Sunday, August 25, 2013

Camping Lessons, From a Mom Who Doesn't Camp

If I were to describe myself to someone, outdoorsy probably wouldn't be one of the words I would use. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy being outdoors, taking hikes and the like, but let's be honest, I love electricity. Heyo! Check it out, I can flip this switch and I have light! Unfortunately, the man I married, bless his heart, loves to camp. Looks like I have some adjusting to do...

So without further ado, I give you my list of the 8 things I learned while camping - in a tent. The first is the most important one, hence why I'm putting it in the #1 spot, the rest are in random order. Rather, the order I learned them in as the trip progressed.

1. There is a right and wrong way to get in and out of a tent. I unzip tent, step-in, take shoes off, set them on the rug. Don't do that. It's wrong - you'll bring dirt in. Instead, unzip tent, sit down inside tent with feet still outside, take shoes off, place them inside. I get it. Whatever. You try to remember all the steps while carrying a crying baby, in the rain. Stop glaring at me; it's just dirt.

2. The wilderness is no place for a baby to eat. But like I mentioned in the camping post, I couldn't just leave her at home to fend for herself. If you have to bring a baby, bring a formula fed baby. Then all you have to worry about is warming up water, in the middle of nowhere, with no electricity. Good plan... Since giving a baby cold milk is unheard of, better bring a breastfed baby, this way baby always gets warm milk. Know that you are going to have to practically take your shirt off to feed this crying child, in the middle of the night, when you are freezing under layers of blankets already. And pray you don't leak. That shit gets cold up against your body at 3 am. So does baby throw up and baby hands on your tummy. On second thought, better just leave the baby at home to fend for itself.

3. Bring an extra flashlight. And then two more extra. It's inevitable that when you need one, you're not going to be able to find any of them. We, rather, I, brought two. I took a trip to Wal-mart with all three children in tow, so the boys could pick out flashlights. And I didn't even use a cart! And survived! Of course we packed those two flashlights, but I *assumed* Perry would pack at least one more. It would figure that when I really needed one, like at 3 am, neither are to be found.  Picture this: Kiki is crying, I am looking for a flashlight, dad is snoring, and I'm becoming more frustrated without any light source. But at least I was able to find my cell phone which lead me to find a flashlight. Sorry if I woke the whole tent up in the process...
4. This brings me to diapering a baby in the wild. We cloth diaper here in the Dustin household, which leads us to my next point. Cloth or disposable diapers while camping? Both stink. Generally there are no garbage cans in the middle of nowhere, so have fun with that smell if you're using disposables. If you cloth diaper, you probably have a wet bag to put your diapers in. While it's a smart idea to put the clean diapers in a place you can find them in the dark, it's obviously not wise to put them by your head, by a window. When it rains, and leaks into the tent, those suckers are going to absorb it all. At least the tent won't get muddy from all the dirt you tracked in earlier by not not following rule #1. Hey little baby, let me change your diaper from a wet one to a slightly wet one. While we're at it, I hope you don't mind hanging out half naked while I find where the wipes are. Payback for when I have to practically take my shirt off to feed you. Oh, and sorry for the bright light in you face, it's hard to hold a flashlight in your mouth so you can see what you're doing. Changing a diaper in the dark isn't as easy as it sounds. Maybe I should have just left the baby at home?

5. Leave your husband at home. Just kidding. Don't do that. Leave his cell phone and iPad at home. If you don't leave at least his cell phone at home, which doubles as an alarm, you will hear said alarm go off while you are camping, at 6 am. And you'll have to wake him up like you normally do for him to turn it off each morning. Come on - no phones while you're camping! Unless you are the mom, then you're exempt because it falls into the category "For Emergencies Only" (see #3), not the "In case I forget to wake up" category.

