Family

How We Camp With Kids!

We love camping! So, we are definitely NOT back-country campers. But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a little “glamping” now and then! And hey, we’re in a tent so that’s gotta count for something, right? I get people asking all the time how we camp – first with twins and now with our 3rd little guy. Honestly, the first year we decided to try camping with our then 1-year-old twins I was pretty skeptical. We agreed to one night (our friends were staying for two) and we’d see how it went. Well, we loved it so much we ended up staying for the second night! That first year we borrowed a tent and advice from our friend Adel who also has twins (and has a fun blog here) and refine our process as the years went by. I thought I’d share our recent May Long Weekend camping experience with you here! Incidentally – we were camping at the site beside Adel with their twins too, which made for a very fun time!! 🙂

So first thing I usually do when we get to camp is set up our kitchen. There are some pretty amazing travel camping kitchens available but we just use this smaller costco folding table (complete with stain marks from when Jason stained the wood for our headboard…) and a drawer tower. That tower of drawers is usually stocked in our garage with the basics (camping cutlery, plastic dishes, odds and ends we might need) and I add in a few things from home that we use regularly (this time I added in the baby spoons, some sharper knives, etc) We have two dish bins – one for soapy water and one for rinsing water, and a dish rack to dry the dishes after. All the kitchen basics are here!

While we’re camping we usually bring some extra supplies for art, some toys to play with, and some books. Typically we bring a lot more than necessary but it’s nice to have some back up activities in case it rains and we’re stuck in the tent for a bit. Some of our favourites are lego, hot wheels (because you can make some pretty fun off road adventures out in the woods!), and even just bringing a glue stick and some paper for some nature collages is a great idea!

This year we camped beside the playground – which in THEORY is a great idea. Mom and Dad can hang out by the fire while the kids go play. But honestly, unless you’re there in the off season or during the week where other kids are at school, don’t do it. My kids would rather play in “the wild” as they call it, and there always seemed to be a handful of kids that play … kind of loudly… past dark. And when you have little ones trying to go to sleep, it’s a bit tricky.

That said!! I don’t have a photo of it – but I always bring our Conair sound machine. We got this thing from London Drugs when the twins were babies and I swear we’ve rarely turned it off since. It takes batteries and runs all night and for camping it just drowns out the “loud” quiet that happens and lulls the kids to sleep. Honestly, I love it too because I don’t wake up at every little sound in the night with it on!
  We always bring our bikes (and we usually bring one grown up bike – called our “camp bike” to follow the kids around or even to quickly run to the washroom block instead of walking)
We also bring our nature collectors! Jason loves finding salamanders for the kids to look at. Livvie was so proud of her pink one. She was so gentle when she returned it to its home too.

Here is our “castle” – a cabin tent we got on a crazy great sale at Costco in the US. Apparently it’s a 10-man but it suits us 5 just fine! The door has a pole in it that makes it swing open, and Jason, at 6’7″ can actually stand up tall in it. I am NOT a fan of the regular tent stoop and trying to get dressed, and the basic squishy-ness of a regular tent. It was fine when it was just the 2 of us, but as a family – nope! And since a tent trailer is not feasible at this time, we are quite happy with this little home away from home!

So on the left side of the tent is where we put the kids. All sides of that area actually zip down which is fantastic when we were camping in super hot locations and still needed the littles to nap. Back when we started we’d have the two playpens where their little beds are now and still enough room in the middle for them to play if we needed! Foam mats are a necessity and they make it so much easier to walk and hang out in there. The “shelves” that hold their clothes are just the fabric bins from ikea that fold flat when not in use, and it eliminates the messy bag and shows the kids what they still have left to wear! We bring a large wet bag that I’d gotten for cloth diapering to hold all the laundry as it’s dirtied. When we get home we just dump all of it into the wash!
This year we added the playpen and it really didn’t take up too much extra space. I even brought in a camping chair for the nighttime feeds that I knew Silas would need. The change table on the playpen was also incredibly handy to have!
We use our old rug for the other half of the tent too. Like the foam, it just helps save our feet and the tent floor!

How cute is he in his little sweater romper??? It was pretty cold May Long – and honestly, even in the summer it can get cold in a tent overnight, so I always say pack more warm things than you think you might need. Extra blankets and clothes for sure!

