Growing Pains: Learning from a horrible experience


An interesting thing happened to Carter and I the other night… While we were picking blueberries in a large orchard surrounded by some new friends and even more acquaintances, Carter took off with a group of kids. I didn’t think much of it and figured he’d be fine playing with everyone. Well, apparently he felt that some of the other kids weren’t being nice because they were kicking dirt around and they didn’t want to play hide and seek with him. He also had to go to the bathroom (#2 to be exact) but couldn’t find me to tell me as he had forgotten where I was picking blueberries. As he was scared and felt lost and alone, he went back to our car, got inside and closed the doors. I saw some of the kids that Carter had run off with but I did not see Carter so I asked if they knew where he was. They said he had gotten in what they were assuming was my car, but didn’t know why. As we approached the car Carter was screaming. He is very capable of opening the car doors from the inside, but this time for some reason, he felt he couldn’t get them open.

Even though there was a very strong and horrid odor that escape the car as I opened the door, I hugged Carter. The poor thing had run away to hide in our car because he felt none of the other kids were being nice to him and he had gone to the bathroom in his pants because he couldn’t find me to take him to the bathroom and he thought he had locked himself in the car. What a horrible experience!

Pause from the horrible experience story and take a look at these delicious blueberries!!
Pause from the horrible experience story and take a look at these delicious blueberries!!

I’m sure many could find fault with my parenting tactics in this scenario—heck, I’ve found a lot! I share this experience in hopes of shedding some light so you can hopefully learn from my mistakes. Carter and I had a good long talk on the way home from the blueberry orchard and we would like to share a few things we talked about.

1. Carter needs to ask if he can run off and play with friends. This might sound obvious, but it had not crossed either of our minds before this experience. Granted, we’d never been in a giant blueberry orchard with 50 other people before.

2. Set a point of reference. I’m so grateful that Carter at least knew where the car was and he knew that he could go back to it and I would come back at some point too. Getting in the car wasn’t the best idea, but we talked about that. Next time, before he runs off with friends I will ask him where he is going and what he’ll be doing. I will also talk with him about where I am and what identifiable things are around me so he can find me again.

3. If Carter feels like he’s lost he needs to yell “Mommy Manning!” as loud as he can until I answer. I talked to him about how my full name is Emily Manning and that if he’s ever lost he needs to yell “Emily Manning” until I answer, but he said, “No mom, I’ll yell ‘Mommy Manning'” and I thought it was adorable so I agreed.

4. If Carter sees other kids doing things that are not nice he can come talk to me about it. The kids Carter was playing with were not doing anything mean or bad, Carter just felt like they were because they weren’t playing hide and seek with him. This was a hard thing to explain to a 3 year old, but I tried very hard to explain that the other kids probably wanted to play a different game and that it is okay. I told him that next time Carter could ask what they were playing, if he could play, and if they could teach him how to play. He was playing with a few kids that were several years older so I think it was just a different experience for him trying to play with kids not in his age group.

5. If something goes awry and a horrible experience does ensue, we will be willing to ask forgiveness and to be forgiving.  One of the first things I said to Carter after he had calmed down was that I was sorry and it was my fault that he got lost and felt alone.  He immediately exclaimed, “No mommy!  It was my fault and I’m so sorry I did that!”  We hugged.  It was precious.

Goodness, as I was driving us home from the blueberry orchard I felt like I was talking with an 8 year old Carter. He had so many valid concerns from this experience and I did my best to talk through all of them with him, but I wasn’t prepared to have a conversation like that! Welcome to parenthood I guess, right? We’re still working on the ‘no talking to strangers or getting into their van’ thing and I’m no where near ready for the ‘birds and the bees’ talk! Carter needs to stop growing up! Since I can’t make that happen, we’ll just try to make the best of where we’re at.


An Updated Website!


First off, thank you all for following along on this crazy journey of ours as we are living our dream in our bus!  It’s not always easy, but the best things in life take work and we are grateful for how much we are learning and growing as a family.

So, we’ve done something pretty crazy… We update the website!  It’s nothing too special, just a new featured image up top (and can I just say that I think it’s a pretty epic shot from our amazing hike on the Oregon Redwood Trail!) and a few new links in the side bar to help guide any new and curious readers about some of our most popular destinations, guides/reviews, and frequently visited posts.

