Bedtime Stories in the Park

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It was a close to bedtime, 90 minutes until we put it all away until the next day.  I still hadn't gone for my run and wanted to squeeze it in before we all said goodnight.

Right before I closed and locked our front door, I quickly grabbed a handful of snacks, a picnic blanket, and water bottles filled with ice cold water, and shoved them into the jogging stroller. 

We went on our run, pointing out our familiar sites....the horse stables in the backyard of the Race Track, the one black goose we always see swimming under the bridge, the library we love to visit, and "oh isn't the river higher than it was last week?". 

We turned around at halfway and started back again, but a half mile from our home, I stop.

What are you doing, Mom? 

Why are you stopping?

Spreading out the picnic blanket, I tell the girls that we are going to have bedtime stories in the park tonight, instead of at home in their room.

I pass out the favorite books of each girl right now, along with snacks and water.  The girls sigh with happiness as they munch on goodness and listen as I pick up Reese's book and read with the deep voice I give to Gerald, and then the squeaky voice I give to Piggie. Elephant and Piggie books are a favorite in our home! 

One by one, I read excerpts out of Pooh's Get Well Book (full of delightful riddles and poems) for my Holland girl.  I then pick up The Dream Keeper, a brilliant collection by Langston Hughes.  As I explain that Hughes was a prolific poet and helped champion the birth of Jazz poetry, Liv (my girl who thinks history was just MADE for her and likes to make those connections) begs me to play some Jazz music, so I do.  Tuned in to Pandora on my phone, we listen and bask in dusk and read words that speak volumes more than we could ever interpret.

And then, afterwards, the girls can't help but pick up their books and read some more, because once a book is opened, it begs to be read again and again.  

I see the sun turn gold and sprinkle at blonde hair through cottonwood branches and I know our time, well spent, is coming to an end.

We bid adieu to this bedtime moment, and then we turn around and hightail it home because it is bedtime, don'tcha know. 

I do love to surprise my girls and make moments special for them.  Would you share some of your favorite ways to do this with your children?

* tune in and listen to one of my favorite Langston Hughes' poems,  A Dream Deferred. Hughes was an American poet, novelist, and playwright and made history as the first African American to fully support himself with his writing.  He was an impactful leader during the Harlem Renaissance.  He also wrote a beautiful children's story about Popo and Fifina, two children living in Haiti long ago.