Cragmama "Not all who wander are lost…" JRR Tolkien

Category Archives: Green Hour Connection

A Green Hour is time for unstructured play and interaction with the natural world. The term was developed by the National Wildlife Federation in 2007. Green Hour Connection posts are weekly tips, ideas, and stories from our family’s Green Hour time experiences.

The Return of Firepit Fridays – and STONZ Booties!

The Return of Firepit Fridays – and STONZ Booties!

Not long after we first  moved to Charlotte, we decided to put a firepit in one of the natural areas of our front yard.  While the back yard might seem like a better spot at first glance, we enjoy having it in the front yard for the “social scene” it creates.  You see, our neighborhood is pretty active in the evenings – joggers, dog-walkers, families with strollers, kids on bikes.  And there’s just something about an open fire that just seems to draw people in!  Sometimes it’s just the 3 of us, but more often than not we end up…Read the rest of this entry →

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An Ode to Digging (aka God Made Dirt, Dirt Don’t Hurt)

An Ode to Digging (aka God Made Dirt, Dirt Don’t Hurt)

If your toddler is anything like mine, a pile of dirt and a mighty machine is a simple formula for hours of entertainment!  Whether it’s dump trucks in the dirt of our (idle) backyard garden, or backhoes and bulldozers at the local beach volleyball court, our household rarely goes a full day without digging SOMETHING!  Even on craggin’ days, C’s backpack is filled with miniature construction vehicles that he uses to build roads, gather leaves and sticks, and pile up pebbles at the base of the cliff while the grown-ups are climbing.   While I’m not sure how similar it…Read the rest of this entry →

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Fall Craft Project: Leaf Placemats (and Window Decor…)

Fall Craft Project: Leaf Placemats (and Window Decor…)

One of my favorite craft mediums from nature has got to be autumn leaves.  They come in a spectacular array of colors, each one unique, and are available for free in unlimited supply!  That’s why in addition to family raking days, we try to do at least one art project with our leaves before they fall down and turn brown.  Last year, one of our projects was making leaf-covered vests at McDowell Nature Preserve.  This year I opted for something a little more decorative that we’d be able to use throughout the season.  But considering that he’s 3 and I’m…Read the rest of this entry →

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The Magic of an Hour in the Woods…

The Magic of an Hour in the Woods…

Lately during the week, we’ve been stuck in a morning rut where all C wants to do is act out scenes from the movie “Cars” in the driveway with his toys.  It’s not that that’s inherently a bad thing.  He’s outside, he’s using his imagination, and he’s having a lot of fun, so I’m certainly not complaining!  And often, it’s actually quite convenient – like when I’m working in the yard, unpacking gear from the previous weekend’s adventures, or even just fixing lunch/dinner.  But when the chores are finished and we have the whole morning ahead of us, all of…Read the rest of this entry →

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Why You Should Compost With Your Kids…

Why You Should Compost With Your Kids…

“The buggies like to eat the icky bananas,” C informs me matter-of-factly as he tosses an overly browned and bruised piece of banana into the little plastic box sitting on our kitchen counter.  When we’re done fixing breakfast, we’ll take the plastic box outside and dump the “icky banana” and the rest of the breakfast leftovers (strawberry caps, eggshells, etc) into the compost bin.  Sometimes we’ll give it a few turns with our firepit poker, and, if it’s going to rain that day, we might leave the lid off. This fall marks one year since our family started composting our…Read the rest of this entry →

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Fall Green Hour Idea: Picnics and Obstacle Courses!

Fall Green Hour Idea: Picnics and Obstacle Courses!

Not sure about your family, but ours got really into American Ninja Warrior this past summer.  Our favorites to watch, of course, were the climbers, and we had a blast jumping up and down for Ben Arnold as he got SO CLOSE to becoming the first American to finish Stage 3.  The show was fun on a very elementary level – I mean, who doesn’t love an obstacle course, right?  Events like the Mud Run, Spartan Race, and Muddy Buddy popping up in major cities all over the country are just more proof.   C was always in bed by…Read the rest of this entry →

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Junior Entomology 101: Cicadas!

Junior Entomology 101: Cicadas!

If you have been reading this blog for a long time (as in, more than 2 years), you may remember that this is not the first post I have written about cicadas.  The crag-kiddo’s first experience with these giant creepy-crawlies came during the first summer we spent in our new home in Charlotte. Last year must have been an “off” year for the cicada, at least for our yard, because their leftover shells were not rampant as they had been the year before.  Lucky for my sweet cicada-loving C however, they were back in full force this year, with even more…Read the rest of this entry →

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Fall Green Hour Ideas: Water Play

Fall Green Hour Ideas: Water Play

September in the Southeast is generally a mixed bag when it comes to weather.  At times the air is that perfectly cool and crisp temperature where anything you want to wear is okay – shorts, pants, t-shirt, hoodie…other times it feels as though summer returns for one last, lingering hurrah of heat and humidity.  Those are the days I hate – after being spoiled with a few cool, crisp days in a row, we get socked with pool weather again…but the pool’s been closed for weeks!!!   But don’t let a closed pool stop you and your kiddo from having…Read the rest of this entry →

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How Parents Can Still Find Time to Mountain Bike…(and a GIVEAWAY!)

