A Day in the Life of an Outdoor Mom: Ghouls, Ghosties, and Pack-Llamas

I wake, sharply and suddenly, to the booming sound of our golden retriever, Abe, alerting us that someone just passed by the house on foot. I’ve tried—repeatedly—to fire him from his self-appointed neighborhood watch position, but despite my efforts he persists.

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At nearly 90 lbs Mr. Sheriff packs quite a bark, so I quickly roll out of bed and cross the hall to shut the door to our three-year old’s room. After a late bedtime followed by lots of coughing throughout the night, I throw up a quick “Praise Jesus” that the noise didn’t rouse him. Then throw up another one when I realize it’s already 7:15 am and I got to sleep in as well!

Padding out to the living room I tell Abe to hush and peek out the window to find the first snow of the season has stuck! Not much, just enough to cover up the grass and give us something to look forward to today. I check the temperature outside and—yikes!—it’s a not-so-balmy 28 degrees and no sign of warming up until the afternoon.

With no work on the agenda today—it’s Halloween!—I decide to stick with PJs for the moment and chat with my husband before he leaves for work while we prep some breakfast. Just before I finish laying it out on the table, I hear a boisterous “ROAAARRRRR!” coming from Kit’s room. I go in and get the dinosaur out of bed, then we put on some socks as I inform him there’s snow outside. He hurries to look out the door and assess its potential.

“Is it cold?” I ask.

“Yeah. Maybe the sun will come up and the cold will go away and the snow won’t go away.”

We sit down to eat our oatmeal—mine with brown sugar and chia seeds, his with peanut butter and strawberries—and we discuss what tools we will need for playing in the snow. (Yes, shovels and dump truck. No, chainsaw and scissors…… Ok, fine, you can take your chainsaw. *insert eye roll perfected by mothers worldwide*)

After finishing our breakfast, we get ready to go outside. While I can say that in one sentence, those of you with young children know that translates to us not getting out the door until 9:15 am. I have to collect all the layers and outerwear we’ll need to stay cozy.

Get myself ready and into all my gear, then wrangle a wriggling badger-child into his gear before I have a heat stroke. (My method is to put it all on him while standing next to the open door—not exactly energy-conscious but it keeps me from keeling over during the process.)

We start with merino wool base layers and neck gaiter followed by a fleece midlayer. On top he gets to wear his new blue snowsuit which he is pretty excited about (“I’m a blueberry!”). Trapper hat and mittens go on with little complaint—a shocker since mittens are generally despised, but I let him pick between two sets and tell him they’re like the construction workers’ gloves (which clearly makes them more manly and acceptable).

Then, because he grew out of last year’s snow boots and we weren’t yet prepared for such an early snow, we put on two layers of his thickest merino wool socks and some rain boots.

Finally out the door, we have to spend a few minutes indulging in the snow right outside for both Kit and also Abe who promptly gets the zoomies and does a series of ultra-fast, tight donuts followed by a roll in the snow. After filling up the dump truck a couple times and creating some strategically placed piles of snow, I’m able to convince Kit to get in the car so we can go to a “cooler place with even better snow,” then we head to a local trail.

We spend a couple hours outside consisting of a little hiking and much more romping, digging, and snow-eating. Having watched me clear the ice and snow off the car prior to our adventure, Kit decides that the ice scraper is his tool of choice for all of the snow-scooping duties the day requires.

We recently hiked with some adult friends and enjoyed making good time on the trail, and I had to laugh at how I’ve gotten used to the meandering pace of exploring with a three-year old. But today I let him take the lead as he stops to clear snow off branches and belly-flop to lick at the snow-drifts. (But, seriously, how much snow-eating is too much??)

He bushwacks his way to an open field where he and Abe “look for bear tracks” and practice some snow-angels. I try to hang back and give him freedom to roam about and use his imagination with little direction aside from occasionally pointing out an interesting spot or confirming that, no, I still haven’t spotted the snow-monster but, yes, I will tell him if I see it.

With cheeks getting rosy and tummies getting rumbly, we decide to make the short hike back to the car. Of course, Kit declares that he has exhausted his muscles and needs to ride on my back for the return trip. Ah, the life of a sherpa.

En route home we detour to the park for a quick visit to the playground to rocket down the snow-covered slide a few times before we conclude our adventure.

We get back home and shed our outerwear, which I leave piled up by the door like a responsible adult. Then I mix up some hot cocoa for Kit to warm up with while I make him a quick lunch. Once he is all set and eating I head off to enjoy a hot shower.

My relaxing interlude is only moderately interrupted some minutes later when Kit comes in to potty and then tries to moon me (“See my booty?!”) followed by the distinctive hum and clash of a light saber waging war against the bathroom sink.

No place is sacred for the mother of a three-year old boy. I turn the hot water up and give myself an extra 5 minutes.

Fortunately when I step out of the shower all the Storm Troopers have been cleared out. Kit and I spend a little time reading, then playing until Daddy gets home for his lunch break.

In preparation for the Trunk or Treat event at our church tonight, he and Kit go pull out some of our camping gear to use in our decorations and costumes. In the meantime, I try to pick up the scattered toys and wash a load of laundry (for the THIRD time, because I keep forgetting to move it from the washer to the dryer).

After bringing up the supplies, Kit gets tucked in for his nap. We’ve always been quite strict about adhering to naptime, which goes along with my desire for organization and routine. It does put a damper on adventure when you have to be back at base camp for two hours in the middle of the day, but as a result we have a very easy, reliable sleeper so we’ve never regretted it.

I enjoy my mid-day break by ignoring the dishes piled in the sink and instead eating a gigantic salad while watching an episode of The Great British Baking Show. Then I gather up the rest of the items needed for Trunk or Treat and do some last-minute preparations.

Rocky and I are dressing up as backpackers with Kit as our trusty pack-llama, so “preparations” meant stuffing our trekking packs with pillows and making sure we had our tent and fake trees ready to go.

After a near-record-breaking three hour nap (Mama’s winning the sleep-lottery today!), Kit wakes up ready to put his llama costume on and get the show on the road. Luckily, Daddy gets off early so we don’t have to wait long, and after grabbing some quick vittles we all head out to finish up our evening with some Halloween fun.

Rocky and I hand out candy to roughly 1500 kids and families (indoors, thankfully, due to the weather) while our pack-llama abandons us to make infinite laps through the giant blow-up slide for two hours straight. Tuckered-out and happy, Kit goes straight to bed after we get home and, let’s be honest, Daddy and Mama aren’t too far behind. Meh, the dishes can always wait one more day…

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