Getting Outdoors

The winter time is the time of year where most people are just like nope see you in the spring (way to cold out). Getting outside to me as important as basic needs such as water or food. I make time out of our daily day to day to make sure that my kids get some much needed fresh air. The great thing about the fresh air is it seems to make them even sleep better. Old man winter shouldn’t keep you for getting out there. Today was a cold day with same big time gusts. We still have snow from the other week and more to come ( it snows here a lot). We usually bundle the kids up and sometimes we grab our sleds, or do snow art or even just make snow people. The best part about sledding today was the hill was very icy so it made the sleds go even faster. By the time they were done and the sun was setting everyone had very red cheeks and big smiles. Making memories to me is just as important as learning math. It’s part of what makes childhood wonderful. When you grow up and look back you will think do you remember that time we did this or that. The sunset today was a vibrant peach that stretched for miles and even though it closed our adventure for that day it shines the hope that tomorrow there will be a new adventure to come.

So we bundle up and wear extra socks and we get outside. We get the little bit of vitamin D that the winter sun has to offer. We take a good deep breath and get those lungs full of cold air. We dream of longer and warmer days but we also remember that come summer we will miss our cold air and snowy hills. It’s nice to embrace every season whether that be actual seasons or seasons of life. Each season has something different to offer. Each is a unique experience that comes with its own exciting journey. So when you feel like it is to cold outside bundle up and go have some fun.

E

Check out my YouTube video of a winter’s sunset for some 10 minutes of me time.

Gardening with Kids

We look forward to the time of year when we can start getting our seed packets out and organized. The kids love gardening. In general they like that they can get dirty and I actually encourage it. In the early spring we like to get certain seeds started indoors. The kids look forward to it because they get to dig in the dirt and it isn’t frozen solid. When the weather starts to warm up a little more than we like to start planting the rest of the seeds outside. I want to share some of my tips and tricks to having fun while gardening with your kids. I have said before but we are a homeschooling family so I take every opportunity I can to try to teach them something even if it is very informal.

Tip 1: Get ready to have some messy kids. Between digging in the dirt and then watering the dirt this can become a mud mess (to me that is the best part) but for some not so much. We always have a “cleaning station” set up so that when we are all done before we go in the house we can clean off muddy feet and hands. I usually just put some old towels and a bucket of sudsy water with a old rag in it. Then I have the kids stand in it while I wash their feet and then dry them off. They love it to because who doesn’t like the idea of getting bubbles everywhere.

Tip 2: Make sure to have a plan in mind. I like to organize my seeds since some will be started inside and some will be directly seeded into the soil. I also like to have the kids help me lay out what seeds are going where and putting them in the appropriate row etc. Since this day usually ends with a hose squirting contest I like to accomplish what needs done first.

Tip 3: Plant what you are going to eat (if you are planting an edible garden). BK (before kids) I would plant all of these lovely vegetables that my husband and I would eat. Then came kids and sometimes picky eating habits so now I plant things that I know are a hit and then occasionally add some extras since I can sometimes get them to try it since they helped create it and that is neat to them.

Tip 4: Incorporate a fun little science experiment while you are at it. The kids love learning about how things grow from such a tiny seed. It is also fun for them to imagine when it will start to sprout out of the ground. They love when we start seeds inside because they can watch them form from out of egg cartons. We also do fun measurements and “observations” of what we think will happen next and what won’t. Since gardening to our family at least is a learning curve, it is nice that the more they do this the better they will get at it.

Tip 5: As I had said in my last blog Plant for the Future . I do believe that when we are planting we are planting for the future. The small things we do now can make a big difference down the line. Think about yes we will plant this flower now but in a few years it will become something even more wonderful.

Tip 6: Composting fun. We compost and reuse a lot in our home. It is fun for the kids to put kitchen scraps into a bowl and than at the end of the day take it outside to our compost pile. When are compost is ready to be spread around our gardens and planting containers filled with it the kids love finding the worms and making sure “they have a good home” in the new area. Composting is a great skill to pass on to the next generation since it is great for the Earth and your gardens.

Tip 7: If all else fails and all the planning ends up being nothing but a garden full off weeds, crops not growing right, loosing plants etc just remember that you and your kids had fun in the process. There is always next year with more new ideas.

