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Friday Fun Video: Kiteboarding Wake Up Call

I must say, kiteboarding never looked as appealing as it does in this movie.  Cameron makes it look like a piece of cake here.  And not only that, a seriously thrilling piece of cake.  It’s official, kiteboarding just got added to my bucket list!

Friday fun video is a weekly series where we post videos of kids doing amazing things.  Watch them.  Be Impressed.  Be inspired.  Get out and play!

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Posted by on November 11, 2011 in Friday Videos

 

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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

 

Photo of the week: Never too young

It’s like he was born to love rafting.  Can’t wait until he can handle bigger water with us!

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2011 in Photo of the week

 

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Should kids eat snow?

Last week I got to teach Mason’s preschool class (we do a coop).  For at least the first 15 minutes of class, all the kids wanted to talk about was the newly fallen snow.  In the end, we came to the consensus that EVERYONES favorite activity to do in the snow was to eat it (gotta love that group mentality).  By the time we finished school, both kids were begging to play in the snow, so I started the laborious task of getting all their snow gear on.  Playing in the snow is awesome, but getting everyone’s warm clothes on is something I absolutely hate.  After what seemed like forever, I sent the kids outside thinking they’d spend a few hours happily playing.  As I was getting my boots on to join them, Chloe comes in the house, puts some snow in a cup, and starts ripping off her snow clothes as fast as she could.  The same snowclothes I had just fought to get her to wear.  “Chloe, what are you doing!”  “I a big kid Mommy.  Big kids dus eat snow.”  I always knew that my kids would learn obnoxious things at school, but she’s just two!  There was no changing that stubborn little mind of hers!
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This got me thinking – “should kids be eating snow”.  Well, the simple answer is “we all do it and we’re still alive, so why not!”  Good one.  It’s easy to get our kids to not eat the yellow or brown snow, but what about the white fluffy stuff all over the ground?  Here’s what Helen Suh MacIntosh, a professor of environmental health at Harvard University had to say about it here:

“It turns out that snow is a fairly efficient pollution collector when it is in the air. Snow is formed by water vapor that moves in clouds in cold air. As the water vapor moves in the cold air, it can stick to a tiny piece of dust and then have other water molecules attach to it, forming a crystal. Once formed, the crystal can continue to grow and can stay in the air for hours before it falls to the ground. It is during this time that the snow crystal can collect or “scavenge” pollutants that are present in the air.  The types of pollution that the snow can contain vary by location, but could include metals, acidic pollutants, and persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The amount of pollution in white, fresh snow is generally related to the amount of local pollution that is emitted into the air, of which traffic is a pretty good indicator. As a result, pollution is snow is low in rural areas and is higher in cities and other areas with a lot of traffic.”

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The study went on to say that although these pollutants are present, the amount of pollutants are very low.  The verdict that they shared is that freshly fallen white snow is usually safe to eat (as long as it’s not bucket-fulls).  However, we should encourage our kids to avoid eating colored snow or white snow that has been on the ground for a while.  Thank goodness, because while eating snow isn’t the best thing in the world, I won’t be stopping my kids from doing it anytime soon!

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2011 in Skiing, Tips

 

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Friday Fun Video: Unicycling Adventures

Check out Luke and Andrew showing off their unicycling skills.  They take this sport away from nerdy and into the realm of TOUGH!  I especially love the hockey game – I guess this is pretty big in Telluride!  Thanks boys!

Friday fun video is a weekly series where we post videos of kids doing amazing things.  Watch them.  Be Impressed.  Be inspired.  Get out and play!

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2011 in Friday Videos

 

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Make your own Strider-style balance bike

We’re a big fan of balance bikes around here.  Okay, I guess that’s not entirely true…We’re going to be big fans of balance bikes.  Balance bikes are becoming incredibly popular, and with good reason.  They teach kids balance and coordination, which makes the transition to a regular bike much smoother.  Instead of focusing on pedaling, which is fairly simple, balance bikes have kids learn to balance first.  Brilliant.  Here’s why we’re going to love them, and how we made our own!

When Mason was two, we bought him a sweet bike from Craigslist for $5.  It was simple – no brakes, unpoppable tires, and training wheels that were impossible to get straight so he always rode a little crooked.  We thought “it’s just fine, he’s only 2”.  Well fast forward 2 years to a 4 year old who’s outgrowing that bike and terrified to get rid of training wheels.  He was even more furious when we tried to take off the pedals and training wheels and help him learn to balance.  It was quite the battle.  Luckily, he now rides a bigger bike very well and we’re so glad that learning to ride a bike is behind us.  See, Mason could actually balance pretty well from the start.  However, the training wheels had become such a crutch that he was really attached to them.

To avoid such drama when Chloe gets older, we decided that she needed a balance bike from the start.  We looked around and instantly fell in love with several bikes, but the price tags made us take a step back.  We wanted her to feel like she was getting her own bike, not just the one that Mason had severe tantrums about because he wanted his training wheels back (‘cuz she picks up on stuff like that).  Well, we did have to shell out $2 for some spray paint (on sale), but we love the result.

Here’s what we started with.  (Well, it had training wheels too, I just forgot to take a picture)
balance bike6

We started by taking the pedals off.  On this bike, the pedals and crank were integrated so it came off all as one piece.  There were some random bolts that we had to take apart and one pedal had to come off to get the whole piece off the bike. (okay, the parts weren’t random, I know!)
balance bike2

Then we hit a hard spot.  The chain.  It was looped around the frame so I couldn’t get it off.  I didn’t want to just take a hammer to it, in case we want to put it on later.  So, we took it to our local bike shop to see if they could help.  Well, the shop technician was so excited that we were turning our bike into a balance bike that he took a link out of the chain for free.  SWEET!
balance bike5

Now, to make the bike unique.  The bikes original decals had to go.  We found out that a razor blade and Goo-Gone were our best friends for this part.  It’s essential to get rid of all the extra sticky residue so you don’t have a big nasty mess later.
balance bike4

Then we took the wheels and handle bars off.  which was super simple and only required a wrench.
balance bike1

Now we gave the whole bike a light sanding to help the new paint stick better.  It is really important to prepare your surface properly, or your spray paint will just give you a big mess. At this point, you’re ready to paint. If you want a really good looking paint job, use primer first.  However, that thought didn’t occur to me until after I started painting.  Luckily, our finish is holding up quite nicely.  Do several thin and even coats of spray paint so that it doesn’t run and get streaks, allowing it to dry, per paint directions, between.  After the bike is painted and dry, reassemble the bike by putting the tires and handle bars back on.

Voila, brand new bike.

We gave this to Chloe for her 2nd Birthday.  Right now she only walks with it, which is great.  Mason would take it to the hill at the top of the street when he was her age and give me a heart attack as he went down.  Girls are much calmer!

Christmas is just around the corner and this is an easy and cheap way to get your child learning to bike.  Although we love our bike (and the $7 price tag), the ‘real’ balance bikes do have some great features that we couldn’t replicate.  The major one is that the seat goes REALLY low.  This is especially nice if you start your child early.  As it is, Chloe can barely touch the ground.  We’ve actually taken the seat off right now because then she can walk easier.  Here are a few of our favorite balance bikes that you can purchase here and here.

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2011 in Biking, How to

 

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Photo of the Week: Go Spidey, Go

See a bad guy?  Send him over here and Spiderman will take care of him.  Not only will he protect you, but he sure is turning into a great climber!

fall portraits 365

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2011 in Photo of the week

 

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