Summer camping with an infant & a toddler.

summer camping maggie whitley

summer camping maggie whitley

Friday morning, after Natalie’s nap, we packed up the crew and headed a little north of Santa Barbara to camp for the weekend. This is the second year now we’ve joined our friends Lukasz and Joanna, and their littles Olivia and Tytus, for a weekend of camping. In fact, last year we went with them twice, and both times I was pregnant with Natalie (I was about 12 weeks along the first time (but hardly anyone knew ;)) and about 30 weeks the second time).

kids summer camping maggie whitley

Camping has sort of become “our thing”. Yeah, it takes a lot of prep work to camp. Yeah, it usually means Zack has a crazy schedule at work leading up to our weekend sans technology. Yeah, it is dirty and off-schedule and things are so different compared to life at home. But, IT IS SO MUCH FUN, that it’s totally worth it! Side note: if it wasn’t fun and wasn’t “worth it”, we wouldn’t go.

summer camping zack max maggie whitley

Our family is used to a smaller space while at home (our apartment in Los Angeles is about 600 square feet), and many things have a dual (or trio!) purpose. Living out of a tent while we camp is of course very different than home life, but our daily experience has made tent camping much less difficult for everyone in our family.

kids summer camping maggie whitley

We are used to spending a lot of time together in a smaller space and being creative with the resources around us (hello, daily trips to the park & neighborhood amusements).

max summer camping maggie whitley

max summer camping maggie whitley

My best advice for camping with infants/toddlers is two-part: 1.) give them the chance to adventure throughout the day (fresh air + nature = the best). They love nothing more than to explore what interests them. And 2.) feed them delicious, nutritious food. Both kids fell asleep fast once they snuggled up with their blankets. It was amazing to have a little quiet time at naptime with Zack while they rested, and kick our feet up for a solid 90 minutes.

natalie summer camping maggie whitley

It was a little bit of a challenge to pull Max away from his play to eat, but if all the littles were eating then it was definitely easier to declare, “meal time!” and wrangle their buns to the picnic table :)

Prior to leaving, I prepared a lot of food for easy meals. For dinner, I made spaghetti with meat sauce and carne asada tacos with pan seared corn & black beans. For lunch, we ate chicken salad, fruit, and cheese & crackers. And for breakfast we brewed lots of coffee, and Zack made eggs and sausage for the family. All super easy, but a little different than what we’ve made in the past while camping.

summer camping maggie whitley

I almost love the drive home the best. While the kids snoozed, Zack and I had hours of (mostly) uninterrupted time together to goal-set. During this trip we talked about our financial goals and a way to track our debt-pay off progress (so exciting!), along with a few potential trips to New York for Z.

summer camping maggie whitley

Life, you are so good to us! Pacific Coast, you are gorgeous! Thanks for such a great weekend!

Do you go camping as a family, or take seasonal trips together? Where do you go, and what are your best family travel tips with kids?

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Max & Nat on the swings!

swings maxwell natalie maggie whitley

The kids and I have been stopping at the park to play a few times each week, and I feel like it’s at the playground their growth is noticed the most. Once we get there Max has to check on Natalie first, which makes her SO HAPPY!

The other day I realized I’ve hit gold with the swing set. It’s an activity they both love and it’s a good container for a little blondie I know. When on the swings, Max can’t be pushed high enough and Nat can’t stop watching her big brother. And yes, I know she’s taking notes on life ;) They are forming their friendship, and I’m all heart eyes over it.

Maxwell & Natalie on the swings! from gussy sews on Vimeo.
 

Having them so close in age is so much fun. But, I’m super relieved it’s gotten easier for me, because for a long while it was HARD. Going about our daily tasks, like getting the kids downstairs and into the stroller with Bauer in tow, are a cinch now. When do I take a shower? Who do I feed first? When do I give Max 1-on-1 time? Should I take a nap today?, these were all serious questions I was asking myself for months.

But you should see me now! Playing, meal time, diapers, creative projects, play dates, exercising, bedtime routines solo, showering — I’m definitely impressed with my progress ;) And on Sunday we began bathing both of them in the tub, and I could hardly handle the cuteness. This mamahood gig is a real treat, that’s for sure.

Los Angeles’ infamous “June gloom” is almost over, the blue sky appears flawless, my creativity is flowing, and I owe it all to running each morning with the kids. Running has been a real game changer for me, more on that soon. (But in the meantime, here’s a post I write on how to run with your kids.)

