Saturday, October 24, 2015

Fun with Munchkin: Roger Williams Park Zoo

I have decided to add a new post to my list of things that could happen on the weekends.  As part of my resolutions for 2015, I wanted to do more fun things with Munchkin and as a family.  I will be posting sporadically about some of the fun adventures we are having together.
While my parents were here back in September, they wanted to do something fun with Munchkin (and me and Hubby too).  When asked what he wanted to do, Munchkin said he wanted to go to the zoo. We have been to Southwicks Zoo earlier this year, so we wanted to try one of the other (4 believe it or not) zoos in the area.  So we went to the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence.
There were a lot of animals there that I had never seen before or even heard of, so that was fun and impressive.
This Bald Eagle was beautiful and out in the open, I kind of miss seeing them in the wild back home (even though it was terrifying when they would fly over your car from some road kill).

Munchkin got a little curious about this strange bird (Crested Crane)

The Elephants were so Big!

The Giraffes are still his favorite animal at the zoo!

This little monkey was obsessed with Munchkin, he came right over and watch him carefully and then followed us as we walked around the exhibit (we think it was Mickey's shiny shorts and shoes).

The river otters were so much fun, always swimming and playing and were really interactive with kids.

Oh My Goodness! I have always thought Red Pandas were cute, until now that I have seen them in person and they are way beyond cute! I could have watched this little guy all day but Munchkin was unimpressed.

They have this really cool interactive farm center for kids, they have a farm petting zoo type thing, a fake cow to milk, fake chicken eggs to collect and fake veggies to plant, pick and set up on a farm stand, and of course a big orange tractor they can climb on. Thank goodness we have been careful to teach Munchkin about taking turns otherwise we would have had a real fight on our hands to get him off.
There was even more to see but with nap time in the middle of the afternoon, we just didn't have time to see it all. We will definitely be making another trip next summer!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Bedtime Story: Sixteen Runaway Pumpkins by Dianne Ochiltree

Read for: Children's Book Challenge & for the Season
Synopsis: "Hooray!It's harvest time in the pumpkin patch....

"Whoosh" -- there they go!

Can Sam catch sixteen hill-rolling, ditch-jumping, stump-bumping, runaway pumpkins?

Come along on Sam's pumpkin-counting adventure...and find out!"

My Review: This is a fun book for the fall pumpkin picking season. Munchkin was really excited to see the pumpkins. I did think that this would be a little more of a counting book, but it really wasn't, though there was some math and even multiplication. Munchkin did have fun with the end since he just got to make pumpkin pie at preschool.
My Rating: Even though it wasn't quite the counting book that I had hoped (especially since Munchkin is really getting close to counting to 20), Munchkin still enjoyed this book. We give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Beginning Reader Review of The Best Chef in Second Grade by Katharine Kenah

Read for: Early Reader Challenge
Synopsis: "Ollie is not the best at anything in second grade, but he does love to cook. So when he learns that the famous Chef Antonia will visit Room 75, he can't wait! However, everyone has to bring in their family's favorite dish--and Ollie has no Family Favorite. His little sister doesn't like anything! Will he lose his chance to finally be the best in the class?

A delicious blend of warmth and humor, this is a delightful story about doing what you love most."

My Review: This is an excellent level 2 books, the sentences and paragraphs are getting more complicated and short chapters are introduced too. Some of the words might be a little difficult for pronouncing but most should be able to be read. It is a fun story that will also prompt some post reading or during reading discussions. I really think Munchkin is going to enjoy this one when he reaches this reading level.
My Rating: This was definitely a great book and a big boost to young readers' confidences with seeing chapters and paragraphs. I give it a rating of Four Paws.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Pen to Paper: Pen Pal Kits

