Sam said to me today, while we were talking about how Vivi was born two years ago today, "Isn't it amazing how she's grown?" Ha, I love it when little kids say grown up things. We celebrated at home, just the four of us. I have to say, I think it was one of our most perfect birthdays yet.
What is childhood without a little magic? I'm all about believing. In fact, if you asked me now, I'd tell you I believe in little people and unicorns. Don't laugh. It's just that it's more fun than not believing. Long after I found out about Santa's Helpers (a.k.a. my parents), I still liked to believe in Santa, because where's the fun in being all factual? I want my kids to have believing hearts as well, and recently I lent a little help to that belief...
These sunny days have gotten me SO excited to be outside on a regular basis. Isn't it amazing how a little sunlight and fresh air can lift your spirits? I love the way the kids' hair smells after they've been playing outside, like sunshine and grass and leaves. I checked out a few books at the library about things to do with your kids outside. Of course, just being outside is usually enough. Kids will find plenty to do. But, I thought it would be nice for me to have some activities in mind to inspire ME to get out the door and into the green. Particularly because we live in an urban area I sometimes feel less than inspired to get outside, but after perusing these books I've got a whole list of fun ideas. The last book is my favorite:)
We're all missing the easy days of summer here when I could just send Sam out into the backyard for hours on end. His outdoor time has shortened considerably; it's about equal to the time it takes me to bundle him up and get him ready to head out! Before long he's chilly and back inside, ready for some indoor play. We've had to get a little creative with our indoor activities. Yesterday's was a big hit though. It involved using an entire spool of thread, but it was so worth it. And the clean up wasn't nearly as bad as it looks. After snipping in a few crucial places all the thread easily gathered into a ball.
Sam's been in a spider phase and has been wearing the costume his dad made each and every day and only taking it off for bed and meals (the extra legs get in the way of eating). I suggested that he might like to spin a web like a real spider and he immediately lit up at the idea.
It was so great because it didn't require him to follow any particular pattern or anything to make it look awesome. We just set up some chairs opposite the piano and the leg of a plant stand and he wove back and forth, over and under, back and forth until, before long, he had himself a very impressive web. So effective, in fact, that he tangled himself in it several times. I loved watching him concentrate and seeing him learn as he went, trying first one way, then another.
Once the web was complete Sam donned the costume again (he did have to remove it while making the web as he kept getting his own legs tangled in it!) and spent the afternoon trapping bugs and dreaming about being a spider.
It's been rather quiet around here. We spent a wonderful week at the cabin, away from everything, but family and good food. We bundled the kids to within an inch of their lives (we've got this great baby sleeping bag thing that we put Viv in and Sam was layer upon layer on felted wool and Gortex). Then we all piled onto the snow machines and loaded our gear into sleds and headed up to the cabin. The road to the cabin isn't plowed, so the last mile of the trip is either made by snowmobile or ski. I often think of pioneers and remember the descriptions in Little House on the Prairie of them bundling up in the sleigh. Although I love the novelty of having to carry everything in for that last mile, I'm certainly grateful for the warm car that drove us the other five hours of the trip!
The last couple weeks I've been thinking about time, energy, emotion, creativity, and how best to allocate those precious resources. My feeling is that I'm in a season where I want to devote a bit more of those things to my family and home, so you'll likely find me in this space a bit less often. Though I'll certainly be dropping in now and again.
I love the slow post-holiday pace of life. After the whirlwind of the Christmas season (no matter how simple we aim for, there's just no getting around the fact that there are so many loved ones to see, songs to sing, surprises to make and cookies to eat, yes?), it feels so good to simply hang around the house and just be. Be silly with my little ones, be creative in the kitchen (or maybe just stick to my old standbys!), be indulgent in a bubble bath with a good book...
Sam made Vivian a makeshift entertainment center by tying some of his toys to the underside of the table. And a mirror that I've been meaning to donate, but has been languishing by the front door, has turned into an impromtu easle. It's a good thing we didn't spend a lot on toys this year:)
Hope you're enjoying the slower pace of these short and cozy winter days too.
In my ongoing quest to find ways for Sam to be quiet in church, I hit upon an activity that gives us at least 20 minutes of sitting still and quiet. With an old shoelace and a handful of chunky beads Sam was his most reverent yet!
I used a little glue to make the stiff ends of the shoelace a bit longer, and therefore easier to poke through the beads. And we got some big glass beads with large holes and used an old play dough container to store them in. He was hooked from the get go.
