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The best toys are for outdoor use

toy-tractorKids really need more exercise these days. You will discover way too many obese children around which can affect their health and well being. So, just how can we get little ones to get away from the video games and TVs and go and play out of the house in the sun. The answer is to have a few fun outdoor toys they can enjoy.

How It Was

Growing up, I remember all the fun times I had playing with several of my most loved toys. We had an inflatable swimming pool in the back yard and we enjoyed splashing around in the summer. Too bad we couldn’t put our new air hose reel and air compressor to use back then to quickly inflate it. Even in the chilly weather we were outside having fun with our action toys including He-Man, G.I. Joe, Transformers as well as others. We used to pretend to have war games and have them in the sandpit. My brother and I in addition enjoyed playing on our swing set. Those days, we were rarely indoors.

How It Is

The fact is right now, video games have taken over from the good old-fashioned fun many of us used to have. I was constantly shooing my seven year old son outside to have fun, but I knew he actually would prefer to be indoors having fun with his latest electronic gadget. That’s why I became so delighted after my nephew became really interested in this new Razor 360 three wheeler tricycle. So when he asked for a bike for his birthday, I took advantage of the opportunity. This fast little bike has changed his playing behavior instantly. I’m hearing that these days it is hard to get him inside at all!

One of our twins is somewhat more of a creative person. Much like I experiment with ingredients to attempt to make the world’s best tasting protein shake, she likes to try to make jewelry out of all sorts of different string and beads. Her latest passion is referred to as the Klutz Mini Capsters Jewelry kit and she makes some truly pretty necklaces and rings with it. Still, even she can be tempted outside on a sunny day for a ride on her bike.

Important note about safety:  While it may seem like most accidents involving children happen outside the home, some of the most tragic occur indoors. In the news lately have been more and more instances of kids getting their hands on firearms due to irresponsible gun owners not keeping them properly secured. It’s crucial to always keep guns locked up and away from the curiosity and/or boredom of children. Make sure you get the best gun safe you are able to afford. My husband is a hunter and a safety nut so he probably went a bit overboard with his but that’s ok.

It is necessary for kids to have some balance within their lives. Possessing a good mix of indoor and outdoor toys means that they will obtain the exercise they need and also the mental stimulation required to learn and grow. You can find new toys being released regularly and it is often confusing to know the ones that are best for your son or daughter. I’ve found it is best to purchase my kid’s toys online since I can read through reviews that some other moms and dads have written so as to make a much more informed choice. It normally ends up costing less as well.

Composting 101

compostI’ve always heard about how great it is to start your own compost pile. My husband and I decided that it would actually be a great learning experience for the whole family. The kids really loved getting involved in this one. Again, one of the many benefits of homeschooling.

What is Compost?

Compost is an organic matter, usually garden debris, that has been allowed or encouraged to decay. To be a successful organic gardener, you will want to take advantage of the benefit of using a compost. It is useful in improving fertility and texture of planting beds and is an important constituent of greenhouse and potting soils. Its nutritive qualities depend on the fertilizers and other nutrient-containing materials added to the compost pile as it decomposes.

The value to the average gardener of a composted supply of humus is hard to beat, and most amateur gardeners today compost in some form. Compost to which nutritive elements have been added is used as rotted manure is used; compost that isn’t enriched is used as humus only. The best-quality garden loam for all purposes includes one-third humus. It makes the soil spongy, airy and light, and retentive of moisture. Sandy soils lacking humus allow rainfall to wash the nutritive ingredients down and out, and a clay soil without humus will bake so hard it is almost impervious to water and to the rootlets trying to work their way toward food and moisture.

Anything organic left to the elements will compost (decompose). Leaves, grass clippings, plant tops, straw, old hay, and sod are some of the materials you can use to make compost. Many gardeners have made it a practice to add humus in the form of raw organic materials – weeds, for instance – to the soil without composting them, by digging them into borders and around plantings. One of the best ways of doing this is with a rototiller. For most people, renting one is the best option.

The practice does add humus to the soil, raw organic matter causes soil bacteria to speed up their activities. This robs the soil of nitrogen and often causes the leaves of the growing plants around to yellow. It is better for the plants to remove weeds to the compost heap and return them to the soil when they have become compost. Leaf mold and peat moss are two forms of organic matter that can be added to the soil without composting, as they are already composted. If you plan on doing some landscape improvements to your yard, don’t just think about the great new retaining wall ideas you just saw in Better Homes and Gardens, focus on the basics first. Every home owner should have a good size compost pile in their backyard.

How to Build Your First Compost Pile

There are several methods to build a compost pile. A simple leaf pile, or a series of them located at convenient points around the garden may be encased in 15 ft. or so of snow fencing wired into a circle. In time, about two years or more depending on your weather, the leaves will turn into compost without any effort on your part. Miscellaneous leaves composted provide an excellent source of supplemental potting humus, but little in the way of nutrients. Beech and oak leaves are acid, and after composting are excellent additional humus to place around acid-loving broad-leaved evergreens.

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