cultivate a wonder-filled childhood

cultivate a wonder-filled childhood


Hello friends!  I am so thrilled to be visiting the amazing Fin and Vince and sharing my heart with you all today! You can find me over on my Instagram account, @the.hidden.way and my newly launched blog, where I share our days as a homeschooling family of six.  Through the lenses of universal motherhood and a slow-lived, homeschool lifestyle, you will find encouragement and practical inspiration as you take on the daily task of motherhood and live with purpose and perseverance!  In no particular order, here are my top ten ways to cultivate a wonder-filled childhood regularly used in our home.



Or a teepee or a pillow fort or a blanket fort or an under-the-kitchen-table fort.  

Or even a pile of sticks and leaves fort.  

The material and location don’t matter as much as the act of crafting something from odds and ends, innovating and designing, troubleshooting and creating a place to hide, to play, to imagine.  

Ten extra points if you get in there with them!  (Hey, we’re all looking for extra points, right?) 

Spend a quick five minutes crawling around your hands and knees you will single-handedly bump up their play experience to epic-level - one they will surely reminisce on and never forget.



Obviously not everyone can do this, but your odds of pulling this one off are really quite higher than you think! Check with your local ordinances - sometimes even smack dab in suburbia people are allowed to own at least a few chickens.

I will attest that there is nothing more satisfying for a child than walking outside and grabbing some fresh eggs for baking or for breakfast. And the ambience of those little ladies pecking away at bugs and lounging in the sun, clucking about their day and pruning their feathers just can’t be beat.

Every year at spring time we raise a couple from day-old chick status. It’s the perfect way to introduce animal handling and responsibility to their young lives - they’ll be so enchanted by the little fluff balls they won’t even realize they’re growing and learning!


This is a big one at our house. Story-time is a.k.a “mom-getting-to-live-out-her-acting-dream (anyone? Just me? )-whilst-covered-in-spilled-milk-and-pasta-sauce-simultaneously-seeing-how-many-children-can-fit-in-the-center-of-her-lap-at-one-time-without-her-legs-going-numb” time.

All I have to say is dreams really do come true and don’t you dare forget it.

And if YOUR dream is to feel alive and like all the world’s a stage then get that “crazy old lady” voice warmed up and work on that cat meow, because story-time is a big deal and by golly you’re gonna make it magical if it’s the last thing you do! Thanks to your commitment to the craft, you’ll have those little wildlings hanging on every word you say, eyes all a-sparkle.

And THAT, my friend, is a gift if I ever saw one.



Okay, this is a really fun one.

In fact, for bonus points, I’d even go so far to say that this is my FAVORITE STEM project for kids.

We try and save old electronics that have reached the end of their time on earth and reignite purpose into their hollow bones by having the ultimate take-it-apart party. And you should too!

It helps to have some of Daddy or Grampa’s tools but you can do a real number on these with even just some screwdrivers and a wirecutter. (Does that sound intense? I promise it’s not really )

Anywhere you can, set up a little spot to start disassembling - we have a workbench in Grampa’s workshop - will be sure to be the perfect spot to ignite wonder and learning.

Each little compartment opened and each little part collected and sorted will spur your child’s imagination on, opening up their minds to new concepts, ideas, curiosities. This style of loose parts learning has more benefits than you can imagine. Set them up and then step back and watch the magic unfold.



We’re always looking up.

In the morning to see the sun return, during those electric moments when heavy gray clouds roll in as a storm heads our way, when the sky lights up like a spilled rainbow paint can morphing with every minute that passes as the sun sinks below the horizon.

In fact, we’ve recently gotten into the habit of announcing to each other the arrival of those vibrant colors that stretch across the evening sky the instant one of us notices it .

We all Oo and ah, as much as if we’ve seen a rainbow - sometimes even moreso. The way the clouds shift and the pinks sometimes look like they’re on fire.

