How to Create and Keep Family Nature Goals (Melody Forsyth)

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Making heading into nature a regular habit takes purpose and focus. Add in small children, and you just amped-up the amount of planning you have to do before you can tackle any big adventure. Have differently abled family members who require extra care and consideration? The challenge just got even bigger — and getting outside just became even more worth it.

It’s that juxtaposition that Melody Forsyth, a mom of four, discovered after her daughter, Ruby, was born with Down Syndrome. While the experience of Down can span a broad spectrum, Ruby, now age 5, is nonverbal, uses oxygen overnight and can only hike short distances. Still, it was her birth and learning how to care for her that first pushed Melody and her family into nature to find calm and adventure.

The family now backpacks together with one parent typically carrying Ruby, explores National Parks and other wild spaces and makes an intentional habit of spending time together outside not just in spite of their challenges, but because of them.

It’s that experience of watching Ruby and each other grow and discover their own interests and abilities outside that inspired Melody to start her Instagram feed, DownWithAdventure. There she shares her family’s journey to connect in nature and raise awareness around Down Syndrome.

But chasing big dreams in nature doesn’t come to Melody’s busy family without some really careful planning, factoring in the needs of all of her children and each of their special interests — not just Ruby. In today’s episode Melody gifts us insight into not just how she makes it work, but how you can, too.

Some of the good stuff:

[2:13] Melody Forsyth’s favorite outdoor space

[3:18] How Melody learned to head outside

[4:25] All about Ruby

[5:42] What it’s like to adventure with an awesome but heavy daughter

[9:44] What nature means to their family

[12:10] Does nature mean different things to different family members?

[15:00] How it connects them

[20:24] How nature has helped her connect with her kids

[30:02] How do we bring the calm nature gives our families to our inside life?

[33:00] How do we set and chase big outdoor family goals?

[39:27] Melody’s favorite and most essential outdoor gear

[43:09] Melody’s favorite outdoor moment

Connect with this episode:

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Follow us on Instagram and share your outdoor life with the hashtag #humansoutside365.

Here’s an edited transcript of our conversation on The Humans Outside Podcast.

Listen to the episode on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

AB 0:06

Getting into nature with kids can be both hugely challenging and rewarding. Add a range of ages or a child with special needs and you amped up both the challenge and the reward. Isn’t it true that often the hardest things are the ones that are the most worth it? Melody Forsyth knows that firsthand. Melody and her family, including four kiddos, one of whom is now married, make getting outside just a way of life. But that wasn’t really the case until her daughter Ruby was born. Ruby has Down syndrome, a special needs medical condition that presents a range of abilities depending on the person. And it was in learning how to move through her family’s new normal that Melody headed outside with her daughters and sons and found her life completely changed. Her story has been told through multiple short films that I found really inspiring, including a film with REI and a short film called “Her Way” produced by Salomon. Today, Melody is here to share her story with us, including her insights on how nature connects us to our children. Melody, welcome to Humans Outside. Man, I am so excited to talk to you today about kids and the outdoors and your family and just all of this stuff. But if you could please start us off by telling us where we’re talking to you today. We like to envision ourselves having our conversations with our guests in their favorite outdoor space.

MF 2:13

Well, my favorite outdoor space would definitely be just amongst the red rocks in southern Utah. It’s my favorite place to be. We love to be there as a family and love to just sit and enjoy the incredible silence, the views, the vista. We just love it all.

AB 2:31

I love that juxtaposition of the silence because I know you go outside with your kids and kids are not so silent.

MF 2:39

But sometimes you’ll get a moment where everyone’s just kind of quiet and taking it in. Or maybe they’re just exhausted. But either way, it’s a cool moment to spend together.

AB 2:53

Yeah, and it’s even better when you’re in a super quiet place, so chaos ends all around. And here you are. Red Rocks. Silence. Perfect. Yeah, I love it. And you are coming to us from Utah today. So can you talk to us about how you became a person who likes to go outside?

MF 3:18

So I think I just kind of stumbled into it by accident. I mean, I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors. You know, I went to a girls’ camp when I was, you know, a teenager and had fun doing those things. Just like it wasn’t a priority, or something I would ever like really schedule or plan. And it really was just when Ruby came along that we really started. We got into the outdoors to kind of, you know, escape the, you know, what we were going through and to just kind of expose her to the outside was when it just became a healing place for us. And we just realized how much we loved being outside. And then it was from there that it just snowballed. So that like now it’s a total way of life for us.

