National Reading Day: My Current Book Recs

National Reading Day Book Recommendations for you and your toddler

In honor of National Reading Day, I wanted to highlight some of my favorite books from the past year (I included some of Reagan’s at the end too!). It was hard for me to make this list because there are so many books I enjoy and honestly, I have a hard time making decisions about most everything; especially what to read next.

Review of Wonder by RJ Palacio
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Favorite Message: Wonder by RJ Palacio

Everyone and their brother, sister and mother (you get my point) should be required to read this book. This is the type of book that reminds you to be a better person and to strive to always treat others with kindness. Get the tissues ready, I had to take a few breaks reading this book because I was sobbing. I don’t know if this book had such a profound affect on me because I have a daughter who I hope, as she grows, treats others with respect and compassion and I pray others will do the same for her. Great. Book.

Review of Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
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Favorite Narration: Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

If would give up wine to write like this author. She has such beautiful prose and descriptions and you cannot help but be enthralled in this characters many lives. Read this, then let’s have a cup of tea and discuss it together. (Perfect for a book club!)

Review of Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
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Favorite Non Fiction: Shantaram by Gregory David Robert

Escaped convict from Australia (convicted bank robber and addict) makes his way to India where he lived for ten years becoming engrained in slum life and gangs. He lives through some crazy stuff, makes some bad decisions but in the end his heart and mind are in the right place. (warning: this is LONG)

Review of The Shadow of the Wind By Carlos Zafon
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A book I just loved for no one particular reason. I liked the voice, and the characters and the story: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

This story is set in Barcelona in 1945 about a family who owns a bookstore and finds a mysterious book. (this is a trilogy and i liked each of the books, although the first is the best!)


My 14 month old daughters current favorites:

Review of First 100 Words
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Baby’s First 100 Words

We have read this 284 times, TODAY. She loves the pictures of the babies in this book and I try to do the sign language sign (to the ones I can remember) and I think it helps her associate the object pictured and the sign!

Review of Do Cows Meow
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Do Cows Meow? by Salina Yoon

This is a lift the flap book that she find to be very entertaining! Luckily the flaps are very sturdy so we can read it six times in a row seven times a day and the flaps are still looking relatively good!

Gotta end with a classic…

Review of Pat the Bunny
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Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt

This is a simple book, Where Paul and Judy do lots of things and encourage the little reader to do the same. Every time we read the line “How big is bunny” Reagan will lift her arms in the air and squeal while I say SO BIIIIGGGGG. That line may be coloring my review but it is so cute I don’t mind reading is 632 times.


Share your favorite books, I need to know what to read next! :)

Visiting Sea World San Diego with a One Year Old

Tips for a Successful trip to SeaWorld San Diego with a One year old (plus tips to get free tickets for military families)

My family of three took a trip to Sea World San Diego Saturday February 21, 2015. Here is my advice to enjoying the park (for free if you are an active duty military family- Thank you Sea World!) and with a one year old.

Military FREE tickets
Option 1: Get tickets at the park
We did not get tickets in advance, we waited in an hour line (YIKES) and received our free tickets at the ticket counter. (Our 1 year old daughter was free anyway- all children under 3 receive free admittance). DO NOT WAIT IN A KIOSK LINE, you cannot get military tickets using the self serve kiosk.

Option 2: Print or email tickets using TroopID verification on the Sea World Site. We should have done this, as it would have saved us an hour in line. (Their website states that in order to get free tickets you MUST do it online, this is not true, as we were able to walk up and get tickets at the ticket counter)

Parking: $16 (you can pay $21 to get “closer  parking” but we felt the normal parking was not too far-even with a stroller and giant diaper bag in tow.

My Advice:

1. This is covered above, but I must state again: purchase your tickets in advance. We were there on a Saturday (arguably one of the busiest days) and the ticket line took one hour. Save yourself!

2. Skip the shows for your one year old’s sake. Your little one is too small and too wiggly to get anything out of the shows. There were long lines and often standing room only available (which we all now would NOT work with a wiggly toddler). Alternative- visit the Dolphin Point and Shamu’s Underwater viewing. Your toddler will enjoy seeing the animals and watching them interact (and when they get tired of it , it is a lot easier to walk away from the display than leaving one of the shows!)

