Nativity Toddler Book & Craft

As the Christmas season gets in full swing, I've been keen on teaching the quads about Baby Jesus and His birth, the manger and the nativity scene. Though they might not fully grasp the concept of Jesus and what His birth signifies, they can certainly learn that He's a special person and that we celebrate him always, especially at Christmas. Here's a quick book and craft combo I put together for an afternoon at home! They really enjoyed it.

I printed this coloring page of Baby Jesus in a manger, then while the kids put their crayons to paper I cut up some raffia I had in my craft closet and pulled out a package of colored craft sticks I got at Wal-Mart.

Then we read one of our books before gluing on the craft sticks in each kid's chosen color and then spotting on glue and adding raffia as the hay in the manger.

Afterward, we set the papers aside to dry and read the remaining two books to help solidify the concept. They really listened intently and now readily identify Jesus in the manager in photos, tree ornaments and more. Plus their time at church reinforces these Biblical learnings. Mission accomplished!

How do you share Jesus with your tots?
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Holiday Home Tour 2014

Welcome to my holiday home tour! Uh, well, half of it anyway. I only decorated the downstairs portion of our house, and not every single room of the downstairs at that. Let's just say that going from having one-and-a-half year old quadruplets to two-and-a-half-year-old quadruplets means mommy and daddy are waaaaaay more tired this year. We've decided not to host a Christmas party—something we've done religiously nearly every year since we got married—and we haven't been participating in any of the holiday events around our neighborhood, church or city in general because a) it's really hard to get to anything during the week and b) like I said, we're exhausted! So I've been struggling to get into the Christmas spirit a bit this season and would probably have been totally fine if we'd only put up the tree. But I got randomly motivated a couple days ago and my parents were watching the quads at their house for the day, so decor got decked. Done and done.

So anyway, here's some photos of the holiday-outfitted lower level. And please note I tidied up a few spaces to snap these photos while the quads ate lunch but didn't exactly clean. Which means there's lots of surface mess, but I won't draw any more attention to it than that! Let's not forget the eight little hands I've got roaming around the house, too. They help move ornaments around on the tree, leave cookie crumb trails through the dining room and squish their little fingerprints onto the piano. It might mean I never have a clean house, but it means I've got four active, healthy two year olds and I'll take that any day. :)

C'mon in! 

I decided to accentuate our usual lighted garland around the front door with big swags of red mesh, which was super easy to wind into the garland. Finished it off with a couple decorative picks from Hobby Lobby I purchased several years ago. 

The entry way now features nine white frames, some of which are waiting to be filled with new photos. I got them on the cheap for $2 each at Ikea, and plan to add some thick matting to several of them to make them look a little nicer quality. (This is a look I'm trying out, but might not stick with. I need to add a much larger rug to the entry area and will have some new decor to put out on the table in the spring.)

The table, a long ago Craiglist purchase, holds a table runner and an assortment of Christmas trees. This was done for the quads, as they love looking at all the decorations this year and are especially fond of pretty trees.

A sprig of mistletoe hangs from the doorway that bridges the foyer and living room, and more red mesh snakes its way up the garland on the stair banister. I used more picks from Hobby Lobby to add a finishing touch, and hung the stockings from the garland as I did last year. I love how it looks! The stockings were a great deal at Hobby Lobby and I simply ironed on letters for the monograms.

It's a pretty view from the stairs!

The living room is light and bright, with the tree as a focal point. We haven't mounted our TV to the wall yet so I hung our newest family portrait above it. A $3 basket from Target serves as a centerpiece on the coffee table, filled with scented pinecones. 

Each year, I order a new family photo ornament from Snapfish that's printed on tin and I add the year to the image. It's a great keepsake that can't be broken! I also gift the husband a new ornament each year, which are usually hunting-themed, and the "hunting" license plate was his for this year.

We moved the piano to the back wall of the living room so that the tree could go in its place, so it's a bit crowded next to my bookcase back there. But I decorated it all anyway with a few knick knacks I found in the bottom of one of my Christmas bins—including a random string of red lights!

The adjoining dining room was kept simple—a small garland and some reindeer on the hutch, a red poinsettia cut-out runner, votives and jingle bell tree on the table, and a wreath on the door.

