Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Little Things Thursdays: #94

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. Busy Books
While on our weekend getaway a week and a half ago, Sean and I stopped by Barnes and Noble. Sean had some gift cards he'd been saving up, and he ended up spending them on four busy books for the kids. Each book included a story, a fold-out play scene, and 8-10 small figures. 
Abby got Princess Sophia, and Ellie got Frozen

Elijah got Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and Caleb got Hot Wheels

They have played with these non-stop since we brought them home! I like seeing their little imaginations work as they use the figurines in their play scenes!

2. Well, This Looks Familiar
They don't remember it, but my kids were hooked up to a pulse oximeter for the first 4-9 months (depending upon which kid we are talking about) of their lives. It's old hat for them! 

My poor mother-in-law ended up in the hospital, and we went up to see her. While we were there, the nurse came in to take vitals on her. My kids ended up being fascinated by the pulse oximeter that she was using on their grandma, and they each wanted to have their own turn. The nurse was really sweet and let them each put their finger in it to see the numbers pop up. Oh, if only they knew how much we fought with wires and cords when they were infants!


3. Taco Eater
I'm proud to say that I'm raising this girl right! Since I grew up in New Mexico, tacos were a regular part of my childhood...and they are also a regular part of our dinner rotation now. While the other kids are still mostly eating their taco filling with a spoon, Ellie has decided that the only proper way to eat a taco is to actually eat the filling inside a tortilla. She is a tiny little girl, but she can put away more tacos than I can! It's totally a selective appetite, but at least my tacos make the cut!

4. She's a Helper, or Something Like a Helper
This age really isn't about getting things done efficiently. I have to remind myself of that constantly. But what it really is good for is seeing the budding spirits of our kids.

The other night, Sean was sweeping up after dinner, and Abby wanted to help. Her version of helping was grabbing the empty Swiffer Sweeper, and pushing Daddy's nicely made pile all over the dining room floor again. I loved that Sean was so nice to let her "help" and that Abby wanted to jump right in and try to assist with after dinner clean-up. It was really sweet to see them working together!

5. The Handmade Ones are the Best
The Christmas that Sean and I were engaged, my mother-in-law made this beautiful handmade afghan for me in my favorite color. For the past seven years, it has sat on my bed year around. This week, I took it on a new adventure. It was SO cold here in Missouri that the bones in my hands were actually hurting. I had to run errands, so I took it with in the car and even brought it into my chiropractor's office with me. Let's just say that although it is beautiful, it's also highly functional! Taking it in the car was the best idea! I have a feeling it will be making more errand runs with me in the future!


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.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Weekend Getaway 2014

Last weekend, Sean and I had the chance to get away.

I'm talking, a full-out, no kids, tons of sleep getaway.

It was AWESOME!

About 18 months ago, we had a getaway (which was also awesome!), so we were very eager to have another chance to recharge from our parenting role. Parenting is an honor...and also exhausting. Breaks are always much appreciated!

So for my 30th birthday (yes, I'm now in my 30's), my mom offered to stay overnight with our kids so that we could have a mini vacation. I took that opportunity to ask our good friend, Miss Jo, if she would be willing to take a second night so that Sean and I could have the full weekend to ourselves. Between my parents and Miss Jo, the weekend was well covered, and we had nothing to worry about. We are so very grateful for such kindness!

Like last summer, we chose to just stay local for our getaway. We headed to North Kansas City where I found a great rate on a hotel. It was far enough away to make it hard to run back home if we forgot something, but close enough that we could get there in about an hour if there was an emergency.

It was a good location, especially since our hotel came with a free breakfast! It wasn't just any breakfast either. They had hot skillet sandwiches, pancakes, french toast, biscuits and gravy, pastries, parfait bar, etc. For a free breakfast, it was quite the spread! And the room itself was actually a suite with a separate living area and wet bar. I got it for only $89 per night! Yeah, go ahead and be impressed! ;)
We used the same strategy for this getaway that we used last time. We saved up our gift cards so that we could really live it up without having to spend too much out of pocket. That is totally the way to go!

