How To Get The Most Out Of Your Pumpkin Patch Experience.

7 simple tips to getting the most from your pumpkin patch experience.

Over the weekend we crossed another Fall Bucket List item off of our list. We went to a pumpkin patch! Pumpkin patches, or farm fall festivals are a perfect way to spend a morning or day together as a family. We especially lucked out as we had a chilly morning that lent itself to the perfect fall vibe we had going on. We donned our long sleeves and set out on our adventure.

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So how can you get the most out of your pumpkin patch? Try following these tips!

  1. Plan your visit. The first step to ensuring a wonderful experience is making sure the pumpkin patch you choose is age appropriate. We looked into a few different farms and found one geared more towards toddler-elementary aged kids. There were some other options with activities more appropriate for older kids, and while they looked like a blast, we felt we wouldn’t get the best experience there.
  2. Pack snacks.  This step is vital. We actually packed a picnic lunch. It was especially key as we arrived shortly before our normal lunch time, and were all feeling a little irritated from having spent an hour in the car. We ate first thing so that we could boost our moods and have plenty of energy to spend on all the activities. A full toddler is a happy toddler. By eating first we didn’t have to stop or drag our toddler away from activities to get her to eat. Setting up our picnic lunch first eliminates any distractions (have you tried to get a toddler to eat who just wants to keep playing??) and curbed the desire for the not-so-good-for-you snacks and treats the farm offered.
  3. Bring Cash. Normally a lot of fall festivals, local farms or pumpkin patches only accept cash. Even if they do accept major credit cards you might find some of their local food vendors or paid activities like pony rides, only accept cash.
  4. Bring a camera. There will be plenty of cute photo-opts during your visit.
  5. Participate! Many places offer fun activities such as hay rides, corn mazes, duck races, scare-crow stuffing, and more! It’s a great time to try something new, like burying yourself in corn kernels or feeding a goat.
  6. Pick out a pumpkin. This is the best part of a pumpkin patch. Searching for the perfect pumpkin. Encourage your children to pick theirs on their own. We had Emmie help find our pumpkins by giving her specific things to look for, “Can you find Daddy a pumpkin with a big stem?” but after she helped us we gave her free reign to find her own. The result was a very proud toddler and a very cute photo.
  7. Lastly, dress appropriately. Dress for the weather. If your child is cold, they won’t have the best time. The last thing you’ll want to worry about is not having fun because you’re either too warm or too cold. When in doubt, dress in layers! Another great tip? Wearing shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty is usually a good bet.

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If you’re searching for even more ways to maximize your pumpkin patch experience you can bring things like themed books, hot cider in a mug, or a pumpkin patch scavenger hunt checklist. It also can’t hurt to bring extra wipes because sometimes you just get dirty. But a dirty kid, is usually a happy kid. I mean, just look at this cutie. She was covered in head to toe dirt, from falling, pumpkin hunting, and wiping her face, but she was in her element.

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Fall Bucket List & Free Toddler Scavenger Hunt Printout

A toddler inspired fall bucket list and free toddler scavenger hunt printout.

Fall is here and with it cooler temperatures. Living in Florida means we’re still going swimming, but we’re no longer swimming in humidity. <Okay, okay, no more bad jokes> Just because our fall weather looks a little different than what we’re used to, we’re still planning on having a lot of fun this season! Here’s a peek at what’s on our Florida Fall Bucket List:

Collect pine-cones

Decorate for Halloween

Wear boots!

Pick out a pumpkin at a ‘pumpkin patch’

Visit a farm

Go to the fair

Carve a pumpkin

Roast pumpkin seeds

Go trick-or-treating

Have a fall scavenger hunt

Drink apple cider

Eat apple pie

Go camping

Do a fall-inspired craft

Have an outdoor fire

We have already started checking off things on our list, and some activities we’ll be checking off again and again. (Apple cider anyone? Yum!) What’s on your fall bucket list?

