Blog (73)

Friday, 02 December 2011 03:07

Outside Every Day: Nov. 30-Dec.1 2011- Catching Up

Written by Courtney

We've lost contact for a little while through the blog because our computer is not working properly, but I've jumped on my husband's work computer to give a quick update!  Yesterday we delivered the wreath that I made for our local nature/science center for their wreath and christmas tree auction fundraiser this weekend in honor of our outdoor playgroup.  I got the skates second hand for $10 and the pinecones were collected by the kids during our Christmas photo shoot on the Christmas tree farm.  We gave our wreath the title of "Get Outside and Play!"- of course!


So we had some picnic lunch while we were there and visited their owl, Hedwig, before heading to school.


I can't figure out how to fix these photos right now but I'll post them anyway!


This morning my older son and I went to our local ski area to get his picture taken for his season pass gifted to him by his grandparents for Christmas- we are so looking forward to skiing, though he says he doesn't need any lessons because he already knows how to ski.  I told him that I would like to take lessons even though I know how to ski and that wasn't convincing, so we'll see how it goes once the snow gets here.  They're hoping to open on December 15th.

Right next to the ski area is a museum that has an outdoor area with animals: a river otter, deer, owls and other birds.  We visited all the animals before heading to school and I promised we'd come back to visit the inside of the museum when we had more time.

This afternoon we had our friends over and explored every inch of the backyard.  It's finally starting to get chilly out!


Wednesday, 30 November 2011 06:42

Outside Every Day Nov. 29, 2011- Night Crawlers

Written by Courtney

We didn't get outside too much today during the day due to other things we had to get done, so I devised a plan that would get us outside once the sun went down: we grilled.  I picked up some burgers, put them on the grill, turned on our outside light and the boys rode scooters outside and played.  We do play out in our yard when it's dark because it's so small that the one light bulb on the back of our house gives us enough light, but it would be nicer to have more.  I'm thinking about what the neighborly "rules" are when it comes to lighting up your yard at night when you live very close to others.  We have a portable "work" light that we bring out in the summer at night, but it would be nice to have a brighter light as a permanent the back of the house- the swingset at the back of the yard needs more light.



Tuesday, 29 November 2011 04:26

Outside Every Day Nov. 28, 2011- Beach in November?

Written by Courtney


That's right.  It was so warm out today I wore flip flops.  Okay, so I also don't like to search for matching socks, but it was definitely warm enough for my flip flops!  We went to the beach down the street to do some digging and building.  The kids made animal sculptures in the sand, chased down seagulls and we found a couple of lobster tails.

Here's to today not being the last day I bury my feet in the sand this year!


Sunday, 27 November 2011 19:57

Gathering Winter Gear- Beyond Coats and Mittens

Written by Courtney

As you already know, we love to get outside.  Going outside can be as uncomplicated and cheap as taking a walk around the block and as complicated and expensive as going on a ski vacation.  Having a lot of interests means having a lot of gear, which we do: kayaks, paddles, skis, skates, helmets of EVERY kind, bikes, bike trailer, scooters- you get the idea.  All this gear, especially with growing children, can add up quickly.  Lucky for us we have two boys that are two years apart, so we just pass down from one to the other, and my husband and I are the oldest children in our family- we have no empathy yet for those who always received hand me downs, so as long as we can get away with it, we will!

Like most people, we do not have an unlimited budget for these things, so here are some strategies I use to get great gear for the best price.


1- Decide what gear you really need to have.  Do you skate so much that you need ice skates or can you just rent them?  We have state run rinks here that don't always have their rental stands open, and if you have your own skates it's free, not to mention skating outside of a rink, so we have our own skates.

2- Decide what gear you'll use the most to see where you need to put a priority on quality.  For instance, I have my own ice skates, but they're basic, CCM figure skates that I've had for many years.  I don't have fancy, fancy hockey skates or anything, we just skate for fun when we are able to get out to the rink.


1- Craigslist!

Craigslist is my favorite.  Sometimes it does take a bit of stalking to find what you need, but that's why you think about it in advance.  For instance, at the end of the ski season think about what you'll need for next year because that's when people like to unload things, or start checking in the fall before ski season gets into full swing.  Last year I scored a pair of skis and boots for my son for Christmas for $60 and they'll get passed down!  His ski instructor looked at me and said, "Those are really good skis."  Score!

2- Second Hand Stores

Stores like Play It Again Sports and other local second hand stores are a great place to go to get discounted gear, you just might have to go back and check on whether they have what you want in the size you want.  Sometimes these stores also place some of their inventory on Craigslist.  Good to know: Play It Again Sports also sells some reasonably priced NEW equipment as well- this is where I got my ice skates.

3- Swaps

Swaps happen in many kind of environments, you just need to be on the lookout to find out about them.  Maybe your local ski area has a ski swap before the season starts.  I worked at a school where the kids went ice skating every Friday morning in the winter, so we always had a skate swap at the school before that season started.  If you can't find a swap near you then ORANIZE ONE!

4- Gifts for Occasions

Are the relatives asking what the kids want for Chrismtas?  Little Johnny needs some ice skates!  Susie needs some ski goggles!  This is probably common sense, but try to be seasonal about it.  My son wanted a scooter, so we waited to give him a scooter for Christmas and he couldn't ride it outside for quite a while because it was covered in ice and snow outside.  He liked riding it inside my parents' house, though!

Good luck scoring some deals!

