Thursday, December 5, 2019

November Round Up

November, like always, came and went in a second. We did all the fall things and enjoyed a road trip to Ohio. The weather has been incredible and we have been outside a ton. 

First things first, every November I say to the family, "We should all write down one thing we are thankful for every day for the entire month." My plan is always to display everyone's gratitude so we can keep in the spirit of Thanksgiving the whole month. 

So on the first day of the month, we each wrote what we were thankful for and I loved that we all said the exact same thing. I posted them on the door to our kitchen and we continued it for a couple of days, then like always, it fizzled out. It's the thought that counts, right? I am ever so thankful for so many things, even if I didn't write it down every day like I had hoped. 

One of things I am thankful for is our back yard. It was the number one thing that sold me on our house when we first bought it. We looked through two rooms, and then saw the back yard, and it didn't even matter what the rest of the house looked like at that point. We have loads of trees so the entire yard is shaded. We've replaced swings on the swing set as the boys have outgrown it, planted a garden, built compost bins and a rain water collection system. We've put in a fire pit, and spent hours pushing the boys on the tire swing that hangs from one of the trees. And every fall, when the leaves turn colors, we count the days until they fall so we can go out and play in them.

I made chicken pot pie, because it had been a while. This might be one of the best chicken pot pie recipes I've ever had. I first wrote about it here.

I'm also thankful for hiking. It's probably one of my favorite, favorite things in the world. We hadn't all been hiking together for a while and this was a great way to spend time together as a family doing one of my favorite, favorite things. I wrote about that just a few days ago in this post.

More leaves fell and back to the yard we went with a goal.

The goal was to get the leaf pile so big that the boys could jump from the swing set to the leaves.

We did it!

At Cub Scouts, Eli is working on earning his whittling chip by carving a bar of soap with his pocket knife.

Jeremy built some decorative sleds for our parents for Christmas. We had a local shop personalize them and then the shop asked him to build more to sell in the shop.

We decorated for Christmas, because as you may know, I always decorate for Christmas mid November. I love how cozy the house feels once the decorations are up and the lights are everywhere.

It's Lex's year for the star.

Daisy's first Christmas! I don't think we'll be putting presents under there until Christmas Eve. Daisy loves to eat paper and cardboard boxes!

The boys got spiffy new hair cuts right before our road trip. For the first time in years, I didn't make Thanksgiving dinner at home and we traveled to Ohio to see family.

The boys got to see their cousins and Great Grandma Lois.

Last year, my brother's family came to see us for Thanksgiving and my sister in law made us all elf hats to go see Santa. This year, she came through once again and made Christmas tree hats that the kids decorated themselves. Off we went to see Santa, but he wasn't on his shift yet. We went to lunch instead and promised the boys a trip to see Santa another day.

We had an incredible Thanksgiving in Ohio and made incredible memories with our families. Just like that, we said goodbye to Ohio and goodbye to November and headed home to Missouri to jump feet first into Christmas festivities.

I hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving and are geared up for a happy Christmas season. Happy festivities to all!

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Gans Creek Fall Hike

Our weather has really been something so far this season. For one, it's snowed twice already, and I mean snow that's actually stuck around for a day or two. Not a ton of snow, but as much as we've gotten altogether some other years since we've lived in Missouri. I love it. We got our snow fix last year for sure in Missouri, including one big, amazing snow fall that gave us 17 inches of perfect, fluffy snow that was perfect for building forts, snowmen, and snowballs. And that's exactly what I'm hoping for again this year.

But for now, I'm enjoying the fact that while we've had a couple of snowfalls and some really cold days, the weekends have actually been perfect weather for hiking!

A few weekends ago, we ventured to one of our favorites spots, Gans Creek, and did a portion of the orange loop. The leaves were mostly off the trees and we had never done this particular route before (although there were definitely some familiar spots as we crossed back and forth over the creek). 

Shorts and short sleeves in early November!

The trail was clearly blazed in orange and just like all the Rock Bridge State Park trails, you can find trail maps at the trail head.

Run wild, my child...

Just enough leaves to make it seem like fall and not winter.

The way we headed on the trail took us uphill and we walked along the ledge at the top of a bluff, overlooking the creek.

The white birch trees stood out throughout our hike. The boys kept spotting them at a distance and pointing them out.

Another overlook where we stopped to rest. The view here was beautiful!

From the top of the bluff, we slowly wandered down the path, which took us near the edge of the park and through a less dense part of the woods.

 Peek through the trees to a meadow.

Heading downhill.

 And finally, we reached the creek bed where we have been multiple times before. You can't hike these trails without criss-crossing over the creek bed.

There were leaves covering the water so it was difficult to tell where the land ended and water started.

The boys decided to traverse the stepping stones to skip rocks in the deeper end.

I love this particular spot because there are rocky bluffs all around the creek bed.

 After spending some time throwing rocks, we headed back to the orange trail.

We took the 10 connector to the 9 connector which both cut through the orange loop. I think the orange loop is around 6 or 7 miles if you take the whole thing. We've taken these connectors before and love the views.

Another amazing overlook.

 Our little hikers are great at spotting the trail blazes.

And finally back to the creek.

There's a spot where water runs through the rock so you can put leaves in and watch them float down. When the boys were little, they loved this spot. I was happy to see them still entertained by the small stream of water cutting through the stream.

Connector 9/10. Almost there!

Finally, 3 miles later, we arrived back at the parking lot, just as it started to get chilly. It had been a while since our family had hiked together so this one was definitely good for the soul. The weather is getting cooler every week now, so I'm hoping for a few more hikes just like this one before we have to contend with ice and snow on the ground! 

Happy fall and happy hiking!