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Archive for the ‘Trip Reports’ Category

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!

 

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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!

 

 

 

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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!

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

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One of the first bits of parental advice I got after finding out I would be a dad was to get my child a balance bike as early as possible. Even though Alex was more than a year away from being big enough to ride it I pulled the trigger on a Strider bike. Other than some minimal playing around inside I knew we wouldn’t really get to use it until this Spring. At 2 and a half years old his running and motor skills are just at the point where he can start to get used to the bike, and today we had our first true outdoor session!

Strider Balance Bike

Strider Balance Bike

For those who have never heard of a “balance bike” let me fill you in. Many of us learned to ride bikes using training wheels. These awkward wheels may actually slow a child’s ability to learn to balance on a bike… you are basically just relying on one crutch until you lean to far one way and now you are relying on the other crutch. Balance bikes have no training wheels. They also have no pedals. At first that seems odd, until you watch a toddler struggling to learn balance and the leg coordination to pedal correctly while trying not to bee-line it into the nearest tree. By removing the pedals a child can simply focus on learning to balance (and steer). Essentially they walk around until they feel comfortable sitting down and gliding.

Today we headed to our neighborhood park for a true biking session. Alex’s best buddy Rowan joined him with his brand new Smart Gear balance bike.

Strider Balance Bike

Couple of future X-Gamers

While there was no real “gliding” going on yet both kids enjoyed “riding” the bikes around the park for almost an hour! They took turns on each bike, and Rowan’s mommy and I started formulating a plan for weekly ride-play-dates. While I liked the eco-friendly nature of the Smart Gear bike, and the “anti-jackknife” feature, I think the boys liked the thinner profile of the Strider bike. It was easier for their little legs to stay under them on the narrower bike. This probably won’t be an issue once they both get a few inches taller. The Strider bike though also has foot rests which are definitely going to be needed once he starts gliding.

Strider Balance Bikes

Ready to race

Strider Balance Bikes

RoRo is moving, Alex closes the gap

While we were at the park multiple parents came over with their kids asking if they could let their little ones try. Alex & Rowan were happy to spend time on the slides & swings while their bikes were demo’d. I got the impression that many of the new parents didn’t realize they could start their young toddlers on a “real” bike at such a young age. At least one parent seemed like he was heading to a store to buy one right after leaving the park!

There are some pretty amazing Strider videos out there. Check out Strider’s official YouTube channel here.

How old were you or your kids when you starting riding? Did you use training wheels? Any tips for other parents?

Also please subscribe at the top right if you enjoyed this! This blog lost some momentum over the long winter and it’s nice to know people are reading. We have a busy Spring/Summer planned so there will be at least a weekly post… here’s a preview of next weeks product review update:

All Natural Friendly Foot Powder

It works!

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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!

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