Sometimes spontaneous is a good thing. Other times, my old body is telling me I ought to stop and think things out a little better before I try to spring some more summer fun on the kids.
Monday I got home from work, and once again found a handful of kids laying around the tv "bored" with "nothing to do." Ugh! That makes me crazy.
The weather was gorgeous with lower humidity...a perfect evening to be outdoors. So, hmmm....what to do? what to do? I'd picked up 'smores fixins at my last grocery outing, and John had just attained a bunch of dried firewood, so a backyard campfire was surely a start for late evening. My wheels couldn't stop spinning though. Maybe we could roll with that theme and set the tents up in the backyard too...a full on campout. The only bad thing (or good thing in hindsight) about that plan is that the younger kids would bail on camping after a short time and wind up in the house. I was hoping for all of us to enjoy something together. What about real camping?? (This is where I should have hit the brakes, and stuck with the plan to stay at home...the plan that allows all of us to end up in our own comfortable beds if we so desire...but NOOOOO...Jamie's going for broke and googling available campsites at our nearby Lake Loramie state park. (and the kids don't have a clue.)
A short time later, I had myself convinced I can pull this off and make some fun summer memories for the kids while we're at it. I pencil down a quick list of necessary supplies, and hand it to Sam to hunt for items from the garage and shed...2 tents, hammer (for the stakes), lawn chairs, firewood, roasting sticks, cooler, etc...
I let the other kids in on the plan (to lots of whoops and hollars) and then a few grumbles when I told them that I need to catch up on laundry first as they pull together pajamas, sleeping bags, pillows, etc and tidy up their rooms a bit while they're hunting/gathering. I had let my laundry duties slide over the weekend with canning, cooking and birthdays, etc. Keeping the washer and dryer running is the easy part, but folding and putting away is my downfall...outta sight, outta mind in our basement laundry room. It wasn't long before the kids had everything finished on their part, and Alice and Emma were joining me in an all-out fold fest. In about an hour all of our work was done. I spent a little time throwing snacks and drinks, and a simple picnic supper into the cooler, and we were ready to load up.
Our evening at the campground was all the fun I was hoping for...and more. First tents were raised (while the boys had sword fights with the tent stakes, and little girls left their artistic mark with some chalk drawings on the drive), then our easy dinner of pb&j's, granola bars, bananas, and koolaid. Off to the playground we headed where the kids kept busy building a city in their fully-loaded-with-toys, ginormous sandbox; chased each other eagerly in a few games of tag; and even played a few games of kickball in the open grassy area there. We had planned to do a nature hike along the lake/trails, but they were enjoying themselves so much playing, that it was getting dark, and time to head back to build a fire and wash up for the night. We did have 'smores, and a few other snacks to munch while we watched the fire a bit. By this times the younger ones were so revved up about sleeping in a tent (or at least playing in it) that they were begging for bed. I left the four oldest to keep an eye on the fire, while I settled the 6 younger ones into the larger of the two tents. A couple drifted off to sleep pretty quickly, but the others were way too excited to settle easily...this is the point I began to rethink whether tent-camping was such a great idea. You see, everyone packed a sleeping bag...everyone that is, but me. Someone thought to throw in the "extra" that nobody else claimed...a tiny little toddler size "Buzz Lightyear" sleeping bag that might have been perfect for Lucy...but not this pregnant, feeling-older-by-the-minute momma. Oy. My bones were not happy to be laying on the hard ground with just Buzz and a little cotton batting to pad the nest. By the time the little ones were fast asleep (maybe a 1/2 hour or so), I left the tent to find that the older ones had had enough of the fire and were headed into their own tent. Shoot. So much for scarey campfire stories, and silly songs...but they were excited about sleeping the tent, and ready for bed. And the firewood was nearly gone. I threw one last log on the fire, and sat up in the quiet by myself for a bit wishing John could have joined us for the night. This would be a nice peaceful time to sit and chat with him...a rare treat indeed. I'm laughing thinking of how surprised he's going to be when he arrives home to an empty house, and a note explaining where we're at. I decided to give him a quick call at work to let him in on our surprise. (He already knows I'm crazy...) And we both agreed, that he may as well stay home and not join us. One of us should get a good nights' sleep and be sharp for the morning.
Anyways, I joined the younger ones back in their tent, and called it a night. Unfortunately, sleep didn't happen for me. Buzz was useless. I spent the entire night shifting from one hip to the other, certain there would be noticeable bruises on both sides when I woke up in the morning. All the Hail Mary's in the world weren't going to work tonight. I'm too far along in this pregnancy to be able to lay flat on my back anymore, though I gave that a try a couple times too...Baby Bean didn't like it, and was awake and kicking more than ever. As if I wasn't feeling enough discomfort already. At one point I even stole all the pillows from the kids who weren't using them, and attempted a make-shift cot, but keeping my butt/hips/belly from falling through the cracks was as much of a discomfort as depending on Buzz alone for a little padding. I just couldn't win.
The kids were all awake by 6am...about the time I'd finally lost all feeling in both hips and shoulders, and was starting to fall asleep. Dangit. I managed to keep them in the tent, and fairly quiet telling stories and rolling up sleeping bags till around 7.
From there it was a quick run to the bathroom, a change back into clothes, and poptarts and leftover bananas for the kids while I started taking down the tents. The kids played again at the playground for a short time (within eyeshot of our campsight) as I loaded everything into the van. And as quickly as we set off...we were headed home again. The kids couldn't wait to get home to tell Dad about the "best night ever!" and me....I just wanted coffee. Lots of coffee, a warm shower and a soft bed. (Still waiting for the soft bed...but it's not far away now.)
Despite the inconveniences and discomfort (and the fact that I'll never be able to watch Toy Story again without cursing Buzz Lightyear's name), I'm grateful for this beautiful family, and the opportunity for such a wonderful little adventure (and for no visible bruises.) As we packed up in the morning, we were greeted by several of our campsite "neighbors" who had such nice comments about our large family, and what a blessing it was to see us out together. I love opportunities like that...for others to witness God's gift of children, and big family life. I'm sure it's easier for them to say nice things too...knowing that we're packing up and heading out :) We truly are blessed!
Hmm. Wonder what we can do tomorrow for fun? Just 1 week left till school starts!