Tag Archives: camping

Shall we?

Let’s go camping!

WITH the kids!


Let’s do it.

This is the perfect weekend to try it out. Now, I realize camping is a bit of an acquired taste. I do. And, honestly, there is always a moment (or 5) on our trips when I think maybe I should just wander into the woods and leave the madness behind. BUT. The other 95% of the time? Camping is a good time. You just need to be prepared. Living simply doesn’t necessarily mean you can just walk out the door without a plan. Or a list. Or, in our case, spreadsheets. What DOES camping mean?

Break from the usual schedule

24-hour double-parenting

new parks and adventures

mandatory beach time

mandatory campfire time

poor cell phone service

freedom from regular chores

I’d gladly trade the extra work it takes to make meals happen outdoors for that list above. In a heartbeat. Even with my children involved… and they’ve all been ten-camping since they were 5-months old… EVEN WITH THE KIDS, it’s a good time.

We leave tomorrow for a quick trip down the Michigan coastline to Hoffmaster State Park. I’ve actually never camped here overnight before, but it’s close and it’s a long weekend and it’s time to break out the gear.

Absolutes for me:

  1. baby powder – baby powder gets sand OFF and OUT of everything/one. It soaks up the moisture and allows the san the just brush right off. There must be a large bottle of baby powder in the vehicle at all times.
  2. pickle wraps – I’ve talked about pickle wraps before, I know… but these are a Mulder Staple when camping. If you’re eating a pickle wrap, you must be camping. It takes the burden off of meal-planning lunches everyday. Lunch = pickle wraps. And what’s a pickle wrap? A tortilla with cream cheese, a couple slices of lunch meat (roast beef or turkey or ham), and a pickle slice. BOOM. Portable, delicious, and super fast to make. Add some fruit and a juice box and you have yourself a meal.
  3. cots – our family happily slept on sleeping pads for years until I was pregnant with Abby and just couldn’t get off the ground anymore. Now, the kids sleep in bunk cots (yes) and Curt and I each have our own. The cots have kept our tent sooooo much cleaner now that everything is up off the floor. Our clothes boxes (regular ol’ rubbermaid boxes for each person0 slide under the cots easily to leave lots of space in the center for changing clothes, dance parties, and time-outs.
  4. really decent food – Y’all. We eat on real plates with real silverware. We don’t eat baked beans from a can and hot dogs. Well, the kids do, but only because they choose to. Our meals are fantastic. We eat well because I plan easy meals with real ingredients and I don’t make shortcuts. This means we take trips to the local grocery store for ice updates and eggs or milk as needed… even if that means every day. Tacos and fajitas have sour cream and fresh salsa. Spaghetti includes garlic bread and corn on the cob. IT CAN BE DONE and it doesn’t have to be hard. Promise.
  5. Lighten up. I have to tell myself this 4 times every day.


[we only played this game one time]

But what about the kids, you say. Yes. The kids. Basically, you have 2 options when there are Little involved: keep your home schedule (afternoon naps, meal times) or push the limit (no naps) and stretch it to an early bed time. We’ve done both depending on the child/ren involved. There is no point in pushing it to the limit every day… part of camping is about relaxing and being flexible. Sometimes, that means hanging out in the campground while Abby sleeps and the other kids decorate the parking spot with sidewalk chalk. Seriously changing up the schedule for kids affects the whole family. Try to keep things like eating times and sleeping times as normal as possible.

Sleeping? Right. Bring the pack and play. Yes. Put it right in your tent, and pack a lightweight king-sized comforter to secure over the top. It get dark later and light earlier when you’re sleeping in canvas walls. The cover will let your Little keep to their 8pm bedtime while you sit around the campfire a little longer.

Kids don’t care where you go. The location is totally for the adults. All kids want is dirt and water. If you can find a stream or lake or ocean to play in daily, a hammock to swing in, and ice cream within walking distance… it’s a win for the kids.

This Memorial Day Weekend, we’re headed right down the road and there will be FRIENDS! Friends with KIDS! Other families camping at the same time! We’ve never been able to do this since we’ve had kids other than within the family. So. WE’RE EXCITED. Gideon has been packed for a week. I still have ALL of my stuff left to do… because I do it at the last  minute. Because I need my toothbrush until we leave. Because I like to put my marriage in jeopardy every single chance I get.

What’s stopping you from getting out into the woods?

I bet I can talk you out of it.

Other camping posts:

Do you camp?

Gearing up!

What’s cookin’?



Well, helloooooooo there, Loves! We Mulders are back from the woods… though the oldest 2 kiddos are flying kites with my parents in Pennsylvania right now. They will not even speak to me. It’s ridiculous. And, also, 7 kinds of awesome.

