To Ski, Or Not to Ski… That is My Dilemma

I grew up in the relatively flat state of South Dakota.  Land of long winters and below-freezing wind chills which whipped across the prairie.  My parents were both raised on ranches.  In short, they were not skiers, nor was teaching kids to ski anywhere on their radar. South Dakota is not totally devoid of a ski area, though.  So it was at age 16 that I made my first pilgrimage with fellow teens, to go learn to ski at Terry Peak in the Black Hills.  What did I think of skiing? Skiing First Impressions Cold. Icy. Terrifying. Cute boys. Short runs. Long chairlift rides. That’s about it, in a nutshell.  I tolerated it for the social aspect. But it was nothing I had a burning desire to pursue. I’ve since had the chance to ski bigger mountains than South Dakota offers, and enjoyed some good times on the slopes.  There have admittedly been brief, optimal moments when I felt a rush of excitement and glee over a great run.  Overall, I have comfortably settled in at:  … [Read more...]

My First Kayak Adventure Ever… in Sagres Portugal!

Death by rollover.  Trapped upside down in my kayak, whoosing past head-smashing rocks, unable to release my lower body from its underwater tomb.  Yep, it’s one of my worst nightmares.  Can you blame me? Hence my hesitancy whenever I’ve had the opportunity to go kayaking. And I almost passed up the opportunity yet again, on a recent media trip to Portugal.  We had a local guide from the fishing village of Sagres Portugal who was planning on taking our small group of three out for a kayak adventure.  Realizing I was there to report in the capacity of “OUTDOORSY” TravelingMom… I figured I better suck it up, Buttercup! And join them. Lesson learned:  Never pass up a chance to kayak with a guide! My First Time Kayaking – Walk in the Park Turns out the only danger that day was if I had actually tipped over, my iPhone would have been trashed.  Other than that, it was so completely safe that they even take out children if the sea is calm. “The Sea.”  That’s what they … [Read more...]

Family Mountain Biking Adventure Puts Sharpie Extreme to Test

About a decade ago, my husband and I moved our young family to Colorado.  We both loved the outdoors, and wanted our kids to grow up with an enjoyment and appreciation of camping, hiking, skiing, and mountain biking. At last we've arrived at the stage in our children's lives where we can all hit a mountain biking trail, each riding our own bike.  Having stuck primarily to hiking for these past few years... this is an exciting development!  It was a rocky start the first few times out, but I've picked up a few family mountain biking tips along the way. So we were excited when Sharpie Extreme approached us, offering to send us on a family outdoor adventure.  The Sharpie Extreme line of permanent markers is particularly well suited to marking your outdoor gear, so they wanted us to put them to the test while mountain biking. Mission accepted! Getting the Family Ready for Outdoor Adventure Getting your family outdoors for an adventure can feel extreme.  Depending on the … [Read more...]

Keeping Your Kids Fit and Safe This Summer with Fun Outdoor Activities

We all look forward to the summer, as this is the time where you and the kids can spend plenty of quality time together in the great outdoors. Not only is this an excellent way to bond as a family, but it is also perfect for trying out fun outdoor activities. Your kids are sure to love trying out new pursuits, plus it is also a fantastic way to keep them fit, healthy and happy. Activities to Try There are all kinds of terrific activities for your kids to try this summer out in the fresh air and surrounded by nature. Mountain biking, skateboarding, rollerblading, hiking and kayaking are just a few examples, but there are dozens more for you to consider. It can be wise to encourage your children to try new hobbies as this can develop different skills and boost their confidence; they may also find a new passion that they had not considered before.   Safety When it comes to outdoor activities, safety is paramount and this is something that all parents will be concerned … [Read more...]

9 Things You’ll Need for an Awesome Family Mountain Biking Adventure

It's that time of year again.  EXCELLENT family mountain biking weather!  As a family, our kids have reached an age (5 and 11) where we are ready to fully embrace this outdoor activity together. We've picked up a few family mountain biking tips along the way.  Here's my best advice on things you'll  need for an awesome adventure. 1. Find a Safe Space for Family Mountain Biking My family recently headed out for a weekend of camping and family mountain biking.  We chose a public lands area where the spaces are wide open, trails are plentiful, and the rules are fast and loose. The unexpected downside?  Motorized vehicles are also allowed on all trails, and the ATV action was in full swing during this busy holiday weekend. Bottom line, the trails weren’t really safe enough for a family with two young kids to ride their bicycles.  We improvised by sticking to our own loop we forged through the trees near our campsite.  Had we known in advance, we would have selected an area … [Read more...]