I absolutely love seeing him concentrate like this, watching the wheels turn, seeing him try one way and then another until he figures something out. And watching those tiny fingers at work just squeezes my heart. What a big world it is that these little guys have to navigate! It must be nice to have an activity like this that causes them to be so focused and still.
This is the first string of beads he made; I love his colors. It reminds me of the ocean, which I miss dearly. I wonder if he remembers that he was born so close to the sea?
This is a fun post from Rachel at A Closet of Her Own. It reminded me of this post I did quite some time ago (I can't believe what a baby Sam is in that picture!). SimpleMom also did a great post about why you might want to actually let your kids get dirty. I'm all for it, as you can see in this photo (that's me several decades ago!)
“I want to touch the earth, I want to break it in my hands, I want to grow something wild and unruly,” croon the women of one of my favorite singing groups, The Dixie Chicks. I hum this song to myself often as I watch my young kids scooping up piles of dark earth, just for the fun of it.
One of my kids’ favorite activities is playing in the
dirt. They love it so much that we have
yet to actually landscape the section of our front yard specifically meant for
landscaping – that little island of dirt nestled between the driveway, the
sidewalk leading to the front door, and the house. We meant to fill it with bushes and flowers a
few years ago, but our little ones just had so much fun playing in it as we
landscaped the opposite side of the front yard that we just decided to leave
the dirt alone for the rest of that year.
And then the next. And then we got an awesome 8x8 feet, one-foot-deep sand-box in the back yard, with the intent of landscaping the remainder of the front yard once the kids had a nice replacement digging area. But although they do love the sandbox and play in it regularly, they still love to play in the front dirt-area even more. And so it remains.
Some days they haul the trucks out from the sandbox and do all sorts of construction projects and road building in the dirt. Other days, they mess around with the small pile of leftover bricks, stacking them or arranging them. Other times they pretend to plant gardens or put in landscaping.
But most days, they just prefer to dig in the dirt. We used to have a few kid-sized metal
garden-shovels but only one is still in working order, so my two kids take
turns with that and alternatively a snow shovel, which they like for smoothing
out the dirt. They also have some
smaller shovels and tools for digging, too.
They simply love making – and then moving – piles of dirt. And sometimes they just prefer to take turns
diving into the dirt – full body flops designed to make mom exclaim “You are
filthy from head to toe!”
For whatever reason, they love to connect with the dirt. I think that a large part of it is the chance to use their muscles. It is nice, hard work to dig down and scoop up and move around that dirt. I’ve noticed that in the winter months when we are more cooped up indoors, they love to simply move around furniture or toys. Just continuously move it around – they seem to need to keep their muscles in motion.
I also think that it feels genuine to them. They see their parents and other adults working in the yard, in the garden, in the dirt. When they dig in the dirt, they are participating in those activities, too.
And I think they just plain also like the feel of dirt. They like to break it in their hands and feel
the wild and unruly energy of the earth course into them. And so, I share their love of dirt with all
of you, in the hopes that you will be inspired to help your own little ones
find a plot of dirt (either at home or somewhere else) that they can dig their
hands into. It’s so much fun!
The other morning Sam and I met up with the rest of the learning co-op at Red Butte Garden for a field trip, wrapping up our month of nature lessons. I was surprised at how long we were able to spend meandering through the paths with a gaggle of little ones. They LOVED exploring the paths and plants. At the end we spent some time in the children's garden where they were able to get thoroughly soaked in the fountain, climb on enormous lizard statues and crawl inside vine-covered houses. It is a really magical place- for kids and grownups. Then, as if the day weren't lovely enough already, I dropped Sam off at his aunt's house and went and had the most blissful prenatal massage of my life! Ooh, just thinking about it makes me go all squishy and relaxed again... I had a few massages when I was pregnant with Sam, and they were good. I mean, it's hard to go wrong with a massage, especially when you're pregnant and achy. But this was in a whole separate category of its own. Rebecca Overson (remember her beautiful birth story?) has a peaceful little office just around the corner from my house where she works muscle magic. The thing that made her massage different is that I could just tell that she had been pregnant before. She just knew exactly where the sore spots were and how to work them out. Oh, and the coolest thing? I got to lay on my stomach! That alone was practically worth it. I havn't laid on my stomach for months, and it's one of those random things you miss. But she has these special adjustable pillows so you can lay all supported and face down.