6. I'm the kind of person that doesn't like to be breathed on when I'm sleeping. I also hate fans. I cannot stand them blowing on my face. I don't care if I'm sweating, point that fan in a different direction. Maybe this has to do with my childhood fear of wind? With that said, this is probably a surprise to most, but I don't care for Jeep rides. Guess what happens during Jeep rides? I get the wind in my face, the whole trip. And even if we're going slow enough so there is no wind, the truck that passed us going 35 mph just threw wind AND dirt in my face. And I don't like being cold. Wind in my face + being cold = I'm getting pretty miserable, but am sucking it up.
7. Bring extra clothes, a lot of them. I confess, I packed too many clothes on this trip...for myself. Although I packed an extra set for each of my boys, I clearly should have packed a couple sets more. A couple sets were wet from playing in the water, and one set had dirt on it. How come you can wear dirt covered clothes into the tent, but not your clean soled shoes?!

And finally....
8. Camp with people who have been camping multiple times before. They will bring the things you forget. Like food and water. The rug for the shoe rule I didn't know existed. A broom to sweep the tent out because I didn't memorize the shoe rule. And other miscellaneous things you forgot, like a camper, and a toilet...

A Camping Trip to Placid Lake

I confess, sometimes I'm really bad about keeping up to date. I'm warning you now, this is a looong one, but at least I moved the pictures around to entertain you a bit! Anyways, two weekends ago we took a little camping trip to Placid Lake, about 40 miles from home. We seriously need to get out more. There is so much to do in a 50 mile radius of our house... One of our wedding gifts from Perry's parents was a huge 8 person tent that we hadn't used since we received it. *Working opposite schedules sucked* 

Like I mentioned in my previous post about camping, Perry's family really enjoys camping. What I didn't mention what that I don't really enjoy camping. I recall camping maybe 4 times when I was younger. Add a couple more times if you count sleeping in the backyard. Our family had a large 10 person tent, that was awesome, but we hardly used, especially once we got a camper with two sets of bunk beds. If I remember correctly that tent had its final hoorah when Robin and her friend camped out in the backyard for one of her May...and they were snow on so the tent collapsed. Anyways, I'm not fond of camping, but I went regardless.

Like normal, we left once Perry arrived home from work. Grabbed a bite to eat on the way out of town. Then it started to rain. I'm thinking, "Seriously? Can't we go tomorrow?" Perry could clearly read my mind and reassured me that just because it's raining here doesn't mean it will be raining where we're camping. Yeah yeah...okay. He was semi-right.

We arrived at our campsite around 7:30 and began setting up the tent we had yet to use. By we, I mean Perry and John. Luckily Betty was there to read the directions, even if they didn't want them!

Though the boys were super excited about sleeping in a tent, they were able to control themselves long enough to help Grandpa John by holding the stakes for him. 

Here's our mansion, mostly set up. It's  like two 4-people tents put together. There's a zippered wall between the two "rooms." Just about as soon as it was completely set-up, it started sprinkling. Like I said, he was semi-right about the rain. Dry when we arrived.
 Yes, the infant baby, Charlotte, came along too. I was paranoid she was going to freeze to death so I bundled her up, excessively. I want to say the temperature reached a low of 45 by early the next morning. Too cold for a baby. That's my opinion, but I couldn't leave her at home... 

Perry, Hunter, and JP spent the rest of the evening at Grandma & Grandpa's camp spot roasting hotdogs before bed, in the down pouring rain. My guess is they were under the awning of the camper. Charlotte and I hung out in the tent, while it rained. She was a little fussy and so was I. It was raining. Just kidding. It was storming, with lightening and thunder. By the time the boys made it to bed, they were so exhausted. I was slightly paranoid they might freeze to death as well, so I made Perry round up a blanket to put over their sleeping bags.

Meanwhile...the storm went on, raining pouring and all, until about 1am. I know this because I could hardly sleep, and I had cell service. Unfortunately for Perry, he woke up in the morning to find his pillow soaking wet from an apparent leak. (I smiled on the inside. That's what you get for making us camp in the rain!) I am happy to report no one froze to death. I did have doubts about myself as well. When was the last time you breastfed a baby at 4:00am, outside, when it's 40-something degrees out? You lift your shirt up and tell me it's not cold! I digress...
After breakfast the next morning, the plan was to take the back roads to Jocko Lake, about 20 miles from our camp spot, to go fishing. We stopped about two miles up the road at the Placid Lake State Park campgrounds and found out that even if we did make it to Jocko Lake, we wouldn't be able to set foot on the land because it was on the reservation. We continued on anyways. For about 45 minutes, through the backwoods, going about 20 mph. Because we hadn't arrived at the lake yet, we were going to turn around but instead turned on a side road called "Second Creek" and drove down it for a little ways. I just pulled up a map on Google to see how much further we had to go. It looked like maybe 3 more miles until we had reached Upper Jocko Lake...and we had turned around. Go figure. 

