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Our beloved Bear passed away just after Alex turned 1. We have always wanted a dog in our family but our hearts were not ready and it was easy to focus our attention on our wonderful one-year-old. This winter we decided that after the busy guiding season we would start looking, and last week, after hearing of a influx of puppies at the Conway Area Humane Society, we decided to get serious.

Puppies & Toddlers

Love at first sight?

We originally had our eye on a beautiful one year old Shepard mix named Sissy, but after our 2nd visit we were drawn to this 2.5 month old hound mix. He seemed so sweet and gentle compared to his feisty sister. It didn’t take us long to fall in love.

Puppies & Toddlers

Already good on a leash?

Once we got home though we started noticing we had upset Alex’s balance in his world… Suddenly it wasn’t 100% about him. And Echo would obviously be trying to figure out where in our pack he belonged. This would be by testing each of us through nips and rough play. It was crushing to hear Alex say “I don’t want a doggy” after being jumped on for the 3rd time.

There is a ton of advice on the internet regarding toddlers & puppies. We’ve skimmed and read much of what’s out there, but so far these have been the best tips we’ve followed with some success:

1) Set up some dog free/kid free boundaries. We want Alex & Echo to become best friends, but that can’t be forced. Some playtime together is important so they grow affection for each other, but so is personal space. Alex no longer felt safe playing with his toys on the living room floor, so I took our wood stove kid gate down and re-installed it to split the living room and dining room.

Toddlers & Puppies

This wall will come down, once proper pack order is established

2) 1 on 1 time, for both Pup and Boy. Michelle and I have been sure to spend some quality time with both Alex & Echo when it is just us. This time is so precious. Like when I took Alex for a swim at our nearby beach, just the two of us. Or Echo sitting in my lap last night at a backyard campfire while Alex read books with Mommy inside. We try to give each an hour of undivided attention every day.

Toddlers & Puppies

Solo doggie play

3) Together time. This is very closely supervised at this point until Echo learns he can’t jump on Alex. But with Echo in my lap Alex can sit and learn how to pet him gently. Alex also loves to help get the doggy food and water and sharing these responsibilities will help them bond.

Puppies & Toddlers

Chillin’ on the couch

Well it has only been 9 days since we brought Echo home, and I feel we are making good progress inducting him into our little family. Thanks to crate training house-breaking has gone pretty well considering his young age, and I feel we are on the right path to establishing the proper “pack order”.

Anyone have any tips that worked for them when adding a puppy to a toddler home? Please share below!

 

Originally posted on Expect Adventure:

Throw Rocks. Be Wild. I recently read an article by Emma Marris that makes a wonderfully commonsense argument: kids who play outdoors on their own terms develop a deeper connection to nature. She cites solid research suggesting that Leave No Trace philosophies are only appropriate for adults, but kids should be allowed to run a bit wild – even if they will pick some forbidden flowers. I posted the article to facebook and twitter, where lots of people appreciated this refreshingly relaxed point of view. Meanwhile, I congratulated myself for already encouraging this sort of deep, playful connection to nature.

The very next hike my six-year-old son and I went on – a long backcountry romp in the San Gabriel Mountains – I slipped into a routine I didn’t even know I had of reigning in my surefooted, nature-loving boy. “Stay on the trail.” “Don’t throw rocks.” “Don’t scare the lizards.” When I started…

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The mission of the Tin Mountain Conservation Center is “to promote an appreciation of the environment among children, families, and the community through hands-on programs in the schools, at camp, and in the community.”

This place is only 2 miles from our home. How have I not checked this place out already!?

Alex and I started at the Nature Learning Center off of Bald Hill Rd in Albany, NH. This beautiful eco-friendly building boosts a Nature Library, an impressive collection of  preserved mammals (Alex likes the bear that greets you at the door and a large bobcat further in), and a large function room used for educational programs and events.

