National Geographic Kids, “Hey, Baby!” Review

I received this product for free from Moms Meet (, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agree to use this product and post my honest opinion on my blog. The opinions posted are my own

Our son n really loves to learn about animals.  Wild Kratts has been his favorite show for a while now.  When we play Twenty Questions and it is his turn to come up with an answer, we do not even have to ask him whether it is an animal because it inevitably is.  Most of the time, none of us can guess his animal because it is something like the Yeti Crab!


Hey, Baby! is a new National Geographic Kids book described as “A Collection of Pictures, Poems, and Stories From Nature’s Nursery”.  The book is organized in sections: “Mountains and Plains Babies”, “River and Rain Forest Babies”, “Jungle and Savanna Babies”, “Desert and Cost Babies,” “Forest and Stream Babies”, “Tropics and Peaks Babies”, “Ice and Snow Babies”, and “Ocean and Sea Babies”.

The photographs are high quality, just as we have come to expect from National Geographic publications.  And, what is it about baby animals that make them so adorable?  This book really showcases the magnificence of so many of the animals that populate our planet.  It would be a wonderful resource for any animal lover in your life, child or adult!

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A Perfectly Sharpened Pencil. Every Time. + Giveaway!

When you have two school-aged children at home, it seems that pencils constantly need to be sharpened.  We have tried the small hand-held sharpeners, as well as an electric sharpener, but none have worked as well as this beauty:


After testing out this pencil sharpener for a few weeks, I can say that the pencil sharpeners from Classroom Friendly Supplies are quiet, stylish and functional.


This pencil sharpener is easy to operate.  There is something fun and satisfying about sharpening a pencil by hand…so much so that my kids now fight over whose turn it is to sharpen the next pencil–no joke!


Look at those points–I do not see how pencils can get any sharper!  Thank you, Classroom Friendly Supplies for supplying this pencil sharpener for review.  These pencil sharpeners would be a great Christmas present for parents, teachers and homeschoolers!

Now, you have the opportunity to win a Classroom Friendly Supplies Pencil Sharpener for yourself!  Good luck!

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Thanksgiving In Napa

I do not think that I wrote about this here before, but D’s dad passed away in July of this year.  So, this was our first year celebrating Thanksgiving without him.


This picture from 2008 is one of my favorite Thanksgiving pictures with k and her grandpa.


We met up in Napa with D’s mom, sister and brother and his family after our camping trip.  We visited grandpa’s site and placed flowers on it (still waiting for the headstone).


It might seem strange to take a family picture in a cemetery.  However, it is a beautiful place, especially with the fall foliage and it seemed appropriate.





There was a beautiful sunset that night.

We ate dinner at the Marriott.


Isn’t this a pretty fall salad?


Mahi Mahi


Porkchop was an A+!

The kids shared an adult salmon entree and a kids’ grilled cheese.  It might not have been traditional Thanksgiving food, but it was a nice dinner!


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Pre-Thanksgiving Trip to California Central Coast: Elephant Seals + Moonstone Beach

When we returned to the Hearst Castle Visitors Center, we watched the “Building The Dream” movie that is included with the tour admission price.  It was shown on a huge screen and was very well done.


After the movie we went to Sebastian’s for lunch which is located just across PCH.  Had to have the kids take a picture in front of this funny sign!



We ordered one cheeseburger and one tri-tip sandwich and fries.  This ended up being enough food for all us since D had a headache at this point and was not that hungry.


After lunch we went back to our campsite and rested for a bit.  Feeling refreshed, D was ready to go to the Elephant Seal Rookery.



Sunbathing seals!  It is always so neat to see animals in their natural habitat.



Next we went to Moonstone Beach.


These small colorful rocks were everywhere!







Next we went back to Cambria and poked around some of the cute little shops.



This is what happens when I have asked the kids to pose one too many times for pictures!


Dinner was at Main Street Grill in Cambria.  This place has the same owners as Firestone Grill in San Luis Obispo, which we had enjoyed before.  Although the food is good, with large portions, beware that it is cash only and that they charge 25 cents for bottled water.


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Pre-Thanksgiving Visit to Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle is one of those places that everyone who lives in California needs to visit once in their lifetime.  I had been multiple times, but never with D or the kids.  D’s family says he went he was a kid, but he did not remember it.


Can you see the castle on the hill?


You can buy tickets online in advance but I found their reservation fee outrageous so we waited until the day of our tour to buy tickets.  We arrived early and bought tickets for the first Grand Rooms tour of the day at 9:00 am with no problem. There is a bus that transports you up the hill to the castle while you listen to narration by Alex Trebek.


Our tour began in front of one of the guesthouses.  There were tourists in our group from multiple countries, including Australia!


Unfortunately, the famed Neptune Pool was being renovated–doh!  Apparently it was leaking 5,000 gallons of water everyday.  The tour guide said it was scheduled to be done by the end of the year, but I am pretty sure it will take longer than that!


La Casa Grande!  It was interesting to learn about the corroboration between William Randolph Hearst and his architect, Julia Morgan (a Cal grad!).


It was nice that they had already started decorating for Christmas.



Our tour guide was an amazing fount of knowledge.



The intricate detail that can be found everywhere is so amazing.



After the tour, we were free to wander the grounds.





When you are ready to leave, you go down to the indoor pool and catch a bus at what the tour guide called the “fanciest bus stop in America”.




Walking on gold!



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Our Pre-Thanksgiving Trip to Central California Coast: Cambria and San Simeon State Beach


After lunch we made a quick stop for Doc Burnstein’s ice cream at Mojo’s Village Bean in Cambria.

