Tried and True Morning Routine

According to Facebook lots of kiddos started school today, but my crew starts in two weeks.  We’re trying to soak up the last bits of summer here, but I’m also gradually preparing the kids to return to our school routine.  Last year when they started kindergarten it was imperative for us to have a solid routine that would help get them to school before the 7:40 am tardy bell.  George leaves for work at 6:30 am so it is my responsibility to make sure everyone is ready and at school on time.   This is a tall order, but we managed with a few tricks.

We start by prepping as much as we can the night before:

  • check the weather then choose clothes and lay them out
  • pack lunches and store in the fridge
  • put folders, books, etc. into backpacks
  • set the table for breakfast

Getting to bed on time is another critical part of the morning routine.  We try very hard for the kids to get at least 10 hours of sleep (see American Academy of Pediatrics Sleep Guidelines.  Sleep is important not only for helping everyone wake up chipper in the morning, but also for optimum learning and behavior throughout the day.  When the kids aren’t in bed on time, they go crazy-hyper-nuts and have a hard time falling asleep.  The next day, they are cranky, short fused and difficult, which I do not want teachers to experience.

As part of our sleep routine, we start dimming lights and shutting curtains shortly after dinner.  We also transition to quieter activities such as coloring, puzzles, or reading.  There is no screen time two hours prior to bedtime because screens stimulate them and discourage sleep.  We wrap up with pajamas, brushing teeth, and then reading a bedtime story before lights are out.  Long summer days put a monkey wrench in our early bedtime routine, but we are working on getting in back in order for school.

Even with a good night’s rest, the girls are slow to rise in the morning, especially when it’s still dark outside.  We started using a sunrise alarm clock“>sunrise alarm clock, which simulates the sunrise in the girls’ room.  A soft light shines thirty minutes before the alarm is set to sound and it gradually brightens.  Pachelbel’s Cannon in D begins to play when it’s time to wake.  This helped tremendously!  I started setting their alarm clock a few weeks back to get them used to waking up early and getting ready.

To foster independence with getting ready (and to free up precious time for myself), we use a simple visual checklist.  It identifies things I expect for the kids to do mostly by themselves.  I make sure everyone is awake and then prompt the kids to “check the list”.  As they complete tasks, they move a color coded magnetic push pin into the box showing it’s done.   If I notice someone is dawdling, I remind them, “check the list”.  As an incentive for kids to get ready quickly, if there is spare time, they can use their Kindle to read or play a game until we leave.


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I laminated the checklist and hung it on the side of our refrigerator where the kids can easily reach it.

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Once everyone is ready, we have the challenge of loading the car and buckling all of the five point harnesses.  At the start of kindergarten, the kids could not fully buckle or unbuckle their seats, which meant extra steps for me.  OYE!  As the year progressed, they began practicing buckling and unbuckling their seats and by the end they could manage them.  Hooray!  If you have a new kindergartener, I highly recommend practicing this handy skill.

Do you have any hacks for getting kids to school on time?

Hugs!

Amber

Must Haves for Back to School

As far as consumable school supplies, I have it relatively easy.  The kids’ school sells classroom supply kits, which I order online and have delivered directly to the classrooms.  The supply packs aren’t overpriced and it saves me the hassle of searching all over town for specific items like red pocket folders with brads.  However, in addition to school supplies, last year we invested in well made personal supplies.  Everything I bought last summer for kindergarten lasted all year and will be used for first grade if not longer.  If you’re on the hunt for school supplies, check out our list:

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  1. Pottery Barn Fairfax Back Pack & Lunch Bag

During a 60% off sale, I snagged each child a Fairfax backpack and lunch bag for about $30, which rivaled even Target’s prices.  Pottery Barn is currently running the same sale with different patterns.  I ordered the kids size small backpacks and they were big enough for  their daily folder, library books, and lunch bags to fit inside.  Anything bigger would’ve been too large for their tiny bodies.  Mid way through the year, I learned that both backpacks and lunch bags are machine washable and they came out of the wash looking new.

