Summer Sanity: Grocery Adventuring

Hi friends! If you’re just now joining us, this is my third installment of the Summer Sanity series. If you want a list of ideas of things to do with your kiddos, Pinterest is full of long lists; most of which overwhelm me mostly because I can’t see how that idea would really mesh with me, my kids, our schedule, and what’s accessible to us. Hence this series!

I’m not seeking to give you a summer check list here. My goal is to give you an IDEA that you run away with. I talked about chores in my first post, which maybe inspired you to start a new daily routine with your kids of picking toys up before dinner. Or maybe you went all out with a sticker chart and end of the month pizza party when your kid filled up his chart. I didn’t say to do that- but maybe the idea of introducing chores to your kids sparked another idea in you that works for YALL. That’s the goal here: to light matches and stoke fires.

I remember once reading one of the above mentioned checklists when my first born was still an infant, and we were in the throws of nap-strikes mid-summer. I got to the suggestion of “visit a farmer’s market” and rolled my eyes.

“Yeah right. In the summer? By myself? In the heat? What if my baby blows her diaper out inside the Moby wrap while I’m out there where there is no restroom let alone a changing table? Puh-lease. No.”

And I closed that window like it was hot and opted for playing in the baby pool on our deck instead.

However, visiting a market is actually my third summer sanity suggestion, and if you live in the thick Southern heat like me, you’ll appreciate where my suggestion differs from the stereotypical outdoor farmer’s market setting.

My suggestion: visit a grocery store (ideally one with AC) that you don’t usually go to. Maybe one that you NEVER go to, but you’ve been to before, so you know where the bathrooms are (necessary if you’re going to be out and about with your toddler).

AND, have one item that you need to purchase there that is not from the produce section.

A gallon of milk.

A box of pasta noodles.

A loaf of bread.

Load your kiddos however suits you best, in a cart, in your baby wrap, on their leash (no judgement), and begin to explore. Walk through the produce section, which is normally near the entrance, first. If you remember that you could really use a head of lettuce, let your toddler help choose one. Walk up and down the aisles and talk about what you see with your kids, making your way into the neighboring section, and eventually to wherever that item is that you do actually need. But, have fun along the way. Linger where you can. If they’ve got cheese samples set out, let your kids enjoy one. If the baker is chatty, let your kids answer his questions and practice good manners / conversational skills.

My kids have loved our special grocery adventures. We usually use online grocery pick up, so they rarely go into the grocery store, and when they do, it’s always the same one that’s closest to our home. So, on those special occasions when we “pop into” a new grocery store, everything is really different to them. It’s like you can see the synapses forming between the neurons as their eyes take in new sights and their noses new smells. Meanwhile, the motions of going through a grocery market are still familiar and safe.

I remember when I was a little girl the rare occasions when my mom would take us to this GIANT grocery store that was a bit of a drive from our house. It was sort of the Whole Foods of our area, only twice as big as any Whole Foods I’ve ever been in. I never did anything different than what I normally did when we would go there, just walk next to my mom while she pushed the cart and did the shopping, but the experience was far from usual: the huge fish laid out on piles of ice, the lobsters swimming in tanks, the rows and rows of fresh fruits, including tropical fruits that I didn’t recognize, every single kind of nut, each in a giant see through container that seemed to reach the ceiling, ALL of the cheeses…

In every way it was a productive field trip: mom got whatever groceries she needed, and our five senses were engaged.

In essence, that is exactly what my suggestion to you is: take a productive field trip to a grocery store you rarely frequent.

As you know if you follow me on Insta, we’ve been out of town for awhile, and yesterday my kids were in a funk from being out of their routine and home and schedule, so we went to Trader Joe’s in the morning (their very first visit since we don’t have one in Arkansas). They had the best time just seeing things that were packaged and displayed differently, walking around, and getting little samples of lemonade. I had a couple things I knew I wanted to get, which honestly I probably could have gotten at the Publix just down the street. Even though the Trader Joe’s was much further away, I knew the experience would be different than what my kids are used to, so we opted for the little adventure over convenience. And everyone was glad we did.

I’ve got more summer sanity suggestions coming your way, so stay tuned.

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay

Dear Pregnant Mama of a Toddler

I have so many friends who are pregnant right now with their second baby. There is something in the water where we live, so all the rest of us who are done having babies are drinking bottled FIJI water. I kid, of course. But in all seriousness, I’m loving not being pregnant (or nursing) and watching my friends in this special season. I’m also remembering how hard that season is, and I’m wishing I could write a letter to myself when I was in that stage – pregnant with a toddler.

