Cupcake Day

cupcake day: books, crafts/ activities for toddlers and preschoolers

I recently spied an adorable toddler craft that coordinated with one of my favorite childhood books, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Pop by Texas Tales to see the cookie craft that coordinates with the book.

We don’t have If You Give a Mouse a Cookie in our personal library, but we do have  If You Give a Cat a Cupcake.  And, since my kids absolutely adore cupcakes, they received several other cupcake themed books as gifts.  I was delighted to find cupcake shaped foam cut outs and mini glitter shakers at Target’s One Spot last week.  With our book collection and craft supplies, I decided we should devote an entire day to the quad’s beloved dessert.

One morning, I enthusiastically announced that it was “Cupcake Day” and told the quads of all our cupcake themed plans.  Their eyes glistened in anticipation as their mouths watered at the mere thought of cupcakes. We started by getting dressed for the day.  Naturally, the girls wore their cupcake t-shirts.

cupcake day attire

Once everyone was dressed, we read If You Give a Cat a Cupcake and talked about cupcake toppings before making a cupcake craft. When we do crafts at the kitchen table, I use a lunch tray to contain pieces for each child.  It works really well by establishing a boundary for materials and clean up is a cinch.

cupcake day craft

I’m not ready to let the quads loose with glue so I dotted the glue myself and let them stick the sprinkles, wrappers, and cherries on their cupcakes.  Since the glitter shakers were small, they were perfect for the kids to shake without making a huge mess.  In fact, I may keep the containers to refill for later crafts.

cupcake day craft

cupcake day craft

Making a cupcake craft was fun, but you can’t celebrate Cupcake Day without eating cupcakes, which meant it was time to bake Funfetti cupcakes.  I wanted to involve the quads, but knew they’d be impatient with baking.  I pre measured everything and gave each one a turn pouring an ingredient into the mixing bowl.  Once the batter was mixed, I moved our cupcake pan onto a stool and asked the quads to put liners in each hole.
cupcake day

Cupcake Day

cupcake day

During naptime, the cupcakes baked then cooled. George arrived home shortly after nap and insisted we make cream cheese frosting for our cupcakes.  Even though I didn’t want to deal with frosting mess, he was right, cupcakes are never complete without frosting.  It’s the BEST part!

cupcake day

As soon as each cupcake was delicately frosted and accessorized in rainbow sprinkles it was snack time.  These cupcakes earned a round of applause.  Seriously, the joy harnessed from cupcakes tempt me to celebrate Cupcake Day several times a year!

cupcake day

cupcake day

It’s no surprise, when we asked the quads what color frosting they wanted, the vote was split between blue and pink. Consequently, we frosted half blue and half pink.

cupcake day

What is your favorite dessert?  I enjoy a cupcake, but honestly chocolate chip cookies are my weakness, especially when they are warm.

hugs!

Amber

P.S. Did you know National Cupcake Day is December 15th?  Either we celebrated very early, or very late…

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What’s for dinner? {Melt in Your Mouth Pot Roast}

A recurring question amongst moms seems to be “What are you making for dinner?”  Seriously, this question is asked in the lounge at work, on play dates, on Facebook, and via text.  It became such a hot topic in one of my mothers of multiples groups, I started a pin board for the group.  Members of the group pin their favorite go-to meals for their families.  The rules are 1. It must be a meal you served to your family before.  2. Your kids actually ate it.  It’s also best if recipes are relatively simple to prepare and clean up, because who has time for that?   I certainly don’t have spare time for difficult meal prep or clean up.  Since contributors are moms of multiples, meals are generally well suited for large families as well.

Last week when we hosted a play date with the Bell quads, I had just the go-to meal to prepare: Melt in Your Mouth Pot Roast.  My mom introduced me to Mississippi Pot Roast a while back, and I embellished that recipe by adding our favorite root vegetables.   It is the ideal meal for a dreary winter day (or any other time you want some comfort food!)

