Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Our Favorite Things from Lakeshore Learning

 
First let me start of by saying that this is in no way sponsored by Lakeshore Learning.  I just really love their products!  They are all quality made, the boys enjoy playing and learning with them and most of these things we have had for a few years.  Lakeshore has brick and mortar stores as well as their online store.  However if you have one in your area, I highly recommend you go in and walk around. It is worth the look-see!

There are a few things that are more geared toward kiddos Truman's age and the same for Winston's age but I'll say this: Both boys enjoy playing with all of the things!  

For the younger kiddos, you can't go wrong with their Color Rings Sorting Set or Button Size Sorting Box.  Both are great for learning colors and shapes and tuning fine motor skills.  

Another fun color learning item is the Let's Go Fishing playset.  Winston received this when he was about 1.  We have played with it like crazy and it is so well made that it still looked brand new when I got it out for Truman to play with it!  I like that it has the colors also written on the side of the fish.  Now that Winston is learning site words he gets a kick out of spelling the words on the side of the fish!

Lakeshore has quite a few different types of discovery boxes.  We have the Color Discovery set and the Shapes set is just precious too!  They also have a what's inside version for older kiddos.

Hands down, without a doubt in my mind this set of bugs is Winston's favorite thing from Lakeshore. I purchased this for him when he was 2 and a half and this gets played with on the regular.  He's five now!  These bugs have been sorted, stacked, marched all over they house.  They have overtaken block buildings, taken rides on all types of trucks and cars, and have even taken a bath!  We have built them crazy houses and the scoopers have acted as spaceships a time or two!  

Winton received this I Can Build It set when he was three and he wore.it.out!  I cannot even begin to tell you how many times he took apart and then put back together these automobiles.  We played garage and repair store.  He put all blue screws in one and purple in another.  We mixed and matched the pieces.  These are great for developing motor skills and patience!  {haha!} 

This Don't Let the Bugs Fall game is a hit with both boys.  A kids version of Jenga, it helps with color identification and critical thinking skills.  It also makes for a great tower to ram cars into as well!   

And to wrap it up I'll link three more of our favorites: this set of soft blocks is perfect for building and smashing and crashing; magnetic pieces for creating all sorts of crazy cars and trucks; counting cars!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Our Favorite Books for Kiddos

I'm sure most people are familiar with the favorites of today like The Book with No Pictures, Dragons Love Tacos, the Pete the Cat series and Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site.  Today, I'm sharing a few that you may not be familiar with but that we just love to pieces!

Our favorite books can be found in a myriad of places: Amazon, Target, Barnes & Noble and even many local book stores.  We have spent hours reading these books below and hope that you might find one or two that your littles will adore too!

Any of the Indestructible Books are fantastic for small hands as they look through books because the pages are indestructible.  Little ones can bite them, fold them, scrunch them and no damage will be done to the books!  They have quite a few stories: Baby Faces, Things That Go, Hey Diddle Diddle and more!

All of Leslie Patricelli's books are adorable!  We purchased Tubby for Winston years ago and to this day we call the little baby in the books Tubby.  Our second one was Yummy Yucky and is one of my favorites!  She has ones for Potty, Valentine's Day, Halloween and Christmas.

For Truman we purchased Shark Bite and it has quickly become one of his favorites!  Mark the Shark's mouth opens and closes on each page and we love making shark sounds as we read.  There is a series of four additional animals as well.

The Jolly Postman is a book that my brother loved from growing up overseas.  It is one of our favorites because it is interactive and the pages contain the letters that the postman delivers on his rounds.

Nibbles the Book Monster is another fantastic interactive book that follows the journey of Nibbles as he munches his way through fairy tales!

Another pair of interactive books is Who Done It? and Who, What, Where?  Each page contains a series of pictures and then asks questions like "Who played with the cat?" and "Who forgot their coat?".  These books are great for littles to start learning about context clues.

The first in a series of three books about hats, I Want My Hat Back follows the journey of a bear who has lost his hat and searches to find it!  When I say we have red this book 100 times, it would not be a lie as that is how much Winston loves this book!

