There is plenty to do outdoors even when the weather cools down. Holden and I love to go on walks around the neighborhood, but this time, I wanted to make our exploring a bit more intentional.
I created a fun nature scavenger hunt printable (click here for PDF) to help us find different sights, sounds, and textures on our walk.
We were having a great time strolling around with the wagon discovering new things. We found a soft fluffy textured plant, a plant with thorns, and Holden found a random piece of foam in the grass to be our most fascinating nature specimen. This item he wanted to keep in the wagon. The pinecones, bark, and pine needles—no way. They were gross offenders to his personal space in the wagon. I have to give him credit for finding such an unusually textured item.
We kept strolling.
At this point, I’m feeling like an awesome Mom for all the new things we’re seeing, touching, and talking about. (And all this with my little boy in two large leg casts. More about that in another post.) Just as I was about to pat myself on the back for a successful nature outing, we discovered the berries.
Ohhhh the berries.
And here’s how the rest of our walk went down.
Me: “Look at these pretty red berries, Holden! Remember, we never, ever eat berries that we find in the wild. Only berries that Mommy feeds you in the house.”
(Why oh why did I think that my 3 year old was ready for this information instead of viewing it as a direct challenge?)
As I’m turned the other way taking pictures of the aforementioned berries, I hear some lip-smacking noises and then, “mmmmmm, yummy!”
I whipped my head around to find Holden licking the berries!
I tried to figure out whether he had actually eaten them or just licked them. My head had only been turned for a few seconds, after all. He claimed that he did, in fact, eat them.
I decided that I had better figure out what kind of berries these are and what to do about this, but in the meantime, little man had deliberately disobeyed. So… he went to timeout….in the woods.
I sat Holden down facing a tree and explained that he was in timeout for licking the berries. He sat there and cried.
I then proceeded to try to wrench some berry specimens from the plant so that I could take them home and figure out what I was dealing with.
In the meantime, our brand new neighbor, one I had never met before, pulled into his driveway just across the street from our little wooded area. Holden immediately called out, “Hiiiiiiii! Hi, Mister! Come on over!” from his perch by the tree.
Yes, he is ridiculously extroverted, and yes, we need to work on him not inviting every random person to join in on whatever is going on. I think this skill will serve him well on the playground, though.
Our neighbor, who is clearly a pilot just like my husband, walks over. This means there’s no chance that we won’t encounter them again on many occasions. Awesome! I am set up to make a fabulous first impression. I awkwardly explain why my child is sitting facing a tree and why I am wrenching branches off of a perfectly lovely and perfectly living plant. Then I get Holden out of timeout and put him back into the wagon. As I’m talking with our wonderfully nice new neighbor, Holden tries to throw himself backwards out of the wagon.
Just because he’s three and not being the center of attention for more than 60 seconds is an outrage that must be rectified by contorting oneself in awkward positions, dislocating joints if at all possible, emitting sounds similar to that of a cow giving birth, and in all ways acting as if one is on the brink of death in order to right the spinning of the universe so that it does, in fact return to its natural state of revolving around said three year-old!
It was pretty much the most awkward way to meet a new neighbor ever! We parted ways with me explaining that I had better figure out whether my preschooler had earned a visit to the ER for stomach pumping.
When we got home, I discovered, thanks to some very helpful houseguests, that the berry in question was yaupon, a type of holly bush.
I found this fact sheet from the USDA and discovered that Holden’s stomach might not be a big fan of yaupon with some nausea and vomiting, but that he would be ok. I watched him closely, still not convinced that he had actually eaten any, and thankfully, he did not have any side effects.
All that to say, I hope you will enjoy your nature scavenger hunt even more than we did!