Thursday, April 17, 2014

Preschool Easter Egg Activity + Free Printable

Somehow, it's already April, and Easter is this weekend. I've been meaning to get this little activity up for a few weeks and time just got away from me. That's pretty much the story of my life, so I'm not sure why I'm surprised.
Clockwise from lower left: Caleb, Elijah, Ellie, and Abby

My kids LOVE stickers of any sort. Actually, anything sticky is probably a better description. Paper stickers, foam stickers, tape. If they can stick it to a paper, they are all about it!
Caleb


For this activity, I ordered some foam Easter stickers (several weeks ago), but this would work with any stickers that you can pick up at the store. Heck, you can even print out some little Easter drawings, cut those out, and stick them on with tape. I just happened to have the foam stickers when I was planning ahead in February.
Ellie

 Before we go any further, you should know that Ellie was extremely proud of my Easter egg drawing skills, "You are doing a GREAT job, Mommy!" Lol! She makes me laugh, because I most certainly didn't major in art, but hey, if my drawing skills pass muster with my kiddos, I'm okay with that!

If you'd rather hit print than try to draw an Easter egg, you are welcome to use the Easter egg that Ellie approved for this activity. Just click here!
Caleb

Once Ellie and I finished drawing our egg and made copies of it, the kids all sat down to color them. I always like to start them off with crayons, because once the stickers come out, they get too excited to color!
Elijah

But soon enough, the kids were ready to move on, so we brought out the stickers. I ordered the Easter foam sticker pack and the religious foam sticker pack from Oriental Trading Company so that the kids would have choices, and we would have lots of stickers for future projects. I put some in two different containers so that the kids could choose which stickers they liked best.
Clockwise from lower left: Elijah, Caleb, Ellie, and Abby

Ellie chose mostly crosses, Abby chose all different stickers, and the boys went with whatever they came across first.

This Easter egg activity ended up being a great way to watch how the kids' skills are progressing. Ellie and Elijah both concentrated really hard on removing the paper from the back of the stickers. That takes some serious fine motor skills! Abby was very deliberate with where she put her stickers which is a new skill for her! Each sticker went on a big dot in the center of the egg. I loved watching her little mind process through how she wanted it to look. And Caleb said the words, "bunny" and "sheep." That may not seem like a lot, but for him, it's a big deal!

And finally, Easter eggs are always fun, but don't forget what Easter is really about! I hope you take some time to remember what Jesus Christ did for us and celebrate His resurrection this weekend!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Little Things Thursdays: #68

This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting our family and blog!

Welcome to The Little Things Thursday!!

If you are new to our link-up, we like to take a minute to look back on the little things that brightened our week. So often we get busy and forget all of the things that we enjoy as we go through our daily lives. This is an opportunity to stop, remember, and enjoy those things! Nothing is too small...in fact, the smaller the better! That's the whole point! If you have a blog, link-up below. If you don't blog, I'd love for you to participate by leaving a comment. Ready?

1. Those Are My Favorite Chips *sniff*
This is why I try really hard not to take a pee break while my kids are awake. Because while I'm in the bathroom, they take my favorite chips that I don't get unless they are on sale, and eat them as fast as they can. That's not even fair.

And people wonder why I don't drink a lot of water during the day. This is why.

2. Multiples 4 Life
I actually find Caleb and Abby curled up asleep together fairly often. It's really sweet! 

3. Captain America Date Night!
We actually got out on a date night this week! We always make a point of seeing the superhero movies together in the theaters, so Sean and I went to see Captain America over the weekend. Those superhero movies are so fun!

Even more fun? Our babysitter OFFERED to stay with the kids for us, and then showed up with movie tickets and a gift card for concessions for us. We are still trying to wrap our minds around the fact that our babysitter "paid" us to watch our kids...anyway, it was such a treat because we rarely go to movies and never get concessions when we do. And of course, knowing that our kids were in good hands made for a very relaxing evening.

