Monday, July 2, 2018

7 Summer Activities for Kids

It's the first Monday in July, and you know what that means? Mommy Style Monday! Today we're talking about fun summer activities! 

I feel like my whole blog this summer could probably answer this Mommy Style Monday prompt... haha, but I will condense some ideas!

In my podcast interview a few weeks ago, I was asked what a motherhood looks like for me right now, and I said something about having a lot of fun, and Jessica said something like, "most people with a 2.5 year old and 7 month old wouldn't describe it as a lot of fun!" Maybe that's true, maybe it isn't, but I wasn't lying! We truly do have a lot of fun. Because guess what? I personally, would like to enjoy my day and have fun. So I plan things that will be fun for the kids, and by default, I also have fun!! 

So, here are some summer fun ideas:

1. Take advantage of parks: In our neighborhood there are three playgrounds within walking distance, and a good handful within 10 minutes if you're driving. We love going on walks, Nathan rides his balance bike, and ending at a park. It's a great way to get the energy out, especially in the evenings before bed! But let's be honest, in New Mexico we're really only going to the parks in the morning or evening anyway because of the heat. Speaking of heat...

2. Splash Pads and Pools: We have truly enjoyed spending time at the splash pad and usually go once or twice a week. It's something both of my kids can enjoy, even with the two year age difference. I can stick Amelia by a small fountain and she plays happily, while Nathan runs from place to place, getting as wet as he wants! I don't even mind when they splash me, because it's so hot out! We also love to go swimming at the pool, but I like doing that with other people usually since it's nice to have more eyes on the kids. We put the kids both in swim lessons, and both of them are super comfortable in the water now, so with their floaties we have a great time!

3. Museums: For a good indoor activity, I love looking for children's museums. When it's just too hot to be outside but I need a way to burn their energy, this is the easiest! Here in Albuquerque there is a great one called Explora, and seriously Nathan could spend all day there. Back in Indiana there is a smaller one, but it's still plenty of fun! Look for a children's museum near you, and seriously consider getting an annual pass if they offer one. It's so nice to have a cool place to go on a hot day!

4. The Zoo and Aquariums: We love going to the zoo! It's a great place to walk around and it's so fun for the kids to see the animals. Our zoo here is pretty big, and it also includes a huge grassy area where you could sit and eat, so bringing a picnic lunch could be really fun too! We like to go walk around, and then take the train over to the aquarium.  I like aquariums in the summer because they usually have a lot of indoor areas where you can cool down!

5. Walking and Hiking: As a family, this has become one of our favorite activities. I mentioned walking to the park, but we also just went on a walk along the Rio Grande, and it was so peaceful! It's a great way to spend time outdoors and also get to chat and make memories. I love hiking to get away from the normal day to day in the city and truly enjoy the great outdoors! It's so great to foster a love of nature in the children as well. I love seeing Nathan get curious about the world around him, and he has seen so many cool things out on hikes!

6. Farmers and Artisans Markets: We stumbled upon an artisan market on our trip to Santa Fe, and I was so excited! I love walking around and seeing the cool things people are creating. A farmer's market can be fun to walk around as well, and the plus side is you know they have a ton of good food. We haven't been to one in New Mexico yet, but I liked going to the small ones back in Indiana last summer!

7. Home Activities: Back when I thought I might not have a car for the whole summer, I got really interested in activities I could do with the kids at home. Our friend gave us a water table for Nathan to play with, and we love going on our back patio and letting him splash around! Staying home can be nice, but I like to have activities in mind so the day doesn't drag. Some fun things to do at home with kids are play dough, baking a treat, making ice cream, drawing with chalk, coloring, building with blocks, and Nathan's favorite "playing cars". I found a great summer activity list on Busy Toddler, and I want to work my way through it!

One thing I like to do if we aren't sure what to do but want to get out of the house is look online at what is going on in the city. Most cities will have a calendar of events, and it's always stuff I never would have known was happening, but would love to attend! Albuquerque has a baseball team and we would love to hang out at a game some time! They also do movies at night on a big projector about once a week, and there are weekly concerts in the Old Town area. If you check your city or a city nearby, you'll be surprised how much they have going on!

I'm always looking for ways to entertain the family, and in turn entertain myself! We love to take it slow and then party hard over here, so it's been probably the most fun summer we have had!

