Thursday, June 30, 2005

Summer Sailing Adventure - Always mind the boom when gybing!

.. or jibing, as some people spell it.

Lookout Mast - The 'crows nest' in front of the clubhouse. We were taught to always check the windvane at the top so we know the direction of the wind.
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl

One of the things that seems to trip up a lot of people when they are learning to sail is all the new terminology. I say terminology instead of jargon because jargon really means using words to obfuscate instead of to communicate. When sailing with more than one person (which is more often the case), communication is crucial.

To be fair, one must consider the factors that make all the sailing language (and I don't mean the cussing, even though sailors are famous for that too) necessary. Firstly, the water (and water-borne vessels) is a completely different environment than landlubbers are used to. New terms are needed to describe the things that waves, winds, and boats do. Secondarily, people have been sailing for a very long time. Consequently we have many sailing traditions and terms surrounding the same sailing concepts.

Sailing Dinghies - A couple of boats in our Pirate fleet
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl

Tonight my sailing classmates and I continued our initiation into the world of sailing traditions and terms. We spent the first 1/2 hour learning more about why it is important to always know where the wind is coming from (it determines things like if you can move or not) and what to call it when our boats are pointed towards, across, or away from the wind (the points of sail).

When your boat is pointed at the wind, it can't push your sails, and consequently you don't move. This is called being 'in irons'.

When your boat is pointed directly away from the wind, it's called running free. You set your sails way out to one side or the other so the wind can push on them and drive your boat forward. The downside to this is that the air is pushing on the front of your sail too, so you can only go as fast as the wind is moving.

When your boat is pointed towards the wind, but partly to the right or to the left, it's called close-hauled. You set your sails so the wind can push on them at an angle, but they have to be tensioned firmly for the wind to be used effectively.

Modern sailboats can only sail up to 45 degrees off the wind. If you try and point closer to the wind than that, you slow down very quickly, and it's pretty close to being in irons. This 90 degree span is called the 'no sail zone'.

When your boat is pointed across the wind or away from the wind, either to the right or left, it's called reaching. You set your sails so the wind can push on them at an angle and they can move your boat pretty quickly in any of these positions.

Sunset after class - The sun sets between the masts of our sailing dinghies.
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl

The next step is to understand that when you change the direction your boat is pointed at, you have to reset the angle your sails are set at so the wind can push on them the most effectively.

If you are close-hauled - moving towards the wind towards the right - and you turn your boat so it is pointing towards the wind towards the left, this is called changing tacks. Moving upwind zig-zag-ing back and forth across the wind is called tacking (or beating to windward in some tradtions).

If you are reaching - moving away from the wind - and you change directions, it's called gybing (or jibing).

Having absorbed all of the above, we took a pair of boats down to the water and spent time with our instructors learning how to position ourselves, the sails, and the lines when our boats are changing directions. There seemed to be an awful lot to absorb, but it always seems so when you're learning something new. I am sure that in time, things like remembering to stay close to the thwart so you have enough room to not get tangled up with the tiller extension will become second nature.

All of which brings us to the title of this commentary! Of the changes in direction you can take your boat through, the two that take the most practice are when you tack or gybe. Tacking is actually not too bad because what you are doing is crossing the no sail zone from one side to the other and your boat naturally slows down a bit, which gives you the time you need to shift yourself from one side of the boat to the other, switch which hand is controlling the tiller, which hand is controlling the mainsail sheet, all the while ducking as the boom and mainsail shift to the side you were just sitting on. Gybing is tougher because you have to do the same thing, but with the added pressure of the wind on the sail. The pressure of the wind can often cause the boom to swing quickly and unexpectedly from one side of the boat to the other. If you don't pay mind, you usually treated to a nasty whack on the head!

Crescent Beach Sunset - In the middle distance is the beach where we launch our boats. We don't have our own dock, but the water's quite shallow anyhow.
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl

Anyhow, if you manage to get the hang of tacking and gybing, you are apparently well on your way to becoming a proper sailor.

