In, Through, On and Under – Outdoor Babies in Snow

By the middle of December we had a really nice amount of snow.  There was enough snow in the yard that we were able to create some hills to climb and pathways to explore.

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Some of the babies were not sure this was a good thing.  Boots and snowsuits limit mobility even on a flat surface. I kept a section of the deck clear of snow so the little ones could practice and build their confidence before they tackled the hills and deep snow.

The older children are already trail blazers – eagerly marking the path through all the fresh snow in the garden;

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Still, some days the little ones just quit.  They lie on the deck and wait until it is time to go in.  I try to persuade them that they’d be warmer if they moved around like the others.  Some of them cannot manage to climb the stairs to the door.  Others scramble quickly to the top – proving to me that their outerwear doesn’t slow them down if they have enough incentive to move.

My husband looks at me as I bring the troupe back inside.  ‘Why do you even bother?  It takes so long to get them dressed and you’re only out for such a short time’. I answer, ‘The same reason I keep giving them vegetables at lunch – it is good for them even if they are a little reluctant to try it.’

Last winter my older group enjoyed hunting for coloured ice cube ‘gems’. This year I decided to go bigger.  There were squeals of delight when the babies first saw the bricks of coloured ice.  Everyone scrambled up on the snow hill to investigate.

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The little ones are not interested in hide and seek games with the coloured ice bricks.  Instead they like to collect any ‘strays’ and pile them together with the others.  Each day when new bricks are made I put them in areas of the yard that are slightly beyond the babies’ comfort zone.  Once they’ve been collected and stacked with the rest of the bricks the babies are done for the day.

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It’s a start.  They now have a purpose to venture out into the snow and it is something they enjoy.  Hopefully they will not be deterred when they return next week and see all the new snow that has accumulated in the yard.  Our new task will be to search for the lost city of ice…

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Traditions & Giving

There’s just one more week until Christmas.  It’s not my favourite holiday – I find the overindulgence to be off putting.  Yes, there are some traditions that I enjoy but I’m more of a ‘if you want to’ as opposed to ‘you must do this’ type of person.

Traditions – the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice – are often viewed as requirements.  When it becomes compulsory to participate the enjoyment is sometimes lost.

Personally I love Christmas music and I would enjoy listening to it all year round but I don’t (when other people are around) because I respect that not everyone wants to.  I also enjoy some aspects of Christmas decorations but I prefer ‘simple’ over ‘extravagant’.

Every year my step-grandmother used to make Christmas tree ornaments for each of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  I have many more ornaments than I could ever use on any tree even if I did put one up especially for the Christmas season.  I do use some of these ornaments to decorate the tree in the nature area.

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My mother briefly continued this tradition with my own children but many of these ornaments were very fragile and didn’t often get displayed.  Last week I found this unconventional tree at Ikea and thought it was perfect for these ornaments. Yes, I continued to defy tradition and hung this ‘tree’ from the ceiling – because I have toddlers, cats, and no extra floor/table space.

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This year I am including a Christmas decoration in the gift bags that I will give to the children.  I plan on doing this every year from now on.  This year I purchased the ornaments but in the future I hope to make some.  I also wanted to have some type of free play Christmas activity available for the children so I placed these little gift bags on the shelf.

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I gave no directions, I just waited and watched.  Of course the infants’ favourite thing to do is fill the bags with various items – they’ll do this with any container.

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The older children immediately chose to ‘go shopping’.

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There were some sorting games where they tried to place specific coloured items in the bags. They also used the bags for ‘hide & seek’ and guessing games.  It took a couple days but eventually they began to exchange ‘gifts’.

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I love it when giving is a choice not a obligation.

Cold

I’ve had a weather station in my yard for the last eight years.  This has allowed me to get a more accurate idea of the actual weather conditions before we head outside.  Windchill factors in my sheltered yard are considerably different from those reported at the airport or the Forks.

Last month my weather station ceased to transmit data and replacing the batteries didn’t solve the problem.  So, I was very excited to find a new weather station at Costco.  It has even more features than my old one did.  You can read more about it here.

With or without a backyard weather station our recent weather conditions would be described as ‘unseasonably cold’.  We have not been spending much time however the temperature has not been the main reason for our limited outdoor time.

With four infants/toddlers I need allow a minimum of one full hour of time to get everyone dressed, outside, and back in.  Even then some days that ‘hour’ is really only 10 minutes of actual ‘play’.  Between arrival’s, departures, meals and naps there are rarely any time periods long enough to accomplish any more than 30 minutes of outdoor play even when they don’t argue about getting dressed.

Outdoor play is still a very new experience for this group and so far they are not so sure that the fun factor is worth the effort to get dressed. It would have been easier if we had a more gradual decent into cold winter weather.  Hopefully we will soon have some milder days when we can acutally enjoy spending some time playing in the wonderful mountains of snow that have accumulated in the yard.

There is another interesting ‘cold’ result.  Last month I wrote about how I rearranged the playroom.   In the old arrangement the ‘refrigerator’ had been located on an interior wall but it is now located on the exterior wall.

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The walls in my 100 year old house don’t have a lot of insulation and when the refrigerator doors are closed  that section of the wall doesn’t get much warm air from the room.  Consequently, as one of the children recently pointed out, when you first open the refrigerator doors the items inside are actually cold.

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I didn’t even plan for that – it’s just one of the benefits of our Manitoba climate 🙂