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The Most Amazing Books Ever: Books With Moving Pictures!

I know, I know, I just did a blog post about books. In fact, it was a post about animal books so it seems a little ridiculous to turn around with another one so quickly. But I was at a work conference yesterday where I snagged a free copy of one of these photicular books and it. Blew. My. Mind. Seriously, the instant I saw it I had to have it because I knew the kids would love it. What are photicular books? They are ones where the pictures move. They’re designed for adults, I think, but kids will no doubt be fascinated by them.

There are several in the series: Ocean, Jungle, Safari, Polar, and a soon to be released one, Wild which is about endangered animals (I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of it and can say that it is beautiful). I highly recommend these beautiful books for adults and children.

A quick look on Amazon shows that there are similar books specifically geared for kids. I haven’t seen them in person so can’t vouch for their quality, but because they also use the illusion of moving pictures, I would imagine they would also be a big hit. These photicular or scanimation books for kids include ABC Animals, Gallop!, Waddle!, Trucks, Peanuts and Star Wars (which may or may not be for children, but Lion is a big fan of Star Wars).

What I wish I knew about baby sleep before the baby came

One thing I really wish I had read about before the baby was a book on baby sleep. Not that I believe it would have made things any better really, or changed my obsessive Googling habit of “insert age nap schedule,” but maybe just prepared me for the amount of time I would spend thinking about and putting my son down for a nap.

Between breastfeeding and nap and sleep schedules, I think there is a very small margin of brain space left for other thoughts in my day. So, here’s my list of the things I wish I had known prior to have a baby about baby sleep. Maybe this would have been covered in a book? Why didn’t I read a book?

Babies need to sleep a lot. Okay, so I guess I knew this, but until he was born I didn’t know this. Your entire day actually does revolve around the whole eat, sleep, poop thing. They need to sleep a lot. I think when I thought about reading a book on sleep, I so naively thought, eh, I know I won’t sleep through the night for awhile, it’ll be fine. I very clearly forgot the part where your baby has to sleep a lot during the day too. Naps are an entirely different beast.

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Soup in the Summer? A Few Recipes I’m Digging

Sure, the temps are climbing here in Texas, but the beginning of my third trimester of this pregnancy has me craving soup like nothing else. Luckily, Mr. Cotton Candy will eat soup anytime, so long as it doesn’t have cheese. (Side note: I will never get over the fact that he hates cheese. It just does not compute.) I’ve been trying a few new soup recipes out lately, and these are some of the best ones that my family has enjoyed. Plus, see below for the best garlic bread recipe of all time—my book club has been making it for years, and it’s always a hit.

thai shrimp soup

1. Thai Shrimp Soup (via Damn Delicious). I discovered this little gem of a recipe through Pinterest. Made it for my fam, and they loved it. Even Little Cotton Candy ate a few bites, and he normally doesn’t eat what we are having for dinner. However, I think it was this meal that led to his discovery of what “meat” is. (Were these real shrimps?)

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Some of Our Favorite Picture Books Featuring Animals

Our kids are fascinated by a number of topics, but one of their favorites is animals. They don’t have any one particular animal that they’re interested in, but they seem to be just generally curious. Panda is at the age where he loves making animal sounds and even though he can’t say “lion,” “monkey,” or “cow,” he will call out “rahr,” “oh oh ah ah,” and “moo,” when he sees pictures of the animals.

Here are some of our favorite picture books (and a few board books) featuring animals:

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Stripes the Tiger – Lion thinks this book is hilarious; Panda roars throughout the entire book.

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Animals – Gorgeous book! I want to frame the pages.

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Parenting Each Child Differently

Before I had kids, I thought I would treat them equally. I wanted to be fair. I wanted them to feel love equally.

Shortly before giving birth to Panda, I read Siblings Without Rivalry (Mrs. High Heels has a great review of the book here) and one point really stuck with me: “To be loved equally . . . is somehow to be loved less. To be loved uniquely — for one’s own special self — is to be loved as much as we need to be loved.” I didn’t fully understand its meaning, though, until I had two children to raise, each with their unique personalities and needs.

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Best friends and brothers, but oh so different!

