Getting Ready to Go Outside in 20 Easy Steps

It gets cold where we live. Recently we had a 20 degree day that felt downright balmy (and yesterday’s high of 40 degrees was practically tropical!). However, I strongly believe in the benefits of fresh air on a daily basis, so I’ve been dragging the girls outside despite the frigid temps. Layers are our friends around here.

After a couple of months of bundling the girls up, I feel confident that you too can get your kids outside in just 20 “simple” steps!

  1. The preschooler sits on the potty and the toddler gets a diaper change (you don’t want to hear “I have to go pee!” at the end of this process!).
  2. I put on long underwear, the preschooler is sent to put on an extra pair of pants and socks. I put an extra pair of leggings and socks on the toddler.
  3. Find the preschooler sitting in her room. Remind her that she was supposed to be getting pants and socks on.
  4.  Answer “Why?” question.
  5. Gather snowpants, coats, mittens, hats, and scarves.
  6. Tell the preschooler that she has to put on her snowpants before putting on her boots and yes, she must wear her snow boots and not her sandals.
  7. Find the toddler who has now wandered away with one of her sister’s mittens. Wrestle her into her snowpants.
  8. Remind the preschooler that she was supposed to be putting on her snowpants and not her coat.
  9. Answer 5 “Why?” questions from the preschooler.
  10. Put on my own snowpants.
  11. Find the toddler who has wandered off with her sister’s boot and put on her scarf and hat.
  12. Tell the preschooler to put on her scarf before her mittens.
  13. Answer “Why?” question. Answer “Why?” question again.
  14. Help preschooler put on her mittens, coat, and hat.
  15. Find toddler to make sure she isn’t in grave peril.
  16. Help preschooler put on her boots. Send her into the garage so she doesn’t collapse from heat exhaustion before her sister and I are ready to go outside.
  17. Find toddler again and stuff her into her coat. Shove her mittens on her hands and boots on her feet.
  18. Try to find toddler’s hat as she howls at the injustice of having to wear snowgear. Put hat on toddler and watch her collapse from my cruelty.
  19. Finish putting on my scarf, hat, coat, gloves, and boots.
  20. Pick up toddler and join preschooler in the garage. Release the girls outside and hope we are outside longer than it took us to get ready.

For the record, I’m usually exhausted by the time I go outside. The silver lining is that first spring-like day is going to feel magical!*

*Really, this insane mission of taking littles outside in all weather is to create hardy kids. Fresh air is good for us, fresh air is good for us, fresh air is good for us. . .


Leaves, Leaves, Everywhere

Growing up, my parents’ property didn’t have many trees. We had a few small, sickly apple and pear trees in the backyard and a couple of young oak trees in the front yard. We planted more trees on our property throughout my childhood, but most of them were pine trees. Consequently, we never had to rake leaves in the fall.

We had several trees in our yard on vicarage (after all, we lived in the Big Woods), we weren’t responsible for raking leaves. Our old farmhouse yard only had a couple of pine trees. Leaf raking wasn’t something I had much experience with before we moved here. We didn’t even own a rake! However, our parsonage has trees galore–5 by my count. And these aren’t itty-bitty trees. They’re HUGE.


            Just one of our 5 trees.

Consequently, last September I bought a rake so we could take care of our yard. Then Babykins arrived and threw our lives into such chaos that my husband and I never got around to raking leaves. I’m not sure what happened to them because we actually raked leaves this fall and there was an overwhelming amount. I can’t tell you the how many bags we took to the dump pile outside of town, but my husband took several carloads each time we raked.

The more leaves we raked, the more mortified I became that we did absolutely no raking last fall. I’m terribly sorry, neighbors, that all of our leaves blew into your yards last year. Can I play the “We Just Had a Baby” card?


Winter Clothing

Ladies and gentlemen, you may not have realized this, but in the Midwest we have the winter season.  With the winter season comes freezing temperatures, blustery winds, and even snow.  Winter comes every year, so obviously it should take us by surprise.  I think we should all be flabbergasted when it snows in December.  “What, it snows?!  Since when?  It didn’t do this in June!”  Same with freezing temps.  “Since when does it dip below 20 degrees?  Just 4 months ago it was 90 degrees!”

