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 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!

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

January 2018

We kicked off our year in the way most parents of 1-year olds do… ASLEEP! Brandon and I put Ben to sleep around 9, popped open some bubbly (sparkling apple juice 😂) while watching an episode of Parks and Rec, and were in bed by 10:30.

*cue the grandma/ grandpa comments*

I know, we sound SO lame for some 20- somethings. But talk to me when you know your baby will be bright-eyed and ready to climb furniture eat the dog’s food destroy the house play just a few hours after you fell asleep. No one said keeping the kids alive making responsible parenting choices was easy all the time 🙄

We still had an amazing New Year’s Day, albeit a cold one here in Ohio. Brandon was off work so we spent the day hibernating and playing with our new Christmas gifts. We also booked our vacation for our 10 year anniversary in May! (Sidenote: I seriously can NOT believe we starting dating 10 years ago and got married 5 years ago this year. Time flies, and the older I get, the quicker the years seem to go.) We decided on a cruise, which is what we did for our honeymoon and it was amazing. It will be a whole new kind of fun with a toddler on board, and we are so excited to make vacation memories with him. I’ve been doing some research on taking toddlers on cruises. (Have you guys done it? I’d love to hear your advice!) The cruise being booked is also giving me some motivation to get back into working out, which I’ve neglected doing due to the cold and winter blues.

Ben has been CRACKING us up lately with his adorable personality. He is so independent and fearless, which is enough to keep this mama on her toes! He’s figured out that if he climbs Jack, he can get up onto the couch or coffee table. It’s like an undiscovered jungle gym up there! He’s also learned how to shake his head no, which he uses very freely and appropriately when we ask him to eat foods he doesn’t want to, or to get down from the coffee table. We’ve been taking him to play areas more to get some energy out, and he loves playing with the other kids. He’s the sweetest boy, always smiling, sharing, and curious.

We took him sledding for the first time after getting several inches of snow. He was NOT a fan of the cold, or maybe it was the dozen layers we bundled him up in. He could hardly move his arms and he kept tipping over from the weight of his coat and snowpants, which made him pretty upset, so we didn’t stay long. We’ll try again next year!

Any time we go to the store, Ben loves to wave and blow kisses to everyone, making friends wherever we go. He also knows lots of body parts and points to them when you say their name. He fake coughs and fake laughs, and it’s the cutest. He loves making others laugh, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was the class clown at school one day. He is the best boy at naptime and bedtime, and I’m so grateful. He will roll over and put himself to sleep in his bed. I couldn’t be more proud of the little boy he’s becoming.

We’re having a great month here, and if it’s any sign of what’s to come for the new year, I think we are on a great path! Thanks for reading!

(He almost didn’t make it to 12 pm for the toddler “Noon Years” celebration at the library, after missing his morning nap! 😂)