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Backyard Nature Notes v.3

Well, it’s finally officially December in Wisconsin and it actually looks and feels like it. A complete contrast to the 60 degree weather we had throughout November, but fitting for where we live.

But the dropping temps didn’t keep us from playing outside…

Saturday, we went to get our Christmas tree, a yearly family tradition. The ground was still in decent shape (i.e. no mud or snow) which made the whole process a lot smoother. And though it was cooler, it wasn’t frigid.

 

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We like to get our tree from ANR Tree Farm in Wild Rose, WI (another reason to visit Wild Rose). The whole thing is a tradition, from the hay ride out to the field to the complementary yearly ornament, to the cider and popcorn afterward.

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And there she is. Our tree for this year!

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Where’s the little boy pulling the tree? See that hood?

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Oh, and on the way to get our tree, we actually spotted an owl!

Have you ever seen an owl in the wild? I have only seen one other owl in the wild in my entire life, so it’s quite the treat. But it wasn’t feasible to get it on the camera, so you’ll just have to visualize a huge bird you think is a hawk swooping out low in front of the car and landing in the trees. And as you look at its wings and face, you suddenly realize it’s an owl! OMG, pull over there’s an owl!?!

And then your hubby pulls over so you can try and get a picture and the people whose property  you’re trespassing on just a little come out to see what’s going on and the owl flies away. And everyone gets to see the elusive owl!

 

Sunday morning we woke up and our whole world had turned white. Yep, compare and contrast the photos above and below. 24 hours difference. Now we are in WI after all. It snowed most of the day (did you catch the Packer game? It was snowing during the whole game.)

We kept it pretty low key on Sunday, but the kiddos sure had fun in the snow. Kayne made a snowman and took his sister out in her puffball suit to play with the kittens a bit. This is the first time the kittens have ever seen snow! And they were very playful.

 

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Awhile later, Kayne came and asked if one of us could pull him around in his sled.

Well, you know what that kind of question does to a dad, right?

A dad thinks about how he can amplify that request times 10.

And since we don’t have any hills around…

 

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Yeah, so if you’ve ever wondered, this is what we do on Sundays, in WI, when we live the country.

The moral of this story? Don’t let the weather stop you from getting up and outside. A few layers and a warm place to return to and you’ve got an entire season to take advantage of!

How did you get outside this weekend? What’s the weather like where you live?

Backyard Nature Notes v.2

Horicon Marsh, WI

 

Last weekend was a doozy of an active weekend compared to our normal ones. We were barely home. We took a trip to the mall on Saturday for some Christmas shopping and on Sunday, we took a family trip to the Horicon Marsh.

We took a walk on what was left of the trails. They’re doing some trail renovations over the marsh, so our hike was a bit disjointed, but we weren’t ruffled in the least.

Oh the things you can see there.

Like birds of all kinds, including wild swans and many different species of ducks.

Swans at Horicon Marsh

Ducks at Horicon Marsh

And of course your standard woolly bears, squirrels, bunnies and chipmunks. Along with a little possum that was much too fast for pictures. (There is a chipmunk somewhere in this picture, I swear!)

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If there’s one thing in this entire world that I can teach my children, it’s to love, protect and take in all the blessings of nature.

Trails at Horicon Marsh

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I always find myself saying, “Kayne, do you smell that? That’s what fall smells like” or “Whoa, look at that cool-looking fungus!” I’m teaching them to observe, to appreciate, to really take it all in. I don’t know the names of everything (yet!), but we can still appreciate them.

And this girl, my little fairy nymph. Stopping to touch, point out, collect (and sometimes taste) everything. She loves looking at all the pretties that her momma points out.

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Afterward, we stopped at the McDonald’s nearby because it has toys inside. As though the trails weren’t enough to absorb all their energy, McD’s Playland did! Next door is an adorable little candy shop that we finally visited and got a little box of all.the.dark.chocolates. It was kinda symbolic of the sweet sweet day we had together, out in nature.

It’s still warm in November here in WI. We’re happily hanging onto every minute of warmth offered.

How are you getting up and out into nature this week?

