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She won't remember her best day of television...

One of our core philosophies in raising Ruby is the limit of screens. For the first 13-14 months of her life, the only time Ruby saw any screen (TV, Phone, Tablet, etc...) was to FaceTime family members, and only for a few minutes. We did not let her watch ANY t.v. at all, until she was almost 18 months old, and even now, she only gets to watch Sesame Street, Thomas the Train, and nature shows, and usually one or both of us is watching with her, engaging her with us and the show. She doesn't get to play on a tablet, or on our phones, or on a computer. We completely respect other parenting styles, and we don't exactly know if we're 100% right, but this is how we want to raise our daughter. We will occasionally start incorporating technology as she gets older, because this is 2017 and she'll need to know her way around technology, but not quite yet, in our humble opinion.

So what does Ruby do if she doesn't watch TV? We are always SO busy, and often outside! I plan on writing a future post on this, but our county has a fantastic public library system, and we are at the library at LEAST once a week, for story time, or music and motion, or some cool special program, like watching the police dog demo, or this week: mommy and me yoga! Another future blog post: playgrounds. Ruby has a ball at playgrounds, but we have to go to different ones, because she gets bored with the same old playground. If it is raining, we sometimes go indoors to a local recreation center for playtime in the gym, or open swim. And one of our favorite places is Prince William Forest Park, probably only 10-15 minutes away from our house.

Part of the National Park System, there is an entrance fee ($7 I think for the pass), BUT if you're military, you can get a free annual pass and then you're good to go! There is hiking, mountain biking, road biking, a playground, and a creek that makes for a great way to cool off on a warm day. Ruby LOVES hiking and exploring, so we typically end up here at least once a week, if not more. The trails we've been on are wide, smooth, and not too technical, perfect for a young hiker to practice her skills.

We think this is our lucky park. We were playing there one day, on the playground, and that got boring, so we started collecting pine cones, rocks, sticks, and acorns, when all of the sudden, Ruby had a friend helping her collect these cool things! Haley and her mama, Kate, also frequent the park, and luck had it we were there on the same day. Ruby really enjoys playing with Haley, who is a few months older, but does really great being a friend to my little girl. Here is a photo from their recent hike together. Note: Ruby is wearing the tail. She did admire Haley's beautiful pink cowgirl boots!

For almost 19 months, I feel like I've tried so hard to meet "mom friends" who ...

a) have a child close to mine in age, so they can play..

b) are willing to let their child play outside with mine and not be scared of a little dirt or a bruise and...

c) was cool enough to talk to, while our kids played.

I've answered other moms on a local mom Facebook page to meet and play, and I've met moms at story time and played, and tried so hard, but have never felt it "click." Other moms: know what I mean??? For example, my one friend from story time: she is amazing and sweet and I love hanging with her and her son! But she went back to work full time, and so we can't spend time like we used to, which is a bummer. But Haley and her mama fit all the above criteria, and we've been spending some time hanging out! It helps Ruby socialize and have a friend, and helps the mornings pass by until nap time much faster. Neither of us gets bored! And Haley and Kate are always up for any adventure....we've got them coming to story time now, which is awesome. We are so excited to do some playground research with them for our next blog post!

We were supposed to camp this past weekend, but because Brock had a late day Friday, and I work on Sunday, we ended up skipping it. Instead, Ruby and I hiked Friday at the park with Haley and Kate, and then we had so much fun, we went back today with Brock for another hike.

While we miss the mountains of the Pacific Northwest, I feel so grateful that this park is practically in our backyard. We haven't biked there yet, but as the leaves start to really change, I think biking would be a fun way to see the foliage. If you're ever in the area and need to escape the hustle and bustle of northern VA, I strongly recommend Prince William Forest Park. Another perk? Its hardly ever crowded. Where is your local escape? What is your favorite outdoor place to let your kids explore?? Any recommendations for Northern VA?

#princewilliamforestpark #takeyourkidoutside #womenhikers #babyhiker #toddlerhiker #playoutsidewithyourkid #nationalparksystem #familytime #parksofnorthernVA

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