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Disclosure: We were hosted by the team at Visit Fort Wayne, but all opinions expressed are my own!

You guys probably know by now how much I love Indiana! We lived there for five years, and I say all the time what an underestimated state it is. I love the four seasons, the outdoor activities, and the affordability. I also find that flying into Indianapolis or driving to whatever city in Indiana is very manageable and very affordable. So, naturally when the opportunity to visit a new city in Indiana presented itself I said “yes!”

Okay, and I had an extra incentive to visit! My bestie, Mrs. Bishop, was visiting as well. So, I couldn’t wait to catch up with her and explore the city with our three boys in tow. Did we have too much fun with the photo props? Yes. Yes, we did.

Our first stop was the Ft. Wayne Children’s Zoo– I didn’t really understand why it was called the children’s zoo until visiting. We have visited many zoos in many states and I can absolutely tell you this is one of the most interactive we’ve been to.

It was spacious and open, yet the animals seemed to feel so close.

Also, around each corner of the zoo it almost felt like there was an activity or hands on something for the kids to do.

They really held the kid’s attention by keeping them engaged with tangible things.

For a zoo to also provide space to be creative and imagination, it was a really wonderful combination. This was easily the longest we’ve stayed at a zoo!

You can even feed a giraffe there! This was an extra expense, so we didn’t, but look how close we still managed to get! The extra expense opportunity the boys chose was the pony/horse rides. I had no idea they were interested in riding horses, so we will definitely be keeping an eye out for some horseback riding lessons. They loved this!

It probably comes as no surprise to anyone whose been following us for a while that my boys were most excited for the sea animals area!

After visiting Sting Ray bay, we went right next door for lunch at Ray’s.


I have to shout this place out here, because usually ZOOD (zoo food, just made that up but feel good about it…) isn’t awesome. The food was amazing! I got a buffalo chicken wrap, and it was so delicious. Not to mention, the kids’ meals were an excellent value for all they got.

I snapped a photo of their menu for you guys so you could plan ahead:

Here’s a photo of penguins, because they’re cute.

After the zoo, we had some time to explore freely on our own. So, of course we went to the library! I didn’t get any photos, but the library itself is huge. Filled with activities for the kids to do and there’s even a dunkin’ donuts attached. It was sacrificial on my part, but we also went over to DeBrand Fine chocolates. This place was so good you guys. You’ve got to get a piece of their candy while you’re in the area! This was a very frugal way to treat yo’ self. We rested a bit in our hotel before heading out for dinner, where we had the opportunity to hear all about the new Promenade Park coming to the riverside there. I wasn’t allowed to do photos or video during the tour, but man.. this place is going to be a really special place to come to as a family every year. Head to their website and learn about the unique events they have scheduled for the opening of the park. Be on the look out for that!

That night, we had the opportunity to visit our first ever TinCaps baseball game! Tickets are frugal, but learn from our mistake and pack snacks or eat a lot before hand. Did I need a wine slushee? Okay no, but it was worth it.

I did find food costs added up quickly, but if you plan ahead it would an excellent affordable activity for the whole family! I couldn’t believe how into baseball Sawyer was. Liam was most impressed with the peanuts, ha!

One important thing ya’ll need to know- I had the most amazing hot dog of my life in Ft Wayne, Indiana. Ft Wayne’s World Famous Coney Island is a must visit. Very affordable, and very delicious. I should have guessed it would be when I pulled into the parking lot, and it was packed completely out. I want to also mention they have glass bottles of Coke, which my kids were impressed with! It cost us less than 10.00 for lunch!

We try to visit local favorites when we travel, and the Farmer’s Market never disappoints. I love to support small businesses and local farmers, so naturally we went to the Ft. Wayne Farmer’s Market for breakfast on Saturday! Here’s the thing though.. this farmer’s market was absolutely remarkable. It was huge! So many amazing vendors, farmers, food trucks, and slushies for 2.00!

Another fun thing about Ft. Wayne? It’s where the Vera Bradley headquarters is located. I loveeeee Vera Bradley, so I was so excited to see this adorable backpack in my hotel room.

After spending two hours at the Farmer’s Market, we tackled both the Science Central and Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory. Both of these places were wonderful, Science Central was filled to the brim with educational and fun things for all of us to do!

They even have a giant slide, visiting exhibits, and an area to build a car. Tickets were extremely affordable, and there’s an area to bring in a packed lunch to eat.


Personally, I’d recommend going to Fort Wayne’s Coney Island for lunch, but I’m very biased.

Another great thing to note about Science Central, they have a special area for kids 7 and under. This area has a place for nursing mothers, where you can see your kids while they play from the nook.

I love areas like this, because I had two kids under two and it was also so stressful to nurse one and entertain the other. So, if you’re visiting with toddlers and babies. Know that Science Central has your back!