Change Your Life on Your Lunch Break: Read a Children’s Book

Change your life on your lunch break

I’ve been toying with this idea for posting about how to change your life in small increments. I’ve even mentioned it on the blog before. And now, I’m bringing it to fruition because this is something I believe so intensely in.

You do not have dedicate hours and hours at a time to make changes in your life. Small pockets of time each day are enough to bring about major changes in your life. A half-hour here, 10 minutes there is enough to transform!

Welcome to my new series:

Change Your Life on Your Lunch Break

Let’s get started with our very first installment…

Today, I want to talk about children’s books.

That’s right!

Children’s Books are gold!

If you want to mine our human existence for little nuggets of truth, you need only visit the children’s section at your local library or bookstore.

We can’t truly appreciate the depth of the meaning packed into these tiny beautifully illustrated wonders until we’re older after all. Like all the best Disney movies, with their references that only the adults in the room understand. You can’t fully appreciate it until now.

What children’s books have to offer:

 

Golden nuggets of life advice
Children’s books distill some of the best paradigms and advice in life down to the most precious little stories. Kinda like fortune cookies: all the best little nuggets might have become cliche and overused over time, but usually their truth runs deep.

I still have a copy of Emma’s Pet that I found when I was younger about a little bear that goes out on a search for the perfect pet. Come to find out, her own daddy is the perfect pet. Tears me up every time. So precious. Family is everything.

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Teach yourself Bible stories and history:
K, so I’ve never been good with history. This coming from the model A student. I mean, it’s embarrassing really. But when I need to know about certain battles in history, I turn to the children’s section at the library. All the bite-sized explanations help me wrap my head around what happened.

And Bible stories? Make soooo much more sense when explained in a children’s book. I like to start with children’s renditions of Bible stories when I’m learning about them, because then I can go back to the Bible and glean a whole lot more after the scene has been set for me (usually in kid-friendly illustrations).

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Learn how to draw. Or knit.
Is it just me, or do adult DIY books sometimes seem a little convoluted? If I want to learn how to knit, I will pick up a children’s book on how to knit. Talk to me like I’m 12 so I can get the hang of it first. Hehe. Then, I might graduate to an adult book once I’ve got the technique down. I’ve learned other forms of art this way too, by picking up a kids’ book to teach me. I don’t need fancy techniques, I just want to learn the basics.

Feel all the feels
Seriously, children’s books are downright funny and adorable and heartwarming and they distill the most important life lessons down into the most beautiful words. If we could all understand the world like a child, how peaceful we would be.

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And magic-filled.

The Stars Beneath Your Bed is about how wondrous dust is. As adults, dust is a nuisance. But from a different perspective, there could be dust particles from stars underneath your bed! Paradigm…shifted! Magic.

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Maple is one of our newest favorites from the Imagination Library (thank you Dolly Parton!). It completely exemplifies the magic of being outside and hugging trees, like, literally. It’s totally hipster and just perfect.


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Children’s books say everything you wish you could say so eloquently.
This book, On the Day You Were Born just drips my melty heart into pieces all over the floor. It’s so special. I bought it for my son for his very first birthday and it’s about how the entire world is aligned on the day each person is born. The stars are in a particular arrangement, the tides are at a particular spot, the sun takes its rightful place on the horizon, and the world whispers in your ear “we are so glad you’re here.”

Ahhh, gets me every time.

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Promise me you’ll read a children’s book on your next break, will you?

I hope, even if you don’t have kids, you take a minute to stop by the kid’s section the next time you’re at the library or bookstore. The stories are always quick. And always potent.

I didn’t revisit children’s books until I had some little ones of my own, but I realize now how much I was missing out!

Just remember, when everything in life gets confusing…

The world seems so much more approachable in kid’s format.

 

Whatever you learn or piece of gold you extract from the book might be a great starting point for your daily journaling practice or a topic for your own blog post. I hope you’ll share!
 

What’s the last children’s book you read? Do you even remember? What were some of the memorable nuggets you took away from it?

Backyard Nature Notes v.1

Hey #flashers,

Today, I’d like to start a new thang here on the bloggie blog. Since we moved to the country last year, I’ve found that every week holds a bundle of backyard stories, whether that’s literally in our own backyard or “in our backyard” community.

