Monday, July 31, 2017

Camping at Silver Springs

At the start of July, we went on our first tent-camping trip as a family. We've done lots of cabin camping, but this was the first time for our kids to experience TRUE camping with tents and no electricity, out in the wild. I was so excited!

We did have a bit of a tent debacle. We had an old tent that was given to us from some friends. We figured we'd better set it up ahead of time to make sure we could accomplish it at the campground, and to make sure the tent was in good enough condition to take care of us. We had a great time setting up the tent together - trying to figure out where all the poles went and connected together with no instructions - but we quickly discovered that the inside of the tent did NOT smell good. I cannot sleep in a tent that smells like poop, despite Brigham's idea to constantly spray febreeze.

We decided to try to borrow a tent from a friend. We set that tent up a few days before we were supposed to leave for our actual trip, and we discovered that there is no way that we could fit our family of five into the little four-man tent.

Throwing up my hands in the air, I said, "Forget it! I'm ordering us our own tent." So I went in and scoured the internet for a good deal on a tent that would arrive in time for our trip. Finding one from Walmart with a flashing two-day shipping promise, insisting it would arrive the day before we would leave on our trip, I trustingly clicked buy and off we went.

The day before we were due to leave, no tent arrived. With a sinking feeling, I checked the tracking online to see where the package was. I noticed that the arrival date had changed to the NEXT day and that the tent had just barely arrived in the Seattle warehouse that day and would be delivered to my house a day late. I decided that since we weren't leaving until 4 pm, and since the tent was in Seattle and only had to make it's way to my front porch, that it should arrive in time and we'd just set it up for the first time at our campsite.

The first tent we set up.
After checking out the front door 8,000 times to see if it had arrived, 4 pm rolls around and all our food is in colors waiting to be packed in our hot car, and I'm on the phone with Walmart and the shipping company trying to track down the driver that has our tent in his truck so that we can meet him to grab the stupid tent before we left. We were told that the driver had to answer the phone and respond, and that he had until 8 pm that night to deliver the tent. Grr, we were so frustrated!

Brigham and I decided to just head out on our camping trip, suffer through the four-man tent for one night, and have my parents bring our tent the next day when they were planning to come join us. We picked up dinner and drove back and checked our porch about five different times before we actually left for good around 6 pm.

Waiting for our apple crisp to cook.
We made the hour long drive to Silver Springs Campground and began setting up camp. We pitched the four-man tent and were just starting to cook our tin-foil apple crisps for dessert when my family unexpectedly showed up a night early, and they had brought our new tent! Apparently, they decided to come early and my mom checked our porch around 6:30 pm and our tent was there, so they loaded it up and headed out. They tried to call us to let us know not to set up our other tent, but we didn't have any service because we were already in the mountains.

Our new tent with the old
It was exciting to set up our brand-new tent, but we first had to undo all the set-up we had just done! Our dessert ended up burning as we pitched our new tent and set up our camp for a second time, but it was worth it because we love our new fresh-smelling, spacious tent.

The tent is actually two separate tents that zip together into one. You can keep them separate or together, which was nice because we put Lydia and Ammon in one side and Kendrick with us on the other side. Lydia and Ammon could play and mess around on their end, and I could unzip the tunnel to check on them when I wanted, but zip it right back up to keep all the mosquitoes they let in on their side from escaping to ours. If we wanted, we could also put all our luggage on one side, and all sleep together on the other. Or, if we wanted the kids far away from us we could separate the two sides and put them in two different spots. Needless to say, there are many possibilities and we are excited to try them all out!

Kid side waking up in the morning.

Adult/baby side waking up in the morning.

Tent situation sorted, we had a blast camping.

parent's tent in the background
The weather was great, we told ghost stories, ate smores and campfire cinnamon rolls, made dutch oven lasagna/scalloped potatoes/bbq chicken, played in the river, played hide-n-go-seek, explored, and more. It was all the good camping stuff I wanted my kids to experience. We did have one bathroom accident (I kept telling the kids you don't have to get dressed to go to the bathroom, just get up and put on shoes and run to the bathroom in your pajamas! Poor kid couldn't get his shorts undone in time) and quite a few falls and tumbles, but nothing serious. I also learned the Kendrick talks in his sleep as I would hear a quiet, "Help. Help." but no other stirring as he slept on. Super hilarious and cute.

Besides exploring the campground, we did tons of hiking as well.

First day we did a couple hikes the adults (minus Brigham) had done before: Grove of the Patriarchs and Silver Falls. These hikes are some of my all-time favorite because they are so gorgeous.

This time the water was so high and heavy from the crazy winter we had. The falls were crashing so hard and we enjoyed the mist at the bottom.

On our way to Grove of the Patriachs we slid down a nature-made slide, and broke social norms by rushing four of us across the suspension bridge, when only one at a time is recommended. People acted like we were committing a felony. But the lines were so long to get across on both sides, and we'd had enough. Soon, we noticed that others decided to follow suite.

The next day we attempted another hike, but when we got to the trail-head we noticed that everything was covered in snow.

It's hard to tell, but we are standing behind a normally tall sign that points which way the parking lot is. And its post is completely burried in snow. We decided to abandon the hike since we couldn't even see the trail and most of us weren't equipped for snow hiking. We did enjoy playing in the cold white stuff for a bit.

After abandoning the Naches Loop trail, we went with a back up plan of the Goat Falls hike. It was a gorgeous, easy hike. The scenery was incredible.

 Brigham and Ryan climbed up some massive, fallen trees and got pretty high up. See if you can spot Brigham.