By the time we arrived back at our campsite, I was exhausted. I fed Charli and fell asleep listening to Hunter and JP playing in the creek with Grandma. Charlotte and I woke up an hour later to two little boys crying outside the tent. Grandma slipped and fell in the creek all while pulling Hunter and JP in with her. I had two soaking wet, sobbing boys on my hands. I helped them dry off and just as we finished Perry arrived back from his afternoon "hunting" trip, and was carrying a bowl full of crawdads.

And then they were off to the creek again to look for more with him.

 Perry was like a kid in a candy store every time he caught one. 
 Ahh...aren't they handsome?

 Like I said, I just finished drying them off before they headed back down to the creek...JP was literally dumping water on his head, and then complained about being cold?

 My boys with their loot. Though you can't see in the bowl, there is probably 25-30 crawdads in there. Perry was adamant about cooking and eating them. I've never eaten them before, and I surprisingly enjoyed them! They tasted like shrimp!

 Pardon my hair. I'm on another jeep ride into town going about 45 mph on the highway so we could have ice cream. Charli looks a little scared...

Hunter LOVED sitting in the front with Grandma! After a long wait in line for wonderful tasting ice cream, we headed back to camp.
 Look who passed out in daddy's arms?! I don't recall the last time JP or Hunter fell asleep like that!
 Isn't that just too cute?!
 Before we left town, John put the top up on the jeep, just in case it rained. The clouds looked pretty threatening. Luckily, it didn't rain though...
 Such a big girl!
 After a nice breakfast Sunday morning, everyone was ready to go home. I was ready to shower! Perry and I loaded up our car and took down the tent before breakfast was served, all while the boys were off playing in the dirt, or doing what boys do I suppose. After breakfast, JP inquired about his blanket, so I told him we better go check in the tent. He excitedly ran the 30 yards or so to where the front door to our tent would have been, look up astounded, and calmly asked where the tent went. I told him it must have just disappeared, in which he nearly started bawling because he forgot his blanket inside...Perfect opportunity to wean him from his blanket right? That's what I thought too, then he found it in the car the next day...

Friday, August 23, 2013

Chicken Enchiladas

I somehow ended up with a surplus of tortillas in our pantry so again on the Mexican theme, we had Chicken Enchiladas for dinner tonight. This is definitely one of Perry's *favorite* meals. 
Before I get to the good stuff, let me just remind you how JP cracks me up. As I was cooking the chicken, Hunter came into the kitchen and grabbed a pair of tongs off the counter and asked what they were. I answered, "They're tongs. I'm going to use them to get the chicken out of the pot so I don't burn my hand." Stupid me. I said the word "chicken" loud enough for JP to hear me, who was watching TV in the living room. Of course I got the usual, "Ugh!" *with his head thrown back into the air* "I don't like chicken!" Moms are allow to lie a little when it comes to food, right? Back me up here... "We're not having chicken." To which he retorts "Yes we are, I can smell it." "No, you just smell cheese." "Oh, okay." And that was that, and guess who ate his dinner, AND had seconds? JP. 

On to the recipe....

