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Purposeful parenting amid a world of sugar, screens and schedules.


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A Beautiful But Eventful Outing and How I Said YES…On Accident

Yesterday was a gorgeous day.  We went to a nearby wildlife refuge with some other homeschooling preschool families.  It was a fun time and a beautiful day full of sunshine and smiles.  But it was also a little crazy.

As I was driving there it occurred to me that I didn’t for sure know where I was going.  One of my downfalls is that I’m so used to knowing how to get everywhere that I sometimes forget to look up the little details and then I make a mistake and get lost.  It doesn’t happen often…which is probably why it happens at all!  I just normally don’t need any help.  It’s at those times though that I wish I had a smart phone.  I have an ipad but need wi-fi to use it. So it doesn’t do me much good on the road.

I remembered seeing signs for the refuge so I decided to just go for it and follow the signs.  It worked for the most part.  I would have been able to get there that way with no problems but it’s kind of a big place and I got a little lost trying to find the exact place I was supposed to meet my friends.  We made it there though!

IMG_0553When we first got there the first thing Big Sis asked to do was climb a tree.  I looked at the tree she was pointing at and said, “It’s not really a climbing tree…there aren’t any branches.  You won’t get very high…but sure.  Go play.”

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So I’m talking and taking pictures and then Big Sis says, “Look at me!”  She had climbed using the deep grooves in the bark of this big tree.  She wasn’t super high but she was quite a bit higher than I thought she’d be able to get.  I started walking over there to help her down because I could tell she would need it…and she fell.  She fell hard.  She was fine and there were no visible wounds other than a few scrapes but she didn’t want to walk and spent a lot of time in the double stroller with Little Bear.  Good thing I had it.

But she felt better pretty quickly and by the time we were stopped for lunch she was running around with her friends and climbing more trees.

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My friend was just commenting to me how impressed she was that Big Sis had gotten over any fears she may have had and got right back into another tree.  I was agreeing as I heard, “Look Mommy!”

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All of the moms sitting there chatting looked up to see Big Sis really high in a big tree and clearly thinking about going higher.  In the picture above the bird feeder is about level with my head so she’s pretty high.  I enthusiastically told her how awesome it was, took her picture, told her not to go any higher, and started talking with her about how whenever we climb UP we need to have a plan about how to get DOWN.  Had she thought about how she was going to get down?  That made her a little nervous.

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We checked the visitor center to see if they had a ladder.  They didn’t.  So all the adults circled around where she was and I climbed up as much as I could.  But again, she had climbed a tree without many branches by putting her tiny hands and feet into the grooves of the bark and that was not going to work for me.  So I reached as far as I could and talked her down.  She didn’t have to go too far before I was able to reach her feet and was able to help her climb down by supporting her feet.  Once she was at a safe distance from the ground she did the rest on her own.

She told me next time she wants to get down all by herself.

Next time?

She might give this mama a heart attack….haha

Big Sis thought it was so awesome.  She kept telling me how proud of herself she was and how she wants to do it again.  I admit that her independence and bravery…traits I want her to have….are starting to scare me.  I don’t want my own fears to hold her back so I am going to try to find a balance.  Letting her do things but in ways that are safe.  I haven’t made any set rules yet but I’m thinking no climbing trees unless she asks…and no climbing past a certain point without me right there with her.  At least until she’s older.

Do your kids do risky things like this?  What are your rules?  How do you balance their freedom to challenge themselves, explore the world and try new things…with the fear every mom has for their child’s safety?

Thanks for reading!

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Children in Nature: Disc Golf

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Disc golf, folf, frolf….whatever you want to call it (although my husband would like everyone to know that disc golf is the correct term. haha)….is one of my husband’s favorite things to do.  I really enjoy it a lot too but I don’t love it the way he does.  Before we had kids we used to go all the time.  With kids it is a lot harder but still a lot of fun.