Shall I tell you a story today? From camping amongst nature and strangers and family alike? A story my children (and possibly the stranger in #7) will recite in years of therapy to come?

I shall.

I actually wrote it all down immediately after it happened so I would not forget… how much do you love me?

Remember that feeling.

journal 1

Here. Let me spell it out for you.

A close up of the map (not to scale):

journal 2

and the fine print (try to keep up):

1. Ry and Gus are put to bed

2. Curt and Kate discuss that Gus and Ry are in bed and waiting for hugs

3. Kate walks to the campfire to see if her parents are there… they are not

4. Kate’s dad arrives at campfire… has not hugged Gus and Ry but has just

5. seen Curt at the potty

6. which leaves no one at the tent… for too long… which causes Ry to panic and begin to scream… causing Gus to scream… causing BOTH to scream for MOM!

7. which causes the lady at #7 to yell out,

“Don’t worry, Honey!

We’ll find your mommy!”


8. at which point Kate and her dad arrive at the tent followed by Curt who is calm and content.

9. Abby slept through it all.


I was 25 yards away and in the perfect storm of neglect.


It’s a wonder we’re allowed to leave the county at all.

There’s so very much more to tell you, but I’ve used up all the pride I have and then some.

See you Thursday.


We leave tomorrow morning for our annual trip to Platte River in the Sleeping Bear Dunes.

My parents are picking up Gus and Ry halfway through the trip and whisking them off to the magical world of Pennsylvania. There are exactly two-hundred-forty-seven things I need to do before our van hits the highway. What does one do when there are 5 people and a kitchen to pack up not to mention bills to pay, emails to send, and a wayward chicken to corral and return to the coop before the house-sitter arrives?

One writes.

I found this post again last night and laughed so hard. Laughing alone at something you wrote is awkward but worth it. I hadn’t thought about that particular trip in a long time and reading about it again made me excited to get on the road. Then I laughed even harder when I couldn’t find last year’s letter to my parents and had to search ‘apache in august’ to get to it. I don’t care who you are, that’s funny. I read the letter to see how things have changed over the past year and I laughed some more.  Oh, my children. So cute. So incredibly high-maintenance.

It was a good night.

gus and ry

Mom and Dad,

I’m sure we won’t have much time when you arrive at the campground to debrief/prep for your trip with Rylie and Gideon. The kids will tackle you and Rylie will launch into the story about the birds (ask me later) and we’ll never be able to get a word in again until someone hurts themselves and or requires discipline… neither of which are great times to talk about  specifics of our child-rearing and safety philosophies. Let me just mention a few things that may save a life:

1. Ry naps. Gus can take it or leave it. I’m so, so sorry. My best advice to you both is take turns. Divide and conquer. Never let them see you cry.

2. I’m keeping Abby with me. This act alone should absolve me from any debt or disturbance I ever caused or will cause you in the future. You’re welcome.

3. Ry’s hair is now short and curly and so is Gus Man’s. The 4-year age difference makes it pretty easy to tell them apart, but just in case: Gus wears a hat 24-7 and Ry still has terrible breath. Also, Gus is usually missing or at the top of something very high.

4. Both Gideon and Ry are potty-trained… all day, all night, all the time. Please remind and encourage both of them to wear undies. At all times. At all times they should be wearing undies and at all times you should be reminding them of this.

5. Beware the phrase ‘Me Got It.’ This translates to ‘I got it.’ or ‘I can do that myself.’ and comes out of Gus’ mouth approximately 18 times per minute. When you hear it, drop what you are doing- immediately– and find him. I said immediately. Do not delay or attempt to talk him down. Get up and find him. It is never a test and it never ends well.

6. Both children will ask for ‘2 minutes’ at bedtime. As in, 2 more minutes, please? Except, 2 minutes is a completely fake number to them. Neither can tell time or count well. It’s a sham, a distraction, a way to break you down. Stand firm.

7. Prayers are said or echoed at bedtime. Meal-time grace prayers are generally discouraged at bedtime, but sometimes make their way in there anyway. It’s ok. Work with what you have.

8. Ry still hates jelly. Gus Man still loves peanut butter. Bagels are called ‘O’s’ and are acceptable at any meal.

9. Ry is now missing 1 more bottom tooth and 2 more top teeth. Still best not to bring up the whole tooth fairy sneaking in to your room at night and stealing things from you, though she digs the money-exchange idea. We’re getting there.

10. I will not be mad NOR ask any questions if you tell me you had to throw some of their clothes away. I will only nod knowingly.

I’ll meet you in Ohio in two weeks. I don’t think my phone rings here in the woods, so if you get stuck or need a translation… in the words of my father,

Good luck with that.

Also, thank you. We love you. We trust you. Have a fabulous time.


your favorite first-born,

Mary Kathryn