Hiking with Kids:: Fallsview Canyon Trail::Olympic National Forest

Sadie crawled in bed with me early this morning to snuggle. She said “Mom, do I have to school today?”

“Nope, we’re going for a hike! But please, don’t share that with your brother (he has to go to kindergarten)”

So of course, she blurts it out over the breakfast table. Haden looked at me with the saddest eyes, as if to say “it’s not true, right mom?!?” And I looked back at him with heartache. He pulled the cereal box in front of his face and started to silently sob.

“Of course you can go with us, buddy! I’ll call the school now to let them know!” His face lit up and he jumped up to pack his bag for the hike ahead.

Cruising down the highway, we did a U- turn to the ranger station before we entered the National Forest. We picked up the essentials- a map, a safety whistle, and of course, two pair of Smokey the Bear binoculars for the expert wildlife observers.

The Fallview Canyon Trail is just past the entrance to the National Forest near Quilcene. It used to be an operating campground, but doesn’t appear to have been up and running for a few years now.

The trail itself is just to the left of the campground. It starts with quite a few switch backs, where I helped the kids in several parts to navigate because of the somewhat slippery gravel. Once you get to the bottom, you have a great view of the river.

The trail itself follows the river and goes to a 1/2 mile loop near the end. It is a fairly easy route with a small elevation gain (I believe around 475ft). The entire length of the trail is 1.3 miles.

My kids mostly spent the time collecting the fuzzy ends of ferns, because they decided they were really cool and worth collecting. The other half was mostly arguing about who got to be the leader- such is life with siblings.

But perhaps my favorite part of being in nature with them is all of the questions! A lot of them I don’t even know myself- like really, is that a banana slug? Why is it called that? Does it really taste like a banana? Why is it harder for girls to pee outside? Why do people glitter (aka litter)? Where do bears sleep? What exactly IS moss?!?

Burning questions, these two come up with! And to think- no service in the mountains to consult with Mr. Google!

Food is key motivation when hiking with kids, so making a goal of getting to a certain point before we ate lunch was key. This lunch was on a log bench overlooking the river. We ate strawberries and cheese and turkey and talked about what decomposing meant. They asked me how many rings I’d have if I was a tree (29, of course!). I made them crowns from ferns while they used their binoculars to spot birds in the trees.

We really had such a good time on the trail. They still don’t really get why mom makes them walk in the forest to no apparent real destination, but I think the more we do it the more they find enjoyment in it. I’m happy and proud to say I’m cultivating the love of outdoors in them at such an early age. I am so excited for all of our future hiking adventures to come!

Ode to the Hot Mess Mom

I once dropped a chunk of deli turkey on my newborn babies cheek while eating a sandwich one handed and nursing. I just plucked it right off and ate it, and he kept on sleeping. 
When Haden was 6 weeks old, I did an event with my moms work where I sold some products of which will not be named. Looking back now, I was just desperate to do anything other than caring for a baby for a little while, so I gave the salesperson thing a stint. What I didn’t really remember was how incredibly exhausted I was and how incredibly overwhelming just simply caring for a newborn was. Halfway through the day, I ran to the restroom to change his diaper. When I emerged I saw my mom mingling with some co workers and walked over to chat. My mom stopped me and said “nicole, you have poop all over your arm”- sure enough, I had washed my hands but somehow missed my arm. 

Oh the joy I take in being a hot mess mom. Seriously guys, I used to be embarrassed. I used to live in fear that someone would see the coffee stain on my shirt or scoff at my messy bun. I used to worry that I’d lose friends if they showed up unannounced at my house and they saw the disaster that existed within it. 

But yeah, that got old pretty quickly. 

Now my kids are older. And today Haden, on his way to kindergarten, said to me “mom, what if my friends laugh at my big bag of cereal?” (He had packed himself his own snack- a halfway filled gallon size bag of cheerios). I said “yeah, well, they might. But, you can laugh too. Because, honestly it’s funny. And then you can just accept that it’s gunna get the job done: you likely won’t be hungry after that snack.”

Here’s the deal my hot mess friends: maybe it’s messy, maybe it’s a little amusing, and maybe people laugh. But by golly, we get this mom job done and we do it well. So give yourself some credit! 
So yeah, maybe I can’t drink from a normal coffee mug (please give me a lid and straw) and maybe my car looks like a dumpster, but my kids know that my spontaneity and ability to not really care for things to be perfect, means their mom is likely to not say no to a last minute adventure. They know that I’m not one to turn down an art project even if we forget to do the laundry first. They know that maybe even if my ducks aren’t in a row, were still loving our crazy, messy, beautiful life. 

The truly awesome thing about us hot mess moms, is that when we can embrace ourselves, we can teach our kids to do the same. We can teach them to find those people who love us for exactly who we are. 

Those are the people who value authenticity and honesty. Those are the people worth investing in. 

