Books I Love

Today I was mending a book that I have had since Jackson was a baby. Recommended by my sister, it has served me well and has been well loved by all my babies. I love this book. It is called First Hundred Words by Heather Amery and Stephen Cartwright. I love it because it is useful, helpful, and the scenes encapsulate my life. The expressions on their faces capture what they are feeling and these mundane moments (and the family that experiences them together) are celebrated. I really love it.

Look at the baby and mommy in the pool with a bare bottom. Who doesn't want to remember that forever when it's happening to you?

Here is my baby with the living room scene. Dad is playing, Mom is reading a book and all is right in the house.

Do you see what I mean about capturing the moment and expression?

This happens all the time at my house. Kitchen chaos. Only my baby would probably be playing with sharpies under the table instead of spoons.

I love bath time. I love this illustration. May I never forget the many times I've experienced this in our bathroom. Everyone is happier when they're clean.

Nothing needs to be said. (Except I forgot to mention that this little yellow duck hides on every page. It is so fun for a child to find. It never gets old.)

The Dad's face on this is priceless. It encapsulates how most dad's feel when given a baby and a bottle. "What's your problem?" And... "You can't do this yourself?"

I had so much fun photographing this book I decided to make a little visual list of some of our other staples around here. These are some of the first books I start with as early as possible. I could not parent without these books. They have been regulars with every single child.

This one especially with the boys. It has just the right amount of words on each page. An awesome introduction to different kinds of trucks.

This is Eric Carle's The Very Busy Spider in board book form. I can teach animals, their sounds, the sign language for them, and repetition. I enjoy trying to say, "Want to roll in the mud?" how a pig might say it. Hey, it's my theatrical outlet.

And speaking of Eric Carle, he still did the artwork, but the words are by Bill Martin Jr. I actually have an autographed copy (by Martin) but I have no idea where it came from. Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See? is a whole blog in and of itself, but you get colors, animal names, signs, rhythm...it is wonderful.

A classic. Hard for Juliet to sit still for this one for some reason, but I read it with commitment anyway. I love books that rhyme. "Good night nobody, good night mush."

A must have for body parts, this one recently lost the back two pages. I'm going to fix it. It's been through all five kids.

Dr. Suess is also another post, but these two are my favorite for toddlers. They start to finish your sentences once you read them enough and it makes you so proud!

Besides, are there any illustrations better than Mr. Brown? Look at him! He is awesome!

I can't read the board book version of this because they shorten it. They leave out cute pages like Mr. Brown making a sound like a goldfish kiss.

Also love The Eye Book. Written by Dr. Suess (as Theo LeSieg) but not illustrated by. All the kids love pink underpants.

After I finished photographing the books I stacked them up next to this floor chair and later caught Juliet sitting there reading them.

I did not set this up! She was just doing it. I did turn one of the book right side up, but the pure joy from reading is hers alone.

Then later, I caught her sitting at the table with someones school work. They learn by example! Read to your kids!!


Progress, not perfection

I hate that there has been a lack of posting on the J train. Not because I am a slave to the blog, but because a lot has been going on. And the amount of blogging has not met my personally imposed standards. But I have been trying to temper the perfectionist in myself and celebrate any forward progress that goes on around here.

My baby has emerged into a full blown toddler, complete with getting super dirty, finding all inappropriate objects and eating them, climbing on top of everything, and looking extremely cute (most of the time in her diaper) while doing all of the above. It is sad and beautiful all at the same time.

We had the 100th day of home school a couple of weeks ago, and it was complete with counting 100 things, eating 100 things, writing about 100, and the culmination (and probably the only thing they will remember) of burning 100 matches. If you would like to keep the attention of your home school student, just burn something.

The photographer and perfectionist in me really wants to apologize for these flashy, non artsy, quick snap shots but I just didn't have time for much else. We're going for progress here, not perfection. (And the above photo isn't even turned correctly! It says, "I wish I had 100 iPads, but I'm glad I don't have 100 poop.")

(I just turned around to see what Juliet was doing. She is standing on top of a chair playing with a knife.)

This past week was Spring Break and my older girls went with my parents to their house for a few days so I could work with the boys on their bedroom. We have not done anything in there since we moved in last summer and I have been wanting to transform it into something...anything, besides what it was, which was plain and boring and ugly.

