Is Family Outdoor Recreation Facing Legal Harassment?

Now that summertime is here, I am sure you will want to enjoy the freedom of the great outdoors while participating in recreational activities like hiking, fishing and camping. Of course, some of the most popular sites for inexpensive and safe recreation is at state parks. But are state park rangers chasing away the family fun and the families with their zealous show of authority?

Lately, I have realized that there is no freedom even within the confines of the great outdoors. Why? Because responsible adults are being stopped and questioned as if they were low down criminals by park rangers over seemingly pathetic excuses.

For example, one man was stopped today by an old, grouchy-looking ranger at Scioto Trails State Park as his party of seven got into their cars to leave. This man was asked to show identification, explain why his front tag was in the car front window and not attached to the car, apologize for playing “so-called” loud music when entering the park half an hour earlier, and ultimately had to climb into a dumpster to retrieve his empty water bottle. The reason given by the ranger for such interrogation and lectures was that he had seen the young man begin walking the trail with a bottle of water and didn’t see him carry it back out. Fortunately for this young man, he did not litter as he was being accused of doing, but had put the empty bottle into his girlfriend’s bag until she appropriately discarded it.

Another example happened at Pike Lake State Park when a family consisting of two parents and three prepubescent children was skimming rocks across the empty lake surface. A young ranger stopped them and said that they had to stop having old fashioned fun or be fined. The father said he didn’t know and that his family would stop. Then the ranger said that the reason why was that there was going to be a boat dock built there. [uh?] Two summers later, there still hasn’t been any construction.

One family received a fine after driving their car partway into the grass in order to help their disabled, elderly grandmother reach the only free picnic area. Another family received an invitation to leave after being “too loud” at the swimming area. One couple was questioned by a ranger for having their trunk open while sitting in the car. The reason gave by the ranger was that he was on the lookout for people dumping their home trash into a state park dumpster. Luckily, their trunk was open because their teenage children had retrieved the basketball and didn’t shut it before walking off.

This kind of treatment by rangers to visitors is not uncommon, and it is having an impact on family fun. Some say it is not hurting anything for the proper authorities to be overly concerned with the visitors and their movements. But for many people, having their young child watch as a “policeman” harasses them for no apparent reason does hurt their child’s view of them. After all, don’t we teach our children that policemen are there to catch the bad guy? If you are a good, then you have nothing to fear?

This is the reason that some parents of small children reconsider their weekend plans, . The park’s missing profit from those families probably isn’t enough for the park operators to take notice. Possibly, this behavior scares away those that might come in with drugs and alcohol, but this isn’t proven. So who is the real victim of the ranger’s authority? Our most precious resource-

Current Family Court Laws Harm Parents and Children

Father’s Day is June 18th this year and across the United States, Fathers and children will be celebrating their relationship with each other. For my husband, this is a bittersweet celebration with his kids, since they have to be returned to their mother that evening. We won’t see them again until Wednesday.

We follow a set of guidelines, every other weekend for 48 hours, Wednesdays for 3 hours, alternating holidays, and half of Summer break. Indiana is good enough to lay out their minimum guidelines for divorcing parents. Unfortunately, this is no where near enough time.

My husband is a good father. He tries to get involved in school activities, he goes to see performances when he learns about them, he encourages their interests and he tries hard to help mold them into good people. This is a difficult task for a man who sees his kids, on average, 100 days a year. He is only allowed to see his children for the minimum amount allowed by Indiana because their mother, his ex-wife, feels she should not have to “permit” their father to see them.

She tries to stymie him at every turn, twice keeping the children from programs when she learned he was going to attend. When she learned of his plans to remarry, she made it clear that she was not going to allow the children to attend, despite the children being in the wedding. In the end, their father and I kept the date of our wedding a secret from the kids so that they could attend without fear that their mother was going to keep them away. We paid for it later however. She kept the kids from us for five weeks.

At that point, my husband became fed up and decided to stand up for himself, his kids, and his rights. His initial mistake was a matter of being soft-hearted. He backed away from interactions with his ex-wife because he felt it would be easier on the children. When it became obvious that things weren’t easier on the children and he realized that his ex-wife was taking his distance as an opportunity to tell the children lies and misrepresentations of the truth about their father, he knew it was time to take action. He became informed, he retained a lawyer, and he began to take back his relationship with his children.

