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This week we made the 7 hour trip south to visit Grammie C. on Staten Island, NY. I have to admit I was surprised to find a couple kid friendly gems on this very urban island.

On Wednesday we visited the Staten Island Children’s Museum located in the scenic Snug Harbor Cultural Center. Admission was only $6 per person over 1 year of age, and we lucked out as Wednesdays happen to be free admission for Grandparents!

Staten Island Children’s Museum

Staten Island Children’s Museum

“The mission of the Staten Island Children’s Museum is to nurture the creativity and curiosity natural to all children, to recognize and celebrate different learning styles, and to demonstrate vividly that learning can be exciting and fun.”

There is easily a half-day of fun to be had here with two levels of exhibits. A restored firetruck from 1941 that was retro-fitted for hands-on learning and play was one of his favorite exhibits, though he spent a fair about of time in in the “Great Explorations” area and in the “Sea of Boats” outdoor play space.

Staten Island Children’s Museum

1941 retrofitted firetruck

Staten Island Children’s Museum

Learning about an exo-skeleton

Staten Island Children’s Museum

The Captain of the Ship

Staten Island Children’s Museum

Snack-Time

Our visit coincided with a “Safety Day” expo which featured a couple dozen booths with various child safety organizations sharing information ranging from lead paint, proper bike helmets, oral hygiene, and the benefits of water over high sugar sports drinks. The highlight was getting to see the inside of an ambulance.

Staten Island Children’s Museum

Ambulance visit

After about 3 hours of fun we sought a late lunch at the nearby excellent Mexican restaurant, Adobe Blues. Very kid friendly, with some of the freshest Mexican food I have had this far north. If you find yourself on Staten Island with a couple little ones in tow, be sure to check out the SI Children’s Museum, we will certainly be returning whenever we are in town!

Like most of nature Adventure With Alex slumbered through most of the winter. That isn’t due to a lack of wanting to get Alex out in the snow, but my guiding schedule in the winter isn’t too conductive to finding time to take Alex hiking (or blog about it). We did get a few ski days in and I documented his very first ski day here. While it has officially been Spring for a few weeks the 1.5 feet of snow in my yard could convince you otherwise. In search of some snow free trails I decided to head an hour south and around Lake Winnipesaukee to climb the popular Mt. Major.

At just under 1,800 feet and just less than 3 miles round trip this would be a perfect break-in to see how much heavier my now 2 and a half year-old was. We had to run a few errands in town so didn’t arrive at the trailhead in Alton, NH until noon. Alex had napped a bit on the drive and seemed excited to go hiking again, but within just a few minutes on the trail he started in with “Wanna go home Daddy”. For a moment I thought that might be best given the trail was anything but snow free. It was actually water-ice for the most part, and I was without any form of traction. However it was softening quickly in the 50-60 degree sunny day, and my beloved Five Ten Camp Four approach shoes were actually getting pretty decent traction. I distracted Alex by creating a find the next blaze game, which he took to quickly and loved pointing out the next blue blaze he could find on each tree.

Hunting blue blazes

Hunting blue blazes

It was quite bright out, and I had been smart enough to bring Alex’s sunglasses when we left the house and dumb enough to forget them in the car, so I soon passed my sunglasses back to an appreciative toddler following me closely up the mountain.

Sunglasses a bit oversized, but that’s the style right?

Sunglasses a bit oversized, but that’s the style right?

We took the direct route up to the summit, and while not steep by my standards I realized I usually like trekking poles with Alex on my back. I’ll also be honest and admit I forgot a few other items on this 1st toddler hike I would recommend to never go with out, mainly my first aid kit and headlamp. Luckily neither would be needed, but I noticed there were sections of the trail with no cell coverage… my work issued PLB (Personal Locator Beacon, SPOT  Gen 3)  was also sitting safely at home… well, reflections like this make us more prepared for the next hike!

We reached the summit in just over an hour, having only passed a young couple just off the trail right before we hit the summit.

Lake Winnipesaukee still frozen with a white Mount Washington in the clear distance

Lake Winnipesaukee still frozen with a white Mount Washington in the clear distance

We grabbed some shelter from the light winds in the old stone foundation that used to house a shelter for hikers and snacked and explored.

