Camp. My Summer Love.

I’m having a mid-life crisis. 

First of all, how the heck did I get to mid-life already??

No worries people, I’m not going to run off and get a tattoo or go skydiving naked – but I am really missing being a kid in the summertime.

Especially when it comes to camp. 

I am a camp freak – I grew up going to all kinds of camps – and after each one I would come home in tears because each one was the best time of my life and those were the best friends I would ever have and I would cry for days and days and write letters to all my friends and lock myself in my room. 

My parents loved it when I came home from camp.

Now my kids are all at camp.  And I must say it bringsback  pains of nostalgia and I must admit – a pang of jealousy. 

My three oldest spent last week at Camp Loughridge– an amazing Christian camp in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  I know you’ve heard me sing their praises before – but guys – this camp is amazing.  I wish I had gone to Camp Loughridge when I was a kid.  You can’t help but just feel the love while you are out there…just stepping foot on their beautiful grounds makes me want to burst out into a rousing round of  Kum Ba Yah.

But I’ll spare you.

Kids Summer Camp

Morning Rally at Camp Loughridge

So – I decided to get some of my camp fix and follow my kids around Camp Loughridge for a day.  Much to their chagrin I might add.

I tried to be incognito – but it was a little hard with a baby in a stroller. 

Kids Summer Camp

Baby J and Baby Justice - Future Campers

Especially when the baby cried.  Really loud.

Kids Summer Camp

Well, maybe not.

So each kiddo was in a different tribe.  Nicholas was a Choctaw.

Kids Summer Camp

Nic and his fellow Choctaws

Tristan was a Seminole.

Kids Summer Camp

Tristan with his awesome counselor John

 

Jade was an Esther. (she was in the adventure camp for older kids – she even got to spend the night!).

Kids Summer Camp

Jade and "her girls"

The kids all meet together in the morning for rally then break off into their respective tribes.  Each tribe has one to two counselors for each group so no worries about kiddos wondering off.

Kids SUmmer camp

Yes, that is Tristan's sniper hat. Courtesy of his father.

They get to do all sorts of cool things like archery,

Kids Summer Camp

Nicholas was in weapon heaven

swim every day in their amazing pool,

Summer Camp for Kids

Camp Loughridge's Olympic Size Swimming Pool

field games,

Summer Camp

Tristan and crew playing kickball

ropes course,

Ropes Course at Camp Loughridge

Part of the Ropes Course - Rock Climbing Wall

the famous 50 foot rope swing – (for more awesome photos of the ropes course and zip line – click here)

Rope Swing at Camp Loughridge

Jade conquers her fears!

and so much more.

Every day I picked up the kiddos they were WORN OUT and asleep in the car before we even got home. 

Summertime with kids

Even Baby J was exhausted from just watching.

And they couldn’t wait to go back to camp the next day.  (Sidebar:  my kiddos LOVED the food.  Even my picky eater.  This is HUGE, people…). 

Isn’t that every parent’s dream?  (Or is that just mine.)

In fact – I’m thinking about applying for a counselor job there next summer.  I think Baby J and I would do a great job…we may be hitting you all up for references. 

So parents – if you are going nuts trying to figure out what to do with the kids for the rest of the summer – I’ve got good news.  Camp Loughridge has openings in their last few sessions!  Check here for the rest of their schedule…

My kids are already asking when they can go back.  I’m on that like a bee on honey.

Summertime at Camp

Proud Papa with crew at Camp Loughridge Closing Ceremony

Marnie’s Mommy Moment – Shane’s Travel Tips (two more days until the giveaway!)

Here is the latest Mommy Moment on Fox23 featuring my handsome hubby. 🙂  As you can see – Baby J was not at all interested in being on tv that day.

Don’t forget to comment on my last blog post for a chance to win gift certificates from Ding-Bats and The Gadget Company!  We will do the drawing on Friday.

Baby J says Happy Hump Day.  She’s ready for Friday.

 

Traveling with Kids? Tips From the Fernandez Family. (don’t laugh). And some travel goodie giveaways too!

Travel tips from the FERNANDEZ FAMILY?  Are you freaking kidding me?   Yes, I know, we could write a book on our travel misadventures.  However, with our misadventures comes the opportunity to learn from our many, many mistakes. 

travel families vacation tips

Yes, that is a camera man from Fox23 following us around at the airport. At 4:30 A.M.

In fact, we also had some help from Tulsa’s own The Gadget Company (my hubby’s favorite store) and Ding-Bats (THE go-to shop for baby and child gear) on some VERY helpful travel gadgets. 

