DIY Tips for Planning Parties for Multiples

It is hard to believe, but I am in the beginning stages of planning a FIFTH birthday for my babies.  It seems that I was just planning their first birthday, and here were are on #5. Guest author, Wendy Dessler, shared a few ideas for planning the big bash this year.


Each of our children is special and their birthday is a particularly important day. When you are the parent of multiple kids born on the same day, giving each of them their special experience can be a challenge. It’s unrealistic to host multiple parties and expect guests to attend each one.  But you can have a shared party for your multiples and still make each child feel special. It just takes a little planning and creativity.

 More bang for your buck

If your children were born on different days of the year, you would be hosting different parties, complete with unique sets of decorations, cakes, gifts, and of course the expenses are multiplied. As the parent of multiples, you can combine the funds and have one big celebration. For the same money you would have spent, you can have pony rides, rent a bouncer for the entire day, have costumed superheroes attend or have a talent show.

Instead of multiple cakes, have a candy buffet

Candy buffets are very popular right now, and as the parent of multiples, you can easily make that work to your advantage. Set up an 8’ table, or two 6’ tables. Zone the tables so that each child has his or her own section. Your table covering for each child should be a different color, using craft paint to write their name on the front of the cover in their zone is a nice touch. Each zone will have a theme based on the likes and style of each child. For example, one zone may be a Barbie theme, another section may be a baseball theme, the third may be all about bugs, and the fourth may be teddy bears. Allow each child to choose their theme. Buy your candy in bulk and have it sent directly to you. Each zone should feature two main colors. Create matching backdrops and you have a really great quad-candy buffet. If you need more information on how to set up a candy buffet, please click here.

 Set up the venue in four zones as well, allowing each child his special table.

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Shared Birthday = shared gifts?

It happens. People buy one gift for multiple children to share. Multiples are not unlike any other child. They want their own gift and sharing with siblings is a tough request. So how do you get around the shared gifter?

 Request a no gift party. Explain to the children that the party is a great celebration, and it may be difficult for some of our friends to afford multiple gifts. Here are some favored variations:

 Note on the invitation that no gifts are expected, but if they feel inclined to bring a gift, please bring one gift for the children to share. Then divide the gifts among the children, allowing each to open a few.

  • Limit the gifting to one gift per child per family.
  • If the children are inviting their own friends, you could note, “You are invited to Bobby’s 6th birthday party. You are not expected to bring a gift for child A, B, or C.

While some people feel uncomfortable, my favorite idea is to have a 5 & 5 party. You explain to the guests that you request $10.00 for the gift. $5.00 will be donated to the charity of the child’s choice and the other $5.00 is collected for the gift. The children can buy one item or the money can be divided equally between them.

 There is no right way or wrong way to host a party for multiples. So use your imagination and have some fun!


About Wendy 
Wendy is a super-connector with Outreachmama who helps businesses find their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking. She frequently writes about the latest advancements in digital marketing and focuses her efforts on developing customized blogger outreach plans depending on the industry and competition.


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Financial Responsibility

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Almost a year ago, Rylin stunned me when she started making her bed. I always try to foster independence with the kids, but sometimes I really underestimate them, and this was a perfect example.  After I praised her profusely and bragged about her newfound skill, Rylin became diligent about this new self-assigned chore.  Every. Single. Day.  On occasion, the other kids would follow suit and try their hand at bed making.  With this, I learned the kids could really be helpful with chores, I started asking them to do other things.

All four kids now proudly help me sort, fold, and put away their laundry.  This has been life changing, ya’ll!  Laundry for a family of six can easily consume lots of time, but with my laundry secret and the kids’ help it’s pretty simple now. Rylin asked if she could vacuum the kitchen after dinner then took it upon herself to banish crumbs, dust, and dander throughout the house.  Forget the Roomba, I have quadruplets!  Okay, maybe I might still covet a Roomba, but having the kids help is really a life saver.

 

I eventually decided it was time for the kids to earn an allowance for successful chore completion, particularly for those which are self-initiated or go above and beyond basic room maintenance.  For Christmas, each of the kids received a Coin-Counting Money Jar.  I chose these particular jars because they track the money, coins are visible, and they are easy to open.  We personalized them and put them on a shelf they can access in the playroom.  They’ve been very respectful of each other’s jars and only access them to add coins or check to see what they’ve earned.  They also do really well about telling their friends the coin jars are not toys or to be touched.

