Category Archives: Playgrounds

My Three Year Old Is Braver Than Me. And You. And Everyone Else.

When we went on vacation, one of the things I was really looking forward to doing was the Northern Lights Ropes Course. Basically, this is an obstacle course of sorts where you’re walking on swinging bridges, balance beams, tightropes, stairs, etc, all 30+ feet above the ground. I’ve seen a variety of activities like this on TV over the years and the  people who braved these things always seem so proud that they did something out of their comfort zone and I wanted that to be me even though I have the world’s worst balance.

So we get to Wilderness and my mind is made up. I’m going to do the ropes course. My husband thinks I’m nuts and when it gets to be time to do it, Mason wants to do it too. Well, like I said, I have ZERO balance and really wasn’t comfortable with the idea of being in charge of Mason while I was clinging for my life 30 feet above the ground (even though I would be harnessed, I know that wasn’t turning me into an Olympic gymnast in the balance department) so SuperDad elected to go as well.

Knowing we were first timers, a course guide went before Mason to help us get started. Then Mason went and then SuperDad. And you guys? I saw my little 35 pound son, my only child, walking across a rope 30 feet in the air and I almost puked all over. I didn’t even step foot on the first rope before going “Uh uh. No way. NOT going to happen,” I stared for a while and then had the person take my safety gear off so I could go watch my family die have fun.

ropescourse4(This one gives you a better idea how high up above the ground they were)

I got out my camera and start taking pictures – mainly of Mason and the ropes course instructor and a few of my husband, who looked as swooshy as my stomach felt. (I’m doing him a favor and not posting any of those pictures!) To make a long story (slightly) short(er), SuperDad went over three obstacles and then spent the next 15 minutes working his way back to the beginning point and Mason? Well, Mason and the course guide did every obstacle. Some of them multiple times. The guy was FANTASTIC with Mason and let him pick where he wanted to go next and WALKED BACKWARD and held Mason’s hand on the harder stuff.

ropescourse3Occasionally Mason would catch sight of me and call “Hi Mommy!” and give me a big smile and a thumbs up, and then it was back to business.They stayed out there the full half an hour and left no obstacle unturned.

(I’m so bummed this picture is so blurry, but I was still trying not to vomit at this point LOL)


As I walked around to get pictures from a better angle, I saw people everywhere stopping and commenting on my tiny little Mason out there, braver than could be. Fingers pointing, crowds gathering, everyone wanted to watch the little kid going with insane confidence over the course.  It was a sight to behold and I still can’t really believe he did it, especially after we BOTH bailed on him!


So yeah, my (then) 3 year old is MUCH braver than his Mom and Dad.


 *This post was NOT sponsored by Wilderness Resort. They did provide a free one night stay for my family but our time on the ropes course (or lack there of) was entirely my own idea*



Summer Bucket List Review

Fall is officially here (along with temps in the low 30s at night BOOO) so I figured we should review our summer bucket list and see how we did!

Mason’s Summer Bucket List

  • Go swimming at the outdoor pool – we did this just once, which is better than never, but I’d planned on 3-4 times a month. Oops.
  • Go see Thomas the Train in Duluth – didn’t happen. But definitely will next year!
  • Learn to pedal his tricycle – so close, but not quite yet!
  • Go to Irvine Park – nope, didn’t happen
  • Visit a zoo Wilderness Walk will have to do!
  • Eat an ice cream cone – YES!
  • Have several play dates with his buddy A – nope, haven’t seen him since April :o(
  • Meet his new “cousin” in July – YES! Baby Liam is adorable and Mason enjoyed helping me feed him a bottle just a few weeks ago
  • Draw with chalk outside – sidewalk chalk remains unopened.
  • Go out of state – nope
  • Play with his cousin Chloe – nope
  • Learn to use the potty more than once every two months – yes! Dry all day at daycare!
  • Go to a petting zoo – Yes, we hit one at the library, one at the Dairy Breakfast, one at the fair, and one at the pumpkin patch
  • Go down another waterslide – nope
  • Visit the Children’s Museum – another no
  • Go for lots of bike rides – not lots, but a few.
  • Play in a lake/river – he walked in a lake for a few minutes while we were geocaching
  • Get a new furry brother/sister – nope :o(
  • Wear a tank top to show off his Gabba temporary tattoos – totally forgot about this one
  • Make a craft project for the Grandmas – we passed along some daycare crafts, if that counts
  • Dig in the sand with all his sand toys – he played with other people’s toys at the sandbox in a park
  • Go to at least three parades – Yes! We hit five parades!
  • Eat lots of summery foods – lots of strawberries and blueberries, he hates corn on the cob (which is just wrong!)
  • Go on a picnic – nope
  • Go to the fair – yes, we hit our local fair
  • See his Uncle Russ & Aunt Jen – we went to dinner with Uncle Russ last month!
  • Try three new parks/playgrounds  – yes, exactly three

