Midafternoon. The dining room is still trashed from our day of scrapbooking. I don’t have enough energy to clean up, so I decide instead to take the four youngest out for a walk. I put the baby in the baby carrier while the kids scramble to find their shoes. I zip my hubby’s winter parka over both the baby and me, and we’re off. At the mailbox the kids declare their desire to see the cows, so we turn left and head down the road toward the neighbors.

The kids are immediately running ahead, joyful in the chilly air. I holler after them to remind them to wait for me at the next mailbox. They run back and forth to me twice before I get there. By then the three year old is panting and sits down. I coax her to her feet as the boys run ahead again. They pause to throw a few weeds to some horses, who disdainfully ignore them.

The 3 year old slides down the gravely edge of the road toward the pasture fence to also visit the horses. By then the boys have moved on, and she discovers she can’t climb up the steep edge alone. So I walk back and pull her up the hill. She and I walk hand in hand to meet the boys who are obediently waiting for us at the next mailbox.

A little way beyond that they spot a dog in a fenced front yard. The dog wags his whole back end enthusiastically as the kids chatter at him. Then one of the boys raises his arm, coaxing the dog to jump up as we do with our dog, and the dog’s whole demeanor changes. He slinks away from us, obviously afraid the 7 year old is planning to hit him. Hmm. Glad I didn’t let the boys pet him through the fence.

We walk on. By this time the boys are only a few steps ahead of me and the three year old keeps lagging behind, needing coaxing to keep up with us. Within a couple minutes we arrive at ‘the cows’– a dozen or so of them, in a small and sordid pen fronted by a beefy board fence. I moo at the cows and talk to the baby about them. She is wide-eyed and impressed. One of the boys gets a pungent whiff of cow and holds his nose.

The three year old takes a sniff too and looks closer. “Are they standing in poop, mommy? Why are they standing in poop? Do they like it?”

I agree that they look pretty disgusting, inwardly smiling remembering the numbers of kids who have taken walks this way with me over the years and the similarity of their comments. Soon 2 neighbor dogs, loose as always, come sniffing up to us. They are friendly and the 3 year old is delighted by them. ‘They loooove me!” she exults.

The 7 year old whose birthday is coming soon is reminded of his current reason to nag mom heart’s desire and immediately resumes. “Mommy, I need a pet.”

I remind him that we are proud owners of a dog, 2 cats, 2 horses, 3 guinea pigs and 4 birds, but he disdainfully reminds me that none of these expensive creatures are ‘his’. He wants something of his own. Silly me.

To distract him, I tell them it is time to turn back toward home. As soon as I turn around I am shocked to discover that it is MUCH colder than I thought it was. Seems on the way there we’d had the wind at our backs, but now we are walking into the wind and it is BITTER out.

A minute later I hear a howl. One of the 7 year olds has somehow accidentally tripped the 3 year old and she had scuffed both hands and one knee in the fall. I wipe away her tears and kiss the owies. The baby is looking less than thrilled at the wind suddenly in her face, and as I check to make sure the coat is still covering all of her, I realize I have gotten out the door with her barefoot. Poor kid. The coat is long enough to cover her feet, but the wind is really powerful.

About halfway home as I am again urging the three year old to keep walking, I realize my chin is getting so numb I am strugging to form my words. About then my friendly hand-in-hand walk with the 3 year olds turns into something more like a tow rope. She needs a bandaid, the baby need socks for-goodness-sakes, and I can’t feel my face anymore.

Shuffling limply into our driveway on the end of mom’s tow rope, the three year old mourns the fact that the 7 year olds beat us home. They, on the other hand, are thrilled that the neighbor dog has walked the whole way home with them. They would like nothing more than to get the dog some light refreshment and claim him as their own. Judging by the dog’s sizeable girth, I would guess that the way to his heart is indeed through his stomach and I will take no such chance.

I hustle the whole crew inside to get coats off by the fire and warm up my chin and my child. I pause in dismay at the chaos that greets my eyes. Still trashed. Darn. And now I’m even more tired than before. Who ever said exercise was invigorating, anyway?

Time elapsed: 17 minutes.


  1. I can almost smell the country air (not so sure that's a good thing from reading your post), feel the cold, and see the sights. Isn't this what family walks are made of? Thanks for sharing this! Will make for many memories to come. (esp. now that you blogged it!) 🙂

  2. Seventeen minutes?? I would've guessed an hour at least. 🙂 I loved your memory of having taken the same walk with your other kids through the years. And the housecleaning elves didn't visit you either, eh? They're never around when ya need 'em. ;^)