Thursday, February 2, 2017

Camping with little kids

Spring is coming soon and that means camping season is coming soon! Why you can camp now if you like winter/cold camping! In our family, we like to camp in the spring/summer/fall. This blog post has been requested by several friends. How do we do camping with little kids? I will be sharing about our experiences so far, lessons we've learned, and realistic expectations when you're camping with kids under the age of 5 yrs. old.

Camping with little be camping with little kids. If you're not sure what I mean by car camping, well it's where you park your car next to where you have your tent. So...camping with little kids (specifically under the age of 5 years old)..let me say is fun, adventurous, and tiring (gotta keep it real here).

Dave introduced me to camping when we started dating and I was hooked! We love spending our time out in nature! Camping is so great because you're literally out in the woods at probably a national or state park and unplugged (no cell phone or laptop!). All you can do is hangout, eat, hike, build a campfire, make smores (cuz you always have to have smores during camping!), play games, read, etc. All the things you would do if you didn't have a TV, computer, laptop, or a cell phone! You get my point.

So, when we had our first daughter J, we decided to take her on our annual OSG (old small group) camping trip every year in August 2013. J was 1 yrs old when we took to Yosemite National Park Tuolumne Meadows for camping and I was pregnant with my 2nd! Were we nervous taking her camping so far away? YES! Was I crazy to be camping with a 1yr old AND dealing with morning sickness? Double YES!  But in the end, it was a great experience and we learned a lot about camping with a little kid/toddler!

So, since then, we have gone on a total 6 camping trips with our daughters (both under the age of 4 yrs. old currently). 2 of  those camping trips have been by ourselves (just the 4 of us) and the others have been with friends.  So....after 6 camping trips and more to come in the future, there's a lot to share! Let's break it down...

Best things about camping with little toddlers
  1. Everything is an adventure for them! It's so much fun watching them have a blast being out in nature and just exploring!
  2.  Making smores with them. Yes, you gotta watch them cuz there's fire but it's super fun watching them turn the marshmallow with you over the campfire and who doesn't love eating a roasted marshmallow?!
  3. Teaching them how to use flashlights or headlamps at night. Kids love flashlights and it's even more fun when they have their own kid headlamp! 
  4. Eating outdoors for every meal, it's like a picnic all the time! 
  5. Playing outdoors ALL day long. Seriously camping is the best excuse to unplug, get dirty, and just PLAY with your kiddos with no time constraints! 
  6. Eating fun snacks that we normally don't eat at home. Camping is an excuse to eat special fun snacks. 
  7. Dedicated FAMILY TIME!
Lessons we've learned along the way
  1. Be Flexible: We've learned that we have to let go of how we usually do things at home and be flexible with kids in terms of "naps", foods that they eat during camping, bedtime, etc. 
  2. Bring lots of snacks! Seriously, camping is an excuse to eat whatever you want cuz you can hike it off! ;)
  3. Plan easy meals that are kid friendly and easy to make or make ahead of time and just heat it up over the campfire or the camp stove! 
  4. Have a big enough tent so that if the kids want to play in the tent, they can! OR.. bring along a play tent for them!
  5. Sometimes it helps to bring fun simple activities for the kids to do: making necklaces, coloring, find a rock and make a pet rock, go on a scavenger hunt, bubbles, glow sticks (kids love these!)
  6. Even though Dave and I love to just camp with our own 2 kids, we also appreciate and absolutely love camping with our friends (the kids end up playing all together!)
  7. Headlamps for kids!! Dave just found these for the girls this year and it's so much easier than having them hold a flashlight. We got the froggy headlamp for our girls.
  8. Setting up camp (the tent, chairs, putting things away in the food/bear bins, etc.) is hard with toddlers. We've tried giving them activities to do in the car while still strapped in their carseat, we've tried sitting them down in their camp chairs with an activity, we've tried letting them just run around the campsite (which was a crazy idea and drove us nuts but at least they had fun), we still are trying to figure out this part to be honest. 
  9. Hiking - start off small! Sometimes, it's easier to do hiking with other families and friends but we certainly enjoy hiking just as a family too!
Really..what's it going to be like?
Camping with kids is probably one of the best things ever to do as a family (in my humble opinion)! Lots of great memories and conversations happen during camping and I look forward to the camping every year! So with that said, I am going to be honest here. Even though camping is fun and memorable, it is a lot of work and it's tiring all at the same time. Yes, your kids might be a wreck the first night sleeping in the tent, but trust me..the 2nd night is better! Yes, sometimes you end up carrying your 4 year old for most of the hike and that's ok because you're going on an adventure together! Yes, you might get paranoid about whether your child has touched poison oak or wonder how the heck did they get covered in all that dirt! And so my friends..that's the beauty and fun of camping! Stay tuned because there's some exciting news we will be sharing about what's next for our family!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Dear Future President Trump....