I'm such a believer in taking time for Mom. I was so sweet to Sam and Clay after having a little pampering myself. And it doesn't always have to be something like going out and getting a massage (but sometimes, it does!), a quiet walk, half an hour with a book or in a bubble bath, these go a long way to restoring balanace and sanity and making me feel human again. But, if you're preggie right now, a few massages from someone who knows about pregnancy aches and pains, are just what the doctor ordered! And seriously, if you have a pregnant friend, forget the cute baby clothes, toys etc. Just get her a certificate for a prenatal massage. You will be her best friend! I think Rebecca even has a few specials going on right now, including a new client special. You can also get credit toward your own massage if you refer friends (doesn't everyone know at least have a dozen pregnant ladies?).
Awhile ago we had our good friend Steve take some family pictures. We wanted something a little funky, so we dressed up, got out some musical instruments and even incorporated Clay's old motorbike into a few. It's fun having a friend do the photos because you don't feel (too) silly doing offbeat stuff. Steve and his wife (who acted as his assistant) were so fun and easy to work with. They played music and made us feel nice and relaxed. I, in particular, tense up in front of a camera and do this goofy smile. But, he just kept clicking away until I finally relaxed and he was able to get a few good ones. He took the photo I use for my profile picture on the about page and various other places.
Unfortunately Sam was feeling a bit under the weather and declined to smile during the whole shoot. He just wanted to be held and make his cute, sad face. I still love the pictures of him though. In fact, we have so many pictures of Sam beaming (they're easy to get) that I kind of like having a few serious ones. I have plans to blow a few up really huge and frame them for the walls. Steve also does really amazing outdoor adventure-type photography, as well as family portraits and some commercial stuff (he also helped us with an ad for Ivory Bill). So, if you're local, or local-ish (it'd be worth the drive), look him up!
A week or two ago, Clay and Sam started building a bug box one day after work. It only got about halfway finished before it was time to come inside, so Clay ended up finishing (and redesigning) it as a birthday present. Of course, he can never make anything ordinary, so this one has more of a Gothic shaped peak on the ends and a little door set into rails that slides up. It's pretty rad. But, for those of us with less ambition, it would be so easy to just cut two "U" shaped pieces (or house shapes) and nail them onto the ends of a rectangle. You'd want to cut out a round hole in one first and you could just cut out another round piece of wood, slightly bigger than the hole, and nail it over the hole such that it could be swung in either direction to open the door. Then staple screen around the top. Ta-da! A bug box! I like it because Sam loves it, but also because it keeps the bugs a little safer from his eager fingers, although he is getting much better and being gentle and not squishing now.
We took the bug box (and the new wagon) out for a test run Sunday morning before church. We kept our eyes peeled for bugs and Sam looked fearlessly in all places, including reaching elbow deep into a hollow tree.
We found two Box Elder Beetles, his favorite, and saw some flying bugs that were too quick to catch. We even saw a bird's nest! After admiring them for awhile we let them go; Sam thought the shaking them out of the box part was quite exciting as well.
I love sharing and exploring with Sam. He's at an age where he teaches us just as much as we teach him. This hike he taught us not to be in a hurry:) We travel significantly slower when accompanied by a toddler on foot, but you know, I probably would've missed the bird's nest if I'd been cruising along at my regular pace.
I'm really trying to create a culture of celebration in our home that doesn't revolve around getting oodles of stuff. I think we did pretty well not going overboard with the presents this year, although Sam did still make out with quite a haul, I think! He's really good about examining and enjoying each present as he opens it, before moving on to the next. I think these presents could've been enough for two birthdays though! We'll try to simplify a bit more for next year...
Here's what his second birthday brought him: Three books about animals from the thrift store. I got "grown up" books, because he seems to enjoy them more. But paying upwards of $25 a book for the really nice ones, doesn't make a lot of sense when they're intended for someone who may or may not color on the pages.
A "shoot the moon" game made by his uncle Christopher.
Some wooden kitchen toys. These are the ones I accepted in exchange for a review. I must admit that we love the toys, though I don't think I'll do reviews for such big companies anymore. Not that this one did anything to inspire that, they were perfectly lovely, but my gut tells me I should support smaller shops. But we do certainly love these toys! Sam had so much fun pulling each one out of the brown paper packaging when they came in the mail (it was a slightly belated present, which I always kind of enjoy as they draw out the celebration). I cleared out a low cabinet for him in the kitchen so he would have his very own spot to store them in. So, far his favorite thing is "cutting" the fruits and veggies in half. They're stuck together with velcro and come with a little wooden knife. Plan Toys, the manufacturer, makes all their toys out of "green" material (rubberwood trees that haven't had fertilizer used on them) and the toys are chemical-free, with non-toxic dyes, which is very reassuring.
