Winter Fun! Wait, isn’t that an Oxymoron?

Well, it snowed.

Though not technically the first snow of the season, it is the first snow the kids are actually able to play with.

Or sit in and eat.

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Kiddo 2 eating the snow

I really want to believe it is beautiful…truly.

It is pretty. But I, like a lot of people in Minnesota, have a hard time with the realization that summer and fall are actually over. Especially with how short our summers are. Didn’t it just start?

Confession–I hate winter and winter sports and snow and really, anything to do with winter.

When asked why I live in Minnesota, I sometimes have a difficult time coming up with the answer. I suppose it is because I can’t imagine being away from my family.

But this winter, I have decided to try and not be such downer. I have hope this winter, I am going to find fun things to do.

So here it is, my bucket list of things to do this winter, with the kiddos, outside (at least that’s the plan).

Winter FUN!

  • Go sledding making sure to bring plenty of hot chocolate…because really, what fun is going sledding without some delicious chocolate goodness!
  • Try ice skating. Kiddo 1 had his first experience with ice skating last year at a party. He did not enjoy it…I think mostly because everyone else was at least decent at it…he was not–what have I done to my kiddos?!?
  • Drive around and look at the Christmas lights. I know, not technically outside but it is a must. Plus, it gets dark at 4:30 in the afternoon! We need light somehow!
  • Try playing boot hockey.
  • Borrow some snow shoes and go hiking.
  • Try hiking without snow shoes.
  • Try camping? Not sure we will get to this, but there are lots of MN State Parks that have Cabins to rent. Who knows, it might be fun!

Alright, that is a big enough list for now. Haha, 7 things…not a lot, but being that I dislike winter, it is a start.

What do you think? What are your favorite things to do in the winter?

Comment and let me know!

Don’t let the cold weather get you down, get out there and have fun with your kiddos!

 

Part 2 of Our First Backpacking Trip…or, What Happened Next!

So, where were we? Oh right, we had made it. We were backpackers. Or were we?

We got to the site, set up everything and then came 1’s non-stop talking. Man I love him! He was my first baby, only boy, and I still never feel prepared to parent him.

Did I mention he talks non-stop? I do not. I am an introvert. Don’t get me wrong, I can hold my own in conversations, but I definitely need my quiet time.

1 is not like that. At. All.

I just wanted to rest, and listen to nothing but the sounds around us…eerily quiet as they were. All 1 felt or seemed, was energized. He was with just Momma, now was his time to talk to me about everything he never has, in his 9 years of life…or so it seemed to me.

We hiked, he talked. For the most part I listened…I won’t lie, I tuned out some of the time. I mean, I had to concentrate on not having a *heart attack, right?

Have you ever seen lists of what to bring when camping..they always seem to list earplugs. I now know why. Every sound I heard put me on high alert. What was that? Was our food going to be okay in the tree? Was there an animal around us?

I think I slept for about two hours total that night.

Have I been complaining this whole time? Yikes, really there were some great things about the trip too!

For starters, we got to bond. We haven’t been together, just Momma and baby boy, since he was, well, a baby. It was a fabulous experience–we bonded over swimming all day in the St. Croix River, finding and sometimes stumbling over boulders in the water. We picked out really pretty rocks as they washed up on the shore–flushed by the waves from a boat going by. We took a “shortcut” trail which ended up being a bit tricky to traverse, but was hilariously fun…after we made it down with just a few scrapes. We yelled “Hello!” to Wisconsin (the other side of the river). Made a few friends, Hazard and Caution, which I believe were ground bees digging holes in the site and saw a Momma Turkey and her young. 

While I am quite sure I would like to try backpacking again, I really need to make sure I am in better shape, or at least choose a hike that is not as treacherous. And maybe make sure 1 understands that I need some quiet time 🙂

Even with all of the downs of the trip, the ups definitely outweighed them. And even with all of 1’s talking, I was happy. We were bonding. All was right with my world.

So don’t hesitate to try something new even if it is out of your comfort zone. Show your kiddos that it is fun to try new things, and learn about yourselves in the process!

Have fun out there Mommas!

*see Backpacking-Part 1

First Backpacking Trip! part 1

So, kiddo number one, only by age, and I went backpacking a few months ago.

It was…an interesting experience.

I researched, researched, and then researched some more–big surprise right!?! We, and by “we” I mean I, finally settled on Afton State Park.

There are a few reasons for this:

For starters, being that this was our first trip, I didn’t want to spend a fortune on supplies. I mean, I was going to get what we needed, but then make do with other camping supplies we already had.

Second, and it sort of goes along with the first reason, they had a water supply in the middle of the campsites. Getting, and learning how to use, a water filter was not on the agenda.

Thirdly, it looked like a beautiful area. What more do you need? Seriously though, I weighed the distances that we would need to hike versus the water, versus the supplies we would need.

So, Afton State Park. Talk about gorgeous! Beautiful scenery, right on the St. Croix River.

My Momma’s intuition should have kicked in when we stopped at the Office to check-in…and they told us we could change sites if we wanted to. Or when the lady asked if we were prepared for the hike. Of course we wouldn’t want to change sites…I had researched it–it was at the very end of the other campsites and at the beginning of another trail head. Of course we were prepared for the hike, we can hike!

