Find Your Tribe + Grasshopper Point

The other day we packed up the car and headed to Sedona, Arizona, for a day trip with our homeschool group. We decided to celebrate NOT Back to School at Grasshopper Point, a shady water hole in the red rocks surrounded by big green trees and a stream. 

When I started this blog, I was a public school teacher. I taught 1st grade and 3rd grade. I LOVED teaching. About 6 years in, I decided to take a leave and stay home with my daughter and pursue some entrepreneurial dreams. When my daughter turned preschool age, I started homeschooling her and started a preschool co-op with other mommy friends. We have some of the best memories from those days. But eventually, all of our sweet friends went off to kindergarten and we needed a new plan. It was important for us to have a community. My daughter is an only child (read more about that here), and she’s extremely social and loves her friends. We tried out lots of different homeschool groups, and although we made lots of new friends, nothing felt like ‘home.’ 

Feeling discouraged and questioning my choice to homeschool, I prayed hard for an answer. Again… it was important for us to have a community… a tribe. And a few days after I broke down crying in prayer, I met my friend Mel. She was a mom of a sweet little girl in the PreK cooking class I was teaching. She mentioned that she had decided to homeschool and wanted to know if I wanted to get together weekly with our kids. Of course I agreed (you can tell a kind soul when you see one, am I right?) and soon thereafter we met a mutual friend of a friend, Nicole, and added to our group.

Now, 5 years later, we are 8 moms strong and 21 kids deep. We are all so alike, yet all so different. And each of our differences adds to our group. We collaborate, plan, laugh, educate, meditate, play, adventure, explore, share, make memories, learn, and love on each other’s kids.

I am so thankful for this tribe. They encourage me and support me. And not only am I am better homeschooler for it, I am a better mom, wife, and friend because of them. And my daughter has built some really awesome friendships and has learned a lot of really awesome things. 

I am so thankful life brought us all together… so we could travel this journey of homeschool and motherhood and celebrate milestones together. Plus, we have A TON of FUN! 

If you’re in Arizona, I highly recommend visiting Sedona. Your kids will LOVE Grasshopper Point. Be sure to bring $8 per car for parking. It’s an easy walk down to the water but there are lots of rocks and boulders so watch your step! Once down at the water, there are lots of places to have picnics, swim, hike, and explore. If you can go during the week, it’s even better because you avoid the crowds. It’s not a pet-friendly trail, so leave your furry friends at home. Be sure to bring sunscreen, towels, water shoes, and lots of H2O. And as always, don’t forget to hike out with your trash. 

Wild and Free with a LOVE for learning. Our party in nature has me pumped for another awesome school year full of new learning experiences and adventures. Luci and I are excited for fourth grade!

Are you a parent of a fourth grader or a fourth grade teacher? If so, you must check out Every Kid in a Park! It’s a program for fourth graders enabling them and encouraging them to visit national parks by making it a free and educational program! We are all signed up and can’t wait to take advantage of it. Let us know if you do too! 

Travel: Visiting Cleveland with Kids

Hello! Renae here and I’m happy to be back and sharing more about traveling with kids… little kids to be exact. So today let’s take a trip together! If you are planning on visiting Cleveland with Kids, I’ve got some great tips and places to share with you. 

I’m going to let you in on a dirty family secret. My husband’s tour dates were booked before Garrett (our son) was born, so even though he’d be so delicate, we decided he’d be taking his first road trip at 3 weeks old. At the time, I couldn’t anticipate what a hormonal mess I might be, and I imagined it would be such an important family bonding time that I wanted us to be together no matter where we were. For me, the thought of being on my own with a newborn seemed scarier.  Since we knew we’d be doing a lot of traveling, we decided to introduce a lovey. It was actually a tip I got from a sleep training book. The idea is to introduce a special blanket or animal that comes out at naptime and bedtime to help signal it’s time to sleep. We took it a step further and slept with the lovey in our bed before Garrett was born so that it smelled like us. That way even before he could see it, he could smell it. We figured in a state of constant change, it was something he could always have that felt familiar to comfort him.

