Saturday, October 10, 2015

Adventuring and looking for treasure

We decided camping on fall break was a must. This time we committed to 3 nights and a farther distance from home. The kids were pumped and so excited for adventuring. That's what they call our outdoor trips. We picked Patoka Lake, it's a well kept park with the best campground we have stayed at. We camped there 6 years ago. I can't believe we didn't go back sooner. Oh, yeah, that was right before my thyroidectomy and a little thing called mono, that completely kicked my butt. Then there were the 2 babies, 16 months apart and then Laynee. When I look at my list of 12 Things Camping Made Me Realize, I see I've come a long way in my roughin' it skills, but camping with pregnancy doesn't make that list of personal growth.
Camping is exhausting enough when I'm healthy. Sleeping on an air mattress while dealing with anemia, insomnia or out of whack thyroid is not for me. I'm thankful I am healthy enough to go camping and not lose my mind to the exhaustion.
We enjoyed our time away from the house, the TV and wi-fi so much, there really is nothing like it. It's pretty awesome to truly spend time together. Of course, vacationing anywhere with 6 kids isn't very restful. That is not the definition of a family vacation for us in this season of life. Spending time as a family doing things our kids enjoy is what it's all about. Thankfully our kids are easy to please. They just love being outside and whittling a stick, looking for treasures, taking hikes, exploring little pathways, playing on playgrounds, climbing trees and sleeping in tents.

The nights were a little cold, in the low 50's. I was constantly worried one of the little ones needed covered up. They didn't sleep the best either. One night Brady woke up wanting a drink and Joe and I told him no, this was when there were raccoons outside. I was worried our talking and his crying for a drink was going to make them mad, that happened when we stayed there 6 years ago. He wouldn't stop crying and so finally I got up and angerly told him, "FINE! I'll get you a drink, but there are raccoons out there! Mommy might get eaten by a raccoon! I guess you don't care if Mommy gets eaten by a raccoon?!" He just said, "Okay." and immediately stopped the tears. It was funny the next morning. 
There were raccoons prowling around every night as soon as we went to bed. They woke me up multiple times. One night we had a skunk brush up against our tent, we didn't see him, but we all smelt him. That was a little unnerving, especially when Joe thought it was a raccoon and was trying to scare him off by beating on the tent and yelling at him. Thankfully, he moved on and took his scent with him.
We took a short hike on a trail that led from our campsite to the lake. Anne liked being the leader, she had fallen a couple of times on the hike. So when we led the way, we would call out "hole" or "thorns" to warn others about what was ahead. When Anne was leading she walked right into a big hole and stopped, paused, then yelled, "HOLE!" It was cute and just like Anne.
Brady was being goofy and named this tree Granddaddy Long Legs. He was talking to the tree and pretending the tree was talking to him.
Laynee didn't spend as much time in her highchair as last time because my mom came camping with us and was an extra set of hands to hold her or help us. She also put up this swing. Bethany found it in the back of our van and suggested hanging it up and it was hours of fun for Laynee, Anne and Brady.
The older kids were obsessed with this tire swing. Joe pushed them and spun them for a looong time, and they just kept calling and screaming for more. They said it was better than Holiday World. When they finally got off, they were all sick with headaches and bellyaches. The next day they begged to go back and do it again, so we did. Crazzzies!
I just treasure these days when a playground is something they can all enjoy for hours. Laynee loved sitting on the slide and climbing up the stairs.
The second day we were there, Laynee had had enough of being held and contained. She was dying to get down and crawl. We let her go and she loved playing with leaves and nuts, we just had to let her get dirty. Oh, the layers of dirt when camping.
The only issue we had was when Joseph was trying to fish, she crawled off the blanket and ate a small piece of a white mushroom. We didn't have any cell coverage to google whether it was poisonous or not. I wasn't overly concerned about it because I didn't feel there was much I could do, so I just prayed and told God I trusted Him to take care of her. It was a couple of hours before we made it to the nature center and asked the ranger if she could help us identify a mushroom I had picked like it. She felt that it wasn't from a poisonous family and said she would've already had a reaction if she was going to have one. Shew and thanks God!
Surprisingly, Laynee absolutely loved playing in the sandy, rocky beach. I had no intention of putting her down, but she was dying to get down and off she went. My mom brought kayaks, Anne called them Catty-kacks. The older kids like paddling around in them, the little kids were in love with digging on the beach. I was completely unprepared for all that sand, but it was probably their favorite part of the trip.
We haven't seen Anne so energetic and active, ever. She kept running in and out of the water. All three of the littles just had a blast. I don't know how I got all the sand off of them, but I did and I'm glad it's over. It was worth it to see how happy they were and I have so many favorite pictures because their faces were full of pure joy, no requesting smiles.
I don't know what it is with us and turtles but we find them often. Jenna found this little guy and it's funny because we found a turtle the last time we camped at Patoka Lake. He was very brave and didn't hide in his shell despite all our crazy, loud kids. Any other moms wish they had a shell?! Jenna followed him around the campsite and carried him around for the morning.
The trees were just starting to turn and the weather was beautiful. Our campsite was perfect, it was shaded and had this gorgeious little path that led to the bath house.
All that Brady wanted to do at the campsite was go looking for treasures. He found so much happiness looking for bottle tops, glass bottles and odds and ends.
The campground was practically empty and the section we stayed in, we had to ourselves. It was nice because the kids could explore and roam pretty far but we could either see or hear them. They scavenged and collected all sorts of things.
If you ever go to Patoka Lake, you have to walk to the marina and feed the fish. They are huge and so fun to see.
Camping in a tent for 3 nights may be our limit. I was feeling pretty tired and old, after 3 nights on an air mattress. It was nice to get a hot bath and sleep in our bed. Evenso, it was bittersweet coming home because you just don't make these kinds of memories often enough.
We were so close we decided we had to drive to French Lick and see what was there. We had a picnic on the lawn of West Baden.
We were completely underdressed and smelled like campfire smoke but we went in to have a look around anyway. We may have made idiots of ourselves, overly enjoying the super comfy chairs. After 4 days in camp chairs, we were a little impressed.
To say that it's beautiful, that's not even the beginning.
I'm grateful and overwhelmed that we get to live this life and make these simple memories with our kids, with each other and my mom. God gives me far more than I deserve. It's hard to treasure it all, but oh, how I try!

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