Adventures, Family culture, Parenting-thing

5 Lessons From Hiking With Kids

Looking ahead to summer there are a lot of trails I would like to see, especially during our two weeks in Colorado and Utah coming up in June.

Last week I nabbed a pair of Ahnu Sugarpine hiking shoes from REI (thank you dividend!) and when they got here today we all were so excited we decided to go try them out right away. I figured it would be good to get them all outside and on a “hike,” because while they’ll play for hours on a playground getting from Point A to Point B is a whole different thing.

The big girls pulled on their hiking boots as I put on mine, and we headed to Mitch Park with a backpack, 3 water bottles, and two types of snacks for a bit of an experiment.

All went fine at first. The girls scampered, giggled, climbed rocks, pointed out flowers blooming in the grass…

You only wished you were as cool as them. I can almost hear some theme music…

That was the first 5 minutes.

It was almost 90° outside, and despite the high winds their cheeks were getting flushed and they started begging for water like they were lost in the Sahara.

We stopped in the shade and everyone chugged from the big water bottle…impatiently waiting their turn.

When Tatum was done she squatted down so I took the opportunity to point out she was in a lightning position…

 

So we all crouched in the lightning position. Yay us. And the 834 lightning-related questions that followed from my curious 6-year-old.

We chose our next route and Kenna was fascinated with the sign…and chose to show it off in style. This kid has more ‘tude and style than she knows what to do with!

A few minutes later I got my first “Up?” from Bennett and I checked my phone to see our distance… .35 of a mile 🤦🏼‍♀️We made it another third of a mile and one more water bottle down before I gave in and got her up and into the back of my backpack (finally putting those WAFA skills to use!) and we kept on cruisin’.

We spotted birds, drank more water, ate a snack, drank more water.

Lesson #1   Assume my children are part dromedary and carry three times the amount of water I think we need. Let’s just say we’re going nowhere in the mountains without a LifeStraw.

I noticed a gully with a clear cut trail across that cut out a significant part of our path. Since Tatum was exclaiming she needed to go to the bathroom, a shortcut looked like a good idea.

We started downhill when Kenna–my often too-fearless kid decided to become terrified of going down a little trail. And of bugs…all of the sudden. Kenna, who often will pick up bugs to inspect them, squeal with delight over the cuteness, and I have to warn not to touch the quarter inch stinger on the cicada killer. But there she was, having a mini meltdown in a gully about all the bugs…that I couldn’t see.

Lesson #2 Assume your kids will do a 180° on their preferences and personalities at any time.

Once we reached the bottom of the gully it actually turned out to be one of the most interesting features I’ve seen in Mitch Park–ever! And we’ve been walking there for six years!

Once at the bottom it wasn’t quite so windy, and there were trees and bushes so I gave Tatum permission to relieve herself “like a hiker.” You’d have thought she hit the jackpot–ever since she first peed next to a tree while hiking in Colorado it’s the height of outdoorsy excitement for her.

Lesson #3 Always carry toilet paper/tissues/baby wipes and plastic bags with you. Thankfully I was prepared.

With 90% of our water gone we ate a few more snacks, Kenna calmed down about the bugs, Bennett was down from the backpack and exploring, and things were looking up. I even managed to find a rock to do a group photo…this was the only place where the wind wouldn’t knock the phone over and I could prop it up.

Lesson #4 Always carry one of those mini tripods for your phone. Memories are the big things and the everyday moments.

 

We hiked up the hill–Bennett insisting on doing it herself a lot and sometimes fully face-planting in the red Oklahoma dirt but keeping on. The girls spotted some trash we gathered and threw away (made my Leave No Trace heart so proud), and by the time we were just maybe one fifth of a mile away from the car they decided they were having way too much fun to go home.

Bennett became quite desperate to show me every flower in the grass. Kenna’s eyes became quite adept at finding all the bird houses and bird feeders in the area. Tatum spun in circles. When I realized it was almost 6:00 and we needed to get home to make dinner, Bennett became the noodle child, Kenna wanted to stop and admire everything, and Tatum became the task master trying to help me drive them forward. Which leads me to my last lesson.

Lesson #5 Give yourself three times the normal amount of time to do any hike. 

Yeah, that has to be the slowest seven-tenths of a mile EVER.

BUT, it’s a starting point.

