Sand Bucket List

This summer, we took our first family vacation with the quadruplets.  In fact, we took them to the same beach and condominiums where my grandparents took my mother and her siblings, then all of their grandchildren for decades.  While we were on Mustang Island, we made sure to introduce the quads to our tried and true family traditions.  We also added a few new items for our future family trips.

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1. Stuffed the car before bed and departed before daybreak at 6:00 am.

My dad has always been an early riser, waking up before dawn on regular days.  On the eve of a vacation, he’s generally awake giddy with anticipation while some people are just going to bed.  We ALWAYS left for a road trip between five and six am.

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2. Stopped at Czech Stop for kolaches

George introduced our family to the Czech Stop, which is located just north of Waco, Texas.  There you’ll find a variety of fruit and sausage kolaches (the most authentic you’ll find!) as well as other tasty treats.  The kiddos all enjoyed free M & M cookies.

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3. Snapped a picture with Buc-ee

I learned about the goodness of Buc-ee’s on my way home from our first annual Quad Mom trip.  It’s a family-friendly gas station designed to meet the needs of travelers.  They have spotless bathrooms complete with attendants and sanitizer as well as an array of tasty treats, supplies, and Texas memorabilia.  If you ever travel through or to Texas, it’s a must stop shop.

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4.  Played in the sand

Of course no beach trip is complete without playing in the sand.  Sydney had some difficulty with the dry variety, which posed a few problems, but damp sand was okay in her book.  We ordered an incredible Sand-Free Multimat, which is designed to repel sand, but it arrived about six hours after our departure.  I guess we’ll have to try it next year!

5. Caught sand crabs

If you wait until dark and bring flashlights, you can easily spot and capture sand crabs darting along the sand.  The kids had a blast chasing the little guys then setting them free.  Whenever anyone in our family mentions catching crabs we all have a good chuckle.  When my Uncle Dale was a little boy, Grandma chose a shirt for him at the souvenir shop that read, “I Caught Crabs on Padre Island”.  Thanks to the family tradition of catching sand crabs, Grandma thought it was perfect.  When Dale returned to school after summer break donning his new shirt, the principal called Grandma in a tizzy due to the vulgar connotations…..Poor Grandma didn’t realize the shirt wasn’t referring to sand crabs….

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6. Visited the Bob Hall Pier

I recall my dad and Grandpa taking us to the pier at night to see creatures including sea turtles, dolphins, and sharks swimming in the sea.  This time, we visited during the daytime and instead watched fishermen reeling in their daily catch.

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7. Enjoyed ice cream at Scoopy’s Veranda

George and I started this tradition with the kids.  Next door to Scoopy’s is Snoopy’s restaurant, which is where our family enjoyed sea food on the water for decades.  We thought the kids would enjoy a sweet, summer treat more though.

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8. Constructed sand castles

Rylin insisted we build a “large sandcastle” before departing from the beach each day.  This particular one was the largest of our structures.

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9. Fished off the Red Dot Pier

My father’s favorite pastime is fishing, and he’s been itching to take the quads fishing to share his passion since they were infants.  For Father’s Day, we gave him a pair of Mickey Mouse fishing poles and a pair of Frozen fishing poles.  He was ecstatic to have four kiddie fishing poles and to take the kids on their first fishing trip.  Rylin wasn’t terribly keen on the process, but liked her “girlish” pole.  Sydney appeared bored until she reeled in a perch, which excited her.   The boys really tuned into the process and seemed to enjoy themselves.   Harper caught the largest fish of the bunch, a mangled looking dogfish.

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10. Bought souvenirs at Ocean Treasures

I fondly remember browsing Ocean Treasures with my sister in search of the best bit of memorabilia.  The kids had an equally good time cruising the long aisles for something of their own.  Harper traveled all the way to Padre Island only to find ANOTHER fire truck for his burgeoning fleet.  He later regretted his choice and begged for a submarine instead.  The best part of our shopping adventure was seeing the magestic sandcastle.

