Category Archives: reviews

10 Things I Learned During an Evening with Bill Bryson

1. I can make Bill Bryson laugh!

Bill Bryson Rollins College book signing

No, that doesn’t count. To be honest, I simply cannot recall what witty quip I must have whipped out to cause the celebrated travel, science, and historical writer to chuckle, but I have the picture to prove I said something good.

During Notes from All Over: An Evening with Bill Bryson, the writer entertained the crowds with his renowned brand of cerebral yet homespun humor. Before a packed house at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, Bryson spun tales about his life between readings from some of his well known works, sparking alternating bouts of laughter and applause. I’ve binged on his audiobooks recently, so listening to him read passages from A Walk in the Woods, In a Sunburned Country, and his new release The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain truly brought the books to life. The evening proved that America and Britain’s bastion of curmudgeonly wanderlust is just as charming, hilarious, and endearing off the page as he is on.

Some highlights:

1. On how to avoid a bear attack: wear bells so the bears know you’re coming. And keep your eyes open for bear scat on the ground. It’s easy to spot — it has bells in it.

2. When a British bookstore author questionnaire asked what he would like people to say about him 100 years from now: “Well, at least he was still sexually active.”

3. He’s never thought of writing fiction.

4. Reviewers of his new book,The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain, have written that he’s far grumpier than he use to be. He used this as a segway into reading a passage from the book, a cautionary tale regarding the horrors of ordering for a large family at McDonald’s with grossly incompetent staff.

5. He profoundly curious and always does his own research. Writing is a difficult art, but through research, one gets to enjoy the joy of discovery. You never know what you’ll find.

6. On embellishment in his writing: it depends on which of the two types of books he’s writing. Ernest books of information have no embellishment. They’re meant to be reliable sources of information. However, when writing of his personal adventures, he freely expands and uses hyperbole or it wouldn’t be funny. He suspects his readers are intelligent enough to tell the difference.

7. He had nothing to do with making the movie version of A Walk in the Woods, having sold the rights to Robert Redford over a decade ago. The movie was supposed to reunite Paul Newman and Robert Redford for the first time since The Sting, but Paul got sick, and the movie was put on the back burner. When Redford decided to go forward with the production, Bryson wasn’t involved with the script writing. Bryson watched the movie for the first time at the Sundance Film Festival. He sat between his wife and Redford, and found it insane because there was Redford on the screen answering to his name.

8. Bryson thought the film somewhat accurately reflected his book until one particularly awkward scene. “Bryson” on film began flirting with a hotel-keeper (portrayed by Mary Steenburgen) and there’s obvious chemistry. He felt the strong need to lean over to his wife and swear this scene was not in the book and it never happened.

9. He sent his friend Katz (not his real name) the manuscript for A Walk in the Woods because he felt a bit bad that he’d portrayed him as such a buffoon (even though he was a total buffoon). Katz read the manuscript and said it was funny, but all fiction. Bryson walked him through each scene, and Katz fessed up to each antidote. Then how was it fiction? According to his Appalachian Trail companion, the stories were all true, but it was just fiction in the way Bryson told them.

10. Bryson’s greatest regret in life is not completing the (somewhere around) 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail hike. He never hiked or even saw Mount Katahdin, regarded to be the most difficult climb in the entirety of the A.T. Someday. Maybe.

Bonus: When asked what inspires him to write: bills.

Bill Bryson signed copy a short history of everything

My son’s first signed book!

And that, my friends, is the witty and wonderful Bill Bryson. If you haven’t read his books, you absolutely must. I highly recommend the audiobooks.

Some of my favorites:

And next in my queue:

Minecraft Books Kids Will Love — Librarian & Kid Approved!

Librarian, parent, & kid approved Minecraft books! Perfect gifts for boys and girls ages 6 - 16 and a great way to get kids reading. #minecraft #holidaygifts #giftsforboys
Every parent, teacher, librarian, and kid knows that MINECRAFT is the hottest thing out there for kids 6 to 16. The phenomena has taken the world by storm, and been praised for its ability to stretch users imaginations and skills as they learn how to build, create, collaborate, and survive in their Minecraft world. But if you’re like me, you might think your kid plays the game WAY too much—how about trading some screen time for book time?

Buying gifts for kids (especially boys) in this age range can be quite a challenge. With birthday parties it seems like every weekend and the holidays approaching, I’ve been hunting for some winning gift ideas. I’ve always given books to younger kids and adults, but kids in this range can be tricky.  Solution: MINECRAFT BOOKS!

But which to buy?

If you browse through Amazon, you’ll find pages of Mineraft-related book offerings. Almost all the books are very recently published and few offer reviews. Then there are dozens of free Kindle books, but you have no idea if they are any good.

As a library staffer and parent, I’ve personally checked out all of the books listed below. My library system now carries all of these titles, so you know they are librarian-approved “real” books, not something a 12-year-old fan wrote and tossed up on Amazon. They range from introductory guides appropriate for elementary-aged beginners to more complex developmental aids for those tweens and teens with an interest in programming.


Essential Minecraft Books

Minecraft: The Complete Handbook Collection

Age Range: 8 – 12 years (even 6-year-olds will love them!)
Grade Level: 2 – 7
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.; Box edition (October 21, 2014)
Amazon  $19.18
Scholastic $22.00


This is the complete collection of the Official Minecraft books written by the game’s developers and published by Scholastic. Each handbook contains helpful tips and information from the creators themselves, all of which will prove vital to players survival and creativity as they learn to mine, craft, and build in a world that they control. The graphics and layout make the books easy to navigate and the tutorials are spelled out with step-by-step directions almost anyone can follow. This durable yet beautiful set is considered THE MUST-HAVE set for the enthusiasts and beginners (my son and his friends carry it around in their backpacks at school even!).

The collection includes the four handbooks listed below, but at a better price!

Minecraft: Essential Handbook: An Official Mojang Book

The first OFFICIAL Minecraft book, this one is the #1 guide for any newbie or elementary-aged player. Learn how to find resources; make a shelter; craft tools, armor, and weapons, and protect yourself from monsters. With tips from Minecraft experts, including developer Jeb and creator Notch himself, this is the definitive guide to surviving your first few days in Minecraft.



