Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Exercise with the kids. Crazy?

My girls are now 6.5 & 9 years old. Now that they are biking well & love being in the water I have discovered some great opportunities to get off my butt & exercise with them (I made plenty of excuses when they were younger). What are we doing together? The girls ride their bikes alongside me on my runs around Greenlake, which on nice days it's a bit like the video game Frogger. They are also putting on their wetsuits & lifejackets to going paddle boarding with me. I paddle around with them on the board until I feel I've got in a good workout & then we go to the middle of the lake where I let them swim...they have also been doing some paddling of their own.

The downside of bringing them along for my workouts is that I need to focus on them too & I don't get to zone out. I must admit it can suck the relaxation right out of the whole experience. The cool thing is not only are they wreaking the physical benefits, but they also get to witness me actually 'enjoying' the exercise - we all know the importance of modeling desired behavior. 

Lola going for a paddle, age 6

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Outdoor Ideas for Final Days of Summer

Is Labor Day really next week?  Wow- this summer has flown by!  If you are looking for ideas on how to spend some quality time with the kiddos before they head back to school, or hoping to plan a great outdoor activity for Labor Day, I highly recommend that you check out the National Wildlife Federation's Get Outside website

While many of the ideas are straightforward (ehem, do you need a recipe for s'mores?), there are also some gems, such as Wildlife Watch, a program where your kids can report in on wildlife and plants that they find, and Nature Find, which shows you nature sites and events in your area.  Nature Find found 44 nature sites and 55 events within 5 miles of my house, for example.  Most are parks that we regularly visit; however, some have been off the radar and will be added to the rotation!

We'll definitely be hitting up some parks and "swimming" (wading, splashing, giggling) with the Bean while the weather holds.  We're also headed out of town next week to the San Juan Islands, just north of Seattle. 

What do you have planned for the last days of summer?


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

School Lunch - love this link!

Why do I love this link? Because we are a busy family & the pressure of needing to make lunches creative for our kids could tip us our the edge of insanity (which we already ride oh so close to). Now, I give kudos to all those creative gourmet lunch making parents. BUT, as a nutrition major from Bastyr University, I can assure you 'simple' is just fine. Protein, carb, fruit &/or veg - done.

Happy packing!

- Heather

Monday, August 22, 2011

Universal Camping Truths- Still True w/ Kids

This weekend marked my initiation into camping as a parent, as we took our eleven-month-old camping for the first time.  To all of the other hardy parents who have come before me, I salute you!  There was a lot of time in the car and a lot of schlepping of stuff and a lot of losing my mind trying to keep her out of danger and dirt, but all in all, totally worth it!

My key takeaways of camping as a parent are completely consistent with what I would consider to be my more general universal camping truths:

Tent Peek A Boo
1.  You will get dirty
Um, total understatement with a baby.  The Bean basically wanted to touch and eat everything, including campfirey dirt and mud in the stream.  I consider myself to be fairly chill in the dirty child tolerance department yet almost lost it a couple of times because there was no where to go that was not filthy.  I kept my sanity by warming water on the stove for "baby spa" (warm wash cloth bath).

2.  You may not sleep that well
Our daughter actually did pretty well.  I definitely recommend camping next to a stream like we did to drown out the crying if you need some cry it out time.  Our great dane was more of a problem on the sleep front because we were all crammed into a tiny tent and our dog is disruptive to say the least (doggie running dreams).

3.  It will be cold in the morning
Fortunately, I packed warm clothes for all.  Mini hat, thick socks, and giant fluffy fleece for the Bean.  First coffee always tastes ten times better in the woods.

4.  Bring a book or activity
The baby went down and we realized that we completely forgot books, cards, etc.  Good thing it was a clear night for star gazing.  I brought children's books, but it would have been helpful to have some other activities on hand for the Bean- crafts maybe? 

5.  It is all worth it and you should go more often.
Yes, it is a pain to pack everything up and wash it all when you come home.  It may be a long car ride (Jeep ride on back roads for us).  But the memories that you only get with this unique experience are the kind of priceless that they make commercials about.  Can't wait until we go again!


