Five Things

When I first started my Five Things series, I intended to just randomly share, quite literally, five things of note. Whether it was a great meal, a new purchase, a one-off thought I had or something I was wanting to do. But over the past year or so it's really morphed into a round-up of my current favorite products—and mostly beauty, at that. Since my blog is so full of cute little quadlings and lots of mom-related talk, I figure that a style + beauty themed post now and then is a good change. And I do love my makeup and products, especially when it's something that works and I'm passionate about. 

So I revamped a little image to drop into each new Five Things post I share with y'all—which also will make it easier to pin these posts and share them—and look forward to lots of fun products and shares in this category. Keep in mind that some of the products I share might be new, but most of them are just things I've come across and added to my repertoire and love. I only include and talk about products that I've been using for probably at least a few months and I'm never compensated for my Five Things posts, inclusions or opinions. 

And before you ask, yes that's my bathroom counter in the photo below and yes, that's a note on my mirror that says "you look amazing." Because, let's face it, there are plenty of mornings when I stumble to my sink and get that first morning glance into the looking glass that I feel like I look a thousand times less than amazing. What you can't exactly see are the words written to the right of it in a light pink lipstick my husband found in my drawer. He added, "Love, Your Husband" because he likes to remind me that I look just fine. And, other than that initial glance of my just-awoken mug, I always end up believing him. ;)

1.) Eos shaving cream. Really never thought about trying this one until another blogger I read occasionally talked about it and I decided to give it a go. I really like their lip balms, so figured the shaving cream might be pretty nice. It's not a foam, it's almost more creamy and clay-like and it's been great on my skin and gives a nice, close shave without the occasional razor burn I used to get with typical shave creams. I liked it enough that I bought a new one when I ran out instead of moving on to the next thing!

2.) Keeping up with my kids and stressing out over something (or four or 12 things) every day definitely has upped my perspiration and I always am looking for a deodorant that can truly do its job and also smell nice and not fade away before my day is done. I actually already had Degree MotionSense Dry Spray in a different scent and was due for a refill so I opted to try the sheer powder scent and this one has been so awesome. Refreshing smell that has lasted all day long that even I'm impressed!

3.) With my new shorter 'do and my love of big hair, I picked up Big Sexy Hair's Powder Play during a Target run several weeks ago and was pleased at it's effect. Just a very light sprinkle on my roots has provided lift and fullness, even on second or third day old hair. Because a little goes a long way, this tiny container will last a long time. I sort of divide my hair into three layers horizontally and sprinkle across my roots on each layer than tousle my fingers through my hair to let it absorb. Style and go. Done!

4.) I have long been a fan of John Frieda products, especially anything in his beach style line, so when I spotted this Beach Blonde Cool Dip Purifying Shampoo during my same aforementioned Target trip I immediately added it to my cart. Obviously I was in my hair care restocking phase, as I'd just squeezed the last few drops out of my OGX Coconut Water shampoo. The mint smelled so good when I flipped open the top of the Cool Dip shampoo, and I loved how clean and light my hair felt after just the first use. It's meant to help detoxify hair and I think it truly achieves that. Plus the mint on your scalp feels heavenly and it has some detangler mixed in for less "knottiness" when you brush out your way.

5.) Did I mention I love John Frieda's beach hair products!? Because I really, really do. The Beach Blonde Sea Waves has been my go-to sea salt spray now ever since it hit shelves a little while ago. The Frieda line used to have the most amazing beach hair spray that I used religiously back when I was a teenager and then for some reason they quit making it. Finally, after all these years, they released one again. It's not as great as the original but it still beats out the million other brands I've tried. It's not overly sticky nor does it have too much gel in it that ends up making your hair crunchy instead of soft and wavy. Plus I can do some great styles or braids with my hair the day after using this because it provides such good texture and grip in your strands.

Now repeat the words "you look amazing" every morning until you believe it (or your makeup is done) and you'll start the day a little more ahead than you were...
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One Big Hack

Scoot that graphic to the right a tad, alter the size of the font in the middle, flatten all the layers aaaaannnnnddd.....done. I'd wrapped up a new custom invitation for a client—I've been churning out print-your-own invites in all sorts of fun themes and hope to list revised versions in my Etsy shop soon!—and despite the late hour, I still had a little more homework to do. Hair.

