Wee Volunteer

Last month we were invited to participate in a preschool philanthropy program through Wee Volunteer . Though Wee Volunteer offers a variety of projects, this one was for Meals on Big Wheels where preschoolers help deliver meals to the elderly.  We were available on the scheduled day, but I was hesitant to commit.  It was 45 minutes from home and over the lunch hour.  I envisioned schlepping four winey, hangry kids, and hot meals in sweltering heat.  Misery, it seemed.  In my heart, I knew it was an excellent opportunity and decided to accept the invitation despite my reservations.   I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but had been told we would ride a bus then deliver meals in apartment complexes.

The kids weren’t terribly excited about being mini couriers, but the idea of riding a bus for the first time was enough to get them dressed and out the door.  Thankfully the bus exceeded their expectations (and mine)!  We rode in style in a charter bus complete with picture windows and purple party lights.  It was the first time the kids could really see outside the windows of a vehicle, and they were in awe.

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While we traveled, the program founder, Michelle Chase, told us about Wee Volunteer.  Five years ago, she started the organization to help teach her young girls about serving others.  The program has grown to include projects involving animals, children in need, gifts of gratitude, elderly, the environment, homelessness, and hunger.   Our project included a route that is typically covered by paid employees of Meals on Wheels.  As a result, our service saved enough funds to feed 20 clients for an entire week.  In addition to the monetary support of our service, Michelle pointed out that many Meals on Wheels clients have very few, if any visitors.  Whoever delivers the meal could be their only visitor and contact with the outside world.  Because of this, we encouraged the children to be friendly and smile.

Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

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Every client received a meal resembling a TV dinner with a piece of fruit and a drink.  Each child was responsible for carrying and handing over about two meals. All of the kids really enjoyed getting to knock on doors and shout, “MEALS ON WHEELS!!”  Sometimes, we had to practice patience as the client took a little time to reach the door.

Overall the kids did really well making deliveries, and seemed to enjoy serving others.  Towards the end, things became challenging.  The kids became thirsty, hungry, and hot, and they let this be known.  Service isn’t always easy, it involves making sacrifices to help others.  Both the kids and I learned a lot from this experience and look forward to more like it.

All of the wee volunteers weren’t willing to be photographed, but included in the group were 18 kiddos ages two to four years old.  Wouldn’t it brighten your day to have these guys deliver your lunch?

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What is your favorite service project or charitable organization?

 

hugs,

 

Amber


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Hair Emergency {How to Remove Flarp from Hair}

A hair emergency must be a rite of passage for both childhood and parenthood. For most, it’s the obligatory snip to the tresses.  For some, it’s a dye job gone awry.  When I was about ten it was the home perm kit my mom tried on me.  I ended up with frizzy frayed hair that split in the front creating awful wispy hairs.  It took months for it to grow out again.  It was not a good look.  When my sister was about four years old, she leaned forward to blow out a candle and successfully ignited her bangs.  Yipes!  Luckily for her, it was only a quick singe before the flame was snuffed.  With quadruplets, I knew something similar was bound to happen, and it certainly did.

When I cook dinner, I usually give the kids sensory activities, puzzles, or crafts to work on at the kitchen table.  Among their favorites are Play Doh and kinetic sand, so I knew flarp (a birthday gift) would likely entertain them for a solid hour.  They were indeed enamored with the drippy doughy stuff.  Periodically, I peeked over at them and found stretching, pressing, and molding, which was fine.  When I spied someone putting flarp all over their arms, I redirected them immediately. However, just as I popped our lasagna in the oven, I froze.  Sydney’s pigtails were streaked with neon orange flarp. GAHHHHHHHH!!!!!  Hair emergency, an hour before company was expected for dinner.

