Monday, May 12, 2014

Sun, Swim, Surf – Nature's Calm

Every day, I am reminded of my outdoor education class that I took at the University of Alberta. We discussed questions related to ‘where can you engage with nature?’, and ‘what is the importance of the human connection with nature?'  Cam and I often find ourselves discussing similar questions.  Cam often comments on the potential for nature to facilitate rehabilitation for people with neurological injuries. That conviction has sparked his volunteer involvement with groups like the Alberta Abilities Lodges Society and Interfit. I see the importance of connecting students with nature to enhance their learning and well being. The best example of education within a natural environment that I have seen to date is the Green School in Bali, Indonesia. 

In my outdoor education class we would debate the question ‘”Where do you need to go to connect with nature?” From that class I came to realize that the answer is that you can connect with nature anywhere, although in some places it can be a lot easier than in others. For example, there is usually some type of nature outside your window be it a tree or a bird. If you can find a way to connect with that tree in the front of your house on a regular basis you will find a greater amount of peace more often than if you rely solely on the few times you get out into the bush to connect with the natural environment. It is however, a lot easier to find that peace when surrounded by dozens of trees in the mountains, and that is why so many of us enjoy escaping to those peaceful surroundings.  

Why am I having this little discussion? Well, I am learning more and more each day that my daughter Etta is most at peace when she is outdoors. Be it outside our apartment in Copenhagen sitting in the grass or in Portugal watching the wave’s crash against the sand. Seeing the laughter and the joy in Etta when we spend days outside makes me want to pitch a tent and just live all of our days in the outdoors. Over the past week in Portugal we have spent the majority of all of our day outside. Etta has had numerous naps outside, eaten food outside, breastfed outside and played outside. Because of the heat we, of course, have to make sure she is lathered in sunscreen, wears a hat, her UV protected swim suit and spends roughly 75% of the time in the shade.

Here are some of the things we did in the great Portugal outdoors and how we prepared to do them:

Beach days

Everyday at the beach we made sure to have a good spot in the shade. We applied sunscreen every 1-2 hours and made sure she had a couple of sips of water every once in a while. We had a lot of gear to haul around but it was totally worth it.

For a successful beach day we brought along:
2x beach mats
beach umbrella
kids sunscreen
adult sunscreen
UV long sleeve swim suit
sun hat
swim diaper
8 x diapers
baby food
beach toys (pale, shovel, watering can, rake, sifter)
Etta's waterbottle
Our gear: towel, our swim suits, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, water bottle, food
phew and that is all!!!

Etta loved the beach and the ocean. She was afraid of the water and would not touch the cold wet sand with her feet. She would spend the time gazing at the waves as they crashed against the sand. She also would laugh hysterically if one of us would jump in the water and go swimming.

Too beautiful not to put a picture up! Dona Ana beach!

Many little beaches hidden among the cliffs. Breathtaking!

We only went surfing one day. It was quite the ordeal to organize with a  baby but extremely worth it. If you are big into surfing and have a baby I highly suggest renting a car which is what we would do in the future. That way you can rent your board or take lessons on your own terms and timing. We ended up going surfing with The Surf Experience. They were willing to take us with our car seat and baby with them to Amado beach on the West Coast. They are the top recommended surf camp in Lagos and I highly recommend just going with them. We had some difficulty with other surf camps/schools in Lagos and trying to go surfing with a baby along.  
Family Surf Day. I got my board and my baby! 

Etta wanting to go surfing on her own.

Sometimes as parents I think that we feel that we no longer can do the things we used to enjoy doing. We might even feel bad if we choose to go ahead and do it for ourselves. In this instance it was truly amazing to have Etta with me at the beach when I got back on a surfboard for the first time since before being pregnant. Having Etta at the beach and enjoying a beautiful day while I got to do something I loved was such a good family bonding experience. Etta loved checking out the board and seeing us in the water. Unfortunately Etta cannot stand on her own yet to go surfing. Who knows maybe she will learn to surf before she walks!

We went hiking above the beaches along the cliffs. It was an easy hike but was very hot. We were glad we had our beach umbrella and that Etta was wearing her UV protected swim suit.
Family hike along the cliffs. It was breathtaking!
Etta and I walking along the paths.

Shading Etta from the hot sun. This really helped keep her in good spirits!

On our way down to ponta de piedade lagos. From there we took a fisherman's boat to see the different rock formations along the coast. It was amazing going through natural caves.

No comments:

Post a Comment