Sunday, July 15, 2012

Camping with two little kids

On the road.
A long, long time ago during a period in our lives known as B.C. (before children) we used to go camping a lot. It was our thing. We went with friends. We went alone. We went to campgrounds. We camped on a sandbar off the Mississippi river. We camped in the hunting lodge at Scharmer's. We really enjoyed everything there was to do with camping (well, maybe except the packing, unpacking, setting up, tearing down aspect, and mostly definitely excluding the mosquitoes!). We even went camping twice the summer before Spencer turned one and both turned out to be pleasant experiences. Last summer is the first time we did not go camping (unless you count cramming three families in a cabin), mostly because I was a pregnant hippo and wasn't too thrilled with the idea of sleeping on an air mattress in a stuffy tent.

Our first meal.
This year we decided to try it again. Let me tell you the differences between camping B.C and the present day. Lots and lots of baby gear, ranging from pack n plays, booster seats, potty seats, toys to diapers, wipes, bibs, baby food. The list goes on and on and on. Setting up the tent used to be a fairly simple task (if you don't count attaching the rain fly because that's a very arduous process that involves quite a bit of swearing--B.C., of course, because now we try to keep it clean). Now one person needs to round up the kids and keep them distracted enough to stay out of the way so the other person can stake, loop, tug and heft it up all by himself. Downtime at the camp site consists of continually putting your stubborn baby back on the blanket and removing leaves, sticks, rocks, dirt, etc from his mouth; negotiating between two kids on whose turn it is to play with the dump truck; bartering with your toddler to pee on a tree and earn a sucker; whereas before we'd sit in our camp chairs with our feet propped up enjoying a leisurely afternoon with a book or magazine and lots of junk food. A simple trip to the pool or river now requires a morning of planning around naps and feeding schedules, rounding up toys, towels, hats and applying gobs of sunscreen. Where sand used to be a nuisance, it's now the center of your camping world, stuck in crevices you didn't even realize your kids had. The tent used to be spacious, a little camper's oasis (as long as you don't mind the suffocating heat that sucks the very breath out of you during the day). Now every corner is crammed with pack 'n plays, toys, clothes and other miscellaneous crap that there's only a small pathway between the kids sleeping quarters and our air mattress.
So you might ask: How is camping now with two little kids? Cozy? You betcha. Chaotic? Definitely. Exhausting? Without a doubt. Fun and rewarding? For sure! Better? Hmmm....depends on the definition. Definitely different. But this is our world now and I wouldn't change it!

Our first camping trip as a family of four began tentatively. We had even decided to skip Friday night due to the rainy weather all day. But we bucked up and set out on our camping adventure late in the afternoon. After we got the camp site set up, we had an easy supper of grilled cheese sandwiches and then almost sprinted to the pool. We were hot! That night we enjoyed a little bit of a campfire before the first few raindrops plopped on us. We checked the radar on our phones and began debating on whether we should stay. A lightening storm was heading our way. Ultimately we did pack up as much of our stuff as we could in the truck to keep it safe and then we drove the short distance back home for a safe sleep in our own beds. (Another difference post B.C.: we never would have bailed on camping because of some silly storm!)

Helping Daddy with the wood.

Roasting the first marshmallow.
Spencer's version of a s'more--all pieces separate.

First thing in the morning we headed right back. We spent quite a bit of time in the giant sandbox and playing at the park before the great nap dilemma hit us. How to get two kids to nap in a tent at the same time? Impossible! Dave took Spenc on a drive to get more ice where he looped around country roads to trick Spencer into a nap. I stayed at camp and wrestled with my baby to get him to finally conk out in the pack n play. During his nap I did get to enjoy some B.C. leisurely camping downtime. I put my feet up and read a magazine. By the time their naps were over, though, I was ready to get moving. We made the preparations in order to get us on the river (suits on, sunblock applied, toys, drinks, food and towels bagged, camera ready) and walked to the beach. We enjoyed some family time swimming before our good friends, the Fravels, joined us. We swam more and then headed back to the camp site for some yummy camp food. After eating everyone played at the park. Then we made the camping staple: s'mores. It's funny how each person likes theirs different. Some with just one marshmallow, some with two, some with a perfect golden brown marshmallow, some with a burnt one, some with just three measly chocolate squares, some with a half Hershey's bar, some with no chocolate at all, and some with each ingredient separated on his plate. But, if you were to ask me, the best s'more contains two burnt to a crisp marshmallows sandwiched between half a Hershey's bar and graham crackers. Mmmm, what a sticky, gooey, delicious mess!

On the way to the sandbox.

No pictures, Mommy!



Playing nicely and sharing.

Jumping on the large trampoline that we were technically supposed to pay extra for.

On the far right: Tara and Baby Evelyn on board.
Once the Fravels left and the kids were fast asleep in the tent, Dave and I did quite possibly the best part of camping--sitting around the campfire. We enjoyed the mesmerizing effect of the fire and chatted into the night hours. 
Reading before bedtime.
Sleeping on an air mattress in a stuffy tent next to a congested, snoring man and restless kids rolling around in their pack 'n plays really isn't my ideal night's sleep, but there is something to be said about the experience anyway. Waking up to my baby's hungry whimper came far too early, but we enjoyed some family snuggle time on the air mattress before packing it all up and heading home. Our first camping experience with two little kids was a success. Now hopefully I can wash away all the sand and dirt from all their little crevices.

Heading home.
Donuts are messy!

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