2. Ty Clip on Mini Beanie Baby

The kids loved choosing their own mini beanie baby to clip onto their backpacks to personalize them.  These are all the rage in elementary school!  Throughout the year, the kids collected a few more of these little cuties.

3. Easy Lunchboxes, 3 compartment container

While the kids thought it was really cool to buy tray lunches, and it was sure easy, it was also costly for us.  I packed lunches most of the time and found easy lunchboxes were perfect for dividing food, not wasting baggies, and for the kids to quickly/ easily open during their short lunch break.  Silicone baking cups helped further divide the larger compartment, and made everything look festive.

4. Thermos Funtainer water bottle and food jar

It’s H-O-T in Texas most of the year, especially when school starts in August.  I knew our old favorite Contigo water bottles wouldn’t keep water cold so I replaced them with Thermos stainless steel water bottles.  The kids were allowed to keep them in the classroom for hydration and refill from the water fountain, which was great.  They kept ice cold during the school day and were sturdy.  A few times, the kids chewed the silicone straw too much, but I was able to easily replace them.  The kids also liked an occasional hot lunch (e.g. macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, fried rice) in the Thermos food jar.

5. Bentgo Ice Packs

To keep lunches cold, we used Bentgo ice packs, which fit right under the easy lunchboxes.  These were still cool even at dismissal.

6. Mabel’s Labels Mabel’s Labels

Before the kids were born, I ordered each of them a set of skinny labels from Mabel’s labels to keep bottles sorted.  Guess what-  We still have them!  These labels were perfect for labeling water bottles, lunchboxes, containers, etc. as they are waterproof, dishwasher, and microwave safe.  The kids’ school has a massive lost and found, which is often stocked with Thermos water bottles among other items.  If students or parents don’t find their own things, the student council returns labeled items to classrooms at the end of every six weeks (cool service project!!)

 

Happy back to school shopping!

 

Amber

 

I Sent Five Year Olds to Kindergarten

It’s mid-July and as much as I hate to admit it….back to school is just around the corner.  Swimsuits and  beach toys are being marked down while school supplies and uniforms are filling the shelves at Target and Walmart.  For many families it’ll be the first time sending kids off to kindergarten.  Last summer, that was us.  The kids were turning five in July and  were already registered for kindergarten.  I had done my best to prepare them for school, was familiar with research, and had 12 years of experience practicing school psychology in public schools.  They were going to kindergarten.  Yet, I questioned my once certain decision to send the kids to kindergarten at five instead of waiting another year.  Many people assumed with the summer birthday I’d hold the kids back.  I kept hearing friends, neighbors, and acquaintances on the internet saying they kept their summer birthday kids home until they were six.  I didn’t realize that there was such a debate about whether to send kids to kindergarten at five or six years old, but it is apparently a thing.  I began to wonder, “WHO sends a five year old to school?!?!” and started seriously questioning myself, and then worrying and maybe panicking a little.  It wasn’t good, ya’ll.

I worried that no matter how much we prepared, they’d be too little.  After all, they barely made it on the growth charts and still wore toddler sized clothes.  I worried that there wouldn’t be any other kids who were barely five in their class.  Most of all, I worried that they’d struggle and fail at life because I sent them to school at five instead of six.  Again, I thought, “WHO sends a five year old to school?!?!”  Nonetheless, I stood by my instinct and the kids started kindergarten in August.

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They were itty bitty kindergarteners. See that red mark on Rylin’s red check? It was a huge mommy kiss.

A year later, I do not regret my decision.  Yes, the kids were small compared to their peers.  Some kids towered over them by at least five or six inches.  There were kids in their class that turned seven, but guess what?!?!  These six and seven year olds didn’t bully my babies or run circles around them academically.  They were simply older peers in the class.  Not such a big deal as I anticipated.  I was also pleasantly surprised at how many other young five kindergarteners were in the kids classes, and how many other petite kids were at school.  It was reassuring knowing mine weren’t the lone five year olds in kindergarten.