And yes, it’s become one more thing we have to make sure to pack, but it’s been really helpful when we’re sleeping in different beds all the time. One of my girlfriends called him Carcass because his body is flattened out with no stuffing which coincidentally makes him easier for traveling. My husband loved the name because it sounded manly, so Carcass stuck.  And somewhere along the line Carcass became such a comfort that he didn’t just come out at bedtime. He was joining us for alot of our daytime exploring. He’s even really helpful on those first sleepovers with the Grandparents, or transitioning to nap time at daycare. My kid might grow up to be like Linus from Charlie Brown dragging around his smelly germ infested blanket everywhere, but for now Carcass is so worth the help he brings at bedtime when we’re sleeping some place foreign all the time. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen Carcass all over Cleveland. He’s a main character in my instastories.

Carcass: Our Dirty Little Secret. Don’t worry, I’ve already scoured the Internet to make sure we have a back up.

So how’d we end up in Cleveland? My husband, Steve, had been out on the road for about a week and it was time to get the band back together, so Garrett and I hopped on a plane by ourselves to meet him in Cleveland. Lucky for me, Garrett slept most of the way. I wish I could offer advice on techniques for how to hold a lap child on a plane without an arm falling asleep or your fingers tingling, but I haven’t seemed to master that yet.

When I told a girlfriend who used to live in Cleveland I was going there she asked “Why?”.  And then right before I got there, I learned Cleveland is referred to as “The Mistake on the Lake” and not just by haters. It says that on Wikipedia too. But, I have to say, downtown is nice, clean, and offers so much to do. With the Kimpton Schofield Hotel as our landing pad, we were able to take in so many sites just walking around with the stroller. And downtown Cleveland offers so many great hotel & restaurant options.  One morning we had breakfast At Yours Truly in the Playhouse District and scoped out the countries largest outdoor chandelier.

And 4th Street is an awesome alley way lined with bars & restaurants with plenty of options and outdoor seating. It’s the perfect combo for a mom & tot. Outdoor seating so you don’t have to worry about disturbing the tables next to you, plenty of great people watching to keep everyone entertained, and a relaxing spot to sit have drink while the little one eats. We loved our dinner at Pickwick.

When your visiting a new city, I recommend grabbing the local paper. I usually find free ones in a coffee shop. Cleveland has all kinds of cool stuff happening down at the Harbor including a summer concert series. It’s a city that embraces music for sure. On our stroll to the Harbor we found cool murals, art & large speakers playing music in public parks.

It’s a nice 15-20 minute stroll from downtown to the Harbor & the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame. The museum is packed full of really cool stuff from Elvis, to the Beatles, to Katy Perry and does a great job of walking you through the history of music and its political reflections. We went on a weekend when U2 was in town and the place was packed. If you’re going to do this one with a kid who’s too big to be strapped in a backpack or refuses to stay in the stroller, I recommend visiting on a less busy weekday so you can actually take everything in.  I was super nervous about loosing my kid amongst all the people in the many nooks and crannies of this museum. If you’re looking to buy a souvenir or gift for a music lover, the museum store is huge and actually has lots of unique merchandise.

We also spent a morning at the Cleveland Downtown Aquarium. It’s on the smaller side, but had plenty of interactive stuff to keep our kiddo entertained. There is a decent sized tortoise enclosure where you can get pretty close and we got to pet a knarly looking lizard. There is an awesome “walk thru” tank where you can see large sharks swimming all around you. And if your feeling brave there’s a tank full of sting rays you can dip your hand in and touch.

My son didn’t know what time zone he was in and was awake till an ungodly hour, so I was on the hunt for ways to stay busy after 5pm that were a little more kid-friendly than a comedy club. I discovered Memphis Kiddie Park. It’s a 15 minute drive from downtown, but was super sweet and easy. The park has been around for over 2 generations and definitely has a vintage feel to it. Each ride will cost you a little over 2 bucks and we didn’t have to wait in any lines. They have a concession stand that sells your typical carnival foods.  I enjoyed it because it made for such relaxing evening watching Garrett enjoy himself on the rides… even though his face might not look like it in the photos.

I’m a huge fan of children’s museums in any city, but Cleveland’s was closed for renovations, so we found ourselves checking out the Science Center. Side note: On our travels, I’ve learned that aquariums are typically a little pricier than museums geared for the younger crowd. Just something to keep in mind if traveling on a budget is a high priority. This Science Center is several stories, with an area designated for the under 7 crowd. Our little guy is obsessed with balls so we pretty much split our time between the toddler area and the Lego exhibit. I feel like I’m really doing a stellar job of exposing him to all kinds of germs and building his immune system (LOL).

They also have a great rooftop outdoor water play area. I was pretty impressed with the cafe here too. They had several healthy options and more than the typical concession stand offerings. There’s also plenty of picnic tables along the water if you prefer to dine alfresco. This one was totally worth the cost of admission.

