Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

And We Are Off to the Great NW!

July 26, 2018


Things are a little crazy around the farm these days and the lists are long.  Saturday morning, I’m embarking on a first for the National Ladies Homestead Gathering….a 10 day trip to the Pacific Northwest to visit several of our west coast chapters. We’re concluding our trip with a stop at the Mother Earth News Fair in Albany, Oregon.  I’ll be teaching two classes, “Women in Homesteading, the Need for Community” and “Simplify Your Homestead Plan.”  (If you’re in the area, please stop by!)

Many months of planning have gone into this trip and Trina and I are super excited to get started!!  (Trina is my very dear friend from VA and she’s also on the National Board.  Trina’s never been to the PNW and I’m so happy i get to introduce her to this gorgeous part of the country.)  I’ll add our itineraries so you can follow along on our journey.  Because the National Ladies Homestead Gathering (NLHG) is a young non-profit, we’re working on a shoestring budget.  I want to thank those who have been instrumental in making this trip possible.

First thanks to Diona Fredo!  She’s a flight attendant with Southwest and her volunteer hours with LHG granted us one round trip ticket.  Huge savings for us as we travel to the west coast.

Our first stop – Portland, Oregon!  Dave, my husband, grew up just outside of Portland and his mom and sister are still there.  We’ll be staying with them the first night.  Big thanks to my in-laws for allowing us to stay with them in their beautiful home.  It will be great to see them and I so appreciate not having to stay in a hotel 🙂  AND that’s not all!  My sister-in-law, Carolyn, has offered for us to use one of her cars!  Seriously!  We’re going to be traveling hundreds of miles up and over mountain ranges and she is gifting us the use of her car.  I was blown away.  She saved us over $700 in car rental fees.  Huge thank you, Carolyn ❤

A dear friend, and an NLHG Chapter Board member, sent us a Starbucks gift card (as she said, How can you be at the mothership and not get coffee?!)  (and Trina doesn’t drink coffee….more for me??!)  She also sent a $100 visa card for any travel expenses we may run into during our travels.   So incredibly grateful for this gift!!

On Sunday, we stop to visit with one of our new NLHG Chapters in Cowlitz County.  So excited to meet these ladies and to be there in person to answer any questions they may have about running a brand new chapter.

After our time with the ladies of the Cowlitz Chapter, we head north to Silverdale, WA to spend the night with my brother and his family.  Dual purpose visit – I haven’t seen him & his family in 4 years!!  AND it saves us a hotel bill.  (Thanks Kev for putting us up for the night and I can’t wait to see you!)

And then the next day……

You’ll just have to wait and see!  I’m bringing my computer to blog when I have a minute and for sure Trina and I will be posting lots of pictures.

For me, this is a sentimental “going home.”  Outside of GA, WA was the longest place i’d ever lived.  Five of my six children were born there.  We still have so many great friends who live there. (And I’m so sorry there’s not more time to see you all!  Next trip, I promise 😉

This trip is also a “pinch me!” journey.  We have NLHG chapters popping up all over the country, especially out in this area.  I still shake my head when I remember the very first meeting we had as Lazy B Farm Ladies Homestead Gathering seven years ago.  I never would have imagined I’d be where I am today!  One day at a time, one step at a time, one woman at a time until this beautiful tapestry of a community evolves.  Simply incredible!


Creative Alternative??

October 24, 2011

I finally finished the scarf I’ve been working on!!

I was able to get a lot of it done yesterday at the festival where I had a booth.  Once Megan got there, around lunch time, I handed over the reins and sat in a chair to knit.  I do find it very difficult to just sit and knit but since I didn’t have any other responsibilities, I thought it would be the perfect time to work on this scarf.

It’s true – knitting does get faster the more you do it and pretty soon I was zipping along….

well, maybe not zipping, but faster than I had been!

I was so close to finishing and we had to tear down the booth and head home.

Later, the kids wanted to watch a movie – I wanted to go to bed but then I remembered the scarf.

Of course I’ll watch the movie!!

And I finished knitting the scarf –  pleased with how it turned out.

However, there’s one slight problem…

I don’t know how to get it off the knitting needle.

So, being the constant problem solver that I am, I decided perhaps the knitting needle would look good as a fastener for the scarf!

What do you think!!?

A Few Kind Words…

October 3, 2011

Last week, a good friend of mine called one morning.