Since our stories are unfolding here in nature, I thought it only natural to start a series about these backyard happenings, in hopes of inspiring other families to get out into their backyards and out into nature.

So, here we go…

Last weekend, Hubster dropped the kids and I off at a nature preserve on a whim while he went grocery shopping. The nature preserve was actually right across the street from the grocery store, so it was a win-win for all involved.

What we found inside was this amazing nature playground!

First, we spotted one.

A branch lean-to just a few yards off the trail. Kayne and Rayna explored it a little bit and got their pictures taken inside.

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Then, Kayne noticed another little fort just down the trail…and then another…and another!

They were everywhere around us!

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Like a little kid’s paradise!

I mean seriously, what kid doesn’t dream of a forest wonderland like this?

So, we explored as many as we could access, took lots of pictures and footage and made plans to come back again with my nephews for a secret hideout picnic. We’ll throw down our picnic blankets and pretend to “live” inside one of these branch homes for an afternoon.

I believe that this little section of woods is owned by the school system in the area, so I imagine that all these little forts were some kind of school field trip lesson. Whatever class this is, I want to be in it!

 

My little fairy daughter is a born nature girl. Both kids are really. From the moment they were born, I only had to take them outside when they were crying for instantaneous calm. But this girl…you can’t keep shoes on her. She loves to feel the real raw earth under her tootsies. I get that…

And you can’t keep the pinecones and leaves and flowers and all the things out of her hands. But really, who would actually want to take them out of her hands?

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And she loves the treasures of nature. We couldn’t get her away from this stump. It was as though she was contemplating the inner soul of what was left of the tree, wondering at its wound. All three of us started down the trail again, but before we knew it, Rayna turned around and went back to crouch beside her stump. Kayne and I had a good laugh, but I understood…

The weather in November in WI has been otherworldly warm. Near 70s last weekend. And we aren’t letting a minute go to waste. In fact, Rayna usually naps, but I kept her awake so we could just play outside all day.

And we did.

 

What did you do in your own backyard this weekend?

Fall Decorating Ideas

Fall decorating

As the leaves are changing and the mugs of hot cocoa are making their ways out of the cupboard, I’ve found myself in nesting mode. There’s just something homey about the fall season as the leaves change and warm layers come out.

Environment is one of those life areas that I’ve been building big goals around. I want to cultivate an environment around my family that is heartwarming, inviting and full of love. I especially wanted to bring all those factors into our home during this autumn season. I want my kids to feel that warmth in our home and maybe even form fond memories around the way our home felt or smelled during holidays.

 

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Now, I’m not big on decorating (or very good at it), but I decided that putting together a welcoming fall display would be the perfect way to bring all those warm elements into our home. Then, after thinking on it, I found myself with this huge craving to go shopping for some festive fall decor.

I’m not a huge fan of skulls and bats and all the typical Halloween decorations. Plus, I wanted something more versatile that encompasses all of fall and Thanksgiving, not just Halloween, so I chose a pumpkin/leaf theme with lots of copper color thrown in.


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I started at  Joann’s because I had a gift card and coupons for there. I landed a whole bunch of decorations and only had to pay $5. I got a large light-up pumpkin, two copper candle holders with matching copper candles, a string of feathers, a string of purple and black lights, and a bag of candy corn for the counter.

 

copper candleholder Joanne

Then, I made my way over to Hobby Lobby. There, I found a small ceramic pumpkin, a big burlap pumpkin, a glass tile, two ornate LED candles and some coppery leaves to make a garland.

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I love these glazed ceramic pumpkins!

Dollar store bottle

Dollar store glass jar and Hobby Lobby clearance LED candle

copper leaves Hobby Lobby

Garland-making TBD

Several days later I took a trip to the Dollar General for a few odds and ends and found a spool of ribbon with arrows on it ($2), two decorative fall sprigs ($1 each), a flower clip ($1) and one more burlap pumpkin ($5) that finished this perfect trio.

 

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Burlap and copper theme. Left: Hobby Lobby, Right: Joanne’s, Back: Dollar General

 

These are all decorations that totally fit my style. Not too kitschy, but still sophisticated, warm and inviting.

I made the leaf garland that hangs over the fireplace a few years ago out of felt leaves and yarn, but I may switch it out for the copper leaf garland once I make it just because that fits my theme better.

