What I Learned From A Campground

Well, in a move that can only be described as oddly uncharacteristic of me, I suggested we take our kiddos camping over the weekend and it took all of 30 seconds for Travis to jump on board!  For the record, I have told Travis for years that I don't "do camping" and believe me, I meant it :) I would happily stay in a 3 star hotel and consider that a "camping experience" but tents and I don't mix. 

However as motherhood continues to chip away at all of my "I will never" statements, I had a moment of clarity come over me and I suddenly realized that maybe my previously held position was not all that great.  I married a man who would camp every weekend if he could and it just might be time for me to suck it up and get excited :) So, after he picked his jaw up off the floor and determined that I was indeed his wife, I had one happy camper (sorry, couldn't resist) on my hands last week while he planned every detail for our big night out!  Wisely we chose to only brave one night, just a few miles from our house because we honestly had no idea if the kids were going to be able to hack this adventure or not!
The look on his face (my husband's) is such pure joy I almost can't handle that I've said no all these years...Ouch.  Lesson learned.
Does she not look like she is ready for school??
She decided that it was essential for her baby Stella and Stella's diaper bag to go camping with us.
I'm pretty certain she had no idea what was happening or why we asked her 85 times if she was "so excited to go camping??"  I think this is a look of pure confusion!  ha ha!
We cleared out the second row of the van and loaded it up! 
Never been so glad for a minivan to hold all our stuff...
We got to our little spot on Friday afternoon and Trav dove right in to get it all set for us.
The explorer ready to see the lay of the land :)
Ava was fascinated by the whole thing and thankfully very obedient about staying away from the fire once we had it going. 
Look closely, but this might be my favorite shot of the whole experience.
While they went for a walk, I stayed back to get our "bed" ready :)
We planned to sleep in our minivan because A-We don't have a tent, B-I couldn't imagine the kids sleeping with all the background "noise" of other campers, C-It seemed safer.  Not saying any of that is logical, but those were my conditions! ha!
The campground had a great park across the way that we spent lots of time enjoying.
This girl loves a slide!
I enjoyed this little camper too!
Not to mention this little peanut, who truly had no idea what we were doing but he was more than happy about it!
Our little campsite :)
I felt like a rookie compared to our "neighbors" but thankfully my red tablecloth gave me some street cred. 
I think.
Little.  Big.
Eating some snacks!
Can you stand those little chairs?? 
Somehow Carty ended up with the bigger one :)
In. His. Element.
I scored major wife points with this trip!

This little guy was so good!  I made a pact with myself to let him get as dirty as he wanted and to not freak out over things I normally would  :)
Good decision. 
Life is simple at a campground and who doesn't need simple in their world??
One of my favorite things we did was to walk to the lake and take the kids fishing.
It was Carty's first time but I know it won't be his last!
Travis has been taking Ava this summer a little bit and he always tells me how much she likes it.
This time I got to see for myself.  She was in Heaven out there, just soaking it all up and talking a mile a minute!
And because God was good to us he gave us the whole lake to ourselves and literally provided new fish every 5 minutes for Trav to reel in.  The kids were thrilled!
Travy helped Ava cast a line and she thought she was big stuff!
My Dad always took us fishing when we were little girls and that's all I could think about while I watched the two of them.  He patiently explained what they were doing and in about 2 minutes they caught a fish, much to her delight and ours too.  I seriously wanted to cry!
Little fisher girl!
Not too bad...
It was at this moment that I was feeling pretty good about this whole thing! 
Clearly the Lord was getting a good laugh about what was to come...
While Trav and Ava stayed a little longer, Carter and I headed back to get in our jammies and try to wind down for bed.  And that concludes part 1 of the camping trip. 
Here's what we learned:
1. Our kids are not ready to sleep in something other than a crib or a bed.
2.  We cannot all be in the same confined space without tears and antics.
3. Ava has an uncanny ability to do a series of sommersaults, consecutively, on and around all sizes of people.
4. We need sleep.
5.  The best decision we made was to stay close to home...

