Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Camping...a review of our trip

We had a lot of fun but it was so cold! We never were able to have a campfire but because the pool was inside we were able to go swimming. This was really nice since that was a big thing for the kids. Katerina and Natalia even put their swimsuits on earlier in the week to make sure they were ready for camping.

While we were there we were able to play at the playground for as long as we wanted. Russell was there but he went with my dad to go back home for a hockey game. (He's a goalie.) Russell and Grandpa returned by dinnertime and the little kids enjoyed the swing set. 

Thursday, May 09, 2013 do you pack for everyone?

As I've let you in on how we do camping thus far I hope you have been enjoying this series. I've enjoyed writing it! Someday I hope that this blog can be used as a tool for my children to see the journey's we went on as a family and that I personally traversed. to begin with a large crowd. For years I would flounder but a few years ago I struck upon the idea of keeping my list from the previous trip and add to it those things I wished I would have packed. That morphed into a word document that I update every trip. Today as we begin to pack the younger kids know that Mom will pull the list off the computer and once printed it is the way we make sure everything important gets packed. The list includes things like clothes (that get put into marked baggies for each person for a day's outfit), chairs for the campfire, food, clean out the cooler and what to fill it with, medicine in case someone gets sick, things for the dog if he comes with us, etc.

The other thing I've learned over the years is that even though the list helps us so much, it is not a hill to die upon. If we forget something it is not the end of the world. Relationships are more important than something as simple as buying another toothbrush because even though I told a child to put their toothbrush in a bag they didn't. Grace is so important in parenting. Maybe someday we will get somewhere without forgetting anything but the important thing is to have fun.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Camping...what do you eat?

Ok so you know what we sleep in and where we like to go but now we move on to what to eat. For starters I should say that when we go camping I do let my kids have some junk food. A lot of times I will grab some pop-tarts and soda pop. The kids think it's cool and they only get pop-tarts a few times a year.

Breakfasts are normally done all out. Big, and I mean big! Bacon, eggs, sausage, french toast or pineapple (or sometimes blueberry) pancakes, orange juice, and sometimes a fruit bowl. The bad thing is that we normally eat breakfast much later in the morning then my kids are used to so that is part of the reason for the pop-tarts.

Lunch is more simple. Sandwiches, chips, fruit, and sometimes if Grandpa is involved, cookies. A lot of times we skip lunch or do a very small lunch because everyone is still full from breakfast.

Dinner is the most fun, in my opinion. It is where we have a greater variety of recipes. We've done things cooked on the campfire, such as hot dogs or a type of aluminum foil meal (meat and potatoes wrapped in foil and stuck in the fire.) We've also done foods cooked on the grill. My dad brings a small grill and we use that a lot! One of my favorite meals is pork tenderloin from Aldi. They come in a few different pre-seasoned packets and once grilled are melt in your mouth good! Pair those with some grilled assorted veggies and you have some really good eating. However if you are going to be busy all day than using the crockpot is also a wonderful thing. There is nothing better than to come back to the camper tired and hungry from a long day out hiking or boating and find that dinner is cooked and ready.

And who could forget dessert? Smores are of course a staple in our meal plan for camping. Last year when we went to Colorado there were fire bans and we couldn't do campfires so we did smores over the grill. And we also do something called camper pies. You put two pieces of bread in the pie iron and then you put your filling in. We have done pizza pies and we've done fruit pies with apple pie or cherry pie filling. Then you stick the iron in the fire for a few seconds. The key is not burning your pie. These are such a treat that the kids usually beg for us to start them early instead of waiting after dinner.

This is just to give you some ideas of how we do our meals, but really you can do a swagbucks search and find so many different ideas. The idea is just to have fun and enjoy your time out in God's world!

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Camping...where do you camp?

Ok so you've made the decision to go camping but now you need to know WHERE to go. We like going to state parks mostly. Living in Ohio we are able to go to many beautiful state parks with plenty of hiking, fishing, swimming, and sometimes more activities.

Two state parks I want to mention today are:

Hocking Hills State Park was so gorgeous and the trails alone are worth a trip there. The last time we went I was about 5 months pregnant with Natalia. I carried Katerina in the maya wrap and let the bigger kids enjoy the walk. It was definitely a workout but the fun we had was so worth it!

Maumee Bay State Park is a place that we have started going once a year because it was a big deal to my sister's boyfriend's family. They love boating and state parks along Lake Erie are the perfect combination for both! All of us enjoy this park because we get to go on the boat and enjoy tubing behind the boat plus all the other activities we normally enjoy such as fishing, hiking, and of course a campfire!

We have also camped at KOA's across the continental USA. Last summer we did a big vacation to Colorado and most of the campgrounds we stayed at were KOA's. The campground in Ouray, Colorado was only a few miles from downtown Ouray and was well located to the places we visited around the area. (It was also way too close to the Million Dollar Highway that we took a few times but that is another blogpost for another day. The kids loved it but apparently at some point in my life I became scared of heights. Beautiful views though!)

