Toddler Activity: Salt Dough

When I first thought about doing Easter crafts, I wanted to get wooden Easter eggs to paint. With everything going on, I didn’t want to leave my house with Mila and chance anything. Instead, I started seeing recipes for salt dough and knew I had everything on hand. I just didn’t realize they were going to be such a labor of love.

The salt dough recipe I used was:

1 cup flour

1/2 cup salt

1/4 to 1/2 cup of water

Then, preheat over to 200 and bake for hours*

Simple enough right? I measured out all the ingredients the night before we made the dough so it was ready to go for Mila and me.

Mila loved mixing the ingredients together. She insisted on pouring everything in and using the spoon to mix it. When I told her to use her hands, she gave me a weird look and ran away. Funny enough, she went to put her hands in the dirt, which I guess is better in her eyes? Anyways, I kneaded the dough until I thought it was good enough. Since it was our first time, I wasn’t exactly sure how it needed to be, but we went with it. It reminded me of pizza dough.

After I had rolled it out and was ready to cut, dilemma there… mila was ready to help out again. I wanted to make eggs shapes, but it turns out I only have Christmas cookie cut outs and rainbow/unicorn/magic ones. I ended up using the top of a mason jar, grabbing the top of it to stretch the dough out in an egg-like shape. Obviously it wasn’t perfect, but it worked out for us.

Along with a few weirdly, shaped eggs, I had Mila make two little handprints as well. I only have a few hand and foot prints of Mila since she’s been born. I thought it was a perfect time to do it for us, since she turns two here so soon. She kept saying ‘hand’ and wanted to make more prints. I do think I’ll try to make salt dough hand imprints every year since she enjoyed it and to mark her growth.

Anyways, the handprints and eggs were formed and ready for the oven. Up until this point, I thought it was all going really well.

I kept checking the ornaments every hour. After a couple hours, I still didn’t feel like they were done completely. They still felt mushy and maybe I just didn’t do it right? Or maybe they would’ve hardened up after I took them out of the oven? I’m really unsure where I messed up, but I had them in the oven for a crazy amount of time. Probably like seven hours in all. Next time I try to make something like this, I’m going to see if it was just a first time fluke or maybe I’m just bad at making them.

After they were finally done, I spray painted them white and let Mila paint most of the eggs and her hands, but one, because I really wanted to join the fun.

I think they turned out amazingly, especially after everything and all the time we put in them. Mila loves holding her hand. This Easter craft will be something Mila and I look back on in the future and smile about. I feel like it’ll always be excited to pull them out and see what she did when she was almost two!

Ever since she was born, I knew I wanted to make these type of memories with her. I missed so many with Jensen. Plus, Mila has fun with them so it’s not completely in vain.

Instead of just stringing them up in the house, I did something a little special. A few days ago, I read something about how communities are putting eggs in their windows for kids to go on ‘Easter egg hunts’ amidst social distancing. I thought this was so cute and I’m hoping some other people in our town have done the same! This is what I have strung in one of my windows.

If you live by me and are hunting for eggs, your kids will definitely be able to find them! I can’t wait to see everyone else’s.

So, although we had a little trouble with our baking, I love how everything came out. Mila had a blast and we were able to create some magic for Easter this year.

If anyone has made salt dough in the past, did it take ages for yours to bake? If not, do you have any tips or idea in what I did wrong? LOL. Just trying to get better for next time!

Mom Tip of the Week: Grazing Boards

Sometimes it’s a struggle to get Mila to sit down and eat a meal. She’s always been an on-the-go snacker, which definitely blurs lunch and snack times so much. We do sit down for breakfast and dinner everyday, but between then, it’s a free for all.

I worry as a mom… Is Mila getting what she needs? Is she eating enough? Is she eating too much? I’m constantly questioning her food intake and it’s honestly something I don’t want to stress about on top of everything else.

A couple weeks ago, I saw some Instagram posts and pins about grazing tables. It’s a way people can have a spread of different kinds of food and be able to eat at their own pace. I was excited to try it with Mila to see how she responded to it.

Top row: grapes, baby carrots, cheese, goldfish

Middle row: pretzel sticks, ham, pistachios, pear

Bottom row: M&M’s, Cheetos, turkey, green olives

I picked things Mila LOVES and asks for all the time, as well as, healthier options that I convince her to eat. Obviously, you can customize the food options to what best works with your child or even themed trays with the cheese and fruit being cut out in fun shapes. I’d love to do a rainbow board!

