Big Love: Sisterhood Style

Big Love: Sisterhood Style. Relax! It's about camping. Hilariously camping with a boatload of kids.

This week we are hosting a little Sisterhood Storytime.  You might want to pull up a comfy chair, a cozy blanket, and a box of wine. . .

Once upon a time, Erin’s parents left town to visit her brother in California. Thinking that their daughter was married with 5 kids and living two hours away, they did not feel the need to take away her key or inform her that she shouldn’t be planning any big parties while they were away. Big mistake.

Erin addressed The Sisterhood, “Hey, I  have got a this-shit-is-gold kind of idea. My parents are leaving their house open for a week at the end of June, who wants to come?”

Sister Love! ( Mary made us do this.)

Every hand shot up. The Sisterhood does like to party.

“Oh, and we’re bringing kids AND we are going hiking AND I signed us up for this thing called Parkquest so we will not only be hiking, but hiking with a goal and a purpose.”

Only 4 hands remained—Vickie, Laura, Mary, and Ellen—and it all began.

“What is this madness?” you ask.

It’s Parkquest! Maryland State Parks runs this program where families form teams and can participate in “quests” free of charge at participating parks. Quests can involve hiking, biking, kayaking, canoeing, horseback riding, etc. If you can do it outside, it’s probably on a Parkquest. Each team gets a passport that you present to the ranger for a coveted stamp to verify you completed the quest. Teams who complete 10 quests get to go to the Grand Finale where you compete some more and have the chance to win prizes.

“How do I sign up??” you ask without any trace of irony.

This jamboree of family fun is in its fifth year, and 1000 families closed out the registration in 2 hours time. The spaces are all filled.

“That’s madness!” you say.

We know! But we have upped the crazy factor by 1000% by doing Parkquest The Sisterhood Way. We even have a name: Big Love. And t-shirts too, but that’s a whole other story . Ellen was not involved and Erin sucks at crafts—the results were less than perfect.

So back to the story. Try to stop interrupting. Big Love began when we descended on Erin’s parents’ house in Western Maryland 4 years ago.

“Wait, isn’t Big Love the show about polygamy?” you sputter.

You’ll keep listening to the story now, won’t you? But anyway, four moms and 14 kids shoehorned into the four bedroom home like possums in a hollow log. Somehow Ellen got a bed to herself, so all was right with the world. We really do love her and gave her a break because she had flown in from Costa Rica the night before and was operating on four hours of sleep.

The next morning we fed the troops army mess hall style and departed on the first quest. Even we had enough sense to be nervous. For the love of Mother Nature, we were taking 14 kids ranging in age from  2 to 15 out into the Wilderness.

Would you take these babies to the top of a mountain??

Everything went off just fine. Except for Ellen getting lost. And the poisonous copperhead snake.

“WTF!” you say.

No worries from the snake. If you don’t bother them, they don’t bother you. We’re not sure this is true all of the time, but we’re sure glad it was true that day.

The worst outcome from the whole experience was the grudge Ellen’s daughter Jellybean now holds against her for getting them lost in the woods. That ax is still grinding even though Ellen has outfitted herself with a compass and snake bite kit from Walmart. FYI– Walmart also has bear whistles.

“Good to know,” you mutter as you make a mental note to never go into the woods with Ellen and Erin.

Depiction is not accurate. Not enough cats. Not enough chaos.

Because this first “successful” quest left us relatively unscathed, we were emboldened. We put on our sassy pants (Aisle 3, Walmart), picked up our lassoes, and herded the cats to the next quest. We even drew more people into our rodeo as Erin’s brother, Brian, and his son joined the stampede.

So we loaded ‘em up and hauled them to the top of Mount Washington State Park. We were in the parking lot trying to get everyone fed and organized. Going back to the cat analogy, there were kids everywhere and we were quite the spectacle. We grabbed the attention of a very elderly (and not in a sweet way) man.

“Creepers,” you say.

We know. Unwanted conversation ensued with Ellen. He should have picked Erin—Ellen doesn’t talk to strangers. Erin can’t help but talk to strangers.

And now if Ellen could go back in time, she would waste her trip on this moment so she could deliver this line—“Yes, we are sister wives, and that is our man. If you wait real patient like, the camera crews will be along in about 10 minutes.”

