Hi sweet sleeping bear and Happy 63 months! You are snuggled up in your fleece pajamas, warm in your bed tonight. The last time your wore those same fleece pajamas though, it was a different story – you were neither in bed nor warm. We were camping with our beloved Valles friends, and I’m not sure we’ve ever been so cold for so long!
I imagine part of the reason we felt so cold was the shock of it. The week before we went camping, it was still steamy and warm in Savannah. We were headed up to Enota, one of our favorite north Georgia mountain campgrounds, and I had checked the weather forecast. Sure, the forecast told me it would be in the upper 30s at night. And that was the forecast for the city near Enota – I should’ve known that meant the campground would be even colder. I should’ve known we’d need every bit of our winter gear. But I was still sweating in Savannah, and the gloves and hats just seemed ridiculous, so I left them behind.
I’m SO sorry.
So, we froze, but thankfully that’s not the camping story you will remember. This was your fourth camping adventure, and you have taken to it remarkably well. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that this campground has three in-ground trampolines, a great playground and a farm, or that you had two of your favorite playmates for company. You didn’t even complain about the cold – you were too busy camping.
And while the campground has lots of kid-amenities, what I enjoyed best was watching you, Nia and Nate just play. Forget the trampolines and playground – some of your favorite times were spent playing some game by the creek that you all called “Rocko.” Best I could tell, it involved cleaning leaves off of rocks with sticks. And according to you, it was SO FUN.
Then there were the times the three of you zipped yourselves up in the tent to play. At one point, you were dolphins being attacked by sharks, and there was much shrieking and thrashing. Followed by lots and lots of giggles. Perfect.
And then there was the night sky, the breathtaking number of stars, so clear on those crisp (freezing cold) nights. And there were s’mores. Oh the s’mores!
Sometimes camping is a hassle. Packing takes days, sometimes it rains, sometimes it’s hot, sometimes we’re cold. Sometimes the campfire wood is too damp to light. Sometimes the bugs bite.
But the trade off – to spend two days just playing, just enjoying nature – absolutely worth it.
And you agree. Despite how poorly we slept and despite how cold we were Sunday morning, you teared up when it was time to go. I thought you were crying because you were so cold, but when I asked what was wrong you said, “I don’t want to leave.”
We’ll camp again soon my love, and this time I pledge to pack the jackets if it’s going to be cold!
This last month we enjoyed another outdoor activity – running! You still like to run, organizing races any time you encounter a long stretch of open space – a park, the beach, the sidewalk in front of you. Since your passion for the sport hasn’t faded,
I decided you needed some athletic shoes.
So we went shoe shopping. We narrowed the selection down to two pair – they both fit well and were cute, so I nudged you in the direction of the purple pair because they were on sale. You obliged.
The next day I brought those shoes with me when I picked you up from school so we could run home in them. As you sat on the sidewalk, stuffing your mary janes in your bookbag and sliding on the new athletic shoes, you gushed, “Mama, I’m SO glad we got these shoes!”
“Why is that?” I asked, assuming you thought they’d make you run faster, or just because they were cute.
“Because they were the better price!” you said. THAT’S MY GIRL.
You had a chance to wear them in an official race last month – your second race! – when the YMCA hosted a 5K and a quarter-mile kiddie run. This time I decided to do the kiddie run with you so I wouldn’t miss out, and I’m so glad I did.
The race day atmosphere was a bit different this time. The previous race only had a handful of children signed up, but the start line of this quarter-miler was packed and humming with pre-race excitement. I knew from our after-school runs that you were more of a sprinter (as I imagine most 5-year-olds are). You love to take off fast, but then stop pretty quickly to rest and catch your breath. I told you it was ok to take breaks on our run if you needed to, and that everyone who crossed the finish line was a winner.
When the race began, you zoomed ahead and I actually had to speed up to catch you.
About halfway through the course though, you started slowing down and I was preparing to stop. But you kept moving, and as we entered the final stretch you even turned up the heat, passing kids in your pursuit of the finish line.
At one point, you reached up to hold my hand, and it was all I could do not to sob like a baby.
I’m not even sure why it made me so emotional, running a race with you, but it did. I was very proud of your determination, and you were proud too. “Did you see all the kids I passed?!” you said, huffing at the finish line, clutching your red participant’s ribbon.
I did see! I would have been proud of you for getting out there and racing even if you’d been the last one to cross the finish line. But something about watching you run with such determination and joy made me a very happy mama.