Oct 24, 2014

8 Books We're Loving Right Now {18 Months}

Okay, so she's actually 19 months and closer to 20 months, but for simplicity's sake, 18 months (or a year and a half) is more generalized. Also, she's been reading these book for several months, so it's more like "Books We're Loving Right Now (1 year—18 months)."

Oh, and I say "we," because goodness knows the parent needs to like the book, too. There are several books now sitting on the top shelf, because I frankly can't stand reading them. Either they're too old for her (too many words at this point), or the story just annoys me. If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy, right?

These are the books that we practically have memorized. They're the ones she'll ask for either by name or by pointing to them, and she's learned something from all of them, which I love. Of course we read more books (we try to stick to three each night, otherwise I'll be in there reading to her until the sun comes up), but these are the favorites:


1. Night Night, Baby. I picked this book up on a whim from TJMaxx many, many moons ago, and I'm SO happy I did. We both love this book! The colors are bold, and the characters are cartoony, but there are enough things for her to point out while I'm reading it to keep her entertained. She reads along with this book during parts, which is just adorable. The rhyming and repetition are good (keeps things short and sweet), and for awhile there she would ask to read this over and over again at night. I really need to buy more from this author.

2. If Kisses Were Colors. We got this as a gift and I'm actually surprised she loves it. The illustrations have a hand-drawn look, and are almost a little quirky and whimsical, while the text is a little more advanced (but still simple enough for a baby). I'm not sure why I didn't think she'd like it, but she loves it. She points out all of the animals, the rocks, the flowers, and trees, and it was in our top three rotation for a very long time. (She actually would bring it with her when she'd leave the room, and we lost it for awhile, but recently found it again.) This is another book that I need to buy more of from the author.

3. Love You Forever. I actually had this book on the top shelf for awhile, because I figured it'd be one for her to read when she's older. There's a lot of text, and even though it's super popular, it's not exactly a board book for babies. But she proved me wrong. I can just now read almost everything on the pages before she wants to turn to the next page, but before that she was infatuated by the pictures—she would stare at them for minutes (which is like hours for a baby), and luckily there are enough items to point out to her to keep her entertained. Before I could get around to reading everything on the page, I'd just rock her back and forth and say the familiar "I love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be." 

4. Who is Coming to Our House? This book is full of animals, which is the main reason she likes it, and I like it because it tells a super basic story of Mary and Joseph looking for a resting for Jesus, which is a great introductory into the Christmas stroy. The words rhyme and it tells a cute story of the animals preparing the manger for the arrival of their guests.

5. Hey! Wake Up! We have several Sandra Boyton books, but this is one of my favorites. The rhymes are fun and it has a good flow to it. There are fun things to act out: "Yawn, stretch, touch your toes. Shimmy, shimmy, shimmy, wiggle your nose!" Ironically, we read this book mostly at night.

6. If You Give a Cat a Cupcake. This was on sale at Kohl's last summer, and the cupcake lover in me couldn't resist it. It's a little advanced for her, but she really likes looking at all of the pictures. I usually make up my own shortened version of the story, because she wants to flip the pages so quickly, but I have a feeling this will be a book that she'll grow up with.

7. Goodnight Moon. This was another one I was hesitant about, and I don't know why. I just couldn't understand why it was so popular and I wanted to give other books a chance first. But low and behold, she loves this one. Its simple wording and big graphics make it appealing for little hands and eyes. She stares at the pages and after she's found everything she's looking for, she'll turn the page.

8. Go the F**k to Sleep. Have you heard about this book? It's effing fantastic, especially for those nights that your child just won't sleep. And, okay, she may not love this book, but she does point to it and beg me to read it to her some nights, despite the fact that it's on the top shelf. I omit the bad word, of course, but I do get a huge kick out of her wanting to read this. I think she's attracted to the tigers on the front, since she always says, "Roar!" when she wants to read it. If you need a baby shower gift (for a couple with a sense of humor), this is an awesome choice! Also, there's a new one out by the same author called, You Have to F*****g Eat, that I plan on buying ASAP.