When Mila first saw her grazing board, she was definitely curious and picked at every item. The longer it was out, she ate her favorites first. I liked that I could pick at it too and since it wasn’t just on ‘her plate,’ she was happier to share.

I think this would be perfect for multiple kids and at all ages. It’s easy to put together and didn’t take long either!

If I get really creative, I’ll have to share if I make a fun board. But the grazing board is here to stay.

Toddler Activity: Easter Painting

One of my favorite activities to do with Mila is her seasonal painting.

Since she was eight months old, I’ve had Mila paint with festive colors. Her first one was Christmas inspired. She had so much fun doing it, I wanted to keep on going. I’m unsure how many paintings I have now, but there’s no plans on stopping. The wall where her paintings hang has transformed into this seasonal activity wall, which is fun to update throughout the year.

The last one we did was for Valentine’s Day and I was up on the air of doing an Easter or birthday inspired one until summer. After I brought my spring decorations up, I figured I could combine the two with my other things.

Mila loves animals and lately (thanks Pets 2) has loved ‘bun buns’ or bunnies. I decided to incorporate a bunny in her painting and use colors that she enjoys so it wasn’t just Easter inspired.

To do this, I cut out a bunny head and taped it on a canvas. I let Mila choose the colors and where to put them on there. After I got the paint out, she brushed where she wanted to as normal. She picked blue, purple, pink, and yellow. After each color, I had her go play while I let the paint dry, so thankful for hair dryers.

Some of the paint did leak through the paper, so it wasn’t a perfect blanked out spot. After I got it dried and pulled it off, I put some white paint to touch it up. It turned out really cute and I like it not being ‘perfect.’ She was so proud of it too and kept pointing to the spot yelling ‘bun bun.’

She did such a good job with it and I really love the layered look. This can be altered to any color and image you’d like to blank out. I think tape would be easier to use, but harder to make a specific shape. This worked best for us and like I said, it’s not supposed to be picture perfect, an almost two year old made it!

I think this would be a great, quick project during quarantine to do with kids of all ages.

We’re doing more Easter crafts this week that I didn’t get to quite finish up this weekend. We’re finally decorating our salt dough ornaments and they turned out pretty good. I’ll be posting about that, my new gardening venture, and some Earth month things!

Meatless Monday: French Onion Grilled Cheese

Scrambling about what to make for dinner tonight? How about a meatless option that doesn’t lack any taste? Well, I’ve found the perfect recipe for you.

On Instagram, I found a guy named @nishcooks. He makes videos of all kinds of different meals that are pretty simple to make. He provides the recipes and the videos shows how he quickly makes them. One video that jumped out to me was his French Onion Grilled Cheese.

The ingredients he uses are :

  • Whole onion
  • Sour dough bread
  • Cheddar (preferably Swiss)
  • Provolone
  • Butter

Well, I didn’t have everything he had specifically so I modified mine a bit. I used one yellow onion, Gouda cheese, and regular wheat bread. It’s what I had on hand, so I figured it’d be fine. I also used salt and pepper to spice the onion.

These were my ingredients after I sautéd the onions. That part took a little while, like forty minutes and lots of butter… so worth it in the end. I grated the Gouda and honestly, I know traditional French onion soup uses Swiss, but the cheese paired so well the the onions and everything.

If I knew how good it was going to taste, I probably would have made way more. Mila had soup, her favorite lately, but stole a few bites of my sandwich. When I last went to the grocery store, I grabbed extra onions to make this sandwich again.

Just looking at the pictures again makes me want to make it right now. I love grilled cheese normally, but the onions just elevated it to the next level.

You guys should definitely try it and let me know how you liked it. If you’re looking for some dinner inspiration and are on Instagram, check out @nishcooks. Happy making!

Mila Tries Internet Activities: Easter Egg Sort.

Another day, another toddler activity to try with Mila.

For the last week or so, I’ve seen so many Easter inspired activities. Since we’re going to be quarantined until Easter, I thought I’d tackle one activity a day. A lot of them used the little, plastic eggs that you can put things in. So I got a bag of them for a dollar at the dollar store and thought I’d give it a go.

Turns out, Mila loves the eggs as they come. She will just sit there and open and close all then over and over. We’ve played little games where I have her give me certain colors or we count them. I think an easy, independent activity to do would be a basic color sort.

