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Family Adventures

    Adventures, Family Adventures

    Planning the Perfect Staycation

    It’s Spring and that could only mean two things - Spring Break and lots of birthdays to celebrate. My husband and I both celebrated turning 31 in March. This last year was probably one of the most eye opening years for me.  I realized that although memories last forever, it does not slow down how fast the years fly by.  It left me with a few questions: What do I want to leave behind?  What is important to me?  Where am I going? Where are we going?

    The one thing that became truly evident is that the only thing we take with us when we go are the relationships we have. 31 is a year that will be full of thankfulness; thankful for my family, my friends and the times we have spent together. And also a year of priorities - more time spent doing things I love and less time worrying about things I just can’t fit in. That brought us to Spring break. We had plans - plans to drive somewhere far away up the coast of California, drag the kids every which way and drive back. This sounded a bit overwhelming to be honest. Fortunately for me my amazing husband said “let’s just stay here.” Normally I would cringe at the thought of everything I would miss out on doing, but not this year. This year we had the most amazing staycation and it was spent laughing, snuggling and going on adventures. 

    Top 4 things you must do on your #STAYCATION

     “Life’s a beach, enjoy the waves!” The beach is our happy place. We spent 3 out of the 4 days and just played. In and out of the water, in the sand and all over the beach rocks. We had the best time watching the surfers and spotting all the crazy ocean bugs. We often take for granted the beauty that is hidden in the places we live. You may not have a beach but go out and find your “beach”. 

    “I took a walk into the woods, and came out taller than the tress.” Henry David Thoureu It’s all about the plans. We chose places we hadn’t been before, places we knew we could explore. We live 20 minutes away from the most gorgeous redwood forest, but have always stayed away because it’s considered a “tourist” destination and who likes crowds?! But we threw on our tennis shoes and decided to hike out their anyways.  We hiked along, laughing and talking. The kids oohed and ahhed at all the big slimy banana slugs and we took in the fresh air. Sometimes the “tourist” spots really are the most magnificent. 

    “Keep calm and eat a s’more!” Often times we go go go and get overwhelmed. The kids get tired and everyone gets cranky. The best thing to do is to sit at home and enjoy the place you have created together. For us this meant camping in our new gorgeous backyard. We had a fake fire and roasted s’mores on the BBQ.  

    “Therapy helps but so does sitting around the bonfire with a beer and with the people you love and care about.” Catch up with your friends. We had a bonfire without kids. We planned to hike out to our favorite spot with all the essentials. After beach number two and no available spots to build a fire we decided to sit in the darkness and eat our cold sandwiches and s’mores. It turned out to be pretty fun and silly. We drank a beer, we laughed, we talked. My husband and his friend showed off their muscles, by lifting huge pieces of drift wood over their heads. It was wonderful! Celebrate life and those you love. 

    Hope your next staycation is a hit! Let me know in the comments below how you spend your staycations! 

    Adventures, Family Adventures, Favorites, Parenting

    Why I Say Yes to My Kids

    Have you ever had “one of those days”? You know those days that seem like you just can’t find the happiness and adventure that goes along with being a mom. The days you long for a warm cup of coffee and a really great babysitter to whisk your kids away while you run away and get a massage? Yeah it was one of “those” days. 

    It felt like we were hitting a wall over and over again!  Austin & I  kept butting heads and on top of it Charlotte wasn’t napping.  My parents were in town and we were dragging the kids every which way. Austin was having little breakdowns and fighting me on every single thing. I was exhausted to say the least.. 

    My parents last day came and went and we said our goodbyes. I quickly loaded the kids up and headed to the gym. Austin was crying in the back seat and Charlotte was protesting in her own way. Neither wanted to go sit in a gym day care for an hour and they both were on the verge of losing it completely. Then Austin looked at me and said “Mama, can I watch trucks at the gym?”  That’s what he says when he wants to watch cartoons on our iPhones. My heart sank. I asked myself. Had every uncomfortable, awful situation led him to wanting to watch cartoons on our phones or watching tv? Do we constantly shove these things in his face to shut him up? When did we resort to this type of response.