How Parents Can Still Find Time to Mountain Bike…(and a GIVEAWAY!)

Of all the recreational pursuits my hubby and I enjoyed pre-kiddo, mountain biking was actually the hardest to get back into consistently, namely because it wasn’t something we could do all together as a family.  Rock climbing was easy, so long as we had an extra person with us.    For running, hiking, and even biking along the greenway, we could simply strap C into the appropriate carrier and adventure away.  But ripping down steep, rooty, technical single-track?  Regardless of what kind of  bike trailer you have, it’s probably not the best situation for a pint-sized person who’s only just…Read the rest of this entry →

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Backyard Wildlife Watching

Backyard Wildlife Watching

You don’t have to travel to some exotic destination to observe interesting wildlife.  Odds are good you can find a ton without ever leaving your backyard!  Squirrels, chipmunks, birds, opossum, and turtles are just a few of the many species of wildlife known to frequent our yard, and while our suburban landscape is far from metropolitan, it certainly couldn’t be mistaken as rural!  Interested in attracting some critters to your yard?  Here’s some ways to encourage some furry friends to take up residence… FINE DINING SELECTIONS – For birds, offer a wide variety of seed and feeder options.  Our family…Read the rest of this entry →

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Five Glories of Gardening…with Kids

Five Glories of Gardening…with Kids

Growing veggies, pulling weeds, digging for earthworms…the garden is a natural springboard for countless backyard adventures.  And the best part about it is that you don’t have to be a farmer or a professional landscaper to do it!  In fact, planting a garden is an activity the entire family can enjoy together.  If you think gardening with the kiddos might be too much work or that your family’s “green thumb” may have skipped a generation, here’s 5 reasons that will hopefully get you motivated to get yourself (and your kids) outside in the dirt this summer! 1.  APPRECIATION OF FOOD…Read the rest of this entry →

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Toddler Bikes and the GOOD Kind of Peer Pressure…

Toddler Bikes and the GOOD Kind of Peer Pressure…

While most of our family’s recreational pursuits tend to revolve around rock climbing, it’s probably also fair to say we’re pretty avid bikers, especially in warm weather.  With that in mind, a balance bike was one of the first things on C’s birthday list when he turned 2.  For those of you that are unfamiliar with balance bikes, the concept is quite simple – just a bike frame and two wheels – no gears, brakes, pedals, or training wheels.  The rider propels the bike forward with his/her feet – at first just standing over the bike and walking, and gradually…Read the rest of this entry →

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Summer Bucket List for Families

Summer Bucket List for Families

School’s out, summer’s in, and it’s time to make some family memories!  Some years we go for one big adventure, and other years we plan for multiple smaller ones.  Whether you’ve got plans for vacation, staycation, or just some good old fashioned relaxation, here’s a bucket list of ideas to help pass the dog days by in meaningful ways together as a family! 1.  GO FISHING – I have a lot of childhood memories of going fishing with my dad at a local pond.  As I recall I did more talking and splashing than fishing, but nevertheless, the time was…Read the rest of this entry →

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Finding Nature (and Ducks!) in Unexpected Places

Finding Nature (and Ducks!) in Unexpected Places

“That Mommy Duck is peeking at me!” C shouted excitedly as he slid over to make room for me and the rest of our food at our table.  It was a Friday night, which of course meant we were at Chick-fila.  Ever since we moved to Charlotte (and actually even before then), our family has had a long-standing tradition of heading to the neighborhood Chick-fila on Friday evenings when we aren’t heading off on a climbing trip for the weekend.  When the weather is nice and the days are long, we walk, usually pulling C in the wagon and waving…Read the rest of this entry →

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5 Ways to Have Fun With Strawberries This Season!

5 Ways to Have Fun With Strawberries This Season!

Strawberry season is without a doubt one of my favorite times of the year.  A bucket overflowing with plump, juicy red strawberries held triumphantly by a toddler with red-stained hands and face is a joyful image indeed!  And now that the season is upon us, I thought it would be fitting to share a few of our family’s favorite strawberry-related activities… PICK YOUR OWN:  Growing up I can remember every year driving to the local farm with my mom, often several nights per week, all throughout the month of May.  We’d pick 4, eat 2, then drop the rest in…Read the rest of this entry →

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15 Simple Ways Your Family Can Go Greener…

15 Simple Ways Your Family Can Go Greener…

In case you didn’t know it, today is EARTH DAY!  Today (and on every April 22nd since 1970), there will be thousands of environmental awareness events going on in communities worldwide.  Schools, libraries, workplaces, and parks will be buzzing with festivals, workshops, and eco-friendly activities geared towards promoting education about environmental issues.  For our family, it’s a good reminder to reevaluate the efforts our family has (or has not) been making to protect the earth for the past year.   Why is the message of environmental stewardship important for families?  On a personal, spiritual level, I believe that one of…Read the rest of this entry →

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448 Great Things To Do in Nature Before You Grow Up