Then just as we begin to lament the loss of our beloved colors, we notice the breathtaking sparkle of the stars..the Milky Way..the glowing moon that follows us around like a puppy.

It’s always different and yet it’s always the same - like your favorite show on repeat - it just never seems to get old.


I mean, this is as wondrous for me as it is for the kids, let’s be honest.

The act of digging in the dirt, connecting to the earth and guiding life as it erupts and thrives from a tiny little seed is fascinating in itself. What’s even better is the satisfaction of being able to walk out near-daily in the summer-time to gather blooms to our heart’s content.

It’s the chore that’s really more a treat.

There are many species of hardy and easy-to-grow cut-flower perennials that will come back and multiply year after year. Our favorites that fill our garden are Phlox, Liatris, Balloon flower, Black-eyed Susan, Coreopsis, Catmint, Daylily, Echinacea, Iris, and Sundrop. In addition to those, we plant a large annual bed of cut-and-come-again Zinnia. The more you pick them, the more vibrant and colorful blooms they produce.

And let’s be honest,

“I have too many flowers,”….

said no one ever!!


Walks, hikes, them what you will, but they all accomplish the same thing - cultivating an appreciation for things of the natural world, an appreciation for the seasons, for time, for life, for death, for beauty, for struggle, for perseverance -

it all can be found in the forest, can’t it?

Is there anything more magical than dappled light pouring in through a canopy of newly opened leaves?

Or the quiet stillness of a freshly fallen snow?

The call of an owl, the fallen pinecones beneath a tree, the intricate design of a web - these are the things that will bring enchantment to their days, wonder to their

There is something grounding and centering that occurs when we immerse ourselves in Creation.

When we teach our children to appreciate these simple things, these small things, what we are really doing is equipping them to find happiness despite circumstances..Peace despite trials.

And that, dear friend, is an immeasurable thing to carry through a life.


Chase it, dance in it, sit in it and bask in its warm glow.

Whatever you do, just GO to it.

Wherever it is, whichever window in drips into, whatever part of the yard it paints - stop what you’re doing and drench yourself in it.

You’ll never be sorry.

In fact you’ll likely feel your spirits lift instantly - because these simple ceremonious acts inject joy into the mundane. They free us from our troubles, if only for a few moments.

My children and I know exactly what time the golden light will come and exactly where it will be in the yard.

And there truly is nothing like it.

It’s saturated hue delights us every time - we dance and take pictures and watch the little particles of dust float in the warm beams, shooting down from the trees and dissipating into the ground.

They’re sure something special is happening when we’re standing there for I always make a point of reminding them how rich in vitamin D the golden light is. They stand with palms open and quiet smiles, eyes closed, drinking it up like a magical elixir, ever so sure of its potency.


Why on earth does it always look like the moon is following us?

And do ants sleep?

And how many moons does Jupiter have anyhow?

These and more are the kinds of questions I get on the daily and I’m sure you get your fair share of ‘why thises’ and ‘why thats’ too.

That innate wonder in a child - propelling them to learn, to explore - capitalize on it! Feed it! Give them the tools to discover and learn for themselves by learning alongside them. Show them how to find the answers to questions.

READ: We google EVERYTHING. Lol! And YouTube!

I mean, there’s gotta be a YouTube video for every question you can come up with.

Get in there and dig for those answers - help them unlock the secrets of this world and how things work. Teach them to follow their curiosities and to think critically - you’ll be amazed at how they grow and how much they absorb.

This kind of interest-led learning will likely be the most effective learning you will see your child do. So look for those sparks and IGNITE them into roaring flames.

And most importantly - do it TOGETHER.


You know how that saying goes, don’t you? Appreciate the little things because one day you’ll realize they were the big things all along. (well - something like that , anyway lol)

We need to come alongside our kids and train their eyes to see the beauty in the details. The hidden magic in the mundane.

Encourage them to use their imaginations by showing them how we use ours - what do they see when they look at that scribble, that cloud, that tree branch?

