Friday, April 29, 2016

20 Favorite Books for Boys

Hello!  I'm Jessica, a wife and adoptive mom to 3 little ones.  I write about adoption, crafts, faith, and life's little and big adventures over at Sweet Little Ones.  I'm so excited to be a part of Whitney's series about all things little boys to celebrate the arrival of Fletcher into her sweet family!

We are big time book lovers in our family.  Every shelf is full of books at our house, and we typically have 30 or more books checked out at the library at a time.  So we thought the perfect way to welcome Fletcher would be to share with him our all-time favorite books!

It was hard to narrow it down, but here are our top 20 favorite picture books for boys (and girls too!):

Boats: Speeding! Sailing! Cruising! by Patricia Hubbell
This is one of our family's all time favorite books (and authors).  The illustrations and rhymes are so fun and unique!  You should definitely check out the rest of her transportation books too - they are fabulous!

Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle
The power of kindness - especially to those who aren't nice to you.

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
The classic story of Mike and his steam shovel Mary Anne.  They are being put out of work by the new modern shovels.  How will this old pair find a way to keep working and stay together?

The Three Little Gators by Helen Ketteman
A fun and silly twist on the story of The Three Little Pigs.  This one is a fave and always gets us giggling!

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
The classic story of how a shy bull who likes to sniff flowers ends up in a bull fight.  Our kids' #1 fave book.

We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Helen Oxenbury and Michael Rosen
Our kids especially love to act this one out and really play like they're hunting for the bear!

Freight Train by Donald Crews
Learning colors with trains.  It's so simple, but picture perfect.

Pigs in the Mud in the Middle of the Rud by Lynn Plourde
Who will save the day when all the animals are stuck in the mud blocking the road?  This silly book gets lots of laughs every time.

Dig! by Andrea Zimmerman
Counting construction projects with Mr. Rally and his dog Lightning.

Roger, the Jolly Pirate by Brett Helquist
The story of how a "too nice" pirate saves the day.

Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? by Dr. Seuss
So many fun and interesting sounds - and of course, rhymes! 

The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper
The classic story of a little train that teaches us to never give up.

The Red Carpet by Rex Parkin
A police chase of a runaway hotel red carpet!  But where is the carpet going?

The Eyes Game by Hervé Tullet
Every page of this board book turns into a silly mask for your little one.  A great book to read and play with.

Covered Wagons, Bumpy Trails by Verla Kay
This rhyming book follows a pioneer family's fun and hard adventure as they head out West.  This book is a new find for our family.  This author has several rhyming historical books for kids, and every single one we've read so far has been awesome! 

The Franklin Book Series by Paulette Bourgeois
We love Franklin!  He is always learning to be a good and kind turtle with the help of his loving parents, neighbors, and friends.

Alphabeasties by Sharon Werner and Sarah Forss
Animals made out of lots of little letters.  Letters made into images.  This is such a fun learning tool for teaching your child the alphabet!

Spicy Hot Colors: Colores Picantes by Sherry Shahan
Learning colors in English and Spanish through bright colors, a vibrant culture, and fun rhymes!

20 Hungry Piggies: A Numbers Book by Trudy Harris
A silly twist on the nursery rhyme This Little Piggy.  Count the piggies and find the hidden number and hidden wolf on every page!  How will the Piggies escape the wolf?  A big fave at our house.

And last, but certainly not least:

Let's Go Irish! by Aimee Aryal
Hey, this list is for Whitney (and she and I met through our love of the Irish!) so of course, I had to add a book about Notre Dame!  The leprechaun takes you on a tour around Notre Dame's campus on a football game day.  It's the perfect book for a new little Fighting Irish fan!
 (This author has many books on different teams (pro and college) and sports (basketball, football, baseball) so click here to see if she's written about your favorite team!)

What are your favorite children's books, especially for boys?  Please share in the comments!  (I can't wait to add your faves to our library list!)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

5 Fun Nursery Themes for Baby Boys

I never expected to be a mom to a baby boy. ALL of my friends had girls, so I guess that it was easier to plan baby girl things because I as used to them.  I had the perfect frilly nursery pieced together in my head.  When I found out we were having a boy, I still wanted to do something cute.

Here are some fun nursery ideas for baby boys!
1. Robot Nursery When we were picking out Kane's nursery theme, we decided on a robot theme because my husband works with computers and is fascinated by electronics.  Plus, it was something that we hadn't seen done before.  You can find the baby bots crib bedding here, and similar wall vinyls here, here, and here.

 2. Pirates Nursery Arrrgh!  Pirates make me think of Peter Pan and little boys in Neverland.  Walmart has some really cute and affordable pirate crib bedding and decor here.

3. Dinosaur Nursery I really wanted to do a dinosaur nursery for Kane, but the robots won out. Now I wish I would've, because he is absolutely obsessed. Here's a crib bedding set, but you can also get by with this fitted sheet or this one. And check out this cute dino decor from Target.

