I recently posted about the Pure Carrier from Onya Baby, and I’m thrilled to share that in partnership with Onya Baby, one lucky reader will WIN a carrier of their own! As I mentioned in my review, we are so impressed with the Pure carrier, and in just a short couple of months have taken it on countless adventures. Of course, I’ve carried Georgia in the Pure on hikes, but we’ve also explored gardens, visited the state fair, gone grocery shopping, and attended sporting events.
“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.” Rachel Carson
Challenge and Toddlers. Like most young tots, our daughter Georgia asserts her opinion and pushes the boundaries. Of course packed in with all that frustrating behavior are moments of pure joy, great accomplishment, and immense pride. However, when we’re in the thick of it, it can be hard to remember that, “this too shall pass”.
Especially in the last couple of months, I’ve lovingly and intentionally tried to challenge Georgia right back. Not by throwing tantrums, whining or making demands, though sometimes I feel like doing that, but by posing small achievable goals. As we adventure about, making sure I’ve built in ways to set-up success, I push her to be more independent, brave, and engaged in our environment.
Presently, Georgia has just two speeds on the hiking trail:
- Run. Usually with abandon and no regard to instructions.
- Whine, lollygag, and ask to be picked up.
Unfortunately, I never know which speed she’ll choose from day to day! For example, on one of our recent hikes, she took off at the trail head, and her big brother and I had to corral her back in the right direction. Just a couple of days after that incident, as soon as her feet hit the trail at the start of our forest outing, she was upset and refused to move.
Along with patience, frequent practice, and incentives, one of the things that’s helping us on our adventures is a soft-structured carrier, specifically the Pure carrier from Onya Baby.
The Outdoor Mom Academy experts, made up of Amelia from Tales of a Mountain Mama, Rebecca from Hike Like a Woman, and Susan from Mountain Mom and Tots are back at it! These inspiring ladies are offering their 6-week course for a second time this fall.
If you weren’t able to join the course when it was offered the first time earlier this summer, this is your chance to get in on all the action, and take advantage of this amazing learning opportunity! I provide a lot the details of the course (though it’s been revamped and updated a bit) in my first Outdoor Mom Academy announcement, but here is the course outline in a nutshell.
Would you believe me if I told you that I once got a sunburn indoors? I wish sun protective clothing like Little Leaves shirts and pants were available during my lifeguarding days! Yes, back in college when I was working at the indoor pool during summer break, I had the sliding door behind my lifeguard stand slightly cracked, and that small amount of sun light streaming in burned my arm.
Needless to say, my skin is extremely sensitive to the sun, so protection of vital importance for me and my family. When I was young, before rash guards and swim shirts were a common thing, much to my dismay, I always had to sport a t-shirt over my swim suit at the beach and pool. So heavy and uncomfortable! I had to don streaks of zinc oxide under my eyes to shield that vulnerable area from sunburn.
Technology has come a long way with waterproof sunscreen now available, and more advanced ways of protecting our skin. Little Leaves Sun Protective Clothing is leading the way in developing apparel that helps to prevent the damaging effects of the sun, such as skin cancer and premature aging. Knowing that kids and adults need protection from beyond just water activities, Drs. Carlos and Carley Gomez-Meade created shirts, pants, and hats that have natural UPF protection from the sun.
Since our oldest, Bergen, was a wee baby, we have been taking family trips to Hayden Lake, Idaho every summer. For Slaed, it’s been since his freshman year of college! We are lucky to have a good friends with a lake house who allow us to stay and live the lake life for a long weekend.
We often fall into the same routines. We relax on the porch, play on the dock, take boat rides around the lake, and eat delicious home-cooked meals together. This past month we still did all of the above, but in order to spread our wings a bit, and get to know the area more, we added to our usual activities.
When we visit Portland, Oregon, we usually stick to the downtown core with trips to outlying neighborhoods to visit friends. In fact, early on with Bergen when he was a baby, and then a toddler, we took the train down from Seattle and didn’t even use a car! With Portland’s advanced public transportation system, this is easily accomplished.
A recent article in the Seattle Times led us to expand our Portland area horizons though. There is more to the area than the city itself, and we thought it was high time we incorporate a road trip to the Columbia River Gorge. Even with its close proximity to Portland, we’d never traveled to this area famous for its amazing waterfalls, wind surfing, and GORGEous views of the Columbia River cutting through the rocky landscape.
