I absolutely adore holidays where our family can celebrate and do something fun together. While I used to love Halloween when I was growing up, it wasn't until I had kids of my own that I really got into the Pumpkin Patch experience. I love the crisp air and drinking hot apple cider while strolling down the fields searching for the right pumpkins. Now, that is the highlight of Fall for me and my family!
When my son Hugo was born earlier this month, one of my first thoughts was when we'd be able to go to the Pumpkin Patch. We always go to Carpinito Brother's in Kent, WA and it's become a true family tradition. We do all the photo ops, see the animals, play in the corn bin and pick out our pumpkins. This is the first holiday for us as a family of four, so I really wanted to commemorate it with special photos of both of my boys.
I'm so excited that Hugo got to wear his newborn cashmere Freshly Picked moccasins for his first trip to the Pumpkin Patch. Because he's so little, these were the perfect shoes for him to keep his feet warm. It's not every year that you can wear off-white shoes to a pumpkin patch. Next year he'll probably be toddling around the muddy fields, but this year his shoes will stay pristine. It's also become a tradition to wear overalls for our photos. We found some super soft overalls that worked well with the moccasins for both indoor and outdoor photos with the pumpkins.
This year, we're also participating in the Teal Pumpkin project. Our niece and nephews have severe food allergies and we know Halloween can be rough for them. We've been so lucky that our kids don't have any known food allergies at this point. This is our first year in a new neighborhood that is filled with children so we thought it was the right year to provide non-candy treats for them. We hope this will also become a family tradition for us!
What I especially like about these newborn cashmere moccasins is that they will be perfect for Thanksgiving and all our Holiday festivities! I'm looking forward to seeing my baby sport them for his first photos with Santa at Pike Place Market and the holiday Teddy Bear Suite at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle.
Freshly Picked provided complimentary moccasins.
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When I was looking at baby products when I was pregnant with my oldest, I was so confused. All the photos showed cribs full of stuffed animals, blankets, pillows, and bumpers. However, everything I was reading about safety said to leave everything out of the crib. I was even more baffled with all the nursery bedding packages that seemed to include everything that was deemed unsafe.
The second-time around, we knew to ignore all the photos of cribs piled with stuff and focus on decorating the nursery, not the crib. We went with a travel theme (read more about How to Create a Travel-Themed Nursery here.) It was so easy to design a fun nursery while leaving the crib undecorated.
October is SIDS Awareness Month. For anyone who is pregnant or has a baby, SIDS is especially scary to think about. Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) still claims more than 3,500 infants each year in North America. More than half of these deaths are preventable when proper safe sleep practices are followed. To help keep all babies sleeping safely and avoid these unnecessary tragedies, HALO is dedicated to putting the health, safety and well-being of babies first. In fact, over 1,400 hospitals use HALO SleepSack wearable blankets through the HALO Safer Way to Sleep Hospital Initiative. Through this program, HALO has helped Hospitals and Birth Centers throughout North America create their own safe sleep programs, which utilize the HALO SleepSack Swaddle to demonstrate to parents and caregivers how to keep their babies sleeping safely. To date, HALO has donated more than $4.3 million in its efforts to promote safe sleep education.
Follow HALO on Social Media to keep up-to-date with their programs through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
SAFE SLEEP TIPS FROM HALO:
GIVEAWAY (ended 10/30/16)
I'm excited to announce that I've partnered with HALO to give away a HALO Safe Sleep Starter Kit that includes: a HALO SleepSack Swaddle and SleepSack, pacifier, onesie and fitted crib sheet! They will ship to USA or Canada and winner picks color. Contest runs October 25th at 12am until October 30th at 11:59pm.
I'm very excited to announce that Marcie in Mommyland has been nominated for a Liebster Award by Brown Gal Trekker! What's really cool about this award is that it's for bloggers given by other bloggers. As a new blogger, this is quite an honor!
Thanks Brown Gal Trekker!
