Category Archives: Parents

SHOP LOCAL: Non-traditional Christmas Gifts for little ones

Last year my sister kick-started this idea for me as she gave both of my kids a super cute certificate for a date night with Aunt Ra-ra.  It included dinner at a restaurant of their choice, arts and crafts, special dessert, and a sleepover.  BEST GIFT EVER.  The kids LOVED it and it was so memorable for both of them.  It adheres to the old adage that kids spell love T.I.M.E.  So, thought it might be great to make a helpful list of LOCAL ideas to pass along to family members that are beginning to request a “list”.

*Downtown Boone Footsloggers Climbing Tower Passes.  (The tower is operated by Rock Dimensions).  You can find more info here

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*Ski Passes/Lessons: I would suggest App Ski Mtn for the closest slopes and most family-friendly atmosphere.  http://www.appskimtn.com

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*Children’s Playhouse Membership:  This is an idea that I recycle year after year. The membership is so incredibly reasonable considering the mileage you can get out of it with your little ones.  http://www.goplayhouse.org

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*Mystery Hill Pass: a great place to take them in the winter months to engage their curiosity.  http://www.mysteryhill-nc.com

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*Blowing Rock Art and History Museum Membership: The calendar of events changes each month but always includes great children and family programs!  http://www.blowingrockmuseum.org

*Fun factory passes: The kids always leave exhausted!  http://www.funfactoryboone.com

*Caving Trip: This is a great activity in the winter.  River and Earth Adventures provides a phenomenal service exploring Worley’s Cave!  http://www.raftcavehike.com/caving/

*Emerald Village Gem Mining: Such a cool place to visit and a unique experience.  http://www.emeraldvillage.com

Outside of this shopping local theme, a list of memorable “home” themes could include: baking date, arts and crafts, movie date, spa day, “build” day….the list is endless!

My family has also hosted a “theme” each year which you can have a lot of fun with.  I’ve heard of many that do an “alphabet” theme where the letter gives direction to that year’s gift ideas.  Feel like you are in one of those families where everyone already has too much?  Think about a “food and game” theme!  You typically exchange names for this and spend the day eating yummy food and playing all the new games!

I hope these lists give you a few ideas to get the ball rolling with your family.  Do you know of a local experience I missed as a non-traditional gift?  Or another fun theme you have done before others should try?  I would love to hear them!

 

 

 

Regional Recreational Vision: Middle Fork Greenway

 

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We attended the grand opening of the new section of the Middle Fork Greenway trail this past week and were excited to see such a large turnout. There have been many people involved in this project that have committed countless hours, resources, and energy into this additional section.  The trail is a  joint venture between the Blue Ridge Conservancy, High Country Pathways, and a task force of dedicated individuals. This subsection is one more link in completing a trail system that stretches from Blowing Rock to Boone, and ultimately Todd.  There are still hurdles the group is facing for this to become a reality (gaining easements and fundraising) but the hope is that the large turnout is an indication of the growing community support.

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In the last couple of years, it seems that there has been a noticeable development in the “branding” of the High Country.  While we’ve always been recognized as a mountain resort destination, it is evident that more and more people are moving to and/or visiting the area to take advantage of our many outdoor recreation opportunities.  While it is deffinatley not new “news” that the High Country is home to incredible cycling, climbing, hiking, skiing, kayaking, and mountain biking, it does seem that our community leaders, business owners, and citizens are becoming increasingly aware of the untapped potential of these activities.  I’ve always enjoyed the lure of my kids growing up in a simple mountain community, but I get even more excited about them growing up in an active mountain community where we all share in a work hard-play hard lifestyle.  Groups like those involved in the Middle Fork Greenway are essential to bridging the gap between public and private efforts to further develop our recreation infrastructure.  As more is done in the future, we should all be encouraged to get outside and PLAY!

High Country Pathways: High Country Pathways mission is to create a network of trail and paddle access points along the headwaters of the New River in North Carolina’s High Country. Its primary current initiative is the Middle Fork Greenway connecting Boone and Blowing Rock.

Blue Ridge Conservancy: Blue Ridge Conservancy’s mission is to permanently protect land and water resources with agricultural, ecological, cultural, recreational, and scenic value in northwest North Carolina. BRC has protected close to 18,000 acres in Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany, Wilkes, Avery, Mitchell and Yancey counties.

