Why We Take Our Children Camping

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Take Kids CampingAs always, I know I’m not the first to post about this.

But I have a blog and I love to tell my stories.

We just got back from an amazing trip to the Valley floor of Yosemite National Park in California.

Before I tell you about the awesome time my children had, let me tell you a few fun facts about myself:

(1) I do not like to be dirty for long periods of time. 

In all reality, I can handle the one day of not taking a shower, but the massive amount of dirt that is accumulated while camping is undeniable and hard to describe if you haven’t experienced it.

(2) I hate mosquitoes – and most bugs for that matter.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not afraid of them, it’s just I don’t like them.

And (3) I am a City girl (or woman if you want to get picky!)A duck swims close by.

I’m not a Country girl.  I’m not a girl that likes large mammals except behind cages.  I don’t particularly like thinking there are bears right outside our tent or tent-like structure.  I can’t stand squirrels.  They are not cute.  I could go on.

Give me my shopping centers and screaming kids in a noisy place or the comfort of my own home any day.

As much as I love nature, I don’t love to sleep in it.  But that’s just me.

So why do I go camping?

I go camping for my children. Playing in the Merced River

There’s a great article on Parentables on “Why I take my kids camping” that I could have written word for word.  Thus, I will not bore you with reiterating the article, but I will mention that I am a believer in the idea that when you are “stuck” with your family for days on end, you gain a new appreciation both for each of them as each of them will for you.

When space is limited and food is only what you brought, my children have a new appreciation for the comforts of home and the playmates their parents gave them.

As with most blog posts, I wrote this post to remember the times of life when things were crazy, and our family made it through anyway.

We had a foster dog that the neighbors came over to take care of, we kenneled our mini-poodle mix, thankfully my work was slow, and my husband had to take his laptop and spend a morning working on his websites.  My knee was still hurting from a “normal” (if there is such a thing) re-occuring injury, I did an enormous amount of pre-planning to keep my children busy at the camp, I had to set up people to call and check on my mother, and my father ended up coming to my house almost everyday to use our Wi-Fi.  (It brought an unexpected extra expense of using AC in a large house for a week we thought it would not be used.  I have a weird father.)

We were in Yosemite for six (6) days.  On one of the days we went to the local “beach” to play and I took this video.  The video is me standing on a bend of the Merced River, that winds its way down Yosemite Valley just outside of the Housekeeping Camp.  I look up and around the area that we chose to play at that day.  It’s about one minute (1-min) long, and at the very end, my youngest son reminds me whey we go camping, in his own way of course.

He just says thank you.  Thank you daddy, for inviting us to Yosemite.

The DeAndrasCrafts Yarn Craft Contest

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UPDATED: The contest is now closed and you can see the results here.  This post shows all the prizes that the winners received.  If you read this blog post and you were an entrant, I AM VERY PROUD OF YOU!

You know that feeling you get when you are both proud and excited?

Hopefully you do because it’s a pretty cool feeling.

I would like to present to you, along with Instructables.com, the DeAndrasCrafts Yarn Contest.

DeAndrasCrafts Yarn Craft ContestThe Contest itself was presented to me a little over two months ago, and I got to pick the prizes.  When I proposed the yarn craft contest to the Instructables folks, I was able to add a brief description of how important I believe using your talents for charities are.

In my case, and what the contest was able to reflect that was important to me, was two different charities.

The first charity is Senior Paws Elder Dog Rescue.

This is Jafari. Jafari from Senior Paws Rescue in FresnoHe is our foster dog from Senior Paws.  He was found on the street and was guessed to be about 10 years old.  He is completely blind and bumps into things more than I would have imagined.

But, he’s the sweetest, softest dog I have ever met.  I believe that taking care of this animal is part of my service to the Lord Almighty.  I know my own parents would disagree, but it’s how I feel.

I will write up a separate post about my experience of being a dog-foster mom soon!

The second charity that I got to mention is called Threads of Love.

The church I attend has a description of all the items that we accept, and small blankets to cover the babies are no exception. The site link is: College Church of Christ, Threads of Love Mission.

I wrote an Instructable on how to crochet the blanket you see here. Mini Square BlanketThe blanket is relatively easy to make due to its size, and I try to make one every month.  (I used to be better at it so I emphasize the word TRY.) Granny square style Threads of Love blanket example.I know there are so many charities that will accept handmade items, and although the contest is specifically for yarn & thread craft, I know many charities will accept sewn items.