First and foremost, I need to thank Brown Gal Trekker for nominating me for this award. As you might be able to tell from her blog name, she is passionate about mountain trekking and inspiring women to explore hikes off the beaten path around the world. She also encourages others to join her on her global treks. I love that she has a desire to make people's dreams a reality.
What's the Liebster Award?
The Liebster Award is a perpetual chain of nominations, where established bloggers encourage and support the new ones by promoting them through this award. You can look at it as “pay it forward.”
The rules are as follows:
Name one thing that inspired you the most to compel you start a travel blog?
My kids were definitely my inspiration for starting my travel blog. It's been such a thrill to see my toddler experience traveling to places for the first time. His excitement over airplane rides (something I used to dread) has actually rubbed off on me and we both make the ride itself part of the adventure! Because I have so much fun sharing my love of travel with my family, I felt compelled to post my tips/tricks/suggestions for making family travel as stress-free as possible so others will take the plunge!
If a reader asked for advise on where to go and what to do over a period of 6 months, what would you advise & why?
If they had never been before, I'd probably suggest heading to Europe because it's so easy to travel between the countries. I think it's a great place to figure out your travel style, especially if you are traveling with your family. You could easily stick to major cities and not run out of things to see/do or you could explore smaller towns and just experience life in another country.
How do you see your life 3 years from now?
In three years, I will have a kindergartner and a preschooler, so travel during the school year might be a bit trickier. But, I look forward to blogging about how to maximize travel over school breaks and how to partner travel experiences with what my kids are learning in school. They won't be babies and toddlers anymore, so my blog will be transitioning into how to travel with school-age kiddos.
What challenges so far have you run into with your travel blog and how did you address them?
Some of the challenges I've run into include writing about travel without actually traveling all year long. But, I think that most families are only able to travel a few times a year so I try to be very thorough about our itinerary and tips for every place we travel as a family. I've had to put on my thinking cap about how I incorporate our love of travel into other aspects of our life. We also recently had another baby and I've carefully crafted some baby product reviews with the idea of what baby products are helpful to pack when traveling.
How are you able to financially sustain a life of traveling?
We prioritize travel and make a point to set aside funds specifically for doing local and international adventures. My husband's family likes to take family vacations together at least once a year. We usually try to add on a destination before or after the family trip to maximize our travel. My mom lives in Hawaii, so we are usually able to stay with her or take advantage of her kama'aina (local) discounts. I also scour the internet for the best rates on accommodations and activities. We wish we could afford to travel more, but we make the most of our vacation time.
Name an experience that you enjoyed but will never want to experience again or wish on someone else?
Enjoyed is probably a stronger word than I'd use, but on our last trip to Thailand with my husband's family, we all rode on elephants. We did a lot of research and found a place that seemed pretty reputable. We were there with our 6 month old and I wore him in a baby carrier. It was really hot (it was July) and our son was simply miserable. He screamed the entire ride and we just couldn't cool him off enough. My mother-in-law waited for all of us to return and someone loudly asked her "Who would bring a baby on an elephant ride?" It was not our best parenting moment. The ride itself was interesting and the views were amazing, but we won't be bringing a baby anytime soon!
What is your impression of Brown Gal Trekker’s blog and what recommendations do you have, if any, in terms improving the site?
I really love the photography! And I love how much content there is! I'm not a fan of the pop up. When I click on different countries (for example China or Indonesia) the pages are blank. It might be nice if there were links to the posts about the country or a general overview of the mountain treks available there. Also, I think Brown Gal Trekker would have a lot of fun trekking around Washington State!
Besides the obvious which is giving others travel advise, how else do you believe your blog is making an intangible impact on people’s lives?
I think my blog helps parents come to the realization that they CAN travel with their kids and that their kids will benefit from travel (even if they might not remember the details of the trip.) I also provide ideas for smaller adventures to test the waters. And for those who are more leery of traveling with their kids, I provide ways for families to embrace other cultures without international travel.