A boy from church who sometimes babysits Sam carved his name in woodshop (top). Isn't it rad? I'm going to hang it in his new room; we're doing a little room switcharoo soon due to Ms. Vivian's impending arrival. And at the party he got a whole bunch of wonderful, handmade cards. I requested no presents, but suggested that cards made by his friends would be much appreciated, and they were. Most of them came with toddler artwork and even a few portraits of Sam. One came with some photos of Sam and his friend from last fall that were so cute. I loved it, and Sam loves looking at them.
Some days I find myself dropping everything to become completely absorbed in a project. Although Sam is a little young for the creation of a felt board and figures, he loved the finished product. And he was perfectly happy to "work" alongside me with felt scraps and glue, constructing his own little project.
This felt-covered dining room table is about how my kitchen counters looked at the end of the day, only covered in dishes. But we created a wonderful board with all sorts of fun figures to stick on and rearrange. I love getting up to my elbows in a project.
I was hoping this would be a good quiet toy for church, and it works to some extent, but I found that I was worrying too much about all the little pieces getting scattered under the pews more than paying attentions to the speakers. And a few board books seems to keep him just as occupied. But for playing at home, it's perfect to pull out every now and again, letting him strew the pieces all over the floor and work out his own stories. I love eavesdropping as he keeps up a running dialogue of what he's creating.
All you need for a project like this is plenty of wool felt in various colors; scraps are just fine and this is actually a perfect way to use them up, craft glue and a piece of sturdy cardboard. Glue a piece of felt to the front of your cardboard and trim it to fit. Then go to town cutting out whatever your imagination comes up with! I just free-handed everything, but I bet you could find some cute images online and use them as templates if you were so inclined. And get creative about reusing your scraps and about what sorts of things you can make with very simple shapes. The snake was inspired by all the little green shards I made when creating the grass. They were perfect snake stripes! You could also make felt "paper dolls," cutting out clothing and various outfits. We later made a baby with removable diapers that Sam can "change" and we also made a little Sam with changeable clothes.
Some days I'm looking for anything, anything at all, to keep Sam busy. Luckily he's really quite good at focusing on one thing and actually has a pretty great attention span for an almost-two year old. So, with a little creativity, I can usually find something that will entertain him for maybe a solid twenty minutes. That's like a whole hour in mom time!
He really like tiny things, and things with lots of pieces, so he was thrilled when I dumped a bunch of beans and lentils in various lids and let him glue them onto paper. Turns out he wasn't so good at squeezing the glue out, it takes some serious hand strength. So, I squiggled glue all over the paper and let him go at it with the beans. He was so meticulous and concentrated. I love seeing him experience new things, and the dedication and focus that he gives projects.
Even though the point was to give me a few minutes peace while he worked on a project, the piles of beans and adorable little guy were too appealing to walk away from. So, I stayed and watched him create his art, bean by bean, even adding a few of my own. I love that he's getting old enough for projects I enjoy as well. Not that I'd make bean art myself, given a block of free time, but it's still fun to get down on my knees next to him and share in the creative process.
Sometimes the thrifting gods are just on your side. I was complaining to Clay that I wanted to get Sam an easel, but I couldn't find any solid wooden ones for less than $60. "I think I saw one at D.I." he said. So, we hurried over there, and lo and behold, it was still there! That, in and of itself, was a miracle of a semi-religious nature. The thrifting golden rule is "Buy it When You See it!" But it was still there a couple days later and we happily snatched it up.
With a little soap and water I was able to removed the old paint and marker stains and get it looking brand new. Of course, Sam quickly decorated it with his own marker and paint splotches. But, I like the looks of his much better than the other ones. It's a really sturdy one, the kind you'd find in a school, that can stand up to lots of wear and tear. I was so thrilled to find it!
Sam has been equally enthusiastic about using it several times a day. It thrills me to see him exploring color and texture, layering paint, trying new brush techniques, rejoicing at the cacophony of color he creates and telling me elaborate stories about what he's painting. The painting above is of a hippo splashing in the water; do you see it?
Naturally, we think Sam is quite gifted; we ooh and aah over each brush stroke and each completed masterpiece. But I'm already wondering, where will I put all these precious masterpieces... ?
