Saturday, May 31, 2008

Camping with the Kiddos Part 2

Warning: Very long and contains some content that involves gross amounts of bodily fluids.

So yes, Saturday morning we awoke around 5:45am. The kids were excited to be in the tent and out in the woods and after 20 minutes of attempting to keep them inside and quiet, I finally gave up on one effort and let them out. Quiet was a requirement of the camp until 8am- practically torture for our family, but we managed as well as we could. Due to our hasty set up the night before we had not really prepared a spot to cook so after looking around and taking in the scene I decided on a good spot- right behind the van. Our tent was completely surrounded on all sides. On the river side we had a tent about 3 feet in front of us. On the back and tent about 1 foot away, to the left was a pop up camper about 5 feet away with a very loud sleeper in the bunk and to the right was one other tent about 8 feet away. So it didn’t really work to cook near our “spot”. Behind the van worked for that morning because it was away from all the sleeping people, it was quiet and there was a good deal of grass to lay out a kitchen of sorts and prepare things in a way that the kids could assist a little with.

Breakfast was bacon, eggs, and cormeal and the kids had a grand time eating out of their own little mess kits. I spent a while trying to cook over a stove without sufficient fuel in the little tank and finally gave in and turned everything off and refilled it. Once I did that things went wonderfully quick and I was able to enjoy a hot breakfast of scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, cornmeal and a nice cup of hot coffee. Then the boys pulled out their bikes and trikes and rode around while Rachel and I washed up the dishes. She thought that was great fun because she had her own little dish pan and scrubber and did a marveous job of rinsing and drying. By the time the whole process was over it was after 9am and everyone- or most everyone was awake.

We spent most of Saturday around the camp. The boys and Rachel biked around, canoed a bit with the Reeds on the river right next to the campground, played at the playground- a marvelous spot complete with a sandbox- and generally got aquainted with our surroundings. There was also a little kid’s clothing consignment shop in the office of the campground and Ellen and I poked around in there a bit while Dan watched the kids. None drowned.

One of the more interesting events of the day was Jeff and his efforts to get comfortable with the bathroom facilities. We went early in the day to the communal bath house into the ladies room, but he was frightened by the fact that the lighting wasn’t working properly and to make matters worse, as soon as he sat down, someone in the stall next to us flushed the commode and he really freaked out. So that wound that bathroom trip up and there was nothing I could do to get him to go at that point. Later in the morning I found that when he couldn’t hold it any longer, he left it as a gift in front of our tent. Not one, but four locations for me to “take care of”, so I did. I’ll leave the details to your imagination, but it was gross and I took care of it as cleanly as possible including removing all the grass in said locations.

I later saw him fertilizing a tree, much to my horror, right next to the area where everyone gathered for the main meals and thus where the majority of the people were. Fortunately most people thought it was funny and natural and gave a good laugh or just ignored him. The last episode of this nature came late in the day (In my defense, we did regularly attempt to get more aquainted with the proper bathroom facilities during the day.) when Jonathon came up to me with a really excited, “Mama! I think there are some deer around because I think I found some deer poop!” I went with him to the van and there next to the back right wheel was his scientific proof of deer in our camp. I disappointed him by explaining that it wasn’t deer, it was just Jeff and thankfully that was the last of that. Ahh…camping brings out the best in some people.

James seemed to entertain a number of adults around the campfire with stories, shocking comments, intense expressions, and jokes that only James can come up with.

Rachel was happy just sort of flitting around like a butterfly from one thing to another just taking it all in.

Jonathon had a great time riding his bike like the “big kids” and doing manly things like hunting snails and worms and poking the fire.

Jeff…well we know what he was doing. But aside from that he had a good time too.

We had a group dinner of taco salad- all 80 something of us. Since I was a last minute person I didn’t have an assigned dish to bring so I brought homemade guacamole and much to my delight I had the only offering of the dish. Thanks to Franks help the recipe was a smashing success and I had people come up and rave about it later. It’s been a fun thing lately to make, partly because I discovered this past year sometime that I actually like the stuff when I make it instead of buy it and it’s one of the things that is ok on the wacky diet we’ve been on lately. (We won’t go into that right now.) Anyway, it was a hit and I was glad. I always hate being the one that comes to a covered dish dinner or a potluck and has nothing to contribute, so I was relieved to find I was contributing successfully.

After dinner was over I pretty much just made the kids go up to the bath house and clean up and put jammies on and go to the tent. They were so exhasusted from the late night before and the rising early that morning that by the time 8pm rolled around they were very happy to go to bed. It was also chilly that night (got into the mid 30’s) and so they were happy to climb into their sleeping bags and snuggle deep. We read a couple of books- Andy and the Lion, and Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride and then off to dream land they went.

