Summer Book Reviews

One of the goals I had at the beginning of the year, when we all have grand plans of getting stuff done in the coming year, was to read more books. My goal was two books a month – easy, right?

I made a list of books to read, wrote them down, and then quickly became consumed with daily life and the busyness that comes with raising a constantly-moving baby turned toddler and an easily-bored preschooler. Needless to say, I only finished reading maybe one book on my list. Waa-waa.

Well, with this blog, I was accepted into a few blogger review programs of various publishers and will be forced to read and write reviews.

This summer, I picked three books to review and could not have chosen any better ones for this time in my life. All of these books are wonderful and are all Field Trip Family approved!

Wow!: The Good News in Four Words

This is a picture book geared toward preschoolers and presents the gospel message in a simple, rhyming style. It breaks up the gospel into four memorable words: Wow, Uh-Oh, Yes, and Ahh. I love the colorful and inviting illustrations and the musical flow of the wording. At the end of the book, there are Bible verse references in the “For Further Study” section, where you can spend some time in the Word with your children beyond this basic book. This is a wonderful presentation of the gospel to young children and an easy, fun and age-appropriate way for parents to introduce or reinforce God’s salvation plan.

8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids

Parenting is hard. It’s probably one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life so far. This is a terrific book packed with so many practical and helpful tips and tactics to deal with childhood behaviors and issues. I like how the book is broken up into several short chapters of only a few pages, which is ideal for busy parents. I tore through this book and finished it in one weekend. At the end of each chapter, the author highlights a useful tip that you can quickly revisit if you want to refer back to the book, which I expect to be doing in the future. He also includes specific illustrations and examples, which were especially useful. The concepts in this book are not particularly novel or revolutionary, however, if applied to your own parenting, could possibly revolutionize the future for your children. This is definitely a book I recommend for any parent.

The 5 Love Languages of Children: The Secret to Loving Children Effectively

As with probably most people, I was familiar with and had read The 5 Love Languages long ago before getting married and having kids. The actual love languages were not new to me, but I was very interested in how it applied to the parent-child relationship. As I read through this book, I realized just how timely and appropriate this book was and was so thankful for the encouraging, yet challenging, words and the practical help and ideas presented. The author also includes specific examples of ways to display each of the love languages to your children, which I found to be particularly beneficial. Every parent needs to reach the hearts of their children to really make a positive impact, and this book can help parents do just that. This is a must read for all parents.


(Disclosure: Field Trip Family received these complimentary books from the publishers in exchange for honest reviews. We have also included affiliate links if you wish to purchase these books based on our recommendation. Please click on the links to order your book so you can help support our blog. Thank you for your support!)

Omni Dallas at Park West Hotel Review

This past weekend, we traveled south down I-35 to the Lonestar State to meet up with some wonderful friends of ours. One family came from San Antonio and the other from the Oklahoma City area also. In total, there were six kids ages five and under. With that in mind, I had the task of trying to find a kid-friendly and budget-friendly hotel to accommodate our needs.

I searched several deal sites and review sites and was lured by the gleaming reviews, the fantastic value and convenient location of the Omni Dallas Hotel at Park West. I had never stayed at an Omni Hotel before, so I heavily researched if it would be a good fit for our little reunion.

They currently have a special promotion where you can save up to 25% off based on the number of nights you stay. Or, if you sign up for their free Select Guest® loyalty program, they will email you a coupon for 20% off your next stay (which I didn’t see until I had already booked our stay). You also get free Wi-Fi if you sign up, which was a major thing for us, because we don’t like to stay at places that make us pay extra for Wi-Fi or parking (which is also complimentary if you don’t valet and covered in a garage). So for around $100 a night, we were able to stay at this really nice hotel.

The main feature that attracted me was that Omni seemed to cater to families and kids. They have a program called Omni Kids Crew, where your little ones will get a fun backpack with activities and crayons and also get milk and cookies delivered on the first night. We didn’t get the milk and cookie delivery to our room, but we all already had our fill of cookies from the lobby and family lounge (more on that later).

