Dad’s DIY {Up-cycled Bulletin Boards}

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

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

Children's Art Display using empty picture frames

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

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

This is the step by step process:

DIY Bulletin board

Lay out all boards on a flat surface

DIY Bulletin board

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

DIY Bulletin board

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

DIY Bulletin board

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

DIY Bulletin board

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

DIY Bulletin board

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

DIY Bulletin board

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

DIY Bulletin board

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

DIY Bulletin board

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

DIY Bulletin board

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

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

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

DIY bulletin board display using up-cycled foam puzzles

DIY bulletin board display using up-cycled foam puzzles

George

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Gateway Church Southlake {A Spot to Visit with Tots}

Lists of places to take toddlers in Dallas Fort Worth

I’ve found that everyone’s mood and behavior is always best when we play outdoors at least 30 minutes daily.  However, sometimes winter weather puts a damper on outdoor play.  I’ve been searching for indoor options to help keep everyone active.  Thanks to our local mothers of multiples groups, we’ve discovered several fabulous indoor play areas.  Many of our local churches maintain indoor play areas that are free and open to the public.  This week, we joined our mothers of multiples group for a play date at the Children’s Indoor Play Area at Gateway Church Southlake.  Someone counted 19 children and seven moms with our group.  It was a nice turnout!  The quads had a great time playing in this cheerful, bubble themed play area.  I was grateful that my friend, Kristin, tagged along to help me watch all four.

Location:

700 Blessed Way

Southlake, Texas 76092

Hours:

8 am – 8 pm weekdays

Cost:

FREE!!!

Favorite Features:

Did I mention it’s FREE???

Since the play area is indoors, it’s climate controlled and clean.

The play area includes several ride on toys (e.g. train, ark) that do not require coins to operate.  There are small climb on toys for young toddlers and a large climber and slide for older children.

Tips:

The entrance to the children’s play area is on the north side of the church.  Look for the signs and you can park close to the entry.

Shoes cannot be worn in the play area, so be sure your kids are wearing socks.

Gateway play area

Sydney and Mason were the only ones brave enough to climb to the top of the play area. Sydney had so much fun, I had to go up and get her down myself.

 

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Gateway play area

The boys got plenty of practice taking turns driving the coveted fire engine.

Gateway play area

Rylin did not care for the larger climbing area and instead took refuge on this pack of gum.

If you aren’t in the Dallas Fort Worth area, chances are local churches in your area have similar play areas. Ask around! There are several other indoor play areas we plan to try this season.

hugs!

Amber

Lifespan of a Pumpkin {Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake & Spiced Pumpkin Soup}

This year, my mom charged me with making desserts for Thanksgiving.  My Dad, sister, and I enjoy the tradition of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, but it’s not my mom’s favorite.  In order to make something my mom would like, and preserve tradition, I thought pumpkin pie cheese cake would fit the bill.  I found a recipe for Pumpkin Cheesecake bars, but it wasn’t pie-like enough so I adapted it.

As I made my shopping list, George reminded me that instead of using canned pumpkin, I could roast sugar pumpkins for a more robust flavor.  And, better yet, I could use the sugar pumpkins from the Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch to make fresh pumpkin puree.  I was slightly hesitant since these pumpkins had been on our porch a while.  George gently reminded me that pumpkins sit outside at pumpkin patches all season and are still good to eat as long as the flesh is firm.

Roasting sugar pumpkins is a simple process, but I was thankful George took over and involved the quads.  First, he washed the pumpkins well and peeled the monogramming from them so the paint wouldn’t leech inside.  Next, he cut the pumpkins in half and scooped out insides.  Finally, he laid them face down on a foil lined baking sheet.  They roasted in the oven for an hour at 400 degrees.

he cut the pumpkins in half and scooped out insides.  Finally, he laid them face down on a foil lined baking sheet.  They roasted in the oven for an hour at 450 degrees.

The quads took turns helping to scoop out the insides.

roasting pumpkin

Roast pumpkin face down 400 degrees for an hour

The aroma of roasting pumpkin was delightful!  Once the pumpkins were roasted, we removed the skin and pureed the pumpkin in our food processor.

roasted pie pumpkin

I added about a cup of water to the food processor to smooth the pumpkin.