Sam has been riding the vacuum for months now. Amy picked up these casters with the intention of making him a little toy to ride on. Like most projects we do, we get excited, gather all of the necessary materials... and six months later we finally find the time to make it! This project was no exception. There has been a small pause at work. Instead of making benches for the dining room table, which would have been the logical thing to work on, and instead of working on my beloved sauna, which sadly is still nowhere near ready to use, I picked this project and ran with it. The body is a big scrap of douglass fir. Fir smells really good when you cut into it and it is easy to shape. The seat and neck are made of cherry. I put it all together using wooden dowels and glue, except for the casters, which are screwed on. As far as fabricating a toy piece by piece like this, it went fairly quickly, except for the seat. I spent as long on the seat as on all of the rest of the parts combined. It has to be comfortable, you know? Sam seems to like it. He gets on an off of it frequently, looks at it, gets back on, Flintstone shuffles, stops, gets off and repeats the process. He even tried to surf it, but that got him in trouble with mom.
One of the things I do for my church is run an activity group for girls 8-12. Twice a month, another mom and I take turns hosting them at our house and organizing various activities. This month we're learning to sew!
Only three of the five girls came this week, which ended up being okay because, phew! it was busy! Those little girls were so excited; picking out their skirt fabric, twirling around the room in it, running their hands over the shiny sewing machines. It was all we could do to keep them focused on one step at a time!
But at each step they learned to slow down a bit and focus on the little things; spacing the needles carefully, threading the machine... Sewing was a little harder to slow down about; there's just something about the whirrrrrr of that motor that's just too exciting to go slow! One little girl just could not resist and as soon as I'd gotten it all threaded there was a Stomp! and WHIRRRR! as the machine went wild and sewed a big snarl. So, then we had a lesson on untangling the machine:)
It was really fun to see them so excited about learning to sew, enjoying the beautiful fabrics, planning their skirts, exploring the various sewing tools, bobbins and threads. Sewing brings me so much joy (when it's not bringing on tears of frustration!) that it's a treat to pass along the skill, or at least to plant some seeds...*We used the Lazy Days Skirt Pattern from Oliver + S (free on their blog). Hopefully we'll have some twirly skirts to show you in two weeks!
When my brother got home from his mission and was just kicking around at my parents' house for a few weeks, he spent some of those empty hours turning one of Sam's favorite books into a song. He played the initial acoustic version for Sam, and as you can see by the blur in the foreground, Sam got his groove on. He loves music and dancing AND his uncle Dan so the song was destined to be a hit.
When we returned to Utah and Dan was still in Maine he doctored the song up on the computer a bit and sent us a digital version. Sam is so enamored with the song that I have to be prepared to play it at least a dozen times when he requests it. Each time it ends he demands, "Again! Again!"
So here, for your listening pleasure is Pajama Time , lyrics by Sandra Boynton, music by Dan. Enjoy!
Remember last week I mentioned we had a surprise? Without further ado, let me introduce Masha and Alexander, the most charming paper dolls you've ever met, hand painted by the one and only Clayton Thompson!
He also made a little story book about Masha and Alexander, the two red-headed twins from the Ukraine.
Each one has three different outfits; play clothes, fancy clothes and a traditional Ukrainian outfit.
They're so completely charming and full of character; I'm in love. I'm thinking of framing the two sheets, the boy and the girl, to hang in Sam's room. They'd make such unique decorations for a kid's room.
We're selling them in the shop until December 15th if you'd like some in time to tuck into a Christmas stocking or two. You're welcome to order after then as well, but it won't make it in time for Christmas. Maybe we'll do a giveaway next week of a few sets just for fun; it is the season of giving after all!
In Maine winters the evenings grow darker much earlier and a warm, toasty fire is always in order.
The cozy evenings and all of us being together again inspired some favorite pastimes. Dan is somewhat of a musical genius (no sisterly bias whatsoever) and he played while the rest of us sang songs ranging from Peter Paul and Mary to the Beatles and eventually some Nirvana and Guns n' Roses. Clay does a mean Axl Rose.
There were card games and stories read aloud. We even played a little speed scrabble, my favorite!
Times seems to move a little slower in Maine. It takes me mere moments to adjust to the more relaxed pace, but days to get back into my normal schedule once home. It was nice to take a pause and just enjoy the simple comforts of home and time with the fam.
The sandbox was such a simple and satisfying project. While Sam was in the hospital Clay started framing in the fourth side of it, the only side that wasn't pre-existent from the shape of the patio and garage. He bought bags of regular sand and play sand. The project was all ready for Sam to come home and help!