A run down of the prizes is as follows:

Grand Prize includes:
Samsung WB250F 14.2MP CMOS Smart Digital Camera

Transcend 32 GB Flash Memory Card

Case Logic DCB-302 Compact Case for Camera

The Grand Prize, the Judges Prize and the First Prize winners also get:

Chemo Caps & Wraps
(Crochet Patterns)
Crochet Lite Hook, Size H & I, that you can find over at

I hope you check the contest out and please feel free to message me on Instructables for a free digital gift!

Tips for Taking Yarn Projects on Vacation

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Tips for taking yarn projectsContinuing with my notes-to-self series of going on vacation to Yosemite, I’m going to list my best tips/suggestions for taking my crocheting projects with me.  There is SO MUCH DIRT, that I’m sure some people think there’s no way he/she would take yarn projects camping with them but thankfully, I’ve done it before and been very successful at it too.

We are blessed to be going to a camping facility where there is a concrete floor and raised beds where we sleep, even though we are as-close-to-nature as I’d like to be right outside the door.  Nevertheless, it’s very hard to keep things clean, and keeping my crocheting projects clean are no exception.  But hey, thankfully there’s washing machines waiting when we get back!

The first thing to do before I pack: Decide which projects to take.

Tip No. 1: Take Smaller Projects.

I have so many things I want to do, namely off “My crochet dreams” Pinterest board.

I also have an extensive list of unfinished projects, and could always find a way to incorporate the smaller ones into the things I’m going to take.

Don’t have smaller projects that could fit in a gallon sized sealed bag?  Thankfully free crochet patterns are everywhere!

Get free crochet patterns like afghans, baby projects and more! Download one today!

Tip No. 2: Have printed copies of all the instructions – if they have one.

I know how it is for seasoned crocheters – I think I’m going to remember the pattern because I’ve worked on it before.  What I found in my travels though is that if I don’t have the pattern handy, my mind goes blank from some sort of “vacation brain” syndrome that I’m sure exists, and I forget/forgot how to do a pattern.

So while we’re camping and I don’t have internet service to look up most of the free patterns I need, I will be printing my patterns and putting them with the yarn I bring.

Tip No. 3: Place your work in 1-gallon or 2-gallon sized Ziploc or seal-able plastic bags, and take extra bags.

Seal-able plastic bags are a must when we go on vacations, namely to store dirty keepsakes (like shells from the beach) or (ahem) that extra dirty underwear that’s just to cute to throw out (or is it because I’m too cheap?)

You’ll see all my work in plastic bags, in my crocheting bag when I’m traveling pretty much anywhere.  I include the pattern and if I have an extra, I even put the size of crochet hook, even though I have a crochet hook holder that I bring.  I just want everything in one place.

Tip No. 4: Be realistic about what you can accomplish.

I say this to remind myself.

While packing for the upcoming trip, I literally grabbed ten small projects right away to consider taking.

RIGHT AWAY!  They are close enough for me to grab and go if needed.

I also have kids, so my time is limited to the mornings when they haven’t woken up or the evenings when they’ve gone to bed.

Tip No. 5: Bring baby wipes and hand sanitizer to help keep work “clean.”

Said with a sarcastic smile, I know how much those baby wipes and sanitizer are handy for every other possible senario other than crocheting, but, it’s a must for me when I’m camping to take both and have them close by while I work on my crocheting projects.

I personally ended up choosing three projects and I’ll update this post with the status of what I was able to accomplish when the trip is over.

So if you’re curious, here’s what I’m planning on bringing:

My Glittery & Glamorus ShrugGlittery & Glamorus Shrug

One of those projects that I grabbed quickly because its nearby, I don’t think I’ve worked on this project for over a year.  I really want to finish it this year, as I’d like to wear it by Christmas.  It’s also listed in my UFO post.

A Crocheted Square Yellow HatCrocheted Square Yellow HatInstructable Robot Square Crocheted Hat
A personal pattern I came up with, I was selected by Instructables to “host” a yarn & thread craft contest.  The excitement I have for this opportunity is understated by this sentence.  (I AM SO EXCITED!)

