Archives for June 2014

DIY Geocache Kit

Make a geocache kit

Have you ever tried geocaching? If not, you definitely should! Think of it like a modern day treasure hunt. People hide “caches” in different locations. In order to find these caches, you get the coordinates of the cache’s location and use a GPS to locate it. Once you find it, there’s usually a logbook to sign. You leave the cache exactly as you found it, so that the next geocacher can do the same.

Geocaching is a perfect family activity. If you’re already an outdoor-loving family, it just one more fun thing to do outdoors. And if you struggle with getting yourself or the kids outdoors, geocaching is a great way to spend time outdoors while focused on an entirely different activity. Many geocaches contain a collection of small trinkets or goodies. Once you’ve found the cache, you can leave something of greater or equal value and take something fun home with you. My kids, who aren’t big on walks or hikes, will walk for miles just to find a geocache and some possible treasures!

The best thing about geocaching is that it’s not limited to one area or environment. You can find caches all over the world, in both urban and suburban environments. It adds an extra element of fun to traveling – what geocaches can we find while we’re away?

You don’t need much to get started geocaching, but you do need a few things. You need some sort of GPS system. Serious geocachers have special GPS devices. We just use my smartphone. You’ll need a basic membership from Geocaching.com so that you can log in and find GPS coordinates for caches. The app, while not required, is very helpful while you’re out and about. Others before me have written wonderful articles on how to get started geocaching. Here are a few of my favorite resources:

Today I’m going to share with you how to make your very own geocache kit. Not only is it a great way to get started yourself, these kits make great gifts for other kids or families. They’re super easy to put together, and before you know it you’ll be on your way! The bonus is that once you’ve tried geocaching a few times, you’ll probably be inspired to make and hide your own cache. The kit provides a few things you’ll need if you want to do that as well.

DIY Geocache Kit

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Small plastic container
  • iTunes gift card to purchase the geocaching app (only if you’ll be giving it as a gift)
  • Compass (not necessary for finding the cache, as you’ll use your GPS, but fun for kids to track which direction you’re headed)
  • Small trinkets to leave behind
  • Pencil
  • Notebook
  • Small plastic baggie (to protect the notebook from water)

Just gather all the items in the plastic container. If it’s a gift, wrap it in something fun or nature-themed. If not, you have a handy storage container for all your supplies that stores easily in the car or a backpack. Now get out there and have fun hunting!

 

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Family Game Night: On the Road!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Games are a big part of our family life, so naturally as we’re preparing for our riskiest adventure yet, I knew we’d want to bring along some games. Of course, the name of the traveling game is packing light, so we couldn’t very well bring along the Catan board or deluxe Scrabble.

The good news is there are tons of fun, family-friendly games that are small enough to fit in carry-on bags or backpacks. We plan on bringing several – some old favorites and some new additions – to pass the time in airports, trains and hotels. Besides being great boredom busters, games can be a great ice-breaker when meeting new people at home or abroad. Here’s are the games that are hitching a ride with us to Europe:

Best Travel Games for Families

A deck of cards: You can’t go wrong with the classics. We don’t typically play card games as a family, but we can always spend a layover teaching the kids the fine art of solitaire. Mike loves card games, so if the opportunity arises to learn a new game from a local, we’ll be prepared.

Uno and Rat-A-Tat-CatBoth of these card games are big hits with our family, and games we can all play together.

KanoodleThis is a new game for us, but it came highly recommended by a few other travel bloggers. It will be a surprise, and I’ll be ready to pull it out when boredom strikes.

BackgammonI found a small, magnetic travel version and snapped it up. We’ve been talking about learning how to play for months.

Rubik’s CubeAnother classic. Whether it’s an older kid or an adult trying to solve it, or a preschooler just creating patterns, it’s endlessly entertaining and takes up very little space.

BananagramsThis one would be tricky on a plane, but perfect for airport floors or by the pool at the hotel. I really want to watch my Spanish relatives play it in their own language, too!

Mad Libs: I scooped one of these up at Five Below for $1.50. They come in lots of fun themes, and are always good for a laugh. I’ll pull this out when anyone has a case of the grumps!