But, since that isn’t possible, I thought I’d write one to those of you who are in that season right now…

Dear pregnant mama of a toddler,

It’s ok to have such mixed emotions right now. You’re excited, but you’re so miserably uncomfortable. You can’t wait to meet this new little baby, but you also can’t imagine how you’re doing to do it with two little ones. How will you have enough love for both of them? Enough arms for both of them? Will this second one be anything like the first? What if they aren’t? What if they are? 

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If you want to know what “pitting edema” is just look at my swollen foot. This picture was just days away from my due date. I originally captioned this photo as, “The only good thing about my legs being this swollen is there’s more room for ‘A’ to sprawl out on.”

Well, they’re going to be different. And you’re going to be different this go around too. You know more now. Do you remember how intimidating it was when you had to figure out how to change the liner in the diaper genie? Or the first time baby #1 had a fever? Or just getting the baby in and out of the car by yourself when you ran your first errand after being cleared to drive a car postpartum?

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That is definitely my child going through all the magazines at my OB’s office. I promise we cleaned up everything before we left that day!

You feel kind of guilty for not wanting to do things- like take your toddler with you to your OB appointments, which is totally fine to do, especially if your OB delivered that first baby anyway. 

But you know what mama, once I hit that third trimester, I hired a baby sitter to watch my toddler while I went to those appointments, and not me or my husband even blinked at it. It’s hard running any kind of errand with a toddler, and when you’re pregnant, it’s super hard, and when you have to sit in a waiting room with them while your OB has to run and deliver a baby, and that waiting room, or even exam room, if you’re lucky, doesn’t have toys and TV’s playing Daniel Tiger for them to watch, that’s kind of like torture.

Honestly, I took almost every person up on their offer to help me before my due date. If someone offered to come over and watch my toddler, I said, “Come on!” In fact we have an aunt who would come over a couple afternoons a week and watch our toddler just so I could go to the grocery store by myself or get caught up on house work. So, if someone offers to take your child for a couple hours, take them up on it. (They know exactly what they’re getting themselves into.)

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When you get to get out of the house with someone who is super helpful to you, GO GET OUT OF THE HOUSE WITH THEM! The one and only Kristina Goodwin snapped this pic btw, and she is one of the most helpful people on the planet. Hence why I’m smiling so big. (It could have also had something to do with that faux fur coat I’d just bought from her vintage shop, but I digress.)

You probably have your birth plan figured out- or at least the basics like who you’ll call if the baby comes in the middle of the night. And who you’ll call 2nd if the first person you call can’t come for some reason.

I remember thinking my labor and delivery with baby #2 would go a certain way, just like I had expected baby #1’s to go a certain way. Well, you’d think after baby #1 did not go at all the way I thought she would, I’d have come to the realization sooner that baby #2 wasn’t going to follow my plan either. I do wish I’d been a little more prepared for Plan C- which in my case was a failed epidural and “natural” delivery, albeit induced. I’ve talked to other mama-friends who were in similar boats. They’d wished they’d been mentally prepared for Plan C and Plan D, not just Plan A with fleeting thoughts that entertained Plan B. So, just something to think about…

I also wish I’d thought about how feeding baby #2 could potentially be different than feeding baby #1. I nursed baby #1, and I loved pretty much every minute of it. It was such an incredible experience that I looked into becoming a lactation consultant while I was pregnant with baby #2. I never dreamed that nursing baby #2 would be anything but just-as-amazing, so I didn’t have milk pumped or back up formula in the pantry that first week home from the hospital when I really wanted to go to the emergency room for the kidney stone I was passing (again, without pain medicine!). I wasn’t about to take my newborn to the emergency room, but I had nothing for anyone to feed him with if I left him at home. I also didn’t have anything stock piled to feed him when my milk “dried up” after I went on Zoloft* for postpartum depression. A can of formula in the pantry would have done a lot of good, had I had one…

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Are you taking a lot of pictures right now? I’m so grateful I took a lot of pictures of my firstborn while I was pregnant with baby #2. That season is so fuzzy when I try to remember it. I love looking back at the videos and pictures. They remind me of all the sweetness there was in that season.

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Try to focus on the cute bonding going on here between the siblings and not my cankles.

It reminds me that there is so much sweetness yet to come. Yeah, there are uncomfortable days- days where you just want to fast-forward and get through this season and at the same time you don’t want to miss one minute of the sweetness you have right now with this first little one looking back at you. 

