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Posted October 14, 2014

By @Deb_Lowther

The temperature drops and so does your families enthusiasm to spend all day outside, but it shouldn't!  Fall and Winter provide some of the best oppotunities for having fun outdoors. Invest in warm boots, all weather pants and a flashy hat and get outside together to enjoy some of these fun family adventures. 

10 Ideas to Take Your Family Outside

I guarantee there are hidden gems within a 45 minute drive that are just begging to be explored.  Water falls, tucked away lakes, rolling hills and trails leading through gorgeous forests. Get out there and enjoy.  Google hiking trails around you, check out local ski hills that might be open for Fall rides on the chair lifts, have groomed cross country ski trails or follow that path into the forest near your house just to see where it leads. 

A great outdoor experience for the whole family, Geocaching is catching on! The sport of using GSP co-ordinates from your smart phone to find hidden treasures and log books is happening all over the world and right in your own backyard.  A simple download of the Geocaching app and you only need to hit one button that says “Find Nearby Geocaches” and you are off. It will lead you by compass and distance markers right to the area where you need to start looking in bushes, under logs and hanging from tree branches for the hidden cache. When you find it there will be a log book to sign and maybe a treasure to take, as long as your replace it with a new treasure for someone else.  Check out www.geocaching.com for more information.

Corn Maze
So many local farms are getting in on the Corn Maze craze! Some are elaborate with 20 km of intricate design that families can explore and answer skill testing questions as they go.  Others are easy fun mazes that kids can run in and out of for hours.  Google corn mazes in your area and support local farmers by checking them out.

Bike Path/Toboggan Rides
If the snow hasn't fallen yet, get those bikes and helmets out and strap on the training wheels. Most cities now boast bike paths that are even riding terrain for the newest cyclists in your family. Bike riding on new paths lead to new adventures and if you plan your journey right, you may even end up at an ice cream or hot chocolate shop!  If the p[aths are full of snow grab a long toboggan and pull the kids along. When you tire, as the kids to give you a ride! 

Horseback Riding
If you have older kids, why not look for a local horse stable that offers Trail Rides.  Many have staff on hand that will walk along side riders as young as 3 and have horses that are gentle with beginner riders. Many are also open all winter long regardless of snow.

How good is your aim? Think outside the fruit farm and look for Conservation areas or Harvest Festivals nearby that offer archery or log cutting. 

Visit a Pioneer Village
Wonder what they do at a Pioneer Village? Go check it out. You might just learn how to make sausages or see demonstrations on candle dipping, historic cooking, apple schnitzing, or grain threshing! Who doesn’t want to learn about apple schnitzing?

Go Fly A Kite
The wind that sets those fall leaves free from the trees is excellent for flying a kite at a nearby park or soccer field. And running with that kite will have the kids flushed and giggling all afternoon.

Leaf Jumping/Snowball Wars
No Family Fun is complete without a giant pile of leaves to jump in and mess up or a good old fashion snow throwing game! Get in on the action. Collect leaves and snow from all the neighbours lawns, shape them into a giant pile and then spend the afternoon rolling around in the leaves or playing in the snow with your kids. I promise they will never forget the fun they had watching you. 

So much fun to be had outdoors, don’t be afraid to explore new ideas and events in your own community.  You may be surprised at how many new Family Traditions you can create outside!


Posted March 15, 2014

by Lianne Castelino www.whereparentstalk.com

It has been a long while since I've had time to blog or had a blog in me, but this morning, while folding laundry I became inspired.

Anyone who truly knows me, even a little, knows I am a rabid perfectionist. Can't help it, it's part horoscope (Virgo) and plain old DNA. A cross I must bear, and I do quite happily.
In short, I like things to look, smell, feel, taste GOOD!

Let me clarify that I am not a lunatic perfectionist, just one who has a high personal bar and thus always tries to reach it and then nudge it upwards, slightly.

