Tag Archives: kids outside

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…)

What should have been Family ‘Burning Man’

This past week my friend Amber and I planned a camping trip. Our hope was that it wouldn’t be like your regular run-of-the-mill camping trip. We wanted to create a family style Burning Man festival. We live in Nevada, so it seemed only fitting, and we hoped to add a little of that Burning Man creativity, pizzaz, and chaos (I like to think we nailed the ‘chaos’ part pretty well).

What we got instead were 35 MPH winds. We couldn’t camp in the Burning-Man-esque dry lake bed we’d picked out because the wind was too strong.  If we’d made a burning man, we would have watched him take flight across the desert soon after.   Our hot dogs would have dried out before they got to the fire pit.  And the materials we’d brought for art projects would have scattered across the desert like New Year’s confetti faster than you can count down from ten.  We had to opt for a sheltered rock cove and a low key evening instead.

I’m proud to say we stuck out the camping trip despite the never ending wind, though Amber and I were somewhat disappointed. The kids, on the other hand, could have cared less. They ran around the rocks pretend-shooting each other for hours, took advantage waves created by the wind at the lake, flew kites, hunted for bones, mastered the giant sling shot, and ate dust while taking rides on the tailgate of the truck. I suppose we made due.  I suppose they’ll remember it fondly anyway, burning man or not.

I managed a few pics.


Is just being outside good enough?

Back in May Lindsey and I happened to find ourselves killing time before a movie in some suburban area of Las Vegas. We weren’t sure where to go to since neither of us live there, but when we saw a bit of green with a playground and a baseball diamond, we figured we could sit on that grass quite happily for as long as we needed. We ended up strolling past a skate park. An acre of concrete molded into ramps, half-pipes, and pools, with hand rails sprouting here and there from the hard cement.

Fifteen kids, aged ten to twenty maneuvered though the obstacles. Some were clearly experienced: they gave the sense of a deep understanding of the dynamics created by that shaped concrete, combining graceful forays down curves with abrupt stops on ledges, where they’d balance on wheel posts, as frozen as the cement, for a split second. Others were just beginning. Three boys on bikes almost too big for them navigated a half pipe, braving the steepest most dreadful moment when they had to first drop in. One timid boy did the entire half-pipe straddling the bar of his bike, foregoing pedals for the security of keeping his heels on the pavement. We smiled while watching these same three boys figure out how to get out of the half-pipe too. “You have to go fast!” one braver boy encouraged the timid one.

There was no green grass, no dirt, no sticks or leaves, no living thing but the boys on their bikes. Here, in this environment as barren as any indoor space, these kids were learning courage, creativity, and confidence. They practiced social skills, encouraged each other, looked out for each other, challenged each other. They learned to focus on the task at hand, and to get up and try again when they fell down; to push themselves (“you have to go fast!“) in order to accomplish. They learned balance, body-eye coordination, and how to assess outcomes quickly, as conditions changed.  And they burned off lunch and that after-school snack to boot.

We were stymied.  Thrown off our game.  These kids were outside, but they weren’t in nature.  And yet what we saw seemed perfectly good and healthy.  And we got to thinking, was just plain being outside, away from electric plug-ins, good enough? (more…)

The Dreaded Nap: How to have an outside life and a well-rested child.

I got an email the other day with the following question.

I feel like I’m at a crossroads with motherhood. I’m a new mom to a 3-month old who is just now discovering the bright, beautiful world around him, and I’m finding he doesn’t sleep well outside of his crib lately, but I’m feeling really tied down to our house. How have you managed to be an “outside mom” with little ones who need a lot of sleep? … This is the major prohibitor from us having more of the types of adventures we were used to before parenthood.

Boone, NC

Ah, the Dreaded  Nap. That refreshing time during the day when your little one(s) don’t need their noses wiped or their bottoms cleaned. When their cranky attitudes are reset, and, okay, yours is reset too. The Dreaded Nap. That fickle thing that requires the right temperatures, the right lighting, the right blanket, perhaps even the right song. The Dreaded Nap is an art.  And it is a daily-activity that can’t be missed, that shouldn’t be messed with, and that so impedes being outside for longer than three hours.  Sigh.

Kristen, you are NOT alone. (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!


How to encourage creativity: Embrace chaos

I love TED talks.  They are varied, fascinating, and stimulating.  They make me think of things that it never occurred to me to think about. Here is one that I watched not too long ago. It has been viewed over 5 million times, and has been extremely well-received.

At first I was inspired: the idea that we can be ‘educated out of our creative capacities’ hit a chord with me, the girl who has spent the last 29 years being educated and is currently feeling rather water-cracker bland.

Then it hit me what he seemed to be implying and I felt slightly indignant. (more…)

My 10 Most Unforgettable Childhood Moments

noun /ˈmōmənt/

An exact point in time.
An appropriate time for doing something, an opportunity.
A particular stage in something’s development or in a course of events.

Ever since the Grass Stain Guru re-posted her “10 Can’t Miss Childhood Moments” I’ve been thinking about my own list. To be honest, a wave of moments flooded my mind even before I’d finished reading her list. (more…)

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.


Mountain Biking with Kids? Get a Trailer Bike.

Makes mountain biking with kids easier
We debated for a long time over getting a trailer bike. Would we like it? Is it a pain to pull? Does it do well on single track? And most importantly, will Ari like it?

Ari is, how should I say this… cautious? Ok, basically he’s afraid of everything but bugs. He won’t go anywhere near a climbing harness (yet) and up until last week wouldn’t set foot in a water vessel. BUT he has shown an interest in biking. He learned to ride pretty quick and seemed to really enjoy single track on his balance bike. So maybe?

Then our friends posted this video of their daughter (Ari’s age) riding a trail with her Dad. It was all over. We had to have one.

And now I can tell you all the reasons we love OUR trailer bike: (more…)

Pack Full of Dinosaurs Bones

There’s a natural area near our house known to the layperson as Hidden Valley, we call it Bone Canyon. Each time we visit Bone Canyon (which was 3 times this past week) Ari collects ‘dinosaurs bones’ out of the wash; I secure them in his pack and we take them home for ‘identification.’ We passed a fellow hiker on the trail yesterday and the man said “What are you going to do with all those sticks?” Ari just stared at him with this half puzzled half disgusted look on his face. I came to his rescue, “Those are actually dinosaur bones,” I corrected him…


    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