I will say we had wonderful company, had a fun trip to the ice cream place, and played some fun games...but wait...none of those things have anything to do with camping! Drat.
You might be wondering why in the world we would ever have gone again considering our shady camping past. Well, I blame the rest of you people. "Camping is so wonderful...please try it again!" "You must've just gone with some boring people before!" (All my friends from the previous post are offended by you new friends now.) "You just haven't picked the right place to camp...that's it!" And on and on it went...until we finally gave in. Trust me, I put it off as long as humanly possible, short of never going again in my lifetime..which is, by the way, my current plan.
SO...roughly 3 years ago...I'm fuzzy on exact dates because I've happily allowed the details to blur...we agreed to yet another camping adventure. We had all 4 kids at this point, and we joined some longtime family friends with 5 kids, Tim and Michelle Svoboda. Just take a minute and ponder the level of sanity involved in such a decision...not very high. Oh yea...and both families had new puppies that we had to bring along. Let's just say they didn't appreciate sharing the spotlight.
I just need to insert here that I had gone to extreme measures not to pass on my own hatred of all-things-camping to my children. I pretended to be super excited when buying daddy an awesome tent for Father's Day...I can assure you it was NOT a 2-man tent. I gathered multiple sleeping bags from family and friends...although there wasn't a chance of me getting into one of those death traps. I even planned this fun adventure with our friends to show that I was a bigger person for doing something that I detested for the greater joy of the family! See?!? Extreme measures.
Not to be outwitted by the camping powers-that-be, we met every problem head on! We would camp at the Svoboda family farm where Tim's grandparents lived...within walking distance to the house...which contained the bathrooms...and beds, if I couldn't hack it. The boys would sleep in a massive tent; the girls would sleep in a "pop up." We brought plenty of food to cover all the meals so no one would get hurt. We would be camping at the edge of civility...just enough to "enjoy" the adventure but not lose our minds. At least that was the plan.
You can imagine the drama and nonsense of keeping all 9 children and 2 dogs in line, out of the house, off of the tractors, etc, etc. It was the full-time activity of the weekend. The hike was too long...the hike was too boring...the hike lost a kid or two...blah, blah, blah. No, you can't swing the dog by the tail to see what happens...no, you can't hit your brother in the head with the football...no, we can't go back home (that one may or may not have been said to a child)...yada, yada, yada.
I wasn't kidding that the ice cream was a major highlight...very yummo! It was also fun spending time with Tim's grandparents...two very special people that are enjoying their new mansions with Jesus now...was blessed to have had the privilege to make some memories with them! Incidentally, there's NO CAMPING IN HEAVEN!!! Mansions, people...not tents! C'mon!!! Sorry...moving on...
In spite of all the chaos, we really did enjoy our time together...partly out of sheer determination! :) When we split for the night, Michelle, Landry, and I decided we wanted to play games while the younger girls fell asleep. This proved to be more than a little tricky as the game of choice was Farkle (dice); we were in a small pop up with curtains dividing our little areas; and we had to use flashlights to light up the "game table." We made it fun but spent the majority of the time trying to get the other 3 girls asleep. We gave up finally after one too many, "...but I can still see your little light, Mommy...what IS that little light, Mommy...can I see your light, Mommy..."
I can't explain, or even comprehend, the temperature shift that happened, but let me tell you...very little sleeping went on in the pop up! The wind was blowing so violently, the noise was ridiculous! We swayed back and forth so much, I really thought we would tip eventually. And the chill...oh my...it. was. cold. All of that got even better when someone had to go potty in the middle of the night....outside...in the cold...with a "don't let the boys see!!!" shrieking....and my favorite, "where's the toilet paper, mommy?".
...mommy's not here right now...she's sitting in a hot tub...in a HOTEL...call back later.
The next morning, the boys all but called us liars when we talked about the temperature and the wind...somehow we froze, and they were sweating the whole night. Go figure.