Winter as a SAHM (Stay.At.Home.Mom)

I just realized the title of this post sounds more like a confessional than a blog post…..and it just might be. I get cabin fever after two days of back-to-back rain and not being able to go outside. So while I love when Fall comes each year, it also brings with it a little sinking feeling that winter is quickly approaching. I have come a long way with winter since first having babies. My kids are now 5 and 3. For the longest time, I adhered to the principle that the time OUTSIDE in the snow must be equal to or greater than the amount of time getting READY inside. So in that regard, life may have gotten a lot easier this past year or so, but it does still require a lot of planning. And for me, that planning starts as early as NOW to make the winter go by smoothly. Here are some things that help me get along. If you have any tips of your own, I would LOVE to hear them too!

 *Wii Fit: This was a life-saver as a Christmas gift last year. You get the winter bonus of being inside AND getting energy out. We only allow them to play the FIT games that require exercise. And it really works! Both of my kids LOVE it and actually start to complain that their legs are hurting from so many squats.

*Craft Enrichment Programs at ASU: My husband first signed me up for a beginner pottery class when my oldest son was first born. It was a great evening activity that lets the creative juices flow and takes your mind off things. I will be taking the spring 2015 pottery class again this year. Give this hint to the hubby as a Christmas gift idea! Their classes include: basket making, drawing, glass, jewelry, beadmaking, painting, photography, pottery, weaving, metalworking and woodworking. Get a group of friends together to sign up for a class and make it even more enjoyable!

*The Children’s Playhouse: We all know this as a great indoor space AND a family membership would make a great Christmas gift! Do you know about the Parents Nights Out? When ASU is in session they usually schedule them once a month on a Friday night from 5:30-8:30. The cost for non-members is $15/first child and $8 each additional. Members are $12/first child and $6 each additional child. We usually try to plan our date nights around this schedule.

*GOOD snow gear: I’m not shy about liking the good stuff. ESPECIALLY when it comes to outdoor and snow gear. I think it pays off and retains its value in resell opportunities.

*APP SKI homeschool days: this was awesome last year. Now that Caleb is in kindergarten, I will get to use these times to teach Ellie to ski! Here is the info from App Ski Mtn French-Swiss Ski School designed for ages 5-18 and family members.

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-Dates: Dec.12, 17; Jan. 7, 13, 27-28; Feb.4, 9-10, 18, 24-25; March 2-3, 10.

-Pricing: $8 slope ticket (this flex ticket is good for 8 consecutive ski hrs), $7 group lesson (required), $6 ski equipment rental (optional) OR $14 snowboard equipment rental (optional).

-Times: Beginner lessons are at 11:15 and Intermediate at 12:30.

-It is recommended that you reserve a spot up to 1 week in advance. You can call the French Ski office at the mtn to do so.

 *Winter hanging cart: My new purchase to make winter more tolerable for my type-A personality. I am sure there are prettier ones out there but I found this guy at Wal-mart. One thing I never like about winter is the coats, gloves, hats, boots, etc. scattered and hanging all over the house. This guy will stay in our basement right next to the door,  Problem. Solved.

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*Baking: Anyone can tell you that I don’t really cook. However, baking is a bit easier for me as it only requires the timing of ONE dish to be the focus at a time. I will be challenging myself this winter to spend more time in the kitchen and involving the children in the process. Added bonus: it heats the house.

*Trip planning: The other three seasons in Boone I really don’t need a vacation or to get out of town. Winter is another story. I NEED to stretch my legs and can usually last till about the end of February. This year we are planning our first BIG ski trip as a family out west to Crested Butte, CO. In my opinion, the winter is when we REALLY need to take a vacation!

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*Time out: You may laugh, but I put myself in “time out” all the time, usually for the same behavior that my children are in time out for. I think it’s healthy for them to see the value in quiet, reflective time. Maybe it’s the lack of vitamin D, but winter usually requires a higher volume of time-outs.

*Potlucks: I have to be really diligent in planning these. I always like the idea but the winter blues keeps me from following through alot. When I DO follow through though, I really appreciate it and it’s well worth the effort.

*Christmas gifts that keep on giving: I am going to do a whole blog post on this topic soon but wanted to get the ball rolling as you might have early family Christmas shoppers who are already requesting a list. We have opted for a children’s theme of “life experiences” this year. That could include a date night with a favorite aunt, ski tickets, ice skating, bowling, sleepover with the grandparents, tea party with friends, the list is really endless. This is also great because it helps fill up the calendar days for the rest of winter with fun activities that everybody gets to enjoy. AND it doesn’t break the bank for loved ones and takes the focus off of gifts! I will roll out that blog post soon and share some more fun ideas we have been thinking of!

