Sunday, January 20, 2013

Boo Finding Raccoon Print

Muddy trails are fun! You find all sorts of interesting things.

We owe the park a bag of dirt.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

On the Importance of Pottying in the Woods

Any kid who’s going to be hiking more than a couple hours should know how to potty in the woods. Little ones in diapers are relatively easy – bring the stuff along, and plastic bags to pack it out.

We taught Boo backwoods toileting while she potty trained. I was unemployed at the time, and we were putting in a couple hours on the trails several times a week. I put her on the toilet before we’d go out. We’d hike. Sometimes she’d need to pee (again). I’d find a spot, put her in position, hold her steady to avoid wet pants, tahdah. (The avoiding wet pants is key – watch the urine stream carefully, and you’ll pretty quickly find out how your individual kid needs to position herself to stay dry.) I assume boys who are peeing standing up are even easier. As long as they’re old enough to give you that 10 second warning, they will pee. For a few months I hiked looking for potty spots. I didn’t see anything besides safety issues and potty spots. The first few times, I’d get her into position, and nothing would happen. But she just couldn’t hold it until we got to a toilet or a pull-up.

Pooping wasn’t much harder. She was not interested in pooping in the toilet. So she waited until we were away from one to demand a pull-up. Which is all well and good until she used up her supply. Again, I quickly found a spot, dug a hole with a stick, and positioned her. Nothing happened. Repeat about 5 times over half an hour, and there was success. Once she did it once, there were no problems. She announced a need, I dug a hole quickly, and it was done.

She actually pooped in the woods before ever pooping in the toilet. And it was hard to get her to go in the toilet. She much preferred to do her business in the woods. Especially early in the process, she couldn’t tell she needed to go until she needed to go now. There wasn’t a lot of time to pick the perfect spot. And there wasn’t a lot of time to find a good digging stick. I got a garden trowel and carried it all the time after that first woods pooping. Now when we go out, she reminds me: “Baba, do you have a snack? Water? The trowel?” 

Room to Grow

Start early

Always carry a trowel

Keep an eye out for good spots

How easy or hard was woods-training your kid? What worked? What didn’t?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Motivator: Throwing Things Into Water

All the kids I’ve spent time with love throwing things into water. Rocks, sticks leaves. Ocean, great lake, stream, or puddle. 

It's easy for it to slow you down. “Come on, we need to keep moving!”

Or you can use it to keep them going “Throw 3 more things from this bridge, then let’s see where the next bridge is!”

It helps if you know that the next water is reasonably close. I’ve had luck encouraging her to find good things to throw into the next water. 

Where Are They?

I try to camp near water, for a constant source of amusement. 

This works best with a slight change of mentality. Little kids don't understand hike for an hour then take a little break. All they see is you are being a boring adult and passing all the cool stuff. Most of these pauses can be pretty quick if the kid knows she'll get another chance.

Can I Splash?

What's your go-to trick to keep your kid going?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Review: Rei Sahara Zip Pants

For Christmas 2011, we got Boo 2 pairs or REI Sahara zip-off pants. We bought the girls, but the only “girly” thing about them is the tag and waistband elastic are pink.

 Up and Over


They have the button elastic in the waistband, which is a requirement for anything beyond sweatpants for us. I have no idea what size they are, since somebody cut the size part of the tags off. I’m sure they were the smallest size offered, but I think it was a 5-6 range. I expected them to be too long, and they were. At 4, they were over 3” longer than she needed. Which ended up being 1 roll at the waist and 3 rolls at the cuffs since I was too lazy to shorten them (just taking the cuffs up would have made the zippers not work). At 5 years and 43” tall, they barely hit the dirt. The knees are shaped a bit


We bought 2 pair so that if one got totally nasty we could trade it out. I will not take a little kid who regularly rolls in the mud and puts her dinner in her lap into the wilderness without a second pair of pants. Chipmunks might get her in the night.

So she’s rolled in the mud, climbed on rocks, shimmied up trees, spilled her food and drink, fallen down, bushwhacked, and generally abused them as much as a 4 year old can. One pair the stitching is broken on the back pockets (one set of the double stitching). One pair is slightly faded (we hang our laundry in the summer). They are still in great shape.

Update Sept 22, 2013: The bottom hem of one leg is starting to show wear. After almost 2 years.


Tree Climbers


My favorite thing about these pants is the zips. The entire around zipper is colored (not just the pulls like my pants). And the vertical zipper goes all the way up. So they can be taken off without taking her shoes off. The zipper pulls are on the outside of the leg. The amazing part is that I can take the bottoms of her pants off while she is riding on my shoulders.

 Swishing for Critters


She doesn’t use the rear pockets yet, but she loves to put found treasures in the other pockets. They are nicely sized for her, and reinforced so I’m not afraid she’ll tear them out before she outgrows them.


We bought her convertible pants because she hates the feel of grass on her bare legs, but then gets overheated easily. These keep the grass off without overheating, and then can be turned into shorts when we’re out of the grass. They’re summer weight, and when it’s chilly or windy we layer them with some sweatpants or leggings.


They dry quickly. All the pockets have drain holes.


She rolls in the mud. The mud rinses right out. They’ve had a year of reasonably hard wear and don’t have any stains. I’ve never picked burrs off them.

Boo's Views

I like that they can zip off for hot summer days and they can zip on for cold and grassy days. For medium and cold days and for snowy and hot days I like to have my zip ups off and in the summer we took them to Duluth and they have excellent washing machines. You should go there. Yes you really should. They fit perfect but I don't like how the fabric feels on my legs.


She likes them for hiking, we like them. They're pricy, but they will fit 2 summers, maybe three, putting them into a more normal kid pants price range. If she wasn't so bothered by grass, we'd have stuck with normal nylon pants and shorts, but the trading them on and off was getting too much. So, not for everybody. But if you want zip-off kid pants, these are a good choice.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Lee’s Maplewood Thai-Ish Dinner

This is a tasty Thai-inspired meal that Lee made up.

Beautiful, Tasty, and Healthy


1 bag of coleslaw mix
1 package noodles  (whatever dry Asian style you prefer. These were cellophane rice noodles.  Next time I will probably use a thicker rice noodle)

1tbs soy sauce
1tbs peanut butter
2tbs rice vinegar
1/2 tbs dark sesame oil
1/4 tsp sriracha
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp garlic

sesame seeds

At Home: 

Dehydrate the coleslaw mix – it gets really small.

Pre-break the noodles into bite-sized pieces (shorter than the shortest dimension of your bag). The noodles are needle-sharp and will poke holes in the bag very easily.

Mix the sauce and put in a container of your choice. We used a squeeze tube, which worked nicely.

Containerize the toppings – we twisted them into a bit of plastic wrap.

 Put everything into a freezer Ziplock-type bag, and write how much water you’ll need (based on the noodle packaging).

 Lee Food/Birch Food
 In Camp:

 Remove the sauce and topping containers.

Noodles and Dehydrated

Add sauce to bag (with coleslaw and noodles)

 Adding the Sauce

Add water. Mix, mix, mix.

 Mixing in the hot water

 If you poked holes all over your bag, transfer everything to bowl before too much drips out.

Garnish with toppings.


This was very yummy.  Pretty spicy, adjust the seasonings to your taste. Dehydrated cabbage stays crunchy when it's rehydrated, which is a nice change.