One Weekend In Cincinnati: Toddler Included.

It’s my birthday week and to celebrate early, my family treated me to a weekend in Cincinnati! To be completely honest, I have no idea why they’re so encouraging in my celebration this year since I’m just turning twenty-six… but I’m loving every moment of it.

So why Cincy, especially with a toddler?

Three reasons, which will make for great bullet points for this post. Two of them checked off items off the bucket list and the other, well, it was just all for me. Plus, it’s only about a four hour drive from where we live, which makes it a great weekend escape.

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

I have been patiently waiting for the right moment to take Mila back to the zoo. We went a couple months ago to the Akron Zoo and she really enjoyed it. Now she’s even more into animals so I was excited to see how she reacted.

The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden is the second oldest zoo in the United States. It houses 1,896 animals and there is so much plant life as well. Some facts or bits of information you might recall about the zoo is the death of the gorilla Harambe and the birth of Fiona the hippo. Both have made national news in the last five years. There’s also a ton of other information you might want to look up if you’re in surrounding states before you’d want to go. You know, incase my recommendation of the zoo isn’t enough.

Anyways, we drove over Saturday morning and went directly to the zoo. We got there around 12:30 and didn’t leave until 7. It was a HOT day and I’m so thankful we got some rain on us to cool us down. They did have fans with mist throughout the park, which Mila was obsessed with. There was a lot of shade throughout the zoo too and great indoor exhibits that got us out of the sun as well. They had awesome food and such a wide range of animals to see. I was really impressed with how big the enclosures were. I always feel bad they’re stuck there, but the animals seemed really content with their surroundings.

The best part of the zoo for me was seeing Mila react to her surroundings. After we first walked in, we went to see reptiles. She was shocked when she saw the alligators and snakes. Her mouth was wide open and she kept looking at me like, “Mom, do you see that huge animal right there. It’s not fluffy like our cats.” She would point to every animals she saw and loved watching the birds. When we got to the mountain lion part of the zoo, they were doing an ‘encounter,’ which meant they were testing the animals instincts and treating them with meat. Mila realized the mountain lion was going to be right in front of the glass, so she just took off and pushed her way in front of everyone. She smashed her face on the glass to get a closer look and everyone was laughing at her because she was so intently watching. Thankfully she smiled and laughed at the people… there.

Even though she loved seeing all the animals and watching us interact with some of the educational games the zoo had set up, Mila had her toddler moments. The whole entire time, she did not want to sit in her stroller. She wanted to push it herself with NO help. When we would try to help her steer or grab the handle, she would yell “NO” or “DON’T.” Eventually she gave up and let herself sit for a while. She had to be tired, but didn’t nap until we got back to the car. Then, in the gorilla exhibit, she pushed a little girl down and yelled at a little boy. For no reason really, just because they were close to her and she didn’t want them to be. What can you even say though? I’m constantly trying to tell her to be nice, but she has a mind of her own.

Thankfully those were only minor incidents with her. She loved watching all the animals and smiled every chance she got. I can’t wait until the next time we go back to the zoo and she’ll know what sounds the animals make and maybe won’t be a little bully too.

King’s Island: Soak City

When I put ‘waterpark’ on our bucket list, I just thought we’d go to our local one. This one though… way better. There were different attractions for all ages to do. Mila loved playing in one particular area, but also ventured out in other areas that might have been a little advanced. She went down this ship slide a few times and then decided she was queen of it. During this time, she directed all the other kids to go down the slide and would tap on their backs when they weren’t going fast enough. Have I raised a strong willed child? Yes. Do I regret it? No, maybe at times now, but when she grows up, she won’t let anyone push her around.

She loved that our whole family was in the water playing with her. We splashed her in the kiddie pool and threw her back and forth in the big wave pool. On the kid slides, we attempted her to go down as many as we could do. She was a little afraid of a few of them, but I’m glad she got to experience what she thought she was ready for. The grownups, had fun playing with Mila and riding different rides. I think everyone enjoyed their time there, even though it completely wore us out.

Something memorable I did was take a waterproof, disposable camera with me. I take a TON of pictures and I wanted to make sure I didn’t hurt my phone and was able to get up and close with Mila in the water. I’m pretty sure she held the camera more saying “cheeeeeeese,” than I actually had it in my hands. No matter what though, I’m so thankful for what we captured on camera, but more happy about the lasting memories we made together.

Watching Mila discover the world and travel is everything I ever wanted for her. I’m so thankful we are able to go to different places and do things that aren’t always easy to do. These are the days that are so special to me and it truly made my birthday week, even though it’s not even over yet.

Rhinegeist Brewery

I know this post has gotten entirely long, so I’m keeping this short and simple. Rhinegeist holds my beer of the summer and it’s called Bubbles. This brewery is probably one of my favorite places in the world and I’d recommend it to anyone. Definitely check it out if you’re in the area. You will not be disappointed.

Plus it had a pretty amazing rooftop too.

