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How does one camp with a toddler?

We're going camping for a week in July. I'm scared.

Two years ago we did this same camping trip with my family. I was a few months pregnant, and other than sleeping terribly for numerous reasons, it was a great trip.

Week 15

Last year we had a seven month and I had to travel work work at the same time, so we only stayed for a weekend. It was fine, but two nights was enough. Mo is a rock star sleeper when she's in her element, but a pack 'n play in a tent meant several middle-of-the-night awakenings which meant pretty much no sleep for me. Other than that, it was good.



This year, though, we'll have an 18 month old. Someone told me recently that this will be the worst year for camping, and I fear they're right. Last year Mo couldn't get herself around so she was content to just sit where we put her. Next year she will likely be old enough to follow directions a little better and will probably be able to hang with the older kids. But this year she is ALL OVER THE PLACE and at a campsite there are NO BOUNDARIES! And she isn't exactly great yet at understanding what we mean by "Do not go into the road where you could be hit by a car" or "Do not go into the water where you could drown" or  "Do not go into the woods where you could fall and impale your face on a stick."

We had a little taste of this recently on a visit to my grandparents cottage. Mike, as a chef, was put in charge of getting lunch together, and, as a man because that's just how it is I suppose, was asked to help with the boat and general cottage maintenance. That meant I was on my own for Mo duty. Which, of course, meant I was chasing her everywhere. We weren't safe outside where there was water and driveways and other people's cottages that she should probably stay out of. I was so exhausted by the end of our four hour visit, I didn't even remember what happened.

Imagine that for six days.

In a row.

With no good sleep at night during which to recover.

I need ideas! Have you ever camped with a toddler? What's the trick (or the tricks)?

My sister is renting a camper, so if we really need to contain the toddlers (she has one too) for awhile, we can hang in there. But who wants to be in a camper all day? 

We also thought about buying or renting a play yard, setting it up somewhere on the campsight, putting our chairs inside it, putting the kids inside it, and hanging out that way.

We'll also go on day trips once in awhile to have an excuse to strap them into car seats. And we can go on lots of walks (strapped into strollers!). 

But what else? How do we keep them entertained? How do we keep them contained? What about sleeping? What are the best sleeping arrangements in a tent or a camper for a one and a half year old?

I've never done this before. I need your tips and tricks even if they seem obvious!


Mo cutest face ever!


My second Mother's Day with Mo

Once again, Mother's Day was busy busy. But it's busy because we're blessed with so many wonderful women! I have a great grandmother still kickin', two grandmas, a wonderful mother, a step-mother, a mother-in-law and a step-mother-in-law. Not to mention the sweetest baby girl. We didn't manage to see everyone, but we made a pretty good effort.

In the morning, Mike's mom and brother came to celebrate. My mother-in-law brought me Starbucks and flowers. I only got her a measly little card. We had brunch, and Mo made Kitty Grandma read her just about every book in the house.


Then we went to my grandparents' house where we met my mom, sister and nephew. It was a gorgeous day (finally!) and we spent most of the afternoon outside. Mo loved hanging out with her Gamma:


And her Great Grandma and Grandpa:




I still often reflect on my journey to motherhood. The fact that we started by pursuing adoption, then opened our hearts to consider trying to get pregnant (opposite of many people, I know). Then not getting pregnant and not knowing why. In hindsight it was such a short time we struggled, just a year, but it was such a long, heartbreaking year. It pales in comparison to what others experience, I have no delusions about that, but that year - all the negative pregnancy tests and millions of ovulation predictor kits, the ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage, all the waiting and wondering - has made it impossible for me to take my daughter for granted. 

Mother's Day is a hard time for so many people. An impossible time. I'm forever grateful for what it has come to mean to me. 

Mama and Mo on Mother's Day



Mo - 16 months

Another month! Mo is growing, which surprised me. I could have sworn she hardly grew or gained weight in the last 6 months, but at her 15 month appointment (a couple weeks after she turned 15 months), she was 2 inches taller than at her one-year, and a pound and a half heavier.

John Ball Zoo 2014 - family selfie

More than that, she's grown so much in maturity. She's so much a part of the household now. She can easily go where I go so I no longer have to carry her around or figure out how to entertain her. If I need to run upstairs, I say, "Mo let's go upstairs" and she walks over to the stairs, crawls up or I hold her hand and she walks up, then I close the gate and she wanders around from room to room as I do whatever it is I needed to do. When I take a shower, she hangs out in the bathroom with me. Even if I leave the door open, she perches at the end of the tub and watches me wash my hair. Sometimes she even imitates what I do.

