5 Tips For Hiking With Kids

“Their too young. . . it costs too much. . . we have no time!” Excuses that are holding you back from adventuring with your family.  We’ve been there too but we now have at least 3 good reasons why you should dust off your hiking shoes:

  1. Families that exercise together, stay together.
  2. Financially speaking, hiking is the cheapest sport out there. There are plenty of trails that can be done with no special equipment.
  3. Lessons of endurance, quiet, natural healing, can benefit every family member.

Now, before you think that your kids are going to cheer you on in this endeavor, think again!  Here are some responses we’ve had around the Hall household.Teenager commentary

Here are the tips to prepare for any trail with any kid in any season!

  1. This is the time to call in the troops!  Bring kid helpers with you, and I don’t mean grandma!  Baby carriers.  In Nepal, we call them Porters.  In America, uncles or “real” friends. You need people to help with the kids to make the best of experience especially if your outnumbered!
  2. Pack light but efficient.  Women, lets talk:  I know you think that you need rolls of toilet paper, a hairbrush, and extra sunblock for the 2 hour hike, but really, you don’t.  What you need is water (and plenty of it) but keeping your pack as light as possible free’s up hands and keeps complaints down.  Kids need few things to enjoy the trail.

Middle school boy

 

3. Are you just now breaking your kids into hiking?  Pick the trail well.  It’s best to have a trail that has pit stops every couple of miles.  In Nepal, there were tea spots so the kids could have a quick refreshment, bathroom break, and refill the water.  Many trails in U.S. National Parks offer shorter trails that loop back to water refill stations.  These are wise choices for beginning with kids.

4. Consider a guide!

malachi with Cham
Having a guide has increased our learning and happiness in hiking exponentially.  Find one for your next trail.

toddler hikeBut commentary aside, no-one really says “I wish I didn’t go hiking with my kids!” Unless . . .well, you lose one.  Anyways, like that’s going to happen!

Back to the tips!  After scaling the Annapurna’s with 8 small children, hiking the South Rim of Grand Canyon with 3 babies, and trekking more national parks than I can count, I will now call myself an expert (and tired).  The final tip comes from these moments:

5. Be flexible!  Especially in groups.  Some may be ready to take on an extra day but others may be done.  Be willing to change your plans so that the experience is enjoyed by all.  Nature should be healing and challenging.  There are moments to push and moments to back off.  Be wise in choosing your time for each.

With these tips in mind, take on your first challenge and don’t forget to check out the latest apps to assist you on your next journey.

Best Hiking Apps by Atlas and Boots Bloggers

Comment here and tell us your favorite trails with kids and some of your good and bad moments on the trail with kids!

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When It Rains It Pours. . . Or Does It?

Recently circumstances are not as I have wished.  The puppy died suddenly, a disagreement broke out unexpectedly, and stressful demands have been placed in front of me.  I found myself saying “when it rains, it pours.”  Then I begin to think, how do I feel when I say this to myself?  Fearful, apprehensive, and waiting for the worst.  It’s a downward spiral I’ve found in myself before.  It’s these kinds of beliefs that hold us back in life.  Hurdles, pains, and difficult seasons come but they also go.  The fact is that painful events can often put us on alert for more painful events leaving us feeling as if there is some black cloud over our head or a curse.

The truth being that a hard event often leaves me feeling weak.  I expect too much of myself following these kinds of events instead of allowing myself the rest that need.  When I don’t get the silence and rest, everything feels like a burden.  Then the saying fills my head “when it rains it pours.”

These days the media, conversations among friends, and even our favorite TV shows play into this lie.  Bad after bad after bad leaves us waiting for . . well, the bad.  But truth says that there is more good out there then the bad but our minds often cling to the bad intensifying its impact.

world getting better
This info graph shows that most world issues are improving.

So, when I reflect in quiet on my life.  I too realize that I tend to intensify the negative when in reality am surrounded by good.  Difficult seasons come and go, sadness doesn’t stay forever, and there is no curse. Like this info graph, I too am a thumbs up.

Here are several strategies to apply to increase happiness in your life when hard times hit.  As always, I will only share with you the ones that I’ve tried and work.

