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I started writing this post last week, but didn’t get it done. Our spunky little grandma passed away and all our focus has been there the last little bit, as it should be. With Earth Day tomorrow, I’m sorry that this is such late notice, but hopefully you understand. I know it’s only a day away, but there is still time for some fun!
Happy Earth Day 2016!
I’m going to take a lot of flack for this, but Earth Day is one of my favorite holidays. Yes, I consider it a holiday. I’m sure my brothers are all laughing right now, but I don’t care.
I LOVE Earth Day.
I guess it’s that hippie streak in me, but being in nature soothes my soul. It’s where I feel closest to God and feel peace, no matter what is going on in the rest of my life. Being outside gives me clarity of thought and calmness of spirit. I feel good, whole. I’m one of those people who honest to goodness needs green growing things, big blue sky, sunshine, and clean air. Being a city girl would be incredibly hard on my wide open spaces loving heart. I try to spend time outdoors every single day, and when I’m inside you will usually find all the blinds wide open or with every light on in the house. I don’t do dark, cold prison cell well.
A walk down a quiet dirt road, a hike up the mountain, working in the garden, playing in the rain… these are the things that fill my cup.
Growing up on the mountain, I was raised with a code.
An order that if followed gave me freedom.
You can find that code HERE.
Over Spring Break, we ran into this…
Obviously, somebody wasn’t taught the code!
It’s a well known fact in these parts that nothing pushes my buttons more than litter and destruction. It is my number one pet peeve and it makes me rage. It’s all fun and games until you litter at camp or throw something out my car window. Then, you’ve taken your life in your hands. You think I kid? I’m talking rage, like spinning heads Poltergeist style rage. It’s not pretty.
Poison Spider is such a fun, family friendly trail that it is so sad to see it defaced like this! Why would anyone want to destroy the beauty? This “art” is all over the inside of the cave near the arch and every time we visit, it gets worse.
I just don’t get it.
A couple weeks ago, KSL News and outdoor photographer Phill Monson both shared about the defacement of the Zebra slot canyon down near Escalante. The Zebra is an amazing place, if you haven’t been, plan a trip RIGHT NOW!
I’m sure these love birds meant no harm and are probably cute peeps, but really?
Get his & hers t-shirts. Over-gram your love on social media. Put a snip of his hair in a locket. Get your car wrapped with your engagement photo. Make a 4 foot wide pallet sign to hang over your door.
For the love, save the scenery and get a tattoo, y’all!
Rage… deep breaths…. back to the post.
Maybe if more parents took time to teach their kids the code, things like this would decrease.
We obviously are slacking as a society, so what can we do?
Well, how about teach the next generation?
Earth Day seems like the perfect time to get in a little teaching AND some fun as a family too.
Earth Day 2016 Prep & Ideas:
First, lets talk a little bit about the why…
Rebecca from Simple As That wrote a fabulous post about families and the outdoors, sharing what being outside has done for her family.
She even includes a free printable nature quote. I totally agree with what she wrote and have found the same benefits in our family. Her post got me thinking, what exactly is it about nature that rejuvenates us and helps us connect?
I found two articles about the correlation between nature and well being that I learned a lot from. There’s THIS one by the American Psychological Association that talks about how nature affects the body and then THIS one over at Psychology Today that explains how nature makes us happy. Both are totally worth the read and give a lot to think about as a parent. I guess that explains why being outside makes me feel good!
There is so much to learn about the link between nature and how we feel that a whole new field of study has emerged called Ecopsychology.
It’s all so fascinating to me!
Ok, now we know a little bit more why we want to get outside, so what can we do once we get out there?
Here are 10 ideas for getting outdoors
and celebrating Earth Day as a family
Visit the Zoo
Zoos across America are celebrating Earth Day with a Party for the Planet. Hogle Zoo here in Utah will be celebrating from 10-2 on Saturday, April 23rd. There will be presentations, booths to explore, and of course, all the animals. If you are out of state, look up your local zoo and see if they are partying too!
Take a walk
Lace up your shoes and go for a family stroll. While you walk, talk about nature and why you love it. Ask your kids what they love about being outside and what makes them happy. Point out bird nests, leaf buds, colts in the pasture, spring flowers, or even types of clouds. Bonus: Bring a trash bag and hunt for litter along the way.
National Parks Week
This week is National Parks Week and all entry fees are waved! We are so lucky in Utah to have the Mighty 5, and I try to get my fam there every chance I can. We hit up Arches a couple weeks ago and it was so fun! We explored the visitor center (my son’s favorite thing to do at any place we go.) and then hiked Delicate Arch with my parents, brothers and sisters, and all my tiny nieces and nephews.
The wildflowers are in bloom and everywhere you look there is something beautiful to see.
There is so much to do as a family at a National Park and what better time to go then Earth Day? Many parks will have service opportunities for individuals and families to do in conjunction with Earth Day so if that interests you, call your favorite park or go HERE to find out how you can help.
