An Urban Outdoor Adventure Guest Post for Rain or Shine Mamma

I must admit that I am a bit envious of my fellow nature lovers and outdoorsy families who live next to pristine nature preserves on the outskirts of breathtaking national parks, but alas, that is not the geographical landscape we live in here in Los Angeles. We live smack dab in the middle of a sprawling urban city and so, we must be creative and determined in our hunt for outdoor adventure. Here is a guest post I wrote for Linda at Rain or Shine Mamma, which details seven of our  family’s most favorite outdoor urban activities, designed to you get you and your kids outside and into nature!
Adventures in Urban Hiking
Hiking in an urban setting can mean something as simple as stepping foot outside your door and making the decision to turn left or right. You’d be surprised how much there is to discover and learn with your children, just by making a trip around the block. Gather items like rocks, seed pods, berries and  leaves to use as tools for teaching how varied leaf textures can be or to open a discussion on the difference between metamorphic and sedentary rock formations. 
Urban hiking is a great way to start if you’re a novice because it’s easy. Let’s face it, you’re never too far from a restaurant or a store, so no need to buy a grappling hook or expensive high tech hiking boots. Just pack a light lunch, some water and use it as a way to take in the sights, study the surrounding architecture and reflect on the distinctions of the enveloping sounds. Better yet, on a nice warm evening, adventure out on a nighttime walk and allow your child  to examine how differently the world seems when the sun goes down.

Read the Full Article at Rain or Shine Mamma!

Meandering Among the Majestic Monarchs – A Recharging Family Roadtrip

The day-to-day grind of being a work at home mom can definitely get overwhelming and trust me, I’ve had more than a few Calgon moments over the past few months. Don’t get me wrong, I consider myself very lucky. My husband and I have thriving freelance businesses which allow us the luxury of maintaining our own schedules which in turn, give us more family time, but sometimes the itch to unplug and recharge becomes so great that we just have to “get out of dodge”!

kid portrait

So, needless to say, when my mom told me she was headed up north to Pismo Beach for some meetings, I cleared our schedule and we jumped in the car! Pismo Beach is a sleepy little beach community a few hours north of Los Angeles, up the famous Pacific Coast Highway, nestled in between wine country, state parks, majestic mountains and white sand beaches. It offers peaceful solitude, lazy walks, monumental sunsets and an awe-inspiring Monarch Butterfly grove!

Sometimes, the very act of changing your scenery can adjust your outlook and it was just our luck that our hotel was steps from the white powder-sand beach, the boardwalk and a huge pier, perfect for watching the sunset. Since birth, I have had an affection for the sounds of moving water. When I was younger, I had a secret place I would go to when I needed to be alone. It was basically just a drainage ditch dressed up with rocks and foliage. To me, it was a babbling brook where I could sit in silence for hours contemplating my teenage angst. I think I got it from my mom. She is happiest when the sound of the surf is within earshot.

Family Beach Portrait - Pismo Beach

We whiled away most of the weekend just spending time with each other, searching for sea glass, building sandcastles and running in the surf. On our way back down to Los Angeles, we made sure to stop at the Monarch Butterfly Grove and it just so happened that it was Western Monarch Day. We seriously couldn’t have been luckier!

As we entered the butterfly grove we walked into a full blown festival complete with art activities for the kids, a drum circle, CAKE and educational exhibitions. They brought to life “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and had magnifying glasses for the kids (and adults) to see, up close and personal, the life cycle of the Monarch, starting from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis. It was a beautiful day full of moments we will keep close to our hearts forever.

Kid Face Painting

There’s a very delicate line we must constantly walk, it’s a sweet balancing act between expecting independent play while mommy works and both of us losing our minds. I must say that the outdoors is not only a place for V to run, jump, explore and discover, it’s a shining beacon of sanity for me! If we are cooped up in the house for too long, we both start to lose our minds and so it is into the woods we go (even if mom’s on deadline).

Kid Hiking Outdoors

The one thing I’ve learned with our newest adventure in parenting is, when the walls start closing in, it’s exponentially more beneficial to all of us to simply stop and get out on a trail, even if for an hour. There truly is nothing that hits the reset button more quickly than a nature walk. The crunch of the leaves under foot, a distant woodpecker knocking, the sun warming the back of our necks, all aid in calming our minds and bringing the smile back to our faces.

Join Mommy Hiker & #OutdoorFamilies Wed. 2/12 @ 1:30PM PST For The Inaugural #OutFam Weekly TweetChat

Greetings from Mommy Hiker HQ! Apparently I don’t have enough irons in the fire so I’ve taken on another project and I couldn’t be more excited!

An amazing group of outdoor family bloggers has come together to share their expertise in a new Twitter Chat focusing on outdoor family adventures. We’ve been sharing our stories and insight through the #OuttdoorFamilies‬ hashtag for awhile but now we’re taking the next step and opening up the conversation through the chat-friendly hashtag, #OutFam. Not only am I thrilled to be a part of this group, but to be able to connect with these inspiring adventurers from all over North America is a true testament to the power of social media. 

#OutdoorFamilies TweetChat #OutFam

I hope you’ll join us on Twitter this Wednesday, February 12th, at 1:30pm PST, to share your ideas and experience as well as learn from this collection of adventuring families who really know their stuff. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, there will be something for everyone, hoping to inspire each other to get out there more to discover the beauty and wonder Mother Nature has to offer.

And guess who gets to play co-host right out of the gate? Veteran Granola Mom herself Val from ValInRealLife, teaming up with Melissa of Chasqui Mom to talk about Love of the Outdoors! Then, NEXT Wednesday, February 19th is yours truly, so of course we’ll be talking all things hiking! 

Check us out on Twitter: @ValinRealLife, @Melissabravery, @Jen_Fontaine and #OutFam. 

Come join the conversation! Wednesdays at 4:30 pm EST/1:30 PST (30 minutes) starting February 12th.