Mo pig tails

Mo is still extremly easy going. She is one of the most adaptable toddlers I know. We keep her on a pretty predictable routine - she's up around 7:30, breakfast, play, snack, play, lunch, nap around noon, up 2-3 hours later, snack, play, dinner, play, snack, bed around 7:30 - but if we sway from that sometimes, it's no skin off her back. No matter where we go or who we see, she goes with the flow. Mike has had a few interviews lately, and each time he makes different arrangements for her. No problem for Mo! The other day she went along when he went to sell plasma, and had to hang out in the supervised children's area, and it's like she had been doing that every day.

This face - sweet Mo

She's also still an amazing sleeper. When it's bedtime, I suggest we go up to bed, and she goes easily. Usually I carry her up, but lately when I mention bedtime, she walks herself to the stairs, climbs all the way up, down the hall to her room, and waits for me to lift her into her crib. What? She puts herself to sleep, and even if she's not ready to fall asleep immediately, she reads a book or talks to her animals until she gets tired. When she wakes up, from a nap or nighttime, she just waits patiently for us to get her. I honestly could not ask for an easier kid in that regard.

Mo reading with dad

Mo is starting to talk a little. She figured out "hi" and looooves to say hi to everyone, anyone, all the people, all the time. On Mother's Day, Mike asked her to say "mama," a sound she can make, but something she has never said on command. But that day she did, and has many times since. She also tries to say "down," she says "wa wa" for water, and "uh sah" for what's that. Mostly she says something that sounds like "snghu" for the words she doesn't know. 

home repair mo helping dad

Her hair is getting longer and curlier. In the humidity it tightens up into little corkscrew ringlets. She loves to read books now, is always bringing us something to read to her, though usually she just wants to flip through the pages quickly. Her current favorite book has a bunch of pictures of animals. She can make the sound of a puppy (oo oo), a kitty (maa aah ahh), a snake (sssss), a monkey (ah ah), and she imitates the gorilla by beating her chest. 

Mo curls

She is still thrilled by visiting Ellen, the neighbor's dog, through the fence. Last week Mike took the latch off the gate (because nobody knows where the key is to the pad lock that keeps it shut) between our two yards and united these best buds. They were both in heaven!

Mo visiting with Ellen neighbor dog

Really, Mo is thrilled by all animals, as I've said before. She will often gather up all the stuffed animals she can manage and tries to do things like feed herself, without dropping a single one. My mom brought her dogs, two chihuahua mixes, over recently and Mo freaked out with joy. They were running in all directions, and she just couldn't keep up. She grabbed her stuffed puppy and got him in the action, too. It was sweet.


Mo at the park

Mo is my little sidekick lately. Actually, she's her dad's sidekick most of the day, running errands and hanging out with him. But when I get home, she's my little buddy. My biggy girl, my lovey, my little love pie.



What's to do in Atlanta?

Friends, I'll be in Atlanta next month for work. I won't have a lot of free time, but if you live or have visited there, do you have any recommendations? What does one do in Atlanta? What should one not miss while there? 

I'll be staying "downtown." I have no idea what that means, but all the hotels say "downtown." So where should one eat when "downtown"?

I used to travel quite a bit for my last job, and this job has been different. Which is a good thing now that I'm a mom, but I am pretty excited to be jet setting again, even if it's just for a few days and I don't have time to do much but work. This will be the longest I've been away from Mo, even though it's just three nights. She'll be fine though, and so will I. 

But what should I do with my three days in Atlanta?


Mo's first participatory Easter

Last year was Mo's first Easter, but she was three months old and just kind of laid there, like she didn't even care. She hardly even participated in the egg hunt!


This year, however, she really got into it. A week before Easter, we colored eggs, which, actually, that wasn't her favorite part. It mostly this:

Easter 2014

But Easter weekend, she actually had a lot of fun. Saturday we hung out with my family, and my step-mom put together an egg hunt for the kids. I didn't think Mo would get into it, but turns out she's a Easter egg hunting master! We showed her once what the idea was, and from there, she had it figured out. She'd carry her basket to an egg, set the basket down, grab the egg, place it in the basket, pick up the basket and move on to the next egg. Her poor older cousins, nobody was even paying attention to them because we were all so entertained by Mo.

Mo easter egg hunt


It was a gorgeous day, so we played outside. Mo drew with sidewalk chalk, played on the swing, tried to play basketball with the big kids, and even tried to be a skater!

Mo skateboarding

On Sunday, we gave her a meager little Easter basket. Then we spent the afternoon with Mike's family. I didn't realize Easter was such a big gift giving holiday, but Mo actually got a lot of stuff: books and candy and stuffed animals. And a miniature wagon.

Mo in a mini wagon

I was totally caught off guard, but grateful for how loved she is.

Mo bunny ears


Happy (belated) Easter!


Easter family photo