So did you get to the post office and stock up on stamps before the busy holiday season? I did and I am so excited about all my new stamps. I got the From Me To You stamps that are just perfect for pen pals, I also got some more post card and international stamps. Last but not least I snagged some Christmas stamps, I was so excited to find out they have the new Charlie Brown Christmas stamps (you definitely need to check them out).
So hopefully you have found a new pen pal as we have been discussing throughout the month.  If you have a friend or family member who is considering it or that you hope to keep in touch with, I have a little idea for you. Send someone who you want to be pen pals with a Pen Pal Kit.
image from Pinterest
These little kits are a fun way to kick off your new pen pal relationship. I have actually made it a point to make one of these kits for each of my cousins when they graduate high school to take with them to college. You can personalize the kit for your new pen pal but some of the things that should be included:
~ Stamps
~ Envelopes
~ Notecards and/or Stationary
~ Pen or pencil
~A handy container to keep it all in
Some other things you might include:
~Greeting Cards (I like to include a Father's Day card and Mother's day card for my cousins for them to send home)
~Stamps and Ink for decorating
~Washi Tape
~ A mini address book (make sure to put your address in there)
This handy little kit contains everything a new pen pal should need and then they are maybe more likely to write letters with it all together.  You may even want to make a similar pen pal to go kit for yourself to take with you.
Your Mission for the Week: Write a letter! Yup just write a letter, be it short or long, to a new friend or old. Just get some mail out and get used to writing regularly.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Review of A Highlander of Her Own by Melissa Mayhue

Read for: Mount TBR & Series Challenge
Synopsis: "TEXAS, PRESENT DAY. Ellie Denton's world has spiraled out of control. A strange new birthmark, animals talking to her, and her mother's ex-husband laying claim to the family ranch have her thinking life can't get more complicated. But Ellie doesn't know the birthmark's connection to her Faerie ancestors. Complicated takes on a whole new meaning with her innocent wish to find her true love.

SCOTLAND, 1304. Caden MacAlister has more trouble than he can handle. With his brother held for ransom and the laird missing, the last thing he needs is another problem. But the Fae have other plans. A mysterious woman shows up in his stables, sent by Faerie Magic to find her true love. Fighting his attraction, Caden insists she's meant for one of his brothers. With his history, he has no desire for a woman in his life -- especially a woman sent by the Fae.

Only the magic of the Fae can determine whether Ellie will find a Highlander of her own..."

My Review: I am so glad I did continue this series, even with the lull in the previous book. I absolutely enjoyed the storyline and the characters in this one. We did get to revisit the MacAlister/ MacKeirnan families so at least most of the characters are familiar from the previous books. I really loved Ellie, she was so spunky, stubborn and she didn't magically adjust to the time period change which was refreshing. It was a little weird again how half the series storyline and characters were not even mentioned in the majority of this book. The series really has a back and forth cycle to the books and it is a good thing to read them close together to keep things fresh in your mind.
My Rating: This series is definitely back on track, I have fallen back in love with it after a little bit of an awkward book 3.  The characters definitely make this series. I give it a rating of Four Paws!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Review of The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas

Read for: Series Challenge & Mount TBR
Synopsis: "Contains all five novellas.

Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan's most feared assassin. As part of the Assassin's Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. In these action-packed novellas - together in one edition for the first time - Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn's orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery. Will Celaena ever be truly free? Explore the dark underworld of this kick-ass heroine to find out."

My Review: I did enjoy this novella, it was good to read the stories that are often referred to in the series as flashbacks. While I still dislike Celaena a lot and find her personality to be completely forced, I found the adventures to be better than at least the first book. I would also suggest holding off reading this book at least until after the 2nd book. I absolutely loved Sam though and can understand while he is still almost a character in the other books even though he was long since gone. It is a good collection of stories to give some background into many of the characters in the series. It also gives a little more of a glimpse of Celaena actually doing what she is supposed to do as an assassin.
My Rating: I think I finally discovered why I am not a fan of this series, Celaena's personality is the problem. I don't mind her being vain or overly arrogant, it is that it is a false and forced personality flaw by the author. Through the storyline and writing again and again these personality traits that are constantly repeated are proven false. I was glad to finally discover that through this book and was happy for more action but it still just isn't up to par for me. I give it a rating of Three Paws.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Dewey's Fall 2015 Readathon Wrap-Up

