Sunday, December 14, 2014

Putting Up the Christmas Tree - 2014

Our kids have been BEGGING for a Christmas Tree this year. Last year, Sean and I took the lazy way out and figured they wouldn't notice the missing tree....so we kind of just skipped it. The year before that, we had a tree, but they were too young to remember. But this year, we had to have a tree.

No way around that!

But actually, it's kind of fun to see and hear their excitement this year!

We told them that we had a surprise for them, and to sit on the couch while Daddy brought it in. Everyone was ready to see it (except for Caleb who was on the floor behind Ellie).
Elijah, Abby, (Caleb behind Ellie) and Ellie

They were SO happy to see a tree come through the garage door!

Then, Daddy brought out some special ornaments for each of them. While we were on our weekend getaway last month, Sean picked out something for each child that he thought they would enjoy. Abby got an Anna ornament, Elijah got Hulk, Caleb got Captain America, and Ellie got Elsa.

I asked them to hold up their ornaments so that I could take a picture. This photo is a great example of their personalities! Elijah obeyed, Ellie followed directions, Caleb was too focused to listen, and Abby was totally confused. Lol!
Abby, Elijah, Caleb, and Ellie

And then we got down to decorating! 
Caleb, Mommy, and Ellie

And let me tell you, decorating a Christmas Tree with four 3-year-olds is not an easy task! They wanted to put their own ornaments on, but it was tricky to get them to stay on the branches. Then as soon as we helped one kid get an ornament up, another kid knocked a different ornament off.

Also, Elijah's Hulk ornament broke about 30 seconds after we opened the box. I'll let you guess how many more have broke within 48 hours of the tree going up. 
Abby and Caleb looking at our ornaments

Ellie is a smart cookie though, and quickly realized that having Elsa on a lower branch was a very bad idea. She asked to put it at the top of the tree instead. She loves her ornament and showing it off! I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that she actually thinks she IS Elsa.

Even Caleb got into the tree decorating. :)

It was fun to decorate the tree with the kids....but the decorations only lasted for a few hours. This was what we were looking at only a day or two later:

When I took these photos, there were about three ornaments on the lower branches. 
The tree is now completely bare except for the top 12 inches. The lights are hanging off onto the floor, and the tree is lopsided from Ellie trying to climb it.

LOL!

Our Christmas tree with 3-year-olds looks a LOT different from our Christmas trees before kids. But their excitement is so precious, it ends up making Christmas even more special!

....but I'm honestly not sure the tree will still be standing by the time Christmas rolls around.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Little Things Thursdays: #96

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

Welcome to The Little Things Thursday!!

If you are new, 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, leave a link in a comment below! If you don't blog, I'd love for you to participate by leaving a moment in a comment anyway. Ready?

1. Ring Around the Rosy
Ellie, Elijah, Abby, and Caleb

The current favorite game is Ring Around the Rosy. The kids love this game SO much, and I'm always finding someone singing it. Most of the time, it's just two or three going in a circle, but all four of them joined in when I took this photo. And of course, Elsa and Anna dresses had to be worn as well. Lol!

2. *sigh*
I get to the point where I'm just afraid to leave them alone for even a second. This is what I found after "nap time" one day. Nap time in their room. With the door shut. It is amazing how much they can find to destroy in a supposedly childproof room.

And then there was this poor puppy that didn't survive the destruction. How sad it that? This dog and our couch look roughly the same right now. Both thanks to eight hands that can't be kept out of trouble.

3. Card Exchange
Every year, a bunch of moms with quadruplets or more exchange Christmas cards. I coordinated the exchange this year, and now have all of my Christmas cards in hand! Unfortunately, I can't post a photo of the cards because of privacy, but looking at the photos makes me so happy! I love seeing the kids grow from year to year....and see that the parents are still surviving! *I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.*

4. Ellie and The Christmas Tree
Ellie managed to take an ornament off of the top of the Christmas Tree. I'll let you figure out how she got up there.

Also, she thinks that we are going to be collecting a new Christmas Tree every week. I told her we have a one tree per year limit. Otherwise, it would only take about three weeks to turn our small living room into a forest.

The Christmas Tree is pretty much the coolest thing in the entire house right now. It also qualifies as the most tempting thing in the entire house.

5. Visiting Grandpa Tom
We took a little detour at church on Sunday and went to see Pastor Tom (a.k.a Grandpa) in his office. The kids ended up poking around his piano, drums, and other musical items. They have music in their blood, so they were drawn right to the instruments. At the end, Abby sang a rousing rendition of "Oh, What a Happy Day" from Mickey and the Beanstalk. Lol! Grandpa said that she can be in the choir. :)

And Caleb, ever my serious child, decided to take the opportunity to have a sit down meeting with Grandpa to discuss his thoughts on the music selections at church. :)


Now it's your turn! What Little Things brightened up your week? Link up your post in a comment below and make sure you come back next week to play again!