No particular reason except to say I was being thought of at the time.

My friend went on to give me one of the greatest gifts that day… words of encouragement and support for what I do as a mom and with the farm.

It wasn’t a long phone call – a few moments perhaps.  But moments that stayed with me the rest of the day and made me smile.

Those kind words lifted my spirits, gave me strength in decisions that had to be made, and best of all, let me know that I meant something to someone.

And what was the cost to my friend?

The breath to speak those words and the courage to act on what the heart was prompting.

Why is it we’re often afraid to say a few kind words to others?  Those kind words are a gift from the heart, wrapped in love.

And the ripple effect of those words is endless.

I know I spoke more kindly to my children, looked for opportunities to boost someone else’s spirits the way mine had been, and was grateful to have a friend who took the time to share kind words with me.

So unexpected, unpretentious, so heartfelt.

Since my children were small, I have worked with them on finding something good to say to others. We practice in the check out lines at stores.  I’ve told them, even if it’s just that you like their necklace, tell them so and watch…

A smile, eye contact, a kind word, and then – the transformation of the face behind the counter.

It’s fun and it costs us nothing but the breath with which to speak the words.

My mother in-law gave me this advice early on when my children were young…

“Cyndi, you’ll have to say ‘no’ so many times to children that you must constantly be on the look out for the opportunities to say ‘yes’.”

I took this to heart and worked at it, often turning a negative situation into a positive so I could say yes.

I try to take this same approach with others.  Why is it we find it easier to be critical instead of uplifting?  Instead of speaking something that would tear down a person, I try to find something positive to lift them up.

Yeah, it’s a little intimidating and makes me feel vulnerable but I like the results.

And if the kind words are scoffed or ridiculed, I know that person really needed them!

But that rarely happens…instead, there is a softening in the person’s countenance and a genuine smile lights up their face or a thank you is spoken.

All people, no matter the age or status, want to know that they matter…

And a few kind words can fulfill that wanting.

I know because my friend gave me the gift of encouraging, uplifting words and it made my day.

The cost of the gift?  The breath of life and a voice to speak…

What a difference those words made for me.

Thank you, my friend.

Ever Seen One Of These By Your Beehive?

September 15, 2011

I was working my hives the other day and had a visitor…

For some reason there seems to be a greater abundance of these creatures this year.

As with everything else this year, we’ll blame it on the weather.

Better yet, we’ll call him an opportunist!

This the Giant Robber Fly or “Bee Killer” and they feed on honey bees and other insects.

But because the honeybee supply is so abundant and accessible here, they are called “Bee Killers”!

They’re fast when they snatch a bee out of the air and they’re very noisy so it’s easy to know when these insects are around.

However, they have eternal patience while they wait for just the right moment.

Grab and Go meals 🙂

I like the fact that these are predatory insects, just not wild about the fact that around here their prey are my bees.

Here’s some other interesting information about the Giant Robber Fly:

There are over 7,000 species of robber flies world wide; nearly 1,000 in North America.

All robber flies have stout, spiny legs, a dense moustache of bristles on the face (mystax), and 3 simple eyes (ocelli) in a characteristic depression between their two large compound eyes. The mystax helps protect the head and face when the fly encounters prey bent on defense. The antennae are short, 3-segmented, sometimes with a bristle-like structure called an arista.

The short, strong proboscis is used to stab and inject victims with saliva containing neurotoxic and proteolytic enzymes which paralyze and digest the insides; the fly then sucks the liquefied meal much like we vacuum up an ice cream soda through a straw. Many species have long, tapering abdomens, sometimes with a sword-like ovipositor. Others are fat-bodied bumble bee mimics; the effect is quite convincing.

Garden Walk – May 19, 2011

May 19, 2011

My cabbages are coming along nicely so far.  The weather’s been perfect but it’s supposed to hit the 90’s by the weekend.  Since cabbages are a cool weather crop, we’ll see how they hold up.  I was really  hoping to make sauerkraut this year!

Pulled quite a few cabbage worms off of them this morning.  Wasps will also eat the worms but I thought I’d lend a hand!

So far, I like the cucumbers on the bed frame…

It does require a bit more time for tying up the plants.  I’ve gotten 3 cukes out of here so far.

Remember these eggs from the last post?  Well, they finally hatched…

Thank goodness for the micro setting on my camera.  I honestly couldn’t see them.