Minecraft: Redstone Handbook: An Official Mojang Book

According to my Minecraft experts, Redstone is one of the most important substances if you want to build contraptions in the Minecraft world. This second book in the Scholastic/Mojang collection explains how to connect and control the blocks that make up the Minecraft world.



Minecraft: Construction Handbook: An Official Mojang Book

Whether players want to build their own mansion and gardens or dream of creating their own roller-coaster ride, this handbook will give them the confidence and skills to fuel their creative genius. Readers will learn how to construct houses, ships, floating islands, bridges, roller coasters, and more!



Minecraft: Combat Handbook: An Official Mojang Book

Creepers and Zombies and Ghasts, oh my! In this book readers can learn how to defend their home, build forts, fight monsters, and craft weapons. Learn how to survive and thrive in player versus play mode, evade death in the Nether, and battle the Ender Dragon in the End.




Chapter Books

Want to encourage your child to actually read? The series below is librarian and teacher approved, and the perfect gift if you want to get your little gamer excited about taking time away from the game to read.


Invasion of the Overworld: Book One in the Gameknight999 Series: An Unofficial Minecrafter’s Adventure

When one of Gameknight’s father’s inventions teleports him into the game, he is forced to live out a real-life adventure inside a digital world. Stuck in the game, he discovers Minecraft’s best-kept secret: the creatures within the game are alive! He will have to stay one step ahead of the sharp claws of zombies and pointed fangs of spiders, but he’ll also have to learn to make friends and work as a team if he has any chance of surviving the Minecraft war his arrival has started.

Age Range: 9 and up
Grade Level: 3 and up
Series: Gameknight999 (Book 1)
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Sky Pony Press (August 26, 2014)
Amazon $9

Battle for the Nether: Book Two in the Gameknight999 Series: An Unofficial Minecrafter’s Adventure

Epic battles, terrible monsters, heartwarming friendships, and spine-tingling suspense . . . Battle for the Nether takes the adventures of Gameknight999 to the next level in a nonstop roller-coaster ride of adventure.

Age Range: 9 and up
Grade Level: 3 and up
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Sky Pony Press (August 26, 2014)


Confronting the Dragon: Book Three in the Gameknight999 Series: An Unofficial Minecrafter’s Adventure (Gameknight999 Minecraft)

An evil army threatens to destroy all of Minecraft in the third Gameknight999 adventure!

Age Range: 9 and up
Grade Level: 3 and up
Series: Gameknight999 Minecraft (Book 3)
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Sky Pony Press (October 21, 2014)

Diary of a Minecraft Zombie Book 1: A Scare of A Dare (Volume 1)

In the first book of this hilarious Minecraft adventure series, we get to read the diary of an actual 12 year old Minecraft Zombie. Take a peek at what is really going on between the hollow eyes, and dead expression that we normally see when we face the dreaded Zombies of Minecraft.

Age range: 7+
Series: Diary of a Minecraft Zombie
Paperback: 90 pages
Publisher: Herobrine Publishing (March 26, 2015)

“Steve Crafter” continues the DIARY OF A WIMPY KID meets MINECRAFT series:

Diary of a Minecraft Zombie Book 2: Bullies and Buddies (Volume 2)

Diary of a Minecraft Zombie Book 3: When Nature Calls (Volume 3)

Diary of a Minecraft Zombie Book 4: Zombie Swap

Diary Of The Legendary Ender Dragon

There are DIARY OF A books for almost every Minecraft character out there!


  Unofficial Guides

The Big Book of Minecraft: The Unofficial Guide to Minecraft & Other Building Games

Up to date for the 2014 holiday season, The Big Book of Minecraft is packed with the most recent training, tools, and techniques to help readers get more out of their favorite sandbox game. 2014 was a pivotal year for Minecraft, and this book captures all the latest and greatest things that have happened to one of the most brilliant and immersive games in video game history. From a brief overview of the game to advanced farming, mining, and building techniques, this guide touches on everything Minecraft enthusiasts could ever ask for. Featuring authoritative and engaging content from our internal experts, The Big Book of Minecraft also highlights some of the most influential builders in the Minecraft community today and examines their creations and techniques that catapulted them to fame.

Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Triumph Books (November 1, 2014)
Amazon $14.99


Building in MinecraftBuilding in Minecraft: The Unofficial Building Guide to Minecraft & Other Games

This isn’t so much a “guide” as a cool idea book. The photos highlight some of the most amazing builds ever created, from nuclear submarines to mind-boggling castles. There are no directions as to how to actually build these complex projects, but crafters will flip through the pages with awe. I’ve only found this book inside Barnes and Noble—look for it on the display tables up front or ask.

Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Triumph Books (November 1, 2014)
Barnes and Noble $7.98 (in-store only)


Programming & Mods (Advanced Users)

Minecraft Mastery: Build Your Own Redstone Contraptions and Mods

This book does start with some basic redstone material, but the bulk of its one-of-a-kind tutorials are for the advanced user. Learn how to create logic gates, advanced mechanisms, and much more. You’ll also find out how to host a Minecraft server, use the qCraft and Computer-Craft mods, and develop your own custom mods. Exponentially expand the dimensions of your world with help from this hands-on guide–the only limit is your imagination!
Age: Advanced users—teen & up
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: McGraw-Hill/TAB Electronics; (June 5, 2014)

Minecraft Mod Development in 24 Hours, Sams Teach Yourself

While this book was just above my own 11-year-old’s abilities—a bit of Java knowledge going into this would be helpful—it would be perfect for teens/tweens interested in learning programming.

Learn how to…

  • Set up the environment where you’ll write your mod
  • Create the basics for your mod with the Forge API
  • Establish a framework that makes it easier to build complex mods
  • Work with recipes and other small modifications
  • Create multiple recipes, items, blocks, and entities at once
  • Cook up food items that heal your players
  • Make custom pickaxes, shovels, and completely original tools
  • Use Tile Entities to create complex and unique mods
  • Create interesting custom armor for players
  • Master Java programming techniques you can use far beyond Minecraft

Age: Advanced users (tweens & teens with some programming knowledge)
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Sams Publishing; 1 edition (September 20, 2014)
Amazon $24


Learn to Program with Minecraft Plugins: Create Flaming Cows in Java Using CanaryMod

Write your own Minecraft plugins with CanaryMod and watch your code come to life with flaming cows, flying creepers, teleportation, and interactivity. Follow along with the book and add your own features to the Minecraft game by developing Java code that “plugs in” to the server. You’ll manipulate and control elements in the 3D graphical game environment without having to write tons of code or learn huge frameworks. No previous programming experience necessary.