If you would like to join us in the next Mommy Style Monday, fill out this form here. We post on the first Monday of each month. Mommy Style Monday encompasses personal style in mothering, meal ideas, outfits, activities with kids, marriage, and more! We'd love to have you.

Check out the summer activities these other moms are doing below!

Kiana at Glitter&Donuts
Erica at Everyday Airkaka
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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

New Mexico: Roswell

So a couple weekends ago (I know all of my posts have been starting like this haha, I'm trying to catch up!!) we took a weekend trip down to Carlsbad Caverns, a national park with an incredible cave you can hike inside. On the way there we passed through Roswell, NM which is the town famous for all of it's alien sightings. We decided if we were going to be there, we might as well stop and enjoy the quirky town! I mean, if we were already there, why would we pass it by?

Honestly, it was actually a fairly big city (compared to the miles and miles of nothing we drove through to get there). The funny thing about it was the aliens everywhere! Every gas station had an alien statue outside, and the lamp posts on the streets were all topped with alien faces. They definitely embrace their history! We decided to stop by the International UFO museum. It was a little creepy, but also pretty interesting.

 The interesting parts were the galleries that had tons of actual news articles from back when all the alien sightings happened. A ton of them have quotes from government and military officials confirming that there WERE aliens, and then a week or so later they would go back on everything they said and just say they didn't know what happened. So what do you think? Are we really alone here in this great big universe?? (twilight zone music)

Mia knows, but she won't tell.
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Monday, June 25, 2018

Amelia: 6 and 7 Months

Well! Turns out I missed posting about Amelia being 6 months AND 7 months (she turns 8 months tomorrow!!), my bad! In my defense, I did take the pictures, and I did write the updates in her Promptly Journal. I like adding into the blog as well though, more for traditions sake than anything I guess! I updated Nathan religiously for a year, and it doesn't seem fair to leave Amelia out!

Amelia turned 6 months right before our cross country drive to New Mexico. She was sitting up easily on her own! And once we got to Albuquerque, she started rolling around easily from back to front and front to back as if she had been doing it since she was three months old! (She rolled for the first time at three months, actually, but would only do it sporadically or when she thought no one was looking after that.) Her personality became more and more curious as she discovered how to move toward what she wanted, and grasp things easily. She started to enjoy a new game of me handing her a bin of toys and her taking all of them out. She began truly loving being outside, because of the warm weather, and she rode in the swings for the first time! Surprisingly she was unimpressed by the swing, but we'll try again. She still slept well, waking only once or twice and then going right back to bed. She tried solid food for the first time and LOVED them. She's a veggie girl through and through, and will down a whole jar of sweet potatoes in one sitting if you let her. Unlike her brother, she was skeptical of the fruits, and takes only a few bites before being done. Her hair is starting to grow in more, and much to my surprise, it's blonde!! I think she may have strawberry blonde hair like my mother, which I never expected in a million years. With Alex's genes I thought for sure we'd have all dark haired blue eyed babies, but the light hair came through on her!

At 7 months Amelia is working on becoming mobile!! She gets up on her hands and knees, rocking back and forth. Sometimes she does a plank. And then despite putting all of her energy into it, she finds herself only scooting backward. Our favorite thing is when she gets up on her hands and knees and lets out a battle cry, willing herself with all her might to go forward! And then, inevitably scoots backward again. We're confident she will learn to crawl in the next week or two! Amelia has become a lot more chatty. Where she used to only do high pitched squeals and shrieks (I called her my dinosaur baby), she learned how to say dada on Fathers Day, and now says dada, nana, and baba! It's so fun to hear her little voice (and also be able to hear my own thoughts at the same time). Amelia continues to be the most laid back baby ever! She never complains unless I'm taking WAY too long to get her fed and in bed. And even then, she just whines at me. She only cries if she's toppled over backward or something equally as unsettling and painful. Mia gets compliments wherever she goes on her beautiful eyes - right now they are blue with a lovely green ring around the middle. She's obsessed with Nathan and wants to be with him at all times. When any one of us walks in the room, her whole face lights up with joy and she does a little dance. We put her in swimming lessons with Nathan, and she completed them with confidence! It was so cute to see her little legs kicking in the water, just like she was supposed to do. She loves playing at the splash pad, and will play in the fountains for as long as I let her. We took her to our apartment pool, which for some reason is not heated, and she handled it like a champ. While Nathan was crying because it was too cold, she was kicking in her floaty with determination. We took her out because she was shivering, but she would have gone longer!