E

Plant for the Future

My house that I grew up in I would plant gardens everywhere. I grew up in a very rural area with an abundant soil that needed “my touch.” I put in ponds too in hope that it would bring in more wildlife. I remember picking this sad sapling that had grown in my parent’s ditch. It really was sad it had a crooked stem and was soon going to be sacrificed during the yearly mowing that the county did since it was close to the road. I remember picking that tree out of the ditch one day and telling my mom I was going to plant it near our one pond. I think she even took pity on the tree knowing it wasn’t long for this world. It had very little leaves. I planted that tree. I cared for that tree. I would sit by that tree. I would paint by that tree. That tree grew, and grew, and grew. Now that tree is massive. My daughter has named it Mommy’s Tree. My daughter the adventurer now has chosen this to be her favorite climbing tree when she is at her grandparents house. I tell her that story of where this tree came from and how it got here. The funny thing is if I didn’t do what I did all those years ago there would be no climbing tree there. That tree would have just been mowed over and forgotten. Something that could have been seen as so insignificant would one day bring such happiness to a child. As I had said in my last blog post that planting is the hope of the future. You might not realize how much something can make a difference in someone’s life. But I am happy that I did pull that tree out of the ditch and give it a new chance at life. I look forward to spring to be able to continue our gardening traditions. My children every year help get our vegetable garden ready for a new harvest year. I look forward to seeing their hands covered in dirt and knowing that they are learning such a valuable lesson in life. That is to plant for the future.

E

Picture was taken in the garden. The flowers look like thin pieces of paper.

The Promise of Spring

For us Spring is not really near but I can be positive, instead of saying months, I will say weeks. I look forward to spring all the gardening that I worked hard on the year before becomes even more mature and beautiful. I love seeing trees I had planted years before be big enough to actually use for shade. My children love helping me tend the garden. I think it is an important lesson to teach children. That you plant for the hope of the future. Yes today it might just be a seed but in a few weeks it becomes something until one day you can pick that vegetable to eat.

I love winter and all that the season has to offer. It is natures time to rest, we celebrate the joy that winter brings to us. As I am typing this it is gently snowing outside. The silence…… (if I listen carefully I can hear snowflakes being blown onto my window). The promise of spring though is the energy that wakes the Earth up from her slumber. Even though my whole yard is covered in snow I can look beneath it and see glimpse of what the future months will bring. Life and rebirth. The once slumbering trees will slowly have opened up their buds and show new leaf. The grass will slowly green and all my carefully planted gardens will awaken. The night won’t be as dark and the air won’t be as cold. Even though I will miss my comfort of snow and dark nights I look forward to new season of change and all the amazing wonders it has to offer.

E

My picture was taken the day earlier, it really was the clam before the storm. A bright sunny day though cold still had patches of snow on the ground. I was able to find a small little plant attempting to peak through the leaf floor.

Tips for Winter Fun with Kids

Where we live it is colder more of the year than warm. We try to spend as much time outdoors with our children. That is hard to do though when someone is cold or gets wet etc. I have some tips and tricks to help get your kids outside to enjoy the weather year round.

  1. Don’t make a fuss about the whole thing. If you fret about every little detail you will most likely just irritate your child than help them. Children are more resilient than their parents. Growing up it would be freezing outside but you would have to bribe me to get inside since I wasn’t coming in willingly.
  2. Dress to be prepared. What I mean is you can always take off layers, but you can’t put on more layers than you have. We are a family of winter lovers. We do a lot of recreational sports outside. Growing up I use to run a small team of sled dogs. I also use to cross country ski and do skijoring. My kids if they could would live in the snow. My sons one dream is to stay in an ice hotel at some point. We dress for the weather. We put a lot of layers on, we start with thermal layers under our jeans and sweaters. Than we put on our current outfit which usually has a polar fleece zip up. Then its snow pants ( wind and water proof) and winter jacket ( also wind and water proof). Then its the layers of fleece for our necks, hats and two pairs of mittens or gloves. First layer is always a knit and the top is water proof snow gloves. If we get over heated from running etc than we take off a layer.
  3. Next is my distraction technique. Sometimes with toddlers after what feels like 100 years getting ready to go outside they are instantly board and want to go back in. This is when I use my distraction technique. All it is , is you try to stimulate the imagination by showing them a cool thing. For my daughter we usually show her little cut outs in the tree and tell her I wonder if fairies live in there. Then she goes on these missions to find more cool trees and hidings.
  4. Compromise….in the end what you are trying to accomplish is fresh air and a change of scenery. Sometimes the day is just a bust but I always look at it that they got X amount of time outdoors. Sometimes we spend almost all day on adventures and sometimes they are done after 30 minutes. The fact is I feel getting children outside and into nature is more of an accomplishment than a defeat, even when the day doesn’t go as planned. Now that my youngest is 4 yes he tires before the other two but he still tries to keep up with them. I can see his little mind at work while he figures out how to climb that tree or get over that rock. That is something that he learns on his own with very little assistance. I know when I had two under two our days spent outdoors were limited. The thing is though we still went out and gave it a try.

Whatever adventure your family goes on make it a fun experience so that next time everyone is just as excited as you are.

E