**********
 
We have a lot of other books we read, but these have been the biggies for the past few months. If you need a book suggestion for a one year old, any of these would be great, since they'll grow into them (so to speak).

I'd love to hear what your kids' favorite books are! Leave a comment with their favorite books and how old they are! This mama needs some ideas for someone's Christmas gift and upcoming birthday!

Shameless plug: don't forget to sign up for the Scarf Swap! 


Oct 23, 2014

Thursday Things

I was up last night thinking about things, so I jotted them down in bullet point on my phone so I could elaborate later. Well, later is now!

Some things on my mind this Thursday morning:

+ I want to get one of these pictures (below) printed on canvas, but I'm having a really hard time picking one. Ideally, I'd like it to be horizontal, which stinks, because I think the vertical one (in the middle) is the overwhelming favorite. I took these last year and they're just so cute I need one of them hung up during the autumn season. I can't wait to get her little sister in a pumpkin next year! So tell me in the comments, which picture do you like the best?




+ Since I don't know what random thoughts are going to flow out of this post, let me at least put this plug here so I don't forget it later: Have you signed up for the Scarf Swap yet? Please do! I'm closing the sign-ups tomorrow when I go to bed, and I'd love to have more people join. Right now we're sitting at 30+ and I'd LOVE to have 50 people sign up—how cool would that be?! So tell alllllll of your friends to join!

+ Last night I couldn't decide what to have for dinner (a familiar tale over here these days), and I finally went with a baked potato topped with leftover taco soup. I almost threw the soup away since it's pretty much at the end of its shelf life, but I'm glad I saved it for last night—it was such a fantastic decision. I forgot how much I like baked potatoes. Yum.

+ We've kinda been under house arrest over here. Last week Julia came down with a cold and it's just lingered and lingered and lingered. Lots of snot and a cough, but no fever. Because of that, we've been hanging out a lot together. Usually I'll take her to a mom's morning out program (a HUGE lifesaver so I can have a break), but I didn't want to be that mom who knowingly took her sick kid around other kids. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), that means we've spent a lot of time at home.

+ Oh, and she gave me her cold a couple days ago. I think I'm feeling okay now, and I think she's on the mend? In an effort to not take too much medicine, I've been going a more natural route: hot tea and hot showers. I just need to say that my showers have been dee-lightful. Seriously, it's the highlight of my day. I bought some Herbal Essences Smooth Collection Shampoo and Conditioner (haven't used this kind since high school), and I'm head over heals for it. I catch whiffs of my hair throughout the day and it smells SO good, plus my hair is super soft and full of body! It has life to it again, which is so nice; I have to refrain from washing my hair too much now.


+ One day, to get out of the house, we ventured outside. I gave Julia a pot, she grabbed her "spoon" (a plastic shovel), and she started collecting leaves and twigs, then she proceeded to stir her mixture. It was adorable, and I sat there marveling at how wonderful it is that something like stirring leaves in a pot could entertain such a little person.

+ Speaking of finding ways to entertain her...I gave her another project while I was making muffins yesterday: the muffin cups! This was a big risk knowing they could end up all over the floor, but it actually distracted/entertained her for the entire time I made the muffins! I made these Whole Wheat Apple Walnut Muffins*, in case you're wondering, and they're not too shabby. Julia likes them, which means they're a keeper in my book. *I made mine with pecans, more apples than it called for, and I totally forgot about the buttermilk, so I just used whole milk.


+ Since we've been under the weather, we've watched more TV in the past week than I care to even really admit. I've just been so tired and not feeling well, that I've had to use it. Disney Jr., PBS Kids, and Nick Jr. are my heroes.

+ Speaking of Julia one more time, this girl has shoe fetish! It's a little ridiculous and a lot cute, but any time we walk by shoes at a store, she starts taking off her own shoes so she can try on  other shoes! I don't know where she got this from, because I wear the same ol' boring sandals day after day. Yet, when we're home she'll walk around in my shoes, or go to my closet and try on my shoes. She usually takes her shoes off the second I get her into the car seat, but lately—when I ask her to—she'll put them back on before we get out! It's awesome.

