This weekend left me feeling incredibly centered and lucky. With my favorite month around the corner (happy October 1st, everyone!!!) and beautiful weather gracing us with its presence daily, I couldn’t help but enjoy all that wonder and share it with good friends.
We spent nearly all day Saturday at Shaw Nature Reserve, an affiliate of the Missouri Botanical Gardens about 30 miles southwest of St. Louis. It was a beautiful drive, surprisingly and suddenly hilly and rich with fall foliage on the brink of being absolutely stunning (we will have to make this trip again in a couple of weeks, I think!). Ingrid and I shared with each other the feeling of being able to breathe just making the drive out of the city. And the kids. Well, they were giddy with excitement of course.
This had to be one of the most relaxed, enjoyable outings yet. Maybe because our kids are getting older, or maybe because the park was nearly completely empty and so we took our time, didn’t feel rushed, and explored at our own pace. There was no drama with the kids– they all got along better than fine, and it made me dream of years to come, watching this family grow as we watch our own. I feel so close to only a handful of friends this way. It is really a special thing when that happens, don’t you think?
***P.s.- I am totally considering dying my hair the exact color of Oliver’s locks above– which used to be my hair color when I was a little girl– weird, or totally do-able?***
One of the coolest things at the reserve was the “Nature Classroom,” which had all kinds of natural elements to explore. Our obvious favorites were the many animal bones with which to…
… build animal bone structures, of course! Really. Sorry for the inundation of bones in these pictures. I’ve been reading Richard Dawkins’ The Ancestor’s Tale and I find that I simply cannot get enough of science-y stuff lately! True story.
But of course, there is much more to this place than bones. There are hiking and bike trails, ponds and streams and even a path to the Meramec River. There is also an area with a pretty sweet teepee and sod house, but we decided against dragging the five youngins’ on such a long hike for fear that we would be carrying three out of five of them most of the way (Milo and Eliza are pretty sturdy, but not the rest of ‘em).
We did, however, make the best decision of the day to stay for a nice long picnic which included the following deliciousness: homemade guacamole and chips, fresh berries, balsamic grilled chicken sandwiches with bleu cheese and dijon mustard (and pb & j for the kids), kale chips, and an amazing raspberry ganache courtesy of the lovely Ingrid. Um. I may have eaten myself into a slight food coma.
The kids found all sorts of wildlife– tiny frogs near the pond, crickets and grasshoppers (which had to be nearly pried out of Oliver’s hands when it was time to drive home: Oh, Mama, I want to keep him! I PWOMISE I’ll take good CAWE of him!), and even a box turtle (which almost met an untimely demise… almost).
And Oliver sweet-weaseled his way into Georgia’s heart again…
… while Milo and Eliza played at the ever-delicate struggle of two first-born competitive, athletic, and imaginative kids in nature. And though the age difference is small, Milo clearly looks up to Eliza on so many levels.
There were black walnut throwing contests and races and even a last-minute grasshopper race in an attempt to stall us when it came time to leave this beautiful place. There was also much discussion about the benefits of smaller homes and the dream of a vacation home near the Ozarks some day if St. Louis is our forever home.
It was literally the perfect day.
… Especially after I showered this handsome young chap with kisses!
Here’s to many more perfect days! Thank you, Ingrid and Brent, for some amazing memories!