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Instinctively, I began trying to pull small bits of the goo out, but instead of removing flarp, I was mostly pulling out precious hairs.  Clearly this wasn’t the best method for flarp removal.  I panicked, imagining we’d have to go to the salon for a new hair do.  First, I decided to contact my friend and hair stylist, Kristin.  She asked for a list of all available oils and butters.  I came up with coconut, olive, canola, Crisco, butter, peanut butter, and baby oil.  Her recommendation was to coat small sections of hair in baby oil.  Then, use a fine tooth comb to pull flarp from one inch sections of hair.  I stripped Sydney down to her undies and situated her in the bathtub while I ordered the other three kids to stay in the playroom, no exceptions.  After separating the untouched hair from the goopy stuff, I got to work.  Much to my relief, it actually worked.  Within about 25 minutes, I removed about a quarter cup of sludge from Sydney’s hair and none remained on her head.  Thanks to the baby oil, Sydney looked like a grease monkey for several days, but no hair was trimmed in the process. Her hair was restored and I’m hoping she’ll keep gunky stuff out of her hair.

 

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Have you experienced a hair emergency?

 

hugs!

 

Amber


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The Circus

Shortly after the quads were born, we sent letters to companies who have multiple birth programs.  Within a few months, we received a handful of coupons and product samples.  With our multiple birth offers, we also heard about the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Baby’s First Circus program.  Since Ringling believes that all children should experience the joy of the circus, every child under 12 months old and living in the United States is entitled to receive his or her first ticket for FREE.  After receiving our vouchers, I cached them away to use when the kids could appreciate them.  This summer proved opportune for the kids first circus.  Shortly after celebrating the quads fourth birthday carnival style, Ringling’s Circus Extreme was in our area.

Despite seeing books and pictures about the circus, they really had no idea what to expect.  After arriving at the venue, we saw the animal encounter exhibit where you can see all of the animals that will appear in the show (a lot like the zoo).  Then, we headed to the area for the pre-show where we could see the performers and some of the props.  None of the kids wanted to be too close to a clown, but Sydney tried on a cape from wardrobe.

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As soon as we settled into our seats, the kids started complaining of hunger so I set off to grab the best concession for the price: popcorn and water.  Harper made sure we got our money’s worth and didn’t miss a single kernel.

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Once the show began, it was a tad dark and loud for the kids so I passed out ear plugs and glow sticks, which eased anxiety tremendously.  In hindsight, I wish I’d brought flashier glow items too…the kids begged for the many light up souvenir items, but the price tags were ridiculous.  The would’ve loved our dollar store wands just as much.  Next time..

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We were all thoroughly impressed and entertained by the eclectic performance which included everything from the traditional circus clowns to magical mermaids, trampoline gymnasts, and poodles.


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What’s your favorite circus act?  I was a bit partial to the poodles.

 

Hugs!

 

Amber


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I’ll Never Buy Hand Soap Again

In the past year or so, we’ve begun teaching the kids to manage basic hygiene habits themselves.  Of those tasks, hand washing is of the utmost importance.  However, my crew found the squirting of hand soap to be a highly entertaining task and they often got carried away with squirting.  Much to my dismay, the counter tops were often covered in a slimy soap film and we ran though hand soap quickly.  Hand washing with quads became not only messy but also expensive.  My friend and quad mama, Krista, suggested switching from regular soap to foaming soap.  It was a great suggestion indeed.  A single pump of foaming hand soap fills little hands and discourages multiple pumps.  Foaming soap also doesn’t drip or create the slime like regular soap.  The only problem was that with four sets of grubby hands, we still used it rather quickly and it wasn’t cheap.  I knew there had to be a better option; behold I found it on BrenDid.

 

After your store bought foaming hand soap container is empty, you can refill it on the cheap in two steps with two simple ingredients.

  1. Fill your soap container with eight ounces of water (I used tap water, but if you won’t use it quickly, distilled water is best)
  2. Add one ounce of liquid Castile soap (I used lavender scented, which was $7 at Walmart in the cosmetic section) then shake the bottle to blend both ingredients

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Our DIY soap foams as well as the store bought version, smells great, and cleans hands as effectively.  DIY for the win!  For additional information about why this DIY version of foaming hand soap is not only easy and inexpensive, but also a better for you version, pop by BrenDid for details.  She has lots of great information about the chemical aspect of commercially produced soap.