Do they see the patterns? The colors?

Do they see the abstract images their minds identify as the midday clouds sail across the sky?

The dragon?

The rabbit?

It’s all there - it’s all always been there, ya know? We just have to teach them to see it.

And it’s really not hard. Really, anyone can do it.

All it takes is a little imagination... smidge of time...and a big healthy dollop of childlike wonder.

August 12, 2019 — Makel Gardner
Tags: adventures
rootin' tootin' first birthday

rootin' tootin' first birthday

I don't usually go all out on birthday parties but we recently moved back to Utah and close to Sweet Tooth Fairy. I knew she'd make some darling cakes and goodies for my big guy so I threw together a cake table to display her amazing treats!! I already had a plethora of Cowboy/farm decor saved from when my husband was little and because of my obsession with farm toys. So..... cowboy theme it was! We also had a blast watching Tripp eat his very own smash cake. It was such a fun day that Tripp didn't go to sleep until 10pm, so you could say he loved every second of it. Also I may be biased but he makes the cutest cowboy and cow I've ever seen :)



          1. Cakes (did I mention the flavor was funfetti with COOKIE DOUGH?) -      Sweet Tooth Fairy

          2 - Cookies - Sweet Tooth Fairy & Mini Cupcakes - Sweet Tooth Fairy

          3. Beeswax candles - Under a Tin Roof

          4. Ceramic drink dispenser - local antique store

          5. Stick Horse: Ewmccall

          6. Cow Bonnet: Native Fable

          7. Cowbow hat - Amazon

          8. Straws, burlap table runner and white cake stand - Target

          9. Horse & Cowboy figures - passed down from my husband

          10. Flag banner: Fin & Vince

          11. Highchair - local antique store


Also thought I'd share some of his gifts. We don't have a lot of room inside for extra toys so we opted for outdoor toys and they were all a big hit! The favorites included a Radio Flyer Wagon, a water table for outside, and his very own broom so he could stop taking mine ;)

Wagon: Radio Flyer from Walmart

Broom: TJ Maxx



May 31, 2018 — Makel Gardner
summer bucket list for kids - emily

summer bucket list for kids - emily

Hi everyone! I'm Emily and I am so honored to be sharing my love for Fin and Vince today. I'm a mama to two little boys and finding them the best pieces of clothing is something that I greatly enjoy doing. What I love about Fin and Vince is that their pieces are timeless, excellent quality, and most importantly, wash and wear like kids clothes should. When I invest in pieces I want to be able to last not only through the seasons, but the years as well. I like pieces that are versatile, easy to wear, and thoughtfully made. Fin and Vince pieces are just that and so much more for us. I want my boys to be able to be kids in their clothes without a mom fretting about them getting dirty. 

A few weeks ago the strawberry fields opened here in the south and I couldn't wait to take the boys. This has become a yearly tradition for us and the U-Pick season is kinda like the summer kick off for the Mississippi Delta. Each month fields of delicious, fresh produce open to be picked and we just devour ourselves in it! I don't know if there is anything quite like an open field of ripe, scumpticious berries, two eager little boys who are ready to eat their way through the patch, and a mama who's already planning all the jams, pies, and strawberries topped with fresh whip cream to be made. It truly is a summer bucket list item that I'm ever so excited to check off. 

This year's pickins' was a good one to say the least. The fields were full and muddy and the boys throughly enjoyed every bit of it. Once they managed to fill up on berries, they headed for the mud puddles... and there were plenty of them. Luckily I dressed them both in F&V matching shorts so they kept cool on a warm southern day... After we finished picking we explored the patch for a little bit and the boys admired the large red barn and tractor nearby. 

It was a memorable and successful day of berry pickin' to say the least. Now I can't wait for the other u-pick patches to open throughout the summer! 