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Once the pumpkin was done, I used it to make my Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake.

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake recipe made with roasted pie pumpkins

To make your own Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake, you’ll need the following:

Crust
    • 1 1/2 c. graham crackers crumbs (I used a food processor, and it was about 3/4 sleeve of graham crackers)
    • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
    • 1/4 c. melted butter
Filling
    • 4 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    • 1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 c. roasted sugar pumpkin puree (1 can of pure pumpkin would also work)
    • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (you can also combine equal parts nutmeg and cinnamon)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a spring form pan, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter then press evenly across the pan.

Using a stand mixer, combine cream cheese, vanilla, eggs, pumpkin puree, and pumpkin pie spice.  Pour filling into the spring form pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for an hour.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool before refrigerating.  Keep in the refrigerator at least 3-4 hours before serving.  Garnish with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice.

I was admittedly a tiny bit nervous about serving a dessert on Thanksgiving that I created and had never tasted before, but felt confident in the ingredients.  It was a winner and enjoyed by everyone, including the quads!  I think it will be on our Thanksgiving menu annually.

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

I had quite a bit of pumpkin puree leftover after baking my pie.  I decided to use the remaining puree to make Spiced Pumpkin Soup from a recipe we clipped from a magazine years ago (we’ve had it so long, I don’t know the original source).

spiced pumpkin soup made with roasted pumpkins

You’ll need:

  • 4 tbs. butter
  • 2 minced onions
  • 2 tsp. minced, jarred garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed coriander
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 6 cups pumpkin puree (you can also use three 15 oz. cans of pure pumpkin)
  • 5 c. chicken broth
  • 2 c. milk
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar

Melt butter in a stock pot then saute onions until clear.  Add garlic until aromatic then stir in spices.  Cook about another minute.

Add pumpkin and broth, stirring well.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat.  Simmer 10-15 minutes. Slowly add brown sugar, then milk and cream.  Serve with crusty bread.

I’ve been enjoying our spiced pumpkin soup for a few days and have enough to freeze for later.  From the farm to the table, our pumpkins had a quite a lifespan, and I’m happy they didn’t end up in the garbage.

What is your favorite pumpkin recipe?

Hugs!

Amber

P.S. Now that Thanksgiving was fully celebrated, the Christmas decor commenced at our house!

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Dear Thanksgiving, You Aren’t Forgotten

The week following Halloween, George and I took the crew to Half Price Books in search of Thanksgiving books.  Behind an elaborate Christmas book display, we found a meager shelf labeled, “holiday”.  This shelf contained a conglomeration of holidays ranging from Valentine’s Day to Easter with a smattering of Thanksgiving books.  Sadly, the majority of the Thanksgiving books were geared to older children.  We snagged two age appropriate books worth purchasing so we’ve read these two at least once daily all month.

Thanksgiving books for toddlers

The Best Thanksgiving Ever is a charming story about a family of turkeys that gather to celebrate their many blessings. Naturally, their feast consists of corn.
Let it Fall describes the change in seasons and family activities during autumn. The illustrations are beautiful and capture the beauty of family time.

After our trip to the bookstore, my Facebook news feed began overflowing with pictures of children clad in Christmas attire as they visited Santa, evidence of wrapped packages, and fully decorated Christmas trees.  Seriously, this began around November 3rd.  Anytime I entered a retail establishment, holiday music lingered and Christmas products were in the fore front.  It started feeling as if it were December already, and there was an urgency to prepare for Christmas. Then, our neighbors began adorning their homes in twinkling lights.  It became such a trend that our home owner’s association left notes at homes where decorations were out 30 days prior to the holiday.   Consequently, the HOA president has been dubbed “Scrooge of the Neighborhood” by some overzealous residents.  Holiday light citations may not have been necessary, but I tend to agree with the notion it’s too early to commence Christmas activity the first week of November.

Instead of following the masses, I dug my heels in this year and refused to begin decorating for Christmas when the turkey hasn’t been carved.  This year, the quads are learning about the seasons and holiday traditions, and I want to teach them about Thanksgiving as much as any other holiday.