I also created a glass tile decoration that I will share in a post in the next day or two. So, be on the lookout for that!

Now we have a bit of festive cheer in my house that I don’t need to change out until it’s time to decorate for Christmas!! AND I can save all these decorations for the next several years. Winning!

We love turning on all the lights at night and seeing the glow from the sitting room. It’s exactly what I was hoping for.

 

Do you do any fall decorating? Where do you find the best deals? Do you have strong memories tied to the decorations that your mom used?

A Trip to The Butterfly Gardens of Wisconsin

A few weeks ago, the kiddos and I, along with my sis and nephews, visited the Butterfly Gardens of Wisconsin in Appleton, WI. We only found out about the place last year when we visited and we’re huge fans now!

During Monarch migration, they always hold a butterfly release event, which is the best time to go! For your admittance, you get one butterfly for the family to tag and release out in their back butterfly garden. It’s magical.

It was raining the day we went, so it was a little bit more difficult to get the whole experience. The boys ended up having to coerce their butterflies off their fingers onto a plant to let them go. I think it made the boys feel more connected to their monarchs though, because the butterflies didn’t want to leave them.

Out behind the building is this giant butterfly garden with trails through it in the shape of a butterfly. It’s really something. And it was just full of all kinds of buzzing critters last year.

Butterfly Gardens of Wisconsin

 

Inside the butterfly house, which is like a screened-in greenhouse, the butterflies were a bit chilled by the rain, so they were a little more difficult to find. But with patience, we found plenty of them. The docents give you a q-tip with sugar water on it to help attract the butterflies.

Butterfly House

Monarch butterfly house

Appleton Butterfly Garden

hold Monarch butterflies

wearing monarch butterflies

Stop and smell the……………butterflies?

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Please take note of the bare feet. This girl is a nature girl at heart, through and through. You cannot keep a pair of shoes on her, even where there’s gravel. Bless her heart.

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monarch on butterfly flower

Rayna and auntie monarchs

The butterfly gardens also have some other cool displays and exhibits too. They have this cool display of various butterflies from all over.

 

butterfly display

And turtles….

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And frogs….
Butterfly Gardens of WIAnd bees…….. *shudder*

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And we were lucky enough to be able to take two monarch caterpillars home to try to raise. We have milkweed everywhere by our house and a butterfly net, so we were equipped for the job.

If I would’ve written this blog post right after our trip though, I wouldn’t have to tell you that unfortunately, both of them are now resting in the ground. One died from the black virus and the other…we’re not sure.

But we are grateful for the time we had with them, because they were fascinating to watch. The tiny one grew literally before our eyes. Like, we’d go to work and come home, and he’d be bigger and there’d be huge holes in the milkweed we left for him.

We named him Eric Carle.


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RIP Eric Carle.

If you’re ever able to make the monarch butterfly release during the monarch migration, I highly recommend it. The Butterfly Gardens of Wisconsin is definitely something to see!

So tell me…do you find butterflies as incredibly enchanting as I do? Have you ever paid attention to the monarch migration?

How to Camp with a Toddler

How to Camp with a Toddler

Just try it. See how it goes. And don’t worry too much.

Toddler Camping

How’s that for a canned, cop-out answer?

But really, try not to overthink this. If you normally go camping every summer, then normal camping you shall go. The sooner you make camping a part of your newer child’s life, the sooner it will just become “normal.” Having a baby or toddler in the house doesn’t have to change your normal family activities. And it’s really not as hard as you might be thinking!

We were worried about how our little girl would do too, but we went anyway and winged it. Actually, we went last year when she was only10 months old. Having a baby? Doesn’t stop us from enjoying our favorite past-times. In fact, having Rayna there enriched the experience tenfold. Try going camping through the eyes of a one-year-old. Fascinating!

 

Camping with a Toddler

This is our camper and set-up. As a side note, that there umbrella-tent thing, the Sportbrella is awesome! You can fit two normal camping chairs under there and hang out when it’s raining or super sunny (our overhang needs repair). BYOS, Bring Your Own Shade. In fact, my BIL uses theirs at my nephew’s soccer games.

