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Myself, Roxy & Curtis at the trailhead

Time on the Mountain

Our long weekend was crazy! We had swimming, fundraisers, church, shopping, and parties to fill our time, but Curtis and I managed to eek out a little date time alone on the mountain too.

As I mentioned in a previous post we’ve recently decided that we need to try and get out together a little more often so that we get a bit of a break and some much needed time alone together to reconnect.

Curtis took the lead this time and arranged for a sitter on Sunday afternoon. We decided we would go for a trail “run”.

Up Vedder Mountain we went.

I’ve been up there numerous times but I don’t think I’ve ever been all the way to the top. When you’re taking kids along you kind of go at their pace. Sometimes that pace is SLOW. It’s more about the journey then the destination.

When it’s two adults going things are a bit quicker. As I said Curtis and I were “running” which was really more like a fast hike, running sections here and there. We managed to make the 10km round trip in about an hour and a half. Slowed down mostly by the dog.

It was so fun to get out, enjoy something together that we seldom get to do alone, and chat.

I think Roxy enjoyed the trip too. She often gets overshadowed by the kids when we go as a family and our little hike probably felt a lot like the good ol’ days for her.

It was a little nostalgic for us too to be out together in the woods. We’ve always enjoyed being in the outdoors together so for us it feels a little like we’re getting back to our roots. We both feel most at rest when we’re outside and the conversation flows easily!

How about you? Did you manage to squeeze in a bit of time alone with your special someone this weekend? I hope so!

Date, What’s a Date?

Maybe you’ve been there maybe you haven’t, but that moment when you sit down next to your spouse and say “Hi my name is Cynthia, what’s yours?” should really never happen.

You know what I mean. You get busy – in the literal running around after kids, doing skating, preschool, doctors appointments, work, & friends kind of way.

All of a sudden you sit on the couch next to your spouse and you feel like you haven’t talked to them in months. You need to get to know each other again.

Curtis and I experienced this just a few weeks ago.

We were feeling lonely and disconnected from each other. We were starving for some time alone together out of our house without our kids or other people. We wanted to hang out.

We started talking about a date. We realized the last date we had planned was way back in early December and we had cancelled it because the kids were sick. We intended to reschedule over the holidays of course. Prior to that we couldn’t recall the last time we had been out together. It might have been October when my parents were here to visit. It was April. This needed to change.

We had to refresh our memories. We were unsure of what this thing society calls a date really was. We decided to redefine it.

We realized that what often deterred us from going out was cost. I’m not complaining I’m just stating the truth. When it came right down to it and it was time to put a date on the budget page we often chose to spend our money differently. We had a hard time justifying it.

It was time to re-prioritize.

It’s funny I always think of a date in the traditional as seen on TV kind of date – dinner, movie, some other extravagant event, evening, late nights etc. The reality of this is that I’m not a dinner and a movie kind of girl and he’s not a dinner and a movie kind of guy. If that’s what we want we can stay home and enjoy from the comfort of our couch.

When we actually talked about the things that we enjoy doing together, the best times we’ve had and when we’ve connected the best it’s always been when we’re outside.

Having this conversation was one of the best things we could have done because we realized that to us a “date” is a hiking trip, a run, a paddle, a bike ride or some other outdoor endeavour. None of those things cost us any more than the babysitters time.

All of a sudden a whole new world opened up to us.

So. We went out. Our first date in an unnamed amount of time was a bike ride. It was SOOOOOOOO GOOOOOOD! I can’t even express it.

Relaxing together doing something that we both enjoy was amazing. We tagged a coffee on to the end cause really, who can survive without coffee?! And we went home after 3 hours feeling reconnected and refreshed ready for anything the munchkins could throw at us.

That afternoon was such a good reminder to us that we need to make each other a priority. It’s so easy to brush each other off when other things come up but really we committed our lives to each other. When the kids are gone – and one day they will be – Curtis will still be here.

I don’t want to look up in 15-20 years and realize I have a roommate not a partner. That I am living with a stranger.

I want to be that couple who still loves each other dearly after 50 years. Still holds hands as we walk along the beach. Still proclaims that the other is our best friend.