Since it was so nice out yesterday, I figured we could do something with them out there. I grabbed painters tape, a tub from an organization bin, tongs and a spoon, and her basket of eggs. You’re supposed to make a crazy pattern for your toddler to maneuver around with the tongs, grab the egg, and put it in a basket or even color sort. I got the inspiration from this activity from The Ever Co’s Instagram page (@theeverco).

After I was done getting the tape on there, we went outside. Her and Max ran around for a while and played fetch. When they were over that, they ran to me, but I already had something for her to do.

At first, I just watched to see what she’d do. She stuck her hand in there and got it caught on the tape, which really surprised her. After I told her to use the tongs and put them in the basket, she was on a mission. She played independently for about forty-five minutes with it. When she realized she could put the eggs back in there, she would open them up and try to pick them up that way. To challenge her further, I’d definitely do different colored bowls for her to place the egg into. Maybe next time.

One thing I would have changed if I didn’t throw it together in five minutes… instead of painters tape, I would have used different sizes of yarn and ribbon. Sometimes the eggs or tongs got stuck on the sticky side. She worked around it, but it might have been nicer if that wasn’t in the way.

Hopefully if you get to try this activity, it works a nicely as it did for me. Today, Mila and I are going to try to make salt dough Easter eggs and paint them. Wish us luck!

Mom Tip of the Week: Water Works.

Today was absolutely BEAUTIFUL outside. We had sunshine and warmish weather this morning and afternoon. Mila and I were outside for like three hours and I feel so refreshed. We try to get outside for a little bit every day, but it’s just different when it’s perfect out.

ANYWAYS…

Since it was so nice outside and I needed to get some things done, I knew I had to get Mila doing an activity. We had brunch, the she free played in the yard while I started on my homework this week. It’s like she has this alarm in her head when I get my laptop out. As soon as I started typing, she ran over to me and sat in my lap. It happens and I can’t be mad at her cute face. I asked her to go rake the leaves back in the pile and I’d get a sentence or two done and she was yelling at me.

I was looking around at what I could distract her with and all I could see was her water table, which I would 100% recommend to anyone. The big thing with getting the water table is she would have water everywhere and it’s not that warm out.

But I know water works; especially with Mila.

I went inside my house and went to get a big tub from my storage container to put water in. Then, I filled it up like a quarter of the way and had her pick up all the balls in our yard. To make it fun, I put Dawn dish soap in there to make bubbles. She loves swishing water around to make them bigger so that was a hit. I also got different cups/containers, utensils, and her bath baby.

With all the parenting blogs and instagram accounts I follow, they all recommend using tongs to promote fine motor skills. I finally got Mila do use them and she was picking up all the balls. She played with just the tongs for like thirty minutes. When she was over that, I told her to give her baby a bath and to make sure all the balls were squeaky clean. She was occupied for about an hour, which gave me plenty of time to write my discussion board posts and replies. j

Water works! I think it’s so cool how interested toddlers, and kids in general, are so into playing with water. Mila will fill up a cup and empty it in the bath for such a long time. Anytime she’s grump, I’ll put her in the bath or put a towel under a tub so she can play inside when it isn’t nice out.

After playing and cleaning everything up, Mila was ready for her ‘nack’ (snack), watched Moana, and is still napping. I’d say it was a pretty successful morning and afternoon playing in the water.

Peep the Nutella on Mila’s face…

Yeah, my ‘mom tip’ might be pretty weak, but being under lockdown can feel overwhelming for parents and that thirty minutes to an hour can truly make it or break it. Although we did it as an outdoor activity, don’t be afraid to bring it indoors. I’m feeling a lot less stressed today with some me time and checking items off my to do list today.

And I just love sharing how Mila’s growing with you all. If any activities help you as well, then it’s even better.

I hope you guys are keeping sane throughout this madness! As always, if you have any fun toddler activities, I’d love to hear and try them out!

Rainbow Hunting.

One of Mila’s favorite things to do is paint… hence the paint still on her face.

She knows exactly where all the materials are and goes up to them and says, ‘I paint!’ We usually try to paint twice a week, but it can be a lot sometimes. She’s not super into coloring yet, but I’m going to keep pushing it.

Anyways, while looking for activities to do while we’re locked down, I actually got invited to a random Facebook group. It’s called 518 Rainbow Hunt – Spreading Rainbows Worldwide. If you look it up on Facebook, it’ll pop up and you can join the group.