4. Where the Wild Things Are Nursery This is a great twist on the popular monster nursery theme.  I grew up loving the book "Where the Wild Things Are", and it would be the perfect nursery theme for your very own Max.

 5. Traditional Blue Nursery For those of you who aren't fans of themed nurseries, you can always go with a traditional blue nursery.  Whether you go with a baby blue, aqua, or navy, white and gray always make good color pairings.

Tif is a boy mom to Kane, a rambunctious two year old with an obsession for dinosaurs.  She's also an attorney and dedicated bargain hunter blogging about style, beauty, and life at Bright on a Budget.  Tif is one of the co-hosts of the High Five for Friday weekly linkup.  You can follow her on InstagramBloglovin', or GFC, or get to know her a little better here.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Favorite Books for Boys

Hi!  I am excited to be writing a post for Whitney’s blog while she takes a break to enjoy all those newborn snuggles with Fletcher.  I cannot wait to hear all of your stories about being a mom to a little boy!  Being a boy mom is the best. You will love learning a whole new world of trucks (who knew there were so many kinds?) and reading dinosaur books trying to figure out how to pronounce all those names.

A little bit about me… My name is Kelly and I have been married to my husband Corey for six years.  We have two kids (Charlie who is 4 and Eloise who is 15 months).  It has been awesome getting to raise these two little ones.  It is so rewarding getting to see their unique personalities and watching their relationship bloom.  We live in Chicago.  I grew up in the same town as Whitney and Kevin so living in Chicago is very different but we love it!  

When Whitney asked me to write about anything related to raising a boy, I knew I wanted to talk about favorite books for boys. Before I decided to stay home with Charlie, I was a first grade teacher for many years and later a reading teacher.  One of my favorite workshops I attended while teaching was about building a classroom library.  I still remember the presenter talking about the importance of nonfiction books to get boys interested in reading. Many years later as I purchase books for our home, I make sure we have a good mix of fiction and nonfiction.

When Charlie was one he loved the board books with real pictures and the name of the object next to it.  We own many of the “First 100 ___ (animals, words, trucks)” books by Bright Baby and the “My First _____ (dinosaur, abc, things that go) Board Books”.  Charlie loved to point to each picture and learn all the names. 

Books by the author Michael Dahl have been great for teaching about manners and fixing poor behaviors.  The books cover topics such as saying thank you, calming down, and not hitting using animals or dinosaurs as the main characters.  These books use a simple story to talk about many of the issues that came along with being a two year old boy.  

Eloise and Charlie love to read books and it is one of our favorite activities to do together. When I asked Charlie he had a long list of books he wanted to share, but I will keep it to his five current favorites now that he is four! 

ABCs on Wings by Ramon Olivera
Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin 
Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker
Airport by Byron Barton

Thanks Whitney for letting me share some of our favorite books for boys!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Tuesday Talk: Catching Up

The past week has flown by.  We had my parents up to work on our new house, then Kevin's parents in town to visit and several appointments in between.  Kevin's super busy at work and we're all functioning on not quite enough sleep.  I'm trying to get back into the swing of things, but it's been tricky to figure out our new normal.  I am trying hard to take it easy and ease back into our routine.  That's easier said than done most days.  I forgot how often a baby needs to eat and how your schedule revolves around feeding/diapering/snuggling that tiny little person.  I'm sure we'll eventually nail this new routine, but 4 weeks into this two kid thing and it's safe to say we are hanging in there.

The best parts of our week were:

Fletcher outgrew all of his newborn sized clothing.  I washed and he's been wearing his 0-3 month outfits.  Won't be long before he outgrows those, too.  I always feel a twinge of sadness when it comes time to pack up a size of clothes and move into bigger ones.  It seems not to sting so bad once they're toddlers, but I know those tiny baby days really do fly by in the blink of an eye.

 He loves to hold on to you when you're snuggling him.
He holds onto my hair, my fingers and my shirt as he's falling asleep.

I catch her in the Rock-n-Play all the time.  Olive thinks it's so funny that she used to use this when she was a baby.  Fletcher sleeps in it now, but she's sure to snuggle in it regularly.

We graduated from sponge baths to sink baths and Olive was eager to help out.  Fletcher didn't mind the water and big sis loved scrubbing his toes, putting "sham-boo" on him and drying him off with his dragon towel.

My parents took vacation days to come up and help us with the house.  How great is that!?!?   The kids loved seeing their Mimi & Papaw, we loved seeing all of these projects getting done and appreciate living just two hours away from them. 

 My Mom & I snuck away one evening to do some shopping.  We had a great time and enjoyed hanging out together.

 We had a few evenings with a fussy baby so I broke out the Ergo, wore him and Olive worked on special projects.  We painted, played with playdoh and got out stickers.  She loved the activities and the extra attention.