In the end, the kids learned how to function in a classroom, the school rules, respect of school staff,  navigate a large building, be independent, make friends, to read and write, count to 100, and so much more.  They finished kindergarten loving school and their teachers.  Of course they had rough patches, tears and failures, but that’s part of life isn’t it?  Kids have to experience the bitter taste of defeat to persevere and to one day become independent adults and good humans.  So, mamas of summer babies who will start kindergarten at five, I know it’s hard, but it will be okay!  You’ll both learn and grow so much this year.  Trust your gut, and have fun buying school supplies and clothes.   If you’re five year old is staying home another year, that’s okay too!  You do you.  🙂

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These four were so sad to say good bye to their beloved kindergarten teachers.  Rylin is really hoping she’s in the first grade class adjacent to her old kindergarten teacher’s room.

 

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I’m most proud of the kids’ behavior at school.  I was concerned about a few of them before they started, but school staff was nothing but complimentary about them.  One day all four kids earned a “blue” meaning their behavior was exceptionally good!

 

hugs,

 

Amber

 

P. S. Stay tuned for a list of our favorite school supplies.

One Massive Challenge

As a mom of quadruplets, I’m accustomed to questions from curious a passersby, friends, and co workers.  I think I’ve heard or  been asked *almost everything.  Many people marvel at the amazing aspects of having quads, “One and done!” and “They always have a friend”.  This is all true!  Parenting quadruplets is wonderful, and we enjoy these perks.  Most people also anticipate the obvious challenges inherent with raising quads: what it was like caring for four infants, diapering four infants, the expenses, etc.  These all challenges we face, but there really is one massive challenge we face: being first time parents to four children at the same time.  There is no learning curve for us, we have to figure everything out for four children simultaneously.  For us, the first time is also our last time.  With each stage, we learn new things, conquering new challenges, and feeling confident in our parenting skills.  But, almost as soon as we figure it out, that stage is gone.  Just. Like. That.

Tomorrow these sweet babies will graduate from kindergarten and this phase too is gone.  I’m oh so proud of these once itty bitty preemies who can now read, write, and count to 100, but it is bittersweet indeed.   Please excuse me while I ugly cry.

Way to go, Rylin, Harper, Sydney, and Mason!

 

©FourtoAdore

 

 

 

 

 

A Quick Konmari How-To

I am obsessed with organization.  Scroll through my Pinterest account and you’ll find hundreds of organization hacks and clever storage ideas.  I’ve been organizing (and reorganizing) my belongings since I was a child.  Over the years, I always went about it in the same way: go area by area (e.g. closet, cabinet, room), take everything out, chuck what you don’t want, then put it back in a more organized way.  It tended to work in the short term, but wasn’t ever really effective.  This was frustrating.

The Konmari method is different from my previous ways of organizing (and any other method I’ve ever seen).   It’s NOT just another decluttering method or quick fix to be completed in a weekend, 30 days, or any set amount of time.  Rather it’s a shift in thinking you develop.  Yes, it takes a lot of time and effort, but I assure you it’s worthwhile once you commit.  It has been life-changing for our family.  Seriously, when I come home from work, it looks like a maid tidied up except we don’t have a maid.  We leave our house regularly by 7:20 am with our things (mostly) in order.  It is a breath of fresh air! If you’re serious about shifting your mindset and want to tackle your home, Konmari style, you’ll get your hands on her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

If you want a preview, or just need a quick tutorial to get you started, keep reading:

  1. Determine what you DO want

Instead of focusing on what you don’t want, Konmari suggests focusing on what “sparks joy”.  In other words, keep what you love!  She places a lot of emphasis on touching items to decide whether they “spark joy” and honing your instinct to choose.  When you really touch and examine your possessions you start viewing then differently.  Only when you know what you do want can you discard (e.g. literally throw away, donate, or gift) unwanted items.

2. Go in order!

Rather than tackling items by location, Konmari is strict about going in order: clothes, books, papers, komono (pretty much anything else, which I sorted into smaller categories such as personal care items, cleaning supplies, kitchen, toys, sporting goods, and outdoor toys/ tools), and sentimental items.  The order seems arbitrary, but it is quite important.  You start with items that are easiest to discern whether they spark joy and finish with the most difficult because you develop the skill.

