Why I Love My Earth Runners: A Review

earth runners

A couple of years ago, the makers of Earth Runners contacted me and asked if I’d like to try a pair of their minimalist sandals for review. I said Yes, please! I’m embarrassed that it has taken me this long to finally share my review, only because my blog took a back seat in my life due to my son’s high needs. But on the positive side, I’ve had two full years to try them out. I know these sandals and I know that I love them!

Note: I received a free pair, but otherwise, I get nothing if you buy from them. I just think Earth Runners are an awesome product and I want to tell you about them! P.S. I chose the Circadian style, which has the thinnest sole.

Minimalist Sandals: The Second Best Option to Barefoot

earth runners review - minimalist sandals

As longtime readers know, I’m a passionate barefooter. As soon as the temperatures here in Canada are above freezing, you can see me traipsing about without shoes. I believe shoes are (for the most part) unnecessary at best, and harmful at worst. (I’ve written before about why I don’t wear shoes. Wellness Mama has a pretty great article on the benefits of going barefoot, too.)

But occasionally it’s good to wear shoes.

And at those times, I typically reach for my Earth Runners.

Honestly, my primary reasons for wearing shoes are (1) protection from the cold in winter, and (2) to keep people out of my business when I’m in stores and restaurants. (I used to enter public buildings barefoot all the time but got tired of being asked to leave just because I wasn’t wearing shoes.)

Granted, the sandals can’t really help with the first. I have to wear waterproof, insulated boots during our Canadian winters. (In these situations, I look for boots with the flattest soles. Even a one-inch heel can negatively affect your gait.)

But they’re fabulous the rest of the year, especially when I’m in public places.

Why I Love My Earth RunnersEarth Runners review - minimalist sandals

  • They look awesome. Their appearance is unobtrusive and mainstream enough that they don’t draw attention (No one’s like, “WHAT ARE THOSE? Those aren’t regular sandals!”), but they’re stylish and unique enough that I get compliments from my friends. And they go with everything. Casual or semi-dressy. I’m equally comfortable wearing them to the grocery store, on a hike, to church, or on date night.
  • They’re durable. They’re not your cheapo flip-flops made by slaves overseas that only last one season. They’re handmade in the USA. They are well-made and sturdy. You can hardly see any wear on mine after two years. All of the parts are strong and well-assembled.
  • They’re so comfortable. The design of the straps keeps them so secure that they never chafe. The piece that goes between your toes is flat and smooth. Unlike flip-flops, they don’t require an adjustment period in the spring when I first start wearing them. I just slip them on and go. No weird rubbing. No awkward change in my gait pattern to keep them on.
  • They’re as close to going barefoot as I can get. The thin, flexible sole allows my feet to experience the terrain and still move all my foot bones (unlike regular shoes, which immobilize your feet, essentially casting them). The wide toe area allows for proper toe spread. They even contain copper discs in the sole which allow your feet to “ground” with the earth, if that’s something that matters to you.earth runners - minimalist sandals
  • Easy Sizing: If you’re reluctant to buy shoes online because you’re worried about sizing, Earth Runners has an awesome system for finding you the perfect size. They nailed my size exactly.

I still go barefoot more often than not, of course.

If you’re a fellow barefooter, here are the times when I’ve found it helpful to own a pair of minimalist sandals:

  • In the early spring, when transitioning from winter footwear to going shoeless. My feet naturally get more sensitive over the winter when I spend most of my time indoors. It takes a few weeks to adjust to rough outdoor surfaces and colder temperatures in the spring. My Earth Runners are perfect for this.
  • On trips, when I’ll be going in and out of a lot of stores/restaurants/museums. (Normally, if I’m just going into one store, I carry a pair of flip-flops I’ll slip on just before entering, but that’s a pain if I’m going in and out a lot. Better to just keep my pair of Earth Runners on.)
  • When doing yard work. They’re helpful when I need to use a shovel, which are not barefoot-friendly, or when I mow the lawn and I don’t want my soles to be stained green.