Don’t forget to get a pic with the iconic Cleveland sign in the Harbor. It’s hiding behind the Science Center & Hall of Fame. You can also catch a cruise of the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie from here. I wish we’d had the time to do a boat tour. Cleveland has a ton of cool bridges and I’m sure a sunset river cruise would make for some great family photos.

On a mommy of a toddler note: Garrett peed and pooped in the potty 2x on the last day because he said/asked for the potty and wanted to. Super exciting, but I’ve got some anxiety about how we’re going to keep the progress going and manage it through airports and on planes. Should make for another adventure! Add it to the bucket list.

On the return flight the plane was practically empty, so we got a whole row to ourselves. I realized traveling with a lap child is much tougher. There’s way more freedom when he’s got his own seat. Room to color and play on his own tray so we’re not nearly as desperate for the tablet. And even better, my legs aren’t numb and I can use both hands. Awesome!

Thanks for following along on our adventures. We have lots more exiting trips before the summer is over including New York & San Diego. And I’m quickly learning that travel needs and suitcase must-haves are constantly changing as our little rugrat grows, so feel free to shoot me any questions you have!

Travel take-away: Remember to check out parks, museums, zoos, aquariums, and new restaurants when you visit a new city with the kids! 

Continue following our traveling adventures by following me on Instagram!

Best Eats at Knott’s Berry Farm

Hello there makers! We are back from one of our many California vacations for the summer and we had a great time beating the heat in Arizona for a few days. We spent one day at the beach in beautiful 75* weather and we spent the next full day at Knott’s Berry Farm with our best friends. It was such a fun trip full of laughs, roller coasters, and yummy food. We’ve been lots of times (we love it there), so I thought it would be fun to share some of the Best Eats at Knotts Berry Farm. Because let’s face it, it’s not just about the rides. It’s about the food too!

Ghost Town has a lot of our favorite foods! We each get something throughout the day (before standing in line for another roller coaster) and share! Sutter’s Grill/Funnel Cake and Log Ride Funnel Cake have the most delicious funnel cakes in the history of ever. I especially love it with boysenberry and powdered sugar, but you can get it in a variety of ways.

Calico Fry Co. has delicious fries with a variety of yummy toppings. They serve them in a box, so grab a couple of forks and eat them while you’re in line for a ride or watching a show. 

The Gourmet Churro Factory has delicious churro sundaes that are a MUST try. And also totally shareable. 

Sutter’s Grill also has delicious, hand-dipped corn dogs and waffle fries. Talk about YUM!

My all time favorite treat to get when visiting Knotts Berry Farm is the delicious boysenberry soft serve ice cream cone. It’s seriously the perfect summer treat, but I’d eat it year round, y’all!

Fireman’s BBQ has the most delicious barbecue. My two favorite things to get from here are the fire roasted corn and the turkey legs. I know Disneyland is known for their turkey legs, but I promise you, you’ll be a fan of Knott’s Berry Farm’s as well. 

If you feel like sitting down for a meal with the family, I recommend Ghost Town Grill. They have a great menu. I especially love that the burgers come with a side of boysenberry aioli. Note: you can get gluten free buns or go bunless on your burgers upon request! 

Ghost Town Bakery has fresher baked goods that are must tries. The huge boysenberry donuts are my favorite, but the soft cookie sandwiches filled with boysenberry mousse are delicious too.

If you need a quick pick-me-up, head over to the Boardwalk’s Gourmet Coffee Hut for a Boysenberry Latte. It’s delicious! I recommend asking it for half sweet (2 pumps instead of 4) and it’s the perfect hint of boysenberry in your latte. 

And of course, you can never go wrong with the famous chicken dinner at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant. After all, it’s how Knott’s Berry Farm got started. 

Photo courtesy of Hungry In LA

Be sure you stop in at the General Store for all the berry goodness Knott’s has to offer. From salsa to honey to candy to jam… they have it all! I love souvenirs you can take home and eat later. #foodismylovelanguage

So many yummy things to try when you visit Knott’s Berry Farm next! What’s your favorite treat to get when you visit?

We had the best girl’s trip to California and a day at Knott’s Berry Farm only made it better!

This trip was hosted by Knott’s Berry Farm, but all opinions and thoughts are completely my own. I only share things I love and think my readers will too. 