Aside from u-picking I always try to put together a little bucket list for summer break. My oldest, who's five, always enjoys checking off each task and I enjoy making the most out of our summer. I always love the rest, recharging, and limited scheduling that summer brings before the new school year. Here's a look at what our summer bucket list looks like! - 

- Go U-picking - strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches. 

- Complete our local library's summer reading program.

- Make s'mores in the backyard. 

- Pitch a tent in the backyard. 

- Make root beer popsicles.

- Run through the sprinkler. 

- Catch a firefly or two.

- Catch a summer sunset or the Strawberry Moon (June) 

- Eat all the ice cream 

- Visit a local water park or splash pad 

- Roll down a hill 

- Decorate the sidewalks with chalk 

- Plant a summer garden 

- Make sun catchers 

- Go on a nature walk 

- Have a pool day 

- Take a trip to the beach 

- Enjoy the Farmer's Market

- Write letters to a summer pen pal 

- Take a mini summer vacation to see the Grandparents. 

To just name a few! What's on your summer bucket list? Do you have any u-pick patches that you attend throughout the summer? 

A huge thank you to F&V for letting me share my love for them and summer today! 

xo! Emily

May 23, 2018 — Makel Gardner
Tags: adventures
tips for traveling with an infant

tips for traveling with an infant

I'm no expert on travel, but living in Vegas and having family in Utah we've had our fair share of road trips since Tripp was born. This last week I also had my first solo flight with Tripp, and 9 months is no walk in the park because they are BUSY and don't care so much about toys, I-pads or coloring yet. I wanted to share a few products and tips that made the flight with my 9 month old easier.

1. these toy straps

I attached toys for the stroller so he would be content through the security lines and waiting at the gate. We all know a baby's favorite toy trick is to throw them on the floor, this keeps them attached so they aren't dropping things on the dirty airport floor and losing them.  You can also to attach to high chairs at restaurants, we attach sippy cups, silicone feeders and toys. 

2. toys and activities that can attach on the straps. This adorable bunny has a pull/vibrate feature, a teething ring and textured features. Huge hit!

any toy with a handle to attach to the straps. We love the banana teether and this ring teether.  

This cute wooden book already has a velcro strap and it's darling!

3. This suction toy

I shared how I love using this toy at restaurants, and someone mentioned that they work great for the plane window...genius!

4. An absorbent bib with a strap. I got this bib on amazon, but the company no longer makes them. We will actually have some gauze bibs coming to our shop soon because I use this one so much and it's great for the leftover fabric. It keeps his clothes clean and dry through the day of traveling and I attach his binky and one teething toy so he has access throughout the day and it's not falling on the floor. Binky clips are great but he can usually tear them right off haha. 

5. Another tip that helped us was sitting in the back of the plane. The engine was super loud (which is a tad annoying for mom) but helped baby nurse and sleep because he wasn't distracted by conversations/announcements/etc. He also loves white noise so no need for my white noise machine. It also helped if he was fussy because not many people could even hear him with the noise. We made sure to ask the flight attendants right when we sat down if the flight was full and if we could move seats if it wasn't. I didn't pick my own seat and wanted a row to myself to nurse and for nap time. We got lucky and got our own row, but next time I think I'll be purchasing a seat for him even if I don't bring the carseat. I don't think he would have eaten or slept with someone sitting right next to me, it would have been miserable. 

6. Obvious, but cannot forget a plethora of snacks. We used yogurt melts, puffs, cheerios and veggie straws. 

What are your favorite traveling tips with an infant? I'm not sure we could handle more than a few hour flight at this age haha.

March 19, 2018 — Makel Gardner
packing with baby

packing with baby

Packing with a baby is no freaking joke! Hello extra 5 suitcases haha. We are heading to California for a few days and then off to Utah to stay with family for two weeks. I made this packing list and thought it might help for that first trip with baby! Feel free to download and print it out :) Happy and safe travels!

