Friday, May 31, 2013

FTF: Children's Picture Books

Favorite Things Friday:
Children's Picture Books

I feel like I've been to Barnes and Noble several times, looking for children's books, and I leave a little bit disappointed.  I'm a total snob when it comes to picture books, because I love to rhyme all the time.  If I'm going to read a book forty eleven times, I want it to rhyme. 

SO, here are my favorites, in no particular order:

Goodnight Aggieland is written by my friend Cimbrey Brannan.  We went to church and cheered together in high school and (obviously) both went to A&M together.  That aside, I love this book.  I love beginning the brain washing early.  

"The wrecking crew wears maroon and white, and yell leaders holler fight, fight, fight.  When Reveille barks, students get out of class, and folks say Gig 'em and Howdy as they pass."

Madeline and Madeline's Rescue and all the Madeline books are amazing.  The artwork is not particularly detailed, but the Parisian monuments and the sheer number of illustrations make up for it.  These are the two books we own, and we love them both.  I'm not theatrical, at all, but even I can put on a voice for certain characters.  A recurring line is, "In the middle of the night, Miss Clavel turned on her light and said, 'Something is not right.'"  Anna Belle pokes her sweet finger in the air to quote Miss Clavel every time.  


When Taylor and I went to New York City for the first time, we went to FAO Schwartz, accompanied by every other tourist in the very rainy NYC.  They have a special little room dedicated to Barefoot Books, and the lady there helped us pick a few new favorites.  They only have 3 stores (worldwide) where you can touch and feel the books, so there's a really good chance that your friends / family don't have these books (hint: this makes them great gifts).

We keep Ruby's Sleepover and Shopping with Dad in Brady's Room and The Prince's Bedtime and The Kite Princess in Anna Belle's room.

Prince's Bedtime is about a prince who won't go to sleep.  The whole kingdom entertains him and brings gifts, but it's not until an old lady comes to read him a book and the Prince says, "'Where are the pictures,' he says with surprise.  'You'll see them my dear, if you just close your eyes.'  So that's what he did, he shut his eyes tight, and soon after that, fell asleep for the night."  <insert kissing beloved child on the head and leaving the room>

Ruby is a very imaginative girl who brings "magical" things like beans and a flashlight to her tent to ward off the dragons, giants, pirates and such.  It encourages bravery and imagination and it rhymes, what's not to love?  



 Shopping with Dad is a funny book where one sneeze leads to a series of mishaps that knock over a huge stack of cans in the grocery store.  Everyone tries to pass blame and point fingers, but in the end, the dad says, 
"Accidents happen, it's always a shame, 
But when push comes to shove, there's no one to blame."  
Then my Dad, he got down on his knees in the store,
And he started to pick all the cans off the floor.
The woman knelt too.
She said, "Right. You're not wrong."
Then everyone joined us.  It didn't take long.

I probably read the Kite Princess most, of the Barefoot Books.  
There once was a princess called Cinnamon Stitch,
Her parents were stuffy and terribly rich.
They liked to parade her around their fine land,
With Cinnamon looking exceedingly grand
But Cinnamon longed to be wild and free,
so she begins sowing a kite, which enables her to fly.  Her parents see her flying and (after fainting) they decide they long to be free too, so they have kites made for themselves and everyone lives happily ever after.

Caps for Sale is a very rhythmic book of a man who sells caps.  He doesn't sell any caps one day, so he naps under a tree (with all of his caps on his head).  He wakes up, finds the caps missing and discovers a tree full of monkeys wearing his caps.  He tells them to return the caps (repeatedly) and the monkeys keep mimicking him (this is the part that the kids TOTALLY get into) until he throws his own cap on the ground and walks away, and every monkey throws his/her own cap to the ground.  I remember my 5th grade teacher reading this to the class; I loved it then and I love it now.  This comes in a board book; indestructible books are supported by moms nationwide.

Little Blue Truck came down the road, "Beep" said Blue to a big green toad.  
As if that's not cute enough, it goes on to show how kind the little blue truck is to everyone.  A mean dump truck is rude and gets stuck in the mud.  No one comes to his rescue, except Blue.  When Blue gets stuck too, all of his animal friends come to the rescue, and they talk about the importance of friends.  Love this book; buy the board book version.

We love other classics too like Curious George, The Lorax and The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but I feel like those are more widely loved / circulated books already.

On a side note, if you don't have Amazon Prime - get it!  You get free 1 or 2 day shipping on TONS OF STUFF.  It's the cheapest way to buy books, movies, Otterbox iPhone / iPad covers, trendy necklaces, fertilizer stakes and vitamins (random, right?).  I figured out it pays for itself annually from my air filter orders alone!  Before making in store purchases, I frequently check the Amazon price first and end up ordering on line.  It makes shopping in the stores seem like a total waste of time (though sometimes I still want to touch and feel before ordering the same product online).

