Waldorf on a Budget (And the Fabulous Things I Find at Thrift Shops!)

We are a Waldorf family. Bunkers goes to a local Waldorf school and is part of the multi-age kindergarten there. At 3.5 years old he’s the youngest child; a role in which he really thrives. We have been using many Waldorf principles and philosophies since he was an infant and one of them has been to have our home be in a Waldorf ‘style’.

For us, this means that we choose warm, natural paint colors and soft, natural furniture.

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We also tend towards this philosophy with regards to toys and playthings. We are not plastic free in our house, though – we have a fair amount of Playmobil toys but they get played with the most! The group of 3-5 year old boys in our natural mamas group just adores them and will play with them for hours!

However, all of the kids love our playstands (which I bought on Craigslist for $150) and the nice wooden toys inside, as well as the wooden kitchen and playfood.

Buying lovely wooden Waldorf toys and play things can be very expensive. I love to support the artisans who craft these things when I can (and we have purchased many truly wonderful hand crafted toys!), but I do like to save money when I can and I have found that there is a treasure trove of Waldorf toys to be found at local thrift or charity shops such as Goodwill, Value Village, Salvation Army, St. Vincent’s, etc. I will share with you some of the things I have found!

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Some wonderful Waldorf finds!

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A gorgeous wooden sewing machine found at Value Village for $2.99. I added string and a small scrap of fabric for ‘sewing’. A basket of felt veggies, both items found separately at Goodwill.

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Bowls! Thrift shops are fabulous for wooden bowls, wooden trays (we use this one for snacks at playgroup, but it could be used for sorting), and even a wooden goblet. I found this little porcelain cooking pot and it’s used in the play kitchen. The lid went missing in our last move, though! Just out of frame here are a couple baskets I’ve found, as well. So.many.baskets to be found at thrift shops! The silks I made, but this gorgeous bowl is perfect to house them.

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Another find in the ‘wood stuff’ section was this wooden tool box. It could be used for a child’s tools, but Bunkers has a different set. Instead, I use it to keep our candles and incense together. Also, I got a set of three of these adorable clay candle holders at Value Village in Wisconsin! They are precious and we use them at our table for beeswax candles lit during mealtimes.

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This (well loved) rocking horse I found at Goodwill for $5. One of my best finds, I feel! Also, the little metal xylophone is a favorite and was just $1! I also found that sheepskin rug on the right of this picture at Goodwill for $7. I washed it and brushed it out and it’s fabulous! Better view of a couple baskets. The wooden ‘crate’ basket usually houses wooden animals.

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Another great find! This I found at a local children’s consignment shop and paid $7 for it. I decorated a few of the gnomes myself. Another big hit at playgroup.

I’ve had lots of people ask me how I find these things – and the answer is that I go to these shops often. These finds are after years of checking Goodwill and Value Village several times a month. It’s fun for me and I like hunting for awesome things. I do my best to be a mindful shopper and only buy things that I truly need or will actually use.

I don’t just go to thrift shops looking for toys, though – I buy about 90% of Bunkers’ clothes there. I have found it’s been such a great deal. Not only do babies and children grow out of clothes so quickly, but they often don’t get to wear something much before it’s too small. A very good percent of the clothing I have found for children at thrift stores is in like new condition – some still with tags! I’ve found Hannah Andersson, North Face, Gap, Gymboree, Mini Boden, and Land’s End for great prices at thrift shops. I buy almost all of my clothes there as well.

Another thing I find at thrift shops are woolen blankets. We keep a stash of them in our cedar chest for winter time. Each person in our family has one and we keep one extra on hand as well. Woolen blankets can be used for things other than blankets, too. You can use that wool for fabric for sewing. I also purposefully felted one wool blanket and we use it as a wet pad under the sheet on our bed. It’s never failed us!!

Yet another thing I keep a look out for a thrift shops is small silverware. Silverware is HUGE these days! I much prefer the dainty silverware of years past, and, obviously, so does Bunkers. I buy ‘small’ silverware (as in, what was considered ‘normal size’ in the 50s and 60s but is now about toddler/young child size) for him to use.