The kitchen was kept simple as well. A garland over the sink, a wreath on the window in the breakfast area above the quad table, a candle holder on the island and holiday cards displayed from ribbon on the cabinet doors. I love seeing those every day. :)

I used some fun colors in the play room and the kids adore the Frozen-inspired hues. My sister strung the plastic ornaments (from Wal-Mart) onto ribbon for me so I could hang the garland on the mantel. Love it!

All that's left are a couple trees in the guest bathroom, and that's it!

Have you finished decorating for the holidays? Posting a tour? Leave a link in the comments section, I'd love to see it!

Merry Christmas!
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{Tyke Bites} Tried & True Foods

At last, another addition to my Tyke Bites series, where I feature a random day of meals for my two-and-a-half year old quadruplets! I enjoy sharing meal ideas with other parents—and have been slowly adding even more things to try to my Tot Food board on Pinterest—as it can certainly get stale serving the same thing to kiddos over and over. Granted, at this age they can become quite particular about the foods they will and absolutely no mommy i will not eat it! But I've made a point to feed them a well-rounded diet, including loads of fruits and veggies, since they were introduced to spoon feeding. I also made all of our baby food and I have no intention of letting all that hard work go to waste. So I do my best to maintain meals that are as wholesome as I can manage, while still featuring fare they'll actually chew and swallow. Including my sweet little redhead who truly loves nothing more than her carbs.

Breakfast was a tried-and-true combo of homemade French toast drizzled with honey, full-fat strawberry honey Greek yogurt topped with a few sprinkles and bananas. All the quads are on the skinny side, so I add calories where I can!

The kids love mac and cheese—who doesn't!?—and I always make Annie's organic versions. They have been the most successful. Occasionally I add a little pepper or other seasoning. They also ate pineapple and cucumber and carrots with ranch.

Dinner was some pan-seared steak seasoned with Worcestshire, minced onion, sea salt, garlic powder and pepper, topped with some melted butter. I paired it with roasted potatoes, steamed broccoli, strawberries and bananas.

We typically do a snack in the afternoon after their nap, which ranges from white cheddar popcorn and whole grain goldfish with raisins to granola bars or their latest craze, chex mix. 

Got some food ideas? Have a trick to sneaking in more veggies? I'm all ears! And don't forget to check out my Tot Food board on Pinterest and even send me some of your favorite kid-friendly pins. 
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The Beginning of December...

These past few weeks have kept me busy, busy, busy hence my elongated absence from the blog! Last year at this time we were gearing up to host a holiday party, among many other things, and this year I feel like I can barely keep up. We even decided not to have a big party this time because both the husband and I are tiiiiiired. The effect of having four two-and-a-half-year-olds this time, perhaps?

Either way, we have gotten a few things accomplished amidst day-to-day life. Like our holiday photos! It'd been quite awhile since we had a family photo shoot done and I didn't schedule anything until the last minute, so a cousin of one of my quad momma friends is a photographer and squeezed us into her schedule. We got some great images as a result! My little babies are growing up...

{photos by lindsay wilcox photography}

I literally just got our Christmas card order in the mail today, so I'll be stampin' and mailin' fast as I can this week. I also got the tin photo ornament I order each Christmas since we had the quads. Love it! Both the cards and ornament are from Snapfish—I've used their website for years and am always so pleased with the products and quality.

Recently, I took the kids bright and early on a Friday morning to meet up with my grandma—who's made a wonderful recovery since a serious stint in the ICU a couple weeks ago!—and my mom. We went for lunch and then visited at my aunt's house nearby. It was so awesome to have four generations together!

In the past week, I've been able to get some of our Christmas decorations up and am nearly finished. We opted not to do hardly any lights on the exterior of the house to save both time and energy, but at least the porch is done!

Work has continued at a steady pace as I write for various magazines and a book publishing company, and I also managed to finally reopen my Etsy shop! For now, I'm focusing on kid-friendly jewelry, mainly the chunky-style necklaces that are a hit with toddler girls through teens. Lots of Frozen orders going out right now! I've got a couple listings on my site and have been doing loads of custom orders, so please email me or message me on Etsy if you would like something specific!

In between tea parties with their grandma, Mother's Day Out every Monday, play dates, errands with me, trips to the park and helping rearrange the ornaments on the bottom half of the Christmas tree twice a day—hello eight "helping" hands!—the quads have stayed rather busy themselves, as well.

New tyke-friendly meal plans, Christmas decor and more coming soon! 

Happy holiday prepping... :)
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