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Very Long Road Trip

On 6/17, Grammy, Brady, Anna Belle and I set forth on a very long road trip (over 3300 miles).  I plan to make daily posts during the trip, so Taylor can see pictures daily.  I've mentioned this trip, and people ask, "Where are you going?"  I give a vague answer and hear, "What's your final destination?"  I think the correct answer is "home."

We initially decided to take this trip to visit my Mammaw, Uncle Tim and Aunt Deb in Denver.  My mom and I had also discussed going to visit my cousin in Illinois who will have a new baby boy this summer.  Rather than two long road trips, we decided to link the two trips by way of Omaha.  We have planned LOTS of fun stuff, and the kids and I are already super excited about the adventure.

On day 1, we drive to Amarillo by way of Waco.  We did the same thing two years ago, where I made a post here.  We will ride horses at Kathy's house in Waco again, which both the kids are very excited about, and have dinner at the Big Texan in Amarillo.

On days 2 and 3, we will be in Colorado Springs.  Here's the post from our last visit.  We're not going to the zoo again, but we're staying at the Triple B Ranch again, the kids will have private riding lessons, and we'll visit the North Pole.  I tried talking to Anna Belle about this, and with her bravest face whilst tearing up she says, "I'm afraid of Santa Clause."  I guess she remembers this:

Days 4 - 6, we go to Denver.  We will do an afternoon and dinner at White Fence Farm again (I wish we had one in Houston).  We also plan to visit Estes Park.  Mostly we will hang out with our family and catch up while we can.

Days 7 - 8 will be in Omaha.  Not only is this a halfway point, we will get to see Phillip (yay!) and my friend Sarah.  Sarah and her sweet family went to our church for about a year and moved back home to Nebraska.  She has 2 boys close in age to Brady and Anna Belle.  We'll meet Sarah and family at Chuck-E-Cheese upon arrival.  I'm sure the kids will enjoy the opportunity to stretch their legs.  The following day, Phillip's going to give us a tour of Offutt Air Force Base.

Day 9, we go to Chicago to visit my Uncle Rick and Aunt Julie.  I'm eager to see their new house.

Days 10 - 11, we go to Bloomington, IL.  Rick and Julie's 3 kids, 2 in-laws and new grandson still live in Bloomington.  I haven't seen any of my cousins' new homes, since they've been grown ups.  I'm eager to see everyone and meet Papa's third great grandchild.

Day 12, we plan to stay in Little Rock over night.  I've considered staying in or stopping in Hot Springs; they have a nice Arboretum.  Hopefully Chick-fil-a's along the way will be enough to entertain the kids.

Days 13 - 14, we pick Taylor up from the DFW airport and head to Great Wolf Lodge, where we will meet up with the Bowers family.

Day 15, Grammy and I will "let" Taylor drive us home sweet home.

It's a lot of driving, but I'm really looking forward to every leg of our trip.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Happy Wednesday

After the Children's Museum last week, we went to Brett and Allison's house.  They had just returned from their Chicago trip, and we ordered in Pappasitos (mmm).  Allison found this cute little dress and shoes for Anna Belle - thank you!

Exactly one week before taking this pictures, I complained to Taylor that the Rangoon hadn't bloomed yet.  The blooms came in, and they are everywhere!  This vine covers / hides our pool shed and smells wonderful.

Soon after all our citrus trees bloomed, a windstorm came through and we lost most of our buds.  This lonely grapefruit remains.  

Our grapevine should produce a really good crop this year.  In college, I always thought gardening was boring.  Our horticulture prof (Taylor and I took the class together), said gardening was America's most popular hobby (a stat that drastically changes based on your source).  I can totally understand being hooked on gardening.  Ever since the first few blooms of spring, I've been cheering on all of our perennials to come back to life and when they do, I want to celebrate.

When things like this really excite me, I feel like it must be a little piece of Heaven.  God gives us these joys, as a little glimpse of His kingdom.

If you haven't read the book, Heaven is for Real, I highly recommend it.  A pastor's 3 year old son dies for 3 minutes on the operating table and comes back to life.  Almost a year later, the son begins to tell his dad stories of his visit to Heaven.  With amazing Biblical accuracy, he describes what and who he saw.  The little boy, Colton, also noted that child prodigy, Akiane Kramarik, painted the most accurate pictures of Christ and Heaven.  

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Children's Museum with Phillip

While Phillip was in town, we went to the Children's Museum.  I'm still discovering new things there, which is quite a feat for the 5th visit this year.

In the Lego room, they have these powered boards, which hook into LED lighted building pieces.  They have a little dark room built around you, which makes it a little more fun.  Both the kids enjoyed it for longer than I expected.

At the very top of the spiderweb and Pringles looking jungle gym, there's an activity floor.  This particular lighted floor simulates dodgeball.  You're supposed to dodge the ball, but Brady wants to squish it like a bug.  This non-conformist behavior in Brady leads me to believe that Pre-K will be very interesting next year.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Baseball Finale

This is Brady's last week of baseball!  For my family who would like to attend one last game, here's our schedule (we have 3 this week to make up for the season's rained out games).

