Category Archives: Children

Harming the Environment and Wasting Tax Dollars!

Yesterday, I went hiking with my three boys (8, 5, 1). Since we had the youngest with us we took the Bob stroller and hit it off into the trails around then local highschool. This is the same area where we found Moss Man last fall. I had thought about writing a post about Moss Man but perhaps I’ll just share the video.

No, we didn’t make said Moss Man and we don’t know who did. We just walked through the woods and found him.


Anyways, Moss Man is on the shorter loop (a mile to a mile and a half) which is the route we usually take (the kids do better on shorter hikes). Yesterday I let the boys pick which route we would take and they picked the long loop (about 3-5 miles).  These loops are around the highschool for the Town of Signal Mountain. The trails are located on what’s called Shackleford Ridge and they link in to the Cumberland trail system which links into the Appalachian trail. So, a few wrong turns and you’re on your way from Tennessee to Canada (after 6 months of living on the trail…).

The cool thing about these particular loops that we hike on (at least if you have kids) is that they go around the highschool, middle school, elementary school and the associated sports facilities (4 soccer fields, 3 baseball fields, and two football fields) plus the student and staff parking.  This is great if you’re hiking with kids and may possibly need to find a shortcut back to civilization if a child gets exhausted and wants to call it quits.

Surprise, surprise, the 5 year old for exhausted and on this particular hike we were on the opposite end on the trail system. We found a quick exit to the road and then cut across the baseball fields, through the student parking then the staff parking. Finally, we had to go around the school building itself. There are two ways to go the short way (through grass) or the long way (on the road around the school).

You guessed it we took the grass by this time it is about 5:30 PM and school has been out for about 2 hours. The grass is beautifully landscaped and we turned a corner and low and behold there is a ground level window….wide open. My first thought, probably from 10 years in law enforcement, was wow that’s not very secure…instantly I thought of people climbing in the window and either vandalizing the place or stealing whatever they could grab.

Now, I’ve mentioned in other posts that I have recently completed a M.S. in Environmental Science and as a result my kids and I frequently talk about environmental topics. My oldest son’s first thought (and my second thought) was wow that’s wasting a lot of electricity. This lights appeared to be off in the classroom and the window wide open. We looked around the building a bit more and located two additional windows (these on the second floor). That were also connected to apparently empty classrooms and wide open.

The bottom line is that teachers should be role models for ideal behavior for kids. They should be concerned about safe practices that secure the building and they should do environmentally sound in classroom practices. I hope this was just an isolated incident at my local school and not a national environmental plague and an unnexessary waste of tax dollars. We hike frequently at this location so I plan to pay more careful attention in the future. Hopefully this was an isolated incident but if not I will likely we writing a letter to the board of education. I did not manage to get photos of this event but I will try to remember to next time (if there is a next time).

BOB Strollers – Hiking

Background – Hiking at Brekenridge

One summer we were in Breckenridge hiking, we had everyone there, including the 6 year old and the 3 year old and the 1 year old niece. We arrived and put our things up and immediately hit the trails. Quickly it became apparent that we needed equipment to hike in Colorado with children who were not used to the elevation. This resulted in the rental on tough equipment. Including a hiking backpack and a BOB Sport Utility Single Stroller.

Hiking in Colorado
One of the trails going up the ski slope to a peak above the treeline.

The Problem – Young Children are Hard on the Trail

Young children are hard to handle on the trail. They get worn out at mile three and need to be carried along. This can be exhausting work even for a young healthy man.

The Solution – BOB Stroller

our BOB stroller
BOB Stroller Suspension

As mentioned above we rented a BOB stroller. Now I know you’re thinking -A stroller hiking?- let me assure you the BOB is up to the task. In fact we purchased one online for delivery to our home before we left Brekenridge! This stroller is beast it is made from thick metal to create a sturdy frame. It has oversized wheels that roll over small obstacles with ease and can (with careful maneuvering) even handle some larger obstacles. The tires are reminiscent of mountain bike tires with thick rubber tread that grips the trail like superglue. It has a handbrake to assist with slowing the stroller down on the down hill portions. A nylon rope to attach to your body to prevent the stroller from getting away should you slip. An all weather accessory called the Bob Weather Shield can be purchased separately to protect the little ones from the rain and does the job well. There is even a BOB Sun Shield to keep the sun off (we didn’t buy the sun shield but giving the quality of other BOB products I imagine this accessory does its job superbly. There is even a 2-Child BOB ready for the trail.


BOB stroller tire
The tread,tire and valve stem. Its just like a mountain bike only different, sorry it’s a bit dirty from our gravel driveway.

Conclusion – If you don’t have a BOB get one.

The are awesome, they go anywhere. The accessories we bought worked simple. The seat has a 5 point harness and can recline for child comfort. The 3 year old fell asleep on the trail. The only downside is the price. My recommendation is if you can afford one and you want to hike enough that the cost is worthwhile then a BOB is the best stroller money can buy. We have owned it 2.5 years and its still great. Our newest child (14 months) loves it too. It will last (we store ours indoors) and serve you well.

Camelbak Water Bottles – The Best Bottle for Kids

Background – Hiking in Colorado

We were in Breckenridge a few years ago at one of the condos for some summer hiking. My wife bought a Camelbak Backpack to keep hydrated. I bought a Camelbak Water Bottle. We went hiking and rented a BOB Stroller to push one child one the trails and a Backpack to carry the other child. Very quickly is became apparent that the Camelbak water equipment and the BOB stroller were amazing! Today’s article focuses on the water equipment and the next article will be about the stroller. Oh, hiking in Colorado is amazing but so is hiking in the Appalachian mountains where I live.

