Book Review: There’s A Bully In My Brain

Over the last few years, I’ve had an increased amount of anxiety. I’ve used praying, quoting Bible verses, deep breathing, limiting my TV watching, and journaling to help me overcome my anxiety. The combination of those tactics has helped me manage my anxiety. It has also helped me have more empathy towards people who have heightened anxiety and need to seek medical/professional help. There is NO SHAME in needing professional help! If you need to seek medical or professional help for anxiety, please do so. Getting medical or professional help for anxiety is not just an act of self care, it is an act of courage.

I’m excited to share a brand new book available TODAY, There’s A Bully In My Brain by Kristin O’Rourke. There’s A Bully In My Brain provides support for children with anxiety. Written by Kristin O’Rourke who is a licensed clinical social worker, There’s A Bully In My Brain helps children identify the cause of anxiety and provides tangible solutions for how to work through when a child feels anxious. I really liked this book because it helps kids understand what they are feeling. It also provides parents/teachers with options to direct children for ways to manage their anxiety in a healthy manner. Sometimes, feeling anxious and worried can be very scary for a child; they don’t understand why they feel the things they do and that can be very overwhelming. With There’s A Bully In My Brain, kids will feel empowered to understand and clearly communicate what they feeling to an adult.

In There’s A Bully In My Brain, children are taught that the negative thoughts induced by anxiety are actually bully tactics. Written in in first person, children learn what the Bully tells thems and how to navigate those feeling of anxiety. With tactics like counseling, deep breathes and directly addressing those feelings, children learn how to overcome anxiety.

The illustrations are animated and work really well to differentiate for a kid between an anxious child and the bully (anxiety). Kids will be able to easily identify with the illustrations in There’s A Bully In My Brain. The illustrations are a lighthearted way to discuss a heavy topic like anxiety.

I think adults (parents and teachers) will find There’s A Bully In My Brain a wonderful tool to use to talk to kids about feeling anxious and how to overcome it. For a child who doesn’t understand what they are feeling, having a resource like There’s A Bully In My Brain and a safe adult to process with is a powerful combination.

You can follow author Kristin O’Rourke on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You can also check out her website.

*This post does contain affiliate links. This is at no cost to you, my readers, but it does help support my blog. Thank you!*

Author Interview: MT Hamilton

Several weeks ago, while scrolling through Facebook, I saw a post from a friend about a new book called, Dads Are Mighty, Dads are Strong by MT Hamilton. We love books with monsters, and this one had such bright colored monsters as the main characters, I knew it would be a hit. I’m excited to share my interview with author MT Hamilton today. Enjoy it! You can get Dads Are Mighty, Dads Are Strong by going here.

1. What/Who inspired you to write your book, Dad’s Are Mighty, Dads Are Strong?

MT: My son Caleb had a very difficult time staying asleep the first year of his life, every night every 2 hours he would wake up. Knowing from my experience with his older sister that the time would go fast, I loved/hated these moments. Loved because it was another chance to cuddle my little one. Hated because who want to live like this? It’s like your a crack addict or something. One night the words just popped in my head, “Dads are mighty, Dads are strong, Dads can go all night long.” Sound familiar? This was the genesis of the book and I took 3.5 years to make it what it was today. Originally, the lines were random with random illustrations, but I realized I needed to tie everything together with a stronger story. So, I began writing the story that would only be told through the illustrations. It was challenging to keep it kid friendly and not make the dad look like an idiot for getting too close to the train tracks. My goal of the book is to tell the story of every dad’s true identity. It is not who you are but who you are meant to be. It is all about the journey to get into alignment with your true self. Many books only point out how dads like to do silly things and break the rules that mom sets. I wrote the book as a well rounded perspective on who a dad is. Not only do they love playing, but they provide and protect no matter if they are a stay at home dad or a nine to fiver.

2. I loved that you used “monsters” as the main characters. Is there a reason why you chose monsters for your book?

MT: Originally, I illustrated the book with my white mug as the main character. I wasn’t planning on doing a book just having fun. I love digital painting. When I realized it was becoming something more, I started thinking about how the book can connect with any dad no matter who they are. I didn’t want to be political just relevant. I felt bears and animals were overdone. I love playing “monster” with my kids so I felt that was a great fit. Now, no matter if you are white, black or blue with polka dots, readers can more easily relate to the characters. Even for multicultural families, the kids are different colors than the dad.