Both Benjamin and I remember reading this next book when we were little.  It's just hilarious and both boys think so too!  There's a Monster at the End of This Book is about Grover's effort to stop you from getting to the monster at the end of the book because he is scared of monsters.  I mean, can you just even guess who the monster at the end of the book is? ;) 

Another throw back to when I was growing up is our Mr. Men Box Set.  With books about characters like Mr. Happy, Mr. Tickle, Mr. Loud, Mr. Small and Mr. Sneeze you'll enjoy getting caught up in the wondrous world of all the Mr. Men!
A series that has quickly become a household favorite {and a great gift for friends!} is the Disgusting Critter Series!  Each book centers around a certain critter and gives tons of facts.  The drawings are cute and they are quite comical as well.  The Toad is my personal favorite!

I saw The Biggest Story ABC  on Instagram and promptly purchased for our collection.  With its beautiful illustrations it elegantly tells the story of redemption from creation to the cross.  There is also a version for older kids as well.

The Jesus Story Book Bible is another amazing way to share Bible stories with your littles.  I highly recommend having a copy for your home.

Zondervan's The Beginner's Bible is great for kiddos who are interested in learning to read and as a good starter to learning the basics of the Bible stories.  

PS: This post contains affiliate links - Thanks as always for reading!
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Monday, November 13, 2017

Our Favorite Outdoor Toys for Kiddos

Living in Texas we can pretty much play outside year round... and those times when it is sizzling hot, we just find the nearest pool to jump into or splash pad to run through.  

One of my all time, ultimate favorite go-to outside toys is the Bunch o' Balloon water balloons.  These are soooooo super easy to use and we go through them like crazy!  They make great stocking stuffers, basket stuffers or just because you survived the day gifts!  They can be purchased at Walmart, Target, Amazon, CVS and ToysRUs. 

These Gonge Riverstones and River are fantastic for creative play and obstacle course creating!  Both are highly durable and can withhold a good amount of weight.  We play with them outside along with some cones.  They are great for color recognition, jumping, keeping balance and let's be honest, burning off some of that energy!  These can also be found on Fatbrain Toys.

I highly recommend this Step Two Roller Coaster.  Originally this was given to Truman, who indeed loves it.  What I didn't expect was that Winston would enjoy it as much as he does.  And really, I like to take a turn too!  It's super durable {as is evidenced by the previous sentence!} and it fits into itself to make storing in its box an easy feat.  Winston loves being a helper to Truman, #boysareblurs and it has been a great tool in helping us teach Truman how to take turns!  

Another item that has provided a lot of entertainment is our Little Tykes bounce house.  There are quite a few styles and options available.  This is great to blow up for just the two of them or when we have guests over.   

Lastly, I'll share the Stomp Rocket.  This never gets old no matter how many times it gets jumped on!  This makes an excellent gift for any occasion.  Really, our entire family enjoys taking turns to see how high or far we can shoot the rockets!

And while all of these things are great, nothing truly beats a pile of rocks, some diggers and an big imagination!

What would you add to the list?  Let me know so that I can check them out!

Have you seen:
Our Favorite Games for Kiddos

Our Favorite Games for Kiddos


We started playing games with Winston when he was somewhere in that 2-3 years old range.  Simple things like memory and Bingo working our way up to the classics that we loved growing up like Hungry Hippo and Trouble.  What I have come to realize is that there are more and more games for the kiddos these days!  Here are a few that we have come to love!

This Daniel Tiger version of bingo and memory is a favorite in our house and the first set of games we played with Winston.  It is perfect for taking along on trips or restaurants as well!

The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel is in the top two games that Winston picks to play when Truman has been laid down.  The goal is to get one of every color of acorn into your log before a wind blows or the sneaky squirrel {another player!} snatches one of your acorns for himself!

