favorite books + giveaway

So the holidays are upon us and I know I’m always looking for new books to give the girls. We get most of our books at the library book sales, but I do like to buy a few new ones for special occasions, like Christmas. I thought I would share some of our favorite books and authors.

First up, Karen Katz, who has written and illustrated oodles of board, lift the flap style books. The pictures are bright and colorful and both girls love to lift all the flaps. She also has a few picture books that we love. If I see any of her books at a yard sale or the library book sale I always buy them. The stories are simple and fun for the littlest of readers. Here are two of our favorites.

Another option for the youngest readers is board books written and illustrated by Leslie Patricelli. Again, the illustrations are bright, colorful and simple, perfect for little ones. The stories are simple and tend to revolve around teaching opposites or an activity.

We of course love Eric Carle. I think overall the favorite is From Head to Toe. The girls love to act out the motions that the different animals make. Greta will sit and read it to Eloise and show her exactly what to do, it just makes me smile.

Another favorite author/illustrator is Mo Willems. He has written a couple of different series and we love them all, but especially the Elephant and Piggie series. We also love the Pigeon books and of course Knuffle Bunny. The Pigeon and Elephant and Piggie series are both good for relatively young children. Eloise will mostly sit for them (depends on her mood) and Greta loves them. They are funny and cute, and Matt and I enjoy them just as much as the girls. The illustrations are simple, but fun, and read almost like a comic book.

Another author/illustrator we all really enjoy is Kevin Henkes. He has books that are good for young readers, and also for the preschool set. One of the first we read a few years ago, was Kitten’s First Full Moon, which was a Caldecott winning book. The illustrations are always beautiful, whether they are black and white or color. There are books about animals and then a series of mouse books, in which different mice experience different things in life (i.e. disliking their name, losing their special blanket, etc.). There are literally dozens of books by Henkes and we have loved nearly all of them.

A very recent addition that I particularly love is People by Peter Spier. This is of course a much older book, but one I had forgotten about. It tells about all the different people around the world and how we are the same and different. I love all the illustrations and details to help teach the girls all about different kinds of people around the world, especially since we live in a very un-diverse area. I’m excited to check out some of his other books as well.

Another recent addition to our list is Press Here by Herve Tullet. A friend recently gave this book to the girls. Eloise especially loves it and has taken to keeping in her room so she gets to read it every night. It is quite a different kind of book. It asks the child to press the dots, blow on the pages, and shake the book. Tullet has written oodles of books and they all appear to be unique. I can’t wait to try out some of the other ones.

These are just a few of our favorite books. There are plenty more than I can’t think of and I’m sure we will continue to add to the list. Since it is the season of giving I thought I would give a book away. So all you have to do is leave a comment with one of you or your children’s favorite children’s books. The winner will get to pick any book (or another book by an author I mentioned) mentioned in this post that is $15 or less and available from Amazon. I’ll order it right up and it should ship 2-day shipping, as long as it is available for the book you chose. Make sure to leave a valid email address when submitting your comment (no one else can see your email). I’ll pick the winner next Tuesday, December 6, 2011, around 3 pm Eastern time.

**Winner is Amy of Maker Mama

P.S. The links in this post are amazon affiliate links and so if you buy a book through the link I get a teeny tiny amount of money. I am, however, buying the give away book with my own money 🙂

nurse greta, patient eloise & school songs

Last night the girls started playing Nurse Greta and Patient Eloise. Eloise was very into participating and doing just what Greta asked. In the second video you will see Greta check the baby’s heartbeat. Apparently all the trips to the midwife are teaching them something.

And Greta singing some school songs, “What’s the Weather Like Today?” and “God Bless America.” We are learning more and more about her school days. Apparently, they start out with the pledge, weather song and God Bless America.

33 weeks

I’m now 33 weeks pregnant and starting to wonder if this baby will cross the 9 lb line. Overall, I’m feeling better than I was a few weeks ago, which is a good thing, since I wasn’t sure how I would make it to the end. Weight gain has definitely slowed down, despite eating the same stuff and amounts. Who knows. With the previous pregnancies I gained weight much slower in the beginning and then packed on pounds at the end. Lately it has only been 0.5 – 1 lb a week. Blood pressure and everything is still great. A few weeks ago I had a dream that the baby was a boy. I believe Matt is still convinced the baby is a girl, so we shall see in a few short weeks.

