Archive for the ‘weather’ Category

On the importance of dads

When I was about ten, my dad and I went for a walk in the woods nearby what we called “the old cottage.”  The old cottage was built by my great grandfather out of stone at Cedar Point, on Georgian Bay and Dad was doing what all fathers do, helping me experience a little bit of his childhood.  We were exploring a little bit and looking for the remains of two square log cabins that were rotting in the wood, no doubt from the earliest days of logging in the area.  We found the cabins, one had full walls and no roof and the other was just a few logs on the ground.

It amazes me to this day that those cabins, which must have been far beyond the reaches of civilization when they were built – there were no roads to them – were still standing just a few hours north of Toronto in the eighties.  They had lastest at least sixty years, and probably longer, as lonely shells in the woods.  I haven’t gone back to look for them in the past twenty five years, but I suspect that parts of them are still back there, quietly returning to the earth.

It also amazes me a little bit that I can still picture that day perfectly.  It was sunny and the sunlight filtered down to the forest floor a little bit through the canopy of trees.  It must have rained the night before or there was heavy dew because I got wet in the undergrowth.  There was a bit of a trail, but it was overgrown and dad showed me how to hold branches so that they didn’t hit the person behind you on the trail, something that I do to this day.

I hadn’t yet joined Scouts at this point in my life, so these were new lessons to me and they made an impression, so much so that I think of them often.

There are a few reasons why this day sticks in my memory so much and why it’s so important to spend time outdoors with your kids if you want them to spend time outdoors with theirs:

1) There are few times in a child’s life when their brain is learning so much as when they are tweens or teens.  Their brains are growing and forming pathways almost as quickly as when they are babies.  If you want to make an impression, make it on a ten or twelve year old.  They may be sullen little brats, but it will shape their lives forever.

2) Time spent with parents when you’re a kid is really important.  I’m sure I remember this day so well because I was with my dad.  I’ve tried a whole bunch of times to recreate the magic of that adventure with friends, and it’s never the same but I’ve had similar experiences with my son. Parent – child time is important.

3) We were on an adventure.  My dad and I have done lots of cool things together: he taught me to paddle a canoe, how to set up a tent and how to rebuild a sports car but the adventures we went on stick out in my mind.  I have more memories of heading out in our little boat to camp on another island and walks through the woods than of just about any other thing that I have done with my dad (and we’ve done lots of cool things).  Adventure is special.

4) We were doing something new and unique – we were finding a cabin.  We were explorers and we were adventurers.  In those days, before I was a teenager and knew everything, my dad was the coolest and this sort of thing was so cool!

Parents have an amazingly strong connection with their kids.  Even teenagers admire their parents.  This is an amazing thing and something that we need to take advantage of while we still can.

Childhood is special.

We need to enjoy it with our kids.

It only comes once.

Thanks Dad!

Rain gear

I honestly think that a lot of the reason why people don’t like the rain is that they had a bad experience when they were a kid.  Too many of us had ponchos or windbreakers as rain gear when we were little and, as a result, the rain meant being cold and wet.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

I’m  strong believer in outside in all weather.  Now, to do that, you have to make sure that you and your kids are equipped to be warm and dry.

That starts with making sure that you have the base layer taken care of.  If you live some place where rain and warm go together, you’re all set, but for the cold rains that we used to get on Vancouver Island it means sweats, a hat and mitts – all synthetic of course – likely you have that already, but if not it can be hard for under $30.

Then, look to buy a pair of rubber boots.  For you, you can find a black pair for under $20, and a brightly coloured fun pair for your child at about the same cost.

Then, it’s time for the rain suit.  You want to make sure that you’re covering your legs and your torso.  More so for your child.

There are one piece suits available for kids – we’ve had this one for a while and our three year old loves it.

Two piece suits are also a good idea.  Just make sure that the top is a jacket and not a poncho – sleeves make a big difference.  I also recommend buying fully waterproof for kids over the waterproof breathable fabrics. You’re going to replacing this stuff often as your kids grow and, with that in mind, cheaper is better.

So, now you’re outfitted with quality rain gear, you’re going to be dry in the rain.  Now you can get out there and hike, paddle or just go splashing in all weather.

What to do on a rainy day

Looks to be pouring outside today.  This spring has been typical of the past few here in Alberta – wet, wet, wet.

Way too often, we think of rainy days as the time to get indoors and watch tv (actually, that seems to be one of the default activities regardless).  With the proper clothing, you can get outdoors in all weather and explore, play and splash in puddles.  Now, I don’t want anyone rushing out and buying the rain gear that would allow them to be outdoors for a three week expedition at sea.  That’s overkill.  But, if you and your kids have rain pants, a rain jacket and rubber boots (probably about $40 worth of stuff each), you’ll be all set for short trips outdoors in the rain (or for a week long canoe trip).

So, what do you do when you get out there.

First – make sure that you spend at least a few minutes jumping in puddles and enjoying the water splashing up.

Then, you can set up cups to see how much rain is falling.  You had talk about where rain comes from (the water cycle) and imagine where it’s going.

Play a bit in the puddles – let your kids touch them, maybe dig some channels in the mud if you’re near mud and watch where the water flows.  Float sticks down a river (assuming that it’s not flowing too quickly).

Make sure that you get good and wet, sing some songs about rain (it’s raining, it’s storming is a personal favourite of mine), and dancing a bit.  Play tag, laugh a lot and make sure that you go inside when the first one of you starts getting cold.  That way it will still be fun next time!