Art is another thing I buy at thrift shops. I have some really adorable and really fabulous pieces that I adore that were just a few dollars at the thrift store! Art is very expensive to buy new!

I also buy some kids books at the thrift store. I have to be very particular and I read them all from cover to cover before I buy them as there is a lot of really awful writing for children out there. But, I have found some great books. A perfect example was this Laura Ingalls picture book. It’s simply adorable.

Do you thrift shop? What awesome things have you found?

Baby Topics: Cloth Diapers

This post has been in my drafts for over a year! I figured I’d spend just a few minutes and finish it up to share my thoughts!

I have had about a dozen people ask me about cloth diapers and every time I am so happy to share our experience; but that means I’ve basically typed up this post about… a dozen times!

I thought I’d just type up a post about cloth diapers and then when someone asks, I can simply give them a link to this post – which will invariably have MUCH more information than me just typing something up really quickly in reply to them.

So, we chose to cloth diaper for many reasons, but they are (in order of importance to me):

  1. Much lower chemical exposure to baby than disposables. That is why we chose organic cotton prefolds (more on this later).
  2. Environmental impact: (1) Less energy and resources in making cloth diapers (generally a 1 time purchase for use from newborn to potty learned) than disposables and (2) less waste generated in using cloth diapers than buying disposables every week.
  3. Ease of use. Not that disposables aren’t easy and cloth diapers are easier. Not at all – but cloth diapers aren’t hard; they are quite easy to use and clean and that was a plus for me.

When I was pregnant (all 7 months!) I researched the heck out of cloth diapers. I wanted to be frugal, and I wanted to use prefolds and that was all I knew when I started out. I ultimately chose to buy Bummis covers and prefolds, both from people selling them used on Craigslist. I bought  Bummis Super Whisper Wraps from this super nice lady who had like six kids. She was knitting and they were all playing in the yard when I pulled up. “Oh, it’s going to be so much fun to be a mom!” I thought. From another woman I bought prefolds (she said they were organic, so hopefully they were). I had sizes newborn through medium all set! I was on the search for larger sizes and ended up buying a whole set of prefolds and Dappi diaper covers from another mom. Don’t do Dappi. Just don’t. They were awful.  The prefolds were useless, too… they were made with the type of cotton you might make a bed sheet from. No absorbency,  no quilting, nothing. I used neither of these things!

Anyway, when my little one ended up coming quite early, I knew I was going to have to buy MORE diapers, but being on hospital bedrest and then in the NICU for almost a month, I was in no place to scour Craigslist looking for diapers for my little preemie. I really like Bummis for their ethics, so I opted to get more of those. It so happens, too, that Bummis makes one of the smallest covers on the market – the newborn size Super Brite. It can fit babies from 4-9 pounds! And once our little one came home from the NICU he was about 6 pounds and they fit him great. He wore them until he was 9 pounds on the dot and then *POOF* they were too small.

So, before I get into all the things I bought – let me say this:

Don’t buy a full set of just one thing. Don’t buy 36 AIOs (all in ones) from the same brand and call it good. What if you hate them? What if they don’t fit *your* baby right? Sure, you can sell them, but you’ll still lose some money. Buy ONE of a few different brands of AIOs if that’s what you want. Buy a couple pockets if they interest you. Buy a couple different prefolds if that’s the route you want to take. Buy a few different brands of covers for them (either one size or newborn size).  Or whatever you want to try. Try them out on your newborn and see how you like them. I read advice like this and I didn’t listen; but I was pretty convinced I wanted to do prefolds and covers, and luckily I did end up liking them. However, what if I had not been happy with prefolds and then I’d be stuck with a whole bunch of them until I bought something else and sold those. Just something to keep in mind. You can re-sell your diapers; I have had luck on Craigslist or the Mothering.com Trading Post.