This evening our instructors took each of us out one at a time, for our first shot at boat handling and sail handling. All of the stuff I mentioned above was what we practiced, first as a crew person managing the jib sail, then as the skip managing the tiller and mainsail. Overall our class did very well. Only one person capsized their boat and that was because they got caught by a surprise gust of wind just as they were practicing a tacking manoever that got out of hand. No one laughed, since we had all been a little shaky ourselves. Instead we all cheered as Mike, the instructor, managed to right the boat again - without having been tossed into the saltchuck himself! - reset the sails, and brought the boat back around to pick-up the man overboard.

I was the last person to go out and Geoff let me take the helm after about 5 minutes! Oh boy was I nervous - especially since the wind had been getting more gusty as the evening wore on. The good news is that Geoff coached me through a few gusts and I got the hang of it enough that we didn't get knocked over like poor Calvin had. The bad news was that we ran out of light pretty quickly so I'll have to wait until next Tuesday before I can try my hand at the helm again.

Megan in black and white

Megan in black and white
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

I love this photo!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

How NOT to grocery shop

I should know better by now. I do know better. I pride myself on smart shopping - don't go when hungry, hit off peak periods, stick to the list unless you find a loss leader GREAT SALE......

Well - in my sinus congested haze - I made a grave error. I skipped supper (after having had an early lunch!) to go to the grocery store right in the after work/suppertime rush without a grocery list. The catalyst for this rash action was that I was OUT of decongestant! My head was stuffed solid - so like a common drug addict - I abandoned reasonable action in an effort to obtain the desired pills.

I made it to the store in one piece - but barely. The head cold affected my sense of balance and creating a floating/spinning sensation was certainly not conducive to safe driving. I half expected to be pulled over for "DUI" at any moment - though I wasn't under the "influence" of ANY chemical. (which was of course the problem). In addition my ears were plugged and my hearing was as if I was underwater.

Through some miracle - I actually had a quarter on me to get a cart with! But after finding the decongestant (which of course I couldn't take until I PAID FOR) - I simply for the life of me couldn't remember WHAT else I needed to get. As I pushed the cart through the store - the effects of low blood sugar began to catch up to me and the edges of my vision kept going gray and I kept starting to see double. FOCUS - FOCUS! I told myself sternly.

But it was useless - I was sick, hungry and close to blacking out - the only things I could focus on were the yellow "sale" prices on marked down items. I followed the "yellow tag road" from item to item as my world went from color to gray and blurred in and out. Looking only at each yellow tagged item to see if it was somethign that we might eat. If we would eat it - it went in the cart. When the cart looked fullish - I managed to make it to the checkout. I did not even notice the total - just handed over the VISA and signed the receipt.

Once in the car - I downed the decongestant, and 2 bread and cheese sandwiches before attempting the journey home. When at long last I pulled into the driveway - Allan ran out to met me. He had been concerned that it had taken me 2 hours to get decongestant. He grabbed some of the bags and exclaimed "HEY someone ripped open this package of cheese". "That was ME" I said - "I had to eat".

Imagine his surprise to find the grocery bags full of an odd assortment of things including "KRAFT" brand peanut butter, evaporated milk, 4 big blocks of cheese, 2 big family packs of cheese slices, Frozen chicken burgers, 3 kinds of frozen meatballs, veggieburgers, deli meat slices, tiny mini-go cups and the like along with a varitable pharmacy of vitamins and over the counter cold medications......not exactly my typical from scratch shopping trip! The reciept from the trip was an even bigger shocker - the total cost - $267!!!

And THAT is how NOT to go grocery shopping!

It's a sick, sad world out there

Innocent photos of naked or even just diapered children can be taken and re-posted on other websites for less than innocent purposes. Many mamas at several on-line boards I'm on have found out photos they have posted of their children are on such a board and are trying to do something to get the photos taken down; pursuing methods both legal and less so. I saw someone had posted that someone else (no I personally have no idea WHO) is going to try to disable the site via hacking route.

I was able to get on to it with another mama's registration (as registrations at that site have been disabled and you need a paid membership to view photo galleries anyway) and after a long hour going through photos did NOT find any of our precious M's. Thank goodness! But this is just another reminder why any cute but even remotely questionable photos of the M's should be shown to family members via e-mail and not uploaded or posted online.

If by any chance any family has photos of the M's that might fall into this category still online - we would appreciate it if they would be deleted. Anywhere where it's possible that they could be downloaded from.

