June 21, 2017

Family Favorite Books for Squirmy Little Girls

I love books and I love to read. I assumed that my girls would be the same. They're NOT. When my girls were very little, we would go to the library and watch as other kids sat quietly and listened during story time. I spent that time wrestling my girls and stifling their whining just so we could sit through a few pages.

Research indicates that brain development from birth to age 3 is the most significant, sets the stage for all of life, and reading plays an integral part of their development. When you share those stats with moms, especially first-time moms, I think it's super easy for us to freak out. Eventually I grew tired of the pressure and worrying about the "what-ifs."

I started reading at my girls' pace, and didn't stress if we only got 3 pages into a book before we had to call it quits. I also began reading aloud. Even if the girls weren't interested at first, they would quickly sit down and listen to what I was reading.

Soon after, we moved to child-led reading. I'm not sure if that's an actual "thing," but I let the girls look at pictures and asked them what was happening in the book. Over a period of several months, our girls transitioned from squirmy worms that wouldn't sit through even a few pages to little girls who LOVE to read.

Below is a round up of our family favorite books that really engage our girls.

1. The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli. It helps that Alex looooooves watermelon, but both girls cackle when crocodile is convinced that his skin will turn pink and there's a watermelon growing in his guts!

2. Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans. Audrey adores the twelve little girls in two straight lines and can quote this book word-for-word. Even Alex can say a few of the rhymes! This book receives my Mom stamp of approval because Madeline is brave and a problem solver, and it's such a good lesson for little girls! **BONUS: If you're a Hulu subscriber, you can access the Madeline cartoon series based on Bemelmans' books. Watching the cartoons is always a special treat for the girls!

3. Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner. Yes, the title references snowmen, but we read this book year round. YEAR ROUND. The girls love to see all the silly things the snowmen do. And the fact that the snowmen sneak off and play snowmen games after people are asleep is just magical.

4. Too Many Carrots by Katy Hudson. This is a really sweet book that emphasizes the importance of friends helping each other and sharing. We read this book a lot when the girls started sharing a room, and it seemed to help ease some of the toddler tension. It also kept the girls attention because they were constantly guessing who rabbit would meet next and what was going to happen.

5. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. To be honest, I have no idea why my girls love this book so much. But they LOVE it. It's a fan favorite and the girls ask me to read it over and over and over again. They also like Peter's Chair and Whistle for Willie. **BONUS: Amazon Prime created an original The Snowy Day movie based on the book. The girls like to watch the movie after dinner and then read the book at bedtime.

6. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña. This book is wonderfully written, has an unexpected and very touching ending, and illustrated by Christian Robinson. It's basically the Triple Crown Winner of children's literature! My girls love the pictures, I love the diversity, and we all love the "goodness" of the story. If you haven't read this yet, put it at the top of your list! I promise you won't regret it.

And there you have our family favorite book list for squirmy little girls. I hope this list grabs the attention of your squirmy little readers as much as it did mine!

Below is an additional list of books our girls also enjoy:
  1. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault
  2. From Head to Toe by Eric Carle
  3. The Tale of Three Trees by Angela Elwell Hunt
  4. Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio
  5. The Napping House by Audrey Wood
  6. Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas by Natasha Yim

*While this post uses referral links, all opinions are entirely my own. Thank you for supporting Humble Hardy Happenings!

June 15, 2017

Modest Swimwear for Modern Moms

The words modern and modest rarely go hand-in-hand. Especially when you add the word swimsuit. Finding modest modern swimsuit typically doesn't happen, which can be frustrating. I want to look more modern than matronly, but I refuse to bare the goods any more than I have to.

Two years ago, I found a black & white striped rash guard top from Old Navy that was on clearance for $10.79. I absolutely love it! It protects my ghostly white skin from the sun and it's surprisingly cute. I typically pair the top with black bottoms and whatever bikini top I can find.

Similar rash guard top

Now that the girls are getting bigger, we'll be spending more time at the pool since they love to swim. So, I set out to find a few bikini tops that are modern, modest, and could be worn both as a regular bikini set or under my striped rashguard.

The cheapest option I've found is this high-neck bikini top from Target ($17.99, see below). I love it, Robert loves it, and the girls think I look "awesome." Mission accomplished. 😄

I also REALLY like the blousy tankini tops, halter bikinis, and reversible bikini tops from Athleta. But the tops alone cost $84, $54, and $64....so I'll have to do a hard pass.

Blousy tankini - $84

Halter high neck bikini - $54

Reversible bikini - $64

I'm also a fan of Lime Ricki Swimwear based on looks alone. I, personally, cannot speak to the quality of their products or how they fit, but I know a few other modest bloggers who have made purchases from Lime Ricki and spoke highly of the line.

Lime Ricki Swimwear

What are some of your favorite swim tops that are modest & modern? I'd love to get some more ideas!

April 25, 2017

Alex's 2nd Birthday Party & Easter Recap

Alex turned T-W-O on Easter Sunday and had an egg-cellent weekend celebration! Our schedule was jam-packed on Saturday, starting with an egg hunt at church, followed by Audrey's soccer game, and ending with a party at the park with Alex's closest friends.

My parents drove up on Saturday morning to celebrate our Littlest Lady's big day with her, and got conjured into going to an egg hunt. The little ones found eggs and got their faces painted, and the big ones got to enjoy some donuts & juice. Of course, this made for precious memories and loads of fun.

After Audrey's soccer game, we came back to open presents and do some quick party prep work while the girls napped. Alex's birthday wishes came true when she got a Belle doll (that she calls Beast) and a toy vacuum! Nothing makes this little girl's heart happier than pretending to vacuum. (And if I fail at everything else as a parent, at least I've created a girl who appreciates clean floors!🤣)

Alex is an outdoor-loving babe with an April birthday, so it was only fitting to have her party at a park! It was also super easy to plan because there isn't much that can trump acres of green grass and amazing playground equipment.

We celebrated with pizza, cupcakes, & ice cream, and ended the party with a piñata. This was our family's first piñata busting experience and it definitely won't be our last. The kids had an absolute blast with it and it was so fun to watch!

Although we partied hard on Saturday, we still managed to get a good night's sleep and enjoy the Easter service at church. The girls enjoyed getting dressed in their Easter best, learning new songs at church, and getting to take home palm leaves and scream "Hosanna!"

We didn't have lunch plans because someone didn't have a home-cooked Easter meal planned. Not naming any names....moi...oops. So we ate at Texas Roadhouse and had the best time. The girls love the peanuts, rolls, and honey butter, and Robert & I love the fact that we can somewhat eat in peace. And Audrey was the best big sister and told the server that it was Alex's birthday and she wanted to sit in the saddle, so Alex yee-hawed it up!!

We had such a blast celebrating our sweet girl and our risen Savior! Thanks to everyone that called, texted, or came out to celebrate Alex on her special day and weekend!!

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