The main objective on the collecting trip was to sample rivers and streams and collect insects, obviously. This post will show you what that looks like when you have a toddler and a baby with you. Adventures, for sure, but I love that this is just their lives. This is what they know and it is (and will continue to be) an intertwined part of our family story now. George knows how to just dive in and collect the insects with forceps and transfer them to the alcohol without even being asked. Pearl is fascinated by these icky little creatures and enjoys picking them up with her chubby fingers for closer examination. I am not as naturally thrilled about these bugs as the other three members of my family, but I am learning to be less horrified when a three-inch long stonefly lands on my face and wants to hang out there (those pictures will come in another post). When I think about the direction of John's career path, the overwhelming emotion I have is one of gratitude. Gratitude that he has found a way to do something that he loves and feels so much passion for. Gratitude that it will mean that our family has built-in adventures almost constantly and that our children will grow up with these kinds of experiences just being part of their lives. Gratitude that my horizons and interests will have opportunities to expand as John shares it all with me. I know that it is still a long road and that there will be bumps along the way and that there will be days that I don't like that my kitchen dishes have been turned into bug-filled sorting containers, but right now I just feel really blessed and grateful.
I love these photos because they are just an accurate glimpse into what collecting bugs in rivers looks like for our family. These people are my favorites.
Most of the time our collecting routine consisted of me hanging out with the kids on the banks,
while John went out into the river to kick up some rocks and see what he could find.
Then the whole family would get involved in the sorting/examining process. Notice Pearl reaching right in to help out. I tried to keep her away from the trays as much as I could (ya know, 14 month olds and open containers of alcohol and all), but she was so interested in it all that I had to let her explore a little.
I love George's gigantic stick here and the very pleased look on his face :). This was right about when I would have to put the camera down and run snatch Pearl up before she just trotted right into the water,
I don't mind helping with the sorting of bugs as long as I have forceps. George, on the other hand, is happy to dig right in with his hands. Pearl, too. I am not there yet. Maybe give me a few more years of this and we'll see.
She likes to touch and hold them. I don't get it, but I'm happy she does.
Often times John would be in the river for quite awhile trying to find what he needed, so the kids and I entertained ourselves. Pearl was just starting to take off with walking, so she loved just being free to roam around on her little feet.
And George is happy wherever there is a body of water and rocks/sticks to throw in, so we were good to go for the most part.
At one spot in New Mexico George taught Pearl how to throw rocks into the river herself. I sat back and watched this unfold (with my camera in hand, of course), without any intervening and it was so much fun to watch George show his little sister how to do something that he loved. Pearl was seriously delighted, as you can see. (George is in underwear because he had fallen on the riverbank and gotten his shorts all wet and muddy.)
Pearl started going for the boulders once she had mastered throwing in the little rocks :).
Here's a close-up shot at what the collecting tray would look like at a particularly successful spot. And look! I was on this trip, too!
Every once in awhile I remembered to give John the camera so that we could document the mama in this family. Here we are walking up from one of the rivers. I was in charge of getting the kids back and forth and John was in charge of getting the bugs back and forth :).
And since we're on a roll of pictures with me in them, here are a couple more of us all looking like we had been camping for a few days (we had). Disheveled and dirty, but happy :).
Camping and hot springs adventures up next.