 

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11. Cooled down in the pool

It’s family tradition to take a dip in the pool after a day at the beach.  The first day, the quads were uneasy in the baby pool, but quickly learned to steady themselves and splash around with their older cousins.

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12. Played in the surf

With close supervision, the kids learned to enjoy jumping the waves and watching the tide come in.

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13. Took a cousin picture on the seawall

Before departing and heading to our separate homes, we’ve always snapped a photo with all of the cousins.  This year we had the largest group of cousins ever, which included my cousins, Jennifer and Lindsay with their children.  A total of ten kids under ten outnumbered the nine adults.

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14. Took a stroll down the beach to collect shells

It’s always interesting how the tide brings in different things each year.  Over the years, I’ve visited this particular beach many times and it’s never exactly the same.  This year, there were a few scattered sea shells but many blue crabs, which I’ve never seen before.

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15. Fed the seagulls

The seagulls are a ravenous lot.  If you toss a bit of food into the air, they’ll artfully scoop it up before it touches the ground.

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16. Snapped family photos at sunset

We’ve always taken family beach photos, but this year I wanted them to be more than just random shots.  I hoped to snap a few worthy of hanging on the walls or putting on  a Christmas card.  I charged our DSLR camera and meticulously coordinated the family wardrobe.  I also heeded Lindsay’s tips for taking excellent beach photos. I made a grave error, however.  I did not leave the DSLR camera outside long enough for it to fully acclimate to the humidity.  Much to my dismay the lens was horribly foggy.  Thankfully, George’s Samsung Galaxy 6 takes excellent photos, and was able to capture these.  Despite being a phone camera, I was able to enlarge and print several for our gallery.  Sydney wasn’t willing to let her precious toes touch the sand so we either carried her, or we improvised and sat on a table covered in an aqua picnic blanket.

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I was admittedly concerned about how the quads would handle a long road trip, and sleeping away from home, but they surprised me. We stopped only twice each direction and whining was minimal.  Of the in car entertainment items I packed, the Melissa & Doug On The Go Water Wow Books kept the kids occupied the longest by far. Our trip was such a success, we are already making plans for next year, and hope to include the family members missing from this trip.

hugs!

 

Amber


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Family Legacy

When my mom was a child, her family took an annual road trip to North Padre Island, Texas. After school ended for the year, they’d load up their station wagon and head south for 10 days of beach bliss. My Grandpa loved the sea, especially deep sea fishing and swimming while searching for sea life. His love of the beach was passed down to each of his children who maintained this family tradition. While I was growing up we went to the exact same beach, and stayed in the same condos where my mother stayed. It became a family tradition with our entire extended family.

We all loved the beach and developed routines for each beach trip. However, when my sister, cousins, and I grew older we wanted to discover new destinations besides our familiar beach. We’d still take trips to our beloved North Padre Island, but we skipped the family trip to see new things. The last time our family went to North Padre Island was 2008. Both of my grandparents were with us, and we all vividly remember Hurricane Dolly  visiting that year. I’d heard of hurricanes before, but never experienced one until Dolly. Though it was only a category 1 hurricane, Dolly brought incredible winds and more rain than I’d ever seen. Dolly literally chased us all the way up the coastline until Austin. Visibility was null. We could not even see the dots on the highway, and prayed we were within our lanes.  Miraculously, everyone in our family made it home safely that year.

It wasn’t that long ago, but our photo collection is quite sparse for that trip.  We didn’t have smartphones then, and relied on our Cannon Powershot, which we didn’t use much, apparently.

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Grandpa and Aunt Terri enjoyed the beach views from the balcony.

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We fed the seagulls bits of bread from the sea wall.

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We took photos in the sunset.

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The hotel gave us glow sticks as the hurricane came toward us.

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This was the beginning of Dolly’s appearance.

 

Grandma and Grandpa humored us when the family elected to visit Crested Butte, Colorado in 2010.

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It was a lovely trip, and we were all glad we headed north for a change.  Colorado is gorgeous in the summertime, and the hikes were stellar.

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My grandparents welcomed the quads to our family in 2012, and we captured this precious four generation photo.  Grandpa became seriously ill in 2013 and passed.