3. What was your favorite book as a kid?

MT: remember my mom reading my brother and I “Swiss Family Robinson” and I loved that. The idea of living outside and beating the elements. Can you tell I love backpacking and the outdoors too?

4. What book are you reading now?

MT: Oh goodness, I’m reading several books right now. For fun, I just finished the “Ancillary Justice” series that won several awards. Very entertaining and extremely well written. For personal growth, I am reading “Hero”, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, and a book on relationships.

5. What’s the best thing to you about being a dad?

MT: Just my kids. Loving them and spending time with them. I don’t understand how so many dads are not intrinsically motivated to play with their kids. I love helping them become who they are meant to be and not giving a hoot if they don’t measure up. So many parents get obsessed with their kids being an assignment they have to pass. We have to give our kids room to fail that is what helps them become who they are meant to be.

6. How can kids who may come from a family where a dad isn’t present gain from your book?

MT: I think the book is a great model to aim for, so if dad is way out of alignment with who is meant to be, the book is an encouragement. Dads are mighty and dads are strong, but dads aren’t perfect and sadly sometimes good. You can’t control other’s actions but you can control reaction. So, you look towards model of what a dad should be for your future.

7. Do you have another book in the works?

MT: Haha, I always get asked that. I’m a product manager at a Fortune Top 10 company and one of the methods we practice is called agile/LEAN development. The idea is to not worry about creating perfection but to iterate your way to building a great offering. With each cycle, you are testing your customers feedback and changing accordingly. That’s why I decided to publish my book on-demand. As I receive feedback, I can update the book and add content. So, “Dads are Mighty, Dads are Strong” becomes a living growing thing. Right now, I’m working on a page set from catching fireflies with the kids. The lines go, “When night rolls in, Dads love hugs, and catching some lightning bugs.” I will update the book with this illustration sometime in 2017.

Dads Are Mighty, Dads Are Strong is now available! Grab your copy today! You can also check out the MightyDads Website!

*This post does contain affiliate links. This is at no cost to you, my readers, but it does help support my blog. Thank you!*

Book Review: Charlie and the Trust Tree

I graduated from college with a degree in Communication. As a parent, clear communication between my children and me is a top priority. Of course, we have miscommunications, and we have to reconcile, but the drive for clear communication is constant. I want my kids to know that they can talk to me about anything. And that, I will listen to what they have to say.

Charlie and the Trust Tree by Ashton Sumners is written by a teenage young lady. Charlie and the Trust Tree is about a child, Charlie, who uses her “trust tree” as a way to signal to her parents she needs to to talk to them if something is on her mind or bothering her. I love how Charlie’s parents are always available and eager to listen to their daughter. They encourage Charlie to overcome fears and be brave.

The entire premise of Charlie and the Trust Tree encourages kids to follow the example of the main character, Charlie. This is a great way to initiate conversation between parents and children, or even teachers and students. Using Charlie and the Trust Tree, adults will find a effective way to encourage kids to talk about what’s on the child’s mind. I could see this being a great conversation initiative for children who are shy, nervous, or anxious. But, it could also be perfect for kids who are outgoing, but unsure how to effectively communicate.

I also love that Charlie and the Trust Tree was written by a teenager. I tell you what, young people are taking this world by storm. Ashton Sumners is a great example of this. I really admire that Ashton took a a pretty mature topic (learning to clearly communicate) and wrote a book to encourage and teach kids how to communicate.

The illustrations are so cute. I appreciated how each page spread shows Charlie wrestling through difficult scenarios, but how each scenario provides Charlie (and readers!) a chance to grow and learn. Good communication captures a kid and relays incredible lessons.

You can get Charlie and the Trust Tree here. You can also find the website to have coloring pages!!