We've even had our own sweet baboo's ballet photos online favorited by a very questionable looking flickr user. Though we have made all our photos undownloadable by anyone that we have not marked in flickr as friends and family - I still find it disturbing.

I'm not sure how much to worry about this in the grand scheme of things. How much does it really matter or not? But I do find it disturbing and feel bad for all the mamas tonight who have found out that the photos they shared on parenting boards have been used in ways they did not intend.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A Homeschool day

Today we did more "school" in one day than we have in a while.

Today has included:

Last day "rowing" the FIAR book: "The Very Last First Time." - with a focus on science and supplemtary sea life book.

Workbooks - Melissa and Michael each 3 pages. Melissa's Current workbook is Modern Curriuculm Press 1st Grade phonics. Michael's is Rod and Staff Preschool working book D.

Math - Intro to Lesson 18 in Math U See primer. They watched DVD twice - counting by 10's - practice with blocks with me and 1st 2 practice pages.

Reading practice 30 min each Melissa and Micheal (variety of resources including Phonics Pathways, Teach Your child to read in 100 easy lessons, home-made by Grandmommy easy readers and good old "Dick and Jane" reprints)

Letter of the day - "C" writing worksheets and "c" coloring pages/tracing sandpaper letter (mostly Maddy)

"Crunching Cookies" and "Cleanup"

Oh and Maddy made lunch "peabutter", jam, AND honey sandwiches. With only minimal help from me. She was very proud of herself!

Now things were helped along that Grandpa came out for a couple hours today - though he had the misfortune to arrive right when the M's were getting the lecture over the "oatmeal incident". I'll leave this to your imagination - just think "apple oatmeal" "twins" and "living room".

Now back a few years ago just the "oatmeal" incident itself would have been worthy of it's own post and funny story. But now I am a seasoned and jaded toddler parent. It no longer shocks or seriously upsets me to discover that the toddlers have unrolled a whole roll of toilet paper, stuck half of it into the toilet (full of preschool pee) and stuck the other half roll in yucky toilet/pee watery blobs all over the bathroom for the 2nd time in one day - "O.k. kids - twins are playing in the toilet again - we need to clean up".

Similiary - a preschooler taking bites out of the cheese and eating sugar with a spoon doesn't warrent a story. Neither does a 16 month old sitting on top of the computer monitor in the living room. "oh - just a minute Melissa - I've got to get Megan off the computer again"- these things are now just a matter of course. Normal happenings in a life with small children.

A few years ago, after a day with several of these instances, I would be phoning Allan, "Come home NOW! Melissa and Michael keep getting into everything and are driving me crazy!" - where today I am able to say, "Oh, we had a GREAT day." Odd. Very odd.

Summer Sailing Adventure - Home from the Sea

Tonight, I got to do a little living thanks to my wonderful wife. I am just now returned home from the first class in a beginner's sailing course that Cheryl signed me up for this summer as my Father's Day present for this year. It's actually two courses offered by the Surrey Sailing Club, but they cover the Canadian Yachting Association's White Sail 1, 2, and 3 levels across the two courses.

White Sail covers the beginner levels: teaching basic safety, boat-handling, and seamanship in winds up to 9 knots. Bronze Sail levels 4 & 5 teach advanced sailing techniques in winds up to 25 knots. Gold Sail levels 6 & 7 introduce racing and advanced racing techniques.

Cheryl was surprised to find that it has been years since I took a class for fun. It's been over 10 at least. The last time I was in a class environment for practically anything (where I wasn't teaching) was when I was taking basic sea kayaking lessons.

Tonight we were introduced to our instructors, Geoff and Mike, and to each other. From the comments around the room, I take it that the Sailing Club had divided the registrants into two classes - a class of the young whelps and another class of 'mature' students. Well, you can guess which class I got dropped into. Still, I think I was the youngest participant present. Geoff is a 3rd year university student and Mike only just finished Grade 11!

The next 1/2 hour we spent going over basic safey principles in recreational boating. Most of the rules were very familiar to me from my sea kayaking experiences. The lone exception was of course the reminder to always look up for power lines when moving your boat to the water and back. Sea kayaks don't have 20 foot masts, so this was a new one on me.