448 Great Things To Do in Nature Before You Grow Up

It’s no secret that we love being outdoors around here.  Spring, summer, winter, fall…we’re out enjoying whatever Mother Nature has to offer throughout the year.  So when authors Stacy Tornio and Ken Keffer asked me to review their newest book in the Falcon Guides series – “The Kids’ Outdoor Adventure Book: 448 Great Things To Do in Nature Before You Grow Up” – I was delighted.  And as soon as I started flipping through the first few pages, I knew that this was a book that would be on our shelves as a reference for many years to come! Divided…Read the rest of this entry →

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Why You Should Let Your Kids Run Around Barefoot…

Why You Should Let Your Kids Run Around Barefoot…

“It’s fluffy Mommy!”, announced C excitedly, as he danced and jumped around in the soft, tickly grass in our backyard.  Those first few barefoot days of spring are priceless – reconnecting us with the earth in the last gasps of winter.  For our family, footwear has always been optional in warm weather.  It’s not like we’re dirty hippies - we wear shoes to church, school, and the grocery store.  But shoes are the first to come off when we arrive back home, both inside and out when the weather is warm.  I’ll be honest, for us it’s always just been a comfort thing – who doesn’t…Read the rest of this entry →

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A Trip to the Zoo!

A Trip to the Zoo!

“I saw an alligator.  He was sleepytime and he did NOT say RAWR!”  Just one of the many snippets of conversation I overheard between my toddler and and a random woman sitting beside us on the tram.  It all started when she asked him if he was having fun at the zoo…she then got a full dissertation on every animal we’d seen so far that day.  I kept my mouth shut and just listened to his renditions of our experience, as his perspective is always fascinating.  He informed her that the baboons had pink-bottoms, the elephants have dirty ears, and that he saw camels…Read the rest of this entry →

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Toddler Science Experiments: Ice Ice Baby!

Toddler Science Experiments:  Ice Ice Baby!

All winter long I’d been wanting to do a science experiment with C involving water turning to ice, but our sub-freezing temps have been few and far between (and for some reason, using the freezer felt like cheating…unless it was July, of course).  But one day last week we finally saw the forecast we’d been waiting for – a low of 22!  We gathered our supplies and headed outside.  Here’s how our experiment worked: 1.  Collect – We walked around the yard with a large muffin tin, picking up nature items off the ground.  We used twigs, pine needles, clover,…Read the rest of this entry →

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When the Weather Gets Wet…Throw on a Rain Jacket!

When the Weather Gets Wet…Throw on a Rain Jacket!

Not sure if anyone else around the country can relate, but North Carolina has been having some really weird weather lately.  I’ve seen lows in the 20′s (accompanied by ice) and high’s in the 70′s (accompanied by heavy winds) in the span of just one week.  C and I decided to take advantage of one of the warmer days last week with a morning hike at Beatty Park.  The forecast had called for rain, but not until the afternoon, so I packed some water and snacks while C took on the arduous task of deciding which bulldozers got to join us on…Read the rest of this entry →

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A North Carolina Snow Day – We Take What We Can Get Around Here…

A North Carolina Snow Day – We Take What We Can Get Around Here…

  Those of you from other, colder, parts of the country may have heard the almost apocalyptic-sounding tales of the events that surround any weather forecast that happens to mention the words “winter precipitation” down here in the South.  As soon as those words are said, families kick it into high gear.  Moms run to the grocery store to buy bread and milk (which is invariably a waste of time because the shelves will be empty within hours of the announcement.)  Dads fire up the generators and dust off the sleds from the attic, and all the children sit anxiously in front of the TV, hoping…Read the rest of this entry →

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Two Happy Hikers on a Simple Adventure

Two Happy Hikers on a Simple Adventure

“I don’t want Daddy to go to work tomorrow,” said a sweet little Cragbaby the Sunday after New Year’s.  He’d grown quite  comfortable with the idea of having Daddy around to play with him all day over the holidays (and to be honest, I had too!)  I knew that the good-bye at breakfast Monday morning had the potential to be kinda rough.  So I decided to plan a fun adventure for just the two of us, hoping that any lingering sadness about Daddy being gone would be counteracted by enthusiasm about our special day.  Since C has had so much fun trekking…Read the rest of this entry →

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5 Homemade Ornament Ideas for Outdoor Trees

5 Homemade Ornament Ideas for Outdoor Trees

What do you get when you combine a couple of nature lovers, a few basic ingredients, and some holiday cheer?  Christmas decor that’s good enough to eat (for the birds, that is!)  Since the bio-degradable bird feeder we made a while back was such a hit, I’d been on the lookout for similar nature projects to do with Cragbaby, especially for cold, rainy days.  Well our days of late haven’t been very rainy, and have been ANYTHING but cold, but our yard sure does look festive, thanks to all of these great ideas!   CHEERY CHEERI-ORNAMENTS:  Simple enough for even…Read the rest of this entry →

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Green Hours with McDowell Nature Preserve

Green Hours with McDowell Nature Preserve

At the risk of sounding like a lazy parent, I’ll be the first to admit that I sometimes grow bored with the same old green hours around the house.  (I say I’ll be the “first” because I’m willing to bet I’m not the only parent out there that feels that way…)  In this day and age of “scheduling,” there is certainly no shortage of programs available for toddlers, be it at a local library, park, or community center.  Even though I’m a firm believer that young children need a healthy dose of “unstructured” time so that they can let their…Read the rest of this entry →

