Sometimes there are little things that happen that I want to pause to remember. Like today! I love my kids an absurd amount but there is one thing about them that drives me up the wall. They appear to hate being outside. We live in California – the land of notoriously perfect, 72 degree days. If it’s 73 it’s nooooooo it’s too hot!!! if it’s 71 IT’S FREEZING!!!. Each time they utter such absurdities a little part of myself dies inside. I hate it. My friend asked Abbie if she plays any sports and she said, “What are sports?” I get that we aren’t the most active family in the universe but MY GOSH peel your limp body off the couch and go build a fort, child! Anyways, I will do my darnedest to make them see how magical nature can be. Today we peered outside and I thought, enough with these backyard shenanigans… let’s go on an adventure! There are SO many gorgeous hikes and trails around us and yes, they terrify me because every. single. time. we venture out on one, there are an insane amount of tears and protests to the beauty that surrounds. Today, however, there was something in the air. It was crisp! The birds were singing! The light was dancing through the fall leaves and Abbie actually exclaimed “THIS IS SO FUN!” We moseyed by a stream, making our way through the beautiful woods… I could even hear Abbie practicing her memory verse… “He leads me by peaceful streams…” MY HEART ABOUT BURST. There were so many exclamations on the beauty and fun they were having! And then. Abbie tripped over a root and landed in a patch of poison oak. We climbed over a fallen limb and almost stepped on a mouse that appeared to be convulsing and struggling for his little life. The horrified screams began. The trail got smaller and the hills got steeper… we decided to head back in search of a better trail that did not include injured animals and poison leaves. I knew if we could just get across the creek, I could see what looked like such a better trail! There was convincing. There was wetting of pants. There was more crying. But then, my scared little girl became so brave! She took off her shoes and headed across the shallow rocks! There were more exclamations of the fun she was having! My heart soared! And then plummeted as the shallow bit ended and in we both went, mid calf into the very cold stream. The pants were wet. The tone had changed. This was now a horrible idea that led only to talk of “NEVER HIKING AGAIN!” We made it up the steep bank, wet and now covered in mud, we learned that in nature, it’s okay to get a little dirty! And that a bath awaited at home. Hey, I might have even thrown in promise of cake! We tried another trail that was littered with belongings… thoughts of the red capped killer danced across my mind but instead of ending this sad adventure with, sorry we crossed the river to hang out with the homeless, I tried one last attempt to make the memories happy. There was a tree. There were leaves. We made a pile and jumped. There were some balancing acts on logs and once again the mention of fun was murmured. So we called it a day, headed back down the steep steep hill, came to the icy stream, the wailing began again, and in we all went, all three kids somehow placed on my giant birthing hips, shoes and all… you know? Something happens in adulthood where the magic leaves. Nature is dirty. Things are impractical. Christmas is expensive. Part of the joy of having kids is getting to experience a little bit of that all over again. Christmas is all sorts of magical getting to see it through your kids eyes. The impracticalities of life often lead to opportunities of such tremendous wonder – slowing down enough to see things you surely miss every single day. And nature… oh yes it’s dirty but taking the plunge and treading through that water, shoes and all? I can’t remember the last time I had that much fun! So even if my kids have sworn off voluntary nature excursions for the rest of their lives and changed their tune from never hiking again to never WALKING again… one might call it an utter failure… but this momma literally just got her feet wet again and can’t wait to do all the nature things! Buckle up Nettles Three! You’re about to get all sorts of dirty!