Baby Mia is truly a delight in our family. She can make everyone smile and laugh, and even if she has kept me up all night, I can't look at her without thinking how beautiful and perfect she is! She has us wrapped around her tiny chubby fingers, for sure.

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Friday, June 22, 2018

New Mexico: Santa Fe

A couple weekends ago we decided to take a drive. We packed lunches and snacks and headed out on the open road toward Santa Fe! Our original intent was to get there and probably just turn around, but we brought the stroller just in case.

On the way there we saw a sign for the "Mormon Battalion Monument" and decided since we are Mormon we should probably give it a little look! It was an ok monument, but the history behind it was really cool. The inscription said something about how the men walked for 2,000 miles and sometimes didn't have any food or anything at all. If you know the history, you know that the men were asked to come help with the Mexican war, but once they got there, they weren't actually needed so they just had to turn around and walk the 2,000 miles home! On the inscription there was a quote that said something about them paving a trail and building wells and stuff that would help people for years and years to come, so I guess it was worth it! 

When we pulled in to Santa Fe and got to the main street area, we knew we had to stop! Especially once we saw there was a fun market going on. I love walking around these things and seeing everybody's arts and crafts and jewelry! We ended up getting Amelia the most beautiful handmade Peruvian dress. I talked with the owner of that shop for a little while and she was so sweet and friendly!

I am looking at these pictures now and wishing I would have taken more pictures of people's products, but maybe that's weird anyway? I wouldn't want them to think I was trying to steal their ideas. There was one man who grows his own squash, and then dries and hollows them out. He then cuts the side open and constructs little buildings inside and puts LED lights in the windows, and they are Christmas ornaments! So you can hang the gourd and put a Christmas light in it and it lights up the cutest little scene! If only I had all the money in the world...

This church was the oldest Cathedral. The original was made of adobe and built in the 1600s! There have been a couple times of rebuilding and now you have this one, but the history is still very cool. Santa Fe is the oldest capitol city in the United States. It was settled by Spanish conquistadors in 1609, and it's the oldest European community west of the Mississippi! It's pretty crazy to think about. I don't often picture the west as being settled by Europeans at all that early, but I guess there definitely were people there!

The man who built these beautiful copper fountains wasn't a huge fan of Nathan being anywhere near them. Nathan wasn't touching them at all, but he thought they were so beautiful! The shop owner kept popping up and randomly telling me all the reasons kids could get hurt or whatever, so I took the hint and we left his area. They were truly beautiful fountains though! It amazes me that people develop these skills. Like one day he said to himself, "Hey, I could make a beautiful fountain out of copper. And I could sell it." and then he did! I'm always impressed by people who go forward with their ideas, because it's something I have a hard time with! I'm working on it :)

After the drive to Santa Fe we decided to be even crazier and we drove another 45 minutes to Los Alamos, which is pretty high up in the mountains. It was a gorgeous little city. I can't imagine living in a place with only one grocery store, but the quiet life does appeal sometimes!

The kids did great on our long drive adventure, and we enjoyed seeing places in New Mexico that are so different from Albuquerque!

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Thursday, June 21, 2018

New Mexico: Petroglyph National Monument

A couple Saturdays ago, we planned to go on the Petroglyph National Monument hike. You can see hundreds of petroglyphs and it's about 15 minutes from our apartment here! We plugged the monument in to our GPS and it took us to the visitor's center, so we walked in to check it out all decked out in our camel baks and hiking clothes, only to find out that the hike is actually a fifteen minute drive from the visitor center! Whoops. 

It was ok that we stopped there though, because we found the coolest little National Park/Monument "passport", and we decided to get it! A while ago, Alex and I were discussing how families always have a place they like to go on family vacations. My family goes to Oregon, Alex's family would go up to Bear Lake and rent jet skis, etc. We were wondering what we would end up doing with our little family and I said it would be fun to try to go to a different National Park every year! The Passport helped us to realize we still had that dream, and now we have a fun way to document and check stuff off our list! 