The Conservatory was stunning, I loved the butterfly exhibit.

It was just hot so we didn’t stay long. My kids were most impressed with the Koi, ha! I’m going to be sharing a little more about Fort Wayne in a couple weeks when the park opens up, and I can share a little more about that. Stay tuned!

The post Fort Wayne, Indiana With Kids: Your Next Road Trip Destination!? appeared first on This Messy Season.

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Disclosure: Thanks to Sabre for sponsoring this post. All opinions expressed are my own!

I just went on a road trip with boys a few weeks back, and we had a ball! I was nervous about traveling alone, a near 15 hours in the car! I wanted to be prepared for anything, so I was thrilled to discover Sabre, and their line of personal safety products. I was recently given the opportunity to check out  SABRE’s new Safe Escape Auto Tool! It’s small and can snap right onto my key chain! I love the way they’ve combined three safety tools into one very practical tool, which was so handy for our summer road trip.

For fun, I’ve put together a few of my favorite tips for taking a road trip alone with your kids:

  1. Keep expectations low. This is my top hack for anything related to traveling with kids!
  2. Allow yourself plenty of time to arrive. I was grateful we had no time crunch, so if we needed to stop we just stopped.
  3. Put the snacks in the back with the kids.
  4. Have a trash bag easily accessible for them. — This came in handy as we had our first experience with car sickness. If I had been traveling with my partner, we could have tag teamed this. However, I wasn’t so I was grateful the bag was easy for my son to reach.
  5. Headphones in the backseat. This was my first time giving the boys headphones, and I was so glad I did. I was able to listen to my audiobook or podcast, while they watched shows and listened to their audio books.
  6. Don’t forget water. I get so parched when traveling, don’t forget to grab extra ice cold water any time you stop to refill water bottles.
  7. Rest if you need to. I had to pull over at a rest stop and take a little down time, when I got back on the road 30 minutes later — I was totally restored.
  8. Have fun! We made so many memories on this trip! Don’t forget to seek out playgrounds, unique landmarks, etc, and enjoy this time with your kids!

The post Tips For Traveling Alone With Littles appeared first on This Messy Season.

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Disclosure: We were invited to a media preview of the new Expedition: Dinosaur Exhibition that opens to the public on May 25th

We were so excited to be included in this media day, my boys are huge dinosaur fans. Specifically, my youngest son! He is still very much into dinosaurs! We’ve been fully intending to visit the MOSH- Jacksonville’s Museum of Science and History since we moved here, but the timing hasn’t worked out. As we approach our summer vacation, it has been a little easier to start working our way through our summer bucket list. (which has a few local field trips in the mix.) For now, I’ll just share the scoop on the new exhibit opening up at the MOSH on Saturday May 25th! They’ll be kicking things off with a public opening event from 10 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

From the moment you walk into the museum, you’re engulfed in interactive exhibits that bringing learning to life. This particular exhibit has incredible animatronic dinosaurs, some are moved with levers while others are motion sensitive. I think they’ve done a particularly great job of finding entertainment and education for every age.

If you’re looking for an affordable souvenir, kids can make a coloring sheet with their favorite dinosaur to take home with them! With that said, Liam did get a nice shirt from the gift shop after a nose bleed!

Beyond the incredible adventures inside of this new exhibit, the museum offers live animals and an incredible exhibit presenting local aquatic wildlife!

They’ve graciously given me a four person pass to giveaway! If you’d like to be entered simply comment below, and I’ll choose a random winner on Friday. Must be over a US Resident over 18 to enter! Stay up to date on everything happening at the MOSH by following them on social!

The post MOSH Jacksonville new Dinosaur Exhibition Opens May 25! [+ a giveaway!] appeared first on This Messy Season.

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You guys know my kids love to go fishing, so this morning I thought I’d share some tips on fishing as a family!

Look at your state’s fishing license policies and rules: So, most states will allow kids 12 and under to fish without a license, but parents will need one to help their kiddos out.

Seek out free fishing seminars in your community! I have to tell you guys, I’ve been so impressed with fishing events, usually free, or very reasonably priced. Look for things like boating shows or Kids Fish Free events to learn more about the sport and test out fishing before making any investment in gear or licenses.

Get outside! I love the outdoors component of fishing! The boys have a little guide book they read through and research what fish they’ve caught, so we are all learning.

Visit Take Me Fishing! I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned scrolling this website, they are an awesome resource. They even have an in depth list of state by state free fishing days!

*The shirt I’m wearing in this photo was a gift from Take Me Fishing & they’ve provided you guys an opportunity to win one for yourself! Just comment on this post and let me know if you’ll be trying your hand at fishing with the kids this summer! Don’t forget to give @take_me_fishing on social media, as they share the best stuff for little anglers!