When you begin a category, it is imperative that you take ALL items of the category and pile them up together, especially if they are stored in several areas.  This allows you to see EVERYTHING in the category.  Yes, it’s daunting, ya’ll.  When you make a massive pile of stuff it is totally overwhelming and you’ll want to bail.  Don’t.  This is part of the process, and only when you go through it this way can you take stock in what you own to decide what you really want.

This was just ONE box of clothes stored under my bed…the actual pile of clothes from my closets, dresser, and under bed was enormous.  I don’t have a picture of it, I think partially because I was getting engrossed in the process, but also partially out of shame.  There were clothes in my house that went to college with me!

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I mean, when you start pulling all of your clothes out…the excess becomes embarrassingly apparent.  We found gems among our things, which were begging to find new homes.

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I thought “books” as a category seemed trite, until I actually started piling our books together.  We love literacy and reading, especially with the children, but I had no idea we were book hoarders!

“Remember you are not choosing what to discard but rather what to keep.  Keep only those things that bring you joy.” -Marie Kondo

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These books were from the shelf in the playroom.  Children’s books also lined shelves in our upstairs den and each of the kids’ rooms.  In addition to children’s books, we had a personal library of our own adult fiction and non fiction books.  Once I identified our most treasured books, we amassed TWELVE large reusable grocery sized bags stuffed with books, which I donated to our local library.  When I heaved these bags in, the librarian was confused and asked if I was returning materials.  When I explained that I was making a donation, she was awestruck.  What’s even crazier, is that if you toured my house you’d have no idea a single book was gone.  We still have plenty of books to line our shelves and entertain our family.  The difference is that we can easily locate certain books and treasure our stash.

3. Put Everything Away

Once you’ve chosen all the items that bring joy, it’s time to put them away- in their category.  If you start storing things all over your home again, you’ll rebound without a doubt because you’ll never know what you have.  It’s important to store things so you can see them, and they look attractive to you and it’s easy for you to maintain.  Before Konmari, we were infamous for packing closets and cabinets so full that we’d have to empty them to get to items in the back.  We likened it to a game of Tetris.  What a waste of time and energy!  I found the illustrations in Spark Joy extremely helpful for this phase in the process.

Before you put away any clothes, please watch Konmari folding clothes and learn from the master.

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I thought I knew how to fold clothes, and when I first watched her folding I thought it seemed 1. impossible 2. ridiculous.  Then I tried it.  After some sloppy work, I mastered her technique and stored my clothes using it.  Afterwards, I marveled at how much space it created, and how easy it was to find things.  When I folded my pajamas according  to this method, I emptied an entire drawer, which now houses things that used to litter my nightstand (e.g. books, sleep mask, and journals).  The beautiful wood of my nightstand now shines in it’s glory, and it gets dusted regularly because it’s not covered in stuff.  If you fail to fully implement the Konmari method, please do yourself a favor and learn how to properly fold and store clothes (even if you *think you know how already).  I promise, you are worth it.

Check out this beauty and it’s contents:

Sorry to disappoint, but I don’t have a real “before” picture.  In fact, I’ve gotten pretty new lamps and a new alarm clock since I tackled my night stand.  Please settle for this staged version so you can see how I used to clutter my nightstand.

Fake before:

“If you don’t change your way of thinking, you’ll rebound.” – Marie Kondo

Those of you who are beginning the process of Konmari, good luck- you can do it!

hugs,

Amber

How I Began the Konmari Journey

After Christmas, and before the New Year, I typically start feeling overwhelmed and anxious. Why?!?!? STUFF.   There’s so. much. stuff.  At that point, we still have Christmas décor up and we’ve received lovely gifts.  Although I enjoy Christmas décor and appreciate receiving gifts, it all just becomes too much.  I start feeling weighed down and claustrophobic.