This is the view from the kids side to our side. Two twin air mattresses side by side is the equivalent of a king sized bed, AND has the added bonus of each of us having our own air mattress. Because no one likes being jolted awake in the night by someone getting up to use the bathroom! And having a ton of room in bed is always a great idea because you know those little ones are going to climb in with you in the morning! We use a king sized fitted sheet to hold the mattresses together and then just pile blankets on top!

Those ikea high chairs are GREAT for camping. The legs come off and the whole thing wipes off so easily. Also, check out my mother’s day present from costco this year – only the COMFIEST camp chair EVER. That thing is the best.

We are such glampers that we brought the hammock we got for Christmas. (Black Friday sale on Amazon!) … and why not?

Jason was such a good sport taking the kids out in shifts on the lake! Quite the upper body workout!

Good coffee is a necessity. I mean, you’re getting up with the sun and going all day. We brought our pourover coffee maker but we’ve also brought the starbucks via packets and our french press in the past. What’s important is that it’s there. LOL 🙂

Treat cereal! They get special cereal for camping and for Christmas time! It’s a highlight for sure!

I just had to add this because it was hilarious. Someone at the campsite started this old-school trend. They stuck an old plastic bottle into their rear tire which made their bike sound like a little motorbike. So of COURSE every child at that campsite ALSO needed one. There was a shortage of water bottles this weekend I think. And every time a kid went by on their bike it was loud and sounded like a hive of bees. But it was such old-school classic awesomeness that we couldn’t even be annoyed! Plus, you pretty much could always hear where the kids were!

Daddy/son bonding time – setting squirrel/chipmunk traps. Unsuccessful I might add.

Geocaching!! If you don’t do this, you are considered a “muggle” (non-geocacher) and I mustn’t speak of it. But it’s like treasure hunting, and it’s a lot of fun for the kids. Look it up! Many (dare I say, most) campsites have geocaches hidden. Go check out http://www.geocaching.com and sign up 🙂

So there you go – this is how we camp. Yes, it’s a bit of work, but it’s worth it for the tired kids, exhausted from playing outdoors from dawn until dusk! We’re still refining what we need vs. what we can live without, and honestly it changes year to year. But so far this works for us! I hope you can take something from this and if nothing else just try it out, even for one night! You might be surprised at how possible it really is!

Create! An Art Party!

So I’ve wanted my kids to have an art party for YEAARRRS now. But we do leave it up to them and roll with whatever they want to roll with – whether that’s princesses and pirates, paw patrol, or camping like last year! This year was originally going to be a Star Wars party (which may be next year!) but they both decided that an art party sounded fun. Cue this mom doing a happy dance!
I’m notoriously bad at over-pinteresting my party – meaning I have WAY too many ideas than are actually feasible. And with 3 kids it’s just kinda crazy to take it on in the first place. But I did this and it was fairly easy to be honest! And the activities kept all the kids busy for the entire duration of the party! (I went with 2 hours… this was at my home and the idea of having to entertain about 18 6-ish year olds was actually mildly terrifying!)
I’ll let the photos (a lot of them… eek!) speak for themselves, but we had an absolute blast!!


I went with more of a watercolour inspiration for the decor etc than the art parties I had seen on Pinterest. The number 6 and the watercolour bunting flags were directly inspired by this party I found and it worked beautifully!
I used these sprinkles as the colour inspo for our marbled cupcakes too!

Activity #1: Fidget Spinners! 
Yes, we did this. I found a DIY tutorial and got all the supplies required and let me tell you – these were a COMPLETE HIT. The kids loved making these and then playing with them after. Huge thank you to a Mama who stayed at the party and helped hot glue these together for the kiddos as they finished!

Activity #2 – Canvas Painting
I printed off some inspiration and hung those photos on the fence behind. It was really fun to watch the kids create their images together – all so different but they seemed to really enjoy it! I took white paper plates and cut a thumb hole and cut out to make fancy paint pallets for them too!


Props to the parents who came and helped supervise (and entertain!) the kids! Couldn’t have grabbed these photos without your help!