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Sandbox Safety 101

Sandbox Safety 101

We had an incident just recently that prompted me to write yet another post about safe outdoor play in the backyard.  But unlike my last safety post, this one doesn’t have anything to do with creepy-crawlies (cue sighs of relief from a select few, my mother included…).  Nope, today’s warnings are related to a source generally seen as much more benign than snakes – but ironically it caused a lot more problems! You see, we had a bit of a “sand emergency” the other day.  Cragbaby and I were sitting outside at the sandbox, enjoying a few peaceful moments of…Read the rest of this entry →

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Safety with Snakes and Curious Toddlers

Safety with Snakes and Curious Toddlers

“I see a snake Mommy.” This was the rather nonchalant announcement from Cragbaby the other morning while we were working in the garden.  I looked up to see a brown, slithery friend sunning himself on a rock.  He was maybe a foot long, with a diameter similar to my index finger at his thickest point.  He was motionless, and his body had obviously not warmed up enough to make a fast getaway.  Either that, or he had never encountered a curious toddler.  My guess is that the next time he sees C coming he’ll summon up enough energy to make…Read the rest of this entry →

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Pumpkin Patch on a Shoestring Budget

Pumpkin Patch on a Shoestring Budget

Autumn is one of those times where almost every day seems to bring perfect weather for being outside.  And not only does it feel good to BE outside, there are loads of fun things to DO outside this time of year!  And the one thing that almost all families look for once the leaves start to change is a PUMPKIN PATCH!  As a former elementary school teacher, I’ve actually been to my fair share and then some of pumpkin patches over the years – and I can firmly state that all pumpkin patches are NOT created equal! Most are pretty good…Read the rest of this entry →

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Green Hour Craft Project: Bio-degradable Bird Feeder!

Green Hour Craft Project:  Bio-degradable Bird Feeder!

Cragbaby and I are always looking for new craft ideas involving nature, so when I stumbled across this idea on this website, I knew it would be loads of fun for both me and C as well as the feathered friends that hang out by our kitchen window.  We decided to do it on a whim, which was perfectly fine since all the materials are stuff we had lying around the house anyway.   It was a pretty even division of labor.  C took on the task of eating the insides of the orange while I poked and threaded the…Read the rest of this entry →

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A Simple Green Hour: Choosing Puddles Over Playgrounds

A Simple Green Hour:  Choosing Puddles Over Playgrounds

When we first moved here a year and a half ago, Cragbaby and I were excited to discover that there were 3 different parks within just a few miles of our house – the perfect distance for sandwiching a toddler green hour in between a grown-up workout.  Olde Providence Park is a family favorite, and it’s been the scene of numerous green hours, two of which are documented here and here.  Over the summer the playground was torn down, and was just recently replaced with all sorts of colorful apparatus to climb on, jump from, and scramble under.  Last Wednesday…Read the rest of this entry →

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Shadow Chasers

Shadow Chasers

What with our Wild West Adventure and Ocean Isle Beach Extravaganza (which we’re in the middle of right now…), I’ve hardly had time to write about the simple things – you know, those “everyday special occasions” that make up the majority of our time, but tend to get overshadowed (pun intended ) by the bigger stuff.  But despite the hectic schedules, Cragbaby and I have still managed to (more or less) remain faithful to our committment to a daily Green Hour.   In the past few months C has become quite fascinated with the concept of SHADOWS.  He is mesmerized…Read the rest of this entry →

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A Local Haunt: Lazy 5 Ranch

A Local Haunt:  Lazy 5 Ranch

  A while back, our family decided to spend a delightful Saturday morning Green Hour at the Lazy Five Ranch in Mooresville, NC.  (For you Southeasterners that are wondering how I could possibly describe the heat wave we’ve been having as delightful, note that I said a “while back”…I’ve been busy so it’s taken me a while to get to this one.  :) ).  Lazy 5 Ranch is a rather unique place – somewhat of a hodgepodge of zoo meets farm meets playground kinda thing.  My first experiences at Lazy 5 was back in my college years, when I drove…Read the rest of this entry →

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Cragbaby’s First Field Guide

Cragbaby’s First Field Guide

When most people think of favorite childhood books, usually classic stories like “A Cricket in Times Square,” “Stuart Little”, and “Charlotte’s Web” come to mind.  Although I of course have fond memories of those books as well, oddly enough the most tattered books in my collection were a little more technical in nature.  As long as I can remember, I have always been a nut about field guides.  Mammals, Birds, Plants and Flowers, Rocks and Minerals, Spiders and Insects – I had a field guide for anything you could imagine almost.  But above all my very favorite one was a little purple pocket guide…Read the rest of this entry →

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Cragbaby’s Two Favorite Words

Cragbaby’s Two Favorite Words

 “Kah-puh-puh, Buh-doh-zjuh”  Translation:  Caterpillar!  Bulldozer!  Also known as Cragbaby’s favorite topics these days.  While he’s always had an affinity for creepy-crawlies, the bulldozer fascination is relatively new.  Of course I use the term bulldozer rather loosely – while he regularly demonstrates his extensive knowledge of big trucks whenever we read our “big truck books,” in a pinch it’s much easier to refer to any truck as a bulldozer and just assume that Mommy knows what he means.  Anyway that being said, you can only imagine the thrill in my little Cragbaby’s eyes when he arrived at his sandbox one afternoon to…Read the rest of this entry →

