Our Top 12 Outdoor Moments of 2012

As 2012 is winding down, I feel a little sad that my family and I have not been able to spend as much time outdoors as we normally do.  With three rounds of family strep (yes, 3!!) and other medical issues, getting outdoors has been hard for us over the last couple of months.  So I’m really looking forward to getting back in the groove of outdoor livin’ in 2013.  To cheer myself up a bit, I decided to take a look back and reminisce on our favorite outdoor moments of 2012.

12. New Year tree huggin’ on Fiery Gizzard Trail (our fave trail), January 2012

10

11. Autism and the healing power of nature, February 2012

9

10. Nature day with mama, March 2012

8

9. First canoe trip of 2012, April 2012

7

8. Nature for all, May 2012

5

7. Mother’s Day Caving, May 2012

4

6. The Great Sand Dunes, June 2012

3

5. Mini Muddy Buddy Run, July 2012

2

4. Alone in the wilderness, August 2012

1

3. Adventure and the special needs child, June 2012

0

2. Alpine Views in Colorado, June 2012

20120612-212637

1. Water fun and Little Man’s 1st Kayak, July 2012

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo what was your favorite moment of 2012? Any adventures you want to share before the new year falls upon us?!

Advertisements

Science and Nature for Kids {Nature-Inspired Christmas Tree Ornaments}

One of the things that I love most about Christmas since becoming a mom is watching my children not only decorate the tree, but make their own ornaments to use as well.  On our tree you will see a mix of sentimental hand-me-downs, glass ornaments and ornaments  lovingly made by the kids.  This year, however, I wanted to add a touch of nature to the tree.  One of the kid-friendly projects that we really enjoyed was making ornaments from some natural items we had on hand in the kitchen.  With a bag of oranges, some cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, acorns and twine, we came up with these beautiful ornaments!

Nature Christmas Craft

For the oranges, you can slice them thinly or you can use the peel to make a design.  Take all of your orange creations and place in a warm oven (lowest temperature possible) for several hours to dry.  To keep the oranges from sticking to your baking sheet, I recommend laying them down on a piece of cheesecloth.  You might also want to lay something on top of the peels to keep them from curling up while drying (I used the metal lid part of a mason jar for mine.) Keep a close eye on them and make sure to remove from the heat immediately if they begin to brown.

Stay tuned for some more nature-inspired Christmas crafts!

Get a Job, Take a Hike: how to make sure everyone in the family enjoys the trail

Yesterday we took a leisurely hike through a nearby state park. Although the park is quiet and full of kid-friendly trails, it’s hardly the landscape that epic adventures are made of.  But it ended up being one of the best hikes we’ve ever taken together. We had no agenda and no timeline.  We just wanted to share some peaceful time together in the woods.  To ensure that everyone would have a fun, fuss-free hike, we assigned each child a “job.” As our kids are growing older, I find myself continually brainstorming new ways to make sure our hikes stay fun and upbeat. Read on to see how we did it on our last hike!

Little Man took on the role of our fearless trail leader (his most favorite job of all) and Big Brother was the keeper of the leaves (again, a job he loves.)  Little Man led the way and Big Brother collected leaves and strung them on a shoestring.  One of his favorite ways to play is to put beads on strings, so he was estactic!

The boys had a blast and enjoyed every single moment on the trail.  We ended with a picnic and a rock-jumping competition in the creek.
Fallen trees make the best playground, don’t you agree?
Happy kiddos make for a happy mommy and daddy.
We’ll count this as a successful and fun fall hike!
___________
Other posts you might enjoy:

Science and Nature for Kids {Make a Bird Feeder from a Pumpkin}

Halloween has passed and winter fast approaches.  If you are looking for a way to reuse any leftover pumpkins, here’s a great way to enjoy a nature activity with your kids.  Turn your old pumpkin into a bird feeder!  It’s easy and fun for little hands.

Start with a medium-sized pumpkin:

20121111-162514.jpg

Cut it in half and scoop out the insides (great sensory fun for the little helpers):20121111-162533.jpg

Using a nail, punch out some holes on opposite sides of the pumpkin:
20121111-162554.jpg

Use string or twine to make the holder:20121111-162607.jpg

Now punch out some larger holes on each side:20121111-162627.jpg

20121111-162643.jpg

You can slide a twig into the larger holes to make some perches for the birds.  Then hang it in a tree and fill it with some wild bird seed:
20121111-162700.jpg

And wait for the birdies to find the food!20121111-162711.jpgSimple, easy and fun…and the birds will thank you.

Halloween…for all

“With Halloween upon us, please keep in mind that a lot of little people will be visiting your home. Be accepting. The child who is grabbing more than one piece of candy may have poor fine motor skills. The child who takes forever to pick out one piece of candy may have motor planning issues. The child who does not say “Trick or Treat” or thank you may be non-verbal. The child who looks disappointed when they see your bowl might have an allergy. The child who isn’t wearing a costume at all might have a sensory issue or Autism. Be nice. Be patient. It’s everyone’s Halloween!” ~author unknown

 

Make Your Halloween Even Sweeter by Trick or Treating for UNICEF

I have a secret, a confession really, that I need to share with all of you.  On Halloween night, after the kids crash from their sugar highs and all is quiet throughout the house, I rummage through the mounds of candy and devour some of my favorite pieces.