Last year, I went on a purging rampage thanks to a 30-day declutter challenge I was following.   According to this particular challenge we didn’t need much stuff and should get things down to a bare minimum.  I ravaged through the house room by room, as the challenge prescribed, sacking things for Goodwill donations.  We had less stuff, but it wasn’t working for our family.  At one point, the challenge leader suggested having only enough plates for your family, which meant keeping a measly six plates. What if we had company over??!?!  What if I didn’t wash and dry the dishes immediately after each meal?!?!  What if we broke one?!?! It wasn’t long before I realized this was for minimalists, and minimalism wasn’t our style.  Yet, we did have far too much stuff.  That’s when I was introduced the Konmari method, and it was life changing.

I used a free app from our public library (Overdrive) to listen toThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing during my commute to work.  Then I borrowed the companion e-book  Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up to better understand the method visually and get started on our home.

It took us about six or seven months to get the majority of our house done using this method, and we’re still working on the last bits.  In this process, I realized several things about our stuff:

  1. I kept things for “just in case” moments that never came.  You know things such as, “I’ll keep this dress in case I’m invited to a theme party” or “I’ll hang onto this in case I lose five pounds”.
  2. I kept things because someone gave them to me.
  3. Even when we bought replacement items, we kept the old item if it was still usable.
  4. We bought things because they were a “good deal” even if we didn’t need them.
  5. We had so much stuff that we didn’t know what we actually had, and sometimes bought duplicates.
  6. Our things were unnecessarily time consuming.

When I told people we were doing a serious declutter of our home using the Konmari method many were shocked saying things like, “but your house is so organized” or “your things are so tidy already.”  Yes, we kept things looking tidy and for the most part they were organized, but the sheer quantity of things was overwhelming.  I spent ridiculous amounts of time working to keep things in order and keep track of things because there was a lot of it.

Here’s what my closet looked like before Konmari:

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The matching hangers and items sorted by type made it seem tidy, but notice how much is in there.  I couldn’t find things and really didn’t know what all was in my closet either.  In addition to what was in my closet, my drawers were jam packed, and I had under the bed storage boxes loaded with out of season clothing.  I didn’t do a good job of showing what junk was resting on the shelves above my clothes.  It was a mess, ya’ll!

Here’s what my closet looks like now:

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The changes are subtle.  There’s still a lot of clothing in there, but notice the spaces between the hangers.  I no longer have out of season clothes tucked away and I can easily see what I have, which means easy access and no more buying duplicates by mistake.  The bed linens aren’t stuffed under my shirts, they have a new home in a pretty sea grass basket.  As a result, it is more pleasing to the eye when I enter my closet.

Imagine such little changes throughout your entire home, and even life!  Stay tuned and I’ll explain how Konmari is different from other methods of organization I’ve used over the years, and what benefits we’re enjoying.  You can pop over to our Facebook page for a quick video tour of our house on a typical afternoon.

https://www.facebook.com/FourToAdore/?ref=bookmarks

If you relate to any of my sentiments of having too much stuff, you may want to snag (or borrow) a copy of these books.  A few disclaimers for the books: the author, Marie Kondo, is Japanese and therefore her books have been translated from Japanese.  Some things don’t translate perfectly into English.  Also there are differences in Asian culture and Western culture that you’ll notice.  That said, I enjoyed both books and found them very helpful.

 

hugs!

 

Amber

Back to School

When I was growing up, back to school shopping always helped ease the sting of summer’s end.  As I prepared to send my own kids off to school for the first time, back to school shopping helped spark enthusiasm for all of us.  Of course, things are different than when I was a kid.  We did very little traditional shopping and instead went online for almost everything, including school supplies.  In fact, the kids’ school supplies were delivered directly to their school.  It was a cinch!

Shopping for back to school clothes in Texas can be a bit tricky given our weather.  It can still be rather hot until Halloween, but classrooms can be chilly and school dress codes aren’t conducive to summer clothing.  The girls and I had fun perusing the DollBaby Back to School collection at La Bella Flora Children’s Boutique.  Considering a transition to fall, we chose the Back to School Floral Top with Leggings for Girls in Navy. These pieces are ideal for fall weather in Texas.  The 3/4 length sleeves are perfect for a crisp walk to school, but aren’t too warm for the afternoon or during recess.

