However, when those 5 kids are boys and they are dying to go camping and pester you often about it AND you have a husband that loves to go camping and do things outdoors (who also has a romanticized view of camping mind you...especially when it comes to children), you finally cave and say "sure, let's go camping." I did however have a freak out about the week long thing and said, "two nights man, that is all I can do."
|note Peter is asleep in this picture|
I tried really hard not to think too much about it. Two tents? I was going to let my little kids sleep in a separate tent than me? But if I started thinking about it, then my mind would go wild with imaginings of evil people creeping through the woods and stealing my children who slept totally unguarded in their own tent. Does your mind wander like that? Well, mine does. So I had to constantly shut that off. Not to mention I just knew I would have to unzip my tent, climb over to their tent and help them over and over again all night long, because all us moms know that is just how it is going to play out, right? Your children will suddenly not know how to go pee by themselves or unzip a tent or even sleep by themselves. I just knew it was going to be such a horrible experience. But I thought, whatever, I love my handsome hubby so much, and he puts up with all kinds of crap for me. So we are going to do this and we are going to be happy and he will not know that I am dreading beyond dreading this. I had to stay positive if it killed me. I didn't want to ruin everything. If you think happy thoughts, happy moments will come right?
So we got to the campground in our very tightly packed car. Like you open the door and sleeping bags puff out and camping chairs go rolling to the dirt, kind of packed. It was awesome. Oh and almost before we get there we pass by a few acres that have been logged, so there are just stumps of trees everywhere. Josh and Caleb were like "Whoa! This is crazy! Do you see this?" I think they knew it had been logged, but then in a bizarre moment of silence so Tyson and I actually heard this, Matthew whispers quietly and in awe "Beavers..."
|And Peter woke up for this selfie...you can tell Tyson and I thought it was pretty funny|
Ok. So camping. We stayed at an awesome place called Twin Lakes State Park. I guess the place used to have segregated camping, one lake for whites and the other lake for colored. But when they wanted to get rid of that, they made one lake into a conference center place with quiet boating and the other lake for swimming and camping. It brings everyone together. I like that kind of history. People should be together, having fun together. And the lake was amazing! There was these neat floating toys and the lake was pretty shallow so even Peter could walk out a little ways and play with the toys. Seriously, it was so much fun. It was fun to play in the sand and build castles and bury little Peter's toes. He didn't like that so much though. He just wanted to eat every grain of sand he could. Believe me, the poor kid has had some pretty...shall we say exfoliating? Maybe abrasive is a better term, poopy diapers for the last day or so. It is so sad. I guess you learn young you have to be careful what you eat.
Andrew loved the water. I swear that little thing was meant to be a fish. He had no fears walking out until it was up to his neck. I had to watch him like a hawk. He wasn't interested in having floaties, he just wanted to be one with the water. It is was adorable. That's what I need to do when he is having a rough day, just put him in the bath tub with an inch of water and some rubber duckies. He is so happy in the water, maybe it will save both our sanity's.
Matthew loved to watch people play, especially if they were jumping in the water. He is my adventurous little being. You can see it in his eyes, he wants to do brave and scary things. He is however very white, and be is I mean was. Now he is very red. I did put sunscreen on him I swear.
Caleb had floaties on the whole time and swam like mad. And by swim I mean puppy dog paddled and what he calls "bobbing." It was so stinking cute. He had goggles plastered on his forehead and one strap was loose and flapping up and down and reminded me of a bug with an antennae. But he was all over the lake, I am so proud of him for being so daring.
Joshua is getting so tall and so much like a teenager. He would run and splash in the water and jump all over the toys. He would help Peter and Andrew all the time. He made quite the intense sand castle and both he and Caleb were obsessed with the Loch Ness monster (Tyson introduced them to the story of the creature) and so sure this lake had a monster too.
Okay, so swimming was really fun. We went on a really simple hike around the lake too. It was extremely beautiful and we even saw tiny little frogs and lots of poison ivy (Tyson was teaching me about how to spot it). They have made the trail system really nice. There were little boardwalks and bridges. Seriously, it was great.
I am so grateful Tyson built all the fires. Having a pyromaniac for a husband is such a blessing. My one match fire skills from girls camp would probably make us starve. I did however provide delicious tin foil dinners the first night and a yummy mountain man breakfast the next morning. I have a few skills that come in handy. Basically what I did the rest of the time was wrangle Peter and keep him away from the fire, away from the woods, away from the hundreds of rocks he put in his mouth, away from any food, cups, soda bottles, roasting sticks, etc, etc, within his reach that were on the table. It was beyond exhausting. I did try to keep him in the pack n play which kind of worked, but he screamed. I tried the hiking backpack, he was ok as long as he liked the food I gave him, until he fell over. That wasn't so good. I tried to hold him but of course he wanted to be held for about 10 seconds and then he would wiggle and squirm until I set him down again. Seriously, I am so tired just from following that kid around. He did however LOVE to hit this metal pole with a stick over and over again. Thank heavens for easy entertainment right? Oh and did I mention he didn't nap there? He just screamed. And since we were in a campground with other campers, screaming really isn't an option. So yeah, no napping. Except for the hike where he fell asleep for about half an hour. And other 10 minute cat naps. Yeah he was real fun.
