Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Natural Mommy

Hi, splendid people!

I'm sorry I haven't posted in a while. I know this has become a lame recurring line. But I've been hiding something from you, something very big and very wild and very exhilarating, something you might not have expected from me:




Got you there, didn't I?

No, no more babies here. Thank the Pope. But actually wild, exhilarating, un-Crabmommyish things have been afoot. People, the shocking news is as follows:


I never thought I'd utter the word "yurt." It's a very un-Crabmommylike word. Like the word "staycation", "yurt" just isn't a word with which I typically associate myself. (Don't know what a yurt is? I forgive you! Go here for a gander.)

But, see, while I don't believe in sacrificing one's mental health and comfort and right to laziness as a parent, I've also got a healthy dose of guiltmommy in me, enough of a dose at least to ensure that we force ourselves into the great outdoors every summer. This is a promise I made myself. Because as a citymom with a minuscule pad, I am attuned to the fact that my tot doesn't get as much outdoorsyness as a mother might like her to have. And aside from enjoying a frolic in nature, our children will turn into mega-wimps if they don't partake of the bracing pleasures of wilderness life.

And that is why I forced Crabhubby to take us camping last year, as some of you will recall. And he actually enjoyed it. And Crabkid adored it. And I still got to boss everyone around, so I adored it too. And so this year, again we have been camping. Subsequently followed by a trip to a yurt. In a state park. This one. And it rocked. And don't you dare book it in August next year. There are only 8 of these particular puppies in this here park, and if one of you books the last one before I get to it, I will find out, and I will hunt you down and beat you senseless with a foam noodle.

The best thing about our yurt? The DVD player.

Oh dear, this nature campaign isn't going very well. Let me start over, because tongue out of cheek for a moment, connecting to the great outdoors does actually mean something to me as a parent. And so when the Forest Service asked me to pass on this cool link I accepted their request with great pleasure. Where The Other You Lives is a US Forest Service and Ad Council Public Service Announcement to get folks off their collective booty and into our splendiferous state parks. And even a crabby mommy like me is all for it.

Did you know U.S. children spend 50% less time outdoors than 20 years ago? That's dang lame, man! Does it mean in another 20 years, American childhood will be a wholly indoor venture? Yeesh!

Clearly we all know the benefits of getting our tots and tweens and teens out into nature, but few of us apparently get out and do it. So if you haven't done a camping/yurting/daytripping activity into a state park near you this year, and you are feeling guilty, go with the guilt! And nip out quickly before school starts! Or play hooky the first week. Seriously, little Champiqua will be just fine if she misses her one-on-one with the teacher and all the nonsense of the first week: she'll be far better off shaking her sillies out in a sand dune or on a river or up a redwood tree.

And did you know that if your teen knows how to use a compass, you will automatically receive a full semester of tuition from the Ivy League college of your choice? Talk about incentive!

Got you again!

Ah, but indeed, nature's bounty will only stimulate young Worthington's neural cortex in all the right ways, making it ever so much easier for him to concentrate on both his chess game and his Advanced Peace Studies curriculum in that seventh grade of prep school. Research has proven this abundantly. Plus being out there is just plain fun. The state parks are ridiculously amazing in this country, and this comes from a skeptical, cynical, meanspirited moaner.

Don't know where to go? DON'T BE SO STUPID. I mean, ahem, The Forest Service's new website has loads of choice info and excellent resources. And you don't have to pussy out of it and stay in a yurt. You can stay in a tent too. We did that earlier in our summer. At this absurdly heavenly state park. It was swell, but rain on day three encouraged us to take advantage of Oregon's hippie side and reserve a night in a yurt for a subsequent foray (two nature sojourns in one summer! As you can see, I am becoming an outdoorswoman). The yurt was bloody excellent. Dora the Explorer is so much more fun to watch when you are actually exploring. Ahem, I mean, the sounds of nature and the bonhomie of family time was a thrill even for this jadedmommy.

So go here and learn more. And props to the Forest Service for putting this together. And props to the Forest Service for having one of my family in its corps: Crabkid's Uncle Dave is a smokejumper with the Forest Service. This is a seriously crazy job involving parachuting into forest fires. Shweesh!

I close this message with 2 pics, not of the yurt, but of a ghostly, spooky landscape in Oregon stumbled upon while we were out in the wild. The gray beach sky meshed with the gray sand. We staggered around as though in a dream. It was creepy and magical and astonishing. Even I was humbled, and as you all know it takes a lot to humble the Crabmommy.

So, go camping, go yurting [did I actually say "go yurting?"], but whatever you do get outside and take the whiny ones with you. They will pipe down when you threaten them with tales of brown bears being drawn to human wailing.

Camp on, dear friends, but here's my personal public service announcement, familiar to those who have heard it before: Please, for the love of Joseph Smith, don't wear a head lamp. I repeat: do not wear a dorky head lamp. It is just going wayyyy too far. And I will never forgive you for it.

Ultimately, here's the thing about camping: even if you don't enjoy camping, you will thank yourself for having camped. And, the little ones—they will thank you for it.

Any camping trips afoot, y'all?


SA Expats said...

Here we only have the desert to camp in.

fogcitymama said...

We just returned from an excellent camping adventure up in Gualala, CA. We were camped by a lovely river, lined with enormous Redwood trees. And the stars!! The 7 kids adored it, and cannot wait to head to Yosemite this Fall. Camping was made for families.

Anonymous said...

Hell, I love your posts! I am mom to a little 5 year old girl, so can tell you I 100% associate with what you write. And I hail from CT. So there. Credentials established, I will now go tell JhbDad to take us camping. Or at least book us into a nice little chalet in Dullstroom and teach the princess how to fish.... While I get to read my book. Bliss. You have such bloody good ideas. -SACrabmommyCheerer

kim @ mommyknows said...

We love to camp. We plan on heading out in early October (as long as there is no snow) to the Willmore Wilderness Park in the Canadian Rockies.

I can't wait.

xxxxxx said...

I hate camping. period.

But Yellowstone was awesome. I highly recommend it....I was 8 weeks along with my fourth and puking along the roadside but still hauled my exhaustive being through these fascinating trails. It was more interesting than Hawaii.

And I would camp if that was the only way to go there again. Hotels are fairly expensive there.

Glad you had so much fun...!

tonypark said...

In Joburg tonight and off to zimbabwe tomorrow. Will pick up our old land rover and head off to Hwange National Park to camp and do a 24-hour game census out in the bush.

It doesn't get much camping-er than that.

I can't wait.

It's good to be back in Africa.