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The kids have fond memories of visiting Grandma. In fact, Rylin periodically talks about when we blew bubbles on the porch together last summer.  Grandma passed away this spring, and though she lived a full 86 years, it was difficult to say goodbye. After her passing, we all knew that it was time we return to our beloved North Padre Island to honor our family tradition. Also, it would be the first time the quads, and several of the youngest cousins would ever visit the beach.  Our family vacations to the beach are part of our family legacy, which I hope will live on for many more decades to come.

We all die.  The goal isn’t to live forever, it’s to create something that will.

This year, 19 members of our extended family made the trip back to the beach and it would’ve melted Grandma and Grandpa’s hearts knowing that our family tradition is being passed to the next generation.  Stay tuned for details about the trip!

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hugs,

 

Amber


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Five Apps That Make Parenting a Bit Easier

5 Apps that make parenting a bit easier

Today’s parents have a lot on their plates. From stresses at work to getting the little ones to school and extracurricular activities to grocery shopping, our daily duties compound with unforeseen last minute duties that rear their heads ever so often and make it seem like we’ll never get everything done. Cue helpful technology. These are the apps that can make everyday parenting that much easier.

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Baby MedBasics

There are plenty of worries to go around when it comes to parenting, especially if you’re new to the game with your first child. Medical issues are a constant concern to parents from the moment your little one is born, and if you need a bit of reassurance, Baby MedBasics will surely do the trick. It has a plethora of important health tips that parents need to know in the first year of raising your little one and beyond. Think of it as a reference guide at your fingertips for all the common maladies, including allergies, fevers, and even details on potential poison risks. It’s a great app that will definitely make you feel more relaxed on a daily basis just by its presence.

Magic Sleep

If you have a new baby, you know how difficult it can be to come by deep rest, and every parent struggles with getting their little one down for a nap. That’s what Magic Sleep aims to correct. This awesome app works as a sleep aid for infants and toddlers specifically, but can work wonders for older children and adults alike. The app recreates the noises heard within the womb to calm the mind and put little ones to sleep in mere minutes.

RedRover

When it comes to playdates, it can be hard to determine when your child’s friend (and their parents) are free for a get-together. The fun app RedRover makes it easy to plan playdates at the last minute by helping parents find fun things to do in local areas. Type in your address, look at all the fun listings that come up. You’ll likely find a bevy of social activities you had no idea existed, and get to show your kids some amazing offerings in your local area filled with learning opportunities and chock-full of fun.

Baby Pack & Go

Traveling with kids, and especially babies, is never easy. If you want to make it easier to get around with your little ones, it’s important to have a handle on your listing abilities. This app comes with packing and traveling checklists, with a preloaded mast catalog of over a hundred baby and toddler related items that you made need on your trips. You can also create your own travel lists, specify different lists for each of your children, and send the lists between any of your handheld Apple devices.

Potty Chart

The dreaded but welcome time of potty training is enough to make any parent pull out their hair. Little ones these days are accustomed to iPhone screens and often toddlers are better at navigating a tablet than their adult counterparts. Use their affinity for iPhones by using Potty Chart to track their progress. Each time they go number one or number two on the toilet, they get to use a rewards system with stars. Once they reach each level of stars, they can be granted the prize promised on the screen, whether that extra time on the swing set at the park, or a special cupcake for their success. The app also includes happy tips on how to help your children learn to potty train and stays with you throughout the process to ensure a smooth transition for everybody from diapers to toilet.

With your phone now holding a treasure trove of helpful apps, I figured it’s as good a time as any to tell you to take precautions with keeping it safe. We all know life with little ones is unpredictable, and a jostle here or a quick save there can result in a dropped phone. Keep your phone protected in an iPhone 6s case to prevent shattering in case it takes a tumble, and protect the screen from sweet but sometimes grubby little fingers with screen protectors that you can replace occasionally.

Enjoy!