...Because that's where we ended up.  At home.
At 9:30pm, when it was abundantly clear that no one was going to be doing any sleeping, we looked at each other and Trav suggested the most brilliant thing ever.  We could leave our stuff at the camp, drive home, sleep in our own beds and then come back in the morning and pick up where we left off.

Which is exactly what we did! 
We all went right to bed, got up in the morning and went straight back.  No showers, no Starbucks...we did our best to "keep it real" :) I did throw in a load of laundry, but no one was on to me!
Part 2?  Pancakes over the fire....Yum!
Happy to be outside again and even in a sweatshirt!  It was a little chilly, which felt totally perfect.
Thankfully this little girl woke up on the RIGHT side of the bed because she definitely went to sleep on the WRONG side of it!
Eatin her bananas and chocolate chip pancakes like a pro!
Notice the "all brown" color scheme here??
That was my attempt to let the dirt blend in so I could relax!
Such a beautiful morning...
My man even made me coffee over the fire :)
That's love...
Yep, it was a fun, although exhausting experience.
I'm pretty sure it will be a couple of YEARS before we do it again :)
If I didn't have two small children to watch like a hawk, I could have enjoyed some people watching for hours!  It's a whole new world for me and people who camp come in all kinds of varieties!  I would like to say, what is with camping and smoking??  And I don't mean the fires.  I think everyone around us was lighting up like the fourth of July...didn't see that coming.  Also panicked a little when the first hour of our trip was gift wrapped in hip-hop and rap, thanks to our neighobrs across the path.  Apparently we gave off the "sure, we'd LOVE to listen to that all weekend" vibe because they turned it right up as soon as we got there.  Thankfully it didn't last.  I wasn't sure how I was going to explain Little Wayne to Ava :)  
Lots of work yes, but some precious memories for sure.
And yes, Carter is still rear facing but we had to move him when we took the seats in the second row out...nobody panic.  We're back to normal again :)
I'd say this is a pretty good indicator of the trip...We all felt this way.
Here's to new traditions and new adventures and yes, more camping in the years to come.
Nobody tell Travis, but secretly, I LOVED it! 
I see some shopping in my future :)


Darla said...

I have been checking your blog like MAD the past couple days in anticipation of a camping recap. And let me tell did not disappoint! Loved reading every word and seeing every picture. Too many things were enjoyable to even think about listing specifics. I am just so impressed at your willingness and eagerness to go on such an adventure.

Hannah J said...

Oh my goodness, my husband and I both LOVE camping and so we tried to take our 8-mo old son a few weeks ago. We also ended up breaking camp and coming home around 10:00 when it became clear that neither the tent nor the car was going to work out sleep-wise. Sadly, I think it'll be awhile before we're ready to try again =) Looks like it all ended up well for you guys! Such sweet pictures!

Faith said...

Oh, what a fun family adventure! Definitely forming great memories with your crew =)

Thank you so much for your sweet words of encouragement on our new journey. I appreciate them and your example that you've set for me and others!

Amber said...

Steph - In a couple of years we are going to have to meet in Northern Ia/Southern MN and have a camping get together. We didn't even get our little pop up camper out of storage this summer! I can just imagine all of our kiddos jumping on the beds in the camper! Ha!
Its exhausting chasing littles around the camp ground, but so fun too! loved all the pictures, esp the look on Trav's face the whole time! :)

Anonymous said...

this made me laugh...I hate camping....luckily for me our church has father/son and father/daughter camping trips every summer...nothing involving moms...unless u count,packing them up,grocery shopping for them,worrying while there in the mountains,unpacking them and cleaning it all up.
ps. even as we speak...our front van seat is sitting my living room,lol

Manda (+2) said...

I was dying laughing at the conclusion of part 1 and the introduction to part 2. THAT is why I won't attempt it. you're a good woman!

Ron and Peggy said...

I feel sure that is your funniest post EVER!