But it didn’t matter anyway, because Big Love was born and we loved the idea so much, we. . .

Wrote it on our cars!

And ironed it on our t-shirts! (Note from Ellen-Without reading the directions!)

And agreed to do it again and again and again. Sister wives are we! You can peruse more of our memories and photos here.

We have even added a Big Love Big Daddy Style trip where we get the hubbies involved. Curious?


-Ellen and Erin


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By Ellen Williams Erin Dymowski



61 Responses to “Big Love: Sisterhood Style”

  1. Kathy Radigan
    June 6, 2012 at 11:51 pm #

    This is so funny!!! I’m very impressed! I don’t know if I could do it, even with a bunch of “sister” wives to help me!! Thanks for a fun read and the smile. I always have fun when I drop in!
    Kathy Radigan recently posted..I’m Still Waiting…My Profile

  2. hollow tree ventures
    June 7, 2012 at 6:10 am #

    The hiking sounds like fun! I TOLD my mom I needed a bunch of sisters. Hmph. Oh well, I can still run out to Walmart and get myself some sassy pants! (Assuming they have an elastic waistband, of course.)
    hollow tree ventures recently posted..10 Things I Need To Do In JuneMy Profile

    • The Sisterhood
      June 7, 2012 at 9:35 am #

      All sassy pants come with elastic waistbands, duh. You can’t be constricted and sassy at the same time. :) Ellen

  3. Lady Estrogen
    June 7, 2012 at 7:01 am #

    That’s so great. That photo of the 4 of you killed me.
    So much giggles ;)

    • The Sisterhood
      June 7, 2012 at 9:37 am #

      Mary sets up the best pictures. The sorority girl in her is constantly bursting forth in the best possible ways. Ellen

  4. Laura
    June 7, 2012 at 7:16 am #

    where am I :(

  5. Laura
    June 7, 2012 at 7:57 am #

    OK so I read the blog and now know why I’m not in the pic. you can yell at me later.

    Great post, love the cartoon of Ellen talking to the man. I can see this happening.

  6. Kim at Mama Mzungu
    June 7, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

    I LOVE this!! (And I totally want in on some “Big Love” action – to say something that out of context could be taken a totally different direction…)

    You guys rock!
    Kim at Mama Mzungu recently posted..FashionshockMy Profile

    • The Sisterhood
      June 7, 2012 at 10:40 pm #

      That is half the fun of having the name Big Love: out of context references! I think we would be in danger in Africa where things could actually eat us. Ellen

  7. Mary
    June 7, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

    Oh – I’m getting all excited for Big Love 2012!! And now I know why I join every group – it is the soriority girl in me! But this is one of my favorite groups!!
    Thanks for the memories!

  8. heidi
    June 10, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

    Okay, this looks like so much fun!! We could all use some sister wives.
    I loved the show Big Love, by the way.
    heidi recently posted..uptightMy Profile

  9. Kenja Purkey
    June 12, 2012 at 9:58 am #

    Oh my gosh, that sounds like so much fun. I bet your kiddos will remember Big Love forever! Kudos to you for your bravery and for not wetting yourself when you saw the snake. I totally would have!
    Kenja Purkey recently posted..An Epic Milestone: Solid FoodMy Profile

    • The Sisterhood
      June 12, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

      Big Love has produced some of our best summer memories. And maybe, just maybe, our reaction to the snake has been muted in our memories over the years. :) Ellen

  10. julie gardner
    June 12, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    It’s amazing that you know I asked “How do I sign up??” without any trace of irony.

    (I may also have muttered something about madness. So you’re very smart.)

  11. Mayor Gia
    June 12, 2012 at 10:23 am #

    Aww fun! Parkquest sounds like a great time.
    Mayor Gia recently posted..Ducky and the Duck TrailMy Profile

  12. Carrie
    June 12, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    Is it weird that I was totally jealous but also really relieved it wasn’t me. I would love to take my kids out into the vast wild and let them run around to their hearts content, but inevitably there would be screaming and crying and i’d regret it…lol.