It turned out to be a very good readathon this time around, even with Munchkin hanging around and Hubby part of the time too.
You can see my original signup post HERE
End of Event Meme
  1. Which hour was most daunting for you? I really struggled with the hours 15-16. I was exhausted from the night before (Munchkin was having awful nightmares) and so wanted to read more but had to throw the towel in.
  2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? I read a lot of short stories this year, I really enjoyed the short Christmas ones and it was fun to have the Children's Audio book too.
  3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? I didn't participate so much this year except in the reading so I don't have any suggestions
  4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? Again I wasn't around much this year so I didn't see much.
  5. How many books did you read? 19
  6. What were the names of the books you read? Dec the Holls, Her Christmas Bonus, It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, Otis and the Scarecrow, House at Pooh Corner (audio), Snowball Soup, Bunnicula, Rikki Tikki Tavi, Message in a Bauble, The Little Light, A Christmas Jar for Santa, In the Clear, Sixteen Runaway Pumkins, How to Read a Story, The Gingerbread Man, When Will it Snow, A Dog Named Christmas, and a little bit of The Help and Highlander's Destiny
  7. Which book did you enjoy most? I really enjoyed re-reading Bunnicula and Rikki Tikki Tavi, I also enjoyed A Dog Named Christmas, and the audio books were great.
  8. Which did you enjoy least? I struggled with In the Clear and wasn't a fan of When Will it Snow.
  9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?
  10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? Absolutely, I am not sure if I will focus so much on the reading or try to be more social, I guess it will depend on the mood I am in and how my schedule works out.
So let's check on my goals:

1. Read/listen for 10+ hours - Check: I think all added up I read about 13 hours
2. Finish 13 books - Check: I ended up starting and finishing 17 books
3. Read at least 700 pages - Check: I ended up reading 998 pages plus 3:30 hours listening
4. Update regularly on Twitter - Eh, I did update but not as regularly as I would have liked.
5. Post updates here every 6-8 hours - Again eh, I managed one update and had another planned but felt myself fading so wanted to read as long as I could.
6. Read and have fun, of course!  - Check: I did have a lot of fun with both the books and Munchkin getting involved. He woke in the morning saying "It's Momma's Reading Day." and then he asked "can it be my reading day too?" I think the obsession has begun!
All in all it was a wonderful readathon and I am so happy that Munchkin is getting into it too now. Though it still would be nice to get the day to myself. For everything that was going on, it was still a great day!

Monday Reading List

Its Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Shelia at Book Journey. Share what books you have finished in the last week, are currently reading and what might be coming up next!

Reviews Posted Last Week:
Links will take you to my review
Soul of a Highlander by Melissa Mayhue
Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
Hard as Steel by Laura Kaye (After Dark)
Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andraea (Bedtime Story)
An Age of License by Lucy Knisley (Graphic Novel)
 Books Finished Last Week:
Reviews will be posted at a later date

Assassin's Blade = 3pts
Highlander of Her Own = 5pts
Bunnicula = 5pts
A Dog Named Christmas = 3pts
When Will it Snow = 1pt
The Gingerbread Man = 1pt
Her Christmas Bonus = 3pts
Dec the Holls = 3pts
In the Clear = 3pts
Message in a Bauble = 3pts
Little Light = 3pts
Christmas Jar for Santa = 3pts
Picturing Christmas = 3pts
Rikki Tikki Tavi = 3pts
Snowball Soup = 1pt
How to Read a Story = 1pt
16 Runaway Pumpkins = 1pt
House at Pooh Corner = 3pts
Otis and the Scarecrow = 1pt