The first night, we checked into our hotel and headed to Hereford House for dinner. Believe it or not, in the 13 years I've lived in Kansas City, I've never been to a Hereford House. Crazy, right? So we headed over there and had their awesome 4 Course Dinner for Two. Yummy! The best part was that we had gift cards to cover the whole thing. :)

We were pretty much exhausted after that though. Steak dinners will do that to a person, so we headed back to the hotel, watched the end of The Hangover, and crashed hard. We managed to get 10 glorious, uninterrupted hours of sleep that night. No kids crawling into bed with us. No early "I have to go potty!" emergencies from 3-year-olds. Nothing. Sleep is probably my most favorite thing at this point in my life. It's so underrated with preschoolers.

After that we headed to Zona Rosa for some shopping! We stopped by a great little store called Heavenly Oils and Vinegars and did the equivalent of wine tasting...only with high quality, flavored oils and vinegars. We are now the proud owners of Tuscan Herb Olive Oil, Blood Orange Olive Oil, 18 year Balsamic Vinegar, and Cinnamon Pear Vinegar. Looking forward to cooking and making salad dressing with those!
We also did a bit of Christmas shopping and "Congrats kids, you were good while we were gone. Have a book" shopping at Barnes and Noble. Again, using gift cards that Sean had tucked away.
Also, if you are wondering, you can now pick up the 2015 Hot Guys and Baby Animals Calender (seriously, who buys this stuff?!)
So here is a fun story about Sean and his underwear. Just to get it out there, he DID say that I could post this, so he isn't being blindsided by it.

Sean has a tendency to either only remember his underwear or forget it all together. The weekend after we got married, we just stayed in the KC area to save money. The evening that we got to our hotel, Sean opened his bag and realized that the only thing that he had packed was...underwear. Nothing else. Yeah, imagine finding out that's all your hubby has on your wedding night. LOL!

So we got to our hotel last weekend, and he opened his bag to find that while he managed to remember everything he forgot that first time, he managed to leave all of his underwear at home.

I suppose the obvious thing that I should glean from this is that I need to start packing for him, but it's way more fun to find out what has made it into the bag. Hehe!

So Walmart was definitely on the list of places we needed to stop at while away on our weekend. We weren't going to drive all the way home for underwear.

We did find a couple of other interesting/cool things while we were there though! I've decided that Baby Ruth's are going to be my new breakfast protein bar!
And Sean found two superhero costumes on clearance for $1.67 each.  
Then we went back to the hotel for a nap. True story. When you are parents, you sleep if you have the opportunity. Lol! We were planning to have a fun evening out on the town, so we wanted to be able to stay awake long enough to enjoy it!

We went to McCormick and Schmick's on the plaza for dinner. It is probably my very favorite restaurant in Kansas City, so it's a real treat to get to go there! We also got the famous Chocolate Bag for dessert. You seriously have to see this thing in real life to believe it! It's literally a chocolate bag, filled with white chocolate mouse, fresh berries, and a raspberry reduction sauce. And it tastes even better than it sounds. Holy moley!

We went from there to catch a 10:30pm movie. We rarely go to movies anyway, but one that late? Definitely not since our pre-kids days! We saw the new Gone Girl movie. It was actually a pretty close adaptation of the book and not half bad. I wasn't a big fan of the lead actress who played Amy though. Her acting felt stiff the whole time. Maybe I'm the only person who thinks that though.

More sleep, hotel breakfast, and we stopped by IKEA to satisfy my curiosity. I hadn't been before and everyone was raving about it, so I asked if we could see what was there. It was fun...but way overwhelming. So many people and so much stuff. Goodness gracious! Lunch was a quick one at my favorite Mexican food restaurant, and we headed home to see the kids.

The kids had a GREAT time while we were gone! My parents took them out to Winstead's (like a Steak and Shake) for lunch on Saturday, and Miss Jo swung them through the McDonald's drive through for McGriddles for breakfast on Sunday. Not to mention all of the fun they had at home. I think they were happy to see us, but I don't think they missed us too much while we were gone. :)

BIG, BIG, BIG thanks to my parents and Miss Jo for letting us getaway! It was so nice to have LOTS of sleep, be able to eat our meals while they were still warm, and get a chance to reconnect and have conversations that are so hard to make time for in the busyness of life. Yay!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Preemies and the Importance of RSV Prevention

“I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for MedImmune. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.”

Preemies will forever be close to my heart.