To give a little attention to Thanksgiving, we spent time decorating die cut leaves and then writing what we are thankful for this season.  (In case you were wondering, the quads dictated, and I transcribed.)  Since the quads have been working on prayers expressing gratitude, this task was an easy one for them.

Thanksgiving activity: have kids decorate die cut leaves then write what they are thankful for on them.

For a little festive fun, we also made turkeys from paper plates and toilet paper rolls.

Turkey craft: cute paper plates in half and decorate with glued on feathers.  Staple a toilet paper roll onto the plate and add goggle eyes and a beak.

Once we finished our Thanksgiving crafts, I nestled the turkeys into our mantle decor and taped the die cut leaves among the autumn garland.  The leaves are nice reminders of the little things we appreciate in our lives.

Autumn mantle

Add "thankful leaves" into fall garland as an activity for the family

Despite my reluctance to start celebrating Christmas before Thanksgiving, I did purchase the quads Christmas pajamas.   In my defense, I was burned the first two Christmases with the quads.  I waited until after Thanksgiving and found barren shelves!  Harper was forced to wear pajamas about a size too small two years in a row.  I wasn’t making him do it again.  They’ll get to wear their new pajamas the night our Christmas tree goes up.

When do you begin decorating for Christmas?  Perhaps you’re an eager beaver.  Maybe you wait until Christmas Eve. Maybe you’re like me and want the turkey gobbling to cease first. Or maybe you celebrate a different holiday altogether.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Amber

Personalized Pumpkins

After visiting the Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch, we amassed a variety of pumpkins, which needed decorating, and of course personal touches.  Pumpkin carving is a festive tradition, but in the Texas heat they grow mold almost immediately, and you can’t appreciate them long-term.  Instead of carving, I prefer a little paint and a few stickers.

With the first found of pumpkins, we let each child choose a tempera paint color to slather on a pumpkin.  It was an utter mess, but they had a blast expressing their creative sides.  Plus, it was a full on sensory experience; they covered their arms, hands, and cheeks before they finished.  After our little art extravaganza, I used copious amounts of Shout and washed clothes multiple times to rid them of bright paint splatter.  Thankfully, there’s no remaining evidence of art on their clothes.

painted pumpkins painted pumpkins

For the second set of pumpkins, I created a monogram for each child using the same process I used to make cookies for Santa plates.

First, I printed individual letters in 300 pt French Script font from Microsoft Word.

DIY monogrammed pumpkin

Then, I flipped the paper over and rubbed pencil over the area where the letters were.

DIY monogram pumpkin

I pressed the letters, print side up onto a smooth part of the pumpkin and traced over it with heavy pressure using a pen.

DIY monogram pumpkin

This left a faint outline, which I filled in with a paint pen. It’s very faint in the picture, but there is a light outline of the “R” on the face of this pumpkin.

DIY monogram pumpkin

 

When I was finished, we had four handsome monogrammed pumpkins.  I let the kids loose with Halloween stickers so they could leave their own flare.

DIY Monogram pumpkins

The best part about pumpkin decorating is displaying them on the porch for others to admire.  The quads beamed with pride when I let them carry their own pumpkins to the porch.  I helped with arrangement of course.

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We placed the tempera paint pumpkins under the covered part of the porch since rain tends to wash them clean.  Each time we go out the front door, the kids point out their personalized pumpkins with their “letter”.

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Fall porch decor

On Halloween Eve, we’ll carve the largest pumpkins together and cross our fingers they last 24 hours.  What is your favorite way to decorate pumpkins?

 

Hugs!

 

Amber

Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch {Spot to Visit with Tots}

Lists of places to take toddlers in Dallas Fort Worth

You may recall several months ago, I shared a listing of toddler friendly places we’ve visited with the quads.  After writing that post I was eager to begin a new list, but a compilation of ten places may take another year.  Instead of waiting for a list I’m starting a series, sharing as we go.