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When super pregnant, I don’t really love climbing up and down the hills at our favorite course.  It really depends on the course, what kind of shape you are in, and how much you want to do it!  I went folfing when I was really pregnant during my first two pregnancies, but not this one.  I went when I was a little pregnant, but now that I’m huge and close to the end AND I have two little ones to wrangle, it’s just not going to happen.  hehe

Folfing with a newborn is pretty impossible.  I tried taking Little Sis when she was a month old.  I had her in the Ergo and tried to folf with her on my stomach.  You just can’t get the power you need for a good drive with a baby on you like that!  But I walked around while my husband and friend folfed and it was a nice walk and some good exercise.
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When they are old enough to go in a baby carrier on your back such as a Kelty, it becomes more possible.  It is a lot of work though.  Again, it would be difficult to have a successful drive with a baby on your back, so every time we get to a new hole, we have to put the carrier down.  Not only is it challenging to carry the baby up and down the hills (depending on the course) but you also are lifting the baby up and down, up and down onto your back.  My husband is always the one to do it though so I still really enjoy going!  hehe

The times that it is the easiest physically is once they are able to walk the course themselves, and of course this is when it starts to get really fun for them.  Rocks, sticks, dirt, discs and disc golf baskets…what fun!  You still will probably have to carry them up and down hills or at times that they are just being too slow and you have people behind you, but it’s fun for them to walk and explore the terrain and try to be like you and get their disc in the basket.

 

This photo is actually of our backyard. I haven’t taken any photos of our kids folfing lately. But this is more what it is like now that both kids are older- walking around and trying to get their discs in the basket.

Disc Golfing with Young Children TIPS:

  • Find an easy course or a way to just do half a course.  Between the kids walking slowly and us getting tired from having to carry them, we only ever do about half the course.  It works well where we live because the holes 3 and 13 are right next to each other.  We just skip 4-12 and jump onto 13 from 3.  This way we also do the half of the course that is more shaded and has fewer hills to climb up and down.
  • Give the kids some cheap or unwanted discs.  They will enjoy throwing them around and trying to get them into baskets but it’s not a big deal if they end up losing them.  Because they can’t throw far, the risk of losing them is low, but there’s always a risk.  And who knows, maybe they’ll just leave it somewhere and you’ll realize at some point they no longer have it and they have no idea how to tell you where it is!
  • Look into your town’s Parks and Rec programs or see if your town has a disc golf club.  There might be some fun folf programs designed specifically for children.  We have something in our town that we just found out about and didn’t get a chance to participate in this year, but they set up disc golf baskets at different parks each week and families go down and play together.  They also have junior leagues for older children.
  • My husband says that in order to really enjoy our experience together, he has to not think of it as a night of disc golf.  Between not getting to do the whole course and wrangling children, it could be a frustrating experience for an avid disc golfer.  But if you change your expectations and concentrate more on the family time, nature, and the learning experience for the kids, you’ll have a great time!
  • Haven’t done much folfing?  Try websites like this one or this one to find a course near you!  It will usually show you a map of the course as well, which is really helpful.  Knowing which way to go next can be really tricky.

Happy disc golfing!  Thanks for reading 🙂 

 


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Children in Nature: Backyard Camping

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My family just loves to camp.  But sadly, between birthdays, baby showers, weddings, and all the other things that go on in the summer, we don’t always have the time to drive out to a beautiful spot to go camping and really hang out to enjoy it.  Camping in the backyard is a fun option if the kids just want to get outside and sleep in a tent.  Granted, it is not nearly as awesome.  Neighbors might be loud or have lights on.  Cat fights or dogs barking could interrupt your sleep.  And, well, you’re not in the middle of nowhere by a peaceful lake so that’s a bummer.  But it can still be a ton of fun and packing for the “trip” couldn’t be easier!  😉