*This post does contain affiliate links. This is at no cost to my readers, but it does help support my blog. Thank you!*

Our Day At Walt Disney World

Last week, we had the privilege of going to Walt Disney World because of the kindness of Walt Disney World. We were given two adult park-hopper tickets by Walt Disney World. We did purchase our kids’ park hopper tickets. We LOVED spending our day at Walt Disney World!!! We have been to Walt Disney World before; our oldest two were under the age of two when we went, so they don’t really remember it. This trip, however, they will probably always remember as their “first” trip to the Most Magical Place on Earth. You can read about how we prepared for our trip to Walt Disney World here.

We started the day at Magic Kingdom waiting at the castle for Mickey Mouse to officially open Walt Disney World for the day. We concluded the day at Hollywood Studios watching the Star Wars Fireworks Show. We clocked in 13 hours at the Walt Disney World Parks and we estimated we walked 10 miles, but we had the best time. In fact, our kids have already started talking about our next trip to Walt Disney World! I don’t blame them – it’s such a fun place!

Magic Kingdom 

Seeing the princesses was a top priority for us. My daughter is obsessed with the Disney Princesses. She loves ALL the princesses. Being able to introduce her to 6(!!!) princesses was well worth it.

We also saw Alice in Wonderland. My daughter told Alice, “We’ve read the book you were in.” Alice was impressed by this.

Riding the Buzz Light Year ride: We were able to ride this ride as a family. We love Toy Story, so we LOVED riding this ride.
Riding the Teacups: I’m not sure who was more excited about this ride – me or my daughter! This was another ride we rode as a family and we had the best time.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Ride: my oldest and my husband rode several roller coasters while we met with princesses.

Pecos Bill – for lunch, we ate at Pecos Bill. Our kids enjoyed macaroni and cheese with an applesauce pouch and carrots. I enjoyed the fajita bowl and my husband had nachos. We loved the air conditioning!

Animal Kingdom:

Pandora/Avatar Boat Ride: Even though the wait was FOREVER, this new Pandora Section of Animal Kingdom was well worth the wait. The entire new Pandora area is amazing. I seriously felt like I was IN the Avatar movie scenes.

My husband and son rode Expedition Everest while my youngest two and I walked around Animal Kingdom in search of Dole Whip. We found Dole Whip and found a back corner in the Tamu Tamu Restaurant outdoor seating.

This alcove gave us space for my youngest to nap, my phone to charge and it gave my daughter and I an opportunity to share that delicious Dole Whip. My husband surprised me and bought us an Elephant Ear Pastry to share. There was enough for us to divide that one pastry between ALL FIVE of us! It was so good.

Hollywood Studios

In our search for our daughter to see all the princesses, we decided heading to Hollywood Studios to see the Frozen Sing-a-long Celebration performance would be worth it. Spoiler: IT WAS TOTALLY WORTH IT. This performance was 35 minutes long. It was a great way for families to enjoy the coolness of air conditioning. But, if you have a kid who was strong on the Frozen bandwagon, this is something you can’t miss!

Mickey Mouse Ice Cream Bars was our dinner. I know, I know, not healthy. but it was an iconic treat and SO YUMMY. Word to the wise: it is messy, so eat it armed with a LOT of napkins!

Tower of Terror: My husband and son rode this ride together. I am still so impressed with my son’s love for roller coasters. He is fearless and loved every single second of every ride. I think we have an adrenaline junkie on our hands.

Every single Cast Member we spoke to at Hollywood Studios urged us not to miss the Fantasmic performance. It’s held at the outdoor amphitheater in Hollywood Studios. This incredible performance had a wide, wide cast of characters. This performance used pyrotechnics and water and it was breathtaking.

We also stayed for the Star Wars fireworks at Hollywood Studios. I love the picture of my son having a light saber battle with a total stranger. Just shows that the magic of Disney brings out the kid in all of us! Two of our kids slept through the entire thing! I couldn’t believe they slept through it! Watching those fireworks was definitely a perfect way to end such a fun packed day.

We can’t wait to go back to Walt Disney World. It’s always such a blast and each visit gives us new and precious memories as a family. I especially love going to Walt Disney World because my kids get SO excited about seeing their favorite movie/TV show characters in real life.  I love that Walt Disney said, “I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.” Don’t worry, Walt, Mickey Mouse is leading the way to make sure kids and families have a wonderful, wonderful time.