So off we went! We were going backpacking!

And then came the actual start of the trip. If you were to ask me how long until I felt I was going to have a heart-attack I would enthusiastically tell you 10 minutes in. Sure the hike to the campsite was only “about” a mile from the parking area. I should have listened to the reviews of people saying it was “strenuous”. Strenuous..was a major understatement, though I can’t think of a word that is more fitting.

It. Was. Painful.

The hike just to the trail that actually led to the campsites was up and down and then up and down stairs…and up and down some more–you get the idea. Then we got to the hill that actually would lead us to the campsites. Hmm, hill doesn’t quite describe it, maybe mountain? We don’t actually have “mountains” in Minnesota, but if we did, I am sure that would have been classified as one. Compounded by the fact that I had close to an extra 70 pounds on my back. Yeah, there was no going back.

So we hiked…or mountain climbed…not to steal credit from actual mountain climbers, but it was rough. We persevered. When we got to the top, I nearly cried with happiness…or I would have if I hadn’t sweat out all of the extra water in my body.

Then came the hike to the actual site. As I said before, I chose one strategically for location, but as we went further on, we decided to change the site, and looked for a good one close to the biffy and most importantly…WATER.

We chose a site and there we were. At our beautiful site. It felt great to finally be there, and drop the gear! We set up our tent, decided what to eat. And sat.

We did it. We could officially say we had gone backpacking!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of First Backpacking Trip!

Mothers Day Fun!

Happy Happy Mothers Day to all you Mommas out there!

I got my fantastic present a week early, not to brag but my hubs gives the best gifts!

I got…..drumroll….a lemon tree!!

I. Am. Excited!

Yes, I know..living in Minnesota is not conducive to growing lemon trees. That’s why I am going to keep it inside. Aha!

Anyhoo…back to the post at hand. 🙂

What are you doing for Mothers Day?

I was asked what I wanted to do, and all I could think of was going outside. For once we have beautiful weather and I am spending the day in my garden!

I hope all you outaide Mommas have the most fantastic Mother’s Day!

Now get out there and enjoy!

Getting Outside When You Can’t Go Anywhere.

Have you ever had those times when you just cannot find a moment to actually go to a park, or hiking, or somewhere–anywhere outside?

Me too.

Sometimes you just need to stay around the house for a day of yard work. But you still want to find ways to make the work fun, and make the most out of being outside.

Queue the list!

Here are some ways to enjoy the outdoors…especially when you don’t want to work.

For the kids

  • Let them dig and get dirty.

My daughter loves finding worms! To be honest, she never picks them up without her gardening gloves, but she has to save them…even the un-saveable.

It is heart-breaking to see her look of horror when there are too many worms that can’t be saved–like after a long rain.

The cul-de-sac looks like a murderous pit of worms. Gross.

Sorry, back to the list 🙂

  • Let them try to help with the fun yard work, like digging up weeds…it’s a win-win, they get to dig and pull up stuff!
  • We recently started letting my little man mow the yard..I think he liked that, until he didn’t. But at least he got a little done for me.
  • Play nerf tag (with or without the darts), letting the kiddos chase me or their father is a hoot! They can’t get enough.
  • Let them-carefully-throw sticks in the firepit. My kiddos love the campfire, I am not sure what it is but there is something that draws them in. Of course, safety needs to be maintained.
  • If the weather is warm enough, start the sprinklers. Seriously. My kiddos LOVE sprinklers…it is like there is nothing better in the world.
  • Don’t forget the refreshments…popsicles!

For the adults

  • Don’t worry if things don’t go as planned. We can’t always adult!
  • Let the kiddos help, they get to be with their favorite people in the world and they get to contribute.
  • Now is a great time to let go of perfectionism…especially if the kiddos don’t do the best at mowing, or picking up sticks or whatever you have them help with. Are you picking up on my theme of not being a perfectionist when it comes to your kiddos?

Whatever you and your family do when you can’t go anywhere, make sure you have fun! There aren’t many days of summer in our part of the world so take advantage and live it up!

Now get out there!

Camping with Kids: 5 Things You Need to Know

There’s camping, and then there’s camping with kids.

Every day is unique. Wait, forget every day, every minute is unique. But you know what? It doesn’t have to be stressful. With a little planning ahead of time, and the willingness to let go of perfectionism—I know, it can be tough– you and your family can have a great camping experience.

First things first, think about what you want to experience–Rustic Camping, RV Camping, Tent Camping?  Do you have experience camping already? If so, what did you do that you enjoyed, that you didn’t enjoy? I grew up camping, my husband did not. When we were ready to venture out on our first family camping trip, I was the one who decided what and where to go.

  1. Know your kiddos and listen to your parental instincts

Our first camping trip was–let me put this nicely–a disaster. It was hot, it was buggy, there was hardly anything for the kiddos to do, and I was crabby. I thought it would be great, I researched and researched. There was hiking, and waterfalls, I figured it would be plenty to keep us busy.

