As you can see, camping tuckers you out. That's the way I felt after 3 days of camping, even though we had a lot of fun. The weather was gorgeous, with highs in the mid to upper 70s. It wasn't so cool at night that we were cold in our sleeping bags, nor was it so hot that we were sweating while we were hiking.
We went to Backbone State Park in Northeast Iowa. We've never been to this park, and it was simply beautiful. It had fantastic views and scenery to look at all around the park. One trail we went on had all these limestone formations sticking up out of the ground. We had fun climbing up on them and looking across hills and ravines. Some people even go rappelling down the cliffs near this trail.
The kids had a BLAST. They couldn't stop talking about it for days when we got home. The hiking was a favorite, even by some who complained about having to go beforehand. In the picture above, all four kids are standing in front of a massive tree that fell down and uprooted itself some time long before we were there.
My stepdaughter took some of the pictures. She is in her 'diagonal artsy' period. Blake did pretty well with the camping too. To be honest, I was kind of worried about taking a 6-month old baby on a camping trip. It would be hard for him to nap, it would be difficult to make his bottles, we wouldn't have all his toys and devices from home. Somehow though, with some planning, it worked out. I was so glad my Mei Tai wrap came before we left. I put Blake in it many times during the three days, especially when we were hiking. He actually fell asleep on our two hikes, after looking around in amazement at all the trees and nature. I had to pull a towel between him and my shirt, to keep him from spitting up all over me.
This was the view down through two rocks. This wasn't the actual trail, more of a side shoot down to a scenic view. I went part of the way down, and then stopped and came back up. Leaning forward and climbing down slippery, steep trails is difficult when you have a 20 lb. infant strapped to your chest. Climbing up was not so bad, but down made me nervous.
Dale took a picture of our campsite. You can see we had two tents, a girls' tent and a boys' tent. Except Blake, he slept in the girls' tent. We brought his pack and play for him to sleep in, since our tents are so big. We loved the site. It was only a short walk to the bathroom and shower house, and we could see the playground from our campfire. A paved road wound around us, so the kids could ride their scooters and skateboards. (Dad did a little skateboarding as well. He is pretty good, I must say).
The park had many interesting features, such as a cave large enough to walk around inside.
There were also springs that bubbled up in a clear, beautiful pool. A sign informed us that the springs were a consistent 48 degrees year round. We confirmed that the water was indeed cold! We took off our shoes and tried walking across it. The limestone rock pieces were sharp though and they were hard on our feet.
Dad is here showing that he can wear the baby AND conquer the stream.
Some of the best times were just chilling out around the campsite. We put Blake's blanket inside the screen porch to protect him from bugs while he was stretching out and playing. The sun was just up over the trees in the picture. I kept thinking a baby couldn't have a more beautiful place to play than laying in this morning light.
The kids loved roasting their own foods on a stick over the fire. We let them eat as many hot dogs as they wanted for dinner the first night. This was followed by eating as many marshmallows as they wanted a short while later. We didn't get any complaints when it was time to go to bed while we were camping. We ate well, worked hard and played hard. Like I said, camping tuckers you out.
You know in your logical mind that a baby is going to take over your life for quite a while. Saying that, and thinking you know that, is NOT the same as living it. For example, Blake had his 6-month birthday 2 days ago, and this is the first time I have ever did a blog post with him in it. I was thinking about my blog, and how long it had been since I posted, and I really couldn't believe it had been that long. I have been too busy to even blog once for 6 months.
So being that he has reached his half-year birthday, I'd like to officially welcome Blake Montgomery Erickson to my blog.
We have been expecting a tooth for a while now. He has been showing all the classic symptoms: excessive drooling, ear pulling, slight fever, etc. Right before we left to go camping this week, I finally felt it, a sharp ridge poking up through his bottom gum. Now we had a reason to break out this festive "Yay! My first tooth!" onesie.
