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Category Archives: Outside Moms

The Making of an Outdoor Sister

My journal:  August 4, 2000
Kayak Trip – British Columbia, Canada.

[Things you should know:  Lacey is my sister, and Ed is my uncle, and Shane is a friend]…

Last night we camped up the road from the Chilliwack (river in BC that tried to eat me alive). We found a nice little spot up on a ledge in a clear cut just past mile marker 96. We had a great view from up there, but the campsite itself was a mess. There’s a reason it quickly became known as “Camp Serote“. We got there near dark, and were totally worn out from the days river run. We chatted a bit, then decided to head off to bed.  Lacey and Shane set up camp on the ground, I took the back of the truck, while Ed crawled off to bed in his tent.

As we were drifting off to sleep we started hearing strange noises. It was like a flying frog/bear/bird thing. It was really creepy, and kinda freaked us out because we could NOT tell what it was. We figured it was some strange bird swooping around and went to sleep.

Awhile later Lacey woke up to the sound of rocks rolling down the mountain behind us. She freaked. She litterally jumped out of her sleeping bag, directly on top of Shane. She was screaming. Hysterically. (more…)

Lia: Starting Outdoor Playgroups

I don’t know Lia personally, but I wish I did. I first met her when she interviewed me on her blog. Her blog is actually more like a website she uses to keep parents up-to-date and informed about “Skedaddle“, the outdoor playgroup she’s created. A playgroup that meets every week no matter what the weather.. in Alaska! I can’t believe she actually had 20 people show up for a playgroup when it was -20°! She must be doing something right.

One of these days I WILL make it to her playgroup… Thanks for doing the interview Lia, for sharing your outdoor playgroup wisdom and for being a truly inspirational OutsideMom!

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Nancy: Adventure. Exhausting, but Worth it.

I grew up camping quite a bit with my five siblings and my parents.  I remember splashing in creeks, going on hikes and bike rides, rigging up rope swings, making huts, catching snakes and cramming into a tent when the sun went down.  I look back on these memories with great fondness, and I know this must be why I seek out the same opportunities for my own children.

HOWEVER, I realize now, with only two small boys, how challenging it must have been for my mother to keep six of us (three girls and three boys) semi-clean, fed, happy, and on the radar.  I was curious to see how she did it.  Never, in all the many times that we went camping, did it occur to me that she was looking forward to the drive home more than she was the next round of freeze-tag-in-the-cactus-patch.

Why did she do it?  Why did she take us again and again when it was so exhausting?  I found the answer inspiring, and I think it might appeal to my readers who don’t naturally take to the idea of sleeping on the hard ground and taking baby-wipe-showers.

I am thankful everyday that my Mother (and Father) created for us the opportunities to experience the outdoors, no matter how hard it was on her, and I appreciate her optimistic outlook, always willing to go along for the adventure. So, it is with great honor that I present to you, an interview with MY very own OutsideMom.

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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.

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…)

Jill: Raising Outdoor Kids in Egypt

When I first started dreaming up this blog I knew I wanted to interview other Outside Moms; moms who had in one way or another inspired me, moms who I knew had the potential to inspire others. Moms like Jill.

Jill lives in downtown Cairo; she’s the wife of a US Diplomat, mother of three, an adventurer, an amazing artist and yes, an Outside Mom. I’ve been so impressed over the years at how she and her husband manage to fit in adventure after adventure. I mean really, who in their right mind moves to Egypt and immediately locates the closest and best camping spots? Not many. Thanks for doing the interview Jill. You amaze me. Thanks also go to Josh (her husband) for taking so many awesome photos.

There’s a growing movement here in the US to get kids outside more. Do you know of any such movement in Egypt?

I would say no.  I think that there is not really a need for it in Egypt. Kids aren’t couped up indoors like in the US. With all the open air markets, cafes, restaurants, and the amount of walking Egyptian life requires, “outside time” and “exercise time” are kind of foreign idea to most. Kids are already outside working for income, tagging along with their parents or just roaming the streets. Egyptians stay out late too. Its not uncommon to see a whole family with young children out at 1 or 2am out and about at a restaurant or shopping. An interesting side note is that it is somewhat culturally unacceptable to take babies outside, so they often set them on their balconies so they can get some sunshine.

Living in Cairo are you able to work some outdoor time into your typical daily/weekly schedule? What would a typical outdoor outing be like?

We live in an apartment with tiny balconies that get filthy with Cairo’s everyday dust and grime. Al-Azhar Park is a beautiful green area in the middle of Cairo that has playgrounds and grassy hills. Its quite stark in contrast to the rest of the city, but you have to pay a few dollars to get in, and it is about a 15 -45 minute drive from our house, depending on traffic, so we usually only go there on weekends. We do belong to an American club house and also have access to my son’s school grounds.  So our day to day options for getting outside are: swimming at the clubhouse, playing on the playground after school hours, playing on our roof top and walking in the open air markets.  On the weekends we usually go to our son’s soccer/t-ball games, go explore or go camping at wadi degla nature preserve (it’s a dry wash that is near by), explore a new neighborhood or tourist sight, go to Al-Azhar park. A felucca ride on the Nile is one of our favorite ways to get outside. In Utah we used to get friends together and go up the canyon to have a campfire. In Egypt, you go out on the Nile with a big group and eat a picnic on the boat. Its surprising calm and cool on the water and you usually go out around dusk.  You can also reach the Red Sea in about 1 1/2 hrs. which is a great day trip to the beach.

What are the major obstacles to getting your kids out?

There are loads of obstacles in Cairo for getting outside.  The pollution is beyond any “red light recess” day in the states.  Sometimes the air is so thick you can’t see the building across the street. Somedays your eyes burn. (more…)

Kerry and Alden. Bikepackers.

I met Kerry and her 4 year old son Alden at Coast Camp (a backpackers camp) in Point Reyes National Park. I noticed her and her son walking down to the beach and wondered how she managed to get her son down there; and in such a seemingly good mood! My eyes looked up the trail to where they had come from and I noticed a camp with 2 man tent and a mess of bike paraphernalia. I was intrigued.

Luckily the next morning when we passed by their camp they were up so I stopped by to chat. Turns out it was just her and her son and they had biked in. Her idea was so genius I have to share it.

1 adult bike
1 trail-a-bike (http://www.rei.com/product/774425)
1 bike trailer (http://www.rei.com/product/798369)
1 old dirt road turned bike trail (route highlighted in yellow below)

I REALLY wish I had a photo of their set-up to share, a mile down the trail I was kicking myself for not snapping one. Kerry was of course on the bike, Alden was on the trail-a-bike and all their gear was in the trailer. Of course the links above will lead you to drool over all sorts of new and fancy kid biking gear, but what impressed me most about Kerry’s set-up was that none of her stuff was new, nor was it name brand. Most of the stuff you need for a trip like this can be found at thrift stores or online classifieds, you don’t need to go out and drop a ton of cash to be able to do this. The other thing that really inspired me about Kerry was that she was there alone with her son. Orchestrating something like this by yourself, or even with a spouse/friend has the potential to sound a little stressful, but I’m pretty sure that if your child had the same smile on his face that Alden did, you would find that it was all worth it. Plus, check out some of the views awaiting you near a place like Coast Camp.

Anyone out there ever done the backpacking thing? Any tips?

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    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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