My computer screen looked like this for over an hour...

...and I still couldn't decide whether to chop it or not!! A long a-line bob was looking better and better. So I scrolled and browsed some more, enjoying this....

....drinking this...

...and ignoring all this. Pretty much like Bandit, he didn't care for the laundry pile much either.

The next morning came early and I got my whole crew up, fed, dressed, prepped, shoed and out the door for a photo shoot my mom had scheduled with a friend of hers who dabbles in photography. The kids enjoyed a lush, green park setting and I think some good pictures were had. I love these two that we snapped on my phone—one of them with my beloved step-dad who they call "granddad" and one of them with mama. My babies are growing up!

My mom and I swapped vehicles and she and my step-dad took the kiddos to eat at an old-fashioned diner then back to their house, while I made a beeline for a few quick errands then totally splurged on a lunch menu steak and potatoes. While updating my fantasy football line-up for the next week because, you know, priorities. 

Afterward it was time for the big whack! I sat down like this...

...and finished like this!

My uber talented stylist did the perfect cut and color just like I'd hoped for, taking a whopping eight inches off the back of my hair. I'm excited I can donate it and will be sending the strands to the non-profit, Children With Hairloss

When I got home, I had just enough time to buzz around and clean up a few things, like breakfast dishes still sitting out from the morning because some days there really isn't two seconds to spare. I dislike a messy house as much as the next gal, but I've learned to relax a little about the chaos because it truly is a sign of four active, healthy kids and I'd trade a spotless pad for them any day. ;)

Before I knew it, it was time to pick up the kiddos from my mom's and I tried to leave in my house shoes with no keys. Not the only time I'll lose my mind for a minute! Now if I can just stop running my fingers through the imaginary extra eight inches of hair I keep thinking are still there, I'll look just a wee bit less crazy...
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Our Weekend


I know it's been a little while since I've posted and I've got so many updates, new posts ideas and even a new design in the works to share on here. But lately it's been everything I can do to find five spare minutes to get anything done. And then I have to decide what is the highest priority at the moment and go with that. Kids, husband, deadlines for work, events and so the cycle goes.

I figured I'd jump back in with a quick weekend update, despite the fact that it's after midnight and now Monday, technically, and I really should be sleeping. You know, priorities.

Oh, and lest I forget...you can now follow Texas Tales on Instagram! I was on the 'gram awhile back when it first started becoming popular. But I had a few issues with privacy and some people stealing photos, so I deleted my account and stuck to my private social media outlets and the blog. I also started watermarking all my photos, which you've likely noticed if you're new here! Watermarking seems to have made a big (and positive) difference in the safety and ownership of my photos—something I take very seriously as many of my photos now include my babies! So I simply apply my watermark to my Instagram photos as well and you can now catch glimpses of our day-to-day life, plus a bit of creative home decor, recipes, outfits and other fun little details.

This weekend was both busy and great. We started off with a family movie night at home on Friday evening, complete with pizza and popcorn. The kids love it as much as we do, and this time we'd chosen The Lion King for our film. It was a library DVD, though, and the freakin' thing stopped working about halfway through the movie so we had to abort and go to Plan B. And that was basically two bonus episodes of Paw Patrol to appease the kids then off to a late bedtime. We'll have to wrap up The Lion King later!

Saturday morning we were out the door by 10am for a sweet second birthday party for one special boy at the park and enjoyed slides, cupcakes and a fun Mickey Mouse theme. Straight from there we met up with several girlfriends of mine and ate a delicious lunch and the kids ran around the house, played, colored, built with blocks and bugged me with 21 questions while I had static conversations with all my buddies while sipping wine. The husband even got to watch a little football, though no photos were taken as evidence.

sure sign of a good time at a toddler birthday party - multiple water bottles, the wife's purse,
at least one kid to carry, party favors and grubby hands!!
When it was time for my little crew to get home for dinner and bedtime, the husband graciously offered to take them himself so I could go with two of the girls for a couple beers and some dinner. We really enjoyed it but didn't get too crazy, calling it a night be 8:30pm!

