62 In Life

Campfire Coffee & Other Musings


First, before I talk about adventures in camping, in the last post I failed to list carrots in the ingredients of the Hearty Bean & Barley soup… they’re in the instructions but not listed in the ingredients. I have added them now, but in case you copied and pasted pre-edit… you’ll need about a handful of carrots {I use petite baby} sliced. I’m not calculated in the kitchen which makes relaying recipes to you all kinda complicated! But, carrots do make it better, so don’t leave them out!

Now, moving on to our adventure. It was really good! We got a late start, partly because we had to stop for an air mattress on our way. We were camping on Justin’s family’s land, which thankfully afforded us a very wilderness feel, but there was running water about 100 yards from our tent and a toilet {so, does this even count?} ! When we arrived it was 6:10 pm and pitch dark,Β  which left us to assemble the tent by headlight, not ideal, but we managed to get it assembled in about 45 minutes. The tent was fresh from the box and ENORMOUS. I believe Justin’s dad won it a few years ago and gave it to us, it’s been in our garage ever since. Anyway, it’s a monster; 9 feet tall, sleeps 8 adults {which I can’t imagine 8 adults in 1 tent}, and has 3 separate “rooms”.


Thankfully when I was in picking up the air mattress I grabbed this little lantern. It proved to be worth the $7 I paid for it because the only other light source we had was a flashlight {or 2}. Rover quickly found the Girl Scout Cookies and insisted they were donuts and he may have had a few before bed.


Look, our tent resembles my house!

Have you noticed Rover is rarely without barnyard animals?


It was really dark before the moon came up and I tried to take a few pictures in the pitch dark, something I don’t have a lotΒ  of experience in and a tripod would have been tremendously helpful!


The girls weren’t scared at all and loved every minute of being outside. The busied themselves as the moon rose looking for frogsΒ  on the shore with flash lights.


It wasn’t long after that that we all piled in the tent for a good night’s sleep! πŸ™‚ The kids were on their pallet and we were on our half-inflated mattress listening to frogs, owls, and crickets. The air mattress would have been a good idea, if we could get air in it. Three compressors, two that didn’t work and one that only kind of worked, left us with a half-inflated air mattress, and it didn’t take long for us to realize, a half-inflated air mattress is worse than the ground. So I snuggled in with the kids, who actually fell right to sleep. They were sleeping on a memory foam mattress topperΒ  with a down comforter and it was warm and cozy. Unfortunately, it was a queen… so there was just enough room for me and 3 little rovers but one big rover got left on the ground with a cotton blanket that left him very cold. I had a North Face sleeping bag that must have been made for arctic adventures because I was sweating within an hour of getting in it, Justin didn’t find this as funny as I did.Β  Within a couple hours of falling asleep the little Raiger said, “Mommy, I think I’m going to frow up!” so we rushed her out of the tent and Justin let her get some fresh air by the fire. I got out and decided to take a few pictures, because isn’t that the practical thing to do at 1 am? The moon was full and right over our tent… the best nightlight God could have given us!



We can camp in February because we live in the Deep South. This property is actually on the Florida line, which also means… we watch out for alligators. Something, thankfully we are very aware of, but not terrified of. A quick survey of the water before bed indicated that there was one little gator in the pond and he was as far away from us as he could get, but we kept the fire kindled all night and kept tabs on him throughout the night when we weren’t sleeping.


Once more, a couple hours later, Raiger thought she was going to “frow up” again… Justin took her out for fresh air and after that we all got tucked back in and the next thing we knew it was bright in our tent. And it was clear to me that Justin had been up early working on his hair!


Seeing the light fill our tent was like a crossing a finish line… I made it and it was fun! I don’t want to do it again real soon, but it was fun and we all survived, a little sleep-deprived but we made it!



The sunrise was beautiful and everyone was ready to start the morning with the exception of Rover. As most of you probably know, two-year-olds are some of the more irrational creatures on the planet. He did not want to come out of the tent. He had been in and out of it about 25 times the night before but Sunday morning, he wanted nothing to do with coming out.


