for toddlers who love trucks

My little guy LOVES trucks, and pretty much anything with wheels. Garbage trucks, dump trucks, fire engines, tractor trailers, excavators, bulldozers — you name it. It’s safe to say that his toy shelves are becoming crowded with quite the fleet of vehicles.

Below are some of our favorite truck books and toys that help him uphold his obsession.

Truck Books for Toddlers | Claremont Road

1. Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site – This is a bedtime favorite in our house. Not only does Graham love it, but I love the detailed and beautiful pastel illustrations, and sweet little details like the crane truck who sleeps with his teddy bear.

2. Trucks Roll! – This is another one that I love for the illustrations. Unlike Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, though, these illustrations are bold and graphic — they’re great for helping little ones identify primary colors. We met our limit with renewing this one at the library… it might be time to buy our own copy!

3. Little Blue Truck – This super cute story also includes a cast of lovable farm animals, so Graham was sold the first time we read it! It’s a sweet book about friendship and helping one another, in addition to — of course — including trucks.

4. Little Blue Truck Leads the Way – A sequel to Little Blue Truck, it follows our truck buddy as he heads into the big city, battling traffic with everything from delivery trucks and double-decker buses to limousines and police cars. Basically, a vehicle-loving kid’s dream.

5. Bulldozer – Graham has memorized many of the simple rhymes in this book, so it’s a fun, interactive story to read together. The cute die-cut shape doesn’t hurt, either.

6. My Truck Is Stuck! – This silly little story is also a bedtime favorite, with a playful cast of dogs, beavers, and — you guessed it — lots and lots of 4-wheeled friends.

Truck Toys for Toddlers | Claremont Road
1. Melissa & Doug Car Carrier – We love the simple wooden Melissa & Doug toys, and this one can keep Graham entertained for hours. A nice bonus is that the cars also fit on his wooden train tracks, and his train cars fit on this carrier. Toddler. Mind. Blown!

2. Melissa & Doug Magnetic Car Loader – Since Graham loved his other car carrier so much, Santa brought him this one for Christmas. The magnetic factor adds a whole new element of endless entertainment.

3. CAT Tough Tracks Loader – The CAT toys are especially fun since they look like the real thing. Graham constantly corrects me if I mistakenly call an excavator a front end loader (the horror!) and he has a blast with this loader.

4. Janod Original DIY Truck – This wooden truck comes with a hammer, screwdriver and wrench for lots of building fun. It also has a leash that attaches to the front so it can be carried around accordingly.

5. Green Toys Recycling Truck – Green Toys are all made from recycled milk containers, so they’re a nice alternative to a lot of the other plastic toys out there. This recycling truck is a favorite of Graham’s and has lots of space for carrying/dumping things. He also has and loves the Green Toys Dump Truck.

6. Bruder MAN Fire Engine – This one is on Graham’s wish list, and no doubt he will love it. It’s an investment for sure, but with lots of moving parts, lights, a siren, and a hose that can really shoot water, what’s not to love?

All images via the links above; opinions are my own. Claremont Road is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

12-24 Month Favorites: Books

There are days when Graham’s toys go untouched because we’re spending lots of time outside or we’re busy going on adventures, but one thing we still do a good amount of every day is reading, no matter what else is going on. I love how much Graham loves his books, and that reading time together usually also means snuggle time (bonus for Mommy). He definitely goes through phases and will be obsessed with a certain book one week and won’t even notice that same book the following week, but for the most part the titles below are all in heavy rotation in our house.

favorite books: 12-24 months | Claremont Road


1. Little Blue Truck
A wonderfully illustrated book with lots of fun animal sounds, this is currently the book that Graham demands we read to him when he wakes up in the morning and when he wakes up from his nap.

2. Otis
I love this sweet story of a tractor and calf who become best friends; the illustrations all have soft, muted colors with pops of red and yellow, which is a nice departure from the sometimes blinding colors of children’s books!

3. I Love You Because You’re You
This one makes me teary on the regular, as the illustrations of a fox mother and son go straight to my sappy heart. Graham loves pointing out all the details in this one, like the cookies, the ball, and the broken airplane toy.

4. Flip, Flap, Fly!
A sweet and pretty exploration of different types of animals, this is another adorable mom-and-baby story told through rhyme.


These were some of the first books that Graham ever really paid attention to and showed an interest in. They’re simple, charming, and I love Eric Carle’s illustration style — not to mention the fact that they’re great for learning colors, numbers, animals, etc. From Head to Toe is the latest we’ve added to our collection and it’s SO FUN to see Graham act out all of the movements. Perfect for a two-year old!

6. The Very Hungry Caterpillar

7. The Very Quiet Cricket

8. The Very Busy Spider

9. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

10. From Head to Toe

favorite books: 12-24 months | Claremont Road

I could not love these books more — literary classics turned into primers for learning colors, numbers and the like — and we need to continue building our collection. They’re simple stories that leave lots of room for the imagination (such as the 5 marriage proposals page in Pride & Prejudice that we add hilarious commentary to for Graham), and the illustrations are undeniably adorable. You can even buy prints of the illustrations from illustrator Allison Oliver’s site.

