Hello, three year olds!

Three days ago, our “babies” turned THREE!!!!  Last week my friend, Jen, came over and snapped a few three-year photos of the crew to mark this milestone.  On their birthday I asked them a few interview questions about their favorite things.  I plan to ask the same questions every year, perhaps adding a question each year.  One thing I’m loving about this age is the conversations we have, especially when I get insight into their perception of the world.

Shawver family

Rylin age 3 interview

Harper age 3 interview

Sydney age 3 interview

Mason age 3 interview

quads

Harper and Mason

Harper & Mason

Stay tuned for the quadventres of our three-year olds!

hugs,

Amber


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Board Games {Summer Bucket List}

As part of our summer bucket list, we’ve been introducing preschool board games.  They are ideal for teaching social skills such as turn taking, winning and losing appropriately, problem solving, and following directions/ rules.  Our favorite preschool games include:

Four player games such as Hungry Hungry Hippos are absolutely perfect for quads.

Tea Party game

Hungry Hungry Hippos

Yippee!  We accomplished another of our bucket list items.

  1. Movies
  2. Sea Life Aquarium
  3. Train ride
  4. Fire station tour
  5. Library story time
  6. Sprayground
  7. Zoo
  8. Bahama Buck’s
  9. Frozen yogurt
  10. Community pool
  11. Grill dinner outside
  12. Water Table
  13. Inflatable Pool
  14. Sprinklers
  15. Ice Cream
  16. Indoor playgrounds
  17. Lee’s Grilled Cheese
  18. Blow bubbles
  19. Chalk drawings
  20. Board games
  21. Play dates
  22. Summer Reading Club
  23. Dance classes
  24. Fireworks
  25. Sleep over with grandparents
  26. Nature Walks
  27. Bounce house
  28. Popsicles
  29. S’mores
  30. Sparklers
  31. Water pistol duels

hugs,

Amber

PS- If you can’t get enough of Four to Adore, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Popsicles {Summer Bucket List}

There are two good reasons to enjoy a Popsicle: 1. you are sick 2. it’s summer!  Fortunately, wass the latter and we enjoyed icky sticky Popsicles al fresco one hot, humid day.  Even though the quads started eating their frozen treats at our Little Tikes picnic table, it wasn’t long before they began wandering.  And dripping.  Then stepping in the gooey drips, then tracking them. All the sticky fun eventually turned into the perfect opportunity to hose down the patio and the kids.

popsicles

popsicles

popsicles

Happy summer, ya’ll!

Hooray for enjoying a summer bucket list item!

  1. Movies
  2. Sea Life Aquarium
  3. Train ride
  4. Fire station tour
  5. Library story time
  6. Sprayground
  7. Zoo
  8. Bahama Buck’s
  9. Frozen yogurt
  10. Community pool
  11. Grill dinner outside
  12. Water Table
  13. Inflatable Pool
  14. Sprinklers
  15. Ice Cream
  16. Indoor playgrounds
  17. Lee’s Grilled Cheese
  18. Blow bubbles
  19. Chalk drawings
  20. Board games
  21. Play dates
  22. Summer Reading Club
  23. Dance classes
  24. Fireworks
  25. Sleep over with grandparents
  26. Nature Walks
  27. Bounce house
  28. Popsicles
  29. S’mores
  30. Sparklers
  31. Water pistol duels

hugs,

Amber

PS- If you can’t get enough of Four to Adore, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Family Flicks {Summer Bucket List}

Back in February, we took the crew to their first movie in a theater. We have a discount theater nearby and tickets are a whopping $1.15 each, and kids under three are free. Seriously, it cost us $2.30 for six of us to see a movie in a theater.  Unsure of how they’d behave, we sat on the back row in case we needed to make a quick escape.  Being movie aficionados, all four watched the entire movie intently.  Ever since, I wanted to take them to another, but waited for the right film to drop, and for a day when Nisey & Terri could join us.  A few weeks ago, Home was on the schedule and it looked perfect.

summer movie

Since tickets were inexpensive, we splurged on popcorn and soda from the concession stand.  Even paying full price for snacks, I think we spent less on tickets plus snacks than we would have at a traditional theater. We all enjoyed the movie and the kids behaved just as well as they did for their first theater flick.

