Monthly Archives: July 2012

Taking a lesson from Olympic athletes: how to lose gracefully when you’re eight

The Olympics are here! I love the Olympics—I like seeing people be the very best at something. It makes me feel good—happy to be a human. Each time they come around I decide that these are my favorite—last winter I decided winter Olympics were the best of all… now I’m thinking it’s summer.

When I was little my mom and a neighbor threw an Olympics for us. We had gymnastics, choreographed swimming, and running events. We were told about the Olympics a week in advance so we had time to ‘train’ and prepare our astonishing feats of physical prowess. The neighbor’s daughter and I prepared a perfectly choreographed swim routine, competing against the other ‘team’ of my sister and her sister. Our two moms watched our final performances and rated us on a scale of one to ten. Then they handed out medals, made from canning lids wrapped in tinfoil, and with a hole punched through for the ribbon. I still have them.

I also remember not winning. The disappointment and sense of something being wrong with the world when my little sister beat me at gymnastics (note my silver medal). I remember crying and pouting… and I remember my fellow eight-year old Olympians doing the same thing when they lost. Losing is hard when you’re small—heck it’s still hard for me. But it is an important skill to learn. (more…)

Christmas ornaments grow in July

I know it’s not even close to Christmas (despite what Mountain Mama would have you thinking last week), but none-the-less there’s something Christmas related that has to be discussed this time of year: Christmas ornaments. Specifically ornaments made from flowers, because NOW is the time to be collecting your future Christmas Tree Baubles.

This idea comes from fellow OutsideMom Heather in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It’s an ornament she makes out of a flower known as Queen Anne’s Lace (or wild carrot).

It’s the perfect ornament because it looks so much like a snow flake. And they’re beautiful! It blooms this time of year and can be found almost everywhere in the US and Canada. I happened to notice last week that it’s flowering in the Sierras, so I collected some.

Here’s how to make your ornament:

1. Take a hike.

2. Collect your flowers. Queen Anne’s Lace is the best option, but you can also try Cow Parsnip (beautiful name isn’t it). Collect lots, they’re fragile so you’ll want to make plenty incase they meet an untimely death. (more…)

The coolest outdoor family bloggers I’ve ‘met’

I know it’s kind of taboo to say that you’ve ‘met someone online’. I never thought I’d say that. But the truth is I’ve met whole families online! Really inspiring families that deserve some recognition for all the work they put into their blogs. Here’s a list (in no particular order) of some of the coolest families I’ve had the privilege of ‘meeting’.

Do you know of more? Leave them in the comments!

Brave Ski Mom
Family skiing tips, unbiased resort and mountain reviews, off-season biking and hiking. We’re a western Colorado family that has seen it all and done a lot. I don’t just share our adventures. I provide information to help you fuel your own adventure — from skiing to parenting.

Tales of a Mountain Mama
Tales of a Mountain Mama (Family) aims to help inspire families to get outdoors and adventure, even with young children. We share our own stories and tips and feature weekly guest bloggers and experts to round out our own knowledge and experience. Watch for a diverse make-up of honest gear reviews and lots of giveaways!

The Kid Project
As a family, we want to live an adventure together. We want to play together. We want to live life and grow together. Our goal is to inspire families to get outdoors together, to provide gear reviews [for better or worse], family-friendly locations, posts/interviews from kindred spirits we’ve met along the way and encouragement on the road of parenting.

Velo Mom
Velo Mom is the place I share our family bike adventures, highlight inspirational families and kids on bikes, discuss exceptional products, great rides and the latest news.

Adventure Parents
Adventure Parents entertains and informs with stories about parents, families and kids who enjoy outdoor adventure in any of its forms. It has a mix of posts from personal narratives to news to product reviews that appeal to the outdoorsy parent.

