Live Wide Open: Finding Peace with the Process of Chronic Disease *Guest Post*

**Today I am so pleased to welcome Becky, whom I have had the pleasure of working with as a Deuter Ambassador for the past few years. Besides a Deuter ninja, she also happens to be a pretty amazing woman….despite her intense struggles. Please welcome her warmly!** 

Live Wide Open: Finding Peace with the Process of Chronic Disease *Guest Post*

I didn’t talk about it much for the longest time. 

For the past 9 years, I’ve battled the downs and unknowns of chronic disease. I have Sjogren’s Syndrome, Hasimoto’s Disease, and Biotoxin illness due to mold. The latter, most likely the cause of the others. For the most part I look fine, but the pages of my story scribe joint pain, eye infections, face rashes, weight gain, and exercise problems due to lack of oxygenation. Not to mention the emotional taunts of guilt, inferiority, and shame. I always felt that if I just exercised more or ate better, I’d feel better and look better. I was afraid deep down that this is 35…fat and slow. And while that holds some bits of truth, the problem was so much deeper than that. My doctors are still working on it and so the saga has continued on for years. 

I’ve always approached my health journey as a balance between accountability and acceptance. There are things that pose constant choice at every meal, every hour I stay late in the office, every time I go to put on my running shoes and want so badly to put them back on the shelf. And then there are things I can’t control like genetics, autoimmune confusion that for unknown reasons has gone haywire, and symptoms that creep in, in whichever sideways times and ways they want. But like most things in life, accountability and acceptance are two things worth keeping on an even teeter.

 

I didn’t talk about it much because I was afraid. 

 

I was afraid of the belief that sick meant being weird and gross. I was afraid of the judgement of not being strong enough, not able enough, not fit enough, not something enough. I was afraid of not being scheduled for work shifts or not invited to adventure with friends. I was afraid of what social media would do to my image as a badass woman in the wild. 

 

But, now I know better.

 

I understand the importance of being completely honest about who I am, because I’ve realized the value in the whole me; the whole struggling, imperfect, beautiful me. I’ve learned to appreciate the experiences that completely crumble me and help me rebuild a slightly better version of myself. 

My adventures have become much more micro these days. Bagging peaks and spending long days on the mountain bike are few and far between. I’ve come to accept that I have a new threshold and it’s not anywhere near the athlete I once was. And I’m learning to find peace with that through this slow and hard process of rebuilding. 

So, with chronic positivity, I truck on with resilience and strength as we uncover new potential ways to crack my case and find remission. In the meantime, I’m chronically able to overcome. I’m chronically able to endure. To progress. To Inspire others who may not feel at their peak either. To chronically love myself even when I’m not at mine. This rocky road has taught me a few things about the long haul and sheesh, I’m so chronically thankful for that.

 

Now I feel confident talking about it, everyone can know. 

 

It’s better this way. I’m thankful to continue my journey of healing with less fear, more sharing, and a greater spray of positivity. I am still a badass woman in the wild and no disease, ever, will take that from me. So, I live wide open with chronic gratitude… and as much strength and peace as I can muster on every given day.

 

Becky is an explorer, creator, do-er, and inspirer. She attributes her love of wilderness to her early days of playing in the forests of New Jersey with her family. Since then, she ventured on to Colorado for school, guided all across the West, rode her bicycle across America, and continues to find as many personal-growth opportunities as possible. She’s currently the Marketing Manager for Deuter backpacks: combining her love of gear, the outdoors, and human connection. She’s a strong believer in creating the life we each dream of.

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Live Wide Open: Finding Peace with the Process of Chronic Disease *Guest Post*

© 2018, Tales of a Mountain Mama. All rights reserved. Republication, in part or entirety, requires a link back to this original post and permission from the author.

Put a Bucket on Your Brain – Why You Need a Helmet

This winter (and every winter), you should be wearing a helmet for any sport that could get your noggin cracked. Ice skating, skiing/boarding, and sledding are the big ones. My kids look at me a little funny when I tell them they don’t need to wear one XC skiing, but maybe they should?!?

I don’t even know why helmets are a hot-button topic. I don’t know why there is any negotiation or question about why you shouldn’t wear one. In my opinion, it’s an across-the-board, no-questions-asked, you wear your helmet  every. single. time. But, I know there are people out there that disagree and think I am

  1. being overly cautious
  2. am promoting something that doesn’t really work anyway
  3. opening the door for people to be MORE reckless just because they think they are invincible with a helmet on

I beg to differ.

Even if YOU are the best skier/boarder/sledder out there, you’re sharing the hill with many people who are not.