Melt in Your Mouth Pot Roast

Ingredients:

  • 1 chuck roast
  • 2-3 large baking potatoes OR 5-6 small potatoes scrubbed well
  • 2-3 medium onions
  • 1 package of baby carrots
  • 1 packet of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing powder OR 3 tbs (if you buy the large container like me)
  • 1 package of Au Jus Gravy
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 5-6 peperoncini peppers

Start by spraying your slow cooker with cooking spray or using a liner.  Then, cube the potatoes and chop the onions (keep the onions relatively large).  Line the bottom of your slow cooker with the potatos, carrots, and onions.

Melt in your mouth pot roast

Next, cover your roast with the Au Jus and Ranch powder so that it is fully covered.  Then, nestle it on top of the vegetables.

Melt in Your Mouth Pot Roast

Melt in Your Mouth Pot Roast

Lay the stick over butter on top of the roast and put the peppers on top of the butter.  You can add more vegetables around the roast if there’s room.  Since my kids love carrots I added several more handfuls.

Melt in Your Mouth Pot Roast

Cook on low about seven hours (or high if your roast is partially frozen like mine was).  I promise, you’ll enjoy the aroma filling your home all. day. long.  It taunts our poor dogs as the scent lingers.  When I finally  open the lid I have two dogs with waging tails drooling at my feet.  If you are having guests over, their mouths will be watering when they reach the front door.  It’s that good.

Melt in Your Mouth Pot Roast

I put our roast on by about 10:00 am before the play date, and it was ready to serve by the time our guests arrived for dinner.  Since we were serving a meal for 12, I paired the roast with a green salad and garlic bread, just to make sure we didn’t run out of food.  However, it works as a stand alone meal beautifully.  I forgot to snap a photo of the roast when it was done in the Crock Pot, but here are the children’s plates.

Melt in Your Mouth Pot Roast

With the added vegetables, the roast comes out a bit like a stew with a nice gravy perfect for dipping your bread into.

Melt in Your Mouth Pot Roast

We brought the picnic table indoors for the kids since it was rainy and cold, and clearly our table doesn’t seat 12.  That meant the begging, food snatching dogs were banished to our bedroom for a while.  I mean, eight toddlers eating pot roast would be easy pickings for two dogs.

Melt in Your Mouth Pot Roast

Following our meal, the quads romped around upstairs before we put everyone into jammies.  When someone heard Lily barking on the other side of our door, all eight decided to take a peek.

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Here are two…

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then six…

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Alas seven…

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We never captured all eight at once, but we got close.  That’s a lot of little people crammed together.

What is your favorite go-to family meal?  Have any we should try?  If you’re interested in expanding your family’s meal repertoire, please visit my MoM and Kid Approved Meals board.  Better, yet, follow along.

Hugs,

Amber

Please, don’t judge my mom…I dress MYSELF.

When Rylin was an infant I recognized her strong will and desire for independence.  I also knew she came by it honestly.  I recall the countless mornings I went to school sniffling and splotchy because I was dissatisfied with my clothing, breakfast, lunch, or whatever.  I also recall asking my mother repeatedly to re-fix my hair because it wasn’t “right”.  Bless my mother…she’d style my hair only for me to pull it out and ask for a do over.  In various states of frustration with my bull-headed behavior she’d occasionally mutter, “I hope you have a little girl just like you someday.”   That little girl is the sunshine in my life and one of my greatest challenges.  Because I relate to her, I struggle.

Since she has well developed verbal skills, Rylin asserts her opinions easily.  She has an opinion about every. single. thing.  I love getting a little insight, really I do.  Except when it comes to wardrobe.  This is a VERY sore subject here.  Around age two, each of the quads started expressing opinions about clothes and a desire for independence.  They no longer willingly wore what I chose for them.  As much as I love choosing their clothes, I recognized that they needed a little independence in the area.  I began offering them 2-3 choices in the morning.  I’d hang the options on the dresser and they’d pick one.  It worked beautifully.  They got a tiny bit of control, but on my terms.

offer toddlers 2-3 clothing choices in the morning to give some independence, but with limits