For those of you who are reading this, I'm gonna put a disclaimer here because I know that it is human nature for everyone to respectfully have their own opinions and thoughts. I, along with many others in this nation and around me are still grappling with the election results. I am still processing it myself and trying to understand what is happening around me. I myself resonate with all the feelings that everyone is displaying and sharing. I am a SAHM and I guess I title myself "naive" sometimes because I refuse to watch or listen to the NEWS ALL THE TIME or even social media like FB.  So call me "naive" or judge but this is me. I like to write what I'm thinking and it helps me get it out of my head. From what I've read and seen on the news and social media, I really appreciate those who are speaking words of love, unity, and acceptance. Yes, we all are grieving and we all grieve for different lengths of time. But ultimately I believe that God has more for us. I believe that the energy that I spend on grieiving can be used for prayer and being open to hearing from God. I believe that there is hope in Him and His power to bring good from something that seems so dark. This is me and how I deal. God is Here and has always been. I hold onto hope that God is at work and that He is in control. And so, I wrote a letter to our future President because hatred and anger will not overcome me and intoxicate me. Instead I will use my energy to pray for our future leader because that is all I feel that I can do to help me through this time that seems so despair and downright depressing.  So where there is darkness, there is also light. Where there is evil, there is also good.  Let me love just as God loves me.

Dear Future President Trump,

I am not writing this in hopes of you seeing this letter but I am writing this as a way for me to help me process all that is happening around me. First off, I didn't vote for you but I am not writing to tell you why I didn't vote for you. However, a majority of the people of this nation voted for you and I am left wondering and trying to understand this other view of our nation that I clearly was blinded by. Because it all honesty, I was very surprised and am still in shock that you are to be our nation's future leader. What pains me even more is seeing how much this your election win has affected so many people on both sides. It has brought out the worst in people such as racial discrimination, it has brought out fear because the nation that people thought they knew is now in question, it has brought out anger that has caused a divide between the people of our nation.

BUT..and I write this again in all capital letters..BUT..your election win has brought forth good. I know that's hard to believe, especially coming from a person who didn't vote for you. It has caused people to be courageous and brave to fight for what is right. It has brought people to come together to stand with each other. It has brought us to the point where we realize we have so much more to work on as a nation. It has brought people to try to understand how we got here as a nation (trying to understand those that supported you). It has enabled people to speak words of love, unity, peace, and acceptance as an encouragement to those around them. It has brought people closer to their faith in prayer and in worship because in a time of uncertainty and fear, the one thing that is constant is people's faith in the Almighty God.

But for you President Trump, as much as I am still processing and grieving for what has happened because it's not what I voted for and wanted, I am still going to pray for you. And so here is my prayer for you and for our nation.