*Also, let's keep those in mind who can't afford the basic necessities for winter.  Please donate to your local coat drive this season!*SkiGear




I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving.  We had a nice, long holiday where we were able to spend time as a family and time with extended family as well.  We got outside in many ways.  We did a lot of playing in the yard- we even put up some Christmas lights already (after Thanksgiving!).  On Thanksgiving there always seems to be a time when everyone needs to take a break from eating and watching football and go outside to play, even the adults, so we kept up that tradition.

I sound like a broken record, but the weather has been gorgeous.  We went for a hike today with the kids and it was the first time we've really hiked as a family and not had somebody in a carrier- hiking boots for the kids are in our future come springtime!



Thursday, 24 November 2011 03:19

Outside Every Day Nov. 23, 2011- Backyard Warriors

Written by Courtney

The prospect of getting outside today was looking bleak seeing that three of us have been sick and it was wet and raw out.  However, just before we were losing light my son decided he needed to go outside. We got all suited up and played for a good half hour.  Sometimes it's nice when they give me a push to get out.


Wednesday, 23 November 2011 14:00

Outside Every Day Nov. 22, 2011- Christmas Photo Shoot

Written by Courtney


Well, it's that time of year.  Thanksgiving is approaching and before we know it we'll be sending out Christmas cards.  When my first son was little I did bring him in to a studio to get some pictures taken, but once we got a decent camera I decided that I'd take all of their pictures, and we do it outside, of course.  My in-laws have a cranberry bog right behind their house which is also a Christmas tree farm (we got our Christmas tree there last year!)  So it's basically one stop shopping for outdoor holiday photography.  We packed lunch and headed out to wander around and play, hoping that we'd get something good for a card.  Well, we got the money shot about five pictures in, which was great because then I could just relax and I figured anything else we got would be a bonus.  These are some outtakes since I can't reveal the picture we'll actually use on our card!




Tuesday, 22 November 2011 04:11

Outside Every Day, November 21st, 2011 - Leaf Shirts

Written by Courtney

We had some friends over today in our yard, kind of a rescheduling of events because it was raining last Thursday.  We still got outside on Thursday, but we were unable to do this craft.  We gathered leaves and then the kids assembled them, along with sticks and whatever else they wanted, on t-shirts.  This yellow one is my son's and it's not the best color to use for this project but it's the only one I had in his size, so shhh, don't tell him ;)  Dark colors work best because after the child lays down their design an adult sprays bleach over the top.  I also put a small cookie sheet inside to prevent the bleach from going through to the back.


After the area sprayed with bleach lightens, dunk the shirt in a bucket of water to stop the bleach from eating at the fabric.  Just put it in the water gently and then wash right away in your washing machine or hang it up until you are able to wash it.  Today there were a few that I put in the bucket and I think I squeezed them a little bit to get the water out when I was taking them ot of the bucket which made the bleach spread through the shirt and then the images of the leave were blurred.  Learn from my mistake, don't squeeze!  Below is the test one that we did the other day which turned out well:


This was a good craft to do one at a time with the kids and it doesn't take very long, so it's easy to do while the they are playing in the yard with each other and they can take turns doing their shirts.  We definitely felt a chill outside today, but the children were troopers and they had a nice time playing together.  My next preparation for cold weather play is to look up large thermoses so we can tote cider or hot chocolate along for our friends when we play outside.  I think we're going to need it soon!

Another nice weekend here in Massachusetts!  The boys went in the bike trailer with my husband to our local playground and we got a lot of backyard time in.  I had to make a trip to Ikea where I picked up an easel for the boys.  We have a tabletop one, but I've wanted one they could use standing up for a while now, primarily so they could use it outside- less mess in the house, more time outside!  Can't beat this easel for $15.  My son painted a picture of one of our garden shovels digging into the garden.  He loves to draw and paint so I hope to give him more opportunities for nature and landscape painting.


While they painted I put together some chairs from Ikea, and you know when you commit to that you'll be outside for a while!

We also saw the biggest earthworm that we've ever seen:


And, of course, my son commandeered the camera for a while.  I love when he gets his feet in a photo:


What did you do this weekend?

"Must we always teach our children with books? Let them look at the mountains and the stars up above. Let them look at the beauty of the waters and the trees and flowers on earth. They will then begin to think, and to think is the beginning of a real education."
- David Polis


We experienced many things this week: sunny days, rain drops in puddles, rosy cheeks, the ocean, no coat weather, winter coat weather, mud, sand, rocks, leaves and more!  During our outdoor playgroup marathon this week for Make Every Day a Play Day (a meetup every day!) we had 55 people participate and many came out to play multiple times. We had a lot of fun outside together.  Scheduling time to go outside with other people is a great motivator and it's nice to have company.

What we did this week:

Monday- played at the playground until past dark, pretending to be pirates and doing a lot of swinging

Tuesday- played amongst pretend houses and in the sand, transporting, digging and sculpting

Wednesday- geared up for a rainy, rainy walk at a park by the ocean, playing hide and go seek and splashing in puddles

Thursday- rainy, muddy backyard play in the garden, working together to dig, experiment and just get messy

Let's keep up the momentum and continue to get outside for our weekly meetups and beyond.  Keep the "Make Every Day a Play Day" challenge going into the weekend and get your family outside.  You know you'll hear about our weekend adventures, come tell us about yours.

This morning we rode bikes and scooters around Esker Park with friends- some we hadn't seen in a long time and we are glad they could make it out!