2 chicken breasts or approximately 2 cups of shredded cooked chicken
1 10oz can of enchilada sauce
1 can of Progresso Chicken and Cheese Enchilada soup
2 cups of shredded Monterey Jack cheese (I've substituted with cheddar and still tastes wonderful!)
green onions
tortillas of your choosing

1. Cook chicken. (Or shred left over cooked chicken if you have some.) You can do this however you choose, but I prefer to boil mine. After cooling, shred chicken with a fork.
*For those of you with a Kitchen Aide mixer, I've got a shortcut for you! Once the chicken is done cooking, throw it in your mixer for about a minute or so and you'll have perfectly shredded chicken in half the time!*
*Note: the chicken must be warm or you'll wreck your mixer! And put the lock on.*
2. Mix soup with the enchilada sauce and pour 1 cup of the mixture into an ungreased 11x7 baking dish.
3. Mix about 1 cup of the soup mixture with the shredded chicken and 1 cup of cheese.
4. Warm your tortillas and fill with approximately 1/2 cup of the chicken mixture. *We normally use the "big" tortillas and can fit 6 rolls in the dish. If you use smaller tortillas, you could lessen the filling and use more tortillas*
5. Fold up tortillas and place seam side down in the baking dish. 
6. Cover tortillas with the remaining soup mixture, followed by 1 cup of cheese and your desired about of green onions.
7. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until bubbly. 

Buffalo Chicken Tacos

Normally when I make Buffalo Chicken, I make it in a casserole dish. But this week my mind is in Mexico...

Buffalo Chicken Tacos are super easy make. So easy I'm putting them in my 20-minute meals category. 

2 chicken breasts cut into strips
1/2 cup of Frank's Buffalo Wing Sauce
1 can of diced tomatoes, semi-drained
1 1/2 cups of rice

1. Cook rice as directed on package.
2. Cook chicken in a skillet until done. 
3. Add wing sauce and tomatoes. Stir and let simmer for about 10 minutes. 
4. When rice is done, add a scoop of rice to a tortilla and top with chicken mixture.
5. Fold up and enjoy!

Optional - You could add a dollop of blue cheese dressing to the taco, or use it as a dip. 

WTH?! Baby Names

Naming my children was a struggle for me. The names we ended up with, for the boys, weren't my first choice for them. 

The name I *really* wanted for Hunter was Conner Patrick, but since Conner wasn't a family name, I had to choose something else. Perry pushed and pushed for Hunter...funny because I was doing all the pushing...honestly I slipped up a few times after we brought him home. I remember going in to pick him up and saying "It's okay Conner..." Oops. I'm not the only one right?

And James wasn't even on the list. Frankly, the only name on the list was Kyle Robert, but Perry wasn't keen on passing along his middle name. Since we kept the sex of our baby a surprise, I couldn't call my family to say "HEY! I had a baby boy!" unless he had a name. So we threw a few more names out and I finally said something along the lines of  "Fine, let's just name him James Patrick." And that was that. I was always pretty stuck on Charlotte though. 

Anyways, right after I have a baby, I'm always very curious to see what other people have named their babies, and of course to make sure I have the cutest baby in the nursery... :) Just kidding. But seriously. After I had Charli, I was on E-Cradle all the time. I don't know why. It amused me I guess. And I liked looking at her picture with her eyes open. But as I was scrolling through, I came across a baby boy named Rhyder Swayze Sodapop. Yup. The kid was cool enough to be named after an American beverage. Jealous! And then tonight, I got back on there and found two more gems. A little girl named Dangerous Lee Mayham. All I can think is in 5 years her saying, "Hi, my name is Dangerous. Wanna play?" Poor girl. Maybe for a boy? Because that suits Conner Hunter well. And then this poor little boy... Faustinus Quintus Fry. I guess we'll call him Small Fry for short and hope he doesn't have to spell his whole name anytime soon... 

This is when my boredom peaked. I searched the whole web for other pecular baby names. To think these babes will grow up to put names like these on resumes?! (Who thinks babies will have resumes one day? I do. That's why my daughter is Charlotte and not just Charli...because Charli Dustin sounds pretty masculine.) Here are some names famous peeps names their kids:

Happy Hinds - Her mother is singer Macy Grey
Audio Science (Seriously?!)
You know Jamie Oliver off of his food show on ABC? He named his kids Buddy Bear Maurice, Poppy Honey, Daisy Boo and Petal
Pilot Inspektor
Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily
Fifi Trixibelle, who has siblings named Peaches and Pixie
And Gwen Stefani named her daughter Zuma Nesta Rock. 
Just because you're famous doesn't mean your kids should have to suffer...

