8 Must Know Tips for Family Camping

I can’t tell you how many people question our sanity when I tell them that all three of our children started camping in the first 3 months of their lives; our youngest went on her first trip at just 3 weeks old!

For us, camping is an absolute getaway. We work all winter to camp all summer! But over the 15 years of avid camping (13 of which have been with babies and children), we have learned a lot about what makes camping enjoyable for the family as a whole.

Listed below are 8 tips to take with you on your next camping trip.

1) Privacy

Make sure you have your own space; for us this means as many trees/coverage as possible… Provincial parks (for those of you in Canada) are a great place to start. Make sure you know a little bit about the park, and especially the sites within the park. Don’t get caught up in privately owned parks (not all private parks are bad- but many are) that leave you and hundreds of fellow campers in a field with no trees and no individual boundaries. Not only will this potentially leave you camping with a pile of drunken teenagers, but you will also never get a chance to sit down and relax while your children play on your own site.

2) Give yourself lots of time.

This is something that took us way too many years to figure out. It’s so easy to get overexcited and want to start your camping adventure as soon as possible- but if leaving today means you won’t arrive until it’s dark, wait until the morning! The best camping trips start out on a great note- and arriving in the darkness, and trying to set up site while your children cry and you can’t see what’s going on or where anything is, is certainly not the best start. Not to mention that blowing up air mattresses, or yelling while you try to guide your husband and the trailer into the site at midnight, is not appreciated by camping neighbours who have arrived before you.

3) Meal Plan

Make it fun, but keep it simple!

You don’t need to decide exactly what you are eating on each day, but instead, count how many dinners, lunches and breakfasts you will have on the trip. Determine what you will have for each meal, and don’t over shop (especially if you are tent camping!) – Once you are on site you can decide which days you are eating which meals- for us this often depends on weather; i.e. if it’s a cold or wet morning we will make a big breakfast, but if it’s sunny and beautiful we will eat quick in the morning and hit the beach!

We also plan 75% of our lunch meals to be eaten on the go (for us that usually means on the beach) – we don’t want to have to stop all the fun in the middle of the day to return to site and cook.

Don’t forget your favourite snacks, lots of water, and your favourite cocktail ingredients!

TIP: even with perfectly planned out meals we always end up with random leftovers. Because of this I do not plan a meal for one lunch – it’s leftover lunch!

4)Don’t rough it too much.

We started our camping journeys with a very small tent, an air mattress, and a baby bassinet. Over the years we have stepped up our camping game quite significantly, upgrading to a huge tent, then a pop up camper, and now a travel trailer/RV. We have also grown from one teenage couple into a 30-something husband and wife with three children. We have definitely learned that the easier we can make it, the more relaxing and enjoyable it is for us… but that doesn’t change the fact that our first 10+ years of tent camping were AMAZING. Just make sure you have basic essentials, a comfortable place to sleep, a decent place to shower, and a drive-up campsite!

5) Don’t look at the Clock.

Put away the rigid scheduling. Being outdoors all day long is so good for you and the kids; generally speaking the kids will fall into a pretty great schedule due to being exhausted from being active and in the fresh air all day long… But don’t stress yourself out about bed or nap times. Let the little ones nap in the stroller on the a bike or the beach, let the bigger tots skip a nap if it’s going to stop them from having fun… Let them go to bed earlier than usual, or stay up late roasting marshmallows. Camping is ALL ABOUT going with the flow!

6) Be prepared for all Weather

Regardless of the forecast, be ready for whatever Mother Nature may throw your way. Have rainsuits, extra tarps, warm hats, and of course the obvious sunglasses, sunscreen, BUG SPRAY etc. Don’t let a rainy day spoil your fun. If you show the kids how much fun it is to play in the rain, they will learn to love it… but don’t be scared to use a rainy day to explore the closest town, or get lunch at a local restaurant.

Also make sure you are prepared to keep your bed and clothing DRY! Make sure your tent is waterproof, your trailer has no leaks, bring extra tarps, and if rain is expected, setup for it before it comes.

*tip: The year we finally got a waterproof dining shelter was a game changer. It is more than worth the investment. (Trailers- awnings are key!)

7)Pack & Plan activities.

As your children grow, and get used to the camping life, keeping busy and having fun in the wilderness will come naturally to them… but to start, make sure you have fun stuff to help them fall in love with camping, and help them keep busy so that you can kick back and relax. At the start of every camp season we make a dollar store trip. We don’t skimp- we buy lots of random outdoor toys like bug catchers and water toys, and I always create what we have come to call “The Rainy Day Box” – filled with crayons, colouring and reading books and small toys- the kids are so excited for this box that rainy days turn into a good thing!