Where this ties into laundry and my family is quite simple. I was thinking about how far my perfectionist journey has come in the land of parenting. Teaching our kids how to fold laundry, case and point.

I harken back to my mothers' words when our first was a toddler --- "you have to teach them how to make their bed," she said, "but don't worry about how it's made at the start, just that IT IS made."

But how could I live with an untidily made bed. In the beginning I showed him a few times and wondered why he didn't seem to fully get it. Looking back on it now, it really wasn't all that bad for a four-year-old.

Enter fresh laundry. The day we sat down and explained how to fold it. T-shirts and socks proved to be the stumbling blocks here and years later still tend to be challenges from time to time, but I've learned to let go. It's now how they fold it, it is that they fold it --- the voice in my head said.

This is not to say that quality doesn't matter, quite the contrary. It absolutely does, but so too does positive reinforcement that should eventually lead to improvement over time of a skill or habit in a child.

I have most definitely explained that poorly-folded laundry that enters a drawer will exit that drawer like it has lived inside the mouth of a cow for a few hours or been trampled on by pigs. And yes, those comments are usually met with some form of shoulder-shrugging, low-level eye-rolling or flailing hands up in the air. I long ceased using that example and observed as the amazing happened. They eventually did care, and took care and perhaps heard our words in their little ears while folding --- whatever --- it was and is all good.

So, perfectionism. I feel it is a fairly noble pursuit within reason and with limits. Try to be the best you can be at whatever you attempt. Nothing wrong with that in my view. None of us is perfect, nor has that ever been my motivation. At the same time, there is nothing inherently wrong with pushing one's own personal bar --- as long as it doesn't impede yourself or anyone else in the process.

I do feel that increasingly we live in a society where personal standards are slipping. Excuses abound, rampant laziness, easy outs --- there are plenty of ways to let our standards slide. Like anything else, once they start sliding down that hill --- like a runaway train -- it, they, are hard to stop.

With respect to parenting, I learned to let go of my perfectionist ways when it comes to my children a long time ago. From time to time, it rears its anal head into a situation and I have to check myself.
The bottom line is both our three kids, my husband and myself have grown in our understanding of ourselves, each other and the world.

Who would have ever thought that bed-making and laundry-folding could hold such powerful parenting lessons.

More BLOG entries.


Posted July 22, 2013

Beach ball pool

by Rachel Thomas, Guest Contributor

I always loved having my kids home from school. I loved spending time with them
and thinking of fun things to do. We live in an area that is pretty much hot
and humid almost all year around so in the summer it is just hotter than usual. We have had to come
up with some pretty creative ways to stay cool because we do not have a built
in swimming pool at our house.

We did purchase an above the ground pool which all the kids had a great time in.
Along with the pool we would play in the sprinkler and play games with water
balloons. The kids used to like to play a form of baseball with the water
balloons, one would pitch and one would bat and both would end up getting wet
if they made a hit! That was the fun of it. Or the water balloon toss where you
toss it back and forth moving farther and farther apart until someone misses
and get soaked or it breaks in their hands. Water guns are another “cool” way
to play with water and have some fun. The bigger the better and the more they
got wet. When it gets hot these are great ways to have a good time. Just make
sure you have a lot of towels on hand; with a warm bath afterwards you should
have children ready to sleep!

Most kids love to camp and this is another great summer activity depending on where
you live of course. In our neck of the woods it is often too hot to camp in the
summer so we usually camp in the spring or fall here. If you live in more
moderate climates that get cool at night or in the evenings then camping is
ideal. Especially if you camp near a lake where you can drop a line and catch a
fish or jump in the cool lake for a swim. Hiking, biking, eating out of doors,
and seeing all kinds of wildlife up close can be a blast for children. It can
be a real treat for kids that are used to the city life but roasting
marshmallows over a campfire or making smores is fun for all.