In today’s society, almost half of all marriages end in divorce. More and more children come from step-families. However, our court system is still geared towards a time when women stayed at home and cared for the children. They receive more time with the children and they receive a hefty sum of cash. My husband has been ordered to pay over 50% of his salary to his ex-wife in “child support”. And, while I think everyone can agree that money is necessary to raise children, should these children eat at restaurants every week while their father can’t afford food or shelter?

In addition, the child support system is a catch 22. In order to make the money necessary to pay child support, fathers are required to forgo time with their children. This, in turn, raises their child support since they spend less time with the children, requiring them to work even more. In the end, the child support system becomes a punishment for non-custodial parents, relegating them to the status of paycheck instead of parent.

Most mothers will read this and gasp to themselves: “I would never be able to give up custody of my children. I could never spend DAYS away from my

Building an Outdoor Pizza Stove

You got to admit pizza is one of those foods that you can’t just turn away from. Everyone has a pizza that gets them excited. If you are a vegetarian or love meat you can have your perfect pizza. Even people that can’t eat cheese order pizza without it. Pizza is the all American food.

So why not build your own outdoor oven? Of course you can’t figure out a great reason now. Now let’s get your hands dirty and get building. When looking for a good place in your yard make sure the surface is flat. One of the best places is a cement block. You can easily lay down a slab to give yourself a flat surface.

You need to find yourself a source of bricks. Most hardware stores will deliver them to your house. When you have them delivered make sure you get them to place them close to your finished project. Don’t forget this part or it will make the job twice as long. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

When you start laying out dimensions remember you just need to be big enough to fit a pizza. A 36 inch base is more than big enough for the job. Stack your bricks in a square pattern and make sure the base is solid. When you get to about two and a half feet tall you need to build the firebox.

Now make a single layer of your brick stacked on their ends on the outside edge of the back wall of the oven. Leave a space of about 4 bricks along that side. This way the smoke will be able to leave your firebox. Now take a piece of sheet metal and cover that wall with it. Cover the sheet metal with another set of bricks. Make sure you stack them lengthwise. Then place another piece of sheet metal across those brings.

Again then cover the sheet metal with bricks. And boom you have your new oven. It wasn’t that hard. Now get your fire started and start cooking that pizza. I’m sure quickly your neighbors will be able to smell the pizza.

Now it takes some time but once built you will be able to cook wonderful pizza year round. If you are looking to be king of the cooks in your friends an outdoor pizza oven is definitely needed. What else are you going to do with all that space?

The Great Outdoors: Family Fun Outdoors

The great outdoors, can hold a different meaning for anyone who thinks about it. It can bring back memories of great fun times with family and friends, or it can bring you back to a time of great solitude and peace. When you think “great outdoors” do your fondest memories take you to a time of childlike simplicities, or maybe the time you planned and trained for the biggest adventure you have experienced to this point in your life?

For most of us “the great outdoors” probably is a combination of both. It can be as simple as our own back yard, or as thrilling as climbing the highest mountain around! There are many opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors in our country. You can spend a day at a local park picnicking and playing, or you could visit one of many state parks for a time of hiking or fishing. We also have many national parks where you can plan quite a few activities. Whether it is for a day or for many days, I think there are many reasons to get out and enjoy nature. One reason could be for relaxation and peace, another reason could be to challenge yourself to achieve a physical goal. We can also use our great outdoors as an educational experience; this applies no matter what our age might be.

When I think about the many adventures in my life, most of them have involved some kind of outdoor activities. I am very glad that I can say that, because I know that some folks do not get that chance. While there are many memories for me to choose from, I would like to share my memories of an area in Arizona, which is the great state where I live. One of my favorite places to visit is Oak Creek Canyon. While there have been many outings to this place, some of my favorites were when we would take our young daughters for some great family fun. We would of course have to travel some distance to get there, so we would try to enjoy every minute of our time together. Sometimes we would go to a picnic area on the south end of the canyon. There are shaded tables and charcoal grills available to use. There is also a nice grassy area to play tag, or toss a softball around. There are a couple of areas to hike around from this location also.

Another favorite thing to do in Oak Creek Canyon is hunt for blackberries. This is of course limited to the correct time of year. It can be quite a challenge sometimes to beat the crowds. Speaking of crowds the official attraction in Oak Creek Canyon is a place called Slide Rock. This is a natural rock chute that you can slide down in the creek, while very popular, my family and I have never ventured into that part of the canyon.