Interview with Cookbook Author Kathy Strahs

While at the BlogHer conference last week, I had the honor of meeting and interviewing cookbook author Kathy Strahs. Kathy is food blogger turned three time cookbook author. Her cookbooks include, The Lemonade Stand, She is the founder of Burnt Cheese Press.

At the BlogHer conference, Kathy shared about her newest cookbook, The Lemonade Stand. Kathy said the inspiration for The Lemonade Stand came from watching her kids and neighbors put together a neighborhood lemonade stand. As the kids were making lemonade, creating signs, and advertising, Kathy realized this would be a great idea for a cookbook. The Lemonade Stand cookbook’s recipes is kid tested and parent approved. “After, all,” Kathy added. “The good has to taste good since the parents are the customers.” As a parent of an entrepreneurial kid, I can definitely appreciate that Kathy not only considered what would be easy for the kids to make, but what the adults would love to eat as well.

The Lemonade Stand is divided into three sections: Setting Up Your Stand, Recipes and Crafts. This takes The Lemonade Stand from a “just” a cookbook, to a way to an all inclusive, family activity book. This is perfect for ages 6-12 years of age.

Since The Lemonade Stand is Kathy’s third cookbook, Kathy shared the premise behind her other cookbooks as well. Kathy said, “The first one, The Ultimate Panini Press was a reflection of my cooking blog, Panini Happy. The second one, The 8×8 Cookbook, was a reflection of our family lifestyle. The third one, The Lemonade Stand, is a cookbook for my kids.”

Kathy has an MBA and I asked her, “Were you a kid with an entrepreneurial drive?” Kathy replied, “I wouldn’t say I was an entrepreneur, as much as I was a maker. I took sewing classes, did calligraphy, took sewing classes, and was an avid knitter.”

When asked how she started cooking, Kathy said that she started blogging as a new mom. “I started a cooking blog as a mom with a newborn. We had to eat, and I needed something to do, so a cooking blog solved both of those things.” Soon her blog morphed into Kathy becoming a cookbook author and business owner.

As a child, however, Kathy remembers her mom searching out the best chocolate chip cookie recipe. To this day, “If someone says, ‘I have the best cookie recipe or this place has the best chocolate chip cookie!’” Kathy grins. “I have to try it.” What her favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe right now? “Well, The Lemonade Stand cookbook recipe is my favorite for making it the day of. You don’t have to chill this recipe!”

One of my favorite questions to ask is, “What was your favorite book to read as a child?”. Kathy says her favorite is the, “Betsy Series by Carolyn Howard. It was a favorite of my mom’s when she was a child and I loved reading them too. Of course, the Ramona series, All-Of-Kind-Family and the Babysitter’s Club were also series I loved. My mom always encouraged us to be readers.”

So, what Kathy reading now? “Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, all because of the HBO series!”

As a child, who did Kathy look up to as a business inspiration? “Probably Michael J. Fox in my favorite childhood movie, ‘Secrets of My Success’. That was my goal as a child, to be in that corporate world.”

At the BlogHer conference, Kathy was the moderator for the panel session, “The Good, the Bad & the Ugly of Cookbook Publishing”. As a moderator, Kathy was responsible for leading the discussion and coming up with the questions. (You can check out the Twitter notes by searching the hashtag: #cookbooksPubBH.)

As we wrapped up our interview, Kathy passed me her business card, I noticed she had a Julia Childs quote on her business card. Kathy told me, “I love Julia Childs because she didn’t start her TV show until she was in her 50s. This is something I tell college kids, “It’s never too late!”’.

That’s good advice for us all.

You can get Kathy’s books by going to Burnt Cheese Press. You can also follow Burnt Cheese Press on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Our Legoland Day!

Last week, we had the pleasure of spending a full day at Legoland Florida. We were graciously given tickets by Legoland. You can read my blog post about the ways we prepared for our visit by going here.

My husband and I spent a lot of time of time planning out our visit. We decided we wanted to try to go to every area of the park during our visit. We were pleasantly surprised that we almost reached our goal (thunderstorms prevented us from going to the Waterpark).

