Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Summer 2014 Camping Adventure

We wanted to go on a nice little adventure this summer without breaking the bank, a road trip that would satisfy our wanderlust but still accommodate our little ones.  We decided on a camping trip in one of Louisiana's majestic state parks, only a couple hours away from home but plenty of opportunities to explore and experience new things.  We rented a cabin deep in the woods, all the comforts of home for the babies but still rustic and simple. My aunt and uncle and cousins came with us, renting their own cabin close to ours. We had the whole park to ourselves for the first few days as most of the other campers didn't arrive until the weekend.  It was so quiet and peaceful, the landscape so beautiful it just took my breathe away every time I walked outside.

Brees and River stuck to their typical early bird schedules, waking up at dawn and begging to go outside as soon as they opened their eyes.  We had our breakfast on the screened in porch every morning, watching for squirrels and rabbits and birds.  There is no better medicine for a working mama's soul than getting to spend uninterrupted quality time with your babies for a full week of vacation.

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We rode our bikes to the lake and went fishing all afternoon, the kids scaring the fish off more than luring them in.  We spotted a family of alligators on the other side of the lake and a couple of snakes, too. 

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We cooled off at the splash pad that was just a short bike ride away from our cabin.  

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We went on lots of great hikes, from rough terrain to landscaped boardwalks through the swamp. Our kids were such troopers, putting in literally miles that week through every trail we brought them on.  I made scavenger hunts for them on the longer hikes to keep them busy and they had a blast finding all of the random things on my list: bullfrogs, alligator eggs (we actually found some!), various wildflowers...   It was the perfect way to let them burn off all their energy!

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The kids took epic naps thanks to all of the activity and the grown ups took a few naps, too.  A true luxury! I even read a book!  And Shawn and I got to spend some nice quiet time together on the porch, just talking and drinking tea and enjoying the peaceful surroundings.  It was so relaxing and rejuvenating.

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The older cousins watched the babies for us one afternoon so that Shawn, my aunt and uncle, and I could take Isabelle and Sarah on a canoe trip.  We paddled up the Tickfaw River for several hours, one of my favorite parts of the whole trip.  The girls were so happy to have us all to themselves, a little adventure to call their own.  We spotted tons of wildlife on that canoe trip, Louisiana swamp creatures around every turn.  

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River stuck with me on a bike trail that was a couple of miles longer than I had expected.  It was rough and tough and there were some places that I had to get off the bike and push us through fallen trees and muddy waters.  We made it, though, my little buddy and I.  He is such a trooper, smiling his way through our great outdoor adventure.


On the way home, after everything was all packed up and we reluctantly said goodbye to our week in the woods, Isabelle said, "I'm going to remember this for the rest of my life!".  And you know what?  She will. It was everything that childhood should be: simple, inspiring, and stimulating.  Days full of activity, nights spent talking around the fire.  Good quality family time with no distractions.  Funny moments we'll never forget like the very big and very brave raccoon who snuck onto our porch and tried to steal our s'mores.  Or teaching Brees how to pop a squat behind a tree right as a group of boyscouts hiked right past us.  Or Shawn getting chased by a bee as we tried to take this picture but not even flinching because he didn't want to have to take the picture AGAIN.


It was an incredible trip with lifelong memories made for our family and I am so thankful for the time we were able to spend together!


Monday, July 7, 2014

July the Fourth

This fourth of July was the first fourth of July holiday in a LONG time that no one in our family was working, pregnant, having surgery, etc (knocking on every piece of wood in sight).  We were home with a beautiful, relaxing long weekend ahead of us and decided to celebrate with a BBQ for our big family.  Even the weather was in our favor, gracing us Louisianians with some VERY abnormal July temperatures in the 80's, cool breeze and all.  Shawn and I made a big meal using the overabundance of veggies we've harvested from our garden this week: quinoa pasta salad with fresh basil and broccoli, tomatoes and cucumbers with a lemon and white vinegar dressing, veggie shish kabobs with peppers, squash, and zucchini, and, of course, good ole' fashioned hamburgers and hot dogs.  There was cantaloupe and watermelon for dessert and a red velvet birthday cake for my sweet aunt.  It was such a delicious summer meal out on the back patio, everyone talking and eating and relaxing.  I feel so very proud when I am able to serve such good food right from my backyard.  There is nothing more satisfying than spending a day in the kitchen and creating such a healthy, hard earned feast.

The kids swam and played the way that kids do in the late summer evenings.  My girls basically live in their swimsuits these days.  The babies crawled around in the grass and I was so thankful to get some good quality time in with my cousins.  We set up our chairs as soon as the sun went down and prepared for an epic fireworks display courtesy of Shawn and my uncle. They completely outdid themselves this year, shooting off one beautiful firework after another as we all cheered. The girls all danced through the yard with sparklers, Isabelle screaming, "Mom, we look like fairies!!!".  We ended the night with a game of darts that lasted until well after midnight, old country songs blasting on the stereo and my stomach hurting from laughing so hard.  It was a good time with good people, the kind of gathering that makes my heart happy and full.

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