AB 4:05

So tell us about Ruby. I mentioned she has Down syndrome. But of course if you know one person with down syndrome, you know one person with down syndrome. And that’s because it can be so wide ranging. So tell us about your daughter and not just about her as a patient but also her as a human. How old is she? Tell us about her.

MF 4:25

Yeah, I really loved how you described what Down syndrome is because everybody’s unique. Everybody is different. They obviously have Down syndrome as a third copy on the 21st chromosome, that extra chromosome that they have and in the Down syndrome community, we like to say they’re, you know, rockin that extra chromosome and because it is what makes them extra special, but also presents some challenges to their health to development in their body and in their brain. And so she is five years old. And she is just a little ball of energy and just so much fun to be around. And she’s still nonverbal, meaning she doesn’t actually speak. She can make sounds. She has amazing comprehension. I know she understands a lot of what we say. But she’s still unable to communicate. But yeah, she comes alive when she’s outdoors.

AB 5:29

I’ve seen photos of you hiking with her on your back. How much kid are we talking about here? How much does this five year old way? Like, in terms of backpacking, a five year old? What does that look like?

MF 5:42

Yeah, she’s about 40 pounds. It’s interesting, you know, when I have friends like, you know, try to carry her, she’s just a lot of dead weight. People with Down syndrome typically have hypotonia, which is low tone, low muscle tone, which just makes it really hard for their muscles to you know, really just grasp things well, and so, you know, when we pick her up, she doesn’t like, hold on to me. So it’s really just, I kind of call it just like a sack of potatoes. We still carry her in a pack, she’s able to hike by herself, um, but not for super long periods of time, and she gets tired, and then you know, some carrier for a little bit, and she has a burst of energy and wants to do it all by herself.

AB 6:37

Yeah. And I know, I’ve seen also seen you with oxygen for her. Is she still on oxygen regularly?

MF 6:44

Yeah. So she was born with a couple little tiny holes in her heart and called pulmonary hypertension. So oxygen was required. For her first year of life, it was required 24/7. And then as she got bigger, her heart got bigger, the holes kind of closed up and things got better. They still recommended oxygen at night. And then now, it’s also typical, people with Down syndrome sometimes will have sleep apnea. And hers is very mild, but they said she’ll definitely benefit if she’s already used to this. This has been her whole life of sleeping with, you know, oxygen on and she keeps it on really well at night. So that’s why she’s on it now.

AB 7:39

So I bring these things up, because I want to really paint a picture. Well first of all, like we talked about before that, you know, one person with Down syndrome, you know, is one person with Down syndrome. Folks listening to this might be envisioning somebody they know with Down syndrome, who has a very different picture of what theirs looks like for them. You know, like, I have a friend at our church whose son has Down’s, and it’s not all the same, you know, except that it’s also that. I just want to make sure we’re painting an accurate picture. But also when we talk about going outside and about all the adventuring you do with your family, I just want people to understand, like, we’re not just sticking everybody in the car and rolling. You know, this is a system and a process. And it comes with, you know, some extra bags.

MF 8:28

Yeah, absolutely. Everybody’s adventure is gonna look different, and everyone’s gonna have different modifications, and everyone’s gonna have, you know, you have different things that they require. But in the end, we’re just hoping we’re like — just get out, you know, whatever capacity that is. You don’t have to compare yourself to other people. That doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter at all, like just the act of being outside is what’s so amazing.

AB 9:02

Exactly, just literally stepping outside your door in whatever capacity you have, or can, or wherever you live, wherever you are, whether you’ve got red rocks, or a trail, or just that sidewalk in the city street, it all matters. And it’s all whatever you can do. Okay, so I want to talk today about how nature connects our children to the world, but also it connects our children and members of the family to each other. So you talked about how Ruby just really comes alive outside. Um, so maybe you can tell us about how going outside and spending time in nature, what it means to your sons and to Ruby.

MF 9:44

I mean, it just means our you know, connection time and exploring, letting them be kids. I think in this world where we’re so overloaded with everything, that’s technology, it’s just a total disconnect. Like it’s human connection, it’s connection to the earth, it’s connection, you know, to those around you, it’s just, it’s a different type. I feel like it just means more. And, you know, they just look forward to that time, not all the time. I have kids that complain and don’t want to go do things. Also, I never want to paint this picture that we’re this perfect family and everything’s just working for us all the time, because that’s not true. But, you know, we do have a lot of really awesome moments, you know, together in the outdoors, and it’s all those, you know, tiny, awesome moments that make it worth it.

