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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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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Sunday Funday: New Camera, Splash Pad Adventures & Keepin’ it Casual

As the weekend wound down we found ourselves looking for a quick adventure. After a few sudden showers it turned into a beautiful evening. We decided to take advantage of it and head to the local shopping plaza so Emmie could have some time playing in the plaza’s splash pad. Oliver joined in on the fun too, mainly laying on the brick wall watching all the kids running around.
I was keeping it comfy & casual with a thrifted over-sized tee, my Thred-Up* J.Crew shorts, and some clearance booties I recently picked up from Ross. I was also wearing my newest pair of sunglasses. I tend to wear my sunglasses straight over my regular glasses. While it definitely limits my selection of sunglasses, it’s a really affordable option while still being able to see. Prescription sunglasses can get very expensive! This way, I can frequently change up my sunglasses style. 
I also received my new camera over the weekend! I’ve been practicing a lot. I have been challenging myself to only use the manual setting. All these photos were taken on my new camera. I’m looking forward to capturing some great photos. Hope your weekend was a relaxing one! Now, please pass the coffee because MONDAYS, am I right?

*This is a referral link. You will receive a $10 shopping credit to Thredup.com. I will also receive a $10 credit if you purchase an item. 
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Weekend Adventures: Swimming in the Gulf Coast

This weekend we decided to try our luck out by going to the beach right around 11am Saturday morning. While the Hubster was convinced everyone else in the town was also going to the beach, it turned out not to be the case. It took us less than 20 minutes to get from our house to the beach parking lot. It takes me longer to get to Target! And let me tell you, the beach did not  disappoint.
Last time we went on a weekday afternoon and there were hardly any people there. This time, while there were more people than a Thursday afternoon, it was still pretty empty. We found a spot and hopped right in. The water was impeccably clear. It was so clear you could see all sorts of fish swimming around. I’m pretty sure we even saw one of these little guys:
The water was so clear that within the first few minutes, I spotted a pair of goggles drifting around underwater in the sand. I managed to grab them and we took turns swimming around with our new goggles looking at all the fish.

Speaking of fish. I ended up catching one! Don’t ask me how… pure luck, I imagine. I had been joking with Kyle that I wanted to catch a fish since it was so clear you could see them all around you. That and they’d swim right into your feet. Well, while floating around I sat with my hand out in a school of tiny little fish, which attracted the bigger fish, and ended up catching one of the bigger fish! It caught me so off guard that I immediately let him go, but it’s still a pretty cool story.
Emmie had a great time “swimming” with her Dad. Her favorite was when they would sit in the water and float/jump over the waves. The water itself was the perfect temperature. Just cold enough to cool you off, but warm enough to stay in without feeling chilled.
The crystal clear, blue, warm, seaweed-free water paired with the super fine, soft, white sand got Kyle’s stamp of approval. In fact, at one point he even exclaimed, “This is by far, the nicest beach we’ve ever been too… and that includes our Caribbean honeymoon!” We ended up leaving after about an hour since it was getting close to lunch time and nap time. It’s so nice to know that we’re incredibly close to an amazing beach. We can just hop in the car for a quick beach trip, and it’s not a big deal.

If we don’t end up staying in this area long term, I can definitely see ourselves coming back to vacation here. What’s your favorite vacation spot?

PS: Those saggy bottoms kill me! The struggles of dressing a tall, but skinny, 2 year old. The bottoms fall off but the shirt’s too short.

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Preakness | Bold Black and White Striped Skirt

This past weekend was Preakness here in Baltimore. Preakness is a Baltimore tradition that dates back over 100 years. It’s a horse race held on the third weekend in May. I think the thing I like most about Preakness are the hats! No Preakness outfit would be complete without your big, wide-brimmed hat. A bold black and white striped skirt, soft pink blouse, black wide brimmed hat and simple heels completed my Preakness outfit.

Both my top and skirt will be making more appearances as they are both included in my summer capsule wardrobe! Make sure you check back in to see exactly what else my summer capsule wardrobe will include. 

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Learning How To Use The Manual Setting On My Nikon-D40

Photos mean a lot to me. It’s such a quick way to capture an otherwise fleeting moment. Pictures preserve not only memories, but can capture raw emotions as well. I’ve been eyeing a 50mm lens for my Nikon-D40 for some time now, so I finally bit the bullet and put in my amazon order. And can we talk about Amazon Prime for a second? I ordered my new lens at 10:30 in the morning and it had a free same day delivery (courtesy of Prime). Um? Yes, please! 
When my lens arrived about 6 hours later, I quickly learned that the auto or programmed auto settings were not going to do my new lens justice. I had to dive into manual operation. The entire time I was fiddling and snapping away the only thought I had was, “You know nothing, John Snow.” [We’re re-watching Game of Thrones these days.]  I have a basic concept of my manual setting from one of my previous learning attempts. I ended up managing to snap a few decent shots. 
I’m looking forward to relearning my way through operating my camera on manual. I find that the best resources for conquering the manual setting are those online! I’ve actually read the manual for my camera (lame, I know) but found online tutorials much more thorough and much more helpful. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of camera tutorials and explanations from backlighting techniques to shutter speeds. Hopefully as I relearn my pictures will continue to improve, especially since a picture is worth a thousand words. 

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Blowing Bubbles // Enjoying Our Weekend Outside

We’ve been seizing every opportunity to get outside and enjoy the wonderful spring weather. Our toddler activities lately have included blowing lots of bubbles, spilling a lot of bubble mix, going for wagon rides with neighbors, eating ice cream sandwiches & home made popsicles and picking dandelions for a toddler-styled bouquet. 
Even Oliver joined in on the activities. He loves chomping bubbles and he’s never one to turn down a moment of sunbathing. Days like these where we sit and feel the sun our faces and the warm breeze tussling our hair make me excited for what Florida will hold for us. What will Emerson’s childhood look like where we’ll be able to head outdoors to play year-round? I can’t say I know what her childhood will look like down in Florida, but I’m excited to find out! 

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A Warm Weekend

This weekend did not disappoint. The sun was bright, the sky was blue, and our hearts were full. We spent the majority of our time outdoors. We visited Hopkin’s Spring Fair where Emerson fearlessly fed sheep, goats, and a bull!We went on the first hike of the season, ate ice cream, and continued our spring cleaning while warm breezes flowed through open windows. Yes, this weekend was just what we needed to recharge for the upcoming week. 

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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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Easter & Weekend Wrap Up

Have you ever had one of those moments where after it’s over you feel like you’ve just been enveloped in a warm hug? Well, our weekend was like one freakin’ humongous bear hug. We had my in-laws come down where we splurged on nice food, dressed up in fancy dresses, had an easter egg hunt, enjoyed a day full of sunshine, and three days of pure love. Weekend like these fuel you up and come Monday you’re ready to tackle it all. Your soul is happy, your spirit elated and life is peaceful. Thanks for such a wonderful visit Grandma & Grandpa O! We love you. 

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