In addition to the trips with Ryan's family (and in between the dailiness of chores, Ryan's work, and everyday life) we went on a lot of family adventures this summer. It helps me to actually schedule "fun" on my calendar (yes, I have a category for "weekly fun" on my to-do list) or else I get caught up in projects and household tasks. Early in the summer, I made a sheet of ideas for day trips, fun with friends, and date nights, and I'm happy to report that we did most of it.
There is no one I would rather adventure with than Ryan and the kids, and I find that I feel so much closer to them when we are out in nature. I guess it makes sense: it is much more bonding to walk through a pine forest together or look at the stars around a campfire than it is to pick up toys, do dishes, and work on jobs around the house! (Though we do have some wonderful and special moments in our home, of course.)
It is always so hard to get out the door for any sort of family adventure, and I often feel like saying, "Oh let's just forget it!" when everyone is melting down and crabby with each other before we've even left--but I almost never regret making our adventures happen once we get there. Notice that I said *almost* never. ;)
We camped three times this summer: once in our backyard and twice in the wilds of nature (okay, so we consider "the wilds of nature" to be forest service sites with our minivan parked 10 feet away--but hey, it's better than nothing!).
I must point out that it never rains in Idaho--except when the Nielsons go camping. Truly. I must also point out that the Nielsons are morons for pressing on with our camping plans despite rain in the forecast. Don't ask why we did this not once but twice this summer. It's just so hard to change the plan when we are all packed up and excited to go. (I have learned my lesson, and in the future, I will flat-out refuse to go on a camping trip if there is a high chance of rain. Hold me to it, please.)
The first time we camped in the rain, it actually ended up being quite fun. We roasted hot dogs in the midst of the downpour with our umbrellas, and then the rain stopped so we made s'mores and enjoyed time around the fire in the nice cool weather.
Sally had a hard time in the middle of the night, and I couldn't get comfortable on my lame camping pad anyway, so she and I ended up sleeping in the van, but all-in-all, it turned out to be a pretty great camping trip, and she sure enjoyed playing in the tent, eating her first s'more, and lounging around the fire in the morning.
It is amazing how happy Noah is when we are camping. He skips around and hums and talks a mile a minute, and he doesn't seem to notice the rain, cold, or any other inconveniences. I should take a page from his book!
The highlight of that second rainy camping trip was definitely trying out my new two-person sleeping bag and air mattress. After I ended up sleeping in the van earlier in the summer, I took matters into my own hands and ordered a highly rated camping mattress and a truly ginormous sleeping bag so that Ryan and I could snuggle and keep warm on our camping adventures. This sleeping bag is a complete beast, but soooo comfy and worth every penny, in my opinion! (Noah only got to come in for the picture--and at 5 a.m. when he was cold.)
The backyard campout was uneventful. We got out our firepit, pitched our tent, and after s'mores and stories, Sal and I slept in the house. (Insert thumbs-up emoji here.)
And then there is the dailiness of life, which can be just as precious as the outings. I love these kiddos of mine. I feel like this post makes my life look like it's all fun and games, which it isn't--I have plenty of extremely mundane and frustrating days at home trying to manage these little ones and plenty of meltdowns and moments when I totally lose my temper--but I do know how beautiful my life is, and I try to savor the best moments and let the harder moments pass by without dwelling on them too much. (Easier said than done, but I am consistently trying!)
Even in the midst of the mayhem, the everyday moments of motherhood are pretty priceless:
From camping trips, exciting hikes, and family outings to bedtime stories, chaotic trips to the grocery store, food-smeared faces, and groggy morning snuggles--there's no doubt about it: motherhood is the best adventure I've been on to date. I'm grateful to my crew for taking the journey with me!