And then there are these dandies from who did a piece on the worst baby names.
Dinner Ware
Mayo Head
Mustard M. Mustard
Pickle Parker

And for those of you who have watched the Simpson's, these names actually exist or have existed...
Al Caholic 
Oliver Clothesoff
Anita Bath 
Maya Buttreeks

Then again, maybe I'm just a little old fashioned when it comes to names....?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Happy Birthday Dear "mumble mumble" Happy Birthday to You! That Was Awkward...

We were *actually* invited to go to a birthday party yesterday. Completely random. I'm still surprised. Remember that garage sale we had back in June? Yup, I still haven't taken the "leftovers" to Goodwill...anyways, one of the items for sale was our old-but-still-good-fridge. A semi-young couple had moved in around the corner from the end of our street who own a bunch of rentals. Perry got to talking with them, sold them the fridge for one of the rentals, and then mentioned that "I'm sure my wife would love to get together with you to have play-dates or something since she's a stay-at-home mom now" or something very similar to that. I don't know exactly what he said...I was inside feeding the baby...

Needless to say I was in complete shock when the husband came over, rather drove half a block, to our house yesterday to invite the boys and I (Charlotte and I are one in the same) over later that day for their kids' joint birthday party. I immediately agreed and said we'd come over. As soon as he left, my mind kicked into gear. What was I thinking?! I didn't know his name, his wife's name, let alone their kids' names, or how old they were. All I knew was where they lived, solely because they just dug up their front yard and is now a landmark on the street. And now I'm going to a birthday party where I'm not going to know anyone! But since I'm a stay-at-home mom and I will do anything to get out of the house! Can I get an "Amen" fellow SAH moms?!

This is when I had to completely step out of my comfort zone and just go with it. The only thing the boys could talk about all morning was going to the party. They didn't know what kind of party it was, they just knew it would be fun. I couldn't just not go. It did however give them motivation to nap...which is a huge bonus. But honestly my kids don't have friends, so we don't get invited to birthday parties, let alone really have birthday parties. Yes they get their yearly birthday cake, but the only people that come are family members. A birthday party where friends come over is unheard of to them.  

The afternoon came and we took our short walk over to their house. The party was in the backyard and they had a sign out front that said to let yourself in. Super weird for me. I DIDN'T KNOW THEM! And now I'm walking, unannounced, into their home to get to the backyard. I honestly pondered turning around and going home. Twice. But we did it, and made it to the backyard. And luckily the husband recognized me. Otherwise it would have been super-duper weird. He was very nice and welcomed us to the party right away and introduced me to all the moms that were hanging around. 

They were having a joint party for their girl who was turning 8 and their son who was turning 3, who was also not embarrassed to run around naked. Doing a once-over of the backyard, it was clear that all the moms at the party belonged to the older girls running around because other than their son, my boys were the youngest ones there, by far. They had a trampoline and swing set with a slide, plus various other toys, but regardless, Hunter and JP clung to me like leaches. Honestly, I'm glad they did, because then I had an excuse to wonder around the yard with them inside of jumping in with the awkward I-don't-know-anyone socializing that was doomed to happen. I eventually met the "mom" of the party, who is also really nice, and finally made small talk with a few of the other moms. 

And then that dreaded question was asked to me, "so how do you know so-and-so?" Uhhh....I don't. My husband met them at our garage sale the other month so they invited me to the party...awkward...I felt pretty silly. Actually I just wanted to hide. But eventually the boys de-clung themselves from me and began enjoying themselves. I made a point to *try* to be super friendly and ended up swapping numbers with the boy's mom so we could get the three kids together for a play-date. Unfortunate for this mom of boys, the street we live on is occupied by girls. After a rough count there are 18 kids total on our street, and 7 of them are boys. Two are mine and the next closest in age is 7. So this little 3 year old boy is great play-date material since all the girls around here are either much older, or don't like playing zombies and digging for worms.

