lifestyle

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!

6 Self Care Tips – Things I would rather be doing – and the importance of “me time”

I’m so tired today. It was a busy weekend followed by the regular busy school days and everything that goes with that. And in the midst of tidying, making lunches, bathing kids, brushing hair, and the list goes on and on and on… it’s really easy to put yourself last. I love my job as a Mama to my littles but it’s a full time job. It’s a fuller-than full-time job. It’s an always on, never ending job. Any other job that would demand this many hours would result in massive levels of burnout. And sometimes that’s exactly how I feel, burnt out. I’d NEVER trade this job, not for anything, but it’s definitely made me realize the importance of taking time just for myself. It’s so important, this self-care thing.

Through the day I find myself filling my short little “breaks” with things like facebook, instagram, emails, or some sort of time waster, like reading comments on news articles. (Just don’t. It’s bad news, always.) But I find myself wishing later that I had more time in the day to ________. Fill in the blank with so many different things! Lately I could fill that in with:
*read a book
*take a nice bath
*do a facial mask
*paint my nails
*shop on my own
*enjoy a sappy movie
*go for coffee with a friend
*go for coffee by myself!
*drink hot coffee anywhere!! LOL
*sleep.

Honestly there are more, I could totally go on. Some of those aren’t super practical with little ones running around, but would be so lovely to be able to stop for just a few moments. But for whatever reason I, like many others, am drawn back to the world of social media and the world wide web, and before I know it my couple minute break is over and I don’t feel any better. Perhaps just poor time management but I would venture a guess that I’m not alone in this.

So here are a few of my self-care tips, and believe me, I’m reading them for MYSELF just as much!!

1. It’s ok to say No.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a yes-er. If someone asks me to help with something, volunteer somewhere, etc. my initial gut reaction is to say “Yes, of course!” … but I know now what happens is my plate gets fuller, and fuller, and fuller until I’m so burnt out. Add motherhood on top of all those yes answers and I’ve basically set myself up for an epic meltdown. (And I don’t mean from the children.) I know I have to step back and look at my calendar and decide if that will leave enough time on the schedule for “nothing” moments.

2. It’s ok to do “nothing”
So that brings me to this point – our culture seems to be obsessed with BUSY. I hear it even from my own lips, and in conversations with others: “Hi! How are you??” “Oh, busy!” “Yeah, me too!” … Why is this celebrated?! I never thought I’d say it but I long for the days of my childhood where the words “I’m bored” were uttered more than “I’m busy”. It’s ok to schedule days where you don’t have any plans. It’s ok to let the children be bored and not take all the responsibility to entertain them for a time! It allows them to be creative and find something to entertain themselves. It’s ok – no, more than ok, I’d say it’s important – to sit in the quiet stillness of nothing, and just listen. I find I pray more when I do this, and as a result get closer to God in those moments. I find myself wondering why I don’t do that more.

NOTHING. (Thought that’s probably more due to my lack of filling this out than reality. ha!)


3. Have something that’s just YOURS.

Be it a hobby you did before having children, a project you love to work on, a time you take each day that’s YOUR time, find something. It’s easy to lose yourself in this job. I started dancing the year my twins were born and it was and is my outlet. I can leave for a short time each week, meet up with some beautiful, wonderful women I’ve gotten to know over the years, and leave my worries and problems at the door. It’s given me a piece of my old self back, and I’m so grateful for that.

(I was very pregnant with Silas in this group photo!)

4. Ask for, and accept help.
Oh, I’m not good at this one. I definitely complain to the hubby when I start to burn out but if I step back and really think about it, I don’t ask for help. Complaining is not the same thing as asking. It takes a certain level of humility to accept the fact that I can’t do it all. I’m NOT super-mom no matter how much I wish I was! When someone offers to come over and help with something, ANYTHING, I know I personally need to swallow my pride and let them help.

5. Go outside. 
Sometimes just the act of stepping outside, seeing God’s creation and just taking it all in is enough to bring me back to a place of thankfulness that I can’t get elsewhere. We haven’t had the very best weather lately but I’ve been trying to walk to pick up the kids more. As I walk to the school I breathe deeply, taking in the smells of spring, the flowers about to bloom. We got a hammock for Christmas and I can’t wait to set that up and find a few moments to sit in it, with a book, with a coffee, or even snuggling with one of my littles.

