The Baked Bear

On Saturday we went to the Baked Bear, which was on my summer bucket list, and it was a fun and yummy trip! For those who live in the Montgomery County area in Maryland, this one is located in Rockville/Bethesda on Rose Ave. The whole center where it’s located is really nice, and new- ish, if I’m not mistaking. The Baked Bear is a custom ice cream sandwich shop, and I looooove ice cream sandwiches lol I didn’t go crazy because I shared mine with Gio, but next time I go I’m definitely going all out!! That child eats anything sweet, so I don’t really know why I shied away from yummy options.

My order was a sprinkle cookie, a m&m cookie, vanilla ice cream, and sprinkles! I’m not huge on sprinkles but I felt like I had to get them lol I forgot to ask to get the cookies warmed up which I’m really upset about because that would have made my sandwich 100x more delicious!

I get overwhelmed sometimes ordering food but this was like a Chipotle type of setup so seeing everything laid out was nice .

Everything in the shop is freshly made and homemade, and you can definitely tell! The shop isn’t big, but there really isn’t a need for it to be. There’s a “beach” (really just a decent size sand area) right outside and tons of seating! Plus, with this summer weather, it’s perfect to have your ice cream outdoors!

Below I’ll insert and image of their site where they shared images of what people have gotten, and you’ll see what I mean about crazy and creative! This is definitely a fun stop to make in the summer. Even if it’s just once! My total was $6.30 which wasn’t too bad- I really thought I’d spend a minimum of $10. Of course the more you add to your ice cream, the more expensive.

If you have one near by, definitely try and make the trip! You won’t regret it! Thanks for reading! -Aura xoxo

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Smithsonian National Zoo Trip!

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Yesterday we went on a adventure and were ‘explorers’ at the Smithsonian National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute in Washington D.C. We knew the day would be hot, but not as hot as the past few weeks, so on Saturday we just decided that we’d make a trip to the zoo on Sunday.  It was Gio’s first time to the zoo- he loved it! & I think Erwin and I enjoyed it as much or more than Gio, lol.

We considered driving to the zoo, but I’m soooo happy we took the Metro Rail instead! The trip was only about half an hour, it only cost us $16, it was so nice to not worry about parking because when we got there the traffic was CRAZY and there were no open spots anywhere, and for those who do not know, Gio LOVES trains so he was so excited, but really tired, like you can see in the pictures- so it was two new experiences for him yesterday.

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We saw the animals on the Asia Trail which consisted of the pandas, cheetahs, and elephants. We walked through the American Trail which had an elephant outpost, bald eagles, a kids farm, seals, sea lions, and an andean bear. Then, my personal favorite and I think Erwin’s too, was the lower zoo which has the great apes, horses, a reptile center, lions, and TIGERS!

Not all, but almost all, the animals grabbed Gio’s attention. He’s been learning about animals and all the sounds they make, so we knew it was time to take him to the zoo. He knew almost all the ones we saw, but couldn’t watch them for long periods of time. He just wanted to see the animal and then keep moving, lol. We all really enjoyed the tiger because it was walking around, standing up, and got into the water- so we were fascinated. There were some animals that were tough for Gio to see so he’d just give up looking for them which kinda sucks because he missed out on some cool ones like the lions and zebras. Regardless, he had a good time! It got us talking about taking him to the aquarium because he loves sea creatures, but thats a pricey trip lol.

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We found a little water area for the kids by the sea lions! It was like a mini splash park. To Gio it was a ‘pool’. It was a good way to end our trip. He was starting to get fussy from the heat so it was a great way to cool down before our walk back to the metro.

A trip to the zoo is definitely something you have to be ready for mentally and physically with kids, haha. Luckily, Gio was good almost the whole trip. He had small moments where I’m sure all the heat and walking around got to him, but they wouldn’t last. We took his stroller and had him in it when we walked to different exhibits, but once we got to one he’d get out and walk around to look at the animals.

In our bag we took lunch, a lunch box that had ice packs in it to help keep our water cool, a phone charger, and our sunscreen. Gio’s bag consisted of diapers, wipes, extra set of clothes, different snacks, his sunscreen, and bug repellent spray and bracelets that I highly recommend!

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Overall, we had a good time and are happy we got to create this memory with and for Gio. He probably won’t really remember, but we’ll get to tell him all about the trip and most likely take him again!

