Little D on the web

Woke up this morning to see that the photo from Little D’s first birthday paddle is the Canoeroots Magazine photo of the day! So fun! Check it out here

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Rush Sturges Highlight Reel and Childhood Paddling

Rush Sturges is a pro kayaker known for his mind-bending freestyle moves, including one known as a “hail mary”, which involves a front flip over a waterfall. As we watched his latest highlights reel, Sean and I couldn’t help but notice the emphasis on his childhood paddling. The reel follows him as his parents pose him in a boat as an infant, up through his early years, including his 2003 Junior World Kayaking Championship win. His parents owned a kayaking school on a big river in California, and it is clear that they were instrumental in involving him in the sport from a very early age.

It’s a tricky thing, though, figuring out how much to try to influence a kid’s love of the outdoors. We are gung-ho paddlers, and we took the mancub out for a short ride the other day. He had a great time throwing a rubber duck over the side. But what if he doesn’t like paddling? What if he starts to drag his feet every time we prepare for a trip? How much do we push him and hope it sticks? When I was a kid, my parents took me out to a local nature sanctuary several times a week. I loved it. When my younger sister arrived, they loaded her into the backpack and headed down the trail. She screamed her head off every time. So, they ultimately decided to leave her with my grandmother and skip the nature tours when she was with us.  So far he seems to be thrilled by our adventures, so we’ll cross our fingers and hope we never have to decide whether or not to leave him behind.

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Keeping Ticks Off Kids

Deer ticks: Male tick on left, engorged female tick on right.

Few things freak me out as much as ticks. Something about their bloodsucking disease-carrying creepy little bodies send shivers up my spine, and the sight of a single tick causes me to search myself for hours and jump through the roof every time I feel something on my skin. Fortunately, they don’t seem to like me all that much either; Sean and I will come back from a jaunt in the woods, and he’ll be covered with ticks, while I often don’t have any on me. I’m hoping the baby takes after me on that count, because the thought of digging ticks out of tender baby skin has me squirming in my seat.

Unfortunately, this warm winter we’ve had may bring us one of the worst tick years we’ve seen in a while. With ticks moving further north and lyme disease and rocky mountain spotted fever becoming more prevalent, it is inevitable that those of us who like to wander around in the bushes will have to deal with these nasty little crawlies. So what do we do?

1. Know where to expect to find ticks

Ticks are often found in wooded or grassy areas, particularly where there is overgrown vegetation or leaf litter. This is also precisely the habitat that kids and pets love to explore, so knowing that there is a high likelihood of encountering ticks on a favorite hike or trip to a park lets you prepare ahead of time. Try to keep kids on the hiking trail and out of the brush during tick season to minimize exposure.

 2. Dress appropriately when heading into tick territory

Wear long sleeves and long pants, as well as thick socks when going into a tick-heavy area. There are a number of lightweight fabrics on the market which make this more realistic in the summertime.

 3. Use tick repellent

Products containing 20% DEET are effective tick repellents, and can be applied to clothing or skin, though we tend to only put it on clothing to minimize chemical exposure. Be sure to carefully avoid the hands, eyes and mouth, and follow all product directions. Permethrin is also effective, but should not be used on skin.

4. Check carefully for ticks after each outing

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends immediately checking the following places:

  • Under the arms
  • In and around the ears
  • Inside belly button
  • Back of the knees
  • Under the arms
  • In and around the hair
  • Between the legs
  • Around the waist

Taking a shower within two hours after returning from an outing where you may have encountered ticks will decrease the likelihood of attachment and disease transmission.

5. Immediately remove all ticks

Use tweezers to firmly grasp the tick close to the skin, and pull upward with steady pressure. Wash the area with soap and water, and watch the area for swelling or rash.

Ticks may be unavoidable, but with a little vigilance you can manage to stay ahead of them.

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The Last of the Snow?

This was what we were up to only 2 weeks before we had 80 degree beach weather! Photo by Sean Donohue 2012

I live in New England, which means that even though it has edged into the eighties a few times in the last few weeks, I’m not sure I can get away with declaring that our outing last weekend involved the “last of the snow”, but I certainly hope that’s the case. Our little man-cub had a great time rolling around in the snowbanks with the dog, but is still confused by his mittens. He has outgrown his snowsuit, so we had to improvise and put a second set of mittens on his feet. I just tucked the thumbs in to keep them from catching on something, and he was good to go.