We didn’t do so well at all, did we?? That’s pretty depressing. I think the big problem was that I wrote this list and then never looked at it again – the only things I remembered on it (when I would randomly think about it) were the three new parks and the parades. I guess you can’t really set goals if you never look at them or think about them again, huh??

I’m not going to make a fall bucket list because fall is one of those seasons that doesn’t really make sense to me calendar-wise. With our usual weather here in Northern Wisconsin, fall should run approximately September 5th – October 25th (aka it will be over in another month). By December 21st (the real first day of winter), we’ve already had snow for two months of snow and ice most of the time, so we’re past the wearing sweaters and jumping in leaves and onto cursing the cold and salting our driveways…. Winter, on the other hand, lasts late October to early April, so we’ll have plenty of time to cross things off a Bucket List then!

How about you guys? What did you HOPE to do this summer and how did it pan out? Hopefully not as poorly as my plans! I’d love to hear about it!

This time last year – No post

Two years ago – Mason’s 1st Bonfire / Mason opens his package!

Geocaching 2012

Last week, we took our maiden 2012 geocaching voyage. For those not familiar with it, you can read more here – but a quick summary is people hide containers (ranging in size from keychains to buckets) at various parks and scenic places and you find them using your GPS. Once found, you sign a log book and can trade “treasures” inside, which range from happy meal toys to things with actual value. When we first started years ago, there were only a handful of them within a hundred miles and now there are literally hundreds of them hidden within an hour or so of our home. It’s a great excuse to get outside and the hunts have taken us to some pretty cool places.


Geocaching with a toddler is much harder than geocaching with a baby. With a baby, you can sling them into their preferred baby-wearing method and hike in the woods for hours. Geocaching with a toddler, well, let’s just say one person hunts for the “treasure” while the other person makes sure the toddler doesn’t wander off a bridge/cliff/into a thornbush, or disappear into  the woods to be eaten by a bear.

Mason’s job was the official treasure box opener.

He would also sift through the contents while we signed the log book. Had we brought items to trade, I’m pretty sure he would now be the proud owner of that pearl necklace. LOL

A geocache at a park gave him a welcome play break

Yay for another successful find!

If you’ve ever thought about geocaching, Mason highly recommends it!

This time last year – Mason & Buzz / Happy Bloggiversary! / No More Helmet!

Two Years Ago – Growing! / Changes / First Sleepover

Pleasant Valley Pumpkin Patch Part 2

So if you didn’t see yesterday’s post, on Sunday we spent the day at Pleasant Valley Pumpkin Patch. It was very short on pumpkins (they had maybe a dozen left) but BIG on entertainment for the younger crowd.

I’m pretty sure Mason’s favorite feature was the big race track for under 5. They had everything from Little Tykes cars to scooters and small bikes with training wheels that kids could ride on. Unfortunately, Mason has only gotten the hang of going BACKWARDS in any Flinstone powered ride, so I spent a lot of time pushing him out of the track and out of the path of much faster moving 4 year olds. He was perfectly content to sit on his tractor trike and watch the other kids go by, which caused a few traffic jams!

And then there was the tractor. Mason loved the tractor and wanted to sit on it all day.

I got sick of the tractor much sooner than he did, so this is how we spent the next twenty minutes or so….

I finally got him to go play in the corn maze.


We wrapped up the day with some swinging and headed home.

We’re DEFINITELY heading back to this place next year!

This time last year – Angry with Daycare

Our Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day weekend was a huge success around Casa De Mason. This was the first three day weekend that I’ve had off in over a year (where I wasn’t traveling) and we had a perfect combination of getting things done and enjoying the fall (ick) weather. Unfortunately, SuperDad got called into work on Saturday night, so that put a damper on our family weekend, but it was better than no weekend together at all!

