Thursday, January 6, 2011

ERGObaby Carrier

Since the weather outside is frigid and I am trying to avoid most indoor germy kid-zones right now (can you blame me??!!), I thought I could discuss some of the products that have made my life as a busy Mom so much easier.  One of the first things that comes to mind is my ERGObaby Carrier.  It has been invaluable in lugging my two kiddos around during their first year and beyond, because let's face it... I grow GIANT babies:)  By FOUR months they were 20lbs. 2oz. and 18lbs. 9.5oz. respectively.  The Baby Bjorn just didn't cut it for me after a while.  I learned about this carrier from some of my favorite baby-wearing Mamas back in Arizona and the second I tried it on with my little chubbykins snug inside I knew I HAD to have it.  The shoulder straps are super padded, but the real secret is in the waist strap.  It places most of your baby's weight on your waist/hips, rather than your shoulders and back.  What a difference that makes!  I have used it for short walks, long hikes, and loved having it in the airport a few times.  It is really easy to get on and off.  The baby can be worn on the front or back, and you can even do a "hip carry" by switching some of the straps around. 

To be fair, I must mention a couple negatives about this carrier.  First, the baby cannot face forward in it.  They'll be facing you no matter how you wear them.  Also, you have to get a special insert for newborns.  It seemed a little awkward and I never tried it out.  I will say, it looks like they have a little bit of a different version on the website from when I got mine 3 years ago.  They also have a few new styles of the carrier.  I just have the original.  The last issue would be the price tag.  One of these puppies will cost you upwards of $105.00.  Some have different features that cost more and they also have organic ones.  Plus any accessories you might need.  But for me, it was well worth the price.  It is a tough, sturdy, washable carrier that I have squeezed every penny out of!  It has allowed me to comfortably tote my babies around when a stroller just wouldn't do.  You can visit their website here.  

  Here we are on a warm day ((sigh)) last fall, picking peaches in Palisade.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pine Ridge Park

To add to my list of "good" parks around town, I'd like to mention Pine Ridge Park.  It is another, maybe lesser known park that we like to frequent for a number of reasons.  First of all, it is a smaller park and for the most part, contained.  I can easily keep and eye on The Boy, unlike some parks where I am constantly circling the playground trying to keep track of him.  The equipment is nice with some unique pieces and there is also a smaller play set for the littler ones.  The second plus to Pine Ridge Park is that there is hardly ever anyone there.  It is almost always quiet and peaceful with maybe another family or two around.  Thirdly, and one of the best perks to this park in my eyes, would be the double, fenced-in tennis courts!  I can send C in there with a soccer ball and he will run and run from one end to the other for as long as I let him.  I have never seen anyone actually playing tennis in there so I feel like it is fair game!  Even my 14 month old crawler-sometimes-walker loves to cruise around in there.  I guess it's just the big, flat open space that lets them feel so free to run and be wild in that they love.

Pine Ridge Park has benches and a couple of picnic tables.  There are also two horseshoe pits down to the left of the park.  This could be a great park to have a family gathering or birthday party at.  However, make certain that everyone uses the bathroom before they come!  Yes, that's right, this park does NOT have restroom.  This gets me every time!  There is one port-o-potty though, kind of down the hill towards the back of the tennis courts.  Thank goodness for that, but it still doesn't make it any more fun to use:(  The lack of a restroom is definitely a big downfall for this park, but it has so much more to offer that it makes it worth the visit.  Just remember to go before hand!!!

Pine Ridge Park is located in the Ridges area of the Redlands, south of town.  This wouldn't be a very convenient stop if you are passing through on I-70.  For those of us who live here, you take Ridges Blvd. south off of Broadway (Hwy 340).  You'll wind your way up to the park for what seems to be about a mile.  There is another park called Duck Pond Park right as you get on Ridges Blvd.  That is not it...keep going!!  You will eventually see Pine Ridge Park on your right hand side.  Click here for Mapquest.        

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Grand Junction Soccer Club

As I have mentioned before, we have a VERY high energy little boy living in our house.  Running, jumping, never stopping?  Yes that's him.  Add in a little dragon fighting and a game he picked up at school he calls "jet pack" (????) and my husband and I sometimes find ourselves staring wide-eyed at each other thinking "WHAT IS GOING ON RIGHT NOW?!?!"  The Boy loves sports too.  Ask him his favorite and he'll list off five different ones.  He just can't wait to get "bigger" so he can play them all.  We have heard that they usually start the kiddos in T-ball and soccer after they turn four, which is next spring for our little guy.  We have been counting down the days until registration for something, ANYTHING that will help him get some of that energy out!

