Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Weekend Romps: Snow Games

Just because there's snow in the backyard, doesn't mean you can't use it. My kids definitely get a little stir-crazy in the winter. Here are some fun backyard games to play in the snow.

  • Snowman Wars -- This is a combo of steal the flag, and a snowball fight. Each team builds a snowman and the object of the game is to steal the hat off the other team's snowman. If you get hit by a snowball you're in jail.
  • Natural Bridges -- Pack snow into snow arches (you may need to use some water to melt out the middle). Roll or kick a ball through the arches for a variation on croquet. If the arches are big enough kids can crawl through for a snow obstacle course.
  • Tug the Scarf -- Just like tug the rope, but with a scarf and a softer landing. With your boots stomp a shallow trench in the snow. Divide into two teams and pull on the scarf. One team tries to pull the other over the trench.
  • Abominable Snowman tracker -- Give one kid a headstart, then the other kids try to track him. The first one to find the Abominable Snowman is the next one to hide.

Provide some hot chocolate and maybe a space heater on the patio and let your kids enjoy the fresh crisp air.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


In sports when a player isn't working, the coach takes him out. We need to do the same thing in our lives. In the book "Switch" I read about a nutritional experiment where families where asked to change one thing in their diets. They were asked to buy skim milk instead of whole milk. That one switch made a big difference. Participants lost weight. Most often, after we've made one healthy switch in our lives, we'll go on to make others. Making healthy substitutions one at a time makes change seem less formidable.

I made the switch to skim milk. It's now just become habit and I never think of buying anything else anymore. Now I've moved on. Bye-Bye white bread. It's nothing but whole grain now.

You can make other healthy substitutions in your day as well. Start taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk or ride with your kids to school.

So pick one thing today you can substitute with something healthier. Once that's become a habit, move on to something else.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Cross Country 101

Cross Country Skiing is a sport the whole family can enjoy and spring is the perfect time to go. There is still plenty of snow in the mountains, but the trails are less crowded and the weather is usually good.
 Anyone can cross country ski. I've seen three year-olds and ninety year-olds on the slope. And it's never too late to be a beginner. When my daughter and I went for the first time last year, she caught on much faster than I did. My biggest problem was stopping without falling. She lapped me on the loop we were skiing. I did catch on eventually though. You can teach an old mom new tricks!
 There are resorts with groomed cross country trails, there are also groomed trails in many national forests. Some public golf courses also allow cross-country skiing in the winter.
 The basic things to remember are keep your knees and ankles bent and keep your weight forward. Stop using the snowplow or pizza method, just don't get your skiis crossed. When you fall down, which for me is inevitable, turn your skis so you’re sideways to the slope, kneel on your skis and using your hands on your thighs stand up one knee first, and then the other.
 To turn yourself on cross-country skis, move each ski a little at a time toward the direction you want to go. You’ll make a “star pattern” in the snow.
 Going forward on cross country skis is the easy part. The boot heel is not attached to the ski, so basically you’re just half step, half sliding forward.
 Cross country skiing is a great activity for kids. It gets them outside enjoying nature, its good exercise, and something the whole family can enjoy.