Friday night was the usual hang around the house and relax night. Saturday we did our grocery shopping for the next two weeks and ran errands and then Grandma came over to play for the evening while I started getting more consignment sale stuff ready.

Sunday, we spent the day outside. Mason helped daddy chop wood

And played on his swingset

After it got dark, we had a fire. Mason wasn’t as amused as he was last year and instead of sticking around to get good pictures, he ended up going to sleep.

Monday morning, not only did Mason sleep until 9:30 am (!!!) he didn’t want to get out of his crib

and ended up playing in there for another hour!

When I finally got him up and going, we ran errands and Mason adopted another greyhound.

I also scored probably a hundred free hangers to use for the consignment sale, so that makes me VERY happy (as I had anticipated having to buy them for $3/dozen)

Then we went to a park and played, went home and took a nap, and then I took a nap while Mason and SuperDad hung out.

After supper, I took Mason to yet another park. Sadly to say, it was getting dark by the time we got there (booo!) and was basically entire dark by 8:10. Not looking forward to the days where it’s pitch black by 5:00, no sir-ee.

We got home, and my red cheeked little boy was tuckered out and ready for bed.

Did ya’ll have a good Labor Day weekend?!

This time last year: When Grandma Dresses Me / With 5 more hours….

The Death of Outdoor Playtime?

I’m reading a book called Kaboom, which is about  a man who launched a program that builds playgrounds in disadvantaged areas that really needs them. While I’ve just started it, what I have read so far has really struck a cord with me. According to a study, today’s children are now 6 times more likely to play a video game than ride a bike on a typical day.

Did you just read that!?!? SIX TIMES more likely! As much as that horrifies me, I believe it. We live in a small town – a “safe” town where kids still walk to school and people know at least some of their neighbors by name. Yet, I rarely see kids playing in their front yard anymore. I might see two kids riding their bikes, but it’s rare enough that I think “Hey, there are some kids riding their bikes!” Most of the playgrounds Mason and I visit are ghost towns. I see dozens of trampolines and a handful of swimming pools on my way home from work and I never see anyone jumping or swimming.

I grew up in this town. I put hundreds of miles on my bike (well, somedays it was a horse and other days a motorcycle…) and rollerblades every summer. I spent hours every day playing at the playground. I attempted to play tennis (on the now barren tennis courts) and spent every Friday night playing Hide and Go Seek Tag with a dozen neighbor kids. My mother literally rang a bell went it was time for us to come home for the evening.  It makes me sad to think that Mason won’t have that same childhood.

I was trying to wrap my brain around why things are so different. At first I was like “Ah ha, video games!!” Case in point,  I grew up without video games. We finally got a Gameboy about two years after everyone had grew sick of theirs, but other than that, we never had any sort of video game console.  It seems like that would be the obvious answer, but all of my friends had Nintendos and we had a computer with lots of games, but we still all played outside. I don’t feel like our area is any less safe than it was in the early 90s, so where in the world are the kids???

It’s easy for me to say right now “Mason won’t be one of those kids inside all day in front of the TV and Wii. He’ll be out building forts and riding bikes” but all of those activities are much more fun with friends. I really hope it’s a “I don’t want to play outside because no one else does!” circle that we can break – one kid sees another kid playing outside and soon the whole neighborhood is venturing outside again.

So what do you guys think? Why do kids not play outside anymore? Have video games and the TV just become that addicting? Are parents less likely to let their kids outside (even in “safe” neighborhoods?) If you have kids who are 6+, how much time do they spend outside during the summer? I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this!

This time last year – Sunday in Photos

Mason’s First Jeep Ride

So as you guys all know by now, we basically spend all of our time together these days getting into trouble or going to a playground. Seriously, every single night, we either hit up a playground or SuperDad takes Mason on a bike ride. I have no clue what we’re going to do once it gets 20 degrees below zero again and five feet of snow covers every slide and swing in the area.

The other day, we stopped at the Menards playground that I posted about a while ago and it was awesome to see how much more brave Mason was. He rode on the little kiddie coaster without me holding on to him, he went down the slides by himself, and he really wanted to play on the PowerWheels (much too big for him still!) and in this jeep.

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

This time last year – 4 Month Growth Spurt / 3rd Physical Therapy Appointment