2 ingredient DIY foaming hand soap2 ingredient DIY foaming hand soap

hugs,

 

Amber

Related Articles:

Basic Hygiene Skills to Teach Little Kids

The Day I Quit Potty Training


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Step Right Up {Carnival Party}

As the quad’s fourth birthday approached, I decided it was prudent to host at a party venue rather than at home.  Last year we rented a playscape and it was fabulous not having to clean the house before or after having a slew of preschoolers at the party.  I was ecstatic to find a similar venue that included fresh popcorn and cotton candy with their party package.   Since we’d be serving carnival fare, I decided to run with that theme.  Once again, I commissioned my friend, Amber , to design custom invitations that I had printed at Costco.

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The week of the party, I had the kids create carnival themed crafts to hang as banners.  As center pieces, I used Dollar Tree Mylar balloons arranged in popcorn containers.  Since our party overlapped with the dinner hour, we served hot dogs from a crock pot along with fresh fruit.  It was a super easy way to feed a crowd and keep with the theme.   Since George is a cupcake connoisseur, we never order bakery cakes.  This year, we used a rainbow cupcake recipe from Just a Taste and it was ahhhh-mazing!  Whether or not we actually make rainbow cupcakes again (the rainbow part was slightly tedious), it will be our go-to recipe for from scratch cupcakes and frosting.  The cake was dense and sweet, but not overly so and the frosting complimented it perfectly.  For this particular party, the rainbow color in the cake was a fun touch.

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To cook hotdogs in a slow cooker, spray your slow cooker with cooking spray then fill it with hot dogs (mine held about 50).  Cook on low for 4 hours.

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For party favors, I filled cello bags with animal crackers and fruit snacks then embellished them with a printable gift tag from We Heart Parties.

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Before our guests arrived, we snapped a family photo, and I was glad we did since there was never another opportunity.  The kids filled their time bouncing in the bounce houses, playing in the kid town, exploring the train, and playing games as the adults mingled.

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It probably  feels redundant for guests, but to make each of the kids feel special, we sing happy birthday to them individually, in birth order.  It doesn’t take a lot of time, but I know it means the world to them.

I’m quickly noticing the challenges of this new season with four year olds, but am appreciating the end of the threenagers reign.

hugs!

 

Amber

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Morning Ride 

final-4In the past few weeks we’ve been struggling with a lot of sibling bickering, sassy backtalk, and physical aggression. I’ve done my best to redirect this behavior and to keep toys and activities fresh, but the behaviors persisted. As a result of these challenging behaviors, my own patience is dwindling.

When mentioning my frustrations to a friend, she kindly asked how much outdoor play the kids were getting.  With triple digit heat, outdoor play has also been a struggle.  Unless there is water involved, we have to be out early and truthfully, we haven’t been getting a full hour daily.  Some days, after 30 minutes we are headed in to escape the heat.

Today I was set on getting at least an hour of outdoor play and sunshine, but we had to beat the heat to do it.  When I heard the boys wake up at 6:40 am, I immediately asked them to get dressed.  Bum-fuddled, they obliged.  Then, I ushered them to the backyard where I served breakfast.  It wasn’t long before a pair of sleepy headed girls joined us.  After about 20 minutes of outdoor play, we decided it was time for a morning bike ride.  Once all four were helmet clad, we set out to burn some rubber.  There was nice cloud cover so we stayed out riding for about an hour.  It was glorious!   There was some bickering and pushing later in the day, but it was better.

Tomorrow we will repeat this extra early outdoor play and see if it continues to improve everyone’s mood and behavior.


 

What are your favorite outdoor activities?

Hugs,

 

Amber

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Klyde Warren Park 

Last weekend we savored family time in Klyde Warren Park with my parents, sister, and brother-in-law.  Despite being open only a few years, Klyde Warren Park proved itself an urban oasis.  I was surprised to find a sea of lush green grass and tall shade trees surrounded by the world renowned Dallas skyline.  Naturally we spent the majority of our time in the Children’s Park, but we also relaxed in the reading and games nook as the guys played a bit of frisbee in an open field.  In the Park, the kids had a great time climbing the “spider webs”, exploring the tree house, creating music, and spinning on merry go rounds.