I would LOVE to hear any plans or ideas that you have as a SAHM or a family for the winter! Please leave a comment below!

 

Rocky Knob Fall Fest/Take a Kid Mtn Biking Day (Oct.10-11th)

This was such a great event last year, and you should be sure not to miss it this year! The Rocky Knob Fall Festival combined with International Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day (no joke-it’s for real an international holiday) is coming this weekend !

 The events are starting out Friday night (10/10) with a fun time at the RK Pump Track from 5-8pm. They bring out lights and stage the track for when it gets dark, music, and fellowship as we watch some great riders shows some tricks. The kids love it and adult riders are friendly to them finding time to squeeze onto the tracks too. Caleb got some awesome LED bike wheel lights from The Incredible Toy Company last year at Christmas so it should be pretty fun to try those out.

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The event continues the next day for a full-fledged family affair between 10am-2pm. They will have demo bikes available for the kids to try out (including Strider balance bikes for younger ones too). Training clinics include: Riding without training wheels, basic skill sessions (turning, braking, etc), pump track skills, and trail riding. This is quite a collaborative effort from several different groups representing that will be on hand to help your little one! There will be BBQ lunches available for purchase as well as a Silent Auction.

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If you haven’t been to Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park, this would be a great time to come check it out. The playground there is phenomenal. It really is more like a low ropes course for kids than a traditional playground. There is also ample tables for a picnic lunch or dinner. The trails are friendly but of an intermediate/advanced mountain bike skill level. The pump track has a “small” loop perfect for learning on and also a larger loop pump track. If you haven’t visited lately, the parking lot is now paved and there are some sweet bathroom facilities that are now opened!            

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Last year the family absolutely had a blast at this event. And it was great to see all the kids encourage each other riding. I hope to see you there!

 

Fall Camping at the Nantahala Outdoor Center

Our favorite time of year is here: FALL!  We tend to kick our activity level up a notch these next couple of months to make the most of the decent weather to be outside.  We just got back from our favorite festival/camping trip of the year.  GAF (Guest Appreciation Festival) at the NOC (Nantahala Outdoor Center) in Bryson City, NC.

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It’s an awesome time of fellowship and family reunions with like-minded outdoor enthusiasts  We camp every year at the Lost Mine Campground down the road from the festival grounds.  The same families come year after year and it’s cool to see the progression of the kids on the river.  We have been coming to this festival since our days at ASU Outdoor Programs.  It’s crazy now remembering back to when we would come (prior to even dating) and now here we are almost 10 years later with 2 kids in tow.  The festival has evolved too and is a full fledged family event with a bouncy house along the river, face painting, pump track, and river fun for all ages.  The backdrop to all those activities is the Nantahala River.  A cold but friendly river for the diverse levels and abilities of river-goers.  The main attraction (and original purpose) of the festival is the MECA of used outdoor gear that gets swapped between people and sold to one another.  Just like your standard yard sale you have to get up EARLY to get the good deals but by the afternoon most people have made all of their purchases (or run out of money anyways) and are ready to PLAY and put to the test all of their new gear.  The only downside to the event is the amount of money you spend there.  We have found the kids last 2 mountain bikes there, their first whitewater kayak and accessories, and this year’s large family purchase: a double inflatable funyak.

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There is an ABUNDANCE of activities to do in the area.  Knowing this we extended the weekend into a 5 day camping trip to maximize our time there.  A couple of our highlights included Jon and Caleb’s 5 mile stretch kayaking the Tuckaseegee River.

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They put in downtown Dillsboro and took out at the Tuckaseegee Outfitters post.  A great stretch of river, mostly roadside.  Also spent some time mountain biking the Tsali trails near Fontana Lake.  The trails are part of almost a 40 mile system consisting of 4 different loops.  They are well maintained and the most scenic trails you may ride in the southeast.  The trails alternate use between mountain bikers and horseback riders on different days so you will need to plan ahead depending on the distance you want to ride and which loops are available that day.

