"We should go on a hike this weekend before it starts raining, Noah's-ark-style, for the next two weeks," I said to John.
We knew Bea would be up for it; she's always up for anything, especially if snacks can be involved and she gets mom and dad time. We were a little less sure about how Liv would feel. "There will be a stop at Rita's Italian Ice at the end," we told her. And just like that, she was in, too. (Truly, nothing like bribing your children with food...)
The hike started off well, though Liv did eat all the salami I packed and then stuffed the empty plastic bag into Bea's pocket for her to carry before we even got past the pond and neither of the girls remembered to bring their water bottles from the car. At least everyone was in a good mood.
(click any picture to embiggen)
Liv decided she wanted to be the leader while Bea and I lollygagged behind. She fearlessly led us down the trail and then completely off the trail and on course for some random stranger's house, rather than the farmhouse we needed to return to.
She also hiked as fast as she could because dammit, she was determined to get that Rita's. What she failed to consider was that no matter how fast SHE went, she was only as fast as the slowest member (Bea). She spent a lot of time waiting in various poses of (perhaps fake?) exasperation for us to catch up to her. She also spent a lot of time yelping about the mud on the path. Which, to be fair, the mud was a little gross. I half expected something swamp-monsterish to reach out and grab my ankle. But hey, it's nature. Mud lives there, so, whatever.
(Lest it sound like she had a bad attitude, she did not - she was remarkably good natured about the whole thing and mock-bickered with John over who chose the path with the most mud. It was amusing to listen to.)
She and Bea were funny to listen to, too, and graciously posed for pictures when I asked. They even acted as if they liked each other. Sometimes.
Bea wanted to know why Olivia was "so... so... I don't know what. So something." We spent a good long while supplying adjectives. "Goofy?" "Worried about getting mud on her shoes?" "Anxious to get ice cream?" "Loud?" Finally Bea said, "No! Why is Olivia so FAST?" I want to be the leader, too!" Alas, Bea was just too slow - I suspect it was the constant consumption of snacks that kept her from leading the pack. She ate her way through all the cheese sticks and crackers I brought. I was worried we were going to have to move on to the Wisp toothbrushes I had tucked away in a pocket of my backpack.
As I handed her the last snack I had, I told her it was the final one. "Eat it wisely," I said, "I don't have anymore." "Oooh, so this is the last one, and we don't have any more if Olivia gets us lost again and we have to stay here in the woods for like the next few days or the next year?" "ExACTly," John and I said.
Other snippets of conversation:
Liv: "Want to hear the song we're doing for part of our spring performance?"
John: "No. I want to just hear nature. I don't want to hear music on your phone."
Liv: "Well, I am part of nature."
John: "A loud part."
Liv: "Well, but you still have to listen to me. So, we're doing our dance to this song by X Ambassadors and when our instructor lined us up in height order, I wasn't the shortest one! There was one person who was shorter than me. But, she might have been like 12 or something. But I wasn't the shortest one! Did I tell you that my new pointe shoes are almost dead already? I'm glad because I don't like these ones as much as the other ones. When mom took me to The Tight Spot I don't think they gave me the right pair so I'm just waiting for these ones to be done so I can go back to the ones I really like. The box on these is really long for people with long toes and I don't have long toes so they aren't as comfortable. [...]"
Liv: "Ow, Bea, you just let that branch snap back on me."
Bea: [halfheartedly] "Sorry"
Liv" "A little sincerity would be nice."
Bea: "Oliva, do you want the last cracker before I eat it?"
Liv: [turns around just as Bea starts to put last cracker in her mouth] "Uh... "
Me: "BEA! Geez. Olivia, that actually was nice of her to offer, so could you say thanks, even though she started biting it?"
Liv: [halfheartedly] "Thanks."
Me: "A little sincerity would be nice."
We also had a little cartwheel showdown on the road that connected two of the trails. Liv has some, um, difficulty with cartwheels. Always has, despite the gymnastics lessons when she was younger and all the dance she does. I was trying to explain to her what one should look like and she just wasn't getting it. You know what they say about a picture, right? Yeah. I stripped off my fleece, my backpack, and my camera, handed them to John, said a "please don't let me crack my head open on the cement" prayer, and did my first (and hopefully last) cartwheel in mumblemumble years to show Olivia what it was supposed to look like. I'm not sure I actually accomplished that, but I DID accomplish not cracking my head open. I consider that a win.
All in all, it was a pretty awesome hike with my family. We slogged through mud, saw purple bushes, narrowly avoided deer poop, almost got lost, climbed over a jillion mossy trees, and had some excellent conversations. No one complained (much, or seriously), no one got hurt, and we ended up with ice cream as a treat. Not a bad way to spend a late Saturday afternoon, if you ask me.