As we leave the Manistee National Forest to go home, I can't help but smile and thank God. Anna is an amazing partner in life, no matter where we are. She was cheerful the entire time. Even thriving in the sparse surroundings. No toilets, no running water...no problem.
For someone who never wilderness camped before she was right at home.
As we prepared to leave she dug a hole near a fallen log and said, "everyone go #2 in the woods so we don't have to use a gross rest-stop toilet on the way home." (that cracks me up, I love that we both find the outdoors cleaner than "civilized" toilets).
The kids did amazingly well, too! Eating all the camp-food cooked on our little stove. Maria even said she loved washing the dishes out in the woods with me as she cheerfully scrubbed and put away the dishes.
Bella loves being part of it all. She still scoots around on her bottom, which made the trip interesting, but the leafy ground was a fine place for her to scoot around and discover new sticks and things. Even though she can't say much she was the first to respond when I asked who liked camping in the woods, she said "ME!" and in the car she sits in her rear-facing car seat watching the kids behind her laughing at them.
Josh and Sam both loved the spears I made them from sharpened branches. (the spears are the only things we are bringing back with us, with daddy-sized spears duct taped to the roof racks). The pieces of moss and colorful leaves Josh collected kept his interest for hours. Sam loved the relative-safety of our cozy family tent, and being one of the first ones out of his sleeping bag even though it was frigid in the morning.
I like knowing that even as our young family grows, that we can take on challenging situations -- with all our kids -- that most people reserve for teens and adults alone. We can find and treat our drinking water, get through a thunderstorm in a tent, make it long hours on a car ride without movies or stopping for french fries.
We may be able to go without showers, toilets, other luxuries, but we can't go without each other, because we love being a family and going on adventures together.