A Very Toddler Summer

As far as Alaskan summers go, this one has been pretty quiet for family of three-soon-to-be-four. Last summer was full of camping and fishing trips, exploring Kachemak Bay and beyond by boat, flying exciting places by plane. This summer, not so much. This summer, we're staying close to home while we wait for kid #2 to make its appearance. We really could have timed this better but in the grand scheme of things, I know it's not a big deal, no matter how restless I'm feeling.

A few months back, I took Toddler to a Tenderfoot Tidepooling class where a wonderful marine biologist took kids her age and older out to the beach at low tide to find and name all sorts of marine invertebrates. Tidepooling has replaced dinosaurs as her most favourite thing and now, every weekend, she asks Hunter to take her out on the boat to look for octopuses and sea stars and tickle giant barnacles. How on earth can we say no to that?

So that's where you'll find us every weekend - out combing the beaches of Kachemak Bay at low tide with our critter identification cards, searching for sea life.  Today's trip was pretty neat. We found all sorts of chitons and sea anemones. We found a cluster of thatched barnacles to tickle and the biggest bull kelp I've ever seen.

Toddler's ready for more. On the boat ride back to Homer, she goes through her identification card and reminds herself what she found that day and points out what she'd like to find (a brown sea star, a hermit crab with blue eyes and another octopus den). There are more than a few critters that aren't on the cards that Hunter and I can't exactly identify. She doesn't seem satisfied with our half-answers. So now we're on the hunt for a more comprehensive, toddler-friendly, invertebrate identification system. It's sort of an odd thing to be looking for but that's what we're doing.

I often wonder if any of this will matter to her when she's older. Maybe she's found her passion in life? Maybe this is a passing fancy? She may not even remember Sunday morning tide pooling when she's older. Maybe, at some point she'll decide sea creatures are gross and go into fashion design? Who knows. For now, I feel good about spending her last summer as an only child pursuing her interests.

I also feel like we're among the luckiest parents to live in a place that has so much to offer little kids.