    At that moment, I promised myself no more phones, no more tv and no more ignoring their requests (well maybe never but we needed to cut back).  My kids are 1 & 3 and they don’t want to be dragged around all day. They want to explore, play outside, wrestle with each other and snuggle. So this is how I said yes for the rest of the day and cut back on using electronics to soothe their every little need, or when I needed a break from them.

    • I put away my phone and listened to them. This was the easiest way to get on my kids level. Too often I’m distracted by social media.
    • I got on their level. I sat down and asked them what they wanted to do. So simple! I was in the car heading to the gym and I pulled over. I looked Austin in the eyes and asked what he wanted to do today! Do you know what he said? Go look at trees.
    • We did exactly what they wanted to do! I drove to the first tree filled park I could find and we ran all over! Dodging in and out of the trees and smelling trees! Yes I said it. Smelling trees, not flowers. He laughed and laughed!
    • What did he request next? A cookie. So this is the hard part. I couldn’t say yes to it! There had to be some healthy tradeoff. I suggested fruit followed by a cookie. He was on board 😉 We walked to our favorite bakery down the street and laughed as he gobbled up some yummy fruit.
    • Silly things first - on our walk back he found a ramp that was right by the bank and it was the perfect running ramp. He wanted to go up and down 3 times with me holding his hand. Guess what? We did it! We laughed and he loved it! It was silly yes but it was simple and made him so happy!
    • Make sure his needs are met - we got in the car and he wanted my phone. I asked why? He said he had nothing to play with! We immediately pulled out books and before taking off I read two. The whole way home I heard him reading to himself in the back seat.

    Will I put electronics away forever? Probably not. I don’t think they are the enemy or anything, but I also think there has to be limits. I am going to try my best to keep phones on mute when we are playing and having fun, after all they learn from us! And I will start saying yes to things that encourage them to explore and be happy. I love that Austin reminds me to slow down. To stop and to play and to enjoy this beautiful life that we have been given.

    Adventures, Family Adventures, Parenting, Tips and Tricks

    Raising Adventurous Kids

    Our latest adventure: CuriOdyssey in the Bay Area. It was our first free Sunday in a long time so we immediately called up Austin’s Aunt and Uncle to plan something fun. My kids are very adventurous and I am always looking for new and exciting places to take them. (You can find my top 10 tips for Raising Adventurous Kids below) While searching online for somewhere local that had indoor and outdoor activities I stumbled upon CuriOdyssey. Yelp doesn’t do it justice! The reviews were so-so and the pictures looked cluttered, but we decided to check it out anyways.

    Coyote Point is a recreational area in San Mateo. CuriOdyssey is an attraction within Coyote Point. There are also play structures, lots of picnic areas, grassy areas to play, boats, ocean trails and tons of other gorgeous things that make this area so incredibly special.

    Upon entering, we went straight for the animal exhibits. It was the perfect size for a three and one year old. Most of the attraction is gated and each area has a closed in structure. There were so many places to explore from the indoor reptiles to the bobcat exhibit. Along the exhibits there were lots of little places for the kids to stop and peek around. We came upon a neat little hut where we had a quick lunch while watching the river otters. 

    We then headed indoors to the hands-on exhibits. There were so many little discovery stations where the kids were able to touch, play, build and stack things. They had a blast! At the very end of the hall there was a light room. They handed us lanterns and we made our way through the dark structures and fun neon lights. Austin danced away as we listen to fun music and played. 

    Next time we visit, we will definitely plan a full day there. We didn't get a chance to walk along the beach and check out the boats or sit and watch the low flying planes. This place is number one on my MUST visit again list. It was fun for all of us and more than anything left both my kids exhausted. Both of them snored all the way home.  I couldn’t be more thankful for such a quick and fun adventure! 