After that we were introduced to some basic knots used to fasten the various lines (ropes) on the day sailing dinghies we were going to be trained on. This part of the evening was again more entertainment than actual learning, but not to worry, because it took both instructors and myself assisting some of my classmates before everyone figured out how to tie a bowline knot.

Having unsnarled everyone's cat's cradles, Geoff and Mike next took us outside and introduced us to the boats that we would be learning to sail in. The sailing dinghies we are using are called 'Pirates', so the pirate fleet we will be, at leat for the duration of this course.

Geoff went over the boat and taught us the names of its parts - while reminding us that we'll need to know this stuff so when we're finally all on the water and they are instructing us from the power boat, they can use the proper names of things instead of having to tell us to "untie that rope .. yeah that one over there in the thing-a-ma-gummy cleat .."

After that we got to pair up and rig and unrig some boats on our own. Hoo boy. At least I picked a competent partner. We only forgot to set one thing - and that was to hitch the tack of the mainsail to the cunningham. Oops! Otherwise we were shipshape.

Our next class is Thursday and that's when we get our first shot at getting onto the water. I can't wait!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Arrgh! Return to Colds 'R' Us

Our sociable Maribeth caught a bug last weekend while we were out at Hope. She spent most of last week hacking, coughing, and being generally miserable. Cheryl and I hoped that the rest of us would manage to dodge the bug, but it was not to be.

Pretty in Pink
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

On Friday I started to hack. Melissa started coughing on Saturday. Megan's nose began to run on Saturday afternoon too. It was pretty much downhill from there.

We knew on Friday that we weren't up to the usual hyperactivity that goes on at church, so we planned a quiet day instead. By noon on Saturday, the kids seemed ready to get out of the house, so we decided to take advantage of our membership at the Vancouver Aquarium.

Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

You can blame me, because going was my idea. I should have remembered that weekends at the Aquarium are an absolute zoo, no pun intended. So much for our quiet day.

Ewwwww! - From wiping the runny nose right into the mouth! (No wonder these babies get so many colds!)
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

The kids enjoyed themselves, but we all paid the price as Melissa started hacking on our way home and then threw up on herself. Michael and Madeleine were still feeling okay, so I took them to a birthday party thrown for one of their little friends from church.

Butterfly - Hey cool, it actually turned out. I put the camera on macro mode, while a small person was jerking my other hand as I was trying to get this shot.
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Sunday morning we were all starting to feel pretty bad. Cheryl had a headache most of yesterday, but we weeded the flower and herb beds in front of the house anyhow.

We're Funny!
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Cheryl managed to get some sleep last night and was alright enough for me to call in sick this morning. She kept the house going while I slept as best I could through the day. The irony of it is that Maribeth is feeling fine now, while Megan is the miserable one. By this afternoon my throat was feeling a little better, and my headache had gone away. I got supper together while Cheryl went out to the gym and the grocery store.

We want your computer!
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Hopefully we've hit our collective low-point and the rest of this week will steadily improve.

Friday, June 24, 2005

By foot and by stroller

By foot and by stroller
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Today the M's were restless - so I packed them up for a "long walk." We set out with no clear idea of where we were going - just headed for downtown Cloverdale.

The kids were impressed: "Hey we're in a big city!" "I didn't know there was a big city near us."

We started with the library: read a couple books, picked out a few more books to check out, renewed the books we forgot to return, and made a bathroom stop where Maddy was already wet and had to wear one of the twins disposable diapers.

Then we walked past (and stopped to observe) some construction on the new Seniors centre - then over to the DQ for treats.

At large in the Library
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Then the road back (a different way home of course) with a stop by the grocery store before beginning the walk home. Having had bottles, french fries, and then ice-cream - both twins zonked out in the stroller for the whole walk back home and trip through the grocery store.

All told - I estimate that we walked approximately 4 miles! I'm much encouraged because this means we don't need the van to get out and do things! Maddy only whined and balked the last 3 blocks home. Michael and Melissa kept up easily. I am hoping they all sleep well tonight!

Masochist that I am - I went to work out at Curves after Allan got home. Plus I did Pilates last night. I'm definitely sore already!

All this exercise in hopes of actually starting to lose weight. In the 4 months since I started at Curves (and since I stopped nursing Maribeth) I have GAINED 3 lbs and I need to lose 20-30.

