Mrs. Gore Likes: Usborne Sticker Books

Summertime is in full swing, and I have some indoor fun to pass along for any mamas and daughters who want to stay in the A/C and enjoy quality time together.

If you’ve stepped foot in my house – and more specifically, our schoolroom – you’ll quickly recognize that I’m a super-duper devoted Usborne book fan.

Sometimes you jump on a bandwagon and live to regret it – for instance, Disney’s Movie Club, wherein I ordered every DVD that was ever made and now they’re all scratched up and we have to re-purchase the digital versions, thanks, kids! – but I have yet to receive an Usborne book that I regret.

In fact, I get kind of slappy silly about their books.

Especially their sticker books.

Especially…squeals and giggles!!!…their DOLLHOUSE sticker books.

For reals. Just ask my family and friends. I am a major geek about Usborne’s dollhouse sticker books!!!

So, wait. I have to backtrack for a minute.

I HAVE regretted one Usborne purchase.

I’m talking about the day, three years ago, that I bought Rebekah Usborne’s classic dollhouse sticker book — the CUTEST sticker book I have EVER SEEN!!! – and had to sit and watch her decorate it and put stickers in random places and keep my mouth shut about the whole thing while nodding and smiling encouragingly. I was literally sitting on my hands lest I snatch the book away from her and make it my own.

It was an intense day on the mommying front. I was flat-out JUDGING a preschooler’s sticker placement.

And I determined then and there that, next time I got a birthday card with money in it, I was going to buy my own dollhouse sticker book to play with all by myself.

(You think I’m kidding.)

Well…two long years went by, and I matured a little, and I became a little more magnanimous and…I made a decision.

I would still get me a dollhouse sticker book, alright, but…I’d also get one for both girls. I guess.

And instead of locking myself in my room, we’d all sit down and decorate our houses together.

And that’s exactly what we did!

Here’s the book. If you click on the picture, it will take you to an Usborne party link where you can get your own (but don’t do that yet because I’m not finished gushing yet. These things take time!):

Picture of Dollhouse Sticker Book (Revised)

Here we are WITH our books!

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Can you tell I’m excited?

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We’ve been working on our houses, here and there, for a couple of months now, one room at a time.

I realize that my daughters are sitting on a hard floor while I’m sitting on not one, but TWO, floor pillows, but I didn’t know that until I looked at these pictures, okay?

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We get somewhere comfy where we can spread out (like on two floor pillows! Or on my bed or at the kitchen table!), we pull out the page of stickers we’ll need for our dollhouse room, we work and fuss and feather our sticker nests, and then we lay them all out side-by-side and compare.

Then, in TRUE girly fashion, we go around the circle and say what we like best about each person’s house. It’s like my sleepover dreams from yesteryear have come true.

It’s about as femininely fun as it gets, and what I have been so pleased about — and what I didn’t plan, really — is that the fun has lasted for a long time. When I normally give my kids an Usborne sticker book (we’ve been through so many and love them all!!) to do on their own, they might complete it in a couple of days or a week, but doing this as a team has meant that we have savored the book as time allows. It has turned into an experience, and I think it is one we’ll all remember.

Here are a few pictures of the actual pages so you can get an idea of what the book is like. First is the “Hallway”. The blank hallway is on the left and the page of coordinating stickers is to the right.

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Here’s a finished hallway:

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Here’s a living room before we decorated it:

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and the finished product:

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The kitchen (my favorite…)

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and the kitchen with stickers (swoon!!):

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There are many more pages to decorate: a master bedroom, a boy’s room, a girl’s room, a baby’s room, an office, an attic, a garden. We still, in fact, have a couple of rooms to go! And they’re all precious.

The best news?

While the above is personally my favorite dollhouse sticker book of Usborne’s – it’s whimsical and children’s-book-ish and spans the ages that we have in our home right now – there are others available.

So next year we can do the Victorian Dollhouse together! (Again, click on the pictures to be taken to the book at Usborne!)