4. Abby and the New Rug
We were beyond blessed to have someone clean our house this week. While I was laid up with a broken leg, a triplet mommy friend hired a twin mommy friend to come help me catch back up on all of the cleaning that didn't happen for weeks. Well, Katy and her brother David came last weekend to help me catch up, and my house has literally never been cleaner! It. Was. AWESOME!!! On top of that, Katy and David helped us pull up all of the blue mats in our living room and clean the wood floor underneath. Ladies and gentlemen, I now have a living room floor back!

So what does that have to do with Abby? Sean and I picked up a floor rug at Walmart so that the kids (okay...and us) would have something to sit on. Abby has taken to rolling around on the floor like a cat and using it like a...blanket? She's so funny!

5. Taking Care of Sisters

Abby, Elijah, and Ellie
Elijah loves his siblings! He has always loved them which makes my Mama heart happy! Lately, he has started taking them by the hand to help them get to where they are going. The first time I saw him do it was a few weeks ago when Abby's sensory issues wouldn't let her touch the cold railing outside. She wouldn't go down the stairs to get in the car without holding on to something. So Elijah, knowing her issues, went back up the stairs, took her by the hand, and helped her all the way down and to the car. I didn't tell him to do it, and we certainly haven't sat him down to explain Abby's sensory issues! He has just paid attention and realized that his sister needed help.

He also helps the girls to the kitchen table for meals and holds their hands to help them up the stairs when it's time for bed. He doesn't do it every time, but if the girls aren't obeying or don't hear me call them, he makes sure that everybody gets to where they need to go.

6. The Wake-Up Spot
Caleb
Doesn't everyone sit in an empty laundry basket while waking up in the morning?


7. Mommy/'Lijah Day!
That's how Elijah refers to us: Mommy/'Lijah. So cute! Poor little Elijah had what I suspected was an ear infection today, so he played hooky from school and went to the doctor with Mommy. Sure enough, he has an ear infection, but he ended up really enjoying his morning with just me. After the doctor, we went to Walmart for stain remover (their clothes get so gross!) and bananas, and then went to Sonic to get special slushies. Even though he was initially very disappointed that Mommy forgot to let him out of the car for school, he liked getting all of that one-on-one attention. Mommy liked Mommy/'Lijah Day too! (And yes. He is sitting in Ellie's car seat in this photo because I didn't want to continually climb to the back if I didn't have to. She wouldn't have even known the difference except that 'Lijah's slushy cup magically got a hole in it while he was sitting there...oops!)


Now it's your turn! What Little Things brightened up your week? Link up your post below (or leave a comment if you aren't a blogger) and make sure you come back next week to play again!

The link up rules are super simple!
1. Please add the button or a text link to your sidebar or post to share the fun that we are having over here!
2. Please visit at least one other blog linking up and leave some blog love. Maybe you will find someone else's "little thing" is exactly what you needed to read!
3. Please keep your linked post clean and respectful! Any links directing to offensive posts will be deleted.


This post may contain affiliate links. For more info, please see my disclaimer page.

Do You Smell That? #FebrezeSpring

Many thanks to Febreze for sponsoring this post and making my house smell good!
My mood always lifts a bit when spring arrives!

The weather is pleasant, I don't have to wear a heavy coat, it finally makes sense again to paint my toes, and there is less laundry because bulky clothes are finally packed away. Yay!

So other than that freak snow on Monday, I think spring is finally here. While I was at the chiropractor's office yesterday, I looked out the window and saw two little birds collecting twigs for their nests. That is most certainly a good sign that flip flop weather is almost here!
Febreze has just released their spring collection, and I've already switched out my deeper mochas and cinnamon scents for the lighter Rain and Nectar scents. I love feeling like the windows are constantly open!

This time around, I'm trying a couple of new types of air fresheners and revisiting an old favorite!

I always like the versions that have the capability of alternating scents! The Febreze NOTICEables switch scents everyday so that your nose doesn't get used to one scent. I keep this one in my kitchen...directly across from our poopy diaper filled trashcan.

I really like the Febreze Set&Refresh. I've been looking for something to put in our hall bathroom, but the outlets don't work in there (don't ask). Because a lot of the air fresheners are plug-ins, I haven't found a great solution. The Set&Refresh doesn't need batteries or an outlet though! You just pull the bottom down a bit to release the scent. We keep the bathroom closed off all the time because my kids think that the toilet water is a lot of fun, so it can get a bit stale in there. It's a lot better now!

