Archive for the Review Category

What I Just Finished Reading

Have you all seen this image that has been traveling and floating around Facebook?

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Well, it’s true. I’m sorry, mostly.

 

I honestly didn’t know anything about the whole polar vortex business. I heard something on TV in passing, but I was totally not paying attention.

 

While the majority of the country (and northern hemisphere) are cold and snuggling under blankets, we are having a random heat wave. I actually wore shorts today, weird.

 

I did grow up in New England, so I know what I am missing out on in the winter. Shoveling, dusting and warming cars …. those are the parts I don’t miss. Sipping hot apple cider, or hot cocoa, and snuggling under blankets, I kinda miss that, a little. There is one thing that we all still can have in common, we can read. Yup, cold winter time indoors, is the perfect time to read. I have no idea what my excuse is, but I have been reading a bunch lately.

 

I thought that I would let you know. So if fantasy, or young adult fiction falls into your reading scope of interest, then check out the series I just finished. (Sort of)
Mortal Instruments Series (Amazon affiliate Link)

 

The series is currently incomplete. The last book The City of Heavenly Fire is not out yet, but it comes out May 27th! I am dying to know what happens!! Last week I watched The City of Bones movie, since there were no more books in the series to read, and it was meh. They didn’t really stick to the story line and they changed it enough to make me wonder how the second movie will work out, and remain about the same series. Even saying that, I will still watch a second movie. I know that production of the second movie was delayed, and they were working more directly with the book author, so it could be amazing or paused permanently. Only time will tell.

 

Anyway, the books are great, a little action, and little adventure, and little awkward teenage coming of age business, and of course some love and drama.

From Amazon about City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, Book 1) (affiliate link)

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder—much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing—not even a smear of blood—to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…

Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare’s ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.

Go read these books let me know your thoughts along the way, I would love it! P.S. I am so not getting paid to write this, I would if I could because I really enjoyed these book. If you happen know Cassandra Clare send her my email, okay?

 

While I wait for the next book, I think I’ll start on the prequel The Infernal Devices (Also Amazon affiliate link).

 

What are you reading right now?

Legoland!!!

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On Saturday we went to Legoland!!

 

When you are packing for Legoland, pack sunglasses, for everyone. cc

 

None of us had ever been. I had never heard of Legoland until I moved to California. It is close to us, less than an hour drive.

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We received hopper tickets, to check the place out, in hopes that I would give an honest review.

 

I was excited to check out the Sea Life aquarium. I love aquariums. Before kids, S and I, took a few trips that were based on visiting aquariums.

PicsArt_1383446618568Cuties waiting to get in and check out the aquarium.

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Well lets just say that the aquarium did not disappoint.

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There was lot’s for the kids to do and see.

PicsArt_1383446971392Buttons, buttons, everywhere.

 

We could have even spent the whole afternoon just in the aquarium.

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Finally we moved on to the Legoland park itself.

 

I took so many photos, we had such a great time, I don’t even know which ones to share with you.

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The fist thing we did was, ride a roller coaster. It was K1’s first time! We’re in the third car back, she looks so tiny.

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The kids even went on a ride together, alone, without mommy and daddy. They enjoyed it.

 

I was happy to find this download on the Legoland website that listed everything you can do when your two.  It was extra helpful considering K2 is not quite two yet. He wasn’t able to go on very many rides, so we tried to stick to the list as much as possible.

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I loved that Prince Charming has a cell phone, also made of Legos, and it’s an iPhone. We saw him while floating down Fairy Tail Brook.

 

We spent a good amount of time in Duplo Village. It was great for both kids.

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Most people aren’t this happy to be locked up.

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Mini Land USA was great to walk through and look at. There are buttons here and there that the kids can press, which kept them interested and entertained.

 

Daddy and K1 also drove a remote control boat there. That was a fun new experience. K1 had no idea what she was doing, at least not yet.

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I don’t believe that this is a year round exhibit, but we had to see Star Wars. There are too many Star Wars fans in our life to pass this up. Forgive me, because I am not one of those Star Wars buffs, and I’m about to say something wrong. That plane thing, yea I just said that, was cool. The back lite up and made noises like it was taking off.

