Fall Imaginative Play on the Farm

“This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Coolabi. All opinions are my own”

Fall is my favorite season. From the gorgeous foliage to freshly picked apples, the season just makes me giddy to be outdoors with my family. Last weekend the boys and I eagerly set out on an adventure to a local farm. Although the temperatures were in the 80s, we were determined to take advantage of the opening weekend at Forest Hall Farm in Mechanicsville, MD. My boys are happiest when they are free to be boys, running, jumping and creating imaginative stories in far away lands.

The farm was a perfect place for them to do just that. During the short trip there, Noah happily chatted with Xander about finding a map to get through the corn maze. Xander reminded him of the hay maze they ran through last year. Ryker listened to the two intently, since he was just a baby last fall. I could feel their anticipation and excitement radiating out of the car, when we pulled up to the farm. I was even giddy with excitement to be greeted by a gorgeous old red barn and a long row of old fashion rocking chairs. DSC_9385
Before I knew it, they were off and running. Noah, the train conductor, set out to climb aboard his steam engine. DSC_9375Ryker put on his imaginary hard hat and got to work plowing the corn with construction trucks.DSC_9381DSC_9384Xander headed straight to tending to the animals in the barn.DSC_9355DSC_9353DSC_9357I sat back and just listened and watched them go on their various adventures on the farm. At one point, I found myself grinning from ear to ear. At that moment, they weren’t fighting, or whining, or making typical kid demands. They were engrossed in their own bliss and it was so refreshing. DSC_9370DSC_9372

As the afternoon lingered, I gathered them toward the corn maze. Noah, map in hand, was ready to tackle the maze. DSC_9359 My three little explorers navigated the field through it’s twists and turns, with no fear just pure excitement to reach the end. DSC_9367At the end of the maze they were sweaty, tired and ready to get in the car and gobble down their apples. It was a great, adventurous day of play.DSC_9348DSC_9352

Help your child grow his or her imagination with an outdoor fall adventure. After your fall outdoor adventures, snuggle up with your kid on the couch and relax with an episode of Poppy Cat. Poppy Cat, a preschool series on Sprout, is a preschool show based on the international award-winning books by Lara Jones. The show features several adorable animals that go on imaginary adventures to pretend destinations.Group_logo

To learn more about Poppy Cat like the adorable animals on Facebook. Or hop on their Pinterest page to find art activities that help your child use their experiences with Poppy Cat to understand their own world.

The Stavish boys can not wait to embrace the Poppy Cat motto “Making Everyday Adventures Extraordinary” this fall. What fall activities do you participate in as a family to encourage your children to use their imagination?

On Blogging Or Not

I wrote this post over a week ago- the ironic thing is it about not having the time to blog as much as I want to these days. I need a couple more hours in a day!

When I sat down to catch up on 3 weeks of catch the moment (ugh!!), I realized I haven’t blogged in 11 days. That made me feel sad. Over the past few months, I have been tossing around the idea of stepping back from blogging altogether. I have been struggling with being consistent with posting around here. With my new job, I lost 10 hours of free time at home, between the earlier start time, the later end time and the commute (which really is not much of a commute- but anything is a commute compared to 5 minutes!). My evenings after the boys go to bed are filled with work for my photography business. I love it but it takes away from my time blogging. I cannot seem to get in to any sort of schedule with either. It’s driving me quite nuts, because I want to do it all.

When I think about stepping back from blogging it’s a bit overwhelming. I have been blogging for 7 years now. That’s a lot of history. A lot of stories. A lot of triumphs, celebrations, and sorrow. I’ve shared stories of my estranged mother, my PCOS, my miscarriage and more. I love documenting the growth and development of the boys too. I have shared their birth stories, first days of school, and potty training victories. This blog has become my scrapbook into their childhood.DSC_8928

When I decided to grow my blog into something bigger almost 4 years ago, it was scary. I was afraid I would lose my voice and my blog would no longer be just about our life. Yet, I was able to weave our stories into sponsored posts, and some of these posts have become my favorites. I love connecting with brands and sharing helpful products with my readers. I do not want to stop this.

A few years ago when I was struggling with finding passion in my career after returning to work when Noah was a baby, I started writing speech and language educational posts. I had wonderful comments and was able to help many moms with theses posts. I still get comments on a few of the more popular ones, and love hearing from parents about speech and language topics. I would hate to not be able to share this information.

I have met some amazing friends through blogging. Some have become life long friends, while others I stay in touch with from time to time. I can not imagine life without my online friends. They stand by me when things get hard and cheer me on during the great moments. Some I text frequently throughout the day, while others I may stop in and visit their blog to see what they are up to.

My blog is my therapy and without it I am not quite sure where I would channel that need to write. So I will continue to write, share and document our life with photos, until I feel that I no longer need this place. While I navigate fitting it back into my crazy schedule, please bear with me. There may be longer periods of silence, but know I have a back log of posts in my mind I desperately want to write. DSC_8919

As we say goodbye to summer and welcome fall, I hope you and your family enjoy the change of season as much as we do!DSC_8625DSC_8961

Crush Monday with Chocolate Nestlé® Crunch® Cupcakes

Many thanks to Nestlé for sponsoring today’s story and encouraging me to break the monotony with Nestlé® Crunch® bars!

enjoy a cold glass of milk-3Ever since transitioning to a new job, I dread Mondays more than ever. Monday starts the groundhog like, zombie mom insanity of the daily . While I work, I count down the hours until I am home with my boys. Our Sunday nights are filled with dinner, making lunches, and getting ready for the long week ahead. Every so often it’s nice to shake things up with my favorite stress buster- baking!  Last Sunday, the boys and I did just that and baked amazing Chocolate Nestlé® Crunch® cupcakes.