Put a Bucket on Your Brain - Why You Need a Helmet

“Increased helmet usage has proven to reduce all head injuries, especially potentially serious head injuries (PSHI). ….while helmet usage increased in the last 10 years, there was a dramatic improvement in the decline of potentially serious head injuries, particularly in concussions. According to the study’s authors, three quarters of all PSHI from skiing or snowboarding are mild concussions, and 90 percent of PSHIs are typically treated and released from hospitals or clinics within four hours. The study concluded that ski and snowboard helmets are extremely effective at preventing skull fractures, and have virtually eliminated scalp lacerations.” Source

So basically, yes, it’s still going to hurt if you bang up your head. But, a helmet DOES reduce the severity of the injury in most cases.

The good news? Every year since NSAA (National Ski Areas Association) starting keeping track (in 2002), there has been a significant increase of the amount of people wearing helmets voluntarily. In 2002, it was about 20% of riders, in 2016, it jumped to 80%.

So what about the little kids??

Put a Bucket on Your Brain - Why You Need a Helmet

While technically, kids’ necks cannot fully support a helmet until they are about a year old, our kids know that without exception they will not be allowed to bike, skate, ski, or sled without one on their head after they reach that age. In fact, we taught our kids almost too well – they are the self-proclaimed helmet police and quickly notice AND point out anyone not wearing theirs. Which has turned into a few embarrassing situations. But, I’ll take that over my kids fighting wearing helmets at all.

I get questions all the time about how to get kids to be good about wearing helmets. While every kid is certainly different, my best advice is that you just don’t teach them any different. From the very first time they are on skis or on a bike, they wear it. The two go hand-in-hand.

Have a stubborn kiddo? Me too (actually, me four). Believe me, I feel your pain.

Let them jazz it up so they think it is fun. Add stickers or covers or whatever it takes. There are lots of companies out there now working very hard to make helmets attractive, if not completely obnoxious, for kids.

Better yet, “monkey see, monkey do”  – Wear YOUR helmet too.  Every time.

Finally, it is also very crucial to point out the importance of a well-fitting helmet.  Here’s how to fit them best:

  1. Take a soft measuring tape and wrap it around your head about 1 inch above your eyebrows and ears. Most helmets are measured in centimeters, so unless you love calculations, measure your head in centimeters. Order a helmet that will fit your head.
  2. Try it on! Once you get it, be sure it actually fits like it should. It should be snug all the way around, but not so tight as to cause discomfort.
  3. Shake it! If you move your head all around and your helmet stays put, it’s a good fit.
  4. Try it on with goggles – there should be no gap between the goggles and the helmet.
  5. Do NOT buy a helmet to “grow into” for kids or a used helmet.

Put a Bucket on Your Brain - Why You Need a Helmet

Bolle Helmets:

This winter our kids are wearing and testing helmets and goggles from Bolle. All their helmets have in-mold construction, a clip to hold on the goggles and a click-to-fit adjustment (that really is possible to adjust with gloves on). The goggles are available in coordinating designs/colors to match the helmets.

For the smallest kids, we recommend their B-Kid helmet (size 49-58 cm) and their AMP goggles. They fit ages ~3-6 (but we think 5 is probably a better fit). The B-Kid helmet has semi-rigid ear pads for ultimate protection. We love that.

B-Lieve Helmet: Also available in that super small, XXS size. Detachable ear pads and warm!

B-Free Helmet: Light, and slightly better ventilation.

All in all, we’ve been super impressed and the kids are staying warm, protected and never complain!

Note: we were hoping the XXS size would fit our 20 month old, but she is still slightly too small for the perfect fit. 


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Put a Bucket on Your Brain - Why You Need a Helmet

© 2018, Tales of a Mountain Mama. All rights reserved. Republication, in part or entirety, requires a link back to this original post and permission from the author.

Winter Gear for Kids 2017/18 – What They’re Wearing!

Every year I like to pull together a round-up of the gear we are using and our thoughts on it. Winter gear for kids is so tough sometimes – it really is essential to have quality gear for happy kids and happy adventures.

This year we are testing a really huge range of gear. As always, I’ll come back and edit this post as the season progresses. Save it, refer to it, and come back to it as needed!

While this post does include wet-weather gear, I have to include a note that the majority of our winter time is dry and coldish. So that is what we know best!

Big thanks to the following brands for trusting us for testing this winter: Oaki, Stonz, Helly Hanson, DucKsday, Muck, Kinco, Columbia, KEEN, Tobe, Obermeyer & Veyo!

Some of these links are affiliates – big thanks for clicking through them to purchase (it helps us out a tiny bit and doesn’t cost you a dime!)

