Monday, May 29, 2017

Summer Kickoff 2017: Mushroom Rock

About a week ago I started eying the weather forecast, hopeful that we would be able to do some big adventure to kickoff the start of summer this holiday weekend.

I initially thought we might be able to go camping, but then an old friend asked if we wanted to go on the Lost Sea Adventure with his family on Sunday. We really wanted to see our old friend, so I nixed my camping idea.

It wasn't too hard to drop the idea... camping with littles can still be a bit daunting.

Even though we couldn't go camping, I had high hopes of spending Saturday on the Cherohala Skyway with stops for several short, kid-friendly hikes (reminiscent of a trip we did about this time last year). But the closer we got to the weekend, the higher likelihood it seemed that it would rain.

The weather and children are two things that do not really care about your plans.

Saturday morning started overcast and our weather app was suggesting thunderstorms that afternoon. We had a long breakfast and convinced ourselves that we should stay in town, playing at the park with friends and then doing a local hike.

We knew there was a good chance there would be no rain since we had committed to staying home...

After a quick lunch, we loaded the boys up to drive to Prentice Cooper State Forest and one of our favorite trails. Jack is a big fan of going to Mushroom Rock. I'm pretty sure this is due to the fact that we always run into trail runners and he is in love with the idea of running in the woods (and the fact that we often see teenage boys running shirtless – I think one of Jack's life goals is to run shirtless).

Anyway, this particular hike felt easier. It is only about 2 miles round trip and Jack pretty much ran the entire way. Isaac walked a good portion himself and we didn't have to coax the kids to keep moving (when Isaac gets tired, we just stick him in a backpack).

The only thing we had to bug both kids about was staying out of huge mud puddles. Our boys love to get muddy, but they both had on tennis shoes and we didn't want to deal with them complaining about squishy feet or getting blisters. Isaac shed a few tears about not being able to wade in the mud puddles and Jack managed to stick one foot in the mud that resulted in a hot spot at the end of the hike.

But overall our hike to the rock formation went relatively smoothly and quickly. When we arrived we took a break for snacks, water, and a little climbing.

As we sat there, the wind suddenly shifted, the air got cooler, and we thought the long-awaited storms were on their way.

So we decided to get moving.

Problem #1: We left Jack's beloved stick at Mushroom Rock. Tears ensued and we insisted that he could find a new stick, and that we needed to keep moving because we didn't want to get caught in a storm. It didn't actually rain, and Jack was upset for part of the hike back but refused to pick out a new stick.

Problem #2: It was Isaac's nap time and he didn't want to walk, but he also didn't want to ride in our backpack carrier. It was my turn to carry him, so I sang the Great Green Gobs of Greasy, Grimy Gopher Guts song on repeat, which settled him down for a bit until he fell asleep. When it comes to kids, you do what you gotta do. #amiright?

Overall it was a good hike. It didn't rain. It wasn't too hot. Endurance is definitely improving in both of our kids. If we had hiked before lunch instead of after, it would have been a better experience for Isaac. It wasn't the same as hiking on an open bald on the Cherohala Skyway, but it wasn't a bad way to kick off our long weekend doing something together as a family.

Previous Mushroom Rock Hikes: January 2016March 2016

Memorial Day, 2017

We had a very low-key Memorial Day weekend this year. No parties to attend. Rainy weather. Just the four of us.

So what do we do between the rain?

We decided to ride our bikes to Althaus Park. There are several hills on the way there, but Jack handled the ride really well.

Once we got to the park, we tested our abilities of riding over obstacles on the tennis court (a make-shift skate park of sorts, complete with homemade ramps). Jack is getting braver and braver with each visit.

After a snack, the kids went and played on the playground... and then the rain started. We attempted to wait out the rain under the pavilion, but eventually gave in and rode home in the rain.

We were all soaked by the time we got home, especially Isaac who was riding behind in the chariot. It was a wet day, but a fun family outing nonetheless.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Jack's Third Year of Preschool: 4s Class with Ms. Shelby & Ms. Sarah

Preschool is over. How can that be? Wasn't it just yesterday that I was dropping our floppy-haired boy off in Ms. Kathy's 2s class? Restraining tears and concerns about the days he would be away from me?

