Wednesday photo of the week: upward

2016-05-11 - Holly Farm Park

Image | Posted on by | Leave a comment

How we celebrated #KidstoParks Day 2016

Last Saturday was the National Park Trust’s annual Kids to Parks Day. I hosted a giveaway here for two cool National Geographic kid’s books about national parks, and the random winner was Stephanie of Raising Kids Wild. Thank you all who entered!

We spent Saturday morning at one of our favorite natural areas in the Portland region, Tualatin Hills Nature Park in Beaverton. Enjoy these photos of some of what we saw!


Siblings are happiest together when outside


Impressive fort we came upon


Do you see the bunny behind the skunk cabbage?


Robin egg – leafminer tunnels – old lichen pattern – Pacific sideband snail


Spying a song sparrow nest


Love that this park has two of our Children at Nature Play signs!




Posted in books, national parks, tualatin hills nature park, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Monday thought of the week: let my kids be kids

A thought:

… I respectfully ask that you let my kids be kids.

– Julie Walsh Holcombe, in an open letter to a guard or teacher who told her sons not to climb trees and go home after school hours. Check out her Facebook post to see the permission slip for climbing trees she typed up, too.

Posted in nature play, thoughts, trees, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Upcoming nature events in Portland

— Please check for any schedule changes or registration requirements —

Nature-based camps for Summer 2016 – now registering!

Community canoe paddle schedule with Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership

Now playing at OMSI’s Empirical Theater in 3D: National Parks Adventure

Starting April 2: 10-part “Explore Your Natural Areas” program from Portland Parks & Recreation

Portland-Vancouver Regional Eco-Blitz Series: May 7 at Graham Oaks Nature Park in Wilsonville; May 14 at Fernhill Wetlands in Forest Grove; May 21 at Powell Butte Nature Park in Portland; and May 21 at Fort Vancouver

Upcoming paddle events with Tualatin Riverkeepers

Nature classes at Hoyt Arboretum, Summerlake City Park (Tigard), and Mary S. Young Park (West Linn) from Tinkergarten

Sunset nature programs & Lunch with the Birds with Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve (Hillsboro)

Discovery Hikes with the Forest Park Conservancy

Hike series with Friends of the Columbia River Gorge

Hike series with Oregon Wild

Winter & spring and summer nature programming (pp. 165-170) from THPRD

Spring nature programming from the Friends of Tryon Creek

Spring nature programming at Jackson Bottom Wetlands (Hillsboro)

Spring nature programming at the Tillamook Forest Center

Free Skills Series from Rewild Portland (every month)

Bird watching outings with Audubon Society of Portland

Bird walks with Backyard Bird Shop


May 21 | Kids to Parks Day | National Park Trust

May 21 | Tualatin River Bird Festival | Friends of the Refuge

May 21 | Summer Splash FREE Kayak Demo Day | Next Adventure

May 21 | Free Metro parks day | Metro

May 22 | Turtle Walk at Smith and Bybee Wetlands | Metro

May 26 | Evening Canoe the Slough | Columbia Slough Watershed Council

June | Great Outdoors Month

June 1-12 | 30th Annual Great Blue Heron Week | The Intertwine

June 4 | National Trails Day | American Hiking Society

June 4 | Guided Nature Walk, 9:30am | Tualatin Hills Nature Park

June 5 | Trees of Scouters Mountain Nature Park | Metroy

June 11 | National GetOutdoors Day | NFW

June 11 | Explorando el Columbia Slough | Columbia Slough Watershed Council

June 14 | Kalmiopsis Discovery Day | Leach Botanical Garden

June 18 | The Birds of Killin Wetlands | Metro

June 20 | Toothrock Full Moon Hike | Friends of the Columbia Gorge

June 22 | 6th Annual Regional Trails Fair | Metro

June 25 | Great American Campout | NFW

June 25 | 27th Annual Tualatin River Discovery Day | Tualatin Riverkeepers

June 25 | Animal Tracking Adventure | Metro

June 26 | Sunday Parkways: North Portland | Portland Bureau of Transportation

June 26 | Dry Creek Falls Hike and Sternwheeler Days | Friends of the Columbia Gorge

June 29 | International Mud Day | Everywhere

June 30 | Twilight Thursday at Smith and Bybee Wetlands | Metro

July 7 | Free Metro parks day | Metro

July 23 | Guided Nature Walk, 9:30am | Tualatin Hills Nature Park

July 24 | Sunday Parkways: Northeast Portland | Portland Bureau of Transportation