    Top 10 Tips for Raising Adventurous Kids & How to be Prepared

    • Always dress for the weather. Which is hard when the weather in the Bay is constantly changing. We wear layers and prepare for anything from rain to sun! Check out my favorite layering pieces here. Don’t forget hats and sunglasses.
    • Pack snacks and then pack some more snacks and then throw in some water. My kids are hungry animals 24 hours a day. Without food, fun adventures quickly spiral out of control. You can find my post on snacks to go here
    • Find a place that has outdoor space available. We never want to be stuck indoors all day! I always look for places that allows for some real nature exploring. 
    • Pack a carrier or stroller. My biggest downfall when exploring is being stuck carrying one of the kids. Austin weighs over 40 lbs and Charlotte over 20lbs. Its always nice to be able to give one of them a lift when their little legs get tired. Find out why I love to carrier my kids in my post here
    • Be patient!! Exploring takes time. Make sure you plan out a good chunk of time for your adventure and allow for rest times.
    • Don’t forget to be spontaneous - Let the kids guide you. It’s there one chance to go where they want to go, discover what they want to discover and learn on their own along the way. Follow their lead and go with what works for them.
    • Create educational opportunities - Although you are letting them make the plans and focusing on their exploring, make sure to ask questions that allow them to think and brainstorm. Encourage them to use all their senses. Get their hands down and let them smell the flowers.
    • Make a mess - There is always time for cleaning up. We pack wipes and a couple bags for dirty clothe. Some adventures end with playing in the mud puddles and you don’t want to be stuck cleaning a dirty car after that! 
    • Share in the laughs, happiness, and wonders - Put down your phone and just be together. Don’t miss out on these moments. They will happen once and when they’re gone then they’re gone. 
    • Follow up that evening by talking about your adventure and all the things you discovered. Let them tell you about what they loved doing and their favorite parts. Use those cues to plan your next adventure! 

    For more information on CuriOdyssey check out their website here

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    Adventures, Crafts, Family Adventures, House and Home

    December Bucket List

    With the holidays right around on the corner I have decided to come up with my ultimate Holiday bucket list. This has helped me keep my promise to myself and my family to spend more time together and go on more adventures. We are usually rushing from place to place, getting gifts ready and running errands, but not this year. This year I want my focus to be on our family and ways we can spend more time together.  We hope to check each one of these off before the end of December. 

    • Tree Hunting

      This one was done in November! I randomly took Austin to the most precious tree lot and we had the best time running in and out of the trees. But come December we are going to cut down our own tree! A tradition that was destined to start. My husband is a city boy but loves everything about the country. If this doesn't’ scream country I'm not sure what does. 

    • Give Back

      This has been at the top of a couple of my lists. Why? Because it’s so close to my heart. It doesn’t matter how you do it, but showing compassion and love to the world is one way we can make it a better place to live. It’s difficult for my kids to give back at their age but a few ways we are this Holiday season is by donating things we no longer need. Austin has shown interest in getting his dad and grandparents gifts so I am taking him shopping at our local church. The money raised there goes to local families in need. 

    • Tree lighting ceremony

      There is something so magical about going to a tree lighting. Something we did in my small town growing up. There are so many in our area and I am making a point to take the kids to a few. There is also a parade of lights in our local park and we have loved making it a yearly tradition. 

    • Hallmark movies

      Clearly this ones for me! The same movie goes the same way - small town girl trying to figure out her life, falls in love with the guy, ends up getting married. They are just so addicting and it immediately feels like Christmas when they come on! 

    • Holiday Train

      The best thing about living in the bay area is that there are so many wonderful family events. There is a Polar Express train here that you get to meet Santa on. They serve hot cider and snow falls outside the windows. It is so unbelievably magical and special for the kids! It has become a tradition we do with our cousins.