And now that season is complete. If I'm being honest, it takes my breath away.

First day of preschool (for the last time). Jack is starting the 4s class today. I'm so ready for school to start but drop off still made me a little sad. Isaac is yelling "Da" his word for Jack. I think he may miss him the most. #firstdayofschool #jackjack #lifewithapreschooler #mohaus2016

When Jack first started preschool, I worried that he wasn't learning enough. The things they were learning were things he already knew. I worried that it was a waste. But I was wrong.

We had fun at Jack's teddy bear parade and picnic at preschool today. #thankfulDanielcancometoschooleventsnow #jackjack #lifewithapreschooler #mohaus2016

Daniel and Jack at the Daddy's Night.

Friends convinced me to relax into this time. To allow him to learn new things through play, and to just enjoy being little. Maybe they weren't book things, but they were still important things.

I dropped off Spider-Man this morning at preschool. Loved seeing all of the littles dressed up for their Halloween parties! #lifewithapreschooler #jackjack #spidey #spiderman🕸 #mohaus2016

Over the last three years, my thinking has changed. Jack still learned a ton. Some from school, a lot from us. I gained confidence in what he was learning at home and felt a pull in a new direction as I realized that teaching him is something we do naturally, and will continue to do whether he is in a school environment or at home like we plan for kindergarten.

Today was the Thanksgiving Feast at Jack's preschool. #jackjack #lifewithapreschooler #mohaus2016

Fun field trip to the post office. We saw our mailman and he showed Jack where our mail gets sorted. #preschoolfieldtrip #postoffice #lifewithapreschooler #jackjack #mohaus2017

Preschool has served a great purpose for us. It gave me time to breathe through these early years of motherhood, it helped me ease into life with two kids, and it provided a place for Jack to make several really good friends.

It warms my heart to look back at photos from those early years and see what those friendships have turned into, even at the tender age of five. I look forward to watching these friendships blossom further.

A paper sewing craft, robot juice boxes and ice cream sundaes for Jack's Valentine's party at preschool. #lifewithapreschooler #preschoolvalentineparty #thankspinterest #jackjack #mohaus2017

Jack was so blessed by his year in Ms. Shelby and Ms. Sarah's class. He went in knowing all of his classmates, many had been in previous classes with him. He enjoyed the layed back approach of being there three times a week.

Jack was very excited to dress up like a policeman for his preschool's career day. He's been writing tickets left and right. #careerday #lifewithapreschooler #jackjack #mohaus2017

He will always say that his favorite thing about preschool was play bunch, but I know he especially loved the building centers, time spent with friends, and all of the special days that preschool provides.

Spring Music Program. Love these sweet kiddos! #lifewithapreschooler #jackjack #mohaus2017

The 4s Classes at Jack's preschool enjoyed several special experiences, as seen throughout this post. Including the Teddy Bear Picnic and Parade, Daddy's Night, a Halloween Party, birthday's celebrated at school, a Thanksgiving Feast, a Christmas party, a field trip to the Post Office, a Valentine's party, Easter party, Mommy's Night, a Spring Music Program, a special Chapel about Zaccheus, and finally their special Moving Up ceremony and end of year party.

All of this, and so much more, packed into one fantastic year.

Today is his last full day of preschool. I can't believe this phase is already coming to a close. Tomorrow is his moving up ceremony and class party. 😭😭😭#lifewithapreschooler #jackjack #mohaus2017

A glimpse at Jack's 2016-17 school year in the three-day 4-year-old's class with Ms. Shelby and Ms. Sarah.

And just like that. Three years is over. Preschool graduation is done. Jack has officially moved up. He's bigger, older, wiser. We are so proud of him and looking forward to the future, even if we are sad that this phase is already complete.

Adventurous, bright, industrious and independent. #jackjack #preschoolgraduation

I'm bigger now, take a look at me. I learned my colors and my ABCs. I'm wiser now, take a look at me... Kindergarten here I come! #jackjack #preschoolgraduation

A Look Back

Family Hike at Fiery Gizzard

On Saturday we had originally planned to go on a group hike on the Fiery Gizzard Trail , but it was cancelled at the last minutes. So...