Age Range: 10 and up
Series: The Pragmatic Programmers
Paperback: 284 pages
Publisher: Pragmatic Bookshelf; (November 8, 2014)
Amazon $20


And Just for Fun…


Amazing Minecraft Activity Book (Volume 1)

This fun and engaging activity book is packed with 75 different puzzles and games to keep Minecraft fans entertained for hours! Wind your way through a mineshaft maze, play Minecraft parkour, unscramble secret messages and more. Clues and answers are provided. Each page can be colored in, too!

Paperback: 82 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (January 13, 2015)


Minecraft 2015 Wall Calendar

Format: 2015 Wall Calendar
Size Closed: 11.5″ W x 11.5″ H
Size Opened: 11.5″ W x 23″ H

On Book to Movie Adaptations and Giving Yourself the Gift of Distance

Like millions of other holiday moviegoers, the family and I watched Catching Fire over the weekend. Did I enjoy it? Heck yeah. Was it as good as the book? Nah, not quite—but it was still very entertaining IMHO.

A  few years back, a book club friend forced me to start reading the Hunger Games trilogy. At the time I was highly prejudiced against YA. I was an adult. Adults didn’t need to read a novel geared to teens. ::can you feel the snoot in my voice?::  Plus dystopian creeped me out and I avoided the genre like the plague (whether or not there was one in the story).  But my fellow book-lover swore I could not consider myself ‘well read’ if I didn’t give the series a try.

I can give any book a try. Challenge accepted.

I fell in love with the books, devouring the series just after Mockingjay was released. Then I made my husband read them.

But I digress…back to the movie. One of the main reasons I was able to enjoy the movie so much is that I gave myself time to let the story fade into feathered memory. Sure, I remember the main premise, the favorite characters (big picture but not details), and plot highlights, but the rest settles into that dusty storage attic where I could probably pull out details for a trivia question, but it would take longer than the final Jeopardy theme song.

I quite like it that way.

Nothing is worse than watching a movie and nitpicking every last detail. If you’re a reader, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Our suspension of disbelief is loyal to the book — the world the author built and our imagination colored and populated. There’s just no way even the most talented filmmaker can include all of the minute details. (Unless you’re Peter Jackson, and then you can make a 287 page book last almost six freaking hours on the big screen.)

With a few years (and a few hundred books) distance, I was able to enjoy Catching Fire with the proper suspension of disbelief. I’ve always thought Jennifer Lawrence, Woody Harrleson, and Lenny Kravitz were perfectly cast. I’ve always thought Liam Hemsworth was totally wrong (that boy’s obviously enjoyed good genes and plenty of food–he’s way to brawny to be an underfed District 12 member).

The other characters…I really don’t remember.

I DO remember when I first saw the actor who was cast as Finnick I was not impressed. Too lanky, to small. Once again, I was proved wrong. Or should I say, Sam Clafin proved me wrong—from what I remember of the character, he portrayed Finnick beautifully. I remember less about Joanna, but I loved Jenna Malone’s sassy, strong character in the film.

Had I read the book right before watching the movie, I’m sure I would have come up with criticisms—plot points they left out, fine details missed, characters acting out of step. But I gave myself the gift of distance, and I was able to enjoy the novel as I read it a few years ago and fully experience the movie as it was meant to be seen.


How about you: do you like reading a book right before watching the movie adaptation or do you like to give it some space?

Weird, Wild, and Crazy Toys for Kids

As the 2013 holiday shopping season kicks into high gear, I’ve been scouring Amazon for the most unusual gifts in cyberspace. Let me tell you—there are bizarre toys and gifts out there, and I’ve culled some of my *favorites* for your shopping pleasure. ::ahem:: A few of these products are rather ingenious. Others are crude and gross beyond belief (which means I’m sure many kids would love them). Will Santa be placing any of these presents under your tree?

Daddle - The Dad SaddleDaddle (the saddle for Dads) This one falls under the ingenious category. Some dads will probably love this. (That bit of padding will save their backs from bony kid bottoms). Others might feel slightly offended that fatherhood has rendered them to farm animal status. Either way, it could make for some entertaining Christmas morning video—just practice the toddler riding skills a safe distance from the Christmas tree.

poo doughPrank Star Poo-dough  Just what every parent wants to see—their kid mushing a pile of poo on the kitchen table. This “delightful” gift even comes with two tones of brown dough so you can customize (the manufacturer suggests adding yellow dough so you can create corn kernels and peanuts). What parent wouldn’t love this? N.A.S.T.Y.


unicorn meatCanned Unicorn Meat This isn’t real meat—unicorn, mystery, or other. Instead, you open the can to discover a dismembered stuffed unicorn. The bottom of the can pops right off so you don’t even need a can opener. Perfect for the little girl with an unhealthy obsession with unicorns? Thank you, ThinkGeek.

dragon meat Canned Dragon Meat From the package: “The most dangerously delicious meat on Earth. From the Sisters of Radiant Farms, Scotland. One can contains 100% of your daily value of havoc, terror, inferno, destruction, magic, and rage. Also contains trace amounts of poetry and ballet. (*That part I like.) Warning: This is not an actual food item and is non-edible. There’s a stuffed dragon head inside the can. (SPOILERS!)”

fart blaster despiciable meDespicable Me 2 Exclusive Banana Scented Fart Gun I may be one of the only people with kids who has NOT seen Despicable Me (one or two). Apparently, a fart gun plays a role in the movie(s). (My hubby just confirmed that it’s VERY funny.) So, if you have minion fans in your house, why not get them their own Fart Gun. Not only does this toy gun makes a variety of fart noises, but it smells of banana.  Hey, you can pair this up with the poo dough!


Pig Out Pete game, puke game

Pig Out Pete Game  Plump Pete moves around, making gross sounds and throwing up plastic food. Players must match the food Pete upchucks with the color of food in their slime tray.  Billed as a “skill and action game.” Batteries required.

gassy gus Gassy Gus  A Gut-Busting Game that’s a blast!  Players use cards to feed Gus all sorts of gaseous foods – from broccoli to baked beans. With each tasty dish, players pump up Gus and watch his belly grow bigger until he has a blow-out. Players get a  stinky penalty. Whoever feeds Gus all his food wins.