The last day of the trip I took Caleb in our new funyak down a section of the Nantahala River.  It was great memories all around.  Caleb informed us when we returned that the one thing he DIDN”T like about the trip was how much his body seemed to hurt when he got in his sleeping bag at night.  He didn’t complain once during the day but it seemed at night his poor little 5-year old body finally caught up to him.  Until the next day anyways!

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I can’t leave out this little one.  Though she was pretty devastated not being able to get on the water kayaking this year (f you are friends with me on fb you have probably seen the video), she had her share of big fun and there was no shortage of happiness!

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Getting off the Mountain

I know some Mom’s do this ALL the time. They drive off the mountain just for dinner. I am NOT that Mom. I anticipate and plan a trip off the mountain pretty rarely but always appreciate it when I do. This weeks blog focuses on two great places for families in Hickory.

*Catawba Science Center: I had saved up this plan for when I noticed several back to back rainy days this summer and it was a HUGE hit. And you get the added bonus of it being educational! Pack a lunch to eat there, tour the hands-on science center, and round it out with a film in the planetarium. We went with another family and between all of us adults and kids we got a GROUP Rate (10 people or more)! Everything is better with friends! Check out their website at : catawbascience.org   TIP: If the cost is too steep for your family, the 3rd Friday of each month is FREE!

*Kool Pool: Do you ever go to cool places and think to yourself “why isn’t this place PACKED?” This place has been on my summer bucket list for two years now and I FINALLY made it this past weekend. It is an awesome outdoor pool with a huge natural waterside (long but not steep….even BABIES were on it) and other cool features,  There is an abundance of picnic tables and you can bring in your own packed lunch! If you don’t have any plans this coming weekend (9/13 and 9/14) it will be the last weekend they are open this season. Added Bonus: admission is only $5/person since it is after Labor Day weekend when they typically close. I personally feel like general admission during peak season pricing is too high for my liking (at $15/adults and $8/kids), but they also offer ½ price after 3pm. Also…they only take CASH.  You can check out their website at : koolparkpool.com

NOTE: Directions can be tricky. Lots of turns on random small roads. Keep your directions close at hand. They have some listed on their website and we used google maps and found our way fine.

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Let’s be real though: you know you go to Hickory for Target. Lordy I wish we would get one in Boone. In the meantime though, strap the kids in the carseat and enjoy the hour drive off the mountain!

10 things to know about moving to Boone as a Young Family.

It seems like there have been a lot of young families moving to Boone recently! I have been able to meet a few of them and thought it might help (from one person’s perspective anyway) to compile a list of useful information if you are new to the area and have little kiddos:

1. Weather: We get all four seasons of the year and it is awesome. My favorite is coming up soon: FALL! You picked an awesome time of year to be new to the area and will soon see Boone at its finest. We get a decent amount of snow (and ice) in the winter, enough to want quality clothing on your kids to play outside and good tires on your vehicle. Each snow accumulation usually melts off pretty quickly. Sometimes the biggest culprit of harsh conditions can be the wind here in the winter. Here is the link to our local weather source for area information!

2. Churches: If you haven’t noticed yet, you are in the Bible belt of the South. How do you know? Look around almost every street corner and you will find a church. In the summer, I have known some parents that can so carefully string together Vacation Bible Schools, they can last all summer long. We have a wide array of faiths in the area and can say with confidence you can easily find one for your family. I am biased, but I think it dictates a great community!

3. Schools: You will hear it from any parent you ask. We have a great school system with great teachers in our area. You can’t go wrong. If you are looking for non-standard schooling options you can check out:

*Two Rivers Charter School: a tuition-free NC Public Charter School. Go here for more information.

*Grace Academy: a classical Christian school serving students in grades K-8. A homeschool/private school blend. Click here for more information.

*Homeschooling is a wildly popular option for many here and a wonderful support system is in place if that is the right choice for your family.

4. Mom Groups: If you are a stay-at-home mom there are primarily 3 (organized) groups that you can be apart of for fellowship and encouragement.

*High Country MOPS (Mothers Of Pre-Schoolers): Meet at Mt. Vernon church the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month from 9:30-noon with childcare provided. Their first mtg of the year is coming up: Thursday Sept. 4th! For more information, contact Megan Drake at: mmdrake1221@gmail.com to get more information about this great group of women!

*High Country Mommies: This group offers a simple way to connect with local moms for friendship, support and fun.  Members connect on private discussion forums to share information related to parenting. Each month, they also offer many face-to-face events for their members, their children, and families. Registration is free and you can do so at highcountrymommies.com!

