Monday, February 20, 2012

how to play outside: snow play

It's been mentioned before.....
I like to be outside. 
With sunshine and blue skies over the weekend, we couldn't even think of being cooped up in the house..... we headed out.
Miles and mountains of sparkly snow. 
Meadows to roam through and forests to hide in.
Finding animal tracks, and following them over, around, under and back again.
As we all ran down a hill, arms flailing and snow flying, 
I screamed, 
(note: if you are looking for peace and quiet in nature, we are probably not the family to be around")

I couldn't think of any other thing at that very moment that I would rather be doing.

When you have something that you think is really, truly, amazing, 
I think it's human nature to want to share it. 
You share your dessert you ordered with your date at a restaurant. 
You share recipes you find to your friends. 
You send hilarious videos from the www to everyone you know (you know you do)

So I want to share this with you: 
How to Play Outside. 

It is really, truly, so fantastically amazingly wonderful that I want all the world to know about it. 
Just simply being outside can do wonders for your family relationship, it's healthy for your body, it clears your head, and it get's you out of the February Funk (hey we are almost done with this month!)
It also feels so good to be disconnected from "The World", and just be out.

I find it funny that the aisles of the grocery stores are expanding with so many "green" products. Every other commercial is all about "going green" or "saving something"
"Save the Earth!!!" they all say. 
But how many people are spending their money on all these green things
to save an earth they never get out to enjoy? 
How will we teach our kids about "saving the earth or the trees or the whales or green spotted tree frog" or whatever it may be that you want to save......if your our kids have never even seen these things?

So let's get outside.
How to play in the snow:
What you'll need:
-snow. pretty crucial in this one. Sorry to my friends in the south--you are more than welcome to come and borrow our snowy mountains. Stay tuned this spring for how to play in the desert.
-layers: it's hard to judge what the temperature is going to be when you are heading up in to the mountains, so we've found it best (especially with little kids!) to wear layer after layer that you can always take off. 
Example of layers:
on our kids we had long underwear, waterproof snowpants, hoodies (which came off fast), waterproof jackets, wool socks, waterproof boots, hats, waterproof mittens.
Robby and I wear polyester/wool blend running tights and tops under our snow clothes to keep us warm and dry, and they are comfortable to move in. Plus they're something we already have for cold weather running, so it's not something extra we had to go out and buy.
Now is a GREAT time to buy snow gear for next year--everything is on clearance!
Also: the girl has never had "girly" snowboots. The kids have the same boys boots, and next year she'll get brother's (ah the joys of being the second child) She loves his old mittens, and she'll also be wearing his snowpants next year. It's a great way to save, and really, who cares?
-Snowshoes: You don't actually need snowshoes to get out and enjoy the snow! There are so many packed trails in lower areas that comfortable, waterproof boots will be just fine.
If you plan on heading out to less popular areas with fewer packed trails, or out where the snow is deeper, snowshoes are more of a necessity. 
And they're fun! They are cheap to rent if you don't own them, and most larger outdoor retailers offer daily rentals. Plus, unlike skiing or snowboarding, you don't need a pass to go play!
-Sunscreen. Chapstick.
-Water. Lots and lots of water. The kids got their own Camelbacks for Christmas. They LOVE being able to carry their own water and snacks, and when they are carrying it themselves, it ensures that they drink enough. Or most likely too much (LOTS of outdoor bathroom breaks) but better than ending up with dehydrated kiddos.
Snacks. More than you'll think you need. Hiking through the snow uses up energy so quickly, and uses every single teeny tiny muscle you never even knew you had. You'll get hungry fast. 
We make sure to eat a big breakfast before we head out, and always pack pb&j, higher calorie granola bars and trail mix.
-Backpacks. To carry snacks/unwanted layers, extra layers, etc.

Hiking with Kids
-expect nothing. we have learned for us it's best not to ever have a set distance in mind. We never know how far our kids will make it. Last summer the furthest we did with our kids was a 5 mile hike (post here), with about 1000ft elevation gain in the 2.5 mile trip up. We set out on the climb having no idea how far we'd get. We talked to a group at the trailhead who said we wouldn't be able to make it up to the top with our when we DID make, it....yeah, we celebrated a little bit. 
But we usually just hike out until we can tell that they are getting tired, but they're not complaining yet....and then we turn around while they are still happy.
-Oh yes they will complain. But that's what kids are best at! That's why we always have snacks and breaks, and by the time we are on the car ride home, they forget they hard parts and are asking when we can go again.
-take lots of breaks. We take snack breaks, lunch breaks, throw snowballs at the dog breaks, bathroom breaks, slide down the hill breaks. When we are out hiking with no destination in mind, we are just out to enjoy it, so there is never any rush to get anywhere.
-take pictures. of course I would tell you to do this. I made it my goal this year to have family pictures of all of our adventures. I strap my tripod to my back wherever we go so we can get at least one picture of all of us.
-know where you're going: you can find all kinds of recommended trails and trail maps online before you head out. Lots of the forests and trails have trail maps available at the ranger station, and well marked trail heads. If you are heading into serious backcountry, make sure you are aware of avalanche dangers and have the proper equipment for that (but yeah, let's not take our kids into areas with avalanche danger, that sounds better.)

Just have fun. Take time to stop. Listen. 
Enjoy being out.
northfork4 copynorthfork2 copynorthfork8 copynorthfork6 copynorthforknorthfork12 copynorthfork9 copynorthfork1 copynorthfork5 copy
all photos taken near the north fork trail in the uinta mountains, utah

Coming up this year:
how to camp with kids
camp food
day hiking
and more! 
I sound like an infomercial.

How do YOU play in the snow?
Any questions you have? I'll try to answer them in the comments, or a future post. 
Get outside!


kami said...

Love it! I'm in are making me really miss the snow! My hubby and I were just talking about how we need to do better at this. Thank you for the inspiration!

Hannah Nicole said...

Love this! Usually, Minnesota is buried in snow this time of year, but it's February and our grass is showing brown. Can't wait to read more! :)

kylie said...

SO FUN! i love this! playing in the snow is the best. i bet it's a blast with your own kiddies.

Laura said...

I officially love your family. :) Of course I thought you were cool before. But now it's official. You're cool. We love playing outside too. Soooo much. And we love the snow {currently trying to convince the two year old that he likes it!!} too. Such pretty pictures and you have me hooked for the rest of your series.

Kaitlyn Luce said...

Oh, I'm excited about this series. Especially the camping posts! I love camping!

California Girl said...

your kids are SO lucky to have an active mommy and a beautiful landscape to play in...they'll appreciate all your teaching them now in later years!! I love to ski-my favourite way to enjoy the snow...downhill@high speeds on a blanket of white!!

Lauren Knight said...

Fantastic post, fantastic pictures. Fantastic idea! I can't wait for my little ones to grow just a tad older so we don't have to carry two out of three of them whenever we go for outdoor excursions! Thanks for the inspiration!

Brinn said...

this makes my heart happy. oh how i miss my mountains.

Amy said...

I don't have little ones yet (missing the vital ingredient of a man in my life and a house of my own!) but in that foggy gorgeous place called 'the future' I would love to be able to instil a love of the outdoors in the little chickpeas who will hopefully come into my life :) I love your opinion on 'greening' the world, and actually showing our kids the world that we are trying to save. If there is a huge disconnect between their world (inside, computer generated virtual lives) and the real world, how can we expect them to understand what is going on.
Your family are beautiful, keep enjoying the outdoors!

Bridget said...

these pictures are so great. and i'm with you-- get the kids outside. turn off the tv!

(we're thinking of getting rid of our cable for the summer. should be interesting...)