He had a few donuts {in the tent, never a good idea} and then refused to come out.


This is when I realized two things. One, how thankful I was that we weren’t at a campground with other campers as he screamed at the top of his lungs at 7:30 am. And second, I realized that maybe he was crying because he looked down and saw that I put red socks on him with shoes that weren’t intended to be worn with socks. I’d cry too.

He finally came out and joined the girls by the campfire. We all looked like we could have used a few more hours of sleep.


Justin brewed up some campfire coffee and my morning vastly improved. He told me coffee tasted better by the campfire and he was right.



Morgan explored while Justin made breakfast.







You will not see any pictures of us eating our breakfast because we forgot utensils and closely resembled scavengers.


Despite not feeling up to par, Paiger managed to throw several hundred casts, usually catching small pieces of grass that she asked me to pull off the hook each time.


Rover, after reacquainting himself with life outside the tent, kept busy with his various animals.


And we wrapped up our adventure with a mule ride {the kind with wheels not legs} around the farm and took a quick peek at the bees!





We made our way back to our campsite, hitched the Airstream to the back of the truck and off we went. No… just kidding. We came back to the campsite and spent a good bit of time taking everything down, letting the tent dry, and re-packing the truck with the exorbitant number of pillows that I brought while the kids sat in the truck and fussed. Justin graciously offered to come back down later in the afternoon to fold up the tent because it was still wet with dew.Β  In all honesty, we had a great time. Nothing fun comes easy, right? Next time we’ll plan a little better, get there a little earlier, bring utensils, make sure the air pump works, and I’ll bring my tripod…. but besides those things we made wonderful memories and I hope to do it again! But don’t think I’m not still convinced that an Airstream isn’t a wonderful idea!

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  • E @ Oh! Apostrophe
    February 22, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    You slept in a tent and there were alligators… it totally counts! I love the sleepy morning campers pictures, so fun!

  • cat from constant in chaos
    February 22, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    loved it all. but why were there no pictures of you? πŸ˜‰

  • Tara
    February 22, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    I loved seeing your Le Creuset skillet over the campfire…you’re a more generous wife than I…mine’s not allowed out of the kitchen!

  • Becca~CapturingSimpleJoys
    February 22, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    aside from missing utensils looks like lots of fun! i have such fond memories of camping growing up and yet we haven’t taken out kids camping~tragedy! maybe this summer πŸ™‚ it’s waayyy too cold where i live for me to want to camp in a tent, although people do camp in the mountains with snow all the time. just not my cup of tea!

  • Kate
    February 22, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    What a lovely camping adventure…

  • Nelle
    February 22, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    What a wonderful, fabulous bunch of memories to carry with you for always. πŸ™‚

  • Megan
    February 22, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Love Justin’s bed head – hee hee!

  • emily/thesearethedays
    February 22, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    I love how you mentioned camping in Feb. in the Deep South! It’s the best time. I’m itching to get out there now… your pictures have inspired me to find a campground before it’s too hot and humid.

  • Anna
    February 22, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    It look like you all had a wonderful time!

  • HannahJ
    February 22, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    OH- how I enjoyed this recap- what a lovely little trip! You are always so honest and totally enteraining- I think the tip of being on private land and not in a crowded campground is a good one!

  • Audrey
    February 22, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    What great memories your kids will have of trips like these. We camped as a family when I was a kid and
    now my DH, son and I camp too.
    I’ll never forget the first one though…
    I thought I was so smart… I packed everything and then some
    except for coffee!
    I thought I’d die…..3 days and no coffee..ACK!

  • Kristen {a little ditty}
    February 22, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Love the camping recap, Darby! Sounded like a great time, until I heard about the baby alligator, haha. I’m more used to the raccoon type rascals while camping, not sure if I could handle a ‘gator! You guys are brave down there! Think its so fun that you did this, great memories for the rovers! Love your sunrise and Moon pic with the pines too!

  • Beth
    February 22, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    You are a brave, brave woman. P.S. Justin’s hair in the early morning shot was the best picture of the entire post!!

  • Melissa
    February 22, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    You’ve given me the camping itch! So fun!

