April 10, 2014

Throw Back Thursday!

 It is Throw Back Thursday!  It seems I am a bit late to this game (as usual), but a Facebook Trend has people posting old pictures on Thursday.  I fortuitously ran across a folder with old Skedaddle pictures this very morning.  I spent way too long looking through and remembering!  Most of these early friends have moved away, but they were such an important part of starting skedaddle and making it such a great group.

April 1, 2014

Sitka Street in the SUN!

 We had a large showing at Sitka Street Park this morning.  I had planned on a last sledding outing, but as you can see from the pictures why that didn't happen.  We did find a little sledding run on the side, but it ended on an ice rink of sorts.
 The children had a great time rolling down the hill and slipping and sliding on the ice.
 This picture epitomizes amazing outdoor mamas.  She pulled her children over in a sled while wearing snowshoes.  I love the people in this group!
These kiddos used the play equipment as a fort.  I love how the children rarely use the playground equipment as they were intended.

Main Topics of Conversation That I Overheard (Yes, I do eavesdrop at times!)
1.  How to handle potty talk by children.  (Mixed answers, with no one having a perfect answer)
2.  Waiting on the school lottery results.  In Alaska, you have to put your name into a 'lottery' for the alternative or charter schools.  Families should know where they are on the lists by Friday.  Good Luck everyone!
3.  Should you buy a child new winter clothes right now if they are growing out of their current gear?

March 20, 2014

Spring HIke at Beach Lake

 The skies were an amazing color of blue, but the temperature gauge said 14 degrees.  Urg.  I dug out the long johns, substituted mittens for gloves and forced my son to wear the warmer boots I had stashed as it was spring (officially at 8:57 a.m. here in Alaska).

 I am so glad that I went on the hike at Beach Lake today!  The sun started to warm us, we made it to the inlet to see the ice bergs, Denali was beautiful and we had a great picnic.  Some of the kids started out on skis, though only one used them the whole time.
 There are walking paths, ski tracks and animal prints all across the lake.  If you aim for a little break in the trees in a direct path you can reach the inlet easily.
 You do have to pass over a trail.  I love signs like this that remind me I really live in Alaska.  We did see one team mushing and were far from the trail at that point thankfully.  Those teams go so fast!
 If you pass mushing sign and turn towards the inlet just before the dip in the trail you can get to the inlet.  We instead went up the trail after the dip and took a left that took us to this sign.  It is a good reminder about the dangers of the mud flats or ice flats right now.  There was an amazing hill to the left of this cross that the kids slide down - it is a bit of a luge run, but there were no injuries.  Whew.
 It was gorgeous out near the inlet.  The water was flowing, but the ice was staying put.  While the adults marveled at the beauty and took some pictures of the mountains to send to people not lucky enough to live in Alaska, the kids climbed the hill and slid down repeatedly.
 We hiked a short way back to the lake and had a little picnic.  We shared animal crackers, slurped apple sauce and talked.  The sun actually felt warm and adults pulled off their coats and the kids ate snow without gloves.
 Unfortunately, we had to start hiking back to reality.  It was just a magical day with sparkling snow, happy hiking children and wonderful adult company.  It only takes about 30 minutes from East Anchorage and it is well worth the drive to be in such an amazing location!

March 18, 2014

Spring at Westchester!

 The sun felt so warm this morning!  Spring official begins on Thursday and in Alaska that means breakup is right around the corner (or a few corners...).  Slush flows down the streets and parents have to make the decision between warm layers under rain clothes or light layers under snow clothes (that will inevitably get soaked).
 We had a great mix of young ones just learning the ways of the playground ("Mine!") and older children playing together. The slide was a big hit with all ages (though no parents seemed to be able to manage it!).
The children eventually moved from the playground to the circuit training area (posters from 1980 and a bit comical).  I loved watching the children 'do their own thing' - making up exercises and games.  They all had amazing balance and jumping abilities.  
My favorite part of this playground (it used to be the swings that have been taken down due to vandalism per rumors) is this structure near the bog.  It is perfect for imaginary play with endless ideas.  Two children were each using it as a different 'thing' at the same time.  Fabulous!