Last weekend we joined our local mothers of multiples club at the Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch, and I believe we began a new fall family tradition.  George had to work, but Nisey and Poppa joined us for the experience and helped me manage four two year olds sans strollers.  Here’s the scoop:

Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch

Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch

Location:

Double Oak Ranch
5100 Cross Timbers Rd
Flower Mound TX 75028
(817) 430-4536

Hours:

Seasonal from October 1st – 31st
9:00 am – 7:00 pm

Cost:

Parking is $5 and ALL activities (e.g. train ride, hayride, corn mazes, bounce houses, photo opportuniites) are included

Buses and walk-ins are $1

Favorite Features:

Our crew enjoyed running through the rows and rows of pumpkins as well as the hayride.  For older kids, there are bounce houses and corn mazes.

 

Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch

Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch

Running in a pumpkin patch can be dangerous business.

The pumpkin patch is a fantastic place for snapping photos.  During our visit it was overcast, which made for great fall pictures.

Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch

 

There are hundreds of character cut outs perfect for photo ops.  Our attempts to convince the quads to pose with the cut outs were futile, however.

Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch

Since the quads were unwilling to sit next to the cutouts, this is the only picture we snapped of them. This is a mere fraction of the cut outs we admired.  Literally every popular children’s character is represented somewhere on the farm.

There isn’t a petting zoo, but we had a blast watching the farm animals.  The main attraction? Horses snacking on pumpkins of course.

Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch

Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch

Tips:

On weekdays only drinks are sold on site, so pack snacks or a picnic to enjoy during your stay.  On Saturday and Sunday, vendors sell seasonal favorites such as kettle corn, grilled burgers, corny dogs (Fletcher’s!), and pumpkin bread.

Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch

After nibbling at our picnic lunch, these four gobbled bright, festive cupcakes provided by our local moms of multiples club.

Radio Flyer wagons are provided free of charge, you can borrow one to cart any bags, snacks, ect as well as any pumpkins you plan to purchase.  No need to bring your own wagon!

DSCN0864

Bathrooms are port-o-potties so plan ahead the best you can…I personally avoid those at all costs.

The Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch gave us a fantastic, nostalgic fall experience. What is your favorite fall activity?

hugs!

Amber

Leftover Oatmeal Cookies

Since we are feeding a family of six now, wasted food makes me cringe.  Our grocery bill is high enough without also being wasteful.  Unfortunately feeding toddlers with finicky palates means food gets wasted far more than I’d like.  One day they’ll scarf a bunch of bananas then refuse bananas for six weeks straight.  I do what I can to reinvent leftovers so we waste less.  For instance, leftover taco meat becomes spaghetti and meat sauce, grilled chicken is great in quesidillas, and pot roast is perfect for French dip sandwiches.  Some leftovers pose a greater challenge.

One of my favorite go-to breakfast meals poses such a challenge.   The quads typically devour crock pot oatmeal.  In fact, they love it so much I double the recipe to make sure we have enough for second, third, and sometimes fourth helpings of it.  Yet, sometimes there is leftover oatmeal, which doesn’t keep and reheat well.  Yesterday, I decided to try using it to make cookies.  I searched Pinterest for such a recipe, but came up short.  I ended up creating my own recipe, and ended up with rich, chewy cookies.  The quads demolished them during afternoon snack- a clear indication of a keeper recipe.

Make cookies using leftover oatmeal

Leftover Oatmeal Cookies

2 cups cooked oatmeal

1 stick of butter softened

1/4 c. brown sugar

4 eggs (the cookies turned out a bit fluffier than I prefer so I think I’ll try fewer eggs next time)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. baking soda

freshly grated nutmeg

2 c. chocolate chips (raisins would work to create a healthier version, but we LOVE chocolate here)

4 c. flour (I added flour gradually until I had a soft dough, you may need more or less depending on the consistency of your oatmeal).

bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes until cookies are golden brown

Serve with cold milk!

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Do you have a favorite way to reinvent leftovers?

 

Hugs!

 

Amber

 

Gather ‘Round the Family Table

When we were newlyweds, I was still in grad school while George was a novice in his field earning a small pay check.   That meant our apartment was furnished solely with hand me down pieces and thrift store finds.  There was no way we were going to let our nest LOOK like it was a thrift store, however.  Instead, we learned how to bring new life to dated or worn pieces.

