Monday, September 29, 2014

Our Meal Plan: 9/28-10/4

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, Apples, Crackers
Monday: Loaded Baked Potatoes, Tossed Salad
Tuesday: Chicken and Pinto Bean Burritos, Tossed Salad
Wednesday: Chicken Quesadillas, Homemade Salad and chips
Thursday: I have an Indian dish in my freezer...but I can't remember the name of it right now. I'm looking forward to eating it though!
Friday: Sandwiches
Saturday: The kids are going to a birthday party!

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

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Letters from Dad: #18

(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!

Dear Children,
I remember one time, Ma (my mom) sat your Uncle Nathan and me down to explain the difference between wants and needs. I don’t remember what the occasion was. Maybe we were starting school, maybe we were being brats, or maybe Ma was just teaching us an important life lesson. It was a good lesson. A need is something you have to have to survive; a want is everything else.
Oh sure, needs can be defined in other ways. For instance, I could say I need Captain America 241 to complete my Captain America collection. But, I don’t need a comic book to survive. I don’t need a comic collection to survive. What we need is food, clothes, shelter and even then some of those are a stretch. People live without clothes and shelter all the time. Maybe not well but they do survive. We need food to survive, but we don’t need filet mignon. Kids, I hope as you get older, I am able to convey the values that Ma gave Uncle Nathan and me. It’s good to know what is important in life and to set your values properly.
I love you kids. We didn’t plan to have four kids at once, but I wouldn’t trade you kiddos for anything.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

{Recipe} Black Bean and Pumpkin Chili

Thank you to Red Gold Tomatoes for sponsoring this post. 
It's chili season! Everybody break out your slow cookers!

We decided to christen the fall season with a big slow cooker full of Black Bean and Pumpkin Chili

Now, before y'all run off because this is yet another pumpkin recipe on the internet, you HAVE to try this one. 
The pumpkin in this recipe is a really understated flavor. It actually lends more to the creamy texture of the dish while the black beans and corn take center stage. Warm spices like chili powder and cumin give the chili a traditional profile, but the little bit of cinnamon adds a little bit of flare.

All that to say, it's delicious!!

Black Bean and Pumpkin Chili
adapted from this Red Gold recipe
  • 2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Onion, Chopped
  • 1 lb Ground Beef
  • 1 Yellow or Orange Bell Pepper, Chopped
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 2 (15 oz) cans Black Beans, Rinsed and Drained
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can Pumpkin
  • 1 (14.5) can Corn
  • 1 (14.5 oz) Red Gold Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 (14.5 oz) Red Gold Petite Diced Tomatoes with Lime Juice & Cilantro
  • 3 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 2 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1.5 tsp Cumin
  • 1.5 tsp Oregano
  • 0.75 tsp Cinnamon
  • Avocado
  • Grated Cheese

1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add ground beef, onion, bell pepper, and garlic, and cook until tender. Drain.

2. Transfer to a slow cooker. Add all remaining ingredients and stir until combined. Cook on low for 4 to 5 hours.

3. Serve with cubed avocado and grated cheese!

If you are lucky, you'll have leftovers so that you can enjoy it for another meal.

While you are enjoying your chili, you can buzz over to the Red Gold FaceBook page and enter their "Red Gold 2-a-day Crock-Pot Give-a-way!" They are giving away 2 Crock-Pots everyday, September 17 through October 8. You have no excuse now to not make this Black Bean and Pumpkin Chili recipe!
Thank you to Red Gold Tomatoes for sponsoring this post. For more info, please see my disclaimer page.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Little Things Thursdays: #88

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 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 last week has been CRAZY busy! So busy that when I went to pull our photos for this post, I realized that I didn't have very many. Hopefully, I'll keep my camera a little more handy this coming week.

1. All Gone!
Elijah looking at the stitches in Michael's hand

Our family has some incredible friends! Last week, we benefited from the medical expertise of one of them. Stacey is a good friend of mine, and her husband, Michael, is a trained EMT. I was going to take Elijah all the way to the doctor just to get three stitches removed, but instead, I asked Stacey if Michael would mind taking them out. He made a house call and had them out in less than 5 minutes...saving me 2 hours of time! I was so thankful to get my evening back, and extra thankful for how easy Michael made it for Elijah. They chatted together the whole time, and Michael worked fast enough that we avoided the tears. :)

2. Buildings
Ellie is definitely our most talkative kid. Sooo talkative. One of the perks of that is listening to what new thing she comes home from school with every week. For the last two weeks, they have been learning about buildings at school. What they are built with, what they include, etc. This weekend, she was sitting on the couch with Elijah watching a movie. She suddenly turned to Elijah and said, "Doodle (Elijah), close your eyes. Now think of something happy about buildings. I'm thinking of buildings made with blocks!" The best part? Elijah totally did what she told him to do. :)

3. They Are So Cute!
Ellie, Elijah, Caleb, and Abby

Yes, I did just post this yesterday, but it's such a good photo of our kids! Good photos of all four are sheer accidents, so I enjoy them when they happen!

4. Young Living September Oils: Prepping for Cold and Flu Season
We had a BIG essential oil order this month, but I want to be prepared for cold and flu season. I bought a 2nd premium starter kit because it's such a good deal (60% off retail!) and we needed another diffuser. Then I grabbed a few extra oils to have on hand for everything from germs to asthma to pain to autism. I like for our family to have options, and I think we are just about ready for whatever germs come flying our direction!