Dear Heavenly Father,

You are the God of all the nations, You are the God of Heaven and Earth. You created us and all that is around us. You are the one that knows what is best for us and leads us. You are always walking alongside us as You have been and are doing so now. Lord, you have heard the cries of disappointment, anger, fear, sadness AND you have heard the shouts of joys, celebration, and relief. I thank you that You hear them all and you take the dark feelings off the shoulders of those who are feeling them and you bear it on Yourself because it is sometimes too much to bear on our own. You love ALL of us despite our sins.  We can not understand the ways of this world and why things happen the way they do but what we do know is that You are the one who is in control and that all things happen according to Your plan. So for this moment in history, this season that this nation is in, I pray that you help us walk through it and into a place of healing and confidence in You, that You ARE HERE in the midst of this divided time. 

And now for you, future President Trump, I pray that God will mold you and surround you with people filled with empathy and the gift of doing good for ALL people in this nation. I pray that your heart and mind will be open and accepting of all the differences that make this nation what it is today. I pray that God will use you to do GOOD and GREAT things that is for ALL the people of this nation. I pray that God will use You for His purposes because He has gifted you with a great gift of power as leader of this nation. I pray that God will give you discernment, the ability to extend grace, mercy, and forgiveness. I pray that God will give you words that will speak of love, unity, peace, and acceptance. Ultimately, I pray that God will be YOUR LEADER during your term as President. 

And so I thank you Lord for hearing our prayers and that You are working among us and through us. May we each (in our own time) find that place and space to rest in Your presence, consoled by the very truth that You oh Lord are in control and are here with us. 


Thank you for reading with grace and understanding. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

"Is it my birthday yet?"

J: " Is it my birthday yet?"
Me: "No, it's March baby, do you remember when your birthday is?"
J: " Yes, it's August 3rd."
Me: "Yes, so that means your birthday is not for awhile."
(We have had this conversation almost every month until today!)

Today was our oldest daughter's birthday! I am still in disbelief that she's 4 already! When people say "they grow up fast", they weren't kidding. It's so much fun watching her grow up and all the new things she's learning and discovering about herself as a person. So for her 4th birthday, we kept it pretty low key, basically no big birthday bash but we still wanted to do a few special things for her. This girl has been asking when is August 3rd for like the past couple of months. Well, actually, ever since her sister had her birthday party back in February! So for celebration, we just did a small Hawaiian luncheon with our small group community, a dinner with her grandparents and uncle, a day at Happy Hollow with our playgroup friends, making a birthday necklace with beads, special decorations in the house on the morning of her birthday, a special snack celebration at her preschool, and to end it all..a special shopping trip to pick out a new dress (She LOVES dresses right now). Okay, that sounded like a lot of things to celebrate her birthday but I think she enjoyed all of it because it was FINALLY her birthday! She's super excited to be 4 years old!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Thankful Tuesday!

Well hello Thankful Tuesday! Somehow my "Thankful Tuesdays" dropped off the radar and my motivation to blog about what I'm thankful was not there (aka..I got lazy..just being real here). So..I'm back at it again! I'm gonna take us back to the 4th of July weekend which was filled with hanging out with family and friends. We ate a ton, hung out a lot, laughed, and just enjoyed each other's company! So today for this Thankful Tuesday, I am blogging about my small group community at The River Church. I am very thankful for this family group and I love seeing how our kids are growing up with each other. During the 4th of July weekend, we gathered together to do our annual July 4th BBQ. It was fun to just sit around the table eating, chatting, and listening to the kids run around and play. I love moments like these where there's no rush to be anywhere or do anything. Just sit and enjoy each other's company. Dave and I have known most of these people for several years now (almost 10 years for some!) and we have seen each other through life's greatest and challenging moments. We've seen our families grow and it's fun to see our kids growing up together in this season of our lives. So thankful for this group and the community we are building with each other.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Family Tradition: #familyselfies

Long before we had kids, our good friends Elaine and Clement thoughtfully gifted us a book called "The Book of New Family Traditions: How to Create Great Rituals for Holidays and Every Day" by Meg Cox.  I love having this book on my shelf as good reference for ideas aside from Pinterest (because sometimes I just want to look at a book instead of a screen) ;) Anyways, it gives great ideas for every holiday, birthdays, special moments that happen in life (first day of school, graduation, etc.), and everyday rituals (chores, homework, etc.). Here's the link to the book which you can get on Amazon!

