TRAVEL DAY SIX :
Five years ago, our oldest daughter Roxy turned five. To celebrate, we threw a party! A house full of kids, balloons, cupcakes, a photo booth, SO MANY GIFTS! It was a blast, but it was also crazy stressful. I remember waking up early to get everything ready and going downstairs to find the cats had climbed up the photo booth backdrop (the one that took HOURS to create) and messed it up. I had so much to do and now I had to recreate this backdrop. I was so frustrated that I screamed at the cats, threw them outside and started bawling. The rest of the day went pretty smoothly, but I still remember how much work went into it – and how much MONEY went into it. And this was just one party, for one kid. Three kids means three birthday parties a year, which means a lot of screaming-at-the-cats-level stress. Or, I should say it did mean that. Because it definitely doesn’t mean that anymore.
On travel day six, our youngest daughter Marley turned five. To celebrate, we bought her a cupcake and sang Happy Birthday to her under the towering pine trees of Lincoln National Forest. There was no photo booth, no house full of kids, no new toys. Just our little family, sitting around a picnic table together, showering our baby girl with love and kisses and sugar. We don’t buy “stuff” anymore, so for her gift, Kai and I found a piece of wood and carved it into a heart for her. She was so happy and loved it so much, she immediately asked if she could paint it rainbow colors and then carried it around with her all day long. Every time she looked at it, she beamed in a way I’ve never seen her look at any toy she’s ever owned. Five years ago, I cried out of frustration. This year, I cried tears of happiness. I’m so glad we made the decision to travel and to start teaching our kids the value of togetherness and simplicity. I can’t imagine a better gift.
The rest of the morning was spent painting rocks and sticks (with watercolors, so the paint would wash off when it rains.) Kai spent about an hour turning a stick and a nail into a really cool looking Minecraft-style pickaxe. I’ve never seen him work on something with such focus. His attention span seems so much longer outdoors. I remember reading an article about kids with ADHD and how when you let them spend their days outside, they’re able to focus so much easier. Kai doesn’t have ADHD, but he has always had a hard time focusing and staying on task (something his teachers always told me, at every parent teacher conference.) Watching him work on this makeshift pickaxe was fascinating. He had to put a hole in the wood to get the nail through, but if he made too big of a hole, it would split the wood. Instead of just throwing it down and giving up, he tried different ways until he figured it out. When it came together the way he wanted it, he was so proud of himself! In Minecraft, he could have built an entire world in the same amount of time it took him to build this one real-life tool, but there’s nothing like the feeling of holding something real that you made with your bare hands.
Later in the afternoon, we headed out for a hike at Bluff Springs, a waterfall and trail there in the forest. The waterfall was small but the kids were excited to find it. We took some pictures and then started down the trail. At first we went the wrong way (and it SUCKED) but then we found the right path and it was beauuuuutiful! After a little bit of walking, the path opened up into a huge meadow full of white flowers with the most amazing view of the trees. We sat in the meadow and relaxed for a little while while Marley chased butterflies. When we got back up to finish the trail, Rox and Kai both whined “we’re sooooooo tired.” Henry and I were ready to hike the full five mile trail, but when we told them how much further we had to go, they looked at us like we were crazy. How is it that a 36 year old fat lady (ME!) and a 47 year old dad have more stamina than three healthy, skinny kids?! Shouldn’t they be running ahead, leaving us in the dust? I realized then that our kids might be skinny, but they’re NOT in shape. I felt some pangs of guilt for letting them sit at their computers so much the last few years and not making them go outside, but instead of dwelling on the past, I decided we just needed to get out and hike at least a couple of times a week on this trip. Problem solved!
(NOTE : I’ll be posting each day of our travel adventures here on our blog and would love for you to follow along! To keep up with us on Instagram, follow my personal Instagram account here : SarahQ on Instagram. You can also follow along by visiting our Facebook page here : The World School on Facebook. I’ll also be posting my thoughts on traveling with children, family tent camping, world schooling, unschooling and home schooling. Have a suggestion or just want to say hello? Use the contact form above to send us a note! We also love comments! Leave a comment below or on Facebook! Thanks so much for coming along on this crazy adventure with us!)
A few of my favorite photos from Day Six :