Lead {CREEK} Valley

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve surely noticed that we’ve been camping, like always, but you may have noticed that I’ve been using the #leadcreekvalley on some of our camping trip photos and videos. Wondering where that is?!? It’s our family’s property in our small hometown. We always spent a lot of time there before we had children, but once we had kids it became harder to get out there. Especially to do any work while we were there. This year, since Mars is older and more self sufficient, we’ve been able to spend more time there. Sleeping in our camper, doing work, and showing the kids a good time! We’ve been cutting grass, cleaning up fallen trees, having campfires, swimming in the creek, and boating around the lily pad pond.

Chan to Mars Blog | Family | Lily Pad PondChan to Mars Blog | Lily Pond

At the beginning of spring, Chandler & I watched an episode of The Wild Kratts that talked about bats and installing bat houses. We went to the store the next day, bought two of them, and had the guys install them. You can see one of them hanging in this beautiful old oak tree. We’re happy to report that we already have at least two bats!! We saw them when we were out there on Sunday evening. You may wonder why we would ever want bats. Let me tell you . . . according to The Wild Kratts episode, which is where I get all my wildlife information, haha,  a single bat can eat up to 300 mosquitos in one hour after dusk. Chan to Mars Blog | Family Farm Chan to Mars Blog | Oak Tree

Our ultimate dream plan is to build a cabin there within the next couple of years. There is an old homestead on the property, likely built sometime around 1910, which is beyond repair. Fortunately, the foundation is in great shape and is reusable. We’ve already started collecting some building materials. I have no real timeline as to when this cabin building is going to happen, it’s just a “that would be nice” idea.

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Capturing Another Side of Vegas

It’s been almost year since our kid-free trip to Las Vegas . . . and I’m wishing that we had another trip planned for this year. But, we don’t. We’re holding off until next year to celebrate our ten year anniversary, likely somewhere on a beach.

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We love visiting Vegas. We love hanging on the strip, but the best thing we did on our last visit was rented a corvette and drove out to Lake Mead, across the Hoover Dam and through the Valley of Fire.  The scenery was breathtaking, so much so that we decided when the kids get a bit older, we are going to plan a camping trip to Lake Mead. I can’t wait to show the kids how beautiful the desert is . . .

Vegas.com is looking to #CaptureVegas, so I thought I would share with you guys a different side of Vegas. There are so many Las Vegas deals when it comes to attractions outside of Las Vegas. A couple of those attractions we drove through.

 

Annual {INDEPENDENCE} Weekend

This is the second year that we’ve gotten invited to our friend’s property in the country for the Forth of July weekend . . . and every year it is spectacular! The weather is wonderful, the fireworks are fantastic, the hosts are more than welcoming and the food is delicious. The kids have so much fun because there is so many of them, like seriously, so many! There are always other kids to play with and loads of toys. The kids do a lot of running around, driving power wheels, exploring the creek, swimming in the lake and asking the adults to take them on Ranger rides. We can’t wait to go back next year!

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Happy Camping Y’all!

Moon-Man-in-Pines

Hot Town, Summer in the {CITY}

Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty . . .

Regardless of the 93 degree temperatures and 90% humidity levels, we refused to stay in the house and took in a couple of outdoor activities in St. Louis this week. The St. Louis Zoo is absolutely fantastic! We always have a wonderful experience there and every time we go we see something new. Unfortunately, the big cats and the new polar bear were not visible when we went on Tuesday, but a lot of other animals came out to play . . .

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Today, we visited Grant’s Farm and totally pushed Chan out of his comfort zone by feeding baby goats, riding a camel and throwing food into a camel’s mouth, he’s a little skittish around animals, especially large animals. His favorite part was running through the water mister and eating a snow cone.