Click HERE to download


August 16, 2017 — Makel Gardner
Winter Bucket List - Samantha

Winter Bucket List - Samantha

Hi! I’m Samantha, mama to Adelyn (3) and Emery (1). I live in the countryside, am a part-time first-grade teacher, and love traveling. I have been blogging for almost two years over at Hello Tiny Love (, a modern motherhood blog. I am so excited to be a guest blogger for Fin & Vince as I have been such a long-time fan of their clothing. I still remember and treasure the first piece I bought for Emery--a rust skirt that she wore every time we would visit the farm this past summer. I am a firm believer that each piece of clothing from Fin & Vince is a timeless that not only hold up through many wears, but will always hold memories that are made when your child wears Fin & Vince.
My girls made many more memories in Fin and Vince’s fall line so I thought I would share a few favorite captures with you. I still am in disbelief of how quickly fall has come and gone. Fall is definitely my favorite season, but we are excited for the upcoming winter months and all the different traditions and fun we will create as a family. So as we say “goodbye” to fall, here are just a few fall captures of the girls and our winter bucket list.
I honestly could have added so many more things to our list, but I figure by the time we check everything off; it will be just in time to create a spring/summer checklist. 
I also created a little winter inspo board for you over on my Pinterest ( if you would like to see ideas that I will be pinning in the coming months.
Happy sledding, snowman-making, and hot-cocoa-drinking days ahead to you!


December 28, 2016 — Makel Gardner
Tags: adventures
Christmas To Do List Ideas - Oksana

Christmas To Do List Ideas - Oksana

Hi Everyone! My name is Oksana. I am a wife and mama to three children. Noah is 9, Emma just turned 6 and Ava is 13 months old. I am a stay at home mother and most of my time is spent raising my little crew, schooling them and doing life together.
I wanted to share a bit of my background since I haven't talked a lot about it. I am Russian by Nationality, was born and raised in the former Soviet Union. I went to University when I was 16 and that’s when I started to learn the English language. I absolutely LOVED it and couldn't get enough of it. Little did I know, that was going to travel to Canada after I graduated from University where I met my future husband who is from the US. We got married in the autumn of 2005 and I immigrated to the United States in march of 2006. I love my life here and proud to be a citizen of this amazing country I get to call home.
Fast forward 10 years, we are now a family of five and I'm all about about doing things together and forming our own family traditions that I hope our children will cherish and carry on in their own families. And what better time to build family traditions than Christmas!
One of my favorite things we do this beautiful holiday season is to get our own ‘choose and cut’ Christmas tree. We usually do it the day after Thanksgiving and travel to a Christmas tree farm in the mountains of North Carolina. I dream and look forward to the day staring fall. There’s just something so special about it. This year was the first time with took Ava with us and it was just wonderful. She touched lots of trees, walked around them, played pick-a-boo and had fun. The weather was gorgeous and we couldn't have asked for a better day. We also found our perfect tree! I know she will not remember it but we sure have plenty of photos to show to her when she gets older.
My older daughter Emma wanted to get a small tree for her room. But she shares the room with her baby sister and it is a small space. To disappointment we couldn’t fit a tree there.
I started thinking how I could make her heart happy and came with an idea of a small ‘Christmas Tree’ wall hanging. We used branches from a cedar tree, made little swags from them, tied them with twine and hung from a stick in a tree pattern. She LOVES her little ‘tree’ and I am happy for her. It is very simple, doesn't take up space, takes about 30 minutes to make, yet brings her happiness. And that’s what makes my mama heart happy as well. I am pretty sure we will be making more of these in the years to come.
Next on our list of things to do in the weeks leading up to Christmas is to read lots of Christmas books. It is one of my favorite to read to my children, watch them flip through pages, look at beautiful illustrations and talk about the true meaning of Christmas. Emma is really getting into book this year, she is learning to read. And I think baby Ava is becoming quite a bookworm herself. She loves to walk around with books, turn pages and look at pictures. She comes over to us, plops down into our lap and gives us a book to read. It brings me and my husband joy to know our children love books.
And of course no Christmas season goes by without baking and consuming lots of eggnog. We bake gingerbread cookies for our advent calendar, sugar cookies, shortbread cookies, and this year we made rice crispy treats and cut them out into snowflake shapes with a cookie cutter. I love the slower and cozy days that this season brings and I hope my children will have warm and fond memories about all of this when they get older.

