Saturday, December 29, 2007

Top Four Picks: Children's Books

Nica will be celebrating her first birthday very soon, and we thought a perfect birthday theme would be a "Book Birthday." I was thinking how at this age books would be easy to give, since the toy laden birthdays really start around age three & by that point she will most likely have objections by that point.

There are so many books to choose from in the world of Children's Literature; but, as I googled "children's books," here are some that I nostalgically 'ooed' & 'awwed' over.

1. Richard Scarry: I loved these books as a kid, imagining I was right there in the town or house living right alongside the people-like animals. I think my imagination got away with me, b/c to the average viewer, they might think I was in a trance or daydreaming. However, I really was paying attention and thinking of how this world existed and where I could take the bus to get to it. Richard Scarry books allow kids to use their imaginations, learn identification skills, and learn the names of the various items in the house or town.

2. Golden Books: The collection of Golden Books, whether it's Little Golden or Big Golden, they're fantastic and no kid should be without. Both Ben & I had this particular one of, "The Monster at the end of this Book," which led caused me to be concerned as a child of a monster possibly scaring me at the end of the book. Yet, I was pleasantly surprised to be relieved of who the monster really was, b/c those of us who have read it know he's not scary at all. Yeah for the Golden Book Series.

3. Dr. Suess: This man was a genius! I can't think of any child growing up in America who isn't familiar with this doctor, and if they aren't--their parents should be subjected to watching the Tell a Tubbies for 24 hours (this will teach them). Green Eggs & Ham was one of my personal favorites. What I love about these books is the repetition, rhyming, & wonderful illustration--all of which produce grandiose children's books.

4. Kevin Henkes (author): He is both author & illustrator, what a man, of these wonderful mouse books. Although I didn't get my hands on these till much later in life, I knew I would have been hooked had I been a little girl. What I did instead was read the books to my kindergarten class. The same reasons I loved Richard Scarry books is why I love the mouse books, b/c Henkes makes the reader feel as though these mouse are just like people living in their mouse world. (I always wished it was kind of like this.) He also adds little bubbles of the character saying things in addition to what the text says below. Another fantastic thing about these books is you begin to picture children that you grew up with and paint their face on these mouse's face (the bossy girl who tattled on everyone, the weird girl who managed to move to the beat of her own drum, etc). As an adult reading the books, you begin to appreciate that Henkes didn't narrow his audience to just children, but kept the adults in mind, too. You should go to the library and read some--it's even better when you read them aloud (even if no one is there) and pretend to be reading to children--it's quite fun.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Memories in a trash can

When you recall your growing up stories, do you tend to picture them a bit more heavenly than they really were? I think we all do this most of the time, it's probably a coping mechanism or a bit of denial. Who knows? I remember growing up at 911 Rosewood Dr in Yuma, Az. My brothers and I didn't have a pool in the backyard, so we would improvise with whatever was handy. When our cousins would come to visit in the summer we would play in the water outside (since it got up to 120 degrees at times).

However, the problem lay in the fact that once again, we didn't have a pool. As you all know, those type of roadblocks mean nothing to a group of elementary kids dying to splash around in water. Oh the days when computer & video graphics were meager images of a man with 300/20 vision, we had imagination and ingenuity to drive us to bigger worlds outside of the conventional pool.

What we had was a huge, but clean, trash can. This was our goldmine. We filled up the simulated pool with water, which seemed to have taken over an hour. Then, one by one, b/c that's all that would fit in there, we would climb up into the pseudo singular swimming pool and dip down and up. If we were really feeling lucky, two of us would go in at one time. Man, white trash was the days for us.

excursion; unfortunately, there is no photo of our glorious swimming hole. However, you can see a photo of my brother Andrew & cousin Debonie filling up Andrew's old infant bath tub. After looking at these photos IMy brother recently sent me some photos from this can't help but think, where in the world were our parents? And why were they allowing us to be dubbed as people from the other side of the tracks? I never realized that maybe we truly had, "redneck roots," as my brother Andrew would call it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas time

For Christmas we headed down to Salem, Oregon to spend time with Grandma, or Nana, my mom. Nica did a great job in the car ride down. That is, as well as any baby in a car seat can do for seven hours. We made some stops, but overall she was a trooper. Once we got to Nana's house, she was full of energy, smiles, and words. She loved the toy bag/holder that Nana put together for her. She has really been into putting soft objects in her mouth and rolling them around/gnawing on them without her hands. It's pretty funny when she looks up at you with this toy sticking out of her mouth while she's playing with another toy in her hands.

Another fun thing that happened was when Nana pulled out a musical card and music from "Happy Feet" the movie started playing, b/c Nica started bobbing her head and shoulders up & down. Now anytime she hears some music--that's what she does.

One of Nica's favorite things to do is to grab our hands and pull herself up on them. Once she stands up she looks at us for praise & affirmation, then beams with excitement knowing she has done something wonderful.

We wonder if she has that social butterfly bug that I've always had as a girl to womanhood, b/c although she shows trepidation when it comes to physical tasks--social tasks don't seem to mind her at all. Overall when she encounters people she warms up really quickly by talking to them (in her own way) and smiling at them.

It is nearing her first birthday and we are still shocked at how fast our time has gone with her--

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Funny faces

Here are some crazy pictures of Nica. (1) Daddy the stylist creating the new trend on her head (2) Nica excited to pull herself up on daddy's hands & awaiting the praise from us (3) this one is silly in & of itself--she got close to the camera for the picture.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Eating her first cake

Nica was at her friend Adri's first birthday. Biz, Adri's mom & our friend, made two cakes for Adri & Nica. The cakes were more natural and didn't have refined sugars, but that didn't mean they didn't taste good.
These pictures speak for themselves. Nica gives props to Biz & her mad cake making skills.

Speaking of birthday cakes, Nica will be eating her first birthday cake pretty soon here. She is less than a month away from turning one year old. I can't believe she is growing up and is gradually shedding off the baby in her and becoming a little girl.

She is beginning to pull herself up--yet she isn't crawling. I guess she is wanting to bypass it for now. She is so much fun and we are constantly laughing at something she's done.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Revolutionizing the Cupcake

Last night as Ben and I were going to bed, he asked me about making cupcakes. Except it wasn't just making cupcakes, but looking at the market for opening a cupcake store. One of my joys is to bake, so we (and I dreamed of the endless possibilities) talked about the numerous types of cupcakes I could make, what would be my target demographic, cost, deliveries, where a store would go, etc.

I think Bellingham would be a fantastic place to open such a store, plus cupcakes have always been viewed as the inferior stepchild to the cake. If opening a cupcake store, I wouldn't want to try and do it all--simply make cupcakes. It's kind of like a doughnut shop. When they stick to doughnuts they're able to put all of their energy into the making of doughnuts (and thus perfecting their art).

So here is my question for those of you who even read my blog: What types of cupcakes would you buy? How much would you pay for a homemade cupcake? Let me know your thoughts on the cupcake.