Being a touchy-feely Dad is important

Spotted this headline on this evening:

Study finds post-natal depression affects dads

Here's the link. And here's the Google search link, so you can find other online articles covering the same story.

For me the emphasis of this article should be on the importance of the emotional health of dads overall and not on the sensationalized idea of dads getting the baby blues too.

And while we're considering that point, personally, I don't see why the idea is so 'out there'. Granted, if a dad gets the baby blues it can't be attributed to hormonal changes or having to endure the same intense physical upheaval that women do, but husbands and partners who are emotionally invested in pre-natal process, do undergo a lot of stress too.

Anyhow, what I got out of reading this article is the importance of dads to connect emotionally in a positive way with their kids. Or put another way, it's not enough to just focus on the role of being a provider and only be a weekend dad. (.. He said guiltily.)

Potty Training: My New Maddy Plan

She is over 3 1/2 years old and she CAN go on the potty - she just usually chooses not too. I have her already in cloth pull-ups (made by my mom) or toddler prefolds/pins ONLY (no more disposable pull-ups or dipes at ALL). But she keeps putting off the covers and peeing on her clothes and then changing clothes AND cloth pull up - up to 8 times a day. As in she creates 1-2 loads of laundry on her OWN every day and I am completely sick of it.

So starting today - I said ONE change of clothes in the morning. You pee on it - you are in cloth dipe/training pants ONLY (which means NO playing in the yard as I think she's too old to be in public in only a dipe) for the rest of the day UNLESS we have to go out. No plastic pants in the day either in the house because she'll just pee in them until she leaks through the plastic pants and soaks her clothes anyway. Just plastic pants at night (and I mean Gerber plastic pants - none of this nylon/fleece comfy stuff). I bought more plastic pants AND some of the Gerber cloth trainers at Walmart tonight in hopes she'll be in underwear soon.

On the Potty - This was over a year ago now, and she's still not PT!
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

She peed this morning and soaked her dress. I didn't let her have another one or a shirt. She cried, screamed, fussed, pouted, tried to sneak more clothes, and had them removed. I was the meanest Mommy in the whole world. She did not get to play outside with the other kids.

BUT she used the potty the rest of the day and was dry from 9am until 9pm bedtime when she got a nightgown and plastic pants over the pull-up. AND that's taking herself most of the time - I only reminded her a couple of times and never actually went in the bathroom with her. That's a first for her.

Potty Cam - Always the ham.
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

So that's the plan. At least if she wets in just the cloth dipe or cloth pull up it'll be JUST the cloth pull up and not clothes too. It's summer, it's hot, she won't freeze. She knows how to go potty, she can take herself potty, she just generally doesn't want to bother - so I'm upping the stakes a bit.

Now tell me how mean and cruel I am and how she'll train on her own when she's ready.

Lockdown Over Here

We have just installed a padlock locking the cabinet with the TV shut, latches keeping the fridge and freezer shut, and a latch to keep the pantry shut.

Michael has been getting up in the very early am - waking his sisters and traipsing them down here to watch video's and DVDs before Allan and I wake up. They have also been putting videos/dvd's in when I'm out of sight during the day and putting up fusses about doing chores or working on reading or any other "school" stuff. Plus fighting constantly - which I think lack of sleep might be a contributing factor.

Plus they have been helping themselves to food out of the fridge and pantry in the morning and throughout the day and refusing to eat meals I prepare for them. Stuff like eating a whole package of cheese slices (AND leaving the plastic cheese slice wrappers all over downstairs and having babies almost choke on them!)and eating half a container of brown sugar. Taking 2 bites out of all the apples and leaving them around the house - I keep finding yucky partially eaten apples all over the place. Gross and wasteful. I'm sick of it. So we're locking stuff up since they can't be trusted.

I do feed them: 3 meals and 1 snack, plus the twins also get 2 bottles of formula a day still. No one is going to starve and water is always available to drink. Though if they figure out how to bypass the fridge lock, Allan says he'll install a lockable actual door on the kitchen and then they'll have to get unfiltered tap water out of the bathrooms in between meals.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Stop using your dryer to save big $!!

I stopped using our dryer almost completely over the last Hydro billing cycle to see how much of a difference that made. It made a HUGE difference! I knew it would affect SOMETHING being as we do a ton of laundry as a family of 7 with 3 in cloth dipes (plus we use cloth instead of paper towels). But the difference was way more than I was expecting!