“Though small was your allowance
You saved a little store
And those who save a little
Shall get a plenty more.”
– William Makepeace Thackeray

Over time, they really enjoyed watching the coins accumulate.  When they finally had enough cash to make small purchases, we took a trip to Walmart.  Each child was given a budget based upon their savings, and was encouraged to buy something they truly loved, while leaving a little money for later.  They did surprisingly well with this task and made sensible purchases given the parameters.  Because they purchased these particular toys with their own money, they treat them with a little more respect than other toys they own.  When we later read Betty Bunny Wants Everything, they understood the importance of making decisions when shopping.

All four kids are eagerly completing chores in an effort to earn and save money for the next shopping excursion.

hugs!

Amber


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Class Full

Having high order multiples, or even just a large family, poses certain challenges. One of those challenges is with extracurricular activities, especially for toddlers and preschoolers- think budgeting, class times, transportation, supplies, ect.  When the kids were babies, and then toddlers, swimming lessons were out of the question. It would’ve been impossible to attend “Mommy and Me” classes with one Mommy and four babies. By age three, the kids were eligible for group swimming lessons, but it seemed daunting, and I didn’t believe they’d generalize skills from one year to the next.

Now that the kids are nearly five years old, and headed to kindergarten in the fall, I decided it was time. I began researching local swim schools. I poured over pricing, class times, student teacher ratio, and location. Once I determined the swim school, I had to contend with the enrollment process. With swimming lessons, the maximum class size is typically four students, meaning our kids would comprise an ENTIRE class. On one hand, this was great news because our family basically got a private class, but it also meant securing such a class. I contacted the owner of our chosen swim school about our crew.  He was able to create a class for us, but we had two wait two months for it to open, and it was in the evening.  We didn’t mind the wait since there was a small multiple student discount, and our kids could be in one class.

In order to hype the kids up about their upcoming lessons, we went shopping for supplies, which included swim suits, swim caps, and goggles. The swim suits were an easy sell, but swim caps and goggles were a bit more challenging. Thankfully, we found adorable kitten and shark swim caps and goggles in the kids’ favorite colors.

When the big day arrived for the first lesson, the kids were stoked and got dressed nearly two hours early.  Before class, they watched other kids taking lessons and eagerly awaited their turn.

At the start of class, the instructors called each of our kids by name. Much to my surprise, they immediately reported for class and hopped right in the water. Despite a history of fearing water and screaming over being splashed, they quickly warmed up to the class and instructors.

Because the class is in the evening, we discovered it was best to shower the kids at the gym and dress them in pajamas. Then, they have a snack on the way home. This allows them to brush teeth and get to bed on time, which is a huge win!


Hugs!

Amber


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Let’s Play Ball!

Last spring the boys played tee ball for the first time with i9 Sports.  Overall it was a good experience, but I didn’t know if they’d want to play again and I wasn’t going to force it.  After all, their first attempt was primarily for exposure to team sports.  Sometime in the fall, both boys started asking when they could play again.   Technically there is a fall tee ball season, but in Texas it’s about 200 degrees outside until November and that’s too HOT.  I promised them spring tee ball.

Much to the boys’ delight, the spring tee ball season started a couple of weeks ago.  Expecting more dandelion picking and snack munching, I was floored by the boys’ growth.  So far, they’ve stayed with the team, followed the coach’s directions, and paid attention to the entire game.  Folks, these guys are actually playing baseball!!!

Don’t get me wrong, they still need plenty of parental support, but they are far more independent than the toddlers who tried tee ball last year.  They have cleats this year, which they believe help them “run fast!!!”.

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Mason won the medal for “Positive Attitude” last week.  After striking out numerous times he continued to persevere until he made contact with the ball and ran the bases independently.  This mama could not have been more proud of him.   Each week, I notice more progress and it makes my heart beam.

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There may be people that have more talent than you,

but there is no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.

-Derek Jeter

 

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Hugs!

 

Amber

 

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Road Tripping: Springfield, MO

When the quads were infants, George’s cousin and his wife came to visit from Missouri.  Unfortunately, we hadn’t seen them in person since.  Life with quads was busy, and they too found themselves busy with life.   A seven hour road trip with four babies never sounded like a good idea.

After our first successful road trip last summer, we decided to take the quads on a spring break road trip- to Missouri.  They were ecstatic!  For weeks they asked when we were going to Missouri, and what states they’d see en route (primarily Oklahoma, and a step into Kansas).  On our way through Oklahoma we decided to skip familiar fast food chains for lunch in favor of something local.  Siri didn’t steer us wrong when she suggested The Chicken Shack off Route 66 in Luther, Oklahoma.  Everything was made to order and delicious.  The kids thought it was fun driving along Route 66 like Lightening McQueen too.

