Tuesday, June 08, 2010

June Carnival of Natural Parenting: Outdoor Fun

Welcome to the June Carnival of Natural Parenting: Outdoor fun

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared their stories and tips for playing outside with kids. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


I fell out of the Carnival of Natural Parenting while I was extremely busy doing a few other things with my bloggy time (like detailing my elimination diet) but it seemed time to jump back in to it.

This month's topic is "Outdoor Fun". I'll be honest: part of me felt a little dismayed about this topic. I'm not going to be some sort of fountain of information about fun outdoors activities. If I had my druthers, I'd be curled up on the couch, even on the sunniest of days.
But! We do live in Seattle, and I do have to admit that probably the number one thing that makes the cost of living here even slightly bearable is the natural beauty that surrounds and envelops us. I may not be outside basking in its glory every day, but not a day goes by where I don't thank my lucky stars that I live in the most beautiful place in the entire country. And maybe the world, but I can't say for sure being that I've never left the US (sad, I know).

Carrying on. So what do we do for outdoor fun? Up until June 2009 my family of four (and dog and cat) was cramped in to a small second floor apartment without a yard. Our outdoor activities included countless trips to local parks, school playgrounds, beaches on the Puget Sound, dog parks, walking paths, wading pools and open green space, all within about five miles of our apartment.

Since moving to our house, however, we now have a decent sized yard (for city living standards) that we're really starting to enjoy. Hobo Mama (you know her, right?) and her adorable family have taken the reins on putting in garden beds in our yard. Long story short, her family needed a space to garden, we had space that needed to be gardened. Or wait, I guess that really is the whole story. Anyways, my kids haven't been too involved in the whole set-up part of this process yet, but I am envisioning them having fun watching all of the food growing up out of the beds and working in the kitchen to prepare meals from some of the garden's eventual bounty.

Hobo Mama and our collective children planting gobs of pea vines.

We also put in a brand-spankin' new deck in May 2010. It was like adding on another room to our house. If the weather is nice, which it is right now maybe 50% of the time, we're out there. Relaxing, eating, playing, you name it.

Our house is nicely situated close to a playground that has a wading pool. We are at said playground maybe 3-5 times a week. When the pool re-opens for the summer we will be down there every day we can splashing in the water.

The other beautiful thing is that any resident of Seattle, including us, is very close to "beaches" of the Puget Sound. I say "beaches" because if you are a reader from, say Florida or Michigan, what you are thinking of as a beach is not what we have. Ours are rocky and cold. Yours are sandy and warm. While our beaches don't lend themselves to slathering oneself with cocoa butter and frying in the sun all afternoon, they do nicely lend themselves to amazing exploratory expeditions. Recently the tides have been getting quite low and the girls and I have found ourselves splashing though tide pools in our boots. We turn over rocks to look for starfish and crab. We find moon shells and jellyfish. It's so much fun.

Playing keep-away with a starfish.

All of our time on the beach is spent with a backdrop of islands, mountains, water and ferries.

Iris and a friend at the Lincoln Park beach.

We don't ride the ferries as much as I would like to-- they really are so much fun-- but we do occasionally. Earlier this Spring when the girls were finally on the mend from the chicken pox we took a day trip to Vashon Island. Once there we explored two different beaches and played on a fun playground at Dockton Beach Park overlooking Quartermaster Harbor and Lisabuela Park overlooking the Puget Sound on the the west side of the island. At Lisabuela, especially, the girls played for a very long time with just rocks and sticks as I sat on a log and took in the peacefulness. At one point they constructed a whole drum set and microphone stands and put on a show. Clear evidence that kids don't need fancy toys to entertain themselves!

The band on the beach.

While I may occasionally be heard griping about the rain, the truth is, Seattle's weather is my absolute favorite. Does it rain a lot? Yes, it does. But! It very rarely rains so much that we can't be out in it. We all own rain boots and rain jackets. The girls have rain pants. At school and at home, the girls are outside rain or shine and they don't seem to mind it either way. The rain provides for lots of puddle jumping, after all!