This leads me to what is probably our favorite activity in Oak Creek Canyon. If you head to the north end of the canyon there are many areas along the creek to hike down and enjoy the kind of peace and beauty that sitting by, or in, a gurgling steam can bring. The sound of the water rustling around the rocks and the wind in the pines has brought many a peaceful moment to our lives. Of course the sound of giggles and laughter from our daughters cannot be beaten.

So if you are looking for a great place to hike, camp, fish, or just relax. I think

Best Purifiers and Humidifiers for Children – How To Choose

There are different types of purifiers and humidifiers available for your children’s room, each one having its advantages and disadvantages. In order to make the right choice, it is important to understand these differences, to know what you want to achieve and of course, the way your children react to the chosen device.

An air humidifier must be chosen considering the size of the room. Each one of them should come with specifications about a maximum surface it can cover. A humidifier using warm air in a small room will definitely increase the temperature. On the other hand, a low-power device in a room that is too large is inefficient, so it will waste energy for nothing. These are also usually the cheapest, but they can be dangerous for children if they put their hands above the hot air current. If you can put it in a safe place where your child can’t reach it, then you can use it with no worries.

When do I need it?

Specialists claim humidifiers are recommended during the summer and winter and in any moment when the humidity in the air is very low. The device is used to regulate the humidity level in a room, and it is an essential accessory for the room of your child. By filtering the air and regulating the humidity, the environment in the baby’s room is a lot cleaner and the air is fresher.

Benefits of air humidifiers

Main benefit of purifiers and humidifiers is that they can be used both during the winter and summer, without changing the temperature in the room. However, using it continuously during the winter might lead to health problems for children. It is why you need to follow the instructions of the manufacturer about installing and positioning the device, and about setting it up for optimal performance and comfort.

It has been proven that babies staying in rooms where the air is purified with an efficient humidifier breathe and sleep better. Moreover, on the long term, they are protected of allergies and dry skin problems.

It is recommended to use distilled water in any humidifier, as they can disperse impurities from the water in the air, which might irritate the lungs of the baby.

Choose a silenced model, as you will want to use them for the whole duration of the night without affecting the baby’s sleep. Moreover, choose a model that shuts down automatically when the water level is too low. This way, you will avoid unwanted accidents. Don’t use flavored water with humidifiers unless you are sure your child does not have any allergy to the substances used.

The best humidifiers are the ones that are able to measure the humidity in the air. This way, you will always know when the humidifier is required and when you need to turn it off. By using it on the long term, you will observe dusts gathers a lot harder on surfaces in the room, and the better ventilation will increase the state of health and mood of your children.…

Summer Safety Tips for Children

For most families, summer means spending more free time outdoors, but for children, summer presents many safety risks. Use these tips to keep kids safe from the top ten summer safety risks.

1. Head Injuries
Activities such as skating, biking and skateboarding require proper protective gear. Children should wear a helmet to prevent head injuries when performing these activities, including using skate shoes. Knee and elbow pads are also effective precautions against injury.

2. Dehydration
Vigorous outdoor play can quickly lead to dehydration. Check on kids throughout the day and serve them cool beverages and cooling, hydrating snacks such as popsicles and fresh fruit.

3. Hot Cars
Kids playing in cars or left unattended in a hot car can quickly suffer severe medical consequences. Keep your car locked and teach kids not to play in the car or go to the car without permission. Make it a habit to always look in the backseat of your car to double check that a child is not left behind.

4. Poison Ivy, Sumac and Oak Plants
Adventurous children may be oblivious to the presence of poison ivy and other hazardous plants. Take measures to eliminate these plants in and near your yard. Teach kids to recognize these plants and avoid contact with the rash-inducing plants. Check out this article to learn how to recognize the symptoms of poison ivy.

5. Cuts, Abrasions and Infection
The carefree frolicking typical of a summer day often leads to scrape, bump or fall. Keep a basic first aid kit handy to properly clean and cover wounds to prevent infections. Neosporin offers a portable spray antiseptic, Neo to Go, that clips on to a key ring.

6. Outdoor Grills
The grilling season is in full swing during summer. Outdoor grills present a hazard to children because a hot grill and a cold grill usually look the same. Set up the grill away from walkways and teach children to stay away from the grill at all times.

