satine was on spring break a few weeks ago, so we had the pleasure of spending full days together as a family which was so great. having her at home all that time, and seeing she, navs and keats all playing together so well made me fantasize about homeschooling her so we could all be together all the time. it felt right.
but i digress.
it's always been part of our family rhythm to spend time daily outdoors. it drives me crazy if i know my kids have been stuck inside all day. so important to get the little ones -- and mom-- out of the house! sometimes it's to the local park we've been to a million times, and on certain days, the backyard is the perfect fix. but at least a couple times a week and more when i can, i like to amp up the 'adventure' and take the kids on a mini-trip that feels like an excursion. most adults love a road trip and visiting new locales. kids are no different. these don't have to be exotic trips-- just little, daily adventures right in your own city. whenever the children are acting out, i know it's time to get going! a change of scenery and fresh air does everybody a world of good.
living in an urban environment, it takes a bit of work to find outings that will give my kids a sense of adventure and exploration. museums and such are nice, and we do them often, but there is something unparallelled about the open-ended exploration of just being outside in nature. i long for deep woods and the smell of the earth. spring break was nice because we didn't have to juggle time constraints of two school drop offs and varying pick ups, so we were able to venture out a little further during the weekdays.
our latest jaunt was hiking to some waterfalls just outside of LA. i'd never been before but it had been on my to-do list for a while. it was a beautiful, wooded hike with lots of rocks and creeks. i was a bit rusty in taking the kids out by myself to places where N and K needed so much physical assistance: crossing creeks over the sometimes slippery wet rocks and climbing up and down large rocks/boulders. so my mom-guard was on high alert, but i knew we could do it with patience and just succumbing to the fact that i'd just have to get a little wet. i gave up on trying to stay dry by crossing the creek via stepping on rocks, and instead just walked through the shallow creek. Better wet tennies than to slip and fall while carrying the babes across.
once i figured that out i eased into the situation, and as i watched my kids traverse those trails, creeks and boulders, i realized how much they needed this. i realized how capable they were. how determined. how hungry. i guess my local hiking trails were not quite scratching their itches and i noted to make more of an effort to get out of my urban area and into some real childhood-worthy nature.
so i'd carry navia across the creek while satine, great big sis and helper that she is, stayed with keats on the other side. since he was the youngest and most likely to dart off i wanted to be sure he was with someone. navia would wait while i went back to help keats across. satine could cross on her own. the kids loved it. every time we came to another creek crossing they'd get extra excited and soon satine was choosing to step right into the creek herself.
not sure what is happening here but safe to say keats was very excited about his rocks. it should be noted, too, that prior to this trip he had yet to utter "rock," and he now feels compelled to vocally label every pebble. :)
pretty much right into the hike we found a spot to picnic, because SaNaKe is always starving (yes, i did just Brangelina my kids' names). then we'd walk for a bit more, jump off some rocks, ooh and ahh at the creek and waterfalls, and then we'd carry on some more. we saw three waterfalls but didn't make it to the BIG waterfall. i think we were about 10 minutes away, but at that point we'd already been walking for about 1 1/2 hours and the trail seemed to get a little treacherous for one adult and 3 littles, 2 of which were not very sure-footed. so we just plopped down and enjoyed throwing rocks into the creek and digging at the dirt like we didn't thave a care in the world.
it was pretty much a perfect day.
afterwards when i was driving back home, the kids were zonked out in that mouth-agape, drooling, hair-matted-to-their-flushed-cheeks kind of way that only a full day's play can give them... i felt contented.
my children were contented.
that's the gift of a day well spent.
*sorry for the photos. i'd wanted to take my 'big' camera but knew i couldn't manage that and the kids -- so these are just snaps from my phone... which died 5 minutes into the hike before we got to the creeks or waterfalls! but you'll get the idea. :)