Picture of Victorian Dollhouse Sticker Book

And the next year we can do the Country Estate together!

Picture of Dollhouse Sticker Book Country House

And the next year we can do the Royal Dollhouse!!!

Picture of Royal Dollhouse Sticker Book IR

And the next year we can do the Grand Hotel!!!!

Picture of Grand Hotel Sticker Book

And by then I bet there will be MORE to choose from!!!!!!!! YESSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, calming down now.

My friend, Chrissy – who is my pal, my next-door neighbor and my personal Usborne consultant – has opened up a party link for me where you can scoop up your own dollhouse sticker books. All of the links in the post will take you there, or you can click here to be taken to the main page. If you’re interested in anything Usborne, it would make my day if you’d shop through our links, not only because it will personally help me stock up on more Usborne goodies for…um, homeschool (NOT for more sticker books, nervous laughter)…but because it will help Chrissy with her growing business. She is a pastor’s wife and mommy of 3 children UNDER THE AGE OF THREE. And she’s awesome. If you don’t already have an Usborne representative in your life, I invite you to allow Chrissy to help you with all your Usborne needs.

I never want anyone to spend money they don’t have or tempt you with things you don’t need or want, but if you have extra budget money and would like something fun to do with your kids or grandkids or nieces or nephews, these sticker books are obviously something I’m really excited to introduce you to.

Now. If you’d like some more Usborne recommendations, keep reading. If not, I’ll see you soon! (Or you can find us daily over at Facebook!)

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Here’s another sticker book at the TOP of my list! Rebekah (age 7) and I have GREATLY enjoyed this “Fashion Long Ago” book and have stretched it out since Christmas. She just finished the last page, which was a “design your own fashions” section that she really loved.  This book, in particular, was very educational and resulted in some unscripted homeschooling. We read about the different fashions featured on each page, we would go and find fabrics like that in our house so she could feel them, we’d discuss books and movies where the characters might have worn such clothes…

it has been incredibly informative, it is SO detailed, and it has been right up both of our alleys. Find it by clicking on the picture below:

Picture of Sticker Dolly Dressing Fashion Long Ago

By the way, Rebekah has loved all of the “Sticker Dolly Dressing” books from Usborne. She’s done Christmas, and Ballerinas, and Weddings, and Travel and maybe more that I’m not remembering. They’re all fun!

If you’re looking for sticker books for your BOYS, Gideon (age 9) has devoured nearly all of the Usborne sticker book library. I asked his opinion and, at the top of his list is the Second World War (clicking on the picture will take you to the link):

Picture of Sticker Dressing Second World War

then the First World War:

Picture of Sticker Dressing First World War IR

then Pirates:

Picture of Pirates Sticker Book (Revised)

But there are SO MANY to choose from, and he has loved them all!

Betsie, who just turned 5, has so enjoyed the Teddy Bear sticker book series. The stickers are bigger and easier to handle, and once I introduced her to each bear, she was able to find the right stickers on her own. It made her feel like a big girl without the frustration that might have come from the more advanced sticker dolly dressing books.

Picture of Dress the Teddy Bears Going Shopping

Shhh, don’t tell, but I’m ordering this one for her for her first day of school in the fall. She’s going to freak out!:

Picture of Dress the Teddy Bears For School Sticker Book

Here is another line of sticker books for younger kids, called “First Sticker Books”. I got some of these for my little nieces and nephews for Christmas and they were a hit. And what do you know? They have a new DOLLHOUSE version! Life is good. There are a ton of these First Sticker Books, by the way, something for every kid.

Picture of First Sticker Book Dollhouse

Lastly, while I’m talking Usborne, I have to tell you about Sheppy’s new favorite book, a book I WISH I would have had for all of my toddlers. This isn’t a sticker book, per se, but it DOES have reusable band-aid stick-ons, and it is seriously an incredible book that consistently keeps him occupied in church. I think it should win the Dr. Toy award. The band-aids are magical and sturdy and they just keep on sticking. It amazes me.

