The Gulf Islands Nat’l Seashore Park at Davis Bayou : Why we love it!

I am always an advocate for getting my kids out of the house and outside. It’s good for their health and good for their soul and really good for my sanity. LOL But really, we always enjoy getting out and doing things like going to play at the park or digging in the sand at the beach or exploring a nature trail. The Davis Bayou part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore Park here in Ocean Springs, MS is definitely one of our top places we like to go to stretch our legs and just really enjoy our hometown. In fact, we went there again today (aka yesterday if you’re reading this when the post publishes ) – so it occurred to me to share with you guys how much we love it.

It’s located right off Hwy 90 in Ocean Springs, and it always feels like you’re entering a different world when you turn into the park. You go from the hustle , bustle, and traffic ridden city to entering a beautiful, wooded, quiet, and peaceful area.

There is a campground where you can camp with your RV or with tents, boat launch, and fishing pier, BUT we really like the nature trails and visitor center.

The particular trail that we do is a 1/2 mile loop and is perfect for going on with the kids. I’ve been taking mine there for years… Sophie was navigating the trail with ease when she was a brand new walker. There’s also a little area where you can stand on a platform over the water to watch for alligators, turtles, and other critters that frequent the bayou.

What’s so neat is that I can remember standing in that exact spot as a kid with my own dad, and now I take MY children there! The kids really enjoy waiting and watching to see what critter is going to show up while we’re there.

The visitor center is a fun and welcome cool reprieve during the hot summer months when we’ve visited the trail. It’s full of educational displays about the Bayou and has a huge deck area out back over the water that you can walk around on to see some really beautiful views of the Bayou.

Whether you’re a local or you’re visiting us here in Ocean Springs, MS – The Davis Bayou part of the The Gulf Islands Nat’l Seashore Park is a really great place to spend the afternoon (or morning – whatever floats your boat! 😉 ) . I feel like it’s definitely a little hidden gem and is a place that really gives me all the heart eyes for this little town that we live in.

Tell me, what’s one your favorite things to do in your hometown??

Side note – gathering these pictures of my babies over the years has just really made me all sentimental about how much they’ve grown and changed!!

— Ashley

MARDI GRAS : Ideas for a low-key KID Celebration!

Hey hey, it’s Monday! I hope that you guys had a fantastic weekend. 🙂 We had a good one.. even with a stomach virus and sinus infection mixed in. I mean, we really just can’t win lately in the health department. However, we made the best of it and still enjoyed ourselves. I even slipped in a much needed nap on Sunday afternoon!

Alright, so to the point of today’s post: I wanted to share with you guys how I plan on celebrating Mardi Gras with my littles tomorrow. Both kids are out of school, so I had to take the day off to take care of them. And considering they both love to celebrate a holiday and I’m not one for parades … I came up with a plan to have a little low-key at home Mardi Gras celebration!

First of all, I have a few activities planned. Some simple crafts that I gathered ideas for from Pinterest. And secondly, while we do those crafts I was going to spend some time talking to them about what exactly IS Mardi Gras – and why is it a thing that we celebrate.

Lately, my children are really into making things, coloring things, painting things… basically they are ready for me to exercise all of my crafty momma dreams with. Seriously though, there was a time before I had kids when I imagined doing all sorts of fun crafty activities with my future children and I was THERE for that moment. Then I had kids and realized that it wasn’t the dreamy experience I imagined it would be. But my kids are at a great age where they can do things by themselves (i.e. use scissors, color, draw, etc) and most importantly they are interested in crafting. So anyway, I’m now here for this moment take full advantage of it! Anddd I said all of that to say that’s why our ‘kid friendly Mardi Gras celebration’ is centered around making crafts. 😉

I put together this color by number color sheet. It’s an age appropriate activity for both my almost 6 year old and 3.5 year old. It’s also something super simple that they can pretty much do on their own after I explain it to them.

I’m also planning on having them make masks. Cooper made a Mardi Gras mask at school this past week, and has wanted to make another one. So, I found this cute idea on Activities for Kids to make one using paper plates which is great because it’s a different approach than what Coop did at school.


I also thought making this jester hat using construction paper would be really easy and fun for the kids. I’ll probably go ahead and cut out all the pieces Monday night so that on Tuesday all they have to do is glue/tape it together. I found the idea from the Mardi Gras Outlet blog via Pinterest.


Some thoughts on doing crafts with kids? Keep it simple. Lower your expectations and expect a little chaos. 😉 Keep. It. Simple. That’s really key. For me, doing things like having things prepared so that the kids aren’t waiting for things like me to cut the eyes out on their mask or cut the shapes for their jest hats makes a HUGE difference in how smoothly it all goes.

While we do all of this I’ll talk to the kids about the history of Mardi Gras and the meaning of the celebration. I plan to pull up some parade footage on YouTube which will be great because they can get a visual for what a parade is without dealing with crowds! I’ll also play some Mardi Gras themed music. And obviously, we will also enjoy some King Cake, because is it Mardi Gras without King Cake? 😉 Make sure you follow me on IG @thisisashleynicol and Snapchat ashley.sumrall so that you can see how all this pans out in real time. 😉

Do y’all celebrate Mardi Gras? If so, do you go to parades or stay home like us?

— Ashley

FREE March Themed Phone & Desktop Wallpapers

Hey y’all ! Happy F R I D A Y & Happy beginning of my BIRTHDAY month! March really kicks of birthday season for my entire family though. Between March and April we celebrate SEVEN birthdays… this whole time of year ends up feeling like another Christmas season. 😉

But anyway, the whole reason I’m here is to share with you some free goodies. Listen, I am no professional – this is just me having fun creating images that and wanting to share them. 🙂

For us here in the south, March means Mardi Gras this year. I’m not really one for parades. I’m not into crowds… ever… I’d just leave feeling exhausted and stressed out. I DO like the spirit of Mardi Gras and this year I’ll be home with the kids since their schools are closed so I have some fun Mardi Gras inspired crafts for us to do. Maybe one day they will request to go to a parade and then I’ll have to suffer LOL..until then we’ll celebrate quietly.

March is also heavily themed with St. Patrick’s day which makes me think of all things green, four leafed clovers, and rainbows. And really, year round.. when does a rainbow not make you smile?? I’m not even into colors and I get joy from seeing a rainbow.

And really, that’s all y’all. I hope that you’re having a fabulous Friday + an amazing weekend.

— Ashley

P.S. Keep scrolling to see all the phone wallpapers! If you’d like me to email you the files, submit your email address below! 🙂