I can’t be the only one, please tell me I’m not the only one……

It’s a sinfully delicious guilt that I carry around all year long.  But hey, a mom’s got to do what a mom’s got to do.  Besides, the kids won’t miss those few pieces of candy.

Now that you all know my little secret, here’s something else that  definitely needs to be shared.  You can make Halloween even sweeter this year by joining UNICEF’s Trick or Treat fundraising program.

For 62 years, UNICEF has been motivating children to become global citizens through this festive fundraising program.  It’s a great way to provide the entire family with an easy and fun way to help others.

  • Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF encourages kids of all ages to help raise funds for their peers in developing countries by going door-to-door on Halloween night or participating in other festive fundraising activities.
  • Through Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF, more than $167 million has been raised, providing children in 190 countries and territories with much-needed health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more.

Ready to get started??  It’s easy! You can order your free collection boxes today!  Click on the image below to find out how….

You can get creative with your fundraising efforts and you can even enter the Create a Character contest for a chance to design your very own collection box for next year.

Make Halloween a little bit sweeter this year with UNICEF, and let’s keep the candy stealing just between us, mkay?

 

I wrote this post as part of The Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health.

Our Motto: Individually we are all powerful. Together we can change the world. We believe in the power of collective action to help others and believe in ourselves to make this world a better place for our children and the world’s children.

Almost Wordless Wednesday

It’s been a rough week….just all around tough for the whole family.  Autism stuff, school stuff, health stuff and a bunch of other stuff thrown in.  BUT, we’ve had some good moments to add to the mix.  It’s those small moments that get you through the tough times and remind you how blessed you are.

Little Man’s big catch (and he was safely released!)

Field trip with the boys

The newest member of the family, a sweet little kitten that took up residence under our front porch.  Little Man is thrilled….the hubby and the dog?  Not so much.

Cummins Falls State Park, Cookeville, TN

Today we visited a new park not too far from home called Cummins Falls State Park.  This gorgeous span of 211 acres has an interesting history:

“It is known that buffalo wallowed in the river in a shallow basin about a quarter-mile east of the falls. Indians used this area to kill buffalo as they needed as indicated by the numerous arrowheads found at the site.  In the 1790s, a veteran of the Revolutionary War, Sergeant Blackburn, for whom the Blackburn Fork State Scenic River is named, was awarded this land in lieu of a pension.  This land was acquired by John Cummins in about 1825 on which he built the first of two water driven mills.  Because of a growing clientele, a second and larger mill was built in 1845 about a half mile or so before the falls.  Local area residents came to the mill and the falls for commerce and recreation. The mill was washed away in a great flood of 1928, but by then cars and paved highways had made the trek to Cummins Falls more of a discretionary trip than a necessary one. The mill was not rebuilt but this land stayed in the Cummins family for more than 180 years until a recent  effort of private individuals and public institutions worked together to purchase the land for resale to the State. “

Since today the temperatures dipped down into the 50’s/60’s (hello Fall….finally!) we decided to take a family hike and explore this new park.  It’s lovely and we can’t wait to go back and spend even more time hiking the area.  We didn’t spend the whole day at the park as we had some other nearby outdoor areas on our agenda for the day as well.

Little Man leading the way.

Big Brother playing “I see you!” which is his version of peek-a-boo.

Big Brother was being awfully silly today, which I can’t complain about since this past week was a really rough one for him in every way.

I never get tired of this site!

Little Man mesmerized by the falls.

We had such a fun little hike.

After visiting the falls, we headed a few miles down the road to the Caney Fork River where I tried out some of my fly fishing skills. No fish tales to speak of, but at least I got out and tried!  Maybe I’ll have better luck next time.

Empty handed, but happy nonetheless!

How did you spend the weekend?  Does it feel like fall where you are?!

Yetis, Rock Climbing and Birthdays….oh my!

We celebrated Little Man’s 5th birthday this past weekend. The day was filled with rock climbing, a yeti/Mt. Everest cake (made by yours truly, no less!) and lots of presents. A fun time was had by all.  Fun enough, in fact, to make me forget for a slight moment that my baby is growing up right before my eyes.  It goes by so fast…but I’m excited for all the moments to come.  Happy Birthday, Little Man. Mommy, Daddy and Big Brother adore you more than you could ever know!

 

Up the creek…

without an agenda.

A couple of weekends ago, our family hiking group visited a lovely nature park filled with several kid-friendly hiking trails.  Since this park was new to me, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but had heard good things about it.  Luckily we were not disappointed!  After a short hike, we came upon a spectacular shallow creek that ran against a bluff line in the woods.  The creek was teaming with small fish, crawfish, salamanders and even snakes.  It was so much fun to get a little wet and muddy while exploring such a diverse habitat.  We ended up staying and playing in the creek much of the time, letting the little hands explore and discover to their hearts content.  I love finding such a jewel in the woods!

Little Man having a blast

Big Brother enjoying the water

Little Man holding a crayfish

a tiny salamander

hunting for treasures

some colorful mushrooms along the trail