Following the movie, the quads had a blast darting up and down the long theater hallways.  Fortunately, no one else was in the vicinity so they didn’t bother anyone.

summer movie

Long before we had kids, George and I received an hot dog roller for our media room.  Not expecting much out of it, we threw a few hot dogs on it and they cooked perfectly, just like at a concession stand.  We later found matching hot dog and popcorn holders, and hoped they would eventually be perfect for family movie night.   We were right. One evening when the dinner hour approached, we spread a quilt over the living room floor and set up TV trays.  We dusted off our trusty hot dog roller and accessories and prepped a concession stand dinner with hot dogs, pickles, tater tots, and popcorn.  Since we don’t typically eat in the living room, the quads were thrilled.

Family Movie night concessions

Family Movie Night

Family Movie Night

Family Movie Night

Family Movie Night

Family Movie Night

Family Movie Night

Since family movie night, there have been numerous requests to eat in the living room, but all were denied.  However, I think there are many more family movie nights in the future.  What is your favorite concession stand snack?

Here’s to another item marked off our summer bucket list!

  1. Movies
  2. Sea Life Aquarium
  3. Train ride
  4. Fire station tour
  5. Library story time
  6. Sprayground
  7. Zoo
  8. Bahama Buck’s
  9. Frozen yogurt
  10. Community pool
  11. Grill dinner outside
  12. Water Table
  13. Inflatable Pool
  14. Sprinklers
  15. Ice Cream
  16. Indoor playgrounds
  17. Lee’s Grilled Cheese
  18. Blow bubbles
  19. Chalk drawings
  20. Board games
  21. Play dates
  22. Summer Reading Club
  23. Dance classes
  24. Fireworks
  25. Sleep over with grandparents
  26. Nature Walks
  27. Bounce house
  28. Popsicles
  29. S’mores
  30. Sparklers
  31. Water pistol duels

hugs,

Amber

PS- If you can’t get enough of Four to Adore, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Sprayground {Summer Bucket List}

In the heat of Texas, Splash Pads/ Spraygrounds/ Splash Parks are all the rage for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. These are generally city owned and operated parks that involve water sprayers and sprinkler type structures.  There are no pools of water, which is great for children who cannot yet swim, and it’s a relief for parents supervising little ones. Plus they are my favorite price, free! I’ve been itching to give one a try all season.

Even though I’ve been more caviler in taking the quads out myself, I was more than relieved to have my friend, Kristen, join us.  An extra set of hands and eyes is always nice for a new excursion.  Though I don’t typically dress the quads in matching threads, I bought matchy suits especially for the sprayground.  I’ve found that dressing the kids alike helps me keep tabs on everyone if they’ll have opportunities to dart away.

When we arrived at the sprayground, the quads hesitantly followed Kristen and I through the gates. We spotted an empty table shaded by an awning and staked claim with our baggage.   I planned on the kids playing in the water for a while, then breaking for lunch.  Much to my dismay, not one of the kids was eager to approach the water.  Kristen and I made a decision to enjoy an early picnic, giving the kids time to observe their peers at play before giving it a whirl.

splashground

After polishing off our meal, the quads were still uninterested in playing.  Eventually the boys decided to explore with Kristen.  It was going well until another sprayer unexpectedly doused them.  They were D-O-N-E at that point, and the girls were not having any part of this wet mania. Kristen and I took turns taking kids through the tame misters, and every single child blubbered and wailed through the entire experience.  We were miserable.  It wasn’t long before we cut this field trip short and headed home.

splashground

To prove we were all at the splahsground, Kristen snapped this photo-

splashground

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Getting four two year olds ready for the sprayground was a huge undertaking and I didn’t want all the effort going to waste.  Once at home, we filled up trusty inflatable giraffe pool, which the quads thoroughly enjoyed before nap time arrived.

inflatable pool

Following nap, we hit up or local frozen yogurt shop for an afternoon snack.  The quads got a kick out of choosing their own flavors and toppings.  Sydney chose classic chocolate, which she dribbled all over her yellow and white dress (if you have tips for removing chocolate frozen yogurt from clothing- I’m open to suggestions!). In the past, shaving cream removed chocolate stains, but not this one.


