camping with kids.

I’ve been a little MIA from my little blog here and wanted to get back to give a little recap of what camping with kids was really like for us:

It is not like this:

Nor this:

Don’t get me wrong – there were plenty of adorable, family moments. Like this:

And this:

But between those sweet, touching, ‘I love my family’ moments were moments where I wanted to pull my hair out from the whiny-crying-stop-doing-that-don’t-climb-up-there-don’t-run-by-the-fire-don’t-put-that-in-your-mouth moments.

Here’s a quick re-cap of our two night camping trip at Lake Siskiyou.

Cars packed and loaded and we are ready to go. How is it that the car is so full for only 2 nights?!?!

Friday:

We left Orland around 5:30 p.m; I was quite proud of my packing skills as we had the car almost all loaded when Luke got home so we could leave. We stopped for dinner in Redding and then made it to good ol’ Lake Sis around 8:30 and found our campsite easily. Then things got tricky — do we leave the kids in the car with the ipad while we try to set up the tent together (a tent mind you that we had just bought at Costco and despite Luke’s request to set it up one night last week I denied since I knew we would never be able to get it back in the bag as neatly)? Or do we let them come out and start exploring our new home for the next couple days? We went for the latter with Luke in charge of tent and myself in charge of the two girls and unpacking basically our entire kitchen. Apparently the tent was a little more complicated than we bargained for and it started getting darker and colder (the low both nights was around 39!) and I decided I’d use my make-believe Survivor skills to start a fire so the girls and I could be cozy and cute in front of the fire while the tent was being finished. Scavenging for a few pieces of paper and cardboard and we were soon nestled in front of a lovely smoking non-existent fire. My toes were now getting pretty cold and it was getting darker and later and we had two tired girls. Not long after we heard the magic words that the tent was finished we heard the first (wish I could say last) of Norah’s screams in pain;  we find her face first in the dirt and on second look with the start of a bloody nose. Crap. Where are the paper towels? No paper towels but we now have one less dish towel to use this weekend.  With bloody nose taken care of we go about getting pj’s on and getting our beds all set up. Since by now it was after 9:30 we had no problem going to bed and to be only woken up once by Stella was better than I expected. Luke and I didn’t fair so well on our blow up air mattress that hadn’t been used since the last time we camped (circa 2007 before kids); by morning we were both basically laying on the ground as all of the air had leaked out somehow. Making memories – that’s what I kept telling myself.

Saturday:

We were up early and it was COLD! Fire and coffee were priorities on our morning list and we had some grumpy (still tired I think) girls.  Their walking skills again seemed to disappear and they took more falls on rocks, branches, and even non-existent rocks and branches. I felt like we were constantly consoling a bruised knee or scratched elbow. We headed out after breakfast and went first to a fish hatchery that’s very close to the I-5 exit to Lake Siskiyou. I’m not sure who loved it more Luke or the girls but the giggles and smiles while feeding the fish made the rough morning well worth it. From there we drove into Mt. Shasta City and found a great park where the Sacramento River starts (kinda cool CA fact I think). We explored some great trails along the river and the girls got to play and swing to their hearts content. Back to the campsite for lunch and got the girls down for naps very easily while I found a warm spot to read and enjoy the quiet. Luke made his way down to the Lake for some fishing but soon retired to the car to take a little nap.  We spent the rest of the down by the lake playing in the sand and chasing birds; those were probably my favorite moments – everybody was the most relaxed and happy and having fun all with such a beautiful backdrop of the lake and Mt. Shasta behind us.  Dinner then the girls and I walked back to go to the outdoor movie that they were showing at a little outdoor theater. It  would’ve been so fun but the DVD kept freezing and they ended up turning it off. That’s all Stella seems to remember from our camping weekend if you ask her, “movie not working!” she continued to repeat over and over to Luke when we got back.  We survived night two but this time with Stella joining us in our bed (which never happens at home!) but we decided she was probably cold and needed some more cuddles. We woke up again basically laying on the ground and instead of packing our air mattress up we disposed of it in the nearest garbage can when it was time to head home. Somehow we got breakfast cooked, and everything re packed back in the car (didn’t we just unpack it all?) and headed back down the I-5 into the wind and heat we were greeted with at home.

Exploring the Sacramento River Headlands.

See the goose egg on her head? Poor girl had a rough weekend.

All in all we did have fun, made some great memories, laughed a few times, had more than a few moments of frustration, and the girls came home with a few more bumps and bruises but we survived and learned so much for the next time we try it. I don’t know if that will be this summer or in a few more but I know there will be more attempts at camping with our little family.

Do you take your family camping? What are your best tips?

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