Being that couple takes a lot of effort. To us it means prioritizing the other. Not pushing each other off when something else comes up. The best thing we can do for each other and for our kids is work at our relationship. Make our marriage a priority. For us right now, that means dating. For you maybe it’s something else.

So, we date. Next weekend we’re going on a trail run. I can’t wait!

 

Vedder Mountain – “The First Hole”

We’ve been itching to get out for a while but winter has been surprisingly busy, and add a few colds/illnesses into it and we just haven’t been able to get out much.

 

Last weekend we finally had a little break in the busyness of this life and made a point of getting out. E has been asking for a while if we can go up Vedder Mountain. Curtis has told her how pretty the views are from the lookouts and the top and she needed her curiosity satisfied.

 

E & I early in the journey

E & I early in the journey

Sunday morning we packed everything up into the car, dog included, went to church, then headed into the hills. It was raining a little but what’s a bit of rain? The kids certainly don’t care so why should we?

 

It’s funny because for as busy as Vedder is with mountain bikers and dirt bikers the hiking trail is very quiet. I’ve been up there a few times, and Curtis makes a fairly regular trip up and we have yet to encounter other hikers.

 

We knew at the outset that we wouldn’t make it too far as we had only the afternoon hours to our disposal and we wanted to be home in time for dinner, baths and the many other things that occupy a young family’s evening on a weeknight. Our goal was to make it to the first lookout, or the “first hole” as E would call it.

 

We’ve all taken a bit of a hiatus from our outdoor pursuits this winter, between sick kids and weekend commitments it’s been hard to fit it in, and the few times we’ve been out I’ve had a really hard time keeping L warm regardless of how I bundle her. This trip was no different except that it was dry enough for her to walk a bit, and so my baby took her inaugural hiking steps. Hopefully there will be many more to come 🙂

 

Baby's first hiking steps

Baby’s first hiking steps

I thought the weather was warm enough that with some layering she would stay cozy in our Osprey Poco Premium baby carrier, and while her body stayed nice and toasty her little hands and feet got quite cold. Her absolute refusal to wear mitts doesn’t help with this either.  She didn’t complain (she never does, she has blessed us hugely by always being a happy baby) but it is a constant concern to this Mama when I think my baby is cold.

 

Despite the rain, and worries that L was too cold the hike was lovely and did us all well.  I love this hike because although it’s not full of gorgeous mountain vistas the forest is BEAUTIFUL, and the well placed lookouts are rewarding.

 

The forest feels like an enchanted forest that you’d read about in a fairy tale. Lush, thick, the trees and ground are covered in rich green moss, and it feels like you should be watching fairies dance amid the trees as you trek along.

 

Enjoying the Enchanted Forest

Enjoying the Enchanted Forest

We reached our goal of the First Hole, enjoyed a snack and a beautiful view of the Valley that we live in and headed back down hill.

Family Snack Time! Even Roxy was in there sneaking stray cheerios and apple bits ;)

Family Snack Time! Even Roxy was in there sneaking stray cheerios and apple bits 😉

To keep our hike down interesting I spent the first bit of it running from trail marker to trail marker and completing whatever challenge E named when we got there – burpees, push ups, jumping jacks, high knees, etc. This was great fun for everyone and we all laughed quite hard at my efforts on the uneven trail. It would have been an awesome exercise all the way down if the dang trail markers weren’t about every 30 feet. I had soon completed as many challenges as I could and we were seeking alternate entertainment.

 

The feeling of  walking through and enchanted forest served us well the rest of the way down as the grumbles set in. We spent the remainder of the hike looking for “fairy houses” (read neat little nooks and cranny’s at the base of trees and other such places where a small little fairy might make a cozy dwelling place). This actually served as an excellent form of entertainment and put an instant end to the grumbling. I need to remember this trick for the future and use it again :).

Curtis & Kids enjoying the day

Curtis & Kids enjoying the day

All in all we had an awesome time and all came home talking about when we could go out again. I’ve broken down and ordered another bunting suit to hopefully succeed in keeping L warm on future trips this spring and our family will continue on this crazy journey of being active and outdoorsy with our kids. A true love of the outdoors is one of the most important things that I hope to teach our little ones as they grow.

Retiring our beloved teapot on the trail - a local tradition on this hike

Fun with Friends!

We had SO MUCH FUN with friends today. This has been the best days of summer so far and I hope there are many more like it to come!