In fact, they went so deep to dream land they did all sorts of crazy things in the night. First, I snuck out to go take a shower around 10pm and while I was gone one of them- I’m pretty sure it was Jeff- got up to go to the bathroom, only he couldn’t find it in the tent (obviously) so he just stood in the middle and let loose all over the top of his sleeping bag and pillow, Jonathon’s bag and pillow (with Jonathon on it), and the edge of my sleeping bag. Then he got back into his bag and was fast asleep when I returned to find the mess. I cleaned up as best I could with some extra towels and then turned in for the night. I slept for a while before James awoke me that he had wet his bed. My first thought was, “I can’t change the sheets!” Thankfully, more towels helped with that situation and as it was more his clothes than anything, those were easily changed. Then, without going into much detail, only to say it involved child no.1, an empty bottle, poor aim, and results of a Mama’s wet sleeve, I had accident no.3 on my hands. After that was cleaned up, the restof the night was quite peaceful and the kids actually slept until after 7:30am, with James sleeping until 9am. In the morning, Jeff had wet his bag again and everything came out of the tent to air out and get some good sunshine. It stayed out all day and by the end of the day I really couldn’t smell any sketchiness when I put the bags back in the tent (thankfully).

Sunday we had a better meal operation and had rearranged the vehicles so that my van was backed up to a picnic table near the fire and another picnic table was next to it, so the Reeds and I sort of ate together. I’m not sure how it was for them, but it was a great help to me. For one, Dan washed the dishes for the rest of the trip and I had help with the kids. I know I had a few things, like spoons, that their family forgot, but I think I got the better end of the deal in the end.

Sunday morning we had oatmeal for breakfast and consumed every last bite. Then after breakfast we had a church service, which I spent mostly finding kids and taking Jeff to the bathroom. But what little I did catch was good. There were a number of topics covered after testimonies from various people, but the main point I came away with was how God uses our weaknesses instead of our strengths many times to accomplish his purposes. We had a little time of prayer and were encouraged when after praying for a family’s dog to be found, she was located about 2 miles away.

After the service, our family and the Reeds prepared for a canoe venture down the river and so Ellen and I packed lunch and got stuff ready while Dan figured out where we were going and how far to go. We went about 20 miles north and canoed for about 5 miles what was supposedly water with a bit more current than what was next to the camp, but the water level was different than normal and thus it was actually pretty flat as well. That being said, we had a good time- well, I had a great time because Ellen and I ended up in a canoe all to ourselves and talked all the world’s problems away while the kids floated down stream. No one went overboard and Jonathon, though he tried to tip Philip and Jayne over (accidentally), managed to just add water to the boat and leave them upright and a little wet.

When we got out of the river, Jayne and Dan decided to attempt canoeing all the way back to the campground, so Ellen and I drove the vans back with the kids and the trailer of canoes. All was well until we decided to stop for ice cream and found ourselves attempting to back up and turn that canoe trailer around. After several tries we finally did it, though not especially gracefully and ice cream was enjoyed by all. James and Jeff wore most of theirs on their face, but they looked happy nonetheless.

So back at camp we had hotdogs for dinner and then the kids ran around and played late into the evening. I had a great time sitting around the fire chatting with a lady named Maureen about healthy eating, exercise, and how it all fits in with the spiritual aspects of Jesus wanting first place in our lives. She was quite an inspiration- a testimony of loosing quite a bit of weight, and encouragement- of some Bible studies that might be helpful, and generally a friendly conversationist. What an encouragement towards self control, allowing Jesus to work, and renewed enthusiasm for working on weight loss.

While I talked to her, James had a chat with a man named Eric sitting next to me. His conversation was about blood, but I’m sorry to tell you there was nothing spiritual about it. James had his flashlight and was fascinated by the fact that his fingers glowed red when he placed the light under them. Eric explained that what he was seeing was the blood in his fingers and that was just too good to be true for James.
So from there, James had to see how many other things he could see blood in and after examining his own (boring) body parts, he subjected Eric to the same experiment.
“Does your hand have blood in it?” and then would try it, with Eric’s consent and enthusiasm all the way. He proceeded to fingers, ear lobes, nose, chin, and then got a naughty curious look in his eye and said, “Hey! Does your belly have blood in it?”
To which Eric replied, “Well, let’s see.” And without missing a beat he whipped up his shirt for James to poke his flashlight on his tummy to see if it glowed red. Sure enough it did and Eric’s wife, sitting next to him was heard to say, “No way is he checking my tummy for blood!” So James stole the show, for by this time many of the people around were listening in on this little dialogue between the adult and 5 year old about blood.

Jonathon at this point was running around having the time of his life playing flashlight tag with the teenagers and his brand new headlight he got for his birthday. Rachel and Jeff just remained content to sit in my lamp and stare at the fire.

They went to bed after a long evening sometime after 10pm and slept until after 8am the next morning. It was glorious. The temps that night were around mid 40’s so it was perfect sleeping weather again, no rain and no nasty bed wetting scenes. Monday we lazed around, packed up and ate lunch and then headed home without much excitement other than getting in some last minute visiting with new friends and feeling success over the fact that Jeff was happy to get to the bathroom before going by the end of the weekend.

Oh we had such a grand time. We tented, we told stories, we canoed, we roasted marshmellows, we cooked we played hard, we built fires and burnt long sticks and fat logs, and sat around and laughed and smelled like smoke and listened to crickets…and snoring (hehe) and played with flashlights and saw stars and snuggled and smiled a lot. It was a grand time and even though we had some crazy moments, overall it was a WONDEFUL weekend and I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.

It did of course take me all week at home to recover, but it was worth it! Camping is glorious fun and you should all go out right away and try it. Of course the trick is to decide your going to like it, enjoy it, and have fun no matter what comes your way, then it’s trully grand. But then isn’t much of life like that?

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