Everyone ate a BIG dinner (which isn’t always the norm).

Bennett crashed as soon as we put her in her crib.

I hardly had a moment to realize my new hiking shoes were amazingly comfortable…even carrying a 10 pound backpack and a 30 pound kid.

And the girls want to “hike” again. Tomorrow.

I’d call that a success…but glad of my lessons learned!

Family culture, Parenting-thing, Uncategorized

Mamahood is…

Mamahood is knowing exactly how to hand your four-year-old a banana so she doesn’t see the tiny blemish.

Mamahood is not leaving your house all day except to check the mail but by the end of the day your feet hurt.

Mamahood is using your toddler’s bottle of milk from the fridge for cream in your coffee.


Mamahood is not being able to stop your toddler from going fishing in the dog bowl with her bath toys because you’re pumping and don’t want milk to get everywhere.

Mamahood is weighing 13 different contributing factors when your kid asks if they can play with play-doh. Factors include the distance between meals, their level of energy, their level of rascaliness (I’m sure that’s a word), how clean the house is, and whether or not you were planning on vacuuming the second time that day.

Mamahood is bouncing your baby until your biceps are sore praying they’ll nod off, and then missing their snuggles when they’re asleep. 


Mamahood is deciding what’s for dinner based on how much energy you have for cleanup.

Mamahood is throwing impromptu dance parties just because it’s Wednesday. 

Mamahood is perfecting your band-aid rule book. 

Mamahood is letting them play in the backyard paddling pool and deciding they are clean enough for bed.


Mamahood is wearing nine different shirts in a day when your baby is on a spit up spree.

Mamahood is having your eyes water every time your baby laughs because it’s so beautiful you can’t take it. 

Mamahood is eyeballing the bench at the gym trying to decide if it is wide enough to nap on. 

Mamahood is working so so hard to ensure enough boredom for them to be creative.

Mamahood is magic kisses and hugs that heal the hurt. 

Family culture, Parenting-thing

Shaping Our Family Culture 

Lately I’ve been listening to the audio book Desperate by Sally Clarkson and Sarah Mae. In it, they talk about sitting down with your spouse and deciding what kind of family culture you want to have. Just like any goals in life, they advocate if you don’t set the goals for what you want your family to look like, ten years from now you may find yourself just trudging through and find you never did any of those things with your family you wanted to do.

So when Matt and I went on our date night a few weeks ago, we talked about it.

Clarkson and Mae write, “Plan what kind of family you want to be. Determine for yourself what you hope to be the outcome for your family. What legacies do you want to leave for your children?”

We talked about teaching our girls to love Jesus and be loving to everyone they meet, and have servant’s hearts. To show hospitality, and be dependable.

Adventure, and being outside are important to us. We want them to experience different places and ways people live and gorgeous scenery.

We want them to be immersed in culture–we want them to be well read, able to carry on intelligent conversation, love music, and value a wide range of art and aesthetics. We enjoy cooking and good food, and want them to appreciate a perfectly cooked steak well as a pbj.

We want to teach them to be comfortable and themselves in any situation–whether camping in the backwoods or hanging out with friends or dining at a restaurant with 3 Michelin stars or attending a Presidential inauguration.

We want our home and our family to be FUN, that our girls feel like home is the best place in the world.

We want them to value experience over possessions. To be lifelong learners. To be kind and generous.

These are a few of the things we talked about. Yes, you might be thinking well DUH, doesn’t everyone want that for their kids? and yes, maybe there are a lot of overlapping themes. But the point is we sat down, talked about it, wrote it down, and started to come up with action plans on how to incorporate each of these things into our family culture.

We’ve made it a point to try to sit down to dinner together–which is a lot easier now that Matt is done with his MBA! We try…but it isn’t always successful…

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This is Kenna giving me her rice noodles. And dropping them on the floor.

And this is Tatum making letters and shapes out of the noodles. I guess I should be happy she’s learning?

The girls started off sitting together on the bench. Then they fought over raisins and when Tatum tried to get off the bench she somehow fell over and all I saw were two feet flying in the air. Matt and I hadn’t even sat down yet when she was asking to be excused. Neither girl ate much, the baby was fussy, and Tatum was grumpy but we slogged through.

Last weekend we bought dollar water guns and a kiddie pool and had a water fight in the front yard, then washed the car while the baby slept. Fun definitely got checked that day!

