In the life of a mother, it eventually becomes unacceptable to just stay home all the time. In fact, I've heard it said that being a "stay-at-home mom" is one of the least stay-at-homey occupations available. I have a talent for reclusiveness, but sometimes it's just a gorgeous spring day and it's simply no longer acceptable. I've noticed there are a few patterns that have emerged when going out into nature with the little ones.
1) In Nature, there will be a toy store. Nowhere is safe from for-sale stuffed animals.
2) It does not matter if you empty your pantry into your backpack. It will not be enough food. PACK MOAR FOOD.
3) When In Nature, a little known law of physics dictates that the toddler's shoes and socks will explosively fly off at every opportunity unless said toddler is standing on them. And sometimes even then.
4) Gravel is more interesting than walking, eating, sleeping, playing, adventuring, drinking water, or escaping from lions. Gravel is more interesting than if a bald eagle landed on mom's shoulder and nibbled on her ear. It is obviously, unquestionably more interesting than anything mom wants you to do, ever. Just run your fingers through the deliciously gritty substance...and again...and again...now throw it at your sister. Good.
5) Caution: Going Into Nature will result in peals of laughter, boundless inspiration, and effusive gratitude.
6) Snapping turtles are terrifying. If you see one your child will ask loudly why "men didn't kill them all". Also terrifying: old map replicas with sea monsters, frogs calling, and the unknown underside of the wetland boardwalk.
7) You'll have the illusion of preparedness (backpack full to the brim; binoculars case). It is, however, an illusion. The case will be empty; and see #2 rule about food and the contents of backpacks.
8) It will be sleeveless-hot in the sun and sweatshirt-cold in the shade. Initiate all the kid dressing/undressing shenanigans and related attitudes.
9) You will forget all Nature Knowledge as soon as a child asks you a question within earshot of Person Who Looks Like She Knows About Nature.
10) All Nature is 800% more interesting on the hurried return trip to the car, especially if you are trying to make lunchtime or snacktime or a vitally important appointment. Every previously-ignored log must be rolled over, every flower sniffed, every sign examined, every sound "what's that?!"-ed.
11) Once the kids finally lose interest and are ready to beeline to the car, you'll hear an interesting bird calling. Immediately reverse kid/parent roles.
12) The moment you start to feel slightly smug about having Exposed Your Children to Nature, one will insist that that thing over there is a "tree flump". And probably throw in something about dragons or fairies.
13) Ill-timed naps. Gonna happen.