  1. Kiddos–and Parents–need variety

We are a water family, we love swimming. That was my first mistake—there was no water to swim in. Growing up, I remember we always went swimming where we camped; it’s what I remember most fondly. So when it came time to choose our first camping location, I listened to the hubs—who had never been camping—he didn’t think it was that big of a deal that there weren’t any swimming areas around, so I went along with it.

Not only was there nowhere to swim, there were no playgrounds, the hiking paths and waterfalls were far enough away that we had to drive to get there, and there wasn’t much else at the campground. No. Variety. At. All.

Make sure there is plenty to do.

  1. Bring more food than you might need

I know some people might cringe at this, but kiddos need to nosh. When you are at home, they know where everything is, and you have your routines. So whether or not you give them snacks or they find snacks for themselves, all bets are off when camping. That’s why I bring a variety of foods. No doubt if you are reading this you will do most of the packing, I’m just calling it like it is. You know where the important things are, like food. Your kiddos don’t. So brings snacks.

Some people like to make up separate personal size bags of snacks so they are grab-n-go, but I cannot add anything else to my prep. Besides, what happens when you go to all that trouble ahead of time, and then none of those snacks get eaten? Instead of doing this ahead of time, I just bring snack-size baggies. That way, the kiddos get to choose what they want to bring when you go on a hike, to the beach, or are just lounging at the site.

I like to make foil dinners, because then we all get to eat at the same time and it is easy peasy. I also like to bring fun desserts. Anything marshmallow related is a good thing in our book!

  1. Bring games and fun things to do

There has got to be downtime, naps a plenty for Momma and Daddy and quiet time for the kiddos. So I make sure to bring things to do. Some of the favorites for the kiddos are;

  • New hardcover notebook with colored pencils
    • I always loved keeping a journal. While they may not use their journals in the traditional sense, it is fascinating to see how they do use it-I always make sure they keep them so I can look back at what they did.
  • Pipe cleaners
    • See their imagination at work-I never imagined how long a bag of pipe cleaners would keep them busy.
  • Pens or markers or crayons
    • For when they just want to draw
  • Games
    • We love playing cards so we always bring a deck of cards, there are so many games you can play with just one deck.
    • I Spy games are great too.

What is your family favorite?

  1. Plan it out, but don’t be too rigid

So you want to go camping. There are some things you will need to do to make it work. Over the years I have tried many different kinds of lists– for food, fun, and supplies. Some have worked better than others and they continually evolve. Think about what you want to eat, supplies you might need, and what type of camping you are doing. Will you need to bring bathroom supplies for rustic camping, or shower supplies for campground camping?

Remember that no matter how much you plan, you will forget something–that’s okay. You will survive.  But by at least trying to follow your list, it saves you the insanity from trying to remember everything…just look to the list!

While not part of the list, my last piece of advice is to have fun! 

Most of you won’t regret getting out there in nature. It sparks conversations, memories and brings us closer together.

Get out there and have fun Momma and Daddy Bears!

Hiking with Kids: What You Need to Know

We love hiking…almost as much as camping. There are some important things that definitely make the experience better. Here is a short list of things to think about before your next hiking excursion with your kiddos.

Know your kiddos

I know, I know…we all know our kiddos. What I mean is, be aware of their limits and work within those. We have been on hikes with other families and we have been on hikes with just us. What makes all of them go better? When you only worry about making your kiddos happy. Trust me, the second you forget that, the second your hike could be miserable.

So, how do you do that? Go at their pace, stop when they need to, get water when they want. Don’t focus on keeping up with anyone else. It will make a huge difference.

The distance does not matter

It is not the distance we go, but the scenery along the way.

One of my favorite hikes was at Chase Point, Scenic State Park, Minnesota. It wasn’t the easiest hike, but once we got to the top of the trail, the views were amazing. You could see water everywhere you looked, there were tree roots for the kiddos to hop over, and there was a fantastic breeze that blew the bugs away. No one even thought about the fact that it wasn’t particularly long. Just how much fun it was.

Be in the moment

Have you ever found yourself watching your kiddos view the world?

One word – Amazing.

They don’t have a care in the world. Well, wait, that isn’t exactly true. They have many cares in the world, but look at what they care about, that bug scampering across the path, that interesting rock near that tree, the cool stick-what can they make with that!? And, in the case of my ultra-sensitive, old-soul little man, what happened to this place before we came here. Yes, he is a thinker.

Hiking is a great time to just be. Feel the breeze on your face. Meditate on life. Watch your kiddos discover new things.

Pack snacks

Do your kiddos eat…a lot? Imagine them burning all those calories hiking. I know, we value that–hello weight loss! But seriously, you need to bring fuel for those little bodies.

We have a few go to snacks that are good and not too bad for the kiddos.

  • Trail mix-or as my family has always called it GORP
  • Granola bars
  • Apple sauce or apples
  • Pretzels, crackers, chips
  • Lots of water!

We are a water drinking family, so we usually have one water bottle per person, and then I usually bring an extra one full of ice. Not only do they need calories, but they need water too.

So there you go, a quick list for hiking happiness. By following even just one of these tips, hopefully you will find yourself and your kiddos having a better hike. And want to get out there all the more!

Now get outside and start hiking!

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