I want to wish a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New year from our family to yours!

December 24, 2016 — Makel Gardner
FIN & VINCE with Lindsey Badenhop

FIN & VINCE with Lindsey Badenhop

1- Tell us a little bit about you. What is your story?
I'm Lindsey and my life is surrounded by boys and that just could not make me any happier. Wife to my high school sweetie turned farmer, Cory and mama to two rambunctious, sweet little boys, Hayden [3] and Finley [16 months] and our fur baby Rylee. We call home a 1900s brick home in the countryside of Northwest Ohio. I'm lucky to spend my days wrapped around my babies, but prior to them, I found myself in the fashion industry. My happy place is now styling these kiddos, rearranging our house one million times and blogging my heart out. With these things I have found a bit of my past self, which honestly, can get lost in a beautiful way once those little peanuts arrive. 

 2- What's your daily routine like with two little ones? 

We wake up, I milk Finley [yes this is what we call it now at 16 months ha] and we all head down stairs. We turn on the record player and with that the boys are demanding breakfast. Usually eggs for them and a cup of coffee for me. And then a snack for them. And another.  The mornings seem to fly by, but this is usually when I get my "chores" done and the boys play or watch a show. 

We try to get outside once a day, that being either playing outback on their swing set, rummaging through our garden, or heading into town to stop at our favorite park. Naps are up next, but honestly, I think they are both giving the naps a no go soon. HELP. If they do sleep, and at the same time I should add, this is when I get a bit of time to myself. Usually I try to sit my butt down on the couch and do absolutely nothing. Or take one thousand pictures for the blog. Or eat.  
I try to make dinner every night [i just laughed out loud] and while I'm doing so the boys play on the back deck. Then comes baths, one of my favorite times of the day. They splash and giggle and play together and everyone is just happy. So happy. Bed time stories, prayers, I love yous and goodnight kisses round out our day.

3- what are some of your favorite activities to do as a family of 4?
We love taking long family bike rides together. We usually end up riding along the trail by the river and stopping at the falls. Or riding into town for ice cream is always a good choice, too! 


4- what are some of your favorite baby/kid products out there that we should know about? 
Oh man, how do I choose?! There's so many good products out there right now! I recently just came across happy heart kid. They supply fun activity kits to help parents teach important life skills . Our Gathre mat is a total must around here! Y'all need the nose frida if you don't have one. You may think it's gross, but just trust me. And tubby todd's all over ointment. It's a little miracle worker!  


5-  what are some of your favorite pieces from Fin & Vince right now and why? 
You know I need all the pieces, right? But I'm totally goo goo eyes over the overalls. They've been my favorite from the beginning. Along with the rompers, as you know by how much I cherish our 'free as a bird' one from the original line. The fit is just perfect. And I adore the rust stripes and houses prints. And the linen!! And that knit romper!! WOW.



6- What has been your favorite part of motherhood as a stay-at-home mom? 
I often take staying home for granted. It's incredibly hard, being needed and constantly with your babies every second of the day. But then bed time comes around and I long for them. Like sometimes I actually wake them up and bring them into my bed. And then that's when it hits me, how lucky I am to have every moment with them both every day. To watch them grow and learn and become their own person. I never miss a new 'first', a new milestone, a funny thing they do, or a boo boo to kiss, and that has to be my absolute favorite part. 


Shop Hayden and Finley's clothes in the links below:

Linen Shirt

Up all night onesie

Moon joggers

Beary Hungry Raglan


November 08, 2016 — Makel Gardner
Tags: adventures