Camping with the fab five

Someone told me at church today “If you go back and listen to old school Gary Smalley messages he said once ‘if you want to give your child great memories and bond as a family, go camping’.  Well, good thing something wonderful may come of our super challenging but super “fun” weekend.  Upon looking for this information online, I found this quote from him, which rings so true:

The real secret to becoming a close-knit relationship is shared experiences that turn into shared trials.

~ Gary Smalley

After a less than lovely and three hours later than planned departure (don’t ask), we were on our way with nearly everything we owned (except the portable crib for Finn which we wouldn’t know until bedtime).  After sticking it out to make almost three whole weeks with no fast food, we broke down and had McDonald’s on the way for dinner.  We got to the campground around bedtime and stayed up later than our norm getting all set up.  There were cousins which made everything more fun.

No computers, no dirty bathrooms that needed cleaning, no agenda besides to have fun.  It was great.  Until I realized we’d left the crib for Finn at home.  We figured we’d just make him a bed and he’d sleep on the ground on his sheepskin.  Notsomuch.  He threw the fit of his life.  I packed it up and went to the van with him.  We spent the entire night in there.  Me sitting up making sure he didn’t fall off the seat where he’d finally fallen asleep after a couple good hours of him screaming.  Afraid that any noise I made would wake him I tried to freeze and sleep for about 6 hours.  Instead of sleeping, I stared at trees and listened to him breathe and looked for signs up daylight.  There is something very un-fun about being awake when everyone else is asleep.

Some coffee and some happy campers beckoned me to choose happy and get on with the adventure.  We searched for crabs and found hundreds.  Finn chilled in the Boba on daddy’s back and looked positively exhausted, which made me slightly annoyed because really, he got more sleep than me.  By a longshot.

My sister, who is a rockstar, braved camping not with a needy 16 month old and four other kiddos but instead with a growing baby in her belly and her own two littles.  She deserves an award.  We both do, here is our game face the morning after camping, night one:

Our two girl cousin buddies enjoyed each other as always…

and all the boys ‘helped’ put up Nana and Papa’s tent on day two of camping fun:

Finn loved him some Papa…

and for that matter so did Kyler…

then everyone joined in to play “crawl to the beach like a crab” or something like that…

Ruby watched the silliness and stayed warm in her winter hat, because well, you know, this is still Seattle:

Daddy figured out how to build underground tunnels in the wet sand and everyone thought that was awesome…

It’s been just over a week.  I swore I’d never do it again at about 3 AM both nights while Finn kept me from sleep.  But you know what?  Our kids would tell you it was the best ever and a super fun weekend.  These are the things that memories are made of.  And as my sister so astutely observed ‘the terrible awful just sort of melts into the wonderful’.  One minute I was curled up in a ball in a van seat with a baby who wouldn’t sleep and shortly after I was sitting at the beach listening the absolute glee while my children found crabs of all colors and patterns and delighted in the simplest things.

It is that truth that leads me to say that probably, we will do it again.  Maybe we’ll do it a little better or maybe not.  But we will try again, we are crazy like that.

A great adventure by the numbers


I’ve been away.  Pretty sure no words can describe what the last week looked like but I’ll do my best.  I have a good friend who is like a sister to me whose husband is working in another state at the moment so she is home with her kids in a place that isn’t ‘home’ to her.  After an impulse purchase of plane tickets, we were off to Arizona while Daddy stayed here to work.  Hoping to bless my friend and make her time alone a little brighter we ventured out on my very boldest mothering adventure thus far….

2          brave mothers whose friendship currently spans several states

7          (combined) children ages 18 months to 6 years

8          days together with no husbands, babysitters or…any other source of respite

1          roof for all to sleep under

1          three hour plane ride by myself with four children

4          sweet children who traveled (mostly) very well

1          ten minute window that I am trying to block from my memory when I found out my friend had car trouble, was sending a shuttle instead to pick us all up at the airport and waited on a little concrete island with cars passing on both sides while changing a blowout poopy diaper on a slippery metal bench while trying to keep track of 3 other kids, 4 car seats, 4 back packs, 1 ginormous suitcase and 1 double stroller

    2          days spent in and around the house before the car was fixed and we could get out

    15        sword/light saber/fishing pole/stick battles that ensued in the sunny backyard

    15        times we had to remind them that all weapons must remain out of the house

    40        books read aloud (many by Rylee to her little friend Elise)

    21        shared meals with kids ages 1, 2, 3, 3, 5, 5 and 6

    21        times I was thankful my friend had done all the grocery shopping and meal planning before we got there

    10        hours spent building legos together

    20        times said legos had to be defended from those who wanted to destroy lego creation

    1          trip to the zoo in 90 degree heat stressing the whole time about not losing kids in the craziness of it all….only   learning AFTER we left that we went on a HOLIDAY

    300      pictures taken

    24        or more…times I was glad we’d come

    12        times we tried to talk to our husbands on the phone only to be interrupted by the sheer volume of so many little people in one place

    18        eggs eaten by my husband who doesn’t cook who did his best to feed himself while we were gone

    4          boys using the same toilet for 8 days

    2          boys who peed into the pool

    14        loads through the dishwasher

    2          late night movies enjoyed by

    2          tired mamas who savored

    2          bottles of very good wine along with

    2          cartons of Haggen Daz

    3          nights up with Audrey for hours letting her play at 3 AM hoping not to wake the 6 other children

    3          hours of sleep the night before we flew home

    3          hours up with Audrey the night before we flew home

    3          screaming, thrashing fits from Audrey on the plane ride home

    2          leaky diapers I had to change on the airplane

    2          blue pen marks on my face, trying to keep Audrey happy

    8          people on the plane who had to tell me about the pen on my cheek

    1          husband who was smart gracious enough to kiss me anyway and not say a word about the pen on my face

    13        times I wondered how we would make it

    1          enormous smile when we saw Daddy waiting for us at the airport

    4          so happy children to wrap themselves around their dad

    1          sleepy ride home

    1          pile of dirty clothes

    30        blissful seconds slow dancing in the living room with children swirling around our ankles….so happy to be home

    A weekend at the Nooksack

    This last weekend was supposed to be a trip to Mt. Baker, to spend time together as a family with Nana, Papa, Auntie Stephie, Dee Dee, Buzz, and little Isaac…however, plans change.  As it turned out, I got to take the three big kids to Mt. Baker while Karissa and Audrey stayed home to rest and to work on other projects (blog post to come I am sure).

