Name: Debi Huang
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Online Home: Go Explore Nature
Kids: 2 boys: "The Big Explorer" (5 1/2) and "The Little Explorer" (2)
If you think it's unusual to spend time on the internet talking about the importance of spending time in nature, then you haven't read Go Explore Nature. Debi Huang's blog about getting kids outdoors will help you do just that, with fantastic new ideas, inspiration, and insights into the importance of the natural world for our kids.
Debi seems to have an endless supply of amazing ideas for engaging your kids in the outdoors. Don't miss her Fun Fridays articles, posted every—yes, you guessed it!—Friday; they share great suggestions for easy, quick adventures you can have in your own backyard. A recent entry found Debi and her sons making fairy houses; another shook up their usual neighborhood walk with a winter scavenger hunt.
Go Explore Nature supplies more than just ideas for excursions; Debi also reviews local nature escapes as well as those she's encountered on vacations and trips. She's also got great gift ideas for kids who enjoy exploring, product reviews, and information on seasonal events.
Here's what Debi had to say about her exploits in blogging and beyond.
1. When did you start blogging, and why?
I started blogging a little more than a year ago as a way to cope with the death of my dad. I was so raw and emotional back then (I still get choked up reading my first post) and the only place I could take comfort was in nature. Outdoors I found quiet moments to think and places to breathe when the rest of my life felt overwhelming.
Spending time in nature was something my dad and I both enjoyed – and something I wanted my boys to do, too. Writing has always been an emotional outlet for me, so it felt like the perfect time to start a blog about my family's adventures in nature.
2. Tell us a little about your blog and your favorite topics to post on.
My blog is all about connecting kids and families with nature in my hometown of Los Angeles and beyond. It's a blend of reviews of places we go (think parks, beaches, hikes), simple ideas for nature play and tips for getting outdoors all year. I most enjoy sharing our real-world experiences in nature to help inspire others to get out there, too.
3. Where do you go on the internet for inspiration?
There is an amazing network of folks working to connect kids with nature. There's an entire group of us on Twitter using the hashtag #playoutdoors. Without these people, I don't know where I would be! Seriously, they are a constant source of inspiration, encouragement and support.
Take Kari of Active Kids Club and Melynda of Your Wild Child. These mamas get outside even when it's snowing (in fact, they love snow)! And Michele of Fun Orange County Parks and Bethe, the Grass Stain Guru, have taught me the importance of play in general and nature play in particular. I'm also a volunteer Ambassador for Nature Rocks, a national campaign to get children and families reconnected with nature.
4. You focus on getting kids outdoors and into nature. Has your interaction with your site changed the way you experience the great outdoors, or the way you play outdoors with your children?
We definitely spend a lot more time in nature than we did when I first started blogging. Back then I was happy with a visit to a local aquarium or the zoo a couple of times a month. Now spending time outdoors is second nature and part of our lifestyle. Plus, I get inspired to try new things and explore new places by reading what other outdoor bloggers are up to.
I've also become much more aware of nature in the city. Before I started my blog, I thought that nature was something you had to travel to see if you lived in a big city. Now I embrace the everyday nature around me – the crows and squirrels, spiders, trees and flowers, for example. The bonus is that my kids have followed suit.
5. Has your blog, or have your readers, changed the way you approach parenting?
I've learned the value of unstructured play in nature. Not planning everything to a T allows my kids to do what comes naturally to them when we're exploring nature. I'm always amazed at the results. Sometimes they have no interest in what I thought they might but discover something equally engaging that I never would have dreamed up. Kids today need a place to go to unplug, discover, explore and just be. And nature is that place.
6. Are you surprised at all at the enormous community of parents writing about getting outside, on the internet of all places? How does this technology help you experience nature more, or more thoroughly, or differently?
It is kind of an odd scenario – writing about playing outside while sitting inside on a computer. In fact, my fellow #playoutdoors friends often comment about how much time we all spend online. Thankfully, there's a lot of encouragement to unplug and head outside.
Living in Los Angeles I often feel like my kids are the only ones not participating in every sport or activity imaginable. It's nice to know there are other people out there who share my desire to let my kids have ample downtime and plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors.
7. What's one great piece of parenting advice someone has shared with you?
Your kids have to fall down every now and then to discover their own limits, and get beyond them. I think parents naturally want to protect kids from every possible danger or discomfort. But childhood is meant to include its share of skinned knees, scrapes, bumps and bruises. I try to teach my kids to be safe, then let them take their own risks and learn from them.
Read more about Debi, her family, and their outdoor adventures over at Go Explore Nature.
Since our inception, we have loved hearing from all of our readers as well as reaching out to several in the blog community. You are mothers, fathers, wives, husbands all writing about your families, style and what makes you tick. To continue fostering this great blogging community, we'll now begin featuring close-ups of our favorite family and design blogs as part of our "Big Blog Family".
(Images: Debi Huang)