Sunday, June 15, 2014

1st Father's Day

Dear Daddy,
You are teaching me so much.
One day, maybe I'll be able to build and fix things like you.
 One day, maybe I'll play sports like you. 
 One day, maybe I'll be able to cook and barbeque like you.

While I don't know what I'll be or what I'll do when I grow up.
I'm thankful that you are my daddy and that you love me no matter what!
Love, Aaron

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Roadtripping & Camping with a Baby Part 2

We survived a major camping trip that included 1700 miles of travel, 3 camping locations, 3 states, and 5 nights away. This trip took a lot more organization than our previous camping excursion, but it went much more smoothly! Hopefully, our experiences encourage you to be adventurous with your family. It's ok if things don't go perfectly. Both of our trips had plenty of hiccups, even with lots of planning. But we came away with memories that will be foundational to our family.
Tips for long drives and camping with a baby: 
  • Take breaks. Our goal was to try to drive in 3-hour increments before stopping, but being flexible to follow baby's lead in case he needed a stop sooner than that.
  • Pack lunches and snacks for the drive. I made sandwiches for every driving day and portioned ziplocks of chips, fruit, and drinks for us. We also had snacks and meals ready to go for Aaron.
  • Take advantage of community parks on the drive. We used our map app during our drive to find parks along our route. You can find yelp reviews and photos for most parks which can help to ensure that you are finding the correct kind of park (not a business park and in a safe area) and that it has the correct equipment (i.e. slide, bucket swings). It's also a fun adventure! We discovered some really special communities on our drive, like Dunsmuir, CA.
  • Know your baby's limits. Aaron's daily driving limit is about 7 hours  (not including stops). It was painful for all of us when we pushed it to 8 hours. Plan accordingly.
  • Be flexible!!! We booked a stay in a yurt in beautiful Harris Beach State Park on the Oregon coast. However, when we took our playground break in Medford, OR, it was abundantly clear that the 2.5 more hours of driving to get there was going to be a nightmare for all of us. Not to mention the extra 2.5 hours we would have to spend returning to the I-5 to resume our travels to WA. So we forfeited the $50 for that stay and drove to another campsite that had yurts 30 minutes away. When baby's happiness and comfort come first, the whole family is happier!
  • Yurts/Cabins are an easy alternative to tent camping. We just brought some sheets and settled in for the night. It felt so relaxing! Oregon State Parks have the most amazing website to find campgrounds that have yurts, cabins, and even teepees.
  • Storage drawers for kitchen supplies. This was an idea we found on Pinterest. It was so much better than digging through a deep tub of supplies.
  • Make a detailed menu plan that includes all meals and snacks for baby. We also wrote all the ingredients for every meal so that we forget anything before we left home.
 Meals for babies included: pureed chicken soup, yogurt, mashed banana, applesauce, cheese, pear pieces
  • Storage containers for baby food. The OXO containers for baby food that I had prepped ahead of time were perfect!
  • Baby fence for a safe play area. This was helpful for making sure our crawler didn't go too far. I will say that it works best with a baby who can play alone or with 2 or more little ones.
  • Foam tiles for a play area in the tent and for a cushioned walkway. We had a lot of roots and rocks in our campsite, so the extra cushioning was helpful.
  • Tent big enough for a pack n play and our air mattress. This made camping so much more comfortable! We were able to put Aaron to bed at his usual bedtime then enjoy some adult time by the fire.
  • Dressing baby warmly for sleeping through 50* nights. We put Aaron in fleece pajamas and a beanie to sleep, laid him on top of his lambskin, and covered him with 2 light baby blankets. Even when we were cold under our 2 heavy blankets and sleeping bag, he slept like a rock all night long!
  • Toys, toys, toys. We brought lots of toys to provide some distraction during the drive and some entertainment at the campsite. New toys also help provide more interest. I can't believe how many toys we crammed in the car, but I was glad we took them all!
  • Baths for baby in a storage tub.

  • Put the phone away. Getting pictures is great, but sometimes the camera gets in the way of the moment. I wish I had left mine in the tent more often.
  • Adapt and go with the flow. It seems self-explanatory, but when it starts raining or equipment isn't working, it gets really tough to stay focused on the big picture. If everyone can still be fed, sleep, and enjoy themselves, it's going to be fine. For example, we rented a cargo box to go on top of our car, but after our time tent camping with family, it wouldn't open at our next stop. Our tent, camp chairs, pack n play, sleeping bag, extra warm blankets, and astro turf were trapped. Fortunately, our next camping stay was in a yurt so we were done with the tent. We were really bummed to be without the sleeping bag and blankets, but especially anxious about missing the pack n play. While I happened to have a spare blanket in my bag, we had to get more creative to put together Aaron's sleeping arrangement. We took the twin mattress provided in the yurt, put it on the floor, put down blankets, then created a rectangle around the mattress with the baby fence. Ingenuity at its finest!
It was such a special weekend of good conversations with Brandon on the long drives and memories of experiences the 3 of us shared over the weekend. On the last night I was putting Aaron to bed and I took a few extra minutes to hold him as I realized how quickly time has passed. Our family will have more adventures, but we will never have that same experience again.

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