 

Amber


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The Show Must Go On  

Last summer I enrolled the girls in summer dance lessons, but it didn’t go as well as I hoped.  Three of the kids regularly participated, but Rylin attended a single class (the first one) for the full length of time.  Though I sat right outside the studio door, she developed extreme separation anxiety.  As the weeks pressed on, I hoped it would improve, but it never did.  

When it was time to enroll in classes for the school year, I opted out, feeling defeated.  I mulled it over and though I wasn’t hoping for a prima ballerina, I knew dance lessons (or something similar) would help Rylin develop a few essential skills.  Since we are homeschooling it was important that she learned to follow directions from another adult and feel comfortable without me.  Because Rylin associated the original studio with anxiety, I decided we should try again elsewhere.  In fact, I thought the best place was in my Aunt Linda’s class.  The first few weeks of dance at the new studio were difficult, but Linda had several wonderful techniques that effectively eliminated anxiety for Rylin.

  1. The first two lessons were a mommy and me class.  All of the parents stayed in the studio and participated so the children could learn what to expect WITH their moms.
  2. She followed a very predictable routine in the same room each week.
  3. She never forced participation, but encouraged it.
  4. She used peers as models for new skills.
  5. She used lots of praise and encouragement.

Rylin really enjoyed the mommy and me format, but when it ended, she was unhappy and distraught.  I knew that if I attempted to stay in the room, it would exacerbate Rylin’s anxiety by inadvertently suggesting, “It’s not okay for you to do this without me.”  When Rylin refused to attend class, Sydney went alone and was praised for her effort.  Rylin was seated in a designated “boring chair” outside the studio.  While in the boring chair, I did not interact with Rylin at all and did not allow her to play with toys or read books.  After sitting in the “boring chair” once, Rylin started going to class and never threw another tantrum.  In fact, she began excitedly anticipating dance class and always participated.  Over the course of the year, both girls made gains in self confidence, following directions, and developing motor skills.  Rylin began talking about going on stage and asking when it was time for recital.  She was thrilled for her time to shine.

The night prior to recital, both girls woke up at 3:00 am with terrible coughs.  Needless to say, we didn’t sleep well and the girls awoke GROUCHY!  Rehearsal was atrocious.  Both girls were clingy and whiney.  Rylin burst into tears at the thought of going on stage and there was no consoling her. Sydney agreed to dance with her class and Rylin enjoyed watching from the audience.  After seeing her class perform, Rylin reconsidered her stance about joining them.  To up the anty, George promised flowers and cookies to whoever danced on stage.  Rylin excitedly accepted the challenge!

The pair enjoyed primping for recital and wearing their sparkly pink tutus.  As it was time for me to go to the audience, Rylin began to tear up and cling to me.  I was relieved when my cousin’s daughter appeared in the dressing room and began encouraging the girls.  I felt confident leaving them with T and made my escape.  The backstage moms later told me that T was a huge asset backstage and Rylin may not have danced without her.

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As the girls’ class entered the stage I held my breath as I counted silhouettes.  I sighed as I spied six dancers instead of seven, expecting that Rylin wasn’t going.  As the lights came on, I nearly cried tears of joy as I both girls on stage and dancing together.  These babies have come such a long way from being two and three pound preemies to conquering their fears about performing.  When reunited backstage, the girls beamed with pride and Rylin began asking when she could dance on stage again.  It won’t be for another year, but we are signed up for dance again next year.



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The girls were delighted to see that Daddy delivered the flowers and cookies as promised.

 

What fears have you conquered?

 

Hugs!

 

Amber


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Tee Ball: Season One 

When George and I were in college, a little league team used the university baseball diamond for games.   The first time we noticed them at play, we paused briefly to observe.   It was the cutest thing we’d ever seen. Itty bitty kids were scattered all over the field clad in oversized jerseys and enormous batting helmets. Parents stood in close proximity cajoling little ones to swing the bat, catch the ball, or run the bases. I thought to myself, if we ever had a little boy, he’d have to play tee ball.  Little did I know, we’d have two little boys awaiting the opportunity.

