posts tagged with 'hiking'

camping 2017, part 2

When we woke up from our second night in the tent it was downright chilly at the campsite. That's why we come north in August; we need a chance to use those sweatshirts! Luckily we came prepared.

Mama, Harvey, and Lijah in warm pjs and sweatshirts in front of the tent

good thing it was the summer!

Besides warm PJs and blankets, the best way to warm up on a chilly morning in camp is to cook something over the fire. I was all ready with my homemade pancake mix to serve up to a crowd—as soon as everyone else woke up.

pancakes cooking in the skillet over the fire

blueberry pancakes, natch

This was our last full day on the island, so we had another hike planned—this one a little shorter but just a picturesque. After a bit of confusion with the bus driver, who dropped us off on the side of a busy road quite a ways from the trailhead, we found where we were meant to be and started up the north ridge of Champlain. There aren't many trees there, even at the beginning of the hike, so we all wished the cold had hung on a little longer. Instead it was quickly blazing hot, and all the boys shed their shirts—well, all except for Lijah, who was wearing long sleeves and fleece pants as he always did in those days. The boys who walked the whole way were glad to find some shade at the top of the mountain.

Harvey, Zion, and Nathan over their heads in a shadowy crevasse

how do they get out?

I didn't realize it at the time, but that trip up Champlain was the first time since 2011 that all the extant Archibalds had climbed mountains on back-to-back days (and back then two of the four who went up weren't doing much climbing!!).

the Archibalds posing at the signpost atop Champlain Mtn

we're getting good at this!

Of course we had lunch on the summit. The kids all found their own spot to eat, which was fine, except we didn't oversee them as they packed up... which meant that nobody reminded Zion to grab his shoes and shirt, which he had tossed away looking for his lunch. And he didn't miss them on the way down, despite the steep terrain. All the boys just skipped right along.

the boys walking along a sloping ridge on the west side of Champlain

mountain goat boys

Surefooted goats or not, they were glad enough when we made it down to the nature center in the valley to soak their feet in the icy spring pool.

Harvey's feet, dipped in the spring

how beautiful are the feet...

Not for long, though, because we had to catch the bus; which was the first time we realized how unprepared Zion was to reenter civilization. Still, on boarding we were able to assure the bus driver that we would be able to find the necessary items in our packs—it was the assumption we were under at the time!—and when we realized the truth we were already on our way. What was he going to do, kick us off?!

The spring not having been enough water, when we got back to town we wandered down to the harbor beach, where we tossed stones and Zion—in a shirt borrowed from Harvey—played run away from the waves.

Zion skipping away from the small waves on a rocky beach

there isn't a wave born that can touch him!

(Then he and Harvey together did the same thing on the long paved boat launch ramp, where the surf was rather more impressive!)

The evening at the campsite was so low-key and relaxing that I didn't take any pictures, which means I don't recall it at all. I do remember packing up the next morning, which we did before breakfast—because we all wanted to enjoy a big meal at Cafe This Way before we hit the road. There's always a wait, but that's alright; outside there are trees and rocks to climb on, and once we were seated the kids had their pick of the toys stocked in bins by the bathrooms.

the boys playing with toys at the cafe

breakfast time fun

After lunch we headed down to the ocean one more time. We were almost all adventured out, but not so much that we were ready to be driven away by the spitting rain that started falling. Especially not since we were curious about what folks were doing standing around with a bottle of champagne and an American flag; it turns out they were waiting for someone to finish a cross-country cycling trip. Now that's adventure! We got to see him dip his wheel in the water of the Atlantic. Then we turned away from the water to head for home.

a smooth boulder spotted with raindrops

gray

At the time, our next Maine trip seemed an eternity away. But now it's just three days away! Expect a more timely report for 2018.