 

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Travel: Visiting Tacoma with Kids

Hi y’all! My name is Renae and I’ll be sharing traveling tips with you monthly here at MFTM! This month I am really excited to share tips for visiting Tacoma with kids. 

When Kara asked me if I’d be interested in regularly contributing to her blog I was thrilled. Since you probably don’t know me, I’ll tell you I often call myself an un-domesticated goddess because when you look up “domesticated” in the dictionary those adjectives frighten me! But truth be told, I’m a DIY, decor loving, homemaker and recently a stay at home mom – A title that’s sometimes hard for my independent spirit to own. And the ‘home’ part isn’t completely accurate. These days we’re a bit of a traveling circus. I’m the primary caretaker for our 1 1/2 year old son and I “run our household” whether it’s in an actual home or out of a suitcase. My situation is pretty relatable, I had a job I loved at an acting school where I felt creative, inspired, and independent — and then I got pregnant. I thought I’d be able to bring the baby to work with me and when that didn’t work out as planned along with the reality of an hour commute each way and high cost of childcare, things got challenging. Our situation gets a little more unique… my husband is a nationally touring stand-up comedian. INSERT SHAMELESS PLUG HERE He’s hilariously funny with a Netflix special to prove it.  I’m actually a producer on this special, and I work for my husband too! (yes, it gets tricky, but that’s a whole other thing!) We quickly learned with him working in a different city every week, we wouldn’t have much time as a family and I would have been single parenting a lot of the time without any family near to help. Something had to give. We decided what made the most sense was for me to quit my job and the baby and I would join Steve on tour as much as possible and #ourtravelingcircus was born.

I don’t know about you mammas, but life after baby was a tough adjustment for me. I knew I had a pretty amazing opportunity to travel and spend this time with my baby and it was a blessing that we were able to do it, but I cried when I quit my job. When I was pregnant I felt like my body was taken over by an alien, and after I had him in the midst of all the hormone fluctuations I struggled to get back to being me. Work was the one place I felt like myself. Sure, an exhausted version of me. But it forced me to get dressed and I got to be creative, joke around with my co-workers, and have stimulating conversations that weren’t all about my new baby and being a mom. And when that was gone, I felt really lost.

But the last 20 months out on tour with Steve, we’ve made some pretty special family memories traveling across the country by plane, RV, & car. We took our first road trip when our son was less than 3 weeks old. -Not ideal for breastfeeding, but you manage.

And we’ve been able to catch up with friends up and down California, all over Texas, New York, Florida, Arizona and Vegas. And over time, I’ve been learning to embrace this time in my life even though its not what I imagined I’d be doing. It’s likely this won’t work for our family forever and he’s already growing so quickly so I’m trying to take every opportunity that allows me to better mom.

I’m really enjoying experiencing these cities through a child’s eyes, But Its challenging to carve out time for yourself when your sharing one room and balancing your husbands weird work hours which is not compatible with a baby’s sleep schedule. So when Kara asked me to contribute to the blog, I thought it was a great chance to take a moment for myself and get back to being creative. I figure it can only help me continue to discover who I am post baby. And I’ve got lots to share about the adventures of traveling with a little rugrat!

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When we visit a city and where we stay is often determined by the comedy club. Lucky for me, most comedy clubs are usually located in busy city centers near nice hotels, shopping and restaurants! Tacoma didn’t disappoint.

Travel tip right off the bat here. Tacoma came at the end of a 2 week run for us, so we thought it would be easier not to drag around a car seat. Wrong! Renting one cost us $10 a day. So we ended up paying almost as much for the seat as we did the rental car. If you’ve got a big drawstring bag from your dry cleaner, just toss the seat in it and check it for free with your luggage.

We stayed at Hotel Murano in downtown Tacoma which has lots of cool glass art from the Museum of Glass down the street and the hotel restaurant was great too. Downtown Tacoma offers so much to explore within stroller walking distance. There are some hills, so in it’s worth traveling with a stroller that has some storage as opposed to a little umbrella stroller for this trip. Tacoma is beautiful and green and the cherry blossoms were in bloom when we visited. It didn’t rain, so we were able to go out and explore a lot.

If your little one is an early riser there is a Starbucks close by and the University of Washington has a bookstore attached with a quaint little kids area. We hung out there waiting for the museum to open so I could get my coffee fix and Dad could sneak in a little more sleep.