Our bill that came today is $168, down from $252 last billing cycle! Even when it's raining - I've been moving the racks inside the house to dry clothes and outside when it's sunny they dry about as fast as our dryer.

It's been warm enough that we didn't have to have the heat on either billing period - so that's not a factor - it seems to be just the dryer usage that makes the difference!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Books that aren't worth reading and magazines that are

Yes - once again I have wasted an entire evening reading a horrible novel - something not worth reading. Yes - there are books out there so bad that that they are not worth reading - most of which seem to be found residing in the Curves book exchange basket.

I keep getting suckered into thinking, "Oh let's see if there's a book I can borrow while I'm here ... hmmm - this one looks like it will be good."

It never is and of course not. If the book was any good at all it would NOT be sitting there in the book exchange basket! Most people don't get rid of good books - just books they don't care to ever read again. It took me only 7 horrible novels to finally clue in on that one.

The only book worth reading / keeping that I've brought home from Curves was a book on "Surviving Prostate Cancer" written by a journalist. I've forgotten the exact title and the name of the author and am too lazy to walk upstairs to find out. Now THAT was interesting, informative, and well written. The funny thing there is I brought it home with me after hearing the Curves staff members derisively clucking amongst themselves about, "Whoever would bring a book on prostate cancer to somewhere that's for women only?" and, "Oh whatever shall we do with it?"

I think from now on I'll stick to the library - my sucess rate there has been a lot better. I'm almost finished with a good new library book - Animals in Translation : Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior by Temple Grandin.

Plus, I've discovered magazines! After a couple of months - the libraries put the magazines into circulation to be checked out. While I don't always have time to read a whole book - it's pretty easy to read at least a few articles out of a magazine. So I've been checking out all sorts of magazines - Popular Science, Newsweek, Parents, O[prah], Bicycling - all sorts of quality mentally stimulating magazines that can be read in short bits here and there. Today I even checked out some kids magazines for the children. It's a whole library of magazine potential - just there waiting to be read. No large time committment required!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

First Family Camp-out - We did it!

There are of course a haystack's worth of mental post-its from the past two days that I'd love to jot down here, but I'm getting old you ya know, and I can't remember even half of 'em.

Camp situation Who wants pudding? "I am a bear eating my porriage" These are almost gone - so hurry up with the food would you? Megan in the Dark Darkly Yours I was asleep, really No, it's okay. I don't want the flashlight. Maddy has the dreaded GREEN TONGUE disease Megan, party girl Maddy and the puppet hand say, "Hello" Just me and my bottle Great smile! Hot chocolate in the light of the flashlight Playing with flashlights in a dark field "off" bug repellant candle Michael investigates Michael is very silly Packing up
Camp Hope
A photo-set by Allan & Cheryl.

This weekend was the annual Filipino Campmeeting held out at the camp property our church has near Hope, BC. We decided to make this weekend our first try at camping out with the kids.

Pro's - This would be a car-camping situation near the camp lodge. Warm, heated rooms and washroom facilities would be nearby if the twins or the kids got too cold or fussy. If things got too bad, we would only stay one night and then come home.

Con's - Our weather this weekend was supposed to be damp - if not downright drizzly. Anyone familiar with how the (ugly) weather comes up the Fraser Valley and funnels to Hope, would have praised us to the skies for being prudent (though we would have felt like we chickened out).

My dad, representing the majority opinion, thought we were nuts. Well, he was too polite to say so in so many words, but he did his best to encourage us to get a room in the lodge, and we almost took him up on it.

The kids, on the other hand, were really looking forward to our first family camp-out. I took Michael camping last fall, and his sisters have been pestering us for their turn to tent.

The twins, were the real deciding factor, as they are now firmly transitioned into the toddling stage. Now that they aren't nursing anymore, are transitioning from bottles to real food, and are becoming more sturdy, our concerns about tenting with them have decreased.

In the end, we decided to go for it anyhow.

Executive Travellers
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

I planned ahead to take last Friday off so that we would have the whole day to pack-up, travel, and then set-up camp. I wanted to ensure that we would not have any time pressure on us when it came to setting up camp and making supper.