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camping 2017, part 1

the boys looking out to sea from atop a mountain

mountaintop moment

Eleven months ago we went on a camping trip. Somehow I never managed to write about it; now, as we get ready for this year's version of the expedition, I realize I really need to do it or I'll never remember what happened! Luckily I have pictures to jog my memory. Not that there aren't any gaps in the record; for example I have no recollection of how well packing went. But we managed to hit the road not too long after 9:00, so it couldn't have been too bad. And everyone was delighted to be in the car and on the way!

the boys in their car seats amidst the camping gear

ready to go!

After lunch in the car and a stop at the grocery store in Waldoboro we made it to Lincolnville in plenty of time to stop and enjoy a good long time playing on the foggy beach.

four of us in the water at foggy Lincolnville beach

photo by Zion

I don't remember anything else from the day, except that we made it to the campsite in time for a dinner of chicken fajitas cooked by Katie and Tim. The lap of luxury!

But the next morning I sprang right to work, lighting a fire and putting together a breakfast of eggs and toasted bagels (and cereal for the boys, who like that sort of thing). Then, thinking about the real reason we had come all that way, we made lunches, packed up, and hit the trail!

a selfie of me, with Lijah in the backpack, by Jordan Pond

happy hikers

For that first hike we started from the Jordan Pond House and walked along the shore of the pond, before heading up the lower slopes of Penobscot Mountain. It was a reasonably easy walk, but still too much for Lijah's friend Henry, with his newly broken arm—or, really, for his parents; he was all for trying, but they wanted to keep him in the stroller for safety. But they walked up the carriage road and met us where the hiking path crossed it at a bridge over a gorge. It was a delightful surprise!

After crossing the carriage road the path headed up more steeply, and the bigger kids showed how well they can hike.

Harvey, Zion, and Nathan walking up stairs in the woods

ever upwards

They got pretty far ahead of us, but kindly waited up at crossings in the trail, so we would know where to go. Not that everything was smooth and easy; it was a long way up so some complaints and doubts were inevitable, plus I dropped my camera and dented the ring on the end of the lens body, so it couldn't extend. That made me sad. Lunch at the top of the mountain made everything better, especially when I was able to use Leah's elegant lunch knife to pry the camera back to usability, in time to take pictures like this one:

the gang lunching atop Penobscot

lunch with a view

Going down the mountain we started along the ridge, with fine views all around.

Katie and Tim descending Penobscot with lots of ocean beyond them

walking in the open sky

When we reached the trees things stayed interesting, with the path dropping sharply along a steep rocky slope. There were stairs, a bridge, and a few places where it was actually pretty tricky getting down for the two of us carrying three-year-olds on our backs.

Zion walking down stairs along a small cliff

and now down the stairs

The group got very spread out over the last couple miles, with some kids fading while others had enough energy to run the last bit (as they zipped out of sight we hoped they knew where they were going). But everybody recovered once we were back at the Jordan Pond House with access to bathrooms, shade, and good cold water—everybody, that is, except the one who actually didn't have to do that much walking...

Lijah sleeping in the backpack carier

hiking is hard work for everyone

Even that one revived when we got back to the campground. Most of us zipped right off to the pool as soon as we returned—just the thing after a hot and dirty day of hard work!

Mama and the boys swimming in the pool

civilization

Not me, though; it was my turn to cook, and I was working hard turning out chicken, cornbread, and rice for everybody. Then we went to bed, and though I can't really remember I bet we all slept pretty well!

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often barefoot, sometimes balanaced

One of the many books I took on our camping trip was Balanced and Barefoot, by Angela J. Hanscom. Super appropriate, since camping is all about the ways which, per the subtitle, "unrestricted outdoor play makes for strong, confident, and capable children." Among many other worthwhile points, the author notes that "going barefoot in nature helps develop normal gait patterns, balance, and tolerance of touch in the feet, all of which provide a strong foundation for confident and fluid movement." Check.

three boys barefoot atop a mountain

they're doing it

That is to say, they had plenty of time barefoot in nature—like they do. I actually made the two who were doing their own walking put on shoes to start both hikes, but both times they quickly decided they were too hot, and the footwear became cargo. The book suggests that outdoor play builds core strength and endurance; I don't know about the former, but over the two days of hiking we covered about six and a half miles, with something like 1800 feet of elevation gain. (Now that's a vacation!) Zion actually did more like six and a quarter miles—Leah carried him a couple times, for encouragement—but either way it was an impressive effort.