After seeing these pics, I do believe these are Ladybug larva and they consume more aphids than an adult Ladybug.  This particular tomato plant had quite a few aphids on the leaves.

These eggs still have not hatched but they went from being clear to this greyish-brown color.  I’ll keep checking…

It’s the end of the season for this lettuce.

I pinched out the middle so they wouldn’t bolt and it’s helped them last longer.  Don’t they look like little trees?

I have to say, this is my first year for growing Kale and I love it – both the look and the taste.  It will definitely become a regular in the garden from now on.

My Mother’s Day Gift

May 10, 2011

I wish this blog began with a cute little story about how my kids made me pancakes and eggs and woke me up with breakfast in bed; how we snuggled and laughed in my queen size bed; how we told stories and then got ready for church and attended as a family…

But it’s not.

Mother’s Day 2011 will forever be a special day of remembrance for me and for my family… a weekend of sobering life lessons.

Let me go back a few weeks to give full understanding of why this particular Mother’s Day is so significant.

Spring is the busiest time of the year at the farm with classes and events, planting, baby animals who need a bit more care, intensity with beekeeping, homestead tours, and the general everyday up keep that comes with spring time.

Spring also means the beginning of the end of a school year for each of the kids – final exams, drama productions and extra rehearsals, a myriad of extra errands, and the added anxiety and excitement of being finished with school.

In the midst of all of this, Dave had the amazing opportunity to travel to Brazil with Crown Financial to document the trip through the lens of a camera – both photography and videography.  Dave was away for almost 3 weeks.

I knew what was ahead for me for the month of April and I took on the challenge with my usual “no big deal, I can handle this” attitude.  I’m not afraid of work, in fact, I love to work.  Often I will push myself to the limit, recharge, and start over again.

However, by the end of April, I was hitting the wall of exhaustion.  I set my eye on Mother’s Day knowing that Dave would be returning, the kids would be completely finished with school, farm classes and events would be concluded until June, and at this point, I could finally recharge.

By Friday last week, I was more than ready for the change in schedule and really looking forward to a slower pace.  The last month and a half was truly the hardest I had ever pushed myself and the 3 -4 hours of sleep at night was beginning to take its toll.

Friday last week was an early morning – I had to finish preparing for a pre-school homestead tour at the farm.  After a fantastic tour with 17 preschoolers, siblings and parents, my kids and I and a friend of theirs who had spent the night, were going over to another farm to help put in posts for an arena.  First, I dropped the kids off and headed to another farm to check on my bees and take care of animals since the owner of this farm was out of town.  Finished the bees and headed back to the other farm to help with posts.  4:30, got Ali, left Megan and Michael, and drove into Athens to meet Lauren.  She and Ali were going to go shopping and out to dinner – girls’ night!

After I met up with Lauren, I drove back out to the country to meet up with a friend for dinner.  She was delayed.  I didn’t mind – I walked around the square, looked in windows and realized it had been a long time since I’d been by myself with nothing to do for a few minutes.

My friend arrived and we went into the restaurant for dinner.  We had a wonderful time talking and visiting…..

Toward the end of the meal, I felt “funny”, like someone had drugged my food.  My tongue felt weird and my speech didn’t sound right to me.  I was dizzy and light headed, my right arm tingled and felt a little numb.  I mentioned to my friend that something was up.  We decided to go.  It was difficult to walk to the counter to pay for dinner, I could hardly hold the pen to write my name.  It all seemed so surreal.

I kept thinking, “It’s not my left side, I should be alright.”

My friend drove me back to her place – it was about a mile away.  I lay down and rested for a while.  All the symptoms went away – my tongue taking the longest to subside.  I still had to go pick up the kids from the farm where we’d been working and then drive home – about an hour or so of driving and it was close to 11pm already.

I called another friend when I got in the car and told her what had happened…

“Have you talked with Catherine yet?”

“No, it’s late.  She drove to Greenville and back today and I’m sure she’s in bed.”

“Hmmm.  I really think you should run this by Catherine and just see what she says.”

“I think I’m just tired but okay, I will.”

Catherine, our eldest is a nurse.  I called her and told her what had happened.  I kept thinking, “What a difficult predicament to put her in.  I’m her mom and I’m the one who’s always taken care of the kids and now I’m asking her to take care of me, tell me what to do.”