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First time making ginger bread houses. We called them ginger bread forts.

So, dear pregnant mama of a toddler, basically, be encouraged. This season is everything you feel right now, and you are not alone in it, or the season you’re about to step into. 

From this mama who made it,

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay

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*I started Zoloft at about 3 months postpartum. It did not dry up my milk, but I lost the sensation of let-down, so I thought my milk had dried up. Since I wasn’t pumping, when I tried to pump, I didn’t experience the sensation of let-down, nor was I able to express any milk. Regardless, we knew my baby was still getting milk because there was absolutely no change in his wet diaper count. ❤

A Toddler Mom’s Review of the Memphis Zoo

My husband and I love to travel, but traveling has taken on a whole knew meaning (and energy level requirement) since we became parents. Thankfully, we’re getting a lot better at it, the proof being we up and took a day trip recently to the Memphis Zoo.

If you’ve been following me on Insta for awhile, you know we go to our local zoo a lot. But on this particular day, what we needed was to get out of town. Ok, to be honest, what I needed was to get out of the house and out of town for as long as feasibly possible. So, we drove to Memphis and set our GPS for the Memphis Zoo.

This is the 3rd zoo we’ve taken our kids to. They’ve been to the Little Rock Zoo and the San Antonio Zoo… and technically “A” has also been to the Georgia Aquarium. So, we couldn’t help but take a bunch of mental notes while we were in Memphis about how the Memphis Zoo fares for families with toddlers.

Here are our take-aways…

1. Get there as early as possible. Like most zoos, the animals tend to be most active first thing in the morning. So, if you want to see animals actually moving around, or just see them at all, you’re going to want to get there as soon as you can. This also helps you beat the crowds that will build up in front of the most interesting exhibits near the front of the zoo. This is important with the littles, because they’re going to have a harder time finding some of the animals in their exhibits, especially if they’re sleeping behind something. Being there when the animals are active and when there are less people will definitely make it more enjoyable for your tot, and therefore you.

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We pretty much skipped all of the exhibits towards the front of the park since we got there an hour after it opened. 

2. Bring your stroller. The Memphis Zoo is a pretty decent size and contains hills. If you have even just one toddler, we’d recommend bringing your good stroller (and I’m not talking about your standard umbrella stroller). I’m talking about your super sturdy stroller that has storage and cup holders and a spot for your mom hook. If you have more than one toddler (or a toddler and an infant), bring your double stroller for sure. We love our double stroller and consider it one of the very best investments we made in baby gear before our 2nd child was born. I do wish, however, that I’d also brought my baby carrier. We ended up carrying each kid quite a bit because of takeaway #3…

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Holding “J” so he could see the elephants.

3. Many of the exhibits are not stroller-rider friendly. And by that I mean the child who is sitting in a stroller can’t see into the exhibit. Not all of the exhibits were this way, but many were. Which meant, we were picking the kids up a lot. So, if you’re prepared for this, mentally and you have the right gear, it’s more than doable.

4. Lots of amenities. We loved that there were so many snack spots, bathrooms, and misters throughout the park. There were also a variety of rides and a fountain / splash pad (which had we packed swimsuits I would have absolutely let my kids play in because it was HOT that day). We also liked that there were several animal encounters you could participate in for an extra fee.

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Splash pad! It’s in front of the lodge if you’re looking at the Memphis Zoo map.

5. Watch for the tram and golf carts. We were surprised at how much vehicular traffic there was on the paths throughout the zoo. At one point we were even three wide – us, a golf cart, and the tram, all side by side. We didn’t feel like we could just let our kids walk freely in many areas of the park because the trams and golf carts would come up on us pretty suddenly. We’re sure the drivers are very vigilant, but we would have preferred for the tram to have it’s own rail and the pedestrians to have their own path.

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We may have stopped at every mister.

6. We’d go again. For a day trip with toddlers, it was perfect. In fact, we didn’t even get through the whole zoo before the kids were done and ready to enjoy some Memphis BBQ. And in my book, that’s the perfect scenario for our family. I’d rather tap out early without seeing everything than get through the whole thing in 30 minutes and be wishing we’d spent our money on something else.

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Seal watching! I think this was one of my favorite exhibits.

Traveling with toddlers is a lot of work. But thankfully there are places out there that make it a little easier for your family to travel to, and we agree, the Memphis Zoo was one of them.

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay

P.S. This post does contain affiliate links, but all opinions are always my own. Thank you for clicking through!