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As a mom of preschoolers, I was impressed with the cleanliness and ample size of the restrooms.  When the kids ask to use the restroom at a park, I cringe, but this one was on par with popular restaurants and shops.  Because we had brunch plans, we only spent a few hours in the park, but there is much more to do- on another visit.  For instance, the kids could splash in the fountains, visit the butterfly garden, wander the botanical gardens, participate in story time, or bring the dogs to the bark park.  We could also nosh on food truck delights.  If George would agree to watch the kids for a bit, I might enjoy a little yoga in the park too.   There are plenty of free things to occupy us for hours!

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As the weather began to heat up, and we worked up an appetite, we retreated to LARK on the Park for Sunday brunch.  The chalk art and natural light in the restaurant were stunning, and the food was delicious.   I later learned the chalk art is rotated quarterly based on artist submissions. We especially appreciated the #DallasStrong piece, honoring the five police officers tragically lost earlier in the month.  Dallasites are proud, and I believe will continue working to make necessary change and heal.

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You can dine at LARK on the Park while artists create these stunning chalk drawings.

 

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If you live in the Dallas area, and haven’t been to Klyde Warren Park, I promise it’s worthwhile.  If you live afar, but happen to visit the Big D, Klyde Warren Park is a Dallas must see attraction.

hugs,

 

Amber


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Big Vehicle Day 

This summer, I didn’t create an official summer bucket list, but we’ve had plenty of summer fun. We’ve enjoyed library story time each week, which includes stories and songs followed by a literature based craft.  Last week, story time was cancelled for Big Vehicle Day at the library.  Since there are typically about 20 kids at story time (with four being mine), I wasn’t expecting much from the event.  I anticipated a slightly larger crowd than the regulars, and a parking lot with perhaps a garbage truck, school bus, and a construction vehicle.  I grossly underestimated the library!  Big Vehicle Day was quite an event.  Upon or arrival, I instantly regretted not making the kids dress alike as I spied a sea of preschoolers and their parents scattered around a lineup of vehicles.  Since it was a sweltering hot Texas day, we did a quick stroll past each vehicle, and then each child choose one vehicle to explore further.  We saw everything from mounted police to a street sweeper and an ambulance.

It was no surprise that the girls chose to check out the pink glitzy limo from a local children’s salon.   The kids had never seen a limo before and were thoroughly impressed with the sparkling interior lights and countless drink holders.  Harper was underwhelmed, however. As we exited the limo, the girls had a shiny star painted on their cheeks and fairy glitter spritzed in their hair.  The boys opted out of this sparkle treatment.

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Mason chose to tour a recreational vehicle and Harper wanted to check out the wrecker.  Since we couldn’t go inside the wrecker, Harper was allowed a second choice.  He quickly settled on the Dan Dipert tour bus, which turned out to be a lovely reprieve from the heat with its blasting air conditioner.

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Before heading home, I thought it was important for the kids to thank the police officers and see one of the squad cars.  Much to my chagrin, the kids were totally uninterested in seeing any of the police vehicles, aside from the horses.  Since my uncle is a fire chief, they’ve seen the inside of many fire rescue vehicles and have even used the radio in the chief’s car.  I can only assume the police cars didn’t seem novel, that or it was just too hot. Sydney was the only one to go inside the squad car, but all four obliged me for a photo with one of the officers.

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#backtheblue #DallasStrong

 


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hugs!

 

Amber

 

Snore No More

Sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Mason began snoring like my Grandpa used to- LOUD and rattly.  We all passed colds around in the winter so I presumed it was likely due to nasal congestion.  However, he continued snoring into the spring long after his congestion cleared, which concerned me.  I made an appointment with our Ear Nose and Throat doctor to get it checked, and Mason ended up getting a nasal scope.  He wasn’t too happy about the scope, but I was so glad we did it.  He had a 95% blockage in his airway from enlarged adenoids.  Unfortunately, with such significant blockage, surgery was warranted.