    Glad you managed to wrangle all those kitties and that everyone had a good time!
    Carrie recently posted..Irony Sucks.My Profile

  13. Christie O. Tate
    June 12, 2012 at 11:31 am #

    OMG. This sounds amazing and scary and very, very cool. I don’t know if I could do it, but that’s why it’s great to read about. I saw you on Yeah Write…great post and great writing.

  14. Vivian
    June 12, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

    That whole quest thingy sounds awesome. What fun but taking all your husbands spoils the big love theme. You should only take one husband at a time ha ha.
    Vivian recently posted..Killer on the roadMy Profile

  15. Susie Newday
    June 12, 2012 at 3:00 pm #

    Sunds like great fun and great bonding.

  16. Emma @ Your Doctor's Wife
    June 12, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

    I am so jealous! I would love to be able to go on a trip with friends like this! What a fabulous idea! Now, if I could just figure out how I could get my parents to hightail it out of town…
    Emma @ Your Doctor’s Wife recently posted..Blog Star: I’m Your Doctor’s WifeMy Profile

  17. Delilah
    June 12, 2012 at 4:58 pm #

    So jealous. That sounds like so much fun, but the snake reminded me of camping. Now I’m twitching. I love the illustrations of Ellen being anti-social. Haha!
    Delilah recently posted..So What?My Profile

    • The Sisterhood
      June 12, 2012 at 10:25 pm #

      It’s not so much that I’m anti-social, it’s more like I don’t suffer fools. :) Ellen

  18. Vanessa
    June 12, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

    This sounds like something I would have enjoyed doing with my boys when they were younger.
    Vanessa recently posted..5 Things About Being My DadMy Profile

  19. Alison@Mama Wants This
    June 12, 2012 at 6:51 pm #

    You ladies are so much fun!!

    (and the drawings are hilarious)
    Alison@Mama Wants This recently posted..Shit I Did As A TeenagerMy Profile

    • The Sisterhood
      June 12, 2012 at 10:15 pm #

      Thank you! (And I needed props on those cartoons, lol) Ellen

  20. Liz @ShiftlessMommie
    June 12, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

    So, Shiftless Husband first dragged me kicking and screaming to a few parks in Western Maryland (being an East-coast elitist, I don’t like to leave the coast), and I have to admit I was converted. Beautiful surroundings and close proximity to restaurants, limited “Deliverance”-feel. I’m a long ways from doing Parkquest, but I could imagine my goal-driven, competitive nature overwhelming the part of me that enjoys being indoors.

    Plus, you made it look so fun!
    Liz @ShiftlessMommie recently posted..Serious RelationshipMy Profile

    • The Sisterhood
      June 12, 2012 at 10:13 pm #

      I’m really a coastal kind of girl, too. And my first cabin camping was only a year ago in New Germany State Park, but it really is beautiful out there. Swallow Falls was my favorite.

      And honestly, the banjo music is so faint you can barely hear it. Ellen

  21. erin margolin
    June 12, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

    I am a Big Love fan and am so sad the show ended! Love this tale although I think I’d be too nervous and OCD to attempt it myself. Looks like you had a blast and it does make me think—what fun, interesting, amazing memories you have made for yourself and your kids. Love this!
    erin margolin recently posted..On WaitingMy Profile

  22. Kerstin
    June 12, 2012 at 11:08 pm #

    Wow, I would totally be into that! Sounds like so much fun.

    And believe it or not: I am an active snake-bite-kit carrier since 1992!
    Kerstin recently posted...My Profile

  23. Write Rinse Repeat
    June 12, 2012 at 11:29 pm #

    “Are you some sort of church group?” Haaaaaaa!

    You girls always sound so freaking fun. Why aren’t any of my friends fun?

    I need my own Tennessee version of Ellen/Erin. Damn it.
    Write Rinse Repeat recently posted..A Day at the Cement PondMy Profile

    • The Sisterhood
      June 13, 2012 at 11:24 am #

      A TN version of us would sell big, I’m sure. HA! Erin

  24. Kim @The G is Silent
    June 12, 2012 at 11:49 pm #

    I am so jealous right now.
    Kim @The G is Silent recently posted..Comment on Mad, Sad, Glad by Write, Rinse, RepeatMy Profile

  25. Adrienne
    June 13, 2012 at 12:11 am #

    HAHAHA! I would have loved to hear that scenario!!