After taking dance lessons last summer, the boys eagerly awaited their chance to try tee ball. Each week at the end of dance class Harper proclaimed, “Next spring, I play tee ball!” He was a good sport and humored me by attending dance classes. In the fall, I polled parents in our neighborhood and moms of multiples group regarding youth sports.  I decided i9 Sports was the best fit for our family and enrolled the boys.  It was affordable for us, the practice and games were scheduled back to back, and the league fostered character building.

The first weekend in April our season began.   The first game was organized chaos: the kids struggled to make sense of the game and preferred to nosh on snacks or pick dandelions.  Over the course of the season, our rag tag team of tee ball players grew.  By the last game they could hit the ball off the tee and run the bases with minimal assistance.

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“Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” – Babe Ruth

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Much to my dismay, the weather was anything but springlike.  The girls and I shivered on the sidelines and attempted to stay dry on damp days.  We made the most of it and cheered for our boys.

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Each week, the team focused on a particular aspect of sportsmanship.  At the end of the game, the player who best demonstrated the weekly goal earned a medal.  There were enough opportunities for each player to earn one, but they had to earn it- everyone didn’t get a medal for being there.  Mason earned his medal at the second game for listening.  He beamed with pride as the coach hung the medal around his neck.  Early on in the season, Harper often wandered away from the game and came up with excuses to avoid playing (e.g. use the restroom, snacks).  Towards the end of the season, he became more interested in the game and started enjoying himself more.  That week, he earned the medal for having fun with the game.  This boosted his morale for the remaining games and he certainly had more fun.

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Tee ball was slightly different than I envisioned, but it was a wonderful experience for our family and worthwhile.  In fact, Harper recently asked when they’d play tee ball again.

hugs!

 

Amber


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More Fried Squid, Please

Ramen noodle houses are a new trend in our area so we decided to try one with the kids for family date night.  A foodie friend recommended Hanabi Ramen & Izakaya so that’s where we headed.  Ever since the kids were babies, we’ve tried to expose them to novel foods and encourage them to try new things.   As our crew began to develop picking eating habits, we began implementing Ellyn Satter’s approach to feeding.  Though this approach has helped tremendously and eliminated mealtime whining, the kids still have three year old opinions about food and fickle choices.  For instance, bananas may be all the rage for a week and then are taboo.  Given their three year old ways, it’s always a gamble whether they’ll enjoy something new or not.

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Interestingly enough, they become FAR more adventurous out than at home.  Our dinner at Hanabi proved to be quite a quadventure.  On the way to the restaurant, we told the kids we would have noodles for dinner and fried squid.  We avoided giving them any type of expectations about how the food would look or taste, and simply labeled it. Upon our arrival, we were seated at a cozy booth and each child was given adapted chop sticks.  While waiting for our food, they practiced pinching the chopsticks like tweezers (this was a great fine motor task!).

When our appetizer, fried squid, arrived,  I wasn’t sure whether they would sample any.  I’m not typically a fan of calamari so I wasn’t expecting fried squid to be tasty.  However, to be an example for the kids, I tried a bite, and really enjoyed it.  After taking note from us, all four of the kids tried fried squid too, and they devoured it!  In fact, they enjoyed fried squid so much we ordered a second plate of  it.  During the meal, the kids also enjoyed boiled eggs, which they’ve never been willing to try at home.  The kids impressed the restaurant staff as well as other patrons with their willingness to try atypical foods.  The chef brought them a plate of dumplings to try and the kids gobbled them.

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We don’t expect our kids to like every food they try and we will never force them to try anything, but we really enjoy giving them the opportunity to sample things.  We also want them to learn how to respect different cultures and people, and food is one way to teach this lesson.

P.S. If you watch the video of them sampling squid for the first time, you’ll notice Harper says he doesn’t like “squid that’s in the sea”.  He later clarified that he prefers it “Died and fried”, meaning he doesn’t want to eat live squid.  I’m with him on that!

Have you ever tried fried squid?  If not, it’s worth the adventure!

hugs,

Amber



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Five Awesome Surprises for Father’s Day

Father’s Day is coming up, so pull out all the stops to make your hubby feel special this year with these fun surprises. Your devoted hubby deserves to feel all of your love on his special day, and you can really knock his socks off with out-of-the-norm present ideas and shockers he’ll remember for years.

