Tag Archives: outdoors

Camping With Tots

We just returned from our second camping trip with friends. We went last year at this time, and repeated the trip (to a new location). We came home dirty and tired, and we had a ton of fun getting that way. In our two little excursions, I’ve picked up on a few things that I found really helpful:

Kids swimming

Bring friends. We went with another couple who have two boys (5 and 3), and the kids were built-in entertainment for each other. Plus, it was triple cuteness watching them all learn and experience the outdoors.

Boopsie swimming

Swimming was the closest Boopsie got to a bath during our three-night, four-day adventure. Bring lots of baby wipes. LOTS.

hunting for bugs

Explore with them. I’m trying to unlearn my heebie jeebies about things like frogs and bugs. Fake it ’till you make it, right?

Carrying tot in Ergo

If your kid is an inexperienced hiker, bring your Ergo carrier. I carried Boopsie about 2 miles over two days. Sheesh. Look at how long her legs are!

Other helpful things:

  • Bring a bunch of plastic bags (like the ones from Target) to use as garbage bags around each major meal prep. A clean campsite will keep you from experiencing nighttime marauders. (aka raccoons)
  • What is it with kids and those squeezie pouches of fruit? It’s the new kiddie crack. Anyway, this is the perfect application, so stock up.
  • Bug spray. Sunscreen. Repeat.

Not going to lie… it’s a lot of work, especially in a tent (which we did last year). But it’s so. damn. worth it.



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Winding down the weekend…

Daddy-o has been out of town (for work) since Thursday morning. Thursday evening I had to call in the cavalry as I got a migraine. Grampie came to the rescue and played with Boopsie while I went to bed with earplugs and a pillow over my face. Things went really well otherwise… until this morning.

This morning Boopsie drank a cup of milk and then coughed… and threw it up all over us. The rest of the day she kept saying she had to “cough” (aka barf), but didn’t. Interestingly enough, those moments seemed to happen as soon as I picked up the phone or said I needed to do something. Suspicious? I thought so.

Tonight at dinner she wouldn’t eat a thing, and talked the whole time about throwing up:

“I need da bucket.”

“Th yellow gonna come out.”

“I gonna cough again.”

I tried to play it very blase… and ended up just giving her a bath and putting her to bed, explaining (as usual) there wouldn’t be any food/milk until morning. Now she’s in there wailing for “milky.” Here’s a few recent pics to help me remember that I love being a mother. (I need the reminder right now.)

Toddler watering flowers

Watering plants in fuzzy polar bear footie pajamas, pink rain boots and her bike windbreaker.

toddler picking yellow dandelions

Picking dandelions…

Black goat with toddler running toward it

Chasing goats at the zoo… apparently Boopsie loves goats as much as I do.

There, I feel much better now. (And it helps that she’s fallen asleep.) Let’s face it, this could be worse: Daddy-o is currently stuck in an airport, where his flight is delayed three hours. Blech.

Now, say it with me… “Please don’t puke, please don’t puke, please don’t puke.”


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The Secret (Where the Doldrums Lose and Mama Wins)

I have discovered The Secret, at least for my tot and me. No, not that “secret” where you wish and intend for things to happen in your life and they do … I’m talking about the parental Ace card that is elusive and ever-changing. I’ll explain:

This past weekend, Daddy-o had a very serious work commitment, so it was me and Boopsie for the long-haul (with some respite at Grammie and Grampie’s). And all week last week I had a severe case of the doldrums. It was bad. I felt crushed by the routine and responsibility of everything in my life. I was feeling terribly bored — not with the people in my life, but by the day-in, day-out patterns. Get up earlier than I want to, fight my two-year-old to get ready to go, go to work, pick up two year old, make and eat dinner, fight to get two-year-old to bed and chill or try to do something productive. Go to bed later than I should. Repeat. (First-world problems all the way…) I was getting desperate trying to bust out of my dull downer mood. So these are some of the things I tried:

toddler windbreaker with bikes

Damn you, Target.

  • I bought an aromatherapeutic candle called “Be Amazing.” (Yes, really.)
  • I re-started listening to classical music.
  • I bought and read Dream Save Do by Betsy and Warren Talbot from Married With Luggage
  • I impulsively bought Boopsie a spring jacket because it has bikes on it. Thankfully, it was only $15.
  • I tried cooking new things like vegan chili (delicious, actually).
  • I went shopping for myself. Spent quite a bit more than $15.
  • I decided to clean my closet. I didn’t actually clean out my closet.

Basically, heading into a long weekend of single parenting (woe is me, I know), I was a little panicked about HOW TO FEEL BETTER ABOUT THINGS and MORE EXCITED ABOUT LIFE. Add to this a wily two-year-old bouncing off the walls and I was worried about not snapping. But then… magic happened. First, we received about four inches of fresh snow on Friday while Boopsie was at day care. Second, the weather was nice for February — mid- to high-20s. Finally, we were both healthy enough to play outside. The mythical winter trifecta was attained for only the second time this whole season (good snow + decent temperature + healthy). I picked up Boo and we went to a sledding hill I’d never been to before… It. Was. Awesome.

Toddler in snow

“I going to the li-blaly. We got to get more Llama books.”

