I know that Baby C is still a bit too young to understand the whole ‘experience as a gift’ thing but we really like that philosophy here in this house. While he might not remember exactly, we wanted to get that started early! We booked tickets for a ride on Thomas the Train (our little dude is quite the ‘choo choo’ lover) when he was visiting the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. We drove up on Saturday morning, had a blast riding Thomas, seeing all the other train related activities.
We were meeting friends from lunch and had an hour to kill so we popped literally around the corner to the Cuyahoga National Park Visitors Center and took a look around, saw the river (C had a really hard time not jumping into the Cuyahoga) and picked up our traditional National Park coffee cup. We had a lovely BBQ lunch and then headed back south. Our overtired dude did not nap well in the car and since he is up we stopped at the new outlet mall on our way home. I forgot it was Memorial Day weekend and it was so busy so we didn’t stay too long.
Sunday we kept it low key and cooked out at home. Monday was a pool day and cook out at my parents house. C loves the water so much and it’s so much fun to see him get more and more confident in the pool.
We went to the OSU v Minnesota Men’s hockey game on Friday night and C did so good! He loves hockey and basically screams whenever the sirens go off or the crowd shouts. There were no non-blurry shots. And, it’s heaven.
Saturday, we drove down to the Hocking Valley Scenic Railroad for a trip on the Santa Express. It was an incredible hit with C!
On Sunday, we’d meant to go the A Dickens of a Christmas but deferred to go next weekend with friends so spent the morning. We got SNOW over night and M and C spent a good hour playing outside, enjoying the inch of snow before it got up to 35 and it was all gone.
I signed up for this 10k at Roots and Rocks in Alum Creek State Park back when I was first getting back into running again and thought maybe M would want to do it with me but, life with a little dude makes trail running *together* essentially impossible. So I ended up running it alone, with my two dudes cheering me on at the start and finish.
I thought the course was pretty well marked but M was surprised to hear there were no pin flags, especially at intersections. I did have to point out a few twists and turns to other runners – I guess M’s natural navigator awareness has rubbed off on me more than I would have thought! Packet pick up was a total joke and I will never make the drive to Fleet Feet before one of their races again if it isn’t required.
That said, I would totally run another race at Roots and Rocks again.
I ran along several parts of the trail with other MRTT-ers (Mom’s Run This Town) and even though we had never met before this race, they were super friendly and welcoming. I think they could smell the ‘new to trail racing’ fear on me and were extra helpful.
I hit 8 miles the previous weekend so knew I could handle the distance and have hiked much more technical things with M so knew I could handle the terrain; it was simply putting them together that was a bit tougher on my legs than expected. We’re two days out and my quads are still pretty dang sore! All in all, I would highly recommend this race if you’re in the greater Columbus area.
We went away for a quiet family weekend to Southwestern Michigan over Memorial Day weekend. I found a quaint cottage and we were able to walk to the beach on Lake Michigan. C loved the sand and indulged us with a few quick toe touches of freezing Lake Michigan water. We hit up both Greenbush Brewing and Haymarket for lunches (and growler fill ups!) and cooked in for breakfast and dinner. We had very low expectations of going on vacation with a kiddo – we were home each afternoon for nap time, and we spent most of that time reading on the porch. We also went over to Warren Dunes State Park and did a great 4 mile hike; although it was a little too long for C. If we had realized we were hiking 2 miles thru sand dunes, we could have foreseen that and planned a better break. Overall, it was a lovely vacation, and no, I’m not telling you where the name of the cottage we rented. It’s our little secret!
This is now my life. If you had told me a year ago that I would have happily had a box of dirt in a place of honor in my house, I would have laughed in your face.
These are my fancy Italian pepper and San Marzano tomatoes seedlings to start. Seed starting kits are expensive and plastic filled – not really something I wanted to buy, use for my food and then store (because I’m not tossing more plastic than I have to). I rigged up some peat containers, potting soil and a big box from Costco to make my own little hothouse and put it by the only south facing window we’ve got.
We also put in a new veggie bed – more on that soon!