Since we've been back, they've dived right back into playing with their friends in the neighborhood. Lots of that play is outside—none of us parents wants a gang of eight kids filling up the house for long (of course, video games, pokemon cards, and play sets all exert a powerful indoor pull...). I do wonder, though, if the outdoor play that's happening on Beacon Street fulfills all the requirements Hanscom would look for in proper therapeutic play. For one thing, I think it might involve a few too many plastic weapons.

One of the things she talks about in the book is how using natural materials in play spurs kids' imagination and social-emotional development. Store-bought toys, the argument goes, have specific and limited modes of play—a toy car is a car and it's only supposed to drive one direction. To say nothing of a Batman Batcave play set. The problem is all those toys exist, and they exist in the houses of our lovely neighbors (and, yes, in our house too). How can sticks and pinecones ever hope to compete? There's a question of space, too; our woodsy play area is pretty small, here on our suburban lot. Most of the kids are old enough now they should be playing in the town forest less than a quarter mile away, but they aren't allowed to on their own.

I don't know what to do about it. Certainly, I have no worries our boys aren't spending enough time outside, and in nature. But I think they need more time to play in the woods. On my adult schedule, we do hikes—which they love!—but the limited play times available in hiking pauses isn't enough to start to develop complex interpersonal games. Although, now that I think about it... the last time we went to Fawn Lake on a summer camp outing the rocks above the pond turned into a spaceship and a pirate ship and I don't know what else during the half-hour post-lunch play time. We're going there again today, and play time will definitely be on the schedule. Maybe we're doing alright after all.

Harvey's feet, dipped in the spring

how beautiful are the feet...

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marching in the marsh

Lijah and Clara looking over the marsh in Concord

non-salt marsh

Last Monday we went on another day camp excursion. With a clear hot day forecast, I wanted a trip that would be cool and comfortable. So we started out with a lovely 3-mile bike ride through the shady woods.

kids cycling on a shady dirt path

cool kids

Our destination was Concord's Great Meadows bird sanctuary, which is mostly water. I'd never been before, and assumed all the wetness would make it feel cool and refreshing. Not so much, as it turns out, since the main thing we noticed was the lack of shade.

kids hiking on a sunny path through the marsh

bright

Still, there were lots of cool things to see, and not just birds: we also spotted a young snapping turtle, a frog, and lots of interesting plants. And there was water here and there to play in, like the pair of concrete fords someone built back when cars were traveling those paths.

kids wading in a shallow ford

part of the infrastructure

My co-counselor this time was Elizabeth, and she'd visited the sanctuary lots of times before. She guided us to a lovely spot by the Concord River where we could have lunch—and we never would have made it that far without her promise of good things ahead! Then the post lunch walk back to the bikes was entirely manageable.

As was the ride home, once again in the shade. After all our sweating and exertion Harvey and I thought it would be fair if we detoured slightly for a stop at Chip-In Farm to look at the animals and pick up some emergency sugar rations, in the shape of 25¢ of penny candy per camper. That's why we have that big camp budget.

Lijah by the Chip-In barn

farm camp

Zion ran all day, Harvey walked and talked, and Lijah survived in long pants and long-sleeve shirt (I carried him a fair amount, to keep him from dying). They all felt very summery.

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hiking to keep cool

On Monday, our homeschool gathering day, it was super hot. What to do? Go on a hike! The kids, I confess, weren't enthusiastic at first; they didn't believe me that the woods is the place to be when it tops 90° on the mean streets of the suburban concrete jungle. As soon as we got out there they saw the appeal.