The crunch in Nestlé® Crunch® bars are simply delicious with the right amount of crunch in every bite.  For over 75 years Nestlé® Crunch® has been the unconventional, fun-to-eat alternative to plain chocolate.  Best of all,  Crunch® products are made from sustainable cocoa beans from the U.S. and contain no artificial colors or flavors.  

When I bake on a Sunday evening it motivates me to feel excited about the upcoming week ahead.  If you find yourself feeling the same dread on Sunday evenings, put on some music, turn on the oven and bake this delicious sweet treat with the best chocolate bars around.

Chocolate Nestlé® Crunch® cupcakes

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter (1 stick)
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/3 milk

Chocolate Nestlé® Crunch® Frosting
1 cup butter (1 stick), softened
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 square’s unsweetened baking chocolate, melted
1 1/2 Nestlé® Crunch® bars, melted

Nestle Crunch #lifehacktoboredom

Cupcake Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 36 muffin-pan cups with cupcake baking liners.
2. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
3. Add soft butter and sugar in to a mixing bowl and beat on high-speed until light and fluffy (5 minutes).
4. Reduce mixer speed to medium, adding eggs one at a time. Beat well with each new egg and then beat in vanilla.
5. Reduce mixer speed to low and alternate the flour mixture and the milk to the bowl. Beat the mixture until the batter is smooth.
6. Spoon batter into cupcake holders and bake for approximately 25 minutes.
7. Allow cupcakes to cool and frost.

Frosting DirectionsNestle Crunch frosting #lifehacktoboredom
1. Melt the unsweetened baking chocolate bars in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring until smooth.
2. Melt the Nestlé® Crunch® bars in the microwave in 20 second increments, stirring until well melted.
3. In a mixer on low speed beat butter, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla until the mixture is well combined.
4. Add the melted unsweetened chocolate and the melted Nestlé® Crunch® bar chocolate.
5. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat the frosting until light and fluffy (approximately 1-2 minutes).

Next frost the cupcakes and decorate as desired.Nestle Crunch decorate #lifehacktoboredom
Finally, pour a couple of glasses of cold milk, and enjoy a sweet treat once the kids are in bed.Nestle Crunch cupcake #lifehacktoboredomNestle Crunch eat the cupcake #lifehacktoboredom
If there are leftover cupcakes, bring them to the office to crush Monday with a little sweetness and a fantastic $20.00 Paypal giveaway!  Be sure to likeNestlé® Crunch® on Facebook. Enter the giveaway from Nestlé® by sharing your own #LifeHacktoBoredom photos on Facebook or Twitter.

Catch the Moment Week 33-36

In the three years I have been doing this Catch the Moment 365 project, I have never fallen so far behind in posting my images. Time is just not my friend these days. There never seems to be enough of it! So here I am about to do a massive 365 photo update. Here is our life in the past three weeks….
Critter takeover!Catch the Moment 234-365Evening skyCatch the Moment 235-365Toes in the sand at Rohobeth BeachCatch the Moment 236-365Baby bump loveCatch the Moment 237-365The Halloween PJs have made their apperance…fall is near!Catch the Moment 238-365My heart.Catch the Moment 239-365Playground timeCatch the Moment 240-365Meet the teacher day at Xander’s new schoolCatch the Moment 241-365Moody redheadCatch the Moment 242-365First Nationals game of the seasonCatch the Moment 243-365Addicted to gooCatch the Moment 244-365His first day of first grade- when did he get so big?Catch the Moment 245-365Crazy kittyCatch the Moment 246-365Bubble blowingCatch the Moment 247-365School bus drop offCatch the Moment 248-365Friday night is pizza night!Catch the Moment 249-365Snuggled Noah loveCatch the Moment 250-365Creepy natureCatch the Moment 251-365Last pool day of the summer- Happy Labor day!Catch the Moment 252-365Goodnight, RykerCatch the Moment 253-365Goodnight, XanderCatch the Moment 254-365

Phew, I’m exhausted!

On to First Grade

DSC_8184How in the world did summer fly by soo quickly? It’s the eve before my baby boy starts first grade-in a new school- where I do not work. The anxiety of it all hit me like a ton of bricks tonight when I was packing his lunch. I realized that we just had juice pouches in the cabinet- the kind that even I struggle to open. Last year in Kindergarten, is classmate and friend helped him open his juice pouches. He was the kind of kid you would want in your corner in a fight, yet he is the sweetest kid.DSC_7255

I know Xander will make friends in his new class (and school), yet I can’t help but worry about him. This will be his first time riding the school bus, so I’m nervous about that too. The boy who still sits in a five-point-harness carseat, will be in a school bus with no seatbelts. Ack! I’m trying hard to stay positive, because he is excited for school. I know he is beyond ready to be back in the classroom, instead of at daycare all day. He craves a routine and new learning. DSC_7790

No one ever tells you just how hard these “my kid is growing up” transitions are, when you become pregnant. As my oldest gets older, my heart wishes I could travel back in time and snuggle him as a newborn or listen to the pitter patter of his feet as a toddler. When he climbs onto the school bus tommorrow, I will be wiping away the tears that fall down my face. I am proud of the big kid he is becoming and am excited to watch his academic growth in the coming school year.DSC_8194

So many emotions in just one day. So much love for this boy of mine.DSC_7188DSC_7897