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In order to enjoy the camping experience, we closed the house door and tried to stayed outside for the evening, other than to get ready for bed or use the bathroom.  We had a campfire and roasted hot dogs for dinner.  The kids played in the tent a bunch and we brought out some games.  We actually didn’t put the nix on technology the entire night- thought it would be fun once it was dark to watch a movie in the tent so we watched Brother Bear on Netflix on the ipad.  Sort of camping themed 😉

We had a really good time although the girls stayed up really late giggling and climbing on each other.  I had to threaten them several times that we would go back inside if they didn’t quiet down and go to sleep! Big Sis had been asking and asking to camp in the backyard so she was super happy and both of the girls had a lot of fun in the tent.  That was really all we did this time because we had a lot of other things to do that weekend.  But we’ve done it in the past and took some time to do other camping things- like cook breakfast on the fire and go on a short nearby hike and have a picnic lunch by the river.
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I think backyard camping is a great option if you…

  • aren’t quite ready to try real camping with little ones
  • don’t have the time to pack up and drive somewhere and enjoy camping out in the boonies
  • if you have older kids who want to camp out by themselves and you’d like to stay in your nice comfy bed

What about your family?  Have you camped in your backyard?  Why did you decide to do it?  What made it fun?

Thanks for reading!


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Children in Nature: Playing in Rivers and Creeks

One really cheap (free) activity we LOVE to do in the summer is visit creeks/rivers.  If you live near a river or creek, there are hopefully some nice slow/shallow spots to wade in.  Parks with creeks, hiking trails that follow creeks, or fishing accesses are some great places to find these spots.  Where we live there are spots like these all over the place!  But we wouldn’t know that they were there if we didn’t stop to explore.

Exploring rivers and creeks

This is a fishing access that is sort of a rest stop/picnic area/point of interest off the highway near our house. A ten minute drive and we have the perfect place to swim. And rarely is anyone else ever there!

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This one is actually quite a drive and you have to hike a bit to get there. It’s not somewhere we can just decide to go to on any given afternoon. But I wanted to include it because…how FUN is this?! A natural water slide? I love coming here and wish we could do it more often.

Fishing Access

This is a fishing access near our old house and within walking distance to one of our friend’s houses. It was so close but kind of back on some country roads and not a lot of people think to go back there.

A popular swim spot on the river

This is kind of happening spot, just off a main road in our old town, within biking distance of our old house. It had a nice sandy beach and was calm and shallow for the girls. Really fun to bike to. But smelled fishy and wasn’t as nice as other places…maybe because more people visited this spot.

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These last three pictures are of one of my favorite spots ever.  It’s a park with a creek that runs through it.  There are different trails you can go on- paved for bikers or nature trails that stay closer to the creek- and there are a lot of places to stop and wade and play.

Have you explored parks and trails and fishing accesses in your area?  If not, go do it!  Do it now!  😉 

 

 


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Nature Walks

Today’s Children in Nature spotlight: nature walks!

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I love to hike…short hikes (like 8 miles round trip max!)   I love wandering through trees next to a river or creek and ending at a lake or waterfall and spending time enjoying that destination.  When we had just one kid we still hiked a lot because my husband would carry Big Sis and I would carry a backpack with lunch, etc.  But with two kids it’s a lot harder.  I can’t hike as far with a kid on my back.  I am definitely a wimp when it comes to carrying things.  My neck and shoulders get sore even when we’re just walking around for a long time and I’m carrying a purse or something light.  So right now our best option are nature walks.

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Nature walks are different for us depending on the day and place.  Sometimes we bring a stroller- I have a two seater bike trailer that turns into a pretty good nature trail stroller and it’s fun because the kids can sit next to each other.  Sometimes I’ll bring the Ergo and let both girls walk until Little Sis is worn out and then I put her on my back.  Or sometimes we just take it easy the entire time and both kids just walk and explore and stop and pick up everything they see.  It can take us a very long time to go a very short distance!  🙂