Our first piece of furniture to renovate was a dining room table and chairs.  I can’t remember, but it may have cost $75 for all  five pieces.  The table was a classic, sturdy pedestal design with two leaves, but we didn’t care for the oak finish.  The chairs had lovely lines, but the upholstery was tattered and the wood frames were rickety.  After spying a Pottery Barn table far outside our budget, we used some paint, fresh fabric, and elbow grease to inspire our own design with our thrift store find.  This project was the first of many similar re-designs we’d tackle.

black Pottery Barn Inspired Table and chairs thrift store redo

After the purchase of our first house, our little Pottery Barn inspired table found a new spot in our dining room.  It was later relocated to our breakfast nook in that house.

Pottery Barn inspired black table, thrift store redo

The buffet behind the table was also a furniture redo we eventually painted solid black.  It is currently functioning as a changing table/ dresser for the boys nursery.

Countless meals were enjoyed around this table.  However, when the quads were old enough for spoon feeds we needed something to accommodate them.  Our solution was to build our own quad feeding table and store our original table in the attic.  With four infants being spoon fed, the quad table proved ideal.  I could easily reach each little birdie for meals, and clean up was a breeze.

quadruplet feeding table/ toddler table

This was the first time the quads ever sat in their table.  At the time, they weren’t sitting independently so I used baby towels to pad them in.

toddler table

Little dangling feet were always my favorite view of the quad table.

When we moved to our new house the quads were 22 months old and still getting good use out of the quad table.  By that time, they were self feeding using utensils and spoon feeds were a thing of the past.  Yet, we still used the table for instructional activities, story time, and art projects.

I could easily facilitate story time from the quad table.  However, the quads do reasonably well sitting in child sized chairs or in a semi circle on the floor too.

I could easily facilitate story time from the quad table. However, the quads do reasonably well sitting in child sized chairs or in a semi-circle on the floor too.

It was relatively simple to clean up after the messiest of art projects at the quad table.

It was relatively simple to clean up after the messiest of art projects at the quad table.

When the quad table was originally built, we hoped to get two to three years use from it. However, as the quads grew it became clear that the quad table’s days were numbered.  Harper grew dangerously close to the 30 pound weight limit for the quad table seats, and he seemed uncomfortable being crammed into it.  Furthermore, the quad table became a point of stress during meals.  All four of the quads could reach anything on the table, which meant they snatched food from each other (and our plates), poked each other with forks, and created numerous shenanigans.  Clearly, the quad table served it’s purpose and it was time to move onto something new.

DIY quadruplet feeding table/ toddler table

This photo was snapped the last night we used our beloved quad table. I’m amazed at how much they’ve grown.

Oh how they've grown!

Little dangling feet will always be my favorite view of the quad table.

In a pinch, we can pad the quads into adult sized chairs, but it’s not good for everyday use.  It’s difficult for the quads to see and reach their food, let alone use utensils.  Consequently, we piloted booster seats attached to our dining chairs.  After trying several designs, we realized booster seats were even more problematic than the quad table.  Booster seats nearly destroyed our dining chair’s upholstery and the quads could easily push their feet against the table and tip backwards.  We considered serving their meals at a child sized table, but that would mean we couldn’t enjoy family dinners.

Even when it was only two of us, George and I ate the majority of our dinners at the table together.  During family meals, we take time to converse with each other about the day’s events and future plans.  We take time to enjoy the meal before us and reconnect as a family.  Because family dinners are of the utmost importance to us, we needed another plan.   After dining out, it occurred to us that restaurant high chairs would be perfect.  They are easy to clean, sturdy, stackable, and include seat belts for safety.  Once I found decent priced chairs, I ordered four from Amazon Prime.

Since the quads still bash the table with their utensils, there was NO way we were spending money to buy a new kitchen table.  It was time for our very first dining table to return from storage.  However, the black paint was nearly a decade old and looked haggard.

We are gradually changing our color palate in the new house from dark colors to lighter hues and accepting them in cheery colors such as butter cream, aqua, and orange.  Our dark table was given a clean coat of aqua paint then distressed using a stain technique that could withstand quads.  In fact, we used the same color and technique we used on our coffee table.  We then painted the chairs white and distressed them with the same technique to give them an antique appearance.  The dingy crimson wall was covered by a soft gray, which effectively brightened the room.