Base Layers:

Winter Gear for Kids 2017/18 - What They're Wearing!

Base layers really are SO important for warmth from the inside out. We’re big fans of wool thanks to their cooling/heating properties which make them ideal for year-round use. But, I also included our favorite poly-pro too (which are awesome when it’s super cold out!)

Winter Gear for Kids 2017/18 - What They're Wearing!

  • Wee Woollies: These are a lighter weight wool, but ideal for most conditions and super soft on the skin. Our kids wear them for base layers and pajamas too. In fact, sometimes we will go days before I realize they haven’t changed them – whoops! Oh and they can be thrown in the washer AND dryer with no issues – laundry queen score!
  • Ella’s Wool: These base layers are slightly thicker than Wee Woollies, but also very soft. I especially love their baby hat – perfect for a tighter fit that won’t pop off.
  • Luvmother: This is a new brand to me, but we really are big fans. They have a full line of kid’s clothing too so you can wear wool as more than just base layers. Our Aha Merino Hoody is great for layering in the fall/winter or on its own in the warmer months too. I’m planning on getting some more of their pieces – they’re darling and functional!
  • Stripes: These are Poly-pro and awesome. They dry much quicker than wool (really almost instantly) and are soft too (though admittedly not as soft as the wool). I think they are slightly warmer too. See our full review here.   GO HERE and use code “mountainmama” for 10% off!Winter Gear for Kids 2017/18 - What They're Wearing!

Socks:

Winter Gear for Kids 2017/18 - What They're Wearing!

  • Polarn O Pyret: My kids are wearing these for the first time this winter and so far I’ve been very impressed. They’re very soft, keep their shape and come in baby baby – age 12. They have a few different wool styles from a very light pair (better for lifestyle) to some thicker pairs we use for skiing, winter hiking, etc. They also carry knee-highs and wool tights. I have never been disappointed with anything from Polarn O. Pyret and the socks are no exception.
  • Farm to Feet: I love these socks for myself and think they are perfect for kids too. And the XS fits a preschooler (about a size toddler 6+). They hold up very very well! Available at Biddle & Bop.
  • Geggamoja: This was recommended to me by Jess over at Biddle & Bop and we are trying them now. They come super tiny, which is perfect because the babies need warm feet too! Available at Biddle & Bop.

Mid Layers:

Winter Gear for Kids 2017/18 - What They're Wearing!

  • Molehill Mountain 4- Way Stretch: These have been the perfect mid layer for the kids this winter. I love that this small companies literally sews their gear in-house too. These are a bit of a looser fit so work best for us as a mid layer, but they can be worn next to skin too (and are super soft on the inside.) Their hoods are perfect for layering too.
  • Ella’s Wool TUBES: Our favorite wool pants for layering. The kids usually wear them over Wee Woollies on super cold days. They roll up easily and are super soft and comfortable! I just wish they came in bigger than a size 8 kids!
  • Obermeyer Ultragear Micro Zip Top: A lightweight fleece top that helps keep the core warm on cold days. The higher neck helps keep the cold out more too!Winter Gear for Kids 2017/18 - What They're Wearing!

Jackets:

Winter Gear for Kids 2017/18 - What They're Wearing!

Winter Gear for Kids 2017/18 - What They're Wearing!

  • Helly Hanson K Shelter Jacket: For older kids or kids that run hot, this shell is great because it lets you layer however you need to under it. It’s also a great all-season jacket and works great for wet snow or torrential downpours. It breathes well, too, which makes all the difference. Finally the adjustable cuffs makes putting mittens/gloves on under it easier and is reflective for safety. Available in a ton of different colors.
  • Helly Hanson K Snowfall INS Jacket: An insulated jacket with a bomber hood, great for the ski hill. This pairs well with their Snowfall INS pant. A place to put your ski pass, great pockets for hauling snacks and reflective for safety. We also love that the bright patches mean we can find him easily, but the rest of the jacket is a neutral color making it not quite as obnoxious off the hill.
  • Obermeyer Sierra Jacket: I continually am so impressed with Obermeyer, especially as a ski brand. This jacket is warm, has an “I-grow” feature to extend the wearability as your child grows and lots of ski extras like mitten clips built into the cuffs. It’s durable too and helps her stand out on the ski slopes (AKA us find her!)
  • Columbia Alpine Action II Jacket: Columbia continues to not disappoint with their ski gear. This jacket is long enough to keep the snow out, especially coupled with the interior powder skirt. I do believe the Omni-Heat reflective dots work and this jacket is another proof of that – J is never cold. This style available for toddlers, girls and men too!
  • Molehill Mountain Down Hooded Jacket: This jacket is one you could sleep in and be super cozy. In fact, I know some people that do (even better? Their down buntings as sleeping bags for wiggly kids!) The hood fits tight and well and it’s puffy and warm. Downsides? No zippers on the pockets and a shorter length means it doesn’t work as well as an outer layer.
  • Therm Snowrider Jacket: This is a new jacket to the snow scene – the company is based out of New Zealand (but you can buy them via Amazon in the states). They’re fantastic for keeping kids warm and dry. We love that it is not super puffy or stiff and allows for great movement for kids. It’s also fully fleece-lined for soft comfort!Winter Gear for Kids 2017/18 - What They're Wearing!

