Monday, May 12, 2008

Growing an Adventurer

The girls and I have committed to having an "Adventure Day" each week all summer (not exactly an exciting title, I realize). The plan is to explore the many metro area parks, teach Maya the rules of playing in nature (primarily, don't run away from me, explore but don't eat anything, and the basics of Leave no Trace). Of course, we'll add in a few of the more spectacular playgrounds and water parks in the region, too.

The point, really, is to explore new places. I'm a creature of habit, and I really don't want to get stuck in a rut when there is so much good stuff to do!

SO on the agenda last Friday was the Ramsey County Nature Center at Tamarack.

Maya started the day with a nature collage, using pictures of things we might see on our hike. I originally hoped she would glue them in her notebook, which we could then use as a nature guide to record what we saw.

As it turns out, she wasn't interested in that, but she was incredibly enthusiastic as she glued all of the pictures on top of each other! Plus, it bought me some time to pack the diaper bag, stroller, sling, snacks, binoculars, sunscreen, and infinite other accessories critical for adventure with young kids. We're not exactly spontaneous over here!

Maya loved the frog made from recycled materials (otherwise known as garbage) that adorned the park entrance, but she was less impressed by the collection of taxidermied beavers and birds in the nature center.

When we started out on the trail, Maya kept asking when we would get to the slides. Uh oh. Then she sat down and demanded a snack.

As she snacked, I wheeled Elliot around nearby and found all sorts of interesting things that lured Maya into exploring. We counted the rings on the tree stump, we found a hollowed out tree that looked cool, and we watched a million birds flitting around. She never really finished her snack. She snarfed down an orange, grazed on some pretzels, and and polished it off with Elliot's cheerios (yes, she's big enough to eat cheerios!). We were at the park for almost two hours, and she snacked the WHOLE time. Just wandered and snacked.

On the whole, it was a great first Adventure Day. We found a new park with lots of wild space and few paved trails. We spent the morning somewhere new, but with no agenda, no time outs, and no distractions. By the end of the morning, Maya was looking for interesting things to point out to me (like a pile of sticks that she called a birds nest with cracked eggs.... awh, poor mama duck).

And Elliot slept the whole time!

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