I’m not entirely sure how it’s already back to school season, but here we are! I wanted to share some of the items I discovered and loved last year for my preschooler & a lot of these I repurchased now that Johnathan is also headed to preschool this year!
Simply Modern Water bottles – These water bottles are leak proof & are a staple in our house, plus they’re a little cheaper than the hydroflask guys!
Toddler Size Backpack – an appropriate toddler sized backpack can be hard to find. Last year I definitely sent will to school with a backpack that was wayyy to big. So this year both the boys are going with these!
Non-Toxic Hand Sanitizer – this is the only hand sanitizer Will will tolerate on his hands. It doesn’t dry your hands out and it smells like christmas, without all the harsh chemicals!!
Bento Box Lunchboxes – love these reusable bento lunch boxes. These drastically cut down on single use plastics! Plus this year I’ll be packing lunches in bulk!
Waterproof Name Labels – Probably my favorite item! These name labels either for clothing or supplies are dishwasher and washing machine safe. After a full year of preschool of the stickers I used are still intact, after many loads through the wash! This year I got some with the boys last name large and their names smaller because I know they’ll be interchanging waterbottles / lunchboxes. Plus they are totally customizable and come in so many designs / colors!!
If you have a favorite back to school item I’d love to hear what it is!
This summer we chose Arches for our National Park in Utah to explore with the boys! Today I’m sharing our overall experience, the hikes we managed, gluten free food we found & the accommodations so you can make the most of your trip! We have made it a goal to take them to one park a year if possible. You can see our winter trip to Yosemite last year here .
I found Arches to be very family friendly and very manageable when it came to a National Park. It’s a fairly small park only about 1/10 the size of Yosemite so driving through the park, hiking and exploring felt less daunting! There was no shortage of short easy hikes some that were even stroller friendly. We saw tons of families enjoying the park & would say it’s toddler approved!
The Windows: This was the longest hike we did with the boys! But it was definitely one of the most beautiful! This hike definitely has some incline & lots of steps, but is 1 mile round trip with phenomenal views at the top!
Balanced Rock: Stroller Friendly 0.3 mile loop hike with tons of photo ops! This is a great one to save as a second activity of the day! You can see balanced rock from the road but the loop trail has next to no elevation gain and is mostly paved making it super accessible for kids!
Double Arch: Take this 0.6 mile hike to see the tallest arch in the park! This relatively flat packed gravel hike leads to 2 gorgeous arches. You could easily take a stroller right up to the base of the arch!
Delicate Arch Viewpoint: Lower viewpoint is stroller friendly – we didn’t use the stroller but wish we had! By the time we did this one the boys were pooped, it was peak heat in the day so needless to say we didn’t stay long. This viewpoint is wheelchair accessible and only about 200ft, but for a tired, overheated toddler you might opt for the stroller!
Sand Dune Arch: This was on our list but we didn’t get to hike this. This 0.4 mile hike is listed as a popular hike for kiddos! But as the name eludes to there’s lots of sand so plan accordingly!
*If you’re planning a trip in the summer I can’t recommend these cooling towels enough! They’re ultra light weight and you simply pour water on them when you’re ready to cool off! We used these everyday we were out in the park & they’ll definitely be a summer staple!
Accommodations: We stayed at Springhill Suites in Moab & LOVED it! If you’re visiting in the Summer this resort is amazing. They have two pools, a splashpad & 4 hot tubs including one that is considered a “warming tub” that is significantly less hot & geared towards littles! One of the pools is super shallow which was perfect for toddlers who are still getting the hang of swimming! They also have family suites that include bunk beds and a great free breakfast that starts at 6am which I never truly valued until I started traveling with kids!
Things to consider:
Time of year – the weather can certainly be a factor so if your trip is lined up for mid summer be sure to plan accordingly. The actual park does not have any food inside and you’re encouraged to bring a LOT of water with you inside the park. We went ahead and booked tickets for early morning entry & spent the morning in the park and left by noon when the temperatures were reaching their highest for the day!
Plan your days – My advice is to plan to do about 2 hikes or sights in the park per day if you have young kiddos, especially in the summer when the heat is no joke. We found it was to start with the longer hike & save something that is stroller friendly or shorter for the second half!
Expect / plan breaks – Toddlers are more than capable of enjoying and participating in hikes and national parks but planning in breaks is KEY. I recommend bringing some small toy for the halfway point of the hike. When we hiked The Windows hike I knew we’d want to stop at the top, rest, hydrate and admire the sights. Toddlers are less into pausing and soaking in the vastness… So I brought the boys little toy dinosaurs to play with at the top. I kept them in my backpack so there wasn’t any temptation beforehand and then it was a little surprise. Then I told them we had to pack them away so they could get down the hike safely again! This seriously bought us 20-30 min at the top, which allowed for both Chris and I to go see the views at the very top, and allowed for everyone to feel rested for the walk back!
