A Saturday morning: Hubby and Doodlebug are at ballet. Smiley is sleeping. Rascal is itching to go exploring (code word for “nature walk”), but we are tied to the baby monitor and our own small yard. As I’m scrambling to think of a thrilling alternative to a walk, he picks out “adventure tools” for us and heads out back.

His tool is an abstract Lego creation; mine a small, plastic airplane. “Use the tip of it to explore things, Mama,” he explains.

Gotcha.

We snoop around the playscape and spy ants on the slide. We dig through the pebbles for crystals and look for locust shells hanging on the big live oak. We use his Lego thingie and my airplane to locate incredible finds among the bamboo lining the fence (A wire holder! A bump on the bamboo that looks like a frog! A leaf magically suspended in the air!).

For an hour we explore, dig, observe and speculate. We document our findings in both photos and writing. And when the baby monitor starts fussing we head inside, energized and fulfilled as if returning from some worldly excursion.

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