We did end up trying several different types of diapers (we tried AIOs and pockets in addition to prefolds and covers) but we ultimately ended up using prefolds and covers and I loved them. If we ever have another baby we will do prefolds (or flats) and covers again. So, because I don’t have a lot of experience with AIOs and pockets and because I prefer prefolds and covers for the following reasons:

  1. Easy to use. Some would argue this, but I found them incredibly easy to put on both a newborn and a toddler. Velcro is easier than snaps, but by 8 months my son figured out how to rip the velcro open and take his diaper off! We switched to snaps at that time.
  2. Easy to wash. AIOs tend to be hard to get clean and take a long time to dry. You need to pull dirty inserts out of pockets. With most covers you can hang them to dry if they didn’t get dirty and re-use them (until either they get soiled or it’s the next wash day, whatever comes first).
  3. A natural fiber is touching baby’s skin. Most AIOs (not all!) and pockets have fleece touching baby’s skin and fleece is made entirely from plastic. Yes, you can get microfiber or fleece type inserts for covers, but for the most part covers are used with prefolds and flats and those tend to be cotton or hemp. I chose organic cotton because that is better both for the environment and for baby.
  4. Cheaper. AIOs and even pockets are much more expensive than prefolds or flats and covers.
  5. Durable. Prefolds and flats wash and wear much better than AIOs and pockets. And if one tears for some reason, it’s easily replaced for just a few dollars. If an AIO tears you’ll need to repair it or replace it for upwards of $15-30.

Ultimately, we used/tried:

Anything I bought new was either from Amazon (get an Amazon rewards visa and use it for your regular grocery and gas purchases and you’ll be able to get a lot for free! But pay it off every month, please!) or Nicki’s Diapers. Nicki’s is a great company and they offer competitive prices and free shipping on most diapers.

Our experience and if I had it to do all over again:

I would use flats instead of prefolds. Flats get cleaner and dry faster. We had some stink issues with our prefolds and it was this (paired with Bunkers only wetting one or two diapers in a 24 hour period by 15 months – he was using the potty pretty well by then) that made us stop using cloth. I would only have four or five diapers in the pail after 48 hours and cloth diapers shouldn’t really sit any longer than that. It felt like a waste and a strain on water resources to wash that small of a load. So we switched to disposable diapers at that point. I felt bad about it, but we were only using 1 or 2 a day. After a while we switched to pull up style disposable diapers and then when Bunkers was about 22 months old I bought some cloth training pants. The week after his 2nd birthday he was not having any accidents anymore! And he’s been fully committed to using the potty since then. We used a couple different training pants and I really prefered the Imse Vimse organic cotton ones. They held in one pee very well.

Also if I had it to do over again, I would just stick with Bummis for the newborn stage up until they are sitting up and I would use velcro. Velcro is so easy to put on and when it’s the fifth diaper change of the night at 3am you really don’t want to try and do four (or more!) snaps. You just don’t. Thirsties offer velcro and we used those when Bunkers outgrew the newborn Bummis at about 4 months until about 12 months when we couldn’t keep the velcro ones on him anymore (trick: keep a onesie on them. It was a super hot summer, so that didn’t work for us and we were doing EC and needed quick access).

Once baby is ready to sit up, I feel like velcro is a bit of a hinderance. It’s stiff and kinda bulky and doesn’t bend well. And a lot of babies will figure out how to undo velcro around this time!

Once Bunkers outgrew the Bummis diapers I had bought on Craigslist and online and was ripping open the velcro on the Thirsties, I switched to snaps. I ended up buying Flip diaper covers by BumGenius and I am very glad I did! They have two snaps on each flap and an adjustable rise. We never once had a leak or blowout with these diapers and if there is a next time I will probably use these over the Thirsties.

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See how the velcro seems to make it hard for him to sit straight?!

Here’s what my stash would look like if I were expecting another baby:

For the newborn size (4-8 weeks)

For the infant size (2-8 months-ish)

For the older infant/young toddler size (10 months to potty learned)

  • Flip Diaper Covers – 6 total
  • Organic Birdseye Flats – 36-48 total (Might need more by this age to double up for nighttime)
  • Snappi (we were not using a snappi anymore, just doing a newspaper fold, but some people find them still helpful at this stage!)