Dave was still in Brazil and out of internet service and I really didn’t think there was any need to cause alarm, especially when I had no answers.  I really believed this was happening because I was so tired.  Except for the tongue thing – that worried me a little.

Picked up the kids and drove home.  The kids were laughing and joking and I was silently praying that nothing more would happen while I was driving.

Catherine met me at the house and by then I really felt that all I needed to do was go to bed…until I took my blood pressure.

I have a cuff at home.  Ever since my first baby, I’ve been borderline hypertensive.  My pregnancies always ended with concern over my blood pressure.  I’ve been on medication, had times when it would spike but for the most part it was under control.  I’d heard all the info – it’s the silent killer, it affects women, watch your weight, be careful with your diet….  I half- heartedly gave acknowledgement to the statistics and the warnings.  I had been taking my blood pressure meds sporadically and had noticed that my bp had gone up a little recently. I kept telling myself, Mother’s Day I will slow down and get everything for myself back on track.  Just hang on to Mother’s Day.

When I took my blood pressure at home Friday night, I realized I needed to go to the hospital.  It had spiked and I didn’t have the meds at home to bring it down.  Catherine drove me to the ER.

It was difficult leaving the kids.  It was late at night.  Dave was in a foreign country, Victoria in South Carolina.   I, the strong one, the backbone for the family at this time, was headed to the hospital – what a horrible feeling.  My kids, especially Michael, rose to the occasion and took charge at home.  Lauren was already in bed asleep because she had to work the next day.

We arrived at the hospital and Catherine knew the routine.  She mentioned a possible stroke and they whisked me away to start getting vitals.  Blood pressure was very high, EKG normal, all symptoms from earlier were gone, and I had no headache – never had had one.

They sent me for a cat scan.  Result – a small spot of bleeding on the left side of my brain.  The doctor called it a “brain bleed.”

I was told I would have to spend the night in the Neuro Unit.  I was not happy.  I wanted to go home.  They wanted to observe me and make sure my bp was going down.

Catherine stayed with me until I was settled in the room.  She left around 3:30am or so, Saturday morning.  What an incredible support she’d been – so strong.  It wasn’t until the next day that I would find out that she cried almost the whole way home and prayed for my safety. …ahh, my heart.  What a horrible burden to put on a child.

My reality check came a few hours later when the Doctor of Neurology walked in the room.  I was intent on getting out of the hospital – I wanted to be with my kids, I had jobs that weren’t finished, people depending on me.

And then she told me straight what had happened, how lucky I was, and the severity of the situation if I didn’t heed her cautions and instructions.  I broke down and cried…

My mortality stared back at me.  I could have died or been left an invalid.  My mind was reeling with questions, the precious faces of my children before me.  Oh God – why???

It’s amazing how in a split second, all your goals and dreams become rubble in the light of eternity.  All that seemed so important to me vanished as I began to comprehend the magnitude of what had happened to me hours before.

I had pushed too hard, I was not invincible, the health I had always depended on was failing me…I was devastated.

An overwhelming thought loomed before me…

If I’m dead, I can’t be there for my children, I can’t hug them and comfort them, laugh with them and cry with them, I can’t even drive them around.

If I’m dead, Dave would be a widower….

If I’m dead, the farm and all I’ve worked toward won’t exist anymore.

Sobering thoughts, emotional valleys, tears of despondency and despair.  This was my wake-up call, my reality check…

I’m for the most part, a very optimistic person.  It took a couple of hours before I could start to see the good in all of this and begin to make heads or tails of my situation.  I refused to live in fear and I needed a plan to hang onto to ensure that changes would be made.

The irony about all this is, I had been contemplating the changes that needed to be made before this incident had happened.  How many family and friends had warned me that I needed to slow down?  But the Lord knows how stubborn and hard-headed I can be and gave me a physical reminder as to why it was imperative that these changes be made sooner than later.

I discovered the greatest Mother’s Day gift as I lay in that hospital bed.   The gift of my life and taking care of myself.  If I’m not well or here, then I have nothing to give back to those that mean the most to me.