7. Hunger and Malnutrition
Without the stability of a school cafeteria, some children do not receive regular meals during the summer vacation. Relying on convenience foods and mindlessly munching on junk foods can also cause malnutrition and weight gain. Check your community for local programs such as day camps that serve free or affordable meals to children. Plan meals carefully to include the proper nutrients and calories required for a growing child. The American Heart Association offers dietary guidelines for children.

8. Fireworks
Playing with fire is never a wise choice, but kids are particularly drawn to fireworks. Keep fireworks away from children and explain the risks to them. When allowing older kids to use sparklers, provide supervision and keep a bucket of water nearby. Here are ten safety tips for celebrating with kids and fireworks.

9. Swimming Pools
Unsupervised pools seem to be a beacon to children, especially if they want to retrieve a toy floating in the pool. Teaching children pool safety, offering proper supervision and installing secure fencing around pools will help decrease the risk of accidents. Check the Consumer Product Safety Commission website for additional tips and information.

10. Sunburn
Children’s skin is more delicate and susceptible to sunburn. Applying sunscreen is an effective precaution, however, it is important to apply sunscreen properly. Try these tips to properly apply sunscreen to your child.

Simple precautions, education and common sense will help your child enjoy summer vacation and outdoor activities without encountering the common pitfalls.

Outdoor Activities for Your Family

The outdoors is a wonderful place to bring your kids. The sunshine alone can put your kids into a better mood. Also it is a great place to wear your kids out. There are so many options to choose from, the choices are endless. You can plan for an outdoor day at a local park or a weekend at a nearby beach. Local parks offer a great deal of entertainment , from simply playing on the equipment that is provided. or you can choose to bring things from home. Parks are wonderful for getting a game of touch football going, or a game of baseball. If you are a dog owner you can play fetch and throw a Frisbee with your canine friend, just remember to keep the park clean and pick up their mess.

If you are looking for a short outdoor trip you can always inhabit the nearest beach for a day of surf, sand and sun. There are all sorts of water activities that you family could engage in from jet skiing to just lying in a raft letting the water fall over you. To finish the day up just pack a picnic basket or order out ahead of time and have dinner by the light of a bonfire. Be sure to pack smores for dessert.

If you are unable to travel to the beach a great option is the nearest water park. These parks always offer a wide variety of family fun options. From floating in a lazy river, baby pools for toddlers, and thrill rides for the ever daring adolescent and every adult that is still a child at heart.

If you want to keep it nature like just hike up to the nearest trail or lake. Be sure to pack bug spray and plenty of water. Kids will love seeing how nature grows and changes. They will be having fun but also getting a little education. Best of all at the end of it they get to take a nice big running jump into the cool water.


For those parents that cannot really get away the back yard can also be a very relaxing outdoor space. Many of the park activities can be accomplished right there in your yard. If relaxing is in your future you could also just be lazy and lay out a blanket and pick out clouds in the sky. So what ever activity you choose to do with your kids, know that there are a wide variety of options available to you and your entire family all you have to do is go out into the great outdoors and enjoy.

Tennessee Outdoors is the Good Life

I may not have much money, but I sure am rich. Yep, living in East Tennessee really proves that the best things in life really are free. Where else can a working class man have access to beautiful lakes, mountains, blue-ribbon trout streams, and prime hunting grounds, all less than an half hour’s drive from the city? Yes, from Chattanooga to Bristol, Tennesseans from all walks of life can claim the good life right in their own backyard. I submit to you, dear reader, but just a few stories about just how good my life is in this wonderful state.

House Mountain, the only true mountain in Knox County, stands proud and stoic in the northeastern part of the county, just outside of Corryton. Over the years, I have taken many long hikes up its steep slopes, my exhausting treks always rewarded with many spectacular views. I’d say my favorite hike has to be when I took my 7-year old nephew Jordan on his first real climb. House Mountain is not exactly a skip through the daisies, so I wasn’t even sure he’d make it all the way. I must say, with each new level bringing an exciting new adventure, it made him want to keep going. The July heat did not discourage him at all; he only stopped once, and that was just for a drink of cold water!

