The weather outside is getting better every weekend, and every May my wife and I start monitoring nighttime temperatures to see when it’s warm enough to take the kids camping.

We love to camp, though we don’t seem to get enough time to do it as we like. We first took our daughter camping when she was about 18 months old. Now that our youngest is rounding 18 months, it’s time to get out there again.

Admittedly, there are some challenges camping with kids. First off, there’s the issue of bedtime. In the summer, the sun sets here between 9:30 and 10 at night. The kids usually have an 8 o’clock bedtime. This means we’re either putting them down while other campers are still out playing Frisbee, or we’re keeping them up late enough to guarantee crying, whining, and general crankiness. Also, they’re too young to toss in the tent for the night while we stay up. So if we send them to bed at 9, we’re going to bed at 9.

Second, sleeping arrangements are a bear. Our youngest has a routine that works like magic at home. Anywhere other than home, however, this kid will simply not stay down. He will keep popping up, walking and crawling over everyone, giggling like a fool for hours. And when he’s up, he wants a bottle. I don’t like sleeping with a cooler in the tent, so that means a trip to the car and all that.

These are just the logistics of bedtime. There’s also the job of changing diapers, and how do you dispose of all those stinky diapers? I am certainly not storing them in the car!

There’s not a lot I can do about the bedtime routine. We muddle through, but a couple things have helped us on other aspects of wholesale nfl jerseys camping trips.

One involves reducing the prep time. We picked up a couple bins that we keep stored with the stuff with need for food (stove, Dutch oven, cheap nfl jerseys pots and pans, utensils, dish soap… all the kitchen stuff), shelter (tent, sleeping pads, sleeping bags, sheets and blankets, camp pillows, etc.), and miscellaneous (first aid kit, rope, flashlights, Leatherman tool… that kind of thing). These bins are always packed (no perishables in there). When the hankering to Sinai camp overtakes us, we don’t waste the entire afternoon packing up everything. We throw clothes in a bag, the bins in the car, and stop at a grocery Garden store on the way?we’re good to go. The key is making sure you have enough Gallery to keep everyone comfortable. Wet and cold Balance or hot and sweaty make it harder for everyone to get along.

Another thing has made camping even more enjoyable:? We work hard to set expectations with the kids. We talk the trip up in advance, detailing whatever plans we have?whether it wholesale jerseys be s’mores by the campfire or hiking in the Stuff woods. And we ask them to give us their ideas too. This helps in two ways. It helps Toronto kids build up some excitement for the cheap nba jerseys weekend. And it keeps Mom and Dad from bailing on the plan for something easier when we’re actually camping, ’cause you got to know that first thing in the morning,? cereal always seems more attractive than pancakes and bacon (and the inevitable clean up from that mess).

And for folks new to camping, take note: I always have a back-up plan. One of my favorite trips as a kid was staying at a motel, watching BJ and the Bear on TV, after three days of tenting it in the rain. The camping wasn’t bad, but Dad knew when enough was enough.

Garden planning with kids

Garden planning with kidsIn college I read The Good Life by cheap nfl jerseys Scott and Helen Nearing. This began a love affair with books on farming and subsistence living. My shelves are full of them. The great irony is that I’ve never even had my own garden. When I was a kid we had a half acre we planted every summer. We grew raspberries, strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins. I even planted my own rows of popping higher corn one year, but ever since high school it’s been a nonstarter.

This summer I am determined to change that. Armed with only a blade of understanding of the square-foot method of gardening, we’re going to try a four-by-four-foot raised garden. And by “we” I mean, me and the kids. Of course, Tater’s too small to be much help, but this afternoon Grace and I set out to plan our garden.

Planning at this level is really basic. First Grace listed all the vegetables she could think Fly! of, and then drew pictures of them. We followed that with faulty attempts at explaining why a fruit is different from a vegetable (no thanks to my know-it-all asides that a tomato is a fruit), why we can’t grow bananas Milano in our backyard, and why it would take a couple years for an apple tree to actually produce an apple.

Once we had our highly edited, though still questionable, list of things we want to About grow, we drew our four-by-four-foot divvied plot Night and cheap mlb jerseys decided what we wanted to plant where. The wall against the back is perfect for a small lattice for the string beans, tomatoes go in the back so they don’t wholesale mlb jerseys block the sun for the carrots and herbs (aka “spices”), and peppers can go in front of the beans cause we don’t know where else to put them.

Now all you gardeners out there, be kind. I will be getting wholesale nfl jerseys a book from the library before we begin in earnest to sort out what plants should share soil. Right now I am just trying to get the kids excited about a garden?a task that turned out to be much easier than I thought. In fact, Grace wants to plant carrots today so we can have some in time to feed the Easter bunny (which she “knows isn’t real, except in Easter world, which is the whole cheap mlb jerseys world every Easter”).

Now I just need to buy some wood, dirt, and seeds, and start thinking about whether I should plant starter beds… I will keep you posted as we go. Watercolours Should be a fun summer!

Being outside you always find different ways to engage with Loan the natural world. This week the wind is just blowing, and it got us talking about the wind and birds and airplanes. Grace loves to point out long All contrails when we are on road trips, and she can spend hours making and tossing airplanes around the house with her grand-dad.

There are a ton of ways to have fun outside trying to “ride the wind,” so to speak, and most are pretty cheap. Even the price of a little R/C helicopter has come down! But we’re looking at hand powered toys today. Here are a couple of ways et we like to explore the wind.

