Years ago, before kids, Kory and I decided that we wanted to start a tradition of getting out to a local natural area for a Christmas Day hike. Gifts are wonderful, and much appreciated, but what we truly value as a couple is spending time together, outdoors. Now that we have our daughters, we feel it is even more important to honour this tradition.
Life happens, I’ve worked or been on call on several Christmas days over the past years and we haven’t been out as much as we would have liked. It’s so easy to make excuses. (I feel like I should mention that we have been on several BOXING day hikes over the years). This year, we enjoyed an amazing Christmas morning. At 3.5 years old, Em is right into the spirit and magic of the season and it’s so special to watch. By the time we finished breakfast, the big girl was experiencing that most challenging combination of hyper and tired, and the baby was overdue for a nap. The car wasn’t packed, we were all in pjs. We almost stayed home. But (and this warms my heart), Em started insisting that we go. “No, mama! We HAVE to go to the tree park!”, she screamed (over and over, lol). Truly, we all wanted (i.e., needed) to get outside, and Em gave us the push that we needed. We quickly donned some layers and loaded up the car to head to Holiday Beach Conservation Area.
It was technically a white Christmas, though it was well above freezing and the snow was melting away. Lovely weather for a hike (with rubber boots on, of course)!
We were surrounded by Black-Capped Chickadees, Cardinals, White-Breasted Nuthatches and Blue Jays, with visits from crows, a swamp sparrow, Brown Creeper, and a pair of Great Blue Herons (probably many more species, but I bird largely by ear whilst tending to 2 children, so…). Just being outside helped us relax and walk away the tension that surrounds this season.
After a bit, Lyssa fell asleep in the wrap, and daddy and Em lead the way along the trail. I think we were all hoping to see an owl, but it’s never a disappointment when the whole family gets out for a stroll.
This was just a quick walk, but I can definitely share some hints about what helped keep it a warm and dry experience (and what didn’t work).
Baby Gear Lyssa is wearing the Ursus Fleece Bunting Suit from MEC. I picked it up second hand for an awesome price, but I would have totally invested in a new one had I not found it. It is perfect for our Essex County winters. They run large – she is swimming in her 12 month size. I could easily add layers underneath if needed. For this quick hike with temps above freezing, Lyssa is wearing a short sleeved bodysuit and a long sleeve t-shirt, fleece pants, wool socks, and a second pair of boot-like socks (no brand, unfortunately as I got them second-hand). Her upper body was almost too warm (!) and her feet, which have been more challenging to keep toasty, were just fine after this outing.
Boots! BOGS! I love them! I regret that I have wasted money and landfill space on a few pairs of cheap rubber boots. They leak. These BOGS are warm, comfortable, and waterproof going on their second winter. My feet run (very) cold, so I would likely need something warmer for up north, but again, for Essex County winters, these are perfect. I purchased directly from the BOGS website on a clearance sale. Em is wearing a toddler-size pair of BOGS that I found at a local consignment store. They are great too, but I do wish they came up a bit higher on her legs. She has super small feet, much like her mama, and gets soakers easily. We came prepared with extra socks.
Splash pants and leggings. Em recently (finally) had a growth spurt and outgrew her MEC splash pants. I replaced them with a pair from Walmart – she wanted pink and MEC only had black in stock. Yeah, they soak right through, unfortunately. I had high hopes because the Walmart pair was lined, but nope. She was wearing fleece-lined leggings from The Children’s Place underneath. They are super cozy and are holding up well so far! Fleece (and wool, of course – love wool!) will retain some warmth when wet, whereas damp cotton will make you super cold.
My wrap (babywearing). A luxury for sure but so darn cozy. This one is a 50% wool handwoven wrap and is just lovely to wrap with on a cold day. I think Lyssa likes it too as she has fallen asleep in it nearly every day this month. Truly though, baby will stay warmer in the outdoors if she can share in your body heat as opposed to being separate (like in a stroller), so any type of babywearing is awesome. When I babywear with a bunting suit, I always check that she has lots of loose fabric around her feet and that the pants are not pulling up on her toes.
We had a great time at Holiday Beach. After our mini adventure, we had just enough time to eat lunch, clean up and join family for dinner. I’m so happy that we pushed aside the excuses and got outdoors this Christmas. From our family to you and yours, Happy Holidays!