Camping Adventures

June is National Camping Month. I was super excited to get the kids out and camping again, so in anticipation of this month, I planned to camp with both kids for the first time by myself.  We’d camped in our backyard before with great success (Bax loved it and the baby was still able to sleep in her crib inside). With the little one a little more mobile, I thought I was ready to take the next step and sleep with both of them in the tent. Over Memorial Day weekend, my family had a get together at our farm on the Blackland Prairie just south of Dallas. This would be the perfect test run for experiencing camping with two kids under age of 5.

In anticipation, I read some great tips from Tales of Mountain Mama on taking the kids and baby camping, packed up the tent, my bedroll, Thomas the Train lantern and plenty of pillows and hit the road. The day was going great! A super easy three hour road trip split up by a stop at Collin Street Bakery for cookies. We arrived just in time for the picnic lunch and the kids had a blast playing with cousins. It was time to put the tent up – super easy too. One thing about putting up camp with two kids is not too much time to take pictures – we’ll get some next trip!  Once the tent was up, it was naptime, and we found a super comfy hammock for a peaceful afternoon snooze in the breeze.


All was going great! Finally, it was time for bed – late bedtime at camping time, after 9:00 but both kids and I got in the tent, zipped the door and turned the lantern on for reading our books before lights out. But, once that tent was zipped, it was stuffy and hot! With potential rains forecast for the night and 80 degree something temperatures, it was a sauna in that tent with the rain fly on and no air circulating. But, we were all so tired, we finally managed to get some sleep.


I woke up twice in the night – once to screaming baby wanting a drink and second when the storms came in. It was thunder and lightening in the distance but only a little rain on the tent, enough to cool it down just a little. Then, the sun came up about 6:00 and the  baby woke up and was ready to go. I tried to get her back to sleep, but her screaming was going to wake up the whole campsite, so we went ahead and had an early morning. Things went south from there. Baby kept screaming and wouldn’t let anyone else hold her, preschooler had multiple meltdowns and I was trying to put the tent down and get us packed up to head home. The preschooler was just laying on the floor of the house, it was time to go. I’m so thankful for my sister – by the time I got outside to finish putting up the tent, she had it all put up and my truck loaded for me. By this point, the boy was starting to burn up, it was time to get home.

A dose of advil and three hours later at home, he had a pretty rough cough and the fever was not coming down. Since it was a holiday weekend, it was time for urgent care. Thankfully it wasn’t too busy and due to the blue lips from a blue popsicle, we were able to see the doctor quickly. Diagnosis – pneumonia. What an end to a camping weekend.

The rest of the weekend we were still on breathing treatments and taking it easy, but both kids did have a blast camping. Despite the rough end to the trip, it was a fun experience to remember. Next time I’ll bring Advil, Tylenol and Gatorade in case we have a sick kid again. I’d like to camp in honor of National Camping month, but in Texas, it is getting in to the warm part of the year to camp outside here. If you are in Colorado, or other cooler states this summer, or don’t mind the heat, go get your camping on! In Texas, our family we’ll wait until the cooler weather comes again.

On the Trail Again

Earlier this spring, I had the joy to hit the trails again and run the Crazy Desert Trail Race at San Angelo State Park. It was definitely crazy (the first run out since before little gal was born) and desert like (plenty of cactus) and lots of trail (15 miles of jeep and cattle trails) and such a blast to spend the morning enjoying the West Texas views.

Trail running is so fun to me because of the varying terrain, off road adventure and time to think while running through incredibly gorgeous scenery. 

Running is moving meditation to me. And getting out on the trail in the wild is even better. It’s a place of escape, time to think about what is going on in my life and ultimately just zone for a little while. For the time I am on the trail, I get to enjoy seeing the beautiful blue sky, passing scenery, wind blowing on me and the beauty of sweet nothingness to worry about and nothing going through my brain except making sure one foot goes after the other.

As my husband told me before I headed out of town, spend that time with God. And time I did spend, thanking God for all of the wonderful things in my life, asking God for direction on next steps to take in life, and at times (about miles 8 and mile 13) not having nice things to say to God (let’s just say those are never easy mile markers for me).  


Additionally, it is a good break for me to step away from the kids and do something for me. My sister was incredible to wake up with the baby twice in the middle of the night before so I could get sleep and watch the kids all day while I went to the run. While I love running on improved trail and the road too, the jogging stroller can’t make it up the rocky hillsides, so baby has to stay home.

On a side note – in addition to running the trails, camping is a part of the trail run experience. No driving to the race the morning of. When the kids get a little older, I’d love to camp with them and they can cheer me on at the finish line and run around themselves.

