Thursday, June 25, 2015

9 Months Old!

Brooklyn turned 9 months old yesterday.  How fast time is going, and how quickly she’s learning.  She’s very mobile right now, and wishes she could be even more mobile.  What seems like a speck in time to us as adults is huge in the development of a child. In 9 months, usually the only thing that might change in my life is going on a vacation or two or cutting my hair.  But Brooklyn has learned to roll, sit, crawl, pull up, eat, sleep through the night. It’s amazing to look back 9 months ago to those sleepless nights and when she used to like to cuddle with us. It both feels like just yesterday and an eternity ago.

Brooklyn went to her 9 month well check up appointment with the pediatrician yesterday.  She is 29” tall (93rd percentile) and 19.75 lbs (76th percentile).  She has grown 2” and gained 3lbs in 3 months!  I believe it!

At 9 months old, Brooklyn now can pull herself up on to her feet. This means a whole new level of exploration.  Her favorite thing to do is pull up on the couch to play with the TV remote.  Yesterday, she actually pulled my camera off the couch!

She has been using her walker for months and enjoys it…but over the past month, she walks around holding our hands more often and she just loves it.  She likes to walk a few feet and then turn her head all the way and look up at us.  She’ll be walking all by herself before we know it!  Once that happens, there will be no stopping her!

Speaking of her walker, she has recently discovered how much fun it is to chase the dogs around in it.  Cinder and Belle have learned to not be in Brooklyn’s path…but now she’ll chase them around.  There was one night I wish I had my phone to record it, because Brooklyn chased Belle in circles for a couple of minutes. Belle finally found a spot on the carpet that Brooklyn couldn’t reach her.

Brooklyn enjoys music.  Whether it’s on the radio, a TV show intro, Mickey’s Hot Dog song, or her toys, she loves bouncing to the music.  It’s her form of dancing right now.  Her current favorites are The Hot Dog song (which she’s loved from the very beginning) and her new tea pot set.  The teapot sings a little song and it’s really cute. She loves it.  But we’ve caught her bouncing along to many other forms of music also.

She learned how to click her tongue this month also.  So in addition to covering us in spit when she blows raspberries, she enjoys clicking her tongue at you too.  At least you don’t get covered in spit with this new skill.

Finally, Brooklyn has started eating “real” solid food.  I realized as I was trying to determine how to write this on her chalkboard, that when you start the mushy baby food, it’s called solids. But really, it’s just mushy baby food.  This month, Brooklyn tried real (small) pieces of avocado for the first time.  I’ve included a picture of this for your amusement (I wasn't able to figure out why, even though it's a vertical picture, it keeps turning it horizontal when I upload it to the blog - oh well, you still get the idea).  I wasn’t sure initially whether she actually liked the avocado, or whether she just liked smashing it in her hands and covering herself in it.  But after a few days, I realized she did actually like the taste of avocado.  She’s also tried some small pieces of bread, in addition to the puffs she’s been eating for a couple months.

It was also Brandon’s first father’s day this past month!  We had the whole family over to our house for some fun in the sun and grilling.  We had a massive spread of food…and plenty of leftovers!  We had a slip-n-slide for the boys, an inflatable pool for the girls, water guns, water balloons, and a hose. It was a lot of fun: complete with homemade chocolate ice cream!  Brandon has said it was one of the best days he’s had – which is really the point on father’s day, right?

Well, that’s all I have until next month…as my daughter gets closer and closer to the big ONE!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Book Review: Christmas in Camelot

Christmas in Camelot
Date Read:  6/20/15
Rating: ★ ★ 

So I read this out of order. I read the Halloween book before the Christmas book.  I think I would have been more surprised at the end about who the Christmas Knight was if I hadn’t read them out of order.

Nevertheless the story was still fun.  Jack and Annie get to go to Camelot at Christmas-time.  But Camelot is not what they were expecting.  I think this is a fun way to introduce kids to the myth surrounding Camelot, King Arthur, and the Knights of the Round Table.  I love when books and movies use myths – even if they completely change them.  Are some kids going to think that the way the Disney Huntchback of Notre Dame ends is the way the book ends? Yes.  But at least it is getting kids introduced to the story. And if they enjoyed it enough, they’ll pick up the book – or at least research it more. That is why I think I will like these stories.

These books are super easy reads.  This one felt to read even faster than the Halloween one did.  I look forward to reading these with Brooklyn at bedtime when she gets a little older.  What I really like is that the author gives details at the end of the book where various aspects of the story were inspired. She gives you more details surrounding the myths.

