Archive for the ‘outings with the kiddos’ Category

This past Saturday, we rounded up the kids and drove out to Stribling Orchard in Markham, Virginia for our annual apple picking trip.

As always, the highlight of the trip was using the “reacher” to pick the highest apples on the tree.

Quinn enjoyed the show from the backpack…

…while Xavier was thrilled to get a turn using the reacher all by himself (with just a little help from Mommy and Daddy).

We met up with some friends, and slowly ambled our way through the rows of trees…

But sometimes we just can’t contain the energy of one particular little boy, especially when adventure awaits.

He ran ahead, weaving in and out of the rows of trees, finding one perfect apple after another.

That boy could have picked apples all day long…

And Quinn could have eaten them all day.

We gave boosts when they were needed to pick the apples that were just a bit too high…

…and guided the little one to the apples that were just within his reach.

Yep, we picked until we were asleep on our feet. (Some of us more than others.) And after a quick picnic lunch, we headed back home to rest up for the canning that lay ahead…


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We stopped at this roadside market a couple of years ago on our way home from the cabin on a whim and it has quickly become an annual tradition. This place is literally right next to the highway, but its winding looped path of pumpkins with plenty of wagons to ride in while exploring it and a big wooden train to crawl in at the center are so alluring that none of us seem to notice the cars and trucks zipping by beside us.

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A long weekend at the cabin with my family. It was…

…two and a half days packed with outside time for everyone.

… a time to slow down and remember the adventure in a half-mile walk
down the road.

… a refreshing splash of summertime…

…with reminders of autumn all around us.

… a time for the kids to relish in the simple fun of throwing rocks in the lake…

…while their parents stole fleeting but meaningful moments together.

… a time for quiet reflection…

…for noticing the things around us…

…getting our feet wet…

…and then jumping into the fun.

…a time to get ready…

…and take the leap!

…a time for a onetime cautious boy to bathe himself in leaves…

…while his brother began to become acquainted with the feel of them in his hands.

It was a time to sit by the fire and reflect.
And remember why we keep traditions like this one.

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Source: New House Project's Etsy Store

Despite the suggestive title, this post isn’t about my kiddos, but about two really great local things I love. Later this week I’ll be posting about our latest efforts to get the kids to eat soup and photos from our (wonderful) escape to the cabin this past weekend, but I didn’t want too much time to pass by before I told you about what we did last weekend.

Unlike this past weekend, the weather on that Saturday was awful. Rainy and cold. All day long. But despite the bad weather, we loaded up the kids in the car first thing in the morning and took off to D.C. to have breakfast at one of our favorite vegan spots, Sticky Fingers. We’ve been big fans of this place since shortly after they opened and offered a small but decadent menu of sticky buns, cookies, and cakes. They have since moved into a larger space and now offer a full breakfast menu on the weekends in addition to lunch and dinner entrees and lots of other yummy stuff.  The kiddos enjoyed their very first sticky bun and then we shared the french toast and pancake platters (which come with sides of grits and tofu scramble). It was such a delicious start to the day that we couldn’t leave without grabbing a couple of sandwiches and cookies to take with us to the main event of the day: the annual Crafty Bastards Arts & Crafts Fair.

Source: Cotton Monster's Etsy Store

Last year was our first visit to the event and we enjoyed it so much we planned our October schedule around this year’s fair. There were too many great vendors to name them all here, so you’ll just have to visit the vendor gallery to check them all out for yourself.

Among our favorites this year were the kids’ mug, plate, and bowl sets from New House Project (see the photo at the top of the post). I’ve got two sets tucked away for the kids for the holidays and a third just because I couldn’t help myself. I added to the kids’ collection of little stuffed friends from My Paper Crane, including a friendly ice cream sandwich for Xavier and an ice cream cone for Quinn. (You might have seen the little acorn from the same vendor hanging out on the kitchen table in my Autumn Equinox pajama post.) We also picked up some great T-shirts for the whole family from Fuzzy Ink and Gnome Enterprises (none from Pinecone and Chickadee this year, but Xavier still loves the shirt we got for him from their booth last year). We also bought a couple of small mugs perfect for little hands from Circa Ceramics.

Source: Cutesy But Not Cutesy's Etsy Store

Again this year, I enjoyed browsing the incredible stuffed animals from Cotton Monster (to call them stuffed animals is to completely undersell them since, really, this woman is an amazing artist) and Xavier carried around her business card with a photograph of one of her monsters for the rest of the day in disbelief that she had given it to him for free. He also had much more fun than I ever expected he would visiting the Cutesy But Not Cutesy booth, where we had gotten one of his coveted stuffed animals last year. He was amazed that “Mama” (the name of his beloved monster, who as I write is accompanying him to preschool for show and tell time) had a whole family of monsters that look just like her. It was unbelievably fun to watch him take it all in.

While noshing on our Sticky Fingers sandwiches and cookies on the way home, Jeremy and I remarked on what a fabulous day it had been despite the constant rain. We’ll leave the kids home next year, though, we’ve decided. There’s just too much to see and enjoy and never enough time to take it all in.

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I live for moments like these… (click collage for larger image)

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Here are just a few reasons why the last minute family Labor Day weekend trip that packed the four of us into a beach house with two brothers-in-law, one sister-in-law, one Poppa, and six nieces and nephews was well worth the chaos.

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After I had packed up the car with the double stroller, a cooler filled with snacks, my camera bag, my diaper bag packed to the brim, and two little boys under the age of two, I thought to myself: You must be insane. What kind of person thinks it’s a good idea to take a 22 month old and a 2 month old to the National Zoo on a sweltering Friday? After a wonderful visit marred only by the refusal of the hummus sandwiches that were the boy’s favorite food just a week ago, I looked at my two sleeping boys in the rear view mirror while successfully navigating my way out of the city and back into suburbia and thought, “This was a brilliant idea.”

Xavier could have stayed at the turtle pond all day.

I credit my Friday playgroup with giving me the courage to attempt the trip. I met up with several other moms and their kiddos at the zoo, so only the car trip there and back were solo missions.

Interestingly, the big animals that I thought would be a big hit were too scary for the little boy (I thought the fact that the elephant was headed right for us was exciting; he found it terrifying) and the kind of stuff we could see if we just walked into our backyard was thrilling (He loved the little turtles in the pond). All in all, it was a fun trip for all. We saw an elephant, turtles, anemone, starfish, an octopus, apes, a zebra, and pandas, in that order.

Checking out the zebra (You can kinda sorta see it in the distance.)

When we got home, we picked out the animals we saw from Xav’s pile of stuffed animals and lined them up. We also read From Head to Toe several times and acted out all of the animal sounds and motions. Two animal masks I picked up on consignment came in handy for elephant and gorilla impressions and, at long last, Xav called the orange octopus we made together (thank to instructions from the wonderful Rhythm of the Home) an “octopus” rather than a “monster.” (It helped that the octopus we saw at the zoo was also orange. I love it when a plan comes together.)

We saw an octopus, apes, an elephant, and a zebra.

The same shot with Xavier's additions. Yes, that is a bottle of soy milk on the far left.

Playing with the animals

Quinn was a unsuspecting (but very accommodating) participant in our animal games.

I officially declare yesterday another successful day at home with the boys. And as I’m still getting used to being a Mom with Kids as opposed to a Mom with a Little Boy, I’ll take as many of those days as I can get.

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