Tin Mountain Conservation Center

Tin Mountain Conservation Center

After obtaining a map of the Rockwell Sanctuary we hit the trail. From TMC’s website, “The Sanctuary also boasts a fully preserved ca. 1800 barn, an extensive trail system, a four-acre pond, numerous unique plant species, and a small granite quarry active from 1885-1890.”

Tin Mountain Conservation Center & Rockwell Sanctuary

Tin Mountain Conservation Center & Rockwell Sanctuary

There are about 5 miles of trails on the 138 acre protected land, and they are broken into shorter loop hikes and trails with easy to follow color coded animal trail markers. This made the “find the next blaze” game I play with Alex all the more entertaining. I had a couple of hours and wanted to get as much in as possible so decided to do an “outer-loop” run counter-clockwise around the map.

We cruised south along the “Yellow Beaver” trail before descending down and turning right onto the blue “Bear Tree Loop” trail. We turned east and followed it all the way to the Quarry. Alex demanded I carry us up to the top of a tall stack of quarried blocks, which I was happy to oblige. Here there was a distinct lack of trail markers on an otherwise heavily marked trail. After some snooping I decided to follow the obvious boundary line north and came back into the network on that little unmarked trail about 500 feet north of the Quarry. I could see looking back south the Blue Bear trail would be easier to follow if going clock-wise.

We soon turned right on the yellow “Quarry Trail”. Alex really liked the pick-axe on each marker though I could not convince him it was not a shovel. I intended to stay on this trail until getting to the orange “Frog Leap Loop” but when Alex saw trail signs with sandwiches on them, the aptly named “Lunch Rock Trail” he was adamant we change course. Giving up my goal of a circumnavigation of the area we headed up the Lunch Rock Trail and decided to break at the open Lunch Rock area for a snack and a leg stretch.

Lunch Rock

Lunch Rock

Leg Stretch

Leg Stretch

After a diaper change Alex wanted to hike a bit on his own. The trail ahead had just a bit too much underbrush for his comfort though so I loaded him back into the pack with a promise he could explore once we reached some more open terrain. Finishing the short Lunch Rock Trail we turned right on the red “Maple Leaf Loop” and made our way towards the 4 acre Chase Pond. Soon after turning onto the orange “Frog Leap Loop” we saw the pond through the trees and came across an impressive beaver dam at its outlet.

Beaver Dam

Beaver Dam

We crossed the outlet just downstream over a small wooden bridge and turned right onto the blue “Owl Prowl” trail.

Bridges and trail signs

Bridges and trail signs

Alex was starting to tire so I decided to save the north most loop trail for another visit and we turned in towards the pond on the red “Stoney’s Spur”. This short bit of trail was definitely one of our favorites and we really slowed down to enjoy it. Alex quickly spotted the two Canadian Geese and exclaimed “Ducks! Ducks!”

Frog's and Canadian Geese on Chase Pond

Frog’s and Canadian Geese on Chase Pond

Harder for him to see were the dozens of large frogs milling about in the pond flora around these boardwalk. Some were quite large and I wished I had brought one of the nets the offer at the center for interactive exploring. Next time…

Hard enough for me to see them

Hard enough for me to see them

Alex was anxious to walk himself and I was happy to get him out of the pack. The boardwalks were perfect and he showed great awareness if they went over water. We passed some obvious beaver activity…

Beaver Activity

Beaver Activity

Exploring outside the kid carrier

Exploring outside the kid carrier

Soon we had rounded the northern tip of the pond and were turning onto the yellow “Chestnut-Sided” trail to return to the center.

Almost there

Almost there

We got back to the parking lot 1 hour and 45 minutes from leaving, having completing an exact 2.0 mile loop. Before heading home Alex got to meet a resident dog named Sage (due to her being too smart), as well as the Public Relations Manager Donna and for a brief moment the Executive Director, Michael Kline.