*Blueprint: A Christian group of woman and mothers of all ages who meet together the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month (Sept-May) from 9:30-noon at Alliance church. Childcare and a home-school room is available during the meeting time. Your first meeting is FREE and then $5/meeting or $25/semester. Contact Marci Parker at mparker@abfboone.org for more information!

5. Popular Playgrounds:

-Tot Lot: on Hunting Lane off of State Farm Rd

-Valle Crucis Park: off Broadstone Rd next to Mast General Store Annex

-Downtown Blowing Rock Memorial park

-Rocky Knob mtn bike park and playground: out 421 towards Wilkesboro

-Daniel Boone Park: on Horn In The West Drive off of Blowing Rock Rd.

- Junaluska Park: Located on Bear Trail off of Grand Blvd.

6. Kids clothing consignment:

*Bluebird Consignment: New and pre-loved children’s consignment shop located at the Harris Teeter shopping center. The store carries lots of new eco-friendly items and high quality consignment items from newborn to 18 years. Also offers baby registries. Check it out on their facebook page for store hours, consignment info, etc.

*Wee-Cycle Consignment: semi-annual children’s consignment sale. Location is subject to change at each sale so be sure to “like” their page on facebook to be up to date on the next upcoming one! http://weecyclechildrensconsignment.com

7. Farmers Market: We have a killer Farmers market located at the Horn in the West parking lot on Saturday mornings. Yes, you can get all the fruit and vegetables you need there, but many also go for the fellowship and community comradery. There is also an adorable “kids market” every other Saturday in the corner of the sale. It’s adorable…put it on your “to do” list.  Click here for more information.

8. Chick-fil-a: If you have kids, you will find yourself here a lot. Especially in the winter. It’s also a great place to meet people and let the kids expend energy. They do a great “toddler time” on the 2nd and 4th Thursday mornings of each month. The kids get a FREE breakfast (3 count chicken mini biscuits or cinnamon cluster) AND they entertain them! That’s a score in my book. They also do many other special kids events throughout the year, “like” them on FB to get the upcoming news or you can check out their website here.

9. The Children’s Playhouse: this place has saved my sanity on many an occasion with the kids. I ask for the $100 family membership every year for Christmas. It’s a 3 level house with a wide array of activities for kids of all ages. Go to their website at http://www.goplayhouse.org for information!  Also be sure to check out the fall dates for their Parents Night Out to schedule your next date night!

10. Other ongoing activities:

*Story time at the library: Every day at 11am on the story steps and Baby Lap Time every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:30am.  http://www.wataugacountylibrary.com/childrens

*Fun Factory: indoor inflatable bouncy house playground and birthday party facility.  http://www.funfactoryboone.com

*Lowe’s Build and grow: register your child(s) for a FREE Saturday morning wood working project and your child receives a apron, googles, patch and much more. 10-11am.  http://lowesbuildandgrow.com/pages/default.aspx

*Michaels Arts and Crafts: check out our local stores kids crafts programs here.  https://classes.michaels.com/OnlineClasses/control/dateView?storeId=1047&zipCode=28607

*BRAHM: (Blowing Rock Art and History Museum) Doodlebug Club is an hour long class for preschool aged children on Tuesdays from 1-2pm. Projects concentrate on basic art skills and children are introduced to different art mediums. It’s a great way to introduce your child to art and meet other children and parents. Targeted for children aged 3-5. Doodlebug Club is $5/child. For additional information, contact Ethan Brooks-Livingston at 828-295-9099 ext 3004 or email ethan@blowingrockmuseum.org.

Last but not least, High Country Mom will be hosting a potluck for local families at Honey Bear Campground you will not want to miss!  It will be a great time to meet some other families and kids if you are new to town.  So save Sept. 28th at 4pm on your calendar and check back to High Country Mom soon for more information!

 

Family Camping

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We had my family camping reunion in Damascus, VA this past weekend. We got a double unit campsite at Beartree Campground which is up the road from the Virginia Creeper Trail. We have stayed at this campground many times and really love it. The campsites are super spacious, clean, and staff is friendly. The forecast was calling for several days of rain during the stay so we were thankful for our check-in day of sunshine so we could get as much tarp coverage underway before the rain set in. Clearly being over-prepared runs in the family!

