It was well after the first of December when I found Nicolette’s Outdoor Advent Calendar. I was planning on just tucking it away in my Pinterest Board and pulling it out next year, but a little voice in my head pushed me to tag along. I figured even if we didn’t do everything on the calendar, we would still be getting outside everyday. With Squishy that is mandatory or we will drive each other to madness. This Advent Calendar was created by the fabulous Nicolette at Wilder Child. It has been just the inspiration we have needed to continue to get outside, especially on days when I just want to put my leg up and lay in bed. It is easy to slip into an injury slump, and if Squishy didn’t need the outdoors for his sanity I could easily be curling up in bed feeling sorry for myself.
It is a simple enough prompt, and leaves loads of room for interpretation. I have come to realize, over this last week, it is the openness of each activity that has us looking forward to it everyday. Squishy has taken each suggestion and completely personalized it. So when the prompt said to enjoy a hot cup of tea or cocoa outside under the Day Four window, Squishy decided we needed to make pine needle tea. Luckily we have some Ponderosa Pines growing on the median across the street. Grandma was a good sport and took Squishy out there to collect a few “yummy” pine needles. (Although it nearly gave her a heart attack having him that close to a busy street)
On Day Five our advent prompt instructed us to take a picture of the sky. Our sky was a dreary slate gray, and didn’t hold Squishy’s interest for very long. He basically looked up shrugged his shoulders and said “it’s just a grayish bluish” and went over to explore a fresh pile of leaves. At first I was disappointed that we weren’t participating and “following” the calendar’s directions. As I was spinning around in my wheelchair trying to get a good angle of a truly unimpressive sky, I heard the giggles start. We went out to look at the sky, but Nature had other plans for us that day.
Even though we didn’t spend quiet contemplation time staring at the sky, the Outdoors Advent did get us outside. We spent hours out in the leaf pile. Squishy gleefully threw armful after armful up into the air, dancing in the raining leaves. He then made little piles for his dump trucks to load up and take to the compost bin. “Because his worms love to eat decomposing leaves.” It wasn’t the outside time I had envisioned, it was something even more spectacular.
Day six we were supposed to invite a friend to go for a walk. It unfortunately didn’t happen. Squishy didn’t have the temperament to be around anyone that day, I can’t go for a walk with him by myself. So, it was a stay in our jammies, cuddle and watch Daniel Tiger kind of day. I promised myself that we were not giving up on the Outdoor Advent, and just enjoyed the day in bed. It’s not often that Squish will be lazy with me, so I cherish these times just as much as our adventures.
I had called Miss Jamie on Wednesday to see if she would like to take us for a walk. Day 7 called for us to close our eyes and say what we hear, and I figured we would hear a lot more interesting things on a walk than sitting in the backyard. If you have read the book “How to Raise a Wild Child” you will know the term “Using our deer ears”. It is one of Squishy’s favorite activities when we are on our nature walks. I have him hold my hand and close his eyes while we walk. Sometimes we just stand in a spot and listen for a few minutes, but he can’t stay still very long.
I am so thankful than Miss Jamie brought her little trees over to play with Squishy. It had been a rough morning, and cooperating with mommy was not happening (notice the Pajama pants). I had threatened to cancel the walk more than once, but I knew deep down that he needed to run. It was almost like watching a wild mustang who had been locked in a pin for too long, he needed to be Wild and free again.
As soon as we left the house I could feel the cloud of the morning float away from him. He sprinted down the street to the walking path. The bad mood wasn’t fast enough to catch him. Squishy showed Little Tree the fine art of rolling down a hill, they collected the sweet gum leaves that are still littering the ground, and we listened. We heard the wind whisper a song to the trees, and the hearty Scrub Jays add their voice to the chorus. When we got back to the house I had a laughing, hug-able, Squishy boy again.
Thursday brought rain, just as Squishy had predicted. He has this weird sixth sense about weather. So while the Advent Calendar suggested we watch for birds, the birds refused to come out of their hiding places. We made some yummy cozy chocolate milk and cuddled up out on the patio. Instead of watching birds, we watched the puddles grow. Rain is always a call for celebration here, and staying dry is never an option. As soon as Squishy had finished his milk, he made a bee line for The Pit.
I had told Squishy that he couldn’t ride his new bike in the mud and rain, because the water would ruin the chain and brakes…Captain Loophole got his old Strider bike out and stubbornly told me that it was fine because it didn’t have a chain. He raced that thing around the yard all afternoon, slinging up mud and getting completely drenched. It was fabulous! Again, it wasn’t exactly what was on the Advent Calendar, but we were outside enjoying the best of Mother Nature.
On Day nine, Squishy was pretty excited to see what our activity would be. He didn’t even fight me about putting pants on. The prompt read: “find a pebble you like”. That is what it said, but what Squishy heard was “find the biggest, coolest rocks in the yard”
I think this might be my favorite day of the Advent so far. I could see Squishy examining each rock and considering if it was worthy of his choice. Size, color and textures were all scrutinized before his final three were decided upon. He explained to me why these rocks were the chosen few. It wasn’t because they were the prettiest, the smoothest or the biggest. As you can see they are all quite different from each other. Their coolness was hidden on the inside, he said, and the only way to see it was to break them open. The catch, though, is that we couldn’t break them open. If we did, then all the coolness would no longer be inside them…Four year old logic, got to love it!
We are enjoying this Outdoor Advent so much, everyday has been an inspiration to follow the outdoor home schooling principles that are so important to us. I am so glad that I didn’t wait till next year to start this new tradition. It is not too late to follow along with us. Just visit Nicolette’s website WilderChild.com and print out your own Outdoor Advent Calendar. Then tape it to your fridge and let me know how you are making it your own. You can also follow along with us on Instagram with the hashtag #OutdoorAdvent.