A Feast of Plenty

Typically my parents host Thanksgiving for our family, but this year they had plans to attend the Dallas Cowboy’s game in the afternoon.  To keep from rushing the feast, George and I offered to host.  Hosting a Thanksgiving feast is quite an undertaking, especially when you have big shoes to fill, but I think we delivered.   Prepping things ahead of time helped keep things running smoothly the day of.

The weekend before, Nisey and the kids made votive holders using Dollar Tree hurricane jars, Elmer’s glue, silk and felt leaves, and twine.  I think they turned out perfectly!

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For a rustic tablescape,  I used a burlap table runner paired with fall colored place mats and napkins, pumpkins, and wooden chargers with an “S” monogram inherited from my grandmother.  I really love using family heirlooms for special occasions like Thanksgiving.

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©FourtoAdore.com

As hosts, George and I planned to roast the turkey as well as a few other key players while the rest of our meal was delegated to our guests.

Beverages: Apple Pie Moonshine (adults only), Mulled Cider

Appetizers:  Spiced Pumpkin Soup & Jalapeno Cranberry Cheeseball

Main: Roasted Turkey

Sides: Cornbread Dressing, Braised Green Beans, Macaroni Salad, Sweet Potato Casserole, Scalloped Potatoes

Dessert: Pumpkin Pie Bars, Pecan Pie Bars, Chocolate Pie

If you’d like to try one of our menu items, stop by our Thanksgiving Pinterest board for links.

Sydney, clad in her Sofia the First ballgown, volunteered to be my sous chef the day prior.  She was charged with mixing cornbread for the dressing while George roasted pumpkins for the soup. Before bed on Thanksgiving eve, our cranberry sauce was chilling, the components of the dressing were prepped, the turkey was in a brine, and the pumpkin soup was complete.

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Since the bird occupied the oven, our soup simmered perfectly in the crock pot in the morning.  By the time our guests arrived, the soup was creamy and warm.

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Our den is quite small, but it made for a cozy gathering.  I’m also aware that we may need a few more chairs as Seth was relegated to the kiddy rocking chair.

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Between our dining room and kitchen, there was adequate room for twelve adults, but it was a bit tight for the quads.  We moved their child sized table to the kitchen and Rylin set the table for them.  The seemed to enjoy having their own table.

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The dogs notoriously prey upon the kid’s dinner plates so we sent them to doggy jail for a bit.

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After stuffing our bellies with decadent morsels, the girls cozied up on the sofa to watch the recorded Thanksgiving Day Parade while the boys enjoyed football upstairs.  By the end of the day, I was utterly exhausted, but it was a perfect day spent with family and friends.

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Keeping with tradition, we snapped a family photo completed with coordinated wardrobe.  We started with subdued poses, but ended with this silly one.  It’s my favorite shot by far, mostly because it appears that George is yanking my Dad’s hair, but apparently he didn’t touch dad at all.

Silly Thanksgiving Family Photo

Hugs!

Amber

19 Practical Gifts for Kids

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

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RAIN GEAR

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

 

BEDTIME

DIY no skid toddler slippers

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

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

 

 

HYGIENE

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

 

DINING

Family Movie Night

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

 

SUPPLIES

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

 

 

EXPERIENCES

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

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

  • Gift cards to restaurants with play areas

  • Movie Tickets

  • Magazine Subscriptions

 

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

 

Hugs,

 

Amber

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And, “I love you mommy,”

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

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

And “You can’t make me.”

And “I don’t love you anymore.”

And “You’re the worst mommy ever!”

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

And non-sensical arguing, 24/7.

And battle time at the dinner table.

And potty training.

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

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

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

And the next day, our whole life changes.

For at least 12 months.

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

 

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

We wanted her to.

And she wouldn’t.

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

What in the world?

Were we raising a child or a chipmunk?

We weren’t sure.

It happened day after day, for weeks on end.

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

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

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

I remember one day in particular.

Kory was working late.

I was pregnant with our first-born son.

And it was dinner time.

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

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

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

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

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

There was only Zuul.

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

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

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

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

I’d had it with all the disobedience.

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah, right.

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

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

I was in the weeds of the terrible threes.

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

Her outgoing nature.

Her care for others.

Her blossoming love for Jesus.

Her knack for prayers.

Her sense of humor.

Her creativity.

Her amazing vocabulary.

Her wisdom.

Her sparkling eyes.

And her smile.

Just to name a few.

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

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

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

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

It’s normal.

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

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

So stay the course.

Maintain your resolve.

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

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

It may just save your day.

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


 

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

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

The Day I Quit Potty Training

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

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

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

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

I collected an arsenal of supplies including:

WE WERE READY TO TACKLE POTTY TRAINING QUADRUPLETS!!!!

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

potty training bathroom

light switch

Oxi Clean

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

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

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

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

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

Jennifer also gave me this piece of wisdom,

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

Matthew 6:34

God’s desire is for us not to worry.

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

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

Related Articles:

Advice from the World’s Worst Potty Trainer

Potty Training Twins: A Series of Stops and Starts

Potty Training Quadruplets- 101

Potty Training- The Scoop!

Toilet Learning vs Toilet Training

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

Buy One, Get One Free

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

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

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

©FourtoAdore.com

©FourtoAdore.com

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

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

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

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

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

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©FourtoAdore.com

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

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How did you spend your Halloween night?

Hugs!

Amber

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