The park is typically open from 10am to 7pm. We arrived at 9:30 am which gave us time to take pictures in front of the park, but still get a great spot in line for when the park opened. We soon found that at any place in Legoland where there was a line, there was also a huge bucket of legos for the kids.

Here are a couple of our favorite highlights from our trip. Although, truly, we loved every second.

The Carasousel: This double-decker carasousel was incredible! Each of the horses looked like Lego figurines and it was a great first ride stop for our family.

Ford Driving School : my son LOVED participating in the Ford Driving School. Afterwards, he was given a “driver’s license”. He proudly carried that around the entire park.

Ninjago: the newest section of Legoland Florida is Ninjago. This Ninja themed section is based off the popular Lego TV Show, Ninjago. In the themed park Ninjago, kids can climb a rock well, attempt to “defeat lightening”, balance, and the entire family can ride the 3D interactive ride. The Ninjago ride ended up being our favorite whole family ride.

Duplo Valley: This amazing toddler area has a splash pad, covered age-appropriate play set, as well as several great rides. My toddler loved the rides in Duplo Valley so much, we rode them several times! They also had a wonderful baby-toddler area. It was indoors. It had an incredible indoor play area, places for parents to sit, and a private baby center that included space for nursing moms.

Lego builders displays: Throughout the park, Legoland had incredible works of art made entirely out of legos. This was probably the most expected part of the trip, but each display defied expectations. With dinosaurs, dragons, the Daytona 500 and Las Vegas built out of legos, you couldn’t help but stop and admire. The hours the Lego Builders Group spend making these displays is truly impressive.

Pirates’ Cove performance: My pirate-loving son insisted that we go to the Pirates’ Cove performance. I’m so glad we made it a priority! It was a water performance that was fun and interactive for kids. We were SO impressed by the skills and performance of the Pirates’ Cove performers. The main character, Salty, greeted guests at the entrance of Legoland when the park opened. I think kids loved seeing a character (Salty) reemerge from the start of the day.

Imagination Zone: When the thunderstorm brought a downpour of rain, we headed to the Imagination Zone. The building contained SO MANY FUN ways to encourage kids to build and create with Legos. There was a section for racing cars. My son loved building his car and then racing it against the other kids. My daughter loved building a platform and then watching it “fly” through the air. There was a spot with duplo blocks that was interactive and we discovered our toddler especially LOVES building with Legos. (We bought him a box of Legos while there!)

For lunch, we enjoyed hamburgers and fries at the Lego City Burger Kitchen .The outdoor picnic areas were well covered, so we loved eating outside. Not to mention, Legoland had two resident cats that my kids loved feeding!

For a mid-afternoon snack, we stopped by the Firehouse Ice Cream shop to cool off. SO good! We tried the ice cream and the Coca-Cola ice cream floats. Both were so delicious.

At Legoland, the employees are called, “Model Citizens”. Every Model Citizen we met was truly a model citizen. They were kind, friendly, fun, interacted with the kids, and very helpful. At Pirates’ Cove, the Pirate’s Cove Performers and Model Citizens answered all my kids questions and allowed my kids (and the other children there too!) to spray them with water. At the Train at Duplo Area for Toddlers, the Model Citizen had my son laughing with his silly dance. At Tractor ride at the Duplo Area for Toddlers, the Model Citizen made sure every seat on the ride was dry after the rain had stopped. At the Imagination Zone, I watched Model Citizens pick up legos off the floor time and time again. No grumbling! Truly, at every turn, we were met with amazing examples of “Model Citizens” at Legoland.

We loved spending the day at Legoland. We had a blast riding rides, explores the different world and embracing such a day of fun. Thank you, Legoland for giving us such a wonderful, wonderful day.

Book Review: I Can Be

As a parent, I frequently tell my kids, “You can be anything you want to be!”. In telling them that,  I want them to feel like they can reach for the stars and be a world changer.