Snow/Rain Pants:

Winter Gear for Kids 2017/18 - What They're Wearing!

  • Helly Hanson Shelter Pants: These are a great year-round pant because they are fully lined and waterproof and still of a medium weight. J wears his while skate skiing or hiking when he doesn’t want bulkier snow pants. Work for snow (layered underneath) or rain!
  • Helly Hanson Snowfall INS Pants: These pair perfectly with the above-mentioned Snowfall INS jacket. While I do love bibs for my kids, we have had no complaints about these at all. They fit over ski boots great and have a durable rubber adjustable stirrup strap to keep them in place, especially when they’re out playing in the snow. Like the jacket, they are reflective for safety.
  • Obermeyer Volt Pant: We have had a pair of Volt pants for a couple years now and they show no wear at all. They are super durable, fit over ski boots very well and are warm without being bulky. Adjustmentable straps and waist for a great fit. It has Obermeyer’s “I grow” system which gives you an additional 2″ on the length when needed. Only downside is they do not have shoulder strap releases, which would make bathroom breaks easier.
  • Snow Dragon: The best budget-friendly snow pants. You can usually find these at Sierra Trading post for under $30. They are warm with a fleece bib, have velcro for easy on and off without having to take off the jacket and do well for a season or two. We find after that they aren’t as waterproof, but great playground pants.
  • Columbia Snowslope Bibs: These are a great basic bib that allows for growth by adjusting the seams (using their “Outgrown Grow System”) and the straps. It’s warm, durable and can easily be passed down to a few kids. Only downside? The shoulder straps don’t release which means for outdoor potty breaks, a lot more layers have to come off.
  • Therm Convertible Snow Pants/Bibs: These are wind and waterproof and, like the Therm jacket (see above), allow for great movement and dry kids. The bibs are removable both by a zip in the back and a front release on the straps. My 6 year old can convert them easily and likes wearing them because they are easy on and off!Winter Gear for Kids 2017/18 - What They're Wearing!

Snow/Rain Full Suits:

Winter Gear for Kids 2017/18 - What They're Wearing!

Winter Gear for Kids 2017/18 - What They're Wearing!

  • TOBE Suit Edus Insulated: This is THE warmest and THE most durable suit for kids we have seen. It’s what we grab for long outdoor days in cold temperatures. TOBE makes suits for snowmobiling too, so they know cold. Only downside? The fleece interior makes it heavy and if my kids know they will be XC skiing or hiking, they opt for something else. I also wish it had an adjustable waist to keep it in place when kids are growing into it.
  • TOBE Ludo Suit Non-Insulated: For an outer layer to keep out the elements, this suit is bomb-proof. It has room for layering, excellent zippers, a great hood and is light. Only issue? I wish there was a waist cinch to get a better fit, just like I mentioned for the Edus. Note: TOBE does make some more budget-friendly suits. While we have not tried them, I trust the brand enough to recommend anything they make!
  • DucKsday Snow Suit: My kids have worn DucKsday for years and years now and the Toddler/K is a new style that Ollie and Stella (the USA retailer) is carrying. It’s warm without being bulky, has reinforced bum and knees and a great hood for extra coverage if needed. I also love that it has stirrups to keep it down over boots. As far as snowsuits are concerned, this one is very lightweight (but warm) and all DucKsday suits have really great hoods.
  • Molehill Mountain Cozy Bunting Suit: This is a perfect for kids that need warmth when you don’t need to worry about them staying dry (it’s not super water proof, though water resistant). It’s fleece lined and has fold over hand and foot cuffs. In fact, the arms are a little on the long side to allow for tucking those hands in! My only gripe is the zipper doesn’t go all the way down a leg so getting them in is a little harder….
  • Columbia Snuggly Bunny Down Bunting: We had a different version of this for J 8 years ago, and this one is even better. The hood stays on well, but allows for baby movement and it’s completely fleece-lined on the head and torso for happy babies! Plus, I love that it zips completely down a leg for easy in and out.Winter Gear for Kids 2017/18 - What They're Wearing!

