Courtney

Courtney

I love the outdoors and our family gets outside as much as possible. I run the Boston Area Active Kids Club outdoor playgroup. Come play with us!

Website URL: http://www.meetup.com/south-shore-playgroup-massachusetts/

Monday, 14 January 2013 06:51

Waiting For Snow

It's January 14th and it feels like Spring in New England.  We waited and waited for snow last year, skiing on a little bit of man made snow on the local hill and trying to occupy ourselves in the cold without the white stuff.  Maybe it was wishful thinking, but I was sure that this year would be different.  The birds chirping and road kill (unfortunately) have proven me wrong so far.  The kids made it out for one meagar day of sledding, but we want more!  At least we have made it out to some playgrounds and have comfortably been navigating around the neighborhood on scooters and bikes since ice has not been an issue.  Has it been an especially warm winter for you?

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Monday, 29 October 2012 13:25

Weathering The Storm: Hurricane Sandy

 

Weathering The Storm: Hurricane Sandy

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Well folks, it's been a while.  Today we are all home from work and school because of Hurricane Sandy.  Not much has happened yet, but the boys did go down to the water to investigate.  If you live near water, do you go out to check out the waves and conditions during a storm or do you stay inside?  When I was little and lived on Long Island we would go to the beach to see the windsurfers.  Sure, they were advised against doing it, but they were going to do it anyway, so figured we might as well watch.

I don't think we'll be affected by the storm very much, but it's nice to have a day off and maybe I'll be proven wrong.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012 19:04

Outside Every Day: Late Spring

What we've been up to this spring:

vineyard

Vineyard Running

northport_slide

Old-school Sliding

ferry

Ferry Riding

ice_cream

Ice Cream Buying

Chalk

Chalk Tracing

horseshoes

Horseshoe Playing

farm

Farm Going

slip_n_slide

Slipping and Sliding

 

Hope you're enjoying the end of spring as well.

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You might not live near the ocean like us, but chances are you live near water of some sort. A foot or more of water is essentially all you need to kayak.  You need a kayak and paddle as well, of course.  We own our kayaks because we use them frequently, but if you want to kayak you can either find a place right on the water that rents them or you can rent them from an outdoor store and travel to where you'd like to go.  If you're kayaking with another person then I'd suggest separate kayaks, not a double kayak.  Double kayaks are lovingly referred to as "divorce boats".  Don't go there, just get your own!  However, I have heard of two adults using a double kayak and then sticking a child in the storage hatch in the middle- sitting in it just like another kayak seat, not closed inside, of course.
kayak2
If your child can sit up and wear a life jacket then they can sit in your lap in calm water while you kayak.  We have a beach near us that has a little island offshore, so we like to take our son there because it's a journey with a destination that's not too far and then we can also explore the island.  I think it's a nice family activity.  Get out there and try it.  Have fun and be safe.
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One of the best things I ever did was to start cooking pizza on the grill.  I don't remember where I first heard/saw the idea, but it's fabulous for many reasons:

1.  Heat.  We live in an area where air conditioning is scarce.  If you're going to cook pizza in any other season but winter, get ready to sweat.  We move pizza production outside come springtime.

2.  Taste.  If you're going to do pizza on the grill you need to cook it so it gets those nice little tasty grilled lines on it.  You know what I mean.  That's what gives it that grilled taste.

3.  Versatility.  It's a fun alternative to other standard grill foods and, just like any pizza, you can put whatever you want on it.  Do it as an appetizer when you have people over for a cookout- it's that quick and easy.

Here comes another list because now you need to know how to do it.  Everyone has their own way, but this is what I've come up with:

1.  Acquire pizza dough.  I usually make my pizza dough.  This is a good, quick recipe that works well on the grill: http://www.food.com/recipe/quick-mix-quick-rise-pizza-dough-186583.  However, you can get pizza dough already made at grocery stores and bakeries- cheap.

2.  Heat the grill to medium high heat.

3.  Spread out your pizza dough as best you can on parchment or wax paper, trying to make it as thin as you can.  Bring the dough to the grill and peel the pizza dough off the paper.  When you do this the dough is bound to bunch up a bit, so try and just spread it out with your hands- like those pizzeria guys.  Put the dough on the grill.  You might even be able to spread it out a little more while it's on there.

4.  Let the dough cook until it's firm on the underside and you start to get those nice grill marks, then flip it over like a pancake.

5.  Top the pizza.  The key here is go light with the cheese and sauce.  This is not the time to make a cheesy, saucy pizza.

6.  Cover it up.  Let the grill act like an oven to cook the toppings and the bottom of the dough will get cooked as well.

7.  Take it off before it burns and enjoy.

This is not something that the kids can help with while it's on the grill, but they can help assemble ingredients and toppings for you.  They also get to frolic in the yard while you cook, so it's a win-win situation.

