Category Archives: Parenting

WOCU: The Kids

For those of you who connect with us on Facebook most of this will be repeat, but hopefully there’s a few new bits here and we can catch up friends and family who aren’t on FB.

Last week Sydney started First Grade… goodness time flies!! She’s in a class with her cousin and best friend and we know she’s super excited about that. She loves her new teacher who is “so nice to her” and thinks she’s already a pro at First Grade. She’s reading up a storm and works on those big words all the time.

Miles is happy about his developing musical skills. We visited Crossroads Music (aka Guitar Store) a couple times recently and I think he may have fallen in love with the upright bass. I’m not going to complain. He got a pick and is working on his strumming skills with his new star pick. He’s channeling Eric Clapton.

Elle has decided that climbing up things with buttons and cords is a fun thing to do. And she spends a lot of time mimicking her big brother… and the chickens… and the cars. She’s a bit of a comedian around here. She’s going to be one in about a month and we’ll officially have a 1, 2 and 6 year old. I like the sound of that.

Here are some pics for your pleasure…



Filed under Family, Parenting

~ This Moment ~

inspired by SouleMama

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.


Filed under Family, Outdoors, Parenting

Hiking/Camping with Children in the Pac NW: Staying Warm and What to Wear

If you’ve ever been camping in the Pac NW, you’re well aware of the fact that staying dry is the key ingredients to staying warm. With that said, keeping yourselves and your children dry will extend the life of your trip tenfold. Let’s talk layers…

We’ll go from the bottom up.
Socks and boots: A medium weight merino wool sock with a waterproof/water resistant boot.
Pants: A mid-weight long john with convertible water resistant outdoor pants.
Tops: A mid-weight long john, fleece jacket and waterproof shell.
Extras: Pairs of socks, underwear, a tank or short sleeved shirt and flip flops or camp sandals.

You can find all of these items for toddlers up through adult sizes. You will have a harder time finding these exact things for kids under a year old, but some brands do a great job of providing technical long johns and bunting. Patagonia, REI and Columbia are your best bets for finding super small people clothing. If you have more than one child and plan on spending lots of time outdoors, I highly recommend spending the extra few bucks on decent gear for your kids. Not only will you find lots of unisex items that can be passed from one child to the next, your children won’t complain of being cold, wet or generally uncomfortable and the gear will get plenty of good wear.

The list above is very basic. It is based on the very familiar 35-65 degree and somewhat damp Pac NW weather. It also takes into consideration the potential elevation change as you enter the mountains or the wind you’re bound to encounter at the ocean. Just because it’s 80 degrees at home in Seattle doesn’t mean it will be 80 degrees all night in the mountains or dry at the ocean. Layers, layers, layers.

Next on the list is sleeping arrangements. I only want to cover sleeping bags and pads today since talking tents will be saved for our day on shelter. I recommend purchasing a 20+ degree bag for everyone in your family. If you are going to be mountaineering, you’ll need a different bag, but for 3-Season camping, a 20+ degree bag will do you just fine. Women should really stick with women’s gear including sleeping bags. Women’s bags are not cut as straight as men’s bags and really help your movement while you sleep. Be sure you check the length of the bag before you buy it. Women over 5’6” will probably need a long women’s bag. I like having a mummy bag for those cold nights and even when it isn’t terribly cold the head portion makes a great pillow. My take on sleeping bags for kids is this; buy an adult sized bag and zip tie it off near their feet. They will grow into their bag over time and you won’t have to buy kids bags and then adult bags for them. The weight isn’t much different, nor is the size and you’ll have many more to choose from at the store. Your budget for sleeping bags will impact the degree and weight of the bag. REI and REI Outlet are my favorite sites to look at sleeping bags since you can review a large variety and see their specs. We store our sleeping bags in their stuff sacs and then in a waterproof bag to be sure we have a dry place to sleep. You should try and get off the ground a couple inches. To do that you’ll need a sleeping pad. If you’re not worried about space or weight, you can get foam pads for very inexpensive. If you’re going to be hiking a few miles in and need pads for the whole family, we really like the Therm-a-Rest sleeping pads. They’re lightweight and roll up very small and have chair accessories you can purchase separately.

And now the thing we all think about when we’re heading camping – FIRE! Maintaining fires in the rainforest and at the ocean can be tricky. With practice, you’ll get good at them, but you should know that not having a fire doesn’t have to end your trip. If you have the right clothes and a backup food warming source, you won’t miss having a fire too much. When you do build a fire, make sure it’s a good distance from your tent and that you have a designated area for your small kids to play that’s not too far or too close to the fire. They’ll want to be close to feel the warmth so think about that when you pick a spot for them. Try and find rocks to build up the sides of the fire so there’s a good barrier between them and the fire. And please keep an eye on them at all times. Having a fire can be a ton of fun so keep it safe. Our fire starting kit contains the following items: magnesium stick, matches, lint from the dryer and Grizzly Firestarters.

We’ll be back tomorrow with talk about food and water while camping. Have a good Tuesday!

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Filed under Outdoors, Parenting

Hiking/Camping with Children in the Pac NW: Choosing a Destination

Here’s the start of a one week series on hiking and camping with children in the Pacific Northwest. Most of our camping experiences have been in the Western Washington area so the information you’ll find here will be catered to that, but hopefully there will be tips and tricks you can take elsewhere. Additionally, we have not been known to be “family campers” so you’ll see we err on the light packing side.  If you are planning on staying at designated campground areas where your car will be nearby, you should certainly bring items you know will keep you comfortable for the duration of your stay.