The staff was/is also great. We learned about a couple animals, how they’re endangered, what we can do to help, how they’re helping, and how the changes in the world is putting a risk on many animals that we all really love. The link below is the zoo’s support page to see how you can help and donate!

https://nationalzoo.si.edu/support

Thank you for reading! xoxo- Aura

It’s A Block Party!

Today Gio and I went to a Block Party in the plaza by Erwin’s job. It wasn’t anything huge, but it was so much fun!

They had a Bingo game- you’d get your bingo cards and go to the different merchants on your card and get a stamp. Then once it’s all filled up, you’d go back to the Bingo table and spin a wheel for a prize. I regret not doing it, lol.

There was also a moon bounce, an arts and craft table, and best of all, train rides! Gio LOVES trains so when he saw the train going around the parking lot he was ecstatic. We went on it about three times. We probably could have gone on more times, but we wanted to make sure that all the other kids got to go on too.

After our last ride we walked around the plaza stopping by different merchants. We went to Hallmarks table, which is where Gio got his Dory and Nemo clippers. He’s obsessed with them. He was so happy and wouldn’t stop saying thank you after I paid (they were $1!!). We walked by other stores where he collected lollipops, tattoos, and got a cupcake and popcorn.

It was a great way to spend the afternoon. The best part? Everything was FREE, unless you decided to purchase some items from the stores. I’m always in the hunt for different events in the area or areas near by. At the start of every month I search my Facebook or type in my county’s name and family events in the Google search bar. I almost always find something for each month, and right now that it’s summer there’s so much going on!

Thank you for reading! – Aura xoxo

Reading With A Toddler

Ever since I was little, I’ve loved reading. Whether it’s a magazine, an article, a book- I love reading. So of course when I got pregnant one of my big hopes was that Gio would really enjoy books, and so far he does!

I’ve been reading to Gio ever since he was an infant and I started taking him to story time at the library when he was around 3 months. When he was smaller Gio enjoyed basically any book, but once he started showing interests towards specific things he also started being picky about what books I read to him.

Right now Gio is very into vehicles, sharks, some shows on Nick Jr., Finding Dory, and Shrek. So when it comes to picking out his books we’re usually on the hunt for ones that include one of those topics or characters. He’s also been enjoying numbers and the alphabet, which is a huge plus, so books that include either is good, too.

Below are tips on how to get your child to enjoy storytime/reading:

  • Start reading to your kids when they’re newborns. Studies have been done showing that reading to your kids since newborns boosts their brain power, building stronger vocabulary and mathematical skills. Reading to them since newborns and making it a part of your regular routine will help make it a good habit and help them look forward towards reading, seeing it as something to enjoy.
  • Choose colorful books. Toddlers won’t be too interested in staring at books that are just black and white
  • Choose picture books. The images help them imagine and understand better what you’re reading
  • Depending on their age and patience level, limit the amount of wording. My two year old likes it when things are cut to the chase. If one page consists of 3 paragraphs he’ll only get through one and want to move on. Just because it doesn’t have many words, it doesn’t mean they aren’t learning anything either.
  • Choose books that include their favorite characters or things they are into at the moment. They make the book so much more entertaining and exciting to the child, and it doesn’t mean they’re not educational either! For example: my toddler was very into Paw Patrol for a while so we found a few books of the Paw Patrol at the library, and one was about opposites and the other about colors. What better way to learn than with your favorite characters?!
  • Visit the library at least once a week or every other week. Taking your little ones to the library can be a bit challenging, especially if they runaway from you, but letting them pick out their books gives them a sense of independence, and many times there’s activities going on too.
  • Show them that you also enjoy reading. Be excited when it’s reading time. Race to the couch, jump of excitement, etc.
  • When you’re reading, change your tone depending on the characters or characters emotions. Not only does it make it fun for them, but it also helps them understand emotions and the differences between characters.
  • Read the book and then watch the movie! This probably goes more for kids a little older, but it works. You’ll be surprised how they spot the differences between both, like what was left out or what might have been added. Afterwards, you can ask them which they found better or if they would have done something differently.
  • Read your own books in front of them. It shows kids that it really is something everyone can enjoy, not something you’re forced to do.