Also, for all stages:

  • Diaper pail (I don’t recommend the one I used, so research to find one that works well with cloth diapers and cloth diaper pail bags)
  • Diaper pail bags (Get two so that you have one to put in the pail when the other gets taken to the wash)
  • Wet bags for in the diaper bag

For diaper pail bags and wet bags I wholeheartedly recommend Planet Wise! They are available on Nicki’s Diapers or Amazon for amazing prices. We still use them for our family cloth in the bathroom!

That all looks so nice and simple, huh?! And it is, and that’s what I like about it.

Did you cloth diaper? What kinds did you use?

We’ve Moved!

A lot has changed since I last wrote a personal update. We actually did something drastic and not at all what we had thought we had in store for our future – but we couldn’t be happier!

In January we met with our old realtor and he said if we wanted to sell our house we needed to completely finish the remodel and get it listed ASAP. DH wanted a second opinion, so he brought in his business partner’s realtor and met with him. They hit it off really well and we decided to go with him! He’s really awesome.

Anyway, he agreed we needed to get the remodel done as soon as possible. So we made a plan with timelines and deadlines and worked hard. DH work HARD hard. So hard.

In the mean time, we were not certain what we wanted to DO after we sold our house. Our dream has been to have a mini farm. But we couldn’t find land reasonably priced in our area (one of the most expensive areas in our state for land prices!). We thought maybe we would rent until we found what we wanted. But DH wasn’t comfortable with that idea – it’s essentially throwing away money every month that could be put toward a mortgage.

I don’t remember how it came up, but I suggested maybe we look into buying a condo or townhouse. It’s the absolute opposite of what we wanted – no land, close neighbors, no yard, etc… but it had the advantages of: being less expensive, yard work is taken care of for us, we can be in the location we want, equity is built really fast in our desired location, etc. So we looked more into that!

It was kind of on a whim, and kinda spur of the moment… but we decided to go that route! We toured a few condos (one of which had the vibrational energy of a mad house, eeek!) and found one we loved. And we bought it!

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Our condo is so lovely. It’s the top floor unit above all the garages. That’s our balcany. The two windows on the right are the bedrooms and the two on the left are the living space. Our garage is the last on the right.

It’s a little under 1,000 square feet. Our house was 1,800 square feet. We had some major downsizing to do!

We had been working on that for years, really, as I have discussed before. But it was time to get serious about it! We sold A LOT. We made A LOT of Goodwill trips. We made several trips to the dump. We made over $2,000 selling our furniture, electronics (TVs included!), and other miscellaneous stuff. It was liberating and freeing!

So we packed and got rid of stuff and worked on the old house. We moved in March into our condo and we have loved it so much. It’s so bright and airy inside. Our old house was so dark all the time, even in the middle of summer! The remodel helped with that, but it’s nothing like our condo. It’s quiet and safe here. I can walk down the street without being afraid. I am mere minutes away from my friends, now! We get together so much more often and it has been so wonderful for me and Bunkers!

Here are some more pictures from the real estate listing:

Main living space!

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Other side of the main living space.

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Entry. It’s on the second floor, so the stairs down go to the entry way and the front door.

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Kitchen. Red. Why? ALL the condos we looked at had blood red kitchens. Bizarre.

It is two bedrooms and 1 bath and I couldn’t be happier with the amount of space. We have two beds in the smaller bedroom for us all to sleep and the large bedroom (master) is the office and craft room. It works out great!

Here are some pictures with our belongings:

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Still a lot of organizing going on, but our furniture fits so nicely!

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I love this dining space so much. So. Much. Light.

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Need I say more?!

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Our porch!

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Looking out the front windows.

We are still working on pairing down our possessions. We currently have a storage unit with power tools, camping stuff, etc. Our garage is still full of boxes. I wonder what if any of that we still need? Obviously the camping stuff we will keep, but maybe we can sell the power tools? Rebuy them when/if we need them rather than paying rent on a storage unit just in case we do? It’s a tough call.