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dude, where are my keys?

Genius Key Gizmo
To get outside, you need to get out of the house first. One of my obstacles lately has been "losing” my keys. Oh, they’re around somewhere, but I have to look in a bunch of different places to locate them, which wastes time and makes me late. Or late-er I guess, since I’m also gathering up snacks, sunscreen and gear for my 11 month-old Bean.  

And it happens embarrassingly often lately.

Is this the dreaded “mom brain” that people describe? Maybe! But probably not. It’s more likely that I don’t have a good system for my keys anymore. I sometimes use a purse, sometimes a backpack, and I usually just use the diaper bag.  Plus I leave the house at many different times to go to lots of different places.  

What did I do BEFORE I had the Bean? I spent some time thinking about this today. In addition to having a lot more consistency in my life, I remembered that I also had a genius gizmo in one of my bags. It was so simple, just a clip on an elastic cord that the smarties at Orla Kiely thought up and sewed right into the lining.  

So, I’m back to this bag. I also purchased similar clips (carabiners would work great too) and elastic at the fabric store to install in several of my other bags (the diaper bag being most critical). I’ll let you know how it works out tomorrow when I need to leave the house!

How do you keep your keys “found”?  Anything else you regularly "lose" on your way out the door?  What are your systems?


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

RoSK GIVEAWAY!! Who wants a Woobee?

Enter to win one of 3 Woobee Plush blankets! Be the first to have one of our cool new colors - tangerine/grey, ruby/grey, & ruby/black.

 How do you win? 

1 entry if you 'Get The Word' (subscribe via email).
1 entry if you share Out We Go & this giveaway on 'FB'.
1 entry if you 'Join Us' (follow Out We Go).
1 entry if you nominate us for the Red Tricyle Awesome Awards.

Leave a comment on this post & let us know about your entries.

We can't wait to give these away!!! Contest ends on August 22nd. 

Good Luck!
- Heather

Monday, August 15, 2011

Art, Design & Children

Fear of Being Ridiculed

I'm not an expert in art or design. In fact, I used to feel that because I didn't have loads of experience in either area (other than children's products) I somehow didn't know how to appreciate them properly & certainly all those snobby artsy types would chastise me (total ridiculous stero-typing there, I know). Rubbish! Having children & starting Rain or Shine Kids has taught me that appreciation for art & design is as simple as acknowledging something you think is interesting in the world around you. The experiences are endless!

Opening Your Eyes

Now, I don't want my kids to feel intimidated by art or design like I was. Similar to most things in life, the more exposure you have to something the more you are comfortable with it. When I am with my girls & we see something I find cool, or weird, or clever, I mention it & ask what they think or see when looking at the same object. Sometimes this starts a conversation & sometimes they could care less. My hope is that by drawing attention to individual items in their surroundings they will see more in the world around them & will be comfortable expressing their opinions, hopefully appropriately expressing.

Interesting 'Things'

'Things' I draw attention to can be as small as a clever latch on a door, a print on a throw pillow, a huge sculpture, an unusual building, or even the Gum Wall. One of the most interesting topics these days has been on street art (check out the documentary 'Exit through the Gift Shop', I found it very interesting). Since art is any expression of human creativity or imagination, the options are WIDE open.

Seattle Gum Wall 2009 
Gum Wall, Post Alley in Pike's Place Market

Connecting Art & Education

Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) - My friend Yoon is the National Program Director (& a fantastic mother of 2 boys) for this cool non-profit that brings together teaching children critical thinking skill & the visual arts. Yoon took a group of us to the Seattle Art Museum to demonstrate how VTS works using the opening questions, "what is going on in this picture?". How that one sentence can ignite a conversation & open your eyes to what others see is amazing. It really drives home that there is no right answer, art is subjective & we bring our own life experiences into everything we see.
ABOUT - Visual Thinking Strategies is an educational curriculum and teaching method which enables students to develop aesthetic and language literacy and critical thinking skills, while giving teachers a powerful new technique they can utilize throughout their career'.