Overall a fun book for kids.  If you’re looking for ways to introduce your kids to history and myths, this has seemed like a fun way to do it so far.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Book Review: The Most Magnificent Thing

The Most Magnificent Thing
by Ashley Spires
Date Read:  6/16/15
Rating: ★ ★ 

I received a copy of The Most Magnificent Thing for free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I read this book on my phone to my 8 month old daughter.  Needless to say, it was hard for her to focus being on such a small screen (though she has trouble focusing lately anyway because she’d rather be crawling around). However, some of the pictures grabbed her attention. The drawings and the colors are very simple in this book, so it won’t keep the attention of very young readers.

However, I did enjoy the story.  The words were still simple for young readers, but the moral of the story was pretty good: it teaches kids that if you get stumped working on a problem that you can’t solve, sometimes just walking away for a little bit and coming back with a clear head, you can solve your problem.  I think that is actually something really neat to teach kids.

I also really enjoyed what “the most magnificent thing” ended up being.  I won’t spoil it for you!

I recommend picking up this book to read to your kids, especially once they’re hitting elementary school and start having homework and projects. It’s just a good reminder that getting frustrated with a problem doesn’t ever solve your problem. Taking some time to cool off and clear your head can do wonders.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Book Review: Haunted Castle on Hallow's Eve

Haunted Caste on Hallow's Eve
by Mary Pope Osborne
Date Read:  6/13/15
Rating: ★ ★ 

I picked this book up at a big book sale in town because I’ve had several people talk about what fun kids books they are.  I like to read a few chapters of an easy book right before bed to help me unwind…I use the time to scope out fun books to read to my daughter at bedtime as she gets older.

I didn’t realize I had the Christmas book also until after I finished reading this book. Technically the first book in the series is the Christmas one. What I discovered is that this holiday series is a special add on called the “Merlin Mission” series, and are basically side stories from the main series.  I don’t think I missed much by reading it out of order.

Other than not knowing who Jack and Annie were before starting this book, it did a pretty good job of filling things in for me about the Magic Treehouse.  The prologue is actually a nice recap for me to get me acquainted.

This was a fun book. I liked the Halloween aspect of a haunted castle.  I liked that Jack had to overcome his fear and Teddy had to learn that he wasn’t all that and needed his friends help.  It was a nice little twist on the Haunted part too. It was a really easy read and I think you can have your kids help predict what they think had happened to the castle and how they were going to beat the Raven King.

I am actually looking forward to reading more of these books because I think the others will be fun as they go through history.  Next up is the Christmas story --- which is the book right before this one. Then I’ll start looking for some of the others. There are a lot of books in this series though… 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Book Review: The Night Fairy

The Night Fairy
Date Read:  6/5/15
Rating: ★ ★ 

I thoroughly enjoyed this story.  It would be perfect to read to a little girl who enjoys fairies at bedtime, a chapter at a time.  The pictures are beautiful as well.  This was a nice change to other kids stories that I’ve read, in that it was still a simple read, but was written very well.  I feel like this is a great book for kids to really start understanding how to write and tell stories, as well as just being entertaining for the kids.

This story is not a typical fairy story – if you’re thinking it’s going to be like the reinvented Tinker Bell stories, you would be wrong.  In this world there are day and night fairies, and they have magic that gets stronger during their time of day.  Flory has a bad experience as a very young fairy and has to learn how to live without wings all by herself. She didn’t have anyone teach her how to be friends, etc.  In this story, you see Flory grow both in her magic and learn how to make relationships.

I really enjoyed watching her explore and learn about the garden and all the creatures that live within the garden. I especially love Hummingbirds, so that was the best part to me.  The story has a happy ending and I wish Flory all the best.  I would love to read more stories by this author.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

8 Months Old

This post is about 2 weeks late (oops), but Brooklyn turned 8 months old!!  We were actually vacationing in San Diego on her 8 month birthday, so we thought it would be fun to take some pictures on the beach, in addition to pictures at home.

Brooklyn absolutely loved the beach.  The water was a bit cold still...but if it wasn't so cloudy and windy, it wouldn't have been too bad.  So she wasn't able to really sit in the water, but she loved crawling around (and eating) sand!