The Drop Dead Scariest Thing at the High Ropes Course

I've known this was coming for about two years now.  It's a rite of passage for all 5th graders at my daughter's elementary school.  At the end of the year, they take a field trip to a High Ropes Course.  One final boost to their self esteem and confidence before tossing them into the Lion's Den (a.k.a. Middle School). Although I typically try to attend all field trips, I had made the conscious choice to *not* witness this.  I trusted them to keep the kids safe.  I just didn't think I could watch it. I made it half way through my work morning, before I broke down and headed over to the high ropes course.  I'm so glad I did. The Right Stuff Who knew these kids had this in them?  I've been around the majority of them since kindergarten, and have a beat on most of their personalities.  But I did not see this coming. To be honest, when I pulled up it didn't look like much.  After parking and walking in for  closer view it hit me.  That high ropes course was incredibly scary. … [Read more...]

Celebrate the Centennial On These Free National Park Days

This year marks the 100th anniversary of our National Parks!  These unique, breathtaking nature areas have been set aside and preserved for us and our children to be able to experience their beauty.  To celebrate the Centennial, they are encouraging everyone to "Find Your Park", and get out there to enjoy the outdoors. #FindYourPark Website and Location Tool Did you know there are over 400 National Parks in the US?  Join the celebration to explore, learn, discover, be inspired, or simply have fun.  The Find Your Park site will help you browse for a perfect location to visit.  You can browse by state, or do a general search by name. I love all the ideas it offers on planning your visit, special Centennial events that are being held this year, and experiences for your family to try. And if there isn't a National Park close enough for your family to travel to, you can broaden the map search tool to display public lands. Free National Park Days But now for the best … [Read more...]

Who Knew You Could Buy This for 20 Cents?

For years, I've tried to grow tomatoes in my backyard.  It's been an ongoing exercise in frustration, to say the least.  Each fruitless season, I gripe to friends and family... begging for advice. I love the concept of gardening, I just don't seem to have a knack for it. So I came up with one last approach to try this season, before throwing in the trowel.  My husband built me a raised garden bed a few years ago, so I've got a dedicated spot.  Our journey into backyard chicken ownership added an extra challenge, but I think we've even got that figured out with the help of some extra chicken wire. One variant I've tried is the location where I purchase my plants.  Does this make a difference?  Walmart vs the local greenhouse?  Perhaps.  But irregardless, my garden was still a bust.  Last year I literally got *zero* tomatoes.  Go figure. My New (Cheaper!) Approach to Gardening So I'm done playing that game.  All bets are off!  This year I have a two part strategy: Try … [Read more...]

Celebrate Earth Month By Playing! #PledgeToPlay

Earth Day has evolved into Earth Month! Hey, I think our fabulous planet deserves a month of our time, in thinking about how to take good care of her.  :)   So how about trying to take one hour per day this Earth Month.... to play! Not on your phone. Not on your tablet. Not in front of the tv. Or the computer. Just play.  Indoors or out.  Although it seems ideal to try and get you and your kids outside to play in honor of Earth Month.    But even if it's indoors, an hour of non-electronics play is saving electricity (and hence energy). Here's a cool site that offers exclusively eco-friendly products, and has come up with a fun campaign (with prizes!) this month to encourage people to be mindful of playing and taking care of our Earth. Green Toys #PledgeToPlay Green Toys is an eco-friendly company, making toys from 100% recycled materials.  In looking over their website, I realized that my son happens to have three different toys from Green Toys.  And they are … [Read more...]

Winter Family Adventure Day in Ouray

I've written in the past about my family packing up and heading out for a no-definite-plans Family Adventure Day.  We love to explore our area through day trips, and see what outdoor fun we can find. Winter is not exactly my favorite season.  Sometimes I just feel like ADVENTURING by reading a book next to my fireplace at home.   But I have to admit, if you bundle up before heading out.... you can have a pretty awesome Winter Edition of Family Adventure Day. Our Family Adventure Day in Ouray, Colorado Known worldwide for its Ice Climbing Festival, Ouray is one of our favorite mountain towns in Colorado.   Although we've seen climbers practicing in December, we don't attend the January festival.  While it's impressive to watch those crazies tackle a frozen waterfall climb, it's a little too crowded for the casual wanderer that weekend. But any other time... Ouray, Colorado is downright charming.   It's known as the "Switzerland of America" because of being enclosed on three … [Read more...]