Carousel & Camel Rides Grant's Farm Goats Misters

HONY-QuoteThis quote captured by HONY in 2011, reappeared in my Facebook newsfeed today & I thought it was totally appropriate for the summer. I’m going to let you in a little secret and with all the camping that we do, you’re probably not going to believe it . . . here goes; I hate summer, I hate bitting bugs, I hate heat, I don’t like to get “tan” & have a strong dislike for pools, beaches . . . and, uhg, don’t even get me started on water parks! But, I go out and do it anyway, I sweat through it, and endure the heat of that hot miserable sun to make memories for me and my boys. Summer breeds memories! Think back to your childhood, what do you remember most? SUMMER . . . swimming, frolicking (yep, I use to frolic) and playing outside all day long!

An {ENCHANTING} Thirtieth Birthday Party

Remember my friend, the one that always throws parties with me? Like this one, this one, and this one. We always help each other design and style our children’s birthday parties, with the addition of a few adult parties here and there, but this is the first time we’ve had our birthday party together. Her birthday is June 17th and mine is on the 28th . . . We normally keep our birthdays low key, but this year I’m turning 30 . . . Low key was not an option!

See, my friend & I were/are deep into the show “Once Upon a Time”, since January of this year we joked that the party should be fairytale themed. During our party planning meeting in April we came up with the idea to have a more formal party, a cocktail party. Then, we went for it . . . it would be an enchanted forest cocktail party. Originally, we wanted to encourage people to dress up as their interpretation of their favorite storybook character, but when we were choosing our outfits we realized that would be way too difficult for everyone. We chose whatever dress looked best on us, regardless of the color, fabric or style, ha!  So, we kind of ended up dressed as Snow White & the Evil Queen 😉

Step one, find the perfect venue. Thanks to all of my friend’s research, we found it . . .

Soulard Station Enchanted Forest Party

Soulard Station is this quaint modern rustic venue that holds about 40-50 people indoors and 100 when using their outdoor space. The best part about the venue was that we could bring in our own caterer and drinks. Step two, get a caterer, bartender and servers. Total Cartering in St. Louis always does an awesome job . . . The owner always works with us on all of our requests and it is always delicious! Enchanted Forest Party Focal Table Enchanted Forest Party Food Table Detail

Step three, decorate the crap out of this place! The table decor was all stuff that Gwen & I collected around our houses and pulled from other parties that we’ve had in the past. I painted the gold branch and made the floral lantern with flowers from Dollar Tree then we hung these glass balls filled with moss from the branch. Enchanted Forest Party DecorEnchanted Forest Birthday Party - Snow White & Evil QueenBe Our Guest to an enchanted forest partyWe had such a great time! We ate, drank & danced the night away. Thank you to everyone that helped, especially our husbands that go along with all of our crazy ideas and bossiness, ha! And thank you to all the people that came to party.

 

Camping With Kids {WITHOUT} Other Kids

Last summer we went to visit our friends that travel for a living, since they were a mere six hours away instead of 10-12 hours like normal. You can read about that trip here: Have Camper {WILL} Travel. Well, this summer they moved back to the same campground in IL after spending the winter in TX. The first weekend that we both had available, we packed up our things and made the trip again!

Camping with kids - Chan to Mars Blog Camping with kids - Chan to Mars Blog

Last year, we actually visited on my birthday weekend. This year we happened to visit on mother’s day weekend.  Now, I’m not going to lie . . . this is a hard trip for the boys because there are no other kids to play with. What 4-year-old wants to go camping only to be “stuck” to play with his little brother, who he plays with all the time? Definitely, not my 4-year-old! We only had one day of good weather this trip. Compound bad weather, limited outdoor play, no escaping your baby brother & you have a recipe for a disaster. There is nowhere for the boys to have their own “space” in our camper, so if they’re not playing outside then it seems like they are fighting inside.

