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

Travel Diaries: San Antonio Re-cap

Pardon the water spots on the mirror.

Hey friends! So, summer showed up! (insert laughing emoji) This dress was my momiform last summer, and I wasn’t disappointed at all when I found it while pulling out all of our summer clothes last week before we took a long weekend trip to San Antonio.

We had the sweetest time there visiting with our family and celebrating my great-grandmother who turned 100 this past Sunday.

We decided to try a couple new things this trip; one being we stayed at a VRBO instead of hotel. My parents generously rented a house for them, our little crew, and my two siblings to stay in (so 6 adults total + 2 toddlers) just around the corner from my grandparents’ (where all of the festivities would be). David and I are completely sold on using VRBO or Air BNB for long weekends going forward- no more hotels. Having a fenced in back yard to stick the kids in was such a blessing (for all affected parties) after our 9 hour car ride. Plus we didn’t have to worry about kids waking up at all hours of the night or coming back to the hotel for naps right when house keeping was in the middle of changing bed sheets.

We also explored the San Antonio Aquarium, which was something none of us had ever done before. It was a great little spot for toddlers since they have so many hands-on exhibits. I would highly recommend it IF you have an hour that you need to fill, and you don’t really want to be outside. I was able to get a Groupon for our tickets, which significantly reduced the price, so check them out before you buy tickets, and don’t plan on spending a whole day there (it only takes 1-2 hours to experience everything) or go on a Friday like we did (aka field trip day aka lots of little crowds).

The kids have talked about the exhibits with the birds and alpacas since we got home as well as a fiesty little tortoise who almost crawled out of his exhibit.

But what’s been really special is all the talking they’ve done about their cousins and family members who they got to spend time with while we were at my great-grandma’s birthday party. My brother (pictured above) mentioned how special, and rare, it was to have a day where everyone (except for two family members who were down with a stomach bug) could come together and genuinely enjoy each others company for an entire day. Not to mention how rare it is to celebrate someone becoming 100 years old!

On our drive home, I kept thinking about his comment. The truth is family gatherings with toddlers are a little overwhelming for us right now. We enjoy seeing family and being with them, but we’re never able to 100% focus on a conversation or even stay the whole time. We usually have to skip out for a bit for naps and most places aren’t 100% toddler proof. (Am I the only one who is terrified someone is going to give my two year old a grape while I’m not looking?) And you’re going to have toddler meltdowns at some point on a trip, so odds are one could very well go down right smack dab in the middle of the family gathering.

So, I wanted to encourage the other mamas (and dads) who know the feeling. I know you’re out there, because many of my friends fall into our boat too. “Is it really even worth it?” is a question I hear posed a lot when it comes to bringing toddlers to social gatherings.

We’re super privileged to have family who GETS IT. Aunts and uncles and cousins who help, grandparents who say when we have to leave early, “It’s ok! Go. Take care of your family.” But that still doesn’t remove all the overwhelmingness that manages to creep in before and during the gathering.

My dad encouraged me a couple months ago to tackle social gatherings (and trips in general) with a man-to-man offensive strategy. I take one kid; David takes another. Sometimes, we have to switch, and sometimes we have to tag another family member to cover for us for a minute. But, we’re still on the same team with the same goal. We usually remind each other what the goal is too before we walk into the gathering. (e.g. We’re here to celebrate Mammaw.) It helps me stay focused and not get so overwhelmed, AND it helps limit directing our frustrations towards each other.

We’re not perfect parents. We don’t have this parenting thing down pat, but this strategy (along with respectful communication) did help a lot at my great-grandma’s birthday party, and we plan to use it from now on while we’re in this stage of life with littles who need so much of our attention.

Some social situations aren’t going to be conducive with toddlers. They’re just not, and it’s 100% ok to skip out. But other things, like great-grandma’s 100th birthday party, are non-negotiable. We’re going to be there no matter what, and I’m grateful for a new tool in the toolbox to limit my anxiety while we’re there. That way, when it’s over, my kids aren’t the only one with fond memories of the occasion.

Do you have a strategy you implement in large social gatherings with your little kids? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay


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!