Boots/Shoes:

Winter Gear for Kids 2017/18 - What They're Wearing!

  • Muck: For neoprene boots, I have come to trust Muck first and foremost. The Hale is a favorite for year-round play with a comfort rating from sub-zero up to 65 degrees F (4 mm neoprene). But for my son with bigger heels, the Element is a much easier on and off boot and is a bit warmer (5 mm neoprene – comfort rated -20 – 50 degrees F). We also have found the Element has slightly better traction.
  • Stonz: While there are a ton of fantastic boots for kids out there, we have had the best luck with Stonz Trek Winter bootz (for sizes toddler 10 – Youth 6). They are super lightweight and incredibly warm (comfort tested by the company to -58 degrees F, by us to -25 degrees F).  Only downfall is that after about 3 seasons, the soles are slightly worn down and don’t have as good of traction. That said, the kids have never complained about them. Note: Stonz also carries the “Scout” boot for smaller kids. It is a good boot, but the opening allows snow in more than I like and my daughters tend to slip in them more than the boys do in the Trek. 
  • Oaki Boots: Oaki now has a full line of winter boots with three different styles – neoprene, velcro close and toggle close. In our opinion, the Toggle are the warmest, the Velcro are a great on and off boot and the Neoprene does very well for the price-point in rain or snow. You’ll notice that Oaki is very budget-friendly and they are growing quickly and adding new designs and styles often.
  • Pediped Grip N Go Rosa Insulated Shoes: When it’s not super cold out or we don’t plan to be out for a very long time in deep snow, I put these on our 18 month old. They have very flexible soles, are easy to walk in and keep her warm (especially coupled with wool socks).
  • Baby Bogs: For new walkers, I have found the Baby Bogs to be the warmest (I always use a thick wool sock with them) and easiest to put on and walk in.Winter Gear for Kids 2017/18 - What They're Wearing! Winter Gear for Kids 2017/18 - What They're Wearing! Winter Gear for Kids 2017/18 - What They're Wearing!

Mittens and Gloves:

Winter Gear for Kids 2017/18 - What They're Wearing!

  • KincoMtn Papa has been fans of Kinco for years and years now for himself, but this year we are getting to try out their kid’s collection. The gloves/mittens range from lightweight work gloves to fully insulated mittens. J (aged 8) says these ones are the warmest he owns (though the leather does get stiff in the cold/wet). They are great for skiing, working or just playing. Our boys love these for shoveling the driveway. Plus, they’re cheap and you’re not heartbroken if they get lost!
  • Stonz Mittz: Warm, keep the snow out and are perfect for layering under on really cold days. The infant mittz are thumb-less and good, though I do wish they were a little more supple for small hands and stuffing them in snowsuits 😉
  • Veyo Mittyz: Our top pick for toddlers. They are thumbless, but with a shape that allows for hand movement. We also love that they are soft on the outside which makes them more pliable in the cold too! Plus, the designs are super cute!Winter Gear for Kids 2017/18 - What They're Wearing!

What are your kids wearing this winter?  Questions about how to keep warm? Feel free to leave us comments!

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Winter Gear for Kids 2017/18 - What They're Wearing!

 

Winter Gear for Kids 2017/18 - What They're Wearing!


© 2018, Tales of a Mountain Mama. All rights reserved. Republication, in part or entirety, requires a link back to this original post and permission from the author.

Giesswein Indoor/Outdoor Shoes for Winter Camping and Cozy Homes

Giesswein Indoor/Outdoor Shoes for Winter Camping and Cozy Homes

There’s something incredibly cozy about winter. To me, it means playing in the snow during the day and snuggling up to a good book or game or kid chaos (call it what you want) when the sun goes down early. There’s a bit of an art to staying warm and comfortable, and once you master […]

Join the 365 Mile Challenge for 2018!

Join the 365 Mile Challenge for 2018!

What happens when over 1,000 people unite to complete one self-propelled mile a day? They create an outdoor movement. We kicked off our inaugural 365 Mile Challenge on January 1, 2017 and hoped we’d get a few hundred people to sign up. But we were blown away. Over 1,000 joined the challenge! Over the past […]

Raising Gamers: Nurture through Nature

Today Robyn Robledo from Nomads with a Purpose welcomes us on the blog. I love her perspective and the fact that she adventures with her 5 kids….which gives me hope that life will be easier with MY 5 as they get older! She also has some pretty stellar Family Adventure Road Trips that you can […]