Camelbak kids water bottles, replace!wnt straws and replacement mouthpieces
Some replacement mouthpieces, new bottles (with mouthpieces and straws) and a replacement straw and mouthpiece + straw replacements.

The Problem – Kids need to be Hydrated

Well this article isn’t exactly about hiking hydration but it is how we discovered Camelbak gear (they didn’t hike much since I was pushing one and carrying the other…lucky wife). Kids need waterbottles to take to school (and preschool), soccer, baseball, football, playground, backyard, and even in the house. Many water bottles spill, get stepped on and broken, weigh a lot, contain less than desierable chemicals and have numerous other problems. Some previous water bottles include generic sports bottles, aluminum bottles, steel bottles, flasks, canteens and ordinary 20 oz disposable water bottles.

The Solution – Camelbak Water Bottles

Camelbak Kid’s Water Bottle, this product is the king of all water solutions for kids of all ages (even 31 year old husbands). While hiking the first day after getting the Camelbak backpack and the adult water bottles we just had to buy one for each kid. Two years and another child later we now have a dozen of these (and the adult bottles). They have been sent to preschool, elementary school, college, graduate school, work, sports, boating, hiking, biking and everywhere else the five of us go. The youngest (14 months old) started using the bottles by stealing them from his brothers and went straight from a bottle to these (this is not an endorsement of the bottle for a baby, ask your doctor if this is OK, it is only a description of what we did).

This was a few months ago and I am not sure exactly how old he was but this was immediately after a bottle (sippy cup stage). His powerful jaws were able to squeeze the comfortable silicone aparature to allow the wate out. Inside you can set the bottle up two different ways. The first way is with a straw that connects at the underside of the apeaperture of the cup and allows you to suck water from the bottom. The second way is without a straw which allows the cup to be tilted up and drank from like a sports bottle. The baby is able to drink from it using both techniques.

When the lid of the bottles are unscrewed there is a wide mouth opening which allows for easy addition of ice, and easy cleaning. The straw easily slides out of the slot for easy cleaning or replacement and the silicone mouthpiece can also be removed from the lid for cleaning or replacement. The bottles have proven to be very durable (we haven’t tried freezing water in them in the freezer but everything else they seem to endure, including repetitively falling from the top bunk to the hardwood floor. The bottles come in many colors and the kid versions have beautifully fun decorative prints.

The only downside we have found is that the soft silicon mouthpieces are not extremely durable to the knawing of young children. When our middle child was three we had to replace a few mouthpieces because of this and our one year old has destroyed two of them. Fortunately there are cheap replacement mouthpieces and straws that can be purchased. It is always nice to have a few handy for when they become needed.

Camelbak Lid
Inside the Camelbak lid the mouthpiece can be pulled out or a straw can be inserted into the hole.

A word of caution, only use water inside these bottles. If a child loses one (and they will) when it turns up again it will be extremely gross if anything but water was inside.

Conclusion – Camelbak Water Bottles are Awesome!

After using many different water bottles over many years for multiple purposes the best product my family has found are the Camelbak bottles. The backpack is great, the kids bottles are great and the adult bottles are great.

Baby in the Toilet

Background – I was at work

This one afternoon I was at work. Apparently the wife was having a relaxed day.  She was hanging out with our one year old playing and having fun. It was a good break after yesterdays cleaning effort where she bleached the toilet scrubbed the bathtub. washed the mirrors and more. Suddenly her phone rang…who could it be? She darted to the other room to answer it…it was her mother with a quick question. A minute later she walked back to get the baby and guess what she found?


Baby in the Toilet
You never know what might happen when the phone rings and you have children.

The baby had climbed into the toilet and apparently very proud of himself.

The Problem – Baby in the Toilet

The obvious problem is the baby climbed into the toilet….ewwww. Previously we have been having the problem where the baby goes and splashes in the toilet and gets his hands dirty. To solve this we had been very meticulous about keeping the door to both bathrooms shut. This photo is evidence of failure to close the door meticulously enough.  For some reason he is obsessed with the toilet so we have to be very vigilant about keeping the toilet clean and encouraging his older two brothers (8 and 5) to flush every time and keep the doors shut.

The Solution – Baby out of the Toilet

Well the immediate solution, obviously, is to remove the baby from the toilet and wash him off thoroughly…very thoroughly (thank goodness it was clean and bleached yesterday and that he had the sense/luck to not go headfirst). I am looking for more permanent solutions, currently we are very obsessive (not enough apparently) about keeping all bathroom doors closed (you see the result of failure to do so). I am ordering a seat lid lock such as this, Mommy’s Helper Toilet Seat Lid-Lok, hopefully a lock will prevent future problems. The main item of concern when picking out an appropriate seat lid lock will be to ensure that the older brothers can easily lock and unlock the device (we wouldn’t want any accidents).


Well a baby in the toilet is never good. There are products to help with this which I am strongly considering purchasing at this point. Oddly, yesterday I hinted that today’s article would be about behavior in the bathroom and this was not the intended article. Tomorrow the article will be a Sunday Special dealing with Starbucks.