Oh and that first night, he slept with us. Thank the wonderful people that created air mattresses, and for Tyson for bringing it. I would have died without it. So Peter slept with Tyson and I. I say slept loosely because (and I kid you not) from about midnight to 4:30am the first night Peter rolled around between us, hitting our faces, sitting on our heads, sticking his feet on our face, snowplowing our bodies. Seriously, it was crazy. How do you people out there co-sleep? I just can't fathom doing such a thing. But maybe other people have normal humans for children that sleep. But it actually was really cute too. I mean, Tyson and I were wasted, don't get me wrong. But how do you get mad at a little person when they are quiet and just rolling around being so cute and pudgy? It was kind of wonderful in a horribly exhausting way. I think I might actually miss it a little bit.
The older three boys slept awesome in their own little tent. They didn't tell us until we were packing up there were a few "accidents" during the night. How they could possibly have any more pee in them, I don't know. They peed like 700 times each day. I kid. you. not. And it wasn't like it was a little bit of pee. It was TONS every time! Sorry, but seriously, how did they do it?
Oh, and on other gross topics, I was on my period too. Maybe that is too much information for you, but you just have to understand, this camping thing was not for the faint of heart. However, I recognize the Lord's infinite goodness and mercy for me at the same time and at least the rougher part of that time for me was already over. So really I am very lucky.
Okay, what other information can I share with you that I am sure you are dying to know about this trip? Oh that's right, yesterday evening, we walk over to the office of the campground to buy some ice because ours has melted and milk needs to be kept cold you know. So we are leaving and the park ranger says, "Oh, if the storm gets bad tonight, just head to the bathrooms." I instantly think, that makes sense, they are permanent fixtures and will keep us dry. Wait a second, storm?! Are you kidding me?!"
So we get back, have hot dogs, s'mores, start packing stuff up and getting the kids ready for bed. And then we hear it, the thunder that rolls and shakes your insides it is so deep. So we pack up everything into the car and then hunker down in our separate tents. Yes, I was freaking out about my three little guys in their own tent during a thunderstorm. But there was no way we were all going to fit in our 4 person tent that had a pack n play and an air mattress in it. There was no room. So I thought.
The rain starts and it wasn't so bad at first. The thunder and lightning were insane though. The whole sky would light up and then an ear splitting crack would follow with the rumble that would just keep going. Thankfully our kids aren't scared of storms, they love them. Tyson yelled over to them "the angels are bowling in Heaven!" and they loved that even more. Especially Andrew. He kept telling us Heaven loves us to let us hear it. Cuteness.
But then the rain started to really come down. And if anyone has gone camping in the rain and not had it leak, I don't know how you did because tents don't really seem water proof fully, no matter what they advertise. The tent the boys were in for sure wasn't because they suddenly start yelling, "everything is wet, there is water everywhere!" So Tyson jumps out to pull the kids over to our tent and I fold up the pack n play, and getting everything out of the tent that we absolutely don't need. Tyson and I make a pretty amazing team because without even saying anything, he is carting that stuff to the car while at the same time moving the kids and their stuff to our tent. I am drying them off and getting them in and situated.
Not the perfect situation. 7 people crammed in that tent, it was tight. But the wind wasn't really blowing which made the humidity insane, but hardly any water got in our tent because of it. And the storm hit when we had had warning and it wasn't in the middle of the night. Seriously, so many tender mercies. I'm pretty glad the storm came. We all got to sleep together, we eat trail mix and m&ms, I told them a bedtime story (something I never do) about a badger named Matthew that went on an adventure to find a special healing berry and met some friends along the way (a hyper squirrel named Andrew, a cool toad named Peter, a bossy bunny named Josh, and a high-pitched chickadee named Caleb). And bizarrely enough it was the best night's sleep I have had in a long time.
I am not saying camping with little kids is amazing and I'm not really recommending it. But we had a great time, we made a lot of fun memories. We lost our tempers several times and I almost packed up and drove everyone home at least once. But we laughed a lot and had a lot of good talks. We ate good food and we ate a lot of junk. We also tried the avalanche challenge (16 scoops of ice cream, 1 cup of candy, 1 cup of chocolate syrup, a half gallon of whip cream and 12 cherries) as a family. We made a pretty good dent, but man we were sick of ice cream.
I had a friend (okay, she has no clue who I am, but she is a role model for me: Emily @thefreckledfox) post on her instagram a few months ago, "If you think you should, just go for it." I think that is a pretty good motto. Life can totally change in a minute and you don't want to look back and regret the things you didn't do. So I am glad we went camping, I am glad we spent time together as a family. And I am posting this insanely large post so I don't forget about all the fun we had. And so I remind myself to keep doing things I feel I should do. Maybe you will too.