Monthly Archives: April 2012

Welcome to the world little Viv

It’s been my intention for the last few months to take next week (April 30 – May 6) off from the blog in honor of Screen Free Week. Just so happens I now have another reason to take a brief hiatus.

Our little Viviann arrived about a week ago. The birth went quickly and beautifully. In fact I think choosing a name was almost harder than actually giving birth… almost. Everyone is doing really well. Her oldest brother paid her the highest compliment possible when he said “Mom, I think Viv’s even funer than R2” (his R2D2 robot). Little brother is still adjusting right along with the rest of us.

Happy Screen Free and I Had a Baby Week. See you all soon.

Keep moving on the trail: Create a kid friendly map

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has put together a yearly event encouraging children, families, schools and communities to go Screen Free and make changes towards a more active and outdoor lifestyle. This year the event will happen April 30 – May 6th.

Tales of a Mountain Mama has pulled together a group of bloggers (like us) to help celebrate with blog posts (such as this one) aimed at encouraging families to go ‘screen free’ next week. She’s also got a week full of giveaways on her site, you can find out more information about that here.

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While helping plan a father/son backpacking trip last summer, we were brainstorming about ways we could keep our boys (ages 4-6) moving on the trail. What could we do to encourage movement and limit whining…

We thought of the usual things: Plenty of snacks and treats (i.e. trail incentives), take some play breaks, emphasize the ‘big boy’ aspect, be patient etc.

We also brainstormed something far more genius: What about creating a kid friendly map, with pictures of prominent landmarks they could keep an eye out for. This would not only give them something to stay busy with on the trail, but would also incorporate some observation skills, as well as a little introduction to reading a map.

It was worth a try.

I can’t take any credit for the final product. One of the men on the tip ran the trail the week before and took photos, then he and his wife put together the maps. I love how it turned out! The large map was printed out as a 4X6; the way-point pictures were printed out smaller. All were laminated and stuck together with a metal ring.

Here’s a picture of the Map as well as a few way-point pictures.

NOTE: Word on the street is that the 6 year old took to it better than the younger kids, so keep that in mind.

A couple of additional ideas I’d recommend for keeping kids moving on the trail:

Random News Worth Checking Out

I often come across an interesting study, a fabulous article or some other random thing. I typically post such finds on facebook or twitter. But if you tweet and/or facebook like I do (which is not very faithfully) you tend to miss a lot of stuff. Here are 5 things I hope you didn’t miss.

If you have a random blog post or news item that struck you as particularly great, please share in the comments.

1. This post from Creative Star Learning Company has a ton of Earth Day activity ideas, many that correlate with books. This particular post highlights one of my favorite kids’ books called I’m In Charge of Celebrations by Byrd Baylor, but if you scroll down to the bottom of the post there’s about 56 different links to other Earth Day activities.

2. The very title of this article beckoned me to read it, and I was so glad I did! Einstein May Never Have Used Flashcards, but He Probably Built Forts. It’s one of the best articles on outdoor play, imagination and childhood that I’ve read in a long time.

3. Growing a Naturalist: Developing a child’s passion for nature. On of those articles that makes you say “aaaaah”. My favorite quote:

The way to grow a naturalist – someone with a voracious appetite to learn about the wonders of nature and an appreciation for what is found there – requires just two ingredients: unstructured time in natural places and an adult who models respect for nature and enjoys the outdoors.

4. I’ve been scheming a bikepacking trip. But with a new baby on the way, when exactly is that a good idea? I came across this article Babies First Bike Tour: At What Age? I thought it had some good insights, and at times made me sorta laugh.

5. You know what else made me sorta laugh. This video. Gotta get the gear…

Chaco: A love story that began in 2001…

Going for a new tan line. My first pair of chacos over my Teva tan. Circa May 2001.