My husband has been involved with the Grand Junction Soccer Club for the last year or so, staffing medical teams for tournaments and the like.  He had another meeting with them a few weeks ago and asked the guy about the youngest age they'll start with kids.  He said as young as three.  I imagine my husband's response went something like this:  "What?!  Three years old you say?  Well, what do you know...we have the perfect little candidate for your program.  Can I please sign him up this VERY instant?!"

Needless to say, we got The Boy signed up and he has since had two "practices".  His age bracket would be considered the U4, with a birthday falling between 8/01/06 and 7/31/07.  This winter session is obviously indoors and I will say the setup is bit cramped.  I can't fit my stroller in there for my 1 year old, so it is kind of hard to chase her around and watch C.  It is located in the back of their office space, which is in a strip mall right by Sam's Club, sort of in a garage or small warehouse type area.  But it's just enough space for a little heard of small children to run around in!

The kids have a 45 minute playtime every week where they have a little free play, work on dribbling and trapping, and do some scrimmaging.  It is quite interesting to watch 3 year olds scrimmage.  They do not yet understand the concept of a "teammate" and are often taking the ball from their own, or scoring in their own goal.  Ooops!  But they are learning, and I know it will get better every time.  C absolutely LOVES his soccer time and starts asking when he gets to go again the second we walk out their door.  His coach, Coach Billy has been really good with the easily distracted group and worked hard to learn their names the first time they met, which I think is great.  I look forward to being involved with the Grand Junction Soccer Club for many years to come!

You can register online for their next sessions, which begin Jan. 3, 2011.  Check out their website for complete information.

The Soccer Stars!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dinosaur Hill

The picture at the top of this blog was taken on top of Dinosaur Hill.  Sometimes I forget how lucky we are to live in this beautiful state of Colorado.  Within minutes we can be on top of some high point, admiring this Grand Valley, with the mighty Colorado River hugged on either side by the lush green it sustains.  At this time of year, the view is a thick vein of stunning orange and yellow leaves that will soon drop into that river and be carried further west.  It will steal your breath away. 

You could drive up into the Colorado National Monument or onto the Grand Mesa to catch a glimpse of this, but one of the quickest and most attainable ways is to simply hike Dinosaur Hill.  For those of us in Fruita, it is just out our front door.  For those in Grand Junction or anyone just passing through, you will want to take Fruita's exit 26 off of I-70, and head South (R. off of I-70 E. or L. off of I-70 W.) through the round-a-bouts onto Hwy. 340.  You will pass McDonald's and the Dinosaur Journey Museum on your right.  Continue until you see Rimrock Adventures/Rodeo (about a mile in) on your left and the entrance for the hike will be your next left.

There is a parking lot with an information board, restrooms and covered picnic tables.  There are 10 points of interest along the trail, as this was an important discovery sight in the area's palaeontological history, but with our little ones along, we just focus on the hike.  It took us just under an hour to complete the mile-long trail, and that's with a baby on my back and moving mostly at a 3 year old's pace.  There are some steep inclines/declines that were a little tricky for him to navigate, but it's definitely doable.  It is a great trail to get some exercise on if you can move quickly, or a great place to stretch and get some fresh air if you are traveling through the area and need a break.

I would absolutely recommend good, sturdy shoes, water, and also layers, as it can be hot and or windy on the exposed sides.  There are two covered benches at the top to enjoy the view or eat lunch at, or, as I mentioned earlier, covered picnic tables in the parking lot.

This is a fun, and even informative hike, that I really need to remember to tackle more often!

Have fun and enjoy the view!!!

                                                Looking NE off Dinosaur Hill in early November.      

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Rocket Park

I wasn't sure if I wanted to include parks in my reviews as it seemed a little unnecessary when there is usually a park just around the corner from wherever you are at any given time. However, as I've thought about it more, there really are certain criteria that might make one a "good" park to visit, and another one you'd might like to pass on. I will just begin with some of the parks that we like to frequent around the valley. Most of them are probably familiar to you if you have lived here for any amount of time, so I will have to get a little more adventurous in discovering some of those lesser known places! Please let me know if you have any favorite parks, especially out in the Palisade area, as we don't venture over that way too often.

