Category Archives: Ideas

Emergency Preparedness: A great excuse to get more gear

For some reason, this year has been the year of power outages around here.  Normally, the power rarely goes out, but this year we’ve had several times when the power’s been out for hours at a time.  Okay, I know that’s not a HUGE deal, but when you have a hungry family, it kind of feels like the end of the world (why does our power always go out around dinner time).  These are the times when we’re grateful that we have good camping gear.

Screen shot 2011 10 30 at 9.47.40 AM Ski NewsPhoto found here

Two weeks ago, our area got our first snowstorm.  AWESOME!  Except it had been so warm that many trees had not lost their leaves yet, and branches were breaking all over the place.  Just after lunch, the power went out.  As the sun set and temperatures began to drop, the power was still not on.  Not wanting to pay to eat out, we cracked open a window and cooked on the camp stove.  That night while all our neighbors were using candles or flashlights, we used our Coleman rechargeable lantern which could light up a room (dimly).  When our kids went to sleep, instead of worrying about them freezing, we put on their beanies, and tucked them into their awesome North Face mummy bags.  The next morning when we woke up, the power was back on and the house was toasty again.  Would we have been fine without all of our camping gear?  Probably.  However, having everything that we needed for an emergency, on hand, kept us calm and cool.

Although this is the off season for camping, it’s a great time to evaluate what your family has and what you might need, both for camping and emergencies.  For us, it’s sometimes difficult to justify spending money on gear, but if it is multi-functional, it’s easier to justify.  Here are a few pieces of gear that we think are important to have on hand for an at home emergency (even if you don’t plan on camping):

  • a warm sleeping bag
  • flashlights and extra batteries (a lantern is a bonus, but not necessary)
  • a camp stove with extra fuel (we usually keep at least 6 canisters on hand)
  • first aid kit
  • multi-tool/pocket knife
In addition to that, it’s important to have food and water on hand in case you cannot leave your home or the stores aren’t open (that happened a few years ago here).  We have a large amount of food in storage and keep enough drinking water on hand to last our family 2 weeks.
The Department of Homeland Security also recommends that every person have, at very minimum, a 72-hour kit.  At the very least, your 72-hour kit should contain the following (found here):
  • One gallon of water per person per day. This means at least three gallons of water per person.
  • Sufficient non-perishable food for three days. Ideally, these foods will be lightweight and high in energy. If you pack canned foods, remember a can opener!
  • Prescription and non-prescription medications. Include a spare set of glasses, if you need them.
  • Battery powered portable radio. This may be your only source of information during a disaster.
  • First aid kit. The small camping kits work well. Remember to get enough supplies for the number of people who may be using them.
  • Personal hygiene items.
  • Clothing and bedding. A spare pair of socks and a space saver blanket would be a minimum.
  • Special items such as baby needs or contact lens supplies, etc.
  • Personal comfort items. Books, games, personal electronics, etc.
Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security has a more detailed list found here.  With winter upon us, being prepared in an emergency is essential, especially if the weather is bad.  Although you cannot prevent emergencies, you can prepare for them, and stock-up your gear stash along the way!
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Posted by on November 10, 2011 in Fear, Ideas, Tips


Maintaining my Sanity

Having little kids is like being on a roller coaster. Sometimes it’s fun. Sometimes it’s scary. It always goes by way too fast. 90% of the time I go to bed at night wishing that I’d had just a few more hours that day, or gotten just a few more things done. Sound familiar to anyone else? When Chloe was born, I suddenly felt as if my life were no longer my own and I was on constant Mom duty. Being a mom is awesome, but sometimes, I just need to be Jessica.

What do I do to maintain my sanity? I try to get up an hour before anyone else (even Andrew). It may sound trivial, but it makes all the difference. Despite the long to do lists that pile up around here, this time is just for me. My favorite thing to do then? Go for a good run. It helps me clear my head and start my day off right. The positive endorphins somehow find a way to creep into the rest of my day and make me a happier mom and wife. Other days, I read, or blog, or spend some time rowing, or on a really productive day, I sew! Right now I’m counting down the days until next weekend when daylight savings time changes and I can enjoy the sun during ‘my time’.