Anyway, I am providing an Instructable Robot Hat as one of the prizes and I need to make it!  It’s going with me as it’s a small & easy project that I can complete within a couple of hours.

Crocheted Chunky Pattern Basketwool-ease yarn for a chunky basketThe yarn will be used to make this, a free pattern from Crochet in Color:

A project I am excited to start, the project instructions suggested a size L hook.  I didn’t have one so I bought a Crochet Dude Plastic Crochet Hook Set.

Do you have any other tips or suggestions for taking crochet projects on vacation?  I’m personally looking forward to not being plugged into the world for a week.  Crocheting is my hobby and I look forward to spending some hobby time on my down time while camping!

Busy Kids Camping Ideas

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We are going on a week long trip to Yosemite this year.Half Dome from Glacier Point

We’ve done this before, but my youngest two were much smaller (think 16-months and just over 2 years) so it wasn’t really a problem to make them take naps, pick up sticks and rocks and play in the dirt.Keeping Kids Busy Camping

I am one of those moms who loves electronics and devices and know people say my children will need therapy because they will probably grow up thinking thier mom didn’t care about them because I put them in front of a TV for entertainment…etc., etc.

Whatever.  Like YOU know what you’re talking about.

Anyway, the chance to get away from those things also means they will have to keep themselves entertained when my knee hurts or little brother has to take a nap.  As a true vacation from most electronics (we’ll still have cameras) I plan on keeping my various aged children entertained with good old-fashioned arts and crafts that the oldest won’t get too bored with and the younger two won’t be asking me to do all the work.

It’s harder than you think (or maybe some of you know!)

Right now I have a three-year old, a four year old and an eight year old.  The 8 yr-old can read, write, color, and do most projects on his own very well once taught.  The 4-year old is currently very frustrated with the fact that she cannot read and write, and scribbles (almost incessantly) so that she feels she has her words and lists and notes down like her momma.  The 3 yr-old just wants to do whatever his brother and sister are doing.

It’s exhausting some days to get these kids to play together.  My old knee “went-out” on me a couple weeks ago and I know it’s going to be difficult, yes-definitely challenging, to go on hikes and (forget it!) bike rides like we were originally planning on doing.

So here I am, planning on spending more time in the tent-cabin playing with my children.

Here’s the list of ideas I’m working with right now.  I will link back to this thread and post photos of what we actually did on the trip.  For now, it’s just a plan and I’m looking forward to going on vacation!

Note: Yosemite has multiple rules and regulations in the park.  We will be respecting those rules.  These ideas are just to get me started on the planning on what I can do with my kiddos, even if it’s around the house on a walk.

1.  Big Leaf Painting by Kleas

I love painting with the kids.  It’s messy and fun, and might as well preserve a memory of a cool leaf we found on the ground or maybe we’ll make stick paintings.  The ideas can go on and on if I remember to bring paint and a flat surface.  Right now, I’m thinking paper plates will do fine.

2. Personalized Nature Pals by Spoonful.com

A seemingly easy idea, I won’t bring a glue gun, but rather some E6000or Aleene’s tacky glue.  I was planning on bringing glue anyway!

3. Camping Scavenger Hunt by The Creative Homemaker or Outdoor Scavenger Hunt by Today’s Mama

I printed out both of these scavenger hunts, and if we have the chance, we’ll try to do both!

4. I hope to find the Easter eggs and we’ll make Fireflies from Apartment Therapy.

5. I’m going to make my own busy bags similar to these Easy Camping Bags by Capital B.

Mine will include puzzles and planned crafts, as well as standard coloring books.  I have to plan for three different ages of children that all don’t have the same capability, but ALWAYS want to do the same thing.

Here’s my list for my busy kids.  Please feel free to share it!  I know it could be used for more than just camping supplies. kids supplies list to keep busyHopefully, at least once a day, I’m hoping to ask questions about the previous day and get them to hold onto memories in an artistic format, as well as taking photos.

There are so many things I could bring that are small, such as beading supplies, but I’m trying to stick with basics of coloring, writing, and story telling, etc.  My hope is to create a scrapbook of their mementos they created while on the trip and place them with the photos when I get them printed.
This post is just a reminder post for the links I need to look up soon.  The week of vacation is coming by fast so I’ll have to get my bags ready pretty quickly!