I have happy memories of camping as a child. Marshmallows by the fire and heckling my cousin who always lit hers on fire. Poking at the fire with my pyromaniac sister. Walking with flashlights to the outhouses at night and trying to convince my cousin that I heard a bear. Eating Opa's crepes spread with raspberry jam for breakfast. Biking through the trails with our family and stopping to throw rocks in the creek. It was pure fun. Now that I am the mom, I realize that behind all the fun...is a lot of work and packing :) . Sleeping bags. Propane. Camping dishes. S'more fixings. The playpen. Clothes for everyone. And on. And on.

We were packed to the gills and I was a wee bit crabby by the time we got in the van. However, by the time we got to our campsite to meet up with our friends who had gotten there early and set everything up...the spirit of "The Happy Camper" was upon me again. I remembered those good times of my childhood and was ready to see my kids make some of the same memories.

Our friends, Jeff and Shannon, and their kiddos, Jacob and Hannah made the trip such a great time. Our kids leapt out of the van and immediately began stomping in the bushes with their pals, looking for wild animals. Tymen would gasp, "BEARS!!!" and Ruby found footprints. It was all very exciting.

Shannon and I stayed behind with the napping baby the first morning and by the time we got down to the beach to join the dads and kids who were going to walk BY the beach, the kids had launched themselves right into the water. Forget the swimsuits, underwear will do for little boys.

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Muscled brothers.

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Here's our friend, Jacob....a sweet "big" boy that my boys so looked up to.

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Jeff was making the boys laugh like crazy when he made faces as they dumped water on his feet. Shannon was quick to scoop up the baby all weekend. She's a sweetheart of a friend, so thoughtful and easygoing.

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Theo was happy to join in the fun.

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Ben took a quick nap in the afternoon (that guy can fall asleep anywhere!) and Jasper covered him with his blankie and tucked in Giraffey. That's love, folks.

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Hannah and Ruby banded together to read books, draw, play frisbee and have girltime.

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Tymen got his first fruit roll-up from Miss Shannon and he was really digging it.

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Right after I took that shot, he told me he needed to go potty. Since Ben wasn't around to task with the yucky job of little boys to the outhouse (stinky, smelly, flies stuck to fly tape-ewwwww), I took him. Of couse he was putting his hands all over the potty and seat despite my frantic warnings not to touch. We finished up and I marched him over to the tap with wash his little hands when I noticed he had all his fingers in his mouth to suck off the fruit rollup remains! Bah!! Bah!!

Here he is scrubbing away, laughing at my distress. That kid is going to have an immune system of steel.

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We took lots of walks.

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Down to the pier to look for jellyfish.

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We each planned for a breakfast, lunch, and dinner and then cooked every other meal over the next two days. What a great (and easy) way to go! Here I am, frying some potatoes.

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Shannon didn't really get a break because she was left with feeding my hungry man bits of bread while he waited for his meal.

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Here's Jeff, who apparently a) felt terrible stomach pangs from my meal b) likes flexing his muscles c) was pretending to be chiseled out of stone.

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Shannon laughed at how dirty, dirty, dirty Tymen was constantly and said he reminded her of the character "Pigpen" from Charlie Brown. Touche, my friend.

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The Chubster was contained in his playpen (an invention from heaven indeed).

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Love that mushed up little face.

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In our tent. Watching these boys stretch and wake up and cuddle and snuggle up to the baby when I plunked him down in the middle warmed my heart. Making memories can be a lot of work (and a lot of cleaning) but it is so, so worth it.

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Good morning, Sunshine.

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Later a little breakie.

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We sure chose the right friends to camp with. Helllloooooo! Egg and sausage biscuits. Ha-le-lu-jah!!

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The Chubster wasn't the only one yawning. His mother was as well, after three wakeups during the night and extra feedings to keep the baby from rousing the campground.

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Here I am at the end, ready to take a shower and flush a toilet, but so glad we made the effort and really happy for great friends to share the experience!

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