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.
Check out my YouTube video of a winter’s sunset for some 10 minutes of me time.
If you have read any of my blogs you know that we as a family hike a lot (Hiking with Kids). No matter what the season we usually pack a lunch to eat so that way we are no rush to leave. When you have hungry kids you have a tendency to rush everything. Our solution has always been to pack a lunch for the day. That way when we spend our day in nature its not a rushed event.
We took another winter hike the other day. It was a day before another snow storm so there wasn’t fresh snow but still snow everywhere. It’s calming in the winter because not a lot of people are out when it’s a certain temperature and as I like to say a lot, the forest is even taking her winter slumber. The few animals and birds you do see are nothing compared to when spring has arrived. Where we hike there is a man made waiting pool they had built to help gather run off from the mountain and give wildlife a small habitat. It was frozen with small ice crystals creating a swirling design. In the spring you will see hundred of frog eggs and newts swimming. The flowers and lilies will be coming back up to greet the sun. For now though they are hidden beneath snow and ice. The winter nights are long and the days are short but now since the winter solstice you can slowly see the daylight returning.
The forest where we hiked had a stillness to it. It’s a interesting feeling you get when you are secluded and since there is no one for miles it can make the stillness even more exaggerated. We tracked on though. The kids you could tell had needed a good walk and at some points were running on the flatter parts. Getting everyone some much needed outdoor time.There is nothing quiet like the fresh crisp winter air to help clear the mind and relax the soul.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One of the amazing adventures we did on our family vacation was walking on a frozen lake. One trick to enjoying the frigid temperatures is to dress properly, when I am nice and warm I am no rush to go back inside. We headed out on a blustery bitter cold morning to walk to the lake. It is a nice short walk through a snow covered forest path. When we arrived there were about a half a dozen of ice fisherman scattered around all trying to get their luck at catching the big fish. We walked down to the beach of the lake and started our trek across the ice. The wind was blowing that you could see powder snow form snow twisters on the ice. The sheer quietness of being on the open lake. The only sound besides the wind blowing was the distance sound of augers cutting through the thick ice. With ice fisherman in the distance we began to have fun on the frozen lake. My daughter loved holding onto her dad’s hand and pretending to be a ice skater. My youngest son got down on his belly and started sliding on the ice to see how fast and far he could get. He would stand back up again move a little bits away and try to slide again on his stomach. It had snowed the night before so there was a fine dusting of what the wind hadn’t blown away. My oldest son who had a stick with him began drawing designs on the little bit of snow he could find. He would make little swirls and designs. The wind would blow it away and he would find his next patch of snow. The sky was just clearing enough to see peaks of blue show through. Hearing their laughter and seeing the pure joy on my children’s faces experiencing their childhood made my heart warm. We were not alone on the lake but with how vast and open it was it felt as if we were the only ones. It is a strange thought to be standing on something that when it warms becomes pure liquid. Something humbling about the whole experience. It was neat to explore what we could find frozen in the ice. There were leaves ( which I have shared on my Instagram) and veins from the ice shifting and refreezing. It was the lakes life line being shown for all to see. In its own way it was art like a fingerprint original only to the lake. Nothing like that could be created again. When we were done with hours of fun we headed back to our cabin with great memories and wind blown faces. I took so many wonderful photos on this day but shared one of my favorite to be the feature photo for this blog post.
(Please before you go walking on a frozen lake etc. check ice conditions and make sure it is safe to walk on. We had an ice report and it stated approved for ice fishing).
So begins the strategic planning of how much stuff can I stuff into my kids travel bags ( hoping there is enough room to shove my overflow). The night before is always a little bit of ” oh yeah, I might need that” and then no matter how much you put together you always forget something. Well we are finally going on a family vacation. We took some time off but we are back to our lots of travel and crazy fun family time. I homeschool my kids so I get lets of time with them , but there is something to be said about maintaining the status quote and then quality time. Quality time of enjoying the small moments and actually being in the moment. So after two weeks of planning everything we will be taking. I am now sitting on my bedroom floor to take a mental moment and type this up ( oh I am also playing technical support to my son’s Kindle). Yes we allow screen time especially when travel days are long. This trip was planned exactly 11 months ago. It is a nail biting experience of waiting on an online queue for the dates you want to be released. So here I am packing all the things that had forgotten about the last two weeks.