 We’ll be showing them to you on today’s Marnie’s Mommy Moment on Fox23 Daybreak this morning.   And the awesome owners of these shops (Amy Adkins and Nicole Randolf) have agreed to give my readers gift certificates to their stores so you can also share in their awesomeness.  Just leave me a comment on my blog and you’ll be entered into win a $25 gift certificate from The Gadget Company and  from Ding-Bats! (they have online stores, so you don’t have to live in Tulsa to shop!)

And for those that know my husband for more than five minutes know that he is slightly anal.  But that trait comes in handy when packing for six people and schleping kids across the country.  He’s come up with a list of tips that probably saved our marriage on this last trip. 

travel tips vacation with kids

Yes, it's all "happy happy" until someone loses a boarding pass...

Shane’s Travel Tips

(editorial comments provided by his wife)

  •  Combine clothes into luggage based on who shares a room together – we did this for our California trip and it was so helpful. 
  •  Pack with a goal of no more than 45lbs per bag and pre-weigh before arriving at the airport. This leave 5lbs per bag for souvenirs/gifts purchased abroad   – The Gadget Company has a nifty little scale just for this purpose. 
  •  Pack all non-twist top toiletries in a zip lock bag and compress the air out before zipping closed. – Shane is much better at this than me.  I always end up with a bag full of exploded goo. 
  • Use the frame of the bag and shoes to protect fragile souvenirs on the way home
  •  Packing order:  (This is SO Shane – as I just throw things in there…don’t you all go thinking that I am this organized). 
  •        Bottom of luggage-Base layer of pants/shorts
  •       Middle of luggage- Fragile or bulky items (shoes, toiletries, hair dryers) surrounded by fill (underwear, socks, rolled t-shirts)
  •       Top of bag- dress shirts, sport coats, dresses
  • Use a bag that can expand but do not let your spouse know that it does – (too late Shane.:))
  •  Use luggage that has a unique look for easy identity at baggage claim – Ummm, our military themed sniper bags usually do the trick. 
  • Assign a bag to the kids and make them work for their vacation.  It’s helpful if they can walk first. Baby J didn’t do too well at carrying her diaper bag.
  •  Carry a piggy back strap
  • Fill the inside of your shoes with underwear, socks, etc to protect the shape of the shoe and fill voids
  •  ALWAYS carry spare underwear in your carry-on.  And make sure they are clean.  And hole-less. 
  •  Sit your kids down at baggage claim.  Leashes that you can tie to the chairs work too. 🙂  The Gadget Company also has a cool little luggage locater…you might be able to use it on the kids too…
  • Don’t forget the charger for the cell phone or computer – We’ve learned our lesson the hard way on this one.
  • Guess what?  You can check your stroller at the gate.  Learned this one the hard way too.  Baby J got REALLY heavy lugging her around the airport after our flight had been delayed like 15 times. 
  • And save your travel reciepts for at least six months.  This came in VERY handy when Budget Rental Car tried to blame us for a wreck that we did not do.  And they sent us a bill for TEN GRAND.  If we had not kept the receipt that showed our mileage when we turned in the car – they probably would have tried to take us to court.  Needless to say – we won that battle and will NEVER EVER USE BUDGET AGAIN. 
  • Make a lot of noise as you approach security with your family.  The guards will see you coming and give you your own security line. 
  • Make sure you are all sitting together.  I forgot that little detail and I ended up with a squirmy and fussy Baby J on my lap in between two very large men for a four hour flight.  And our boys ended up next to some unsuspecting man who I am pretty sure will never fly again.
  • Oh – and make sure your baby has her favorite toy.  For Baby J, this would be her Mr. T. Talking Keychain.  Everyone in our waiting area got to hear “I Pity The Fool” on repeat.  For like an hour. 
  • Travel tips family vacation

    Baby J's Mr. T impersonation...

But the most important thing?  Patience.  And a sense of humor.  Oh yeah.  And Shane’s number one tip?  Bloody Mary’s on the plane.

travel tips for families

Nicholas doing a little light reading on the plane.

Happy travels!  And don’t forget to comment for your chance to win gift certificates to The Gadget Company and Ding-Bats!  (they have online stores, so you don’t have to live in Tulsa to win!)

Cousin Camp. Not for the Faint of Heart – (and another giveaway from May Books!)

It’s been three days since Cousin Camp and I’m still recovering.  I’m also pretty sure my parents will think twice before having all six grandkids at their house for an extended period of time.  Or anyone in our family for that matter. 

It really wasn’t a formal camp – in fact – it was kind of an accident that all six kids ended up at my parent’s house at the same time.  An accident that drove even my mother to partake in my “Skip and Go Naked” vodka drink.  (but no worries, she didn’t get naked).

However, the four boys did.  Got naked SEVERAL times – without the help of vodka.  That was one of their favorite games.  In fact, I spent several hours picking up discarded clothes and trying to keep the boys at least in their underpants.  I mean it was really hot – but STILL. 

