3/17/2015

Adventuring with kids




Me and mine, we crave the outdoors. We crave the peace that the mountains bring us. We look for every opportunity to find an adventure that will, if but for fleeting moments, send us out of the classroom with a bright colored hall pass in our hands. The classroom that is filled with deadlines to meet and budgets to keep, red lights to stop at and lines to stand in, and out into the hallway of instant quiet and bliss. Winding, unpaved hallways that feel like they could lead to anywhere we want them to go. We have to return to the classroom eventually, we know that, but it doesn't matter. Give us the weekend. Give us an evening. Give us an hour in the day. Give us a time where we can pretend to leave the world behind and follow a pathway into our unchanging rock of a world that we love with all of our hearts.

Dan and I had children knowing full well, while not actually knowing anything at all, the weight and responsibility that having children would entail. We chose to bring these little people into the world and to raise them in our home. We chose it knowing, while not actually knowing at all, how heavy a task it would be to perform. But when we made the decision to bring these sweet little souls into the world with us, we also made the decision to give them a life of adventure. We wanted adventures together forever and ever. We swore we would never be "those people" who never went anywhere because it was too much work once you had kids. We would never be that. We knew it would be hard, while actually not knowing anything at all.

The truth we have found is this: you can have kids and still live life. Did you know that? It's true. You can have kids and still do all of the things that are to be done in the adventurous world. You can hike, you can bike, you can kayak, you can rock climb, you can snowshoe, you can ski. But it will take ten thousand times more patience and awareness, while also the ability to cope with some failures and things not going quite as planned. It will be much more work. It will sometimes be discouraging and it will never be the easier thing to do.

But it will almost always, if not truly always, be worth it.

Packing up the car has turned into an art. Really it's an adventure in and of itself. It's a process. First it's the diaper bag for diapers, wipes, toys, blankets. And then the backpack for snacks. Cheerios for the babe, granola bars and juice packs for the boy, bananas and protein bars and pepsi cola for the parents. Don't forget to fill up the water bottle! Put it in the side pocket, it will fit there. And then halfway through making some last second peanut butter and honey sandwiches, stop to pick up a fussy baby and GOD ALMIGHTY WHAT IS THAT SMELL?! Up the stairs, change a poopy and DOH it leaked, change his soiled outfit, new diaper, new outfit. Oh, and that reminds me, I should pack an extra outfit just in case.

Add the extra outfit to the bag, check. Hand off baby to the husband, who is organizing our supplies into the car. Now for the backpack. Another water bottle for back up, sunscreen, first aid kit. Licorice, let's add some licorice! I know it's here somewhere....there it is! Eat one now, put the rest in the backpack, check. What if we get cold? It's still early, we'll get cold. Run upstairs and grab a jacket for me, a jacket for Dan, a jacket for Jace, a jacket for Beck. Can't find Beck's jacket. Check all of the rooms in the house. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, WHERE IS BECK'S JACKET?! Oh hot dang, there it is. Put all of our jackets in the car, check.

Put the diaper bag in the car. Put the backpack in the car. Put boy in the car. Find leapfrog, give boy leapfrog for the car ride. Oh, you don't want your madagasar game? You want transformers? Find transformers, switch out games, check. Put baby in car. Put dog in car. Take boy back out of car because he has to use to toilet. This is a given and will inevitably happen EVERY TIME WE GO ANYWHERE so we just expect it now. Put boy back in car. Find car key. Keep looking, it's around here somewhere, keep looking.... FOUND THE CAR KEY! It was in the husband's jean pockets. Why do I always look there last, when ninety nine percent of the time that's where it is? Note to self: breathe. You're only an hour later than planned.

Get in the car. Husband starts the car and pulls out of the driveway. Shuts the garage, then stops midway because WE FORGOT THE SUNGLASSES. Run back inside. Decide to pee before we leave. Run back to the car, DOH HOLD ON I FORGOT TO GRAB THE SUNGLASSES AGAIN.

And then we are on the road. Turn up the tunes! Roll down the windows! BREATHE.

It's a tiny bit of a train wreck sometimes, but like anything, it gets better with practice. And lots and lots of patience. Packing, second to patience, is key to adventures with kids. Camping, hiking, boating, snowshoeing. Whatever the adventure is, it can be ruined in an instant if I don't pack thoroughly enough. If I ever write a book about how to do life with kids, I will dedicate the book to the art of packing correctly.

When we are out on our adventures, we never know how it will go. It could be a complete and utter disaster, which is a little misleading because when we look back on memories I don't think we've ever once actually had a true disaster. In the moment it's hard and it's stressful and it feels like a disaster, but looking back it's a memory. It's always a memory and that in and of itself is always magically wonderful.

But still. We must be prepared for things to not go as planned. Sometimes they go as planned, but sometimes they don't. Being prepared for that and ready to be patient with the situations that arise are another key to adventuring with kids.

One day we will take our boys backpacking through europe and kayaking through the grand canyon. We recognize those larger adventures are ones that can't happen at these young ages, but we also recognize that this young age is where it starts. Going up the canyon and having dinner at a campsite in the mountains instead of home at the kitchen table. Going kayaking down little bear river, slow moving and safe. Repelling at the indoor rock climbing gym. Riding bikes to the park instead of driving there. Swimming in the slow current of the river on a hot summer day. Snowshoeing an easy trail, packing Beck in the hiking backpack and watching him be mesmerized by the sights and sounds. Camping on the weekends. Our adventures right now with our boys are small on the grand scale, and some days they feel like more work than they are worth. But yet, these small adventures are exactly what we are looking for.

Learning to connect with nature is something that comes as naturally as drinking water. I think we are born with it. I think the thick of nature is where we can find the most peace in life. Teaching that to my boys is a vital element in what I want for their very core of life lessons from us as their parents. I want them to see by example and follow in our footsteps, into the wonderful world of nature and mountains and traveling. I want them to grow up in the thick of it, out of the world of computer games and netflix and ipads. I want them to find the harmony and contentment that comes from connecting with the earth as God gave it to us. I don't ever want to deprive them of that opportunity solely because packing them along was too much effort to put forth.

Like most good things in life, it's not always easy but it's worth it.

I love our adventures together.

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