Liam and I are loving this beautiful weather! We enjoyed our "mommy and me" hike at Windsor Castle Park in the heart of historic Smithfield, VA. Windsor Castle is scenic, peaceful, serene, and ultimately a dream hangout for nature lovers. I believe this is going to be one of mine and Liam's favorite places to enjoy nature and workout outside this spring/summer.
Liam and I enjoyed a lovely 3 mile hike at Windsor Castle last week. He was overjoyed that we saw so many dogs (of course he had to bark at each one) and could watch people fish or take their kayaks out. As pictured above, he also enjoyed the selection of sticks that he could use to direct me on our hike.
Windsor Castle has over 3.8 miles of walking trails and bridges, so you really do get in a good workout. All trails and bridges overlook beautiful landscape! They also have a playground on one of the trails, which Liam is not quite ready for yet, but he will be soon enough. They call the playground there a "Natural Playscape Park." It has a 30 ft. slide, tunnels, balance log, etc.
Windsor Castle is the perfect place to take the kids and have a picnic as the weather continues to warm up. I urge you to check out this beautiful place and just breathe in the fresh air, scenery, and overlook the Pagan River & Cypress Creek.
My son is a busy body! He loves being on the go. Non-stop. Because our place is very small right now, I really try to plan fun and cheap (preferably free) outings to keep him busy, at least one-two times week. We recently enjoyed 3 different little outings (pictured above) and wanted to share the ideas with our other toddler mommas:
1. Outdoor Play-Dates. There is nothing like an outdoor play date. Liam loves being outside and I have made it a goal to build in more socialization and outdoor time for him (well, both of us) so he can begin learning to play with others and interact with other children. Preferably without slapping them or pulling their hair like he does to me at random times throughout the day. We enjoyed our play date at a local park immensely. There was swinging, bird-watching, mud puddle sloshing, stick throwing, and kicking a mini soccer ball around! There is great fun to be had in the GRAND OUTDOORS.
2. The Library. We have really grown to love the library! Not only is it my goal to read a lot more in 2018, I want to build on Liam’s love for books. He carries his books around nonstop and wants to read his few “favorite” books 48 times in a row. Mostly animal books! Our local Library has a fun kids section that sends Liam into squeals because they have so many stuffed animals and learning toys. Most libraries also have free story & music time programs for toddlers (which we are checking out for the first time this week!).
3. BlueBird Gap Farm. This has been our favorite outing thus far! It’s nestled in a quiet part of Hampton, VA and if your child loves animals like mine does — they will go crazy! Here is their website: http://www.hampton.gov/139/Bluebird-Gap-Farm. Their playground is gargantuan and is great for toddlers like Liam (almost one and a half) and your older kids. There is a variety of animals - Liam loved the goats and birds. But, he’s definitely a bird guy.
We would love to hear your toddler outing ideas! Comment below, check out my Facebook page and drop me a line, or send me an email.
Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve in Portsmouth, VA (hofflercreek.org) is a wonderful outing for your nature loving toddler. The Hoffler Creek Wildlife Foundation manages the 142-acre preserve. When we arrived at the Preserve, there were just a few cars parked out front. We saw a few couples and families. Liam was in a stroller because he is still all over the place with his balance and he is a runner! Since the trails are not smooth, you really have to make sure you are always aware of what is ahead so you will not take a stumble (helloooooo, roots).
Liam and I strolled down the main paths and ventured down the kids trail. Liam loved sitting on the pier and watching the water, birds, and the ducks that were enjoying the weather! Hoffler Creek says on their website, "Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve is a passive use facility. When visiting, please respect our wildlife by refraining from smoking, jogging, biking and dog walking." This was also posted all over.
You must respect the wildlife! It is definitely a reserve - quiet and peaceful. I have been there a few times and have always seen people respecting the rules. Everyone has always been extremely friendly. We give Hoffler Creek a 5 star rating for our mommy and me nature date.
If you enjoy walking trails, this is the perfect place to visit. The lake is the center of all the trails you can stroll. There is also a picnic shelter there if you want to have a picnic with your tot.
Hoffler Creek also had this lovely map on their website (they also have it available for download - they actually encourage you to do so!):
Enjoy, lovelies! Happy trails.
Stay tuned for other fun (and free) adventures you can do with your toddler!
In 2018, it is my heart's desire to write more lifestyle blogs and more about mom life and life with a toddler. One thing I have quickly learned about being a toddler mom is that you have to be organized everywhere you go. If you are going out to a restaurant or event - you must bring extra snacks/toys. If you are going to run errands - you must pack extra snacks/toys. If you are traveling - you must bring LOTS of snacks for the road. Are you sensing a theme here? In my one year old's world, his day revolves around his snacks and meals. He is a goldfish chewing (and throwing), yogurt loving, milk chugging kinda guy. Actually, as I am writing this, he is holding onto my shoulder eating his goldfish snacks and rubbing the crumbs all over my black pants.
We had the wonderful opportunity to travel with several family members on my side of the family to the Outer Banks last weekend. We stayed in a beautiful multi-family beach house, so it was spacious and equipped with lots of toddler helps (baby gate & high chair for the win!). I managed to ONLY pack 3 bags for my little stinker for the weekend (one was his diaper bag and one was a toy bag), so I wanted to share 3 simple tips for traveling with a toddler:
1. Research your destination. My mom told me there would be a baby gate and high chair, which helped us, for sure! They also had a pack-in-play, but we still brought ours. But, if I was traveling somewhere new, I would definitely want to find out what I need to bring and what is already there. Anytime we can save car space and shoulder strength from multiple trips to the car, it’s a win!
2. Pack your toddler’s favorites. Liam does not do well out of his normal routine, so I like to pack the things that make him feel more at home. He has a hippopotamus that plays music at night, a stuffed animal and blanket he likes to sleep with, his favorite bath toys, etc. This helps our little guy immensely because he is serious about his routine every single day. He wakes up and picks up the same exact toys every morning. Routine-oriented for sure!
3. Toys and snacks. I feel like the answer to most things is toys and snacks with Liam. Long car ride? Toys and snacks. Stuck inside because of bad weather? Toys and snacks. Most travel destinations do not have toys and if they do, have they been washed? Yes, I’m THAT parent!
These are my simple travel tips. What are yours? Please feel free to share!
Funville Playground was exceptional from beginning to end!
I am a bargain shopper and try to look for inexpensive and fun things to do with our one year old who loves adventuring and exploring. The first find of the winter was a memorable one that I highly recommend. In late November, we enjoyed our family outing and adventure at Funville Playground & Café at Chesapeake Square for the first time (we have been back since then!).
Funville Playground was exceptional from beginning to end. Not only was the staff friendly and helpful - it was inexpensive, clean, and had a variety of things that were age appropriate for Liam and for the family at large. Liam was still fairly new to walking when we first went, but everything was padded and safe for clumsy tots. Three words to best describe it: unique, clean, and affordable.
Be sure to check it out! It will be the best $5 you ever spend and the memories will be worth much more. Stay tuned for some other winter bargains for you and your toddler.