It wasn’t long before my 2-3 choice system wasn’t going to work with Rylin.  I’d offer the choices and she’d have an immediate meltdown demanding something specific from her closet.  I tried very hard to stick to my guns on this one.  I was NOT going to let a two year old rule the roost.  The harder I dug my heels in, the bigger the meltdowns became.  Clearly, met my match.  There were many days, I had to leave the room exasperated.  I maintained the Love and Logic technique if the child doesn’t make a choice within 10-15 seconds, the parent chooses.  It was awful.  I’d wrangle her squirmy, angry self into an outfit of my choosing and she’d sulk scream like a banshee for the next hour.  After repeating this process many times, George started taking over.  He’d go in, remove my options and let her have full reign of the closet.  Oh the little spunky one had a blast with Daddy’s method.  She was elated, but this wasn’t a good solution to the problem.  I felt that it undermined the boundaries I set and gave her opportunities to choose inappropriate clothing (e.g. wrong season, formal attire, ect).  After I had time to reconsider, I came up with a new plan.

Instead of offering just 2-3 choices, I designated areas within the girls closet and let Rylin mix and match her outfit independently.  Since the girls don’t wear the same size, their closet is divided into quadrants: 1. top left is Sydney’s dressy clothes 2. top right is Rylin’s dressy clothes 3. bottom left is Sydney’s play clothes 4. bottom right is Rylin’s play clothes.

shared closet for two girls

When it’s time for Rylin to choose an outfit, she starts by picking a shirt from her play clothes rack that she can reach.  (Her dressy clothes are strategically placed out of reach so she’s less likely to try choosing one.  I also removed summer clothes).  Next, she goes to her drawer and chooses a pair of pants, which she almost always pairs with a tutu.  Most of the time I cringe at her fashion sense, but who am I to decide what goes together?  As long as her clothes are appropriate for the situation and weather I do not interfere.  She is still given boundaries, but also freedom to choose for herself.  I feel it is important for kids, even toddlers to have opportunities to feel empowered.  Clothing can be that type of opportunity for Rylin.

On occasion, after getting dressed, Rylin proclaims, “This isn’t working”.  If this is the case, she is allowed to change once.  I get it, sometimes things just don’t work together, don’t fit anymore, or don’t feel comfortable.  George can attest to the fact that I do the same thing….I try on various pairings before finalizing an outfit 95% of the time.

the inside of the girls dresser is labled designating whose clothes are whose

Behold a signature Rylin outfit complete with mismatched patterns, colors, and textures accessorized with high top converse and a crimson tutu.  She is undeniably pleased with her own clothing choices and we have significantly fewer meltdowns.  Should you see Rylin in her quirky attire, grin at her and know it was her choice.  Plus, she’s so proud of herself!

Please, don't judge my mom...I dress MYSELF.

The only thing I have left to do, is fill babysitters in on the clothing boundaries for Rylin….she hoodwinked several into letting her choose formal attire.  Once she convinced our friends to let her change from her original outfit into Sydney’s keepsake dress from our family photos.  (I since learned to store keepsakes a little better so she doesn’t even consider them.)

toddler chosen outfit

Though Rylin’s strong will can be a parenting challenge, George and I see her many strengths and know it’s evidence her future is bright. This girl is destined to do something great.

What did you do as a child that challenged your parents?

hugs!

Amber

The Great Escape

Much to my dismay, it happened the last week…Sydney escaped from her crib.  When I opened the door of the girls room, I discovered her wandering around with a confused expression as she repeated, “I bump my head…”  I was momentarily befuddled as I began to process the scene.  My two-year old was not in her crib.  She escaped.  How I’ll never know.

Albeit unrealistic, I hoped to keep everyone contained in cribs until three, and then they would magically transition to toddler beds without any mischief whatsoever.  When I broke the news to George he replied, “It looks like I’ll be converting their cribs tonight.”  What???  I was NOT ready for this.  I feared the ramifications of toddlers free to wander in the night.  I thought naps were a thing of the past.  We’ve seen plenty of America’s Funniest video clips of twins shimmying out of bed then wreaking havoc on the house.  No thanks.

