Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Take me home...

This weekend we drove out into the Blue Ridge Mountains of Shenandoah National Park. We packed what seemed like the entire house into our car but still managed to forget a lighter, batteries for our flashlights and enough clothing to keep us warm in the cold mountain air. But that didn't stop us from having a great time. 

We went on a couple of hikes - ones that a 2-year-old could tromp through - and camped. Well, we slept in a tent... that we pulled out of our car ten feet away... with bathrooms and electricity 50 feet away... my parents would be ashamed. 

And actually we didn't really sleep. For some reason we figured we would all fit on our queen-sized air mattress - all four of us. Somehow I forgot that at home I can't sleep with ONE child in my queen-sized bed, let alone TWO sideways sleepers, both with strong propensities to knee me in the back every hour or so. Why I thought that in the wilderness, where it was windy and freezing and there are strange noises, my kids would sleep sounder and somehow stiller, is beyond me. Oh, they were crying, kicking, switching places, pulling my hair. At one point I turned and faced Ruby so she would stop yanking on my long strands. Just as I began to drift off to sleep, she punched me in the face. And she was asleep through all of this. I can't even imagine what she was dreaming. When she did wake up, which I am guessing was about 3 a.m., she sat right up. Ryan told her to lie back down. She said forcefully, "I will not do that. I am getting out of this tent." She climbed over Ethan and Ryan, down off the mattress and unzipped the door of the tent. Feeling the cold air rush in, she didn't go outside, but chose to scream at us instead. Ryan, the quick thinker that he is, told Ruby that there were people out there just like Kathy (our neighbor, who used to knock on the wall when Ruby would wake up at night) who would be very unhappy if she woke them up. (Bad parent points for Ryan) She climbed right back in bed next to me. About 20 minutes later, her head was pushing directly into my back.

There I lay, perfectly lined up with the very edge of the mattress, you know, right where the velveteen meets the plastic sides. I was directly on top of one arm (which had fallen asleep from my body's weight), my other arm wrapped around my body as if to hold it up from falling right off onto the cold floor of the tent. 

Strangely, I want to go camping again. The trip was wrought with all sorts of mishaps, including only buying one bushel of firewood and hoping it would last us through the night and into the morning and half-burning our tin foil dinners (do those ever really work?). We ended up foraging for firewood, which actually turned out pretty well. And crunchy Cheetos and a Symphony bar topped off our stomachs.

We were also potty training on this trip since Ruby decided last week that she was ready to go in the toilet. Only she means in her toilet, a little portable blue thing. All I can say is thank goodness we took that thing with us. We did have to tote it into a Potbelly's bathroom on the drive out because she refused to sit on the big potty. That was embarrassing. And about 1/2 mile down into a steep hike she mentioned that she needed to go. I tried to help her go in the forest, you know, tilting her back just right. She would not have it. We knew we needed to get back to the car, which contained that lovely porta-potty, stat. The problem was that turning back meant the hike was now straight up the mountain, and while Ruby runs down mountains (with us holding our breath between crashes), she treads quite slowly up them. We knew we needed to hurry. Ryan offered his shoulders. Ruby is quite particular and refused, then settled on my shoulders. I hiked quickly, trying to keep thoughts of her soaking the back of my neck out of my mind. I was a hot mess when we got up to the top but, guess what? She made it to the potty! In fact, she had zero accidents on that trip.

I know Ethan loved this trip because as I put him into bed (that air mattress) that night, he asked, "Are we going to sleep over here again tomorrow?"
I answered, "No."
He didn't even hesitate to say, "Well it will still be the best day of my life."
I think his favorite part of the following day was when he hit a baseball with his bat and it landed right into the cup holder of his camp chair. He was thrilled and called it his "best hit ever." He is not one to shy away from sweeping statements. And his new thing is to do something crazy with his hands whenever I point the camera at him. Funniest kid ever!

Ryan and I spent all of this time without our phones, the Internet, the television and all of the other things that suck us in every day. After the kids went down, we just sat around the campfire and talked. I am going to go ahead and pull an Ethan and say this was the best family camping trip ever!

 Yes, that is chocolate on her face from the drive. Bad parent points for me.

 The chocolate is still there several hours and an outfit change later. The bad parent points are piling up.

We found her in the car with the Chex Mix.

Ryan cooked this awesome breakfast over the fire. How's that for a tenderfoot?


RiBI said...

Laughed the entire way through that! I wish we could camp together this summer! Maybe next summer.

RiBI said...

that was McKenzie, not Ryan. FYI

robin said...

Tell Ethan that his Las Vegas cousins are giving him a thumbs up for the Transformer t-shirt. (:

Artsy Aut said...

I loved this post! So much funny stuff! We will go camping together when we move back. Then we can throw all the kids in one tent and get a "good" nights sleep.

nancy said...

So fun!