Monthly Archives: May 2011

The Unofficial Double Decker Chariot

My friend Suz posted this on her blog the other day. I laughed and laughed. Then I laughed some more.

Her Rational:
I needed a way to transport two babies to the UPS store, about a half mile away, within an hour’s time. I didn’t really want to carry one and push the other in the stroller, which is what I have done in the past to get to the park. These kids are getting too heavy for that! But I knew if we all walked it would probably take three hours, if we made it at all. So I channeled my grandpa and my mom’s creative spirit and I rigged the Chariot into a double-decker bus. Abby (on top) was thrilled with the whole thing and we made it there and back without incident (unless you count a few cheers out the window of passing vehicles).

Thanks Suz for reminding us that sometimes getting out of the house takes a little… creativity.

Meet OutsideMom Contributor: Olivia

Last week, after frantically finishing up a bunch of contract work (yes, I have a day job), getting stuff together for pre-school and finishing a blog post, I stood up, looked around my office (which had pretty much turned into a toy room) and realized something… When I started this blog I promised myself that it would never cut into my family time, never cause me to shirk my other duties and never, heaven forbid, cut into our outside time. I realized my life was actually getting to that point.

I needed help. And I found it.

Allow me to introduce a new member to the OutsideMom team: Olivia.

I toyed around with a few titles for her, ‘idea-bouncer,’ ‘schedule-maker,’ ‘sanity-checker,’ ‘coolest-girl-ever,’ but in the end I settled on ‘Contributor.’ Olivia will be contributing posts a few times a month.

I wanted to introduce you to Olivia before her first post tomorrow, so asked I her to send me some bullet points to get me going. Her first round of bullet points I found hilarious, and I’m sure were not meant to make it into the final version of the bio, but guess what? It did. Here are her bullet points, and here is me decoding them for you. (more…)

Teaching Children HOW to use Binoculars

Spring is the perfect season for teaching kids the fine art of binoculars. Why? Because there are actually things to see! The songbirds are back, baby ducks are swimming around, the mosquitoes haven’t hatched yet and just about every form of wildlife seems to be more active (they must get spring fever too).

Binoculars can be fun for kids (works best with ages 4 and up) to use, but can also be tricky. Having taken hundreds, if not thousands of kids on binocular walks while working at the Ogden Nature Center I picked up a few tips. Here are some ways you can help your child learn the mechanics of binoculars and have a successful outing: (more…)

Mountain Biking with Kids? Get a Trailer Bike.

Makes mountain biking with kids easier
We debated for a long time over getting a trailer bike. Would we like it? Is it a pain to pull? Does it do well on single track? And most importantly, will Ari like it?

Ari is, how should I say this… cautious? Ok, basically he’s afraid of everything but bugs. He won’t go anywhere near a climbing harness (yet) and up until last week wouldn’t set foot in a water vessel. BUT he has shown an interest in biking. He learned to ride pretty quick and seemed to really enjoy single track on his balance bike. So maybe?

Then our friends posted this video of their daughter (Ari’s age) riding a trail with her Dad. It was all over. We had to have one.

And now I can tell you all the reasons we love OUR trailer bike: (more…)

My Birthday Camp Out. At Best Western?

Last week was my Birthday.

When I turned 30 I started the tradition of spending my birthday camped in a really cool spot. Just about every year we HAPPEN to choose a location within a 100 mile radius of where my best pal Olivia is doing field work. This years destination was the southern portion of Death Valley. The plan was to camp, hike, hang out, cook my birthday cake in a dutch oven, share the recipe with you… It was going to be great.

Then it got cold. And windy. And my kids got sick.

We did make it to Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge to check out the pupfish. We thought that maybe we could find a pocket of calm somewhere around there. Nope. After returning to the van in 60mph winds and with dirt in our eyeballs putting up a tent was deemed impossible. Could we sleep an extra adult in the van? No.

