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Throw the Kids out of the House

Throw the Kids out of the House

According to a report on Fox & Friends on March 29, 2019, kids are having more surgeries for sports injuries than professionally athletes.

Why – because we aren’t throwing them out of the house.

Okay, maybe that wasn’t what they said. But it was close.

Kids aren’t free playing anymore. The aggressive sports players do get out and practice, but that’s not the same. Attending exercise classes or working out at the gym is not the same. Free play gets the kids out of the house and into their imagination, their group engagement, and activities that don’t happen any other way.

My sons have always been free-ranged. It’s a little easier for us, because we live in the back corner of 40 acres and neighbors don’t see the free-ranging for the most part. Living in town, neighbors that don’t know you, complete strangers that have never met you, and even family members that just don’t like you want to get into your business are all watching and waiting to pounce on your lack of parenting skills.

But we live in the woods, so in the woods they go.

One day, the older boys (probably 8 and 10 at the time) came in and told me there was nothing to do. I encouraged them to go dig a hole. Later that day, they came in and asked if they could dig a tunnel from the shed to the creek.

“Absolutely,” I replied without hesitation. Not because I wanted a tunnel from the shed to the creek, although it might be cool. I was quick to respond because I understanding of how much would have to go into a tunnel.

To their credit, they did manage to dig a hole about five feet deep and four feet wide. Years later my youngest son would continue their efforts, but the giant rock that stopped his brothers also put a damper on his tunnel plans.

Did I tell them they were exercising? Nope. Did I mention they were working their joints? Of course not. Did I explain to them the value of getting the natural D from the sun? I bet you know that answer by now.

It’s not as easy with my youngest. His brothers are off at college or work. They don’t have time for playing or hanging out with their brother. I’ve started encouraging him to get out with me to build, to dig in the garden, or to burn (boys LOVE to burn).

Together, we dug a fire pit in the back yard, so now I’m more comfortable with him going out to build a fire without supervision. He’s a Boy Scout and has his firem’n chit (which means he’s supposed to be responsible), so that’s another reason to let him go.

Over the last several days, I have been pushing him more and more to get out. It’s spring break, the sun has been shining, and he needs to have less screen time. So do I. And in encouraging my son to free play and enjoy all that is around us, I have been encouraging me as well to get out and do more.

So encourage your children to free play more, even if they are involved in structured sports. And try to make some time to join them. Free play – it’ll do your heart good (and don’t forget your own rubber boots)!

The Mom

It’s Okay to Do Things a Little Different

It’s Okay to Do Things a Little Different

I give you permission to do things a little different – a little different from the way you do them, a little different from the way others do them, or a little different from the directions. When you dare to try new things, you never know what you might discover.

While cleaning out some of the final boxes of items from storage, I found my mom’s spiced tea infuser – at least that’s what I remember her using it for when I was growing up. It was always exciting for me to see the container come out because I knew the treat that would be around the corner.

I love sipping on warm drinks while I write. Coffee is great for the early mornings, but when my husband gets up and the pot is empty then he begins to worry. I don’t worry . . . although I do hit a speed of going that often ends up in a collision.

Coffee all day will make me nauseous no matter how good the coffee.

An alternative became a necessity if I was going to work beyond lunch (and it turns out I’m supposed to do that).

Brewing one cup of tea at a time was not an option. I want to take a break, walk into the kitchen, and refresh my cup without an hassle. I tried brewing a pot of hot tea after the coffee ran out, but I forgot to tell my husband. It turns out if you are expecting coffee and get tea, it’s a shock to the system.

We received a second coffee maker from a family member. It was white. It was perfect. I know could brew tea to my heart’s content.

I then found my mom’s infuser and everything changed. The tea bags I had were quickly put to work and it was time to find a better way to brew the tea.

Did you know they make loose leaf teas? I didn’t. I found a new world of flavors when I discovered these wonderful delights.

Recently, I ordered two blends from Tiesta (through Amazon) and the Blueberry Wild Child Blueberry Hibiscus Fruit Tea – which is a lot of words for WOW!

The first time I brewed a pot, I used about a half a cup of blend. I put the infuser in the pot and then ran the water through the coffee maker and let the hot water steep with the tea. The result was a dark purple – almost black – liquid with magical properties. I drank a few cups, added some more water to the pot and brewed some more.

