June 2014

Raising Adventurous Kids

June 23, 2014

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I was not an adventurous kid. I wanted to be, I really did, but it never happened. I wasn’t a wall flower, per se, but I also wasn’t the cool girl with the snowboard on the roof of her car. To be honest, I was jealous of that girl. The idea of being bold and brave enough to climb a mountain, snowboard down it, or climb it’s rocks. To bike a big trail, or surf a great wave, those are all things I wish I had done young. When I look back on my life as a young adult, I realize I didn’t take enough risks. I don’t mean being reckless, I just mean letting go and jumping in with both feet (or harness). Being adventurous was something I missed out on, it is really that simple. I spent most of my early life being afraid of falling, of failing, of being hurt or not being good enough. It was a bit of a curse, and one that I would love to go back and redo.

When I had kids I made myself a promise that I wouldn’t let them be raised with fear. Looking at life as an adventure to be lived fully each day was a goal that I had from the day they were each born, and it continues to be something that I push for. Living where we do helps, as everyone here seems to hike a mountain or ski a basin with incredible frequency. For me, as an almost 40 year old woman, I am just now getting up the courage to do a few of the things that my boys have been doing since they were in diapers. I rock climbed for the first time this year, which felt like an incredible challenge. I had to tell myself all kinds of things to get up that darn wall, but one thing that helped was knowing how proud my boys would be of me when I told them. Funny, isn’t it, when the mother becomes the child, even if just for a few seconds?

To me, being adventurous isn’t just about the moment you are in an adrenaline pumping activity, it is a mind set, a way to look at your life and really live it. I see my kids go after everything, from soccer to history with that adventurous spirit, and I never want them to lose it. They look at everything as a challenge, a new run to conquer, a new trail to blaze, and oh my I think that is such an awesome part of being a kid. They don’t fear anything, but they have a very healthy sense of self-preservation (thank goodness) that moves them in a safe direction.

As their mama, it is certainly a balancing act between letting their lives unfold in a way that opens up many new adventures, while also teaching them what it means to be safe in any activity they are in. Teaching them the skills that they need for each new activity they choose to take on is not just important when they are young, but will hopefully set the stage for them choosing to do the same as adults. Giving them the right skills, equipment, and guidance is essential to feeling as though I have done my part to ensure they are safe and smart.

We all have visions for who we want our kids to be, how we hope their lives unfold. It is a natural part of parenting to do so. Sometimes we call it right, and the lives we see become reality. Sometimes our kids blaze a trail we never thought that they would walk. Either way, for most of us their happiness is all that matters. When I think of my kids, especially my two older boys whose lives have been lived a bit longer, and who I know a bit deeper, I see the boys pulling up to the house, snowboards on the roof, bikes on the back, smiles on their faces. I see them coming in and telling their dad and I all about their adventurers, what they saw, the fears that they conquered, the challenges that they set for themselves and met. I see kids who will look in the mirror and see someone staring back who can do what their mind wants to do, who says yes to the challenges that life puts forth, and who choose the road that builds their character, rather than simply gets them to where they need to go. Yes, I do in fact know that this sounds a little bit too dreamy and wide eyed, but why not put it out there and then see where they take it? I could never be disappointed in my kids, but I could certainly risk being disappointed in myself if I didn’t set the stage for them to be the type of kids who could live a life like that. I want them to get to the end of their adventure and say, “I did it all. I really lived.” That would be a truly epic parenting success if ever there was one.

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Summer has finally arrived. I love the solstice, every bit of it. I am a hot weather human, and the more the sun cranks up the happier I am. In many ways I am quite the opposite of my children, who would prefer a snow covered mountain to a blazing hot trail, but to each his own I suppose.

We mark this day a different way each year. Unlike the winter solstice, there are no traditions in the summer season. We take things as they come, as the weather permits, and as our life allows. This summer we are knee deep in painting the inside of our home, and we are pushing to get it done in the next three weeks. We promised ourselves that we would take the day to relax, which was much needed for all of us.

Last year Jacob and I decided to plant a patch of chamomile in an area of the garden that has been hard to break up the clay. It is an area that we wanted to use, but year after year nothing thrived. Last year we put in some rhubarb and chamomile, and what do you know, both have come back so strong. We have had more chamomile than we know what to do with, so we have been trying to come up with ways to use it before it goes to seed for the year.

When I first joined Pinterest, I remember seeing this picture of chamomile cakes that drew my eye. I think that it was one of the first things I ever pinned. The recipe came from Joy the Baker, and it looked amazing. I never managed to pick up Joy’s book from the library (still on my to-do list), but yesterday I just had a need to make some chamomile cupcakes. I used my favorite gluten free vanilla cake mix, and rather than water I substituted very strong brewed chamomile tea. The flavor was subtle, but noticeable. For the frosting I used a standard buttercream, but again instead of milk or cream, I substituted with 2 tbsp of the same strong tea, and left out any vanilla extract. It was magical. The cupcakes were gone in less than an hour (thank goodness I delivered some to a friend, or else I fear how many I would have eaten). I have to admit that when I first went to put together this recipe, I thought that maybe this was going to be an epic fail. I love the flavor of chamomile, but it can be very strong at times, and it doesn’t necessarily blend with other flavors easily. I am glad that I was wrong in this case, as this one was a winner all around, and will certainly grace our table many more times this season.

I had a lot of tea left over with these cupcakes, and as it was indeed a hot first day of summer we decided to make some popsicles from it. We simply took the tea, a few sprigs of fresh mint from the garden, a few chunks of fresh ginger, a tablespoon or two of honey, and some strawberries and simmered them with the chamomile tea. Once cool, we removed the mint, blended everything else together, and a few hours later we were sitting in the backyard cooling down. Fresh and pretty darn healthy. I wish my kids would be content with this kind of treat more often.

The night ended with sparklers, as all first nights of summer should. I feel like my kids really have a sense of the things that mark a holiday or special occasion for them. They were clear that we had to have watermelon at dinner, something yellow for breakfast (I think for the sun??), and sparklers before bed. There was no discussing it. I hit up the fireworks stand the day before, made the chamomile cupcake recipe up and called it yellow, and thankfully my mom saved the day by dropping off a watermelon as a summer treat. All was good, and the solstice was a success.

I wish for each of you a summer filled with the magic only this season can bring. Live like a child, free and relaxed.

For those celebrating in the southern hemisphere, I wish a warm beginning to winter. 

 

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