It’s really cool actually. There’s a Google link that you can add your house or whatever to show that you are participating. You can also just post a picture too. I loved looking at everyone rainbows and really enjoy how someone created something so creative to spread hope during this time. Plus, I love rainbows. They mean so much to me and Mila will always be my rainbow personified.

Well, this morning, Mila asked if she could paint. I had already planned out to do this craft Monday night, so we jumped right into it. So, I low key feel like a weird person because I made one too, but Mila thought it was so cool that I painted with her. She hyped me up by clapping every time I painted another layer to the rainbow. Just as I did for her too.

They both turned out so good. I’m so proud of Mila and how well she did keeping the colors where they needed to be. This is one of my favorite little projects we’ve done. I had fun with it and Mila did too. She got it all over herself and face. Some age was doing that, I added clouds and a string to each so we could hang them up in the windows.

While Mila napped, which she did immediately after this, I went and hung them up. I am SO proud of how they turned out and that her painting skills are getting more consistent.

I love the symbol of rainbows and how they instill hope. Through this time of isolation, I think we all need a little hope and to know there’s an eventual end in this craziness. I also love that my rainbow made one for herself too. She has no idea how special she is and what she means to me. Here’s a closer look at Mila’s little rainbow. If you’re local and know where I live, you’re able to see it in the window.

Our next craft is going to be salt dough Easter eggs. I wanted to start a tradition with getting wooden eggs and have her decorate one every year, but I can’t go to Joann’s this year. So instead, we’re going to make a bunch of the salt dough ornaments and decorate them. I’ll make sure to share when I do that and the recipe I use too!

As always, if you have any recommendations of what Mila and I should do, let me know! I’ve been trying to look at some of The Mama Notes activities. It’s a really good blog with a ton of different things for toddlers to do. These rainbows are inspired by her posts earlier this month. There she talks about using other supplies on hand rather than just paint. Some used ribbon, paper, and other supplies that made beautiful rainbows. Mila just likes paint so, that’s what we went with. Also, if you decide to make a rainbow for the rainbow hunt, posts in the comments or in the community Facebook group. I love seeing all the rainbow pictures and knowing we’re not all alone through this.

A Pandemic Pause: Meatless Mondays

COVID-19 has me stressed out. When I wake up, I’m looking to see if there are any updated, then I feel like I’m waiting for two o’clock to see what Governor DeWine has to say, and afterwards I’m reading articles about it all. While taking a minute to myself today, I realized I HAVE to get away from continuously checking up on what’s going on and focus my attention on other productive things.

As any millennial would do, I’m going to share what’s going on by writing what Mila and I are doing to get through this pandemic. So, thanks for reading along, as always…

In January, I started really researching ways to become eco friendly. I’ve wanted to write about some changes I’ve made since the beginning of the year and now may be the time where I finally get to it. Anyways, one change I kept reading about was having a ‘meatless’ day once a week. Many people do “Meatless Mondays” and that’s what I’ve tried to do too.There’s a lot of information about why going meatless one day a week helps the environment. I could probably list and talk about each of them, but here’s a website that’ll do it for me.

I am not vegan or a vegetarian, so this was a new venture for me. When I decided to go for it, I went to Pinterest for recipes and different ideas.

One really jumped out at me because it looked so good AND I knew Mila would try it all together, but definitely eat the ingredients separately. I had everything in my house, besides goat cheese (which isn’t meatless, I know), but I knew where to get it. The recipe is a smashed chickpea and goat cheese wrap found at Parsnips and Pastries.

A few things I tweaked with the recipe was:

  • I didn’t use roasted peppers, just fresh.
  • No mircogreens or sprouts. Spinach!
  • No basil.
  • I used different spices as well that I use with almost everything.

Mila ate so many olives, plain chickpeas, and the goat cheese. I just let her eat whatever she wanted and didn’t push the wrap on her. She did like the filling, but preferred to pick and eat like usual. I REALLY loved this recipe and how it turned out. It’s made me excited to try more vegetarian and vegan meals.

I actually made this last week, but am going to try a different recipe tonight. I’m out of avocados right now and am like not wanting to go back to the store, so I’m going to be creative in what I make for tonight. Maybe this with some tweaks.

A little mom/parent tip for those with upcoming toddlers… just know however healthy and tasty of a meal you make, your toddler will probably prefer to something like this instead.