Our traveling circus has frequented several children’s museums and Tacoma has been one of our son’s favorite. It’s not the biggest, but it’s got plenty to keep kids entertained including a water play area and a really cool plane jungle gym structure to climb all over. We found ourselves strolling there one morning and then back again at the end of the day because he loved it so much.

You’ll have to get in the car and drive, but Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium has been one of my favorite places to visit in Tacoma too. It’s one of the prettier zoos I’ve been to with interactive exhibits and a nice big playground. Point Defiance isn’t huge, and a lot of the animals were away sleeping, but we saw peacocks roaming and beautiful lions. I’m a fan of the zoo/aquarium combo. Plenty of grassy spaces too if you wanted to lay out a blanket and pack a lunch.

It’s a beautiful drive over the Tacoma Narrows Bridge to Gig Harbor to have a seaside lunch. We spent a relaxing afternoon doing some eating, bird watching and shopping.

And there is still so much more to do in the downtown area! We ran out of time so the Museum of Glass and Tacoma Art Museum are on our list for next time. I loved Tacoma and hope we’re able to go back. It was one of the easier cities to adventure around with a tot and I totally recommend it.

Traveling Take-Aways:

  • Check in your carseat and use a large, drawstring laundry bag.
  • Stroller with storage room.
  • Check out the bookstores, museums, zoos, and parks in the city you’re visiting.

You can follow #ourtravelingcircus on my Instagram! I’ll be back next month with more traveling tips for you!

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Tips for Taking Kids Fishing

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PrepFreeProtein #CollectiveBias

Hi there makers! We had a great Memorial weekend as a family camping and fishing. My husband took my daughter fishing for the first time and she really enjoyed it. The place we camped at in our RV had a great catch and release pond for her to practice. While we were there, we came up with some great tips for taking kids fishing and thought we’d share with all of you!

1. Prepare your kids. Let them know that fishing takes time and patience. These are great lessons to learn as a child… and even as an adult (I speak for myself of course!). 

2. Get a good starter fishing pole (we got ours at Walmart for $8), bait, hooks, and bobbers. 

3. Bring water! You’ll be at the pond, lake, or river for a bit, so be sure to stay hydrated. 

4. Bring your phone or camera so you can take a picture of the fish you catch! You’ll want to remember your kid’s first catch and so will they. 

5. Pack snacks to bring with you, and preferably with protein. Lorissa’s Kitchen is our go-to when we are camping, hiking, road tripping, or standing in our favorite theme parks’ lines.

Because it’s prep-free, it’s so convenient to throw it into a fanny pack, backpack, or tote. Our favorite flavors are Korean Barbecue Beef and Sweet Chili Pork, but all of them are so delicious. Lorissa’s Kitchen is high in protein, low in carbs, low in fat, has no MSG, no preservatives and is gluten free. It’s a great on-the-go snack to have on hand. We buy ours from our local Kroger store in the snack aisle. 

You can save $1.00 off any Lorissa’s Kitchen product (2.25 oz.) with this coupon from June 1st – August 29th, 2017. There will be a one-day in-store sampling event mid-June at Ralph’s, Fred Meyer, and QFC stores on Friday, June 16th – Sunday, June 19th, 2017. 

Check out Lorissa’s Kitchen on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest/YouTube too.  

 

Have you taken your kids fishing? What tips do you have to add to our list and what’s your favorite snack to bring along?

Road Trip Tips and Essentials

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and The Coca-Cola Company. All opinions are mine alone. #ShareTheLyrics #CollectiveBias

It’s summertime and you know what that means… vacations and road trips! Our family loves a good road trip. Whether it’s some place in our state we want to explore or a cross country trip, bring it on. We love to travel and most of the time we find it easiest to jump in the car and travel that way. Since we do it so often, we have a routine down… a system that works for us and that I thought I would share with you. Though I am no expert, I am full of wanderlust at heart and we travel often, so here are my road trip tips and essentials. This is focused more on road trips and travel with kids, but take whatever info you find helpful.

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  • If you are taking your own vehicle, be sure to have the tires aired up and checked, fluids topped off, and an oil change if necessary.
  • Make your kid(s) a road trip kit complete with a road map, road trip seek & find/BINGO (printables all over Pinterest), book(s), coloring books and twistable crayons (they don’t melt as easily and you avoid paper wrappers and sharpening), Mad Libs, small pillow, and a Kindle or iPad with headphones (loaded with new games, books, music, movies).
  • Download a gas station app so that you can find the best priced gas along the way as well as the nearest gas stations along your journey.
  • Pack easily accessible snacks and drinks. I utilize baggies and plastic containers to the max. I also love personal coolers because they are nice and compact and there’s a flat top to use as a table top in the car.