I’m not giving up on the concept of a splash pad/ sprayground just yet.  We have a sprinkler for the yard, and I’m hoping it will help the quads warm up to sprayers.  Even if it wasn’t a total success, we knocked more items off our summer bucket list!

  1. Movies
  2. Sea Life Aquarium
  3. Train ride
  4. Fire station tour
  5. Library story time
  6. Sprayground
  7. Zoo
  8. Bahama Buck’s
  9. Frozen yogurt
  10. Community pool
  11. Grill dinner outside
  12. Water Table
  13. Inflatable Pool
  14. Sprinklers
  15. Ice Cream
  16. Indoor playgrounds
  17. Lee’s Grilled Cheese
  18. Blow bubbles
  19. Chalk drawings
  20. Board games
  21. Play dates
  22. Summer Reading Club
  23. Dance classes
  24. Fireworks
  25. Sleep over with grandparents
  26. Nature Walks
  27. Bounce house
  28. Popsicles
  29. S’mores
  30. Sparklers
  31. Water pistol duels

hugs,

Amber

PS- If you can’t get enough of Four to Adore, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Summer Bucket List 

This summer the quads will turn three years old (SERIOUSLY, HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?!?!).  Being curious preschool aged kiddos, they enjoy exploring the world, and I’m actually getting brave enough to take them on outings myself.  Last Tuesday marked my five-week summer break from work and I thought it was time to jot down a summer “bucket list”.  We’ve already tackled a few, but have quite a few more to enjoy before summer comes to a close.

Summer bucket list for toddlers and preschoolers

library time

  1. Movies
  2. Sea Life Aquarium
  3. Train ride
  4. Fire station tour
  5. Library story time
  6. Splashground
  7. Zoo
  8. Bahama Buck’s
  9. Frozen yogurt
  10. Community pool
  11. Grill dinner outside
  12. Water Table
  13. Inflatable Pool
  14. Sprinklers
  15. Ice Cream
  16. Indoor playgrounds
  17. Lee’s Grilled Cheese
  18. Blow bubbles
  19. Chalk drawings
  20. Board games
  21. Play dates
  22. Summer Reading Club
  23. Dance classes
  24. Fireworks
  25. Sleep over with grandparents
  26. Nature Walks
  27. Bounce house
  28. Popsicles

Stay tuned as we knock items off our list.  What summer activities are nostalgic for you?  Anything we should add to our list?

hugs!

Amber

PS- If you can’t get enough of Four to Adore, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Suburban Farming

We live on a small lot, but manage an herb garden, veggie garden, and bantam chickens.

The name George means “farmer”, and I suspect that farming is somewhere in George’s genetic code. Just like his father, George has a green thumb and a love of being outdoors.  When George was growing up, his family enjoyed time hunting, fishing, and camping on acreage they owned outside city limits.  Though George knows it’s not realistic given our time and finances, he’d love nothing more than to live on a ranch with easy access to city conveniences.

Since ranch living is not in our foreseeable future, we’ve settled for “suburban farming”.   On the side of our house where the weeds once thrived, George built two raised bed vegetable gardens filled with summer squash, tomatoes, lettuce, zucchini, and onions.  A fragrant herb garden is nestled in our flower beds.  While the quads play outside, I sometimes help weed the gardens, but that’s about the extent of my green thumb and “farmer spirit”.  Any foliage at our house is compliments to George.  Even if I’m not the resident gardener, I am the household chef and I make good use of our bounty.

IMG_2035

It’s been fun for the quads to watch the garden come to life and to participate in the process.  We are working on teaching them when to harvest vegetables, however.  I have a few green tomatoes to content with right now…

IMG_2049

IMG_2033

IMG_2029

In the days long before children, George had this cockamamie idea that we needed farm fresh eggs, and he didn’t want to buy them from the farmer’s market.  Instead, he wanted to raise bantam chickens right in our zero lot line backyard.  Being fixed on this plan, George contacted the city code compliance officer to ensure it was acceptable, and much to my dismay it was.  I thought it was absurd, but went along with his little plan.  His enthusiasm was beyond measure and I couldn’t stifle it.  Somehow he bamboozled me into picking up a set of four (interesting that it was exactly four….) hatchlings and then nurturing them to maturity.  Seriously, we had to keep these yellow fluffy chicks under a heat lamp in our bonus room upstairs for several weeks and it was months before they could lay.