Yet, I knew George was right.  Since Sydney knew she could climb out of bed, and Rylin witnessed it, it could reoccur.  If she climbed out again, she could be injured further.  When we purchased cribs, we carefully selected convertible cribs allowing us to keep our cribs as toddler beds.  This was good thing since we weren’t expecting to make the transition.

toddler bed transtion with twin girls

The night after the great escape, George pulled out his drill and removed the front of the girls cribs, creating toddler day beds.  Once the front was off Rylin’s bed, Harper clamored up and began jumping wildly.  Rylin immediately waved a finger as she proclaimed, “NO MORE MONKEYS JUMPING ON THE BED!”  Oh boy.  I had to conceal my face and stifle laughter.  George managed to convert both cribs relatively quickly as I ushered the boys into their own rooms.  Since toddler beds weren’t part of our plan just yet, we didn’t have bed rails.  We improvised using duct taped pool noodles to the mattresses.

duct tape a pool noodle to the mattress of a toddler bed to help prevent your child from rolling out
Once we put the mattress cover and sheets over the pool noodle, there was a soft surface with a nice raised edge to the bed.  It’s small enough the girls can easily climb into bed, but raised enough to help nudge them back should they begin to roll.

toddler bed transtion

toddler bed transtion toddler bed transtion

Thankfully toddler proofed the kids bedrooms months ago (anticipating the day would arrive).  We covered all outlets, removed door stops, cut blind cords, secured dressers to the wall, mounted video monitors and secured cords, latched the closet doors, and used packing tape to secure the door knob.  We were armed!  Aside from a small basket of books, there were no accessible toys.

After the girls beds were ready, we spent time talking about how big they were and admiring their beds.  Both girls beamed at this rite of passage.  Then the rules were laid out clearly 1. They were only allowed to get out of bed to switch books from the basket (they’ve been sleeping with books for months and recently began tossing books to each other for trades) 2. They were to stay in their room 3. If they needed something they could call for us, but not yell.  They nodded in understanding.  With established boundaries, our bedtime routine proceeded as usual.  Multiple bedtime stories were read as the ocean beckoned from sound machines.  When the final story came to an end, we tucked each girl into her bed with their familiar bedding, favorite animals, crib soothers, and pillows.  Together we said bedtime prayers and gave goodnight kisses.  It seemed to be going quite well.

A basket of books has always been part of the girls room.  They seem to relax from "reading" before bed, much like me.

A basket of books has always been part of the girls room. They seem to relax from “reading” before bed, much like me.

toddler bed transtion

Both girls sleep with Build a Bears from the NICU, and they both named their bear, “Mom Bear”.  It’s a nice homage to mom, haha.

toddler bed transtion

In addition to Mom Bear, both girls sleep with a dream lites pet, which casts stars on the ceiling as they fall asleep. They are really enjoying their dream lights since fear of darkness has surfaced.

When George and I thought Rylin and Sydney were settled we retreated to the den with our baby monitor in hand.  For a few minutes, the girls took full advantage of their new-found freedom by getting in and out of bed to get new books.  However, it wasn’t long before both girls drifted off to sleep in bed.  Much to my surprise, it was extremely smooth.  Until fevers spiked.  A hitch free transition was a bit too good to be true.  For the next 5-6 nights we found ourselves summoned to the bedside of two sick little girls through the night.  Everyone was miserable and sleep was elusive.  It was rough.

Thankfully once everyone was on the mend, toddler beds proved much more successful.  With the girls back to themselves, they are sleeping through the night most of the time and go to bed without much trouble.  When they wake up, they happily chatter to each other or pursue books just like in the days of cribs.  I’ve spied one or both girls sleeping on the rug a few times (usually with a pillow and blanket), but it’s not a big deal.  As long as they are sleeping well and comfortable, I really can’t complain. As nap time approaches, they often climb into bed independently and say they are tired.  Some days they spend more time than I’d prefer chitchatting or reading, but they remain quiet and don’t disturb the boys, which works.

Despite the girls success in toddler beds, I’m reluctant for the boys to make the transition.  They’ve been rather rowdy in the girls beds already.  I can only hope the novelty of toddler beds will wear off as they visit their sisters toddler beds.  In other news, it looks as though potty training is on the horizon, and it’s another major transition this mama is not ready to tackle.

hugs!

Amber

P. S. This is a fun little clip of the girls pointing out where the cameras are located in their rooms.  While I want them in their beds, obviously, it’s fun watching them interact with each other.