My favorite new acquisition is actually the CAR Vent Clip! I used to use air fresheners in my car when I was in college and spent a lot of time driving, but I just haven't thought about it since then. I'm suddenly finding myself spending a lot of time in the car again as I take the kids to and from preschool and go to doctor's appointments everyday. The Rain Vent Clip that I have in my car is perfect!

If you are looking for some new spring scents, Febreze is certainly worthy of a sniff!

I'd love to hear your opinion in the comments! What is your favorite spring scent? I'm really enjoying "Rain" right now!


Thanks to SheSpeaks and Febreze for sponsoring this post. For more info, please see my disclaimer page.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Ultimate Baby Shower Giveaway Event - $2000 in Prizes!

Welcome to the Ultimate Baby Shower Event!

This event is hosted by Dixieland Mom Product & Travel Reviews and co-hosted by A Beautiful Ruckus, Budget Earth and Purple Monster Coupons!

I just found out that several of my friends are expecting babies! *Happiness* Some for the first time and some are adding to their clan. With all of the sadness in the world, I love hearing that an extra special bit of joy is being adding to these families. Plus, it gives me a chance to snuggle those newborns one at a time! :)

I love that I'm getting to partner with several great blogs to throw the ultimate baby shower party! Our grand prize package is everything you need to fully outfit a nursery, and our 1st and 2nd place prizes both have diapers sets and gift cards! Three great prizes, totaling over $2000, with lots of practicality to bless new parents. Best of luck to each of you!

Grand Prize Package:  arv $1937.00!!
From Westwood Baby's Waverly line of nursery furniture, this gorgeous convertible crib is made of hardwoods.

Soy-enhanced foam-core with organic cotton cover. Includes Crypton® Clean Sleep with the best eco-friendly allergen barrier available.

This beautiful Dresser/Changing table from Westwood Design is the perfect fit for any nursery.

Waverly Bookcase -arv $375.
This matching bookcase from Westwood Design will complement your babies room for years to come!

This beautiful 4 piece bedding set includes quilt, fitted sheet, window valance and crib skirt and will brighten up any nursery.

Bring your baby home in comfort and style with this Chicco infant car seat!

The easy way to get rid of those used diapers!

The Huggies Newborn Gift Set contains everything new moms needs for changing time, all in an adorable reusable box with Disney's Winnie the Pooh graphics. It contains a package of Huggies Little Snugglers Diapers Newborn (24 diapers) and a package of Huggies Litttle Snugglers Size 1 (40 diapers), Huggies Natural Care Baby Wipes (Tub with 64 wipes and an on-the-go travel soft pack with 32 wipes), 9 ounce bottle of Johnson's Baby Lotion and a 9oz bottle of Johnson's Baby Head to Toe Wash.


1st Prize Package - arv $131
includes a $100 Babies r Us Gift Card + a Huggies Newborn Gift Box!


2nd Prize Package - arv $81
includes a $50 Babies r Us Gift Card + a Huggies Newborn Gift Box!


Good luck, everyone! 

The Fine Print: By entering this contest, you are agreeing to all terms and conditions. This giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada, age 18+.  Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary to enter or win. Other than the very first task on the Giveaway Tool, ALL other tasks are OPTIONAL, but will give you extra entries in the contest. Any taxes are the responsibility of the winner.  The winner will be notified via email and will have 24 hours to respond to the email or they will forfeit their prize and a new winner will be drawn. If you have any questions, please email marie@dixielandsdeals.com.   Participating bloggers are not responsible for shipment of prizes. This giveaway is NOT associated with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram or any other social media site. All times listed are Eastern Standard Time. This post may contain affiliate links. For more info, please see my disclaimer page.

Our Meal Plan: 4/13-4/19


If you are looking for some of the strategies that help us decide what to eat every week, make sure you check out our Meal Tip Series!