Side note:  I almost hate to even resurface some of these old videos, but do you remember the “GIRL EATS WORLD” ones we did a couple years back??  Ha!  I ran into those the other day and I figured I would inform anyone who is SUPER BORED that they are there, floating around in cyberspace.  I’ll start you off with a mild one and let you find the others if you feel so inclined…


We’ve also added a new affiliate in our “Partners” section!  Drumroll please….. Or just look in the sidebar I guess haha, but we’ve added Ergobaby!  We’ve been using Ergobaby for over 2 years now and with 2 babies and we love this carrier.  It has been a comfortable carrier for Scott and I as well as the kids (Carter still loves being carried in it!) and we’re excited to be a part of their affiliate program.  What this means is that any time a purchase is made from someone clicking on the photo in the sidebar or any Ergobaby link on our website, we will receive a small commission for using, loving, and promoting their product.  If you or anyone you know is looking to get one of these amazing carriers, feel free to send them our way and we’ll get a small cut to help us continue to adventure as a family!

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We’re grateful for all of you who have reached out to us via social media, email, or even in person and we love the friendships we have made because of this little blog.  We’re always really excited to get recommendations on foods/restaurants, places to go, or activities to do in the places we visit so keep them coming!


Family Reunion in Zion National Park

Last week we got to be together with my parents, all of my siblings, and all of the grandkids for a family reunion in Zion National Park!  This was the first time that we have done a family reunion with just my family; In the past we’ve done with with my mom’s whole family and we’ve had around 70 people.  This year all 30 of us got together and it was so much fun.  We had a house in Hurricane, UT that had a pool (and quite honestly that pool saved our lives since it is sooooo hot in St. George!), we got to go to the St. George LDS Temple, we spent a day on Quail Lake with wave runners that we rented, and we got to do a few hikes in Zion National Park.  It was a full, but very fun and relaxing week!  At the house we played a lot of games, watched movies, had a talent show, had family dinner every night, and someone shared spiritual thought every night.  It was a very uplifting week and I LOVED getting to spend time with my parents, my siblings, and their families!  Enjoy the following photo dump of the week 🙂

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Uncle Dan did some card tricks for us that were really great!  Then several of the little grandkids wanted to get up and do magic tricks 🙂



Little Thomas is asking Matthew all about his favorite things for his magic trick.


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Rosie made one spoon turn into TWO spoons!!!!


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Oliver used his magic to turn the two spoons back into ONE spoon!!


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Chloe took pictures and videos on her iPad during the week and made a very cute little movie!



This kid is adorable, he secretly loves (but acts like he hates) getting his picture taken, and he is always doing the funniest/cutest things!



Hunter was tickling Zellie hahahaha 🙂



He’s going to be a big brother in the next couple weeks so he couldn’t get enough of Zellie!  Even though Zellie is doing this scrunchie face, she really did like Hunter!  Her scrunchie face is kind of her “I think I like what is going on right now, so I’ll just go with it” face.


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We had such a lovely time in St. George and really enjoyed our family reunion!  Carter has asked every day if he can go to his “friends” house (he means his cousins, we’re working on that haha) and then when we tell him that they all live very far away he decides that he’ll just invite them over for dinner then and they’ll HAVE to come!  We’re looking forward to seeing everyone again!

A Happy 4th of July



Like I mentioned before, I grew up in a family deeply rooted in traditions and holidays were a big deal.  Growing up, Scott’s family was not that way, so he and I sometimes struggle to find a balance between the two extremes that best fit our family and our lifestyle.  And by that I mean that Scott is REALLY great to grin and bear it as I come up with crazy ridiculous plans that are not always very thought-out or researched and often are somewhat of a disaster 🙂  BUT we do tend to have fun amidst the chaos and as long as people are passing out candy Carter is the happiest kid in the world (even though he’s not smiling in a single one of these photos, I promise he had a great time…).

I really really appreciate all of you who gave us some great input on Instagram and Facebook in regards to 4th of July celebrations around Portland!  I wanted to do everything that was suggested, but Scott was our voice of reason and said that doing it all was just not possible.  I’m hoping that next time we’ll be able to experience the things we missed this time!

