Our FAVORITE Books Right Now

Toddlers Favorite Books

April has been true to it’s form around here. Hopefully the showers will be bringing May flowers! With lots of rainy days inside we have been crafting, playing with EVERYTHING in the playroom, and reading tons and tons of books. We have been reading to our little ones since they were in the womb. We are both book lovers (although I haven’t made time for grownup books lately), and we have passed that love on to our children. I was fortunate to bring a pretty big children’s book library home from my classroom when I “retired” from teaching before Chickadee was born. And I’ve been adding to it ever since!

We read at night, in the car, waiting at the doctor’s office, rolling around the grocery store, and in the floor of the playroom. I’m convinced you can’t read enough to your children. It’s amazing how it builds their vocabulary, imagination, and attention span! 

Right now Chickadee is 3 1/2 and Sprout just turned 2. I thought I would share some of our favorite books right now with you in case you are looking to expand your home library! You can find them all on Amazon (aff links). But I also suggest saving some money and search for them at Goodwill or rent them from your local library!

Thomas & Friends: Railway Rhymes

Thomas

Where Do Diggers Sleep at Night

diggers

The Napping House

The Napping House

Oh, the Places You’ll Go

Oh, The Places You'll Go

The Berenstain Bears Storybook Bible

Storybook Bible

Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See

(This ins one of Chickadee’s Favorite because she can “read” it to Sprout)

Brown Bear Brown Bear

Llama Llama Red Pajama

Llama Llama Red Pajama

Any Look and Find Books

Look and Find Books

Owl at Home

Owl at Home

Pinkalicious

PInkalicious

My First Bible Stories – 12 Pack

 My First Bible Stories

Pete the Cat

Pete the Cat

This is just a short list, but I’m pretty sure most of these I can read from memory. I am sure as parents/care takers we get tired of reading the same books over and over, but the repetition is really great for you kids! What books would you put on a favorite’s list for your toddler?

Here are a few more MUST HAVES

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Strawberry Granola Pancakes

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Brunch is one of III and I’s “things.” We used to go to brunch EVERY Saturday…you know back when we were “DINKs.” Have yall heard that before? It stands for Dual Income No Kids. We loved it so much we even served brunch at our evening wedding. Waffle bar, omelette station, hashbrown casserole, the whole deal. However 7 years into marriage those days are long gone and while we still get to breakfast once, maybe twice a month most Saturday mornings are spent at home making breakfast in our kitchen and hanging out with the kids in our pajamas.  

It’s really more economical…breakfast is extremely inexpensive to make and probably the easiest meal to replicate what they serve you at the restaurant. (Unless it’s a Chick-fil-a chicken biscuit, of course). Plus little kids have a hard time waiting to eat breakfast until about an hour after they wake up, so eating at home is usually better any way you slice it. I made these strawberry granola pancakes a few weeks ago and they were a big hit. You could really use any fruit! And the best part for a sleepy mom, the recipe starts with a box pancake mix! Thanks to the Pioneer Woman for sharing the recipe. You can find it here, on Food Network. The only addition I made was using a tablespoon of vanilla as well, and I chose to use store bought granola. They are delicious! We top both pancakes and waffles with Costco’s Kirkland Organic Maple Syrup. It’s DELISH. Add it to your list, now.

strawberry granola pancakes

So what is your favorite breakfast dish? I’m not sure I could ever narrow it down to one thing! Hasbrowns? Pancakes? Eggs Benedict? And now I’m officially hungry.

Happy Birthday Sprout!

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Little man turned TWO on April, 11th. We celebrated him with family, trains, nachos, and cupcakes! He is such a sweet spirit who loves well and plays hard. He is a chatterbox and tries his best to keep up with his big sister. I’ll do a 2 year old post soon! We decided to keep his 2nd birthday party small, to be honest all he cared about was a cupcake so just a family party was the way to go! Thomas the train is his current obsession so a train theme was a foregone conclusion. His Bebe had a train shirt made for him and we decorated with banners, balloons, and giant trains made of poster board. 

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I found this super cute train banner on Etsy in Kelly’s Cottage Shop. We used crepe paper streamers and red and blue balloons from Dollar Tree (who doesn’t love the Dollar Tree!). Lot’s of Choo Choo Sprout’s Two signs were around and another banner that read Sprout Station.

The cupcakes matched the theme of course. Sprout had been saying for weeks that all he wanted for his birthday was a brown cupcake, so we made all his wishes come true! Chocolate cupcakes with green icing. I used Hershey bars and black gel icing to create the tracks and found these mini Thomas, Percy, and James trains at Dollar General.

