Monthly Archives: September 2012

Addicted to Technology? Get outside.

My favorite news magazine is THE WEEK. I look forward to its arrival every weekend in my mailbox. Then I read it cover to cover.

Every week, THE WEEK’s editors scour hundreds of newspapers, magazines, and Web sites (U.S. and foreign), searching for the most intriguing stories and the most thoughtful commentary from a wide range of viewpoints.

I particularly enjoyed one of their recent cover stories: Addicted to Tech. The article gave excerpts from other write-ups in The Observer (Internet Addiction Even Worries Silicon Valley), The Atlantic (Are We Addicted to Gadgets or Indentured to Work) and Newsweek (Is the Web Driving us Mad).

My favorite excerpt came from an article written by Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times (Blissfully Lost in the Woods). It was worth sharing.

I know of a good treatment, if not a cure, said Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times. It’s called nature. When we get into the great outdoors, the illusion of control that technology provides disappears, and we are “deflated, humbled, and awed all at once.” In the “vast natural cathedral,” we are reminded of a world much larger than ourselves—one that predates us, will outlive us, and at whose mercy we exist. To escape our “post-industrial self-absorption,” we all need to leave our iPhones at home at least once a week, and go take a walk in the woods. Your devices will be waiting when you get back, and you’ll be a bit saner when you rejoin the endless conversation.

I say amen to that. Happy weekend.

The mantis in my yard

Thanks to my observant son, I saw the coolest thing the other day.

I was outside pulling weeds while the kids were riding their bikes up and down the block. All of the sudden they stopped at the house next door and started yelling,   “Mom! Mom!  Come look at this praying mantis!  It’s going to have a baby!”  I love that my children want to share these things with me.

Do you know about these critters?  Praying mantises are about as close to charismatic megafauna as an insect can come.  They’re big enough that you can actually see their personalities.  If you move your fingers in front of them, they’ll turn their little heads, watching its every twitch.  Olivia had a friend as a kid who had one as a pet.  She’d stick it on her head like a little cap and walk around with it.  All the neighbor kids thought she was the coolest girl around.  Mantises are like chameleons, they camouflage themselves and hide, waiting for an unsuspecting fly to pass by.  They reach out with those wicked-fast pincers (they can’t hurt you with them) and nab up the fly and gobble it down.  Look on youtube… there are videos of these guys eating fish, mice, and trying for hummingbirds.  Incredible!

But I digress.

Dropping my handful of weeds, I jogged over to see a tan colored mantis with a rather fat abdomen staggering (literally) across the sidewalk. She didn’t look so good and I thought for sure she had been struck by a bike . Thinking she might die at any moment we relocated her to a bush by our front door to live out what little time she had left.

I saw her the next day still on the bush. She was still alive, and still looking terrible.

The next day I noticed her on a rock close by, and look what she was doing!

The kids were right! She was getting ready to have a baby… or rather, getting ready to lay an egg case full of potentially a few hundred babies. Check out this video of a mantis laying an egg case in fast motion.

But I was right too. After she laid her egg case she crawled down from the rock, sorta passed out underneath it, and died. Nature can be so sad. (more…)

Going solo in the great outdoors… with kids

A reader recently submitted this question:

My hubby has poor health, but I *need* more outdoor time! Any tips for a mom and kids outdoors on their own? Mine are 7, 5, 3, and 2 mos. We live in beautiful western Oregon, but I have a thing for the SW.


Meaghan, thanks for this excellent question.  It’s something I deal with all the time as a stay-at-home-mom who is also an outside junkie.  I actually really like getting the kids out on my own.   I’m not much of a home body and getting the kids out for a hike or a trip to the lake always seems like a far better alternative than futzing around the house.  Our situations aren’t that different–I’ve got a 5-, 3-, and five-month-old.  Granted you’ve got an extra child, but let’s just call your oldest an extra ‘helper’.

Your style for getting outside with just you and them will be all your own, unique to your personalities and situation, but here are some random suggestions that might make getting out on your own easier.

PS rare photo of me (above) taken by my good friend and awesome photographer Rebekah.

1. Don’t psych yourself out.
It’s not as daunting as it sounds. One less adult can usually be mitigated with better pre-planning.  Remember always what your objective is.  To be outside?  See something new?  Have a wee adventure?

Figure out what you’re going for and ‘settle’ for doing only that thing.  When the kids cry or complain, when something goes awry, when you call it quits early, just remember your objective… “well, my goal was to get outside for awhile today, and we did it!”  Have that attitude in mind before you even leave the house and you’ll be surprised how easy it is to feel good about your solo trip from the moment you’ve locked the front door.

2.  Pre-Plan. (more…)

Keeping your feet dry: the delicate art of peeing in the woods

I once thought about making a photo blog called “Oh the places I’ve peed.” Nature can offer some pretty scenic restrooms!! Much better than the four walls your use to at home, and light years better than the experience you get from most public bathrooms.

If you read this blog I’m guessing you have no problem peeing in the out-of-doors. But I bet you know someone who does, it’s a pretty common hang-up for lots of women. If you do know such a woman, please send them this video.  I laughed when I watched it, only because I think Jessica (from is so awesome for actually making it.

And don’t worry, she’s wearing spandex…

Postpartum Mountain Biking – When to get back on the bike?

Note: this post contains words related to child-birth. If theses sort of words make you light-headed, please look at this post instead.

Shortly after every pregnancy I’ve opened up my laptop, pulled up the internet and typed in to the search bar things like “postpartum mountain biking”, “how soon can I mountain bike after pregnancy”, “mountain biking after delivery”, “getting back on my bike after vaginal delivery”, etc.

I never find anything. No testimonials, no words of wisdom, no pictorials. Nada. I am going to rectify that situation. This post is for all those new OutsideMoms looking to see when other Moms get back on their mountain bikes after the brutal event known as ‘giving birth’. (more…)

Three ideas for building your own bike rack

After a month of living in our new home we finally took the weekend to unpack and organize the garage. The biggest problem we faced was the number of bikes we own: 4 kid bikes, 4 adult bikes, 1 bike trailer and 1 trail-a-bike. After careful consideration 2 kid bikes we’re booted out to the shed but the remaining 8 contraptions needed to be accessible.

With all of us bike commuting every day and mountain biking whenever we get the chance we were in a constant state of bike piles. The garage looked like this, on a good day…

We wanted to build a bike rack, but had a few criteria. It needed to be 1. Cheap. 2. Easy to assemble. 3. Sturdy. 4. Adjustable. We found three viable options online (click links below for photos and instructions). Option 1 and 2 can even be made to fit in your truck bed.

  1. Rack made from PVC pipe.
  2. Rack made from 2×4’s and other assorted wood pieces.
  3. Rack made from pallets.

We chose option #1, the PVC pipe, but made the following modifications: (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