    • Crafts

      We love crafting! Most of the time my kids make a mess instead, but I love turning their messes into little masterpieces. We have so many favorites that we love to do during the holiday seasons. I love to make special gifts for family.  Making gingerbread houses is high up on our list! 

    • Cookie Bake Off

      This is all Austin and me! Our hearts are made out of cookies. Sometimes I feel bad for giving him my insane sweet tooth, but now I have someone to share all the joys in life with! We love baking together (or I love it and he loves sampling).

    • Enjoy the COLD outdoors

      Build a snowman, go ice skating, get crazy with puddle jumping. Whatever it may be (or the weather may give us), I want the kids to enjoy what every season has to offer. It’s cold and yes I would rather be inside eating my cookies, but we need the outdoors. This year we are heading to the snow for Christmas so I am excited to share all the experiences I had growing up with my kids! 

    • Letter to Santa

      We did this every year as a family and it was a tradition I want my kids to continue. I feel like there are so many ways you can incorporate a kind heart into your letters. Austin has already been asking for some toys and I don’t think he needs everything he asks for nor do I want to raise him that way. For our letters we will be focusing on asking Santa to bring peace to whatever it is in their hearts. I know this will be hard as they are younger, but I think it would be great to start now. I want them to really think about what they want and why they want it. My goal is to incorporate some learning lessons into these letters.

    My bucket list will grow, just like our family is growing. These are simple December must do’s but the most important part about them is they encourage us to spend time together. After all, that’s what the Holidays are about, being with and appreciating your loved ones. 

    Whats  on your December Bucket List this year?

    Adventures, Family Adventures, Favorites, Parenting

    Our Thanksgiving

    The Holidays are so incredibly special to us and our families.  For us it’s about being together and making memories with one another. It’s so easy to get stressed out and forget the magic of the season. This is a list of our favorite Thanksgiving traditions, and the ones that we want to remember every year. 

    • Give Back  There are so many incredible ways to give back. We decided  to have a yearly garage sale and donate all the money. It is the perfect opportunity to clean out and to give. This year we went big with our Garage Sale to benefit Sonoma County Fire Victims. You can find my post on it here
    • Come Together  We aren’t super into watching sports but more about doing them! We love to stay active. So we have decided to have a yearly football game. As the kids grow it would be fun to attend a Thanksgiving run. There are so many marathons in our local area and it would be an amazing bonding experience for our whole family. 
    • Express Gratitude  In this family we craft, we DIY and we get super messy! I make it a point to craft every holiday and have the kids make special gifts.  We have found that by doing crafts it give us time as a family to reflect on who and what we are thankful for. For toddlers, this can be SO hard but while we work on our projects we talk about what they mean and why we need these types of traditions in our lives. Check out our DIY Thanksgiving wreath and our Leaf Prints
    • Family Time  There is truly nothing more special than family time. We love to go on leaf hunts. It has quickly become a favorite of ours! As the weather gets colder and our nights get darker, it is harder to come up with fun things to do! The kids are tired, its dark out and its not quite bed time yet. We love to pull out all the pillows and make a giant bed fort, grab out the pop corn and then turn on our favorite movie. Currently, we love Cars 3, Sing and Boss Baby. Although I think we need to throw A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving into the mix. 
    • Gobble Gobble  I like to include everyone in the decision making for Thanksgiving dinner and treats. Although it’s difficult to accept tiny little helping hands that create more of a mess, it’s important for us to make those memories with them. I want my kids to help with cooking and cleaning and to know what hard work goes into creating these beautiful Holiday meals. I also hope this will help them appreciate the food in front of them.  Check out our Pumpkin Protein Balls recipe!

    Serving others is also something I strongly believe in. I have been searching for somewhere for us to volunteer as a family. This year we are hoping to volunteer at one of the local churches but as they get older I hope to help serve our community in a bigger way. 