What is your favorite country so far, and why?
My favorite country so far has to be Italy. I first visited right before my 18th birthday and it was the first time I had ever been outside the U.S. I remember being shocked that people were smoking in the airport and then being distracted by all the billboards on the way to the hotel. After dropping off our bags, we headed straight for the Colosseum. It blew my mind and ignited my passion for travel! Since then, I've explored Italy while pregnant and with my toddler. There's still so much of the country I want to see (and foods I'd like to try!)
What is the most memorable trip you’ve done so far?
My most memorable trip has been my honeymoon to Hong Kong and Thailand. It was my first experience in Asia and my husband and I were able to thoroughly explore yet also relax and just enjoy being in another country. It was also our first overseas trip together, so we learned a lot about our travel styles. We consumed a lot of mangoes in a variety of food and drinks, banana pancakes (which we failed at replicating when we returned home) and my husband thought his iron stomach could handle street food (which it violently could not.) We got to explore temples, ride on boats, feel powder soft sand beneath our toes, swim in the bluest water we'd ever seen and shop all times of day and night. It was simply magical!
My Nominees for the Liebster Award:
Growing Up Expat:
I'm a big fan of blogs that promote travel for families with small children and this has become one of my favorites. I love the array of adventures featured and it makes me want to experience them with my kids! Keep up the great work!
More Like Twins:
My favorite part of this blog is all the street food! The photos makes me so hungry for food I can't seem to find around Seattle. I like when blogs force me to travel to taste local cuisine!
Big City Girl:
I'm a sucker for fun graphics and Big City Girl has plenty! I like her conversational style and her helpful tips and suggestions for people from a variety of backgrounds. She is also just as obsessed about planning trips as I am!
The photos on this blog are stunning! I've been fortunate enough to have traveled a little in Asia and this blog inspires me to add more places to explore next time. This couple seems to not only enjoy traveling, but most importantly, they enjoy traveling with each other!
I really love to read blogs by people who just want to share their love of travel with other travel enthusiasts. I appreciate that they travel when they can and write about their adventures in hopes of inspiring others. They've definitely inspired me!
Doodle Me Travel:
I always appreciate when bloggers combine their passions. Jessica not only writes about her travels but she also shows her artwork that represents her experiences there. What a fun way to record travels!
My Questions for the Nominees
My toddler Owen is obsessed with all types of vehicles. He likes to read about them, watch YouTube videos of them, and most of all he'd like to sit on them. Almost on a daily basis, he asks if we are going to sit down on a train today. I realized that in Seattle, we have several local train options and we could easily make a train excursion. So, we grabbed some friends and we decided to have a morning of trains and then do lunch.
Of course, this was easier said than done. Since we all live in South King County, we decided to meet at the Tukwila Station at 10am. Unfortunately, every spot was filled and there were many cars circling the parking lots looking for something to open up. Normally, I'd try Airport Station, since there's lots of parking. However, this was Friday of Labor Day Weekend and the line-up to even get to the airport was crazy. So, we decided to try the Columbia City Station, since we knew there was lots of street parking. In hindsight, we could have parked at Othello or Rainier Beach.
We easily found street parking in Columbia City and headed to the station to buy our ticket. We all bought Day Passes for the University of Washington, since that was the furthest stop and we weren't sure if we'd want to get off at some point. Then, the boys patiently waited for the train to arrive, which was just minutes later.
Owen was actually grinning ear to ear when the train approached and started making all kinds of sounds. I was worried he was upset by how loud the train was, but he just looked at me and exclaimed "I'm so excited!" He eagerly climbed aboard the train and was ready to start our journey.
The train was pretty full when we got on, but we were able to secure seats and have the toddlers sit on our laps. Our seats were in a long row on the sides of the train, so Owen stood in my lap facing me and looked out the window. After a few stops, the train emptied a bit and we moved to the back of the train so we could have the toddlers in window seats while the adults took aisle seats.
