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Monthly Archives: January 2011

Winter Outdoor Activities for Families

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Got cabin fever? We all know winter is a hard to time get out with your kids. Sometimes you just don’t want to face the struggle of getting all your kids geared up in their winter wear, other times you honestly just don’t know what to do with them once you actually get them outside. While my kids #1 favorite activity is eating snow, there does come a time when the snow starts to look like a health hazard and you therefore have to come up with something else. This article was perfect for that, check it out. I’d totally forgotten about looking for tracks in the snow, I think I’ll pull that one out sometime this week.

 

Critter Quest!

We got the DVD Critter Quest at the library last week. I liked  it for three reasons.

1. It’s a nature video for kids that as far as I can tell is actually accurate.
2. It’s geared towards children, so while there is a cheese factor, it’s no overly obnoxious.
3. It talk about critters that kids can actually observe in their own backyards or even in cities.
4. Ari’s been spitting out bug facts all day.

Just today this DVD caused us to have the following conversations:

Ari: Mom. What do slugs do when they are scared?
Me: Ummm, I don’t know. I think maybe they pull in their antennae.
Ari: Nope, your wrong. They curl up in a ball.

I had no idea this was a quiz, and was equally caught off-guard a few hours later.

Ari: Mom, what’s a pitfall trap?
Me: (really excited because I knew this one) It’s when you dig a hole in the ground, then put a bowl in it, when the bugs crawl along the ground they fall in and you…
Ari: (cutting me off) Nope, you use a jar, not a bowl.

I love being called out on a minor technicality by a 4 year old. Still the DVD obviously got him thinking. I can’t wait for the bugs to start coming out (did I really just say that?) so Ari can make and try out a bona fied pitfall trap of his own.

101 Things To Do Outside

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I love this website. www.visitidaho.org/children-in-nature. It’s so well done I like to just sit and stare at it. Click on the “view more” icon under the heading “101 Things to do Outdoors”. It has some great ideas for things to do outdoors, even if you don’t live in Idaho, which this site makes me wish I did…

Side note: You also need to click on the sun, moon and music in the top left. Awesome feature.

Why Does The Wind Blow?

The boys and I were out in the hammock one day when all the sudden the wind started picking up. Ari looked at me and said “Mom, why does the wind blow”. My initial response went something like this: “Uuuuummmm weeeeellll, there’s warm air around us right now and there’s cold air that wants to come in. When this happens it’s kind of like the cold and warm air are fighting to see who gets to stay, and this makes it windy. Tomorrow when we wake up we will get to go outside, feel the air, and we will be able to tell who won”. I know it’s not totally accurate, I wasn’t sure  how to explain pressure to a 4 year old…

I looked around on the web and found a few decent resources on explaining wind to kids.

  • This site had some good background information.
  • I laughed when I found this song about wind, it’s cheesy, but since Ari loves music it was a hit.
  • This is is a link to lots of different books on wind. I plan to check a few out on our next trip to the library.
  • I also think I’ll make this windsock and weather vane for the yard.

Overall I’m still having trouble coming up with the perfect 4 year old explanation for wind. I know the perfect one liner is out there somewhere… Ideas?

The boys and I riding the wind in the hammock.

The Power of the Balance Bike

Ari learned to ride a bike at age 3. I could attribute this to his stellar athletic ability and make all sorts of assumptions about him being the next Lance Armstrong, but the truth of the matter is that it’s all in the method. Our friends got their daughter a balance bike, i.e a bike with no pedals, this one to be exact. The idea is that kids learn how to balance first, then incorporate pedals. Ari caught onto the balance thing almost immediately and loved his friends balance bike.

We couldn’t afford a ‘real’ balance bike so we made our own using this two step process:

Step 1: Buy a small kids bike (one your child can reach the ground on).

Step 2: Get a wrench, take the pedals off. (If you want to get more advanced you can take the cranks off too, but it takes a little more know how and a few extra tools)

Works like a charm. We put the pedals back on after about a month or two of balance training, Ari took off riding on the first try, he was even making skid marks on the sidewalk! (Kudos also go to our dog K-So who has put in some time dragging Ari around the block on his bike so he could practice his balancing technique.)

Blast Off!

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I’m not sure exactly what Ari was pretending up on that hill, but if I know Ari it had something to do with space-fighters.

The Brakes Work. Instantly.

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Back in the 90’s I perceived Cannondale as the brand that all the spandex wearing, rich wanna be mountain biking yuppies had. This was back in the day when we would go to Moab and bike slick rock, porcupine, etc in cut-off jeans, tevas and no helmets. A few things have changed since the 90’s, I started wearing a helmet, switched my biking foot gear from tevas to chacos and now have padded butt spandex biking shorts. And while I’m no longer riding the two sizes too big Iron Horse I had back in the day, I have been riding the same bike, my friend Jocelyn rode in some of those later days of Moab. Oh, and another thing has recently changed, I’m now a Cannondale owner.

Joe surprised me with a new bike, a bike I wanted but knew it was against our better judgment to buy it right now; even with a pro-deal on the table. Joe perceived it different, how can we afford NOT to get a bike when there is a pro deal on table. Our Brother-in-law manages a bike shop and therefore is entitled to a certain # of pro deals per year. He and his wife typically get new bikes every year but his wife (Joe’s sister) had a baby this year so there was a pro deal to spare, which they generously offered to us. Thankfully Joe went for it. We can always pay our savings back later. Right?

Here is her glamor shot stolen strait off the internet.


While in St.G visiting family I took her on a maiden voyage down Bear Poppy. A few noteworthy differences between this bike and Gary (my beloved late 90’s Gary Fisher):

1. The brakes work. Instantly.
2. When I go downhill it doesn’t sound like I’m dragging a bucket of bolts behind me.
3. The sifters shift promptly upon shifting.
4. It’s even smaller than Gary. So fun to maneuver.
5. When riding down a drop I don’t have to throw my weight back as far.
6. Riding uphill is effortless. I could have ridden up hill all day*. Now I can see how you people bike in the Wasatch.
7. Perhaps her only downfall is that I can’t catch as much air on the little kickers when flying downhill. Perhaps it’s because I have shocks that work??

Anyway, she’s nothing TOO fancy, but she’s all the fancy I need. I love it.

* And by all day I don’t actually mean all day.

Hike with Kids in Winter – Get a Sled

Hiking and snowshoeing in winter when you have young kids is tough; or at least I use to think it was, before we were introduced to sled hiking, or extreme sledding, or whatever you want to call it. After our first run we were hooked, and it’s not too gear intensive. All you need is:

  • Winter clothing for all
  • A sled build for 2 (or 4)
  • A trail with a little steepness (preferably not one that’s too popular or too steep)
  • Some upper leg (thigh and butt) muscles. (Don’t worry, if you don’t have those now, you will.)

You drag your kids up the trail as far as you can, or until those leg muscles are about to give out, or until your 1 year old starts to hurl himself out of the sled. Stop for awhile, play in the snow, eat snacks, hang out, etc. Then you turn around, secure everyones winter gear and enjoy the ride down. Sometimes we barley make it a half mile up the trail (especially if it’s just me and the kids), other times we make it several miles.

If you want to get fancy there are a coupe other items of gear you might want to consider. (more…)

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