I tried to get a picture of his tooth, but this was the best I could do. He is difficult enough to get a picture of in the first place, he moves so much. When I was trying to photograph his tooth, I got a surprise. TWO TEETH. Side by side on the bottom. Evidently he is taking after his brother, who lost all his baby teeth in two's.
He is also nearly ready to crawl. It is going to happen any day now. When I look back on his first year, I will remember how many milestones he hit right around his 6-month birthday.
When you have a large family, I'm noticing, everything pretty much runs in a state of barely-controlled chaos. Several years ago, I laughed when I watched the movie "Yours, Mine, and Ours". In case you aren't familiar with the film, it is about a couple that finds each other midlife and falls in love, but they don't know that they each already have like 6 kids apiece. They get married and blend their households, and because it is a romantic comedy of sorts, much drama and hilarity ensues. Now that I'm living a mini-version of that, it doesn't seem quite so hilarious. I find myself thinking of certain scenes, and nodding sympathetically to myself.
However, with a little (by that I mean, a LOT) of organization, and some planning...you can keep things running smoothly. Most of the time. There are days, especially lately, with the master planner in an advanced state of pregnancy, that things get a little crazy.
Sometimes you just have to let things go a little, and let kids be kids. One such occasion was the tinseling of the downstairs Christmas tree. This year we have two Christmas trees. Since we combined our households this year, we ended up with two of them. My husband asked which one we were going to get rid of, back in September. I looked at him and said, "We can't get rid of either one of them yet.." He paused, and carefully asked, "Why not?" I said, "Because, I don't know which one I like better. What if I throw the nicer one out? We have to wait, and put them both up, so I can decide which one I like the best." My husband is an intelligent man, and said, "oo-kay," and we went on with our sorting.
Another situation that came up with the blending of our households was the mingling of various holiday traditions. In my husband's family, they love to cover the tree with enough tinsel to bury it. The thought of this sets my anxieties off for several reasons. One, when you are OCD neurotic like me, tinsel is a very threatening item. It falls off the tree, ends up everywhere, and gradually works its way into every corner of your house. Two, when I grew up, my mother choked the tree with tinsel and garland, to the point that you couldn't see any green. My father really didn't care for this, so I grew up with the idea that tinsel was "too much".
I am willing to compromise though, so we just put a 'little' tinsel on the upstairs tree. The upstairs tree was my tree formerly, and we decorated it with blue, white, silver, shimmery decorations for the most part. It is beautiful, I think. The kids were THRILLED to decorate the tree. I told my husband that I had more than enough ornaments to decorate two trees, and I was right. The kids helped me bring up all the shoe boxes of ornaments I have collected over my life. Many are childhood ornaments my mother sent to me when I was an adult. Many others are ones I bought myself or as gifts for my son as he has grown.
I am usually a more active participant in the tree decorating, but I was content this year to sit and rest in a chair, and hand ornaments to all the kids. My son was really excited to show off his personal ornaments to the other kids. I know in the next year or so, we will add a lot of new ones...because next Christmas we will have an almost 1-year old. Even though baby will be almost 1, it will still be 'Baby's First Christmas'.
So, the downstairs tree was my husband's tree formerly, and he wanted to have colored lights on that tree. My Christmas light selection is not that great, a lot of the strings I have are really old, and not in a good way. I did find some funky pastel-colored lights with white strings though, and decided to try them on his already white prelit tree.
A couple bulbs were out, and we replaced them with flasher bulbs, which made certain sections of the tree flash spastically. My husband and his kids then commenced putting tinsel on the tree in big silvery handfuls. They ran out of tinsel before they would have been done, I think. The effect was rather retro though. It had a certain 1950s look to it by the time we finished.
My husband wanted to take this picture of me, to document how big my belly has become. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have officially crossed over into 'ginormus'. This is the only picture I could stand, out of all the ones he took. We still have about a month and a half to go, according to the doctor, though I know I don't look it.
This is how the two trees ended up...icy blue and silver....
and retro colored lights. What do you think...which one do you like better?