June 27, 2012

Happy Campers?

When Alan and I were married, one of the gifts purchased for us from our registry was a very large tent.  We loved the outdoors and, anticipating having a large family one day, we wanted room to grow.  We got a lot of use from that tent early in our marriage and our friends that we went camping with often made fun of us for having such a enormous tent.

Then the babies started coming and our anticipated family camping trips never seemed to come to fruition.  The entire first decade of the 21st century found me pregnant (don't want to sleep on the ground in that uncomfortable state) or with a newborn (don't want to take those wee ones camping).  So besides the occasional back yard stint, that big tent gathered dust.

With that blurry decade now a distant memory and all the little ones somewhat more managable, I decided Father's Day weekend was perfect time to dust off that tent.  We bought Alan a great new sleeping bag for Father's Day that we were excited for him to use.  The girls and I readied all of the classic camping food and off we went to a fun campground.

Bridger was showing his ultimate excitement with our adventure by wiggling every muscle in his body as we walked into our campsite.  We set up the tent where the kids played while I got dinner ready.  Every few minutes Eliza would unzip the tent to yell, "MOM, 'sure having a good time in HERE!" - then disappear from whence she came and the tent would continue rocking.

We roasted hotdogs and invented a new s'more -- the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup S'more, which soon will be patented.  Bridger had to copy his siblings and hold a hot dog on a stick - even though he didn't understand the concept of proximity to the fire while holding that stick.  It was picture perfect, the camping trip of our dreams.

Then night came.

We nestled into our tent.  The once ginormous tent was filled to capacity and then some.  We gave Bridger his ipad to settle him down with.  There was no settling down Eliza.  She pounced and danced all over our faces.  Perhaps she had one too many of my signature s'mores.  Then the tent started shaking with the sound of dad's snoring.  Nobody was going to sleep through that.  So at 2am it was decided for the benefit of the other 6, that he was to go sleep in the car.  So that left me and the five kids - four of whom had finally fallen asleep.  Except for that naughty little thing.  She would not even so much as give a long blink.

Bridger also has uneven sleep patterns and as I lay there in the dark I would hear him wake up and go back to sleep.  That is, until I heard his older brother talking to him for some reason.  I said something in the fierce mom whisper that all mom's have, Lance rolled over and went back to sleep.  But his tent mate, thinking it must be morning now, hollered, "BRUDDER, BRUUUDDDDEEERR!" at the top of his lungs that echoed through the entire campground.

3:30 a.m., there I lay with two wiggly ones on either side of me, not having slept a wink.

The climax of misery happened when, at 4 a.m., I heard the car start from the parking lot down the trail.  Alan was freezing.  He finally came into the tent at 4:30 and I groggily welcomed him to join our party and offered a slurred, "happy. . . father's. . . day".  We finally got Bridger and Eliza to sleep around 5:45, woke up at 7 and came home.

Not sure if camping will be in our near future.  Miraculously, all that the other kids remember was mom's amazing s'mores, Alan remembers freezing in the car, and I remember how much I enjoyed Alan's new sleeping bag  - even with its 2 uninvited guests.