I'll take all of the sleepy smiles :)

We ran errands and went to the grocery store for the first time this week.  We managed okay thanks to Dum-Dums and giant carts at Wal-Mart.  Fletcher sleeps through most things right now so it's hard to imagine them both being up and needing attention while I shop.  I may have to start grocery shopping solo when that time comes... kidding... kind of :)

 We're starting to introduce Fletcher to our favorite books.  Of course Olive is wearing a Sheriff Callie costume :)

 We had a funny toddler milestone this week.  Olive loves mexican food and we ate at our favorite spot with my parents.  She sat down, perused the menu and was ready to order when the waiter came.  He approached the table and without missing a beat she said,
"I want lemonade.  Chips and salsa and chicken and rice please"
then closed her menu.
She did order all of her favorites and it was funny that she figured out how to get them.

Fletcher's hair seems to be a lot lighter than Olive's and we love his mohawk.

 Kevin golfed with his dad and brother and then we had dinner at the country club.  It was Fletcher's first visit and Olive loves everyone that works there.  The food is always delicious so it was nice to have a great sit down meal.

The cats always go through an adjustment period when a new baby arrives and Topher is feeling extra needy.  He meows often, wants as much attention as possible and acts a fool if we have any guests over trying to get them to pay attention to him.  Oliver seems to be feeling better so all is almost right in the cat world :)

We received Baby Wren and The Great Gift to review this week and it's a darling book.  The illustrations are beautiful and I loved the story line.  It emphasizes the fact that everyone has unique and special gifts to share with the world.  Each animal has great things to share with the world and all of those special details make the world a better place.  My daughter loves the book and asks to read it often.  I appreciate the message celebrating individuality and promoting ways to be proud of all of your God given gifts.  It's a special book.
*I was gifted this book in exchange for an honest review on BookLookBloggers.

 So things overall are ADORABLE at my house right now.
We're all tired, the house isn't as tidy as I'd like, to do lists are being ignored, but we're soaking up these newborn snuggles and taking everything one day at a time.

Hope you're having a great week!!  Follow me on instagram @polkadottyplace
I'll be back to blogging May 2nd and have lots of fun things on the horizon.
It's time to link up with my favorite ladies this week.
Join us with your best post of the week.
We had almost 180 people link up with us last time.

 Becky at BYBMG | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram
Michelle at Grammie Time | Pinterest | Instagram 
Polka-Dotty Place

Monday, April 25, 2016

Recipe Round Up: April

I have a fun collection of recipes to share with you today.  We were really fortunate to have several meals delivered to our house this month from new friends and family so I thought I'd share them with you.  I didn't try any new recipes this month.  I was busy with taking care of myself, a newborn and my family.  It was such a relief to have many dinners dropped off and not have to worry about grocery shopping and preparing food for my family every night.  A new mom's dream come true :)

Everyone dropped off food in disposable containers, most asked for food preferences/allergies of my family members and ran their food ideas by me first.  Everything was delicious and made dinners so easy for me this month.  We often had left overs and got two meals out of one dish.

Here are some GREAT meal ideas for new moms, anyone recovering from surgery or any family in need of a little extra love:

Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas
(Similar recipe here)
black beans
chips & salsa
Dark chocolate chunk brownies for dessert

 My sister brought some delicious, unconventional things that she'd knew I'd love:
Mrs. Schae Bars
(recipe found here)

 Strawberry Pie & a can of Redi Whip

She made me some pancakes to freeze and have on hand for easy breakfast options.  No one else brought me breakfast and it was so nice to pull a few out of the freezer each morning for an easy breakfast.

 You can't go wrong with comfort foods like
Chicken Pot Pie
served hot and ready to eat.

Premade salad mixes and fruit salads were always welcomed sides.

Hawaiian Ham Sandwiches
(similar recipe here)
 These were so good and really easy for me to heat up for dinner.
My friend paired them with a yummy vegetable soup.

 Papa Murphy's Pizza Extravaganza
  A friend texted to ask our favorite pizza toppings and then showed up with these delicious pizzas.  She got our favorite, a dessert pizza and then a Mini Murph (kid sized pizza) for Olive to DIY.  It was so much fun!  We loved this dinner and Olive had a blast making her own little pizza.


  Baked Pasta
rigatoni noodles, sauce, ground beef and mozzarella cheese
Frozen & ready to bake whenever we needed it
My MIL asked us to tell her our two favorite meals that she could make for us.  She brought up this baked pasta & her famous chili.  We froze both and pulled them out as we needed them.

Delicious Take Out
pick up your favorite meal from your favorite restaurant and deliver it to your friends.
Beef stew & bread made for a tasty dinner

All the fixins for
My dad grilled chicken, my mom got all the fixins chopped and ready for us.  She also shredded a bunch of chicken for us to make dinner prep that much easier.  We froze both and pulled them out as needed. 

Linking up with two of my favorite cooking ladies today:

Whitney @ Come Home for Comfort
 April New Recipes

and Katie @ Cup of Tea
Menu Monday - New Recipes to Try
Head over to their blogs to see what delicious meals they've been preparing.

We've also started a Pinterest Board called
New Recipes We've Tried and Loved!
Be sure to check it out and get some great ideas for meals at your house.