As a side note: While some of this information can be used for basic survival, this series is not intended to educate you on survival techniques.

Monday: Choosing a destination
Tuesday: Keeping your family warm and what to wear
Wednesday: Feeding the clan and staying hydrated
Thursday: Providing shelter
Friday: Having fun in nature

“Where should I take my family to camp?” This is a question I hear time and time again. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t all that simple. My first response is “What kind of camper are you?” And that’s usually followed up with “Do you want to be near your car? How do you envision your sleeping arrangements? How far do you want to hike? Are you worried about children being close to water? Do you want to see other people when you’re on your trip or be completely secluded?” The answers to these questions have a major impact on my suggestions for a destination.

Here are my three categories of hikers/campers:
* Family campers – these are the people who will probably want some of the following items for their stay: an air mattress, lantern, table and cooler for their food, some kind of toilet, music, seating area.
* Hike-In campers – these are the people who have a destination in mind (usually 1-5 miles away from their car) that they will hike to, setup camp, spend a day or three and then head home.
* Backpackers – these are the people who are going on a multiple day and multiple mile long trip. They will setup camp at more than two places along their journey and they are hopefully experienced enough to know what and how to pack going into their trip. (I’m not going to cover backpackers in this series as they have already been there done that. If you’re a backpacker hopefully you’ll find a trick or two here.)

First things first; pick the category you fall into. You can change down the road, but for planning purposes you should know what kind of camper you’re going to be for this trip. Then decide how secluded you would like to be on your trip, whether or not you’re worried about being near a lake or the ocean, if you’re going to bring a pet and how far you want to hike (or not) to your destination.

Resources to Washington State Parks:
Washington State Parks
Olympic National Park
Olympic National Forest
North Cascades National Park
Washington Trails Association

You’re probably going to have a general distance you’re willing to travel. Check out some maps of an area of interest and then hit these sites and find some trails and campsites in that area. Pare your results down to a few that interest you the most and then look at those places via satellite on Google maps, research rules (such as food storage, building fires, etc.), find out if they take reservations, if you need a permit, what season is the best to visit (eg. high elevation in the winter is going to guarantee snow) and what condition the trails are in. If you’re going to the ocean get a tide chart. If you’re going to mountainous areas make sure the roads leading to your destination are intact. Try to think these things through… it’s one thing to be unprepared when it’s just a couple of adults camping, it’s another to be shocked by a high tide when your tent is setup on the beach when you have three kids staying with you.

Some of our favorite hike-in camping spots:
* Shi Shi Beach
* Lena Lake
* Ozette Loop
* The High Divide Loop
* Second Beach

We’ll be back tomorrow with some advice on how to keep your family warm and what to wear on your travels outdoors.

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Filed under Outdoors, Parenting

Bracketology Toddler Style

Ah yes, the madness has begun. March madness that is. In my Summer 2009 Mom’s group (the best Mom’s group ever) we have a tournament challenge happening. The catch is that our toddlers have to pick the teams. One used the Magna Doodle and pictures of the mascots, another used different colored highlighters and we went with numbers and letters on the Aqua Doodle. I’ll admit it’s, by far, the worst bracket I have ever completed. We have Ohio St. losing in the first round and Butler winning it all. {Yeah, I’m sure an 8 seed is going to win the NCAA championship game} But, it will be fun to see if Miles landed any of the upsets.


I also decided that I needed a nursing necklace. STAT. Elle has been wrestling my bra, shirt, skin, etc. to death while nursing lately. So I dug into my bead stash and made this one up. It’s definitely not a permanent solution. I would like something I’m not concerned about her chewing on and I don’t know the origin of all the beads on this, but it will hopefully be a positive distraction and provide something, other than me, for her to grab onto.


Filed under Family, Parenting, Sports

The rainbow of baby poop

It’s a bit of a joke that as a parent you will see every color of poop in a diaper. With that said, it can be concerning if you don’t know the cause of such colors and if they’re normal or if you should call the doc. I hope this list can help you distinguish what is regular and what is not.

Red: Either ate red beets and all is well or has blood in the stool in which case you should call the doc.

Orange: Totally normal color for baby and toddler poop.

Yellow: Also a very normal color. Breastfed poop will generally look like seedy mustard.

Green: Pretty normal poop color. A breastfed baby could be getting a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance. You can read more about that at Nothing to worry about.

Blue: Your baby probably ate a handful of blueberries. (Their pee is probably neon too and they might be bouncing off the walls)

Purple: Pretty rare to have purple poo, but it has been reported after having eaten bananas.

Brown: Congratulations, your baby is eating solids. As we all know, brown is a very normal color of poo.

Black: A newborn’s poop is called meconium and is black and tarry. You should expect this kind of poop for the first few days of you baby’s life. If your baby is past this phase and has a black and tarry poop, there could be a problem and you should call the doc.

Iron fortified formula or iron supplements can also cause a baby’s poop to be black-ish. As long as your baby isn’t constipated from the iron, this shouldn’t be an issue.

White: Could indicate a liver issue or be a tint from drinking cow’s milk. Good time to call the doc.


Filed under Food, Parenting