Michael on November 7th, 2007
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Last Sunday, we had stunningly beautiful weather in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. To take advantage, especially as we head into the long New England winter, my wife, daughter, and I took a long walk to a playground on the other side of town.

For several yeas before our daughter was born, my wife and I took numerous walks together. I suppose it was just one of those things some couples enjoy while others consciously avoid. To each their own, right?

Now that our daughter is in the picture, our walks are even more sacred. With the accompanying time pressure, it has become harder to do them and, when they do occur, there’s three of us now–never just two. But as a proud father, I’d never trade my new life for the one I had before.

So there we were walking across town when we ran into friends who were also out for a morning stroll–and, also, with their children. So we formed a stroller parade and walked together before we each went our ways. (We had already promised our two-year old a visit to the playground and while adults experience plenty of spontaneity with a young child, it’s the child’s whims–not your own–which are followed. A mid-course change in plans, already en route to the playground was, to put in mildly, not advisable.)

Just as well. We completed our walk to the playground. Up and down on the see-saw we went. I was on one side, my daughter on the other, with my wife “spotting” her. A true blast. But the morning took on an entirely new meaning when we discovered an enormous pile of leaves up the park hill, above the playground.

Anyone who grew up in an area where leaves fall each year has special memories of laying down and jumping in the piles. Growing up in New York State, I was fortunate–every year I had this experience. But my wife is from New Mexico, so if she had tried jumping in a pile of cactus pins, well, let’s just say she still might not be comfortable.

Alas, in New Hampshire there are few cacti. So the three of us played vigorously, tackling one another and throwing leaves all around. Suddenly, it was easy to remember what this felt like as a child (although I must confess I hadn’t thought about any autumn-related memories in quite a while.)

But it was a totally different experience as a parent. Truly special, my wife and I agreed as we walked home. And my daughter has talked about “pouncing in the yeaves” every day since.

Was it a great morning? Sure, but it was much more. If nothing else good happens until December, I’ve already had a great month. Last Sunday’s experience at the park is something that will be with me forever: my daughter’s first time playing in the leaves. We made a memory together.

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You may recall number 4 of the Top 10 Saving Strategies: Enjoy Free Stuff. It’s a critical component to living Beyond Paycheck to Paycheck.

Any guesses how much money I spent this past Sunday? Can you find a day like that later this month?

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