Picture of All Better!

He is also loving this book. That is, when his siblings haven’t stolen it from him. They like to make compound words out of the word lists and Betsie likes to write people letters using the words from this book. It’s precious and it is also sturdy for rough little readers. We’re ordering the Farm version soon! And then the Food book!

Picture of My First Word Book

Okay, I am forcing myself to stop now because I really could go on for DAYS. I love Usborne so much. I’ll be back soon to share some Usborne books that we use in our homeschool, but until then, I hope you find some STICKER FUN to get you through summer!! Happy shopping!

~

If you have any questions, I’d be happy to field them in the comments section or over at Facebook. We’ve enjoyed many other books, and will be glad to answer your questions or help you find the perfect book for the child in your life! Chrissy can even make you a wishlist for the children you’re shopping for. Just shout out their ages and interests!

Have Courage and Be Kind: 7 Spectacular Things about 2015’s Live-Action Cinderella

I grew up on Disney Princess movies. Sleeping Beauty and her pink (no, blue!) dress. Snow White and her terrifying journey through the woods (no, really…TERRIFYING). Belle with her precious lil’ nose stuck in a book. Ariel and her beautiful singing voice.

And then there was Cinderella.

One of my very favorites.

Even as a preschool-aged girl, I admired the rich timbre of her voice and I so desperately loved everything about her story. Her attic bedroom. Her bluebird and mouse friends. And don’t even get me started on the ballgown and glass slippers.

But, mostly, I think what I loved most about Cinderella was her dazzling rags-to-riches happy ending, and the message wound its way deep into my young heart that, no matter how my heart was grieving, if I’d simply keep on believing, the dream that I wished would come true.

Cinderella said it would.

And so did Jiminy Cricket.

And lots and lots of other animated friends.

Well, I’m 33 years old now, and I have slowly come to the realization that, in reality, most dreams DON’T come true.

And sometimes none of them do.

This news was initially quite distressing to me, but over time, I have begun to understand that, in truth, there’s something SO MUCH BETTER than getting all the things you want out of life and having every single one of your childhood dreams come true.

And the new live-action Cinderella movie told this sort of happily ever after, exactly.

It took my breath away to watch my beloved daughters, especially my 5-year old, being carried off by the INCREDIBLE message that this new Disney masterpiece brought to life in one of the most beautiful movies I have ever, ever seen.

Today’s Cinderella didn’t tell my little girls that all their dreams would come true.

She actually told them secrets FAR SUPERIOR to that, and as a huge believer in the power of story-telling, my greatest prayer is that the movie we watched together on Thursday last will inspire them in ways that I will never be able to measure.

Who am I kidding? I was inspired. And here I am, a mom in my 30’s and still wanting to be like Cinderella. But not for the reasons you’d think.

Here are just a few of those reasons, proof that really well-written fairytales are not just for children. They’re for grown-ups, too:

1. An innocent countenance.

First of all, can we just stop for a minute and talk about the breathtaking Lily James? She is a flawless flower, plucked straight from the meadow, and I am such a fan of her performance that I can’t even find room in my heart to be jealous of her. Just…bravo, you beautiful girl, and congratulations on the role of a lifetime. You lived up to Cinderella, in every possible way, and took her to a level beyond anything I ever could have imagined. You ARE Cinderella now, forever and ever. Thank you, for accepting this part, for all your hard work, and for giving the daughters of our country someone to emulate.

Obviously, I was dazzled!

But not simply by her outward beauty (of which there is a LOT).

You see, somewhere during my adolescent years, a role model emerged that took my eyes of the good and the wholesome, and I began to put more stock in that daring sort of beauty that immediately caught the eyes of men and weakened their knees. These vixens of the silver screen influenced me, and it really did seem like only these sorts were able to snag any real attention from the opposite sex. It pains my heart that I believed them and ever tried to imitate them.

In a culture full of bold women with bold eyes, it was so refreshing to see someone so gentle as Cinderella on the big-screen. Someone so good. Someone so modest and pure and, yes, KIND.

