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Month: August 2016

5 Reasons We MUST Pay Attention to the Small Things

5 Reasons We MUST Pay Attention to the Small Things

I’ll let you decide which one is Alpha and which is submissive in our relationship! But you all know who is REALLY in charge!

Wolves fighting
Wolves fighting

Small details can make things go so much smoother. For example, it’s not impossible to be without a hot dog roasting stick when the woods are full of sticks, but it makes the ride a lot quieter if you don’t forget to pack them and don’t remember 200 miles from home and say UH-Oh out loud. Yeah that was me on this last trip! Lesson learned! But here are some more examples from our other adventures.
1. Small details can add up in a hurry
– So I have done a lot of odd jobs getting more flexible hours so I can be with my family. The most recent was working at a carwash. I can’t believe the amounts of pennies that I will find lying around the vacuum areas, in the wash bays themselves or just on the ground period. And not just pennies, I found a bag full of quarters around the wash once. People must forget where they drop the bag and then figure that no one is going to pick them up until they come back looking for them four days later. I collected these and granted, I’m not raking in big bucks, but how does an extra $30-40 a month add up? $30 times 12 months = $360 How many things can you do with that extra cash?

2. Small details provide opportunities to explain life to your kids
– Eli and I made the cardinal mistake of catching crawdads and mud guppies (sculpins) one day at the river.

sculpins

This little guy and his friends made it a lovely day for the critter getter and for showing him how things live together. Raccoons made it possible later that night and the next morning to explain the importance of food in the wild and how they LOVE a free meal left in a critter getter. It was almost impossible to get the lid off for me, but somehow the little buggers did it and made off with everything that was in there. Important note, the next batch we caught went back into the creek before we left to give the little thieves some harder work to get the next night’s meal!
3. Small Details can trip you up
– Have you ever seen a guy line on your tent as your feet are over your head and you are eye level with the ground? A little detail like a small line connecting your tent to the ground can be a life saver when the wind and rains of a storm are blowing and trying to tear down your tent with their force. They can ruin a trip as well as the storm if you fall and crack your skull on a rock. Even small falls can lead to back pain, neck pain, and overall discomfort which can make you a grouch ie) everyone else can hate having you there.

4. Small details make life more beautiful
– Have you ever been on a long hike through the forest and it is hot and brown everywhere you look? Then, shining through the blah is a tiny flowerflower on forest floor and it seems to draw your attention for a minute and lets you believe that everything is not going to dry up and die under the canopy today, namely me. Little things count so much that in our busy rush schedule, even if we take the time to slow down and hike, sometimes we miss the most beautiful little things. Slow down and smelling roses is a part of my daily routine when they bloom. They just refresh me.
5. Small details keep things running the right way
– Have you ever left the switch on for the car lights when you are desperately searching for some little item you know you packed before the trip and it must’ve fallen out of your bag and you have to have it to go to sleep? What happens the next morning when you have decided to cut the trip short a day and the car won’t start? I’ll tell you what happens. The trip gets very frustrating very quickly. Small things like flipping switches, changing oil in the car, making sure you have dry matches all can make or break adventurers and they are small details that shouldn’t matter all that much but in that moment, they do.

As you can see, the small details in life are the most profound in certain situations. Usually, I’m not a fan of nit-picking and behaviors that see all the little things that I have missed. That’s why Jenny and I have had some pretty good fights. But, I have learned that little things are great motivators to get life back on track, to have discipline in your schedule, and to see the value in the people around you. Pick out small details and focus on them. They could be as small as leaving a note that says I love you in a lunch box or on the counter for your spouse to see. It could be a small paper clip that holds your son’s favorite motorcycle toy together after he’s broken it. Focus on something that seems small to you, but can have a huge impact on another person. You won’t regret doing it!

Hiking Necessities (From a Mom):

Hiking Necessities (From a Mom):

As I mentioned in my last post, I like to make lists of everything! Here is my list of the things that are needed when hiking with Littles:

* A comfortable hiking backpack, preferably with a water reservoir bladder
* Small first-aid kit (band-aids, triple anti-biotic ointment, bug bite cream)
* Snacks
* Water (if you don’t have a water reservoir)
* Quick dry towel (something like this)
* FroggTogg Cool Rags (These are amazing! Dip them in any water and put them on your neck. They instantly cool you.)
Frogg-Toggs-Chilly-Pad-Cooling-Towel-1
Click on the photo above for a link. We bought ours at an Academy store.
* Diapers
* Wipes (these will also work as toilet paper in a pinch)
* Sunscreen
* Bug spray
* Wal-Mart sack (this will be needed for diapers or other trash)

Is there anything else that YOU’VE found you have to have when hiking with kids? We’d love to hear your input!