Our route today

Our route today

I feel very lucky to have such an amazing resource so close to home to help us instill the sense of awe and wonder in nature that we all know is important to a balanced life-style. I’m also hoping to find some ways to be more involved with the organization, through membership and perhaps sharing some educational content like my Wilderness Navigation course I teach through EMS Schools. If you live in the area and haven’t made it over to this place do yourself a favor and make time. It’s a great place with great people and a definite gem for our community!

P.S. Adventure With Alex is now on Twitter here and Facebook here! Please follow or share if you like!

 

 

 

Another awesome post by fellow blogger Cragmama. If you have rock climbing kids check this one out!

Cragmama’s Featured #KidCrushers – Round 1.

I’m also added a list of family/kid adventure blogs I have started following under “Suggested Links”. Please check them out!

I may be a little too nonchalant about ticks as I grew up in southern Massachuttes where they are as common as Dunkin Donuts and Red Sox fans. But some things have changed. First, Lyme Disease is becoming more prevalent and spreading. Check out the interactive map from the CDC (Center for Disease Control) here and see how it has spread over 10 years! Ten years ago the White Mountains did not see any cases of Lyme disease, but as the map indicates it has reached us, so it’s time to learn how to protect yourself, and most importantly your little ones, from this disease!

Alex on Slackline

Right after taking this picture my wife spotted Alex’s first tick… can you see it?

First you should be able to recognize the Blacklegged Tick (also called the deer tick). Most transmissions are from nymph’s because they are harder to see.

ticks at different life stages

The good news is it usually takes 24-48 hours of attachment for a tick to transmit the disease! With regular full body checks (bath time/pajama time) you should not panic if you find an attached tick!

Tick season in the White Mountains is from May to September. The best defense is a 3 pronged approach. Defend your kids, defend your pets, and defend your yard. Let’s start with the first line of defense, the yard!

This is taken directly from the CDC website:

Create a Tick-Safe Zone Through Landscaping

You can make your yard less attractive to ticks depending on how you landscape. Here are some simple landscaping techniques that can help reduce tick populations:

Tick Safe Landscaping

 

  • Clear tall grasses and brush around homes and at the edge of lawns.
  • Place a 3-ft wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas and around patios and play equipment. This will restrict tick migration into recreational areas.
  • Mow the lawn frequently and keep leaves raked.
  • Stack wood neatly and in a dry area (discourages rodents that ticks feed on).
  • Keep playground equipment, decks, and patios away from yard edges and trees and place them in a sunny location, if possible.
  • Remove any old furniture, mattresses, or trash from the yard that may give ticks a place to hide.

While there are pesticides that are effective at controlling tick populations we prefer the natural battle first. If you live in a very high risk area it might be worth investigating an early Spring treatment with an acaracide (tick pesticide), such as bifenthin.

Protect your pets!

Our canine and feline friends can easily transport ticks from outside to in, so during tick season there are a few things that can reduce the risk. The above yard landscaping is a great first defense. Then a quick brush and check every time your pet comes inside from playing in the yard can find ticks before they find a good hiding space to attach. Tick & flea baths and repellents will go far at reducing risk. For more info on protecting your pets check out this page on the CDC website.

Protect your yourself and your little ones!

The CDC’s first recommendation is “Avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter”. This is near impossible for a family that hikes as much as we do. It just isn’t going to happen. So for us early detection is key. Remember it takes 24-48 hours of attachment for a tick to transmit the disease! I check Alex as best as possible when we get back to the car, then again at home.

While DEET is approved for babies over 2 months old we feel it is too toxic for us to feel comfortable applying it to our thumb sucking toddler but you can not argue it’s effectiveness. For this reason I use this 30% formula on myself when mosquito’s and tick’s are in abundance. For the absolute best protection I am a huge fan of Permethrin.

SAWYER PERMETHRIN INSECT REPELLANT, 24 OZ.

SAWYER PERMETHRIN INSECT REPELLANT, 24 OZ.

