Tag Archives: summer

The Very Worst Camping Trip

We’ve had a few friends comment on how we’re “really outdoorsy” or even ask us for camping advice. Snort. Neither one of us went camping a lot as kids. I was briefly a Girl Scout, but chickened out of the overnight trip when I realized that there were spiders in the cabin. I basically started “enjoying the outdoors” when I met Aaron, because when a cute boy likes something, you generally convince yourself that you like it, too.

All in all, we were doing okay at camping… at least until we had the very worst camping trip.

We planned a three day weekend this summer, pre-N visiting, to take the kids camping. It would be our longest yet, Friday-Monday. A couple of days before, the weather forecast started looking pretty bad, particularly for Saturday. But, we wanted to go, we had made arrangements, so we decided to stick with it.

Before we were even halfway there, I realized I’d forgotten my tripod. I cried. Too late to turn back, but that is what I look forward to most about any camping trip, being under the stars with my camera.

We arrived, set up our tent, and then headed off to our first planned activity… the kids’ first ever drive-in movie.


It rained for the whole movie. We had to run the air to keep the windshield from fogging up, and run the windshield wipers from time to time for the rain.
Despite it being a really less-than-ideal drive-in movie experience, we still had fun.

When we arrived back at the campsite, I knew that I wasn’t missing out on anything star-wise that night. It was so cloudy and even a big foggy.
(camera set on a picnic table)

We decided to hit up some other close-by state parks the next day, Saturday. Aaron is currently doing a little contest to see who can visit all of the Kansas state parks first (there’s a cash prize!). We first went to Mushroom Rocks.

The kids enjoyed this weird park. But, we ended up literally running back to the car as it started pouring.

We spent our day in the car, driving around, to a couple more state parks and through various small towns of Kansas. All the while it was pouring rain.

When we stopped for lunch, it was hard to even eat under a pavilion, with rain blowing in.

Fortunately, the rain cleared up in time for dinner. Things were looking up.

We had a nice time, roasting hotdogs and making s’mores.

We decided to get pajamas on and head to bed early, hoping to make the most of the following day, Sunday. Aaron took Reed and Lena to the bathrooms and I got Gus ready for bed at the tent.

This is about the moment when I discovered our BIG problem.

Everything inside of our tent was wet. Ranging from soaking wet to damp, depending on how close to the edge of the tent it was. There was no way we could sleep in the tent.

I gave Aaron a choice… find the closest laundry, hopefully at the park, OR pack it all up and head home, two days early. We opted for the laundry. Well, there was no laundry at the park. The closest laundry mat was 30 minutes away… and it was already 8:45.

The laundry mat closed at 9. And, like I said, we left at 8:45 and it was 30 minutes away. Miraculously (or because it’s small town Kansas), they had not locked up. We headed inside, hoping that no one would arrive and kick us out.

I would have loved our local laundry mat, with it’s wifi, huge TV screens and open 24 hours. We would have camped out in there for awhile, getting everything sufficiently dry. Instead, I took this semi-clean laundry mat and was grateful that no one kicked us out.

So, we made it through the night and survived until Sunday. Sunday was supposed to be the nicest day of our weekend… and it was.

A little aside, one of our dogs loves to stand on things.

In the morning, Aaron took the kids hiking while I hung out at the trailhead and practiced my Ukrainian. The afternoon was designated for swimming at the lake.

I’m not sure if it was the rain the day before, but the kids were not impressed with the lake.

I just found this picture while prepping for this blog post, and I love it.

In case you’re wondering if things can be worse in retrospect, when editing this picture, I saw a mosquito in my s’more that I did not see before I ate it. Can we say “eww?”

My messy, messy boy.

Burned my finger on one of the skewers. Ouch.

I love this picture. Camping, challenges or not, is family time.

That’s my summary of our worst-ever camping trip. In short, be careful if it rains while you are camping. Make sure that you have the rain fly on really well and maybe even everything pulled away from the sides of your tent. 😉

In retrospect? It’s all okay. I want our kids to see us respond to challenges and still try to make the most of it. I want them to learn to be creative problem-solvers, so sometimes, that may mean waiting out the rain with markers and paper in the car or heading to the laundry mat late at night. So, we will keep on camping, hopefully learning how to be better campers, teaching our kids a love of the outdoors and how to make the most of unexpected challenges.