Sunday: Leftovers Tacos
Monday: Butternut Squash Ravioli, Salad, Biscuits with Honey and Butter
Tuesday: Pub-Style Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Salad
Wednesday: Hawaiian Chicken, Roast Mixed Veggies
Thursday: Creamy Mushroom Chicken, Green Beans
Friday: Chicken and Spinach Ravioli, Salad
Saturday: Leftovers

What is on your menu this week? Leave me some inspiration!

This post may contain affiliate links. For more info, please see my disclaimer page.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Eleven Hours to a Brand New Roof!

I just love being a homeowner.

Love.

Okay, not all the time. Especially when really, really expensive repairs pop up out of nowhere.

Last month it was the electrical. This week, it is all of the dryer venting and surrounding drywall. But what really took the cake was the massive hailstorm that totaled our roof.
Figure in the two emergency room visits we've also already had, and 2014 is shaping up to be our second most expensive year to date (beat only by the year the kids were born). Blah!

So the electrical and dryer venting are not that exciting, but having the entire top of your house come off and go back on in 11 hours is kind of incredible. Think about it....yeah. Pretty amazing that these guys managed to rip off four layers of old, damaged shingles and replace them in a single day.

The only problem? I was in St. Louis on the day that they replaced our roof, so I was going to miss everything! Being the good blogger that I am, I talked my friend into taking photos for me. Our friends, Ryan and Darren own Morton Roofing, which is who we used to replace our roof. Ryan has been a good friend for over ten years, so I figured it was worth asking:

Me: "Hey, uh...could you take photos of the roof since I'll be gone? This is a major project, and I've never had a roof replaced before. Also, I wouldn't climb up there anyway even if I was in town."
Ryan: "You want me to take pictures of the roof? Like what exactly?"
Me: "Like everything! It's not like you will be busy. (ha!) I want to see how the roof is replaced!"
Hehe! Ryan is such a good sport! Especially since he remembered to document the whole thing without me nagging him about it. Of course, since his wife, Renee, is one of my best friends, he would have had to deal with both of us if I didn't get my pictures.

And you have to see these pictures!

Old roof. Tan. Kind of ugly. Lots of hail damage. They showed up at our house at about 8am on Saturday morning.

This isn't part of the roof, but I want you to see what kind of damage Ryan and his team were dealing with. This is the cover on one of our window wells. Those are holes from softball sized hail. How insane is that?!

I learned all sorts of interesting things from the photos. See that spongy looking square? That is what they sit/kneel on to keep from sliding off of the roof. By the way, if you ever have your roof replaced, you need a company with a great safety record that is insured. Morton Roofing has both so we were very comfortable with them on the roof and us very firmly on the ground.

Damaged roof layers and missing plywood where it rotted through.

Okay, what idiot puts four layers of shingles on a roof?! I don't know much about roofing, but even I know that two layers (maybe three max) is where you stop adding new shingles to a roof. At that point, you have to rip them off and start over.

This is a picture of the four layers. The original roof from when our house was built in the 1950's was still up there!

Also, is that a layer of PINK roof? Good heavens!

So the crew that worked on our roof ripped up four layers of old, damaged shingles and tar paper.

Talk about physical labor! Can you imagine ripping up layers and layers of old shingles and then chucking them off of the roof into a dump trailer? That is a lot of work! I think normal people would try to avoid spending a lot of time in the cold and heat doing this type of thing, but I appreciated that Ryan spent a good chunk of the day on site to make sure everything went smoothly. Apparently he does that with every contract. There is something nice about knowing the owner and boss is personally monitoring something like this.

Those are all of our new shingles sitting in the white packaging. These guys worked SO hard to get our roof done in one day!

Even though I wasn't home, Sean made sure that the kids had a chance to see what was going on. He took them outside, one by one, to watch the roofers for a few minutes. They thought it was so neat to see people walking on top of the house!

The completely stripped roof. You can see a hole where the ply board had to be replaced. Again, 60 years of throwing shingles up there and none of the previous owners thought to remove them. I'm sure our plywood holes have something to do with that.

Check this out! You can see down into our attic in this photo! Again, don't put four layers of shingles on your roof. *sigh*

And then Ryan must of gotten distracted with doing his job because he forgot to take photos of the roof going back on. I'm not holding it against him though because he and his crew did a really beautiful job! They arrived at 8am, and left by 7pm. 11 hours, start to finish.