11. Pride & Prejudice

12. Moby Dick

13. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn


We (and as a result, Graham) are creatures of habit, so we typically rotate the same few books during his bedtime routine. It has created a nice, predictable routine… which I’m sure will change now that I’ve said that. The below books are mostly short and sweet, and are perfect for prepping the little guy for sleepy-time. Big Dog… Little Dog is a sentimental favorite, as Nick and I both loved it as kids. Funny enough, we’re missing the staple Good Night, Moon from this line-up — we will have to get a copy of that to add to our library, stat.

14. The Going-To-Bed Book

15. Time for Bed

16. Big Dog… Little Dog

17. Good Night, Gorilla


I’d love to know what you’re reading to your little ones… what should we add to Graham’s bookshelf this year?

All images via the links above; opinions are my own. Claremont Road is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to


I pretty much want to be like Tina Fey when I grow up. She’s talented, successful, and humble. And she is one of few people on television who can make me laugh so hard that I cry.

Her new book, Bossypants, was a quick and extremely entertaining read. I particularly loved all of the anecdotes from her childhood, as she grew up nearby and references the Philadelphia area often. And honestly, I’d hang onto her every word no matter what she wrote, because whatever she has to say is always undoubtedly hilarious.

While reading in bed one night, I was laughing so hard that I shook the bed and woke Nick up. The stories of Tina’s teenage and college years are wrought with Liz Lemon moments… and, well, I guess her adult years are, too. Jokes and hilarity aside, though, it was refreshing to read that despite being successful and seemingly naturally funny, she honestly never expected or takes for granted any of her success. She worked very hard to become a strong and independent female figure, but still struggles to balance work, marriage and motherhood like anyone else would — the only difference is that she has a way of explaining it all in a way that will make you fall over with laughter.

Basically, if you like to laugh, read this book. The end!

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

It’s been several weeks since I finished reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and I realized I never blogged about it! A few years ago, I never would have picked up a book like this, but after hearing some great reviews from friends and news sources alike, and being a bit more interested in reading non-fiction these days, I decided to give it a shot.

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Henrietta Lacks was an African American mother of four living in Baltimore when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cervical cancer in 1950; she died at the young age of 30. While she was ill and being treated at Johns Hopkins, tissue was taken from her without her knowledge or consent, and so began the immortality of her cells, nicknamed HeLa. While other cells would die in time, HeLa cells thrived and multiplied, opening up a whole new world for scientists and researchers who were able to use the cells to cure polio, among countless other cures and vaccines. The cells also made way for a billion dollar industry in cell reproduction.

While the book recounts the history of how Henrietta’s cells became the most famous cell line in the history of science, it also follows the story of her children, who mostly lived in poverty and never saw a penny for their mother’s contribution to science.

Science was never a favorite subject of mine, so I had never heard of HeLa or even really fathomed where scientists began (and begin) to find cures and vaccines for diseases. While a few of the super-sciencey sections had me feeling a tad bored/lost, overall I really enjoyed learning about HeLa and Henrietta herself. It’s pretty amazing to think just how far science and civil rights have come in the last 60 years, but there are still a lot of questions and concerns when it comes to tissue ownership and patient rights. Henrietta started the dialogue that continues to evolve today.

I just started reading something quite a bit lighter — Tina Fey’s new autobiography, Bossypants, which is, so far, positively  hilarious.  I’ll be sure to let you all know how it is when I finish reading!

what I wore: four seasons, one closet, endless recipes for personal style

I’m so excited that Jessica Quirk‘s What I Wore book will be out soon! I’ve learned a lot from the style tips she posts daily on her blog, but I still always seem to have a hard time knowing what basics should be in my closet and at-the-ready for whatever may come my way. I look forward to getting my hands on her book when it hits shelves in August. Until then, it’s available for pre-order!

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White’s Books

You all know that I love my Kindle, but I still adore beautiful real books, too, even if it is just for the covers. I love how many classics are being brought back to life with fresh new cover designs lately, and this bunch from White’s Books (founded by designer David Pearson and publisher Jon Jackson) particularly strikes my fancy. Each cover was designed by a different illustrator and has it’s own unique aesthetic, but the type style and placement tie them together nicely as a series.

images via Creative Review, found via The Naked and The Read

If you like them, too, you can buy the books here.

Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain

In a matter of 26 hours this weekend — with sleep and family time also thrown into the mix — I read Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain by Portia de Rossi in its entirety.

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After seeing her on Oprah last week, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by Portia de Rossi’s story. I knew that she had been very, very thin when she was on Ally McBeal, and I remember being surprised when she came out as a lesbian, but I never knew that such a tumultuous internal battle plagued her for years. I always thought she was so pulled together and glamorous…when in reality, she was just playing the role of a confident actress while she was slowly killing herself as she whittled her way down to 82 lbs. and feared that the truth of her sexuality would ruin her career and her family.