Have fun finding the art around you, and please share with us some of the cool things you see. I love cool stuff:)

- Heather

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Top Three Challenges When Nursing in Public (and how to overcome them)

Source: RoSK Picture Library
Let's face it, sometimes you’re out and about when it’s time for a feeding. After a year of nursing the Bean all over the place, I thought I'd share my three top challenges when nursing in public and how I overcome them:

Newbie Latch: During the first weeks and months of nursing, there can be some extra finesse needed to get/keep baby latched on there. This goes away as you both get the hang of it, but can be super-frustrating in the moment.
Solution: Make yourself comfortable and/or find a private/semi-private place. Yes, getting comfortable is a given. But seriously, if you are like me, at this point you are stressing yourself out and worried if it’s going alright and what that means for you as a mother (hopefully you’re not like me!). It turns out that nobody is judging you and your awesomeness as a mom if there is crying or it’s not going 100% perfectly. If you feel awkward, find a more out of the way place where you can relax. 

Driven to Distraction: There comes a time when everything your baby hears or sees in peripheral vision will be WAY too interesting and nursing will grind to a halt. 
Solution: Take cover and find quiet. A nursing cover is critical at this stage, so that baby can be in his/her little cone of silence. Quiet, although not always available, is also preferred so that baby can focus. I am usually chatty (that might be an understatement!) and it helped to be alone while I nursed the Bean during this stage so that my voice and those of friends/family did not distract further.

The Prairie Dog: Yep, no other way to describe this one. You other nursing moms know what I mean. Here, your baby stops nursing and SITS UP to look around, completely abandoning the task at hand. The challenge is that you would like your girls to stay private, but baby is going to just flip a nursing cover right up. 
Solution: Alternative Coverage. What you need at this point is a top that provides good coverage and can be quickly pulled down over your boob when your prairie dog sits up. I like a the one-two combo of:
1) a nursing tank top (to cover my bare torso, but still providing easy access) . I have nursing tanks from both Glamourmom and Target- LOVE THEM. 
2) a flowy top or sweater. Fashion is on our side right now, with tons of fantastic options out there. I have seen a ton of ponchos for Fall that are going to be awesome for this! One of my favorite resources for practical and fab recommendations for moms is Ain’t No Mom Jeans. They have great info about clothes for nursing and hiding the much-hated pooch. 

Other General Tips:
· Get yourself a nursing cover: The Hooter Hider/Bebe au Lait versions have a brilliant bit of something (plastic?) that create a peep tunnel down to baby for easy viewing. There are other brands too. Or, use a blanket (Woobee or Sun Cover perhaps?) that you have on hand.
· Location, location, location: Chose the quietest, most comfortable location that you can. You will feel more at ease, the baby will be less distracted. The car, park benches, sit against a tree, etc.
· Be prepared: Have your nursing “kit” accessible and ready to roll. For me, this included a nursing cover and burp rag in a designated pocket in our diaper bag. It is always there so I don't have to desperately dig. 
· Don’t try to multi-task: Yes, it is tempting to try to email/text/talk on your phone while you nurse, and maybe you do this at home. There are extra variables while you’re out and about that may foil your plans (plans such as modesty and sanity!). I have found it better to keep it simple and focus on the task at hand .

Do you have any tips to pass along about nursing while out of the house? I'd love to hear them!


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Camping with Kids : location, location, location

In my last post I was packing to go camping for the weekend (with my trusty Camping Bin). It was a wonderful weekend & everyone had a blast! What made it so frickin' awesome? Crescent Beach is the perfect spot for our family, and after years of camping the one thing I've learned about having a successful trip - it's all about location!

Age Appropriate Locations

We've been camping with the girls since Ava was 3 months old (she's now 9), & we've had many fabulous trips & a few gnarly ones. What made the difference was the location of the camp site. When choosing the right location consider what you & your family like to do for fun & relaxation. Also consider the stage you children are in. Here are a few suggestions that may help you have a smoother end-of-summer trip :

Crawlers - if you have a crawler you might want to consider a grassy camping spot over one with lots of dirt/sand. Unless you & your baby are cool with an ever present cloud of dust around (think Pigpen from Charlie Brown), the grass allows a safe & cleaner place to play. I'm a BIG fan of dirt, but after a few days it can get a bit much. Try some state parks with lakes. Often they have great camping spots on grassy lawns.