I originally was hoping for a dark grey roof, but after talking with Ryan and Darren, they told me that on our house, the roof would end up looking blue. Ryan suggested we look at his favorite color: Mission Brown. I really like the darker tone of the shingles. It feels warmer to me than the old tan shingles.

In the end, they stripped off four layers of old shingles, replaced rotten plywood, replaced the vent caps, put down new ice and water shield (actually, I think they did two layers of that to protect the new roof!), put down a single layer of all new shingles, upgraded the metal roof valleys, and also increased the drip edge all the way around the roof. And because Ryan met with the adjuster prior to our insurance's decision, they covered everything, minus the deductible. We now have a top-of-the-line, 50-year roof!

And my favorite part? Since I was out of town while they were working, I had a really good perspective on how much they destroyed my yard when I got back. I literally couldn't even tell that they had been at our house. No damage. At all.

The only thing that told me that they had been here, was looking up to see this:

And now comes my shameless plug for Ryan and Darren's business. It's shameless because I know they are the best roofers in the metro Kansas City area. The time lapse from our hail storm to getting a new roof was 9 days. That's fast! As the owners, I would have assumed that they'd be busy elsewhere, but both guys showed up to meet the adjuster and make sure that he saw all of the damage that had been done. I don't want you to think that they only do this for friends. Meeting the adjuster, walking the insureds through the process, and sweeping the yard several times with a gigantic magnet to pick up roofing nails is just how they do business. Even if we hadn't known Ryan at all, we still would have gone with Morton Roofing because they are people of integrity. And they clean up after themselves!

Before kids, I used to work on agent-side of insurance. One of my jobs was to write homeowner's policies and answer questions from insureds about when to file claims. So there are three things I really want you to know:

  • You need Replacement Cost on your roof. DO NOT get Actual Cash Value (ACV) on your roof. With replacement cost coverage, your insurance will pay for an all new roof like ours did. If you have ACV, then they will only pay the depreciated value of the roof. So instead of getting a check for, let's say, $7000 for a new roof, you might only get a check for $3000 and have to come up with the rest out of pocket. Replacement Cost = Good. ACV = Bad. Seriously, go check your Homeowner's policy right now.
  • A lot of people think they can only file a roof claim right after a storm hits. That's not true. Sometimes you won't realize that the roof was damaged until several months later. If in doubt, call a contractor to come take a look at your roof and let you know if they think insurance will cover it. Then you can decide if you want to make a claim. Side note: Ryan and Darren check roofs across metro Kansas City for free!
  • Be proactive about your roof. The headache gets a lot bigger when water damage ends up inside.
Hopefully those tips arm you with some good information so that you have coverage in place when you need it. As for us? We are now enjoying our pretty, new 50-year roof!


I'm thrilled to get to write a ringing endorsement for Morton Roofing because they are AWESOME! For more info, please see my disclaimer page.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Bloggy Boot Camp - St. Louis: Blog Conference Recap

About six weeks ago, Sean and I were sitting on the couch after he returned home from work. With kids crawling all over us, he randomly looked at me and said, "You should go to a blogging conference this year."

If you remember, I did attend a Kansas City blogging conference last summer, but it didn't quite fit my style (or lack there of since it was mostly a fashion focused conference). To find a conference more my speed, I would need to travel to it. And Sean knew that when he suggested that I go.

Did I marry an incredible guy or what? He wanted me to take a day or two off from the kids and offered to stay with them so that I could improve my skills. But more than that, this is how he always is with my writing and blogging: 100% supportive and excited for whatever opportunities I have. He does his very best to make sure that I continue to grow as Rebecca, and not just be a quad mom. He loves that I love to write. How awesome is that?

*so in love!*

All that to say, because of his encouragement, I did get to go to a blogging conference last weekend:

The SITS Girls: Bloggy Boot Camp - St. Louis

It was a whirlwind trip, but it was totally worth the exhaustion by the time we got back. I went with Sarah, a friend, fellow blogger, and triplet mom. We were able to split the costs of gas and hotel to make it affordable for both of us. We left at 3pm on Friday, and we were both home by 10pm on Saturday. Whew!