1. In the immediate, you need calm perspective.  A time to pray, meditate, think straight before you face the world again.

Get alone as soon as possible until you feel a peace and calm.

2. You know who they are.  They know who you are.  You need them and to talk about what’s bothering you.

Get alone as soon as possible until you feel a peace and calm.

3. Something in you will want to pull away, stay home, not pick up the phone but resist the temptation.  This is the time to pull your love ones closer and not push them away.

recover togerther not seperate

4. What you believe is so important during trials.  It’s what comes to surface when you suffer.  You can choose to believe in what you know is best and what you know you need.  Believing is not a feeling but rather choosing to accept.

Most importantly, believe that your life was created for great things and pain is temporary and necessary in that plan.

 

Your Raising Your Kids Where?!

Today I am in the city of Phnom Penh sitting at Starbucks far from my wonderful kids who are being homeschooled by their dad. It’s a nice break but city life isn’t for me anymore. I’ve come to love the country way of life. The way nature invades every moment of our day. Sleeping, eating, and even bathing in open air. Food is simple and spiced naturally. The people work part time and hang out the rest of the time. Some don’t even earn or use money but raise and plant what they need. These kind of people have time and though they experience stress it’s less than city dwellers. So back to my kids! 

They have a lot of teachers out here. Like this Khmer/Bunong man teaching my 6 year old the ways of the jungle. 

Homeschool is a mix of dance, play, study, and helping each other. When visitors come, it’s non existent. But, they meet the requirements and not only that they each excel in their own giftings. 
 Some days we school at home, near waterfalls, in the car, or a hotel room. Some days we serve the poor by helping build water catchment tanks at schools or assisting in teaching English. 

We laugh so much, such joy to learn as a family.  One day my 8 year old daughter had to write down the capitol of Turkey. She asked me and I told her to ask Siri. Later, she did her presentation with the family and announced “the capitol of Turkey is Wikipedia!” 

I guess I’m saying that we are happy. Happiness is a gift from God that comes and goes but for now, I’m choosing to stay in the present and enjoy the happiness He is blessing us with now. 

I sat and watched the tree pictured below. Amazed at how multiple trees wrapped themselves around each other tight which make the trees stronger as they reach up for the sunlight in a dense jungle. Planted near the water, they are set for life. My family is that tree. Beautifully wrapped around each other so each branch can fulfill its life purpose. Planted in the roots of our faith. We feel like a symphony as each member plays in tune with the other.

Let’s see the good in life together! 

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How To Walk In The Room and Be THAT Person!

Convo Starter questions

Are you the kind of person that can walk into a room and instantly everyone knows you.  You crack a joke, and the room breaks out in laughter. The end of the night there’s not a person in the room who doesn’t know you and love you! Yeah, me neither.  But, I have progressed from being the one content to sit in a corner and sip on my tea and pass the evening away to a pretty good socializer who leaves an event with a few new friends.  In my line of work, its important to build relationships, to share lives, and personally I’ve found that life satisfaction comes from relationships.  Good ones that always begins with a stranger.  So how do we come from the hermit in a corner to the one who leaves a party knowing that life long relationships have begun?  Let me share a few of my studies with you from living a life overseas and getting to know many people from different walks of life.

I grew up in a home of IT people.  Brainy guys like my dad and brothers who can build computers from kitchen tools and put together a “mother board” (whatever that is!) with a soldering iron, chips, and a green thing. This is like a home set up for social disasters.  Many conversations were awkward and meeting strangers was uncomfortable.  After leaving home, I realized I had to break free from the social phobia and meet some people, actually remember some names, and get out of my comfort zone.

I’ve come a long way and now look forward to the challenge of getting to know others from different cultures, religions, ways of life and share my life with them.

