Earth Day: How Does Your Garden Grow?

Every spring the warm weather teases me into thinking I have a green thumb. Every fall after months of digging, planting, watering, putting up fences, and protecting against frost I remember that I don’t. It seems that only half of what I plant survives weather, forgetful watering, over eager tots and animal attacks, and yet I can’t help but try again the next spring.
The food I may or may not produce is not my primary reason for gardening, which is good because my family would starve. The real reason I garden is to enjoy the outdoors with my kids. It’s an easy thing to do with kids since most love any reason to dig and get dirty, plus it’s so fun to see my tots learn about plants hands on, to watch things grow and to eat fresh peas from their pods.

This Earth Day the tots and I transplanted some seedlings. The seeds were from my late grandmother’s store and some are more than 15 years old. I’m surprised any of them sprouted, but apparently you can’t keep a sunflower from wanting the sun –  they were the best growers despite their age.
Thanks to this post by Mae at I learned that the best way to encourage environmental stewardship in my kids is really quite easy. Research shows that it comes down to these three actions:
  1. talking about the environment at home, 
  2. watching nature-related media,
  3. and reading about nature. 

Growing a garden with my kids doesn’t involve a screen or book (Unless you count Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew), but it does allow for lots of opportunities to talk about the environment and why I care about it. I love growing things, even if I’m only successful half the time. Hopefully my efforts to teach my tots about loving nature are a little more successful.

National Parks Week, April 18-25, 2015

Hip Hip Hooray! Tomorrow is the day! April 18-25, 2015 is National Parks Week!
National Parks feature heavily in our outdoor adventure plans. For the last five years our family has purchased the America the Beautiful pass, which allows access to any federal land for the entire year. The cost is $80.00, which I think of as both a donation and a challenge. If we can visit enough National Parks in one year to cover the cost of the card, we’ve done pretty well.

Here are three ways to celebrate National Parks week – I hope you enjoy!

1. Free admission April 18-19, 2015. If you live near a National Park, or want a quick weekend getaway you can explore for free this weekend. All Admission fees are waived Saturday April 18th and Sunday April 19th 2015.

2. Plan a vacation. Summer will soon be here and you have to do something with your tots, right? Plan a trip to see some of the nation’s beautiful spaces. Here are some links to our favorites:

Denali National Park, Alaska
Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska

Alcatraz Island, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, California
Redwoods National Park, California
San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, California
Yosemite National Park, California

Great Basin National Park, Nevada

Independence Hall, National Historical Park, Pennsylvania

Arches National Park, Utah
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Dinosaur National Monument, Utah
Zion National Park, Utah

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

3. Be a Junior Ranger. Tots of all ages can enjoy learning about the world around them through the Junior Ranger program. Just complete the pamphlet for each park you visit and your child can receive a patch.

Mountain Baby and a New Normal

Dear Readers,

I’m sorry I haven’t posted since February. The reason for my silence has been the anticipation and arrival of the newest member of our family – Mountain Baby.

A new baby is a blessing, so small and precious, but getting it here is tough. I had forgotten how tiring being pregnant is, how little energy I would have for outdoor fun.  In those last few months of pregnancy I could barely walk down Big E’s hallway at school without getting winded and walking up stairs was an endurance event. It was hard respecting the fact that my body just could not do the things it could before. Those physical limitations led to emotional weariness as well. The thought of doing anything above the bare minimum for survival was too much.  

Now that Mountain Baby is here I feel physically better and worse. I’m able to lay on my back comfortably, I can breathe deeply and reach down to pick things up off the ground, but I’m also sore and exhausted from lack of sleep. Once again I’m trying to respect what my body can do and not expect much more than that. I want to compare my daily achievements to what I was able to do before, but when I do I come up woefully short. Showering and feeding my kids do not make an impressive list of accomplishments.

With time I know I will find my way to a new normal. I know there will come a day where I’m not waking up every 3 hours to feed a newborn, comforting a jealous older sister, and managing Big E’s schoolwork while breaking into tears because my kids aren’t listening and the baby’s crying. I believe that day will come. For now I will try (again) to show myself and my family kindness and compassion, to not expect too much and enjoy the blessed moments of peace.

Holding Mountain Baby helps me remember the things I love in my life – my kids, my husband and the outdoors. I’m excited to introduce her to the world of camping, hiking, biking and loving the outdoors. She’s a precious blessing in my life and I’m grateful she’s here. I hope you’ll read along with our adventures in family life and the outdoors.

Thanks for reading. I hope you get out and have your own adventures!