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!

Adventures, Family culture

Brown Days of Waiting

So much has gone back and forth. When to put the house on the market, my brother and his wife moving back in with my parents, can we travel before we sell our house? It seems like every week there’s a new factor in all of the decision-making and for right now it’s just an aggravating state of waiting. And listening–seeing where the Lord wants us to be. That’s the hardest part, not just picking up and hightailing it to the mountains but really listening to see where we are to go. We know it’s somewhere, just not sure where.

In Oklahoma the grass is all brown and most of the trees have lost their leaves. Winter here makes me actually miss the Pacific Northwest and it’s evergreens!  Everything is brown, dry, and the dry winter air makes the sunlight appear sharp and harsh. Thankfully these girls still love being outside–no matter the weather!

img_2328

Thankfully yesterday and today we’ve had a wintry mix, and sitting in my comfy chair by the fire with a frozen world outside feels nice and snug. The girls thoroughly enjoyed playing outside–I really enjoy that the big girls are old enough to play outside by themselves without constant supervision. I can see them through the windows as they imagine their own little worlds, taking refuge in their playhouse when the sleet got too heavy, mowing the snow (because that needs to be done), and trying to sled in their bilibos down our slight incline.

In talking, Matt and I decided that since we’re not making our big trips quite yet (and aren’t sure when and how that will play out exactly…just that it will!), we are going to start exploring local and semi-local locations while we’re still here.

First up is a place called Robbers Cave State Park. With hillier and rockier landscape than here plus pine trees, we’re looking forward to the change of scenery–even if it’s just for a couple of days! We rented a cabin so we don’t have to worry about setting up camp for one night, and this time the Bennie girl will be joining us!

When we took the big girls camping last fall it made a huge impact on Kenna–she still asks weekly to go camping. Last week in the car she rattled off to me EVERY DETAIL of our camping trip, from when she wore her floater to when she didn’t, what we ate, what she played–that kid remembers it all!

So-does anyone have any suggestions within 5ish hours of OKC? We’re looking at the Great Salt Plains State Park, the Chickasaw Cultural Center, a trip to Dallas, maybe a trip to Austin, Kansas City, maybe Eureka Springs in Arkansas…any other places not to miss while we’re here?

Adventures, Family culture

Zoo Day(s)

It’s times like this weekend I’m reminded how very blessed I am to be a mama to three such unique and wonderful girls.

Tatum is becoming more independent and adventurous. She used to worry about running to the mailbox while I stood at the open door watching her. Yesterday I asked her to grab the picnic blanket from the stroller while we were sitting in the elephant presentation area (I could see her the whole time and it wasn’t more than 25 feet away), but whereas before it would have taken a lot of reassurance that I could see her the whole time and it was ok, she chirped, “Sure!” and hopped down, ran to grab it, and came back waving at the zoo employee who was showing people to their seats. Sometimes I have to remind her I don’t need an additional parent, but then she’s a great help to me at the same time. She and Tatum play together a LOT, and she has a special place for Bennett–helping her out and trying to carry her around (she’s 30 pounds!) She’s learning so fast–reading things we haven’t even touched in phonics! She is THE big sister, and enjoys that role.

Kenna has become very much a mama’s girl the past couple of weeks. Maybe it’s a phase, because my once “jump first, think later” wild one now has a meltdown if I leave her sight. Heaven forbid I run an errand without her. That’s ok, I think this phase might be fleeting so I’ll take it. She is learning to play with Bennett, and it’s becoming more common to hear them squealing with laughter together. She is very much about HER space, though. HER shelves. HER bed. HER toys. I get it, it’s got to be hard to have a big sister who gets a loft bed and shelf far above the reaches of the baby, and here you have to put up with the meddling on the ground floor. She is ridiculously adorable. When I took her hair down from these buns she looked in the mirror and giggled, “Mama, my hair is wiggly!” It’s a good thing she’s so cute, so that when she calls from her bed at 11 pm that she has to go potty, and afterwards pipes “Pank you!” as she skips to bed your heart skips with her.

