I’m A Nature Nerd and It’s Okay

I am a nature nerd. There, fully admitted. Yesterday I took my girls to a local nature center to go hiking on their nature trails, which include a great boardwalk trail through marshlands. Back in the nature center was a beautiful book, “Bird Watching For Kids” and I was so excited to buy it for them and when I was going to the register Mahlie goes, “I don’t want it. You know that’s for you because you are obsessed with birds.”

I have to admit, it’s true. I have a birdfeeder that I am totally obsessed with to the point I text my good friend Molly with weekend updates on “all the action” going on at the Mandeville’s.  The action at the birdfeeder, that is.

I’ve always loved being outdoors, I love nature, I love animals, I love gardening…I just love everything about the great outdoors. When I drove cross country with my mom, she researched and made all the dinner reservations at restaurants she heard good things about and checked out their menu ahead of time, already deciding what she’d order. I checked out all the cool national parks we’d be visiting and made checklists of all the animals I wanted to see.

Having kids has enabled me to schedule time at cool national parks and spend time wallowing in my nature nerdness on the premise of “it’s for the kids.” I make sure my kids get plenty of outdoors time and they love it. They just haven’t reached the level of nature nerdness that matches mine. Yet.

While I am keeping a watchful eye on the birdfeeder in the morning, trying to capture the elusive woodpecker that has been visiting, yet escaping any photo evidence, my kids are keeping a watchful eye on Paw Patrol and Little Charmers. On Saturdays I make an hour of their 2 hour screen time include watching Jack Hanna and Jeff Corwin and all their animal adventures.

We are determined to be a “hiking family”, though the last time we went hiking I had to carry SJ across a creek and I slipped on a rock and smashed down on my knees. I could barely walk for a month. Yesterday though, SJ walked the entire time, save a small stretch she was on my shoulders, and that was only because her definition of “walking” at that point was slower than a snails pace. While I love hiking, it loses some of it’s effectiveness and appeal when the plants are moving quicker than you are.

Hiking with kids can be a challenge, so it is definitely wise to check on the level of difficulty before heading out. The Huntley Meadows Park is as easy as it comes. Unlike the time we were hiking in Purgatory Chasms in RI and ended up on a section of trail that was completely out of our capabilities in flip flops and with a 2 year old.

This weekend I’m going to drag my kids to Mason Neck National Park to see the bald eagles. I will be in my element, my kids will be….well, they will be there.


Bringing up the rear….


Now that she can read, she likes to read EVERY. SINGLE. SIGN.


Looking for moose. With binoculars held the wrong way.



In the end, we had happy hikers. Probably because of the free snacks in the nature center. Whatever works!





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