Today, I realize that parenting goes much more smoothly and (I think) each child feels he is getting what he needs when I treat them as individuals rather than being concerned with complete equity. Here are some examples of how I parent each child differently that seems to work for our kids, at least at this stage:

– Tantrums: Completely ignoring the start of a tantrum didn’t work with Lion and inevitably would escalate into a full-on meltdown almost instantly. Lion seems to be more sensitive and us not paying attention to him would just send him spiraling. While we don’t want to reward tantrums, we feel like we can sometimes keep them from escalating by engaging with him, even if it’s just asking whether he needs a minute to be upset (and then giving him some space). Panda recently started throwing tantrums, but they almost immediately go into meltdown mode. Now, if I ignored Lion’s meltdowns at this age, he would scream and cry for an hour or more; we actually timed his meltdowns. Hence, why we tried so hard to avoid them. When I tell Panda he can’t have a particular snack or object at that moment, he throws himself on the floor and shrieks (much louder than any toddler should have the lung capacity for, I might add). And then within five minutes, he’s completely over it and has moved on. Ignoring Panda’s tantrums seem to work quite well.

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Cooking in the Summer Heat: 4 Methods + 8 Recipes

Ugh, summer heat. Sweat. Sticky. HOT! If you can’t tell, I don’t take the heat very well. I grew up in San Diego and it’s like anything under 65 is cold and anything over 78 is too hot. Now, I live in the Pacific Northwest and I’ve adapted a bit to the rainy, cold season. The summers are pretty awesome, but we always seem to get a few days were the heat is too much. And since we only have a few days of it every year, nobody invests in air conditioning. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE summer, but those super hot days can be rough.

It’s on those hot-hot days where cooking seems like a terrible idea, but dinner must be served. You want to serve healthy meals to your family without having to get take-out and spending a pretty penny. What’s a girl to do?

So in anticipation of those hot days, I came up with four different ways to make dinner without turning on the oven and heating up the whole house. Better yet, I’ve got some tasty recipes to go with it. I hope you are inspired to keep on keeping on in the summer heat.

1. Grill

In my mind grilling is synonymous with summer. Living in the Pacific Northwest really makes you appreciate the sun (although, we’re heat wusses). Standing in the rain trying to grill is just not what I call fun. So when the sun comes out, the grill is uncovered and put to action. We bought a new grill this season and I love it. It’s an awesome gas grill, so it’s quick to heat up and get dinner rolling.

Spinach Goat Cheese Turkey Burgers (with a kick) – Burgers are always a win on the grill, but I prefer turkey burgers. This is  thee  turkey burger recipe I use most often for turkey burger days. I often just use fresh spinach instead of the frozen, but both work great. Also, get the Tony Chachere’s as it really makes a big difference on these burgers. There is a little kick, but nothing to be worried about – this being said by a gal that can’t take much heat.

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Summer Car Stash

Summer is my ultimate paradise. Growing up in Northern California, we had two seasons: winter- wet and rainy, November through March; summer – hot hot hot, April through October. I now live in a place with seasons that have made summer its regular 3-month affair and it makes me go a little nuts trying to cram everything in. Our summers are jam packed with soaking up water action and sunshine as much as possible. After having a second baby I was shocked at how much I was carrying to and from the car every time we left, and that car seat weighs a ton! I began leaving things in the car little by little until we became a traveling suitcase. I quickly realized we needed to get organized and now have our car ready, no schlepping required!

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Snack bag: dried fruit, nuts, crackers, Pirate’s Booty, $5, at least 2 water bottles.

This is our smaller bag I keep full of goodies that will keep us going throughout the day and won’t be hugely affected by the suns rays heating up my car. In other words, when I buy Pirate’s Booty, I buy two bags, one for the house, one for the car. I also keep some small bills, just in case we run into a snow cone shack. I don’t want to run things in and out of the car, which is why I aim for two water bottles. Inevitably, they will get left in the car, leaving us with hot water, but with multiple bottles, at least one should come inside to be filled and placed in the freezer ready for the next day’s adventures and cooling the hot water left inside. The key for this bag is to be smaller than the next, making it easy to toss in the other bag when activities are combined.

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