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Cragbaby the Dirty Hippie

Cragbaby the Dirty Hippie

It started out innocent enough – just Cragbaby and the Mommy at Matthews-Sardis Park (which has been a long time family favorite – more on this park here).  It was a beautiful spring morning, and for the first 30 minutes we had the swings, slides, and tunnels all to ourselves as we listened to a chorus of songbirds equally as excited about the fresh air.  After a while though C’s fascination turned from the playground equipment to the tiny sliver of a creek separating the playground from the surrounding woods.    Like most toddlers, C is enamored by water.  Favorite wet and…Read the rest of this entry →

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An Egg-straordinary Green Hour!

An Egg-straordinary Green Hour!

Wow, who knew all the fun that could be had with a dozen hard-boiled eggs, a small blue bucket, and a few packages of food coloring?!?  Since we spent Easter weekend enjoying the perfect weather at the New River Gorge (stay tuned, trip report is on the way…), our family decided to partake in some egg-decorating festivities a few days early.  Of course Cragbaby had no idea what to expect when the Mommy laid out the official egg coloring kit (is PAAS the only company that has ever made that stuff, because I’ve NEVER seen another brand…), but he was enthusiastic all the same. …Read the rest of this entry →

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Backyard Green Hours are Just Dandy

Backyard Green Hours are Just Dandy

I don’t know about you, but our family has certainly been enjoying all of the signs of spring that have been popping up all over our yard.  In particular, DANDELIONS!  Though he’s a fan of all flowers, Cragbaby seems to have developed a special affinity for these yellow beauties that most of us would cast aside as weeds.  Morning after morning C delightedly runs through the yard exclaiming, “Yeh-ya fwah-fwah”  (yellow flower).  Being the sweet and charming boy that he is (hopefully he’ll stay this way!), the majority of flowers he picks all end up lovingly smashed into his Mommy’s…Read the rest of this entry →

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Favorite Cragtivities for the Under 2 Set

Favorite Cragtivities for the Under 2 Set

As I said in yesterday’s Sentimental Snapshots post, I’m not so sure that “Cragbaby” is such a good moniker anymore…but that for nostalgia purposes, we’re gonna let it stick as long as he’ll tolerate it.  But regardless of semantics,  our modus operandi at the crag has certainly evolved a good bit from those early weeks with an infant.  Since we’re celebrating moving from baby to big boy phase, I thought it would be fun to have a look back at C’s favorite “cragtivities” from the past 2 years.  Hopefully this stroll down memory lane will provide some good ideas to all the parents of very…Read the rest of this entry →

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Green Hour Connection: Woodsy Wonderland

Green Hour Connection:  Woodsy Wonderland

It just so happens that our road dead ends at a small, pocket of woods a few houses down from ours.  For me and Cragbaby, its kind of turned into our own private forest playground.  Even though we’re coming up on a year of being in our new house, it’s only been recently that we’ve discovered all the fun to be had in “the woods” down the street.  But the past couple of weeks we’ve gotten into a consistent woodsy green hour routine. It usually starts when we head outside and C enthusiastically hops in his wagon and says “Pull,…Read the rest of this entry →

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Sentimental Snapshots: My Little Tree Hugger

Sentimental Snapshots:  My Little Tree Hugger

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a Sentimental Snapshot photo on here.  It’s just that there have been so many other exciting things going on to write about, I’ve hardly had a spare moment.  But as I was looking through my pictures the other day trying to find something specific for another piece of writing that I’m doing, I stumbled across this shot. This photo was taken this past fall, towards the end of October.  Cragbaby had just learned how to say the word “tree,” and was pretty darn excited about saying it as often as he could.  A…Read the rest of this entry →

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LEAVES! And Family Lessons.

LEAVES!  And Family Lessons.

With the climbing hiatus in effect throughout most of the holiday season, our weekends were open for more than just baking, Christmas partying, and wrapping presents.  We also took advantage of the opportunity to catch up on household maintenance jobs that get overlooked the majority of the year when our weekends are filled with vertical adventures.  One such job involves tackling large heaps of leaves and dragging them out to the street. While I realize that most folks tend to view raking leaves as a work-in-progress activity to be whittled away at throughout the fall season, our family likes to…Read the rest of this entry →

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Sacred Earth Films: An Indoor Green Hour? (and a GIVEAWAY!)

Sacred Earth Films: An Indoor Green Hour? (and a GIVEAWAY!)

Even though our family still manages to get our Green Hours in during the cold, winter months, with only 10 hours of sunlight and often times less than beckoning conditions, we certainly spend more time indoors than during other seasons of the year.  That’s why I jumped at the chance to review “Echoes of Creation” and “Sacred Earth,” two nature films from Sacred Earth Pictures.  (And although I was provided the films for free, everything expressed here is my personal opinion, unbiased in anyway.) Originally airing on PBS and directed by Emmy Award winning director Jan Nickman, these films were…Read the rest of this entry →

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A Day in the Life – Cragbaby Style!

