Monday, August 30, 2010

The Great Outdoors!

We had a wonderful family-time away camping this weekend.  We went up to Highline State Park (a mere 26 minutes away ... according to Norah) ~ and we would highly recommend this destination for families with young children.  The area is grassy (good for little people), there is a little playground (at least enough to climb on and slide down), there is a swim beach (and apart from the razor-snaggle rocks, it was a hit) and lots of room to run and play!

In an attempt to share our weekend's activities (without boring you to smithereens!) ... I will share with you some of our DO's and DON'T's of the weekend.  (These suggestions are in no particular order, of importance or in sequence of events ... just as they come to mind.)

Saturday morning ... notice the warm clothes :)
DO pack plenty of clothes taking into account the varying temperatures you might encounter.  We were delighted to find that the weather was cool and yet no one froze at night.  After a couple really warm weeks here in the Grand Valley, we truly enjoyed having a few goosebumps at night.

DON'T get exasperated when your kids refuse to put on the warm pj's and socks you encouraged them to pack.  Even though you have about 30 years of experience in camping and you are "Mom" ... don't add to the night-time, super-tired crankiness.  Encourage them to stuff the warmer clothes in their pillowcases and then try not to say a word when they come out in the morning all bundled up.

DO make some tentative plans for the day ... there is nothing worse than your children moaning about, "there's nothing to do".  However, this weekend Brett and I remembered that we spent most of our camping trips pre-kid doing exactly that - nothing.  Sweet, sweet nothing.

Tree-climber Aaron, half-way up the tree.
DON'T intend to keep any of those said plans, but instead enjoy some time flying by the seat of your pants!  We had a few things mentally planned but really let the kids and their care-free, child-like whimsy set the pace.  For example, we headed out on Saturday afternoon for a little nature walk.  We made it to the swim beach ... and not a step further.  Brett and I couldn't argue seeing as we really didn't want to walk through the dusty hot brush looking for bugs when we could be in the cool shade and splashing with the kids in the lake.  And the extra plus for this change of plans was that everyone was doing what they wanted ... instead of us telling them they were doing something that they should like.  It was a win-win decision!  We also discovered that all we really need when camping is a good tree.  The three big kids spent most of their time climbing, jumping, spying and coaching each other as they climbed and climbed and climbed.  And I didn't even freak out when I found Aaron 20-feet up in the tree ... I just smiled and took his picture. Cheese! :)

Aaron's reading "Calvin & Hobbes"
and Norah's doing school work, big surprise!
DO try to have some routine and structure to your trip ... especially if you have little people who get bent out of whack if you stir things up too much.  We still had a quiet time in the afternoon on Saturday.  Two-thirds of us napped while the other third (i.e. Aaron & Norah) busied themselves quietly.

DON'T watch the clock too closely.  We found that we still kept our basic schedule ... give or take 30 minutes.  The bonus of having lots of activities going on and kids constantly moving is an early bed-time. Our kids were wiped out on Saturday evening and we had very little trouble getting everyone settled down ... and it didn't take long for us adults either!

DO check the weather before you leave.  It would be a memorable weekend (for all the wrong reasons) if you ended up in a down-pour all crammed in a 4x4 foot tent .... for the weekend.

Hanging out in the "Family Room" ... listening to the rain.
DON'T change all your plans in the face of a few sprinkles.  We knew going into the trip that Saturday's forecast called for rain in the afternoon.  We figured that was at about nap time and we would all be down for a bit anyway and we could lay low until the clouds passed.  The only glitch to that fail-proof plan :) was that the rain came in the morning - while we were at the park.  We saw the clouds moving our direction and when we started feeling the sprinkles we headed back to camp.  It was still just misting when we got there, so we decided to set up our other smaller tent to act as "the family room".  Aaron & Norah actually worked side-by-side to get that one up with just a little help from Dad.  Then we loaded the tent with our activity books, blankets and some snacks and water.  It was a fun time to hang-out, listen to the rain pitter-patter on the tent, read, munch and we even wrote a letter and made pictures for our Compassion child - some real togetherness time!  I wouldn't want to spend the whole weekend that close, but it was a highlight to the weekend.