Go Explore Nature
Go Explore Nature is all about connecting kids & families with nature, in your own backyard and beyond. You’ll find everything from tips on bird watching and backyard camping to ideas for backyard nature play. Happy exploring! (more…)

A walk to remember: Reviewing Hi-Tec Harmony WP Boots

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When I was maybe fourteen or fifteen, I fell in love with my hiking shoes.  It likely wasn’t the first pair I’d ever owned, but it’s the first pair I remember.  We bonded, those boots and I.  I thought of them as a buddy.  An integral part of my naturalist being.  They made me hike faster, climb better, and gave me greater stealth.  And when I finally retired them after years of scrambling, running, sneaking, and exploring, I saved them.  Placing them reverently in the shoe box in which my new hiking boots arrived.  Just in case.  They’re still in my mom’s basement somewhere.

They were Hi-Tecs.  Blue and grey, mid-ankle high, with easy-to-tie laces.

So when asked Lindsey if she or I wanted to review a pair of Hi-Tecs, I was only too eager to remake the bond I’d had with that first pair.  I went with the mid-ankle Hi-Tec Harmony (WP) boots.

They arrived in the mail three weeks ago, and I have been aggressively putting them through their paces.  Obviously, there was no way I could take pictures of my feet, so, alas, I had to travel to Reno and see Lindsey.  So that she could take pictures of the shoes, of course.  No other reason.

On the plus side: (more…)

Teaching kids stewardship… with a grabber?

Todays post is brought to you by my friend Amber. We got into a discussion one day about kids volunteering and learning to taking ownership of their favorite natural places. The result was this awesome essay about her experience taking her kids to volunteer in Yosemite. I love it.

Has anyone else incorporated outdoor volunteerism into their outdoor outings? We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences!

I grew up in a house where certain things were just, understood. Among such things was the understanding that if we didn’t take care of our things, we would eventually be out of things to take care of.  Although there was a certain resentment that accompanied this understanding, I knew when I had kids of my own that I wanted them to have the same sense of responsibility, or stewardship, over the things that were theirs.

I had the grand expectation that it would be fairly easy to help my child develop this sense of stewardship in every aspect of life, from toys, to friendships, to the natural world around them.

My child would not have the sense of entitlement that is so prevalent in so many kids today.

My child would always be noble, kind, and responsible. (more…)

Use #5 for a stick: Catch a crawdad

Crawdad catching season is in full swing around here. It’s such a popular past time with my kids I thought I’d share a few tips for other small aspiring ‘fishermen’.

What you need:

  • String
  • Stick
  • Paperclip or binder clip
  • Bait: Salami, peperonii, bacon, bologna or your choice of bad fatty meat

The set-up:

  • Tie your sting to the end of a stick
  • Tie a clip to the end of the string or tie the bait directly to the stirng

The Technique:

  • Find a  place that has crawdads. Lake, stream, river, canal etc. (ideally the water will be clear enough to see the bottom)
  • Locate a place near rocks or along the edge of the water.
  • Dangle the bait in the water, allowing it to sink to the bottom near the edge of the rocks or bank
  • Wait for crawdads find the bait
  • When the crawdads pinch the bait and try to tear a piece off, pull the bait out of the water at a steady moderate speed and dangle the crawdad over a bucket (when the crawdad realizes it is hanging in the air it will let go and fall in the bucket)

We have tried bringing some crawdads home as pets with limited success. (more…)

Kids love plumbing

So one of the things that I stumbled upon while entertaining-I-mean-teaching small children over the last few months is that PVC pipe is amazing.  It is good for all sorts of things–practicing walking on a balance beam, learning the ins and outs of balancing something on your hand, building rocket launchers, marshmallow shooters, marble roller coasters, and making funny noises.

But of all the activities we used my wide selection of PVC pipe for, plumbing was my favorite (and I dare say theirs too–even the ever-so-picky sixth graders had a blast!)

If you’re looking for a great way to keep your kids entertained outside for a few hours next week, consider investing in some PVC pipe, aka, Legos-You-Can-Pour-Water-Through. (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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