Monday, May 26, 2014


This weekend we went camping with a big group of homeschooling friends.  Last year, the weather was unseasonably cold, and we all froze.  This year, the weather was absolutely *perfect*--lows 70s during the day, and 50s at night.  I hope that doesn't mean next year is slated to be unbearably hot!

Packing for a camping trip involving 11 people is quite a logistical challenge, to say the least.  This year I actually typed up a list, which really helped.  There were only a few items we needed to add to list once we got back home.  The food is definitely the biggest challenge.  Our family eats so much, especially when all those growing boys are outside all day long exercising! 
We had the same 2 tent set-up as last year, with the 4 boys in the red tent that has served us so well since Colorado days, and the other 7 of us in the brown tent we got last year from Costco.
 With the new baby coming, next year I am planning to move Micah on up to the tent with the other big boys.  I always have trouble with little kids in sleeping bags--they wiggle around during the night, ending up sideways and completely uncovered.  At a consignment sale in March, I found this "toddler travel bed".  It comes with 6 styrofoam strips of equal length--2 for each side, and one for each end.  You slide them in the sleeves, then velcro the corners together, making a little frame for the flat little mattress.  I put Micah's sleeping bag in there, and it worked perfectly!  He didn't move sideways at all, and he stayed perfectly covered, sleeping like a rock each night!

Drew wasn't quite so cooperative.  He was cold the first night, and woke up a few times, but the second night was warmer (and he was so exhausted), so you would think he would have slept great.  But alas, it rained a little bit, and I guess that woke him up, and he ended up crying several times, making a restless night for me.  At least it didn't bother anyone else!  
 Once again, we brought construction toys for the littles to play with.  When we were getting organized, I could not find the brown paper sack in the garage, but I did find a set of 5 little trucks at Target.  But as we were loading up, I did find the bag, so we ended up with 3 bigger vehicles and 5 smaller ones.  Since there were mainly girls leading the playing, the big trucks became the "mommies", and the little ones were the babies.  Lots of happy little construction families, building themselves houses!  It was really cute--until Godzilla Micah or Drew would destroy all the houses and roads, leading to great frustration all around, especially the more tired everyone got.
 Christine gave the boys some camping cooking lessons Saturday morning on their lovely big Costco cooking stove.  We once again borrowed the L's stove--just as we have been for the past 16 years of camping!  Maybe one of these days we'll invest in our own . . .
 Saturday after breakfast we all hiked to the waterfall.  The older kids all went up to the top of the falls with Bob (most of them ending up wet, at least their shoes, if not more), but I was not sure it was a good idea for Micah, Drew, and me to attempt that.  So we stayed at the bottom, and Micah and Drew climbed all over the little rocks there.  Thankfully they both stayed dry, LOL.  Micah was very proud of himself for climbing up on top of this stump all by himself!

This was the same hike we did last year, where on the way back Micah pitched a huge temper tantrum after lagging farther and farther behind.  So I had to carry him, and in the midst of all the drama, I totally missed a trail intersection, and I marched off down a different trail.  This is now known in family lore as "the time when Mom got lost", although I always point out I was not technically "lost".  Once I realized I was on the wrong trail, I turned around and retraced my steps!  Anyhow, nothing like that happened this time.
 The only drama was that Faith somehow acquired a splinter on the hike (she is some sort of splinter magnet?  At least she didn't shriek and scream bloody murder like she did in Sacramento!)  So Nathan had to get part of it out on the hike, and then both he and I worked on the last part once we got back to the campsite.  She looks like she is even laughing a bit here, but don't be fooled--Faith is not our "stoic" one, LOL.  Ah, the drama of girls.
 Saturday night we started a new tradition--a Mexican night with friends!  I made 10 pounds of Amy's nacho meat and beans Thursday so we could just heat that up, along with 2 huge bags of tortilla chips and sour cream.  Christine brought taco shells,cheese, homemade guacamole, tomatoes, salsa, and lettuce, and Shannon brought more chips and salsa, plus brownies and cookies for dessert.  And of course we had s'mores!  It was so yummy and easy!
 Here Nathan is demonstrating a card trick to an interested audience.
 Isaac took Drew on some ripstick rides, which Drew loved.  Drew does not live the life of an average 18 month old, LOL.  He looked so cute in the helmet!
 Sunday we had church in the morning, and then after lunch, we mustered up the energy to go for another hike, this time to a lake.  Drew was absolutely and completely exhausted after his restless night, and he zonked out in the backpack, much to our great relief.  The hike was mostly downhill on the way there, and the last section was pretty steep, so we were wondering how the girls and Micah would do on the way back.  There is a little beach at the lake, and the girls all wore their swimsuits.  Faith had the most fun, I think.  Grace dipped one toe in, got it muddy, and decided she would rather play on the playground with Micah and Drew.  Anna went in but was also grossed out by the slimy gook on the bottom, and she told us she was definitely NOT going in the lake next year!  As we were getting ready to head back up the trail, another family who was camping with us drove by.  They offered to take back as many kids as would fit, so we very happily sent back the 3 girls and Micah.  Shannon also went back with her little girl, as well as Elena.  That made the hike back much more pleasant for all of us!  It was definitely a steep climb at the beginning, and I'm sure Micah and the girls would have complained vigorously, LOL.  Luke wore the backback with Drew for the way back, so he gets lots of bonus points there.  Halfway back, Craig McC took his older 3 boys on a different trail to do some rock climbing.  Nathan was quite excited about that, so he went too.

When we got back, we began the laborious process of tearing everything down.  We had a bit of a time crunch--there was a potluck dinner at 6:00, and we wanted to be done before then!  We got one tent down by 6:00.  They go up faster than they go down!  After the potluck (we brought teriyaki chicken strips that I cooked at home and just reheated there), I continued tearing down.  Nathan went to work on 2 "pie iron contest" recipes.  A pie iron is a square metal thing that opens up and is on 2 long poles, so you can stick something in there and cook it in the coals of a fire.  They've had this contest for several years, but we didn't even have a pie iron before last weekend, when Bob ordered 2 from Amazon!  They are fun little things for camping, and you can definitely make yummy things in them.  Nathan made a caramel apple pie one in a crescent roll crust, and another one with hot fudge topping and coconut (I didn't try that one, if you can believe it).
Everyone had lots of input for the chef.  It was like an episode of "Chopped"!  So much fun!

So after the contest, we were able to finish getting loaded up, and we finally got home around 10:15--exhausted and filthy!  Everyone except Nathan, Luke, Caleb, Bob and me were fast asleep, so we just brought them all in and put them straight to bed.  We unloaded the bare minimun, some of us took showers, and then we fell asleep into bed.  It is so lovely to be in one's own bed, especially after camping!  Baths, showers, and laundry were the first things on the agenda after breakfast, though.  I'm still tired. I think it will take a few days to recover from all the fun, but we are all looking forward to next year!

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