Name: Raj, 10
Location: Cincinnati, OH
My oldest turned 10 a week ago, and that means I have been a mom for a decade! Amazing how it all goes by so fast. Wasn’t I just decorating a cake with sailboats on it for his first birthday? This year, my son decided to invite a small group of friends for a nature hike and birthday picnic. He has the best birthday party ideas, honestly, so every year we just go with his plans.
I rediscovered a wonderful nature center here in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Nature Center of Rowe Woods is picture perfect with a mix of trails and scenery with multiple habitats including a pond, field, forest and stream. When I called the Center, I found that we could have a guided tour for a small fee. Our guide, Carolyn, did an excellent job at keeping the kids interested, answering all of their questions and letting them have a full hands-on experience in each habitat. Also when I called, I asked about a picnic area where I could set up lunch and dessert for after the hike. Because we had a small group we only needed one table. With the chance of rain, we chose the patio off of the main building. This worked out perfect, as it had a beautiful quiet view, close location to the restrooms, a covered porch in case it rained (it didn’t!) and it was right next to their outdoor exploration center (fossils, leaf guides, bones and more for investigating).
I kept it super simple for the lunch- picking up recycled kraft boxes from Whole Foods, and filling them with individual wrapped sandwiches, popcorn, fruit and drinks. I made homemade brownies which were a huge hit and, of course, a few gummy worms! We were able to look at a compost bin in stages, so naturally we made good use of our food scraps after our lunch. I think that is something to think about when visiting a nature preserve- think about how you (and your party crew) can preserve nature!
I wanted to keep decorations simple. I decided to hand paint some simple “hiking” and “nature” themed items onto a canvas cloth. I used Martha Stewart craft paints in Seaweed and Chestnut Brown, and a black sharpie for small details. I added a few more to the lunch boxes. The second project I did was make simple Field Notes with brown, orange and white paper. I added a page of artwork by my son (who also loves to draw insects, birds and more) and a few pages of graph paper. I printed off a copy of the map where the kids were going to be hiking from the Nature Center’s website. Stapled them in the middle and attempted to stamp the fronts. That stamping is tricky. My son and I both gave it a try, and it takes a VERY STEADY HAND.
Lastly, the Nature Center has this awesome enclosed naturescape area where kids are allowed to use and build and play with whatever they like. Sounds pretty amazing right? Well it was. And these kids are pretty amazing too. They went right in and came up with a team building plan to move a pile of large logs and sticks up a creek and rocks to a hidden area to build a fort. As the parents arrived for pick up, we all were really impressed and agreed that this is one great treasure here in Cincinnati!
Cheers to a decade of firsts for us parents, and to one amazing boy!
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