Here’s some things we did wrong on this trip:

  1. Forgot multiple toys. Meaning two of a certain type of toy. We {ALWAYS} over-pack in the toy department & the kids barely play with any of it. Well, the time that we probably should have over-packed, the time when we are going without the entertainment of other children, we severely under-packed on toys. We forgot our sports balls, which keep the kids entertained around the campsite while we’re cooking meals. We forgot one of the bikes and we forgot to pack the little brother his own separate toy cars to avoid fights over his big brother’s toy cars.
  2. Didn’t pack rain gear. It rained the entire way there, while we were setting up, and while we were packing up. We forgot rain gear!! Rain coats, boots . . . we didn’t have any of it. We had two options; let the kids get soaked and cold or contain them in the camper. We let them do a little bit of both by alternating them in and out of the camper while we were setting up and packing up.
  3. Did not stick to the kid’s meal schedule. The only nice day we had, we were so excited to get out and about that we totally neglected the kid’s eating schedule, which is breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner. Luckily, Mars snacked so much throughout the day that he didn’t even notice that he missed a meal. But, Chan was hanging with dad and frankly dad’s just do not think about those things. It did not end well.

Even though we made mistakes this trip and there were a few meltdowns, myself included. Our drive home was wonderful. It was a splendid Mother’s Day drive. We stopped at a lovely rest area in IL that had a little walking trail, picnic tables & a playground for the kids to run around and burn off some energy. It was my husband’s idea and it was a wonderful one. If you’re traveling with kids, definitely take advantage of rest stops for potty breaks and meal breaks . . . and eat the food you have packed! Way less stressful, healthier and free entertainment.

Rest Stop Trail

Happy Camping Y’all!
Moon-Man-in-Pines

9 Reasons Why We {LOVE} to Camp!

Reason #1 – Great sensory play . . . which is an ostentatious way of saying that we let the kids get dirty!

Reason #2 – Time together.

Reason #3 – Fresh air.

Reason #4 – The kids sleep {GREAT} when we’re camping.

Reason #5 – Very little screen time, another pretentious way of saying that we don’t watch TV or play with electronic devices. We generally watch one movie a night & that is solely to encourage Chan to come into the camper and {STOP} playing outside . . . occasionally, he’ll need two movies if he needs some time to cool down (mentally & physically) during the day.

Reason #5 – S’mores. Need I say more?

Reason #6 – Seeing beautiful places fairly cheaply.

Reason #7 – Limited cell service. The e-mails, phone calls & text messages can all wait!

Reason #8 – Campfire pizzas, aaaaannnnddd . . . {BACON}

Reason #9 – Getting away.

Chan-at-CampsiteMars-at-CampsiteRay-Behren's-Campsite-FunChan-&-Mars-at-Mark-Twain-Beach-Chan,-Mars-&-Daddy-at-the-Beach

Happy Camping Y’all!
Moon-Man-in-Pines

Funky {FAIR} Fun

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The {STAPLE} of summers in the midwest is the superabundant county fairs. I do not necessarily anticipate the county fairs, but I do like to attend them when we can . . . not because of the nostalgia, but because I love to take photos of Chandler at the fairs! He totally {SOAKED} in all of the excitement of the fair this year . . . the rides, the games and of course, the cotton candy. He had a blast and we even won a goldfish, we named him Orange Juice.

Shirt from Art of War Project 

To read about what’s behind Chandler’s band-aid, see Happy {INDEPENDENCE} Day

Happy {INDEPENDENCE} Day

Guess what we did for the 4th of July holiday . . . we went camping . . . yep, again! We got invited to spend the weekend at a wonderful farm in the middle of nowhere, which was positively {PERFECT}.

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There were so many kids to play with; they spent most of their time getting Gator & 4-wheeler rides from adults and driving themselves around in Power Wheel Jeeps . . . they were literally on-the-go the whole weekend. The dads had a blast putting on a firework show for all of us & it was really {MAGNIFICENT}. Our hosts could not have been anymore hospitable! It was just a nice, quiet . . . with the exception of the fireworks . . . weekend.

Although, I should mention that on Saturday night, Chan Man crashed and burned a little bit after jumping on a bed, he feel off & hit his head . . . yes, just like the little monkeys. He hit his forehead on the corner of the coffee table & it is the 1st time that I’ve ever seen my baby boy bleed . . . urgghh, I was a hot mess! Luckily, everyone besides me was calm & we ended up not having to make a trip to the hospital. Less than 20 minutes after the incident, Chandler was back to his normal self.