Family, Traveling

Our 2018 (mostly free!) Family Bucket List

Summer is finally here! After such a long Ohio winter that I thought would never end, it feels so good to have the sun shining on my skin. Ben loves being outside more than anything, and would spend morning until bedtime playing in our backyard, if I’d let him!

He’s 18 months old, which is SUCH a fun age. It’s also such an ACTIVE age, and I’ve found that letting him run around outside burns so much more of his endless energy! Compared to last year at this time, when he was practicing sitting up unassisted and would roll everywhere he wanted to go, he is on the move this summer, which has inspired me to create a list of things for his curious little mind to see, do, and learn!

Here is my list of 42 fun summer bucket list activities for our family! (The best part? Most of them are FREE! 🤗)

  1. Splash in puddles
  2. Go to the pool
  3. Visit the library
  4. Explore the beach
  5. Go to a baseball game
  6. Go camping
  7. Play with glow sticks
  8. Have a popsicle bath (I got this idea from Suzy at busytoddler.com and LOVE it!)
  9. Go to Touch-a-Truck
  10. Go on a roadtrip
  11. Hiking
  12. Eat watermelon
  13. Find great deals at garage sales
  14. Go to the zoo
  15. Pick flowers
  16. Volunteer at church VBS
  17. Go to a fair
  18. Watch a movie outside
  19. Have a picnic
  20. Visit a fair
  21. Have a campfire
  22. Play in the rain
  23. Make s’mores
  24. Play with the hose / sprinklers
  25. Dance at an outdoor concert / music event
  26. Pick berries
  27. Play with sparklers (mom & dad activity)
  28. Go to the splash pad
  29. Lots of bubbles
  30. Go to a parade
  31. Watch fireworks
  32. Shop at a farmer’s market
  33. Catch bugs
  34. Take Jack to Dog Beach
  35. Play with chalk
  36. Make sandcastles
  37. Go on vacation
  38. Join a summer reading program
  39. Plant flowers / a garden
  40. Visit farm animals
  41. Make new friends
  42. Make someone’s day

As I was typing it out, I realized that we are well on our way to finishing the list already! We have been making the most of the longer days and have made so many memories. What’s on your family’s list of fun things to do this summer? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Here are some photos of our summer so far (scroll over each image to read about it)!

Family, Traveling, Uncategorized

Ben’s First Camping Trip

Hello, everyone!

We are well into the week now, and man, this one really seems to be flying by for me.  Anyone else?  Brandon, Ben, Jack, & I went on Ben’s first camping trip to a lake about 45 minutes from our house over the weekend.  We had heard amazing things about this place, but for some reason, had never been.  My goodness, it was so beautiful!  We are already excited to go back!  We met my parents there, who were camping for the whole weekend.  They let us set our little tent up on their campsite, and we were so anxious to make s’mores and something called “Woofem Pies” on the fire.

The day was scorching hot, so the lake felt amazing.  We took their new kayaks out for a try (which only made us want to get kayaks even more than we already do!), and were  having the best time.  Jack even went in for an impromptu swim at the lake while I was letting him get a drink.  I should’ve known better than to trust a lab around water to just “get a drink”… I ended up bouncing all over some huge rocks as he dragged me around so he could cool off and splash around!  We went back to the campsite for lunch and to swim in the pool.  Ben LOVES the water, and it makes me so proud that he is so comfortable around it like I’ve always been.  He was one tired little fish!  It was so sunny and beautiful.  The forecast was showing this perfect weather all weekend… no rain in sight…

and then it rained.

I mean, RAINED.  Out of no where, it began DOWNPOURING and hailing.  The wind picked up and I don’t think I’ve ever seen it rain so hard in my life!  It didn’t take long until we were all completely drenched.  Actually, that’s an understatement.  I don’t think I could’ve gotten more wet if I was submerged in water.  And since the storm was so sudden and unexpected, our tent window was wide open, and it was like we were inviting the water in.  Our air mattress almost became a raft that floated away, had our tent not been steaked into the ground.  But just as quickly as it came on, the rain stopped, the hail melted, and the sun was out again.  We couldn’t do anything but laugh as we tried to wring everything we owned out to dry in the sun.