High Tea

The past week was drizzly cold one and we had four sick toddlers held hostage in the house.  Whining reached epic proportions (not just the kids…parents included).  Desperate to change the pace without actually leaving, I set up high tea for lunch one day.  The quads received a lovely ceramic tea set from Aunt CiC this Christmas and this was just the occassion.  She scored the set at a local Asian market for $1 per piece, which was a brilliant idea because I know it’s food safe and we can add pieces later if needed.

While the quads watched an episode of Sesame Street, I prepped a meal fit for tea.  I created a spread of peanut butter and honey sandwiches, sliced strawberries, and veggie straws.  I also made a small kettle of lemon honey decaf tea (the best stuff for scratchy, sore throats!).  For new scenery, I set the kid-sized table in the playroom with all the needed accoutrements for tea.  Although the tea set was inexpensive, I was admittedly nervous someone might decide to chuck a dish or two; eating at the kid table would mean a shorter distance to the floor.

toddler tea party: lemon honey decaf tea, pb & j sandwiches, strawberries, veggie straws

When the kids are sick, throw a tea party for lunch and be sure to serve lemon honey tea!

Once Sesame Street wrapped up, I invited the quads to join me for high tea.  I explained that we were using our special tea set from Aunt CiCi and it could break if anyone did not respect it.  I emphasized that all dishes were to stay on the table and needed delicate care.   Eight doe brown eyes stared into mine as they nodded in agreement.  I still wasn’t sure how this would go.

Teatime proved magical!  All four cheerily noshed on their meal while politely sipping tea.  Not an hour before they were wallowing in misery, tears, and snot.  Teatime also turned into a great opportunity to practice manners.  Since I poured only a sip or two worth of tea into the cups so they had to request more by saying, “more tea please”.

toddler tea party

My low appetite kids managed to scarf three peanut butter sandwiches, a pint of berries, and several handfuls of veggie straws, all washed down with four cups of tea.   Getting sick kids to eat is a win in it’s own right!  Our impromptu tea party went so swimmingly that we held another today, and it went equally well.  I think tea parties may become part of our TLC routine when everyone is sick.  It certainly brightened everyone’s glum spirits.

toddler tea party

toddler tea party

toddler tea party

As an added bonus, tea cups were great open cup practice.  Everyone did very well sipping, and not one drop of tea touched the floor.  Only two of the four dribbled onto their clothing, but it was minimal.

toddler tea party

 

What is your favorite way to nurse a cold?  I used to love it when my mom made buttery baked potatoes with iced Sprite.

hugs!

 

Amber

Ornaments Up, Ornaments Down

This year marked our first time hosting Christmas with my extended family. With four two-year olds in the house, we knew decorating for Christmas would pose a slight challenge, but we were up for it. Last year, we put our tree up on a sturdy table, and for the most part ornaments were out of reach.  It worked beautifully.  This year, everyone grew enough that they could reach ornaments even if the tree was raised, and I feared they would tip it over. I refused to put the tree in a room where it would be unseen or to put gates around it. We don’t have the right kind of gates and I was unwilling to make the investment for a short season. Also, I figured someone would tip the gate or scale it anyways. Instead, we decorated the tree with shatter proof ornaments and deco mesh. It really looked beautiful despite being a “kid tree”. I also thought it would be a good opportunity to teach self-restraint and respect. After the tree was up, we taught the quads how to carefully touch ornaments with one finger. They were pretty good about it and usually followed the rule. While the tree was up, the quads took turns snatching ornaments when no one was looking. In those instances, we instructed them to put the ornaments back on the tree. Getting them to replace pulled ornaments proved a lesson in patience and acceptance for me. Though we used shatterproof ornaments, a few perished and some needed hot glue.  Aside from the tree, decorations in quad approved areas only included the mantle and nativity.  That was all I could handle.

Teaching the quads to respect the tree was a monumental task so presents were stored in the study.  We tucked gifts around the tree on Christmas Eve while visions of sugar plums danced in the quad’s heads. When Christmas arrived, our tree albeit rearranged many times over, was still intact and standing proudly.  Whew!