We also make sure to have glue on hand for nature crafts, a scavenger hunt prepared ahead of time, and lots of fun stuff for night; glow sticks, sparklers, lanterns etc.

8) Set Up Your Site.

Have fun, and get specific when setting up your campsite. Have different areas; i.e. cooking, washing, eating, playing etc. Make sure to have a clothesline for wet towels and clothes, and Decorate your site with lanterns, a flag, table clothes, and beautiful items your children have collected in the forest (we always have lovely children- made centre pieces on our picnic tables!).

Being well organized, and having items you need consistently readily available will make day-to-day much easier for everyone!

Don’t forget that food related items will have to be cleaned, and stored in your vehicle, trailer or high in a tree while you are not on site, or sleeping. Nothing is worse than critters (or bears!) finding your site!

*tip: if it’s in the budget to have a second smaller tent for storage, do it! Makes all the difference!

Camping is truly the best activity for people of all ages. Our children range from 12 years to 1 year old, and so far camping is truly the one activity we have discovered that is perfect for everyone.

If you are considering your first camp trip- don’t be scared! Start with these tips, and feel free to send me any more questions! I love spreading our passion for camping!!

A Story of Loss; The Reality of Early Miscarriage

Trigger warning: Miscarriage.

When I went through miscarriage I remember one thing very clearly; I remember that discussing the true details of miscarriage was taboo. I remember that I could not find any real life stories online. I remember that not until I opened up about my experience did I learn that many people I knew had endured miscarriage as well. I remember having so many questions and no answers.

As I began to recover from my loss I decided that one day I would openly write about it. I promised that I would attempt to make it easier, and more “normal” for atleast one woman in the future by being raw and honest about what really happens when you lose a baby in early pregnancy.

What I didn’t anticipate was that it would take me a full five years before I was ready to allow myself to be this vulnerable. I also didn’t realize just how therapeutic it would be for me to tell my story.

Yesterday, was April 17th.

As I curled up on the couch late last night with my husband after another busy day, he asked what the date was. I glanced down at my phone, and got choked up.

“It’s April 17th” I said.

He hugged me close.

“How did I forget? It’s the first April 17th that I missed in five years… it’s officially been FIVE years!”

But I can tell you why I “forgot”. Forgot is not the right word- because as soon as I noticed the calendar I did remember… but it didn’t weigh on my heart all day long.. I didn’t stay in bed most of the day in tears… Because I have recovered. I am okay now. Five years later and I am finally able to look back without hurting so much. It will always be a part of my journey, my heart will always feel a little heavier on April 17th. I will never be the same person I once was, But I have finally come out the other side and I’m okay.

5 years ago, I woke up 10 weeks pregnant.

But that night, I went to sleep knowing that the baby we had waited years for, would never make it to birth. His little heartbeat had stopped, and “early miscarriage” was the only diagnosis I was given.

People have this simple idea that a woman who is in her first trimester and loses a baby, wakes up one morning, learns she has miscarried her baby, and resumes previously normal life… This is simply not the case. Not mentally, but also not physically.

In recent years I am enlightened to see the recognition and understanding that some women are finally starting to receive for miscarriage. Slowly, the world is starting to realize that miscarriage is heartbreaking. That some women are affected by miscarriage for the rest of their lives. That miscarriage happens far too often, and that every person grieves this loss differently, and is entitled to do so in their own way.

You see, on April 17th I woke up and immediately felt like something was not right. I proceeded with my day, and went to work… about two hours into my day I used the washroom… and that’s when, (I’ll spare the gory details) I immediately knew that I wasn’t going to give birth to my baby that following December anymore … But this was only the beginning.

For the next 3 months I had to endure the physical loss of my baby all while trying to understand and recognize the emotional pain I thought I would never recover from.

I went to the hospital. While I was there for about 6 hours I had blood work, ultrasound etc… I was inconsiderately placed and travelled through the hospital with two other women, who also believed they were miscarrying their babies.

After some tests and a few hours, both other women were sent home. Their babies had heart beats. It was just a scare. Finally the Dr came to me and said “don’t worry! It’s very likely you just have your dates mixed up! There is no heartbeat, but we do see something; we believe that your baby is only at about 5 weeks gestation”. My mom was with me. My husband was on route to us. She grabbed my hand and smiled. But they were wrong. I knew 100% they were wrong.

I went to the bathroom again, and sure enough, there he was. He looked just like the pregnancy apps on my phone showed me. I emerged from the bathroom in a emotional state that scared hospital staff. Weak in the knees I collapsed and screamed out for my mother “please take me home!”