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There is A LOT to do in Damascus. The priority this trip was having quality family time. If we were able to get good weather, we had hopes to get some climbing done here. Due to a lot of rain, we narrowed our activities down to the last leg of the Creeper Trail, and Smokey the Bear’s birthday party (he turned 70 this year)!

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The Creeper Trail is VERY popular and can sometimes be really crowded. It is 17 miles of downhill beauty and perfect for kids.  We’ve found that the best way to take advantage of the Creeper Trail, while traveling with young children, is to put on about 5 miles up from Downtown Damascus at the Straight Branch parking area off of Hwy. 58. We put on early in the morning while the commercial shuttles are taking their first groups up to Whitetop Station to begin their 17 mile decent back to Damascus. By the time we are finishing the trail, at the downtown park, we have out-paced the first group from the top and practically have the trail to ourselves. And it’s the perfect distance for our 3 year old to ride at just under 5 miles. The choo-choo train and playground at the end of the ride are great incentives for her to finish as well. Since it is only ~5 miles, my husband just bikes back UP the trail to get the truck back (so we don’t have to pay for a shuttle) to pick us up. We didn’t think of it this time, but my 5 year old will be biking back up the trail with him on the next trip to really burn off some that energy. If you are needing a shuttle though, I suggest JC’s Outdoors. It is right off the Creeper trail at the end just as you enter Damascus.

We have been camping as a family since Ellie was in a playpen. We have developed our own little “bag of tricks” when it comes to camping with kids:

  •  Baby Wipes, and lots of them. (Nothing ground breaking here, but a real tragedy if you forget them)
  • Peanuts in the shell. Kids love them and it keeps their little hands busy while you are setting up the tent.
  • Chem Lights. I grew up with them as my Dad was in the military and we always had them on hand. They are great for kids at night and they don’t use batteries. They also make great lanterns that have to be “wound up” to be operable. Any light without batteries is great for kids.
  • Earthworms: You can buy them here in Boone in several places including Walmart. They will last for a few days in the tub if they stay cold. Great for fishing, worm races, measuring, wiggling. So on and so on.
  • GORP: An essential piece to all our adventures. This became a staple for my husband and I going through Outdoor Programs at ASU. Granola, Oats, Raisins, Peanuts. Extra bonus: M&M’s.
  • Ropes, and Bungee Cords: This keeps our 5 year old busy for FOREVER. You can make a swing, a bear trap, a zipline for stuffed animals, practice knot tying, etc. The possibilities are endless.

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Our favorite time of year for camping is right around the corner… FALL. I will post some more entries on a camping packing list, meal ideas, etc. with our trips to come!

 Have any tips or tricks of your own for camping with little ones? I would LOVE to hear them! Post a comment below!

Kids and Bikes

As my children have developed a passion for bike riding at an early age, I’ve been asked a few times what the secrets been to success. While I would love to give my husband and I some credit, or maybe my children rather, I really am convinced it comes down to introducing the right bike at the right time and getting out and using it as often as possible. While certainly no two children are the same, I do think there are a few key tips that have helped us get started and maybe can help you too:

-Strider Balance Bikes (http://www.striderbikes.com): Great friends of ours introduced us and we fell in LOVE. We’ve often said that the balance bike has been one of the greatest tools we’ve utilized as parents. It really is brilliant and simple… learn balance before proceeding to pedals and brakes. Once balance is learned all that’s needed is a little confidence to make the transition to pedals without ever having to introduce training wheels. We’ve been advocates of the Strider brand since they make the lightest balance bikes in their category (less than 7 lbs.) and have the lowest seat height for the youngest starting age. Kids as young as 18 months are learning to ride!              (NOTE: If you have a child that just stands and walks on the balance bike, adjust the seat height.  I see a lot of people struggle with that.  There is a “magic” seat height that they will sit down on.)

 

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This is our little Ellie on her balance bike at the Rocky Knob pump track. Photo courtesy of Boone Area Cyclists

-Keep it light: When transitioning to a pedal bike, we’ve found that the lighter weight bikes make it easier for the child to manage by themselves. After the Strider we transitioned our kids to a 12” Specialized Hotrock, and then the 16” Hotrock. While these might be more expensive than others on the market, they will still have great resell value after holding up to the abuse of young children. (NOTE: The advice we have been given is to keep them on a pedal brake until a 20″.  Both gears and hand brakes will be introduced then.)