Much to my chagrin, I actually liked the little buggers.  Unlike standard chickens, Bantams are half the size and twice as cute and docile.  Since we started with hatchlings we didn’t know if we had hens or roosters.  As luck had it, we ended up with three roosters and one hen.  Given that we dwell in suburbia, the roosters were a bit of a nuisance and of course couldn’t provide those farm fresh eggs.  Thus, they found new homes with a coworker of George who lives on a working ranch.  Being persistent, George replaced the three roosters with three more Bantam hens who were fabulous at providing gorgeous brown eggs daily.  The only problem was the coop George built was not a run and the chickens had to be free range all day.  We felt really good about having totally free range chickens except that they were messy pets and destructive to boot.  That year we had no landscaping in the yard and our veggie garden was pulverized.  Feeling defeated, George eventually sent all four chickens to his coworker.

img_0356

When I stumbled upon these old pictures from 2008, I thought the fried egg picture was interesting…it looks strikingly similar to our first ultrasound picture when one baby was almost impossible to detect.  Foreshadowing perhaps?!?!

Urban Farming

About six months ago George got stars in his eyes and started talking about how wonderful it would be for the kids to grow up with chickens.  I tried to stomp this notion multiple times.  After all, we have FOUR kids and TWO dogs, which are more than enough to care for.  More days than not I’m exhausted by the day’s end.  Adding four more needy creatures to our family did not sound appealing.  At all.  George did not give up easily and reminded me that Bantam chickens provide fresh eggs, are nice companions, are easy for kids to handle, would teach the kids responsibility, eat insects and weeds, and most importantly deter small garden snakes from hanging around.  I was still hesitant to start this endeavor.  When given the opportunity to get a chicken coop from my sister’s company for free, I couldn’t stave him off any longer.  Almost as soon as the coop was in our possession, George had it assembled and ready for it’s residents.  I knew it was time to let him try chicken farming again.  This weekend we took the quads to a small farm and let each of them choose their own fowl.

Rylin chose a small white Silkie, which we named Diamond.  I suggested “Pearl” but pearls are not near blingy enough for our little princess.   Rylin is extremely gentle with the chickens and they let her catch them sometimes.

bantam chickens

Harper also chose a white Silkie that’s slightly larger than Rylin’s and we call her Opal.  So far, Opal darts around lightning fast and is near impossible to capture.   I suspect Opal isn’t a hen after all…

bantam chickens
Sydney’s pick was a small brown specked Cochin, that is extremely gentle and sweet.  Keeping with our precious stone theme, Sydney’s chicken is Ruby. You may notice Sydney’s eye is puffy as if she got a shiner.  We weren’t sure what happened, but we suspect it was an insect bite.  It cleared up after two days and she didn’t seem bothered by it at all.

bantam chickens

Finally, Mason picked the only black plumed bird, which we dubbed Onyx.  I think Onyx could be a rooster too.  This one is dodgey and evasive.

bantam chickens

Every evening, we let the chickens roam the back yard to consume as many bugs as possible before bedtime and the quads help us coral them when free range time ends.

IMG_2066

It’s apparently near impossible to sex Silkie Bantam chickens so we aren’t sure if we have hens or roosters, and George better hope we have four hens.  If we have a flock of roosters his chicken farming may once again come to a halt.  I’ve also made it clear that should these chickens become bonified family members, we may become vegetarians.  I’ve already had a difficult time preparing chicken since their arrival Sunday afternoon.

hugs,

Amber

PS- If you can’t get enough of Four to Adore, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

No Skid Toddler Slippers

We have A LOT of tile in our house, which tends to be cold underfoot, and I hate having cold feet.  I wear slippers a lot of the time, especially during the winter. Apparently the kids took note and developed and minor obsession with slippers. In fact, they wear slippers in the house almost daily. The girls were ecstatic when they received princess slippers from our quad buddies, The Bells. However, these adorable slippers were a bit eh, slippery on our tile. The girls practically ice skated all over the place and hit the ground a bit too much for comfort.  I’m admittedly over anxious about head injuries since I had a concussion at age six from slipping in a pair of socks on the hardwood floors.

