Man vs nature

The power in something so commonplace as snow and ice is really awe inspiring. And you’ve got to respect that if you want to survive the struggle.

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This was a classic man vs. nature kind of day.

We’re up north at the summer cabin in Rangeley Maine. It’s unseasonably warm. In fact our thermometer says 50°F! You would think on a day like this nature would be on your side. Well think again!
All started off well. Our plan was to drive the snowmobile to town and load it into the truck before the lake became too slushy in the warmth and sunshine. So first we played around a little, not wanting the fun to be over. We pulled our older daughter in the sled behind the snowmobile (the little one is still scared of the noise and speed). We cross country skied in the track. We took pictures. Grandpa (my father in law, who is in his 80s) even came out and played! The temperature rose, the sun peeked out from behind the clouds, and it was time to get the snowmobile brought in for this trip. So, my husband heads for town over the lake while I go to the truck at the street.

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Here begins the struggle! 

The driveway is a sheet of ice and the tires are just spinning in place. The warm temperatures, combined with the fact that the empty, rear wheel drive Ford pickup has no weight in the back causes our first problem. I can’t pull out of the slight incline of our driveway onto the road. I try calling my husband to let him know I’m stuck, but he’s tooling around the lake with the snowmobile, killing time while he waits and doesn’t hear his phone.

So I’m from Minnesota. I kinda sorta have an idea what to do in these situations. But I’m also feeling a deep sense of self doubt. Will I do the right thing? Will I be able to get the truck out without my husband’s help? I start to dig and chip at the ice under the tires. I get the bucket of sand from inside the cabin, and my father in law comes to help.

With a lot of dirt and a lot of digging, my father in law and I are again ready to attempt getting the truck out. He gets behind the wheel, while I stand in the bed (for weight). After a crazy, tire peeling, snowbank bouncing ride, we have the truck up on the road. For the moment I feel relieved.

Meanwhile, I try calling my husband again. And now he hears his phone. . . because the snowmobile broke down!

Struggle number 2 has started already unbeknownst to me.

The snowmobile broke out on the ice, about a mile and a half from town. By the time we talk, a friendly rider has taken pity on my husband trudging on foot across the frozen lake and given him a ride into town. Help is on the way, a local snowmobile shop has sent some guys to tow our snowmobile back into town.

I gather some supplies for hoisting the snowmobile into the truck, but that part ends up being surprisingly easy. The guys tow the snowmobile up onto a tall snowbank and we are able to push it right into the bed of the truck.

All ended well by lunch time, but not without a lot of anxiety, a lot of man power, some cash spent, and quite a bit of damage to the truck and snowmobile.

The main reason for our visit to the summer cabin in the middle of winter to begin with, was to shovel the snow off the roof to prevent collapse.

So all of this got me thinking. To survive in the north woods, a person’s got to have some grit, perseverance, and resilience. The power in something so commonplace as snow and ice is really awe inspiring. And you’ve got to respect that if you want to survive the struggle.

When you pit man vs nature, nature is always stronger. My shoulders and back have been telling me this since we got here and started digging a hole in a snow and ice bank 5 feet deep for our parking spot.

But if you stay on nature’s good side, you might survive with a story to tell. And somehow, you’ll end up feeling grateful to nature for giving you that much.

 

Snow days and sick days

20170217_094412When you are all set to stand up and live, but life makes you sit back down, don’t get frustrated. Make lemonade!

Here I was, ready to take my own advice, as per my previous blog post, and get up, get out of the house, live my life with zest and vigour. And then. . . we had three snow days (meaning school was cancelled and normal life essentially stopped) in the past two weeks, and the littles in my family both caught a cold. Enter real life, exit well meant intentions.

But I’m really glad I had all these plans, because I didn’t just let the tv take over. Of course we did watch plenty of tv, but I was armed with some ideas of indoor activities that also spark creativity.

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1) Cook or bake with your kids

It’s a win, win situation. You need something to eat. You need something to do. Plus you can feel really great about doing something that allows you to bond, and that’s educational. Sure, cleanup can be a drag, but let’s face it, I can make a pretty big mess on my own, even without the help of my girls. So why not enjoy the cleanup too? Have them help you with dishes. What kid doesn’t love playing with water?