Because of our location in the city and some friends we met up with, we chose to attend the Hillsboro Parade, we BBQ’d at a nearby park, we got Carter to nap (he hadn’t napped in several days so this was a wonderful few hours of our day), and we watched the fireworks over the Hillsboro baseball stadium from across the river.




This little boy’s dream came true seeing a HUGE fire truck up close!  He was so excited!



I told Carter that if he wanted people to throw candy to him then he had to wave at them, and wave at them he did!  He wouldn’t let this airhead go, but he waved and waved and waved throughout the whole parade and he earned that candy!



Oh, and I feel so silly because I made Zellie and Carter little 4th of July outfits but it was 50 degrees at the morning parade so I had to bundle them up!  I didn’t even get a picture of them in their cute outfits and now Carter’s shirt is covered in watermelon stains…  The things I put myself through for holidays and it didn’t even work out!  At least Zellie was kind of wearing blue haha.





Carter got so much candy!  We started by filling his jacket pockets with candy, then his hood.  Soon his hood was overflowing so we had to empty a bag that we brought and we filled that too!  And, call me crazy, but all that candy is now in the garbage.  We ate our share of it at the parade and then decided we didn’t need any more.




The dog on the skateboard was a huge hit!




I brought a bubble gun for Carter because I thought it would be a fun thing to do to pass the time before the parade started.  He and Zellie loved it and I think lots of bubbles during the parade might be a new family tradition for us!  Also, Carter (who is now potty trained as of last Thursday) accidentally peed his pants during the parade **how embarrassing for me!** so it was nice to have bubbles to pour on top of his pee puddle a little 🙂  Yep, #parentingwin.




And not smiling AT ALL even though he was having a good time!







And that’s all of the photos I have of the whole entire day!  Yeah, the day was a mixture of stress, bliss, stress, food, relaxing, more food, stress, fireworks, extreme exhaustion and I’m just glad I managed to get the camera out for the parade.

I love my little family and I’m grateful to have spent Independence Day with them!  I’m grateful for the freedoms that I enjoy as an American and all those who have served and are serving our country to protects those rights and freedoms.

The Azalea Park Day



While in Brookings, OR we visited this GIANT wooden playground in Azalea Park.  The kids and I arrived shortly after 10am and we were the only ones there!  Several kids came and went while we were there so Carter was able to make a few little friends to play with.




The playground itself was set up mostly for older kids, but Carter loved the new challenges.  He would point these out in excitement at first, “Mommy!  Look at these tire stairs!!” and then he’d hesitate and ask for me to hold his hand while he went up.  I like to think that I’m helping Carter to become an independent individual so instead of holding his hand, I stood close by and cheered him on.  When he’d make it to the top, or bottom, he would exclaim, “You’re right mommy!  I am big and brave!”  He was so proud of himself for being able to accomplish these new challenges on his own.  I was proud of him too.




The playground was huge and sat at the edge of several walking paths through the trees of Azalea Park.





And there was a tire swing hanging underneath the play structure!  He’s really into cars and trucks and all things construction right now, so he was very excited to see all of the tires at the playground.  He would tell me that this tire was from the semi truck, that tire over there was from the racing car, the super big tire was from the steam roller!





The day to day life with an almost 3 year old can sometimes be hard.  He wants to be super involved and he thinks he can do everything himself.  He just gets so excited about helping out that sometimes he acts before thinking, and though luckily he hasn’t done anything to injure himself yet, there are usually casualties that result in me doing a lot more cleaning up than I had planned on.  I feel like I’ve had to be telling him “No” a lot recently and it’s sometimes hard to explain why I can’t let him do things.  Going to Azalea Park was really good for both of us because we had time to focus on HIM and what he can do.  We pretended to be pirates and drive the ship, we rescued baby dolphins from the sharks, we fixed the engine under the ship several times, we raced through the castle looking for treasure.  This was our time to be on Carter’s terms.

Though day to day life can sometimes be difficult, getting out of the house and stepping into a world that Carter is imagining helps me to focus on him and to listen to when HE says is safe to go swimming in the ocean so we don’t get eaten by the sharks.  HE gets to decide what we’re buying at the pretend grocery store and what ingredients go in the soup.  The playground is what he makes of it and I’m just there to support him in his imagination.