Wildflower Garden at Norfolk Botanical Garden


A few weeks ago, Anne and I visited Norfolk Botanical Garden with some friends and stumbled across this gorgeous wildflower meadow. It's on the way to the Butterfly House, which is one of our favorites, so we must have passed it a million times but never in full bloom. What a surprise! We immediately stopped and explored -- the little gazebo and fountain bubbling away in a corner, the handmade homes for native bees tucked here and there, and thousands of gorgeous orange and purple flowers in between. We've already tested it, it's the perfect place for a picnic, and just to soak up some beauty before the cold weather comes and turns everything gray and brown.

Have a great weekend! And if you're looking for something to do, stop by the base for the Norfolk Fleet Fest tomorrow! There will be ship tours and live entertainment and best of all, it's free! More details at Fun and Free Hampton Roads.

Best Board Games for Little Kids


It makes me feel a little guilty to admit it, but I'm not much of a play pretend type of mom -- I really can't make myself sit down and play Barbies or dolls for too long without wanting to bang my head against the wall. Enter: board games, the perfect way to occupy a toddler for an hour or two without it being too painful. With the winter months coming up, and the prospect of many hours indoors looming on the horizon, I've been stocking up on board games lately and we've amassed a pretty impressive collection.

Anouk just turned 3 and a half, and knows her letters, colors, and shapes, but even so, some of the more complicated board games are still a little advanced for her. Through a little investigation, though, we've come up with a good stock of games that are advanced enough to hold her attention without being too much.

Here's our list so far. What have we missed?

Penguin Pile Up: Balancing the penguins on a slippery iceberg is the aim of this game (first one to get all of them up there wins). For the littlest players, the iceberg can be set flat on the table so it's not so much of a challenge. A little difficult but satisfying when you get it and tons of fun.

Green Eggs and Ham Game: This one involves matching images with squares on the board to win. A must for Dr. Seuss fans.

Eeboo Tea Party Game: The first person to collect all of the pieces (plates, cup, food) wins. But beware of hungry bees! This game is an award-winner and probably Anouk's favorite right now. It also comes with its own tablecloth, which is pretty nifty.

Hi Ho Cherry-o: A counting game that's quick and easy. Keeping track of all the little cherry pieces, on the other hand...

I Spy Bingo: Find each of the items on the cards on a square on your board and you might get bingo! Teaches letters and letter sounds, with a more difficult option for older kids.

Go Fish card game: The old classic and you can find it everywhere, even the dollar store. There are some adorable vintage versions available on Etsy.

Memory: We have several versions of this matching game, but our favorite is probably one we made ourselves out of card stock and stickers. Pinterest has some great ideas if you're looking to DIY.

The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse: Created by Eric Carle, this coloring game combines creativity and fine motor skills. We previously reviewed it here.

ThinkFun Move and Groove: Not really a board game but we're including it anyway. Roll the soft plush cube and choose a card to act out the movement. We really appreciate that nobody "wins" with this game, it helps a lot with the meltdowns (we're still working on how to lose gracefully). ThinkFun sent us this one to review and it's still a favorite.

Just as a side note: A good number of these games A. and I picked up at the thrift store, on various shopping expeditions, for a dollar or less apiece. It never occurred to me before to look at the board games section but it's turned out to be a pretty stellar resource for games. Just be sure to check and make sure that all (or most?) of the pieces are there before you buy!

Frisco Native American Museum and Natural History Center (Frisco, NC)


In honor of Indigenous Peoples' Day today, here are some photos from our trip to the Frisco Native American Museum during our Outer Banks vacation back in September. As I mentioned when I originally wrote about it, we had the bad luck of some rain during our stay, which took away some of our beach time. But on the other hand (positivity!), it motivated us to explore some of the places around we otherwise wouldn't have.

The Frisco Native American Museum is one of those places. So jam-packed with artifacts and crafts, it can be a little overwhelming if you don't stop and take a moment to clear your head. Every inch of the space is covered with something beautiful and historic: quilts and carvings, native clothing and headdresses, drums and flutes and coins and !!! Things galore.

But it's definitely interesting. We must have gone around the place four times trying to take everything in, including the gift shop (which includes some wonderful examples of native art and jewelry!) and the kind of random but cool thrift store attached onto the back. Then, as the sun came out, we walked the boardwalk trail outside of the museum building, stopping to look at examples of shelters and dugout canoes. (It was sort of cool in itself to be outside in OBX at a place that wasn't the beach, if you know what I mean?)

One final random/cool aside about the trip:
we got to bang on a traditional wishing drum before we left! It was hilarious to watch everybody screw up their faces and decide what to wish for. Anouk wished for a dog, but it's OK that I tell you, because that one's definitely not coming true anyway.

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