Both pieces are available in sizes 2T to 10 girls.  I love that the entire Back to School line features the same on trend floral pattern with pops of burgundy and olive.   The pieces within the collection are easy to coordinate for different looks or for multiples who don’t want to be matchy matchy.

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Whenever I buy new clothes for Sydney, I hold my breath, hoping and praying she will approve of the fabric texture and fit.  She’s extremely sensitive to anything she deems “not right”, which typically means slightly scratchy or too stiff.  Despite having lace embellishments and buttons, the fabric is extremely soft and comfortable, which earned Sydney’s stamp of approval even prior to washing.  Speaking of washing, these outfits are no fuss.  I washed them with the kids’ normal laundry and tumble dried them on medium.  The dark hues did not bleed onto other light colored clothing.  They came out looking exactly the way they did beforehand. There was no fading, pilling, and they were wrinkle free.

The girls were comfortable for a day at the Cowgirl Museum, which included plenty of walking and exploration.  The clothes fit true to size when compared to other high end children’s clothing and boutique brands.  Rylin is wearing a 4T (she’s about 39″ tall and 32 pounds) and Sydney is wearing a 3T (she’s 38″ tall and 26 pounds).  Both girls have some growing room, but the waist band still fit comfortably.

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Does back to school shopping help you bid summer farewell?


Disclaimer: I would like extend a special thanks to La Bella Flora Children’s Boutique for providing product samples for us to try for the purpose of review.  No other compensation was received, and all thoughts/ opinions are 100% my own.  


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A New Normal

It’s been two weeks since we dropped our babies off in kindergarten.  Overall, we are doing well with it, but it’s certainly a new normal.  It seems that every time we settle into a new routine, the season changes and we find ourselves adjusting.  Such is quad life!

We started a tradition of obligatory first day photos with a framed sign.  Snag your own set for free at Paper Trail Design.

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On the first day of school, the kids excitedly followed our chalk drawings down the street toward school.

 

 

 

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Nisey and Poppa joined us for the big first day drop off.  I was really proud of all of us, not a single tear was shed.  At least not on the first day.  Parents take their children to the classroom door on the first two days of school.  The third day is “Independence Day”, which means the kids are dropped off at the front door and navigate to their classrooms (older students help the littles for a few days).  All four kids hopped out of the car without a fuss (whew!).  As  I watched them walk away, the waterworks started…I sobbed all the way to work.  I was totally unprepared to watch them walk away.  Our sweet teachers sent class photos later in the morning entitled “They all made it!!” I flipped out a little when I couldn’t find Mason in the sea of kids, but was relieved when the teacher responded, “Someone jumped in front of him, you can see his little thumb.”

Drop offs have since gotten better, and pick ups are always the highlight of my day.  I can’t wait to see these little faces running towards me.  After the first day I learned to do a bag check- folder, lunch box, water bottle, and jackets.  We only made it home with 75% of the lunch boxes on the first day of school.  Sydney’s was left on her locker, but thankfully was still there the next morning.

 

Rylin and Harper are in the same class and share a locker.  Sydney and Mason are in another class, and also share a locker.  This is fantastic because my type A personalities are supporting their Type B siblings as they learn organization and responsibility.

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I’ve been impressed with the kids teachers and really appreciate the time they’ve taken to share photos of what happens.  One of the hardest things about sending the kids to school is not knowing what they do all day.  Of course, they share their own accounts of things, but it can be cryptic and discombobulated.  Rylin knows every single rule and every child in her class, but she is also very literal.   For example, after going to P. E., she reported, “We just walk in circles.  We do not run, and our teacher doesn’t know because she’s in a meeting.”  From working in schools, I knew this wasn’t the whole story.  I happen to know the coach so I jokingly asked him why he was having the kids walk monotonous circles.  He explained they were learning whistle commands and basic rules of the gym.  Since that lesson, they’ve learned several games, and I believe do run.