After we had made our purchases (Nathan got a new water bottle with the monument sticker on it which he calls his "Camel Cup") we made the decision to take the kids home for naps and try the hike later. I was a little worried about doing it later just because it would be wayyyy hotter later in the day, but Amelia was tired and didn't get why we had put her in the baby carrier to just walk around a visitor's center, so we went home. 

Later that afternoon we decided to just go for it! I wish I would have taken a picture of the hike from top to bottom, but the thought didn't occur to me! It's a super steep hill? Not a mountain, but fairly tall. You hike basically straight up some steep switchbacks. I was nervous for how Nathan would do, but he did AMAZING. He hiked the whole thing by himself without needing to be picked up. We held his hand on really steep parts or to help him climb over the large lava rocks, but seriously, I was very impressed with his stamina. We did, however, decide he needed some legit hiking shoes, because shoes with no grip make it a little harder!

I love learning about history and enjoying the world around me. To be able to see these petroglyphs that were made thousands of years ago and ponder on what they all mean was really incredible! We've decided we don't want to be the type of people who live in a place and never get around to exploring the truly beautiful things that place has to offer, and I'm so glad we took the time to have this experience, even if it was the hottest part of the day!
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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

New Mexico: The Most Expensive Meal of Our Lives

Another weekend, much like the Cliff's weekend, we were wondering what we should do for fun. I told Alex I had always wanted to go to The Melting Pot, but we didn't have to do it that weekend, and it would probably be more fun as a date... but we threw caution to the wind and decided to just go for it!

Honestly, we didn't know much about The Melting Pot except that it was fondue and fancy but seemed like it was friendly to children. So we show up, and they put us in a private room, because it was the only table available that was big enough for a high chair. Awesome! Then our waiter came in and he was the nicest person! He let us know that if we did the typical four course meal we would probably be there for two hours, and that he understood if we were not up for that with two small children.

Alex and I gave it some thought and decided to throw caution to the wind! We were there! We wanted the full experience! The waiter said if our kids got fussy we could shut the private room's door! What did we have to lose! And thus, we embarked on a four course fondue meal at The Melting Pot.

Nathan ate a lot of apples and bread and of course, the dessert. Amelia was well mannered but occasionally questioned what we were doing with some loud outbursts. Alex and I had an extremely delicious meal, and talked about how it would definitely be more fun to go on a date with friends to The Melting Pot, but that we were still having a fine amount of fun as it was. We never had to close the door because of fussy children. (It's quite possible we have the LEAST fussy children to ever have graced the public eye!! Knock on wood!!) I would go back for the dessert especially any day of the week.

And that, my friends, was the most expensive meal of my life. No regrets. Don't let the kids hold you back! #mynewphilosophy
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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

New Mexico: Daily Life

It might seem like all we've been doing in New Mexico this summer is partying and.... that's mostly true! But we do have a daily life where Alex goes to work and I'm home with the kids. It was tricky to find our groove in the beginning, but now that we're more settled, we've established a tiny bit of a routine.

Back in Indiana, I was getting good at having the kids up and going so that we could go somewhere by 10am. We had weekly library trips, park days with friends, Nathan's gym class, etc. When we moved here and didn't have a car for a week, and then had visitors for a week, we got a little thrown off our groove. Now we've made some friends, and I've figured out where the library is. We go to the park most mornings, sometimes with friends, sometimes on our own. Mornings are when the temperatures are much better for being outside. We also head to a splashpad nearby! Alex gets off work earlier and usually gets home around 3:45pm so we have time as a family in the afternoon before dinner is ready which is fun! We sometimes go to the zoo, sometimes go to the store or to the park together. The past week the kids have been in swimming lessons at the community pool which has been a blast! Sometimes we go over to our apartment pool and dip our feet in. The pool is not heated (why??!?) so that's about all we can stand haha. We spend A LOT of time outdoors here, which we are all loving. Sometimes we just sit on our back patio and the kids play with spray bottles and the water table. It's all very relaxing!

I forget that I need to be cleaning the house and grocery shopping because it really does feel like we're on vacation. I'm loving that part of it. Alex and I have discussed a lot about what we want our family life to be like as we head out of the grad school phase, and I'm so excited! We are finding our priorities and growing closer together as a family, and to me, that's even more valuable than the actual internship experience.

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