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Last weekend, we went camping, and it ended quickly with a lot of rain and a leaky tent.
Regardless, not one, but two people have requested a blog post on the topic. So even though I’m no expert, and our trip wasn’t exactly a success, I can hook you guys up with some helpful tips and tricks. Here we go!
Quick note: this might be what you would consider “glamping”. Sorry, I’m not hardcore. I have to have a bathroom and showers nearby.
Essentials You Might Not Think Of
There are the obvious essentials for camping, like a tent and food. But when you have a preschooler and a toddler running around, there are a few things that are extra helpful:
Canopy – Bring one to set up over your picnic table or eating area, and have a place to gather when it’s really sunny – or if it rains. (You hope it doesn’t, but just in case.)
Wagon – A multi-purpose tool. Great for mild hikes or walks, a place to set the kids, a way of moving supplies, and a toy to keep kids occupied.
Hammock – Ours became the hub for the kids to play, and also was a great place to take a nap in the middle of the day.
Sand Toys – We were on a site packed with pebbles, and of course my boys dug in. Sand toys are great for the outdoors and you won’t mind so much if they don’t make it home.
Hand Sanitizer – Because a trip all the way to the bathroom to wash your hands might turn out to take too much effort.
Glow Sticks – A cheap, fun toy for when it gets dark! (Here’s an assorted pack that makes lots of fun toys.)
S’More Sticks – These sticks expand to a length that even a smaller child can hold, and it’s a more sanitary option that sticks from the woods.
Solar-powered Garden Lights – A cheap way to light a trail around your campsite and make it easier to navigate in the dark!
Tips for the Trip
Go with friends. We were so grateful to have another family with kids around the same age there. Our boys could play with their boys, we could share meals, and we could fill the gaps for each other for the things we inevitably would forget. (And did.)
Keep the car nearby. We kept our food in the car, to avoid animals. And small kids can hang out in their car seats with the doors or windows open if you’re nearby. It’s a nice way to keep them contained if you need to during set-up or clean-up.
Use a bucket to pack. My friend Kazia (who we shared a campsite with) shared this amazing idea: pack your clothes and personal items in a bucket – like a plastic paint bucket from a hardware store. It doubles as a stool, and won’t get its contents wet.
Pack layers. Be prepared for any kind of weather by packing long sleeves, short sleeves, jackets, pants, shorts, etc.
Stay close to town. In the likely event you forget something, have a Walmart or a general store available nearby. A pizza place? That too.
Pick a spot for maximum sleep potential. That means limited light, limited people, and limited traffic.
Bring as many comforts from home as you can. Pacifiers, blankets, stuffed animals, anything to help make them feel a little more comfortable.
Most parks have wood and ice available. And reasonably priced. Don’t feel pressure to get those things ahead of time.
Easy Meal Ideas
Some basics: Stay simple. Work with another family. You probably won’t eat the healthiest while you’re out, kids included, so don’t worry too much about the health factor. And prep as much ahead of time.
Omelettes/egg scramble (chop vegetables ahead of time to make it easier)
Pancakes (make ahead of time to make it easier on you!)
Bacon (of course!)
Breakfast burritos (scrambled eggs in tortillas with burrito toppings)
Sandwiches – peanut butter, grilled cheese
Burgers and hot dogs
Walking Tacos (cooked hamburger meat and taco toppings added to individual bags of tortilla chips – eat right out of the bag)
Grilled meat, potatoes and veggies in aluminum foil (prep ahead of time)
English muffin pizzas (bring tomato sauce, shredded cheese, and toppings, and grill)
S’mores are the obvious choice. Make them a little more fun by adding some of your favorite candies. (Rolls work great!)
Or add mini marshmallows, chocolate, fruit, and other fillings to ice cream cones, wrap in foil, and cook over the campfire.
What tips and tricks do you have for camping with littles? Happy to add your ideas to this post (with credit)! We need all the help we can get 😉
Mother’s Day is coming! Since one of my love languages is movies, I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you. These movies celebrate either mother/child relationship dynamics, or just the #momlife scene. Enjoy these with your own mama, or if you’re graced with a few hours alone in honor of the occasion.
Baby Mama – This movie gets me every time. It’s more about the friendship, but the process of getting ready for baby from two very different personalities will have you crying laughing.
Because I Said So – I watched this so long ago, but I do remember thinking, “how fun would this family be??”
Father of the Bride Part II – This one in particular. I cannot even imagine the circumstances in this movie. It’s zany and lighthearted.
Freaky Friday – I’d probably go with the Jodie Foster version, but the Lindsay Lohan/Jamie Lee Curtis one is fun too, particularly with JLC killing the whiny teen impression.
Hairspray – Goofy, cheesy, musical fun.
Mamma Mia – One of my faves! A sweet look into understanding each other a little better. Can’t wait for the sequel, which looks like it has even more poignant mother/daughter moments.
Mom’s Night Out – This movie isn’t big budget and didn’t get a lot of publicity, but it is so relatable to the everyday mom life that it hits home. Plus its unexpected twists and slightly sarcastic humor keep you invested.