My Bennett Rae–Bennie Boo at the moment (her nicknames change a lot).  She is also going through an attached-to-mama-at-the-hip phase. This morning when Matt asked if she wanted eggs she said yes so he cooked them up, but when it came time to leave my lap to eat she wouldn’t have any of it. She loves to be sung “Bye-o Bye-o Baby” and if I don’t sing it she will–and pat me with her chubby little hands. She is obsessed with Roy and Peek (the cat) and pretty much any animal. She fell in love with a full page picture of a bison in a Backpacker magazine, and I accidentally said “buffalo” first and then corrected it to “bison.” Well, BUFF-a-whoa it is and she loves them. Today we got to see them up close and personal at the zoo, and I bought a hat with the outline of a bison on it…it’s now an ongoing war between me saying “bison” and Matt saying “buffalo” and so far he’s winning. Bennie is fiercely independent, want to do everything her sissies do, and is a world of toddler contradictions wrapped up in ridiculous cheeks and cuteness.

These girls, they are more challenging and stretching than I could have ever imagined. More exhausting and repeating (oh my gosh, the repeating) than I could have anticipated. But more fun and adorable than I know what to do with.

We headed to the zoo on the first warmer day all week–I’m all about there being no bad weather only bad clothing, but when it feels like it’s below zero we just don’t have the gear to play outside long in that. So all week we were only outside in short spurts and then headed inside to warm ourselves by the fire. So walking around outside for hours felt glorious.
We finally saw the elephant presentation, too! We’ve been coming to the zoo since Tatum was a baby and have never made it to one! I love elephants, and so do the girls…so imagine my surprise when they were far more interested in snack time and asking when we could walk through the big cat forest than actually watching the elephants 10 feet in front of them. After asking repeatedly “Anyone want to get a picture with the elephants?” I gave up and got one of myself, because I could have sat there and watched them all day!The Oklahoma Zoo (and Edmond in general) have a ton of bronze statues throughout, and the girls always love climbing on them if they’re not too hot. Tatum hopped right up on the goose but Kenna…well…she was a little fearful after I put her up there.

My middle girl also seems to be a bit sensitive to smells–note the nose holding? Yeah, she did that a lot. Here we’re just looking at a caracal–a type of cat–not exactly stinky monkeys.

Last stop was the children’s area petting zoo. Fun fact–the goats are all named after towns in Oklahoma! This is Dewey, and we learned he is a glory hog, like to be up on the bench, and if you sit down he thinks he’s a lap goat and will snuggle right on up to you! I didn’t quite catch it, but he and Tatum were definitely having a snuggle fest!

And of course my animal-lover Bennie was in heaven. She thinks every animal is like her Roy and she can just get in their face and love on them, lay on their side, and basically OWN them. Even our outside cat, Peek, lets her treat him like this…yeah we might have to work on that. Thankfully these goats and sheep were pretty used to crazy toddlers and took it in stride.

Matt got home that afternoon from a trip to Portland, and brought the girls a board game book–with dice attached! They played a few rounds together for a fun family night.

The next day we wanted to get outside as a family and debated where to go…but sorry for the newsflash but Oklahoma in January is…brown. Every park or lake we talked about going to just didn’t seem worth the trip…so we headed back to the zoo! I have to say, watching your kids get really excited about an animal is pretty darn fun. Bennett loved the owls, the house mouse, the weasel that was running around like he had a touch of OCD, and of course the bison (BUFF-a-whoa!).

Tatum and Kenna got an up close view of a rattlesnake who was checking them out….

He followed their fingers and they played a game to see who he would follow the most.

Note Kenna’s nose holding…

And we got to look at the fur of a black bear up close as he hibernated. Bennett refuses to look at the camera…

It was so nice to be outside in the warm sunshine and cool wind, and even though there was a toddler meltdown on the way home it was totally worth it.

We may not be traveling just yet, but we have made it a priority to have more family adventures… Even if that’s just a trip to the local zoo.

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.