There is much to do and see in this region, and with a day trip (and 2 young children), we barely scratched the surface. This of course means we are already dreaming about return trips. In the meantime though, here’s what our adventure along the Columbia River Gorge entailed, all of which we highly recommend!
When we returned from our week stay on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, aside from falling in love with this beautiful island, we learned one valuable lesson for beach travel. That lesson? Don’t over pack!
St. John, along with the rest of the Caribbean is laid back. And especially since we were staying at house with a washer and dryer, there was no need to pack outfits for everyday. When you have amazing (and world renowned) beaches to visit every day, the basics are all that’s necessary.
After traveling to Maui as a family of 4, we shared our beach vacation packing list for families. That packing list will get you started, but the Caribbean as we learned is a whole different animal. That being said, we wanted to highlight some essentials. We found the items on the following list to be extremely helpful in keeping us comfortable and protected from the elements (mostly sun, bugs, & humidity) while on the island.
Looking for a Seattle area hiking guide to lead you through the outdoors this summer (and beyond)? I’m excited to share a brand new book from Moon Travel Guides called 75 Great Hikes Seattle. Full disclosure: The book is written by my cousin, avid hiker and Kirkland, Washington resident, Melissa Ozbek. I also contributed a short piece on hiking with kids including tips and ideas for heading out on the trail with young kids.
In the following video, I give a quick overview of the hiking guide, and also share what I love most about the book. Continue reading for a chance to win your own copy. I’m giving away two autographed copies of 75 Great Hikes Seattle, so be sure to enter!
It’s finally sandal season here in Seattle, and we are celebrating! Our travels to the Caribbean this spring allowed us to get a jump start in testing the fun kids sandals from M.A.P. shoes, so I’m looking forward to sharing our thoughts. We also hope it might help you make your decisions as you prepare for an adventurous summer season!
You may have read our review of the M.A.P. Footwear sneakers last fall. We also appreciated their cozy boots to keep Georgia’s toes warm this past winter. We are big fans of the brand! In addition to trying out the Emmons Fisherman Sandals (for Bergen) and the Niagara T Fisherman Sandals (for Georgia) during our vacation on St. John, we’ve also put them to the test this spring. Activities have included biking, hiking, scootering, beach play, and of course just typical day to day life of errand running and family hustle and bustle.
It’s a lot of work to get two young children to St. John (U.S. Virgin Islands) from Seattle, but my husband and I can say with confidence that it’s well worth it! Because we have a 2-year old who isn’t so keen on sitting still, and hasn’t yet given in to the power of movies and games on the tablet, we broke the trip up.
First we flew from Seattle to Philadelphia, and stayed the night in a hotel near the airport. The following morning, bright and early, we flew from Philadelphia to St. Thomas. We then took a 45-minute taxi ride to the ferry dock. And finally with much anticipation, we took a wild 20-minute ferry boat ride to Cruz Bay, St. John!
We opted to rent a car on St. John, so we also had the pleasure of walking with our 5+ pieces of luggage to the car rental spot along bumpy sidewalks. When our car rental registration was complete, we were off on just a 5 minute drive to our rental house.
Do you want to boost your confidence as an outdoor mom?
As an ambassador for the class, I want to make sure all you amazing mama readers knew about the OUTDOOR MOM ACADEMY’s first online course! It’s a 6-week course designed to teach moms (and really any caregiver of kids) strategies for easy, fun, and safe outdoor adventures! Want to join me?
I’m taking the class to refine my skills, learn from other inspiring outdoor moms, and to get some practical advice on the most important aspects of adventuring in the outdoors with kids. I’m particularly excited about the camping lesson, as our family is looking to make our camping trips easier and more organized. As my children grow, and we take on “more adventurous” activities, I also think the risk management lesson will be especially relevant.
The course is being taught by 3 amazing outdoor family bloggers:
- Rebecca Walsh from Hike Like a Woman
- Amelia Mayer from Tales of a Mountain Mama
- Susan Strayer from Mountain Mom and Tots
Lake Sammamish State Park, located in Issaquah, Washington has so much for families to enjoy. We recently visited the park with a mission to check out their new playground, which opened last fall (October 2016). The playground, designed for kids ages 2-12, mirrors the area’s nature features and historical attributes. The kids and I were impressed to say the least! Along with some of the usual playground offerings, we found a mushroom house, climbable salmon making their way into the lake, and a coal mine to explore.