6. Put the technology away. 
Just for a short time to start if you are really dependent on it, put the timer on, put the phone down or turn the computer off, and check something off your “what I’d do if I had more time” list. If you’re less dependent on it, see what happens when you log off for an entire day. I think I’m going to challenge myself to an entire day at some point, but for now I am going to start small!

I need to become more intentional in taking even just 30 minutes daily to myself to do some of these things. So here’s my challenge to you – do you find yourself wishing you had more time in the day for the things you used to do? Try to schedule 30 minutes to yourself somehow. Use the hashtag #30minutesformama on Instagram (if you aren’t following me – do that! http://www.instagram.com/_featherandfern_ ) and show me how you are spending your 30 minutes for self care!

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!

Meal Plan Monday!

Phew, ok what a morning! I actually got up enough motivation to get that workout gear on, drop the kiddos at school and drive out to Abbotsford for a stroller fitness class I wanted to try out. I don’t know about you but I get some social anxiety when I go to stuff like that where I don’t know anyone! BUT, I thought what a good way to start the week. And I really need to start getting in better shape – with dance competitions coming up I am seriously lacking in my cardio capabilities right now!!
Well, I got all the way there and was standing awkwardly with the other mamas waiting for the class to start when I got a phone call from the twins’ school – they’d had some sort of gas leak and parents needed to come get their kids!
Womp womp.

Ok so no workout for me. I’ll try that again after Spring Break! So I picked up my littles and I’m actually proud to say I did an at-home workout while ALL THREE WERE AWAKE! Say WHAT? It happened people.
I think moving my body on a Monday morning kick starts motivation in other areas as well. I tell myself this every WEEK but most of the time I don’t listen, I just snuggle up on the couch with my coffee. But not today!
So this afternoon as Silas is sleeping I’ve been working on our meal plan. We get pretty much the same thing all the time from Costco, chicken thighs and ground beef – along with our other weekly staples, and we also get a veggie box delivered to our door. I try to plan around that but I’m finding lately I’ve become a bit lazy about it. Not thinking about what to make until 4:30pm, anyone? It’s SO much easier to make a plan.

I’d really like to implement some more vegetarian/vegan meals where I can. I’ve been following Fraiche Nutrition on Instagram and also of course Jillian Harris and between those two and their delicious posts I just want more GOOD food in my life. (With or without meat!) I follow a dinner formula daily – meat/carb/veggie and it’s pretty much the same every time. Also, meat is expensive! If I can eat healthier without choosing meat, bring.it.on! I could never give it up completely though.

So. Here we go. What are your go-to family favourite meals? Drop them in the comments! I’ll share my finished meal plan with links if I have them after I’m all done!

**UPDATE**
Here’s what I came up with for the next couple weeks. I find it easiest to plan specific days for dinners, but leave breakfasts, lunches, and snacks more up to what I feel like in the moment! I also don’t have as many of those because I’m ok with repetition and often have dinner leftovers for lunch!


Butternut squash lasagna, grilled cheese-and-veggies, and the caramelized onions and walnuts recipes will be adapted from The Forest Feast Gatherings cookbook. This book is SO GOOD. And gorgeous to look at. I made several things out of here for our New Year’s Eve party and they were all delish!!
Get the book here:Forest Feast Gatherings: Simple Vegetarian Menus for Hosting Friends & Family

Korean Beef recipe is found here. I omit the red peppers and use a lot less ginger, and usually add some greens to the meat while it cooks. The easiest veggie add-on is by adding a few handfuls of our favourite salad we’ve dubbed “Costco Salad” … It’s just the Sweet Kale bagged salad (which can actually be found in more places than just Costco!) but we’ve also added broccoli. Serve over rice! So easy!

The lemon garlic chicken thighs recipe can be found here and is so delicious.

The salmon burgers, chickpea “toona” sandwich, and roasted veggie sandwich recipes are found on Fraiche Nutrition. I’ve yet to try them so I thought I’d add them to our week!