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

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Little Things Thursdays: #95

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. Christmas in the Sky
Abby, Ellie, Elijah, and Caleb

Last year, we were invited to go see Christmas in the Sky with our friends. We were excited that they invited us to go with them again this year! We started with soup and sandwiches at their house and then headed out to see Christmas lights and watch the fireworks. It. was. FRIGID. The wind was blowing, so it cut right through all of our clothing. It was still a lot of fun, but it kind of made me wish that we could do Christmas in the summer.

2. Ellie's First French Braid
It took a long, long time, but Ellie's hair finally grew long enough for me to french braid! I've been able to french braid Abby's hair for awhile, but Thanksgiving marked the first time that I was able to tuck all of Ellie's hair up. She looked pretty adorable and so grown up!

3. Another nice day!
Saturday was absolutely beautiful here after have several days of winter coats, gloves, and hats. It was so nice that the kids didn't even need jackets. What?!?! Sean took them outside to play while I finished up a few things around the house. When I went out to get them for a nap, I told them that I hoped they enjoyed it because odds are that was the last of the nice weather for awhile. Sure enough, on Sunday, we woke up to temperatures in the 20's.

4. Surprise Pizza Delivery
Abby, Ellie, Elijah, and Caleb
One of my quad mama friends, Theresa, sent me a message on Saturday that pizza was on its way to our house. She lives in California!! Oh my goodness, it was such a nice surprise! The kids were delighted because they know that Saturday dinner is leftovers night at our house. They went to town on that pizza. It was so kind and thoughtful of her to think of us like that! :)

5. Still Peeing in Solidarity
One of my favorite photos from 2014 is the last one in this Little Things Thursday post from August. Um...adorable! While we've passed the potty chair stage, we also have multiple little kids who often need to go at the same time. So we just pretty much have potty central going on in the bathroom these days. It means that no one has to hold it too long.

The other day, I was walking past the bathroom and Sean pointed out what they were doing. LOL! Ellie and Elijah do just about everything as a pair. They are always playing together (or fighting together) and apparently they are still peeing together. Hehe!

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 30, 2014

Caleb: Amazing Autism Update!

I'm pretty excited to get to share this post with you.

No, let me try that again.

I'm ECSTATIC to get to share this post with you!

This summer, I wrote about how Caleb was diagnosed with autism and the challenge that presented to our family. It was a hard summer getting used to that idea. We chose to continue his speech therapy and added essential oils to his routine to help with grounding and focusing him. This summer, he barely had any words, and although he still doesn't have a huge vocabulary....

....this happened.

(Note: there is no sound while the words are running. Sounds begins when the video of Caleb starts.)

I put the video together, but it doesn't matter how many times I watch it, it still makes me cry. Not only is Caleb clearly saying words without hesitating, he is recognizing the words on the cards. I wrote the words with a black sharpie on white index cards. That's it. Nothing else is on the cards to giveaway which color he needed to name. I knew that Caleb was smart, but he was so trapped in his head, that he couldn't get out. He was frustrated, and we were frustrated for him.

All I can say is that God is GOOD!

He has allowed Caleb to make strides over the last few months that are bigger than we had hoped for. I am so very proud of him for working so hard despite the frustrations he deals with while trying to communicate.

We certainly haven't "arrived" yet. We have a long ways to go, and we are still working on language, choosing to communicate with words, and helping him with coping skills. However, this right here is a huge glimmer of hope for what I know Caleb can and will do in the future.

I hope y'all are smiling, because I sure am! :)

Friday, November 28, 2014

How to Save Even More this Holiday Season without Ever Leaving Your Couch


Black Friday shopping is NOT my thing.

Actually, shopping in general is really not my thing. I don't like going into stores, dealing with crowds, feeling like I'm in the way of the person next to me in the aisle. It's just not fun. (And yes, I do get that this is "fun" to some people.)

What I DO like is staying home and saving my very hard earned money.

So when Thanksgiving comes, I do my very, very best to not voluntarily walk into stores until after Christmas. I consider it self-preservation!

This year, I found a new way to get my Christmas shopping finished from home and save money at the same time. FreeShipping.com gives members 10% back and free shipping at 1000's of stores.  On top of that, they provide free returns and price protection! And these aren't just out-of-the way stores, either. Walmart, Nordstrom, Best Buy, ProFlowers, Sears, and many more are all participating retailers!

The website is easy to use and offers two ways to find the items that you want. You can either search for the store you want to shop or search by product to compare prices across the stores in the FreeShipping.com database. Either way, once you find your store or item, you just click through and shop that store's website like usual. Once per quarter, FreeShipping.com sends you your 10% cash back! And if you want to take advantage of their free shipping, free returns, or price protection, that rebate keeps going up!

PLUS, you can combine those perks with other coupons and discounts that you may come across as you are browsing the internet!