What we didn't realize is that most of the route between Columbia City and the University of Washington is in a tunnel, so there was less for our toddlers to look at. But, they really didn't seem to mind and got a kick out of being on a train and looking at each of the stations. Owen asked me the name of every station and what there was to do there (this was after I told him there was lots of shopping at the Westlake Station.)
Once we got to the University of Washington, we stayed on the train to head back to Columbia City. We were informed that we had 10 minutes before the train moved, so we walked to the other side of the car to get seats that would face in the right direction. This time also was used to check out the doors and other seats on the train.
The ride back to Columbia City was still a lot of fun! The toddlers looked out the window and would comment when they saw buses or buildings and asked a lot of questions. They were really sad when we got back to our station and had to get off.
We decided to grab lunch at Super Six in Columbia City because they are kid-friendly and the food is really yummy. After lunch, we walked around the corner to Columbia City Bakery to grab treats for the kids. If it wasn't so close to nap time, we would have walked a bit further to Retroactive Kids to look at their toys.
As we got back into the car, Owen told me that his day was "awesome" and he wanted to ride the train again! For $5.50, this was a great way for us to spend the morning. I'm definitely adding it to my list of activities to do with toddlers any time of the year!
7 Tips for Link Light Rail with a Toddler
Disneyland is the most iconic family vacation. I had never been before, but longed to go since I was a small child. After our son was born, people told us to wait until he was 5 or 8 or even 10 before taking him. However, when we were looking for a family vacation destination that was a short flight from Seattle, Disneyland kept coming up. So, we threw caution to the wind and booked our tickets.
We had about a month between when we decided to take a vacation to Disneyland and when we were actually going. It was in this time that we realized our 2-year-old son might not recognize characters at Disneyland and that really bummed us out. Part of the fun of traveling for me is preparing for the trip, so I was determined to prep my son in all things Disney.
7 Ways to Prep Your Toddler for Disneyland:
When I was pregnant with my first baby, I developed Placenta Previa (a condition where the placenta covers the cervix) and I was on bed rest for about half of my pregnancy. Some of it was at home and some was in the hospital. They both have their benefits and drawbacks, but neither of them is how anyone envisions spending their pregnancy.
7 Tips for Surviving Bed Rest while Pregnant:
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When I was pregnant with my son, Owen, I had a complicated pregnancy that led to me spending half of my pregnancy on bed rest at home and in the hospital. This meant that I missed out on doing a lot of the fun "getting ready for baby" stuff. This included setting up his nursery. I was able to order some wall decals and order a couple of things online, but part of the fun is actually setting it up.
So, when we found out that we were pregnant with our second son, I immediately started brainstorming nursery ideas so I could start early, just in case. I'd always heard that nurseries for second babies are usually no frills because parents are so busy with the first born that they don't have time to decorate another nursery. I really wanted this nursery for my baby and myself.
The theme was easy for us to come up with. We are so passionate about traveling with our family and exposing our kids to different cultures, customs and sights. I also plan on repurposing some of the nursery decor for our guest room when our son is older and wants to redecorate his room. I was very careful with my selections.
The first thing that I wanted to do was get some artwork up on the walls. Rifle Paper Co was kind enough to provide three art prints featuring Monaco, London and Havana (two places I love to visit and one that's been on my bucket list for years.) I really like the colors and spirit of these prints. We put them above the crib so I could see them from the rocking recliner.
I also wanted to add a bit of pop above the changing table/dresser with this World Map Bunting from LinenandLaceHandmade on Etsy. I found a PDF of Disneyland's It's a Small World and I printed it with Shutterfly and found a frame for 70% off at Michael's. I was able to repurpose a vintage-reproduction metal military airplane from our wedding for added decoration. I also repurposed a vintage-reproduction chest from our wedding that's perfect for storing tissues, ointments, and our beloved Snuggin.