Keep it fun – hiking in the heat, even short distances can be a lot for little kids. So keeping it fun and lighthearted is the best way to keep your toddler moving forward. We play red light / green light. Chase / stomp on each others shadows, play ispy, and look for little creatures and of course racing each other! These little distractions helped a ton with our kids and kept the carrying them to a minimum!
Food – Downtown Moab has a ton of options all within a 5 block radius. There was no shortage of gluten free options available.
Pasta Jays – gluten free pastas, garlic bread, huge portions and large outdoor patio!
Miguels Baja Cafe – Nearly everything here is gluten free unless otherwise noted! Super cute colorful outdoor area to eat!
Moab coffee roasters – affogatos to die for here.
Food Truck Park – A ton of food truck and a nice shaded square to enjoy your food!
Moab Giants: If you extra time this Dinosaur park is the best add on for your toddlers. It’s a few minutes from the park entrance and you can explore these life size replicas of Dinosaurs. They also have an air conditioned museum. We did this one morning instead of the National Park & the boys loved it!
All in all we had a great time at Arches, I think the boys were at a great age to experience this park & I didn’t feel like we missed out on much! Obviously the older your kids are the more they can hike and explore but I think for toddlers this park is perfect. There’s short hikes, minimal cliffs and plenty of beauty and nature to be appreciated!
I’d love to hear about other National Parks you think are great for kids! Every time we finish one of these trips it gets me so excited to research and plan our next park so I’m open to any and all suggestions!!
We celebrated Will’s 3rd birthday with a Three Rex theme. This birthday felt so emotional, he just seems so big all of the sudden. He’s going to preschool in the fall, he’s taking swim lessons, he tells funny little stories & is constantly asking “wanna know…” Ex: wanna know what that sound was, wanna know what’s in mama’s mouth, wanna know what Johnathan’s doing and on and on. Will turned two a month into the pandemic. While the world shut down in 2020 Wills world expanded beyond measure. We moved, he became a big brother, he learned to ride his scooter, he got stitches (see previous), he cooked with me a TON and asked Santa for knives. It’s SO fun to watch him become his own person & every birthday is just a little reminder of how quickly time goes! It was so wonderful to have a small party to celebrate our guy and Johnathan got to meet some family he had never met yet so that was extra special.
Party decor was primarily from target. His cake I can proudly say I baked & decorated! It’s a Ghiradelli box cake mix & Betty Crocker chocolate frosting & funfetti vanilla frosting that i just added green food coloring to, for the dirt – crushed up Oreos. I took inspo from a picture on pinterest & I was so happy with how it turned out! My biggest tip is to freeze your cake for 20-30 min before trying to frost it. It seriously makes a HUGE difference!
Can’t believe it’s been a whole month with this guy and in true second child fashion this post is going up 2 weeks after these photos were taken. This first month has been wonderful, Johnathan got to meet both sets of grandparents & William has fully embraced big brother duties. Johnathan also moved out of our room & into his own, but he’s still snoozing in his bassinet. Per usual time is flyyyying by, but we’re over the moon with our littlest man.
It’s officially summer & San Francisco already had it’s first heat wave of the year. Temperatures got up into the 90’s which is about 30 degrees higher than our usual summer temps! Keeping a toddler entertained as well as trying to get them to sleep when it’s 90 degrees in your apartment is no joke. So in the spirit of summer I thought I’d share some ways to beat the heat with a toddler & share some photos from the heat wave & the weekend we spent enjoying the heat at my brother’s house.
Water tables – these are an awesome investment! We got this one for William’s birthday. And it was a serious lifesaver during the heat wave. I highly recommend water tables – they are fairly affordable & provide so much entertainment for toddlers. Even when it’s a little too chilly to be playing in the water William has a great time playing with the table without the water. He loves putting the balls down the track & finding things in the yard that can go in the water table. If you live somewhere remotely warm I’d totally invest in a water table.
Popsicles – pair a Popsicle with a water table and you’ve got yourself one happy toddler, enough said!
Baby wipes in the fridge – talk about a quick & inexpensive way to cool off. This is such an easy trick to make your baby or toddler or even yourself just slightly more comfortable in the heat.
Stroller fan – this is a good gadget to have if you live somewhere that experiences a fair amount of heat. This is perfect for car rides where kiddos don’t always get the best airflow in those hot car seats especially facing backward. You can also clip it onto a stroller.
My final tip for beating the heat is to seek out AC wherever possible. Libraries are a great free place to take a toddler to try to get some reprieve from the heat. Even just an hour wandering around the grocery store or target was a great way to get out of our stifling apartment. So if you have a membership to a museum, a local library you’ve been wanting to check out or if your kids are old enough a movie theater these are all great places to try and escape the summer heat, especially if you’re living somewhere without AC like we are!