Stop Trying to Find Perfection

camping, camping with kids, kids, real life -

Stop Trying to Find Perfection

*This post is ported over from Lisa's personal blog, and is the beginning of a series of posts giving you a glimpse into our family adventure history.  We look forward to sharing these stories with you.

There are so many benefits to kids (and adults!) spending lots of time in nature and the outdoors. Numerous studies highlight the developmental and emotional benefits of free exploration in nature, unplugging from electronics and slowing down. Kids, however, are still kids. We are still human. There is still whining. And meltdowns. And tween angst. And grumpy parents. Our days aren't perfect at home. They aren't perfect on hikes either. They're especially not perfect on camping trips. Sometimes circumstances get the best of us. And sometimes we're able to just push through for a bit and come out the other side successfully and happily. Last month, we took a camping trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to camp on Lake Superior. It was GORGEOUS. 

Lake Superior has always spoken to me. I headed down to the beach every day, telling myself I would only pick up a rock if it was a special one. Five minutes later, my pockets would be bulging and my hands full. We came home with our entire small cooler filled with rocks. (Please note, if you are at Pictured Rocks National Seashore, it is illegal to take rocks.) We found the perfect campground- Lake Superior National Forest. We found the perfect campsite. Overall, we had an amazing time. We camped with my dad for the first time since my mom died, and although that aspect was really difficult, it was so nice to be able to spend that time with him camping again. The kids had a fabulous time playing on the beach, splashing in Lake Superior, making shadow puppets in the tent, gathering rocks, watching the stars, enjoying s'mores.

Here are some highlights and some of the reality behind the pictures, too. We got out of our truck to start setting up, and we were literally swarmed with giant mosquitoes. We came prepared with three different types of bug spray and citronella candles, so we sprayed ourselves up and lit the candles. We pushed through and although we got eaten up a bit, it was cool enough that we could wear long sleeves and pants to prevent anything really awful. 
Eleanore helped to build the campfire one night. Not pictured is her constantly asking ALL afternoon if it was time yet to start building it. It's hard to keep my patience. 

Josephine smiling in the pack and play. Not pictured is her constantly shrieking to be given more graham crackers and baby mum-mums and then throwing them over the side of the pack and play.  I guess she just wanted to eat rocks and sand instead.

We found some amazing places to pick wild blueberries. Not pictured is ME panicking every time we drove over a rut in the dirt road with a giant puddle. I was so nervous we were going to get stuck somewhere with a car full of kids in the middle of nowhere. 
  A blurry picture of Adelaide joyfully skipping down the North Country Trail. Not pictured is that this was after my THIRD trip to the bathroom in thirty minutes because the kids each "realized" separately they needed to go every single time I returned from taking another child.

Camping with four kids is a little like childbirth. Oftentimes letting the frustrations (or pain) fall away is difficult in the moment, but the joy of a trip is there once you get past it. I'm not perfect. I get frustrated. I yell. I have to remind myself to take a deep breath. I have to censor myself in the moment. Really though, our trip was amazing. Sometimes I just need to remind myself to let the frustrations go and enjoy it. And give myself permission to fill my pockets full of rocks. They were all special, anyway. 

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