Sunday morning we attended our church—we absolutely love it there and it was a wonderful service, as always—then took the lunches I'd scrambled to pack before we'd left the house and headed to the pool for the kid's swim lessons. We are very grateful to my former synchro coach, Patti, who is accommodating our crew for lessons in September. Not a strange thing for Texas as the weather is easily still mid-90s much of the time right now, though hopefully it'll be cooling off more by October.

In the meantime, the husband and I are so glad the quads are getting such expert instruction and more experience in the water! He and I both spent much of our time growing up around pools. Myself, especially, since I was a synchronized swimmer for the Pirouettes of Texas for 11 years. Then we both worked as lifeguards and swim instructors for many, many years after that. The water has long been a part of our background and we are so happy to pass that love onto our kiddos! They are thrilled every time they get to be in the water and have done great with their lessons as well. I'll actually be heading back to my old stomping grounds at the pool later this week for a masters practice (for older and/or retired swimmers) to see how I feel in the water, as I'm considering joining the masters team. But no one's jumping to conclusions yet, since I'm pretty sure my efforts at synchro will end up more floundering then flattering. It could be a toss up so I'm not holding my breath...unless I lose my nose clip.

I'm happy to report that the day got even better when the kids took a nice long nap and the husband and I sat on the couch and watched an entire movie before they woke up! Then we caught most of the Cowboys vs. Giants football game later and were relieved the Dallas Cowboys won—if only by a point! I'm in a Fantasy Football league again this year and now have a more vested interest in the sport, so I try to keep up. Ya know, in those spare five minutes I can find. ;)

our little cowboys fan in his jersey 
And that does it for our weekend recap. I'm off to get some shut-eye so hopefully I can get moving in a timely manner tomorrow. There's a trip to the gym and grocery shopping to be done, all with my four three-year-olds in tow, meaning it's both time consuming and tiresome but doable! Which is why I've already got my canister of grape-flavored Spark sitting on the kitchen counter to give myself an extra boost before I head out the door. That and the fact that I truly believe the kids are getting easier, especially these past few weeks and months. The husband and I have heard so many wonderful things about the magic age of four and as we get closer to our crew being three and a half, I can honestly say I think we're nearly there. I'll have to post an update soon as proof that miracles do happen. And that the "why" stage has also arrived. "Why are you doing that? Why are you sitting there? Why are you opening it? Why are you moving that? Why, why, why, WHY!?!?!"

We haven't decided whether it's effective to pawn off some of the "why" questions onto the other siblings, or whether that ultimately creates more "why's" all the way around. I've read snippets of articles that claim young children ask anywhere from 288 to 437 questions per day, making that anywhere from 1,152 to 1,748 questions for us as quad-parents to field on the regular. Yowza. Kinda feeling like that might be true right now! Whhhhyyyyyyy???

More answers to all your questions coming soon, be sure to stop back by later this week for some fresh new posts and don't forget to check out my Texas Tales Instagram page and you can also find me on Pinterest!
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Our Weekend

It's the start of pre-school in our house. A day that once seemed so far and completely distant has at last arrived. And it's not just pre-school. It's the very fact that twice a week, my kiddos will be going to school to learn, play and interact with teachers and fellow students and that twice a week I will get a chance to work, create, clean and perhaps even rest. (Every now and then I give myself a complete "day off" and come home after school drop-off to go back to sleep and have no real agenda during my time alone. I can't be on the go all the time. It's exhausting!)

For the weekend eve of our foray into pre-school, we got to enjoy plenty of social time, family time and even a date night. I'd been counting down the days and then, ultimately, hours until date night with the husband last Thursday. We did our favorite things—a steak for dinner (Texas Roadhouse is one of our favorite casual restaurants) and an action movie. Because this gal doesn't typically do chick flicks. I love action. The more shoot 'em up, the better! We saw The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and enjoyed it very much and really, just enjoyed the chance to sit in a cool, dark place where no children were calling for me every five seconds or needed assistance in the bathroom/kitchen/living room/mess they made. Bliss, I tell you. One hour and 56 minutes of it, if we're really counting.

I also finally wore my first-ever pair of Miss Me jeans that the husband had bought me for my 30th birthday back in June. I love them! There's nothing like having a little sparkle on your butt to get through the day.