I actually think that this is one of our secrets to getting out on adventures with our kids. Andrew and I each have our own time to work on things we want to do. This is almost never when the kids are awake. That way, when we’re with the kids, we can actually spend our time doing something productive together. It also gives me time to think about what kind of things we want to get out and do together and some goals. Time to think about each child and their needs, without them constantly needing something.

Go ahead and give it a try. Maybe it won’t change your world, but it might just save your sanity for one more day.


Posted by on November 1, 2011 in Ideas, Misc, Tips


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How to get to most out of gardening with your kids

Every year, at about this time, my world changes.  We say goodbye to swimming, sandcastles at the beach, popsicle stained chins, and start dreaming of chunky sweaters and warm boots.  That is, until our dream is quickly pushed out by the harvest still overflowing outside.  Our afternoons and evenings are filled with peeling, canning, blanching and freezing.  We really like to garden, so naturally, the kids get their share of digging out of it.  Some years are great, others, not so much.  This year fell squarely in the middle.  Although it is fall, this is a great time to start thinking about next years garden.  Here are a few tips for getting the most out of gardening with your family.

One part of our garden.
Corn, onions, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, beans, strawberries, and lots of weeds.

Read On


Posted by on October 6, 2011 in How to, Ideas, Misc


What a real park should be

A few times a month, I get together with a bunch of my friends for our Moms Group.  Typically, we meet at a park and chat while our kids make endless laps on the slides.  Now don’t get me wrong, those times are great.  However, don’t you ever feel like you just need a little more.  A park that would do more than just make your kids giggle and take a good nap later.   Read On


Posted by on September 12, 2011 in Adventures, Ideas


Climbing? Climb On.

Not sure what to do this weekend?

Get out and enjoy a little climbing with your kids.  Set up a route and strap on a harness or just play around bouldering.  Your kids are sure to love it, and possibly be better than you are.  Climbing is continuing to grow in popularity and with that, climbing walls and gyms can be found all over the place (in addition to the regular outside routes).  There are sure to be plenty of places near you to enjoy this killer sport.  (many REI stores even have free walls)

Check out this 6 year old showing off his killer moves.  Yes, he’s only 6.

Okay, so climbing really scares the crap out of me, but Andrew’s a champ, so we’re passing this hobby on to the kids!

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Posted by on September 9, 2011 in Friday Videos, Ideas


Making Bedtime Exciting

As cute and charming as our kids can be, there’s seldom a night when we’re not completely relieved that bedtime is here. That blessed time where I can stop being “Mommy” and I can start being Jessica. Oh how I love that time.

Not only is bedtime a special time for me, but also for the kids. We have our routine that they strictly make us stick to, culminating in the most exciting event of the evening – A BEDTIME STORY! While we love to read great books to the kids, sometimes you need to spice things up a bit.  We both have great memories of the stories that our parents would tell us and wanted to pass that on to our kids too.  Here we found tips that the amazing Lemony Snicket has for telling a bedtime story. Here are some of his ideas to make bedtime fun for everyone.

Read On


Posted by on September 6, 2011 in How to, Ideas, Misc, Tips


Overcoming challenges with kids

Here at bring-the-kids, we acknowledge that although we enjoy getting out with our kids and having adventures, there are many more people out there who exemplify the ideals and philosophies that we embrace better than we can.  So we are beginning our interview  series of individuals and families who are inspirational to us, have great stories, plus good advice that can benefit us all.

As our first post in our interview series, we are getting the  perspective of two parents who have exemplified perseverance through challenges that would keep most of us home and never even considering the next adventure with our kids. Instead of making excuses, they choose to figure out how to live life to its fullest.

Read On


Posted by on August 28, 2011 in Adventures, Ideas, Interviews

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