If you have ANY suggestions or meatless recipes you’d like to share with me, I’d love to try them out. Eventually, I’d like to do Meatless Mondays with one meal completely vegan. I’m trying to take stepping stones in doing a vegan day. The three things that are getting me are eggs, cheese, and milk. MIla and I consume all of them everyday. We’ll try to do better, but give us time.

While writing this, I can definitely see why bloggers have a hard time just sharing their recipes. Food invokes wanting to share more. I think during this time of crisis that our world is going through, it’s nice to connect with each other and see how we’re all getting through.

I have some other things I’d like to share with you guys this week! Especially a craft/cause Mila and I are going to do this week. Another thing I’d like to know or get tips on is not being afraid to go to the grocery store to get the essentials. I really just need some fresh fruit and veggies, so maybe I’ll start searching with what I can do with my canned items.

To conclude this ever long pandemic pause, I hope you all are feeling well and are making space for yourself through all of it.

One Weekend In Louisville: Toddler Included

Let us cut to two weekends ago…

The coronavirus was not rapidly spreading throughout the US and the world felt a little more normal. (By the way, Mila and I are doing okay here! We’re just staying at home and to ourselves.) Since I was on spring break from school, I thought it would be a nice weekend to getaway. After a little research, I settled on Louisville, Kentucky!

Not your average and usual spring break spot and maybe not the first place you’d think about taking your toddler, you know…the birthplace of bourbon. BUT it’s less than a five hour drive for me, there’s a TON of museums with a wide variety that anyone could enjoy, and GIANTS.

After booking the hotel room, packing up the car, and getting all the snacks for Mila and I, we headed out midday Friday.

Let me tell you, I was nervous for the drive to Louisville. Mila still really dislikes being in the car to the point where the only way she doesn’t cry is if it’s twenty minutes in the car OR I can use an iPad to distract her. Honestly, we only had to stop once on the way there. Disney+ and Pets 2 on Netflix (better known to Mila as ‘Dog, Cat, Baby’) really saved me with nap time.

Mila fell asleep looking at her Gigi and Papa.

We didn’t end up to the hotel (which was downtown, so easy to get to, and the staff was friendly) until like seven. If you don’t know anything about Louisville, just know almost everything closes at five. So, Mila and I ordered Chinese in and went swimming in the pool. Honestly, I think we could’ve went to any hotel with a pool and Mila would have been a happy camper.

The next morning, we sort of slept through breakfast… oops. The pool really tired her out. But, we woke up, got ready, and started our little adventure.

Kentucky Derby Museum

We started out at Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. This wasn’t originally planned until I got to the hotel. I’m not a huge fan or horses (I literally call them land sharks), but Mila is really into animals. After looking at their website, I found that their museum was super interactive and we could see one of their horses too.

I let Mila wear her fancy dress and she had an absolute blast. There was so much there to learn for me, but even more to play with for her. She was obsessed with this game where you sat on a fake horse and did a virtual race. There were three horses that could race against each other and somehow all she had to do was sit there and she only didn’t come in first place once? It was really weird and funny. Maybe her yelling, ‘GO, GO, HORSE, GO!’ helped. We spent a good while there and I had to promise her there were more horses for her to see.

Honestly, Mila loved looking at the hats and outfits they had displayed, wanted to sit on every fake horse we saw, danced through their 360 movie, and was shocked when she saw their horse and pony. I am SO glad I decided to take her to this specific museum. She really loved stand I got to learn a few things too. We were there for about two hours, maybe a little more. It was definitely worth the price of the tickets for as much as we did, and we didn’t even do the included walking tour.

You can check out the website, here.

Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest

One of the big draws to go to Louisville was the giants at Bernheim. I don’t really remember how I found out about them, but they’re made from recycled materials and they’re really neat. The forest has a lot of walking paths, playgrounds, and information throughout. Mila loves being outside, so anytime I can incorporate that, I’m all for.

We actually went straight to the forest after being at Churchill Downs. Mila napped on the way down there and as I got changed to hike through a forest. I woke her up, got her changed, and we were so hungry. They have a little café called Isaac’s Café in the visitor center. A really cool fact is they grow their vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers a stones throw away. Everything tasted really fresh and Mila ate all of the sandwich.

Everyone who was in the forest and the people who worked in the visitor center were kind and helpful. Interacting with everyone there really made our time at Bernheim special. I would 100% recommend anyone who is visiting the Louisville area to check out the forest. As an adult, I know most people that way are going to the Bourbon Trail, but this is a good way to escape that. The giants were amazing to see in person and I loved the stories that went with them.