*Theses last two ‘games’ sound like recipes for early-childhood eating disorders.*


plush organs   ‘I Heart Guts’ Designer Plush Organ Figures So how about instead you teach your kids about the good thing their guts can do? Every kid wants a Immense Intestine Plush – Go With Your Gut!or a Big Brain Plush – All You Need Is Lobe! to snuggle up with each night. If your kids approaching puberty, why not explain the birds and the bees with Womb Service Uterus Plush
or Having a Ball Testicle Plush . Yes, you can cuddle up with everything from a set of stuffed lungs to a cute little sperm. Unless you are a kid bravely battling a health issue, the question is why would you?


doggie dooDoggie Doo This game is back from the last list of different, disturbing, and slightly disgusting toys. Kids feed and walk the little plastic pup. When they squeeze his leash he makes a gassy sound that gets louder and louder until…plop! You have your own, fresh doggie doo. The first to clean up after the dog three times wins. I wonder if it is scented? Manufactures must think kids are obsessed with poo.


crystal meth rock candy, breaking bad candy

Blue Raspberry Rock Candy Crystals (1 Pound Bag)  This year candy coal in the stocking is totally passe. Breaking Bad has brought back the iconic (and often home-cooked) rock candy.  Hopefully your kid is NOT a Breaking Bad fan, but devotes of the show will appreciate this high-grade bag of crystals. I’d bet any kid would get a heck of a sugar high from ingesting this quantity sugary crack—but all perfectly legal. Perhaps this would be a better gift for your adult B.B. fan friends.


crib dribbler prank giftCrib Dribbler There’s a new trend in baby-training: the crib dribbler.  Just attach to the side of the crib, fill with your infant’s favorite formula, water, or energy drink, and like magic—a hands free feeding solution.

Yes, this is a PRANK.  It’s actually just an empty box—your real gift goes inside. Come on, can’t you just imagine your pregnant sister-in-laws eyes widening when she unwraps this on Christmas day? Or how about tucking the handmade, 100% organic baby blanket you made for your slightly crunchy friend’s baby shower inside? Make sure you have a camera rolling to catch the gasps.


So, are any of these products going on your holiday shopping list?



Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Les Misérables: A {Parent} Review

This brief review of Les Misérables is  provided by a completely novice movie reviewer, but a Les Mis lover and a parent. I had a tough time deciding if the movie was appropriate for my 9-year-old, and I imagine there are others out there wondering the same thing.

I’ll start by admitting I’m a Les Mis junkie. I saw the musical on my seventeenth birthday in Chicago, and I’ve known all the lyrics by heart since. I’ve caught the touring Broadway show a couple time, and I wasn’t going to miss this celebrity studded tour de force for anything.

A quick movie summary (provided by the official  Les Miserables Film website):

Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, Les Misérables tells an enthralling story of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption—a timeless testament to the survival of the human spirit. Hugh Jackman plays ex-prisoner Jean Valjean, hunted for decades by the ruthless policeman Javert (Russell Crowe) after he breaks parole. When Valjean agrees to care for factory worker Fantine’s (Anne Hathaway) young daughter, Cosette, their lives change forever.

Initially, I planned on taking my 9-year-old son and husband to keep me company. I’ve been listening to the fabulous “Dream Cast” 10th Anniversary  and 25th Anniversary  concerts for weeks. I didn’t hear anything in there too offensive, and after introducing my son to musical theater last Spring with the amazing touring Lion King production, I thought it was time to broaden his horizons. Let him see just how hard life could be for those less fortunate, expose him to some poverty, some strife, some fighting for what is good and honest and true in this world. You know, let him appreciate how far society, at least here in the American suburbs, has come and just how darn lucky he is. Let him be moved by the music.

I had a hard time finding any actual parent’s reviews of the movie, and those few I did said it was appropriate for 15-and-up. But it’s PG-13? My kid watched his first PG-13 movie years ago (NOT my idea) and he is allowed to watch certain movies (usually involving superheroes, hobbits, or sinking ships) on a case by case basis. How rough could a movie musical really be?

The running theme implied Les Mis showed as much sex as a PG-13 movie allowed. Since that is the one thing I absolutely shelter him from, I decided to see the movie before I ended up having an exceptionally awkward conversation about the birds and the bees on the drive home.

I’m glad I did.

Les Miserables earned its PG-13 rating, and this parent thinks it should stick. Here’s why:

Sexual content: 

Prostitutes. They play up the whole “Lovely Ladies” scene, making it gritty and rough, causing the original Broadway version to look clean and Disneyfied. No saucy singing ladies of the night—these are gutter whores—there’s not much doubt what these raunchy, miserable women are selling and the hell their lives have turned into. Poor Fantine (the amazing Anne Hathaway) is abused, groped, and molested before she allows a man to throw up her skirt and have her way with him for a few coins. No nudity, but far too explicit for kids.

Tons of bawdy humor, sexual innuendo kids/tweens may or may not understand, and cleavage shoved up high and spilling from corsets.

And a man dressed as Santa gets it on with a prostitute. No nudity, but she’s on top of him and thrusting. (I can only imagine the gasp from my kid—don’t know if “they’re just wrestling” would explain it away.)


Some swearing, usually sung. Not enough to alarm me, but my Mother-in-Law would probably faint. My kid could tolerate it (as he knows not to repeat it).

Again, some “vulgar” and bawdy humor the kids probably wouldn’t get. (At least I hope.)

Drug and Alcohol Use:

It IS France. They drink wine. A lot of it. And of course, the perfectly cast Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen portray the Thénardiers, scoundrels who keep their patrons sloppy drunk so they can fleece them for every sou or two.


Prison is bad. Prisoners are treated harshly.

Various people are slapped and beaten.

Lots of guns, swords, and knives.

A woman’s teeth are ripped out (for money).

Women (mostly prostitutes) are handled roughly by men. 

During the battle scene, many men and women (some we are rooting for) are shot and killed. More realistic than stylized (as in, say, comic book flicks). Not super graphic, but they bleed. Later, blood flows through the gutters and women must scrub it from the cobblestones.

**SPOILER** A child is shot and killed. (Much of the audience cried.)

**SPOILER** A man commits suicide (not graphic or violent, though may be disturbing).

Several characters we come to care about die. Yes, this happens in Disney movies, so I can’t say it’s inappropriate, but the whole audience clutched tissues and sniffled. Or flat out bawled.

