Our kind of camping...

Matt has been after me to go camping for years. YEARS. "Let's go camping!" he said, time after time. "It will be fun!" he said. But I'm just not a camping kind of lady. I mean, the bugs. And the utter void of climate control. And all the gear. And the snakes. Sweet baby Moses, the snakes.

My Pearl Girl isn't a camper, either. The bugs swarm her, for one thing. And also for a child who was born on the Equator, she has a ridiculously low tolerance for heat. The Captain and Sassafras have camped before at the local state park, and I mean really camped as in the primitive kind of camping. But that is not for me, not even one little bit.

But we tried it recently, this camping thing. We tried it in a way that was a compromise between Matt's kind of camping (Tent in the snake-ridden wilderness) and my kind of camping (Hotel. Suite, please): RV camping.

The five of us plus our gigantic dog loaded up over Spring Break and headed to Stone Mountain, Georgia for a week of family fun and togetherness. I had studied up on RV camping and had pinned a lot of pinny-things in hopes to make the week as enjoyable as possible. Some of those were valuable and others...notsomuch.

You know, one thing I'll never understand about all of you Happy Campers is why you find such joy in toting a lite version of your whole kitchen out to the wilderness. Camping prep is hard, and that's why I don't understand why it's so enjoyable for so many. Vacation shouldn't be hard, man. Vacay should be EASY. It's the law.

The first thing I realized was that it takes time to settle in to an RV. There were unavoidable reasons for this, but the way things turned out we had to just dump bag after bag of stuff in the thing, convince Jericho this house on wheels was OK for him to jump up in, convince Sweet Love to get in her car seat even though it was confusing for her to have to ride in a car seat strapped to the side of a kitchen, and hit the road. I needed time to settle in, but instead just played the same round of hide and go seek with every single item I had need of over the next few days.

Once we got on the road, I noticed was that the RV - I like to name things, so we'll call him Rob - Rob was N-O-I-S-Y. Matt drove while the girls and I chilled in the back, but the word chill is actually a total lie there. There was 0 chilling in the back of that rattletrap RV. Rob's kibbles and bits complained noisily against every single bump in the road and (you people know I'm already deaf) we basically yelled simple phrases at each other, followed by "huh?" for hours. What a delight that was.

Add to that the fact that Sassafras was out of sorts and crying that her ear hurt. Sass, who has had maybe two ear infections in her entire 9 years, was crying of ear pain and had a fever. I would stagger down the "hall" to Rob's back "room," try to talk to the peds' nurse, be completely unable to hear her, drop the call, repeat. THAT was the cherry on top of our delightful little joyride. 

Now, all of this was not helping my opinion of camping as a family activity, but after arriving to the Stone Mountain campground, things improved drastically. We got settled in, had a prime spot near the bath house, playground, dog park, and beach volleyball court/huge sand pit. We had our own grill, deck, and fire pit. We were just a few miles away from historic Stone Mountain, and spent a few hours one day checking that out.

One of the most significant parts of Camp Prep was figuring out what and when and how all of these people + dog were going to eat. I was also semi-stressed the whole time because the refrigerator wasn't cooling with, like, exact efficiency. 

The Pinterest proved really helpful with some tried and true camping recipes, and that part (the food, because of course) was one of the most fun parts. We came up with all sorts of fun and inventive ways to cook all of the things.  

 My three + some random kid who kept showing up at our campfire.

My three + some random kid who kept showing up at our campfire.

 Lots of sweet time with the J-Man! Our Jericho, I tell you, he is the most chill, most precious, and sweetest dog ever. He was calm most of the time, except for the rare moments when some random stranger man would ease up on his girls and THEN, oh man, he was not having it. This dog is Captain-approved!   

Lots of sweet time with the J-Man! Our Jericho, I tell you, he is the most chill, most precious, and sweetest dog ever. He was calm most of the time, except for the rare moments when some random stranger man would ease up on his girls and THEN, oh man, he was not having it. This dog is Captain-approved!   

It was so nice, though. Just to hang out and sit around in the peace and quiet, walk around and sniff it all in, and read for hours. 