DIY no skid toddler slippers

DIY no skid toddler slippers

After the quads were tucked into bed, I rummaged through our craft cabinet and found some Tulip dimensional fabric paint.  In about five minutes time, I dotted the paint over the preexisting dots on each slipper.  I then let them dry overnight.  By morning the girls donned no skid slippers!   It was such a simple fix.  It also works on socks, footed pajamas, or any other soft soled shoe.

DIY no skid toddler slippers

DIY no skid toddler slippers

hugs!

Amber

PS- For more from Four to Adore, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Frugal for Four

Adding four people to your family at the same time can be quite taxing on finances.  In our case, it meant income being reduced significantly with expenses steadily rising.  We went on a mission to rethink our spending and find places to pinch pennies.  It wasn’t terribly difficult since my own father is extremely thrifty.  In an effort to save money, we’ve begun making many of our most used household commodities.

Before the quads were even born, we began using Dad’s recipe to make laundry detergent.  We knew four babies would mean exponential growth in laundry and they would need a sensitive formula.  We found it surprisingly simple to make and also effective in cleaning our clothes.

DIY laundry detergent

To make our detergent, we mix 2 c. Borax, 2 c. Super Washing Soda, 1 bar grated Fels Naptha laundry soap, and 1 bar grated Ivory bar soap. We use a cheese grater to grate the soap, and store in a lidded container. We found it’s easier to grate soap that’s been out of the wrapper and air drying a few weeks ahead of time.  Use 2-3 teaspoons per load (tip: a medicine cup is  the perfect scoop!) Instead of using fabric softener on the kids’ clothes, we add about 1/4 cup white vinegar to the rinse cycle.  It helps remove odors and softens clothes too.

If you prefer a liquid detergent, check out Our Multiples Journey for a similar recipe that results in liquid form.   Also, if you’d like step by step directions, please visit The Littlest Lesnaus since Krista uses a similar recipe to us.

Before the babies arrived, we received many packages of diapers and wipes as gifts.  It was a huge blessing to us, but we eventually began to deplete our supply, and we also noticed problems with diaper rash.  Because of additives and chemicals, our pediatrician recommended we use toilet paper instead of wipes, but I wasn’t a fan of that idea.  Consequently, we began making our own baby wipes, which we now prefer to store-bought and we are saving quite a bit of money.

How to make baby wipes using paper towels, water, baby wash, essential oils, and baby oil.

Once the babies began eating solid foods, I made baby food from fresh, frozen, canned, and dairy products.  It was surprisingly simple to make, and the babies really enjoyed it.  Consuming a lot of produce meant A LOT of washing.  That’s when I started using a two ingredient produce wash.  It’s simple: one part white vinegar and one part water mixed in a spray bottle.

DIY produce wash using vinegar and water

In addition to using my produce wash for fruit and veggies, I use it to clean toys and sometimes even the counter tops since vinegar contains antibacterial properties and is safe around toddlers.  Check out Texas Tales for a few other ways to use vinegar in your home.  I started using Amber’s tip of using vinegar/ water for mopping except I add a few drops essential oil for fragrance.  Vinegar is also an excellent substitute for dishwasher rinse aid!

It may not be a commodity in everyone’s house, but popcorn is a staple here.  It’s a guilt free snack with its high fiber content and ability to fill grumbling tummies.  Seriously, it is among my favorite snacks, and most of our friends have been served popcorn at our house one time or another.  For me, popcorn is nostalgic.  I recall family movie nights with my own parents and we always enjoyed freshly popped popcorn.  When I went off to college I developed an addiction to microwave popcorn.  I hadn’t mastered the skill of stove top cooking like my Dad, but still wanted to enjoy warm, fresh popcorn.  Several months ago, I considered the many additives that likely lurk in microwave popcorn and knew there must be a better option.  I still haven’t mastered the art of stove top popcorn popping, but I remembered a trick my sister used when we were kids: lunch sack popcorn.  It’s brilliant, and now enjoyed at our house almost daily!