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We fed everyone lunch at the party with a nacho bar and mixed fruit! Super easy and everyone was able to customize their dish. My favorite ways to eat nachos, are to build them on a baking sheet and broil them for 2-3 minutes to melt everything together. They are DELICIOUS!

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After eating we played outside a lot and the big kids finally convinced Sprout to open presents. It was a great day celebrating our little man. I can’t believe he will be a BIG brother before he turns 3…well in less than three months really :) I have no doubt he will love baby girl fiercely. Happy Birthday sweet boy!

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He Lives! Happy Easter!

“Then bursting forth in glorious day, up from the grave He rose again. And as He stands in victory, sins curse has lost its grip on me. For I am His and He is mine, bought with the precious love of Christ!”

– In Christ Alone

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One of my absolute favorite worship songs. We had it sung at our wedding and it brings chills to me everytime I hear those words! Happy Easter, friends! I hope you had a wonderful day celebrating our RISEN savior. We are so thankful for the hope that comes from the empty tomb!

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We have had so much fun celebrating the weeks leading up to Easter with friends and family. Lots of crafts, baking, egg hunts, reading the Easter story, and teaching our kids about God’s biggest sacrifice for us.

We had fun with neighbors throwing paint filled eggs at a canvas (more on this soon!)

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Ate up bunny cake and bunny pancakes.

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 And hunted sooooo many Easter eggs!

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We hope you had an Easter filled with hope and assurance of God’s love for you!

Finding Financial Confidence

This post was sponsored, and paid for, by SunTrust. All opinions are my own.

Growing Financial Confidence

C.O.N.F.I.D.E.N.C.E. What does confidence mean to you. I remember being 7 or 8 years old and incredibly shy. My mom still jokes about how I wouldn’t go up to the counter at a fast food restaurant to ask for ketchup….there isn’t even a risk they would say no, but I was scared. I can still be that shy little girl sometimes when I am forced into conversation with folks I don’t know, but the years have brought confidence. Successes in high school, like reciting ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas in front of my peers…in college, like being the activities chair for my sorority, and even this blog and the fact that you fine folks read it continue to build my confidence. I see this shyness in Chickadee when she is encouraged to talk to a stranger and I am determined to gently build her confidence so by the time she is 7 or 8 the folks at Chick-fil-a gladly hand her ketchup when she asks! 

As I shared on Friday, 2017 is going to be a BIG year for our family! Not only are we adding a sweet baby GIRL to our crazy crew, we are also going to be adding a new car (minivan advice, anyone??), probably a new HVAC (both upstairs and downstairs…boo), and we are considering getting new hardwood floors. There are a lot of financial hits on both the need and want list, and to get any or all of them accomplished stress free it is important to be in a place of financial freedom. This blog and the small income it has made over the years has truly helped get my family in a place of financial freedom. We have been able to live on III’s income from day one and save my teaching salary (when I was working) and also this blog’s income to set up our “egg-nest.” It was invaluable when buying our last car and being able to write a check so that we didn’t have to worry about a monthly payment. It also afforded us the opportunity to buy a house and put down 20% to avoid extra fees as you are trying to build up your principal. Not worrying about a sizable mortgage or car payment are two major accomplishments that helped up to grow financial confidence. And we are very thankful to be in a place where we can hit both our needs and wants. But it takes work and constant focus on where our money is going to continue to be in such a position.

April is Financial Literacy Month, and I’m once again teaming up with Suntrust’s onUp Movement to encourage y’all to take positive steps towards achieving financial confidence. I encourage you to ask if you consider yourself financially free? If so, what positive steps can you continue to stay financially free? If not, what steps can you take today toward being financially free?

My most valuable tip in being financially free is, KNOW WHERE YOUR MONEY IS GOING. In a world of credit cards, Paypal, and immediate access to cash it is easy to spend spend spend without tracking that spending. The most invaluable part of our finances is our budget. III is an accountant, so he has created a very detailed Excel spreadsheet where we input receipts on a weekly basis. This allows us to know exactly where every dollar is going and doesn’t allow us to spend money we don’t have. It also causes us to categorize needs verses wants. All of our needs, tithe, and saving goals are hit first…then comes the wants. Every month we pay off credit cards. Try and figure out a way to not let your debt grow. Financial confidence will grow your self confidence. Start today!

Head on over to SunTrust’s OnUp website today for more stories, tips, and tools to start your patch to financial confidence. SunTrust wants to motivate people to move past their worry and focus on financial confidence. 

At SunTrust Bank their purpose is lighting the way to financial well-being. When you feel confident about your money, you can save for your goals and spend knowingly on what matters most to you.  

The onUp Movement is 1 million strong…and growing. onUp is about having the confidence to move forward one smart step at a time.

Join now and start building your financial confidence today.

Join the movement

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust. The opinions and text are all mine.