On Friday, I spent a lot of time just me and the kids and we had a really great day. I took them to the park before lunch so they could run off some energy—and steam, apparently, since even the "cooler temps" still ducked just below 100 degrees. 

Then in the afternoon we spent some time strolling leisurely through Target, snacking on popcorn and checking out pretty much every item available in the toy aisles. They do so well with understanding that we are just looking and checking things out, not buying everything. And they don't throw a fit about it, either. They really do enjoy just seeing what all is out there and they do make sure to tell me about the stuff they just loooooove, mama. The good behavior is often because I also try to set myself up for success and not take them out or run errands with my crew when they are either tired or hungry. Because neither of those scenarios ends up going well, ya know? 

(I also realized while posting this that I took a photo of everyone in front of the Frozen display. And while Harrison likes Sven and Kristoff just fine, he was in hog heaven over on the aisle full of trains and cars. On which we spent plenty of time, so quickly wanted to clarify he's not required to endure tutus and tiaras just because he has three sisters!)

While we opted for pizza for one night's dinner and some easy fixes for other meals, I did manage to make some pretty dang good teriyaki chicken with freshly steamed veggies and a heaping bowl of brown rice. Mmmm mmm good.

On Friday evening, I got some more orders made for my Etsy shop, Texas Take—my hand stamped key chains have been a hot ticket item lately! And it never fails that when I sit down to work at my computer, despite the kids being occupied or sleeping, Bandit (our tabby cat) always has to make a prompt appearance. In my face or on my keyboard.

Saturday morning I successfully baked blueberry muffins (from a box, don't be too impressed), of which we all ate every last crumb. Then the kids watched Tangled while the husband got some yard work done and I arranged some of the blossoms I'd gotten at the store. Fresh flowers in the house never fails to make me smile. And the husband knows there are three sure-fire ways to cheer me up, make my day or earn bonus points: the movies, flowers and candles. Done, done and done.

Saturday afternoon, while the husband took Harrison and Logan with him to get haircuts for the guys followed by frozen yogurt, I took Kailey and Trystan to a pool party for a little friend's first birthday. The girls had a blast swimming and my friend, Medley, helped me toss them around in the water so I didn't have to wade up and down the pool with my arms full. 

A few cupcakes and some water-logged little girls later, we headed home for dinner as a family followed by baths and some serious giggles. The kids got a hold of my phone and started taking pictures of each other, literally posing for one another and saying "CHEESE!" without any prompting whatsoever. Ham bones!?

Sunday was spent attending an incredible service at our church, and we went back later in the afternoon for our first meet-the-teacher experience! It was awesome and I'm so excited for the kids to start pre-school! They love going to the school at our church and we have been so happy and blessed to be able to send them there. They started out one day a week last fall with the Mother's Day Out program, and are graduating to two days a week with the pre-school program this school year. It's going to be exciting to watch and see what all they learn in a steadfast educationally-formatted environment!
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Guest Post Series "The Professionals," Part 2

Hopefully you were able to read my friend Christine's guest post on the blog last week, which kicked off my new guest series dubbed "The Professionals." I'm introducing several of my friends who are all accomplished, creative professionals in their respective fields and have asked them to share advice, parenting tips, how they pursue their professional goals and more in each post. Christine, who is a talented and passionate teacher, is sharing the second half of her post on teaching children literacy. Read on!

6.) Vocabulary: Beginning readers must use the words they hear orally to make sense of the words they see in print. Vocabulary also refers to high frequency sight words, which are the most commonly used words that children are encouraged to memorize as a whole by sight so they can automatically recognize these words in print without having to use any strategies to decode.

· There are two parts to vocabulary: high frequency sight words (words that CANNOT be decoded), and vocabulary words.
· For sight words look up: http://www.wisd.org/users/0001/docs/GVC/WISD%20High%20Frequency%20Word%20Lists%20by%20Grade%20Level.pdf
· This is the list of all high frequency sight words kids should memorize broken down into grades. These are words that cannot be decoded and must simply be memorized.
· To help with memorization of sight words you can: begin by teaching the word to your child, put the words up on a wall so he/she sees them frequently, ask your child to find the word in newspapers, magazines, books, at the store. Play the memory game by putting the words on index cards. Make flash cards of the sight words and time your child to see how many he/she can recite in a minute. If your child can write, have he/she write the words on paper, chalkboards, or dry erase boards.
· For vocabulary words: read, read, read! The more your child hears words in a book, the more familiar he/she will become with vocabulary words.
· Speak to your child in complete sentences and using adult words.
· Give definitions of words your child is not familiar with
· Pick one new vocabulary word a week and study it all week long, put it up on a wall, have your child try and use it in a sentence, or identify when YOU use it in a sentence.