Around here we are gearing up for spring sports, which in our case means hiking and paddling. Since I was pregnant last year at this time, I haven’t done much paddling other than sit in a canoe in over a year, so it will take a bit of work to get my skills back in line enough to prepare for some of the trips we have planned for the summer. Each trip we have planned is supposed to be an easy one; some go to islands less than a mile from the put-in, some involve easy treks down flatwater. But, much like the weather itself, the easiest trip can become a challenge if the wind kicks in, or there is a lot of rain, or something critical in the gear fails, so I am beginning both a physical and a skills-based tune-up. I’ve been going through drybags, planning meals, and researching the few critical pieces of baby gear, such as a life jacket, that we still need to buy. I’ll get out on the water with Sean a few times in the next few weeks and work out the kinks on some warm-up paddles.

So far the kiddo loves any and all water he’s come into contact with. Our goal for the summer is to keep it that way…

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Love like a rock.

attribution unknown

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Happy Holidays!

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Everything is Funny

Photo by Sean Donohue

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Today’s edition of Adventure Journal contained a short article by British adventurer Alasdair Humphreys about the importance of finding opportunities for small adventures, even if you don’t have the time or money to go far from home or stage a large-scale expedition. According to Humphreys, “Adventure is only a state of mind. 
Adventure is stretching yourself; mentally, physically or culturally. It is about doing what you don’t normally do, pushing yourself hard and doing it to the best of your ability. And if that’s true then adventure is all around us, at all times. Even during hard financial times such as these. Times, I believe, when getting away from it all and out into the wild are more invigorating and important than ever.”

I’m finding this to be so very important, especially when I’m at a time where I can’t really go off on long treks or paddles,  or any outing that can’t accommodate a tiny baby.Trips to the local parks become adventures. So do macroexplorations in the backyard, and dramatic encounters with smaller local wildlife. We are exploring new neighborhoods and trails, and beginning to know our local territory much more intimately, something we had not done before because we  were off pursuing the larger goal. I know that the time will come soon when I can return to the wilds more easily, but sometimes, like tonight, I feel a little itchy for the great unknown. It’s nice to read a piece from someone else who values the small worlds that deserve exploration, and reminds me how much I still have to learn about that which was near me all along.

You can read the rest of Humphreys article here.

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The Saddest Member of the Pack

Video: Freya on a flooded trail in the White Mountains National Forest

This whole baby thing has been a rough transition for our dog. She loves nothing more than the opportunity to roll in smelly mud, but she hasn’t been able to do that as often as usual. I’ve been hiking with the baby a lot of mornings, but I haven’t been bringing the dog with me because she’s not real good on a leash, and it’s a lot for me to handle while I’m getting myself back in shape. It was especially tricky in the first few weeks when I was afraid the dog would pull me sideways and re-injure my stomach muscles. So she watches me pack up the baby and head out the door, and I hear soft whimpering as I go down the stairs. It’s awful.

Fortunately, we can take her when there are two of us, so she gets a few exciting adventures a week. I know that the moment the first cheerio hits the floor she and the baby will be best friends, but right now she isn’t real thrilled about the newest member of the pack.

This video is from happier days.

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Laughing at Thunder

Sacked out in the Peapod

Ten minutes after I pushed the last tent stake into the dirt, the first raindrop hit the fly, immediately followed by a slow growl of thunder. Liam was lounging in his car seat a few feet away, and I ran to get him under the safety of the tent before he was soaked to the skin.  His eyes grew wide and his little arms jerked in a startle reflex at each crack of thunder. Just when I was afraid he’d break into tears and screams, his lips turned up at the corners, and a slow smile grew on his face.  Yup, this kid laughs at thunderstorms. For the next twenty minutes or so, I sang sea shanties and he listened to the rain and  watched the shadows dance across the tent fly, smiling and cooing at the strange turn of events.

The storm was also the beginning of his love affair with the tent. He woke early both mornings, but instead of fussing to be held, he babbled quietly to himself, and stared at the tent, engrossed in the patterns of moving light and shadow across the fabric. I think that he spent more awake time inside the tent than any other time during the weekend. He slept all through the hikes, the river games, the campfires (with the exception of one minor screaming fit during dinner on Saturday night, which was resolved by retreating to the tent). But the TENT, man, that was the best part. It was also the part of our first campout that had me the most worried initially, as I had visions of him screaming all night long, and angry neighbors storming into our site with pitchforks and torches.

We have a longer trip planned in a few weeks, a possible backpack, and I’m hoping this infatuation continues. In the meantime, I’ll keep on with playtime in the Peapod out in our backyard, and daily mini-hikes in the conservation lands near our house. But so far, we are off to a great start.

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