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Somewhere in Castle Hill they had this cool playground. Climbing and sliding, perfect for both of my kids (even though it is intended for kids ages 5-12)

 

Note to mom’s. Do not go down any of the slides in here, with your cell phone in your back pocket. Why, you might ask? Because it will fall out and you will lose it. Not that it happened to me or anything.

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We wrapped up the day at Pirate Shores with a water ride. Daddy and K1 needed some ride time together. This ride could be why we are all still sick today, but it was fun.

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Arrrg!!

 

I had kind of written off Legoland. I don’t know why, but it never called to me. Recently I figured it might be good for the kids to check out. Everything I had heard about it was that it is designed for small kids. After visiting Legoland, and having a great time, I was wrong. I felt there was something there for everyone, and now I want memberships for us!

 

They offer activities through their Model Mom club on Thursday mornings that my kids would both enjoy.

 

Although seriously K2 needs to sprout up 2.5″ before we go again, and next time I wanna stay in the Lego Hotel. It looks like so much fun!

Costumes, costumes, costumes

If you read Friday’s post you saw a little sneak peek.

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I received a cute, pink and black, cat ballerina costume, that arrived in our home late October 30th. It was sent in hopes that I would complete an honest review.

 

Naturally around Halloween, things like dress up and costumes come to mind. There are many sites with costumes out there, and it is truly hard to decide where to order from.

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Fright Catalog happens to have a great selection of costumes. They can cover all your dress-up needs.

They even have that Santa Clause costume your going to wish you had, in just a few short months.

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Now I have to admit the name “Fright Catalog” didn’t  exactly scream cute to me, but I checked it out anyway. Their selections are not limited to creepy, and scary. They have cute and cuddly too. I also found that they had a larger selection of costumes than the other sites I viewed first.

 

Look at her! She is not at all creepy or scary. Too cute if you ask me, but she’s mine.

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We were pirates for Halloween, which you already saw, but when this beauty came K1 just had to put it on and wear it. When I ordered this I intended for her to use it for her Halloween costume. She wanted to be a kitty. Fortunately Fright Catalog’s customer service is on top of things and they let me know when this item was on back order. I wasn’t bothered the costume was arriving later than planned because this girl loves dress up. I knew we could add to our fun box of clothes for her. I was able to get another costume together for her in time for a Halloween party.

 

It turns out this year she got to be a pirate, AND a kitty. (Don’t go requesting two costumes for one year in the future little lady)

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The kitty costume included everything pictured except the leggings, shoes, and face paint.

 

I was happy to find that I was not surprised by what was NOT included. I hate when that happens. When you were so sure you got everything you needed for your costume, and SURPRISE, you didn’t! Everything included with each costume was very clearly listed on their website, and easy to understand.

 

If you find yourself in need of a costume, St. Patrick’s day , themed birthday parties, I dunno, Renaissance fair, they’ve got you covered. Feel free to check Fright Catalog out.

 

What were your kids for Halloween? Did you pick the costume or did your children?

 

Do You Know 511

As you might remember I went back to work part time more than a month ago. Two weeks ago I started working 4 AM to 7.

 

Wednesday last week while driving home my front driver tire blew out. It happened where two highways merge. Translation, no shoulder. I pulled off to the right, but I was sitting next to an exit only lane, on a curve. Not the best place to change a tire (if I even wanted to do that).

 

Sitting in my car considering freaking out I decide to call my neighbor. Why my neighbor? Because in September after an unfortunate incident with daddy’s phone and the pool S decided to turn his phone off. To save money.

 

My generous neighbor got dressed and went to wake up S.

 

While I was waiting for something to happen I decide to brave the highway and get my jack and spare ready. You can imagine my frustration when I only found 50 % of my jack. No way to pump it up, and no way to get the lug nuts off. Yay!

 

It was at this point, climbing into my passenger seat, that I noticed all the rush hour traffic on the other side of the highway. It would have taken S over an hour to pack up kids before breakfast, collect a jack, sit in traffic, only to get off the highway and come back the other way.

 

Cue commercial from my childhood. For real I remember these commercials playing often. A young couple, maybe 18, trying to change a tire on a highway off ramp and an 18 wheeler flys by. The kid gets back in and moves further down the highway. Playing in the background is an older sounding male voice saying, “risk your rim, not your life.”

 

I decide that is what I will do. A Short distance ahead I find a section of highway that is designed for servicing the overhead signs. Yay new highway!