Our kids may be out of the NICU and running rampant around our house now, but living through those early premature days is something that I will never forget. Born at 27 weeks, 6 days, the NICU has left an emotional scar that can pop up at unexpected times.The fear. The exhaustion. Their tiny bodies. Knowing that I couldn't do much to help them.
Caleb

The truth is that the effects of prematurity don't end when babies leave the hospital. It's a long hard road to the point where kids are able to function as normal, healthy, full-term babies. And we still aren't there yet.

World Prematurity Day is coming up on November 17th, and I think it's important to revisit a few preemie facts. It's not an easy road for families who are walking the path, but you can help make it a little easier for them by being in the know!
Abby

This year, I want to focus on one the scariest prospects for us when we brought out kids home:



RSV is a very common seasonal virus that typically shows up between November and March every year. It is so prevalent, that most children deal with the virus by the time they reach age 2. It really isn't a big deal in kids who are healthy, full-term individuals, and the virus simply manifests as a common cold, but to preemies, RSV can be deadly. Approximately 125,000 infants are hospitalized every year, with about 200 deaths occurring from it. And preemies are twice as likely to end up in the hospital from it. Amazingly enough, many parents have never even heard of RSV!
Elijah

RSV is so contagious. It's spread by the normal coughing, sneezing, touching that help spread the common cold. The virus lives for hours on skin and surfaces, so it makes it even easier to contract, and once you have it, there is no treatment. The best way to fight RSV is to prevent it.
Ellie

The good news is that you can help reduce the spread of the disease by taking some precaution. These are all things that we did when our kids came home from the NICU in an effort to protect them:

  • Wash your hands. Often! And tell everyone else to wash their hands too. Extra points if you use hot water!
  • Disinfect toys and keep blankets, sheets, and clothes clean. Remember, the RSV virus lives on surfaces for several hours!
  • Crowds aren't a good idea during RSV season. Neither is having your kids hang out around other little kids. It's hard to avoid them, but it is an excellent defense. Our family was on lockdown for two winter seasons after bringing our babies home from the hospital. Was it fun? No. But it was necessary to protect our kids.
  • Don't allow smoking around your kids. Smoking impairs lung function, and little kids need all of the lung function they can possibly have. Smoking will make it that much harder for them to recover if they get sick.
  • If someone has recently been sick or is currently sick, reschedule that playdate or skip that party. It's just not worth it.


Please take a minute to read up on RSV and RSV Prevention. It's important!

And don't forget to love on a family with preemies on World Prematurity Day! :)

This is an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for MedImmune. For more info, please see my disclaimer page.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Halloween 2014 - Frozen Characters

Caleb, Abby, Ellie, And Elijah

I kind of love getting to dress my kids up in a theme! It's just so fun! :) 

For previous Halloweens, we've done The Four Seasons, Superheroes, and the Peanuts Gang. This year, we did all Frozen Characters. Yes, I know that there were 5 million Elsas running around on October 31st, but my kids, especially my girls, really love Frozen, so who was I to say no?


In the past, I've made all of the kids' costumes. It's a fun fall project for me to work on, and the results have generally been pretty good! But this year, I just couldn't rationalize the huge amount of time it takes to put costumes together, so I did them half and half. Half store bought, half homemade.
Caleb

Caleb's Olaf costume was definitely store bought. I hit September still thinking that I was going to make it, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was just setting myself up for a bunch of frustration. I can't sew, so if it can't be made with a hot glue gun and stitch witchery, it ain't gonna happen. Olaf looked like it would take more than a hot glue gun, so I put on my big girl panties, when to Party City, and coughed up $25 for that costume. Gag me! How can they get away with charging so much?! But in the end, Caleb actually loved it! He still asks to put it on. And it will go in the dress up trunk for lots of future playing. $25 for my sanity....well spent!

Abby

Abby dress came from Walmart. $20 for a Princess Anna dress, and I knew that, without a doubt, she would be totally in love with it! She has worn this dress just about every waking minute since Halloween. She is wearing it so much, that we are probably getting a better value (price per wear) out of that dress than we are put of any other article of clothing she owns. I went ahead and made the cape for her. All stitch witchery and hot glue in that cape. It's a little big, but she can wear it for awhile.

Elijah

Honestly, the Kristoff costume was supposed to be Caleb's costume. Elijah was supposed to wear Olaf. I figured that with Caleb's issues, he would need something a little more "normal" to wear. But when I pulled out the Olaf costume and showed it to Elijah, he gave me a very emphatic, "NO!" At the same time, Caleb grabbed it and ran off with it. Okay....not quite what I thought was going to happen, but as long as the costumes were worn, I didn't care who opted for which one.