AB 10:35

Such a good way to describe it. Because is that not the truth? My son’s one of them, has made something of a career. He’s 12. So short career, but a career now of proclaiming his love for being inside. And which is really fun. Because, you know, like, this is all called Humans Outside. That’s the point. So he, anytime he has the opportunity, will tell whoever will listen that he would prefer to go to a hotel and eat ice cream, and then my nine year old loves being outside, but will, you know, throw his own little nine year old version of the temper tantrum, right, whatever that looks like just crying, or I don’t want to, we’re really grumpy, you know, whatever that means. But within minutes of being out there, he’s just so happy. Like, he’s clearly happy to be there. He’s sprinting down the trail, he’s, you know, fine, he’s found a stick, and he’s having a Star Wars battle behind me. This is, you know, just run of the mill, normal behavior. But, you know, it’s not always peaches and rainbows or whatever. But we’re always at the end of the day, like, we’re all glad to be there. Although my 12 year old has asked me if there’s an elevator to the bottom, I think a lot of people are hoping for that. So I’m wondering, though, if there’s a difference between what it means to your sons and what it means to your daughter, just because of their age difference? Have you noticed that change over time?

MF 12:10

Actually, not really. I think we think — oh, kids are growing up and they’re outgrowing all this stuff. But I find that they like to just, you know, play with the rocks and, and be creative and pretend that they’re doing something. Well, you know, like, thinking of like, when we went to Great Sand Dunes and you think, –Oh, yeah, you know, a bunch of teenagers? Well, I mean, they’re actually like the tween kind of age, really. But you know, they were out there building, I didn’t realize that he packed a bunch of Hot Wheel tracks and cars and everything in their backpack, and they brought them and they were playing with them. They just want to, you know, be little kids and play and be creative. And they just had a blast. They involved Ruby and, you know, let her play. And so they just like to find a way to somehow connect all together. But still, yeah, can do their own thing and sometimes they act a little bit more grown up, like, you know, my oldest might like to try to watercolor, you know, get a picture of where we are, and paint a really quick picture because we took a watercolor class and so you know, he’s trying to do that. So they still do some of the grown up things, but they just want to be imaginative and creative. And, like, just let me explore. Let me climb the rocks and see how far I can go.

AB 13:43

There is like a whole thread of creativity that sort of transcends age. So water coloring might be more adult. But, it doesn’t have to be Yeah. You know. And, and I kind of like as you were talking, I was remembering times that I, even as an adult, I’m having sort of that, I don’t know, maybe call it creative play, while I’m in some of these spaces. I would be a big liar, if I said that I was not thinking about that book Island of the Blue Dolphins while I was on Channel Islands National Park. Which is one of my favorite books. I can’t even count the hours pretending to be her on the beach in California when I was 12. Yeah. And then I got to go to Channel Islands and you best believe that I stood on that cliff and envisioned myself as the character in that book. And I mean, I’m an adult. It’s amazing how that really brings you back home to I guess that, in touch with your inner child. How do you think it connects your family together?

MF 15:01

It connects all of us because, like, we plan a lot of this stuff together. So you know, it’s kind of just like, like every year, you know, as the new year rolls around — What national parks we want to hit this year? What does everybody want to do? And that’s where it’s like, we kind of all, you we’re gonna have spring break – what National Park Do you really want to go? I mean, I kind of gave her, you know, as much as I also would love to travel to Hawaii or American Samoa, like, I want to see all those amazing national parks, you know, we had to kind of give our budget constraints. So she wanted to see the sequoias. So we planned her senior trip around, you know, what she wanted to go see. And so I feel like, we honor like what you would like, and we all go do it as a family. It was just everything you dream of. This is what you envision, And so, you know, it’s kind of that that planning process, the road trip process, those are the things you know, because you’re stuck in a car for however many hours like, you just, you know, you’re forced to bond, you’re forced to be together. And it just, you know, helps you bond that way. And then obviously, you know, doing the same hikes, working together, things that are hard, you know, climbing rocks, those types of things that it just kind of, like, bring you all together.

