Monthly Archives: May 2012

Planning an overnight family bike trip

Today’s post is compliments of Stacy from A Simple Six. Her and her family (of 4 kids) recently took a different kind of weekend vacation, they did an overnight bike trip. I love the idea and have recently been thinking to do something similar with my family. While we’ve been eyeing a simple trail in Point Reyes National Seashore, I love that Stacy’s starting point was her own front yard.

Thanks Stacy for all your great advice on how to plan an overnight family bike trip. Fabulous ideas, can’t wait to put them to use! And as always readers, please feel free to leave a comment with your own advice, experiences or questions.

How do you save money on family vacation travel? Have you seen the price of gasoline!? What about hotels? The frugal solution could be in the form of a single overnight bicycle camping trip (S24O), one where you roll right out of the garage and pitch your tent several miles from home. Some tips for planning your trip: (more…)

The exciting world of Macroinvertebrates

If there was one thing I could suggest you do with your kids this summer, catching aquatic macroinvertebrates would be near the top of my list. Nerdy I know, but in every Nature Center I’ve worked at, this activity has been the favorite of  parents and children alike (well, most parents). It involves water, mud, nets and unearthly looking creatures seldom noticed by humankind.

What’s an aquatic macroinvertebrate you ask? It’s a small water dwelling invertebrate, big enough to be seen without a microscope. Many of these critters are actually juvenile forms of well known adult insects. For example, does the picture to the right look familiar… it’s actually a dragonfly stuck in its awkward teenage years.


  1. Net for each child. This can be as simple as a aquarium net (ideally a long handled one) or as fancy as a ‘real’ aquatic net.
  2. Large shallow plastic tote. Something to dump the contents of your net into so that you can sift through it. We’ve used a variety of containers, whatever you use, just make sure the water/plant/sludge mixture is only about an inch or two deep so that you can look through it easier. (more…)

Road ID Bracelet: Hope it never comes in handy

My husband commutes 16 miles a day by bicycle. Come rain, snow, sleet, hail or most often in Reno, wind, he’s out there pedaling. Most of those miles are busy non-bicycle friendly roads. When we moved here we invested in brightly colored clothes, safety lights, and a life insurance policy.

Most recently Joe added another item to his safety repertoire. A Road ID Bracelet. It’s a bracelet that shows his name, along with phone #’s of people to contact incase of an emergency (and medical info if necessary).  If he’s unconscious along the side of the road I’ll be the second to know about it (after 911 hopefully).

I’m mentioning this because the bracelet is actually really cool, and could make a good (albeit slightly morbid) Fathers Day gift. It’s not only applicable to bikers, but runners or hikers as well. Joe’s also been doing some backcountry trail running. Alone. Sometimes at night. He doesn’t carry his ID when he runs.

Joe tells me the one he has is really quite comfy. I think it’s pretty hip. Just hope it never really comes in handy.

Giant slingshots: Angry birds for the real world.

I recently took on a part time job teaching science to K-7th graders after school.  Today I’m sharing with you one of the activities I did with the fourth through seventh graders:  Giant Slingshots.  Summer is coming and soon-to-be-school-free kids will be scrounging around looking for something to do.  Lest they decide to jump off the roof with bed sheets as parachutes for lack of any other suitable activity (true story), build them a slingshot.

I built this one in under an hour.  It’s not hi-tech, but it doesn’t need to be.  The students were completely captivated by the idea of being The One who slung a ball the farthest down the field.  As a result they listened intently to my (short) lectures on trajectory, velocity, force, mass, and aerodynamics.  I set it up on the grassy field behind the school, and ended up with every kid on the playground standing in line, waiting for a turn, and offering advice on how to get the next ball to go just a little bit further.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Two 10-foot long 2x4s
  • One 6-foot long 2×4 (you’ll have a little bit left over at the end).
  • Six feet of latex tubing.
  • Some tennis balls—the kind that come in a little mesh bag—you’ll need the mesh bag.
  • A little bit of twine—say two feet.
  • Ten screws long enough to go through a 2×4—say 3 or 3 1/2 inches long.
  • Some weights—logs, bricks, or whatever other heavy materials are lying around.


  • A circular saw or handsaw.
  • A drill and two bits: one of a slightly smaller diameter than the 3 inch screws, and one with a Phillips head.

All of these items can be found at your local giant hardware store.  They’ll be confused when you ask for the tubing, but it is there with all the other types of tubing (in my store on the very top shelf). (more…)

Rock Climbing, therapy for kids with ADHD?

I got an email a few weeks ago from a Mom by the name of Sarah. She was seeking advice about outdoor play/activities for children with learning challenges, specifically ADHD. Because I have little to no experience with this kind of thing I invited her to write up her experience in hopes that other parents might have more advice to share than I did.

If you have a child with a learning challenge or special need and have used the outdoors as a tool, we want to hear from you.(See the bottom of Sarah’s article for more specific questions, or add your own thoughts).

Thanks for sharing your story Sarah, I absolutely love this post. I for one think Michael is a pretty lucky kid.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

This is my firstborn, Michael:

His little fetus self hit me in the gut at twelve weeks pregnant and didn’t stop moving the rest of the pregnancy. At twenty weeks, he kicked the TV controls off my belly. After his birth, he screamed for three months straight.

I stopped comparing him to other kids, or asking for help from other moms a year into the adventure. My son was just—different. Tough, independent, confident, and able to take down a full grocery cart in 2.3 seconds. He climbed out of his car seat before other kids even realized they were in one. (P.S. Duct tape around the straps solved this problem for awhile).