In I Can Be by Felicia Lee and illustrated by Bryan Tagalogon, kids will be able to explore all the roles they could be. This book is full of various roles and careers; from astronaut to painter. Each job is demonstrated in I Can Be with children as the stars. I hate to give away potential spoilers, but I especially loved the ending of I Can Be. In the end, I Can Be tells kids HOW to be whatever they want. This is important because it shows not only the possibility of what a kid can be, but I Can Be also tells kids exactly how to do that with good grades, and a positive attitude. I love that I Can Be ends this way. It creates such conversation with kids on how to succeed.

I loved how each job highlighted is with great diversity of the characters. Children of all skin colors, hair colors, and abilities are shown and represented in the different jobs listed in I Can Be. I mean, we are talking about a female president, a teacher in a wheelchair, a painter with braces, and a weather reporter wearing a head covering similar to a hijab.

The illustrations in I Can Be are amazing; bright colors decorate each page. The roles are illustrated with such clarity. The characters are very expressive and enchanting.

My kids really loved reading this book. We talked about the different jobs shown in I Can Be. My kids have big ideas of what they want to be and why too (like a construction worker, a teacher, a musician and a police officer), so they loved seeing the jobs demonstrated.

If you are looking for an incredible book with a positive message, and great diversity, grab I Can Be. It would be a perfect book to use in a story time session at school or at the library. But it is also a great book to read to kids at home too. It’s the type of book that can inspire kids to dream big and aim for the stars while showing kids that anything is possible.

Be sure to follow author Felicia Lee on Facebook.

*Contains affiliate links. This does not cost my readers, but it does help support my blog.*

Book Review: Sophie G. Wanderlin One of A Kind

When I was a child, my dad talked to my brothers, sisters, and me about “outdoing one another in kindness”. The idea was to always look for opportunities to out due one another in acts of kindness. It worked. I remember, whether driven by competition or genuine goodwill towards each other, we always looked for opportunities to be the kindest one.

As a parent, we teach our kids that being kind and looking for opportunities to share and be kind with each other. This looks differently depending on what the situation is, but sometimes it’s sharing a cookie, or holding the door for someone, or showing compassion when someone is hurt.

When Author PJ Jackson sent me her book, Sophie G. Wanderlin: One of A Kind, she mentioned she was sending me a package. While I was expecting only the book, PJ outdid herself and absolutely delighted my kids with such a fun package! She sent us rainbow colored socks of me entire family. She included coloring pages, stickers, “Adventures in Kindness” collective pins. My kids were SO excited by this book package. There were SO MANY goodies in the package. We had a great time trying on the socks and spent an entire after wearing our socks around the house.

In Sophie G. Wanderlin: One of A Kind, we meet Sophie, a vivacious little girl and her pet cat, Bob. Sophie has bright red hair and she wears rainbow colored socks, Sophie has “BIG IDEAS”. These “BIG IDEAS” make a difference and share kindness with others. Sophie approaches implementing her “BIG IDEAS” as adventures in kindness. There are so many adventures in kindness, but in particular, Sophie provides meals for the homeless, shares with her classmates, and makes friends with a girl who is lonely.

I love how the entire attitude of Sophie G. Wanderlin is so cheerful and eager to help. Readers cannot help but feel inspired to come up with their own adventures in kindness.

Using a cartoon mode of illustrating, you will love seeing Sophie’s thought process and how she readily consults her cat, Bob when contemplating her next adventure in kindness. (Bob doesn’t have much to say, but he is a good listener to Sophie’s ideas.) I loved how the bright colors throughout the book mimic the colors seen in Sophie’s rainbow socks.

Sophie G. Wanderlin:One of A Kind does an amazing job of inspiring kids (and adults!) to make kindness a wonderful and fun adventure. By the end of the book. Kids will be coming up with their own adventure in kindness to carry out. Parents and Teachers will love the positive message. This would be a great book to read as a family or in a classroom!

You can find PJ Jackson on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

*This blog contains affiliate links. This is at no cost to you, but it does help support my bog. Thank you!*

Screen-Free Traveling With Kids

It may surprise you to know that even though we have three kids under 5 years of age, we take our road trips screen-free. We’ve been doing this for years. It always surprises me when I see people looking for portable DVD players for road trips. I’m not criticizing people who do use screens to travel; it’s just a reminder that we do things differently. I thought I would share what we do to travel screen-free. Maybe it will encourage you to try out a screen-free trip too!