If you made it all the way down here, I’m surprised you didn’t stop after the first mention of “prostitute.” They are hard to explain away to kids. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVED this movie. It should be nominated for Best Picture. I already bought the soundtrack. Hugh Jackman shines as Jean Valjean and Anne Hathaway…phenomenal. Perfect. I dare anyone not to tear up during her amazing “I Dreamed a Dream.”

Drag your husbands and a box of tissues to this film, but leave the kids under 13 at home.

Once this comes out on DVD I will probably let my kid watch parts of it, so long as I can edit out some content I’m just not ready to explain. When he’s a teen, he’ll be forced to watch it. Maybe even learn the songs.

And next time I watch it,  I’ll remember to wear my 20-year-old T shirt, as well.

Making Flossing Fun for the Family

When was the last time you tried to get your kids to floss their teeth? Last night? Last month? Last year? To say it can be a challenge is a gross understatement. Many parents pick their battles: we consider ourselves fortunate our kids brush their teeth regularly and without tears. And perhaps, like me, you push off the flossing for another night. Again.
But you know kids need to floss. The trick is making it fun. That was always a problem — until now.

When I was asked if I wanted to try the Waterpic Water Flosser for Kids I jumped at the chance. Early this summer we came home from the orthodontist with a whole “goodie bag” full of weird devices to help keep my kiddo’s new braces food-free. The bag has sat untouched under the bathroom sink. 
Kiddo’s eyes lit up the moment he saw his new Water Flosser. It comes with sheets of sticker-like clings, and he customized his Flosser with every last one. He couldn’t wait to test it out.  
I discovered shooting a stream of high pressure water between the teeth is very cool to a nearly 9-year-old boy. Traditional flossing—not so much. Luckily, the Water Flosser is 3x as effective as regular flossing and 1000x more fun. He can control the stream of water and adjust the stream on three levels. He actually wants to use it. And I totally wish I owned  a Water Flosser back when I had braces.
The adjustable water flow cleans not only the normal food stuck between teeth, but also helps get rid of the gunk that tends to cake around braces. In fact, it’s 5x more effective than just brushing alone for cleaning around braces.  And when you’re spending a fortune on braces, the last thing you need is a cavity. It’s all about prevention. You want those pearly whites to last for another 90 years or so.

Although I am not cavity prone (only two in my life—fingers crossed!) my dentist has strongly suggested I use a water flosser and sonic toothbrush if I want to prevent gum disease. For some of us with cranky gums, brushing and flossing are just not enough. Bad gums can lead to dentures and heart disease — no thanks.

This Waterpic Complete Care system not only cleans your teeth, but removes bacteria between teeth and below the gumline where brushing and regular flossing can’t reach. It massages the gums, improving circulation so they can grow stronger and healthier. It feels rather luxurious, and my teeth feel dentist-fresh each time I use it.

The system is up to 159% more effective than manual brushing. And, well, it’s more fun for adults, too.

My teeth and gums — and my oral hygienist — are going to be thrilled.

Want your kids to try out the system? Waterpic is offering

Or visit the Waterpic website for a printable $10 off coupon for the Waterrpic Complete Care System!

*This product was sent to me for review purposes. I did not receive any monetary compensation. The opinions expressed are my own.  I cannot guarantee a positive review for any product or services, but I can promise a review written with honesty and integrity. 

Echelon Chardonnay & Pinot Grigio: A Relaxing Review

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Above is the perfect example of what I’ve WANTED to do lately…relax in my garden with a delightful bottle of wine, watch the butterflies dance on the breeze, the squirrels play tag, and my family play in the pool.  Add in some food, friends, and a good book and I’d be in nirvana. (Some Nirvana playing in the background would work too…nah, not mellow enough…let’s change that to some Jack Johnson & DMB.)

But with my temporary work schedule (more about that on another post) that’s just a wistful daydream.

I can’t even enjoy a glass of wine during the week — Quelle horreur!  The promising pop of a cork sliding from a bottle, the gentle glug of wine lapping against a crystal glass, the complex aroma swirling through the heavy air, that first sip of nectar… 

Can you tell I’m in withdrawal?

Luckily, the wonderful people at Echelon Vineyards were kind enough to send me samples of their Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, and Red Blend wines.  And a handy-dandy corkscrew, much to my Hubby’s infinite delight.  Heaven in a box.

First up was the 2010 Pinot Grigio. This crisp, almost fruity wine was absolutely perfect after a long, hot Florida Saturday.

 The citrus tones complimented the hints of almost… sweetness…an ideal wine  for some alfresco poolside dining. (How I wished I had the time to pop on a pool float with a book and a cool glass of the wine!) I paired it with one of my favorite dinners of chicken in wine sauce with risotto, and the Hubby and I enjoyed a lovely evening in our own little backyard oasis.  Cool, refreshing, and delicious.

After a pedicure, lunch, and shopping with my mom on Mother’s Day, I came home to find my Hubby cleaning the house and prepping dinner. {ahhh…}

He handed me my book and a glass of the Echelon Collection Chardonnay — bliss!  This Napa Valley Chardonnay seemed to gently roll out of the glass, richer and more lush than the Pinot Grigio, yet still lovely on a summer evening.  It’s flavor hinted of vanilla and made me crave an apple pie. The wine was not overly oaky or buttery, as some Chardonnays tend to be. Lovely, mellow, and balanced.

It paired perfectly with my Mother’s Day dinner of grilled balsamic chicken topped with prosciutto. If only there had been enough left to pair with dessert…

Both wines are excellent values for their price point of about $10 and would be a welcome addition to any get-together with friends or quiet evening in.

I do have to add, I loved this little bit of marketing prose by the Echelon Vineyards team:

We think you’re entitled to some recognition too. We believe wine is a simple reward and makes every day a celebration. Whether you’ve completed a 5K run, successfully put the kids to bed for the night, survived a challenging work day, or finished making a killer roast chicken, pour yourself a glass of Echelon and celebrate life’s small blessings!

I couldn’t agree more.  Cheers!

*This product was sent to me for review purposes. I did not receive any monetary compensation. The opinions expressed are my own.  I cannot guarantee a positive review for any product or services, but I can promise a review written with honesty and integrity. 