Also, in the summer months, they have Dive-In Movies at the pool on Fridays and Saturdays. The website lists the time as 9 p.m., but the movies actually started at 8 p.m., which is much better with little kids. You can grab an info flyer at check-in for exact details of activities during your stay or watch the info channel on the TV. It was pouring down rain when we arrived on Friday, so we didn’t get to go to the pool, but we did go on Saturday night since the weather was perfect then. My kids absolutely loved swimming in the pool, and the baby could stand on the ledge on one side of the pool. The website said that there would be poolside snow cones, popsicles and smores on Saturdays and Sundays, but we must have missed it. They did have free popcorn, lemonade and water though. Which brings me to one thing I loved about the Omni Hotel…the snacks and drinks!


When we arrived at the hotel, we were greeted with delicious star-shaped, iced gingerbread cookies (and fruit for the baby) in the lobby, along with bottled water, lemonade and cucumber water. In the mornings, they had coffee and delicious pastries/cakes in the lobby, and on Saturday, they put out yummy chocolate chip cookies. Do not miss the refreshment cart if you stay here; it’s just to the right of the main entrance to the elevators, in front of the wine bar.

Since it was storming and raining like crazy when we arrived on Friday, we didn’t know what we were going to do with all our kids that evening. This is where I was completely sold on Omni. They had a family lounge set up in one of their rooms, complete with board games, video games, movies, coloring pages, books, adorable little chairs and beanbags, a cookie decorating station, popcorn, lemonade and water. We pretty much had that entire space all to ourselves that evening and let our kids run free and play. It was the perfect space for us and our whole crew and almost felt like we were just hanging out at someone’s home.


And finally, the most important part…the rooms. We all slept like rocks during our stay. Even though we were right by the elevator, we didn’t hear a sound and appreciated how quiet it was. We also really enjoyed looking out the huge, picturesque windows (although our views were of the highway and top of the parking garage). The mini refrigerator and robes were also much appreciated. The only thing that would have made the room even better is if there were a microwave, especially for families with kids and babies.

We absolutely loved our stay with Omni Hotels and highly recommend staying at this hotel if you’re ever in the Dallas area. Thank you, Omni for allowing our family to make fun memories. We hope to stay at other Omni Hotels in the future and write more positive reviews. I read that there is a new one coming this summer to Frisco!

(Disclaimer: Field Trip Family was not compensated in any way for this review. All opinions are our own. However, this post does contain affiliate links, where you will be helping support this site (at no additional cost to you) if you book through some of our links. I also evidently didn’t take very many photos of the hotel, so the image of the hotel and lobby are from the Omni Hotel website. You’ll have to check out our upcoming video tour for more of our own images.)

Our visit to the Exploration Place in Wichita

You may have never thought about taking a trip to Wichita, Kansas, but we recently visited the Exploration Place there and were quite pleasantly surprised. We were wanting to take a quick day trip somewhere within a couple-hour drive (because our littlest one isn’t the best car rider) and wanted to find something kid-friendly.

Since we have a science museum membership at Science Museum Oklahoma, we like to try and visit participating museums of the ASTC Travel Passport Program for free. We have loved this benefit and have taken advantage of it several times when traveling.

With our membership pass in tow and lunches packed, we headed up I-35 to the land of plains and toll roads apparently. Be prepared for stops at the toll booths when you’re traveling through Kansas. From the Oklahoma City area, the tolls will cost you about $2.50 one way. You’ll also want to pack lunches if you’re going to the Exploration Place around lunchtime because the food options are slim to depressing (envision hot dogs on rollers). However, the views from the eating area are quite enjoyable.

The Exploration Place is housed in a beautiful piece of architecture pretty much on top of the Arkansas River. With large floor-to-ceiling windows throughout, you can enjoy several different views of the river and the nearby Keeper of the Plains statue. Our baby also really liked watching the ducks swimming in the water.


Although this museum is not very large compared to others we’ve visited, it has many interactive features and has several engaging exhibits that my daughter loved so much she didn’t want to leave. Her favorite was probably the three-story castle with activities centered around medieval life. There were horses to ride, a play kitchen to cook in, a blacksmith room, dress up clothes and lots of little nooks and crannies with interesting hands-on elements.


From now until January 1, 2018, there is a special traveling exhibit on display called the Hall of Heroes. If you have a superhero or comic book fan in your family, it would be a great place to take him. There is a Batmobile replica, movie memorabilia, several superhero statues and different science-based activities. One thing that I did notice was that it was really loud in that area, so it was kind of difficult to listen to some of the displays with video or sound.