3. Bring your own food and stroller (you can rent a stroller, prices start at $18). You can save money (and calories) by bringing your own snacks, lunch and drinks. (I notoriously travel with too much but was thankful for the changing pad and extra clothes I brought when there was a diaper leak and the changing table in the bathroom had a line three babies deep…changed Reagan’s diaper and pants on a bench and voila, on the the next adventure)

4. Hit up all of the aquariums.

– Aquaria: World of Fishes: We started our visit here and spent 30 minutes watching the fish in the tanks. The large indoor fish tanks have a perfect ledge for your toddler to sit or stand on to get a close up look of the fish. There are three large tanks in there. One with piranhas (that they feed at 1:30 – save a spot on the left side of the tank to watch this…we were on the right and could see none of the action), the second was filled with colorful fish and tea turtles, the last with leopard sharks.

-Aquarium Del la Mer: This was under construction at the time of our visit- the temporary displays held no interest to our toddler- skip this until it is fully functional again.

-Freshwater Aquarium: The tanks here were less accessible for a tiny viewer, Reagan had to be lifted up to see the fish and she was more interested in walking… so, we did not spend much time in here.

-Shark Encounter: Our favorite exhibit. This was the most enjoyable for the adults and Reagan. You cannot bring the stroller into this exhibit and we did not feel comfortable leaving it unattended outside (they have stroller parking areas), so we took turns walking through this exhibit. It is a great balance of small pools to view sharks and the beautiful and impressive underwater viewing tunnel. (Don’t make the same mistake we did and take NO pictures in the tunnel!) Reagan went through this exhibit twice and was captivated both times.

-Penguin Encounter: Another enjoyable exhibit they have some warmer weather penguins swimming outside (great to sit and watch) and the colder climate penguins inside. WARNING you have to walk through the gift shop filled with adorable stuffed penguins to exit. We managed to make it out without a purchase, but Regan did stop to hug a few of the stuffed penguins (I will be honest, I would have bought one had my husband not been the voice of reason).

By the time we had visited all of the aquariums, it was nearing nap time and we wanted to make it back to the hotel so Regan could get a solid nap so that we could have a nice dinner out! We had a wonderful time at the park and you cannot beat the price!

Total Money Spent: $16 (for parking)
Total time at the park: 4 Hours (1 hour spent in line waiting for tickets)

I hope this information helps you have a fun and successful visit to Sea World!

Turtle Cove SeaWorld, Military Family visits SeaWorld San diego


Veterinarian Visit + Baby = Nightmare

They look so calm here #deception
They look so calm here #deception

Scene: Small Veterinarian office…

Extremely nervous and jumpy 75lb dog in one hand, 20lb toddler in the other. Said dog puts paws on counter while I am signing in, knocking papers and pen off counter. As I am apologizing for this indiscretion the dog begins to maniacally bark realizing there is a dog behind the desk. I drop my wallet and toddlers shoe falls off. So, I drop the dog leash (we are alone in the waiting room by the grace of God), pick up wallet, finish signing in, sit on the floor (YUCK) and attempt to place shoe on wiggly baby’s foot. While wrestling gently managing toddler’s shoe a stranger walks in who, my aforementioned large dog, immediately jumps on. Place toddler on chair, run to apologize and get dog. In those mere 30 seconds, toddler has found free dog treats and is eating one. Rush over to her take it away and give it to the undeserving dog (insert increased perspiration).

We settle and I pray the dog who is being seen is a teacup yorkie who is mellow and carried out past us without causing a scene. No such luck. The pit bull emerges and my normal weenie dog (how weenie you ask; the dog is afraid of BUBBLES) starts growling and barking like he is on some sort of doggy upper. They immediately close the door and take pit bull back, I begin yelling over the barking (and toddler crying at this point) that I will go outside. Toddler shoes fly off, keys are dropped and my wallet is now under some bench – don’t care. We leave the office walk outside and away from entrance.

Extremely kind pit bull mama emerges with apologies (I am apologizing too my dog behaved just as poorly) with toddlers shoes. We re-enter the office and are put back in the examination room. This is where toddler begins to believe she is the one getting shots and starts crying again and frantically doing the ALL DONE sign over and over. The dog also beings crying and pacing. I silently pray that this vet has kids and or a crazy dog or a beer we could share. Find a stuffed animal in the office (goodness knows where that things has been or in how many mouths? ew) and give to toddler, she quiets and snuggles the dirty stuffed animal. Vet enters; crying and barking commence- the shot is given in 5 seconds (bless you vet for your speedy efficiency) and we can leave. Toddler will not release stuffed animal; they graciously say we can keep it (although they were desperate for us to get out of there- I think they would have agreed to anything). We exit the exam room, I manage to let the dog jump on an old lady while I attempt to pay with crying toddler in hand, scramble to open door to get out and loose another stupid cute little shoe.

Get in car; take a deep breath and laugh. I realized we had been in the office for 15 minutes (not 45 like I imagined). My own personal traveling circus.