 

Ok, now let me give you a few more legit tips for camping with a tiny human:

The sleeping situation

So, Rayna still sleeps in a crib. And she needs to. She is a rolly-polly sleeper and falls off normal beds still. She also doesn’t have the discipline to stay put yet. Problem is, all we have in the camper are normal beds. And they’re the type of beds that you can’t hook a toddler bed gate to, otherwise we would’ve done that.

Luckily, our camper has a cabinet that blocks part of the bed, so I put her as close to that end as I could. I also added a full-body pillow to that side of the bed so she would be kinda nested in there. We think she fell out a few times: once when the dog took over her space (#sillypuppy) and once when she had rolled to the opposite side of the bed. None of this was dangerous though.

So, I would suggest using a toddler gate if you can, making a nice sleeping nest, and putting something soft on the floor beside the bed, just in case. No biggie.

Also, since toddlers like to get up after you’ve put them down for bed, you have to be consistent about putting them back every single time they get up. It actually only takes several times before they get the picture. The picture you have in your mind of putting your child back 50 times over the course of 2 hours while pulling your hair is way exaggerated to what usually happens in reality. A few times was all it took for Rayna the first day, and it got easier every day thereafter.

Inside Camper with KidsThe kids’ set-up: side-by-side beds with a pull-out table and a TV stand with their movie player.

The Itinerary

So, toddlers are not the greatest at kicking back in a camping chair and watching the fire. No, they are not.

So, we made sure we had a small excursion planned for each day (nothing too involved) that we were at the campground and we broke the day up into chunks.

Actually, each thing we did was like a mini event: prepare and eat breakfast, run to the showers and get ready (Rayna oddly LOVED this part), do a little excursion, come back and do lunch, go down for a nap, go down to the playground for a bit, gather wood for the fire, have dinner, wind down with a movie on the portable DVD player, go to bed.

All these little experiences were a great way to keep our toddler active all day along with us. while doing the things all of us like to do. Like I said, she doesn’t like to just lounge around, so we used what was available to us (playground, hiking trails, beach) to keep her busy.

 

Campground with Toddler

She swam, collected seashells, looked at the fishies, jumped off the dock into my arms and explored the sand.

Hiking with a toddler at the campground

Taking a slow family hike, collecting fun things in her hands.

Campground playground

Old-school playground

Normal Routines

While camping, it’s important to maintain all of your normal daily routines, as much for comfort in a new place as for practical purposes.

We did all our normal routines like bedtime teeth brushing and back rubbing, our normal morning breakfast, after-lunch naps, and those kinds of things so our daughter understood what was going on and felt secure in her new environment. We brought along all her favorite stuffed animals and blankets too, for her comfort.

Even the times that we did things like naps and bedtime were pretty similar to at home, so we didn’t mess up her internal clock either.

 

Kid-Friendly Food

We brought along a lot of non-cook snacks for the kiddos to enjoy on our trip like applesauce, fruit cups, oatmeal, trail mix and things like that. These are easy to pack, keep fresh and grab when needed.

There’s no reason to get anxious about meal planning for camping. Keep it simple. We have a camper with an oven so we like to cook the same things we would at home. But we also camp at a place with a grocery store nearby so we don’t worry if we forget something either. Actually, sometimes we leave the bulk of the grocery shopping until we get there.

Cooking hot dogs and S’mores over the fire is like a rite of camping passage, so don’t forget those supplies;) It’s one of those things that your children will form memories around and likely pass on to their own children, so make it meaningful. It’s an entire experience in itself, everyone gathered around the fire, getting the browning down to a science, and enjoying the food at sunset around a picnic table. Mmmmmm. Such brilliant memories…

 

The Dirt

Camping trips are one of those times when it’s ok (and pretty hard not to) let your toddler get dirty. We could not keep shoes on Rayna for the life of us. Every. single. time. we put them on her, she had them off within minutes. And really, who cares? Even though there were pine needles and pinecones poking up everywhere, we weren’t the least bit worried. Think about all the sensations your child is learning, the closeness to the earth they’re experiencing, the earthing they’re getting to do.

In fact, I often wonder about the sheer magnitude of stuff that’s happening in a toddler’s head when they’re in a new environment. Can you imagine all the neurons firing and brain cells being activated when they’re experiencing all these new things?