The look on my kids’ faces when I left for the hospital, the tears that flowed when Ali crawled up next to me on the hospital bed,  the desperate hugs from Megan,  the anguishing cry of Victoria on the other end of the telephone line, the emotional strain on Catherine’s face as she sat with me during the doctors’ visits, the tenderness of Lauren’s voice as she whispered in my ear, “Momzie, come home soon.”, the tired eyes of Michael from a sleepless night, the exhaustion  my kids felt because of the added stress and chores – all this was the result of my negligence to take care of myself.

Part of being a mom is self-sacrifice, putting kids and husband first at the expense of what I need or want– it just comes with the job description, right?

Not any more.  I’ve learned that the fall-out from that kind of thinking is more costly in the long run for everyone.

So together, as a family, we’re making changes – life changes.

I’m making personal life changes – changes that will affect every area of my life.  The changes won’t come quickly – it takes time to be permanent.  They won’t come all at once, that just adds stress…but they will come because my life depends on it…literally.

Change is never made in a vacuum so I will thank all my family and friends, whether near or far, for their patience as I work through the different areas that need to be dealt with.  My family will be stronger, my relationships richer, the farm and all it entails, more efficient, and my physical, emotional, and spiritual health will be greater.

Your support, encouragement, and love will be the sustaining factor in the months ahead.

And when I tell you, “I love you” – it is heart felt with a deeper understanding of the privilege it is to have breath to utter those words.  Life is a precious gift…relationships a treasure to cherish.

I am grateful for my Mother’s Day Gift – it’s not what I would have asked for but it’s exactly what I needed.

Ladies’ Homestead Gathering

December 31, 2010

When:  Every 4th Thursday of the month

Where: the Lazy B Farm    1938 Parker Drive, Statham

Time: 6:30 – 7pm    Social Time

7:00 – 9 pm    Formal Gathering


Two years ago, I had the privilege of having coffee with Dr. Hamlin, a horticulturalist and organic farming advocate.  It was with some trepidation that I shared my dreams of creating an educational homestead.  Dr. Hamlin believed in what I was trying to do, encouraged my endeavors, and gently pushed me when my fears of inadequacy began to cripple my efforts.  I will forever be grateful to her for her friendship and continued encouragement.

Every woman with a dream needs someone who believes in them and in their ability to achieve those dreams.

I’ve had countless women who’ve visited the farm and time after time they’ve shared their heart’s desire…”I want to homestead.  Where do I begin?  How do I run my homestead more efficiently?  Can I really do this and succeed?”

Because of Dr. Hamlin’s example and because homesteading is such a passion of mine, I could no longer ignore the inner voice that pushed me to provide an avenue for networking and encouragement as each of us pursues the dream of homesteading.

And so, thus began the formation of the Ladies’ Homestead Gathering.  My goal and desire is to provide a haven where we can share new ideas, celebrate victories, re-think perceived failures, and cultivate friendships with other women who are like-minded.

All women are welcome who have a dream, calling, or desire to homestead.  It doesn’t matter if you’re single or married, in the planning phase or a veteran homesteader – each one has something to contribute or gain from coming together.

When: January 27, 2011; every 4th Thursday of each month thereafter

Time: 6:30 – 7pm    Social Time

7:00 – 9 pm    Formal Gathering

**Babysitting will be available in my home during these gatherings.   The fee is $10 per child for 2 hours.

Because we have so little time together, I’m respectfully asking that no children attend these gatherings.  If you have any questions, please contact me at

Merry Christmas to All

December 24, 2010

I’m tellin’ ya, when I was pulling out all the Christmas decorations this year, I would have bet money that it was less than 12 months since I’d taken them out before.  But the calendar doesn’t lie and yep, a whole year has come and gone.

This year of 2010 has been full of incredible memories, growing pains, victories, and a whole lot of laughter.  My kids have grown another year’s worth, not just physically but in maturity and life.  It’s a funny phase of parenting I’m in right now….an elementary student to one in her professional career.

Dave and I celebrated 25 years of marriage in November….

At the close of each year, I make it a point to focus on the many, many blessings from the past year.  I have to say, all of our friends, both near and far, are up at the top of my blessings list.  Some I’ve met in person along life’s journey and others I have known through the wonder of technology.

All have had an impact on me and my family in some way or another and I thank you.

Thank you for your support and encouragement as we pursue the lifestyle of homesteading.  Thank you for comments that are written on our blog or FB farm page.  Thank you for advice and added tidbits of info that are shared with all.  Daily, I look forward to hearing from you and will often go to the farm page first when I come to my computer 🙂

I love sharing what happens here at the farm, hoping and praying the stories of the antics of the animals or kids will  bring a smile; wishing that some of the info that’s shared will bring success to someone else in their homesteading.