Troop Beverly Hills – Such a long time since I’ve seen it. But you gotta love when the high-maintenance mom gets down to her daughter’s level and resourcefully leads a scout troop of preteen girls.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting – Again, this movie didn’t get a lot of hype, but it contains so many different perspectives of motherhood. It’s hilarious and also unexpectedly touching.
Wonder Woman – Strong motherhood relationships and girl power? Check!
(watch with tissues)
The Blind Side – For all the Mama Bears out there. Nothing gets in the way of you and your baby.
Forrest Gump – “Mama always was a real smart lady.”
Fried Green Tomatoes – It’s not exactly a mom movie but it has those generational girl power feels. Plus I watched it with my mom growing up, so I’ll throw it in there.
Hope Floats – The mother daughter relationship in this is so cute!
Little Women – Fictional mamas don’t get much more amazing than Marmee. She bravely leads her family with her husband away at war, and teaches them compassion and gumption.
Miracles from Heaven – Just the most mind-blowing miracle stories, and a mom who won’t give up on her kids.
Mother’s Day – One of those holiday movies that came out a few years ago. Lots of big name stars, and lots of looks into the twists and turns of mom life.
The Queen of Katwe – My hubby and I watched this one on a whim one day, and just loved it. Disney knows how to tell a “based on a true story” tale. In this one, you gain so much respect for a young mom trying to figure it all out on her own, and how much she defends and sacrifices for her children.
Spanglish – Quite possibly one of the best fictional mother/daughter relationships in the movies. Again, watch with tissues.
Stepmom – Speaking of tissues.
Where the Heart Is – A coming of age and motherhood tale rolled up in one.
Brave – Too often the mom’s story ends real quick in cartoon movies. This one shows the angsty teen drama with moms, and wraps it up sweetly.
Dumbo – Don’t tell me you don’t cry when the elephant mom sings “Angel of Mine” to her baby.
The Incredibles – As if being a mom wasn’t superpower enough 😉
What are some of your favorite mom movies, or movie mother/daughter relationships?
I’ve been trying to figure out how to respond to the gun control movement here on the blog. Especially as it relates to students and school shootings. Let me say first that I don’t like to get political here. I have strong opinions, but ultimately, I don’t want to alienate people who come to visit by promoting an agenda.
But I have to say something about this movement. It means so much to me, and I can’t have this whole platform to speak and talk about something else, like it doesn’t matter. Hopefully you can bear with me for that, and for this stream of conscious post you’re about to read.
I’ve grown up in a period of highly tragic, highly publicized school shootings. The first one I remember, is Columbine High School in 1999. It’s not the first school shooting, but it seemed to usher in a new era. (Or maybe that’s just because it’s the first I remember.) I was in middle school, and I couldn’t comprehend that something like that was happening to kids nearly my own age, in a place that should be safe.
In 2002, my school went on lockdown. A town away, someone was shooting people at random. As more information came in, we found out that the shooter was showing up undercover, killing someone without any particular reason, and disappearing without a trace.
I remember school under lockdown, and a dread about even walking out the front door. I remember worrying over my little brother, a crossing guard for his elementary school. When you’re fifteen years old, and you only know school to be a safe environment, there is nothing more terrifying that living in a community in which people are dying doing everyday things, and not even the police have any clue as to what is going on.
Privilege is a word that comes to mind here. I know many kids go to school every day, ones younger than I was, with an understanding of violence and death as the norm. They live with this knowledge every day. I wasn’t even directly affected by the sniper shootings, but those few weeks were the most afraid, most out of control I’ve felt in my life. I can’t imagine growing up where that is everyday life.
In 2007, my husband (to be) was on campus at Virginia Tech during what was at the time the deadliest mass shooting in history. I was three hours away, in school myself. Again, my faith in the safety and protection of the school environment was shaken.
Why It Matters
This is the point at which people might say, “But you weren’t even there! You didn’t even know anyone affected! It’s just one unfortunate situation! It matters, but does it matter that much?” Yes, yes it does.
Tragedies like Sandy Hook Elementary School or Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are happening so commonly that the numbers in the news are becoming just that – numbers. It’s too hard to look at the victims, so we look away. Hopefully if we move past it fast, we won’t have to deal with the tremendous pain that causes and results from such events.
But if we want to live in a community of compassion, of empathy, of human kindness, we can’t stop looking. And we cannot marginalize the individual tragedies and pain of the people who are experiencing these events. Even if they weren’t in the same room, or they didn’t know someone who was shot. Even if they’re young, or they’re “just one of many” of these tragedies.
No, I don’t have a solution. I have opinions on things I think would help, and I am in support of the #marchforourlives movement. But I do think that to cross this bridge, we all need to step back, and really hear each other. I do think we can consider solutions, without involving money or partisanship or name-calling or mocking. We can do it without steamrolling anyone else with our opinions. I don’t think you have to be a Democrat or a Republican or anyone in particular to choose to empathize, and to hear other people out.
I think our nation would benefit from this, our kids would feel heard, and maybe we can take steps towards healing and effective change. Our kids and our future are worth it.