A Very Special Friend

Nathan was the first of our kids to attach to a stuffy. When the twins were just a couple of months old, my sister sent them a box filled with outfits too cute for words and two little stuffed animals. Catheryn got an elephant and Nathan, a cow. Nathan’s intense attachment to this little cow began almost instantly.

As an infant, Nathan was a thumb-sucker, and he had this habit of holding the cow’s rear-end while doing so. This little stuffy eventually became known as “CowCow” and he accompanied Nathan everywhere. There was no leaving the house without CowCow. No going to bed without CowCow. No functioning without CowCow.

Nathan and this little cow were so inseparable that I began to worry what would happen if CowCow were to be lost. So I started looking for a replacement, just in case, but no matter how hard I looked, I could not find one. It was as if Gund had never even created this particular cow. Finally, after referring to the tag, I began searching for “Sprinkles 5824”, which was the name given to the cow by Gund. I quickly learned why all of my prior searches had ended in failure. CowCow was not a cow at all, he was a hippo. Once I finally found him online, I was amazed at how beautiful he was. It had been some time since Nathan’s little friend had been that bright and clean.

The funny thing about lovies is that the older and more worn they get, the more beautiful and special they become. CowCow was loved. He was so much more than a simple stuffed animal, he was a part of the family.

At eight years old, Nathan still loves his cherished stuffy. Wherever Nathan is, you can be assured that CowCow is not far away. I can honestly say that CowCow has become as special to me as he is to Nathan. He is Nathan’s whole world, and when I see that little cow, I see my baby. And every stage of his precious life.

I suppose that eventually Nathan will move on and CowCow will be left behind, as always seems to happen as one grows up. I dread that day, but hopefully it is still a long way off. I look forward to many more hikes with CowCow. And tea parties. And board games. I am not ready for him to leave our family, any more than I am ready for my baby to grow up.

But no matter how old Nathan gets, CowCow will always be special. I am grateful that he has been such a special friend for Nathan, and I am grateful that he is a part of our family.

Can we keep him?

I am so that glad my kids are not afraid to touch things. They stick their hands into dark, damp holes and don’t even think twice about it. I admire this about them. Their courage, their bravery. Or perhaps it falls more along the lines of craziness and insanity? I am not exactly sure, but must they bring home everything they find?

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I have gotten used to the various lizards, some living and some not so much. I am not sure how they manage to find some of the little guys, but they do have a talent for it. I guess they get tired of lizards after a while and feel the need to mix it up a little. I am not sure if I should be grateful for this or not, but it doesn’t seem to matter one way or another. They bring home their new “friends” regardless.

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Isn’t he just adorable? All right, maybe adorable isn’t quite the right word here. I turned down multiple offers to pet him, and instead encouraged the kids to take him on home, to his home, that is. I am sure his mama was missing him.

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And then there was the turtle, which Nathan found just this afternoon. Unfortunately, this little guy must have had a rough winter, because he was dead. Learning this made Natie cry because he loves turtles so much. But he did what any turtle-lover would do, he buried him. And after a short service, he went off in search of a live one.

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I am sure that if he does not find another turtle, he will find something else worthy of bringing home. Another toad perhaps, or some more caterpillars, another bird or a baby bunny. And when the kids arrive home with their new-found friend, they will ask the age-old question:

“Can we keep him?”

Welcome Spring!!

We decided to celebrate the arrival of the wonderful new season with a hike up a mountain. We are taking part in the “Hike the Smokies for Families” and the goal is to log 50 miles in the park. Rob had the day off today so it was the perfect time to add some mileage to our book. We chose Mt. Sterling since it is relatively close to home and had a decent distance to it without being too unrealistic this early in the season. Hiking in was fun because it was uphill. Every. Single. Step. I kid you not, but I suppose this is how it goes when you are on your way up to a lookout tower!

I am amazed every time we take the kids out just how well they do hiking. They do stop from time to time for a quick rest, and they cannot be quiet to save their lives, which makes seeing any wildlife pretty much impossible, but they are such good sports! No matter how far we try to drag them, they always go willingly, rarely complain about anything and they have never once asked to turn back. They absolutely rock.

As I mentioned, we will never see any wildlife while out on the trail, we just make too much noise. William can’t leave sticks alone, and once he gets one in his hand, he proceeds to whack everything that crosses his path. And they all like to talk. A lot. When we were almost at the top of the mountain today, Catheryn spotted a paw print in the mud. It was a fresh print, made not long before we passed by, but the black bear who left it heard us coming, no doubt, and was long gone.

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As we rounded the corner, we finally caught our first glimpse of the lookout tower.

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Everyone wanted to climb to the top, despite the fact that it was old and rickety. I, too, wanted to make it to the top for a few pictures, but as we got closer, I realized it was much taller than I had originally thought.

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I don’t consider myself to be afraid of heights, but this was a bit much for me. I attempted, but couldn’t make it past the second platform. I handed the camera to Rob so he could take some pictures for me and he and the boys went to the top. Catheryn and I sat on the bottom steps and ate some trail mix, hoping to see a black bear walk by.

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As imagined, the view from the top was pretty amazing, even if I did have to see it in pictures. After a break and small snack, we began making our way back down the mountain. It was cold and getting colder, so we were grateful that the trip down went much faster than the trip up.

We saw only one person in the 4 hours and 15 minutes it took us to complete the hike, and he was headed down while we were still heading up. We may not have seen any animals, but we had a good time anyway. It was peaceful. And beautiful. And I cannot think of a more wonderful way to welcome Spring, the most amazing of all seasons.

This evening I logged 5.4 miles in our book, which takes us to the first milestone: a stamp at 10 miles.