AB 16:57

Yeah, I think you know, that we think a lot in the outdoor community and retreats and that kind of thing, about the benefits to yourself for doing those hard things. We might think about them in terms of how it can help you in a leadership setting. You know, there’s lots of these leadership retreats that focus on group cohesion, but I feel like we don’t always stop and think about how it helps you as a family, and relationships with your spouse and your kids. And that, that’s just another great benefit of heading into nature is that it does build those, those family relationships and those family bonds.

MF 17:42

We recently went backpacking in Zion. And the thing with us for backpacking is because I have to carry a pack for Ruby, and, you know, basically carry her most of the way, so that limits the amount of packs that we have to carry stuff. So basically, the the burden lies on my husband and my two boys, like, we have three packs for five people because, you know, Ruby’s food and clothes and diapers and wipes, and all those things, like, everything has to be able to go and we have to divide it all between all of us. And it’s just a good thing of teamwork of like, you know, and I’m helping you and I’m carrying this and you’re carrying that and you’re helping me and, like, just of dividing you know, just like we all we all share, you know, the quote unquote, burden. Meaning like, you know, just like we share our triumphs at the end of the trail and how happy we were to be finished, because we were like, done, we also shared that — I hate the sand and I hate this. II’m just like — if we have to take one more step in sand, I’m going to lose it! They see your mom like, getting mad and wanting to give up too, you know, we all just encourage each other. Everyone’s not complaining at the same time. It’s like everyone’s kind of struggling at different times. But it’s like all of those types of things together of sharing that burden, sharing the difficulty, but then also sharing the triumphs and the happiness you know that those are the things I think bond us.

AB 19:29

What does going outside mean to your relationship with your children? I like to watch my kids develop their relationships together. And I feel like they learn a relationship with me, but sort of flipping it on that head. How does it change how you see them?

MF 20:24

Well, I think just because you can see them do things that are super hard, and then see, like, watching them be proud of themselves is, is just so cool. Because, you know, seeing them have that confidence in themselves, seeing that it’s from their, you know, their own hard work, because I mean, I could be encouraging, but I can’t move their legs. It really is them on their own. Like, I’m there cheering them on and facilitating it, but they do it. They’re doing it by themselves. Watching their confidence grow in themselves. And yeah, like those relationships together, like I get such a kick out of, like, if I’m hiking in front of them, or behind them, and you know, carrying Ruby and the boys are by themselves, like listening to their conversations, you know, together and whatever they’re talking about. I just feel like they’re creating those bonds between themselves. It’s just yeah, it’s really cool. And sometimes they’re fighting and sometimes they’re hanging apart, but then, you know, other times, they come back together, because now they’re okay. And now they can be nice to each other.

AB 21:30

Yeah, I love watching my boys do that, too. Yeah, I’m super resonating with that. Because it is really cool to see them have moments where they’re close in their own in a child ways, right? My oldest son is 12. So it’s not a mature way. Right. And then within five minutes, one of them is pantsing the other, right? We could probably do without the pantsing.It’s encouraging to know that they don’t hate each other. It’s almost a window into a mature relationship that I’ll be able to watch them have as adults. Hopefully, then they’ll probably still pass each other. Yeah, exactly. And that’s, I guess that’s okay. As long as it’s not fully in public. If you guys are listening to this, don’t do that. Okay. I know that you’re really intentional about taking adventures with each of them individually. And I just loved seeing that. Because it’s not something that I found that really inspirational, it’s not something I’ve started doing. So, you know, maybe a little selfish. Can you talk about why you do that?

