Due to it being Martin Luther King Jr. day—or at least the "uniform Monday" we celebrate his birthday on—there was no school today. We had a very lazy morning, which was wonderful.
Benjamin slept from midnight until 9:30 in the morning on Sunday. He didn't do so well Sunday night, though, and I was up with him several times. Miriam came into our room at around 6:00 this morning and when Benjamin woke up to nurse she enthusiastically greeted him with a "Hiya, Benja-Boy!"
"No," I told her flatly.
She threw herself facedown on the bed and sobbed dramatically. Andrew carried her back to her bed where she fell asleep until around 9:30 when she woke Rachel up. My visiting teachers were due to arrive at 9:40 so we quickly got dressed and sat the girls down with some cereal. Benjamin didn't wake up until shortly after 10:00. That's how slow our morning was.
It was such a nice day that we later decided to go on a little hike, even though Rachel's been running a low-grade fever... *sigh* I thought we were over being sick.
I had quite the time convincing Miriam to get ready to go. She put on a dress first thing this morning, naturally, and it was my duty to convince her to put on something better suited for hiking.
"You need to put pants on because we're going hiking," I told her.
"What!?" she asked excitedly. "Okay. Are we moving away from this place?"
"No...we're just going hiking," I clarified.
"But Hawaii is very far away!" she felt duty-bound to explain to me.
"Hiking," I told her. "Not Hawaii!"
"Oh," she said.
So she went and put on a pair of tights under her dress. If we were just going outside to get the mail or wait for the school bus this wouldn't have been a problem but we were going hiking so I pulled out some jeans (pink ones!) and asked her to choose a pair to wear. She wouldn't.
"You can wear this pair or this pair," I said holding up the jeans for her.
Miriam said, "No."
"Come on, they're both pink! You love pink!"
Miriam said, "No."
"Just choose a pair," I said shortly, my patience quickly running out.
Miriam said, "No."
"Don't be a pill," I sighed.
"Why not?" she asked indignantly. "Those are like pilgrims! Pilgrims aren't bad!"
"You're wearing this pair," I said, making the decision for her. "Let's get them on you and then you can find a pair of socks and shoes to wear."
Miriam wandered over to the shoe bin and selected a pair of pink socks with a lace trim and her white church shoes.
"Not those socks!" I reprimanded. "Those are Sunday socks. We're going hiking—choose regular socks."
"But I like these socks," she sniffed and then made the excuse that "no other socks have a match!"
"Your drawer is full of socks," I observed. "Choose a different pair."
"Okay. I will just put these ones on," she said, getting ready to pull on the pink lacy socks.
"Don't put those on!" I growled.
"Why not?" she asked innocently.
"Because we're going hiking!" I said, exasperated.
"Hiking?" she asked. "I love hiking!"
Finally...finally...she chose a pair of regular socks and her pink rain boots (which are fine enough for hiking in my book).
Eventually we made it out the door and to the Eno River State Park and hiked out to the suspension bridge, like we did last time, but this time we kept going and hiked Fanny's Ford Trail as well.
Rachel was a very brave hiker...
...until we made it to the suspension bridge. Then she inched her way forward, clinging to the wires on the side. She shuffled across the bridge until the last couple of feet when she let go of the side and made a mad dash to safety (ie. the platform on the other side of the river).
She was much braver about this "temporary foot bridge."
Miriam, on the other hand, acted a little wary of it even though the little stream that ran under it was shallow enough that she could have waded through it with her boots (later she did wade through).
Poor Miriam had so many mini-meltdowns on the trail, many of which were wardrobe related. She first wanted her sweater off, then she wanted her hat on, then she wanted her dress off, then she wished the bow could come off her shirt, then she wanted her sweater on...
At one point she was stumbling along the trail, just sobbing. Andrew asked her what the matter was and she said, "It's just that we're not at the car yet!"
I'm not really sure how to toughen these girls up. Maybe taking them hiking more will help.
Andrew was a trooper. He carried the backpack full of snacks and water and baby stuff (and later when Miriam gave up walking he carried her, too).