Alex loves his organic fruit/veggie push pouches

Alex loves his organic fruit/veggie push pouches

Osprey Poco Premium Child Carrier Season 3!

Osprey Poco Premium Child Carrier Season 3!

iPhone 5s Panorama

iPhone 5s Panorama

Bluebird

Bluebird

After about 15 minutes we started back down, Alex under his own power holding my hand. He loved hopping down the rocky slabs and sloshing though some spring corn snow. 10 minutes down the trail we decided it was time for him to hop back aboard and we made our way down the Boulder Trail back to the car.  Much of the upper part of this trail was south facing and snow free, but as we dropped and turned east then north the trail was a running stream bed of melt off. It wasn’t too hard keeping the feet relatively dry by linking exposed roots and rocks and we reached the parking lot just 2 hours and 2o minutes from our starting time.

Mt Major, Our Route

Mt Major, Our Route

I’m very excited for this Spring/Summer/Fall season with my toddler son. The fact that he can communicate desires like food & water, warmer or colder, will make hiking so much easier. I’m also hoping to build up a network of other rock climbing dads & moms who have toddlers so we can spend more time at the crag. Finally, I am most excited to be able to represent a couple great companies that have supported me with gear.

Friendly Foot and Piggyback Rider have provided me with some samples of their products and I am really stoked on being an ambassador for them. I extensively tested Friendly Foot throughout the winter in my backcountry ski boots and ice climbing boots, and the results have been very positive. Alex is just reaching the age to be able to use the innovative Piggyback Rider so expect a detailed review on that early this season once we have some miles “on the bar”.

So the winter slumber is over. It is pretty easy to spend time outside with a toddler now that the mercury is above freezing and I have a bit more spare time to plan adventurers. I hope you enjoyed this trip report and follow us this season, I’m sure it will be a busy one! See you in the mountains!

Great post from Cragmama!

How to Cultivate Independent Play in Your Child.

Just in time to start thinking about the Spring hiking season some great tips from Cragmama!

How to Make Hiking Fun For Kids.

From the blogger who inspired me to start AwA!

Rocky Face Park (Again…This Time 35 Weeks Preggo).

A couple weeks ago I asked colleague Jonathan Shefftz to chime in on a subject I am very new to… skiing with kids. With 5 solid seasons of skiing with his adorable daughter Micayla he has some excellent advice to share! Thanks Jonathan for all the great tips, Alex & I will be keeping this all in mind for our next day out on the slopes!

Skiing with Kids: A How To … and How Not!

Cautious turns down a frozen Left Gully in Mount Washington’s failing daylight, skiing around gaping crevasses off the summit of Mount Rainier, traversing above deadly fumaroles on Mount Hood, and of course avalanche danger in many places. Sure, I’ve stared down some tricky skiing situations, but all of the foregoing is mere child’s play compared to … teaching your wife how to downhill ski!
A blanket prohibition applies to teaching a spouse how to ski, yet it still commonly takes place. (Kind of like cooking in your tent?) I got away with that during the early years of our relationship, when I must have been held in higher esteem. Fortunately, my wife is now interested only in nordic skiing, and she last downhill skied when she was a week or so pregnant with our daughter.

The ensuing fatherhood has of course been accompanied by all sorts of emotions, desires, goals, and dreams. But for a skier, one overriding concern is always: how can I encourage my child to become a fellow skier? I know my father certainly had that priority for his two sons – and he certainly succeeded. (Thanks Dad, and I know you’re eating that pastrami sandwich in some ski lodge up there in heaven looking down on your two boys out there skiing now!) By contrast, Mom’s priority was to enjoy the peace and quiet with all three of us away from the house, but hey, that worked out too.

Taking our daughter out skiing at first was very easy, especially since she didn’t have much of a choice in this (or anything else for that matter). When she was only four days old in late December, I put her in a Moby wrap on my chest, wore a jacket over both of us, and nordic skied onto the golf course behind our house, while she promptly fell fast asleep. (Note that this is far better than isolating your child in a typical external frame baby carrier backpack, as the various “baby wearing” options keep your child warmer, and also make the load more stable for skiing.)

The second winter was also fairly easy, for a total tally of 32 ski outings with her. And at the beginning of the season, when she was only 11 months old I even got her to balance by herself – however briefly – on skis and poles, before she ever walked or stood on her own.