As you can see, the Beanie Babies also enjoy the opportunity to play this game too!  ;)

The second game that he gravitates towards is Zingo!  We received this as a gift from a friend who thought it looked like fun and she was not wrong!  The red box hold the cards and when you slide it back two of the cards drop into the slots.  You have to be one of the first ones to grab a card if it matches one of the pictures on your Zingo board.  The first one to fill your board wins!  They have a few different versions of the game including a site words version for older kids.  We have also taken Zingo along to restaurants with us when there are lots of kiddos.  It is the perfect game to help pass the time!

Let's Go Fish is a favorite with both boys.  It is in the category of the classics and every house needs one, in my opinion!

I was at Five Below a few days ago and found Cooties and Don't Spill the Beans for $5!  These were two of my favorite games growing up and I'm excited to introduce the boys to them.

I would love to know what some of your favorite games to play are!  Leave me a comment so that I can check them out!

If you like this post, check out:
Our Favorite Outdoor Toys for Kiddos

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Why I Instagram


On December 29, 2010 I made my first Instagram post.  That caption read "Poor Poppin' Fresh."    My coworker had left this little gem for me to find when I returned to my desk from a long meeting.   Seemed like a funny thing to take a picture of and give a mysterious filter to!  I had no idea really what Instagram was but I knew they had fun photo editing features and I could make a feed of pictures that I wanted to share, whatever that meant!  I had no followers and I followed no one.

Every few months or two I'd post something like our adventure to Super Bowl Media Day with the Steelers, tons of photos of Lulu and for some reason, lots of my feet.  In 2013 I started posting more regularly of our daily life and mostly of our little Winston!  I began following friends and ladies whose blogs I read.  I started enjoying the little collection of photos that was gathering in my feed.  Then a few years ago for Christmas I received the sweetest set of two books printed at Artifact Uprising.  They were the photos I had posted to Instagram in a keepsake form.  Every year I get another round of books, pages filled with the images that show our family growing, laughing and living life together.  It is for this reason that I Instagram.

I do it as a way to preserve memories.  It helps me to be intentional about taking photos and associating a memory with it.  One of my favorite things has been to use it as a way to capture things that Winston has said.  #wacsays  I love looking back and seeing all of the photos of #winstonandhisjammies or #loveourgirllulu and nowadays #wacandtac.  A byproduct of this is that I have a really good way to look back and be grateful.    

Over the years I have developed what now has the term Instafriends.  Never would I have imagined to have found amazing prayer partners and encouragers, ladies who make me laugh and inspire me through an app designed around sharing photos.  There are quite a few ladies who I text  and email on a regular basis and look forward to hugging their necks in person some day!  Being part of chat loops and blog link ups has given me opportunities to develop relationships that I hold as dear.  

Instagramming opens you up to sharing of your life with an audience.  With this platform a user can influence their readers.  With Instagram I am able to offer encouragement, post a goofy video to watch {and hopefully have a giggle at!}, do fun giveaways, share favorite things that we love and use daily, share what the Lord is teaching me, suggest recipes and many more little things.  It's been a fun and unique way for me to share and preserve bits and pieces of what our days are like during each stage of life. 

Sure, I can scroll through my Instagram feed and look at these photos... but truly there are times in the week when I sit on the couch and thumb through the pages.  I enjoy looking at the photos and allowing myself to get wrapped up in the memories of the days past.  It warms my heart.  And Winston loves looking at them just a much as I do!  

How about you?  I'd love to hear if you Instagram and why you do it.  There are so many wonderful reasons to use this app!  Leave your IG handle and I'll give you a follow!  

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Kids Behind the Blog: January 2017

Another new year and another round of my favorite link up, Kids Behind the Blog!  This was one of my favorite things last year and I think the only thing I consistently blogged!  I was super pumped when the ladies who host this link up announced they were going to continue for 2017.  So without further ado:

1.  What is your favorite thing to do or play when inside?
Play with Play-doh, Monster Trucks and my brother.  I also love to do crafts.  Doing crafts is probably my favorite!

2.  Have you ever seen or played in snow?
No, not yet.  But we are going to visit my friend Jackson in Denver and there will be snow!  I want to make snowballs to throw them at somebody like Buddy the Elf.  