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

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Good-bye Summer!

Ellie, Elijah, Caleb, and Abby

Yesterday was the official last day of hot weather, swimming pools, slushies, flip flops, and strawberries, so we decided to give it a send-off!

How did we send it off? With half-price ice cream cones from Sonic!

Even better, Sean offered to take us for dinner too! Uh...yeah! No cooking sounded good to me!
Most of the kids did pretty well sticking with us in the picnic table area, but Caleb really felt that he should be allowed to go inside and see what was going on. I did a lot of walking with him while we were waiting for our food, but once it arrived, the kids had a blast on their "picnic." The car hops quickly figured out that they were quadruplets, and brought out a kids' meal toy for each of them to play with as well (we don't do kids' meals because of the expense). I thought that was really thoughtful of them, and the foam airplanes were a great distraction for Caleb. 

Speaking of the Sonic staff,  they asked if they could get a photo with our kids because "they've never seen quadruplets before." I thought about letting them know that most people haven't seen quadruplets before, but instead, just let them have the photo. Lol! They were super sweet girls, and they ASKED first which is a lot more than what most people do. (Yes, we've been followed in cars with people "sneaking" photos of the kids.) Plus, they let Ellie and Abby take turns wearing the official Sonic hat, so they pretty much have a preschool fan base now.
I told the Sonic girls that we should probably take a photo BEFORE they ate ice cream as I wasn't sure how that would turn out (note: it was insanely messy!). Once we took the photo, it was time for our first ice cream cones! Everybody did surprisingly well, although that patio was covered in melted ice cream by the time we left. Abby was the only one who managed to get two ice cream cones out of the deal since she dropped hers about 60 seconds after she started eating it. I'm actually impressed we only lost one during our first ice cream cone experience!

It was a HIT!
Ellie, Elijah, Caleb, and Abby

I posted this photo on my personal FaceBook page and a bunch of people have asked what Elijah is doing. I told everyone to look at the camera and say, "cheese!" he put his hand over his eyes so that I couldn't see him. Such a little goofball. Lol!

It was a really fun family outing to bid summer good-bye. Now onto my favorite season: FALL!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Our Meal Plan: 9/21-9/27

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: Lunchables (the knockoff version) for the kids, leftovers for Mom and Dad
Monday: Sonic! They had 1/2 price ice cream cones, so Daddy took us for dinner and dessert. :)
Tuesday: Black Bean and Pumpkin Crockpot Chili, Tossed Salad, Crescent Rolls
Wednesday: Leftovers from the Weekend
Thursday: Loaded Baked Potatoes, Roasted Veggies, Biscuits
Friday: Beef Stroganoff, Salad, Rolls
Saturday: Pizza

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, September 21, 2014

Somewhere Out There, A Toy Engineer is Laughing At Me.

Sometimes, I feel like I'm living in a Stephen King novel. Or I'm on the set of a Steven Spielberg movie. **note to self: don't name any future children, "Steve"**

I can't be the only parent out there who feels this way. I know it's happened to you.

The house is quiet and dark. The kids are finally asleep, and you're comfortably situated under the covers. And then suddenly, at approximately 1:37am, you hear noise coming from the living room.

"Old MacDonald Had a Farm..."

But the kids are in bed, and you know for a fact that they haven't left their room because of cribs or gates or childproof doorknobs, or whatever.

An electronic voice breaks the silence again,

"Mama, Mama. Peek-a-boo!"

And then you know. Your children's toys are possessed.

I tell you what, nothing gives me the heebee jeebees like needing to go downstairs and figure out which toy decided to start talking in the middle of the night. I start looking around for a Chucky doll....and I haven't even seen the movie!

I now find myself giving a wary eye to every noise-making toy I come across. I'm still waiting for the day when my kids outgrow the talking toys, and I can finally know that my sleep won't be interrupted by a tiny prerecorded voice.

Thankfully though, I haven't recently had a toy interaction that was as scary as the one I had with a stuffed turtle.

A couple of years ago, I bought this blue turtle from a consignment sale for Caleb. I thought it was cute, and I wanted to get each of the kids a special stuffed animal for their beds. Only this turtle had a mind of it's own.
I think at one point, it must have said words above a guttural level. But either during it's time with it's previous owner or during it's time in the washing machine after I brought it home, the turtle turned into the thing of nightmares. It said,

"Chomp, chomp, chomp."

Just as low and evil-y sounding as possible. I am totally not exaggerating or making this up! And this turtle also liked to "chomp" at odd times of the day and night when not a single human being was even in the same room with him. Do you know what it's like to hear a blue turtle chomping at you from the next room while you are home alone with just your four infants???

Good heavens, I've never been so scared of a toy in my life, as I was of that turtle. I never had to deal with stuff like this before kids!
So I did what any terrified self-respecting mother would do. I waited until my husband got home from work one night in case the stuffed animal put up a fight, got out my seam ripper, and performed major turtle surgery. I yanked that voice box right out of that scary turtle and threw it away. I sewed him back up, tucked him back in bed with Caleb, and thought we were done with it.

And then I heard,

"Chomp, chomp, chomp."

coming from the trashcan.

Somewhere out there, a toy engineer is still laughing at me.
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