Smithsonian National Zoo Trip!


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.


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.


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!


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!

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