family camping //

Family Camping // Labor Day Weekend 2015

DenaSeptember 9, 2015




We spent Labor Day weekend camping with my sister and her family. This is our second year camping at this campground. (You can see last year’s trip here and my tips for camping with toddlers here.) Last year’s trip was amazing — one of our best family getaways to date. This year’s trip was equally amazing, at times. It was also fraught with a lot of stress and some heartache.

Camping with one toddler is a lot different than camping with one toddler and one high-needs baby. We spent three nights there, and I actually ended up taking Marina home for nights two and three. Two hours of sleep just wasn’t going to cut it for this mama with our busy camp life schedule. Gratefully, the campground is just about a 15-minute drive from our house, so ducking out at dusk and returning just after sunrise was no trouble. It allowed me to come home and sleep with my girl without missing out on too much camping fun.

I only took a fraction of the photographs that I would have liked to because most of my time was spent with my girl in my arms or pushing the stroller around the lake. Still, there’s something indescribably magical & wonderful about camping and we all had an amazing time. Campfires, s’mores, camp food — burgers, dogs, pasta salads, miniature golf, boating, fishing, swimming in the lake. All of my favorite things. We made some beautiful memories.

I mentioned it in last year’s post, but the camp that we go to is the Girl Scout camp that my sister and I attended during our childhoods. Returning there with my own babies fills my heart with so much joy. It also reminds me of how excited I am to be Marina’s troop leader one day!

I’m pretty sure that Roman had the best time of his little life playing & exploring all day with his cousins. Seeing the excitement in his eyes during all of their little adventures was just everything to me. Matthew & I stopped, almost hourly, to pause and give thanks for this blessed life that we live.








family camping //







family camping //









This trip filled & stretched my heart. I learned a lot, but my greatest lessons were about letting go.

Firstly, about letting go of expectations. Having a high-needs baby means that no matter how hard you try or how well you plan, certain things will not go the way that you were hoping — and that’s okay.

Secondly, I had to let go of control in a way that I was completely unprepared for when I made the decision to leave Roman & M. overnight. That was beyond terrifying & heartbreaking for me. I cried, resisted, and basically had a tantrum. But ultimately, I let go and put my faith in Matthew, my sister, and God to take care of my baby boy while I was away. It was hard, but it was good and I am so grateful that I found the strength to let go. Returning in the morning and hearing his stories about the campfire & sleeping in the tent with his Papa made it all worthwhile. ♥

Comments (8)

  • Tina

    September 9, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    These photos are beautiful, I love the coloring. It seems you still got a lot of good ones!!! Sounds like a great time, I haven’t made smores around a camp fire in YEARS!

    1. Dena

      September 9, 2015 at 9:21 pm

      Thanks, love. I could never go a full year without s’mores!! 😉 We really did have a great time & I’m so glad I was able to capture some snippets of it for memory’s sake.

  • Tina

    September 9, 2015 at 9:12 pm

    Wow what a beautiful part of the world you live in! I think New Jersey is completely underrated in movies! I’ve noticed there’s 2 Tina’s posting comments…I’m the Australian one by the way! My own little princess has been keeping my hands completely full over the last couple of days and I’ve been feeling a bit discouraged. Your stunning camping photos (in combination with a beautiful spring day here in Adelaide) have managed to lift my spirits and energise me a bit! Hope you and the family are doing well…

    1. Dena

      September 9, 2015 at 9:23 pm

      Ah! Hello, Tina from Australia. ❤️ You are SO RIGHT. New Jersey is completely underrated in the media and it breaks my heart. There’s so much hidden beauty here. Happy Spring to you, love. I’m so glad to have a part in lifting your spirits! xo

      1. Tina

        September 9, 2015 at 9:39 pm

        And being so close to NYC it seems like you get the best of both worlds. I did visit New York 5 years ago & loved it. I haven’t been to Paris, but I think New York would beat it for me! But as for a place to live and raise a family…not so much.

        1. Dena

          September 9, 2015 at 9:44 pm

          We really do have the best of all worlds. The seashore is an hour away, NYC so close, and we’re surrounded by forest & farms! Although I have been to Paris & I’m not sure how I could even compare it to NYC. You must check out my posts from my time in Paris: ❤️

          1. Tina

            September 9, 2015 at 9:53 pm

            Cool I haven’t seen your stuff on your Paris trip before. I’d love to come back to the US but it’s SO far away for us, especially the East coast! I think it took 26 hours or something crazy like that! But when Tia’s old enough to appreciate the museums it would be a dream come true to bring her xo

        2. Dena

          September 9, 2015 at 9:44 pm

          oh, and let me know if you’re ever back in NYC!!! 😘

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