A Gaggle Of Girls In The Orchard

Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Clearly, we are quite the fans of orchards. Make that pumpkin patches and Christmas tree farms too. Anything this time of year, from September straight through December, absolutely brings me alive. And that joy has been contagious for my Greer girl. Her love for all things fall and holiday-related has bloomed so much, and she's soaking in all of these cozy + happy feels. Greer is definitely living her best life. This mama couldn't be more proud. So when one of my friends suggested a girls' trip to a local orchard, I couldn't resist. Not even a morning full of spit-up (one right after the other) could deter me from joining friends and their littles for a crisp and foggy morning of apple picking. 

If there's one thing I've been learning as a mama, it's the need for other mamas in your life. Basically, your tribe. They're the girlfriends you reach out to, take dinners after a baby is born, squeeze in girls' nights when you can, lift you up when you're doubting/down/or need it, and are the encouragement that even though this mama business can be hard, you're doing alright. 

See that sweet baby soundly sleeping amongst those beautiful red apples? It's lovely, isn't it? This was after more spit-up (all over her and me), loud cries, and a whole lot of wonky swaying on my part. All while my toddler was having her own dramatic moments (like a bucket of spilled apples and the crocodile tears over I'm-not-even-sure-what). This played out in front of two friends, two more babies, and another toddler. And in the midst of it, they rallied behind me, helping to clean up those apples and offering to take my baby to give me a break. That's what your tribe is for, helping you feel sane in the middle of insanity and not judging you for the way you handle it. Thank goodness for girlfriends, especially those with the idea to go apple picking!

Can you even?! I can't. They are too precious for words. Somehow these two were just babies, and now they're big enough to pick apples all by themselves. People, where. does. the. time. go?

If you haven't gotten to an apple orchard yet, be sure to scurry there before picking season is over. It's a tradition worth starting, I promise! 

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Mountaintop Apple Picking

Wednesday, September 19, 2018
I love apple picking on an overcast morning where the fog is rolling off the mountaintop, the hint of rain is in the air. It feels like fall, and it's cozy. It just brings my heart so much joy. More joy is that this tradition husband and I decided to start during our first year of marriage, has really turned into a true family tradition for the Hills. Every September since 2014, we've found ourselves in the orchard picking our bounty of apples to bring home and eat or turn into desserts. We've added one child to share the tradition with and then a second child. Greer's now been apple-picking three times, and Quinn just went for her first time. I can't believe this tradition we created as newlyweds has held on strong, and I hope it gets passed down as the years go on. 

This year, we were greeted by that thick fog I love so much as we pulled into the orchard. There was the unexpected surprise of mud, lots and lots of mud. And because the rows of apple trees are on a slope, it was so slippery and a bit difficult to pick apples with a toddler, who decided midway through, she was scared of the mud and a baby on my chest who wasn't happy to be worn. That's one thing we're learning as parents, our expectations have to be flexible and we make the best of what happens. Because even though we ended up with some mud on us and just a little bit of time actually picking apples, we still had the best time. We took our apple loot, picked apples out of the orchard's bins, grabbed some pumpkins, drank apple cider slushes (my favorite), and had lunch under the lights while the mist spit all around us. It was magical even when it wasn't like we had imagined it. And I'm already looking forward to next year's visit. 

Making Suds & Memories

Monday, September 17, 2018
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. 
All opinions are mine alone. #JohnsonsLovesBaby #ChooseGentle #CollectiveBias

Please hover over the image to see more image about purchasing the products. 

When I first knew I was going to be a mother, one of the many things I dreamed about were sink baths in a kitchen full of morning light. Now that dream has become a reality, and it's sweeter than I even imagined. I love the sunshine creeping in as little toes pop through sudsy water, giggles float around like escaped bubbles, and the smell of a fresh babe fills the room. It's motherhood moments like these that I'll hold onto forever and tuck away to reminisce on once my babies are too big to fit in the sink. 

Until then, I'll be bathing my little loves under the kitchen window in the sink. And I'll be choosing the new and improved, inside and out, JOHNSON'S® for gentle use on my babes' tender skin. JOHNSON'S® COTTONTOUCH™ Newborn Baby Wash & Shampoo is fast-absorbing, leaving no unwanted residue behind to help babies' skin less slippery. And you mamas know how slippery a wet baby can be! I am pairing the wash and shampoo with JOHNSON'S® COTTONTOUCH™ Newborn Baby Face and Body Lotion. The lotion was specifically designed for newborn's delicate skin, and the real cotton enables an ultra-light touch to encourage more touch and interaction with baby. The 2-step wash and lotion routine is proven to build a stronger connection between you and baby. We love the duo of wash + lotion so much that we use it on our newborn and our toddler. 