Around his third birthday, he was evaluated for early learning disabilities (including autism and ADHD). Twenty minutes into the evaluation he pulled out every toy, had to be told to go back to his seat fifteen times, ran into the door twice, and spun in a circle for three full minutes… Oh and he tried to set some turtles free. Anyways, after all this, the evaluator scrunched up her face and went, “Yeah. It looks like ADHD.” As if to drive this point home, the kid ran into the concrete block wall and bounced off with a huge smile. Then did it again.

One of her suggestions—find a gross motor activity that allows him to practice his missing executive function skills. (more…)

The day my dog started to stink: The effects of pregnancy on ones canine

We have a border collie, red heeler, Australian shepherd mutt. Her name is K-So (technically pronounced Queso if you speak Spanish). We adopted her a year or so before our oldest was born.

I saw her at a local pet adoption extravaganza. She was the only dog not barking. She was malnourished, had a pretty good case of mange, and looked completely miserable. I couldn’t bring myself to leave her there. I took her home and nursed her back to health. She loved me. I was the Alpha and she was happy to be whatever other greek letter I desired her to be.

Like most non-kid couples we treated our dog to all the luxuries you would bestow upon a child. Undivided attention, training, treats, exercise, playtime with other dogs, and car rides in the front seat. She enjoyed her life immensely.

When I became pregnant with our first child she sorta fed off the energy. We were happy, so she was happy. I mean really, this picture, taken a few weeks before Ari was born says it all: Happy, excited and ready to party!

When Ari was born, K-So quickly settled into her new role at the bottom of the totem pole. She took the toddler maulings with grace and patience. I think she understood that I was grateful for her good temper, and that Ari had something other than me to look at once in awhile.

Then I got pregnant with child #2. She seemed to enter a state of insecurity the day she noticed my growing gut. Or maybe her insecurity came from the fact that I all of the sudden found myself totally repulsed by the smell of dog. The more I tried not to be around her so that I didn’t puke, the more she felt the need to follow me. My poor clingy dog was constantly under my feet. Literally. She was a furry yellow stinking shadow. It was dangerous. I couldn’t see my feet, let alone my dog, and I was constantly tripping over her, thus yelling at her, thus reinforcing her feelings of woe. (more…)

Teresa: Staying active in the outdoors while pregnant

Because I couldn’t have an active pregnancy I wanted to interview someone who would know a thing or two about active pregnant women. I decided to ask Teresa Delfin. Not only is she my twitter friend, but she’s also the founder of Mountain Mama Maternity, a clothing company for women who want to maintain their outdoor lifestyle despite their growing bellies. I knew she was the perfect person to ask.

Thanks Teresa for sharing your ideas on staying active in the outdoors during pregnancy, for providing clothing that helps women do just that, and for making me wish I could be one of those active pregnant women…

1. What outdoor activities do you enjoy most when you’re not pregnant?

I’m the classic multi-sport outdoor athlete – the more fun things I can find to do outside the better! I joke with my husband about my “triathlon” days, which is just any that I can squeeze in three or more sports. Since I was in high school, I’ve had a passion for rock climbing, but a good mountain hike with my family is fun, too.

For summer, I’ve picked up SUP (stand-up paddleboard) which is just loads of fun and manages to combine my love for kayaking and surfing. I’m excited to teach my 3-year-old skiing and have hopes of getting him on the slopes yet this spring. For fun and transportation, I enjoy riding bicycles. I have a trusty city bike for getting to coffee dates and shopping, a great mountain bike my husband got me to celebrate finishing my Ph.D., and the road bike I did the AIDS Lifecycle (SF to LA) on a few years ago. (more…)

Getting outside during a hard pregnancy

With my first pregnancy I was the poster child of an active pregnant woman. I recall tele-skiing, hiking, climbing, biking and exercising right up until I gave birth at 41 weeks. I still had leg muscles.  It was fabulous.

I followed a similar course with my second pregnancy.  It was harder to stay active while also taking care of a 2 year old, but I managed to do pretty good until I hit 32 weeks. At that time I started showing signs of pre-term labor and was put on bed rest until my second son was born at 38 weeks.

Then there was this pregnancy…

I spent the first 24 weeks feeling incredibly nauseous; all food sounded terrible and I didn’t sleep well. Consequently there was not a lot of extra energy to go around. I tried to keep exercising a few times a week, as exercise was the only thing that helped with my nausea, but most days it took what little energy I had just to take care of my kids.

When I finally got over the nausea, I had two really great weeks.  I celebrated with an awesome November bike ride. Alas, at 26 weeks I (again) started showing signs of pre-term labor. I was put on “low mobility”. This means walking at a snail’s pace, and as infrequently as possible.  No hiking, no biking, no jogging, no cavorting, no anything vigorous, exciting, or otherwise resembling ‘fun’.  I felt like I’d been grounded for bad behavior. (more…)

Wow, my first modeling gig! And other stuff…

I know I’m technically taking this week off and all, but I had to share two things real quick that are somewhat time sensitive in nature, and that should be documented for posterity’s sake.

1. I got the following email a few days ago from outdoor blogging friend Amelia. She said:

Hi Lindsey, Checking emails real quick and saw the Chaco email with you nice and big and happy!  Congrats…

My first thought was “what is she talking about”? My second thought was “what does she mean by nice and big, did they somehow get a picture of me pregnant”?

I wrote her back admitting I had no idea what she was talking about, so she forwarded me an email from Chaco with this Mothers Day ad (right). Kinda weird to see yourself staring back at you, didn’t see that coming at all. Quite an honor however!

2. I was recently nominated for the Circle of Moms Top Outdoorsy Mom Blogs of 2012. I’m not sure how I got on the list, so thanks to whomever nominated me. It’s an honor to be among some really great bloggers.

If you want to vote for, or any of the other cool mom blogs (you can vote for more than one) please do so here. There is no prize if you win, but the recognition for being near the top of the list would be nice (we’re currently #14). You can vote once every 24 hours until May 7th.


    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