... I will never forgive myself for leaving him there. I will forever wish I brought him home, buried him, and planted a beautiful tree to grow forever in his memory…

The next part is a little blurry, though I do remember the hospital chaplain was sent to me- I told her I didn’t want to see her.. The Dr came to me again in an attempt to reassure me- my blood work looked normal for that of a 4-5week fetus. I knew that meant I had lost my baby 5+ weeks earlier.

The hospital sent me home. They told me time would tell, but because I was so certain I would get a call from the early miscarriage clinic within the next week. It’s been 5 years now and I’ve still never been called.

I went home and slept. In the pitch black, for what felt like an eternity. I cried so hard that I ran out of tears. My head started hurting so badly that I thought I was dying; Sudden massive hormone drops will do that. The next evening, my husband came home to realize I hadn’t gotten out of bed, it had been more than 24hours, he held me, he cried with me, and he took the next day off work with me…

The following day I was dizzy and not well. We went back to the hospital where they determined I was losing too much blood. They hooked me up to an IV and brought a Dr in. The Dr told me it was time to prep for a D&C.

Confusion is an understatement. It was less than 48hours earlier the same hospital insisted I was still pregnant. Today they didn’t do any tests to check the status of the pregnancy and instead insist I proceed with an invasive surgical procedure to remove anything remaining in my uterus. Suddenly I didn’t feel so confident in my beliefs that my baby was for sure gone.

What if they were right two days earlier? What if I was only 5 weeks pregnant with a healthy baby?

I begged them to give me another ultrasound, and they told me over and over again that instead I needed to just move forward with the D&C.

I explained to them that even with 100% reassurance that my baby was gone I did not want to risk a D&C. Sometimes this can cause scaring on your uterus and make pregnancy in the future next to impossible. They told me of another option: a pill that would essentially put me into labour. I opted for the pill.

I left the hospital and called my Dr. As requested he sent me for an ultrasound to confirm my heartbreak. The next day, under constant supervision of my sister and husband I would start the pill process, which would progress over the course of two days.

Those two days were challenging, painful emotionally and physically, but somewhat healing. I knew I was allowing my body to work more naturally this way, surrounded by people who loved me.

Following the two days I was sent for another ultrasound, at which time I was told I needed to do another round of the pills.

Two more days of forced “labour/delivery” and a fourth ultrasound confirmed that my miscarriage was almost complete. I could now go home for two weeks before I returned for what would be my last ultrasound confirming a completely vacant uterus.

I don’t know how to end this story, because although I am in a much better place today, for some women Miscarriage is not something they are able to fully move on from. It’s not always a story that has an ending.

For me I did move on to get pregnant the following July. My son, my rainbow baby and my second earthside baby was born 3 months later than the baby I lost was meant to be born. I feared the entire pregnancy that when he was born I would struggle all over again with the loss, but instead it brought me quickly to the realization that without the loss I never would have met my Rainbow-Boy. And I need this boy in my life more than anything I can explain.

Stay strong Mamas. If you are or have experienced a miscarriage remember that you are not alone.

And please, if you are supporting a mother who is dealing with loss, don’t say the overused line “everything happens for a reason”, because sometimes it takes a lifetime to find the reason, and sometimes we never know the reason.

Cheesy Broccoli & Quinoa Casserole

If there is only one recipe I share that you decide to try, choose this one!

By combining a few different casserole recipes, I have found perfection in a casserole!

This casserole is vegetarian, gluten free, and packed with protein.

I have served this dish to my family of 5, all of whom LOVE it. I have as well served it at two separate dinner parties, both of which led to all of the guests requesting the recipe- it is seriously THAT GOOD!

One casserole serves approximately 6. Each serving contains 500 calories, and 30 grams of protein!

INGREDIENTS

•2 1/2 cups (400g bag) uncooked quinoa

•4 1/2 cup water

•2 vegetable stock cubes

•1/2 tsp pink Himalayan salt

•2 tsp cornstarch

•2 cups fresh spinach

•4 cups shredded skim mozzarella cheese

•4 cups fresh broccoli florets

INSTRUCTIONS

1) Set oven to 400

2) Steam broccoli in microwave (about 4 minutes in covered microwave safe dish with about 1 inch water in the bottom). Put aside.

3) Wisk water, vegetable stock and cornstarch in pot on stovetop. Heat to boiling.

4)In 9×13 baking dish, add quinoa. Pour boiling water mixture over top.

5) Add spinach and 3/4 of cheese to baking dish.

6) Bake for 30-35 minutes.