What are your favorite games that travel well?

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Risky Reads: The Bonfire Edition

Boys watching bonfire

Mike built us a new fire pit last month, so of course we had to break it in right away and make sure it worked. We had a bench the previous owners left behind that was falling apart, so into the fire pit it went! Another neighbor brought over a dilapidated chair. Needless to say, the kids were fascinated! Here’s to many more evenings spent in the company of good friends sitting by a summer fire.

When I’m not burning things, I’m reading some really cool stuff on the web. Here are a few things I found that you may enjoy:

” If you can’t afford to risk anything less than perfection at the age of 15, then for heaven’s sake, when is going to be the right time?” What our quest for steering kids to be the best from an early age is doing to their desire to takes risks in the fabulous article “Go Ahead, Let Your Kids Fail.”

I’m terribly guilty of doing the exact opposite. But we must remember there is undeniable power in doing nothing.

I am SO excited to be able to see this exhibit in person!

These photos of the magical world of snails are crazy cool! The kids will love them.

Just in case you’re not the master of building fires like I am (much to the chagrin of my husband!), here’s a handy guide for how to get those fires burning.

Over at Bedtime Math they have a fun new road trip printable. This past month our wacky math adventures included counting tree rings, flipping coins, and making a hummingbird feeder.

For more risky inspiration, follow us on Pinterest and like us on Facebook.  And if you ever see anything you think we’d like, please share it with us!

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Free-Range Parenting From the Helicopter

Please join me in welcoming my friend Liz, of Eternal Lizdom, to The Risky Kids today! Liz is a mom of 2 and a fellow blogger. Earlier this year I posed the question: what do you do when you and your spouse disagree on kids’ activities? It’s a question I get asked a lot, and while Mike and I have the same basic philosophy when it comes to our parenting style and tolerance for independent play, I know many of you struggle with this. Liz has some experience on the topic, and I think you’ll find her perspective helpful and enlightening! 

I’m not usually one to adhere to labels when it comes to parenting. But in our household, we do have 2 different styles when it comes to the independent play and living of our kids.

I’m something of a “free-range parent.” I encourage my kids to be independent and not constantly under my rules and supervision. My husband is more of a “helicopter parent.” He prefers to always know where the kids are, be able to see them, and have direct influence over their decisions. In some ways, this could cause a lot of conflict in a family. These can be very different styles.

When we go to the park, I’m more likely to bring a book and sit on a bench and enjoy the sunshine while the kids run off and play. My husband is more likely to stand on the playground and patrol the borders, keeping an eye on the kids as they play.

At the grocery store, I will send my 9-year-old to pick up something I forgot a few aisles or sections back. My husband will circle back and take everyone along to pick up the forgotten item – wanting to keep an eye on everyone and also wanting to make sure that the correct item is chosen.

When playing outside, I let the kids have the run of the street with their friends. My husband prefers that they play in one set location so that he can check on them at any time.

The interesting thing is … we don’t really fight about it. I can easily see where we would. These can be very different styles, especially when we are all out together. But I think we both see the value in our differences. So I bite my tongue sometimes when he insists on doing things that I see as controlling small behaviors. And he sometimes has to bite his tongue when he thinks I’m letting them have too much freedom.

When it comes to “biting my tongue,” the thing I do to help with that is to stop and think about my kids in the future. I think about how they will describe their childhood and their memories. And my hope is that they will see our different styles in a positive way – and when I try to project to the future and look back, I can see how dad’s style has a lot of benefits for them in the long run (even if I find it frustrating right now).

He’s driven by wanting them to learn how to make the best choice now. He wants them to benefit from his life experience, to accept his knowledge and adult perspective. He wants to protect them from making mistakes and getting hurt. I want them to learn by making mistakes and getting hurt. Not that I want my children to hurt – it’s horrible to watch your child suffer in any way. But I also know that my kids learn when they are in a more difficult situation and have to think it through. My husband wants to be the main source of knowledge and wisdom and answer for our kids. I want to be a place they can safely come and talk to, someone who can offer guidance and other perspectives but the decision is still left to them.