    Oh, and I’ve made two batches of the peppermint patties (or as my three year old calls them “peppermint pappies”) and I’ve quickly learned that if I don’t give them away immediately, I will eat them all.

    Every single one.

  • Julie
    February 22, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Oh my! You’re brave! Eek! I am not a camping person, but I think it would be fun to give kids that gift every now and then to see what all the fuss is about. I vividly remember the few times I camped with my youth group and it was quite an experience.

  • Susan
    February 22, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Oh, the things we do for love! Your children and husband are so blessed to have you. I am afraid after seeing the alligator, I would have stayed in the car! You are making such wonderful memories. Thanks for sharing.

  • Melissa
    February 22, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    So glad you survived!! And sounds like it wasn’t as horrible as it could have been. I hope you try it again – and take lost more photos.

  • Jen
    February 22, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    So glad you made it through the trip without any actual “frowing up.” what a fun family adventure. i like camping, but only in moderation…

  • Katharina
    February 22, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    Congratulations on building the tent in 45 Minutes in the dark! It looks HUGE! Bacon and Eggs look delicious ;)I bet this will not be your last camping trip πŸ˜‰

  • Beth
    February 22, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    Darby, I love your blog!

    This looks like so much fun:) As a child, camping is what we did for entertainment year round. (And we did it just like this; old school. No camper. Just a big tent!) And it was fun. Lots of memories. John and I have been contemplating a camper. I think we would love it. And this post gave me even more motivation:))) I love your pics! And your children are beautiful!

  • Regina
    February 22, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    Gorgeous pictures- you have 3 gorgeous children! I admire the braveness in taking your 2 year old camping. I don’t think Regan would fare as well. (I know the screaming would happen with us, too). I may attempt it this summer, we’ll see…

  • alison g. (brazil)
    February 22, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    You’re so amazing (and brave!) I don’t know that I would have tread on the waters of camping w/ three rovers – You’re such a warrior!

  • Amanda
    February 22, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Looks like fun! I LOVE the picture of the sunrise over the water. So pretty!

  • Sherry
    February 22, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Bravo!! I’m not a camper–seems like double the work for the Mother. I much prefer room service at the Ritz. So proud of you.

  • Lindsay
    February 22, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    I just laughed out loud for approx. 5 minutes while sitting all alone in my office. Your line: “it was clear to me that Justin had been up early working on his hair” was just too hilarious. And then every time I looked back up at the screen and that picture I cracked up again. Awesome. Thanks.

  • Amanda @ Serenity Now
    February 22, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    You are so brave!! I bet Justin was proud of you. My husband would love for us to go, but I had to camp when I was a kid with the Brownies and I hated it!! Hated! It didn’t help that my mom had also told me the story of her friend and the friend’s boyfriend getting eaten by a Grizzly bear one summer when they worked at Glacier National Park (it’s true, I Googled it!). I’ll take a motel and a continental breakfast, thank you. πŸ˜‰

  • Anna
    February 22, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    That is just the cutest little camp ever. I’m sure the kids will remember nothing but how awesome it was, and want to do it again and again. We pull a tiny trailer house that my grandparents bought new in the 60’s. It makes me so happy that the 4th generation of our family is enjoying it just as much as the first. I have to say how darling I think it is that you packed your lovely white pillows and down camping. πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing your trip!

  • kayce hughes
    February 22, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    What a fun adventure! When we were little we had a ranch in florida and we would swim in a small pond with an alligator. I don’t know what my parents were thinking. we would feet it marshmellows. Years later it did come on shore and try to attack someone. I guess me and my little sister were too small.

  • Kelley
    February 22, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    I think that may be the BIGGEST tent I have ever seen.

    Glad you all had fun!

  • pam
    February 22, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    yes, be careful of the alligator. i watched a show recently about a family camping by shore and an alligator attacked them. ok, fine, so it was in australia, and maybe a huge crocodile like only you get over there, but still…

    5 families on our block went camping nearby last summer. hubby and i stayed at the local b&b. he knows me only too well.