Eli’s creation – Any guesses? I love this!!
Activity #3 – Squirt Gun Painting! 
I decided on this activity after looking at the number of boys coming to this party. I had a moment of “what if they don’t like art?!?!?!” panic so I chose this activity because – um, hello – it’s just fun. Everyone just shared the canvases and took turns at target practice. We used watered down Crayola Neon paint and it turned out awesome! I think this was one of my favourites to watch.

Activity #4 – Fancy colouring sheets
I just got a more “grown up” colouring book from the dollar store and tore the pages out. Super simple.

Activity #5 – Cupcake decorating! 
I used Dainty Sprinkle Co. sprinkles on these paint pallets which worked PERFECTLY, the kids could continue their creativity to their cupcakes.

It was a bit of a disaster afterwards, but I’d say it was worth it!

So, there we go. Another year, another party. I cannot believe my little twins are so grown up now. How did 6 years go by so quickly?? I am so very proud of my tinies and I am so excited to see the adventures 6 brings!

Details:

Photography: Amanda Gregor Photography

“Create” balloons, paper plates: Heather & Gem

Sprinkles: Dainty Sprinkle Co.

Artwork on food table: Elena Markelova

Pretty much everything else came from the dollar store and Michaels!

Mother’s Day Gift Guide – From the kids, by the kids.

Ok so our school made the news last week for a decision that sparked a crazy debate within our community. The grade 1 and 2 teachers sent home a notice that said to celebrate diversity and inclusivity, and to nurture those in non-traditional families, they would not be making gifts for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. I spoke with our own teacher and he said he likely wasn’t going to do a gift as well. Honestly, I’m not going to delve too deep into my own personal opinion on this, because I’m not kidding when I say it was heated – but I will say that although I do see both sides of the coin, I was disappointed. Backstory: Jason and I dealt with some infertility issues prior to having our twins. It was just two years, and I know many people who have dealt with it longer, but in the middle of the wait you just don’t know how long it is going to be. The stupidest little things can trigger a bad moment, and for me I remember thinking of this little ceramic gift my sister made for my mom for Mother’s Day one year. It hung on our wall for … basically forever. I remember crying about this silly piece of art, thinking “I’m never going to get something like this made for me.” Silly, right? Anyways… fast forward and my cries were answered, and we were blessed with the twins. It’s bittersweet, when your babies are big enough to go to school for the first time. But the “firsts” of the school year were exciting moments I clung to. I am totally THAT mom who had tears in my eyes when they performed during their first Christmas Concert, I went with them on their first field trip, and I looked forward to that silly little piece of art that represents a little more than just a Mother’s Day gift. But that’s not coming from the school this year.
So…
All that to say, yes, I’m disappointed.
But, I’m not going to sit back and say “oh well.”
No no no.
I’m going to hit up Pinterest and round up some fantastic Mother’s Day craft ideas. Because that’s how I do. And then I’m going to take this blog post and email it to my husband. And if he doesn’t feel like doing any of them, well, I’ll plan it myself. I promise, I’ll put on a SUPER surprised face.

I found some amazing crafts! When I was working in daycare I loved finding crafts for mamas that weren’t your typical macaroni necklaces but rather gifts that moms would want to keep out for a while. These ones that I found are TOTALLY crafts I would love to have around my house, and how sweet if they came from those little hands you hold each day.

Ohhh seriously, how cute are these polaroid coasters?! Being a photographer means I’m a sucker for anything photo-related!


Source: Darkroom and Dearly

These vases from Dream {a Little} Bigger are so sweet! And even little kids could help with this. And of course don’t forget to fill it with some gorgeous blooms!

Source: Dream {a Little} Bigger

I am a HUGE fan of polymer clay, and these clay dishes are so gorgeous. I know my kids would love mixing the colours!

Source: A Beautiful Mess

I’m actually really bad at growing things but I had to pin this one, because my own Mom is the resident gardener around here, and I’d love to actually get better at it! But I am always a fan of nice looking fake plants. LOL!

Source: I Heart Naptime

I fell in LOVE with this one when I saw it, and even the most energetic and spirited children could help with this. What little one wouldn’t want to smash things with a hammer?

Source: Cutesy Crafts

This is gorgeous artwork to put up and enjoy AND is inspired by a fabulous book. Anything that ties reading and art together is fine by me.

Source: Mama. Papa. Bubba. 

I am such a fan of this type of canvas art, I love the idea of having the kids paint this. Picking a favourite song, or verse, or something you say to each other a lot would be such a great sentimental gift.