Major Topics:

1.  Giving birth
2.  Children not wearing mittens or coats and receiving the harsh judgement from other parents.
3.  Training for runs or triathlons as a parent - logistically difficult to say the least.
4.  Clingy versus adventurous siblings

February 25, 2014

16 boys and 3 girls!

Climbing on the net at Campbell Creek Park today - about 18 degrees
 When I started skedaddle, boys were the minority.  The ratio has dramatically shifted to the point where we had 16 boys and 3 girls today at skedaddle.  Can you imagine having 16 boys with the average age of 4 running inside your house?  It is amazing that with all of those little kiddos there was only a squabble or two.  They played together on the web, leaping off of the wobbly bridge and a strange game involving getting points by having someone on the slide run into them.
The construction workers getting some remedial instruction in sharing
The children also did an amazing job playing together with the construction toys.  There were not enough for everyone and they did some sharing, trading and creative playing.  If only parents going crazy with their children climbing the walls inside would venture outside!

Main Topics of Conversation Today
1.  Lack of children's mittens that both keep fingers warm and allow movement.
2.  A wonderment about activities for young children and school age, but few for the pre-k set.
3.  A discussion if Skedaddle is more beneficial for the child or the parent.

February 18, 2014

10 Family Friendly Rondy Events

When I was young (center), Rondy had a Hot Air Balloon Event!

It is Fur Rondezvous time again in Anchorage.  I really love this time of year!  While there are great events for adults such as the Jim Beam Jam and the Miners and Trappers Charity Ball, most of the offerings are great for all ages!  This is such a great way to celebrate being Alaskan and have fun in the middle of winter.  You can find the Official Rondy Guide around town (red cover with a bear and reindeer).

10 Family Friendly Rondy Events
(in calendar order and purposely omitting the Carnival as I try to avoid that at all costs)

A stool is nice to help little ones see the train action and save adult arm muscles

1.  Great Train Show (9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Train Depot) - The building is filled with train tracks and model trains running through wonderful miniature worlds.  All ages seem to enjoy this from babies in carriers to school age children (and their parents!).  I suggest brining a small stool for young children so you don't have to lift them up every two seconds.  This event doesn't take a very long time, so I suggest you combine it with the ice sculptures just down the street or the Big Air demonstration in the evening.

One of my many mushing pictures - I love those dogs!

2.  Rondy World Championship Sled Dog Races (Friday at noon, runs three days, start at 4th and D)
This is my favorite event.  I have tons of pictures taken with my disc camera as a child of dog after dog.  You can go to the start downtown and see the mushers harnessing up their team (and even get to chat with the mushers sometimes) or take a place down the trail.  I like to watch them  at Campbell Airstrip, near the Native Hospital they cross Tudor on the bridge and then near Goose Lake as well.  I suggest brining a chair, a sled, shovels (to amuse the children between mushers), food and warm clothing.  Older children might enjoy a print out of the mushers - they can look at the mushers' bib number, tell you their name and count the number of their dogs.

3.  CANstruction (at the University Center during mall hours)
Different groups build sculptures out of canned food.  The theme this year is "Once Upon a Time" and should be great for children.  You can bring a canned food item to 'vote' for your favorite entry.  This doesn't take a long time to enjoy so you can grab a snack at Peprocini's deli or the Natural Pantry.

4.  Frostbite Footrace (Feb. 22, 9:30, 5th Ave skywalk and the Egan Center)
This is fun for the children to watch.  People dress up in great costumes and run through the streets of downtown.  I suggest setting up camp at Town Square so the children can look at the costumes and play in the snow.  Even better, grab a costume and join the fun for the 2.5K.  This is far from competitive and tons of fun!  The parade follows.

Star the famous reindeer

5.  Rondy Grand Parade (Feb. 22 10:30, 5th and 6th Ave.)
This parade is truly a hometownAlaskan parade.  Dress warmer than usual as there is always a breeze downtown making it colder than expected.  There are old cars, lots of furs, waving royalty and Star the reindeer usual makes an appearance. If the kiddos get cold, head over to Midnight Sun Cafe (245 W 5th) as they have free hot cocoa for children under 12.