Skiing with kids

Jonathan & Micayla

Then in the spring, once she could walk, I got her out on skis again, although she mainly just played with her ski poles.

Skiing with kids

Yummy!

The third season was more difficult, as by then I had to carry her on my back, which meant I couldn’t keep her warm with an oversized jacket over both of us. (I also had to buy xc skate skis sized for the combined weight of both of us.) And often when I skate skied down a hill, at the bottom she would be laughing, for some reason unknown to me … until I realized that she had tossed away her hat and gloves way at the top of the hill. She also liked to exercise her newly found two-year-old independence by insisting on getting out of our Beco carrier to use my carbon fiber race pole for – as we call it in the avalanche world – snow penetrometry.

Skiing with kids

Yes, ski pole time! Has 145cm of high-modulus carbon fiber ever provided so much amusement for a toddler?

The fourth season started off okay, and I had high hopes for her to ski on her own. But after we tallied up seven ski outings on my back, she didn’t want to go out anymore after mid-February. Although my own ski season was going strong, and would eventually crack over half a million earned vertical feet, I was distraught that I seemed to have lost my little ski buddy. With hindsight, one factor is that although her snow jacket and pants still seemed to fit okay when standing up, when fully flexed on Daddy’s back the jacket arms and pant legs shortened up significantly, so she might have been too cold on a few days, and kids can be slow to shed bad memories. I also capitulated to her demand to wear only thin knit gloves, when I should have insisted on bulkier mittens.
Yet then one day she accompanied me downstairs to the ski work/storage room, and inquired about a very small pair of skis (amusingly adorned with high-end adult race ski graphics). “Those are *your* skis!” She proceeded to shuffle along the basement rec room floor. Hope!

Then, as if on cue, we received a late-March snowstorm in southern New England, just enough to shuffle around the neighborhood. Victory!

Skiing with kids

Micayla looking stoked!

This fifth season has been going well, at 11 ski outings under her own power as of January 12.

Skiing with kids

Always more fun with friends!

Partly we’ve been fortunate with decent snowfall in southern New England – at least by southern New England standards – while northern New England suffers. And partly maybe I’ve figured out what I’m doing? So here are some tips … although remember that despite all my PSIA, USSA, AIARE, NSP, and AAA credentials related to skiing, I have no qualifications whatsoever to dispense parenting advice!

Start them off nordic: Even if your ultimate goal is lift-served downhill skiing, start your child off with nordic skiing. Your child will immediately be able to shuffle along a little bit, and nordic skiing will build great balance skills for downhill skiing. And since the typical “magic carpet” beginner area at a downhill area has less pitch and length than a nordic ski area, all a downhill resort really offers for a little kid ski outing is more expenses, more crowds, and more general hassle.

Use “real” boots and bindings: Those “universal” bindings that “fit” regular snow boots are fine for a few strides in the backyard, but that’s about it. Your child needs regular ski bindings for more than even just a few minutes of skiing. Otherwise, you are setting up both of you for long-lasting memories of frustration.

Dress yourself inadequately: If the temperatures are cold, dress yourself so that you’re on the verge of shivering. If the weather is very snowy or otherwise possibly wet, wear only marginally water-resistant clothing. This way you’ll be more in tune with what your child is experiencing – which will always be colder and wetter than you, no matter how well you try to dress your child.

Achieve economies of scale: We have only one child (though her independence streaks sometimes seem to cause enough trouble for a family of many more). To my pleasant surprise though, I’ve found that bringing along her nearly identically aged cousin from the next town over is in many ways if anything easier, not harder. (Well, except when they fought over space in their snow “castle” though a hastily built addition solved that problem.) Some aspects, like getting dressed, of course take twice as long. But once they’re out there interacting with each other, the burden on you can be easier.

Protect your back: This is potentially death by a thousand cuts. Or rather, back pain by many dozens of improper lifts. A kid down on the snow just looks so cute – unlike, say, a storage crate – and therefore is so easy to skip out on proper lifting techniques (especially if you’re fortunate enough to be free from any chronic back issues and therefore not worrying about such matters at the time). Fortunately I learned my lesson from some early warning signs this season. So for each fall – and your kid will have many, often deliberately, since that’s part of their fun – get down low with flexed knees, and no bending at the waist.