Source: British Columbia Mom

How fun are these tassel keychains??

Source: Brit+Co

Oh my goodness, do you remember sand art?? In those glass bottles? This one combines fun sand art with totally on-trend terrariums. So pretty!

Source: Design Improvised

Coffee. Sugar. Hand scrub. This is pretty much genius.

Source: Mama. Papa. Bubba. 

These fizzy bath bombs are adorable, and would be a fun science experiment as well!

Source: Savvy Saving Couple

I’m such a fan of hand scrubs I had to include this one too. It’s pretty and uses a certain type of soap I wouldn’t have thought to use – but she swears by it! So I’m going to pick some up I think!

Source: Touch of Tay 

I feel like my kids would absolutely LOVE this one (Jason are you reading this??) They are always making little books and their drawings are becoming so detailed. I would love to see what they come up with for this little book!!

Source: Hello, Wonderful

I feel like I should host a big party with all the sweet coasters I want to have now, but aren’t these just so much fun?!

Source: Paging Fun Moms

These bath bombs are an alternative to the other recipe that calls for citric acid – and aren’t they beautiful using the natural elements?


Source: Jessica Begum at eHow

I’m always receiving little trinkets and drawings, little notes and photos from my littles and this memory box is a fantastic idea for where to keep it all!

Source: Mama. Papa. Bubba

Another way to make a beautiful jewelry dish! Love the gold and white on this!!

Source: Lovely Indeed

I’m a mug-a-holic, I keep acquiring mugs and just purged some but there are some that I just can’t let go of, and if I had one like this I would never let it go. I love when my littles draw their family through their eyes!

Source: Mama. Papa. Bubba at CBC.ca

So there you have it, some amazing ideas that are easy enough for littles to make but also leave Mama smiling all year long. Which one would you pick if you could only pick one??

Our Easter Feast!

Each year we get to host Easter dinner at our house. Jason’s been building me a table, and while it’s not quite finished, it was at least usable for our feast, and it was SO awesome to have both tables beside each other. What a blessing to have family all around our table and not feel crowded in our space!

It was a lovely time with family, but unfortunately between taking care of the kiddos and preparing the food I only got a few photos of the decor before I was off feeding a baby or taking care of some sort of disaster. #momlife – am I right?

I was in LOVE with the decor, and it was so simple! The day before my big kids helped me dye the eggs used in the long wooden troughs (a Michael’s 50% off find!)
To dye the eggs this year we just used natural ingredients, a lot of the same things I use for my dyed items in the busy bags! I love love loved how the beet juice made the eggs speckled. They just popped when placed in the moss!!

I bought a little pot of ‘Cape Blanco” because the little succulent ends with the blueish green rosettes were just going to be perfect to nestle in among our other decor. It didn’t cost a lot for the one container and it went a long way!


We used red cabbage, coffee, tumeric, and beets to dye our eggs! Don’t they just look fantastic on my new table?! I can’t wait until it’s all complete. And Easter is always a great holiday to pull out the fancy china. We picked this Dogwood pattern for our wedding – Dogwood’s being BC’s flower and since hubby and I both love the forest and all things West Coast, it just fit us.

Now on to a couple of the details! This punch!!! Gah! It was so tasty! I really wanted to make a floral punch but could not for the life of me find edible flowers in bloom anywhere. So, I opted for a strawberry lemonade. The night before I sliced up lemons and put them in a bundt pan with water and froze it. Put that into our punch bowl the next day for a nice block of ice that melts more slowly than just ice cubes! And releases lemons as it melts too! A little bit of 7-up and some fresh mint leaves to make it look fresh! I loved this. Honestly, it had me craving warm summer days on my patio. Can’t wait!!


Typically speaking we make a ham and a turkey for our Easter dinner. This year, I decided to give fish a try. After all, when Jesus rose again from the grave He ate fish!

Luke 24:41-43 (NIV)

41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish,43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.

I was a little nervous having never made this much fish for this many people, or really ever having tried this recipe before, but I was very happy with how it turned out! I loosely followed this recipe I found on Pinterest, but had to tweak a little bit.