So this is where the story gets interesting. Earlier last week, I started to come down with a cold. The kids bring home everything from preschool. Ugh! But I was just going to suck it up because I wasn't that sick. Unfortunately, my voice started getting scratchy on Thursday afternoon. By Friday morning, I had no voice at all. I tried to speak normally, but literally nothing would come out. I ended up having to whisper...the entire weekend.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to network while only being able to whisper?! So frustrating!

But the other bloggers were super nice and kindly worked with me. Sarah ended up doing quite a bit of talking for me, including, calling the front desk for the wifi password, ordering my meals, and telling me not to try to talk at normal levels because I would scare people. Lol!

So here is a quick recap of our very short, very full trip:

Around 7:30pm, we rolled into the hotel, and checked in. The rooms were all suites, with a living area, refrigerator, two sinks, and two double beds. It was a very nice setup, and I sure wouldn't mind staying there again!

We were going to go grab some dinner somewhere, but I got a message from another blogger that there were several kid-niche bloggers eating dinner in the hotel restaurant. So we changed our plans and joined them. After dinner, we headed back to one of their rooms and hung out for awhile.
 Laura from LalyMom. In true blogger fashion she was working on a craft while we were visiting.

Sarah from OMG There's Three, Alisha from Makeovers and Motherhood, and Amanda from Dirt and Boogers

About 11pm that night, Sarah and I bowed out and headed to bed. Two higher order multiple moms and the possibility of a full night's sleep without being woken by kids...yeah, we were definitely prioritizing!

The next morning, I gave my voice another try (and Sarah told me to quit scaring people) so I was officially stuck at whisper level. I made the best of it though...after Sarah ordered my breakfast for me because the guy couldn't hear what I was saying.

And then the actual conference got underway. I highly recommend Bloggy Boot Camp. It is literally a boot camp with 10 very packed hours of blogging info. Goodness gracious, it's going to take me awhile to digest all of it.
Francesca and Allison from The SITS Girls

It was very well done with around 125 attending bloggers. For the first four sessions, we had assigned tables that changed with every speaker. For an introvert like me, it was a little nerve-wracking, but ended up being great because I was able to meet a lot of people who write in a lot of different niches. (Special thanks to Alida from The Realistic Mama, Nicole from Mom Saves Money, and Ashley from Lovely Commotion for being willing to help me be heard!)
By the time I reached my second table, I realized that not everyone could hear me saying that I didn't have a voice. Haha! So I made a sign and Melissa from Sippy Cup Mom thought it was so funny she had to take a photo. And then she tweeted it. And that's why I now have this photo.
Side note: Don't go to a blogging conference unless you fully expect for awkward photos of you to end up on the internet!

The sessions themselves were jam packed. Everything from tips to improve blogging to design techniques to working with brands to finding your unique writing voice. I just wanted to slow the whole thing down and absorb all of the experience and wisdom of the speakers/writers who presented. Such valuable info!

By the time we hit 5:30pm and the conference was over, Sarah and I were exhausted and ready to head back to Kansas City. There was a bonus wine reception after, but we instead opted for large cups of caffeine and the road. I'm bummed we missed that extra networking time, but by that point, I was SO sick. So, so sick. I just wanted my own bed.
It's pretty obvious that we both have little kids, isn't it?

So Sarah and I headed back to Kansas City and managed to get home at a decent time. We did make a brief stop at a Cracker Barrel for dinner on the drive back, and the food seemed to revive both of us a bit. The waiter at Cracker Barrel felt so bad for me (the guy was practically sitting on the floor next to me to hear my order) that he brought me out some tea. He had even added lemon slices to the small teapot to steep with the green tea bag. Then he handed me honey and gave me a homemade cough syrup recipe to make when I got home. It was really, really unexpected and thoughtful of him! And my throat did feel a bit better after drinking the tea.
I thoroughly enjoyed my weekend away and all of the tips I learned. The only way it could have been better? If I hadn't had to whisper the whole time!

Eh, maybe next year. :)
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