6:00 PM Tuesday v. Rangers, Queenston Field 9
7:15 PM Friday v. Rays, Queenston Field 2
2:00 PM Saturday v. Reds, Queenston Field 9

Our games are all at the same park on Queenston.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Happy Memorial Day!

To all who have served and are serving in our Armed Forces, THANK YOU!!!
(especially Phillip and David Bacot at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha)  We miss you guys and appreciate your service to our country.

This one's my favorite : )

Friday, May 24, 2013

FTF: Skin Care Products

Favorite Things Friday:
Skin Care Products

I know the state of my chin doesn't bode well for the effectiveness of skin care products.  With that said, I have really sensitive skin and many of my problems have been solved by JASON products.

I fell in love with JASON Aloe Vera Body Wash at the Bacot ranch.  I would help cut cedar trees and have red, itchy, burning little bumps all over my arms and legs.  I used this body wash (because it was sitting in the shower) and the rashes were gone by the time I got out of the shower!

After prolonged use with a loofah, the little bumps on the back of my arms started to go away too.

I'm afraid the story gets a little grosser.  I started struggling with BO.  Dry cleaned shirts and jackets were far more problematic than machine washable clothes.  I researched and tried different methods of cleaning and deodorizing, but nothing worked.  I went through 4 - 5 different deodorants.  I'm insistent on fragrance free deodorants, so my options were quite limited.  After loving my body wash so much, I tried the deodorant, and I'm sold!  The BO is gone!  Who would have thought the organic stuff would be more effective than the other stuff?!

 Taylor's family struggles with eczema.  Soon after I learned this, I realized my kids have both have patches of eczema on top of their heads.  I went back to old faithful here, I learned that the shampoo and conditioner are 84% aloe vera!  That's a lot of aloe!  We use it daily for the kids, and there's no trace of eczema remaining.  I always thought Taylor had dandruff, but I switched him to this and he's cleared up too!  Each bottle runs about $9, but it's far less expensive than ultra medicated prescription alternatives.  Taylor's sister said that she said this works as well as the medicated stuff.  

As a note with all JASON products, they are really easy to find.  The Body wash is sold at Target and the entire line is sold at our HEB.  

I used to have pretty consistent razor burn problems.  I've used Aveeno with oatmeal for several years, and I'm a big fan.  Whenever I try alternatives, the burn is back.  The Target and grocery store brands work just as well as the original.  I've never tried the JASON shave gel... might be worth a try.

After a few prescription products in high school, ProActiv really improved my acne problems.  I've used it for 11 years now... though my total excitement has been waning since my chin saga.

Lastly, the Clarisonic seems to be a great product.  It's a face scrubber (like a giant Sonicare toothbrush) that allegedly cleans your face 6x better than washing with your hands.  The Clarisonic runs $120 - $150.  Oil of Olay makes a knock off for $30, and they sell it at HEB, our local grocery store!  My mom and I both have it and love it. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Saturday - Wedding Day!

I accidentally uploaded all these photos in reverse chronological order, and it's really a pain to reverse it... so we're going to be a little backwards today.

Brett's a little overly excited about finding his table assignment.  

David always gives his Dad a coin when he gets promoted / new positions in the Air Force.

Grandma Joye passed away about a year ago, but it was nice to have her best friend Alice attend the bridal luncheon, rehearsal dinner and wedding.

Allison's boss, the trauma orthopedic surgeon, served as our live music for the night.  He did a great job.

Brett, Allison, and the biggest flower arrangements ever... gorgeous!

I have strategically touched up my chin, so it doesn't look quite as crusty in photos.  In the photo below, the kids are minutes from walking down the aisle.  We lined up after the bridesmaids, and Anna Belle discovered her slippery shoes and the tile allowed her to sink into the splits.  She repeatedly fell on the ground while Brady said, "Anna Belle, stop playing and grab my arm, it's time."  I'm so proud of my little Brady.  Fortunately Anna Belle got her act together by the time she was supposed to walk down the aisle.  They were perfect!  They didn't hesitate, cry or get distracted.  I am SO proud of them.

This is one of the bricks in front of the Our Lady of Walsingham shrine.

I love having a large family picture my kiddos included.

One of the bridesmaids let Anna Belle play with her phone.  She kept watching the Animal Crackers in My Soup video on YouTube.

There are a lot of great pictures with all the bridesmaids... it was too hard to pick a favorite.

This bible and rosary have been carried down the aisle for a few generations.

These pictures don't do the room justice.  When the lights dimmer and candles illuminated the room, it became magical.  The monogram behind the sweetheart table was made of flowers.  After the ceremony, the huge flower arrangements on either side of the church's entry doors moved to the outside of the cakes.  It was beautiful.

The kids loved the candy / favor table.

Anna Belle certainly felt like the belle of the ball.

 The tables and centerpieces were beautiful.