So here’s to you, my hot mess mom friends. Find what you do well, embrace the heck out of it, and laugh at the rest. Your heart will be happy and so will theirs. 

Camping is hard & why it matters 

It was 6am and I was fast asleep hovering just a few feet off the ground with the bed of our 1990 Coleman camper to support me, just a slab of sturdy plywood and frame and a thin layer of foam that I consider a camping luxury. I fell asleep that night before snuggled up with my 6 year old at my side, anticipating dad at some point to crawl in on my other side, once his fireside game with the other campers was complete. A sweet auntie snuggled my little girl across the way in the other bed, having a sleepover with us since she was back from college for the weekend. 

6:30 began to roll around, and I wake up to a soft voice saying “Mom, a little help please” and turn to see that Haden had actually physically fallen out of the camper. We apparently had forgotten to secure the straps underneath that keep the canvas and bed together, and Haden had rolled over in his sleep and fallen out of the crack. He’s usually quite the dramatic one, so wasn’t quite sure if he was still semi sleeping when he woke me up to ask for help to pull him out of the crack, where just his head was popping through. I sat up immediately and grabbed him up and tucked him under close to me, and his dad and I burst out laughing at the fact that we just almost lost a kid out the side of our camper, but mostly at his calm reaction to it all. 

Why do I love camping with my family so much? I’ve really stopped to consider this lately. Because, to be quite frank with you, camping, especially with children, is a heck of a lot of work. I often spend my days camping doing honestly the exact same things I’m doing at home: waking up, cooking, cleaning up, and then starting that process all over again. Just this past weekend, I spent a solid 45 minutes giving both my children sponge baths because they both had accidents- I strongly suspect it’s because they were too busy playing to stop to use the bathroom. 

I always tuck them into bed at night after a long day of playing at the campground,  covered in dirt, with remnants of sticky marshmallow goo on their fingers. They smell like campfire and mud, and I’m picking leaves and sticks out of their hair. 

It’s work, this camping thing. 

But as I’m rounding in on turning 30 within the year, I’m seeing more and more the exceptional experiences that come from hard work. They are richer and more vibrant. Their roots are deeper. And most of all, the result of hard work is almost always a particular stronger amount of appreciation for the moments that come afterward. 

In short, I’d choose the vibrant experiences and appreciation that derive from hard work any day. 

Because at the end of a long camping weekend, as I’m tossing our stained and dirty clothes into the dryer, unpacking the cooler, and rolling up the sleeping bags, I don’t remember how hard it all was. I remember the way I looked over from the campfire and saw my kids making forts in the dried up riverbed. Or the way Haden’s face lit up when he succeeded in making the perfect roasted marshmallow. Or the warmth of Sadie’s little body as we warmed up by the fire that evening. 

Lots of things in life are hard work. Hard work gives us perspective. And perspective is a beautiful way to appreciate our rich and wonderful life. 

Gloria+Tonya::Mama+Kid Travel Adventures::New York City 

I am so excited to share my first post in my series about Mama+Kid Travel Adventures! If you’d like to read more about the heart behind this project, you can read that here. 

Tonya from Detail Orientated Traveler first wrote to me saying

“When I did these trips with my kiddos, I really wasn’t thinking of it as solo adventure with kids. Just, here’s a trip, let’s go! I think this will be an inspiring piece, can’t wait to see it!” 

I totally love that she said this. I think it’s going to be so fun to recognize and get inspired by these travel stories of moms and kids!

Read on to hear about 11 year old Gloria and her Mama Tonya’s trip to New York:

“My name is Tonya Denmark, and my daughter Gloria is 11 years old. She and I are performers at heart and share a love of the stage. She’s a book nerd and loves to read non-stop, which I love about her. She’s at the perfect age to discuss bigger ideas (but not too big) and still have a need for her mom. We are very close.

Where did you travel and for how long? 

We traveled to Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York City for a little over a week.

What prompted your adventure? 

Gloria had a choir competition in Rhode Island, so we extended our trip on either side with a visit to family in Connecticut and NYC to hit Broadway.

What was your most special memory on your trip?

Wandering through Central Park, with no real plans for the day other than to see as much as week could. Just stopping wherever and taking pictures, getting a bit lost, and enjoying the fall colors. We don’t get to slow down much in our busy lives and this was a nice way to have no plans for the day. As we live in the south, we also don’t get to see leaves change and she enjoyed the difference in climate.

What did you find challenging about traveling with your kid(s)? 

It’s challenging to be the only adult, and the only set of eyes on her and her safety. Especially in a big city where we don’t know the area, it’s not always easy to take a moment to figure things out geographically with eyes on a map/phone and not on the child. 

Why is traveling with kids important to you? 

Showing my children different cultures, different experiences is important. However, spending quality one on one or one on two time is just as important. When we get away from our daily busy lives we get to focus on our child(ren) and what they see, learn and experience.

Do you have any other mama/kid adventures planned? 