Toddler Scavenger Hunt

Don’t forget to download your very own Autumn Scavenger Hunt for Toddlers to join in on our fun!

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Camping with Toddlers & Free Camping Checklist

5 Tips for Camping with Toddlers plus free downloadable camping checklist

We went camping with Emerson this past weekend and she loved every minute of it! The weather was perfect. Warm during the day but cool at night. We cooked on the fire, went hiking, and swam in a chilly river. I wanted to share my top 5 tips for camping with toddlers:

  1. Always pack a well equipped first aid kit, including remedies for your baby/toddler. The time you think you don’t need infant ibuprofen is the one time you will need it. It’s always better to be prepared in terms of safety than to be under prepared. Your kit should include things such as: band-aids, gauze pads, medical tape, antibacterial ointment, anti-itch cream, tums, acetaminophen/ibuprofen, pepto-bismol or similar stomach medicine, allergy medicine and other baby related medicinal items such as Aquaphor or teething tablets.
  2. Bring any favorite sleeping items. This is a must. Sleeping in a tent is so exciting, but at the same time you’re also abandoning the comfort and structure of home life. We made sure to pack items that would help Emmie feel secure when falling asleep in the tent, just as if she were falling asleep at home. We made sure to pack her very own pillow, her favorite sleeping blanket and both sleeping security items (lovey & sleep star). We extended bedtime and all went to bed together to help eliminate any bedtime anxiety while camping.
  3. Bring easy to serve snacks/drinks/foods. We like to cook our food over the fire pit but this means it can take a while before everything is ready. Toddler are notorious for having little patience when it comes to waiting for food. We made sure to pack easy to serve foods and drinks. We had things like single serving fruit cups, granola bars, cheese sticks & milk boxes all for easy serving. We packed a prepared jar of grapes for a quick healthy snack. We stopped any whining or fussing simply by having quick, nutritious snacks readily available.
  4. Pack versatile layers & store some in the tent. Temperatures drop overnight so while you might be comfortable and cozy in a packed tent, the moment you step outside you’re greeted with the chilly morning air. Packing versatile layers is essential for keeping toddlers happy. I made sure to bring an extra long sleeve shirt & sweatshirt into the tent when we went to bed knowing I wouldn’t want Emmie to leave the tent before layering up in the morning. As the morning warmed up we were able to strip down layer by layer and didn’t have any issues with being too cold.
  5. Get a toddlers version of everything. We bought Emmie her own sized camping chair, her own water bottle and she brought her very own owl lantern. I also had a small flashlight for her to use but she stuck with her lantern. By giving her her very own camping items she was much more apt to leave ours alone. It helped her feel like an equal part of the camping crew. Having her own items definitely eliminated any tantrums over “needing” something that we didn’t want her to mess with.

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We enjoyed camping so much that we have already booked a longer stay in a few weeks. There’s even been some talk at attempting a backpacking trip! If you’re looking to go camping with your little one anytime soon make sure you download my free camping checklist below.

Family Camping Checklist

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Destin Vacation

 

Last weekend we welcomed my in-laws down for an amazing vacation. We spent a good majority of the time playing in the water, either jumping the waves of the Gulf or splashing in the resort’s amazing pool. Emmie was spoiled with attention, ice cream and lot’s of snuggles. There’s nothing like a weekend with family to fill your heart with love, gratitude and relaxation.

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Rice and Beans: Dinner On The Table in 30 Minutes

I am always on the hunt for dinner recipes that take under 30 minutes. And dinner that’s ready in 20 minutes? I’m sold. I mean, I typically only have about 22 minutes of uninterrupted toddler free time , thanks Daniel Tiger! So I’m always trying to find ways of getting delicious, healthy vegetarian dinners ready in 30 minutes or less.

One of our staples is Rice and Beans. This recipe fills you up and doesn’t break the bank. It’s super easy to prepare, especially when utilizing a rice cooker. It’s a great base recipe and spicing it up, or mixing up the flavors, is a breeze.