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  1. For the Vino Guy

If your husband loves wine, plan a fun winery trip where you both can taste delicious pinot noir, cabernet, and winery-specific blends. Dress up for the day, and spend some long hours gazing at beautiful vineyards while sipping away. If you can’t attend the winery on Father’s Day, break the fun news to him about your plans by presenting him with a customized bottle of wine from Etching Expressions. Tie a hand-drawn coupon to the neck of the bottle: “Good for one trip to the winery of your choice”. It’s a two-part present that he will adore and never expect.

  1. Take Part in His Favorite Hobby

Maybe you and your hubby don’t always have the same interest in hobbies, but Father’s Day is one day out of the year where all of his favorite things become all of your favorite things. Surprise him by purchasing a ticket to a game that you know he’d love to see, head to the golf course with him to whack away, or strap on that helmet and head into the batting cages. He’ll get to do the things he loves most with the person he loves most, and your thoughtfulness and selflessness will be a sentimental touch to an already wonderful day. Showing interest in what he loves is sure to make him feel cherished and validated.

  1. Whisk Him Away

Take your husband on a surprise weekend trip and get away from the stresses of real life. Sometimes we let so many other things get in the way of quality time together, and a quick vacation could be just what the two of you need to reignite that spark in your relationship. If you can’t afford to be away for an entire weekend, or your budget makes traveling just a bit out of reach, why not plan a staycation at a local hotel? Order a room last-minute on Hoteltonight.com, head there early to fill the room with decadent snacks and any other things you think you’ll need, then wrap up a hotel key card and present it to him over dinner. Getting away from home can give the celebration an air of mystery and capture that excitement from the beginning of your relationship.

  1. A Visit from His Family

If you and your husband live far from his parents, siblings, or any other close loved ones, he likely misses them a lot. If you have enough time to plan a reunion, get in contact with his family members and friends and see what you can do to orchestrate a visit from his favorite people. If you find it too difficult to get all of them to you, do the opposite and plan a visit for the two of you to go out and see them. Present your husband with the tickets and watch his face light up when he realizes your plans. Even if it’s not for a date until way in the future, anticipation is half the fun.

  1. A Special Event

What’s your guy passionate about? Is he a musical savant that knows new songs before anyone else? Maybe he’s a sports buff that rattles off stats like he is the coach of his favorite team. Whatever he loves, try and find a special event in your area that reflects his passions. Check out VividSeats.com to find tickets for an upcoming concert or game that you know he’ll love to watch, and wait until the night of to surprise him with them. Drive the two of you to the venue and watch as he slowly understands what’s happening—the reveal is half the fun anyway.

 

hugs!

Amber


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Tooth Fairy Treasure Box

Tooth Fairy Box: Spray paint a mini wooden treasure box and have your child put it on her nightstand for The Tooth Fairy. She'll be thrilled to find treasure inside when she wakes up. ©FourtoAdore.com

When she was about 18 months old, Sydney chipped her front tooth. At the time it was fine, and I expected it to remain until she was old enough to lose it.  It never caused pain, but poor Sydney often caught her lip on it and it irritated her.  When I took the kids for their semi annual dental exam in January, Sydney’s chipped tooth died and was becoming gray.  Dr. Roberts said it was still okay, but we should keep a close eye on it.  Last week, we returned for follow up and the tooth had abscessed, which meant it was time to have it extracted.  George took the day off work to manage the other three kids while I focused on Sydney at the dentist.

Even though pulling this tooth was simple, Sydney required sedation for her comfort and to keep anxiety at bay.  While waiting for the sedatives to take effect, I enjoyed snuggling my little cuddle bug.  Sydney was very brave and never complained about the process.  Even though she was losing this tooth in less than ideal circumstances, I wanted to make it special.  We talked about the tooth fairy and Sydney was excited to be the first one who would get a visit.