Summer has been a bit slow starting for us we’ve been having a hard time finding a good groove. It seems that we keep missing friends, or they’re away, or we’re committed to something else.

Today I think we found our groove.  I sent a friend a text last week asking if she wanted to go for a hike up a local hill that’s very kid friendly and hit the beach afterwards.

Retiring our beloved teapot on the trail - a local tradition on this hike

Retiring our beloved teapot on the trail – a local tradition on this hike

Last summer we went hiking and/or to the beach with her and her kids at least once a week, but life changes and thus far this summer we just haven’t been able to swing it.

Today we had the joy of hiking with her and her kids in the morning. It was a “short” hike but so good for our kids to all be together again. (The distance isn’t far but when you have three littles walking and one being carried time and distance don’t necessarily correspond.)

E falls in the middle of her two littles and LOVES her older daughter – like idol status. She was SO excited to get to run alongside her friend and try to keep up. Plus she had a new backpack that she’s breaking in for a hiking trip later in the summer with Daddy.  L slept or coo’d happily in the baby carrier all the way and all the littles did great.

 

E and her friend

E and her friend

After our hike we all headed to the beach to meet another friend and her kids for the afternoon.  Between the three of us there were eight kids at the beach. Everyone played well together and it was one of those days that you’re loathe to see end. Seriously none of us wanted to pack up and go home.

E made a major accomplishment today, she figured out the basic technique of swimming. This is HUGE for her. While she’s never been shy about the splash pad, pools and especially beaches make her VERY nervous. She’s been in the same FIRST level at swimming lessons ALL WINTER. She loves going but is timid and rarely lets go of her instructor.

We’ve been at the beach two other times so far this summer, the first she didn’t go in past her knees. Then she was holding my hand and SCREAMING (I forced her in to wash the sand off before leaving. I know I’m a horrible mother).

Last week when we were there as a family she wouldn’t go in unless one of us was holding her, and refused to go further than chest deep water. She did eventually relax and at least enjoy it.

I didn’t expect her to embrace swimming so soon after the last two trips. I figured we were in for another summer of playing in the and by the shore in ankle deep water (this is FINE with me, I just want her to be safe and comfortable around water not necessarily an all star swimmer).

Today right away she wanted me to take her in.

SWIMMING! I know it's shallow but I promise she wasn't pushing off the bottom :)

SWIMMING! I know it’s shallow but I promise she wasn’t pushing off the bottom 🙂

Maybe it was seeing her friends jumping off the dock and swimming around on their own. Maybe it’s the crazy heat wave we’ve been having. Maybe it’s the frequency of swimming right now (lessons once a week and at least one trip a week to the beach) or a combination of the three. Who knows.

If I know anything about my girl it’s that she’ll DO IT when SHE wants to. Not one second before and no time later than she decides is ok either.

Today she actually held my shoulders and let me swim her out to the end of the dock. She also let me hold her in the swimming position in shallow water. I was impressed just by those things.

It’s like it just clicked for her. All of a sudden she understood how she should be positioned and how she needed to move her arms and legs. I had to go in to shore to feed L, but she still wanted to swim. So in knee deep water she figured it out. SO FUN.

It was so fun to watch because she would swim the length of the swimming area in knee deep water, then get out, run back to where she started and do it again. It never occurred to her that she could turn around and swim back.

She repeated the cycle for about an hour and a half and I had to pry her out of the water to go home. She was so proud of herself, and I am a proud mama tonight too. I love that kid!

Best things ever today: her contagious giggles as she RAN down the hiking trail after her friends, and the equally elated giggling that came with figuring out how to swim.

We ended our day today by taking Curtis to the garden we’ve been “keeping” at a friends place. – I say this very loosely because I have a hard time growing grass in our yard, and tonight I realized that I can no longer distinguish some of the weeds from the plants that are supposed to be there – oops.

It was a perfect summer’s day.  After so much fun with friends, I’m sad to see this day end. It was jam packed with hiking, swimming, gardening, playing and visiting yet it didn’t feel crazy rushed or busy.  This is exactly what summer days should be. To top it off, my house is pretty clean – we haven’t been here all day!

Hope you had a great day too, and that there are many more sunny summer days to come 🙂