I feel so much motivation to continue our work downsizing, though. It’s our goal to be rid of the storage unit by fall. We really needed it in the beginning because we had to empty the old house to do the remodel and we didn’t have the condo yet. But now I want to see it gone.

My life seems to have a pattern of tossing at me things I like to call ‘everything I never knew I wanted’. I would have never seen us in a condo, especially since our dreams were facing the other direction. I felt the same about massage school. Up until six months before I started I had never, ever considered doing massage as a career. But it was perfect for me and I loved every second of massage school and my massage career. It is my goal to jump back into that in the future, but I will leave the when/how up to The Universe. Anyhow, it’s been the same with the condo. We just love it. Who knew?!

I will end it here by saying that our old house remodel was finished a month later than we had wanted. But that ended up being a blessing in disguise and the market exploded in that area and we got almost $40,000 more for our house than we had hoped we could get. And it sold in four days. A true blessing! Our realtor is amazing!

Warlmy.

Christina

The Perfect Parent

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I visited with my aunt today and the subject invariably landed on parenting. I told her, “I’m certainly not a perfect parent; I have yet a lot to learn and I do plenty of things I’m not okay with: I’ve yelled. I’ve stormed off. I’ve rolled my eyes.” And she said, “You don’t need to be a perfect parent. Bunkers doesn’t want a perfect parent – he wants you. If he grew up thinking you were a perfect parent and a perfect person he would feel bad about himself when he couldn’t be perfect, too. And no one is perfect. When you do those things you’re not okay with, do you come to him and say you’re sorry and that you’ll you might do it again, but you’re trying not to?”

Honestly, not always. I so often get stuck in the “But what about ME? Who cares about ME? What about MY feelings?” The truth of the matter is that *I* need to be the one taking care of that. *I* can care about me. *I* can care about my feelings. As a mother I need to model the behaviors I wish to see in Bunkers. And while I am fine with him seeing me upset, crying, frustrated, etc – I want to be able to model appropriate reactions to those feelings. And yelling, storming off and rolling my eyes are not things I want to do. They are not desirable traits in a toddler and certainly not in an adult.

It’s something I have been working on for … well, since Bunkers was born, really, and I feel like right now is just the most critical time for modeling behavior. Really, from 1 year old on…

I am going to give myself some grace and try to allow myself to not be  a perfect parent. I’ll never be perfect in any area of my life and that’s really okay. No one likes a perfect person, really.

Another thing my aunt said that I really liked was, “Don’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides.” Essentially, don’t compare how you feel to how you perceive others to be. You don’t know how they feel inside. Powerful!

The Story of STUFF

I just watched this fabulous short documentary about STUFF and it was incredibly eye opening and inspiring me.

We’ve been making it a point to reduce our consumption of stuff and to minimize the amount we have, but the truth is that we still buy things and we still go to the store. I mean, almost everyone does, and it really is a reality of our society until some major changes happen.

However, in the last few years (since we’ve been on our natural living journey) we have really made some changes in our buying habits. I will freely admit that I am influenced by culture and that I do still really like the shop. I think it’s the ‘gathering’ of our age. I honestly believe that we, as women, are driven to gather for our families, and in this age that includes shopping. And we quite literally have to shop. For most of us that involves grocery shopping, clothes shopping, shopping for consumables (cleaning products, hygene products, consumables for our homes or cars, school supplies, etc), shopping for gifts, shopping for gadgets, computers, cars, even houses.

The changes we have implemented are:

1. Buy less. This is the biggest one, and the hardest. Self explanatory, but defining what is a critical need and a want/non-critical need is the first hurdle.

2. Buy quality. Instead of, as the documentary mentions, buying things that have ‘planned obsolescence’, when you have a critical need for something, buy a high quality version of that item instead of a cheap one. Buying locally made and manufactured products by small businesses makes a big impact, as well. Vote with your dollar! An example for us – we bought a water filter this year. Instead of buying a cheap, plastic filter with throw away cartridges, we bought a Berkey filter made of stainless steel and with filters that last for years (or longer!).  Another example is our mattress (except that wasn’t exactly a ‘critical need’ – we did have a mattress, it just was a plastic one).