  • Becky
    February 22, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    I truly think this was your most entertaining post EVER! I had so much fun reading it, I really do hope you go camping again and still forget to bring things. The only thing that would have made it better would have been some pictures of you guys eating with your hands!

  • WendyLou
    February 22, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    Yup. We tent camped exactly three times with our littles before we purchased our first pop-up camper πŸ™‚

  • julia
    February 22, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    The last time I went camping (and the last time I will ever go camping) the temperature dropped into the 30’s (in Florida!) and I woke up to the sound of MASSIVE animals having a fight right next to our tent. I stayed awake the rest of the night praying that I wouldn’t die alongside of my kids and also needing to go to the bathroom (turned out they were wild boars).

  • Cindy's Crafty Creations
    February 22, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    I loved reading about your camping excursion. We camp at least 6 times a year and this year I’m thinking of bringing my 2 granddaughters who are 1 and 3 years old. Your pictures were absolutely gorgeous. Thank you for sharing πŸ™‚

  • Nicole
    February 22, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    I have been following/reading your blog for a while but don’t always comment. First, you are so funny! We used to camp quite a bit and it was always fun/crazy all at the same time. We either had too much stuff or not enough! Funny how that works out right? Good memories though…our kids all still talk about it. Hoping to do some more camping this spring summer.

  • annek
    February 22, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    My favorite place (or one of them anyway) to “camp”…is Fort Wilderness at Disney World. Play areas for the kids, a “beach” by the “lake” , A light parade at night and fireworks you can see from the campground. Bike paths, boats to rent, etc…and lighted paths to the bathrooms with their hot showers. We enjoyed that many times with our friends and family. Perfect “camping” for me!

  • Kathy
    February 22, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    You don’t need an Airstream, just get a small pop -up. We have a pop up with two king size beds, a shower, toilet, oven, sink and microwave.
    ( ok it’s not small, but they make them small). Anyway, we have had so much fun camping in it with our three kids ( 10,8 and 2). Some of our favorites are: white water rafting in North Carolina, Grayton beach state park, Wynn Creek – Lake Martin and Desoto state park. Glad to see other young families camping. It’s gets better once the two year old gets a little camping experience. We also take our dog and bikes too ! I don’t know how, but it all works out and we have a great time.

  • Debbie
    February 22, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    sounds like a successful trip!

    thats great that you had such a big tent!

  • Gina
    February 22, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    Gators? And I complain about mosquitos! I wouldn’t have been able to sleep a wink! I love your comment about 2 year olds and I 100% agree! You kids are adorable!

  • Stephanie
    February 22, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    I just adore your little ones and family! That looks like so much fun, maybe I can re-think the camping thing…especially if there could be a hotel REALLY close by!

  • Andrea
    February 22, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    This sounds very similar to our camping trip with three kids. Love the pictures and Justin’s hair is looking good! That cracks me up.

  • Jessica
    February 22, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    Camping looks so much fun to me right now. Can’t go camping in WA at this time of year.
    The air mattress is essential though:)
    Cute post…..you survived!

  • Sara
    February 22, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    The hair comment was awesome!

  • Miranda
    February 22, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    Aww so much fun, defintely getting a tent for the Mr. and take camping trips!

  • danielle
    February 22, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    I love this post!! You always make me laugh! And the trip totally counts because there were alligators…no way in the WORLD would I sleep with alligators!

  • Dianne
    February 22, 2011 at 11:41 pm

    I loved reading this!!!! What a wonderful time you had. πŸ™‚

  • Minnesotamom
    February 23, 2011 at 12:28 am

    You seriously have the most adorable family. I have been thinking about camping a lot lately (tried to check out books on it this evening with my girl at the library…all. checked. out.), as we’d like to try it this summer with the kids. Your post gave me hope that it could possibly work. But we should probably try it on my husband’s parents’ land first. πŸ™‚

  • Lexi
    February 23, 2011 at 12:57 am

    Just saw this and thought it might be perfect for you to enter! A little airstream trailer giveaway! https://littledebbiemission.com/?utm_source=mamabirddiaries.com&utm_medium=banner&utm_content=180×150&utm_campaign=bloggers

  • emily
    February 23, 2011 at 3:12 am

    I’m still stuck on the fact that baby boy was eating girl scout cookies … why do I not have any yet? Must go find a girl scout tomorrow.

