Last summer, we dusted off our tent (which was still in it's original box from when we received it as a wedding gift), borrowed a few marshmallow roasting sticks, packed up our van (thank goodness for stow and go!) and headed "Up North" to Interlochen State Park with excitement and optimistic thoughts about the week ahead.
We had reserved a rustic campsite (because who needs power or modern bathrooms close by?!) for 5 nights and when we arrived we were met with beautiful views.
What do you do with a 7 1/2 month old who is almost crawling while camping at a sandy campsite? (Maybe a better question is "Who takes a 7 1/2 month old camping?") You bring a clip on seat and attach it to the picnic table and move the child from their pack-n-play to their seat and then to a carrier (I used my Ergo so much on this trip!) then start the rotation again. :)
I know you are thinking: "What about a blanket on the ground?" Well, we tried that... a few things made it not work so well. 1) Our campsite was very sandy and Gordon loved to pull whatever blanket he was on to investigate what was underneath - usually by putting things in his mouth. 2) There were lots of ants. 2) There were these caterpillars that fell from the sky trees, scaring the children and startling the parents... and they would bite.
So we did our best to situate Gordon in places where Gipsy Moth Caterpillars wouldn't fall from the sky and ants wouldn't bite and he wouldn't eat sand... thus no blankets on the ground.
We set up camp and ate dinner at the campsite - bathing the kids in a plastic tub before bedtime. We felt so accomplished with ourselves.
And then came night. When children fight sleep because they are so excited/sleeping in a tent. When parents realize that this might not be the best idea. When babies are tired and just want to sleep and older siblings can't stop talking. When parents just want to sit by the fire and enjoy time together but have to be constantly telling the kids to "be quiet" and "go to sleep." When parents give up and let kids come out of the tent and roast marshmallows and play with glow sticks instead of going to sleep.
After two nights of struggling with sleeping arrangements (a 6 person tent doesn't fit 5 people very well) we bought another tent and things went a little better the next few nights.
The way that the Kidders camp is this: We camp for cheap lodging and memories. We pay for showers every day. We eat at a restaurant at least one meal a day. Brad makes French Press coffee every morning. We play tourist during the day time - visiting breweries, beaches, wineries, the closest Target, playgrounds and local shops that sell spices and vinegar. Admittedly, we are a strange breed.
This selfie was taken while all three kids were zonked out in the car - we found beach and took a picture in the rain. #Romantic
We found some beautiful grass at a Michigan Winery and Gordon was so happy to not be in a baby-holding piece of equipment for a bit. :)
And after doing a fantastic job sitting in the car/stroller for hours - Lucy and Michael got to run around too.
Hahaha! I can not look at this picture without laughing! I tried to take a picture of the kids laying in the beautiful grass - but the sun was so bright all I got were squints and funny faces, from Lucy at least.
Playing at the campsite: Dirty faces and all! Oh the joys of camping. :)
Waiting in the car while Daddy took a shower - we drove to the "modern" side of the campground every day for showers. Brad would wait in the car with the kids while I showered and then we'd switch. It worked best to bathe the kids at the campsite (we didn't have "neighbors" so it was very private) but they did join us one day for showers (Michael HATED the "rain" but Lucy did well).
There was ONE night that we got to have some grown-ups only time. The kids were exhausted, Lucy and Michael went to sleep in their tent (the red one on right) and Gordon fell asleep too - Brad and I played Yahtzee, drank wine and enjoyed the campfire. It was wonderful.
Sugary cereal: The kids favorite part of camping. Haha!
"Look mom! Ellie is my hat!"
One day, someone (I'm ashamed to say it was me - Sarah) forgot to zip the window in the tent closed... we returned, after a day of enjoying Traverse City, to wet pillows and bedding. It had rained. Brad kindly took the wet stuff to a laundromat and washed/dried them while I put the kids to bed and read by flashlight-light.
The day to head home arrived and the kid's "helpful" actions were not helping us pack up camp so I took the three of them on an "adventure" while Brad got everything loaded into the van. We had a really fun time exploring the woods around our campsite!
The drive home was a quiet one... all three kids slept the entire 3 hour drive home (and I snoozed for the majority of it too!).
Despite the biting caterpillars, difficult sleeping arrangements and mishap with wet bedding - we had a great time. (OH! Brad broke a tooth during our trip too! - it was an adventurous week) It was a lot of work, but we think it was worth it for the memories made. We learned a lot and will do a few things differently next time (like buy our food after setting up camp instead of bringing it with us from home). Keep your eyes out for #thekiddersgocamping2015!
This post was written in November and somehow it never got published!
I thought it would be fun to hear what Lucy remembers about her birthday - 5 months later - she has a great memory and I love to hear how she processes memories and verbalizes her thoughts. The captions below are her words exactly.
This is me when I was having waffles with strawberries on my birthday, when I poured the syrup on my plate all by myself.
And then, a little bit later, I opened presents. One of them was a new bubble machine.
Then when I opened the next one there was a sleeping bag in it! And I love the sleeping bag.
And then, I unwrapped my next present on my new sleeping bag I got. I laid it out so I could try it out.
Then I got a new sleeping bag for Ellie. I still have it.
And then, a little bit later I stood behind my poster and saw pink.
A few minutes later I had cake, after I had my lunch, with twirly flowers on it! It was all pink-pink.
The table was all pretty, like I wanted it to be, it was all pink. (What did we eat?) Um we ate Peanut Butter and Jelly. WE had little things on the table - some breads, some peanut butters, some jellies, noodles and there was pink plates and pink cups and pink napkins AND pink cake.
And we had pink lemonade and water too. And wine for the grown ups. And a pen that showed up black so we could write our name.
We had a making necklaces area on my old rug with signs.
And we had a princess crafting stuff so we could make princesses. My friends really wanted to do those things.
Great Grandma came, Grandma came and Selah and Kayah came with their mom. And Mrs Michelle came too from Texas.
My friend Lorelei and my fried Tamara ate by me. I was in the middle of them.
Eating their food.
The boys were on a blanket with Gordon, playing toys. Kayah played with Gordon a lot.
Miss Kelly came and Aunt Amy had an elephant necklace on.
I blowed out my candles and I ate my cake.
I was like ((blowing))
And I got a new slap bracelet watch, which I loved because it slapped on my arm. Can we look for my slap bracelet mom? I wanna wear it.
Lorelei and Me, for a little bit, we did necklace making.
And I got a new crown and did bubbles.
There's my new bubble machine!
When I got my ears pierced! I cried, it was sad... Haha Ellie's eyes!
You are always the most friendly person on the playground and one of the most particular little person I have ever met. You have a compassionate heart and are attentive to the needs of those around you. Being your mom is a full time job that has made me cling to Jesus. You bring me so much joy. You are quick and smart like your daddy. You think well on your feet. You glows when Gordon smiles at you and call Michael “Sweetie.” Time with your daddy changes your demeanor. You and I love to read together and do crafts. I pray that your love for Jesus will overflow into a genuine love and concern for others. I love you so much sweet girl.