Friday, August 13, 2021

7 Quick Takes about Camping Trips, Listening to Your Heart (and Belly,) and How You Know I Was Born in the '80s

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?


Having kids gets interesting once they're old enough to share their observations on your parenting/character in general.

We went camping this week, and while we were sitting around the campfire the teenagers were comparing my and Phillip's respective crabbiness levels.

"Mom gets crabby a lot, but when she does she doesn't get that crabby," my 15-year-old said. "She yells and stuff, but she gets over it quickly."

"And Dad doesn't get crabby very often, but when he does he's really grumpy," the 17-year-old observed. Turning to me, she explained, "So Mom, you favor quantity and Dad favors quality."

Just another example of why Phillip and I work so well together: we fit together like two interlocking puzzle pieces. We're crabbiness soulmates.


We went to the same campground as last year, (yes, the one with the pit toilets) and had a great time. Except the 9-year-old for the last 30 minutes of our stay, when she accidentally ripped her swimsuit all the way up the back and then found a leech stuck to her foot.


Other than that, it was a really nice time. The weather was great, we didn't forget anything important, and it was fun to spend time together without having appointments to run to at all hours of the day.

The 7-year-old trying to start a fire like he saw on a wilderness survival show.

Renting kayaks and paddleboards on the lake.

Phillip brought his beautiful handmade hammock in the colors of the Venezuelan flag that he bought when he lived there as a missionary in 2002. At one point I looked over and there were FIVE children in it, most of them hanging out the sides like carousing characters from the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, and wondered if he ever imagined it was going to be used for that.

We left on Monday and got back on Wednesday, and now I'm completely messed up. In my head vacation equals weekend, so I kept thinking the day after we got back was Monday. It wasn't.


We also scouted out the rest of the campground and picked the site we want to reserve next summer: it's just to the left of this waterfall:

Not should it be fun for the kids to explore, but the rushing water should help drown out their noise for the sake of everyone else in the area. (I'm not sure what was worse for the other campers this year: having to listen to our kids' yelling or listening to me hissing "Be quiet!" a hundred times a day.)


While we were out of town a friend came to feed our rats each day, but my 13-year-old was concerned about them getting bored since we weren't there to play with them throughout the day. 

He made them cardboard toys containing food that my friend could leave in the cage when she went home, giving them something to occupy themselves.

There was The Veggie Vault:

He had to get creative in order to make a cube, since he wasn't allowed to use materials like tape or glue that weren't okay for Piper and Scout to eat.

There was also The Berry Barrel:

We put big slices of a strawberry in this one and the rats had to get them through the spokes.

Piper and Scout aren't huge chewers. They could have gnawed a hole in either one to extract the food but we knew they wouldn't.


Do you know Mr. DeMaio? I've talked about him before on this blog, but Mr. DeMaio is a YouTuber who makes, as his YouTube channel description says, "educational content that is funny to like 19 people." It's ridiculous and goofy, and my kids love it.

When my 5- and 7-year-old were carrying on a conversation one day that consisted mostly of Mr. DeMaio quotes, my 15-year-old joked, "We should have Mr. DeMaio Day around here."

Well, we ended up actually doing it.

Soliciting suggestions from the kids, we put together a day filled with running jokes from Mr. DeMaio videos.

We ate macaroni and cheese and popcorn for lunch (see this video,) had a water balloon fight (see this one,) and made chicken parmesan for dinner (see here or here or pretty much any Mr. DeMaio video.) Then at the end we watched a Mr. DeMaio Q&A that just came out; in this video he was completely normal and all the kids were like, "That was weird because he wasn't weird..."

So thanks for a fun-filled day, Mr. DeMaio: you deserve more subscribers because you make educational videos that my kids beg to watch just for fun.


Getting my 7-year-old to eat is a neverending battle, because he thinks eating is boring and doesn't recognize his hunger cues. It may go back to when he was in the NICU on a feeding tube, I don't really know. 

After discovering that his frequent complaints of belly aches were actually hunger pains, we've been trying various methods to get him to eat more. For a while, using these plates as incentives worked. When his interest waned he started earning screen time by filling in his daily calories on a blank thermometer instead.

But lately we've been finding food hidden around the house, so apparently he's found a way to have his cake and... not eat it.

We've switched gears and our newest tactic is using a hunger rating scale. Throughout the day we ask him how his belly feels: '1' is completely empty and really hurts, and '10' is so full you're going to throw up. 

I've been surprised that he's actually good at identifying how hungry he is, it just doesn't seem to signal the need to do anything about it. When he gets up in the morning after not having eaten for 12 hours, he'll report that his "tummy is at a 1" and then go read on the couch ignoring it.

A gentle reminder that he needs to listen to his belly and get it to a happy 7 or 7.5 usually does the trick. For now. What do you all do with your difficult eaters??


A little while back, my kids' soccer club sent out an email survey and I indicated I'd be open to volunteering for a soccer equipment swap at the beginning of each season. 

The person in charge sent an email to the three respondents who said they could help, with the opening greeting "Hi Jen, Jenn, and Jenny!"

It may as well have said, "Dear soccer moms born in the '80s." I've got a feeling I'm going to become a meme in the next few years. I'll be the Karen of 2030.

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Ann-Marie said...

That camp ground looks amazing! I feel so bad for your nine year old. That must have been all levels of traumatic.

We don't have picky eaters over here, so I can't offer any ideas. But, when we were kids and visited our grandparents, the adults had cocktail hour before dinner each night. My Grandpa would fix us Shirley Temples, complete with a cherry. He had a HUGE jar in the pantry. We would sneak into the pantry all the time to eat a cherry. But then we had to hide the stem (couldn't just throw them in the trash!) So after we would leave, my grandparents would find cherry stems all over the house, tucked into small places!

And very creative toys for the rats! Well done!

Angela Caswell said...

I want to go to the waterfall!

me said...

I would suggest that you have your son eat in front of you or your husband, so food cannot disappear only to be excavated later. Can your doctor or medical professional talk to him about need fuel to grow and learn - it might make more of an impact from someone else. The hunger scale is a great idea - maybe he can train himself to recognize the need to eat.

Make sure he has something he enjoys to eat available (as an addition to a meal or as a snack). Have him give you suggestions.

His meals should include something dense nutritionally and calorie rich . Eating 1 cup of food is not good if all he's eating is lettuce or baby carrots. Meat, cheese, nuts, and brownies help.

I have a picky eater (which is different from your son's case), who would just not eat if I had only things for a meal he doesn't like. So I make sure there are acceptable things that he does like as an alternative to the meal I cook. Cereal, bagel, grilled cheese. Maybe I should force him to eat other stuff, but really , that just leads to control issues. I've been around the parenting block too long to die on this hill.

jen said...

#7 reminded me of college where we had 8 Jen's in the friend group. The descriptors got pretty interesting.

Kassie said...

I feel you with the Jennifer. I had three Jennifers in my third grade class with another in the class across the hall. My sister's name is Jennifer and both her husband's brothers also married Jennifers...

That camp ground looks wonderful!

Jenny Evans said...

I also have a sister-in-law whose name is Jenny Evans. It gets very confusing.

I finally told Phillip's family to put me in their phones as "Phillip's Jenny" so I stop getting her texts.