So, there’s a few more bucket list items checked off. We’ll be working diligently to get the rest off as well. Fingers crossed. It’s going to be a busy next few days.

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Toddler Friendly Summer Bucket List – Paint Outside

Art is an experience, not an object.

-Robert Motherwell

Mila’s first painting was for Christmas. I wanted to do a craft with her, but she was too young to do something intense. So, I bought some red, green, and silver paint and a canvas and she went at it. In my perspective, it was so beautiful and festive. It made me smile and I had it hanging for way too long after Christmas. Since then, she’s done three others. They’re all different and each time she learns a new way to create.

I know I sound like I have a painting prodigy, I just love watching her create.

Yesterday felt like the perfect day to check something off of our bucket list. It wasn’t too hot like this weekend is supposed to be, but nice enough to be outside. I had picked up new summer, ‘mermaid’ paint for this project a few weeks before, so I just went with the flow.

Mila absolutely loves being outside and she’s only painted while sitting in her high chair. I was excited to see how’d she do and I was not disappointed.

For Mila, at her age, I put dots of color randomly on the canvas and gave her different sized brushes to start. She instantly went to each dot and started going. It was like she couldn’t take them not being drawn out and circled the canvas in a precise manner. Then I put different paints on her brush so she could see that’s where paint can come too. After getting rid of all that paint, she experimented with her hands… then the rest of her body. At one point I swear there was more paint on her body than the canvas. It’s a good thing we were outside. Then she figured out she could splat paint from the bottle. She shook and shook it to make an even bigger mess.

At the end, Mila created another beautiful painting and it wasn’t a huge clean up. She decided to run after the cat while I gathered everything up. When I went to take pictures of her and her artwork, she wasn’t the happiest with me. I’m guessing she was over getting her picture taken, but she has years left of me telling her to say cheese.

This has been one of my favorite bucket list items to do. We always have fun painting, but there’s just something about summertime and being outside.

I don’t know if she’ll grow up to like art or to keep doing this, so I’m making sure I keep all of these canvases. Making these memories are my favorite thing in the world. You bet that this new piece is hanging on my wall. It’s the first thing anyone who walks in my door sees. I hope one day she’ll be proud to see whatever she likes to do hung up and displayed. Hopefully she always knows how proud I am of her and how loved she is.

If you do decide to do this with your toddler, I’m just warning you, it took a while to get all the paint off. I had her play in the water and scrubbed the paint off her legs. A few hours later I found spots I missed, but we just made it apart of the fun. Don’t let the mess deter you. It’s well worth it.

And now on to the next adventure.

Mom Fail: Early Morning Edition.

Ever since Mila slept through the night (well mostly slept through), she’s liked to sleep in. The earliest she’ll wake up on her own is around 8, but usually around 9:30/10. After the initial wake up, she likes to be cuddled and ‘tells’ me about her dreams. Totally not complaining about her desire to sleep in… unless we have somewhere to be in the morning. This weekend happened to hold one of those times.

All week, I swore and told everyone I had to be up early on Saturday. We had to be in Zoar by 9am. I set alarms two days before and tried my hardest to get Mila to sleep early so she could wake up on time the days before too. On Friday, I set our outfits out, made overnight oats, and struggled to get her to sleep at a ‘normal’ bed time. Before I went to sleep, I triple checked to make sure the alarms didn’t somehow go off and you know I had 15 of them set to make sure we woke up.

Fortunately, everything went semi smooth on Saturday morning. I woke up when I needed to and got ready before Mila even stirred. When I woke her up, she did fairly well. I’m pretty sure she was still half asleep, but we got packed up and we’re on our way. Although everything went smooth, I was still running a little behind. After I passed Mila’s overnight oats back to her, I sent a text letting the person know I’d be a little late. I was about halfway to Zoar, so 15 minutes out, when I got her text back... turns out, our pictures were the next day, Sunday. I had completely read the previous message wrong and my mind was set. After the stress of making sure Mila was up and we got there at a decent time, I just started to laugh. This was just our luck and my little mom fail.

We ended up making my little mistake into an adventure by going to play at Tuscora Park and crossing another item off our bucket list. Mila absolutely loves going to different parks and even though we’ve been there before. She still had a blast. It’s fascinating to see how much she’s changed in her play and interactions with other kids.

She can’t quite get up the big slide, but refuses to sit in the baby swing. If kids are smaller than her, she’ll go up and try to touch them. If they’re bigger, she thinks she’s big too and tries to talk to them. No matter who’s around though, I’m still her safe place and home. She runs to me when she’s scared or upset or just needs a hug. That warms my heart more than anything and let’s me know she loves me no matter how much I mess up.

I love being that for her and I hope I always can be; even though I think she’ll be less and less forgiving when I get her up early for no reason.

If you’re wondering, Sunday went fantastically. She smiled for pictures, went to a birthday party, and got to play outside. She took TWO naps after fighting me to take one lately. We even had to wake up early this morning and she did so well. Hopefully tomorrow, the fourth day in a row, she does the same. Fingers crossed.

