Sunday, August 26, 2012

No Content Here!

Northwoods Balance Beam by virithos
Northwoods Balance Beam, a photo by virithos on Flickr.

We were in MN all last week. Lee and I did an overnight, and tried 2 new dinner recipes. Boo only wore shoes the two times we ate out. We had a great time, but didn't get a post together. So here's a cute pic of the kid as a promissory.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

2 Distractions

We took a little hike after work one day last week. It wasn't as horribly hot as it has been, but it was warm and sunny and the air was full of allergens.

Boo started complaining before we'd gone a full mile. We persuaded her to the one-mile mark, then decided that turning back was the better part of valor.

Then the whining really started.

I took my hat off, and Lee took it. Folded it in half. And started wriggling it.

"Boo! Boo, what is in Baba's hat?"

Pout. "Nothing."

"Boo, it's really wriggly. Can you please look and tell me what it is? I can't see, it's too fast."

Intrigued, she looks. Lee very briefly opened it up and returned to wriggling it.

"I think it's a squirrel, Boo, did you see the squirrel?"

Now she's engaging. Lee offers increasingly more excited and wriggly peeks at the "squirrel". Boo gets more excited, even keeping up with our stroll, and then announces that it has run away into the trees.

"Whew, now Baba can have her hat back. Wait, what's in there now?"

"Meow!" Boo plays along, hooked.

They pulled out several kittens, some puppies, a snake, an elephant, all sorts of farm animals. Each time Lee started to give my hat back, Boo announced that it was full of another creature.

While they were playing and I was sweating, I found an unblemished green walnut. When the hat game was coming to an end (Boo being less excited each time), I dropped it to my feet and kicked it up the trail. Not a huge kick, just dribbling it along, like I did with rocks in the gutters when I was a kid. (That makes my childhood sound much different than it was...)

Finally Boo noticed. And commented. And finally, ran ahead of me to kick the walnut before I did.

And that took us to the trail head.

What games do you lay to keep your kids (or yourself) going when they start to get bored?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Keeping Cool

Kids don’t sweat the way adults do. This makes it easier for them to overheat. They also can’t tell that their body feeling kinda sick means “over heating” or “dehydrating”. Boo will sometimes tell us she’s not feeling good, but more often will not mention it if there’s anything more interesting going on. Pay close attention.

Boo drinks more with a water bladder. It’s right there, she doesn’t need to ask for help or stop. When it’s hot, she’ll complain that her water is too warm, and stop drinking. It’s also difficult for her to know when her water is gone. 

Are You Ready Yet?
If we’re using bottles, we need to remember to offer her water more often than we drink. Oddly enough, a 4-year-old can’t drink and still walk. 

Go Juice
When she gets hot, I’ll soak her (light colored) hiking hankie in water and tie it to her head. Then I tell her she looks like a pirate. If I’ve missed a critical point in the cooling schedule (if she’s really whiny), I’ll take her backpack for a while. She’s almost always sweaty on her back. 

Whistle Chewer

The heat will suck her energy out a lot faster than it will yours. Stop more often, slow down (even more), plan your hikes in the shade or earlier in the day. Water them down. A little splashy water fight can do wonders.

How do you keep your kid (and yourself) cool in the heat?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Review: REI Sprig 12 Backpack

Boo has wanted her own water bladder and tube since forever. For Solstice she got a 1/2L Platypus. Only problem? Her orange bag was about an inch too short for it to fit well, so we had to not fill it fully and roll the bottom end a bit. So Lee was shopping in Chicago (a tea- seeking trip I believe), and Boo and I were plotting her next backpack, when the phone rang. 

“Hi, Lee. How’s it going?” 

“I have an REI Spring in purple on major clearance in my hands. Should I get it?”

We discussed. Her hands-on impression, my looking at the website and reviews. 

“Yes, do it.” 

Boo was immediately thrilled. “There’s room for so much more stuff!!” Of course, the thing we were most concerned about was this bag is big enough to carry more weight than she should carry all day. 


12L holds her first aid kit, field guide, binoculars, bike gloves (protection against scraped hands), bandana, hat, raincoat, snack, and water easily. If we stuff her sleepingbag directly into the pack it fits, but nothing else will. 

It’s shaped so it’s deeper at the bottom (below the zipper), and tapers to the top. If your kiddo, say, wears her backpack backwards and opens the zippers while bouncing down some stairs, much less than half the stuff will spill all over the trail. It has a two-way zipper. 

The hydration pouch is just like a larger pack. Nothing fancy. The hanger loop is just a loop, not a clip like our big packs. There is one tube hole on the right. 

The seams are all finished like you’d expect from a quality pack. It has good hand-feel. 


The shoulder straps are cut in, so they don’t fall off tiny shoulders. The right has 2 elastic loops for a hydration hose. They are nicely padded and backed with mesh. 

The sternum strap adjusts up and down with sliders, and has a whistle built in. That kind of whistle is too small for her, at 4, to blow without covering up the noise hole, but it’s a nice touch. 

The hip belt is just 1” webbing, but it has a double-pull. It does carry some load if she wears it actually tightened down, but she generally just clips it. She likes to be like the adults. There are little pockets the hip-belt can tuck into if your kid doesn’t want it. We could probably cut a foot off each strap and it'd still fit her until she outgrows the pack.

The back is a foam board with a nubby surface toward the wearer. This is covered in mesh. There’s a gap between the lower and upper back area. 

The top grab loop is smaller than on an adult pack, but still large enough for an adult to grab easily. 

As a bonus, the straps have enough webbing to lengthen enough for an adult to carry it. I put some shockcord loops for it on my pack. 


There are two roomy mesh side pockets. Boo generally puts found items there, as she can reach them with the bag on. I’ll often put her hankie there so I can get to it quicker. They haven’t been damaged by snagging yet. 

There is a shock cord on the back. It runs through 4 loops and one grommet. This arrangement has the cordlock on the bottom and you can’t turn it over without cutting off the pull-tab. But it is a nice place for her jacket or a stuffed animal. 


She's 4-years-old,  ~35 pounds and 41" in the pics. The harness has a lot of room to grow. The pack is a bit long for her yet. It's got lots of room to grow.  It can fit her clothes and snacks and her "essential" hiking gear for a weekend.


The purple color  is not highly visible. The red is not much better. I much prefer bright orange or construction yellow for better kid visibility.

While this isn't a con for me, this is a hiking pack, not a school pack. It would be a really bad school pack for a myriad of reasons.

I'd like the shockcord to pull tighter on the top, instead of the bottom.


Boo likes it a lot.  She willingly carries it all day. I expect her to outgrow it before she wears it out. She took a picture of it on our last backpacking trip.

What pack do your kids use?