The post Fishing With Kids [+a giveaway!] appeared first on This Messy Season.

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I like to share what I’ve read/what I’m reading for two reasons:

1) accountability
2) in hopes it helps you guys put together your reading lists!

Since I read so much, I have to get the bulk of my reading materials at the library. I suggest placing items on hold, so you can just pick things up. Instead of needing to look through items with the kids in tow. I’ve found it really simplifies the process, and simplifying always equals more savings!

Memory Making Mom by Jessica Smartt- I loved this book! Jessica Smartt shares some really practical ways to make more memories together as a family. What I loved the most about this book is the way Jessica encourages you, while making sure you’re not guilty just encouraged.

7 by Jen Hatmaker- This book changed my heart in more ways than I can describe. It really made me recognize how much I waste, and helped position for me a more content heart and a heart of service to others.

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy- This was a fun read. I loved it so much! I guess you’d call it a thriller? I don’t want to share too much and spoil anything, but put this on hold and read it by the pool this summer!

Mom Set Free by Jeannie Cunnion- This is not a super new book, so I’m sad that I didn’t read it sooner. Thankfully, a friend suggested it to me and I couldn’t devour it quickly enough! This would be a lovely book to get as a Mother’s Day gift!

Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors by Jami Amerine- Jami spoke to my heart in every single line. Iloved this book, and my only regret is that she didn’t write it when my boys were tiny, tiny.

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty- She’s one of my favorite authors, this was a fun book and would be wonderful to read beach side.

The Tech-Wise Family by Andy Crouch- Highly recommend this book if you guys are looking to manage your tech time.





Share you book suggestions below!



The post Let’s Get A Jump Start On That Summer Reading List! appeared first on This Messy Season.

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Maybe you’ve been saying that you need make dates a more regular thing or you have a regular date night already, but always end up doing the same thing over and over. (For us, it always ends up being go out to eat, which is so spendy!) There comes a time when we all need some inspiration for dating! So, Mrs. Bishop & I decided we should put together a list for ourselves and also for you guys. She’s got some amazing ideas in her post, and I’m sharing some below!

1) Outdoor adventures– We can rent kayaks locally for a 1.00 and that is so beautiful and romantic! It’s fun to get active together, and enjoy nature! Some other ideas: hiking, fishing, beach days, lake days, pack a picnic, visit a winery.

2) Learn a new skill together- This is my idea of a good time, I love to learn. There are some great free/affordable community classes like gardening or canning, depending on where you live. You could even take tennis lessons or photography classes. A cooking class is something I’ve had on my date bucket list for a long time!

3) Game night- Invite some friends over and get competitive together. I think double dates are one of the best things you can do as a couple! Throw in some competition and good snacks, you’ve got a perfect evening on the calendar!

4) Have a coffee date or lunch date- if you love to eat out together like us, consider doing coffee or lunch as a cheaper alternative!

5) Go thrifting together- Hit some local yard sales or thrift store shop together. Bonus points if you’re able to get some good furniture or something to redo together for subsequent time together.

7) Volunteer together- this may take a little work in advance to put together, but look for ways to give back together. There are soooooo many ways to plug into your community, figure out what you are both passionate about find out how to help out!

8- Take it old fashioned, and do a movie/dinner date!

I’d love to hear from your guys and if you’ve done any fun dates recently! Comment below and share!

The post Date Ideas! appeared first on This Messy Season.

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This week for my Tuesday top ten challenge, I thought it would be fun to share ten things I recently found at local thrift stores or yard sales. I also wanted to challenge ya’ll to get out and thrift yourselves. It’s cheaper, better for the planet, and always really fun! I love to grab a coffee, or a friend, and go browse for some good bargains! Here are ten things I found and loved this week.

1) This shirt- I snagged this for 4 bucks I believe at our local Goodwill. I made a commitment to not purchasing any clothes this year unless I was MADLY in love with something.

2) This rug- I grabbed this rug for 30.00 I believe? It was just the right size and I love the color it is adding to my grey living space!

3) 7 by Jen Hatmaker- So, I recently heard Jen on one of my favorite podcasts talking about 7, an experiment turned book she did some time ago. Not even a week later, I found it at a thrift store! I devoured this book. Jen has such an incredible way with words, and this book changed my life. She taught me through her experiences about waste, contentment, and so much more.

4) This Lily Pulitzer tumbler with straw- I got this for 2.00 at a yard sale, it’s so cute! This is one of my favorite brands, but rarely can I justify the expense.



5) This cute romper– I love to find thrifted rompers, because it’s like getting a full outfit for (in this case, 6.99)


6) This vintage picnic basket — I grabbed this at the thrift store a couple weeks ago, and it has been perfect for beach days. Plus, it’s adorable.