We are starting to get things a bit ready. I got Eloise’s clothes out of her dresser and into a different one. Now I need to wash baby clothes and put them in the dresser. And find all the swaddling blankets and bitty cloth diapers. We got Greta a new carseat, so we now have one to use for the baby. Eventually I will rearrange the car to put all the seats in their new home. I’ve gotten some Christmas shopping done and we are planning to get our tree shortly after Thanksgiving, in case the baby makes an early arrival. I’m still hoping the baby will be here before Christmas, so that way we can all be settled in at home. Greta was born almost two weeks before her due date, so it is definitely possible. We are trying to get as much stuff done around the house now, while we still have a little time.

We have a tentative plan for the girls when we go to the hospital and hopefully that will all work out and the girls don’t end up at the hospital with us, although the midwives have let me know that if we have to bring, that’s fine. I appear to be carrying this baby in nearly the same way as the others, all out the front, which most people claim means I’m having a boy, but we know how that worked out in the past. Baby is head down and hopefully will stay that way. Baby is hanging out on my right hand side, just like both Greta and Eloise did. Apparently my uterus just likes to expand to the right side. I have rarely ever (with any pregnancy) felt any movement or baby on the left side of my body. Strange.

33 weeks

33 weeks

All day today Greta has been carrying a baby in her belly. She claims it is going to be born on November 1, no matter how many times I explain that it has already past. Her baby is not going to be born though, it is just going to come out, whatever that means.

IMG_8620-1

And that’s about all. Thankful for an uneventful pregnancy so far.

home improvements

If you watch enough HGTV, especially House Hunters, most people wouldn’t want our house because it isn’t upgraded. They would make comments like “this whole house needs to gutted and updated.” And while yes, it is quite out of date, everything is functional and in mostly good shape, especially considering it is 50 years old. We have oodles of wood paneling, that thankfully is painted white, so it is tolerable, and bathrooms and kitchens that are pretty much as old as the house. The appliances aren’t new, but aren’t original and still work just fine. In fact, when Matt came to look at this house during and open house the realtor said the house needed to be totally redone. But, we were looking for the three Ls, layout, location, and lot. This house fits all of those things just perfectly and so since everything is functional we were sold. While we certainly don’t LOVE everything about it, it is livable and works for us. Do we dream about totally redoing the kitchen? Certainly, but it isn’t something that is going to happen right now. For now, we do small little projects that make things work a little better for us.

Up first, is the downstairs bathroom, which I’m sure everyone would balk at on tv. There is brown/white tile and wood paneling on the walls! There was carpet on the floor. The carpet has always been an issue for us, because it just doesn’t make any sense to have carpet in a bathroom, especially one that is frequented by small people, who leave messes. I mean, really, how in the world do you clean carpet in a bathroom? So earlier this week, Matt ripped out the carpet and put down some vinyl tiles. Here is the carpet before (you can also see the lovely walls):

IMG_8454-1

And here is the new tiles, did you know there are vinyl tiles that you can grout? There are! They look SOOOO much better and well now we can actually clean the floors!

IMG_8508-1

IMG_8530-1

There is a second kitchen in our house that was once part of the in-law suite. Since we don’t actually use the in-law suite as an in-law suite, we have repurposed the rooms. The bedroom is our guest room/storage room, the living room is our playroom and the kitchen was formerly full of boxes and junk piles, some to trash, some to donate. After nearly a year and a half of having a totally useless space we have turned it into a craft room. There is still a bunch of junk on the counters that I didn’t take a picture of, I’m working on that still. But, we have a dresser (found on the curb for free) that has all sorts of kid craft stuff, such as coloring books, plain paper, stickers, play doh, feathers, glitter, glue, etc. And we brought up our old dining room table for the girls to sit at. I’m hoping to get the sewing machine out and make a few things before the baby is born. Matt also replaced the ceiling fan with some track lighting to help give us a bit more light.

IMG_8531-1

IMG_8532-1

We have plans to hang some curtain cable rod things to display art work. Hopefully this weekend we will make it to Ikea to buy them. We were going to paint a chalkboard area, but are still deciding on that since the walls have wood paneling (yep, again, I said they were everywhere), and aren’t sure how well that will work. I’m also looking for a bench to replace the chairs with, since the girls keep falling in between the two chairs and I think a bench would be better and easier. And that’s it for now! Eventually we will get to the other zillion things on our list.