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Today's Reason: Take Me Out to the Ball Game!  It's baseball season- get out there and see a game in person!  When you think about watching a baseball game you might think that it's not a very active thing to do.  I guess that depends on where you are going.  From my perspective you have to take your whole trip to the ball park into account.  We took our son to a Red Sox game recently and I'd say it was an active day, but we live in a city where you don't just park your car outside the stadium and walk inside.
First of all, I refuse to pay for parking in the city, especially for baseball games.  I know where all the good spots are, so we parked a mile away and took a nice walk to the park through the Fens.
Once we got to the park we walked around outside, bought a much needed Red Sox hat for our son and then walked what seemed to be another mile to our bleacher seats.  Walking the stairs to and from our seats a couple of times was a lot more exercise than we would have gotten sitting at home!
If you're going with kids you'll probably have to get them out and walking around the park a few times- a welcome "break" for everyone, especially if it's a hot day like it was when we were there.  Lucky for us we also got to take a long trek all the way down to the dugout when the game was over and my son got to try on David Ortiz's batting helmet.  We've got friends in low places.
Some of the newer parks have attractions especially for kids.  We went to a Giants game while in San Francisco last summer where they have a mini ball park right in the stadium for young kids to play ball in.  Have you ever see the big Coke bottle at AT&T stadium?  Did you know that inside that coke bottle are two tube slides?  Yes, it's true.
The day we were at the Sox game also happened to be the day of the Boston Marathon.  We may not have run a marathon, but we did make the one mile journey back to our car.  We felt like we had an active day and were happy to drive home and relax.

Each day this week I will be posting a different reason to get outside this summer.  Today: Make a Music Video.

LiamGuitar

In this day and age everybody can make their own music video.  I have HD video and iMovie right on my phone- this stuff has never been more accessible.  My kids love to use the camera and be in front of it.  A couple of months ago I decided I needed to brush up on my iMovie skills, so I toted my son and his friend outside, gave them a few simple instructions and let them run around.  They had a great time, even though it was really cold out, and I had footage to play with. Full disclosure: one day it was so cold that we bribed them with hot chocolate and Munchkins.

This project was mostly a way for me to hone my editing skills, as I mentioned, but it inspired me to get out there with the kids sometime in the near future to have them play outside and shoot their own video that we can edit together.  Why a music video?  Well, my kids are young.  I think starting with a music video is the easy way to go because it gives you much more room to do whatever you want in that you don't have to deal with dialogue and a lot of finnicky shooting and editing.  It's basically just setting footage to music and the kids will think they have done something grand.

As for that video: I still haven't finished editing it, but when I'm done you will be the first to see it.  If you get outside with your little ones and assemble a video, please share it with us!

AnnieLiam

Annie

 

 

Thursday, 17 May 2012 14:39

Spot It: A Game Review

SpotIt

 

We like games in our house.  I've been known to force guests to play board games with me at many a gathering.  So when we were asked to review the game Spot It, we were game- to use a bad pun.

My children are 5 and 2 years old.  The manufacturer's suggested age range is 7-11, but this was a game that was totally playable for me and my older son.  I could even play it with my two year old, if I let him win.

The nice thing about this game is that it is playable in many different ways.  We've had games like this in the past and I've appreciated them because when your child is younger you can choose a developmentally appropriate way to play the game and then try new ones as they get older.  When your children are older it just affords you more options of ways to play the game.

The one we played the most goes like this:

Each player is dealt a card that has a images of many objects on it.  You then turn over a card from the remaining deck and try to spot an object from your card on the card that was turned over.  The first person to spot an object from their card calls it out and then gets to keep that card.  Pretty simple.  And I didn't have to slow down my mental process too much to put myself on the same page as my five year old.  He was pretty good at it.

This would be a great travel game because it's not in a bulky box, just a nice, small tin: wonderful for plane or train travel.  This would also make a nice, reasonably priced gift.  We definitely recommend it!

With record breaking temperatures in New England this week we broke out the shorts and sandals and did a lot of picnicking.  We definitely took advantage of the weather this week.  Here are some photos.

Monday: Scooters, rollerblading and picnicking

Monday

Tuesday: Digging in the garden with friends and eating homemade whoopie pies

Tuesday1

Tuesday2

Wednesday: Picnicking at the gym and playground with friends

Wednesday1

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Thursday: Biking by the ocean and digging in the sand

Thursday1

Thursday2

Friday:  Picnic overlooking the harbor

Friday

Saturday: Maple Sugaring days in New Hampshire

Saturday1

Saturday2

It's supposed to cool off this week, but last week was such a gift, who can complain?

 

 

Tuesday, 13 March 2012 20:53

Every Day a Play Day: March 12 + 13

What a week to be outside.  I'm basking in the sun on my front porch donning a tank top and sunglasses.  I think I'm going to have to take off my shoes.  The ice cream stores are open, white eggs have arrived in the grocery store: it is spring in New England.  Let's just hope it stays that way, because I won't stand for being teased anymore.

We hit a  playground yesterday and boy was it PACKED!   The weather is gorgeous.  People are out on their bikes and motorcycles and baby carriages abound.

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Last night my dad arrived from Virginia to help us with a few things in our kitchen- a remodel that we started in October.  He was supposed to be outside using the saw, but couldn't resist playing baseball with the boys and now they're in the field behind our house playing soccer.  With my parents living so far away, these moments are too few.  I don't care, he'll get the work done, just don't tell my mom!

March13B

 

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