Weekend Recap May 26, 27 and 28

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.

Chikaming Township, MI

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!

Maple Sugar Camp at Malabar Farm

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!

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thoughts in getting outside

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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.

Weekend Recap / What We Ate 5/18 – 5/24

M closed on Friday night so I watched more Next Food Network Star than I should have. Seeing Bobby Flay and Giada in action – I can definitely see those affair rumors because WOWZA are those two flirty!

Saturday morning I lounged around then spent the afternoon shopping with my mom (at the fabric store) and sister (at the tack shop). We all spent the rest of the afternoon lounging at the pool and grilling out. I threatened to drag my sister and her best to Jeni’s for ice cream but no god-fearing Columbusite knows better than to turn down Jenis. We rounded out the evening by stopping by Studio 35 for a drink with two of M’s coworkers and their wives.

Sunday morning brought more sleeping in – HELLO HOLIDAY WEEKEND! I hit up the grocery store and ran a few errands. We just grilled up some hot-dogs and corn on the cob and rounded out the evening with Despicable Me 2.

Lucky for me, M was also off on Monday! So we headed out to my parents to pick up Lexi the Wonder Dog and take her hiking with us. We went to Great Seal State Park, sort of near Tar Hollow. It’s named because it contains the hills that are represented on the Great Seal of the Great State of Ohio. We did the Sugarloaf Mountain trail and part of the Shawnee Ridge trail – it was pretty hilly so we took a few breaks to let Lex rest. It was great to be in much older forest with less undergrowth and fuller canopy coverage. Great Seal State Park has a lot less camping than Tar Hollow and was less busy – I can’t wait to go horse camping there!

After our hike, we spent the afternoon in the pool. The weather was perfect all weekend – hot but not too hot and sunny but not too sunny.

chicago dog at sonic after our hike!

Monday 5/18 – buffalo cauliflower
Tuesday 5/19 – leftovers
Wednesday 5/20 – lemon caper tuna sandwich
Thursday 5/21 – buffalo cauliflower
Friday 5/22 – baked fish with waffle fries
Saturday 5/23 – burgers at my parents
Sunday 5/24 – hot dogs and corn on the cob