The drive from San Antonio to the family ranch is about 6 hours long; not an amount of time I take lightly…especially while driving with my two very active children in the back. If I’m lucky, we get on the road very early or right after lunch and they sleep for at least half of the ride.
Red needed to handle some business on the ranch for a couple of weeks and, since we had been talking about wanting to make a trip, I took this as the perfect opportunity to pack myself and the kids up and make it a family trip. The country side is so beautiful this time of year; all of the pretty purple and pink flowers make the drive pretty enjoyable.There are soooo many colts around and I am dyiiiiinnnnng. They are so stinkin’ cute; luckily, the mama horses let us get close enough to enjoy their company. Yes, the mama instincts are to protect their babies by any means necessary but these horses are so use to the TLC of the family that we don’t make them as weary or aggressive as they would be around strangers. Milly is a natural with animals. RJ enjoys their company and thinks that they are cool and all but Milly imprints on animals, I’m sure of it. They naturally start to approach her and are so calm….horses, goats, ducks, butterflies, everything.
We’ve been here for about 8 days and I think it’s about time for us to head back to the city but, man, do I love this ranch life.
It’s bittersweet since our plan at the beginning of last year was to plant roots here for the next several years but things change and I love being back in San Antonio with my family friends while still being able to make the drive to soak up this little slice of country heaven.
Kids really don’t need much. I think, as adults, we forget just how powerful the imagination can be. For example, when the weather turned bright and cool and perfect, I went out and spent a decent sized budget on some fun stuff that could be put to use in our backyard, The least expensive of these items was a box of chalk. I came home with about 10 toys and gadgets and guess what the kids spent hours using while simultaneously ignoring everything else? That’s right: the chalk. The chalk and a stick that they found on the ground….in our backyard.
If you’ve ever come home with multiple options meant to spark fun in your kid’s life, you probably have a similar story to draw from. Anyways, the point is that kids don’t need much.
I’ve learned that all I have to do it find ways to spark their imaginations and the sky’s the limit. Here are some ideas that can spark magic in your kids’ lives.
Say ‘yes’ a little more often. Yes, to 10 more minutes before bed, to listening to their favorite Disney song in the car for the 10,000th time, to walking down the park trail that looks like they will definitely get dirty and to letting them sleep in your room on those nights that they don’t want to be so far away from you.
Play with them outside. Don’t just oversee. Some of my favorite memories of childhood are when my parents or grandparents actually participated in our water balloon fight/softball game/hide & seek adventures.
Build a fort made entirely of your bed linens and dining chairs. Maybe add some string lights. Let them take a nap inside or just hang out. The memories they’ll keep will be entirely worth the clean up.
Let them wake up to something memorable and unexpected. I always love the look on my kids faces when they wake up to balloons in their room but it doesn’t even have to be that complex. Waking up to music instead of light taps on the shoulder or turning the lights on is also a good idea.
RJ and Milly are homeschooled so our morning routine is less stressful because we set our own schedule but they still have trouble waking up in high spirits. My very musically inclined kids always enjoy waking up to the sounds of music. This is a great opportunity to introduce them to the music that you love.
Invite them to cook with you. When you’re making simple dishes, let them join in. There is a sense of pride in using your hands that I think kids should start to experience early (outside of, say, being proud of their pasta art and finger paintings). I buy ingredients to make pizza and let them sauce and top their own pizza crusts!
In addition to everything I just mentioned, here are some toys that have been a real success in our house and leave a lot of room for interpretation during play time.
- Sarah’s Silks – the kids use them as capes, pull-ies, fort walls.
- Tegu Magnetic building blocks – if you have a child that loves to build and rebuild…and rebuild..they will love these.
- ‘Go Find It’ playing cards – these cards really help us to not enjoy the outdoors but to also pay attention to our surroundings in a really fun way.
- Foam swords – I love a good sword fight; especially when I know the material is soft and no one will really get hurt. 😉
Until next time!