Thursday evening we shooed the kids off to bed early and then started our packing. Cheryl planned the food, clothes, and bedding, while I organized our gear. Tent, tarp, accessory cord, stove, fuel, etc.

Day 1

Friday morning dawned overcast and cluttered, but we had made our decision and got on with our preparations. I packed the van, and then Cheryl repacked it. In the end, we managed to get all our stuff in with breathing space to spare.

The drive up to Hope was uneventful - though the showers really didn't let up much. All of the kids napped, except for Melissa, who was too keyed up to actually go to sleep.

Madeleine and the tent
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

We arrive around 3 PM, and were almost the first people there! We stopped in at the lodge office and I ran into the mother of the only other Allan that I ever went to school with, back in Winnipeg. She said we could put up our tent anywhere around the back of the lodge (where the big RV's and 5th wheel trailers usually set up).

Camp Cheerleader - Someone is excited about camping!
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

I picked a spot under the biggest cedar I could find. It was so big that there was a 10 foot radius of dry ground around the trunk. I set up the tent on one side of it, and Cheryl started unloading the bedding from the van into it.

Madeleine, outdoors adventure show host - "And here, our sweaty assistant is setting up the tent!"
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

It was only after I had got the fly onto the tent (and Cheryl had set up everyone's sleeping pads and bags), that I realized I had pitched the tent's entrance facing into the wind. Oops. Cheryl took great glee in ribbing me that she had originally suggested the tent go where I eventually moved it to so that the wind blew across the entrances instead of in them. I parked the van to the windward side of the tree and tent, and we were set!

Crew unloading
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

In hindsight, I should have guessed that the kids would have a hard time going to sleep their first night in the tent. Cheryl of course knew how things were going to go, but I was totally unprepared for all the giggling, tickling, and general tomfoolery that went on after supper until well after daylight had completely faded. Call me dense, eh?

It's not bedtime - it's PARTY time!
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

They do comedy too..
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

One of the fun things that came out of this was that Melissa got to further her photographic career with some funny candids.

Mommy, say 'Cheese!'
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

In the tent
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

The kids eventually went to sleep, but the twins took full advantage of their newfound (crib-less) freedom and we found them sleeping in various parts of the tent at various times of the night.

Day 2

The next day was full of activities and neat moments. Even if the twins hadn't woke up at first light (along with the birds), the day would have been really long anyhow.

Thought to expand on - There were baby racoons in the great cedar which sheltered us.

Melissa supervising
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Now blow, gently ..
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Day 3

Sorry folks. Not quite done this article yet. Thoughts to expand on:

Packing up is hard to do, but it goes easier if the kids have bubbles (thanks again to AviatorDave!) to play with!

Wouldn'tjaknowit, but the sun came out just as we struck camp.

Everyone should have a Michael - that is, a boy who will scarf down porridge like it's pudding and not blink.

Camping Notes

Always make sure you bring a laundry duffle - a stuff sack won't cut it.

Toddler-camping = packing lots of clothes. This is why Lewis and Clark didn't bring a lot of the wee folk along, while the voyageurs could. Think backpacking versus canoeing; it'll come to you.

On our way out to the camp we stopped and bought an "Off!" citronella candle pot, as we didn't have any of our usual citronella candles for our candle-lantern. It turned out to be very effective and one if those things we will be sure to put onto our lists for future car-campouts.

Candle pot
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Another item that I am glad I thought to bring was and old shelf to use as a stable platform for our camp-stove. However, it wasn't quite a fully realized solution. It worked as intended - but my back would have been a lot happier if it had legs that raised it at least waist high.

The stove set up - a table would have been easier on our backs.
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

In the it sorta worked category - the outdoor rug. We're definitely bringing it along in the future, but it really won't work well until the kids are a bit older and understand how to use it properly. The idea is that you now have a dry place to take your shoes off before you get into the tent.

Looking into our temporary abode
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

To extend the thought begun above, with a nod to suggestions from some of our on-line friends, having the kids use sandals or slippers (in the summertime) is a good idea. The tent door or vestibule area is no place to be fussing with lacing up your runners or boots. I pretty much stayed in my flip-flops all weekend, while Cheryl dealt with her runners. It wasn't until Day 2 that she got wise to the method of my madness and switched to sandals herself.