Zion’s National Park and the town of Springdale are celebrating with Zion Canyon Earth Day on Saturday, April 23 from 11-5 on the lawn of 1212 Zion Park Boulevard. There is live music, art, information, and activities for kids. Explore the park and then join in for the festivities! Find out more HERE.
Arches National Park is having a Ranger Adventure this coming Saturday from 9am-1pm, and it’s completely free!
Meet scientists, rescue personnel, even archeologists!
Find out more about their awesome plans HERE.
Picnic at the Park
Pack up a picnic lunch and head out to your local park. The next couple days are supposed to be beautiful here in Utah, so get out and enjoy them even if you only have an hour. Bring a frisbee, toss a football, push your kid on the swing just this once. Oh be honest, you know you avoid parks because you hate swing duty! Enjoy dinner together then when it’s time to go home, look around and see what you can clean up. Ask your fam what you could do to make your park a prettier place. If you find a real need, maybe get some friends together and fix it. I will never forget being a part of the service crew that built the Discovery Park in Pleasant Grove. Every time I go there with my family, I feel a little swell of pride in my heart even all these years later. Every kid that helped out on that project gained a sense of ownership and respect. That’s what hard work and service does! You just can’t get that from a video game.
Speaking of service, why not volunteer as a family for Earth Day?
Call up your local visitor’s center or county offices and ask them what your family could do for your community. Drive around your neighborhood or town and see if you can spot a need. Clean a trail. Pick up trash along a highway or host a neighborhood clean up. Head on over to your forest service or the DNR office and ask how you can help. Pull weeds for the little old lady down the street. The sky’s the limit!
Visit a Nursery and Plant Flowers
Take your family to the local nursery and learn about plants and flowers that are native to your area. Let each kid pick a favorite then go home and help them plant them. That plant can be theirs to tend and nurture. My girls LOVE to water our plants, it’s like this big adult chore that they get to do that makes them special. Each year I let them choose some flowers or veggies to grow and they love it. Their own little plot of earth.
Plant a Tree
Why not help out with that goal and plant a tree!
Arbor Day in Utah with April 29th this year, one week after Earth Day. I think it’s totally cool to combine the two and do one big activity or if you want, celebrate both! Trees for everyone!
If you haven’t checked out the Arbor Day website it is a fun little resource. You can look up what trees are best suited for your area and they even have tree planting instructions. If you live in an apartment or don’t need another tree. Call your community leaders and ask if you can donate one then go plant it for them. Is your town a Tree City? If not, be a catalyst! HERE’S how.
By the way, National Geographic has a beautiful little slide show of 10 Remarkable Trees in honor of Earth Day that I know my son is going to love! Check it out! Oh, and do you follow NatGeo on Instagram? If not, you totally should. This planet of ours is rad.
If planting a tree just isn’t an option for you, consider donating HERE to the Earth Day Network.
$10 = 10 trees!
Tour a Recycling Center
I am a huge proponent for recycling and have been since I was a tween. My kids have grown up recycling and don’t know any different. A few years ago, my hubby paid for a recycling service (Our county is lame and doesn’t recycle with the garbage service) for my birthday. I now have a big blue can that makes me life sooooo much easier. For years I had to take all my recycling over to a local business and separate it all, so the blue can makes me very happy! Haha. What can I say, I’m easy to please.Our local recycling businesses are awesome and welcome families to visit. Give yours a call and set up a tour. Your family can learn things like what can and can’t be recycled, how they recycle different items, and tips for recycling as a family.When you get home, research what can be made from recycled materials, you might be surprised!
Make a Recycled Craft
Now that you know what can be made from recycled items, it’s time to get creative!
I mean, how freaking cute are these little Egg Carton Turtles from Emma Owl?
via Emma Owl
If nothing else, just get outside!
Take the evening off to go fishing with your kids. Jump on the trampoline. Lay out and look at the stars. Hit the hiking trail or bike path near your home. Go bird watching or hunt for wildflowers. If you are in Utah, you could go enjoy the Bulbs and Blooms Festival at Red Butte Gardens or the Tulip Festival at Thanksgiving Point. If your family is into learning about animals but the zoo isn’t your thing, head up to Farm Animal Days in Wellsville, Utah. Who doesn’t love a farm of baby animals? Especially when that farm is in beautiful Cache Valley. Is this where I say “Go Aggies”?
Anyway, I could go on for days but you get the idea.
Open the front door, walk out, and breathe.
I believe that every opportunity a child has to interact with nature, is one step closer to falling in love with the world around him. Some are born in awe of this earth, and others have to be taught. We have to take time as parents to give our kids the chance to run free, feel the sun on their face, and see the miracles that surround us. Maybe it’s old-fashioned to teach respect for the land, but maybe old-fashioned is exactly what we need.
Happy Earth Day 2016!
Grab your family and get outside.
What is your favorite kind of tree?