There were obviously no heaving bosoms in this movie, no damsels in distress, no challenging and lusty glances, just a sweet young woman who went about her work and who wasn’t a slave to her own interests and her own dreams.

A true heroine.

I want to raise girls like that.

Girls like Cinderella could change the world, if only they would believe they have value.

2. A simple and quiet ambition.

You guys know from past stories that I can get a little cray-cray around celebrities. Cough, cough…Pioneer Woman. But my husband, God bless him, has been a constant and needed voice of reason to remind me that celebrities are just people.

The new Cinderella movie brought this point to life, I think, when it repeatedly pointed out that the prince was “an apprentice to his father’s trade”.

I want to work very hard to see celebrities – and royalty – in this light, no more special than the lady next door, unless, of course, they are “brave and good and love their father” like the prince. That was what made him really special to Cinderella and what she valued about him. Not his crown. Not his charm. Not his looks.

That’s a happily-ever-after I can get behind.

I don’t want my girls to long for princes or titles or fame or fortune in their love stories, just a good, godly man who loves them well.

What more could any of us ask for than that?

3. An indwelling magic.

The Disney fairytales of yesteryear were stories of triumph, of some sort of magic getting you from a bad life to a good life and of helping you escape from where you are to where you want to be.

This sort of ideology, while lovely in a movie, is rather weak, in heart, and dissolves the great pillars of faithfulness and perseverance in the reality of daily life.

The new Cinderella, however, teaches that the best magic is found within, no matter your circumstance.

Cinderella wasn’t pursuing any life other than the one she was living, and the magic of her story was not saved for her triumphant escape from suffering and her elevation to the palace, but was actually what fueled her all along.

We are all probably familiar by now with the secret her mother imparted to her early in the film:

“Where there is kindness there is goodness and where there is goodness there is magic.” 

Hollywood can’t be all bad if there are people there writing lines like that, and I am thrilled to say that my daughter has memorized those words, of her own accord. If we can muster up this sort of magic in our homes and amongst our families, and even in our suffering, who knows what sort of real-life fairytales might ensue?

4. A contentment with memories.

When Cinderella’s mother died, the narrator says that her pain eventually lessened and her memories became her feast.

In fact, those memories of her “golden childhood” went on to sustain her during her darkest days as an orphan and servant, keeping bitterness, the true slayer of hearts, at bay.

I have often thought that, should something very tragic happen in my world – and, please, God, don’t let me practice this – I should never have any reason to question God’s goodness to me. There have been too many glimpses of Eden to ever be overshadowed by misery, and I would hope that my memories of God’s grace would carry me through any seasons of doubt.

This tenet was further expressed after Cinderella’s night at the ball in the fact that she wasn’t breaking her neck to make it back to the palace and see the prince again. She had her memory of that night and it was enough for her.

I found this sort of contentment very beautiful and terribly inspiring.

5. A beautiful determination: HAVE COURAGE AND BE KIND.

A week has gone by and I just can’t get over this mantra that dominated the entire film.

So simple, but those are the best lessons, aren’t they? The ones that you can easily repeat in times of need.

This message of “having courage” and “being kind” is mighty POWERFUL, and leaves the self-absorbed “every girl can be a princess” stories that I grew up with in the dust.

Let’s repeat it to our daughters, o’er and o’er again, and also to ourselves, until we are, by the grace of God, a people of kindness and courage.

6. A love for family.

As an avid fan of my parents and my family and my church, I found in Cinderella a kindred heart. When her step-sisters were asking for fripperies as souvenirs from her father’s journey and all she wanted was the branch that brushed his shoulder, I melted into a puddle of goo.

Then I looked intently at my daughter and hoped she was in some way understanding the level of beauty that was being offered to her young and absorbent heart.

Cinderella went on to endure years of hardship just to be true to her home and to her parents, and I was cheering her on every step of the way.