Zion trying to shimmy up a very thick tree

tree hugger baby

There are lots of woodsy spots in town, but our favorite one is around the old reservoir. (If you look over the posts with the hiking tag, it's pretty much all there.) While most of Bedford is pretty flat, it has fun hills to keep things interesting. Lijah was interested—he walked the whole way, except when it was too steep and he slid.

Lijah scooting down a steep slope

whee?

The trees' shade and the damp forest floor alone were wonderfully cooling, but the beat-the-heat highlight of the adventure was of course the pond. Rascal spent maybe an hour in the water, where he was comfortable for the first time in days. Nobody else went in in—the mud bottom and pollen-covered surface discouraged them—but it was lovely to sit by the cool water.

Zion and Lijah sitting together pondside

chilling

It was so pleasantly cool that the big kids had the energy to run and frolic and generally go twice as far as the adults and pre-schoolers. And even climb a tree for real, when we found one someone had kindly provided with spikes.

Zion climbing spikes on a birch above the pond

adventure course

Havana is a climber; she went all the way up... and wished there were more spikes so she could get even higher!

Havana up even higher in the tree, everyone watching

even higher advnture

It was a full morning of adventure for us all. We came home for lunch and spent the first part of the afternoon in quiet recovery activities. Then, so as to avoid cooking, we walked to Whole Foods for an early dinner. Lijah was in the stroller—I couldn't make him walk another mile—and he didn't last long before he fell asleep. When we were all set with the food I tried to wake him up to eat, but it proved impossible: neither shaking him nor pulling his eyes open had any effect.

Lijah 98% asleep at whole foods

unwakeable

Must have been a good hike.

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seizing the warmth

The boys spent most of the warm spell outside, naturally, but to really take advantage of the weather we needed to go for a hike. We did that on Friday, and we got to bring Zion's good friend Nathan along with us. The Archibald boys were in full warm-weather gear. I did make them bring sweatshirts along, just in case; that was totally unnecessary. But as I mentioned in the other post there was enough snow that they weren't entirely thrilled to be wearing sandals. Not that anyone complained!

Harvey, Zion, and Nathan hiking in the snow--Harvey and Zion in shorts and sandals

sandals in the snow

And there were also long stretches with no snow at all. Even though he was wearing his snow boots (incidentally the only footwear he owns at this point) Lijah was happiest to be able to walk on dry dirt: his footing wasn't so good on the icy snow. Even there, though, he was happy to hold my hand, and I didn't need to carry him at all.

Lijah looking cute in a snowless forest-scape

the littlest hiker

When we reached the old reservoir we noticed two things: the ice cover was still just about complete, and there was a giant white pine that had fallen onto—into—the ice.

Zion and Nathan testing the slushy ice

do you think it'll bear?

Actually, the first thing the boys noticed was the bench where I had told them we could eat lunch—we've been there before—but it was still too early so I told them to run and play for a while first. Naturally they had to try the ice, and when Zion didn't hear cracking he announced it was safe. What he didn't notice was that he was slowly sinking in what was, really, just a layer of dense slush. Nathan actually stood still long enough that water started welling up around his feet. It was pretty cool.

After lunch I couldn't resist venturing out onto the fallen tree trunk; after he saw me neither could Zion. He went farther than me, too. I suppose he was determined to get out into the middle of the pond somehow.

Zion walking out on a giant fallen tree over the ice

no hesitation

Nathan and Harvey were more cautious, but they did get out a little ways too. I wonder what will happen to the tree in the summer? How long will it be laying there before it decays? The wood is totally sound—it was just the roots that gave up, as the dirt around them at the edge of the pond washed away. Clearly more expedition will be necessary in months to come. We stand ready to undertake them.

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a recent outing

The last couple days it seems inappropriate to post anything not related to the ongoing disaster that is our new presidential administration. I've been staying up late reading news and analysis and getting myself too worked up to sleep; we're going to have to start protesting so I can work of some of the rage. And also get out in the woods.