Rayna even stole my contact case at one point and used it as a sand scoop on the last day. I wasn’t bothered in the least. Not only do I have plenty of them at home, but I was happy to see her exploring the earth.

Pinch Bouquet

On one of our hikes, Rayna helped me collect “pretties” for our signature #fingerbouquets

It rained one of the nights we were there too, and Kayne took his bike splashing through the puddles at the campground. Totally fine! There were free showers where we stayed and that’s just what camping is all about! Let them experience nature in all its dirtiness! We sweat, we kicked mushrooms, we played in the lake water amongst fishies, we walked barefoot through the sand, we went down wet slides, and just plain got dirty. It was fun!

After the trip, when I was cleaning out the camper, I was amazed at the sheer volume of sand that was left in there. I sure do love getting it squeaky clean afterwards, but during the trip, getting dirty is just a natural part of the whole experience.

 

Things To Do

Even if you don’t want to plan any excursions or just plain aren’t near any, there are so many little things you can do with your toddler at a campground to keep them busy and engaged. We didn’t bring along very many toys, and you don’t need to either. Here are just a few that I came up with, many of which we’ve tried:

  • Do a scavenger hunt. For small children, just ask them to bring you simple items like twigs or pinecones. For older children, print off a list of harder-to-find items that they can be on the lookout for and collect throughout the entire trip.
  • Create a finger bouquet.
  • Bring along a wagon or wheelbarrow for them to collect twigs for the fire.
  • Take walks around the campground (this could keep them busy for hours).
  • Walk the trails nearby.
  • Visit the beach.
  • Bring sand toys to play in the sand. Our campground had not only a beach but also a volleyball court where we played in the sand.
  • Bring a guitar or music player and play music around the campfire.
  • Create a nature mandala, like this one or this one.
  • Find a new secret spot to picnic for each meal.
  • Make a fort.

 

I hope these tips give you some insight into camping with small children. And if you’ve had any hesitations or reservations about going, I hope this inspires you to give it a shot!

 

Pin this article for later:

How to Camp with a Toddler

Have you ever tried camping with a baby or toddler? How did it go?

What are some of your best memories from camping as a child?

 

 

What to Accomplish in Your 20’s

What to accomplish in your 20s

I was challenged recently to write  a post about navigating your 20’s. And since I’m a 20’s graduate, working on my 30’s masters, I do have some thoughts on what I would advise someone to accomplish in their twenties. (There’s a fun conversation going on about this. Check out this and this blog for more inspiring 20s life posts.)

First, let me give you a quick idea of the major accomplishments of my 20s:

 

 

  • Graduated college Magna cum Laude with a Bachelor’s in English.
  • Got married and bought my first house at 23
  • Got my first post-grad job and then my first actual writing job.
  • Had my first baby at 25
  • Ran a half marathon–my first ever race!

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Our First House

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All monumental things summed up in a quick matter-of-fact bulleted list, right? Ha!

Now, if I were to tell anyone in their 20’s what their 20’s bucket list should look like, I’d tell them this:

Start working toward your dream job: You might not land your dream gig right out of the gate, but there are always things you can do to MAKE It Happen right now! Start by volunteering in your desired niche, do some things for free. I created my own PR type writing volunteer job at a local museum. I didn’t just look for this opportunity, I quite literally made it happen by creating the volunteer spot itself. Doing so got me valid experience and portfolio pieces that opened me up to my dream job. You could always start your own business on the side too to transition into. I didn’t have any entrepreneurial people in my family willing to teach me about self-employment, and I wish I did because today’s digital business landscape is Fertile! (If you’re an English major, I’d love to be that person for you. Check this out).

Learn and master a few key recipes: Yes, this is one of those adulting self-reliance things, but it’s also about being healthy and budget-conscious. It will serve you well when you have a family, when you want to entertain, when you want to demonstrate your affection to a love interest;) You should learn how to cook more than a Pop-Tart and Easy Mac in your twenties. It’s good for your health, your bank account and your relationships. A few of the ONLY cookbooks on my bookshelf are listed on my Fave Resources page.

