Hooray, the spring is finally here - warm, even hot, sunny and just totally awesome. And so this past week we've tried to spend as much time outside as possible. I think our record was set last Tuesday with a 4-hour monster playdate at a park.
First, we met with a friend of ours who has a son M's age. These two get along so well together (I wrote about it earlier). Boy, you should've seen them playing at the park together and in general being as happy as they could be. Then we all had a small picnic and M's friend had to go home.
We, on the other hand, didn't have to go anywhere.
So I called my friend who has a little girl M's age. They were on their way to the park. While we waited for them, we wandered off the playground and to a nearby creek. M really liked watching the water and throwing pebbles into it. There's also a nice little grassy area next to the creek and I think next time we'll just have a picnic there. (M's in his picnic stage now - wants to have a picnic every day, real or pretend one - doesn't matter).
Unfortunately, by the time they got to the park it was already lunch time. So they had lunch first (M was invited and scored a cookie and yogurt). Then he played some more. But he was already tired and it was time for us to go home by way of a nearby toy store.
The next day we met up with my friend Lana and her husband Patrick and their little almost 2-year old son for a stroll around the farmers' market. After lunch we decided to head over to the Yeats Mill for a little walk. There's no playground there, which is just fine with me. I feel that while playgrounds are great for gross motor stuff, they simply aren't designed for diverse sensory input and quiet games of discovery. So I like to mix it up a bit by going to places with no playgrounds.
M and his little friend loved the mill. We walked along the trail to the mill (saw some wild turkeys foraging just a few steps from us). It's a watermill with all the trimmings - a dam, a waterfall, a small bridge over the creek, big slimy boulders... Great place! So we walked around and took some pictures and let the kids run around.
Everything was just fine until I slipped on one of the slimy boulders, fell and pulled M with me (he was holding my hand). I got off with a light bruise and some dirt on my jeans. M wasn't so lucky. He didn't get hurt, but he fell right into the water and the slimy algea and his clothes got wet, dirty and stinky (and that's something he doesn't tolerate easily). And he got scared too.
So after the fall, he didn't want to hear anything about going around the pond. All he wanted to do was to get back to the car. So we all headed back to the parking lot.
Except, of course, him and his little friend got very interested in a water pump and splashed around a bit (with our help). Then they got busy running around an old grinding stone. Then - throwing pebbles from the picnic area into the pond. Then M started arranging the pebbles around the trash cans. Next thing I knew, he didn't want to leave and insisted that his clothes weren't wet after all!
But it started looking like rain and we pursuaded the kids to head towards the little visitors' center where they got to rock in the rocking chairs on the big porch. Now, this little visitors' center has a little museum, all about Yeats Mill, with an old hand-crank machine for cleaning corn off the cobs and with a short video describing mill's operations. Well, let me just say that by the time M and I left the building 30 minutes later, he was totally into corn grinding and mill operations.
We got home and assembled his marble run (ex-chocolate factory) which quickly became his corn mill. He then proceeded to explain to me and all his friends - Winny the Pooh, Tiger, Rabbit, puppy, frog and duck - the basics of mill operations: "water goes here, woosh, zoom, turn gear turn gear shift and come flour". He also kept mentioning how he fell into water at the mill, but he didn't sound scared any more, but rather proud.