My son, age 13, and I are planning a trip to Boston. I also plan to road trip with both my kids next summer.
Thanks so much for sharing Tonya! If you’d like to read more about Tonya’s adventures and some amazing tips on travel, check her blog out at Detail Orientated Traveler! I’d love to have a follow up on your time with your son to Boston, Tonya!

If you are interested in being featured for a solo Mama+Kid adventure you’ve taken, please email me at letsgolovely@gmail.com!

Looking for Adventurous Travel Mamas! 

Over the past week, I’ve been looking for mamas to interview and feature who have traveled solo with their kids or kiddos. I wanted to share a little bit of my heart and reason behind this specific feature I’d like to start on the blog. 

Kellen and I (the hubby) have been married for almost ten years now, and we’ve done a lot of growing and learning over those ten years. He’s known from the very start what he was getting into: he married a slightly crazy, wanderlust obsessed wannabe world traveler. In fact, he spent a good portion of two months when I had just turned 18 on long distance phone calls with me while I was exploring Austria trying to convince me to marry him :). Ok, it didn’t take much convincing- the fact is, I was head over heels for the guy and he knew it. We got married just over a year later and then one year after that we ventured to do a backpack trip through Europe.

He’s always supported my dreams of travel and adventure the best he could, usually depending on our slim newlywed budget. As we’ve gotten older, he’s continued to be down for more camping and international travel when time and money allowed.

However, ask kellen today what he’d do if someone handed him 100k? You’d be surprised to know our answers are very different: mine, of course, would be to see as much of the world as money would last me. His? Well, probably a really nice fishing boat 🙂

What I love best about Kellen and I is that we’ve managed to figure out a way to allow us to each support and cultivate our individual dreams. Sometimes it comes in the form of one of us choosing to do something we wouldn’t necessarily choose ourselves, and other times it’s encouraging the other person to get away by themselves to do what brings them joy. 

It’s taken a while to get to this place, and trust me, we’ve had our share of bumps and hiccups along the way. We aren’t perfect, but what we do share is a mutual understanding and desire to see our partner genuinely happy. And I am very, very thankful for that. 

With that being said, I can recognize that my travels will not *always* be with kellen by my side. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, right? And just as much, it makes those adventures he chooses to join in on that much sweeter. It’s a win-win, in my book. 

So where does that leave me? Well, luckily we brought two super awesome mini-me’s into the world that we both get the chance enjoy our hobbies and passions with! Kellen dreams of watching his kids reel in a fish or help him fix up his old 1950’s rat rod. I dream of all the places I will take them. 

So motherhood then creates in me a brand new layer of dreams, one where I get to share that sense of adventure with them. 

Haden and I embarked on our first solo mama-son trip this past february to the nearby city of Vancouver. It was both challenging and exciting traveling alone with a 5 year old. It brought moments of growth for both of us (especially me) and allowed us special time together that I wouldn’t change for any other moment in time. It was, to put it simply, the perfect first adventure. 

So you can see now my heart behind why I’m hoping to find other like minded mamas with a desire to travel with their kids. These kind of moms inspire and motivate me to dream big dreams that includes their little ones. Because giving a kid that piece of time, that sense of wonder, and those kind of experiences are, in my opinion, likely the best kind of gift a mother could give. 
If you yourself or you know of a mama who you’ve seen take a special trip or adventure with their kids, please send them my way! I’d love to talk with them about their experiences and share with my other readers the inspiration they bring! Email me at letsgolovely@gmail.com 

Seriously though, where can I find a turtle shell? 

Legit thoughts in motherhood this past week: 
I imagine turtles were once lizards that were just moms who decided they needed to protect their vital organs because their children bounced on them all of the time. I often feel I need a shell. Curling into a fetal position is my only attempt at protecting my vital organs. It is becoming ever apparent that my kids want to squash my kidneys or something. They are like flying squirrels who seem to think I am the fluffiest landing pad they can see (ok, I see their reasoning now.)

Me, saying goodbye to a fully functional organ: 

Serious question though: how bad of a parent would I be if I refused to intervene during all sibling fighting except when things got physical? Like seriously, is that being a really bad parent OR A really good parent? I mean obviously it has to build some kind of conflict resolution skills, right? The jury is still out on this. Only accepting input from other moms who also want to occasionally lock themselves in closets with a bottle of wine.

My kids displaying their natural primate behavior:

This meltdown brought to you by asking him to get his shoes on (it’s tough, ok?!?):

I guess the real concerning question on my mind is this: why and when did my children decide that this is an acceptable way to take a photo? 

Oh excuse me, I forgot about this completely over executed pose:
But seriously just when my head is about to explode into a million pieces and I dial their daddy to talk me down, this happens:

And I remember that OH.MY.LAWD I love these two tiny crazy people more than life itself!! Sometimes, I just need a strong cup o coffee and a whole lotta love ❤️