5 Ways Camping Helps Your Family Grow

I know that not everyone loves the great outdoors. But, if you don’t, bear with me here for a minute. Have you been outside??

Early last year our little family bought a little trailer on a little campsite by a decent sized state lake. It fit our budget, and the lot rent is reasonable. The summer before that we had done some short camping trips in a tent and discovered that we loved it as a family. This seemed like the obvious next step. And the most affordable way to guarantee that we would use it…or waste it. If the latter happened, we agreed to sell and run.

I think the biggest bonus of having a site that we can return to and land that we are responsible for, no matter how big or small, is the sense of community that you can get. We also (okay…I ALSO) love the heat and the air conditioning. I love storing things there and not having to fill the van so full every single time we go overnight. The downside being that we didn’t do any other camping last year so we didn’t experience any other campgrounds. But, that is a whole different post. And maybe it will happen since I seem to have a lot to say about it.

Camping, in any form, has been a wonderful experience for me. It wasn’t something that I did much as a kid. Let me just sum up how it has made us more tight knit as a family with these simple five conclusions. I am even going to count down for the maximum effect:

5. Good scenery feels like a reward.

Hiking, swimming in a lake, playing “baseball” in a field, riding our bikes, going for a walk…all of these things generally produce pretty darn good scenery. People pay good money for that! And sometimes they pay good money to have the fake version of that. Think: white noise machines, sounds of the ocean on cd, rainforest noises to calm down, pictures of scenic overlooks scrolling on our home screens. Heck, you can even choose an option on most email systems to put an ocean scene or the Grand Canyon in the background.

How does that bring us closer, you ask? Easy. We are calm and happy. How could we argue with views like that? How could we not feel closer to God or whatever it is that you believe in? Mother Nature can give us the ultimate peace. Combine that with experiencing it all together and BAM. Instant family therapy.

4. My husband and I can show off our goods.

Okay. Perv. This is a FAMILY vacation. Not those kind of goods. I am talking about the stuff that we are both really good at doing that we don’t get to do all the time. I, personally, tend to rock the coolest comfiest camping clothes like it is my business. And in those I am totally relaxed. I get to remind him how incredibly cool it is of me to be all “No Make-up, Messy Hair, Don’t Care.” Then I cook with limited tools and that’s it. He falls madly in love with me all over again.

For him, he wears sleeveless shirts and kills a lot of bugs. Not to mention all the fire building and s’more making. Damn.

This is good marriage material. Just saying.

3. My (Your) kids are soaking it up.

Just skip this one if you don’t have kids. But, I suppose you could apply some of it to your four-legged kiddos! There is so much to learn outside. Here are some things that we have tried or have on our list:

Plan a scavenger hunt, start a soccer/Frisbee tournament, sit around a campfire and tell stories, make s’mores, learn about the different kinds of birds together, breathe cleaner air, get out flashlights and hunt for leprechauns, have great books to read and learn to appreciate the quiet time.

And, for goodness sakes, let them get DIRTY. This one is a must. Just dance in the rain, I promise it can be fun. I have no doubt this will make them happy, which will also make your family happy. We have done it. And it does!

2. NO WIFI.

I can not stress the importance of this one enough with our family. We get to unplug. We have just enough service that we can make or get emergency calls. My advice- let everyone know that you aren’t AVAILABLE. Seriously. That is a thing!

How many times a week do you look up and your whole family is together but they are all on their phones, laptops, iPads, xbox, minecraft computer weird I can’t understand it game? Force them to be with you without a screen. I think it’s the only way, force. You are their only hope, Obi-Wan Kenobi. (Only slight sarcasm.) They scream boredom? Good, right? That’s means they will have to play cards with you.

1.  You ARE closer- even in sleep.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder? Not in this tent or tiny trailer! We breathe the same air, use the same sink, table, water tap, heck- even sleep pretty much in the same ROOM. We are in this TOGETHER. I get bit by mosquitos? Possible my son gets the same bites I do. We can even compare.

Seriously though, in the great outdoors there are many ways and places to find some alone time. But, at the end of the day, we are together. And that is what keeps us that way.

 

All my love of camping and all things family,

Mama. Imperfect.

 

 

 

Debt Freedom? Oy.

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My husband has been on me for what seems like years….wait…it has been years…to help him get our finances in order. Let me tell you- I am having a hard time admitting that maybe this isn’t my strong point.

A few years back I had some surgery on my knee. This was before the kid, we were both working and making plenty of money. I was taking care of paying all the bills from our account. I asked my humble, loving husband to take them over for a few months. He was CHOMPING at the bit. Apparently, he had been DYING to get his hands on them and was never very satisfied with my Type B way of handling things.

Gotta love the truth.

Anywho. Fast forward about 4-5 years and here we are. He has never given them back to my very capable hands. So, I just make sure there is money and I shop. Which I am REALLY good at doing. And I don’t say that with any type of sarcasm. I find deals like it’s nobody’s business. Problem is, I probably find too many deals. But, it is my responsibility to be the primary shopper in my home. It is MY fault I have to spend the money.

Seriously though. We have a savings account. We have money going into the appropriate retirement funds and we are on a good track for that. (Side note: I work for a financial advisor part-time so let’s just hope I have been listening!) I always thing we are a typical, normal American family. With some debt. And some savings.