    With Nana and Papa sharing their time share at Mt. Baker with the rest of the aforementioned family members, we were looking forward to some quality time staying right off the Mt. Baker Highway near the Nooksack River.  Karissa and I found a reasonably priced place to stay since our growing family no longer fits in the condo.  I was lucky enough to get off work early on Friday night, came home, packed up the van with our little family minus the two and headed North.

    We got to our rustic cabin, moved in, and got ready for bed because we had a tremendous day ahead of us.  We were off to some breakfast with the family and then to hit up the Skyline Divide trail. This was an ambitious undertaking for our three little hikers, but they were up to the task, well, mostly anyway.  From the trail head, it is a two mile, 2150 ft elevation gain (steep for those counting at home) to a most beautiful North Cascades meadow with stunning views of the surrounding Cascades and Mt. Baker looming nearby enticing all climbers.  Our little group was not about to go one step further, so we enjoyed lunch in the glorious meadow resplendent with wildflowers.

    You might be wondering why I was not wearing a shirt for some of those pictures.  It was not because I was trying to show off my manly physique, nor was it because I was too hot (it was a delightful temp), it had everything to do with the fact that Kyler had decided that a good way to thank his Daddy for carrying him all the way up the two mile trek on his back was to pee on him.  Yep, Kyler was in a ergo backpack, meaning that the only thing between me and him was his pants and my shirt.  So that wetness on my back that I thought was sweat, it turned out to be urine.  Nice.  So off went the shirt.  Of course both boys wanted to get in on the shirtless action.

    A few other highlights were Nana singing “Climb every mountain” from the Sound of Music and of course Auntie Stephie getting knocked off the trail, down the hill, and onto a tree by a little horse fly.  You might want to ask her about that.  Once we figured out she was okay, we all shared a bit of a laugh.

    Of course the hiking was Daddy’s highlight, but the highlight for the kiddos was the pool.  They just loved jumping in from the side, “swimming” over to the stairs to do it all over again.  Kyler must have jumped into my arms 200 times during the three times we went to the pool.  Time with their Auntie’s, Uncle, and cousin was treasured as well.  One of Caleb’s most treasured activities is throwing large things into the river.  Pictured above you can see him holding up quite a large tree that he found and proceeded to toss into the river.  It wound up getting stuck on rocks, but between throwing rocks at it, Papa going wading out in the water, and some enthusiastic cheers, that tree made it down the river (at least around the bend).

    We missed Mama and Audrey, but we had a great weekend away.  We are so grateful that Nana and Papa have a little spot that is not too far away, perfect for a weekend getaway.  Much fun was had by all, and plenty of memories were made.

    Anacortes-one year later

    I realized in looking at pictures from our wonderful trip to Anacortes that we had many pictures of the family in the exact same places as last year and we were there in August both years…I thought it would be fun to post them together.  So much changes in a year!

    august 2008 132

    Tired Kyler last year

    august 2009 177

    Tired Kyler this year!

    august 2008 110

    Bathing three last year…

    august 2009 119

    Bathing four this year!

    august 2008 156

    Caleb last year…

    august 2009 157

    …and this year at the same beach.

    august 2008 166

    Sweet Rylee last August…

    august 2009 132

    ..and this August, minus a few teeth!

    august 2008 147

    Kyler last year…

    august 2009 135

    Kyler this year, more hair and less baby chub!

    august 2008 192

    the baby cousins last year, tiny and new…

    august 2009 069
    august 2009 072
    august 2009 073
    august 2009 081

    …baby cousins this year, into all kinds of mischief together!

    august 2008 218

    Last year, in the kitchen, looking at the baby deer and her mama…

    august 2009 053

    …this year in the kitchen with family visiting from Africa!

    Last week’s getaway

    Super fun, giant fort built from driftwood

    Audrey and her cousin Isaac-they are just 6 weeks apart in age!

    A lot of love…

    Kyler in the fort

    When in doubt, grab the hood (and mind the newborn baby in the front pack too)!

    Dress up fun

    Any guess at what we are so intently watching?

    In the undeveloped lot next door to the house we stayed at there was a deer grazing in the morning. We watched her with delight as she nibbled on leaves right outside the kitchen window. We squealed when we discovered her baby was nestled in the grass nearby. They spent all morning sleeping, eating and licking each other while we enjoyed every minute of watching them.

    Our Family

    We, Christopher and Karissa, were married in 1999 after dating as high school sweethearts for a few years.  Now that we have almost reached our 9th year anniversary we can look back on how the Lord has blessed us richly.  Specifically God has given us the greatest gifts in Rylee (5), Caleb (4), Kyler (1), and in a few days #4…

    Here is a picture of us in front of beautiful Mt. Shuksan during our last trip to Snowater, another blessing and our favorite vacation getaway on the Nooksack River near Mt. Baker.