The first park I will discuss actually holds a special place in my heart as my husband and I, even before we were married, would go and toss the Frisbee or football here. It is Rocket Park, at 26th St. and Orchard Ave. I always think it's so crazy when I bring my kids to a place we used to hang out at before they were around! Rocket Park just recently received a huge makeover that has made the equipment much more kid friendly. The equipment is all new, there is a large expanse of grass to run and play ball in, picnic tables and lots of big shade trees to eat lunch under. There are restrooms available too. My three year old loves this park.

Now the downside to this park is that it does have a lot of large, complicated pieces of equipment, so it is hard to keep track of your kids sometimes. Definitely not a sit-and-watch type of park. Also, it is flanked by a busy road and has side streets on all sides, so if you have a wanderer... beware!

Overall, a great park for it's nice, new equipment, grass, shade and on-site bathrooms.

You can get directions here, but please note that it is still under it's original name, Melrose Park, on Mapquest.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Museum of the West

To finish out my reviews (see 2 previous posts) on our three-part Museum of Western Colorado membership, we visited the Museum of the West in downtown Grand Junction. The museum is home to a wonderful collection of Western Colorado's history, they say dating back a thousand years. From the Native Americans, the pioneer days and beyond, there is a lot to see, read and even experience. I would have loved to spend some time meandering through, picking up interesting facts that I never knew about the city I call home. BUT with a three year old and a baby in tow, I barely had a second to figure out what each exhibit was even about!

Verdict: this is not the best place for young kids to visit. I knew there was an airplane exhibit and a covered wagon you could sit in, that sounded fun. I told The Boy about those and as soon as we entered the building all I heard was "where's the airplane, where's the airplane, Mom?!" We eventually found the airplane and the wagon, and they were fun for about one minute. They both have a button you can push for sound effects, but nothing too exciting. There was an old fire engine, and a mining tunnel to walk through, but C didn't like how dark it was inside the tunnel. Those were the only kid-worthy exhibits as far as we were concerned.

I will say, the most exciting part of our visit was getting to climb the stairs to the top of their observation tower. I think it was 125 feet off the ground and you have amazing views of the whole valley. We rode the elevator up and then you have to climb the last 2 flights of stairs to the top. There is a picnic table where you can sit and enjoy the view.

Overall, I would not recommend this stop for the little guys. Even with our membership, I don't think I'd bring the kids back here any time soon. Adults will get so much more out of this one!

Click here for their website to learn more.

The Cessna airplane exhibit

Outside the mine tunnel.

Up on the observation tower.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Cross Orchards

As I mentioned in my last post, we have a 3-part membership to Dinosaur Journey, Cross Orchards, and Museum of the West. Yesterday we stopped by Cross Orchards, an old apple orchard turned historic site. This was our second visit, and a different experience from our first.

The first time we went, we went on the "tour". They have sweet volunteers, dressed in period clothing who can tell you all about the farm. I'm glad we did the tour (well, at least part of it), because I was able to learn a little about the place. However, my 3 year old was not interested in the least about apple orchards or how they picked and packaged them way back when. He was anxious to see the animals and I felt a little rude as we were rushing our tour guide along.

The guide was very understanding and skipped a few highlights to get us to the animals (there was a pig, calf, and chickens). We got to feed the pig some weeds, that was fun! An unexpected highlight for The Boy was the wood shop, where our guide hand-makes old wooden toys. We got to try some of them out, and they were also available for purchase.

For this last visit, we just kind of wandered around on our own. Unfortunately there were only chickens to see this time, and no one was in the wood shop. But it was nice to go at our own pace.

The farm is quite large and would be a great place to bring out of town friends/relatives who enjoy history and antiques, as they have an expansive collection. There is an old box car train to look in as well. I saw picnic tables around, so I suppose it would be okay to bring a lunch. There is also a cute little gift shop.

I would say this is better suited for adults and older children who are interested in the history here. I wouldn't pay to bring your 3 year old, but if you already have a membership, go ahead and check it out:) Remember, Cross Orchards is only open seasonally, April through October.

Click here to visit their website.

Connor at the entrance.

They still have apple trees around.

Where they used to box the apples.

Playing in the wood shop.