What are the costs? That's the beauty of state parks! Typically you are looking at paying about $30 to $35 a night. And since you can bring your own food and cook it there it is a cheap way to get out and make some family memories! But now you ask what can you cook while camping? Stay tuned for tomorrow and I will tell you what we like to cook when we are camping.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

Monday- Cream Cheese Chicken from Make It Fast, Cook It Slow Cookbook, with salad

Tuesday- Rotisserie Chicken from Make It Fast, Cook It Slow. With homemade gravy, bread, mashed potatoes, and salad

Wednesday- Tacos

Thursday- Spaghetti with homemade sauce, homemade bread, and salad

Friday- Camping for the weekend!! We will be eating out with my dad and stepmom on the way to the campsite.

Saturday- Burgers and hotdogs on the grill, grilled veggies, cheesy potatoes, and various fixings with smores and camper pies for dessert.

Camping...where do you all sleep?

I'm thrilled to be able to talk with you this week about how much our family loves camping! Today I will start with where do we all sleep. The simple answer is in our pop up camper. Don't know what that is? It's a small camper that folds into itself and can be pulled behind a mini-van. Our 8 seater chevy astro (not quite) mini-van does a great job pulling our little camper. This weekend we got the camper out and cleaned it up from it's winter slumber so the following are some pictures from our humble camper.

As you can see it's a little worn in some places but for us it's so much nicer then a tent. (one of the pictures shows the before clean up spots) Years ago when we first started camping with our family we tent camped. Eventually we had a mid-range size tent for Steve, myself, and really little kids, and then we had gotten the older kids their own little pup tents. We looked like a tent village and we had made a few happy with how many tents we used.

And then there was the difficulty of sleeping on the ground. I was...well...kinda grumpy towards the end of a weekend from lack of good quality sleep. The kids couldn't have cared less about sleeping on the ground but I guess you could say I wasn't...a cheerful camper. My dad solved this by buying me a blow up air mattress one year. Boy did that help a lot! But it still wasn't as easy to load all the stuff in the van with the kids. We were happy to be able to go camping but were looking for a solution to make it a little easier.

The year my dad suggested he give us our anniversary gift, christmas gift, and birthday gifts all in the form of money towards our goal of buying a pop up camper was an awesome answer to how could we afford it. We took the money we had saved and the gift money and we started looking. It took a few trips to find the perfect camper but we eventually found it.

This camper has two bunks that pull out. One is about the size of a king size mattress and the other about the size of a full. It has a table with a bench on either side that folds down to about the size of a twin mattress and another table with benches on three sides that also folds down to about the same size. This makes it possible to tightly fit all eight of us in the pop up for sleeping.

But the truth is we don't often have all eight of us sleeping in it at once. Many times a child or two will go and beg plead sweetly ask if they can sleep in Grandma and Grandpa's RV. And of course they say yes! And sometimes we will have one of the older boys bring a tent to sleep in so they can still enjoy tent camping.

As you can tell we really enjoy camping!

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Camping....the excitement!

I wanted to do a short post to show you how excited the kids get about camping. Last week for a journaling activity Katerina wrote about how much she loves camping. She has given me permission to put it up here for you all to see it. I should mention that she came down first thing in the morning with this little writing done all on her own first thing one morning.

Monday, April 29, 2013

I go camping every spring with my family. Our biggest camping adventure is going to Colorado where gold is made from and our next adventure is going to (name edited out) in eleven days. I hope they have a swimming pool. I love to go swimming in the pool. Do you like that too? And I wonder if they have some teeter-totters at the campsite. Oh that would be fun too. 
  By: Katerina 

Friday, May 03, 2013

Camping...and we are hitting the road today!

Well after this week of prep work we are ready to hit the road! I pray you all have a wonderful Mother's Day weekend!

Large Family Camping

Well maybe I should title this semi-large family since there are families much bigger than ours and we won't have all the kids for this weekends camping trip. As many of you know, our older kids are not biologically both my husbands and mine together. So this being Mother's Day weekend we don't have James or Savanna since they will be spending time with their mothers.

But everyone from Russell on down will be going camping! We love to camp! It's something the kids look forward to all winter long and then all summer they count down to the next trip. Right now Katerina has counted down on the calendar the days so that we can instantly look and see how long we have until it's time to leave.

Sometimes it can look like a lot of work to go camping. In the beginning of our marriage my husband thought it was kinda silly to pack up all your stuff to go set it all back up somewhere else just so you could have "fun".  My how times have changed. He really enjoys going camping now. It's a fun way to go and unwind in a new environment with the family. I guess you could say camping is in my blood, and now it's continued into my children's as well. When I was growing up my parents would take us camping every memorial day and labor day weekend and at least a week long vacation in the summer. Sometimes we would go on more trips but at the least we were able to go three times a year. We didn't really "do" amusement parks...instead we did national parks. The history, fun, and family memories myself and my siblings learned in such a natural way will stick with me forever and that's what I want to give to my kids.

So next week I will give you a peek into what camping looks like in our family. What do we sleep in? How do we pack for everyone? What do we cook? Stay tuned for how this mom takes her kids on the camping adventures.