When we travel, I make sure we have lots of things to keep them occupied. We pack bags of books, coloring books, and their favorite toys (dolls and cars work great for our crew). This helps with keeping them entertained as we travel down the road.

Here are our tips:

1. Each child brings 2-3 toys. My boys are really into the Cars 3 characters, so we have a collection of matchbox cars. My daughter carries her favorite blanket and a few of her favorite items (usually a princess crown and a doll).

2. We bring LOTS of books. The books are usually themed to the trip we are taking. If we are headed to the beach, I pack up all our beach themed books for us to take.

From Left to Right:

– Paddle-to-the-Sea

– 1,2,3…By the Sea (this is an Usborne Books & More book)

Max and His Big Imagination at the Beach (see my book review)

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles

– If You Ever Want To Bring A Piano to the Beach, DON’T!

– Under the Sea (this is an Usborne Books & More book)

– The Seashore Book

– Llama, Llama Sand and Sun

Seashore Life (see my book review)


3. Coloring books and crayons. The coloring books vary; I usually grab a few from the Target Dollar Section or from the Dollar Tree, but this time I had the cat coloring books, so I knew those would be a hit with my animal-loving kids.

4. Audiobooks. Of course, we always travel with audiobooks. I always grab 2-3 new audiobooks to listen too. You can find out the audiobooks we’ve loved by clicking here and here. My husband likes to keep radio going by switching between the news, sports and music, so I choose audiobooks that are less than 3 hours in length. This ensures that we can finish the books on the trips! It also means if we listen an hour at a time, we still make progress.

We do travel with snacks like granola bars, apples, animal crackers and fruit snacks. That helps to keep our kids occupied during our trip.

Once we have rotated through the books, audiobooks, coloring books, snacks and toys, my kids love to sing along to the music on the radio, or point out traffic issues to my husband. Gotta love a vehicle full of backseat drivers!

I won’t lie to you, there are numerous potty breaks and occasionally, a screaming child who is tired of being confined to a car seat, but overall, we have a great time. We’ve found traveling screen-free to be a great way to really enjoy the trip as a family.

I would love to know; what screen-free activities do you incorporate into your family road trips? Share below!

*This Post contains affiliate links. This does not cost my readers, but does help support my blog! Thank you!*

Book Review: Bella Boo and Bloomer Fen

If you ever meet my daughter, you will encounter a little girl who loves to dance. Even when she walks, there is a rhythmic movement to her walk. She can’t help it. She loves to dance. I love that she does this! It makes life so fun! In fact, My daughter’s dancing moves are just one of the many ways she makes life extra magical.

In Bella Boo and Bloomer Fen by Sebastian Hockaday, readers are introduced to a lonely little girl named Bella Boo. Bella Boo lives in a cottage in the middle of a beautiful garden. Like my daughter, Bella Boo loves to dance. When Bella Boo dances, she pretends her shoes are magical. One day, she meets a little tree man named Bloomer Fen. Bloomer Fen is desperate to dance like Bella. Initially, we see Bloomer Flen attempting to take Bella Boo’s magical shoes. When he is caught, can Bella Boo and Bloomer Fen work out their differences and be friends?

As much as I loved the story, I especially liked that there was tension between the two characters in Bella Boo and Bloomer Fen. That creates such good opportunities to talk to kids about the importance of working out differences and resolving issues kindly.

My daughter liked that Bella Boo and Bloomer Fen was about a dancing girl. She told me, “That’s a good book, Mom!”. Stamp of approval!

I loved the illustrations in Bella Boo and Bloomer Fen. The entire story was placed outside in the garden and woods. The illustrations of the garden and woods are so lovely. You can’t help but pause and take in the flowers, butterflies, grass, trees. There is such detail in the illustrations that it makes the scenes of Bella Boo and Bloomer Fen book come alive.

This was such a great book. Be sure to grab it for your kids.

*This post contains affiliate links. This is at NO cost to my readers, but it does help support my blog. THANK YOU!*