Currently Reading:

The Help by Kathryn Stockett - Audio - 68%

 Books to be Read Soon:

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas - Mount TBR/ Series Challenge


Total Points Earned
28 points + 49 points earned = 77 Points

Pages Read/ Time Listened
47,910 pages read (2,302 read this week)
165:30 listening time (3:14 listened this week)

Books Added to Shelves

Interesting Tidbits on the Web:



It was a little nuts last week trying to get back into the swing of things in the office and at home after being away but I did manage to get everything caught up in time to participate in the readathon! Boy, it was amazing how much reading I got done with a little planning and a little encouragement. Munchkin was a pretty good boy throughout the day, he went out and had some fun with Hubby for a little while, read with me, and the had some alone play time too. I will have a full update later today about how my readathon went. 

In other news, it is going to be another hectic couple of weeks around here. I am going in on Thursday for some minor surgery, but supposedly it will take me a week or two to recover. So I am frantically trying to coordinate care for Munchkin, get work ahead of schedule and get my house prepared. I am hoping that after the first few days that I will at least be up to reading a bunch and then after that hopefully in a few more days be able to get back up and about. But have no fear, I have been working hard to make sure I have plenty going on here and am keeping up with my letters too.

Hope you all had a great weekend (and readathon if you participated) and have a wonderful week!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Bucket List: Celebrate Friendship

So a while ago I started my bucket list (and started a Pinterest Board for it). On that bucket list were several things to do with my best friend.  This year we just happened to be celebrating our 30th anniversary as best friends.  We wanted to do something special to celebrate this friendship that has lasted through so many years and over so many miles. She decided to come out here (because it is easier for her to get away than it is for me with Munchkin) and we planned a week long getaway.
We started out with one item on my Bucket List (and something she enjoys doing to mark big events in her life). It took a little while and some searching online to find exactly what we wanted, something connecting us and a quote about our friendship, especially how we have kept it strong living so far apart.  We settled on the stick figure girls using the old tin can phones and found the perfect quote from Winnie the Pooh: "It seemed they had always been, and would always be, friends. Time could change much, but not that."  We hadn't really decided who would get it on their left shoulder and right shoulder but just picked spontaneously at the shop. Upon looking back over some old pictures at the end of our trip we discovered in a vast majority of our pictures together I am on her left and she is on my right. Our choice of shoulders was perfect!
We then set out on a road trip, our only destination was to see the fall foliage  
throughout Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. 

We drove north through Boston and the tip of New Hampshire, right into Maine. Had lunch with a view in Kittery, Maine. Over the next 4 days we drove all over through Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and even western Massachusetts. We would stop at the end of each day and pick where we wanted to end up the next evening and find some scenic routes to drive and sites to visit along the way. Other than moving across the country, this was by far the most spontaneous thing I have ever done and I couldn't have imagined doing it with any one else. We had so much fun driving through those quaint little New England towns, seeing the beautiful vistas, randomly stopping on the side of the road whenever we spotted a little bookstore open, and just enjoying yet another adventure together!

A Sign that made us stop and so glad we did! I found a first edition (American) Bambi, and a couple other vintage books and fantasy books I had never scene and she found two beautiful vintage, illustrated Shakespeare plays. This book store was just south of Norway, Maine and the guy running it was the nicest man and fellow book lover.
The covered bridges were beautiful and scattered everywhere.
This one was built in 1841 near Glen, New Hampshire. You couldn't drive over it but they had a shop built inside and you could walk through it.
And this one was built in 1844, and still in use, located in Stowe, Vermont.
We ate at some fun local diners and had some very delicious food.
And of course we played tourist, especially in Vermont! We stopped at Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream factory, Cabot Cheese Factory, Braggs Maple Sugary, and Cold Hollow Cider Mill.
All in all it was an amazing vacation, and a wonderful time with my best friend. We celebrated not only the past 30 years of friendship but also many more to come.