Friday, September 25, 2009

Race Repeats

"I'll race you to the little hill," said Ava.
"Okay," I said, and we raced with Julia a pace or two behind.
Ava and I tied after running from the porch steps to the little hill in our back yard.

"Let's do it again," said Ava.
"Okay," I said.
We had pretty much the same result.

"Let's go again," said Ava.
"I'm getting tired," I said.
"You can time me," she said. "Start counting."
"I'm not going to count, but I do have my stop watch."

Ava ran. "Five seconds," I yelled.
Then, Julia ran. "Seven seconds."
"Your turn, Mommy," said Ava. "I'll do the watch for you."
"Six seconds," she yelled.

We continued taking turns running and timing for a good fifteen minutes. It was an impromptu sprint session. I never liked sprints in high school, but backyard sprints with young kids is a little less competitive. Although, when Julia started running in circles before getting to the hill, she did get reprimanded, but not from me.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pooh Sticks

Our last hike didn't start out how we had anticipated. We had great plans of hiking a kid-friendly trail at Elmore State Park and we'd been eyeing the lookout tower gleaming in the sun as we approached the mountain from the back side. We told the girls about the incredible view from the tower and to be careful climbing up the many stairs to the tower's top.

When we pulled into the check-in booth at the park, the attendant asked for our dog's rabies tags. Well, our dog doesn't wear her tags since they fall off when she does her crazy swimming in the lake. We'd simply call the vet as the shots were up-to-date. Only it was Sunday. No fire tower today girls.

Surprisingly, no one complained. We left the park and ventured off to find another hike. I had lived in the area in my single days and vaguely remembered a hike nearby. I asked for directions at the gas station and we were on our way.

By the time we got to this trail head, it was approaching lunch time. Julia got into the snacks and water bottle in her backpack about three steps up the trail. Rather than work our way up to a summit, we opted to follow a snowmobile trail. We went out a half hour and turned around and came back. The terrain was easy, we had the trail to ourselves, and our dog enjoyed jumping in and out of the stream without her dog tags.

The girls decided to play "Pooh Sticks," a game they learned from there favorite story, where you simply drop your sticks from one side of the bridge and see whose gets downstream on the other side of the bridge first. With less worry about how far we were going, we could afford a little more time for entertainment.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hiking with Kids

With fall in the air, the girls and I got out for our first hike of the season. In fact, it was Julia's first mountain hike. Last year, we went on walks on flat terrain since we were beyond the backpack but still in "carry me" mode.

On Monday morning, we were invited to join other families for a hike as many of the preschools hadn't started yet and many kindergarteners were off on that day. Kids are always motivated by other kids, so I figured this was a good day to break in Julia.

Well, there were more kids than I had anticipated -- 12 in all, I think, and six grown-ups. The kids weren't off and running because there were too many rocks and roots, but they moved along. There were rock cairns to check out and the kids added their own rocks to the high piles. A tee pee was a great attraction. The boys tried to keep the girls out, but weren't successful as shown here.

The group naturally spread out with older kids cruising along and younger kids needing encouragement to keep on. I was going to leave Julia and the group of younger, slower kids to go check on the older kids, but Julia didn't like the idea, saying "I want to come, momma." She got a spring in her step and we steadily climbed a series of rock stairs to a scenic vista where the lead groups were waiting and snacking. That was our turnaround point for the day, a little shy of the summit, but we didn't care. We had a great view and we knew we still had to get back down. 

On the descent, Julia complained of tired feet and legs and wanted to be carried, of course. So I pulled out a Startburst candy that I had saved for this occasion. If I had thrown the wrappers down, I would have made a trail of pink, and orange, and yellow. I did get frustrated when she stopped to pick the candy out of her teeth -- as if we weren't going slowly enough -- but I remembered that this is part of the experience. You stop and go a lot with kids.

We were the last in the pack so we didn't have to share our candy. Another time, I would pack some kind of snack that I could share as you tend to have a group of kids right near you. Also, I had Ava's snacks and she was up with other kids and parents so I'll have her wear her own little pack now. I admit that my family was a little bit out of hiking practice. Walks and hikes are not the same in terms of the preparation and motivation needed. We're definitely eager to hit the trails again, especially on a day that Daddy can join us.