A note from the author: Although “thankfuls” is not a word, it is a term used by my child at the dinner table and I find it to be fitting. Therefore, it is used often in this article. Please know it is referring to more than one thing we are thankful for.

Every night year-round at the dinner table, our household says one or two things that we are thankful for. Usually if we are feeling not super creative, someone will say they are thankful for this meal, or the people that we are grateful to be eating dinner with. Every so often though, there is a gleaming thankful, one that seemed to truly take thought and some that we don’t even expect to hear…This nightly ritual of saying our thankfuls has helped our family feel a sense of gratitude even on those days that were flat out crummy, or days when you don’t feel well.

To keep with that spirit, and because this is the time of the holidays that I look inward and reflect, I would like to share some thankfuls with you that are related to the outdoors. These are things that I value and that I am grateful for.

  1. Relax Melodies App. This is a free App for a Smartphone and I use it almost every night. It has various nature sounds to listen to, you can mix the sounds together to make “river + frogs” and make a super fun sleep tune. You can have the frogs be louder than the river or visa versa. It has meditation programs as well and to get even more awesome sounds you can pay a small fee of $10 or so dollars for a lifetime of sounds. My favorite sounds are “fire crackles”, “rain on tent”, “loons”, and “wolf.” This gives me the joy of feeling like I am in nature even when I am sleeping indoors.
  2. Backyard Birds. I have been using this Autumn season to prepare the birds that visit our backyard for the long haul of Winter. This not only benefits them but teaches my four year old daughter to have an appreciation for the little bits of wild nature that visit our backyard. We have visited Wild Birds Unlimited in Wenatchee, that recently opened, to stock our bird feeder with yummy seeds. The store had many learning tools and the handout they gave us has been teaching us about the different types of feeders and how each has a different purpose. We have also learned that birds need a water source during Winter. Why didn’t I ever realize this?
  3. Sarah wearing her Columbia down jacket while building the first snow man of the season.

    Down-Hooded Puffy Jacket. I use a light weight down puffy jacket by Columbia during the autumn and winter months. I love a good down jacket, not too much down or else I sweat terribly and one with a hood for those cold days when you are on an adventure. Here is a link to one similar to the one I own.

  4. Podcasts. Because I am not only a mother and a wife but I also have a job, I am a busy person (just like most people out there I bet). So I like to multi-task. I have really been enjoying listening to Podcasts on my iPhone that include nature education but that are also easy listening so that my daughter can listen as well. These are great to listen to in the car, or while doing dishes or eating lunch at home. Some of my favorite podcasts and podcast episodes are:

Stuff You Should Know – What’s Permaculture All About and How Giraffes Work.

Ted Talks Kids and Family – The Fascinating Physics of Everyday and Nature is Everywhere.

I’d love to hear your thankfuls as well. Please feel free to share them in the comment section at the bottom of this article.

(This post originally appeared on WenatcheeOutdoors.org. When she’s not adventuring with her family, mom blogger Sarah Shaffer is the executive director of Wenatchee Outdoors.)