How Not to Camp with a Toddler


Pete and I took C camping this past weekend. It was not nearly as successful as our trip to Algonquin last summer, when C was a baby. On that trip, we were able to tote our not-yet-mobile ten-month-old around on hiking trips and I was able to enjoy delicious, delicious beer by the campfire at night. Those were the days.

But alas, this time, things did not go so smoothly. Here are some of the things we learned the hard way last weekend:

1) Don’t get sick on a camping trip.

On our first (and ultimately only) night, I started to feel a sore throat coming on, but I figured that maybe it was just a bit raw from sitting around a smoky campfire all night. Oh, no. That was denial. I woke up in the middle of the night with my throat on fire. Soon enough, C was showing signs of being sick as well. Three days later, as I write this, we are both still sick and completely miserable. Why are summer colds the worst colds of all? Ugggghhhh.

2) Don’t let your toddler skip a nap.

I don’t really have any tips on how to prevent nap-skipping, since I employed all of my tricks and C still stayed awake all afternoon. I’m sure there are 22-month-olds out there who can do well without an afternoon sleep but my little lady is not one of them. Bad times were on the horizon.

Helping...sort of

Helping…sort of

3) Don’t let your toddler skip snack time.

After the failed nap, we took C to the beach for some splashy fun. It turns out, the splashing was far too much fun and C would not take a break to have a snack, under any circumstance. This (combined with exhaustion) led to the worst meltdown of her little life (so far!) Luckily, we had her favourite CD (she loves ’50s music, and specifically, my uncle’s band, The Martels) and lots of cheese on hand. Crisis managed.

Splashy fun

Splashy fun


4) Don’t believe weather apps.

We were supposed to get 1-3 mm of rain on Sunday morning. Instead, we were trapped inside our tent all morning during a torrential downpour. Getting trapped in a tent on a rainy day used to be fun when I was a carefree lady in my twenties with some friends and a box of wine. Subtract the wine and add a toddler and things get real.

This recap definitely makes our trip sound like a disaster, but it was mostly enjoyable. The meltdown passed and C was back to her happy little self. We went for a stroll around the campground in the evening and read books in the dining tent. She fell asleep easily at bedtime and then Pete and I had a quiet evening to ourselves.

S'more o'clock

S’more o’clock

We were both sad to leave early, since Arrowhead really is a beautiful park, but Pete and I consoled ourselves by looking forward to the trip we’re taking in July to Algonquin (a trip we taking alone – thank you grandparents!)

The Five Worst Books I’ve Loved



I was having a chat with my mom the other day about the fact that I have never read Jane Eyre. I don’t know how I’ve managed to live this long as a book lover without having read Jane Eyre. I have a copy of it hanging around, but other books keep getting in the way. For instance, a new book about a sportswriter and his 13-year effort to out Lance Armstrong as a lying, cheating, remorseless bully has just been returned to the library and is waiting patiently for me to pick it up. Jane Eyre will have to wait (again).

My mom pointed out that even though she loves Jane Eyre and thinks I should read it right way, I have read a lot of classics that she hasn’t tackled yet. That led us to discussing the classics we like. And later, that led me to think about all the really awful books I’ve loved over the years. Books that I’ve (in some cases) read more than once. Books that I’ve hidden under the bed so no one would know I was reading them.

But no more. It’s liberating to stop living a lie. Here goes:

1) Blood Vessel – Paul Grescoe
I found this book in a dollar store in Huntsville, Ontario. It looked so ridiculous (and the price was right!) that I couldn’t resist it. The plot involved a murder on a cruise ship. Blood Vessel? Get it? Even though I normally hate punny titles and not-very-mysterious mysteries, something about this book was charming. Maybe it was the fact that the author is from Winnipeg, in friendly Manitoba. It’s a friendly book. Despite its many faults, it was just so likeable. Just like Winnipeg.

2) Phantoms – Dean Koontz
I read this book in high school while I was babysitting the children of my biology teacher. It’s a very silly book about (spoiler alert!) an ancient shapeshifter that devours an entire town (and possibly also the dinosaurs and the Mayans – I can’t quite remember). It’s silly in retrospect, but while I sat in that house alone (apart from some sleeping toddlers) it scared the heck out of me. Maybe everyone in my town is dead, too.

3) The Other Boleyn Girl – Philippa Gregory
I’m so embarrassed about this one. As a bit of a history buff (and an anglophile, as I’ve discussed elsewhere) I’m so ashamed of myself. This book is a complete travesty, as far as historical accuracy is concerned. It just find it so difficult not to devour books about the Tudors, even if it’s pulpy and fluffy and ridiculous.

4) Where the Heart Is – Billie Letts
Yes, this is the Oprah-approved book about the girl who gives birth in a Wal-Mart, and then makes a life for herself among the local quirky townsfolk with whimsical names. I should hate this book. I should hate everything about this book. But for some reason I don’t. I don’t want to delve too deeply into this.

5) The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
I don’t actually love the Da Vinci Code. In fact, I raged at it, all the way through. But I couldn’t put it down. I believe this is called “hate-reading.” The flat characters, the non-sensical theories, the pandering to ladies’ book clubs, all of it annoyed me. And yet I kept reading, and thinking, “Hey! I know that painting!” and “Hey! I’ve been to that famous landmark!” That Dan Brown is a diabolical fellow.

Don’t leave me here with my embarrassing book-shame all by myself. What are some books you’re loath to admit you loved?