As far as what happened this past month in regards to her likes/dislikes and development:

  • Brooklyn started crawling just after she turned 7 months old!  Her first successful crawl of more than one or two steps was across the ABC mat to get to Flounder (a stuffed animal from The Little Mermaid).  Now that she's crawling, her thighs are thinning out also...but those cheeks are still little chipmunk cheeks!
  • She began clapping.  She claps for everything now.  When she is proud of her self and is being praised by us for doing something, she claps.  And now her claps are even beginning to make some noise!
  • Brooklyn attended her first Diamondbacks game (baseball) on Mother's Day.  We made a sign stating that, and we ended up on TV!  They even stayed on us for quite a while!
  • Toward the end of the month she started pulling up on to her knees.  I actually walked in to her room to get her after she woke up from a nap one day and she was up on her knees in her crib!  Now she's beginning to try to get all the way to her feet!
  • We had been attending a class called Baby Gym at a gymnastics center in town. It's free and just lets the babies move and socialize.  It's for 6 months - 18 months, so there is a wide range of kids.  We created a little group of about 5 kids (and mommies) that were all within 2 months of Brooklyn.  She loved it. We played with toys, practiced crawling, tumbled (front rolls and back rolls - assisted obviously), and bounced on the trampoline.  Unfortunately they have a really awesome summer camp too, so Baby Gym went on hiatus through the summer.  So now we have to find something else to do - we're thinking music class.
  • Brooklyn also started eating Puffs this month - they're basically a dried cereal that is designed to dissolve really quickly.  It helps her start learning how to mash food in her mouth and swallow it.  The first time she tried them she didn't seem to particularly like them...but now she LOVES them.  She also started drinking out of a sippy cup.  Even tho it's spill-proof, she still ended up with more water on her shirt than in her mouth! I finally figured out it's because she was sucking too much water in to her mouth than she was able to swallow.  But now she's getting much better and doesn't wear nearly as much water.

I can't believe my baby is already 8 months old.  The time is flying by.  I just love the age she's at though because she's able to do more (though admittedly it's exhausting running after her now), and she can really start interacting with you. Her personality is really showing now - stubborn little thing.  Though I'm finding I miss certain things already - like how small and cuddly she was.  Now I'm lucky if I can get her to sit through a bedtime story!!

I'm looking forward to everything that happens the next month!  Brooklyn will turn 9 months just days before we fly for the first time with her to Florida to attend my grandma's funeral.  If anyone has any tips on flying with a baby, please leave them in the comments!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Book Review: The Heir

The Heir
by  Kierra Cass
Date Read:  6/3/15
Rating: ★ ★ 

When the Selection series ended, I was satisfied.  It wasn't the best series I've ever read; it definitely had some problems - mainly with not really having much conflict - but it was a decent read nevertheless.  When I saw there was going to be a 4th book, I wasn't sure how I felt.  But I figured it'd be fun to read because it was going to be from America and Maxon's daughter, and watch her go through the Selection like her parents.  Ok. That sounds like a decent enough follow up, right?

Well, the book was slow.  Hardly ANYTHING happens.  Eadlyn is actually snobby and I didn't really like her at the beginning. Though I did really like the first paragraphs about "7 minutes".  That was probably the best written thing in the book.

I didn't like the reason that they held a Selection, and I wasn't impressed with the conflict that Cass tried to create - she was probably even less successful than she was originally with the rebels.  I'm not really sure why her editors don't sit her down and make her develop these conflicts better.  It was just mentioned in passing almost.  She doesn't do build up well. I understand she wants that to be the big conflict at the end of the series, but there are ways to build it up and still have decent conflict in the earlier books as well.  I feel like even Stephanie Meyer, with Twilight, did this better.

So basically the only thing that happens in this book is that Eadlyn has to participate in a Selection and a bunch of boys show up to try to win her heart.  That's it!  And honestly, I wouldn't have even been friends with her because she has such an attitude.  Something big happens RIGHT at the very end.  It helped change Eadlyn's view but it was almost too drastic of a change ..Cass didn't really build up to this either and it just felt like a hooker to make you read the next book...

...that's right, alas, it is NOT a solo follow up.  Seriously???  How did this turn in to 2 books???  If she cut a bunch of fluff, she could have told this story in one book and been done.  And honestly, I probably would have really liked it.  But this just feels like milking it..

There were some characters that I liked in the book though, like Kile, Erik, and Henri.  It was fun to see all the characters from the original series all grown up - Aspen, Maxon, America, Marlee, Lucy...  even America's sister, May.  Though it was a little hard because the last we saw them they were still teenagers, and now they're they felt pretty different to me.  Which makes sense because everyone changes as they grow older...but since I didn't see them change, it just felt weird.

Anyway, I wasn't really satisfied with the ending - it felt very abrupt, and the conflict (or lack there of) was terrible.  Now that I'm 4 books in, I'll read the final book to finish the series out...but this didn't do anything to make me want to read more books by Cass in the future.  And am I supposed to really believe this is the last book this time??  The author who cried wolf....
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