Friday, March 16, 2012

Fly a Kite

 When I think March, I always think kites. Where I live, March is one of the windiest times of the year. Kite flying is a good spring activity. I get spring fever and am itching to get outdoors, but there's still too much snow in the mountains for hiking or picnicking. It's warming up in the valley's though and getting out and flying kites with the kids is a lot of fun.
 You don't have to buy a fancy kite. The cheap big box store ones will work just fine. It's really about finding a good spot and knowing a few tricks. We have a couple of nice kites, but we also buy the kids cheap ones to crash and get stuck in trees.
 The first thing to do is find a good place to fly. A local park, school yard, or baseball or soccer fields will usually meet the requirements. You want a flat open field. The further away you are from buildings and trees the better. You'll get a smoother wind. Hilly places can also have choppy winds. Beaches are generally the best places to fly kites, but we don't all have the luxury of beach living. has a list of great places to fly a kite by state.
 You need to have the right winds to fly your kite. The amount of wind you need can vary by the shape and size of your kite. Newer, lighter kite materials mean less wind is needed. A good rule of thumb is if your kite starts looping and diving uncontrollably, there's too much wind -- if you can't get your kite up, there's not enough wind. The more times you get out and fly your kite, you'll start to be able to recognize when the wind is perfect for you. Keep your kite in the car so you can fly on the fly.
 Running with your kite is not the best way to get it up in the air. In fact, it's the hardest way. The easiest way to get your kite in the air is to fly with a friend. One person holds the kite about 80 feet downwind and lets go when it catches the wind. The person holding the string gives the string a tug when the kite is let go. If you're flying by yourself, stand with your back to the wind and hold up your kite. When it catches a gust let it go and release line slowly as it climbs.
 Some fun variations on plain old kites are line laundry and line climbers. Line laundry is colorful streamers or other fun things attached to the line that wave in the wind. Line climbers are shuttles designed to move up and down the kite line.
 So give in to your spring fever and make the most of the wind. Go fly a kite!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Make it a Habit

I've talked before about switching healthy food for unhealthy ones. We also need to replace sedintary habits with active ones.

We are creatures of habit. When my first child was born I stopped working outside the home. Even though I no longer had a "schedule" I found myself naturally settling into patterns. I ate at the same time, cleaned at the same time, wrote at the same time, and put my daughter down for a nap and watched tv at the same time. Unless I went to visit a friend, it was pretty much the same everyday.

Once we create a healthy habit, doing it requires little effort. It's almost automatic. Here are some healthy habits that can get your family moving.

  • Instead of coming straight home from school, have your children play for 20 min on the playground or stop at the park on the way home. If they're bussed send them straight to the yard after their snack.
  • End running errands with a stop at the park.
  • Take walk after dinner instead of turning on the tv
  • Do somthing outdoors or active as a family every weekend. 
  • Sign up for a class. (pay for help in developing a habit)
  • Make it a habit to go outside with your kids when they go out to play. You can sit and read, sunbathe, or do some gardening. Even if you're not playing with them, your presence tells them this is the best place to be.