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12 activities for getting outside on a windy day.

Since March is typically famous for it’s windy days, I’ve been brainstorming new and exciting things for my kids to do when I throw them outside in a windstorm. Some of these ideas we’ve tried, others I greatly look forward to trying.

Build a storm proof hut
We do this activity quite often. Challenge your kids to go out and make a structure that will not blow away in the wind. Our favorite wind hut prop is our plastic swimming pool. It’s always very exciting when we fail and the pool goes flying across the yard.

Make wind chimes
Get a stick and dangle all sorts of noise making objects from the stick. Nails, jar lids, shells, beads, silverware, tin cans, bells etc. Hang them up in the wind and listen to the beautiful music you’ve created.

Conduct experiments
Get some of your clothes out of the washing machine, hang some outside and some in the house. Which one dries faster?  Make paper airplanes and fly them both outside and inside. Do they fly the same? The possibilities are endless here. (more…)

Planning a Backpacking Menu for Picky Eaters

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We’ve talked before on the blog about feeding children while backpacking. But today we have a new perspective from someone who’s dealt a lot with feeding a wide range of appetites in the backcountry. This is a guest post from Lauren Caselli, a Manhattan desk-jockey-turned-wilderness-junkie and former guide for Alpengirl Camp

Backpacking with kids and teens can be a rewarding experience. They think that every sweeping mountain vista is super rad, they have good energy, and they are surprisingly strong enough to carry most of their own weight.

But at the end of the day, when they’ve hiked miles with heavy packs in all kinds of weather, they’re still kids. They still get tired and cranky. And they definitely still hate spinach.

So what’s an outdoor mom to do when she’s got picky eaters in her tent?

Here are a few tips that I’ve learned as a guide for an all-girls adventure summer camp to keep even the pickiest of pack-carriers happy, and gives enough variety for everyone to go home and still appreciate pasta. (more…)

Camping while pregnant; staying comfortable without sacrificing your favorite past time.

Thaleia wrote to us the other week with the following excellent question:

Do you know of any sane pregnant women who tent camp with 3 children ages 3/9/10? Just wanting to find out :). What gear is a must have for comfort?

While we can’t relate directly to this situation, not yet having nine or ten year olds, we can definitely relate to camping, camping with kids, and camping while pregnant!  Between the two of us, these are our suggestions:

1)  Do not sacrifice comfort.  Pack heavy.  Now is not the time for lightweight backpacking or extreme camping.  Pregnant women have a hard enough time being comfortable at home, let alone in the boonies, or in a campground where the only place to sit is a picnic bench or the ground.

  • An extra thick sleeping pad is essential.  If you’ve just won the lottery, or have a rich uncle to help, get a Paco Pad–the luxurious sleeping pads used by river runners who seldom worry about bulk and weight.  Slightly cheaper but also nice is a Big Agnes pad–also bulky, but they combine air chambers with insulation for extra padding… they may even have ones now with padding especially for women with hips.  And if you don’t want to spend that kind of dough either, consider a plain old air mattress.  You may even find  that an air mattress is more comfortable than your bed, depending on the relative squishiness of both!  Three notes:  it will never ever ever fold up as small as when you bought it, and don’t let the dog even sniff at it or it will develop a hole, and finally read the note below about mummy bags–air mattresses can suck the heat out of you!.  Also nice is one of those egg-carton foam pads if you can get your hands on one… or put all three together and sleep like a Princess. (more…)

What tape is stickiest? Helping young kids in the science fair.

Just after Ari started back to school this last January, his teacher handed out a piece of paper outlining this year’s school wide science fair project.  I’ve talked before about what a wonderful and lasting effect the science fair had on my own life so I was excited to finally have the chance to share that joy with my own school-aged kid.

Olivia talked a few weeks ago about helping a fifth grader with his science project.  Just to help any mom’s who may still be grappling with their own fears of science, here’s another story–how Ari and I put together his project.

The real problem we (I) had was coming up with a question worth answering.  When I originally broached the subject, my ever-so-typical boy threw out the idea of farts, and testing what foods made him the fartiest.  I’ll be honest–I thought it was a pretty cool project, but I wasn’t so sure his teachers would feel as I did.  So we decided to do that one at home, and think of something else to take to school.

