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!).