The joys of traveling with kids. I love being able to allow time out of our schedule and to budget so that these moments can happen. It can be very stressful preparing for the big day but it is 100% worth it because I have so many great memories of traveling the world with my family as a child. I am happy that our kids can experience the same. My husband and I are a frugal budgeting family. We save every spare penny to go into our travel funds. Instead of getting big toys we spend them on experiences.
My tips for traveling with kids even though I am no expert is to be as calm as possible. Get that extra coffee and enjoy. I always try to make a list of things that must go with my kids. Enough outfits, toiletry items and those extra socks . Then I see the bag situation and revamp my plan. Ok what else can I fit in that 5X7 pocket. I am notorious for taking my kids luggage real estate. Each one of my kids will have a random mommy item in them (if there is extra space). Give yourself lots of patience you can plan all you want but the day is going to go how it is going to go. Make sure you have everything confirmed, reservations, plane tickets, car rentals etc. If something is going to be wrong I rather it be wrong from the comfort of my home before heading out. Always make sure you have that comfort item you toddler loves. His old teddy bear etc. kids need that when they are in an unfamiliar environment. Always pack a spare outfit in your carryon incase your luggage decides to take a different vacation. My last piece of advice is have fun. The best memories are the ones not planned, yeah the airport lost your luggage ( that is always why you pack a spare in your carry on), your child had a complete end of the world meltdown in the lobby or you loose your passport. Guess what, a year or so after you are going to look back and most likely laugh at that instead of having a mommy time out to cry.
Another weekend and another hiking trip. Did I mention we go for nature walks and hikes often. Something about getting back to our roots is a comfort. The primal instinct to go walking around in nature and to be apart of it. Lets think at one time human kind didn’t know that there was a possibility of living inside the way we do today. To never leave ones home or just sit outside to get some fresh air. Our life is not designed to always live a life of recycled air from a building ( I love AC when it is super hot outside). We are meant to be apart of the Earth’s pulse. That is why when no matter what is going on in our family life. When we step out onto that trail it gives you a sense of clarity. My mom always use to say to me ” go out and get some of that vitamin D.”
Our trip was a beautiful sunny day. It has been very cold and wet lately so it was great to finally see the sun. Though is was sunny the wind still had a bite to it. My family and I bundled up and hit the trail. It was so peaceful. We only came across one other family when walking. You can imagine how quiet the woods was. My kids explored some of the tree bases looking in their nooks and crannies. My daughter has this amazing wild imagination ( I hope she always has it). She was imaging that those were little fairy homes. When she got home that night she of course had to draw some of the tress with fairies coming out of them. The woods even though it was sunny they still have that deep shadowing. It has that effect of pulling a blanket close to your face to bring you comfort at night. Where we hiked the whole forest is all pine trees, so there were millions of pine needles lining our path. Oh and the aroma of those pine needles every step released the smell on the ground. It was a moment of clarity that my family needed. To just step out into the world and explore the big and little things it has to offer. I was able to do a lot of photography ( I will share that throughout this month on my Instagram) which is one of my many outlets in life. I love being able to capture that moment in time and to look back at it years from now and appreciate it even more. I have always loved photography. It wasn’t until I was in collage and majored in art was I able to get better at getting that great shot.
You know how when you first start out on the journey of parenthood. However you got there: adoption, surrogacy, birth, foster, etc. You had all these big plans of my kid will never do this, my kid will never do that. Then it happens that big moment when you realize oh that’s right I was ” the best parent ever before I had kids.” Lets just say you knew a lot about parenting before you became one and then when you became one you were just like “oh now I get it.” Sometimes it’s just survival mode. The baby or toddler is up all night. You haven’t slept in days and at this point you will just be happy to have a quick shower to feel human and a 2o minute power nap. The thing is though as parents we are all in it together. The end goal is help shape these little humans to grow up, do something, and be happy. I know some of us have these dreams of what we want our child to become whether that be a prodigy piano player, or a life altering doctor. My hope is to one day have my children grow up to be happy adults. Happy with the outcome in the choices they make. Happy that they know how to work through difficult situations. I want them to have a great foundation so that while they are out there building themselves to become who they want to become that they have a good base to start with. Yes some walls do get pushed down in life and some walls never get rebuilt. It is their story and since every person is unique so is that path.
Our house can sometimes be a chaotic, noise filled place. Through all that noise though one thing I hear above all that commotion is laughter. Yes nothing turns out the way we see our paths starting. Yes sometimes our paths take us in a completely 180 way. I hope for my children though is to grow up and know how to find that happiness.
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