We were going to go camping this weekend, but at the last minute we decided not to go (which looking back, I wish we did!). Oh well…next weekend. But I still took Friday off to spend with the kiddos and yesterday, we headed up to Lost Lake, near Mt. Hood. It was such a beautiful day, with the mountain as the backdrop and bald eagles flying overhead. It is place to just let go and be immersed in the calm of nature. As I was driving up the mountain, looking at the farms and rural pastures at every turn, I feel so grateful to live in such an amazing place. I feel so grateful to raise my little ones surrounded by so much federal land that will be protected for them to enjoy as they grow up. Driving up the federal forest land, we passed a lot of logging and clear cuts, which concerned my kiddos. Airlie would look up at a clear cut and say, “mommy, they chopped all those trees to bark chips”! She said she hopes they replant all the trees because we need them to survive. Brycen told me about the kinkajous (a small rainforest mammal from this book) need a place to live. Then we had some conversation about the animals who depend on healthy forests, how trees produce oxygen and how important trees were for things we like to have (like their play structure) and yes, to survive. I can only hope my kids grow up with a respect for the earth because they will need to keep speaking for those trees. I have a feeling they will though…Airlie told me she wanted to hug Mt. Hood, but that she would have to give a half hug because her arms were too short to fit around it!
I had never been to Lost Lake, and it was a pretty busy day use area. But we hiked down to the water, set up our camp for the day and found a mellow place for them to enter the lake and play.
In the water, there were heaps of newts and the littles loves trying to catch them. They’d search and search, giggling with excitement. Airlie would even try and put her head in the water to look for them! Airlie finally did catch one and picked up the little newt in her hands!
The water was freezing, but the kiddos didn’t seem to mind. Their lips would turn blue, they’d warm up in the sunshine and then get back in the water. We met a sweet Portland couple with their 3 year old, Nova, which was fun to have another little one for the kids to play with. They had rented a canoe for the day and offered to take Airlie and Brycen on a (close-in!) ride. I wasn’t sure how the kiddos would do, but they absolutely loved it! I guess we know for next time they’ll be ready for paddling. Airlie and Nova got along really well. Airlie was excited to share her snack and even went to grab her towel when she saw Nova cold from the water. But….as she was willing to give her ups, she tried to snatch Brycen’s away without asking and he quickly he fell on his bum. Sweetness and sass!
The kiddos had so much! They were quite the explorers. Airlie loved climbing and jumping off the rocks, but was still a bit hesitant of swimming. Brycen finally got the courage to swim and was super stoked. On the drive back home that afternoon, they told me how much fun they had at the lake and how they wanted to go back and swim. They hadn’t been swimming since my brother’s wedding and Airlie said the next time she’d be ready and that she just has to believe in herself. TOO sweet!
As we left the lake, I asked if they’d be awake by the time we got back to Hood River to grab a slice of pizza for dinner. Brycen said from his car seat, “I’ll be awake mama, I’m just hanging out”. So cute! Well, he was and we made it to pizza before we headed on the road…even though these two looked pooped!
Lately, Airlie’s asking me about being a mama. Today, she asked again if she’ll be a mommy one day. She asked if she would have kiddos to take back to the car after swimming and get them changed in warm pjs. She also asked if I would be around when she has kiddos. I told her I would always be with her but I’d be a grandma to her little ones. She asked about Brycen, I explained he’d be the uncle to her kiddos and a daddy to his. Her little mind makes my heart grow and just want to explode with love. My favorite part of spending time with these two are our conversations. I thought they would sleep on the drive home but nope, it was giggle central in my car for over 2 hours.
As they get older, there are more questions, more conversations , more listening and more taking it all in. I learn so much about them and how my words, actions and their experiences are sinking into their hearts and minds. I feel so blessed to spend time with them and just engage with their little souls. I am their mama, but they will always be my best teachers.