Let’s go on vacation??

The hubs says he wants to live without debt.

Wait a minute. WHAAAAAAA????

Here we go. Now I have to start paying attention.So, I have done the Dave Ramsey audio book. Now I have had the Kool-Aid and I am ready to be a “financially free” family.

This sucks.

Seriously.

Today I called and got our exact balances and added fun coloring charts to my trusty BuJo. (That’s my Bullet Journal. Have I shared that with you guys??) I haven’t even touched the car payments. Did you know that D.R. says that you shouldn’t have a car payment. Let alone 2?? Crap.

At the end of the day, I am grateful for my husband. I am glad he wants us to live this way. It isn’t how I learned. Today I am grateful. When you see me driving around in a car from 1980 that I paid cash for in the future, we shall see how grateful I have remained.

Skeptical. But it might be an interesting ride. Baby D has no idea what he is in for. Sorry, dude. No more random cars at the grocery store. I don’t even think you will be allowed in Walmart. And neither will I.

All my financial freedom,

Mama. So Imperfect.

PS. I, of course, appreciate comments about your freedom if you have done it! Share the pains as well. I am ready! Maybe. Go a little easy on me. Was it ramen every night??

 

Foster Certified. Yup. For real.

Last night we finished our final training and turned in our final papers to qualify to be a certified Foster Care Family.

Wow.

We have different emotions about this.

I am excited. I am nervous. But, I am ready. My heart feels ready.

D is up for anything. Or so he thinks he is ready. We have explained to him that a “baby” might come and live with us for a little while and asked him what he thinks of that. Let’s just say he  thinks that is pretty cool. He is three. I am not really sure if he realizes how much of his stuff he will be sharing. Including his mom & dad. I stand by the fact that while I think it won’t always be easy for him, it will always be an amazing learning experience. Even if he is just learning to be grateful.

The hubs. He is a stud. It is clear that I am in all ways attracted to him but in all seriousness- I am reminded constantly that we don’t always agree on things. He is the protector of our family. I think that he has dealt with all sorts of emotions since we started on this path. I have heard the pride in his voice when he tells others that we giving it a go. I have heard strength in his voice when he works through the training and talks about parenting. I have heard real fear and total uncertainty when we are behind closed doors. He has his reasons. He has agreed to give it a try and give it his best.

Are any couples completely both certain that this is the very best thing for their family? Anytime that I read about people prepping for foster care, it always seems likes rainbows and puppies. But, is it? Aren’t there sleepless nights, hidden concerns, and lasting uncertainty for at least one of you? And if you are doing this alone, are you having an easier time with balancing emotions since it is just yours, or does that make it even more difficult?

My “why” for this one is just too big to simmer down and forget about it.

More to come,

Mama. Imperfect.

P.S. Don’t worry. Feelings are valid. Feelings have been thoroughly discussed. The hubby is in, all in. My point is just that it isn’t all flowers and puppies. Or whatever. Feel free to share your thoughts but please be sensitive to all the feels.

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Review: Sequence for Kids

Our 3 year old has really been into games lately. Which, I have to admit, I really love. It gives us a chance to spend some quality time together as a family and most of the games usually teach him something, even if it is just how to win and lose.

We purchased this for the dude at Christmas. I honestly wasn’t sure if he was ready for it, even though it was for ages 3-8. At first he really didn’t care that he was “trying” to get 4 in a row and the “Free” spaces did really confuse him. But, one-two months later, he is really into it!

Do I recommend it?

I do! It is inexpensive, it is a great way to learn to take turns and make good choices, he only has to “hold” three cards, and he actually does win and lose. It is a great choice for this age and I honestly think it will be a game that we can use for quite a while.

Click on the picture above to get it on Amazon. Best price I have seen, by far.

*If you use my link, I could see credit for it since it is an affiliate link. BUT, it will not change your pricing in any way or the use of your Amazon account. So, check it out!

You can also click: Sequence for Kids to get there.

Potty Training. What a Freaking Nightmare.

todays-adventure_the-potty

I don’t want articles. I don’t want advice from other moms. I don’t want to be told I am doing something right or wrong. I just want a perfectly potty-trained toddler that is happy. And healthy. And isn’t traumatized by some method that I read about that worked for some other child.

Here’s the thing. Dude is 3.5 years old. Almost. Nope. I just calculated. He is 3.5.

Without sounding all “my son is better than other sons”, it is important in this situation to comment that D is a smart kid. I mean, he spells his own name, knows all his letters, spells at least 5 other words, knows colors, knows what colors make other colors, and definitely knows that he is not a baby and that big boys use the potty. He knows where animals do their thing, he even knows that he can stand and use the potty and that Mom can’t. He knows because he has DONE IT.

He refuses. No underwear, no pants without a diaper, no peeing outside, no using the potty or the kiddo potty. Nothing. “Just give me my diaper, you are forgetting my diaper,” is his only argument. And he is serious. And completely adamant that he belongs in one.

Today. We “threw away” our remaining diapers. It is a beautiful February day but we aren’t going anywhere that is beyond our yard because we are determined to give it a go.

It’s time, little dude.

Please say a prayer for my sanity. And also a prayer that I am not scarring the boy for the rest of his life. This might be the story that he tells in therapy when he is an adult.

All my best,

Mama. Imperfect.