One thing I do with Gio is read the same book for about a week or more. I do this with Gio because he gets very into one book so I let him enjoy it, but I also do it because I’ve come to notice that Gio has a really good memory. He pays really close attention when I read, so he remembers when certain things will happen in specific pages. He’ll remember a few words, sounds, or emotions. Reading to him the same book over and over he learns more and more about it, and now he will let me read the book two or three times, and then he tries his best to read to me.

I read to Gio a lot of the Step into Reading books because they have a lot of his favorite characters and interests like: Blaze and the Monster Machines, Dory, Thomas the Tank Engine, sharks, vechiles, etc. I like Step into Reading because they have levels depending on your childs understanding and reading levels, they’re simple, they teach them educational things like opposites, but they also teach things like not giving up.

We have been expanding our collection in books, though. Our recent finds, which are classic books were The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper which teaches kids that with a positive attitude you can succeed, and The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfizer which teaches kids friendship. They are great reads with great lessons, and if your little ones are into trains or fish, they’ll love it!

I hope this helps you and your little ones get into reading or keep enjoying it!- xoxo Aura

Science Day At Home

On Wednesday I had a science day at home. It was really humid out and my weather app claimed it was going to rain (it didn’t until night time lol) so I decided to have a science day with the boys, and it was fun!

Our first experiment of the day was to make slime. You can’t have a science day and not make slime. Ya know? I used to make slime that involved so many ingredients, but recently came across one that’s so much simpler and it’s the following:

  • 6oz Elmer’s glue: I’ve only ever used Elmer’s glue- just because I’ve read it’s the best quality, and any cheaper quality can effect the quality of your slime. I get either the plain white or glitter ones
  • 1 1/2 TBSP contact solution (if the slime is still too sticky, add a little more solution): make sure it has boric acid listed in its ingredients
  • 1/2 TBSP baking soda
  • water: this is optional, and you can add up to 1/2 a cup, but I’d add it in by little bits. water helps make your slime stretchier
  • food coloring: if you use the plain white glue. a few drops goes a long way
  • glitter: also if you use plain white glue or want extra glittery slime

The kids ALWAYS enjoy making slime. It doesn’t matter how many times we make it, it’s always a hit. We’ve made it in all kinds of colors, too. Plus, playing with the slime after is always fun too.

Once we were done with that and cleaned up everything we used for the slime, we took out a science kit we’ve had for a while by the brand EduScience. We bought the Extreme Science Kit by EduScience from Toys R Us, and chose that particular one because we felt that it had a good mix of experiments- making volcanos, making water jelly crystals, to making bubbles, etc. We did the first two experiments in the manual which were about acid-base bubbles and having them change colors.

I loved watching the kids with the kit because they each helped assemble it, they read instructions, but were also learning at the same time. The first experiments we did each consisted of red cabbage powder, baking soda, and citric acid. Before we would do anything, they would hypothesize what would happen and then test the hypothesis. The best part is that in the manual, each experiment explains what happens and why it happens! The boys were having so much fun, they don’t even realize they were learning at the same time. I definitely recommend this kit or any other science kits. Since Toys R Us is closing, I don’t think much of these science kits are left there, but I’ve seen them on Amazon and eBay!!

Another fun experiment we did was what we call the Cola Explosion, lol. We bought a 2 liter Coca-Cola (my favorite drink) and Mentos. I’m sure you all know this experiment- you put a roll of Mentos into the Coca-Cola and then the soda “explodes”. This experiment was more so “funny” to the kids, but they definitely enjoyed it and enjoyed eating the Mentos leftover, ha.

Science days are definitely so much fun and the kids learn without even noticing it! With school being out and kids having more time on their hands, it’s definitely worth a try to have some science fun. Our next science day is going to be to make a rocket fly using baking soda and vinegar. I’m definitely looking forward to it!

Guatemala’s Volcanic Eruption: what happened and ideas on how to help!

Advisory: pictures in this post are not mine and can be disturbing to some so please be cautious.

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Image from:https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/05/americas/guatemala-volcano-eruption-fuego/index.html

On Sunday Guatemala’s active volcano and one of the most active in Central America, Fuego, erupted sending ash and smoke over six miles into the sky and lava pouring down, dusting several regions, erasing hillside communities, making thousands of people evacuate their homes, and killing many that did not have the time to flee from the ash, rock, and gas spewing from the volcano. As I’m writing this, I’m also finding out that there has been another eruption today. This volcano is located 27 miles from the country’s capital.