Another favorite game during “cousin camp” was “find the baby”.  This happened when all the adults were trying to wrangle the four boys and we realized no one was watching Baby J.  Then it was a race to see who could find her first.  In panic mode.  Her favorite spot to hide was in the bathroom while unrolling all the toilet paper.  Oh yeah – and she can also shut doors.  And sit in front of them so you can’t open them. 

camp summer fun

Baby J likes to hide incognito

Other activities at camp included the daily arguing over who played with what super-hero, ninja fighting in mom’s living room by all her antiques, daily trips to the snow cone stand (we filled two punch cards during our stay), and several mixed drinks for the “counselors”. 

summer time cousin camp

Downtime at Cousin Camp

Oh yeah – we also did a field trip.  My best friend lives on a farm outside of my hometown.  And she has horses, cows and even a pot-bellied pig.  Nicholas was in animal heaven.  Mommy was in allergy hell.  But all the kids got to feed a calf from a bottle.  Other than Baby J who freaked out – everyone thought that was pretty cool.  Nicholas is now jockeying for his own pig.  I’m thinking that is a great gift for his dad to get him. 

Field trip to the farm

Now this is some good stuff.Nicholas with his new BFF - Coco the Pig.

Now my favorite activity was “run the kids around the block several times in their pj’s before bed so they would pass out” game.  After a sleepless night the night before – -kids up and down all night, Baby J crying, dad’s water heater alarm going off, (seriously, he has an alarm for that.  And it is LOUD- I thought the house was going to blow up) and my other insomnia related issues – I decided to try a new approach. 

It didn’t go over so well with the kids.  But hey, they slept through the night. 

cousins crashed out on floor

Did I mention we also slipped them some Tylenol?

My dad’s favorite pastime was the “group time out” when the boys would wake up Baby J from her nap. 

Group Time out at Summer Camp

I highly recommend Group TIme Out

No, wait, I take that back.  My dad’s favorite activity was helping us pack up the car so we could leave cousin camp.  And never come back.

Road trip with kids

We successfully wore the boys out. Baby J is still a little stunned from the entire experience.

Now I keep a diary of all these things so I can pass along my stories to you.  And I keep it in a super cute notebook from MayBooks.  I met  Mica May earlier this year and she has fabulous stuff – check out her website – (great for gifts too!).  And one of you will get one of her adorable notebooks so  you too – can keep track of your crazy stories.  Or grocery lists, love letters, whatever floats your boat.  Just leave me a comment by Wed. June 15th and I’ll draw a winner!

mica may notebook giveaway

One of Mica May's super cute notebooks that I'm giving away!

The Scoop on Poop

Poop is a hot topic around the Fernandez Casa. 

The boys obsess over toilet talk.  Our dogs have irritable bowel syndrome.  Baby J alternates in between constipation and poop explosions(I’m not sure which is worse). 

Toilet Talk

Baby J's Constipated Face. A Face Only A Mother Can Love.

In fact, as I am writing this, I have just finished cleaning up dog poop in Jade’s closet and found Baby J in her bed sans diaper with poop all over the place (her latest trick – we are so proud).  In fact she did this another time that made blog history.

Hungry anyone? 

My oldest son spends more time on the toilet than any man I know.  And it usually happens at a public restroom where we have to go in several times to check on him.

Toilet Training

Nicholas enjoying some potty time. He's going to kill me when he's a teenager.

 My youngest son likes to talk about poop to whoever will listen…the latest victim happened to be some unsuspecting man who ended up sitting by both our boys on the airplane on our last trip.  Poor guy.  In between Nicholas and Tristan crawling over him several times to go the bathroom (after they announced it to everyone), to Nicholas kissing the seat in front of him (yes, we were disturbed too), to Tristan in his face every five minutes telling him about his latest superhero adventure – I’m sure this guy will think twice before getting back on a plane.

 But again, I digress.

 Where was I?  Oh yeah – poop. 

 SO I spent the better part of Memorial Day weekend cleaning up poop, puke and pee.  In the car, in every room in the house and even at my friend Jennifer’s house (sorry friend!).  Thank goodness she has a child or we may never be invited back.  We seriously just walked in her house – Nicholas sat down and promptly threw up all over her beautiful sofa.  Yep.  It was great. 

 Nicholas and Josie had some nasty stomach bug.  And the dogs must have had sympathy pains.  Because they followed suit pooping and puking in the house right behind them.  And I have a serious gag reflex (which I get from my father who I am sure has quit reading this by now). 

baby potty training baby baths

We took LOTS of baths at our house this weekend. LOTS.

 Not sure if it was the loss of my appetite from all the bodily functions or the energy I expended disinfecting our house a million times, but I did lose three pounds. 

 One more poop fest and I may be able to get into my skinny jeans! 

 Hey, gotta look on the bright side.