I spend too many hours dreaming up ways for us to become a world schooling family but right now logistics just say it isn’t possible. So until then I will lust after these beautiful Instagram accounts and travel along virtually with them. If you could travel anywhere in the world with your family where would you go? Right now I would love to go to Australia but I also want to take them to Spain and Costa Rica….and basically everywhere.
Early on we decided that we wouldn’t potty train. We would let our kids learn to use the potty in their own time and at their own pace. This hasn’t stopped us from bringing up the potty and reminding our littles that it is there to use we don’t say much beyond that. That was until Edith turned 3 and she hit the point where using the potty would be required, for example to get into the next level of swim lessons.
When we talked with Edith about this she immediately declared she wanted to use the potty and wear underwear. We were excited for her but also the idea of potty learning was new and strange thing for all of us. Suddenly we started to get stressed out about Edith using the potty and we would get frustrated when she chose to not use the potty because she didn’t want to stop (fill in the blank).
We kept having conversations about how if she was to wear undies that she had to use the potty, that she couldn’t go in her undies but it just kept happening. We got more and more frustrated and finally feeling frustrated and out of options we chose to have her go back to diapers.
Feeling a bit defeated we tried to figure out how we were going to make it work. Did we need to buy her cloth training underwear – ones where if she peed or pooped she would know it and feel it right away? Or were we trying too hard?
We finally realized we were just trying to force it and we were working far too hard because the reality is when Edith feels fully ready she will use the potty. We decided to stop stressing and meet in the middle. We are turned to pull-ups which allow her to use the potty when she wanted but it also means when we were not having to deal with a huge mess.
After many months of patiently letting her take the lead she finally decided to fully commit at around 4 years old. I know this may sound crazy to some people out there but it’s what worked for us. Being on our second round of potty learning as well it we have passed the 4 year mark and Alder still has no desire to even try the potty. So we will wait, offer, make underwear, pull-ups and the potty available. We will ask and encourage but NO pressure.
When Edith was finally ready to fully commit to using the potty we celebrated with new underwear and we will do the same for Alder. While I realize our approach isn’t the one most people would take it’s what works for us. And whenever I do find myself getting annoyed I remind myself of the wise words of my friends mom “They won’t walk down the aisle in diapers.”
We love to spend time in nature as a family but sometimes getting out of the house can be a struggle. I love to look for inspiration and motivation by perusing Instagram and following these adventurous families. Who are your favorite nature loving Instagram accounts to follow?
Some parenting things just seem to be common knowledge, expected happenings and things that you can fully prepare for and then there are times when something needs to nearly smack you in the face for you to fully get the message. For us this is sleep and adventuring.
Before I get into it all let’s just set up the scene. Spring is here and the days are getting longer which means we ALL want to spend more time outside especially in the evening. It gives us this sense of delight to be able to soak up the daylight for those extra hours but it also means our children don’t seem to get the memo that their bodies are tired and that while it is still light out they need to go to sleep. Lately our littles who semi-easily went to sleep by 7:30/8pm are now not falling asleep until 9/9:30pm (or sometimes later). We have a set bedtime routine that we follow, we have tired blackout curtains and melatonin – which helps to get them to sleep but can sometimes make for cranky mornings. They also consistently get up at the crack of dawn and have for their entire lives.
While we have a consistent routine we do not have a consistent bedtime. Some nights bedtime starts at 7pm and other nights not until 8pm depending on when we eat dinner, whether or not we have been out adventuring or just how much fun Neil and the kids are having outside after dinner.
After a particularly full three days we are now seeing the light. These late nights and early mornings triggered a discussion on how we can remedy the situation. We talked about setting a time of night to be home, to unwind and to keep it consistent. It of course will have inconsistencies due to travel and camping but for the most part we want to be at home unwinding and getting ready for bed by 7pm. We discussed how we can still have full days of fun while still implementing this wind down time strategy.
Just as we are finishing our discussion our oldest two burst out of their room and almost as if on cue a full on meltdown ensues. Just furthering the point that the lack of sleep is getting the best of everyone.
We know that the topic of sleep and bedtimes can be a touchy one and as you can see we are no experts but we are trying to find ways that best support our family. So fingers crossed this new approach will bring more rest for everyone.
If you have tips on how to get your littles to sleep in the summer please send them our way. As I mentioned we have tried black out curtains, essential oils (which do help relax them), melatonin (which knocks them out but negative side effect is cranky mornings), letting them run around before bed, filling their days with tons of outdoor time, letting them unwind with books in bed, early bedtimes, late bedtimes….basically we feel like we have tired everything but if you have a method that is working great for you please share!
We have a slight obsession with books at our house. So much so I feel like we need a new bookshelf every month. One of our most important and beloved collections are our reference books. While we love a beautiful story we enjoy a good reference book just as much. However, when choosing books for your reference library there are a few important things to consider:
- Choose books that grow with your child.