  • Leigh
    February 23, 2011 at 8:07 am

    What a wonderful start to my day, reading the account of your adventure over coffee! I too have been following your blog for over a year and have never commented. But I thought I should finally let you know that I look forward to all your updates and we are proud owners of a few Honey Bee tees!

  • Charlotte
    February 23, 2011 at 9:58 am

    Enjoy reading you blog from time to time — your camping trip sounds like great fun! Have two grandchildren that I need to take camping as I don’t think their parents are going to do this. I love looking at your photographs of your family and have read your information concerning your camera. I got a Canon SLR digital similar to yours for Christmas and am looking for a wide angle lens. I see you have posted that you bought one from a friend but you don’t say what kind it is. If you would recommend the kind you have, please let me know what it is. I suspect that you have answered this question many times but I cannot find that info on your blog. Thanks!

  • Melanie Marsh
    February 23, 2011 at 10:43 am

    whoah….alligators! You are a master camper in my eyes!

  • kathleen
    February 23, 2011 at 11:04 am

    When one tent camps at a state park for the first time, you think the site is a good one, the rest rooms are clean and close and plan for a visit around the campfire. You are thus reminded when the sun goes down, the other residents of the park come out for the nightlife. You may discover the trees appear to be moving and suddenly notice your site is a short cut for raccoon on their way to make their nightly circuit. Yes, a fight may break out over food left out and not secured or they maybe attracted by the aroma of your dinner that lingers. Have no fear the brochures of rules and helpful hints are provided by campground staff. Usually, a bundle of wood is sold for campfires because gathering tree limbs to burn is strictly forbidden. Proper planning, lists and engaging everyone to make a contribution to the camping trip ie ask the children if a playground with swings is a good thing, help. Most state parks have excellent websites with photos of a typical site , recreation offered and of the views. The selection is varied and often reservations are needed, call ahead.

  • Perfecting Pru
    February 24, 2011 at 3:50 am

    It looks absolutely wonderful (even without utensils or the air matress). I have only camped out once and that was in someones back garden. Now I *almost* have the urge to do it again!

  • Lynne
    February 24, 2011 at 8:16 am

    Darby – my husband and I were just talking last night about how excited we are to get camping! we have taking our 3 kids tenting a number of times over the past 10 years or so, and last summer we bought a new pop-up trailer. it’s not an airstream, but it’s still quite nice compared to the tent! We are in ND, so no camping for us until probably May πŸ™‚ Loved seeing your pictures. Yep – that’s pretty typical! When you remember the utensils, you’ll just forget something else!

  • Debbie Howard
    February 24, 2011 at 9:35 am

    Looks like you had a great time. Brings back some really great memories with my family.

  • Sam
    February 24, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    At least nobody “frew up!”

    Anytime you sleep on the ground it totally counts.

  • Holly
    February 25, 2011 at 10:07 am

    How fun! We do a one-night car camping trip each fall in the TN mountains with the kids (I think it’s called car camping where you drive to campsite vs. hiking in?) and it is fun and easy. Even easier for me as my mom does all the food shopping & packing & my dad handles campfire & cooking. πŸ™‚ Will definitely be easier next time if you get there before dusk — I can’t imagine setting up a tent in the dark!!

  • Mary Lanier
    February 25, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    This is just about the most fun thing ever! My little one is only 17 months but I totally can’t wait to do this! Loved those sleepy little eyes waiting for breakfast! And, donuts in the tent…really never a bad idea! πŸ˜‰

  • Sara Watson
    February 25, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    Alligators?!? While camping?!? You are a brave one my dear, don’t think I could handle that one!

  • BeckyB
    February 27, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    The memories you’re making with your kids are worth every sleepless hour you spent on the ground. I loved reading this and peeking in on your adventure via your wonderful pics. Those eggs looked fantastic!

  • domain
    October 16, 2014 at 2:47 am

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