We never really put this book to use until we had kids and I've been finding myself thinking about family traditions for our to remember as they grow up. So the first family tradition that we've really had and was started by Dave is family selfies. 

When I went back to work part-time after having our first daughter, Dave had the responsibility of taking her to daycare every morning since I had to be at work by 7:30am. It always broke my heart to leave in the morning without seeing her because she was sleeping. So, Dave's genius idea was to send me a selfie of him and her in the morning! 
Love these 2 and look how young my oldest looks! 

Love the funny face selfies too!
These selfies always made my morning and reminded me of how blessed I am! So now that I am at home with the girls and Dave goes to work early in the morning before they wake up, I get to continue the family tradition with morning family selfies!

What are your family traditions? Would love to hear about different things that other families do! #familytraditions #familyselfies

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Fishing Fun!

Hope everyone had a great Fourth of July weekend! It was a fun filled weekend for us! We started the weekend off with a fishing adventure with some good friends and their little girls! First time fishing for us and it was a lot of fun! We fished at Vasona Lake and turns out there are 2 days in the year where you can go fishing without a fishing license! So, we gave it a go and my "let's try new things attitude" hubby (Dave) got everything organized and ready for us to try fishing at the lake. So what did we get for our girls to go fishing? We found these 2 cute Frozen fishing poles which you can get on Amazon. I've included the link below. They were just the right size for my preschooler and toddler. Tip: before we actually went fishing, Dave had the girls practice casting and reeling in the fishing line out on our front lawn and let's just say we QUICKLY realized that the girls could only do 2 things: hold the fishing pole and reel in the line. did we do? I looked on my camera for some pictures and turns out we didn't take any pictures because honestly we were occupied with casting the fishing line for them into the lake, giving them the fishing pole to hold, teaching them to count to 10 as a lesson for waiting while fishing, and making sure they didn't fall into the lake while standing on the pier or on the lakeshore. Yes, that is what fishing is like with a preschooler and a toddler. Did we catch anything? NO. Did Dave or I get to use our own fishing poles? NO. Was it a successful first attempt at fishing with the kids? YES! Despite not having caught anything and we only did it for an hour, it was still a fun experience as a family and even more fun because we were in good company with our friends and their little girls!

After the fishing fun, we had ourselves a little picnic and then randomly decided to go pedal boating on the lake! Say what? Yes..pedal boating with a preschooler and a toddler IN. THE. LAKE. It's okay, they wore life vests. Was I worried about them falling in? Why of course! But, hey it's 4th of July weekend, we already tried something new earlier called fishing, and we had our friends who were going to do pedal boating too, so...why not? ;) I have to say..little kids with big life jackets on are the cutest thing!!

Pedal Boating on Vasona Lake!
Tip: place the little kid in the middle between the 2 adults OR place the 2 little kids in front with one adult pedaling!

Here is the link to the Frozen fishing poles that are perfect for little kids!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


To all the #FWM (full-time working moms), I applaud you! As I stated in an earlier post, whether you're a FWM or a SAHM, they both have its challenges and benefits. So, I'd like to share with you my thoughts about being a FWM when I did it during the school year of 2014-2015 (wow that seems a looong time ago!).

2014-2015 school year. Here's a little background before I share my thoughts:
  • I decided to go back to full-time teaching after my 2 year job-sharing ended. I wanted to see if I could handle working full-time as well as being a mom of 2 young kids (plus I wasn't ready to be a SAHM just yet or more like if I wanted to be a SAHM at the time).
  • My girls were 6 months old and 2 years old when I became a FWM. 

