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On a recent "snow day" (I think there was a light dusting), the children and I hatched a plan to have a picnic on the front porch on the sofa bed.  We acquired it from our neighbor who recently moved and it's out there waiting until Mike's travel schedule permits moving it.  Anyway, I covered it with blankets, Willow made peanut butter sandwiches, and I brought out my dad's backpacking stove.  I thought it would be fun for the children to see it work and make a pot of the Original Backpacking Food, ramen.

Our GirlLittle did I know, or maybe I forgot, that the stove would have a little trouble working in the cold.  It took forty minutes to get a pot of soup out of that little stove.  Oh, well, Roan was fascinated with the whole process and Laurel was happy to be trapped on the front porch while it sleeted.  We were all more than glad that Willow had made sandwiches to help us wait.  We did stay warm and that was the important part.

I feel like I've gotten into a good place with dressing the children to be warm, inside and outside.  It seems almost silly to say that, but anyone who has young children knows it can be hard to keep them clothed and warm.  I have had to put strict rules in place about dressing up, mainly for Willow and her love for play silks, to ensure that children have enough clothes on at all times.  Just making the boundary and holding it has made a big difference.  I would desire, as all mothers would, that their energy go to growing and playing instead of keeping warm.  Let me use my energy for that.

This year, I've done a combination of wool and fleece clothing, striking a balance between frugality and quality (for the most part).  Here's what works at our house:

  • Cosilana wool baby leggings: These are wonderful.  I got two pairs when Laurel was very little and they still fit.  They are very soft and easy to care for.  One pair got munched on by moths, so I learned a lesson about those zippered bags they come in.

  • Wool undershirts: These are ones I made for Roan using jersey from Nature's Fabrics.  They are not the softest and a few are moth-eaten, but they make a big difference for keeping Laurel, the all-terrain baby, warm.  I really want to get some for Roan when we get our tax refund.  Willow wears cotton tank tops, but I might be able to find some wool ones that are pretty and soft enough for her.

  • Simple fleece jackets or pullovers: Roan and Willow each have one.  His came from Walmart and Willow's is a refashioned Woolrich fleece that used to be mine.

  • Windproof fleece: We got these from Walmart (hey, I can walk there) for Roan and Willow--their expedition jackets.  They're waterproof and windproof--the biggest concern here most of the time.  These, over the fleeces or sweaters, work very well in milder weather.  They have parkas for colder weather and snow play.

  • Long johns or tights under pants: This is very easy and we do this numerous times a week.  Long johns have been easy to find a Goodwill and yard sales.  Willow often does it on her own and Roan's routine is that he always wears long johns.  Always.  He prefers to go without socks or slippers, so this is my compromise.

  • Hand knit hats with ear flaps: My favorite pattern is the Elf Cap, for which I seem to have acquired a bit of a reputation.  Mike has been asked why our children always have hats with points on the front.  Well, because they are warm!  Roan's ears get cold super fast, so I must keep them covered.  I've been thinking of knitting one for me.

  • Scarves: No brainer here, hand knitted.  Good for windy days.

  • Ruskovilla Wool Hood: This was Laurel's birthday gift from my grandmother.  She wears it a lot, usually under a pilot cap.  I like it as a wind-proofing layer, along with the increased coverage on her face.

  • SmartWool Socks: The children each got a long pair from Mike's family for Christmas.  Laurel wears an old pair of my short ones as mittens.  They're they only thing she doesn't try to remove, but she's also figured out how to use her hands with them on.

  • Power Mittens: This is what the children call them.  They also have handknit mittens for dry or mild days.  I have come to take keeping hands warm very seriously after we had some little fingers get so cold I thought it best to run them under cold water.  Willow wears Squall Mittens from Land's End and Roan wears a pair of toddler gauntlet mittens I got from Walmart.  That place can have some very good basic items if you are choosy.

  • Waterproof Overalls: Fleece-lined ones, like we have, seem to be hard to come by.  I picked up two pairs when a Lifeways store was going out of business, along with some unlined rain pants.  Laurel wears hers almost every time she goes outside.  Roan wears his most of the time.  Willow and Roan wear Hanna overalls in big snow.  I had gotten some cheap (plain and simple) ones for Willow from Zulily last year and they are worthless.  We use those for dry days.

  • Boots, of course: Roan wears Willow's old pink ones without a second thought.  Willow wears some super-warm rubber boots I found at Walmart last year.  Laurel wears Willow's baby boots, as did Roan before her.  She is the most adventurous child.  Where the others were paralized in cold-weather gear, she is a force to be reckoned with.

  • Calendula Weather Protection Cream: We use this before going outside to guard against windburn.  It soaks in easily.  It's my preferred face cream for the children, in general.  I love the smell.

And here you go, our very time-intensive pot of soup, that never quite came to a boil:

Forty Minute Ramen


( 8 trees — Plant a Forest )
Feb. 1st, 2015 10:34 pm (UTC)
Did you ever read Are So Happy, by Kyrie Mead? It was a lovely, Waldorf-inspired blog by a woman local-ish to me, and we've kept up through other avenues. Anyway, she did a series on warmth and I literally JUST re-read her post on dressing warmly right before I read yours :) So many good ideas from both of you! I also just ordered two Hanna Andersson organic cotton pilot caps for the new baby, since he or she will be born in summer and I think they'd be better in a non-handknit.

Keeping my children warm has become second nature, but it was not something I ever really even thought of before James was a toddler. I can't believe how many barefoot and bare-headed pictures there are of poor baby James. There was a preemie churched today (first time they come to church, at 40 days) with bare little feet and it made me squirmy :) I mainly use the Little Turtle Knits Pilot cap (I'm working on #7 and #8 right now), but I've been wanting to try some others so I may try out that Elf Cap :)
Feb. 2nd, 2015 11:01 am (UTC)
I did read that blog, but not long before it was taken down. Do you think you could send me the series? I'm ranger brandy at gmail.

I wince at hatless and bald babies. Cover them up! The Elf Cap does require some improvisation at the very top, but it makes a good hat.
Amy Vh
Feb. 2nd, 2015 01:36 am (UTC)
What a great idea for an outdoor picnic...I should see if I could get an actual fire going and do this! :)
Feb. 2nd, 2015 11:02 am (UTC)
I think I may try to make it an annual tradition--make some good memories. :-)
Feb. 2nd, 2015 04:40 am (UTC)
And that coat Laurel has on is adorable!

My favorite hat to knit at the moment is this: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/garter-ear-flap-hat. It stays on well for a hat with no ties, and mine all hate ties. It really covers the ears, too.
Feb. 2nd, 2015 11:04 am (UTC)
It's a great coat, feels very solid and fits a long time. Roan still sneaks it on and we've had it three years. Hanna offers them in the Fall.

Willow doesn't do ties much any more, but she probably should. It might help her to stay warmer. I found some sweet blogs through the pattern link. :-) Thanks!
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 2nd, 2015 08:55 pm (UTC)
Yes, I love that phrase. :-) I met someone recently who used to teach elementary school and she whole-heartedly agreed that time outside was essential for children, in numerous ways. How did you address the topic of clothing and warmth?
( 8 trees — Plant a Forest )

A Blessed Wilderness

It was just like being in heaven, being in there. In those days there was no road. The park was all a blessed wilderness. I have often thought what a wonderful people we would have been if we had wanted to keep it that way.

~Adolph Murie, biologist, on Denali


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