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The kids traveled really well, but were thrilled when we reached our destination and they got to meet their cousins.

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Being the “Show Me State”, Missouri boasts numerous scenic, natural activities.  We planned on exploring the great outdoors and taking the kids on a hike through the Ozarks (their first time in the mountains).  The weather ended up being less than ideal for anything outdoors, especially for Texans who didn’t pack adequate winter attire.  The temperature was below freezing and it snowed enough to keep us inside, but not enough for snow play.   Besides enjoying the company of our cousins, we found plenty to do in Springfield.

The World’s Largest Fork

Okay, we didn’t get out of the car for this one because it was freezing and snowing, but the kids got a kick out of seeing the World’s Largest Fork.  It’s an impressive 35 feet tall and 11 tons!

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Bass Pro Shops

Admittedly, I was not excited about visiting the Bass Pro shops since we have them in Texas, and I’ve been.  I learned, however, that Springfield is home to the original Bass Pro Shop and is known as the “Granddaddy” of them.  It is notably larger than the others and includes numerous family-friendly wildlife attractions, shows, museums, and other activities.  Even if you’ve seen a Bass Pro Shop elsewhere, it’s worth stopping by the Springfield store.  Best of all- it’s FREE!


Discovery Center

The Discovery Center was the highlight of Missouri for the kids.  We were able to use our museum passes from home for free admission with to the ASTC travel passport program.  At the Discovery Center, the kids enjoyed exploring numerous hands-on activities and learning about the five senses with larger than life displays.

 

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Lambert’s Café 

Lambert’s isn’t just a restaurant, it’s an experience.  Due to it’s popularity, the wait time for a table is usually at least an hour, but it’s worthwhile!  Lambert’s serves up southern comfort food with family style sides.  They are best known for their scrumptious warm rolls, which aren’t handed to you.  They are thrown!  That’s right, if you want a roll with your dinner, you’ll have to catch it, or hope someone will share with you.  Harper attempted catching a roll with his t-ball skills, but discovered it was a tad hot for him.

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Fantastic Caverns 

The Missouri landscape conceals thousands of caverns, many of which are open for tourists.  Given the age of our kids, we decided to visit the Fantastic Caverns, which is America’s only ride through cavern.  We learned about the history of the cavern, conservation, and experienced complete darkness.  Following the tour, we were happy the kids found affordable souvenirs in the gift shop ($2-10 each).

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Hurts Donut Company

Though there are other locations, Hurts Donut Company opened it’s first shop in Springfield, and

there’s always something fun about visiting the original.  We enjoy donuts for breakfast on Saturday mornings, but these are better served as dessert.  At Hurts Donut Company, you’ll find a wide assortment of cake donuts slathered in delectible frosting and sprinkled with everything from familiar candies to cookies.

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We had a great time in Springfield, and look forward to returning when we can enjoy the great outdoors!  If you ever pass through Springfield, or stop for a while, maybe you can visit one of our destinations.

 

hugs!

 

Amber


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


 

O’ Christmas Trees

Before our wedding, my cousins hosted an ornament shower in my honor.  I received a gorgeous collection of ornaments reflecting the love of our friends and family.  George and I bought a lovely prelit tree for our apartment and it was bursting with gifted ornaments. The tree was the perfect size for our cozy apartment.  We moved that tree to our first house, and then to our next house. Our perfect little tree somehow seemed dwarfed in a house with a larger den and higher ceilings.  Nonetheless, our tree adorned with ribbon and ornaments and looked pretty.

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Last year the lights finally stopped working so we added strands of lights and pined for a taller prelit tree.  Before decorating this year, we snagged a nine foot slim tree on black Friday. The new tree has a very small footprint in the den so we have plenty of space and it draws the eye all the way up to the ceiling.  This tree is filled primarily with shatterproof ornaments since it’s in our main living area and the kids helped decorate it.  Despite being kid friendly, I think it’s gorgeous!

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Since our original tree was in decent condition, moved it to the front room so there’d be a tree in the window.  We had plenty of heirloom and handmade ornaments to fill this tree and it serves as a Christmas card display.  I really appreciate receiving Christmas cards and each year try to find a new way to display them.  I think this is my favorite so far.  The kids often slip into the study to admire the ornaments and to check out the cards.  They especially like seeing the ornaments with their tiny baby handprints on them and others they painted.

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In addition to our large trees, the kids have miniature trees in their rooms.  The girls chose a sparkling pink tree, while the boys inherited my old silver one with vintage ornaments from my childhood.  All four kids took great pride in filling their own trees and have not bothered them since we finished decorating.  A year ago, the boys’ tree would have been pulverized, but this year they enjoy looking at it and showing it to house guests.  It’s amazing the difference a year makes.

