10 (Inexpensive!) Spring Break Staycation Ideas.

It's time for Spring Break! If you don't have any plans that are beckoning you to the beach (although I'm sure we all wish we had those plans...), I've compiled a list of fun, inexpensive things to do for a staycation. Next week is Everett's preschool spring break, and I was getting a little worried that I would feel kind of trapped at home for a week with nothing to do and nowhere to go. Truth be told, we love to travel, and most of the time I would have planned a trip for the week. However, I think it's really important to be able to make fun at home and explore what's right around at home. I think it teaches kids to be creative with what they're given instead of always needing a new toy or exotic trip to create excitement for them. And let's be honest, I should be flexing my mom magic to make everyday things a little bit more magical :)

Amicalola Falls State Park, in all it's glory.

Amicalola Falls State Park, in all it's glory.

1. Explore State and/or National Parks.
This is the perfect time of year to visit a state park in Georgia because it's not too hot yet! Come June, you practically need an IV drip to stay hydrated while you hike around, but in April? The weather is perfect (other than the pollen, but hey, you can't win em all). While admission to the park might cost a few bucks, this is a great way to get outdoors with your family and hike, fly a kite and enjoy a packed lunch. A few of my favorites in this area are Sweetwater Creek State Park (we went glamping here once :), Cloudland Canyon State Park, and Amicalola State Park (we hiked this last summer and it was sooo hard!) Also, I like to follow @exploregeorgia on instagram to get inspired about new places to visit in our great state ;)

2. Take advantage of the Local Library.
This might sound a little lame, but have you been to your local library lately? It's worth exploring, especially if you have little kids. Every library is stocked with resources and classes - I had no idea that our local chapter offered so many art & music classes, story time, language lessons and technology-based learning games. Of course, Everett always makes a beeline straight for the giant stuffed animals and then the kid computer (he likes the headphones), but usually I can pry him away to read a few books and try some other activities.

3. Try Geocaching.
Want to go on a treasure hunt? Did you know there are treasures hidden all around you, called "caches", and they are meant to be found? It's a really fun concept! Download the app and go on a "treasure adventure" with the whole family (it's like the first generation of Pokemon Go). If you want to know more about this little activity, you can watch this 75-second video. It helped me realize this is kind of cool and not at all weird :)

Everett learning to throw a frisbee last summer. He makes me laugh so much.

Everett learning to throw a frisbee last summer. He makes me laugh so much.

4. Play Sports.
This is not rocket science. Get outside and play! We love to go over to our local frisbee golf course on random week nights, because Stevie is a hippie in his heart and he's teaching Everett how to throw. Play a game that the whole family can enjoy, like wiffle ball (or baseball for those of you with big kids) in the back yard, basketball in the cul-de-sac, or soccer at the park. Sometimes the simple stuff can be really wondrous fun.

5. Back Yard Camping.
Camping with little children can be intimidating, but pitching a tent in the back yard is the perfect solution. You can still use the restroom in the house and cook up a big breakfast in the morning! This is actually a great way to "trial run" a camping experience with your kiddos if you've never taken them before, and it gives you the opportunity to pull out all your camping gear and explain it to them.

6. Explore museums.
Most museums have "free days" during certain times of the month - a list can be found here. I personally love going to the High Museum here in Atlanta, but there are tons of others that are worth checking out, like the Coca Cola Museum (a classic), the MLK Museum, Fernbank Museum and of course, the Children's Museum. Ha, just bring hand sanitizer.

7. Host a Family Film Festival.
It's time for blankets, pillows and popcorn! Vote on 2 movies and make it a double feature with pizza in the living room :) It's not like it's all that different than a Saturday night after the kids go to bed (true story, if you're over here in our shoes), but it's a really fun way to cozy up with the whole family together and watch something fun. We recently watched Finding Dory and Everett keeps asking to watch it again and again.

8. Check out local markets/fairs/festivals.
Our local farmer's market is really fun - there is usually live music and locally-made treats (hi, King of Pops!) to be enjoyed. But each community around the Atlanta area also has a slew of characteristic festivals in their area - check out a comprehensive list of Atlanta-area festivals here. So much fun to be had in the springtime here in Georgia!

9. Go fishing & canoeing.
If you live near a body of water, take advantage of it! Post a quick Facebook message and see if one of your friends has some gear you can borrow. Then trek out to the back yard and dig up some worms for bait (if you have little boys, they will love this). Again, ages of your kiddos matter - I won't be taking a newborn on a canoe anytime soon - but as long as everyone has a life vest, this would totally be an adventure.