A Day in the Life – Cragbaby Style!

Probably the most common question I get from non-climbers is, “What does Cragbaby do all day while you guys climb?”  I realized that while I generally give a recap of all of the climbing-related mumbo jumbo the grown-ups do on the weekends, I don’t usually go into much detail about the kind of adventures that Cragbaby gets himself into!  Since we just recently got back from a 4 day trip to Kentucky where C’s personal photographer (not really, but she might as well be!) got some fantastic shots of him and his various “cragtivities,” it only seemed fitting to let…Read the rest of this entry →

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5 Reasons for Families to Get Active – and some scary statistics!

5 Reasons for Families to Get Active – and some scary statistics!

It seems as though I’ve been on a family kick recently with my Green Hour posts, both immediate and extended family.  Ironically, however, I have also had a lot of conversations recently with parents of children who would rather stay inside and watch other people play sports than actually get outdoors and do something active themselves.  In addition to being just plain sad, I also found this both disturbing and odd, especially considering how many nature resources and sports programs are available for kids of all ages these days.  It prompted me to research a little further… It seems like…Read the rest of this entry →

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One Pumpkin = Multiple Green Hours

One Pumpkin = Multiple Green Hours

How many Green Hours can come from one bright and happy orange pumpkin?  At our house, more than you can count!  The first one was of course the Sunday afternoon excursion to the local pumpkin patch a few weeks ago (in costume of course).  C took his pumpkin-picking-out job very seriously, and made sure to inspect EVERY pumpkin in the patch before finally deciding on the lucky orange friend that got to come home with us.                 Next came Carving Day.  We decided that this would be safest as an entire family activity.…Read the rest of this entry →

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The Green Hour Combo – A Family Affair

The Green Hour Combo – A Family Affair

Last week I wrote about Green Hours and grandparents, and about all of the cross-generational memories that can come from spending time in nature with extended family.  This week however, I wanted to focus a little closer to home – with immediate family.  If you are a frequent visitor to this site, you’ll know that its no secret that the majority of our weekends are spent outside at the crag scaling cliffs.  I’m pretty certain that when Cragbaby looks back at his early nature memories, most of them will involve ropes, helmets, and tents.  To put it mildly, I guess…Read the rest of this entry →

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A “Grand” Collection of Green Hours!

A “Grand” Collection of Green Hours!

Everyone knows that grandparents are special people, so its no surprise that some of my fondest outdoor memories as a child involve grandparents… My mom’s parents lived in Connecticut during my early years and we would go up to visit them twice a year.  Since they moved down to North Carolina some time while I was in elementary school, I don’t have a lot of specific memories about the time I spent there, but there is one particular event that I recall vividly.  On one particular visit my Pop Pop took my cousins and I to a garnet mine.  At the…Read the rest of this entry →

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Creepies, Crawlies, and Fungus Among Us!

Creepies, Crawlies, and Fungus Among Us!

Whenever I think about fall, I usually think about leaves, pumpkins, and apple cider…but generally not bugs or other creepy-crawlies. However, I’m starting to think that perhaps I should change my mindset, since it seems as though that’s all we’ve been encountering this past week during our green hours.  With the cooler temperatures and monsoon type rains we’ve been having lately, it seems as though all sorts of interesting creatures have been appearing out of the woodwork. Almost every day this week we’ve woken up to find at least one new species of mushroom popping up in colonies throughout our…Read the rest of this entry →

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Green Hour Connection: Buckets of Fun!

Green Hour Connection:  Buckets of Fun!

With all of the recent action out in the Atlantic the past few weeks, our area has been the recipient of some much-needed rain.  (And when I say much-needed, its the average homeowner with a lawn and garden speaking, not the 24 hour weather-stalking climber).  Suffice it to say, many of our green hours recently have involved getting wet and wild in one of Cragbaby’s absolute favorite things – PUDDLES!  We both put on our play clothes, head outside, and C splashes to his little heart’s content, drenching everything within a 10 foot radius of the puddle.      …Read the rest of this entry →

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Green Hour Connection: Swept Away with Broomstick Fun!

Green Hour Connection:  Swept Away with Broomstick Fun!

To my delight Cragbaby has discovered a love for housekeeping.  I’m not sure where he got that gene from, because both his Mommy and his Daddy are scarcely cleaner than dirty hippies, but I won’t question it.  His favorite cleaning apparatus is the broom, or in his words, the “bwuh, bwuh.”  So the other morning, while hanging out on a blanket underneath our oak trees, searching for cicada shells (another favorite pasttime, more on that here), a light bulb went off in my head – why not celebrate his love for sticks, curiousity with plants, and new-found love for sweeping…Read the rest of this entry →

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Green Hour Connection: Not Just Your Garden Variety Spider

Green Hour Connection:  Not Just Your Garden Variety Spider

I’ve always been fascinated by spiders.  Not that I want them in my house or anything, although for a while I did entertain the thought of a pet tarantula in college until the roommate nixed the idea.  I’ve just always thought they were kinda cool, and misunderstood by a large portion of our society.  They keep our gardens free of pests, their silk is ounce for ounce stronger than steel, and scientists are researching the properties of their venom for use in green insecticides.  Not to mention that they are among the best climbers on the planet!  So you can…Read the rest of this entry →