August 13 | Guided Nature Walk, 9:30am | Tualatin Hills Nature Park

August 15 | Best Adventures Near Portland Release Party | Adam Sawyer

August 21 | Sunday Parkways: Southeast Portland | Portland Bureau of Transportation

September 17 | Guided Nature Walk, 9:30am | Tualatin Hills Nature Park

September 24 | National Public Lands Day | NEEF

October 2 | Sunday Parkways: Sellwood-Milwaukie | Portland Bureau of Transportation

Regular nature outings (check websites for seasonal scheduling):
Nature Days in the Park and Nature Mobile from THPRD’s Natural Resources
Honeybee Hikes at Leach Botanical Garden
Story and Strolls and Guided Nature Walks at Tryon Creek State Park
Ladybug Nature Walks with Portland Parks Environmental Education
Puddle Stompers at Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge
Tadpole Tales with Columbia Slough Watershed Council (beginning May 2)
Farm Fridays at Zenger Farm
Second Saturdays at the Water Resources Education Center in Vancouver, WA
Guided hikes at Columbia Springs in Vancouver, WA (third Wed. of most months)
Tillamook Tales at the Tillamook Forest Center

Did you know?
– $2 admission at OMSI the first Sunday of every month
– $3 admission at the World Forestry Center the first Thursday of every month
– $4 admission at the Oregon Zoo the second Tuesday of every month
– FREE admission at the Portland Art Museum the first Thursday of every month, 5-8pm
– FREE admission at the Portland Children’s Museum the first Friday of every month, 4-8pm
– FREE admission at the Oregon Historical Society & Museum every day for Multnomah County residents

*My friend Laura posts a monthly listing of kid and family-friendly events of natural, scientific, and cultural interest. May’s list is here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wednesday photo of the week: tree trekker


Image | Posted on by | Leave a comment

BOOK REVIEW: A Little Bit of Dirt: 55+ Science and Art Activities to Reconnect Children with Nature

“It’s easiest to imagine outdoor play on a sunny, warm day, maybe even on a beach with waves crashing and warm sand between your toes, but outdoor play is important for kids year-round.” So says Asia Citro of the website Fun at Home with Kids. And with her new book A Little Bit of Dirt, parents, teachers, and caregivers can find inspiration for simple ways to engage their kid’s interest out the front door.


Asia Citro, A Little Bit of Dirt: 55+ Science and Art Activities to Reconnect Children with Nature (Woodinville, WA: The Innovation Press, 2016), 128 pp. Photography by Asia Centro. US $16.99.

Citro notes that these activities do not necessarily need to be done in a natural space. Gathering the materials necessary for the activity and bringing them inside to do still provides a sense of connection to nature – by observing, touching, and manipulating natural objects. And while she also notes that “unstructured play in nature is ideal” (the sort of nature connection that makes up 99% of the time my kids and I spend outside), sometimes parents will find that their kids need a little extra motivation for what to do.

So A Little Bit of Dirt might not be the book for every family, but for those who are constantly asking, “Well, what can we do outside?” it is perhaps the starting point and return-to guidance that is needed to make outside play a part of every day. The book consists of 52 activities – perfect for a year of nature fun! And the author’s wonderful photographs of her own kids along with some friends doing various activities are enjoyable to see.

Posted in books, nature art, nature play, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Monday thought of the week: they miss out

A thought:

The wild world is becoming so remote to children that they miss out – and an interest in the natural world doesn’t grow as it should. Nobody is going to protect the natural world unless they understand it.

Sir David Attenborough, commenting for the BBC in 2008 (see here, here, and here). On May 8 Attenborough turned 90 years old, with no signs of slowing down in the television work he does that inspires scores of people to fall in love with nature. And the BBC is celebrating! Also, you can watch his programs while playing Sir David Attenbingo. No, really.

Posted in david attenborough, thoughts, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Post-epilepsy surgery update

My daughter Afton had brain surgery on February 29th to treat her right temporal lobe epilepsy. Some breakthrough seizures followed on March 4th. But I am happy to report that today she is two months seizure-free! Hopeful that this will stretch to a lifetime for her. Right now, we’ll do our best to get outside and play everyday, for those are her happiest moments. And mine.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wednesday photo of the week: jump!


Image | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Monday thought of the week: a wonderland to me

A thought:

I was just a twelve, thirteen year old boy, and it was just a wonderland to me. If I could, I would just do the same thing today that I did then but it would look funny.

– Naturalist Edward O. Wilson reminiscing on exploring in nature as a child, in an interview for PBS Newshour (April 28, 2016). Wilson’s new book is Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life.

Posted in books, edward o. wilson, thoughts, Uncategorized | Leave a comment