Zion and Harvey running down a trail

runnning to the woods

On Saturday the whole family snuck a way for a short hike up by the old reservoir. We were a little late for the morning's sunshine, but even under clouds it was lovely to be out all together. Lijah especially appreciated having Mama along.

Leah carrying Lijah across a little bridge

this is how he hikes with Mama

I was surprised to see that, despite the crazy warm weather, the pond was still completely iced over. Unfortunately the ice was thin and totally rotten around the edges, leaving no way for us to get out on it. The boys still tried out every possible spot just to be sure.

the boys testing the ice on the pond

testing the ice

Rascal is less cautious; he found a couple spots to "swim", and as we reached the end of our circumnavigation finally discovered a solid-enough spot to get onto the ice. Any thoughts we might of had about following him were dashed when he broke through on his way back to shore. We laughed; I don't think he minded.

Rascal out on the ice

he has better weight distribution that we do

It was lovely to be out getting fresh air and exercise. We'll have to do it again soon; when we're not downtown holding signs.

Zion jumping over a stream, Harvey waiting his turn

practical broad-jumping

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camping 2016: the best day

Harvey and Zion checking out a big big rock on the shore

vacation activity

Over a month ago we were camping, and the third full day of our trip was just the most delightful time. We started it off with breakfast in the campsite.

colored plates around the campfire after breakfast

who needs tables?

I had put together some pancake mix at home, so it was easy to just add eggs and milk and turn out a dozen perfectly presentable pancakes. We also had eggs, toasted bagels, and cereal—and Leah figured out that a paper towel could stand in for a filter in the aeropress, so she could enjoy her morning cup of coffee. Then we said goodbye to Becca, Andrew, and Henry—who were scheduled to head home even before medical issues made an early departure doubly necessary—and to Tim, Katie, Nathan, and Liam, who were going to spend the day with other friends. Our reduced group enjoyed a few relaxing moments before splitting up: Leah and the younger boys were looking forward to spending some quiet time at the campground, and Harvey and I wanted to climb another mountain!

Harvey and me posing by the sign on Champlain Mtn, with lots of other people around

busy peak

With Kyle and Margaret accompanying us it didn't take long to get up the north ridge of Champlain. We were so quick we weren't really hungry for lunch at the top; but of course we ate it anyway. The way down was even more interesting, with plenty of steep pitches, narrow paths alongside precipitous drop-offs, and picturesque overlooks (such as seen in the last photo of this post).

Harvey, Kyle, and Margaret hiking a steep-sided trail on Hugonaut Head

real hiking

Watching Harvey soldier along it occurred to me that he actually hiked the most miles of anyone on the trip: he was the only one to go on every hike on offer. But even all that hiking wasn't enough for him, and he was delighted to be able to turn his hand to some spelunking too.

Harvey squeezing out of a cave opening

I couldn't fit there...

There was a pretty nice cave among the tumbled-down boulders beside the trail; he went in the bigger entrance lower on the trail, then back-tracked 20 feet or so to emerge higher up through the little hole there. I found rocks to climb on, but you don't need more pictures of me.

The long descent left us a little footsore, so we were very happy to reach the Sieur de Monts nature center and, following Harvey's example, dip our feet in the eponymous spring. It was cold. We had a contest to see who could keep their feet in longest, and Harvey won easily.

Harvey and Kyle dipping their feet in the pool at Sieur de Monts Spring

refreshing

The only disappointing thing as Sieur de Monts was finding that the dead animals are no more. Well, I suppose they still exist, but they've been moved off the island to the part of the park no one visits to make room for an updated space and exhibits about climate change. Which I suppose is worthwhile. It was also a little disappointing to miss the bus by mere seconds when we first reached the center... but on the other hand, if we had caught it we wouldn't have been able to chill our feet! And another bus came along soon enough.