I know the giants won’t be around forever, so I’m glad we got to see them. If I had another day in Louisville, I would have spent the whole day there. Maybe another time!

To learn more information about Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, click here.

After a few hours, we went back to the hotel, and again, we were beat. We ended up napping and my mom and dad surprised us by meeting us in the city. When they got there, we, again, ordered in so we could spend some time in the pool.

The pool was probably the most fun of everything. Mila was singing and stomping her foot to make noises. She jumped in the pool… all by herself, after throwing the ball across the pool. It was scary, but she wanted to keep doing it. Summer should be a joy to try to keep her out of the pool.

I think everyone fell asleep pretty quick after the day Mila and I had AND after my mom and dad drove all day. We did wake up for breakfast the next morning, so score one for us.

Another big thing I wanted to take Mila to was the Louisville Zoo. We drove out there and were about to talk in when we realized a lot of people were leaving after the zoo was only open for forty minutes. A lot of the animals aren’t out because of the time of the year. Mila also fell asleep in the car on the way there. We made the executive decision not to even go to the zoo and change our plans…

Muhammad Ali Center

I had heard so many good things about the Ali Center and I knew there we interactive parts for Mila. Honestly, there was so much infomraiton. I learned a lot about Ali, historical racial issues in the US, and about boxing. All the exhibits let you be interactive and if Mila wasn’t so tired or if she was a little older, I think I could’ve spent a lot more time there. But with a tired, almost two year old, you do what you can.

We played a lot with their boxing area. There was a boxing ring, shadow boxing, and speed bag. I low key feel bad for how much time we spent there, but Mila was all for it. It was fun to like have little competitions between the three adults too.

By the time we got done playing, Mila seriously needed food and a nap. Again, I wish I had more time to go through, but again, I can always go back when Mila is older and she can appreciate the education too.

Learn more about the center here.

Troll Pub Under the Bridge

At this point in the trip, Mila and I had only been to one sit down restaurant and I hadn’t had any bourbon. I don’t drink frequently, but I really wanted bourbon since I was in Louisville. Anyways, after looking on Pinterest for child-friendly restaurants and something that was unique, I found the Troll Pub Under the Bridge.

Honestly, I LOVED this little pub. It’s aesthetic was perfect and the theme was spot on. The food was delicious. I got the burger with beer cheese and it was delicious. My dad got the chicken and waffle sandwich, that made me jealous I didn’t get it. The berry, bourbon drink I got was fantastic. Seriously, just an overall positive experience for me. Mila liked her food, but was a tiny bit afraid of the troll that she called ‘beast.’

If you’re Louisville definitely check Troll Pub Under the Bridge. Their website is here.

After going back and forth of whether we should leave or not, we walked around downtown for a little bit. Louisville is such a walkable city. We did notice all the home plates and bats commemorating different baseball players and the bats they used. I went back and forth of whether I should take Mila to the Louisville Slugger museum. Well, we thought what the heck and decided to go!

Louisville Slugger Museum

So I fibbed a little bit. We technically went to the museum and saw the biggest bat and glove there is in the world, but we didn’t go through the museum. I had a bat custom made for Mila. Of course it’s pink and mini and perfect for her to chase me around the house with. It only took around twenty minutes for it to be done. In that twenty minutes, Mila played a game of hide and seek without letting anyone know… Panic ensued. One minute she was in front of us and the next she was gone. My mom and I just like instantly searched the store, then my dad said something to let us know she was okay. She decided it’d be fun to hide in the clothes rack… not fun, but she was safe so I didn’t care.

Again, we didn’t go and see how the bats were actually made and this history of it. We did go to the batting cages and Mila played in their little area. We actually put Mila in their kids tball batting cage… she liked hitting, maybe needs to work on her aim. But it’ll all come together.

Louisville Slugger Museum (or what we saw) was a hit. Pun fully intended. I can imagine the full tour was informative and the building was beautiful.

If you’ve never been there, check out their website here.

Mila and I had such a blast exploring Louisville and were happy that my mom and dad could join along too. It was so nice to get out before the coronavirus hit. A mini vacation before our quarantine.

I can’t wait to start exploring with Mila more this summer and as she grows older no.

For now, I just keep looking back at pictures and am so thankful for everything in my life. In less than a month, Jensen will be four and Mila two. Through all the craziness, there is so much to be happy about.

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.