I decided to give it a trial run on an item that one of my quad mom friends said that her kids love: Water Wow! Books. The books come with a pen that you fill with water. The pen turns the pages different colors, and when the pages dry, it reusable! It sounds perfect for doctor's visits, car rides, etc, so I wanted to get four of them for stocking stuffers this year.

I went to FreeShipping.com and searched for Melissa & Doug (one of my favorite retailers!).

I clicked through to their site, and ordered four Water Wow! books and a big roll of paper for art projects.

My total ended up being $35.43 with tax and shipping. I'm expecting $2.70 back as my automatic 10% cash back.

 Then I simply submitted my order to request my shipping rebate of $8.48!

Total savings? $11.18 or 32%. In other words, two of my books were completely free!

NICE!

As I type this, it's Thanksgiving evening. Most of my friends are out standing in line for Black Friday deals. Instead, I've been sitting here on my couch, doing my shopping online. The zipper broke on my coat, so I found a new one through Burlington Coat Factory. I'm getting $4.99 back plus free shipping from them. Then I headed over to Kohls online and bought snow gloves for the kids and a FitBit for my annual weight loss resolutions in January (one of these years, I'm actually going to follow through!). I ended up scoring BIG on the Kohls website because I could combine the FreeShipping.com perks with other coupons. I'm getting $15.13 as my 10% cash back and free shipping, plus I got 15% percent off because I had a coupon in my email, plus $45 Kohls cash. I saved about $90 at Kohls tonight. FROM MY COUCH!

Needless to say, FreeShipping.com is making me a very happy camper this holiday season! I see absolutely no reason to shop for anything in the stores. The only thing that would make the website better would be if I could do my grocery shopping through it as well!

You can grab a FreeShipping.com one month free membership right now! Just use coupon code HOLIDAY2014 to get your free one month membership (hint: that code also gives you a discount on the monthly membership fee when your free trial is over! It will only be $9.95!), From Black Friday through Cyber Monday, they are promoting five retailers per day and giving you 20% back! Head over and sign up, and make your Christmas easier than it's ever been before!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own. This post may contain affiliate links. For more info, please see my disclaimer page.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Letters from Dad: #20

(Once a month, I invite Sean to take over the blog and write a little note to our kids. I love that he is willing to leave little nuggets of wisdom for them to look back on when they are older! While many of the posts on this blog are written to share our lives with you, the reader, Sean's "Letters from Dad" series is truly written to our kids. You are welcome to peek in and see what he wants them to know!)

Dear Children,

Daddy loves to read. At the beginning of the year, Daddy saw a challenge on the internet to keep a record of all of the books read in a year. It is called the Empty Shelf Challenge. If you want to see everything I have read this year, you can click here.

Of all of the books that I’ve read this year, I really enjoyed three books the most. Those three are:

                Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas
                A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller
                7: an Experimental Mutiny against Excess by Jen Hatmaker

I’m currently reading 7, so I’m not actually finished, but it’s pretty good so far. It a semi-autobiography that’s about giving up all the crap in our life and focusing on what matters. This is appropriate since Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching. During the holidays, we get so wrapped up in what is happening on any given day, but the truth of the matter is, the only thing that truly matters in life are people. So please try to remember that.

Bonhoeffer is a biography about Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It is very interesting. I took a class on Nazi Germany as part of my graduate degree, but wow, the German people were nuts. I wish I could say I mean that in the best way possible, but I don’t. It really amazes me that Hitler was allowed to rise to power. I think it was mainly due to German pride and the belief that you needed to follow the leader even if you disagreed. I mention the Nazis and the German people because Bonhoeffer was a German pastor during Hitler’s rise to power and opposed him, including being part of the conspiracy to murder Hitler.

A Million Miles is another semi-autobiography. Donald Miller, the author, is most known for the book Blue like Jazz. This book is about an examination of his life. The book documents how a couple of guys decide to make Blue like Jazz into a movie, and the screenwriting that Miller goes through to make his story work on the big screen. Through this he figures out what he wants to do with his life. The thing he decides to do is help people tell their story and not just live a boring life. He and his friends now run the Storyline conference and blog. You can read more about it at www.storylineblog.com.

I’m not saying I expect you kids to read these books. I’m just letting you know the ones that tugged at my heart. Before the year is over, I am hoping to finish up two more Star Wars books and another Jen Hatmaker book. I have my books for next year mapped out also. However, Jen Hatmaker keeps referencing two books that I think I would like to read. One is The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. The other is Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole by Benjamin R. Barber. I’m thinking both of those books will have to be added to next year’s reading list.

I love reading, kids, and I hope one day you do too. Keep in mind that I’m also kind of a fickle person. If you were to ask me on another day which books I found most interesting this year, I might have given you different answers.

Have a great Thanksgiving kids. Maybe mommy’s readers can drop a note of what books they read this year that they really enjoyed. Daddy might just add them to his future reading list.

Love,

Daddy

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.
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