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.
We recently took our first camping trip of the season to L.L. Stub Stewart State Park and our first camping trip as a family of five. After a year off from camping and regular nature exploring it feels so good to be back at it again. With it being early May we decided to snatch up the one cabin that we could find instead of tenting which just seemed a bit intimidating to do with three kids for our first trip of the year.
The cabins at L.L. Stub are all situated together up on top of the mountain which you can see from cabins 9-13. We booked our cabin too late so we ended up over in number 7 which had no view and honestly was one of my least favorite cabins for location, privacy and set up (the picnic table is across the path from the cabin). Basically the mountain view cabins are ideal but if you want a bit more privacy cabin 8 is off in the corner and has a ton of privacy as well as cabin 15. That being said if you don’t mind a lack of privacy and want to have a bedroom and living room set up cabins 4-6 offer you two rooms.
Cabins aside there is a ton of camping including full hook-up sites, walk-in tent sites and primitive camp sites.
In addition to great spots for camping L.L. Stubb offers a variety of activities including hiking paths, mountain biking paths, a disc golf course and a welcome center where you can find items that you may have forgotten like water bottles and helmets, maps and much more.
We arrived late to camp and were only able to get a cabin for one night so we didn’t get to enjoy the amenities to the full extent but we did get out for a short hike. I will say this although this was our second visit to L.L. Stub as a family and third for Neil and the bigger kids we that we knew what to expect but hiking these days is totally different than two years ago. Neil and I both had expected hiking to be a breeze with all three kids but as soon as we started to hit some steeper hills Alder just wasn’t having it and wanted to head back to camp.
So note to all you parents out there hiking with two kids in carriers two years ago is not the same as hiking with two kids not in carriers and a baby. If you have small children you may want to seek out alternative hiking opportunities in the area because the trails near the cabins are fairly steep. That being said there is a great path over to the day use area that leads you to some nice open spots perfect for running, playing and tossing a frisbee.
While things didn’t go seamlessly on this first trip it was still a fun trip and we have learned so much about ourselves and ways that we can better prepare for our next trip.
Where are your favorite places to camp? What are you camping tips?
When we moved to Vermont ten years ago, I embraced the area and really got into hiking. Ever since, it’s been one of my goals to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. Hiking and getting outdoors in nature is a passion of mine that we’ve shared as a family. So, when we received a copy of the book for review we were all excited to read it.
The book tells the story of a determined 67 year old grandmother and her journey to hike the Appalachian Trail all the while striking a good balance between being educational, lighthearted and inspiring. The book starts out with a great illustration detailing the path the trail takes as well as the states and mountain ranges that make up the trail. The kids were thrilled to know that the trail passed through Vermont over the Green Mountains, asking how close it got to their grandparents house.
After 67 years, raising 11 kids without much help from her husband, Grandma Gatewood decided to set out to hike the Appalachian Trail alone. She was motivated to hike the trail after reading that no other woman had ever hiked the trail. As she progresses in her journey along the Appalachian Trail, the book details the different legs of the trail in detail. Showing maps detailing the states, mountain ranges and points of interest along her journey.
The story shares the many different challenges that might make someone less motivated leave the trail and go back home. Despite facing negative gender stereotypes, wearing through her clothes, encountering bad weather, hard to cross obstacles and bear Grandma Gatewood pushes through with the help of some unexpected friends.
The appendix of the book goes into more detail about Grandma Gatewood’s story, her repeat hike of the trail and the trail itself allowing interested readers to find out more about Grandma Gatewood.
Grandma Gatewood’s story is an inspiring and empowering one. It shows that no matter your age and despite all the obstacles in your way that if you’re motivated, you can accomplish anything you put your mind to.
Where you can find this book: https://amzn.to/2Klm6Zc
Age Range: 5-7y (although our almost 4 year old loved the story as well)
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.