Zaggora HotPants Two Week Challenge

First, I will admit, I didn’t  know what Hotpants were before I received my shiny yellow envelope in the mail. I thought they were some fancy brand of yoga/exercise pants, like Lululemon, something I would love to try but would never cough up enough cash to buy.

Second, I should state that I do not believe in weight loss, cellulite loss, or dieting gimmicks. I believe you lose weight by reducing the number of calories you eat and drink and by exercising. Period. I would love it if cellulite creams and pastes and wraps actually worked, but science has pretty much summed up the problem by revealing that you can shrink the nasty cells, but they ain’t ever completely going away.

And third, well, I’m not really trying to lose much weight. Now, I am constantly fighting the battle to firm up all the squishy parts, get rid of the saggy pregnancy lower belly bag, and fight off the cellulite that plagues every woman once she reaches a certain age. I eat well. I work out. I yearn to be fit and strong. Actually, when I work out a lot (yoga, pilates, weight training) I usually gain a few pounds, which can be frustrating and usually makes me want to kick the scale.

So, with this in mind, I was quite surprised when I opened my package and pulled out my Hotpants. They felt like a diver’s wetsuit — thick, foamy, and tight. In fact, they are made of neoprene, polyester, and nylon — good for surfing?  My Hubby joked I should call them my “sweat your ass off” pants.

Zaggora’s Two Week Challenge:

  • Lose two jean sizes in two weeks – no crazy workout, not nutty regime.
  • Zaggora claims their Hotpants are “specially engineered using Celu-Lite technology” to utilize your body’s heat to get results.
  • Hotpants increase your perspiration by up to 80%, so you can get a 60 minute workout in just 30 minutes or wear them at home or while you sleep.

Day 1:  Ran a 5k on the elliptical then another 5k on the bike. I was soaked from head to toe. I had to take a shower immediately. When I peeled off the Hotpants they were wet inside (the sweat doesn’t go through the pants) and my panties could be wrung out.The Hotpants have to be hand washed, so I tossed them in the shower with me.

Day 2:  6 mile bike ride on path.

Day 3:  1hr yoga class.  Hotpants didn’t dry out overnight, felt rather funky putting on damp.

Day 4:  1hr Power Pilates.

Day 5:  Wore at home.

Day 6:  1hr Yoga.

Day 7:  Wore at home. Pants feel looser — stretching out or am I shrinking?

Day 8:  8 mile trail bike ride.

Day 9:  11 mile trail bike ride.

Day 10:  1 hr Body Pump toning class + 1 1/2 hrs Yoga.

Day 11:  Thanksgiving. No, I did not pig out. Yes, I am sore.

Day 12:  Wore at home.

Day 13:  1 hr Yoga.

Day 14:  10 mile trail bike ride.

After the Two Week Challenge I did not drop two jean sizes. Or even one. I did not lose a single pound even though I felt like I was working out a ton (and still eating healthy as well). My measurements and weight remained exactly the same. Frustrating.

{Excuse me while I go examine my thighs and bum.}

Everything looks the same. My thighs do feel a bit firmer — the muscles have been getting quite a workout. Wednesday’s double hitter of squats, lunges, and yoga nearly killed me, so I had better be getting some results. The skin looks exactly the same though. My hips and tummy (where I really would have liked a little more firmness) show no changes in skin texture or tone. I suppose the only thing which will shape this troublesome area is plastic surgery to sew all the muscles back to the skin (thanks Kiddo).

The Hotpants certainly made me sweat more as was claimed, but perhaps I don’t have much water weight to lose? After I acclimated myself to the tight waistband, the pants were rather comfortable. I liked how they kept my muscles warm while cycling and doing yoga. They will probably be nice once it gets cold out and may shave a sliver of warm up time off my routine.  I won’t be wearing them every day, but I’ll certainly keep trying them as I work out. A girl can always dream, right?

*This product was provided to me for free for review purposes. I did not receive any monetary compensation. The opinions expressed are my own.  I cannot guarantee a positive review for any product or services, but I can promise a review written with honesty and integrity. Other peoples opinion and experience with this product may differ from my own.

Celebrating with Cupcake Prosecco

Last Wednesday I finished the first draft of my novel. {cue applause, fist bumps, high-fives, and whoo-hoos }  Surviving my first such labor called for a celebration. It was time to break out the bubbly.

Luckily, my dear Hubby was thoughtful enough to take out the good flutes and pop my bottle of Cupcake Vineyards Prosecco into the fridge to properly chill. The celebration was ON.

 A few bubbly basics: just because a wine has bubbles does not make it a champagne. Any wine which bubbles when poured into a glass is considered a sparkling wine. Varieties are produced around the globe, from South Africa to Germany to even Texas. Most are produced by a similar technique: a second fermentation of the wine produces carbon dioxide which is kept under pressure and creates bubbles. A true Champagne must be made in the Champagne region of France, about 90 mile northeast of Paris. 

Prosecco is a sparkling wine made only in the Veneto region of Italy (think gondolas and grapes).  It is generally a fresh, dry wine, meant to be drunk while still young (the wine, not the drinker).

I first sampled Prosecco while while on my honeymoon in Italy. I have many fond memories of drinking the bubbly (and some pictures that I don’t quite remember) after my wedding in Rome and while wandering through a flooded Venice with a bottle in hand.

So generally, it’s safe to say I like Prosecco. And I most certainly enjoyed the Cupcake variety.

It was much lighter and less complicated than a fussy Champagne. The crisp, clean flavors reminded me of fresh tart apples with a drop of homemade lemonade. It was vibrant and dry with just a subtle dose of sweetness. The nose was slightly citrusy, but the dry effervescence of nearly any sparkling wine usually overwhelms me too much to properly detect the aroma.

The Cupcake Prosecco would be a delightful addition to any celebration, and its price point simply cannot be beat. While it is excellent on its own, it would make a mean Bellini or Mimosa as well.

Cupcake Vineyards NV Prosecco D.O.C. 2010

Pairings: Perfect with nearly any appetizer.

Price:  Suggested retail $13.99, but I’ve seen it on sale for as low as $7.99 (a steal!)

Availability: Nationally

Related Posts: Cupcake Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Review

*This product was sent to me for review purposes. I did not receive any monetary compensation. The opinions expressed are my own.  I cannot guarantee a positive review for any product or services, but I can promise a review written with honesty and integrity.  