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Image from: https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/05/americas/guatemala-volcano-eruption-fuego/index.html

The death toll from this tragedy has risen to 72, but is expected to increase since many, many people have not been found and accounted for. Also, according to CONRED it is said that at least 1.7 million people have been affected by the eruption, and many areas are covered in ash- the villages hit the hardest were El Rodeo and San Miguel Los Lotes; yet, with this new eruption the areas hit the most were El Jute and Las Lajas.

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Image from:https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2018/06/03/guatemala-volcano-least-7-dead-20-injured/668036002/

According to volcanologists the danger isn’t over. They state that there could be more eruptions, example: today’s eruption. They are also saying that if heavy rain were to fall on the slopes on Fuego that it could cause detrimental mudslides carrying ash, boulders, and debris, or could even become acid rain.

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Image from: http://www.facebook.com/notijutiapa

Above is an image of six kids that tried to escape from the volcanos doing in a room, but unfortunately did not make it and passed asphyxiated.

People have lost everything. Everything they’ve ever had, everything they’ve ever owned, and some have even lost everyone they’ve ever loved.

Many families still can’t find their loved ones and those who do have their family now need help providing for them. Police men, doctors, fire fighters, searchers, volunteers, etc., are all doing the best they can but need our help, too.

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Image from:https://abcnews.go.com/International/65-die-guatemalas-volcano-fire/story?id=55629372

Why is this so important to me? For those who don’t know, this hits hard because my whole family is Guatemalan and so is Erwin’s. We were both born here, but I was raised to know my roots and Erwin actually lived in Guatemala for 10 years. Hearing about his natural disaster and all those mourning is difficult and I want to bring awareness to our country, our people in need.

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Image from:https://www.yahoo.com/gma/least-25-reportedly-die-guatemala-volcano-fire-eruption-114903734–abc-news-topstories.html

Ways to help!: 

  • A family member of mine has set up a GoFund me page that I have linked below. If you cannot donate, we understand, but please help us bring awareness and share the link please! https://www.gofundme.com/guatemalan-relief-help
  • The Red Cross: currently on ground led by CruzRojaGT. They are accepting money via money transfers, and are also in need of blood donations and goods such as: latex gloves, diapers, soap.
  • The God Childs Project: they’ve launched a relief effort and are accepting donations via online or mail.
  • Raise awareness via social media using hashtags such as #PrayforGuatemala, #GuatemalaEstoyContigo, #GuatemalaStrong
  • Donate goods, clothes, food, animal food, baby items to churches, people, places acting to help Guatemala.
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Image from:https://www.yahoo.com/gma/least-25-reportedly-die-guatemala-volcano-fire-eruption-114903734–abc-news-topstories.html Luis Soto/AP

Along with every pictures is the link to their articles. I am no expert on volcanos and so much is going on in our country that I didn’t want to write too much and have incorrect or confusing information. So please read these articles that will help further understand the devastation and need in Guatemala!

Thank you for reading!- Aura xoxo

National Air and Space Museum Trip

Today we took Gio to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. He loved it!! He was so mesmerized when we walked in and saw all the airplanes, helicopters, rockets, etc. Gio is very into trains, cars, trucks, helicopters, airplanes, and after this trip I’m sure a love for rockets has bloomed- so this museum was perfect for his first!!

Erwin and I weren’t really able to read much, or at all, any of this history behind the many models that are at the museum, but we were still very much all entertained looking around and watching the videos available.

I’m pretty positive that Gio’s favorite part of the whole trip was in the How Things Fly exhibit where he got to sit in a aircraft. Unfortunately he only go to sit in it for a short period of time, but his face lit up when he got in with Erwin. This part of the museum is perfect to kids- its very hands on and fun while teaching so much like how airplanes work. Best part? They can touch all they want!

I think my favorite part of the trip, besides seeing Gio’s eyes light up of excitement, was seeing how it all started, the first models of planes to todays models. I don’t plan on this being our only trip there, so hopefully in the future we will be able to go back and read and learn more!

Thank you fore reading! -Aura xoxo