I like to think the story of how I became a Chaco Ambassador dates back to just past the turn of the century. The year was 2001. Y2K had proved a fluke–my computer still worked as it should.  The stock market hadn’t crashed.  Aliens hadn’t landed.  And I was more than a little disappointed. It was also my last semester of College.  My future, empty, and vast as a future without Y2K catastrophes, awaited.

I was planning a move to a little desert town in south-central Utah by the name of Escalante. I had landed a job on a research crew studying the native bee population in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. I knew the job involved a lot of hiking, backpacking, and observing in extremely hot weather, in a country replete with sand.  So I  purchased a brand new pair of Tevas (my sandal of choice since the late 80’s) to celebrate the occasion.

I packed up my ’85 Corolla with all my belongs.  My hope chest, a 20-gallon blue cooler, sat in the back, nestled between my trusty sleeping bag, a bag of clothes, and a water jug. I set my sparklingly clean new shoes on top of the car, under the kayak mounted on my homemade 2X4 roof rack. I ran into the house to bid adieu to my roommates. And I hit the road!

Somewhere around mile 14 something else hit the road. I saw a foreign object fly off the roof of my car and land smack dab in the middle of the highway. (more…)

Jumping spiders: Why they’re great house guests

Being the daughter of a Biologist we had a revolving door of wild critters living in our house. Reptiles, mammals, birds, and insects of every shape, size, and venomocity.  (yeah, it’s a real word.)  (okay, it’s not, but it should be.) Of course our wild guests typically lived in large glass houses topped with plenty of heavy rocks.  And they usually enjoyed only short stays in our wild animal hotel.  My Mom was grateful.

There were really only two of our pets that I recall my Mom actually enjoying; in fact she even let them sorta go free range around the house. One was a tortoise, the other was a jumping spider.

The jumping spider’s name was Smedly. It enjoyed a status of greatness that Charlotte would probably understand.  I don’t know if Smedly was a boy or a girl.  I never saw offspring or love interests.  I’m not even sure where Smedly lived exactly, but since it was often seen crawling around the kitchen, one can assume ‘home’ was somewhere nearby.  No one was allowed to smash Smedly (like we did the wolf spiders). Smedly was a member of the family.

Because of my Mom I’ve started a similar tradition. We give refuge to several jumping spiders a year, all of which are (of course) named Smedly. When my kids spot one they get excited to show me, and quickly try to usher the newest Smedly into the kitchen.

Why jumping spiders make great house guests: (more…)

Packing for a camping trip: Your ultimate guide

When we had our giveaway a few weeks ago one of the most mentioned camping tips was to make some sort of camping box. A large waterproof tote that holds the majority of your camping supplies. The idea behind such a box is that you always have the bulk of your gear packed and ready to go. I could not agree more.

The problem is that it’s hard to keep ALL your camping gear together all the time (because a lot of stuff gets used for day adventures as well).  Some stuff gets put away between adventures, but some stuff we’ve bought two of; it’s worth it to buy an extra set of supplies and make a kit that ALWAYS stays together.

I’ve already done posts that list out all the items needed to make:

  1. A Mobile kitchen: a bin that houses all our cooking essentials and a few other odds and ends.
  2. Mini Survival kit:  a go-everywhere kit with random survival and medical supplies (although we still also bring a larger first aid kit).

You can also easily make dedicated camping kits for personal hygiene and dog supplies (see lists below).

To make packing the rest of the gear easier, we try to keep most if it together. We turned a corner of our garage, and a corner of our guest room closet into ‘gear closets’.  They house the aforementioned camping kits, as well as our sleeping bags, sleeping pads, tent, tarp, climbing/kayaking gear, backpacks etc. When it’s time to pack, everything is easy to find.

When preparing for a camping trip we throw our mobile kitchen and survival kit in the van and use the checklist below (download a PDF of this Ultimate Camping Checklist here) to gather/remember everything else. (more…)

Vacation in a SylvanSport GO? Yes please.