Legoland Florida Review

 *Note: This is a completely unsponsored post and unbiased review. I paid in full for all Legoland admission tickets, food, parking, and souvenirs.  Free tickets would have been nice, but alas, no free rides here.

Legoland is Florida’s newest and most anticipated theme park addition. Located in Winter Haven (about 45 minutes south of Disney) on the grounds of the old Cypress Gardens, it is a brightly colored mecca for Lego lovers and fans. Be warned: it IS a park for kids. It is not like EPCOT or even Universal, which play to a definite adult audience as well.  Legoland claims its target audience is kids 2 to 12. I would say more specifically 5 to 11-year-old boys. For them, it is a wonderland.

We visited with my son, an 8-year-old who lives, eats, and breaths Legos: their ideal guest.

The park was everything he wanted and more.

We spent the day at Legoland on Monday, October 18th, the 3rd day the park was officially open. We were hoping to avoid the crazy opening weekend crowds. We did. The park was not busy at all. In fact, when we arrived at the empty parking lot we thought the park was closed. Lines for all rides (if there were any at all) were short. Now I understand why Legoland will be closed two days during the week (Tuesdays and Thursdays).

Rides and Attractions

Legoland has four roller coasters and all are great for kids. The height restrictions are minimal: 36″ to 44″ will get you on all the rides.

The Dragon is an easy coaster, full of knights, castles, and of course, dragons.

The Coastersaurus is an old wooden coaster refurbished from Cypress Garden days.  It’s bumpy and a bit different, but fun (once you get past the fact that you are trusting a very old wooden ride). My son actually looked a little nervous and asked the attendants if it was really safe.

Test Track is a short, swervy ride, but it was the steepest and fastest — a 45 foot drop before you hit the switchbacks — but still okay for most kids.

Flying School is a suspended coaster (meaning you hang from the top) where kids and adults can get the feel of flying without the fear like other suspended coasters (such as Sea World’s Manta).  It may look a little daunting, but it’s an easy thrill.

If you want to ride the coasters I would recommend hitting them first. If you turn right at the carousel (another holdout from the Cypress Gardens days), you can swing towards the Dragon first then follow the path along the back of the park to the others. We walked right on or waited only about 5 minutes for each on the day of our visit, but I have read reports of an hour wait — no fun with kids for such a short ride.

The Ford Driving School was a huge hit. Kids ages 6-13  sit through a short movie showing them how the life-sized Ford Explorer outside the ride was built and teaches them basic traffic laws and instructions. They are led out to the driving school track, a cute replica of some city streets complete with lanes, stop signs, and traffic lights.  They drive their own cars around (no parents allowed) following all the laws to get their license. It was adorable, and the kids all seemed to be beaming with pride that they were driving all by themselves. There is also aJr. Driving School for ages 3-5.

We didn’t get to try out the Boating School, also located in the Lego City area, due to some technical problems. Only one boat was running.

The Lost Kingdom Adventurewas just as fun for the adults as the kids. Guests ride four to a car through an ancient Egyptian tomb. It’s not scary. Each person has a laser gun to shoot at targets scattered through the day-glow painted ride and a scoreboard on their dash.

The Pharaoh’s Revenge is a glorified ball pit, but the kids loved it. Inside this small two-story netted area kids fire foam balls at each other (and parents if they don’t wait outside).


Only ride the Aquazone Wave Racers if you want to get wet. Spectators can set off water cannons as the 2-person wave racers spin by.  Fun for riders and spectators if you can manage to wait near one of the cannon buttons.


The Safari Trek is more for the littlest ones. While the Lego animals are amazing to behold — towering giraffes, water-squirting elephants, lions, zebras, even meerkats — the mini-jeep tour lasts maybe two minutes. I wanted to get close-up photos of the ‘animals’ so we waited in line for 15 minutes (longest wait of the day by far), then as we buckled into our vehicles, the ride broke. We sat for another five waiting to go somewhere. Walk the perimeter of the ride to see the cool animals, and don’t bother actually riding unless there is no wait.

Build and Test is a air-conditioned break-room for the adults while the kids have a blast building innovative race cars from dozens of bins of blocks. Kids fill several four car ramped race tracks with their creations, each vying to get their vehicle to the finish line first. Chairs line the walls for adults to chill out in the A/C while the kids are busy.  We had to drag our Kiddo out after a half hour.

Toddlers vs Big Kids: Speaking of little ones, Duplo Village is geared straight towards the smallest guests. The area features a mall-like play area, a Duplo block building area, and a few easy rides for toddlers 36″ and up. This area will not interest any kids over 5 though, so parents/groups may need to split up if they want to give toddlers their own time.

I have a photo tour of Miniland linked here, so just a few words: it’s cool. Even someone not really into Legos should appreciate these model cities. You could spend hours checking out all the amazing details the master builders included. It takes about 20 minutes just to stroll around the area, but plan on spending much more time there. It’s worth it. But save it for later in the day when you need a break from the rides. Bring some binoculars if you have room in your bag.

Part of the original Cypress Gardens is still on display.  Take the time to wander through the lush gardens of old Florida. Where costumed Southern Belles once greeted guests, Lego figures now stand — kinda kitsch, but a nice homage. Make sure to stroll under the immense banyan tree, planted in 1936. Many kids will be quickly bored with this area, but adults will appreciate the relative peace, beauty, and quiet. It’s also a great place to walk a tired little one in a stroller at nap time.


They also tried to preserve some more of the old Cypress Gardens by keeping a water ski show. The Lego version, Pirates’ Cove Live Water Ski show, is not a show stopper, but the kids seemed to like it.  You won’t see any of the old water ski pyramids or difficult stunts and tricks. Instead, bumbling Lego costumed soldiers try to save Isabella’s pirate ship from the bad pirate Captain Blackbeard. It’s a bit cheesy for the adults, but the  kids seemed to dig it.

The Island in the Sky is a rotating platform which rises over 100 feet above the park to give a 360 degree view of the area. It is not scary or fast, and the breeze from that height is quite lovely. If you are lucky you can catch part of the ski show from above and spot the Bok Tower in the distance — far more interesting that the Kmart and Bealls across the street.

As you stroll through the park, pay attention to the nearly life-size characters scattered around. The detail is amazing, and some have been created by Lego designers with an interesting sense of humor.