I could write on and on. I could write about vacationing on Orcas Island. About driving up to the mountains to go sledding when it's about 50 degrees at our house back in the city. About going apple picking in central Washington. About visiting Snoqualmie Falls. I'm not even an outdoor aficionado and I swear there is just so much to do it makes even the laziest couch potato sound like they could write an adventure travel guide.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:


  1. Oh, my gosh, you sound just like me! I mean, besides living in the same city & all. I describe myself as an indoorsy person, but even so, even so, Seattle has made me less curmudgeonly. And when I lived in Indiana, everyone said I would hate the weather here. Not a chance! It's absolutely perfect for me, since I hate being too hot or too cold and don't mind gray. In fact, it's just made me appreciate the sun more!

    Thanks again for letting us garden at your place this year. It's so exciting and so much fun! I'm still tickled at how many peas the kids managed to plant from one little packet of seeds.

    I must say, too: That picture of your girls rockin' out on the beach is priceless. They look fierce!

  2. Wow, that sounds amazing. I really love Australia and where we live, but everything is so far away. We have the same landscape for literally hundreds of kilometres.
    You'll continue to love the deck, outdoor play areas and rooms are the best. We spend so much time outside here and at my parents house on their deck, it's just natural. But if you're in a house without that outside space you don't seem to miss it.

  3. (sob) We were planning a vacation to Seattle for the summer, but our finances are looking dreary. Your post is making me wonder what strings I can pull to magically make everything work out. ANYWAY! I have to force myself to go outside too, but I am doing much better this year. I really do love being out there, as long as I have some shade ;) Kieran is (unfortunately) already pulling the "but I don't wanna go outside" (whine whine whine) - totally uncool for a 2.5 yr old. We will be forcing ourselves outside this summer to combat his indoorsy-ness.

  4. I am a fellow indoorsy person so going outside to play requires some serious self-motivation. I will do it more often though. Although, it gets pretty hot and miserable where I live so I'd better get started on enjoying the nice weather before it gets awful.

    And now I'm inspired to visit Seattle.

  5. Hooray for the gardening trade off -- that sounds like a fabulous deal for you both. Totally happy to hear about your trip to Vashon on the ferry, as well. I have been wanting to do that with my girls (gulp) and am glad to have some destinations in mind once we get there. Fun fun!

  6. I have never been to the West Coast (barring a few days as a kid in LA while moving to and from Guam). The climate of the Seattle area is appealing to me. Not to cold, not to hot. You make it sound even mroe appealing :). I love the story of the girls making a stage and putting on a concert :). Seeing kids minds work unhindered is such a special thing.

  7. I've been to almost every state in the contiguous US but Washington is one I haven't been to (Oregon and Maine are the others). This sounds so beautiful that it really makes me want to visit. I'm also so jealous that you and Lauren get to hang out. I wish I lived near or knew another "crunchy" mama. Your kids are darling!

  8. I so wish I could share your enthusiasm. The truth is that I love the rain, but I do really not like the gray. When I lived in South Africa and also when I lived in Malaysia I found sitting or lying on warm paving watching the lightning in the sky and feeling the rain on my skin one of the most soul soothing things to do. I don't like the continuous and cold drizzle though. One thing it has taught me though, is not to let anything stand in the way of our doing things. If I waited for good weather, we'd rarely do anything! Those are beautiful pictures too. It's great to know there are other mamas out there who brave the rain and do more than playgroups, coffee mornings and tv too! (although we do all three as well!)

  9. I love how you say at the beginning of the post that you don't really have much to talk about when it comes to what to do outside, but this post was great and chalk full of information on fun stuff to do in Seattle! It really makes me wish I could visit!

  10. I so want to visit Seattle. Now I want to MORE!


Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment!