100+ Photos? Get ready.
This post has taken me FOREVER to get ready so I am so sorry. If you didn’t watch the video yesterday – go do that. It’s like the southern fusion appetizer to this half slab of a steak coming at you.
Things you should know – we went camping at a yurt (which is basically like a cabin with tarp walls) in Sweetwater Creek State Park. There is a few places in Georgia that have yurts and apparently they book up really fast for reservations during the sufferable months (ya know – the ones where you aren’t going to die from heat). We booked ours in February and did it in April and half the weekends were already taken so consider that if you are looking to do it. Our particular yurt was really nice – it had a fan at the top of the ceiling, a heater (which we actually did use night one) and all the furniture that we needed to sleep and eat.
The inside had a full bunk, a bar top table, a futon that laid down and we brought two pack n plays for our little ones. It also had keypad locks on the doors so everything was safe inside when we were gone.
We did have to bring our own bedding – so each bed got a flat sheet and each person got a pillow and a blanket. Nothing too fancy because we just honestly didn’t have the room to bring more!
The yurt also had a deck overlooking the lake and had adirondack chairs for mommy & daddy (at least that is what we told the kids – ha!).
When we got there – the first thing we did was go visit the playground and check out the facilities. The bathroom was a little hike away and it was shared by all the yurts but thankfully we didn’t need to do the whole ‘bathroom’ thing too often. I have the bladder of a champion (TMI? probably.) and the boys are well, boys and peeing off decks is their version of awesome.
Along with bedding and clothes, we planned for all our meals ahead of time and we picked up a STOK grill – it’s tiny and adorable and perfect for camping. I have this thing where I like our meat, well, cooked…and this was a lot more controllable than the fire 🙂
High chair hack for all you baby mama’s out there 🙂 It’s annoying to have to sit there the entire time they are eating – but having them off the ground means they aren’t eating gravel!
The kids must have spent a couple hours throwing rocks. It was endless entertainment. Will boasted the best skipping record. He said it was 11x but I think it was closer to 8. Way better than me though….my best was 2 🙂
I tried to sneak veggies into each campfire meal but it was HARD. I think I might get a book about campfire cooking because it was all needing a little more flavor. Any recommendations?
Wrestling. Always wrestling.
The nights were so quiet it was crazy. I expected more crickets and animal noise. I guess we live in the country and surrounded by woods so this with the lake was even quieter. Just a note that surprised me.
Cookin up breakfast 🙂
Eating before getting ready for our full day of activities 🙂
We had a booboo to address as we got out of the car to go hiking 🙂
Will was mad because he wanted to go swimming in the river and I said no. I love his mad face though. It reminds me of when he was a baby 🙂
The boys told me to pose with the flower tree…
I’m framing this one for Jeremy! So natural 🙂
After a mile hike, you can see an old mill that was set on fire during the civil war era. Overall – this park and this area has a very sad and disturbing history. It’s full of wrong-doings and overall…it’s just part of the Georgia history that is embarrassing but true. Don’t get me wrong. I am a proud American and I love where I live. BUT I thought this would be the perfect prompt to address this topic since this past week has been so filled with anger and grief and sadness. I like to wait a week before talking about things. It gives me a little process time. Jeremy said not to talk about it because so many people will nit-pick what I say but I truly believe silence is not the answer…so here goes….
Here is my stance on what is happening in our country. Racism….personal racism and structural racism exists in our country….and it is WRONG. It is ignorance. It is disgusting. It is lack of relationships. It is learned. It is ALWAYS WRONG. I personally can not understand the everyday struggle of a person of color. I don’t know what that feels like to be constantly at risk. My dad’s best friend and business partner is black and he is basically like my uncle (he would take my sister and I to Daddy Daughter functions growing up when my dad was traveling and Jeremy lived with him while we were dating) – he is family to me. The idea of him or his kids suffering through ANYTHING based on his skin color is like a stab in my heart. And that is just ONE small moment in what other people feel everyday. all the time. I can’t fathom that. Imagining that is suffocating. But I have to say this – I don’t know what happened in those videos or what police officers are seeing or trained to do – I am not the judge and I am not the jury. I don’t have all the evidence. I don’t understand the situation because I don’t have all the info…none of us do.
The info we do have is this – hatred, racism and any form of prejudice should not have a place in our hearts or in our minds or in our government. I know that if those men who were killed were my family….my grown children…my boys or my husband…I would be angry that they were not coming home. I would be heartbroken and upset and livid and fight for change in every little detail. I would be on the front lines demanding answers. I think we as a nation need a solution to combat that brokenness where people believe it’s an us vs them mentality….not just in race but in politics, religion and in every area of life. I truly believe that solution lies in relationships and education and laying down our own feelings of offense and picking up the burden of others. That is what Jeremy and I are choosing to do….we are choosing to lean in and form relationships in our own community where we understand better the struggles of others and where we can educate our boys and teach them to love others as GOD sees them…precious and worthy and beautiful….where we can teach them how to interact, cooperate with and appreciate our police and how we can instill in them the heart for being active change-makers in our nation.
As for the police officers that serve us every day – I am thankful for you. I am grateful to you and your families. I can’t imagine how hard it is for LEO wives and children who hold their breath every time there is a call. We have friends and family that work in law enforcement and the risk of harm and death is EVERY DAY. You make split second decisions and it is not an easy job in the least. Like I said before…I don’t know what that feels like to be constantly at risk. I can’t understand that either. But I know that if those police officers were my family – I would be angry that they were not coming home. I am still grieving that police officers were shot and killed. My heart goes out to those families that were left behind. We as a family are praying protection and peace over all the police and all the protestors and all the folks at home. That the change would happen in our hearts and in our communities and in our homes and that we would take the steps toward unity together for the next generation.
p.s. I’m not going to make this an open forum for criticism – if you want to have a supportive conversation in the comments – let’s do it but no fighting, deal? Also – I might move this section to it’s own post in the future so that the travel journal will be more about this trip and the discussion can be separate since they occurred months apart. Just wanted to warn ya 🙂
My carrier is a Moby Go – I think. It’s for bigger babies and is a soft structured carrier. Not sponsored…just love it 🙂
We had a snack at the river and it was literally the most perfect time. We did a full ‘snake check’ beforehand – always a good idea when in Georgia since we have a lot of wildlife here.
The hike back was a little longer than anticipated – we thought it would be fun to take a different trail but after we both were carrying kids (he had Weston who literally is like carrying a sack of potatoes) and I had the two little ones (Max in the carrier and LJ is like a little monkey that clings on) – we were exhausted. Like not cute, sweat pouring down our faces tired.
Thank goodness that the trail ended and we could get ice cream for us and the kids 🙂 Isn’t it amazing how ice cream is the ultimate cure-all?!
Maxi Knights stink eye 🙂
Everyone should know that Weston was OBSESSED with fishing. He even told us to call him “Fish Man” after this.
He basically lowered the hook into the water and pulled out his first one instantly. It was amazing and hilarious 🙂
Such a proud little moment….
I don’t think he has ever smiled this big in his life….
In the video you may have wondered what we were doing to the kid’s arms….we got these free tattoos from the park office and each one was a ‘badge’ that they had to earn by doing the task. It was fun and free and the boys were SO proud when they got all four badges for camp fires, boating, fishing and hiking 🙂
The last morning was exhausting – good thing we had coffee 🙂
Poor little LJ got sick with a little 24 hour bug that put him in a cranky clingy mood. We were headed out that day anyway and thankfully we all got it and got OVER it quickly. We still haven’t caught up on laundry though….it seems like we are still always two loads behind! ha!
The family photo….
and just look at Weston here….so funny….
We packed everything up and got in the car and….whomp whomp….it didn’t start. Apparently the kids had messed with the lights and drained the battery! So while we waited for a boost from the park ranger, we did another round of fishing…
In the end, it was an amazing weekend and we can’t wait to do it with grandparents next time….so tell me – what is your favorite camping memory? I think mine was seeing the kids faces as I told them stories in the fire light. It was so cute and magical and they didn’t know we were gonna kiss and tickle them and it was just PERFECT. Also – we were like championship s’more makers that weekend….like they would have won talent competitions they were so good. What’s yours?
Thanks for sharing your heart on all these issues… Lots of prayer and heart changes and wake up calls.
Also, my SIL has this, it’s aaaammmaaaaazing! Maybe got another trip? Contain all the childrens! https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B0072IINY8/ref=mp_s_a_1_1_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1468343788&sr=8-1&keywords=camping+high+chair&pi=SY200_QL40#
Thanks for saying something Katie. Jeremy is right, of course people will knit pick. However, silence is almost an endorsement that what’s happening is no big deal. Beautiful pics of your kiddos and family. I’m amazed at all that you do with four kids. Hard to look at such a sweet story without a moment of reflection with what’s been happening in our country and so many grieving hearts. Thanks again for saying something.
Yurt camping looks like fun! We will have to try that sometime. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on recent events. I read an article at the lazy genius collective titled “Why I Won’t Hold My Babies Close” that I loved. Not letting me link for some reason, but it rang true for me as well, check it out.
I have never been a fan of camping (the idea of sleeping in a tent on the ground in the woods does not appeal to me) but this looks like a much better solution! What a fun experience for your boys. Also, I appreciate your thoughts on the turmoil in our country over the last few weeks. I think you hit on some key themes – we need to acknowledge the issues on both sides and start an open dialogue about the realities and how to address them.
I use to think I could only camp if I had my Living Quarters Horse Trailer but heck Yurt camping looks good to me too! Thanks for sharing your experience! I’m going to have to check that place out.
That looks amazing!!! Hoping it’s closer to Charlotte!!!! I could handle camping like that.
Oh wow yurt camping (and the sunshine) looks amazing! My memories of camping always have masses of rain them, but perhaps I should try again. Thanks for putting yourself out there and sharing your thoughts on recent events.
Lisa T in NJ says
Katie, thanks for sharing your heart! I was kind of wondering/hoping you’d say something. So, I want to show my support and say I agree and love what you shared! I hope that everyone can keep it classy and kind on here in response.
Love the yurt camping ideas… I’ve been googling options for yurting up near me. My boys would LOVE it!!! (I have 3 boys – 4&1/2, 3 and 16 months). I’m thinking of booking now for next spring or early summer.
Did they supply lifejackets or did you have to bring your own?
Love all the pictures from your trip! Maxi’s stink eye was hilarious! Looks like ya’ll had a wonderful time.
I think you spoke very eloquently about the state of our country. We need people to speak up. I’ve had a hard time putting my feelings into words. Racism, prejudice, etc. is so bizarre to me. We are all created equally and we all have the same worth. I don’t understand how anyone could think differently. I want to wrap everyone in a hug and sing the Barney song. 🙂 I don’t want to raise my children around such hatred and violence. Praying for peace for our country.
That looks fun and relaxing…. but I’m not sure with 4 kids. Ha!! 🙂
Great photos too… Love seeing the boys faces with their fish.
When I was a little girl I would go camping with my Dad, the neighbor man and his boys. I can’t say I really loved it, I’m not real outdoorsy and being the only girl was kind of a bummer. We super roughed it, no tent, just put our sleeping bags on the ground. But, my favorite memory was one morning my Dad and I were laying in our sleeping bags talking and this man walked by. My Dad said “excuse me sir, but you’re in our bedroom”. Well, the look on this mans face was so funny, it still makes me smile to think about it.
Looks like you’re making some great memories with your kids.
Sandra Guilbault says
Thanks for speaking up, Katie. The recent events have been the turning point for my family too, from “gosh I wish things would change, I would like to share my thoughts but I don’t want to invite criticism” to “If I don’t say something, who will? If I don’t say it now, then when?”
I have just two boys, 6 and 3 1/2 and as a middle class white family I am looking into the best ways to educate my boys to be sure that the next generation of people of color will suffer less, and my children will not fear speaking up when they witness injustice especially when it is being done to those at a disadvantage.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings on the racism issues we’re facing right now in the US. As a lifestyle/DIY blog you of course don’t have to comment on current events, but I like your approach. Love, empathy, understanding…we all need so much more of these right now, especially for our black communities. As the “Why I Won’t Hold My Baby Close” article says, “the silent majority that ‘just doesn’t want to get into it’ can be silent no more.” I appreciate your risk-taking and bravery in broaching such a heavy topic. And I agree, it would make sense to split that into its own post.
Living in Colorado, we camp several times each summer – sans kiddos and in a tent with cots, though. Our favorite experiences have been when we camp on/near water and hiking trails. That way you can just walk outside your campsite and have so many options of what to do, without having to do extra research or drive anywhere. My best tips: buy/gather TONS of firewood, plan your meals ahead of time and keep them simple, wear one more layer than you think you’ll need, and take an extra blanket and towel.
We brought our own but I do think they have them in the place where you rent the paddle boats and other things. It just so happened that the yurt area has their own little boat rack for the canoes 🙂
Wow! That was a great post of your camping trip! Your guys are so lucky to have such an adventuresome mom! My idea of camping is a hotel room, lol! I am anxiously awaiting for your post on your Disney World trip! We are taking my son and daughter-in-law and our two granddaughters after Thanksgiving. They will be 5 and 22 months old at that time. I haven’t been in 6 years! I would be very interested in all of your advice and tips!
Hi Katie! Thanks for sharing your yurt experience, it makes me think about taking my kids camping too. Wondering what you did for food storage while you were there. Did you bring coolers? How did you keep food cold all weekend long? Any tips for how you decided what to bring?
My husband and I are just not beginning to talk about taking our girls (3 & 7) camping for thier first time. We love tents, but maybe yurts would be the best way to go to start out with. One question, how did potty time go? I didn’t see any mention of the facilities…as always thanks for sharing!
Great photos! Re: racism – totally agree with you, makes my heart hurt. Re: flavor of food – salt, spices, and pepper! Thanks for sharing…
You should invest in one of these. It has changed my life! 🙂
I told my husband last night we were going here! Did they have the stuff for the campfire or do you buy wood there? I was looking for October and a lot of the weekends are already books. I love these pictures.
Katie I just wanted to say you are so gorgeous!!!!
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. More importantly, thank you for praying for LEO every night. My husband is a police officer in Tampa, Florida. I pray every time he walks out the door that he comes home safely to me.
I am so not an outdoorsy camping kinda gal, you made it look like fun! Might have to try it one day!
We live close to Sweetwater and one time ended up on the most difficult trail by mistake. I literally laid down in the middle of the trail because it was so awful. It is a beautiful place to visit…just be sure to stay on the right trail!
As far as seasoning, Cracker Barrel sells their “campfire mix” that they use on their campfire grill meals and it runs about $3. It is pretty tasty! 🙂
We’ve hiked at Sweetwater before, but it looks like we’ll have to head back for a yurt adventure!
Fun fact: the burned out mill you showed was actually a shooting location for some scenes in one of the Hunger Games movies! There’s so much filmmaking going on around Atlanta now, I always get excited to see the locations in person 🙂
ooh that sounds easy enough!
xo – kb
Thank you for all he does and for both your service!
xo – kb
You have to buy the wood there – I think it is $5 a bundle…and the park rangers are really nice so you can always ask them in the yurt area and they will bring you a bundle if you have cash. It takes about one bundle per fire if that tells you about the size.
xo – kb
That looks amazing!
xo – kb
We brought a big cooler packed with ice packs and we planned for the first meals to be the ones that needed to keep cold and the later meals to be with stuff that didn’t need cooling – like regular ole PB&Honey 🙂
xo – kb
The facilities were nice – they had one big building for the whole yurt section – it had a mens, women’s and then ‘family’ which was lockable and it had the showers. They were clean enough – think locker room 🙂 We were in the yurt farthest from them and it wasn’t too far.
xo – kb
(Long time reader, first time commenter!) Thank you for sharing your thoughts about the current state of the world. Your words resonated with me and many others.
First, I love your blog, love, love love it! I was happily reading about your fun family trip and was actually pretty surprised you addressed the current state of race relations within it. I am so glad you did-. I think the only way to make change is if we all talk about it – so your “blog about everything” is a perfect forum. It was so thoughtful and caring to the hurt happening right now. I think when we share our hearts with people change can happen so I really appreciated you doing so on this topic. Also, I am a firm believer that when women get involved, organize, and teach our children that is when and how change really happens. Your words were so important. THANK YOU! 🙂
Second, as a camper myself (shout-out to girl scouts!) I can say that campfire food, particular foil dinners, need a lot of extra seasoning. I tend to bring the season shakers to help because foil dinner essentially steam the food that’s a pretty bland method. I don’t have a cook book I can recommend but pinterest (of course) has been a great source.
I love the picture of you holding little Max in the yurt. So beautiful.
We’re taking our kids (6,4 and 1) camping next month at Florida Caverns State Park for our 15 year anniversary. Camping in Florida. In August. We’re crazy. We Floridians tend to hibernate during the summer and here we are going to be camping in a tent. Ah well. We’ll survive. We can’t wait to show the kids the caves. They are going to flip!
When I saw the picture I was going to comment and say that it looked like the ruins in the Hunger Games movie! So cool.
How do you always have such great family photos? I can’t figure out how you are able to get these great pictures with all six of you. It can’t be a selfie through the phone because you’re always so far away. I would love advice on this! I love when you do photography tips!
I grew up in Alaska and we went camping frequently every summer. While I preferred camper camping, I’ve done my fair share of tent camping. Your pictures wanted me to plan s camping trip! As for campfire cooking, there are tons of recipes on Pinterest. We like to cook in a large Dutch oven on the fire or a small portable grill. I love foil packet veggies. I usually put sliced potatoes, onions and red or yellow peppers with a little butter, water and salt and pepper. If your kiddos won’t eat onions, just slice them large so you can pick them out. They add tons of flavor. I also love foul wrapped sandwiches. We use sandwich thins, honey ham, shredded cheese and thinly sliced onions. Wrap in foil and “toast” over the fire – SO good!
Thank you for speaking out on the happenings in our country. Thank you for being real and honest. It felt so wrong to read all these “fun and carefree” blog posts, FB posts and Instagram pictures when so much turmoil was happening. Ignoring doesn’t make it better…
I have definitely talked about it – it is set up with a tripod and a camera and a timer. We also use a remote and the kids actually really like the flashing light 🙂
xo – kb
This looks amazing! I will definitely be searching for similar places in New England (hopefully there are some)!
I do not camp a lot, but my family loves to make mountain pies in the backyard fire pit. We use this:
These cast iron pie irons are the best and last forever. The possibilities are truly endless with these. We love pizza pies, apple pie filling (adding some caramel in there never hurt anyone either…), tacos (using tortillas instead of bread), and reubens! I think it would be fairly easy to hide some veggies in one of these. Side note: my sister has an annual “Mountain Pie Party” where she supplies the bread, pie irons and a fire and everyone brings there favorite fillings for sharing. It’s always a hit!
Looks like a great time! Where is Max’s blue flannel romper from? We’ll be taking our 7 month old camping this fall and would love to get him one.
It’s actually a pullover for big boys from The Childrens Place. I bought all the boys one and they didn’t carry it in Max’s size so I cut off the arms to length and sewed a center seam in the bottom of the hem and then sewed the ‘arms’ to make new ‘legs’. It’s so cute on 🙂
xo – kb
Michelle | Birds of Berwick says
I had to stop reading mid-way so I could Google whether or not there are any Yurt campgrounds near me and yes, indeed there are!!! That looked so fun and the video was really sweet as well. Nicely done, Lady Bower!
Thanks Girl! Tell me if you go!
xo – kb
Just catching up to you . . . . lovely!!! Thank you for taking them camping and introducing them to the outdoor world of creation. I have a spiritual theory about why nature is so healing – it is full of pure spirit! In every spiritual tradition, there is a creation story . . no matter your religious practice, there is a foundation for understanding that people have egos. Nature and animals do not. A tree doesn’t care how thick its trunk is or how green its leaves are . . they simply put roots down in the direction of water and soil, and branches and leaves up to the sunlight. I am an engineer originally, but there is nothing manmade that is as elegant and complex and useful as a simple tree. My favorite Avett Bros. gospel was my great grandad’s “In the Garden” . . because I do feel closer to spirit when I am in nature. Nature is very healing . . . in different ways too – the mountains and pine forest has a different resonance and vibration than the ocean and shore, or the simplicity and quiet of the desert. enough .. you get it. And I’m writing you about this because I am especially glad that you wrote about the racial violence on both sides we have seen rise . . .. forget nitpicking . .people need to speak up and say . . racism is wrong, it is built into the systems that we grow up with and need to recognize our white privilege and lean in . .
Just like you did. Thank you for that!
Sorry this is late but obviously this one moved me. 🙂