 Steak and potatoes! 

Steak and potatoes! 

So there you have it. We finally figured it out...our kind of camping. 

From Scout to Jericho (with a little Lucy in between)

About a year after The Captain and I got married, we (I) got a tiny little kitten and named her Scout. Scout was this small but sweet solid black kitty who quickly became my Child Numero Uno. For the last 13 years or so, Scout was my cuddlebug, the cat who helped herself to my water glass, slept on my neck, and the one who got a "big sister" t-shirt when our oldest human child was born. Scout was a mild mannered and extremely loyal cat who survived the destruction of our first home, temporary relocation, and another move. I remember how every time we would pack to go out of town, Scout always climbed inside my suitcase as if in silent protest. She slept beside me and purred when I wept over not being able to have a real baby. She climbed in my lap when I was heart broken time and again during our adoption process. We went through some big stuff, Scout and me.

Scout got up and walked with me every single time I woke up to use the bathroom during the night through both pregnancies, faithfully following me to and from just to keep me company. She preferred me above anyone else, and tolerated calmer moments from our oldest kiddos. She knew The Captain was not a fan and so she gave him wide berth. Every once in a while she would disappear for a week or so at a time, and Matt would say this was it, something got her, but I would just shrug it off and say "Meh, she's just off on an adventure."

It pains me, truly, to now refer to Scout in the past tense. She was a good, faithful cat, and she brought me lots of comfort in some hard moments over the past 13 years. But even I can no longer ignore the fact that she is...well, she is just gone. And I don't want to talk about it. But she is gone.

Lucy is still around, but Lucy is a mostly wild feline and not even remotely interested in cuddling. Whereas Scout would lay back and let me cradle her like a baby, Lucy will basically scratch your face off if you try that sissy mess with her. Our neighbor friends call her "Killer" because she has been known to put up quite the show in taking out a nice assortment of reptiles, birds, and rodents. She's pretty useful, and that's why The Captain likes her best. 

Apparently I did too good a job of preparing our big girls for the someday that would come when we lost or had to say goodbye to a pet, because when we finally figured out that Scout really wasn't going to come back, they weren't even sad. It was just like "Mom, can we get a dog now?"

Cold-hearted chilrens.

Once we were really ready to have that conversation, I started reaching out to my buds in the pet rescue business. We have no problem with those who choose to purchase their pets from breeders, but that route just wasn't for us. A few of those reasons included the fact that we were looking for a dog old enough to be past the puppy stage, somewhat trained, something that wouldn't be aggressive toward our kids or Lucy, a sweet and calm temperament, and still young enough to have plenty of years left for growing up with our girls.

And man, did we ever hit the jackpot in our sweet gentle giant Jericho.

gentle giant Jericho

Jericho's story is one of abandonment and starvation, until a local animal rescue organization stepped in and saved him and a few others from what would otherwise have been certain death.

Two by Two Animal Rescue helps out animals in distress by nurturing them in foster homes before working to match them with families looking to adopt a pet. Some of their dogs are kept in a kennel area, but most are with families. That model most certainly worked in our favor, because Jericho's foster mom worked hard not only to bring him back to health, but also to train him in some specific behaviors that have made our life with him so far amazingly easy. He is crate trained, runs to the woods to do his business but always runs right back to us, does not jump or bark or play too roughly (despite his 75 lb physique!), and is generally an exceptionally calm dog. He is well socialized and has great behavior around other dogs and even cats...okay, so there have been these two times when he chased Lucy up a tree but I am telling you, she started it both times.  We had so many really serious conversations with the girls about all the hard parts of having a dog, but honestly...it has been really easy so far! So far...you know, all one week of having him!

I truly believe that we have Two by Two to thank for that. If you're in the greater Birmingham area and looking to help foster or adopt a dog or cat in crisis, please consider working with Two by Two. Their team is excellent, and they truly work hard to match the right pets with the right families. There are currently about 50 adoptable pets listed on their website, and those sweet little faces will certainly tug at your heartstrings! Check them out or share with someone you know who is considering adding a pet to their family.

Two by Two's adoptable pets