DO take the time to study nature.  For our "city" kids, we don't often stop and explore even our own backyard.  But ... when everywhere you look you see nature (actual quote from Aaron, "There is a lot of nature here.") it's almost impossible to not be amazed by what you see.  We took a number of little walks (many on our way to the potty) and the kids would get so excited when we would see a new bug.  We borrowed a nature pack from the Visitor Center (something else we would recommend doing) and included in the bag was a journal to jot down notes, some nature books on bugs, birds and flowers and two little, clear bug-boxes to catch and examine the creepy, crawly creatures.  Many of the bugs we were unable to catch (those dragonflies are speedy!) but that didn't stop us from crouching down and inspecting them.  We found grasshoppers, a praying mantis (trapped in the pop machine ... oops), dragonflies, moths, butterflies and rescued a plump caterpillar from the middle of the road.  We also made a little friend in Timmy the Toad who liked to hide along the edge of our tent.  Liddy followed him around and around saying, "mah".

Looking for Timmy ... hope we didn't squish him!
DON'T think too much about how much nature is really out there. :)  The kids also found two snakes ... one a little too close to our site.  As I lay in my bag last night I was hard-pressed not to think about that little slithery fellow ... s-ing around looking for somewhere warm to spend the night ... no room here, thanks!  We also were surrounded by a chorus of noises - some identifiable ... some not so much.  We heard frogs, owls, mourning doves and plenty of crickets.  Speaking of crickets ... they have moved right up my list of creepy little bugs - right to the top.  Once when looking for my sweatshirt, four of the little buggers came scurrying out ... yuck.  Liddy, however, was not bothered by them and spent a good amount of time near our tent pointing out all the black little jumping pests saying (you guessed it), 

DO pack some yummy food to eat while camping.  There is something wonderful about eating food outside that you cooked outside.  On Saturday we enjoyed cinnamon rolls warmed up over the fire with hot cocoa, PBJ sandwiches at lunch and hot dogs roasted over the campfire for dinner.  We followed that up with s'mores and roasted marshmallows ... sweet sugary goodness!  Sunday morning I made pancakes and we topped them with sliced peaches and syrup ... and hot cocoa in case breakfast wasn't sweet enough!

Norah savoring every gooey, sticky, sugary bite.
DON'T get bent out of shape if your kids snack all weekend and pig-out on the sweet goodies.  Camping is known for special treats and no serious health issues will result from over-dosing on junk.  At least, that's what I keep telling myself! :)  Lydia subsisted on fruit and milk this weekend with a hot-dog thrown in for some protein.  She also sucked on her s'more leaving two graham crackers stuck together by a trace of marshmallow creme ... no chocolate to be found.  I think Aaron was close to a sugar coma and we had to cut him off.  Norah had two s'mores and then started singing, dancing and speaking in some gibberish language ... she's just a little sensitive to sugar.  Ashley, on the other hand, didn't care for eating the marshmallows but she sure like roasting them.  (I think that's where Aaron was getting all his.)  While we may not have eaten from every group this weekend ... we made some good memories!  And we have some fun pictures, too!

DO enjoy your trip to the fullest and make plans to do it again soon.

Sweet Liddy on the way home ... zonked out!
DON'T do it again too soon!  Even though we really enjoyed our trip, we are really glad to be home ... and clean ... and within a few feet of a potty.  We were out of our campsite at about 10:30 this morning and part of me thought, "I wish we could stay longer.  The kids have been so great."  But, we also are familiar with the limits each our kids (and us) have and it was a good thing we headed home when we did.  Because ... little did we know that the toughest part was still to come.  UNpacking!  We had very sad crying kids, who previously had been running and climbing, and who now were unable to carry pillows upstairs.  Gratefully they were revitalized by pizza, showers and resting-times (same as Mom & Dad) and now they are scheming our next big trip!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for visiting! Your comments are warm fuzzies! (And con-crit is always welcome, too.)