MF 23:01

So, actually, it stemmed from a comment that I read that somebody had posted about the REI video. And someone just said, like — I feel sorry for all those other kids, everyone pays attention to Ruby and the other kids are forgotten. Obviously, you know, that person does not have an insight into my life and does not know, you know, especially, you know, having an older child that has dealt with mental health issues, and how much time and, you know, dedication I have given to her helping her through all that, like, doesn’t know how she had the spotlight for a long time helping her and, like, that was a learning point for my children. Because sometimes, if I’m totally honest, that sometimes they say, you know — we feel that everyone just thinks Ruby is the important one. And we have discussions about that, because I do care about how they feel. And it was kind of just like seeing that comment that just — we always think our kids like know that we love them, and we care about them. But you know, actions are important as well. And I just felt I needed to do something to, you know, show them that they are just equally as important and special and unique and valued in this family. And it was just a thing of like, you know, first one kind of accident where I was just like, you know, I was going to go on a hike by myself and my son was just kind of like — Hey, can I come with? And it was just something local, and just like, he’s just talking to me and jibber jabbering about you know, all these things, and I just realized, this is really, this is really valuable because he’s opening up and he’s telling me about how he feels and especially, you know, with teenagers, boys, that’s not always easy. I asked him, like — what happened, you’re like, so open? And he goes — well, nobody else is around. Like his siblings aren’t around. So then it’s not like he’s trying to hide anything. But sometimes maybe you’re embarrassed to talk about other things in front of your siblings, because you don’t want them to make fun of you, or those types of things. And I realized, like, this was really important time. And so then it would become a much more intentional thing. And with my other son, he has to come with me a lot of times. I drive him to school, or he’ll come with me to go pick up things and just that time in the car, so then when it’s just him, I start. asking questions. I’ve just seen that, like, that sweet spot of like, when they’re by themselves, and everyone’s not around them. They kind of just yeah, open up. I’m like, okay, we need to do this more, because this is definitely you know, of value.

AB 26:05

Yeah, no. Okay. So as if somebody could understand everything about your life from a 20 minute REI video, first of all, that, yeah, that must be sad. And I say that as somebody who said, you know, we’re in a documentary and things are written about us and all that stuff. And I mean, that’s just, that’s silly. Sorry. Okay. But I love that you took that as a learning moment, too, which is just real. You know, that’s a really hard thing to do, right? Because you see a negative comment, and the easiest thing is to think — one, why did I read the comments, and two, you don’t know me. But you didn’t do that, you took it as for what it was worth, and you know, leave the bad, take the good, not the other way around. I think that’s so important, and good job. It’s huge. I also think that there’s something to be said for pausing to be intentional like that, that lots of things happen unintentionally in life, like walk by and do whatever you want, in the car, like you were saying. But to take that moment and set it aside is signaling to your kids that that’s worth doing. And we’re all busy. You know, it’s so easy not to do that, because we have all sorts of things going on in life. But I think that’s really inspiring. And I’m going to try to replicate that. I’m going to take your advice and see what I can do with my kids like that, because it is meaningful. Thank you. Do you think spending time in nature has made you a better version of yourself?

MF 28:00

Absolutely. I don’t have a lot of patience in my home. I just feel like half the time, my kids don’t listen to me. They don’t pay attention to things I’ve asked. My husband doesn’t listen to me. Like sometimes I feel like I’m never heard and I do lose my patience. I wish I didn’t yell as much as I do, unfortunately. And I just feel that in the outdoors, my demeanor changes. Like, I guess I just don’t feel the stress of whatever I am feeling at home and I don’t feel like I yell at my kids unless they’re in a dangerous situation like, you’re gonna fall off the cliff type thing. Like, I don’t yell at them. Like I let them yeah, go you know, play and get dirty and get messy. Like it just doesn’t bother me and I don’t care and it’s just different. I feel like I have much more patience and tolerance with them and with myself. My anxiety level just comes way down. So it just makes me different. Like, I just am not bothered by things. I always lose track of time like, and that’s why I’m usually pretty intentional of when I schedule when I’m outdoors. I’m making sure I don’t have other commitments so if the hike takes us four hours, if it takes us an hour, you know, we got all the time. It’s fine. I’m just so different from when I’m in just regular mom mode, getting things done. And so I definitely think that, you know, I’m happier.

AB 29:50

Okay, so as someone who also struggles with all the things you’re saying in regular life and also feels those things fall away outside, Melody, how do we bring that back inside?

MF 30:02

I don’t know. Well, sometimes I think that we like to talk. I’m a big dreamer. Like, I talk about lots of things that I want to do. Realistically, is all that stuff gonna get done? No. But in my head, it’s still fun to talk about. My oldest son Logan, he is just he knows like everything about everything, and just watches YouTube videos about all sorts of stuff and finds tons of hiking channels and stuff. And I’m just like, yeah, let’s look at a hike. Let’s do it. Let’s find a hike that we can do. We talk about it, we plan and then that helps me calm down a little bit too. Or, you know, reliving kind of the fun thing. You know, reliving the memories that we’ve done. That helps a little bit. But yeah, I’m still trying to figure that out myself.

