Favorite Kids Picture Books

26 August 2015

I would classify these as family favorites for the 2-4 and 30 year old crowd.

Lucy June's favorite book is this one (she's original), and Jake's favorite is this one, and B. J. Novak's book had him practically hyperventilating. I'm pretty partial to this one, but the books that made this list are ones that ALL of us love.

This means that the kids like them genuinely, request them incessantly, recite them spontaneously, and they're not too long. I can't really handle long picture books. I really like reading out of chapter books with Jake, but there's something about the long (I'm looking at you Cars and Trucks) picture book that makes me tired. With these books you won't even have to sneak skip pages!

So now that I've set the bar adequately high: here are some of our favorite picture books. You've certainly heard of some of them, but I confess these were all new to me since having kids.

Little Owl Lost 
by Chris Haughton
The illustrations in this lean toward Microsoft Paint, and the colors are a little bit much, but I LOVE THIS BOOK. The kids get so into it. The fact that they care so much that this little owl finds its mother makes me feel pretty validated. And it's SHORT. We're talking like a sixty second commitment.

We Were Tired of Living in a House 
by Liesel Moak Skorpen
This is my favorite book on the list. These siblings take off into the wilderness and have these little adventures. It's pretty poetic ("So we packed our bag with sweaters and socks and scarves and scarlet leaves and gold and a frog who was a particular friend" - stuff like that.) In my mind it's childhood perfected.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie 
by Laura Joffe Numeroff
This one seems to make every favorite picture book list out there but for good good reason. The little kid pandering to every crazy whim of a mouse who nap-strikes. Every time I read this book I feel kind of triumphant. I'm like: "There is justice in the world because someday you will end your day in a puddle of exhaustion with cheerios in your hair too, little person!"

Frog and Toad 
by Arnold Lobel
Apparently the Frog and Toad books are kids readers that I should've been introduced to in second grade or something, but I missed them. They don't quite hold my heart like some of the books on this list, but I do really like the collection and so do my kiddos - even the not quite two year old. I like how ambiguously moral they are. I also like that it adjusts the kids to books that LOOK more like chapter books, but each story goes really quick.

We're Going on a Bear Hunt 
by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury
Again. Most people know it. But such a great one. I love the rhythm of the book that the kids can latch onto so quickly. The dad and the baby in the book are delightful. And the whole time I'm reading it, I'm thinking about the mom sipping tea in her quiet quiet house.

Leave me some recommendations! I'm always on the lookout for good kids books. I'm way pickier than I ever imagined I would be!

Linking up with Jenna!

Remodel Update

25 August 2015

So we're about a week away from moving. Knock. On. Refinished Wood.

The floors are almost done, and the walls are closed up, and Jacob's buying appliances and putting in the cabinets over the next few days.

We will move in before the trim is on, before the upper cabinets are in, and before we've even ordered countertops. We haven't touched the bathroom. The tub literally has eight dead roaches in it right now. While we will address the dead roach situation, we won't update the bathroom until after we add a second bathroom sometime in the next six months.

We've blitzed the first stage of this remodel. We have about eight reasons - financial, familial, physiological - for doing it all so quickly, but it makes me nervous that we're not giving enough time to the decision making process. I've had to pick wood stains via texted photo in the grocery store parking lot while two little people screeched through the Little Einsteins theme song in their car seats.

So my anxiety is probably warranted. I'm already worried that we framed the open doorway between the living room and the kitchen too small, and that the new kitchen island won't look quite right.

But in the interest of optimism. Here are some things that are going right.

#1 The A/C works.

We can't get the furnace to light and the water heater is also a question mark, but on the scale of 1 to 100 degrees in Houston in August, I think we came out ahead on this one.

#2 The front windows.

It was Saturday and Jacob needed to frame the windows in before the drywallers were coming...on Sunday.

So we thought about buying generically sized vinyl windows from Lowes, but these would certainly clash with the front windows we'd decided to keep.

We could order cu$tom window$, but besides the hefty price tag, this would have us moving in with literal garbage bags for windows while we waited several weeks for them to come in.

So we hit up Houston Historic Salvage knowing that the likelihood of them having what we needed was really really low. But we lucked out. Though not new, we found some super high quality windows that would work for the space. New windows on the left. Old windows on the right.
Here's another after we'd replaced all the front windows and the drywall started to go up. This was about ten days (two lifetimes) ago. 
And here's me sweeping up the puzzle we used to entertain the kids while buying the windows.  
Nothing like a toddler and a precocious four year old at a salvage yard: strips of trim with exposed nails jutting out into the aisles, panes of glass leaning against door frames, vintage pedestal sinks teetering at every corner.