7. A freedom in forgiveness.

In case you haven’t seen the movie, I won’t expound on the “happy ending”, but you really HAVE to believe me that this was the best ending to any Disney Princess movie, ever. Go see it. Take a hankie. Or, if you’re like me and your tears start flowing during the “Frozen Fever” short before the movie, take two.

Three cheers to the screenwriters of this story who were brave and thoughtful enough to add dimensions to Cinderella’s tale that could be the foundation for a new generation of “princesses”, girls who have courage, who are kind, who are pure, who treasure the good guys, who love and honor their families…

girls who know what “happy endings” are all about.

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If you are a Christian mama, I encourage you to talk with your littles about Cinderella’s story and take it a step further. We know from God’s Word that none of us are “good” or “kind” without the redemptive work of Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I want my girls to understand that “being like Cinderella” is only something that will work if their “courage” and “kindness” is a direct result of the grace of God and is used as a vehicle for His glory. In our home, judging by her fruit, 2015’s Cinderella is obviously a Christ-follower.😉

To read another great review on this movie, click here. And as always, you are CORDIALLY invited to keep up with Mrs. Gore and family on Facebook by clicking here. No glass slippers required.

Mrs. Gore’s Hearty and Unsolicited Endorsement of “Moms’ Night Out”

You guys know that I have hermit tendencies.

If it weren’t for a few good people in my life, I would be tempted to hole up and become buried under the rubble of puzzle pieces and mismatched socks and stray Cheerio’s that is my house.

One of those good people is my friend, Chrissy.

Since moving to our town, she has made a faithful effort to plan a ladies’ night once a month where a group of us meet up to do something…anything…different than the stuff we do the other 29 days of the month (i.e. putting the puzzles back together, matching the socks and sweeping up those Cheerio’s).

One time we went out to eat and gab and cackle like hens.

One night we met at my Mom’s house to play board games (and eat and gab and cackle like hens).

Last night, we decided to go see a movie…

and eat and gab…

And OH, did we ever cackle like hens!

The movie?

“Moms’ Night Out”.

Since I live in a black hole, I had heard only a few things about it. Someone shared the trailer on facebook, but I never got around to watching it. I heard rumors that it was shown at a ladies’ retreat at Falls Creek which really intrigued me. My mom heard someone talking about it on the radio…

but the only thing I really knew about the movie going in to it was that it was apparently clean and that it was resonating with women.

And what I was completely unaware of when I took my seat in the theatre, flanked by my friends, a small cup of Dr. Pepper to my right, a pile of buttery popcorn in my lap, is that I was about to be taken on a two hour journey cataloguing MY LIFE.

You guys, it was like watching my every day activities, my secret frustrations, my rarely-expressed fears and the chaos and hilarity of raising my little children play out on a giant screen in front of my face.

The main character was even a homeschooling mommy blogger! You can’t get much more relatable than that.

And sure, the story took twists and turns that my life probably (and hopefully) never will, but throughout the entire story was a thread of spot-on humor, a glorification of motherhood, and a wellspring of encouragement for the tired mommy heart.

I don’t want to give too much away, but by the time the movie was over, my life seemed so normal. So sweet. And most importantly…

so important.

And silly things that at one time tempted me to lose my cool were all of a sudden typical and funny, even…

the day Betsie left hot pink nail polish footprints in the living room…

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the day that I sold my soul for a sandwich (read the AWFUL story behind this picture here)…

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the list of things I “signed up for” (read the life-changing blog post here)…

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all of it.

Even this.

(God help me).

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I came home renewed, refreshed, and eager to embrace this season of my life with a healthy and biblical and light-hearted perspective.

And as I sit here on my stairs with my laptop, a naked toddler next to me begging for nail polish, a baby asleep in the next room, and two always-hungry kids in the kitchen, I’m seeing it all with fresh eyes.

This mess is beautiful, and there is nowhere else I’d rather be.

And so it is official: “ladies’ night out” watching “Moms’ Night Out” was a night well spent.

Go watch it!

And be sure to eat, gab and cackle like a hen while you’re at it.