  26. Shannon
    June 13, 2012 at 12:31 am #

    This sounds like fun. I’m feeling left out…
    Shannon recently posted..Insha’AllahMy Profile

  27. Joe (from Kellie's World)
    June 13, 2012 at 9:42 am #

    Fourteen kids, are you mad? I noticed that one of the tags for this post was the word “vacation.” My wife has a rule: If the kids are present, then it’s not a vacation; it’s a family trip. I think she maintains the distinction simply to justify more travel.
    Joe (from Kellie’s World) recently posted..Home InvasionMy Profile

    • The Sisterhood
      June 13, 2012 at 11:22 am #

      I kind of love your wife a little. Too bad you found her first. She would have made a great Sister-wife! Ha! Erin

  28. Werdyab
    June 13, 2012 at 10:11 am #

    This is awesome! And I LOVE the cartoons!

  29. thedoseofreality
    June 13, 2012 at 11:39 am #

    Cracking up! If I was open at all to traveling further than the mailbox with my children I would totally stalk you all and try to crash your trips!! ;)
    thedoseofreality recently posted..Wh(Y) Chromosomes?—Causing Trouble Since 2011My Profile

    • The Sisterhood
      June 13, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

      All you would have to do is follow the cacophony to find us. :) Ellen

  30. Aidan Donnelley Rowley
    June 13, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

    Love it!

  31. Bill Dameron
    June 13, 2012 at 2:16 pm #

    The comix are awesome!
    Bill Dameron recently posted..Object of my DesireMy Profile

  32. heidi
    June 13, 2012 at 2:16 pm #

    Okay, I know, I know. I already read this. But, I just had to come over and give a big hello again. The Yeah Write hello this time. :)
    Love you, ladies. You always, always put a smile on my face.
    heidi recently posted..14 years agoMy Profile

  33. deborah l quinn
    June 13, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    “are there any men with you?” “Just the one.”

    i didn’t think sister wives were allowed senses of humor. is that mormonist of me? or sisterist?

    i would herd cats with you any time. or i heard that cats are with you all the time. whichever.
    deborah l quinn recently posted..Monday’s Listicle: Things That Make You Go “hmm…”My Profile

    • The Sisterhood
      June 13, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

      Either way, there is a lot of sneezing. Don’t ever forget that we are radicals! Ellen

  34. Jay- The Dude of the House
    June 14, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

    Despite my general disinterest in nature, that sounds like a good time. And I would have milked the sister-wives thing for a few laughs, too.
    Jay- The Dude of the House recently posted..Kings of LA? – (DDS)My Profile

  35. Michelle Longo
    June 14, 2012 at 4:44 pm #

    Parkquest sounds like such a cool thing! I really want to go do that! Also, sounds like you had a great group there!

  36. Jennifer
    June 14, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    This was great! I especially loved the “would you take these babies to the top of a mountain?” I cracked up!
    Jennifer recently posted..HomeMy Profile

  37. Jennifer Worrell
    June 18, 2012 at 4:03 pm #

    This sounds like SOOOO much fun! I actually told some guy my cousins and I were sister wives once…the reaction was stellar!!!!!!!!
    Jennifer Worrell recently posted..Ten Things I’d Do with $1,000My Profile

  38. Mommy Call
    June 20, 2013 at 7:16 pm #

    Very funny and sounds like a lot of fun! I hope that I can take a trip like this with my girlfriends one day.
    Mommy Call recently posted..Happy MommyMy Profile

  39. Naturally Educated
    June 21, 2013 at 7:31 am #

    Never heard of Parkquest, sounds really cool! Would be really fun to talk some family and friends into trying with us! How did the two year old fare? My youngest is three. I also have a six year old and and eight year old who has Down syndrome. We hike, but usually on flat trails. How strenuous was the challenge?
    Naturally Educated recently posted..10 Lessons I Have Learned From My DadMy Profile

  40. Real Life Parenting
    June 21, 2013 at 10:48 am #

    This just cracked me up … I was really able to picture (with help from the excellent cartoons, of course) the conversation between the creeper old guy and Ellen. “Are you a church group?” Haaa!! You girls make me smile.
    Real Life Parenting recently posted..Disney and The GaysMy Profile


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