#3 The Floors

The floors in the entire house needed refinishing and the parquet flooring in the living room had to be replaced entirely. Here's what they looked like before.
Some parts were worse than others:
And here they are now.
I love them. The pic doesn't do them justice. The wood is red oak and we used a "Country White" stain on them. There's enough variation in the color that they should be pretty graceful when it comes to sweeping, but they are light and lovely.

Here's the kitchen as of yesterday morning.
Jacob is plugging away at it as I type, so maybe we'll have some cabinets by the time we move. Or maybe we'll eat cereal off of moving boxes and become real friendly with the neighborhood's taco trucks.

Now I'm off to scour the net for the least offensive ceiling fans with light fixtures I can find. (Tips welcome!)

7 Quick Takes: A Babymoon and A Remodel

07 August 2015

- 1 -
Jacob and I were in upstate New York for a wedding a couple weekends ago. A dear friend from grad school got married to a longtime sweetheart, and I was so happy we were able to celebrate with them.

This meant - excepting little baby in utero who makes his/her presence known in a consistent variety of ways - we were childless for three whole days and hardly knew what to do with ourselves.

The wedding was in Ithaca. We went out for breakfast Saturday morning and then to the Ithaca Farmers Market. The market was so luscious - unfortunately Houston farming right now is kinda...limp. Everything's too hot and always looks tired. The people, the produce, the trees. Not so in Ithaca. I saw dahlia's as big as my head and the happiest bunches of greens, and there was no reason for me to buy any of it...which was good because I wanted to buy EVERYTHING. 
I could've spent hours watching all the people in their chaco's and muted lavenders and olive greens and dreadlocks, juicing wheatgrass and nursing babies in the backs of Subaru Foresters. My kind of cliche. I really just need to move to Portland.

We spent one night in New York City and like the touristing bosses we are, we didn't venture outside of a two mile radius of our hotel. But we did have the best gelato I've ever tasted stateside. We went to a different place for cocktails and another place for dinner. We have priorities and they're all food related.

- 2 -
I was SO uncomfortable on the flights, but every time I thought about how kid-free we were, I couldn't muster a single complaint. No car seats or baggage carts. No naptimes to fuss with. So much less forethought. I was the only one who whined. Ah, but I missed them. I missed them a lot. It took a whole week of being back before the messes of mothering began to faze me again.

- 3 -
The kids did great at home with their grandmother and uncle. They missed us some I'm sure between the hours of water play and trips to the beach.
Lucy June did hug me for two minutes straight when we walked through the door. <3

- 4 -
The remodel is in full swing, and we're still planning on moving in early September. Can! We! Do it?!?!


So far we've begun to repair some old termite damage behind the drywall and ripped out the old kitchen.
We had the A/C reducted so the air is blowing into the house instead of into the attic. Jacob piped gas to the kitchen, and he and his brother tore out the molding parquet floor in the living room.

Originally when you opened the front door you walked straight into a coat closet.
So we knocked out that closet to open up the living room. Now when you open the front door you see clear to the backdoor.
The world tells me this is bad feng shui, but I tell the world that we're eventually going to move the backdoor.

We knocked out a built-in in the living room to open up a wider pathway between the living room and the kitchen.

- 5 -
The likelihood of our moving on time depends a lot on this weekend. My dad comes into town, and he and Jacob will tackle whatever rewiring needs to happen. We'll also try to get a sense of why the water pressure in the bathroom is terrible. If those projects are pretty straightforward, we'll be set.

Over the next couple weeks, we have floor guys and drywallers coming and Jacob will be able to focus on the kitchen installation.

- 6 -
The stress of moving again and a second blitzed remodel, is definitely charmed by getting to design another kitchen. Here are the current ideas:
We'll do some kind of light greyish/sageish/green for the lower cabinetry with gold hardware. We have very little upper cabinetry in the design, so we'll run with the nice cheap open shelving trend. I'm thinking octagonal carrara marble for the backsplash. The countertops will be white. There's a marbly quartz that I really like, but Lowes will have to give us one heck of a deal on it because it is $$$. 

- 7 -
Our trip to New York marked the end of our summer traveling. We have traveled almost every other weekend since April, and for the foreseeable future we are staying put. The next five weeks of our lives are pretty defined. Jacob will be remodeling. The kids will be eating cereal. And I will be on the couch trying to convince myself to write or maybe tackle some prenatal DoYogaWithMe videos if I can love myself enough.

And then we will move and have a baby. Hopefully in that order and not simultaneously.

Linking up with Kelly!
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