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Although our tree wasn’t glistening with our favorite blown glass ornaments, I found a place in the dining room for a few heirlooms I wanted to enjoy.

Decorate a chandelier with garland and ornaments

To accommodate a family of 16 adults and 7 children, we moved the high chairs out of the kitchen, and dined with the quads in the play room. This left better dining accommodations for our guests.

"kiddie table"

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Although our living room is small, we managed to cram the entire crew in for gift exchanges.  The panorama feature on my phone almost captured everyone.  I simply couldn’t move fast enough while being steady to get all 23 of us.

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Keeping tabs on everyone during gift opening commanded my full attention so there’s only one photo from the charades:

Minnie Mouse necklaces handmade by Etsy shop, Texas Take

The girls were ecstatic when they opened these Minnie Mouse necklaces handmade by my quad mama friend, Amber. She has an Etsy Shop at Texas Take where similar necklaces are sold.

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We did, manage to snap one photo with my parents, sister, and her boyfriend (Matt).

watermarked Christmas 2014

We typically keep our Christmas tree and decorations up until New Year’s Day.  It’s so much work putting them out, we like to enjoy them for the full month.  This year, I had enough with teaching the quads respect of the Christmas tree and had everything packed up two days after Christmas.  In fact, the quads were so talented at ornament removal, they were charged with the task of taking ornaments down for the year.  They really enjoyed this “chore” above all others they’ve been given.

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I hope your holiday season was a wonderful one and that 2015 brings you peace, hope, and joy!

hugs!

Amber

The Reason for the Season

When my parents first got married, Mom worked at a Hallmark store.  While she worked there, she bought a small nativity set, which she used every Christmas while we were growing up.  When my sister and I were little, we had a grandiose Barbie Dream house, but Barbie found her home empty at Christmas.  At the time Mattel did not manufacture families for Barbie.  I think it was just Barbie, Ken, and Skipper.  At Christmastime we would take Baby Jesus from the nativity and he would serve as Barbie’s baby.   I guess he was sort of a foster child staying with Barbie and Ken for the month of December.  He did a beautiful job as Barbie’s baby and we generally got him back into his manger before Christmas.  However, at some point with all of our shenanigans, he went missing.  Of course, you can’t have a nativity without Baby Jesus so my mom removed the wings from the little cherub who resembled Baby Jesus and put him in the manger instead.  The cherub sort of looked like Baby Jesus, but he didn’t fit quite right in the manger and looked awkward.  Mom used the nativity with the cherub sitting in for Baby Jesus for years; I think always complaining about how we lost Baby Jesus.

One year Mom found a gorgeous jewel-toned nativity set at Bombay and Company and decided she didn’t need her incomplete nativity anymore.   By then I was in college and had my first apartment.  Mom gave me her old nativity since I didn’t have one, and I happily accepted it.   I soon discovered that Mom’s vintage nativity was actually a Fontanini set from Italy and they continued to make pieces for it.  I found a replacement Baby Jesus in a department store and added him to the nativity.  This new figurine was a Baby Jesus, but with his newness he didn’t fit in with the old nativity set quite right either.

When Dad was putting the Christmas decorations back into the attic that year, he saw something tiny glimmering between two rafters.  He shined a flashlight on the tiny object and discovered it was the original Baby Jesus.  As it turned out, we had not lost Baby Jesus after all.  He was in our house all along and right over head for all those years. I like to tell this story at this time of year because it is a reminder that He never leaves us alone even when we feel forgotten or forsaken.  It is also a message that I kept close to my heart during our struggles with infertility, and still do as we take on the everyday challenges of raising quadruplets.

Fontanini nativity set

This December has been joy filled with the quads learning about Christmas traditions and celebrating the season.  They’ve learned Christmas carols, watched holiday movies, and visited Santa.  We’ve crafted all sorts of festive decorations from gingerbread men to reindeer.  If you’ve been following us on Facebook or Twitter, you may have seen Bop’s (our scout elf) various locations in our house.