3.  What was your favorite gift you received for Christmas?
The little car thingy.  {The Ultimate Car Garage from Santa!}

4.  What's your favorite winter vacation you have ever been on?
We haven't been on a winter vacation yet, have we Mommy?

5.  Would you rather live where it's warm or have all four seasons?
I like Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.  Four seasons is better than one season.

Since we live in Houston, we don't see a ton of winter weather.  Especially this year.  It was an unusually warm winter... we had two days of what I would consider good, cold, stay inside and snuggle up weather!  I still have my fingers crossed that we'll get another burst of cold to come through.  These 75 degree "winter" days are crazy to me!  But then, I digress.  Winston has experienced snow one time - when we went to visit family in Pennsylvania over Thanksgiving.  He was just over one so he doesn't remember too much of it.  He had been asking quite a bit to see snow this year, thanks to snowball throwing scene in Buddy the Elf!  In a few weeks time, we'll be taking our little family to visit some sweet friends in Denver and fingers crossed, get to build a snowman!  

Thursday, January 5, 2017

2016 One Second Everyday

Somewhere around the end of May, I gal I follow on Instagram posted the coolest video of her family.  It was one second of video captured everyday mashed into a thirty second montage.  I found the app, 1 Second Everyday and started June 1st.  This has been one of my most favorite things that I did in the way of memory keeping for 2016!

There were a few days where I forgot to take a video but had taken photos.  The app is smart {and cool} enough to allow the use of daily photos in the montage as well!  Benjamin even joined in on helping remember to capture video on the adventures we took.

The app also allows for the creation of a freestyle video.  I used this feature to create mashups for a trip to the zoo and one of our family vacations.  I am looking forward to challenging myself to create more freestyle videos in 2017!

More than anything I love this video because it captures the growth of our sweet boys.  It's amazing how much they've grown this year.  It is precious to this mama's heart to see their sweet relationship and love for each other.

Cozads 2016 1 Second Everyday from Sara Cozad on Vimeo.

And there it is - from June to December of 2016!  Bring on 2017 and all of the entertainment it will have to offer!

How do you capture and store your family memories?  I would love to know!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Kid Behind the Blog: December Interview

Hall Around Texas

1.  Which Reindeer is your favorite?
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer!

2.  What do you want for Christmas?
Some new cars.... and that's it!

3.  What would you do if you caught Santa in your house?
I would want him to give presents to me and I would give him a hug.

4.  What if Santa got stuck in your chimney?
Well Santa might get a boo boo.  I would get him a bandaid and then try to push him out!

5.  Have you been naughty or nice this year?  Why?
NIIIIICE!  I've played with my Mom.  I'm a great big brother to Truman!

6. What is your favorite Christmas movie?
Frosty!

I just love Christmastime!  Everything about it is magical and special.  And this little human has caught my love for everything to do with it!  I was sorta surprised when he said his favorite movie was Frosty as we have been watching Elf and The Grinch on repeat for a few days now.  However I love that he still adores Frosty and his friend Karen.  :)  We visiting Santa last week and he told him that he wants a house full of people.... If anyone has any idea what that might mean, please let me know!  

I have had such a great time participating in this link up this year.  I have enjoyed hearing Winston's answers and being intentional about capturing them.  The days fly by in the blink of an eye.  I am amazed at how much he has grown and matured this year.  Makes my mama heart burst with all sorts of emotions!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Kid Behind the Blog: November Interview

Hall Around Texas

1.  What are three things you are thankful for?
I am thankful for my Mom, Dad and Truman.  I am thankful for food, for running, for music and race cars!

2.  What is your favorite food served at Thanksgiving dinner?
Stuffing balls are my favorite!

3.  If you could be President for one day, what would you do?

4.  How many feathers does a turkey have?
WAC: Six. Wait, Mommy... do they have five feathers?
Me: Their entire bodies are covered in feathers!
WAC: Well that would be one hundred feeeaaaathers! 

5.  Who is your favorite person to spend time with during the holidays?
My family!



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