In the past several years, trail running has grown so much as a sport. From the first time I ran in the Rogue trail series there have been more and more races to choose from and fun to be had.  After this first race I wanted to learn more about the techniques of trail running and explore more trails so I joined the Women on the Trails introduction class with Trailhead Running. This class was a fun way to learn the trails in my backyard with fun and laid back folks. This past fall I went to a road show of the Trail Running Film Festival and learned so much more about the opportunities and inspiration to trail run across the country. Tejas Trails and Trail Racing Over Texas are just two groups that put on many races in fabulous places in Texas. Trail runs are a great way to explore our state and national parks and beautiful landscape across the country.

The sport is not just for crazy endurance junkies running 100 milers anymore. There are plenty of distances starting at 5ks. With the beautiful spring weather, I encourage you to get out and try some trail running.

 

 

30 Day Challenge – Outside Every Day

During the month of September, I’m challenging myself to get outside and play everyday. I’m looking forward to 30 days of fun come rain or shine.

I’ve always like the concept of the 30 day challenge – you decide on an activity to do each day and then do that activity every day for 30 days. I’ve heard it is a great way to get motivated, try a new habit, or get focused on a new project. The problem is, every time I start a challenge, it never works out that I finish one. I can’t seem to persevere through doing something I choose each day for 30 days straight. Life, wine, weather or some other excuse always happens.

Last year, I started with a goal to run every day. Two days into running it snowed and was 20 degrees in West Texas. At that point, bundling up around the fire pit with bourbon spiked hot tea sounded like a more fun way to spend the morning.

One month, I wanted to do a 5k a day (trying to get back on target on running 500 miles in one year) but then torrential rains for 20+ days came.

Each time I didn’t meet my goal, I was frustrated and thought this type of challenge was not for me. But as I thought about each monthly attempt, I noticed that having the goal did help me do something, it helped me do more of what I wanted to do that month. I ran more in January and May than I would have without the challenge. I thought, maybe there is a benefit to giving myself a goal of a 30 day challenge even if I only make it 15 days….that’s 5 or 10 more days than I might have done minus the challenge.

So, this September, I’m going back to the 30 day challenge. Whether it’s a walk around the neighborhood or one last swim in the pool, I’m going to enjoy being outside for this last part of summer and kick off into fall.

Will you join me? (I’ve also hear sharing your goal with others is a good way to meet your goal).

Going Native in the Backyard

A big highlight of our summer so far has been watching our backyard grow into a native landscape. My husband’s new hobby is yard work and the process started right after our little girl was born. He actually was going to till up the backyard the same day she was born, but luckily decided to wait until the next weekend.

We ordered a variety of native grass mixes from Native American Seed, a great company located in Junction, Texas and set out a plan to get the seeds in the ground and take advantage of the large amount of rain in the forecast.

The first step was to till the entire backyard, which turned it into a construction site for a few days.

Then, the seeds were sown across the dirt and on the days it didn’t rain, the sprinkler was turned on. The trucks also got a washdown every day.

  

In just a few short weeks, the grass started coming up and we had a beautiful new native approved lawn!

Photo Jun 30, 6 56 51 AM

It was such a success, plans are underway for the front yard!

The Power of Outside for Mamas and Babies

Obviously I love getting outside, being in nature under the blue sky, whether trail running or hiking, swimming or sitting in a river, playing golf, or just a short walk around the neighborhood, anything outside makes mama happy. But, I’ve definitely been embracing it more lately to get through the early weeks with a newborn. The first month was hard – screaming and crying baby and mama. How did I forget all of this hard work, or is this new little one just a higher need kiddo than the first one? After nights of the little babe staring back at me refusing to go to sleep, I stepped outside with her and stared at the green grass and bushes from all the rain and heard chirping birds and the wind blowing through the trees. This calmed us both down enough to make it through another night and day.

During these first days of getting to know the little girl, getting outside was a vital part of the day. My breakthrough for coming back to life after popping out the baby was a beautiful hike on the greenbelt one morning when she was about two weeks old. My world opened up once El Nino went away and it stopped raining. I figured out how the Baby K’tan worked and hit the trails. On an early morning hike on the Barton Creek greenbelt, I saw a movie filming and sat and typed a draft of this post sitting on the rocks next to the water with the baby sleeping in the carrier.

During this hike I realized that little girl just likes to be close to her mama and loves being outside. No more screaming during the day! Only took us two weeks to figure that out, and man what a long two weeks. After that hike I ventured outside nearly every morning with the gal around the neighborhood, on Lady Bird Lake trail with the jogging stroller, or hikes on the greenbelt and then spent a lot of afternoons porch sitting and watching our new native landscaping grow (more on this adventure later).

It turns out there are is a lot of research on the benefit of getting outside for babies, it can even help them sleep better at night. Here are a few good articles with more info on the power of being outside for babies and outside activities with infants.