Bolters - my daughter Lola was a bolter as a toddler. She would take off without a sound & scare the bejeezus out of me on a regular basis. During this troubling stage, we stayed away from beaches with heavy beach breaks & camping next to rivers. It just wasn't relaxing trying to always have an eye on her. Floatation devices were always  on if we were close to a body of water.

Swimmers - We always take life vests when camping near water. Our girls aren't great swimmers but LOVE the water. Our rule is they must wear the life vests if they are in the ocean, or want to go in water deeper than their thighs. The girls also have full length wet suits to play in. I highly recommend this if you live where the water is chilly. Not only does it keep them warm for all day water play, they make great sun protection. You can often find used suits at local rental stores or at the Goodwill.
I'd love to hear suggestions/feedback from other happy campers:)

- Heather

Monday, August 8, 2011

Outing: State Park Hike

On Saturday, I took the bean to a state park near my mom’s house.  We had family in town and it was a quick trip that offered some nice views and trails for all abilities.  Plus, it was an activity that didn’t require particularly great weather: it was 60 and overcast.  Yes, these pictures with long pants and a (gasp) coat are from early August!   

As a new parent, I’m still learning EVERY. SINGLE. TIME that I go somewhere.  Last week, I forgot snacks when we went to a nearby beach.  What kind of rookie parent forgets snacks?  Me!  Here are the key take-aways from this particular outing:

Frequent breaks added a lot to the experience.  The bean had a great time exploring at the places we stopped.   Being on the ground offered her the tactile exploration that is missed while she is in the carrier.  Pine cones, chunky bark, many leaf shapes, and grasses were all super- interesting to her. 

Timing was perfect.  We went for a limited time (2 hrs) between naps.  This enabled us to have fun with minimal crankiness.  Any longer and I would have needed my full snack arsenal and (eventually) risked meltdown. 

Gear needs.  The ERGO is a great carrier.  And with a distance of under 2 miles, we did ok.  However, I could see how any more significant distance would require either: a) switching off with the hubs and/or other hiking companions, or b) a beefier backpack solution.  I would love to hear from you about which backpacks you have used and liked!


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Camping with Kids (packing, packing, & more packing...)

Hi. Welcome to the first of many post on 'Out We Go!'. Amy & I are crazy excited to share our ideas & experiences on being out in the world with kids. Be forewarned, I suck at spelling & basic rules of grammar. If you ridicule me, I will stop posting. So be kind people.

Camping. My husband & I love to camp/be outdoors. It reminds us of our lives before we had our kids (deep sign). What is shocking is how much organization it takes to have a successful camping trip. How do I measure 'success' for our family? We all have ample water/rec time, ate decent food with minimal prep time, & the overall experience didn't trample my OCD tendencies to death (chaos is NOT my friend). In order to achieve this camping utopia it takes some planning.

In our house Ron handles the 'equipment', ie surf boards, paddle boards, boogie boards, bikes, tent, stoves/grills, bedding, coolers, packing of the van, etc. I organize the food, anything used to eat or cook with, clothing, & downtime items. No one gets off easy. Both are laborious tasks. The key to make my job easy, the Camping Bin.

The Camping Bin has everything you might need for a 'successful' trip. Cutting board, pots/pans, silverware, knives, extra plastic bags, coffee filter, wine/beer opener, spices/condiments, cups, you get the picture. Here's the key though, keep a list taped inside for gentle reminders of what you use and when you get home wash everything & put it back in. Presto! It's ready to go for next time. Below is our Bin from last year. Looks like someone may have pilfered it. Good thing I LIST! Oh yeah!
Our Camping Bin, first time out this year!

Welcome To Out We Go!

Looking forward to sharing what we know here at Rain or Shine Kids!