AB 31:05

Maybe it’s just practice. I’m just thinking out loud. Like it’s practice, right. And then it’s going back to intentionality. So maybe it’s thinking through the things that we like about ourselves when we’re out there, being a low key adventure mom. And then try, like being purposeful to transport those things inside. I don’t know, like I said, I’m just thinking out loud here. Because I want to figure out how to be that version of me every day, during my job and mom life and all that stuff. That’s the dream that people are searching for. They sell everything and live in an RV. We do what I did, and move to Alaska, right? All of these things are designed to reset and refocus. And guess what, like, I moved to Alaska, I bought a house. I live in the house. It’s the same as being in Tennessee. Except that I have more mountains right outside my work. I came here with all of my stuff to Alaska. And absent of that intentionality? It’s the same. Okay, I have no help for you, listeners. We’re just trying to figure it out, too. But we’ve been talking a lot about using nature to bring yourself closer to your children and bring families together. So I’m hoping that you can give us a couple of actionable tips that people can do to sort of walk us out with this. How can people use nature to bring themselves closer to their children and their families?

MF 32:57

Well, these are just a couple of things that we have done that I think help. I think, once again, everyone’s kind of different. The biggest thing is to set a goal, meaning have a common goal as a family. And so for us, the common goal is we want to visit all of the National Parks together. It started off, I said, my oldest daughter who’s married, like she was part of that. And now she is, you know, living and having her own life. And I get her to come and join us occasionally. And we’re super excited for when that happens. But we still have, you know, the other three kids and it’s still the same goal, still the same family. So let’s keep going. And that helps us like, whether it’s maybe visiting all the state parks in your area, maybe it’s like — I love the 52 Hike Challenge. Like that’s something that a family could very easily do and where you’re like — Hey, we’re gonna do 52 hikes together this year. Like I think it you know, it’s something like, if this is our goal as a family and it’s kind of a tangible goal, like everyone’s always like — well, we want to be happy as a family. Of course, that’s great. But you know, like, what is something specific and having that kind of a goal of — Oh, you know, visiting all the state parks or we’re going to you know, kayak every single lake in our state or whatever like types of things. It’s whatever interests your family even if it’s just going camping in this many places. Like there’s so many things you could do. Maybe you just want to visit historic sites, whatever. It’s getting you together and it’s getting you outdoors doing something different. I feel like that is one of the best things that you can do. And like I said, the other one is like road tripping. I think it’s like right now it’s a pretty popular thing to do. From what I hear, like I hear you, it’s hard to even buy an RV because they’re like on backorder because everyone’s getting one now. And I said, we don’t have one, I don’t have a place to store it, I don’t have those kinds of funds, but road tripping, even if it is just within your state, doesn’t have to be long distance. Getting all the things you need, learning to pack the car, getting a routine down, because that’s just a connection as a family, like teaching those skills of being prepared or having all the things you need. Like, it’s really good for kids like that. Okay, you guys are responsible for getting this. You guys are responsible. Yeah, like it, it teaches them a little bit of self reliance, but knowing like — Hey, I’m important in this family, because I’m in charge of this. And if I don’t do this, then the whole family suffers. And sometimes it’s a little bit of a risk when your husband’s in charge of matches, and doesn’t bring any.

AB 36:00

I’ve experienced this risk. Yes.

MF 36:04

And there’s no cell phone service, and you have to travel an hour, you know, to go find some. But you know, like he’s doing it, like, it’s good to see. But then it’s still like, it’s all part of the adventure, all part of the fun. It’s all part of the story that the kids don’t forget, you know, those types of things. I just think, you know, road tripping is a great, great way. And then the other one is, so along with those intentional dates. I have like actual like date books. I made books for at this point, I just have one for my husband and I have one for Logan. And I told Samuel that next year, I would make one for him. That was kind of like the Christmas present where like these are going to be our date books. And they don’t have to—like one of them was to pack a picnic when we go hike, because I don’t normally like bring lunch and all that, like I just bring snacks. But for us to actually pack and go and have a picnic somewhere, you know, together. So it doesn’t have to be things that you’re spending money on. Things can be very easy. But for children, I think it’s something really special for them where they have a book and for them, especially if you actually print the pictures that you take. And they have it there as sort of a scrapbook. It’s a reminder of special times that they’ve had. And the other thing is that I have to put it on the calendar, I have to schedule. Because I mean, I work full time and I have a very busy life. We have doctor’s appointments, you know, life is super busy. And so we have to plan. I put it in my calendar, just like I would a doctor’s appointment of like — Oh, I can’t do anything, this is the day I’m hiking with the kids. Sometimes it’s turned down because of weather or how we feel, you know what, we’re just playing in the backyard and blowing up the kiddie pool and just splashing around hanging out together. So it doesn’t have to be like, you’re going someplace far. And I think that shows the kids that they matter. They’re important, that time is valuable, as well, because you’ve put it in your calendar where all your other important things are.

