kisses his siblings as well as caretakers.  He calls himself “May May” and names all three of his siblings as well as Nisey and Poppa.  Mason initiates play with his siblings and gets a thrill out of tag.
  • Cognitive: Although he’s not consistent, Mason generally identifies the following colors: red, orange, green, and blue.  He also labels heart and oval shapes.  Like Harper, Mason really enjoys dramatic play in the kitchen and is always mixing up something.  He prefers to find two toys that match so he can keep one in each hand.  Recently, we’ve noticed that he manipulates the Little People toys within their scenes (e.g. putting a doll on a slide).  He labels and identifies the following body parts: eyes, ears, nose, eyebrows, tummy, belly button, feet, and hands.
  • Fine Motor:  Mason seems to be most interested in mastering fine motor skills.  He brushes his teeth rather well with a side to side motion, and manages utensils well.  In fact, he becomes upset if we don’t give him a utensil at meals if the food is not clearly a finger food.  He scribbles with crayons, of course snacking on them too.  Mason is beginning to sort shapes and complete form puzzles.  Additionally, he manages zippers and is able to remove his clothing.
  • Gross Motor:  Mason climbs upstairs and the toddler slide with ease, however he is fearful to come back down independently.  He enjoys riding toys and jumping on the mini trampoline.  Of the bunch, he is the only one who kicks a ball.
  • Communication:  Mason has bout 35-40 words in his vocabulary as well as many environmental sounds and baby signs.  Like Rylin, Mason desires to learn new words and picks up new ones often.  He makes his needs and wants known, often saying “help” or “please”.  He does a good job of generalizing new words learned from books and conversations by labeling objects in his environment.

Do you know how big you were at this age?

hugs!

Amber