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Start replacing hand-me-down furniture with quality: one of the rites of passages into adulthood is changing out your secondhand furniture for new, good quality pieces. Start with where you spend the most time: invest in a good bed, a nice couch, and a treadmill, for example. Furnishing your homes with quality lifetime pieces will really elevate you into adulthood. And your environment can have a strong influence on your wellbeing, so make a home for yourself that feels like you.

 

Contribute to your 401k: when I took my first post-grad job, I was amazed when the HR guy showed me the chart about what retirement looks like if you start investing in your twenties versus your thirties. It’s like exponentially different! Start now! Even if you think you don’t need to start thinking about it yet. Plus, your employer’s matching program? That’s free money, people! Just do it! You’ll thank me later. And if you have kids, do the same with their college fund. Start when they’re born, not when they’re 5.

Build up good credit: you think being in debt is just the norm because everyone around you is in debt. Well, it’s not going to serve you, ever. So, starting now, make sure you don’t spend more than you make, always pay your credit card balance off every month, and make payments on time. When you go to buy a house or a new car, you’ll be in the position to get the best rates possible. I had college paid off before my loans ever even became due. And by the time we went to buy our first house, I had near-perfect credit scores.


Spend money where it counts:
The best things to spend money on? Experiences, education and other people. No material thing will ever come close! Travel as much as you can while it’s still feasible. Get your next degree right away while it’s easier for you to do so. And start creating space in your budget for giving back. You maybe did this a little as a kid, but it’s really an adult, humanitarian thing to do.

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Try to value your Time: When my son was born, I said to a friend “when I used to say ‘I just don’t have the time’ before, what the heck was I talking about?” Because seriously? Kids knock your time down by about 1000%. I’m not saying that to complain, I’m just saying it will be a big shock and adjustment. Even if you don’t anticipate having children, the more responsibilities you take on in your career, the less time you’ll have. You don’t know it now, but you actually have the most time available to you as you ever will. Do something wise with it.


Start taking care of your body.
You’ve likely stopped playing team sports and might even dwell in cubicle-land, so you need something new to challenge your body. Even though you don’t feel it yet, your body will become different in your 30s. Things will hurt that never did. And food will affect your body in ways it never did before. I know that makes me sound suuuuper old, but I’m not. And you’ll thank your 20s self if you start feeding it the best fuel and keeping it active now. Things will feel better as you grow older.

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Read self-development every day: become a better human. It’s amazing how your life transforms when you fill your head with all these empowering things. Try it, you’ll see!

 

Shed the judgement and cattiness of your school days and embrace compassion and love instead. It will get you everywhere. Ahhhh, doesn’t that feel better, just thinking about it?

Listen to your mom: as I’m going through motherhood myself, I’ve noticed we go from adoring our moms when we’re little, to becoming angst-ridden parent-hating teens to adoring our moms again as adults. Especially after having your own child. Moms, amiright? The first thing I did after having a baby was contemplate in amazement my own mother. And when you start repeating phrases your mom always used, you realize that you really should’ve just listened to your mom this whole time.

 

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Keep in touch with your friends: it takes a lot more work to get together with friends nowadays. Sometimes it takes great feats of effort to get together. You can’t just go and hang out on a whim like you used to. You have to make sure you make an intentional effort to connect and don’t leave it up to the other person. It’s too easy to become a hermit. And there’s a time for hermit-ness. But your friends are your heart, so don’t let them bleed away.

Find ways to give back: your twenties are one of the most selfish decades in your life. And I’m not saying that to be harsh, I’m just stating it matter-of-factly. It just is. Start taking time to find random acts of kindness, volunteer work, a cause to put your heart into. It will make you a better person.

DO NOT CONFORM: there are waaaaay to many people running on the normal, autopilot life. Don’t be one of those people. You have way too much beauty and rarity to offer this life. Figure out what and whom you love and run with it!

 

I know these are super fortune-cookie-simple pieces of advice, but they seriously sum up THE most important things about life in your 20s. I could go on and on about each one. They’re not simple at all. But given the context of this post, they’re straightforward as possible.

What about you?

If you’re past your 20s, what would you add to this list?

If you’re in your 20s, are any of these values ringing a bell?

 

~This blog was inspired by the fun minds over at Casper. Their Pillow Talk blog (love the name!) is really entertaining, check it out.