Hiking in the winter is kind of nice and we're not the only ones who think so. When we went hiking in September we were one of two or three cars in the parking lot (which is really pretty big) but today we found one of a handful of empty stalls in the lot. The trail was packed.
We felt a little braver about exploring things since there weren't huge spider webs all over the place, nor many shrubs growing off the sides of the trail that we couldn't identify.
The trails were, however, a little muckier than they were in the summer.
I don't remember why Andrew made this face at me but the fact that he made it at me while I was holding the camera is grounds for sharing it with the world:
Rachel and Andrew were "hiking buddies" since our rule is to never go anywhere in the woods alone.
I straggled behind them, carrying Benjamin and dragging Miriam.
Here are the girls investigating some ferns (I love ferns):
And fording a stream:
Miriam enjoyed finding the dots to help us know we were going the right way. Each of the trails in the park is marked with a distinct colour so you know which trail you're on at what time (many of the trails lead into each other).
This is where Rachel (not pictured) slipped in the mud and got absolutely filthy:
Benjamin thought it was funny:
It was right at the point where we branched off to follow Fanny's Ford Trail.
Andrew helped Rachel up on this pole and she pretended she was flying:
We walked along the bank of the river until we found somewhere to rest and have a snack. Rachel thought this rock made a good spot:
Miriam had a trickier time getting there:
We had a little bit of trail envy when we saw the trail on the other side of the river. It makes its way along the bank of the river and has a staircase (that our girls are guaranteed to be terrified of) down an outcropping of rock. It looked like fun—we'll have to do that trail next time.
Miriam enjoyed resting most of all. She ate plenty of nuts and raisins and then asked if we could get back in the car now. She was quite upset when we told her that the only way to get back to the car was to walk there.
But at least snack time made her happy.
Despite his missing sock...
...Benjamin was quite happy about life, too. Especially after he'd had his snack (which was neither raisins or nuts).
He's feeling much better but he's still a little goopy—in both the eyes and the nose—and his nose is a little chapped because of being rubbed so often. I'm just happy he's back to being himself (a smiley, happy baby) instead of the screaming banshee of a baby he was when he was sick!
Andrew was a little worried we wouldn't be able to find the trail if we pressed forward and wanted to backtrack to catch the trail, but Rachel and Benjamin and I bravely scouted out the trail. It was down in a ditch, which was kind of strange...but at least we found it (confirmed by a purple dot on a tree).
Once we were back on the trail we were on our way home, which thrilled Miriam (who by this point was enjoying a shoulder ride).
Rachel was our sign-reader for our hike. We made her read all the signs and direct us onto the correct path when we came to any forks in the road. She had to study some signs for a long time to figure things out but she did a great job. It's fun to have a little reader around.
It was Andrew who first spotted Benjamin's muddy sock. I think he and Miriam had a better vantage point since they were so much taller than the rest of us.
It was Rachel who rescued it from the mud.
It was me who got to carry it back to the van. Benjamin dozed through it all, so snug in his blanket that he wasn't even aware he was missing a sock.
Soon after finding Benjamin's sock, we made it to the suspension bridge where Rachel once again inched her way across.
Here we are just leaving the park:
I stopped to look at something and Rachel got a little nervous when Andrew and Miriam disappeared over the hill. "Shouldn't we catch up?" she asking here:
Andrew hiked back to the van as fast as he could so that he could get Miriam off his shoulders and get into the snacks that I'd left in the van. We've made a new rule that Miriam can only suck her thumb at home and in the van and she was getting pretty desperate toward the end of the hike. She stuck her thumb in her mouth the minute she was through the door, though she gladly took it out again to accept a cookie and some water.
Rachel continued reading signs all the way home. We were stopped at a red light and she read quite proudly, "Eno Way!"
"What?" we asked her.
"Eno Way. I read 'Eno Way.'"
"Where?" we asked.
"Right there!" she said, pointing out the window.
We looked but didn't see it until...
"That says 'one way,' sweetie," I corrected her. "You read 'one' backwards, but that's okay!"
She does that sometimes—sounds things out backwards.
Eno was an excellent guess, though, considering we had just been to the Eno River State Park...