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I have a hard time finding things to do with other moms.  I tried MOPS but it wasn’t for me for a lot of reasons.  Random playdates are fun but it is so much work to get anyone to commit to a time and place and then people don’t show up…and then to have to do that over again the next time if you want to do it again.  One of my favorite things I’ve done as a stay at home mom are the weekly nature walks that I do with two of my close friends and their kids.  We invite other people and it is so fun to have them join us, but it’s nice to have the core group of friends to count on to meet up to walk regularly.  In that group the ages of the kids range from one to nine.  You might think that the older kids get bored going at the pace of the toddlers, but they seem to enjoy it.  They’ll run ahead and run back and stop to explore something or to play in some water.  Sometimes they’ll even carry or hold hands or push a stroller with a little one.  It’s a lot of fun.  We are all pregnant and the first of us just had her baby so we might miss some weeks, but  hopefully we keep it going because it is so much fun for everyone…kids and parents alike.

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Thanks for reading 🙂


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Camping In the Rain

I hope you all had a fantastic father’s day.  This year we went camping with some friends who have decided to start a father’s day camping trip tradition.  It was our first camping trip of the year and we were all super excited, despite the fact that the weather forecast predicted quite a bit of rain.  We brought lots of tarps and lowered our expectations for sunshine and swimming.

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We had a great time with our friends…exploring nature, sitting around the campfire, playing board games under the tarp, throwing rocks in the lake, and making delicious campfire food.

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I have to say though, despite how easy I might have made camping with small children sound in some of my previous posts, this was not an easy camping trip!   It was still super fun and I’d do it again, but it was not easy.

I should have packed twice as many clothes as I did.  Big Sis didn’t make it to the potty on time TWICE, which I just did not anticipate…she has not had an accident in a long time.  Then with getting wet in the lake and getting sticky with marshmallows and getting muddy just by falling or sitting or playing around the campfire, we really did not have enough clothes for them, so I found myself saying “no” a lot more than I would have liked in order to keep they warm and dry.  Shoes were a problem too.  Even though I had the tennis-shoes next to the door at home, they never made it into the van so we only had our keens.  Keens are fantastic but when they got wet, which was inevitable on this trip, they stayed wet for a long time.  The girls didn’t seem to mind, but I worried about their cold, wet feet.  Next time…pack twice as many clothes as I think I’ll need and remember multiple shoes!

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I’ve mentioned before that Little Sis is very strong willed.  This was our first camping trip with her as a sort of “big kid.”  Last summer she was mostly crawling, just starting to walk, and she was pretty easy to manage.  But this year it was challenging to balance trying to give her some freedom to wander around and explore, but stay within our limits.  We were constantly having to take off after her as she ran somewhere she wasn’t supposed to go, after we had just asked her to come back.  By the end of the camping trip she was starting to listen more often, sometimes without us even having to tell her to.  She would reach the “getting too far, please come back” point and look up to see if we were watching her and then casually bend down to pick up something and would head back toward us.  It was a lot of work and I can see how some parents might choose not to go to the trouble of dealing with it and just not go camping because it’s too hard (I admit that it’s tempting!) but the challenge is definitely worth it to me.  I remind myself that I want my kids to experience camping and I want them to learn to listen, even when it’s so fun for them not to!  I think the more we do it, the easier it will get.

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I am getting pretty pregnant.  At this stage of pregnancy with my first, I was still tiny and “cute pregnant.”  But with my third, I feel like a giant and am not surprised at all when people ask me if I’m due soon.  Camping while pregnant is not a big deal at all until the night comes.  Sleeping is always the worst part of pregnancy for me.  It actually wasn’t too bad the first night we were there.  I was thirsty because I didn’t want to have to get up in the cold night to go to the bathroom, haha, but it wasn’t too bad.  The second night though my body decided to start having symptoms that I haven’t had yet this pregnancy, so that made the night pretty rough.  Heart burn, leg cramps, and some difficulty breathing while laying down (not sure about that last part…maybe because of sleeping on an air mattress…maybe because of the cold damp air?).  But it was worth it to me.  Snow can be fun, fall and spring are lovely, but summer…camping/hiking/swimming season…is my favorite of all.  And, you know, day trips are awesome, but I just love sleeping in a tent.  When I was in college I rented a house with some friends and they all left for the summer so I was there alone.  I didn’t want to go camping by myself so I set up my tent in the backyard and I camped out there rain or shine for at least a month!  I loved it.  Of course I caused a tent-shaped brown spot in my yard.  Whoops.  Anyway, pregnancy can make camping rough, but my love of sleeping in tents, especially now, snuggled up with two beautiful girls and my sweet husband, is too deep to give in and not go!  We are going camping again in a couple weeks and I’m going to try to remember to drink more water during the day, bring something for the heart burn, and do plenty of yoga  🙂  It really helps me to sleep.