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  • Utilize rest stops for bathroom breaks and to stretch your legs (and the kids’). Sometimes I’ll have my daughter do a few jumping jacks, sprints, and yoga stretches to get some of the jitters out. It’s fun with the adults participate too!
  • Bring quarters for the kids. We reward good road trip behavior with quarters. Then at rest stops they can be used to purchase a treat or in the quarter machines that have stickers and tiny trinkets.
  • Bring a camera or a phone with lots of empty space for pictures along the way. Don’t be afraid to pull off the road (safely and in the designated areas of course) to take pictures and explore. I love looking back on our family travel photos.
  • Have a road trip play list ready to go. Have all of your family’s favorite songs ready for their listening pleasure. (This can even include audio books!)
  • Research ahead of time! Plot out and find cool and interesting places to stop along the way. This can be natural features, museums, parks, monuments, hikes, visitor centers, thrift and antique stores, farmer’s markets and festivals, historical places, restaurants, etc. Explore!
  • If you’ve done a lot of driving, be sure to check those tires and fluids in the car before you hit the road back home.

And don’t forget to refill those coolers with snacks and drinks for on the way back home! I hope you found my road trip tips helpful.

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This personal cooler is one of my road trip essentials we’ve been bringing on our most recent adventures and I love it (so does my daughter)! It fits my Diet Coke cans nicely as well as my daughter’s road trip snack baggies and water bottle (we refill it with a jug when needed) while keeping everything nice and cool. It’s not too big and bulky, so it fits well in the back seat or on the floor of the car. The flat top lid makes a great surface for snack eating or even coloring pictures.

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I am also loving the new Diet Coke cans with the fun song lyrics on them and felt inspired to add some lyrics to our little cooler. Isn’t it cute?! It’s super easy to do and only took me a few minutes.

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I used my Silhouette Cameo to design and cut a vinyl sticker for the front of the cooler. I used lyrics off of one of the Diet Coke cans I was drinking… because I couldn’t get the song out of my head and I thought it would be clever on a cooler that holds our snacks and drinks. Plus, music is a big part of our road trips, as we are often singing loudly together in the car. No shame here! We love music!

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Head over to your nearest Sam’s Club for Coca-Cola and Diet Coke  and get yourself road trip ready while you sing your favorite song lyrics right off the cans.

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Do you have any road trip tips? I’d love to hear where your family is adventuring to this summer!

Camping at Lake Pleasant, Arizona

Hello there friends! Now that it’s summertime, I’m sure most of you are ready to get out and explore our lovely state. Typically families plan their trips and vacations in the summer due to kids being out of school. So I thought I would share some of our favorite things to do as a family around our home state. We love being outdoors and near water, so Camping at Lake Pleasant, Arizona, is a must on our summer bucketlist.

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There are a few options to pick from when planning your camping trips at your local and state lakes. Though many families go for the corporate owned facilities, we LOVE camping at our state and regional parks. And there are plenty of reasons why, which I will get to shortly.

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Lake Pleasant, Arizona, is located only 35 miles from Phoenix and is the biggest lake in the area with over 10,000 acres of water surface. It’s the perfect place for boating, water skiing, kayaking, fishing, hiking, and more. It’s the perfect place for family fun and of course it’s pet friendly as well. Just keep those pets on a leash and be sure to clean up after them. 

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Lake Pleasant has 2 marinas, a restaurant, and a few options for camping. Our personal favorite is Desert Tortoise Campground. This campground is right on the water and has options for RV hook ups as well. The above photo is our view from our favorite spot.

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If you’re lucky enough, you may see a Bald Eagle or two fly overhead or even a pack of wild burros while staying at the lake. The beautiful sunsets are a backdrop to the wildlife and saguaro cacti that surround the lake. It’s really a great place to hang.

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Two of our favorite things to do when camping are to go on nature walks and cook over the campfire, both of which can be done at Lake Pleasant. Sometimes when the sun goes down, it’s even chilly enough for a light jacket.

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The next time you consider camping, check out Lake Pleasant and the state/regional campsites. The campsites and bathrooms are very clean, you are right near the water, and the view is unbeatable. Plus, the price of the site is extremely affordable and the money you spend goes back into keeping our state and regional parks clean and well kept.

