Monday, March 21, 2011

Ants don't eat pink plastic princess crowns... and other things I learned on my camping trip.

It all started the middle of last week, which coincidentally was Spring Break week for most of Dallas/Fort Worth schools.  Sophia's preschool was closed, so we had planned for her to spend all five days with her daddy.  However, Trey still had a business to run and because of the warm weather his work was getting busier by the day.  So in an effort to help out, I happily "volunteered" to take a vacation day on Friday and spend it with my daughter.  I checked the weekend weather forecast and saw highs of 80's with lows around 60 for Friday and Saturday so in an effort to take advantage of the beautiful weather and get outside with the kids, I came up with the idea that we should all go camping! 

Trey said GREAT - as long as I would be the one to plan the trip and make the campsite reservations.  Since planning is one of my specialties, I jumped at the chance to make lists: supplies we would need, food we would eat, and activities we could play!  By Thursday afternoon, we had a tent site reserved at a State Park less than an hour away. 

Friday morning I was able to sleep past 6:00 AM (a miracle) and made breakfast for the kids before dropping Tallen off at daycare.  Sophia and I had plans for the day which included going shopping for camping supplies in the morning then working in the garden in the afternoon.  This will be the second year that we will plant a vegetable garden so we needed to prepare the soil in preparation for planting.  Sophia was so excited to help me that she had her gardening gloves on (oh yes, she has her own gloves with Dora the Explorer on them) before I had a chance to put away all of the groceries.  She worked beside me with her own spade and rake but would run away from every bug and worm she found in the dirt, proving once again that she very much my daughter.  In my defense, I only run from spiders and lizards now but Trey still has the appointed title of "insect exterminator" in our house.

After our hard work, Sophia and I cooled off by running through the sprinklers in the backyard then dried off while sitting in the sun, sharing a snack of apples and yogurt dip.  It suddenly hit me that Sophia is old enough now to actually enjoy doing the same activities as me... running, gardening, shopping, cooking, baking.  It is not about me trying to occupy or entertain her anymore, while I run errands or do chores around the house.

Playing with Opa

Our plan was to leave for camping on Saturday morning once I got back from my training run but even with my lists and preparation the night before, it took us almost 1 1/2 hours to get loaded up and ready to go.  During that time, Sophia ran screaming from the car because she saw a bug and Tallen fell while running in the driveway and scraped up his knee to the point that it was bleeding.  Not a great way to start a camping trip.  After stopping by the grandparent's house (who were following us to the campsite and spending the day with us), we were FINALLY on our way. 

Tallen testing his limits by the water

We quickly learned that we need our campsite to be as close to the parking lot as possible - or we need our kids to grow muscles and help us unload the supplies.  It wasn't long though, before we were eating a picnic lunch followed by a walk down to the lake.  Sophia practiced casting on her pink princess fishing rod and Tallen tested his limits by walking as close to the water's edge as possible before actually giving me a heart attack.  It was around this time that I realized that both Tallen and I needed to apply some sunscreen and find some relief from the sun because our pale, fair skin was turning bright pink.  We cooled off in the car while taking a drive around the rest of the park, then headed back to start cooking dinner on the grill.  After eating our hot dogs and roasting marshmallows over the fire, we settled down for a quiet night in the tent... HAHA.  My kids are anything but quiet and that does not change just because we have tent neighbors nearby!  The rest of our trip can be summed up with the following list:

Roasting marshmallows

Things I learned while Camping with my Kids:

1) Packing the car, unpacking the car at the park, repacking the car to go home and unpacking the car at the house are the most stressful parts of the entire trip. 

2)  Sophia is deathly afraid of bugs, especially ants and spiders and ran away crying until one of us (meaning Trey) would find the offensive insect and remove (or preferably kill) it.  This scenario repeated itself at least 3 times every hour. 

3)  Tallen managed to trip and fall over every rock, branch or twig in the vicinity.  He fell approximately 30 times during the trip and face planted in the dirt at least twice.

4)  Ants do not eat pink plastic princess crowns, I promise.  I spent ten minutes convincing Sophia that NO, the ants did not want to eat the pink princess crown on the end of her fishing rod.

5)  A small child + flashlight in her hands = Total hearing loss.  Seriously, once I put a flashlight in Sophia's hands after dark she did not hear/listen to a word I said.  "Stop pointing the flashlight at the other campsite, Shine it on the dishes so I can finish washing them, Stop putting your feet in the water while I am washing dishes, Stop shining that flashlight in your brother's eyes, Stop shining that flashlight in my eyes, Turn off that flashnight NOW!"

6) "Don't touch that" is my new mantra.  We told the kids "Don't touch that" when they got close to the hot grill, prickly bushes, the camping stove, the floor of the restroom, the propane lantern, or the old ashes in the fire ring.

7) Telling the kids it is time for bed and putting them in the tent did NOT mean that they got tired and fell asleep right away. Or get quiet. Or get along. It did guarantee that we had an audience of two peering out at us from the tent while they whined to get out - when all I wanted to do was sit down and drink a beer with my husband. 

8) Giving up and crawling into the tent to try to get them to fall asleep only put me in the middle of the action - Tallen hopping around the tent pretending to be a frog (yelling RIBBIT), while Sophia groaned that she could not read her books in the dark and she REALLY needed the flashlight back (see #5 above). 

9) Camping with my kids under the "Supermoon" meant there was no need for a night light.

10) Snuggling with my kids in the middle of the night was the sweetest, most memorable experience ever.  Watching thier sweet little faces as they slept allowed me to fall in love with both of them again and I realized that camping with my family is FUN.  Until I woke up at 3 AM with a rock poking me in the hip, Sophia's arm poking me in the eye and Tallen laying lengthwise across my pillow so I had no where to put my head. 

Morning at our campsite

My boys in the morning

Bonus:  The ride home after our camping trip guaranteed that both kids got their afternoon naps and I finally got to have a conversation with Trey with peace and quiet in the background.  What did we talk about?  How much we are looking forward to going on another camping trip soon. 

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