- Choose books that have clear and beautiful photos and illustrations and bonus if they are interactive (see my next bullet)
- Choose books that are interactive, children learn with all their senses and books that encourage them to use multiple (ie. lift the flap, books with textures) help them to learn.
- Choose books that are without political/religious bias and contain factual information.
- Choose books that speak to your child but not down to them.
Books You May Want to Consider (and links* to books we love):
- World Atlas – Maps, 50 States
- Encyclopedia [Animalium, Botanicum, Julia Rothman Collection]
- Topic Specific Books – based on Children’s Interest
- Language [Spanish, Chinese, French]
- Technology [Computers, Coding]
- Field Guides [Animal Tracks, Seashells, Birds, Trees]
- Art & Music [Shakespeare, Famous Art, Orchestra Music]
- History [World Religions, Historium]
- Biographies [Amelia Earhart, Jane Goodall, Grandma Gatewood]
The books that you will pick for your reference library will be so personal to your family and child(ren) interest. It will also grow overtime. We tend to choose books to add to our reference library based on the current interest of our children. For example right now they are really into animals so we have picked up books such as Actual Size by Steve Jenkins, Crazy About Cats by Owen Davey, and The Big Books of Blue by Yuval Zommer. Perviously they were all about outer space and bugs and trains.
For us it is important to do what we can to help facilitate our children with books and resources that support their interest. Sometimes we buy the books so we have a reference library to turn to but don’t worry you can also head to your local library and borrow books. We do this quite often when we are looking to learn about something specific such as raptors or sea turtles, ect.
There are many ways to build a reference library and it doesn’t mean going out to buy new books each quarter. Utilize friends, the library, buy-nothing groups and little free libraries.
Also this post is a great read and inspired me to create our own reference library.
*This post is NOT sponsored however it does contains affiliate links. Purchases you make through these links will help fund the work I do here on Naturally Family at no extra cost to you. Thank you sincerely for your constant support.
I am learning to appreciate this body everyday and at very size. I am learning to appreciate this body that has experienced 3 miscarriages, carries 3 babies to term, birthed 3 amazing beings, has nursed 55 months and counting, has carried my children as bitty babies, wiggly toddlers and heavy big kids. It has hiked hundreds of miles and run races. It has been a variety of sizes, weights, and it has also been hated for so long despite all of the amazing things it has done. So while I am a still working to be happy at every size while still working on feeling stronger and confident in my body I now have these images to hold with me. I mean look how incredible my family is. Look at those sweet faces. Look at us together ❤// stay tuned for my whole story on @4thtribodies in the coming weeks ❤
photo credit: Ashlee D Wells
Our family travels continue! Our most recent adventure was to Bend,OR/Tumalo Falls State Park. We started our trip down on Friday afternoon making a stop near Detroit Lake for a lunch break. When we finally arrived at our yurt we unpacked and then headed out to grab dinner and to pick up provisions for our stay.
We hurried back to make it to the Junior Ranger program where we learned all about night predators. After the program we got the big kids down to sleep and enjoyed a few moments alone…errr well with the baby who refused to go to sleep. Please share all your tips for getting a baby to sleep while camping.
When planning our summer I envisioned tons of camping and hiking however Neil’s new job and the travel that comes along with it has required us to be a bit more flexible with how we use our time. Since work required him to be in Seattle for a large chunk of the summer, we decided to join him and use it as an opportunity to explore more of Washington. We had three nights free and had the choice of staying in Seattle or setting off on an adventure in a nearby area. Due to hotel costs we landed on Bellingham.
Prior to our trip, I didn’t really know much about Bellingham besides that it is about 1.5 hours (more like 2.5 with rush hour traffic) north of Seattle and is surrounded by nature. Going on that alone (and an inexpensive room on Hotwire) we decided to embark on an adventure to a new place. What I didn’t imagine is how much we would fall in love with Bellingham. Edith and Alder are already asking when we will be returning and I have to agree I am looking forward to going back as well.
We used Hotwire to find our hotel. My basics for choosing is it must be at least 3 stars, liked by 90% of people and have a 4+ review on TripAdvisor. With the kids in tow, I wanted a pool as well. Luckily Hotwire was able to find a hotel that fit our wants and we ended up with the Four Points by Sheraton Bellingham Hotel & Conference Center.
Overall it was a nice hotel within walking distance to Whole Foods and Fred Meyer. It was close to the downtown area and it had a restaurant and a pool. I would say the only two cons that this hotel had for us was that the pool as only available for those under 18 years old from 10am-8pm. I know not a huge deal we just had a few times where we would have liked to use the pool in the morning or around 8pm after returning from our adventures. The one pro with the pools however was that they had small soaking pool perfect for non-swimmers like Alder.