So I ignored all housework and laundry for about 48 hours and we painted and shopped and hung posters and emerged much better than we started. There is still more to be done but there has been progress.

The kids and I left to go get the girls and spend a few days with my parents and while we were gone one more poster came in the mail and Jimmy hung it up, along with the mirrors. More progress. Not perfection, but progress.

(Speaking of progress, Juliet is now sitting on the kitchen table flipping through a magazine.)

If you can't tell, the boys decided on a Beatles theme to their room. The walls are gray, but while I was painting them they looked blue and even purple at times but they turned out fine. Sometimes you stick with your color because you believe in it. Sometimes you stick with it because you can't imagine having to take it back and start over. It was a little of both. Jackson bought a disco light with his own money. The black squares are chalkboard paint.

(Juliet has now gotten off the table, down onto the chair, off the chair, pushed the chair in and crawled into the living room. That's actually pretty close to perfection.)

Since returning from my parents and stopping on the boys room for now, I have been working hard to put everything away and clean a little and slay the laundry monster so I can have a fresh start to the remainder of the home school year. I always want to quit after Spring Break but we will press through it and look forward to summer break. I'm going to make all kinds of forward progress and tell perfection it can take a flying leap into a mound of laundry or a stack of school work.


A Date Night Miracle

We had date night last night. This is a huge event. We never go out on dates unless we have grandparents in town who can babysit.

So what did we do??? What do you do on such an occasion?

It is intimidating. But not really. Because we don't really care what we do. As long as it is with each other and without children.

We went to Carrabba's. Ate with a gift card AND a coupon. Not afraid to appear cheap. I overloaded on sweet tea. (The rest of the night I had to pee every half hour.)

Then we went to the gas station and cleaned Jimmy's car and vacuumed it. Because that's exactly what you want to do on date night when you're full of Carrabba's up to the top of your esophagus. You want to bend over and vacuum the floor of a car. And those of you who have ridden in Jimmy's car before know it's...well...MESSY. We pull up and get out and he says, "Don't throw away anything that looks important." Which cracked me up because all I had on my side was a stack of papers in the floor covered with dirt and leaves and such.

We went to this fancy place with rows of parking spaces and high power vacuums that are FREE. We each grabbed one and went at it from both sides. About 25% into it, Jimmy announced that he was going to win. I had no idea we were racing. The vacuuming was full of laughing and trash talking and fun. We ended up tying. It was a date night miracle.

After the vacuuming Jimmy asked me if I wanted to get the car washed. I said, "Do we have to do it ourselves?" and he said, "Maybe."

But no, we (and this is ONLY on a date night, folks) sprang for the $8 car wash and held hands while we were guided by machine through a foamy paradise. Before we went in a young man cleaned our windows and sang "More than a Feeling" (Boston) as we entered into the tunnel. "I see my Maryann walking away..." It was, yes, a date night miracle.

Where can the date night go from here? Well, we weren't done yet. Target was next. It was not extremely exciting but when you can take your time and have no kids, it's super. Target was complete with a four year old-ish boy at the checkout (where we paid with a gift card) throwing a major tantrum ("I want it! I want it!") really loudly and it was like a message from the Lord reminding us to be grateful our children were not with us. And we were. Truly. Really.

Then we went to Old Navy. Bought some stuff. Yes, with a gift card. I don't know how we do it. It was a date night miracle.

Then you know what I did? I went to Publix and didn't push a cart. And even though I needed groceries, I didn't buy them. I bought some cookies instead and ate them immediately. No one else ate them. Just me. And when I got home I hid the box so no one knows where they are.

It was a date night miracle.


A Pizza Hut

Does anyone else remember that camp song...

"A Pizza Hut, a Pizza Hut
Long John Silver's
and a Pizza Hut...

Here's what's been going on the past few weeks. You can sing it to the Pizza Hut tune...

A Cowboy Day
A Cowboy Day
Homeschool Art Class
and a Cowboy Day

A Cowboy Day
A Cowboy Day
Homeschool Art Class
and a Cowboy Day

Made Couch Forts!
Made Couch Forts!
Homeschool Art Class
and a Cowboy Day

Made Couch Forts!
Made Couch Forts!
Homeschool Art Class
and a Cowboy Day!