Making friends in Asia is a blast.  Their lives are so different, interesting, and the way they look at life is very different than my own.  In Southeast Asia, the people have always been open, friendly, and forgiving at our language mistakes.  I love to stop on the side of the road to talk to “ordinary” people and hear about their extraordinary past.  Here are a few examples:

Interesting Random Conversations That Went Deep

  1.  One day, I stopped to talk to a family cooking their evening meal:What did I find?  Stir fried rat.  There didn’t seem to be enough meat to feed a small cat needless to say a family!  The grandfather shared with me how he had survived the civil war during Pol Pot Regime by catching and eating raw rats in the field.  He seemed to say that he felt spoiled to eat it with delicious spices and cooked!  rat cooking
  2. Near our home in East Cambodia there are many rubber tree plantations and ladies such as these who work these plantations and then ride home late at night.  We asked this lady about her work, she was delighted to share and was grateful for her job for the money it brought to support her family.  How many days does she work? 7 days a week.  rubber tree plantations
  3. Whats so unique about this home?  This home is located in a resettlement camp where people were without food, water, and toilets.  Within 2 months of being burned out of their homes, this family began their own business and invested in a pool table.rural pool table

 How did it work out for them?  They now have a nice house and a car because of all the income they made from this business.  Come to find out that during this crisis, people needed to get away from the problems and have a good time.

What do you find in common in these stories?  They are random people I met.  They are not wealthy but their lives have great wisdom to share and learn from.  If you want to know what kind of relationships you need to help you grow in success, then don’t miss this article: 7 Relationships That Will Change Your Life

Here are some tips to start today.  No matter where your at or who you see, initiate conversations. Use the tips on the info graph to go deeper!

The more often you do this, the better you’ll get and think about it, everyday you don’t is a new friendship you miss!

 If you find this blog helpful, please share it on your favorite social media!

7 Relationships That Will Change Your Life!

Living in the jungles and long periods of time in isolation has changed our life and perspective on many things but one greater than all is friendship.  Some of our heroes and those we respect who have accomplished amazing tasks in this world, have relationships with those who believed in them, encouraged them, prayed for them, and even sacrificed to see their goal accomplished.  So how do you meet “those” kind of people.  The answer may not be what you think.  Often in this world, we look for those who are more successful, richer than us, and more powerful because we think that will help us.  But, let us share with you the kind of friendships you should have in your life to help you reach your goals, to bring happiness, to endure with you, to empower you, and encourage you when times get tough.

 Make friends with a lot of people who are much poorer than you.

Why? Because they will teach you about yourself.  I have found that sharing meals, kids playing games together, and talking about life can change my heart, perspective, and fill me with great fullness.  Often these friends can be our greatest cheerleaders in life and often live a life less distracted by material things.

Make friends with those who are accomplishing goals that benefit others more than themselves.

Why? Because if you read anything about happiness, you’ve read that it truly is “better to give than to receive.” Those who live a life giving more, have wisdom to share that only they can understand and explain to you.  They have secrets that you will need to learn.

Make friends with those who are already in a tight knit community.

Why? Because they know how to live life with others and can make the most loyal of all friends.  These are the ones who may bring you in to a group prepared to love and care just as they have for each other.  Don’t instantly label a group as a ‘”click” but feel them out to see if they are welcome to outsiders as yourself.  You may be surprised to find that its their genuine love that binds them together.

Make friends with many other nationalities.

Why? There are more reasons than I can mention in this blog but here are the best three.  Their ideas are likely better than yours (even if you are an American:).  They can probably do it more simply, naturally, and less expensive than you can.  Their perspective can make you better such as Asians teaching me that living life as a community is better than striving alone as an individual.

Make as many friends with those who have suffered much in life.

Why?  “You can’t change the ocean or the weather, no matter how hard you try, so it’s best to learn how to sail in all conditions.”  You may have to go to a nursing home for this one but I challenge you to go today.  Many have suffered through war, depression, poverty, homelessness, addiction, rejection, hunger and many have never suffered, or not yet.  Learn lessons now and if you can “interview” these friends as they may likely be willing and desire for their story to be told.

Make friends with those who are confused, lost, and a bit immoral.

Why? You never know, you may be the one who is a bit confused, lost, and immoral, or judgmental to those who are either way either our hands should always be stretched out.  I have found that deep down we are all a little or a lotta broken and sometimes we need to be reminded of that.

Make friends with God and those who are making friends with God.

Why? People will let you down, even the good people, but only the one who created you can meet all your needs.  Give Him most of your time in love and adoration.

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