So there you go. Whether you’re a full-time barefooter or you just want a healthier alternative to shoes, I love and highly recommend Earth Runners!

P.S. If you want to learn more about the health benefits of going barefoot from an actual expert, and would like information on how to safely transition to minimal footwear, I highly recommend the book Whole Body Barefoot by Katy Bowman. If you’ve been wearing conventional shoes your whole life you may need to transition carefully in order to avoid injury.

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Our First Year of Unschooling, in Review

our first year of unschooling

The school year is winding down for kids in Canada.

Not that Lydia — now almost six — would know. We spent the year “unschooling.”

At the start of the school year (i.e. last September), I thought I might implement daily lessons or at least set aside special time for schoolish stuff every day. That lasted about a month.

I guess I could see that Lydia was learning plenty without my interference. She also started to really resist my attempts to instruct her on things. And since I really, truly believe that children learn best when they’re driven by their own interests, and that they can learn everything they need without formal instruction, I just let it go. At least for another year.

So we just continued to live life, the way we had for her first four years.

We had fun, we read piles of books, and I answered her questions or helped her find solutions when she came to me with them. And she learned and learned and learned.

We didn’t try to slice learning up into different “subjects,” but as I reflect on our past year, I feel we covered a pretty good range.

Here’s a bit of a recap of our first year of unschooling.

(Note on photos: most of these were taken with my cheap Android inside our darkish house during the darkish Canadian months of Sept-May. Apologies about the quality.)

Socializing

I know this is a big concern for a lot of people, and the reason many parents send their kids to school. I felt we got a great amount of socializing in without school.

Since we didn’t have to be anywhere in particular most days, we had lots of chances to just hang out with friends in the mornings and afternoons. We got together with a few other homeschooling families when we got the chance. We went to the park, met at the petting zoo, and went for walks in the forest. We visited the apple orchard and the pumpkin patch in the fall. Lydia and I stopped in at the local forest school a couple of times, too.

friends

picnic

forest school

One of the coolest things was that I was able to exchange weekly babysitting services with another homeschooling friend, meaning that twice a week, Lydia got to spend a whole day with a friend. They’re becoming like sisters (including the squabbling.)

dressup

Literacy

harry potter

To my surprise (and admittedly, dismay — I majored in literature for six years), Lydia showed little interest in learning to read and write this year. I tried a few lessons from Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, but she just wouldn’t have it.

So I didn’t push it. Dutch kids aren’t taught to read and write until about age seven, yet they scored at the top of educational achievement and participation in the latest UNICEF study. Waldorf schools do the same. So I’m not too worried. When she wants to learn, I’m sure she’ll pick it up no problem.

Sometimes she would want to write a note to a friend or label a drawing and would ask me how to spell it out. To her annoyance I just helped her sound it out until she had something readable. She knows what letters make what sounds, for the most part.

We also played with her moveable alphabet, figuring out how to spell names from her latest media obsession.

moveable alphabet - how to train your dragon

moveable alphabet - tmnt

Most of all, we read books. Stacks and stacks of picture books. We visited the library almost weekly. Before bed, I always read a few chapters aloud from a novel.

library(bringing home the library haul)

Eventually I know she’ll want to do it on her own, but for now I’m cherishing reading aloud to her.

Math

We learned a lot about geometry by playing with our Spielgaben set. We went through the learning guide that came with it, and she really enjoyed it.

spielgaben - symmetry game(playing with symmetry)

pyramid

geometry pizza - spielgabengeometry pizza

She enjoys counting and doing basic adding and subtracting, just in everyday life. She was so proud the first time she counted to 100 by herself.

We also went through a few Bedtime Math books, which she loved.

Science

microscope

Science has been one of Lydia’s favourite subjects this year, though she doesn’t know that. She just knows she likes books about bones, bodies, plants, and animals.

I also bought her a microscope which was a big hit (We got this one, and are completely delighted with it. A great price for a fantastic piece of equipment). We spent hours poring over slides and specimens. We were surprised by the appearances of kitchen ingredients and different fabrics under the microscope. And we were amazed the see the microsopic creatures swimming around in a single drop of pond water.