Our accessories didn’t look quite right with the new wall color, but cans of chrome and sunshine spray paint helped coordinate the look.  And, a bold floral fabric on the chairs pulled the entire room together.  Ta da!

Thrift store table and chairs given a distressed finish using stain

We used glitzy letter decals to decorate each high chair.  Since the seat belts are adjusted differently for each child, it helps us remember whose chair is whose.  Plus, we move the chairs around and the quads enjoy searching for their new place at the table.

aqua table, antique white chairs, gray wall

Aside from the fact that I adore the fresh new look of our breakfast nook, it is working beautifully.  Since it’s a traditional family style table, we face each other for conversation.  (I should record some of our dinner conversation with the quads…they are generally humorous).  Also, the center of the table is outside the reach of little hands.  This allows us to serve food from the table instead of getting up to refill little plates thousands of times.  Seriously, with the quad table I’d get up every few seconds to bring more food to the quads and I rarely sat down to enjoy my meal.  Another bonus of the new set up is we can move the high chairs to create space between kiddos or away from the table itself (this is handy if someone is starting to make a mess with their plate).

When we have company join us for dinner, we have room for a few extra chairs so we can all dine together.  Nisey and Grandpa enjoyed dinner with us on Grandparent’s Day last Sunday, and there was ample room for the eight of us.

family dinner

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I was slightly sad to see our quad table go, but it has been re-homed to a family with infant quads. Knowing it will help feed another set of quads makes my heart happy. In fact, this family plans to pass it down to the next generation so who knows how many quad families may enjoy our table.

Where do you dine?

Hugs!

Amber

 

P.S. This post contains affiliate links.  Please visit my disclaimer page if you’d like more information about links.

Ahoy, mateys. Greetings, ladies. {Pirates & Princesses Party}

As the quad’s second birthday approached I began to panic as I fell short on party ideas. Instead of choosing a theme and then searching for a coordinating invitation, I reversed the order.  I perused invitations first, and found a simply adorable princesses and pirates birthday invitation for boy girl twins. I contacted the designer and she customized the invitation for us by adding an extra pirate and princess making it the perfect invitation for quadruplets.   Once I had a theme and invitation chosen, I discovered a treasure trove of ideas on Pinterest fit for a princesses and pirates bash.

pirates and princesses birthday party

When we choose a party theme, George and I go all out.  consequently, we both dressed the part. I made good use of an old bridesmaid dress my mom had in storage and accessorized it with my bridal tiara. George wore a few tatty items from his closet with a dew rag to create a pirate look.  As part of their birthday gift, I ordered princess dresses (on clearance) from the Disney store for the girls and Carter’s pirate t-shirts for the boys.

After our guests were welcomed, each tot was given an empty bag personalized with their name, which would later be used to collect game prizes.  Little pirates were to take a hat, sword, and eye patch while princesses were asked to select a dress and tiara.  The pirate gear was all found in Target’s party section and doubled as party favors for the boys.  The dresses were on loan, but  the tiaras were also party favors.  I used a shower curtain rod to display the selection of princess dresses available.

Give party guests an empty bag to fill with game prizes at a party

I used free clip art from Disney Junior to create labels for the loot bags.  Unbeknownst to me, it’s a “Princesses and Pirates” summer on Disney Junior.  This made finding party goods a cinch.Pirates birthday party dress up clothes double as a favorI used more free clip art found online to create signage for directing pirates and princesses about what to get.

Use a shower curtain rod to hang dress up clothes for a party or to store in a play room.

A few weeks before the party, it occurred to me that the quads weren’t familiar with pirates.  To prepare them for the party, we watched The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything: A Veggie Tales Movie and Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  We also read Unexpected Treasures from our own bookshelf.  Since I love literacy based crafts, we created a few pieces that served as party decor.  Pirates don’t generally have the best reputation for being kind and such so I carefully selected books and videos where pirates were portrayed as having desirable virtues.

Pirate and princess crafts to decorate for a party

The quads had fun making their party decorations and still enjoy looking at their masterpieces.