My process:
Lightly oil baking sheet with olive oil
Place frozen sole filets on sheet. This was like a puzzle.
Sprinkle a little bit of seasoning salt on the fish
Pour prepared sauce over the fish to cover – approx a cup of melted butter, tablespoonful of diced garlic, juice of a lemon
Cut green onions in half or thin strips and lay them on top of the fish
Lay lemon slices on top of the fish.
Put in 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes.
When I checked on them I noticed they were cooked but there was a LOT of juice, probably from being frozen fish. I pulled the baking sheet from the oven and used a baster to suck up most of the excess fluid.
Put the broiler on high and placed back in the oven until the fish, lemons, and onions were just starting to brown, maybe 4 minutes or so. Keep an eye on it!
GENEROUSLY scatter chopped fresh dill ALL OVER DA PLACE. This is the good stuff. Don’t be shy.
Eat and eat and eat! Enjoy!

Oven roasted carrots with maple syrup, and pan fried asparagus. Bringing healthy colours to the meal!

 


These little pinterest-inspired beauties were so much fun to make! While we were dying our hard boiled eggs, we also dyed these previously cracked eggshells that I’d been saving! Put a little bit of soil and moss into these and cut up the carton for small tabletop planters! I used more of that Cape Blanca here, some stems of little white flowers (called “Little Gem”), more moss, and some hens and chicks from our garden out front! I think they turned out just darling!!

So much cute…

 


And we ACTUALLY managed to snap a photo of the 5 of us together! Something we didn’t manage to do over Christmas, so I’m calling that a win!

Spring Break – Week 1 recap!

Phew, ok Mamas, we are halfway there!

I definitely feel more mentally prepared for this than I expected. That week off due to snow that we had in February was BRUTAL, I think because we couldn’t go anywhere! So the trick this time was to plan something for each day. And really, they weren’t elaborate plans at all! In fact, according to my children, their highlight was on our quick trip across the border to pick up a package. And that was purely because I fed them ice cream for lunch. #momoftheyear. But hey, whatever gets us out the door!

The first week was dreary and rainy, so we filled it with playdates, van errands, and a trip to the movies. Our local theatre was showing Ballerina as a stars and strollers showing (aka babies welcome!) so we went to that together. It wasn’t Eli’s first choice but we won him over with popcorn and treats. He ended up liking it enough though, there was enough slapstick style comedy in the movie to entertain him as well. As far as a review goes – it was a cute movie. One I probably would’ve been happy to watch on Netflix but since the objective was to get out of the house – it was fine! We talked after the movie about how we need to work hard to achieve our dreams but that it’s possible, and that being kind is also really important – both subjects that were portrayed in the film. Of course Livvie loved the dancing aspect of the movie, she told me afterwards that she definitely wants to go back into ballet next year.

A note about movies and Spring Break – certain Cineplex theatres are showing some older kids movies THIS WEEK for only 2.99!! We were going to drive to Langley to watch Trolls until I realized I had misread the info and it was the wrong week. But – putting it out there for anyone else looking for things to do! They were playing Trolls, Secret Life of Pets, Storks, and Fantastic Beasts and where to Find Them. Check this list for participating theatres and be sure to actually read the week it’s running. haha!


Baby’s first movie!

On Friday we decided to hit up our local Home Depot – they are running kid’s workshops daily from 10am – noon at participating stores! We had to phone ahead to make sure there was room for us so I recommend doing that if you want to check it out! They loved this! The project was a little tricky, and being there on my own with them plus Silas I was a bit worried it was going to be too much of a handful but it proved to be ok. I let go of my perfectionism and let them just go to town, providing a little guidance and a helping hand to start part of each section. They had a blast using real tools to build their very own birdhouses. We chose to paint them at home (helloooo another project to keep them busy!) and they were so so proud of their work. They get to keep the aprons, and they get a pin that says “I did it!” Home Depot runs these workshops regularly so I know we will be back!

So, I was worried about him but he FELL ASLEEP. To the sound of approximately 20 hammers. 



So proud!

And while we didn’t do much to specifically celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, we did wear green and this little leprechaun played peekaboo with his hat!

This week – more playdates with friends, hitting up HighStreet for some of their activities planned, Daddy’s birthday tomorrow, off to Aldergrove Lake Park on Thursday for a spring break event they have planned, and Dadventure Day on Friday because Jason’s off work!