Happy Birthday to my beautiful baby Bailey! She turns the big 5 today 🙂
I love my girls and feel so blessed to have these wonderful creatures in my life.
If you read my vacation recap posts, you probably noticed some negativity as the trip progressed. Even though I try very hard to look on the bright side of things and I don’t want to come across as a Debbie Downer, I wanted to share an honest account of our experience in California this summer. I’m not perfect, my life isn’t perfect, and I never want to give the impression of perfection here. I want to keep it real.
I don’t view those negative experiences as a bad thing. It turns out that the trip, all the good and bad, taught me a valuable lesson about traveling…
When you visit new places, you see new and interesting things.
You begin to look at the world around you in a different way.
Experiences can spark you to act on your dreams…
Or spark dreams you never even knew you had.
Sometimes, you never want to return from your travels.
But while traveling allows you to appreciate new places, some trips also help you appreciate the places you left behind…
I think the best trips do both.
And that is exactly what this summer’s trip did. I saw new things, experienced new places, had dreams of new adventures sparked. I also appreciated home…finally. I missed my town, I missed my house, I missed Wisconsin. And I realized that this is where I want to live my life.
I’ll still get to see the world, but every traveler needs a home base. And this summer, it was nice to know that I really had one.
So with that, I’m closing the book on California 2011. Time to look ahead to next summer. I’m not absolutely sure where our next adventure will take us – we’re still mulling it over – but I’m excited for the journey.
Even though it was a night in advance, Jason and I took part of the Great American Backyard Campout with our niece, Reagan, on Friday night. It was Reagan’s first time “camping,” and it has been something we’ve promised to do with her for several months now.
Bailey joined us in the campout. She has camped a couple of times with Jason and I, so we knew she’d handle it well. Thea, our flight risk, had to stay inside and miss the festivities (more on that later…). Bailey was in all of her glory. Typically, Reagan gravitates to Thea since Bailey can be a bit much with the licking and need for attention. With Thea out of the picture, Bailey took full advantage.
I have to say, our backyard is ideal for camping. Even though we live in town, the wooded creek area along the backside of our lot means seclusion from houses on the other side. None of our neighbors ever seem to use their backyards, so it’s perfect.
We had a couple of “wildlife” sightings. First, Bailey and Reagan spotted a cat a few yards over. The cat disappeared into the wooded area of the yard…and then we heard the insane meowing. The cat was obviously battling something. The cat won – we saw it headed back to its house a bit later.
The other prominent wildlife were birds, particularly a pair of bluebirds nesting in our neighbor’s birdhouse. We all enjoyed watching them fly around.
Of course, no campout would be complete without s’mores. I really enjoyed REI’s The Art & Science of S’mores, and I was sure to share my favorite variation: fudge stripe cookies in place of graham crackers and chocolate. I found the idea online a couple years ago, and I have to say that I prefer this version to the original. I’ve never been a big fan of graham crackers, but fudge stripe cookies…that’s a different story 😀 Reagan likes these “marshmallow cookies,” too.
Once it got darker out and we had our fill of s’mores, it was time to catch fireflies. Reagan started out wanting to catch 49 of them…but she settled for five.
Jason and I were a little perplexed. The fireflies wouldn’t light up while they were in the jar. We remembered catching fireflies as kids, and the bugs always continued to blink in
their prisons our containers. Anyone know what would be going on there?
We headed back inside to clean up and, by that point, I just wasn’t feeling it anymore. I felt terribly guilty leaving Thea by herself in the house while we were having fun outside 🙁 We considered leaving Bailey inside with her, but I think part of Reagan’s excitement was over Bailey camping, too. Since today was Thea’s birthday, so I wanted to be good to her. Jason, Reagan, and Bailey got settled in the tent while I headed into the house and up the stairs to my bedroom.
Jason and Reagan woke me up around 6:00am. Jason was freezing all night – Reagan was perfectly comfortable with only her thin sleeping bag. Lying niece or wimpy husband – You decide 😉
Overall, Reagan did great! We’ll try another couple of backyard campouts with her (and me), and we might try taking her on an actual camping trip sometime if she’d like to go.
Did you get out camping this weekend?