Labor Day Weekend Fun

We made a quick trip to Colorado for Labor Day weekend, to enjoy the outdoors and for some camping. We did a ton, but here are some of the highlights.

First hike of the trip, with perfect morning mountain weather. 

We checked out this big castle. Bishop Castle.

Can you find Reed and Lena?

The castle has some amazing details. This is the third floor, as you can see the huge arch windows in the photos above.

Later on Saturday, we checked out Great Sand Dunes National Park.

Just a tip, wear closed toe shoes and don’t go mid-day. This sand is hot. Don’t repeat our mistakes!

On our way to our campsite, we saw this beautiful double rainbow.

After dinner walks. With a girl who dances to the beat of her own drum and a boy who likes being up high.
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The big kids and I stayed up after dark and had some fun with long exposure photos.
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Unfortunately, it was a cloudly night, so we didn’t get to enjoy the stars too much.

Here’s my one road trip tip: Building forts in the car. It worked brilliantly, and bought us some quiet time.

Amazing views.

Nest stop: Treasure Falls.
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Only Lena and Aaron made it all the way to the upper deck. The boys were a bit too tired to keep hiking up at that point.

Family photo, sitting at the top of a gorge. Making me nervous.


It was pouring rain when we got back to our campsite that night, so we had to cancel our plans for hot dogs and smores over the fire. But apparently, my kids are okay with hotdogs for breakfast.

Can’t wait for our next trip.

Back to School

School has been back for a couple of weeks now– I’ve just been a bit slow on getting this blog post together. I still need a few more hours in my day.


Last year/this year:

Reed started 1st grade on a different day than Lena started kindergarten, which is why you may notice the different outfits.

Gus’s First Camping Trip

Gus went on his first mini-camping trip. Reed and Lena were at their grandparents, so they missed out, but we had fun!


Dude just wanted to hang out in the car while we set everything up. For the record, he has a rear facing car seat– he was just checking out the back seats, because he never gets a chance to do that.

Dogs came along, too.


The dragonflies were unreal. Huge and everywhere!


Little man, ready to sleep in a tent. He was not so sure about that.


This what happens when I can’t sleep– experimenting with night photography!

Little man, up and ready to go this morning.

Blogging… yeah

Someone finally told me to blog, so here I am. I’ve been meaning to update, but that just doesn’t happen. There is something about having 3 kids that makes my time seem to disappear. Ha, actually, there’s something about Gus that seems to make time disappear!


This face? Yes, absolutely this face.

If someone can convince him to just cut back on his need to get filthy, I will have much more time to blog.

We have had a busy summer. We spent 6 weeks with my family on the East Coast. Aaron stayed home with the dogs and I went with the kids.

They got to spend time with their 6 cousins, which was pretty much the best time for everyone.



Girly had these crazy double sets of teeth.


But, she lost her first tooth, so we’re down to just one extra.
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She also learned how to ride a two wheel bike. She borrowed her cousin’s balance bike for awhile, then just took off.

We spent our last weekend with my family at my family reunion. The last time that I went was the summer when we were in the process to adopt Reed and Lena. I blogged about the reunion and my niece’s sweet interest in Lena’s photo back then. 

It was a lot of fun to go with the kids and everyone seemed to have a great time.


Quite possibly the sweetest horse I’ve ever met. He bent down so each of the kids, even my tiniest one, could stroke him.

The photos have been a little Gus and Lena heavy, so here is one of Reed, being Reed.

And here’s a photo of a dog. Who wants to guess which dog that is?


Now, we’re back home. School starts next week! Wow.

I’m thinking of transitioning to writing a bit more about stuff besides my kids and adoption. I’m not sure about the details about what I will be blogging about and when I will ever get around to it. Maybe.

Also, in the meantime, to get your fix of our Moose, I created a Facebook page. I use Facebook way more than WordPress because it’s fast and easy. I will try to update that a bit more regularly, so come and like it! There’s a button to the right.