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Katy England Katy England
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Sticks and stones

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When the kids were first born you could take them outside, plop them in a pack and play or car seat and throw some mesh to keep the bugs off. And if you weren't entirely exhausted by lack of sleep, you could conceivably do some yard work.

Once they started walking, that kind of went out the window. For the first couple of years, walking was way more trouble than it was worth. They fell off of everything. They fell from standing. Add ice and snow into the mix and it would get especially comical. Basically, even if you were hovering around them like an insane mama-bird, they'd fall and need to be righted, or aim dead for the swamp with their plastic vehicles and have to have a sudden course correction.

In other words, there is a reason why my yard looks like a jungle. But this year, I'm taking it back little bits at a time. And wonder of all wonder, the triplets are helping me. Now that I don't have to worry (as much) about them taking diggers every second step, I can turn my backs on them a little at a time. Yes, everyone shows an unhealthy interest in my tree loppers and pruning shears, but what kid doesn't want to play with them? I remember being delighted when my dad let me have at the weeds with a set of grass trimmers.

I'm not giving my kids the shears this year, but they are delighted to put sticks into piles and rocks into buckets. They wanted to pick up sticks faster than I could fell saplings I may have even pulled a muscle trying to keep up with them. They will take the bucket of rocks and (most of the time) dump them out where I ask them to. Or just in a heap on the lawn it's really 50-50 but they are helping.

They have their own size rakes and shovels and will help when I rake the dead grass off the lawn and make suggestions on which sapling I should fell next. My son even grabbed his own 'axe' (a 3-foot long yellow tube) and helped 'cut down trees.'

We've found beetles, salamanders, looked at birds, talked to spiders and looked at flowers just starting to grow. And we can explore the deep dark woods without the imminent threat of someone eating dirt every 10 paces. Of course, I underestimated the challenges of hiking while having two 3-foot-tall girls holding both of your hands: balance goes out the widow, as does bug slapping and getting hair out of your own mouth. It's the little things.

But with great freedom comes greater risk. Boundaries are forever being tested, and it's good irritating, but good. But the air has finally warmed up, the mud has dried and spring is finally here. Blue skies are smiling at me. Nothing but blue skies do I see.

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