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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.

My Birthday Camp Out. At Best Western?

Last week was my Birthday.

When I turned 30 I started the tradition of spending my birthday camped in a really cool spot. Just about every year we HAPPEN to choose a location within a 100 mile radius of where my best pal Olivia is doing field work. This years destination was the southern portion of Death Valley. The plan was to camp, hike, hang out, cook my birthday cake in a dutch oven, share the recipe with you… It was going to be great.

Then it got cold. And windy. And my kids got sick.

We did make it to Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge to check out the pupfish. We thought that maybe we could find a pocket of calm somewhere around there. Nope. After returning to the van in 60mph winds and with dirt in our eyeballs putting up a tent was deemed impossible. Could we sleep an extra adult in the van? No.

Doesn’t this look like great camping weather? Even K-So (our dog) is squinting!Note: The following galleries are full of cell phone pictures. Pretty sure I jinxed the trip by leaving my camera home. Thankfully I discovered Instagram, the coolest photo app ever.

 

We ended up in a hotel in Pahrump Nevada. I know. I know! At 33 years old am I finally growing soft? (more…)

Turn your Minivan into an RV. Sort of.


We actually sleep in our minivan quite often. Over the past 5 months I’d say we’ve slept in the van at least 6 times. There are occasions when a tent just isn’t practical. Wind storms, unseasonably cold weather, precipitation, sleeping right off the side of the highway, etc.

Check it out! Looks cozy right?

 

A couple of tips for sleeping 2 adults, 2 kids and a dog in a minivan: (more…)

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…)

I Love Dirt!

I Love Dirt! by Jennifer Ward, is described as “52 activities to help you and your kids discover the wonders of nature”.

Does it live up to this claim? Yes. Although I’m not sure I would call them all ‘activities,’ maybe something more along the lines of ‘conversation starters,’ ‘exploration ideas,’ ‘questions’?

What I liked about this book:

  • Even if you know nothing about nature, you’ll still feel confident using these activities.
  • It doesn’t matter where you live – urban or rural, east coast or west coast, near a little patch of green in the city or on 5 acres in the woods – the activities are meant to promote exploration wherever you are.
  • The kid-friendly explanations that accompany each activity are awesome!
  • Each activity has a Q&A box. The first time I read this book I just went through and read all the Q&A’s– they’re mostly just kid friendly factoids, but obviously parents love them too…
  • The activities are open-ended, therefore very little structure. As a result I must warn you that your child will likely have far more questions than you can answer. It’s great!
  • The size of the book and the durability of the thick paperback cover make it a perfect candidate for your backpack.

This book may not be for you if: (more…)

Minivans. The Camping Revolution?

I resisted a minivan for years. Instead I preferred to shove a kid, a dog, a weeks worth of camping/outdoor gear (and on one occasion 3 chickens) into or on top of our wagon. There was zero floor space anywhere, I couldn’t move my feet, rarely could you see out the back window, it smelled like dog breath and because we didn’t have tinted windows I once saw someone taking a photo of us with their cell phone. It was apparently a sight to behold.

I finally caved after Isaac was born. It took one road trip with an additional kid/car seat and I was done, a 2001 Toyota Sienna it was. You may be asking why not an SUV? Well, minivans are just far superior. Theeeey ummm, well, they… Ok, maybe superior isn’t the right word, how about practical? Economic?

Things I’ve learned (and trust me, this took time) to love about our minivan.

1. We paid cash for it. I wanted a Honda Pilot, which would have meant taking out a loan, which would have meant going into debt, which I’m really glad we didn’t do.

2. It’s versatile. Around town we only have the front seats in, this allows maximum child access for the driver and  plenty of room in the back for gear. On road trips we switch it up and only have the back bench in. This allows space in the middle for a cooler, a crate of food and a crate of toys/books and the bouldering pad (which is great for changing diapers, taking naps or eating lunch on road trips in the winter. Oh, or bouldering). All other non essentials are piled up in the back on our makeshift shelving system or on top in the rocket box.

3. We can sleep in it. And quite comfortably actually, unless you count the time I slept on my arm funny and couldn’t move it for 2 weeks. This configuration involves the back bench, the bouldering pad folded out and a hammock along the roof. (more…)

Pre-K Lesson Plan: The Letter S, Senses

I’m part of a co-op preschool, me and 4 other Moms rotate once a week hosting 2 hours of madness in our homes.  A few weeks ago I got to plan a lesson around the letter S. I focused the activities around the “senses” that start with S: sight, sound and smell. We had class indoors due to a chilly morning wind, but I’m including notes on what I had planned to do outside had the weather cooperated or had I warned parents to dress their children accordingly.

This lesson centered nicely around the following two books:

Introduction Book: My Five Senses, by Aliki

SIGHT

Book: What do You do With a Tail Like This, by Steve Jenkins, Robin Page (Read the section: What do you do with Eyes Like These)
– Do we use our eyes the same way as the animals in the book?
– What do we use our eyesight for?
– Let’s go on a scavenger hunt and see how well we can use our eyes.

Activity: Scavenger Hunt
Cut out or print off  small pieces of paper with the letter S. Write clues on the back of each paper that will lead the children to find the next clue. Hand a child the first clue, follow the clues to find all the letter S’s. Note: An outdoor scavenger hunt would be perfect for this.

Materials:
-Letter S Papers
-Tape

SMELL (more…)

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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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