Then we went across the street so I could pick up a mini olallieberry pie at Linn’s.




We enjoyed this post-dinner.

Next we drove to the San Simeon State Park campground.  After setting up camp we took a short and easy walk to the beach area.





It was pretty empty, with just a few other visitors.



There were a lot of interesting rocks to look at.






And when there’s rocks near water, rock-throwing is soon to follow.






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Our Pre-Thanksgiving Trip to California Central Coast: Pismo Beach & Morro Bay

The kids and I had an entire week off for Thanksgiving.  We left for our mini-vacay on Tuesday in an attempt to avoid the holiday traffic.


Our first stop was the Pismo State Beach Butterfly Grove.



I did not have my camera that has a good zoom lens, so this is the closest I could get.  Can you see the orange monarchs?  These butterflies were not as scary as our last encounter, mostly because they were high up in the trees and we were not in an enclosed area.  It is kind of amazing how they all congregate in such a concentrated area.



I made them take a picture with the sun in their eyes.



The mobile monarch gift shop!

Our next stop was just about five minutes north off of PCH, Dinosaur Caves Park.



I was kind of puzzled by the fact that there were more seals than dinosaurs in the Dinosaur Caves Park.


Don’t ask me what this strange squatting was about.


The park has beautiful views!







OK, so there were dinosaur eggs to play in.


We stopped to eat our sandwiches that we packed from home at Morro Bay.


It was unseasonable warm, like mid-80’s.  I guess it was in the 90’s back at home.  A lot of people were getting food to go from a restaurant that had Crabby Patties on the menu-haha.


We saw some otters that were just chillin’.  Again, a zoom lens would have been handy here.  After lunch we continued our drive to Cambria and San Simeon.

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HORMEL GATHERINGS Party Trays Review + Giveaway

**I received free product in exchange for my honest review.**

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving!  We visited D’s side of the family on Thanksgiving Day (more on that trip later) and had a post-Thanksgiving dinner with my side of the family last night.  Since we had just returned from our trip to Northern California, I asked my mom if I could bring an easy appetizer to our family dinner.  Well, it does not get much easier than a HORMEL GATHERINGS Party Tray!

The Party Trays come in a few different varieties:

Hard Salami & Pepperoni Party Tray (28 oz.): HORMEL Hard Salami, HORMEL Pepperoni, Sargento Cheddar Cheese, Sargento Colby Jack Cheese, Round Crackers

Honey Ham & Turkey Party Tray (28 oz.): HORMEL Honey Ham, HORMEL Smoked Turkey, Sargento Cheddar Cheese, Sargento Colby Jack Cheese, Round Crackers

There is also a Supreme Party Tray that includes olives, if you’re a fan!


I chose to bring the salami and pepperoni tray since my kids are salami fanatics.  However, I am sure they would enjoy the ham and turkey as well!


I love how the packaging is so thoughtfully designed.  It comes in a a black plastic tray with easily removable labels so it looks classy on the table.  The tray itself has compartments for the two packages of crackers, two packages of meat and two packages of cheese so you know where everything goes.  I was able to arrange the tray at home and it all stayed in place during our car ride to my parents’ house.

The individual components were all very tasty.  The crackers were nice and crisp, the cheese was “real” (not processed cheese product), and the pepperoni and salami both had a nice spicy kick to them.  Both the kids and adults had fun making their own little cracker/cheese/meat hors d’oeuvres.

These trays are perfect for an appetizer, but they also work for game day gatherings and noshing in front of the television as we are prone to do during the holidays.

I was able to find pick up my tray at our local Target.  They can also be found at Walmart and other retailers.  Click here to locate the store nearest you.


I have one coupon to give away so you can try a HORMEL GATHERINGS Party Tray for yourself!  My tray ended up being FREE after using this coupon, but the final price depends on the variety and store that you buy it at.

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STEM Made Fun: Ozobot Evo #Ozobot #Ozosquad #Tryazon


It is kind of amazing to think about how robots are changing the way we live.  Schools are all emphasizing STEM and kids are learning how to code at an early age.  We recently had the opportunity to try out the Ozobot Evo.  My kids were able to play with this tiny robot straight out of the box.  They also downloaded the app onto their iPad and were controlling the Ozobot from the iPad without any trouble at all.  They had fun making mazes and obstacle courses with blocks and maneuvering the Ozobot through them.  I also like how you can draw your own “tracks” for the Ozobot to follow with just regular markers and it changes colors according to the color on the paper!


I always try to look for toys that are fun AND educational, and the Ozobot Evo definitely falls into that category!


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Nikkei Appreciation Day: UCLA Women’s Basketball v. Baylor

On Saturday we had free tickets to the UCLA Women’s Basketball game through k’s basketball league.  We invited my parents since my dad is a UCLA alum and an avid UCLA sports fan.


It was Nikkei Appreciation Day, so they honored a couple of pioneering Nikkei women basketball players.


The game was pretty exciting.  UCLA trailed in the beginning, then pulled ahead.  Baylor brought it back to a four point differential, but UCLA kept the lead through the end.  According to D, UCLA was ranked #8 and Baylor was #3.


k had fun sitting with her teammates.  However, they were not enthusiastic enough to make the Jumbo Tron.


One of k’s teammates participated in a half-time contest.  She did not win, but it was close, and I am not sure the other competitor completely followed the rules.


The alumni band was there.  We heard the official marching band outside practicing for the UCLA-USC football game that night.

This ended up being practically an all-day event due to horrendous traffic.  However, we were home just in time to watch the Cal v. Stanford game (us) and the UCLA v. USC game (my dad).


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