Food & Dining
The official policy says no outside food or drink except for baby formula or special medical needs.  However, at the time we went, no one was checking bags for contraband pb&js or chips.  No alcohol is sold in inside either (but it’s only open until 5 anyway, so you can hold out).

There are 11 spots to grab a bite throughout the park,  from funnel cakes to fried chicken.  The selection in each dining area is specific: for a burger you must go to Castle Burger or Cap’n Blackbeard’s Burger. Lakeside Sandwich Co. only has a small selection of premade sandwiches, wraps, and salads in a refrigerated case.

For more variety you can try FunTown Pizza Pasta Buffet ($10.99 adults, $6.99 kids) for all-you-can-eat  pizza, pastas, and salads (but how much can you really eat for lunch?).

We chose the Market Restaurant and were pleased with our choice. They feature several stations including fresh fruits & snacks, soups, basic salad (not a salad bar though), a few Asian dishes, mac & cheese, and rotisserie chicken.


For $8.99 I bought a 1/2 chicken meal with two sides (choice of veggies, rice, or roasted potatoes) that was more than enough to split with my son. The chicken was tasty and the veggies fresh. My husband bought the 1/4 chicken meal ($6.99) and was stuffed.

There is also a Lego building station inside the restaurant to keeps kids busy while parents catch their breath — a nice touch.

Legoland’s signature snack can be founds at Granny’s Apple Fries. I saw countless visitors snacking on the warm cinnamon and sugar coated Granny Smith apple fries served with a whipped cream dipping sauce.





Unlike some of Central Florida’s other theme parks, Legoland is not covered with souvenir shops and kiosks on every corner. It’s rather refreshing.  Most of the park’s 11 retail outlets are close to the main entrance (which means they are packed around closing time — shop early in the day and they are empty).

The Big Shop is supposed to be one of the largest Lego stores in existence. I certainly saw every Lego set I had ever seen in the catalogs lining the walls. And the prices ARE NOT MARKED UP. They are the same as online at or at your local superstore (Toy r Us is actually more expensive). You can buy a souvenir set without being fleeced, and they have many to choose from that you can’t find locally.  WIN.

Minifigure Market is touted as THE place to build your own custom figures, but there is not much to choose from. At the time of our visit there were about three different torsos and legs with a Halloween theme to mix with different hair and hat styles. There are no licensed figures to choose from (i.e. Star Wars, Harry Potter, etc.)  Kiddo was not impressed.  (3 mix & match Lego minifigures for $9.99) They also sold the minifigure “magnet” 3-packs ($14.99). They had a good selection (same as online) and this is the only real way to get many of the highly sought after licensed figures. (Beware: some of the figures cannot be detached from their magnets any longer.)

The coolest shop is the Pick A Brick area outside the Lego Factory. The Lego Factory itself is just a two-room “tour” of how the bricks are made, in kid-speak. At the end of the tour an official (and free) Legoland Florida souvenir brick pops out for each child before you walk through the Pick A Brick store.  Hundred of colorful bins featuring Legos sorted by size, shape, and color line the wall.  Bricks are bought by weight: you fill your bag with whatever you want and it is weighed at the register ($8.49 per 1/4 pound). Not too bad for some unusual pieces. Kiddo picked out some odds and ends he has never seen before for about $5.  WIN.

My boys loved the small Lego Studios store, filled with Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Spongebob toys. It didn’t hurt that they have a screen with the Lego Star Wars cartoon playing inside. I had to drag them both out.

There are a few other shops scattered around the park. The King’s Market featured knight and princess costumes and weapons (foam, of course). Outside the Driving School you can purchase an official Legoland Drivers License on a lanyard ($14.99, but you get a paper copy without a photo for free).

Discount Tickets

Regular price adult one-day admission is $75, child (3-12) $65. While this is competitive with other Orlando parks, it is a bit pricey when you consider Legoland is only open from 10 – 5 daily.  Annual passes are also available.

Currently, Legoland & Pepsi are a offering buy one adult ticket, get a child ticket free deal. Go to and enter promo code: 11090601.  You can only get one free ticket at a time, so if you have more than one adult/child pair you will need to do each transaction separately. The child tickets just went up to $65 bucks, so this is a decent deal. 

*(update 10/27/11) Publix Supermarkets are selling discounted tickets: Adult $60 and kids $50 (plus tax), a saving of $15 each from gate prices.

AAA Members can purchase discounted tickets at their local AAA branch, online, or by phone ($55.99 adults, $49.99 kids).

Central Florida Entertainment books have $5 discount coupons.

I’m going to stay on the lookout for discounts in the Lego Magazine. They run specials for all other parks, so hopefully soon some Florida deals will appear.

Parking is $12 per day.

Annual Pass Upgrade:
At the time of our visit, you could upgrade your one day ticket to a two-day ticket or annual pass while you are at the park.

The 2-day upgrade was $15 per ticket —not bad — but must be used within 10 days.

An upgrade to an Annual Pass was $50 (+ tax)  for adults and $30 for children. It is good one year from the date of purchase and does NOT include $12 parking.

We haggled over whether or not to upgrade to an annual pass. In the end, we did not, mostly because of the 1 1/2 hour drive through rush hour traffic each way and because it wouldn’t include the water park when it opens next spring/summer. We probably should have though.

Overall, we went on a good day. Granted, it was the Monday after grand opening, but the park (and parking lot) were pretty empty and we had virtually no waits all day.  If it had been sunny, crowded, and in the middle of summer, it would have been hard to see as much by the early closing time of 5 p.m. We did not get to see every attraction as it was.

The grounds were lush and nicely landscaped. The Lego characters scattered throughout the park were as much fun as the rides.  Keep your eyes open to spot “wildlife” around the rushing waterfall and study the details of the “people” around the park.


This park is perfect for elementary aged boys. I’m not trying to sound sexist, but I personally don’t know too many girls who prefer blocks to Barbies. Yes, certainly some girls will dig it (I would have when I was a kid), but if they are more into princesses and fairies take them to Disney instead.  If you only have children under age 5 and under 42″ I would wait to go. The rides are geared to kids but not toddlers.

In the end, my son could not decide upon his favorite part of the day. He loved each ride, store, figure, and show. His only disappointments: he couldn’t make a Captain Rex figure and Legoland wasn’t located next door to our house with $5 admission.  WIN.

**If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer it for you.