I never knew how much I wanted you...

Wednesday


Can anyone else relate to being that mom who only wished for a healthy baby, not a boy or girl, but then fell to pieces with emotion when you discovered your babes gender? That was me. I never expected to be so overcome with joy and excitement to learn I was having a girl, especially as a boy mom at the time. I truly never cared either way...or so I thought.

I can't lie, it has been many loads of pink and purple laundry, hair accessories 'till kingdom come and all the expected notions, but it has also been a delight to sit back and see my sweet little girl grow into the strong and beautiful child she is today. Strength is definitely her clothing. I feel so blessed for all of my children, however today I've stumbled upon her ultrasound and felt the wave of emotions roll over me as if it were yesterday.

I just felt like sharing, and I'd love to hear your story too...if you'd like to comment.
Have a wonderful day!

Craven Farm, local treasure

Wednesday


Have you ever seen a more picturesque farm? The tractor, the corn maze, the maples in the distance...and what you don't see are the huge hills and mountain in the right hand corner just out of frame.

The drive to Craven Farm is as beautiful as the farm itself. On the morning of our visit the entire drive was in a thick fog, which oddly enough created a magical feel as the road would wind gently past big red barns and quiet pastures. If it weren't for the chirping from the backseat, I'd say it was down right peaceful.

By 10 o'clock it had burned off and revealed an absolute splendor of color. If you love taking photos as much as I do, you'll feel like a kid in a candy store - and - if you're as lucky as we were you'll be met by this ornery feathered fella.

Go and see this farm, it's worth the drive all the way to Snohomish. I promise.

The corn maze is open late on Friday nights!!!
Friendly goats, a sheep, kittens and bunnies.
Tons of stable objects to play on and around like the shipwreck in the background or a retired pick up truck.
Stroller friendly fields! And even more important, clean port-a-potty's and proper outdoor sinks with soap and towels.


Resources:
Craven Farm website >> www.crave-farm.com

Located at:
13817 Shorts School Road
Snohomish, WA 98290

Open daily 9:30 - 6:30 in October
Have fun!!!

Handmade Halloween Owls

Monday


 "Can you make me a snow owl? And can I have a baby snow owl too?"
Here goes to another handmade costume. Made of fleece and felt from JoAnn Fabric, these were two very warm kiddos out trick-or-treating.



I saw amazing owl costumes on Pinterest of course, then followed the links to here and here. At first, I was SO intimidated, but in reality this was the easiest outfit I have ever made. 
Here's how I did it:
I measured my child's arm length and cut a wing shape out of fleece. Then I took my pre-cut (I cut all the feathers while watching tv the night before) felt feathers and layered them one at a time, no particular pattern. I ran a simple straight stitch, and repeated, over and over and over. Here is what it looked like: (pardon the blurry Iphone photos)



Easy. 

Once I was done with the wings I moved onto the hats.  I cut the hat shape out of fleece so that it would stretch, but used a combination of fleece and felt for the eyes and nose. I sewed on the larger part of the eyes but used a hot glue gun for the pupils and nose.

For my daughters costume I made her a sleeveless shirt out of felt. The felt is so stiff that it helped to hold the weight of the wings. I also quickly sewed in a loop of elastic at the elbow point and wrist and made about a 6" stitch on the collar of the felt shirt for each wing. It seemed to work perfectly.

For my picky toddler I sewed the wings onto a simple t-shirt from Target. It got the job done!

The lasting effects of hands on learning

Monday


Thatch ants make enormous piles in the forest and are known as cleaners and collectors. Learning by seeing these busy ants in person has made thatch ants familiar and fascinating to my kids. They could watch these little worker ants all day long picking up pine needles and scurrying around on their huge mounds. We learned that some mounds can have up to 40,000 ants!

I'm not exaggerating when I say that this simple moment of hands on learning got my kids talking about some pretty important things like:
teamwork
purpose 
life cycle
...and it brought out their sense of humor too. 

We never walk too far without one of them pointing to a needle on the ground and announcing to the ants "you missed one" (they think they're pretty funny...it never gets old).

If I were to read thatch ant facts to my kids at home, they would find it interesting but without being able to see them in person I don't think they would retain the information nor find it as fascinating.  I am fully convinced of the importance of hands on learning and taking school OUTSIDE. 

If you'd like to see more trails and outside activities that have worked for us, go to my Instagram account where I have put location tags which will take any guesswork out of it!


