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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62 thoughts on “Big Love: Sisterhood Style

  1. Laura

    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.

    1. The Sisterhood Post author

      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

  2. Mary

    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!

    1. The Sisterhood Post author

      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

  3. julie gardner

    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.)

  4. Carrie

    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

  5. Christie O. Tate

    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.

  6. Delilah

    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

  7. Liz @ShiftlessMommie

    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

    1. The Sisterhood Post author

      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

  8. erin margolin

    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

  9. Kerstin

    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

  10. Joe (from Kellie's World)

    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

  11. heidi

    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

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  15. Naturally Educated

    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

  16. Real Life Parenting

    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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