Out To Eat With Toddlers

Rudy Mae

What our lunch started out as. Aw, look at these little angels…

Sammy G

Now, you might read this title and wonder if this is going to be a post with helpful tips and ideas about going out to eat with little ones. Oh no. This is exactly the opposite. This is me asking anyone, no, begging anyone, for their helpful tips and ideas.

My best friend Raven lives an hour away so we try to get together at least once a month. That is at best and does not usually happen. We are both extremely busy and often have conflicting schedules. So when we do finally make it happen, we like to have fun and often will do a quick lunch out with the girls. Now, the older they are getting, the more difficult this is becoming. Rudy Mae is 21 months and Sammy G is nearing 18 months. They absolutely do not want to be in highchairs. They do not want to keep a reasonable volume. They do not want to eat what we order. For both Raven and myself, these little stinkers are our third child. We have done it all before. However, both of us have nearly a 10 year age gap between the girls and their next sibling. So maybe we’ve forgotten the little things, but whatever we’re doing is not working. And we ARE ‘doing’. We’ve tried:

  • preventative measures such as bringing along a little snack while they waited for food.
  • After that was gone, ordering them a little snacky to continue to hold them over.
  • drawing, coloring, playing…
  • taking them out of their seats and letting them sit on our laps.
  • letting them walk around a little bit to get their energy out.
  • etc, etc, etc…

I really do not want to have to say “Well, we are just going to have to wait until they are a bit older to continue going out to eat with them.” We barely ever get to see each other, we have been best friends for over 20 years, and I really cherish the time I get with them. Of course, we do not HAVE to eat out, I realize this, but it is just a fun little thing that we really enjoy. If it really came down to it, we would temporarily pause this custom and start back up after they are a little older.

For now, though, if anybody has any amazing A-HA! ideas, please let me know. We could use all the help we could get.

What our lunch started to turn into.

What our lunch started to turn into.

Bashing drinks. General crankiness. Trying to explore away from us.

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Clifton Gorge

I can be lazy and even though I hate that about myself, I seldom go out of my way to change it. Take for example, the area where I live. I have lived in Yellow Springs, Ohio for over 3 years now. There are so many nature-places nearby that I have been telling myself I want to explore ever since I came here. There’s the Glen (read my last post for more on that) and I have managed to get over there plenty of times, but not as many, honestly, as I should. There’s John Bryan State Park, only about 3 miles or so from my house, and I have only been there once, and not even for exploring, but just for a picnic (it was a very tasty picnic, though). And then there’s Clifton Gorge, roughly 4 miles from my front door and in over 3 years of living here, I have never set foot there. Or had never. That is, until I got a very lovely, and very welcome phone call last week.

My cousin Lauren and I grew up incredibly close. We were always together, less than a year apart and I loved her dearly. Then, as sometimes happens, we grew older and grew apart. We just didn’t see each other as often and I never thought about going out of my way to make sure we still did (my lazy side?). Now as adults, we are reconnecting better than ever. She is married to an absolutely wonderful man, Dan, and has two incredible children, Adelaide and Lyla. They live in Columbus, so, in addition to my best friend Raven, they are closer to me than anybody else, family or friend, excepting those that live in the Dayton area, of course. Sadly, we still do not manage to get together as often as we could, but the times we do are lovely.

So back to Clifton Gorge. Last week, they phoned and said that they were going to be venturing there and since it is in my backyard, asked if we would like to join them. I wish that Caleab would have been able to join us, but he had to work. However, Rudy Mae and I met up with Dan, Lauren, Adelaide, and Lyla at Clifton Gorge and went on a hike of epic proportions. To say it was hot would be a joke. It was a lava pit. And we went the wrong way at first. And we had some falls. And we had some crying (that would be my child). But what I remember and hold on to the most is, we had a ton of laughs. And it was absolutely beautiful. And we had a terribly terrific time.

Upon seeing the Hughes family, Rudy Mae got pretty excited.

Not 10 steps onto the path and you are greeted by this sign. It was a nice welcome to the group with two toddlers who insist on walking on their own.

We were lagging behind, and the roots tripped us up even more. Down goes the girl.

I was cracking up when Adelaide leaned in and peered into Rudy’s face.

Sizing each other up.

Hmm…was someone putting the rocks they were picking up in their mouth??

Going down?

Lauren and Lyla lead the way.

Beautiful.