We have also been loving the new redesigned bottles. The enhanced functionality of adding the pump to the top of the bottles to help a mama out when she has full hands makes bath time so much smoother. So not only is it simpler to use for mama, but it's also simpler, gentler products that 9 out of 10 parents would recommend. We love that JOHNSON'S® is 100% gentle, and free of parabens, and phthalates. 

So how do we make these sink baths so memorable? And how can you?
  1. We make sure to have special bath time toys. The favorites are beach toys (ie: a bucket, shovel, sand molds) and bath paint.
  2. After the washing is done, we set aside play time in the water.
  3. Let music play in the background. It's usually oldies in our house.
  4. Get creative with the washing and shampooing. For instance, when we're rinsing her hair out, we always pretend she's at the salon. Or while she's getting cleaned, we find the tickle spots to give a little extra scrub for those sweet little giggles. 
  5. Play along with them. Let their little imaginations run wild and join in.

We grabbed our bath time routine essentials at CVS for exceptional savings. Buy 1, Get 1 50% on JOHNSON'S® Baby. And spend $30, Get $10 ExtraBucks. CVS was a great one-stop-shop for us to grab all of our favorite JOHNSON'S® bath time products easily and affordably! Our CVS is centrally located making it so simple for use to swing by while we're out and get anything on our 'pick-up list.' We love having it as an option for getting the essentials.

There's nothing like creating memories while having fun, and I hope my girls will fondly remember their sink baths long after they stop taking them.

Autumn Bucket List Printable

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The fall season is in full swing in our house, and we are giving our best efforts to get the most out of it. Every year seems to go quicker and quicker, so this time around we've made a list of what we want to enjoy this autumn. And since it's sometimes hard to remember all the things you want to do, I've put together our bucket list for you to use too! You can download and print it for yourself by using this link

We are hoping to go apple picking this weekend, but with the impending hurricane we may have to reschedule. We're going to make a last minute decision late tomorrow. Instead, we may be home enjoying fall/halloween movies and munching on pumpkin spice popcorn (all on our bucket list!). We shall see! 

I'm hoping to share our fall home tour in the next two weeks, but until then I hope you can find some inspiration from last year's fall decor

And if you need a fall recipe, check out this one for pumpkin loaf and this one for sea salt + toffee chocolate chip cookies! Of course, if you're looking for the right drink to pair with those, grab this list!

Download + Print the bucket list HERE

A September Evening On The Lake

Wednesday, September 12, 2018
We kicked off our fall bucket list this last weekend with a boating excursion on the lake. Our sweet girl has been talking about boating since we took her last summer. And we knew we wanted another boating adventure before the season ended. So I booked a pontoon months ago, hoping the weather would cooperate for a fall evening on the water.

Low and behold, it's been so rainy in the mountains of Virginia, and all last week the forecast called for rain. But, we crossed our fingers (wanted to avoid losing money based on their cancellation policy) and went on ahead. The blue skies lasted for about 20 minutes until the rain started falling. Fortunately, it really didn't last too long, and the rest of our evening was really great. But, I have to be honest, as pretty as these photos are (thanks to my sister for capturing most of them), I didn't have the best time for the first bit of our adventure. I fight against anxiety, and during that first hour on the boat, with a baby in a life jacket that she didn't like, rain falling, and feeling like I couldn't move (to avoid waking the baby that had finally fallen asleep and settled in her jacket) I was an anxious mess. In fact, I was more than ready to forgo the rest of the trip and head home, getting far away from that lake and the worries. Needless to say, I just wasn't having fun and felt like I was bringing down the rest of the boat too. 

Luckily for me, things turned around once the rain stopped and husband anchored the boat to eat dinner, which gave me the chance to take Quinn out of her life jacket to nurse her. A little food, a free + happy baby, and just a moment of calm was what I needed to let the anxious feelings go and enjoy the rest of our time boating. I handed the babe off to my mom for the last bit, and was able to relax and take in the fun too. I'm thankful we stuck it out through the rain and I stuck it out through the anxiety. What could have been a bummer of a trip, turned out to be sweet quality time together.