    These traditions are part of what make Holidays so incredibly special to us. We are blessed. We have a roof over our heads, more food then we will ever need and family that constantly supports us. I want my kids to always remember to celebrate all that we have and to give back to those that haven’t been so blessed.

    Adventures, Crafts, Family Adventures, Parenting

    Leaf Art

    Leaf art didn’t start as leaf art and that is the best part about most of our crafts in this house! We usually start with one project in mind and end up with something else even better in the end. One thing is guaranteed and that is a big mess along the way. I’m talking glue on the walls, leaves stuck to your butt and paint in the kid’s hair kind of mess. We love to make messes in this house.

    For a quick minute I forgot how young my kids were and I decided we were going to make these super crafty pumpkins for the Thanksgiving table. I had all my supplies ready and told the kids to dip the string into the glue and wrap it around a balloon. I handed my husband my camera and told him this is going to be amazing you have to document this! FAIL!!! with a big F. This is a project I will save for a night alone with a BIG glass of beer or wine. This is a 100% mom only project. One kid ended up in the sink covered in glue while the other was focused on gluing leaves to the wall. 

    Austin, being the artist in the house, immediately found something new to do with all our supplies and it ended up being so unbelievably gorgeous that I HAD to share it. It is the perfect Thanksgiving project for a one and a three year old. 

    First you must go on the most incredible Fall walk and find the best leaves possible! We found so many gorgeous colorful leaves (meant to be used for a different project) and we had a blast talking about the colors and being explorers.

    Next break out the paint and paper. Let your little one paint away. When they are finished paint the leaves with a little glue and let them stick to their painting. You can paint the leaves or you can paint around the leaves and then peel them off.  Now for the best part. Lay the leaf art on your porch on a rainy day. Accidentally let it blow off the porch a few times. And then, only then will you discover this most beautiful piece of art. 

    Beautiful fall colors with the most perfect little splatters of rain. I can’t wait to frame it and hang it up in our house. I adore this piece of art and the story that goes along with it. Most importantly I love that we had fun out of a “sticky” situation!!

    Adventures, Family Adventures

    Highway 1 Adventures

    We are so lucky to live in a place with endless amounts of outdoor activities. I find us craving the outdoors more and more as the kids get older.  They both love to run around and explore new things.  With Charlotte beginning to walk, I look for places that are very safe and have an easy path for our stroller.  One of our favorite stops along Highway 1 has always been Wilder Ranch. Easy parking, easy trails and lots of places to explore. 

    Wilder Ranch, if you haven’t been there yet, you must go ASAP! We had the most amazing Fall adventure at this beautiful place. Wilder Ranch sits right between the ocean and Highway 1. There are gorgeous trails for hikers, backpackers and horse back riders. The trails are stroller friendly and for the most part, safe for the kids to run on. The trail towards the ocean has a few cliffs which requires both kids to be buckled in tight in the stroller. 

    Today, we decided to check out the old ranch that is open to the public. Austin and Charlotte’s cousins joined us on this fun adventure! Upon entering there is usually a friendly horse to the right, but today he wasn’t around. We got lucky and watched the cows being fed. The cows were very noisy and the kids were beyond excited to see them up close. After feeding the cows, we moved on to petting the goats. The last time we brought Charlotte she was a few months old, and being able to touch and feel the animals was a whole new experience for her. 

    The kids loved running and yelling under the tunnel that leads to the horse pastures. They could have sat there all day watching the horse eat and stroll. It’s something we don’t get to see everyday.

    We can’t wait to come back and enjoy one of the many events that Wilder Ranch hosts each year! For a list of events and the history of the park check out this link here: 

    Did you know you can volunteer here? Something Austin, Charlotte and I will definitely be doing when they are old enough! To find information on volunteering at State Parks check out this link.

    Check out my Strawberry Fields post from last month for yet another Highway 1 adventure that you must do with your kids.

    What is your favorite stop along Highway 1?? Let me know in the comments!