Kites
Kite-flying is really all it promises to be. You can spend hundreds (even thousands?) on professional kites and string rigs, but as Mr. Banks rightly sings at the end ‘The of Mary Poppins, “With tuppence for paper and strings, you can have your own set of wings.” In fact, when it comes to kites, I always say cheaper is better.

In college, a former tenant of a house we lived in left a really nice nylon kite. It was missing supports and was really too big for a regular spool of string. For a few bucks at a kite shop I was all set for a day a of fun. Once in flight, however, this kite was like trying to land a marlin! I had bottled over Miami Dolphins Jerseys 200 feet of line out, and it took me an hour to wind it back in. And quite frankly, it was boring.

Kids bring back the fun. They don’t mind standing out there watching the kite just float. They’re ecstatic just to hold the string, and if it crashes eventually all the better. So with kids I think the best kite is one Katrina that costs less than a Happy Meal. (I am exaggerating, but you get the idea.)

Balsa Wood Airplanes
Powered by winding up a long rubber band, the old balsa-wood airplanes from your youth are still available. They’re a bit pricier now a-days, but not prohibitively so. You can find them online, but shipping just makes the expense ridiculous. Instead we find ours at Hobby Lobby or Michaels for less than $3 (usually much less).

We have a nice high deck off the back of the house. It’s about six feet wholesale NFL jerseys above grade, which is just enough altitude to add some lift when tossing a plane, but not so much that you need an escalator to make the endless runs up and down retrieving spent aircraft.

My kids are still young yet to really exploit the learning moment. We spend most the time chasing airplanes and screaming with giggly delight every time they crash. But with a few simple tweaks?moving wings forward or back, angling the tail fins, etc.?we can get the plane to start acting in unusual but predictable ways. That’s where they start picking up on the nature of aerodynamics.

Paper Airplanes
Paper airplanes can be just as fun as their balsa-wood peers and don’t require endless winding of rubber-band propellers. On the down side, they don’t stay aloft as long either (though with a balsa-wood plane I’ve never even gotten close to the paper-airplane world-record flight of 27.6 seconds. On the up side, you get to make (and decorate) them all by yourself.

There are a ton of sites out there with paper airplane designs. Some designs are really overly complex, and if your kids are really young, you’ll be doing all the folding work yourself. While not the prettiest page on the Web, I have found this paper-airplane site to have a lot of great designs. You can even find videos on here wholesale NBA jerseys in addition to the illustrated instructions.

For our kids, a favorite part of flying is the crash, so any design that cheap NBA jerseys promises a gentle glide then sudden nose-dive is an instant hit. The other favorite part is trying to fill every inch of the paper with some crayon decoration. This adds to the weight and messes with the dynamics of flight, so I usually just make regular old planes, nothing fancy.

Parachute Guys
Any decent toy shop will have parachute guys for a song. Easy as anything, you simply remove the rubber band holding the plastic chute and toss. These work best if you have someplace high you can climb to. Really good if there’s a three-story playground fort nearby. We used to toss them from the third-floor gallery of our town courthouse (but part of that fun was seeing how long you could watch them before the security guard looked up and came after you).

Maple Tree Helicopters
Nature also gives us plenty to play with. For watching thing fly you could do worse than sticking with maple seeds. In the summer these seeds whirl and wind from the tree in our back yard. When they are still bright green, we collect them by the handfuls and toss them from the deck. You can keep doing this all summer as they dry out and yellow, until the blades start to wear too thin. This year we are planning on collecting a bucketful and using markers (the kind that clean up with water) to color the blades. It might be fun to watch a hundred of these twirl away, like it’s raining Skittles.

Riding a bike gives kids a way to explore and enjoy the world outdoors. But what’s the best way to teach a kid to ride a bike. It’s tricky business, right? Training wheels, scraped knees, and all that running along side holding the seat?

Several years back we met some friends at a park in Gloucester, Massachusetts, to watch a cyclo-cross race. A good time with friends, watching our two girls play together for the first time. Anyhow, that was the first time I ever saw a kid riding a ????? Skuut wooden balance bike.

It was a revelation. There was this kid, couldn’t have been any older than my two-year-old?in fact, he could have been younger?and he was riding a bike. This bike had no pedals, and the seat was set low enough that he would alternate between walking, scooting himself along, and coasting. As he came to the top of a rise, he’d lift his feet and ride all the way to the bottom.

The idea is nothing less than cheap nfl jerseys genius. The bike teaches kids to ride by teaching the balance part first, in a way that allows them to learn it gradually, at their own pace.

At the time, Skuut was cheap jerseys China the only company making these, and they were pricey. Since then a lot of companies have tossed their bikes out wholesale jerseys China onto the market, and the price cheap jerseys has come down (on the Skutts, too). Many have gone beyond the simple look of wood and come out with metal-framed bikes. Today, our daughter is riding a wooden balance bike from Smart Gear, and it’s turning out just as we planned. In the past year we’ve had to raise the seat, and she’s become really adept as cruising.

Watching her ride up and down the driveway, you can almost see her looking for new ways Walks to move the wheels forward. The transition to a bike with pedals will be no problem later this summer, and we’ll have a kid riding a bike before she turns five. Now if there was just an easy way to teach swimming, whistling, and how to blow a bubble. . .