Taking full on vacations can be fun but for those of us who cannot take long vacations
day trips can be a great time for the whole family. My mom used to babysit my
kids while I worked and would often take the kids on a day trip to places
within an hour or two of home every week. They would visit museums, the zoo,
water falls, lakes, and do things like fish, rock climb, hike, bird watch, pick
wild berries, and on and on. Most of us live within a couple hours of
interesting activities and we do not even know it. There are no mountains per
se in our area but there are several nice hilly locations. My children loved to
go and climb these hills and for younger children it can seem like a mountain
climb and they get a big kick out of it! The zoo in our area has a water
feature that the kids can run through to stay cool along with a manmade lake
with paddle boats and a small train. Browse the internet to find neat things to
do within a couple hours of your home and you will be surprised. Kids even like
going to farmer’s markets, and often they have ranches or farms open to the
public to pet animals, milk a cow, pick your own fruits and vegetables, and
maybe even ride a horse. Take advantage of all the interesting places that are nearby,
you may be surprised at what you are missing by traveling great distances for
vacations when you have all these things to do so close to home!

Another fun activity that we do in our family is to have family bike rides to the park
and we would take along a picnic as well. The kids loved riding bikes as a
family and ending up at the local park to play and eat. If you do not have a
local park then you can find a nice park within driving distance and plan a picnic
meal with your family. This is a wonderful way to spend time as a family. Take
along a football, baseball equipment, Frisbees, or fishing poles if the park
has a lake. There are some really nice parks around the cities and all the
state parks (which there are many) allow you to come in for the day for a small
fee and use their tables, playground equipment, and have access to the lakes as
well. Most of them are covered in trees for plenty of shade and you can take
along chairs and blankets so that you can sit and chat or even lie down for a
nap. We have often camped or spent the day at one of our state campgrounds and
they are all very well maintained and a very safe place for a family gathering.

One summer we camped near a lake where you could rent a fishing boat and we taught
the kids to paddle the boat (which is no easy feat). They had a great time out
in the boat; of course they had on life preservers, and loved fishing from the
boat as well. You can sometimes catch much bigger fish boating into the center
of the lake than you can from the shore. This is a real treat for kids that are
not raised near a body of water. We ended up catching turtles instead of fish
sometimes but it adds excitement when something unexpected shows up on the end
of the line. It is especially exciting for us as parents!

Going to the neighborhood pool or a water park is another fun way to spend a hot
summer’s day. Depending on the rules of the pool or park you can sometimes take
a cooler of drinks and food with you and have a picnic but often they require
you to purchase their food and drinks. We found one that we like that lets us
bring in our own which is way more economical and everyone can get a drink or
eat at their leisure. But usually I have to round my kiddos up and get them to
eat and drink because they are having too much fun to take a break. You have to
be careful to make sure they are hydrated and protected with extra sun screen
from time to time to prevent anyone getting burnt or sick.

We live in an area where there are rivers that they allow you to ride inner tubes
on. It mostly a nice gentle ride and we tie our tubes together so that no one
gets too far away. From time to time you come upon a little waterfall of sorts
that pushes you along faster all depending on the rainfall that we had that
year. You want to be sure if you go somewhere like this that the water is high
enough because you can bottom out as well and it is not a lot of fun to walk
your way down river! The people you rent the tubes from have a place at the end
of the river to turn in your tubes and get a ride back to your cars. The
children loved doing this and it makes for a nice, cool day. You can rent a
tube for your cooler as well and have it floating along besides

Some of these things do depend on what part of the country you live in but in every
part of this great country of ours there are sights to be seen and things to be
experienced if you do a little research. Many times we wait for our vacations
and plan big events to have all our fun in a two week period of time but there
are so many fun activities that you can find to do close to home. You can find
something fun to do every week with your kids if you get creative and do a
little research. You will probably be surprised at all the activities you can
find where you live!

Author Bio:

Rachel is an ex-babysitting pro as well as a professional writer and blogger. She is a
graduate from Iowa State University and currently writes for www.babysitting.net. She
welcomes questions/comments which can be sent to rachelthomas.author @