I Heart Earthroots

Visiting the hot springs at Casper's earlier this fall.

So, after that last laundry list of chores I posted, my sister expressed sisterly exasperation about 1) my lack of posting and 2) my current limited range of topics.

Sorry, All, life’s been getting in the way. I’m still here stuffing as much silly fun into my life as I can manage, but also trying to organize my household. It’s hard to balance the two – for me.

Watching tadpoles at O'Neill Regional Park.

I’ve really been loving our Earthroots class. Seriously, if you live in south Orange County and you have kids, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you check out Earthroots. (Yes, I work for them.) (No, I’m not getting paid or any other perks to say how much I love them.)

My reasoning goes like this: According to the guy from Simplicity Parenting, our young-uns have something like four times the amount of neural activity going on than the average adult, which is why kids are such mind-boggling information sponges and can learn new languages, recite arcane details from last summer’s vacation, etc, etc.

This is an enormous responsibility for parents; we need to surround our kids with plenty of healthy stimulation, but where to find that?

OUTDOORS.

And not just outdoors, but as wild as outdoors as possible. That way kids get maximum stimulation on every sensory front, but without all the assault (and battery) of toxic plastics, harsh colors, and canned sounds. Let’s face it, no indoors room, no matter how well-decorated or well-stocked, can ever match the infinite variety and beauty of a simple wooded hill or pond.

So, I believe that you raise smarter, healthier kids when you have them spend time outdoors as much as possible. Every day if possible. But hey, even I don’t always manage that. Today, I’ve only gone down to the garage once. Yep, that’s been our only trip outdoors today. But tomorrow is Earthroots and I know I’ll get a good five solid hours in the Cleveland National Forest and that we’ll be outdoors all day.

Building a fire in the cob oven, in which we roasted veggies and baked a vegan, gluten-free pizza!

I also find that the homeschool field school program, which meets at a new location every week, really stretches me to explore new adventures. Last week our class spent the day bicycling around the Newport Back Bay. Despite my outdoors inclination, I’d never even visited the Back Bay until Earthroots, much less biked around it. It was really uphill for me to get there too, because normally Chad deals with all the bike stuff, the car stuff, the direction stuff, and the toting the baby around stuff.

In a nutshell, I got lost, I couldn’t get the baby bike seat on, and then I was completely freaked about biking on Chad’s bike for the first time… and riding with Christian on the bike for the first time. And this is coming from somebody who has been on 700+ mile bike rides and has even lead bike rides through France and New England. What I’m saying is that, if somebody like me is stumped by getting outdoors, I can sure appreciate that it would be hard for other moms who aren’t even that comfortable camping, hiking, or peeing in the woods.

But! I made it there, I met the group (late), and I had one of the my best days of 2011 so far. There was one other mom, three instructors, and only two other kids. Those two kids were energetic boys on dirt bikes and so we were not limited by speed or even our group size. We had plenty of time to cycle leisurely, watch people track the endangered clapper rail (a bird), climb trees, and search for good lunch spots.

In fact, we past what I though was our day’s destination, in the first hour of class, and we just kept on going.

At one point we paused along the shore and took a short explore walk. I was looking down into the reeds and I saw the cutest wild animal I have ever seen: a wild weasel.

It was a gorgeous rust red, about the length of my forearm, with a jet black tail tip, and so graceful and ethereal that I hardly believed I was seeing a real animal. That was awesome, not to mention that I now have a great touchstone image for lucid dreaming (more on that later).

I don’t know if it’s because we are just out early (we start at 9 am) or it’s just that we are out so regularly, but I’ve been seeing a lot of wildlife in class, including whales (!!!) sea lions, eels (!!), and many birds of prey, like the osprey.

P.S. The video below is of Anna and Christian working on their fire-making skills.

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