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2) Do some crafts

Work on creativity by putting out a box of supplies and letting them do the designing. Some basic things you can include are construction paper, scissors, glue (my girls adore glitter glue), stickers, ribbon, cardboard, stamps, markers, crayons, stencils. It’s another great way to bond with your little one, especially if you resist the urge to interfere with what they create. They may surprise you!
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3) Play together

Yep, a box of Legos kept us going for hours. It activates all kinds of creativity processes in the brain when you let them design their own imaginary world with imaginary characters. And you’d be surprised at the kind of dialog they come up with. But don’t be surprised if you hear your own words and tone of voice mirrored there. It can be scary! But to look at the positive, I’ve found its actually a really great way to analyze myself and see if there aren’t any changes I want to make in the way I speak to my kids.

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4)  Play in the snow!

And of course, every respectable snow day includes a romp in the fresh snow. Sunlight during the day helps regulate sleep mechanisms, so it’s no wonder they fall asleep much better when they’ve been outside during the day. Not to mention the fresh air, the physical activity, and the infinite possibilities for creative play on that bare white canvas of a back yard.

And yes, we really did make lemonade. What do you like to do on a snow day or a sick day? Let us know in the comments. And as always, please like, share and spread the word.

 

 

The screen time conundrum

Festival of Light " Staro Rīga " – Latvia | Nikon D750

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If you’re like me, you worry whether your kids are overdoing the screen time.  You guiltily give in when they beg for youTube just seconds after they finished bingeing on their favorite cartoon for an hour.  You download math apps, or morning routine timers, or video content from jw.org meant to teach spirituality, manners and morals, and hope that the good they get from their screen time outweighs the bad.

But it’s not just the kids.  Your husband crashes on the couch after a long day of work and channel surfs for a while to chill out.  You can’t be parted from your smart phone for more than a few minutes because you might miss a new post on your favorite social media or a like or comment on one of your own posts.  We live in a world dominated by screens whether we like it or not.

If you’re like me you also wonder, what can I do to give my kids the kind of childhood that fosters curiosity, imagination, exploration?  There are countless blogs about the 8 best educational apps or the 10 best parenting books, or the 30 best vacation locations, or the 12 most popular toys.  Don’t get me wrong, I read those and pin them all the time.  But this blog is not about a quick fix, with a catchy photo you can pin. It’s about the kind of drive for life that makes anyone happy, young or old.  The kind of thinking that gets us off our couch and out of our devices and lets us live our life.

Ironically one of those blogs that I pinned to my Pinterest board led me to a book which led me to crystalizing this thought that means so much to me. In the book “The Science of Parenting” by Margot Sunderland, I learned that “the lower brain contains a SEEKING system, one of the seven genetically ingrained systems in the brain. . . In humans, the SEEKING system can activate an appetite for life, an energy to explore the new, and an eagerness to seek out the fruits of the world.  It also stimulates curiosity or intense interest in something and the sustained motivation and directed sense of purpose that help us to achieve our goals. . .The SEEKING system is like a muscle-the more you use it, the more it will work for you.”

Exploration and curiosity can die at any age if we ignore it. Don’t go through life exchanging momentary pleasure for deep seated joy and satisfaction. And this thought extends on into everlasting life.  What will we do for eternity if we don’t have a well developed seeking system?

So what can change this spiral into screen induced laziness?  I have made it a goal to get myself and my kids out of doors at least once a day.  I am trying to stop the endless multitasking going on in my brain and focus on my child, relative, or friend wholly and undividedly when they talk to me.  I need to not stop the littles when they squish in the mud and scatter their dolls and paraphernalia all over the living room.  Shutting their brain off is not worth the momentary peace, quiet, and cleanliness it causes.

Instead of being frustrated and annoyed when they want screen time, I am trying to set clear limits and stick to them.  Then, not only do they get to enjoy their screen time guilt free, so do I!

As for myself, I’m exploring new ideas and creative outlets. This blog for example!  I hope my journey can help readers like you find a new zest for life. Find what makes you happy, and go for it! Stand up and live your life. Just be sure to like and share and comment first 😉

Family photosession, National Park of Gauja, Latvia | Nikon D750

A post shared by Indars Grasbergs -PHOTOGRAPHER (@grasbergsfoto.lv) on