 

After hunting through the trunk for a second time I am certain that I can not change my tire without another jack. I am considering the chances of a passerby stopping and having a jack, when there is a voice behind me.

 

I turn to find a man in a yellow vest telling me that he noticed I have a flat. He asked if I had a spare and I went on explaining about my jack. He informed me that, he has tools, and he is a free service. I got lucky, he saw me from the other side of the highway as he was heading to an accident (the real reason for the traffic on the other side of the highway).

 

I learned that San Diego has a Freeway Service Patrol. It is Sponsored by Cal Trans, CHP, and SANDAG. They patrol several of San Diego Freeways during busy times and they do things like change a tire, deliver a gallon of gas, jumpstart your car, and fill your radiator with water. The guy was a full service tow truck, so they might offer additional services at a cost, I am not sure.

 

I do know that you can call 511 and say Roadside Assistance to get their help. Had I known that I would have called, I’m sure help would have arrived at the same time, but I would have been a bit more relaxed. If you call after their roadside assistance hours they offer other options, so your not just stuck. Here is their website for more info.

 

This is in no way a sponsored post. I have lived in San Diego for 5 years and I didn’t know about this. Actually I never even heard of such a thing. I figured that it might do someone else a bit of good. It might even be possible that there is such a thing in your area, might be worth checking.

 

Have any crazy break down stories you wanna share? 

Oma’s Pumpkin Patch

And a tradition continues ….

005The first year at Oma’s. Daddy didn’t join this time. I didn’t know how much fun it would be, and really K1 might have just gotten hurt. She wasn’t ready for all the excitement just yet.

life 123Year two.

Not sure 115Year three.

Oma's 087And this year, year four. Yes K1 wore the same overall skirt for three years in a row. No she will not be wearing it next year. I’ll be on the look out for something new.

 

The kids love it here. Daddy does too.

Oma's 075Family favorite, cottonseed hill. The last three years this is where we have spent most of our time at Oma’s. Before the day is done there are at least two visits to this hill.

 

This year K1 tried “snowboarding” on it.

Oma's 009The hill of trucks. I tried to avoid this until after the hay ride. Mostly because of K2’s love of all things cars and trucks. I figured we would never leave this spot.

Oma's 012Oh yea, there are animals scattered here and there. You see a dairy farm in action on the hay ride, which is actually my least favorite part. Cows, chickens, llamas, goats …. there is even a petting zoo set up.

Oma's 026Hunks on a hayride.

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There is a huge open soccer field, with various things to do. Bouncy horses to ride, soccer balls, footballs. The first two years there was a disc golf basket, so naturally daddy loved it. I don’t remember seeing it the last two years.

Oma's 055But they added in these bad boys, so all is forgiven on the disc golf front.

 

She’s practicing her princess wave.

Oma's 058I didn’t actually realize that this was a family tradition for us until this year. But the kids have lot’s of fun, and we only go once a year. I love that it is cheaper than some of the indoor play places, and we can make a whole day of it.

 

Plus we get the hay ride, a bottle of water, and a small pumpkin to go home with too. Totally worth the money.

 

I know that they do something similar for Christmas trees, but while I wanted to go last year, I just never made it happen.

 

If you haven’t done so already go enter my giveaway for a $25 Visa Gift Card!

 

PS … this is not a sponsored post, in case you were curious. I spend my own money to go here every year. We just love it so I thought I would share for those in, around, or visiting San Diego.

Don’t Pay Full Price For Textbooks

Good afternoon readers and college students everywhere!

 

If you are a long time reader of this blog then you know that last spring I decided to go to college and begin taking classes. I was really surprised to discover that at a city or community college level the tuition costs are realistically affordable.

 

After signing up for classes I quickly discovered that books are not! I was shocked to find out that books were more expensive than my tuition costs. That is why I am excited to work with our sponsor today and share some great information with you!

campusbooks

First, if you don’t already know, there are great savings renting book through Campus Book Rentals.

 

You can;

-save 40-90% off of bookstore prices
-free shipping both ways
-highlight in the textbooks (just like you own it!)
-flexible renting periods and 21 day Risk-free returns (great for mistake orders or dropped class)
-They donate to Operation Smile with each textbook rented
-They have the largest selection in the nation

Visit their website for more even more perks.