Back in town we reconnected with Leah, Zion, and Lijah, and went looking for ice cream. Zion was especially excited about getting something at the Big Lobster store: ice cream, fudge, or preferably both.

Harvey and Zion with the ice cream lobster statue

ice cream lobster 2016

As it happened, while we had no theoretical objection to that plan, the store turned out to be a madhouse of crowds, confusion, and overpriced cones. So we retreated to the much calmer Bar Harbor creamery, where I was very happy with my kid-sized cone of blackstrap banana. The kids were fine with their flavors too—maybe they'll remember em if you ask.

Lijah eating his ice cream in the park wearing a blissful expression

I think he likes it

With energy waning, we thought about heading back to camp but decided we needed just a little more time by the shore. It was a good call. For the next hour or so we hung out by the water; Harvey changed into his swimsuit and threw giant rocks into the ocean, and Zion and Lijah played imaginative games with stones. Separately, of course.

Harvey throwing a big rock into the ocean, making a big splash

by a big rock throwing big rocks

As for me, I tried and failed to get to the top of the boulder. I've done it before, as recently as six years ago, so I attributed my inability this time to old age. But after seeing some younger people manage it Leah suggested it might rather be a question of technique, and sure enough with a little less climbing a more jumping I made it—and even less bloodied than last time!

me atop the big boulder on the Shore Path

I've still got it

Eventually we made our slow way back to the van, pausing briefly to discipline the children when their fighting led Harvey to push Zion in front of a (slowly) moving car. Having fun all the time is hard work! But spirits quickly revived when we reached the campsite and a delicious feast of burgers prepared by Kyle and Margaret.

Leah holding a double hamburger with lettuce and tomato

big burger

As the final cooks of the trip they bought all the ingredients at the supermarket just before dinner time. When they started cooking they wondered if three and a half pounds of ground beef was excessive for four adults and three small kids. It was not. When there's ketchup and mustard and pickles and lettuce and tomato and two kinds of cheese and delicious campfire-roasted red onion, it's impossible to stop at one burger. It was about the best food I've ever had.

As we say at Passover, that would have been enough. But driving past the mini golf course at least twice a day all vacation had awakened in at least Harvey and me a fierce desire to play the game again (we did, once before). So we made that happen.

Harvey putting, Zion watching

I think it's going in!

It was great. Harvey and Zion loved the golf, and Lijah loved the pirates—the only tears came when we had to drag them away, back to the tent to sleep. But until then we enjoyed a beautiful cool evening, a perfect end to a perfect day.

the moon over the rigging of the golf course pirate ship

pirate moon

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camping 2016: family hiking

the Archibalds posing atop Parkman Mtn

the family that hikes together poses together

Here are some more words about our camping trip. It may be a bit much but we appreciate the record ourselves, even if it doesn't have so much appeal to the wider world. We do a lot on vacation, and it's nice to be able to revisit it!

Our first full day in Maine this year we broke from tradition to eat breakfast at the campsite, rather than going into town to the Cafe. It was partly to save money, and partly because thee two-year-olds aren't the easiest crowd to wrangle in a crowded restaurant as they wait half an hour for their first food of the day. It was cool enough when we woke up that I enjoyed lighting the fire, and the bacon, eggs, and toast went down well. The only unhappy moment came when Leah realized she had forgotten the filters for her Aeropress. The little boys had no such concerns.

Lijah and Henry working on coloring pages by the remains of the fire

after-breakfast entertainment

As for the bigger ones, they're such old hands at camping that we could leave them entirely to their own devices.

Harvey, Zion, and Nathan sitting under the trees far away from us

doing their own thing

While the kids played we packed lunches and snacks, then we hopped in three cars and headed to the day's trail. We meant to hike up Bald Peak and then Parkman Mountain, but in our enthusiasm we reversed the order; all we cared about was that we were going up.

Nathan, Zion, and Harvey climbing up the steep trail

upward and onward!