Since we obviously can’t remember what happens in winter, it’s no surprise that many of us can’t remember what to wear when the frigid winds blow.  But have no fear, I have taken the time to illustrate how to properly dress for the cold.

1.  Coat

coatYour winter coat should be warm (which would seem obvious, but you’d be surprised what people try to pass off as winter coats).  It should close tightly and should zip or button up to your neck.  Also, it should be long enough to cover at least part of your rear–unless you like having a cold butt.

2.  Mittens or gloves

mittensMittens and gloves stop your hands from getting that tingly feeling when your hands get too cold.  Mittens are actually a better choice for warmth, but gloves make for easier mobility.  You should own at least one pair of waterproof mittens or gloves.  NEVER buy gloves for young children, especially if you send them to daycare or preschool–getting their tiny fingers into the tiny fingerholes is a nightmare.

3.  Hat

hatA hat keeps your head and ears warm.  What about earmuffs and headbands, you ask?  They don’t count.  Not only does a hat keep your head warm, it also keeps body heat from leaving.  And I know that hats give you hat hair, but deal with it.  It’s winter–you can either be fashionable or warm.

4.  Boots

bootsA good pair of snow boots keep your feet warm and dry during the coldest and snowiest days.  Snow boots should be at least water resistant, if not waterproof.  Ugg boots do not meet this standard.  Likewise, they should have a good tread so you don’t loose your footing on ice.  I learned this the hard way.

5.  Scarf 

scarfA properly worn winter scarf (none of this decorative scarf made of thin materials nonsense) will keep your neck and lower half of your face warm.  Scarves are pretty much guaranteed to make you look ridiculous, so you might as well have fun while wearing one.  For the Doctor Who fan, you can always go with the Tom Baker look-alike scarf  (a bit pricey for my taste, but some people enjoy this sort of thing).  Today at church, I saw two little boys with scarves in the shape of snakes.  Personally, I went with the ninja look in college–black coat, black hat, black scarf.  Hiii-ya!

When you combine all of these pieces together, you’ll look something like this:

full outfit

Additional accouterments include long underwear and snowpants.

 Will you look like an idiot?  Yes.  Will you actually be an idiot?  No, because you’ll be dressed warmly while those “cool” looking people will actually just be cold.

Oh, and never, under any circumstances, should you go out in winter like this:

bad idea

I don’t care if all the other college girls at the bar are dressed like this, your Ugg boots are not going to keep your entire body warm if you pass out in an alleyway.

Marauding Squirrels

Up here in the north, squirrels are a constant presence.  For the most part, I enjoy watching them scamper on the ground and scrambling up trees.  It gives me something to watch when I stare out the window.


My husband isn’t particularly fond of squirrels; he thinks they are filthy rodents with crazed eyes.  I always tease him about his judgement on squirrels and insist he is being over dramatic.  Or, I did until we came across some insane squirrels when hiking at a state park the other day.

It started innocently enough:  we were following the trail when we came to a narrow stretch about 50 meters long.  I could hear four squirrels scrambling down a tree at the end of the path.  Suddenly, the squirrels started squeaking loudly.  Next thing I know, they are barreling down the tree trunk and charging down the path. . . Right. . . towards. . . us!

squirel attack

Clearly these squirrels were deranged and were going to attack us and possibly plunder our bodies (plundering us for what, I don’t know.  I mean, they’re squirrels–I couldn’t exactly ask them).  As they continued charging down the path, I frantically tried thinking of an exit plan.  The path was too narrow to just let them pass.  We couldn’t possibly climb the bluffs without risking breaking our necks.  The squirrels were still coming closer, closer, closer and I started turning around to run away.

Suddenly, the four squirrels veered off the path and scrambled up another tree as they chased one another, still squeaking.  As we passed the tree that they had climbed, it became apparent to me that they weren’t marauding squirrels, they were mating squirrels.