I’m not typically one to enter contests and giveaways, but when I heard about this I thought it sounded like it might be worth a try and figured others might be interested. I mean really, who wouldn’t want to live out of this (seriously, check out the pictures) for three months: – – – – – – – >

The SylvanSport GO looks like an amazing little contraption that can hold all your camping gear and up to 10 kayaks or 5 bikes, a few surf boards, rock climbing gear, rafting stuff, etc… AND provide a cozy place for you and your family to sleep.

To enter go to their homepage, and in 400 words or less  write about all the crazy adventures you would take in your GO expedition. They also want to know how you would promote your adventure. Blogging? Video? Bragging rights?

The three best essays win a gear package from sponsors like: Yakima, Kelty, Keen, Black Diamond, Wenger, Jackson Kayak, SPOT, Grand Trunk Goods, Orbea, and of course the GO itself for up to three months to live and document your adventure story. The most interesting and well documented story keeps the GO and a bunch of gear.

Contest ends May 31st 2012, but you may want to enter ASAP because each week contestants are automatically entered into weekly giveaways for chances to win prizes.

Change up the ol’ Easter Egg Hunt this year…

The first Easter that I clearly remember involved a basket, some plasticky green fluff, a bunch of chocolate, a candy shaped like the easter bunny, and a book about kittens.  All in a park.

The best Easter I remember involved a car, 15 or so puzzling clues, a compass, a few 7.5 minute maps and a highway map, binoculars, a bottle of water, some plastic eggs, and a picnic in the desert.  Best.  Easter.  Ever.

So fun we did it the next year.  And the next.  It became a tradition. The day before Easter, my mom and dad would drive all around northern Utah leaving plastic eggs hidden in interesting and obscure places.  Three or so eggs at each place, replete with chocolates and jelly beans, and one egg with a ‘clue’ to the next location where eggs and candy could be found.    They’d give us a clue to start with, follow us around for the first few, and then leave us on our own for the last ones.  The last clue would lead us to a place known only to them.  When we’d arrive, exhausted and excited from our morning of treasure-finding, they’d be waiting there with an extravagant picnic lunch.

One year went something like this:

Clue 1: Lq wkh Edfnbdug.  (A little letter-shifting code for:  In the Backyard.)

Clue 2: Look In Between the Ridges of the Arch to Reap Your reward.  (i.e.:  Look In Between the Ridges of the Arch to Reap Your reward; i.e.: LIBRARY).

Clue 3: Drive three blocks east from here.  Turn north.  Drive one block.  Turn north again.  Drive 3.2 miles.  Turn east.  Drive 1 mile.  Flip a u-eey.  Drive 2.6 miles.  Park on the west side.  Commence searching. (more…)

Patricia: Hiking big peaks with little girls

I first heard about Patricia and her daughters Alex and Sage from Adventure Parents.   This trio lives in New Hampshire, and is in the habit of hiking to the tallest peaks around–like, all of the tallest peaks.  When Adventure Parents posted this video on their site, I was instantly awestruck… completely blown away by both Patricia and her adventure-loving daughters..

I’ll also admit to a certain degree of peak-bagging-with-kids envy, because my oldest child (5), despite my best efforts, does not (yet) share my passion for putting peaks in bags (check out question #6 if you experience this same issue).

I had so many questions for her after I watched this video, so I immediately tracked her down and asked if she would be willing to be interviewed. These questions are only the tip of the iceberg, but I have a feeling the rest of my quesitons will be answered when I read her book Up: A Mother and Daughter’s Peakbagging Adventure (more about the book here).

Thanks for doing the interview Patricia. And thanks for inspiring your fellow outsidemoms.

1. What made you (and your girls) decide to start hiking peaks?

In the spring of 2008, I read information about the Four Thousand Footer Club at a scenic parking area off NH’s Route 112.  On a whim, I asked then-5-year-old Alex if she wanted to try hiking one of the “big” mountains.  She immediately responded with a yes.  At that time, Alex was a nonstop bundle of energy and I was curious about how far she’d want to hike.

2. Did you hike as a child?  A young lady? (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

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