We'll see what the next few weeks bring. But I'm happy to say that we survived our first birthday party, even though I didn't think I would. And more surprisingly, I didn't have to fight with them to leave. Doubly awesome. 
Party Blower 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Lolo Fires

Normally I don't blog about news, but since it's so close to home, I figured I better. 
On Saturday evening, a lightening storm started several fires in the Lolo Creek Canyon. (This is close to the area we went camping in April.) Two of which are super close to Missoula, approximately 10 miles. One is known as the West Fork II fire and the other is the Schoolhouse fire. Both of these fires are located just off of Hwy 12 south west of Missoula. Although they started off as two separate fires, they are beginning to merge, as the West Fork II fire jumped the highway, and are headed in a north eastern direction toward Missoula. 

Most recently it has been confirmed that 4-8 homes have been take by the fire as it continues to burn approximately 5000 acres. Despite the number of homes taken so far, several hundred home have been given pre-evacuation notices between Sleeman Gulch, about 2 miles out of Lolo, to Bear Creek Road, about 12.5 miles out of Lolo.  Early Monday the two fires together totaled about 70 acres until the wind picked up. According to this article from the Missoulian, the fires then started burning so fast you couldn't even out run it in a car. Eek! I pray no more homes are taken, and more importantly no lives are lost!
082013 lolo fire8 kw.jpg
Kurt Wilson/Missoulian
082013 lolo fire7 kw.jpg
Kurt Wilson/Missoulian
Deputy Will Newsom
Kim Patrick
This was the view my sister had of the fires on her way home. 

I can't imagine what it would be like to lose your home to a fire. After giving it a lot of thought, other than my kids, of course (!), if I had to evacuate from my home the two things I would make sure I took with me would be my Hitachi hard drive because it has all the videos and pictures of my children on it and I would hate to "lose" all those memories. The other thing I would take with me would be Great Grandma Sadie's shadow box given to me by her daughter because it is a family heirloom. I honestly can't think of any thing else in my home that is more important to me. Everything else is virtually replaceable, though it may be hard. 

What would you take if you had to evacuate your home?

I Hiked the "M" Trail!

I've lived in Missoula now for 7 years and although it's been in the back of my mind to do, it's been about 9 years since I've hiked it. That is unless I'm forgetting a time or two... Regardless, a good friend of mine from college, Sarah, was visiting over the weekend from Minnesota and hiking the "M" trail was on her to-do list. With a little hesitation, I agreed to join her.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the "M" trail, it's a very popular trail to hike in Missoula. Located on Mount Sentinel, the trail begins on the University of Montana's campus. It's approximately 3/4 miles long and with its steep incline, it's marked as a "moderately strenuous" trail. And I did it with a baby. And good grief was I huffing and puffing!
 The view from the top is amazing! But that darn sun made it impossible to look at, let alone photograph.
 I expected Charlotte to sleep the whole way, but she was a trooper...she didn't load up her pants until we arrived at the top. Go figure.
 And guess who wasn't sore the next day? These girls! What a relief!
Since we successfully hiked the "M", we took a trip to Big Dipper for ice cream. Like a typical summer evening, the line was super long. I think we waited for a solid half an hour, but it was totally worth it!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Glampers I Love!

As I was surfing around on Pinterest today, I found a pin related to a vintage recipe box. Because I wanted to try to re-make it for my kitchen, I was curious to know where the vintage/antique markets were in my city. That little Google search reminded me about The Prairie Sisters, who every so often puts on vintage markets. I went to the one they put on in April and loved it. Its basically like Pinterest in real life. Anyways, that made me curious to know when they were having another one. I excited found out they're hosting another one in mid-September, and of course I'm going!

As I was checking out their website, I surfed over to their blog as well and found a camper someone had remodeled.
This is only one picture from the re-model, but you should definitely check out the rest of the blog post. I think it turned out super cute! And now I want to re-model one. Wouldn't that be so much fun?! I would probably use it as my hide-out. You know...mommy time.

Here's a few Glampers I love, in no particular order!
Hawiian Themed from I Heart Everything

sotf 004
Red & Light Blue//Green from The Vintage Bag Lady

Turquoise, Black and White 

Black & White Damask

Bohemian Themed

Ranch Styled

Vintage in White from Anyone Can Decorate

Vintage trailer
Pink and Turquoise

Vintage Turquoise

After seeing these, who wants to re-do a trailer? I DO!!