 

Here’s our typical go to Rice and Beans:
1.5 cups brown jasmine rice
1 can of black beans
1 small red onion diced
2 cloves minced garlic
fresh cilantro
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
salt & pepper to taste
squeeze of fresh lime
fresh green onion

 

1. Cook rice following directions on the back of the package. We use a rice cooker and it’s amazing. I add water & rice, press a button, and viola! Rice is done in 20 minutes.
2. While rice cooks throw some olive oil in a large skillet/ wok and saute garlic and onions until browned/ slightly blackened. I like to cook over high heat to really sear the onions without making them too soft.
3. Rinse the black beans and add them to the onions.
4. Add spices and mix well.
5. Add cooked rice into bean skillet and mix until rice is evenly spiced.
6. Add a squeeze of lime juice, fresh green onion and fresh cilantro.
Serve and enjoy!











Some other favorite add-ins for our rice and beans:

  • Pineapple/mango, almonds & some cinnamon for more of a Jamaican jerk style rice& beans
  • Andouille sausage (for me), green pepper, red pepper flakes & cayenne pepper for New Orleans style dish

 

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Tea for Two: A New Baby is Due

Tea2Bfor2BTwo2B12BwordsTEa2Bfor2Btwo2B32Bwords2B2 tea2Bfor2Btwo2B42Bwords2B3 Tea2Bfor2Btwo2B72Bwords2B4Tea2Bfor2Btwo2B62Bwords2B5 Tea2Bfor2Btwo2B82Bwords2B6 tea2Bfor2Btwo2B132Bwords2B7That’s right! We’re expecting baby girl #2 in early February. We’re very excited to add a new addition to our family. I’m currently 18 weeks along and finally feeling good. I struggled a lot more with morning sickness this pregnancy and lost a bit of weight, which for someone with Cystic Fibrosis is the worst! I’ve finally managed to gain it back so we’re headed in the right direction. I was so thankful during the first trimester that Emerson is still a great napper because first trimester exhaustion was a struggle! Beth2B2BKyle2B3Beth2B3
All in all, we’re all very excited and looking forward to baby girl’s arrival in the new year. I hope you’ll follow along as we continue on our new journey as a soon-to-be family of 4!
PS: We had a blast taking these pictures for our announcement. Emmie thought our tea party was the most amazing thing of her life.
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On Love and Loss

I found out around the time of our Christmas vacation that I was pregnant again. Hence the long absence of blogging around the new year. I blame pregnancy exhaustion and hormones. So many hormones! This pregnancy turned out to be the complete opposite of my first. I didn’t feel an immediate connection to this baby, in fact there were days I forgot completely that I was creating another human. For that I blamed the other human I had already created; she kept me so busy I didn’t have time to dwell on the good news.
But at the first appointment we found that the fetus had no heartbeat and displayed no movement. And while I was supposed to be 10 weeks along, baby only measured at 7 weeks and 1 day. I had what they called – a “silent miscarriage.”
Part of me had expected this outcome. On the day I clutched my positive pregnancy test, I also had a very high, hard to break fever.  Such a high fever can cause neural defects. When my OB broke the news I found myself silently nodding my head in agreement. It made sense. The crazy surge of hormonal meltdowns last week, the skin breakouts and the extreme bloating. All my body’s way of giving one last try at saving the baby. No such luck; it just wasn’t meant to be. So imagine my cool-headed, hard logic surprise when at the mention of a D&C tears started leaking from my eyes.
I wasn’t prepared for this. I knew it was a possibility but I was certainly not prepared. We settled on a second confirmation ultrasound before scheduling the D&C. It was driving home that I realized what I was dreading the most; telling the man I love that our future was changing again. That my body somehow failed me us and the visions of two kids running around had suddenly vanished.