On Saturday it was Oklahoma Free Fishing day where you didn’t need a fishing license, so Matt took Tatum to Lake Arcadia and they had a daddy daughter date learning to cast and reel. They spotted a beach that looked fun, so yesterday (Sunday) we loaded everyone up after nap, grabbed dinner and went to the lake. Kenna had quite the ensemble…

Matt was a very happy daddy…

This picture is a bit deceiving as when I went to nurse Bennett she had a complete meltdown for about 10 minutes…until I put her in the sling and she passed out! She spent most of her time in there with me while Matt wrangled the big girls.

We’ve been making a concentrated effort to develop our family culture. There’s been tears and bad attitudes and things that didn’t seem but be a success, but we’re committed to doing them.

So I thought I’d share our efforts to develop what “The Palmers” look like. This month, before it gets too hot, I’ve been pushing for an overnight camping trip. With three kids 4 and under? Crazy? Maybe. But Tatum did inform me yesterday, “I am an expert at peeing behind trees” so at least we have that going for us!

If you’re a mama, I highly recommend the book Desperate. I’ve been taking my time going through it…usually while grocery shopping at night after the girls are in bed or while walking around the track at the Y. If you’ve never tried Audible, your first book is free and if you give me your email I’m happy to send this one to you!

So I’m curious–what do you want your family to look like ten years from now?

Parenting-thing

Never Trust A Parenting Book

Never trust a parenting book…if the author has no kids. Or even just one kid.

With one kid you can figure them out for the most part. Correct the child and they usually obey. If they don’t, a well-placed I’m-your-mother-obey-me-now look will do the trick. They don’t stick their fingers in the light sockets after you’ve disciplined them once. Or five times. Or ten times. They eventually listen…and stop trying to eletrocute themselves.

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Only children have no one to have screaming matches with…for fun or in fury. No one is touching their stuff. They can play with their toys that have tiny pieces wherever and whenever they want…not just in a loft bed during quiet time so the younger can’t try to aspirate a Shopkins yogurt cup. They may not have the insatiable desire to put everything in their mouth.

You might be rolling along with your single child, thinking smugly you’ve got a handle on this parenting thing. Sure, it might be more work with more kids, but the discipline thing you’ve got down. Lots of love, right?

Then comes #2. And even though you have tried so many different methods of correction–from sternness to clapping to smacking a chubby hand to yelling in an attempt to scare them into obedience–they STILL pop those socket covers out and try to shove their two-year-old fingers into it. EVERYTHING goes in the mouth. Shoes, the cat’s tail, dirt (so much dirt), EVERYONE’S toothbrushes, those socket cover safety-thingies, poop-covered fingers. Oh, and that was just today.

Yep, if you’re going to read a parenting book make sure it’s at least written by someone with multiple children. And at least one who is “the wild child.” The one who has no fear. Who you honestly wonder if they have a hearing problem because they are so good at ignoring you calling them…and then they come running when they hear the whispered word “cookie.” The one who takes off running in a parking lot if they are not physically tethered to you. The one who thinks it great fun to reach in the back of the diaper and pull out handfuls of poop…you know why? Because they know it might lead to a bath.

If you only have one kid right now, I’m sorry. You might get two doe-eyed angels who respond to discipline just as you wish. But if you get a kid like my crazy Kenna, hang on. You’ll need every book, Focus on the Family broadcast and ounce of grace you can get your hands on.

The good news is that cuteness seems to be in proportion to how much grace a child needs. Kenna is irrevocably loving. Beyond adorable with her blonde curls and large blue eyes and her own toddler language and voice inflections. Devoted to her big sister and copying her every move…even moving her sit and spin so close to Tatum’s that they can’t even spin around properly. She is an expert snuggler–when she wants to be–and is the best and easiest sleeper you could ask for.

So before you load up on the next thing in parenting philosophy, make sure it’s written  by someone who spends 12+ hours a day on average with multiple children. Someone who knows that one discipline style–which made your firstborn straighten up–will make your second look at you with a twinkle in their eye like, “you’re so cute for trying to stop me” and test (and blow up) every limit of your patience.

You don’t quite realize how easy parenting one kid is…until you have two. But as wild and crazy and uncontrollable as #2 may be, you can’t imagine life without the crazy sauce.

Now someone tell me what #3 is like…

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