The kids’ school is large, but has a warm, welcoming culture rich with tradition.  One such tradition is the first Friday of school is “Western Day” where the kids and staff all wear western attire.  We talked about it all week and sifted through closets to pull together combinations of denim, bandanas, and plaid.  However, Mason was the ONLY child who actually wore his ensemble to school.  I don’t think the kids realized what special attire meant.  Hopefully next time they’ll participate.

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The kids completed their first homework assignments for a “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” unit.  Each child brought home an enlarged initial, which they cut out and covered in items beginning with their initials.   Despite my urges to help them cut everything pretty and design them according to my vision, I let the kids do everything with limited guidance.  We had fun sifting through piles of stickers and brainstorming lists of items, which we tried to procure or create.  They were so proud of themselves, and I was too.  Unfortunately, Harper learned a hard lesson.  Just doing the homework isn’t enough.  You also have to turn it into the teacher.  I’m not sure what happened, but Harper’s folder came back home with his project and no teacher note.  I suspect he left his folder in his backpack all day.

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The kids also went to the library and each chose a book to take home.  As soon as they got home, the four of them sat right outside the mudroom to peruse their finds.

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Much to everyone’s excitement, last Friday was Grandparent’s Day.  Nisey, Granddaddy, and Carol were able to join the kids for lunch.  I can’t wait to join them myself!  Speaking of me….people have been asking just what I’m doing with all my time.  I increased my hours at work, but I was able to work out a schedule with my director that allows me to drop the kids off, and pick them up from school.  I don’t have loads of free time, but I’ve had just enough to do the grocery shopping SOLO, and I’m finding time to take better care of myself (hello, doctor and dentist appointments).  I’m also finding that since we are apart all day, the kids and I are savoring our time together.  Oh, and it’s much easier to keep the house clean since the kids are constantly creating tornadoes around themselves AND kids go to bed much more quickly since kindergarten is exhausting work.

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Stay tuned for more kindergarten adventures!

hugs,

Amber


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‘Twas the Night Before Kindergarten

Five years ago George and I were up to our eyeballs in bottles and diapers.  Every. Single. Day. we prepared 32 bottles and changed an equal number of diapers. We ran on Keurig fumes and naps of about 90 minutes.  We often wondered if we’d survive that stage.   Somehow we did because tomorrow our bright eyed, curious five year olds begin kindergarten.  People keep asking me how I’m doing.  I *think I’m okay with this.  Yes, it is bittersweet watching your babies grow up, but there are new beginnings to celebrate.  Tonight a friend sent me these words of encouragement:

If nothing ever changed, we’d have no butterflies.

-Unknown

I am excited about the future for our children.  Despite being large, their school has a culture of family and warmth that cultivates a love of learning.  When we met the kindergarten teachers Thursday night, each child was given a bag of Jitter Glitter.  After reading bedtime stories, they happily spread it under their pillows.

Once everyone was fast asleep, Poppa, George, and I decorated the sidewalks on our street with words and pictures of encouragement.

Backpacks and shoes are lined up in the mudroom.

I packed special lunches, including lunch box notes and Hershey’s kisses.

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George and I couldn’t help but compare meal prep now to five years ago.   It might be a different meal, but we are still awake late at night prepping meals for the next day.

Make bottles for multiples for 24 hours at a time

Let there be butterflies!

Amber


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Farewell Summer

Summer is coming to an end when the kiddos start KINDERGARTEN on Monday.  I keep wondering how on earth we are approaching kindergarten.  It’s certainly a bittersweet time, but we are all excited about this year of learning and new beginnings.  We had a fabulous summer jam packed with items on my mental “bucket list”, many of which were firsts for us.

SWIMMING

The kids started taking swim lessons in April and wrapped up in June.  They had a great first experience with swim lessons and were able to practice their new skills the rest of the summer on vacation, in the neighborhood, and at Grandaddy’s pool.  They still liked having puddle jumpers, but proved themselves capable of swimming with close supervision.  In fact, Mason taught himself to do back somersaults!