7) Remove casserole from oven, mix in steamed broccoli, and sprinkle remaining cheese over top.

8) Bake for additional 5 minutes until cheese is slightly browned.

Serve immediately!

Store leftovers in refrigerator, and reheat using microwave.

Anxiety vs. Exercise

Let’s talk about anxiety; postpartum anxiety, mom anxiety, generalized anxiety…

Yesterday I spoke to my Dr (who’s the bestttt) about getting my recently increasing anxiety under control. Unfortunately for me, just like more than 50% of people who suffer with anxiety disorders, the thought of taking a daily drug for anxiety causes even more anxiety.

So yesterday we started talking very seriously about my options. .

1) Meds

2) Specified therapy

3) Exercise .

Dr’s words were as follows:

if I put 100 people with anxiety on the meds, 75 of them would get better to some extent… if I put 100 people with anxiety into therapy, 75 of them would get better to some extent… if I made 100 people with anxiety exercise for one hour every single day, 100 of them would get better to some extent.

100. 100% of people will see some kind of healing. Just from taking the time to exercise each day. That’s it!

Needless to say my husband and I quickly and obviously came to the agreement that my getting one hour every day no matter what is top priority right now. 3 kids and Puppy will not be my responsibility for 1 hour everyday while I focus on me (which is crazy & amazing in itself!). .

I’m a little disappointed, though not at all shocked, that the dr had to prescribe me exercise before it truly became priority.

Don’t be like me guys! Regular consistent exercise is an obvious solution to so so much. Jump on board with me and let’s reep the benefits together!

. 📷: @tjtindale .

Overnight Oats

There has been a lot of hype on my IG account (@morethanmommmy) about overnight oats, and for good reason! Here’s everything you need to know…

Overnight oats have become a staple in my weekly meals. Overnight oats are the perfect pre-prepped meal for breakfast or lunch. They are quick, easy, portable, and PACKED with protein and super foods!

The flavour combinations to be created are endless, so experiment with your own personal favourite fruits and flavours!

Below I will outline the recipe needed for the base of overnight oats. I will also give you the recipes for 3 of my favourite flavours so far.

Remember! Overnight oats are a personal preference- change things up to your own liking!

The most important thing to figure out is your “base”. For me that is:

•1/2 cup oats

•1/3-1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

•1 tablespoon Greek yogurt .

Chocolate Cherry Overnight Oats!

aprox 330 calories and over 40grams protein

Additional ingredients: (on top of base)

•1 scoop chocolate Diesel New Zealand Whey Isolate (or your choice of chocolate protein powder)

•0.5-1 cup frozen cherries

•{optional} Skinny Girl sweetener

•{optional} cocoa powder

Peanut Butter Banana Overnight Oats

Additional ingredients:

•1 scoop Vanilla or Peanut Butter Protein Powder

•Fresh banana (as much as you like. For me that’s about 2/3 of a medium sized banana)

•1-2 tablespoons of PB2 (high protein powdered peanut butter) AND/OR 1-2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter

•1-2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup

Strawberry Overnight Oats: (so simple, but my favorite)

• 1 scoop vanilla protein powder

•1/2 cup sliced strawberries

•2-4 tablespoons pure maple syrup

And don’t forget to add all of your favourite super foods! Some of my staples are:

hemp hearts

•chia seeds

•Salba seeds

•flax seed/flax seed oil

Once you’ve added all of your ingredients to your mason jar, put the lid on and shake it up well (some recipes require a little stirring)

Place your overnight oats in the fridge overnight, and enjoy in the morning! I personally love to heat them up and add a touch of maple syrup… (my husband likes it straight from the fridge)

PREPARE TO BE OBSESSED!

The Start of a Journey

At just 18 years young I became “Mommy”.

Somehow, that was 12 years ago now.

In those 12 years, I have married, and gave birth to two more babies. In those 12 years I have truly learned the meaning of this thing called life. I have loved bigger than I ever imagined possible. I have learned lessons I never knew I needed. I have appreciated and enjoyed every precious moment.

But there’s something that happens when you become a Mother at such a young age. There is a huge part of life that you miss. And, while I have zero regrets, and would not change a thing, now, in my 30s, I have recognized something.

I have realized that I lost myself in motherhood. I have forgotten about myself as an individual.

Being “Mommy” will forever and always be my biggest accomplishment, my biggest pride and joy, my first and foremost priority… But today, I am ready to be MORE than Mommy.

I am ready to indulge.

I am ready to do things for myself.

I am ready to practice selfcare, and self love.

I am ready to search within myself to find out who I am… Other than “Mommy”.