Nate and I try to get the boys out-and-about as much as we can. There are so many magical places to explore in this world!

Getting outdoors to play with family

One of the downsides of being away from home so frequently, though, is that we start to slack off on food and find ourselves hitting up the drive-through for meals. I've been trying to get us back in the habit of planning out drinks and snack stops along the way, especially since the baby requires long feeding sessions that have us all sitting around for awhile.

The other boys inevitably start eyeing nearby shops and I NEED to have something healthy on hand or they'll turn to sweets – which lead to meltdowns – and our fun's over. Bringing along little bites means we can stretch adventure days longer and hold out for a nice, healthy dinner when we get home.

Casual family restaurant

I love this little cafe in our town that serves up small salads and tea. There's not a ton for the kids to eat but it's an awesome refueling station for mom and dad. It's become our go-to break when we have errands and need the kids to play away some of their boundless energy.

Pure Playtime

The managers are super low-key, having had six kids themselves, and they don't care if our boys go all Rambo all over the deck.

Pure Playtime

There's also a big, giant field adjacent to the patio, so we get to rest and enjoy watching them clamber all over the place (knowing they're bound to take an awesome car nap on the way to our next spot!).

Blowing dandelions

It's also a good chance for me and Nate to get a little one-on-one conversation time with the big kid, while his younger brothers are distracted. We've noticed him stealing away from them a lot lately, coming to us for “older people conversation,” and his insights are a welcome addition. It's amazing to me how inquisitive he is about science and math. He wants to fully understand the way his body and the world work and how all things operate within the context of other things.

Kids playing in the open field

Last time we were at the cafe, he overheard me exclaiming to the waiter how much I love their gluten-free offerings.

“What's gluten?” my inquisitive 5-year-old asked.

The waiter kind of chuckled and gave me a look that said, “this one's all yours.”

I grasped at words a bit, trying to describe the material found in many flours. “It's a sticky sort of substance,” I explained, “that holds together a lot of breads and pastas.”

CLIF Kid

Kids are very visual, so I pulled out their snacks (gluten-free Zbar Protein from our sponsor CLIF Kid) to demonstrate. “Do you see how Dada's pecan bread slice looks a lot like your peanut butter bar? His is a different texture, though. They're both made with grains, but his has gluten in it. That's why it looks like it has a different sort of pattern. Gluten hurts my tummy, so I like to eat things like these bars that don't have gluten in them.”

I could see his little wheels turning.

“Is that why you don't eat birthday cake at parties?” he asked. “Because it has gluten in it?”

CLIF Kid

I explained that a lot of people aren't allergic to gluten like I am, so those people choose to cook with wheat-based flour. It doesn't mean that I'm missing out! In fact, some of our family's favorite things are gluten-free AND filled with great ingredients to keep our bodies going.

He looked skeptical, so I again gave him the example of his chocolate-covered CLIF Kid Zbar Protein bar, with 5 grams of protein and a bunch of fiber.

Toddler hanging out at the cafe

“I definitely like bars better than Dada's bread,” he concluded. “And I'm glad that you can eat the same snack as me!”

I've gotta say, I appreciate the convenience as well. It means I can come prepared with a bag full of bars, get snack time done, and be on to the next great adventure.

The future belongs to the curious quote

Here's to more afternoons spent pondering molecules.

Do you incorporate questions and conversation into your outdoor play time?

The future belongs to the curious...quote