Late Winter Challenge

This is the last day to complete our Winter challenge!

Post below that you have completed the whole challenge, what were the best and worst moments?  Leave your email address and I will send you a link to a short video of some highlights of our spring break.

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Kids or Coyote snacks?

Coyote information to keep your kids safe when hiking or playing in the forest

Enjoying nature with your little ones can be wonderful.  Worrying they are going to be eaten by a coyote, not so wonderful.

How do you keep your kids from being a bite-sized coyote snack?

First, here is a short video on what is called Coyote Hazing, produced by our town.

We tend to stick to the same general area to play in the forest.  This allows the kids to leave bigger projects like building shelters or obstacles courses or bridges they can come back to another day.  In our familiar area of the forest we have never seen a coyote.  However, a mountain biker we see a few times a week, told me that another hiker had been surrounded by a few coyotes just up the trail from where we go.  Scary!

So we have taken a few steps to make sure the kids learn how to deal with coyotes.

  1. We have practiced putting your hands way over your head, (with a big stick is extra points) and yelling “GO AWAY!”
  2. We have played coyote many times, with the above, and making sure no one turns and runs, because apparently that can encourage coyotes to chase you.
  3. The two older kids, who occasionally go a little further than the younger kids, have very loud whistles.
  4. I have an air horn, which should scare off most animals.
  5. We are double checking any new areas we play in for brush or little shelters that could be used as coyote dens.

Has anyone come across a coyote in Oakville or otherwise?

This recent sighting makes me a little extra cautious, but it won’t stop us from enjoying the outdoors, and it seems to add to the adventure.  The kids are even enjoying our new “Coyote” game and have added it to their rotation.

 

 

Quick dinners

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Two 5 minute meals for a busy day outside!

 

Here is a secret from one mom to another: Nachos can be 80% veggies, and the kids will be thrilled they get nachos for dinner.  And Mom, you will be thrilled because it took less than five minutes to throw together.

I mix corn chips and sweet potato chips as the base.  For our brood, I fill 2 cookie sheets with a thin single layer of the chip mix.

Sprinkle grated cheese over top.

Saute whatever veggies, beans, and/or meat you have handy.  Throw on top.  Load the veggies on, if they fall off, kids will still eat them up.

Broil for two to four minutes.  Serve with salsa, guacamole or avocados and sour cream.

Our favourite combos:

Peppers, onion, chicken, olives

Ground beef, peppers, corn, onions, tomatoes

Black beans, corn, broccoli, peppers

It is really hard to go wrong.  And if you are all too hungry to wait to pre-cook the veggies, you can toss them on raw, just chop smaller and try cooking at a lower temp (like 350) for closer to 15 minutes.

Olive Chicken in the Slow Cooker

For our gang, I place a costco-size tray of organic chicken thighs into the slow-cooker.  Add 1/2 of a jar of manzanilla olives, with the brine.  I sprinkle some italian seasoning over it.  Turn on low for 6 to 8 hours.

Go out and play.

Serve with baby spinach salad, broccoli or baby carrots.

Enjoy.

Don’t let that dinner time crunch cut into your outside play time!

 

Sit in front of a tree, not your tablet!

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A late Winter Challenge for adventurous families!

The days are still cold, but we are getting stronger and more resilient by enjoying the fresh air.  Join us by doing this checklist:

1. Find treasures under a log… hopefully some cool bugs and plants.  Don’t forget to put it back to how you have found it.

2. Look for mushrooms.  Collect a small variety to learn what they are when you get home.  We usually carry a box with us to put in interesting discoveries.

3. Make a simple bird feeder to help the birds make it through the winter.  Belle made a simple one.  She spread peanut butter on a stick and sprinkled bird seed on the peanut butter.  Then she put the stick as high as she could get it on a tree.

We came back the next day to see if birds had come to eat the seeds, but it was gone.  There was a lot of curiosity about whether a coyote had eaten the stick.

4. Find a bug.  We were gifted an amazing magnifying glass.  The kids have been enjoying checking out a variety of items with the magnifying glass.  Hands and fingers have been a favourite.  We are hoping to find a dead spider or bee to learn about the physical characteristics.

5. Climb a tree.  This is a challenge for us.  Our little neck of the woods is quite dense so the branches start quite high.  We have a decent climbing tree out front, but we will keep looking for one in the forest.

Post or msg me if you want to join in.  Complete the whole challenge, post about it and you can have a private sneak peak at how we spent our Spring break.  You may get some ideas.

Deadline for completion: March 21st 7pm EST.

Less toys, More Nature

Looking for a toy that boosts your child’s creativity, intelligence and have a calmer home?  Go outside!  Save your money.

Yes, you read that correctly.

No toy will provide the endless opportunities for the open-ended play that nature provides for kids.

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Just get them to the forest and watch them:

  1. Climb over logs
  2. Try to build a shelter
  3. Listen for birds
  4. Look for bugs
  5. Jump in puddles
  6. Throw sticks and rocks in creeks
  7. Run up and down hills
  8. Climb a tree
  9. Help smaller kids climb
  10. Scavenger hunt for acorns, moss, mushroom, etc.

With a little encouragement, your little ones will find millions of things to do outside.

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No video game, plastic toy, or tv show can boost intelligence and creativity and increase happiness like being in nature (Louv).

The best part, leave the mess of sticks, rocks and leaves in the forest, and go home to your tidy home, with exhausted and happy kids… hopefully to a meal waiting in the slow cooker.