The book mostly chronicles Portia’s journey to rock bottom and is an honest and insightful look into the mind of an anorexic. I have never had an eating disorder, but I think you’d be hard pressed to find a woman who hasn’t, at some point, wanted to lose weight or become more fit — Unbearable Lightness really illustrates how a lifetime of dieting and the pressures of Hollywood (or any career) can slowly and frighteningly warp from a diet into an eating disorder.

Anyone else planning on reading this one?

I Kindle, you Kindle, we all Kindle: sharing books on your Amazon Kindle

[That’s four “Kindle“s and the post hasn’t even begun!]

When blabbing on and on about my new Kindle, I got some comments and tweets asking about sharing books between Kindles, so I thought I’d delve a little further to answer your questions.

I was unsure about electronic readers from the very beginning because I thought it meant always having to buy books and not being able to share them like I’ve always been apt to do. Plus, I’ve always liked books themselves. When my mom and step-dad gifted me a Kindle, I was still admittedly a little hesitant about it. I had heard that you couldn’t share books between Kindles, but you could share them on Nooks (though there is a time limit on lending books, and you can only lend each title once). It wasn’t until I did a little Googling and found this post that I got really, really excited about my Kindle.

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The short of it: you cannot share or lend books to just any other Kindle user, but you can share an unlimited number of books (for an unlimited amount of time) with up to six Kindles on the same account. For some people this may be a drawback, because they may want to share books with friends without necessarily sharing an Amazon account (where credit card information is stored). If you have family members or other trustworthy friends with Kindles, though, it is an amazing way to share. Case in point: my mom has had her Kindle since last Christmas and has over 20 books already purchased in her library. By adding my Kindle to the same account, I had immediate access to all of her books, and it’s totally legal. Here’s how it works.

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The Help

My new Kindle has definitely awoken the book-lover inside of me. I loved reading when I was younger, but over the years I fell out of the habit of always having a book in rotation, unless I was on vacation. Blame it on the darn internet, always sucking me in and taking up all of my free time…

I’ve been wanting to read more lately, and a Kindle on my mom’s Amazon account (read: 20+ books that she bought for her own Kindle were already loaded for my reading pleasure!) has given me an awesome jump-start. On the plane to Chicago I started reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett, and I quickly got sucked in. I read during any spare moment I could find and I finished it within a week.

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This book was beautifully written and incredibly moving. I didn’t even read the description before I dove in, so I really didn’t know much about the story or what to expect ahead of time, and I think I enjoyed it more as a result (so I won’t give too much away!). Essentially, the setting is Mississippi in the early 60s, a time of turmoil and racial tension as the Civil Rights movement is gaining momentum. The book follows the lives of Aibileen and Minny, two black maids keeping the homes and raising the children of their white employers, as well as Skeeter, a well-off white woman who has just returned home after graduating from college. The three women have more in common than it may seem on the surface, and the story of what they accomplish with the help of one another had me anxiously awaiting each page (and in tears when no more pages remained).

If you haven’t yet read this book — you should! If you have — what did you think?

Simply from Scratch

Many moons ago, I worked various temp jobs over summer and winter breaks from college. One job that I actually returned to a few times (thanks to the fact that they liked me, I guess!) was in the alumnae association office at a local women’s college. It was basic office work — nothing groundbreaking — but I made great money and worked with some really nice people. One of those people was Alicia Bessette, who worked on the college’s alumnae magazine, and was one of the two people I usually spent my lunch hour with. A few years my senior, Alicia was kind, fun, pretty and smart, and she was someone I hoped to be a bit like when I “grew up.”

I hadn’t seen her in years, but a mutual friend of ours (the other lunch buddy!) recently mentioned to me that Alicia had written a book, and that led me to reconnect with her on Facebook. (Oh, Facebook — I love you and hate you all at the same time!) Coincidentally, my new Kindle (birthday present, woot woot!) also arrived last week, so I promptly bought Alicia’s book and dug in.

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I’ll try not to be biased, but I really enjoyed Simply from Scratch, and I think I would feel the same way even if I didn’t know the author personally. It was a fairly light read, but at the same time, it never felt “fluffy,” if that makes sense. The characters are likable, realistic, and developed in a way that really makes the reader connect with who they are and what they’re feeling at the core. The story stays fresh and unpredictable, and it is infused with personality and humor throughout.

The main character is Rose-Ellen, “Zell” for short, a 30-something woman still coping with the loss of her husband who died on a post-Katrina mission to New Orleans a year earlier. Zell’s days often blend into one another, marked only by her work and her outings with Ahab — her dog who “talks to her” in pirate-speak — as she continues to grieve and figure out how to make it through each day. Along the way, she connects with some kind-hearted new friends, reconnects with those from her past, and decides to take on the challenge of entering a nationwide baking contest (after turning her oven on for the first time in over a year). Following her journey of growth and pursuit of happiness is an absolute delight.

This is not just another story of a person dealing with loss; it’s a sweet story about celebrating relationships, new and old, and finding oneself in the process.

Buy Simply from Scratch here, and read Alicia’s great blog, Quest for Kindness, while you’re at it!