The other con that we found was that there were absolutely no kids channels on the TV. Again not a huge deal at all but sometimes mama and dada need a break, especially after a full day of activities. Instead of including the kids channels you had to pay extra for them. In the grand scheme of things neither of these cons would prevent us from staying again.
Rocket Donuts – There is a rocket ship out front and donuts and ice cream inside. Basically it’s a kid’s dream come true. If you’re vegan, like us, just ask for the vegan selection of the day when you go in. I highly recommend the maple donut.
Electric Beet – Juice, smoothies, smoothie bowls, toasts and the most amazing cacao pancakes you’ll ever have.
Pepper Sisters – Southwestern food at it’s best. They have a wide selection of food options but I highly suggest the enchiladas and the rice and beans. The sopapilla and hominy that came with the entrees were great additions as well.
Boundary Bay Brewing – We grabbed a veggie burger and a beer here just as a snack but it has a pretty good looking menu. The thing that sold us was the outdoor picnic table area complete with a play structure for kids and a relaxing spot for us.
Camber – We may have visited Camber every day on our visit. It’s some of the best coffee in the PNW and it has a great simple breakfast selection including a variety of toasts, breakfast potatoes and pastries. Tip: stop in and grab a coffee before heading across the street to grab a few donuts from Rocket Donuts.
Leaf & Ladle – Before heading to the beach stop in and grab wrap, quesadilla, salad or panini. We loved the vegan tempeh caesar wrap and the vegan panini.
Big Juice Love – Another great spot of Juice, smoothies, acai bowls and a huge toast selection. We highly recommend the artichoke cream toast – it was amazing.
Bellingham Farmers Market – Farmers markets are a great way to experience anywhere you visit. We found vendors selling all kinds of artisan products from ceramics to body care to clothes. We came across the most incredible olives, snacked on berry popsicles, sampled chocolates, sauerkraut, bread and beer. We listened to incredible young people sing and play their instruments and were able to feel like we were a part of the community.
Larrabee State Park – I am not sure if it is or not but this spot felt like a hidden gem. There is a day use beach that is a short hike down from the parking lot and it is one the most beautiful beaches. So clean, clear and the view is incredible. We went around lunch time and despite the warm, sunny day it was fairly quiet. Opposite the path to the beach is a short hiking trail that promises beautiful views of its own and back up by the parking lot are picnic tables, restrooms and a playground.
Whatcom Park – We found this thanks to google and our desire to see waterfalls. This was a wonderful easy hike that featured waterfalls and bridges. There is also a playground and picinic tables near the parking area.
Ruckus Room Arcade – Not something I thought I would have added to the list but I promised Edith a trip to the arcade during our time away and this is where we ended up. We had low expectations and we all ended up having a great time playing arcade games.
Have you ever visited Bellingham? What are your favorite things to do/see/eat/stay?
Where in the PNW should we visit next?
Only have 48hours in Bellingham? Find out what we would do over on Naturally Lindsay.
As a child my parents would pack us up and we would head out each summer to camp in our pop-up camper. These camping adventures took me all over the North East and even on a trip down the East Coast to stay at Disney World’s Campground (and visit Disney of course). As I got older and my parents sold our pop-up camper we stopped camping as often (although that’s all they do these days – #thatretiredlife) however my love for camping and exploring stayed with me.
As a new couple Neil and I used camping as a way to explore the North East together on a budget. We would stay at state parks and explore the great outdoors and nearby towns and cities. From this our love of hiking and outdoor life grew and as our family has grown our desire to share the world and explore with them has intensified. For us camping is a way to for us to connect as a family, to spend more time outdoors, to explore places on a budget and to help grow a deeper love and appreciation for the world around us.
Camping has taken our family to the edges of the Pacific Ocean, the mountains of central Oregon, to heritage sites, on hikes around the PNW, to towns and cities, big and small and most recently to the majestic waterfalls of Silver Falls State Park.
We have splashed in streams, been sprayed by cascading waterfalls, hiked the Oregon coastline, witnessed rock climbers descend of cliffs at Smith Rock State Park, learned more about this beautiful part of the world that we have chosen to make our current home. Better yet though we have gained confidence in ourselves, a deeper love for nature and connected with each other in a way that only time away from the city, busy lives, and the constant buzz of electronics just don’t allow.
As time goes on I hope that our children remember these times, and cherish them. That they see the beauty and benefit of living a bit simpler even if it just for the weekend. That they never stop being curious about what is out there in this beautiful world.
So share with us. Why do you love camping? What is magical about it for you?
Remember when I shared about The Wild Kratts Live coming to Portland this September? Well a 2nd show has been added by popular demand! The Wild Kratts Live! 2.0 Activate Creature Power is coming to the Keller Auditorium for TWO shows! Saturday, September 29th at 1:00pm AND 4:30pm. Get your tickets today –> Wild Kratts Live PDX.