Think snowplay, not skiing: When I go on real ski tours, I’m admittedly rather intolerant of partners who want to fumble around. Skiing with our daughter is the exact opposite, as any amount of skiing is mission accomplished, no matter how brief. A typical snowplay outing starts off with skiing, then quickly digresses into general snow play, including making snow angels, digging in the snow with my perfectly kid-sized rando race shovel, hiding in the snow “castle” from monsters, and anything else that either of us can think of (even a Jay Peak roundtrip tram ride). Plus no matter what you think of the high prices and/or low nutritional content of ski cafeteria food, it will be worthwhile if it buys your child happy associations with skiing!

Insist on going out … but capitulate to going back in: About half our successful 11 ski outings so far this season have required some initial cajoling. Although I’ve given up on a few other planned outings entirely when she seemed to be a bad overall mood, otherwise I’ve persisted, on the idea that once she got over her initial reluctance, then she’d enjoy our skiing/snowplay outing. And indeed, that idea has proven correct. However, once we have been out for a little while, even it’s been only a *very* little while, and *then* she wants to go back in, well, in we go – often with no warning! (Especially on cold days, as she seems to go immediately from perfectly warm to “freezing” – and sometimes even both “freezing” and “chilly”!) Even though I want to encourage, push, nudge, cajole, etc. her if necessary into each ski outing, once it’s no longer fun for her, then I don’t want to create any bad memories.

Now what about the absence of sled/pulk recommendations for before your child is ready for self-propelled skiing? Until I learned about “baby wearing” I used a pulk for many outings with assorted nieces and a nephew. A pulk with a completely sealed canopy will shield your child entirely from wind and snow. For cold temperatures, the child will not benefit from your body heat, but you can easily pile on the blankets inside the pulk.

The disadvantages include being sealed up inside a little isolation unit, which some kids will dislike. In ungroomed snow, a pulk can be difficult to maneuver, even if you’re up to the workout. And a pulk can be yet another thing to pack into your car.

That said, the best pulk I’ve ever seen is the discontinued Ziffco model. The harness and crossed poles are excellent, and the pulk tracks exceptionally well, even on off-camber groomed high-speed turns. (Yes, I tested this when empty!) Search on eBay and Craigslist for used models. The Ziffco design has now been inherited by Kifaru (via an interim ownership period by Mountainsmith). Kifaru’s focus is on hauling gear, not kids, but a child canopy is still available.

Alternatively, some bike trailers have winter adaptation kits that essentially substitute skis for bike wheels. The advantage over a more traditional pulk would appear to be better glide, given that the entire pulk body is not being dragged over the snow. The disadvantage would appear to be the higher center of gravity, and hence compromised handling. However, I don’t any personal experience with these models. Probably best to try before you buy – too bad you can’t do that with the kid, also so far no desire to return her for a refund!

Jonathan Shefftz is a PSIA certified ski instructor (both alpine and nordic), U.S. Ski Association alpine race coach, avalanche instructor for AIARE and the National Ski Patrol, and governing board member for the American Avalanche Association. Jonathan patrols in Western Massachusetts at Northfield Mountain and Mount Greylock, as well as in his background in Amherst. He and Dave took their Level 3 avalanche course together almost ten years ago in January 2004, along with USFS Mount Washington avalanche forecaster Jeff Lane. Jonathan also organizes the NE Rando Race Series – both those in lycra and those more sensible are welcome!

David Lottmann:

Couple of very cool products reviewed on adventousparents.com! I want that 212Evolution Blanket for Alex, looks awesome!

Originally posted on The Adventures in Parenthood Project:

When the snow began to fall here in the Canadian Rockies, I immediately started to think about what I could do outdoors with my baby girl. Whatever we did, she’d have to be able to ride on me or in a sled or Chariot. I would also have to able to keep her warm. While I would be working up a sweat walking, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, she’d be sitting still and getting cold.

So, I was excited when information about 7 A.M. ENFANT‘s products landed in my inbox. One glance at the bunting bags made by the New York-based company, and I had a feeling I had just found what I needed to keep Maya warm and cozy through winter walks and activities. While 7 A.M. ENFANT is designed for urban living, the company was keen to expand into the outdoor adventure market, and agreed to send…

View original 999 more words

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