During our annual visit the Phoenix area, between watching our Mariners in Spring Training, visiting with family, and enjoying the break from gloomy Seattle weather, we always make time for a family hike in the desert. So far, we’ve hiked in the White Tank Mountains, around Lake Pleasant, and explored Glendale’s Thunderbird Park. Each of these hikes have allowed us to connect with natural environment that can often get overshadowed by the flurry and excitement of travel (combined with suburban sprawl).
On our most recent trip this past March, we ventured northeast of Phoenix to Cave Creek Regional Park. In anticipation of visiting the area, I often scope out new (to us) parks by simply pulling up our location (the Peoria area) in google maps. I then pore over the the screen, zooming in and out, looking for green spaces.
When I find one that looks interesting, I find the driving distance and time estimation. Our general rule considering the ages of our kids, and the goal to be back for afternoon nap time, is to choose something within a 45 minute drive. Cave Creek Regional Park definitely fit the bill!
With winter recently coming to a close, you might not be interested in cold weather gear. However, if you live in a region still experiencing chilly temperatures or want to plan ahead for next fall and winter, you’ll want to consider Stonz Wear.
Stonz Wear is a children’s outerwear brand featuring cold (wet and snowy) weather accessories. They specialize in boots and mittens, and we particularly love the story of their origin. Try as she might, Stonz’ founder Lisa Will, could not keep her young son’s feet warm. She wanted to shoe or boot that would protect those tiny feet from the cold AND stay on, so she got to work designing and creating her own.
Imagine waking up and stepping outside your front door onto a covered porch. In front of you, a babbling stream greets you, bringing an overwhelming sense of peace to your day. Surrounding you from above are towering evergreen trees helping you to feel centered even though tasks, responsibilities, and to-do list items try to impose.
Then as your eyes dance from the calming water to the majestic trees, you realize that the entire area is covered in a blanket of fresh white snow. Truly a winter wonderland that, despite the chill in the air, feels like heaven.
Sounds like a dream, right? Well, this is actually what we experienced just a few weeks ago during our stay at Mounthaven Resort near Mount Rainier National Park.
With a toddler not keen on snow and cold weather, and a preschooler who’s never strapped on snowshoes, I wasn’t sure what to expect for our first family snowshoe adventure. Bergen, our 5-year old, loves hiking, and has been climbing mountains with me since he learned to walk. But snowshoeing?
I foresaw him getting frustrated with the plastic clodhoppers and throwing them off in disgust. Then after being relieved of the clumsy feeling, he’d end up sinking in three feet of accumulated snow. All the while, our 2-year old would grow tired of being carried in the backpack. I envisioned her whining, screaming, or worse throwing a complete tantrum no snack, treat, or lollipop could pacify.
No, that’s not exactly how our first family snowshoe adventure transpired. It ended up being a whole lot of fun for most of us, but it wasn’t without a few bumps! To give you an idea of our set-up, here are a few nitty-gritty details: Slaed has his own snowshoes, I borrowed a pair from a friend, and we rented a pair from REI for Bergen. Georgia was carried in our Deuter Kid Comfort 3 for the 3-mile trek. We chose to hike along the Wonderland Trail (Longmire to Cougar Rock Campground) for it’s easy terrain, pretty views along the Nisqually River, and easy accessibility from Mount Rainier National Park’s south entrance.
Do you have any National Parks on your travel and adventure list this year? Our National Parks are an amazing resource allowing us to dig into the nature and history of many of our country’s most important locations.
Every year the U.S. National Parks service selects several days or weekends that are FEE FREE. This provides a great opportunity to explore a park you’ve been meaning to see!
2017 National Park Fee Free Days
Due to it’s close proximity to our home in Seattle, we usually explore Snohomish County, Washington via weekend day trips. Less than an hour, depending on our specific destination, north of us, we can enjoy all the culture, recreation, shopping, and outdoor adventure the region has to offer, and still get home for naps or bedtime.
Last fall though, we got to do something a little different. We actually stayed the night! As I mentioned in my recent staycation post, planning a trip close to home has so many benefits. One of those benefits is that you get more time to enjoy the destination. We were able to pack so much fun and adventure into a short weekend in Snohomish County! Today I’m sharing our family friendly recommendations for things to do (indoors and out), places to eat and drink, and where to stay.
A note before we start: Snohomish County, Washington is quite a large area (over 2,000 square miles), so this is by no means an exhausted list of all the area has too offer! We’re just scratching the surface of this rich region.