+ And speaking of shoes...head to Target, because right now they're 25% off with Cartwheel...not that I know that from experience or anything. Oh wait, I do. She wouldn't take the pairs of shoes off (pictured below), so wore them out of the store! She's very lucky her mama's a pushover for sparkly, cute, toddler shoes.

+ Also, how come nobody told me to get the Target REDcard when we got back from Italy? I can't even imagine how much money we could've been saving. They ask me every time I'm there if I want one, and I always pass—stupid me. But the other day I was there and I finally caved (because my bill was a lot more than I planned), and I wished that I got it a long time ago. They told me (and I don't know if this is nationwide) that if you sign up this week you'll get an extra 5% off coupon in the mail to use during specific dates next month. So, during those dates you can save 10% with the REDcard and then any additional Cartwheel/coupons on top of that. I heart Target.

+ As for the other baby (the one in my belly), we're just trucking along! I had an appointment a few days ago and they said everything looks great. I can feel her move all the time now, and the kicks (or rolls, or whatever she's doing in there) are becoming more pronounced. I'm pretty exhausted by the end of the day, but I think that's from running after a toddler.

+ I feel like that phrase, "running after a toddler" should be defined a little more. It's not that I'm always literally running after her (I do that, too). But my mind and attention are literally always on her, and I'm constantly checking into what she's doing to make sure it's okay. She climbs on the fireplace, she climbs on her little chair, she climbs on the toy chest. I may be sitting somewhere, but it's not like I can just type away like I'm doing right now (she's currently asleep in her crib). Other times, if she's not in the same room where I am, I'm constantly getting up to check on her—to tell her not to play with Bella's food and water for the millionth time, or to get out of the pantry and not pull down the tea packets (for the millionth time), or to please—for the love of God—to not throw stuff in the toilet (for the second time). And if we're out, there's the process of getting her in and out of the car seat, which is second nature to me now, but all that lifting wears on your body, especially when you're growing an extra human. So while we may not be running laps around each other at the track, my attention is always on her, and that is what's tiring.

+ I think that's it for now. My mind is pretty much blank, which is a nice feeling. Now it's time to catch up on things that I've let slip for the past week.



Oct 22, 2014

If/Then, or Why All of Jess’s Readers Should Follow My Blog {Guest Post}

Today you're in for a treat, because the lovely Brita (pronounced bree-tuh) from Belle Brita is taking over my blog with a fun post for you today. She recently got married, which was a total and happy surprise for her readers, and she shares insights into her life on an almost-daily basis. She's been one of my daily reads for months (years?) so I hope you'll check her out, too! (And after you read this, don't forget to sign up for the Scarf Swap!)

********************

Bonjour, y'all! I'm Brita, and I write at the fairly new blog Belle Brita. IF you’re reading this, THEN you probably already love Jessica Lynn Writes as much as I do. Depending on why you love her blog, I think you’ll love mine too.


Travel

If you like reading about Jess’s travels in Europe and in the States, then you should check out my travel adventures in France and in the States. I worked in France during my first two years out of school, and I’m slowly recounting my awesome stories on my blog. While I now live in Ohio, my husband and I enjoy traveling within the US, with tentative plans to take a trip to France in the near future. Most recently we took a pretty awesome trip to Colorado and Utah, road-tripping from Denver to Salt Lake City and back.

Skinny, Nerdy Husbands

If you like stories (and pictures!) of Jess’s skinny, nerdy husband, then you should find out more about my skinny, nerdy husband. Kenny is pretty adorable, but I’m partial to Dan, the man I married a little over six months ago. He’s a civil engineer who wooed me on OKCupid with his impeccable grammar and a joke about punctuation. He’s obviously not the only nerd in our relationship. His proposal might have included a Harry Potter book



Cute Baby Pictures

If you think Julia Grace is the cutest baby in the blogosphere, then you will definitely love…

Okay, I don’t have a baby. I don’t even have cute pets. I’m allergic to anything with fur. Will reflections on my wedding and newlywed life entice you? Maybe? I wore a really pretty dress!