10 things I learned from our Road Trip: Part 2

10 things I learned from our Road Trip: Part 2

This is a continuation from my last post, Part 1. Please read that one too for more great tips!

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6. If possible, make friends with the Campground Hosts (also called Park Hosts).

These people know the park inside and out as they live there for extended periods of time. They are a great resource for information and can be very helpful. We made dear friends with the hosts at Lake Ouachita and even exchanged phone numbers at the end of the trip! They helped us find the best hiking spots, provided us with local maps and outing information, told us the best times to visit during the year, and even let us know where the cleanest, newest bathrooms were in the park!

7. ALWAYS spray your tent with waterproofing BEFORE going on a trip, even if your tent is brand new.

We took our tent that was a few years old and it hadn’t been unpacked for about a year. Bad move. It leaked from every seam! After spending one very soggy night, and then subsequently having to wash all of our laundry and bedding the next day, we went to a Wal-Mart and bought a new tent to continue our trip in. This tent held up extremely well, despite storms, and we only dealt with a few droplets. We were so impressed! Even still, it is now currently set up in our backyard and has been sprayed from top to bottom with waterproofing to make it an even better tent! (Click on picture to take you directly to our tent’s website.)

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8. Stop at a Park Ranger station in the state you are traveling.

Most states have Travel Books, or something of that like, that details the State, National, and CCC parks in that state. Having one for Arkansas was a huge help when we had to come up with a new destination. It listed parks that allowed tent camping, allowed pets and told us what to expect before we arrived. Rangers themselves are also a wealth of information so don’t be afraid to ask questions!

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9. Make lists… Of Everything!!

Make a list of meals ahead of time, and be sure to write the recipe if you need it. You will be so tired (and sometimes frazzled) that you may forget what you wanted to make with the chicken you brought. You don’t want to waste food and you don’t want to forget an ingredient so it helps to glance at a list.

Make lists of what you have packed. We needed a foil cooler insulator the whole week and were so frustrated that we didn’t have it… only to find out once we got home and unpacked that we had it the whole time. UGH!!

Make a list of the necessary items to pack for a hike. (My personal hiking list will be in a post to follow.) Nothing worse than being well into a hike only to find out you forgot to pack a baby’s diaper!

10. Last but not least, always take spare rope.

We used rope to tie tarps around our Easy Up to protect our “kitchen” from rain. We used it for a make-shift clothesline. Tie down lids on totes or coolers to keep critters out. Handy to have if a guy-line on your tent breaks. So many uses!

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I hope a few of these tips make your next camping experience better and easier!

Was there a tip on here that you haven’t heard before?

10 things I learned from our Road Trip: Part 1

10 things I learned from our Road Trip: Part 1

You can quickly search online and find lots of articles on camping; telling you what to take, wear or tips to make it easier. I’ve read many of them myself! I hope you find a few things in this post that you haven’t read anywhere else.

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1. Have a Plan B and a Plan C… and if all these fail, be prepared for spontaneity.

Our original plan was designed around locations with gorgeous waterfalls. What we didn’t realize was that a recent lack of rainfall had dried all of them to a trickle (not really worth hiking miles to see that!). Ironically, the week we chose to camp was the end of the drought and we had torrential rain for 6 of the 7 days. We had to come up with a new destination, while trying to outrun the rain.

2. Don’t set your expectations too high.

Was it reasonable or realistic to assume we could camp for 12 days with a (soon-to-be) Kindergartener and a toddler? Ummm… in hindsight, probably not. BUT we survived 7 days, in pouring rain and excessive heat, so I consider that a huge success!

3. Have TONS of snacks… and keep some with you EVERYWHERE.

I have two little boys so not much more explanation is needed on this.

4. Take a Rubbermaid tote.

Make sure you pack something in it that you will be using so that the tote is empty. A spare Rubbermaid tote makes for a fantastic bathtub or splash pool for little ones. (A large tote worked as a tub for my husband and I when we were desperate for a bath!)

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5. Invest in QUALITY hiking boots AND good socks.

These two things will make a huge difference in the outcome of your trip. I am generally a very frugal shopper, but when it comes to hiking boots, I’ve learned the hard way that you get what you pay for. Cheap boots = blisters and misery. Same goes for cheap socks. Quality hiking boots are REALLY worth the money!!

I personally LOVE my Ahnu boots! (Link to similar ones from Cabelas) They are the only shoes I took for the entire week and they kept my feet dry and comfortable the whole time. Not a single blister! I especially love them because they do not need any “break-in time” either… perfect fit from the moment I laced them up!

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Next post will include tips 6-10, so check back!

What are YOUR best tips for camping and/or camping with kids?