 

 

Hiking Fossil Creek, Arizona

Over the last few years, I have really come to appreciate and love where I live. Born and raised in Arizona, I grew up thinking the desert was ugly and dirty and that no beauty could be found here. So happy to say that I was dead wrong. The more I get out in nature and explore the state I live in, the more I come to love it. One of my favorite things to do is explore new places… especially out in nature or near water. So when I heard about Fossil Creek, I knew that I had to check it out and after about three years, I finally made the time to get there. I also did a little bit of research on it, so I figured I’d share the knowledge with all of you, as I highly recommend this place jumping to the top of your bucketlist. Here are some great things to know about hiking Fossil Creek, Arizona, and I even included a few helpful tips.

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Fossil Creek is located near Strawberry and Camp Verde, Arizona. The 14 mile creek’s water is calcium rich, laying down large deposits of travertine and encasing whatever falls into the stream. Hence forming fossil like creations, which is where the name Fossil Creek comes from. Kind of cool, right? Tons of plants and animals depend on this creek, including past Western Apache who still consider Fossil Creek part of their homeland. 

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Fossil Creek does require a day permit which you can get HERE and you should definitely get it ahead of time (print it out and bring it with you!). There’s also a very bumpy 14ish mile dirt road all the way back to the permitted parking. I highly recommend a truck, SUV, jeep, or something similar for this part. It can be done in a car or van, but know that it will take you a lot longer to get back to the parking. 

Because we were hiking with kids, we decided to try out Waterfall Trail which is a non strenuous hike to the falls. It’s about one mile in and one mile out and absolutely gorgeous the entire way.

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We hiked through greenery and along the creek, listening to the water and the wildlife sounds. It was absolutely peaceful and beautiful. The kids loved collecting leaves and rocks and walking sticks along the way. There were even a few cool bridges to cross over, which is always a hit with kids.

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I recommend packing lots of snacks or a lunch in as well as water (we took our Camelbacks). There are plenty of places to have a picnic. You do need to pack all of your trash out, so keep that in mind as there are no trash cans. Let’s be conscience of keeping this beautiful place clean so we can visit it for years to come.

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After you hike in for about a mile… that’s when you see it. And it is breathtaking, y’all!

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The falls are surrounded by trees and a swimming hole and caverns to explore. We watched a few people jump from the falls into the swimming hole, which the kids thought was super exciting. The kids also spotted fish in the stream and even some tadpoles… it made for a super fun nature journal entry.

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Be sure to bring a towel and shoes that you don’t mind getting wet. The kids wore their bathing suits under their clothes and that worked out well. You should also bring a camera or your phone for picture taking… trust me when I say that you will want to take pictures.

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I would consider a trip to Fossil Creek a day trip, as it takes some time getting there, finding parking, hiking in, eating lunch, playing in the water, exploring, hiking back out, and driving home. I also highly recommend going during the week, as the weekend are CRAZY busy and often times people are turned away due to the parking being too full. I’m hoping that with the permits, less of that will happen.

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We had the BEST day at Fossil Creek hiking Waterfall Trail. Out of all the places I’ve hiked and explored in Arizona, I would say this is one of my top favorites to date and one that I would recommend to everyone. So, put it on your summer bucketlist and get out there and explore, my friends!

Have you been to Fossil Creek yet? If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment and I will answer as best I can.

One Day Trip to NYC On a Budget

A few weeks ago my family went on an unexpected road trip from west coast to east coast. It was a first for my daughter and I and we were thrilled! While we primarily stayed in Connecticut once there, we planned a day in the big apple. I have wanted to visit New York since I was a little girl… how could I miss this opportunity when we were that close to putting a check mark on my bucketlist! So we planned a One Day Trip to NYC On a Budget.

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New York City is huge… there is a ton to see and a ton to do. There’s no possible way you can do it all in one day. But if one day is all you have, I have some tips that might help you plan your trip without breaking your bank.

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1. Plan to take a bus, subway, or even taxi.

Parking in NYC is crazy expensive. And the traffic and toll roads aren’t my favorite things either. It eats up a lot of time and a lot of money. So I highly recommend taking the train into the city. Tickets are cheaper during off peak hours, so you can try to plan your day trip around those times as well. The subway will take you across the city and taxis are always available.

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2. Make a NYC wishlist/bucketlist.

First, my family and I made a list of all the things we wanted to do in NYC while we were there. We knew making the list that we wouldn’t be able to do it all, but with strategic planning, we’d be able to knock several awesome sights off the wishlist.