The bottom line is that our kids benefit from both of our styles. They learn from dad that sometimes there is a need for caution, there is a reason to be careful with how we proceed. From mom, they learn about responsibility and to use their instincts and sense of caution to make their choices.

And in the end, all of our choices are made because we love our children. As long as that is the message that comes through to them, I think we’re doing just fine.

(Ironically, as I finish writing this, my husband is taking a big step by allowing our 9-year-old to stay home alone while he runs to the grocery store. I’m proud of him!)

Also – a book that really has helped me develop into this more-allowing-of-freedom parent is “Protecting the Gift” by Gavin DeBecker. I know a lot about what there is to fear in the world and this book helped me to realize that my instincts are very trustworthy. I highly recommend it to all parents.

Thank you so much for sharing with us, Liz! It sounds like your kids have the best of both worlds! Have any of you ever experienced the same thing – one of you is more “free-range” than the other parent? What’s your best advice for parenting with respect for your partner’s differences and concerns?

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We’re Off to Spain!

#SixesInSpain

As you read this, we’ll be somewhere over the Atlantic, headed to Madrid! We’re so excited for this trip of a lifetime. We’ll be away for a month, so you’ll notice a change in posting frequency while we’re gone. While I won’t be posting three times a week as usual, I do have some great content lined up for you while we’re away, including a couple of guest posts you’re going to love. I’ll also be reposting a couple of oldies but goodies, for those of you new to The Risky Kids who might have missed them the first go around.

We plan to truly vacation while we’re on vacation, so any help you can give me on sharing the posts you enjoy while we’re gone would be a huge help, and I’ll be forever grateful!

I do hope to update my personal blog, Just Like The Number, from time to time with photos and thoughts from the the things we’ve seen. If you’re not already subscribed, I encourage you to do so if you’d like to follow along on our adventures. I’ll also be sharing photos via Instagram. Be sure to follow me there (I’m AngieSix) if you’d like to keep up with us!

Whether you’re staying close to home or venturing out, we hope you are having a wonderful summer!

 

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Every Family Needs a Ned

Meet Ned:

Ned the Phone Monster

He’s a phone monster. If you have a smart phone and a family, you need a Ned.

Ned is the brilliant creation of Jenny and Josh Solar. I first came across the Solar family through their blog, The Happy Family Movement. In the early days of The Risky Kids, they were a huge inspiration. Their passion for living a life full of experiences over things and for making family memories was a natural tie-in to The Risky Kid’s motto to play more and worry less.

Like many of us, Jenny found herself struggling with technology’s impact on family life. It’s easy to nag the kids about their screen time, but it can be painful to turn the focus on ourselves and our dependence on technology … especially our smart phones. Like Jenny, I find my iPhone to be both a blessing and a curse. I’m able to capture our playful lives and memorable family moments in ways I never could before through videos and photos. It allows me to work on the go, to stay connected with friends and family, to broaden my horizons and keep me from making a wrong turn.

But.

It certainly comes with a price if we’re not mindful. As much as it connects me, it also disconnects me from my family. The text that goes off during dinner. The overwhelming desire to see who is doing what on Instagram. The need to check it one more time before bed. I know I’m not alone, and so do the Solars.

Ned the Phone Monster is a brilliant and fun solution to an ever-growing problem. He’s adorable, and kids will naturally be drawn to him. He sits on your countertop, just begging you to feed him your phone, keeping it out of sight so that you can get on with your life. I know for us, out of sight equals out of mind with any kind of technology … both for kids and adults. And we know from our experiences during Screen-Free Week that even an hour a day with no screens does wonders for reconnecting with your family.

how-ned-works 2

The Solars are launching a Kickstarter campaign to get Ned into homes across the country. I think it’s a fabulous idea, and one that many of you would be happy to support. Please take a few minutes to visit their website and learn more about Ned as well as The Happy Family Movement. If you’re ready to put down your phone and pick up your life, Ned is the guy monster for you!

Ned Kickstarter

Disclosure: I am not affiliate with Ned or the Solars in any way. I have not been compensated for this post. I’m a fan of The Happy Family Movement and am happy to support and spread the word about Ned because I love the idea!

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