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On the way home from the dentist, we stopped by Michael’s to pick up supplies for a tooth fairy door I spied on Pinterest.  We didn’t find the door we originally intended to buy, but instead I found adorable mini wooden treasure boxes on the wood craft aisle.  Sydney chose a beautiful shade of pink in a handy half can size, and I grabbed a shimmer spray for the top.  I knew the Tooth Fairy would appreciate a shimmery pink box!  I picked up three more boxes so the other kids would have one for the future.


Before bed, George read “The Night Before the Tooth Fairy” by Natasha Wing, and Sydney proudly put her Tooth Fairy box on her nightstand with her tooth inside.  I thought it would be much easier for the Tooth Fairy to open the treasure box from the nightstand rather than under a pillow.  I can imagine that flying undetected is hard work as is.

 

In the morning, Sydney was thrilled to find a sparkling dollar bill, gems, and a handwritten note from The Tooth Fairy in her treasure box.  While the other three kids didn’t receive treasure, The Tooth Fairy left them tiny notes reminding them to brush and floss their teeth.

Tooth Fairy Box: Spray paint a mini wooden treasure box and have your child put it on her nightstand for The Tooth Fairy. She'll be thrilled to find treasure inside when she wakes up. ©FourtoAdore.com

hugs!

 

Amber

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Curious Harper 

This is about Harper.  He was a good little boy, and always very curious…

As soon as Harper could crawl, he developed an immense curiosity about everything around him.  Once he could walk, and then climb we were in BIG trouble.  By the age of two, “dismantle” and “destroy” were part of his vocabulary.  His sisters often mention “mischief” and “shenanigans”.  He’s keen on taking things apart to figure out how and why they work.  I love this little boy’s zest for learning and his clever nature, but it exhausts me.   Every single day I struggle with finding consequences for his behavior that will not squelch his inquisitive nature.  His most recent endeavors include:

  • flushing two toothbrushes down the toilet, resulting in an entire toilet replacement
  • pouring a bottle of dish soap into a pot of Gerber daisies
  • squirting almost an entire tube of toothpaste into the sink
  • emptying a bottle of shampoo into the bathtub
  • dumping hair detangler in the sink
  • dismantling a toy helicopter, solar powered butterflies, Nerf bullets, and a Hot Wheels track
  • doling out snacks from the pantry
  • unleashing dust bunnies from the vacuum cleaner
  • shredding magazines
  • removing flaps from books
  • unrolling tape to make tricycle streamers

 

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This time, Harper had a lesson on how the vacuum worked, but he’d already dumped it before.

I promise, I supervise him well and offer a variety of sensory and enriching activities to satisfy his thirst for hands on learning, but nonetheless, Harper is programmed for curiosity. Before going to bed, I say a prayer something like this:

“Dear God, please help me to appreciate Harper’s zest for learning and to treat him with patience and respect rather than anger and frustration.  Help him learn ways to be productive with this curiosity, and eventually use it to earn an honest living.”

Last week, Harper’s curiosity finally benefited me.  I noticed that his bolted-to-the-wall nightstand was askew.   Just before I started to press for an explanation, I decided to investigate it myself.  Though I have no idea why he pulled the nightstand crooked, I was ecstatic to find the treasure trove behind it.

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In the company of a plastic sword, miniature road barrier, Christmas tree angel, and wooden fish, you may spy a kelly green iPod nano.  Why yes!!!  This particular iPod has been MIA since October.  Many months ago, Sydney took it from the dock and seemed to be handling it well so I let her play with it, but then it vanished.  When questioned, Sydney insisted it was “by the bed”.  After taking our bed, hers, and the boys apart, I gave up hope.  I missed this iPod especially when I wrote reports at work, or wanted to enjoy a particular playlist, but really I presumed it was flushed with the toothbrushes.  Harper was quite pleased with this discovery too.

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 I can only hope that future investigations will lead to similarly wonderful discoveries. In the meantime, I’ll continue prayers for patience.

hugs!