Doesn’t this look like great camping weather? Even K-So (our dog) is squinting!Note: The following galleries are full of cell phone pictures. Pretty sure I jinxed the trip by leaving my camera home. Thankfully I discovered Instagram, the coolest photo app ever.


We ended up in a hotel in Pahrump Nevada. I know. I know! At 33 years old am I finally growing soft? (more…)

Turn your Minivan into an RV. Sort of.

We actually sleep in our minivan quite often. Over the past 5 months I’d say we’ve slept in the van at least 6 times. There are occasions when a tent just isn’t practical. Wind storms, unseasonably cold weather, precipitation, sleeping right off the side of the highway, etc.

Check it out! Looks cozy right?


A couple of tips for sleeping 2 adults, 2 kids and a dog in a minivan: (more…)

Make Your Own Hammock

Hammocks are great for the backyard, camping, backpacking, when your pregnant and on bed rest, or for turning your large capacity vehicle (in our case our minivan) into a camping vessel, more on that in this post.

We make our own hammocks because:

  1. It’s cheap (i.e we can’t afford an ENO).
  2. You can customize the size.
  3. It’s easy!

There are two different methods we have used for making our own hammocks. Hammock 1 involves a sewing machine, Hammock 2 does not. I’ll cover both. No matter which method you choose, both types of hammocks require: (more…)

Bonnie: Raising Outdoor Savvy Kids

I know Bonnie because I know her daughters. I met Liv and Sus while living and working with them in the Grand Staircase. Never have I met women more selfless, self-sufficient, compassionate, strong, capable and outdoor savvy. I wondered how it was possible for two sisters to turn out so utterly amazing. I soon found out.

You should hear the stories Liv and Sus tell of their Mom.  She taught them how to slide down glaciers on the balls of their feet, using a stick as a rudder.  By excusing them from classes for a day of hiking, she reminded them never to let school get in the way of a good education.  She demonstrated the joy of mischievousness when she hid with them, snickering in the pitch black of a lava tube, while other tourists walked by unaware that anyone else was around.

She encouraged confidence by challenging them to jump off of even bigger sand dunes, swim in the even the coldest lakes, and find a way across (or down) even the angriest rivers.  And she taught them to appreciate fully the moment they were in, even as they prepared for what might come.  If you’d ever had the privilege to hearing these stories you would understand why I deemed Bonnie the perfect candidate for an OutsideMom interview.

Thanks for doing the interview Bonnie. Thanks for emphasizing that outdoor time can teach us about living no matter where we find ourselves. Thanks for reminding us of the value of spontaneity and the importance of throwing structure out the window.

Why did you emphasize the outdoors when raising your girls?

Being outside teaches children to see themselves in context. In the built environment of the city, everything natural is controlled. I think children in the city eventually come to believe that control of everything is their right, and even (sadly) their responsibility. It burdens them with an inflated sense of their own importance.

If you think about it, it’s just cruel. In the natural world, they are one part of something bigger. Their individual contribution makes a difference and can change things, but it doesn’t bring down the house if they make a mistake. They are free to play, act, wonder, discover and experiment and to learn the consequences of doing just that. For city kids, the loss of a life is an earth-shattering event.  For a natural kid, it’s part of a never-ending, life-affirming pattern. (more…)

‘Stink Bugs’ – A Low Maintenance Pet

Growing up I always called these critters ‘stink bugs’. I know this is somewhat controversial is some circles (like between me and Joe), but the name makes so much sense! They stick their bums (abdomens) in the air and have the potential to spray stink at you (which easily washes off). Sounds like a stink bug to me. Well, apparently the most politically correct name is a Tenebrionid beetle. There are several different kinds of beetle in the family Tenebrionidae, and they all make pretty good pets.

I know, a stink whatever-you-want-to-call-it doesn’t really sound like much of a pet, but it is. Here’s why: (more…)


    I'm Lindsey. I'm an environmental educator, my husband's a biologist. The outdoors is infused into everything we do; which explains why I'm better at mud pies than home decorating. More About Me

    I don't blog alone! Meet outsidemom contributer Olivia