When the big day arrived, my dad happily babysat the other kids so George and I could both be with Mason before and after surgery.  Little man did really well.  He cooperated with the anesthesiologist and went back for surgery with not problems.  After surgery, he was slightly fussy, but calmed down easily with snuggles.   In the days that followed his adenoidectomy, Mason ran low grade fever and was more irritable than usual, but nothing significant.  After a week he was totally back to normal, no post surgery symptoms remained.  Since surgery, Mason breathes easily at night and his snoring completely stopped.

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Mason slept well on the ride home and snuggled the stuffed dog he got from the hospital. He later named his dog “Boxy” and sleeps with it nightly.

If anyone in your family snores, especially children, don’t ignore it since it can be a sign of underlying problems.

hugs!

 

Amber

 

 

Six Common Ways Your Identity Can Be Stolen

Keeping your finances in order means proper organization, budgeting, and ignoring those frivolous purchases we sometimes feel like we really need. However, the one financial threat we can never foresee is the dastardly deeds of terrible identity thieves. These days, it’s rare to not know someone that’s been affected by this crime. In fact, in 2015 it was determined that an estimated 17.6 million Americans were victims of identity theft the year prior. Keep your information safe by remaining aware and make sure you don’t fall victim to one of the following scams.

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  1. Tax Returns

When tax season comes around, most of us are worried about making mistakes on our tax return, or finding out that we in fact owe the government a whole lot more than we ever expected. However, one of the most worrying things we should be worried about during this time is the threat of a con artist filing a tax return under our names. False returns filed before your actual, real filing can mean identity thieves swindle money right out from under the IRS’s nose. In these cases, it will be a long time before you ever receive the return you’re due.

  1. Social Media Outlets

Social media is king, and most of us have one if not many accounts with various social platforms, be it Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or even GooglePlus. Many of these channels prompt users for a bevy of personal information, from full names to email addresses, phone numbers to street addresses. While you may think providing this information is a good way to expand your social circle and keep up with the people you love, providing too much information can be the perfect storm for an identity theft. Try not to include your full legal name, never input addresses, and be aware of what you’re posting on all of your profiles.

  1. Credit Card Statements

Many of us are now using automated payments to make sure we never miss a bill, but this can lead to inattention to statements. When was the last time you sat down and went through your credit card statement line by line? If you can’t remember an instance in the recent past, it’s time to start implementing this practice on a monthly basis. Identity thieves are intelligent, and may be adding smaller charges to your bill that you may not notice over time. This is why it’s important to remain diligent with your statement review practices. Anytime you see something suspicious, you can report it to your trusted credit card company. The longer this goes on, the more likely this thief is to get away with money that you might not get back.

  1. Similar Passwords

With all of these automated payments come a bevy of online accounts that allow us to do all the nitty gritty finance chores right from the comfort of our own home with a computer screen or iPhone. With said accounts comes safeguards, usually done through personal passwords. I don’t know about you, but coming up with and keeping track of 20 different types of passwords is akin to torture, but unfortunately, it’s a necessary evil. If you need help keeping track of your passwords, use a password protected (I know, I know, but isn’t that counterproductive?) file on your computer. This way, you only need to remember one password. Type it in, look up your necessary password, and call it a day—no failed attempts and getting locked out of your accounts anymore.

  1. Disposing of Personal Information

We live in a digital age so it is rare to have paper documentation sitting around, but it does still exist. Anything you have that details personal information on it should always be kept in a safe and disposed of properly when the time comes. Invest in a small shredder, never throw away old credit cards without cutting them out, and make sure you keep your trash off the street until pickup day.

  1. Rental Scams

Unfortunately, identity theft is becoming more common in the rental market. If you haven’t purchased a home in favor of renting, you’ve likely run into some competition. With high competition, desperate people have been more than willing to throw their social security numbers at those they assume to be legitimate landlords, but many times, would-be tenants are left in the dust as the devious scam artist runs off with their SSN. Avoid this by always using a screening service. Companies like Transunion Smartmove keep your information protected while providing the needed stats to the landlord who has requested them—it keeps everyone safe and happy, and more importantly, keeps your information from winding up in the wrong hands.

Protect your sensitive information and watch out for these common scams to ensure you and your family remain safe and protected.

stay safe!

 

Amber


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