Well, it ended doing that again about an hour later, with another bad storm to follow.  Others in the campground were losing their tents, their canopies… everything.  No one even saw the storm coming.  Pairing that with Ben being SO exhausted but having trouble falling asleep in such a weird place, with a sopping wet dog that is terrified of storms, and the fact that we clearly weren’t as prepared as I tried to be, we decided it was best if we just made a late night drive home to all sleep in our DRY, cool beds before the next storm came.

To make a long story short, Ben’s first camping trip was just a long day trip.  We are planning a more prepared (and hopefully overnight!) camping trip later this summer, and I will share with you all how it goes!

I keep thinking about ‘if Id known, I would’ve done *this* differently’, but I’m trying to stop myself when those thoughts creep up.  The thing is, I did the best I could based on the forecast I saw and for our first night in a tiny tent with a baby and a dog.  I planned, prepared, and packed, but sometimes, God has other plans.  I’m thankful we had an amazing day, we got to see my family, and that the drive was short enough to make it home that night to sleep in our beds.  We made some amazing memories, so all you can do is brush it off and laugh!  I’m choosing to look at life that way.

I hope you all decide that no matter what is going on in your world, you can change your mood if you change your mindset.  Take charge of your situation, look at all the good, and turn it into a positive experience!

Have a great rest of your week!

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Ben helping Brandon set up the tent
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Getting ready for a day on the lake! Jack is the most adventurous dog and is always along for the ride.
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Brandon and my dad going out on the kayaks
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Ben and my mom playing in the sun.  He loves his Grammy!
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Cooling off at the pool
Family, Traveling

“I think breastfeeding is GREAT! But only if…”

“I’m all for breastfeeding, but only if…”

No, stop right there.

If you find yourself telling a breastfeeding mother that you believe in breastfeeding, but ONLY:

  • If she covers up
  • If she does it away from everyone
  • If she is sitting on a public toilet hiding away
  • If she stops when the baby has teeth
  • If she stops when the baby reaches x weeks/months/ years old

… then I shouldn’t have to say that you are NOT actually for breastfeeding.

The only thing worse than someone that is against the most natural thing on the planet… the thing God designed our bodies to do– feed our babies– is someone that acts like they’re okay with breastfeeding (or worse, tells everyone they support it), but has all kinds of stipulations and fine print associated with their statements.

I’m in complete awe over the lack of education and support in America in 2018. I really thought we would’ve gotten it together by now. I’ve had blankets thrown over my baby’s head while he’s eating, all because someone else has felt uncomfortable. What’s the shame in him eating? If I had a bottle of formula in my hand, would you still throw a hot, heavy blanket over him on a sunny day, putting him in the dark and away from fresh air and seeing his mom’s face, all because you feel what we are doing is obscene and pornographic? What if I told you this was a woman that did this wholeheartedly believes she was supporting me and insists that she believes breastfeeding is great? This was after asking if I would rather sit on a public toilet and lock the stall door because everyone else was eating and I was “making a scene”.
Would you like to eat your lunch in a public bathroom or with a blanket over your head? I didn’t think so.

To all mothers and caregivers: do not be hesitant to feed your baby. Breast or bottle, in public or private, feed and comfort your baby. You do not need to cover up or hide away, unless YOU want to. Don’t let someone that “feels uncomfortable” stop you from giving your little one exactly what you know they need.
Mamas, please feed your babies WHATEVER you want, HOWEVER you want, WHENEVER you want, and WHEREVER you want, for AS LONG AS YOU WANT. You know what is best for your child.
The law is on your side, and no one can make you stop because they feel uncomfortable. Let’s be brave, encourage each other, and educate those around us of the many wonderful benefits of nursing our babies to normalize the beautiful art that is breastfeeding.

These (unedited) photos were taken by my supportive husband on our first vacation as a family of three, when Ben was 6 months old. We had just hiked the steepest mountain I’d ever been on, and the view from the top was breathtaking. It was incredibly hot and Ben was getting hungry, so I decided to skip the cover, even though there were people all around. The confidence I felt after a difficult hike and giving my son the healthiest, most natural food for him, with a view like that, was invigorating. When a woman nearby saw us and smiled, telling me what I was doing was beautiful, I felt so proud. Someone could’ve easily ruined that memory for me right then and there, but thanks to her encouraging words, I’ll never forget that moment.

The happiest baby is a FED baby! 🙂