3. Buy used. I buy nearly all my clothes at Goodwill. I buy R’s clothes there, too! I buy shoes, canning jars, kitchen utensils, gifts, and supplies for my Etsy shop. So much can be bought at thrift or charity shops – and most help a great cause, too.  A lot of our furniture has been scored on Craigslist! And a lot of stuff has been sold, there, too! A great way to get ‘rid’ of stuff without having to send it to the landfill or cart it to Goodwill! And you make money out of the deal.

4. Recycle, upcycle, reuse. Husband gets a hole in his t-shirt? Fabulous! Cut it up for kitchen rags. Cat chewed off a corner of your favorite wool sweater? Excellent! Make baby pants! Got a shipment from Amazon? Score! Make the kids a play house with the box and save the packing paper for coloring or tracing sewing patterns. Everything can have alternate uses if you try to find them!

5. Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. Age old saying from the great depression. Use up your craft stash before you buy (or source!) more. Wear you clothes until they have holes. Keep your current desk even if it doesn’t go with your ‘decor’. Do you really need to buy a new cell phone every year? Probably not.

I was astonished to hear her say in the documentary that only 1% of STUFF is still being used 6 months after purchase. That’s astonishing to me! We live in such a throw away culture.

I encourage you to watch this 20 minute documentary and see where in your life you can stop the cycle of STUFF.

They have several more documentaries and I plan to watch them, too.

Goodwill Scores!

When I was a kid my mom shopped at Goodwill on occasion. She probably would have gone more often if I had let her. But, nooOOoo… I wasn’t going to wear ANYTHING from Goodwill! I would only wear NEW clothes and  they had to be well known brands. I was a brat, I freely admit that, now!

Anyone who knows me NOW would laugh. I shop at Goodwill sometimes as much as twice or three times a week, now! I LOVE Goodwill! I get awesome deals on my and Bunkers’ clothes. I get quality wooden toys, canning jars, cast iron, wool blankets, and shoes there. Sometimes brand new!

My local Goodwill is just amazing. Super high quality items and amazing prices. Sometimes Goodwill can get a bit expensive ($30 for jeans?! I’ve seen it!) but my Goodwill isn’t over the top.

Now, I do make a point to live a more minimalist lifestyle – although I am really not even close to what one would consider a minimalist. Far from it – but in the last 18 months we’ve purged from our house a lot of stuff. We weren’t hoarders before, but we had a surpluss of extra ‘stuff’. We are still working on it, but we have a lot less ‘stuff’ and more useful, quality items we use often.

So I thought I’d share some of my recent Goodwill scores here!

I have been on the look out for a new coat for myself for this winter and I found one this week! It’s pure wool and the lining is silk. Fancy! It was marked $5.99, but it was half off (thanks to the color sales)! Behold, my $3 fabulous wool peacoat!

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I also found some water shoes for Bunkers for next year. $2. New condition!

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I found a lovely sheepskin for $7! These are usually much, much more and it’s even stamped with a local farm/company on the back. Amazing!

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I also found this lovely piece of wood art… How beautiful, yes? It’s so touching, I think. Perfect for a nursery. It just needs a little sanding and refinishing (oiling) and then it will be gorgeous! I would love to keep it, but I may just gift it to someone. This was also $2!

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Have you had any awesome Goodwill finds, lately?

Toddler Hike

There’s a trail head near our house that is the start of a handful of trails. One is a loop of about 3 miles, one is 5 miles in and 5 miles back. One is even longer. But one off to the side is geared towards little ones and is about 1/3 of a mile in total. It has some signs that tell a story about the wildlife in the forest and is a completely flat jaunt through the woods. We walked this path (two loops!) with the little one recently and it was so nice. R walked most of it and then when he was tired asked to be carried. I think we will do this loop again some time.

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