6.  Big Air Snowboarding Demo (Feb. 22, 5-6 p.m., 2nd ave downhill from the carnival)
While I don't want to encourage my children to do this, it is fun to watch.  Snowboarders head down a huge snow ramp and fly through the air.  It is only an hour and if you head out to the carnival, this might be a good way to pull the kiddos away.
Watching the Rondy fireworks with ear protection

7.  Fireworks Extravaganza (Feb. 22, 6:45 p.m., from the Boat Harbor)
I love the fireworks and so do my children now that I bought them ear protection.  I suggest getting to your 'spot' a bit early as parking can be tight.  Bring the stroller, a blanket and some provisions (my son suggests cookies and hot chocolate).  You can park near the ice sculptures (parking fills here quickly), Government Hill (perhaps Sunset Park might be good, no confirmation on this) and the hill at the end of Mountain View.

A snow sculpture dragon
8.  GCI Snow Sculptures (Feb. 23, 11:00 awards are given, Ship Creek across from Comfort Inn)
Sculpture artists start earlier, but they are completed at this time.  Groups gets huge chunks of snow to transform into amazing creations.  My children love running around them and trying to see if any of them are fish related.  Bring a camera as there are great photo opportunities to send to your relatives in Florida.

9.  Ice Skate Races (Feb. 25, 1-3 p.m., Cuddy Skating Oval)
I have never been to this event, but think it would be quite amusing for the children.  The Rondy program says that there are speedskating, relay races,  kid races, a costume race and bucket race involving pushing another person sitting on a bucket.  The kids can also play at the Park for All if they get bored with the icy antics.

10.  Running of the Reindeer (March 1, 4 pm, 4th and G is the starting line).
This is not exactly the running of the bulls in Spain, but it is rather amusing (and much less dangerous). People dress in costumes for this fundraising race.  I have never seen this 'event', but apparently there are dozens of reindeer and the racers chase after them.  I can't imagine a child not enjoying this strange phenomena.  You can up the ante but entering yourself and having your children cheering you on in this race!

February 11, 2014

Below Zero at Chugach Foothills

It was below zero for our outing at Chugach Foothills Playground.  I thought we would be playing solo, but I was surprised to have three fathers and another mother join us.  The kids never mentioned the cold, but it did seem to come up in the parent's conversations!

If you are not a fan of the cold weather, you might be going stir crazy this last week.   Here are five tips that might make it more bearable.

 -->  Lay out all of the gear long before you want to go outside.  This way, you can corral the kids and get them dressed easier.  I find myself more likely to head out if my living room has everything I need all in nice piles.  I make a pile for each kiddo with boots at the bottom and hat at the top (it looks a bit like a flat child).  

-->  Have fun.  Don't bring your phone (you aren't supposed to use it below 32 degrees anyways - yes, that is considered adverse conditions).  Join the children in their games, lay down in the snow and make an angel and make them chase you around the yard.  It is amazing how much more eager children are to stay outside if you seem to be oblivious to the cold!

This guy is digging in his pack for some hot tea!  
-->  Don't strive for an expedition.  Make it your goal to just go out and have a little fun.  I used to say that I had to stay outside at least as long as it took to get ready.  I threw that out the window after it took a long time to get dressed and it was well below zero.  Now, we just get out the door and see what happens.

-->  Have a purpose.  Set up an obstacle course, make an outdoor kitchen and decorate 'cakes' with leaves, hide treats around the yard or have them chase bubbles and watch them pop in the cold weather. 

-->Have hot cocoa and hot water foot baths waiting inside.  Some of my favorite childhood memories are of my sisters and I sitting in the kitchen, our feet in bowls of warm water warming our hands on mugs of cocoa.  Let's stay out for five more minutes and then we can hot cocoa! 

Have Fun!  It takes time to find out how to best get your kiddo outside!