7.) Comprehension: Comprehension is the reason for reading. Good readers think actively as they read. They use their experiences and knowledge of the world, vocabulary, language structure, and reading strategies to make sense of the text.

· Comprehension is the most important part of literacy. A child can be an excellent, fluent reader, decode any word, or know an arsenal of vocabulary words. But if he/she cannot comprehend what they have read or written, the above skills are without value.
· For beginning readers, give your child a picture book and even if he/she can’t read, ask her to “tell you the story” using the pictures. Most children begin by looking at the pictures, flipping the pages and telling the story as they think it goes based on the pictures.
· The most basic steps of comprehension begin with conversation. Ask your child what happened in the book. What happened first, next, and last?
· Who are the characters in the story? Where there any villains? Where did the story take place? What happened?
· Use past experiences to connect the story to your child. Ex. Has this ever happened to you before? Did this remind you of a time when…? Where have you seen this animal before?
· Read a story to your child, then have him/her draw a picture of what happened in the book.
· Ask your child to predict what could happen next in a story. Before turning the page, talk about what they think will happen next. Ex. What do you think will happen next? Can you make a prediction?
· Encourage further comprehension skills by teaching inference. The most basic way is by using the pictures to decipher what has happened in the story, even when the text does not say. Ex. A picture of a boy with tears on his face but the text does not say he is sad or crying. Ask your child: how does the boy feel? (sad, upset, crying). How do you know he is sad? (because he has tears on his face, because he is crying, he looks sad).
· For older students, have them make a comparison and contrast chart (Venn diagram) on two characters in the book, or two different settings, or compare and contrast two different books.

8.) Spelling: the understanding that words are made up of separate speech sounds (phonemes) and that letters represent those sounds.

· Spelling is a combination of writing, phonemic awareness, phonics, and memorization.
· To reinforce spelling, all of the above literacy characteristics must be practiced regularly.
· Play the memory game with spelling words, have your child practice writing out words and use flashcards
· Remind your child to sound out words that can be decoded and memorize sight words.
· Have your child “write” the spelling words in the air with their fingers.

9.) Writing: writing is a complex task that balances purpose, audience, ideas and organization with the mechanics of writing (sentence structure, word choice, spelling).

· The only way to become a good writer is to write constantly. This begins as young as children can begin holding crayons, markers or pencils.
· Writing can be drawing a picture that a child then orally tells a story for.
· At the beginning stages, drawing pictures is a child’s form of writing and their way of communicating stories. Even if the pictures look like scribbles, if a child can orally tell a story and describe what they drew a picture of, this is considered writing (think back to the early days when humans drew pictures on cave walls)
· Have your child practice writing his/her name
· Tracing letters, writing sight words, vocabulary words, or creating sentences with magnetic words
· Use shaving cream or sand and have your child practice writing his/her name, letters, or sight words in the shaving cream and sand
· As they get older and can begin writing sentences, have your child write a daily journal of what they did that day.
· Make them write the grocery list for you, or cards to grandparents and siblings. 

Each child develops differently and as a parent we must evaluate what our child’s strengths and weaknesses and work on what we think they need the most or believe is the most important. Teaching literacy to children can become a part of your everyday routine if you choose to incorporate it into your daily activities. Simply by instilling a love of books and writing to your children will help them realize that reading and writing are fun and hopefully they will carry those beliefs into their years of schooling.


Thank you so much, Christine, for sharing such great information! And hopefully you, the reader, have been able to glean a fresh perspective or some helpful ideas and tips for your own kiddos! I know as mine begin to recognize more and more letters and express a desire to learn how to write or constantly ask what words say that they spot everywhere, I'll be implementing as much of this as possible. Literacy is as literacy does. ;)
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