If someone would have told me last week that the cure for winter doldrums was to play outside in the winter weather I may have punched them. But sledding down a too-big-for-me-and-my-tot hill and following Boopsie around while she marched through the park discussing how she was going to the “li-blaly” (library) to get more “llama books” shook me out of my stupor.

And the best part… the BEST part… is that she burned off so much energy that she went to bed like a dream and slept for TWELVE HOURS. The bells and whistles went off in my head and we’ve dragged her outside to play every day since. On Saturday we went on a walk looking for turkeys near my parents suburban home. On Sunday I took her to the park where she went down the slides at least 20 times. Today Daddy-o took her back to the park for more sliding, swinging and general exploration. Granted, her bedtime wasn’t as smooth tonight, but she ate chicken enchiladas like a champ at dinner. WINNING.

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring… a chest cold? Biting wind? I hope to hell we can get outside after work and day care. And I don’t know if I’ve really beaten my doldrums or just beaten them back for a little bit. But I do know (at least for now), my secret to survival is getting outside with this kiddo. Look out, world!


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Filed under adventures, drudgery, First-World Problems, Fun, lessons, problems middle class parents have, Stuff Toddlers Say

A Trip to Kidvana


Super-Boopsie swinging-style

We just returned from a few days at Daddy-o’s uncle’s resort in northern (sort of) Minnesota.

This is a trip we’ve made several times before, as we’re fortunate to be able to spend 4th of July with a fun conglomeration of family, friends, and friends who might as well be family.This trip was a little different, though. Although we also spent 4th of July there last year, this was the first time we were there with our own kid. (Yikes, Boopsie is more kid than baby.) And because it was the first time we were there with our own kid, and I obviously wasn’t observant enough before, I came to see the resort for what it truly is: Kidvana.

Boopsie playing in the sand

Wet goopy sand? Yes, please!

First, there’s the setting: a beautiful, clean lake with a sand beach. Ten cabins on 24 acres of pine and aspen land. Next, there are the activities: boating, swimming, playing in the sand, and the all-important beach side swing set. In the evenings pot-lucks and bonfires are common, and over the week of the 4th Nutty “Uncle” Mick from Indiana goes pyro and puts on some awesome pyrotechnic displays.

That brings me to the third component: the people. If I counted correctly, there were 20 kids age 13 and under and another 10 or so who were teenagers. The kids definitely outnumbered the parents. And while the parents socialized, cooked, and watched out for the kiddos, the kids themselves had an amazing time.


Laddie, the official resort dog, and (unofficially) Boopsie’s favorite poochie pal.

We stayed as guests of our dear friends and their two girls – 4-year-old “Lulu” and 1-year-old “Baby A.” Boopsie adored Lulu and Lulu adored Boopsie. Baby A waddled about looking adorable and giving a running babble commentary. It was fun to see them all together. A couple of the “older” (i.e. 6-9 year olds) were quite taken with the wee ones and pushed them in the swings and talked with them.

It was fun to see all these kids unplugged, unstructured, and “free-range.” They were in their natural habitat, as happy and as free as could be. Boopsie loved swinging on the swings (seriously, HOURS), playing in the sand and water, petting the doggies, and being around all of the other kids. She was funny and

Riding on shoulders

Hitching a ride on Daddy-o’s shoulders

exuberantly happy, a true smile machine. It made my heart sing with wholesome goodness. It also made me want to buy a cabin and set up there every weekend. (Not gonna happen.)

Boopsie driving the boat

“Which dock Uncle J?”

Every time I have a vacation experience like this, I find myself thinking about how to transfer that vibe (or at least part of it) to my “real” life. In this case, I think it’s about less TV and screen time (err… I realize I am blogging while I write that… feel free to mock), more time outside in nature, and being more social and cooperative (pot luck anyone?). Cheesy, but I’d do just about anything to see Boopsie that much in her “element” every day.

What do you think? Where have you experienced “Kidvana”? And do you get weird about trying to transfer “vacation” vibes to real life?

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A lesson from a 19-month-old

It’s beautiful in the upper Midwest — it was 75 degrees today. 75! (And yes, the sort-of Irish Catholic superstitious person in me thinks this must signal the coming apocalypse.)

After work (and after I picked up a prescription for myself for a sinus infection — time to end this three week illness), I

Dried oak leaf

Crusty oak leaf or Super! Awesome! Thing! ??

took Boopsie out in a stroller for a little walk. Hanging around in the out-of-doors with Boopsie is fantastic. She loves being outside, loves the wind on her face, loves people, loves dogs. She’s excited by crusty leaves on the ground and stones in the conglomerate asphalt path. She points at planes, smiles at dogs and people and generally exudes joy. I can’t tell you how many people smiled or giggled when they went by (especially when she walked herself right out of her pants… too big at the waist).

I’m going to challenge myself to be a little more like Boopsie — more open to and observant of the world around us. I’d also like to be more friendly with strangers — what’s the harm in smiling and saying “hi”? I probably won’t make a game of picking up dry leaves and crushing them in my hands, and I hope I don’t walk myself out of my pants, but there’s a lot to be learned here…

I hope I never overlook a famousĀ  musician playing a multimillion dollar instrument in a subway.

Slow down. Cultivate wonder.

I will try.

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