 

Amber

 

 

Easy Peasy Party Prep

After my sister’s engagement, I knew I wanted to host something special for her.  She and I chatted about ways to celebrate the upcoming nuptials, and decided a “Stock the Bar” themed couples shower would be fun.  Courtney and Matt have a close knit group of friends (something reminiscent of How I Met Your Mother) and we wanted the entire crew to be included in a shower.

George and I have always prided ourselves in making our home cozy and inviting to visitors, and that is especially true for parties.  When it comes to hosting parties, I tend to overthink, and over plan minute details, most of which probably go unnoticed.  Adding quadruplets to our family, made me rethink how I do many things to make life easier, and parties were no exception.  As I prepared for this particular party, I changed my game plan, making things MUCH easier on myself, while still throwing the perfect party.  It went so well, I’ll approach all future parties in this manner.

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  1. Invitations

In the past, I’ve used various online stores to design and create customized invitations.  After all, invitations typically set the tone for the party, and I personally love receiving party invitations.  I’m usually satisfied with whatever invitations I’ve created, but almost every invitation consumes a disproportionate amount of time.  Again, I over think details and spend time making too many tweaks.  I’m D-O-N-E with that!  Instead, I commission my friend, Amber, to design custom invitations that I either have printed at Costco on matte paper OR send electronically.  I highly recommend visiting Amber’s Etsy shop, Texas Take when you are ready to order invitations for your next soiree.  She has several ready to go designs in her shop, or she can create something based upon your preferences/ party theme.

2. Party Décor

This go round, I hit up Target’s One Spot, which was loaded with inexpensive yet trendy items that coordinated with the invitation.  In fact…when I ordered the invitations I already spied the party goods and it helped me decide on the color scheme.  Mini chalkboards, banners, and beverage straws helped bring the party together without much effort or expense on my end.  I also bought a gorgeous bouquet of fresh flowers from Costco, which made things bright and cheery.

 

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I scored a ready made banner for $1 then added stickers from my collection so it matched the theme.

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I found this bridal shower scratch off game from Target.  The winner took a bottle of champagne home.

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3. Cleaning

Former party hostess me, would spend days, if not longer scrubbing EVERY inch of the house.  I’m talking, crazy stuff like wiping baseboards and dusting furniture in rooms people wouldn’t likely visit.  I’ve finally learned there’s a better way- short cut cleaning!  There’s no need to do heavy duty cleaning prior to a party because parties are messy (at least fun parties are).  Extra traffic means extra use of facilities and such.  I now spend most of my time touching up the bathroom by wiping surfaces with a Lysol wipe and cleaning the toilet the day of the party.  I’ll also do a quick dusting of the main areas, wipe counter tops, then vacuum.  That’s it!  My cleaning regimen can be knocked out in an hour or less.  I’ll then light candles so the house is filled with a warm aroma.  Walmart sells delicious smelling jar candles for just $3.49 each!  A few candles spread out strategically makes the house welcome guests.

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4. Food Preparation

Food preparation is another area where I’ve labored too much.  For this party, I pulled a classy spread together from ready made items found at Costco. Crudites with hummus, fresh fruit, cheese and crackers complimented the theme perfectly with very little work.  My co-hostess and mom each brought a homemade dip too.  I also bought my first ready made cake from the Costco Bakery- it looked pretty and tasted decadent.

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Chalk paper and a white pen from Target personalized the tablescape.

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I saved money on paper goods by using our own glassware.  Cocktails were marked with washi tape.

5. Hosting

In an effort to keep guests comfortable, I used to hustle around refilling food, tidying up, and fussing over things, which kept me from enjoying the party.  This time, my food was all simple, and didn’t need much attention.  I charged George as bartender, and my co-host offered to be our cocktail waitress.  We used our own glassware and silverware, but used paper napkins and plates.  Then, I strategically placed trash and recycle bins outside and guests helped keep things tidy.  I left my camera on our bar, and let guests snap pictures during the party since I tend to struggle with photography during a party.  For the first time, I really got to enjoy the party as much as our guests, and clean up was relatively simple too.

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Courtney and Matt have a wonderful circle of friends, and we are all excitedly awaiting their big day in May.

Hugs,

Amber



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