We headed up to Lucas to go to Malabar Farm State Park for their annual Maple Sugar Camp. We stopped at a local diner for lunch beforehand – but other families brought picnics and that was genius! They have a great sugar shack set up for visitors to see what is going on with modern maple syrup production and then two different set ups for historical ways of making maple syrup. The season is already over for most producers but since they have a northern exposure on their sugar bush so they were still able to have this event. I expect to see this industry hit hard(er) as our planet continues to warm. We also did the Butternut trail and checked out the historical home on the property. It was a pretty great day. Here’s a few of my favorite snaps!
For the last two Black Fridays, REI has closed and encouraged their staff, members and customers, to #optoutside and avoid the frenzy of Black Friday. You can check out some pictures from others who also opted out here.
Last year, we went down to Clear Creek Metro Park for a good long hike as you can put together a nearly 10 mile loop and M was eager to try out some trail lunch ideas. It was a great day.
This year, we had baby C in tow but have decided that going to Clear Creak is now our Black Friday tradition. We did a different loop, one that was only 4 miles long, since it was a little chilly for the wee one. It is such a beautiful park and I’m glad this land is protected.
We are trying to say ‘no more’ to the destruction unbridled capitalism is doing to our planet, our wallets, and our relationships by opting out. We still buy – and make – presents for those in our lives for this holiday season but we do not need to do it on Black Friday. There is no crock pot deal on the planet that is worth bypassing family time – for myself and for the employees of the stores that are open on Thanksgiving or Black Friday.
Confession time: I hate the term adventuring. Just, ugh, that’s a noun – not a verb! It is only ever used to imply that time outside that is grand, unique and big is only time that counts. And frankly, that’s a heaping load.
I hiked quite a bit during our Great Smoky Mountains trip and I loved (almost) every minute of it. We didn’t summit Chimmey Tops but hiked most of the way, as well as Clingman’s Dome to Mt. Bucky, most of Cade’s Cove and several quiet walkways. While the quiet walkways are not well signed (unlike everything else in the park!), they might have been one of my favorite parts of our hiking. They are not as well used or well maintained but they are really quiet and peaceful. If you go – check out one or two!
On another note, I do have some thoughts about serious day hiking while pregnant. M did carry the bigger bag with our camera, the big backpacking first aid kit, trail lunch stuff and snacks as well as the majority of our water. But good practices mean that you never go out without some gear for yourself, so I carried my Flash 18 with a liter of water, raincoat, hat and a smaller first aid kit. Do not fasten the waist belt but don’t go out without water. Pack in your TP and pack it out (don’t be those people…pack it out!) Be OK with taking it slower than you normally do – especially at altitude.
I walk outside, on a greenway path, for just 30 minutes a day – nearly every day. I’ve watched the trees change from vibrant jewel tones, to bare and 15 shades of brown and gray and then spring back to life. I’ve heard the bird song change, quiet and swell again as the season change. I’ve even gotten better at identifying some birds – including a blue heron and hairy woodpecker, just steps from home. No, it isn’t climbing mountains but there is more to enjoying (and protecting) our nature world that bagging peaks.
One of my good girlfriends says that one of the secrets of parenthood is ‘when everything is awful, go outside’. And I suspect she’s right there. But I think it might be one the keys of personhood too – when everything is awful, GO OUTSIDE. When you’re mindlessly scrolling thru Facebook or Instagram, GO OUTSIDE. Maybe even leave your camera phone at home (I do this on my walks and it drives M bananas) – no one needs to see pictures of the birds you’ve spotted or sights you’ve seen for that time to be a balm for the soul.
We had the best last vacation before baby! [I’ve since heard baby moon used to describe the time where you cocoon as a family once baby arrives and I find that concept very sweet!) It was really important to me that we took some time away from the busyness and prep to connect and relax.
We headed down Great Smoky Mountains National Park for several days. We stayed in a cabin in Pigeon Forge, rather than camping in the park. We did a great mix of hiking every day, hanging out at the cabin, and exploring the area. We hit up Chimmey Tops, Cade’s Cove, Clingman’s Dome and several ‘quiet walkways’ which are trails that are much less maintained than other named trails. Here are a few of my favorite snaps from the trip!