A Family That Plays Together Stays Together

Stories / April 10, 2014

By Colleen Scholer, the “Macaroni Kid” lady, www.jeffersoncity.macaronikid.com

Macaroni Kid Lady

Matthew, Madeline, Colleen, Aaron and Emily

When my 10-year-old son Matthew was still a baby, my husband Aaron, who is a pediatrician, asked me to create a document on all the great things to do with kids and families in our community that he could share with other parents. Now as the editor and publisher of the local Macaroni Kid e-newsletter and website for more than three years, I do just that here in Jefferson City. 

Seeking out all the fun things to do in my community is nothing new to me. I am a social person. I love community, connecting people and being part of what is going on around me. I was raised by a mother who taught me early on to seek the local YMCA, church, library and other community organizations when I was new to a town. When I was young, my family did many activities together, including swimming, biking, hiking, skiing and even Jane Fonda workouts in our family room.

When I had Matthew I chose to be a work from home mom. I figured I’d fit in freelance writing assignments on my husband’s day off and during early mornings and evenings. I also naively thought that I’d get lots of work done during our son’s nap times. Matthew though had other plans, choosing instead to only nap for 20 minutes at a time.

Although I was home with him, we did not “stay at home” much. We loved to be around other people, getting out and about in the community and the great outdoors. He was born in November in Maine and we did not let the cold winter deter us from being active. I have photos of Matthew when he was 4-weeks-old and all bundled up in his snowsuit as my husband cut down our Christmas tree. We took him with us for walks in the woods in a front carrier and eventually a backpack. If the sidewalks were clear, my husband or I would bundle him up and walk with him in a stroller and as he grew older we had him biking with us in the comfort of a trailer.

After the heat wave, we hit the Katy Trail. Matthew can now bike completely on his own for long trips and though Emily is off training wheels we enjoy using our trailer bikes for both she and Madeline so that we can travel greater distances. A trailer bike has one wheel and pedals and attaches to an adult bike. Kids can still pedal on their own but the adult in front still has control of balance and steering.

We love our time biking together in the outdoors, a great way to communicate with each other without the distraction of electronic devices.

Richard Louv, one of my favorite authors, has written eight books about the important connection between family, nature and community. He’s even coined a phrase, nature-deficit disorder about our children being more immersed in technology than in nature and the affect it has on them.

In Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, he writes: “We have such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this Earth, and to tell our stories. These are the moments when the world is made whole. In my children’s memories, the adventures we’ve had together in nature will always exist.”

We’re always looking for our next nature adventure and right now we’re training to participate in the Pedaler’s Jamboree, a family-friendly weekend bicycle and musical festival held on May 24-25. The 30-mile bike ride begins in Columbia at Flat Branch Park on the MKT Trail, which connects to the Katy Trail State Park, and ends up in Kemper Park in Boonville. Camping in Kemper Park is free and all your gear is transported from Columbia to Boonville so you don’t have to figure out how to bike with all your stuff. If the ride is too long, there’s a “sag wagon” or you can instead begin your ride at McBaine trailhead and depart from there or from Rocheport. For more information, check out http://www.pedalersjamboree.com/.

If you’re not up for this, plan a ride from the the North Jefferson City trail head to Hartsburg and the family can have lunch at Dotty’s Cafe and relax before heading back.

Here are some tips for biking with kids:

  • always wear a helmet (remember that adults set a good example for kids)
  • take plenty of water and snacks. We have enjoyed using Camelbacks for kids so they can carry their own water on their back and sip from it when needed.
  • take them when they are well rested and when the temperature is comfortable
  • make sure everyone is wearing comfortable clothes and layers so as temperatures change everyone can be comfortable
  • always have a fun destination (like getting ice cream, lunch or looking for something)
  • remember to stop along the way before you, the adult are tired.

Alvin Leifeste

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