And up and up; as per Harvey's request, there was lots of steep scrambling on the trail (but no ladders). The boys were full of energy and handled it all without a problem. They totally earned their top-of-the-mountain snacks.

Harvey and Zion at the top of the mountain getting snacks out of bags

snack at the top

Lijah, too, did a great job; he didn't have to walk, but he had to allow himself to be carried in the backpack, which was probably even harder! He had a moment of rebellion when it was time to get back in after our first mountaintop start, but I was able to enthuse him enough that he remounted without any real screaming. Zion was ready to go too.

Zion, holding his tiger, leaning on the backpack with Lijah in it

carried and carrier

I didn't take nearly as many pictures on top of Bald Peak, where I think we had lunch; it's always thus for the day's second summit. I did manage to use my phone to snap one of Leah, celebrating her freedom on her first hike in five years not carrying someone!

Leah by the sign at the top of Bald Peak

she proves we did it

The way down was just as steep, and the boys (and some of the adults!) found that controlled sliding was the best way to manage the grade safely. Harvey wore two big holes in the seat of his pants.

Harvey sliding down a steep rock face

and this wasn't even the Giant Slide Trail

By the afternoon it was pretty hot, and we were all footsore and happy to make it back to the cars for a bit of a rest. But back at the campsite the boys quickly revived and got ready to hit the pool!

Zion, Harvey, and Nathan doing a silly pose in their swimsuits, goggles, and life-jackets

silly swimmers

While some swam, others cooked dinner, and as the sun started to get low in the sky we sat down to a lovely meal of pasta and meat sauce. We'd all earned those carbs—especially the little ones, who permitted us to have so much fun.

all five of the little kids eating pasta at the low table

kids table

Yes, they all know how to do this camping thing!

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big kid outings

the three boys hiking way ahead of me, walking into a clearing

look at them go

A couple days ago I took the boys out for a hike around the Old Reservoir. We walked over a mile, and Lijah was on foot almost the whole time. I was pretty confident he would be, so I didn't even bring anything to carry him; correctly so, because even when he was getting tired he couldn't stand to see his brothers walking for long without wanting to join them. He just needs to be a little quicker—as well as his legs, his voice gets a workout as he shouts after them to wait up. Sometimes they even do! Of course, every strenuous hike needs to include a snack break!

the boys sitting on a bench eating their hiking snack

just desserts

The only bad part of the outing was that Zion lost the water bottle he was carrying in the side of his backpack; it rattled right out as he ran along the trail, and we didn't notice at the time. We tried to retrace our steps to find it—and the boys were all very patient with the change in plans—but without any luck. Too bad... it was one of our best ones!

the Old Reservoir in Bedford

somewhere around there is a red water bottle...

Today it was too hot to do any hiking, or really anything at all, except go to a pond that we'd want to jump into. Other people had the same idea, so we were able to meet up not only with friends but with Grandma too! It was a great time, and all three boys—and their friends too—put in some quality swimming practice. Lijah was particularly impressive in how comfortable he is with the water: he just lay there chillin, with his hands on the bottom and the rest of him floating comfortably... He'll figure out how to swim before his big brothers if they don't hurry up!

Mama watching Lijah as he comes pretty close to really swimming

like a fish to water

Leah got to do some swimming too, all the way across that big pond. Based on past performance she was a little nervous about leaving Lijah for long, with nap time approaching, but he continues to surprise: he played happily with the big kids the whole time, and didn't mind a bit about her being gone. And I was delighted to sit in the tent out of the blazing sun and watch him.

the boys and friends playing by the water, seen from some distance through the opening of the tent

everybody's happy

This time the well-earned dessert at the end of the outing was ice cream from Bedford Farms, but I was too sticky to try and take a picture. It turns out ice cream is pretty melty in this hot weather! Harvey and Zion each almost finished a kiddie cone, which is really something—Zion actually ate more of his. Lijah isn't quite there yet, and he was still happy to share with me... but the way he's going I guess pretty soon he'll be ready for his own cone too!

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