We made it to the falls and wondered why it was called Goat Falls. Brigham said he was going to go under the falls, but we knew he wouldn't last long enough. All of the water is glacial runoff and the cold is just way too much.

One of my favorite parts was the telling of ghost stories around the campfire. I was impressed with some of the story-telling abilities that surfaced. Ammon, in particular, would say in a super creepy voice, "and then...." before he would go on about zombies "and then...." death "and then...." the world ending. It was seriously hysterical. He is so shy, I was shocked at his theatrics. I managed to freak the kids out with basic stories from the good ol' days at girls camp. We also played a mean round of would you rather, and the family church day on Sunday was spiritual and wonderful.

I was so pumped by this camping trip that I couldn't wait to do it all over again as soon as possible. Unfortunately, we have a pretty packed summer, but it's given me a taste of the possibilities. This mountain girl would love to go every weekend. If only it wasn't so much work planning and getting ready, we probably would! But with our very own tent now, we can start making camping trips a regular thing.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Tappana Times: Summer Kick-off

June started out celebrating my brother, Ryan, turning the big eighteen. 

Soon, he'll be off to college and we'll miss having him around.

We also enjoyed our Maple Valley Days parade.

Kendrick insisted on wearing a hat, and successfully made a getaway into the middle of the street to join the parade.Twice. Those bubbles get him every time - it's like baby crack. The other kids filled their bags with candy like it was Halloween.

After the parade, we checked out the festival where we saw Lydia's Lorax artwork displayed. She was excited that her drawing was chosen at school to be shown with others' at Maple Valley Days. We walked around the booths and the kids volunteered to help pick up trash, earning them one free roller coaster ride.

We finally finished up school! Lydia finished up second grade and I loved her personality coming out when she insisted on flashing a peace sign for her last day of school picture. She grew so much this year and my favorite compliment from her teacher was that she was so kind and that other kids enjoy being around Lydia. I was so happy to hear that. I know how kind and sweet she is, and to hear that she treats others that way makes me feel like something is going right in this world. As the school bus turned the corner on the last day of school, I could hear all the other kids chanting "Summer! Summer!". And yet, when Lydia stepped off the bus she was crying because she was going to miss her teacher so much.

Ammon finished up Kindergarten - boy has he grown! When I got his final report card I was so thrilled to see his marks in focusing and following directions had gone up a level. This kid has matured so much from the shy boy that was so unsure of himself. His reading level also impressed me. I'm so sad to send him to first grade and lose my buddy for half the day. I feel like it's been me and him together for quite sometime, and I only have the guts to send him away all day because of how much I've seen him grow at school this past year. (And I'm happy he gets to try hot lunch because he is REALLY excited about it)

I conquered another 10k. And by conquered, I mean I made myself do something that was so hard for me last year and did it again this year. I thought I would do so much better, and while I did improve on my time, it felt just as hard, I didn't get the time I wanted, and I cried....again.

Oh man, this course kicks my butt. I had trained and ran six miles and felt fine, but the trail we run for the race is uphill the entire second half. And it just drains me. I prayed and cried and watched a 5 1/2 month pregnant woman pass me as I cheered and clapped for her. But I finished. I can do hard things. I learned I need to train on this trail in particular, and that I need more practice than I thought. The only people that came in behind me was a ten year old girl and her dad, who ran with her.

I also included a picture of the 5k results of Brigham and the kids. I was really proud of them running/walking the 5k together. I've always dreamed of us being an active family together, and though we are at different levels, it was nice to get out on a Saturday morning and move. Their participation was a huge support to me as I ran my race.

A couple minutes after crossing the finish line, I got a call from my brother inviting our family to go hiking later that afternoon. Not much keeps me from hiking, so I said yes. So a couple hours later we were out enjoying the hanging garden wall hike.

We packed in lunches and sat on the rocky banks eating and enjoying the river. Kendrick was thrilled to sit on the edge and through rock after rock into the water.

After eating, we threw rocks to splash each other and Brigham tried to impress us with his throwing prowess.

The hike back to the car was up a decent incline and it took it's toll more on some than others.

It was a fantastic afternoon, and the hiking kept my legs from getting too stiff or sore after the race.

We had a tree that died in our front yard. Our landlord said he was going to take the tree down, but months later it was still standing there. So, we had our friend who is an expert in tree removal, and he kindly agreed to help us take down the tree. He brought all his fancy equipment and we had fun playing as loggers as we removed the dead tree from the yard.

Jon let Brigham use his big equipment, and then he even let the kids play around on it for a little bit. Lydia and Ammon both drove the claw machine and were able to knock down wood in the tractor.

Now our yard is dead-tree free. I kind of miss the thing. It added character.

Our yard was gorgeous in June. The flowers started blooming and the grass was green with the sunshine finally breaking through all the rain and clouds.

We can't keep ourselves indoors and the kids have actually been spending time out back willingly.

Lydia and Ammon like to run through the sprinkler or put it under the tramp, and Kendrick was feeling left out. Thinking I found the perfect thing for him to do while the kids run through the sprinkler, we bought him a little pool. Unfortunately, the kid was terrified when I put him in a swim diaper, terrified of sunscreen (born and bred in WA), and afraid of his swimsuit. And then he refused to step foot in the pool. Lydia and Ammon spent hours playing in it while he just watched from the perimeter. As Lydia and Ammon moved on to the sprinkler, I finally got Kendrick to throw his balls into the pool, hold my finger and step in the water to throw the balls out, and then step back out to do it all over again. We're slowly discovering that he is not a fan of swimming.

And that's June. We are getting used to the sun again, running around growing up, and being crazy together.