Wedding Weekend and Our First airbnb Experience

These weekend took Hubster and I to Madison, WI for a family wedding. It was a quick trip and it was just right.

For the most part, the wedding was adults-only, so we had to leave the kiddos behind. My friend Kristi, bless her dear heart, offered to take the kids for the day for her daughter’s birthday party. My mom picked them up from there and took them back to our house for bedtime.

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Anyhow, I love the Madison hipster vibe. I really need a dose of that every once in awhile. State Street, how I’ve missed you!

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We had our first airbnb experience this weekend too. And I loved it! Ok, so I’ll admit it does feel really awkward to stay in a stranger’s home when they’re going to be there. But for the purpose of this trip, it was perfect for what we needed. And I think it’s healthy in our individualistic society to reach out to new people this way.

We weren’t sure if we were actually going to stay overnight, so we didn’t book a hotel room in advance. Once we finally decided to stay last minute, I thought, well, we only need a bed to sleep in for the night after the reception and before brunch the next morning. Simple. Airbnb it is!

AND, the house we found was only three blocks from the reception venue, so we didn’t need to worry about designated drivers or anything.

So, for $50, we stayed in a room in an adorable bungalow with everything we needed: a bed, a shower and a place to drop our stuff. We were certainly welcome to use the kitchen and other parts of the house as well, but we didn’t need to. And our hosts were great!

 

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We tried not to make much noise when we returned from the reception and our hosts barely made any noise when they got up in the morning. So it was just a nice respectful way to get out of our shells and cohabitate with other humans;)

The wedding was absolutely beautiful. The bride reminded me of Snow White or some other beautiful dark-haired Disney personality. The food was great, the dancing was fun, and the caricatures they did were absolutely hilarious!

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The next morning, we were invited to the newlywed’s home for brunch and another family get-together before everyone headed home. It was nice to chill with everyone in a non-chaotic state and tour the newlywed’s new home.

Some of Hubster’s family is still in town for a few days, so we’re hosting a dinner tonight at our house which I’m currently getting ready for and looking forward to. Then, we’re off for a few days of camping before school starts again. We love this kind of travel–laid-back, not too far from home, keep it simple trips.

What do you like to do when you travel?

Do you have any cities that revive you?

What Summer Weekends Are Made Of!

This weekend was a weekend full of everything that summer weekends should be made of: outdoor picnics, live music, festivals, rides, sweet corn and fun houses.

Saturday, after getting the house cleaning done, our little family went to a benefit for our favorite long-time mechanic who just learned he is facing stage IV lung cancer. Though the circumstances are dire, the event itself was an amazing tribute to this talented man!

They had a really great cookout, a live band, lots of drinks, and a motorcycle rally. It was really quite fun! We tried to spend as much as we could on raffles and face painting and more raffles.

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Hey look, we spotted a church friend doing the face painting!

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After that, we snuck in our grocery shopping for the week. I am having the most delicious mother-of-a-wrap sandwich for my lunches this week. I haven’t even taken a picture of it yet because of its get-in-my-mouth urgency.

Sunday, we ran away to the county fair. We did all the summer things. Kayne and I went on all the rides. He’s 8 and tall now, so it’s so much fun to be able to ride all the big rides with him. And even some of the kiddie ones too, like the Fun House.

 

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IMG_1312.JPGAnother passing kid said “look, he’s a cowboy” and Kayne gave me the most “nailed it” smile. Exactly the look he was going for!

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We had to stick around and watch the demolition derby at the fair too, of course. Even the baby loves stuff like this! She said “uh oh” about 1,535,654 times. Haha! Yes my dear daughter, uh oh.

Then, my most favorite summer festival thing, the sweeeeeet corn! I looooove me some sweet corn. Best part about summer! I buy it at fairs, I buy it at roadside stands, I buy it at the farmer’s markets and there’s some in my fridge right now.

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We finished off Sunday evening with a good pool scrubbing and refill so we can enjoy this other novelty of summer. Meanwhile, kittens!

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They’re kid-friendly

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They can climb trees.

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 And they’re just too stinkin’ cute!

Anyone want one–or three? For real, we have probably 3 that aren’t spoken for yet.

What do your summer weekends typically look like?