For a long time, I just wanted to get back to normal. I felt relieved at first. I continually told myself I was happier that I was no longer pregnant and that we really “dodged a bullet.” I was annoyed when my friends, my family… the people I care so deeply about kept checking in with me to see if I was okay. I was dressed and put together, I wasn’t sobbing in the evenings, I was moving on and felt like they were holding me back.
In reality, I was holding myself back. I was smack dab in the first few stages of grieving. Denial, anger, bargaining… you know the rest. I turned to wine to self soothe my hidden regrets and buried anger. If I wasn’t going to be pregnant I could at least drink. I tried to drown my “what-if’s”  in bottles of Chardonnay. And then one day it finally happened; the tears came.
I was laying on the floor playing with Emerson. I was voicing nonsensical thoughts while she rummaged around in the masses of toys spewed across the living room rug. Emmie was quiet, as is her way, but lately she’s been dabbling in speaking more. When she looked up from what she was doing and quietly stated, “baby.” I propped myself up on my elbows.
“A baby? Did you hear a baby crying? Is one of your baby dolls tired? Where is this baby you speak of?”
Then time stood still. She smiled a big grin and scooted over to me, lifted my shirt exposing my pale stomach and laid her ear on my belly. “Baby,” she said again using her little cold hand to pat my soft tummy.
I felt it. The icy shatter of my heart breaking. It hit me like a wave of winter air, a chill that steals the breathe right from your lungs.
“Mommy doesn’t have a  baby in her belly anymore, honey.” I heard the whisper leave my lips before I realized that I was speaking.  I held my breathe as I watched her face mimic the maze of emotions I was lost in. First, confusion with little furrowed brows and a slight tilt of her head, and then as she processed the words a sad little pout sprouted from her lips and the tiniest quiver danced across her chin.
“Does it make you sad that mommy doesn’t have a baby in her belly anymore?” I asked,  my voice still barely audible. The world fell silent around us. Another chin quiver and wide, sad eyes locked onto mine and Emerson solemnly nodded yes. Yes, it made her sad.
I didn’t bother to wipe away the hot tears now streaming down my face. “It makes me sad too darling. It makes me very sad too.” I scooped her little body in my arms and breathed her in. There we sat tangled up in each other’s arms and each other’s sadness. But most importantly we sat there huddled together engulfed in love.
In time my broken heart will fully heal. Until then, I’ll drink up every moment with Emerson. The smirks and laughs. The way she gleefully runs down the street doing her best to keep up with the big kids. Or how she throws her arms around my neck and squeezes so tightly I can do nothing to hold my laughter in. I’ll study how the light bounces off her golden hair and listen to her breathe when she snuggles close.  I’ll dry her tears when she scraps her knee again and hold her hand to keep her safe. And in time, perhaps, there will be a moment where I can watch Emmie’s face light up when we tell her she’ll be a big sister.

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Weekend Recap

Happy Monday everyone! May your day be short and your coffee strong! I trust that you all enjoyed your weekend. Our weekend included tacos & Dos Equis, a quick trip to the mall, cursing over the fact that it snowed Saturday night, snipping some fresh tulips from the garden, spring cleaning, and puppy naps in fuzzy blankets. It also included a few tears since being a toddler is hard work. 

Also, I can’t figure out for the life of me why my husband can’t figure out how to efficiently load the dishwasher. I mean, the guy has a PhD in Engineering for cryin’ out loud, you’d think he’d realize this is not the most efficient way to load the dishes. It’s because of the first picture that we have the agreement in which I load the dishes and he unloads them. It makes me chuckle every time I am greeted with the scene below. 

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Mid-Week Hustle

Someone woke up in an especially silly mood today. These blurry pictures capture her personality perfectly. Jumping, moving, laughing, smiling… it was a good thing we had gymnastic class today! Emerson managed to get some of all her pent up energy out. It was such a relief to have her running & jumping this morning, especially since we’ve been forced back inside due to all these chilly temperatures!

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