Also included in the admission is mini golf, which I thought was a pretty good deal. The 18-hole course is set right along the river, so you can enjoy the views outside as well (but don’t putt with too much enthusiasm because your ball will roll into the bushes and possibly into the river – not that I would know or anything *cough, cough*). There is also apparently an Exploration Park portion of the museum outside, but we ran out of time and never got to it or saw it.


We spent about five hours at the museum and probably could have stayed a little longer, since our daughter seriously wanted to play there all day long. But we all got “hangry” (especially Dad) and hot from playing miniature golf outside and the museum closes at 5 p.m., so we headed to a Braum’s down the street for ice cream (no trip is complete without ice cream) and dinner and called it a day.

If you are looking for a quick day trip or just something fun for your family, I would definitely recommend the Exploration Place. Check out their website to see what special exhibits may be going on when you plan to visit.

Watch a video of our visit here. 

Exploration Place Fast Facts

Address > 300 N. McLean Blvd. | Wichita, KS 67203
Phone > 316.660.0600
Hours > Monday – Saturday > 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. | Sunday > Noon – 5 p.m.
Website >

General Museum Admission
Exhibits* Dome Do it All
Members Free
Adult (12 – 64) $9.50 $5.00 $12.50
Senior (65+) $8.00 $4.00 $10.00
Youth (3 – 11) $6.00 $3.00 $7.00
2 and Under Free Free Free

Five visually stunning animal books

To round out our posts on animals and zoos this week, we have compiled a list of five animal books that not only provide educational enrichment for you and your children but can also facilitate a discussion on artistic styles. The illustrations and images in these books are visually stunning and engaging and can be enjoyed by all ages. We have not personally read all of these books, but we are solely recommending these books based on looks. Yes, we’re judging a book by its cover.


Animalium:Welcome to the Museum > The Beauty of the Beast: Poems from the Animal Kingdom > Creaturepedia: Welcome to the Greatest Show on Earth > Atlas of Animal Adventures: A collection of nature’s most unmissable events, epic migrations and extraordinary behaviours > The Big Book of Beasts

Field Trip Family is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. 

Ten zoo books & magazines for kids

To continue the zoo theme from the past couple of posts, we will share 10 children’s zoo books or magazines that we have read to our kids and enjoyed. These are probably all geared toward the preschool crowd, except the magazines may appeal to younger elementary-aged children. Below we have given a short review of each book, along with a key Bible verse that you can share and discuss with your children while reading with them.


1> Color Zoo // Bright and vivid colors and shapes make this the perfect book for babies and preschoolers. It is engaging and creative, using cutout shapes to form different animals. // “For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for Him.” > Colossians 1:16

 2> Curious George Visits the Zoo // If your little ones like monkeys, then this might be the perfect book for them. In typical George fashion, he gets into a bit of mischief but actually ends up saving the day. // “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” > Deuteronomy 31:8

3> Put Me in the Zoo // This classic rhyming book is good for early readers and as a read-aloud for younger ones. // “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” > Ephesians 2:10

 4> Good Night, Gorilla //  The simple text and cute illustrations of this book are great for babies and toddlers and make it a bedtime favorite. (We also get lots of laughs when the mommy opens her eyes.) // “You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thoughts from afar.” > Psalm 139:2

5> A Sick Day for Amos McGee // It’s a heartwarming story about friendship and caring for others. // “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” > Philippians 2:3-4

6> If I Ran the Zoo (Classic Seuss) // Inspire creativity and imagination with the fantastical story by Dr. Seuss. // “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” > Proverbs 16:9

7> Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? // The distinct Eric Carle-style of illustration can help teach babies and preschoolers their colors and animals. // “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” > Hebrews 4:13

8> National Geographic Kids // Not only do these magazines include stunning photography of various animals, but it also has educational articles, different activities and neat fact cards. // “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” > Hebrews 11:3

9> Zoobooks // Each monthly Zoobook magazine features a certain animal and gives interesting and valuable information. // “O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” > Psalm 104:24

10> Our Day at the Zoo // Read about how some kids spend the day at the zoo imitating the animals. This is a local book created for the “Read for Adventure” partnership between the Oklahoma City Zoo and the Metropolitan Library System. If you check out this book from any of the 19 Metro Library locations, you can receive a FREE voucher for four to the Oklahoma City Zoo from the library staff. The program continues until March 31, 2018, and you can check out the book multiple times. // “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” > Ephesians 5:1

Field Trip Family is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. 

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