AB 38:34

Yeah. And it keeps it on top as a priority for you. I know if something’s not in my calendar, it’s just a bad situation because I am busy too, you know, and we’re all busy. That’s the thing, right? And I think some of us are better at being busy than others. That’s not a compliment. That’s true. Yeah. I mean, I’m that person. That’s a commentary on me. So well, thank you for that advice. I really, really appreciate it. I really am grateful when guests share their lived experience in the form of advice. So thank you so much for doing that. I’m hoping you can walk us out with a couple of things we call our leftovers round. Just some stuff that I like to know so can you tell us what your favorite piece of outdoor gear is, just something that makes your life not necessarily easier, just something you love?

MF 39:37

Well, I love my backpacks. I’m bonded to my carrier that I carry Ruby in because when I see it like it just gives me, it just has sentimental value because I think of all the hikes and Ruby falling asleep in it and pulling my hair and like I love it. And then I love my own pack, that’s just my own. And that is special to me because it’s like, this is mine, because it’s like when I don’t have to carry any children and I’m on my own. And I’m just Melody. I’m not Mom, I’m not this and all these other things. I’m just myself. And it’s my favorite pack.

AB 40:30

Yeah. What’s a super essential piece of gear?

MF 40:35

My Kula Cloth has changed my life. I’m not kidding. Because, and I’m not a rep for them or anything. I try to use those other different apparatuses that they have out there. Not working for me. Yeah, not not a fan. And then also just, you know, like, I don’t want to pack toilet paper and bury it. It’s just so much easier.

AB 41:10

We have not talked about Kula very much on the podcast. I think one other person brought it up maybe in season one. But listeners, guys, we’re talking about Kula this season. You’re gonna hear about these folks. First of all, their Instagram. Yeah, it is one of the best things on the internet, hands down.

MF 41:28

They always make me laugh. So one of the things we use to connect, they have lots of classes. And so that’s one that my son and I, we took a watercolor class through them with Jitterbug Art, and it was so awesome. And we had so much fun, like, learning and you know. It was a great price, you know, for a watercolor class that you can do in your home. Because you know, it’s really hard going places, whatever. And then even just with everything with the pandemic, like, it was so amazing. So they have these amazing classes, and I’ve taken several of them and they’ve all been fantastic. They’re all by different people. It’s so hard because, mainly when I’m hiking, I’m like, I have boys. So all those being my husband, my boys. I’m like, sure it’s easy for you. Ruby has a diaper. Like you have it easy and like mom’s the one that’s struggling here. And it just has just really changed things. I love teaching women how to pee outdoors. It’s so much fun, like — Okay, I’m gonna give you a demo. And it’s just fun. And so yes, that is my essential I always I have. I have them everywhere tucked in lots of different places,

AB 42:48

Love it. So smart. I’m gonna have an entire episode on peeing outside. You’ve inspired me, I love it. Stay tuned, guys.Okay, finally, please walk us out with your favorite outdoor moment. If you close your eyes and imagine yourself in your favorite outdoor space, where are you and what are you doing? What’s the moment?

MF 43:09

So I just actually recently started doing this this past year in the national parks and it started at Great Sand Dunes, where I was just sitting there watching my family play and I just said — I need to have a moment from every place where I do this. And then I write it down because if you don’t write it down, you will forget. So write it down, find a journal, write it down, but I remember just sitting there and the sun was setting and just watching all of my children just be so happy and their dad playing with them. And I was just enjoying the breeze and the sand was kind of blowing and kind of annoying, but they just didn’t care. And just watching the laughs and the giggles. That was just kind of like a moment because I realized that this is just what it’s all about. Just seeing them be happy, seeing them just enjoy each other playing in you know, whatever nature gave them, which was just tons of sand and it was just gorgeous. And so it’s kind of been something that I’m more intentional about. So every National Park now, I take a moment like that and remember it.

AB 44:28

Yeah. Beautiful, Melody. Thank you so much for being on Humans Outside today.

MF 44:32

Thanks so much for having me and for letting me tell my story.

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