Sunday, May 29, 2016


This weekend was our annual camping trip with other homeschoolers.  We had a really fun time, and although the weather was hotter than it has been other years, it still wasn't too bad.  It rained Friday night, but fortunately we were already all set up, and the pitter-patter of rain was nice to fall asleep to.  I think this year I slept the best I even have on this camping trip, and that was mainly due to me not nursing anyone.
We used the same tent set-up we had last year, but this year we took 2 minivans instead of dealing with the big van and the big black box thing that goes on the hitch.  It was so easy to load and unload, and we had plenty of room for all our stuff!
It was so nice that Nathan could be with us, both for last weekend at WSS, and also for this trip.  One thing he and Luke spent a great deal of time doing this weekend was making fires and cutting wood.  For some reason the forest service had felled a ton of trees in the campground, so there was plenty of wood around to be chopped.  Nathan had thought to borrow a maul from the L's, and that came in handy.  Bob brought his "sawz-all" from Harbor Freight, which also was very useful.  Since the site has electricity, we could plug in the charger and use it all weekend!
A few years ago Nathan had ordered this literal chain saw from amazon--it's a chain with 2 handles, and you store it in a little pouch.  Here Bob is demonstrating it, but usually Nathan and Luke each took a handle and sawed away.  It was really quite impressive, and they demonstrated to several of our fellow curious campers.
Nathan and Luke also got to show off their mad wood splitting skillz, thanks to all their years of staff at WSS.  We had a nice pile of split wood pieces by our fire, constantly being replenished.
Verity had the best time ever (when she wasn't tripping or tired, lol).  She wandered around to the various campsites and ate a ton of candy.  In fact, Nathanael Cr. remarked that Verity was being stuffed full of candy "like a slot machine".  (She did not complain!)

We went on our usual hike to the falls Saturday morning.  Four years ago, when we were coming back, I got distracted by a temper-tantruming Micah, and we went off on the wrong trail.  Well this time on our way to the falls, I was talking to several other ladies, and AGAIN we went off on the same wrong trail!  Although I actually have a pretty good sense of direction when driving, don't trust me when hiking.  The real problem seems to be that I look down at my feet and don't pay any attention to signs.  Anyhow we eventually made it to the falls, via the long way, but I had been carrying the backpack for Verity the whole time (without Verity in it, which must have looked odd to the people we met along the way).  Verity was with all the other kids in a group ahead of us, and she had to get passed around the whole time.  She got to ride the way back though, and Nathan and Luke were with me, so I did NOT make the wrong turn.
After all the excitement of the hike, plus having gotten up around 7:00, really wore Verity out.  She eventually took a really long nap in her pack-n-play, which was nice for everyone else.  I got to read more of my book, Bill Bryson's The Road to Little Dribbling, which was funny and light--perfect reading for a relaxing camping trip, although I will say Bryson seemed a lot more curmudgeonly than I usually think of him.  Also more cussing.  

Micah and Drew once again loved the little construction toys,  They are so perfect for camping trips!  Verity enjoyed them too.  She got so dirty sitting on the ground playing that I had to change her shorts before we went on our hike!

Saturday night we had our second annual taco potluck dinner with 4 other families that we know a little better.  I made the taco meat using Amy's nacho meat recipe.  I used 6 pounds of hamburger, and a ton of cans of beans and diced tomatoes.  Everyone else brought all the toppings you can imagine, plus chips and tortillas.  It was all so delicious, and every bit of meat was eaten! 
Sunday morning we had our church service and then lunch.  After lunch the middle 6 kids went crawfish fishing in a creek with some of the other dads.  Bob walked Verity around the loop in her stroller so she would fall asleep because she was super crabby, and we had already taken down the tents.  Nathan, Luke, and I read and napped in our chairs, and Drew found this caterpillar.  He named it "Darby" for whatever random reason, and he played with that poor thing almost the entire time the other kids were gone.  I could hear him talking to it, and making up stories.  It was so cute!  Eventually we got worried that he would accidentally kill poor Darby, and how traumatic would that be for both of them, so we convinced him to leave Darby on a tree.  He continued to watch and talk to Darby until Darby made the great escape, and Drew couldn't see him anymore.  This was upsetting to Drew, but I think the rest of us were all cheering silently, "Run, Darby!  Flee!"

Each year there is a big "pie iron" dessert contest for our loop Sunday night at 7:00.  We stayed for it the past 2 years, but it just doesn't work all that well for us.  It's crowded, the kids are all starting to break down, and we get home really late while everyone still needs a bath, plus there's a ton of stuff to unload.  So this year we had our own pie iron dessert extravaganza Sunday afternoon after we got all the tents put away and everything else cleaned up.  I brought a ton of possible ingredients--raw sugar cookie dough and chocolate chip cookie dough, pie crusts (all those things were premade, which made it easy for me, lol), caramels balls, mint chocolate chips, oreos, marshmallow fluff, leftover Hershey's bars from s'mores, whipped cream, chocolate syrup, nutella, bananas . . . We had some pretty delicious entrees, and we all got to enjoy pieces of them!  That is really the nice thing about a big family--when other things don't really work, you can just do your own thing, and there are still enough people to make it fun!
Here Luke is posing with one of his creations, a pie crust filled with nutella and marshmallows, with whipped cream and chocolate sauce on top.
Faith and Bob used chocolate chip cookie dough for the outside, and they put a Hershey bar in the middle.  There were many other combinations, all of them delicious.  It was a fun way to spend the afternoon!  And it was a lot nicer to get home a little earlier.  It made unloading and giving baths a lot less stressful.

So this year's weekend was a ton better than last year's.  After we got home from the camping trip last year, we really didn't think we were going to come back.  We debated a long time about whether we should pay our deposit for this year, but we finally decided to go ahead and pay it, since we knew we would be able to find someone to take our place.  I went into the trip last year already feeling so depressed and defeated--it was at the end of the long and emotionally draining college admissions process for Nathan, with all Verity's nursing and weight gain difficulties on top of that.  We were also smack-dab in the middle of what turned out to be 3 months of unemployment for Bob.  We had just gotten through testing, and most people in the family being sick, and I so just wanted a weekend to get back on my feet.  Instead, we got blamed for getting everyone else in the loop sick, even people we never had any dealings with, and it was literally the final straw for me.  I was so emotionally done.  That was the lowest I've been in a long, long, time, and that was when we started thinking that it was time to move back to Ohio in the next few years.  It took me months to recover from last year, and I was not at all sure how this year would go.  Fortunately it was not at all like last year, and I really enjoyed visiting with everyone and just resting.  It's funny what the Lord uses to move in our hearts and prepare us for the future.

But for now, it's just time to go switch laundry around.  I"m looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tonight!

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