The deeper we got and higher the rock walls got, it seemed to offer a degree or two of cool down.

Thank goodness I’m so out of shape, not that I wouldn’t mind the sign if I wasn’t.

Had it been just a bit cooler, it would have been completely blissful.

The trees were growing out near the top of the cliffs at such an odd angle.

“Have we reached Steamboat Rock yet??” The answer is no.

Along the rock wall, here and there were little ledges like the wall wanted you to set down a cool drink and relax.

They just sat down together in the dirt once we reached Steamboat Rock. It was super precious.

Sharing leaves and rocks.

And rocks…

and leaves.

This beautiful spunky little girl makes my heart smile!

Ok, it’s now way past naptime. I think she started to feel it.

Adelaide doesn’t sit still for long! She’s ready to get back to business.

This was our ultimate goal: getting a photograph with Steamboat Rock. The rock itself was pretty anticlimactic. This was certainly a case of “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” :)

I didn’t forget you, Lyla dear! You were just tucked away in a back pack and I didn’t see you as much!

Adelaide rounded off the nature walk by reading a book about root-children (I believe that’s what Lauren said). I swear as she was reading aloud, she was pointing at the little characters and now and then inserting a “Rudy”. So sweet.

The Tradition (Hopefully) Continues…

Anybody who knows me, will at least know of, if not know, my best friend Raven. We have been best friends since we were 10. It is so ingrained into our minds of being best friends forever that one time when some guy was asking me about my significant other “So, how long have you guys been together?”, Raven, without hesitation, answered “13 years.” not trying to be funny, but really thinking he was asking about us. (It’s now been 20 years, dear me, that makes me feel so old!) We are incredibly close,  but are also each incredibly busy, so some time might pass now and then between visits. She lives in Bexley (Columbus), Ohio, and I in Yellow Springs (Dayton), Ohio so it’s not just a trip around the corner anymore, and takes a little more planning and a little more effort.

“We’re ‘E’ ‘R’ and we’ll send you to the *clap* EMERGENCY ROOM.”

Raven has two boys, Jon (13) and Eliot (12) from a previous relationship. I have Ziven (13) and Calum (10) from a previous relationship. They all grew up together and were very close, more at some times than others (at the end, right before Raven moved to Bexley and we were all still in Toledo, we were helping babysit each others kids at least twice a week each). When she moved, I was crushed. I went down twice in a month the very first month, and then real life took over and I realized that I couldn’t make that kind of a trip that often. Fate stepped in when I met Caleab, and I eventually moved to Yellow Springs, which in addition to living with the love of my life and finding the best community on Earth, brought me much closer to Raven, from 3 hours down to just 1.

Fast forward just a wee bit, and Raven married one of the greatest men on Earth, AJ, in July of 2010, and I married Caleab (you got it- the other greatest man on Earth) in September 2010. While wedding planning, just a short time away from our big day, Caleab and I got the most exciting (and slightly terrifying) news we could imagine- we were pregnant! I wanted so badly for Raven and AJ to join us, as I knew that they were possibly planning on trying shortly after their wedding to get pregnant, and lo and behold, just 3 months later, Raven and I were sharing morning sickness stories. (I will never forget the phone call I received from Raven. I screamed, I cried, I wanted to run all the way to her house and give her the biggest double pregnant hug in the world!)

So. Two old boys and two old boys. And now, as we could not believe we were lucky enough to achieve, a baby girl each. Although, “toddler” might be the technical term now, as Rudy Mae is 15 months, and Sam just had her first birthday. I know we cannot force friendship on them, but with moms like us, and it being in their blood, how can they not be? ;) We jokingly say that they are best friends, but I really do dream of the day when Rudy Mae looks at me with her huge, saucer eyes and refers to Sammy G as her “very best friend”.

Rudelle Mae and Samantha Gail.

At Sammy G’s birthday party, Aunt Raven gives Roo a big hug.

Rudy and Sammy playing in the little geysers.

Really enjoying the water.

“Hey Sammy, where you goin?”

Wait for it….

Dried off and back at the house, the girls played in the backyard for quite some time.

Happy Birthday, Samantha Gail!!!

Sam was looking up the slide, getting ready to climb the mountain.

Climbing up! Rudy is standing at the bottom, slightly intrigued, slightly concerned.

“Here, I’ll help you.”

When I get this look, I know it’s time to chill out on the photograph taking.