Princess themed birthday

My friend, Jen, kindly served as our party photographer. I have enough trouble being a hostess without also managing the camera. Besides, she’s a far more talented photographer than I! To make sure she’d be IN a picture and not just behind the lens, I snapped this one of her.

My sister and cousin, Brandi were both on board with our princess theme and donned old formal dresses to the party.  Noteworthy…CiCi is wearing my junior prom dress, and I think she looked just like Belle.

Wear old prom or bridesmaid dresses for a princess themed birthday party princesses and the queen

Matt did his best to dress for the pirate theme with his red and white stripes with eye patch.

Matt did his best to dress for the pirate theme with his red and white stripes with eye patch.

Each of our little pirate guests came sporting pirate themed threads, but our quad buddy, Harrison matched Harper.  It was adorable!

Each of our little pirate guests came sporting pirate themed threads, but our quad buddy, Harrison matched Harper. It was adorable!

Since the quads are two and all of their guests were two, I planned a few simple party games to keep everyone occupied.  First, everyone tried their hand at fishing.  My cousin, Ryan, sat behind a black curtain hung by a tension rod while the little ones tossed a fishing pole over the curtain.  He then clipped goldfish crackers or shark fruit snacks to their line for the “big catch”.

Go fishing game for a pirates birthday party.

I also set up a treasure dig in the yard.  I filled a bucket with sand and littered it with gold doubloons (Dollar Tree plastic coins), gems, and rings.  Each guest had a chance to riffle around to find a few treasures of their own.

treasure dig game for pirates birthday party

My friend, Ashley, is talented in the baking department so I sequestered her help for creating cupcakes and cake pops.  Both were a huge hit!  By the end of the party one cake pop remained and I enjoyed savoring it with a glass of vino.

pirates and princess birthday cupcakes

Ashley made cupcakes for each princess and captain, and the liners coordinated with their “assigned colors”.

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pirate and princess cake pops

Ashley hand-made each of the sweet treats served at the party.  Her attention to detail is impeccable. The boys easily made wishes and blew their candles out, but the girls were a bit more hesitant.  Rylin used a straw to finally blow hers out, but Sydney got help from Mason.

The boys easily made wishes and blew their candles out, but the girls were a bit more hesitant. Rylin used a straw to finally blow hers out, but Sydney got help from Mason.

This year the cake smashing was much more tidy.  I love how each of the  quads approached their cupcake their own way.

This year the cake smashing was much more tidy. I love how each of the quads approached their cupcake their own way.

Harper willingly wore his eye patch for just long enough to capture a photo.

Harper willingly wore his eye patch for just long enough to capture a photo.

With four tykes, gift opening was a bit like a Christmas extravaganza.  I was proud of how well the littlest guests as well as our four managed the scene.   No one protested, tried to get into things they shouldn’t, or caused any trouble whatsoever.

The quads worked well together to open packages.

The quads worked well together to open packages.

The quads are all able to tear through paper, but still need a bit of encouragement to realize there's something beneath the pretty paper.

The quads are all able to tear through paper, but still need a bit of encouragement to realize there’s something beneath the pretty paper.  With a little help from Captain Flynn Jen, Mason decorated his arm in Jake temporary tattoos as did his troupe of friends and siblings.

Set up a temporary tattoo station for a pirate themed party.

Little princesses chose from an assortment of princess tattoos. Sydney’s choice was none other than Cinderella.

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What a scene!

What a scene!

The boys immediately made use of the pirate ship riding toy they received.

The boys immediately made use of the pirate ship riding toy they received.  This toy has been among our most popular toys since the party, and is often sought after.

Hugs!

Amber

I missed out on taking pictures of our food spread, but we served toddler favorites (PB & J, goldfish crackers, fruit, chicken nuggets, ect) and paired them with cute labels with fancy names for the Plain Jane fare.  Here are all the printables I created using the free clip art from Disney Junior.  Feel free to edit and use for your own Princesses & Pirates Party.


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A Day of Beauty

Several weeks, possibly months have passed since I realized the boys needed their first haircuts.  George willingly would have taken the task on himself, but I wasn’t about to let him chop at their baby locks.   Last spring, I allowed him to snip the girls bangs and it was slightly disastrous.  His handiwork ended up as super short, blunt bangs that took months to grow out.  I cannot cut along a straight line on paper so I wasn’t going to attempt any scissor work.    This was clearly a job for professionals.

