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Many months ago, I sent my stories to Mina Samuels, who was collecting the athletic experiences of women and girls. I wrote about being the only gal on a men’s ice hockey team, about appreciating a less busty body, and about becoming an active outdoor family.

Now my thoughts and words are included in Mina’s Run Like A Girl: How Strong Women Make Happy Lives, published February 2011 by Seal Press. I’m excited to read women’s experiences, and once again reminded about the changes in opportunities within my lifetime. Title IV, which gave girls more equal opportunities in sports, came in when I was in junior high. There was no soccer for girls then, so I played on the boys’ team. Now I look at my junior high age daughter and smile at how different things are. She’s played soccer since she was five. With girls.

But Run Like A Girl isn’t about soccer, or any particular sport. It is about strong women making happy lives. And isn’t that what we want for our daughters? Whether with organized sports or through family outdoor adventure, I think the world is a better place when people are healthy, connected, strong, and happy.

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My daughter and I journal. My husband writes factual trip notes. My son takes video. Each of us is thinking about what we’re experiencing through these methods, and creating a reference to look through later and bring the experiences back to us.

I have said, “How about just one notebook?” as my daughter packs her bike pannier or backpack. But when I got the answer that she needed two, one for her trip journal and one for writing stories, I just smiled. I have said to my son, “Could you leave the tripod?” as he packs his bike pannier or backpack, and sometimes the answer is yes and sometimes it is no.

When packing I try to be weight conscious, but they make the final decisions in notebooks and film equiptment. I love that we have these records of our adventures. My son just managed his footage of our winter road trip into “The Grand Canyon” parts 1 through 5, with rap music tracks added. It certainly brought back memories to view his work. And gave me insight into how he saw our adventures. Write on and film on, I say.

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A friend and I carpooled to Rick Steves’ Travel as a Political Act talk, taking our combined 11, 12, 13, and 15-year-olds. Not many others in the audience brought their children, and I had a moment part way through where I thought, “am I being a good parent?” We don’t usually talk about some of these issues with our kids: the Iranian widows and mothers grieving their loved ones killed in the Iran-Iraq war knowing Iraq was funded by the USA, the results of the Netherlands’ marijuana policies compared to the USA’s, or the price of braces vs. providing a well to a community that has to walk to their water source.

I cringed at a couple of Steves’ generalizations, but mostly admired his willingness to speak up on issues, suggest we can learn from other cultures, and get involved in improving our own. The two younger kids in our group felt his presentation was a little confusing, but the discussion with all of the kids since hearing the talk has been worth taking them. Policies and politics are confusing, but that doesn’t mean we should avoid them. I used to have a bumper sticker that said, “Think – it’s patriotic.” If I want my kids to think, I make need to make sure they have access to real info to think about, just like if I want them to be savvy in the outdoors, I need to give them opportunities to navigate or put up the tent.

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Rick Steves feels like a neighbor, since we both call this corner of Washington State, USA home, but he’s also a neighbor with a global heart. While I’ve used his Europe Through the Backdoor books for trip planning, I’m particularly interested in his more recent speaking out on travel as a political act.

I know our family’s international travels – bicycling in Europe and Canada, backpacking in Mexico –  have added meaningful experiences to my kids’ becoming adults engaged in their world. I didn’t set out to make them political, just thoughtful, and with more information than they might get in school. Now my son is taking Spanish in middle school and has facebook friends in several countries, while my daughter is a sixth grader involved in her school’s social action club. I’m proud of them.

Rick is speaking in our community later this month, and my family will be there. After discussions of Haiti lately, thinking globally means also admitting to my kids that travel is complicated and political. Travel has shaped our worldview, and should shape our action as well. We’ll hear what Rick has to say, and continue those family discussions.

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Family Book Club

PC260401Books have been on my mind. In the last few weeks I was lucky enough to win Jane in Bloom by Deborah Lytton through Cindy Hudson’s Mother-Daughter Book Club site and two writer books from Christina Katz’ Writer Mama site. Thanks gals!

I also got my copy of Cindy’s Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs. And in thinking about her perspective on sharing books with daughters, I reflected on our family’s book sharing.

On our bicycling trips, each person gets to take one book in their pannier. So after someone finishes their book, we often trade. Then we can operate as a family book club, discussing what we’ve read in the tent at night or over peanut butter sandwiches at lunch. I like reading the young adult literature my kids have read – I get to know more about what they’re experiencing, I read books I would not have ordinarily picked up, and we have interesting discussions.

When we lived in Mexico we shared even more books, because English language books were hard to come by. We packed 40 books along with us, then shared many of them. My son even made a calendar and filled in when he would read each book, so as to make them last the length of the trip (didn’t work, he sped through the books and we had to start trading with other families).

How often do families read the same book at home? For us, the Harry Potter books, but not too many others. But on a trip where space and weight dictate condensing our book possibilities? Family book club happens.

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backtoschoolckAs a writer mama, I have learned from and been supported by Christina Katz’ Writers on the Rise, then Writer Mama, and most recently Get Known Before the Book Deal books and websites.

This month, for the third year in a row, The Writer Mama, Christina Katz, is giving away thirty books in thirty days. All you have to do to enter is answer Christina’s question of the day. At the end of each day, a winner will be randomly chosen from those who posted responses -and there is no limit to how many days you can enter. You don’t have to be a mom, of course, though the event is created with moms in mind. Stop by, be inspired, and maybe even win a book!

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spring09Our regional go-to guide for outdoor “race, play,experience” info changes seasons this weekend. The spring issue, with my article on the pleasures of walking, gets posted on-line, while the summer issue becomes available to the region in print.

With hordes of visitors in town for the annual Ski to Sea relay race the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, folks from all over will get to check out the great writing and super photography of the magazine. The summer issue includes my Backcountry Cuisine article on home-packed food for backpacking and kayaking trips, and offerings on the geology of a bike tour, paddling in Victoria, mountain bike racing, and feeling at home on the Wonderland Trail. 

A fine collection of inspirations to get you springing into summer. Read and enjoy.

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