I’ve used this in jungles in South America and Asia, and obviously in the White Mountains. It’s 100% safe when used correctly. This is NOT FOR SKIN! It is meant to treat clothing, gear, footwear, etc. Once it dries there is zero chance of this “leeching” into your skin. I use it on my hiking shoes and pants, and Alex’s hiking shoes’s and pants. I also treated our kid carrier so when I set it down on the ground he has protection.

For information on the safeness of this product on kids (and us) check out this page from the University of Rhode Island. You can pick it up at your local Eastern Mountain Sports or online here. More information on this, and some other tips from the CDC can be found here.

Finally, when you find an embedded tick (and chances are you will at some point), know how to remove it. Improperly removing it can increase risk of infection. All you need is a pair of tweezers. Grasp as close to your skin as possible and pull straight out by slowly increasing pressure.

tweezers grasping a tick close to the skin's surfacetweezers pulling a tick away from the skin in an upward motion

Mistakes like twisting/jerking can cause some of the tick to stay in the skin. If one or both of the “pinchers” stay in do not try to dig them out. Your, or your child’s, body will naturally push them out over a few days but monitor the bite site for any signs of infection, which would require a trip to see the Doc. I would think it would go without saying but do not use a match or lighter on an embedded tick. This can cause it to regurgitate it’s meal, greatly increasing transmission and infection. Once it’s removed wash with soap and water and go back outside to play!

I hope this information helps! While Lyme disease is no joke it shouldn’t keep us from hiking and climbing in areas where ticks may be prevalent. It takes time for a tick to find a spot to embed, and much more time to transmit the disease. Twice daily checks reduces the risk of catching Lyme disease to around the odds of winning PowerBall!

Comment below if you have any suggestions or thoughts on the topic! We’d love to hear from you!

 

Grayson Highlands Bouldering and Baby Z’s First Camp-Out.

Product Review: Friendly Foot Powder “Your Shoes Will Never Smell Again!”

As long as I can remember I have been cursed with some of the stinkiest feet on the planet. Even 2 year old Alex quickly learned to say “Daddy your feet stink!” The fact that I spend half a year not wearing socks in sweaty climbing shoes and half a year sweating in mountaineering & ski boots doesn’t help the issue.

Friendly Foot All Natural Foot Powder

The test subjects

So it was with great relief to come across Friendly Foot. This small earth-friendly company was started in a Washington state garage in 2010, and is now in stores & climbing gyms all over the US and as far away as Japan! I’d long given up on well known foot powders as simply “cover ups”; only effective as car pine-tree car air fresheners at actually removing odor. This is different. This blend has a slight acidic value which actually balances the PH of your shoes and inhibits bacterial growth. Four essential organic oils, Tea Tree, Lavender, Eucalyptus, and Peppermint have microbial, anti-fungal, antiviral, and antiseptic properties. The result? It works!

Other than the 20 pairs of footwear pictured above I have direct testimonials from my wife. A week after running out of my FF supply I walked in the house after a long day on the mountain and was greeted with;

“You’re out of that foot powder arn’t you?”

and

“You need to get some more of that foot powder.”

Well there you have it. Undeniable proof that the stuff works. You should try it. And to help you try it here’s a chance to win a free bottle! You can get up to 3 entries in the drawing:

First comment below on how you manage foot odor. Then you can earn two more entries by liking Adventure With Alex and Friendly Foot on Facebook. Just let us know in your comment that you liked one, or both, for additional entries. Contest will run until May 30th. On May 31st Alex will draw the lucky winner from all entries!

If you don’t want to wait for the contest you can order your own right now from their website here. As an Adventure With Alex reader you can save 10% on your order buy using coupon code “FF14″. Also orders of 4 or more bottles get free shipping within the US!

Friendly Foot Powder

Disclaimer: While Friendly Foot provided the samples for me to test this product in no way did that influence mine (or more importantly my wife’s) opinion on the product.

 

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