Sam is in heaven when he can be outside, with his dad, and using tools; three of his very favorite things. I love these boys! I love seeing how much Sam adores and tries to emulate his dad, watching him swing his own tiny hammer, listening to Clay sing silly songs for Sam, and watching them light up when they see each other.
Because it's a bit cheaper, Clay got 2/3 regular sand. The play sand he used for the top layer because it's not as dusty and messy.
You know, you really don't even need a walled off "box" to make a sand
box. My best friend's family growing up had a sand pile under an apple
tree in their yard and we spend hours out there, rain or shine. Just a
spot to dig and build is all you need, a place to create your own
cities, castles or mud pies.
This was such a simple project and is already paying off in spades. No more digging in the flower beds by Sam, and he loves playing in the box, using his various tools to root around or just feeling the sand between his fingers. We covered it with an old screen (to keep out neighborhood kitties) that was the perfect size. Perhaps at some point we'll come up with a fancier solution, or at least put the screen on hinges with a latch. But for now it does the job just fine.
I didn't do anything special for Clay's 30th birthday last year, so this year for his 31st I decided to do something extra special. The theme of the party was, of course, Clayton. And so I asked everyone to dress like him from a certain year! We had baby Claytons in bald caps, middle school Claytons in acid-washed jeans, a boy scout Clayton, bearded Claytons, missionary Clayton, graduate Clayton, Halloween Clayton. It was hilarious!
We had a mini pizza bar; fun, easy to feed a crowd and little preparation on my part made it an appealing option. We put all the toppings in bowls on the table, turned on the broiler and let people go to town. In addition to the pizzas there were all kinds of pot luck goodies that people brought. Clay's aunt brought this fantastic massaman curry that I can't stop thinking about. And I splurged on a couple cases of San Pellegrino because it's my favorite and it's so festive.
I used the bunting I made for Sam's birthday. It was so great to be able to simply unroll this banner and hang it up. Voila! Instant party! I'm all about reusable decorations. We didn't make him wear the birthday hat though.
I also tried out this program where you can rasterize photos and print them to any size you want. I printed five HUGE pictures of Clay and enlisted his family to help me piece them together. Then we hung them around the house. It was a whole lot of bang for the buck; big impact, little cost and effort.
Everything went off without a hitch- except the cake. Clay had requested this cornmeal lavender peach upside down cake that I make. In my efficiency I decided to make the cake a day ahead, but neglected to think about the consequences of leaving it in the cast iron pan it was cooked in for 24 hours straight. All the ghosts of every past garlicy, curry, oniony meal I've every made seeped its way into that cake. Luckily I nibbled a bit first before dishing it out to 30+ people. It made a lovely table decoration. Clay's uncle Greg, the only one brave enough to taste it declared succintly, "That is not good!" He may have regretted his daring tastebuds. The chickens however have been thoroughly enjoying it. All in all it was a pretty great night for every, people, chickens and birthday boy.
Sam and I went on a beautiful fall hike with my friend Rachel and her dog Samson. I used to hike Stuarts Falls all the time when I was in college, but it's been quite a few years since I've ventured that way. It was just as beautiful and refreshing as I remembered.
This hike was extra special because I had the world's sweetest hiking companion. This was Sam's very first hike and he proved to be a natural. If this picture had sound you would hear him singing, "(h)iking, 'iking, 'iking..."
The leaves were just beginning to turn and you could smell that distinct, rich, woodsy dry leaf smell. I love that smell!
It had been so long since I'd been out hiking and I just felt joy at being outside in the elements. It was as if all my senses were heightened; the smells were richer, the colors brighter, the air fresher. I feel so lucky to live in such a beautiful area!
90% of this hike is perfect for toddlers. The path meanders through the woods, through aspen groves, up and down gentle hills and across fields scattered with boulders. Sam insisted on walking as much as possible. We did put him in the backpack for the beginning and end where it's steep. But otherwise he marched along, happy as can be.
He had his fair share of spills, but handled it like a regular tough guy. I barely had time to kiss the boo-boo before he was off again.
It has got to be so nourishing for the body and soul to be out of doors, feeling the dirt and the wind on your skin, discovering things great and small. Sam spotted birds, trees, rocks, flowers, dogs, horses, leaves, and bugs. Most of these things were touched, investigated and oftentimes tasted.
It's amazing what you notice when aided by a pair of fresh little eyes. I would've missed the mountain blue bird, the ancient whorls and knots in the trees and the intricate geometry of this flower if not for Sam and his enthusiastic exclamations. Thank goodness for eager hikers and an infinitely explorable world.