Georgia and I have been busy testing the Deuter Kid Comfort 3 Carrier this past summer and into fall. We’ve loved the opportunity to add some experience with another hiking style carrier to our repertoire. This review is intended to help more families make informed decisions about the product they ultimately decide to purchase. If possible, we always advise to visit an outdoor store, such as REI, to try on the carriers yourself. When you see them in person, you are better able to see each carrier’s features. You can also feel the pack on your very own shoulders, back, and hips. However, hopefully our review will give you some things to think about as you compare and make your decision.
While our kids are active and spend a lot of time outdoors, they are not always on the hiking trail climbing mountains. Consequently, a hiking shoe is overkill for our everyday adventures, but some sneakers aren’t quite rugged enough for our rough and tough kids.
Thanks to M.A.P footwear though, we’ve found a great in between shoe! Bergen has been testing the Troy sneakers from M.A.P. (Motion. Adventure. Play.) Footwear this past summer and early fall. Overall we are pleased with the fit, support, and durability of the shoes.
To give you an idea of our testing process, here are a few details:
- Testing Time: 3 months
- Testing Conditions: long urban walks on sidewalks, long bike rides, forest school, flat well worn hiking trails, parks and playgrounds
- Other Notes: most of the testing has taken place in warmer weather, often worn without socks
When I first moved to Seattle so many of my colleagues and students that I taught (I’m an elementary school teacher currently on “sabbatical” raising my kids), raved about this mysterious place called Lake Chelan. Growing up on the east coast, I’d never heard of the area hosting Washington State’s largest lake, but I quickly learned that it was the place to go to get away from the gloomy and gray of Western Washington. Visitors could swim in the water (in summer) and play on the sandy shores, participate in water sports, and generally just enjoy the lake life taking in views of the surrounding mountains and being treated to the region’s natural bounty. I put Lake Chelan on my already long and growing list of places to see in the Pacific Northwest.
Bergen and I have been busy on the hiking trails this summer! Not only are we exploring, discovering, and enjoying the great outdoors (per usual), but we’ve also been testing hiking shoes and boots from Hi-Tec. Hi-Tec Sports is a hiking and walking shoe and boot company out of Modesto, California. I’m starting with a review of the women’s V-Lite Altitude Pro Lite hiking boots, but stay tuned for a follow-up review of Bergen’s Aitana Low waterproof hiking shoes (also mentioned in our kid’s summer hiking guide).
A nice walk in the woods has it’s place in the hiking world. Tall towering trees, greenery and foliage surrounding you, maybe even a creek or waterfall to gaze at or take a quick dip. Sometimes we want more though. We want an even greater reward for our effort than just the pretty scenery. We long for that light at the end of the tunnel–a gorgeous sweeping view of the landscape giving us more of a perspective of our place here on earth. Viewpoints also often mean you’ve accomplished something big, and that’s extremely satisfying!
This past winter, I set a goal for Bergen (4.5 years at the time) and I (Georgia came along for the ride on my back as well) to hike to the top of Little Si, a smaller neighbor mountain to the larger Mount Si in North Bend, Washington. In order to prep for the journey, we tackled several other trails with viewpoints and similar, but not quite as difficult, terrain and distances, and since then we’ve added a few more hikes with viewpoints to our tally. Consequently, we now have quite a few hikes that we can recommend to other families where your hard work will be rewarded with an amazing view.
One of the many reasons I love hiking as an outdoor activity is because of it’s simplicity. If you can put one foot in front of the other, relatively speaking, you can hike! Passing along this love to our kids has come naturally, and it seems to work particularly well because there really isn’t a lot of stuff involved. We can figure out where we want to go, toss a few things into a daypack, and we’re set for a fun adventure in nature.
Each season brings it’s own unique characteristics, and thus changes what we might need to brave the elements, though summer is probably the simplest of all. And since there are still plenty of summer days left this year, here’s our round-up of some of the best, and most useful items for kids to explore the outdoors on these hot, sunny days.
I’ve mentioned before how much fun it is for us to adventure along side friends and family. They might add another layer of logistics (and we have to be on our best behavior), but getting to hike with companions makes such a difference in our enjoyment and adds some richness to the experience.
We recently had the pleasure of hiking with my cousin who also lives in the Seattle area, and as I was thinking back and processing the time on the trail with her (and Bergen and Georgia), a hiking tip just popped into my mind: Go with an expert!
Rambling all over Washington State (and beyond), my cousin is an avid hiker, and really knows her stuff. As we trekked along the service road to the overlook we had a goal of making it to, she introduced us to delicious edible berries, matched up conifer cones and fallen leaves to their rightful owner towering above us, and helped us identify wildflowers.