It took three weeks to come up with a new idea; I kept waiting for that spur-of-the-moment question; I kept listening for Ari to muse over some aspect of his daily life.  Finally, as Ari was helping me wrap a birthday gift for Joe, that special moment happened.  We were trying to wrap a box with a brown paper bag, and discovered that the tape we were using was horrible at holding it together.  I think it took us about 18 pieces. At some point Ari said “I wonder if we have any stickier tape we could use.” (more…)

da Vinci schma Vinci: Ice art for the creatively challenged.

It is finally warming up here.  I should be elated, but I find that warmth has turned the snow to mud.  Except for right by the front door–our main entry way is always shaded, and continues to be a slippery death trap.  The house feels cramped and boring after this cold winter.  Even the dog seems lethargic.

I have been in need of color and something creative to do, so this morning I tried ice art.  I saw something similar to this online a few weeks ago somewhere–I can’t for the life of me find the page again, but a quick search pulled up dozens of other moms and teachers who’ve done the same thing.  And I found this cool video of salt melting ice in slow motion.  Some recommend using liquid water colors which can enhance the melting, but I used just plain old food coloring.

(more…)

Good book alert: Kids First Big Book of Space

Ari (my kindergartener) brought National Geographic’s Little Kids First Big Book of Space home from the library last week. Not sure what I’m more impressed with, his book selecting skills, or the actual book? I’ve read this book a few times now. My kids love it. I love it. We’re buying it.

My boys, especially my oldest, have always had an interest in all things space related; but I find that I have a hard time explaining all things space related.

The universe is so big and amazing and complex that it’s hard to put into 3-5 year old terms. This book takes a bunch of interesting factoids combined with beautiful illustrations and lays it out perfectly.

We learned about all the planets (including dwarf planets), the asteroid belt, comets, stars, nebulae, galaxies, the future of space exploration, etc. I was most excited to learn that we have space craft set to land on a few different planets in the next five years. 

I also learned that I want to take an astronomy class.

This book is well worth the trip to the library, or the book store, or amazon.com…

National Geographic also makes a few other books in the ‘Little Kids First Book Of’ series. They have one about Animals, Why and Dinosaurs.

I’m also in the process of searching for more space related books for kids. If you know of any, leave a comment.

Jamie Whitmore: Athlete. Cancer survivor. Mom.

I first learned about Jamie Whitmore when I had to call her to arrange some travel plans so that the company I was working for could create this video. At the time I had no idea what her story was, it wasn’t until I watched the final film that I thought, “wow, this Mom is amazing!”

Jamie was once the most decorated off-road triathlete of all time. But when she was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, her doctors told her that she would probably never be able to mountain bike again. Or have kids. She did both. And she’s racing again.

Such an inspiring Mom. I had to share this video.

The next best thing to granola bars: home-made snack bars!

We’ve talked on this site before about making the perfect granola bar.  (We are still looking for good recipes, by the way!)  While these aren’t technically granola bars, they are pretty darned good!  My mom has been making these ‘bread sticks’ for years.  They’re wonderfully filling and so easy to make, but (even better), they’re also incredibly versatile.

What you’ll need:

1)  5 cups of various flours:  white flour, whole-wheat flour, oats, flax seed, millet, whatever suits your fancy.  The whole wheat makes them denser, the flax seed gave it a slightly nutty taste (which I liked).  Try your own combination and see what you like best!  This weekend we made them with 2 cups each of white and whole-wheat flour, 1 cup of oats, and a few tablespoons of flax seed. (more…)

How to make a recycled bike chain bracelet

The last time I gave handmade gifts to my friends for Christmas I was 11. I hand painted them all little wooden rabbits.

Twenty plus years later I decided it was high time I made another batch of handmade gifts. I first came up with this idea because I wanted to make something ‘bikeish’ for my much missed mountain biking buddy in Reno. After making a bracelet for her I loved it so much I made more. Who knew  you could make something so ascetically pleasing out of  an old bike chain and some utility cord.

Here are the supplies you will need: (more…)

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    I'm Lindsey. I'm an environmental educator, my husband's a biologist. The outdoors is infused into everything we do; which explains why I'm better at mud pies than home decorating. More About Me

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