And so, at the close of this year, I wanted to thank you all for being a part of my life here at the Lazy B Farm.  I’ve so appreciated all of you who have trekked out to our farm for one reason or another.  I’m excited about 2011 and all that’s ahead of us and I can’t wait to share it with you.

I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a blessed and contented New Year.

May your dreams begin to find a foothold in reality this new year…



In the Beginning – Part 4

November 11, 2010

The weather has finally turned cooler, the leaves are changing with the impending season of fall, and my thoughts return to the “falls” of yesteryears.  I admit that fall is by far my favorite time of year.  I’m sure growing up in New England has something to do with that love for this season!

I recently returned from a hiking trip with 2 of my girls and along the trail we were reminiscing about all the hiking we did when they were little kids.

I remember distinctly when I decided that I was going to give my children the opportunity to fall in love with the out of doors.  My friend Jan and I had taken our girls up to the lodge on Mount Rainier in Washington state to do some walking around.

It was a gorgeous day and the vistas were breathtaking.  Together, we walked along the paved pathways around the lodge.

I had Victoria in a backpack, Lauren (2) and Catherine (4) holding on to my hands.  Jan had Olivia on her back in a backpack.

Jan and I got to talking about all the hiking we had available to us and why did the fact that we had kids keep us from doing something that she and I both loved to do?!

On the drive home we decided we would start researching hikes around the area and what it would take to hike with kids.

We didn’t have a lot of money to spend on this new venture so we had to be smart about our purchases.

Jan and I each researched different hiking books.  We finally decided on a hiking book of easy to moderate hikes in the Cascades.  We also bought a book of hikes for children.  This book had some great tips about hiking with children.

Next, I went to Goodwill and bought backpacks for Catherine and Lauren – the ones who were walking!

I couldn’t afford great, expensive hiking boots for my girls so I bought the best ones at a discount shoe store.  I did want them to last for a couple of seasons since they would be passed down to the next child.  When other people found out we were hiking, they would pass their kid’s boots along to us.  It wasn’t long before we were the “go-to” family if you were looking for hiking boots.  I kept ALL sizes to be passed from child to child.

Each child had a hat, a whistle and a towel for their backpack.  They also had to carry their own lunch and water, occasionally, a special blankie.  I usually had a baby on my back and couldn’t carry all the extra stuff for them.

Jan and I decided that we would hike once a month from May – Sept.  We switched from year to year, taking turns putting the hiking schedule together.  When other friends heard about our hikes, they wanted to join us.  We handed out schedules but it was funny.  A few went once or  they wanted us to take their children with us on the hikes while they stayed home.

Wading in the water with the kids after we ate lunch. That's me in the white shirt with Michael and Victoria. Jan is behind me in the yellow shorts. Cascades, WA

We had 3 rules which all children had to obey when they hiked with us:

  1. No whining
  2. Take it in, take it out
  3. Never get so far ahead that you can’t see an adult

Sometimes when we had a large group (Jan and I were suckers for taking kids without their parents), I would make badges for the best hiker or there was a prize at the end for those children who obeyed all the hiking rules.

We had the best time and the kids were wonderful!!  Jan and I agreed that our own kids had grown so much in character from hiking.  They often surprised us with their stamina and drive and good attitudes in “not so pleasant” conditions.

Our goal - the lake. Even though the water was cold (glacier fed) we still let the kids get in if they wanted to - their choice. Cascades, WA

Some tips that helped to motivate our kids –

  1. We chose hikes that had a goal at the end – a waterfall, lake, or river
  2. I’d read that special snacks were motivators.  I would buy something they wouldn’t normally get and we would stop at different intervals to partake of the special snacks.  I.e., if it wasn’t too warm, I’d get chocolate kisses and we would stop every 20 minutes or so to eat 1 or 2.  This was used more so in the beginning when we were training them to “keep going!”
  3. Sometimes they could invite friends, although they found out quickly which friends were fun to take and which ones weren’t 🙂
  4. I’d buy special treats for lunch like juice boxes.  It didn’t take much for them to be excited about hiking until it was time for lunch!
  5. Jan and I always made a big deal about our hikes and the fun we were going to have out on the mountain.
  6. She and I each wore a whistle.  Whenever the kids heard that whistle, they were to get to us as fast as they could.  We’d have practice drills every now and then to see how the kids would do and they loved it.