When I was looking for ideas for this travel-inspired nursery, I came across super amazing vintage suitcase shelves. Pottery Barn Teen sent me these shelves, which fits our theme perfectly. Monkey's Uncle was kind enough to provide these Travel the World blocks to set on the shelf until our baby is old enough to play with them. I found the "H" letter in the clearance aisle at Michael's and thought the color tied in perfectly to the shelves.
British Teddies also provided this Guardsman Teddy Bear to watch over our baby. Steiff USA provided us with the William E. Boeing 100th Anniversary Teddy Bear, which is very special because we are a Boeing family and were able to attend the 100th Anniversary celebration here in Seattle. I love how these bears represent a sense of adventure. I found the clock at Marshall's and thought it fit the theme because of it's leather case.
Since I knew my toddler Owen would be spending a lot of time in the nursery while I took care of the baby, I thought we should create a space for him to hang out. Going along with the theme, I installed books shelves and filled them with travel-inspired books for him to keep him occupied. Our favorites include BabyLit's All Aboard! series, The Tiny Traveller series and Hello, World series. I also included a London Pillow cover from TammySmithDesign on Etsy so Owen can recognize famous London sights while he gets cozy with his books.
One of my favorite items in this nursery is a customized pillow from Tiny Prints that says "The World is Wonderful with you in it." I love this sentiment and it's a great fit for our travel-themed nursery. We put it on our reclining chair because I always seem to need a pillow behind my back when I'm rocking a newborn in the middle of the night.
I hope this post inspires you to incorporate your love of travel into your child's nursery or even a guest room. There are so many interesting decoration ideas out there and thanks to online shopping, they are only a click away!
Products were provided by Rifle Paper Co, Snuggin, BabyLit, Penguin Books, The Tiny Traveler, Monkey's Uncle, British Teddies, Steiff USA, LinenandLaceHandmade, Tiny Prints, PB Teen, and TammySmithDesign.
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I am so thankful for my PEPS group. We all connected when we had newborns within a few months of each other. After our program was completed, we chose to continue as a group and now 2.5 years later, we are still great friends and our families love to do activities together. Our favorite annual event is going to Carpinito Brother's Pumpkin Patch in Kent. This is a fun local excursion!
We love this pumpkin patch because they have so many activities and it's a great way to spend a morning. We try to go early in the day to avoid crowds (and nap times) and to get choice parking. I appreciate that they have lots of photo ops so we can take the same photo year to year to see how much the kids have grown. As the kids get older, they are able to participate in more things.
We also tend to dress the kids in overalls or plaid shirts and jeans. This makes for super cute photos and it feels very "Fall." Our group also likes to bring along pumpkin flavored treats and hot coffee (Kahlua is optional.)
The first year we went, the babies were 7-10 months old and we were able to prop some of them up on the pumpkins, which were wet and much colder than we anticipated. There was a lot of crying and some of us brought strollers, which ended up being a hassle. Not all of us brought food for the kids, so some ended up being cranky. But, we got some great photos and had a lot of laughs!
The second year, the kids were now walking and running and it was nearly impossible to get a group photo of them! We were able to take them to the corn pit, and it was fun to see them pouring kernels on each other and exploring with their hands. They were also old enough to pick out their own pumpkins and walk around the patch.
This year will be our third year and we are excited to bring our newest family member to share in our family tradition.
8 Tips for Successful Pumpkin Patch Photos
After finding out that we were pregnant again, I immediately starting thinking about all the things I'd do differently this time. Of course, I'll still take my prenatal vitamins and go to all my doctor's visits, but there are still a lot of options out there. It's kind of like traveling somewhere you've already been before: where do you revisit, where do you skip and what new adventures would you like to check out?
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I'm a mom to a 3-year-old and a baby. We believe in traveling as a family as soon as possible and sharing our tips and tricks with other families!