A Family Hike + Our Annual Valentine’s Day Mission

Good morning and Happy Valentine’s Day! How was your weekend? I hope the past few days were filled with fun and relaxation for you and your loved ones. After two back-to-back travel weekends, we intentionally committed to nothing and enjoyed some much-needed downtime close to home.


Saturday felt like a glimpse into spring! Everyone in our area seemed to be out and about and for good reason! Temperatures were in the upper 60s and the sun was shining so you better believe we spent most of our day outside.

We made our way to a local hiking trail with the boys after breakfast and watching the boys run and scream excitedly when they found deer tracks and saw a hawk in a tree reiterated in my mind for the 1,000th time that kids don’t need much other than nature to be happy.

It’s their happy place and it’s my happy place and we had the best time exploring for 3.5 miles. (Well, for 3 of the 3.5 miles anyway. The last half mile was when the complaints started to come out but we powered through!)

Rhett was truly in his element and hiked a full mile (with a few little breaks) before he’d let us put him in the hiking backpack. One of his favorite activities in the world right now is just wandering around outside to his heart’s content and so hiking was right up his alley!

Chase, on the other hand, just wanted to hop over rocks and look for creatures in the stream while Ryder was all about holding my hand and looking for the best hiking sticks.

At one moment on our hike Chase said, “Oh Mom! I thought I heard Sadie running up behind us for a second!” I actually had a moment last week where I could’ve sworn the lump of blankets on our bed had Sadie wrapped up in them. Clearly Sadie is still on our mind a lot over here.

We spent the next 20 minutes of our hike telling silly Sadie stories and it was just really nice. We obviously miss her a ton  but the pain isn’t as acute. It’s more like a longing and a foggy sadness about the future without her but we smile about her much more often then we cry about her these days. We also saw a 4-year-old vizsla on our hike and had fun watching her hunt for fish and shadows in the stream just like Sadie would do on the exact same hike.

We made it home in time for lunch and then I got Rhett down for a nap and worked for a bit while Ryan took the boys fishing at the marina near our house. Once Rhett was awake and the big kids and Ryan were back home, we played in the yard, made cookies, made a quick visit to the new house and worked on some valentines for the boys’ classmates.

Chase’s school does something interesting where every child makes individual valentines for each student in their class. The valentines are short — just a couplet (two rhyming lines) — but it’s been quite the project to write couplets for each child (Chase and I actually had fun with this part!), decorate the valentines, etc. I honestly love the idea and think it’s so sweet and thoughtful but Chase isn’t exactly the kid who loves craft time so motivating him to sit down and work on his valentines has been something I’ve tried to stretch out over the past week to keep it from feeling too much like a chore and too overwhelming.

I’m happy to report Chase finished all of his valentines on Saturday night and is looking forward to the big exchange today! Ryder’s class, on the other hand, opted to make Valetine’s Day “Secret Santa-style” and each kid is responsible for bringing in a small toy and treat (under $10) and they’re going to swap small gifts.


Sunday morning temperatures dropped and clouds rolled in. It was the perfect dreary day for our annual Valentine’s Day mission! The boys, Ryan and I drove off to Target around 9 a.m. on Sunday and divided into teams.

Mom and Ryder vs. Dad, Chase and Rhett

(On me: Overalls / Sweater: Free People via ThredUp / On Ryder: Joggers: Threads 4 Thought via Stitch Fix Kids/ Flannel Hoodie: Sovereign Code via Stitch Fix Kids / High Tops: Reebok)  

We flip-flopped last year’s teams and, with a small budget in place, set off in search of little surprises for the other team. At first it was hard for Ryder to understand that we couldn’t get his brothers everything but when he zeroed in on an animal rescue Jeep for Chase, he was absolutely thrilled! Ryan and I started this little tradition when we were dating and have loved incorporating the boys into the fun over the course of the past few years. Our hope is that it will encourage the boys to take some time to think of each other and, judging by the gifts they selected for their brothers, I think they know each other pretty well!

Chase gave puzzle-master Ryder a glow-in-the-dark tiger puzzle and Rhett seemed thrilled with a new bath toy!

After the Valentine’s Day toy exchange, we got Ryder and Rhett down for naps before it was Harry Potter time! Chase and I finished the second book a while back and have been waiting for a moment to be able to watch the second movie together. We curled up on the couch and made it through about half of the movie before my father-in-law came over and the little guys were awake.

We spent the rest of the day hanging out around the house and watching the beginning of the Super Bowl before tackling bed time with the boys and calling it a night.

As for the week ahead, it’s business as usual around here! We have the usual mix of kid craziness as well as some house-related meetings and work demands. I’m also looking forward to spreading a little love today and hope you all have a wonderful Valentine’s Day! Please know our family appreciates you so much!

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