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DANCE RECITAL

This year the girls were more confident at their dance recital and were so excited to receive flowers afterwards.  Both of them soak up the accolades from performing.

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GYMNASTICS

After dance lessons wrapped up, all four kids started gymnastics at ASI.  I’ve been amazed at their progress in such a short amount of time.  No one is ready for the Olympics, but I’ve noticed increased muscle tone, better coordination and motor planning, and improved attention.

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SIX FLAGS

We received Six Flags season passes for Christmas from Grandaddy (hooray for an experience gift!!) and made good use of them this summer    We learned a few things at Six Flags 1. Our kids are really short.  This means that most rides require them to sit with an adult.  Because of this we take turns riding with one kid while one parent waits with the others.  2.  Harper is not a thrill seeker.  He likes watching the rides but would rather not go up high, fast, in the dark, or in circles.  He’s a good sport about it though.  3. Six Flags is a place where the kids should dress alike.  I’m not one for making them match, but in busy places it’s a sanity saver!

 

HURRICANE HARBOR

Since our Six Flags passes included Hurricane Harbor admission, we took our first ever trip to a water park.  Thankfully, my sister and brother in law came along for the fun because it was HARD work keeping track of four learning to swim kids in a water park.

BEACH VACATION

We made our annual pilgrimage to North Padre Island with my family.  It was a fabulous trip, except for the part when I was hit with the stomach bug the kids had weeks prior. Seriously, stomach bugs are the worst.  My family picked up the slack while I binged on HGTV and kept the kids busy in the water.

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COYOTE DRIVE IN

We all had a blast at the Coyote Drive In.  It was a good thing we went before the kids turned five because ages 4 and under are free.  I hadn’t been to a drive in since my own childhood, and the it was the kids first time.  They were troopers staying up well past bedtime to see Cars 3.

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BOWLING

My college roommates joined us for a field trip to Main Event.  Just like with Six Flags we realized how tiny the kids are.  The smallest kid’s bowling shoes are at least two sizes too big for Syd.  The kids proved to possess special bowling talents including: 1. getting a gutter ball WITH bumpers 2. rolling a ball so slowly that you can send the second one down the lane before the pins are reset 3. rolling a ball so slowly it stops mid lane.  Nonetheless, it was a fun adventure.

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ALTITUDE TRAMPOLINE PARK

We met up with our quad buddies, the Bells for a playdate at Altitude.  We had a great time bouncing around and swimming through the foam pit.  The picture below includes all eight quads.

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KINDNESS ROCKS

Kindness Rocks are all the rage in our neighborhood.  We painted our own river rocks and added inspirational words then scattered them around the neighborhood.  Then, we set out to find a few of our own.  The girls that live two doors down make sure to leave plenty of pretties in our yard and on the porch so it’s like an ongoing Easter egg hunt.

FORT WORTH MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND HISTORY

Last year the kids received a membership to the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, (another fabulous gift idea!) and we’ve gotten plenty of use out of it.  We especially enjoyed taking friends with us to see the Dora & Diego and Clifford the Big Red Dog exhibits.

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GRAPEVINE VINTAGE RAILROAD

Harper has been a train aficionado since he was about two.  He loves learning about trains, being the train engineer, and designing his tracks.  I was pleased to find a reasonably priced kid friendly train ride for “Back to School” on the Grapevine Vintage Railroad.  All four kids enjoyed learning about the train, looking at the scenery, and of course noshing on snacks (all $1-2, yay!).

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FIFTH BIRTHDAY

I blinked and somehow my babies turned five this summer.  To make it special, George picked up Hurts Donuts and I made sugar rimmed milk glasses with fancy straws and decorated the table.

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END OF SUMMER PLAYDATE

With summer coming to a screeching halt, we had one last hurrah with our twinnie friends.  To make it special, Rylin and I decorated with old birthday party decorations and baked chocolate chip cookies.

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Stay tuned for the low down on the kid’s fifth birthday party and kindergarten happenings.

hugs!

 

Amber


For more from Four to Adore, connect with us via FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.  We often share pictures, life hacks, activities, recipes, and more via social media.