All of those secular traditions are fun, but we haven’t let them overshadow the true reason for the season.  This year, we spent time reading toddler books about the first Christmas and showed the quads our Fontanini nativity set.  They’ve rearranged the nativity a few times, but have been good about leaving it on the burlap, which helps me keep tabs on Baby Jesus.

toddler nativity books

Fontani nativity

It was Harper’s idea to move the kitchen footstool to the den so he could get a better view of the nativity.  I thought it was clever, and I’ve been proud of his self-restraint in looking at the nativity.  Sometimes two of the quads will share the stool and look at the nativity together.

toddlers looking at nativity

Fontanini nativity

Since I’m not exactly encouraging the quads to play with our family nativity, I was happy when I found a Melissa & Doug toddler’s nativity set.  This one is wooden and durable so they can manipulate and arrange as they like.

Melissa & Doug toddler nativity

Despite making several Christmas crafts, I kept coming up short when it came to an age-appropriate nativity craft until my friend, Amber shared hers last week.  (Don’t forget to stop by her blog, Texas Tales for a more detailed description of the craft and other toddler nativity books).  It’s very simple and ideal for toddlers.  I printed Baby Jesus coloring pages and let the quads color them.  Then, I dotted glue onto the manger and asked the quads to place snips of rafia over the dots.  For a special touch, we also glued a star on the top of the page.

toddler nativity craft

May you find love, peace, and hope this year.  Merry Christmas!

Hugs,

Amber

 

Quaddler Approved! {Casdon Toy Dyson Vacuum Review}

When choosing toys for the quads, my favorites inspire imaginative play, problem solving, and creativity.  Consequently, I was pleased when they received a Dust, Sweep and Mop set from a friend for their second birthday.  At first, they seemed to think this toy was best suited for swashbuckling so I safely tucked it away, and temporarily forgot about it.  A couple of weeks ago, I rediscovered this toy and demonstrated how to use it.  In fact, the crew happily “helped” me tidy up for a party we were hosting.  Later in the week, my heart exploded with joy when Mason independently pulled all of the chairs from our kitchen table to sweep the crumbs below.  This particular not only inspired imaginative play, it encouraged chore completion, a major win in my book!

Melissa & Doug Broom

Melissa & Doug Broom

I was delighted when Casdon’s Toy Dyson Ball Vacuum arrived for the quads to test drive since it is exactly the type of toy I prefer.  It encourages imaginative play while also helping the quads learn a valuable life skill.  I planned to surprise the quads with it after bath time, but they spied it prematurely and squealed “It’s a vacuum!!!”  I couldn’t squelch their desire to clean so we immediately opened the box and loaded the batteries.  It only took about a minute to assemble and load the batteries, which was good because the quads were chomping at the bit.  The biggest problem?  There was one vacuum and four eager toddlers awaiting a turn.  Toddlers are notoriously impatient, especially with new toys, but everyone got a turn before bath.

Casdon Toy Dyson Ball Vacuum

Seriously, who can resist this face? He was ecstatic about a vacuum

The quads easily learned to operate switches and didn’t mind the realistic sounds. Thankfully, the toy is much quieter than my Dyson because when they hear me vacuuming, they cover their ears and whine.  In addition to a colorful spinning cyclone, it also provides real suction from the base, which can pick up small bits of debris and dust. (Don’t get too excited though…remember, it’s just a toy so it won’t replace your vacuum.)  The quads are a little young for to operate the removable dustbin independently, but they will learn in time.  They did, however, try to remove the clear container on the front since that’s how I unload the dust from our actual Dyson.  Toddlers really watch every single thing we do, which is good reason to model what we desire for them.  The quads didn’t seem to notice, but I appreciated the gender neutral color since our boys and girls will be playing with this toy.

Casdon Toy Dyson Ball Vacuum

Though the age range suggested on the box is three to eight, I think kids about 2.5 to 5 or 6 would be better suited for this toy.  My kids aren’t quite three and adore it, and I suspect most eight year olds would find it a bit immature (or too small) for them.  In fact, I’d be inclined to teach an eight year old how to operate our real Dyson as part of a chore chart.  If you’re looking for a last-minute gift for a toddler or preschooler this year, consider the Casdon Toy Dyson, it’s quaddler approved!

Casdon Toy Dyson Ball Vacuum

hugs!