-Carry your own weight:  This next tip really offers no clear benefit to a child, but rather sanity for the parent. From the beginning, we’ve had a “no carry” parenting policy. If they decided to take their bike on a walk, it’s been their responsibility to get it home. It may seem harsh but since that was the rule from the beginning they never new any different.

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-SNACKS: Just like anything else with kids, a good ride can be summed up by the quality of snacks and water readily available. Both of our kids have the children’s version of the Camelbak hydration backpack. They carry their own water and snacks and they LOVE it.

So….looking to get your little one excited about biking?? There are a couple great events coming up for the family you should check out. Cyclovia is this next Sunday (July 27th) from 11am-4pm in downtown Boone. (http://boonecyclovia.com ) We will be stationed at the High Country Recreation booth having relay races and obstacle courses if you want to come play!  Cyclovia is this next Sunday (July 27th) from 11am-4pm

Also coming soon is Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day at Rocky Knob Park. It will be on Saturday, October 4th. More details will be coming as we get closer to the date!

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This was last years crew of kids from Take a Kid Mtn Biking Day. Photo courtesy of Boone Area Cyclists.

 

 

Starting Responsibilities and Chores

We have really found a great stride with our oldest child in having a responsibility and chore chart. With school starting back in 2 months, this would be a great time to start if you haven’t already! Here are some of the BIG questions that I worked through in the beginning:

How do you start and how consistent do you have to be?
It all started for us one night about 9 months ago when my son began complaining that he didn’t like bedtime because we would get short and snippy and tell him to “do this” and “do that”. We were happy to oblige him the next morning with his own checklist of morning and nighttime responsibilities. (This later paved the way to adding the option of chores to earn spending money). He is about 5 ½ now so I guess we started somewhere between 4 and 5.

IMG_4549See the X on the “eat breakfast” on the picture? I asked him about it when I saw it, and he said I had given him Cream of Wheat one morning for breakfast which he didn’t like.

With his responsibilities, we are pretty well consistent. But as you can see from the picture of his list (posted on the mirror at his desk in his room), most of these things usually have to get done regardless. In the mornings, he does not get breakfast until his responsibilities are done. He starts kindergarten next month (EEK!!), and we will have to adapt to this system then. I will probably use an alarm clock and if he gets his responsibilities done in time, he can then have the option of doing his chores in the afternoon after school.

We are NOT as consistent with chores (separate concept from his responsibilities). Some days he asks to earn money–other days I could really use his help and will bring it up, and some days both of us just ignore the idea altogether.

When should you start doing chores with your child?
Chores were introduced as soon as we saw that his responsibilities were in a strong enough pattern. We decided for us that chores would be optional. One day work would not be optional for him, but right now it would be. Let me tell you though, he ALWAYS chooses to do them. The only condition we put on chores is that his responsibilities always have to be done first.

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(NOTE: If your child is not reading yet, it would be easy to draw pictures next to the words)

A hiccup I had for a long time in introducing chores was I saw all these fancy/crazy organized charts that locked me into doing laundry every Tuesday and vacuuming every Friday. I don’t really structure my house cleaning that firmly and wanted the flexibility to decide day by day what activity would work best. So…. as you can see from the picture, it is a simple list posted on the refrigerator that has a small black magnet that I put next to the task each morning. By the time he has finished his responsibilities, I have figured out what housework needs to be completed.

How much do you pay them?
We pay him .50 cents a chore and give him that option 6 days a week. That totals about $3/week. We liked that amount because he could go spend it on something right away if he wanted to, but if he wanted something of quality, he would have to learn to save.

Do you let them spend it on whatever they want?
We really do. But that being said, I have never been one to walk him around a toy store in my leisure time. To give you a couple of ideas, his last purchase was from Mast General Store. He had just seen the LEGO movie and became mesmerized by growing his very own crystal.

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I would show a picture of the final product, but it is still materializing in the solution and should be another 7 days or so before finished. Clearly, he is VERY excited.

He also has fallen in love with taking things apart. For awhile, this was a BIG problem in the house and severely hampered my level of peace during “quiet time”. I have since learned to give him different projects of MY choosing for him to take apart and he is also welcome to spend his money at the thrift store purchasing (preferably broken) electronics. Spending all his money at Menchie’s for frozen yogurt isn’t a rough way to spend the evening either!

If you are thinking of beginning this journey of chores, I hope it blesses you as much as it has us!  It might take a couple of weeks to establish a new routine in the mornings and evenings, but the payoff is worth it!