Spinach pancakes I actually just saw on the Love Child Organics website today, and since Adventure Dad often makes pancakes on the weekends and with St. Patrick’s Day coming up I thought we could attempt this recipe!

And you know, since it’s not all fabulous eating all the time, I put Costco on our plan (we often have hot dogs for dinner on our Costco shop nights!) and chicken nuggets for lunch. It’s spring break next week so I can make better lunches for the kids but let’s be real, you gotta have those regular “kid” staples! I’m sure we’ll be having some mac & cheese in there as well!

Still drop me your favourite food ideas below! What can’t you get enough of right now?

My Right Now | 11 Guilty Pleasures

Ok I realize I’ve been a bit serious with my posts lately! So to change it up, I’m sharing 11 guilty pleasures of mine and I’m curious what yours are! By guilty I mean the #sorrynotsorry kind of guilty. Ha! Why 11? Because I had 10 and thought of another one. Haha!

1. The Bachelor. I hang my head in shame a little for this one. I actually don’t watch this one often. Occasionally I’ll watch the Bachelorette. But I’m sucked in this season. For reals, Corinne has a NANNY? I know she basically describes a maid, which in an of itself is a foreign concept to me, but SHE SAID A NANNY?! Who cuts her vegetable slices for her and makes her “cheese pasta”… umm, is cheese pasta a classy way of saying Kraft Dinner? Because I’m pretty sure my 5 year olds would jump for joy if I served them KD and veggie slices. Oh Nick. Why is she still here? I’m glad there are a few more down-to-earth ladies there. And how sweet was he with Vanessa on the airplane?? I felt so bad for her. You’d never find me in that airplane. I don’t care who I’m with! You couldn’t pay me enough. But I digress…

(Doesn’t Corinne kinda remind you of her??) 

2. Online shopping. I’m becoming so lazy. But this has changed my world. With a little one the last thing I want to do is cart him into a store to find what I’m looking for. I bought about 80% of our Christmas presents online. I have yet to do the grocery shopping thing, but it’s a-comin’…

3. Stealing handfuls of chocolate chips from my pantry when my kids aren’t looking. Because Mama’s gotta survive the afternoon somehow.

4. Listening to the 90’s music playlist on Spotify and dancing around my house while I do chores. Like right now, Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It. Flashback to high school dances. Only I’m even less cool now. #keepinitreal

5. Buying myself flowers. Adventure Dad buys me some now and then and shows his love in many other ways but I don’t like to wait for him to buy me some. I get my own pretties for my house. No shame here.

6. On weekends, co-sleeping with the littlest for as long as I can while Adventure Dad gets up with the bigger two. Those extra minutes of sleep are priceless. I never used to think I’d be a co-sleeping mama. I’m not, generally. I like my space. Little man is still in our room but in his own bassinet. But sometimes I can get a little bit of extra sleep when there’s nowhere to be by snuggling him and nursing him in bed. And it’s a little piece of heaven! I cherish those moments.

7. Instagram stories. I love watching them. Making them. (not so much personally being IN them – I cringe at the sound of my own voice to be honest!) but definitely taking a glimpse into others’ lives. It’s like ACTUAL reality TV.

8. Hot bath with a good book or movie or show on my iPad. Ok, so this actually doesn’t happen often. But I love when it does. I’m putting it on my list so that I will do this soon. Because all mama’s need some relax time. Maybe I’ll steal some of my babe’s Bebe De Luxe for myself! 

9. Fresh McDonald’s french fries while my daughter’s at her dance class. WHY they moved the dance studio directly across the street from a McDonald’s I’ll never quite know but I know my scale isn’t going in the right direction when I cave to this one. I can’t help it though. Those salty fries with a coke – mmmm. I get rid of the evidence before she gets dismissed from class, so until Silas starts talking I’m in the clear.

10. Looking up houses on MLS just to see how other people decorate and arrange their spaces. Usually after I get frustrated at Pinterest searches and how unattainable some of those seem and I need a healthy dose of reality. Hahaha!

11. Snapchat filters. OK why can’t my makeup ever look as good as Snapchat makes it look? Also, there’s really not a lot cuter than a baby deer. Come on. 

I’m sure I have more I could come up with, but for now those are my 11! What are some of yours? Let me know in the comments!!