Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Some Good, Old-fashioned (free) Springtime Fun

Our family is inspired by the outdoors.  My husband and I often reminisce of our camp working days when we spent 99.9% of our lives outdoors, soaking up the sun and getting bitten to death by mosquitoes.  Regardless of the incredible drain of camping ministry, there is something invigorating about waking up and walking out into the cool of the morning and spending your entire day in the great outdoors.  To this day, our family relaxes best when we are outside.
(Yep. That's Teacher Man.  I got the studly counselor.)

Thanks to the warm-up in the weather, we've been outside a lot and have rediscovered so many good things through the eyes of our three year old, Caleb.  Here are some of his favorite activities:

Hide and Seek
Though we've been playing this game indoors for months, it's no where near as fun as it is when you can hide behind bushes and rocks,

Bird Watching
I'm not the girl to ask if you want to know what the name of every bird is.  That would be my mother.  Through her, Caleb has discovered the world of birds and now points out every bird he sees, what he thinks they are doing, and what he thinks they are saying.  I love his imagination.  I'm pretty sure the world of Beatrix Potter has something to do with his assigning a personality to every creature.

Bike Rides
We love to throw the kids into their seats on the backs of our bikes and ride around the local college or park.  Ben smiles incessantly as long as we are going, and sometimes these bike rides are the best uninterrupted conversations I have with Teacher Man.

Tricycle Rides
Nothing like a good walk with the little listening ears a few paces ahead.  Caleb loves the independence of pedaling around the college.  We love the privacy of an adult conversation while we push Ben around after his brother.

Flower Hunts
I know I have boys... tough, dirty boys; but I see nothing wrong with teaching our men to appreciate beauty in nature.  Caleb right now looks for wildflowers along the road and then gives his little brother a lesson on colors by picking a few blooms to let Ben sniff and telling little brother all about them.

No clue what the fascination is, but my boys (to make up for their Ferdinand-like tendencies) have spent hours in the last couple of weeks digging in the gravel of our driveway and getting hopelessly dirty.  Sometimes they have shovels; other times they're hard at work with their own two hands.  This always ends in a royal, muddy mess; but I love it.

Library Trips
Just because it's sunny does NOT mean we've abandoned our local library.  We try to make weekly or biweekly trips to the library for the whole family's sake.  Right now the library is displaying books about gardening and plant growth.  What a great way to dig deeper into the knowledge the boys are already absorbing from our hours spent outside!  Today I picked up a book called i love dirt!.  I loved the title at first sight and enjoyed the author's 52 ideas (divided by season for convenience) for helping your children appreciate creation.

I'm pretty sure that future library trips will include checking out a few field guides as my big boy must know the name of  every plant, tree, and bird that he sees.

Park Dates
If you have small children, you've probably been to your local park several times this year.  Some days I feel like we live at our local park, which also has a great petting zoo.  In a world of screens and technology, it is priceless to watch my boys stare at the animals with fascination and climb all over the playground.  The park has also saved me a lot of lunch clean-up lately.  Picnic at the park. Brush the crumbs on the ground for the birds. Don't worry about cleaning your dining room and kitchen.  This is my kind of plan.

The Swing
By the end of the summer, I'm convinced that this swing is going to teach my children (at least my oldest) to take turns.  The boys run outside whenever we're willing to let them ride in the swing, and I do mean ride.  That thing flies!

Well, that's enough time spent inside for now.  My littlest is awake.  Maybe I'll give him a break from taking turns and just give him a swing date by himself.  Enjoy the sunshine!

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