Elijah's Kristoff costume was entirely homemade. I looked for Kristoff costume online, but the only ones that I could find were on Etsy, and they were incredibly expensive. The ones I saw were easily $75-$90+, and there was just no way that I was going to pay that for a costume that is going to be outgrown in short order. Instead, I followed this easy Kristoff costume tutorial that involves using a grey tshirt as a base, and hot glued my way through it. The most expensive part of his costume was the fur trim, but the rest of it was pretty inexpensive. I just used a bit of Abby's cape fabric to make the sash, added a little decorative ribbon, and stuck a winter hat on his head.

The mark of whether or not a costume works is if people can figure out what you are trying to dress up as. Happily, people figured out that he was dressed as Kristoff, so I consider it a success!

Ellie

Ellie loves her costume too! The dress, the cape, the fact that she can finally BE Elsa. Seriously....she answers to Elsa now. I bought her costume from Walmart as well, but made her cape from scratch. I made it long and flowing, just like in the movie, and Ellie loved it for...oh....about 10 minutes. Then she walked up to me and said,

"Mom! My cape is too long to sit on the couch!"

Mom fail. *sigh* So I chopped that beautiful cape in half, and moved all of the felt snowflakes up higher so that she could sit on the couch at her leisure. Lol! At least she really did love the cape once it was more her size!

It's adorable to watch the girls run around the house in their dresses and know the money was well spent!

And, of course, we had to make sure that the grandparents had a chance to see the kids all decked out in their costumes! We used it as an opportunity to grab a couple of group photos! :)
Abby, Pa (Sean's Dad), Caleb, Ma (Sean's Mom), Ellie, and Elijah

Elijah, Cita (Becca's Mom), Caleb, Abby, Grandpa (Becca's Dad), Ellie

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

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Little Things Thursdays: #93

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?

This week's post ended up being all about my boys! While I normally try to include a little something about each kid, sometimes, one or two kids dominate the entire thing. So while the girls don't appear in this post (they are fine!), I hope that you enjoy an extra big peak into our boys' personalities!

1. Accessorizing!
Liz, one of my good friends in Minnesota, sent us a box full of hand-me-downs for the kids. We SO appreciate getting clothes like that as we don't have clothes to pass down within our family. Our kids all wear the same size! That means buying a full wardrobe for four kids every time they grow. So expensive! So Liz tries to send us their hand-me-downs when she can, and we received a box from her recently! In addition to clothes, the box also had a red hat that went with a dress and a pair of Lighting McQueen slippers. Caleb saw those two items and was ALL over them! He made quite the fashion statement! He loves those slippers so much that he wears them all of the time now. For a kid who still doesn't speak much, he certainly made it known that he was a fan of what came in the box! (Thanks, Liz!)

2. She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not, She Loves Me
I knew it would happen someday, but I didn't realize that it would happen quite this quickly. It seems that Elijah has developed a little crush on his teacher. Um....it's kind of the most adorable thing ever! When we ask him who he is going to see at school, he names both his teacher and his para, but the look of bashfulness on his face when he says, "Miss Brittany" says it all. Hehe! I'm glad that he loves school and loves his teacher! I did try to break it to him that she is married, but I think that went over his head. Miss Brittany and Elijah get along really well, and I'm grateful that she decided to be a sped teacher so that he could be in her class!

3. The Toppings are the Best Part!
We had pizza earlier this week, which is always a favorite at our house! Towards the end of the meal, Sean and I got distracted dealing with one of the girls upstairs, and left the extra pizza unsupervised on the kitchen table. By the time we got back down, Caleb was systematically eating *only* the toppings off of all of the leftover pizza. Generally speaking, I'm not a big fan of little fingers touching all of the leftover food, but just this once, I found it funny and decided to snap a photo. He was delighted to have his pick while we weren't watching!