We went to a museum in the middle of the week when it was nice and empty.

museum

Art

art

Painting and drawing have been a huge part of Lydia’s life since she first picked up a crayon, and this year was no different.

I went through an obsessive phase learning about watercolours, and she watched every Youtube video with me that she could.

painting with watercolours

Time in Nature

mushrooms

This kind of falls under science, but I thought I’d make it a separate category.

Skipping the classroom meant we had plenty of time to spend outside. We took lots of walks around the neighbourhood and nature parks, looking at plants and animals. That was really important to me.

Practical Life

Staying home also meant lots of time to help out around the house. Since mornings weren’t rushed, she was able to make her bed and put away her laundry every day. She enjoyed helping in the kitchen, too.

dough

cooking

I think that covers most of it!

I didn’t spend a minute regretting our choice to unschool, or wishing we had done anything differently. I’m looking forward to many more years of learning together!

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How to Make Sun Prints

How to make sun prints. Fun summer activity for kids!

Hi friends! Lydia and I recently did a fun, inexpensive, outdoorsy+artsy activity that I thought I’d share about: making sun prints. It was pretty cool!

sunprint kit

You can buy a little Sunprint Paper Kit for about $6.50 USD on Amazon. That’s the one we got, anyway. It’s the 4×4-inch kit, and it has 12 sheets of sun print paper in it. Somehow I was surprised how tiny the squares were. You can only fit, like, one maple leaf on a square. It ended up looking awesome, though, when you put them all together. I discovered you can get much bigger kits, too — in the future it would be fun to try this kit that contains 8×10-inch sheets (i.e. closer to the size of standard printer paper), for about $12.50.

Anyway, here’s how it works:

First, gather your materials and take them outside. (You need pretty bright, direct sunshine to get a crisp image.) All you need is your Sunprint kit and a small square/rectangular dish of water to rinse your prints. Plus the things you want to print, of course.

Next, collect some objects you’d like to make prints of. I decided we should stick with items from nature (leaves, flowers, seeds, etc), but you could just as easily use household items with distinctive shapes (toys, keys, etc). They had to be small, though, to fit on the 4×4 sheets. Flat objects work best, but you can use 3-dimensional objects, too (for example, we did a pine branch.)

nature items

(These are the items we used, after we were done with them. That’s why they’re wilty.)

Time to make your prints! You have to make them one at a time, because the kit only includes one acrylic cover.

Lay down a sheet of print paper. It starts out blue. Lay your item on top, and then cover with the acrylic sheet that comes in the kit.

making sunprints: fern 1

Tip: we made sure to keep our materials in the shadows our bodies cast as we prepared them.

The acrylic sheet keeps the item from moving around. You can print 3D items (e.g. the pine branch) without the cover, but when possible (e.g. with flat object like leaves), the acrylic sheet really helps.

Anyway, let it sit in the sun for about one minute, until the blue turns almost white.

fern2

Then remove the cover and the item. It now looks like this:

making sunprints: fern 3

Cool! But the magic isn’t over yet: quickly rinse your new sun print in water. For about another minute.

making sunprints: fern 4

making sun print - rinsing

Now lay it flat to dry in the shade. Be amazed as the colours reverse: the background goes back to blue, and the silhouette of the object turns white! Whaaaat? #science

fern7

Over the next few hours, the blue will deepen to a deep, rich indigo.

 

making sunprints: fern

Some other items we tried were maple keys, an English ivy leaf, a pine branch, a Japanese maple leaf, and a stem of bleeding heart blooms.

sun prints - maple keys

making sun prints

They looked so pretty together that I decided to frame them. I already had a floating frame that was just perfect for this.

Lydia wants this up in her room. I agree that it will look awesome! What a lovely piece of artwork!

sun prints framed

(PS trying to take a photo of something so shiny and reflective is HARD!)

There you go! Give it a try and tell me how it goes!

Disclaimer: post contains affiliate links. If you click through and buy something, I get a tiny commission. Thanks for your support!

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