Enthusiasm for Life

If you love everything about Jessica Lynn Writes because Jess inserts her bubbly personality into it all, then I hope you’ll give Belle Brita a chance too. While I can’t help but blog about politics, my faith, and feminism, I do it all with great enthusiasm. My tendency to jump up and down while clapping whenever I get excited spills over onto my blog. I don’t understand the point of having a blog and not being genuine. Part of being me is using lots of exclamation points!!!!

So hopefully I just sold you on MY blog. If you have blog, then I want to know why I should read it. Leave me a comment with YOUR blog!


Oct 20, 2014

Scarf Swap 2014 {Sign Up}

Okay, friends! It's time for the second-annual Scarf Swap! Last week the weather here in Georgia took a turn towards fall, so naturally, scarves are front and center on my mind again.

The only problem is that I can't really justify buying anymore scarves for myself, seeing as how my scarf collection is literally overflowing from just about every nook in our master bedroom (and throughout the house, if I'm being honest). BUT! If someone else bought a scarf for me, it's not like I could refuse it. Therefore, the scarf swap is awesome and you should totally join—not just because you'll get a scarf out of it, but because you'll get a fun snail mail package (sweet!) and you'll hopefully make a new blog/instagram friend as well. I'd call that a win/win/win.


Sounds pretty fantastic, right? I'll get right down to the nitty-gritty on how this works:

Step 1:

Sign-ups start today (using the form below) and end on October 24.

Step 2:

On October 27, you'll receive an email with your swap partner's info and I'll publish a post here with all of the swap participants. (To keep everyone accountable!)

Step 3:

You must contact your partner within 72 hours (by October 30). If you don't hear from your partner, please contact me and I'll arrange a way to publicly shame them new partner for you. Take this time to get to know your partner and their likes and dislikes. Read their blog and check out their Twitter/IG feeds. Ask about favorite colors, fabrics, patterns, etc. You want to send something they'll wear and get the same in return!

Step 4:

You have two weeks to shop and get to know your partner, but all scarves must be mailed out by Saturday, November 15

Step 5: 

Once you receive your scarf, create a post (or take pictures for IG) showing off your newest addition to your collection. Link up back here on Monday, November 24!! If you're on Instagram, you can also come back and link-up, but also use the hashtag #ScarfSwap14

Oh, and look! Here's a handy little visual reminder with all the dates! 
Write them down so you don't forget :)

Additional notes:
  • Open to all US bloggers and public Instagram account holders. (Those without a blog—who only have a public Instagram account—will be paired together first.)
  • Only open to those in the US or those with an APO/FPO address. (If you're outside of America and want to join, send me an email letting me know where you are. If there's enough interest from others in the same country, I'll match you guys up together!)
  • Scarves must be new (purchased and/or made specifically for your partner). There's no set price range, so use your best judgement or set one with your partner. (All you have to send is a scarf, but last year some went a bit further and sent an extra little gift—like matching nail polish. Talk to your partner about what your limits!)
  • Follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and my Facebook page! I'll post reminders about all of the deadlines, and other fun things here and there about the swap.
  • Out shopping and see a good deal somewhere, or just want to chat about the swap? Use the hashtag #ScarfSwap14 so everyone can see what you're saying.

*****If you're cool with all that jazz, then sign up using this form*****

(and please, please, please, only sign up if you plan on following through. 
Don't be that person who flakes:  

I know that was a lot of info, but I have one more thing! I'd love it if you could spread the word. This will only be fun if people join in, and the more the merrier is my motto for this, so get the word out using one of the buttons below!

Jessica Lynn Writes Scarf Swap 2014


Jessica Lynn Writes Scarf Swap 2014


 Happy scarf shopping :)
 
(If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below. If you have a question, chances are someone else has the same question, so I can answer it publicly! Unless, of course it's something you don't want answered publicly...then you should email me!)
 
*Update (10/21): There are currently 19 people signed up after day one, which is more than we had last year! I'll try to keep this updated so y'all can see how many people are participating! 
*Update (10/22): We're up to 28 people :)