4. The "Oil Book"
Essential oils are a big part of our lives now, so it makes sense that our kids would be a little familiar with them as well. Of all of our kids, Elijah is actually the most familiar with them. He loves them about as much as I do! Whether it's putting them on his feet, naming the colors of the bottles, or smelling all of the bottles that I open, he is right at my elbow anytime the oil box comes out. He  has gotten to the point where he now comes into our room daily and asks to read the "oil book." The oil book is simply the product guide that Young Living puts out so that I know which oils I can choose from. But for Elijah, it's his favorite book in the house because he can page through it at his own speed and look at all of his oils. Haha! I'm thinking about getting him his own "oil book" for Christmas. I think he'd be over the moon!

5. KC Parent Magazine Article: Essential Oils
Speaking of essential oils, the editor of KC Parent Magazine contacted me and asked me to write a piece covering the basics for someone who knows nothing about them. I wrote the article a couple of months ago, and it was just published this month in the November issue! I love writing for the magazine and do so several times a year, but this was a favorite piece as I'm so passionate about seeing families experience the benefits of having oils in their homes. If you are in Kansas City, make sure you pick up a copy! They are free! Otherwise, you can click HERE to read the article online.


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.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Little Things Thursdays: #92

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. The Red Bridge
People snap padlocks onto the bridge to symbolize their love. 

On Sunday, we decided to play hooky from church and go explore the old Red Bridge. It was a perfect fall day, the trees were changing, and we wouldn't have to lug coats or even jackets with us. We decided to take advantage of it!
Ellie, Abby, Caleb, and Elijah

We spent time exploring the bridge, stomping through the leaves, and then headed to a nearby play area to let them finish running off energy.
Daddy and Ellie

Elijah...so cheesy!

Abby

Caleb

The kids did well with the adventure for the most part. Our only issue was when Caleb wanted to explore the train tracks and we wouldn't let him. It's that whole "oncoming locomotive" thing that kind of turned us off to the idea. In 25 years, when he is in therapy because "we never let him do anything fun", hopefully this will be sufficient documentation that we were only trying to keep him alive. *wink*

2. Costume Parade and Fall Party at School
I'll write an actual post about what the kids dressed up as for Halloween next week, but in the meantime, I wanted to share a few snapshots from their Costume Parade and Fall Party at school today!
Abby

Unfortunately, I only have photos of them during their individual Fall Parties. I thought the Costume Parade started at 11am. It didn't. It started at 10am. I'm so sad that we missed it. the principal told me that is was adorable, and I'm sure it was. Ugh...BUMMER!
Ellie

But at least they got back into their costumes for their parties! Each party was different, but in general they had snacks, dance parties, and movie watching. It was fun to see them enjoying themselves.
Elijah

The only downside of the Fall Parties? The fact that we have quadruplets. We needed to be in four different classrooms at the same time. :( We ended up spending 15 minutes in each classroom to try to get to all of the kids during the one hour Fall Party block. It felt a bit rushed and abrupt to us, but the kids were happy to see us when we walked into each of their rooms. I wish it didn't have to be that way, but it is what it is in this type of situation. I'm sure there are many more similar situations ahead of us. What is nice is that our kids will know this as their normal. And we will continue to do the best we can.
Caleb

3. Young Living October Order
I love having "Christmas" every month! I look forward to my order delivery every single time because I always have favorites in my box. I also try to always include one new item to try. This month, I added the Tranquil Roll On and the Deep Relief Roll On. I've heard good things about both, and wanted to check them out for myself! I also had two of the Christmas Roll On Collections in my order (Stress Away and Breathe Again), and all of the monthly freebies! The six oils sitting on top of the book in this photo? All free! :) And all gorgeous fall scents to celebrate my favorite season!

I also cashed in a bunch of my Essential Rewards points this month. I have my account signed up for the Essential Rewards program that lets me earn points back on what I buy. I had almost 300 points (that's about $300!!) in my account and decided to treat myself to a little FREE oily shopping spree! I went with some of the basic oils that I use the most: Lavender, Grapefruit, Thieves, and Peppermint. I also threw in a bottle of Dorado Azul that we really like for when we feel under the weather. Good stuff!

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.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Our Meal Plan: 10/26-11/1


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: A friend surprised us by bringing over a pizza!
Monday: Baked Chicken, Sweet Potatoes, Salad, French Baguette
Tuesday: Leftovers
Wednesday: Ham and Egg Breakfast Burritos, Skillet Potatoes and Onions
Thursday: Sandwiches
Friday: Corndogs (It's Sonic's annual $0.50 corndog Halloween promotion!)
Saturday: Leftovers

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