When we made to the summit at 2100 feet (about 1000 feet from the base), I took him to the edge of the North Overlook just so he could appreciate just how far he had hiked. At first, he was nervous about being so close to the edge, but after I held on tight to his hand, he stood there amazed at the beauty of the view as he watched the buzzards riding the updrafts, flying so close that we could even see their eyes. This was a great moment for us both, and he could honestly say he had accomplished something most people would never put forth the effort to do. Yes, as we went from overlook to overlook, gazing into the endless vistas, we knew the good life was all around us!

 

A few weeks ago, my brother-in-law Willis invited me to go out on his boat on the Tennessee River for a little fishing. We knew each other for a couple of years, but never really spent time together, so I guess neither one of us knew what to expect. All we knew about each other is that we liked to fish. I waited to meet him at the Pilot station on Rutledge Pike, and he pulled in around 1:00 that afternoon in his pickup, pulling behind him a very old 14 foot green aluminum boat. As soon as I saw that rustic little dinghy, I knew I was in for a great time! When I got into the truck with him to go to the launch, he looked at me with a big ol’ grin on his face and said to me, “Brother, I ain’t got but this old boat. We’re fixin’ to do some REDNECK fishin’!”
“Brother”, I replied, “IS their any other kind?”

We launched his craft at Three Rivers, a primitive little ramp in the City, right at the junction of the Tennessee, Holston, and French Broad Rivers. The water was smooth and glassy, and the sky bright and clear. We cranked up the little ol’ outboard, and blazed across the water up the Holston, to a little spot he knew under some low hanging Poplar and Cherry branches. We didn’t have

Family Tree (Limerick)


I’m just an old used to be. 
My memories will pass on with me. 
As time fades away, 
And memories decay, 
I’ll be a twig in the old family tree.

The Beauty of Children

If ever there was anything I was certain about, it’s that I’ve raised some pretty amazing kids. But, along the way I’ve also been tested. So testing in fact, that my kids may have thought I needed the professional advice of a psychiatrist or maybe just some medication to take the edge off my insane mood swings.

The good news is I and they, survived childhood, but not without some hilarious stories I intend on sharing with other brain frazzled parents.

The most recent melt down occurred this morning as I was getting ready to take a flight to see my sister in Arizona. I made my list days ago and packed everything neatly into a well organized suitcase. I prepared my wardrobe meticulously making sure I have an outfit for any occasion that might present itself. You know, dinner with the Queen, or cocktails with the Obama’s.

As I dried off from my shower, I reached into the medicine cabinet to retrieve deodorant, only to find that it had vanished into thin air. Perhaps my daughter ran out and forgot to tell me? Perhaps, she borrowed it with the full intention of giving it back and leaving me a note to pick up more? Now, instead of my usual pretty floral underarm scent, I smell something like a sailor with the pungent scent of Old Spice to ward of the nasties.

Now that I’m dried off and dressed, it’s time to perform the daily “hair” miracle. With hair nearly down to my butt, it takes a lot of product to tame my curly locks, so again I reach for my hair gel and discover that I’ve only got a pea sixed amount left. You see, my hair is not only long, but thicker than the ice sheets in Greenland. A pea sized amount of product on this head would tame about half dozen hairs give or take. So then I am forced to use the product I tried last month that is the consistency of sticky glue that never dries. How does my hair look you’re wondering? Well, aside from frizzing out like a 70’s afro, not bad.

Okay, body clean, dressed and hair tended to, I’m off to apply my make-up. You see, make-up is another very important aspect to my self-esteem which over the last ten years has plummeted to negative 100. Face make-up or foundation is necessary to cover up what Mother Nature calls “aging.” On my cheeks is the road map to route 66 in the form of small broken capillaries. They are equally spread across both cheeks and need several layers of make-up t hide them.

I open my make-up bag with all the necessary tools. It organized alphabetically for easy access. I reach in and pull my miracle face cream. It’s tinted in a lovely shade of ivory and matches my skin perfectly. It’s the best cover-up I’ve ever used. A light, but thick face mousse that looks flawless when applied with a make-up sponge. It works so well that nobody would ever guess that my skin isn’t perfect.

I twirl off the lid effortlessly and look down into the small jar and the shock of its contents sends me into a near nervous break-down. The jar is completely empty. Not just empty, but the glass of the car is so clean you’d be hard pressed to say if it ever actually contained make-up.

After deep breathing and a quick prayer to my maker, I calm down and face the truth. “I am going to look like white trash today!” This revelation you’d