Here’s what I offer as keys to getting outside with a little baby. Take it easy, be flexible and find a good carrier and jogging stroller and don’t forget a blanket for a picnic.

What about being outside makes you happy?

 

Find your river, find your mountain….

Happy New Year! It’s 2016 – as some have been calling it Sweet 16. As you take a look at what you want to accomplish this year, I encourage you to find your river, find your mountain, or any adventure no matter how big or small.

Driving into work the other morning I heard the song, Find your Mountain, by The Steel Wheels, an Americana roots band from the Blue Ridge Mountains and I heard the lyrics, find your river, find your mountain….and I started thinking….

So much of adventure books and outside adventure is focused around rivers, mountains, lakes, oceans, or other big features in nature. Last year I focused on reading more about these adventures – epic stories of kayaking down entire rivers and thousand mile hikes across mountain ranges – stories of internal struggle and self-discovery and stories of pushing physical bodies through extreme weather and conditions. From the Appalachians to the Seven Summits, there are so many opportunities for grand adventures in this beautiful world.

I love the idea of undertaking a major journey or two or three like this in my life, but my daily reality right now (having a three year old and expecting his little sister in a few months) is not where I’ll be taking a three month quest down a river or trek across a mountain in the next few years.

pedernales

But, I don’t want to miss out on adventure opportunities. That’s why I love the idea of a microadventure.

Coined by a British explorer, Alastair Humprehys, who has explored all over the world, a microadventure is the concept of getting out to explore close by in an easy, accessible and inexpensive way. One of the best parts of his book I like is the concept of using your 5 – 9 to have an adventure. At first I thought it meant 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., but soon realized in reading his suggestions that he meant 5 in the evening until 9 in the morning. While this may be difficult with work and traffic, I love the concept. Honestly though, even a four hour outside adventure from 5 – 9 p.m. is a great way to have fun during the week and get outside. You could easily get a short hike and picnic at a park and be back home with plenty of time before a late bedtime.

mountain

There are so many options for this adventure – some people may like the lake, some are river rats, some are mountain lovers and others like a little walk by a creek. Whatever your favorite place in nature is or your daily reality, for this year I get outside more in big or little ways. Find adventure in your back yard or through life changing journeys across this beautiful world.

Here’s to a wonderfully sweet 2016 of adventure to you all!

Panoramic pics taken by Will Dupuy on our journeys outside to the rivers and mountains.

What a busy few months

Happy Holidays! I’ve had so much to be thankful for this year, especially over the last few months. I wish I had posted more recently, but life has been full of busy moments outside, at work and in our little house.

I’ve managed to get outside some, but there is always room for more (planning on more in 2016, stay tuned for my next post.)

Several of the highlights of the last few months include:

Sunday morning runs on the beautiful boardwalk with my friend Whitney.

Sleeping outside at my friend’s cabin with my boys under the bluffs of the Hill Country in the Medina River valley.

Bandera

Pumpkin outings with friends and family

Live nativity with the cousins

Nativity

Additionally, I’ve spent a significant amount of time the past few months learning more about the incredible migratory journey of the monarch butterfly.

This fall, the butterflies made their yearly migration back to Mexico and I was honored to volunteer at two events for Texan by Nature, a conservation organization founded by former First Lady Laura Bush, that coincided with the butterflies return south.

In early October, the annual gala for Texan by Nature was held at the president and Mrs. Bush’s ranch in Crawford. It was a beautiful day set in a restored native prairie to support conservation efforts across the state – the monarch butterflies even arrived to help celebrate conservation.

Here is a group shot of the Texan by Nature advisory council that helped out at the event.

Later in the month, I attended a press event at the George W. Bush Presidential Center to announce a multiagency monarch butterfly conservation initiative.

In November I decided to create my own butterfly garden in our back yard. BW helped plant wildflower seeds from Native American Seed. The rye grass seed we planted for nursery cover crop has come up and the areas he dropped whole cup full of seeds on is especially lush. Stay tuned for updates next year on the progress of our pocket prairie and native landscaping.

To round out my fall of monarch butterflies, I watched the Flight of the Butterflies movie in 3D at the Bullock Texas State History Museum. The coolest part of the movie was seeing the elementary school kids reaching out for the butterflies that seemed to be flying right over their head thanks to the magic of 3D glasses.

Even though it is too cold and wet outside right now in Texas to enjoy beautiful butterflies, I’m still learning and dreaming about nature by watching documentaries in the toasty warmth of my living room.  I have several books and movies on my list to go for the next few cold and dark nights. I can’t wait until February to watch National Parks Adventure.

Here’s to many adventures through stories in film and books inside the warmth of our homes and in the beautiful world outside in the new year!