 

But this, this excites me the most;

This is such an awesome idea!

 

At the end of the last semester I went to the campus bookstore to return my rental book. At the same time I attempted to sell back the other two books I bought for class. I left with the books in hand. One of them they weren’t buying, and the second book they offered me $2 for. Only two dollars! I decided that at $2 it might be a helpful reference later.

 

Now with the option to rent my book to other students, I am glad that I kept it. Basically you can make more renting your books to other students than selling back at the end of the semester. It’s worth it, go check out Campus Book Rentals new program at RentBack.com.

RentBack 
Your Books…

Get 2-4X as much Cash.

You can search to see how valuable a book is right on the site. There is no guessing game, or shipping and waiting.

 

If you needed one more reason to choose Campus Book Rentals for your next textbook, they donate to Operation Smile with each textbook rented.

 

What is Operation Smile?

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Operation Smile, considers themselves more than a charity. “They provide safe, effective reconstructive surgery and related medical care for children born with facial deformities such as cleft lip and cleft palate.” (image and info source)

 

Facts about facial deformities in young children:

  • Every three minutes a child is born with a cleft
  • One in 10 of those children will die before their first birthday
  • Children who survive are often unable to eat, speak, socialize or smile

 

I love that there is so much great going on at Campus Book Rentals. Saving money, making money, and giving back. I’m glad I heard about them. I’ll be checking them out next semester, and keeping my book to sell!

Twas The Night Before Christmas

Everyone knows that famous poem, turned book. Lot’s of family’s read it to their children every year.

 

Are they listening to exactly what they are saying? What unintentional message could they be sending their children?

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I was raised in a non smoking home. My children are raised in a non smoking home. I have nothing against other people smoking. Except of course when they are filling my kids room with cigarette smoke, then I get cranky. I have friends who smoke, but they naturally don’t do it around my kids. Other than when K1 first came home from NICU I never felt I had to ask anyone to change their shirt or go somewhere else. They just did it of their own accord.

 

So on the daily I don’t think about it. I don’t worry about strangers walking by, because playgrounds and public buildings are all non smoking, so it never comes up.  My astute three year old daughter has never even seemed to notice.

 

When I was contacted about a version of Twas the Night Before Christmas, that was non smoking, “edited by Santa for the 21st century,” I was a bit surprised. Surprised because initially I couldn’t remember their being any smoking in the story. My curiosity piqued I checked it out online and promptly agreed to review the book. I mostly agreed, because I was curious how the story was changed. Was it worthy of our Christmas book rotation?

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In short this book  is very worthy of our Christmas book list. The images are bright, and colorful, with an appropriate number of words per page. I think this Santa, and artwork are very cute. They kind of make or break the story. The book is described as staying true to Clememt C. Moore’s portrayal of Christmas Eve and it does. I was concerned that the changes to the story would affect the flow or feeling, but that is not at all the case.

 

Basically, in the version Santa kicked the habit,  so he’s not sucking on a pipe with a wreath of smoke around his head. Which is great.

 

I said I’m not against smoking, and I’m not, but everyone knows it’s not exactly great for you. So I don’t need to normalize it by having my kids childhood idols doing it either. Honestly if this never came around, I might would have gotten an old faithful version for our home and never thought twice about it. I am glad this is available.

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What Amazon has to say about this book;

Gold Medal Winner 2012 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award Best Holiday Book. 1st place winner for the Global International Best Christian Children’s Book. This colorful and bright edition was created for young readers in mind. Attracting global media attention, The BBC, The View, The Colbert Report, New York Post, Huffington Post and many others for what the Kirkus Review calls a legitimate editing of the reference to the pipe and wreath of smoke for the first time in the history of this the most famous poem in the English language. This is the edition that is credited with having Santa stop smoking after 189 years and for taking a small bite out of history. The public health sector, parents, educators and grandparents have applauded and welcomed the addition of this child friendly edition. Printed on FSC certified paper from Wisconsin USA with vegetable ink dyes in hardcover, English, Spanish and French.

 

If you have decided you need to add this book to your collection, feel free to “dash away” here, Twas The Night Before Christmas: Edited by Santa Claus for the Benefit of Children of the 21st Century or keep your eyes peeled for it at your local book store.

 

For more info check out the web, Facebook, or Twitter.

 

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