See you back here at 1pm PST for my homemade pizza dough recipe ;)

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An adventure to the pumpkin patch!

pumpkin patch west hollywood

I love when our weekends are filled with so much HAPPY! It all starts on Friday — there’s usually tons of anticipation over Zack wrapping up his work/heading home. We usually stay up a bit too late on Fridays, which means the morning always comes too soon ;) You can usually find us in our jammies as we talk about our day while playing with Maxwell and Bauer. We have wooden cars and puzzles surrounding us, the books are scattered and we slowly sip our coffee (which Max calls “hot”). Suddenly it’s lunch time and sometimes we haven’t even left the apartment yet. Oops! This past weekend we knew we wanted to finish up some things around our home and after naptime on Saturday we wanted to visit a local pumpkin patch.

pumpkin patch west hollywood

In Los Angeles it’s not uncommon for a seasonal site, like pumpkin patches or Christmas tree farms or ice-skating rinks, to rent out a lot in the middle of a neighborhood. We’ve done all three now that we’ve been here for two years, and it’s kinda fun to see palm trees amongst pine trees or bales of hay ;) Besides, it’s a huge time saver having these seasonal sites set up in a neighborhood. Driving to the other side of the mountains, where there’s more space/nature, is definitely fun but it can take foreverrrrrrrrrr with traffic.

This was Maxwell’s first visit to the pumpkin patch but I think I had just as much fun as him. We love “stepping back” a bit and watching him take it all in. Seeing what he takes interest in (pony rides! face painting! bounce house!) and watching him pick up pumpkins — it’s adorable.

pumpkin patch west hollywood 2

We found a neighborhood pumpkin patch in West Hollywood to visit on Saturday afternoon. There was a small per-person admission but the total cost went towards any pumpkin purchase. We picked out a super cute lil punkin’ and two smaller gourds for our living room, and I love how vibrant the orange and yellow colors look against our brown accent wall. Kinda makes me want to make some sort of fall garland to really cozy things up ;)

pumpkin patch west hollywood

pumpkin patch west hollywood

pumpkin patch west hollywood

Speaking of adventures, Zack begins a new chapter today in his film/commercial/visual effects career and I’m so excited for him. This is a huge blessing/answered prayer for our family and I’m super grateful. And pinch me, but word around the water cooler is he’ll be home at dinner time, regularly. Yes!

I think we’ll all be reminiscing about all the family time we had this past weekend as today carries on… mixed with anticipation on when exactly Baby #2 will be making his or her debut into our family. WE ARE READY FOR YOU, BABY! ♥

We had such a lovely weekend and I hope you did, too. And if you live in a city where the leaves change colors then I’m a little envious of you!

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Mountains, camping & a car battery.

Cachuma Lake maggie whitley

camping maggie whitley

Cachuma Lake maggie whitley

bauer maggie whitley

Cachuma Lake maggie whitley

We’ve had “go camping” on the calendar for months, but last week was so tiring and so hard, and I wasn’t sure if going would be a good idea. Maxwell had some sort of teething thing going on, so his afternoon nap was kinda non-existent (a pregnant moms worst nightmare). Zack worked late most nights. And for myself, I was plain exhausted and a bit crabby. But we pressed on, packed up the Jeep super early on Saturday morning, and arrived to Cachuma Lake Campground in Santa Barbara before lunchtime.

We joined our friends (and their kiddos) and for two full days we stared at the mountains. It was glorious. The days were hot but the nights were cool. Everyone was dirty from nature; I wore the same shirt & shorts for two days in a row. We were up early in the mornings, had campfires once the littles were tucked in bed, and I even went swimming twice. Glory hallelujah, swimming is my favorite.

I think the best part of tent camping last weekend was how it seemed to reset all of us. The fresh air relaxed us and being away from modern technologies was so refreshing. We live in a small space, and even though I love how tiny it is — how intentional we’ve become with our possessions and time, it made me even more grateful for a home with hardwood floors, a nearby bathroom & shower ;)

Also noteworthy is how amazing my husband is! On Monday, as we’re packing up the Jeep to drive back to Los Angeles, our car battery dies. The nearest auto parts store was about 18 miles away, but Zack kept the car from stalling as we drove down the mountain. We were all so dirty and tired, but I felt so grateful for Zack’s knowledge. He makes me so proud.

A few more updates (because lists are fun!):

* Happy 32 weeks today to my baby bump! I’ve been so, so warm these last few weeks, no one wants to see the outfits I’ve thrown together while at home, ha! But I’m hoping for a bump update to appear on the blog soon.

* In anticipation of Baby Whitley #2 we’re hosting a Baby Bundle giveaway on October 6th. We’re also preparing for our 2014 Holiday Gift Guide (October 1 – December 15) and are offering a special pre-book rate now through September 8th. If you’re a small business owner and are interested in sharing your products with the MWD community, click the above links. We’d love to hear from you.

* Lastly, I feel so very content with life right now. I have been praying over a few things and feel so much peace from these prayers, it’s wonderful. Things certainly aren’t easy for us but I feel way less overwhelmed and so I’m giving myself a thumbs up for happily navigating adulthood.

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