It was still thick and when I finished the pot I left the infuser to brew a second pot the next day.

Today I used only ¼ of a cup and it was the perfect amount.

How I Do It Different

  • Add a little hot tea to the sweet tea for a tasty blend.
  • Add a little cayenne pepper when you are feeling rough. It’s a great healer.
  • Change it up. Follow the directions the first time (if you must) but be willing to change it up until you find the perfect level of flavor for you.
  • Mix it up. You can blend blends with blends to blend the perfect blend for you need. You can also add spices to existing blends.

If you have been trying to find a good alternative to coffee then I recommend checking out the different flavors from Tiesta.

The Mom

Keep it Simple When Planning Family Meals

Keep it Simple When Planning Family Meals

We have been on the go – not that we have ever not been on the go. We are down to one family car in a car of four drivers and that requires a LOT of going.

For years, I would sit down on Saturday or Sunday and map out the menu for the upcoming week. There were times when I would get very optimistic and plan out a whole month. The month menus hit snags when I forgot to get certain items from the store. The week menu hit snags when I got caught up in work and forgot to start a meal.

EVERYTHING hit a snag when we started this new “Go Schedule.” It is tough to follow a menu when you are not even in the house.

I came up with a template for meals – one that would make use of all the food groups, the leftovers, and the convenience food (like cereal or bagels).

There are several options for each of the main entrees in the pantry or in the freezer. Breaking down the entrees into this template means that we have no main course more than twice a week (except for leftovers). Any leftovers not utilized by Saturday night gets sorted into individual portions and frozen for future conveniences needs.

There are still days when it life gets in the way or the going keeps going and the menu is ignored, but those days are fewer than ever before.

[tweetthis]Keep meals on the table for your family even during chaotic times by keeping it simple[/tweetthis]

Keep it simple – it is not just a great idea for life but it turns out it was the perfect solution for getting my family fed.

What meal time tricks do you use? Share your thoughts in the comments below and be sure to link to your own meal time struggles or ideas.

Download the Simple Template by clicking HERE

Letterboxing in the Gulf State Park

Letterboxing in the Gulf State Park

The Gulf Coast holds many secrets that a family ready for adventure can discover. We set out on a mission to uncover one such secret. The thrill of breaking down clues and finding treasure never gets old for The TraveLangs.

We were first introduced to letter boxing almost a decade back, although our interest has peaked and faded over the years. My newest middle school book, Mystery Rock, ignited our interests once again (partly because we get to plant our own letterboxes in association with the book).

When you picture letterboxing, think about treasure maps. Some of the maps might have complex clues – almost riddles – that you have to decode. Some of the maps may have simple steps you have to take (like go to the “Y” and take ten steps to the left). Some of the maps may have rhymes for the hints. The best part of letterboxing for us is that you have to decipher the map to find the treasure.

What is the treasure? Most letter boxes include a custom stamp that you get to stamp into your notebook. Some letterboxes include pre-stamped post cards that you can fill out and mail in when you find the letterbox. Some letterboxes will include a log book that you can stamp with your own letterboxing stamp.

We carved our own stamps back when we first started letterboxing. The boys were all much younger, and it shows in the results. Pulling out those older stamps made us all realize that it is probably time to tackle the personalized stamps again.

The Gulf State Park only revealed one letterbox, which came as a surprise. I get that there are storms in the area that might make it difficult to maintain boxes for some folks. There are so many amazing sites in the area that I feel the need to go down and plant dozens to give letterboxes around the globe a great destination.

The one box that we did find proved to be a challenge for us all. I lived down in Gulf Shores MANY years ago, so that helped us figure out the starting point for the map. Even with my insider information, it still took us several tries before we found the treasure. My middle son braved the stash, knocked away a black widow, and we were free to enjoy the delightful stamp left behind.

We hid the box back in the space and went in search of a second treasure that was listed as hidden nearby. We tried several different starting points, but none of them panned out. Since the last recorded connection to the box was 2011, I believe that it has long since been lost to the sea.

Even with just the one letterbox find, it was a fun addition to our Gulf State Park tour. We look forward to adding our Mystery Rock letterbox to the area, and potential adding many more letterboxes in the months ahead.