Tips:
"Interpretive" trails always have great signage for a hands on learning experience. 

This trail can be found on WTA website below:

More about thatch ants >> HERE

Delicious and simple Pumpkin Bread

Friday


My kids tell me this pumpkin loaf is better than Starbucks and they're dead serious. Enjoy my Grandma's recipe below.

Grandma's Pumpkin Bread
2 C pumpkin
2 C sugar (cut back from 3 C if you prefer sweeter)
1 C water
1 C vegetable oil
4 eggs
3 1/3 C flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp salt

Use 2 greased 9 x 5 loaf pans at 350 degrees for 60 - 70 minutes.
Feel free to add raisins, chocolate chips or top with your favorite nuts or seeds like we do!

This bread gets devoured in our house, so I usually have to make a few loaves which has been great for school lunches. After they cool, I'll slice them and tuck them into snack size ziplocs and then fill a gallon freezer ziploc full of those slices. My kids love the freedom to grab one for their lunches and one for a friend.

It also makes a great gift for teachers, neighbors and friends.
Enjoy!

Souvenirs aren't just for kids

Wednesday



Souvenirs aren't just for kids...they're for us too.

I believe passionately in supporting small and local shops in every town we visit if possible and especially when we've been fortunate enough to enjoy our stay. When I think of souvenirs the first thing that comes to mind are key chains and magnets that I know I'll want to toss in the garbage in less than a week, so I've come up with my own strategy.

I offer to buy our kids a bag of 'local candy or ice cream' and I buy a souvenir that fulfills a need! That way my purchase will have longevity because who really has money to burn? I won't have buyers remorse and I'll be reminded of the fun we had from whatever town that souvenir originated. The last souvenir I bought for myself was this colorful dishtowel in a print I've not seen in any big stores at home. I love it, and every time I see it hanging there I think of the hours I spent running in the ocean with my kids, and the cute boutique it came from. 


This colorful dishtowel came from the town of Port Gamble, Washington and is handmade in the U.S.A.

"You don't have to be a badass, just get off your ass and get out there"

Monday


One of the best quotes I've read lately was from Heather, on her Instagram account @hdavis2220 who said:

"You don't have to be a badass, just get off your ass and get out there"

That is one of my favorite lines, and the motto we adhere to in our house. My husband and I don't always know what we're doing or how we're supposed to do it when it comes to family adventures, so we try to learn as we go by asking a lot of questions and reading as much as we can find before we take off.  REI has been our go-to for questions about gear, especially when we found an employee who was also a parent of small kids. We utilize the www.wta.org website a lot, using their hike finder as well as reading the most current trip reports especially in the winter. Instagram has also been a nice resource to actually SEE what the destinations look like.

Our pictures may have people fooled, but seriously, we're just trying to get out there and make memories. We cringe at some of the stupid mistakes we've made in the past as we tried to venture out beyond our comfort zones in nature, but over the course of time we continue to learn, and grow, and make amazing memories for our family.

No bathing suits, no problem.
(Mirror Lake, Washington)

Gear does not have to cost a fortune...clearance parkas from REI, $40 snowshoes from Costco, $10 sled from drug store, and a school backpack stuffed with essentials. Definitely not badass, but it got the job done.
(snow shoe/ski trail near Lake Kachess, Washington)

I suppose I would call this post, 'a call to action' in the hope that it motivates some other family, who isn't quite sure they're badass enough. Remember that quote above; "you don't have to be a badass, just get off your ass and get out there". You can do it.

Tips:
Washington Trails Association website has a great hike finder so that you can set parameters to find the best hike or trail for you. It also is full of members who regularly login to share recent trips on each trail and the corresponding conditions of the trail as well as current photos. This is extremely helpful during the winter and spring months. Look in your state for sites like this.

REI offers a ton of free classes, July 30th - 31st. Look here to find some in your area:
>> REI Outdoor classes

Buy the gear you want when it's OFF SEASON

Costco is a great resource for affordable seasonal gear.

Online community resources:
Take a look at a few of my favorite Instagram accounts that focus on family getting outside and offer practical and fun tips on how to do it and where to go. Click through to where the featured photo comes from and that will connect you to even more people who are on this same outdoor journey!

@familytrails

@happylittlehikers

@childrenofmountains

@lovelifeoutside
by mlekoshi