DIY microwave popcorn

Put 1/2 cup popcorn kernels in a paper lunch sack (large size works best) then roll the top. Microwave 2 minutes (time may vary based on your wattage, ect). Once popcorn is popped, melt about 2 tablespoons coconut oil then drizzle over popcorn and season lightly with sea salt or dry Ranch dressing mix.

crock pot yogurt

With the quads, yogurt is a major commodity for our home.  We go through an insane amount of it each day.  As in, they ate a large tub just today.  My friend, Becky, recently introduced me to Homemade Yogurt. It is simple to make and is definitely a money saver.  The only problem is we devour yogurt so quickly I cannot make it fast enough to keep up the pace.  Therefore, I only make yogurt when we are running low and won’t have a chance to replenish our stock.  It’s nice to have the ability to make yogurt even if we don’t make it regularly, however.

What are your favorite money saving tips?  Do you have any great do-it-yourself recipes?

hugs!

Amber

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Toddler Activities for Bad Weather Days

Today marked day three of school and business closures thanks to fickle Texas weather.  Another lovely blanket of snow (yes, real snow!) covered our lawns and streets.  Prior to that, we had an ice storm and several dreary, rainy days that kept us inside.  Ironically, after a few of these days I experience feelings of cabin fever (I’m sure those of you in cold climates are laughing, it’s ok).  I can’t stand it!!!  Since the arrival of the quads venturing out is a rarity, but when I feel as though weather traps us, I feel irritated.  We play outside every single day even if we stay home and we crave the sunshine here. The kids pick up on my feelings, and  their behavior deteriorates quickly.  Everyone gets cranky and demanding, which exacerbates cabin fever for me.  To keep my cabin fever at bay and behavior in line, I tried a few new activities to keep us occupied.  All are worth a repeat!

Indoor activites for toddlers when the weather keeps you inside.

1. Salt TraysMy Nearest & Dearest inspired this one (stop by her page for a few other ideas we are yet to try).  I sprinkled a thin layer of salt into Brookstone sand trays (a cookie sheet with sides or a lunch tray would work).  The quads used their fingers to create designs and also ran cars through the salt to create tracks.  It was a rather “Zen” activity that relaxed all of us.  I played yoga tracks from Pandora, which helped set the mood.

Pour a little salt onto trays and let kids trace designs or make tracks in it

2. Colander Game– Borrowing from Learning and Exploring Through Play, I used wooden skewers to create a maze through a colander then the quads took turns dropping pom poms through the maze.  They worked on turn taking and recognizing attributes (e.g. color, size, texture) for this one.  It involved maybe a minute to prep and clean up, and they were entertained about 15-20 minutes.

Colander/ Pom Pom Game

3. Tea Party- We hosted several tea parties when the quads had a cold this winter and it’s always a nice distraction.  It’s also the opportune time to practice table manners and drinking from open cups.

Tea Parties are great for practicing manners and when the weather keeps toddlers inside

4. Bring the Snow Inside– Typically I’m in favor of bundling the kids to play in cold weather, especially if they’ll have an opportunity to play in snow.  However, I didn’t feel up to the challenge again.  Instead, I brought the snow inside.  Scooping, shaping, and coloring the snow kept all four occupied for a solid 45 minutes!

If you don't want to bundle up to enjoy the snow, bring a tub inside for sensory play.

bring snow inside for a sensory experience

5. Window Clings– I periodically snatch gel window clings from the Dollar Tree or Target’s One Spot and now we have a decent collection for each season.  I pulled the den blinds up and let the quads loose with sheets of them.  I was surprised at how they independently sorted them by attributes and reassembled several of the designs including a snowman, Santa, and penguins. It involved zero prep on my part and took less than five minutes to clean up.  They played happily for about 30-40 minutes!

Window clings are fun for toddlers to arrange.

What are some of your favorite indoor activities for bad weather days?

hugs,

Amber

PS- If you can’t get enough of Four to Adore, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!