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3. Map out your day trip.

Once our list was made, we pulled up Google maps and mapped out different sights from our list to see how close things were to once another. From there we checked prices and availability of things to determine what we could fit into the day and within our budget. We were able to do knock 9 things off of our wishlist and we did it for a family of 4 for under $200 (including transportation, food, sights). Don’t forget to plan for food and for walking time between different places.

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Other tips:

  • check the weather before you go and dress accordingly
  • bring a phone charger…there are plugs on the train!
  • pack snacks and water bottles in a backpack
  • bring a camera for good picture taking
  • an umbrella stroller is a good idea for little ones

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What we did on our day trip to NYC:

  • train ride into the city
  • subway to Central Park
  • walk Central Park and play on the playgrounds
  • Times Square
  • Pizza at Bella Vita Brick Oven Pizza
  • Carnegie Hall
  • Rockefeller Center at night lit up for Christmas
  • St. Patrick’s Cathedral
  • Empire State Building (from a distance)
  • lots of walking and lots of picture taking

 

Have you been to New York City? What were your favorite places to visit?

5 Ways to Keep Kids Busy in Long Disneyland Lines

Hello friends!

If you follow along with Mine for the Making on social media (icons at the top of this page), then you know we sold our home a couple of months ago, down sized a ton, bought an RV and are currently living and traveling in it while we buy land and build our next home. We are loving the RV lifestyle so far and have enjoyed lots of trips together as a family. This Christmas we decided to take a trip to California for a family adventure in the RV and while we were there, we visited one of our most favorite places… Disneyland.

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Typically we like to go to Disneyland during off peak times to avoid the large crowds and long lines, but this year we decided to bite the bullet and experience the Disney magic at Christmastime. Though the lines were long, we made the most out of it! I wanted to share 5 ways to keep kids busy in long Disneyland lines, because I am certain many of you have found yourselves in that situation.

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1.Family App Games

There are lots apps you can play with while in line at Disneyland, but we like to play the games that get our entire family (or at least all of the kids) involved. Here are a few that we really enjoy… feel free to leave a comment with your favorite family app games too!

  • Heads Up
  • Scrabble
  • Ellen’s Know or Go
  • Ultimate Movie Trivia: Disney Edition
  • Charades! Kids

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2. Bring Snacks

Believe it or not, snacks can take up a good portion of the wait time in lines. We bring our own snacks in a backpack, but we also like to indulge on Disneyland treats too. My daughter always goes for a churro and I always go for a Dol Whip! What’s your favorite Disneyland treat to take in line while you wait for a ride?

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3. Disneyland Mapping

While you are waiting in line, it’s a great idea to check your Disneyland map and decide on the next couple of rides you and the kids want to go on. This is a great way to get to know the park, organize your time, pick out which characters you want to visit, and teach your kids about reading maps. We utilize this time to find the nearest bathrooms, treats we want to try, and a place to meet at if anyone gets lost.

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4. Counting Mickeys

This is one of our favorite games to play in line at Disneyland, and surprisingly it never gets old. We play “Counting Mickeys” and it’s so fun! You and the kids try to ‘spy’ as many Mickeys as you can while waiting in line. They can be on the decor, on peoples’ clothing, Mickey shaped food… as long as it’s a Mickey, it counts! It’s funny because the longer the line the more time you have to find Mickeys and this seems to be what the kids focus on rather than the ‘boring’ time spent in line. Try it! Let us know if your kids like it too.

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5. Old School Games

When all else fails, you can resort to some of the ‘old school games’ that we used to play as kids… you know, before electronic devices and smart phones! Some require a small pad of paper and pencil, but that can easily be stored in your backpack with the snacks. Here are some of my favorites… feel free to leave comment with any that your family likes to play!

  • I Spy
  • Paper, Rock, Scissors
  • Thumb wars
  • tic-tac-toe
  • Hangman
  • Celebrity/Character Alphabet game
  • Rhyming words game

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There you have it! 5 ways to keep those kids occupied in the long lines at Disneyland. The busier they are, the less likey you are to be answering the “are we there yet?” and “how much longer?!!” questions. Don’t forget to utilized the Disneyland apps for wait times and be sure to stock up on those Fast Passes for your favorite rides!

How do you keep the kids busy in the long Disneyland lines?

 

My family was given tickets into the park to share our experience. All opinions are 100% my own.