10. Go biking and have a picnic.
This one sounds so simple, but it's so much fun. We loved when Everett got old enough to ride on the back of Stevie's bike (this bike carrier and this helmet), and he was totally mesmerized by the experience! Since the weather has started to warm up, they've been back on the bike again lately. We have amazing trails throughout our entire city that we can ride on (one of the reasons why we love living here), but there are also some great biking parks to check out, including Callaway Gardens (where I biked and was so sick last year - that's how I knew I was pregnant!), the Chattahoochee River Trail and the Silver Comet Trail. Pack a delicious lunch and bike until hungry. Make sure to pack lots of water and sunscreen, too.

There you have it! 10 ideas to get your juices flowing, outside of the normal activities like going to the zoo or getting ice cream.

Many thanks to my sister-in-law Lauren, who helped me brainstorm these ideas (so that we don't go out of our mind next week!) Any other ideas you have? Please share in the comments - I'd love to hear from you!

Happy Spring Break, everyone! xox

Exploring Ponce City Market.

If you want in on the cool, Ponce City Market should be your next venture. Located in the historic Sears Roebuck building, tucked between the Virginia Highlands and Old Fourth Ward neighborhood, Ponce City is a mixed use live-eat-play community in Atlanta, Ga. Managed by Jamestown Properties, the same developer responsible for Atlanta's Westside Provisions and New York's Chelsea Market (which I shared about when I lived there), Ponce City is another super mondo building that has been resurrected to the crowning beauty of current era urban charm. This is where you come to shop, dream and eat a drillion things.

Dancing Goat Coffee. Get you some. And how about that wall art?

Dancing Goat Coffee. Get you some. And how about that wall art?

Pork Korean BBQ bites from  Simply Seoul  - simply yes.

Pork Korean BBQ bites from Simply Seoul - simply yes.

Citizen's Supply, where crafty vendors showcase their designs.

Citizen's Supply, where crafty vendors showcase their designs.

Everett played on some of those designs.

Everett played on some of those designs.

Everett played wherever he wanted. Suddenly my stroller felt so obsolete.

Everett played wherever he wanted. Suddenly my stroller felt so obsolete.

He's got this thing with chairs lately. He really loves sitting in chairs. Just sitting in them.

He's got this thing with chairs lately. He really loves sitting in chairs. Just sitting in them.

We had a blast, finally getting the opportunity to explore this much-talked-about urban development project. There is a tonnnnn of amazing shopping, which we mostly resisted because Everett could barely make it through West Elm. But we did peek our heads into Williams Sonoma, because they were carrying some of the home line, which I've been dying to see in person. And it did not disappoint. I want it all. The Citizen Supply was really amazing - a bunch of vendors showcasing jewelry, art, clothing and accessories (and toys!) in an open, lofty space that felt really fresh and inspired. They were especially cool about letting my toddler run around and get his wiggles out while I attempted to shop, so thanks Citizen Supply! And the Food Hall was righteous - it made me want to come back on a date night to try a bite at ten little places. Plus, there's gelato that I didn't get the chance to try. So obviously we have to go back :) Although this amazing place was developed by the same company as The Chelsea Market, it reminded me an awful lot of New York's Hudson Eats, which is another tasty roundup (I chatted a little bit about it here - remember Everett with his BFF Anthony?) Whew, this was an epic day, beginning at The Children's Museum and ending with Korean BBQ - but it was SO MUCH FUN.

I hope you have the happiest weekend. If you're like me, you will be praying for this weather to turn for good and for the rising of tulips to happen :)

P.S. - I may or may not have a really cool review + giveaway coming up on Monday... see you then!

Glamping in the Winter.

Last weekend I had the opportunity to haul my family out to Sweetwater Creek State Park for a night of glamping in the woods. What is "glamping", you ask? GLAMOROUS CAMPING. It's a thing, guys. It's where you stay in a yurt - a wood and canvas structure - that has beds, a heater and usually a table and chairs. Bathrooms are shared with the entire yurt village, so you have to trek outdoors when mother nature calls. But it's a great way to take your family and still have a bit more protection and comfort while "camping".

I'll admit, I'm not a huge camper. I love nature and the great outdoors, but I've never had an excellent camping experience. I wish I had those fond memories that everyone talks about, where they grew up camping with their families and snuggling up by the fire and telling fun stories and playing with flashlights. I asked my dad the other day why we never really went camping and he said, "Kristen, I had three girls." Huh. Good point, Dad.