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How many Christmas trees do you have?

 

hugs!

 

Amber


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


 

A Fancy Nancy Banquet

 

 

Before Thanksgiving, we borrowed Fancy Nancy: Our Thanksgiving Banquet from the library.  Fancy Nancy is among our favorite book characters.  She inspires the kids to use sophisticated vocabulary words and to behave with their best etiquette. In this particular book, Nancy has the opportunity to dine with the adults, away from the “kid” table.  Naturally, our kids wanted to do the same.  Just before packing away our fall decor, we decided to have a family dinner in our formal dining room with ceramic plates instead of our usual plastic fare.  The kids relished every second of it, and we were pleasantly surprised with their outstanding table manners.

When I set the table for Thanksgiving, I realized the table stayed pretty all season and didn’t collect junk.  I wanted to do the same with Christmas décor, so I set out to create an elegant Christmas tablescape.  George and I have twelve place settings of fine china, flatware, and crystal.  Over the course of our marriage, we’ve used it on special occasions such as anniversaries and holiday meals.  In twelve years we’ve probably used them no more than once a year.  Why?  Mostly because I don’t like hand washing dishes and our china isn’t dishwasher safe.  That’s ridiculous.  I decided that not only was our dining room table going to be set using our fine china, but we were also going to use it!

I gave the chandelier my usual dressing, garland adorned with my Old World Christmas Wedding Ornaments.  They are among my favorite ornaments, but are also quite delicate and are best away from little hands.  I then created a table runner with lime deco mesh, which I brightened with hurricane glass filled with candles and silver ornaments.  I thought our silver plated nativity was the perfect finishing touch and compliment to our china.

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We’ve already used the formal dining room twice this month and hand washing the dishes wasn’t such a hassle either time.  First, we celebrated my mom’s birthday with my parents, sister, and brother in law.  There was room for all ten of us at the table, and even the quads were allowed to use the china.   Then, my college room mates joined us for brunch.  On each occasion, our guests presumed the beautiful table was for show, and felt honored when they discovered it was for them.  If a milestone birthday and nearly two decades of friendship aren’t worthy of china dining, I don’t know what is.

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I’m not sure whether we’ll have more guests over before Christmas or not, but our table is gorgeous and awaiting another meal.  Even if we don’t have guests over, our family will enjoy it at least once more before I come up with a winter tablescape.

Do you have a formal dining area or fine china?  Do you use it?

hugs!

Amber


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In Celebration of Fall

I really love fall with it’s crisp weather, lingering pumpkin spice scent, and rich traditions.  This year Texas weather has been insanely warm hot so it’s been a little harder for me to get in the fall spirit.  Seriously, my kids were wearing shorts last week and the air conditioner has been running.  Nonetheless, I filled our home with warm fall décor in hopes fall would one day appear.  We aren’t hosting Thanksgiving this year, but I decided to set our new dining table anyways.  It was begging for a little splash of fall.  Since having the table fully decorated, I realized it stays looking pretty and never collects random items like usual.  From here on out, I think I’ll have to keep seasonal tablescapes out.

On the table, I pulled together an assortment of glass hurricanes and filled them with items I had including cranberries, wine corks, and coffee beans (the aroma is fabulous).  Deco mesh and heirloom monogrammed chargers completed my table scape.  To fully enjoy our fall table, we may have a family dinner there this week.  I’m certain the kids would enjoy a “fancy” meal. img_3457

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I kept the entry way simple with a collection of antique books, a fresh pumpkin, a framed fall printable (a gift from my friend, Amber), and a pumpkin spice candle.  Did I mention I adore pumpkin spice?!?!  Even with summer like heat, the scent feels like fall.

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This was the first year the kids each chose their own Halloween costume and weren’t part of a theme.  Long before Halloween arrived, they determined exactly what they would wear and proudly stood out as individuals- Rainbow Dash, a pirate, Rapunzel, and Spider-Man.  George and I pulled together coordinated costumes, however.   Complete with bowl cut wig and fitted red pants, George dressed as Howard Wolowitz while I was his wife, Bernadette from the Big Bang Theory.

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Though the kids celebrated their fourth birthday this summer, we still hadn’t taken four year photos.  We decided it was better late than never so we staged a fall DIY photo shoot.  One of the kiddos (I won’t name names…) may not have cooperated with my Pinterest-y clothing scheme, but we managed to get some great shots and had fun taking them.