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Olde Providence Park: Urban Climbing is Just a Bike Ride Away

Olde Providence Park: Urban Climbing is Just a Bike Ride Away

I mentioned Olde Providence Park in a Green Hour post a few weeks ago, but since its turned out to be such a family favorite, I thought it deserved another shout out.  We were blessed to have a few mornings last week that were absolutely delightful – 70 degree, low humidity reminders that Fall is on the way, if we can just hold out for a few more weeks!  One one such morning Cragbaby and I decided to hop on the bike and head to the park for an early morning romp. Olde Providence Park is a little over 2…Read the rest of this entry →

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Green Hour Connection: The Calm AFTER the Storm

Green Hour Connection: The Calm AFTER the Storm

We had some rather wild weather recently!  An early afternoon thunderstorm wreaked havoc throughout the city Charlotte – some sources say we got almost 6 inches of rain within a matter of hours.  Major highways were closed, downtown shops were flooded, and numerous commuters floated helplessly down the road in torrential flash floods.  Thankfully, at our house we saw more bark than bite.  Around lunchtime the sky started getting more and more ominous and by the time C went down for his nap, I wasn’t sure whether he would think it was naptime or bedtime, it was so dark!  For…Read the rest of this entry →

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Green Hour Connection: Guest Post from Kristen Lummis

Cragmama

I always enjoy meeting other kindred spirits, whether it be in person or in cyberspace, so I’ve been thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate recently with 3 other adventurous mommies on a few writing projects we’re cooking up (more on that later, but you can stay in the loop by following us on Twitter @AdventureMoms.  Anyway, Kristen Lummis is one such Mommy, and she graciously offered to contribute a Green Hour post for me!  Kristen’s family is to skiing as ours is to climbing!   She lives in Western Colorado with her husband and two teenage boys, and recently had a…Read the rest of this entry →

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Green Hour Connection: Studies in Entomology

Green Hour Connection: Studies in Entomology

Last week Cragbaby wanted to be a pilot.  This week he’s a bug man – and not the exterminator type!  While C has always seemed to have an affinity for creepy-crawlies – ladybugs, carpenter ants, daddy long legs, caterpillars, etc, this week he has become fascinated with cicadas.  Actually it would be most accurate to say he has become fascinated with cicade SHELLS.  For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, more information can be found here.   Basically cicadas are very loud, very scary looking, giant bugs that spend the majority of their life cycle buried in the ground,…Read the rest of this entry →

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Green Hour Connection: A is for Airplane!

Green Hour Connection: A is for Airplane!

If Cragbaby had a vocabulary that included words other than “balloon,” “light,” and “cup,” he’d probably tell you that he wants to be a pilot when he grows up.  I’d be fine with that I guess – but only if he promises to fly his Mommy and Daddy around for free…oh and to let us have an extra carry-on bag for our climbing gear…In all seriousness, however, C LOVES airplanes!  No matter what we’re doing outside, all activities halt when one flies overhead so that C can smile and point at the plane, and since we aren’t that far from a…Read the rest of this entry →

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Green Hour Connection: Keepin’ it Cool

Green Hour Connection:  Keepin’ it Cool

I don’t know about everyone else lately, but our Green Hours have been getting hotter and hotter! With July well underway and August on the rise, I thought it fitting to share ways to keep your Green Hours cool for your little ones even when the mercury is off the charts! 1.  Dress For Success – When it comes to clothing and the outdoors, less is not always more.  Especially if your tyke is concentrating on growing everything BUT hair, make sure to keep that sweet head covered by a hat, preferably one with a brim that will shade his/her…Read the rest of this entry →

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Green Hour Connection: Eco-lessons Disguised as Fun

Green Hour Connection: Eco-lessons Disguised as Fun

Those of you not from “these parts” down south may not be familiar with the fast-food wonder that is Chick-Fila.  With a menu that is considered relatively healthy by fast-food standards, and yummy by just about any standard, it has turned into somewhat of a family tradition to go there on Friday nights (we are on the cutting edge of cool, I know…).  So you can imagine our excitement after our big move to Charlotte when we discovered a Chick-Fila sitting smack dab in the middle of the shopping center right across the street from our new neighborhood!  Since it’s…Read the rest of this entry →

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Green Hour Connection: Adventures with Suburban Wildlife

Green Hour Connection: Adventures with Suburban Wildlife

  Its been a while since I’ve been able to do a Green Hour post, what with all of th trip reports and all of the other exciting things that have been happening around here (such as The Cragbaby Project!)  Don’t worry though we’ve still been keeping up with our Green Hours, but I just haven’t been able to post.  Anyway, some of my favorite ways to incorporate green hours into C’s day are by combining them with a normal part of our day - hitting the park on the way home, walking instead of driving to the store, etc.  I want Cragbaby to…Read the rest of this entry →

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Green Hour Connection: Stopping by Woods on a Sunny Morning…and a WARNING!

Green Hour Connection: Stopping by Woods on a Sunny Morning…and a WARNING!