7) The Movie “Divine Secrets of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood”– I have never seen this movie, but always wanted to! I love to look for cheap movies at thrift stores and yard sales. This works perfectly for family movie nights or invite your friends over for a movie night.

8) Food storage containers- I am always in need of these for packing someone’s lunch. I love to look for kitchen things at low, low prices secondhand.

9) Gifts for Christmas- I don’t have a photo, but I found Liam a bicycle for $8.00! I put it away for Christmas (yes, in May!) Keep an eye out for gifts for baby showers, birthdays, etc. OH and white elephant gifts!

10) Board games- I love to get board games and puzzles at thrift stores, I do suggest checking the box and discerning if the pieces (or enough pieces) are there. BUT…a game night is a great frugal activity!



If you have a fun thrifted find tag me on social! I’d love to see it. Comment below and share your favorite things to look for when you’re shopping secondhand! Don’t forget to hop over to my friend Stephanie’s page and see what she’s sharing!

The post Tuesday Top 10: Thrift Edition[+ a challenge for you!] appeared first on This Messy Season.

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If you’ve got a little baker at your house ages 8-12 at your house, I wanted to share an exciting opportunity that was passed along to me! The wonderful ladies behind Womens Food Alliance and a host of area sponsors have put together an incredible event for kids here in the Jacksonville area. Seriously, the grand prize winning child of the ““Why I Like to Bake For My Family” cupcake competition will take up to three guests with him on a 2 night trip to St. Francis Inn and brunch at Casa Marina hotel! They’ll also have the luxury of treating up to 49 friends to an ice cream social at Kilwin’s. Looks like there is going to be a few categories and prizes for every finalist, to get the scoop for your budding baker– head over to this link!

The post Jacksonville, Florida Kiddos- There’s A Cupcake Competition Coming! appeared first on This Messy Season.

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I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve got two little Pokemon enthusiasts living under my roof. Naturally, they are over the moon about the new movie, Detective Pikachu, coming starring Ryan Reynolds (who will be bringing Pikachu to life!) The preview actually looks hilarious, because only 21 year old Tim can even understand Pikachu. The duo work together in an effort to solve the disappearance of Harry, Tim’s father. One thing I’ve found to be so interesting is how beautiful the Pokemon look when brought to life like this! I think it’s going to be this summer’s most fun, fluffy, and ADORABLE movie. Seriously, have you seen how precious Pikachu is yet?


I’m soooo excited to give away to one lucky reader a prize package of Detective Pikachu goodies: A backpack, two pop sockets, 2 erasers, a beach ball, and four tickets to see the film!)


Entering is so simple! Just comment on this blog post and share your favorite Pokemon! (Make sure you comment on the blog post, as I’ll enter those names into a randomizer and that’s how the winner will be selected!) Must be 18 years or older to enter & a US resident for shipping purposes


As always, I’m so grateful if you follow me over on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter! (thismessyseason on all!)


The post Detective Pikachu: What You Need To Know + Win Tickets and Swag! appeared first on This Messy Season.

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So, you’ve probably figured out by now that my family is going on a three month trip over the summer.  I’m beyond excited for this adventure and the opportunity for my husband’s career; but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t going to miss my squad like crazy.  Squad isn’t even appropriate, my village is more like it.  The people who inspire me and keep me sane during this crazy mothering ride.  I know I’ll see them before I know it, but I wanted to have a little dinner before we left so I could have all of my friends in one place for a little while.  We went out to dinner, where I proceeded to eat a one pound burger (that’s for another post.) and we danced to a super fun boy band cover group.  I made everyone a little present/favor/tiny cute something.  I love snail mail, hands down it is my favorite thing.  So, I selfishly made all my friends kits so they could easily mail me cards.  Each kit had 3 cards, I’m bad at math so only two ended up stamped, and a pen/cil.  My birthday is in June, so each kit had a card for my birthday.  I wrapped it inexpensively in a brown paper bag and taped it off with gold tape I got from Christmas paper clearance.  It actually looked pretty cute.

I got a jumbo pack (50) of cards from the stationery section of Target that was 9.99. *There was some percentage off on Cartwheel.* Then, I got five packs of eight cards from Target (1.00 each for a total of 5.00) I stamped the envelopes, but left them unaddressed because most of my friends have lives and may or may not be able to actually write.  I wanted them to have the option of mailing it to me or someone else as time permits.  I opted for three cards, because I’ll be gone for three months.  One for each month.  I took my pen bin from my desk and gave my friends my ghetto, potentially nonworking pens.  Pens are costly, I had to improvise.  If you’re fancier, grab some from the Target dollar spot.  In total, I spent about 2.00 per kit.  Totally worthwhile, because they were so cute and fun.  Check out my assembly line..

  

 

The post Pen Pal Kit favors. appeared first on This Messy Season.

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