Amber

Disclaimer: I would like extend a special thanks Casdon for providing a Toy Dyson Ball Vacuum for us to try for the purpose of review.  No other compensation was received, and all thoughts/ opinions are 100% my own. 

I have provided Amazon affiliate links should you choose to make purchases via Four to Adore.  Please visit my disclaimer page for further information regarding affiliate links. 

Dad’s DIY {Up-cycled Bulletin Boards}

My wife loves doing art projects with the kids, and even more displaying them. At our old house, we created a simple children’s art display using open frames with clothes pins and ribbon. It worked relatively well in the old space. When we moved to the new house, the art display came along. Because the kids started creating a lot more art, Amber added a few more frames to the art gallery wall. After a while, the frames became overly crowded and cluttered looking. Also, they were crooked on the wall most of the time. Of course eight little hands also rearranged the frames frequently.  It bothered me. I had an idea to streamline the gallery and give each child a designated place for their own work.

Here’s how the art gallery wall looked with open frames.

Children's Art Display using empty picture frames

To create our new display, I began with the following materials:

  • 4 x 8′ plywood sheet, cut into four equal size boards (the hardware store will cut the boards to size)
  • packet of wall hanging brackets
  • roll of batting
  • 3 yards of fabric
  • 2 packages of wood trim
  • painter’s caulk
  • liquid nails
  • 1 large foam floor puzzle (we up cycled a few that we used when the quads were crawling, they were well loved and gnawed so not good to pass down)
  • staple gun with staples and brads

This is the step by step process:

DIY Bulletin board

Lay out all boards on a flat surface

DIY Bulletin board

Draw a line 8″ down from the top on each board (This is the BACK).  You will use this line later to place hanging brackets.

DIY Bulletin board

Flip each board over and draw lines 2″ in from all sides so you have a rectangle drawn(This is the FRONT).  This will show you where to place foam and trim.

 

DIY Bulletin board

Lay interlocked puzzle pieces on each board. Then, use scissors to cut them to fit into the rectangle drawn on each board.  Finally, use liquid nails to adhere puzzle pieces to each board.  Allow to cure overnight.

DIY Bulletin board

Cut batting to fit over puzzle pieces and secure with a staple gun.  This step ensures that surface is smooth.

DIY Bulletin board

Cut fabric to fit over batting then secure with a staple gun.

DIY Bulletin board

Miter cut trim at 45 degree angles and secure to board with brad nails.

DIY Bulletin board

Once all trim pieces are attached, each board should look like this.

DIY Bulletin board

Using a nail set and hammer, push nail heads into the trim.

DIY Bulletin board

Flip each board over and attach hanging brackets to the backside. Use the previously drawn line as a guide for placement.

Use painter’s caulk on the front side to cover nail heads and fill gaps at the joints.  Finally, use one coat of paint to hide imperfections in the trim.  Enjoy displaying artwork!

It cost about $25 per board to make, and I’m really pleased with the result.

DIY bulletin board display using up-cycled foam puzzles

DIY bulletin board display using up-cycled foam puzzles

George

Annual Sit with Santa

When the quads were infants, we were on lock down due to their premature immune systems.  Although I wanted them to have keepsake pictures with Santa, it wasn’t worth the risk of taking them out in public.  Even lock down couldn’t keep Santa away from the babies.  He surprised us with a visit and we captured some adorable keepsake pictures.

Santa watching over sleeping babies

Last year, we were still hesitant to take them to wait in long lines and still had lingering fears of germs.  Santa was kind enough to drop by our house for a second visit.

Santa

I think we’ll always worry a little about germs (the mere thought of FOUR sick kids is horrible), but we are letting go of them to experience the world.  This evening they had an opportunity to visit with Santa at our mothers of multiples Christmas party.  I’ve seen the classic kids wailing on Santa’s lap pictures, and wondered what the quads would do this year.  They didn’t grin for the camera, but not one tear was shed.  They treated Santa just like everyone else we meet.

Santa

Santa wasn’t satisfied with just visiting the children, and insisted Mom and Dad have a chat too.

family picture with Santa

 

Hugs,

 

Amber