So instead of getting mad at myself for my early morning fail, Mila has taught me to not take everything so seriously and to make adventures out of missed ones (or ones that we were just way too early for).

I hope everyone had a great weekend! Mila and I have a busy week ahead and I can’t wait to share our next adventures; fails or not.

Stars and Stripes: Beach Edition.

Fourth of July weekend did not go entirely as planned. By that, I mean it didn’t go at all how I thought it would.

I’ve spent every Fourth of July weekend in my hometown. There’s a parade, fireworks, and a big cookout. Heck, that’s why I picked a few things on our summer bucket list. So when my mom texted and asked if we wanted to go to the beach for the weekend instead, I was a little shocked. But, who can pass up the beach? So we packed up and headed to Savannah, Georgia, which is right by Tybee Island and Hilton Head.

Instead of outlining everything we did, I’ll just say we had a blast. I swear Mila gets more adventurous and hilarious every single day. It felt like we were either chasing after her or laughing with her.

One of the funniest things that kept happening is her saying her new word. The last two weeks she’s been learning the word ‘hot.’ Like if there’s coffee around or the stoves on, I tell her it’s hot and not to touch. Of course, she’s been experimenting on how to say it and it’s the cutest. Check the video at the end of the post to see what I’m talking about. Anyways, the first day we went to Tybee Island and we got her out of the truck. It was like 100 degrees out and like thick air. I don’t think Mila has ever experienced heat like that. My brother’s fiancée, Chelsea, was holding her and Mila she looked at her and just said ‘hooooooot,’ like it had finally clicked what hot actually meant. After that, every time we went outside, she had to let us know she felt the heat.

We also learned even when Mila’s teeth are hurting and the suns too intense for her to eat, she’ll always take a mouthful of sand. If the sand wasn’t in her mouth, it was all over her body or being thrown on someone else’s. It’s a good thing she likes the water because we were always going back in to get it off of her. As soon as we went back to land, she’d just cover herself again. We pick our battles as parents, don’t we?

No matter if she was covered in sand or pushing down sand castles, she was having a blast. Somehow after applying sunblock multiple times throughout the days, she still ended up with a perfect beach tan. The Fourth of July this year didn’t come with fireworks or a parade, but I think it was one of our best.

Even though Mila and I didn’t check off the expected bucket list items, we did check off beach day and made way more memories than I imagined. I wonder which ones we’ll get to next.

How did your holiday weekend go? And make sure to check out this cute video of Mila saying ‘hot.’

Toddler Friendly Summer Bucket List – Go On A Hike

This week is going to be full of crossing bucket list items off and today was no different. Although the Coshocton Three Rivers Bikeway might technically not be a hike, it is with a one year old. Good thing we had the best company in tow.

Located just outside of Roscoe Village in Coshocton, Ohio, the Three Rivers Bikeway is an easy walking, biking, and pushing a stroller path. It’s paved so it’s smooth sailing and wide enough to get around people too. Although we went on seemingly the hottest day of the year (not complaining), the water and trees provided us a nice breeze and shade. I didn’t keep a step count, but the trails around two miles long.

There were lots of benches and spots to picnic along the way. Locks that were once used for canals provide even more shade and exploration. I can definitely see lots of places to take pictures, maybe Mila and I will be back in the fall to do so.

The path circles a pretty big pond, which was beautiful. If you’re into fishing, there were spots to fish. We didn’t have our bathing suits, but the aquatics park was there. I was a little jealous of everyone swimming and even Mila was pointing to it. If you go and have extra time, I’d suggest going there or even taking a canal boat ride.

Although we just walked the pathway, it was really nice and gives kids a lot to look at. Mila was pointing to all the animals, trees and water areas. As I said, it was super hot or we would have probably explored more. One thing I wish I would have done was brought better bug spray. Mila didn’t get bit, but the mosquitoes attacked me. I’ll be itchy, but at least they didn’t get her. BUT I’d definitely recommend taking big spray and lots of water!

Afterwards, we went into Roscoe Village toneat at Warehouse Stein n Stein & Lock 27 Pub. My best friend went with us and it was his birthday too (happy birthday again to you!). If you go, definitely get the bacon and mac n cheese burger. It did not disappoint! The restaurant was kid friendly, even when Mila was grumpy and ready to leave.

We were there for a few hours, but could have easily spent all day here. I can imagine I’d be a great day trip when she’s older and can really experience all of what Roscoe Village has to offer.

I am DEFINITELY checking this off as a hike, but imagine we’ll go on more this summer. It’s another day to remember and so many memories were made.

Mila and I are both looking forward to this holiday weekend and will have another adventure to tell you about. We hope it’s a safe and fun one for you too.

If you have any other places (hikes, museums, or adventures in general) you’d think Mila and I would like, let me know in the comments!