  • After teaching 2nd grade for 9 years, I was moved to 1st grade and into a new classroom. Both moves were difficult at first but I'm very glad to have been with an amazing supportive team and an awesome classroom neighbor. 
  • Halfway through the school year, my husband and I moved out of our house and into my parents' house because we decided to do some remodeling in our home. 
So now that you know the background, here are some of my thoughts about being a FWM and also what things helped me stay sane. =)  ** I understand that being a FWM is sometimes a choice that moms make and sometimes it is a financial necessity for the family. Either way, these thoughts are from my own experience and for me it was a mix of a choice and a financial necessity to be a FWM. 

It was hard...
2014-2015 school year was the hardest year for me. I struggled a lot with "doing it all" and "doing it well". I'm a Type A person that likes things organized, neat, done, and "having all my ducks in a row". I'm a planner and a part of me is a perfectionist. So you can imagine that teaching, taking care of my girls, husband and the home was quite overwhelming. Throw in a remodel and teaching a new grade level put the whole situation over the top for me. Guys..the STRUGGLE WAS REAL!! I'm not going to lie...I had a few meltdowns throughout the year. 2014-2015 was the year of SURVIVAL! I wanted to do it all and do it well. 

Taking a step back..
I remember asking my FWM friends how they did it and they gave me great advice about how they managed their time at work and at home. I really had to take a step back and be okay with doing what I could with what I had. I mean I wasn't SUPERWOMAN by no means (even though I wanted to be) and my sanity would have gone out the door if I wanted to be superwoman/mom. My husband was super supportive in reminding that I didn't have to do it all AND he was super helpful in helping me do things (example: washing dishes, starting laundry, etc.).

Trusting in God
I really had to put my trust in God during this time in my life. I learned how to release my own "desire" to control things in my life and let God in. I can't say it was easy-peasy letting go of my innate desire to control but I knew I couldn't do this all on my own. I learned a lot about having faith in Him that everything would turn out okay and if it didn't, then I still had faith that God was in control. When I look back, I can see how God placed the perfect people in my life at the right times and at the right situations.

My Non-Negotiable
So there were things I had to let go of and ask for help as a FWM. For example, having a house cleaner once a month. I also had to be okay with not doing things right away, like..leaving the laundry unfolded for days just because I was too tired to fold laundry or even do laundry. BUT...there was one non-negotiable for me as a wife and a mom. I wanted to be able to provide a healthy and home-cooked meal a couple days of the week. THIS WAS MY NON-NEGOTIABLE.  Yes I admit this would sometimes cause me stress to get home in time to cook and have dinner on the table at a decent time. However, this was one thing that I enjoyed doing as one of the many ways that I love and serve my kids and hubby.
Cooking in my work clothes because I always cook with a necklace on.. hahaha! Not really..

Yes, I still had some type of plan in terms of what days I grocery shopped and what I cooked. That was the only thing I had planned every week. I always did my grocery shopping at Trader Joes on a Friday afternoon after work before I picked up my kids from daycare. I did my meal-planning on Thursday nights so that I had my shopping list for Friday. I wrote a blog post awhile ago about what I use to do my meal planning and grocery shopping.

Setting my limits
As a teacher, there is ALWAYS work to do, even when you leave the classroom. So, I had to really set my limits in terms of what time I stopped working in the classroom which was 4:30pm everyday (including days where we had staff or grade level meetings).  Setting this time limit allowed me to pick my kids up early from daycare and spend some quality "mommy and me" time. Whatever wasn't done in the classroom, I left it at work! I really tried taking work home once a week and work one evening night but that didn't last long because realistically, I was tired. Plus, after the kids go to sleep, I wanted to spend that time with the hubby and just relax!

Mommy and Me playing on the floor time
Mommy and me backyard fun

Would I be a FWM again?
I know I can do it and yes I think in the future I'll be a FWM again. When? I'm not sure yet! All I know is that being a FWM during the 2014-2015 school year made me realize how much I wanted to spend more time with my kids. Thus, I was fortunate enough to take a leave from my job and ultimately resign so that I could be a SAHM.

If you're a FWM, I would love to know your tips, tricks, and advice! Please share with your comments below! Thanks again for reading!