Mason's hair had a disheveled appearance most of the time prior to his cut.

Mason’s hair had a disheveled appearance most of the time prior to his cut.

I knew of three children’s salons in our area and began a little recon.  Do you have any idea what they charge for toddler cuts????  Both boys together would cost more than I pay for a cut and style with my stylist.  The bad news, these three salons were in cahoots.  The prices were exactly the same!  I did, however, find that Sweet & Sassy offers a discount on “Toddler Tuesday.”  Score!  Except I had one problem, I wasn’t about to take four toddlers to a salon on my own.  Reinforcements were needed.

Yet, most everyone we know is at work on a Tuesday.  I racked my brain trying to figure out who might be available.  Then, BAM!  My long time friend, and college room-mate, Kristen sent me a text.  She wanted to let me know that she and our other room-mate, Neha, wanted to spend Tuesday with the quads and me.  Sometimes things just work out.  I was totally stoked that my two buddies would be present for the boys’ first hair cuts, and I would have two extra sets of hands.  When the big day arrived, we all met up at the salon and maneuvered two double strollers through the glitzy salon.  The entire store front was jam-packed with sparkly fashions, accessories, and make up.  Clearly this joint is suited for the girliest of girls, but thankfully they offer boy hair cuts too. IMG_8889

We checked in and found that each of the boys had his own stylist.  Harper is generally the most content of the babies so I plopped him in the chair first.  Maria fitted him with a cape and the tantrum ensued.  Harper squealed as if his skin were being scalded with napalm.  It was horrific.  Meanwhile, our resident “Drama King”, Mason, happily sat in his chair as Morgan snipped and shaped his strawberry brown mop.  I expected that someone may be unhappy so I came armed with a variety of toys and Annie’s cheddar bunnies.  Harper was having none of it.  He continued wailing and sobbing with increasing intensity. It wasn’t long before Maria suggested I give him a lollipop.  It sounded like a good distraction, only I didn’t bring lollipops.  Maria pointed to a gorgeous display of gourmet flavored lollipops molded into a variety of shapes.  I cautiously selected one in the lightest shade, bracing myself for the potential price tag on said lollipop.  Considering I was purchasing sale hair cuts, I hated the idea of paying a hefty penny for a piece of candy.  However, we desperately needed something to help calm Harper.  I happily presented the lollipop to Harper and he refused.  Instead, Mason enjoyed every last lick.

Even though Harper was in hysterics the entire twenty minutes of his hair cut, Maria worked without missing a beat.  In fact, it was proof that there’s a reason toddler cuts don’t come cheap, these dear people are worth every penny. Once Harper’s cut was done, we unfastened his cape and the tears magically stopped flowing.  The next time we go in, we may nix the cape if that means we’ll have a happy child.  Both boys looked quite handsome in the end.  As soon as we loaded everyone back into the strollers, the girls were each offered a lollipop, and I realized they were complimentary.  Whew!

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Don't they look dapper?

Don’t they look dapper?

After his torture treatment was complete, Harper appreciated his lollipop much more.

After his torture treatment was complete, Harper appreciated his lollipop much more.

The girls waited patiently the  entire time and therefore earned their lollipops too.

The girls waited patiently the entire time and therefore earned their lollipops too.

The weather was stunning so our little quadventure continued.  Neha, Kristen, and I let the quads romp around the town square fountain.  They had a blast running freely, however redirecting them from the street was no cake walk.  We then enjoyed a little time in Earthbound Trading Co. where there were plenty of toys to explore.  Following our time exploring, we hit up Cristina’s Tex Mex because kids eat free on Tuesday!  It turned out to be a lovely day with some special friends.

Neha was impressed to find the babies can label most any animal, including iguana and produce the corresponding sound.  Mason was impressed with this owl puppet, which boasted moving eyes and beak.

Neha was impressed to find the babies can label most any animal, including iguana and produce the corresponding sound. Mason was impressed with this owl puppet, which boasted moving eyes and beak.

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What service do you appreciate even if the price seems a bit hefty?

 

hugs! Amber