Victoria had just turned 4. Mt. Rainier in the background.

Once my first two girls got the hang of what was expected for hiking, it was a snap for those that came along after.  The younger ones never questioned the rules – it’s just what you did when you hiked!

Jan and I began to learn the different flora and fauna for our area and taught the children to identify the plants and trees.  We talked with hikers we met along the trails, our kids always getting kudos for all the hiking they had done.

Michael in the left bottom corner. This is the day he hiked for 2 miles all by himself! Mt. Rainier, WA

Jan and I both homeschooled our kids and this outdoor classroom had the greatest impact!  We also used the car rides to the trailheads for teaching – spelling games, math computation contests, music with grammar lessons or names of presidents.

Discovery!! Lauren (5) squatting down, Olivia (Jan's daughter), Victoria (4) in the white shorts, and two boys I don't remember. Cascades, WA

I loved sharing my appreciation for the outdoors with my kids and it’s been wonderful to see that appreciation carried with them throughout their growing up years.  Hiking with my children when they were small had so many benefits.

I personally loved the break from being inside and sitting at the table for school lessons.  When we were walking, there were a myriad of questions, “Mommy, what’s this?  Why are the mountains so big?  What is that bird?  Where does the water go?  Where does it come from?  Why is there snow in the summer?”  It was endless… and wonderful!

Catherine - had just turned 8. Cascades, WA

I loved the exclusive time with my kids, discovering, and exploring.  I wasn’t competing with a phone or the pressures of running a household when I was out in the woods with them.  They had my undivided attention.

It was a great time to spend with my friend, Jan.  Not that we had a lot of time for any deep conversations but just the fact that we were sharing this time together made our friendship stronger.

The physical benefit to our kids – unbelievable.  One time we were hiking in the Cascades and Michael was 2.  He really didn’t want to be in the back pack so I let him walk.  He hiked for 2 miles along the trails, climbing stairs that were steep, and he never complained!  I was amazed.  Competition with his sisters started young 🙂

Michael (age 2) in the backwards baseball cap. We were crossing a marshland. Mt. Rainier, WA

One of the greatest benefits from hiking?!  Those sweet, sleepy, tired faces after a warm bath in the evening.  My kids slept great and usually slept a little longer the next morning, and that meant a little bit of cherished alone time for myself.  Well worth all the planning that went into hiking with my kids.

I know I’ve kept track of all the trails we did through the Cascades and the Olympics in WA, but my favorite way to remember is to listen to my girls and Michael tell the tales – the time we got lost and walked a few extra miles; the time we went over the mountains to Eastern WA and hiked a VERY remote trail, crossing 20 some streams and how unhappy the daddy’s were because we were out of cell service and got home late;  the time our battery died way up on the mountain and we had to make a sign to see if someone would stop to help us; the time Lauren threw up on the way to the hike because the road was too windy; playing in the lakes until it felt as those your feet would fall off because they were so cold.  Priceless, precious memories…

I highly recommend hiking with kids.  Yes, it takes a little extra planning, and yes, it takes some training to teach them proper hiking behavior but in the end, it is so worth the effort.  It’s an activity you can share with them no matter the age. The memories for both you and them will last forever.

Walking Stick

October 25, 2010

Before we began our hike to the Len Foote Inn, we needed to use the restroom.  And there, waiting in line on the fence, was a Walking Stick insect.

It was so still, making it easy to photograph.  This one was about  3″ – 4″ long.

Here’s some info on these fascinating bugs courtesy of Dave’s Garden –

They eat foliage of deciduous trees and shrubs, especially oaks and hazelnuts.

This is the head and the 2 front legs are stretched in front…

Nymphs are green.
Adult males are brown and females are greenish-brown.
They are wingless.
They can regenerate lost legs.

Females drop eggs singly. Eggs overwinter among ground litter and hatch in spring, when nymphs push open domelike ends of the eggs. Nymphs crawl up woody vegetation at night to reach edible foliage.
Males are about 3″ long and females 3 3/4″ long.

I’m guessing by the coloration that this is a male Walking Stick…

Ever seen one of these before?  According to what I read, they’re not around much during the day!