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The individual photos capture each child’s personality perfectly…

 

Happy fall, ya’ll!

 

hugs,

 

Amber



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Slow Cooker Meal Roundup

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After our babies were born, meals were one of the most needed, and appreciated gifts we received.  Having multiple infants at home meant providing around the clock care, which left very little time for our own self care.  Simple things like a hot shower or warm cup of coffee became luxuries and having a nice meal together was a rarity.  When someone delivered a meal, we were oh-so gracious.  After our gifted meals were depleted, I was faced with the challenge of putting a decent meal on the table.  Out of necessity, I learned how to cook more than queso in a slow cooker. With a lot of trial and error, I rounded up a handful of our own family’s favorite slow cooker meals, which I typically prep as freezer meals.

To pay it forward, freezer meals are now our go-to gift for families welcoming new babies.  Rather than sending a cooked meal, I add all the raw ingredients into a gallon Ziploc bag and freeze it. Then, when the family is ready to use the meal, they can add it to their slow cooker.  To make a complete meal, I also send a whole grain and steam in bag vegetables.  Everything is packaged in a plastic bag with a label, directions, and use by date (three months after prep).  Before prepping freezer meals as gifts, I always check with the family dietary restrictions and preferences. If you’re looking for some tasty, easy to prep meals for yourself or to gift to others, give our favas a whirl!  The last batch of meals I prepped took me 90 minutes and I ended up with 10 meals (half for our family and half to share).

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Chicken Taco Bowls

  • 2-3 chicken breasts
  • 1 can Rotel (mild if your family is sensitive to spice)
  • 1 t. minced jar garlic
  • 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed & drained
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • ½ Tbsp cumin
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 t black pepper.

Cook on low 4-6 hours, or high 2-3 hours.  Shred chicken with a fork.  Serve over long grain rice and garnish with shredded cheddar, sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt), and salsa.  Or, make tacos instead!

**This recipe is good for families on dairy free (without garnish) and gluten free diets.

Adapted from Budget Bytes

Curry Chicken

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  • 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 6 oz can of tomato paste
  • 13.5oz can of coconut milk
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 2 cups of frozen mixed vegetables
  • 14.5oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp minced jarred garlic
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  •  2 tbs. curry powder
  •  1 tsp. salt
  •  1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (adjust heat as needed)

Cook on low 4-6 hours or high 2-3 hours.  Serve over basmati rice or with naan.

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** I like this recipe for families on dairy or gluten free diets.  You can omit the chicken and add chickpeas for a vegetarian version.

Adapted from from New Leaf Wellness

Orange Chicken

  • 2-4 skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup  orange marmalade
  • 1 cup barbeque sauce
  • 3 tbsp. soy sauce

Cook on low 4-6 hours or high 2-3 hours. Serve over steamed brown rice with Asian stir fried vegetables.

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Adapted from the Frugal Girls

Creamy Pesto Chicken

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  • 2-3 chicken breasts
  • 1 cup pesto
  • 3 Tbs. Ranch dressing mix
  • 1 cup water + 1 tsp. Better than Bullion OR 1 cup chicken broth
  • 8 oz. cream cheese cubed
  • 1 small package of frozen broccoli florets (reserved)

Cook on low 4-5 hours or high 2-3 hours.  Shred chicken then add frozen broccoli and cook an additional hour.  Serve over long grain rice pasta.

**Avoid this meal for families with tree nut allergies.  For a lower fat version, substitute 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt for cream cheese.

Adapted from The Picky Palate

White Chicken Chili

  • 2-3 chicken breasts
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 2 cans white beans (drained)
  • 1 can mild Rotel
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2-3 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper

Cook on low 4-6 hours or high 2-3 hours.  Shred chicken.  Garnish with sour cream, shredded cheese, and green onion.  Serve with cornbread, tortillas, or tortilla chips.

Adapted from Texas Tales 

Italian Chicken

  • 2-3 chicken breasts
  • 8 oz. cream cheese cubed
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 1 package of Zesty Italian dressing mix

Cook on low 4-6 hours or high 2-3 hours.  Serve over pasta with a salad or steamed green beans.

Adapted from  Stick a Fork in It.

We are currently in a season of welcoming new babies, but freezer meals also make excellent gifts for families grieving a loss, following a hospitalization or surgery, etc..  A homemade meal is a wonderful gesture to warm a friend’s heart.

 

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For other slow cooker and simple meal ideas, check out my slow cooker meals board and Mom & Kid Approved Meals board (this board consists of meals vetted by fellow moms of multiples) on Pinterest.

hugs,

 

Amber

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