So I didn't grow up camping. I have, however, camped all over this beautiful country in the past 10 years or so. On this epic cross-country road trip, I had the opportunity to camp everywhere from the Grand Canyon, to Moab to Lake Powell to Tulsa to Jackson Hole. And those experiences were awesome... except for the actual sleeping in a tent part. I just always feel COLD. And yes, we have the right gear for that sort of thing. So this is just me, admitting to you, that although I love hiking and being in the woods, I don't prefer sleeping in them.

Which leads me to glamping. I have been working to expand my writing capacity (if you want to learn about my journey on becoming more intentional and pursuing dreams, check out this series), and I was sent on assignment to cover the new yurt village at Sweetwater Creek. If the tiny little article actually gets published, I will share it with you guys :) And oh, what an experience, camping with a 16-month old.

I'm gonna go ahead and be honest with you. Camping with my son. Was kind of terrible.

I love him. I adore him. I would lay down my life for him. But I literally spent the ENTIRE day saying "No, Everett! No Everett!" to pretty much everything. No, you can't walk head first into the rushing raging river. No, you can't walk by yourself while we hike because there is a cliff that you could fall off of if you wander. No, you can't touch the campfire. Because you can't. You just can't, son.

I spent an entire day having these conversations. And he's in this really fun stage where he throws his body on the ground and screams bloody murder, so we often attract attention for all the unwanted reasons. People are making sure that our son isn't being kidnapped or something. Nope. Just a normal day with Everett in this fun toddler stage. He has a will. He's not afraid of exerting the will.

Am I being too harsh?

I'm just being honest.

Once I put him down to sleep in the yurt that evening, he fell asleep in less than two minutes with the lights still on. So all that will-exertion must have tired him out, too.

Once by the campfire, Stevie made me quesadillas over the open flames and we drank beer and made s'mores and it was so so fun. I've got a good s'more strategy, I wish I could show it to you guys. But it was just us, out in the woods. Talking. Mostly about our son. But also about the direction our lives have gone, the journey we're on, the fears we have and the dreams we hope to achieve. What is it about the campfire that draws out the most deep-seated of feelings?

It was the coldest night of the year, the night we laid our heads down in that yurt. Coldest of the YEAR. It figures that we would try to sleep in the woods on the one night when things got frosty. But going to sleep in an actual bed (with our sleeping bags on top!) really, really was the icing on the cake. I just slept so warmly, and SO WELL. Until Everett woke up screaming at 1am. Am I making you guys want to have babies yet?? We tried everything we could to coax him back to sleep in his little travel crib, but he's not so little anymore and he was aware that we were in the little hut with him. So he wanted to be near us. Thankfully, Stevie had packed a third sleeping bag (it was in case I got that cold feeling I was telling you about earlier, he's such a good one you guys), and we pulled Everett and that sleeping bag into bed with us and we all slept for 7 more hours. All of us! We haven't co-slept with Everett since he was a wee little tot, and I'm surprised we didn't all wake each other up sooner. But in the morning, I was the one with the sunlight on my face, and I opened my eyes and looked at my two boys, facing each other, mouths opened, drinking in the most delicious of sleep, and wow. I felt all the feelings. So happy, content, and kind of in awe and wonder. This little family is just my gold. Even after the previous exhausting day with Everett. These two are my world.

We spent the morning eating oatmeal, enjoying the views from our deck, and drinking our happy concoction of half coffee, half hot chocolate :) This is when Everett was his usual fun self, so we had a good (redeeming!) morning with him. Then we spent our time out in the park exploring. Aside from Everett's shenanigans, everything was absolutely beautiful. There was a ton of hiking, and a beautiful creek that leads down to a historic Civil War-era textile mill (which was used and featured during the filming of The Hunger Games Mockingjay!) The stream turns into some level 4 rapids, which is apparently awesome for whitewater rafting during other seasons of the year. We just traipsed around, until Everett's war cry was enough for both of us, so we packed it up and hit the road. And vowed not to take him camping until he's at least another year older.

The consensus? Glamping is pretty cool. Glamping with a baby under the age of 2? Not so cool. But the park and the facilities and the hikes and views and history were compelling enough that when we got in the car and started driving home, Stevie was making a strategy for how we could make it a better experience next time. So who knows. We might be nuts and attempt this thing again.

If you have advice for camping/glamping/hiking with kids under the age of two, please share in the comments! Not only do I need it, but everyone else reading this would probably be interested in helpful tips!

P.S. - Don't miss out on my Christmas giveaway for him, going on now!