Having only been in our new home for a week and a half, there is still plenty of exploring and discovery to be had! On one of our Green Hours this week, we decided to see what was beyond the dead end of our street, about a quarter mile away from our house.  We’d noticed that there appeared to be a few trails heading off into the woods, and had been wanting to check it out.  So we loaded up into Cragbaby’s bright red “birthday wagon” and took off down the street. Within minutes we were transported into a whimsical,…Read the rest of this entry →

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Green Hour Connection: A “Yoforic” Mother’s Day

Green Hour Connection: A “Yoforic” Mother’s Day

My favorite Green Hour moment of the week came last Sunday, when my two favorite boys treated me to a lovely afternoon of outdoor fun and frozen treats!  Sunny, breezy, and temps in the mid-70′s – I couldn’t have asked for better Mother’s Day weather!  Cragbaby’s first gift to Mommy was taking a 3.5 hour nap, giving me plenty of time to get my closet organized (for those of you that don’t know, we had just moved into our new house the day before!)  When he finally woke up, we hooked up the bike trailer and headed off to Yoforia…Read the rest of this entry →

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Green Hour Connection: Checkin’ Out the New Digs!

Green Hour Connection: Checkin’ Out the New Digs!

To say this week has been crazy would be an understatement!  After we closed on our new house last Friday, each day has been a flurry of activity – packing and moving boxes, painting bedrooms, shopping for mattresses, washers, dryers, etc.  Cragbaby has been trying very hard to be a good helper – however his best skill set is in the UNpacking process, not so much the boxing up, and definitely not the painting!  Needless to say, we’ve been spending a lot of time over at the new house this week, including our Green Hours!  No special equipment or toys needed…Read the rest of this entry →

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Green Hour Connection: Park Road Park

Green Hour Connection: Park Road Park

Cragbaby and I explored a new park this past week on a bright and sunny Green Hour morning – Park Road Park.  Its in South Charlotte over on, you guessed it, Park Road.  A fairly large park (122 acres), it has a lot to offer for kids of all ages – athletic fields, basketball courts, and tennis facilities for the big boys, and 2 playgrounds surrounded by benches and picnic tables for the little folk.  There are also a few walking trails and a small pond.    We got there around 930 or so, and I was surprised to find…Read the rest of this entry →

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Green Hour Connection: On the Go Tips!

Green Hour Connection: On the Go Tips!

Some days its not always easy to fit in some Green Hour fun. Juggling errands, appointments, naptimes, and mealtimes make for a hectic enough day as it is, without trying to throw in some unscheduled outdoor time, right?  Today’s Green Hour post is about how to green up even your busiest of days!  You might not have hours on end of free time at your disposal, but everyone has a few minutes here and there – and if you plan it right, that’s plenty enough to recreate and restore your spirit before tackling the next big project.  Here’s how to make your Green…Read the rest of this entry →

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Green Hour Connection: The Sun Didn’t Shine.

Green Hour Connection: The Sun Didn’t Shine.

“The Sun didn’t shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house all that cold, cold, wet day.” -Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat While Dr. Seuss may have been a master at opening children’s eyes to the wonders of reading, he seems to have been a bit lacking in the outdoor adventure department… I don’t know about you, but here in our neck of the woods, our spring fever has been put on hold in favor of cold, wet nastiness. Weekend climbing plans were thwarted, which to be perfectly honest probably worked out for…Read the rest of this entry →

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Green Hour Connection: Fun on Wheels!

Green Hour Connection: Fun on Wheels!

As most of you know, Cragbaby celebrated a birthday this past week!  Among his many presents were two items that we can utilize in our Green Hour playtimes.  The first was a wagon.  But this was no ordinary wagon – it was a Radio Flyer Pathfinder Wagon, complete with fold-up seats and cup holders!  I guess things have changed a bit since my wagon days, because it is definitely way more luxurious than any wagon I’ve ever had (or seen for that matter!).  Anyway, its fantastic!  The fold-up seats and seat belt system make going up and down hills a…Read the rest of this entry →

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Green Hour Connection: Matthews-Sardis Park

Green Hour Connection: Matthews-Sardis Park

We spent the majority of our weekend hours outside as a family enjoying the spectacular spring-like weather!  In addition to spending a day climbing at Pilot Mountain (click here for the Trip Report), we also took advantage of the extra hour of daylight by checking out a new park.  Matthews-Sardis Park is located on (go figure) Sardis Road on the Southeast side of Charlotte (I think the address might technically be in the town of Matthews).   Sardis Park is a clean, quiet, shaded park with a neighborhood type feel to it.  There are two playground apparatuses – one for…Read the rest of this entry →

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The Green Hour Connection

The Green Hour Connection

There’s been a lot of buzz recently about the importance of giving your child a “Green Hour” every day.  For those of you that have no idea what that is (or think that I might be covertly trying to reference illegal activities), the term “Green Hour” was coined by the National Wildlife Federation in 2007.  It’s defined as “time for unstructured play and interaction with the natural world.” The following information was taken from research compiled by the NWF.  If you are interested in reading more, check out their site.  Take a moment to let these alarming statistics sink in……Read the rest of this entry →

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