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I’m so glad we got to camp and had such a great time with our friends despite the challenges of rain, lack of warm dry clothes and shoes, a crazy disobedient toddler, and pregnancy challenges 🙂  I am looking forward to going again in a few weeks.  Hopefully it will be warmer.  I think that will make a big difference.

Do you have any Father’s Day traditions?  Have you gone camping yet this year?  How did it go?

Thanks for reading!


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I Said Yes to Picking Flowers on a Nature Walk

This might be a no-brainer to most of you.  (That’s why I like hearing so many different kinds of I Said YES stories from all of you!)  But as a kid I became somewhat of an environmentalist…passionate about conservation and keeping nature beautiful for years to come.  My mom and I refused to buy gas from places that had been responsible for big oil spills and not done a very good job at cleaning up after themselves.  We spent as much time as possible camping and hiking and hanging out outside.  I would play with sticks and collect rocks and even make little “dams” in the streams, but one thing I almost never did was pick flowers.  I knew that once a flower was picked it would die.  And I wanted them to be there for other people to enjoy.  When I was in high school I was camping with some friends and I actually remember this really sweet guy picking me some wild flowers and instead of taking them and saying thank you and giving him a winning smile, I told him my thoughts on how we should not pick wild flowers.  hehe  I’m lucky I ever got married.  😉

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Since then, I have learned to relax on this topic…although I still believe in respecting our surroundings and leaving things for others to enjoy later.  But I want my children to LOVE nature, to enjoy it and truly experience it with all of their senses.  One or two flowers out of a whole bunch of flowers being picked are not going to hurt anything and the joy it brings to my daughters is HUGE.  Not only does she love picking them and enjoying their beauty, but she loves giving them to people and seeing the joy on their faces when they see the pretty flower.

So now I SAY YES when my kids ask to pick some flowers.

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I liked THIS article that I found on pinterest and the article that she linked to.  “Leave-no-trace can wait. For now, throw rocks, pick flowers, be wild.”  You can see why it caught my eye.  Check it out and let me know what you think.

I was thinking about it and it’s like buying a child a china tea set and telling them they can only look at it.  Toys are meant to be played with.  This beautiful world was meant to be lived in…to be experienced…to be enjoyed.  I love getting off the trail to find the perfect “thinking spot” by a creek or a cool rock to climb or the perfect swimming hole.  I don’t know that I’d love nature as much if I hadn’t been allowed to explore it and really enjoy it.  That being said, (warning…rabbit trail…) I don’t condone just anything in the name of enjoyment.  If you’re going to drink beer as you float the river (I’ve always questioned the cleverness of this choice…hanging out in a place where there’s a slight chance of drowning and doing it while intoxicated…) I sure hope you make sure to get all of your beer cans out of the water.  And on and on.  You know what I mean 😉  I don’t think this is only applicable to nature, although it might have a more negative affect in nature.  We should just all be respectful and clean up after ourselves and be nice to the things around us.

We veered off the flower picking topic a bit and the I Said YES post (and sort of turned into a Children in Nature post), but the blog post I linked too was related and had gotten me thinking 🙂

 

Do you have an I Said YES story to share?  Let me know and you could be the next one featured in my blog.